Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Top King Felix Hall of Fame Pitchers

King Felix has elected 30 players to the Hall of Fame in 35 seasons, and to celebrate I've ranked the best pitchers and position players in the HOF. Please feel free to argue and comment in the world chat; the more banter the merrier. The 11 pitchers are on deck, but first here are five pitchers who deserve strong consideration for the HOF next year:  Alex Torres, Sam Wilson, Pat Combs, Bruce Mullens, Stump Matheson. Consider there numbers while we look at our 11 HOF pitchers in reverse order, counting down to our No. 1 pitcher all time.

No. 11: Derrek Coleridge - Wichita Rocks -  Coleridge, arguably the greatest closer in league history, made the Hall of Fame for one main reason; saves. His 550 are the most all time and he is one of five pitchers to cross the 450 threshold. He is also one of just three southpaws in the Hall. Seven all star appearances, five Fireman of the Year and World Series ring in season 13 add to his cause. On the flip side Coleridge only played 15 seasons (second least of HOF pitchers) and threw just 744 innings in his career. After his election in season 34, it may be a while before another reliever cracks the HOF.

No. 10 Gio Hernandez - Iowa City Rounders -   A member of the greatest rotation in King Felix history (Iowa City 15-21), Hernandez benefited playing with Elrod Coke, Mullens and No. 6 on our list. The southpaw left for Colorado and watched his ERA rise and old teammates win back-to-back titles. Gio has the fewest all star appearances of our HOF pitchers, and is the only one without a ring. He still had a great career, finishing third all time in strikeouts while topping 200 in a season seven times, and threw at least 220 innings in nine of his 18 seasons. Along with Coleridge, Hernandez will be the measuring stick for future pitching HOF candidates.

No. 9 Sal MacDougal - Fargo Flockers -   MacDougal was the leader on the mound for one of the earliest King Felix dynasties, the Fargo Flockers. For 13 of 15 seasons he pitched least 200 innings, struck out 200 batters six times, and hit the 20 win mark on three occasions. Though he finally won a ring in the second half of his career (season 16) it came at the cost of a skyrocketing ERA. Only once between seasons 12 and 19 was it under 4.00, and has the highest career ERA among all Hall of Fame pitchers (4.19). However his first nine seasons was one of the greatest stretches ever and he retired as the all time wins leader, and is now second on the list (286).

No. 8 Dan ShawWichita Rocks - Along with his longtime Rocks teammate Coleridge, Shaw was key in the only original remaining franchise's sole title in season 13. For a decade (seasons 10-19), he finished with no less than 200 innings, 14 wins and 3.69 ERA in all but one injury-plagued season. His eight all star teams are fourth most among pitchers, and in his title season he was named Cy Young (21-5, 229 SO, 2.79 ERA). Shaw can't go much higher in these rankings; six of the seven pitchers ahead of him have at least three Cy Youngs to his one, and all six have at least one ring. Instead he'll have to settle for the eighth best pitcher of all time, as well as the face of one of King Felix's most iconic franchises.

No. 7 Karl Hurst - Trenton Thunder -  This may be to low of a ranking for the man with the lowest career ERA among King Felix HOF pitchers (2.97). Hurst's season 23 stat line, (23-3, 1.89, 205 IP) is one of the best in league history, and one of his three Cy Young years. During the Thunder's 12-year playoff streak, Hurst had a 206-80 record, made six all star teams, and led the team to back-to-back titles in seasons 25 and 26. Unfortunately for 50below, Hurst didn't have an especially long career, and is the only HOF pitcher with less than 500 games pitched, 2,800 innings, and 2,000 Ks. Despite that, Hurst still is in the argument for best career of any pitcher after the steroid era (season 1-12).

No. 6 Clinton PufferIowa City Rounders -  Another member of the GOAT rotation, Puffer is King Felix's equivalent to Nolan Ryan in terms of longevity and dominance, with back-to-back titles in 22 and 23 thrown in. He is the King Felix career leader in starts (721), innings (4,574), pitches (70,487), quality starts (453), strikeouts (3,780) and wins (314) by a wide margin. In all but his rookie and final seasons he had an ERA under 4.00, played on 14 playoff teams, and made all star teams in seasons 16 and 33, the largest gap in league history. Though Puffer was consistently great, he never won a Cy Young and never had dominate stretches like the pitchers ranked ahead of him on this list. Over 22 seasons Puffer put up numbers that may never be matched in a career, but all of the top five had stronger peaks than Puff.

