Why Tommy John should make the Hall of Fame

9 Jan

The riddle as to why Tommy John has yet to find a home in the Baseball Hall of Fame (BBHOF) is a mystery that has left countless followers of the game scratching their head. Over his 26 year career which began in 1963 with the Indians and finished with the Yankees in 1989, John was a model of consistency and truly placed himself among the all time elite pitchers in baseball history. One has to wonder what else he could have done aside from continuing on for another year or two for the sole purpose of padding his statistics, an option he did have but declined. To see how John ranks among the greats of the game we can first start by looking at his record.

As junk-balling southpaw, John depended on allowing hitters to put the ball in play rather than using the tactics of a power pitcher to simply strikeout as many batters as possible. This is evidenced by what many consider the one are he is deficient in which was strikeouts. He only had 2,245 which was averaging less than 100 per year. To some sportswriters that was a black eye for some reason. Still, John’s other numbers were as good as or superior to most. His 288-231 career record place him at seventh place all-time for wins by a left handed pitcher. The only southpaw with more wins not in the Hall of Fame is Randy Johnson, since Johnson is still playing he is not yet eligible.

John further had a career 3.34 ERA, led the league in shutouts three times, and was a four time All-Star. He posted three 20 or more win seasons and appeared in three World Series. While John was never a pitcher associated to being the Ace of a staff, he put up numbers which were similar. The argument can always be made he easily lost the 12 games need to reach 300 due to playing for terrible teams nearly the first decade of his career. Of course there was also the missed 1975 season when he underwent ligament replacement surgery which has now famously been named for him.

Tommy John is a prime example of a player who is being punished for being consistent over a quarter century of play without ever being the marquee player of a franchise. Whether he only averaged 13 wins a season or not, the fact that he did that for 26 years still counts for something. We can’t reward one player for being durable and consistent and then say another isn’t worthy because they exhibit the same qualities when it comes time to vote. As John failed to reach the minimum tally to remain on the ballot, he ws dropped and will first be considered by the Veterans Committee in 2010. While it isn’t likely he will make it the first time, it will be hard to keep him out much longer, especially with so many players who have been enshrined with similar numbers and careers.

John has stated that while it would have been great to be voted in by the writers, it would mean more to be elected by his peers. John was a true gentleman of the game and deserves this honor. The time has arrived and he should take his place among the greats of the game, his peers, the Hall of Famers.

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