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— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Mark McGwire

Eligible in 2007.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 21, 2007 at 08:05 PM | 80 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 21, 2007 at 08:06 PM (#2586444)
This should be a fun thread.
   2. base ball chick Posted: October 21, 2007 at 08:20 PM (#2586464)
and i DO know that all yall ARE here to talk about the past...

hehhehheh
   3. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 21, 2007 at 08:32 PM (#2586482)
and i DO know that all yall ARE here to talk about the past...


That was really lame on his part. Cringe-worthy, even.
   4. sunnyday2 Posted: October 21, 2007 at 08:32 PM (#2586484)
Wow, baseball chick makes an appearance at the HoM! We've arrived!
   5. base ball chick Posted: October 21, 2007 at 08:40 PM (#2586499)
john,

well, not sure what the guy COULD have said. besides confess to multiple felonies and go to prison. or just say - none of your business. period.

and sunnyday,

i just read these threads. from the beginning the rules were supposed to be that voters are supposed to know all about EVERY player from the beginning of time and not just vote on the ones they know, so i really haven't said anything. but i'm a female and after all these years i couldn't keep my mouth shut one more second. what can i say...
   6. sunnyday2 Posted: October 21, 2007 at 08:49 PM (#2586512)
Hey, tell me more ;-)

PS. Was McGwire's 1998 (41 WS) really better than Gwynn's '97 (39) and Ripken's '84 (37)?

WS totals--I should have made the following adjustments elsewhere but didn't

Ripken 436 adjWS
Gwynn 408 adjWS
McGwire 347 adjWS
   7. karlmagnus Posted: October 21, 2007 at 08:52 PM (#2586517)
He's in, but not the player Ripken was. For me, probably below Addie Joss, too -- also a short career and his 163 OPS+, nearly all SLG, was easier than Joss's 142 ERA+.
   8. DCW3 Posted: October 21, 2007 at 08:57 PM (#2586521)
For me, probably below Addie Joss, too -- also a short career and his 163 OPS+, nearly all SLG, was easier than Joss's 142 ERA+.

It wasn't as impressive as his SLG, but a .394 OBP is nothing to sneeze at--better than Gwynn, and far better than Ripken (though of course both of them had much longer careers and other things to recommend them).
   9. Juan V Posted: October 21, 2007 at 08:59 PM (#2586524)
Back in those late 80s-early 90s A's teams, he became my first favorite player (along with Rickey), and that impression lingered. 1998 still is one of the highlights of my baseball fandom, even though I felt a bit dissapointed by all the other stuff...
   10. base ball chick Posted: October 21, 2007 at 09:05 PM (#2586529)
sunnyday2 Posted: October 21, 2007 at 04:49 PM (#2586512)

Hey, tell me more ;-)

- this here boy is ASKING a female to talk more??? poor guys must have spent his ENTIRE life in a nunnery for males.

IS there a nunnery for males kind of thing that even exists?

actually having hung out here for 5 or 6 years with all yall males has taught me that all yall talk/gossip worsen us females that is fer SHER. you just pretend you don't around us so we'll think you are listening which you aren't

hunh wha??????
   11. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: October 21, 2007 at 10:59 PM (#2586634)
OK, this is the big one. This is the one where all of BTF decends upon us to tell us why/not the steroids stuff should keep Mac out of the HOM. And this with the Mitchell report likely coming along any week now.

So let's just take it head-on.

To me there are a few questions that must be answered by every single voter:

1) Did Mark McGwire do steroids?--if no, just vote his record.

2) If you believe he did steroids, will you do the one-year boycott?

3) Is the context of a steroid-infested league meaningful in how one votes on McGwire?

4) Do steroids improve performance? This is where we should talk about research and articles that have discussed whether steroids improve performance or not.

5) How much improvement did McGwire, himself, get from steroids? Can we model this?

6) If the league was infested with steroids, how much relative improvement is McGwire getting vs the league rather than merely over innate performance?

7) How long did McGwire use steroids? What does the evidence suggest about his long-term usage?

8) What, if any, changes can/should be made to his record to adjust for steroids? How should these adjustments be made given the answers to the various questions above?

OK. Let's do this.
   12. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: October 21, 2007 at 11:10 PM (#2586647)
HERE BE MONSTERS
   13. rawagman Posted: October 21, 2007 at 11:13 PM (#2586656)
Part of me beleives that he should receive the one-year ban, but remaining consistent in my beliefs, I think there was a level playing field (as level as it`s ever been) andthat his numbers were not unduly influenced by chemicals.
To spin this answer in with Erik`s 4th question, I do not beleive that steroids impact performance in a meningful way - or at least in a way that actually helps the user with his baseball game.
   14. rawagman Posted: October 21, 2007 at 11:14 PM (#2586657)
I meant Eric.
   15. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: October 21, 2007 at 11:30 PM (#2586674)
I'm going to boycott. McGwire was the cheateriest cheater among cheaters.
   16. AJMcCringleberry Posted: October 22, 2007 at 12:25 AM (#2586791)
Would be behind Clark, but he's going to be elected...so he's probably third.
   17. OCF Posted: October 22, 2007 at 12:27 AM (#2586796)
I'm not going to boycott anyone, any time, over PED allegations, and I'm going to take McGwire's numbers at face value.

The closest comp I have for him is Mize with no WWII credit. (Mize with WWII credit would go well ahead.) McGwire versus Killebrew is peak to McGwire, career to Killebrew, and an overall close call. Even though I do have career-voter tendencies, McGwire has so much peak advantage that I'd take him ahead of Eddie Murray.

Overview: the top 4 ML first basemen eligible by 2006 are Gehrig, Foxx, Mize, and McCovey. After that it gets complicated, with McGwire, Killebrew, and Dick Allen in the mix along with maybe Murray and Greenberg (with war credit.)
   18. Steve Treder Posted: October 22, 2007 at 12:43 AM (#2586895)
IS there a nunnery for males kind of thing that even exists?

