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Last week the White Sox announced that they will be retiring Mark Buerhle’s #56 on June 24, 2017 during an event before the scheduled Sox game that day. Buerhle last pitched in the majors in 2015 for the Toronto Blue Jays and his slow walk into retirement seems to be a sure thing now. He is currently living in Missouri with his wife, two kids, and several rescue dogs that are just as much part of his family as his kids. Buerhle has expressed deep appreciation for the White Sox and the ceremony they have planned for him. “I’m going to be up there with all those numbers and it doesn’t seem right, like that’s where I belong,” Buehrle said. “I just did what I was supposed to do, had fun with it and lived every day like it was my last.”

White Sox fans will always be thankful for the memories they have of Mark Buerhle including a World Series Championship in 2005, a no-hitter, a perfect game, and a knack for pitching so fast that games would end about an hour earlier than expected. Sometimes our fond memories can make us think players like Buerhle are sure things when it comes to the Hall of Fame. Sox fans do the same thing with Paul Konerko. But do the numbers really back up a Hall of Fame ticket?

I once read that there are three kinds of pitchers in the Hall of Fame. 1) Pitchers who are incredibly dominant for a short period of time. Think Pedro Martinez and Sandy Kofax. 2) Pitchers with long careers where they might never be the best in a given year but they are always in the conversation and over the years they accumulate awesome career numbers. Think Tom Seaver. 3) Pitchers who do both. They are both dominant and they have long careers. Think Greg Maddux and Cy Young. If Mark Buerhle fits into one of these categories it would have to be the second one as he was never the most dominant player in any given year What he was was consistent.

Mark Buerhle pitched for 16 seasons. 12 with the White Sox, 1 forgetful year with the Marlins, and 3 with the Blue Jays to end his career. He had 214 wins and 160 losses to the tune of a .572% win-loss percentage. His career ERA is 3.81 and he struck out 1870 batters while only walking 734. He pitched 33 complete games. He was a 5-time All-Star and he won 4 straight Gold Gloves between 2009 and 2012. His best Cy-Young finish was 5th place in 2005 when he lead the league in innings pitched and, of course, he has 1 World Series ring.

When I look at these numbers I see a great career. Mark Buerhle anchored the White Sox rotation for a decade and he was to the pitching staff what Paul Konerko was to the offense. Consistent. Dependable. A leader. The Hall of Fame has pitchers who embody those traits but the voters also love their numbers. Buerhle never reached the magic numbers of 300 wins, 2,000 strike outs, or multiple Cy-Youngs. Granted, Buerhle was not a strike-out pitcher, but many Hall of Fame pitchers were not strike out pitchers and still put up better numbers. Mark Buerhle will always be a legend and Sox fans will never forget him. Even if he is not immortalized in Cooperstown you can take comfort knowing that he will be immortalized at 35th and Shields.

 

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