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Friday, March 19, 2021

Jacob deGrom Might Be Blazing His Way To Cooperstown

You’re probably already familiar with the general contours of that list, but it can be summarized thusly: Every pitcher who has won three Cy Youngs or more is in the Hall of Fame except Clemens — whose connection to performance-enhancing drugs has stalled his candidacy — and the two active pitchers, while the majority who have won “only” two are outside the Hall, a situation that’s not likely to change until five years after Verlander retires. He’s a lock, having surpassed the 200-win and 3,000-strikeout milestones (he has 226 wins and 3,013 strikeouts), and nearly reached the starting pitcher JAWS standard of 61.6 (his 60.9 is the active lead), though he’ll have to wait until his return from Tommy John surgery to finish that pursuit.

As for the active three-timers, Kershaw is almost certainly on his way to Cooperstown, having pitched himself within range of 200 wins (he has 175), 3,000 strikeouts (he has 2,526) and the JAWS standard (he has 59.7). Scherzer has 175 wins as well; he’s closer to 3,000 strikeouts (2,784) but a bit behind in JAWS (55.4). Both have huge Hall of Fame Monitor scores — 199 for Kerhsaw, 154 for Scherzer, where 100 is “a good possibility” and 130 “a virtual cinch” — that only stand to increase once they hit those round numbers.

From among the two-time winners, what separates Verlander, Gibson, Glavine, and Perry from the others is longevity; they all blew past 3,000 innings save for Velander, who’s 12 shy. Lincecum and McLain didn’t even reach 2,000 innings before fading away, and Santana barely cleared that bar, with Saberhagen (2,562.1) and Halladay (2,749.1) coming closer; the latter is the only one from that quintet to reach 200 wins, no mean feat in that small amount of time even if you don’t particularly care about the stat. He’s also the only one from that quintet who’s in the Hall.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 19, 2021 at 09:08 AM | 74 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: jacob degrom

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   1. Baldrick Posted: March 19, 2021 at 10:40 AM (#6009202)
38 WAR and only 70 'wins.' That ratio feels impossible, even in our new world. If he continues on anything at all like this path for another five or six years, it will be a serious test of just how much HOF attitudes have changed.
   2. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 19, 2021 at 10:47 AM (#6009203)
38 WAR and only 70 'wins.' That ratio feels impossible
Tell that to the Mets’ hitters.
   3. SoSH U at work Posted: March 19, 2021 at 10:51 AM (#6009207)
As for the active three-timers, Kershaw is almost certainly on his way to Cooperstown,


Almost?
   4. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: March 19, 2021 at 11:26 AM (#6009213)
Tell that to the Mets’ hitters.

Don't forget Met relievers as well.

Jacob has HOF peak certainly but it is hard to be HOFer when you don't make it to the big leagues until you are 26.
   5. The Duke Posted: March 19, 2021 at 12:05 PM (#6009226)
HOF cases are made in your 30s generally when people start to pile up counting stats. If Degrom pulls off another Cy young and has out years projected by Zips he will get in. Those are two really big “ifs”. If he’s going to win another Cy it will need to be in the next two years before he declines too much. We’ll know soon enough. He’ll benefit from weak competition as well.
   6. Howie Menckel Posted: March 19, 2021 at 12:31 PM (#6009228)
it is hard to be HOFer when you don't make it to the big leagues until you are 26.

a list of "Most Wins by Pitchers Before Age 26" juxtaposed with a list of games won to that point by Hall of Fame starting pitchers is pretty shocking stuff.

Phil Niekro had 0 wins, Warren Spahn had 8 wins (all at age 25), to list two examples.

HOFer Dazzy Vance won his first game at age 31.
   7. SandyRiver Posted: March 19, 2021 at 12:45 PM (#6009231)
Of course, Spahn spent most of his age 22-24 years in Europe. One can wonder what his career would've looked like without WW2 - would his arm have crashed in 1961 instead of 64? Would he have approached Walter Johnson's win total and have been 2nd only to Cy Young for IP? (Like imagining Teddy Ballgame with 3300 hits, 700 hr and 2400 rbi if he was in MLB rather than the Service.)
   8. Itchy Row Posted: March 19, 2021 at 01:41 PM (#6009238)
38 WAR and only 70 'wins.' That ratio feels impossible
Tell that to the Mets’ hitters.
He has 2 WAR from hitting, so at least he's helping himself out a little.

deGrom has 35.9 pitching bWAR, and he has the fewest W by anyone with more than 30 WAR. At 25 WAR, the only pitchers with fewer wins are relievers- Billy Wagner, Trevor Hoffman, and Joe Nathan.
   9. The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 19, 2021 at 01:41 PM (#6009239)
If he continues on anything at all like this path for another five or six years, it will be a serious test of just how much HOF attitudes have changed.
That seems about right. With only 1170 career innings going into his age-33 season, deGrom would need to about double his production to be a HOF contender. Might make it, but age & health catch up to many on a Hall of Fame path.
   10. Karl from NY Posted: March 19, 2021 at 02:35 PM (#6009241)
Tell that to the Mets’ hitters.

Is there an easy way to find his average run support? It feels like he's been legendary for getting so little - Mets hitters underperform for him specifically rather than being bad in general.
   11. Ron J Posted: March 19, 2021 at 02:45 PM (#6009243)
#10 Game Logs.

2014 3.66
2015 4.42
2016 3.53
2017 5.13
2018 3.49
2019 4.13
2020 6.26

EDIT: Average run support can be deceptive as for instance in 2020 he had starts in games where the Mets scored 18 and 14.

EDIT2: And in 2017 he had run support of 16, 14, 10, 9 and 8 twice.
   12. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: March 19, 2021 at 03:04 PM (#6009245)
The title of the article made it sound like his pitching success included weed.
   13. Karl from NY Posted: March 19, 2021 at 03:11 PM (#6009246)
Hmm. I think the stat I want is run support relative to the team median, how frequently does he get below-median support.

