I have long held that relief pitchers not be elected to the Hall of Fame because they are part time players, like pinch hitters. Some of the recent criticism of Mark McGwire as a one dimensional player caused me to consider that pitchers are never judged on anything other than their ability to throw. If McGwire is not a five tool player, how many players already in the Hall of Fame, especially pitchers, are? The five tools are: hit, hit with power, run, field, throw. Willie Mays is the quintessential five tool player. Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, you get the idea. Harmon Killebrew, Ralph Kiner, ... are one tool players, like McGwire.
But what of pitchers? How many tools were possessed by Bob Feller, Sandy Koufax? Some pitchers could field well: Whitey Ford. Some could also run well: Bob Gibson. But other than Babe Ruth, who was not elected to the Hall of Fame as a pitcher, who could hit well? No, not hit well for a pitcher, hit well for a ball player? More to my original point, almost all pitchers are part time players. Charley "Old Hoss" Radbourn pitched in most of his team games in several seasons but that is extremely rare.
Why should any pitchers be considered for eligibility to the Hall of Fame? Starters pitch in less than 25% of their team games. 162 games multiplied by 9 innings equals 1,458 innings. A player should appear in at least 80% to be considered full time. If a pitcher throws in 200 innings he appears in about 14% of his team's innings. A modern iron man throwing about 300 innings would be in about 20%. You may think that the pitcher is doing much more than players at other positions. If the pitcher is striking out most of the batters that he faces, I might agree. However, those other players are retiring the batters who hit the ball. Why should the pitcher get credit for retiring all those batters who do not strike out?
4,374 (1,458 innings * 3 outs) are retired in 162 nine inning games. Let's ignore minor anomalies like the bottom of the ninth when the home team leads and extra innings. If a pitcher strikes out 200 batters he is retiring 4.5%. 300 strike outs: 6.85%. In 2009 Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter had 206 put outs and 340 assists. Jeter was involved in about 37% of the outs recorded by the Yankees. Plus, he created 123 runs with his batting. The Yankee's ace starter CC Sabathia struck out 230 batters, 5.25% of the outs recorded by the Yankees. Sabathia had 3 put outs and 28 assists. Sabathia created zero runs batting. Jeter plays full time. Sabathia plays part time. Part time players should not be considered for the Hall of Fame.