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John Franco

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  • John Franco

    Am I the only one who thinks he's worthy? In my mind, he's on the short list for greatest relief pitcher of all time, and yet nobody really mentions his name much as an all time great. His ERA+ is 8th all time, and he's second in saves. He was one of the best closers in the game for a very long time, at a position that normally chews up and spits out the best after two or three years. I think he's deserving. Anybody else?
    "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

    Sean McAdam,

  • #2
    i agree that he probably belongs, but there's a long line ahead of him at closer, and if/until some of them make it he'll have a very hard time.

    how about jesse orosco?


    • #3
      See, I disagree. I don't think there's a long line ahead of him at closer.

      I'd say that the best eligible closers not in the Hall are Bruce Sutter and Goose Gossage. And I think that Franco is better than both of them.
      "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

      Sean McAdam,


      • #4
        what about lee smith? or sparky lyle? or dan quisenberry?


        • #5
          For a guy who is usually so strict on the HoF I'm a bit surprised to see you advocating a relief pitcher, ElHalo.

          As with most relief pitchers, his low IP sort of bothers me. But nonetheless, he's pitched over 1,000 innings (still only about 5 seasons worth for a starter), has the 2nd highest ERA+ among active pitchers (behind Pedro), and has an excellent career ERA of 2.74.

          I agree that he should pretty much be at the beginning of the line for induction as far as relief pitchers go.

          But voters don't tend to like relief guys so much. But with the huge press Gagne, Rivera, Wagner, Smoltz et al. have been getting the past few years, I expect that is going to change.


          • #6
            I am strict on the Hall of Fame... but I also value relief pitchers very highly. I've seen far too many teams lose games because of subpar relief pitching. A lot of sabermetrics people aren't too keen on relief pitchers, and as you've said, a lot of people are down on them because their IP numbers are low.

            But I'm not. I'd consider a top flight closer to be at least equally as valuable as a good number 2 pitcher. They'll be in a lot more games, and while they won't pitch as many innings, the innings they do pitch are much more important. If a starting pitcher starts to get rocked, he can get yanked from the game. If a closer starts to get rocked, you automatically lose. So it's actually, in my opinion, more important to have a lights out closer than a top flight starting pitcher.

            The only pitchers to have pitched for the Yankees for the whole time Joe Torre's been manager are Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettite. And I would argue that Rivera has been so much more valuable than Pettite as to make any argument silly.

            Similarly, Franco has been a lights out closer for a very long time. And I think that's worth a lot.

            In my opinion, there are exactly six pitchers currently working that should go to the Hall of Fame. Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Mariano Rivera, and John Franco. In my opinion, over the course of his career, Franco's been more valuable than any other pitcher... including guys like Glavine and Mussina.
            "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

            Sean McAdam,


            • #7
              ---The main thing I have against Franco isn't really his fault. I just don't think modern closers are capable of having as much value as ace relievers from earlier eras - even 20 years earlier. When you are only expected to pitch one inning, which you start with the bases empty, you have a much easier job description than guys who came in frequently in the 7th or 8th with men on. Goosage, Lyle and Sutter weren't held back for save situations and weren't inserted into games merely for the purpose of getting them. Throw in the lefty specialist work Franco has done more recently and he just hasn't been asked to do as much as previous relief aces. Not his fault. He has been one of the best at what he was asked to do. I just don't value it that much.
              ---The great relievers of the 70s and 80s were considered more valuable when they were active as well. Lyle and Sutter each won a Cy Young Award and figured in the voting multiple times. Goose Goosage finished in the top 6 five times. Dan Quisenberry finished in the top 5 five times. Franco made the top 10 once, finishing 7th. All time save leader Lee Smith also had only one top 10 Cy Young finish. Lyle also finished 3rd and 6th in the MVP balloting. Goosage also had 2 top 10 MVP finishes, while Quisenberry had four and Sutter had FIVE.
              ---The older guys pitched more and tougher innings. Goosage pitched 34 less games than Franco, but almost 800 more innings (60% more) . Lyle pitched over 100 less games, but over 200 more innings. Sutter and Qusienberry each pitched almost 400 less games, but only 100 less innings.
              ---I took a look at Franco, Smith, Lyle, Goosage, Sutter and Qusienberry for this comparison; Franco was tied for last in Black Ink, although he was in the middle of the group in Grey Ink. He was second in ERA+, but the difference amoung the group wasn't large and he SHOULD be lower when he is only asked to do it one inning at a time. He shows up on the all time leader board because he stuck around long enough to get the 1,000 innings baseball-reference is looking for, but lots of new breed closers have spectacular ERA+. Few of them last, or have yet lasted, as long as Franco. I'll give him credit for that. I actually like him better than I did before checking this out. I still don't see him ahead of Sutter and Goosage though and I'm not looking to fill the Hall with relievers.
              ---On a more subjective note, when I think of dominating, scary relievers Goosage is always the first name to come to mind. Much as you prefer Randy Johnson to Greg Maddux despite Maddux numbers, I prefer Goosage over Franco regardless of numbers. In fact, Quisenberry actually led this comparison in both ERA+ and Black Ink, but he was one of the least scary relievers ever. I suspect I am underrating him, but I'm not ready to add additional relievers to my waiting list for the Hall at this point.


              • #8
                Eh, I don't really think you can hold it against him that he only pitches one innings a game. That's just the way pitchers are used now. I think that holding that against contemporary closers would be the same as holding it against contemporary starters that they pitch in five man rotations... I mean, I guess you could hold it against them, but why?

                As far as dominating goes, you're right, Franco never seemed to have that nastiness that you look for in a closer. You think of Gossage there; I think of Mariano. You never feel sorry for batters going against Franco, the way you feel sorry for guys up against Mariano. That's probably a mark against Franco.

