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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Juliano: Hideki Matsui a Hall of Famer?

Brazzers has a Hall of Fame? Who knew?!

Hideki Matsui will best be remembered for his seven years in pinstripes, but his last three seasons bouncing around the American League could turn out to be among the most important of his career. By prolonging his time in uniform, Matsui, who is reportedly set to announce his retirement, reached the milestone of 10 seasons in the major leagues. As a result, the former Japanese slugger will be eligible for Hall of Fame consideration in five years, assuming he makes good on his intention to walk away from the game. However, we don’t have to wait that long to consider his candidacy.

Is Hideki Matsui a Hall of Famer? Although the left handed outfielder/DH ranks surprisingly high on the Yankees all-time list as a hitter (21st in OPS+ and 22nd in wOBA among those with at least 3,000 plate appearances), his overall numbers still pale in comparison to the Hall of Fame standard. Even including his postseason heroics and prominence on several great Yankee teams, Matsui still seems to fall short in terms of overall contribution while playing in the majors. But, what about the 10 seasons he spent in Japan?

Before joining the Yankees, Matsui belted 332 homers and drove in 889 runs while playing for the Yomiuri Giants. When combined with his output in the major leagues, Matsui’s 507 homers and 1,649 RBIs take on historic proportions.

Repoz Posted: December 27, 2012 at 08:17 PM | 164 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: December 27, 2012 at 08:31 PM (#4333337)
No, next question.
   2. Srul Itza Posted: December 27, 2012 at 08:35 PM (#4333342)
Yes.

You do mean the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame, right?
   3. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: December 27, 2012 at 08:36 PM (#4333343)
I'd like to see an exhibit of his legendary stash of porn, but as an inductee... no.
   4. bobm Posted: December 27, 2012 at 08:54 PM (#4333350)
http://deadspin.com/5971584/hideki-matsui-to-announce-retirement-will-have-plenty-of-time-to-enjoy-his-massive-porn-collection

He's going to be remembered for owning a massive porn collection.

Word of Matsui's affinity for porn first surfaced in a 2003 Time magazine profile:

And, of course, he likes to watch his much vaunted porno collection, tapes that he often trades with Japanese reporters. As one Japanese journalist put it, describing Matsui's affinity for such unique Japanese cultural institutions like the no-panties shabu-shabu in Japan, "Matsui is a horny guy. All of us are horny, more or less. But Matsui doesn't attempt to hide the fact." Yet another win for the Japanese Everyman.

This information went largely unremarked upon for years, until "much vaunted" became more concrete in 2012 when GQ cited Matsui's porn collection as 55,000 videos strong:

The owner of 55,000 adult vids, Matsui ran out of gifts for writers at his first American press event. "Sorry," he said, "I'll get porn for the rest of you."
   5. Hello Rusty Kuntz, Goodbye Rusty Cars Posted: December 27, 2012 at 08:59 PM (#4333351)
the left handed outfielder/DH ranks surprisingly high on the Yankees all-time list as a hitter (21st in OPS+


Nick Swisher is only at 2501 Yankee PA, but he's one OPS+ point ahead of Matsui.
   6. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 27, 2012 at 09:01 PM (#4333352)
If Ichiro, then Matsui.
   7. The District Attorney Posted: December 27, 2012 at 09:07 PM (#4333354)
Wonder if he's following this.
   8. Poulanc Posted: December 27, 2012 at 09:17 PM (#4333360)
If Ichiro, then Matsui.


Do you seriously equate the two?
   9.     Hey Gurl Posted: December 27, 2012 at 09:37 PM (#4333362)
Do you seriously equate the two?


I agree with Ray.

Either NPB counts or it doesn't. This picky choosey horseshit is beyond irritating.
   10. DCA Posted: December 27, 2012 at 09:53 PM (#4333367)
Either NPB counts or it doesn't. This picky choosey horseshit is beyond irritating.

Or, you know, it counts but Ichiro is quite a bit better.

Ichiro: 1014 RC NPB, 1387 MLB
Matsui: 1173 RC NPB, 801 MLB

(from Baseball Cube)

   11. Bruce Markusen Posted: December 27, 2012 at 09:55 PM (#4333369)
Japanese League baseball is not supposed to be considered in determining worth for the Hall of Fame. Only major league play and Negro Leagues/winter ball play for black players affected by the color line is to be considered.
   12. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 27, 2012 at 09:57 PM (#4333371)
Not sure what it matters that Matsui wasn't as good here as Ichiro was here, as long as we're just meshing all the stats together.

   13. PreservedFish Posted: December 27, 2012 at 10:05 PM (#4333378)
Very few people here have advocated just meshing the stats together. Claiming so is flippant and dishonest of Ray. What many do believe is that the Japanese stats may be reasonably considered as something like extra credit for a player that did enough in America alone to warrant HOF consideration.
   14. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 27, 2012 at 10:19 PM (#4333383)
Very few people here have advocated just meshing the stats together. Claiming so is flippant and dishonest of Ray. What many do believe is that the Japanese stats may be reasonably considered as something like extra credit for a player that did enough in America alone to warrant HOF consideration.


And that's exactly my point. People are choosing how to do this specifically to capture Ichiro and nobody else. So Ichiro's Japan performance is "extra credit," while Matsui's superior Japan performance - or Sadaharu Oh's - is not worthy enough.

Either there is a distinction between MLB and Japan or there is not. If there no distinction, Matsui's and Oh's performances should be given full credit. If there is a distinction, then Ichiro's Japan performance should be as meaningless as Matsui's and Oh's are.

Either NPB performance counts or it doesn't.
   15. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 27, 2012 at 10:21 PM (#4333384)
Not sure what it matters that Matsui wasn't as good here as Ichiro was here, as long as we're just meshing all the stats together.


I think the point was that if we're meshing all the stats together, what matters is 427 more RC.
   16.     Hey Gurl Posted: December 27, 2012 at 10:27 PM (#4333387)
Very few people here have advocated just meshing the stats together. Claiming so is flippant and dishonest of Ray. What many do believe is that the Japanese stats may be reasonably considered as something like extra credit for a player that did enough in America alone to warrant HOF consideration.


And I strongly disagree with that.

MORE IMPORTANTLY THOUGH.

Should Hideki Matsui's NA performance count towards his Japanese Hall of Fame case? :O)
   17. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: December 27, 2012 at 10:27 PM (#4333389)
OK. If you were a GM and they were both available as rookies, who do you take for their entire career?

I think it's pretty obvious.
   18. Bruce Markusen Posted: December 27, 2012 at 10:28 PM (#4333390)
There is a distinction between MLB and Japan, according to the Hall of Fame election rules. Sadaharu Oh has never been a candidate, never even been considered for Hall of Fame election.
   19. The District Attorney Posted: December 27, 2012 at 10:29 PM (#4333391)
What many do believe is that the Japanese stats may be reasonably considered as something like extra credit for a player that did enough in America alone to warrant HOF consideration.
Mmm, disagree. As Bruce, who should know, points out, there is nothing in the explicit rules supporting that interpretation. And my personal feeling is that baseball fame is baseball fame -- I do think the Sadaharu Ohs of the world should be in. I think that drawing a line between "MLB, plus its predecessors, plus I guess we have to include the Negro Leagues" and "other leagues" doesn't hold up. I think that becomes more and more apparent as time goes on.

I definitely feel that it's a very intellectually dissatisfying kludge to say that Matsui's Japanese career became relevant because he hit .147 in 34 games last year, but it'd be totally irrelevant if he hadn't done that. I don't really see how anyone would be happy with that.

