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Saturday, January 05, 2013

Clubhouse Confidential: Bill James on the Hall of Fame Ballot

Bill James on the Hall of Fame candidates.

Summary Bonds: “you have to honor him, but I’d make him wait”; Clemens: “an obvious Hall of Famer”; Piazza: “sure”; Sosa: “I probably wouldn’t”; Biggio: “sure”; Schilling: “probably above the line”; Lofton: “probably”

Later in the show: Raines: “absolutely”; Walker: “not high on my list”; Trammell: “a Hall of Famer”; B. Williams: “probably not”; E. Martinez: “I think so”; Morris: “I wouldn’t vote for him”; D. Murphy: “I wouldn’t vote for him”; McGriff: “probably above the HOF line”

And finally, Bagwell: “Pass.”  (Okay, fine, they forgot to ask him about Bagwell.)

There was also a casualty- and Bushmills-free encounter with Larry Bowa.  And the next day (Friday), the show cited the BBTF Ballot Collecting Gizmo.

The District Attorney Posted: January 05, 2013 at 12:07 AM | 74 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bill james, clubhouse confidential, hall of fame, mlb_network, sabermetrics, television

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   1. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: January 05, 2013 at 09:03 AM (#4339535)
So I am reading James' ballot, which if he worked for RunnersWest he might have, as:

Bagwell, Biggio, Clemens, Piazza, Lofton, Schilling, Trammell, Martinez, Raines, and McGriff, with James waiting a year or two to vote for Bonds. I like that he is able to get a full ballot of strong candidates while also finding a way to ding Bonds a little bit.
   2. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: January 05, 2013 at 09:03 AM (#4339536)
So I am reading James' ballot, which if he worked for RunnersWest he might have, as:

Bagwell, Biggio, Clemens, Piazza, Lofton, Schilling, Trammell, Martinez, Raines, and McGriff, with James waiting a year or two to vote for Bonds. I like that he is able to get a full ballot of strong candidates while also finding a way to ding Bonds a little bit.
   3. John DiFool2 Posted: January 05, 2013 at 09:25 AM (#4339544)
Sosa doesn't seem to have had many discussions about him here (may have missed some): I see a lot of ink spilled on the behalf of another RF, Larry Walker, but Sammy almost seems like an afterthought this election, both here and by the voters. Leaving aside steroid issues (if we can...), what are his red flags? Peak might be a slight edge to Walker:

LW: 9.6, 7.6, 5.8, 5.5, 5.2, 4.9

SS: 10.1, 6.3, 5.5, 5.5, 5.2, 5.1

Walker has more seasons in the 3-5 range (7 seasons to 3), which is why he leads on career WAR 69 to 55. Sosa's WAR for his 98-02 peak (31.9) seems...off, for a RFer who hit 292 home runs during those 5 seasons-his 1999 season only gives him a piddly 4.7-this while he's playing 162 games and hitting 63 homers. Fangraphs likes that season a bit better (5.7), but still something doesn't add up.
   4. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 05, 2013 at 09:44 AM (#4339546)
1) Offensive context. Sosa's 1000 OPS looks awesome, but he was only 6th in the league in OPS. 150 OPS+ is good, but by comparison Mike Morse got there last year with a 360/550 line. Sosa's peak coincided with peak silly-ball.

2) Sosa was a bad baserunner who didn't yet realize he was a bad baserunner. He attempted 15 steals and got caught eight times. He also made eight more outs on the bases despite a low rate of extra base attempts (just 38% extra bases taken compared to a league average of 43%). Sosa's baserunning costs him a little over half a win.

3) And just as he wasn't a good runner anymore, he was also no longer a good fielder. That's another half a win or so.
   5. Chris Fluit Posted: January 05, 2013 at 09:46 AM (#4339547)
Surprisingly, I think Sosa is being hurt by career considerations. And I say surprisingly because I didn't think there were a lot of careerists around here. Sosa has minimal contributions in his first five seasons and in his final three. Actually, That's being kind. Sosa had multiple years below WAR at the beginning and the end. That drags down his career numbers. It's also left a lot of observers with the impression that Sosa's contributions were short lived. In reality, Sosa was a solid contributor from 1993-2003 with a 3.8 WAR at age 24 and a 2.5 at age 34. That's a solid prime of 11 seasons with, as you noted, a noticeable peak. Sosa should be a Hall of Famer.

I think that Sosa is also being overlooked discussion wise because his case is almost entirely overshadowed by Bonds. If you're going to argue about a PED suspect, it might as well be the guy who was arguably the best and not the guy who was reasonably good enough.
   6. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 05, 2013 at 09:51 AM (#4339549)
Sosa's career WAR numbers and extended prime are dependent on an exceptional rating of his defense. B-Ref has him averaging about 20 runs above average for five years (93-97). Sosa's oWAR in those seasons runs 1.8, 2.0, 2.8, 2.6, 0.6 - minus fielding, that's not going to add anything, really, to a "prime" case. I recall Sosa being a good fielder, but that B-Ref rates him as the equal of a gold glove center fielder, the second or third best outfielder in the entire league, over that period. I think that's unlikely.
   7. J.R. Wolf Posted: January 05, 2013 at 12:00 PM (#4339604)
Bill James says that he would vote for cheater Clemens? He just lost a lot of my respect.
   8. Long Time Listener, First Time Caller Posted: January 05, 2013 at 12:11 PM (#4339612)
I assume J.R. is talking about Mindy McCready
   9. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: January 05, 2013 at 12:17 PM (#4339616)
Sosa's career WAR numbers and extended prime are dependent on an exceptional rating of his defense. B-Ref has him averaging about 20 runs above average for five years (93-97). Sosa's oWAR in those seasons runs 1.8, 2.0, 2.8, 2.6, 0.6 - minus fielding, that's not going to add anything, really, to a "prime" case. I recall Sosa being a good fielder, but that B-Ref rates him as the equal of a gold glove center fielder, the second or third best outfielder in the entire league, over that period. I think that's unlikely.

