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Why isn't Johan Santana in the Hall of Fame?


Before I begin this discussion, I might be slightly biased because Johan Santana is my favorite player of all time. He's who I wanted to be growing up and I never missed one of his starts. I will always remember where I was during his 17 strikeout game against the Rangers. I'll never forget how sad 8 year old me was when he was traded in the 2008 offseason. He was a huge part of my childhood and one of the best pitchers in Twins history. Now, why was Johan not inducted into Cooperstown?

Starting with his accolades, he was a 2x Cy Young winner (we'll talk about 2005 later in this post), the triple crown winner in 2006, 4x All-Star, 3x ERA title winner, and won a Gold Glove. He accumulated 51.7 WAR according to Baseball Reference, had a career 3.20 ERA over 2025.2 innings, with 1988 strikeouts, and a 1.132 WHIP. Obviously, a crazy good prime and list of accolades. His career was cut short due to injury which is the biggest argument as to why he doesn't have a plaque in New York. Now, let's talk about the reason why he isn't in Cooperstown, the 2005 season.

Most people are aware of what happened in the 2005 Cy Young race, but let's vent about it some more. Bartolo Colon won the 2005 AL Cy Young over Johan Santana, who finished third with Mariano Rivera coming in second. Bartolo Colon led the league in one category: pitcher wins. Johan led the league in strikeouts, ERA+, FIP, and WHIP. Let's compare the two's statistics from that season:

Colon ERA: 3.48, Santana ERA: 2.87

Colon IP: 222.2, Santana IP: 231.2

Colon SO: 157, Santana SO: 238

Colon ERA+: 122, Santana ERA+: 155

Colon FIP: 3.55, Santana FIP: 2.80

Colon WHIP: 1.159, Santana WHIP: 0.971

As we can see, the 2005 Cy Young clearly should've belonged to Johan Santana. This means that he should've been a 3 time Cy Young winner, with those being 3 straight from 2004-06. This is very important because every 3 time Cy Young Award winner is either in the Hall of Fame now, or will be in the Hall of Fame once they are retired. So, although Johan's career was a little shorter than other Hall of Famers, it's impossible to argue with the 3 should've been Cy Young Awards. Johan Santana should be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Thank you for reading! Follow me on twitter @zach_hartford for more Twins discussion.

 

 

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Johan SHOULD be a Hall of famer (just like Tony Oliva should---good grief Harold Baines IS and Oliva ISN'T ??).  Santana should be looked at like Sandy Koufax.  Koufax does not have the career numbers of someone like Don Sutton.  But even though Sutton IS in the Hall and he belongs in the Hall, nobody would disagree that Koufax would be in an elevated "wing" of the Hall when compared to Sutton.  Santana was simply a dominant pitcher in the time he was in the league.  And if he HAD won that 3rd Cy Young (like he should have) it would be pretty difficult for a 3-time Cy Young winner NOT to be in the Hall of Fame.  

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He will get in my guess during a vet vote.  The biggest issue was Johan career was cut short due to injury, he never won a WS and he pitched at the end of the old era but before the analytic era started.  For years with the Twins he was the best in the league.  I still cannot believe he did not get past the first year of voting. I am convinced if he would have pitched like he did for Twins in a major market he would at minimum still be on the ballot.  Major market guys always get inflated because they show up on national media more often. 

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51 minutes ago, TopGunn#22 said:

Johan SHOULD be a Hall of famer (just like Tony Oliva should---good grief Harold Baines IS and Oliva ISN'T ??).  Santana should be looked at like Sandy Koufax.  Koufax does not have the career numbers of someone like Don Sutton.  But even though Sutton IS in the Hall and he belongs in the Hall, nobody would disagree that Koufax would be in an elevated "wing" of the Hall when compared to Sutton.  Santana was simply a dominant pitcher in the time he was in the league.  And if he HAD won that 3rd Cy Young (like he should have) it would be pretty difficult for a 3-time Cy Young winner NOT to be in the Hall of Fame.  

I am also a big fan of Santana. Loved to watch him pitch. Santana should be in the Hall of Fame for reasons that have been stated. I believe his career was cut short because he over extended his arm by recordings the Mets 1st no hitter. A good manager would put his pitcher's career ahead of any team accolade. But that didn't happen and Santana was never the same. He should not penalized because of it. Let's take politics out of it & put him in.

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10 hours ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

Wait. JOHAN HAS 51 WAR ON B-REF???!???

