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Article: Johan Santana’s Cooperstown Case: The Puckett Clause

johan santana kirby puckett joe mauer dennis martinez sandy koufax
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#21 nicksaviking

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 02:23 PM

He'll need the narrative to change. Maybe he'll get in once everyone takes a look at his game logs and starts talking about how his career was effectively over after the Mets let him throw 134 pitches so the team could get it's first ever no-hitter.

 

If he's a league-wide sympathetic figure who's downfall was due to the Mets callousness, he might get in. And it's not like the Mets reputation with pitchers won't help the cause, they are well positioned to play the villain, fair or not.


#22 gunnarthor

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 02:27 PM

Saberhagen 85-91 won two Cy Youngs and had a third year worth 8 WAR and didn't even receive a vote. 

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#23 ALessKosherScott

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 02:38 PM

 

Saberhagen 85-91 won two Cy Youngs and had a third year worth 8 WAR and didn't even receive a vote. 

 

Saberhagen has 20 black inks throughout his career. Santana sits at 42. 

 

Saberhagen was a great pitcher in the late 80s, but the best pitcher in the game was Roger Clemens. Santana was the best pitcher in baseball from about 2004 to 2008.


#24 frightwig

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 03:30 PM

Puckett received quite a few sympathy votes, no doubt, although he probably didn't have more than one or two good years left in him. He had a good year at 35, but what are the chances that a chubby guy who had played his whole career on the fuzzy concrete still would have been going strong at 37-38? Not really good.

 

Anyway, his WAR/JAWS and WAR7 peak put him on the level of Fred Lynn and Bernie Williams, but he had the sympathy vote on his side, and he was the face of two World Series champs. (Poor Bernie, just one of the Very Good players on the Yankees dynasty.)

 

Johan's WAR7 peak puts him right between Dave Stieb and Don Drysdale, not far below Koufax, and just a bit ahead of Luis Tiant, Mike Mussina, Tom Glavine, David Cone, and Justin Verlander. So there is a case that he was about as good as Koufax and Drysdale, although his WAR7 is only tied with Stieb for 62nd all-time, far short of elite level. Was he on the level of Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and Greg Maddux? WAR7 says no.

 

And since Johan doesn't have the legendary World Series performances on his resume, I suppose that he'll go down like Dave Stieb--who also was done in by an injury in his early 30's.


#25 JLease

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 04:22 PM

 

Saberhagen 85-91 won two Cy Youngs and had a third year worth 8 WAR and didn't even receive a vote. 

 

And Saberhagen probably deserved a little more consideration than he got, but Johan is still the superior pitcher. ('87 Saberhagen should have gotten Cy votes, but Clemens won it and deserved it; Viola was arguably better than Saberhagen that year as well)

 

ERA+: Saberhagen had four years over 140, Santana had six. Saberhagen had three years over 150, Santana had five. 

 

Outside of Saberhagen's amazing '89 he rarely led the league in much of anything; Santana had a 5 year run where he was leading the league in K's ERA, ERA+, FIP, WHIP, IPs multiple times.

 

Santana had a higher, more consistent peak. Saberhagen was able to come back from equally horrid injury to grind out a few extra seasons. Both great pitchers, but I'd put Santana above Saberhagen. Both are clearly superior to jack Morris, who is more likely to get elected.

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#26 Doomtints

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 06:01 PM

By the numbers it's a tough sell. But HOF voters don't necessarily go by the numbers. Santana will get votes, probably a lot of them. Was Santana the best pitcher in the game for a few years? Most who can remember would say yes.

Edited by Doomtints, 28 November 2017 - 06:02 PM.


#27 gunnarthor

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 06:22 PM

 

 

 

. Both great pitchers, but I'd put Santana above Saberhagen. Both are clearly superior to jack Morris, who is more likely to get elected.

Not sure why you decided to slam Morris. I assume it's because WAR. Yeah, his rate stats weren't as nice but he threw a lot more innings. Santana threw just about 2000 innings in his career, Saberhagan about 500 more.

