Oct 15, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) throws against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning in game three of the American League Championship Series baseball game at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

With Win Totals Diminishing, How Will Pitchers Make it Into the Hall?

Pitchers aren’t racking up wins like they used to. How will this change HOF voting?

The MLB Hall of Fame is arguably the toughest honor to earn in professional sports. It requires a great, long career that has to compare or exceed other players throughout the game’s history.

Although many of the game’s rules remain the same, the way that managers and trainers operate has evolved tremendously. This is especially true for pitchers. The staple number of wins for a pitcher was 300. That number was a guarantee for pitchers to get into the hall.

This year’s Hall of Fame ballot may be exhibiting two of the last pitchers to achieve 300 wins in Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. Randy Johnson is not on the ballot yet with his 303 wins but surely will be in the future. Obviously not every pitcher that has made it into the Hall of Fame got 300 wins, but pitchers this day in age are not getting as many wins as guys who played in the past.

This is a result of managers and doctors keeping a close eye on their pitchers and making sure they are staying healthy. Back when Cy Young and Walter Johnson were playing pitchers would throw on fewer days rest and were more inclined to throw complete games than the pitchers of today. With pitchers now throwing every fifth day and monitoring their innings and pitch count, pitchers are throwing less often thus lowering the number of chances to get wins during the season.

So how will pitchers that play in the current era stack up when their time comes on the ballot? The average stats of pitchers that are in the Hall of Fame are 251 wins with a 2.96 ERA and 3788 IP. There are no pitchers currently playing that are within 40 wins of 251. The closest players are C.C Sabathia and Tim Hudson with 205 wins as they go into their age 32 and 37 seasons respectively.

Guys who are still on the young side that have good numbers as far as wins are 30-year-old Justin Verlander with 137 wins and 29-year-old Felix Hernandez with 110. It is highly unlikely that these guys will end up with 300 wins but maybe if they can stay healthy and productive they can come close to the average mark of 251.

With all this in mind, how should the baseball writers vote for Hall of Fame pitchers as guys going on the ballot have fewer and fewer wins? One thing helping pitchers in this respect is the fact that sabermetrics and those who follow them are opening fans’ eyes as far as the unimportance of the win stat and how it does not truly measure the greatness of a pitcher.

As the years go on it would not be surprising to see voters look more into things like ERA, WAR, and strikeout ratios a lot more than wins. It seems that as the game is changing, things that reflect on the history of baseball like the Hall of Fame are going to have to start changing with it.

Tags: Hall Of Fame

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