Career Span/Primary Team(s) Player Wins Above Replacement; 1986-2007/Pirates, Giants: 178.3: 1984-2007/Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees, Astros: 133.9: 1991-2005/Astros Dave Parker, Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Mccormick ended up in Pittsburgh where he ended his career the next year. Blyleven had one more significant season in 89 for the California Angels, winning 17 games and Comeback Player of the Year award. The top few on the list have a body of work and cases for the HOF so compelling, one wonders how they got missed. and the most games started75. Tony Mullane was an Irish born major league player known for pitching with both handssometimes in the same game. Being the second best ever to Mariano Rivera is a pretty strong accomplishment, and Goose Gossage did it the hard way. In 35 he won two games against the Cubs, and in 40 he won his only appearance against the Reds. His 187 career ERA+ is second among retired relief pitchers to only Mariano Rivera. Curiously enough, Eckersley didnt win the Cy Young award in his best year but then won the award along with the league MVP two seasons later in 1992 when he went 7-1 with a 1.91 ERA and 51 saves, then the second-best single-season total of all-time. Despite having made his MLB debut over 100 years ago (1908), "Shoeless" Joe Jackson remains one of the most controversial figures in the game. Mariano Riveras claim as the greatest closer of all-time is one of the safest arguments in baseball. 6) Babe Adams (1906-1926) (194-140; 2.76 ERA; ERA+ 117; 2,995 IP/ 2,841 H/ 8.5 H/9; 1,036 K/ 4,30 BB/ 2.41 ratio; 1.092 WHIP). But even Michael Jordan missed game-winning shots. Career: 16 years (1995-2010) Teams: Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves. Tommy was pitching in October for six consecutive seasons, posting a 6-3 mark with a 2.65 ERA over 88 innings. The Pirates won the pennant the next year. He had one shutout. That said, look for the results for catchers tomorrow. The greatest relief pitchers of all time include some of the best current MLB players, as well as some legends who are already in the baseball hall of fame. Rodriguez will now have to endure the waiting game with BBWAA voters, like Bonds, Clemens and Sosa just did. The top four candidates were all foreign born. He had a 1.80 ERA after the age of 38. Fingers helped revolutionize the closer position, setting a trend later followed by Rivera and John Smoltz in becoming a failed starter-turned-closer. He was as automatic as youll ever find for a closer. He pitched his no-hitter in '77, as well as leading the league that year in WHIP. Voters have three years of his eligibility left to get it right. Pitchers who, for one reason or another, never got the votes or attention needed to make it in. He ended up nostalgically back in Minnesota for the '86 season, and helped the team to the World Series title in '87. His post season work began in 77 with the Dodgers, after his return from surgery. The pitchers on this list are every bit as skilled as their contemporaries already voted in. . I should add that unlike most of the other positions in this survey, it was difficult to get the list of pitchers down to 10 names. 9. (Scott Dine/St. a position average JAWS is computed.For some positions, the Bridges continued pitching in the Pacific Coast Leaguewinning the ERA title in 47. He was the first pitcher who spent the majority of his career as a reliever to be elected to the Hall of Fame. With the help of the survey website Qualtrics, I asked people to go position by position and rank the most-deserving players not in the Baseball Hall of Fame, ranging from 1 for most-deserving to 10 for least-deserving. He got just 10.5 percent of the Hall of Fame voting in 2016, his first year of eligibility, and was still only at 31.7 percent at last year. Copyright 2000-2023 Sports Reference LLC. The knock against Wagner is that he got some easy saves throughout his career. Eck didnt become a reliever until his age-32 season but still appeared in enough games to retire first on the games all-time list (1,070). But he will face the same hurdles as Bonds, Clemens and Sosa thanks to multiple transgressions