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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dave Lariviere HOF Ballot

No votes for “druggies”, but a vote for Piazza!  How do these writers still not see the value of Bagwell?

“My ballot will show eight names, double the highest amount I’ve ever tabbed in my two decades of voting. And I don’t vote for the druggies either.”

Maddux, Glavine, Biggio, Piazza, Thomas, Mussina, Lee Smith!, McGriff…

“Players such as Jeff Bagwell, Jack Morris, Tim Raines and Edgar Martinez were considered but fall short of greatness in my view.”

brutus Posted: December 14, 2013 at 12:11 AM | 76 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame

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   1. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: December 14, 2013 at 02:42 AM (#4617836)
I never thought I'd see the day Lee Smith was chosen over Roger Clemens for the MLB HOF.
   2. Gonfalon B. Posted: December 14, 2013 at 02:55 AM (#4617840)
Lariviere's ballots, 2013-2014: 4 carryovers, adds Maddux, Glavine, Thomas, and Mussina (+4 names)
   3. Random Transaction Generator Posted: December 14, 2013 at 02:57 AM (#4617842)
How does McGriff rank higher than Bagwell?!
   4. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: December 14, 2013 at 03:00 AM (#4617843)
“Players such as Jeff Bagwell, Jack Morris, Tim Raines and Edgar Martinez were considered but fall short of greatness in my view.”


I like that he included that sentence, but I'm not sure why. It doesn't add any real information, but it still feels like he's saying he thought about it.
   5. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: December 14, 2013 at 03:04 AM (#4617846)
I wonder what the smallest ballot will be this year.
   6. Shoebo Posted: December 14, 2013 at 03:37 AM (#4617847)
How does McGriff rank higher than Bagwell?!


Better nickname. And Da Fear
   7. tshipman Posted: December 14, 2013 at 03:40 AM (#4617848)
If you are willing to concede personal preference on the steroid guys (I am less willing to do this), this is not a terrible ballot. The only truly poor decision is Smith.

He has Mussina over Morris (good!), has Thomas, Biggio and Piazza, and is willing to consider Raines and Bagwell. It's a bit disturbing that he doesn't mention Schilling.

8 slots is a fairly good sign that voters are making the adjustment to the historical oddity.
   8. Baldrick Posted: December 14, 2013 at 04:55 AM (#4617850)
How does McGriff rank higher than Bagwell?!

Easy. The only thing hitters can be measured by is how many home runs they can smack and/or slug and how many runs they can knock/drive in. You are allowed to look at batting average but only if it confirms what you were already going to do. It's a pretty complicated system, but I'll try and break down the McGriff/Bagwell comparison for you. It goes like this: McGriff "smacked 493 homers and knocked in 1,550 runs" while Bagwell non-greatnessed a mere 449 homeruns and passively watched 1529 runs score during his plate appearances. The fact that his batting average is 13 points higher than McGriff is not relevant because shut up that's why.

Edit: All that said, at least he filled in eight names - seven of whom are decent or excellent candidates. Nowhere near the worst ballot in the world.
   9. LargeBill Posted: December 14, 2013 at 10:12 AM (#4617880)
8. Baldrick Posted: December 14, 2013 at 03:55 AM (#4617850)

Edit: All that said, at least he filled in eight names - seven of whom are decent or excellent candidates. Nowhere near the worst ballot in the world.


That will be the theme of this year. Best thing to be said about many ballots is "Could have been worse."
   10. AJMcCringleberry Posted: December 14, 2013 at 10:18 AM (#4617882)
I have two criteria for good ballots this year: did you fill it and did you leave Morris off. At least this passes on one.
   11. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: December 14, 2013 at 10:21 AM (#4617883)
Over the next few weeks, we're going to have a ton of these threads, as voters slowly reveal their ballots. Most of us who read/write here regularly are going to find virtually every ballot imperfect. At the risk of being presumptuous, what would be the "perfect" BBTF ballot look like? I presume it includes:

1) Use all ten slots.
2) If you are not going to select Mike Mussina, please do not select Jack Morris.
3) Actually, just don't select Jack Morris.
4) You've got include Greg Maddux, Mike Piazza, Tom Glavine, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, and Frank Thomas.
5) Assuming you don't have a hang up about the PED stuff, you need to include Bonds and Clemens.
6) Trammell and Raines show you know understand SABR-friendly information.
7) If, for some reason, you aren't going to include one of the above 10, perhaps because of the PED stuff, then you should put Mike Mussina, Edgar Martinez, and/or Jeff Kent on your ballot.
8) Don't select Jack "The Jack" Morris.

Is this about right?
   12. rpackrat Posted: December 14, 2013 at 10:56 AM (#4617893)
I realize that I may be the only one, but I don't see Glavine as a particularly worthy choice. He was a good, not great pitcher, who had a long career and some great teammates. If he wasn't grouped with Maddux in people's minds, he'd be regarded as a much more marginal choice. He definitely would not make my ballot this year, if I had one.
   13. Scott Ross Posted: December 14, 2013 at 10:58 AM (#4617894)
I agreed we're unlikely to see a "perfect" ballot, but I just can't take seriously the judgement if a man who ranks McGriff ahead of Bagwell. If he kept Bags off his ballot beacause Jeff Pearlman said so, I could at least understand--if not agree with--his thought process. But to view McGriff as having been the better of the two is objectively absurd.
   14. GregD Posted: December 14, 2013 at 11:22 AM (#4617901)
I realize that I may be the only one, but I don't see Glavine as a particularly worthy choice. He was a good, not great pitcher, who had a long career and some great teammates. If he wasn't grouped with Maddux in people's minds, he'd be regarded as a much more marginal choice. He definitely would not make my ballot this year, if I had one.
Do you envision a particularly small Hall? If so,I guess I can see that line. But Glavine is so much better than so many BBWAA-elected pitchers, not to even get into the Vet guys. I know some here think Mussina and Schilling are comparable, which isn't quite my view, but since I think all three of them should go in the HOF it isn't crucial to me. Glavine has one of the top 20-30 careers of all time for a pitcher, right? That's where he slots in for most stats. Given that, and that he had one jaw-droppingly great season, how much more do you need?