For what it's worth, DRA has him with slightly lower rankings in those years, but overall higher defensive rankings (it doesn't see him as quite as bad in his later years). That seems to jive with my memory - I recall him being a good fielder and even passable as he aged; I don't remember him being a -8 fielder, for example.*

*He was also my favorite player growing up, so I'm the furthest thing from an unbiased evaluator.
   10. BDC Posted: January 05, 2013 at 12:19 PM (#4339619)
Sosa is perhaps the Robin Roberts of outfielders. It took Roberts four ballots to make the HOF, even though you'd think 286 Wins (8th among 20th-century pitchers when Roberts was first on the HOF ballot) would end the discussion. But so many of those wins came in so few seasons, so close together that some voters might have discounted them – almost the converse of an "accumulator" discount. Yeah, he won 97 games in four years, but what else did he ever do? And so with Sosa's peak.
   11. Boxkutter Posted: January 05, 2013 at 01:18 PM (#4339654)
Was I the only one who read the headline and thought Bill James himself was going to be on the HOF ballot?
   12. JoeC Posted: January 05, 2013 at 01:52 PM (#4339666)
Was I the only one who read the headline and thought Bill James himself was going to be on the HOF ballot?


That's definitely how I read it at first as well. Then, after mentally arguing with it for a second "No way! This isn't the time of year they announce the non-playing candidates!", the right interpretation showed up.
   13. The District Attorney Posted: January 05, 2013 at 02:17 PM (#4339673)
Heh, didn't think of that; sorry. At the end, Brian Kenny did tell James that he hopes James will be inducted one day...

Didn't realize that the lightning round run-through of the holdover candidates and the discussion with Bowa were also posted. So I think really the only thing that wasn't posted was a generic steroid discussion.
   14. Dag Nabbit: secretary of the World Banana Forum Posted: January 05, 2013 at 02:26 PM (#4339677)
I recall Sosa being a good fielder, but that B-Ref rates him as the equal of a gold glove center fielder, the second or third best outfielder in the entire league, over that period. I think that's unlikely.

When Sammy Sosa first came up, he had an ungodly amount of raw defensive talent. He never quite but it together, but he was damn impressive. Within a few months of his cracking the Sox lineup some of my Sox fan relatives were comparing his army to Dave Winfield and Jesse Barfield. Could he be the next generation's great arm. And he had plenty of speed, too. Sometimes he played center but the reason he didn't all the time was because of that absolute cannon of an arm.

He could be frustrating, though. He'd through the ball so hard but then let a groundball single go through his legs for a two-base error. And while his arm was strong, it wasn't perfectly accurate. To be fair, Billy Martin always said the same thing about Winfield's arm, but when Sosa was a Cub it was maddening. When I saw the Cubs play at Wrigley in the mid-1990s, it was like Sosa was just throwing the ball in the general direction of the infield. Guys had to jump up or run 10 yards to the side or both or something. It was never on line. Then again, my golly the ball got their quick. It was like an outfield version of Shawn Dunston.

I can believe Sosa scoring surprisingly high on defensive metrics, though I doubt he's one of the best over a decade.
   15. The District Attorney Posted: January 05, 2013 at 02:47 PM (#4339684)
Within a few months of his cracking the Sox lineup some of my Sox fan relatives were comparing his army to Dave Winfield and Jesse Barfield.
Hey, take it to the George McClellan thread.
   16. Juan Uribe Marching and Chowder Society Posted: January 05, 2013 at 02:57 PM (#4339688)
Bill James says that he would vote for cheater Clemens? He just lost a lot of my respect.


I watched the show. James basically said the only evidence against Clemens was from an untrustworthy source, i.e. a convicted felon, whereas Clemens always denied use. Thus, Clemens was more likely to be the one not lying. It was kind of a burden of proof argument.

I was actually kind of surprised that James gave so much credence to the steroids arguments. I would have expected him to say something like "we can't statistically measure how steroids affected the game, so penalizing for steroids would be ridiculous at this point." Instead he went at it from a dishonesty standpoint. Bonds was "most dishonest," so he got penalized the most (had to wait a few years to get James' vote).

The president of SABR was on Clubhouse Confidential last night (or a few nights ago). He made a kind of interesting point. He said he thinks we're in a "fog" as far as our knowledge of steroids goes. Since each of the steroid-era players gets 15 years on the ballot, that is a good amount of time to continue to iron out the steroids facts before making the final determination as to who's in and who's out.
   17. Juan Uribe Marching and Chowder Society Posted: January 05, 2013 at 02:59 PM (#4339689)
There was also a casualty- and Bushmills-free encounter with Larry Bowa.


That was a decent clip. Both parties were respectful and Bowa came out looking smarter than expected.

Bill James is a weird dude. I'm surprised he goes on TV. He seems like kind of a recluse.
   18. tshipman Posted: January 05, 2013 at 03:06 PM (#4339690)
Bonds was "most dishonest,"


I don't see how this is true. Bonds' line from the beginning has been that he had no knowledge that the drugs were steroids. He claimed that he thought that the supplements provided were legal products. This has never been contradicted.
   19. Juan Uribe Marching and Chowder Society Posted: January 05, 2013 at 03:20 PM (#4339692)
I don't see how this is true. Bonds' line from the beginning has been that he had no knowledge that the drugs were steroids. He claimed that he thought that the supplements provided were legal products. This has never been contradicted.


Hence my surprise at James' take on the steroids issue. He was closer to the Murray Chass side of things than the Keith Law side of things (I'm sure these are bad representatives for the two sides of the steroids debate; feel free to swap out), which I found surprising.
   20. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 05, 2013 at 03:35 PM (#4339700)
I watched the show. James basically said the only evidence against Clemens was from an untrustworthy source, i.e. a convicted felon, whereas Clemens always denied use. Thus, Clemens was more likely to be the one not lying. It was kind of a burden of proof argument.


Actually, McNamee, for all of his warts, is not a convicted felon. He was investigated for rape and according to Rusty Hardin the authorities thought McNamee probably committed the rape, but for various reasons he wasn't charged. He was also dealing drugs - indeed that's how the feds caught him in their cross hairs to begin with which led to him naming Clemens -- but he wasn't actually charged with anything related to that -- probably because he named Clemens.

