Flashback to December 2019: the Arizona Diamondbacks give a washed-up pitcher a 5-year deal worth $85 million. Well, today? The team pulled the plug on that blunder. We called it, of course, and in three-plus seasons in the desert, Madison Bumgarner produced just a 15-32 record and a 5.23 ERA over 69 starts and 353 1/3 innings pitched. We knew this guy was done a long time ago, for a variety of reasons, but some MLB teams just don’t make rational decisions.
Reports are the D’backs—currently in the first place among NL West Division teams—will eat $34M of that deal, thanks to the absurd contract guarantees in the sport. No other team is going to pick up that price tag for that kind of production, and if another team does take a crazy chance on Bumgarner, they will only have to pay a minimum veteran salary while the Arizona organization picks up the rest of the tab. It’s a lose-lose situation for the Diamondbacks.
And it’s a win-win proposition for the ‘Bum himself, of course. If he never pitches in MLB again, he still will die a rich man. That’s the motivation for why some players do what they do, sadly. Thanks to “leaders” like Bud Selig, there is little risk involved for many of these guys, looking to extend their careers, succeed, and have huge paydays. The ones who suffer are the fans, of course—and the honest players: America’s pastime truly reflects America’s corrupt past/present.
The final thing we want to address here today are the Hall of Fame chances for Bumgarner: slim and none. His career Wins-Above-Replacement (WAR) value, if he never pitches again (which he shouldn’t, of course, since he’s so bad), is just 37.2 WAR. The average starting pitcher in Cooperstown posted 73.0 WAR, and there are 66 starters in the Hall already. MadBum’s career WAR ranking? He’s 202nd all time, and that’s not a Hall-worthy profile. Not even close …
People will argue his postseasons make up for that, but again, that’s giving his regular-season 2,209 innings less meaning than the 102-plus he threw in four postseasons. We have seen this mathematical fallacy elsewhere, of course: It makes no sense, and the sample sizes are enough to indicate flukes (and other outliers, of course). So, there’s little chance Bumgarner gets voted into the Hall of Fame; maybe he makes it with whatever form the Veterans Committee takes now.
However, he falls short in every meaningful measurement against current pitchers in the Hall. Under the Bill James Hall of Fame Monitor measurement, Bumgarner ranks 230th, with a score of 59 against a score of 100 for Hall minimums. Likewise, using the Hall of Fame Career Standards Test, the news is even worse: He ranks 279th (!) there, with a score of 23 when a score of 50 defines the average Hall of Fame player. If mediots vote sentimentally and ignore all that data …
Well, we have seen the voters do dumb things before. Only time will tell—but we like our chances of being right, because we live in a factual world.