   15. Srul Itza Posted: December 14, 2013 at 11:23 AM (#4617902)
"I realize that I may be the only one, but I don't see Glavine as a particularly worthy choice."

You probably are the only one, because your statements are pretty moronic by any standard. Sabermetrically, we are looking at 74 WAR, and 4400 innings pitched at a 118 ERA+. Traditionally we are looking at 300 wins at a 60% winning percentage, five 20 win seasons, two CYA, two seconds and two thirds. He didn't win because the Braves were good. The Braves won because he was good.
   16. Doris from Rego Park Posted: December 14, 2013 at 11:53 AM (#4617929)
3) Actually, just don't select Jack Morris.
8) Don't select Jack "The Jack" Morris.


Sadly, this is the only real factor I'm using to review the posted HOF ballots. Scan the names, check to see if Morris is listed. If not, give off an internal fist pump. I'm sympathetic to the idea that I shouldn't be rooting against an individual in a process like this, but I can't help it.
   17. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: December 14, 2013 at 12:13 PM (#4617945)
You probably are the only one, because your statements are pretty moronic by any standard. Sabermetrically, we are looking at 74 WAR, and 4400 innings pitched at a 118 ERA+. Traditionally we are looking at 300 wins at a 60% winning percentage, five 20 win seasons, two CYA, two seconds and two thirds. He didn't win because the Braves were good. The Braves won because he was good.


He's not that far from Fergie Jenkins and Warren Spahn. Not as good as either I'll grant, but not that far off, say about Robin Roberts or Gaylord Perry.
   18. GregD Posted: December 14, 2013 at 12:17 PM (#4617948)
Over the next few weeks, we're going to have a ton of these threads, as voters slowly reveal their ballots. Most of us who read/write here regularly are going to find virtually every ballot imperfect. At the risk of being presumptuous, what would be the "perfect" BBTF ballot look like? I presume it includes:
Good idea. There has to be a difference between I wouldn't vote this ballot and This ballot is dumb.

While I have my own ballot preference, I would say that I can understand any full ballot that has

Greg Maddux, Mike Piazza, Tom Glavine, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, and Frank Thomas

and Bonds/Clemens plus 2 of the lower list

or 4 of the following list

Mussina
Schilling
Walker
Palmeiro
Trammell
Raines
Edgar
McGwire (though obviously it would be peculiar to vote for McGwire and neither of Clemens/Bonds)
Kent
McGriff


I can see the case for saying that McGriff or Kent don't belong on the list of acceptable votes. I wouldn't put them on my 10 person ballot, but I think they're reasonable votes in the sense that they seem to me to be fully deserving HOFers (though voting McGriff and not Bagwell is perverse.) I know some people object to Palmeiro, but he seems to me like an obvious HOFer (though I wouldn't have him on my personal 10-person ballot.) And I can see a case for Sosa, I guess, at the bottom of the acceptable list, though I wouldn't make that case myself.


I can also see an argument that Mussina is on the must-vote list.


But I think our recognition of the imperfect nature of our knowledge about value could create space for us to understand why a rational, well-intentioned person could pick a different person from the "acceptable" list than I might.
   19. cardsfanboy Posted: December 14, 2013 at 12:29 PM (#4617955)
Is this about right?


Mostly, I imagine a perfect BBTF ballot has 10 names, no Jack Morris(or Lee Smith), names everyone "deserving" who is likely to get over 50% of the vote(your post #4).. After that I can see wiggle room. Since there is no rule stating you have to vote for the 10 best candidates, you can leave off Bonds or Clemens without even mentioning a PED penalty.

I realize that I may be the only one, but I don't see Glavine as a particularly worthy choice. He was a good, not great pitcher, who had a long career and some great teammates. If he wasn't grouped with Maddux in people's minds, he'd be regarded as a much more marginal choice. He definitely would not make my ballot this year, if I had one.


I think you are underrating Glavine's peak. Yes it wasn't the big four level of peak, but it compares favorably to Mussina. I don't even see any real difference between Mussina and Glavine. Mussina had a slightly longer 'prime', Glavine a longer career, Glavine has a stretch of 3700 ip, with a higher era+ than Mussina has, Glavine is getting penalized in career era+ for being in the majors at a young age. I guess if you are fascinated with FIP, then Glavine probably gets a knock, but in real world results I just can't see an argument for Mussina over Glavine.


For sake of comparison... Glavine 1991-2007, 270-158, 3704ip, 3.37 era, 125 era+, 21 sho, 48cg, (2 cy young awards) Vs
Mussina 270-153, 3562 ip, 3.68 era, 123 era+, 23sho, 57cg, Very similar players, I don't really see how to separate them by career stats.

Peak Era+/ip
Glavine---Mussina
168/229   164/176
153
/246   157/241
147
/235   145/221
141
/240   143/228
140
/224   139/87
137
/198   137/224
135
/241   133/203
134
/225   131/200
126
/239   130/206
125
/212   130/214
119
/212   129/197
116
/211   125/237
114
/198   109/215 


I would give the edge even there to Glavine. I know that the fip disciples will jump all over it, but results is what matters and Glavine got them.
   20. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: December 14, 2013 at 12:34 PM (#4617958)
How does McGriff rank higher than Bagwell?!


On straight value scales? He doesn't. But if you think Fred McGriff is a deserving candidate for the HOF (I do) you can justify voting for him over a more qualified candidate simply to keep him on the ballot going forward (I would.) This particular ballot can't make that argument, because he left two slots blank, but if you think there are 12-13 qualified candidates this year (I do) and it comes down to a first timer vs a guy that might be in danger of falling short of 5% because of the glut of options (McGriff, Trammell, Larry Walker, Edgar Martinez) then you can make a perfectly defensible case for not voting for the inner circle guys (Bagwell, Thomas, even Glavine) in favor of the non-inner circle but still qualified candidate guys, on the theory that those guys are *not* going to fall below 5% and fall off of next year's ballot.

