Baseball BeatJanuary 06, 2005
Fight On
By Rich Lederer

While I was in Miami rooting my USC Trojans on to victory in the National Championship game in the Orange Bowl at Pro Player Stadium (the Orange Bowl at Pro Player Stadium -- is that like the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim?) -- Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg were elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America to the Hall of Fame.

Boggs received 91.9% of the vote (exeeding my over/under line of 88%), the third-highest total in the past ten years. Interestingly, George Brett (98.2%) and Mike Schmidt (96.5%) were the only two inductees who gained a larger percentage of the vote.

Maybe third basemen are finally getting their due -- let's not forget that Sandberg even began his major-league career at the hot corner -- but I won't go that far until Ron Santo gets his day in Cooperstown. The Veterans Committee can make that a reality on March 2 when they announce their selections, if any. Santo had the support of 46 voters two years ago, 15 short of the necessary total.

Sending Sandberg and Santo into the HOF together would not only do wonders for the travel business between Chicago and New York in late July, but it would go a long way toward rectifying two wrongs as Ryno should have been a first-ballot pick and the player without a nickname should have been selected by the BBWAA years ago.

Speaking of Cubbies, relief pitcher Bruce Sutter finished third in the voting (66.7%) and two of the other three players named on more than half the ballots were reliever Rich Gossage (55.2%) and outfielder Andre Dawson (52.3%).

Although I'm not one to think of the Goose on the Cubs (Chicago, maybe; but more on the South Side than the North), Sutter won the Cy Young and Dawson the MVP while calling Wrigley Field their home. Of the three, I'm actually the most partial to Gossage -- and not just because we share the same birthday.

Gossage threw 1809 innings whereas Sutter tossed 1042. That, my friends, is a difference of 767 innings. In other words, Gossage got 74% more batters out during his career than Sutter. C'mon now, guys, if you're going to consider enshrining pitchers with 1000 innings, then what about Dan Quisenberry?

                    IP       SV      ERA      ERA+
Sutter            1042      300     2.83      136
Quisenberry       1043      244     2.76      146

Quiz had five seasons in which he pitched 128 or more innings, which is about 50 more than the average of today's top closers. He finished in the top three in the Cy Young voting for four consecutive years (1982-1985). I'm not suggesting that Quisenberry was Sutter's equal at their respective peaks, but I find it hard to believe that the latter is getting such respect when his A.L. counterpart got less than 5% of the vote his first and only year on the ballot.

When reviewing the qualifications of relief pitchers, let's not forget the number of innings pitched, OK? Just as volume x profit margin = total profits, it's number of innings x runs not allowed (vs. the league average) = runs saved. If we don't begin to make a distinction in the number of innings pitched (as well as the quality), they're going to have to order a bus to transport the potential onslaught of relievers to upstate New York in the future.