If I were given a ballot, I'm honestly not sure whether I would "jury nullify" and vote for a Matsui (or El Duque or others in a similar situation) even though the current rules don't seem to justify it, or whether I would suck it up and play by the rules. Of course, if the ballot five years from now is comparable to the current ballot, it won't be an issue because Matsui won't be one of the 10 best guys on it either way.
   20. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 27, 2012 at 10:33 PM (#4333392)
The entire thrust of the HOF voting guidelines is that they are directed to MLB play only, and that is exactly how they were interpreted for decades until the object of everyone's obsession came along.
   21. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 27, 2012 at 10:35 PM (#4333395)
I suppose you could try to make a case for giving Ichiro extra credit for some sort of pioneer status, but I don't think it holds much water. First Japanese position player who was a star in MLB would be a bigger whoop IMO if he had actually heralded an influx of similar players who had similar success.
   22. LargeBill Posted: December 27, 2012 at 10:54 PM (#4333403)
Either NPB performance counts or it doesn't.


It doesn't. When Matsui and Ichiro are considered for the HoF their MLB career should be on what that consideration is based. Ichiro did a lot more in his MLB career and has the highlights that will get voter attention. Obviously, the late starts affect the totals in the counting stats. Matsui was 29 and while he was very good at times his peak was far from enough to make it in on peak alone. Ichiro was "only" 27 as a rookie and as a lead off guy that played nearly every day he's accomplished enough that he has a reasonable case on MLB merits alone. He has twice as many hits as Matsui so their situations aren't even slightly comparable. Ichiro is an easy HoF'r and his NPB stats will just be a footnote. Matsui gets zero Hall of Fame consideration without using his overseas stats.

Heck is anyone arguing that Julio Franco should get extra consideration because of the years he played in Korea and Mexico (or wherever he was)?
   23. PreservedFish Posted: December 27, 2012 at 10:58 PM (#4333406)
And that's exactly my point. People are choosing how to do this specifically to capture Ichiro and nobody else.


If another player fell into the same category as Ichiro, I would deal with him the same way.

But I hereby acknowledge that my "extra credit" argument does go directly against the voting guidelines.
   24. Barnaby Jones Posted: December 27, 2012 at 11:03 PM (#4333408)
Very few people here have advocated just meshing the stats together. Claiming so is flippant and dishonest of Ray. What many do believe is that the Japanese stats may be reasonably considered as something like extra credit for a player that did enough in America alone to warrant HOF consideration.


I've read enough of these threads to know that you are underselling how often giving Ichiro a lot of credit for his Japanese stats has been suggested. It may seem to you like something "most people" wouldn't think, but that just means you agree with Ray, not that no one has argued the point. A few people have gone so far as to suggest that ALL Japanese stats should count and the the HOF should be a Worldwide institution.

Besides, Matsui clearly merits "consideration." Royce Clayton got "consideration." He'll be on the ballot. He was a 20 WAR player in the US during the post-prime downside of his career. He was an elite player in Japan for the 9 years before that, spanning much if not all of his prime. If he was a 25-40 WAR player during that time (not all that outlandish; he was a 4 win player with the Yankees while declining), he'd be a perfectly cromulent candidate. Especially if you give him pioneer credit or whatever.

I think Ray is right; a number of people like to talk as if the Japanese league has stats that matter only in terms of Ichiro. Whenever that gets taken to the logical next step, all people ever seem to say is "Come on, that's different."
   25. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: December 27, 2012 at 11:03 PM (#4333409)
I don't see Ichiro's Japan stats as extra credit. I see them as confirmation. Ichiro's MLB career is borderline HOF worthy. But wait, he got started very late. I wonder if he would likely have done just as well were it not for factors outside of his control? We can answer a confident "Probably" by looking at the fact that he was doing pretty much that well in another league.

I'm not counting his Japanese stats at all. I'm just confirming that despite the short career he had, he didn't just get lucky.
   26. LargeBill Posted: December 27, 2012 at 11:32 PM (#4333419)
Fly, Ichiro doesn't need the extra credit, confirmation or whatever else you want to call it. He has 43 points of Black Ink average HoF is 27. He has 200 or more (way more usually) hits in 10 seasons. He hit .350 or better four times. He is in a respectable place on several all time leader lists among Hall of Famers which will only improve with another year or two left in him. The current ballot problem should be sorted out before he hits the ballot and he'll go in on first ballot based on what he did here.
   27. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: December 27, 2012 at 11:32 PM (#4333421)
If I had a vote, I'd take a pretty close look at Matsui, although I suspect he wouldn't make my cut. His game was much more power-dependent than Ichiro's, and his MLB performance (along with MLE evidence) suggests that his numbers would look significantly worse if he'd played in the US his whole career. That said, I still expect he was a hell of a player. Maybe a Will Clark type?

Which is to say that my view on Japanese credit isn't exclusive to Ichiro. Basically, I'd be happy to include anyone in the Hall of Fame, wherever he (or she?) played, if the best evidence shows that he was the equal of MLB's best. I don't care who it is, and I don't care how long he played in the US. Sadaharu Oh would probably get my vote, and so would two or three other NPB players. Isao Harimoto, Masaichi Kaneda, maybe Victor Starffin, and so on.

Same holds for some hypothetical Cuban star. If some guy defected at age 40 for one average season in MLB, and his Cuban stats suggested he was capable of putting up a .300/.400/.500 line in the US for the prior 18 or 20 years, I'd probably vote for him. Heck, he wouldn't need any MLB seasons if his MLEs were solid enough.
   28. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 27, 2012 at 11:43 PM (#4333424)
I've read enough of these threads to know that you are underselling how often giving Ichiro a lot of credit for his Japanese stats has been suggested.


Yeah, it's kind of frustrating. People argue X, Y, and Z all day long and then when I take issue with X, Y, and Z I get "very few people here have advocated that."

Whatever. If people aren't going to be honest about what the arguments often put forth are, there's really no point to having the discussion.
   29. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: December 28, 2012 at 12:24 AM (#4333431)
There is a distinction between MLB and Japan, according to the Hall of Fame election rules. Sadaharu Oh has never been a candidate, never even been considered for Hall of Fame election.

Let's change that!
   30. PreservedFish Posted: December 28, 2012 at 12:29 AM (#4333436)
Well, maybe I was wrong about what other people thought. Obviously there are some worldwide stats mashers.
   31. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: December 28, 2012 at 12:36 AM (#4333440)
Whatever, Diogenes.

EDIT: Referring to Ray, of course.
   32. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 28, 2012 at 12:56 AM (#4333446)
If Ichiro, then Matsui.

If Palmeiro, then Staub.
   33. AROM Posted: December 28, 2012 at 01:41 AM (#4333454)
Ichiro is better than Matsui. They are the same age (seasonal age at least), making comparison easy.

Matsui from age 29-38 had 18.6 WAR. Ichiro in the same time had 43.4. This is despite Matsui being a better hitter, 118-113 OPS+. If I were to make any subjective adjustment to the defensive numbers on BBref, I would not change Ichiro, his +97 rating is not excessive for a guy who looked great in the field, has the highest speed score of any player to ever have a substantial career in right field, and won 10 gold gloves in his first 10 seasons. If anything, I'd adjust Matsui lower, his rating of -29 (-5 per full season) does not reflect a player who looked like one of the most brutal outfielders I've ever seen.

I don't see any reason to think the same pattern (Matsui better at hitting, Ichiro better overall) was any different in Japan. Ichiro was HOF quality, Matsui was HOVG quality. That's why I'd vote for Ichiro and not Matsui.
   34. LargeBill Posted: December 28, 2012 at 02:01 AM (#4333461)
32. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 28, 2012 at 12:56 AM (#4333446)
If Ichiro, then Matsui.

If Palmeiro, then Staub.


Um, I'll take two from column A and none from column B.
   35. AROM Posted: December 28, 2012 at 02:09 AM (#4333462)
If he was a 25-40 WAR player during that time (not all that outlandish; he was a 4 win player with the Yankees while declining), he'd be a perfectly cromulent candidate.


That would make Matsui a 45-60 WAR player. There are 16 outfielders born after 1930 with 45-60 WAR who have been retired long enough for a HOF vote. Four of them are in, so while a longshot, Matsui would have a chance. The ones in are Billy Williams, Dave Winfield, Willie Stargell, and Kirby Puckett. Williams and Winfield are at the upper end of that range, 59 WAR. Willie Stargell might be the best comp for an optimistic upside. If Matsui's power during his peak years translated especially well, and his 50 homer years in Japan had turned into 40 homers seasons here, then maybe his career would look like Stargell's. I doubt it though, the record shows that players coming from Japan lose half their homers, so Matsui's peak years would look similar to the 25-30 homer years he had for the Yankees. And a full US Matsui career would probably look something like Chili Davis. Good, but not going to sniff the hall.

