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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Kawakami: Is Tim Lincecum on Hall of Fame path?

Cooperstown path? A Glimmerglass of hope.

I know Stats Guys hate using wins as a measure of anything, but in Hall of Fame discussion it’s a good way to canvass a starting pitcher’s full breadth of a career—did he last, was he durable, did he have individual success just on a W-L basis?

Wins and losses absolutely ARE NOT the singular way to judge a pitcher’s career, but it’s a way to begin the discussion. In my opinion. The Stats Club is free to hate it.

However you look at it, Lincecum basically has had a career peak of two clear HOF-level seasons—2008 and 2009—when he was notably at the top of the sport, with WARs (wins above replacement) of 7.9 and 7.5.

But in no other season has he posted a WAR of better than 4.2 (which happened in 2011).

That is a very high peak period, but, as we will see, it’s not a very long peak period, when you’re talking about Cooperstown credentials.

According to Baseball-Reference.com, the average for a Hall of Fame pitcher is a 73.4 career WAR. ... and 50.2 for a 7-year peak WAR, which I will repeat throughout this list just to keep the frame of reference.

...SUMMARY

If Gooden, Saberhagen and Valenzuela barely registered in HOF voting, and if Morris never got in ... it’s hard for me to see Lincecum as anything close to Cooperstown-credentialed unless and until he puts up two or three more very strong seasons.

Or throws two or three more no-hitters.

Repoz Posted: June 28, 2014 at 03:41 AM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hof

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   1. Bhaakon Posted: June 28, 2014 at 03:50 AM (#4737888)
How many no-hitters would he have to throw to get in if he's never again more than a 4th starter?

10? 15?
   2. Scott Lange Posted: June 28, 2014 at 06:52 AM (#4737895)
I would take him seriously at six, and very seriously at seven. But, I love no-hitters.
   3. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: June 28, 2014 at 06:54 AM (#4737896)
No. He's been sub-replacement level for three years now.
   4. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: June 28, 2014 at 07:33 AM (#4737899)
Um...no?
   5. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: June 28, 2014 at 09:10 AM (#4737909)
Next up: Is Brandon Crawford on a Hall of Fame path?
   6. JE (Jason) Posted: June 28, 2014 at 09:16 AM (#4737913)
I would take him seriously at six, and very seriously at seven.

Thanks, LeBron.
   7. base ball chick Posted: June 28, 2014 at 10:28 AM (#4737924)
he could throw 10 no hitters and if he doesn't have the W or the ERA, or the K/BB rate he's not going into the HOF

nolan ryan got in because of the Ks and Teh Fear and 300 W - not because of the no hitters
   8. John Northey Posted: June 28, 2014 at 10:33 AM (#4737926)
He is in his age 30 season, 8 years into his career. 95 wins is a low total at this stage for a HOF'er who appears to have already had his peak. Generally, unless you are winning Cy's for multiple years in a row and have a heck of a story, you need over 200 wins to get seriously considered and 250+ for voters to pay close attention. Lincecum has the advantage of being a character with a storyline who won 2 Cy's in a row, big pluses for voters. He strikes them out a lot, has led in complete games at one time, was a top pitcher on a WS winner and pitched well in the playoffs. All pluses that help voters find an excuse to vote for him if he is marginal on career stats. However, right now he is at the stage of 'great pitcher but not HOF'. He needs another few HOF type seasons (top 3 in Cy voting type, ideally getting 20 wins at some point). If he hangs on for a decade and averages 10-12 wins a year he won't make the hall as he'd be around 200 wins but as a mediocre pitcher for a long time (by then) who never won 20 in a season (many voters would hold that against him big time even with 2 Cy's and in a marginal case as he'd have that could be a killer).

As to the no-no's, if he broke Ryan's record I suspect that would be enough to move quite a few voters over to him, enough to make it? Probably as no one has come close to the 7 no hitters (4 is next highest by Koufax, no one else has more than 3) so getting 8 would stand out and make a lot of voters go '2 Cy's, 8 no-no's, good enough for me'.
   9. cardsfanboy Posted: June 28, 2014 at 11:31 AM (#4737940)
As to the no-no's, if he broke Ryan's record I suspect that would be enough to move quite a few voters over to him, enough to make it? Probably as no one has come close to the 7 no hitters (4 is next highest by Koufax, no one else has more than 3) so getting 8 would stand out and make a lot of voters go '2 Cy's, 8 no-no's, good enough for me


The thing is, for him to have a chance to accumulate those no hitters, he would have to be a better pitcher over the next decade than he has just to get a job. 5 more no hitters in 7 years would probably mean he has to produce at around a 95 era+ in that time frame, and meaning he'll probably notch up close to another 100 wins.
   10. JRVJ Posted: June 28, 2014 at 12:33 PM (#4738007)
These HoF articles are getting out of hand, IMO.

