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Saturday, January 04, 2014

Kirby Arnold: Getting my HOF vote in just before dementia

FORE (skins game)...The Golfers West vote is in!

Before I get into my 2014 Hall of Fame ballot, let’s clear up a few assumptions I’ve been hearing lately about baseball writers.

We’re not all a bunch of old fogies who pull our sans-a-belt slacks (Google it, kids) somewhere between our belly button and armpits. I favor front-pleated Dockers — brown, of course.

We don’t all live in the dark ages of entertainment and technology. Mixed in with my Benny Goodman 78s (Google that, too) are Uriah Heep LPs and Zeppelin 8-tracks. The Gremlin I drive gets both AM and FM radio.

Just because I started my career eons ago writing stories on a Royal manual typewriter doesn’t mean I haven’t figured out how to make the latest technology work for me.  My great, great grandson is typing my feather-and-quill handwritten notes on something they call a LAP-TOP.

Some critics believe baseball writers haven’t grasped the game since the travel-by-train era, but please be assured that I place a lot of importance on such modern elements as WAR, WHIP, BABIP and other sabermetric measurements. I’d still like to see them travel by train a few times a year, though, and wear itchy wool uniforms with stirrup socks.

If that’s not enough to convince you, then nothing may change your opinion that the Baseball Writers Association of America is a bunch of backward-thinking old coots who aren’t just as concerned as you that the Hall of Fame voting procedure needs a re-thinking.

There are men and women in this organization way smarter than me – and they even have LAP-TOPS! – who are capable of addressing and fixing the issues that exist.

Repoz Posted: January 04, 2014 at 10:19 AM | 32 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hof

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   1. kcgard2 Posted: January 04, 2014 at 11:09 AM (#4629814)
A very good ballot (given the anti-PED stance). Contains Morris, but would have contained Mussina if he had another slot.
   2. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: January 04, 2014 at 11:38 AM (#4629828)
I RTFA, and it sounds like a whiny, grumpy piece, so you are skeptical about what his ballot will look like. Then, he reveals his ballot (and his anti-PED stance), and you are relieved to find (as #1 says), that it's a really good ballot, and that he wishes the ballot could have more than 10 candidates, because he woud vote for more than 10 - and that Mussina is his #11 choice.

This year's ballots are turning out to be a most unexpected, pleasant surprise.
   3. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: January 04, 2014 at 11:41 AM (#4629831)
Jeff Bagwell
Craig Biggio
Tom Glavine
Greg Maddux
Edgar Martinez
Jack Morris
Mike Piazza
Tim Raines
Curt Schilling
Frank Thomas

FTFA:
My biggest misgiving isn’t the PED argument. It’s leaving Mike Mussina off my ballot.

I went back and forth with him and Jack Morris. My only argument, as invalid as it may be, is something like the freshman who doesn’t make the all-conference team. His time will come. . .

If only we could vote for more than 10.


Good ballot.

eta:
and it sounds like a whiny, grumpy piece


Given the amount of kvetching we do about old back in the day know-nothings screwing up the HoF, I can see where he's coming from. Especially since he's writing now for a golf magazine and we've certainly mocked those writers as symbolic of the BBWAA's problems.
   4. caprules Posted: January 04, 2014 at 11:48 AM (#4629837)
I RTFA, and it sounds like a whiny, grumpy piece


I found it slightly funny and he made a reference to back acne.
   5. TJ Posted: January 04, 2014 at 11:58 AM (#4629843)
Arnold's is the best of the three- go check out Bob Sherwin's and Jim Street's posts. Nothing terribly wrong with their ballots, but you can enjoy reasons for HOF induction such as Lee Smith's consecutive games without an error (Smith had 167 fielding chances in his entire career. Kenny Rogers had more than that from 1998 through 1999), Tom Glavine's four Silver Sluggers (next pitcher inducted into Cooperstown because of his bat will be the first), Jack Morris both turning it up a notch in the 8th inning thus negating the need for a closer and always seeming to make the right pitch at the right time, and Tim Raines playing in five postseasons and a World Series like Raines was a critical piece of the puzzle (Raines had over 400 plate appearances in only two of those years),among others...