Uh, yeah. Ever heard of monks?

actually having hung out here for 5 or 6 years with all yall males has taught me that all yall talk/gossip worsen us females that is fer SHER. you just pretend you don't around us so we'll think you are listening which you aren't

Uh-huh, uh-huh ... I'm sorry, what?
   19. Amit Posted: October 22, 2007 at 12:47 AM (#2586932)

Uh-huh, uh-huh ... I'm sorry, what?


pwn3d
   20. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 22, 2007 at 12:50 AM (#2586954)
Man, I see McCovey at the end of that batch. I have, among eligibles:

1. Gehrig
2. Foxx
3. Mize
4. Greenberg
5. McGwire
6a. Allen but he doesn't really count
6b. Murray
7a. Killebrew only sorta counts
7b. Clark
8. McCovey
9. Beckley
10. Hernandez
   21. vortex of dissipation Posted: October 22, 2007 at 01:22 AM (#2587153)
7a. Killebrew only sorta counts


Is that because you don't see him solely as a first baseman?
   22. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 22, 2007 at 01:36 AM (#2587227)
Right, and Allen too. He certainly should have been a 1B all his life though; he was a real butcher.
   23. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: October 22, 2007 at 01:43 AM (#2587275)
To me there are a few questions that must be answered by every single voter:

9) WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN???
   24. DanG Posted: October 22, 2007 at 02:25 AM (#2587616)
Q: In this discussion, what's the bigger problem, ignorance or apathy?

A: I don't know and I don't care.

I take OCF's position a step further. So long as a pennant is a pennant and the stats of the "steroids era" players remain in the record books and the wins posted by their teams stand and there are no official sanctions from MLB against these players...then I take their numbers at face value. If their use of "whatever" helped their team, what's the problem? Since MLB gave their tacit approval for the use of PED's in that era, why penalize McGwire if other players chose not to employ those sorts of aids?

If Baseball Officialdom accepts their accomplishments, well, that's all that matters in an assessment of their value.
   25. DL from MN Posted: October 22, 2007 at 02:26 AM (#2587632)
Darn, somebody stole my comment - Killebrew Part Deux. If I take the numbers straight up he's still not in an elect-me position (behind Tiant).
   26. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 22, 2007 at 02:42 AM (#2587724)
I see McGwire as far superior to Killebrew. 19 points more OPS+ is just a ton, he didn't kill you on defense like Killebrew did (he was above average at 1B early in his career, below by the end), and he didn't have Killebrew's double play problems. I see McGwire as an easy selection, worse than Gwynn and obviously Ripken but on a par with electees like Billy Williams, Simmons, Snider, and Dick Allen, whereas I have Killebrew at the very bottom of the HoM.
   27. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: October 22, 2007 at 03:02 AM (#2587932)
A quickie about Harm and Mark that I wrote a couple years back for a friend.

Harmon Killebrew probably ran just about as slowly as any other long-career non-catcher since World War II. Among players with at least 9500 trips to the plate, Killebrew hit the fewest triples (twenty-four, tied with Fred McGriff) and hit the second fewest doubles (290, 13 fewer than banjo hitter and speedster Brett Butler). On the basepaths, not only stole the fewest bases (nineteen), but because his slowness discouraged him from running, he was also caught the fewest times (eighteen).

In somewhat shorter careers, two other players grade out just as slowly, John Olerud and Mark McGwire. Who’s the slowest? Before answering that question, it’s important to note that with such high concentrations of homeruns and strikeouts, Killebrew and McGwire are both “advantaged” over Olerud. I adjusted for for this by removing HR and K from the AB of all three. Then I compared their rates of 2B/AB, 3B/AB, and SBATT/OPP to their leagues. OPP defined as singles + walks + hpb.

MCGWIRE
2B/AB: 1.01
3B/AB: 0.21
SBATT/OPP: .09

OLERUD
2B/AB: 1.21
3B/AB: .28
SBATT/OPP: .09

KILLEBREW
2B/AB: 1.02
3B/AB: 0.50
SBATT/OPP: .18

McGwire has the lowest rate of doubles, triples, and steals compared to his league of these three slowpokes, making him a solid choice as the slowest of the slugs.
   28. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 22, 2007 at 03:17 AM (#2588051)
Non-catchers since WWII with the worst career BRWAA2:

(Note: pre-1972 players are less likely to appear on this list, since their non-SB baserunning runs are estimated rather than real, and my estimations obviously have a much lower standard deviation than the actual data).

1. Tim Wallach, -4.7
2. Chili Davis, -4.5
3. Todd Zeile, -4.1
3. Fred McGriff, -4.1
5. Hubie Brooks, -3.3
5. John Olerud, -3.3
7. Edgar Martinez, -3.1
7. Dave Parker, -3.1
7. Wade Boggs, -3.1
7. Alvin Davis, -3.1
11. Pete Rose, -3.0
12. Carl Yastrzemski, -2.9
13. Tino Martinez, -2.8
13. Eric Karros, -2.8
15. Chris Speier, -2.7
16. Mike Hargrove, -2.6
16. Jack Clark, -2.6
16. Greg Gross, -2.6
16. Willie McCovey, -2.6
16. Charlie Hayes, -2.6
16. J.T. Snow, -2.6
22. Dave Magadan, -2.5
22. Mo Vaughn, -2.5
22. Duane Kuiper, -2.5
22. Carlos Delgado, -2.5

McGwire is at -2.3. He does have the "honor" of having the single worst non-SB baserunning season since 1972 according to James Click, at 9.7 runs below average in 1999.
   29. DL from MN Posted: October 22, 2007 at 03:29 AM (#2588115)
Can you pick up on McGwire's knee injury in the data?
   30. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 22, 2007 at 03:31 AM (#2588134)
Do you guys want to know the awful truth or do you want to see me hit home runs?
   31. Chris Cobb Posted: October 22, 2007 at 03:45 AM (#2588246)
No boycotts for me on steroids.

McGwire is an easy #3. Would place a little ahead of his contemporary Will Clark, if Clark were still on the ballot.
   32. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: October 22, 2007 at 12:02 PM (#2588535)
I mentioned this in the Tony Fernandez, et al, thread, but check out the A's games from July 3rd and July 4th 1988. One, or two I guess, of Mac's shining moments.
   33. sunnyday2 Posted: October 22, 2007 at 12:46 PM (#2588545)
>I'm not going to boycott anyone, any time, over PED allegations, and I'm going to take McGwire's numbers at face value.

