Tim Hudson and the Hall of Fame

Posted By on April 11, 2011 1:01 pm

One of my loyal readers — I have perhaps as many as seven — emailed the other day to ask an interesting question:

Just throwing this out there: Tim Hudson could be quietly producing a Hall of Fame career. Career: 167-87 ERA: 3.41 WHIP: 1.24.

If he gets 200 wins, would you vote for him?

-Dale (athleticsafterdark.com)

I have to admit I had never really thought of Hudson as a Hall of Famer, but as I think about it and do a little research, he’s actually sniffing around the periphery.

Through his age 34 season, Hudson has some pretty good pitchers as comps. You see John Smoltz, Andy Pettitte, Kevin Brown, David Cone, Bret Saberhagen, etc. Of all of these, the only one who I think is a HOFer is Smoltz. He gets extra points, to me, because he was not only a dominant starter, but a dominant closer. I think Brown should have gotten a lot more than the 12 votes he got when he first showed up on the ballot this year. Not even enough to stick around on the ballot. I don’t think Pettitte is a HOFer either. He was a good pitcher who happened to be on a team that gave him a lot of opportunities to pitch in the postseason, but he was rarely the No. 1 pitcher on those teams.

So, if Hudson’s career ended today, I don’t think he is a HOFer. But his career isn’t over.

Hudson is 35, and he’s going to be 36 in July. With a normal career arc, he’d start to go downhill pretty quickly in the next couple years. However, it’s not a lock. It’s possible that he could continue to pitch at around the same level till he’s 40, like Pettitte did.

If Hudson can pitch four more seasons, including this one, at 200 innings per season, that would give him just over 3,000 innings at the end of 2014, when he’d be 39. Right now his career ERA+ is 128. Let’s say that age catches up to him a little and, after those 3,000 innings, his ERA+ falls to about 120.

Pitchers who have 3,000 or more innings with an ERA+ of 120 or better…

Rk Player ERA+ IP
1 Lefty Grove 148 3940.2
2 Walter Johnson 147 5914.1
3 Roger Clemens 143 4916.2
4 Mordecai Brown 139 3172.1
5 Cy Young 138 3312.1
6 Christy Mathewson 137 4755.0
7 Randy Johnson 136 4135.1
8 Pete Alexander 136 5190.0
9 Whitey Ford 133 3170.1
10 Greg Maddux 132 5008.1
11 Carl Hubbell 130 3590.1
12 Curt Schilling 128 3261.0
13 Bob Gibson 128 3884.1
14 Stan Coveleski 128 3082.0
15 Tom Seaver 128 4783.0
16 Kevin Brown 127 3256.1
17 Jim Palmer 126 3948.0
18 John Smoltz 125 3473.0
19 Eddie Cicotte 123 3226.0
20 Juan Marichal 123 3507.0
21 Mike Mussina 123 3562.2
22 Eddie Plank 122 4495.2
23 Bob Feller 122 3827.0
24 Don Drysdale 121 3432.0

Looks like a lot of Hall of Famers to me. I’d say if Hudson can manage to get himself on that list, he’s got a good chance of getting in the HOF. (Again, how come so little love for Kevin Brown?) However, that’s a big if. Guys who are 35 years old very often go downhill pretty quickly. If we expand that list above to include pitchers whose career ERA+ is only 110 over only 2,700 innings, you see a lot more non-HOFers on there, obviously.

(You’ll note that I haven’t mentioned anything about wins. I think we all know wins aren’t the best measure of a pitcher. I do think Hudson’s .658 winning percentage, which is one of the all-time best, is worth noting, though.)

Hudson definitely has a shot at it, if he can defy father time and keep pitching well for another four or five years. Much short of that, though, and he won’t make it.


One Response to “Tim Hudson and the Hall of Fame”

  1. Jacob says:

    Great discussion Fletch. Got me thinking about Roy Halladay. Where would rank him in terms of the Hall? Last fall there was much talk that Halladay is dominant pitcher of his era. So I thought I’d line up his career next to Hudson’s. Surprisingly similar. Few more strikeouts for Halladay. A few less hits allowed by Hudson.

    Roy Halladay 1998-2011
    W:170 L86 ERA:3.31 IP:2310.1 H: 2239 SO:1727 ERA+137

    Tim Hudson 1999-2011
    W:167 L:87 ERA:3.41 IP:2303.0 H:2158 SO:1548 ERA+:128

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