We already had one on Trout and now one on Lincecum. When are we getting one on Machado and G. Cole?
   11. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: June 28, 2014 at 01:19 PM (#4738082)
I, myself, have been on the Hall of Fame Path about 4 times. Each time I reached into my wallet and paid for admission, as will TImmeh, barring an unprecedented career path.
   12. puck Posted: June 28, 2014 at 01:49 PM (#4738140)
If Lincecum keeps throwing no hitters without recovering at least some of his overall dominance (I mean, at least get above 100 ERA+), I think that would make things much worse for his reputation. People would always be talking about how he has the talent and turns in so many poor starts.
   13. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: June 28, 2014 at 02:23 PM (#4738205)
How many no-hitters would he have to throw to get in if he's never again more than a 4th starter?

That depends. Are they all against the Padres?

We already had one on Trout and now one on Lincecum.

I have no problem with discussing Trout as a future HOFer -- he's clearly on that path even if it's very early. Lincecum's more on track to be out of MLB in a few years. Barring a return to being an above-average starter, his best bet to make the Hall is probably to become an ace closer and rack up 250-300 saves over the next decade. EDIT: I'm not saying he could actually do that, of course.
   14. Curse of the Andino Posted: June 28, 2014 at 02:47 PM (#4738294)
I think, unless he pulls an Eckersley and becomes an outstanding reliever, there's no chance of it.
   15. Ziggy Posted: June 28, 2014 at 03:04 PM (#4738383)
Yeah, he's on a path to be out of baseball after next season. A 76 ERA+ doesn't do it. He's actually below replacement level now. (Barely, it's true, but nobody gets a chance to be far below replacement.) In fact, I suspect he'd be gone already if not for the $18m he's owed next year.

I seem to remember some good relief performances in the post season a couple years ago. Maybe he really should try that.
   16. Walt Davis Posted: June 28, 2014 at 04:14 PM (#4738418)
The closer idea is interesting. It's not hard to see him being successful in that role with a boost to the K-rate.

And as I said in the other thread, I don't expect it but I wouldn't be shocked if he recovered into a Jenkins type of pitcher -- good Ks, good control, more HRs than you'd like -- but that would require him developing good control.

Barring injury, Lincecum will keep getting chances but it will be on NRIs or maybe Liriano-style contracts unless he gets it turned around before the end of next year. (Remember, even Prior kept getting invites.) If Kazmir can bounce back, if Moyer can become a consistently good pitcher at 33, if an alcoholic Eck can reinvent himself as dominant closer then it's too soon to completely write off Lincecum.
   17. PreservedFish Posted: June 28, 2014 at 04:24 PM (#4738421)
The problem with the closer thing is that his biggest problem appears to be pitching with runners on base.
   18. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: June 28, 2014 at 04:34 PM (#4738437)

Barring injury, Lincecum will keep getting chances but it will be on NRIs or maybe Liriano-style contracts unless he gets it turned around before the end of next year. (Remember, even Prior kept getting invites.)

Scott Erickson is the perfect example of this to me. The guy had a 7.87 ERA at age 32, and yet five different teams gave him opportunities to pitch in the majors until he was 38 (despite never having a season with an ERA below 5.55 after that point). And Erickson was never as good as peak Freak (very few pitchers have been).

   19. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 28, 2014 at 04:39 PM (#4738444)
he could throw 10 no hitters and if he doesn't have the W or the ERA, or the K/BB rate he's not going into the HOF

Yeah, I don't think there's any number of no-hitters that should make up for a non-HoF career.

If you throw 3 no-hitters a year with a 75 ERA+ you're going to be out of baseball. If a guy with a career 100 ERA+ somehow managed to throw 20 no-hitters, he still wouldn't belong in Cooperstown.
   20. PreservedFish Posted: June 28, 2014 at 05:18 PM (#4738475)
If a guy with a career 100 ERA+ somehow managed to throw 20 no-hitters, he still wouldn't belong in Cooperstown.

But he'd be awfully fun to watch. Or excruciating.
   21. Ziggy Posted: June 28, 2014 at 05:39 PM (#4738495)
Looking over Scott Erickson reminded me of something I've never quite understood. Here's his draft history:

June 2, 1986: Drafted by the New York Mets in the 36th round of the 1986 amateur draft, but did not sign.
June 2, 1987: Drafted by the Houston Astros in the 34th round of the 1987 amateur draft, but did not sign.
June 1, 1988: Drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 44th round of the 1988 amateur draft, but did not sign.
June 5, 1989: Drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 4th round of the 1989 amateur draft. Player signed June 25, 1989.

