A perfect game, a no-hitter, three All-Star appearances, 200 wins, and a World Series ring... Cooperstown anyone?
Mark Buehrle only has 133 Ws right now, but it's completely possible for him to at least reach 200 before the end of his storied career. So it's time to ask the question, is Mark Buehrle a Hall of Famer?
After making history on Thursday, it could be hard to keep Buehrle's hairy mug out of Cooperstown. Mark Buehrle became the 18th pitcher in MLB history to toss a perfect game when he did it against the Rays this week. Now take a moment to remember how long baseball's 'history' actually is. This isn't a "since the merger" or "since the stat has been recorded" kind of statistic. This is an accomplishment that in over two centuries has only been done by 17 other people, only a handful of which are still alive.
To those that follow Mark Buehrle, this perfect game doesn't come out of nowhere. Even those unfamiliar with Buehrle can recall his no-hitter against the Texas Rangers. A no-hitter in which he kicked superstition to the curb, goofing off with his teammates in the dugout until the final frame.
However, most of the baseball world would rather follow the trillion dollar names that change cities every year instead of the quiet, reserved Buehrle. Maybe the reason he's one of the most underrated pitchers in the game is because he never has changed venues like the Sabathias, Santanas, and Halladays (yes, I went there). Buehrle has spent his entire 10 year career on the south side of Chicago and has made himself an icon there by doing so.
Buehrle has been the horse of the White Sox pitching staff since he was called up in July of 2000. One of his trademarks is making long outings a routine as evidenced by his 49 straight appearances with at least 6 innings pitched. A streak that had to be cut short by an ejection with one out to go in the sixth inning of the 50th game. The 49 game streak was the longest since Steve Carlton in the '70s.
Out of all the pitchers that have pitched perfect games, Buehrle would seem to be the least expected. With names gracing the list such as Don Larsen, Randy Johnson, Cy Young and Sandy Koufax, the 6"2', 230 pound Buehrle sticks out to say the least. However, Buehrle seems to epitomize everything that a perfect game is all about: grinding it out and persevering. With nine straight seasons of 10 or more wins (more than 15 Ws in five of those seasons), Buehrle has embodied the Average Joe athlete by grinding every game out pitch by pitch.
It's interesting to think about how the Missouri native now has two no-hit games under his belt when his main focus is pitching to contact.
In a game that's dominated by the big swing and miss, Buehrle gets the big double play or lazy pop fly. Like the blue collar kind of guy that he is, the man just keeps plugging away, hitting the black of the plate on both sides with all of his quality pitches. While the radar gun rarely flashes over 90 mph for the 30 year old, his location and intention with his wide array of pitches has proven to be lethal to opposing lineups.
Another thing that jumps out about the Jefferson Junior College product, is that while he is far from known as being a strikeout pitcher, his 1,159 career K's dwarf his walk total of 451. Such a disparity between walks and strikeouts is really a testament to Buehrle's efficiency and calm demeanor on the mound.
Mark Buehrle has been a model of consistency since he came into the league. From day one Buehrle wanted to be the one in control of the game which gave way to his refreshingly fast pitching pace. A pace that has helped him dictate his will to the batter on an everyday basis, rather than the other way around.
While he has never been the most flashy or celebrated starter in baseball, he's a guy that any coach would tell you he wants on his staff. Buehrle is a guy you can trust to take the ball every fifth day, pitch at least 6 or 7 strong innings, and give the team a chance to win each and every time out.
Oh, and 200 innings year in and year out. Put your newborn on it.
I believe it's safe to say that if Mark Buehrle keeps pitching with as much purpose and passion as he has in his first 10 years, the next six or seven should be fun to watch if nothing else. Even through all of his accomplishments and accolades, Buehrle is still an unknown as far as the media and the MLB is concerned. It's to the point where if this year's Mr. Perfect doesn't get some help from the all-powerful ESPN, he might just end up as the best Hall of Famer no one knows about.