Last year, the moment right-hander Tim Hudson recorded his 200th victory there was speculation about whether or not he had the qualifications for the Hall of Fame, as if 200 wins is the new 300.
It is not. The era of the 300-game winner may sadly be on the way out for good the way baseball is played now, but 200 is hardly a satisfactory replacement. As of Monday, the San Francisco Giants right-hander has 213 wins and presumably is still counting, although fairly slowly of late.
Hudson’s record is 213-120, an excellent winning percentage of .640. But he is 39 and he is unlikely to win very many more games in his career. Hudson finished 8-7 in 2013 for the Atlanta Braves and he is moving along at 8-9 this season. His lifetime earned run average is 3.42.
During his 16-year career Hudson has won 20 games in a season once, in 2000, when he was pitching for the Oakland A’s, the team he broke in with the year before. As a rookie, Hudson finished 11-2, and the four-time All-Star has never had a losing record during a season, even when injured. Usually, he has been far above .500 with such marks as 18-9, 16-7, and 17-9. Being one game under .500 at this point in a season is unusual for Hudson and may signal he is nearing the end.
Interestingly, Hudson has posted just three seasons with sub-3.00 earned run averages, recording a near-career worst 4.14 when he won 20, but last year, when he was just one game above .500 he had a very solid 3.03. It’s tough to read much into those disparities.
Hudson, who was born in Columbus, Georgia (same as recent Hall inductee Frank Thomas) and spent part of his college years at Auburn University (also the same as Thomas), has not built his reputation with Ks. Nearing 3,000 innings, Hudson is just shy of 2,000 strikeouts. One key reason he has been a winner has been his control. In precisely 2,968 innings, he has issued just 873 walks.
Pitching for teams that six times reached the playoffs (though never the World Series), Hudson’s post-season record is 1-3. Nothing really notable there.
So in comparison to all-times greats who populate the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, how should Hudson be rated? He is at the stage of his career – fading twilight – where there is not much he can do to help his case. His team can win a World Series with him as a major contributor, he can stay above .500 for the 16th time, and he can pitch a no-hitter or a perfect game. Other than that the record is pretty much written on Hudson.
It is not easy to make the argument that Tim Hudson belongs in a Hall of Fame that has not yet accepted Jim Kaat (283 wins, 25 seasons), Tommy John (288 wins, 26 seasons) or Jack Morris (254 wins, 18 seasons). Hudson is not more deserving than they are and it is unlikely he will be elected.