(From B-R)

If you are drafted in the 44th round, your team doesn't have any plans (or even daydreams) about you becoming a major leaguer. You are purely there to fill out a minor league roster. That's why guys drafted in the 44th round don't sign. What I want to know is how you can possibly go from "we need a guy to soak up some innings in low-A until we cut him before next year's draft" to "this guy stands a good chance at being a major league ball player" in one year in college? That's what puzzles me.

Guys like Appel I get. He was drafted in the 15th round out of high school (still much better than Erickson), and then in the 1st round out of college. But he had three years to impress scouts, to build muscles, etc. But what is it that scouts saw in 1989 that made Erickson a prospect which they didn't see in 1988, when he was an afterthought?
   22. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 28, 2014 at 05:46 PM (#4738504)
But what is it that scouts saw in 1989 that made Erickson a prospect which they didn't see in 1988, when he was an afterthought?

Maybe they all knew he wanted to finish college, so no one would waste a high pick before that.
   23. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: June 28, 2014 at 05:47 PM (#4738505)
He transferred to Arizona and blew away the Pac-10, I think is what happened. Before that he'd been stomping around the California community college circuit, obviously playing against guys who couldn't test him.
   24. PreservedFish Posted: June 28, 2014 at 05:56 PM (#4738511)
That draft pattern seems very common. The supposed subject of this thread had the same exact thing happen:

June 3, 2003: Drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 48th round of the 2003 amateur draft, but did not sign.
June 7, 2005: Drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 42nd round of the 2005 amateur draft, but did not sign.
June 6, 2006: Drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 1st round (10th pick) of the 2006 amateur draft. Player signed June 30, 2006.
   25. Ziggy Posted: June 28, 2014 at 06:45 PM (#4738534)
Good call Mr. Fish. And it's even stranger in Timmy's case, since he didn't transfer. (And maybe Lincecum and/or Erickson really wanted to finish college, but, I have a hard time seeing passing up millions of dollars (in Timmy's case) and pro ball to do it. Especially since it'll be there when you get back.)
   26. Swedish Chef Posted: June 28, 2014 at 07:19 PM (#4738549)
I suspect he'd be gone already if not for the $18m he's owed next year.

Pitchers like Kazmir and Colon have gotten chances after sucking for a couple of years.

Hell, Mark Prior continued to be signed for 7 years after he threw his last MLB inning.

With all the flotsam and jetsam in the low-end pitcher market, a once-good pitcher will get a chance from somebody, because the other guys aren't any better and they don't have that tantalizing chance of a rebound.
   27. Walt Davis Posted: June 28, 2014 at 08:51 PM (#4738576)
so no one would waste a high pick before that.

Sure but picks stop being high LONG before the 40th round. If I thought a guy had almost any chance of developing into an average MLer, I'd almost certainly pick him before the 40th round. I'd have to be totally convinced he was returning to college or would return to college unless I gave him a nice bonus to wait that long.

June 3, 2003: Drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 48th round of the 2003 amateur draft, but did not sign.

Checking to see if maybe Timmeh had been drafted as a position player, I was surprised to see that two other guys drafted that round (one signed, one not) also made the majors. Disappointed to see that a guy with the great name Lance Zawadzki made the majors but I never knew about it.
   28. Walt Davis Posted: June 28, 2014 at 08:52 PM (#4738579)
If a guy with a career 100 ERA+ somehow managed to throw 20 no-hitters, he still wouldn't belong in Cooperstown.

But if one of them was a Game 7 of the WS, he just might make it.
   29. PreservedFish Posted: June 28, 2014 at 10:48 PM (#4738614)
If a guy with a career 100 ERA+ somehow managed to throw 20 no-hitters, he still wouldn't belong in Cooperstown.


This guy could be on the extreme end of the argument that character/personality/story/importance/etc are also major considerations. Assuming it wasn't just an unbelievably large fluke. Nolan Ryan had 2.7 "expected no hitters," according to Bill James, which doubles Walter Johnson, and every other pitcher (at least of 2004). To more than double Ryan, this guy would have pitched many thousands of innings, had the lowest hit rate of all time and an extraordinary K rate, and if his ERA+ stayed at 100 he must have been the all time world leader in BBs. I'm imagining Steve Dalkowski with the endurance of Warren Spahn. I might vote for him.
   30. Lassus Posted: June 28, 2014 at 11:11 PM (#4738619)
I'm sorry to tell you lot, but if Lincecum throws eight more no-hitters, no matter how much you all scream and rend garments, he's going to be in the HOF. I mean, he's not going to throw them, but if he did, he's going to be voted in.

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