Ray Lankford Wing of the Hall of Fame Inductions: Part Deux, the Starting Pitchers

This should have been an article for the starters and for the relievers being inducted into the Hall, but I noticed something very interesting while editing my Ray Lankford Wing of the Hall of Fame spreadsheets for the starting pitchers. Before we get into that, we'll start with the new addition to the Hall.

Dwight Gooden, former phenom and ace of the 1980's Mets teams, is the sole starting pitcher inductee into the Lankford Wing this year. He was knocked off of the Cooperstown ballot, only receiving 3.3% of the vote in his first year of eligibility. Gooden was expected to make the Hall easily back in the 1980's before personal problems and injuries derailed his career, making him more of a fit for this Wing.

Gooden was drafted in the 1st round (5th overall) in the 1982 draft by the New York Mets. He introduced himself to the majors by posting an ERA+ of 137 in 218 innings in 1984 at age 19. Then the real abuse started:

  • 1985: ERA+ 226; IP 276.7
  • 1986: ERA+ 124; IP 250.0
  • 1987: ERA+ 119; IP 179.7
  • 1988: ERA+ 101; IP 248.3
  • 1989: ERA+ 113; IP 118.3
  • 1990: ERA+ 98; IP 232.7

I wish there were Pitcher Abuse Points available for 1985, because I would certainly be interested in seeing what the number that ruined the rest of Doc's career looked like.

Gooden is the 44th highest ranked pitcher out of 63 according to JAWS, Jay Jaffe's excellent tool for measuring player value. JAWS takes a players career Wins Above Replacement Level (WARP3 in this instance) as well as the best 7 seasons of WARP combined (peak WARP), adds them together and then divides by two in order to strike a balance and narrow it down to one simply figure. This isn't really a knock against Gooden, as the Wing is actually full of some really excellent pitchers. Obviously Bert Blyleven remains the #1 ranked pitcher in the Hall until he is eventually (fingers crossed) elected into Cooperstown. He's not the only one though. Some would argue Jack Morris is a Hall of Famer as well, which is interesting for a few reasons, one of which I will show you now:

Jack Morris is the 15th highest ranked pitcher in the Ray Lankford Wing according to JAWS. Does that mean that the 14 guys in front of him are deserving Cooperstown inductees? That is hardly the case. A case can obviously (and has been made many, many times) for Blyleven, and an argument could be made for Frank Tanana and Tommy John, as the JAWS average for starting pitchers in the Hall with the new JAWS system is 80.6. Tommy John is an extreme case of longevity making the case for the Hall rather than dominance at any one point in his career, so it is more difficult to create an argument for his inclusion in Cooperstown, but it is entirely doable. Morris falls well below the mark at 70.7 JAWS...that 1991 game really has carried the torch for Jack hasn't it? Why do I say that? Well take a look at Chuck Finley, ranked 11th on the list by JAWS. Not only does he beat out Morris in JAWS by 2.9, but he is 164 Pitching Runs Above Average ahead of him for his career. I don't see anyone trying to get Finley into the Hall of Fame. If you want to go for someone who dominated in the playoffs, Bret Saberhagen is ahead of Jack Morris as well. He pitched 18 innings in the 1985 World Series, posting an ERA of 0.50, and he pitched well in the previous year as well as in the playoffs for the Red Sox in 98' and 99'. Not too mention that Saberhagen is one of the all-time great control artists. I'm not sure the support for Bret will equal that of Morris' though.

This is just something to think about after seeing all of the votes wasted on certain players by BBWAA members. Anyone who votes for Morris better have an excellent excuse for why they do not vote for Chuck Finley, Bret Saberhagen, David Cone (2.12 ERA in the World Series, 5-0 record, directly behind Morris in JAWS), and other postseason heroes like Luis Tiant. I'm not saying any of these guys deserve inclusion into Cooperstown, because they don't in the system that I prefer to use for analysis, but if a vote for Morris is cast I demand reasoning for why one is not cast for these guys. After all, the writers have votes to waste on the Greg Jefferies of the world.

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