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Hall of Merit
— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Thursday, December 28, 2017

2018 Hall of Merit Election Results: Chipper, Thome, Rolen and Vlad Elected!

The Hall of Merit welcomes four new members. Chipper Jones was the unanimous #1 this year, receiving all 30 first place votes. Jim Thome (653) edged Scott Rolen (617) for second place. Rolen had more second place votes (13-12), but Thome had 14 third place votes to Rolen’s 9. Both were named on all 30 ballots. All three were selected in their first year of eligibility.

Vladimir Guerreo is the final electee, with 290 points in his second year of eligibility. He was named on 21 ballots. Guerrero beat out Luis Tiant (240), Sammy Sosa (238), Kenny Lofton (236), Andruw Jones (220), Jeff Kent (207), Ben Taylor (197) and Johan Santana (186) for the final spot. Jones and Santana were the only other first time candidates to receive votes this year.

Others named on at least six ballots (point totals/votes listed) included Buddy Bell (139/11), Bobby Bonds (124/10), Jorge Posada (105/7), Vic Willis (102/11), Sal Bando (95/8), Bob Johnson (89/10), Urban Shocker (87/8), Wally Schang (86/8), Dick Redding (86/6), Tommy Bridges (84/8), Tommy John (82/6), Phil Rizzuto (73/6), and Thurman Munson (62/6).

RK   LY  Player             PTS  Bal   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12 13 14 15
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 1  n/e  Chipper Jones      720   30  30                                          
 2  n/e  Jim Thome          653   30     12 14  1  3                              
 3  n/e  Scott Rolen        617   30     13  9  1  2  3        1     1            
 4    4  Vladimir Guerrero  290   21      1     2  4  1  2  1  4  3     1  1  1   
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 5    6  Luis Tiant         240   20               4  2  2  3  1  1     2  4     1
 6    5  Sammy Sosa         238   19            2     2  2  4  1  4     1  1  1  1
 7    9  Kenny Lofton       236   18         1  2  3  1  1  1  1  1  2  2  1  1  1
 8  n/e  Andruw Jones       220   16      1     3  1  1  3     1     2  1     2  1
 9    7  Jeff Kent          207   15      1  1  2  1  1  1  2           2  3  1   
10   11  Ben Taylor         197   16            2  1  1  4  1        1     3  3   
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
11  n/e  Johan Santana      186   15      1           3  1  1  4     3        1  1
12   12  Buddy Bell         139   11            2  1  1     1     2     1  1  2   
13   10  Bobby Bonds        124   10      1     1           1  2  1  2           2
14   14  Jorge Posada       105    7            2  1  1        1  1     1         
15    8  Vic Willis         102   11                           1  3  1  2  2  1  1
16   20  Sal Bando           95    8                  2  2     1     1  1        1
17   15  Bob Johnson         89   10                        1     1  2  2  1  1  2
18   16  Urban Shocker       87    8            1           1  1  1     1  1  1  1
19   19  Wally Schang        86    8            1     1              2  1  1  1  1
20   17T Dick Redding        86    6            1  1  2     1                    1
21   13  Tommy Bridges       84    8            1     1        1     1     1     3
22   21  Tommy John          82    6         2                 1  1        1  1   
23   17T Phil Rizzuto        73    6            1        2        1           1  1
24   28  Thurman Munson      62    6                  1        1  1  1     1     1
25   37T Hilton Smith        59    5            1        1        1           1  1
26   24  Gavy Cravath        57    5                     1  2           1  1      
27   27  Bert Campaneris     55    5                  1  1        1        1  1   
28   25  Bucky Walters       54    5               1              2     1     1   
29   22  Hugh Duffy          54    4            1        1  1                    1
30   48  Joe Tinker          49    5                        1        1  2  1      
31   33  Tommy Leach         48    4                  1     1  1           1      
32   23  Don Newcombe        46    4               1                 3            
33T  55T Babe Adams          44    3            1           1        1            
33T  26  Jim McCormick       44    3            1        1              1         
35   29  Bus Clarkson        41    3               1  1              1            
36   43T Art Fletcher        40    4                     2                       2
37   31T Mickey Welch        38    4                        1        1     1  1   
38   45T Orel Hershiser      36    3                     1  1           1         
39   30  Frank Chance        34    4                              1  1        1  1
40   68T Kevin Appier        31    3                        1           2         
41   37T Vern Stephens       31    2            1                    1            
42   40  Luke Easter         29    2         1                                1   
43   --  Ray Dandridge       28    2               1           1                  
44T  34  Fred McGriff        24    2                  1                 1         
44T  39  Bobby Veach         24    2               1                       1      
46   47  Dizzy Dean          22    2                              2               
47T  45T Lou Brock           22    1         1                                    
47T  49  Addie Joss          22    1         1                                    
49   50T Trevor Hoffman      20    2                           1           1      
50   42  Bob Elliott         19    2                           1              1   
51T  54  Brian Giles         16    2                                 1           1
51T  36  Dale Murphy         16    2                                    1     1   
53T  31T Ed Cicotte          16    1               1                              
53T  57  Dolf Luque          16    1               1                              
53T  55T Jack Quinn          16    1               1                              
56T  --  Andy Cooper         15    1                  1                           
56T  --  Mickey Lolich       15    1                  1                           
58T  59T Ernie Lombardi      14    1                     1                        
58T  59T Lee Smith           14    1                     1                        
60   43T John Olerud         13    2                                          1  1
61T  52  Nomar Carciaparra   13    1                        1                     
61T  59T Dwight Gooden       13    1                        1                     
61T  53  Billy Wagner        13    1                        1                     
64T  35  Tommy Bond          12    1                           1                  
64T  --  Kiki Cuyler         12    1                           1                  
64T  65T Luis Gonzalez       12    1                           1                  
64T  41  Tony Mullane        12    1                           1                  
68T n/e  Jamie Moyer         11    1                              1               
68T  50T Kirby Puckett       11    1                              1               
70   68T Ron Cey             10    1                                 1            
71T  71T Frank Tanana         9    1                                    1         
71T  --  Robin Ventura        9    1                                    1         
73   --  Willie Davis         8    1                                       1      
74T  71T Carlos Delgado       7    1                                          1   
74T  --  Gil Hodges           7    1                                          1   
74T  --  Hack Wilson          7    1                                          1   
77T  75T Luis Aparicio        6    1                                             1
77T  65T Dave Concepcion      6    1                                             1
77T  75T Johnny Evers         6    1                                             1
77T  73T Lefty Gomez          6    1                                             1
Dropped Out: Dave Bancroft (64), Charlie Buffinton (58), George J. Burns(75T), Norm Cash(73T),
Fred Dunlap(75T), Toby Harrah(68T), Jim Kaat(65T), Pie Traynor(75T), George Uhle(75T),
Frank Viola(63), Ed Williamson(59T).
Ballots Cast: 30
JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: December 28, 2017 at 11:14 AM | 32 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. MattB Posted: January 10, 2002 at 02:56 PM (#509506)
So, once I decide who to vote for, how do I get a ballot?

How often will elections take place?

Okay, those are more questions than suggestions.

As for voting, I'd recommending giving more "points" to the people above the cut-off point. E.g., if you're letting in the top two vote-getters, then the top two vote getters should get disproportionate points since these are the people the voters actually think should "get in." Otherwise, in a year with a wide open ballot (as the first few look like they'll be, a person who gets lots of third place votes, but no first or second place votes could more easily end up in the top two, even though no individual voters thought they were hall-worthy. I'd suggest, for ten person ballot with two potential inductees, 14-11-8-7-6 . . .
   2. MattB Posted: January 10, 2002 at 03:04 PM (#509451)
Is ten years a minimum requirement for induction? I haven't heard of everyone on the list above, and I of course have to think about everything, but right now I'm thinking my top 10 list from pre-1911 would have Ross Barnes on it. Being the best player in the entire history of a league has to be worth some points, even if he only played in parts of nine seasons.
   3. MattB Posted: January 10, 2002 at 04:25 PM (#509508)
Craig says: "The reason I like the 14-9-8 system, though, is that it truly focuses the discussion, and the voter's mind, on the question of "who is the _best_ available candidate?" which is the ideal question to be asking."

Despite your initial assertion, it looks like in the end we're actually agreeing. Except that instead of asking who is the _best_ available candidate, I would ask, who are the _two_best_ available candidates (assuming two people will be elected each time.) That's why I'd disproportionately weigh the top two votes.

It's very hard to separate the concept of second best/ third best from the concept of in/out, when you know that the second best is in, and the third best is out.

My question, then, is whether you'd want to accept "incomplete ballots." If a ballot only contains one name (say, Cy Young), the voter is likely saying that only Young is Hall-worthy (under whatever standard). Obviously, there will be a second best player, irrespective of you think that person is Meritorious or not.
   4. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 10, 2002 at 06:18 PM (#509455)
I wouldn't like to see a ten-year requirement with the Hall of Merit. I think players such as Ross Barnes and Addie Joss are hurt by such a rule, even though they were worthy stars at their peak (especially Barnes). In fact, the writers realized this by ignoring their rule by inducting Joss themselves. Since (I assume) we are tring to find the best players of all-time by a combination of peak and career performance, I say let's have an open field.

By the way, if he were to be elected, Ned Williamson's first name in the Hall should be Ed. Might as well go with the name he used as a player.
   5. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 10, 2002 at 06:42 PM (#509456)
One thing I would like to hear is some feedback on allowing a two- player limit for each year that the Hall of Merit would cover. If we are covering players from 1871-present, this would allow into the pantheon about 260 players (obviously some would not be eligible yet). Of course, there would have to be an acceleration program so we would be able to catch up to our era in a reasonable amount of time. Maybe we can reduce it to a one-player limit for most of the pre-AL years because there were fewer teams. My idea is that we should have the best .05% of players in the Hall. Just a thought.
   6. Lujack Posted: January 10, 2002 at 06:56 PM (#509457)
John, I don't think entry to the hall of merit needs to be that stringent. Out of the 15,000 players that have ever played in the majors, only .05% (or 8) would make it in the hall of merit?
   7. J. Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: January 10, 2002 at 07:16 PM (#509510)
Certainly, though, we should have a date in mind for the election. We (or in a pinch, the Hall administrators) can always postpone if it seems appropriate.

One thing I've been thinking of is the idea of having at least two votes for the 1915 election. Because of the multiplicity of candidates from 1871-1910, a "straw poll" would go a long way to focusing people on the best candidates. The more of these "straw poll" votes there are, the better the chances that we won't be accidentally inflating or deflating someone's credentials.

A straw poll can either be done informally on the website, or probably instead by e-mail, and I will certainly volunteer to tabulate ballots (if the number isn't 5000 or something). Plus, it will give us something to argue and electioneer about. If things go well, I can see having a straw poll before spring training opens.

Once we begin, of course, the previous years' votes will accomplish this just as well.
   8. MattB Posted: January 10, 2002 at 08:03 PM (#509460)
Robert quotes Joe: "Following this procedure, we'll have 218 honorees after the 2002 ceremony."

That's fine if you want the 218 best players, which sounds like a fine number. Alternatively, you could alternate between two and three players each year 1915-2002, and also get 218 through 2002. Why should the voting procedure change for 1977 to account for more players, if the third best player who will now get in may not have played since 1901? Also, what makes the third or fourth player on the the later ballots more worthy, just because they played against a greater number of opponents? As a reductio ad absurdum, if the major leagues expanded from 30 to 3,000 teams next season, would everyone on the Baltimore Orioles suddenly become eligible for the Hall, as they'd now be among the top 1% of all players? (well, maybe not Brook Fordyce).

On the other hand, why start electing five people for 1915 and 1916? If the 10th best player from this group is one of the 218th best players in history, he should get in through some subsequent election. If not, he shouldn't be in at all.

