Rick Reuschel should be in the Hall of Fame
February 9, 2013 7:25 AM   Subscribe

The Hall of Fame voters have decided not to enshrine one of the greatest pitchers of all time, despite his stellar on-field performance. No, not Roger Clemens: Rick Reuschel, who, according to High Heat Stats, was one of the 50 greatest pitchers in baseball history. Bonus: Joe Posnanski on why Rich Reuschel was better than Jack Morris.
posted by escabeche (10 comments total)
I kind of recall Reuschel as a Phillie killer, but he's best remembered in these parts as the starting pitcher in the incredible 18-16 game on April 17, 1976, at Wrigley, in which Mike Schmidt hit 4 home runs, including 2 of off of Rick and 1 off his brother, Paul.
posted by sixpack at 7:51 AM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

All you need to know about the baseball hall of fame is that they have voted owners in. It's a bad joke.
posted by srboisvert at 9:48 AM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is kind of silly. Reuschel was a good pitcher. Comparing him to Clemens is just dumb, and comparing him to Morris is hardly a case for putting him in the Hall.

Most similar pitchers, according to Baseball Reference:

* Jim Perry (926)
* Jerry Reuss (925)
* Claude Osteen (924)
* Larry Jackson (918)
* Mickey Lolich (917)
* Doyle Alexander (917)
* Milt Pappas (917)
* Jim Bunning (916) *
* Catfish Hunter (915) *
* Curt Simmons (906)

That's eight guys who aren't in the Hall and two guys who are but shouldn't be.
posted by Flunkie at 9:51 AM on February 9, 2013

The High Heat piece is kind of a clinic in how not to make a convincing argument based on defense-independent pitching stats. And the Posnanski piece — while lucid and readable as ever — isn't really an argument that Reuschel should be in the Hall so much as an argument that Morris probably shouldn't. Even Morris's strongest boosters would concede he'd make a borderline Hall of Famer, not the kind of shoo-in case that makes a good comparison test.
posted by RogerB at 9:54 AM on February 9, 2013

This Cubs kid of the 70s and 80s can't disagree. He and his brother are foundational members of my grade school sports coming of age
posted by C.A.S. at 11:08 AM on February 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

When I go to the ballpark I still shell out the money for a scorecard and pencil. After (and during) the game I can tell you who did or did not have a good day based on such ridiculously ancient concepts as: Did the batter get a hit/sacrifice/RBI? Or: Did the pitcher allow any earned runs/strike out any batters? Silly me. I thought those things counted. Now I guess I'm supposed to factor in things like: Day of the week, uniform color, hours of sleep the umpire had the previous night, altitude, wind speed, who sang the National Anthem, Solunar Tables, Astrological signs of opposing pitchers, Manager's shoe size, and, VERY important, cost of beer. Sabermetrics make me giggle.
posted by TDavis at 12:12 PM on February 9, 2013

TDavis, none of the things that you say that you record "count". The thing that counts is the score. All of the things that you say you record are statistical attempts at producing some sort of guesstimate as to how well individual players helped towards that one and only one thing that counts. Insofar as that, that's just what sabermetric stats are, too. The difference is not that yours "count" and the stats of sabermetrics don't; the difference is that the stats that you are using to do it are not particularly good at producing such guesstimates.

You were taught them as a child, and that's why you think they're sacred. But they were taught to you by people who were taught them as a child, who were taught to them by people who were taught them as a child, who were taught to them by people who were taught them as a child, who were taught them by people who basically just made them up without thinking too much.

And by the way, if you genuinely think that sabermetricians worry about things like who sang the National Anthem, you have no idea what you're talking about. Giggle all you want, but you're doing it out of ignorance.
posted by Flunkie at 1:39 PM on February 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

Silly me. I thought those things counted

Hits? Strikeouts? They do count. Who said they didn't?

I can't understand people who make fun of "sabremetrics". It's simple math, you're making fund of using arithmetic. Just like batting average (hits/ab) or ERA (ER/9) do. Some other things you can measure and divide and multiply and compare might (or might not) give you a better picture of a player's skill, and in some cases, improve explanations of the events on the field.

Obviously, if you are interested in keeping score, you are interested in understanding the game, and how individual actions contribute to the final score. Why not widen the breadth of the statistics you already measure to include others? Or not, that's fine too, but mocking people who do? We all like baseball, we're all on the same team. How does adding on base percentage to slugging percentage, or looking at statistics on a relative basis impact your enjoyment of the game?

In deciding HOF qualifications, assuming you want to limit the number of players in the hall, why wouldn't you use the best methods of analyzing their performance given the data available? You can still pick your favourites based on moustache girth or whatever, but at least understand how good Jack Morris or Rick Reuschel (or Barry Bonds, or Roger Clemens) actually were before talking about it. Or god forbid, casting a vote.
posted by loquax at 1:51 PM on February 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

C.A.S, amen. Though if we could count "part of my 70's-kid Cubs coming of age" towards the HoF, Iván DeJesús would win in a landslide. ;-)
posted by ariel_caliban at 3:46 PM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by C.A.S. at 12:39 AM on February 19, 2013

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