The effect of injury on elite players

The debate about Hall of Fame worthiness is as healthy now as it’s ever been. As fans are provided with more statistics that illuminate certain aspects of value (here’s looking at you, WAR) and fantastic sites like Baseball Reference have all the information available a click away, within 24 hours of a game finishing, the fire is fueled for some healthy discussion.

In that vein, earlier this month Joe discussed Hall of Fame credentials and standards. There are some basic guidelines that won’t change in the eyes of the electorate (namely, baseball writers), and Joe does a good job outlining them. There are, however, some great players who are on the bubble for the Hall of Fame because of the negative impact of injury on their careers. How much should that affect the voters? It might seem unfair to keep great players from the Hall because of injuries, but it’s one of many aspects that feed into the composition of a career. None of those should be taken lightly.

Pitchers with poor deliveries

Sandy Koufax was a legend, without a doubt. His career-ending injury, however, could have cost him a Hall of Fame spot. He pitched brilliantly in his final six seasons and earned three Cy Young awards before leaving the game at 30. With what Larry Schwartz calls an “arthritic arm,” Koufax pitched four no-hitters.

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Hall of Fame credentials: What does it take to get inducted?

Earlier this week, the Hall of Fame Class of 2014 was enshrined in Cooperstown, New York. This year only three eligible players received the necessary 75 percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers Association of America. This is following a year in which no players where voted in.

A lot has been written and said about the 2014 inductees: Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine. All three were certainly deserving, and made the cut in their first year of eligibility. Glavine and Maddux each won more than 300 games and were dominant for extended periods. Meanwhile, Thomas hit 521 home runs and was a premier slugger for most of his career. Aside from obvious choices like these, however, one has to wonder what a player has to do in this day and age to earn baseball’s greatest honor.

The steroid pariahs

As baseball attempts to move past the steroid era, it is evident that the game as a whole does not want to reward those who chemically enhanced themselves, or are widely suspected of having done so. Several years ago, players like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire became HOF eligible for the first time. Many speculated that their past misdoings would affect their chances, and they were right.

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Pitching injury rates

I wrote these thoughts down a while back, and added to them this week.
Some linked articles are old, but the links are updated.

The injury issue

Pitching an extensive amount is not good for the human body.
In fact, it has become debilitating.

Starters are breaking down.
The way the closer role is set up is incredibly harmful to the players.

The words “elbow surgery” appear 37 times on the current USA Today injury report, only once in reference to a position player (catcher Matt Wieters). 102 pitchers are on the disabled list (n.b. one of those is for food poisoning).

So why is it nothing is being done about it?
It would seem that either the players or the owners would care enough about the problem to speak out and do something to fix it. Yet they stay silent.

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