Not trying to be confrontational. Just raising some issues.
   9. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 10, 2002 at 08:06 PM (#509461)
Hi, Lujack. I screwed up-it should have been .5% (not .05%). I should have explained my idea better. If we were talking, for example, about baseball from 1901-1960, we are talking the magic "400" players per year.
   10. J. Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: January 11, 2002 at 12:08 AM (#509514)
Mark,

I think that asking voters to place some justification on their ballots will go a long way to eliminating the sort of "pure" strategic voting you're talking about. In the end, though, isn't most strategic voting simply voting? If I want Player X to make it into the Hall more than anyone else, then I'm going to vote him first. I think it's legitimate.

Robert,

The idea of breaking up the candidates into groups and straw-polling the voters on each group is fantastic, a massive improvement on my idea.

March 15 seems like a good idea for a straw poll on players who played in the NA. Any other suggestions for groups to poll on separately? These sorts of straw polls could be very informal, even down to asking for reply posts on a blog entry with, say, 5 names in order.
   11. jimd Posted: January 11, 2002 at 02:14 AM (#509517)
If we were to deviate from the MVP weightings, here is a suggestion.

We are electing a certain pre-defined number of players each election. The gap in the weighting could occur after that number of players. For example: when electing 1 player, it would be the traditional 14-9-8-7... When electing 2 players, it would go like 14-13-8-7-...

In other words, each voter is selecting the 10 most qualified candidates, and candidates are getting 4 bonus points for being in the top N spots on the ballot, where N is the number to be elected.

I would also allow voters to stop before 10 if they cannot in good conscience find 10 qualified candidates. You shouldn't have to vote for candidates you do not believe merit inclusion.
   12. jimd Posted: January 11, 2002 at 02:41 AM (#509518)
As far as attempting to manipulate the voting, there is no voting system designed that cannot be manipulated in some way, by an organized group. (A mathematical economist named Arrow proved that, by defining a set of criteria for a voting system to satisfy and then proving they were contradictory.)

Individual biases will be swamped by the size of the electorate, so there should be no problem, unless underground groups start to organize (Committee to Elect Candy Cummings to the Hall of Merit).
   13. jimd Posted: January 11, 2002 at 01:53 PM (#509521)
As far as attempting to manipulate the voting, there is no voting system designed that cannot be manipulated in some way, by an organized group. (A mathematical economist named Arrow proved that, by defining a set of criteria for a voting system to satisfy and then proving they were contradictory.)

Individual biases will be swamped by the size of the electorate, so there should be no problem, unless underground groups start to organize (Committee to Elect Candy Cummings to the Hall of Merit).
   14. jimd Posted: January 11, 2002 at 02:10 PM (#509522)
Sorry, for the duplicate post; I guess my browser was in a wierd state this morning.
   15. jimd Posted: January 11, 2002 at 02:32 PM (#509467)
I know that the screen was for 10 years minimum (with no editing), but here's a few names that may draw a couple more vote points than Jim Clinton.

I suggest including Al Spalding, Harry Wright, Candy Cummings, and Cal McVey from the National Association years, and Guy Hecker from the American Association. These guys have some black ink points to their credit at least. (Also, if they've already been selected by the competition, then their credentials may be worth investigating.)
   16. MattB Posted: January 11, 2002 at 03:40 PM (#509468)
At the risk of being too substantive in what has become a very procedural thread, I thought the Hall of Merit concept would be a good way for me to fill in my knowledge of old ballplayers. So, taking it systematically, I spend a few hours yesterday looking at all the pitchers (position #1 if your keeping score) who played exclusively from 1871-1890.

I made a sort of rough Bill James-style ?Top 16 Pitchers? list with comments. I?d be interested in comments on my comments, since my knowledge is very limited, and it seems that which league you played in affected your stats a lot. I think this sort of discussion would be useful to someone whose anyone like me, and has no vested interest in the relative merits of people who died before my grandparents left Europe.

Anyway, here goes:

1. Jim McCormick

Pitched for 10 years for some bad teams and still ended up with a 265-214 record. I saw no one else on my list who pitched for as long and had an ERA+ over 100 for all but one (his last) year. In 1879, he led the league in losses, but was an above-average pitcher. McCormick was a player manager that season and the next (bizarrely, only managing at the beginning of his career), and was smart enough to keep sending himself out there despite accumulating 40 losses. His self-confidence paid off, and the next year he led the league in wins.

In 1883 for the Cleveland Blues he went a respectable 28-12, but what was amazing was that he lost even 12 games. His ERA was 1.84, 70% above average. That year, Cleveland had the best pitching in the league, (due primarily to McCormick), but the next to worst offense. (Their starting catcher that year slugged a non-lead-leading .195).

Bill James makes a persuasive case in his new book that the Union Association should not be considered a major league. I?m therefore significantly discounting his 21-3 UA record, but even there, his ERA+ of 203 led the league, and he only lost three games despite the fact that he was not pitching for the league-destroying St. Louis Maroons.

2. Al Spalding

Spalding was the best pitcher in the history of the National Association, which should be worth something. He was a career 253-65, and led the NA is wins, and was either first of second in ERA, for every year that it existed as a major league (1871-1875). He also led the National League in wins in its first year, and his career ERA+ of 142 is nothing to sneeze at. In 1875, he went a sufficiently dominant 55-5, and still managed to pick up 8 saves to lead the league in that stat as well. I haven?t checked, but I doubt anyone else has ever led a league in wins and saves in the same year.

One thing I?ve noticed about 19th century pitchers, is that generally their career is likely to skip the ?decline? phase. I guess when you have one guy pitching all of your innings, there?s not much glamour in being the number two pitcher on the team. After a dominant debut in the National League, Spalding seems to have gotten hit by a bus (or, maybe, a riverboat). He pitched 4 games in 1877, and came back to play second base one day in 1878. Unlike McCormick, above, Spalding is in the Hall of Fame.

3. Jim Whitney

Jim Whitney led the National League with 31 wins in 1881, but, as was not uncommon for pitchers who started so often, he went 31-33 and also led the league in losses. His career mark of 191-204 is unimpressive, but he had a few great seasons. From 1883-87, he led the league in fewest walks per nine innings, which is of unclear significance, as the balls per walk rule was dropping slowly from 9 balls to 5 balls over this period. In 1883, he also led the league in strikeout rate.

A word is probably appropriate here about gray ink. For nineteenth century pitchers they?re pretty worthless. I mean, if you?ve got eight teams and one pitcher pitching all the innings on your team, ranking number eight gives you gray ink, but it also means you?re the worst starter in the league. Whitney has a lot of gray ink.

4. Bobby Mathews

I guess it?s not much of a compliment to say someone is just like a Hall of Fame pitcher ? on offense. But that?s Bobby Mathews. While his ?similar pitchers? list on baseball-reference.com lists six Hall of Famers, his ?similar batters? list has eight, and its an altogether more impressive group. Steve Carlton, Christy Mathewson, Pete Alexander . . . all ten have similarity scores above 900 ? as batters. I don?t know if there?s a Hall of Fame style of batting for pitchers, but it might be worth looking into. I mean, could you look at Mathews, see his batting line of .205/ .225/ .230 over 2487 at bats, and conclude, ?Now, that?s a Hall of Fame pitcher!? I doubt it, but all those asterisks on the bottom of the page have to mean something.

Mathews career path is unusual. He was great from ages 20-24, and again from 30-33, but the heart of his career, when most player peak, Mathews was mediocre at best. This inverted bell curve could just be an aberration, or it could mean that Mathews actually peaked early (at 24), and that the rebirth at age 30 is a result of a switch to a generally weaker league. He moved from the NL to the AA in 1883 and won 30 games three years in a row, after winning 39 games the last four seasons combined. I?m placing him fourth under the assumption that the AA was a weaker league. If that?s wrong and Mathews just needed a change of scenery, he?d move up to third.

5. Tommy Bond

His career ERA+ is an impressive 111, but he was only over 100 for five of his ten seasons. His two best seasons, 1875-6, were spectacular, but Candy Cummings was actually the best pitcher for Hartford in those seasons. When he moved to Boston the next year and became the number one pitcher, he had a few more solid seasons, and led the league in ERA a few times, but he seems to have peaked at 19 years old. He had a last hurrah in the Union Association, but was out of baseball at 28.

6. Candy Cummings

Cummings was pretty much Tommy Bond without the slow decline years, which I?m not sure should be considered a plus or a minus. He only played in six seasons, but was great in five of them. Unlike Bond, he was never the best pitcher in the league.

7. Dick McBride

Probably the second or third best National Association pitcher, but didn?t survive the conversion to the National League.

8. Larry Corcoran

Five solid years with the Cubs, but was never the dominant pitcher in the league.

9. Will White

Led the league in losses in 1880, which seems to be the nineteenth century sign of a pitcher about to bloom. The bloom came when he moved to the American Association in 1882, and like Bobby Mathews, may rank higher if AA stats are closer to NL stats than they seem. Loses points, however, for his listed nickname of ?Whoop-La,? but not as many as Lady Baldwin (see below).

10. George Bradley

It must have been nice to have all those leagues back then. After finishing up a seven year NL career one win over .500 (based primarily on a dominant centennial year performance), he got a second chance, going 16-7 for the American Association, and then the next year got a third chance, going 25-15 for the Union Association. .600 in the Union Association wasn?t good enough to land him a job in 1885, though.

11. Guy Hecker

Good, durable American Association pitcher, with a career ERA+ of 114, and 173 wins. Will rank higher in the American Association is a better league than I think it is.

12. George Zeittlein

Career 129-112. After the 1871 season, he could truthfully claim he was greatest pitcher in the history of major league baseball. It was all downhill from there, but that?s not too surprising when the major leagues don?t get created until you?re 26 years old.

13. Ed Morris

Great American Association pitcher who didn?t convert well to the National League

14. Dan Casey

At 24, most similar to Steve Carlton; at 25, most similar to Elmer Smith. ?Nuff said.

15. Charlie Sweeney

Best pitcher of 1884, turning in excellent performances in the National League, as well as the Union Association. But there wasn?t much else there. He was 41-15 in 1884, 23-38 the rest of his career.

16. Lady Baldwin

He was the best pitcher of 1886 (42-13), but was only 31-28 the rest of his career. Loses points for an emasculating nickname. Loses even more points because his real name, ?Charles Busted Baldwin? makes me just want to curl up in pain and die.
   17. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 11, 2002 at 04:35 PM (#509524)
Hi Dan. The only caveat that I would use concerning evaluating a pitcher by ERA+ is that you have to take into account the standard deviation of the league. There will always be more pitchers that will meet your requirement from early baseball than now because of less competition back then. Is Reulbach as good a pitcher as someone from today with identical ERA+? I would say no.
   18. scruff Posted: January 11, 2002 at 05:44 PM (#509469)
Hey there guys, great disucssion so far! I've been out of town the last few days, this is the first chance I've had to read the threads.

I think Robert has answered the procedural issues. There is one point I'd like to make about players early in the 1871-1910 period vs. players who starred later.

While I agree the players who played later in the period are generally better, we need to be careful to be too harsh on the early players. Those players were winning championships as well, and that does count for something. We are not strictly rewarding ability, we are awarding value as well. I'm not sure what the perfect balance would be between "ability" and "value", but I'm pretty sure it isn't 100/0. It's probably more like 50/50 or 40/60, at least in my opinion. I'm curious as to what you guys think of this, it's a very important issue for the first elections.

MattB -- great work. I'll have a few comments of my own later.
   19. scruff Posted: January 11, 2002 at 06:09 PM (#509525)
As for the ballot issue, I think voters should have to fill out a complete ballot. It really has nothing to do with who a voter thinks is "worthy". What I mean is, that "worthy" will be determined by who gets the most points. Since we are electing a set number of candidates, a 9th place vote serves an important purpose, in terms of a preliminary ranking for the next election.

