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

Monday, December 19, 2016

2018 Hall of Merit Ballot Discussion

Vladimir Guerrero (267), Sammy Sosa (255), Luis Tiant (189), Jeff Kent (179), Vic Willis (161), Kenny Lofton (151), Bobby Bonds (133), Ben Taylor (130), Buddy Bell (130) and Tommy Bridges (106) will be the top 10 returnees for 2018.

Jorge Posada (95), Bob Johnson (86), Urban Shocker (80), Dick Redding (79), Phil Rizzuto (79), Wally Schang (79) and Sal Bando (68) rounded out the top 20.

2018 - (December 4 - December 18, 2017) - elect 4

Name               HOFm HOFs Yrs WAR  WAR7 JAWS
Chipper Jones       180  70   19 85.0 46.6 65.8
Jim Thome           156  57   22 72.9 41.5 57.2
Scott Rolen          99  40   17 70.0 43.5 56.8
Andruw Jones        109  34   17 62.8 46.4 54.6
Johan Santana        82  35   12 51.4 44.8 48.1
Johnny Damon         90  45   18 56.0 32.8 44.4
Jamie Moyer          56  39   25 50.4 33.2 41.8
Carlos Zambrano      30  23   12 44.6 39.0 41.8
Omar Vizquel        120  42   24 45.3 26.6 36.0
Chris Carpenter      70  26   15 34.5 29.6 32.0
Livan Hernandez      41  16   17 31.1 27.8 29.4
Orlando Hudson       20  18   11 30.9 27.2 29.1
Kevin Millwood       34  20   16 29.4 24.8 27.1
Kerry Wood           24  14   14 27.7 25.0 26.4
Carlos Lee           78  35   14 28.2 23.4 25.8
Ben Sheets           19  11   10 23.4 22.3 22.8
Jack Wilson          12  16   12 23.5 20.9 22.2
Hideki Matsui        36  21   10 21.3 21.2 21.3
Aubrey Huff          30  20   13 20.2 22.5 21.3
Adam Kennedy         12  16   14 21.0 20.4 20.7
Jeff Suppan          11   9   17 17.4 18.3 17.8
Carl Pavano          16   6   14 16.9 18.5 17.7
Francisco Cordero    77   9   14 17.2 14.6 15.9
Miguel Batista       10   3   18 12.7 15.9 14.3
Jason Isringhausen   71   7   16 13.2 12.2 12.7
Brian Fuentes        48   9   12 10.7 11.3 11.0
Brad Lidge           48  10   11  8.2 12.4 10.3
Scott Podsednik      15  15   11  6.9  7.8  7.4
Guillermo Mota       13   7   14  6.3  7.6  7.0
JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: December 19, 2016 at 09:12 PM | 313 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   301. Carl Goetz Posted: December 06, 2017 at 01:40 PM (#5587418)
"Yeah, so I wouldn't yet trust the Andy Cooper MLE."
Doc, is there a reason you guys didn't do Redding in your 3 pitcher segments? I'm currently using Alex King's numbers and with scaling back Smith and Cooper, I now have Redding #1 among pitchers. Are these the numbers others are using? Is there any reason to believe they are overly generous? Just want to give him another look before I place him high on my ballot.
   302. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 06, 2017 at 02:00 PM (#5587461)
I haven't worked up Redding yet. I'm running through all the inducted players from the HOM and HOF first. He might be a while, but I'll try to tuck him in earlier and report on the findings.
   303. Carl Goetz Posted: December 06, 2017 at 02:08 PM (#5587466)
Any opinion on the reasonableness (word?) of the Alex King numbers?
   304. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 06, 2017 at 02:15 PM (#5587472)
I don't have an opinion on them. I'm sorry about that.
   305. Carl Goetz Posted: December 06, 2017 at 02:22 PM (#5587478)
No problem. I appreciate all of your work on MLEs. I think I'll stick with Alex King's numbers as they jive pretty well with the anecdotal evidence on Redding. Actually, may be conservative based on some of that evidence. Though I'll admit even as a Redding fan that I find it hard to believe he was as good as Walter Johnson.
   306. Carl Goetz Posted: December 06, 2017 at 10:48 PM (#5587804)
Ok, I worked with Pennants Added but I'm viewing that as more of a modified career value, but I am using it to some degree. I'm incorporating WAA and WAG from Baseball Gauge (Subbing zero for any negative years) as a good proxy for peak/prime value rather than an arbritary Best3/Best5 type system. I have a rough minimum career value of around 45 WAR (adjusted to 162 game season), Then I rank by WAG and make adjustments moving guys up the list if they are significantly better in WAR or WAA or PA than the guy above them. Its got some objective points to it as well as some subjective points. I basically want to focus on Greatness, but not ignore guys who were really good for a long time. Its not perfect, but I'm much more comfortable with this list than with previous iterations. I'll leave this out here for comment and make adjustments to the list based on whether I agree with comments for about the next week and then I'll post whatever iteration of this list is current to the ballot thread.

