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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

2010 BBTF Hall of Fame Ballot Discussion

As in past years, anybody can pretend he or she is a BBWAA voter at BBTF!

We’ll have two weeks of discussion and then the ballot thread will be posted December 21 (the election will end on January 4).

The eligible candidates are: Roberto Alomar*, Kevin Appier*, Harold Baines, Bert Blyleven, Ellis Burks*, Andre Dawson, Andres Galarraga*, Pat Hentgen*, Mike Jackson*, Eric Karros*, Ray Lankford*, Barry Larkin*, Edgar Martinez*, Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire, Fred McGriff*, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Tim Raines, Shane Reynolds*, David Segui*, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell, Robin Ventura*, and Todd Zeile*.

Just to make sure everyone knows the rules, as we have done in the past, each ballot should follow BBWAA rules. That means you can have up to 10 players on your ballot in no particular order. Write-in’s are acceptable to add to your ballot, but as in reality, they wont count.

* 1st-year candidates

 

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 08, 2009 at 02:33 AM | 167 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 08, 2009 at 04:02 AM (#3406184)
hot topics
   2. fra paolo Posted: December 08, 2009 at 04:08 AM (#3406193)
Who has been elected in previous years? I recall Blylevyn's been elected at least once! (I know - we do it over until the BBWAA agrees with us, but I'm curious to see how often the same people have been elected.)
   3. Tike Redman's Shattered Dreams Posted: December 08, 2009 at 04:14 AM (#3406202)
My ballot (and I'm guessing pretty close to the BBTF consensus):

Blyleven
Raines
Trammell
Larkin
McGwire
Martinez
Alomar
McGriff
   4. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 08, 2009 at 04:18 AM (#3406207)
Who has been elected in previous years?


Blyleven
Raines
Trammell
McGwire
   5. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 08, 2009 at 04:20 AM (#3406209)
My ballot (and I'm guessing pretty close to the BBTF consensus):

Blyleven
Raines
Trammell
Larkin
McGwire
Martinez
Alomar
McGriff


The election starts in two weeks. This is just a discussion thread, just so you know.
   6. Tike Redman's Shattered Dreams Posted: December 08, 2009 at 04:22 AM (#3406213)
The election starts in two weeks. This is just a discussion thread, just so you know.

Yeah, I know. Just trying to start the discussion. :)
   7. AJMcCringleberry Posted: December 08, 2009 at 04:26 AM (#3406217)
I'd vote for 13 if I could.
   8. Daunte Vicknabbit! Posted: December 08, 2009 at 04:33 AM (#3406222)
I'm guessing that we'll have some big Hall voters who go with the max ballot size and add Dawson and either Murphy or Appier if they are also HoM voters. The small hall guys will take shayborg's list and cut off at least McGriff but also possibly Martinez if they don't buy his MiL credit or lack of D. I cannot imagine too many BTFers omitting Blyleven, Raines, Trammell, or Larkin, and Alomar will probably get 90% of the vote or more. McGwire has his obvious caveats with this crowd but gets in easy.
   9. JJ1986 Posted: December 08, 2009 at 04:34 AM (#3406223)
I'd really like to vote in Lankford, but I don't see it. Is there an argument for him?
   10. Juan V Posted: December 08, 2009 at 04:35 AM (#3406226)
What's the official line on tip-of-the-cap votes?
   11. Howie Menckel Posted: December 08, 2009 at 04:37 AM (#3406228)
Lankford (18 comments)

http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/hall_of_merit/discussion/ray_lankford

20th century candidates:

http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/hall_of_merit/discussion/23091/
   12. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: December 08, 2009 at 04:37 AM (#3406229)
I wish I could vote for Murphy, but I just can't.

Meanwhile, I wish I could vote for Martinez a half-dozen times. One of my two favorite players ever.
   13. pinball1973 Posted: December 08, 2009 at 05:50 AM (#3406304)
Roberto Alomar*
Bert Blyleven
Barry Larkin*
Edgar Martinez*
Don Mattingly
Tim Raines
Alan Trammell

I only hesistated slightly at including Mattingly, but Bert, Tim, and Alan still being on the ballot is a fine illustration of the disgust I would have for the actual voters if I cared about their errors in any way that mattered.
   14. rawagman Posted: December 08, 2009 at 05:59 AM (#3406314)
I am a big hall guy and will vote for the full allotment.
I believe the hall should be more inclusive to somewhat validate the ideals of baseball for fans of more teams in more eras. In some small way, a bigger hall does more to grow the game of baseball.
Off the cuff, my vote would be as follows, in no real order:
Roberto Alomar*, Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Barry Larkin*, Edgar Martinez*, Mark McGwire, Fred McGriff*, Dale Murphy, Tim Raines, and Alan Trammell.
The great class of new eligibles has knocked Mattingly and Lee Smith off the ballot.
   15. Chris Cobb Posted: December 08, 2009 at 06:06 AM (#3406322)
I'd really like to vote in Lankford, but I don't see it. Is there an argument for him?

Well, he was better than Jim Rice . . .

My preliminary ballot, more or less in rank order, if anyone cares. Top 8 are all HoM, so it's pretty clear they are well qualified for the Coop. Smith and Ventura don't make the HoM, but get a yes for the HoF.

Barry Larkin
Tim Raines
Bert Blyleven
Alan Trammell
Mark McGwire
Roberto Alomar
Edgar Martinez
Andre Dawson
Robin Ventura
Lee Smith

I would add Dale Murphy, too, if I could. McGriff, no, not even I had more space.
   16. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: December 08, 2009 at 06:08 AM (#3406324)
I am a big hall guy and will vote for the full allotment.


At first I thought this meant that you would be voting for David Segui. It doesn't, does it?
   17. The District Attorney Posted: December 08, 2009 at 06:29 AM (#3406348)
Welp, I'm gonna have Alomar, Blyleven, Larkin, Raines and Trammell for sure, and Dawson 90% for sure. I've seen the Edgar argument play out at length ;), and I'll decide on Smith on my own because I am more willing to give a reliever the time of day than most folks here. So... anyone wanna make an argument for or against McGriff, Murphy or Ventura?
   18. bjhanke Posted: December 08, 2009 at 09:04 AM (#3406410)
Well, let's see here. I know I'll go with the following:

Alomar
Blyleven
Larkin
McGwire
Raines
Trammell

I'll also vote for Lankford, just in case some hot new fielding method shows that he was in the Curt Flood class of gloves (a remote hope, I know); he needs to stay on the ballot. But if he weren't one of my very favorite Cardinals, I wouldn't vote for him. As best we can analyze now, he's not there. I't's just a "keep him on the ballot and see what turns up" vote. It's the HoF. There are lots of voters. You can cast a vote like that in this venue without upsetting the applecart.

That leaves me 3 weeks to analyze and agonize over Appier and Martinez. Right now, my guess would be Martinez yes, Appier no. Unlike the HoM, I don't have to assign a position to Edgar for the positional rankings.

The hardest thing to do will be to analyze Appier. As most of you know, the value of an individual pitcher compared to a position player has been decreasing since the beginnings of pro ball, and is now to the point where a pitcher almost never wins the MVP. This implies that comparing Appier to the position players will result in a no. So I also have to compare him to other top pitchers from his time period, and then try to figure out whether that ranking within the time period would have produced the HoF in other times. It's the opposite of the 1870s and 1880s, where most of the individual team yearly MVPs were pitchers, and at least the top five in the league would usually be hurlers.

- Brock Hanke
   19. Srul Itza At Home Posted: December 08, 2009 at 09:39 AM (#3406418)
I like to fill up the ballot, but I can't here. My choices:

Roberto Alomar -- one of the top second basemen
Bert Blyleven -- one more year of voting for the master of the curve ball
Andre Dawson -- class, power, defense and speed; OBP be damned, the Hall needs the Hawk
Barry Larkin -- greatness while on the field makes up for time lost
Tim Raines -- Rickey Henderson lite, but more than enough for the Hall
Mark McGwire -- Gets in on the slugger's ticket
Alan Trammell -- great SS and worthy representative of the fine Tiger squad of the 80s


Not chosen:

Lee Smith -- being the former holder of saves record is not enough to make a 1,300 inning 131 ERA+ Hall Worthy. I decline to repeat the mistakes of the past

Dale/Murphy/Dave Parker/Don Mattingly -- They had their moments, but not good enough for long enough

Edgar Martinez -- great peak, great hitter, but career too short and lack of time in the field keeps him off my ballot. I keep reading the support for him, and I keep not being convinced.
   20. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 08, 2009 at 01:18 PM (#3406450)
Yeah, I know. Just trying to start the discussion. :)


No problem with that. Just didn't want you not to submit your ballot later on thinking that you already had. :-)
   21. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 08, 2009 at 01:21 PM (#3406452)
Prelim:

Alomar
Blyleven
Larkin
McGwire
Raines
Smith
Trammell
   22. DCA Posted: December 08, 2009 at 01:54 PM (#3406470)
Alomar
Larkin
Blyleven
Trammell
McGwire
Raines
Dawson
Murphy
Martinez
McGriff
   23. Rusty Priske Posted: December 08, 2009 at 02:21 PM (#3406488)
Prelim (though unlikely to change):
• Roberto Alomar

• Bert Blyleven

• Andre Dawson

• Barry Larkin

• Fred McGriff

• Mark McGwire

• Dale Murphy

• Dave Parker

• Tim Raines

• Alan Trammell

It is exactly ten but I neither padded nor cut. It just happened that there were ten I wanted to vote for.
   24. sunnyday2 Posted: December 08, 2009 at 02:49 PM (#3406506)
My personal druthers would be a small hall. But Coop is not a small hall. So just applying THEIR standards and not mine, I would vote for ten everytime and more if I could. By that standard I would vote for

Alomar
Blyleven
Dawson
Larkin
Martinez
Mattingly
McGwire
Morris
Murphy
Parker
Raines
Trammell

Some of the other guys are close. This is my prelim. For my final I have to figure out which 2 to cut. I suppose it would be inviting trouble to ask for advice!?
   25. zonk Posted: December 08, 2009 at 03:12 PM (#3406521)
My big hall ballot will be:

Mark McGwire
- Either you're freaked out by steroids or you're not. I'm not.

Barry Larkin - Best SS in baseball in the period between the decline of Ripken and ascendancy of A-Rod.