It looks like what I'm remembering was a one-year fluke in 2018. That shows deGrom getting 3 or fewer runs in 21 out of 32 starts. 2017 and 2019 show that in 10/31 and 14/32 starts.
   14. A triple short of the cycle Posted: March 19, 2021 at 04:35 PM (#6009256)
The title of the article made it sound like his pitching success included weed.
It's probably a recycled Tim Lincecum headline.
   15. cardsfanboy Posted: March 19, 2021 at 04:36 PM (#6009257)
(I hate stathead, we need something better than that bloated garbage to search for stats.... like Pi)

Anyway, just doing a stathead search (which took nearly 3 minutes because the stupid page is a bloated scripted mess) Among hof starting pitchers, the minimum starts is 230, Dizzy Dean. A guy that many people consider to be a weak candidate for the hof, and it's not like DeGrom dwarves Dean in any shape or form 800 fewer innings a difference of 150 to 131 era+ (yes it looks big, but it really isn't when you consider the fact that 1 era+ over rates the difference and 2 Dean was pitching complete games, so the drop that all pitchers have the third and fourth time in era is showing up in his numbers, and not DeGrom's-- by era-, we are talking a more accurate 77 to 67 advantage for DeGrom) Next hof pitcher on the list has 260 starts, Addie Jose with 1200 more innings than Degrom and an era+ of 143. So at a minimum to realistically enter the discussion, DeGrom probably needs 80 more starts with nearly no drop in performance(his career average performance, not what he's done the last three years, he can drop from that level a bit)

I don't think it's impossible, covid didn't help his case at all (and probably nobody except maybe a player like Jordan Hicks who the lost year doesn't look so bad--not saying hicks is a hofer, saying that a guy who was going to miss a year either way, doesn't get damaged by the covid in the way that other players did) but he's only age 33 season now, and will get around 90 starts over the next 3 seasons, putting him at about 1700 ip, 270 starts and an era+ of 150, superior to Dean at least then.
   16. Walt Davis Posted: March 19, 2021 at 05:14 PM (#6009260)
so the drop that all pitchers have the third and fourth time in era is showing up in his numbers, and not DeGrom's

Grrrr ... deGrom has averaged 25.4 BF per start. He's not getting any noticeable boost from skipping batters the 3rd time. Things have changed the last few seasons, especially as they get older, but to this point elite starters have generally continued to pitch 3 times through the lineup. Dean was at 33, certainly they're not comparable but deGrom's boost is from not facing batters a 4th time very often.

Interestingly, even at his peak, Dean made only 33-36 starts per season; deGrom makes 30-32. The difference is Dean added 15 relief appearances per year, usually finishing the game off. They weren't particularly long outings -- 158 IP in 87 relief appearances -- but he added 31 saves and a 12-18 record in his career so they were pretty high leverage appearances. Interestingly his K/9 increased from 5.2 to 7.1 and he dropped from about 1 HR per 20 IP to 1 HR per 50 IP in relief.
   17. Walt Davis Posted: March 19, 2021 at 05:20 PM (#6009261)
On stathead -- it is bizarre in this day and age to move backward in functionality and performance (though depressingly common) but I haven't noticed major performance/time drops. The interface is annoying but it hasn't been particularly slower (but not faster). What has annoyed me deeply is that you can no longer save one report then use it as the basis to limit a second search. It's no longer possible to do things like "find the batters who hit at least 200 HR before age 30 and see how many they hit age 30+." That makes it useless for finding comps for quick and dirty projection purposes which was one of my main uses.
   18. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: March 19, 2021 at 06:13 PM (#6009268)
putting him at about 1700 ip, 270 starts and an era+ of 150, superior to Dean at least then.


Great. Next task: win 30 games one year, and then have a second career as a folksy malapropism-prone announcer.

deGrom is a great pitcher and all, but the dice have to fall exactly right for a guy with as late of a start as he got to make the hall. I'm not saying it's not going to happen. But it's not going to happen.
   19. Walt Davis Posted: March 19, 2021 at 06:38 PM (#6009273)
Not that anybody here needs convincing but an example of how quickly the wheels can come off this sort of HoF case, I present Corey Kluber

JD: 1170 IP, 150 ERA+, 2 CYA, 2.44 CYA shares (career)
CK: 1091 IP, 151 ERA+, 2 CYA, 2.60 CYA shares (ages 28-32)

Kluber's got one of the better 5-year peaks of the last 40 years or so. He was not very good before age 28 then he got hurt and has just 37 IP since although he has somehow gotten 1/$11 from the Yanks this year. Seems too late for him but I suppose he could get back into the conversation if he had Verlander's age 35-36 (which would give him a 3rd CYA).

An interesting question is whether Halladay's age 33-34 would be enough to get deGrom over the line in the current/future HoF environment. Halladay added 484 IP of a 165 ERA+, a CYA and a 2nd. (We can assume Halladay's 40-16 record will translate to something like 22-30 for deGrom :-) Even I have a hard time imagining they're ready to elect a starter with just 1600 IP but maybe the 3 CYA and a 8+ year run as maybe the best pitcher in baseball will be enough.

For those that don't commit every word I write to memory and need reminding, I'm of the opinion that HoF voters are at a point where they will really have little choice but to assess SPs as peak-only candidates or almost never elect a SP again. (The latter is not impossible if enough top relief candidates make it through.) The question then becomes as to how much bulk outside the peak they'll insist on. It's hard to know what effects Halladay's early death had on his HoF vote but he got in easily 1st ballot with 85% on 2750 IP and 203 wins, 2 CYAs, 3.5 (11th all-time) shares and a 10-year run at the top (that included two half-years). That's presumably well over the border so maybe 2000 IP, 150 wins, 3 CYA is enough?

So deGrom probably needs two more top seasons, preferably a 3rd CYA, then maybe 3 seasons of respectable vet performance. Getting to 150 wins looks unlikely and almost no chance at the sort of super win % they'd like to see but I assume wins will become less important in HoF voting. deGrom's CYAs have come with records of 10-9 and 11-8 so they've already decided wins really don't matter in his case.
   20. cardsfanboy Posted: March 19, 2021 at 07:39 PM (#6009274)
Great. Next task: win 30 games one year, and then have a second career as a folksy malapropism-prone announcer.

deGrom is a great pitcher and all, but the dice have to fall exactly right for a guy with as late of a start as he got to make the hall. I'm not saying it's not going to happen. But it's not going to happen.