with performance-enhancing drugs that included over a year-long suspension from baseball from 2013-14. What if Babe Adams hadnt been left to toil in the minor leagues for most of two seasons? He won 20 games three consecutive years right at the Tigers heyday in the mid-30s. Total Zone Rating and initial framework for Wins above Replacement calculations provided by Sean Smith. Q1 Rank the following pitchers, ranging from 1 for most-deserving of Hall of Fame induction to 10 for least-deserving, [From a survey of 425 respondents, fielded via Qualtrics]. Many thanks to him. Not every pitcher on this list should necessarily be in the HOF, but all of them could have been selected and voted in with the proper attention and support without any change in the historical standards that have been set. Rivera was literally dominant for close to two decades in a row. We have tools and resources that can help you use sports data. Historically, pitchers like Red Ruffing, Red Faber, Ted Lyons, Eppa Rixey, and Burleigh Grimes are in the HOF mostly because of their win totals. He was consistently good, winning 14 or more games 11 consecutive years, 6474. Stats (as reliever): 228 saves, 2.51 ERA, 1.131 WHIP, 2.04 K:BB, 147 ERA+, Accolades (as reliever): 6 All-Star appearances, 1 World Series ring, Baseball Hall of Fame. He was a great situation pitcher, and knew how to get out of a jam with his guile and assortment of breaking pitches. . The voting body has become skewed in their view of starting pitching in recent decades. In over 130 of his 390 starts for the team, they scored two or fewer runs. Reulbachs 97-39 record combined with Browns 114-42 for a 211-81 record over those five years. Perhaps some oversights can be corrected. Retired: John McGraw , Bobby Cox , Earl Weaver , . Kaat is at 2.3, nowhere near HoF level. (I cant imagine that happening todayleaving the potential ace of your staff in the minors for 50-plus decisions after he had shown his form had returned?). Cooper was slender and had a remarkable smooth and graceful delivery. He was less than stellar in the World Series though, famously giving up Kirk Gibsons home run and allowing a 5.79 ERA in six career Fall Classic appearances. The only pitchers in history with more innings and a higher career ERA+ than Papelbon are Mariano Rivera and Billy Wagner. He has the requisite 200 wins, over 40 shutouts, and his 2,832 Ks are still third among left-handed pitchers all-time. What if Billy Pierce and Bert Blyleven had received league average run support though the peak of their careers? Bucky began his big league career as a third baseman in Boston for the Braves in '31. Managers. Pappas, of Greek descent, was born in Detroit. Important: This chart does not include side-by-side comparisons for Hall of Fame pitchers who spent their entire career in the Negro Leagues (Baseball Almanac does not have the data from the Negro League).Those truly elite twirlers are: Ray Brown, Andy Cooper, Leon Day, Martin Dihigo, Bill Foster, Jose Mendez, Bullet Rogan, Hilton Smith and Joe Williams. 5) Billy Pierce (1945-1964) (3.27 ERA; ERA+ 119; 38 SHO; 3,306 IP/ 2,989 H/ 8.1 H/9; 1,999 K/ 1178 BB/ 1.70 ratio; 1.260 WHIP). Although posting a fine season in '67, he was never accepted by the Reds faithful, and was sent to Atlanta during the '68 season. 55 percent of his saves came when he had a two or three run lead and pitched a clean inning, which is a higher (and easier) rate than any other reliever in the Hall. He continued to dominate major league hitters for the next five years. Pitching in an era before closers were sexy, McMahon pitched 872 games out of the bullpen won . Honorable mentions: Bill Dahlen, Omar Vizquel, Jimmy Rollins, Nomar Garciaparra, Miguel Tejada, Jim Fregosi. His 1,804 Ks were a high number for the era. Awards. His control record surpasses even Christy Mathewson, Greg Maddux, and Pedro Martinez at their peaks. In Cleveland he won 25 or more games four times, and 40 games twice. He wasnt perfect think of the Luis Gonzalez walkoff single in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. Rocky Colavito, Vote: The most-deserving players not in the Baseball Hall of Fame at each position, The best baseball