Alan Trammell - Amazingly similar, career-wise, to Larkin -- it's one similarity score that makes sense. If not for being overshadowed by Ripken, he'd have a Larkin-esque shot at the real HOF.

Tim Raines - No one can or will ever equal Rickey, but Rock comes as close as humanly possible.

Bert Blyleven - cautiously optimistic for his 'real' chances this year.

Roberto Alomar - Fell off the 2B cliff, but still baseball's best 2B for nearly a decade (maybe with some apologies to Biggio).

Edgar Martinez
- Pretty sure you lose your posting privileges here if you don't vote for him.

Those would be my seven definites... For the remaining 3 spots, I'd chose from the 5 below, in current order of preference:

Dale Murphy
- Awfully abbreviated for an OF, but Murphy was an elite defender for 5 years, won back-to-back MVPs, and with maybe a few apologies (though, less than you'd think) to Mike Schmidt - the best player in the NL for most of the early to mid 80s.

Fred McGriff - Too bad he didn't find a way to scrounge up 7 more homers. Maybe not the worst 1B in the hall, but definitely in the team photo.

Lee Smith - I hated Smith as a Cubs fan - he always seemed like disaster waiting to happen - but he's probably in the same vein as Sutter, and like most big hall guys, I'm of an "if X then Y" voter.

Andre Dawson
- Probably requires a medical waiver to get my vote. Very good, but even young, good kneed, and at his best - he was no Murphy.

Dave Parker
- I wish we could give Parker's knees to Dawson or Dawson's coke habit (or lack thereof) to Parker.


BTW... honestly, I think Jack Morris would probably be the next name on my list.
   26. CFiJ Posted: December 08, 2009 at 03:24 PM (#3406527)
Roberto Alomar
Bert Blyleven
Andre Dawson
Barry Larkin
Edgar Martinez
Mark McGwire
Fred McGriff
Tim Raines
Lee Smith
Alan Trammell

I'm a big Hall guy.
   27. LargeBill Posted: December 08, 2009 at 03:46 PM (#3406553)
Wow, Murphy is a tough call. Guy able to switch from catcher to CF. Two MVP's and those were not questionable choices. A good stretch of consistently great power. In that time frame 36 homers was great power. He lead his league twice and was top five in homers 7 times. Sadly it seems his last couple seasons override the rest of his career. If he could have even been mediocre for a couple more years . . . . . instead he redefined awful. One has to wonder if he had a vision issue, just lost the bat speed suddenly or what. I'm not a Braves fan, but of the guys on this list he is probably the one I most enjoyed watching play. I realize he isn't getting in the HoF, but let him stay on the ballot for the full 15 years.
   28. BDC Posted: December 08, 2009 at 03:58 PM (#3406561)
Hey, Grandma, you spelled Galarraga wrong. Not that anyone's voting for him no matter how he's spelled. I liked Galarraga as a player, though; I have a weakness for high-strikeout sluggers, the Pete Incaviglia types. Galarraga was one of the best of that ilk.

For me, the actual HOFers on that ballot would be Alomar, Blyleven, Larkin, and Raines, in alphabetical order. And so far nobody dissents on any of the four. I am a small-Hall idealist, for sure. You have to have been the best in baseball at your position or role for a while to make my PHOF. On that count, I think Alomar, Larkin, and Raines are easy picks. Blyleven is more of a career candidate, of course, and I am impressed by his near-dominance for a very long time.
   29. Mike Emeigh Posted: December 08, 2009 at 04:15 PM (#3406585)
For me, the actual HOFers on that ballot would be Alomar, Blyleven, Larkin, and Raines, in alphabetical order. And so far nobody dissents on any of the four.


I dissent on Blyleven, for reasons that I have stated before.

My ballot would be: Alomar, Larkin, Raines, and Smith. As I have also said before, Smith's problem is that his career spanned almost precisely the years in which both the role and the perception of the closer changed radically, and for that reason he doesn't quite stack up to either the Gossage/Fingers model closer or the Eckersley/Rivera model. I really need to write about this in detail, and if my bosses (work and home) would give me about two weeks off to do it I might actually get it done.

-- MWE
   30. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 08, 2009 at 04:19 PM (#3406588)
Hey, Grandma, you spelled Galarraga wrong. Not that anyone's voting for him no matter how he's spelled.


Thanks, Bob. I forgot to double-check it last night.
   31. bjhanke Posted: December 08, 2009 at 04:29 PM (#3406595)
Mike - If your post accomplished nothing else, it has made me decide to reexamine Lee Smith. I've been keeping track of your work on relievers, and it's impressive. It's certainly better than anything I have done, or even seen. In fact, if I had to vote today, I'd include him on your recommendation; plus, of course, that he's at the borderline whatever you do. I think you're off on Blyleven, and REALLY off on McGwire (unless the issue is steroids, and in that case, your morals are your morals and you're certainly entitled to them), but on relievers, you're right up there with the best of analysts right now. On that subject, I'm listening, not talking. - Brock
   32. DL from MN Posted: December 08, 2009 at 04:30 PM (#3406597)
Roberto Alomar* - yes, similar to Bobby Doerr and Joe Gordon
Kevin Appier* - yes, 2nd best pitcher available. Meets HoF standards, way better than Lee Smith and Bruce Sutter. In the era of the 5 man rotation pitchers like Appier, Cone, Stieb and Saberhagen deserve a lot better than one and done
Harold Baines - no, just a DH who lasted a long time
Bert Blyleven - yes, why haven't they elected one of the top 20 pitchers of all-time yet?
Ellis Burks* - no
Andre Dawson - if I'm feeling generous at the end of the ballot, marginal, defines the in-out line
Andres Gallaraga* - no, even with the comeback story
Pat Hentgen* - no
Mike Jackson* - no, but I was always a fan
Eric Karros* - no way
Ray Lankford* - better than given credit for, but no
Barry Larkin* - absolutely, one of the top 10 SS not including active players
Edgar Martinez* - yes, just above Dawson
Don Mattingly - no, he's a good 1B but if we induct him the hall would have 75 1B
Mark McGwire - yes
Fred McGriff* - no, too many other contemporary 1B (Bagwell, Thomas, McGwire, Will Clark for starters)
Jack Morris - no
Dale Murphy - no, but has a case as an 80s CF
Dave Parker - no
Tim Raines - yes, terrific leadoff hitter, as much value as Gwynn
Shane Reynolds* - no, won't get a single vote
David Segui* - no way
Lee Smith - not quite as good as Rollie Fingers, I'll have to say no this year
Alan Trammell - yes, just a notch below Larkin
Robin Ventura* - no, but pretty close
Todd Zeile* - not a chance

Blyleven, Larkin, Trammell, Raines, McGwire, Alomar, Appier, Martinez, Dawson

I'd vote for Whitaker, Dwight Evans, Stieb, Saberhagen and Cone if they were still around too. I think everyone else has moved onto VC territory. Will Clark and Edgar Martinez is a tossup.

It's going to get crowded next year. I don't think 4 guys are going to be elected but 4 worthy players are coming on-ballot.
   33. Mike Emeigh Posted: December 08, 2009 at 04:42 PM (#3406617)
Well, since Brock mentioned it:

I need to repost the study data that I have for Blyleven, but the basic issue with him is that he did very poorly when handed a lead, especially early in the game, compared to other HOF pitchers of his era. My expectation from an HOF starter is that when you give him enough runs to put him him in front, he stays there, and Blyleven didn't do that. (Neither did Morris, FWIW.)

For McGwire, my belief is that steroid usage kept him in the game when he very likely would have been forced out of it because he couldn't stay healthy. He doesn't have a HOF resume if you don't include 1996-1999, and I think it's better than 50-50 that he wouldn't have made it through those years.

-- MWE
   34. Juan V Posted: December 08, 2009 at 04:46 PM (#3406627)
Prelim

Alomar
Appier
Bert
Larkin
McGwire
Murphy
Raines
Trammell
   35. flournoy Posted: December 08, 2009 at 04:57 PM (#3406642)
Alomar
Blyleven
Dawson
Larkin
McGriff
McGwire
Murphy
Raines
Trammell
   36. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 08, 2009 at 05:21 PM (#3406668)
Mike Emeigh--I understand that Blyleven's WPA underperformed his ERA+. But he is so, so far above the in/out line by ERA+, that no matter how you calculate it, he's got to be an easy HoF'er, no? How many wins do you want to dock him for pitching "away from the score?" 10? 15? Knock 15 wins off his resume and he's still a no-doubt Hall selection...
   37. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 08, 2009 at 05:36 PM (#3406687)
I can't believe I'd ever be voting for six players in one year, but IMO all of these are eminently Hallworthy:

Alomar - tailed off too early but otherwise an easy pick
Blyleven - finally convinced a couple of years ago by the many BTF threads on the subject
Larkin - a no brainer in all respects, if not quite on the Jeter level
Martinez - screw the anti-DH purists; his offensive numbers drown out the nitpicking
Raines - a poor man's Rickey; not on that level but still over the line
Trammell - fine fielder with a good bat at a key position for a long time; it all adds up

with an honorable mention to McGriff, and a symbolic write-in for Lou Whitaker
   38. zonk Posted: December 08, 2009 at 05:37 PM (#3406691)
Kevin Appier* - yes, 2nd best pitcher available. Meets HoF standards, way better than Lee Smith and Bruce Sutter. In the era of the 5 man rotation pitchers like Appier, Cone, Stieb and Saberhagen deserve a lot better than one and done


I don't want to to give the impression that I necessarily support Jack Morris -- but I think that this is essentially another way of saying players should be judged against their peers, rather than against the totality of players historically.

In effect, were I a HOF voter -- I'd be quite willing to vote for "lesser" candidates in the grand scheme of things if they were essentially the "best" (or least, legitimately in the conversation) versus their peers.

It's the Hall of "Fame" - after all - and I think it's unreasonable to use Honus Wagner as the bar for SS, Rogers Hornsby as the yardstick for 2B, or Tom Seaver as the benchmark for pitchers.

I think every generation has instances where a certain position ebbs in terms of talent.

No, I don't think it's enough to just be the "best" for a season or two (ala Mattingly) -- but when that spans 4-5 seasons (ala Murphy), that catches my eye.

In that regard - Morris does have something of a case, I think.

If we take Morris' peak as basically '79 to '87, he predates Appier and Cone. Saberhagen is something of a contemporary - at least, the young Saberhagen.

