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Sunday, June 01, 2014

Hoffman: Mets’ Abreu Is a Hall of Fame Candidate

An elder statesman of the game, Abreu has career statistics that are unquestionably worthy of Hall of Fame consideration, even if he and Cooperstown are rarely mentioned in the same breath.

But if Abreu is not a Hall of Famer, why does he have better statistics than so many players who have been inducted?

The first thing that jumps out is the number of times he has reached base. If you include everything from hits to walks to hit-by-pitches to reaching on errors, Abreu has reached base 4,020 times, passing Rogers Hornsby for 47th place on the career list by picking up two hits Saturday. If he sticks around, he could catch Tim Raines (4,076 times on base), Tony Gwynn (4,094) and Jimmie Foxx (4,124), among others.

The stocky Abreu has never looked like a flashy player, but he has often played like one. On Friday, he stole his 400th base, which, combined with his 912 extra-base hits, puts him in the exclusive 900-400 club with Barry Bonds, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Craig Biggio and Paul Molitor. If he can manage 12 more home runs, he will join an even more elite club: players with 300 home runs and 400 stolen bases. Membership currently comprises players with the last name Bonds: Barry and his father, Bobby.

...An attempt by the statistician Jay Jaffe to account for the explosiveness of a player’s prime, and his prolonged value, resulted in a statistic called Jaffe WAR Scoring System, generally referred to as JAWS. The statistic is an average of a player’s career WAR and the WAR of his best seven-year stretch.

That method gave Abreu a 51.2 through Friday, which had him just ahead of Suzuki as the 17th-best right fielder to play the game. He is ahead of recent stars like Vladimir Guerrero and Gary Sheffield.

He is also rated higher than Dave Winfield, Elmer Flick, Willie Keeler, Enos Slaughter, Sam Rice, Harry Hooper, Kiki Cuyler, Chuck Klein, Sam Thompson, King Kelly and Ross Youngs. The common thread is that all of those players are right fielders with plaques in Cooperstown.

Over his entire career, Abreu has been snubbed despite his obvious talent. He has appeared in just two All-Star Games (Winfield, who is three spots below him in terms of JAWS, played in 12) and has never finished higher than 12th in the voting for most valuable player. He has one Gold Glove and one Silver Slugger Award, and no other major awards.

A hot topic in recent seasons has been whether Carlos Beltran, with a terrific postseason résumé and an unusual blend of speed and power, is a Hall of Famer. While certainly a superior fielder to Abreu, Beltran is inferior in a number of offensive categories, including extra-base hits and stolen bases.

And most starkly, Beltran would need to reach safely in 674 of his next 895 plate appearances to match Abreu’s career totals through Friday.

Thanks to Butch

 

Repoz Posted: June 01, 2014 at 10:31 AM | 75 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, hof

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   1. PreservedFish Posted: June 01, 2014 at 11:01 AM (#4716798)
On Friday, he stole his 400th base, which, combined with his 912 extra-base hits, puts him in the exclusive 900-400 club


Why was there no ESPN simulcast of this event?
   2. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: June 01, 2014 at 11:08 AM (#4716802)
the exclusive 900-400 club

So exclusive that I've never even heard of it!
   3. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: June 01, 2014 at 11:12 AM (#4716804)
Obviously this is your typical"He's better than all the worst and most obscure Hall of Famers" argument, but it's good to see an appreciation of Abreu's work.
   4. Rennie's Tenet Posted: June 01, 2014 at 11:24 AM (#4716807)
BB-Ref has him at 918 extra-base hits, which puts him in a pretty good club all by itself.
   5. JJ1986 Posted: June 01, 2014 at 11:39 AM (#4716811)
Beltran is inferior in a number of offensive categories, including...stolen bases.


And caught-stealings. Beltran has far fewer caught-stealings.
   6. KT's Pot Arb Posted: June 01, 2014 at 11:46 AM (#4716816)
Man JAWS over-rates guys who were super healthy and never missed games. It's like someone came up with a new version of career WAR that does pretty much exactly what career WAR does.
   7. clowns to the left of me; STEAGLES to the right Posted: June 01, 2014 at 12:08 PM (#4716819)
abreu's problem will likely be that he doesn't have an obvious constituency of backers. philly isn't gonna push his candidacy, and neither is anyone in NY or LA since they didn't see him at his best.

   8. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: June 01, 2014 at 12:11 PM (#4716821)
Abreu's a better candidate than I realized; he's at 60.9 WAR, which at least puts him in the conversation. (Of course, he was at 57 WAR at age 35 five years ago, and hasn't done much since.) But he's got too many negatives: no rings, no MVPs, only 2 ASGs, awful defense and uninspiring counting numbers. He'll get a few votes, maybe.
   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 01, 2014 at 12:24 PM (#4716825)
Classic HoVG player.
   10. Sweatpants Posted: June 01, 2014 at 12:29 PM (#4716827)
But he's got too many negatives: no rings, no MVPs, only 2 ASGs, awful defense and uninspiring counting numbers.
He didn't really get that rep until late in his career, after he'd moved to the AL. He won a Gold Glove with Philly.

How many guys who are in the Hall of Fame weren't widely considered future HOFers during their career? To me, that's the biggest thing Abreu has working against him.
   11. cardsfanboy Posted: June 01, 2014 at 01:55 PM (#4716858)
Obviously this is your typical"He's better than all the worst and most obscure Hall of Famers" argument, but it's good to see an appreciation of Abreu's work.


Nearly word for word what I was thinking when I was reading this excerpt.

