MLB

Why Isn’t Orel Hershiser in the MLB Hall of Fame?

In 1988, a young MLB pitcher made headlines as he worked his way toward smashing the record for consecutive scoreless innings pitched. After pitching a record 59 consecutive scoreless innings, Orel Hershiser’s famous streak came to an end on April 5, 1989.

The three-time All-Star played 18 seasons in the MLB, broke records, and had a career 3.48 ERA. With so many accolades to his name, why hasn’t Hershiser earned a spot in the MLB Hall of Fame?

Orel Hershiser’s start with the Dodgers

Orel Hershiser of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in 1986
Orel Hershiser of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in 1986 | Bud Symes/Getty Images

Hershiser began his MLB career with the LA Dodgers and remains one of the most unforgettable Dodgers of the modern era. Selected in the 17th round of the 1979 MLB draft, he played in the minor leagues for five seasons. Then, on September 1, 1983, the Dodgers finally called Hershiser up.

While the pitcher accumulated personal accolades, it wasn’t until 1988 that he really made a name for himself. Not only was this year the start of his streak, but the Dodgers and Hershiser won the 1988 World Series, too. Ultimately, Hershiser earned MVP honors for his World Series performance.

Success followed Hershiser the following year as he received the 1989 National League Cy Young Award and finished the 1989 season with a 2.69 ERA.

Has Hershiser’s career earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame?

If you look at Hershiser’s first six years in the league, he would be a shoo-in for the MLB Hall of Fame. However, the 12 mediocre seasons that followed this spell of brilliance leave Hershiser looking from the outside in.

The pitcher’s abilities and career went significantly downhill in 1990. During this season, Hershiser started feeling stiffness in his right shoulder. As it turned out, he’d torn a labrum in his golden pitching arm. While Hershiser did return from the injury and extend his career for 10 more seasons, he never reached the stats he did in the ’80s.

After Hershiser went 28-35 with a 3.67 ERA between the 1992 and 1994 seasons, the Dodgers decided not to resign him. This left Hershiser a free-agent at 36 years old. Eventually, Cleveland picked him up for the 1995 season. He played for the Indians through the 1997 season, finishing his last year with the team with an unimpressive 4.47 ERA. 

The last three seasons of Hershiser’s MLB career saw three teams. In 1998, he represented the San Francisco Giants. The following season he played for the New York Mets. Finally, Hershiser returned to where it all started, ending his final MLB season with the Dodgers in 2000. At 41 years of age, Hershiser finished his last season with a disheartening 13.14 ERA.

So, does he deserve a spot among the greats in the Hall of Fame? Hershiser’s fans, who recall the impressive stats he put up in the ’80s, would answer with a resounding yes. It’s true that Hershiser had an incredible run; his average ERA throughout these seasons was an impressive 2.69. 

Opponents of Hershiser becoming a Hall of Famer will look to his last 11 seasons in the league. Hershiser had a remarkable 18-year MLB career with strokes of brilliance. However, his accumulative stats are mediocre at best. Do you think Hershiser’s impressive ’80s run should earn him a place in the MLB Hall of Fame?  

Hershiser’s life after baseball 

After his last MLB season in 2000, Hershiser began a new career in broadcasting. He’s had several stints with ESPN and now works as part of the primary broadcast team for Dodgers baseball.

Along with his broadcasting career, the 61-year-old has found success competing in poker. The former pitcher even played in the 2008 World Series of Poker. Regardless of whether ever makes it into the Hall of Fame, Hershiser can hang his hat on an impressive 18-season MLB career.