Ditto.

As a peak/prime voter, I like McGwire as the best post-McCovey 1B, with Murray 2nd and I suppose Clark 3rd. I don't eval active players until they're not active.

I was also looking at my own question of whether McGwire, Gwynn or Ripken's BIG year was the best. Best seasons of the last quarter-century with a big caveat. For several players I only considered what looks like their best season. I considered more than that for Gwynn, being in the current cohort, and Bonds and Bags because they each had more than one year at 40+ (I considered all of the 40+ WS years). Schmidt and Rickey, among others, had seasons that were probably better than some of the ones I considered. Obvious oversight, I flat out forgot about Will Clark's big year, and Sandberg and Boggs should have been in there though there is no way either of those was a top 5 type of year. Clark's might have been.

1. Bonds 2001--doh. .328/.515/.863/267/54 WS

(huge gap)

2. McGwire 1998--.290/.470/.752/218/42
3. Bonds 1993--.336/.458/.677/207/47
4. Bagwell 1994--.368/.451/.750/220/42--this would be #2 except it represents an extrapolation from about 110 games
5. Sosa 2001--.320/.437/.737/208/42

(above are all super-close, little gap here)

6. Piazza 1997--.362/.431/.638/191/39
7. Bonds 1992--.311/.456/.624/207/41
8. Schmidt 1981--.316/.435/.644/195/40--extrapolated from 102 games
9. Yount 1982--.331/.379/.578/171/39--slightly the best SS year
10. Thomas 1997--/347/.456/.611/184/39

(above all very close, too, and the seasons below are all very very close as well)

11. Bagwell 1996--41 WS
12. Gwynn 1997--39
13. Rickey 1990--39
14. Ripken 1984--37
15. Bonds 1995--40
16. Canseco 1988--39

I also considered Gwynn 1984 as he is in this year's cohort, it was a fine season but probably around #30; and I looked at Dwight Evans 1981 which extrapolates to 39 WS but ranks well below #11-16 above, though ahead of Gwynn '84. Of course, '81 also strains my initial criteria of 25 years but I had to follow Schmidt back there. I guess Brett's 1980 wouldn't be too much further to go (1 year, in fact) but I didn't do that.

Depending on your view of defense and especially WS defense, I could see Yount and Ripken and maybe Piazza moving up. There are no other "gloves" who earned anything near 37-39 WS or more in any one season.

But anyway, I'm satisfied that McGwire had the best season among McGwire, Ripken and Gwynn. Considering everything, however, my ballot will probably be Ripken, McGwire, Gwynn.
   34. Mike Green Posted: October 22, 2007 at 04:13 PM (#2588800)
Here are McGwire's age 28 comparables (http://www.baseball-reference.com/friv/scomp.cgi?I=mcgwima01:Mark+McGwire&st=int&compage=28&age=28). The presence of McGriff, who was born within a month of McGwire and whom no one has suggested used PEDs, is noteworthy. McGwire was healthy through 1992, missed most of 1993 and 1994 with a foot injury, and then went nuts when he returned.

It is probably a good idea to consider all of the first basemen of the era (Thomas, Palmeiro, Bagwell, McGwire, Thome, McGriff, and Delgado) at the same time. I doubt that you want more than 3 of them, and figuring out which 3 is a challenge.
   35. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 22, 2007 at 04:18 PM (#2588812)
Good for the HOM, where unlike the HOF, steroids shouldn't matter. McGwire's no Gehrig, but he should be in the HOM without question.
   36. sunnyday2 Posted: October 22, 2007 at 04:24 PM (#2588820)
1. McGwire
2. Bagwell
3. Thomas

Not that much of a challenge, really. Well, the challenge will be keeping the rest of them out so that a glove or two might get in.
   37. OCF Posted: October 22, 2007 at 04:34 PM (#2588838)
A comment on the last paragraph of my post #17 and on Dan R's post #20:

I joined the HoM in 1904, after Anson, Brouthers, and Connor had already been elected. Dan likewise was not among the founders of the project. I simply never included any statistics from ABC in my compilations and never made any attempt to rank them against 20th (and 21st) century first basemen. There are enough complications (schedule length, league strength, etc.) that it didn't seem worth my while for a moot point. I suspect that Dan also hasn't really dealt with ABC. So maybe ABC are simply on a separate list which hasn't been fully integrated.
   38. DL from MN Posted: October 22, 2007 at 04:56 PM (#2588867)
I have Bagwell and Thomas ahead of the rest and McGwire frighteningly close to Palmiero.
   39. DavidFoss Posted: October 22, 2007 at 05:16 PM (#2588889)
I suspect that Dan also hasn't really dealt with ABC. So maybe ABC are simply on a separate list which hasn't been fully integrated.

Dan's research focuses on the 60'6" era. The data he's asked me to help him collect is all 1893 and beyond.
   40. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 22, 2007 at 05:17 PM (#2588894)
I actually thought about a boycott of him a while back, but my suspicion is that there were many players from his era on the "juice," too. If he was just one of a handful, things might be different.

He still might deserve a boycott for his weak congressional testimony, however. :-)
   41. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 22, 2007 at 05:29 PM (#2588917)
Aah yes, my numbers are only 1893 to the present. Certainly all three of them are elites, although it's hard to compare 1880's 1B to the present, when it was more of a middle-spectrum position (I think). I don't have any quantitative measure of where exactly they'd rank.

