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Thursday, December 06, 2012

Cowlishaw: Despite steroids stain, I can’t keep Barry Bonds, Rogers Clemens off my HOF ballot

Welcome to the darkside, Cowlishaw…as the Anti-HOF Life Equation just got a little equaler. (87 NO Bonds/Clemens - 70 YES Bonds/Clemens)

I never applied for this role as watchdog or moral compass for Major League Baseball, so I’m unofficially resigning the post. Starting now, I’m going to do something unimaginable to many of you. When I fill out my Hall of Fame ballot, I’m going to vote for the best baseball players.

Crazy, isn’t it?

That means for the first time, I’m going to vote for Mark McGwire after passing on him and his 583 home runs and his insane career OPS-plus numbers for the last two years. And, yes, it means I am voting for the best hitter and pitcher of the last 20-30-50 years (pick a number) as well.

Cowlishaw’s Hall of Fame ballot

Jeff Bagwell, With 1,529 RBIs, he got 56 percent last year. 

Barry Bonds, Not sure we have seen a better pure power swing. 

Roger Clemens, Seven Cy Young Awards not likely to be matched.

Edgar Martinez, Far better in OPS, OPS-plus than Rafael Palmeiro.

Mark McGwire, In power-friendly parks, what would 583 HRs be?

Tim Raines, Career 66.2 WAR almost identical to Barry Larkin’s 67.1.

Larry Walker, Hitting machine with that career .965 OPS.

Repoz Posted: December 06, 2012 at 06:35 AM | 94 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hof

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   1. Rants Mulliniks Posted: December 06, 2012 at 09:16 AM (#4318423)
Good ballot.
   2. Blastin Posted: December 06, 2012 at 09:19 AM (#4318424)
Agreed.
   3. Bitter Mouse Posted: December 06, 2012 at 09:34 AM (#4318433)
I am fairly big hall, so I would like to see more names, but the ones he has there are two thumbs up.
   4. vivaelpujols Posted: December 06, 2012 at 09:44 AM (#4318438)
This is one the better ballot I've seen (although I'd to see Trammell and Schilling as well). Did not expect it to come from Cowlishaw.
   5. ThisElevatorIsDrivingMeUpTheWall Posted: December 06, 2012 at 09:44 AM (#4318439)
Maybe he's keeping Piazza off that ballot because he's too closely associated with Lasorda.
   6. John Northey Posted: December 06, 2012 at 09:51 AM (#4318442)
The more I see the more I wonder if anyone will get in. No Biggio here, nor Morris - not that I mind no Morris but each ballot that misses those 2 is one more that will lead to a no one elected situation I suspect. Piazza always had a shot, depending on how seriously people took the accusations but he seems undervalued by the voters as a rule. Bagwell might have a shot as the 'evidence' is as weak for him as for anyone.

It'll be interesting to see the ballot summaries once they start coming - how many votes on how many ballots so far? Is anyone in line for the HOF? If not then oh boy will it be nuts on next years as more qualified HOF'ers will be removed due to not getting 5%. Palmeiro falling under 5% this year wouldn't shock me.
   7. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: December 06, 2012 at 10:02 AM (#4318449)
Palmeiro falling under 5% this year wouldn't shock me.


Sosa too.
   8. Lassus Posted: December 06, 2012 at 10:02 AM (#4318450)
The lack of Piazza is bewildering.
   9. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 06, 2012 at 10:13 AM (#4318454)
The lack of Piazza is bewildering.


Agreed. I think it is an interesting contrast with Morris too because during Piazza's career my recollection is he WAS viewed as a hall of famer. As criteria goes that's pretty weak but it's a pretty clear change in the general consensus I think.

I think this ballot is a good indication that the 10 man limit really doesn't cause problems. While it should be eliminated I think most voters just have a tough time saying voting for 12-13 guys as "best of the best." Human nature being what it is I can understand voters having a tough time looking at their ballot and saying "yeah, even though only one or two guys get elected every year my ballot of 13 players makes sense."
   10. Rants Mulliniks Posted: December 06, 2012 at 10:21 AM (#4318460)
I'd like to have seen Piazza, Trammell and Schilling to fill out the 10 spots, but its nice to see Raines and Walker on a ballot.
   11. vivaelpujols Posted: December 06, 2012 at 10:28 AM (#4318468)
I think Piazza's a HOF, but I wouldn't put him on the first ballot. Same thing with Biggio.
   12. DL from MN Posted: December 06, 2012 at 10:59 AM (#4318498)
It's okay to vote for the best baseball players on the first ballot too.
   13. HGM Posted: December 06, 2012 at 11:04 AM (#4318510)
I think Piazza's a HOF, but I wouldn't put him on the first ballot. Same thing with Biggio.

There is no distinction between first ballot HOFers and others.
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 06, 2012 at 11:05 AM (#4318511)
Don't really care for it.

To have E Martinez on, and Piazza off doesn't work for me. Piazza was an equivalent hitter at C, vs. a DH.

I'd also drop McGwire and add Trammell.
   15. vivaelpujols Posted: December 06, 2012 at 11:06 AM (#4318513)
There is no distinction between first ballot HOFers and others.


To you maybe.
   16. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 06, 2012 at 11:37 AM (#4318550)
To you maybe.


What is the distinction? The voting guidelines do not say to vote based on this. Your instructions are, if you think he's a deserving HOFer based on the criteria laid out and he fits on your 10-man, you vote for him.
   17. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: December 06, 2012 at 11:41 AM (#4318557)
Is there a special wing for first ballot HOFers? Does it say it on their plaque?
   18. John Northey Posted: December 06, 2012 at 11:49 AM (#4318567)
The distinction is one that has occurred over the years. Not a strong one for first ballots, but it is there. For example, while there is nothing in the HOF marking it we all know Rickey Henderson was a 1st ballot and Jim Rice was a final ballot choice.