Essentially, Jack Morris kind of falls smack dab in the middle of a "dead era" between vintage Seaver/Carlton/etc and the rise of Maddux/Clemens/etc.

The extreme late 70s/early to mid 80s were just not a golden time for pitchers.

The only "true" contemporary that definitely outshines him is truly Dave Stieb (and I don't argue that Stieb outpaces Morris by a pretty good margin).... Other than that, what do you have?

A few years of Ron Guidry? A few years of Rick Sutcliff? Some Fernando? Maybe a Mario Soto here or a Charlie Lea there?

For better or worse, when you talked about the 'aces' of that 79 to ~87 period -- Morris was in the discussion. Granted, he'd usually (in a "proper" discussion) be one of the first to fall out of the discussion, but it wasn't generally the same 'better' pitcher that displaced him --- it was usually someone new.

From 79 to 87 - Morris was consistently 'good' (beyond one season where he was basically mid-rotation fodder) - maybe never great, but beyond Stieb, I'm having a hard time finding another pitcher that point to 8 consecutive seasons of being 'good' from the same time period.

I know arbitrary period markers are a fool's errand - Mark Grace may have tallied the most hits in the 90s, but he's probably not even in the discussion for the best hitter of the 90s - but there's something to be said for consistency when it's achieved in a timeframe where your contemporaries cannot match it.

I'm loathe to use it as HOF evidence - but 3800+ IP and 152 CGs speaks to that same idea.

Morris' name is sprinkled throughout the league leaderboards during that period (yes - for 'bad' things like BBs, too) - someone was usually better in any given year, but if we were to take things like WHIP, CGs, ERA, ERA+, K/9, etc -- and assign simple "10 pts for finishing 1st down to 1 pt for finishing 10th", I'm not so sure Morris doesn't end up posting the most 'leaderboard' points during that timeframe.

Like I said - I don't think I'd vote for him - but I think Morris supporters miss the mark entirely when they try to highlight a single game or claim he was a 'big game' pitcher. Morris' best case isn't one of isolated incidents of brilliance -- it's that he was consistently healthy and good (but never really great) for an extended period of time, and for duration of his career, not a lot of pitchers can make the same claim.

Flame away.
   39. LargeBill Posted: December 08, 2009 at 05:52 PM (#3406716)
Mike E. @ 34, Well the good news is you're batting .500. You're basically right about McGwire. He was stumbling along in the early 90's and his career seemed over due to various nagging injuries. Then all of a sudden he went from done to a demi-god bearing no resemblance to his former self.

However, you missed by a country mile on Blyleven. When you have to make a case against a pitcher by claiming sometimes his team scored early and he didn't hold the lead . . . ? If a pitcher starts over 600 games you can find some odd nonsensical trends in some of them. However, if he pitches well enough to be credited with wins in 287 of those starts, is fifth all time in strikeouts, 9th all time in shutouts with 60 This is the opposite of the crazy argument for Morris that he pitched differently because his team had a lead. It is equally wrong from this direction. The pitcher's job is to limit the number of runs the opponent scores. A starting pitcher may also have the additional job of eating innings to save the bullpen. Blyleven did both of those jobs better than any pitcher eligible for the HoF and not elected. He also did the job better than quite a few who are in the HoF.
   40. Mike Emeigh Posted: December 08, 2009 at 05:54 PM (#3406721)
But he is so, so far above the in/out line by ERA+, that no matter how you calculate it, he's got to be an easy HoF'er, no?


You're missing my point. The point is that my expectation of an HOF pitcher is that he hold leads at far above the rate that a typical pitcher holds leads. And what I found when I looked at it was that when Blyleven was given a lead, he lost those leads at something closer to the rate of an average pitcher than that of an elite pitcher.

It is not enough, in my book, to pitch well but lose or get a no-decision if your team gave you a lead. The mark of an elite pitcher, to me, is that once his team helps him enough to get ahead he does the rest of the job. Blyleven didn't do that often enough, so he falls below the elite.

Again, that's my opinion. I don't expect anyone to share it, I'm just explaining it. I am also suggesting that now that we have detailed game data for recent pitchers thanks to Retrosheet we should be making more use of it rather than continuing to rely on aggregate data standards for making judgments at this level.

-- MWE
   41. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: December 08, 2009 at 05:55 PM (#3406724)
Zonk, I agree with your post 100%. I'm no fan of Morris, but I think he at least has a case for the HOF based on the standards you describe. I've never undertaken the in-depth analysis I would want to do to decide if I would actually vote for him. I'm inclined to think I would not, but I do not dismiss him as easily as most here do.
   42. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 08, 2009 at 05:56 PM (#3406725)
anyone wanna make an argument for or against McGriff, Murphy or Ventura?


My preliminary ballot would look exactly like Rusty's in #23 - the same 10 players with no padding or exclusion. Since that includes McGriff and Murphy, I'll take a crack at this. I was going to include an argument for Ventura, but it was getting excessive, so I'll just make a case for Dale Murphy.

Basically, in HOM terms, I think the argument for all three of these guys boils down to a "fair to all positions and all eras" argument. In HOF terms, it's sort of a cousin of one of the Jack Morris arguments (the 'best pitcher of the '80s' one).

For Murphy, the argument is basically that he was one of the best players of the 1980s. Murphy won two MVPs which, while debatable in the sense that one could have a rousing discussion of who deserved to win those awards, Murphy's name would certainly be prominent in such a discussion. At his peak, Murphy was one of the best hitters in MLB (he was 2nd to Tim Raines in Runs Created from 1981-87, according to Lee Sinins - I think those are park-adjusted) as well as being an excellent baserunner (not 'Tim Raines excellent' of course) and a legitimate Gold Glover (if I'm wrong on this last one, he might slip off my ballot). He was also extremely durable in-season, playing 160+ games 5 straight seasons in his prime (1982-86) and playing over 150 games 12 times in his career.

His career was fairly short, but I lean more toward a peak/prime preference in my Hall-of-Famers. Some of his peak/prime numbers also look superficially low because of the era - his OPS+ numbers at his peak are in the 140s and 150s, but for some reason OPS+'s in the 1980s were lower than today - he was top-10 in his league in OPS+ 6 times, including two 2nds and two 4ths.

AROM has his career WAR at 44.4, which is relatively low for a HOFer (he's tied with Gil Hodges; HOFers around him in AROM's top 500 list are Nellie Fox, Earle Combs, and Heinie Manush, so not the best choices the HOF ever made), but he literally compiled that in 8 seasons - he's got an incredible SIX seasons below replacement level according to AROM. I don't hold those against him, and zeroing out those six years would bump him up to 47.5 WAR which would put him in 187th place among position players (still low - but still based on an 8-year career with a handful of filler seasons on either end) in the same range as Larry Doby, Edd Roush, Hughie Jennings, Bobby Doerr, and Tony Lazzeri (as well as plenty of non-HOFers).

Put it all together and he's the last guy on my ballot.
   43. Mike Emeigh Posted: December 08, 2009 at 05:57 PM (#3406728)
The pitcher's job is to limit the number of runs the opponent scores.


Not exactly, in my book. The pitcher's job is to limit the number of runs the opponent scores to no more than his own team scores. If he does that, he's done his job; if he doesn't, he hasn't.

-- MWE
   44. BDC Posted: December 08, 2009 at 05:59 PM (#3406732)
arbitrary period markers are a fool's errand

Indeed, hence the justified scorn for those who point out that Morris won the most games 1980-89. However, he also won the most games 1978-87, 1979-88, 1981-90, 1982-91, and 1983-92. That's a pretty long stretch, in historical terms.

OTOH, that brings us right back to the issue of "Wins? Who cares?" :) The ERA+ leaders for those six ten-year stretches were Stieb, Stieb, Hershiser, Clemens, Clemens, and Clemens – Morris isn't anywhere near the top of the lists.
   45. sunnyday2 Posted: December 08, 2009 at 06:07 PM (#3406745)
when Blyleven was given a lead, he lost those leads at something closer to the rate of an average pitcher than that of an elite pitcher.


I assume you have data by how much of a lead. I think just "a lead" isn't very meaningful. I'm guessing Bert had more 1-run leads in that mix.
   46. LargeBill Posted: December 08, 2009 at 06:11 PM (#3406754)
Not exactly, in my book. The pitcher's job is to limit the number of runs the opponent scores to no more than his own team scores. If he does that, he's done his job; if he doesn't, he hasn't.

-- MWE


MWE,

That is a book I'm leaving in the library. A pitcher has no control over the runs his team scores. When we start parsing games by stuff like "well his team scored early and then didn't score more to put the game away" . . . you're getting into silly stuff. There are far too many variables that can play into a stats like that to make it useful at all in evaluating a pitcher. Do you count games where a team scores 1 one in the second inning and then their pitcher gives up a run or two in the sixth? How big a lead does a pitcher have to be staked to in order for you to discredit him for losing the lead? One or two run leads are different from a four run lead.
   47. DL from MN Posted: December 08, 2009 at 06:26 PM (#3406773)
Why did Morris win all those games?

Mainly Alan Trammell & Lou Whitaker. Partially Darrell Evans, Chet Lemon and Lance Parrish. Some of Kirk Gibson and Guillermo Hernandez. It's going to make an innings-eater pitcher look really good if you stick a terrific up the middle defense around him and give him a shutdown closer.
   48. DL from MN Posted: December 08, 2009 at 06:32 PM (#3406778)
I wonder how much of Blyleven giving up leads is pitching more innings than his typical contemporaries. Blyleven pitched for bad teams that didn't score runs and had bad bullpens (generally). Even the best pitchers give up runs and they give up more runs the deeper they go in games. Pitchers who eat innings are going to appear less effective by that measure than pitchers who are always pulled before they cough up the lead.
   49. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 08, 2009 at 06:48 PM (#3406796)
Blyleven pitched for bad teams that didn't score runs and had bad bullpens (generally).


Blyleven supporters (of whom I am one) tend to overstate the extent to which Bert pitched for bad teams, though. Blyleven's teams were almost exactly .500 over the course of his career and he pitched for two World Champions. Blyleven's problem is crystallized in his 1974 season. The 1974 Minnesota Twins were a perfectly average team (record: 82-80) with a perfectly average offense (team OPS+ of 102). For that matter, the '74 Twins tied for the AL lead in saves (with a whopping 29 - it was a different era, of course).