These two are just more examples of blind squirrels finding nuts and submitting acceptable ballots because it's almost impossible not to due to the number of qualified candidates. Arnold at least escaped that designation.
   6. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: January 04, 2014 at 12:10 PM (#4629846)
I'm not googling that. It feels like a lemon party trap.
   7. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 04, 2014 at 12:17 PM (#4629851)
I found it slightly funny and he made a reference to back acne.


Yeah, it was a slightly humorous jab at the smartasses (hi, my name is Rickey!) on the internet who run around making out that all BBWAA members are confused by electric lightening.
   8. BDC Posted: January 04, 2014 at 01:15 PM (#4629892)
Lee Smith's consecutive games without an error (Smith had 167 fielding chances in his entire career

Every single pitcher (post-1961, at least) that I look up on B-Ref has exactly zero Rfield for his career, and for every year of his career. Is that because pitcher fielding is ignored by WAR, or because it's inconsequential?

I wonder aloud. I'm not really dying to know, or anything :)
   9. Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: January 04, 2014 at 03:14 PM (#4630015)
A really pretty decent ballot. Moreover, it explicitly illuminates what's fast becoming the community standard on PEDS: a preponderance test that allows in players with "mere rumors", but holds out those players with weightier evidence against them.

I don't get the whiny, grumpy vibe reading it. It's more that of an older guy who's still "with it" and is having a little fun with the readership.

   10. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: January 04, 2014 at 04:16 PM (#4630061)
Based on the overall excellence of his ballot and my relative feelings about BBWAA members, I'll happily take the jabs from Mr. Arnold. Nicely done, sir.
   11. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: January 04, 2014 at 04:27 PM (#4630070)
Every single pitcher (post-1961, at least) that I look up on B-Ref has exactly zero Rfield for his career, and for every year of his career. Is that because pitcher fielding is ignored by WAR, or because it's inconsequential?


It's got to be the former. Picking 2 extremes, Greg Maddux had 1200 more chances than Randy Johnson, and committed 4 fewer errors. The value difference between them has to be more than 0. He had 900 more chances than Nolan Ryan, and made 37 fewer errors.

In 1990, Greg Maddux made 0 errors in 94 chances. In 1998, Randy Johnson made 9 errors in 45 chances. Both score at 0.
   12. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: January 04, 2014 at 04:37 PM (#4630074)
Pitcher fielding affects the pitcher's pitching stats.
   13. BDC Posted: January 04, 2014 at 04:48 PM (#4630082)
I see. It's an interesting decision in the analysis. As BCI says, the pitcher's fielding can be folded into his entire defensive contribution and still reflect his value accurately. But that's not logically inevitable. Once the ball is put into play, the pitcher is just another infielder.
   14. Monty Posted: January 04, 2014 at 04:56 PM (#4630086)
My biggest misgiving isn’t the PED argument. It’s leaving Mike Mussina off my ballot.

I went back and forth with him and Jack Morris. My only argument, as invalid as it may be, is something like the freshman who doesn’t make the all-conference team. His time will come. . .


That's not a crazy argument. If you think both Morris and Mussina belong, I can see prioritizing the one who's having his last chance.
   15. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: January 04, 2014 at 05:00 PM (#4630089)
That's not a crazy argument. If you think both Morris and Mussina belong, I can see prioritizing the one who's having his last chance.


I agree. I'll save my scorn for the guy who voted for Morris but not Mussina, and didn't use all his slots.
   16. DL from MN Posted: January 04, 2014 at 06:35 PM (#4630144)
Pitcher fielding affects the pitcher's pitching stats.


Except when it's xFIP.
   17. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: January 04, 2014 at 08:01 PM (#4630205)
I'm not googling that. It feels like a lemon party trap.


This, fine sir, made me nearly choke to death on my rum & coke.

Well played.
   18. Srul Itza Posted: January 04, 2014 at 08:27 PM (#4630220)
Wrong thread
   19. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: January 04, 2014 at 08:37 PM (#4630231)
I see. It's an interesting decision in the analysis. As BCI says, the pitcher's fielding can be folded into his entire defensive contribution and still reflect his value accurately. But that's not logically inevitable. Once the ball is put into play, the pitcher is just another infielder.

I think the argument is that pitching WAR is based on RA. Any impact a pitcher has on the fielding side, will also impact his RA. So giving him +/- for fielding on top of that would in effect be double counting that contribution.
   20. cardsfanboy Posted: January 04, 2014 at 09:31 PM (#4630263)
I think the argument is that pitching WAR is based on RA. Any impact a pitcher has on the fielding side, will also impact his RA. So giving him +/- for fielding on top of that would in effect be double counting that contribution.


