Tommy John • LHP • Candidate

83rd in JAWS (62.0 career/34.7 peak/48.4 JAWS)

Teams: Indians 1963 • White Sox 1964-71 • Dodgers 1972-74, ’76-78 • Yankees 1979-82, ’86-89 • Angels 1982-85 • A’s 1985
Stats: 288-231 • 3.34  ERA • 111 ERA+ • 4,710.1 IP • 2,245 SO
Rankings: 6x top 5 ERA • 6x top 10 W • 4x All-Star • 4x top 10 WAR • 4x top 10 IP
All-time: 8th GS • 20th IP • 26th SHO
Voting: BBWAA 2009 (15th, 31.7%)

John pitched more seasons in the majors than anyone except Nolan Ryan. That’s thanks to his role as the recipient of the most famous sports medicine procedure of all time, the elbow ligament replacement surgery performed by Dr. Frank Jobe in 1974 that is now named for John. His biggest years came after the surgery; from 1977-81, he placed in the top five in Cy Young voting three times, won 20 or more games three times and pitched in three World Series for the Dodgers and Yankees, though all on the losing side. Despite that modest peak, he’s more a compiler than a star. A groundballer who didn’t miss many bats (just 4.3 K/9), he had just four seasons of 5.0 WAR, and never led his league in any triple crown category. While he came close to 300 wins, he surpasses only Don Sutton’s peak WAR and Early Wynn’s career WAR among the 24 members of the 300 win club. Given that he topped out at 31.7% of the vote, you’d have to apply an extremely large bonus for the surgery to make the case that he merits enshrinement. Considered on the 2011 and 2014 Expansion Era Committee ballots, he’s up again in 2018, but the Hall’s decision to honor him in tandem with Dr. Jobe in 2013 may be as close as he ever gets.

2013 BBWAA Ballot @ SI.com

Part of my ongoing effort to catalog my Hall of Fame-related coverage at SI.com for this site.

Roundups

A Ballot Weighty in Talent and Controversy
JAWS intro

My Virtual 2013 Ballot
An Alternative View
Results: a shutout

Candidates

One-and-Done Pitchers : Roberto Hernandez, Jose Mesa, Aaron Sele, Mike Stanton, Woody Williams
One-and-Done Hitters Part 1: Sandy Alomar Jr., Jeff Cirillo, Royce Clayton, Jeff Conine, Todd Walker
One-and-Done Hitters Part 2: Julio Franco, Shawn Green, Ryan Klesko, Rondell White, Reggie Sanders
Jeff Bagwell
Craig Biggio
Barry Bonds
Roger Clemens
Steve Finley
Kenny Lofton
Edgar Martinez
Don Mattingly
Fred McGriff
Mark McGwire
Jack Morris
Dale Murphy
Rafael Palmeiro
Mike Piazza
Tim Raines
Curt Schilling
Lee Smith
Sammy Sosa
Alan Trammell
Larry Walker
David Wells
Bernie Williams

2014 BBWAA Ballot @ SI.com

Part of my ongoing effort to catalog my Hall of Fame-related coverage at SI.com for this site.

Roundups

Master page

Burning Questions
JAWS intro
Why There’s a Backlog (and How to Fix It)
My Virtual 2014 Ballot
Best Classes Ever
Most Overlooked at Every Position
All One-and-Done Team
All What-Took-Them-So-Long Team
Election Day Guide
Results: Glavine, Maddux, Thomas elected
Next 5 Years
An Early Look at 2015

Candidates

One-and-Done Stray Hitters: Sean Casey, Paul Lo Duca, Richie Sexson, J.T. Snow
One-and-Done More Stray Hitters: Moises Alou, Ray Durham, Jacque Jones
One-and-Done Stray Relievers: Armando Benitez, Erig Gagne, Todd Jones, Mike Timlin
Jeff Bagwell
Craig Biggio
Barry Bonds
Roger Clemens
Tom Glavine
Luis Gonzalez
Jeff Kent
Greg Maddux
Edgar Martinez
Don Mattingly
Fred McGriff
Mark McGwire
Jack Morris
Mike Mussina
Hideo Nomo
Rafael Palmeiro
Mike Piazza
Tim Raines
Kenny Rogers
Curt Schilling
Lee Smith
Sammy Sosa
Frank Thomas
Alan Trammell
Larry Walker

2015 BBWAA Ballot @ SI.com

Part of my ongoing effort to catalog my Hall of Fame-related coverage at SI.com for this site.