1 Jones, Chipper
2 Rolen, Scott
3 Thome, Jim
4 Bell, Buddy Still a big Buddy Bell fan and I feel he is the best returnee. We are light on 3B, so I see no reason to adjust at this time.
5 Redding, Dick
6 Appier, Kevin Best pitcher I have all MLBstats for. Love the 19.2 career WAG as a pitcher. Bigger peak than I expected going in.
7 Jones, Andruw
8 Bonds, Bobby
9 Dandridge, Ray
10 Munson, Thurman
11 Leach, Tommy Love the defense even though I adjusted it down a tad.
12 Taylor, Ben
13 Santana, Johan
14 Tiant, Luis
15 Chance, Frank
16 White, Roy
17 Sosa, Sammy
18 Schang, Wally
19 Parrish, Lance
20 Campaneris, Bert
21 Cicotte, Eddie
22 Kent, Jeff I gave him a best player at an under-elected position bump, but can't get higher than this at this time. 56.2 WAR/ 26.1 WAA / 16.6 WAG isn't good enough for me right now.
23 Bancroft, Dave
24 Cruz, Jose Sr
25 Rice, Sam
26 Lofton, Kenny I like him, but I like 7 OFs more, even after adjusting for DRA issues.
27 John, Tommy
28 Bridges, Tommy I'm warming to Tommy, but not to the point where he's on my ballot. Give me time, Tommy fans; this is way up from before.
29 Cey, Ron
30 Evers, Johnny
31 Rizzuto, Phil
32 Olerud, John

I think Vlad Guerrero is the only top 10 guy not listed above. I need more than 52.0 career WAR, 24.6 WAA, and 14.0 WAG from a corner OF. He's currently around #15 on my OF list.
   307. Michael J. Binkley's anxiety closet Posted: December 09, 2017 at 08:10 AM (#5589161)
Brock -

Not to speak for Doc, but as someone else who will have Fletcher on my ballot and Maranville off, let me offer my reasons. I think the main reason is DRA. I use it for 1/3 of my defensive value for players (and IIRC, Doc uses it for 2/3 - at least for non-catchers). And although DRA has Maranville as a very good defensive SS, Fletcher blows him out of the water on that metric (34.4 dWAA vs 13.9, not adjusting for season-length, Maranville missing most of 1918 due to WW1, etc).

This should account for most of the discrepancy in our respective evaluations. I also tend to be peak heavy, so since Fletcher amassed as much or more value than Maranville in fewer years, that also accounts for his higher placement for me.

- Michael Mengel

P.S. I know that you’re not the biggest fan of WAR and prefer WS, so I understand why we arrive at different values.
   308. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 09, 2017 at 09:15 AM (#5589182)
Brock,

Responding to your challenge in the ballot thread re Fletcher and Rabbit. I think it can be summed up simply and has relatively little to do with the relative merits of various fielding systems.
Rabbit: -228 batting runs
Fletcher: -11 batting runs

This is, to me, something I failed to acknowledge on my ballot and it is Fletcher’s secret weapon. Not only do you get an amazing glove, you get a league-average bat (if we think about it in a year by year basis). Now think about Ozzie. He’s got an OPS+ in the high 80s, but his 80 baserunning runs and 23 DP avoidance runs are a wealth of additional value. Fletcher and Maranville don’t have PBP generated running and DP figures. I’ve run some estimates on them and Rabbit picks up some value but nothing close to Ozzie. We will have to wait for BBREF and Retrosheet to confirm. Still as a RH hitter Rabbit won’t be more than a few runs to the good on DPs and could be a lot worse. Same for Fletcher, so it’s not as though there is a huge source of hidden value for them as there is for, say, Sam Rice or Harry Hooper (who also would benefit from the value generated by throwing that non PBP doesn’t seem to pick up as much of).