He pulled out all the cliches you expect to find in these type of articles
1. An exclusive club that he barely qualifies for, that put him in the same sentence as great players (check) (members of the 400-900 club Bonds, Biggio, Abreu, Molitor, Cobb, Speaker, Wagner.)
2. Compare him to weak members of the hof (check)
3. Ignore comparisons of him to players not in the hof(check) his reached base list has Abreu at 47...guys ahead of him include Baines, Vizquel, Staub, and Dwight Evans is within 20 of him right now. (Not to mention legit hof candidates like Sheffield, Biggio, Raines, etc.)
or with his Jaws numbers he ignores that Abreu is behind Reggie Smith and Dwight Evans

He hand waves the career totals by just saying
He has the counting stats that some fans still love, including 2,453 hits, 1,357 runs batted in and 1,445 runs,

No attempt to put those in context or rank them, because they don't do so well.

Abreu is a great player, but the reason why the nobody is taking up his cause is that he's not retired, not the best available candidate at his position, and probably not quite cross the theoretical line to put someone in.
   12. cardsfanboy Posted: June 01, 2014 at 02:01 PM (#4716863)
How many guys who are in the Hall of Fame weren't widely considered future HOFers during their career? To me, that's the biggest thing Abreu has working against him.


Hard to say without going back over everybody,(and ignoring the vets selections) but guys like Ozzie Smith didn't get that rep until very late in their career. I don't know how many of Andre Dawson, Roberto Alomar, Jim Rice, Bert Blyleven, Bruce Sutter, Tony Perez, Fingers etc were considered hofers when they played.
   13. Srul Itza At Home Posted: June 01, 2014 at 02:51 PM (#4716888)
guys like Ozzie Smith didn't get that rep until very late in their career. I don't know how many of Andre Dawson, Roberto Alomar, Jim Rice, Bert Blyleven, Bruce Sutter, Tony Perez, Fingers etc were considered hofers when they played.


Well before he retired, people were touting Ozzie because he was the greatest fielding short stop ever.

Roberto Alomar was talked about as a Hall of Famer because he was .300 hitting 2d baseman with a ton of gold gloves.

Andre Dawson had his backers, too.

Teh Fear, the Dutchman, Sutter and Perez -- not so much
   14. Tubbs & Minnie Miñoso don't fear Sid Monge Posted: June 01, 2014 at 05:15 PM (#4716967)
I'd like to hear some opinions of Abreu as a player and his HOF candidacy from some Philadelphia and NY fans. Abreu had the misfortune of being traded from Phllly just before their 07-11 run and was gone from NY by the time the Jeter/Rivera/Pettitte/Posada group had their last WS title in 09.
   15. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 01, 2014 at 05:20 PM (#4716968)
How many guys who are in the Hall of Fame weren't widely considered future HOFers during their career?

plenty. all those guys who played with frisch? nobody other than frankie was talking about those guys as hall of famers when folks debated such things.
   16. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: June 01, 2014 at 05:49 PM (#4716981)
If by "Hall of Fame Candidate" he means that Abreu will make the HoF ballot, then certainly. I feel quite confident that Abreu will be a one and done.
   17. Lassus Posted: June 01, 2014 at 06:00 PM (#4716985)
I feel quite confident that Abreu will be a one and done.

I don't think he'll come close, but I think he gets more than one ballot.
   18. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 01, 2014 at 06:11 PM (#4716990)
I don't think he'll come close, but I think he gets more than one ballot.


I think it all depends on the ballot at the time he hits it. If it's still looking something like today's mess, than I don't see him getting 5 percent. A ballot more like 2011's could buy him an extra round or two of voting.

   19. Walt Davis Posted: June 01, 2014 at 06:52 PM (#4717005)
If Abreu isn't one and done then our glorious sabermetric revolution will have proven unstoppable.

His best MVP finish was 12th, he made only 2 AS games. He has only 5 top 10 WARpos finishes, never better than 7th. He led the league once in doubles, triples and walks.

His main claim to fame is 8 100-RBI seasons.

Oh for crying out loud, b-r now has player of the month awards.

   20. cardsfanboy Posted: June 01, 2014 at 07:02 PM (#4717010)
Oh for crying out loud, b-r now has player of the month awards.


Yes, I noticed that too, when I was looking up Puig today.
   21. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: June 01, 2014 at 09:16 PM (#4717050)
I'd like to hear some opinions of Abreu as a player and his HOF candidacy from some Philadelphia and NY fans.

I watched him from 01-06 in Philly and he was as consistently good as a hitter as anyone. A patient, patient hitter. My observation of his defense was that he was so-so, decent reads, decent speed, good but not great arm, but the wail really did scare him. The yahoos of course, focused on the wall problem solely and didn't like him.

HOF? My gut says not quite, but shoot me a compelling argument and I could change my mind.
   22. Cooper Nielson Posted: June 01, 2014 at 10:18 PM (#4717078)
How many guys who are in the Hall of Fame weren't widely considered future HOFers during their career? To me, that's the biggest thing Abreu has working against him.

Hard to say without going back over everybody,(and ignoring the vets selections) but guys like Ozzie Smith didn't get that rep until very late in their career. I don't know how many of Andre Dawson, Roberto Alomar, Jim Rice, Bert Blyleven, Bruce Sutter, Tony Perez, Fingers etc were considered hofers when they played.


In my recollection, Jim Rice was "widely considered" a future HOFer when he played, but that sentiment peaked around 1978-80 then declined the rest of his career, to the extent that when he was actually eligible for the HOF, he only got 30% of the votes.

Roberto Alomar seemed like a slam-dunk HOFer at one point. He was widely considered the best 2B of his era (post-Sandberg) and seemed like he would just coast into the Hall. Then he fell off a major cliff. But he still got in on the second ballot.

Paul Molitor is a guy I was thinking of. I don't know if he got any serious HOF attention until he hit .341 (and got his 3000th hit) at age 39.

