Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hall of Fame Spotlight - Hal Newhouser

Plaque photo borrowed from http://www.baseballhall.org/


Hal Newhouser (b. 1921 - d. 1998) pitched in the majors from 1939 to 1955 for the Tigers and Indians (yes, I chose a Hall of Fame teammate of Virgil Trucks for this post. On purpose haha). He was the ace pitcher on the Tigers for most of his career when the Tigers were an awful team. He had a career record of 207-150, 1,796 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.06. He also had 212 complete games and 33 shutouts.

What makes him a Hall of Famer?

  • Member of the 1945 World Series Champion Detroit Tigers
  • 2x AL MVP (1944 and 1945)
  • 6x All Star (1942 - 1944, 1946 - 1948)
  • Led the AL in wins 4 times (1944, 1945, 1946 and 1948)
  • Led the league in ERA twice (1945 and 1946)
  • Led the league in strikeouts twice (1944 and 1945)
  • Finished second in MVP voting in 1946, almost becoming a back to back to back MVP (as a PITCHER!)
  • Only pitcher to win back to back MVP awards
  • Won pitching triple crown in 1945

Should he be a Hall of Famer?

  • All of career numbers rank 'middle of the pack' (Strikeouts, Wins, ERA, Complete Games, Shutouts, etc.)
  • Three seasons where he lost more than he won from 1941 to 1943
  • Led the AL in losses with 17 in 1947 (he would also win 17 games that year)
  • Highest Hall of Fame ballot percentage was 42.8%.
  • Appeared on 12 Hall of Fame ballots, averaging 21.22% of the vote

The Verdict?

The season that Newhouser went 17-17, he had a 2.87 ERA. In 1942 when he went 8-14, his ERA was 2.45. It appears to me that he was a pretty dominant pitcher on several bad teams. Being the only pitcher to win back to back MVP awards carries a lot of weight. He was an ace of a formidable Tigers rotation dubbed TNT (Trout, Newhouser, Trucks) in the 1940s. In my humble opinion, it took too long to get Newhouser into the Hall in 1992. YES, Hal Newhouser deserves his spot in the Hall of Fame. It is somewhat of a shame that he was only able to enjoy being a member of the Hall for only 6 years, having died in 1998.

Did you know that while Newhouser was a scout for the Astros, he was credited with discovering Derek Jeter? The Astros eventually passed Jeter over for Phil Nevin. Cue the epic fail music.

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