It isn't a perfect system to tell 'real' from 'marginal' HOF'ers but the years required to get in does tell us something about how a player was viewed by the sportswriters of the day. I always find it interesting that Yogi Berra wasn't a first ballot guy - no one was voted in his first year on the ballot - as he was someone I always though of as a slam dunk by virtually all measures other than the old 'lock' numbers 500 HR/3000 hits. Some, like Dimaggio, weren't first ballot due to confusion over rules (he was voted for while on military service in WW2, then just 2 & 3 years after retirement getting in the HOF in 1955 when he retired in 1951). But anyone in the past few decades who didn't get in first ballot tells you there was some debate for whatever reason over his HOF qualities. Of course, why Stargell & Puckett were first ballot choices is beyond me but it does say something about how they were viewed too.
   19. vivaelpujols Posted: December 06, 2012 at 11:53 AM (#4318574)
The problem is that the HOF is a binary thing and players are obviously worthy in degrees. Furthermore, I'm on the fence about certain players and I'd rather have more time to think about them. I'm maybe 70% sure that Piazza is a HOFer, which means I'll wait a year or two. I'm 100% sure Bonds is, so I'll vote him the first year.
   20. DL from MN Posted: December 06, 2012 at 11:54 AM (#4318579)
Even if there was a distinction, Piazza meets all the unwritten requirements.
   21. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 06, 2012 at 11:55 AM (#4318580)
This is one the better ballot I've seen (although I'd to see Trammell and Schilling as well).


Not just Trammell and Schilling, but Piazza and Biggio seem like pretty big omissions, too. And if you're really, truly ignoring steroids, I don't see how you leave Palmeiro off of an un-full ballot (which his currently is, but wouldn't be if he added 3 of Trammell, Schilling, Biggio, and Piazza).
   22. Lassus Posted: December 06, 2012 at 11:58 AM (#4318587)
Of course, why Stargell & Puckett were first ballot choices is beyond me but it does say something about how they were viewed too.

It basically means the first-ballot standard is prone to utter capriciousness.


I'm maybe 70% sure that Piazza is a HOFer

Well, this is your error right here.
   23. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 06, 2012 at 11:59 AM (#4318588)
while there is nothing in the HOF marking it we all know Rickey Henderson was a 1st ballot and Jim Rice was a final ballot choice.


We, as in the people reading this, might literally know this, but that's because we're obsessed with baseball in general and the Hall of Fame in particular, and Henderson and Rice were both elected within the past 5 years. But how many of us know which of the following players were elected on their first ballot (or can name the ballot on which they were elected): Yogi Berra, Eddie Mathews, Johnny Mize, Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Puckett? Hint: one of these guys was a 1st-ballot selection, one of these guys was a Veterans' committee selection.
   24. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: December 06, 2012 at 11:59 AM (#4318589)
Voting for the best ball players - what a concept.
   25. vivaelpujols Posted: December 06, 2012 at 12:04 PM (#4318597)
Even if there was a distinction, Piazza meets all the unwritten requirements.


Possibly. If you go by straight value, he's not a slam dunk. If you compare him other catchers, then he is a slam dunk. I'm not sure the second way is 100% correct.

Piazza and Biggio seem like pretty big omissions, too


I'm fine with not voting those guys first ballot, although I think Schilling is first ballot material. Obviously you could disagree with me.
   26. SoSH U at work Posted: December 06, 2012 at 12:14 PM (#4318616)
Yogi Berra, Eddie Mathews, Johnny Mize, Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Puckett?


Second, Fifth, VC, Fourth, First?

   27. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 06, 2012 at 12:16 PM (#4318618)
I'm maybe 70% sure that Piazza is a HOFer

Well, this is your error right here.


Yes, and his specific error is this:

Possibly. If you go by straight value, he's not a slam dunk. If you compare him other catchers, then he is a slam dunk. I'm not sure the second way is 100% correct.

   28. vivaelpujols Posted: December 06, 2012 at 12:19 PM (#4318621)
good comment, ray.
   29. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 06, 2012 at 12:24 PM (#4318629)
Second, Fifth, VC, Fourth, First?


Correct. The concept of "tiers" of the Hall of Fame is fine. The idea that Kirby Puckett is in a higher tier than Berra, Mathews, and Mize is silly. The idea that Johnny Mize - who was arguably the best 1B in NL history before Jeff Bagwell came along - is in the absolute bottom tier of the Hall of Fame (along with Ron Santo) is absurd.
   30. Booey Posted: December 06, 2012 at 12:24 PM (#4318631)
Possibly. If you go by straight value, he's not a slam dunk. If you compare him other catchers, then he is a slam dunk. I'm not sure the second way is 100% correct.


WAR hates catchers. If you go by straight value, there might not be any catchers in history that are slam dunks. That doesn't seem too fair, does it?
   31. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 06, 2012 at 12:28 PM (#4318636)
WAR hates catchers. If you go by straight value, there might not be any catchers in history that are slam dunks. That doesn't seem too fair, does it?

Agreed, it's a flaw in WAR. I can't see why there should be fewer C's in the HOF than other positions. Every team has to field a C, and it's always been considered an important position.

If you have way more LF's in the HoF than C's, it probably means your not adjusting for defense/positional difficulty enough.
   32. vivaelpujols Posted: December 06, 2012 at 12:35 PM (#4318649)
WAR hates catchers. If you go by straight value, there might not be any catchers in history that are slam dunks. That doesn't seem too fair, does it?


There are maybe 4 catchers who are slam dunks. Piazza is a tiny bit below that level. I don't think WAR hates catchers as much as catchers are typically unable to have long careers. Hell look at the WAR leaderboards for 2012:

http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y&type=8&season=2012&month=0&season1=2012&ind=0

3 catchers in the top 25. But it's hard for catchers to accrue a lot of career value. So for the HOF we'd have to be lowering our standards for catchers. Is that fair? Probably, but I'm not 100% on it.

Also how do you come up with a system for that? Do you take the top 20 at each position?
   33. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 06, 2012 at 12:39 PM (#4318650)
There are maybe 4 catchers who are slam dunks.

Berra, Bench, Gibson, Fisk, Carter, Rodriguez, Hartnett, Cochrane, Dickey all seem like no brainers to me.

don't think WAR hates catchers as much as catchers are typically unable to have long careers.

Then using career WAR for HoF purposes is problematic.

Also how do you come up with a system for that? Do you take the top 20 at each position?

