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  • Mike Cuellar - Potential?

    I love reading about pitchers. Among those, I wondered about Mike Cuellar.

    Here are his stats (Note: After Pitching 4 innings in 1959 at 22, Cuellar did not pitch again in the majors until 1964 when he was 27, I do not know why. It may be because of a mediocre to bad minor league career in terms of Wins/Losses, although his ERA was pretty good most of the time.)

    Won/Lost: 185/130
    4 20+ win seasons
    1 Cy Young Award (1969)
    9 100+ ERA+
    4 All-Star Appearances
    3 Top Tens in H/9
    5 Top Tens in W%
    7 Top Tens in Sho

    I've read that he had a variety of pitches and he played for a winning team, so what do you think? Did he have Hall of Fame potential? Would those 5 years he lost have made the difference?
    Last edited by 1905 Giants; 09-02-2012, 03:41 PM.
    “There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to shame the devil.” Walter Lippmann

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  • #2
    A huge chunk of Cuellars success was due to playing in front of the best defenses ever assembled. A good pitcher who looked great sometimes due to Blair, Robinson, Bellanger, etc.
    1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

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    • #3
      in 1960 he was 6-9 in AAA, with a 3.53 ERA
      1961, bounced around AAA, going a combined 4-11 and 4.58 with 3 teams
      1962, he played in the Mexican League
      1963, he moved around some more (AA-AAA), for a combined 7-8, 3.49

      He featured a palmball and a screwball that brought him great success in the majors, but those aren't easy pitches to master, and not much if any Spanish language coaching available in Knoxville, Indianapolis etc back then - maybe he was learning how during those seasons?
      Last edited by westsidegrounds; 09-02-2012, 05:36 PM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Matthew C. View Post
        A huge chunk of Cuellars success was due to playing in front of the best defenses ever assembled. A good pitcher who looked great sometimes due to Blair, Robinson, Bellanger, etc.
        I'm not sure it's quite that cut and dried. He was pretty terrific in Houston, especially in '66.
        3 6 10 21 29 31 35 41 42 44 47

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Los Bravos View Post
          I'm not sure it's quite that cut and dried. He was pretty terrific in Houston, especially in '66.
          I am sure the Astrodome helped some. Either way, I didn't say he was bad...but he wasn't as good as his numbers either.
          1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

          1887 1888 1928 1930 1943 1968 1985 1987 2004 2013

          1996 2000 2001 2002 2005 2009 2012 2014 2015


          The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
          The Top 100 Position Players In MLB History

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Matthew C. View Post
            I am sure the Astrodome helped some. Either way, I didn't say he was bad...but he wasn't as good as his numbers either.
            I don't know if he reached his full potential or not...I assume so.

            But you don't have to be much better than Mike Cuellar to be a HOFer. IMO he didn't miss the mark by much. 185 wins, 3.14 ERA (helped lots by era, defenses, ballparks), a Cy Young, etc.

            If he had developed earlier and had a slightly longer peak -- a season or two at 18ish wins each -- he's got a Catfish Hunter/Luis Tiant argument for the HOF.

            So, to me the question is, was his development retarded by any factor beyond his control? Offhand, did he get waylaid at all by the revolution in Cuba, his homeland?

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            • #7
              In my opinion, a ho-hum 109 ERA+ with under 3,000 IP is not particularly close to a HOFer...especially when team defense isn't even included in his ERA+. Nothing that happened in Cuba is enough to close that gap for me.
              1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

              1887 1888 1928 1930 1943 1968 1985 1987 2004 2013

              1996 2000 2001 2002 2005 2009 2012 2014 2015


              The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
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              • #8
                Originally posted by Cougar View Post
                I don't know if he reached his full potential or not...I assume so.

                But you don't have to be much better than Mike Cuellar to be a HOFer. IMO he didn't miss the mark by much. 185 wins, 3.14 ERA (helped lots by era, defenses, ballparks), a Cy Young, etc.

                If he had developed earlier and had a slightly longer peak -- a season or two at 18ish wins each -- he's got a Catfish Hunter/Luis Tiant argument for the HOF.