He could have been charged with perjury stemming from the same Congressional hearing that led to Clemens being charged -- but, alas, he wasn't, because he - not Clemens - was telling the feds what they wanted to hear.

But, no, he's not a convicted felon. That doesn't mean it's not hilarious that the Jon Heymans and Mike Lupicas of the world swallowed his story whole.
   21. The District Attorney Posted: January 05, 2013 at 03:36 PM (#4339701)
Well, not that Chass-like... surely Chass wouldn't vote for Bonds or Clemens ever... but James isn't ignoring PED, yeah. I suppose his statements about it eventually becoming a non-issue were more predictions than endorsements.

Would have been instructive to hear his thoughts on McGwire and Palmeiro.
   22. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 05, 2013 at 03:37 PM (#4339702)
Hence my surprise at James' take on the steroids issue. He was closer to the Murray Chass side of things than the Keith Law side of things (I'm sure these are bad representatives for the two sides of the steroids debate; feel free to swap out), which I found surprising.


In the 2000 Historical Baseball Abstract, James had an essay in which he went on at length itemizing several factors that in his view were responsible for offense increasing in the 90s.

The word 'steroids' never appeared.
   23. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 05, 2013 at 03:40 PM (#4339703)
Well, not that Chass-like... surely Chass wouldn't vote for Bonds or Clemens ever... but James isn't ignoring PED, yeah. I suppose his statements about it eventually becoming a non-issue were more predictions than endorsements.


I read a piece from James a couple of years ago in which he believes that in 50 years people will laugh at the steroids issue because healthy people in everyday life will be taking enhancing drugs or steroids type substances or growth hormone to extend their lives or better their appearance, etc.
   24. Juan Uribe Marching and Chowder Society Posted: January 05, 2013 at 03:43 PM (#4339705)
But, no, he's not a convicted felon.


I think those are the exact words Bill James used, but I don't claim to have a perfect memory.
   25. John DiFool2 Posted: January 05, 2013 at 04:09 PM (#4339713)
Within a few months of his cracking the Sox lineup some of my Sox fan relatives were comparing his army to Dave Winfield and Jesse Barfield.


But how does his army compare to Arnie's?
   26. Walt Davis Posted: January 05, 2013 at 05:52 PM (#4339762)
Sosa doesn't seem to have had many discussions about him here (may have missed some): I see a lot of ink spilled on the behalf of another RF, Larry Walker, but Sammy almost seems like an afterthought this election, both here and by the voters.

Well, a lot of the Walker ink is being spilled by one guy. :-)

I'm sure Sosa would be getting a lot more attention (or at least "votes") around here if it wasn't such a crowded ballot. He's 14th on the ballot in WAR with Biggio (who gets a little extra love for being a 2B), Piazza (who gets extra love for being a C) and McGWire (well, if you're gonna vote for a PED candidate) ahead of him. I managed to squeeze him onto my ballot in part because I'm a fanboy but it's not easy.

Also (a) I think we all know he's a lost cause with the current electorate -- we don't really talk much about Palmeiro either; and (b) Andy (and maybe others) on the anti-PED side have always said there's no evidence against Sosa so he's OK.

Sosa's career is a bit like Banks' career -- massive peak, little else. But rather than being pretty awesome from the start then playing out the string as a star, Sammy took a while to get going and then what could have been his big break-out years were interrupted by labor disputes and injury. Guy breaks the HR record and has to play 2nd fiddle. Guy averages the old HR record over 3 seasons and everybody is talking about Bonds.

And he was very good defensively in his youth. He definitely had CF speed which, when playing in RF, almost automatically starts you at +10. And the description above of his arm is a good one -- very strong, not super accurate and the confidence to believe it was never too late to throw. Yes, a lot of the throws were pretty badly offline but a lot of them wouldn't have made any difference if they'd been online and, except when they got away, it rarely cost an extra base.

But let's not go anti-WAR here either. I'm still not sure folks have adapted to what dWAR is doing. Sammy was an excellent RF for a while and very good for his career overall. After positional adjustment, that all add up to -1 dWAR. He has about 4 fewer dWAR than, for example, Reggie Smith. That doesn't seem the least bit outrageous, if anything I'm not sure Sammy was worse than Smith (who was pretty good). He's behind Crawford, Kotsay, Ichiro, Corey Patterson, Jerry Hairston. Even the big numbers of his youth are in line with Jason Heyward (+50 in 3 years). Do we really have good reason to question whether the young Sosa was as good as Jason Heyward in the field? In the end, all WAR is saying is that Sosa was a league average CF stuck in RF for his career. That's pretty much what WAR says about Larry Walker too. I don't fine either of those hard to believe.

Sammy is one of the few players for whom I consider "psychological" arguments. He seemed so desperate to please. His horrible 1997 season seemed an over-reaction to signing a huge contract -- as if he was required to put up a 30/30 season (I'd swear he ran every time he made it to 1st in Sept). In 1998, he'd charge into a tie with Mac and, seemingly as soon as he got there, he'd turn back into old Sammy trying to hit everything for a HR and fall behind again. Once behind, he'd rediscover the approach that was working so well and come charging back again. And, inevitably, when the talent started to go, all that crowd-pleasing behavior became annoying.
   27. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 05, 2013 at 06:00 PM (#4339769)
Guy breaks the HR record and has to play 2nd fiddle.


Huh? Sosa won the MVP over McGwire that year. It was a rather silly choice.

Guy averages the old HR record over 3 seasons and everybody is talking about Bonds.


I remember plenty of people talking about Sosa for years after 1998; indeed, it wasn't until 2001 that Bonds appears on the home run stage. And McGwire left that stage in 2000.

The idea that Sosa wasn't talked about is rather bizarre. *Now* he's gotten lost in the wave of candidates, but that's because it doesn't make any sense to talk about how Sosa might be treated by the writers until the dust settles from Bonds and Clemens. We saw what happened with McGwire and Palmeiro, and now Bonds and Clemens are the next stop on this idiotic steroids train everyone's been forced by the writers to ride.