I have Bagwell as *easily* the best of that group, and 5th overall after Mize. I'd really take five of them--Bagwell, Thomas, and McGwire are clearly 1-2-3, and I'd definitely support Thome and tepidly Palmeiro as well. McGriff and Delgado fall far short for me.
   42. sunnyday2 Posted: October 22, 2007 at 05:29 PM (#2588920)
Approximate ranking, MLB only

1. Musial
2. Gehrig

(medium to large gap)

3. Foxx
4. Brouthers
5. Anson
6. Mize
7. Murray
8. McGwire
9. Greenberg
10. McCovey
11. Killebrew
12. Rose
13. Connor

(gap)

14. Terry
15. Sisler

(small hall in/out line)

16. D. Allen
17. Perez
18. W. Clark
19. Cepeda
20. Mattingly
21. Hernandez
22. McVey

(large hall in/out line, not that there's much of a gap)

23. Hodges
24. Dave Orr!
25. Garvey
26. Chance
27. Cash

(gap)

28. Bottomley
29. Fournier
30. Camilli
31. H. Davis
32. C. Cooper
33. Vernon
34. Beckley
35. York
36. McCormick
37. Powell
38. Kluszewski
39. Konetchy
40. well, you know, who really gives a ####

I don't rate/rank active players but, oops, I haven't gotten around to Raffy yet.
   43. plim Posted: October 22, 2007 at 05:33 PM (#2588924)
32. Shooty's rap name is Rhymenocerous Posted: October 22, 2007 at 08:02 AM (#2588535)

I mentioned this in the Tony Fernandez, et al, thread, but check out the A's games from July 3rd and July 4th 1988. One, or two I guess, of Mac's shining moments.


meh..David Ortiz did the same thing in longer games (by time, not by inning), and in the playoffs, no less.
   44. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: October 22, 2007 at 05:36 PM (#2588932)
meh..David Ortiz did the same thing in longer games (by time, not by inning), and in the playoffs, no less.

I don't recall claiming it was singular. Thanks for pissing on a great memory of mine, though.
   45. Mike Emeigh Posted: October 22, 2007 at 05:38 PM (#2588937)
sunny:

Are you treating Stargell as an OF?

-- MWE
   46. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: October 22, 2007 at 05:42 PM (#2588947)
Thomas (~2016
Bagwell (2011)
McGwire (2007)
Palmeiro (2011)
Thome (~2017)
==========
McGriff
Delgado

Yes, I currently have them all above the line. But you have to remember that my relative line is based on currently eligible players, so Thomas, Thome, Palmeiro, Bagwell don't count against it. That relative line moves to include one more player at each position every four elections. McGwire is eligible at a moment when the line is drawn beneath the 20th guy at the position. Assuming we continue with 3-a-years, then when Palmeiro and Bagwell are due (2011), the line will be drawn at roughly under the 21st best 1B. In 2016ish when Thomas is eligible, it'll be the 22.5th 1B. In 2017ish when Thome is due, it's the 22.8th 1B.

Here's the current standings with WS only (haven't incorporated Dan R's stuff yet, so they are very likely to change at some point):

1. Gehrig
2. Brouthers
3. Connor
4-t. Leonard
4-t. Mize
4-t. Anson
[-t. Thomas]
[Bagwell]
7. Foxx
8. Murray
9. McCovey
10-t. Allen
11-t Clark
12. Greenberg
13. Killebrew
14. Suttles
15. Stovey
16. McGwire
[t-Giambi]
[t-Thome]
[Pujols]
17. Hernandez
[t-Palmeiro]
18. Terry
19. McVey
20-t. Start
21-t. Cash
============
Sisler (trailing by a nose)
McGriff (by 1.5 noses)
.
t-Vernon
t-Cepeda
t-Perez
Good night.

By Thome's due date (2017), it will look a lot like this:
1. Gehrig
2. Brouthers
3. Connor
4. Thomas
5-t. Leonard
5-t. Mize
5-t. Anson
[Pujols]
8. Bagwell
9. Foxx
10. Murray
11. McCovey
12-t. Allen
12-t. Clark
14. Greenberg
15. Giambi
16. Thome
17. Killebrew
18. Suttles
19. Stovey
20. McGwire
21-t. Hernandez
21-t. Palmeiro
22. Terry
23. McVey
=============
24-t. Start (could be wrong here since I may not be crediting Start enough for his 1860s work)
24-t. Cash

Sisler (trailing by a nose)
McGriff (by 1.5 noses)
.
t-Vernon
t-Cepeda
t-Perez
Good night.

Obviously, incorporating Dan's data's going to really change some of these rankings and perhaps move some guys up that might not have been on board before. The two other active 1Bs with any kind of shot are Helton and Teixeira, with the latter looking better at this point than the former. Delgado's chances are long in the extreme, though he's positioned about eight behind Perez, since he's likely past his peak/All-Star level of play.

Ultimately if it means squeezing Cash off the bottom (who I'm not really comfy with anyway), and pushing either Terry, McVey, or Start off it (probably Terry since he has no extra-MLB seasons unaccounted for by my system that McVey and Start do), I'm not going to feel too bad about it either.

But again, this is likely to change, and I do retain some flexibility about whether that in/out line is hard and fast or relative depending on how I feel about the positional depth and the players near the borderline.
   47. sunnyday2 Posted: October 22, 2007 at 05:46 PM (#2588953)
Yes, Stargell is a LF in my world. If 1B he would be #14 behind Connor but above the (gap).
   48. sunnyday2 Posted: October 22, 2007 at 05:48 PM (#2588960)
BTW, Jim Thome couldn't carry Harmon Killebrew's jock strap. I'm just sayin'. ;-)
   49. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: October 22, 2007 at 05:57 PM (#2588979)
I don't really get the Thome isn't good enough stuff myself. 150 OPS+ don't grow on trees, and he's already a better candidate than Palmeiro who people were going to tear their hair out about before the steroids and better too than McGriff who everyone seems to agree is just south of the in/out line. Same OPS+ as Bagwell's career, but Thome's playing in the tougher of the two leagues right now.

Thome's going to get near 600 HR, maybe eclipse it, without a whiff of roid controvrsey (that I've heard, though I've not heard it all), and with a reputation as a great guy. That'll look very HOFy in 2017ish, and despite a peak that's not gigantic (though bigger than, say, Palmeiro's or Terry's or Hernandez's or Sisler's or Perez's or ...), he'll have plenty of career value stacked up so there's a little something for everyone.
   50. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 22, 2007 at 06:08 PM (#2589005)
Mmm, Thome's 2002 was pretty huge, certainly better than anything Killebrew ever did. I definitely have Thome > Killebrew.
   51. sunnyday2 Posted: October 22, 2007 at 06:10 PM (#2589011)
While we're all whining about '87, McGwire sure got the shaft in the MVP vote in '98.