And Bert Blyleven amassed a W-L record of 17-17. He looks like a perfectly average pitcher, except for the ERA+ of 142 (2nd in the AL).

The Pirates teams that Blyleven pitched for had terrific bullpens (Tekulve, Grant Jackson, et al.). In fact, the story I've heard is that led to conflict between Blyleven and Chuck Tanner, because Tanner had a quicker hook than Bert liked (leading to an amazing 20 no-decisions by Blyleven in '79).

I don't know quite what to make of that '74 season by Blyleven and, even taking his wins at face value, 287 is an awful lot of wins, so I'm fine with voting for him. But I understand how some people bristle when Blyleven starts getting called one of the top 20 pitchers ever or gets compared to Warren Spahn or some such.
   50. bjhanke Posted: December 08, 2009 at 06:52 PM (#3406800)
Mike said, "You're missing my point (about Blyleven). The point is that my expectation of an HOF pitcher is that he hold leads at far above the rate that a typical pitcher holds leads."

OH! Well, THAT makes sense. I don't agree with you about your expectation there, but if that's your expectation, then Bert does not qualify. Your refusal to vote for him is fully justified.

LargeBill says, "He (McGwire) was stumbling along in the early 90's and his career seemed over due to various nagging injuries. Then all of a sudden he went from done to a demi-god bearing no resemblance to his former self."

I'm not willing to concede that one. Mark put up six good years, four of them really really good years, and then had two years where there was one (not various nagging) obvious injury. He still had some value, but he was obviously hurt. Then he recovered, as players will do and always have done, and then he kept on doing what he had previously done when healthy. The apparent "demi-god" years in St. Louis are the product of moving from a lousy ballpark for home runs to a neutral one (and yes, I've done the math). Mark's injury history is certainly no worse than Paul Molitor's or Barry Larkin's, and no one was calling for them to be demoted back to the minors or anything. In order to convince me of what you've said here, you'd have to convince me 1) that the only reason Mark was able to recover from the injury at all was steroids, no other method would have had any chance of working, 2) that no HoFer ever has had to get illegal pharmaceutical help to get past an injury, 3) that other players never recover from the kind of injury that Mark had (which is the other side of #1's coin), and 4) that the drugs he got were illegal and/or banned from baseball AT THE TIME. I doubt you can convince me of any of the four. Too many other players have had horrible injuries and modern medicine got them over it in a year or two. Steroids were not generally illegal or banned in the 1990s. And I'm even not starting on the pitchers. Let me repeat the key part here: Mark had only one big injury, and lost two consecutive years to it. Given his already-established value, no sane team would just release him. The chance that he would recover was too great, and the value he provided when at all healthy was too high. Players go down for a couple of years and then recover all the time. Not all players, but there's always a few. Edgar Martinez, for example, had two injury years the exact same two as Mark (93-94, Mark has 12 Win Shares divided 6-6, Edgar has 15 divided 4-11), and the Mariners just waited him out. I see no reason to single Mark out unless you are absolutely certain that baseball players cannot recover from a two-year injury, and I don't think you can even convince yourself of that.
   51. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 08, 2009 at 07:03 PM (#3406811)
Blyleven pitched for bad teams

Not really - his teams were below .500 when he didn't get a decision, but not by much. He wasn't exactly Walter Johnson in this respect.

Edit: Coke to Kiko.
   52. zonk Posted: December 08, 2009 at 07:17 PM (#3406826)
Mainly Alan Trammell & Lou Whitaker. Partially Darrell Evans, Chet Lemon and Lance Parrish. Some of Kirk Gibson and Guillermo Hernandez. It's going to make an innings-eater pitcher look really good if you stick a terrific up the middle defense around him and give him a shutdown closer.


I don't deny any of that -- though, when it comes to having a 'shutdown closer' -- I think that's helped a bit by the enormous number of innings and CGs Morris tallied (in that Willie or Mike Henneman or whomever certainly had plenty of games off).

It's an imperfect example - and I certainly don't want to suggest that Morris is the equal of Whitey Ford (Ford's ERA+ for his career IS 133, while Morris is just 105)... but that said -

If Whitey Ford pitches his whole career with say... the KC A's or the Senators/Twins -- I suspect he's not a HOFer.

For better or worse, player's have always gotten some modicum of "team points" -- ESPECIALLY pitchers. Luminaries like Clemens or Maddux probably get in easily and deservedly no matter who they pitched for (though it's worth noting that BOTH Clemens and Maddux also pitched on very fine teams).

I think it's another instance where Don Sutton enters into the discussion - Sutton pitched on some truly superb Dodger teams (especially defensively), basically ended up in Milwaukee when they were contenders, then moved on to Angels when they were winning titles.

I don't have nearly so big a problem with that as I do the deduction of "team points" for players on dreadful teams (ala Blyleven).


EDIT - I guess the bottom line is that I think Morris is quite a bit better than a Rick Mahler.... He was more than just a innings soaker who happened to pitch for a bad team. He was an above average to good innings eater on good teams. Good teams still have aces - and historically, aces have always gotten 'extra credit'.
   53. Gaelan Posted: December 08, 2009 at 07:27 PM (#3406834)
First cut off the top of my head, justification another day.

Raines
Larkin
Trammell
Alomar
Mcgwire
Murphy
Blyleven
Dawson
Ventura
   54. Paul Wendt Posted: December 08, 2009 at 07:46 PM (#3406848)
39. LargeBill Posted: December 08, 2009 at 11:52 AM (#3406716)
Mike E. @ 34, Well the good news is you're batting .500. You're basically right about McGwire. He was stumbling along in the early 90's and his career seemed over due to various nagging injuries. Then all of a sudden he went from done to a demi-god bearing no resemblance to his former self.

Isn't that what steroids were for, body-builder aside? recovery from injuries.
Too bad there wasn't a steroid to prevent Bill Walton's navicular bone from cracking --the myopic basketball fan in me says, although it may be better for Bill that there wasn't.


38. zonk Posted: December 08, 2009 at 11:37 AM (#3406691)
Essentially, Jack Morris kind of falls smack dab in the middle of a "dead era" between vintage Seaver/Carlton/etc and the rise of Maddux/Clemens/etc.

The extreme late 70s/early to mid 80s were just not a golden time for pitchers.


By debuts, smack dab between Blyleven and Clemens. By age, smack dab where zonk says. There isn't a big gap, however.

If Morris had pitched so long as Ryan and Clemens, we would consider him contemporary to both. Indeed, from a distance most people consider Matty and the Big Train or Waddell and Walsh contemporary pitchers.

By ERA+ Morris didn't put up his own best seasons until the late 1980s, where we have only "early" 80-84 and "late" 85-89. Three of his six OPS+ 120s were 1985-87, the only time he posted even two in a row. Gooden and Clemens debuted 1984, Gooden and Tudor posted seasons for the ages in 1985 and Clemens did it in 1986.

"Vintage Seaver/Carlton/etc" impinges seriously on Jack Morris' and Dave Stieb's time from the other side. Carlton and Ryan were the biggest name pitchers in those early 1980s, because Seaver and Palmer declined earlier. Carlton ran 1-3-1 for the 1980-82 Cy Young Awards.


The only "true" contemporary that definitely outshines him is truly Dave Stieb (and I don't argue that Stieb outpaces Morris by a pretty good margin).... Other than that, what do you have?

A few years of Ron Guidry? A few years of Rick Sutcliff? Some Fernando? Maybe a Mario Soto here or a Charlie Lea there?


Anyone who insists on such true contemporaries will get argument for Guidry as well as Stieb; Eckersley too, if it's contemporary careers.

For me that definition is too strict to support Hall of Fame cases.
   55. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 08, 2009 at 07:52 PM (#3406858)
By debuts, smack dab between Blyleven and Clemens. By age, smack dab where zonk says. There isn't a big gap, however.


By age, there's only a 4-year gap between Blyleven and Morris. Blyleven just debuted at an extremely young age (19) so he seems like he's from a generation earlier. I think it's actually one of the reasons why he's unfairly maligned. He's perceived as the 8th or 9th-best pitcher of that generation of pitchers who came of age in the mini-deadball mid-60s (Seaver, Carlton, Perry, Niekro, et al.), when I think he's more fairly viewed as the best pitcher who debuted in the 1970s (or was born in the 1950s if you prefer).
   56. Paul Wendt Posted: December 08, 2009 at 08:05 PM (#3406878)
Quoting four others on Ray Lankford,

>>
9. JJ1986 Posted: December 07, 2009 at 10:34 PM (#3406223)
I'd really like to vote in Lankford, but I don't see it. Is there an argument for him?

10. Juan V is Francoeur of the Francoeur Posted: December 07, 2009 at 10:35 PM (#3406226)
What's the official line on tip-of-the-cap votes?

11. Howie Menckel Posted: December 07, 2009 at 10:37 PM (#3406228)
Lankford (18 comments)

http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/hall_of_merit/discussion/ray_lankford (Ray Lankford at HOM)
...

18. bjhanke Posted: December 08, 2009 at 03:04 AM (#3406410)
...
I'll also vote for Lankford, just in case some hot new fielding method shows that he was in the Curt Flood class of gloves (a remote hope, I know); he needs to stay on the ballot. But if he weren't one of my very favorite Cardinals, I wouldn't vote for him. As best we can analyze now, he's not there. I't's just a "keep him on the ballot and see what turns up" vote. It's the HoF. There are lots of voters. You can cast a vote like that in this venue without upsetting the applecart.
<<

First, I second Howie Menckel's recommendation of the Ray Lankford thread. It's one of many that attracted the valuable attention of our "Old Cardinal Fan" OCF.

Second,
Another old Cardinal fan, Brock Hanke would "keep him on the ballot and see what turns up", although "if he weren't one of my very favorite Cardinals, I wouldn't vote for him." To see what turns up seems to me a legitimate reason for BBWAA voters to cast their votes, although it may be a stretch for Ray Lankford because those writers are endowed with only ten votes each. Some cases should get attention from a distance longer than five-years-past retirement. Others may benefit from a forthcoming sabrmetric advance, although it may not seem now that they deserve continued attention.

Consideration by another body after another fifteen years pass --it's a long wait. It's not a great system, essentially hoping that everyone who should get continued attention will actually get 5% Yes from the writers every year. It does support casting some "keep him on the ballot" votes.

