A few weeks ago I wrote a Should or Shouldn’t about Roy Halladay. In that article I used Tom Glavine as a comparison, but what I found was that Tom Glavine’s career wasn’t particularly impressive. While his record was 305-203, his ERA was only 3.54 and his FIP was 3.95. He wasn’t a big strike out guy either, with his K/9 averaging 5.32. In the end, he retired with a career fWAR of 66.9, not bad, but also not necessarily what someone would expect from a first ballot Hall of Famer. But in my opinion, Tom Glavine wouldn’t be held in the same regard if he didn’t win 300 games. He definitely wouldn’t have been a first ballot Hall of Famer. The 300 win milestone is ridiculous and has no place in evaluating pitchers.
The major issue with the 300 wins milestone is that a pitcher’s team has such a huge impact on wins. For example, Felix Hernandez is often regarded as one of the best pitchers of the last ten years. He has a Cy Young Award (2010) and has also thrown a perfect game. But in twelve seasons he’s only had over 15 wins twice. One of those was in 2015, when he went 18-9. But that season he had a 3.53 ERA and his fWAR was only 2.8. For comparison, in 2010 he went 13-12 but posted a 2.27 ERA. His career record currently sits at 147-105 with an ERA of 3.23. His career shows that there isn’t necessarily a correlation between a pitcher’s ability and wins.
Mike Mussina is another example and someone that could benefit from a reevaluation of the voting system. Mussina’s career ERA is 3.68 with a 3.57 FIP. He also has 270 career wins. That puts him right around Glavine’s numbers. But he has more career strike outs with 2,813, compared to Glavine’s 2,607. He also bests Glavine in fWAR with 88.2. Yet, in 2016, his third year on the ballot, he only received 43% of the vote for Cooperstown.
Here’s an even better example. Pedro Martinez is arguably one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball history. He has a career ERA of 2.93. His career FIP is 2.91. And that came during the height of the steroid era. But Pedro Martinez also only had 219 career wins. While he was elected into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, it goes to show that there is so much more to pitching than how many wins someone ends up with.
Now I’m not saying that Glavine doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame. I’m saying that him being a first ballot Hall of Famer because he has 300 wins is one of the dumbest things in sports, especially when a similar pitcher, like Mussina, can’t even get in after three years on the ballot. It’s ridiculous and it has to change. It’s possible we never see another 300 game winner, so are voters going to say that none of these guys belong in the Hall of Fame? Things are going to have to change, and voters are going to have to accept that there are better ways to measure a player’s success.
Stats courtesy of FanGraphs.