Obviously Blyleven was not widely thought of as a HOFer until years after his career was over.
   23. bobm Posted: June 01, 2014 at 11:13 PM (#4717105)
Was Eddie Murray thought of as a HoFer prior to approaching 500 HR / 3000 H? He won a RoY award but never won an MVP.
   24. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: June 01, 2014 at 11:21 PM (#4717111)
Murray was Rafael Palmeiro before Rafael Palmeiro was Rafael Palmeiro. Before the steroid taint came into play, that is.
   25. cardsfanboy Posted: June 01, 2014 at 11:42 PM (#4717120)
Was Eddie Murray thought of as a HoFer prior to approaching 500 HR / 3000 H? He won a RoY award but never won an MVP.


Absolutely. It was weird, that when he became eligible people were actually writing articles questioning whether he would go in on the first ballot, when for a decade plus he was widely considered a future hof.

If you look at MVP shares, he has the most of anyone who never won one...and he's 23rd of all time, that is quite impressive. Murray hurt his career by sticking around as a part time player at the end, but most of his career, he was widely considered a hofer.

As an NL guy, he was one of the few AL guy's who's greatness easily penetrated my youth consciousness.
   26. Tubbs & Minnie Miñoso don't fear Sid Monge Posted: June 02, 2014 at 12:42 AM (#4717138)
HOF? My gut says not quite, but shoot me a compelling argument and I could change my mind.

Thanks for replying, Edmundo

I find it interesting that some of the guys who's candidacies rest more compiling totals than a strong peak can make it or not make it in based on a counting stat. Like say if Al Oliver maybe had one more good season and finished with 2900 instead of 2743 hits than suddenly he has a lot more HOF support than what he received. Two more good seasons and he would've made 3,000 and eventually made it in for sure.

Abreu has reached some interesting career milestones but aside from the numbers there isn't enough of a HOF narrative to make him a serious candidate. Abreu could tack on a little bit more to his career totals, but as a part time player I don't think it will be nearly enough
   27. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: June 02, 2014 at 02:40 AM (#4717148)
I never realized that Abreu was taken by the Devil Rays in the expansion draft. They promptly traded him to the Phillies for Kevin Stocker the year before he became a star. Man those Tampa teams were run by complete idiots.
   28. shoewizard Posted: June 02, 2014 at 03:20 AM (#4717151)
Just playing around with Play Index. Minimum 5000 PA since 1947 with 50% playing time at either RF or LF.

Decided to focus more on WAA than WAR. When I set the WAA > .003 * PA Abreu didn't make the cut. Had to lower it to .0028 to get him in there. Almost 10,000 career PA.

Rk              Player WAA/pos OPS+  BtRuns Rbaser Rfield    PA
1          Barry Bonds   123.5  182 1302.51   43.9  174.8 12606
2           Hank Aaron    92.5  155  922.67   43.1   97.7 13941
3     Rickey Henderson    68.6  127  548.66  144.5   64.6 13346
4       Frank Robinson    64.7  154  778.67   35.1   22.3 11742
5         Ted Williams    59.0  188  736.31    1.5  
-38.2  6503
6          Stan Musial    57.7  155  728.20   
-0.0   16.8 10062
7     Roberto Clemente    56.8  130  359.18   20.0  204.8 10211
8            Al Kaline    55.3  134  490.31   36.4  152.2 11596
9     Carl Yastrzemski    49.9  130  540.31   
-2.2  183.5 13992
10        Larry Walker    48.2  141  442.62   40.0   93.9  8030
11          Tony Gwynn    36.4  132  437.74   23.4    5.7 10232
12       Manny Ramirez    35.6  154  710.66  
-21.6 -128.6  9774
13      Reggie Jackson    35.2  139  519.50  
-10.1  -23.1 11418
14          Tim Raines    35.0  123  333.74  114.8   
-7.1 10359
15        Dwight Evans    32.8  127  367.80    2.4   66.3 10569
16         Bobby Bonds    31.8  129  278.09   37.7   47.6  8090
17         Bobby Abreu    29.4  129  421.53   16.4   
-0.3  9984
18   Vladimir Guerrero    29.4  140  471.45   
-3.0    7.1  9059
19          Sammy Sosa    28.0  128  332.47  
-14.6   85.7  9896
20       Ichiro Suzuki    27.4  111  131.77   59.8  107.6  9371
21         Brian Giles    27.2  136  409.11   20.9  
-28.0  7836
22       Minnie Minoso    26.8  130  303.15   13.0   26.3  7712
23     Willie Stargell    26.6  147  497.68  
-13.1  -70.1  9027
24          Jack Clark    25.5  137  388.73   
-4.0  -21.6  8230
25         Ralph Kiner    25.2  152  373.09   
-0.1  -39.2  5677
Rk              Player WAA
/pos OPS+  BtRuns Rbaser Rfield    PA
26           J
.DDrew    25.0  125  212.01    8.8   69.8  6153
27       Matt Holliday    22.0  136  309.42   12.3  
-21.0  6363
28      Jesse Barfield    21.8  117  103.02   
-8.9  161.4  5394
29   Darryl Strawberry    20.7  138  284.12   
-2.3   -7.4  6326
30          Tony Oliva    20.1  131  246.00    5.1   55.8  6880
31         Roger Maris    19.7  127  185.26   18.2   44.7  5847
32        Lonnie Smith    18.9  118  149.24   35.1   24.1  5952
33       David Justice    18.8  129  253.63  
-15.8   50.7  6602 


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/2/2014.
   29. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: June 02, 2014 at 09:07 AM (#4717187)
Thanks, shoe. I am ok with a HOF that cuts off after Raines.
   30. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 02, 2014 at 09:22 AM (#4717192)
Abreu's dirty little secret is that he was quietly one of the most durable players in the history of the game. I've mentioned this before, but he holds the record for most consecutive 150-game seasons played. That's going to drive up his counting stats and WAR, in kind of a stealthy manner.
   31. bobm Posted: June 02, 2014 at 09:33 AM (#4717199)
[30] For single seasons, From 1961 to 2014, (requiring G>=150)