P.S.
Do the participants in a mock election mimic the voters or mock them?
   57. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 08, 2009 at 08:24 PM (#3406909)
Do the participants in a mock election mimic the voters or mock them?


Yes.
   58. Juan V Posted: December 08, 2009 at 08:34 PM (#3406955)
BTW, I'm asking about tip of the cap votes because of Galarraga.
   59. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 08, 2009 at 08:36 PM (#3406962)
Mike Emeigh, that's one peculiar way to look at things. What about pitchers who give up 1 run in 7 innings, while the opposing team scores 1 or 2 runs over that span, but then the pitcher's team scores 2 in the ninth to win the game? Did that SP do nothing for his club??

Look, the argument that the distribution of a pitcher's runs allowed is significant is obviously a valid one. Clearly, a P who gives up 91 runs in one start and 1 run in each of the other 29 starts is more valuable than a P who gives up 4 runs in each start. But focusing exclusively on situations when a P has a lead, while ignoring all other situations, seems nothing short of crazy to me.

Fortunately, we have a more sophisticated tool at our disposal than mere percentage of leads held. It's called Win Probability Added, I imagine you've heard of it, and it measures precisely what you are looking for: What impact did this pitcher have on his team's wins and losses? Unfortunately, we're missing it for the first four years of Blyleven's career, but we can extrapolate.

Just backing out from his innings and ERA+, Blyleven's teams "should" have won 29.5 games more than average from 1974-1992. In fact, his WPA for this time period was just 22.3. Precisely as Mike Emeigh and Blyleven's myriad other detractors state, Blyleven's actual contributions to his teams were less than what a simple ERA+ and IP analysis would suggest.

Let's assume that Blyleven's tendency to pitch "away from the score" was constant throughout his career. If we plot his expected wins above average against his actual WPA, we get the following equation: WPA = .815*expected WAA - .1. Applying that equation to the four years we do not have WPA data for, Blyleven's career WPA would be 33.0, instead of the 43.1 implied by his ERA+ and IP.

OK, using a replacement level of 2.4 wins below average per 200 innings, Blyleven would come out at 102.8 wins above replacement using ERA+ and IP, and only 92.7 wins above replacement using Win Probability Added. That drops him from being a peer of Steve Carlton (103.4 wins above replacement by this method) to the level of Nolan Ryan (94.1 wins above replacement using this approach).

I'm happy to grant that because of his poor distribution of runs allowed, Blyleven was not as good as Carlton, as ERA+ would suggest, but instead was one notch below, in the Nolan Ryan class of starters. But if you're going to tell me that Nolan Ryan isn't a Hall of Famer, then I think we may have to boot you off the island. :)
   60. Mark Donelson Posted: December 08, 2009 at 09:14 PM (#3407058)
Alomar
Appier
Blyleven
Dawson
Larkin
Martinez
McGwire
Murphy
Raines
Trammell
   61. Paul Wendt Posted: December 08, 2009 at 09:18 PM (#3407063)
49. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 08, 2009 at 12:48 PM (#3406796)
> Blyleven pitched for bad teams that didn't score runs and had bad bullpens (generally).

Blyleven supporters (of whom I am one) tend to overstate the extent to which Bert pitched for bad teams, though. Blyleven's teams were almost exactly .500 over the course of his career and he pitched for two World Champions.


hear here!


51. Eric J Posted: December 08, 2009 at 01:03 PM (#3406811)
> Blyleven pitched for bad teams

Not really - his teams were below .500 when he didn't get a decision, but not by much. He wasn't exactly Walter Johnson in this respect.


The example is ironic.

As we are exploding myths today:
The Washington Senators were a bad team before 1912 and a bad team after 1933, except during World War II. They were a good team 1912 to 1933.

Walter Johnson pitched for the Senators 1907 to 1927, his only major league team. Throughout his entire career beginning 1907 August 2, the Senators played 20 games below .500, or ten wins below .500. Playing 154 games to a decision every season, their average W-L would be 76.5-77.5. Johnson generated 138 games, 69 wins above .500 himself. (That follows his W-L record published at baseball-reference.) It's a great individual record, but not great enough to make the Senators a bad team by subtracting it!

It's true that Walter Johnson made his reputation as a great pitcher during his first five seasons when the Senators were an awful team. But he also served sixteen of the following 22 seasons when they were a good team. 1912 to 1926, the Washington posted the best cumulative record in the American League. The Yankees forged ahead in this hypothetical race during their great 1927 season, which was Johnson's 106-inning finale.
(The Yankees are 11.5 games behind at the beginning and 13 games ahead at the end of the 1927 season. I put it in the present tense because I made up the race this hour.)

Coda.
Over all 22 seasons 1912-33, Washington played 55 games behind New York; 98 games ahead of third-best Cleveland; 262 "games above .500". Of course that's just as much about Joe Cronin & Co. as it is about Walter Johnson.

At Baseball-Reference the New York AL team is the "Highlanders" thru 1912. I know from my Charlie Hemphill research that they were sometimes called "Yankees" in 1908. If someone can justify starting the "Yankees" in 1912, this race becomes a legitimate page of Yankees history.
   62. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 08, 2009 at 11:13 PM (#3407247)
Applying that equation to the four years we do not have WPA data for

Actually, we do - it's just not on Fangraphs. Here. It's 2000 points to a win. Blyleven's WPA from 1970-73:
70: 0.72
71: 3.73
72: 2.38
73: 3.60

Walter Johnson pitched for the Senators 1907 to 1927, his only major league team. Throughout his entire career beginning 1907 August 2, the Senators played 20 games below .500, or ten wins below .500. Playing 154 games to a decision every season, their average W-L would be 76.5-77.5. Johnson generated 138 games, 69 wins above .500 himself. (That follows his W-L record published at baseball-reference.) It's a great individual record, but not great enough to make the Senators a bad team by subtracting it!

Bad may have been an overstatement, but they weren't a good team outside of Walter. The weighted average (weighted by number of decisions by the Big Train) of their winning percentage when non-Johnson pitchers got decisions during his career was .460. The same figure for Blyleven was .495.
   63. OCF Posted: December 09, 2009 at 04:13 AM (#3407584)
My 2009 ballot for this particular election was Blyleven, Henderson, McGwire, Raines, Trammell. Henderson has been removed from consideration, and I haven't changed my mind about the other four. So that part is easy. Alomar and Larkin are also easy. So that's 6 names who should be on the ballot. I didn't vote for Dawson last year, and I haven't changed my mind about that, either. As I had both McGriff and Martinez among my top 15 on the HoM ballot, I will certainly consider both of them, although I'm lukewarm in both cases. Including them would get me to the same ballot referenced in post #3.
   64. Bleed the Freak Posted: December 09, 2009 at 04:43 AM (#3407598)
In rough merit order:

Barry Larkin
Tim Raines
Alan Trammell
Bert Blyleven
Mark McGwire
Roberto Alomar
Edgar Martinez
Andre Dawson

and...
Dale Murphy - borderline merit for playing career, pushed above the line due to character.

Considering Lee Smith for the 10th and final spot...It's tough to rank relievers - I do prefer him to elected Rollie Fingers and Bruce Sutter.

I hope that Kevin Appier receives the minimum 5% to be on next years ballot, as he is an interesting borderline guy.

A personal favorite as a boy, Fred McGriff, is a lock for 5%, but will he get ~50%. Fine bat, little to no defensive value.

Is this the year for Blyleven or Dawson to get over the hump?

Will the HOF correctly gauge Larkin's accomplishments, much less Alomar?

Ellis Burks had a fine HOVG career and might sniff some HOM ballots, but may not receive a single vote.
   65. OCF Posted: December 09, 2009 at 05:30 AM (#3407617)
Johnson generated 138 games, 69 wins above .500 himself. (That follows his W-L record published at baseball-reference.)

Johnson has one of the largest discrepancies between his actual W-L record and his RA+ equivalent record in my data set. He also had an unusually low IP per decision (or to put it another way, an unusually large number of decisions for his innings); because of that, the difference manifests mostly in the loss column. His actual record was 417-279; my RA+ equivalent record was 427-230. So instead of subtracting 69 wins from the team, try subtracting 98 wins.

I tried taking a closer look at one of the "good team" seasons: 1912. Johnson was insanely good that year, one of his two greatest years. The Senators were a very good team, finishing 30 games above .500 (91-61), but still 14 games behind the Red Sox (Tris Speaker, Joe Wood, et al.)

Playing in a near-neutral park, the Senators scored 699 runs (quite close to league average) and allowed 581, for a pythag record (exponent 1.83) of 89-63. Johnson himself allowed 89 runs in 369 innings (RA+ 211) while the rest of the team allowed 492 runs in 1007.2 innings (RA+ 104). There were other good pitchers on that team, notably Bob Groom and Tom Hughes. That adds up to a team RA+ of 120 (compared to a team ERA+ of 125).

If we try allocating the 699 runs proportionately to the innings Johnson pitched and to those he didn't, we get an equivalent pythag record of about 32-8 for Johnson and 58-54 for the rest of the team. (Note that that adds up to 90-62, a one game improvement on the overall pythag.)

Except that there's one good reason why that allocation might not be fair. Johnson himself batted .264/.298/.403 for an OPS+ of 99 in 157 PA. He was a better hitter that year than the Senators' 2B, SS, C, and one OF, and a considerably better hitter than any of the other pitchers.

And then there's the matter of allocating runs allowed between pitchers and relief pitchers. Johnson completed 34 of his 37 starts, but he also had 13 relief appearances, finishing them all. It's more likely that he cam into games with someone else's runners on base then he turned over runners to another pitcher - and there's at least some chance that he got out of some other pitchers' jams. (But we don't have Retrosheet data for that year, do we?)

All right, it's just one year. Clearly, the team without him wasn't bad, but wouldn't have been very far from .500. The standings stratified into four groups: 1. Boston, 2. Washington and Philadelphia, 3. Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit, and 4. St. Louis and New York. Not having Johnson would have dropped Washington from the second group to the third group.
   66. DanG Posted: December 09, 2009 at 07:30 AM (#3407680)
Write-in’s are acceptable to add to your ballot, but as in reality, they wont count.
Running through possible write-ins, players retiring 1990-2004 who are not on the ballot this year.

