Just as 2019 was a record-setting season for home runs (6,776), it also set a new standard for strikeouts (42,823). Amid all that whiffing, both CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander notched their 3,000th career strikeout, becoming the 17th and 18th pitchers in baseball history to reach the milestone, with Sabathia becoming just the third lefty to do it, after Steve Carlton and Randy Johnson.
Recording 3,000 strikeouts is a major milestone for Hall of Fame purposes. From among the 16 other pitchers who have reached the mark, only Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling are outside the Hall, and the latter is likely headed there next year after receiving 70% in last week's balloting. Sabathia and Verlander significantly increased their odds of being enshrined in Cooperstown by reaching that plateau, and each had notable achievements in 2019 that further augmented their eventual cases. The outsized Yankees southpaw, despite making four trips to the injured list in his final season, notched his 250th victory on June 19 against the Rays, while the Astros' power righty, still with plenty of gas in his tank, spun his third no-hitter on Sept. 1 against the Blue Jays.
Who will take significant steps in 2020 toward eventual Hall of Fame election? Here's a look at five candidates, based on both traditional accomplishments and advanced statistics, mainly centered on my JAWS (Jaffe WAR Score) system, which takes the average of a player's career WAR and his seven-year peak WAR (Baseball-Reference.com) for comparison to that of the average Hall of Famer at his position.