I'd rather do that than rely on straight career WAR.
   34. DL from MN Posted: December 06, 2012 at 12:40 PM (#4318651)
The writers - who vote for the HoF - are the guys who keep bringing up "first-ballot" Hall of Famer when they write about players. They've created a distinction on their own and would like to perpetuate it because glittery adjectives help fill out their articles without requiring actual work.
   35. Booey Posted: December 06, 2012 at 12:43 PM (#4318657)
There are maybe 4 catchers who are slam dunks. Piazza is a tiny bit below that level.


Your standards are ridiculously high if someone who by your own admission is just outside the top 4 at his position isn't an obvious choice...

Also how do you come up with a system for that? Do you take the top 20 at each position?


Maybe not, but the top 10 for sure. We're talking about 130 years worth of players to choose from.
   36. DL from MN Posted: December 06, 2012 at 12:45 PM (#4318659)
The Hall of Fame "standards" for catchers are both far higher and far lower than the Hall of Merit standards. Bill Freehan out but Rick Ferrell in. Ted Simmons out but Ernie Lombardi in. Joe Torre out but Ray Schalk in. Mike Piazza is 4th-7th at his position all-time. He's clearly qualified by this writer's intent to "vote for the best baseball players".
   37. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 06, 2012 at 12:45 PM (#4318660)
So for the HOF we'd have to be lowering our standards for catchers.


I don't think it's a lowering of standards at all. It's a recognition that the "WAR" standard is insufficient for comparing catchers to other players. As noted there are reasons to be skeptical that catcher defense is being properly accounted for. It's not like catchers are closers playing 11% of the game or DHs playing half the game, the elite ones are typically playing about 90% of the time relative to other stars in any given year. They are then harmed by having shorter careers largely due to the physical demands of the position.
   38. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 06, 2012 at 12:47 PM (#4318666)
They are then harmed by having shorter careers largely due to the physical demands of the position.

Especially those before the advent of modern surgical techniques (e.g. arthroscopic knee surgery).
   39. cardsfanboy Posted: December 06, 2012 at 12:53 PM (#4318677)
The distinction is one that has occurred over the years. Not a strong one for first ballots, but it is there. For example, while there is nothing in the HOF marking it we all know Rickey Henderson was a 1st ballot and Jim Rice was a final ballot choice.


Only if you look it up.
Lou Brock was a first balloter, Garry Carter, Carlton Fisk, Yogi Berra was not.
Kirby Pucket was a first balloter, Harmon Killebrew, Eddie Mathews, Roberto Alomar were not.
Dennis Eckersley was a first balloter, Don Sutton, Bert Blyleven, Phil Niekro, Fergie Jenkins, Gaylord Perry, Don Drysdale...

After about 5 or so years, the vast majority people forget who got in and when. Guys who took decades to get in, and got in by the veterans committee are as well regarded as guys who got in on the first ballot(non-immortal division of course, there is obviously a difference between Mays and Williams perception than there is between a Lou Brock and Kirby Puckett)
   40. Ron J2 Posted: December 06, 2012 at 12:58 PM (#4318684)
it's a flaw in WAR


Well WAR doesn't currently deal with the game calling aspect and as such may under (or over) rate any given catcher. Leaving that aside though I don't see any evidence that WAR gets catcher value wrong.

As a group they play fewer games per season and have generally shorter careers. And have not infrequent injury related slumps. All that makes it hard for a catcher to put up elite seasons or to sustain elite level play.

   41. vivaelpujols Posted: December 06, 2012 at 01:05 PM (#4318699)
Two different issues here. WAR doesn't undervalue catchers on a seasonal level, but catching limits your ability to have a long career and takes on toll on your future performance. That's why the highest career WAR from a catcher is ~85.

Let's look at the R part of WAR. If you replaced Piazza with one singular replacement level catcher for his entire career, Piazza would be worth way more than ~60 wins above that guy because catching over an entire career would have the same negative effects on that guy as it does to Piazza. But if you replaced Piazza with a different catcher each year (which is what teams would do) than Piazza is only worth ~60 wins more than than those guys.

So yes, in effect, great catchers are less valuable than great CFers because CFers are able to hold their value more. The next question is what should be your criteria for voting. Absolute value vs. positional ranking. I'm not sure what the correct answer is. I'm guessing it's somewhere in between, heavily siding towards positional ranking.


   42. AROM Posted: December 06, 2012 at 01:05 PM (#4318700)
It's not a flaw in WAR - if you add up the total WAR of catchers and left fielders you should a similar total. The difference is that the WAR will be divided among more catchers. Simply because the best LF play 160 games, and the best catchers play 130 games.

If both players are equally great, relative to their position, who does it hurt more to lose to knee surgery on opening day, your great catcher, or your great LF?

It has to hurt more to lose the LF, because now you are looking his crappy replacement for 162 games. With the catcher, you already knew you'd have to start his crappy backup 30 times. So it hurts to now have to replace him 132 more times, but not as bad as replacing your superstar LF.

That's the question WAR attempts to answer. And I don't think that's the same question that the HOF is asking, so I think for HOF purposes catchers should be judged on a different standard. A 50 WAR catcher is a better candidate than a 50 WAR LF.

In practice I think a catcher with 40+ WAR is a candidate worth consideration. This would mean Bill Freehan, Ted Simmons, and Thurman Munson should go in among semi-recents, as well as Wally Schang from long ago.

Darrell Porter, Jason Kendall, and Jim Sundberg are below the line, and these guys don't strike me as viable candidates. Jorge Posada is right in the middle. I'd probably lean toward no on him because of what has been learned of catcher defense in recent years (most of it not in the WAR calculation).
   43. cardsfanboy Posted: December 06, 2012 at 01:08 PM (#4318704)
WAR hates catchers. If you go by straight value, there might not be any catchers in history that are slam dunks. That doesn't seem too fair, does it?



Unless your name is Joe Mauer, it seems to absolutely love him.

War is a useful stat for comparing guys who play 150-162 games(or prior to 1961 140-150) but it breaks down when being used to compare players with different playing time, which catchers are the primary reason, and of course it has other flaws.

Piazza is going to get the stat geek backlash, his reputation was as a poor defensive catcher, and since the stat geeks were saying (when he was playing) that catchers defense is overrated, the morons for the bbwaa are going to say "There is more to catching than hitting, and he was a poor defender and it negates a large portion his offensive numbers".

