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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Brookover: Voting for Hall of Fame too complicated these days

(crunch) HELP! HELP!! Jeff Bagwell won’t fit completely under the bus because of his “cartoonish forearms”!* (*re-recrunched from last year)

Now, thanks to the taint of the steroid era, the arrival of the ballot brings dread instead of anticipation, suspicion instead of admiration.

For the second straight year, I look at Jeff Bagwell’s name and wonder if he beat the system while he was also pounding baseballs out of ballparks all across the country. I’d love to vote for him, because he was always a class act whenever I had to interview him and his numbers scream Hall of Famer.

...I’ve listened to the argument that Bagwell should be a Hall of Famer because there is no proof he used the same performance-enhancing drugs that inflated the heads, bodies and resumes of some of his peers. I suspect, however, that there are a lot of players who cheated and never were caught. We’re going to see many of those names on the Hall of Fame ballot in the near future.

Next year, for example, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza and Craig Biggio are going to be among the first-time candidates. Based solely on their bodies of work, they all deserve to be first-ballot inductees. That fact alone says something about the steroid era because there have never been more than three first-ballot inductees in the same year, and that happened only once.

...For at least one more year I took on the task anyway.

Here are the guys who got my vote: McGriff, Barry Larkin, Lee Smith and Alan Trammell.

Repoz Posted: December 25, 2011 at 01:28 AM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, history, rumors, steroids

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   1. cardsfanboy Posted: December 25, 2011 at 03:08 AM (#4023216)
Somewhat weird ballot, I'm with him on half of the names(Trammell/Larkin) a borderline(McGriff) and one I wouldn't support, but I know why people do(Smith)
   2. Dr. Vaux Posted: December 25, 2011 at 03:38 AM (#4023222)
Not a thought given to the possibility that there were more great players in the '90s than ever before because the sport was better at finding the best athletes to come and play it, better at teaching and coaching them, better at keeping them healthier, and, because there were more teams, more apt to give everyone talent and skill a chance to flourish. That's one of the tragedies here. Rather than celebrate a great era of baseball, writers are so cynical that they doubt the very possibility of a great era, preferring to believe that everyone was cheating instead of just being great players.
   3. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: December 25, 2011 at 03:40 AM (#4023223)
Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza and Craig Biggio are going to be among the first-time candidates. Based solely on their bodies of work, they all deserve to be first-ballot inductees.


Eh.... no on all three. If you look past the shiny HR totals, Sosa is a lot closer to borderline, than he is 1st ballot. I would probably vote for him based on his peak... 2001 was really something. Piazza depends on what you think about his D. He also only has 7700 PA's, which is on the short end for a HoF. I'd give him a liberal catcher's bonus, but not sure how many voters are going to do that.

Biggio has the best case, but I have heard people make cases against him.
   4. tshipman Posted: December 25, 2011 at 03:59 AM (#4023229)
Piazza depends on what you think about his D. He also only has 7700 PA's, which is on the short end for a HoF.


Not for a catcher. Best as I can tell, it's about average (if you exclude the pre-1920 guys). I have the average as 7697 PAs for catchers (I might be missing a couple guys). Fisk is the career leader, obviously, and has 9853 only.
   5. Srul Itza At Home Posted: December 25, 2011 at 04:11 AM (#4023232)
Fisk is the career leader,


Wrong Pudge. Ivan has 10,270

And for all players with 50% of games at catcher, Piazza is 10th all time in PA.

EDIT -- oops, you mean among HOFers
   6. cardsfanboy Posted: December 25, 2011 at 04:25 AM (#4023235)
Biggio has the best case, but I have heard people make cases against him


I'm not sure how. Maybe hardcore peak voters who aren't happy with a four year peak of only 27.9 War ?. (or 5 year peak of 31.2 or 6 year peak of 36.7--including two strike years)
   7. Tuque Posted: December 25, 2011 at 05:29 AM (#4023238)
Maybe it's the ten-year-old Dodger fan in me talking but I don't see how Piazza could be considered anything less than a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He's the greatest-hitting catcher of all time! And he inspired a BTF handle which still makes me break out in the most juvenile of giggling fits every time I think about it.
   8. cardsfanboy Posted: December 25, 2011 at 05:41 AM (#4023240)
Maybe it's the ten-year-old Dodger fan in me talking but I don't see how Piazza could be considered anything less than a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He's the greatest-hitting catcher of all time! And he inspired a BTF handle which still makes me break out in the most juvenile of giggling fits every time I think about it.


