The Chicago White Sox need more Hall of Fame support for Mark Buehrle.
- Four gold gloves, a list of incredible web gems, and arguably the best defensive pitcher of all time
- Five all-star appearances (a lot for a starting pitcher, the same amount as a recently elected Hall of Famer, Mike Mussina)
- A no-hitter and a perfect game (every other player to do both is in the Hall already)
- 14 consecutive seasons of 200+ innings pitched (an MLB record)
- a World Series Championship in which he led his team in WAR during the regular season, started and won game 2 of the World Series, and then got the save in game 3
- Nine opening day starts for the Chicago White Sox, meaning he was a number 1 starter at least 9 times in his career (for teams with typically above-average pitching)
- the starter of the 2005 AL All-Star game (in which he got the win), meaning he was arguably the best pitcher in the league for at least one year in his career
- A record pace-of-play ability, as he didn’t waste time on the mound getting through batters
- 214 career wins (over 200 is a rarity for a 21st-century pitcher)
- 3.81 career ERA (117 ERA+) and a 59.1 career WAR, both much better than the recently inducted Jack Morris
Despite all of these accomplishments, the Baseball Writers Association of America isn’t giving him much love. As the results have come in, Mark Buehrle has received just 2 out of 31 votes so far. This puts him at 6.5%, just barely above the 5% threshold needed to stay on the ballot for next year. He’s probably going to need about 18 more votes to stay on the ballot for 2022. This is really unfortunate, especially when you consider that Andy Pettitte (who had basically the same career as Buehrle, minus the PED scandals) has already received 9 votes to Buehrle’s 2.
The annoying part is that a lot of voters (over 50%) are voting for Omar Vizquel because of his defense, claiming him to be the best defensive shortstop of all time. This isn’t true, as the best defensive shortstop of all-time was Ozzie Smith. Even if it was, why not vote for arguably the best defensive pitcher of all-time? Buehrle bests Omar Vizquel and Torri Hunter in career WAR but is getting fewer votes than him due to them being defensive standouts even though Buehrle was one himself. It doesn’t add up.
All I’m asking for is for the east-coast baseball writers to consider the entirety of the league, and not only vote for players like Pettite, Roger Clemens, Tim Hudson, and Billy Wagner, who spent their careers away from the middle of the country.
There are only 83 pitchers in the Baseball Hall of Fame, out of 235 players total. Given that pitching is about 50% of baseball, there clearly needs to be more pitchers in the Hall of Fame. Only 2 pitchers born in the 1970s have been elected to the Hall of Fame. That number needs to increase and Mark Buehrle (born in 1979) should be part of that.
If he can just stay on the ballot this year by getting more than 5%, he has a chance to continue the conversation which could eventually get him in sometime later in the decade. Writers only vote for an average of 6 players out of a maximum of 10, so there’s definitely room for Mark Buehrle on their ballot.
One argument against Buehrle’s case is that his career WAR is below that of the average Hall of Fame starting pitcher. It’s true that Buehrle’s WAR of 59.1 is lower than the average starting pitcher’s total of 73.3. Personally, I’d rather compare to the average HOF pitcher in general, and not necessarily starters.
I think that this is the wrong way to look at things. Buehrle may not be as good as the average pitcher – a measure that is inflated by pitchers like Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux – but he is better than the fringe Hall of Famer. If you elect Buehrle along with other deserving 21st Century pitchers – like Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens – the aggregate WAR score for starting pitchers would go up, rather than down. As it stands, adding more pitchers to the Hall of Fame would make it stronger, not weaker.
Mark Buehrle may not make the Hall of Fame this year but hopefully, the writers will do the right thing and get him his 5% to keep him on the ballot and as time passes, more people will recognize that he truly is deserving.