Hof requires exceptional performance. DeGrom is not in yet of course, but he's at a point where it's potentially possible, as you say, if the dice fall right.
   21. cardsfanboy Posted: March 19, 2021 at 07:43 PM (#6009276)
On stathead -- it is bizarre in this day and age to move backward in functionality and performance (though depressingly common) but I haven't noticed major performance/time drops. The interface is annoying but it hasn't been particularly slower (but not faster). What has annoyed me deeply is that you can no longer save one report then use it as the basis to limit a second search. It's no longer possible to do things like "find the batters who hit at least 200 HR before age 30 and see how many they hit age 30+." That makes it useless for finding comps for quick and dirty projection purposes which was one of my main uses.


When I go to stathead, every time you select a new stat, it updates at the top of the page automatically, listing the new criteria, which is an unnecessary script line on the page, when you have an update option. That script, if you have any anti-virus, or anti-ad add-on, can crash the page. It's massively unnecessary and creates a bloated web page.
   22. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: March 19, 2021 at 08:11 PM (#6009278)
Did either of yall file a complaint at BBRef? Please do so
   23. Lars6788 Posted: March 19, 2021 at 08:19 PM (#6009281)
My dumb guess is somewhere between 120-150 wins will get him in if he continues to pitch lights out.
   24. cardsfanboy Posted: March 19, 2021 at 08:59 PM (#6009289)
For those that don't commit every word I write to memory and need reminding, I'm of the opinion that HoF voters are at a point where they will really have little choice but to assess SPs as peak-only candidates or almost never elect a SP again. (The latter is not impossible if enough top relief candidates make it through.) The question then becomes as to how much bulk outside the peak they'll insist on. It's hard to know what effects Halladay's early death had on his HoF vote but he got in easily 1st ballot with 85% on 2750 IP and 203 wins, 2 CYAs, 3.5 (11th all-time) shares and a 10-year run at the top (that included two half-years). That's presumably well over the border so maybe 2000 IP, 150 wins, 3 CYA is enough?


I get the first part, but I'm thinking that the part you said about the bulk outside of the peak that matters. We are probably going to get a decent amount of four or five year peak pitchers going forward, with the way they are throwing their damndest to pitch as hard as possible, and we have to almost accept that every pitcher going forward will miss a year or two with TJS. So we will need guys to have a peak, but the guys who are going to separate themselves from the pack are the ones who have 10 years of average performance.

I do think that it's going to be necessary still to put up 2000 innings to really enter the discussion of hof as a starting pitcher. (and to be honest, that is still just 10-12 complete seasons) But yes the standard will have to drop if we are going to put anyone in going forward at the same rate we have in the past--by my count there are 67 hof starting pitchers (and that includes Eckersley and his 361 starts- criteria I used is more than 150 starts as Ruth had 147 and Dean was next with 230 -- so we more or less induct one starting pitcher every three years, sure there is an uptick in relievers, but even with that, you expect starting pitchers to be inducted on average one per four year then with a reliever every 8-10 years.

The standards have to move, but how you evaluate the move is going to to also matter, if you get a rash of 4 year peak pitchers with not much outside of that vs a guy who might be a little lower peak but with a decade of "average" and the latter is the guy who has very few people showing that ability, then maybe that is the career arc we are looking at. (of course I'm the guy that thinks current day starting pitchers is massively underrated by war-- the average is not being represented fairly... a 2 war pitcher in theory should be an 90 era+ pitcher with 160 innings pitched---normally I would be able to produce a chart saying here is what war is for pitchers from 2010 to now, with an era+ of 80-95 and 150-170 innings pitched, but I'm still waiting for the first criteria to allow me to select it, which is 2010)
   25. cardsfanboy Posted: March 19, 2021 at 09:12 PM (#6009293)
Yea, managed to get the year criteria to load... page unresponsive... you can wait for it to become responsive or exit the page... stathead just sucks. Is it optimized for the 10 percenters, people that use mac or ie? whatever, it's just annoying as ####, I've been a subscriber since they started, and it's just not worth it, if I can't do a quick simple search. (checked my renewal date, March 23rd... for $80... yep not worth it, bye bye)
   26. Walt Davis Posted: March 19, 2021 at 09:46 PM (#6009299)
Did either of yall file a complaint at BBRef? Please do so

It's a class action!

In my case, sure. The response was along the lines of "yeah, that was unfortunate but it had to go. It's on the to-do list." I really don't understand how you can have something working with "worse" technology then lose it.

Anyway, they practically have me on "speed dial." I point out boo-boos all the time. That gets a polite reply and an assurance it's been put on the to-do list. The actual doing seems hit and miss but I don't check everything. B-R of course remains the most amazing thing in the history of the internet.
   27. cardsfanboy Posted: March 19, 2021 at 09:52 PM (#6009300)
Interestingly, even at his peak, Dean made only 33-36 starts per season; deGrom makes 30-32. The difference is Dean added 15 relief appearances per year, usually finishing the game off. They weren't particularly long outings -- 158 IP in 87 relief appearances -- but he added 31 saves and a 12-18 record in his career so they were pretty high leverage appearances. Interestingly his K/9 increased from 5.2 to 7.1 and he dropped from about 1 HR per 20 IP to 1 HR per 50 IP in relief.


I forgot to respond to this, I've been saying for years, that I think that if they don't expand the size of the bench, that the Dean model (I didn't use that term, but it's appropriate) will be the next great change among pitcher usage, meaning that I think that starting pitchers will still maintain their 5 day rotation, but on their throw days, if they are the upper level, they might be asked to pitch in the game, if not actually scheduled (either as the opener for some teams or as the first reliever for other teams) So I do think that the Kershaw of 10 years from now, not only will he still get 30 starts, but he'll get another 15 or so 1 inning relief appearances(or heck 30 if they commit to it)

Mind you, I'm a fan of expanding the size of the bench, but I've become a fan of limiting the size of the pitching staff (something I used to oppose) still, I do think we'll start to see starting pitchers pitching in relief more going forward.
   28. cardsfanboy Posted: March 19, 2021 at 09:54 PM (#6009301)
It's a class action!

In my case, sure. The response was along the lines of "yeah, that was unfortunate but it had to go. It's on the to-do list." I really don't understand how you can have something working with "worse" technology then lose it.

Anyway, they practically have me on "speed dial." I point out boo-boos all the time. That gets a polite reply and an assurance it's been put on the to-do list. The actual doing seems hit and miss but I don't check everything. B-R of course remains the most amazing thing in the history of the internet.


