Normally, I wouldn’t even address a pitcher’s won/loss record. They aren’t useless, they aren’t irrelevant, but they are something that should be overlooked when evaluating a player’s performance. Front offices don’t look at a pitcher’s wins and losses, so why should we? Exactly. They should be nothing more than a fun little stat to add to all the other fun little stats that have use, but are closer to useless than practical.
But 305 wins for a pitcher, well that’s extraordinary. But an extraordinary number doesn’t necessarily translate into extraordinary performance.
The 305 wins (and 203 losses) HAS to be looked at, and addressed. Because in 2014 when Tom Glavine is considered for induction into baseball’s most prestigious sanctuary, those 305 wins are going to be discussed, frequently. Very frequently. Nearly every old-school writer, former player and most fans of Glavine’s era, are going to be backing him up, using that number: The number 305.
Just to delve into wins and losses for a second if you happen to have come across this article in an old-school mindset:
A pitcher controls less than half of the outcome of a baseball game. The offense controls 50 percent. The fielders control some. And we can add in that a manager affects some of the game too, we just don’t know how much. So we will just use a manager’s impact, whatever it may be, and include that in the production of the offense, pitching and defense.
So you can see there why wins and losses should not be looked at when determining the quality of a pitcher.
So what is it that makes a Hall of Famer? Greatness. Yes, simply put, greatness makes a Hall of Fame player. They do great things on a baseball field, for a long enough period of time, to allow us as critics to say, “Wow, that guy was a great player.” A player can actually go through his career without being exceptional at any one aspect of his game, yet still be an exceptional player, a Hall of Fame player, a great player.
Yet, when it comes to pitchers, the guy kinda has to be great at pitching. Because pitcher fielding is nearly useless. And a pitcher’s bat is normally about the equivalent of Jeff Francouer’s swings against sliders out of the strike zone.
Tom Glavine was a very good pitcher. He accumulated 63 fWAR in his career, 74 bWAR, 118 ERA+, 3.54 base ERA. Very, very good pitcher. His WAR totals are right in that threshold where Hall of Famers “on the brink” usually sit. Players that could be looking in, or looking out, based on a little subjectivity and bias from the writers who induct these guys.
But Tom Glavine had a 3.95 FIP. And if you believe in FIP; that’s not great. He pitched in the National League, so that FIP includes the pitchers he faced — which are easier to strike out, less likely to walk, and extremely unlikely to go deep.
Two times in Glavine’s career, he struck out more than seven batters per nine innings. He kept his walks under control, walking 3 per nine throughout his career. But that’s not “exceptional.” Neither that nor his strikeouts per nine innings are.
Glavine won two Cy Youngs, and finished in the top-five in voting six! times. Remarkable, yet equated to the subjective. I’m not saying he didn’t deserve those awards, I’m just saying that a lot of noise goes into the process of who receives the award.
Dwight Evans was a very good baseball player. One of the better defenders at the corner and well above average offensively.
Orel Hershiser racked up 204 wins in his career and once went 59 consecutive innings without allowing a run.
As for Tom Glavine, he pitched very well, for a long, long time, on one of the greatest runs by an organization that any sport has ever seen. He made it to the postseason several times because of the talent of he and his supporting cast. And during his time in October, he performed incredibly well. To the tune of a 3.30 ERA in 218 innings. And that probably meant his opponents were better than average offenses than he faced in the regular season, given that they were good enough to qualify for postseason play.
But listen to some of the deserving names for the potential 2014 Hall of Fame ballot:
Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Edgar Martinez, Alan Trammell, McGwire, Frank Thomas, Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent.
Then you have a few outsiders that aren’t quite in the same caliber: Sammy Sosa, Jack Morris, Rafael Palmeiro, etc.
There are so many more deserving players than Glavine in next year’s class. But there are clouds overhead with many of them. And Glavine doesn’t have a cloud following him around wherever he goes.
I expect Glavine to get voted in: 305 wins. No storm-cloud. Played for a great, winning organization. Seemed to be well-liked by anyone that came across him. Or at least I know of no incidents surrounding him.
This will be why Tom Glavine gets into the Hall of Fame. Because of very good pitching, along with very well-known variables by anyone that knows anything about Tom Glavine.
But I don’t think he should be inducted. He was never an exceptional pitcher. It wouldn’t be an egregious decision by any means. And he wouldn’t be the worst player in the Hall of Fame
But the most exceptional thing about Tom Glavine’s career was that he, or anyone for that matter, could pitch that well, for that long.