Cy Young = Hall of Fame?

First off, we would like to congratulate both R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets and David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays. Both captured their first ever Cy Young Awards for being the best Pitcher in their respective Leagues. This got us thinking……does the Cy Young Award equal a future Hall of Fame induction? Actually we were quite amazed how many winners of the prestigious award were not even fringe candidates for Cooperstown.

From 1956 to 1966 there was only one trophy awarded to the best pitcher overall. In that time span, seven of ten winners were enshrined. This includes Warren Spahn, Early Wynn, Whitey Ford, Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax; who won three times. The other three include Don Newcombe, who we have in our 100 for consideration, but two others who are never thought of at all. In 1958, Bob Turley won of the New York Yankees after posting the best season of his career. He never ever came close to that again and never received a single vote for the Hall. Vern Law won in 1960, and realistically only had two other seasons (other than his Cy Young winner) that was worthwhile. Unlike Turley, Law at least received some support from the Baseball writers, but never got more than three percent.

In 1967, two Cy Young Awards were given out in each league. There is a staggering amount of hurlers who won the award and did not get inducted (and is of course Hall of Fame eligible:


Mike McCormick (1967, NL, San Francisco) Zero HOF votes

Jim Lonborg (1967, AL, Boston)   0.8% vote in 1985

Denny McLain (1968 & 1969, AL, Detroit)   0.7% vote in 1979

Mike Cuellar (1969, AL, Detroit)   Zero HOF votes

Jim Perry (1970, AL, Minnesota)   1.9% in 1983

Vida Blue (1971, AL, Oakland)   8.7% in 1993; on the ballot for four years

Mike Marshall (1974, NL, Los Angeles) 1.5% HOF vote in 1987

Randy Jones (1976, NL, San Diego) Zero HOF votes

Sparky Lyle (1977, AL, New York) 13.1% in 1988; on the ballot for four years

Ron Guidry (1978, AL, New York) 8.8% in 2000; on the ballot for nine years

Mike Flanagan (1979, AL, Baltimore)   0.4% HOF vote in in 1998

Steve Stone (1980, AL, Baltimore)   Zero HOF votes

Fernando Valenzuela (1981, NL, Los Angeles) 6.3% HOF vote in 2003, off the ballot the following year.

Pete Vuckovich (1982, AL, Milwaukee)   Zero HOF votes

John Denny (1983, NL, Philadelphia) Zero HOF votes

Lamarr Hoyt (1983, AL, Chicago)   Zero HOF votes

Rick Sutcliffe (1984, NL, Chicago)   1.8% HOF vote in 2000

Willie Hernandez (1984, AL, Detroit)   0.4% HOF vote in 1995

Dwight Gooden (1985, NL, New York)   3.3% HOF vote in 2006

Bret Saberhagen (1985 & 1989, AL, Kansas City)   1.3% HOF vote in 2007

Mike Scott (1986, NL, Houston)   0.4% HOF vote in 1997

Steve Bedrosian (1987, NL, Philadelphia)   0.2% HOF vote in 2001

Orel Hershiser (1988, NL, Los Angeles)   11.2% HOF vote in 2006, off the ballot the following year

Frank Viola (1988, AL, Minnesota)   0.4% HOF vote in 2002

Mark Davis (1989, NL, San Diego)   0.2% HOF vote in 2003

Doug Drabek (1990, NL, Pittsburgh) 0.4% HOF vote in 2004

Bob Welch (1990, AL, Oakland)   0.2% HOF vote in 2000

Jack McDowell (1993, AL, Chicago)   0.8% HOF vote in 2005

David Cone (1994, AL, Kansas City)   3.9% HOF vote in 2009

Pat Hentgen (1996, AL, Toronto)   0.2% HOF vote in 2010


Wow….a lot of ZERO votes in there, not to mention sub 1%ers in there. We hate to say it, but in his late thirties, you can add R.A. Dickey to this list. At this stage the knuckleballer has a long way to go just to get to 100 wins and the odds are string that this amazing season will not be duplicated.

At the age of 26, David Price already has as many wins as Dickey (61). He is already a three time All Star, and could very well be on a Cooperstown career. OF course, at the age of 26, who knows!

