Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dan Quisenberry and the Hall of Fame

Baseball’s Hall of Fame has been the subject of massive debates ever since its creation. There are players who have been undeservedly inducted and there are players who were worthy but inexplicably shunned anyway. It’s all politics of course, as baseball writers have voted with their hearts rather than their heads too many times. The various committee’s over the years - tasked to right some of the writers wrongs - sometimes failed miserably and eventually led to a situation where Bill Mazeroski is a Hall of Famer but Frank White isn’t. You’ll be hard pressed to find two players as similar offensively and defensively as Mazeroski and White. Not that I think White should be inducted mind you, at least not while Bobby Grich and Lou Whitaker, two of his more deserving peers are on the outside looking in. While White’s candidacy rests solely on Mazeroski, Dan Quisenberry is another story. His omission is one of the writer's greater sins. In 1996, his first year of eligibility, he received just 3.8% support (same as White) and was removed from the ballot the following year. To remain he would have needed to be on at least 5% of the ballots. It’s a mystery why Quisenberry was so lightly regarded because the numbers were there. During his six year peak from 1980 to 1985 he was arguably the best pitcher in baseball. Of the 120 pitchers to toss at least 600 innings in that time frame he was first in ERA+ (165), first in WHIP (1.087), first in saves (212) and sixth in brWAR (21.1, he was the only relief pitcher in the top 11). He finished in the top 5 in Cy Young voting five times and probably should have won the award in 1983. His career only lasted 12 seasons, which I suppose may have given some voters pause. But that didn’t stop them from electing Bruce Sutter, a statistically similar relief pitcher from the same era whose career also lasted only 12 seasons.

Player ▾ brWAR ERA+ SV WHIP
Sutter 25.0 136 300 1.140
Quisenberry 24.3 147 244 1.175

Provided a future committee deems him worthy Quis definitely wouldn't be the worst pitcher there. His 147 ERA+ is tied for fifth all time so he would actually be among the best.

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