Could Waino Have Been a Hall of Famer?

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  • #148350
    stlcard25stlcard25
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    …if not for the major injuries in 2011 and 2015, that is…?

    With the Cooperstown thread, I’ve been thinking about the current and former Cards who may eventually make the Hall. We had Simmons and Walker last year, and Scott Rolen should take a nice jump forward and should make the Hall in the next few years. Edmonds may eventually sneak in through the committee, but it’s far from certain. Albert will be a first ballot entry when he’s eligible, and I think Yadi will make it as well.

    That leaves our old war horse, Waino. Looking at his stats, you would definitely say that Waino would be in the Hall of Very Good if there was one. He’s got a 167-98 career record with a 3.38 career ERA, 7.6 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. He led the league in wins twice, innings pitched twice, won two Gold Gloves, finished 2nd in the Cy Young voting twice and 3rd two other times. He’s been a stalwart for the Cardinal franchise that has won two World Series and been perhaps the most successful franchise in baseball during his time with the team.

    That said, his career WAR is just a touch over 40, which is very good. 12th in the pecking order since he came into the league, in fact. But that doesn’t get you to the Hall of Fame. All of his Hall of Fame stats on BBRef show a pitcher who is certainly one of the best of his generation, but not quite good enough to make it to Cooperstown.

    However, since it’s the off season, I wanted to play a little “what if” game. Waino has certainly had his fair share of major injuries. He missed significant time in 2008, 2017 and 2018. He missed the entire season in 2011 with TJ surgery recovery, and an Achilles injury cost him nearly the entire 2015 season. Further, one thing we’ve seen clearly from Waino in his career is that he’s struggled coming back from long injury layoffs more than most. For this thought experiment, I’m going to ignore his time off in 2008 and the shortened seasons in 2017 and 2018. No pitcher is going to stay perfectly healthy their entire career. So we will focus on the lost 2011 and 2015 seasons and the two following seasons.

    Here is Waino’s 2009-2016 run:

    2009: 19-8, 2.63 ERA, 233 IP, 6.3 WAR, 3rd in C Young
    2010: 20-11, 2.42 ERA, 230.1 IP, 6.2 WAR, 2nd in Cy Young
    2011: Missed Season
    2012: 14-13, 3.94 ERA, 198.1 IP, 0.9 WAR
    2013: 19-9, 2.94 ERA, 241.2 IP, 6.3 WAR, 2nd in Cy Young
    2014: 20-9, 2.38 ERA, 227 IP, 6.1 WAR, 3rd in Cy Young
    2015: 2-1, 1.61 ERA, 28 IP, 0.9 WAR
    2016: 13-9, 4.62 ERA, 198.2 IP, 1.2 WAR

    So what would things look like without those two big injuries? Well, you can never say for sure, but Waino rang up four 6 WAR seasons around the missed 2011 and off 2012 seasons. So let’s say that he has one normal year and a slightly worse year, and project 10 WAR for those two years. Then in 2015 he was older, but had a very good start to the year before he went down. Still, perhaps he has a 4.5 WAR year there and a 3 WAR year in 2016 as he’s aging semi gracefully. Wins and losses are even more difficult to project, but conservatively we could probably expect 15 wins in 2011 and 2012 (+1 from his actual total) and another 15 in 2015 (+13). Let’s leave 2016 alone in the win total. Now, those extra seasons could have included another 2-3 top finishes in the Cy Young, and maybe even that elusive victory. Wouldn’t that have been sweet?

    Where does that leave our “better luck Waino?” Well, rather than 167 wins, Waino now would have 196, right on the doorstep of 200 (you’d better bet that Waino would be coming back for 2021 then!). Rather than sitting at 41.0 WAR, he’d be at 55.4 WAR. Enough for Cooperstown if you’re at 6 or 7 top 3 Cy Young finishes (and maybe even a win?), 200 wins, two World Series titles, two or three Gold Gloves, etc? I think he’d be well within the conversation, if not in!

    Anyway, what say you?

    #148353
    Brian WaltonBrian Walton
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    A well-reasoned case. For it to sell me completely, I would want to compare the “healthy” Waino stats with other Hall candidates from across MLB to see how he would stack up.

    #148358
    stlcard25stlcard25
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    Baseball Reference doesn’t allow for easy searching of such things (at least that I’ve found), but on Fangraphs leaderboards, 55.4 WAR would rank him 66th. There are a number of Hall of Famers between 60th and 80th on their list, and a number of guys who won’t be. Dwight Golden, David Cone, Jack Morris, Brett Saberhagen, Luis Tiant, Whitey Ford, Sandy Koufax, Felix Hernandez, Roy Oswalt and others fall there.

    #148360
    Brian WaltonBrian Walton
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    I happened to come across this article today which states that 1.1% of MLB pitchers reach the Hall. It also includes some eye-opening data as to the increasing difficulty for any starting pitchers to get in.

    https://www.mlb.com/news/hall-of-fame-mlb-induction-standards

    #148361
    jj-cf-stljj-cf-stl
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    7 yr peak war at BR (Jaws) might be what BW is referring to?

    Not sure how to expand on “when healthy” vs “when playing”.

    #148362
    stlcard25stlcard25
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    JAWS would have hypothetical Waino in the upper 40s, well below the “typical” score of 61.6. At 47.7, he’d be ahead of only 13 other HOF starters. Obviously he’d need some help from the award end of things to make it a surer case.

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