Tim Hudson, the Hall of Fame and the importance of Game 7

Someone asked me at work this morning who I see winning Game 7 of the World Series this evening. It’s a tough call. On one hand, I’ve been a Giants’ fan since first grade. Even my girlfriend, a devout A’s fan, hasn’t broken me of this. But I’ll admit my girlfriend and I didn’t make it through all of last night’s game. We’re big fans of the F/X series “Sons of Anarchy” and while the sixth season, which was just added to Netflix, has thus far been relentlessly downtrodden, it was a more appealing option than watching the Royals expand the 8-0 lead they took in the third inning last night.

Based on Tuesday’s game and the fact that no road team has won a World Series Game 7 since 1979, my gut says Kansas City will prevail this evening. And I don’t know if that bothers me too much. While the Giants have two titles from the past five seasons, “Back to the Future” was in theaters the last time the Royals won anything. I always like a good underdog story. But there’s a good thing that could happen if the Giants win tonight: Tim Hudson might cement his Hall of Fame candidacy.

In sabermetric circles, I suspect Hudson already seems destined for Cooperstown. According to the Baseball-Reference.com Play Index tool, Hudson’s lifetime 56.9 WAR is second-best among active pitchers, behind Mark Buehrle. Hudson bests Buehrle for FIP, 3.75 to 4.10 and ERA+ as well, 122 to 117. According to the Play Index tool, Hudson is also one of 13 pitchers who have at least 200 wins and a 120 ERA+ but aren’t enshrined. I suspect the majority of these pitchers will be inducted over the next 10-20 years. In alphabetical order, they are:

  • Kevin Brown, 211 wins, 127 ERA+
  • Bob Caruthers, 211 wins, 122 ERA+
  • Eddie Cicotte, 209 wins, 123 ERA+
  • Roger Clemens, 354 wins, 143 ERA+
  • Roy Halladay, 203 wins, 131 ERA+
  • Tim Hudson, 214 wins, 122 ERA+
  • Randy Johnson, 303 wins, 135 ERA+
  • Silver King, 203 wins, 121 ERA+
  • Pedro Martinez, 219 wins, 154 ERA+
  • Mike Mussina, 270 wins, 123 ERA+
  • Curt Schilling, 216 wins, 127 ERA+
  • John Smoltz, 213 wins, 125 ERA+
  • Will White, 229 wins, 121 ERA+

But sabermetrics has only recently entered into consideration for some Hall of Fame voters [with many other voters still rejecting it] and even by advanced metrics, Hudson doesn’t look anything like the lock Bert Blyleven was for Cooperstown. For WAR and ERA+, Hudson ranks as something like his generation’s version of Billy Pierce, maybe one of the more underrated pitchers in baseball history by sabermetrics but a distant Veterans Committee candidate today. Much as some of my friends in baseball research may protest, I fear Hudson is destined to be historically underrated as well. It’s why I didn’t recently predict Hudson being inducted in the next 20 years.

A memorable outing from Hudson tonight could change this. A memorable postseason performance can make a good but generally not great player a viable Hall of Fame candidate. Just ask Bill Mazeroski or Jack Morris. While much talk in the media today has centered around how much Madison Bumgarner may pitch in relief on three day’s rest, I’d like to think the 39-year-old Hudson has something special in store.

6 Replies to “Tim Hudson, the Hall of Fame and the importance of Game 7”

  1. Bill Mazerowski gained election for far more than game 7 in 1960, but for being considered the best defensive 2nd baseman historically from an “eye test” (and having initial and some current fielding statistics back that up). As Brooks Robinson and a number of shortstop gained entry primarily on defensive reputation, Mazerowski’s veteran’s committee election was under similar reasons. Right or wrong, I never heard game 7 brought up as a reason for election by anyone involved with HOF voting.

    Morris, on the other hand, is the anti-Blyleven. He’s the pitcher who’s gather up wins, who made All-Star games, and who gained a rep as a big game pitcher. There’s ton of Jack Morris type pitchers in the HOF, though mostly from big market teams. Morris’ non-election by the BBWAA was SOLELY because of sabermetrics having an influence, and makes me feel that Hudson will not benefit from a Game 7 performance toward election. Moreover, Morris had that positive reputation before his Game 7 … it solidified as something meaningful in people’s minds because of Game 7.

    My personal opinion – if Joe Carter doesn’t get any significant votes for the HOF because of his Series-winning HR, if Bobby Richardson didn’t get any significant votes for his game 7 saving catch … then I think there isn’t much to the Maz/Morris electionsor close-election. Instead, I think Maz got elected for defense, Morris almost got elected for wins and ASG, and both happened to have significant WS moments … which gets brought up a lot by fans, but isn’t really part of HOF voting.

    Hudson may or may not ever get in (my opinion is no), but even a perfect game tonight IMO wouldn’t get him elected in the next 20 years. With the veteran’s committee, all bets are off. His body of work through this season reads as someone who typically doesn’t get elected, noted mathematically by Bill James’ “Hall of Fame Monitor”. Hudson’s score of 64 FAR less than any recent BBWAA elected player (Perez at 81 the lowest recently, I believe).

  2. You wrote; “But sabermetrics has only recently entered into consideration for some Hall of Fame voters [with many other voters, a majority I’d guess, still rejecting it]”

    In the “old” days, I remember reading one guy’s opinion that the RBI was the most important statistic. Also, Vukovich and Hoyt “knew how to win,” when, in fact, they had the best run support in their league.

    We’ve come a long way. I remember telling my dad, who was not a big baseball fan, but did know what the game was all about, in the early nineties or so, that a revolution was starting to happen. (This was after I started to read Bill James’ work.)

    1. You’re right, Marc, we’ve come a long way. Just the fact that basic sabermetric stats like OPS are now commonplace in newspaper box scores and game broadcasts is progress.

      That said, a lot of fans and writers still make heavy use of RBIs. I also heard the “just knew how to win” argument a lot through Jack Morris’s Hall of Fame candidacy with the BBWAA.

  3. It was written by a reader; “if Bobby Richardson didn’t get any significant votes for his game 7 saving catch”

    There really wasn’t anything special about the catch. McCovey more or less hit it right to him. I would have expected any secondbaseman to catch it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *