Should Kevin Brown Be in the Hall of Fame?

Is there a more overlooked candidate on the current Hall-of-Fame ballot than Kevin Brown?

Poke around, and you’ll find the usual shopworn debates and entrenched positions, but Brown, it would seem, is being given short shrift. It’s not even that his case is being assailed; rather, it’s being altogether ignored, at least if the phased release of voter opinions is any guide. So the safe assumption is that Brown is going to garner little support, and his falling below the 5% threshold seems more likely than his election. That’s too bad.

Consider Brown’s traditional merits:

Statistic Career Rank
Wins 90th
Innings 96th
Strikeouts 38th
K/BB Ratio 61st

Those numbers make for a reasonable case, but that’s without delving into the advanced metrics of which we members of the basement-dwelling insurgency are so fond. Speaking of which …

Statistic Career Rank
Wins Above Replacement* 8th
Wins Above Replacement** 34th
Win Probability Added 23rd
Adjusted Pitching Wins 26th
Adjusted ERA+ 53rd

* FanGraphs version of Pitcher WAR, since 1980
** Baseball-Reference version of Pitcher WAR, for all-time

And here we have the classic profile of a player that’s overlooked by mainstream analysts — he grades out solidly enough according to the full complement of traditional stats, but he looks even better when advanced measures are introduced into evidence.

Brown won 211 games, authored a career ERA of 3.28, enjoyed a peak from 1996-2000 that was among the best of his era, and pitched in three different postseasons. If you knew nothing else, you would call Brown a borderline Hall of Famer. But when you consider his WAR, his ERA in context and his excellent WPA, he becomes something more than “merely” a strong candidate for Cooperstown. Brown’s dossier certainly isn’t of “inner circle” quality, but it’s not unreasonable to argue that he’s one of the 50 greatest pitchers of all-time. In fact, such an estimation might even be a bit conservative.

As for why he seems to have so little traction with Hall voters, it’s probably a combination of things. As mentioned, Brown suffers from a somewhat less virulent strain of the “Blyleven-Raines Malaise,” a condition in which the breadth of a player’s accomplishments escapes detection by the statistics commonly leaned upon by voters. Other, lesser reasons may involve Brown’s dour personality, his somewhat itinerant career, the misguided notion that he was a bust in L.A., and his misfortune of sharing the playbill with the likes of Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, and Pedro Martinez.

In any case, Brown almost certainly will never make the Hall, but, according to established standards and his actual value, he belongs.




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96 Responses to “Should Kevin Brown Be in the Hall of Fame?”

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  1. GrouchoM says:

    As long as Ron Santo isn’t there, he will always be #1 on the list of most deserving. RIP Ronny

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  2. CircleChange11 says:

    “Blyleven-Raines Malaise,” a condition in which the breadth of a player’s accomplishments escapes detection by the statistics commonly leaned upon by voters.

    Why do we always jump straight to this conclusion? Advanced metrics are not a victim.

    Brown does suffer from the same thing Blyleven did/does … and that is they played alongside peers that had much better careers.

    Raines was a peer of Henderson and Vince Coleman.

    Brown pitched alongside Maddux, Clemens, Pedro, Smoltz, Unit, etc and was as famous for being injured as he was for being awesome.

    You mentioned that at the end, and IMO it’s very important. it’s so difficult to compare pitchers across eras, so you compare their dominance to their peers.

    To me, he’s the perfect example of the risk/reward relationship of sliders and body torque. The slider is very hard on the elbow and Brown threw a ton of them (great sliders). He also turned his back shoulder to the plate, increasing torque, and hiding the ball. Very effective, but also high risk. So, when he was healthy he was outstanding. He he was hurt, well he was hurt very often.

    He and Chris carpetner are going to have the same demon. Mechanics that lead to injury. Talent and stuff that are dominant.

    But compared to peers, I don’t see it.

    I am definitely NOT a fan of “longevity HoF’ers” where guys get in just because they played 18-23 years and accrued “milestone numbers” but Brown has neither … not longevity milestone numbers, nor sustained dominance over peers.

    In any case, Brown almost certainly will never make the Hall, but, according to established standards and his actual value, he belongs.

    Only if we assume FIP (i.e., fWAR) trumps everything else.

    Established standards would eliminate him immediately for only having 211 wins as a SP. So, I’m not sure what establushed standards we’re using.

    Black Ink Pitching – 19 (106), Average HOFer ? 40
    Gray Ink Pitching – 166 (76), Average HOFer ? 185
    Hall of Fame Monitor Pitching – 93 (110), Likely HOFer ? 100
    Hall of Fame Standards Pitching – 41 (67), Average HOFer ? 50

    Not seeing it

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    • Joe R says:

      You lost me when you implied Vince Coleman had a better career than Tim Raines.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I didn’t imply that. Coleman’s career was ended early with injuries. I impled that playing in the same league as Coleman, Raines was significantly over-shadowed as a great base stealer. Raines was a league leader stealing between 75-90 bases. Coleman shows up stealing 100+ and Raines accomplishments look diminished. Combine that with playing in the same generation as Henderson, and Raines is easily overshadowed. I do think he is one of the few examples where advanced metrics really are a genuine aspect of his value. But, even then I think he falls just short, although the line between HoF and not is blurry as heck.

        Kevin Brown was outstanding during the same time that a handful of other pitchers were just as outstanding (some of them more outstanding) AND outstanding for a longer period of time.

        I compare players to their peers only, and I don’t like to appeal to previous (perhaps poor) decisions as evidence that current and future poor decisions should be made.

        Kevin Brown was serious shit. I would not at all be surprised if batters preferred to face Greg Maddux 10 times out of 10. A slider-thrower that turn his back and releases the ball from 3/4 is ridiculously hard for a RHB to hit. But comparing the careers of Brown to the other pitchers of his era, and he’s not nearly as dominant (considering performance and longevity).

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      • Joe R says:

        Errr, so now we’re saying because he was undervalued in the past, means we can’t change our opinion of him and realize his contributions?

        Jimmy Wynn says hi.

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    • Chops says:

      I think you are severely underrating Tim Raines, if you are implying that Vince Coleman was a better player.

      Tim Raines was a flat out better hitter than Vince Coleman.

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      • Joe R says:

        My favorite excerpt from raines30.com:
        The biggest debates for me were Tim Raines, who obviously was overshadowed by Rickey Henderson, but also if you take Vince Coleman’s five top years, I would say he outperformed Raines, too, and I don’t see Coleman as a Hall of Famer.
        — Tracy Ringolsby

        FACT

        Just for fun, I took Coleman’s 5 best years. They were hard to find, but I settled on this: 85, 87, 89, 90, 92. That totaled 2818 PA. (If you prefer different seasons, let me know. ) I looked for Raines worst years (which includes alot of abbreviated seasons) to match that total. I came up with these years: 79, 80, 82, 91, 94, 96, 98, 99, 02. The total of Raines’ worst years was 2820 PA. Ok, so we have two partial careers of exactly the same length (in plate appearances), one for the guy at his best, and the other for the guy at his worst. Coleman outscored Raines, by 25 runs. Raines outRBIed Coleman by 78. Raines also did that while using up 99 less outs.

        The batting line:
        0.275 0.337 0.355 Coleman
        0.266 0.363 0.371 Raines

        Raines, at his very worst, is better than Coleman at his very best.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I am simply implying that both Coleman and Henderson overshadowed Raines as a base stealer. At that time, in that era, that’s what all 3 were primarily known for. Coleman played about 1/2 as many games, and stole just about as many bases.

        I did not imply that Coleman had a better career. Coleman stole 100+ bases in each of his 1st 3 seasons, got tackled by the tarp at Busch, stolen 70-80 bases a couple of years and then had more injuries. Not even close to the same career, except in the area that they are primarily known for (Base Stealers).

        To even interpret ANY comment as implying Coleman had a better career than Raines would be to assume that other readers at FG are unintelligent. I wouldn’t jump to that interpretation until given more evidence.

        Coleman simply overshadowed Raines as a base stealer. Henderson did so as a lead-off man. That was relative to the discussion because it’s similar to how Kevin Brown was overshadowed by 5-7 of his peers, because they were great for longer than 7 years.

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      • Graham says:

        @CircleChange11 — yes, you absolutely did imply that Coleman had a better career. From your own first post:
        “[Brown and Raines] played alongside peers that had much better careers … Raines was a peer of Henderson and Vince Coleman.” You go on to discuss how Brown was overshadowed by Pedro, Maddux, Unit, et al — and I think it’s a fair assumption that you mean generally, rather by one statistical measure like K’s (just as it’s fair to assume you were comparing Raines to Henderson and Coleman generally, rather than based on one statistical measure like SB’s). Just sayin’.

        On a separate note: Raines’ situation is quite a bit different from that of Blyleven or Brown. Raines’ candidacy for the HOF is unusual in that he represents an extremely under-represented archetype — the lead-off hitter. In this, he has only one superior — but unfortunately, his career happened to exactly overlap with the man who exceeded him. Blyleven and Brown, on the other hand, are a much more general commodity (excellent starting pitchers). And in both cases, they were consistently outshone by more dominant and more charismatic colleagues.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Graham, I agree it was poor communication. Intent does not matter, I’m guilty on that one.

        I won’t argue against Raines HoF status. I only pointed out some things that, to me, probably played a role in him not being appreciated as much. Being viewed as the 2nd best OF on his own team probably doesn’t help either … in terms of being appreciated, not in terms of him deserving consideration or election.

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      • Alireza says:

        Except, of course, that Raines was the best OF on the Expos offensively, because of the Hawk’s OBP woes. Defensively, however, Dawson was better.

        And I really can’t believe you claimed Coleman had a better career, and Tracy Ringolsby needs his head examined for that.

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    • Kevin S. says:

      RallyWAR (B-Ref) does not use FIP. It does attempt to control for the defensive contributions of fielders, but its base unit for evaluating pitchers is runs allowed per nine innings.

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  3. delv says:

    Or maybe it’s the fact that it’s commonly held that he took steroids.

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    • Joe R says:

      I’m going to guess this is more likely.

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    • Steve says:

      exactly. Brown was in the Mitchell report. Since he’s a borderline candidate that will keep him out.

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      • Joe R says:

        I would say he’d be a solid candidate w/out, and the roids make him borderline and likely on the outside looking in.

        I don’t know, I think I’d vote for Brown to make the Hall, but I’m not exactly going to be heartbroken if/when he drops off the ballot.

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  4. Mike Green says:

    The tier of pitchers after the four mentioned (Maddux, Clemens, Johnson, Martinez) is very interesting. It includes Schilling, Smoltz, Mussina, Brown and Pettitte. The first four really ought to go in, and Pettitte might have a very good case by the time he is done.

    What is notable about the 9 durable and very good (or better) starters of the time is how different the styles of pitching were. In the early 70s, we had Seaver, Palmer, Carlton, Jenkins, Sutton and Tiant. The late 90s is quite a bit better than that. Actually, it’s probably the best top-end starting pitching talent of any generation (despite all the attention paid to the gaudy hitting statistics of the time).

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    • Steve says:

      Actually, it’s probably the best top-end starting pitching talent of any generation (despite all the attention paid to the gaudy hitting statistics of the time).

      I’m not a historian, but I can comfortably say that yes, those 4 guys have to be greatest collection of starting pitchers to ever play at the same time.

      Also, you forgot Glavine. He should really go above Pettitte.

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      • Mac says:

        I’d argue that 1900-1910 featured quite the outstanding group of SP talent as well. Two all-time greats at the height of their careers in Mordecai Brown and Christy Mathewson, Cy Young well on his way to 511 wins, and an emerging Walter Johnson make for quite the foursome. A supporting cast of HOFers in Addie Joss, Eddie Plank, and Ed Walsh and you’re looking at a fearsome era to to be a hitter.

        Yes it was the deadball era and it was a pitcher’s league, but that’s a lot of inner circle HOF talent taking the mound.

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    • Bronnt says:

      One interesting bit about Smoltz is that his injuries are going to end up working in his favor. After his second pretty devastating elbow injury, it wasn’t certain that Smoltz would return, but he came back as a closer and was dominant in that role. Then he managed to return once again as a starting pitcher and had three straight 5+ WAR seasons doing that when people didn’t believe he could, anymore.

      Give someone obstacles to overcome and he becomes a much more compelling story-which is why sportswriter are thrilled by Josh Hamilton’s success.

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      • Alireza says:

        Smoltz will get in because of the following:

        1) He was dominant in both roles

        2) He was dominant for a long time

        3) He was a member of the “3 aces” and the BBWAA will never allow them to be one short in the HOF.

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    • Doug says:

      There are so many “great” pitchers from the 90′s. It’s always made me wonder how much of their greatness, particularly the peaks of the top few players on your list, is a function of era. ERA+ ignores variance, and in a home run heavy offensive era, I don’t find it hard to believe that there would be a higher variance in ERA than in periods where offensive were less reliant on such all or nothing events. This seems like a simple idea I’d imagine somebody has taken the time to explore. Does anyone know of a decent study that tries to account for variance between players in either ERA+ or OPS+? It’d seem difficult since players have different numbers of IP and PA, but that seems like it could be accounted for by someone a little clever with statistics than I.

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    • Socrates says:

      I could not agree more. The late ’90 saw some of the most dominant starters of all time.

      As for Kevin Brown I think that it would be criminal if he didnt receive 5% on the ballot. Whether or not he should make the HOF is up for debate but whether or not he deserves to be seriously considered is not.

      I think that a pitcher that absolutely dominated during one of the most extreme hitting eras in baseball for years is someone that should be considered.

      From 1996 to 2003 (the heyday of the “Juiced Ball” era) Brown had a 2.60 ERA pitched over 210 innings in 6 of the 8 years and really only had one injury. In addition, he only had an ERA over 3.00 once (the year he came back from injury).

      Brown amazingly never won a CY award during that time. In 1996 losing out to John Smotz (who had an ERA a full run higher and a WAR almost 1.5 lower). In 1998 losing out to Glavine (who Brown bested in ERA and WAR… BY ALMOST 3 points) and Hoffman… a closer. In 2000, losing out to 4 starters with worse ERAs and again a RELIEVER (this time Robb Nen). Then in 2003 after moving to the AL, didnt even recieve any votes, losing to Barry Zito, Derek Lowe, and Jarrod Washburn!!!???). All three of who had higher ERAs (only the immortal Pedro Martinez bested him in ERA that year but amazingly only came in 2nd in voting himself).

      These are obviously all comparisons to his peers. In addition his ERA+ during this period of 158 is very high. As a matter of fact, ERA+ is one of the best tools to compare players historically because it it relative to their peers. If you say that Brown is NOT a HOFer, then lets look at just one more example. Don Drysdale. I have heard anyone tell me he was not worthy of being in the Hall of Fame, but he never once had a ERA+ a158. His career hight was 155. Here Brown had a 158 over 8 years (even with an nasty injury in the middle of it).

      Kevin Brown’s 1996 season ranks as the 20th best season EVER against one’s peers (from an ERA perspective). His career ERA+ puts him tied for 51st. Behind him on that list are Hall of Famers Lefty Gomez, Gossage, Jim Palmer, Dazzy Vance, Jaun Marichal, Bob Feller, Clarke Griffith, Eddie Plank, Babe Ruth (… forgiven), Don Drysdale, Rollie Finger, Joe McGinnity, Old Hoss Radbourne (dont ask…), Red Faber, Warren Span, Monte Ward, Ted Lyons, Vic Willis, Gaylord Perry (REALLY!!!), Dennis Eckersley, Steve Carlton, Candy Cummings, Fergie Jenkins, Phil Niekro, Eppa Rixey, Jim “right-wing” Bunning, Mickey Welch, Robin Roberts, Chief Bender, Waite Hoyt, Nolan Ryan (only a 112 ERA+ and tied with… WILSON ALVAREZ), Jack Chesbro, Red Ruffing, Jesse Haines, Pud Galvin, Burliegh Grimes, Don Sutton, Early Wynn, Herb Pennock, Catfish Hunter, and Rube Marquard.

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      • frug says:

        One nitpick, but Brown was still in LA in 2003. Brown was one of the top 3 starters in the league that year but didn’t a single Cy Young vote (teammate Eric Gagne won the award)

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  5. Erik says:

    “Brown does suffer from the same thing Blyleven did/does … and that is they played alongside peers that had much better careers.

    Raines was a peer of Henderson and Vince Coleman.”

    Vince Coleman? Better than Tim Raines? This is a joke, right?

    “Only if we assume FIP (i.e., fWAR) trumps everything else.”

    He scores well in bWAR too, which isn’t FIP-based.

    “Not seeing it”

    Those metrics are not value metrics. Hall of Fame Monitor was designed to assess the likelihood that a player will make the HoF. Congratulations, we already know that Brown is unlikely to make it. Hall of Fame Standards was created a long time ago and, again, is calculated by comparing certain selected stats that have generally meant HoF selection. The stats are not meant to assess how deserving a player is for the HoF

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    • I don’t want to put words in CircleChange’s mouth, but I read “peer” to mean “contemporary” rather than “equal.” Vince Coleman had eye-popping stolen base totals. Obviously, the Rock was a superior player to Coleman in about a thousand ways, but in their era, both Coleman and Rickey Henderson — whose basestealing totals were higher than Raines’s — made it harder for Raines to stand out.

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      • Erik says:

        I, too, took “peer” to mean “contemporary”, but he didn’t just say “peers.” He said “peers that had much better careers.”

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I, too, took “peer” to mean “contemporary”, but he didn’t just say “peers.” He said “peers that had much better careers.”

        I did mean peer to mean contemporary. I did not mean to say that Coleman had a better career, only that he was a better base stealer and that’s what both guys were primarily known for.

        Actually, raines was the best base-stealer in the NL and then Coleman took that title rather significantly and dramatically.

        What i think more people do not realize is that Tim Raines did more than just steal bases. But, I often point out to people that Rickey Henderson’s greatest contributions was his walks, not his stolen bases. I can imagine they think “Yeah, sure buddy.” *grin*

        In regards to the “careers” comment, that was taking in consider Raines situation, Blyleven’s situation, and Brown’s situation. Coleman did not have a better career than Raines. While that should/could be obvious. You never know what people mean. I should/could have been more specific.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      In regards to the HoF standards … I simply posted those because in these discussions I combine the “should he go in” with the “will he got in”, because the truth is most often somewhere in the middle.

      There are a WHOLE lot of players that are not in the HoF that “have a case” for being among the bottom 10% of HoF (and I say that with NO disrespect to ANY of the HoF’ers).

      The line is just not clear.

      The Brown discussion is valid. His stats require consideration.

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      • MA says:

        Unfortunately, your average FanGraphs commenter will eschew interpretive charity and common sense in favor of being an ass roughly 100 percent of the time.

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  6. Mike Green says:

    Ach. I knew I forgot one. Glavine. Like I said, the top-end starting pitching talent of the late 90s was probably the best ever.

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    • Tomcat says:

      People really underestimate what expanding the league by 4 teams in the space of 4 years did to roster depth, notice how dominant players like Bonds, Maddux, Clemens, Johnson, Walker, Bagwell, Thome, Ramirez or Brown became with each new expansion as lineups and rotations were fleshed out by AAAA Players.

      Truly talented players had amazing years by doing well against legitimate MLB talent and dominating players like Neifi Perez or Bryan Rekar in a league stretched too thin. Expansion IMO is at least as responsible as steroids for the eye popping numbers of the late 90s/early 2000′s

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      • frug says:

        I get where you are coming from but it is worth noting that expansion was probably offset by increased recruitment of international players in Asia and (especially) Latin America. Without the addition of the four Nineties teams the average talent level in MLB would be higher right now, but as is I’m guessing it’s not much different than it was back in 1992 or so.

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      • Tomcat says:

        I would say that it eventually evened out in recent years but in the time right after an expansion the league is littered with guys who would be career minor league players, and prospects who have been rushed to the minorns.
        While correlation is not causation the league wide HR rate jumped .6 percent in both 93 and 94
        1992 2.5%
        1993 3.1%
        1994 3.7%
        it wasn’t Jason Bates or Nelson Liriano hitting those HR’s it was Bonds, Vaughn, and Bagwell guys who would have had good HR numbers in any era began to have amazing numbers.

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      • Alireza says:

        Expansion assuredly pumped up the hitting numbers, but not the top end pitching as much.

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      • frug says:

        I guess what you’re saying makes sense Tomcat. I think someone should look at the numbers and write an article about it to see if there is a connection.

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      • Tomcat says:

        Ali why would you think that guys like Clemens, Maddux or Pedro didn’t feast on the Quinton McCrackens of the newly expanded league. The 1998 DRAys had one player(Fred McGriff) post >100 OPS+ in 200 PA. That awful lineup that had a team OPS+ of 83 were made up of players taken from other teams rosters, imagine how bad the hitters that replaced them were, at least for a few years.

        It is the truly elite that benefit from diluting the talent pool, they are just as dominant against legitimate talent, and devastate the players who don’t belong

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  7. DavidCEisen says:

    Eric Seidman’s article posted here two years ago made the exact same point in a much better fashion. What’s the point here?

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    • Steve says:

      maybe b/c there are a lot more eyeballs on Fangraphs nowadays and it makes sense to revisit something that many people would have missed?

      plus there is that whole “this is Brown’s first year on the ballot” thing…

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        Then just repost the original. Not only does this article add nothing new, but it’s less interesting.

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      • Steve says:

        Ok. Seems a pretty wierd thing to be upset about considering you are free to just not read the article, but to each their own.

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        Seems weird that you find my comment weird considering you don’t have to read it.

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      • B N says:

        Seems you find it weird that I find it weird that you find it weird that he finds it weird that your father’s former room mate finds it weird which makes this… absolutely nothing! Which is what this discussion amounts to.

        Next time, I demand you to all just state that you didn’t read this because it had the beeps, the creeps, and the sweeps and be done with it.

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    • ms says:

      One of the comments on Eric Seidman’s article posted here two years ago had the exact same level of snarkiness as yours but in a much better fashion. What’s the point here? You should have just re-posted the original snarky comment. Not only did this comment add nothing new, it’s less interesting.

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  8. Paul SF says:

    I used to think Brown wasn’t a Hall of Fame candidate until someone argued to me that if I thought Schilling deserved to go in (which I did/do), then Brown deserved it, too. Though he meant it as an argument against Schilling, I did the research and realized he was right: Brown deserves to go in, too.

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    • Steve says:

      only difference is that Schilling’s preferred P.E.D. were Chocolate Eclairs. that’s a point in his favor, actually.

      in a battle of personalities though, we all lose.

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      • Joe R says:

        If you think Schilling is a bad personality, clearly you never had the chance to revel in the chance to see someone cause Dan “CHB” Shaughnessy to rage on a regular basis.

        God, I hate Dan Shaughnessy.

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      • Steve says:

        Agreed. Schilling was an annoying blowhard (regardless of which side of the aisle you prefer, using the platform of winning the WS to tell people who to vote for pretty much automatically makes you a douche), but CHB is worse than Hitler, Pol Pot, and Stalin combined. I may have exaggerated that last bit.

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      • Graham says:

        Adolf Hitler caused Josef Stalin to rage on a regular basis. Point: Hitler?

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      • Jonathan says:

        “If you think Schilling is a bad personality, clearly you never had the chance to revel in the chance to see someone cause Dan “CHB” Shaughnessy to rage on a regular basis.”

        No one caused Shank to rage more than Jurassic Carl (Though he probably has a David Ortiz voodoo doll for killing his whole Curse schtick), that doesn’t stop Carl from being a moronic d-bag.

        CHB is worse, but Schilling is still a putz.

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      • Alireza says:

        The opposite is that Schilling appears to be a massive jerk and the sock thing was suspect.

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  9. Dick Whitman says:

    Yes, Kevin Brown should be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

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  10. Joel says:

    Some things that will keep him out in my opinion:
    1. Steroid speculation. His transformation at age 31 in 1996 after the good but not great 1993-95 years have that smell of a Roger Clemens in ’97 feel to it. I or few people would be surprised if he ever admitted to using.

    2. He was a notorious jerk to the media. Cost Jim Rice to wait over a decade, might cost Schilling some time as well.

    3. I know there were big contracts signed before Brown but that 7 year $105 million significantly upped the ante and set up the Chan Ho Park, Mike Hampton, Darren Dreifort type deals that really hurt baseball in the early 2000′s in my opinion. The private plane clause in the contract was especially representative of the greed in those days. How many players these days get the private plane?

    4. 0-3 with a 6.04 ERA in 25 World Series innings. The Marlins won that series in 1997 in spite of him, not because of any contributions he made. It goes without saying they wouldn’t have been in that position without him so save that comment.

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    • Mac says:

      I like your approach looking at all the aspects of Brown’s case outside of his career stats. Very useful for the “will he get in” debate, though far less relevant in the “should he get in” arguments. My question is on point three. Do think the greed aspect hurts him on the “will he get votes” side of things?

      The Hall of Fame ask voters to judge a player based on his integrity, sportsmanship and character. I’m fuzzy on the context behind the Brown contract, but in general this is something the player has limited control over. At what point is the man simply trying to maximize earning potential (generally a good or at least neutral character trait) and when should we cast them as greedy and selfish? Should Brown really have said “Don’t make me baseball’s first $100 million man, it’s bad for the game?” That’s a whole heap of integrity you’re asking of him.

      Point’s 1,2, and 4 are all great reason why Brown won’t be elected. Point 3 won’t factor into the voting.

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      • EdwardM says:

        “though far less relevant in the “should he get in” arguments”

        I don’t think it is wrong for an organization to want consider character along side performance when deciding whom to honor. While the character test has not been applied fairly or consistently over the years this is not, in and of it self, a reason for the BBWAA to simply discount a player’s over-all contributions to the “game” and its reputation. The voters are in the clubhouse and on the road with the players so in this case they do know more than the public about who deserves the extra honor of election to the HOF.

        How many young athletes are being steered towards soccer rather than baseball because their parents find the narcissism of professional athletes distasteful?

        Considerations of character obviously require judgement and we will not always be happy or in agreement with the results but I think it’s possible to get right and worthwhile to attempt.

        BTW, I know pro soccer has just as many twits as MLB but they are simply out-of-sight for many and thus out-of-mind.

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  11. John says:

    Brown should be in. His career numbers are great, but at his peak seasons are amazing. From 1992-2000 he put up at least 4.1 WAR/season, and he had a five-year run at 6.2 or higher. Since Seaver, only a very select set of starting pitchers had a peak like Brown’s.

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  12. Person says:

    How much do you think his years with the Yankees might be hurting his chances? Specifically everything that happened during and after the ’04 ALCS? The image of his last, worst years being spent with the most prominent team in baseball may be disproportionately on the voters’ minds.

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  13. kbertling353 says:

    Mitchell Report. That easy.

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  14. The Nicker says:

    Awesome, can this become a running series? There’s a lot of guys from this era that would be worth debating inclusion.

    Batters:
    Moises Alou
    Brian Giles
    Luis Gonzalez
    Jeff Kent
    Kenny Lofton
    Fred McGriff
    Mark McGwire
    John Olerud (debated before on this site, I believe)
    Rafael Palmeiro
    Mike Piazza
    Gary Sheffield
    Sammy Sosa
    Larry Walker

    Pitchers:
    Chuck Finley
    Mike Mussina
    Curt Schilling
    John Smoltz
    David Wells

    Granted most of these guys would be no’s but there would certainly be some interesting discussions. I know we’ve talked a lot about Edgar and Blyleven on here but more would be good.

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    • Steve says:

      How many of those guys do you think took steroids? I’d say at least 7 of the position players you listed.

      Fair or not, that’s how a lot of those guys are going to be viewed when their candidacy comes up.

      It’s a good idea though.

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      • The Nicker says:

        Oh, I agree and the cloud hangs over Brown as well. It’s actually one of the reasons I grouped these retired players from the steroid era together.

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    • frug says:

      The blog over at baseball-reference has a running series and has covered alot of the the guys you just listed. I recommend you check that out if you’re interested in this stuff.

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    • Alireza says:

      There won’t be a debate about Piazza. At all. If he doesn’t get in on the first ballot, there will be outrage. Kent also almost certainly gets in because of the position he played (badly).

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  15. twoseamer says:

    Brown was at his heyday at a time when I was watching or attending a great deal of games. Having seen him up close on a 92 degree day in short sleeves he was the most imposing physical specimen I have ever seen on the mound. Literally looked like a body builder, veins popping etc. Great stuff, one of the few guys that come to mind that had the ability to throw a great sinker and a nasty slider, two pitches that take very opposite arm action. Just my opinion, but visual evidence plus the Radomski book makes it almost certain he was a big time juicer and that, along with his surly demeanor to the press will keep him from even slight consideration.

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  16. Seels says:

    His link with steroids combined with his career path (not having a ton of success until his late 20′s / early 30′s, being on the same Texas teams that had Palmiero, Canseco, Irod, and various other guys linked with steroids) and then being one of the best pitchers in baseball) is what does it for me. Stats alone, sure put him in. A 127 era+ over 3200+ innings is great. But the added knowledge we have, his postseason performance, the PED’s, the attitude, and he’s not making it, nor should he.

    And to compare his career to Schilling’s is kind of laughable, honestly.

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  17. tropicalmug says:

    What really strikes me about this is that people have brought up the 1996 Cy Young award in reference to Brown (or at least David Appleman did), and while I think you could definitely make a case for Brown in 96, it’s not hard to see why Smoltz won.

    But for the 1998 Cy, which was a very crowded vote, Brown somehow landed at third. I can see how Glavine would win with a 20-win season before this more progressive era we live in now, but Brown flat out dominated that year. The only pitcher close was Maddux having another year in his prime. Brown got robbed in 1998, and possibly should have won in 1996.

    How different would his candidacy have looked with two Cys?

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  18. CircleChange11 says:

    I think of Kevin Brown as being the Albert Belle or Juan Gonzalez of pitchers … only I think Belle has a better case.

    I think if a player was good fro a decade, you can find (if you look hard enough) a HoF comparable or a decent reason to elect all of them. I don;t agree with many of those conclusions, but I certainly see people arguing for and against everyone from Ceasar Cedeno to Adam Dunn to jack Morris, and now Kevin Brown.

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    • Socrates says:

      My argument for Brown would be how he looks vs his contemporaries vs how MOST HOF pitchers look vs their contemporaries. ERA+ is the most available stat to look at for this and it is relevant becase it does exactly what we are trying to do. Compare pitchers to their contemoraries.

      Brown’s career ERA+ puts his 51st all-time. Of the 50 pitchers ahead of him, 16 of them are not eligible yet. Of the remaining 34, 12 are NOT in the HOF. 6 of the 12 were almost exclusively relievers (Quiesenbury, Lee Smith, Tekulve, Doug Jones, and Sparky Lyle). 2 of the remaining 6 pitched during WWII (which saw extremes from hitters and pitchers). 1 pitched in the 1870s… and for only 3 seasons (although somehow amassed 1400 innings). The other 3, despite having great names (Smokey Joe Wood, Noodles Hahn, and Jack Pfister) had 7, 6, and 5 seasons with over 100 innings (in an era when 100 innings took 12 starts). The other 24 are in the Hall of Fame.

      Of the 24 ahead of him on the list one was a reliever (Sutter) and one made half his appearances in relief (Whilhem). 4 pitched more in the 1800s than the 1900s.

      Also the vast majority of them pitched fewer inning, starts AND years.

      Brown deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

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  19. yajeflow says:

    brown was the first $100,000,000 player. there was a reason for this at that time.

    the five years he was in LA, he had a 58-32 record and a ERA of 2.83 (148+). he was top-6 in cy young voting twice, and was a two-time all-star. to put the 148 into perspective, sabathia has had only one season above 141 in his whole career thus far.

    i’m just suggesting that perhaps he has faced scrutiny above and beyond here. it was clearly not all bad. and this all came AFTER he signed that deal.

    i’m getting the feeling that brown is one of the most underrated players in recent times.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      he was top-6 in cy young voting twice,

      I think this point works in opposition to all of your other points.

      I think what it shows it that there were a handful of guys that were having great seasons during this time. Certainly having great seasons on good teams brings attention. The media can be fickle and event arrogant with their votes, but it generally doesn’t keep someone out of the top 6 … especially a pitcher that we are discussing for the HoF.

      I can agree that maybe Brown is one of the most under-rated players of that era. That’s easy to do with all of the great pitchers at that time. But, I wouldn’t equate that with being electable to the HoF. But, yes, under-rated certainly … if you can under-rate a guy that got 100M and the use of his owner’s jet for a specific number of dates per year (remember when that part of the contract was a big deal?)

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      • Socrates says:

        Brown’s CY history that I posted earlier shows that he DIDNT get the respect he deserved in the voting. Go back and look year to year at the stats. I posted this above so it might be a little out of context, but i am posting the CY part again.

        Brown amazingly never won a CY award during that time. In 1996 losing out to John Smotz (who had an ERA a full run higher and a WAR almost 1.5 lower). In 1998 losing out to Glavine (who Brown bested in ERA and WAR… BY ALMOST 3 points) and Hoffman… a closer. In 2000, losing out to 4 starters with worse ERAs and again a RELIEVER (this time Robb Nen). Then in 2003 after moving to the AL, didnt even recieve any votes, losing to Barry Zito, Derek Lowe, and Jarrod Washburn!!!???). All three of who had higher ERAs (only the immortal Pedro Martinez bested him in ERA that year but amazingly only came in 2nd in voting himself).

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Losing out to relievers is, IMO, unacceptable.

        He’s even more unappreciated than I recall … and I considered him under-appreciated.

        I may do some searching tonight and read some old articles on what the “knocks” against him were. The only thing I could guess off the top of my head is “he pitched in pitcher’s parks”, and I’d look at his home-road splits and see if there’s merit to that.

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      • Alireza says:

        I think the jet thing was for his family to come to L.A. A.J. Burnett (who, of course, can’t carry Brown’s jock) had a clause giving his wife limo service from Baltimore to Toronto.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I know it was for his family. I recall the outrage being that a guy making 100M couldn’t rent a private jet for his family, or buy 1st class tickets, etc.

        It wasn’t a big deal to me. If I can get a guy to let me use his private jet, I’ll take it.

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  20. PL says:

    Bert Blyleven: 14 (!) seasons of adjusted ERA between 115-158
    Kevin Brown: 11 seasons of adjusted ERA between 116-217

    Hmmm

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  21. Mike Savino says:

    I don’t believe its fair to use the gray ink/black ink tests to see if someone belongs in the hall…

    Those “tests” are simply the counts of being in the top 10 in MLB or leading the NL or AL in a counting stat. And most of those counting stats are stupid ones like wins or ERA. IP as well…

    To me that’s the exact point of the article, that Kevin Brown’s career measures up as a borderline hall of fame case if one looks only at traditional numbers (wins, ERA, IP, K, Cy Young award votes) but if one looks deeper, Brown is a clear cut hall of fame player. Perhaps, as the article says, one of the top 50 pitchers ever.

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  22. Alireza says:

    The biggest reason Brown is so underrated is because his Yankee years were when he was hurt and past his prime. He was absolutely elite for the Dodgers and excellent before that for the Marlins, Rangers and Padres.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      He wasn’t excellent for the Rangers, average to good, depending on the year(i.e., control) . His career flipped a switch, for whatever reason when he went to Florida.

      Thinking about the Dodgers, the name Hershieser popped into mind, and I wondered how close Orel and Brown would be in terms of “borderline HoF”.

      At baseball-ref, Brown’s top 2 comparables are both ex-Dodgers

      1.Bob Welch (945)
      2.Orel Hershiser (935)
      3.Don Drysdale (928) *
      4.Catfish Hunter (928) *
      5.Milt Pappas (926)
      6.Dazzy Vance (924) *
      7.Curt Schilling (920)
      8.Vida Blue (917)
      9.Luis Tiant (903)
      10.Freddie Fitzsimmons (899)

      3 Comparables in HoF, 7 not.

      It would be interesting, as another has pointed out, to see a study looking at the incredible years some pitchers were putting up in the 90s and early 2000s, the “Steroid Years”, slightly post expansion.

      I find it less likely that 5 of the top 15 pitchers justhappen to play at the same time, but that there might just be somethng to the idea of PEDs and expansion inflating the numbers of the highest talent. Seriously the season stretch by maddux, Pedro, etc may be unparalleled in the modern era, and it’s likely not just coincidence or randomness.

      Brown’s peak season are awesome … but so are similar peak runs of the 4-8 guys that are among his peers.

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      • Socrates says:

        My point is not only that Brown had a great 4 year, but that from a career perspective he is better than MOST Hall of Famers when compared to his peers.

        Brown was so much better than Catfish Hunter and Orel Hershiser it is a joke. Hersh had a career 112 ERA+. 275 other pitchers have been better against their peers than him, while exactly 50 have been better than Brown. Hunter, who is in the HOF (although he doesnt belong) is behind almost 500 players. Find me a stat that you think makes Hunter deserving of the Hall (that is not related to his cool name or mustache) and I will find you 10 guys who are NOT in the hall with the same or better stats. Completely absurd.

        It has occured to me that just like Brown was overlooked during his career (he deserved possibly 3 CY awards) because of his personality he is being overlooked for the HOF for the same reason.

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  23. Jesus and Bob Dylan Offspring says:

    He had only one dominant year which was when he was with the Padres. Other than that he was a #2 starter type or injured other years. He should not be in the Hall of Fame.

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    • Socrates says:

      Apparently Jesus and Bob Dylan produced an dip for a child. His year in SD was definately not his best season. 1996 was his best.

      Also, responding to Brown not being a top pitcher in Texas… Not including his injury ridden final season, he had ERAs of 3.35, 3.60, 4.40, 3.32, and 3.59. Those are all in a pitchers park during the seriod era.

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    • Alireza says:

      Have you taken a look at his numbers? He put up Cy Young-worthy seasons in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2/3 of 2001 and 2003.

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  24. baty says:

    Yeah… I’m not sure how the Mitchell Report can go unmentioned in an article like this.

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    • Socrates says:

      Have we just “convicted” everyone mentioned in the Mitchell Report? Even if you subscibe that ALL the players mentioned did streriods, dont you also have to assume that half the players that you love from the era that were NOT mentioned also did steriods?

      It seems to hold being mentioned in an utterly (and admittedly) incomplete report it against McGwire, Clemens, and Brown (et al) is really unfair, and a COMPLETELY naive state of mind on the subject.

      Of course it is totally okay that virtually every HOFer used PEDs (sarcasm). We know that they have been using amphetemines since at least the 50s. We know Mike Schmidt did.

      Damn, even Alex Sanchez used steriods! So much for adding power… I think he added ZERO!

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      and a COMPLETELY naive state of mind on the subject.

      Actually, knowing what we know about the prevalence of the players using in that time period, the competitive nature of athletes, and the contract money on the line for enhanced performance, combined with the lengthened peak of careers, it would be COMPLETELY naive to assume that an athlete on the list did NOT use PEDs.

      2 Additional comments …

      [1] I agree that, at this point, we should just assume that most did use, and only compare them to their peers. One PED cheat did better than another PED cheat.

      [2] We have high moral standards for athletes (for others in general) … much lower than the standards we set for ourselves. Put a 6y/80M contract in front of each and every one of us, and I’m willing to bet that many of us might do some things we might not normally even consider.

      One more …

      [3] You probably don’t want to know much about the personality of your favorite athlete if you view them as a hero. major disappointment will likely be your fortune.

      I find MLB’s “moral character” aspect of HoF election to be ridiculous. Alcoholic and chronic adulterer, lousy father … no problem. Don’t call it “moral character” when being an alcoholic, chronic adulterer, and absent father don’t prevent your entrance.

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  25. Socrates says:

    That is fine. I am saying his listing in the Mitchell Report should have no effect. Too many players who have admitted to, or have been linked to PEDs are in the HOF and have been for generations (literally).

    Lets get over it. They ALL used PEDs. Counting it against Brown is completely unfair.

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  26. Tom says:

    Don’t know about Brown, but Ron Santo should be in the HoF (and now will only be elected out of shame posthumously), and there ought to be an article here about that.

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  27. Griggs says:

    My opinion from best to worst of that era:

    Maddox
    Clemens
    Johnson
    Martinez
    Schilling
    Glavine
    Smoltz
    Mussina
    Brown
    Pettitte

    Smoltz and above belong in the HOF. I use mostly 10 year peak period and complete career stats and I do give a lot of credit to longevity. I use 10 year because that is a stated minimum # of years for one to be considered. 3-6 year peak numbers are good to look at as well but a player really needs to either stand out in a 10 year period or put up the big career numbers that a long career provides.

    Brown and Mussina are basically in identical positions, their 10 year numbers put them in strong consideration but they didn’t quite play long enough or stay healthy enough to put up the career totals. They are both very near misses and I won’t be upset if they make it.

    To address a few other topics in the thread, I am for Blyleven and Raines and I even think Catfish Hunter belongs. If you look at Hunters 10 year peak(67-76) he is one of only three starters(Seaver, Perry) of that era with a peak period ERA under 3 and a HWG under 10. His only shortcoming compared with his peers is longevity which makes him a marginal case but I think he should be in.

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    • Alireza says:

      If you actually look at the numbers, neither Schilling nor Mussina could carry Brown’s jock.

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      • Griggs says:

        I’ve spent more time looking at the numbers than I care to admit. Schilling pitched deeper into games, completed more games, won more games, gave up fewer hits per inning, fewer walks per inning, had more strikeouts per inning and higher winning percentages than Brown{comparing 10 year peak periods}. Brown had the better ERA which is pretty much the sum total of all the pro-Brown arguments in this thread. Brown had a great ERA.

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      • Griggs says:

        I forgot Schilling was a better hitter and fielder than Brown also.

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      • Griggs says:

        And better postseason numbers. Brown supporters would be better off picking fights(comparisons) with Mussina and Smoltz.

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  28. Howard C says:

    Kevin Brown’s career is pretty evenly split between AL and NL. He had one great year for Texas, the rest were pretty average. You will agree Curt Schilling spent most of his career in NL except for his last 4 years as Red Sox. Look at the stats with last line being Mussina’s:

    211 144 .594 3.28 3256.1 3079 2397 901 1.222
    216 146 .597 3.46 3261 2998 3116 711 1.137
    270 153 .638 3.68 3562.2 3460 2813 785 1.192

    They are actually very similar. I see three major differences: walks, era, strikeout. Schilling is the best strikeout pitcher of the three at 3116. Mike Mussina was a slightly lower at 2813. If you’re talking about 162 game average Schilling strikes out 211 while Mussia gets 178. Kevin Brown was a great ground ball pitcher and relied a lot on double play. So he can live with higher walk rate and lower strikeout. The proof was in Brown’s ERA which was a lot better than Schilling if you consider the Brown spent half his career in AL. The third difference was Curt Schilling walked a lot less thus have better WHIP.

    I think if you take out Kevin Brown, you must also deny Curt Schilling, bloody socks or not.

    On the other hand, I’d argue that Mike Mussina had much better career than Curt Schilling. Mussina pitched for AL only. His control was just as good as Schilling, average walk per 162 games was 50 compared to Schilling’s 48.

    Another player I think fell off the radar was Albert Belle. His 10-year peak was HOF caliber. Please tell me if you were the pitcher you were not afraid to see Albert Belle come to bat. I don’t remember his name linked in PED. I know he’s a big jerk and isn’t too popular among writers. But I can’t believe he didn’t even get enough to stay on the ballet in his first year of eligibility. Schilling is opposite and people are saying he should be voted in even though Kevin Brown is arguably similar, if not better.

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