In fact, I would do exactly that if I had a ballot.

1. Bonds
2. Maddux
3. Clemens
4. Raines
5. Trammell
6. Larry Walker
7. Fred McGriff
8. Edgard Martinez
9. Jeff Bagwell
10. Glavine or Frank Thomas Biggio

Am I leaving obviously qualified candidates off that ballot? Yes, of course I am. There are more than 10 obviously qualified candidates. Someone has to drop. I would choose to drop the guys that are *not* going to get less than 5% and vote for the guys who very well might get less than 5%. I would vote for ballot integrity in 2014 over "all the stars on one stage" in 2013.

EDIT: Remove Glavine and Thomas and add Biggio. Brain fart.
   21. TJ Posted: December 14, 2013 at 12:39 PM (#4617963)
Have some fun and check out Dave Lariviere's LinkedIn resume. Then a refreshing beverage to anyone who can make an intellectually defensible argument as to why this guy should be considered expert enough to have a HOF vote...

This is not a good ballot- any blind squirrel can find enough guys on the 2014 HOF ballot to submit a passable ballot this year. In fact, most blind squirrels could find ten names regardless of whether they vote for "the druggies" (I'm no fan of Bonds and the boys, but "the druggies" makes them sound like they were knocking off liquor stores to get quick cash to buy crack). He has eight, and two are very questionable in comparison to the rest of the candidates in McGriff and Smith. Add in very specious explanations like "McGriff's numbers being "not that different than Thomas'" and Smith's being an "intimidating presence" (I have failed to find any reference to a major league hitter being too intimidated by Smith to step into the batter's box), and you have a another voter addicted to home runs, RBI, Wins, and Saves without any context. I was going to cut Lariviere some slack on choosing Mussina over Morris until A) he says Mussina's last year "may have been his best" because he won 20 games. It was an excellent season, but nowhere close to Mussina's best, and B) his resume doesn't show that he's ever travelled west of Albany NY, let alone worked there, so a slight bias toward a guy who won 20 games for his hometown team is to be expected. Now if Lariviere wanted to say why he chose McGriff and not Bagwell, or Mussina and not Schilling, then maybe this ballot would rise to the level of "decent"...
   22. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 14, 2013 at 01:08 PM (#4617983)
At the risk of being presumptuous, what would be the "perfect" BBTF ballot look like?


Only steroids players.
   23. Peter Farted Posted: December 14, 2013 at 01:12 PM (#4617986)
I like that he included that sentence, but I'm not sure why. It doesn't add any real information, but it still feels like he's saying he thought about it.


I wonder if it was intended as a subtle "fudge you" to Curt Schilling, who may be the most polarizing figure on the entire ballot - more than Bonds, Clemens or Jack ("The John, Add Scott Toilet Paper") Morris. I have seen more than one Bleacher Report slideshow showing Schilling at a "0 percent" chance of making the HOF, or even omitting him completely, while lauding a whole menagerie of much more questionable candidates. Objectively, this either means (1) ignorance of what Schill has accomplished, and/or (2) people just flat out hate him. Maybe people are ignorant BECAUSE they hate him too much to bother looking up his stats.

Schilling will be in the Hall at some point, but his diarrhea mouth just might put him at the mercy of the Veterans' Committee. If not, he could have a Sutter- or Blyleven-like wait.
   24. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: December 14, 2013 at 01:25 PM (#4618004)
I wonder if it was intended as a subtle "fudge you" to Curt Schilling, who may be the most polarizing figure on the entire ballot - more than Bonds, Clemens or Jack ("The John, Add Scott Toilet Paper") Morris. I have seen more than one Bleacher Report slideshow showing Schilling at a "0 percent" chance of making the HOF, or even omitting him completely, while lauding a whole menagerie of much more questionable candidates. Objectively, this either means (1) ignorance of what Schill has accomplished, and/or (2) people just flat out hate him. Maybe people are ignorant BECAUSE they hate him too much to bother looking up his stats.


I will leave Schilling off of my personal ballot until everyone through the Mussina line is in, or there is a free space below them on the ballot. Even in the latter scenario, I might just write in "Kevin Brown" where Schilling's name would have gone.
   25. Baldrick Posted: December 14, 2013 at 01:47 PM (#4618014)
A BBTF-approved ballot:
- includes 10 names
- from the 19 good to decent candidates
- has some sort of coherent reason for picking the 10 out of those 19. It would be a pretty goofy ballot to include Kent, McGriff, Edgar, and Trammell but not include Maddux and Thomas. But if there was some explanation for strategic voting, I think most people would be willing to accept it.

That's about it. I think most folks here would definitely induct Clemens/Bonds/etc, but I think most of us also see the validity of a ballot that chooses not to, especially when there is such a wealth of other options.
   26. Random Transaction Generator Posted: December 14, 2013 at 02:26 PM (#4618046)
#8

I understand your reasoning from that point of view.
It's a TERRIBLE reason, but it's a fathomable reason that someone might use.


I think the perfect ballot for BBTF would be:
(voter comments in brackets)

Morris (He pitched to the score and was the best pitcher in the 1980s.)
Smith (He set the benchmark for closers that everyone else has to beat.)
Mattingly (The Hall of Fame is a sham without Mr. Yankee in there.)
Schilling (The only pitcher on the list that has always been against PEDs, so he gets my vote.)
McGwire (He apologized for using PEDs,so that's why I'm voting for him and none of the other PED users/suspects.)

