By popular acclamation, here’s a game thread. Tim Hudson is sitting on 199 career wins, and the Pittsburgh Pirates are all that stand between him and 200. His 199 make him the 113th-winningest pitcher of all time; four pitchers, including Roy Halladay, are tied with 200.
Hudson has been an extremely good pitcher for an extremely long time, and it’s worth asking the question: just how close is he to the Hall of Fame?
The answer is: not likely, though not impossible. He’s already had a better career than some of the more marginal pitching inductees, bottom-of-the-barrel HOFers like Jesse Haines and Rube Marquard, and short-career wonders like Dizzy Dean, Bob Lemon, and Addie Joss. But he’s 37, and he’ll need a bit of oomph on this side of 40 to get serious consideration.
As far as the traditional stats are concerned, his 54.8 rWAR is 76th of all time among pitchers, his 1814 strikeouts are 92nd of all time, and his career win-loss percentage of .657 is 21st of all time, and undoubtedly at least one column will be written to champion his candidacy largely on that basis.
Then there are a bunch of stats that Baseball-Reference tracks that make him look really good that I really don’t understand, but they all seem to do with linear weights. He’s 38th all time in Adjusted Pitching Runs, 23rd in Base-Out Runs Saved, 26th of all time in Situational Wins Saved, and 28th in Win Probability Added, the only one of those that I’d heard of. Among all starting pitchers, Hudson is 85th of all time by Jay Jaffe’s JAWS, which is an adjusted WAR that values a pitcher’s total career along with his peak.
I simply don’t believe that Hudson is one of the 30 best starting pitchers who ever lived. But he very well could be one of the 90 best. Right now, there are something like 58 major league starting pitchers in the Hall of Fame. (That is, excluding Negro Leaguers, relievers, and Dennis Eckersley.)
Per B-Ref similarity scores, Hudson’s 10 most similar pitchers are C.C. Sabathia, Roy Halladay, Dwight Gooden, Dave McNally, Jimmy Key, Dazzy Vance, Lefty Gomez, Ron Guidry, Lon Warneke, and David Cone. That’s two Hall of Famers and two guys in Sabathia and Halladay who have the potential of getting there, if they can both work through their 2013 reduction in velocity.
The last three years, Hudson’s WAR totals have gone like this: 5.7, 2.9, 1.6. If Hudson averaged 2.9 over the next three years, he would be a relatively strong Hall of Fame candidate, and even if he weren’t elected there would be a good chance that he would get inducted by the Veterans Committee. But if he can’t do that, then he’ll have to join Guidry, Key, Gooden, and others in the Hall of Very Good.
Obviously, it’s still a weird time here in Boston. So I’ll just play one of my favorite songs ever. Go get ’em, Braves.