Sabermetrics: Kaat belongs in the Hall of Fame over Morris

By PATRICK GORDON | Managing Editor
@Philabaseball

Jim Kaat was on the Hall of Fame ballot for 15 years but never came close to gaining election. He was passed over last year when the Veterans Committee elected Ron Santo from the Golden Era Ballot.

Kaat was a solid pitcher that won 283 games over 25 seasons (1959-1983), including four with the Phillies. He won at least 20 games three times and was a three-time All-Star. However, he finished among the top ten in Earned Run Average just three times and finished among the top ten in hits allowed nine times.

So, are his numbers deserving of Hall of Fame consideration?

His contemporaries (according to similarity scores from Baseball Reference) are Robin Roberts, Fergie Jenkins, Bert Blyleven, and Tommy John.

To evaluate Kaat against similar pitchers I looked at Career Pitching Runs, which according to noted author and sabermetician Jim Albert, is better in measuring efficiency and durability than traditional Earned Run Average.

Pitching Runs = (IP) X (Lge. ERA/9) - (ER).

To compute Lge. ERA I took Career ERA+ and multiplied it by Career ERA. I then divided the result by 100 and compared Kaat to the four pitchers named above.


According to the numbers, Kaat does not stack up to Jenkins, Roberts, or Blyleven, all Hall of Famers. John also appears to be better than Kaat, but he too is on the outside looking in when it comes to Cooperstown.

To confirm Kaat's standing, I delved deeper and computed Career Pitching Runs for the nine most recent pitchers elected to the Hall of Fame (Blyleven made ten).

Again, Kaat's numbers simply don't stack up. Bruce Sutter's number (117) is less than Kaat's (137), but that's to be expected as he was a reliever/closer.

To conclude my study, I compared Kaat's numbers to a few other pitchers that are in the conversation regarding the Hall of Fame.


So, what does all of this mean?

For starters, it proves Kaat was a better pitcher statistically than Jack Morris. Kaat had a better ERA+ (108 vs. 105) and a better Career Pitching Runs number (138 vs. 83). Looking at JAWS, Kaat ranks ahead of Morris but behind both Luis Tiant and Tommy John.


Logically, if Morris gains entry so should Kaat, Tiant, and John. 

- Patrick Gordon in managing editor of the Philadelphia Baseball Review. Follow him on Twitter @Philabaseball or e-mail him at pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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