Anyway, so even apart from DRA, the case for Fletcher over Maranville from this perspective is not wrong. I can’t speak to a WS perspective. That said, there is a razor thin margin between any strong backlog candidates. If Rabbit had just missed my ballot, that too is entirely defensible due to how tightly packed these guys are around the borderline. There’s another dozen guys who could have made my ballot too. If I’m honest with myself,
A) my preferred Uberstat (bbref WAR) lacks the precision to split hairs
B) defensive stats are less precise than we’d like
C) my sifting/sorting tool (CHEWS+) lacks this level of necessary precision
D) lore and history and award votes lack a great deal of precision
E) my own analysis, reasoning, and general mental faculties, like the average pointy eared Vulcan, are pretty good, but I doubt they are precise enough for this minute level of differentiation either.

I just can’t say with assurance that something is wrong or correct. What I can say is that I’ve thought it through, I am systematic in my approach, that I’m willing to change my mind, and that I see a big enough gap between Fletcher and Rabbit that the latter isn’t much of a factor in my ballot construction while the former is #7. But, hey, I’ve been known to wrong!
   309. AJMcCringleberry Posted: December 10, 2017 at 12:10 AM (#5589471)
Hey everyone. I haven't voted in a few years, but was trying to get a ballot together for this year. I'm posting a preliminary ballot, I'm using WAR (b-ref and fangraphs) mostly. I've only looked at about half the players I want to (and none of the negro leaguers yet), so if you have questions, comments, suggestions, I'm open.

1. Chipper Jones
2. Scott Rolen
3. Jim McCormick
4. Andruw Jones
5. Jim Thome
6. Kenny Lofton
7. Sammy Sosa
8. Vic Willis
9. Buddy Bell
10. Sal Bando
11. Luis Tiant
12. Tommy John
13. Bobby Bonds
14. John Olerud
15. Vladimir Guerrero
16. Bob Johnson
17. Jeff Kent
18. Johan Santana
19. Urban Shocker
20. Javier Vazquez
   310. Jaack Posted: December 10, 2017 at 01:31 AM (#5589481)
My biggest suggestion would be to take a longer look at Jim McCormick. Dr. Chaleeko made some good points on the previous page about the issues with inducting more 1880s pitchers, and I tend to agree. That era is already well represented and WAR as a model is not particularly good at adapting to the gaudy inning totals of the 1880s. If you look at all time single season WAR leaders you'll notice that of the top 30 seasons by RA9-WAR, 27 are in the 19th century, and 18 are in the 1880s. By FIP it's a bit better, but still 6 of the top 10 are in the 1880s. There are nearly a dozen uninducted pitchers from the 1880s with pretty similar cases. You have to ask why McCormick over Welch, Buffinton, Whitney, or Mullane.
   311. bachslunch Posted: December 10, 2017 at 05:26 AM (#5589488)
@310: I ranked McCormick high on my ballot as well. Of the pitchers mentioned, he was definitely the best available. By BBReF WAR with IP:

McCormick: 75.8/4275.2
Mullane: 67.8/4531.1
Welch: 63.1/4802.0
Buffinton: 62.1/3404.0
Whitney: 55.6/3496.1

McCormick has the best WAR of any pitcher not in the HOM by a good margin.

For the rest, I had Welch in my 16-25 range while the rest did not appear on my ballot. I discounted Mullane because he spent half his career and all his best years in the AA, which may not be the best quality league. Buffinton’s WAR was just a little behind Welch’s but he has fewer innings and I tend to prefer career over peak. Whitney is well behind the rest.

I see the 19th century as a time with a glut of excellent pitchers, but to me that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t vote for the best one available. There are gluts and deficits at various positions at various times in baseball history. Others may feel differently of course.
   312. Jaack Posted: December 10, 2017 at 03:40 PM (#5589607)
As I said before, there are tons of problems with using WAR to evaluate 1880s pitchers. WAR was built for modern seasons - it simply wasn't designed with the conditions of 1880s pitching in mind. Pitchers were able to throw comparably enormous amounts of innings because the mound was closer to home plate. To add on, you can argue pitching was less important than ever - the difficulties of playing defense made that a much larger portion of preventing runs than it is today, or even in the 20s and 30s. Furthermore, I think using BBref pitching WAR as the WAR of choice has some issues - it's defensive adjustments seem shaky for any era, but especially for early baseball. Fangraphs RA9-WAR, which, like bWAR uses RA as its base, does not make these adjustments, so it's a little more pure. I think for the sake of accuracy it's better to start there and make your own defensive adjustments as you see fit. But for now, I'm going to use it because it's a superior raw number.