Ichiro, on the other hand, has 53 WAR in the US. Give him similar credit for Japan and he's at least 70 WAR, maybe past 80. The only comps that look reasonable are Kenny Lofton and Tony Gwynn. He's Lofton plus an earlier start, or Gwynn with more durability and less fat. Though if those guys are your comps, I have to consider that Ichiro born in the US might not even play baseball, he might have been a point guard instead.
   36. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 28, 2012 at 03:46 AM (#4333480)
I don't see any reason to think the same pattern (Matsui better at hitting, Ichiro better overall) was any different in Japan. Ichiro was HOF quality, Matsui was HOVG quality. That's why I'd vote for Ichiro and not Matsui.


The problem is that Ichiro's raw skill set in Japan transferred better to the majors than Matsui's did. So Matsui could well have been much better in Japan - certainly his raw stats show more power.
   37. bookbook Posted: December 28, 2012 at 03:56 AM (#4333481)
I had a college roommate who was 5'6", 110 lbs with rocks in his pockets. Not a bad playground point guard, but there comes a level where the size disadvantage is just too large a hill to climb...
   38. Matt Welch Posted: December 28, 2012 at 05:36 AM (#4333488)
Matsui's 29-38 are indistinguishable from Raul Ibanez's.
   39. Barnaby Jones Posted: December 28, 2012 at 05:49 AM (#4333490)
Matsui from age 29-38 had 18.6 WAR. Ichiro in the same time had 43.4. [...] I don't see any reason to think the same pattern (Matsui better at hitting, Ichiro better overall) was any different in Japan.


Comparing their decline phases and then saying "It was probably the same in their primes" seems wrong-headed to me. Ichiro has aged very gracefully, playing at least 146 (and usually 162) games every year. Matsui, in large part due to injuries, hasn't reached that games mark since 2005. I think it is pretty clear that Matsui has had a steeper decline phase. He was a gold glove OF in Japan and played a cromulent 40+ games in CF his first year in the States. Ichiro was basically the same guy in his 30s that he was in his 20s, just a little bit worse. Matsui was a more changed player.
   40. Barnaby Jones Posted: December 28, 2012 at 06:06 AM (#4333491)
so Matsui's peak years would look similar to the 25-30 homer years he had for the Yankees.


Except in his mid-20s he'd be playing 162 games with improved, possibly even good defense rather than being a not-quite full-time COF/DH liability. Also, I'd expect his power numbers to be higher, what with it being the late-90s.

I don't think he's as good as Ichiro, but that's not the point. If you play the "Japan years count" game, Ichiro rates as an extremely obvious hall of famer. The same game makes Matsui a reasonable candidate.
   41. Barnaby Jones Posted: December 28, 2012 at 06:26 AM (#4333492)
Matsui's 29-38 are indistinguishable from Raul Ibanez's.


Raul Ibanez was a pretty good player in his his 30s. If that was the decline phase of a durable star, it would look great; give Dale Murphy Raul Ibanez's 30s, and he's in the HOF right now. Ibanez's problem is that he had -0.1 WAR before turning 30s. In contrast, Matsui was a good full-time player at 20, and a one of the best players in NPB at 22.
   42. vivaelpujols Posted: December 28, 2012 at 07:11 AM (#4333494)
I think Ray is right; a number of people like to talk as if the Japanese league has stats that matter only in terms of Ichiro. Whenever that gets taken to the logical next step, all people ever seem to say is "Come on, that's different."


This is dumb. We can reasonably come up with a framework where a person gets partial credit for his Japan playing days. If you give Matsui half credit for his Japan numbers then he makes it to 40 WAR and is still not a HOFer. Ichiro's at 55 WAR in the US already. If you give him half credit for his Japan numbers he moves to 70 WAR and is definitely a HOFer when you considered his peak.
   43. Barnaby Jones Posted: December 28, 2012 at 07:27 AM (#4333499)
So... again, you want to incorporate Japanese stats, but only in a way that makes them meaningful for Ichiro alone. Point proven? I'm not sure I see the rationale.
   44. vivaelpujols Posted: December 28, 2012 at 07:43 AM (#4333504)
I'm not sure how to respond to that. I think giving partial credit to Japanese stats is fairer than the alternatives (no credit or full credit), does anyone really disagree with that? Pick a number between 0% and 100% and conduct your analysis. I have no pro-Ichiro agenda here.
   45. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 28, 2012 at 07:59 AM (#4333506)
Matsui is an interesting case. I don't think he's quite as good as Ichiro with the bat, and then you factor in defense and baserunning and it's Ichiro pretty easily. I'd love to see a HOM thread on Matsui and see the fine analysts that do they're thing over there go to work on him. My first impression is that he's like Dale Murphy for me--wouldn't mind if he gets in, don't mind if he doesn't. For me, baseball is baseball. I don't think the baseball hall of fame would be degraded by the inclusion of Sadahara Oh, etc. How many non American-based players would even be up for consideration, realistically? 3 or 4 from Japan, maybe a couple from Cuba? Whatever dilution you may fear that would cause would more than be offset by increasing our scope of the game.
   46. vivaelpujols Posted: December 28, 2012 at 08:06 AM (#4333507)
Comparing their decline phases and then saying "It was probably the same in their primes" seems wrong-headed to me.


I agree. Fortunately we have NPB stats for both players. According to ESPN, Ichiro hit .353/.421/.522 in 951 games with 199 SB and 33 CS. Matsui hit .304/.413/.582 in 1268 games with 46 SB and 34 CS stealing. Using the cheapo wOBA*, I get .420 for Ichiro and .435 for Matsui. I suspect the SB difference makes that a wash.

So on a rate basis the two were about equal offensively (although I don't know the park factors, which may or may not make a big difference). We know Matsui played 300 more games and we can say with pretty high confidence that Ichiro was a far better defender, so without doing a calculation I'm guessing they had roughly the same total value in Japan.

Does anybody know the league averages for the NPB in the 90's? Shouldn't be too hard to do a crude WAR calculation.

*(1.75*OBP+SLG)/3
   47. williamnyy23 Posted: December 28, 2012 at 08:30 AM (#4333513)
Thanks for the link, but I wanted to add two further points to the discussion.

1) The first is that, contrary to Bruce's claim above, there is no prohibition against considering a player's Japanese stats. Here is what Jeff Idelson said three years ago (source: http://seattletimes.com/html/larrystone/2009771249_stone30.html). Although the HoF does not encourage voters to consider performance in other leagues, it is left up to their discretion. Also, the Oh example is a red herring because he did not play 10 years in the majors.

"Our rules are pretty straightforward," Idelson said. "We ask voters to look at their major-league career, plus character, integrity, sportsmanship. Beyond that, it's up to each voter to decide."

Idelson noted that the stats package sent out to voters each year to help evaluate candidates includes only major-league stats. "But as a normal human, how can you overlook the dominance he had in the Pacific League for a decade?" he added.

2) Instead of meshing the stats together, or trying to come up with a conversion factor, I think it make more sense to ask if Matsui and Ichiro would have been successful in the majors as younger players based on what we know of them as veterans. Clearly, there's still a lot of conjecture there, but why wouldn't they have excelled during their primes when they had success later on in their careers, especially considering the transition involved?

As several have mentioned, Ichiro goes from a strong borderline candidate to a lock based on his past career, but Matsui is more of a test case. If NPL stats are considered, he has a good chance. Personally, I think his combined career warrants inclusion in the Hall of Fame.
   48. Matt Welch Posted: December 28, 2012 at 08:34 AM (#4333514)
If that was the decline phase of a durable star, it would look great; give Dale Murphy Raul Ibanez's 30s, and he's in the HOF right now.

