Close But No Cigar For El Tiante

Lost in between the news of Giancarlo Stanton’s trade to New York and the Patriots tough defeat in Miami over the last few days was the fact that Luis Tiant was up for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame again. Unfortunately for Tiant and his fans, his Hall of Fame candidacy came up short once again. Looking at his numbers, though, that’s the right call.

Tiant played for 19 seasons, but only received Cy Young Award votes on three occasions and never took the award home. He didn’t receive any Cy Young Award votes after arguably his best season, 1968, but that had more to do Denny McLain going 31-6 and pitching 28 complete games. Tough luck for Tiant I suppose, but he had some pretty lean years too. He went 9-20 a year later in 1969 and got off to a rocky start in Boston in 1971.

Looking at all of his seasons on Baseball-Reference.com, Tiant had some great years and some not so great years but was generally a pretty good pitcher for 17 years. He was a big part of a very fun time in Red Sox history and is rightfully a member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, that doesn’t get you into Cooperstown. You can be brilliant over a shorter career – Sandy Koufax, Pedro – or you can compile stats over a longer career – Nolan Ryan, Tom Glavine – but Tiant gets caught in between in no man’s land.

The fact that baseball fans and writers have been debating Tiant’s Hall of Fame resume for literally 30 years is a great example of how broken the voting system is.  At least it appears to have gotten this one right.

Check back later this month for my mock Hall of Fame ballot.  You can see who I would’ve voted for last year here.

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