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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Hall of Fame: Why Tom Verducci won’t vote for steroid users | SI.com

Some people don’t know how to use a check book. That doesn’t mean nobody should have a checking account.

Wins Above Replacement

Like RBIs and saves, Wins Above Replacement is a semi-junk stat. Bill James has no use for it, yet some writers wield it incessantly. It is a measurement of nothing. It is an approximation, an attempt to roll everything about a player into one number. So it’s useful as a rule of thumb, like walking off the distance between two points and using your strides to “calculate” the distance. It tells you something, but I don’t want my contractor building my house like that. Yet writers are using WAR as an exact measurement, including the folly of using numbers after decimal points to split hairs. If you blindly believe in a stat that considers Bobby Abreu better than Yogi Berra, Lou Whitaker better than Reggie Jackson and Jeff Bagwell better than Joe DiMaggio, you better do some more homework.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 11, 2017 at 02:20 PM | 125 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, steroids

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   101. Morty Causa Posted: January 13, 2017 at 08:48 AM (#5382833)
198:

That is not a good ballot. It is not a horrible one, but there are way too many non-stellar players. Only Bagwell, Mussina, and Schilling are definites. Martinez and Raines strong maybes. The others are below the margin.
   102. bachslunch Posted: January 13, 2017 at 09:06 AM (#5382844)
Couple things:

"People who vote for steroid users like to use this word as a pejorative, as in, “We are not the morality police.” Relax. Save the overwrought comparisons to racists, drunks and sociopaths. We’re not talking about taking the measurement of how people live their life. We’re talking about the very bedrock of sports: fair play. If you don’t have an even playing field, you lose the foundation of competition. It should be my best and against your best, not my best against the best drugs you can covertly use to transform yourself. So yes, we’re talking about integrity, but integrity as it relates only to how a player competed on the field."

So what's the difference between steroid users and folks who appear to have thrown doctored pitches post-Burleigh Grimes, like G. Perry, Drysdale, Sutton, and Ford (and per Bill James, Maddux)? I don't see why that's "fair play" and the rest isn't. Did he (or would he) vote for these pitchers? And to boot, there were rules on the books against throwing doctored balls when they were active.

"Difference of opinion should be both expected and honored."

Expected, yes. Honored -- that depends on the basis.
   103. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 13, 2017 at 09:23 AM (#5382849)
So what's the difference between steroid users and folks who appear to have thrown doctored pitches post-Burleigh Grimes, like G. Perry, Drysdale, Sutton, and Ford (and per Bill James, Maddux)? I don't see why that's "fair play" and the rest isn't.


For starters, there's a method of on-field detection. When you throw a doctored pitch, there's a risk of getting caught, and ejected, by the game's on-field arbiters (that's also how between pre- and post-testing usage differ, though there it's simply the possibility of detection, though not on the field). Now, you personally may find these distinctions to be irrelevant - many do, or find pre-policy usage "can't be cheating" because it wasn't against the rules (a ridiculous but somewhat common position). But they are real, and drawing a line between them isn't inherently silly.
   104. bachslunch Posted: January 13, 2017 at 09:35 AM (#5382860)
@104: you said: "Now, you personally may find these distinctions to be irrelevant - many do"

I don't understand why that distinction is necessarily relevant. Especially since that doesn't hold for betting on games or throwing games; don't know how an on-field arbiter can catch this -- but there are rules on the books about it.
   105. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 13, 2017 at 09:36 AM (#5382861)
OK, somebody explain to me. Jeter is arguably the worst defensive SS in history, yet gets only minus 9.7 defensive WaR. Manny is nowhere near the worst LF, yet gets minus 22.5 defensive WaR. Jeter had a considerably longer career, so how can Manny have accumulated more negative WaR. Shortstops get far more balls hit to them than left fielders; Manny's negative WaR should be only about a third of Jeter's, if they were equally bad relative to others at the position.
In addition to the explanation provided by Fancy Pants, remember that number of balls hit to the positions don't fully account for the difference in defensive value. The balls that a SS misses are almost all singles; the balls that a LF misses are often doubles or triples.
   106. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 13, 2017 at 09:41 AM (#5382863)
Now, you personally may find these distinctions to be irrelevant
More than irrelevant, I find them stupid, and yes, "inherently silly." It would imply that people using steroids since 2005 are more deserving of the HOF than those who used steroids before then.
   107. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 13, 2017 at 09:42 AM (#5382864)
I don't understand why that distinction is necessarily relevant. Especially since that doesn't hold for betting on games or throwing games; don't know how an on-field arbiter can catch this -- but there are rules on the books about it.