We are trying to get away from the thinking with the current Hall, where voters have to pick up to 10 that they think are "worthy". We aren't asking the same question. The question we are asking is, "who are the 10 best, non-members that are eligibile?" It's a much different question.

John -- there are other caveats for using ERA+. For one, it doesn't take into account the defense behind the pitcher, which could have a large impact. Also it doesn't take into account the innings pitched relative to the top pitchers in the league, L-R leanings of his park, etc. Who's the better pitcher, the lefty with an ERA+ of 130 in Yankee Stadium, or the righty? Both pitchers were of the same value, but the righty probably had more "ability", which has to balanced.

I also really like the straw poll idea. We could also do straw polls by position.
   20. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 11, 2002 at 06:22 PM (#509526)
Hi Scruff. I wasn't ignoring your caveats in my last posting, but commenting on that one particular problem that I saw in Dan's posting. You're right - there is no perfect statistical tool for evaluating any one player. That's why I abandoned the Palmer-Thorn ratings 16 years ago. I'm happy that I haven't heard anybody mention establishing statistical guidelines for what a Hall of Meriter should be. The mistakes would probably be more serious than what we have now in the Hall of Fame!
   21. scruff Posted: January 11, 2002 at 07:08 PM (#509528)
As for the ballot issue, I think voters should have to fill out a complete ballot. It really has nothing to do with who a voter thinks is "worthy". What I mean is, that "worthy" will be determined by who gets the most points. Since we are electing a set number of candidates, a 9th place vote serves an important purpose, in terms of a preliminary ranking for the next election.

We are trying to get away from the thinking with the current Hall, where voters have to pick up to 10 that they think are "worthy". We aren't asking the same question. The question we are asking is, "who are the 10 best, non-members that are eligibile?" It's a much different question.

John -- there are other caveats for using ERA+. For one, it doesn't take into account the defense behind the pitcher, which could have a large impact. Also it doesn't take into account the innings pitched relative to the top pitchers in the league, L-R leanings of his park, etc. Who's the better pitcher, the lefty with an ERA+ of 130 in Yankee Stadium, or the righty? Both pitchers were of the same value, but the righty probably had more "ability", which has to balanced.

I also really like the straw poll idea. We could also do straw polls by position.
   22. scruff Posted: January 11, 2002 at 07:12 PM (#509529)
Sorry about the double post. Not sure what happened.

As to the issue about Reulbach -- Dan, if Brown and Matty retired around Ruelbach and those are elected on the first ballot they are eligible for (for argument's sake) all that means is Reulbach will be delayed a year. They might finish 1. Matty, 2. Brown, 3. Reulbach. If Matty and Brown are elected, Reulbach will be the top returning candidate the following year. Assuming no one better than him becomes eligible, he'll go in that year.

From your posts it sounds like you think we are only allowing players one ballot, but that's not the case. Everyone who isn't elected will carry over to the following ballot.
   23. scruff Posted: January 11, 2002 at 07:14 PM (#509530)
One other thing Dan, when thinking up the idea, I was thinking that only on-field accomplishments will be considered. If people feel strongly otherwise we'll discuss it, but I feel pretty strongly that off the field accomplishments should not be considered.
   24. jimd Posted: January 11, 2002 at 07:16 PM (#509531)
>> The question we are asking is, "who are the 10 best, non-members that are eligibile?"
   25. MattB Posted: January 11, 2002 at 07:32 PM (#509532)
Scruff wrote: "One other thing Dan, when thinking up the idea, I was thinking that only on-field accomplishments will be considered. If people feel strongly otherwise we'll discuss it, but I feel pretty strongly that off the field accomplishments should not be considered."

Do on-field accomplishments include coaching/ managing?

How about Rick Dempsey flopping around on the field during rain delays?
   26. DanG Posted: January 11, 2002 at 08:45 PM (#509447)
Like you all, I have thought a lot about how a hall of fame ought to be structured and what sort of system would ensure a worthy membership. I thought I?d offer some of my suggestions.

The first thing to do is forget any of the rules that govern the current hall. Don?t try and modify a flawed system. In this exercise, let?s start from scratch.

Here are a few of the main issues:

How Many Players

You?re absolutely right in establishing now exactly how many guys we?re going to enshrine each year. I?ve always tried to figure it on a percentage basis.

My Bill James electronic Encyclopedia goes up to 1996. It says that there are 14,555 players up to that time (presumably beginning in 1876). It also says there were 1,006 players active in 1996. So through 1995 there were 13,549 retired players. The HOF website says there are 188 players in the Hall to 2001 (not sure where you got 215; you must be including some blacks and managers). Using these numbers shows 1.388% of retired players as hall of famers.

We aim to eventually elect a similar proportion. The BJE also shows 3,417 players through 1911 with 537 active in 1911, giving us 2,880 retired players through 1910. Applying our percentage gives us 40 players. I?m inclined to agree with the idea that, given the rapid improvements made in the game up to that time, a lower number than that is OK for the early days. How much lower is open to debate.

You might use a structure like this: let?s aim for .8% representation by the 1935 election (44 enshrinees), 1.0% by 1955 (77 players), 1.2% by 1975 (117 players), and 1.4% by 1995 (170 players).

Or just keep it simple. After our original ten (see First Election, below), elect two per year. That would give us 182 hall of famers through 2001. If you wanted a few more, go to three per year some time in the 1980?s or 90?s.

First Election

It?s always seemed to me that when you?re establishing a Hall, the first thing you do is elect an all-time team. I suggest we do that, too.

The first election should be a positional vote. For the 100-player ballot have ten candidates at each position and 20 pitchers. Elect a ten-man team, including two pitchers. Have voters rank #1 to 3 at each position, #1-5 for pitchers.

This helps us in several ways. It gets us immediate representation at every position; it clears away a stack of obvious choices; it ensures a healthy representation for 19th-century players; it gives our hall?s roster a nice membership right away.

Retirement Year

First, an aside: what?s the point of the five-year wait for eligibility? The hall was not founded with this rule. If the point is to enable us to focus the lens of history more accurately, removed from the emotional issues of a player?s career, well, two years would seem to be enough for this.

Anyway, for our purposes this isn?t relevant. We?re starting with players retired in 1910 or earlier. This requires us to define what is a ?retired player?. It?s easy to assume that the definition is ?the year he played his last game?. For 98% of players that?s fine. However, this doesn?t always work so well.

It?s an especially important issue for our first election. Here?s why. Hughie Jennings was long retired in 1910, finishing up in 1903. He became a manager and put himself in one game in 1907, two games in 1909, one in 1912, and one in 1918. Clearly, it?s absurd to keep him off the ballot until 1923. Why restart the clock with every token appearance? It?s illogical and inappropriate. I think a man should appear on the ballot with his contemporaries.

It would be simplest to say we?ll consider a player?s final year to be the last time he plays in at least 10 games or pitches 10 innings. Anything less is just token appearances. However, that may be going too far in the other direction, given that many players make brief appearances in the following year.

I suggest a rule like this: To determine a player?s retirement year, we will ignore seasons with token appearances (less than 10 games or 10 ip) that are more than a year removed from the player?s last season with 10 games or 10 innings. Of course, there are many other ways you can define it, like using PA and BFP.

Take Clark Griffith, for example. His last year with 10 IP or games was 1906. I?m saying to ignore all token appearances in 1908 or after. He played 5 games (8.1 IP) in 1907. Use that as his year of retirement. He made other token appearances in 09-10-12-13-14. We should ignore those appearances. He should be eligible for the first election.

These token appearances were much more common years ago. By adopting this rule we make eligible for our first election Jennings, Griffith, Deacon McGuire, Kid Gleason, Heinie Peitz, and Fielder Jones, among others.

Ten-Year Requirement

The Hall originally adopted this rule to ensure a minimum standard of quality. (At the time, they didn?t have much else.) It still stands as the sole numerical qualifier. We can do better.

We have no use for the ten-year rule. It mainly serves to disqualify players who were afforded only a brief opportunity to show their stuff, especially in the 19th century. Guys like Bill Joyce, Dave Orr and Bill Hutchison deserve a hearing.

A Ballot(?!)

As a service to its electorate, the Hall of Fame provides a ballot of eligible candidates. I suggest we do the same. Sure, it?s noble and fair to proclaim ?everyone is eligible?. But if the voters are going to do the research we want them to do, it behooves us to streamline the task to some degree. I suggest 100 players. There is zero chance we will omit a viable candidate with this size ballot.

If you really want to be sure, since we have until April, let?s get the blog up and running and solicit for nominees for the first election.

Negro Leaguers

People can?t talk about religion or politics. Or race.

To me, the Negro Leagues exist in a different continuum from the majors. We are in a classic apples-and-oranges scenario if we deliberate their worthiness along with players in the white majors. Anecdotal evidence rules the day.

When some statistical alchemist succeeds in transmogrifying oranges to apples, we will have a basis for comparison. Until then, I find it hard to grant much validity to BJ?s rankings of them in the new HBA.

IMO, we should not include Negro league stars without a whole lot more data. We need someone to translate Negro stats into Major League stats. Can?t this be done to some degree? Look at the stats of players who played in both Negro and Majors and adjust? Of course, we need park effects, too.

How Often Should We Vote

I don?t know what schedule you have in mind, but I think two votes per month might work well. The project would be finished in about four years. If we vote every three weeks, we?ll need about five and-a-half years. And so on. Admittedly, I don?t know everything involved with running this sort of thing.

Delaying the start until the spring may prove to be a blessing. We have time to hash out the ?best of all possible? structures. Oh, on the issue of positional quotas: we don?t need it. Given an informed electorate, we should be confident that the best players will be elected. If we (like the HOF) don?t have as many third basemen and catchers, maybe that?s right. In the new HBA, James has fewer players at these positions in his top 100.
   27. scruff Posted: January 11, 2002 at 09:14 PM (#509448)
Good work Dan. Your interest and thoughts on this are greatly appreciated.

Dan sent this to me in an email just before Christmas. Below is pretty much my response that I sent at that time.

I did include Negro Leaguers in the 215 number. I also added two for this year as a guess.

I very much agree w/not counting token appearances.

I think the 5 year requirement does a few things:

-Allows us to as you say, look back with perspective.

-Makes the election a little more nostalgic. For example, we'll have 5 years to forget Ripken and Gwynn and Raines and McGwire, which will make their election a little bit more special.

-Most importantly, it will align our elections (once we are caught up) w/the BBWAA, so we can always have a relevant comparison, which will be good if this ever picks up in popularity.

I think 4 years might be better, so we'll be a year ahead of the BBWAA. Maybe some of those guys will see our vote and we could "influence" a vote or two. I realize I'm dreaming here . . .

Actually a 5-year requirement with our election being held a few weeks before theirs would serve this purpose even better. Let me know what you think. I think your 10-man team is an interesting option.
   28. jimd Posted: January 11, 2002 at 11:42 PM (#509472)
Good stuff, MattB.

One issue we're going to have to confront headon when dealing with the early years is the relationship between pitchers and position players, because in the 1870's they are ALL everyday players. Pitchers were like NHL goalies, you had a primary starter, and a backup guy to give him a break every few starts. (They didn't play league games everyday, either, with NHL length schedules, though there were many exhibition games against non-league teams.)

At one extreme, there will be those who believe in rough equality between positions: there are approximately the same number of quality shortstops as center-fielders as 1st-basemen. Do pitchers follow this rule? If a high percentage of the regular pitchers won 300 games back then, well it couldn't have been that hard, could it?

