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Baseball Analysis  Michael Hoban, Ph.D

   Part 3 - The Lists
The True Hall of Famers - The Five Levels of Greatness
The Hall of Fame Pitchers - The Four Categories of Excellence
The 25 Best Careers at Each Position
The Hall of Famers Who Do Not Have HOF Numbers
The Position Players with HOF Numbers – Not Yet in the Hall
The Pitchers with HOF Numbers – Not Yet in the Hall
The 140 Best Players of the Modern Era (1920 to Present)
The Complete CAWS Ranking for Position Players
The Complete CAWS Ranking for Pitchers

The Hall of Fame Pitchers:  The Four Categories of Excellence

Michael Hoban, Ph.D.

In the previous section, I presented the 5 Levels of Greatness for the 20th century position players who posted Hall of Fame numbers during their careers (since 1901)  – according to the CAWS CAREER GAUGE.  We saw that there are one hundred fifteen (115) such players.


I will now present the 4 Categories of Excellence for the 20th century pitchers who posted HOF numbers during their playing days.  We will see that there are fifty-one (51) such pitchers.


The CCG has separated those 20th century pitchers who have Hall of Fame numbers into four categories depending on their CAWS score and innings pitched (that is, according to their career numbers).  We will look at these pitchers in the pages that follow.  The lists of pitchers will include those who are in the Hall of Fame and those who have the numbers but are not yet inducted. 

For example, we will see that Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal and Sandy Koufax were all great pitchers who had Hall of Fame numbers during their careers.  But Bob Gibson’s career numbers establish him as a Category 1 pitcher while Juan Marichal had a Category 2 career and Sandy Koufax a Category 3 career.


Here are the four categories of major league pitchers (who actually posted HOF numbers) and the number of pitchers in each category – a total of fifty-one (51) players.   


Category 1 – Pitchers with a CAWS score > 260   =   20


Category 2 – Pitchers with a CAWS score < 260 and > 235   =   15

                       Pitchers with CAWS  < 235 but with CWS > 300   =   4


Category 3 – Pitchers with a CAWS score > 180 in Fewer than 2400 Innings  =  7


Category 4 – Pitchers with a CAWS score > 150 in Fewer than 1500 Innings  =  5



Category 1  -  Pitchers with a CAWS score > 260


Since 1901, there have been only twenty (20) pitchers who attained a CAWS career score of 260 or better.  These are the 20th century’s best major league starting pitchers.   

Pitchers who pitched predominantly in the Deadball Era (1901-1919) are designated by an asterisk (*).  Since many pitchers in that time-frame pitched many more innings than in the modern era (1920 to present), the comparison between pitchers from the two eras may not be entirely appropriate.


All numbers include the 2014 season.

Bold  =  Hall of Famer

CWS  =  Career Win Shares

CV      =  Core Value (sum of win shares for 10 best seasons)

CAWS  =  Career Assessment/Win Shares  =  CV  +  .25(CWS – CV)


                                                                                   CWS                CV               CAWS


 1.  Walter Johnson*             (1907-1927)                560                  380                  425

 2.  Pete Alexander*              (1911-1930)                476                  331                  367

 3.  Christy Mathewson*       (1900-1916)                426                  335                  358

 4.  Lefty Grove                     (1925-1941)                391                  301                  324

 5.  Roger Clemens                  (1984-2007)                432                  260                  303

 6.  Warren Spahn                 (1942-1965)                412                  259                  297

 7.  Tom Seaver                      (1967-1986)                388                  255                  288

 8.  Eddie Plank*                   (1901-1917)                361                  259                  285

 9.  Greg Maddux                  (1986-2008)                398                  246                  284                 

10.  Gaylord Perry                (1962-1983)                369                  243                  275

11.  Bob Gibson                     (1959-1975)                317                  258                  273

12.  Mordecai Brown*          (1903-1916)                296                  264                  272

13.  Steve Carlton                  (1965-1988)                366                  240                  272

14.  Phil Niekro                      (1964-1987)                374                  235                  270

15.  Joe McGinnity*              (1899-1908)                269                  269                  269

16.  Robin Roberts                (1948-1966)                339                  246                  269

17.  Jim Palmer                      (1965-1984)                312                  252                  267

18.  Vic Willis*                       (1898-1910)                293                  257                  266

19.  Carl Hubbell                   (1928-1943)                305                  248                  262

20.  Ed Walsh*                      (1904-1917)                265                  259                  261


For most serious fans, this list will hold very few surprises although there may be one or two names from the deadball era that may not be too familiar.