   28. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 05, 2013 at 06:15 PM (#4339777)
Side topic but what is the evidence that Bonds and Clemens will see a jump in their vote totals next year as a result of some writers applying a "one year penalty"? McGwire and Palmeiro didn't see their vote totals go up at all; to the contrary, actually, IIRC.
   29. Walt Davis Posted: January 05, 2013 at 06:20 PM (#4339783)
Sosa won the MVP over McGwire that year.

Yes, the consolation prize that year. McGwire was the star, everybody knew it.

<i>The idea that Sosa wasn't talked about is rather bizarre.<i>

I didn't say he wasn't talked about, I said he was never the #1 guy, which he never was.

The man hit 66, 63 and 64 HR ... and didn't lead the league in a single one of those seasons. The year he hit 63, he finished 9th in MVP voting. The next year (2000) he led the league in HR, had 138 RBI, hit 320 even -- 9th in MVP voting. In 2001, he had the greatest season of his career -- 64 HR, led the league in R, RBI and TB, 203 OPS+ -- and was overshadowed by Bonds.
   30. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 05, 2013 at 06:30 PM (#4339786)
Sosa won the MVP over McGwire that year.

Yes, the consolation prize that year. McGwire was the star, everybody knew it.


That makes no sense.

(And they were both "stars." There doesn't have to be only one, and indeed, there wasn't only one.)

The idea that Sosa wasn't talked about is rather bizarre.

I didn't say he wasn't talked about, I said he was never the #1 guy, which he never was.


But he was right up there with the most exciting players of the time period and was treated as such.

The man hit 66, 63 and 64 HR ... and didn't lead the league in a single one of those seasons. The year he hit 63, he finished 9th in MVP voting. The next year (2000) he led the league in HR, had 138 RBI, hit 320 even -- 9th in MVP voting. In 2001, he had the greatest season of his career -- 64 HR, led the league in R, RBI and TB, 203 OPS+ -- and was overshadowed by Bonds.


I don't understand. When I pointed out that he won the MVP in 1998 you brushed it off, but now you're talking about him not winning the MVP as being relevant. Which is it?
   31. Walt Davis Posted: January 05, 2013 at 07:56 PM (#4339809)
Which is it?

I said the 98 MVP was his consolation prize for not winning the HR chase. I didn't say he wasn't popular.

I was pointing out that if MVP finishes were indicative of Sosa's superstar status that he didn't do well in the following two years and finished behind Bonds in the third. That he was overshadowed during his peak.

You're the one trying to have it both ways Ray.

Sosa was overshadowed by McGwire and Bonds during his peak -- undeniable.
Sosa had 3 of the top 6 HR single season totals in history -- and didn't win the HR title in any of those years.
Sosa even had a big national Pepsi commercial -- that he shared with Ken Griffey.
Sosa had the bad luck to retire the same year as Bonds "retired" (and others) so doesn't get the HoF spotlight to himself.

That's all I'm saying. Sosa was never THE guy. Sosa was never a legend despite a seemingly legendary achievement. In 1998, Sosa battled for the hearts of baseball fans everywhere (see the Verducci thread) ... and he came in second. So it goes.
   32. MelOtt4 Posted: January 05, 2013 at 08:21 PM (#4339811)
Side topic but what is the evidence that Bonds and Clemens will see a jump in their vote totals next year as a result of some writers applying a "one year penalty"? McGwire and Palmeiro didn't see their vote totals go up at all; to the contrary, actually, IIRC.


Bonds and Clemens have the benefit of being considered HOF players without steroids. Whether that's enough for their vote totals to increase significantly is unknown.
   33. vivaelpujols Posted: January 05, 2013 at 09:25 PM (#4339831)
I appreciate Lofton, but it seems weird to call Schilling a "probably". He's the third best guy on the ballot after the two obvious ones for me.
   34. J.R. Wolf Posted: January 05, 2013 at 09:49 PM (#4339840)
The president of SABR was on Clubhouse Confidential last night (or a few nights ago). He made a kind of interesting point. He said he thinks we're in a "fog" as far as our knowledge of steroids goes. Since each of the steroid-era players gets 15 years on the ballot, that is a good amount of time to continue to iron out the steroids facts before making the final determination as to who's in and who's out.


That's amazingly logical and sensible. Of course it will never happen, but it makes perfect logical sense.
   35. J.R. Wolf Posted: January 05, 2013 at 09:58 PM (#4339843)
As to proving Clemens's guilt or innocence, does anyone remember what Keith Olbermann wrote about Clemens?

"Ask Shoeless Joe Jackson how that acquittal stuff worked out."
   36. Lassus Posted: January 05, 2013 at 10:13 PM (#4339846)
#33 - On no planet or in any universe is Schilling ahead of Piazza on this ballot.
   37. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: January 05, 2013 at 10:53 PM (#4339856)
Agree. Bonds, Clemens, Piazza, Biggio, Bagwell are head and shoulders ahead of Schilling on this ballot; in fact for me Schilling is pretty much in the group of guys on the 10-ballot bubble this year.
   38. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 05, 2013 at 11:34 PM (#4339870)
I appreciate Lofton, but it seems weird to call Schilling a "probably". He's the third best guy on the ballot after the two obvious ones for me.
I guess since Kevin Brown isn't on the ballot....

Schilling, IMO, is not a "slam-dunk" HOFer. He's a *maybe*.

Note to cmd600: I am not quoting anyone on the slam-dunk.
   39. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 06, 2013 at 01:05 AM (#4339881)
Since each of the steroid-era players gets 15 years on the ballot, that is a good amount of time to continue to iron out the steroids facts before making the final determination as to who's in and who's out.
1) You only get 15 years if people vote for you.
2) What steroids facts need to be ironed out?
   40. vivaelpujols Posted: January 06, 2013 at 01:41 AM (#4339889)
Schilling, IMO, is not a "slam-dunk" HOFer. He's a *maybe*.


