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Sports Then and Now



Time to Put Luis Tiant in the Baseball Hall of Fame 2

Posted on July 26, 2015 by Dean Hybl
Luis Tiant won 229 games during his Major League career.

Luis Tiant won 229 games during his Major League career.

With the induction this weekend of John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson to the Baseball Hall of Fame the committee has again sent a mixed message about what constitutes a Hall of Fame pitcher.

Johnson completed his career with 303 wins to rank 22nd all-time, but neither Martinez or Smoltz rank in the top 75 in career pitching victories. With 219 career wins, Martinez is tied for 76th in baseball history. Smoltz completed his career with 213 wins to rank tied for 89th.

Of course, the argument for both Martinez and Smoltz is that at their best, they were elite pitchers and worthy of Hall of Fame recognition.

While that argument can certainly be justified for Martinez, the numbers don’t quite work out that way for Smoltz.

Using the six seasons in which they won the most games as a benchmark, Martinez averaged a 19-6 record with a 2.28 ERA and 270 strikeouts. The average numbers for Smoltz were a 17-9 record with a 3.14 ERA and 221 strikeouts. Just as comparison, Johnson’s six top seasons averaged 20-7 with a 2.72 ERA and 330 strikeouts.

The numbers for Martinez and Johnson are comparable to many Hall of Famers, but the peak year stats for Smoltz appear rather pedestrian and are not especially better than those of several pitchers with comparable career numbers, but no Hall of Fame plaque.

One pitcher who has received increased support for the Hall of Fame in recent years, but has yet to earn his spot in Cooperstown is former Boston Red Sox great Luis Tiant.

During his 19 year major league career, Tiant posted a 229-172 record (.571 winning percentage) with a 3.30 ERA and 2416 strikeouts. His win total is greater than that of 23 Hall of Famers, including not only Martinez and Smoltz, but also Jim Bunning, Catfish Hunter, Don Drysdale, Bob Lemon and Sandy Koufax. Read the rest of this entry →

2015 Baseball Hall of Fame Selections: Tough Choices Abound 2

Posted on January 02, 2015 by Dean Hybl
Pedro Martinez seems to be a lock for the 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame class.

Pedro Martinez seems to be a lock for the 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame class.

After seeing three first-year candidates join the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014, the class of 2015 has the potential to match or exceed that total. However, unlike a year ago when all three inductees appeared clear-cut (as much as any in this post-PED era), there are fewer guarantees and more questions surrounding the 2015 candidates.

Even with there being more unpredictability amongst the potential 2015 class, there are two players whose inclusion seems to be nearly certain.

Last year the Hall of Fame welcomed the two most consistent pitchers of the 1990s and early 2000s in Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. This year it should open the doors for the two most dominant pitchers of the same era (at least among pitchers not linked to PEDs) in Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez.

With 303 career victories, two no-hitters and 4,875 career strikeouts, there seems little doubt that Johnson will reach the Hall of Fame in his first season of eligibility.

The same should be true for Martinez. Though he won significantly fewer games (219) than several pitchers who have fallen short of HOF selection, his career ERA of 2.93 during the PED era might be one of the most impressive statistics of all-time. In addition, his three Cy Young Awards and .687 career winning percentage are also worthy of a spot in the Hall.

It is very possible that a third first-year-eligible pitcher could earn selection, but this is when the 2015 selection process starts to move into the land of confusion.

To some, the combination of his 213 career victories and 154 career saves, along with an amazing 15-4 post season record is enough to warrant a vote for John Smoltz. However, critics will point out that except for the 1996 season when he won 24 games and the Cy Young Award, Smoltz never won more than 17 games in a season and his time in the bullpen was so brief (only three seasons) that it really shouldn’t be a boost to his candidacy the way his relief career was for Dennis Eckersley.

Given that his career resume isn’t significantly better than that of two other pitchers who have received only minimal support since becoming eligible (Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling), it could be a tough road for Smoltz to Cooperstown.
Read the rest of this entry →

10 Players Who Thrived in Baseball’s Clutch Moments 3

Posted on September 22, 2011 by Jena Ellis

Reggie Jackson's play in the post season earned him the nickname "Mr. October."

You can debate whether or not there’s such a thing as “clutch” hitting. Scoring runs in the first inning is just as important as scoring runs in the ninth inning, right? Does the process of securing a hit change dramatically as the situation changes dramatically? Should we completely ignore the human elements of emotion, concentration and focus, each of which may fluctuate depending on the person in the batter’s box?

The following players (five hitters, five pitchers), for whatever reason, hit and pitched extremely well during the postseason, a period of time when the margin for error — and patience for under performing — is at a minimum.

1. Babe Ruth
He’s the greatest for a reason. As a pitcher in the postseason, Ruth boasts a microscopic 0.87 ERA in 31 innings pitched, a shutout and a 3-0 record. His best performance came in a 14-inning, complete game win in Game 2 of the 1916 World Series. In both World Series in which he pitched, the Red Sox won (1916 over the Brooklyn Robins and 1918 over the Chicago Cubs). As a hitter, he amassed 15 home runs in 167 plate appearances, accumulating an impressive 1.211 OPS. In 1928, he hit .625 in a four-game sweep of the Cardinals, notably mashing three home runs in the series-clinching game.

2. Reggie Jackson
Mr. October kindly disagrees with the idea that clutch hitting doesn’t exist. He was the first player to win World Series MVP with two different teams (Athletics and Yankees), and was just the second player to hit three homeruns in a World Series game — that, as you probably know, came in the series-clinching Game 6 of the 1977 World Series versus the Dodgers. During the six games, he hit five home runs with a .450 average and 1.792 OPS. A year later, he led the Yankees to a repeat in a rematch, hitting a meager two home runs with a .391 average and 1.196 OPS. He hit 18 home runs during his postseason career. Read the rest of this entry →

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