Roundups

Master page

Burning Questions
JAWS intro
Below Standard Players
My Virtual 2015 Ballot
Election Day Guide
Results: Biggio, Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz elected
Candidate-by-Candidate
Next 5 Years

Candidates

One-and-Done Hitters: Rich Aurilia, Aaron Boone, Tony Clark, Jermaine Dye, Darin Erstad, Cliff Floyd
One-and-Done Pitchers: Jason Schmidt, Tom Gordon, Eddie Guardado, Troy Percival
Jeff Bagwell
Craig Biggio
Barry Bonds
Roger Clemens
Carlos Delgado
Nomar Garciaparra
Brian Giles
Randy Johnson
Jeff Kent
Edgar Martinez
Pedro Martinez
Don Mattingly
Fred McGriff
Mark McGwire
Mike Mussina
Mike Piazza
Tim Raines
Curt Schilling
Gary Sheffield
Lee Smith
John Smoltz
Sammy Sosa
Alan Trammell
Larry Walker

2016 BBWAA Ballot @ SI.com

Part of my ongoing effort to catalog my Hall of Fame-related coverage at SI.com for this site.

Roundups

Master page

First look
JAWS intro
My Virtual 2016 Ballot
Biggest Jumps in Voting History
Election Day Guide
Results: Griffey, Piazza elected
Player-by-Player
Next 5 Years

Candidates

One-and-Done Part 1: Brad Ausmus, Mike Sweeney, Luis Castillo, Mark Grudzielanek, David Eckstein
One-and-Done Part 2: Troy Glaus, Mike Lowell, Garret Anderson, Randy Winn, Mike Hampton
Jeff Bagwell
Barry Bonds
Roger Clemens
Jim Edmonds
Nomar Garciaparra
Ken Griffey Jr.
Trevor Hoffman
Jason Kendall
Jeff Kent
Edgar Martinez
Fred McGriff
Mark McGwire
Mike Mussina
Mike Piazza
Tim Raines
Curt Schilling
Gary Sheffield
Lee Smith
Sammy Sosa
Alan Trammell
Billy Wagner
Larry Walker

2017 BBWAA Ballot @ SI.com

Part of my ongoing effort to catalog my Hall of Fame-related coverage at SI.com for this site.

Master link

Roundups

First look
My Virtual 2017 Ballot
Projecting 2017 results
One-and-Dones in History
Results: Bagwell, Raines, Rodriguez elected
Player-by-Player
Next 5 Years
All-Overlooked Team (revised from 2014)

Candidates

One-and-Dones Part 1: Tim Wakefield, Arthur Rhodes, Jason Varitek, Derrek Lee and Freddy Sanchez
One-and-Dones Part 2: Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Renteria, Carlos Guillen, Melvin Mora and Casey Blake
One-and-Dones Part 3: Pat Burrell, Mike Cameron, J.D. Drew, Magglio Ordoñez and Matt Stairs
Jeff Bagwell
Barry Bonds
Roger Clemens
Vlad Guerrero
Trevor Hoffman
Jeff Kent
Edgar Martinez
Fred McGriff
Mike Mussina
Jorge Posada
Tim Raines (see also post-election profile)
Manny Ramirez
Ivan Rodriguez
Curt Schilling
Gary Sheffield
Lee Smith
Sammy Sosa
Billy Wagner
Larry Walker

2013 Pre-Integration Committee Ballot @ SI.com

Part of my ongoing effort to catalog my Hall of Fame-related coverage at SI.com for this site.

