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16.  Tommy John
  1. General
  2. Awards
  3. Career Stats
  • Born: May 22, 1943 in Terre Haute, IN USA
  • Weight: 180 lbs.
  • Height: 6'3"
  • Bats: R
  • Throws: L
  • Debut: September 06, 1963
  • Final Game: May 25, 1989
  • Hutch Award - 1976
  • TSN All-Star - 1980
  • Lou Gehrig Memorial Award - 1981

We imagine that there are younger baseball fans that are oblivious that there really was a Tommy John and that it was not just the name of a surgery.  This would be unfortunate, as Tommy John has to go down as one of the most durable pitchers in baseball history.

Likely the most amazing statistic about Tommy John is that he lasted twenty six seasons.  Considering that he missed a season and a half due to arm trouble, it would have been expected that his career would not be a long one.  Not only did he come back from revolutionary surgery to repair his tendon (what we become known as “Tommy John” surgery) but he would post his most productive period of his career where he won twenty games three times in four years and was a Cy Young contender for those aforementioned four year span.

John was an effective sinkerball pitcher using his control to get batters out on the ground rather than put it past them.  This isn’t to say that he couldn’t strike out batters, but he was not among the leaders in that category.  Had Tommy John been more of a strike out pitcher (which is far sexier stat) or been part of a World Series win he may have received more votes.  As his overall career numbers are similar to that of Bert Blyleven who finally made it to Cooperstown, a very strong case could be made by the Veterans Committee for Tommy John.

Should Tommy John be in the Hall of Fame?

Definitely put him in! - 76%
Maybe, but others deserve it first. - 6.7%
Probably not, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. - 8%
No opinion. - 0%
No way! - 9.3%

The Bullet Points

  • Country of Origin: Terre Haute, Indiana, U.S.A.
  • Eligible In: Sunday, 01 January 1995
  • Position: Pitcher
  • Played For: New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox
  • Major Accolades and Awards: 4 Time All Star (1968, 1978, 1979 & 1980)
    Lowest BB/9 (1) (AL) (1982)
    Most Shutouts (3) (AL) (1966, 1967 & 1980)
  • Other Points of Note: Top Ten Cy Young Finishes:
    (NL: 1977, 2nd), (NL: 1978, 6th), (AL: 1979, 2nd) & (AL: 1980, 4th)
    ML Hutch Award (1976)
    ML Lou Gehrig Memorial Award (1981)
    6 Top Ten Finishes (Earned Run Average)
    6 Top Ten Finishes (Wins)
    5 Top Ten Finishes (WHIP)
    4 Top Ten Finishes (SO/BB)
    4 Top Ten Finishes (Innings Pitched)
    4 Top Ten Finishes (Complete Games)
    6 Top Ten Finishes (ERA+)
    7 Top Ten Finishes (FIP)
    4 Top Ten Finishes (WAR for Pitchers)
  • Notable All Time Rankings: 8.    Games Started: 700
    20.  Innings Pitched: 4,710.3
    26.  Shutouts: 46
    26.  Wins: 288
    48.  WAR for Pitchers: 62.3
    52.  Win Probability Added: 24.7
    54.  Strikeouts: 2,245
    56.  Games Played: 760
  • Vote Percentage Received for the Hall of Fame: 1995: 21.3
    1996: 21.7
    1997: 20.5
    1998: 27.3
    1999: 18.7
    2000: 27.1
    2001: 28.3
    2002: 26.9
    2003: 23.4
    2004: 21.9
    2005: 23.8
    2006: 29.6
    2007: 22.9
    2008: 29.1
    2009: 31.7
  • Should be Inducted As A: Los Angeles Dodger

Should Tommy John be in the Hall of Fame?

Definitely put him in! - 76%
Maybe, but others deserve it first. - 6.7%
Probably not, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. - 8%
No opinion. - 0%
No way! - 9.3%


0 #6 Darryl Tahirali 2016-07-18 23:07
Quoting nick lewis:
Darryl what you fail to mention is that not only did john have one more win he had 19 fewer losses also allowing 81 less earned runs and bert gave up a staggering 128 more home runs, 63 more walks and hit 57 more batters.

