Arrieta A Future Hall Of Famer? Lets Pump The Brakes, Folks

I awoke this morning to find a Dave Schoenfield article alleging that there is a case to be made for Jake Arrieta having Hall of Fame potential. The way that sentence reads may already point to my skepticism; and though I think the world of the Cubs’ ace, let me explain why this completely and utterly preposterous.

Now Schoenfield doesn’t lay out the worst argument in his piece, but it doesn’t matter. That’s because there really isn’t a good argument to be made here. Essentially Schoenfield gives us 3 reasons why Arrieta could pull off the feat:

  1. Last year’s Cy Young season combined with this year’s hot start.
  2. His conditioning and diet.
  3. That several Hall of Fame pitchers got in more for what they did in their 30s than their 20s.

First and foremost, using Arrieta’s recent success isn’t a reason to put the guy in the Hall YET. Right now, it’s simply the reason we’re having the conversation. In order for that to be a legitimate pillar of the argument, Arrieta is going to have to have a few more of those years. And by a few I mean a lot.

Next, you’ve got his physical fitness regimen. While I praise Jake for treating his body like a temple, and while doing so could certainly contribute to his longevity, there’s just no way you can use it as an accurate predictor of how the guy is going to pitch down the road. I mean its not like Jake was pounding cases of beer and whole pizzas when he SUCKED in Baltimore, and then all of a sudden got all into fitness and diet. He’s been devoted to this stuff forever, and with all the fat guys that are in the Hall already, I just think this is bogus reasoning.

Finally, we come to the most solid part of Schoenfield’s argument. Yes, there are in fact some guys in the Hall who hit their stride after 30. Still, out of the 5 guys he names in comparison, only Curt Schilling stands out as being sort of comparable.

The first two guys he names are Red Ruffing and Dazzy Vance, both of whom played forever ago. Ruffing retired after a 22 year career in 1945, and Vance retired a full decade before that. As far as I’m concerned, stretching a comparison to guys who played before color TV is pretty sketchy. Maybe that’s just me, but I don’t even see how you could call it the same game. Not even close.

The next guys on his list are Bob Gibson and Randy Johnson. The reason I think the Gibson comparison is unjust is simply because he easily ranks among the most dominant pitchers to ever take the mound. You can’t just compare people to Gibson without a more substantial body of work than what Jake has to show for himself so far.

As for the Big Unit, the guy pitched till he was 45! Not to mention the guy was actually good before he turned 30. Moreover, the Big Unit is probably the model Arrieta would have to replicate. He won 4 Cy Young awards in a row from age 35 to 39. Flat out nasty. So sure, use Randy Johnson as an example, but like Bob Gibson, you’re gonna have to show me a little more body of work to earn a comparison.

Finally we come to Schilling. Obviously he’s not yet in the Hall, and though I’m sure he’ll get in, I think it will have more to do with his postseason heroics than his statistical prowess. Schilling never won a Cy Young, and only won 216 games (which Jake will probably never sniff). But if you are to look at Schillings heroics, that, I think, is the best way for a guy like Arrieta to make his own case.

If Jake can bring multiple titles to Chicago, AND he can put up some Randy Johnson type numbers in his mid 30s, then and only then will we have something to discuss here. Until then, Jake is at the top of the game, and he’s really fun to watch, but please folks, pump the brakes.


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