Mark Buehrle is back on the ballot with another chance at being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. This year may be his best chance yet to enter Cooperstown and take his rightful place in baseball immortality.
Last season Buehrle did not reach the 75 percent threshold needed to join David Ortiz in the Hall of Fame. But he did receive enough votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America to remain on the ballot. That was a victory considering he was up against Barry Bonds, Curt Schilling, and Sammy Sosa, who were all in their 10th and final year of eligibility. All three players are surrounded by controversy. But their exclusion from the Hall of Fame, especially Bonds and Schilling, left countless fans scratching their heads.
That stacked lineup also explains why he dropped from 11 percent to 5.8 percent over his first two years on the ballot. With them out of the way, his vote total should be boosted.
Now Buehrle is by far the best pitcher on this year’s ballot. Billy Wagner and Andy Pettitte are the only other pitchers on the ballot besides Buehrle. Pettitte had a steroid dustup. He 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.
Next season CC Sabathia will take that honor from Buehrle, so this is his best shot at Cooperstown. At the very least, he should be able to remain on the ballot for next season. The only new name on the ballot is Carlos Beltran. The Mets recently fired Beltran for his role in the Houston Astros cheating scandal. If the voters left off Barry Bonds because of baggage, the scandal certainly won’t help Beltran’s case.
Buehrle has a Hall of Fame resume. The St. Charles, Missouri native, is a five-time All-Star and World Series champion. He ranks 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 years 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. Judging by the career numbers, Buehrle should also be receiving one in the near future.
Around this time last season MLB Network posted a graphic comparing the two pitchers, and Ozzie Guillen chimed in on Twitter.
“Look at my boy being compared to one of the greatest,” the White Sox former skipper wrote. “Class Act I was lucky to have managed him. No wonder I won more than I lost thanks lefty.”
Guillen brings up a great point when talking about Buehrle. One of the main reasons Bond and Shilling were omitted was because of their checkered past and abrasive personalities. Buehrle is a salt-of-the-earth guy with a great sense of humor.
Whether the Baseball Writers of America reward him for his Hall of Fame resume is yet to be seen. But there is no denying Buehrle deserves a spot in Cooperstown.