Sunday, April 3, 2016

Predicting Today's Future Hall of Fame Pitchers, 2016 Edition

And just in time for Opening Day, I’m covering the follow up to the last article  and looking at the pitchers’ side of things. Once again, I’ll be using last year’s numbers to keep things simple. My description from last time: Essentially, I’m looking at how many Wins Above Replacement (Baseball-Reference version) all Hall of Fame hitters had accumulated at each age and picked the median. Then, to give some context, I found what percentage of players at that mark or higher went on to be inducted into Cooperstown (accounting for players still on the ballot and such). This isn’t to say these players will or won’t make Cooperstown; by definition, half of all Hall of Famers didn’t. And hitting these marks is no guarantee; players may drop off, or they may not and Hall voters may not choose to recognize them anyway. This is just to get a rough guide to what a Hall of Fame career might look like, and to see who is on pace.

Compared to the Future Hitters article, the Future Pitchers Hall of Fame article is always less fun to cover. Part of that is the greater unpredictability of pitchers; with hitters, you can follow along as a guy keeps up with the numbers, but a pitcher might fall of the face of the earth or get injured and see his chances crash and burn. But more of it is that the Hall is much stricter with regards to pitchers, so it’s harder to dream on guys. The “Hall Pace” that I use moves up extremely aggressively, and it’s almost impossible for all but the best two or three pitchers from a generation to match that.

I wrote more about it a few years ago, and that article is still good if you want the full details. But the general point is the Hall voters have no idea what to look for to induct most pitchers. They know the most obvious ones, but they don’t realize that there are also plenty of pitchers in the Hall of Fame already below the median, and have more or less stopped inducting pitchers of that caliber. That would be less of a problem if there were a bunch of over-the-median pitchers they forgot to induct and they were just now going back to get them, but that’s not the case; every pitcher above the median WAR is either in or still on the ballot. Being below that gets you zero consideration. It’s a big part of the reason post-deadball-era pitchers are underrepresented.

But let’s ignore that problem for now; I’ll come back to it another time (possibly next time, even). For now, let’s focus on who is on pace.