Useless Hall of Fame Info

Bruce Sutter's election to Cooperstown got our juices flowing. So it's time for a Hall of Fame edition of the Useless Information Department:

Now that Pete Rose's days on the writers' ballot have theoretically past (even though he never actually spent any days on that ballot), it's time for one final rundown of his annual write-in Hall of Fame vote totals.

Rose got 10 votes this year -- one above his all-time low (set last year). He peaked at 41 in what would have been his first year on the ballot, in 1991. Then he averaged about 16 votes a year for the next 12 years. Whereupon even his silent protesters apparently lost interest.

His year-by-year totals: 41, 14, 10, 15, 19, 20, 12, 16, 17, 15, 18, 18, 15, 9 and 10.

That works out to 249 total votes in 15 years -- or 27 more than Ty Cobb got in his first and only appearance on the ballot.


Jim Rice Rice

If this was supposed to be Jim Rice's year, no one told the voters. Seven players took a bigger jump in this year's voting than Rice (whose total increased by only 30). Here they are:

Bert Blyleven, plus-66
Bruce Sutter, plus-56
Goose Gossage, plus-51
Andre Dawson, plus-47
Jack Morris, plus-46
Lee Smith, plus-34
Tommy John, plus-31

Hall of Fame elections normally feature massive, inexplicable vote-total zigzags by many candidates. But here's all the evidence you need that these voters were looking harder than ever for somebody to vote for:

Only one player in this election actually lost votes since last year. That was Willie (E.T.) McGee, who will have plenty of time to phone home after plummeting from 26 votes to 12 -- and clear off the ballot.

Almost every other candidate raked in double-digit increases -- except for three players, all of whom clearly are in danger of never getting elected:

Dale Murphy, plus-2
Don Mattingly, plus-5
Alan Trammell, plus-5

If you were a hitter from the 1980s and you couldn't pick up any momentum in this election, when players like this seemed ripe to benefit from steroid backlash, you're talking big trouble on the Cooperstown front.


Bruce Sutter Sutter

Back in his heyday, Sutter ripped off five seasons of 100 or more innings and cranked out 99 innings in another. No other reliever in National League history owns more seasons of 99-plus innings and at least 20 saves.

Well, it's safe to say that's one record that won't be broken. You know how many seasons like that all of today's active relievers have combined for? Exactly one. By Danny Graves (111 IP, 27 saves) in 1999.

Then again, you don't see many 99-inning seasons by set-up men, middle men, long men or any other kind of reliever anymore. Here are the only 10 active relief pitchers to pitch that many innings in a season (with zero starts), regardless of save totals:

Danny Graves, 1999 (111 innings, 27 saves)
Derek Lowe, 1999 (109 1/3 innings, 15 saves)
Mariano Rivera, 1996 (107 2/3 innings, 5 saves)
Scot Shields, 2004 (105 1/3 innings, 4 saves)
Keith Foulke, 1999 (105 1/3 innings, 9 saves)
Guillermo Mota, 2003 (105 innings, 1 save)
Terry Adams, 1996 (101 innings, 4 saves)
Todd Jones, 1995 (99 2/3 innings, 15 saves)
Rick White, 2000 (99 2/3 innings, 3 saves)
Matt Herges, 2001 (99 1/3 innings, 1 save)

Once upon a time, Sutter finished in the top seven in the MVP voting five times in eight years. We've seen a lot of debate recently about whether that little fact reveals anything about what kind of force he was in his prime. Well, here's the answer:

Heck yeah, it does. Let's put that in perspective:

Mariano Rivera has never finished in the top seven in any MVP election. Billy Wagner has never finished that high in any MVP election. In fact, all active relievers put together haven't made it into the top seven as many times as Sutter did it by himself.

Believe it or not, only three current relief pitchers have finished in the top seven in even one MVP election. That would be this eclectic trio:

Jose Mesa, 4th in 1995
Eric Gagne, 6th in 2003
Trevor Hoffman, 7th in 1998


Goose Gossage Gossage

As much as we've championed Sutter's cause over the years, the Hall of Fame case for Goose Gossage is -- and always has been -- better.
Just check out this list of most seasons with sub-2.00 ERAs by all closers since the invention of the modern save rule, according to Lee Sinins' Sabermetric Encyclopedia:

Mariano Rivera, 6
Goose Gossage, 4
Billy Wagner, 3
Robb Nen, 3
Rollie Fingers, 3
Dennis Eckersley, 3

We would never minimize any list that has Rivera on top. But you should remember there was one monumental difference between Gossage's sub-2.00 seasons and Rivera's:

The Goose averaged 100 innings in his four seasons on the interstate (even though one of them was the strike-shortened 1981 season). Rivera has averaged 71 2/3 innings a year in his seasons below 2.00. And you wonder how many more sub-2.00 seasons Gossage would have added if he'd been pitching 28 fewer innings a year.

Gossage was such a horse that in two of those seasons when his ERA was under 2.00, he faced more than (gulp) 500 hitters.

Since the modern save rule came along, all the other closers in history have combined for only four other seasons like that -- by Dan Quisenberry, Willie Hernandez, Jim Kern and Doug Corbett.

No active closer has faced even 400 hitters in a season in which he racked up a sub-2.00 ERA. The most: 369, by Brad Lidge in 2004. Rivera's high: 316, in 2004.

Another little item Gossage's nonvoters seem to overlook is that the Goose made more All-Star teams than any closer in history (nine). Peruse this fascinating list. (We bet the Lee Smith Fan Club will be taking notes on that runner-up group.)

All-Star appearances as a closer:
Goose Gossage, 8 (one as a starter)

Mariano Rivera, 7
Lee Smith, 7
Rollie Fingers, 7
Bruce Sutter, 6
Hoyt Wilhelm, 5

Finally, you might not have noticed if you didn't read through those voting results realllly closely. But Walt Weiss now has joined a truly distinguished group -- of men who got exactly one vote (no more, no less) in a Hall of Fame election.

So in his honor, we've sifted through the last 25 elections. And now we proudly present the All-One-Vote-For-The-Hall-Of-Fame team.

1B -- George "Boomer" Scott
2B -- Tommy Helms
SS -- Felix Millan
3B -- Toby Harrah
LF -- Mike Jorgensen
CF -- Chet Lemon
RF -- Ellis Valentine
C -- Terry Kennedy

STARTING ROTATION: Dock Ellis, Tom Browning, Bill Gullickson, Jim Bibby, Nelson Briles

BULLPEN: Dave Giusti, Mark Davis, Steve Bedrosian, Bill Campbell, Clay Carroll

Red Sox Torment Wing: Mike Torrez

Postgame Quip Squad: Jim Deshaies, John Kruk, Jose Rijo, Rick Dempsey, Lenny Dykstra, John Lowenstein

Broadcast Booth: Jerry Remy, Mike Krukow, Al Hrabosky, Ron Darling, Ray Knight

DL: Danny Tartabull

Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your Useless Information to uselessinfodept@yahoo.com.