I'm pretty sure if someone posted an article with this ballot and those comments, then the BBTF thread about it would explode.
   27. Mickey Henry Mays Posted: December 14, 2013 at 02:44 PM (#4618051)
I hate what the steroid guys did to the record books, but there needs to be a separation between the guys that may not have been HOF without the pharmaceutical help and the guys who were already established Hall of Famers.
Just take Bonds and Rockets first half of their careers and vote on that and you'll have two high peak short career HOF guys.
The fact that they had another HOF career after that will never be spoken of again.
   28. bunyon Posted: December 14, 2013 at 03:36 PM (#4618075)
Mostly, I imagine a perfect BBTF ballot has 10 names, no Jack Morris(or Lee Smith),

I may lose posting privileges here but I can live with a vote for Morris. A vote for Lee Smith, on the other hand, is appalling and should deprive one from ever voting again. Nay, it should deprive one from ever being allowed to watch major league baseball again.

but there needs to be a separation between the guys that may not have been HOF without the pharmaceutical help and the guys who were already established Hall of Famers.

Or, you know, the guys for whom there is evidence of PED use and those for whom there isn't. That is, though I disagree, I can see the rationale for not voting fora PED user. But for guys that you just sort of kind of think fit a user's profile? That is an absurd reason to not vote for someone.

   29. LargeBill Posted: December 14, 2013 at 03:47 PM (#4618079)
27. Mickey Henry Mays Posted: December 14, 2013 at 01:44 PM (#4618051)
I hate what the steroid guys did to the record books, but there needs to be a separation between the guys that may not have been HOF without the pharmaceutical help and the guys who were already established Hall of Famers.
Just take Bonds and Rockets first half of their careers and vote on that and you'll have two high peak short career HOF guys.
The fact that they had another HOF career after that will never be spoken of again.


Problem with that position is supposes we have a clue who used and when that use began and how much difference it made in their performance. Problem is we don't have a clue about any of that.
Who? We know a few of the name who used but don't know with 100% certainty who didn't.
When? People claim Bonds started using after 1998 season. Maybe he did but could have been earlier or later. Same with claims with any degree of certainty about Clemens' use.
Impact on career? We're clueless. Obviously, there are benefits in muscle recovery and stamina, etc, but any attempts at quantifying it that I have seen are nothing but stabs in the dark such as "Deduct X%."

In the end we are right back where we started. Have to just take what they actually accomplished and vote accordingly.

   30. Booey Posted: December 14, 2013 at 03:48 PM (#4618081)
I hate what the steroid guys did to the record books, but there needs to be a separation between the guys that may not have been HOF without the pharmaceutical help and the guys who were already established Hall of Famers.


It would be just as valid an argument for someone to say that they hate what the color barrier, the deadball era, WW2, amps, etc, did to the record books. All records are a product of their times and all eras are equally important in remembering and preserving baseball history. I've never understood the idea that we need to protect MLB's past from the present (or the older past from the more recent past, I guess).
   31. Walt Davis Posted: December 14, 2013 at 04:25 PM (#4618089)
I find it interesting that everyone seems to have forgotten about sosa already. He doesn't even make the list in#18.

and if you understand sabermetric info you know that walker is probably a bit more deserving than raines, pretty clearly ahead of Edgar and light years ahead of kent.

I can accept a ballot without glavine depending on who is on. of course he is deserving but so are 17-19 others. a ballot with Maddux clemens and 8 hitters is not unreasonable even without strategic voting.
   32. EddieA Posted: December 14, 2013 at 04:26 PM (#4618090)
did to the record books


If there was anything like a normal distribution of performance, season records should fall much more frequently than they do. The record most *'ers are on about is a record set in 1961, which many of us were not alive for. There have been more player seasons, maybe 2 times as many or more, since that record was set as there were before it was set - not to mention a lot more 162 game seasons.

All records are a product of their times and all eras are equally important in remembering and preserving baseball history.


That's exactly it. The record says more about the game environment at the time than the abilities of the person who happened to obtain it. The biggest outlier at the time in the advantageous environment gets the record. Nobody will break an innings pitched record or wins record.
   33. TJ Posted: December 14, 2013 at 04:30 PM (#4618091)
I'm waiting for the BBWAA voter that says, "For whatever reason- and we don't know what it is- offense exploded in what is known as "The Steroid Era" much as it did in the 1930's. We have realized that we need to discount stats from that era a bit or Lefty O'Doul and Riggs Stephenson would be in Cooperstown. We need to do the same to The Steroid Era, and I took that into account when casting my ballot..."

If a BBWAA voter could do that and give reasoned explanations of how they did so, I would be perfectly happy if they voted for all, some, or none, of the players from that era. At least they gave it more thought than "I don't vote for druggies", "MLB let them do it", "I don't know who did it", or "I buried my head in the sand the whole time"...
   34. Baldrick Posted: December 14, 2013 at 04:48 PM (#4618097)
The more I look at this ballot, the more strongly I feel that there are (conveniently) 10 names that are a cut above the rest. My perfect ballot would be:

The three inner-circle all-time greats (Bonds, Clemens, Maddux), the three extremely good pitchers (Schilling, Glavine, Mussina), the May 27, 1968 guys (Thomas, Bagwell), the best hitting catcher ever (Piazza), and the surprisingly great Larry Walker (Walker).

The next guy on my list would probably be Trammell, with Edgar, McGwire, and Raines pretty close behind.

I'm curious to see whether a single ballot actually matches up with my ideal.
   35. Mickey Henry Mays Posted: December 14, 2013 at 04:52 PM (#4618099)
Are you guys actually proposing that steroids had little to do with the offensive explosions we saw in the past 15 odd years? You don't find it curious that the offensive numbers have dropped precipitously since MLB got serious about testing? To me, the mere fact that they were taking them is pretty compelling evidence that it helped them perform better.
   36. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: December 14, 2013 at 05:00 PM (#4618100)
Are you guys actually proposing that steroids had little to do with the offensive explosions we saw in the past 15 odd years?

The idea that every baseball player under the sun started using between October of '92 and March of '93 -- and that has to be the case for the "OMG! Steriodz!" theory to be correct -- is preposterous on its face.

You don't find it curious that the offensive numbers have dropped precipitously since MLB got serious about testing?

This isn't true, unless by "since" you mean "starting many years after."

To me, the mere fact that they were taking them is pretty compelling evidence that it helped them perform better.