Edit: great response Arom. Agree with pretty much everything you posted there.
   44. Gonfalon B. Posted: December 06, 2012 at 01:09 PM (#4318706)
You sons of bitches cannot-- CANNOT-- take away or diminish the BBWAA's imaginary "first ballot" punishment distinction. Not this year of all years, oh no, no, no. Not this year.

Robbie Alomar only spit in one face. They Who Must Not Be Inducted spit in all of our faces, yours and mine, and in Hank Aaron's face, in Andy Pettitte's face, in George Mitchell's face, and in the sunny, freckled face of that dying kid Babe Ruth hit a home run for.
   45. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: December 06, 2012 at 01:20 PM (#4318722)
It would be funny if Piazza dropped off the ballot after one year because no one thought he was a first ballot HOFer. But not "ha ha" funny.
   46. vivaelpujols Posted: December 06, 2012 at 01:21 PM (#4318723)
It would be funny if Piazza dropped off the ballot after one year because no one thought he was a first ballot HOFer. But not "ha ha" funny.


point taken
   47. Booey Posted: December 06, 2012 at 01:50 PM (#4318759)
It would be funny if Piazza dropped off the ballot after one year because no one thought he was a first ballot HOFer. But not "ha ha" funny.

Yeah, and that's the other flaw with the first ballot/later ballot argument; guys like Ted Simmons, Bobby Grich, Lou Whitaker, Will Clark, and Kevin Brown - players with legit cases - fall off the ballot after one attempt because too many people who might think they're worthy of eventual election don't think of them as "first ballot" guys.

I think an argument is flawed if you have to rely on other people to have a different opinion in order to make it work. If everyone thought that Piazza and Biggio are HOFers but not first ballot HOFers, they'd disappear from the ballot and wouldn't end up making the Hall at all.
   48. cmd600 Posted: December 06, 2012 at 01:53 PM (#4318762)
WAR doesn't undervalue catchers on a seasonal level


We shouldn't say this with such certainty, especially considering recent development in trying to understand the value of calling games and framing pitches.
   49. SoSH U at work Posted: December 06, 2012 at 01:58 PM (#4318771)
Yeah, and that's the other flaw with the first ballot/later ballot argument; guys like Ted Simmons, Bobby Grich, Lou Whitaker, Will Clark, and Kevin Brown - players with legit cases - fall off the ballot after one attempt because too many people who might think they're worthy of eventual election don't think of them as "first ballot" guys.


I think the first-ballot voting penalty is vastly overstated in actual practice, and likely had nothing to do with those gents' failure at the ballot box.
   50. AROM Posted: December 06, 2012 at 02:05 PM (#4318783)
We shouldn't say this with such certainty, especially considering recent development in trying to understand the value of calling games and framing pitches.


We can say it doesn't undervalue the catching position as a whole. If better metrics come about the measure framing/gamecalling, then we'll see that some catchers who are good at these things are currently underrated, while others who are not so good are now overrated.
   51. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 06, 2012 at 02:26 PM (#4318810)
If both players are equally great, relative to their position, who does it hurt more to lose to knee surgery on opening day, your great catcher, or your great LF?

It has to hurt more to lose the LF, because now you are looking his crappy replacement for 162 games. With the catcher, you already knew you'd have to start his crappy backup 30 times. So it hurts to now have to replace him 132 more times, but not as bad as replacing your superstar LF.


I disagree.

It's far easier to fill in a 4th or 5th OF, or AAAA slugger in LF, and get respectable offensive production.

Lose a star catcher, and you're looking at a 75 OPS+, IF you have a good backup.
   52. Squash Posted: December 06, 2012 at 02:35 PM (#4318824)
Well, part of the problem is that for a long time, while announcers and "baseball men" and such would wax on about blocking pitches and calling games and such, when it came time to actually vote for things (HOF, MVP), catcher defense seemed to come down to a single variable: throwing.
   53. DL from MN Posted: December 06, 2012 at 02:37 PM (#4318827)
I agree with mentioning that "replacement" value is only 130 games for a catcher but in the postseason they play every game so it makes a bigger impact to have a really good catcher on a postseason team.
   54. cmd600 Posted: December 06, 2012 at 02:55 PM (#4318848)
We can say it doesn't undervalue the catching position as a whole. If better metrics come about the measure framing/gamecalling, then we'll see that some catchers who are good at these things are currently underrated, while others who are not so good are now overrated.


This presumes that there is equal value on opposite sides of the ledger with regard to replacement level in MLB, which I'm not sure I would agree with. It may be true, but I'm not betting on it. I'd guess that the majority of MLB catchers are much better at gamecalling/framing than replacement level guys. So we're going to be taking more of above-replacement value from pitchers than we're giving back.
   55. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 06, 2012 at 03:06 PM (#4318861)
I think where WAR fails catchers is it sets replacement value too high. Just anecdotally there always seems to be a cromulent outfielder or shortstop kicking around who can do something useful to help a club but catchers are just a ##### to find.
   56. Booey Posted: December 06, 2012 at 03:21 PM (#4318874)
I think the first-ballot voting penalty is vastly overstated in actual practice, and likely had nothing to do with those gents' failure at the ballot box.


Probably true.
   57. AROM Posted: December 06, 2012 at 03:24 PM (#4318877)
"It's far easier to fill in a 4th or 5th OF, or AAAA slugger in LF, and get respectable offensive production.

Lose a star catcher, and you're looking at a 75 OPS+, IF you have a good backup."

Read my example again. I didn't say the C and LF were equals as hitters. Only that they were equal RELATIVE to position. So being equal on a relative basis, the guy playing 160 games must be more valuable than the one playing 130 games.
   58. cardsfanboy Posted: December 06, 2012 at 03:43 PM (#4318897)
Read my example again. I didn't say the C and LF were equals as hitters. Only that they were equal RELATIVE to position. So being equal on a relative basis, the guy playing 160 games must be more valuable than the one playing 130 games.


Does the fact that backup catchers play more games than other backup positions skew the definition of replacement in either direction? Backup players playing more would mean that the average performance is lowered, but if the average performance is lowered, then that would make it easier for exceptional performances. Of course this is talking about War per game played, seasonal war is always going to take a hit.
   59. cardsfanboy Posted: December 06, 2012 at 03:48 PM (#4318904)
As to his actual ballot, it is somewhat weird seeing a ballot with Edgar and Walker that overlooks Biggio, I'm not really sure that there is any way to argue that.
   60. bunyon Posted: December 06, 2012 at 03:49 PM (#4318907)
I agree with mentioning that "replacement" value is only 130 games for a catcher but in the postseason they play every game so it makes a bigger impact to have a really good catcher on a postseason team.