He also has a reputation as a poor defensive catcher. Defense from a catcher is considered massively important by the writers. Ted Simmons didn't last on the ballot for precisely that reason(along with the Tim Raines syndrome and being compared to a contemporary who is arguably the greatest of all time)
   9. Walt Davis Posted: December 25, 2011 at 06:07 AM (#4023243)
Well, what standards of "deserve to be 1st ballot inductee" are we using. By traditional voter standards:

Sosa has over 600 HR (and nearly 1500 runs and over 1600 RBI and an MVP and he threw in 234 steals just for kicks). No-brainer.

Biggio has 3000 hits. Double no-brainer.

Piazza has a career 142 OPS+, the highest ever for a C.* Piazza has a 308 career BA the highest for a C post-integration. He had 427 HR, the most ever for a C. He has 12 AS games which is only 3rd to Bench and Pudge II. The voters have always been weird about C and Fisk hit the ballot with 3 first-ballot inductees and didn't quite make it. But in a normal year, Piazza sails in. A 300 hitting C -- voters would love it.

Now, in reality, with 5 guys like this hitting the ballot at the same time I don't think the voters would elect all 5 anyway cuz that's the way they are -- I'm pretty sure it would be Sosa and Piazza on the outside -- but they all meet the traditional standards.

*Simmons had a 117.
   10. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: December 25, 2011 at 03:38 PM (#4023253)
How could anyone not think Piazza isn't a "first ballot HOFer"? He was good enough to hold down C for almost his whole career. And other than throwing out runners, he looked solid behind the plate to my eyes.
   11. Blastin Posted: December 25, 2011 at 03:53 PM (#4023255)
I think you've added an extra negative in there sir.
   12. cardsfanboy Posted: December 25, 2011 at 04:50 PM (#4023263)
How could anyone not think Piazza isn't a "first ballot HOFer"? He was good enough to hold down C for almost his whole career. And other than throwing out runners, he looked solid behind the plate to my eyes.


I personally agree(ignoring the double negative). I think people who support Piazza need to remind the voters, that at no point in his career did a staff under him not finish in the top five in era(among those he played a full season for) his defense did not hurt his teams. But his reputation is going to kill him among the voters. Catcher is a position that the intangibles matter a lot to the voters, and since it does, remind them that he caught good staffs, who weren't so good the year after he left.

Example from 1995-1997 the Dodgers were second in runs allowed per game. The year he was traded they dropped to fifth, and in 1999 were 8th in runs per gam.

Now he goes to the Mets,
here is the Mets finish in runs per game


1996 9th
1997 6th
1998 4th joins team mid season
1999 4th
2000 3rd,
2001 5th
2002 6th (5th in era, but a ton of errors hurt their runs per game)
2003 10th --injury season(played 68 games--team averaged 4.31 per 9 when he caught, and between 4.99-5.42 for his backups)
2004 8th not the catcher,
2005 3rd, returned to catchers role.

There is his intangibles, Mr. baseball writers. And I still guarantee you that there will be a lot of writers docking Piazza for not being good behind the plate, when they really mean good at throwing runners out.
   13. Booey Posted: December 25, 2011 at 04:54 PM (#4023265)
Rather than celebrate a great era of baseball, writers are so cynical that they doubt the very possibility of a great era, preferring to believe that everyone was cheating instead of just being great players.

Agreed. Steroids were a part of all this, sure, but I think the main reason we saw so many great performances during the 90's/2000's was that this was simply another golden age of baseball talent, similar to the 20's/30's and the 50's/60's.

But I agree with the writer about McGriff. If we're going to adjust for the offensive explosion by not inducting steroid "cheaters", it seems pretty unfair to still use them to compare "clean" players to. And the only way McGriff's numbers don't scream Hall of Famer with the traditional standards is when you compare them to guys like McGwire and Palmeiro.
   14. Something Other Posted: December 25, 2011 at 09:03 PM (#4023330)
So, Brookover is either 12, or 82?

Now, thanks to the taint of the steroid era, the arrival of the ballot brings dread instead of anticipation, suspicion instead of admiration.
Yup. As I get older I look forward less to what Santa's bringing the good girls and boys and more with fear over whether his PED-bloated, gym rat arse gets stuck in the chimney.

On Roger, on Barry! On Rafael! On Sammie!

Actually I can see his point if he refuses temporarily to vote for a PED user, AND there's reasonable suspicion that a player used. No one's been thrown out of the Hall, so far. But Bagwell, because he was a notorious weight lifter? Wouldn't that tend to reassure a voter that those 475 homers were honorably gotten?
   15. Walt Davis Posted: December 25, 2011 at 09:35 PM (#4023343)
McGriff in a "typical" era is an interesting question.

First, some negatives. Only 5 AS games, never better than 4th in MVP.

Unrecognized positive: At least I've never heard him referred to as a good postseason hitter but his line is 303/385/532 with 10 HR in 218 PA. And that's despite a horrible 3 for 21 in his first playoff appearance.