At the other extreme will be those advocating value based results (such as Win Shares). These values, derived using models from modern MLB, show the pitcher to be the dominant player on the field. In the modern game he is; he just can't play every day which dilutes his cumulative value. If the models are valid in the 19th century game, then when he does play everyday, his cumulative value will tend to blow everybody else away.

An alternative possiblity is that the relationship between pitching and defense is not the same. We are dealing with a game where walks are about as rare as errors are today (.7 per game) and strikeouts not much more comman (1.1 per game), while errors are twice as common as walks are today (6 errors per game; yes, per team)(data comparison between 1876 and 2001). The ball was almost always in play so there may be merit to an argument that fielders were considerably more important in the overall scheme of things, relative to today.

I haven't done any relevant research on this, so I have no strong opinions on this matter. It's going to be fun finding out.
   29. jimd Posted: January 12, 2002 at 12:18 AM (#509536)
Just to elaborate on my suggestion earlier.
   30. jimd Posted: January 12, 2002 at 12:23 AM (#509537)
Crossing posts... Those sound like reasonable restrictions.
   31. DanG Posted: January 12, 2002 at 03:33 AM (#509449)
Unfortunately, your email response never made it to me.

As many folks don't know, there will be no VC elections this year. (No new negro leaguers will be enshrined.) The new VC votes in January 2003 for the first time.

Do you then agree with my definition for ignoring token appearances?

You said re the five year wait: "Most importantly, it will align our elections (once we are caught up) w/the BBWAA, so we can always have a relevant comparison...." This will only be relevant for the first-time candidates after the mid 50's.

As for the dream of our efforts achieving credibility, this can happen. We must maintain the highest standards of reasonableness and fairness, as well as promoting it creatively and ubiquitously.

To this end, including Negro leaguers would help us gain acceptance, being fair and PC and all. I'm just not sure they can be accurately compaired in the same balloting with the white leaguers. With the regular Majors, we have the data to make our own studies of players; for the Negroes we would all be in thrall to the opinions of the few experts who have attempted a comprehensive study of the issue.

There was a mention of the lack of good new candidates for election #2. Obviously, there is Cy Young. If we use my definition of ignoring token appearances, Fred Clarke also comes on. I also noticed that Bill Dahlen is eligible for the first election under my proposed definition. Otherwise, he's eligible for the second election.

Dan
   32. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 12, 2002 at 08:04 AM (#509539)
Hi Dan. I actually think Reulbach would be a creditable Hall of Merit candidate. I do have somewhat of a problem with the shortness of his career, but there is no denying that he was a wonderful pitcher. There is no doubt Big Ed would be a better sight to see than Rube Marquard or Jesse Haines in the Hall of Fame now!
   33. DanG Posted: January 13, 2002 at 04:28 AM (#509545)
Passner is treading on dangerous ground. I think our aim should be to be just as exclusive/inclusive as the Hall of Fame, that we want to end with the same number enshrined as they have.

I think it's proper that we stay in the state of "catching up" to the current percentage enshrined up until the 1980's voting, at least. That is, don't be in a hurry to load up our Hall in the early years. Remember, players are perpetually eligible, and we have an informed electorate. Given the structure thus far devised, there is little chance that someone truly deserving will be overlooked.

I think Bill James is right, to some degree, regarding his time line adjustment. If we enshrine a slightly lower percentage of early stars than later players, that is OK. If we later raise the number of our players enshrined each year to coincide with expansion, that seems proper, too.

Dan
   34. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 14, 2002 at 01:59 AM (#509554)
Tom Veryzer doesn't belong in the Hall of Merit!?! How about Omar Moreno? :)
   35. Toby Posted: January 14, 2002 at 02:56 AM (#509555)
I think it would be useful to come up with some sort of policy statement about the criteria for election. For example:

What weight can/should be given to off-field accomplishments (e.g., time served as manager [Cronin, Lemon, etc.], or as player-manager [Boudreau])?

What weight can/should be given to off-field misdeeds (e.g., Joe Jackson, Pete Rose, Dave Parker, Orlando Cepeda, the 1951 Giants' sign-stealing ...)?

What about ON-FIELD misdeeds, e.g., Juan Marichal's murderous bat-wielding, Gaylord Perry's spitballing, Roberto Alomar's spitting, Ty Cobb's maliciously spiked feet?

What weight can/should be given to postseason play?

What weight can/should be given to accomplishments recorded in non-"major leagues", e.g., Federal League, Negro League?

What weight can/should be given to accomplishments in the "major leagues" in eras when a significant number of people talented enough to play in the major leagues were not present, e.g., WWII, Federal League era, and arguably the entire pre-integration era?
   36. scruff Posted: January 14, 2002 at 05:03 AM (#509556)
I'll try to touch the issues raised . . .

Bonus Points -- I agree that we need to be careful here. Robert's restrictions seem to be reasonable. I think we should use it for the straw polls and see how it works.

DanG and DanP -- I think we should try to be about as inclusive as the current Hall, for a bunch of reasons. First it makes for good comparisons. Once we're done, we have a directly comparable list of players that are in one and not the other, which is nice (and a goal of the project when I first thought of it). Also, I think it is a reasonable number. We'll get plenty of 19th Century stars, don't worry Dan, that's why we are starting in 1915, not 1936. I wanted to start in 1900 originally, but Robert convinced me 1915 would be better.

Bad ballots -- there's a fine line here. Forcing people to justify their ballot and posting them is a great start. I hope that's all that's needed, but you never know what someone might submit. If someone could come up with a creative way to "police" the vote I'd be all ears, but I agree we need to be careful here.
   37. scruff Posted: January 14, 2002 at 05:07 AM (#509557)
Toby and John, I started that last post before your comments were posted . . . I was sidetracked a little, I'll hit what you guys brought up tomorrow . . .
   38. DanG Posted: January 14, 2002 at 03:08 PM (#509558)
I brought this up in my long posting under the topic "Welcome to the Hall of Merit", and it would be a solution to the problem of Bad Ballots: create a ballot to vote from.

I suggest a 100-person ballot, since IMO there is zero chance that a viable candidate will be omitted with this size ballot. (Even that is probably more candidates than we really need, but it seems like a fair number to pacify the anti-ballot crowd.)

Restricting candidates in this way will rub some people the wrong way, but it makes our job easier to narrow the field of candidates, promoting a more thorough study of the true candidates. I mean, try it yourself: compile a ballot of the top 100 players retired by 1910. By the time you get down into the 80's and 90's you'll be saying Who Cares - it doesn't matter who's on the ballot or not, because you're in the realm of players who you can hardly make a reasonable argument for greatness.

But there will be no bad (or even below average) candidates. We would eliminate the possibility of some terrorist element stuffing the ballot box for Tom Veryzer, since he wouldn't be on the ballot.

So who's going to create this ballot? Again, I think any reasonable person could make a 100 person ballot. Hows about a straw vote, kinda like the weakest link: Joe and Robert could come up with a 120-person ballot and we could vote off the weakest 20. Goodbye!

Dan
   39. Toby Posted: January 14, 2002 at 04:35 PM (#509560)
As far as voting goes, I have a couple of separable suggestions. The general tenor of my suggestions is to consider melding several different voting approaches rather than a single approach.

1. Create a list of nominees, as has been suggested already. The number of nominees should be three to five times the anticipated/desired number of inductees. Something like that.

2. I'm comfortable with the idea of having a couple designated people make the list of nominees. Have three or four respected people each independently create a list. All names common to all lists are automatic nominees. Names not common to all lists can be debated and then voted in/out as nominees.

3. Consider using a weighted point system. That is, present the voters with a ballot listing all nominees. Allow the voters to assign points to nominees as they see fit, within certain parameters. For example, you might allow a voter to give anywhere from 0 to 5 points to a nominee, but a given voter must give not more than 100 points total and not less than 50 points total (assuming there are about 100 nominees). The point of this exercise is to allow each voter to register not only the binary in/out choice but a range of enthusiasm.

4. Consider using two entirely different voting systems, a yes/no system (call it the Senate) and a weighted points system such as the one I outline above (call it the House). Those who qualify for induction under both systems are in; those who qualify under one but not the other would be subject to further debate and some sort of additional runoff election.
   40. MattB Posted: January 14, 2002 at 04:57 PM (#509561)
On May 10, 1980, Tom Veryzer went 3 for 4 with a double and 2 RBI, raising his batting average year-to-date to .343. His RBI provided the margin of victory in Cleveland's 5-3 defeat of AL powerhouse Seattle, knocking their starting pitcher Byron McLaughlin out of the game in the second inning.

Okay, so he wasn't much on career value, but his peak value (defined as the period between May 9, 1980 and May 11, 1980), was comparable to some of the game's greats.

So, enough of the picking on Tom Veryzer. Let's start picking on Byron McLaughlin instead.
   41. Toby Posted: January 14, 2002 at 06:57 PM (#509564)
In retrospect, Robert, I agree that the dual system (#4 in my post) is too complicated. But give the rest some consideration.
   42. Toby Posted: January 14, 2002 at 07:45 PM (#509566)
Wallbanger,

Anyone can be voted for in a Presidential election, but even if a consensus of voters choose a candidate, the candidate doesn't become president unless he or she is a natural born citizen at least 35 years old with at least 14 years residence in the U.S.

There's nothing wrong with a little line-drawing. Indeed, as I mentioned before, I think some basic line-drawing is needed. Setting a playing time threshold is essential. Otherwise the 2001 AL batting title would have been won by Manny Aybar, Charles Nagy, Pat Mahomes, and Juan Rincon.
   43. Toby Posted: January 14, 2002 at 08:09 PM (#509572)
Wallbanger,

Anyone can be voted for in a Presidential election, but even if a consensus of voters choose a candidate, the candidate doesn't become president unless he or she is a natural born citizen at least 35 years old with at least 14 years residence in the U.S.

There's nothing wrong with a little line-drawing. Indeed, as I mentioned before, I think some basic line-drawing is needed. Setting a playing time threshold is essential. Otherwise the 2001 AL batting title would have been won by Manny Aybar, Charles Nagy, Pat Mahomes, and Juan Rincon.
   44. Toby Posted: January 14, 2002 at 08:13 PM (#509573)
Whoa! My apologies also for a duplicate post.
   45. Toby Posted: January 14, 2002 at 08:28 PM (#509474)
Robert, we all resent some of your work. Thanks for joining us. :-)

(I say that COMPLETELY in jest, of course!)
   46. Toby Posted: January 14, 2002 at 08:30 PM (#509574)
But let me add this on drawing hard-and-fast rules: There's no reason why there couldn't be a "hardship" procedure under which someone could petition on behalf of a meritorious player to have that player nominated notwithstanding his failure to meet all of the criteria.
   47. DanG Posted: January 14, 2002 at 09:17 PM (#509576)
Wallbanger raises an interesting point: "Convince me why this is about who vs. whom, rather than who should be in the Hall."

Mainly, I think it's because we're *telling you* that the top 216 players retired through 1996 is who should be in the Hall. The question has been objectively framed. Rather than leaving to chance how many candidates will reach some arbitrary threshold of support, we have precisely defined how exclusive our Hall will be.

We could just have one big election and poll everyone one time to make our Hall. Obviously, that wouldn't be much fun. Going through history like this, we must allow a specified number with each election. That's the only way I see to end up with our target number.

On another topic, after looking at the years of retirement of hall of famers, I think we should back up our starting date by ten years. By my count, there are 18 players in the HOF who retired by 1900. So there are a sufficient number of worthy candidates if we started earlier. By 1910 there are 38 in the HOF, a big backlog.

Joe and Rob's plan gives us 40 enshrinees through year #11 (1925). (There are 53 in Cooperstown retired by 1920.) If we started ten years earlier and enshrined two every year, we'd have 42, about the same number. The benefit of the earlier start is we wouldn't have to deal with the player backlog by electing massive numbers in the early years, it would work itself out.