No. 5 Albie Villano - Colorado Ballvalanche -  Now our list gets difficult, as Villano, one of seven 10-time all stars among all players in league history, sits at fifth. Despite playing four seasons in Colorado, Villano never had a ERA higher than 4.00, hit 20 wins twice, and led the Ballvalance to a title in season 7. Eight times in his career he topped 200 strikeouts and his 27-2 and 22-4 records in season 7 and 10 are among the best individual years for a pitcher in league history. In the twilight of his career he reinvented himself as a lights-out closer, picking up 123 saves in three seasons for Chicago along with the Fireman of the Year in seasons 15 and 16. However Villano only topped 220 innings once in a season, and had a sub 3.00 ERA three times, both least among our top five.

No. 4 Dan Stuart - Monterrey Cerveceros -  Stuart's 281 career wins are third all time, and he was a major part of the Monterrey Cerveceros titles in seasons 8 and 10. After hitting the free agent market, he won his second and third Cy Youngs with the Scottsdale Raiders, returning to the World Series in season 13. He won 20 games four times, threw at least 220 innings in 10 seasons, and is the only HOF pitcher with multiple gold gloves. Along with Hurst and our top three pitchers, Stuart is one of five HOFers with six sub 3.00 ERA season, and went 21-7 with a 2.36 in season 13. Stuart is one of just four steroid era pitchers in the HOF, one of five with multiple rings, but his 3.53 career ERA is third highest and never had a 200-strikeout season.

No. 3 Reese Hemphill - Jackson Colonels -  The Mustache cemented his legacy as one of the greatest pitchers in league history, taking home three Cy Young awards and making all star teams 11 seasons apart. Ml4ku traded Hemphill from Jackson to Burlington, where he picked up his first ring in season 18. The next season Jackson signed Hemphill in free agency, riding him to a season 20 title. Mr. Stache has more 200 K seasons (9) and 220-inning seasons (12) than any other HOF pitcher, and ranks in the top five all time in compete games, innings, quality starts and strikeouts. Over an eight-year stretch The Mustache never had less than a 3.38 ERA, and went 24-3 with a 2.60 while winning the Cy Young in season 19. While is numbers are impressive, he doesn't quite crack the top two, where our most accomplished and decorated pitchers in league history sit.

No. 2 Jack Redmond - Syracuse Pyschos -  Only six players have three career Cy Young awards in King Felix history. Redmond is the only with four and made 10 all star teams, tied for most by a pitcher with Villano. Redmond topped 20 wins five times, and in eight different seasons had an ERA under 3.00, posting 2.22, 2.26, and 2.13 in three of the four last seasons of the steroid era, all for Cy Youngs. In his 14 years as Syracuse's ace the Pyschos qualified for the postseason 11 times, playing in three World Series and winning two. Only four pitchers have more career victories than Redmond (253), and he is also one of four HOF pitchers with a career winning percentage over .700 along with Hurst, Villano and our No. 1. So why No. 2 on this list? He didn't have the rings. Two are impressive, but they don't begin to come close the top HOF pitcher in King Felix history.

No. 1 Marvin Punto - New York Mets  -  It's hard to win a handful of rings. Punto was the ace on the first King Felix dynasty that won the World Series in seasons 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6, and never had an ERA under 3.32 in his first nine years. Punto was the first ever NL Cy Young winner and picked up two more in seasons 6 and 8, topping 20 wins six times, most among HOF pitchers. Ironically he might not have been the best pitcher on the Mets.  Along with seasons 2-6 Cy Young winner Johnny Vernon, the duo have the two highest winning percentages among retired players in league history. When Punto left in free agency in season 7 his ERA continued to stay under 3.00 while Vernon's rose above 4.00, and Punto finished with more career wins (202 to 163) despite retiring two years sooner. Vernon for some reason is not eligible for a HOF nomination, and Punto only played 12 seasons, but that shouldn't make their accomplishments any less meaningful. Punto deserves the top spot.

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