You asked how they differ. That's one way. Another way is how they're punished by MLB. Not every distinction will matter to everyone, but where you or I personally draw the line between these things isn't necessarily correct.

As to your second point, you're never going to find everything fit into a neat basket, everything on this side is OK, everything on that isn't.
   108. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 13, 2017 at 09:43 AM (#5382865)
It would imply that people using steroids since 2005 are more deserving of the HOF than those who used steroids before then.


Not necessarily. They're simply different.
   109. bachslunch Posted: January 13, 2017 at 10:38 AM (#5382891)
@ 107: you said "You asked how they differ. That's one way."

Okay, I'll bite -- could you please explain why that difference is relevant? Especially given post 106?
   110. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 13, 2017 at 11:02 AM (#5382912)
Okay, I'll bite -- could you please explain why that difference is relevant? Especially given post 106?


There was risk involved. If you doctored a baseball, you were taking a chance. If you got caught, you'd get ejected, and punished (not with much of a punishment, particularly compared with post-testing juicing, but a penalty). But you did what you could in the open, and you took your chances. Pre-testing juicing carried no on-field risk (as we've seen, it carried many other kinds of risks, just not on-field ones).

If someone wants to draw a line there, one way or another, I don't see how it's wrong. You can believe that as long as baseball has a prescribed method for dealing with the cheating, then you'll let the sport handle that and won't make it a part of your consideration, but you're less tolerant of the surreptious* kind. Others can go the other way, and believe that if baseball had no policy against one form of cheating, it's not something you can consider but you'll come down hard on violations with prescribed rules. I find both ideas acceptable, provided the individual applies them consistently.

Personally, I wouldn't hold pre-testing juicing against the players. Not because it wasn't cheating - it clearly was. But because the entire system was corrupt, and singling out one group of people - the players, many of whom may have only undertaken a regimen in response to indifference to use by their peers and their desire to "keep up" - is mistaken.

I'm still not sure where I fall when it comes to the post-testing juicers.

   111. Booey Posted: January 13, 2017 at 11:46 AM (#5382950)
I'm still not sure where I fall when it comes to the post-testing juicers.


Just curious, but does the degree of punishment by MLB factor into the severity of the offense, in your opinion? For example, is Palmeiro in the same boat as Manny, ARod, and Braun even though PED use was just a relatively minor offense back then? Raffy only got a 10 game suspension, compared to much more for the others. If - as some have claimed - the lesser punishments for scuffing balls and corking bats are what proves that they're lesser offenses than PED's, wouldn't the lesser punishment for Raffy back in 2005 prove the same compared to later 'roid violations?

Also, what if a guy admits after his career is over that he juiced post testing but was never caught? Is that different than if he had been caught? To compare it to a non PED related violation, Pedro admitted a few years back that over 90% of the batters he hit were on purpose. No one seemed to hold that against him (including me). But if the umpires and league office knew that all those beanings were intentional at the time, every one of them could have resulted in ejections and possible suspensions. If he'd been suspended dozens of times over his career, shouldn't that invoke the character clause and cause people to re-consider his HOF worthiness? IOW, he's getting a pass for committing suspendable violations just cuz he was never caught. Would it make any sense to do that for PED violations as well?

I'm not critiquing anyone's opinions on PED's here. I'm honestly just curious to hear what others think the distinctions are.
   112. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 13, 2017 at 12:01 PM (#5382966)

I'm not critiquing anyone's opinions on PED's here. I'm honestly just curious to hear what others think about what the distinctions are.


All these questions are why I'm not sure where I stand on post-testing juicers.

The Pedro question - not so much on the suspension side, it's too far down the rabbit hole. But if you want to ding him on the character question because you believe people should not be routinely throwing hard spheres at other people, I'm OK with that. But other than the gambling issue, I see the character one as part of the puzzle, not in a good character in/bad character excluded way.
   113. bachslunch Posted: January 13, 2017 at 12:31 PM (#5382992)
@110: re this "You can believe that as long as baseball has a prescribed method for dealing with the cheating, then you'll let the sport handle that and won't make it a part of your consideration, but you're less tolerant of the surreptious* kind."

I'm finding this idea hard to understand. Wasn't punishing "cheaters" by not conferring the HoF honor on them the whole point? If so, if caught and you do your punishment you get in, but if not that's when you make them pay?
   114. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 13, 2017 at 12:40 PM (#5382997)
I'm finding this idea hard to understand. Wasn't punishing "cheaters" by not conferring the HoF honor on them the whole point? If so, if caught and you do your punishment you get in, but if not that's when you make them pay?


