When Chicago White Sox starter Mark Buehrle toed the pitching rubber, you knew three things would happen. You knew that he would pound the strike zone and produce a quality start. You knew he would field his position as well as anyone in baseball. Finally, you knew he would work quickly enough to get the game done in time for you to put your kids to bed at a reasonable hour or make an early dinner reservation.
Buehrle was one of the White Sox all-time great pitchers and was a key component to the team ending its World Series title drought back in 2005. However, when the subject of his Hall of Fame candidacy is concerned, Buehrle falls into the “Hall of Very Good”.
Sox fans could always count on Buehrle being there for his scheduled start and not spend time on the injured list. In 15 of his 16 years in the league, Buehrle made 30 or more starts, leading the American League in 2004 and the majors in 2008.
In 2004 and 2005, he led the AL in innings pitched with 245.1 and 236.2 respectively. With the exception of his first and last seasons, Buehrle tossed 200 or more innings each year and in that last season, he missed the mark by tossing 198.2.
Mark Buehrle was amazing for the Chicago White Sox during his prime.
In addition to his ability to put up impressive workload numbers, those who support his candidacy would also point to his being a five-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner, World Series champ, and owner of two no-hitters, one of which was a perfect game he tossed against the Tampa Bay Rays.
His overall earned run average of 3.81 is very respectable considering he pitched the majority of his career in the American League (he spent one year with the Miami Marlins) and during the “steroid era“.
While those statistics are pretty solid, Buehrle didn’t have one area that put him among the all-time elite. The five Gold Gloves is well short of the 18 by Greg Maddux and one behind the active leader in Zack Greinke. His 214 career victories rank 92nd, tied with former Cub Rick Reuschel. He led the AL in hits allowed four times with one of the years leading the majors.
Buehrle was never a big strikeout pitcher, ending his career with 1,870. If he were to gain entry into the Hall, he would join Whitey Ford as the only starting pitcher since 1960 to get in with fewer than 2,000 career K’s.
I always loved the way he played the game and enjoyed how he approached each hitter in a very careful manner. He was very methodical in his approach and had a great way of attacking hitters and keeping them off stride.
His pace on the mound kept the defense on its toes and engaged at all times. Umpires had to like a guy who didn’t nibble corners or complain when calls didn’t go his way, except for maybe Joe West.
Feelings about his status with the White Sox aside, Buehrle’s numbers just don’t add up to the Hall of Fame. He was the epitome of consistency but was not dominant in any particular area to set him apart.
Last year was Buehrle’s first time on the ballot and he earned 11% of the vote. There is a chance he could get a higher percentage this time around but probably not enough to enter Cooperstown.