By inducting two players every year 1905 through 1979, then increasing to three per year 1980-2001, we'd have 216 players.

Dan
   48. scruff Posted: January 15, 2002 at 01:19 AM (#509578)
I've been convinced about the bonus points. I'd say right now I'd vote nay -- I just don't think they are worth the trouble, and a block could push someone through with them. I think a 12-11-8-7 etc (for a year w/two enshrinees) is reasonable though.

I think the bigger issue with "bad" ballots is abuse. If I only think 3 people are "worthy" -- I could say damn the rules (name the 10 best eligibles) and vote my 3 plus 7 Jim Deshaies's. My three get a boost and the people close to them get nothing from me. It's things like that (obvious attempts to manipulate the outcome of an election) that would need policing.

I was originally planning on starting in 1900, but was convinced to start in 1915. In my "mock" personal elections I had no shortage of candidates at all. If there is support, I could definitely see starting earlier, I'd kind of lean towards it actually.

For one, it would give a few of the players from the really early years (1871-1885) a chance for "immortality". Also, the smaller the first ballot, the easier the task of sorting through the candidates, then we just add a few every year.

My initial idea for a place on the ballot was:

1 Stats, Inc. seasonal league All-Star Team (my only source for such info, I'd be fine with another).

or

1 year in the top 5 in RC-27 for a league (again easy to pluck from the Stats All Time Sourcebook).

or

Anyone nominated and seconded by a small % of the voters (say 5%).

What would you think of something like that? I like it because it's objective (just run down the lists) yet adaptable. And seriously, if a guy didn't make an All-Star Team even once he'd have a tough sell on the Hall of Merit. The only person through 1905 that would be a viable candidate that didn't make an All-Star team was George van Haltren, but he was top 5 in RC27 once (he's the reason I added that rule).

Thanks for the support/interest. I like where this is headed. This discussion has been great.

As far as off-field considerations, I'm very strongly against. Because it's too much bullshit, in all honesty. This guy was a union leader. That guy raised money for Johnny X when his house burned down in 1912. I think that stuff is irrelevant to the case of merit as a baseball player, which is what we are trying to evaluate. That other stuff adds to fame not merit as a ballplayer.

As for postseason play, I would say this. I think good performances should be a bonus, no problem there. But I think bad performances can more or less be chalked up to chance, and a player shouldn't be penalized for those. I like to think of it as extra credit in school. It can't hurt your grade it can only help it. I'm curious as to what others think.

As for managers, the idea to have a manager election every 5 years was brought up in the discussion under the original "Something Better" article. I really like that one. But I think managing and playing should be kept seperate.

I could see a critera set up for the managing election where playing could have a minimal impact, say 75/25 managing/playing or something, for the guys like Piniella and Dusty and Al Lopez that were pretty good players and managers. Or maybe have an election every 10 years for guys like that or something? I don't know, I'm brainstorming out loud here. But I think the playing and managing "wings" should be seperate.

I don't really like the pyramid idea. The pyramid idea always comes up because of what a mess the real hall is. Because we'll be taking the 2-5 best every year, and we have an informed electorate, I don't think we are going to run into that issue.

Also -- for the non-stat oriented guys. Please do not take this the wrong way.

When it does come time to discuss the merit of players, please try to listen to what some of the stat oriented people are saying. We're going to try to do a really good job of explaining the methods that are presented, and this data is pretty well conceived. There's a lot more to player evaluation than just OPS+ and fielding runs (which in all honesty are crap).

I seem to notice a lot of, "but I saw them and this guy (insert any HR-hitting, park-inflated slugger) was feared and the other guy wasn't," in the threads discussing HoFers. There's more too it than that. At least listen to what's presented and challenge the methods on their merits, not player's reputations. That's really the whole point of this. If someone says something that goes against what you think initially, try to see why the poster is saying it. He probably thought the same way as you before he looked at the stats.

I've told this story a few times in the last two weeks, but what the hell, one more won't kill it:

When I first posted a Clutch Hit about the HoF ballot for 2002, I said Ozzie was on my definite list, and Trammell was on my wait until he's running out of eligibility list. Mark McKinnis challenged me on it, saying Trammell was just as qualified as Ozzie. I thought to myself, "no way . . . Trammell was real good, but not Ozzie." But I gave Mark an hour and went and did some research. I figured out offensive wins and losses adjusted for park, DH, league. I looked at their TPR, even though I know fielding runs are garbage, I looked at the batting runs. I looked at Win Shares.

You know what I found. Trammell was every bit as valuable as Ozzie over the course of their careers, and a bunch better at their peaks. Ozzie's best year was a shade below Trammell's, but Trammell's 2 and 3 bury Ozzie. Same for 5 year peak. Career wise, Ozzie had a big defensive edge no matter what system you use, but Trammell had an even bigger offensive edge.

The moral here isn't that Trammell was better than Ozzie (although he was). The moral is that I would have never known if I didn't actually take a look at the numbers. Or if I had just said, "come on Mark, I know Trammell was good. But Ozzie was special, isn't that obvious? I'm old enough to remember their entire careers, and I remember Ozzie a lot more than I do Trammell."

Or that crap I always hear (especially from Jim Rome), "If you have to ask he wasn't a Hall of Famer." That's the ultimate bullshit statement. Very few heavily repeated cliches irk me like that one.

Jim, the reason we have to ask is because the typical sportswriter who gives us our info isn't always so well informed. So ESPN shows us 15 years of Ozzie doing backflips, but we have to double check on Trammell's credentials. That doesn't make Trammell any less qualified.

We also have to listen to new information. Especially new defensive methods, like Charlie Saeger's method (don't know it's name) and Bill James' defensive WS. These methods adjust for a lot of the false normalization of fielding stats, and have rendered older methods like fielding runs and range factors obsolete in the discussion of who was a great fielder. Because of this we'll have to re-evaluate some players who may now be shown to be among the best ever defensively at their positions, although they weren't thought to be previously.

I really hope the last few paragraphs didn't come off the wrong way. I didn't intend them to be.

Thanks again to everyone who's posted here so far. I can't wait for this project to get off the ground.
   49. scruff Posted: January 15, 2002 at 01:20 AM (#509475)
LOL Toby . . .
   50. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 15, 2002 at 07:04 AM (#509581)
Scruff wrote: Or that crap I always hear (especially from Jim Rome), "If you have to ask he wasn't a Hall of Famer." That's the ultimate bullshit statement. Very few heavily repeated cliches irk me like that one.

Jim Rome is the ultimate bullshit commentator. Punk!

I think on every ballot there should be Bill James' questions for who should be elected to the Hall. If your favorite candidate can meet the criteria, then vote for him. If not, he sits.

MVP style voting sounds good to me (if you care):)

Scruff - I thought you were going to respond to something I wrote from Sunday? Changed your mind? By the way, I had the same response to Ozzie vs. Trammell as you. If one is going to make an informed vote, one has to do a little research.
   51. MattB Posted: January 15, 2002 at 01:51 PM (#509582)
Re: Token Appearances

A player who makes a token appearance won't appear on the HoF ballot. If the goal is to eventually have comparable ballots when we "catch up" they should be excluded here also.
   52. scruff Posted: January 15, 2002 at 02:15 PM (#509583)
Mark - we aren't necessarily trying to compare election for election. We're going under the assumption that the Hall of Fame was a little late getting off the ground. Also we want to ensure recognition for the great stars of 19th Century baseball, and walk through time, that's why we're starting earlier.

Also, it makes the initial ballot a lot smaller, so there's less clutter and confusion.

John - Despite his incredible peak in mid-May, 1980 -- I too cannot endorse Tom Veryzer for Hall of Merit induction :-)

Seriously though, as for the time-line thing, I agree with Robert, that it isn't linear like Bill James suggests; it's more of a curve. There is ample evidence it exists though. Just look at pitchers hitting stats throughout time. No one today hits like Walter Johnson did, or like Wes Ferrell or Don Drysdale even. Each generation, the pitchers' batting gets a little worse (although I think the DH being used on all levels has distorted the extent of this effect).

I think Ruth and Williams do get cut a little slack, but a good portion of Williams career came after the color line was broken. However, those guys were SO dominant that I think they still have been pegged correctly in history.

As to how to quantify it, I think one way would be to simulate a season from 1927 or 1941 and then add in to the mix a proportion of minority stars from today's game (adjusting for the population difference) and then see how far the white superstar's relative production (compared to league) changes. Then we'd have an idea of the kind of impact the color line had on Ruth or Williams' domination. That's a lot of work that I don't have time for right now. It would be nice to have some kind of quantifiable effect though.

I think the AA was inferior to the NL, but not so much so that we should just discard their achievements. Proper adjustment needs to be made, and Robert is working diligently on comparing the relative strength of the leagues. He's got comparisons that I know of for the NA-NL from 1871-1885 at this point, and will soon have much more.
   53. scruff Posted: January 15, 2002 at 02:33 PM (#509584)
MattB -- I don't think the token appearance thing is a problem anymore, so I'd just as soon not worry about them. They happened all the time back in the early part of the century, and for someone like Hughie Jennings you are pushing his candidacy back 16 years, which seems strange to me. Rules should set guidelines, we shouldn't be imprisoned by them.

I'd be willing to say a player is eligible in the 5th year that he plays 10 or less major league games or pitches 10 or less innings.

As for the Gehrig/Clemente/Munson people I think we should follow the Hall's precedent and allow them on the ballot early (in whatever election the Hall allowed them on). We could even do the same for guys like Ed Delahanty and Chick Stahl. In the future it will be good to match up with the real Hall. I don't see any problem with this, what do you guys think?

I realize this might be inconsisent with the token appearances thing, but that's the beauty of it, we can pick and choose the things that we like, since we are starting anew.
   54. Toby Posted: January 15, 2002 at 05:26 PM (#509585)
Another point to throw out for discussion. Something we are likely to need to deal with more and more:

What weight to give to play in independent non-MLB leagues?

This could apply to independent U.S. leagues, but I mean it more in the sense of the highest leagues in various baseball-playing foreign countries -- Japan, Mexico, Cuba come to mind.

For example, let's assume that Ichiro turns in 10 more seasons, 2002 through 2011, similar in value to what he's done so far. When he's up for consideration for the Hall of Merit five years later (or whatever the wait time is), do his stats in Japan count for anything?
   55. Toby Posted: January 15, 2002 at 05:29 PM (#509586)
Yet another question:

What about performance in international competition, e.g., the Olympics?

I guess what I'm trying to get at by this post and the previous one is, is this the Hall of MLB Merit, or the Hall of U.S.-Based Baseball Merit, or the Hall of Professional Baseball Merit, or what?
   56. Toby Posted: January 15, 2002 at 05:49 PM (#509587)
Let me conclude my trilogy of posts with this observation.

I think it should be an argument in a player's favor that he was perceived as particularly meritorious by teammates, observers, and opponents of the day. Keep in mind that even if that perception was erroneous, that perception likely caused a distortion in the way he was treated.

For example, it is sabermetric conventional wisdom that stolen bases have been overvalued since the beginning of time, and that therefore players whose claim to fame is the stolen base should be devalued. Yet that player, in his day, was causing a distortion in the game based on the perception of the stolen base's importance -- he was in fact causing pitchers to bear down extra when facing him (lowering his batting stats), distracting pitchers while on base (improving the batting stats of those around him), influencing opposing managers to emphasize defense rather than offense at the catcher position, and so on.

Likewise, a hitter who is perceived as exceptionally dangerous (even though he's not) is going to impact the game in accordance with that perception. He is going to be pitched around and intentionally walked more, he is going to prompt the summoning of specialized, tougher relief pitchers to face him, and so on.