Yeah, they both can go tit-for-tat depending on the stats.

Take FIP, fielding-indepe ndent pitching, which looks at how good a pitcher is at preventing HR and BB and at causing SO. John's FIP is 3.38, which is a few ticks over his 3.34 ERA. Blyleven's FIP is 3.19, several ticks below is 3.31 ERA--this despite, as you say, walking more hitters and giving up many more gopher balls.

WHIP? John 1.283, Blyleven 1.198. K/BB? John 1.78, Blyleven 2.80.

And here are a few counting-number comparisons. John started 700 games out of 760 appearances, pitched 4710.1 innings, and completed 162 games. John pitched for 26 seasons. Blyleven started 685 games out of 692 appearances, pitched 4970.0 innings, and completed 242 games. Blyleven pitched for 22 seasons.

John had more appearances and more starts in four more seasons than did Blyleven, yet John pitched 259.2 fewer innings--that's more than a full season as a starter these days. And Blyleven had 80 more complete games.

Postseason? John 6-3 (.667), 2.65 ERA, 88.1 IP, 48 SO, 0 WS rings*. Blyleven 5-1 (.833), 2.47 ERA, 47.1 IP, 36 SO, 2 WS rings.

* The irony with John is that when he was with the Dodgers, they lost twice to the Yankees in the WS, and when he was with the Yankees, they lost once to the Dodgers in the WS.

Qualitatively and quantitatively, Blyleven is a Hall of Famer and John was an effective compiler. Question: Were John not a lefty, would he have found work in MLB up to age 46? I don't know, but doubtful.
0 #5 nick lewis 2016-04-20 22:07
Darryl what you fail to mention is that not only did john have one more win he had 19 fewer losses also allowing 81 less earned runs and bert gave up a staggering 128 more home runs, 63 more walks and hit 57 more batters.
0 #4 nick lewis 2016-01-16 14:53
what about his wins. that alone should get him in
+1 #3 Kurt 2015-06-09 16:58
I thought that Bert Blylevin was a marginal player who compiled a lot of stats simply because he played a long time and it astounds me that anyone considers Blylevin to have ever been a great pitcher. However, if Blylevin is somehow worthy of the Hall, then Tommy John is also deserving.
+3 #2 John Smith 2015-04-30 01:47
Were in not for the time lost due to the surgery that know bears his name, John would have reached the magical 300 wins milestone,
0 #1 Darryl Tahirali -0001-11-30 00:00
A friend and I have this conversation periodically: whether Tommy John belongs in the HoF. He uses the same similar-to-Blyl even argument as well, and superficially it's not bad. Both are very similar in wins and ERA, but I think that's about as close as it gets.John was a very good pitcher, and because of the famous surgery, he was a remarkably durable one as well. But unlike Blyleven, John doesn't have any distinctive rankings except for shutouts, for which he is tied for 26th all time. Blyleven is ninth in shutouts--and fifth in strikeouts.When you look at the advanced stats, John is 43rd in pitcher WAR (Baseball Reference version) with 59.00, right around Jim Bunning, Jerry Koosman, and Luis Tiant, among others. Not bad company--but Blyleven is 13th with 90.10, just ahead of Christy Mathewson, Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan, and Steve Carlton. Which of those sets of neighbors would you want in your rotation? ERA+ shows John ranked below 300th with 111 while Blyleven is 142nd with 118. John is 101st in adjusted pitching wins, with 18.39--but there's Blyleven in the number-19 spot, with 36.09.Whether you like the newfangled stats or stick by the old ones, John and Blyleven are close only in wins and ERA. In fact, John has one more win than does Blyleven. So what? Wins are a team statistic, and there are too many factors out of the pitcher's control to make it meaningful. ERA might be a better measure, and they're virtually identical. But when you look at both the career leaderboard and the advanced stats, Blyleven emerges as the clearly better pitcher who deserves to be in the HoF. John is borderline at best and not my pick, but if he does get in, it's not the end of the world--both Rube Marquard and Jessie Haines are in already too.

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