Will Tim Hudson be a one-and-done Hall of Fame candidate?

'Cooperstown Chances' examines the Baseball Hall of Fame case of one candidate each week. This spans the large number of players currently on the ballot for the Baseball Writers' Association of America, as well as active stars and long-retired players eligible for consideration through the Veterans Committee. This week: Tim Hudson.Who he is: On Sept. 8, the man who has quietly ranked as the winningest active pitcher the past two seasons announced he’ll retire at the end of this year. In quitting, Tim Hudson may have also finally shut the door on his Hall of Fame candidacy. MORE: Sporting News selects the most beloved player ever for every teamFor the past few years, 40-year-old Hudson has seemed destined to be the kind of candidate sabermetricians lament: worthy of Cooperstown, but only after far more consideration than the average voter from the Baseball Writers' Association of America will ever give. Baseball history is littered with these types of pitchers, the Rick Reuschels, David Cones and Kevin Browns of the sport. The best thing Hudson seemed to have going for his candidacy was a kind of agelessness and ability to keep building traditional stats many voters still rely on. It’s unfortunate a pitcher has a far better chance for Cooperstown with 250 wins than 200 and is a lock with 300 wins unless his name is Roger Clemens, but it is what it is. The best thing a starting pitcher can do for a plaque is keep getting credited for wins. According to Baseball-Reference.com, 12 of the 23 pitchers since 1871 with 250-299 wins are enshrined; 19 of 69 pitchers with 200-249 wins are in.Hudson’s 221-132 record and 3.49 ERA might get him 10 or 15 percent of the BBWAA vote when he becomes eligible in five years. Sure, voters will remember Hudson and some may even write columns praising his consistency and professionalism. Plaque or no, Hudson ranks as one of the best pitchers of his generation. Critics of sabermetrics can point to Hudson as one of the reasons the Moneyball A’s won as often as they did. But nowhere close to the necessary 75 percent of voters will support Hudson out of the gate.Last week, Grant Brisbee of SB Nation wrote a nice tribute to Hudson, recounting his rise from forgotten prospect in the Oakland system to rotation-anchoring starter. Brisbee added:But he's not going to the Hall of Fame. It'll be close, and I've been wrong before, but he's more Roy Oswalt than Randy Johnson, more Andy Pettitte than Greg Maddux. There's going to be a sense of great-not-legendary around him in five years, and he won't even have the defining postseason moments of a Jack Morris to help him out.If history is a guide, Hudson could fare worse than Brisbee expects in Hall of Fame voting. It wouldn’t be stunning, in fact, to see Hudson go the way of Reuschel, Cone, and Brown, who all received less than 5 percent of the vote their only time on the writers ballot. There’s an inglorious term for this: one-and-done.Cooperstown chances: 10 percentWhy: Hall of Fame voters simply aren’t kind to sabermetric bubble candidates. Just ask Mike Mussina, who has far better advanced stats than Hudson but received 24 percent in the most recent writers vote. Or ask Bert Blyleven, who looked like an easy selection by sabermetrics but needed 14 years on the Hall of Fame ballot and whose induction is still bemoaned by traditionalists. And Mussina and Blyleven are two of the rare success stories, relatively speaking. No one flipped any tables when Bret Saberhagen or Dave Stieb came and went from the Hall of Fame ballot.With candidates like Hudson, who made a handful of All Star appearances and never won a Cy Young Award, voters are quick and unforgiving. Many voters don’t want to spend a lot of time thinking about a candidate. That, to them, is the sign of a player who doesn’t deserve induction. For these kinds of voters, if a player doesn’t look like a Hall of Famer, whatever that means to them, that’s often enough.In general, voters don’t have the mindset of my friend Adam Darowski, a New England web developer, fellow member of the Society for American Baseball Research, and unrivaled Hall of Fame enthusiast. A few years ago, fed up with the varying and sometimes inscrutable standards for Cooperstown, Darowski created his own version of the place, the Hall of Stats. It’s the kind of website where sabermetric favorite sons like Lou Whitaker, Dwight Evans, and Bobby Grich get their due, an ideal place for a candidate like Hudson to build support.Hudson’s page at the Hall of Stats is an interesting thing. Darowski has Hudson with a 107 Hall Rating, ranking him as the 205th best player in baseball history and the 67th best pitcher, a viable Hall candidate. Other corners of the sabermetric community aren’t as high on Hudson. With 48.5 JAWS, Hudson falls well short of the average for Hall of Fame pitchers, 62.1. His 58.6 WAR is also well short of many pitchers in Cooperstown. Hudson rates better for JAWS and WAR than several marginal and poor selections, but that’s never been a good argument for enshrining someone.Darowski has his own version of Similarity ratings, related to t

he Bill James-created Similarity Scores found on Baseball-Reference.com. Unlike James, Darowski adjusts for era and ballpark, and it helps Hudson a little. Darowski ranks Hudson similar to a number of Hall of Fame pitchers including Whitey Ford, Rube Waddell, and Ed Walsh and several pitchers with arguably-worthy numbers who aren’t enshrined, including Urban Shocker, Dwight Gooden and Black Sox hurler Eddie Cicotte.If only more Hall of Fame voters and fans in general gave as much time and willingness to think differently about candidates as Darowski does. The baseball world just doesn’t work this way.Best case, Hudson receives at least 5 percent of the vote his first time on the writers ballot, keeping him from being disqualified from future BBWAA elections. From there, he could make a climb on future ballots and become a sentimental favorite among voters. It’d be a highly unlikely ascension to a plaque, nothing any sane person would bet on, but crazier things have happened with the Hall of Fame.'Cooperstown Chances' examines the Baseball Hall of Fame case of one candidate each week. Series author and Sporting News contributor Graham Womack writes regularly about the Hall of Fame and other topics related to baseball history at his website, Baseball: Past and Present . Follow him on Twitter: @grahamdude.


Related Posts