player not in the Hall of Fame, Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? The HOF process seemed uneven, and somewhat political. Wagner had three of them, and they came in three consecutive years (1997, 1998, and 1999). Stats: 341 saves, 2.90 ERA, 1.156 WHIP, 2.64 K:BB, 120 ERA+, Accolades: 7 All-Star appearances, 1 MVP, 1 Cy Young award, 3 World Series rings, 1 World Series MVP, Baseball Hall of Fame. 14) Bucky Walters (1934-1948,50) (198-160; 3.30 ERA; ERA+ 115; 42 SHO; 3,104 IP/ 2,990 H/ 8.7 H/9; 1,107 K/ 1,121 BB; 1.324 WHIP). Babe Adams had brief looks at the major leagues in 06 with the St. Louis Cardinals and 07 for the Pirates. His career postseason record shows a heightened excellence when the games really counted against the best competition. Cooper was born in West Virginia. Honorable mention: Andy Pettitte, Mark Buehrle, Ron Guidry, Tommy John, Mickey Lolich, Jimmy Key (CC Sabathia not yet eligible). 9 David Cone 4.3 In todays offensive-aided baseball, the closer is reduced to strictly a one inning role in the ninth inning, and managers are reluctant to even pitch their closer in non-save situations. In 43, his last year before joining the war effort, he went 12-7 with a 2.39 ERA (ERA+ 147), with three shutouts and only 159 hits allowed in 191 innings. Bridges is only six wins shy of the requisite 200 to be considered for the HOF. He featured a fastball, curve, and change-up with excellent control. Big Ed broke in with the Chicago Cubs during their heyday in 1905, going 18-14 with a 1.42 ERA. JAWS (Jaffe WAR Score Against Detroit, he pitched a five hitter to win Game Two, and a complete game shutout to win Game Five. He was arguably as good a pitcher as Whitey Ford. I challenge the veterans committee to take a good look at the pitchers whose careers have been bypassed for the honor of induction to the HOF. For his career he gave up only 430 BB in 2,995 innings. Stats: 652 saves, 2.21 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 4.10 K:BB, 205 ERA+. Holds MLB record with 652 saves. There have been historical influences in the game itself that have effected how voters view candidacy for the HOF. However, after a year and a half out of military service, the Tigers were impatient for him to regain his form. I found some interesting threads that could be followed up. The committee missed his team mate, Mordecai Brown, until after his death in 1948. Tommy Johns 288 wins are his strongest calling card. Al Lopez, the White Sox manager, refused to start Pierce in the 59 World Series. He was the fastest relief pitcher ever reach 200 career saves, he was the first closer ever to rack up at least 25 saves in each of his first five seasons, and hes the all-time leader in saves for two different franchises Boston and Philadelphia. For anyone who cares, heres a more detailed breakdown of the votes each pitcher received for each ranking. The 38 voters who gave Roger Clemens a ranking of 10 ranked Curt Schilling top, at 3.63 on average, followed by Tommy John at 4.18, and Luis Tiant at 4.24. Do you have a sports website? Why were pitchers like Pennock, Chesbro, and McGinnity going in before greats like Mordecai Brown and Kid Nichols? And its tough to ignore a frightening 10.13 ERA in the postseason. He failed to garner enough votes to make on the 15th try. Robinson went on to win the triple crown in '66 and the MVP award for the American League. Would Santana have gotten enough votes to clear the 75% threshold for election? After breaking in with the Cleveland Indians, Tommy John spent significant time with the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, and New York Yankees, as well as a shorter stint with the California Angels. Cooper struggled as a Cub and finished his career by '26. Being a relief pitcher often means you take an unconventional route. Over a five-year span, he led the league in saves twice, finished in the top six in Cy Young award voting four times, and turned in one of the most dominant seasons in baseball history in 1990: 0.61 ERA, 48 saves, 73 K to 4 BB in 73.1 IP. His momentum with BBWAA voters stalled out, and he didn't fare any better with the Today's Game Era Committee in late 2022, meaning