With the dominance of St. Louis Cardinals‘ ace Adam Wainwright apparent for all the world to see, it’s fun to look at his body of work and see where he stands in terms of making the Hall of Fame. “Waino”, as he is affectionately called, was acquired in 2003 along with pitchers Jason Marquis and Ray King from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for J.D. Drew and Eli Marerro – not the Braves’ sharpest front office moment. Marquis, though not highly touted, has also amassed 121 wins in a solid if unspectacular career. This means the Braves traded away over 200 wins and counting.
While Marquis will only make Cooperstown as a spectator, Wainwright is a different story. Only 32, Wainwright has totaled 104 wins so far and was a key member of the 2006 World Series championship team. According to Baseball Reference, Wainwright has 28.7 career WAR, and the average HOF pitcher is somewhere over 73 for their career. Assuming he stays healthy and continues to deliver stellar performances this season, it is easy to believe he could be at roughly 35 WAR starting his age 33 season.
What then would he need to do to hit 73 WAR? Well, he would have to average somewhere around six WAR for seven more seasons. This would put him at age 40, and over the course of that time frame would likely have won 15-20 games per year. This would likely mean he passes Bob Gibson‘s 251 win total for his career. Doing that, with a maintenance of his superb .642 win percentage, would almost assuredly make Wainwright a first ballot entrant to the Hall.
But how likely is any of this? A Tommy John surgery patient in 2011, one is always wary of another major injury. Also like with hitting, “stuff” tends to wane as a pitcher reaches his mid 30s. But Wainwright shows no signs of his injury, and he’s becoming a masterful pitcher with pinpoint control and complete game stamina. Couple this with the long-term prospects for the Cardinals’ offense to be very good, and I believe Waino has a better than 50-50 shot at making the Hall one day.