Anyway, his career comp list is full of HoFers or will-be (or would-be) HoFers. I guess I just wouldn't use the word "scream". He's pretty much the spitting image of Billy Williams and Williams took 6 years to get inducted (after starting at a McGriff-esque 23%!) with a somewhat better back-story. He's a lesser version of Stargell (1st ballot) or he's Killebrew (4 years) with better BA and less power. On the other hand, I'm not convinced the voters would distinguish him from Perez, Rice or Cepeda (who all had long waits, Cepeda by VC). Not that any of them were exactly nimble in the field, I suppose McGriff had the least defensive value of that bunch. (And I have to disagree with Chone who rates him only as below-average ... certainly by the time he got to the Cubs, McGriff was the worst 1B I have ever had the displeasure of seeing often enough to realize how bad he is.) OK, who am I kidding, his defense wouldn't be seriously considered by the voters.

For the last 40 years at least, voters have been pretty tough on guys who didn't reach milestones or hit 300 or win MVPs. Killebrew and Mathews had to wait and they had 500 HR. Cepeda, Williams, Rice, Mathews and Snider all started out with less than 33% of the vote. I think it's fair to say that, under "normal" circumstances, McGriff would have made it but it would have been a tough road and no guarantee it wouldn't have required the VC. Although you can easily argue that he should have started at 50% at least (a la Perez), his opening vote count is not inconsistent with history. What is inconsistent is that he hasn't budged although this was true for Cepeda for a few years as well.

People always worry about the induction of X lowering the standard and bringing in lots of similar players. I just don't see it in voting history (other than possibly closers and the establishment of semi-automatic and extremely hard-to-reach milestones). There's very little evidence I think that voters thinking works like that. They don't seem to say "well, he's as good as Billy Williams so he's a clear HoFer and I'll vote for him on the first ballot" such that Williams types debut with at least 50% of the vote. You're probably better off using a system which says "Williams debuted at 23%, I'm guessing McGriff and Walker are going to debut at 23%."

The voters certainly make wacky choices now and then but there's not a lot of evidence that Hunter, Brock, Puckett, Perez, Rice, etc. have led the voters to behave much differently (Eckersley's got some stuff to answer for). It probably does impact on the VC selections but given the way they monkey around with the VC every few years it's hard to detect any pattern to those selections.

That said ...

Aparicio 84
Brock 85 (first ballot)
Hunter 87
Fingers 92
Ryan 99 (because of 99% of the vote, not because he's borderline)
Perez 00
Puckett 01
Eck 04
Sutter 06
Gossage 08
Rice 09
Dawson 10

is not an awesome recent track record in my opinion. Some of those guys are borderline but many are not even that. The last 25 years has been a mix of obvious no-brainers and bad choices. Then you get into Grich, Whitaker, Santo, Trammell, etc.

Through that list you can draw a reasonably clear Fingers-Eck-Sutter-Gossage line (emphasis on Eck in my opinion). You possibly could draw a Perez-Rice-Dawson connection or a Puckett-Dawson connection but I think we'd need to see more examples to draw that conclusion.

But Perez and Rice haven't made it easier for McGriff. Heck, Bagwell has started at a lower percentage than Perez. Puckett and Dawson haven't made it easier for Walker. Hunter hasn't made it easier for anybody although maybe Morris wouldn't be doing quite as well. And, if anything, I'd say Brock has made it harder for Raines (no 3,000 hits, no record number of steals, no post-season heroics).
   16. Ray (CTL) Posted: December 25, 2011 at 11:39 PM (#4023358)
Lupica:

In the end, I decided that if I was voting to send Barry Larkin to Cooperstown which I sure did I had to vote for the great Alan Trammell of the Tigers as well.

And Don Mattingly always gets my vote, and I will tell you exactly why, even though Mattingly’s bad back shortened the prime of his wonderful career:

There was a poll taken by the New York Times when he was in his prime, and Mattingly’s fellow players voted him the best player in the game.

And, trust me, there are a whole bunch of guys in Cooperstown who never in their lives could have won a vote like that.



As a six year old would say: lol

And for good measure:

The more you hear from the Ryan Braun side on the kid’s positive drug test, the more they all start to sound like the Floyd Landis Defense Committee.

Braun has a perfect right to appeal, and defend his own honor, and put the test on trial, and say that he re-tested himself and came up clean.

But when it’s all over, he’s going to get banged for 50 games like everybody else.

The testers didn’t screw up.

He did.

Maybe he got careless because it was the playoffs.


I haven't yet seen Lupica write anything about his fellow SportsReporters colleague Bill Conlin.
   17. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 25, 2011 at 11:55 PM (#4023362)
So how exactly can he be sure that McGriff, Larkin, Smith and Trammell never used any illegal PEDs? I guess it's even too much to ask for consistency from the "I suspect everybody" crowd.

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