                My big plusses on Franco are his great ERA+, and the fact that he was a top flight closer for 13 years. Closer is a position at which guys really don't tend to last that long. Quisenberry was a great closer for about 7 years, Sutter for 9, Gossage for 10 or 11.

                Franco and Lee Smith are the only guys I can think of who were top flight closers for more than a dozen years. Being a top closer for 13 years is, in my mind, just as good as being a top hitter for 21 or 22 years. He gets bonus points for that.

                But, as I said; I know that I'm in the minority on thinking he's a HoF'er. Just like to get other peoples opinions.
                "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

                Sean McAdam,


                • #9
                  I definitely think we should mostly consider player's performances in the context of their own times.

                  Everything from batting averages, home runs, to ERAs, IP et cetra are all enormously affected by the era in question. So to hold people to standards of other eras isn't fair and isn't intuitive, either.

                  The Hall of Fame in my opinion should be a collection of the players that dominated the sport when they played. And when I say dominated I mean "true" dominance, not just "doing well."

                  To deal with the issue of relief pitchers and starting pitchers, I'd like to see the Hall induct pitchers as such. If you were a reliever, you get inducted as a reliever, not as a "pitcher."

                  That brings up another point, I think playing position should be listed on the plaques themselves, they aren't on a lot of them and aren't listed in a "standardized" manner, you may get mention of something like, "defensive great at SS" but in general plaques don't even mention position played.

                  Of course the HoF's website and other official resources of the Hall of Fame group players by position.

                  Anyways, there's a reason when say, we talk about Joe Torre for the Hall of Fame we talk about his stats primarily in relation to C and 3B. Because there are certain expectations (offensively) from those positions that are on a different level than say, expectations in general and specifically expectations in the outfield.

                  So we should consider pitchers as starters and relievers, and look at them in that context.


                  • #10
                    Basically think of it like this.

                    A first baseman and a shortstop both bat, they swing a baseball bat at a baseball.

                    But we don't expect them to both do it equally. We realize that short stops tend to be faster, quicker on their feet guys. We recognize that their position requires that for them to be adequate defensively. We also recognize that in general, the larger frame/body structure, the slower. Yes, there are lots of people that are fast and big, but in general you're quicker if you're a bit smaller and have a lean frame.

                    So for a short stop you'd want the lean guy because it stands to reason he can field better. For 1st base, you don't need quite the degree of fielding talent, so you can put a big monster there who smashes baseballs with his overwhelming physical power.

                    So, they both bat, but we don't expect the same things.

                    Relievers and starters both pitch, but we shouldn't expect the same things because their jobs are "at first glance" the same.


                    • #11
                      Roy, I think thats a valid point. I did start out my Franco post by saying (more or less) that my holding the way he is used against him was unfair. I absolutely detest the way teams use their closers, but that isn't Franco's fault . He has done the job he has been asked to do and done it well.
                      --At a minimum I think you have to adjust save totals to put them in context to earlier times. It has really only been about 20 years since saves went from being something a relief ace got because he was used in critical situations whenever available to something which is an end in itself. I'm watching the Mariners-Expos game as I 'm typing this. The Expos brought in Rocky Biddle a bit ago. Biddle has a 7.32 era and a .337 opponents ba. He also has picked up 11 saves in 14 chances. He didn't get those saves because he is an oustanding reliever. He picked up those saves because the Expos automatically throw him out there whenever there is a save opportunity. If someone who is a candidate for the leagues worst pitcher can be on a pace for 30 saves (actually he apparently won't get them as he came in tonight in the 6th with the Expos behind 3-0 - guess he has a new job) the stat can't mean that much. Not that Franco isn't a hell of alot better than Biddle. Biddle won his job midway thru last season and has lost it 1/3 of the way thru this one. Lots of guys who weren't especially good have had a good year or two as a closer (Bobby Thigpen!). If you succeed at the job for over a decade as Franco did that is something else entirely.
                      --That said, I stand by my other reasons for prefering Goosage and Sutter - and probably Quisenberry and Lyle if I had to pick - over Franco or Lee Smith.


                      • #12
                        Franco is certainly a HOF caliber reliever. However, relievers are having a hard time getting into the club for a variety of reasons, some valid, some not. Because of this, Franco's probably got a pretty long wait ahead. That is, if he ever actually retires.


                        • #13
                          There are 6 relievers that I would like to see in the Hall of Fame when all are eligible.

                          1.Mariano Rivera
                          2.Bruce Sutter
                          3.John Franco
                          4.Goose Gossage
                          5.Trevor Hoffman
                          6.Lee Smith

                          All of the above were or are the best of the best.


                          • #14
                            Subjectively, I rate Gossage way ahead of Franco. Rivera and Hoffman were better as well. I would consider Elroy Face and Firpo Marberry before Franco.

                            I tend to think Franco wasn't Hall-worthy. He's a product of the cheap saves era. On the other hand, I believe that, for a while, he was the best reliever in baseball, and he had a long career, although I think he was hanging on for the last five years. He was the best from 1986-89, IMO.
                            "I do not care if half the league strikes. Those who do it will encounter quick retribution. All will be suspended and I don't care if it wrecks the National League for five years. This is the United States of America and one citizen has as much right to play as another. The National League will go down the line with Robinson whatever the consequences. You will find if you go through with your intention that you have been guilty of complete madness."

                            NL President Ford Frick, 1947


                            • #15
                              I would definately put Gossage, Rivera, and Hoffman in the HOF before Franco, but would put Franco in the same class as Lee Smith and Quisenberry, in which I wouldn't hate it or love it if they were selected. Franco is definately underrated, however!
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