Discuss.
   52. Mike Green Posted: October 22, 2007 at 06:26 PM (#2589029)
Sunny, Pete Rose a first baseman? Say it aint so. I can see OF, 3B or 2B, but remembering him as a first baseman seems pretty cruel to me. Maybe he deserves it.

Bagwell, Thomas, McGwire, Thome, and Palmeiro makes sense if you don't discount anything for PEDs. But, if you do discount some, it's a lot harder. Incidentally, the argument that Bill Terry or Gil Hodges was a better first baseman than Fred McGriff is very difficult to sustain.
   53. rico vanian Posted: October 22, 2007 at 07:35 PM (#2589227)
IMHO- If McGwire was using PED's at a time when they were illegal (U.S. Law) or disallowed (MLB rules) than the only way he should be allowed in the HOF is by buying a ticket and I will never vote for him for the HOM. However, if the PED's weren't against the rules when he used them, then, while perhaps ethically questionable; McGwire falls under the same proviso's as old time spitballers (and I did not vote for Gaylord Perry either).

In an aside, my son is nine and has started to devour baseball in a big way (to my relief- although he IS a Red Sox fan... in a Yankee household!) and he refuses to use any "cheaters" in strat o matic or playstation baseball games.
   54. sunnyday2 Posted: October 22, 2007 at 10:11 PM (#2589540)
>the argument that Bill Terry or Gil Hodges was a better first baseman than Fred McGriff is very difficult to sustain.

OK, dumb question. Is McGriff retired? I don't eval active players and I'm behind a bit. Haven't done Raffy yet and I KNOW he's through.

After this past week, I can probably eval Travis Hafner though. Look up "through" on Wikipedia and they've got his picture.

;-)
   55. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 22, 2007 at 10:20 PM (#2589557)
Anyone who wouldn't vote McGuire in wouldn't vote Joe Jackson in, and anyone who wouldn't vote Joe Jackson in is prohibited from voting, so isn't this a moot question?
   56. Chris Fluit Posted: October 22, 2007 at 10:44 PM (#2589612)
There is a one-year boycott and it's within the constitution for some voters to exercise their right to boycott McGwire for one election. It may be enough to delay his induction for one year, or it may not. But it is a relevant question.
   57. sunnyday2 Posted: October 23, 2007 at 11:30 AM (#2589952)
I stubbornly regard the 3 OF positions as different positions. Rose played more games at 1B than in LF, more at 1B than RF. Ditto Stan the Man. Besides, when I put together an all-time NL team, I like Musial at 1B considering what else is available at the 3 corners.
   58. bjhanke Posted: October 23, 2007 at 12:16 PM (#2589962)
Hi. I don't think I've ever posted on a HoM before because I don't vote, but I did do little research on Mark McGwire that might help here.

1. The only actual evidence that Mark used steroids is Jose Canseco's book. Each of you probably assigns the book your own level of credibility. Other than that, he clammed up in a hearing, on the advice of his lawyer. He also had some Andro in his locker, but that is actually evidence that he was NOT using steroids at the time, for the same reason that having a bunch of aspirin around is evidence that you're not using hydrocodone or something. If you have a major league painkiller, why would you use aspirin? If you've got steroids, why bother with Andro?

2. If I remember Canseco right (I did not read the book, and am quoting from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch), even Canseco says that McGwire was NOT using steroids when he set the rookie home run record in 1987. And if he could do that without them, why should he not be the #1 suspect if someone eventually breaks the veteran single-season record? McGwire is the EXACT guy you would expect to hit over 61 homers.

3. If he was using steroids, it was almost certainly to fight off his many injuries and get himself back into the lineup. Mark was constantly injured and, frankly, if the doctors I've talked to are correct, steroids help a lot more with that than they do with performance. As any pro bodybuilder can tell you (I've kept some track of bodybuilding since the 1960s), steroids make you LOOK muscular, but they don't actually make you much stronger. All the bulking up can also interfere with your swing.

4. I wrote about this in the sabermetrics books I published in the 1990s. I had a list of players who were rail-thin in the minors, but put a lot of muscle on as they entered the majors, and became power hitters. My core list was Eric Davis, Daryl Strawberry, and Jose Canseco. Mark McGwire's appearance in college and the minors did not indicate that he was that thin. I did not suspect my list of steroids - not at the time. But I did comment that so much extra muscle was likely to give them bone and joint problems, because their underlying bone structures were not thick enough to support all that strength. I think I got that one right, if you look at the three careers. McGwire's problems were different. He kept straining muscles and ligaments, not his joints.

5. If you make any reasonable ballpark adjustments, you will conclude that McGwire's homer explosion was nothing more than the result of leaving Oakland, usually the worst homer ballpark in the AL, and going to St. Louis, which has a homer-neutral ballpark. The change was immediate. The local media spent the first two months of McGwire's tenure in St. Louis obsessing over the fact that he was hitting homers at a rate that would be in the mid-60s. Of course, no one except me actually predicted that he might actually hit that many. But if you look, it's all there in his early performance and the ballpark change. There is no reason to suspect that steroids improved his performance.

Therefore, I'm inclined to give McGwire a pass on the steroids thing. If he did take them, I don't think it was for performance enhancement but just to stay in the lineup.

Anyway, that's my opinion.

- Brock Hanke
   59. sunnyday2 Posted: October 23, 2007 at 12:22 PM (#2589966)
I get back spasms now and again. One time a doctor prescribed steroids to reduce the inflammation and promote healing.
   60. Dizzypaco Posted: October 23, 2007 at 12:40 PM (#2589982)
Each of you probably assigns the book your own level of credibility. Other than that, he clammed up in a hearing, on the advice of his lawyer.

I'm guessing that most people base their opinion of McGwire's behavior on the hearings, not the book. The book has never had credibility. If McGwire simply denied taking anything other than Andro at the hearing, I don't think we'd be having this discussion. If he had nothing to hide, I think his attorney is really, really, dumb, given that it cost him his reputation.

