Is Jon Lester a Hall of Famer? How postseason greatness gives him a chance at Cooperstown

Too early? Nah, it’s never ever prematurely. 

Jon Lester revealed his retirement on Wednesday. The durable lefty has actually been a component in crucial rotations in baseball for a while. It’s been a terrible long period of time considering that we entered into a season not thinking of him, even if he was on the periphery (like in 2015). 

It’s just natural to do 2 things when a profession like this ends. First off, recall and value all the memories this gamer supplied. There were plenty with Lester, especially with 2 particular fan bases. Secondly, ask the concern on whether he’s a Hall of Famer. Let’s dig into the latter. 

Right off the top, Lester’s case isn’t an excellent one if we browse the lens of just his regular-season JAWS. He’s 149th in JAWS amongst beginning pitchers. There are 66 beginners presently in the Hall of Fame, and even if we loop in active gamers like Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer together with hopefuls like CC Sabathia and experienced committee prospects like Dave Stieb, Kevin Brown and Luis Tiant, we still aren’t even midway to Lester. 

Now, Lester’s case is more that of a compiler than peak, so perhaps WAR treats him much better? Nope. He’s 153rd there. 

This is to state that Lester’s case is the precise reverse of a few of the current new-school conscripts (such as Larry Walker, Scott Rolen and even dripping back to Bert Blyleven — though he should not require such a push). 

No, Lester’s case is developed on the strength of other things. It isn’t the Hall of WAR and even Hall of Stats, as we understand. There are stories to be outlined every gamer and each Hall of Famer does not need to look the exact same. There’s space for all-timers like Walter Johnson simply as there is space for the similarity Jack Morris and Catfish Hunter (both of whom route Lester in WAR and JAWS, by the method). 

Lester’s story is engaging, too. After battling cancer, he went on to have a profession that saw him work as the ace of both Red Sox and Cubs World Series champion groups. Think about if we had heard that a person twenty years earlier? That moves the needle a bit, no? 

Lester debuted in 2006 with the Red Sox at age 22, however his season was interrupted due to a discovery that he had a treatable kind of lymphoma. He returned with a tidy costs of health in 2007. He would toss 5 2/3 scoreless innings in Coors Field in Game 4 to shut down a sweep of the Rockies for the 2007 World Series title. 

For the next 6 seasons, Lester was a component in the Red Sox rotation, going 89-54 with a 3.65 AGE (120 AGE+). He was a workhorse, too, topping 200 innings 5 times and 190 in all 6. The conclusion of that period was the 2013 World Series title. Lester had a 1.56 age in 5 starts that postseason, winning his Games 1 and 5 starts in the World Series. 

The 2014 season was his peak, to that point, on a specific basis. He published a career-best 2.46 age and career-best 1.10 WHIP with 220 strikeouts. He ended up 4th in Cy Young ballot. He was likewise set to strike complimentary company after the season and as soon as the Red Sox weren’t competing, the trade reports swirled together with talk of an extension. The Red Sox chose to trade him to the A’s and after that attempt to bring him back in the offseason. 

It didn’t work. Instead, Lester signed to be the personnel ace of the up-and-coming Cubs. They were just 73-89 the previous season, so while there was pledge, Lester still took a danger. It settled. In 2015, they went to the NLCS after a 97-win routine season. In 2016, they won the World Series. 

Lester ended up second in NL Cy Young ballot that season after going 19-5 with a 2.44 age and 1.02 WHIP, eventually the very best season of his profession. He tossed 8 scoreless innings in a 1-0 win in Game 1 of the NLDS. He was co-MVP of the NLCS after enabling 2 operate on 9 hits in 13 innings. He got the win in Game 5 to provide the Cubs a 3-2 series lead heading house, when they were dealing with Kershaw in Game 6. He got the win in Game 5 of the World Series to fend off removal. Then he began in relief on 2 days’ rest in Game 7 to supply outstanding operate in 3 innings, handing the ball off to closer Aroldis Chapman with the group in position to win. 

It was his signature season. And the Cubs had actually won their very first World Series title considering that 1908. Jon Lester was the single finest and essential free-agent finalizing in franchise history. 

See? Even the condensed variation is a hell of a story. 

In all, Lester completed his routine season profession with a 200-117 record. He had a 3.66 AGE (117 AGE+) and 1.28 WHIP. He set out 2,488 batters in 2,740 innings. He was a five-time All-Star with 4 top-10 Cy Young surfaces that includes 2 fourth-place surfaces and one runner-up. In a period when pitchers were reviewing 200 innings less and less times per season, Lester had 8 200-inning projects. He reviewed 180 innings 11 straight seasons. 

His leading 5 analytical similars consist of a Hall of Famer (Roy Halladay) and one headed that method (Verlander). He is 40th in profession strikeouts. 

I do not believe anybody would question he lacks the Hall on the routine season alone, however in the postseason he had a 2.51 age in 154 innings with a 1.02 WHIP. He’s ninth profession in both playoff innings and strikeouts. In 6 profession World Series looks, he went 4-1 with a 1.77 AGE, 0.93 WHIP and 34 strikeouts versus 8 strolls in 35 2/3 innings. He won 3 rings, and on 2 of those groups he was the foundation of the rotation. Will that and his story push him up a bit? 

My inkling is on the BBWAA vote, we’re moving more far from stories and more towards the analytical side, though there will constantly be space for benefit points on the postseason statistics and possibly the story with Lester gets him in the discussion. 

If I needed to wager, he gets ten years on the BBWAA vote and falls off, however then a veterans committee eventually puts him in. There have actually been far larger criminal offenses in Cooperstown. Lester is a gamer who needs to be kept in mind for generations, even if his statistics do not shout “Hall of Famer.” 

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