These 7 HoMers:
Keith Hernandez
Dwight Evans
Willie Randolph
Dave Stieb
Lou Whitaker
Bret Saberhagen
Will Clark

Some Others:
David Cone
Albert Belle
Rick Reuschel
Dan Quisenberry
Frank Tanana
Lance Parrish
Jack Clark
Orel Hershiser
Dwight Gooden
   67. OCF Posted: December 09, 2009 at 08:10 AM (#3407697)
Upon seeing the name Orel Hershiser on the list DanG just posted, and in consideration of the buzz that Jack Morris gets from the MSM over one WS game, let's just remember what Hershiser did in October 1988:

Game 1, NLCS: after pitching 8 shutout innings, he gave up a single to Jefferies and a one-out double to Strawberry; replaced by Jay Howell who proceeded to blow the game.

Game 3, NLCS (3 days rest): Allowed 3 runs (1 earned) through 7 innings, left for a PH (in a run-scoring inning), but the Dodger bullpen blew sky-high. At this point the Dodgers were down 2-1.

Game 4, NLCS (0 days rest): Bottom of the 12th, Dodgers ahead 4-3, bases loaded 2 out (after Orosco had walked Hernandez then gotten Strawberry to pop out;: Hershiser came in and got McReynolds on a popup to end the game and square the series 2-2.

Game 7, NLCS (3 days rest from the start, 2 days from the relief appearance): Complete game shutout, game score 80. Dodgers win NLCS. Hershiser named series MVP.

Game 2, WS (3 days rest): Complete game shutout, game score 87. Dodgers led series 2-0.

Game 5, WS (3 days rest): Complete game, game score 76, Dodgers win game 5-2 and series 4-1. Hershiser named series MVP.

For the entire 1988 post-season: 6 appearances, 5 starts, 3-0 record, 1 save, 42.2 IP with 7 runs, 5 ERA 1.06, RA 1.48, two series MVP awards. Not so dominant in other years but still a 2.59 ERA in 132 IP.

Overall, I've got Hershiser a little behind Morris on career value - but it's not much of a gap between them.
   68. Posada Posse Posted: December 09, 2009 at 03:08 PM (#3407777)
Preliminary ballot:

Roberto Alomar
Bert Blyleven
Barry Larkin
Edgar Martinez
Mark McGwire
Tim Raines
Lee Smith
Alan Trammell

I'm struggling some with McGriff. To me he seems to have a good career-based case due to his longevity (493 HR's, etc) and a 134 OPS+ but, in looking at the HOM threads, they seem pretty lukewarm at best about his candidacy.
   69. Chris Fluit Posted: December 09, 2009 at 05:26 PM (#3407928)
What's the official line on tip-of-the-cap votes?


If it's allowed in the actual election, it's allowed here. But be prepared to face anguished posts of protest.
   70. Chris Fluit Posted: December 09, 2009 at 05:39 PM (#3407946)
I'd really like to vote in Lankford, but I don't see it. Is there an argument for him?


Well, he was better than Jim Rice . . .


Uh, no. I know it's fashionable to bash on Jim Rice but no, Ray Lankford, is not as good as Jim Rice.

It's barely an argument worth having but here are some quick comparisons:

Jim Rice: 128 OPS+ in 9058 plate attempts
Ray Lankford: 122 in 6674 plate attempts
Lankford would need some earth-shattering defensive numbers to close a gap of 6 OPS+ and 2400 additional plate attempts

But, at first glance, the defensive numbers aren't there. Despite his horrible reputation, baseball reference has Rice at +24.2 runs over his career with 3/4 time spent in left field and 1/4 at DH. Lankford played a tougher defensive spectrum, 2/3 center field and 1/3 left, but only at an average level (+2.3 runs for his career).

Win Shares and WARP have the same perspective. Rice was 282 and 84.3. Lankford is 227 and 69.5. That's a 45 Win Shares advantage and 14.8 WARP. And that's advantage Rice.
   71. BDC Posted: December 09, 2009 at 06:00 PM (#3407965)
be prepared to face anguished posts of protest

Sounds like fun. OK, count me with one vote for Todd Zeile.
   72. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 09, 2009 at 06:02 PM (#3407968)
Martinez: I believe that his offensive production was enough to make up for his lack of defensive contribution. I also believe that it's possible that some people are so opposed to the DH in principle that it's hard to have a productive discussion on the subject.

Amen to that. With some of these guys I wouldn't be surprised if they'd say that we shouldn't even consider any interleague or wildcard series games in HoF voting. It's like they're stuck in 1972.
   73. DL from MN Posted: December 09, 2009 at 06:17 PM (#3407996)
Monty - you can't vote for Martinez twice.
   74. DanG Posted: December 09, 2009 at 06:25 PM (#3408027)
you can't vote for Martinez twice
Perhaps a write-in for Dennis? or Ramon?
   75. OCF Posted: December 09, 2009 at 06:35 PM (#3408046)
I'll include this line:

"A tip of the cap: Ray Lankford was a very good baseball player. But I'm not voting for him."
   76. Chris Cobb Posted: December 09, 2009 at 06:54 PM (#3408103)
Not that arguing that Ray Lankford was better than Jim Rice is a productive use of bandwith here, given that Lankford won't, and shouldn't, be elected, but here we go . . .

Chris Fluit wrote:

Uh, no. I know it's fashionable to bash on Jim Rice but no, Ray Lankford, is not as good as Jim Rice.

Jim Rice: 128 OPS+ in 9058 plate attempts
Ray Lankford: 122 in 6674 plate attempts
Lankford would need some earth-shattering defensive numbers to close a gap of 6 OPS+ and 2400 additional plate attempts


Well, we could start by looking at other offensive metrics. BP's WARP1 has Rice at a .285 career EQA, Lankford at a .293. Consider the OPS+ gap closed and reversed.

The playing time gap is real, but is as big as the PA comparison indicates? Lankford has 73% of Rice's PAs, but 81% of Rice's games.
But is that enough to put Rice ahead on the merits of the case? Playing time on its own is no indicator of value, and if we believe EQA rather than OPS+, Lankford was adding more value per game offensively, and he was probably adding more value defensively.

But, at first glance, the defensive numbers aren't there. Despite his horrible reputation, baseball reference has Rice at +24.2 runs over his career with 3/4 time spent in left field and 1/4 at DH. Lankford played a tougher defensive spectrum, 2/3 center field and 1/3 left, but only at an average level (+2.3 runs for his career).

Let's look some more.

WARP1 has Rice at -60 FRAA in the outfield, good for 102 FRAR for his career.

WARP1 has Lankford at -15 FRAA in the outfield (pretty close to bbref), good for 168 FRAR, so according to WARP1 Lankford adds 7 wins with his glove over Rice, as an average CF compared to a poor LF. If Rice was actually an above average corner outfielder, he would close that gap.

So how does it add up overall?

WARP1
Rice -- 37.3
Lankford -- 42.7

Current WARP1 rates Lankford _ahead_ of Rice in career value, by 5.5 wins. If you reduce or erase the fielding gap, that could put Rice ahead, but it would be close. If one wanted seriously to sort these two out, a broad review of fielding metrics would be a good idea, as would a review of offensive measures.

Compare this conclusion to

Win Shares and WARP have the same perspective. Rice was 282 and 84.3. Lankford is 227 and 69.5. That's a 45 Win Shares advantage and 14.8 WARP. And that's advantage Rice.

WARP has obviously had a change of view on these players, probably partly as a result of raising replacement level to a more appropriate point. Win shares has to be viewed with skepticism in this comparison, as a) its zero point is way too low, overvaluing playing time greatly, and b) it gives far too little weight to fielding value.

Myself, I'd trust the current version of WARP over old WARP or win shares. Others' views may vary, but I'd say there is meaningful evidence lying around that Lankford was better than Rice. The last instantiation of Dan R's WAR that I have seen definitely gives the advantage to Lankford, since that was what I was relying on when I made the comment, but I don't have those numbers at work to add to the post.

Rigorous analysis would call for a survey of the metrics and interpretation of their disagreements, but the measures I trust more favor Lankford.
   77. Chris Fluit Posted: December 09, 2009 at 07:12 PM (#3408142)
Thanks for the great Jack Morris post, zonk. I did a similar study a couple of years ago, comparing Morris to his contemporaries defined as those who debuted after Bert Blyleven (the last clear HoF/HoMer, whatever Mike Emeigh might say) and before Roger Clements (the next clear HoFer/HoMer, whatever the BBWAA might say). I even included a few of the 1984 debuts (the same year as Clemens) for a slightly larger sample.

Morris came in behind Eckersley (and thanks to Paul Wendt for reminding us of him), Stieb and Saberhagen (an '84 debut, like Clemens). Those three are all enshrined in the Hall of Merit already. And that could very well be where both the Hall of Merit and the Hall of Fame in/out lines should be drawn.

But Morris might have a case as the next best pitcher from that era. It's not a clear cut case, as there are several other pitchers with equal or slightly superior cases. But it's also an overstatement to claim that he doesn't have a case as all. I think Rick Reuschel (1972 debut), Hershiser (1983) and Gooden (another '84) should probably rank ahead of him. But I would take Morris ahead of Frank Tanana, Charlie Hough or Ron Guidry. Tanana's career ERA+ is inflated by some big-inning career years in the early '70s before innings totals started to come down, and he had nearly as many seasons below 100 as above it. Charlie Hough supporters seem to forget that Hough started only 440 of his 858 games played. He was neither an elite reliever nor an elite starter. And you'd have to be a pretty extreme peak voter to take Guidry ahead of Morris.

Is that good enough for the Hall of Merit or the Hall of Fame? No, probably not. The Morris voters should have been voting for Stieb instead. But neither is it as awful a case as Morris' detractors make it out be.
   78. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 09, 2009 at 10:29 PM (#3408455)
AROM has Rice ahead, 41.5 to 38.4. He doesn't have strike credit factored in, but Lankford's '94 isn't notably better than Rice's '81, so that's effectively a wash. The other issue is DH; I know Dan uses a higher replacement level for them than AROM does, and that might be enough to swing it the other way. Basically, it's close, and neither one is a very interesting candidate.
   79. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 09, 2009 at 10:56 PM (#3408500)
Eric J, my equation gave a 10.7 WPA for Blyleven 1970-73, the actual was 10.4. Not bad! :)
   80. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 09, 2009 at 11:06 PM (#3408514)
Eric J, my equation gave a 10.7 WPA for Blyleven 1970-73, the actual was 10.4. Not bad! :)

Not bad at all. That would seem to indicate that his anti score-pitching tendency was indeed consistent throughout his career.
   81. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 09, 2009 at 11:10 PM (#3408522)
Guys that I would not have an issue with if they were elected . . . meaning there is a reasonable case that I can see for electing them. I have 16. I also think everyone should be forced to vote for 10, so they occasionally elect someone that isn't a no brainer before his 15th year of eligibility (and it would eliminate the non-unanimous election of guys like Ripken and Seaver).

