Tim Hudson is on the ballot for the first time this year. Make no mistake, as much as he flew under the radar during his career, he is just as worthy, if not more than most others hoping for enshrinement this year.
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Timothy Adam Hudson was drafted out of Chattahoochee Valley Community College (AL) in the 35th round in 1994 by the Oakland A’s. He instead transferred to Auburn University (AL) and Oakland drafted him again. This time in the 6th round of the 1997 draft. His major league career started off about as good as it could in 1999. Hudson was 11-2 with a 3.23 ERA in 21 starts. He finished with nearly a strikeout per inning and fifth in Rookie of the Year voting. In 2000 Hudson won 20 games. Even with a somewhat high ERA of 4.14, he finished second in Cy Young voting behind Pedro Martinez. Huddy also made his first All-Star team and even got a few MVP votes.
From 2001-2003, Hudson would continue being the ace for Oakland. He started 103 games, threw 713 1/3 innings, and had a 3.02 ERA. During that span, he finished top 6 in CYA voting twice. Unfortunately, in 2003, the A’s would lose their fourth straight Division Series, this time to the Boston Red Sox. Hudson pitched fairly well in the postseason for Oakland during his time, going 1-2 with a 3.34 ERA in 32 1/3 IP over his six starts. In 2004 Hudson missed six starts and all of July with an oblique injury. Heading into his final year before free agency, the A’s traded their ace to the Atlanta Braves for Juan Cruz, Dan Meyer, and Charles Thomas.
Braves and Giants
Hudson promptly signed a four-year extension with the Braves before the 2005 season. His first three seasons in Atlanta were up and down. In 2005 he looked like the usual Hudson going 14-9 with a 3.52 ERA. In 2006 walks and the home run ball got him. He surrendered 25 HRs (career-high) and allowed 79 free passes (second-most). It led directly to the worst ERA of his career (4.86). Hudson bounced back in 2007 with a 16-10 record and a 3.33 ERA in 34 starts. After 22 starts in 2008, it was discovered that Hudson had a torn UCL and required Tommy John Surgery. He returned in 2009 for seven starts to shake off the rust.
In 2010 Hudson had one of his best seasons. He went 17-9 with a 2.83 ERA and allowed a career-best 7.4 H/9. Huddy got his third All-Star nod and finished fourth in NL CYA voting. He won his 200th game on April 30, 2013 against the Washington Nationals and his Braves career ended with a fractured ankle in July of 2013. Hudson signed a two-year deal with the San Francisco Giants and went on to win a World Series with them in 2014 while collecting his fourth and final All-Star selection. After an uneventful 2015, the 40-year-old righty decided to hang up the spikes.
While wins are certainly a team stat, his 222 victories and .625 winning percentage put him in good company. His 120 ERA+ also looks good compared to some contemporaries including fellow Cooperstown hopefuls Andy Pettitte (117) and Mark Buehrle (117). Hudson has four All-Star selections and a World Series ring. He also finished in the top-6 in CYA voting four times and being runner-up to Martinez in his historic 2000 season is nothing to be ashamed of.
Hudson didn’t rack up the strikeouts. Although he had 2,080, he fell a hair shy of six K/9 for his career. He struck out 170 only once (2001) despite throwing 170+ innings 12 times. The only time he led the league in any major pitching category was in 2000 when he tied David Wells with 20 wins. While WAR doesn’t tell the whole story, Hudson is behind Pettitte and Buehrle on Baseball-Reference and even further behind on Fangraphs.
Tim Hudson had a solid career and was a very good pitcher for a long time. He got off to an excellent start, but his career plateaued and he just didn’t have the kind of peak that makes voters take notice. By Hall of Fame standards, he is below the average and will likely find himself hoping to gain the 5 percent to stick around in 2022.
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images