Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Bruce Sutter, Hall of Famer?

SI's Tom Verducci questions the BBWAA's decision to elect Bruce Sutter to the Hall of Fame and concurrently deny Goose Gossage.

Consider: Sutter was washed up at age 32; Gossage continued as a closer until age 34 and had previously lost one prime season of closing as a starter for the goingnowhere '76 Chisox. Gossage routinely posted ERA+ levels over 150, Sutter did it three times (his ERA compared to the league average, higher number is better); Gossage also was not a one-inning specialist -- he'd pitch 2+ innings to save games, Sutter would not.

Gossage pitched well, and often brilliantly (1978, 1980-82) on the biggest stage in major league baseball, Sutter made his reputation as a closer for the bottom-dwelling (just above the Mess) Cubs in the late '70s before pitching well, but not with Gossage-level excellence (other than 1984, for a third-place team), for the Cards. The most damning indictment of the vote comes from their player pages at Baseball Reference: Sutter's career most closely resembles those of Doug Jones, Tom Henke and Jeff Montgomery -- three closers far from HoF consideration; Gossage's most closely resembles the careers of Rollie Fingers and Hoyt Wilhelm, both of whom have plaques at Cooperstown.

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