Some observations:


  1. Cy Young’s career bridged the 19th and 20th centuries.  But the majority of his accomplishments took place in the 19th century – so he is not included here.
  2. You will note that eight of these twenty pitchers pitched predominantly in the deadball era.  This does appear to be a disproportionate number.  As noted above, this is almost certainly due in part to the fact that pitchers tended to pitch many more innings in that era. 
  3. Four of these pitchers attained a CAWS score > 260 even though they did not have 300 career win shares (and all were from the deadball era): Mordecai Brown, Joe McGinnity, Vic Willis and Ed Walsh.  This was also due to the fact that they were able to earn more win shares per season because they pitched relatively more innings per season.  All of the pitchers in Category 1 from the modern era have more than 300 CWS.
  4. As you might expect, all of these pitchers are in the Hall of Fame - except for Roger Clemens.
  5. Note that Roger Clemens has the best career numbers for any right-handed pitcher of the modern era.  Whether those numbers were earned fairly or with the help of performance enhancing drugs is another question.
  6. All 20 of these pitchers have a core value (CV) of 235 or better.  That means that each one averaged better than 23 win shares for his ten best seasons.  That is a remarkable achievement for a pitcher.




Category 2 contains the names of nineteen (19) more pitchers who posted HOF numbers during the century.  This category has two distinct groups:


  1. 15 pitchers with CAWS score < 260 and > 235
  2.  4 pitchers with CAWS score < 235 and CWS > 300


As (b) above implies, the CAWS CAREER GAUGE suggests that any major league pitcher who earns 300 win shares in his career certainly has Hall of Fame numbers.



Category 2 (a)  -  Pitchers with a CAWS score < 260 and > 235



                                                                                    CWS                CV              CAWS

21.  Fergie Jenkins                 (1965-1983)                323                  233                  256

22.  Randy Johnson                (1988-2009)                326                  230                  254

23.  Bob Feller                        (1936-1956)                292                  239                  252

24.  Bert Blyleven                   (1970-1992)                339                  218                  248

25.  Wilbur Cooper*                (1912-1926)                266                  239                  246

26.  Burleigh Grimes              (1916-1934)                286                  231                  245

27.  Hal Newhouser                (1939-1955)                264                  234                  242     

28.  Jack Powell*                     (1897-1912)                287                  227                  242     

                                                                                    CWS               CV               CAWS

29.  Eppa Rixey                     (1912-1933)                315                  217                  242

30.  Red Ruffing                    (1924-1947)                322                  212                  240

31.  Early Wynn                    (1939-1963)                309                  217                  240

32.  Juan Marichal                (1960-1975)                263                  229                  238     

33.  Carl Mays                         (1915-1929)                256                  230                  237     

34.  Ted Lyons                       (1923-1946)                312                  210                  236

35.  Stan Covaleski                (1912-1928)                245                  231                  235     




Category 2 (b)  -  Pitchers with CAWS score < 235 and CWS > 300



Tom Glavine                          (1987-2008)                314                  203                  231     

Nolan Ryan                            (1966-1993)                334                  191                  227

Don Sutton                             (1966-1988)                319                  187                  220

Dennis Eckersley                   (1975-1998)                301                  183                  213



Some observations:


  1. Only four pitchers in Categories 1 and 2 have been eligible and are not in the Hall of Fame: Wilbur Cooper, Jack Powell, Carl Mays and Roger Clemens.  Cooper and Powell happen to be the only two in Category 2 from the deadball era and Mays pitched shortly after that era. 
  2. All of the pitchers in Categories 1 and  2 who pitched since 1930 and have been eligible are now in Cooperstown (except Clemens).
  3. Roger Clemens, of course, has been tainted by the “steroids scandal.”  And the recent voting history of the BBWAA seems to indicate that no “steroids abuser” will ever be elected to the Hall. Only time will tell.
  4. Note that only three of these pitchers did not attain a core value (CV) of 200 or better: Nolan Ryan, Don Sutton and Dennis Eckersley.  I think it is fair to say that their place in Cooperstown owes as much to the longevity of their careers than to any other single factor.  Each of them pitched in the majors for at least twenty-three seasons.



These thirty-nine (39) Category 1 and 2 pitchers all have Hall of Fame numbers.  And there are twelve (12) more 20th century pitchers who also had outstanding careers.


What we will see is that these twelve pitchers did not pitch as many career innings as those in Categories 1 and 2 but still managed to turn in such outstanding numbers that they have clearly earned a place in the Hall of Fame.


Of the twelve (12) pitchers in Categories 3 and 4, six are in the Hall of Fame and four are not yet eligible.  Only two have been snubbed so far and both are relief pitchers: Lee Smith and Dan Quisenberry.



The CAWS CAREER GAUGE has identified two standards to determine who has HOF numbers in Categories 3 and 4.  Each of these accomplishments is judged to be worthy of induction into the Hall.