Say, instead of a whole group of cheaters in the pre-testing era, you had three. For years, this trio were surreptitiously getting an edge over their competitors through means that, in other sports, were resulting in significant punishments but people didn't think applied to baseball (in other words, the very early adopters). If you found definitive proof about that at the end of their very successful careers, do you think it would be automatically wrong to avoid giving them a significant lifetime honor, while not withholding that same honor from someone who got caught in a testing era, served his time, and then resumed his career?

The idea isn't that one is inherently wrong and the other right. Just that they're different, and can be approached differently depending on an individual's ideals.

Pre-testing PED use is different from post-testing use and from spitball use and bat corking and Derek Jeter getting hit on the end of the bat and selling the idea he got hit in the hand. They're all different forms of cheating, with all different levels of treatment by MLB. No one treats them all identically.

   115. zenbitz Posted: January 13, 2017 at 04:51 PM (#5383130)
Let's be perfectly honest. If Bonds gets hit by a bus in the 2000-2001 off season WHILE HOLDING PRESCRIPTION STEROIDS, not only is he in the HOF in by 2006, no one is ever held off a HOF ballot for "PED" issues.


As for Verducci and WAR, he is my summary: Sportswriter is bad at logic.
   116. cardsfanboy Posted: January 13, 2017 at 05:08 PM (#5383134)
As for Verducci and WAR, he is my summary: Sportswriter is bad at logic.


I just think that some of these sportswriters are just bad at explaining nuance. They are so used to the sports talk mentality, that they can't grasp and explain nuance to the point that their positions are actually undermined by people who understand logic and a well put together argument.

   117. Morty Causa Posted: January 13, 2017 at 05:14 PM (#5383137)
114:

Yes, like with Rose and Shoeless, no one is advocating that their stats be expunged. Those who refuse to vote for Bonds are doing so because they do not want to honor a person who has engaged in the behavior that he (or Rose or Shoeless) has. Same with Clemens (although there's much less evidence against Clemens) and Palmeiro. No one has an inalienable right to an honor.
   118. Booey Posted: January 13, 2017 at 07:19 PM (#5383164)
Yes, like with Rose and Shoeless, no one is advocating that their stats be expunged.


Plenty of people do argue exactly that (not so much around here). You've really never heard anyone say that the PED fueled HR records aren't valid and shouldn't be recognized by MLB? How Maris and Aaron are still the true SS and career HR kings?
   119. Morty Causa Posted: January 13, 2017 at 07:52 PM (#5383170)
Yes, I have heard that. I take that the enouncers to mean that we should officially discount their achievement or part of it. BUT, there is no way that the statistical record can be expunged. It's there. Just as Pete Rose's or Shoeless Joe's is. You cannot make the numbers disappear.
   120. bachslunch Posted: January 14, 2017 at 05:14 AM (#5383241)
@114: have read the first paragraph a couple times -- just can't see the rationale behind that thinking.
   121. Morty Causa Posted: January 14, 2017 at 10:21 AM (#5383254)
Let's be perfectly honest. If Bonds gets hit by a bus in the 2000-2001 off season WHILE HOLDING PRESCRIPTION STEROIDS, not only is he in the HOF in by 2006, no one is ever held off a HOF ballot for "PED" issues.

Let's pretend that Cobb was a virulent racist and that he engaged in racist pronouncements throughout a large swathe of his career. And his career had been within the last 35-40 years. Would you vote for him? Would you object if he weren't elected? Would you object if he were elected?
   122. Greg K Posted: January 14, 2017 at 10:58 AM (#5383260)
Let's be perfectly honest. If Bonds gets hit by a bus in the 2000-2001 off season WHILE HOLDING PRESCRIPTION STEROIDS, not only is he in the HOF in by 2006, no one is ever held off a HOF ballot for "PED" issues.

Let's pretend that Cobb was a virulent racist and that he engaged in racist pronouncements throughout a large swathe of his career. And his career had been within the last 35-40 years. Would you vote for him? Would you object if he weren't elected? Would you object if he were elected?

I would. Unrelated to that, off the field, that career would be one hell of a ride. I suppose there would likely be a string of altercations on the field too.
   123. Morty Causa Posted: January 14, 2017 at 11:02 AM (#5383263)
So, you would object if he were blackballed?
   124. Greg K Posted: January 14, 2017 at 11:28 AM (#5383274)
So, you would object if he were blackballed?

I'm pretty sure I would.

Maybe I could see it being justified if his views could be demonstrably shown to have hurt his team. Like non-white players boycotted signing there as free agents or something like that. But if hypothetical Ty Cobb played baseball anything like real world Ty Cobb he's got my vote.
   125. Morty Causa Posted: January 14, 2017 at 11:31 AM (#5383275)
Well, that's one vote.
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