Elaina Pakutka Makes a Pitch for Hall of Fame Relievers
When Elaina Pakutka shares her opinion about baseball, it’s safe to say that you should listen. The Foote 8th grader has done her research. Copious, calculated research.
Her most recent project involved advocating for inducting more relief pitchers to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Right now, the Hall of Fame requires pitchers to have 10 years of professional pitching under their belt in order to be considered for a spot. Relief pitchers only pitch one or two innings a game, which handicaps their statistical achievements when compared to those who pitch for multiple innings each game. With just seven relief pitchers currently inducted into that august Cooperstown institution, Elaina feels that the importance of relief pitchers to the success of their teams is historically grossly under-represented.
In looking at how she can effect change, she turned to the data. Together with her father, John Pakutka, they reached out to more than 100 Hall of Fame voters from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America to collect feedback. They looked at the pitching careers of everyone from Mariano Rivera (the only relief pitcher to receive unanimous induction votes) to Connecticut’s own Ron Dibble, a 1990 NLCS MVP and fastest relief pitcher to 500 career strikeouts whose seven-year career does not make him eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame. Using this compiled data, the Pakutkas will take their case to the Society of American Baseball Research for review. (Read their report here.)
Elaina and John recently sat down with us to discuss their process and findings. In this kick-off podcast episode, the Pakutkas also point out how the math, research, and writing skills that Elaina has developed at Foote have played a large role in getting baseball analytics professionals to recognize the legitimacy of her work. (P.S. She's even gotten a shout-out in the Boston Globe!)
To Learn more about the Foote School visit https://www.footeschool.org