What is this based off of? Schilling is top 30 bWAR among pitchers and top 20 fWAR. He also has some of the best postseason numbers ever.

What's the rational for Schilling not being a slam dunk (that's not W-L record)?
   41. Bhaakon Posted: January 06, 2013 at 01:47 AM (#4339890)
2) What steroids facts need to be ironed out?


A reasonable estimate of their effectiveness in aiding baseball performance. The current scientific information is lacking, not baseball-related, and somewhat contradictory. I don't think this will be known in the next 15 years, or probably ever, barring widespread and currently-unethical human experimentation, but who knows.
   42. vivaelpujols Posted: January 06, 2013 at 01:49 AM (#4339891)
#33 - On no planet or in any universe is Schilling ahead of Piazza on this ballot.


Piazza is top 5 catcher. If you eschew WAR and just use positional rankings that makes Piazza a top 40 position player. Schilling by bWAR is a top 30 pitcher. I'm just not sure what your logic is here. When you look at postseason numbers (Piazza is at .242/.301/.458 in 133 PA, Schilling 2.33 ERA with 525 batters faced), Schilling clearly has a strong case over Piazza.
   43. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 06, 2013 at 01:55 AM (#4339892)
A reasonable estimate of their effectiveness in aiding baseball performance. The current scientific information is lacking, not baseball-related, and somewhat contradictory. I don't think this will be known in the next 15 years, or probably ever, barring widespread and currently-unethical human experimentation, but who knows.
Yes, I agree with your last sentence, which sort of undermines the underlying argument. Assuming one cares about how effective PEDs are in formulating one's vote, that's something one might want to wait for in order to cast one's ballot... if that were going to happen. I guess I should have phrased it as "What steroids facts need to be ironed out that will be?"
   44. vivaelpujols Posted: January 06, 2013 at 02:02 AM (#4339895)
Schilling at 76 bWAR. The closest pitches to him are Tom Glavine, Nolan Ryan, Mike Mussina, Fergie Jenkins, Robin Roberts and Pedro Martinez. Jenkins, Robert and Ryan are in the hall and Glavine and Martinez certainly will be. Mike Mussina I could see getting a similar shaft to Curt.
   45. Walt Davis Posted: January 06, 2013 at 02:57 AM (#4339903)
That's amazingly logical and sensible. Of course it will never happen, but it makes perfect logical sense.

David and Bhaakon have already weighed in. I'll add also that Bonds and Clemens were the subject of intensive federal investigations that turned up no reliable evidence that wasn't known about for years ... and, if anything, at trial that evidence looked weaker than it did going in.

There's some chance that Greg Anderson could write a tell-all book claiming that Bonds knowingly did steroids. But I'm not sure there are many people on the knowing/unknowing fence and, again, the Feds couldn't prove knowing use so, if that's a voter's standard, they should be voting Bonds already.

I suppose another roids dealer or two could get into trouble with the Feds and spill even more names. You could see more players confess but, for those on the ballot, McGwire would seem to suggest there's no benefit to that. A ton not on the ballot could confess and give us even more evidence of roids' widespread use or an HoFer could confess which, I suspect, would make little/no difference at all.

It is simply impossible to provide evidence of non-use. It has been 5 years since they retired, 9 years since Balco, 7 years since the Congressional circus, 5 years since the Mitchell report and 3.5 years since the NY Times threw Sosa under a bus. Nothing is going to come out at this point other than another unreliable person thinking back 15 years and saying Clemens used. People "waiting for evidence" aren't waiting for evidence, they're waiting for rumors.

The "fog" exists and it makes the decision more challenging but the fog isn't going to clear. Sure, a voter can wait, certainly B/C aren't going anywhere for a while although I don't expect McGwire, Sosa and Palmeiro to survive the onslaught and certainly not at a level at which they could be elected. But just make up your mind based on the best available evidence -- which seems to be what the vast majority of the voters are doing.

The closest pitches to him are Tom Glavine, Nolan Ryan, Mike Mussina, Fergie Jenkins, Robin Roberts and Pedro Martinez. Jenkins, Robert and Ryan are in the hall and Glavine and Martinez certainly will be.

I suppose I'm never sure what folks mean by "slam dunk." Roberts and Jenkins took a few years to get voted in; I'm not confident Glavine is getting in 1st ballot; and we tend to think that Ryan is kinda overrated (but still HoF worthy).

If you wanna talk about "fog", how about the difficulty of comparing pitchers across eras? Jenkins has 1250 more innings and 158 more starts than Schilling. He has one CYA, 2 seconds and a third compared to Schilling's 3 seconds and a fourth. They gave up hits, HRs and BBs at "exactly" the same rate (1st decimal). You have to start getting into the weeds a bit to figure out how Schilling produced as much value in 1250 fewer innings -- peak vs. prime, unearned runs, postseasons, a higher-scoring era, etc.

Now we're lucky that hard-working folks have done the hard work for us to figure that out but if you have to get into finer points to explain why he was as good or better than a guy who had to wait a couple of years, I'm not sure he's "slam dunk." That's maybe particularly true when there were 4 guys putting up numbers that would have looked great in just about any post-deadball era ... and there are another 4-5 pitchers who look a lot like Schilling.

But if by "slam dunk" we mean something like "should pretty easily make it in 5 years or so" then he's slam dunk. Well, I'm pretty confident Schilling will go in although the crowded ballot will slow him down a lot so I'm not betting on 5 years. But he is the ... I was going to say Perry, Jenkins, Roberts of his generation but those guys are all in largely for their durability. He's the Drysdale and Marichal (but not Koufax) of his generation. Or, to relate it back, he's kinda the Sosa of pitchers -- never the #1 guy, never alone in the spotlight except for the bloody sock game.