If I remember Canseco right (I did not read the book, and am quoting from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch), even Canseco says that McGwire was NOT using steroids when he set the rookie home run record in 1987. And if he could do that without them, why should he not be the #1 suspect if someone eventually breaks the veteran single-season record?

McGwire's home run ratio took off in the early to mid 1990's. It is unlikely, but not impossible, that a player exhibiting the type of power he did early in his career would go on to hit a home run every eight at bats later in his career.

As any pro bodybuilder can tell you (I've kept some track of bodybuilding since the 1960s), steroids make you LOOK muscular, but they don't actually make you much stronger. All the bulking up can also interfere with your swing.

I've heard this and I don't believe it. While steroids doesn't help everyone get stronger, it seems obvious to me that it helps some people build muscle mass, which makes you stronger, which helps hitting home runs. The idea that bulking up interferes with your swing is an idea that I thought was thoroughly discredited 20 years ago. There's a reason so many players lift weights.

If you make any reasonable ballpark adjustments, you will conclude that McGwire's homer explosion was nothing more than the result of leaving Oakland, usually the worst homer ballpark in the AL, and going to St. Louis, which has a homer-neutral ballpark. The change was immediate.

This is demonstrably false. His home run ratio did not vary much between 1994/5 and 2000. The only difference in 1998 and 1999 compared to the few preceeding years is that he stayed healthy.
   61. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 23, 2007 at 12:43 PM (#2589985)
That's the best comprehensive defense of McGwire I've seen on any steroids thread, Brock. I still don't agree with it because of the evasive answers he gave at the hearings, but as I said, I'd still vote him into the HOM, which has different guidelines than the HOF.

Of course, no one except me actually predicted that [McGwire] might actually hit that many [in 1998].

Not exactly. The 1998 Baseball Preview issue of SI had a cover story that read "GET READY FOR A SLUGFEST: Why Maris's record and a lot of others could fall."

And right there on that same cover was a grinning Mark McGwire.
   62. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 23, 2007 at 12:57 PM (#2589989)

There is a one-year boycott and it's within the constitution for some voters to exercise their right to boycott McGwire for one election. It may be enough to delay his induction for one year, or it may not. But it is a relevant question.


But isn't that, ultimately, meaningless?
   63. The District Attorney Posted: October 23, 2007 at 12:58 PM (#2589990)
I'm sorry, but I only see three basic options here.

1. It's not proven, to the level of proof one feels appropriate, that he took steroids.
2. He took steroids, but should not be boycotted because steroids are not a boycottable offense (because so many of his contemporaries also took them, and/or MLB de facto allowed them, and/or they're comparable to other "performance-enhancing" things players have done throughout history, and/or it's not proven they have much effect.)
3. He took steroids and should be boycotted for a year.

It's extraordinarily silly to offer up the defense that he took them, but it's ok because he wasn't trying to hit more homers, but just stay in the lineup. For one thing, there's the very obvious point that allowing one to play, as opposed to not play, is "performance-enhancing" -- I mean, are you serious? But just in general, unless he had been prescribed them by a doctor and cleared it with MLB,I don't see how it can matter at all why he was taking them. Even if he was just taking them because he liked the taste, what does it matter? If he took them, and if you don't think any of the defenses in #2 apply, then you gotta boycott, IMO.
   64. Mark Donelson Posted: October 23, 2007 at 01:12 PM (#2590000)
then you gotta boycott, IMO.

You seem to be under the misapprehension that the boycott is a rule--i.e., "You must boycott a player for one year who you feel has violated the rules of MLB" (or whatever). It isn't. I'm against boycotting, haven't boycotted anyone, and won't boycott anyone.

It is of course possible that I'm the one in error here, but this is how I've understood the HOM boycotting to work: it's voluntary, essentially a bone thrown to the voters who wanted to express their feelings re the Jacksons and Roses of the world. IIRC, the Commish was against allowing a boycott at all originally, and only reluctantly agreed to include the one-year version to satisfy those voters. (I do agree with SdeB that the one-year boycott is meaningless in the end, but those voters apparently disagree, and in my opinion there's little harm done by it.)
   65. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 23, 2007 at 01:30 PM (#2590021)
It's extraordinarily silly to offer up the defense that he took them, but it's ok because he wasn't trying to hit more homers, but just stay in the lineup. For one thing, there's the very obvious point that allowing one to play, as opposed to not play, is "performance-enhancing" -- I mean, are you serious? But just in general, unless he had been prescribed them by a doctor and cleared it with MLB,I don't see how it can matter at all why he was taking them. Even if he was just taking them because he liked the taste, what does it matter? If he took them, and if you don't think any of the defenses in #2 apply, then you gotta boycott, IMO.

The key point here is whether he had MLB's pre-approval, which he didn't. But to me there certainly would be a distinction if he had used steroids (under a doctor's prescription and with MLB's approval) to try to "stay in the lineup", as opposed to taking them (on the sly) for the purpose of "trying to hit more homers."

Yes, I know that in some cases it's not easy to separate the two motivations, but if you don't make the attempt, you wind up lumping (short cut here, not to be taken literally) "home run pills" with the likes of cortisone injections, amphetamines and Tommy John surgery.

And that's not to say that there aren't disinctions to be made among those as well, but all of them are clearly in the "stay in the lineup" category more than anything else. Which is turn may be called "performance enhancing" if you use a literal-minded definition, but not if you go with the commonly accepted meaning of the term. What Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens did by taking cortisone shots is not the equivalent of taking performance-enhancing steroids a la Palmeiro or the others in his category.

But to me all of this is moot in a HOM discussion, anyway. This should be about numbers, period.
   66. AROM Posted: October 23, 2007 at 01:33 PM (#2590025)
Of course, no one except me actually predicted that [McGwire] might actually hit that many [in 1998].


Did you predict 70 on the nose or something? I thought he had a great chance going into 1998, I remember telling anyone who would listen about him hitting 57 in 536 AB from 1993 to 1995. Then he hits 52 in only 130 games, followed by 58. He was an established 50 homer guy, as opposed to someone who just hit 50 in one season, and it was the first time you could say that about anyone since Babe Ruth. He was just a few hot streaks and good health away from breaking the record.
   67. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 23, 2007 at 01:40 PM (#2590040)
I take OCF's position a step further. So long as a pennant is a pennant and the stats of the "steroids era" players remain in the record books and the wins posted by their teams stand and there are no official sanctions from MLB against these players...then I take their numbers at face value. If their use of "whatever" helped their team, what's the problem? Since MLB gave their tacit approval for the use of PED's in that era, why penalize McGwire if other players chose not to employ those sorts of aids?