Just not the pitchers.
   37. Booey Posted: December 14, 2013 at 05:33 PM (#4618104)
Are you guys actually proposing that steroids had little to do with the offensive explosions we saw in the past 15 odd years?


I'm not. I'm saying that it shouldn't matter. Whether it was because of steroids or weight training or smaller ballparks or a juiced ball or whatever is irrelevant IMO as far as HOF arguments go - offense was high in the 90's/2000's, so the stats need to be adjusted when comparing to other eras, period. Just like it does with the 1930's. And on the flipside, you need to do the same with pitching numbers from the deadball era and the 60's. It doesn't matter whether it was cuz of a dead ball or spitballs or a higher mound - whatever, it happened, and it needs to be accounted for. And the best of all eras should be elected.

And I think even those of us who are big hall AND don't care too much about steroids do make these adjustments when picking our hypothetical HOF list (and stats like OPS+, ERA+ and WAR are a nice starting point). Guys with offensive numbers like Giambi's and Delgado's would have been no brainers in pretty much any other era, but I've never seen anyone here suggest that they still should be. Those numbers now are borderline at best and few seem willing to argue about that.
   38. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: December 14, 2013 at 05:35 PM (#4618105)
Are you guys actually proposing that steroids had little to do with the offensive explosions we saw in the past 15 odd years?


I have proposed as much before, and I'll repeat my reasoning here. The timelines for "Sillyball" - the offensive explosion - and "the steroid era" don't match up.

Steroids began creeping into baseball in the 1980s, and were a factor in at least some clubhouses (Oakland, notably) by 1988-89. If we honestly date "the steroid era" in baseball, we have to start at least in 1989 with the Bash Brothers clubhouse in Oakland. The steroid era "ended" as close as we can tell, in 2003, when MLB implemented a testing program. So a rational timeline for "The Steroid Era" in baseball would be something like 1988-2003.

The offensive explosion - "Sillyball" - doesn't map to that timeline at all. Offense exploded in 1993, five years after steroids became prominent in the game. Offense remained spiked until 2008, five years after MLB started testing. "Sillyball" maps to 1993-2008.

Now, I guess if you're just really intent on tying the offensive explosion of the 1990s and 2000s to PEDs you could make a convoluted argument that the impact was time shifted by five years. I think that's silly outright, personally. But if you're really bought into PEDs being to blame for offense, I guess you could. I think rational people should look for other explanations.

The best explanation for offensive explosion in 1993, IMHO, is a change in the baseball. In 1993 MLB moved the plant where all game used baseball were manufactured out of the US, to the Dominican Republic. Completely different factory. Different workers. Different baseball. That maps to the one thing we KNOW impacts the game on the field significantly - equipment. Similarly, the crash in offense occurs in 2008, the year MLB modified the standards for game used bats. Again. Equipment. Known modifications/changes in the fundamental equipment of the game, that maps exactly to the years in which offense goes up and then goes back down. That seems to me to be a much better explanation of "Sillyball" than PEDs.

Again, if you're bought into the PED narrative, you may stick to it on a time shifted scale. I don't buy that at all. I don't buy that a technique known medically to do only one thing - increase recovery time from injury or weight lifting stress - helped offense that much more than pitching. I don't buy that the time shift of five years makes any sense at all. It just doesn't map to the event chronology.
   39. Greg K Posted: December 14, 2013 at 05:44 PM (#4618106)
Similarly, the crash in offense occurs in 2008, the year MLB modified the standards for game used bats. Again. Equipment. Known modifications/changes in the fundamental equipment of the game, that maps exactly to the years in which offense goes up and then goes back down

That's interesting, I hadn't heard about that. The ball change in the early 90s I've always found a fairly convincing argument. What precisely did they change about the bats? I remember Bill James arguing in the Historical Abstract that a move away from the increasingly thin handles would hopefully cut homers and strikeouts. Though, clearly, if that is the change, it's not helping the Ks much.
   40. Mickey Henry Mays Posted: December 14, 2013 at 05:49 PM (#4618107)
I'll just repeat again, why would professional athletes, even at the risk of their health, their very livelihood, continue to inject, apply, ingest, etc a substance if it wasn't helping them perform better? It seems like Occams Razor would apply here.
   41. bookbook Posted: December 14, 2013 at 06:04 PM (#4618110)
I think the super- thin handled bat allows you to shave a few ounces off the weight of the bat, while maintaining the sweet spot. You can, thus, swing the bat faster and generate more power... (or something like that)
   42. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: December 14, 2013 at 06:19 PM (#4618116)
From Wiki. There are more detailed discussions of this out there, but it's a good summary:

In 2008, Major League Baseball began discussing whether maple bats are safe to use, due to the tendency for them to shatter.[13] A team of experts was put together by the Safety and Health Advisory Committee to study broken bats. The over-whelming conclusion confirmed by the experts was that the wood property that was causing dangerous 2-piece broken bats was "slope-of-grain". In essence, if a wood bat has suitably straight grain along it's length, if and when it breaks should typically result in the classic "splintery" or "rupture" failure. However, if the wood grain was NOT straight along the length, this typically resulted in the barrel separating dangerously from the handle. Thus, dangerous 2-piece breaks were due to the angled-grain in the bat, and not due to the wood species. New rules on wood quality and new technologies specific for maple bats were adopted by Major League Baseball starting in the 2009 season, and this created a stir in the wood bat industry.[14] A minimum slope-of-grain of 3-degrees was adopted and maple bats were now required to be oriented for flat-grain contact - which was proven to be a percentage stronger orientation for resisting the impact a baseball makes on the bat.
   43. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: December 14, 2013 at 06:22 PM (#4618117)
I'll just repeat again, why would professional athletes, even at the risk of their health, their very livelihood, continue to inject, apply, ingest, etc a substance if it wasn't helping them perform better? It seems like Occams Razor would apply here.