                                         
Rk                    Yrs From   To   Age
1           Pete Rose  17 1963 1983 22-42
2        Eddie Murray  16 1977 1996 21-40
3     Rafael Palmeiro  15 1988 2004 23-39
4          Cal Ripken  15 1982 1998 21-37
5         Bobby Abreu  13 1998 2010 24-36
6         Derek Jeter  13 1996 2012 22-38
7      Billy Williams  13 1962 1975 24-37
8     Brooks Robinson  13 1961 1974 24-37
9       Ichiro Suzuki  12 2001 2013 27-39
10        Dale Murphy  12 1978 1991 22-35
11        Rusty Staub  12 1963 1978 19-34
12      Miguel Tejada  11 1999 2010 25-36
13       Andruw Jones  11 1997 2007 20-30
14       Craig Biggio  11 1990 2005 24-39
15      Ryne Sandberg  11 1982 1996 22-36
16       Steve Garvey  11 1974 1986 25-37
17          Lou Brock  11 1964 1974 25-35
18   Carl Yastrzemski  11 1962 1977 22-37
19          Ron Santo  11 1961 1971 21-31


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/2/2014.

ETA: Interesting to see Abreu near Murray and Palmeiro on this list.
   32. Ray (RDP) Posted: June 02, 2014 at 10:33 AM (#4717234)
Thanks, shoe. I am ok with a HOF that cuts off after Raines.


Yep, me too.
   33. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: June 02, 2014 at 10:50 AM (#4717250)
I never realized that Abreu was taken by the Devil Rays in the expansion draft. They promptly traded him to the Phillies for Kevin Stocker the year before he became a star. Man those Tampa teams were run by complete idiots.

I never actually looked at the expansion draft before. If they HAD ended up with Abreu they would have gotten by far the most value of anyone in the draft. Is it me or are 90% of those guys middle relievers?

The second-best career from a player in the 1997 expansion draft was probably Tony Batista or Jeff Suppan. Who were also given away by the Diamondbacks.

Otherwise you have…

Dmitri Young
Brian Anderson (the pitcher)
Tony Saunders (the broken arm)
Cory Lidle
Jason Johnson
Omar Daal
Kelly Stinnett
David Dellucci

Most of whom also did not make a name with the Dbacks or Drays.

   34. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 02, 2014 at 10:57 AM (#4717258)
Daal was actually pretty useful in the desert, 2-plus years of 4.11 ERA (109 ERA+), then used in the package to get Schilling.

   35. Jeltzandini Posted: June 02, 2014 at 11:28 AM (#4717296)
His peak was 1998-2006, during which he played 157 games a year and hit 305/416/513. A 300 hitter who would walk 100 times a year and provide good doubles power. It being the era it was, 20-30 of those doubles would become homers. The era knocks that all down to a 139 OPS+. Not the best in baseball, but pretty damn valuable. Always top ten in OBP during a time when runners scored at a very high rate.

Better in the postseason than I remembered.

Won't make the HOF, wouldn't be a joke if he did.
   36. Booey Posted: June 02, 2014 at 11:31 AM (#4717299)
Abreu's dirty little secret is that he was quietly one of the most durable players in the history of the game. I've mentioned this before, but he holds the record for most consecutive 150-game seasons played.


Only cuz of the strike. Pro-rate his games played in 1994 and 1995 to a full season, and Raffy's 15 150 game seasons in 17 years in post#31 becomes 17 straight. He never missed double digits in games any season from 1988-2004.

Still a very impressive career by Abreu, though. He'd fall just short of my personal HOF, despite having a similar WAR total to several contemporaries that would make it in (McGwire, Sosa, Sheffield, Vlad, Kent). He just didn't stand out as much as those guys did (all star selections, MVP voting record, etc). Those things make a big difference when it comes to the borderliners, IMO.

Edit: Ripken gets 17 straight 150 game seasons without the strike as well
   37. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 02, 2014 at 11:36 AM (#4717306)
Pro-rate his games played in 1994 and 1995 to a full season, and Raffy's 15 150 game seasons in 17 years in post#31 becomes 17 straight. He never missed double digits in games any season from 1988-2004.


Not surprisingly, the same is true for Cal.
   38. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: June 02, 2014 at 11:40 AM (#4717309)
Also Rose and Ripken. Rose gets 15 counting 1981 (19 straight of 148+). Ripken gets 17 counting 1994-95.
   39. PreservedFish Posted: June 02, 2014 at 01:04 PM (#4717397)
Abreu was known to be a very good prospect at the time of the expansion draft. I remember being surprised that he was left exposed.
   40. Srul Itza Posted: June 02, 2014 at 01:36 PM (#4717416)
Abreu's dirty little secret is that he was quietly one of the most durable players in the history of the game.


Not running into walls does have its upside.
   41. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: June 02, 2014 at 01:42 PM (#4717424)
Man JAWS over-rates guys who were super healthy and never missed games.

Not missing games is an important skill.
   42. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: June 02, 2014 at 01:59 PM (#4717453)
Not missing games is an important skill.

Yep. Abreu was a very good player who was definitely underrated during his peak years. And it would be a mistake to lump him in with the compilers -- guys like Johnny Damon, who has a similar career WAR but never topped 5.6 in any given season. Abreu *averaged* 6 WAR a season from 1998-2004, but never had the one big season or the black ink to be a "future HOFer". He's the kind of guy who needs to play well into his late 30s or hit some milestone numbers to have a real shot at the HOF, and he didn't do that, but he still deserves consideration.
   43. alilisd Posted: June 02, 2014 at 02:04 PM (#4717455)
He has the counting stats that some fans still love, including 2,453 hits, 1,357 runs batted in and 1,445 runs,

No attempt to put those in context or rank them, because they don't do so well.