Regardless, winning the Cy Young is an amazing accomplishment and though that does not translate to immortality, it should be respected and praised.  

Last modified on Thursday, 19 March 2015 18:47
Committee Chairman

Kirk Buchner, "The Committee Chairman", is the owner and operator of the site.  Kirk can be contacted at [email protected] . Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


0 #2 Committee Chairman 2012-11-16 05:24
The Steve Stone analogy makes me want to do a commentators list... Best and Worst...etc......

I was actually going to do an MVP one too! If for no other reason than just to use the name Jeff Burroughs in a sentence.
0 #1 Darryl Tahirali 2012-11-15 07:08
Good research, and an interesting topic with this week being baseball's awards week. I've been wondering about this along with MVP and Rookie of the Year (in case you're looking for another topic to steal . . . ).

The short answer, though, is that a season is a sprint and a career is a marathon, and for the Hall of Fame we look at the results of the marathon, not just one sprint, or even more than just one. The Cy Young, like the MVP, measures how good a pitcher was for one season, and as noted, some mediocre, or at least league-avera ge, pitchers had that one golden season--and for that season only, they looked like Hall of Famers.

For example, Steve Stone deliberately set out to have a golden season in 1980: He leaned on his curve ball that season, which blew out his arm by the next season; he had a mediocre 1981 and retired. (He then paid his penance having to prop up Harry Carey for years in the Cubs' announcers' booth, but that's another story.) Stone got his Cy Young, and an entry in baseball history, but his zero votes for the Hall is unsurprising for a league-avera ge pitcher.

By the way, LaMarr Hoyt got zero votes for the Hall because he pitched only eight seasons, and a player must have played at least ten seasons to be considered for the Hall.

What is interesting is that there are a few pitchers in the Hall of Fame who never won a Cy Young Award. I'm referring to pitchers whose careers began at the time of the award's introduction , and pitchers whom the BBWAA voted into the Hall. Nolan Ryan was a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but he never won a Cy Young. Two other 300-game winners, Phil Niekro and Don Sutton, never garnered a Cy Young, and nor did other starters Juan Marichal and Bert Blyleven, nor relievers Goose Gossage and Hoyt Wilhelm. Wilhelm had already been four years in the majors when the Cy Young was introduced, Robin Roberts for eight years, and Bob Lemon was at the twilight of his career by 1956, with only three seasons during the Cy Young era.

What is also interesting about the Cy Young winners is that when you look at the voting for many of the years and who the other candidates were in any given year, you will see that based on contemporary metrics like wins above replacement (WAR) and ERA+, there were better pitchers who barely got a vote compared to the actual winner. Before anyone screams "presentism! "--yes, those metrics were not even invented at the time; this is a retrospectiv e assessment based on what we know now.

But you have to wonder: Just to pick one year, 1962, when the Dodgers' Don Drysdale won the Cy Young (for both leagues, recall), Reds' pitcher Bob Purkey had nearly identical numbers to Drysdale's. Big Don went 25-9 (.735), 2.83 ERA, 19 CG, 2 shut-outs; Purkey went 23-5 (a league-leadi ng .821), 2.81 ERA, 18 CG, 2 shut-outs. Drysdale got 14 votes; Purkey got 1. But Purkey's WAR was 6.9 to Drysdale's 5.0, and Purkey's ERA+ was 143 to Drysdale's 128. Qualitativel y, Purkey was the better pitcher although his Reds finished third in the NL (in a park that slightly favored hitters) while Drysdale's Dodgers finished second in the NL (in a park that clearly favored pitchers). I didn't do a complete comparison, but it became pretty clear that win totals were often the decisive factor in determining Cy Young winners, at least for starters.

When I was researching my article on hitting Triple Crown winners, I noticed that there was a high correlation of pitching Triple Crown winners (wins, strikeouts, ERA) to Hall of Famers as well. Granted, there are two Cy Young winners named every year, and not every season is going to produce a pitching Triple Crown winner (although coincidental ly both Cy Young winners last year, Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander, also both won the pitching Triple Crown). That kind of dominance, albeit a "sprint" because it is a per-season artifact, does seem to be a better indicator of who might be a Hall of Fame pitcher.

Darryl AKA DDT's Pop Flies

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