Here's an interesting game. Schilling added a ton of WAR late in his career -- e.g. 39 WAR after 33. Here are some current pitchers who will pass Schilling's WAR if they can do what he did:

Halladay
Santana
Buehrle (!!)
Sabathia

Obviously not likely. But Buehrle has 49 WAR through age 33 so a "mere" 27 WAR in 7 years brings him even with Schilling. Santana's unlikely although Schilling had similar injury problems earlier in his career. (Technically Oswalt qualifies but that was taking things too far). Halladay and CC are pretty good bets to pass him. Cliff Lee comes up a bit short ... and Carlos Zambrano is still alive!

Somewhat lost in all those HR was that the sillyball era was a silly era for great pitchers too. Sort of the bizarro 60s/70s. That was an era when everybody looked like a great pitcher but you still had this large group of historic sluggers (some of whom also aged amazingly well). But beneath those historic sluggers there was almost no offense of note. In sillyball, everybody looked like a great hitter but you had this large group of elite pitchers ... then a big gap. In all, 8 sillyball starters will probably make the HoF, maybe Pettitte and Brown probably should have.

Now, if they can just find their way to sending 8 sillyball era hitters ... :-)
   46. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 06, 2013 at 03:01 AM (#4339905)
I agree with Lassus that Piazza goes on my ballot before Schilling.
   47. SoSH U at work Posted: January 06, 2013 at 03:06 AM (#4339906)
I'd slot Schilling below Bonds, CLemens and Piazza, but in a group with Bags and Biggio. But he's a hell of a lot closer to a slam dunk than a maybe.

   48. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 06, 2013 at 03:15 AM (#4339910)
Yeah, a maybe on Schilling is odd.
   49. J.R. Wolf Posted: January 06, 2013 at 03:49 AM (#4339921)
I think Schilling's easily in within five years. He was too good a pitcher - and has too many outstanding metrics to prove it - and he has too good a playoff record (11-2!) to not be in the HOF. The man was awesome when it was all on the line.

If he doesn't make the HOF it will because he got jobbed.
   50. J.R. Wolf Posted: January 06, 2013 at 03:54 AM (#4339924)
The Hall of Stats has Schilling as the fifteenth best pitcher of all time: http://www.hallofstats.com/position/p
   51. vivaelpujols Posted: January 06, 2013 at 03:57 AM (#4339926)
You have to start getting into the weeds a bit to figure out how Schilling produced as much value in 1250 fewer innings -- peak vs. prime, unearned runs, postseasons, a higher-scoring era, etc.


I dunno. WAR doesn't care about peak vs. prime or postseason. Using runs instead of earned runs is obvious and easy, and so is adjusting for run environment. Park factors, while difficult to implement, are fairly obvious as well. Schilling was exactly even on defensive support over his career so that's a non factor.

What's the easiest way to judge a pitchers value? I'd say RA - league RA * innings. Now that's going to hurt Schilling a little bit because it doesn't include park factors which help him over his career. However comparing to league average instead of replacement level is going to hurt long career guys like Jenkins as the value of additional innings are most apparent in a system that uses replacement level.

Edit: slam dunk for me is when you're far clear of the line. We tend to think 50-60 WAR is a borderline HOFer (and naturally adjustments are made for defense, peak vs. career, postseason, being a catcher). Schilling's 20 WAR above what we would consider borderline and all of things not accounted for in WAR are in his favor (peak and postseason).

   52. cardsfanboy Posted: January 06, 2013 at 12:04 PM (#4339985)
Put me on the list of those that find it hard to think of Schilling as a maybe... He's a middle of the pack hofer, as mentioned, just like Glavine, Ryan, Mussina(who is going to get jobbed), etc.

Having said that, it's absurd to think he's more qualified than Piazza.
   53. Booey Posted: January 06, 2013 at 02:26 PM (#4340066)
Agree with those who say that Schilling is an obvious HOFer. But also agree with those that say there's no way he should be ahead of Piazza or Bagwell. Schill is a top 25-30 pitcher. Piazza and Bags are top 5 at their positions. Not even close.

   54. KT's Pot Arb Posted: January 06, 2013 at 02:33 PM (#4340072)
Agree with those who say that Schilling is an obvious HOFer. But also agree with those that say there's no way he should be ahead of Piazza or Bagwell. Schill is a top 25-30 pitcher. Piazza and Bags are top 5 at their positions. Not even close.


That pretty much sums it up. All three are very worthy, essentially we have a 1930s level HOF ballot, yet no one is getting inducted?
   55. Danny Posted: January 06, 2013 at 02:40 PM (#4340078)
But if by "slam dunk" we mean something like "should pretty easily make it in 5 years or so" then he's slam dunk. Well, I'm pretty confident Schilling will go in although the crowded ballot will slow him down a lot so I'm not betting on 5 years. But he is the ... I was going to say Perry, Jenkins, Roberts of his generation but those guys are all in largely for their durability. He's the Drysdale and Marichal (but not Koufax) of his generation. Or, to relate it back, he's kinda the Sosa of pitchers -- never the #1 guy, never alone in the spotlight except for the bloody sock game.

I get what you're saying, but the difference between Schilling and Sosa is that Schilling was actually among the best in baseball for many years while Sosa simply wasn't.

Schilling was among the top 10 pitchers in rWAR 11 times, including 8 times in the top 5. Including position players, Schilling was still in the top 10 five times and the top 5 three times. He was never really the best pitcher in the league, but he was in the discussion for a decade.

Sosa, meanwhile, finished in the top 10 in rWAR among position players just 3 times: 2nd in 2001, 6th in 1995, and 10th in 1998. It sucks for him that his 66 homers in '98 were overshadowed by McGwire and that his awesome 2001 was overshadowed by Bonds. But it's also true that his fame and relatively strong saber support for the HOF are due in large part to the shape of his performance (lots of dingers) and the era in which he played (great time for hitting dingers). As much as his key achievements were overshadowed at the time, he'd likely be among the top 5 vote-getters this year without the steroid taint.
   56. cardsfanboy Posted: January 06, 2013 at 02:50 PM (#4340086)
what is rWar?