More or less same here, I've mentioned things multiple times, and even asked questions on how to do things, more or less get a form letter that says 'we'll look into it' or something like that, no actual response.

It doesn't diminish bb-reference in the least though, as you said it's the most amazing thing on the internet. I have a ton of things I wish they would do (with stats that they already provide) or other things, but that is cherry on the top of a fantastic Sundae.
   29. Walt Davis Posted: March 19, 2021 at 10:28 PM (#6009303)
We are probably going to get a decent amount of four or five year peak pitchers going forward

Sure but I didn't suggest a 5-year peak was enough. Kluber has the great 5 year peak... and he probably needs Verlander's 35-36 seasons (437 IP, 172 ERA+, 1 CYA) and it's not clear that would be enough. My debate on bulk is "will 1500 awesome innings be enough or are they going to require another 500-080 mediocre innings?" And, if those 1500 innings are pretty much all the case you've got then "awesome" likely means something along the lines of at least 2 CYA, some other solid CYA finishes and an ERA+ in the 140-150 range over about 1500 innings.

On the late debut thing -- it's simply different for pitchers. Or was. Some of the examples have already been pointed out. But Fergie wasn't Fergie until 24; Gibson had just 160 IP before age 25; Schilling had fewer than 150 before 25; Maddux had plenty of bulk but didn't become Maddux until age 26; Randy Johnson had under 200 IP before 26 and wasn't particularly good until 29; Halladay had a really strange start to his career, was quite good or historically awful but didn't have his first big season until 25; Pedro became Pedro at 25; Ryan got started early but didn't top 150 IP in a season until 25.

I guess we'll see how the minors changes work out but I'm starting with the guess that HS pitchers will be drafted even less often than they are now. If most pitchers don't even get to start pro careers until 22-23 and if their teams have less incentive to bring them up before they're ready, I don't see why age 24-25 debuts aren't going to be increasingly common. That gets back to my question -- how important are those extra 336 IP, 18-17, 97 ERA+ (those 68 atrocious innings really kill him) to Halladay's case? If voters are going to insist on at least 2500 IP, 200 wins then I agree that late starts are killer (given today's limited innings especially).

The Fergie, Blyleven and presumably Perry, Niekro, Spahn careers are gone for good. Seasons with 250 innings do not appear on the horizon. But Halladay's in easily; I think "everyone" is agreed that Verlander is in; I think Scherzer would get in if he retired today. Those guys all have a bit of bulk but Scherzer pretty much is Halladay without those 350 early innings. Kershaw is an even better version of Scherzer. Unless Scherzer is the new border ... Anyway, deGrom and Kluber are the two guys who have/had been putting up that sort of peak. deGrom is the better bet to continue that.

(Bieber and maybe Bauer are the only guys I notice that might be starting that sort of run.)
   30. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: March 20, 2021 at 12:29 AM (#6009313)

Chris Sale is another guy with quite a high peak and a very low Wins / WAR ratio (109 wins, 45 WAR through age 30). He doesn't have a Cy Young Award, but 6 straight top-5 finishes. It remains to be seen how his return from TJ surgery will go, but he's another guy who could finish his career with 60+ WAR and well short of 200 wins.
   31. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: March 20, 2021 at 12:30 AM (#6009314)
That's presumably well over the border so maybe 2000 IP, 150 wins, 3 CYA is enough?


If Santana had won 11 more games, in some combination of 2005 and 2008, he may well have nabbed another Cy Young award. (He got first place votes both years as it is.) 11 more wins also gives him 150 for his career. Would 11 well-placed wins have gotten Johan Santana another 72.6% of the hall of fame vote?

As for B-R. I have documentation of baseball salaries from 1876, including for lots of players that they don't have salaries listed for, and when I sent them a note offering to give it to them, I never heard a peep.
   32. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 20, 2021 at 12:54 AM (#6009316)
Great. Next task: win 30 games one year, and then have a second career as a folksy malapropism-prone announcer.
He could grow his hair out again. That would be distinctive.
   33. Howie Menckel Posted: March 20, 2021 at 01:18 AM (#6009318)
fwiw,
Santana was elected to the HOM this year, second to Kenny Lofton and joined by Jeff Kent.

results

a year where no one really stood out but the top 3 get in.

many SPS already in, but Santana beat out, in top 40:
6 Andy Pettitte
12 Vic Willis
15 Tommy John
16 Urban Shocker
20 Tim Hudson
23 Don Newcombe
26 Tommy Bridges
27 Roy Oswalt
29 Dizzy Dean (yes, Dizzy Dean)
30 Kevin Appier
31 Mark Buehrle
   34. Swoboda is freedom Posted: March 20, 2021 at 03:46 PM (#6009346)
2014 3.66
2015 4.42
2016 3.53
2017 5.13
2018 3.49
2019 4.13
2020 6.26

EDIT: Average run support can be deceptive as for instance in 2020 he had starts in games where the Mets scored 18 and 14.


He also had the DH in 2020
   35. cookiedabookie Posted: March 20, 2021 at 04:25 PM (#6009350)
It's funny Kluber was brought up in relation to deGrom, as they are the top two Stetson draft picks, by far. A few years back, I had a bet with a friend who's an Indians fan over who would end up with the better career. I went deGrom, he went Kluber.
   36. Walt Davis Posted: March 20, 2021 at 05:27 PM (#6009352)
#31: In terms of HoF voting, it could be that Santana just got caught in the transition of standards. Or maybe the standards won't transition. But my guess is that if a guy with Santana's numbers hit the ballot 10 years from now, he'd stand a decent chance, at least get a serious look. He was well short of Hallday, you still had Schilling on the ballot over 3000 IP, Pettitte over 3000 and 250 wins, CC waiting in the wings so still some candidates with older school numbers.

We have pretty quickly gone from Schilling's 3200 innings looking light for a HoF candidate to it being a number we might never see again (once Verlander and Greinke get there though still 300 away). Scherzer & Kershaw are still 900 innings away; Bumgarner will get there if he stays healthy and effective enough and might fall into the Pettitte/CC bucket. But Strasburg debuted at 21, is turning 32 and isn't even to 1500 innings yet. The under-30 active leader in innings if Julio Teheran (turning 30) at 1391. Through age 25, the current leader is German Marquez with 634 and Jack Flaherty (currently 409) will likely take over that lead this year (cuz Marquez turns 26).

