Thankfully stats aren't the only criteria for entry into HOF. In Eck's case, he was a good starter who became an ELITE reliever. He's has one of two pitchers who had a 20-win season and a 50-save season in a career (the other being John Smoltz).
Eckersley is a joke. He wasn't good enough as a starter to get into the HoF, and he wasn't good enough as a reliever to get into the HoF. How he managed to get in as a starter-reliever is, to me, an abiding mystery.
In any event, elite relievers are about as common as dirt. The single greatest season by a reliever in the history of baseball was Mike Marshall in 1974. He pitched over 200 innings from the bullpen
that year and deservedly won the Cy Young Award. "Mike who?" you might ask. Exactly.
Eckersley was the relief pitcher of the year in the AL in 1992. The year before that it was Bryan Harvey. The year after was Jeff Montgomery. Really, it's like if Mark McGwire won the home run crown, followed the next year by Ruben Rivera
The save is, far and away, the most vastly overrated stat in baseball. Every relief pitcher in the major leagues should erect a golden statue of Jerome Holtzman and kiss its shiny metallic ass every single day in honor of Holtzman's invention of the save. Eckersley got 51 saves in 1992 -- that wasn't even the AL record, which was set by Bobby Thigpen two years earlier (Bobby who
?). 51 saves in a year puts Eckersley in a tie for 10th place on the all-time list, and every year he gets pushed down another notch. In other words, it wasn't such a big achievement, and as the years go on it becomes even less so.
Of course, with my being a Red Sawx fan, Eck stands out in my mind for more than one reason. It was his trade from Sawx to the Cubs that brought cursed Bill Buckner to the Red Sawx! His pitching in ACLS swept the Sawx and next year saved A's and won World Series over SF giants. I believe thay he won Cy Young as well as league MVP in '92. All this put hims in a different light as compared to Gooden's career achievements.
On the whole, Buckner had a better career than Eckersley.
Who said post-season stats were or should be a main determinant?! Certainly not me!
I was addressing the post made by Gargamel
, who raised the point that Schilling was 11-2 in the postseason. It's not always about you, y'know.
And why downplay post-season stats? Post-season stats (particularly Wins and Losses) shows how they perform when the pressure is on against much tougher opponents. How important is it if they hit .300, hit bunches of HR, or pitched a shutout in a reg season as compared to doing the same in a WS?
A player's ability to play in the postseason depends, in a large part, upon his teammates. A great player can go his entire career without ever playing in the postseason (e.g. Ernie Banks) or in only one (e.g. Ted Williams), yet that shouldn't reflect badly on his own abilities. Similarly, just because a guy gets to play in the postseason doesn't mean that he is suddenly better than a player on a team that fails to make it to the playoffs. Furthermore, postseason stats are inflated now, given that there are three rounds of playoffs. Schilling's 11-2 postseason record looks pretty good compared to Whitey Ford's 10-8 record, until you realize that Ford only pitched in the World Series.
Like I said, it's good that Schilling had an 11-2 record in the playoffs, but adding those eleven victories to his career total still doesn't bring him in over 300.