Note: anyone that is using fWar to compare current pitchers(past 40 years) to the past, is making a huge mistake in my opinion. The nature of the game has changed and fWar relies way too much on the silly fip stat to be fair to pitchers of the past.
   57. Baldrick Posted: January 06, 2013 at 02:53 PM (#4340088)
I think that most people who doubt the certainty of Schilling's case basically just don't trust WAR for pitchers that much.

I will admit that I hadn't realized the extent of the unearned runs thing - which has pushed him up my charts a little bit. So these conversations are useful and persuasive. But still, quoting raw WAR numbers isn't going to do much to persuade people who start out skeptical of those numbers.
   58. Bob Meta-Meusel Posted: January 06, 2013 at 03:08 PM (#4340096)
The Hall of Stats has Schilling as the fifteenth best pitcher of all time: http://www.hallofstats.com/position/p


I guess the thing with Schilling is that it's hard to think of him as the 15th best pitcher of all time when he seems, at best, the fifth best pitcher of his era behind Clemens, Maddux, Pedro, and Randy Johnson.

The other problem with Schilling is that if you just look at the less advanced metrics, he falls nicely in a group with John Smoltz, and Kevin Brown. Even ignoring W/L (as, of course, we should), if we look at IP & ERA+, you get:
3261/127 for Schilling
3256.1/127 for Brown (who failed to get 5%)
3473/125 for Smoltz

Now, the deeper you look past that, the more obvious it becomes that Schilling is the strongest of the three and Brown the weakest, but to get there it does take some work.

Brown gets killed on the postseason, but Smoltz's 15-4 2.67 in 209 innings doesn't really drop him much in relation to Schilling's 11-2 2.33 in 133 innings.

Smoltz also gets a narrative boost for moving into the closer role for a few years and then returning to the rotation.

There are really two things that put Schilling ahead. An historic BB/K ratio, which, naturally, DIPS based systems love, and an extremely low number of unearned runs allowed. Those aren't exactly the kind of nuances we'd expect the average BBWAA member to pick up on.
   59. cardsfanboy Posted: January 06, 2013 at 03:44 PM (#4340113)
An historic BB/K ratio, which, naturally, DIPS based systems love,


And is what is wrong with any system that tries to compare pitchers by components through different eras. The acceptance of striking out by hitters has helped make pitchers like Schilling look better in comparison to pitchers of the past. It's like using quarterback rating for quarterbacks today and comparing it to them from 20-40 years ago, the components that go into making it look good are easier to accumulate than in the past.

The number of unearned runs for Schilling is a major factor, so let's put some perspective on it.
Schilling pitched 3261 ip, had 1318 runs allowed, 1253 unearned runs...
Smoltz pitched 3473 ip, had 1391 runs allowed, 1284 unearned runs. Schilling at the same percentage of unearned runs allowed would have posted an era+ of 131.(Era of 3.36, 1216 earned runs allowed)
Brown pitched 3255 ip, had 1357 runs allowed, 1185 unearned runs allowed... Schilling at the same percentage of unearned runs would have posted an era of 139 (3.17 era, 1150 unearned runs allowed)

Either ranking would put him top 12 all time among pitchers with at least 3000ip. (the 139 puts him top 5)
   60. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 06, 2013 at 04:26 PM (#4340145)
what is rWar?


RayWar.
   61. GregD Posted: January 06, 2013 at 04:49 PM (#4340163)
I guess the thing with Schilling is that it's hard to think of him as the 15th best pitcher of all time when he seems, at best, the fifth best pitcher of his era behind Clemens, Maddux, Pedro, and Randy Johnson.
Even more, I suspect many fairly well-informed fans would say that they would start looking at Schilling as they debate #6. I suspect many people consider the top 5 locked in with the four you mentioned plus Glavine.

Over the years, I have learned a lot about Schilling's case from the people here. I did not previously see a clear argument that he was that much better than really really great pitchers like Kevin Brown or Mussina or Smoltz, much less Glavine. Now I can see a better case for why he's #5 or at least #6.

It's tricky to figure out what to do about the glut of pitchers for the era. I do think the Hall should name something like 10, but I can understand the intuitive wariness to that, given the paucity of starters in the generation before that.

I am for him but I also can see why thoughtful people would be a little wary of rushing him in. It wouldn't shock me if the top 5 (or at least top 4 minus Clemens) all get voted in and then the absence of new candidates plus the modest numbers of the best active pitchers as they head toward retirement lead people to re-evaluate Schilling and give him a bump in 5-6 years.
   62. tshipman Posted: January 06, 2013 at 05:18 PM (#4340176)
Piazza is top 5 catcher. If you eschew WAR and just use positional rankings that makes Piazza a top 40 position player. Schilling by bWAR is a top 30 pitcher. I'm just not sure what your logic is here. When you look at postseason numbers (Piazza is at .242/.301/.458 in 133 PA, Schilling 2.33 ERA with 525 batters faced), Schilling clearly has a strong case over Piazza.


Which four catchers are better than Piazza?

I count Bench as being clearly better. You could make an argument for Gary Carter, but I think that argument has to depend rather heavily an an evaluation of Piazza as a very poor defensive catcher based off limited information.
   63. cardsfanboy Posted: January 06, 2013 at 05:25 PM (#4340183)
Which four catchers are better than Piazza?


I'm not him, and not sure there are four better than Piazza, but Bench, Berra and Gibson are three. (I know some people don't include Gibson, but he's on many peoples list)

I thought his point was that Piazza being clearly ahead of Schilling isn't exactly obvious, depending on how you look at it. I thought it was a valid point. I think Piazza is clearly ahead of Schilling, but I could see others seeing it differently.
   64. tshipman Posted: January 06, 2013 at 07:13 PM (#4340255)
I thought his point was that Piazza being clearly ahead of Schilling isn't exactly obvious, depending on how you look at it. I thought it was a valid point. I think Piazza is clearly ahead of Schilling, but I could see others seeing it differently.


I think that when you consider that Piazza was the best player in the game for a year or two, and the best Catcher in the game for several more, but Schilling was never even the best pitcher in his league, you have to favor Piazza.