Roberto Alomar*
Kevin Appier*
Harold Baines
Bert Blyleven
Andre Dawson
Barry Larkin
Edgar Martinez
Don Mattingly
Mark McGwire
Fred McGriff
Dale Murphy
Dave Parker
Tim Raines
Lee Smith
Alan Trammell
Robin Ventura

Generally what I do from there is pick the ones that stand out as I definitely want in, then from the borderline guys, I vote in reverse order of time on the ballot, so that I support the guys who have the least amount of time left.

The guys who I would definitely vote for are:

Roberto Alomar*
Bert Blyleven
Andre Dawson
Barry Larkin*
Mark McGwire
Tim Raines
Alan Trammell

That leaves me 3 borderline adds, who will be:

Dave Parker
Dale Murphy
Don Mattingly

So final answer:

Roberto Alomar*
Bert Blyleven
Andre Dawson
Barry Larkin*
Don Mattingly
Mark McGwire
Dale Murphy
Dave Parker
Tim Raines
Alan Trammell
   82. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 09, 2009 at 11:13 PM (#3408530)
I do think Appier was probably the best pitcher in the American League not named Clemens, from 1990-97, and it's easy to forget that. Jack McDowell owes him a Cy Young Award.
   83. Paul Wendt Posted: December 09, 2009 at 11:59 PM (#3408614)
18. bjhanke Posted: December 08, 2009 at 03:04 AM (#3406410)
I'll also vote for Lankford, just in case some hot new fielding method shows that he was in the Curt Flood class of gloves (a remote hope, I know); he needs to stay on the ballot.

Probably he also needs to be in the Paul Molitor class of baserunners (or is it Robin Yount?). I suppose that "sea changes" are unlikely where many analysts already use play-by-play data, and we anticipate no further resolution such as location data. Maybe for catchers but not for outfielders and baserunners?

Presuming that Lankford will not be around next year, people should keep him in mind as a reference point for Bernie Williams. Naysayers will minimize the margin for Williams over Lankford and advocates for Williams will maximize it.


Posada #69
I'm struggling some with McGriff. To me he seems to have a good career-based case due to his longevity (493 HR's, etc) and a 134 OPS+ but, in looking at the HOM threads, they seem pretty lukewarm at best about his candidacy.

Make sure to look at Fred McGriff also as a peak and prime candidate with reference to his 1988-1992 and 1987-94 seasons. (The former is the five-consecutive seasons "peak" that we all inherit from Bill James; the latter fits his career. I have specified them in the spirit of that reference to his "career-based case".)

Don't look only at individual-player measures such as aggregate OPS+ (index of a rate) and aggregate Win Shares (bulk). By reference to the same aggregates for contemporaries such as Will Clark, and forerunners such as Tony Perez and Rusty Staub, it may be reasonable to conclude that a lower aggregate in one time is more hall-worthy or meritorious than a higher aggregate at another time. I've named marquee players McGriff and Clark, Perez and Staub for illustration, and they have much in common. But the recommendation is to compare them with all contemporaries, or all contemporary batters re OPS+.

Such examination of these our may be unusually productive because they all belong in the HOF and shadow hall conversations, each a borderline candidate in many opinions; the same peak concept fits all four careers reasonably well; and their timing is interesting. Their peak seasons by OPS+, for example, occurred near the great expansion of 1969, the introduction of the DH in 1973, and the batting boom of 1993 and following seasons. Those events may have influenced the distribution of achievements by leading players relative to league average.

Note, if it matters to "get Tony Perez right", not only to understand batting performances between expansion and the DH, then there is a complication: how to integrate peak primarily as a 3B with career primarily as a 1B.
   84. Paul Wendt Posted: December 10, 2009 at 12:11 AM (#3408627)
Dan Rosenheck does adjust for "ease of domination", colloquially, in calculation of his wins above replacement players, Step 2.

See Step 2 and Notes, Step 2, Dan Rosenheck's WARP Data (#2).
   85. Chris Fluit Posted: December 10, 2009 at 06:57 AM (#3408815)
Well, we could start by looking at other offensive metrics. BP's WARP1 has Rice at a .285 career EQA, Lankford at a .293. Consider the OPS+ gap closed and reversed.

Offensive Win %: Rice .628, Lankford .624
Adjusted Batting Runs: Rice 294.7, Lankford 200.3
Adjusted Batting Wins: Rice 28.9, Lankford 19.1

Not closed, not reversed

The playing time gap is real, but is as big as the PA comparison indicates? Lankford has 73% of Rice's PAs, but 81% of Rice's games.

In this case, plate appearances is the better indicator than games played. Lankford played in 1701 games but he only played a position in 1591 of them (including 4 as a DH). He entered 110 games as a pinch-hitter. He also entered another 108 as a defensive replacement. Lankford had 44 more games in OF (1587 to 1543) but Rice played 433 more innings in the field (13,536 to 13,103) because he started all but 3 of them.

Myself, I'd trust the current version of WARP over old WARP or win shares. Others' views may vary, but I'd say there is meaningful evidence lying around that Lankford was better than Rice. The last instantiation of Dan R's WAR that I have seen definitely gives the advantage to Lankford, since that was what I was relying on when I made the comment, but I don't have those numbers at work to add to the post.

I think the most significant flaw with DanR's WAR is that it is too generous to players with good rate stats but low numbers of games played. I don't trust it at all.

Seasons with 130+ games played: Rice 11, Lankford 7
140+: Rice 10, Lankford 4
150+: Rice 7, Lankford 3
160+: Rice 2, Lankford 0

Rice has as many seasons with 150 games or more as Lankford has of 130 games or more. So Rice is basically playing 20 more games a year. Considering that Lankford averaged 10 games a year as either a pinch-hitter or defensive replacement, Rice is starting 30 games a year more than Lankford. While recognizing that there are inefficiencies and inequities in baseball, I don't think that Lankford is starting 30 fewer games a year because he's a better player than Rice.

Plus, even the rate stats don't bear out the idea that Lankford was the better hitter.

Top tens in selected rate stats:
on-base percentage: Rice 9, 10; Lankford 7
on-base plus slugging: Rice 10, 2, 1, 3, 4, 7; Lankford 10, 5
adjusted OPS+: Rice 6, 1, 4, 6, 6; Lankford 9, 5
offensive win percentage: Rice 6, 1, 3, 6; Lankford 7, 9

and then a few stats that incorporate rate and playing time:
batting wins: Rice 3, 1, 3, 6, 5; Lankford 9, 7
batting runs: Rice 3, 1, 3, 6, 5; Lankford 9, 7
runs created: Rice 2, 1, 2, 10, 6, 6; Lankford 6, 9

Rice had more top-ten finishes even in the rate stats that are supposed to favor Lankford (on-base and offensive win %). When you consider the additional value he built up in those additional games, it's not even close.
   86. Chris Fluit Posted: December 10, 2009 at 07:00 AM (#3408817)
Having written a pro-Jack Morris and a pro-Jim Rice post in the same day, I wouldn't be surprised to find my baseball think factory membership revoked. While I agree that the BBWAA tends to overrate these players for anecdotal and arbitrary reasons, I think that the sabermetric continuity tends to overreact in making them out to be worse players than they actually were.
   87. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 10, 2009 at 07:07 AM (#3408821)
That's a new criticism, Chris Fluit. All you're saying there is that you think my replacement level is too high across the board (as opposed to its treatment of specific positions relative to others, which is frequently a controversial subject). I'm using the same 2.1 wins below/80% of positional average (roughly) used by Tango, Fangraphs, AROM/Rallymonkey/CHONE, BP's VORP...as I've frequently posted, I thought the overall setting of replacement level is "settled law" at this point. What makes you think that the sabermetric consensus is incorrect on this front?
   88. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: December 10, 2009 at 07:08 AM (#3408822)
I think that the sabermetric continuity tends to overreact in making them out to be worse players than they actually were.

Yup.

It;s like those arguing 10 years ago that a sac bunt is NEVER a good play.
   89. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 10, 2009 at 07:13 AM (#3408824)
That said, I don't know what Chris Cobb is referring to: I show Rice with 43.5 WARP2 and Lankford with 39.7.
   90.     Hey Gurl Posted: December 10, 2009 at 07:24 AM (#3408831)
You're missing my point. The point is that my expectation of an HOF pitcher is that he hold leads at far above the rate that a typical pitcher holds leads.


How many pitchers have you tested this against? I would have no problem with your approach if you use it consistently, measuring all pitchers and applying the same standards. But it seems like you're cherry-picking Blyleven and looking into this issue exclusively with him. What are the actual numbers? How often could Blyleven hold leads compared to his contemporaries?

Edit: That sounds douchier than I wanted. All questions are meant honestly, not in rhetoric.
   91. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 10, 2009 at 01:26 PM (#3408868)
Having written a pro-Jack Morris and a pro-Jim Rice post in the same day, I wouldn't be surprised to find my baseball think factory membership revoked. While I agree that the BBWAA tends to overrate these players for anecdotal and arbitrary reasons, I think that the sabermetric continuity tends to overreact in making them out to be worse players than they actually were.


Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. :-)

When you read stories about Rice and Morris being 10 times greater than they really were, it's not surprising to see posts from our community downgrading them in equal measure.
   92. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 10, 2009 at 01:31 PM (#3408869)
You're missing my point. The point is that my expectation of an HOF pitcher is that he hold leads at far above the rate that a typical pitcher holds leads.

How many pitchers have you tested this against? I would have no problem with your approach if you use it consistently, measuring all pitchers and applying the same standards. But it seems like you're cherry-picking Blyleven and looking into this issue exclusively with him. What are the actual numbers? How often could Blyleven hold leads compared to his contemporaries?