Matsui had 159 HRs, 16.7 WAR, and an OPS+ of 119 in his 30s. Murphy was 161, 13.5, and 111. I'm not convinced that would do the trick.

Matsui's 30s (.281/.361/.466) look a whole lot like Jim Rice's (.289/.347/.467, OPS+ of 118). Rice is arguably one of the poorer HoF selections, and made it largely on his 20s peak.

Other decent 30s-comps for Matsui include Ben Oglive, George Foster, Dusty Baker, Brady Anderson, Reggie Sanders, guys like that.
   49. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 28, 2012 at 08:39 AM (#4333516)
I'm entirely open to Hideki Matsui's Hall of Fame case. If someone wants to actually make that case, rather than complaining about the obvious hypocrisy of unnamed persons who won't vote for Matsui, I'd be interested to hear it.** My first take on the numbers is that Matsui looks like a somewhat worse version of Lance Berkman. A hell of a hitter, not much of a fielder or runner, and a very solid HoVG player overall.

**To be clear, this passive-aggressive snark is aimed at Ray, not at William.
   50. vivaelpujols Posted: December 28, 2012 at 08:44 AM (#4333518)
Also, isn't it generally accepted that NPB is somewhere around AAA in terms of talent level? Shouldn't all the stats from NPB be MLE'd?
   51. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 28, 2012 at 09:02 AM (#4333522)
Also, isn't it generally accepted that NPB is somewhere around AAA in terms of talent level? Shouldn't all the stats from NPB be MLE'd?
Broadly speaking, yup. This does raise the problem of the uncertainty involved in MLE translations. For a player like Ichiro, who needs very little NPB credit to be a plausible HoFer, the translations aren't much of an issue because no matter how you translate the numbers, clearly he was worth 10-20 translated wins over his seven superstar seasons. For Matsui, whose case would be mostly NPB credit, you need to be very confident in the quality of your translations.
   52. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: December 28, 2012 at 09:18 AM (#4333532)
Hey, another Ichiro! for the Hall thread!
   53. Bitter Mouse Posted: December 28, 2012 at 09:50 AM (#4333545)
Hey, another Ichiro! for the Hall thread!


And Ray being Ray. Weird huh?
   54. AROM Posted: December 28, 2012 at 09:55 AM (#4333549)
"So... again, you want to incorporate Japanese stats, but only in a way that makes them meaningful for Ichiro alone. Point proven? I'm not sure I see the rationale."

Total BS.

Ichiro was better than Matsui in the US. The WAR gap is 53-18, and 43-18 if you restrict the comparison to 2003-12, when both were in the US. If you make the case that Matsui was better in Japan than the US, while Ichiro was the same, that's not good enough. Matsui has to be much, much better in Japan than Ichiro to pull even overall as a HOF case.

As to Matsui winning gold gloves in Japan, so did Kaz. So did Nishioka. It doesn't mean he was a great, or even decent fielder. The only reason I believe Ichiro was a great fielder in Japan is because he proved it over here.
   55. Barnaby Jones Posted: December 28, 2012 at 10:04 AM (#4333552)
If you make the case that Matsui was better in Japan than the US, while Ichiro was the same, that's not good enough. Matsui has to be much, much better in Japan than Ichiro to pull even overall as a HOF case.


(a) Que? Who is saying Ichiro was the same as what now? Not enough for what? Huh? I don't follow you at all.

(b) No one is claiming they are even. In fact, I explicitly said the opposite.
   56. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 28, 2012 at 10:14 AM (#4333557)
As to Matsui winning gold gloves in Japan, so did Kaz. So did Nishioka. It doesn't mean he was a great, or even decent fielder. The only reason I believe Ichiro was a great fielder in Japan is because he proved it over here.

While Matsui was kind of hilarious out there.
   57. CFiJ Posted: December 28, 2012 at 10:14 AM (#4333558)
Just something to consider in analysis, but during Ichiro's and Matsui's time in NPB, the Pacific League was considered the stronger league. Certainly, Central League's stadiums were tiny, which inflates Matsui's power numbers.

Basically, Matsui's raw hitting stats in Japan, playing in smaller ballparks in a weaker league, were a bit better than Ichiro's (995 OPS vs 943). That doesn't even include Ichiro's better defense. Ichiro's had the better career in MLB, and if he's a HOFer, he's barely on the inside. Doesn't seem that great a stretch to dismiss Matsui's case.
   58. vivaelpujols Posted: December 28, 2012 at 10:16 AM (#4333560)
Yeah if US gold gloves are any indication, I'm guessing Matsui's hitting had a lot more to do his gold gloves than his fielding.
   59. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: December 28, 2012 at 10:29 AM (#4333564)
I've never understood the argument that it's unfair that pro-Ichiro people are treating him as some sort of special case. The HOF issues arises only if a player has been in the US for 10 years, and that only applies to, what, three Japanese players? And, of those players, Ichiro is the only one with a credible HOF case based on his performance in the US, so it makes sense to try to figure out whether and how to account for his time in Japan. IOW, it's obvious that Ichiro IS a special case. Like many others, I wouldn't give him one-to-one credit, but I would give him a sort of war credit for those years on the assumption that he would have been an above average player in the US had he been playing here. In any event, Ichiro has a compelling case for the HOF even if you completely ignore his time in Japan.
   60. AROM Posted: December 28, 2012 at 10:57 AM (#4333582)
Basically, Matsui's raw hitting stats in Japan, playing in smaller ballparks in a weaker league, were a bit better than Ichiro's (995 OPS vs 943).


That raw OPS is 5.5% higher for Matsui

In the US, Matsui was 4.8% higher (822 to 784). Even with tiny adjustments for the park/league issue (which I'm taking your word on, I don't have the data) it looks like they translated over here about the same. The most likely case, in my opinion, is that Ichiro was a much better overall player in Japan than Matsui was, just like Ichiro was better in the US.

The most optimistic case for Matsui would be that he was actually a plus fielder over there (though not quite Ichiro), and his slight offensive advnantage cancels out Ichiro's slight defensive advantage. If that's the case then Ichiro is still by far the better HOF candidate since he was much better over here.
   61. AROM Posted: December 28, 2012 at 11:02 AM (#4333584)
If that was the decline phase of a durable star, it would look great; give Dale Murphy Raul Ibanez's 30s, and he's in the HOF right now.


Dale Murphy was still great up to age 31, so I'll take that a step further, Murphy through 31 + Ibanez 32-40. The frankenoutfielder Daul Murbanez would have these stats:

278/353/487
2920 hits (and counting as Ibanez has a 2013 contract)
512 homers
1738 RBI

Only 53 WAR, but I think that player would have had no problem getting into the Hall, especially if he did it in Murphy's timeline, retiring in the late 90's and going on 2002 or 2003 ballot.
   62. AROM Posted: December 28, 2012 at 11:10 AM (#4333586)
Que? Who is saying Ichiro was the same as what now? Not enough for what? Huh? I don't follow you at all.


You posted this:

I think Ray is right; a number of people like to talk as if the Japanese league has stats that matter only in terms of Ichiro.


I call BS. I'm willing to consider Matsui's Japanese stats exactly to the extent I consider Ichiro's. I reject Matsui's HOF case and support Ichiro's for the same reason I support Piazza while rejecting Javier Lopez. Ichiro was better.
   63. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 28, 2012 at 11:12 AM (#4333588)
Ray should just start his own HoF and leave the real one alone.

Obviously Ichiro's going to Cooperstown and obviously Matsui isn't, both for reasons that seem obvious to nearly everyone on the planet but Ray. AFAIC Ray's failure to grasp (or accept) those reasons is Ray's problem, not anyone else's.
   64. winnipegwhip Posted: December 28, 2012 at 11:16 AM (#4333590)
Also, isn't it generally accepted that NPB is somewhere around AAA in terms of talent level? Shouldn't all the stats from NPB be MLE'd?


