Red Sox pitcher John Lackey
Years with Red Sox: 2010-2014 (111 games)
HOFm score: 48
John Lackey began his career with the Angels in 2002 and won his first World Series ring that year. He emerged as their ace over his eight seasons in Los Angeles. Lackey was an All-Star in 2007 when he finished third on the Cy Young ballot.
His productive career with the Angels led to Lackey signing a lucrative free-agent deal with the Red Sox in 2010 which immediately turned out to be a bust. He was a workhorse during his first season in Boston, tossing 215 innings over 33 starts, but posted an underwhelming 4.40 ERA. The following season would be the worst of his career, with Lackey producing a 6.41 ERA while leading the league in earned runs allowed and hit batters.
Tommy John surgery wiped out his entire 2012 season but Lackey came back strong the following year when he posted a 3.52 ERA and career-best 4.03 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Finally, the Red Sox were getting the pitcher they were paying for.
Unfortunately, it wouldn’t last much longer. Lackey had a unique clause in his contract that would allow the Red Sox to retain him on a club option for the major league minimum if he missed time due to a pre-existing injury – which he did when he underwent Tommy John surgery. Lackey wasn’t interested in pitching in Boston for such a low salary and there were whispers that he was threatening to retire rather than honor the agreement he made when he signed the contract.
Rather than deal with that messy situation, the Red Sox traded Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals midway through the 2015 season. He had an excellent year in 2016 when the Cardinals were able to keep him for a bargain price. Apparently he was willing to pitch for the minimum, just not in Boston.
He finished his career with the Chicago Cubs and was a part of the club that ended a championship drought that had lasted for over a century.
Lackey owned a 188-147 record, 3.92 ERA and 7.3 K/9 over 15 seasons. He only made one All-Star appearance and it came in the only season in which he was a serious Cy Young candidate. Lackey gets boost for his postseason performance, winning a World Series ring with three different franchises while going 8-6 with a 3.44 ERA in 29 career playoff games.
That’s not enough to put Lackey in the Hall of Fame conversation though. His 48 HOFm score is lower than anyone on the 2022 ballot. Peavy (56) and Crawford (53) had higher scores but didn’t receive any votes. That doesn’t necessarily tell us much considering Mark Buehrle (52) had the lowest score but still eclipsed the five percent threshold to remain on the ballot for next year. This metric clearly doesn’t factor in everything that voters consider but it gives us an idea of how players might fare on the next ballot. Buehrle had a much more accomplished career than Lackey so if he barely made the cut, it’s hard to see the former Red Sox pitcher getting much attention.
Lackey might get a few stray votes thrown his way but probably not enough to remain on the ballot in 2024 and certainly not enough to get inducted into the Hall of Fame.
With several prominent names leaving the ballot this year, it frees up room for the BBWAA to consider other options since they are limited to voting for only 10 candidates. That could result in more borderline candidates getting some additional support. It will be interesting to see if any of these former Red Sox players get any votes but it’s fair to assume none of them will be joining Ortiz as a first-ballot Hall of Famer.