As we know from above, late debuts aren't as big a deal for pitchers but given 220+ inning seasons are becoming rare, we probably are past the point where a guy can rack up 3500 innings in 15 years.

Anyway, back to Santana. He had a run of nearly 1800 innings, 150 ERA+, 130-66, 50 WAR, 2 CYA. It's a shame he wasn't kept alive (especially given voters would have fainted if a closer put up anything like those numbers) and maybe he could have been Blylevened. That is, give or take, deGrom plus 600 more peak innings ... or Halladay's peak minus 500 innings. Scherzer's peak is currently at 1550 innings, the 3rd CYA and 49 WAR but Scherzer has more early career bulk and will probably add reasonable late career bulk (a solid shot at 3000 IP) and maybe even more peak.

I think Scherzer will have a fairly easy time of it which means some future Santana should at least be in the mix and maybe the actual one will start getting serious VC looks 10 years from now. But it's mainly that it looks like 2500 innings is gonna be a pretty long career. If 2500 is the new 3500+ then 2000-2200 innings is the new Schilling and maybe 1800 is the new Halladay. Or almost no SPs get elected.

The shift in standards might not happen fast enough for some of the current guys. I think that's partly what happened to Morris -- I don't think he deserved to make it anyway but he was stuck in between the incredible 70s workhorses who "all" reached 3500+ innings (often well past that), at least close to 300 wins, 3000 Ks. Through age 34, Morris had 143 CGs and had never led the league once; he led the league at 35 with 11, tied for his 8th best season, finished with 175. Perry had over 300, Fergie 267, Byleven 242 so he didn't compare with the guys before. Then Clemens had 118, Maddux 109 (never more than 10), Johnson 100 (career high 12). Clemens had just 9 in the last 10 years of his career; Maddux 20; Johnson 32 -- by the time their careers were done, CGs just didn't matter anymore.

Pettitte is kinda caught between standards/eras too. He's too close to Clemens/Maddux/Johnson for his 3300 innings and 250 wins to be that impressive and his rate stats aren't a match for Mussina, Smoltz and Schilling and he has no real peak. But I think/hope CC is going in with very similar numbers (with a much better peak) ... cuz CC is practically a Fergie/Perry level workhorse by the standards of his era (with a whopping 38 CGs!!!)
   37. Walt Davis Posted: March 20, 2021 at 05:28 PM (#6009353)
Here's a trivia question for you -- who was the last pitcher with 10+ complete games in a season?
   38. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: March 20, 2021 at 05:41 PM (#6009356)
Here's a trivia question for you -- who was the last pitcher with 10+ complete games in a season?


CC Sabathia did as recently as 2008.
   39. gehrig97 Posted: March 20, 2021 at 05:47 PM (#6009357)
Thought experiment: Could deGrom accumulate so much hardware that the final numbers don't matter? What if he wins another two Cy Youngs? At that point, does the rest of his career matter in terms of HOF debate? Can they keep out a four-time CYA winner even if he only accumulates 1700ish IP? Or are the days of the "narrative-driven" HOF-elect behind us?
   40. SoSH U at work Posted: March 20, 2021 at 06:07 PM (#6009358)
CC Sabathia did as recently as 2008.


True, but that's not the answer.
   41. Sweatpants Posted: March 20, 2021 at 06:09 PM (#6009359)
I think it was James Shields.
   42. gehrig97 Posted: March 20, 2021 at 06:41 PM (#6009364)
Re: Bref's "Stathead"...

Ugh.

Sean and the gang have done so much right for such a long time, one wonders how this monstrosity of a user interface saw the light of day. I mean, what was the mission statement for this re-design? "Hey, let's make PI three times as expensive, but one-third as useful!"

Love,
A long-time PI subscriber



   43. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: March 20, 2021 at 07:12 PM (#6009369)

Halladay was going to be my first guess, but then I checked. He had 9 CG four times, including three seasons in a row, but never had more than that.
   44. Walt Davis Posted: March 20, 2021 at 07:17 PM (#6009370)
#41 is correct, in 2011. So 10th anniversary coming up! I suspect that question will be a bit harder to answer in another 10-15 years.

#39: That's not so much a "thought experiment" as it is the topic of the first 38 posts. :-) Obviously my answer is yes. If deGrom wins another CYA, he's in even with the bus. If he did it this year, that would give him 3 wins in 4 years (where the one he didn't win was just 60 games). He'd be the modern equivalent of Koufax. While it is true that Santana seemed to get no sympthy for an injury bringing a sudden end to his career (maybe he shouldn't have come back), I think deGrom would. (And of course if he had anything like a normal decline phase, he'll get to 2000 innings.)

If we want a thought experiment: Bauer is such a weird guy that, if he won the next two CYAs, I can at least imagine he'd say "my goal was to win 3, I've done it, I've got over $100 M in the bank, see you later." I suspect the BBWAA would be so appalled at somebody voluntarily walking away at their peak that he'd have no shot.

By the way, so far this spring, deGrom has 9 1P, a 16/1 K/BB, 3 hits ... but one was a HR. And a 2-0 record! (the all-important spring training pitcher W-L record)
   45. Howie Menckel Posted: March 20, 2021 at 07:28 PM (#6009371)
CC Sabathia did as recently as 2008.

as other posters have noted before, Sabathia led both leagues in shutouts that year

(okay, tied in NL with 3 and tied in AL with 2, but it still counts!)
   46. Sweatpants Posted: March 20, 2021 at 07:59 PM (#6009376)
So 10th anniversary coming up!
When Sabathia had ten complete games in 2008, it was almost the tenth anniversary of the last time it had been done before that. Baseball hadn't seen a pitcher with double-digit CG since Randy Johnson in 1999.
   47. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: March 20, 2021 at 08:16 PM (#6009378)
Here's another way to look at this. If deGrom finished games instead of starting them and you gave him a boatload of saves instead of a shiny W-L record, he'd be the 2nd best reliever ever, ahead of Hoffman with a better ERA+ and more innings already.

How anyone can justify electing relievers and a guy like deGrom, who has been the best pitcher in baseball for a number of years, still needs to add years/innings to his body of work to even be considered for election is just inane.
   48. cardsfanboy Posted: March 20, 2021 at 08:25 PM (#6009381)
How anyone can justify electing relievers and a guy like deGrom, who has been the best pitcher in baseball for a number of years, still needs to add years/innings to his body of work to even be considered for election is just inane.