First we need to start understanding these numbers in context. The scaling of WAR for full time players is supposed to be something like
8 WAR=MVP
5 WAR=All Star
2 WAR=Average
0 WAR=Replacement
These function pretty well for most eras. Here's how the ratios break down over a few arbitrary seasons from MLB history.

2017:
3 MVP type seasons (7+ WAR) - 5%
13 All Star type seasons (4-6.9 WAR) - 22%
37 Average type seasons (1-3.9 WAR) - 64%
5 Replacement type seasons (<1 WAR) - 9%

1996:
7 MVP - 9%
21 All Star - 26%
42 Average - 51%
12 Replacement - 16%

1965:
7 MVP - 10%
16 All Star - 22%
40 Average - 55%
10 Replacement - 14%

1933:
4 MVP - 6%
18 All Star - 29%
30 Average - 48%
10 Replacement - 16%

1909:
7 MVP - 11%
15 All Star - 23%
31 Average - 47%
12 Replacement - 18%

The rates aren't totally consistent, but it's definitely within fudgible margins. It's probably worth noting that modern pitchers are becoming less polarized (my guess is that it's mostly due to increased reliever usage - good pitchers don't pitch quite enough to jump into the next tier, bad pitchers simply don't qualify anymore). But compare those ratios to 1880s ones.

1882:
8 MVP - 24%
6 All Star - 18%
6 Average - 18%
14 Replacement - 42% (!)

1886:
12 MVP - 27%
7 All Star - 16%
14 Average - 31%
12 Replacement - 27%

This isn't attributable to there just being a glut of good pitchers. Take those 12 MVP type season in 1886. 4 of them were from HoMers - Caruthers, Keefe, Clarkson, and Galvin. Mullane and McCormick make two more. But the other six - Dave Foutz, Lady Baldwin, Ed Morris, Toad Ramsey, Charlie Ferguson, and Dan Casey - have no one arguing their case. I just don’t think you can look at these numbers an attribute it to a glut of good pitchers. If it were that, we'd see the same names, over and over, but in the 1880s, that just isn't true. Furthermore there were a glut of good pitchers in the 1960s, but the league wide numbers still look reasonably similar to the rest of the 20th century. There's clearly something else at work here.

By RA9 WAR, the top 14 pitching seasons in baseball history happened prior to the 1890s. 90% of the top 50 happened in the 19th century. You can even see a similar effect when you look at negative WAR seasons – nine of the worst ten pitching seasons by RA9-WAR happened in the 19th century, and the only one that didn’t was in 1904. There has been one season of -3.0 WAR or worse in the past century. There were two seasons of -5.0 WAR or worse in 1883 alone. The WAR numbers simply don’t scale at all and taking them at face value is asking for trouble.

To wrap back to McCormick, I’ll admit, he’s probably one of the best 10 pitchers of pre 1893 baseball. But he’s clearly worse than Keefe, Clarkson, and Radbourn. Caruthers was about as good as McCormick, maybe a smidgen worse, but he also had a lot of bat to push him over the edge (and even then, I’m not the biggest fan of Caruthers as a HoMer). The only inductee that is even comparable to McCormick is Pud Galvin. But Galvin pitched 1000 more innings than anyone else in the era, and 1800 more than McCormick. McCormick never led the league in RA9 WAR, and only had three appearances in the top five.

McCormick looks an awful lot like the 1880s adjusted version of Mark Buehrle. Consistently pretty good for a long while, but never really an elite pitcher and didn’t pitch an overwhelming amount of innings like a Tom Glavine, Don Sutton, or Pud Galvin. His case is that his WAR is better than anyone else from his era that’s not yet inducted. But it’s still worse than everyone who is inducted, and WAR is really quite bad ad evaluating pitchers from that era.
   313. bachslunch Posted: December 10, 2017 at 04:40 PM (#5589641)
The Caruthers vs. McCormick comparison caveat for me is that the former pitched half his career and all his best seasons in the AA. And his numbers fell off notably once he got into the NL. As said above, I’m unsure if that league was as good as the NL and am currently treating it as if it wasn’t. McCormick pitched all but one season in the NL.

Having McCormick be one of the best 10 pitchers pre-1893 is a good enough reason to vote for him, am thinking. YMMV.
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