Braves' 300-starts club tops for Hall of Famers
Smoltz is among seven of the eight to reach Cooperstown
ATLANTA -- As Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame over the past year, there has once again been reason to opine that the Braves rotations this trio inhabited during the 1990s were some of the greatest the game has ever seen.
While this is certainly a debatable assertion, the Braves can certifiably claim to have provided more starts to Hall of Fame starting pitchers than any other Major League organization.
Seven of the eight pitchers who have made at least 300 starts for the Braves have been elected to the Hall of Fame. This group includes Warren Spahn, Phil Niekro, Kid Nichols, Vic Willis, Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz, who was elected earlier this week. Lew Burdette stands as the only pitcher who has not gained election after making at least 300 starts for the Braves.
The significance of this distinction proves to be impressive when it is realized that the Giants and Dodgers are the only other clubs that have seen at least four Hall of Famers make this many starts while wearing their respective uniforms.
Five of the seven pitchers who have made at least 300 starts for the Giants are enshrined in Cooperstown. The Dodgers have seen four different Hall of Famers make this many starts for them. The Yankees (Whitey Ford, Red Ruffing and Lefty Gomez), White Sox (Ted Lyons, Red Faber and Ed Walsh) and Indians (Bob Feller, Bob Lemon and Stan Coveleski) are the only other clubs that have had three pitchers fit in this unique category.
Spahn, Niekro, Nichols, Willis, Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz combined to make 3,381 starts while playing for the Braves.
Christy Mathewson, Juan Marichal, Carl Hubbell, Mickey Welch and Amos Rusie are the five Hall of Famers that made at least 300 starts for the Giants. They combined to make 2,244 starts while wearing a Giants uniform.
Don Sutton, Don Drysdale, Dazzy Vance and Sandy Koufax stand as the four pitchers who gained baseball's greatest honor after making at least 300 starts for the Dodgers. Together, they combined to make 1,640 starts while sporting the Dodger Blue.
The Braves, Giants, Dodgers, Yankees, White Sox, Indians, Tigers and Twins stand as the only clubs who have provided at least 300 starts to at least five different pitchers. The Tigers have had seven different pitchers reach this mark, but Hal Newhouser is the only one who is immortalized in Cooperstown. Justin Verlander, who has made 298 starts for Detroit, might one day join Newhouser if he rights himself and finishes his career in impressive fashion.
The Indians would have had one Hall of Famer meet the 300-starts criteria had Early Wynn made just four more starts for them.
With 300 starts standing as an arbitrary number, it should be pointed out that Nolan Ryan did not fit into the 300 starts/HOF category for the Angels or the Astros. Ryan made 282 starts for Houston and 288 starts while pitching for the Angels.
Neither of the two pitchers -- Tim Wakefield and Roger Clemens -- who have made at least 300 starts for the Red Sox have been elected to the Hall of Fame. But it should be noted that Cy Young made 298 starts for this club.
On the flip side, the A's have had just two pitchers make at least 300 starts for them and both -- Catfish Hunter and Eddie Plank -- are in the Hall of Fame.
One of this week's Cooperstown electees, Randy Johnson used Plank's name as his alias when he checked into hotels throughout his legendary career. Like Ryan, Johnson did not fit into the 300 starts/HOF category with any of his clubs. The Big Unit made 266 starts for the Mariners and 232 for the D-backs, who stand as one of six organizations that have not provided at least 300 starts to a single pitcher.