Ehh, the success of pitching in selective innings does have a bit of a merit, it doesn't mean Hoffman was better, but having a guy like him go 15+ years where you can count on him to not only do the job, but do it well above the average reliever is valuable.

I get the argument of raw value etc, but generally speaking a closer by current standards that is a top ten closer for 10+ years is something nearly unheard of (literally the list includes Rivera, Wagner and Hoffman) (today Stathead is working fine... 120 era+ with 20+ saves)

Rk                   Name Yrs
1          Mariano Rivera  16
2            Billy Wagner  12
3          Trevor Hoffman  12
4       Jonathan Papelbon   9
5     Francisco Rodriguez   9
6               Tom Henke   9
7             John Franco   9
8               Lee Smith   9
9            Rich Gossage   9
10        Aroldis Chapman   8
11          Craig Kimbrel   8
12             Joe Nathan   8
13     Jason Isringhausen   8
14          Troy Percival   8
15         John Wetteland   8
16         Rollie Fingers   8
17          Kenley Jansen   7
18          Huston Street   7
19      Francisco Cordero   7
20          Rick Aguilera   7
21           Bruce Sutter   7 


The point is that being reliable in a relatively important role, is a valuable commodity. I get that their raw value is lesser than a guy who pitches more per season, but reliability over multiple seasons is also a thing, it's why I like career candidates, provided they are actually worthy of their reputation, and think that guys like Larry Walker who constantly get injured, aren't as valuable as their rate stats indicate.

This isn't a knock against DeGrom though, as his career isn't over, and honestly if he post 10 years of average ability he easily makes it into the hof, while if he posts 3 years of great pitching and a cliff dive, probably doesn't.
   49. cardsfanboy Posted: March 20, 2021 at 09:08 PM (#6009388)
Sure but I didn't suggest a 5-year peak was enough.


Flaw with internet posting, just pointing out that short peak candidates are going to be a thing going forward, as teams have somewhat figured out the best way to exploit and maximize young arms, to the detriment of the young arms overall career. We are going to see a lot of Dizzy Deans, and even Dwight Goodens going forward, and separating the groups is going to be something that will lead to a lot of discussions, and something that will need to have the voters somewhat agree on.

Personally, I think that the boat has already been missed on a few players. Schilling of course, Kevin Brown of course, I don't even think they are debatable, same with Mussina, the line to me for that generation is Pettite, originally I argued no way for him... as I just didn't think his peak for his era was good enough, but now I'm less certain. But that was the end of the the Maddux/Randy/Pedro generation and they are unfairly being compared to a half generation ahead. And the same thing is going to happen with other players, but I'm fairly certain Sabathia has my yes vote, Greinke is so far over the line in todays game that he's a slam dunk, Verlander and Kershaw also, so it's not impossible to create a slam dunk candidacy in this era. You do expect with the increase in reliance on relievers that you are going to get fewer and fewer starting pitchers per generation in the hof, and that is perfectly logical.

I'm agreeing that we'll eventually rely on peak candidates (and no it's not just five year peak, I get why that bothered you) but they still do need to do more than their peak to separate themselves from the other peak candidates that we'll be seeing. And I think that we are going to see a ton of pitchers putting up 4-6 seasons of 150 era+ with 30 starts in comparison to the past. It's the full arc of their accomplishment that will separate them, do they average a shade more innings per start, how many innings outside of that peak do they have, do they have rebound years after their second TJS etc. Heck, do they come back as a reliever and get 100 saves. I think we are going to see a ton of Kluber's going forward... (maybe not with the two cy's but with multiple cy quality seasons and nothing outside of that peak)
   50. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: March 20, 2021 at 10:22 PM (#6009396)
CFB, yes I agree that being reliable for a dozen of more years has value. We will never find out, however I have little doubt a pitcher of deGrom's class would have many issues being one of those reliable reliever guys for years on end; and would be more effective boot.
   51. Howie Menckel Posted: March 20, 2021 at 10:28 PM (#6009398)
I have little doubt a pitcher of deGrom's class would have many issues being one of those reliable reliever guys for years on end; and would be more effective boot.

you have little doubt - I have much closer to zero doubt.
   52. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: March 20, 2021 at 11:27 PM (#6009401)
The aspects of selectness and above-average reliability that CFB describes in #48 about closers could just as well be about DHs. We've had closers and DHs for about the same amount of time and neither has yielded loads of guys doing it well for long periods.
   53. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: March 21, 2021 at 12:26 AM (#6009405)
For closers, isn't the most obvious explanation that anything can happen over sixty innings?
   54. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: March 21, 2021 at 12:51 AM (#6009407)
For closers, isn't the most obvious explanation that anything can happen over sixty innings?


Anything can, of course. But how come so few guys closing can do it pretty well for 600 innings? Only after this year, assuming a full season and player health, will Aroldis Chapman have reached 600 IP as a closer. Ditto Kimbrell. David Robertson, who probably would have had more years as a closer if he didn't have Rivera as a teammate, is only at 660 IP. Zach Britton is similar to Robertson in losing potential years as a closer, and he's at 620 IP. Melancon 606. It'a so often said that the closer has it pretty easy, but not many do it particularly well for particularly long.
   55. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: March 21, 2021 at 12:53 AM (#6009408)
My issue, as I mentioned in post 47, is that a guy like Hoffman, with a 141 ERA+ and 1100 innings(and a lot of saves), gets voted in the HOF and a guy like deGrom with a higher ERA+ and 10% more innings needs to toil away for several more years, hopefully winning another Cy, to even be considered for election; never mind actually getting elected. Yes, the roles are different, but purely as a pitcher, deGrom is already more valuable and he's actually been the best pitcher in baseball for quite some time, which to me is important to being elected. Don't we want the best players elected?

I agree that being a great reliever for a dozen of more years has value, but geez it can't be hard to imagine a guy like deGrom or Chris Sale mowing guys down every other night in the 8th and 9th innings whilst running an ERA+ around 170.
   56. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: March 21, 2021 at 01:10 AM (#6009410)
Yes, the roles are different, but purely as a pitcher, deGrom is already more valuable and he's actually been the best pitcher in baseball for quite some time, which to me is important to being elected. Don't we want the best players elected?