Couldn't the same be said about the Negro Leagues? Yes Josh Gibson hit 800 home runs but a lot of his homers were against inferior pitching. He didn't face Satchel Paige every day. I can't believe a group of individuals (African Americans) who comprised 10 to 15% of the national population could form baseball leagues with the caliber and depth of the 16 major league franchises and the top level teams in the National Association of Minor Leagues.

The one thing I like about the hockey hall of fame is that it isn't "nationalistic" and look solely at NHL related people. Allowing Tretiak into the hall shows that it is all-inclusive. If Cooperstown is going to be continue (it has with accepting Negro Leaguers) it should consider Japanese stats. In my opinion, Ichiro, yes. But Matsui, probably not (but I don't know enough of his Japanese career to be firm in that decision.)
   65. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 28, 2012 at 11:18 AM (#4333593)
Obviously Ichiro's going to Cooperstown and obviously Matsui isn't, both for reasons that seem obvious to nearly everyone on the planet but Ray. AFAIC Ray's failure to grasp (or accept) those reasons is Ray's problem, not anyone else's.
Ray understands perfectly well why Ichiro is going into the Hall (hits! fame!). This isn't the conversation that anyone is having.

The issue is that, putting aside the bad arguments, Ichiro has a strong Hall of Fame case on the merits. Ray then argued that if we apply the same methods that make Ichiro a worthy HoFer to Hideki Matsui, that he would also be a deserving electee. He did zero leg work and offered no argument or data, and he said that people who found Matsui lacking were being hypocrites. The argument we're having is that he's wrong about all of those things.
   66. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 28, 2012 at 11:19 AM (#4333594)
Couldn't the same be said about the Negro Leagues? Yes Josh Gibson hit 800 home runs but a lot of his homers were against inferior pitching. He didn't face Satchel Paige every day. I can't believe a group of individuals (African Americans) who comprised 10 to 15% of the national population could form baseball leagues with the caliber and depth of the 16 major league franchises and the top level teams in the National Association of Minor Leagues.
Of course. And the ratio of Negro Leaguers to MLB players in the Hall of Fame reflects this well enough.

It is at the same time highly unlikely that there were hardly any Hall of Fame quality African-American ballplsyers from the Jim Crow era - we know that a bunch of Hall of Fame players were active in the Negro Leagues before coming to MLB as the leagues integrated. So you have to do the hard work of sifting through the data and figure out which Negro League stars most likely had that level of talent and production.
   67. cardsfanboy Posted: December 28, 2012 at 11:20 AM (#4333595)
The most optimistic case for Matsui would be that he was actually a plus fielder over there (though not quite Ichiro), and his slight offensive advnantage cancels out Ichiro's slight defensive advantage. If that's the case then Ichiro is still by far the better HOF candidate since he was much better over here.


Isn't Matsui vs Ichiro a rehash(but in a different vein) of Cabrera vs Trout. With the bat they were basically equal, but Ichiro pulls ahead with the glove and baserunning.
   68. vivaelpujols Posted: December 28, 2012 at 11:32 AM (#4333605)
Isn't Matsui vs Ichiro a rehash(but in a different vein) of Cabrera vs Trout. With the bat they were basically equal, but Ichiro pulls ahead with the glove and baserunning.


Pretty much. Someone even said above that Matsui played in a hitters park (park factors were another issue in the mvp debate).

Except this time, no one in their right mind is going to argue that Matsui was better than Ichiro. Except maybe Sugar Bear Blanks.
   69. Adam B. Posted: December 28, 2012 at 11:32 AM (#4333607)
Relevant BBHOF rules:
3. Eligible Candidates -- Candidates to be eligible must meet the following requirements:

A. A baseball player must have been active as a player in the Major Leagues at some time during a period beginning twenty (20) years before and ending five (5) years prior to election.

B. Player must have played in each of ten (10) Major League championship seasons, some part of which must have been within the period described in 3 (A).
Excludes Oh. The rules for the Veterans Committee categories similarly require 10 "Major League" seasons for players, though the term is undefined.
5. Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.
Does not explicitly exclude non-Major Leagues performance, as I read it.
   70. cardsfanboy Posted: December 28, 2012 at 11:36 AM (#4333611)
Excludes Oh.


Also excludes Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige.
   71. AROM Posted: December 28, 2012 at 12:34 PM (#4333663)
The HOF has explicitly made an exception for Gibson and Paige (and others). Feel free to start a petition if you think a similar exception to that rule should be applied for Japanese players.

So you have to do the hard work of sifting through the data and figure out which Negro League stars most likely had that level of talent and production.


Hard work, but fun. And thanks to BBref and Seamheads, the data are there to work with. Not complete of course, but enough to get a pretty good idea of the talents.
   72. JE (Jason) Posted: December 28, 2012 at 12:36 PM (#4333665)
To be certain, a ballot *not* turned in does not count against the eligible candidates, right?
   73. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 28, 2012 at 12:44 PM (#4333669)
Obviously Ichiro's going to Cooperstown and obviously Matsui isn't, both for reasons that seem obvious to nearly everyone on the planet but Ray. AFAIC Ray's failure to grasp (or accept) those reasons is Ray's problem, not anyone else's.

Ray understands perfectly well why Ichiro is going into the Hall (hits! fame!)


I'm sure he does, which is why I said "(or accept)". And if he wants to keep banging his head against a stone wall, that's fine with me, with or without the aid of a government-approved crash helmet.

The issue is that, putting aside the bad arguments, Ichiro has a strong Hall of Fame case on the merits. Ray then argued that if we apply the same methods that make Ichiro a worthy HoFer to Hideki Matsui, that he would also be a deserving electee. He did zero leg work and offered no argument or data, and he said that people who found Matsui lacking were being hypocrites. The argument we're having is that he's wrong about all of those things.

To quote myself: Obviously. To which I'll add the thought that you're a much more patient and forbearing man in this case than I am.
   74. SoSH U at work Posted: December 28, 2012 at 12:51 PM (#4333674)
To be certain, a ballot *not* turned in does not count against the eligible candidates, right?


Yes, an unreturned ballot does nothing to the count. I believe Lisa Olson is an eligible voter who chooses not to vote.

A blank ballot returned is a no vote against every candidate, and must, in essence, be counteracted by three positive votes to overcome it.
   75. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 28, 2012 at 01:07 PM (#4333683)
Sadaharu Oh would probably get my vote, and so would two or three other NPB players. Isao Harimoto, Masaichi Kaneda, maybe Victor Starffin, and so on.

You'd take Harimoto over Nagashima? I'd definitely take all of Oh, Kaneda and Starffin.
   76. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 28, 2012 at 01:18 PM (#4333692)
The frankenoutfielder Daul Murbanez would have these stats:

Rale Ibarphy is a much better name.
   77. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 28, 2012 at 01:28 PM (#4333702)
I'm sure he does, which is why I said "(or accept)". And if he wants to keep banging his head against a stone wall, that's fine with me, with or without the aid of a government-approved crash helmet.
But I don't accept that the Hell of Fame will always and forever have the same flawed electorate and voting process. The wall has actually begun to break. Getting Blyleven elected was a massive victory. Felix Hernandez won a Cy Young in a season he went 13-12. Baseball writers are gradually coming around to our way of thinking. It's a good thing. It's people who don't accept that great players will be overlooked and mediocre players honored who have made that change.
   78. JJ1986 Posted: December 28, 2012 at 01:41 PM (#4333711)
To be certain, a ballot *not* turned in does not count against the eligible candidates, right?


And what about Mike Piazza? He never failed a test (which means nothing) and his name was never linked to federal investigations the way other players' were. But numerous writers have long suspected that drugs aided his career.


Oh my fucking God.
   79. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 28, 2012 at 01:42 PM (#4333714)
I'm sure he does, which is why I said "(or accept)". And if he wants to keep banging his head against a stone wall, that's fine with me, with or without the aid of a government-approved crash helmet.

But I don't accept that the Hell of Fame will always and forever have the same flawed electorate and voting process.