Greg Maddux says hi. But not to Javy Lopez.
   61. AROM Posted: December 06, 2012 at 04:03 PM (#4318922)
Does the fact that backup catchers play more games than other backup positions skew the definition of replacement in either direction?


I'm not sure that they do play more game. Backup catchers, in most cases, play only catcher. Beyond that, most teams will have 3-4 other bench players to cover multiple positions. So while the starters at other positions don't miss as many games as the starting catcher does, their backups still probably play about as often.
   62. Moeball Posted: December 06, 2012 at 04:21 PM (#4318940)
It's far easier to fill in a 4th or 5th OF, or AAAA slugger in LF, and get respectable offensive production.

Lose a star catcher, and you're looking at a 75 OPS+, IF you have a good backup.


This reminds me of the discussions back in '97 about the NL MVP - I think most of the discussion was about Piazza or Walker (although Biggio had a great year, too, as did Bonds, come to think of it). Walker wound up winning the MVP and I think WAR had him rated as tops, too. But the thing that kept going through my mind was this - yes, Larry had a great season with the bat (aided by playing home games at Coors field, of course). Mike had what I believe was the best offensive season ever by a catcher (in spite of his numbers getting hampered by having Dodger Stadium as his home park). In fact, RBAT had both of them at +70 runs for the season. Yes, Walker was a good defensive outfielder and Piazza was a below-average defensive catcher. But the defensive spectrum has to be considered here - Piazza may have been a below average defensive catcher, but he wasn't a complete disaster behind home plate and the pitchers still got good results in terms of runs allowed with him there. Add in his bat and he's a huge plus to the team. Mike Piazza could have been put in the outfield and he would still hit, and maybe have fewer injuries and play more games, too. But could Larry Walker have been converted to a catcher? No. Not at all. If the Rockies felt they could have put Walker behind the plate and still got good offensive production without it being a complete disaster to the team defensively, they would have. I think most managers understand the defensive spectrum, although I could be overestimating their knowledge on this. This in itself tells me that Piazza was probably more valuable.

If you have a great catcher and a great outfielder - and you lose either to injury - it is much more difficult to find another catcher of similar value than it is to find the outfielder. I don't see anything in WAR taking this into account, either on a seasonal level or in terms of career value.
   63. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 06, 2012 at 04:35 PM (#4318954)
It has to hurt more to lose the LF, because now you are looking his crappy replacement for 162 games. With the catcher, you already knew you'd have to start his crappy backup 30 times. So it hurts to now have to replace him 132 more times, but not as bad as replacing your superstar LF.


But the "crappy backup" catcher presumably also can't play more than 130 games, so now, for those other 30 games, you have to replace the "crappy backup" catcher with an even crappier backup to the backup catcher. Aren't you still being downgraded for all 162 games?
   64. cardsfanboy Posted: December 06, 2012 at 04:43 PM (#4318961)
I'm not sure that they do play more game. Backup catchers, in most cases, play only catcher. Beyond that, most teams will have 3-4 other bench players to cover multiple positions. So while the starters at other positions don't miss as many games as the starting catcher does, their backups still probably play about as often.


Yes, that is true, usually a fourth outfielder will get plenty of playing time, and even utility fielders do also. But that doesn't really change the definition of average relative to position. The backup outfielder gets fewer games played as a left fielder, right fielder and centerfielder than the backup catcher gets at catcher.

If you look at it from a team point of view. You get 140 games out of your starting leftfielder and you get 110 out of your starting catcher. Say both guys are equally league average players(2 war per 162 games played---for the sake of this example, I'm going to replace the term war with the term "True Value") and let's also say that the backup players at both positions are replacement definition 0 True Value per 162 games played. (we aren't worried about fractions of games played etc) From your catchers position you will get 1.358 True Value from your starter. From your leftfielder you will get 1.728 war. Yes the backup guy at left, will also be a backup guy in right, and be a backup guy in center and maybe even a corner infield, but on the scale of just one position(left fielder) vs another(catcher) the average performance you get out of two equivalent positions is going to be higher for the position that gets more games played by it's star players(or even starters)

Now when you are making the framework for War, how does it compensate for the fact that the league average performance for catcher is lower than others by the usage of the position? This isn't a complaint about defense or anything, but by it's very design, war probably doesn't accurately reflect a catcher, (no matter how accurate it's values are) it's either going to overrate or underrate them unless there is some type of system set up to separate starters from replacement when massaging the numbers. Catchers get more innings played by non-starting quality players than any other position and that is going to skew things.
   65. Walt Davis Posted: December 06, 2012 at 04:46 PM (#4318966)
Lots to comment on, I'm sure I'm missing some:

during Piazza's career my recollection is he WAS viewed as a hall of famer

Not mine. My recollection of how Piazza was viewed by the press was that his defense was a ridiculous joke. It was almost certainly going to be hard for an offense-only C to make the HoF.

One thing most don't realize (I didn't until last year) is that Bench is the only C ever elected on the first ballot.

On the first ballot thing, our local HoF expert has noted that this distinction seems to be a thing of the past with many borderline players getting in 1st ballot. If there's a distinction for inner circle now, it's in first ballot percentage. Puckett got 82%, not a ringing endorsement.

Regarding C and WAR ... in 2012, there were 29 Cs (100+ PA, 75% games at C) who had at least 1 WAR per 300 PA. This set includes Bobby Wilson, Chris Stewart, Chris Gimenez, Rob Brantly and the great Jeff Mathis. On the surface, that hardly seems like under-rating the position of C. If you look at CF, you get 25 of them. This includes guys like Adam Eaton, Craig Gentry, Jarrod Dyson and Tony Campana.

Defense isn't exactly killing Piazza, he ends up with 1 dWAR. However, Piazza produced 1 WAR per 138 PA while Edgar produced 1 per 134 PA and that doesn't seem right (roughly equal hitters with short careers). The power of OBP I suppose (Edgar gets 135 more rbat). He also produced WAR at a slightly slower pace than Gary Carter which might be about right given defense. He's also only 2 WAR behind McGwire in equal number of PAs which is impressive. Meanwhile, he produced WAR at a slower rate than Reggie Smith which, even as good as Smith was, doesn't sound right. His WAR/PA rate is right in-between Larkin and Trammell which sounds about right.