I agree. I'll take that a step further, even if MLB imposes retroactive sanctions, I wouldn't recognize them. They allowed this behavior by sticking their heads in the sand. I personally think the Canseco book has a ton of credibility, especially when combined with Caminiti's remarks and everything else we've seen the last few years. I'll be shocked if it turns out that less than 50% of the league was on the stuff.

But that's neither here nor there, the Hall of Merit rules are pretty clear on this. Thanks for keeping this thread civil guys (and baseball chick).
   68. Mike Green Posted: October 23, 2007 at 01:55 PM (#2590058)
Considering that Fred McGriff will turn 44 next week (ouch!), and hasn't played since he had 72 at-bats in 2004, I'd say that you can safely put him in the "retired" category.

The argument that McGwire's homer explosion resulted from his departure from Oakland is not consistent with the historical record. He slugged over .700 in 970 PAs in Oakland in 1995-96 at age 31-32 after slugging .490 between age 22-30 there.
   69. TDF, situational idiot Posted: October 23, 2007 at 01:57 PM (#2590061)
Of course, no one except me actually predicted that [McGwire] might actually hit that many [in 1998].

Did you predict 70 on the nose or something?


I have, right in front of me, a little toy bat on which I wrote "McGwire 70" on the first day of the season in '98. Thus was my reputation as a "baseball expert" at work born.
   70. AROM Posted: October 23, 2007 at 02:08 PM (#2590078)
I'm pretty sure that I speculated on that number, because in my APBA league in 1995 Conan hit 70 right on the nose. But I didn't seriously think he'd actually hit 70 until he actually did it, McGwire had 66 going into the last 2 games of the year.
   71. Mike Emeigh Posted: October 23, 2007 at 02:10 PM (#2590080)
One time a doctor prescribed steroids to reduce the inflammation and promote healing.


Those were probably cortico-steroids, not anabolic steroids. I've taken those, too.

-- MWE
   72. bjhanke Posted: October 23, 2007 at 05:05 PM (#2590291)
<<If you make any reasonable ballpark adjustments, you will conclude that McGwire's homer explosion was nothing more than the result of leaving Oakland, usually the worst homer ballpark in the AL, and going to St. Louis, which has a homer-neutral ballpark. The change was immediate.

This is demonstrably false. His home run ratio did not vary much between 1994/5 and 2000. The only difference in 1998 and 1999 compared to the few preceeding years is that he stayed healthy.>>

McGwire's simple home run ratio (homers divided by at-bats) was .088 in 1987, when he set the rookie record. They stay below that mark, sometimes a lot below it, through 1992, when it's .090, Mark's career high to that point. Then he lost most of 93 and 94 to injuries and a labor stoppage. When 95 came around, so did a jump in homers across baseball. McGwire's ratio jumps to .123. It's .123 again in 96, which is absurdly consistent, and then .107 in 97, which is the year he moved to St. Louis. His splits that year were .093 in Oakland, which is lower than .123 but still higher than any before that year, and then .138 in St. Louie. In 1998, he had the same .138 ratio (again!), and hit 70. In 1999, it dropped off to .125, and he starts to decline. I stand by my statement. The differences may not look large, but they're remarkably consistent within the three periods of his career. Period 1 is in Oakland before 1995's offensive surge (actually, the surge starts in 94, if I remember right, but that was a partial year). Period two is in Oakland after the surge. Period three is in St. Louis. Each period is consistent within itself, except for the occasional dropoff year between 87 and 93. There is a jump at the start of each period, and the percentages remain consistent within the period. Each new period's percentages are ALL larger than ANY of the period before. If you take the second period's .123 ratio and apply it to 1998's 509 at-bats, you get 62.6 homers, not 70. The potential to break Maris' record was there in Oakland after 94, but there IS a jump when he moves to St. Louis, and the jump is ongoing, not just a fluke couple of months.

Oh, and BTW, thanks for letting me know that there WERE other people who saw this in 1997. I kept re-running the figures to make sure I wasn't making some sort of error. At the time, I was writing a column for the local alternative weekly, the Riverfront Times. When I sent in the McGwire column, I got a LOT of flak from the local sports media. If only I'd known that I had some backup, I assure you I would have used it. I really mean the thanks. At the time, I thought I'd gone crazy. Oh, and no, I did not predict 70. The numbers did come up at about 70, but that was assuming more than 500 at-bats, which did not look like a good gamble at the time. So, I used a smaller AB number, and predicted 65 or so, depending upon playing time. I never thought he'd actually hit 70 until I saw him do it.

<<I'm guessing that most people base their opinion of McGwire's behavior on the hearings, not the book. The book has never had credibility. If McGwire simply denied taking anything other than Andro at the hearing, I don't think we'd be having this discussion. If he had nothing to hide, I think his attorney is really, really, dumb, given that it cost him his reputation.>>

<<Those were probably cortico-steroids, not anabolic steroids. I've taken those, too.>>

It's possible that these comments are linked. McGwire wasn't asked at the hearing, as far as I know, whether he took ANABOLIC steoids or CORTICO steroids. It may well be that his lawyer's advice was to not say anything because the hearings, which had all the feel of a witch hunt, weren't going to get beyond "Yes, I took...." No one was going to listen to McGwire say, "I only took corticosteroids, and just to heal myself, not to enhance my performance." And the first comment was right: it was a really dumb piece of advice from the lawyer, because it allowed the witch-hunters to speculate in empty space, and McGwire is absolutely lousy at defending himself in the press.

My personal guess, and it's just a guess, is that McGwire took corticosteroids throughout the early to mid 1990s to deal with the injuries, because that's what he needed then. But by 1997, I imagine he was off them, and taking things like Andro essentially to deal with withdrawl symptoms. But that's just a guess.