My point of reference here was Ichiro and Matsui, not Blyleven or King Felix or BBWAA's state of statistical consciousness in general.
   80. Matt Welch Posted: December 28, 2012 at 01:52 PM (#4333722)
Daul Murbanez/Rale Ibarphy is a super-fun exercise. I was doing one the other day with Jimmie Lynn/Freddie Edmonds, and basically if you add them one way you've got the 7th best centerfielder in history, and if you add them the other you've got Ray Lankford.
   81. Jim Wisinski Posted: December 28, 2012 at 01:53 PM (#4333724)
To be certain, a ballot *not* turned in does not count against the eligible candidates, right?


I hope everyone goes and reads the link Jason put in #72, it's an excellent piece filled with intelligent reasoning and integrity.
   82. Jim Wisinski Posted: December 28, 2012 at 02:14 PM (#4333734)
That raw OPS is 5.5% higher for Matsui

In the US, Matsui was 4.8% higher (822 to 784). Even with tiny adjustments for the park/league issue (which I'm taking your word on, I don't have the data) it looks like they translated over here about the same. The most likely case, in my opinion, is that Ichiro was a much better overall player in Japan than Matsui was, just like Ichiro was better in the US.


Matsui played in a hitter's park favorable to lefty power hitters over here while Ichiro! played in Safeco, though the damage done to his numbers is limited by the fact that Safeco appears to be neutral to just slightly favorable for singles by lefty hitters. OPS+ gives them a 4.4% difference but the difference in raw OPS is almost entirely in SLG and it doesn't account for the disproportionate advantage of being a lefty at Yankee Stadium. If CFiJ's statement about park and league differences in Japan is correct (if I recall correctly he lives there so I assume he's correct) then I think Ichiro definitely translated to the US better than Matsui did. Logically that's what you would expect since singles-hitting is a pretty universal skill while Matsui's power was undoubtedly inflated by playing in Japan.

   83. AROM Posted: December 28, 2012 at 02:17 PM (#4333737)
Daul Murbanez/Rale Ibarphy is a super-fun exercise. I was doing one the other day with Jimmie Lynn/Freddie Edmonds, and basically if you add them one way you've got the 7th best centerfielder in history, and if you add them the other you've got Ray Lankford.


7th best isn't too far off from Edmonds by himself. I think he was #8 in the MLB Prime 9 series. The top 6 have to be these guys, not necessarily in this order:

Cobb, Speaker, DiMaggio, Mantle, Mays, Griffey. Duke Snider was #7, though he and Jim are pretty close in all the stats as well as physical resemblance. They had Puckett #9.
   84. AROM Posted: December 28, 2012 at 02:27 PM (#4333742)
I see Edmonds is now #13 in bbref WAR. He lost a lot with the switch from my defensive ratings to John Dewan's. Lofton and Beltran are now in the top 9, but the difference between #7 Lofton and #14 Willie Davis is pretty small.

One could reasonably argue for anyone in that range at any spot. There is a pretty clear divide between #6 (DiMaggio) and the next tier though.
   85. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 28, 2012 at 02:41 PM (#4333755)
#6 (DiMaggio)
With war credit, DiMaggio passes Griffey by a good margin. Griffey's clearly #6 unless you apply some heavy timelining.

This is of course quibbling, the basic point that there have been six truly great CF in MLB, and then a very large gap before you get to the next guy, is surely correct. But to quibble again, MLB isn't the only American baseball league which has had great center fielders. Oscar Charleston surely slots in somewhere in the middle of the Big Six, and Turkey Stearns could fit in that gap between (now) 7th and 8th.
   86. Barnaby Jones Posted: December 28, 2012 at 04:40 PM (#4333837)
You posted this:


Ok, this is a completely separate thing than you quoted before. Thus my confusion.

Of course. And the ratio of Negro Leaguers to MLB players in the Hall of Fame reflects this well enough.


What is the ratio of deserving NPB players to MLBers? Bearing in mind there are about 3 times as many people in Japan as there are African-Americans in the US.
   87. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: December 28, 2012 at 04:43 PM (#4333840)
And what about Mike Piazza? He never failed a test (which means nothing)

As I said once before, in the modern world you're considered guilty until proven guiltier. I remember an (otherwise) reasonable friend of mine who was sure, beyond any doubt, that the Duke lacrosse players were guilty. After they were exonerated, she said, "I don't care. What about all the crimes they probably committed before and not gotten caught?"
   88. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 28, 2012 at 06:08 PM (#4333882)
(b) No one is claiming they are even.

Except for post #6. (And possibly post #9.)

   89. Walt Davis Posted: December 28, 2012 at 07:39 PM (#4333922)
Well, I believe I was the first person to raise the issue of Matsui/Ichiro/NPB here years ago so I think I'm qualified to comment on the history here.

First, let's recognize that this debate goes back a LONG way. The "Ichiro for the HoF" discussions must go back to at least 2007-8.

Second, let's recognize that the debate has never been about whether Ichiro will be elected to the HoF -- although not a "lock" back in 07-08, it was pretty clear that barring total collapse he'd get voted in once he reached the 10-year qualifier. But that's because writers love BA and hits and considered him 2nd only to Clemente as an RF. The debate was always about whether he "deserved" to go into the HoF.

Third, I don't think WAR was on b-r in those early days, not even sure fangraphs was around. (somebody here might be able to confirm). Certainly it was relatively early days in the "are defensive stats worth anything" debate. (Note Ichiro has only 3.7 dWAR, he's not an historically great defensive player. The "unbelievable" part of Ichiro's numbers is that he's supposedly been worth about 5 wins in avoiding DPs.)

In short, the debate was "does a short career corner OF with a 119 OPS+ deserve to go into the HoF, even with good baserunning* and defense?" WAR did change that debate a lot because Ichiro's peak MLB value must be at least twice that of any other 119 OPS+ corner OF in history and one can now make a "deserves HoF" case for him based on his MLB-only performance. In the beginning, his MLB-only HoF case was "trust me, he's adding dozens of wins with his glove and speed."

It was into that earlier debate that people started with the "yeah, but his career was only short because he was stuck in Japan and he was great in Japan and deserves credit for that." And it was in response to that argument that I first asked "well, what about Matsui?" It was pretty damn clear to me that no more than one or two people here had ever considered Matsui's NPB stats. There were one or two who seemed to have -- they were the ones making the same arguments here that Matsui's NPB career would not add enough. And there were some who said "of course I will" ... but I'm not sure I believed them.

I will also note that this argument is raised with Edgar and how he "should" have been in MLB long before he was so we should consider his AAA performance/MLEs as a "bonus." People also refer to Boggs but of course he didn't need them so it was moot. I think I even saw a poster here recently argue that Lofton** getting a late start due to basketball deserved some consideration as an extra factor to push him over the line.

Leaving aside the question of whether NPB/minors/NCAA performance should be considered at all, the basic point is a simple one that seems to need to be made time and time again -- if you are going to use variable X to assess the performance of player A then you also need to use it to assess the performance of player B. If pre-MLB NPB/minors play counts for Edgar/Ichiro (even as a bonus) then it counts for everybody. If pre-MLB NPB/minors play counts, then post-MLB NPB/minors play counts too. The argument "Matsui wasn't great in MLB so he deserves no HoF consideration period" is NOT a justifiable response if we are going to consider NPB stats any more than "Dale Murphy was no good in his 30s so I'm not even going to look at his 20s" is a justifiable response.

Now, many in this thread have accepted this challenge for at least Matsui and have come to the conclusion that he does not meet HoF standards after consideration of his NPB numbers. I'm not sure how carefully they've done this but it's the internet so it's not that big of a deal. That's fine. And if you add on anything that Andruw might do in Japan (probably very little) then fine. If you're going to give Edgar an extra boost then you need to give Utley an extra boost and who knows how many players may have "delayed" their MLB careers playing in NCAA.

On a related note, I raised this a very, very long time ago (like 2003-2004) when I noticed that ESPN had Ichiro's NPB stats on his page but none of the other Japanese players. When H Matsui came in, his were also added but not the others, not even Dice K when he came over. I don't know if that's still true but it was true not that long ago. That is a quite clear indication that NPB stats were only "important" for selected Japanese players. Yu Darvish's pre-MLB stats are not on his ESPN stats page. I will also note that there was some media attention paid to Ichiro's 3000th professional hit and some talk of whether he could break Rose's record but I don't recall seeing any coverage of Matsui's 500th HR.**

*Note also that Ichiro averages less than 40 steals a year -- good by today's standards but hardly an historic, eye-catching level.