Well, they do require context, of course, but I think they do just fine. 109th in hits is good. 85th in RBI is very good. 79th in runs is also very good. Perhaps not quite as impressive in context as he played in a high offense era, but still quite good.
   44. tfbg9 Posted: June 02, 2014 at 02:06 PM (#4717460)
That list in 28 sez Yaz was a helluva fielder.
Abreu famously lost much of his HR power pretty much right after winning the AGS HR contest, or so the story goes.
   45. alilisd Posted: June 02, 2014 at 02:13 PM (#4717465)
Not missing games is an important skill.


Yes, indeed. I hope people aren't suggesting being healthy and playing a lot makes Abreu a lesser player. His first 7 years, 24 to 30, in the league he averaged 5.9 WAR. Walker (23 to 29), otoh, just 3.9. Even giving Walker strike credit, which he deserves, does not make up the difference. Now was Abreu a better player than a healthy Walker? No, but he sure was a valuable player to have on your team.
   46. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: June 02, 2014 at 02:53 PM (#4717503)
I don't know how many of Andre Dawson, Roberto Alomar, Jim Rice, Bert Blyleven, Bruce Sutter, Tony Perez, Fingers etc were considered hofers when they played.


Talk of Dawson as a future HOfer pretty much peaked when he ht 49 homers (which was well after his actual peak), he had a LOOOONG decline phase and I don't really recall any HOF talk by the time he retired.

Alomar was seen as a future HOFer virtually his entire career, right up to his early cliff dive.

Rice was seen as a future HOfer during his [early] peak, by the time he retried he really wasn't "in the conversation"

Mattingly had a similar arc as a HOF "candidate," but unlike Rice there does not seems to be any belated re-emergence as a candidate.

Blyleven, I think there was some discussion near the end when it looked like he may reach 300, but the he didn't and it died down (still more HOF talk than I recall Jack Morris ever got during his career).

Perez, no, none really...

Fingers? He was just a kind of "not serious just talking" candidate people sometimes threw out, passed Hoyt Wilhelm as the all time leader in saves... it was kind of like, "If you're gonna vote for a relief pitcher then Fingers could/should go in"

Sutter, kind of like Fingers but less HOF talk, career didn't last as long, people thought he'd dethrone Fingers as the all time saves leader, but he didn't.
   47. Ziggy Posted: June 02, 2014 at 03:17 PM (#4717518)
Can I take this opportunity to ask about the philosophy behind strike-credit (and other such credits)? Walker didn't play during the strike. What's the rationale for pretending that he did? Those games that striking players missed are games in which they really could have generated value for their teams, but didn't. It really does, in a fairly obvious way, make their careers less valuable.

I have similar misgivings about war credit. It may be unfair to penalize a player for helping to save the world from the Nazis, but if that's the rationale for giving them this credit, I think that we've misconceived the nature of our project. Helping to save the world from the Nazis gives you extra credit when we evaluate you as a PERSON, but what relevance is it to evaluating you as a BASEBALL PLAYER? (Why would fairness be relevant to evaluating baseball players?) Yes, Ted Williams would have put up some monster seasons if he hadn't gone to war, nevertheless, he did go to war. He traded some MVP-type-seasons for helping in WWII, and it was a good trade, all things considered. But it really was a trade, and he really didn't put up monster seasons while in the service.
   48. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 02, 2014 at 03:46 PM (#4717541)
The answer, I think, is that these questions are a constant tug-of-war between value and greatness. When you ask "how valuable was player X?" then credit for that which he didn't do is pointless.

But if you want to know simply how good a player was, then the fact that a guy lost 2-3 seasons off his prime to the war (or racism or idiocy) is worth considering.

In some ways, it's an offshoot of the career vs. peak value argument.

That being said, I don't think there's a lot of call to give strike credit, other than in the sense used by allisd where he's extrapolating the partial seasons from Walker's resume to see how he was performing on a rate basis against Abreu. I don't think many people look at time lost to game-wide work stoppages in the same way they do to individual lost games due to war or other factors.
   49. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: June 02, 2014 at 03:56 PM (#4717556)
For the strikes at least, I don't think it's about giving the players credit so much as acknowledging that they may have played in a high percentage of games that they were able to play. A guy who played in 115 games in 1994 wasn't injured; he played in all of his team's games. IOW, it's not that we're going to give him an extra 15 HRs when comparing him to players in other eras, but rather that we're not going to penalize him for being injured.
   50. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: June 02, 2014 at 04:00 PM (#4717564)
But if you want to know simply how good a player was, then the fact that a guy lost 2-3 seasons off his prime to the war (or racism or idiocy) is worth considering.


Right. Giving war credit is a way of illustrating greatness. Someone can look at say Hank Greenberg or Johnny mize and say "How good could they have been. Slugging firstbasemen who didn't get even 400 HR? No better than Delgado or Giambi." So you say "Yeah, but, they missed time due to the war." Giving them credit for time missed is a shorthand way of illustrating that they were really better than what their numbers say, through no fault of their own.

Who was the better player?:

.313/331/1276 158 OPS+

.292/351/1119 156 OPS+

Neither provided much defensive value or baserunning value. Their value was all tied up in their bats. Looks like careers of similar length. Why is one a no doubt HOFer and one not in?
   51. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: June 02, 2014 at 04:11 PM (#4717580)
Can I take this opportunity to ask about the philosophy behind strike-credit (and other such credits)? Walker didn't play during the strike. What's the rationale for pretending that he did? Those games that striking players missed are games in which they really could have generated value for their teams, but didn't. It really does, in a fairly obvious way, make their careers less valuable.

I have similar misgivings about war credit. It may be unfair to penalize a player for helping to save the world from the Nazis, but if that's the rationale for giving them this credit, I think that we've misconceived the nature of our project. Helping to save the world from the Nazis gives you extra credit when we evaluate you as a PERSON, but what relevance is it to evaluating you as a BASEBALL PLAYER? (Why would fairness be relevant to evaluating baseball players?) Yes, Ted Williams would have put up some monster seasons if he hadn't gone to war, nevertheless, he did go to war. He traded some MVP-type-seasons for helping in WWII, and it was a good trade, all things considered. But it really was a trade, and he really didn't put up monster seasons while in the service.


