When Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine are inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, it will mark the first time the star pitchers of the 1990s will be represented with plaques at Cooperstown.
In fact, the former Braves teammates will be among the rare Hall of Fame starting pitchers whose finest seasons extended into the past 30 years. That group consists of Nolan Ryan, Bert Blyleven and, to a lesser extent, Tom Seaver. That's a pretty small collective, but Hall voters have been unkind to starting pitchers of the '80s and early part of the '90s, offering few votes to most of the period's standout arms.
While one shouldn't neglect Maddux and Glavine this weekend -- or slugger Frank Thomas, who also will be inducted -- now seemed like a good time to bring to light a few of the other finest starting pitchers of the '80s and early '90s, whose only hope to reach Cooperstown is for the Veterans Committee to recognize them.
The longtime Dodgers ace and 1988 NL Cy Young Award winner also was in the top four in Cy Young voting in 1985, 1987 and 1989. His 2.59 postseason ERA over 132 innings is pretty impressive, as are his 1988 World Series ring and series MVP trophy. Perhaps it was his career numbers (204-150, 3.48 ERA, 2,014 strikeouts) that didn't impress voters, who only kept Hershiser on the ballot in 2006 and 2007.
Like Hershiser, Royals star Saberhagen won the Cy Young in the same year he won a World Series (1985) and series MVP honors. He, Roger Clemens and Denny McClain are the only Hall-eligible multiple Cy Young winners not to be enshrined. (Saberhagen won his second in 1989). Injuries left the ex-Met with less impressive career numbers (167-117, 3.34 ERA, 1,715 strikeouts) and earned him just 1.3% of Hall votes in 2007.
Five World Series rings, the 1994 AL Cy Young Award and the 16th perfect game in major league history make for a pretty impressive resume. Yet the former Yankee and Met received just 21 votes during his only time on the ballot in 2009. Cone's high strikeout rate produced 2,668 whiffs, but his 194-126 record likely didn't impress those who find that stat to be important.