                So, to me the question is, was his development retarded by any factor beyond his control? Offhand, did he get waylaid at all by the revolution in Cuba, his homeland?
                There was a language problem - Earl Weaver had to communicate with him via Ellie Hendricks, at least for his first season with the Orioles, & that was 10 years after he'd left Cuba for the US.

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                • #9
                  One of the best lines ever:

                  Near the end of his career, Weaver started giving him the hook earlier and earlier in ballgames. One time, when Weaver came to the mound to pull him, Cuellar said "You give me no chance" and Weaver replied "I gave you more chances than my first wife".

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                  • #10
                    And before anybody claims some sabermetric bias on my part: long before WAR or before people even cared about team defense behind the pitcher, etc....

                    Despite the 4 20-win seasons, Cy Young, multiple ASGs, high-profile playoffs, and other high Cy Young finishes, Cuellar got zero votes from the BBWAA. This coming from the same group that gave votes to Ray Sadeki, Dave Giusti, Tommy Helms, and Felix Milan.

                    Sabermetrics just backs up what everybody thought at the time - Cuellar was never on the HOF radar.
                    1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

                    1887 1888 1928 1930 1943 1968 1985 1987 2004 2013

                    1996 2000 2001 2002 2005 2009 2012 2014 2015


                    The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
                    The Top 100 Position Players In MLB History

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                    • #11
                      Mike Cuellar is one of my favorite pitchers, to me he was sort of a LH Juan Marichal, a dazzling array of pitches including screwballs and change ups.

                      Although a minor member of the world champion 1964 Cards, he really did not get a chance until he was 29 and he responded with a 12-10 record and 2.22 era for a pretty bad team. I think he was injured part of 1968 and a pitcher missing any time in 1968 was not good - one of every 5 games resulted in a shutout. He was a big innings eater 7 straight years 1969-1975 and won 18 or more games 6 of those years ... and by 1976 at age 39 his skills and IP basically eroded.

                      If I was assembling a team and not choosing the usual Christy Mathewson Walter Johnson all time greats, there would be a place on my team (maybe as a long man / middle reliever / spot starter) for a cagey crafty left handed innings eater, Cuellar would fit the bill perfectly.
                      Last edited by 9RoyHobbsRF; 09-03-2012, 08:48 PM.
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Matthew C. View Post
                        And before anybody claims some sabermetric bias on my part: long before WAR or before people even cared about team defense behind the pitcher, etc....

                        Despite the 4 20-win seasons, Cy Young, multiple ASGs, high-profile playoffs, and other high Cy Young finishes, Cuellar got zero votes from the BBWAA. This coming from the same group that gave votes to Ray Sadeki, Dave Giusti, Tommy Helms, and Felix Milan.

                        Sabermetrics just backs up what everybody thought at the time - Cuellar was never on the HOF radar.
                        He's not in, and I don't have a beef with that. The zero votes are fine by me.

                        You don't get in through the BBWAA without 200 wins unless you peak like Koufax or Dean.

                        My point is, get Cuellar over 200 wins, with a couple more strong seasons mixed in or tacked on, and he'd have a bandwagon, like Tiant, or slip through the velvet rope, like Catfish. That's all.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by 9RoyHobbsRF View Post

                          If I was assembling a team and not choosing the usual Christy Mathewson Walter Johnson all time greats, there would be a place on my team (maybe as a long man / middle reliever / spot starter) for a cagey crafty left handed innings eater, Cuellar would fit the bill perfectly.
                          Oh yeah - without a doubt. He was certainly a very good pitcher...I would love to have a guy like him on the Cardinals right now. From what I hear, he was a great guy and I have always been a fan of the Orioles (due mostly to the STL connection), so I am not trying to slight him by claiming he wasn't a HOFer.
                          1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

                          1887 1888 1928 1930 1943 1968 1985 1987 2004 2013

                          1996 2000 2001 2002 2005 2009 2012 2014 2015


                          The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
                          The Top 100 Position Players In MLB History

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            And he did spend a season there, too. I would assume he got a ring for his contributions in '64.
                            3 6 10 21 29 31 35 41 42 44 47

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                            • #15
                              Here's a question: if you combine Dave Mcnally through age 28, with Cuellar from age 29 and beyond..is that a HOF pitcher?

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