 

From 80-87, Jack Morris threw 2038ip (more than Santana's career). From 78-88 he threw 2577 innings (more than Saberhagen's career). He amassed more career WAR than both of them. His peak was never as good but he had more 4+ WAR seasons than both. And he probably should have won the Cy Young in 83 over Hoyt. His case for the Hall is based on longevity and innings. (And Morris' totals look a lot better if you consider WARs margin of error). It's just a weird comparison. 

 

Saberhagen, Santana and Morris are all better pitchers than Goose Gossage and Mariano Rivera. Doesn't really affect their HOF claim.

 

And at the end of the day, Morris' had a lot of post season success, including 3 CG wins in the World Series and a WS MVP. Santana and Saberhagen both had worse post-season numbers (although Saberhagen has a WS MVP too).

Edited by gunnarthor, 28 November 2017 - 06:26 PM.


#28 jimmer

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 06:33 PM

Someone on here wrote if Morris isn't in, Santana shouldn't get in either.I imagine that's why JLease brought Morris into the conversation.

 

One doesn't even have to look at WAR to slam Morris' credentials. Santana's ERA+136, Morris' ERA+ 105. Santana has two CYs (deserving three for sure, arguably four)Morris has zero (deserving zero)

 

Morris never led the league in ERA, ERA+, or K/9 and averaged less than 6 K/9 while averaging more than 3 BB/9.

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#29 gunnarthor

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 10:18 PM

 


 

Morris never led the league in ERA, ERA+, or K/9 and averaged less than 6 K/9 while averaging more than 3 BB/9.

Some of that is true but it's also a little out of context. Morris had more seasons in the top 10 of k/9 than Johan and more seasons in the top 10 in strikeouts as well. When he retired, he was 19th all time in strikeouts. The massive change in the game the last twenty years has changed our perception of strike outs. (Blyleven's k/9 was less than Scott Baker's). And he certainly has a pretty strong claim to the Cy Young in 83 when Hoyt's 24 wins got him the award. While Morris didn't lead in ERA part of the reason is probably due do too many innings, which can water down rate stats. If he threw 50 less innings each year, would his ERA have improved? Probably.

 

But again, they are both borderline candidates but for completely different reasons. Santana, at his best, was inner circle HOF. Very few pitchers could touch that. Morris had longevity. His career is comparable to HOFers like Carl Hubbell and Jim Palmer while Santana relies more on Koufax. They don't compare to each other very well. I'd love to see both in the HOF. Because I prefer longevity and his post season success, I'd probably put Morris in first but you can certainly argue that short high peaks should be HOF worthy as well. (And I think guys like Santana and Nomar Garciaparra should be strongly considered).


#30 MN_ExPat

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 08:36 AM

For me, in the end, I would have to vote my conscience and my heart. If I had a ballot, I would vote Johan in simply on talent alone. Would a longer career and larger sample size of numbers help make the case stronger? Absolutely. But since injuries cut him down in his prime, I would vote what my heart tells me, and that is that he should at least be on my ballet. The rest I would leave up to the other voters consciences and the Good Lord's will.


#31 ALessKosherScott

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 09:53 AM

 

Puckett received quite a few sympathy votes, no doubt, although he probably didn't have more than one or two good years left in him. He had a good year at 35, but what are the chances that a chubby guy who had played his whole career on the fuzzy concrete still would have been going strong at 37-38? Not really good.

 

Anyway, his WAR/JAWS and WAR7 peak put him on the level of Fred Lynn and Bernie Williams, but he had the sympathy vote on his side, and he was the face of two World Series champs. (Poor Bernie, just one of the Very Good players on the Yankees dynasty.)

 

Johan's WAR7 peak puts him right between Dave Stieb and Don Drysdale, not far below Koufax, and just a bit ahead of Luis Tiant, Mike Mussina, Tom Glavine, David Cone, and Justin Verlander. So there is a case that he was about as good as Koufax and Drysdale, although his WAR7 is only tied with Stieb for 62nd all-time, far short of elite level. Was he on the level of Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and Greg Maddux? WAR7 says no.

 

And since Johan doesn't have the legendary World Series performances on his resume, I suppose that he'll go down like Dave Stieb--who also was done in by an injury in his early 30's.