And thanks to all for the thought-provoking non-flame replies! I was worried I'd just get torched.

- Brock Hanke
   73. AROM Posted: October 23, 2007 at 05:18 PM (#2590308)
I remember playing around with park factors and estimating he'd he 80 or 95 or whatever in Colorado. He projected to hit a few more in St Louis, so with him being showing an established level north of 50 I thought he had a chance, but at the same time he was 34 years old and an injury could always derail the chase.

Whatever the truth about his chemical usage, it sure was fun following the chase that year. I made it out to St Louis once to see him play against the Braves, and he was called out on strikes in the first inning and ejected. I think he was facing Glavine.
   74. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: October 25, 2007 at 10:50 PM (#2593651)
Here's something that I've often wondered about in re Mac.

Remember during baseball's mini-deadball era how McGwire had that awful year where he ended up at .201?

I was watching a game either that year or shortly after, and tape of his swing in the awful year was shown and they telestrated the difference in swing path and stride and whatnot.

I don't exactly remember how it went but it was something like that McGwire was staying too far back and not transfering his weight well to his front foot. As a result, his swing path was tilted unsually toward the vertical (that is over-doing the uppercut). The net result was a ton of topped ground balls and medium-depth, sky-high pop flies.
   75. OCF Posted: October 26, 2007 at 12:17 AM (#2593736)
... he was called out on strikes in the first inning and ejected. I think he was facing Glavine.

How far outside was that pitch? Glavine, huh?
   76. bjhanke Posted: October 26, 2007 at 04:54 PM (#2595081)
<<Here's something that I've often wondered about in re Mac.

Remember during baseball's mini-deadball era how McGwire had that awful year where he ended up at .201?

I was watching a game either that year or shortly after, and tape of his swing in the awful year was shown and they telestrated the difference in swing path and stride and whatnot.>>

I don't know for sure what was going on, but I looked the season in question (1991) up, thinking that there would be a partial season with an injury. Well, Mac does suffer a small drop in playing time, but it may have been because he was hitting so poorly. Anyway, what I DID notice is that, in 1991 and 1992, Mac's Home/Road homer splits suddenly change. Before 1991, he had always hit more homers on the road than at home because, well, he was in Oakland. Starting in 1995, after the two lost seasons of 93 and 94, he would go back to that until he moved to St. Louis. But from 1991 through 1994, including the two lost seasons, Mac actually hit MORE homers at home than he did on the road.

What I wonder, given the comment, is whether he was trying to do something in 1991 to adjust to his park. That is, I think he may have been trying to figure out a way to keep the park from killing him, and it worked in that one regard, but it messed up his swing so much that he stopped hitting homers in normal parks. I don't know how that would work mechanically, but the evidence is there. His road homer totals in 1991 and 1992 are the smallest of any full-season in Oakland. To illustrate the size of the contrast, in 1990, Mac hit 39 homers, 14 at home and 25 on the road. That was completely consistent with the previous seasons. Then, in 1991, the season in question, he hit 15 at home and 7 on the road, which looks like his home totals remained normal, but his road homers went all to hell. In 1992, the splits are reversed from 1990. He hit 42 homers, which is close to 1990's 39, but the splits are completly reversed, 24 at home and 18 on the road. In the two lost seasons of 93 and 94, his splits are 5/4 and 6/3. Then, in 1995, he goes back to 39 homers, split 15/24, which is almost identical to 1990, where we started.

Like I said, I don't have any smoking guns to reveal here, but the evidence of the splits suggests that Mac may have been trying to free himself from Oakland's effects on homers, and the effort did not succeed, so he went back to being who he was. Just to illustrate my point about St. Louis, his splits for the first two seasons there, 1998 and 1999 - the big ones - are 38/32 and 37/28. He had hit exactly 28 road homers before, in 1996, but with only 24 at home. In the split season of 1997, he went 17/17 in Oakland, but 13/11 in his two months in St. Louis. That's why what I see is a real good homer hitter whose home homers go up when he changes ballpark, which was my original point.
   77. Chris Fluit Posted: October 26, 2007 at 07:32 PM (#2595244)
Add my name to the list of people who predicted 70 before the season started. I did it during our fantasy baseball draft. At the time, the consensus number one pick in the draft was Ken Griffey Jr. I defied conventional wisdom by saying that I would take McGwire if I got the first overall pick. I ended up getting the second pick and grabbing McGwire anyway (the guy who actually got the number one pick really broke with conventional wisdom and drafted Larry Walker). The other managers gave me a hard time about it. One asked, "Do you honestly think he's going to break Maris' record?" I answered, "He's going to hit 70." Now, was that a crazy bit of braggadacio? Probably. But I put my money where my mouth was, and backed up the statement with a dollar bet.
   78. Dizzypaco Posted: October 26, 2007 at 07:39 PM (#2595247)
Add my name to the list of people who predicted 70 before the season started

Going into the 1998 season, it would have been reasonable to say, "If he stays healthy, he could hit 70." There was a greater question about whether he could stay healthy than whether he could hit home runs at a great enough rate to get to that number. My guess is that many fantasy owners would draft Griffey over McGwire back then due to the health concerns, which were certainly reasonable.
   79. Howie Menckel Posted: October 27, 2007 at 04:53 AM (#2595552)
"I'm against boycotting, haven't boycotted anyone, and won't boycott anyone.
It is of course possible that I'm the one in error here, but this is how I've understood the HOM boycotting to work: it's voluntary, essentially a bone thrown to the voters who wanted to express their feelings re the Jacksons and Roses of the world."

I can't beat those comments, so I only repeat them.

Original voter since 1898, have never boycotted and will weigh only McGwire's actual achievements here.

Haven't looked closely enough yet, but as a high-consensus voter I have no "pets" left from the backlog. So McGwire at this point is the favorite to grab the No. 3 elect-me slot.

I'd have to think harder with an actual HOF vote, though, since that's really a different animal.
   80. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: October 27, 2007 at 12:23 PM (#2595612)
My guess is that many fantasy owners would draft Griffey over McGwire back then due to the health concerns, which were certainly reasonable.

Diz, you're absolutely right. Which makes this statement cruelly ironic for Cincy fans.

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