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Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Keltner Lists ‘04 - Part 2 of 5

Will looks at the HoF qualifications of Bob Tewksbury, Danny Darwin, and Doug Drabek

Doug Drabek, Danny Darwin, and Bob Tewksbury combined for about ten seasons of excellent pitching.  However, they also combined for a lot of seasons of mediocre pitching.  Of the three pitchers, Tewksbury?s 1992 season was the best individual season while Drabek had the best peak from 1989-94.  Darwin, on the other hand, clearly had the edge in longevity as his career spawned more than twenty seasons.


  1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?
  2. Neither Bob Tewksbury nor Danny Darwin ever finished in the Top 10 of an MVP vote.  Doug Drabek finished eighth in 1990.  Unfortunately for these three pitchers, I have been unable to find any archived Jayson Stark columns so I am fairly confident that none of the three were ever considered the best player in baseball.

  3. Was he the best player on his team?
  4. Bob Tewksbury had a fantastic 1992 season, but Ray Lankford was the best player on the Cardinals that season.  In Doug Drabek?s two best seasons, 1990 and 1994, he was a teammate of the National League MVPs; thus, he never was the best player on his team.  Danny Darwin was the best player on the 1990 Houston Astros (11-4, 2.21 ERA in 162.2 innings, leading the National League in WHIP, ERA and fewest walks per 9 innings) and the 1993 Boston Red Sox (15-11, 3.26 ERA in 229.1 innings and the best WHIP in the American League). 

  5. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?
  6. Doug Drabek won the National League Cy Young Award in 1990, but Roger Clemens was very clearly the best pitcher in baseball that year (even if the AL Cy Young voters disagreed).  In fact, Doug Drabek was not even the best pitcher in the National League in 1990 - both he and Frank Viola finished the season with 20 Win Shares, but Viola threw 20 more innings with a better ERA, better ERA+, and a higher strikeout rate.  However, the voters awarded Drabek the Cy Young.  The most likely reasons were because his team finished four games better than Viola?s Mets in the standings and because Drabek had two more wins.


    Bob Tewksbury finished third in the National League Cy Young voting in 1992.  Greg Maddux threw 35 more innings with a much lower ERA, a higher ERA+ and better strikeout rate and was pretty clearly the best pitcher in the league.


    Danny Darwin never received a single Cy Young vote in his career.

  7. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?
  8. Doug Drabek was considered the ace of the Pirates staff during their three-year run atop the NL East from 1990-92.  In 1990, he went 9-2 with 6 complete games in the last two months of the season to help propel the Pirates past the Mets.  His 13-2 record after the All-Star Break in 1990 earned him the Cy Young Award and pushed the Pirates into the playoffs. 


    In the postseason, Drabek had terrible luck as he ended his career with a 2-5 record despite a 2.05 ERA in 48.1 innings.  He took a shutout into the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 1992 National League Championship Series before loading the bases and watching as Stan Belinda allowed Francisco Cabrera?s memorable single scoring Sid Bream and sending the Braves back to the World Series.


    Danny Darwin was acquired by the Houston Astros on August 15, 1986 while they held a five game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the National League West.  Darwin went 5-2 with a 2.32 ERA down the stretch as the Astros ended up winning the division by ten games.  In 1989 the Astros were just one game out of first place as August began, but faded down the stretch and finished in third place.  Darwin was pitching in relief during 1989 and had 2.88 ERA in 33.1 innings in August and September. 


    Darwin was also acquired by the San Francisco Giants at the trade deadline in 1997 as part of the White Sox "White Flag" trade.  In just ten appearances with the Giants he had virtually no impact on their pennant race with the Dodgers as he threw just 44 innings with an 84 ERA+.


    Bob Tewksbury was a member of just one pennant race during his career.  In 1996, he was a member of the San Diego Padres team that was battling the Los Angeles Dodgers for the National League West title.  During August and September, Tewksbury struggled as he went 1-4 with a 4.94 ERA in 58.1 innings pitched. 


    However, he redeemed himself on the very last day of the season.  With the Dodgers and Padres sporting identical 90-71 records, Tewksbury took the mound against Ramon Martinez in what was effectively a one-game playoff.  Tewksbury pitched seven shutout innings in the game that the Padres would eventually win 2-0 in eleven innings.  The victory put the Padres in the playoffs and knocked the Dodgers out of at least a share of first place for the first time in nineteen days.

  9. Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?
  10. Danny Darwin hung on a lot longer than a typical pitcher with his strikeout rates.  While he struck out 8.5/9 innings as a 24 year-old in 1980, his next highest rate in his career was 7.7/9 as a full-time relief pitcher in 1989.  However, despite a strikeout rate that was frequently below 6.0/9 innings, he managed to effectively pitch until he was 41 when he posted a 99 ERA+ in 157.1 innings with the Giants and White Sox.


    Like Darwin, Bob Tewksbury was not given a full-time spot in a starting rotation until he was 29.  However, he was pretty consistently at or just above league average until he retired at the age of 37.  In his final four seasons he had ERA+ of: 102, 93, 111, 98.  However, Tewksbury also suffered from nagging injuries and topped 170 innings just once in those for seasons.