The 10 finalists up for discussion on the Pre-Integration Era ballot aren’t household names, but there are worthy candidates. Owners Sam Breadon (Cardinals) and Jacob Ruppert (Yankees), executive and equipment pioneer Al Reach and umpire Hank O’Day all have compelling cases. None of those spark the imagination or lend themselves to quantification the way the six former players — Bill Dahlen, Wes Ferrell, Marty Marion, Tony Mullane, Bucky Walters and Deacon White — do, however. Some of those six played during a time when the game’s rules were still evolving, making their raw statistics harder to parse, but advanced metrics can help provide context.

Part 1: Bill Dahlen, Marty Marion, Deacon White

Part 2: Wes Ferrell, Tony Mullane, Bucky Walters

Results: O’Day, Ruppert, White elected

2014 Expansion Era Committee Ballot @ SI.com

Part of my ongoing effort to catalog my Hall of Fame-related coverage at SI.com for this site.

Part 1: Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Dave Parker, Dan Quisenberry, Ted Simmons, Joe Torre

Marvin Miller snubbed (managers Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre elected)

This was the rare year that I did not get to profile every candidate before the election. However, I did cover the trio of managers briefly for SI’s Hall of Fame Commemorative Issue, which was designed to capitalize primarily on the election of the Braves’ Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Cox. Since it never made it online, here’s the section on the managers:

Before moving to managing, Torre accumulated a near-Hall of Fame resume as a player, earning All-Star honors nine times with the Braves (1960-1968), Cardinals (1969-1974) and Mets (1975-1977). He won the NL batting title and MVP honors in 1971, and finished his career with a .297/.365/.452 line (129 OPS+), 2,342 hits and 252 homers. Retiring in June 1977, shortly after being anointed player-manager of the Mets, he didn’t find much success in parts of five seasons at the helm in Flushing, but led the Braves to an NL West flag in 1982, and to an 88-win near-miss the following year before the axe fell at the end of 1984. He took to the broadcast booth from 1985-1990 before returning to the dugout with the Cardinals, but the best he could do in parts of six seasons at the helm in St. Louis was a second-place finish.

Torre was a career 109 games below .500 when he was hired to manage the Yankees in November 1995; the New York Daily News hailed him as “Clueless Joe” when he took the job with a team that had only just returned to the postseason for the first time in 14 years. Overseeing a homegrown nucleus that had begun developing during George Steinbrenner’s suspension — Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada — and unafraid to stand up to a boss who had changed managers 17 times since their last title, he guided the Yankees to the playoffs in each of his 12 seasons in the Bronx via 10 AL East flags and two Wild Card appearances. In his first year, he led the team to their first championship since 1978 with a World Series victory over Cox’s Braves. The Yankees went on to win four straight pennants from 1998-2001, winning the first three of those World Series and coming three outs away from the fourth; they added another pennant in 2003. They won 100 games four times, topped by a record 114 wins in 19998. After Torre fell out of favor in the Broxn following the 2007 season, he took over the Dodgers, guiding them to to NL West flags and Championship Series appearances before finally retiring in 2010 with a 2326-1997 record and a .538 winning percentage. His win total ranks fifth all-time, while his 15 postseason appearances are second (thanks to the advent of the current format), his four titles tied for fourth, and his six pennants tied for sixth.

A fiery dugout leader who eventually set the major league record with 159 managerial ejections, Cox spent 25 years as the manager of the Braves plus another four (1982-1985) piloting the Blue Jays, who won 99 games and the AL East flag in his final season there. He led the Braves to 14 NL East flags and one Wild Card appearance, giving him a record 16 postseason appearances in all. The Braves notched at least 100 wins on his watch six times, and took pennants in 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996 and 1999, but despite their stellar core of starting pitching, they won just one Fall Classic. They did bring home plenty of hardware, with Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz combining for five Cy Youngs under Cox, Terry Pendleton and Chipper Jones both winning MVPs, and David Justice and Rafael Furcal claiming Rookie of the Year honors. Cox retired with a 2504-2001 record — the fourth-highest win total of all time — and a .556 winning percentage.