For these reasons, the impressions and opinions of the actual eyewitnesses really should be given some weight -- not because contemporary reputation should be a factor in the abstract, but because contemporary reputation actually does affect how the game plays out on the field, and thus distorts the statistical data.

I suspect this is a very small factor, but it is a factor nonetheless.
   57. Toby Posted: January 15, 2002 at 06:08 PM (#509588)
As another example, the sacrifice bunt today is considered to be a fairly worthless, even counterproductive, strategy. But back in the day it was considered a fundamental skill, even though that was probably a foolish way to consider it. So a player who may have been held in high regard for his ability to drop a bunt would be treated by today's sabermetric analysis as if he had an extra appendix -- curious, but not meritorious.

Another example would be the dreaded Clutch Hitting. The average fan and the typical player or manager BELIEVES in it as a skill or ability that some people have and some don't, and they manage accordingly.

To put it another way, is this a Hall of Meritorious Play or is it a Hall of Optimized Play?
   58. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 15, 2002 at 06:50 PM (#509589)
Scruff - Is the reduced hitting statistics of pitchers now due to the increased quality of major league pitching or is it that pitchers don't hit in the minors (or in the AL)? If you don't use it, you lose it. Something to ponder...

Nobody can deny that Ruth and Williams were monster players: I had no intention to suggest otherwise. But even Teddy Ballgame's post-1947 stats were created in an era where the statistical deviation between the best and worst players was about the same as it is now - with 14 teams less! If His Budness wanted to contract MLB to the pre-expansion 16 teams, would it be conceivable to have a batting champ who exceeded the average by only 40 points? Something to ponder...

Another point about Ruth - I have a problem with that initial generation of sluggers (including Gehrig, Hornsby, Foxx, etc..) Were they as dominant (making a correction for the quality of competition) as they appear? They stand out even more so because they were a tiny minority who were playing a different game (the uppercut) than the vast majority (the non-uppercut). The runs they created are rightfully theirs: they helped their teams by doing something different. But when we compare their accomplishments to the rest of baseball history, would they be as super-human as they appear? I have no doubt they would still be at the top of their position's list (if not number one), but would their stats be closer to what greatness is defined now today in baseball. Of course, Bonds had a Ruthian season last year, so maybe they were as good as they appear! Something to ponder...

Last point: I think we should induct Negro League players from the generation pool they came from. In other words, we should not be electing a comparable amount of players from MLB from 1910-1950 as compared to other generations, PLUS the Negro League players. This would give that generation of players an unfair advantage over other eras in terms of numbers. This, to my mind, should not diminish the amount of Black players, but cut back on some of the White players.In fact, I would like to see a few more Negro Leaguers. But I wouldn't have a cow over not implementing this policy. Something to ponder...

Enough of these ponderous ponderings! :-)
   59. scruff Posted: January 15, 2002 at 09:36 PM (#509591)
John -- agreed on the Negro Leaguers vs. overpopulation from 20's issue. That's why Negro Leaguers are voted on in the same election as their big league counterparts. No special committees, etc. I do think that we are giving our voters a big responsibility there. We'll need to listen to people that are experts on the subject and ajust our ballots accordingly.

Toby -- Good points all. I think we need to use common sense. I would say injuries don't count, obviously. That's a part of the player's skill set, for better or worse, even tragic things like disease or plane crashes while on personal time (it would be an uncontrollable condition if the team bus or plane were to crash, but personal time is different).

But for things beyond a player's control, like wars, time trapped in the minors due to front office incompetence or minor league owners not willing to sell, time trapped in Japan due to restrictive contracts, etc. I think we need to use common sense and accepted methods to fill in the gaps.

If WS are as good as James says they are (or at least adaptable, if one doesn't like NewRC, use XRuns, etc.) they will go a long way towards this. We can take norms for ages and use those to fill in the gaps objectively, at least giving a reasonable, conservative estimate of what might have been. This is very important. If not, we're going to have very few players that were 24-29 during the 1943-45 period in the Hall.

I think with the exception of Negro Leaguers we need significant star calibre play in the majors (Ichiro, Rizzuto, Slaughter, etc.) to show the player was at that level. Then a fair way to fill in the gaps. That's one of the reasons I wanted to wait for the WS book to be release and examined before holding the initial election. There is so much potential with that method for things exactly like this.

A single number system has so many possibilities. Let's say you have a player with X widgets of value at the following ages:

21 - 12
   60. scruff Posted: January 15, 2002 at 09:39 PM (#509592)
John, I agree with the you don't use it you lose it theory.

But even from Caruthers to Johnson to Ferrell to Spahn to Drysdale there is a steady decline in the quality of the best hitting pitchers. I do agree that we can no longer use this as an objective analysis after 1973. But before then there was a pretty solid trend in place.
   61. jimd Posted: January 16, 2002 at 12:02 AM (#509593)
Gee scruff, where's Ruth in that list of best hitting pitchers?

I want to bring up an issue that may be injury-related, maybe not (I don't know, since I never studied the issue, nor heard it discussed) but is related to 19th century baseball.

Most pitchers in the 19th century had short careers. Their numbers are impressive because they pitched nearly everyday, which may also have something to do with their having short careers. Were these guys routinely coming up with sore arms and being replaced because they were hurt, or were they being replaced because the team found somebody better?

Anybody know?

If the game itself was systematically abusing these pitchers (probably because nobody knew any better), then I would argue that modern standards of career length should not apply to them.

Any thoughts on this?
   62. jimd Posted: January 16, 2002 at 12:05 AM (#509476)
(I suppose this comment more properly belongs here, but noone's posting here lately.)

I want to bring up an issue that may be injury-related, maybe not (I don't know, since I never studied the issue, nor heard it discussed) but is related to 19th century baseball.

Most pitchers in the 19th century had short careers. Their numbers are impressive because they pitched nearly everyday, which may also have something to do with their having short careers. Were these guys routinely coming up with sore arms and being replaced because they were hurt, or were they being replaced because the team found somebody better?

Anybody know?

If the game itself was systematically abusing these pitchers (probably because nobody knew any better), then I would argue that modern standards of career length should not apply to them.

Any thoughts on this?
   63. scruff Posted: January 16, 2002 at 02:49 PM (#509477)
JimD -- Good question. I'm not really sure that it would matter either way. Their value was their value.

What I mean is, what is more valuable, winning 25 games (assume this was the pitchers true level, average run support, etc.) and pitching 250 innings two years in a row or winning 50 games and pitching 500 innings in one season? Most would say the 50 in one year is more valuable, because there is a better chance that would result in a pennant.

So the pitchers of the 19th Century (pre-1893 anyway) pitching 500 innings a year may have had careers that were half as long, but they were pitching twice as much.

The much more important question, is: How much credit do we give the defense, and how much do we give the pitchers? Defense was much more important back then. I'm curious as to how win shares or Charlie Saeger's system would see the split. I think that's the much bigger issue, and a vital one for determining the relative worth of the pre-1893 pitcher.
   64. scruff Posted: January 16, 2002 at 02:58 PM (#509594)
Jim, I posted my thoughts on this on the other thread . . .
   65. DanG Posted: January 16, 2002 at 03:11 PM (#509595)
Mark McInniss asked, "if the idea of the HoM is to serve as a comparison to the HoF, shouldn't voting start in 1936?"

Yes, but clearly the goal here is NOT to rerun the annual HOF votes (although that would also be a fun way to do things).

Where we're comparing the HoM to the HoF is in who we elect and in what order they gain election.

Toby asked, "is this the Hall of MLB Merit, or the Hall of U.S.-Based Baseball Merit, or the Hall of Professional Baseball Merit?"

Personally, I prefer the first definition. Anything more muddies the waters. However, the sentiment in this topic seems to be for the second definition. That's OK, too, but more hazardous to navigate through. The third definition gets us stuck in the swamp, encompassing the minor leaguers, Japanese, Carribean winter leagues, spring training(?), and so on.

Robert raised this point: "instead of having 2 candidates inducted every year we could have an election every second year with 4 candidates making it - at least up until around 1960 or so. It will decrease the number of elections we need to have."

The more elections we have, the more fun it will be to walk through history, IMO. However, if it works better for the moderators, we can pick up the pace and have fewer elections.

However we choose to do it, our player roster at the end won't be much different whether we have 100 elections or one election. I think the greater value is in the longer process: debating over candidates, seeing where players rank among their peers, seeing who falls just short of election, learning more about the game's history, etc.

One other thing: I still don't come up with 215 or so players currently in the HOF. There are now 189 enshrined from the regular majors as players. Then I count 17 Negro leaguers. Add in three elected as pioneers (Spalding, G. Wright, Cummings). Then two managers who might've been elected as players (McGraw, Griffith). That's 211 players in the HoF to date.

Dan
   66. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 16, 2002 at 04:13 PM (#509596)
Scruff - I have to learn to re-read the other postings so I don't repeat what has been commented on (like yours). :-)

Re: Declining pitcher's batting statistics. Aren't you proving my theory? How many more at bats did Caruthers have compared to Johnson? How many more at bats did Johnson have over Ferrell, etc...? The more at bats, the more the pitcher could retain his hitting skill. I don't neccessarily feel that explains the whole phenomena of declining hitting, but probably explains much of it. I do agree with you that hitting has improved, I just don't think we can prove it from examing the batting stats of pitchers.
   67. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 16, 2002 at 05:35 PM (#509598)
Is it supposed to be the Hall of MLB Merit? I don't think any of the creators of the Hall have ever mentioned not excluding the Negro League players. Forgetting the fact that they are in the HOF now, I can't fathom not allowing players who were excluded from the MLB, not because of talent, but for the color of their skin.

As for other leagues, that is a toss-up. I'm inclined to allow qualified minor-leaguers if there is a way of comparing their statistics to the major league. I'm certainly in favor for giving credit to major-leaguers who had many years in the minors (such as Lefty Grove or Gavvy Cravath) where they could have easily been playing in MLB.

As for giving credit for a variety of different baseball occupations, I'm against that. If we want to set up other wings for managers, announcers, writers, etc.., that's a great idea. Does Charlie Grimm deserve to be in the HOM because he had many years as a player and manager, even though he wasn't great at both positions? I think we should be rewarding excellence, not years served.
   68. DanG Posted: January 16, 2002 at 07:34 PM (#509599)
I thought I'd weigh in on the topic of MVP-style voting points.

I've always had a small problem with the 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 and similar formats used, because the point totals achieved by players relate poorly to the players' actual values. The #1 man is not usually twice the value of the #6 man; the #9 man is not twice the value of #10; The #3 man is not four times the value of the #9 man, etc.

The hill is too steep. I'm thinking more along the lines of a distribution starting like this: 5-5-4-4-3-3-2-2-1-1. Along with this, 5 bonus points are to be distributed, no more than 2 to any one player, for a total of 35 points on each ballot.

The top-loaded extreme looks like this: 7-7-5-4-3-3-2-2-1-1.

The bottom-loaded extreme is: 5-5-4-4-3-3-3-3-3-2.

The tilt-the-ballot-to-one-man ballot is: 7-5-4-4-3-3-3-2-2-2. This one especially is reminiscent of a typical TPR leaders list.

The tilt-the-ballot-to-two-men ballot is: 7-7-4-4-3-3-2-2-2-1.

I think this gradual point distribution enables voters to better reflect the relative values of the candidates they're voting for. There just is not that big a difference between the candidates in most years.

It also lessens the impact of a top vote. It's much harder to skew the results to My Favorite candidate. A high point total depends more on the consistency of a player's high ranking on the ballots cast. You would avoid an outcome such as the 1979 NL MVP vote, where the madcap Stargell-for-#1 voters pushed him into a tie with the more-consistently supported Keith Hernandez.