Anyway, the point is that when looked at in WAR/PA terms, Cs seem to do fine. There might need to be some tweaking (the Edgar and Smith examples) but the main thing which reduces C WAR is the playing time ... and less playing time is less production is less value so WAR needs to be lower.

The "easy" Piazza WAR comps: Boudreau, R Smith, McGwire, Edmonds, Allen, Dickey. Basically peak HoF comps (and all in the HoM or will be I believe). The question isn't so much about WAR but about the fact that the BBWAA seems to require Cs to perform like peak HoFers to have a shot. A more fair, position-adjusted, comparison for Piazza might actually be somebody like Rod Carew who produced WAR at about the same rate but, due to not playing C, amassed 3000 more PA. Or Larkin/Trammell who had 1500 more PA.

   66. Jittery McFrog Posted: December 06, 2012 at 05:00 PM (#4318984)
I'd guess that the majority of MLB catchers are much better at gamecalling/framing than replacement level guys.


Really? I'd guess not. At other positions, the replacement level guys tend to be pretty decent on the defense side of things.
   67. Walt Davis Posted: December 06, 2012 at 05:10 PM (#4318999)
We can say it doesn't undervalue the catching position as a whole.

"It" being game-calling, pitch-framing, etc. Yes and no. It pokes a bigger hole in the notion of positional adjustments in the sense that a position player could move to C and suffer only X runs decline in his Rfield. Moving your C to 1B has to cost you fewer runs on defense than moving your 1B to C and game-calling/pitch-framing are only going to make that discrepancy larger.

In the real world, Cs should really only be compared to Cs. It's only in our fun world where we want to compare the value of a C to a RF.

This reminds me of the discussions back in '97 about the NL MVP - I think most of the discussion was about Piazza or Walker

But this had little to do with defense. Piazza actually had a smidgen more dWAR than Walker. The positional adjustment was 14 runs, 2 runs greater than the Rfield difference. Piazza was just a bit below average (-2) and WAR rated him as a slightly better defender than the excellent RF (+10). The WAR difference between the two is baserunning and DPs where Walker picked up 14 runs. Note that season that Piazza had 633 PA and 18 Rrep compared to Walker's 664 PA and 18 Rrep so playing time wasn't a factor in their WAR totals. WAR obviously isn't definitive in MVP debates but to equalize their WARs in 1997, you have to argue that an average C is worth 1 win more than an excellent RF (in roughly equal playing time). Or argue that Piazza's unmeasured defensive bits were well above-average compared to other Cs.

   68. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: December 06, 2012 at 05:11 PM (#4319002)
Really? I'd guess not. At other positions, the replacement level guys tend to be pretty decent on the defense side of things.


It seems intuitive to me that catching may be different here. Gamecalling against a major league lineup may well be so different from gamecalling against a minor league lineup that it's a difference of kind, not degree. We're not talking about muscle movements here so much as strategy.
   69. AROM Posted: December 06, 2012 at 05:22 PM (#4319019)
If you look at it from a team point of view. You get 140 games out of your starting leftfielder and you get 110 out of your starting catcher. Say both guys are equally league average players(2 war per 162 games played---for the sake of this example, I'm going to replace the term war with the term "True Value") and let's also say that the backup players at both positions are replacement definition 0 True Value per 162 games played. (we aren't worried about fractions of games played etc) From your catchers position you will get 1.358 True Value from your starter. From your leftfielder you will get 1.728 war. Yes the backup guy at left, will also be a backup guy in right, and be a backup guy in center and maybe even a corner infield, but on the scale of just one position(left fielder) vs another(catcher) the average performance you get out of two equivalent positions is going to be higher for the position that gets more games played by it's star players(or even starters)


Something is off there. Not sure exactly what but
1. I am fairly certain that when you look at it on a league level, total WAR for C is on par with other positions, not far below
2. Big league backups are better than replacement level players (though they are below average).
   70. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 06, 2012 at 05:27 PM (#4319026)
Gamecalling against a major league lineup may well be so different from gamecalling against a minor league lineup that it's a difference of kind, not degree. We're not talking about muscle movements here so much as strategy.


But in terms of game-calling, teams have the option of calling pitches from the bench, so there's essentially a floor as to how bad a catcher could theoretically be at it. Now, pitch framing: that I could see regulars and/or major-leaguers being clearly better at than replacements/minor-league callups. Although even here, it seems like there's always one or two guys with major-league experience who have hung around on the fringes of the majors forever "freely available" as replacements in an emergency. As a Cubs fan, Koyie Hill is the one of these who comes to my mind. Experience catching at the major-league level is pretty much all he brings to the table, but because of that, I have no reason to think he's any worse at those aspects of the game than the Mauers, Molinas, and Poseys of the world - he could be, I just see no reason why that would be our default assumption.
   71. BDC Posted: December 06, 2012 at 05:36 PM (#4319040)
In the real world, Cs should really only be compared to Cs. It's only in our fun world where we want to compare the value of a C to a RF

I agree to some extent, but there's the obvious real-world problem of when to trade a catcher for a rightfielder, and how much to pay either of them. Where I most strongly agree is on the notion that catchers don't really fit into a defensive "spectrum." They're not even at the far end of it; they're simply a trade apart. Gerald Laird caught games in the same World Series as Buster Posey last year – that's like I'll Have Another and my girlfriend's Clydesdale showing up in the same race. Yet it makes sense from the perspective that Laird has plugged away and kept his guild card all these years.
   72. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: December 06, 2012 at 06:17 PM (#4319105)
68,900 hits for "Future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza" seems to say otherwise, Walt. (By comparison, that's about half as many as Jeter and 4x as many as Jeff Bagwell).

Anyway, the problem with catchers and WAR is, as others have said, catchers have shorter careers but they also play shorter seasons. Another way to look at it is that getting what we've defined as replacement-level production out of your catcher requires the use of 2-3 roster spots, unlike first base or other positions. There are more than twice as many 1B who qualify for the batting title each year as catchers (since 2000, 107 catchers vs. 239 1B, using 75% of plate appearances at the position as the cutoff). The difference in 1B vs. C putting up offensive seasons at any threshold is even more pronounced.