 

Stieb falls into your Saberhagen trap of not really accumulating a lot of black ink either. Mussina is kind of the Don Sutton of the early part of the 21st century. Plenty of gray ink. Not a lot of black ink. Even Glavine doesn't earn as much black ink as Santana.

 

The black ink debate is important because it shows Santana's statistical dominance over a brief career. In the black ink test, Santana sits 37th all-time, tied with Curt Schilling. Of the guys ahead of him, all are in the Hall of Fame minus Kershaw, Verlander and Halladay, whom all should be in when they're eligible and Clemens, whom the press is holding a grudge against.

 

WAR/7 is kind of a weird way to measure a guy like Santana and even Mauer, when he comes around. If you use the Keltner test, both of them are easy Hall of Famers. 

 

 

 

 


#32 JLease

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 11:13 AM

 

Some of that is true but it's also a little out of context. Morris had more seasons in the top 10 of k/9 than Johan and more seasons in the top 10 in strikeouts as well. When he retired, he was 19th all time in strikeouts. The massive change in the game the last twenty years has changed our perception of strike outs. (Blyleven's k/9 was less than Scott Baker's). And he certainly has a pretty strong claim to the Cy Young in 83 when Hoyt's 24 wins got him the award. While Morris didn't lead in ERA part of the reason is probably due do too many innings, which can water down rate stats. If he threw 50 less innings each year, would his ERA have improved? Probably.

 

But again, they are both borderline candidates but for completely different reasons. Santana, at his best, was inner circle HOF. Very few pitchers could touch that. Morris had longevity. His career is comparable to HOFers like Carl Hubbell and Jim Palmer while Santana relies more on Koufax. They don't compare to each other very well. I'd love to see both in the HOF. Because I prefer longevity and his post season success, I'd probably put Morris in first but you can certainly argue that short high peaks should be HOF worthy as well. (And I think guys like Santana and Nomar Garciaparra should be strongly considered).

 

Diagree with your analysis here; it's far too generous to Morris. Palmer and Hubbell (who are actually pretty decent comps for each other despite pitching in very different eras) were both substantially better pitchers than Morris.

 

Palmer didn't deserve as many Cy's as he got, but he definitely should have gotten at least one, arguably two. But both pitchers were significantly better at run prevention than Morris. ERA+: Palmer 125, Hubbell 130, Morris 105. bWAR: Palmer 68.1, Hubbell 67.8, Morris 43.8. Both Palmer and Hubbell had Morris' greatest strength (ability to eat up a lot of innings) but coupled it with greater ability to prevent runs. Palmer and Morris both had the benefit of fine defenders playing behind them (Palmer especially had some of the best defenses of all time working behind him) but even taking that into account, Palmer is still a significantly better pitcher.

 

I brought Morris into the discussion because a) someone suggested that Santana shouldn't be in if Morris wasn't, and B) there's been a fair amount of commentary about Morris getting in off the small committee vote that is looking at players from his era. (BTW, I really don't think Morris was robbed in '83; Hoyt shouldn't have won as he wasn't even the best pitcher on his own team. But Dave Steib is the guy who really should have won it. Morris is in a pack with Dotson and MacGregor and a few others. Steib is probably the most underrated pitcher from that time frame, and had a four year run where he was almost certainly the best pitcher in the AL and should have won 2 Cy's; he was tremendous from '82-'85)

 

I do agree that the Koufax case has some similarities for Santana; Koufax was better and had to quit at the height of his powers because of injury, and also had the post-season success to go with it. But Sandy is considered a no-doubter HoF guy. No one really argues it. If that's where your starting point is on Santana, that's pretty strong for your case. 


#33 gunnarthor

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 11:45 AM

 

Diagree with your analysis here; it's far too generous to Morris. Palmer and Hubbell (who are actually pretty decent comps for each other despite pitching in very different eras) were both substantially better pitchers than Morris.

 

Palmer didn't deserve as many Cy's as he got, but he definitely should have gotten at least one, arguably two. But both pitchers were significantly better at run prevention than Morris. ERA+: Palmer 125, Hubbell 130, Morris 105. bWAR: Palmer 68.1, Hubbell 67.8, Morris 43.8. Both Palmer and Hubbell had Morris' greatest strength (ability to eat up a lot of innings) but coupled it with greater ability to prevent runs. Palmer and Morris both had the benefit of fine defenders playing behind them (Palmer especially had some of the best defenses of all time working behind him) but even taking that into account, Palmer is still a significantly better pitcher.