Dan
   69. jimd Posted: January 16, 2002 at 11:11 PM (#509600)
The "these are my 5 guys ballot"
   70. jimd Posted: January 16, 2002 at 11:16 PM (#509601)
It's the 14 points out of 59 (traditional MVP) that has bigger impact
   71. KJOK Posted: January 17, 2002 at 03:40 AM (#509478)
MATTB - Good List! Here's mine.

1. Charley Radbourn - Yes, I know he played in '91 (not very well however) but he's really a contemporary of these guys instead of the next group (Clarkson, Keefe, Mullane), and he's the BEST pitcher of the 1980's...

2. Jim McCormick

THOSE ARE THE ONLY 2 I'd CONSIDER FOR "HALL OF MERIT"

3. Larry Corcoran. .665% in a league that was tougher than in the 1870's.

4. Al Spalding. Faces very weak competition, but he was extremely dominating.

5. Tommy Bond. Faced somewhat tougher competition than Spalding over the course of his career, but the difference in results is probably not great enough to bridge the gap.

6. Will White - The AA was ALMOST as good as the NL in the 1880's.

7. Guy Hecker - Again, I think I discount the AA less than you do.

8. Ed Morris - another great AA pitcher.

9. Jim Whitney - When guys pitch most of their teams innings/games, I think W/L records matter a little bit more than for modern guys, and Whitney had a losing record AND his ERA+ was only 105...

10. Toad Ramsey - You didn't have him on your list. He also had a losing record, but his ERA+ was 114.

11. Bobby Mathews - Won a lot of games early in his career against very poor competition, so I've got him quite a bit lower than you do.

12. George Bradly - Decent pitcher, but I totally take out his 25-15 in the UA as the UA was definitely NOT of the same calibre as the NL or even the AA.

13. Charlie Ferguson - .607%, ERA+ of 122, not on your list.

14. Candy Cummings - Another pitcher who fattened his stats in less competitive league years, but he made the HOF.

15. Jim Devlin - Only .493% in weak league, but he did manage a 155 ERA+, so he makes my list.

16. Jumbo McGinnis - Ace pitcher for the best AA team - St. Louis.

17. Fred Goldsmith - Had a .622% in the 1880's, so he makes the list.

The others..
   72. KJOK Posted: January 17, 2002 at 03:46 AM (#509479)
And before someone corrects me, St. Louis had Mullane, Foutz & Carruthers, so calling Jumbo "the Ace" was a bit of a stretch, but his 1st 3 years (ages 18-20!) were VERY good...

And of course Radbourn was ONE of the best pitchers of the 1880's, NOT 1980's..
   73. KJOK Posted: January 17, 2002 at 03:49 AM (#509480)
One other item - John Montgomery Ward played past 1891, but his last PITCHING YEAR was 1883, so he probably belongs in the top 10 on this list.
   74. DanG Posted: January 17, 2002 at 04:31 AM (#509603)
jimd wrote:
   75. scruff Posted: January 17, 2002 at 01:42 PM (#509604)
"I also feel that WinShares is not a valid method for evaluation as it undervalues defense (in my opinion,) as uses a baseline that is way to low. TPR is the way to go, as it is a much better indicator of dominance and greatness since the baseline is average."

Dan -- Win Shares, as far as I can tell probably values defense more than any other system out there. And much more importantly, it adjusts for the false normalization of fielding statistics, which TPR fails to do. Fielding runs are utterly useless as a metric, especially for infielders, and that wrecks TPR, beyond repair in my opinion.

Also as far as the "average" baseline goes . . . it just doesn't make sense. Very few players have truly negative value in any given season. The reason for this is obvious, they'll just get someone else if you are truly hurting the team, relative to some scrub they could pull from AAA. So if a player is 10% worse than the average player he still has value to his major league team, but TPR docks him for this, which is silly.

If fielding runs were worth a damn, and if you only counted a players "positive" TPR seasons, I could see that being a measure of star value. But to dock the player that has a few below average years at the beginning or end of his career, as opposed to just retiring make no intuitive sense.

I'm not saying WS are perfect, we don't know enough yet. But I'm pretty confident they will be a vast improvement over TPR.
   76. MattB Posted: January 17, 2002 at 02:28 PM (#509481)
Good list, as well, KJOK. I was starting to wonder if everyone was more interested in arguing the rules than the players.

It seems that are lists are generally comparable, except that you discount the NA more than I did, and the discount the AA less than I did. Also, I would have no problem with my Top 6 being considered among the most Meritorious of All-Time.

Re: Differences

Charley Radbourne: Far and away the best of the bunch, but I was sticking to the pre-1891 timeframe.

Toad Ramsey and Charlie Ferguson: Not oversights, but not in my Top 15.

Besides losing points for his amphibious nickname, Mr. Ramsey was only a regular for 5 years and was awful for two of them. Right in the heart of his career, he went 12-47 with an ERA+ in the low 80s. While I allowed high ranking for pitchers with short careers, I wanted to see more than just 3 good years, and I wanted to see consistency. If you're just going to show me five years, don't show me two with ERA+ of 75 and 89. I was happy to rank higher pitchers with lower career ERA+, but that never dropped below ninety. Consistency counts.

Same for Mr. Ferguson. Dominated for three years, but only played in four. He also could hit some. I'd rank him above the Toad, but again wanted to see more than just 3 years, no matter how dominant those three were.
   77. MattB Posted: January 17, 2002 at 02:38 PM (#509605)
Scruff,

I'd be interested to see how many Win Shares Brady Anderson earned last year. If any player deserved a negative number, it was he. Of course, you don't cut your heartthrob veteran crowd pleasers in the middle of the season. But definitely below replacement level. If he shows up with 5 or 6 Win Shares for the year, I'll have to take that into account when determining how much weight to give the stat.
   78. scruff Posted: January 17, 2002 at 02:58 PM (#509606)
My guess is Brady will probably have 5 or 6 also. I think replacement would be about 7-8 per 162 games. I've gone through the guesstimates on how I came up with that number in previous threads, don't have time to recap it now, but I remember the final number being around 7 or 8 per 162.

I think it's easier to subtract off the extra few WS above repl. level then to add on to TPR for the amount above average but below replacement. Also, WS seems exponentially better for defensive evaluation, which would tip the scales convincingly in its direction, assuming the underlying assumptions are valid.

I'm not say WS will be the be all end all. But if it can be tweaked, for say, someone who prefers XRuns to NewRC, etc. it will become an invaluable tool on the belt. We would also be able to calc both numbers for players, WS(newRC) & WS(XRuns) and get a feel for just how different the results using each formula are. I'll bet they'll end up closer than most people think. I'll also bet they end up significantly better than TPR, due to the defense issue.
   79. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 17, 2002 at 04:37 PM (#509607)
I don't know if any one has examined this, but here goes. While I feel a we definitely need to include a batter's GIDP in Runs Created, shouldn't there be some type of adjustment because of where a batter hits in a lineup? Jim Rice had many more opportunities to hit into a DP than Rey Ordonez will ever do because he batted higher up in the order. Shouldn't Runs Created take this into account so Rice is effected as greatly and Ordonez is downgraded more (if that's possible)

I know this is not a HoM question, but may be useful in terms of evaluating a player for induction. If there has been some type of an adjustment to Runs Created that I'm not aware of, a thousand pardons! :-)
   80. DanG Posted: January 17, 2002 at 06:37 PM (#509608)
RE: Retirement Year

Let's try and nail this one down.

I think we agree that our purpose here is not to rerun the HoF voting. (If it was we wouldn?t even use a five year wait until the mid 1950?s.)

We also agree that the year a player appears in his last major league game isn?t always the appropriate year to use as his retirement year, since in a few cases it is more than ten years after his last season appearing in 10+ games or IP (e.g., O?Rourke, Jennings, Evers, Paige, Minoso).

We also agree that a reasonable definition of token appearance is ?less than ten games played or less than 10 innings pitched in a season.?

At what point should we ignore token appearances?

After looking at all players in the HoF:
   81. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: January 17, 2002 at 08:53 PM (#509482)
Since this got mentioned earlier and no one responded, I thought I'd clear it up. Al Spalding quit pitching because he was the team owner, and he wanted to spend his time with that and his sporting goods venture (worked out pretty well, I'd say). He's really in the Hall of Fame more as an executive and league official than for his pitching, although he certainly was an excellent pitcher. Since the Hall of Merit is just focusing on playing careers, I don't think he'd make the cut, although if somebody wanted to make a peak value argument, I'd be willing to listen.
   82. jimd Posted: January 18, 2002 at 12:41 AM (#509483)
Spalding was one of the reasons I brought up the injury issue, though a short pitching career seems to be symptomatic of the era. I didn't know why he stopped pitching. Was it: he was hurting, so they signed Bradley? Or, they signed Bradley so he stepped aside?

I knew he was part owner in Chicago, along with league founder William Hulbert, becoming team president after Hulbert's death in 1882. Was equity in the team part of his famous "free-agent" signing when he went from Boston to Chicago in 1876? (along with Barnes, White, and McVey; picture maybe Mussina, Clemens, Jeter and Posada signing with another team when contemplating the impact of this event).

To say he's in the HOF for any one thing is probably wrong. There were other team owners of that era, practically all bypassed. I'd say he's in because he was FAMOUS. Teen phenom becomes star pitcher on best team in baseball, wins 5 straight championships, founds sporting goods company (named after himself), and becomes president/owner of Cubs while (ghost?)writing popular annual guidebook (again under his name), all by the age of 33; this paints a picture in broad strokes.

The negative? The short career. Questions about the competition level; how concentrated was the talent into the National Association? From what I've read, this was the best baseball league in the country, but it was a completely new concept, the first league where all the teams were openly professional. However, there were lots of good players still playing for local semi-pro teams away from the big cities. The NA teams were not yet trying to find this talent, and the talent was not yet dreaming of playing for them either. It wasn't yet "The Show".
   83. DanG Posted: January 18, 2002 at 02:55 PM (#509486)
jimd wrote: "I want to bring up an issue that may be injury-related, maybe not (I don't know, since I never studied the issue, nor heard it discussed) but is related to 19th century baseball.

Most pitchers in the 19th century had short careers. Their numbers are impressive because they pitched nearly everyday, which may also have something to do with their having short careers. Were these guys routinely coming up with sore arms and being replaced because they were hurt, or were they being replaced because the team found somebody better?

Anybody know?

If the game itself was systematically abusing these pitchers (probably because nobody knew any better), then I would argue that modern standards of career length should not apply to them."

I recall that Craig Wright in "The Diamond Appraised" documents some of the history of this abuse. Been awhile since I've read it, though.

Looking at this issue a bit, pitching in the 19th century was indeed a young man's profession. Cy Young in 1903 was the first pitcher older than 35 to win 18 or more games in a season.

The aptly named "Old Hoss" Radbourn was the only 20-game winner older than 33 before 1901. He was 20-11 at age 34 and 27-12 at age 35 (in the Players League). Tim Keefe came close at age 35 (19-16), nobody else did.

There were only three 20-game winners at age 33: Bobby Mathews in 1885 (30-17), Bob Barr in 1890 (28-24, back in the "bigs" due to the player shortage that year), and Tony Mullane 1892 (21-13).

Only a handful of 19th-century pitchers were consistent big winners in their early 30's. The list includes Bill Hutchison, Keefe, Mathews, Radbourn, Young and Pud Galvin. That's about it.

As much as arm abuse, the sea-change in pitching conditions that came in 1893 cut short (and often ended) the careers of nearly every pitcher active then.

Should they be given a break in assessing their careers? I'm inclined to say no. The great ones (Young, Nichols, Rusie) pitched through it, hardly missing a beat.

More study is needed.

