Jeff Passan: ‘Tim Hudson Not A Hall Of Famer’

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 27: Tim Hudson #17 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at AT&T Park on May 27, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

Tim Hudson (Credit: Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

Tim Hudson is 38 years old and coming off a major injury.

Hudson, however, doesn’t seem to notice and has been one of the most effective pitchers in baseball – both this season and throughout his career. So let’s ask a question worth asking:

Is Hudson a Hall of Famer?

“I think that’s a little much,” Yahoo! Sports columnist Jeff Passan said on The John Feinstein Show. “I think he’s one of those guys who has been very good and would be a first-ballot Hall of Very Good player, but Hall of Fame is a little too much. He’s never been the best pitcher in the league, and I think part of that is due to the fact that what he does is really under-appreciated.”

“I think we’re just starting to understand now why Tim Hudson has been as successful as he is,” Passan continued. “We always knew the ground ball rate was there, which leads to fewer strikeouts. And the peripheral categories that we now look at for greatness aren’t quite as great with Tim Hudson. But what he does is he throws a sinker ball that doesn’t spin a whole lot. With the technology that’s in place these days, we now understand why some pitches that seemingly shouldn’t be effective – such as a 90-mile-per-hour sinker from a guy who stands about 5-10 and weighs 175 pounds – is a monster pitch.”

Indeed, higher spin on a fast ball gives the pitch a rising effect, and higher spin on a curve gives it a tighter break. But higher spin on a sinker? That’s no good. The less spin on a sinker, the tougher it is for a batter to square up and hit.

“That’s Tim Hudson’s secret,” Passan said. “He throws a sinker ball that doesn’t spin very much.”

The Atlanta Braves have to be kicking themselves for letting Hudson sign with San Francisco.

“I was actually shocked that the Braves let him go,” Passan said. “He just made too much sense for them, and I think they were foolish. They ended up with a rotation right now that has been patchwork for most of the season, and losing Gavin Floyd to a broken elbow certainly doesn’t help.”

In other MLB news, the San Diego Padres fired general manager Josh Byrnes this past weekend after three years of futility. San Diego went 76-86 in each of the last two seasons and was 32-43 and 12.5 games back in the NL West at the time of Byrnes’ dismissal.

“Josh Byrnes got fired because the Padres needed a scapegoat,” Passan said. “He’s done a couple of things fairly well, and he’s done a couple of things not so well.”

Among the “well” things? Byrnes increased San Diego’s payroll by nearly $40 million. Among the “not-so-well” things? He signed Cameron Maybin and Jedd Gyorko to long-term contracts.

“The Padres are in this perpetual place where, because of their market, they’re acting like the woe-is-me Little Sisters of the Poor,” Passan said. “It’s unfortunate, but the Padres look like they had a decent core in place and now they’re barely ahead of the Diamondbacks, (who got off to a slow start). It’s just been a bad, bad fall for San Diego. You wonder if a new person comes in and just blows up what they have.”

Passan was surprised Byrnes got fired in that his contract ran through 2017. In other words, that’s a lot of money to eat. But firing, say, Bud Black would have made zero sense.

“Bud Black would get hired tomorrow,” Passan said. “Someone would get fired so Bud Black could get hired.”

Passan maintained that the Padres had the right people in place; it just didn’t work out.

“These days, the process seems not to matter as much as the outcome,” he said. “In truth, if you are trying to build something that has long-term success, process must come before outcome – and the process was right here.”


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