Friday, February 12, 2010

Tom Glavine's career in perspective

It seems like players are retiring left and right. Now, it's Tom Glavine's turn to go under the Hall-Of-Fame Microscope.

Tom Glavine finished his career as a member of the prestigious 300-win club and did so in an era of specialized bullpens, five men starting rotations and in an era that de-emphasized pitching.

Based on the similarity scores index, Glavine has a strong but not rock-solid case. Five of the similar pitchers (Early Wynn, Tom Seaver, Red Ruffing, Mickey Welch and Burleigh Grimes are Hall of Famers).

However, unlike Thomas and Delgado, the similar players not in can't be attributed to still being active, being retired for less than five years or being a poster child for steroid use. Three of the pitchers on the similar pitchers list (Tommy John, Jim Kaat and Jack Morris) have been on the outside looking in regarding Cooperstown and are likely to do so for the foreseeable future.

This indicates that there may be a case against induction but under further scrutiny it is a pretty weak one. Looking at his body of work, Glavine did more to stand out then the similar pitchers who failed to make the cut.

First of all, he was the only one out of these four to win 300 games. While games won by itself is not the best actual indicator (he was helped by playing on some very good Braves teams), getting past the 300-win landmark is something that will get the attention of voters who aren't sure one way or another.

Another thing helping his case was that his best was better than the best of the other pitchers. In addition to being the only one amongst these four pitchers to win a Cy Young Award (He did it twice) he also had 4 other seasons where he was in the top 3 for Cy Young Voting. In comparison, Tommy John finished second twice and Jack Morris finished third twice. In other words, he was in the top 3 more times than John, Kaat and Morris Combined.

Even the other area (ERA+) that could be used as an argument against shows Glavine above and beyond these pitchers that fell short. His ERA+ for his career was an excellent but lower than I expected 118 +. However, that number is artificially deflated by his age 21-24 years when he was still developing and had yet to peak as a player. Even with those 4 years factored in he outpaced John (110 ERA+), Kaat (107 ERA+) and Morris (105 ERA+) in this department.

Finally, in the 4 metrics to determine Hall-Of-Famers on Baseball-Reference, Glavine makes the cut in 3 of them, Morris only does it twice and Kaat/John make the cut once each.

During my analysis of the numbers, Glavine's resume still holds up impressively but it wasn't as sure of a thing that I thought it was going to be and nothing blew me away like Frank Thomas' 8 years of 174 OPS+ and above.

Still, under further scrutiny, Glavine's profile holds up very well. While wins my be an outdated metric, to pitch good enough to win 300 times is still impressive. Also the neighborhood that his career numbers live in is good enough for five Hall-Of-Famers and his resume stands out from the non Hall-Of Famers living in his neighborhood. Morris may be famous for beating the Braves in Game 7 of 1991 but Glavine looks to be more likely to be famous for getting into Cooperstown.

No comments:

Post a Comment