It really comes down to what questions you're trying to answer. Ted Williams was the best hitter on the planet in 1942, when he played for the Red Sox, and he was the best hitter on the planet in 1946 when he played for the Red Sox. It's not a massive stretch to assert that he was the best hitter on the planet in 1943, 1944, and 1945 when he was flying airplanes for the United States Marine Corps. If you're trying to answer the simple mathematical question of who accrued the most value at the plate of any left fielder who ever lived, you're absolutely correct not to give war credit. If you're trying to answer the more esoteric question of who was the greatest of all time, you should probably at least pay attention to the fact that there are gaps for 1943, 1944, 1945, 1952, and 1953 that have nothing to do with health or ineffectiveness, that he was clearly the best hitter in baseball on both sides of those gaps, and that it wouldn't stretch the imagination to assume he would have continued to be the best hitter in baseball during those gaps.
   52. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: June 02, 2014 at 04:15 PM (#4717590)
Or to put it sabermetrically, Player A (Greenberg) has 57 career WAR. a respectible number, but plenty of other non-hOFers have similar or better numbers:

Bobby Bonds
John Olerud
Bob Johnson
Will Clark
Johnny Damon
Willie Davis
etc...

All are within +/- 3 WAR of Greenberg. None are in the Hall, nor likely to get into the hall, though some have some decent argument. Yet Greenberg is a no brainer. Why? Because his 57 career WAR doesn't properly capture his greatness because of time lost due to circumstances totally beyond his control. Givng him war credit is a shorthand way of saying he wasn't merely as good as John Olerud. He was really as good as Jeff Bagwell.
   53. alilisd Posted: June 02, 2014 at 04:17 PM (#4717597)
Can I take this opportunity to ask about the philosophy behind strike-credit (and other such credits)?


They are games a player missed over which he had no control (I guess that's a bit more dicey for strikes since the players did have some control over them, but chose to miss them in order to further labor conditions). Had there been no strike, Walker would have played more games those years and had better numbers as he was not injured in either of those seasons and played a high percentage of those games. I think it's relevant to acknowledge that when comparing him to someone, as I was comparing him to Abreu. ymmv.

That being said, I don't think there's a lot of call to give strike credit, other than in the sense used by allisd where he's extrapolating the partial seasons from Walker's resume to see how he was performing on a rate basis against Abreu. I don't think many people look at time lost to game-wide work stoppages in the same way they do to individual lost games due to war or other factors.


Well said!

IOW, it's not that we're going to give him an extra 15 HRs when comparing him to players in other eras, but rather that we're not going to penalize him for being injured.


Yes, this too.
   54. alilisd Posted: June 02, 2014 at 04:21 PM (#4717601)
He was really as good as Jeff Bagwell.


Let's not get carried away. :-)
   55. Booey Posted: June 02, 2014 at 04:24 PM (#4717604)
For the strikes at least, I don't think it's about giving the players credit so much as acknowledging that they may have played in a high percentage of games that they were able to play. A guy who played in 115 games in 1994 wasn't injured; he played in all of his team's games. IOW, it's not that we're going to give him an extra 15 HRs when comparing him to players in other eras, but rather that we're not going to penalize him for being injured.


Agreed. I wouldn't give strike credit when you're gauging the value of a players entire career, but I think it's relevant sometimes in response to a specific question - like the post about 150 game seasons. Obviously a guy can't play 150 games in a season that wasn't even 150 games long, so it's worth noting that Ripken, Palmeiro, and Rose played in all or almost all of their teams games those years and it would've given them streaks longer than Abreu's.
   56. Ray (RDP) Posted: June 02, 2014 at 04:43 PM (#4717618)
For the strikes at least, I don't think it's about giving the players credit so much as acknowledging that they may have played in a high percentage of games that they were able to play. A guy who played in 115 games in 1994 wasn't injured; he played in all of his team's games. IOW, it's not that we're going to give him an extra 15 HRs when comparing him to players in other eras, but rather that we're not going to penalize him for being injured.


I give Bagwell no credit for games missed during the 1994 strike, since his season was already over due to a broken hand.
   57. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: June 02, 2014 at 04:50 PM (#4717625)
I give Bagwell no credit for games missed during the 1994 strike, since his season was already over due to a broken hand.


Yeah, the one guy who's HOF candidacy was helped by the strike.
   58. Ziggy Posted: June 02, 2014 at 04:56 PM (#4717632)
Thanks for the answers.

The point about 150 game seasons makes perfect sense. Of course you can't penalize Walker for not playing in 150 games in 1994.

The point about peak vs. career is also well-taken. I care more about the latter, but this might just be a matter of preference. (Well, that's disingenuous, I actually think that peak evaluation is a proxy for the value of concentrating production in a small number of roster spots, but we can talk about that some other time.)

We do need to be careful about "missed time due to no fault of their own". Two points here. First, I don't see what 'fault' has to do with it. Why would that matter for evaluating baseball players? (And this question has a point whether we are talking about value OR ability. If a player missed time due to choice that doesn't reduce his ability any.) Second, Sammy Sosa gets no sneezing-credit for that time that he pulled a muscle sneezing. It's not his fault, but it does effect how we evaluate him. But maybe you'll think that this is not similar, you might try to argue that this effects his "greatness" - while on the DL he can't hit, and so he can't be a great hitter either. (Although I have my doubts about this line of argument. Abilities aren't lost when you fail to exercise them. Even when he missed a curve ball, Ruth's home-run hitting ability was not impaired.)
   59. cardsfanboy Posted: June 02, 2014 at 05:05 PM (#4717640)

I give Bagwell no credit for games missed during the 1994 strike, since his season was already over due to a broken hand.


Bagwell is a weird one in this discussion for the reasons you mention, his season was over when the strike happened.