Major League Baseball players wear thick rope necklaces and magnet bracelets during games because they think it aligns their chi and prevents injury. They will do anything that they here *might* improve their game. They're not rationalists.
   44. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: December 14, 2013 at 06:43 PM (#4618123)
It bears mentioning that many more factors probably contributed to the explosion of offense in 1993 than just the balls and bats. Expansion diluted pitching. Parks started shrinking, or being in Denver. Foul ground started disappearing removing outs from the game. Player approach to at bats began to change. Strikeouts were no longer seen as terrible if you could hit for power. On-base began seeping into the general consciousness. Lots of things going on at once. And yes, one of those things was weight work and PED use in the gym. Particularly, players began year round training and weight work that they never did prior to the 1990s. Baseball players started to become less John Kruk and more "athlete." All of that goes into Sillyball, and a lot of it goes into the post-2008 crash in offense I'm sure. What I take real offense to is the unthinking, mindless attribution of that era to "steroids" without considering the many, many other factors at work.

I'm fine with people treating the 1990s like the 1930s. With people treating sluggers from that era the way we treat pitching numbers from the raised mound era. I have no problem saying Carlos Delgado isn't a HOF'er. But Barry Bonds? Jeff Bagwell? Larry Walker? Clearly and obviously qualified.
   45. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: December 14, 2013 at 07:31 PM (#4618134)
I'll just repeat again, why would professional athletes, even at the risk of their health, their very livelihood, continue to inject, apply, ingest, etc a substance if it wasn't helping them perform better?


Because their belief that it's helping them perform does not match up to what actually would.
   46. AJMcCringleberry Posted: December 14, 2013 at 07:56 PM (#4618142)
I'll just repeat again, why would professional athletes, even at the risk of their health, their very livelihood, continue to inject, apply, ingest, etc a substance if it wasn't helping them perform better? It seems like Occams Razor would apply here.

Yup, can we kick the greenie users out of the Hall now?

Major League Baseball players wear thick rope necklaces and magnet bracelets during games because they think it aligns their chi and prevents injury. They will do anything that they here *might* improve their game. They're not rationalists.

Yup. MLBN ran a piece today about baseball players and their stupid superstitions. More evidence that Tommy Lasorda is dumber than 10 dogs...a pigeon flew into his head and they won that night. He walked the same the way to the ballpark hoping to get hit in the head with a pigeon again.
   47. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: December 14, 2013 at 08:28 PM (#4618148)
I agreed we're unlikely to see a "perfect" ballot,

At the risk of being presumptuous, what would be the "perfect" BBTF ballot look like?

If Ken Davidoff repents and picks Piazza this year, then there's a pretty good chance that he will submit the perfect ballot.

EDIT: The column has disappeared but you can see his picks here:

Bagwell, Biggio, Bonds, Clemens, Lofton, Martinez, Raines, Schilling, Trammell, L.Walker


He unfairly penalized Piazza for his low bWAR/fWAR/bWAR7/JAWS total:

I looked at every candidate on this ballot and ranked him according to both WARs, Baseball-Reference’s WAR7 (which takes a candidate’s best seven seasons by WAR, to consider a player’s peak) and Jaffe’s JAWS. I rewarded a player one point for finishing first in a column, two points for second, etc. — and then ranked them by lowest score to highest.
   48. TR_Sullivan Posted: December 14, 2013 at 09:22 PM (#4618162)
I have never heard of this person. He may really have a Hall of Fame vote. If he does, he is the only voter who I have never heard of, met or read.
   49. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: December 14, 2013 at 09:29 PM (#4618163)
And he's writing for forbes.com, rather than an actual newspaper.
   50. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: December 14, 2013 at 09:37 PM (#4618167)
I have never heard of this person. He may really have a Hall of Fame vote. If he does, he is the only voter who I have never heard of, met or read.

No offense, but I really, really doubt he is the only one of the 600+ people with ballots, you have never heard of. That's a lot of people.
   51. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: December 14, 2013 at 10:24 PM (#4618174)

He unfairly penalized Piazza for his low bWAR/fWAR/bWAR7/JAWS total:

I looked at every candidate on this ballot and ranked him according to both WARs, Baseball-Reference’s WAR7 (which takes a candidate’s best seven seasons by WAR, to consider a player’s peak) and Jaffe’s JAWS. I rewarded a player one point for finishing first in a column, two points for second, etc. — and then ranked them by lowest score to highest.



Why is it unfair? If he prefers to vote on value, instead of giving a catcher bonus, that seems fine to me.
   52. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: December 14, 2013 at 10:54 PM (#4618178)
Steroids began creeping into baseball in the 1980s, and were a factor in at least some clubhouses (Oakland, notably) by 1988-89. If we honestly date "the steroid era" in baseball, we have to start at least in 1989 with the Bash Brothers clubhouse in Oakland. The steroid era "ended" as close as we can tell, in 2003, when MLB implemented a testing program. So a rational timeline for "The Steroid Era" in baseball would be something like 1988-2003.

The offensive explosion - "Sillyball" - doesn't map to that timeline at all. Offense exploded in 1993, five years after steroids became prominent in the game. Offense remained spiked until 2008, five years after MLB started testing. "Sillyball" maps to 1993-2008.


So what you are saying is that McGwire and Canseco juicing didn't immediately spike league wide offensive levels but instead it took a few years for it to get around the league and for guys to perfect their 'regimines'. And also that instituting testing in '03 didn't magically bring league wide offensive levels down the next day, but instead took years to take effect as guys came off their highs and folks started turning down the needle. Yeah, the 'time shift' is really a killer for the steroid argument. #eyeroll

Sure bats and balls and parks played a role, but juicing works as we continue to see in the game today.

   53. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: December 14, 2013 at 11:49 PM (#4618189)
Why is it unfair? If he prefers to vote on value, instead of giving a catcher bonus, that seems fine to me.

