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Injured MLB players who were headed towards the Hall of Fame

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Everything looked so promising...

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

I will start by saying that full credit for this inspiration goes to former Fake Teams writer Matt Williams (@MattWi77iams) who opened up this thread last week on the Twitterverse.

I am looking into players who were “peak” Hall of Fame talents whose careers derailed due to injuries or other miscellaneous reasons. I am always fascinated by this topic—when you pick a player up midseason, thinking you have just secured the next Mike Trout—and to some degree you see that output for a time...but then a month, six months, or a year later, it all comes crashing down. This makes sense when you see the elite level that they push their bodies through. That’s a tough thing for a body to endure over any length of time, and in the back of my head I’m always wondering when a nasty injury derails everything. I imagine it’s the same for some players who are constantly hoping for a healthy career. For the purposes of this, I’m excluding the steroid era players who did not get admitted to the Hall of Fame.

The players are listed from Baseball Reference as well as league leading stats. First up—pitchers.

Matt Harvey

2012: 178 IP, 9 W, 2.27 ERA, 0.931 WHIP
2013: 189 IP, 13 W, 2.71 ERA, 1.019 WHIP
And then Tommy John Surgery….
2015: 92 IP, 4 W, 4.86 ERA, 1.468 WHIP
2016: 92 IP, 5 W, 6.70 ERA, 1.694 WHIP

Tim Lincecum

2008: 227 IP, 18 W, 2.62 ERA, 1.172 WHIP
2009: 225 IP, 15 W, 2.34 ERA, 1.047 WHIP
2010: 212 IP, 16 W, 3.43 ERA, 1.272 WHIP
2011: 217 IP, 13 W, 2.74 ERA, 1.207 WHIP
And then knee injuries forced him to lose 30 lbs….
2012: 186 IP, 10 W, 4.37 ERA, 1.315 WHIP
2013: 197 IP, 10 W, 4.74 ERA, 1.394 WHIP

Los Angeles Angels v New York Yankees

Dean Chance

1964: 278 IP, 20 W, 1.65 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
1965: 225 IP, 15 W, 3.15 ERA, 1.321 WHIP
1966: 259 IP, 12 W, 3.08 ERA, 1.232 WHIP
1967: 283 IP, 20 W, 2.73 ERA, 1.10 WHIP
1968: 292 IP, 16 W, 3.53 ERA, 0.983 WHIP
1969: 88 IP, 5 W, 2.95 ERA, 1.257 WHIP
And then the back injury in 1969 really hit him hard…
1970: 157 IP, 9 W, 4.36 ERA, 1.503 WHIP

Johan Santana

2003: 158 IP, 12 W, 3.07 ERA, 1.099 WHIP
2004: 228 IP, 20 W, 2.61 ERA, 0.921 WHIP
2005: 231 IP, 16 W, 2.87 ERA, 0.971 WHIP
2006: 233 IP, 19 W, 2.77 ERA, 0.997 WHIP
2007: 219 IP, 15 W, 3.33 ERA, 1.073 WHIP
2008: 234 IP, 16 W, 2.53 ERA, 1.148 WHIP
2009: 166 IP, 13 W, 3.13 ERA, 1.212 WHIP
2010: 199 IP, 11 W, 2.98 ERA, 1.176 WHIP
....and then a left shoulder injury hit
2011: 117 IP, 6 W, 4.85 ERA, 1.33 WHIP

Kerry Wood

1998: 166 IP, 13 W, 3.40 ERA, 1.212 WHIP
2000: 137 IP, 8 W, 4.80 ERA, 1.453 WHIP
2001: 174 IP, 12 W, 3.36 ERA, 1.256 WHIP
2002: 213 IP, 12 W, 3.66 ERA, 1.245 WHIP
2003: 211 IP, 14 W, 3.20 ERA, 1.194 WHIP
2004: 140 IP 8 W 3.72 ERA 1.268 WHIP
…and then strained triceps ultimately led to surgery.
2005: 66 IP, 3 W, 4.23 ERA, 1.182 WHIP
2006: 19 IP, 1 W, 4.12 ERA, 1.373 WHIP

Atlanta Braves v Miami Marlins Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

One other player who came to mind was Jose Fernandez, except he wasn’t injured. Instead, he passed away tragically in a boating accident. But Jose Fernandez was on his way. Just check the numbers:

2013: 172 IP, 12 W, 2.19 ERA, 0.979 WHIP
2014: 51 IP, 4 W, 2.44 ERA, 0.948 WHIP
2015: 64 IP, 6 W, 2.92 ERA, 1.160 WHIP
2016: 182 IP, 16 W, 2.86 ERA, 1.119 WHIP

That certainly reads like a Hall of Fame talent. Who else comes to YOUR mind?

Poll

Did you own any of these players in fantasy when their career went downhill?

This poll is closed

  • 66%
    Yes
    (6 votes)
  • 33%
    No
    (3 votes)
9 votes total Vote Now