 

I brought Morris into the discussion because a) someone suggested that Santana shouldn't be in if Morris wasn't, and :cool: there's been a fair amount of commentary about Morris getting in off the small committee vote that is looking at players from his era. (BTW, I really don't think Morris was robbed in '83; Hoyt shouldn't have won as he wasn't even the best pitcher on his own team. But Dave Steib is the guy who really should have won it. Morris is in a pack with Dotson and MacGregor and a few others. Steib is probably the most underrated pitcher from that time frame, and had a four year run where he was almost certainly the best pitcher in the AL and should have won 2 Cy's; he was tremendous from '82-'85)

 

 

Steib is the most overrated underrated player going right now.In his career he threw 2900 or so innings and 44 WAR. From 80-91, Morris threw 2900 innnings and 44 WAR. In 5 more seasons he tacked on another 11 WAR. 

 

While you noted their bWAR you didn't note their fWAR Morris (55.8) Palmer (56.6) and Hubbel (56.5).I suspect the difference between those has to do with the defense - Palmer's babip for his career is .249. Of pitchers with 3000ip or more, only Catfish Hunter is better and third best is sitting at .258. Hubbel (.267) and Morris (.270) aren't close to that. Brooks Robinson was really, really good.

 

Again, if you like WAR, he's comparable to Palmer and Hubbel.


#34 Loosey

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 12:44 PM

As much as I would like to see Santana get in eventually, I think him and Puckett are different stories.

 

Santana's shoulder slowly gave out on him until it got to the point he couldn't pitch anymore.That is his body wearing out.Similar to if he was great for 5 years and then just couldn't pitch well anymore because he was aging and/or wear and tear over the years wore him down.Happens to lots of great players.Their bodies can't holdup to the rigors of a long MLB career.

 

Puckett on the other hand was hit in the face by a fastball.He went from All-Star player to practically blind in one eye basically over night.His body was probably good to go for another 3-4 years, but fastballs to the face can change that. 

 

So Santana is a guy that could have become an all-time great if he stayed healthy long enough.Puckett was on the verge of becoming one already and tragically had his career end abruptly at the tail-end when he basically just needed to be ok for few years to reach HOF miles stones (3000 hits, etc).

 

Basically what I am trying to say is I put body giving out in similar category as skills diminishing.While getting smoked in the face is put in a different grouping all together.

 

Edited by Loosey, 29 November 2017 - 12:48 PM.


#35 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 03:37 PM

 

As much as I would like to see Santana get in eventually, I think him and Puckett are different stories.

 

Santana's shoulder slowly gave out on him until it got to the point he couldn't pitch anymore.That is his body wearing out.Similar to if he was great for 5 years and then just couldn't pitch well anymore because he was aging and/or wear and tear over the years wore him down.Happens to lots of great players.Their bodies can't holdup to the rigors of a long MLB career.

 

Puckett on the other hand was hit in the face by a fastball.He went from All-Star player to practically blind in one eye basically over night.His body was probably good to go for another 3-4 years, but fastballs to the face can change that. 

 

So Santana is a guy that could have become an all-time great if he stayed healthy long enough.Puckett was on the verge of becoming one already and tragically had his career end abruptly at the tail-end when he basically just needed to be ok for few years to reach HOF miles stones (3000 hits, etc).

 

Basically what I am trying to say is I put body giving out in similar category as skills diminishing.While getting smoked in the face is put in a different grouping all together.

Yeah, this. You can make an argument that Mauer falls under the Puckett clause but it's hard to make that case for Johan. He just broke down, as pitchers often do.

 

On that note, it's hard to believe Joe is still 400 PAs shy of Puckett's career number, has been mediocre-to-bad for 4+ seasons, and still has 3 more career fWAR than Kirby.

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#36 laloesch

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 03:58 PM

 

Puckett's career ended because of glaucoma, not because he was hit by a pitch in the face. The glaucoma had nothing to do with the HBP. 