I think Schilling is in, but he's closer to the in/out line than he is to the inner circle.
   65. vivaelpujols Posted: January 07, 2013 at 01:17 AM (#4340499)
Agree with those who say that Schilling is an obvious HOFer. But also agree with those that say there's no way he should be ahead of Piazza or Bagwell. Schill is a top 25-30 pitcher. Piazza and Bags are top 5 at their positions.


I agree with this. In fact I said exactly this above. But I don't see how top 5 at a given position is better than a top 25 pitchers. There's 8 positions which means we Piazza is top 40 at least among position players. Schilling is better than that. Now position players are slightly more valuable than pitchers because of defense, but I'm not sure if that gets you from 40 to 25.
   66. Moeball Posted: January 08, 2013 at 09:27 PM (#4342489)
It's tricky to figure out what to do about the glut of pitchers for the era. I do think the Hall should name something like 10, but I can understand the intuitive wariness to that, given the paucity of starters in the generation before that.


I think it is interesting that in an era of high-offensive context such as the '90s there were so many dominant pitchers anyway (Clemens, Johnson, Pedro, Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, Schilling, Brown, Mussina, etc. - and I'm probably forgetting some others as well).

How come this didn't happen in the previous "high-offensive context" era of the '20s and '30s? I know Grove and Hubbell stand out as the same kind of dominant pitchers, I suppose, but the list thins out considerably after that. I know some pitchers from that era have been elected (Ted Lyons, Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock, etc.) but I never sensed the impression that they were seen as "dominant" in their day.
   67. Squash Posted: January 08, 2013 at 10:03 PM (#4342511)
IMO, Schilling's primary problem is one of perception (and not enough wins). He first comes to prominence in 1993 with a big year (though in retrospect not a very good year) for that wacky Phillies team, but then he disappears from the national radar playing on some truly terrible Phillies teams until 99-00 when the Phils talk about trading him. He has a big 2001-2003 for Arizona, a big 2004 for Boston, and then he's injured and then he has two more pretty good but cosmetically bad years (high 3s ERAs) and then he's gone for good. Narrative plays a huge part in HOF voting, and the Schilling story (before it's been refreshed for the writers, which it may as he stays on the ballot over the next couple of years) happens in 1993, then disappears and picks up again for 2001-2004, but then is pretty much over. It's that whole deadzone in the middle when he disappeared on terrible teams that hurts him - it makes his career feel short, like he really only "mattered" for four or five years out of the entire thing. His career weirdly feels short, even though it wasn't.
   68. cardsfanboy Posted: January 08, 2013 at 10:08 PM (#4342514)
I think it is interesting that in an era of high-offensive context such as the '90s there were so many dominant pitchers anyway (Clemens, Johnson, Pedro, Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, Schilling, Brown, Mussina, etc. - and I'm probably forgetting some others as well).

How come this didn't happen in the previous "high-offensive context" era of the '20s and '30s? I know Grove and Hubbell stand out as the same kind of dominant pitchers, I suppose, but the list thins out considerably after that. I know some pitchers from that era have been elected (Ted Lyons, Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock, etc.) but I never sensed the impression that they were seen as "dominant" in their day.


Lack of consistency probably. Look at Dazzy Vance or Dolf Luque . I think of that time frame as a transitional time frame for pitchers and that probably hurts them(I think the same thing happened in the 70's-80's also)
   69. The District Attorney Posted: January 15, 2013 at 04:10 PM (#4347689)
Bill's mailbag today:
Hey Bill, what would your 2012 HOF ballot looked like?

Raines, Rocket, Biggio, Piazza, Edgar Martinez, Trammell, McGriff, McGwire. Maybe another one or two. ..I dunno.
   70. SoSH U at work Posted: January 15, 2013 at 04:16 PM (#4347693)
Huh, passed on Bagwell.
   71. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 15, 2013 at 04:29 PM (#4347710)
My sense is that James simply isn't interested in this stuff anymore, at least not at the level he was in past decades, or maybe he's just interested in different aspects of it now. Or maybe it's just that he doesn't have as much free time, working for the Red Sox, to comment in depth on anything other than Penn State. I don't know. But people are writing to him, or reading him, expecting the Bill James of 1988, and that entity is gone.

Many of his answers betray a lack of interest in or respect for the question. Maybe the problem is that he can't give the kinds of answers he wants to for some questions because his work is proprietary. Who knows.

He also seems disinterested in player evaluation systems, despite the fact that he spent a lot of time devising Win Shares not too long ago. It comes off as bitterness towards the fact that Win Shares was not widely accepted/used, or that others did it better.
   72. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: January 15, 2013 at 04:52 PM (#4347736)
How come this didn't happen in the previous "high-offensive context" era of the '20s and '30s? I know Grove and Hubbell stand out as the same kind of dominant pitchers, I suppose, but the list thins out considerably after that. I know some pitchers from that era have been elected (Ted Lyons, Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock, etc.) but I never sensed the impression that they were seen as "dominant" in their day.


Kind of like the problem with the 80's. Vance and Luque were mentioned. Also Dean. Lefty Gomez had a couple of danmed good years. All were dominant for short periods, much like Guidry, Steib, Saberhagen, et al, in the 80's.
   73. Ron J2 Posted: January 15, 2013 at 05:19 PM (#4347757)
#35 Jackson wasn't acquitted of throwing ballgames. The Black Sox were charged with defrauding and discrediting the public and Charles Comiskey through criminal conspiracy.

The judge gave the following charge to the jury:

"The State must prove that it was the intent of the ballplayers and gamblers charged with conspiracy through throwing the World Series, to defraud the public and others, not merely to throw ballgames."

And guess what? They weren't out to defraud others, they were out to line their own pockets. Given these instructions to the jury, aquittal was inevitable.

Jackson himself admitted taking the money and specifically to playing intentionally poorly on defense.

It's also worth noting that Arnold Rothstein was acquitted. Didn't mean that the series wasn't fixed.

EDIT: A better example of "not guilty" not mattering would be Benny Kauff
   74. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 15, 2013 at 07:49 PM (#4347858)
.

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