La Russa was just 34 years old when he took over as the manager of the White Sox in mid-1979, one year after he earned a law degree from Florida Sate University. During his 33 years at the helm of the White Sox (1979-1986), A’s (1986-1995) and Cardinals (1996-2011), he changed the game via his innovative bullpen management. Once his starter tired, he used a parade of left- and right-handed specialists, strikeout artists and groundball machines, to create favorable matchups. While he didn’t invent the closer role, he refined it via his attempt to turn the game over to relief ace Dennis Eckersley with a clean slate at the start of the ninth inning. He won an AL West title with the White Sox in 1983, and led the A’s to three straight pennants from 1988-1990 — winning it all in 1989 — plus an AL West flag in 1992. In St. Louis, he led the Cardinals to seven NL Central titles, two Wild Card appearances, three pennants and two World Series wins. The last of those came in 2011 over the Rangers; La Russa promptly retired, thus becoming the first manager ever to go out on top. In all he compiled a record of 2728-2365 and a .536 winning percentage. Only Connie Mack managed (and lost) more games, only Mack and John McGraw won more, and only Cox and Torre took more teams to the postseason.

 

2015 Golden Era Committee Ballot @ SI.com

Part of my ongoing effort to catalog my Hall of Fame-related coverage at SI.com for this site.

The Golden Era is one of three periods defined by the Hall when it split the Veterans Committee into three subcommittees in 2010. It covers those candidates whose careers had their greatest impact between 1947 and 1972; the other periods are the Pre-Integration Era (up to 1946) and the Expansion Era (1973 onward). Candidates from each era are considered on a triennial cycle; the last Golden Era vote, conducted in December 2011, saw Ron Santo finally elected, albeit a year after he had passed away.

Part 1: Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Gil Hodges, Bob Howsam, Jim Kaat

Part 2: Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, Luis Tiant, Maury Wills

Results (another shutout)

Minnie Minoso obit (March 2015)

2017 Today’s Game Era Committee Ballot @ SI.com

Part of my ongoing effort to catalog my Hall of Fame-related coverage at SI.com for this site.

Hall of Fame reorganizes era-based committees (July 2016)

This past July (during the Hall of Fame’s Induction Weekend festivities), the institution announced what amounts to a redistricting. Instead of candidates being divided into three chronological eras—the Pre-Integration Era (1871–1946), Golden Era (’47–72), and Expansion Era (’73 onward)—to be voted upon in a triennial cycle, they’ve now been separated into four eras to be voted upon with differing frequencies within a ten-year cycle, because the earlier eras have been more thoroughly picked over by past committees, often to the Hall’s detriment. Besides the Today’s Game Era (for candidates whose greatest contribution came from 1988 onward), the other three eras are Early Baseball (1871–1949), Golden Days (’50–69) and Modern Baseball (’70–87).

..As I noted in July, while the focus on more recent eras is laudable, the years chosen as dividing lines create some questions with regards to classifying candidates, even when the stated goal is to do so by the era in which each player had the greatest impact. That’s less of an issue with this slate than the Modern Baseball one, though if you’re wondering why Jack Morris—whose 1991 World Series Game 7 shutout stands as his signature moment—isn’t on this ballot, it’s because the bulk of his career (’77–95) and major accomplishments came prior to ’88. From among the 10 candidates on the Today’s Game slate…

Part 1: Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser

Part 2: Mark McGwire

Part 3: Davey Johnson, Lou Piniella (as managers)

Part 4: Bud Selig

Part 5: John Schuerholz, George Steinbrenner

Results: Schuerholz, Selig elected