IIRC, Jay Jaffe discussed WAR and JAWS as it relates to catchers with Davidoff on the set of Clubhouse Confidential back in January. I suspect that Davidoff's view of Piazza has since evolved.
   54. Mickey Henry Mays Posted: December 15, 2013 at 11:18 AM (#4618267)
To what do you roid defenders attribute Bonds transformation from all time great to a Ted Williams/Babe Ruth hybrid, at an age when most guys are winding down? In fact he was just coming off the worst season of his career in 1999.
There's a part of me that is glad to have witnessed it because I doubt we'll ever see it again, but you won't convince too many people it was natural. I personally wouldn't keep any of the so called roiders out because of the slippery slope thing.
I was more or less playing devils advocate as far as the never-gonna-happen gate keepers excluding guys who, unless their standard for entry is Mays/Seaver had to have considered Bonds/Clemens already qualified prior to what is believed to be their first indulgence.
   55. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: December 15, 2013 at 01:30 PM (#4618360)
To what do you roid defenders attribute Bonds transformation from all time great to a Ted Williams/Babe Ruth hybrid, at an age when most guys are winding down?


Health and increased strength (likely benefiting from a modified and PED rich training regimen) + a completely different approach at the plate + a piece of body armor on his left elbow that mechanically guaranteed a near-perfect technical swing every time he unhinged it + a strike zone so tiny that postage stamps mocked it for having no leg room + the ball + the bats + the parks + being the second or third best hitter in the history of the game naturally. It's not like Bonds is the only person in the history of baseball to peak for power in his "sunset years."
   56. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: December 15, 2013 at 01:44 PM (#4618371)
It's not like Bonds is the only person in the history of baseball to peak for power in his "sunset years."


But how many peaked for batting average as well?
   57. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: December 15, 2013 at 02:17 PM (#4618394)
But how many peaked for batting average as well?


I don't know. But I'm not willing to blindly attribute Bonds' - one of the top five baseball players in the history of the game - anomalous late-career production spike to "PEDs" when there are other obvious factors involved as well.
   58. brutus Posted: December 15, 2013 at 02:44 PM (#4618401)
BBTF-approved ballot would:

1) Include 10 players on the ballot
2) Include Maddux
3) If voting for identified steroid players, include Bonds and Clemens (Palmeiro or McGwire are OK toward the bottom)
4) If not voting for identified steroid players, fill out the remaining slots with your choice from the following players:
Bagwell
Biggio
Raines
Schilling
Mussina
Glavine
Thomas
Kent
Edgar
Larry Walker
Trammell
McGriff
5) Do not make any poor comparison decisions (i.e. McGriff over Bagwell/Thomas or Kent over Biggio, etc.)

Any ballot following these rules would be easily defensible, too bad we'll only see a handful like it...
   59. Sunday silence Posted: December 15, 2013 at 02:45 PM (#4618402)
And to what do you attribute baseball players AS LARGE AS COWS in the 1990s?
   60. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: December 15, 2013 at 02:50 PM (#4618404)
   61. Barnaby Jones Posted: December 15, 2013 at 03:16 PM (#4618421)
I realize that I may be the only one, but I don't see Glavine as a particularly worthy choice. He was a good, not great pitcher, who had a long career and some great teammates. If he wasn't grouped with Maddux in people's minds, he'd be regarded as a much more marginal choice. He definitely would not make my ballot this year, if I had one.


You must think Whitey Ford was a big pile of garbage then.
   62. Barnaby Jones Posted: December 15, 2013 at 03:18 PM (#4618422)
No offense, but I really, really doubt he is the only one of the 600+ people with ballots, you have never heard of. That's a lot of people.


If Sullivan has a long history in the BBWAA, he might be familiar with most all of the members. Maybe that have lots of ice cream socials.
   63. Booey Posted: December 15, 2013 at 05:40 PM (#4618490)
#58 - No Piazza or Sosa on the approved list?
   64. brutus Posted: December 15, 2013 at 06:00 PM (#4618506)
Sorry, Piazza should have been on that list.

I didn't include Sosa on purpose because I don't think too many people have a strong preference toward him. I think the argument is that unlike the other known steroid guys, his value was tied into specific peak years that were more likely influenced by steroids compared to the others (Bonds, Clemens and McGwire had many good years before steroids, and Palmeiro was more of a career longevity guy).
   65. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: December 15, 2013 at 06:59 PM (#4618535)
I don't like Sosa for the Hall, nor would I vote for Palmeiro. Neither is due to PEDs. They just don't make my cut.
   66. Mickey Henry Mays Posted: December 15, 2013 at 07:12 PM (#4618542)
I didn't include Sosa on purpose because I don't think too many people have a strong preference toward him. I think the argument is that unlike the other known steroid guys, his value was tied into specific peak years that were more likely influenced by steroids compared to the others (Bonds, Clemens and McGwire had many good years before steroids, and Palmeiro was more of a career longevity guy).


Yes to everything you said. Sosa, beyond his 5 yr. peak had very little offensive value and since I'm not 100% sold on defensive metrics, I wouldn't vote for him. I think Bernie Williams has a better case.
   67. Booey Posted: December 15, 2013 at 07:57 PM (#4618554)
I didn't include Sosa on purpose because I don't think too many people have a strong preference toward him. I think the argument is that unlike the other known steroid guys, his value was tied into specific peak years that were more likely influenced by steroids compared to the others (Bonds, Clemens and McGwire had many good years before steroids, and Palmeiro was more of a career longevity guy).


I'd guess that many people here would vote for Sosa given an unlimited ballot. I agree that he's not likely to crack many top 10's on this packed ballot, but I think he's at least on the same level as McGriff or Kent, both of whom were listed as acceptable choices.

And he's not a known steroid guy. He's an assumed steroid guy.
   68. Danny Posted: December 15, 2013 at 09:08 PM (#4618581)
And he's not a known steroid guy. He's an assumed steroid guy.

He's a "reported by the NYT to have failed the 2003 'anonymous' PED test" guy.
   69. Booey Posted: December 15, 2013 at 09:23 PM (#4618589)
He's a "reported by the NYT to have failed the 2003 'anonymous' PED test" guy.