I swear I checked this like six months ago and it was mid-30s but now it is definitely over 50.

Brock confused. 

He accumulated almost half of his WAR in that 3 season stretch! One of the most dominant and underrated primes ever.

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1 hour ago, TopGunn#22 said:

Johan SHOULD be a Hall of famer (just like Tony Oliva should---good grief Harold Baines IS and Oliva ISN'T ??).  Santana should be looked at like Sandy Koufax.  Koufax does not have the career numbers of someone like Don Sutton.  But even though Sutton IS in the Hall and he belongs in the Hall, nobody would disagree that Koufax would be in an elevated "wing" of the Hall when compared to Sutton.  Santana was simply a dominant pitcher in the time he was in the league.  And if he HAD won that 3rd Cy Young (like he should have) it would be pretty difficult for a 3-time Cy Young winner NOT to be in the Hall of Fame.  

Couldn't agree more! There's definitely been some questionable inductions in history and unfortunately I think this is one of the bigger mistakes.

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58 minutes ago, Trov said:

He will get in my guess during a vet vote.  The biggest issue was Johan career was cut short due to injury, he never won a WS and he pitched at the end of the old era but before the analytic era started.  For years with the Twins he was the best in the league.  I still cannot believe he did not get past the first year of voting. I am convinced if he would have pitched like he did for Twins in a major market he would at minimum still be on the ballot.  Major market guys always get inflated because they show up on national media more often. 

Absolutely. I think at the least he should still be on the ballet. Crazy to me that he went one and done. I still believe he should get in and he absolutely would've gotten in if not for 2005.

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Maybe he'll get in through the writers. I wonder if playing in Minnesota for most of his career has hurt his chances since we are a smaller market team. Bert Be-Home-By-Leven took awhile to make it - maybe for the same reason. Kaat hasn't made it yet though some could argue against him (not me as he's my favorite Twin).

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I'm convinced he would have gotten in the HOF had he not pitched again after the 134 pitch no-hitter in 2012. That was June 1, his ERA after that game was 2.38, his strikeouts were up and he was probably the front runner for the Cy Young, which ended up going to teammate R.A. Dickey. But he was off and on the DL the rest of the year and made 10 more ineffective starts with a gimpy shoulder.

Because of those ten starts, in which the Mets had no business running him out there, the last memory is that of a broken down Santana instead of the memory of him pitching the Mets first ever no-hitter. He probably would have gotten the Kirby Puckett/Sandy Koufax cut-down-in-his-prime treatment. His ending would have been legendary (infamous for manager Terry Collins who left him in too long) and he might have even gotten in on the first ballot.

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The case of money and Big Market isn't always best. He would have continued to dominate in Minnesota.

 

Career ended too short. If he had won that third Cy Young, although he should still be considered the ex facto winner of that Cy Young when looking at his Hall of Fame credentials.

 

Tony Oliva? Jim Kaat? Something about ex-Twins in the Hall of Fame!

 

 

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Honestly, there's a reason players fall off the ballot in a single year like Santana did. Santana threw a no-hitter for the New York Mets. It doesn't get much bigger than that. Everybody was aware of how outstanding Santana was, he just didn't play long enough and he played on a lot of crappy teams. 45 fWAR, 51 bWAR.

I think the comeback attempts actually hurt him quite a bit. It put speculation into how hard he was trying to make a comeback and kind of turned him into a joke. If you're going to try a comeback, you need to make it back. A good example for Cole Hamels. not saying that's fair criticism, but fan perception isn't "fair."

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I have been convinced that if the order of teams he pitched for were reversed (Mets in his dominant years, Twins for that one no-hitter then the injuries) he would have been in, or at least on the ballot for all 10 years.  That he wasn't elected isn't all that shocking, but that he didn't garner the required 5% the first year to stay on the ballot was a travesty.  

I have been mocked when I counter nay-sayers who say his time of dominance with Sandy Koufax.  I never said Santana was as good as Koufax - my point is that Koufax had short period when he was by far the game's best pitcher and if that's enough for him, why wasn't it for Santana, especially when considering that there was much more hitting in the game during Santana's time than Koufax's. 