Agreed. I wouldn't give strike credit when you're gauging the value of a players entire career, but I think it's relevant sometimes in response to a specific question - like the post about 150 game seasons. Obviously a guy can't play 150 games in a season that wasn't even 150 games long, so it's worth noting that Ripken, Palmeiro, and Rose played in all or almost all of their teams games those years and it would've given them streaks longer than Abreu's.



I do, I'll prorate strike data, war data and in Raines's case, collusion data into their career numbers. I don't see a problem with that. Those are games missed that aren't health related, aren't caused by the individual actions (Dick Allen walking out on the team doesn't get this type of consideration) etc. I'm even somewhat convinced to include time in the minors or established foreign leagues for guys like Boggs, Edgar ,Ryan Howard or Ichiro etc.

   60. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: June 02, 2014 at 05:10 PM (#4717644)
We do need to be careful about "missed time due to no fault of their own". Two points here. First, I don't see what 'fault' has to do with it. Why would that matter for evaluating baseball players?


Well, because health is a skill. Thus, avoiding injury is a skill. More or less. It's more of a skill than not being born black in 1915, or not being in your prime as a ballplayer in 1943. the problem with not assigning fault, or assigning degrees of fault with injuries, is hat there are a lot of unknowables. Take Don Mattingly. Maybe his back problems weren't his "fault". but they were very possibly a consequence of his greatness (such as it was). Maybe his batting style, which was so effective for a few years, led to his early demise. Maybe he could have had a longer career as a lesser player if he didn't swing so hard. Thus, assigning any sort of "what if" credit to mattingly is fraught with danger. OTTH, there's nothing Jackie Robinson could have done to be in the Major Leagues in 1941, or Hank Greenberg in 1944, and the reasons they were not has nothing whatsoever to do with any sort of baseball skill. That's why injuries, all injuries, even extreme ones like death, are treated differently. Don mattingly could have avoided back problems. Lyman Bostock could have avoided driving into Gary, IN. Jackie Robinson could not have avoided being black in 1941, and Hank Greenberg could not have prevented the US from entering WWII.
   61. Booey Posted: June 02, 2014 at 05:44 PM (#4717666)
I give Bagwell no credit for games missed during the 1994 strike, since his season was already over due to a broken hand.


Only problem with this is that if you give everyone else strike credit but not him, you'll end up with a few others having more valuable seasons than he did, and that doesn't seem fair either. He was clearly the best player in the NL that year, and he deserves to be credited as such.
   62. Ziggy Posted: June 02, 2014 at 05:54 PM (#4717672)
I think you missed the point of the question. Let's say that player A cuts off his own hand, and that player B gets his hand squashed by a single freak hail stone that tears through the roof of his house. Player A's disability is his own fault, player B's isn't. Yet neither one (barring Jim Abbot like skills) is contributing any value to his team, and neither one has any baseball-playing ability any longer. If what we want to evaluate is value produced (or, alternatively, ability) it doesn't look like whether a player missed time due to his own fault or to circumstances beyond his control should make any difference. Player A and player B are both at 0 value, and 0 ability, from here on out.

I'm not saying that player B should get not-his-fault credit. Rather, I'm inclined to think that players should be penalized* for things that are beyond their control, simply because it doesn't matter - to value or to ability - whether the thing that caused them to miss time was something that they could control or not. Maybe it's not fair, but if all we are doing is measuring something (value produced for the team, or playing ability), then fairness is not relevant. How many units of value (or how many units of ability) you have certainly can be influenced by circumstances beyond your control.

* Provided that the "thing" in question really does reduce value or ability. As noted up thread, Ted Williams' ability was not substantially altered by joining the marines.
   63. cardsfanboy Posted: June 02, 2014 at 06:05 PM (#4717679)
I think you missed the point of the question. Let's say that player A cuts off his own hand, and that player B gets his hand squashed by a single freak hail stone that tears through the roof of his house. Player A's disability is his own fault, player B's isn't.


Both are injuries, players health is a skill, whether one does it intentionally or not it doesn't matter. Health is a skill. Whether it's accidental or self inflicted, it's still a skill. When discussing how good a player is, you are discussing how good they are when given a chance to play. An injury prone player, is showing his ability to stay in the lineup is not that good. A healthy player is showing you that his ability to stay in the lineup is good.

Injuries belong in a different category than missed time because of 1. race 2. war 3. strike/lockout. 4. other situations of similar concepts. These are players healthy enough to perform but aren't being given the chance.

Only problem with this is that if you give everyone else strike credit but not him, you'll end up with a few others having more valuable seasons than he did, and that doesn't seem fair either. He was clearly the best player in the NL that year, and he deserves to be credited as such.


Don't see a problem with it. He was the best rate player in baseball, but if the season would have gone on for the rest of the year, he wouldn't have played one more game. His season was over. Other players wouldn't have surpassed him on a rate basis, but a cumulative value basis, they could have caught up to him. (As far as MVP is concerned it's up to the individual voters to decide how they want to value those type of seasons etc.)
   64. Ziggy Posted: June 02, 2014 at 06:31 PM (#4717694)
Injuries are different in that they effect ability whereas the others you mentioned do not. (Note that they all effect value. If you want to evaluate players in terms of the value that they produced for MLB teams, you should penalize players for missing time due to race, war, etc. This is a point made in 48.)

The point of 62 was to argue that whether or not something was the player's fault shouldn't make any difference to how we evaluate him. Player A and player B both lost their ability, and if ability is what you want to measure, it shouldn't make a difference that A did it intentionally and that B didn't.

Also notice (though this is really orthogonal to the main point) that B's injury isn't a "this guy is injury prone" injury, it's an act-of-God style injury. There's no skill in avoiding those.
   65. cardsfanboy Posted: June 02, 2014 at 06:55 PM (#4717705)
The point of 62 was to argue that whether or not something was the player's fault shouldn't make any difference to how we evaluate him. Player A and player B both lost their ability, and if ability is what you want to measure, it shouldn't make a difference that A did it intentionally and that B didn't.

