About five minutes after Atlanta Braves pitcher Tim Hudson‘s 200th victory was in the books Tuesday night discussion turned to the topic of whether or not winning 200 big-league games now automatically qualifies a pitcher for inclusion in the Hall of Fame.
The argument advanced is that baseball is in a different era and 200 wins now may be equal to 300 wins of the past and up until Roger Clemens got the cold shoulder for reasons other than his statistics in this year’s vote 300 wins made you a lock for the Hall.
Hudson, an 8-1 victor over the Washington Nationals, also hit a home run in the game, not something he is prone to do. Up until the first comment uttered aloud about Hudson, his name and the words Hall of Fame had never occurred in the same thought for me. And right now I’m thinking he still has a way to go to impress me sufficiently to believe he belongs.
I do not believe 200 is the new 300. No way. Talk to me about this again in several years and by then maybe I’ll grudgingly go along with 250 or 270. While compiling wins is paramount for a starter numerous other things must be taken into account, from earned run average to strikeouts, complete games and the like. Hudson’s ERA is 3.42.
There are several pitchers in the Hall of Fame that won fewer than 215 games, including Chief Bender, 212, Don Drysdale, 209, Ed Walsh, 195, Lefty Gomez, 189, Sandy Koufax, 165, and Dizzy Dean, 150. This tells us that not reaching 200 wins doesn’t automatically keep a guy out of the Hall.
Hudson became the 110th pitcher in baseball history with 200 wins and something I read said that represents barely more than 1 one percent of all pitchers who have thrown in the big leagues. That’s an impressive stat. Another impressive stat that I really had no idea about is Hudson’s winning percentage of .656.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound, 37-year-old right-hander has a career record of 200-105 in parts of 15 Major League seasons. He has won 20 games only once, but has reached at least 15 wins seven other times. Then throw in five more seasons with at least 11 wins and there is a better case for Hudson than I thought, though it wouldn’t hurt him to rack up another 30 wins before he wraps things up.
However, although we can name great pitchers with fewer wins that are in the Hall, there are also some pretty darned good pitchers who won a lot of games that are not in the Hall. Most notable among them are Tommy John with 288 wins and Jim Kaat with 283. Let’s not forget soon-to-be-eligible Mike Mussina with 270 and Jamie Moyer with 269. And Jack Morris is facing his last year of eligibility on the ballot with 254 wins.
If the mindset is going to change about what it takes for a starting pitcher to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, I think it’s more important that voters give more value to what some relief pitchers have accomplished in compiling hundreds of saves. Lee Smith (478 saves) shrieks for inclusion, ranking ahead of many starting pitchers in terms of achievement and longevity.
Really, though, what the inclusion of Sandy Koufax and Dizzy Dean in the Hall of Fame, coupled with the thus-far exclusion of Tommy John and Jim Kaat, shows is that there is no automatic number of wins to gain entrance, but as it should be, each case is considered on the singular merits of the individual.