Wednesday, November 5, 2014

1959 Topps Baseball Thrills #466 Billy Pierce

The 2015 Verteran's Committee, er umm Golden Era Committee has been given their Hall of Fame Ballot for 2015. Among the ten nominees on the ballot is Southpaw Billy Pierce.

1959 Topps Baseball Thrills #466 Billy Pierce

During his career Billy Pierce pitched 18 years in the majors 13 of which were with Chicago White Sox. The seven time All-Star was a member of two pennant winners - the '59 White Sox, and the '62 Giants. Additional personal accomplishments include 211 career victories, ERA (1.97 in 1955), strikeout (186 in 1953)  and victory (20 in 1957).

Slightly less than half of Pierce's career occurred prior to the creation of the Cy Young Award. In two of those pre-CY seasons Pierce led the league in pitching WAR. That DOES NOT necessarily automatically translate into Cy Young Awards. In neither of the two seasons (1953, 1955) did Pierce Lead pitchers in MVP voting. Oddly in the 1956 season when he finished 4th in pitching WAR, He led all AL pitchers in the MVP voting. There was only 1 MVP award at the time (shared by both leagues) curiously Pierce did not get any Cy Young Votes - However Another AL pitcher whom Pierce finished in front of in the MVP vote did get CY votes - Hall of Famer Whitey Ford. 

Baseball Thrills
1959 Topps Baseball Thrills #466 Billy Pierce (b-side)

Billy Pierce was awarded a BT card based on his All-Star Game prowess - some additional notes on those 3 starts here: 

1953 - He matched up equally with Phillies HoF pitcher Robin Roberts 3 IP, 1 single, no walks. The HoF batters he retired that day included PeeWee Reese(twice), Red Schoendienst, Roy Campanella, Eddie Mathews, Enos Slaughter, Ralph Kiner (Strikeout).

1955 - 3ip, 1 hit erased on CS, faced minimum 9 batters. HoFs retired Duke Snider(K), Eddie Mathews, Ernie Banks(K)

1956 - 3ip, 2 singles, 1 run, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, One HoF retired Frank Robinson but he got in twice both times on strikeouts.

The Card doesn't mention Billy Pierce's 1957 appearance where he got knocked around a bit.

There is a modest discussion of this card at the 1959 Topps blog here

Phungo HoF Verdict
Even assuming 2 or possibly 3 Cy Young Awards for Billy Pierce, I don't think it is enough to put him in the Hall of Fame. His career WAR of 53.2 ranks 90th all-time - among contemporary pitchers that ranks between CC Sabathia and Johan Santana and just below David Wells(88th) and Dwight Gooden(89th). Both Wells & Gooden are great pitchers that rank above Pierce in Career WAR and both (unlike Pierce) have World Series Rings. However Wells & Gooden are not Hall of Famers and neither is Billy Pierce.

For more info on Pierce's career credentials check this Jay Jaffe article which is in agreement with our Hall of Very Good summation.

Sources & Links
1959 Topps Baseball Thrills
2015 Hall of Fame Candidates
AP/Philadelphia Inquirer
jay jaffe- SI

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