An anonymous source told the NYT that he was on the list. They never saw the list themselves. I wouldn't consider that damning evidence, would you?
   70. GregD Posted: December 15, 2013 at 10:00 PM (#4618597)
An anonymous source told the NYT that he was on the list. They never saw the list themselves. I wouldn't consider that damning evidence, would you?
Luckily, the Times had an unimpeachable record with anonymous sources all turning out to be accurate in late 2002 through 2003.
   71. Gonfalon B. Posted: December 15, 2013 at 10:06 PM (#4618602)
Rummy knows where the weapons of mass augmentation are buried. They're in the area around Canseco's swimming pool and east, west, south and north somewhat.
   72. Danny Posted: December 16, 2013 at 11:24 AM (#4618778)
n anonymous source told the NYT that he was on the list. They never saw the list themselves. I wouldn't consider that damning evidence, would you?

The NYT reporter for that story (who claimed to have multiple sources, not just one) was the same guy who first reported that Ortiz and Manny were on the 2003 list. Ortiz and the MLBPA later confirmed that Ortiz was on the list; I'm not sure whether Manny was confirmed.

Is that proof that Sosa used steroids? No, it's not even proof that he was on the 2003 list. But I think it rises above the level of "assumed," and that there's more evidence that Sosa used PEDs than there is for guys like Bagwell or Piazza.

As for it being damning, I don't really care about PEDs in terms of HOF voting, and I think Sosa's just below the borderline anyway.
Luckily, the Times had an unimpeachable record with anonymous sources all turning out to be accurate in late 2002 through 2003.

Funny, though the article was from 2009.
   73. Mickey Henry Mays Posted: December 16, 2013 at 02:29 PM (#4618956)
This excerpt does seem to give some credence to the steroid effect on performance. I'm not denying there were other factors at play as pointed out near the end, but you can't deny that steroids were at LEAST peripherally attributable.



It is possible to theorize, via the literature of the studies that have been done with regard to strength training, how they might translate to baseball. In a 2007 paper for the American Journal of Physics, Tufts University professor Roger G. Tobin estimated that a 10 percent increase in an athlete’s muscle mass would correspond with a 10 percent increase in the force exerted by those muscles. That in turn would correspond to a 10 percent increase in the kinetic energy of the bat, assuming a batter’s swing and technique remained the same, and a five percent increase in bat speed upon contact with a pitched ball. Modeling the physics of what happens when ball meets bat, such a gain would produce a three percent increase in speed, which would wind up in a 30 to 70 percent increase in home runs per ball on contact — a huge gain resulting from just a few feet difference in flight, essentially turning 30-homer hitters into 40- or 50-homer hitters.

The startling thing is that the range of increase in home runs per batted ball that could result from a 10 percent gain in muscle mass is on the order of what actually occurred throughout the entire majors from 1993 onward. From 1988-92, a very stable period of time for home run hitting, 2.7 percent of batted balls were home runs. In 1993, that number jumped to 3.1 percent, and then to 3.6 percent (36 percent above that five-year baseline) the following year. In every year between 1994 and 2010, the rate of homers per batted ball was anywhere from 31 to 56 percent above that five-year baseline. That period, not so coincidentally, was one of rapid change throughout baseball, featuring expansion, new ballparks, a crackdown in the enforcement of the strike zone and changes to the baseball itself. Thus one simply can’t point to home run spikes and definitively declare them an effect of PED use, for far too many other factors are at play.
   74. Ron J2 Posted: December 16, 2013 at 06:05 PM (#4619140)
#54 (Expanding on Rickey!)

Nothing explains Bonds very well. I mean it's pretty clear than an awful lot of players were getting chemical help and damned few saw anything near the performance increase that Bonds did.

That said, even by the standards of professional athletes he had an incredible work ethic.

He made a training decision to trade a very broad set of athletic skills for strength. (It is worth noting that Balco's client base included sprinters and linebackers. There's nothing about taking steroids in itself that results in a much stronger, slower athlete. That's a Bonds decision)

Having gotten much stronger, he made a conscious decision to hit more flyballs. Provided you're simply trading groundballs for flyballs (obviously not a given) this is a winning decision for most players. Worked even better for Bonds in that not only did his flyball rate go up, he was getting better results on them. This kind of major change is really hard to do at the major league level.

Another remarkable thing. He was clearly swinging harder and yet retained the same contact rate. That's truly remarkable.

One key factor in the late career peak seems to have been the change in the strike zone. From day one Bonds was a very disciplined hitter. He simply din't swing at "high" pitches. Because he was the best low ball hitter in the game an awful lot of pitchers tried to take advantage of the new strike zone with Bonds. Only to discover that he was an even better high ball hitter. (Again remarkable)

Brock Hanke went through the MLB archives and found that a very large number of the home runs in his record setting season were on pitches that in the past he'd have taken. (It's at this point that his IBBs reached absurd levels. We can't get him out with low stuff or high stuff, so screw it)

He was an early adapter to maple and unlike a low of maple users he didn't have problems with shattered bats. According to Sam Holman (the guy who made his bats) that's because he used thicker handles than anybody else. Again a difference between Bonds and everybody else.
   75. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: December 16, 2013 at 06:14 PM (#4619148)
Which is to say, Barry Bonds has a different career arc than anyone else in baseball history because no one else in baseball history is Barry ####### Lamar Bonds. The guy was simply better at baseball than anyone else in the game. He was a Ruth, a Williams, a Mays, whose career tail coincided with the most offensive friendly era in quite possibly the game's entire history.

A HOF without Barry Bonds is a joke. It's not worth pissing on if it's on fire.
   76. Mickey Henry Mays Posted: December 16, 2013 at 06:34 PM (#4619158)

A HOF without Barry Bonds is a joke. It's not worth pissing on if it's on fire.


I'm pretty sure that's one thing everybody here can agree with. The man was playing a different game than everybody else. For those 4 years, has anyone ever did so much damage with so few opportunities? The really amazing thing is, what he AVERAGED for four years would get a guy player of the week.

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