Dan
   84. DanG Posted: January 18, 2002 at 03:49 PM (#509487)
jimd wrote: "I want to bring up an issue that may be injury-related, maybe not (I don't know, since I never studied the issue, nor heard it discussed) but is related to 19th century baseball.

Most pitchers in the 19th century had short careers. Their numbers are impressive because they pitched nearly everyday, which may also have something to do with their having short careers. Were these guys routinely coming up with sore arms and being replaced because they were hurt, or were they being replaced because the team found somebody better?

Anybody know?

If the game itself was systematically abusing these pitchers (probably because nobody knew any better), then I would argue that modern standards of career length should not apply to them."

I recall that Craig Wright in "The Diamond Appraised" documents some of the history of this abuse. Been awhile since I've read it, though.

Looking at this issue a bit, pitching in the 19th century was indeed a young man's profession. Cy Young in 1903 was the first pitcher older than 35 to win 18 or more games in a season.

The aptly named "Old Hoss" Radbourn was the only 20-game winner older than 33 before 1901. He was 20-11 at age 34 and 27-12 at age 35 (in the Players League). Tim Keefe came close at age 35 (19-16), nobody else did.

There were only three 20-game winners at age 33: Bobby Mathews in 1885 (30-17), Bob Barr in 1890 (28-24, back in the "bigs" due to the player shortage that year), and Tony Mullane 1892 (21-13).

Only a handful of 19th-century pitchers were consistent big winners in their early 30's. The list includes Bill Hutchison, Keefe, Mathews, Radbourn, Young and Pud Galvin. That's about it.

As much as arm abuse, the sea-change in pitching conditions that came in 1893 cut short (and often ended) the careers of nearly every pitcher active then.

Should they be given a break in assessing their careers? I'm inclined to say no. The great ones (Young, Nichols, Rusie) pitched through it, hardly missing a beat.

More study is needed.

Dan
   85. jimd Posted: January 18, 2002 at 09:18 PM (#509488)
To me, one of the key issues in evaluating these pitchers is the relationship between them and the rest of the team. Are they carrying the team with their pitching brilliance, or are they creations of the team defense behind them? Those are the extreme positions; the reality is some of both, I'm sure, but is it the same as today? Or is the defense more important in a relative sense?
   86. Toby Posted: January 30, 2002 at 03:49 PM (#509622)
For some reason this thought just occurred to me, so I throw it out for discussion. Maybe the year in which a player becomes eligible for election shouldn't be X years (e.g. 5) after his last season, but instead X years (e.g. 25) after his FIRST season ... or even X years (e.g. 45) after his year of birth. That way a player like Kirby Puckett gets considered alongside his true contemporaries, rather than alongside his forerunners.
   87. scruff Posted: January 30, 2002 at 06:32 PM (#509623)
Talk about thinking outside the box! I like the age idea a lot (Juan Cruz and Adrian Beltre excepted).

I'd say maybe 42 is a good age to start considering players. Almost all players are retired by this age. As late as 1964 even (random year, first year of Niekro's career), the only players over 39 of any significance were Hoyt Wilhelm and Warren Spahn. Minnie Minoso and Art Fowler were bit players that year.

Having multiple 40+ players is a relatively new phenomenon. We could take the average retirement age of all current Hall of Famers and add 5 years to that for an objective number.

Whatever number we use, if a player like Niekro or Ricky isn't retired, he could be voted on for his accomplishments up to that point. Then in each future election what he does could be added to his evaluation. This would require discretion by voters, but I think we could handle that.

I would say that I like the idea of using age, but also like the 5 years after retired because it mirrors the Cooperstown version. That helps as far as interest in the ballot for non-statheads (they can see how we differ from the BBWAA). I could be swayed either way.

What do you guys think?
   88. DanG Posted: January 30, 2002 at 07:07 PM (#509624)
Eligibility based on age is an approach I've thought about and, ultimately, discarded. And it's not because I'm a big supporter of the five-year rule; I'm not. I agree with Jim Kaat, who was recently quoted as saying, "Why do players have to wait five years to appear on the ballot?" Kaat wondered. "If you want to wait two years after the guy's career is over to let a little time elapse, fine. Wait two years. Now give him five years on the ballot and let guys who saw him play decide whether he's a Hall of Famer or not. And if he's not in by then, he's off."

Certainly, eligibility based on age has a certain logic to it. But the problems are obvious. Some players will be eligible when they are still active, while others will be gone ten or 15 years and be largely forgotten.

I agree that it would be better for a player like Puckett to be considered along with his contemporaries. Establishing a minimum age for eligibility (42?) would solve that problem.

But for the HoM to do this would, I feel, be too large a departure from the old HoF rules.
   89. MattB Posted: January 30, 2002 at 07:22 PM (#509625)
I think the question is whether the HoF's five year requirement is deeply flawed. I don't think it is. It's sensible to judge someone on their whole career, rather than just until a certain point in time.

As soon as we decide on a age 42 rule, some freakish marginal star will invent "the double secret reverse knuckleball" and go 30-3 at age 46.

Anyway, Puckett is never really going up against his contemporaries, he's going up against all of the best players who retired before him who are not yet inducted.
   90. Toby Posted: January 30, 2002 at 07:43 PM (#509626)
I don't really understand the objection that the HOF doesn't use an age-based eligibility system. The HOM already proposes to use a different voting system, to limit the number of players who can be eligible, to keep players eligible in perpetuity, to dispense with the Veterans Committee ... I thought the idea was to improve on the HOF process, not simply re-simulate the HOF process using Baseball Primer readers rather than BBWAA writers as the voting body.

I think an age-based eligibility system would dramatically improve the process by ensuring that true peers are compared.

Nothing against Kirby, but part of the explanation for him getting into the Hall is because he was essentially at his peak when he stopped playing. When he came eligible, his peak years were only five years before. Guys like Gary Carter, Ozzie Smith, and Jim Rice were all born in 1953-54 and peaked in the early '80s but didn't come on the ballot till 15 years later. Kirby is seven or eight years younger than those guys, born in 1961, peaked in the early '90s, and came on the ballot basically 6-7 years after his peak. He benefitted the sympathy factor, yes, but he also benefitted from the fact that his peak was much fresher in the voters' minds. (No, I have no statistical analysis to back that up, but it seems reasonable.)
   91. DanG Posted: January 30, 2002 at 07:47 PM (#509627)
Eligibility based on age is an approach I've thought about and, ultimately, discarded. And it's not because I'm a big supporter of the five-year rule; I'm not. I agree with Jim Kaat, who was recently quoted as saying, "Why do players have to wait five years to appear on the ballot?" Kaat wondered. "If you want to wait two years after the guy's career is over to let a little time elapse, fine. Wait two years. Now give him five years on the ballot and let guys who saw him play decide whether he's a Hall of Famer or not. And if he's not in by then, he's off."

Certainly, eligibility based on age has a certain logic to it. But the problems are obvious. Some players will be eligible when they are still active, while others will be gone ten or 15 years and be largely forgotten.

I agree that it would be better for a player like Puckett to be considered along with his contemporaries. Establishing a minimum age for eligibility (42?) would solve that problem.

But for the HoM to do this would, I feel, be too large a departure from the old HoF rules.
   92. DanG Posted: January 30, 2002 at 07:50 PM (#509628)
I swear! My browser double posted when I refreshed the page. Wierd.
   93. DanG Posted: January 30, 2002 at 08:13 PM (#509629)
Toby wrote: "I think an age-based eligibility system would dramatically improve the process by ensuring that true peers are compared."

This would only be true if everyone peaked at the same time, which we know they don't. Denny McLain and Steve Carlton were born the same year, but it makes little sense to start their eligibility at the same time.

He does make a valid point about Puckett: "He benefitted the sympathy factor, yes, but he also benefitted from the fact that his peak was much fresher in the voters' minds." As I noted last time, this could be solved by establishing a minimum age for eligibility.

One of the things I think we want is to be able to compare our vote with the HoF voting, to some degree. For example, we want Brett, Yount and Fisk to begin on the HoM ballot at the same time. If you use age-based eligibility, they all start in different years.

Dan
   94. Toby Posted: January 30, 2002 at 08:44 PM (#509630)
Kirby Puckett is a peer of Joe Carter, Chili Davis, and Tim Raines, who are the same age as Kirby. He should be compared with them, not with players ten years older. Kirby was not a peer of the players who came on the ballot the same year as Kirby, most of whom I'm guessing were eight to ten years older than him.

The point at which a player peaks has nothing to do with it. If McLain and Carlton were born in the same year, they should be compared together, it seems to me.

I see the point that there is some comparative value to having players become eligible for HOM at the same time as they become eligible for HOF. But the same value attaches to all the other HOF procedures that are being jettisoned. Isn't the goal to select the most meritorious players? How does tracking the HOF procedure further that goal, once you concede that the HOF procedure does in fact unduly benefit a Kirby Puckett?
   95. DanG Posted: January 30, 2002 at 09:33 PM (#509631)
Toby wrote: "Kirby was not a peer of the players who came on the ballot the same year as Kirby, most of whom I'm guessing were eight to ten years older than him."

The difference isn't quite so drastic. This is like saying Kirby had another 8 to 10 years left to play. Really, it was more like 5 or 6.

Among the contemporaries you mention, Carter retired three years later, Davis retired four years later. Raines is active.

Among others who debuted the same year on the HoF ballot, Winfield is nearly ten years older, but he played forever. Mattingly is a month younger than Kirby; Stewart, Whitaker and Gibson are all four years older. So to say that Puckett is not being compared to his contemporaries is an overstatement. Four years just doesn't have much effect.

He also wrote: "The point at which a player peaks has nothing to do with it. " I disagree. Your contemporaries in baseball are the guys who played at the same time as you did. How you rank among your direct peers has a lot to do with determining your peak value. McLain should be compared to the greats of the late sixties, 64-71. Carlton's comps are the stars of 72-82, when McLain was finished.

Dan
   96. scruff Posted: January 31, 2002 at 01:52 PM (#509633)
I think Mark convinced me here. I'm pretty sure he hit it on the head. I don't really see what this would add, now that I think about it.

Toby -- I think it's a good idea, all things considered, but in the end, it really doesn't add much. Players don't drop off our ballot, so you won't necessarily be compared to your "peers" anyway. I'd probably vote no now as well after reading everything. It seems like that is the consensus at this point, if we're missing something and you want to make a final pitch, I'm all ears.

These outside the box ideas are very good to discuss though. Even if only a few end up being implemented, if we throw enough s*** at the wall, something is going to stick. Keep the suggestions coming.
   97. Toby Posted: January 31, 2002 at 02:42 PM (#509634)
Fine by me, just thought it was worth discussing. Good points all around.
   98. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 31, 2002 at 04:19 PM (#509635)
JoeDimino posted: Also, apologies for the lack of posting here so far. The support has been great, far exceeding our expectations. I have 81 people on the list for ballots so far.

My question is: Where is the list for ballots? I'm ready to sign up now!
   99. J. Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: January 31, 2002 at 05:58 PM (#509489)
Satchel's comments re Spalding are interesting. Could it really be true that the curveball didn't become "the coming thing" until the mid-1870s? I find it highly unlikely myself, given that cricket bowlers were bowling "spin" as far back as the 1820s and 1830s.

The principle of spin bowling is slightly similar to offspeed pitches like the curveball, although not so much that the baseballists would have necessarily adapted the principle. I am sure, though, that many if not most of the baseball players of the 1860s and 1870s were also familiar with cricket, which would have been equally popular at the time in many areas (particularly Philadelphia).
   100. J. Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: January 31, 2002 at 06:01 PM (#509636)
John,

As I understand it, all you have to do is express an interest... send an e-mail to JoeDimino or Rob Dudek.
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