A catcher who sustains his production over 130 games or more may be creating roster flexibility for his teams that is not reflected in WAR. One can try to ascribe value to this in order to compare C against other positions using WAR, but that is probably very difficult and complicated. For HOF purposes, it makes complete sense to measure catchers against other catchers.
   73. cardsfanboy Posted: December 06, 2012 at 06:23 PM (#4319111)
1. I am fairly certain that when you look at it on a league level, total WAR for C is on par with other positions, not far below


But isn't that a design feature of War? Isn't war designed that each position on average produces roughly the same value, regardless of their true value? My point was that if one position receives a larger portion of it's playing time from "non-starters" then it's league wide average value is going to be dragged down more.

Using ops+ as an example. Let's look at it with the same numbers just for argument sakes. Lets say a true average catcher hits 120 ops+ and a true replacement catcher hit 80... over the course of the season, the average ops+ for the catcher position will be roughly 108 ops+ (using 110/52 games split) That same average for a right fielder (using 140/22 split) 114. Now when we look at the 120 ops+ catcher his OPS+ relative to his position would then be 111, while the right fielders OPS+ relative to his position would be 105. We've established in this example that the average player are the exact same and that the average replacement is the exact same, yet when compared to their positional average, the average catcher now looks better than the equivalent position player.

If you are using real world performance to determine what is replacement level based at all upon average performance of the position, then it's going to be skewed one way or the other when it comes to catchers. Now if replacement level for each position is determined independently from the actual performances, then it is a different story. If you arbitrarily determine replacement level regardless of average performance from the players, then it could be fairly accurate(or not, depending on the assumptions that go into the arbitrary determination for replacement level)

   74. Srul Itza Posted: December 06, 2012 at 06:59 PM (#4319129)
My recollection of how Piazza was viewed by the press was that his defense was a ridiculous joke. It was almost certainly going to be hard for an offense-only C to make the HoF.


That is not my recollection at all. The more common reference was to being the greatest hitting catcher of all time. They did not talk all that much about his defense, because his offense was so amazing.
   75. Gonfalon B. Posted: December 06, 2012 at 07:21 PM (#4319137)
Piazza's Hall of Fame candidacy was considered such a joke that there were debates whether his plaque should have a Mets cap or a Dodgers one.
   76. cmd600 Posted: December 06, 2012 at 07:33 PM (#4319139)
Gamecalling against a major league lineup may well be so different from gamecalling against a minor league lineup that it's a difference of kind, not degree


That's what I'm getting at. In the minors, you want your pitcher to work on developing his secondary stuff, being able to locate his fastball, etc. In the majors, the only end is finding a way to send the batter back to the bench.
   77. Lassus Posted: December 06, 2012 at 07:35 PM (#4319141)
I'm stunned, stunned I tell you that Walt is overselling any portion of a Mets player being as seen as joke. :-D

I kid because I love.
   78. Walt Davis Posted: December 06, 2012 at 09:19 PM (#4319174)
Let me rephrase. I didn't mean to suggest that Piazza's defense was viewed as being so bad as to keep him out of the HoF, I meant it was considered so bad as to not be considered on the level of Bench, Berra, etc. and would disqualify him with a substantial percentage of voters. And I am talking about the voters, not the wider world. And certainly, so far, the voters aren't letting Piazza sail into the HoF. Cowlishaw doesn't even mention why he's not voting Piazza (or Biggio) but he does vote for short-career slugger Edgar and short-career "hitting machine" Walker and he's explicitly stated he's ignoring roid implications so I've got to think he's holding Piazza's defense against him. Or didn't notice he's on the ballot. (Note he also doesn't vote for Sosa)

As to several thousand references to Piazza as a future HoFer, how many of them were in the mainstream media that produce HoF voters? I looked at the first 6 pages of those results and only about 5 of the hits seem to be mainstream media. (That would still be a lot of hits across 68,000 at that rate)

I could well be wrong, I just recall broadcast after broadcast talking about Piazza's lousy arm and limited defense and how he was only in there for his bat. The HoF was unkind to Simmons in part because he had a bad defensive reputation. And note I am not saying Piazza deserved a bad rep or that he had a bad rep within baseball but that he had a bad rep among the media.

(By comparison, that's about half as many as Jeter and 4x as many as Jeff Bagwell).

and only twice as many as Vizquel and the same number as Biggio but about 20% more than Bonds and 50% less than Clemens and 1/3 to 1/4 as many as Maddux. Wow, Jack Morris only pulls up 162 hits. Interesting, it is about 50% more than Pudge Rodriguez.

But I don't think these are particularly reliable anyway. "Future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones" pulls up his b-r page as a "hit" even though it doesn't contain that phrase anywhere.

Here's an hilarious quote I stumbled on: "I personally liked [Michael] Barrett but he's turning into a Mike Piazza and offering offense only."



   79. PreservedFish Posted: December 06, 2012 at 09:24 PM (#4319175)
Piazza was unquestionably viewed as a future HOFer while he was playing.
   80. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: December 06, 2012 at 09:32 PM (#4319177)
My recollection of how Piazza was viewed by the press was that his defense was a ridiculous joke. It was almost certainly going to be hard for an offense-only C to make the HoF.


That is not my recollection at all. The more common reference was to being the greatest hitting catcher of all time. They did not talk all that much about his defense, because his offense was so amazing.

I totally remember Piazza's being repeatedly referred to as the greatest hitting Major League catcher ever, with his terrible arm a big mark against him but not even close to leaving him short of the Hall of Fame. If he doesn't make it, the reason will be that bacne BS and other Page Six type crap.

EDIT: cokes all around
   81. Josh1 Posted: December 06, 2012 at 10:01 PM (#4319183)
There was a piece I think in The Hardball Times book a few years ago that showed reasonably convincingly that Piazza was all together a very good defensive catcher who far offset his throwing weakness by improving his pitchers' results. I recall the methodology compared the results of all the pitchers Piazza caught against how they performed with other catchers (in ERA, balls, strikes, etc), and the pitchers did significantly better with Mike than with others. The sample size over all of Piazza's career innings is very large. More simply, I believe it showed that almost every team Piazza caught had excellent team ERAs year after year, and when Piazza switched teams, the new team ERA improved and the old one worsened. It seemed by comparing him against Ivan Rodriguez that Piazza actually helped his teams more on defense than Rodriguez did with Piazza's game calling / framing / catcher soft skills more than offsetting the vast throwing ability difference.

