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I haven't done these in a while. In the past couple months, I have since been paying much more attention to stats and the like, and have also read Bill James' book Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame? I have since discussed a technically active player, and a retired player who's still barely on the BBWAA ballot. So, I looked at the class of 2009. Rickey Henderson is in, no question. No one else will likely get 5% of the vote, except for one person who I found to be interesting. This person is David Cone, pitcher for the Mets, Royals, Blue Jays, Yankees, and Red Sox during his 17-year career. Well, let's get this list rolling.
- 1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball? Nope. Upon checking a couple news sources I found nothing close.
- 2. Was he the best player on his team? During his tenure on the New York Mets from 1987 to 1992, I'd say not really. He was about on par with Dwight Gooden, or at least in the same neighborhood. Cone tended to win the wins battle, Gooden the ERA battle, though this occasionally switched. He wasn't that much better than Sid Fernandez either, who tended to win the ERA battle against Cone. Neither got 5% of the vote, Fernandez under 1%, Gooden 3.3%. As a member of the Kansas City Royals, he was the best one year, Kevin Appier was best the other year. Appier was a good player, but not on anyone's HoF list. His time on the Blue Jaysand Red Sox was limited, so I'll skip it. As a member of the New York Yankees? Shockingly, I'm going to say yes. Despite limited time in 95 and 96, his win-loss record and ERA were great. Only comparative player was Andy Pettite during their times together (who you could argue were a very effective one-two punch). What does that mean? The best on 1 of 3 times, not sure if that's an HoFer.
- 3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, etc. So nope.
- 4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races? In eight seasons his team made the playoffs, and they were second in a couple others, so yes. He's a five-time World Series champion, which is huge no matter which way you look at it. In those 5 World Series, he pitched 6 games (5 starts) and had an ERA of 2.12. His September/October ERA is 3.43, nearly identical to his career 3.46 ERA.
- 5. Was he good enough that he could play regularly after passing his prime? Depends what "past his prime" means. After 36 his career REALLY fizzled, but before then he remained a great pitcher. I'd say yeah, but not by much.
- 6. Is he the very best baseball player in history who is not in the Hall of Fame? Nope, there's plenty of pitchers better. Bert Blyleven, Tommy John, Jim Kaat.
- 7. Are most players who have comparable statistics in the Hall of Fame? I'll split this into three parts: ERA, Wins, Win-loss record. His ERA is identical to the following pitchers: Paul Derringer, Dock Ellis, Grant Jackson, Rudy May, Dave Righetti, Curt Schilling. Bob Welch and Kaat have near-identical ERAs as well. Welch is the best one to compare him to, and since he got 1 vote, I can't say that bodes well. So ERA, definitely no. Wins, also definitely no. If you have under 200 wins you better be exceptional elsewhere, as is the case for Sandy Koufax, Lefty Gomez, and a few others. Win-loss record, somewhat. 60.6% is good, (beats Tom Seaver and Walter Johnson), but you need the win total to make it significant. However, his 2662 strikeouts are great, I can't call it a hall of fame number though. Frank Tanana and Chuck Finley have similar totals, but don't have HoF followings.
- 8. Do the player's numbers meet Hall of Fame standards? (see also: Black Ink Test) the HoF Monitor says 103, while the HoF standards come out to 39. Good, but not great. I'll say "kinda" for this one.
- 9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics? Not really. He played for real good teams, so actualyl his win count should've been a lil higher than it was, I think.
- 10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame? See #6
- 11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close? He is a Cy Young Award winner, finished third once, fourth twice, nd sixth once. 1999 was a weak Cy Young year (his 6th place finish) so I can't really count that. I'd replace it with 1997 though, so 5 MVP type seasons is really good.
- 12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the players who played in this many All-Star games go into the Hall of Fame? He was in five all-star games, and could have been argued for one or two more. It's a pretty good amount for an incoming borderline hall-of-famer.
- 13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant? Well, when he was they did, so yeah.
- 14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way? He is one of the people who have pitched a perfect game, which always carries some weight. He also won the Hutch Award in 1998 (every single person I evaluae happens to win this award). His 19-K game uts him in good company as well. Did he "change" the game though? No.
- 15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider? Seems like it, yes.
- CONCLUSION: Well, it's iffy. Accolades wise, he seems to fit the bill of a Hall of Fame member. Stats wise, he seems to fit the bill of a good baseball player. He was definitely a workhorse who struck people out, and the Hall loves strikeout pitchers. Throw in a third 20-win season in there, 350 extra strikeouts, and I think you could argue him in. Unfortunately, I just don't see it. If I had a vote I would not vote him in. So what's the verdict for 2009 for him? He'll get the 5% needed to stay in, he was a key part of the late 90s Yankee dynasty. If I had to take a guess, I'd say around 12% the first time through, peaking at around 25-30%. I'd be surprised if he got in the Hall. I don't think he quite has the creds. Basically, how well would Dwight Gooden have done if you take away his problems? There's your answer.
As for the Keltner list, I feel like maybe I should try out evaluating Hall of Fame possibilities going beyond that. As a result, i'll still use it, but this'll be my last one solely using it. I'm delving deeper into the Hall of Fame, next article.