that it's hard to see Bonds reaching Cooperstown anytime soon. Data Provided By That year, facing Ty Cobb and the Tigers in the postseason, the Pirates manager went on a hunch and started Adams in game one of the series. His initial surgery came after the 1974 season. So with a lack of a real statistical standout, how about Quiz? This is a truly dominant statistic for this era. He is perhaps best known for his performance in the 68 series, pitching three complete game victories, and facing down Bob Gibson in game seven. He was a major factor in Oaklands stretch of three straight pennants, winning the 1988 ALCS MVP award. Then with the Pirates down three games to one, he entered Game Five with the score tied in the 5th inning, and shut down the Orioles for the rest of the game, securing himself, and the Pirates, the win. Relief Pitcher - Don McMahon (22.4 WAR) McMahon may be the best reliever most modern baseball fans have never heard mentioned. He is 5-1 with a 2.47 ERA, 36 Ks against only 8 BB, and a WHIP of 1.077. "Billy the Kid was part of the Tigers post-war youth movement, getting a look with the club at age 18 in 45. He had ample zip on his fastball. Much of the play-by-play, game results, and transaction information both shown and used to create certain data sets was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by RetroSheet. Sabermetrics lover. I suspect he will reach the necessary 75 percent sometime in his remaining three years of eligibility. Honorable mentions: Graig Nettles, Ken Boyer, Sal Bando (Adrin Beltr not yet eligible). Relief LHP: Billy WagnerAmong all Live Ball Era pitchers with at least 750 innings, Wagner is the very best in strikeouts per nine innings (11.9) and WHIP (0.998) while also ranking behind only Mariano Rivera in ERA+ (187) and owning the sixth-highest save total in history (422). Bruce Sutter Career Stats (1976 - 1988) - Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta G IP W SV ERA FIP WHIP K/9 BB/9 FG War BR WAR 661 1,042 68 300 2.83 2.94 1.14 7.4 2.7 19.2 24.0 Tom Brady lost three Super Bowls. Not retired by 2017. Cooper may be the best pitcher in Pirates history. 2B: Lou WhitakerJeff Kent famously hit the most homers of any second baseman, thus making his exclusion from the Hall somewhat strange. Recently retired stars sure to get a serious look once theyre eligible -- such as Ichiro Suzuki, Joe Mauer and Adrin Beltr -- are noted in the honorable mentions below. there are differing levels of greatness and acclaim. Follow Cody Swartz on Twitter (@cbswartz5). Against the Yankees in the series, he pitched well in game two, but took a 3-2 loss. There are strong HOF arguments for and against Wagner. Relief Pitcher JAWS Leaders Table; Cy Young Awards Most WAR Player; Rk Name WAR WAR7 JAWS R-JAWS WAR/162 WAA #1 top5 Share #1 top5 Share Yrs From 1939-1946 Walters accumulated totals led the major leagues in wins, innings pitched; 2,030, complete games; 178, and ERA. Note that some players listed as HOFers may have been inducted for non-playing reasons. The committee found Charles Radbourn early on in their process in '39, but where were Tim Keefe ('63) and John Clarkson ('64)? Cy Young is the games career leader in losses. Featuring a slider-heavy arsenal, Lyle twice led the AL in saves and games finished, helping the Yankees to two titles. Theres no one since Randy Johnson who puts fear into batters like Aroldis Chapman does. He pitched Game Two of the Series, but was taken out with the score tied 2-2 in the 7th inning. He was consistently excellent for the Orioles, winning 12 or more games and posting a winning record every year with the team. 3B: Dick AllenIt's unfortunate that Allen (who died in December 2020) didn't live long enough to celebrate his induction, because he boasted some Cooperstown-worthy credentials. He was never comfortable in Cincinnati, often being booed even though the trade was not his fault. He pitched the vast majority of his career for the Pittsburgh Pirates. That said, here are some names I wanted to put in but didnt have space for this time: Verlander, Johan Santana, Dave Stieb, Andy Pettitte, Orel Hershiser, and Dwight Gooden. The 43 voters who ranked Tommy John, Jim Kaat, or