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I also loved Johan, but unfortunately, 45.6 WAR just is not that much, historically speaking.  It puts him 120th all time, behind such household names as Charlie Buffinton, Amos Rusie, Claude Passeau, Vic Willis, and Gus Weyhing (among others).  2004-2006 were phenomenal seasons--he was the best pitcher in baseball by over 2 WAR (in fact, only 3 pitchers were even within 5 WAR of Johan in those 3 years).  But I don't know that a 3 year prime, even one as good as that, is enough for HOF inclusion.  I personally wouldn't be mad at his inclusion, but I think you have to be higher than 109th in all-time WAR (his position after retiring in 2012) to be included.  No one is upset David Cone isn't in the HOF, even though he has 33% more WAR than Johan.

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1 hour ago, LanceJS said:

I have been convinced that if the order of teams he pitched for were reversed (Mets in his dominant years, Twins for that one no-hitter then the injuries) he would have been in, or at least on the ballot for all 10 years.  That he wasn't elected isn't all that shocking, but that he didn't garner the required 5% the first year to stay on the ballot was a travesty.  

I have been mocked when I counter nay-sayers who say his time of dominance with Sandy Koufax.  I never said Santana was as good as Koufax - my point is that Koufax had short period when he was by far the game's best pitcher and if that's enough for him, why wasn't it for Santana, especially when considering that there was much more hitting in the game during Santana's time than Koufax's. 

Koufax had 6 straight years with at least 5.7 WAR, Santana's best 6 year stretch is at 3.7 as a minimum.  In those 6 years, Koufax put up 46.5 WAR, Santana put up 33.5.  Santana's best 3 year stretch was 20.6, while Koufax's was 25.3.  Santana's best year by WAR (7.1 in 2005) would only be Koufax's 4th best year (Koufax had 10 in 1965, 9.2 in 1963, 9.1 in 1966).  Koufax also would have put up even more WAR in 1964 and 1962, if he hadn't pitched 100+ fewer innings in those seasons.  Koufax's prime is not just longer, it's clearly better as well.

Now--Koufax did pitch far more innings than Santana, and since WAR is a counting stat, that has to be taken into account.  That said, ability to throw that many high quality innings is worthwhile.  I think it also has to be taken into account that Koufax retired while on top, after his 9.1 WAR in 1966, just before he turned 31.  That surely made people assume he would have had 4-5 good years left at minimum, whereas Santana made it very clear he had no more good years left.

Santana's career follows the same trendline, to a degree, as Koufax', but at significantly lower altitude.

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I guess the Harold Baines inclusion means hope for anyone? I am still upset about that one. I would hope the veterans committee takes a hard look at Johan, but honestly Jim Kaat should be in there before Santana. The Blyleven & Morris inductions prove the very good longevity argument. Jim Kaat was never dominant, but was very good for a very long time. Santana is the flip side of the same coin. Short term dominance. Is there a place in the Hall for the short term dominant? That is the Koufax argument. I would have been ok if the Hall of Fame would have just kept it to the Dominant and Longevity qualifier and eliminated all this debate. Just the elite of the elite. Once Harold Baines gets in you have an argument for thousands of above average 20+ year players who pile up the stats. Unfortunate for Johan, he is in the Koufax/Puckett category of nominees, not the Morris or Blyleven category. Short term dominance is the hardest way in. 

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4 hours ago, twinfan said:

Maybe he'll get in through the writers. I wonder if playing in Minnesota for most of his career has hurt his chances since we are a smaller market team. Bert Be-Home-By-Leven took awhile to make it - maybe for the same reason. Kaat hasn't made it yet though some could argue against him (not me as he's my favorite Twin).

That's our only hope is through the writers! Really hoping that he gets the recognition that he deserves.

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3 hours ago, nicksaviking said:

I'm convinced he would have gotten in the HOF had he not pitched again after the 134 pitch no-hitter in 2012. That was June 1, his ERA after that game was 2.38, his strikeouts were up and he was probably the front runner for the Cy Young, which ended up going to teammate R.A. Dickey. But he was off and on the DL the rest of the year and made 10 more ineffective starts with a gimpy shoulder.

Because of those ten starts, in which the Mets had no business running him out there, the last memory is that of a broken down Santana instead of the memory of him pitching the Mets first ever no-hitter. He probably would have gotten the Kirby Puckett/Sandy Koufax cut-down-in-his-prime treatment. His ending would have been legendary (infamous for manager Terry Collins who left him in too long) and he might have even gotten in on the first ballot.

Good point. I'm not sure if that would've specifically gotten him into the hall or not. I think he still belongs in that category with Kirby and Koufax. Really hoping he is able to get in on a writer's ballot!

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3 hours ago, Rosterman said:

The case of money and Big Market isn't always best. He would have continued to dominate in Minnesota.