 

yes.The pitch actually did very little damage to his eye, but the glaucoma which had gone un-diagnosed for so long came back to bite him big time.Once the damage is done it's irreversible.That's why it's imperative that you get your eyes check often because it can be prevented.

Edited by laloesch, 29 November 2017 - 04:07 PM.


#37 ALessKosherScott

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 04:22 PM

 

Yeah, this. You can make an argument that Mauer falls under the Puckett clause but it's hard to make that case for Johan. He just broke down, as pitchers often do.

 

On that note, it's hard to believe Joe is still 400 PAs shy of Puckett's career number, has been mediocre-to-bad for 4+ seasons, and still has 3 more career fWAR than Kirby.

 

I think with Santana though there are numerous different pitcher clauses you could rename it to. The Koufax Clause? The Dean Clause? The Rube Waddell Clause? The Amos Rusie Clause? There are about six similar pitchers to Santana in history who were the best pitcher in baseball for a couple of years before arm troubles and all of them are Hall of Famers.

 

And the problem with WAR/7, JAWS and other monitors is we've tried to turn an emotional decision into a rational one. Tom Glavine is a Hall of Famer, and anyone who was as good as he was for as long as he was. But rhetorically, if you had a time machine and had to win one baseball game, which pitcher are you traveling back in time to get-- 1991-1996 Glavine or 2003-2008 Santana? 

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#38 gunnarthor

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 08:33 AM

 

I think with Santana though there are numerous different pitcher clauses you could rename it to. The Koufax Clause? The Dean Clause? The Rube Waddell Clause? The Amos Rusie Clause? There are about six similar pitchers to Santana in history who were the best pitcher in baseball for a couple of years before arm troubles and all of them are Hall of Famers.

 

And the problem with WAR/7, JAWS and other monitors is we've tried to turn an emotional decision into a rational one. Tom Glavine is a Hall of Famer, and anyone who was as good as he was for as long as he was. But rhetorically, if you had a time machine and had to win one baseball game, which pitcher are you traveling back in time to get-- 1991-1996 Glavine or 2003-2008 Santana? 

Can I go back to October 27, 1991?


#39 JLease

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 11:45 AM

 

Steib is the most overrated underrated player going right now.In his career he threw 2900 or so innings and 44 WAR. From 80-91, Morris threw 2900 innnings and 44 WAR. In 5 more seasons he tacked on another 11 WAR. 

 

While you noted their bWAR you didn't note their fWAR Morris (55.8) Palmer (56.6) and Hubbel (56.5).I suspect the difference between those has to do with the defense - Palmer's babip for his career is .249. Of pitchers with 3000ip or more, only Catfish Hunter is better and third best is sitting at .258. Hubbel (.267) and Morris (.270) aren't close to that. Brooks Robinson was really, really good.

 

Again, if you like WAR, he's comparable to Palmer and Hubbel.

 

I used bWAR in part because I think their modelling makes more sense for evaluating a pitcher's season (Rany explains it better than me: https://www.theringe...ll-james-debate ) The defense does explain some of it, but Morris also pitched behind excellent defenders, trammel & whitaker most notably, for basically his entire career...and according to fWAR some years he got bailed out by his defense and some years he didn't. considering how we're still trying to evaluate defensive value, I don't love the way fWAR uses FIP to calculate WAR, especially when you consider cases like Nolan Ryan as Rany presented in the link above.

 

I'm not saying Stieb is a HoF pitcher, but you're sort of making my case for me: Stieb and Morris are interesting comps for each other in the 80's and ain't no one talking about Dave Stieb for the Hall, yet people act like it's this great injustice that Jack isn't in. (fWAR has them as basically the exact same pitcher in the time frame you highlight; bWAR would tell you to take Stieb every time and that was basically Stieb's career.) I can't say I love the argument that Jack should be in the Hall and not Dave because Jack stayed healthier for a few years longer and some people are pretty sure Dave pitched in front of better defenses.

 

 


#40 ALessKosherScott

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 11:59 AM

 

Can I go back to October 27, 1991?

 

Sure. But I'm grabbing Santana from August 19, 2007 and beating you.

Edited by ALessKosherScott, 30 November 2017 - 12:00 PM.

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