**
Ichiro: 8700 PA, 137 Rbat, 107 b+dp, 4 dWAR, 55 WAR
Lofton: 9200 PA, 140 Rbat, 101 b+dp, 15 dWAR, 65 WAR

Lofton >= Ichiro

Now, who had Lofton ahead of Ichiro in their personal HoF? Who wants to question Lofton's worthiness based on "uncertain" defensive and baserunning components? Who wants to count Ichiro's NPB stats?


*** Note, Matsui's NPB-boosted HoF case is being dismissed a little too easily. If you combine his NPB and MLB stats, he's got 500 HR, 1550 runs, 1650 RBI, 2500 games. He has an equal number of games here as there so even if you simply double his decline phase MLB numbers, he'd have 350 HR, 1300 runs, 1500 RBI and 2500 games and he's looking like McGriff (with a lot fewer HR) or very much like Perez. That's all decline phase. If you take the McGriff comp seriously, McGriff had 36 WAR in his first 1291 games -- add that to Matsui's 19 MLB war and he's at 55 (about where AROM suggested he might go). Perez had 35 so if you prefer that comp, you end up about the same place. McGriff also had 289 HR in those games and that would put Matsui up to 464 HR ... then add some on for playing more in the sillyball era and Matsui just might make it to 500 HR. Did Matsui start as a CF in Japan? Note, for the McGriff comp to be legit, you have to assume Matsui would have started in MLB at age 20 which is probably not likely but can't be ruled out (he did damn well at 20 in Japan).

McGriff, 86-95: 1291 games, 289 HR, 788 R, 803 RBI, 285/386/535, 149 OPS+, 36 WAR, -8 dWAR
McGriff, 96-04: 1169 games, 204 HR, 561 R, 747 RBI, 284/367/482, 119 OPS+, 12 WAR, -10 dWAR
Mastui, MLB: 1236 games, 175 HR, 656 R, 760 RBI, 282/360/462, 118 OPS+, 19 WAR, -10 dWAR

The decline phases are pretty much identical so it's not unreasonable to think the first halfs would have been pretty similar too. If you're concerned that slightly more than half of McGriff's career is in the non-decline part, that 1995 season was the first of his decline -- 280/361/490/119 -- so 2nd "half" will look the same whether you cut off the first half in 94 or 95.



   90. vivaelpujols Posted: December 28, 2012 at 07:51 PM (#4333934)
The question to me, re NPB stats, is if we should count them in full or give Ichi/Hideki partial credit. I lean towards partial credit, and I think the stats should be MLE'd to some degree. Obviously it's all going to be subjective, but I think it's better than just giving them full credit for their raw stats.

If you give full credit, Ichiro is a top 25 player of all time and Matsui is probably a HOF. If you give partial credit, Ichiro is a 2nd ballot guy and Matsui doesn't make it.

I agree that Lofton is getting criminally boned in the HOF debates.
   91. The District Attorney Posted: December 28, 2012 at 08:19 PM (#4333947)
I will also note that this argument is raised with Edgar and how he "should" have been in MLB long before he was so we should consider his AAA performance/MLEs as a "bonus."... I think I even saw a poster here recently argue that Lofton** getting a late start due to basketball deserved some consideration as an extra factor to push him over the line.
These are different cases.

In Lofton's case, you cannot give credit for a guy who could easily have been playing baseball but simply chose not to. That is clearly unworkable.

I can give Edgar/Utley credit for what they did at the highest level that they were allowed to attain, if what they were doing at that level proved that they had the talent to be an MLB regular. In so many words, that amounts to "playing really damn well in the minors." 850 OPS seasons in the minors are in all likelihood not going to amount to anything worth mentioning in a HOF context. As I recall, Utley didn't even play all that great in the minors. Maybe Edgar had one big season, I dunno. It's make-or-break if you're trying to evaluate Buzz Arlett. It's hard to imagine the situation where it's make-or-break for a modern MLB veteran. But yes, throw it in there -- if it's justified.

if you are going to use variable X to assess the performance of player A then you also need to use it to assess the performance of player B.
The response you're probably going to get to this is that the rules don't let you vote for players who don't have 10 years of MLB experience, so we're not allowed to use NPB performance to consider Sadaharu Oh; we can only use it to consider Ichiro and Matsui.

My objections to that, however, are:

A. I don't think the rules intend for you to do that. (Yeah, I realize they don't explicitly say "only consider MLB". But in the context of rules stating that eligibility is based on one's MLB career, doesn't it make sense that the "contributions to the team(s)" mentioned are contributions to the teams that make you eligible for the honor? If there were a McDonald's Employee of the Month awarded for "contributions to the company" to employees who worked at McDonald's in December 2012, don't you think that means contributions to McDonald's and not contributions to Burger King? FWIW, we also have a rep of the Hall of Fame stating in this thread that he understands the rules to mean only consider MLB.)

B. Simply put, if you think one's performance in NPB can establish that one had MLB star level talent, then you should think that the greatest Japanese players should be in the HOF. And if you don't think that, then you shouldn't care that Ichiro wouldn't get credit for NPB performance.

I think that it's ultimately more productive to lobby for a more coherent approach to non-MLB players, than it is to lobby for the resume of 10-year MLB players to include Japan. I certainly understand why people figure the latter is a "tweak" that is easier to pull off than an "overhaul" would be. But I think it only ends up further muddying the issues involved.
   92. Walt Davis Posted: December 28, 2012 at 08:31 PM (#4333957)
HoF or reasonable eligible with similar WAR to Matsui ages 29-38, corner players (by that point but skipping Ernie Banks)

Cepeda 16
Rice 17
Murphy 18
McGriff 22
Brock 23
Bernie 23
Dawson 23
Murray 25
Winfield 26
Perez 27 (a mini-peak for Tony)

Matsui fits in the bottom of that pile -- which, as we all know, means unlikely HoF. Cepeda seems like another pretty good comp, again more likely an upside comp, given he was full-time at age 20. But then Cepeda's biggest WAR (and MVP) year was his age 29 season which is included here in his "decline" phase.

A legit "alternate universe HoF" case for Matsui almost certainly has to assume he still breaks in at 20, 21 at the latest, and he's got to be at least a 4-WAR player in those first 8 years. That's not unreasonable -- he was a 4 WAR player in his age 30, 31 and 33 seasons. Winning an MVP or two would help, starting out in CF would help. Putting him on the 90s Yanks as part of the core and winning as many rings as Jeter would help.

Yes, if not for Rice (and kinda Perez), it would be unprecedented for anybody with this 29-38 production to be voted into the HoF. He would have to be pretty awesome from 20-28 to make it. Most likely he ends up in the McGriff, Cash, Jack Clark pile at the top of the HoVG because he either doesn't break in until 23-24 or he breaks in early but doesn't produce until age 23.

Here are some selected players with about the same WAR from 29-38:

Wynn, both Clarks, Gibson, Justice, Derrek Lee, Sanders, Foster, Lemon, Torre, Oglivie, Dick Allen, C Pena, Konerko, Carty, Joyner, Baker, Murphy, Bobby Bonds, Galarraga, Oliva.

It's clear from that list that he's not an HoFer in too many alternate universes. Allen is in the HoM but that was one of the best career starts ever. Wynn is too I think which requires Matsui to be in CF. Carty (with the bat), Oliva and Bonds had HoM talent but couldn't stay healthy. Torre was looking awfully good there for a while. Somebody like Derrek Lee might have made the HoF as a career compiler. A lot of these guys would fit right in with other VC inductions.