Makes sense, but it has a flaw. Fielders +/- is a complete theoretical construct and they get their bonus/penalties regardless of whether runs scored. I don't see any reason that the pitchers shouldn't get the same theoretical bonus/penalties just because their primary value is being scored another way.

I mean I can see an argument either way, it just seems that we are at least losing information if we aren't tracking pitchers defense.
   21. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: January 04, 2014 at 09:41 PM (#4630267)
I mean I can see an argument either way, it just seems that we are at least losing information if we aren't tracking pitchers defense.

It is tracked, at least by BIS - if you look at Maddux's Player Fielding Stats section on B-R, it gives you his Rdrs for every season from 2003 to the end of his career. (They are all positive, totaling +25.) It would just be double-counting to factor pitcher fielding into a version of WAR that's already based on runs allowed. (Fangraphs WAR should count it, though. Along with many, many other things.)
   22. Walt Davis Posted: January 04, 2014 at 10:05 PM (#4630273)
Hmmm ... that is interesting ... OK, probably just "interesting." Reading the RAdef, the team defense includes the pitchers' defense and then all the runs are just divvied up equally (weighted by BIP presumably). So if you're a good-fielding P but the other Ps are not, it would seem you're losing most of your defensive contribution.

I have no idea if that's enough to make a difference of course. Ideally I suppose you'd want "team defense" to comprise just the 8 other positions, then individual pitcher fielding runs go ... somewhere.
   23. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: January 04, 2014 at 10:44 PM (#4630287)
Reading the RAdef, the team defense includes the pitchers' defense and then all the runs are just divvied up equally (weighted by BIP presumably). So if you're a good-fielding P but the other Ps are not, it would seem you're losing most of your defensive contribution.

I'm not sure RAdef includes pitchers' defense. But even if it does, I think an outstanding or lousy pitcher would still keep the majority of his fielding impact.

Say a pitcher is involved in 10% of his team's balls in play and is a +5 fielder for the year, and his pitching teammates are average in the aggregate. If pitcher defense is included in the measured team defense, that +5 is part of the defensive adjustment that gets spread among the entire staff, so only half a run of it (10% of 5 runs) is applied to the team defense adjustment for the +5 pitcher. But if his defense actually prevented 5 runs from scoring, that still leaves him +4.5 from his own fielding contributions.

If there's an entire pitching staff composed of uniformly excellent or lousy fielders, this could become an issue. But that would seem pretty unusual.
   24. Cooper Nielson Posted: January 05, 2014 at 12:45 AM (#4630332)
I don't get the whiny, grumpy vibe reading it. It's more that of an older guy who's still "with it" and is having a little fun with the readership.

I agree. He didn't seem whiny or grumpy at all. The first half of the column was entirely a comedy bit, and I even laughed at some of the jokes. ("We don't all live in the dark ages of entertainment and technology. Mixed in with my Benny Goodman 78s are Uriah Heep LPs and Zeppelin 8-tracks. The Gremlin I drive gets both AM and FM radio.") This guy is happily conceding that he's old -- he just doesn't think that should lump him in with the Murray Chasses of the world.

Overall, a fun column and a pretty good (non-PED) ballot. Maybe he's old and writing for a golf magazine, but he still knows baseball.
   25. KronicFatigue Posted: January 05, 2014 at 12:47 AM (#4630334)
Pleats have been out for years!
   26. stevegamer Posted: January 05, 2014 at 12:59 AM (#4630338)
This may be the best ballot article I've read. It's short, funny, and makes sense.

Even better, he takes a shot at those who are disqualifying folks due to rumor, hearsay, and back acne.

And then he hopes the HOF will allow them to vote for more than 10 next year, which is better yet.






   27. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 05, 2014 at 12:43 PM (#4630460)
Tom Glavine's four Silver Sluggers (next pitcher inducted into Cooperstown because of his bat will be the first)


You laugh, but Glavine's bat is what moves him ahead of Mussina in career WAR. On a ballot this crowded, he may very well end up with an extra vote or two as a result of his hitting.
   28. TJ Posted: January 05, 2014 at 01:26 PM (#4630501)
You laugh, but Glavine's bat is what moves him ahead of Mussina in career WAR. On a ballot this crowded, he may very well end up with an extra vote or two as a result of his hitting.


