Former Cubs pitcher John Lackey shows up on 2023 Hall of Fame ballot

World Series - Chicago Cubs v Cleveland Indians - Game Seven
World Series - Chicago Cubs v Cleveland Indians - Game Seven / Elsa/GettyImages

He didn't come to Chicago for a haircut and, after playing a key role in erasing a 108-year championship drought, John Lackey and his three World Series rings appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time.

The burly right-hander is likely to fall short of the 5% needed to stick around a second year on the ballot, but that doesn't take away from the career he had. Over 15 years in the league, Lackey racked up 188 regular season wins, adding another eight victories in his postseason appearances, amassing 2,840 innings as a valuable workhorse for multiple organizations.

Cubs: From his rookie season on, John Lackey was a hard-nosed grinder

Of course, it all got started back in 2002 when a baby-faced Lackey finished fourth in AL Rookie of the Year voting as a member of the Angels. Anaheim knocked off Barry Bonds and the Giants in the World Series that year, giving the Halos their first championship in franchise history. Lackey got the start in Game 7 in front of the home faithful, tossing five innings of one-run ball, earning the victory in the process.

From 2003 on - for 14 straight seasons (with the exception of 2012, when he recovered from UCL reconstruction), Lackey posted double-digit win totals. I know wins and losses aren't the most forward-thinking way of evaluating pitchers, but you still have to take the ball every five days and put your team in a position to have success in order to achieve this - and that's something the right-hander consistently did during his career.

His best season with the Angels came in 2007, when he finished third in American League Cy Young voting after he led the league with a 3.01 ERA while racking up 19 wins. That year also marked the first and only All-Star selection of his big league career, setting him up nicely for his first foray into free agency following the 2008 campaign.

Lackey wound up signing a five-year deal with the Boston Red Sox and a few short years later, he had a second ring to his name. In 2013, the righty did what he always did: he ate a ton of innings and provided a veteran presence on a staff that also featured the likes of Jon Lester, Ryan Dempster and Clay Buchholz. Funnily enough, Lackey picked up the win in the deciding game of the 2013 Fall Classic, as well.

Of course, Cubs fans are happy to look past the two years he spent in St. Louis from 2014-15 and focus on his stint on the North Side. In 2016, reunited with Lester in Chicago, Lackey went 11-8 with a 3.35 ERA, playing his role perfectly on that loaded starting rotation. He closed out his time with the Cubs - and his big league career - in 2017, with Chicago falling to the Dodgers in the NLCS, the team's third consecutive appearance in the series.

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Lackey never got the credit he deserved. Even in Chicago, he put his head down and did what was asked of him, while Lester, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks garnered most of the praise. While his jouney won't end in Cooperstown, his being named on this year's Hall of Fame ballot at least allows us to tip our hats to what he did in his brief time with the Cubs.