Also notice (though this is really orthogonal to the main point) that B's injury isn't a "this guy is injury prone" injury, it's an act-of-God style injury. There's no skill in avoiding those.


The ultimate difference boils down "Was the guy physically capable of playing and there was no opportunity available, when normally there would be an opportunity available."

As to the act of God style injury...not sure I agree. Real world examples include the Sammy Sosa sneeze, he injured himself because of the sneeze, but it's indicative of his general physical condition. The Jeff Kent hurting himself playing basketball(or whatever) is indicative of risky behavior, the JD Drew stabbing himself in the head with a nail in a dugout is indicative of lack of situational awareness, all of those factors are going to exist day to day, and if this particular event didn't happen, then something else would have, in which that particular players fraility will be exposed.

But injuries are part of the game, whether they happen on the field or not. If you can't physically perform, for whatever reason, you should be evaluated based upon that limitation. Treating injuries different from other reasons a player don't play, is perfectly reasonable.
   66. alilisd Posted: June 02, 2014 at 06:57 PM (#4717706)
Injuries are different in that they effect ability whereas the others you mentioned do not.


Not necessarily. An injury may keep a player out of the lineup for a time, but the player may come back with no reduction in ability/performance. Over time injuries may accumulate which reduce ability, but not every injury does.
   67. Booey Posted: June 02, 2014 at 07:01 PM (#4717708)
As far as MVP is concerned it's up to the individual voters to decide how they want to value those type of seasons etc


I disagree. MVP voting should be done based on what actually happened. I think it would've been ridiculous if voters had given the 1994 NL MVP to Bonds or Matt Williams or someone else based on what might've happened had the season continued. Bagwell played the full season that was there to play. As far as MVP voting is concerned, him breaking his hand on the last game of the season should've been no more relevant than if an MVP candidate suffered a season ending injury in game 162 in any other year.
   68. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: June 02, 2014 at 07:01 PM (#4717709)
Injuries belong in a different category than missed time because of 1. race 2. war 3. strike/lockout. 4. other situations of similar concepts. These are players healthy enough to perform but aren't being given the chance.

Right. Adjusting for missed time is an effort to answer the question, what did this player do with the opportunities that were available to them? When we evaluate players across eras and leagues we attempt to adjuste for the context in which they played. Players who lost time due to strike, war, or race did not have the opportunity to amass the career value that other players did. This is something that affected all players of the era equally (well, except for race) and had nothing to do with the skill of the individual player, however you want to define skill.
   69. cardsfanboy Posted: June 02, 2014 at 07:23 PM (#4717722)
disagree. MVP voting should be done based on what actually happened. I think it would've been ridiculous if voters had given the 1994 NL MVP to Bonds or Matt Williams or someone else based on what might've happened had the season continued. Bagwell played the full season that was there to play. As far as MVP voting is concerned, him breaking his hand on the last game of the season should've been no more relevant than if an MVP candidate suffered a season ending injury in game 162 in any other year.


I worded that wrong to an extent as I was running two concepts in my head. If the season would have progressed normally, then Bagwell would have had about 30 games fewer than the other guys and then it would have been up to the voters to decide how to evaluate the rate vs cumulative. (that is what I was thinking when I made that comment.)

I agree, that you can't retroactively vote for MVP based upon theoretical performance. Sorry, didn't mean that by my comment. Having said that, you can still give the other guys theoretical "war/win shares or stat of choice" for the time they missed when evaluating their career and comparing them to others, and if you do this for the other guys, it's also perfectly reasonable to point out that Bagwell's season was over and he doesn't get the theoretical boost.

Not necessarily. An injury may keep a player out of the lineup for a time, but the player may come back with no reduction in ability/performance. Over time injuries may accumulate which reduce ability, but not every injury does.


They still affect the ability to play while injured. Not remotely talking about cumulative injury aging the player. If you have an injury keeping you out of the game, then that is affecting your ability to play.

   70. Ziggy Posted: June 02, 2014 at 07:48 PM (#4717730)
Well, let's be careful. Missing a curve ball doesn't make you unable to hit curve balls - even as you are missing it you keep your skill. (Call it a 'performance error'.)
   71. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: June 02, 2014 at 08:16 PM (#4717743)
I think you missed the point of the question.


No I didn't. you missed the point of the response.
   72. Booey Posted: June 02, 2014 at 08:20 PM (#4717747)
CFB - Gotcha. Thanks for the clarification.
   73. Srul Itza Posted: June 02, 2014 at 09:35 PM (#4717782)
I worded that wrong to an extent as I was running two concepts in my head. If the season would have progressed normally, then Bagwell would have had about 30 games fewer than the other guys and then it would have been up to the voters to decide how to evaluate the rate vs cumulative. (that is what I was thinking when I made that comment.)



That's how I understood it, too. There have been years when a hitter was so good, that even when he had only a partial season, he still got the MVP nod. The obvious example is George Brett in 1980 -- a .390/.454/.664/1.118 line, good for 203 OPS+ - all league leading figures -- earning him an MVP, even though he only played 117 games (while still managing 118 RBI). Mantle's 1962 MVP season was 123 games. In Barry Bonds last 3 MVP seasons he played 143, 130 and 147 games.

   74. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: June 02, 2014 at 09:50 PM (#4717794)
Rickey! in 1990, 136 games.

Still, in 1994 Bagwell played only 110 games. he had fewer than 500 PA, thus wouldn't qualify for a full season batting title. It would have been unlikely for him to have won a full season MVP. Matt Williams might have gotten to 62 HR. Tony Gwynn might have hit .400. Barry Bonds was having a spectacular year.
   75. Booey Posted: June 02, 2014 at 11:00 PM (#4717842)
Josh Hamilton in 2010, 133 games

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