No offense, Fredo, and you're right- I do laugh. If Glavine had went 0-for his career, he would still be getting the votes he is because of the 300 wins and two Cy Youngs. Citing Glavine's Silver Sluggers is like citing Lee Smith's errorless streak- the voter already decided to vote for the player, and is including anything they can to justify their vote. I've yet to see the ballot where the voter has said, "I voted straight career WAR, and Glavine's was higher than Mussina's, so he got my vote."

Then again, Fredo is right in the sense that too many voters who claim to do "research" do nothing more than look at a couple of numbers, whether they be Wins or WAR, without any regard to what the number really tells us. (Full disclosure- I voted for both Mussina and Glavine in the Deadspin ballot poll, as I see the numbers saying they both would be middle-tier HOF starting pitchers.)
   29. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: January 05, 2014 at 07:50 PM (#4630879)
No offense, Fredo, and you're right- I do laugh. If Glavine had went 0-for his career, he would still be getting the votes he is because of the 300 wins and two Cy Youngs.

If Glavine went 0-for his career, he likely wouldn't have the 300 wins. B-R gives him 7.5 batting WAR (all of which obviously came while he was in the game and therefore potentially contributed to his win total); an 0-for-1300 would be a pretty healthy negative WAR even for a pitcher. (To pick a contemporary example, Randy Johnson was a horrible hitter even for a pitcher, with a -22 OPS+ in his career and -2.2 batting WAR in half as many AB as Glavine had - and even he hit .125.)

Now, I do agree that people probably aren't looking at Glavine's hitting as part of his case. But that hitting may have been the difference between 290 wins and 305, and that has rather a larger effect on the voting.
   30. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: January 05, 2014 at 11:08 PM (#4631063)
To flesh this out a little more, here are some games found by looking through Glavine's batting gamelogs in which Glavine (a) earned a win, and (b) scored or drove in runs that provided the winning margin.

Braves 2, Mets 1 (1 run scored)
Braves 7, Phillies 6 (2-run double)
Braves 4, Expos 2 (RBI single and successful squeeze bunt)
Braves 3, Mets 2 (RBI single)
Braves 2, Giants 1 (1 run scored)
Mets 3, Braves 2 (sac fly; Glavine playing for the Mets in this one, obviously)

Extra case which may not exactly qualify:
Braves 4, Dodgers 3 (1 run scored after reaching on error)

Extra case which definitely does not qualify but is still cool:
Braves 2, Astros 1 (13), in which Glavine walked and scored the winning run in the 13th - as a pinch hitter

Anyway, that's 6 wins for Glavine that can in part be directly attributed to his own hitting. And that's not counting other rallies he contributed to, or runs and RBI that averted losses for himself (there was one game where he gave up one run and hit a solo homer, and the Braves won after he left).
   31. cardsfanboy Posted: January 05, 2014 at 11:25 PM (#4631078)
To flesh this out a little more, here are some games found by looking through Glavine's batting gamelogs in which Glavine (a) earned a win, and (b) scored or drove in runs that provided the winning margin.


Excellent research.

Now, I do agree that people probably aren't looking at Glavine's hitting as part of his case. But that hitting may have been the difference between 290 wins and 305, and that has rather a larger effect on the voting.


I keep hoping the Felix Hernandez Cy Young means that the voters are starting to get that wins ending in a zero (20/300) isn't the entire story. 300 isn't a magic number obviously, but generally people good enough to get there are eventually deemed worthy.... It's possible that without 300 Glavine may not have been voted in this year(he was going to make it...but without 300 some dinosaurs might think he isn't a first balloter and it could be possible that would have been the difference between the in/out line.)
   32. Red Menace Posted: January 06, 2014 at 01:24 AM (#4631117)
Pleats have been out for years!


I'm glad I wasn't the only one struck by this. Also LAP-TOPS are well on their way out too.

The article and ballot are fine for all the reasons already mentioned. I know it's silly to criticize the comedy, but I kept getting hung up by how his "with it" examples were actually passe. "You think I'm out of touch? I'll have you know I have a hotmail account!"

Unless I'm just missing another meta layer of his comedic genius, in which case the joke is on me.

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