Luis Tiant top overall gave Clemens an average ranking of 6.74, again ahead of only Ferrell and Reuschel. I guess his curve ball fooled a few batters. Honorable mention: Curt Schilling, Tim Lincecum, Luis Tiant, Dave Stieb, Kevin Brown, David Cone, Orel Hershiser, Roy Oswalt, Eddie Cicotte. Top 25 Relief Pitchers not in the Hall of Fame Quiz Stats - By adubbdubb Quizzes Along with those pitchers, Ill evaluate others with a case to be considered among the 10 best ever, which can be broken into categories of the modern (Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Francisco Rodriguez, Billy Wagner, and Joe Nathan), and the throwbacks (Sparky Lyle and Dan Quisenberry). I looked at some pitchers with shorter careers as well, and included some whose careers I thought made the greatest statements. Movies 8m getting voted into the Hall of Fame is difficult for relief . It's an ex-Chip's Worldand we're just picking up the pieces. He would have had more wins if he hadnt been held back to face the Yankees, or had been given better run support . He was a significant figure from his era, and should not be punished for his stand against the reserve clause. He proved it often enough. the official stats partner of the NBA, NHL and MLB. DH: Hal McRaeOnly six players have logged at least 7,500 career plate appearances while playing at least half their games at designated hitter. 7) Tommy Bridges (1930-1946) (194-138; 3.57 ERA; ERA+ 126; 33 SHO; 2,826 IP/ 2,675 H/ 8.5 H/9; 1,674 K/ 1,192 BB/ 1.40 ratio; 1.368 WHIP). He was scouted by Hal Newhowser, who encouraged him to sign with the Orioles. Then again, you typically dont get to 112 blown saves without being a great closer. Important note: For this exercise, we only considered players who have been retired for at least five years, the waiting time required before one can appear on a BBWAA ballot. Scary, we know. But Beltrn gets the slight edge, given his enviable combination of power (435 homers), speed (312 steals), defense (three Gold Gloves) and postseason heroics. From 1918-1924 he won 19 or more games six times. It barely existed when Babe Ruth and Ted Williams played, as starters would routinely pitch complete games. The pitchers of note among them areCharles Buffington, David Cone, Paul Derringer, Orel Hershiser, Larry Jackson, Jim Kaat, Carl Mays, Dave Stieb, Hippo Vaughn, and Doc White. 5 Bret Saberhagen 4.6 After a down year and a couple of years dealing with injury, he ended up in Boston where he re-invented himself in '72. It's fitting that Smoltz, Maddux, and Tom Glavine came back-to-back-to-back on this list, because for over a decade . Bucky wasnt done there. When he finished his career, his 1,999 strikeouts were fifth most for a left-handed pitcher. 10) Mickey Lolich (1963-1979) (217-191; 3.44 ERA; ERA+ 105; 41 SHO; 3,638 IP/ 3,366 H/ 8.3 H/9; 2,832 K/ 1,099 BB/ 2.58 K/BB ratio; 1.227 WHIP). The beloved submariner has a case for the 1980s best reliever, having won five Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Awards, finishing with a league-adjusted 146 ERA+ and helping the Royals claim two pennants and the 1985 World Series title. As Jaffe noted for FanGraphs in 2019, Whitaker belongs to a select group of players (and is the only second baseman besides Jackie Robinson) who finished their careers at least 200 batting runs, 50 fielding runs and 25 baserunning runs above average. In the 1970s, the closer was the pitcher that would enter the game with the bases loaded in the sixth inning and try to work out of a jam and then sometimes finish the game. Four pitchers in the HOF fall into this categoryDizzy Dean, Lefty Gomez, Sandy Koufax, and Addie Joss. Reulbach used a high leg kick, a la Juan Marichal, to hide the delivery of the best curve ball of his generation. He has been overlooked by the veterans committee. In 34 he out-dueled Dizzy Dean to win 3-1. So 2009 was perhaps Ichiro's best year, in terms of bonding with his teammates. During the season he went 12-0 for the team at Candlestick Park. The players had withstood enough abuse by 1890 and formed their own league. These are the primary factors I used in my evaluations: 10. 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