Category 3 – Pitchers with a CAWS score > 180 in Fewer than 2400 Innings  =  7


Category 4 – Pitchers with a CAWS score > 150 in Fewer than 1500 Innings  =  5


When dealing with pitchers, it is essential to recognize the importance of taking into account the fact that there have been some truly outstanding pitchers who have established very impressive numbers in a relatively short period of time.  And, of course, to also recognize that relief specialists are going to pitch much fewer innings than starters. 


Therefore, it is imperative to study the numbers very carefully in order to recognize (and to honor) the pitchers who fit into these two groups.  And I think the CCG has done this.




Category 3 - Pitchers with a CAWS score > 180 in Fewer than 2400 Innings



All numbers include the 2014 season (unless otherwise indicated)

Bold  =  Hall of Famer

CWS  =  Career Win Shares

CV      =  Core Value (sum of win shares for 10 best seasons)

CAWS  =  Career Assessment/Win Shares  =  CV  +  .25(CWS – CV)

IP  =  Innings Pitched

*=  Deadball Era


In the entire 20th century, I have found only seven (7) pitchers who do not qualify for Categories 1 and 2 but who do satisfy the standard for Category 3.  And every one of these pitchers who has been eligible has been elected to the Hall.  (I should also note that Mariano Rivera who is in Category 4 would also qualify here.)

                                      IP                  CWS               CV               CAWS

Pedro Martinez         2297                224                  200                  206

Addie Joss*                2327                191                  191                  191                

Sandy Koufax           2324                194                  190                  191     

Hoyt Wilhelm             2254                256                  168                  190

Goose Gossage           1809                223                  173                  186     

Roy Halladay              2297                194                  183                  186     

Dizzy Dean                 1967                181                  180                  180     



These numbers represent career numbers for each pitcher with the exception of Pedro Martinez and Roy Halladay.  For Martinez and Halladay, they represent their career totals through thirteen seasons (that is, 2004 for Pedro and 2010 for Halladay). 


That is, each of these two recent pitchers took only thirteen seasons to establish HOF pitching credentials. 


Five of these great pitchers were starters during their careers.  But Hoyt Wilhelm and Goose Gossage achieved their greatest recognition as relief pitchers.



In Category 4, we honor those “true” relief pitchers who had really outstanding careers.  That is, those few relief pitchers who were able to post a CAWS score of 150 in fewer than 1500 innings.  This is a very tough standard.  As you can see, only five relievers have met this standard.



Category 4 - Pitchers with a CAWS score > 150 in Fewer than 1500 Innings


                                      IP                  CWS               CV               CAWS  


Mariano Rivera           1211                255                  175                  195                 

Bruce Sutter            1042               168                 163                 164     

Lee Smith                    1289                198                  152                  164                 

Billy Wagner            903                182                 151                 159     

Dan Quisenberry         1043                157                  155                  156                 



These are the only relievers of the 20th century who satisfy these criteria. 


One look at Mariano Rivera’s numbers would appear to bear testimony to the fact that he is the best pure reliever in history.  His numbers really are far superior to any one else in this category.


Bruce Sutter is the only one on the list who is already in Cooperstown.  Lee Smith is still on the BBWAA ballot.  Mariano and Billy Wagner are not yet eligible.  Only Dan Quisenberry in this group has been passed over completely.


Just for comparison purposes, I list here a few other very good relievers.  None of these pitchers reached the CAWS standard for HOF numbers.


                                      IP                  CWS               CV               CAWS  


Trevor Hoffman       1089               188                 135                 148

John Franco                 1246                183                  128                  142     

Mike Marshall             1387                146                  139                  141     

Kent Tekulve              1436                159                  135                  141


Note that Trevor Hoffman, despite all of his saves, still does not quite make the mark.



These then are the twelve (12) pitchers who qualify for Categories 3 and 4.  These twelve together with the thirty-nine (39) pitchers in Categories 1 and 2 represent the fifty-one (51) 20th century pitchers who have Hall of Fame numbers according to the CAWS CAREER GAUGE.


It is interesting to note that of these fifty-one pitchers only four have so far been passed over completely for induction into the Hall: Wilbur Cooper, Jack Powell and Carl Mays (all of whom pitched before 1930) and Dan Quisenberry.

Michael Hoban, Ph.D is Professor Emeritus of mathematics at the City University of N.Y.  He has been an avid baseball fan for over 60 years and has become a serious baseball analyst, since joining SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) in 1998.  He is the author of five baseball books including:  DEFINING GREATNESS: A Hall of Fame Handbook (Booklocker, 2012)   BASEBALL'S COMPLETE PLAYERS (McFarland: 2000) and FIELDER'S CHOICE (Booklocker: 2003). 

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