The most-deserving players not in the Hall of Fame: Pitchers

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A few weeks ago, I kicked off a challenge here.

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. I gave a list of 10 players at each position, based primarily on who I thought voters would expect to be in the poll.

That said, after 425 responses, voting has officially wrapped for this poll. I will be presenting the results here of the survey over the next week or so, going position by position. Today, it’s my pleasure to present how people voted on pitchers.

Q1 – Rank the following pitchers, ranging from 1 for most-deserving of Hall of Fame induction to 10 for least-deserving

PlayerAverage ranking
Roger Clemens2.44
Curt Schilling3.50
Kevin Brown5.29
David Cone5.52
CC Sabathia5.55
Tommy John5.56
Luis Tiant5.68
Jim Kaat5.92
Wes Ferrell7.60
Rick Reuschel7.94

[From a survey of 425 respondents, fielded via Qualtrics]

No real surprises at the top, I suppose. Opposition has cooled considerably in recent years toward enshrining Clemens, a brilliant pitcher long before rumors of performance enhancing drug use surfaced. He drew 59.5 percent of the vote in his most recent appearance on the writers’ ballot for Cooperstown. I suspect he will reach the necessary 75 percent sometime in his remaining three years of eligibility. The ballot just isn’t that strong over the next few years.

Looking at the names below, Curt Schilling is probably moving toward enshrinement. I’m struck by the parity between Kevin Brown and Jim Kaat. I’m a little bummed to see Wes Ferrell and Rick Reuschel anchoring the list, though it’s not stunning. I put Ferrell and Reuschel in the survey partly in tribute to my friend and fellow baseball researcher Adam Darowski, who has advocated heavily for their induction in recent years, though each has a nuanced case that could be overlooked in a quick survey. That said, if I field this again in the future, I’ll probably sub in Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer for Ferrell and Reuschel.

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. I contemplated going 15 names just for pitchers, but thought it would look too out of sync with the rest of the survey. That said, here are some names I wanted to put in but didn’t have space for this time: Verlander, Johan Santana, Dave Stieb, Andy Pettitte, Orel Hershiser, and Dwight Gooden.

For anyone who cares, here’s a more detailed breakdown of the votes each pitcher received for each ranking.


Qualtrics allows more sophisticated functionality. While I was limited through my free account to 10 questions and thus chose to forgo demographic questions to get the maximum amount of data, it is possible to use filters to show how certain voters voted. I’ll be diving into the filters more as I post about the results of other positions, but for now, here are a few fun ones:

  • The 41 voters who ranked Schilling first ranked Clemens eighth-worst among the field, ahead of only Wes Ferrell and Rick Reuschel, with an average ranking for Clemens of 7.00.
  • 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. I’m struck again by the level of parity in this survey after Clemens. Were there a clear consensus, someone would be closer to 1 here.
  • 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’ll get into comparisons for Clemens with some of the other controversial candidates in this survey (Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Shoeless Joe Jackson, and Pete Rose) as I get to those results posts. There are some interesting findings to highlight along these lines as we get there.

That said, look for the results for catchers tomorrow. I’ll add in hyperlinks for each subsequent post, allowing anyone who happens upon this post later to easily be able to navigate between the different positions.

One Reply to “The most-deserving players not in the Hall of Fame: Pitchers”

  1. The top ten pitchers eligible but not in the HoF, by rWAR/200 IP, minimum 2000 IP:

    1 Roger Clemens 5.7
    2 Johan Santana 5.1
    3 Curt Schilling 4.9
    4 Wes Ferrell 4.7
    5 Bret Saberhagen 4.6
    6 Roy Oswalt 4.5
    7 Noodles Hahn 4.4
    8 Urban Shocker 4.4
    9 David Cone 4.3
    10 Kevin Appier 4.2

    Bob Caruthers was between Cone and Appier, but a lot of his value was from playing the field as well. If we limit it to 3000 innings, here’s the top ten:

    1 Roger Clemens 5.7
    2 Curt Schilling 4.9
    3 Kevin Brown 4.2
    4 Rick Reuschel 4.0
    5 Luis Tiant 3.8
    6 Tim Hudson 3.8
    7 Andy Pettitte 3.7
    8 Chuck Finley 3.7
    9 Charlie Buffinton 3.7
    10 Orel Hershiser 3.6

    Sabathia is at 3.5 right now. Kaat is at 2.3, nowhere near HoF level. And John is at 2.6, not much better.

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