Mark Buehrle will remain on the Hall of Fame ballot for next year. But his chances of being immortalized in Cooperstown took a hit after this year’s voting.
Scott Rolen was the lone member on the 2023 ballot to reach the 75 percent of votes necessary to be inducted into Cooperstown. While Buehrle was far from alone in falling short of the 75 percent threshold, his total number of votes was surprisingly low.
Buehrle tallied 42 votes (10.8 percent) compared to the 23 he received last year. However, he still fell 250 votes short of the required 292 total. It was also two fewer votes he received than the 44 in his first year of eligibility.
The 2023 class provided Buehrle with his best shot to crack Cooperstown. In 2022 the southpaw survived a ballot that included Barry Bonds, Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa, and David Ortiz. Buehrle squeaked out just enough votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America to remain on the ballot. Ortiz wound up being the only one to get inducted.
It was one of the most challenging years to navigate in terms of Hall of Fame voting. Bonds, Schilling, and Sosa were all deserving but surrounded by controversy and in their last year of eligibility. The Writers have made it clear that if you got caught taking steroids, your odds of making it are low, but if you were mean to the writers, it is virtually impossible to get enough votes. Hence why Ortiz, who got popped for taking PEDs, was the only one who made it in.
The list of 2023 candidates presented Buehlre with his best chance of making the Hall of Fame. The former White Sox starter was one of the best pitchers on this year’s ballot. Billy Wagner and Andy Pettitte were the only other pitchers on the list. Pettitte had a steroid dustup and admitted to using HGH twice in 2002 and once more in 2004 to recover from injuries. Despite issuing an apology, the writers made it clear how they felt about players with baggage last year. However, things did not play out in Buehlre’s favor.
Wagner made an impressive jump to 68.1 percent, leaving him just 27 votes shy. Meanwhile, Alex Rodriguez polling at 40 percent also added to the growing confusion over what qualifies a player for the Hall of Fame. No baggage was one of the things Buehrle had going for him.
Next season CC Sabathia will also take the honor of best left-handed pitcher on the ballot from Buehrle. After Wagner’s sudden surge this year, Sabathia makes that two pitchers will probably receive more votes in 2024.
Next year Adrian Beltre will jump onto the ballot. He is a slam dunk, first-ballot lock. Joe Mauer and Chase Utley will also be intriguing additions who both have legitimate cases. Then there are players like David Wright, Bartolo Colon, Matt Holiday, and Adrian Gonzalez, who could muddy the waters.
Buehrle has a Hall of Fame resume. The St. Charles, Missouri native is a five-time All-Star and World Series champion. He ranked 65th all-time in WAR for Pitchers and finished in the top ten in that category on six occasions. His command was unmatched. Even in his final season, he still ranked in the 97th percentile in walk rate.
Believe it or not, his numbers stack up with a current Hall of Famer, Tom Glavine. Buehrle and Glavine each have 14 seasons with 200+ innings pitched. In an era where the bullpen’s dominant, having a reliable starter that can throw that many innings year in and year out is a huge luxury. Only a few other pitchers will even sniff 14 seasons of 200 or more innings.
Buehrle’s ERA+, which accounts for external factors like ballparks and opponents, is 117. That is just a tick below Glavine’s which sits at 118. For context, a score of 100 is the league average. Buehrle’s K/9 was 5.1. While that is slightly lower than Glavine’s 5.3 mark, the southpaw was notorious for pitching for contact. Buehrle also has four Gold Gloves to support his case. He is the only pitcher in MLB history to throw multiple no-hitters and win multiple Gold Gloves.
Mark Buehrle has tossed a no-hitter and a perfect game. Glavine has zero. Each pitcher also has one World Series title to their name. But Buehrle registered a save en route to winning his. Glavine deservingly received a call to the hall in 2014. All signs are pointing to Buehrle getting snubbed, especially after just two players (Rollen and Ortiz) have been elected by writers in the last three years.
While the Baseball Writers may not appreciate him, Buehrle is one of just eleven White Sox players to have their number retired. That is a pretty cool accomplishment for someone drafted in the 38th round.