Anyway, I think McGriff merits "serious consideration" for the HoF -- for me, it's to the point where I'm not all that confident that he doesn't belong. "Alternate universe" Matsui probably doesn't quite reach Fred's heights because he probably doesn't break in at 20-21. As to the real HoF, Matsui is an easy call for me since I don't think NPB (or AAA or whatever) stats should count in any way whatsoever.
   93. Walt Davis Posted: December 28, 2012 at 09:19 PM (#4333974)
The response you're probably going to get to this is that the rules don't let you vote for players who don't have 10 years of MLB experience, so we're not allowed to use NPB performance to consider Sadaharu Oh; we can only use it to consider Ichiro and Matsui.

Not really a response to my point. Oh is not eligible for the HoF under the rules so nobody would be assessing Oh in that context. I said "if you use X to assess player A, you need to use X to assess player B". So, if not assessing player A (Oh), it's rather a moot point. Now, if you're trying to compile a "greatest players in the world no matter where/when they played" list, you need to assess Oh.

My point there isn't specific to this debate, it's as much a reaction to the "Jack Morris made X opening day starts" or "Jim Rice was feared." In an ideal world, any such proposed criterion would actually be shown to be useful in HoF in/out decisions but, even in the real world, at least we should insist those people apply that criterion to everyone under consideration.

So, whether NPB stats should be considered or not, if they form part of your assessment of Ichiro, they must form part of your assessment of Matsui. If you do that and find Ichiro worthy and Matsui unworthy, at least you're being consistent. And a lot of folks in this thread have done just that (and one or two seem to know enough about NPB that their assessment might be worthwhile :-).

My only objection would be to "I don't need to look at Matsui's NPB stats because his MLB stats aren't good enough." Either NPB stats add to the case or they don't. They don't have to be weighted the same obviously and maybe you'd even come to the conclusion that, with Matsui's MLB performance, he'd have to have been Babe Ruth in NPB to meet your standards, but at least you'd be applying your standard fairly.

For fun, I looked at HoFers with fewer than 150 Rbat from ages 27 to 38. Mostly C and SS of course. Brooks, Joe Gordon (might have made it if not for the war), Maz, Fox, Frisch, Carey, Sandberg, Ashburn, etc. It's a surprisingly long list. Most relevant for Ichiro are probably the corners of Jim Rice, Brock and Cepeda which is not an inspiring set of comps. He's much better than those guys due to defense and (Brock aside) baserunning.

Brock 27-38: 298/349/412/113, 113 Rbat, 82 b+dp, 32 WAR, -15 dWAR
Ichiro: 322/365/419/113, 137 Rbat, 107 b+dp, 55 WAR, 4 dWAR

Most of the Brock-Ichiro gap is defense but he does beat him across the board. Brock did add 10 WAR outside of this time period though so the difference between Brock and Ichiro comes down entirely to defense. And fair enough, Brock was not a good defender, Ichiro is. I don't think WAR is overstating things here but even if it was, you'd still rather have Ichiro.

But it is another test of your faith in the defensive stats -- Brock is generally considered one of the worst HoF selections around here and he's not in the HoM. If Brock (42 total WAR) is 10-15 wins shy of serious HoF worthiness, you have to have complete faith in Ichiro's numbers to get him to that level.

Gwynn was rightly mentioned above so:

343/393/469/136, but only 7000 PA, a big gap.
297 Rbat, 24 b+dp, 43 WAR, -9 dWAR

Ichiro is also picking up about 7 wins in replacement value. So Ichiro out-wars Gwynn at the same ages which is very impressive. This one is all defense even with the big playing time and baserunning advantages for Ichiro. Again, a believable defensive gap although I don't remember at what age Tony got fat fat.

Gwynn added 22 WAR outside of that time frame. His 65 final WAR are essentially completely a function of his bat and his playing time.

I don't mean to question WAR's defensive and baserunning value measures -- I assume they're pretty good and as good as any we've got. I do however want to create cognitive dissonance for anybody who (a) supports Ichiro but (b) generally dismisses "defensive outliers" ... and, in particular, anybody who supports Ichiro but doesn't support Walker. Y'all got some explaining to do.

EDIT: the Ichiro yes, Walker no group will probably include 70% of the BBWAA.
   94. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 29, 2012 at 12:02 AM (#4334037)
So... again, you want to incorporate Japanese stats, but only in a way that makes them meaningful for Ichiro alone. Point proven? I'm not sure I see the rationale.


Exactly.

----

I'm not sure how to respond to that. I think giving partial credit to Japanese stats is fairer than the alternatives (no credit or full credit), does anyone really disagree with that? Pick a number between 0% and 100% and conduct your analysis. I have no pro-Ichiro agenda here.


Fine. 0%. And suddenly - even MCOA agrees - Ichiro is not HOF quality.
   95. John Northey Posted: December 29, 2012 at 12:07 AM (#4334041)
Even if you don't discount the Japanese league stats (which would be fairly dumb) he still might not get in.

The Baseball Cube has Japanese stats so his combined is 293/388/523 911 OPS, 2643 hits, 507 HR, 1649 RBI. A decade ago? Sure, no problem. Now? That is close to Palmeiro 288/371/515 885 OPS but with 400 fewer hits, 60 fewer HR, 200 fewer RBI. Now, his 3 MVP's would push him ahead of Palmeiro and with his consecutive game streak (over 1000) and the like he might convince writers to put him in. But that is without ANY discount for his Japanese stats. If we give him 95% credit (a bit generous I think) he'd have 490 HR. 90% pushes it down to 474 with a 278/370/493 863 OPS line - excellent but given how voters are going that'd be a HOVG situation. Plus, of course, I doubt he'd have reached the majors at 19.

In truth, I am surprised how good his case was even with a 10% discount on his overseas stats. Still, no matter how you cut it I don't see it as a clear HOF case even without a discount given how writers were debating Palmeiro pre-steroids.
   96. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 29, 2012 at 12:13 AM (#4334043)
"So... again, you want to incorporate Japanese stats, but only in a way that makes them meaningful for Ichiro alone. Point proven? I'm not sure I see the rationale."

Total BS.

Ichiro was better than Matsui in the US. The WAR gap is 53-18, and 43-18 if you restrict the comparison to 2003-12, when both were in the US. If you make the case that Matsui was better in Japan than the US, while Ichiro was the same, that's not good enough. Matsui has to be much, much better in Japan than Ichiro to pull even overall as a HOF case.


Why? If, as people here say, Ichiro doesn't need much of his NPB career to make the HOF - if it is more like a tiebreaker - then that in no way precludes Matsui from taking full advantage of his NPB career. Unless, that is, people are using inconsistent standards.
   97. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 29, 2012 at 12:24 AM (#4334046)
5. Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

Does not explicitly exclude non-Major Leagues performance, as I read it.


It doesn't explicitly exclude high school or college or minor league or wiffle ball peformance, either, but why would we consider those things? The rules speak about 10 "Major League championship seasons," minimum. Why speak of Major League Championship seasons if we're going to consider NPB? What is the argument for treating MLB just like NPB - regardless of whether MLEs are used - when the rules explicitly speak of MLB and not of NPB?

   98. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: December 29, 2012 at 12:36 AM (#4334049)
The argument is that we want to. We don't work for the Hall of Fame, or MLB. We're just trying to figure out who the greatest baseball players in the world are, wherever they might have played, and honor them accordingly. Or I do, anyway. I'm not going to speak to what other people are trying to do.

   99. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: December 29, 2012 at 12:46 AM (#4334055)
By the way, thanks to all the posters who crunched the numbers and gave a serious assessment to Matsui. Seems like the consensus supports my off-the-cuff comparison with Clark.

Walt, I think I was the one who first spoke of giving Lofton a bonus. I don't really mean to give him extra credit for not playing more baseball, I was just trying to say that he shouldn't be dinged as some kind of late bloomer. His development was normal once it began.

As for this:

You'd take Harimoto over Nagashima? I'd definitely take all of Oh, Kaneda and Starffin.


I haven't really dug into this, I was just grabbing names. I should have put my "maybe" at the beginning of the list.
   100. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 29, 2012 at 01:02 AM (#4334059)
The argument is that we want to.


Which is what I've been saying.
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