Next up on our list would be James Shields, but, though he was a fine pitcher, I don’t think many of us would see him as a Hall of Fame type.
Shields spent 13 seasons in the MLB, playing for four teams. He made 405 starts and had a 145-139 record, with a 4.01 ERA (ERA+ 102). In 2616 innings, he had 746 walks and 2234 strikeouts.
He made one All-Star team, got Cy Young votes twice (finishing third once), and had MVP votes twice (once in a season, he didn’t get a Cy Young vote, which seems weird to me.
Shields threw 200+ innings ten times (including 9 in a row), a stat we won’t see very often in the future. He led the league in innings once and also complete games once (11, he never had more than 3 any other season) and shutouts twice. Beyond that, he led the league in home runs allowed twice and earned runs one.
He finished with a 30.4 bWAR. He peaked at a 5.8 bWAR and had 2 seasons of bWARs in the 5s. He pitched on the losing side in two World Series.
All-in-all, his numbers look like a poor man's Mark Buehrle, who throws a lot of innings at a league-average (or slightly better) ERA. And that has a lot of value, but he isn’t as good as Mark, and Mark is on the outside looking in at that Hall.
Chase Utley has more of a case for the Hall.
He played 16 seasons, played in 1937 games. Hit .275/.358/.465 with 259 home runs and 154 stolen bases. He also led the league in hit-by-pitch three seasons in a row (getting plunked 76 times in those three years) and runs scored once.
He received MVP votes five times (finishing as high as fifth), made six All-Star teams and won four Silver Slugger Awards. And he owns a World Series ring (he played on teams that made the WS three times).
Chase played second base, a position that is underrepresented in the Hall (mostly because if a middle infielder has a good arm, he’s a shortstop).
He didn’t win any Gold Gloves, but a case could be made that he was the best defensive second baseman in the NL for a number of years there.
On the negative side, he broke Ruben Tejada’s leg on a slide into second, trying to break up a double play. He got a two-game suspension for the play. In the ‘good old days’, that’s how you played the game, but this wasn’t really the ‘good old days’.
He finished with a 64.5 bWAR and had a run of five seasons with bWARs over 7 (peaking at 9.0). He had a ten-year streak of bWARs over 3. But in his last four seasons, he totalled just a 2.3 bWAR. His peak was terrific, but it didn’t last long enough to build the bulk numbers that the Voters like.
If his peak lasted just a little longer, if he could have gotten that extra 115 hits to get to 2000, if Gold Glove voters had given him a couple of Gold Gloves, I don’t think there would be any doubt that he’d get into the Hall.
But then our job isn’t to guess if the Writers will vote him in. Our job is to decide if we would put him into the Hall.
Utley’s stats are here.
Would you vote Chase Utley into the Baseball Hall of Fame?
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