I could be wrong, but I think Blyleven's silliness from '79 scarred Mike for life regarding Rik Aalbert. I don't think he would vote for him for any reason, which I suspect many Pittsburgh fans could sympathize with.
   93. Chris Cobb Posted: December 10, 2009 at 02:23 PM (#3408902)
Dan R wrote:

That said, I don't know what Chris Cobb is referring to: I show Rice with 43.5 WARP2 and Lankford with 39.7.

As I said, I was writing from memory, without the numbers in front of me. It turns out that it is my _system_, which is based on WAR2, that has Lankford narrowly ahead. 91.5 to 90.1. In pure career value above replacement, Rice is ahead, 43.5 to 40.8. I also believe I am not working with the latest WAR numbers, as the total I have for Lankford (40.8) is one win higher than Dan R. reports. Because my system gives bonuses for value above average (as many systems do) Lankford's superior rates make up the small career advantage Rice has. If the latest update of WAR2 has Lankford 1.1 wins lower for his career, that might be enough to move Rice ahead, as there would likely be corresponding drops in Lankford's peak values, which are the other factors in my system.

Five more points, and then I will drop the subject of Rice vs. Lankford.

1) As you can see from the fact that my evaluation system, which I apply to all players, values Lankford over Rice, I was not, when I brought up the assertion that Lankford was better than Rice, merely engaging in casual Rice bashing. I was basing the claim on a considered analysis of the numbers that I find more reliable. In any case, they are very close, so the comparison was not inappropriate.

2) Chris Fluit, if you are rejecting Dan R's WAR because of its replacement level, then you and I are not going to find any ground for agreement in this case, or many others.

3) Chris Fluit's playing time analysis above seems skewed, if it is doing what it says it is doing: comparing Lankford's and Rice's most durable seasons, then subtracting out the _average_ of Lankford's entries as a PH or defensive replacement from those seasons. 50 of those 130 plate appearances as a PH occurred in Lankford's first season or his last two seasons. Yes, Rice was more durable, but if you want to compare their durability in their prime seasons, take the PH appearances and the defensive replacement appearances out of the individual seasons, and use those numbers.

4) re replacement level and playing time: one reason that Rice's _career_ playing time value is not as great as it appears is that Rice was basically a replacement level player for his last three seasons, as one would expect of a very bad leftfielder turning to DH who is no better than a league average hitter. Rice's last three seasons add no value to his career. A fair straight-up comparison of Lankford and Rice might begin by dropping Rice's last three seasons, and then looking to see how their careers matched up. Obviously Rice is more durable, and anyone who uses a low replacement level is going to like him better than anyone who uses a standard replacement level.

5) The seasonal leaderboard data in Chris Fluit's post is also a bit skewed. It compares

a) on base percentage leaderboard stats, which are not going to be park-adjusted, and so will overrate Rice and underrate Lankford.
b) on base plus slugging, which has the same limitation
c) OPS+, which is park-adjusted but which still overrates Rice offensively because it leaves out the elephant in his offensive room, DPs

I don't know how offensive win percentage is calculated, but is it probably a more reliable metric. In any case, I have no trouble believing that Rice at his peak was a better offensive player than Ray Lankford. We had before been discussing career measures, on which Lankford does better and Rice does worse, because Rice sucked up so many league average PAs during his final three seasons. I think it highly likely that Rice was a better offensive player over his career, absent those three final seasons, than Lankford was.
   94. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 10, 2009 at 03:29 PM (#3408966)
Chris Cobb, I haven't updated my numbers in over a year. Are you looking at the "v2.1 1987-2005" spreadsheet included in the WARP archive?
   95. BDC Posted: December 10, 2009 at 03:43 PM (#3408987)
Blyleven's silliness from '79 [...] I suspect many Pittsburgh fans could sympathize with

I understand that Blyleven was frequently a jerk, but were/are folks in Pittsburgh actually annoyed about a season in which he went 12-5 plus 2-0 in the postseason, the last time they won a World Series? Them are some high standards :)
   96. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 10, 2009 at 03:59 PM (#3409002)
I meant to post 1980, Bob, not 1979. :-)
   97. BDC Posted: December 10, 2009 at 04:08 PM (#3409010)
Got it. :)
   98. Paul Wendt Posted: December 10, 2009 at 06:19 PM (#3409154)
46. LargeBill Posted: December 08, 2009 at 12:11 PM (#3406754)
MWE>> Not exactly, in my book. The pitcher's job is to limit the number of runs the opponent scores to no more than his own team scores. If he does that, he's done his job; if he doesn't, he hasn't.
<<

That is a book I'm leaving in the library. A pitcher has no control over the runs his team scores. When we start parsing games by stuff like "well his team scored early and then didn't score more to put the game away" . . . you're getting into silly stuff.


92. Shock Posted: December 10, 2009 at 01:24 AM (#3408831)
MWE >> You're missing my point. The point is that my expectation of an HOF pitcher is that he hold leads at far above the rate that a typical pitcher holds leads.
<<

How many pitchers have you tested this against? I would have no problem with your approach if you use it consistently, measuring all pitchers and applying the same standards. But it seems like you're cherry-picking Blyleven and looking into this issue exclusively with him. What are the actual numbers? How often could Blyleven hold leads compared to his contemporaries?



Recently I have inferred that Mike Emeigh is a columnist here, perhaps with plenty of opportunity to present such themes systematically, and he's certainly capable of defending himself. Nevertheless, here are my two cents.

Read the introduction to that book and flip through it, before you determine to leave it in the library. I'm keeping an open mind and my expectations are high. A decade ago, Mike looked at Bill Mazeroski's and his Pirates' fielding in a novel way. He's doing the same with relief pitchers, I daresay based on "innings pitched in" alone. He's from the Berthold Brecht school of sabrmetrics, which someone called "Shock" should appreciate. Don't work to provide good arguments for conclusions that "everyone" accepts without them. Work to overturn some applecart that looks pretty stable. (MWE sometimes works to show what can be done with Retrosheet play-by-play data, even where he must leave the Brecht school to do it.)

Perhaps Mike will work out the details and move on without writing that book, and without covering every pitcher in the Retrosheet era, if there is a stumbling block to full automation. Then others with more interest in "voting right" here at the Hall of Merit will be left feeling more or less obliged to cover other candidate pitchers, at least. --more or less as he is more or less successful overturning that applecart.
   99. bjhanke Posted: December 11, 2009 at 05:32 AM (#3409742)
I'm having an Edgar Martinez problem (actually a DH defense problem), and I'm posting up here on the chance that someone here has figured out a serious solution.

Basically the problem is this: You can't just write off a DH's defense as zero, because "zero" is the replacement level of whatever your system is, and a DH has noticeably LESS defensive value than that. A DH has what I call "Absolute Zero" defensive value. None. If you put a dead body out there, eventually, after several hundred seasons, some pop fly would land squarely on the dead body's chest, bounce a couple of times, and then settle down on the body for a fly ball out. A DH has less defensive value than that. The problem is how much less? Needless to say, that depends on where you put the replacement rate, but it also depends on how far down you are willing to put Absolute Zero. Worse than a dead body.

Right now, all I can do is try to figure out where a system's replacement level is in winning percentage terms, look at someone with exactly twice the replacement level's defensive W%, find out how many defensive WAR that guy has, and put a minus sign in front of that WAR number for the DH (adjusting for playing time, which is it's own corner of hell, because a DH's playing time isn't measured in defensive innings; you have to extrapolate from his PA). This seriously affect's a DH's value, of course, especially compared to the people who have his defensive WAR as zero, which is wrong. Your system will have some glove butchers with negative defensive W% and WAR, because they are worse than replacement, and a DH has to have less defensive value than that, or he would be playing the the field and the other guy would be the DH. So far, the problem has been minor. People like Jim Rice and Dave Winfield take a serious hit from me for their years as DHs, but not a catastrophic one. Edgar Martinez is a different question. His career is mostly at DH. The negative DWAR get pretty high. He drops completely out of HoF or HoM contention.

This is, of course, just the top of the iceberg. Edgar is the first "career DH" to come up in a ballot. There are going to be more, and it's going to be soon. I'd like to have a serous method of evaluating their defensive lack of value.

So, has anyone fought with this one before? Does anyone have a good solution? Otherwise, I have to go with what I have, which is the Defensive W% at Twice Replacement Level deduction I mentioned above. And yes, this issue is why I left him off my HoM ballot. I simply didn't have time to ask for help here, and with the defensive adjustment I was making, Edgar wasn't one of the top 15 candidates.

Thanks in advance for any help,

- Brock
   100. bjhanke Posted: December 11, 2009 at 12:15 PM (#3409818)
Monty, his lack of defense hurts the team every time someone gets injured and the team cannot send their DH out into the field. Besides, you have to take an EXTREME value vs. rate philosophy to think that a DH's defense is actually better than a substantial part of the players who do go out there with gloves on: all the ones who are under replacement rate with those gloves. To claim that a DH's defense is better than that guy's makes no sense. The DH has no defensive value at all. He has to rate lower than anyone who actually goes out there in the field, and every system that I have ever heard of assumes that there are guys who go out in the field whose defense is worse, mathematically, than the system's zero point, which is its replacement rate. If the replacement rate were absolute zero, I wouldn't complain. But it's not. It's always a positive number and, therefore, greater than zero.

It's similar, though not exactly the same thing, as the problem Bill James has with Johnny Bench. He is sure, and so is everyone else, that Bench was an A+ catcher. But his ranking system doesn't generate that. Because Bench was so good, no one would run on him, so the Reds' team profit on his defense is less than a lesser defender who didn't scare baserunners so much. Bill's system sees that and downgrades Bench's glove accordingly (all the way to A, but without the +). Bench is a big problem to Bill's system; DH defense is a big problem in anyone's system.

To assume that a DH's defense is zero is to assume that he is better than I would be. Now, I would be lousy on defense. I'm 62 years old, about 235 pounds, have no arm, and because of a small birth anomaly, run horribly. I would be well under anyone's replacement rate as a glove. And yet, if you put me out there at shortstop in major league games, sooner or later someone would hit a grounder right at me and I'd catch it and get it over to first in time. And at that point, I, who would certainly have a negative defensive ranking, would have contributed more defense than the DH, who would get the better ranking of zero. That can't be right. There has to be some way to compute a DH's defense out to less than zero, and less than anyone, even my aforementioned dead body, who is actually out there with a glove. I know the thought process is right; I was just hoping someone had figured this out before and also figured out what the negative number ought to be, so I can evaluate Edgar and the career DHs who will follow him.
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