Starting Pitcher: Wes Ferrell

Hall of Fame standard: 73.9 Career WAR / 50.3 Peak WAR / 62.1 JAWS
Ferrell: 61.6 Career WAR / 54.9 Peak WAR / 58.3
JAWS

If you exclude the pitchers on this year's ballot and those whose careers didn't cross into the 20th century, the top-ranking pitcher outside the Hall according to JAWS is Ferrell. ​He sits at No. 39, well ahead of the peak standard but short on the career metric due to arm troubles that turned him into a palooka by his age-30 season and knocked him out of the majors by age 33. Still, the younger brother of Hall of Fame catcher Rick Ferrell (that's Rick at left in the photo above, with Wes next to him) is arguably the one more qualified to be enshrined.

In his heyday with the Indians (1927 to '33), Ferrell was regarded as the equal of the great Lefty Grove, and research has shown that at his peak he faced much tougher competition than the A's ace, who consistently feasted on the league’s lesser teams. From 1929 through '36, Ferrell won 161 games with a 3.72 ERA, which in that high-scoring era was still 28% better than the park-adjusted league average. He finished second in the AL MVP vote in 1935 on the heels of a monster 11.0-WAR season in which he won 25 games while pitching 322 1/3 innings of 3.52 ERA ball (34% better than league average) and hit an insane .347/.427/.533 with seven home runs in 179 plate appearances as a pitcher.

On that note, Ferrell was an outstanding hitter who batted .280/.351/.446 with 38 homers for his career (his brother hit just 28, and had lower a batting average and slugging percentage), numbers that chip away at the fact that his 4.04 ERA would be the Hall’s higheset were he to gain entry. The 12.7 WAR he generated with the bat—including over 150 pinch-hitting appearances, and a brief stint in the outfield—is about 11 wins more than the average Hall of Fame hurler. He was on the 2016 Pre-Integration Era ballot but fell short. With the Hall reconfiguring the Era Committees his case won’t come up for review again until 2021.

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