Is it different than how Hall hitting expectations are different for second basemen versus first basemen? By most metrics Jason Giambi was a much better hitter than Roberto Alomar and both guys' Hall status seems correct. (Obviously, I'm ignoring defense and baserunning, so maybe not the best comparison, but I hope you understand my question.)
   57. SoSH U at work Posted: March 21, 2021 at 01:41 AM (#6009411)
Is it different than how Hall hitting expectations are different for second basemen versus first basemen?


Yes. Roberto Alomar can legitimately be a better (more valuable) player than Jason Giambi.

Even the best reliever of all-time (who I would put in the Hall, in part because of his otherwordly postseason numbers push him over the line) did not generate more value than his borderline teammate.

Is it possible we're underrating the difficulty of relief pitching or overestimating the ease with which it is to be an effective DH? Yes. It's distinctly possible that not all starting pitchers would be even better as relievers (my guess is a guy like Glavine wouldn't see much of an improvement). But even with that caveat, the simple truth about relieving is it's easier to put up great rate stats as a reliever, and even with the most generous deployment of leverage, they're not producing nearly as much value as starters).
   58. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: March 21, 2021 at 09:55 AM (#6009427)
But how come so few guys closing can do it pretty well for 600 innings?


Two reasons. One is that being a really good pitcher is really hard, so the odds that anyone will be good over 600 innings is low. But also, if you're only pitching 60 innings a year, getting up to 600 innings requires at least 10 years (allowing for injuries to drop you below 60 every once in a while). So as relief pitchers get up around that 600 innings mark aging kicks in.
   59. Howie Menckel Posted: March 21, 2021 at 11:17 AM (#6009435)
But how come so few guys closing can do it pretty well for 600 innings?

maybe because most of the guys who could do it are given the far more challenging job of being a starting pitcher?

just spitballing here
   60. sunday silence (again) Posted: March 21, 2021 at 04:46 PM (#6009475)

maybe because most of the guys who could do it are given the far more challenging job of being a starting pitcher?


OK yeah that's possible. But suppose hypothetically that warming up a hundred times a year and entering the game maybe 60 70 times a year can be shown to be a repeatable skill. Assume also that it can be shown that there's little correlation between starting every fifth day and warming up every other day.

In that case would it not stand to reason that both Starting pitching and Relief pitching are two distinct skills? And if so then they are effectively two different positions.

So just as we admit SS cannot simply be plugged into 1b and vice versa, then you'd have to admit these are two separate positions and two separate skill sets.

Its also possible that given higher leverage situations, a RP with say 80 inn. might be as valuable as a SP pitching say 150 inn. even though on paper, a strict WAR calculation might be put the SP ahead in "value".
   61. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: March 21, 2021 at 05:06 PM (#6009478)
But suppose hypothetically that warming up a hundred times a year and entering the game maybe 60 70 times a year can be shown to be a repeatable skill. Assume also that it can be shown that there's little correlation between starting every fifth day and warming up every other day.

In that case would it not stand to reason that both Starting pitching and Relief pitching are two distinct skills? And if so then they are effectively two different positions.


I think the burden of proof would be on whoever was arguing for starting and relief pitching as different positions, given the number of starters (both successful and otherwise) who have moved to the bullpen with little to no difficulty.
   62. flournoy Posted: March 21, 2021 at 05:44 PM (#6009481)
Are there any peak-over-career advocates who support Brandon Webb for the Hall of Fame? (Yes, I know he doesn't meet the 10-year minimum, but that can be waived and has been previously.) He has as many innings as any reliever.
   63. Walt Davis Posted: March 21, 2021 at 06:12 PM (#6009483)
CFB in #49: OK, I did overly focus on that one line. I agree we are probably going to see a relatively large number of impressive short peaks. The purpose of saying "you probably need to do this for like 8-10 years" is to try to sort out those peaks.

The question with guys like Kershaw and Verlander isn't "are they slam dunks now?" but "at what point did they become slam dunks?" Granted that's often a moot question -- any pitchers who's really good for 8 years is gonna keep getting chances to add bulk to his career. Of course the issue is that pitchers are much more likely to get hurt. It's very unusual to see a position player be awesome for 8 years then stop playing whereas deGrom's career could end tomorrow ... or be reduced to a missed year and three "seasons" totalling 220 innings and a 80 ERA+. It's just one shoulder injury.

Of course we don't have to answer that hypothetical until it beecomes a reality.

I'd add Scherzer to the slam dunk list by the way. 2357 IP (a few more than Kershaw), 132 ERA+ (the "negative" in the case), 2784 Ks, 3 CYAs plus a 2nd and 3rd, 7 AS games, 175-93, 51 points of black ink. I'm practically arguing for a black/gray ink-based model of HoF induction for SPs going forward. Scherzer is 27th all-time with 51. Verlander 66, Kershaw 65 are the active leaders. Pedro was at 58 (yes, his peak was better than anybody's really), Dean comes in with a very respectable 52, Halladay 48, Palmer 44, Santana and Schilling 42. Kluber has 34, tied with Smoltz just behind Fergie and Marichal. Price at 32. Bieber very impressively is at 22 already although maybe that's all 2020 ... still, 1 more than Lincecum.

Hardly a foolproof guide -- e.g. no real point in giving out points for leading the league with 3 CGs and 2 ShO (Bieber 2019) -- but it captures the essence of how I think the criteria will have to change. But still a matter of how much bulk needs adding.
   64. The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 21, 2021 at 08:30 PM (#6009499)
But suppose hypothetically that warming up a hundred times a year and entering the game maybe 60 70 times a year can be shown to be a repeatable skill. Assume also that it can be shown that there's little correlation between starting every fifth day and warming up every other day. In that case would it not stand to reason that both Starting pitching and Relief pitching are two distinct skills? And if so then they are effectively two different positions.
I’m agnostic as to whether it’s two different skills, but I do think that it’s two different workloads, and the everyday closer workload is more demanding than the innings alone might indicate. Lots of closers have a few good years, not many have a good decade.
   65. BDC Posted: March 21, 2021 at 08:39 PM (#6009501)
The question with guys like Kershaw and Verlander isn't "are they slam dunks now?" but "at what point did they become slam dunks?"