I wouldn't be surprised that over time as we get better defensive metrics we ultimately determine Piazza was both the best hitting MLB catcher and also a good defender. Of course even as a bad defender he easily deserves the Hall of Fame.
   82. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 06, 2012 at 10:04 PM (#4319184)
But the "crappy backup" catcher presumably also can't play more than 130 games, so now, for those other 30 games, you have to replace the "crappy backup" catcher with an even crappier backup to the backup catcher. Aren't you still being downgraded for all 162 games?

Actually, the crappy backup is unlikely to be durable/good enough to play 130 games; he'd likely top out around 100, leaving you with your AAA starter in 60. It's catcher chaining!
   83. cardsfanboy Posted: December 06, 2012 at 10:41 PM (#4319199)
I wouldn't be surprised that over time as we get better defensive metrics we ultimately determine Piazza was both the best hitting MLB catcher and also a good defender. Of course even as a bad defender he easily deserves the Hall of Fame.


Outside of his arm, there is absolutely zero evidence that his defense was anything other than good. Yes the arm is a big deal, but his teams routinely finished top five in runs allowed, all of his other defensive metrics have been above average etc. It's just the pitiful arm, and as others have mentioned in the past, he played in an era where that was less damaging than it had been a decade sooner.
   84. PreservedFish Posted: December 06, 2012 at 10:45 PM (#4319201)
Piazza's game calling / framing / catcher soft skills


Piazza was always thought to be good at this sort of stuff (everything that wasn't throwing). It was a common debating point in the many discussions over how much Piazza's defense really cost his teams.
   85. SoSH U at work Posted: December 07, 2012 at 12:38 AM (#4319235)
It's just the pitiful arm, and as others have mentioned in the past, he played in an era where that was less damaging than it had been a decade sooner.


I can't even see how the arm is that much of a negative. He had a 23 percent caught stealing rate. The breakeven point for a SB attempt during his career couldn't be a whole lot less than 77 percent, so even if he was allowing an inordinate number of successful stolen base attempts against him, he was still nailing enough of those would-be thieves where his teams really weren't being hurt.
   86. vivaelpujols Posted: December 07, 2012 at 12:47 AM (#4319239)
league average CS% was 31% during his career.
   87. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 07, 2012 at 01:06 AM (#4319244)
Piazza was unquestionably viewed as a future HOFer while he was playing.


Yes.
   88. tshipman Posted: December 07, 2012 at 01:24 AM (#4319250)
It's not a flaw in WAR - if you add up the total WAR of catchers and left fielders you should a similar total. The difference is that the WAR will be divided among more catchers.


This doesn't follow. Each player can only hit in one spot in the lineup, but the Catcher can contribute in a much larger percentage of defensive plays than a LFer can. If the catcher contributes more to defense--at the expense of his hitting ability, no less--why shouldn't he be credited for it?

And indeed, we find that he is credited for it. There is a component of WAR relating to position. So you actually agree with that position. There's a fiction that a LFer can move to C and perform only about 14 runs worse than an average catcher. It's part of the WAR framework.

We know that WAR underrates catchers because otherwise MLB teams would regularly move average hitting 1B to catcher. Yet no team has attempted this on a regular basis. Why?
   89. SoSH U at work Posted: December 07, 2012 at 01:59 AM (#4319262)
league average CS% was 31% during his career.


That compares his throwing effectiveness compared to other catchers, but not necessarily how his effectiveness hurts/helps his teams.

Say the breakeven point for a SB attempt during his career was 95 percent (I know it wasn't, but it's just for illustrative purposes). Then Mike Piazza's 23 percent CS rate would be saving a lot of runs for the Dodgers/Mets. And if guys were running like crazy against him, then he could even be saving more runs for his team than some strong-armed catcher who rarely got run upon.

Now, I think the generic breaking point* during Piazza's career was somewhere a little above 70 percent, which would mean he wasn't saving his clubs runs, but he was probably close enough to the mark where it didn't actually cost a whole lot of runs either, on average.

* Excluding levarage.
   90. vivaelpujols Posted: December 07, 2012 at 02:14 AM (#4319264)
Catcher positional adjustment is +12.5 runs, first base is -12.5 runs. Offensively that would be about the difference between Alex Gordon and a league average hitter last year.

There is zero evidence the WAR underrates catchers on a seasonal level.
   91. Bhaakon Posted: December 07, 2012 at 02:14 AM (#4319266)
We know that WAR underrates catchers because otherwise MLB teams would regularly move average hitting 1B to catcher. Yet no team has attempted this on a regular basis. Why?


That's not just a catcher problem. How many rangy perfectly rangy defenders get stuck on the the right side of the infield because of a noodle arm, or at 1B because they throw with the wrong arm? The defensive spectrum has always been more of a loose guideline than a hard and fast rule.
   92. SoSH U at work Posted: December 07, 2012 at 03:03 AM (#4319273)
How many rangy perfectly rangy defenders get stuck on the the right side of the infield because of a noodle arm, or at 1B because they throw with the wrong arm?


I don't know if that's really an adequate comparison. A noodle arm is a definite hindrance to playing the left side of the infield (not necessarily a dealbreaker, but a problem) and a lefthanded throwing arm is an almost insurmountable issue for all the infield positions but first.

   93. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 07, 2012 at 10:01 AM (#4319313)
There is zero evidence the WAR underrates catchers on a seasonal level.


WAR is a counting stat. That alone is evidence that it underrates catchers on every level.
   94. Baldrick Posted: December 07, 2012 at 03:17 PM (#4319554)
Discussions about WAR and catchers are interesting and there doesn't seem to be any clear or definitive way of resolving things.

That said, Piazza is a clear and obvious HOFer, was seen that way when he was playing, and will eventually be inducted. It may take a while because of bacne and the backlog gumming up the works. But he deserves to go in the first ballot, or any other ballot. Top 5 catcher in baseball history. This is not a tough call.

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