Ex-Giants, A's pitchers Zito, Hudson on 2021 HOF ballot originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The 2021 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot includes a few old friends, and might make you feel a bit old.
Barry Zito and Tim Hudson, who played on both sides of the Bay and won titles with the Giants, are among the 11 newcomers on this year's ballot. They will join Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and others on a ballot that goes 25 deep this year. The 2021 Hall of Fame class will be announced on Jan. 26.
To be eligible for the ballot, a player must have been retired for five seasons, and this year's group -- which also includes former A's Nick Swisher and Dan Haren -- is made up of players who might not get much support on ballots, but certainly qualify for the Hall of Very, Very Good. Hudson, in particular, is an interesting case.
Hudson spent the first seven seasons of his career in Oakland as part of the famous Big Three before moving on to Atlanta for nine seasons. He finished up with the Giants, making the All-Star team and winning his lone title in 2014. Hudson was a four-time All-Star -- making it with all three of his teams -- and finished in the top six in Cy Young voting four times. He had a 3.49 ERA and won 222 games, which is part of what makes his case stand out.
Hudson ranks 76th all-time in wins, and given the way the game is trending, he might be one of the last to reach 200. Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke are the only active pitchers with 200 wins and Jon Lester (193), Clayton Kershaw (175) and Max Scherzer (175) are the only ones with a shot of getting there anytime soon.
With 56.5 Wins Above Replacement, Hudson ranks second to Mark Buehrle (60.0) among this year's additions, although both fall short of what has traditionally been deemed a Hall of Famer. According to baseball-reference, the average WAR for Hall of Fame pitchers is 73.3. Hudson won't make the Hall of Fame, but he does have a strong argument to cross the five-percent threshold that would keep him on the ballot beyond this year.
Zito won a Cy Young in Oakland, made two All-Star teams and had a memorable postseason run for the Giants in 2012. The #RallyZito stretch will never be forgotten at Oracle Park, but Zito had a 4.04 ERA in 15 seasons, with a 165-143 record and 33.1 WAR. He was on a Cooperstown trajectory in Oakland, but will fall short.
Swisher and Haren also became stars with the A's, although like Hudson, both were traded. Swisher was worth 21.4 WAR and hit 245 homers. Haren was a three-time All-Star who won 153 games, posted a 3.75 ERA in 13 seasons, and was worth 32.9 WAR. Like the others here, he'll fall short, but if there were an Athlete Twitter Hall of Fame he would be a first-ballot induction:
The other newcomers in this class are A.J. Burnett, Michael Cuddyer, LaTroy Hawkins, Torii Hunter, Aramis Ramirez and Shane Victorino. Any player who gets 75 percent of the vote is inducted into the Hall of Fame, and if a player gets five percent he can stay on the ballot for up to 10 years. Players who do not receive five percent this year will be taken off the ballot.