Verlander won a ring, finally, in 2017, Scherzer in 2019, Kershaw in 2020. They might well have gone into the HOF anyway even if they'd caught the bus at that point instead, but those championships most likely remove any lingering sense among whatever HOF voters care about such things, which may be more than one thinks. Greinke has yet to be on a Series winner but may be overqualified anyway. Mets fans assume Hell will freeze before deGrom wins one.
   66. Walt Davis Posted: March 21, 2021 at 10:53 PM (#6009525)
I should be careful in my terminology. "Slam dunk" I suppose should mean "easy 1st ballot" guy and then there's "almost certain to get in eventually, maybe 1st ballot." My argument is not necessarily that deGrom is close to "easy 1st ballot" status, although he might be, but more along the lines of "if Halladay or Koufax are easy 1st ballot guys then the borderline guy must be somewhere around ..." The major flaw in my argument is obvious -- there's no previous evidence that HoF voting is in any way rational! You could put that in the terms of: slam dunk means, PEDs/Rose aside, narrative doesn't matter; there's a tier below that where you need a lack of negative narrative; then there's the tier where you need some narrative and are sunk with negative narrative. Two CYAs is already a good bit of narrative, deGrom hasn't been an a-hole as far as I know so he's in pretty good shape even if he doesn't reach slam dunk. A third CYA or another 900 decent innings is probably enough for slam dunk.
   67. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: March 22, 2021 at 12:05 AM (#6009527)
Are there any peak-over-career advocates who support Brandon Webb for the Hall of Fame? (Yes, I know he doesn't meet the 10-year minimum, but that can be waived and has been previously.) He has as many innings as any reliever.


I'll come at this idea from another angle. Anyone who agrees with Rivera in the Hall: Would you still agree with his induction if he had all the same numbers as a career-long 8th-inning-type guy but without the saves? Sure, maybe he ends up with a handful, figure 80 or so, based on how he got 5 saves in '96 setting up Wetteland, but all his other statistics that he accumulated come from setting up some other closer. Does the longevity + high-quality equation still apply for a reliever if the saves are taken away?

Edit: Apologies if this was discussed when he was elected and I've forgotten.
   68. Howie Menckel Posted: March 22, 2021 at 12:33 AM (#6009530)
Lots of closers have a few good years, not many have a good decade.

again, there is an obvious reason: if you have a very talented pitcher who has more than one good/great pitch, you remove him from the list of possible "closers" because he is likely more valuable in the much harder job of SP.

many of those closers with "a few good years" are from the failed starter crop.

imagine if you tried to see what a GOOD starter could do as a closer. wait - we know the answer, many times over.

I like Post 60 in that it involves interesting, if unproven, speculation
   69. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: March 22, 2021 at 01:10 AM (#6009531)
I think it's telling that John Smoltz was a historically great closer for a few years and once he was far enough removed from his surgery to handle a bigger workload again, the Braves moved him right back to starting.
   70. SoSH U at work Posted: March 22, 2021 at 10:03 AM (#6009548)

I think it's telling that John Smoltz was a historically great closer for a few years and once he was far enough removed from his surgery to handle a bigger workload again, the Braves moved him right back to starting.


Even more telling than Smoltz is Wade Davis. He was not a good starting pitcher. He was shifted to the pen and pitched very well, so he was moved back to the rotation, where he resumed sucking. He then went back to the pen and spent a few years as the best in the game.
   71. adarowski Posted: March 22, 2021 at 10:22 AM (#6009552)
Hey cardsfanboy - Sorry to hear your experience with Stathead hasn’t gone so well. I’d love to chat about it if you’re open to it. I’m the Head of User Experience for Baseball Reference and Stathead now so making sure folks like yourself are happy is my #1 priority. If you find a time with this link, it’ll automatically add to both our calendars and set up all the Zoom info.

https://calendly.com/sports-ref-adam/sports-reference-chat

If anyone else wants to chat about BR & Stathead, feel free to grab some time with the link above.
   72. Howie Menckel Posted: March 22, 2021 at 10:23 AM (#6009553)
in 2001, Eric Gagne allowed 90 runs (80 ER) in 152 IP with 130 K

in 2002-03, Gagne allowed 30 runs (20 ER) in 165 IP with 251 K

huh
   73. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: March 22, 2021 at 10:41 AM (#6009557)
Even more telling than Smoltz is Wade Davis. He was not a good starting pitcher. He was shifted to the pen and pitched very well, so he was moved back to the rotation, where he resumed sucking. He then went back to the pen and spent a few years as the best in the game.

Eckersley is the guy who obviously comes to mind. He was a good starter but took it to another level as a closer.

Rick Aguilera was a better starter than I remember, but his ERA in the bullpen was about a run better.

Derek Lowe was a guy who kind of struggled as a closer and was a pretty good starter, but his ERA in the bullpen was about a run better (and unadjusted ERA probably understates the disparity, as his time in the pen was with Boston while his time as a starter was mainly in LA).
   74. BDC Posted: March 22, 2021 at 12:58 PM (#6009578)
Anyone who agrees with Rivera in the Hall: Would you still agree with his induction if he had all the same numbers as a career-long 8th-inning-type guy but without the saves? Sure, maybe he ends up with a handful, figure 80 or so, based on how he got 5 saves in '96 setting up Wetteland, but all his other statistics that he accumulated come from setting up some other closer. Does the longevity + high-quality equation still apply for a reliever if the saves are taken away?

This got me wondering whether it had happened. The closest career would seem to be Arthur Rhodes'. After failing as a SP, Rhodes had 15 years as a set-up reliever with an ERA+ of 130 and setting the all-important career Holds record with 231. If Rhodes had been a closer the whole time, and gotten, say, 400 saves … that's still not quite as good as John Franco (424 Saves, 138 ERA+), and Franco didn't make it onto a second HOF ballot.

So it didn't actually come real close to happening. But I think Rhodes was never tried much as a closer because he threw LH and played at the wrong time. Much earlier and he might have been a regular fireman; even a bit earlier and maybe a closer like Franco (or, briefly, Jesse Orosco). Nowadays, with LH closers making something of a comeback, he might have moved to that role. But to be a LH closer right when Rhodes played, you had to be as good as Billy Wagner, ie much better than any of the others mentioned. And Wagner was so good nobody would have let him stay at set-up – and at that not in the Hall yet himself, though his case is gathering momentum.

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