 

Career ended too short. If he had won that third Cy Young, although he should still be considered the ex facto winner of that Cy Young when looking at his Hall of Fame credentials.

 

Tony Oliva? Jim Kaat? Something about ex-Twins in the Hall of Fame!

 

 

The Twins and their luck! Something odd about it.

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3 hours ago, bean5302 said:

Honestly, there's a reason players fall off the ballot in a single year like Santana did. Santana threw a no-hitter for the New York Mets. It doesn't get much bigger than that. Everybody was aware of how outstanding Santana was, he just didn't play long enough and he played on a lot of crappy teams. 45 fWAR, 51 bWAR.

I think the comeback attempts actually hurt him quite a bit. It put speculation into how hard he was trying to make a comeback and kind of turned him into a joke. If you're going to try a comeback, you need to make it back. A good example for Cole Hamels. not saying that's fair criticism, but fan perception isn't "fair."

Playing on crappy teams definitely shouldn't factor into a HOF induction. Plenty of players that played for bad teams have gotten in. I believe that Cole Hamels also should have a good case of getting into the hall. Tough to take away someone's love for the game!

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2 hours ago, theBOMisthebomb said:

No real success in the playoffs, no signature moment that had a lasting impact, and a bland personality. None of this should really matter too much in HOF conversations, yet it does. 

He had a 17 strikeout game with the Twins and threw a no hitter with the Mets. I would say those are pretty signature moments. 

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2 hours ago, LanceJS said:

I have been convinced that if the order of teams he pitched for were reversed (Mets in his dominant years, Twins for that one no-hitter then the injuries) he would have been in, or at least on the ballot for all 10 years.  That he wasn't elected isn't all that shocking, but that he didn't garner the required 5% the first year to stay on the ballot was a travesty.  

I have been mocked when I counter nay-sayers who say his time of dominance with Sandy Koufax.  I never said Santana was as good as Koufax - my point is that Koufax had short period when he was by far the game's best pitcher and if that's enough for him, why wasn't it for Santana, especially when considering that there was much more hitting in the game during Santana's time than Koufax's. 

I could definitely see that being the case. It's extremely silly but for some reason the market you play in does matter. Johan and Koufax aren't very comparable pitchers but their prime's were quite similar. They were both the best pitcher in baseball for multiple years. Koufax played in a big market in his prime, while Johan didn't.

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1 hour ago, Cap'n Piranha said:

I also loved Johan, but unfortunately, 45.6 WAR just is not that much, historically speaking.  It puts him 120th all time, behind such household names as Charlie Buffinton, Amos Rusie, Claude Passeau, Vic Willis, and Gus Weyhing (among others).  2004-2006 were phenomenal seasons--he was the best pitcher in baseball by over 2 WAR (in fact, only 3 pitchers were even within 5 WAR of Johan in those 3 years).  But I don't know that a 3 year prime, even one as good as that, is enough for HOF inclusion.  I personally wouldn't be mad at his inclusion, but I think you have to be higher than 109th in all-time WAR (his position after retiring in 2012) to be included.  No one is upset David Cone isn't in the HOF, even though he has 33% more WAR than Johan.

There's a lot more to statistics than just WAR. He led the league in almost every category for three years straight and should've won three straight Cy Young Awards. If he would've won it in 2005, then he would be in the HOF.

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32 minutes ago, In My La Z boy said:

I guess the Harold Baines inclusion means hope for anyone? I am still upset about that one. I would hope the veterans committee takes a hard look at Johan, but honestly Jim Kaat should be in there before Santana. The Blyleven & Morris inductions prove the very good longevity argument. Jim Kaat was never dominant, but was very good for a very long time. Santana is the flip side of the same coin. Short term dominance. Is there a place in the Hall for the short term dominant? That is the Koufax argument. I would have been ok if the Hall of Fame would have just kept it to the Dominant and Longevity qualifier and eliminated all this debate. Just the elite of the elite. Once Harold Baines gets in you have an argument for thousands of above average 20+ year players who pile up the stats. Unfortunate for Johan, he is in the Koufax/Puckett category of nominees, not the Morris or Blyleven category. Short term dominance is the hardest way in. 

I think that when someone dominates the league as much as he did for that three year stretch that should be enough. Johan absolutely deserves to be in before Jim Kaat. Johan accumulated more WAR than Kaat in half of the seasons Kaat played. Kaat didn't win a single Cy Young, the highest he finished was 4th. Johan has much better of a resume.

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