    Doug Drabek had virtually the exact opposite career path of Tewksbury as he was a member of a Major League starting rotation at the age of 23 but was washed up within a decade.  Drabek?s final year with an ERA+ over 100 was 1994, and his ERAs in his final two seasons were 5.74 and 7.29.  After averaging 237.3 innings a season from 1988-1993, Drabek averaged just 160.2 in his final five seasons.

  11. Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the Hall of Fame?
  12. Nope.

  13. Are most players who have comparable career statistics in the Hall of Fame?
  14. There is not a single player on any of these three pitcher?s most comparable lists that is in the Hall of Fame.  The current players that are similar are all pitchers that will all fall short of the Hall of Fame such as Brad Radke, Shane Reynolds, and Kevin Appier.

  15. Do the player’s numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?
  16. Doug Drabek scored the highest on the Hall of Fame standards with 21 and the Hall of Fame monitor with 35, but he stills fall well short of the standards.  Darwin scored 20 and 28, respectively while Tewksbury lagged behind with scores of 10 and 11.

  17. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?
  18. Doug Drabek benefited greatly from spending his entire career pitching in pitcher?s parks.  Despite pitching for five different teams, he never pitched in a stadium that favored hitters.  Here are the park factors for his home stadium in every year of his career: 98, 101, 99, 96, 95, 97, 98, 96, 94, 92, 91, 96, 97.  Pitching in these stadiums helped artificially lower his ERA throughout his career.


    Danny Darwin called so many stadiums home that he covered the spectrum from both extreme hitters? parks (Fenway in the early 1990s) to good pitchers? parks like the Astrodome.


    Bob Tewksbury?s home stadiums also played fairly neutral throughout his career.

  19. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but not in?
  20. Bert Blyleven is better than all three of them.

  21. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?
  22. Doug Drabek finished eighth in the National League MVP voting in 1990, but was behind two other teammates.  He had several other years that were just as good, but none of them were ever MVP-worthy.  Bob Tewksbury?s 1992 season seems like it would jump at MVP voters but he did not get a single vote, and did not really deserve one anyone.  In short, these three players combined never produced a season worth an MVP award.

  23. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the other players who played in this many go into the Hall of Fame?
  24. Danny Darwin never played in an All-Star Game but he deserved to go as the Red Sox? representative in 1993 over Scott Cooper. 


    Bob Tewksbury was on the 1992 All-Star team, and was passed over as a fringe candidate in 1993.


    Doug Drabek seemed to be the Tim Salmon of his generation as his 1989, 1990 and 1992 seasons were all worthy of being chosen to the All-Star game but ignored.  Finally, in 1994, Drabek was chosen to his first, and only, All-Star team.  Obviously most players with just one All-Star game have not been enshrined in Cooperstown.  It would be very interesting, however, to find out why Drabek was only chosen once.

  25. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?
  26. A team with Doug Drabek as its best player would have an outside shot of sneaking into a pennant if the conditions were right, but it is very doubtful that he would ordinarily be able to pitch a team to the playoffs.  A few teams had Danny Darwin as its best player and the results were ugly.  Likewise, a team led by Bob Tewksbury would probably never qualify for post-season.

  27. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?
  28. At one point in his career, Doug Drabek was the highest paid pitcher in the National League.  However, so was Alex Fernandez.  Besides that nifty fact, Drabek did not have a big historical impact.

    In 1997, Danny Darwin was briefly a teammate of his younger brother Jeff Darwin with the Chicago White Sox.  This fascinated me because Darwin had been in the league for twenty seasons, but his brother was just in his third (and last) season of his brief Major League career.


    Finally, Bob Tewksbury brought the Eephus pitch back from the dead during his two-year stint with the Minnesota Twins.  Once or twice each start, Tewksbury would throw a curveball in the low FORTIES as the ultimate hit-me pitch.  In two different at-bats Mark McGwire weakly grounded out after taking a mighty cut against Tewksbury?s softly thrown pitch during his record-breaking 1998 season.

  29. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

As far as I can tell, none of these players were ever involved in any scandals or hurt the integrity or character of the game in any way. 



It is fairly clear that none of these three players should ever be inducted to the Hall of Fame.  However, after totaling their credentials, each of them qualified for less than half of the Keltner List categories despite my generosity.  I would be surprised if any of these three stay on the ballot for more than two years.


WillYoung Posted: January 06, 2004 at 05:00 AM | 2 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. OCF Posted: January 06, 2004 at 03:03 AM (#614329)
To some, doing Keltner lists for players who will clearly never be seriously considered for the Hall of Fame may seem a waste of time, but I would encourage more of it. It gives us a chance to celebrate what was special about players, even if they won't pass stringent tests of greatness.

In 1992, Bob Tewksbury posted a fabulous ERA (ERA+ 157) despite allowing an opposition batting average that must have been about .240 (in a .252 league). The next year, his opposition batting average was far above league - somewhere near .290 in a .264 league - and he still managed an ERA+ of 102. Let that be a lesson to a developing pitcher: there is still, and will always be, great virtue in never walking anyone.
   2. Dr. Vaux Posted: January 06, 2004 at 03:03 AM (#614344)
It's worth noting that in 1996 the Padres and Dodgers had both clinched at least the wildcard by that final game, so Tewksburry's win didn't "put" the Padres in the playoffs. Still, I enjoy this sort of thing very much, as a celebration of what was special in the careers of non HOF players.

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