When I looked at Bleacher Report this morning, one article caught my eye. Dmitriy Ioselevich asked the question, "Is Tim Wakefield a Hall of Famer?" and I was really surprised when I read the article and saw that his answer was "yes."
By all accounts, Tim is one of the game's nicest players and a true ambassador of the game. He has also played for almost 20 seasons in Major League Baseball. However, a quick glance at his player page on Baseball-Reference.com will show you that he is not a Hall of Famer, and it's not even close.
What Baseball Reference shows us is Tim led the league in a pitching statistic category a grand total of four times: once in losses, once in home runs allowed and twice in batters hit by pitch. Not exactly the categories you want a Hall of Famer leading the league in.
If you scroll further down the page on Baseball Reference, you'll also see the Hall of Fame statistics section. What this tells us is that based on the formula they use, which was developed by Bill James, you'll see how Tim's career stacks up to other players and Hall of Famers.
His Gray Ink total is 69, good for 355th all-time; the average Hall of Famer in this category scores a 185. His Hall of Fame Monitor score is 28, good for 463rd all-time; to be a likely Hall of Famer, this score needs to be 100 or better. Finally, you'll see that his Hall of Fame standards score is 25, good for 206th all-time, and that the average Hall of Famer's score is 50. What this all means is that Tim is not even a borderline Hall of Fame candidate.
A closer look at his key stats also reveals a career that was not worthy of the ultimate award for a baseball player: induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. His ERA is 4.38, and his ERA+ is 106—meaning that his career ERA was barely above the league average for ERA during his career.
His WHIP is an atrocious 1.348, and his K/BB ratio is a paltry 1.77. This means he allowed a lot of baserunners and pretty much walked one batter for every two he struck out.
There were a couple things in his career that Wakefield did well. He would generally go at least seven innings, and he was willing to do anything the team asked of him. If the Red Sox needed a starter, he'd do it. If they needed him coming out of the bullpen as a reliever, he'd do it. However, being a workhorse and a great teammate doesn't make you a Hall of Fame pitcher.
What's really missing from Tim's career is a period of dominance or even top-of-the-league pitching stats that sets his career apart from other pitchers in baseball history. Even a pitcher like Jack Morris, who had a much better and more dominant career than Wakefield, is barely considered a borderline Hall of Famer. Then you have a pitcher like David Cone, who also had a much better and more dominant career yet didn't even make it past his first Hall of Fame ballot.
If pitchers like Jack Morris and David Cone (and others) are having a hard time sniffing the Hall of Fame, Wakefield shouldn't and won't come close.
What all this tells me is that Wakefield is a fantastic teammate and a just-good-enough pitcher to last as long as he has—and as a Yankees fan, there were times I would have been more than happy to see Wakefield in Yankees pinstripes—but he is not a Hall of Famer.
When Tim Wakefield retires, whether it's after this season or after his 50th birthday, he can look back and be proud of the career he did have and realize he was an integral pitcher in a historic franchise, even though it didn't result in an invitation to Cooperstown.
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