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Monday, December 23, 2013

LOVERRO: Determining naughty, nice on Baseball Hall of Fame ballot

Based on reasonable circumstantial evidence…this is Loverro’s ballot: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Fred McGriff, Jack Morris, Mike Mussina, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling and Frank Thomas.

Critics will argue that everyone used steroids during that era, and how can you tell if the players you are voting for didn’t use as well? I can’t. But I do know that based on reasonable circumstantial evidence — grand jury testimony, a credible report, and failed drug tests — that these players did use.

What kind of judgment system is it when you can’t judge anyone because you don’t know about everyone?

...There have been questions about Bagwell and Piazza. But none of their names have surfaced in any court documents or failed drug test reports, so they don’t fall under the line in the sand I’ve drawn on Hall of Fame voting, and certainly their accomplishments are Hall of Fame-worthy.

McGriff and his 493 career home runs are my nod to non-steroid induced power; Morris, well, you had to be there, and Mussina was simply the best pitcher I’ve ever seen, day-in and day-out. His record of 270-153 carries a .638 winning percentage — the sixth-best in baseball history among pitchers with at least 250 wins. He did this in the American League, facing the designated hitter.

I struggled as always with Tim Raines, and Larry Walker as well, and revisit both every year, based on the ballot.

Repoz Posted: December 23, 2013 at 04:37 PM | 66 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: December 23, 2013 at 04:55 PM (#4623070)
His record of 270-153 carries a .638 winning percentage — the sixth-best in baseball history among pitchers with at least 250 wins. He did this in the American League, facing the designated hitter.
I always respected that Mussina hit for himself.
   2. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: December 23, 2013 at 05:12 PM (#4623081)
Morris, well, you had to be there

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   3. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: December 23, 2013 at 05:29 PM (#4623093)
Use all ten ballot spots.

Selected several guys that have a good chance of induction this year, in Maddux, Glavine, Thomas, and Biggio.

Selects Mike Mussina, who may need all the help he can get to survive the next few years.

It's not the exact ten people I would pick, but if everybody's ballot was as solid as this one, we'd start to see good things happen next month.
   4. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: December 23, 2013 at 05:41 PM (#4623107)
Not that I have a specific problem with Mussina, but I just don't understand how you can write about his winning percentage, and then add on a comment about doing in the AL, as if that made it tougher. If you were discussing ERA, then fine.
   5. TJ Posted: December 23, 2013 at 06:11 PM (#4623138)
OK, let's just acknowledge that most ballots will be fine as far as who gets votes- it would be damn near impossible to put together a ballot that failed on that account due to the overwhelming number of qualified candidates, unless there is malice involved. But the underlying problem still exists, and it is visible in the comments made by voters about their choices. Take Loverro here with his nuggets of wisdom such as:

McGriff- "McGriff and his 493 career home runs are my nod to non-steroid induced power..." OK, McGriff hit a lot of home runs. Tell us why that's enough to be in the HOF. Present some points to counter the anti-McGriff position (Is McGriff significantly better than the lower tier of HOF first basemen? Does it matter if he isn't? Why are his home run numbers so impressive when he played in an era where both suspected and clean players hit a lot of homers? Stuff like that...)

Morris- "Well, you had to be there..." What about those who were there a lot more than you who aren't voting for Morris? What are they missing? What was there that makes up for his inferior statistical record?

Mussina- Already well covered by above posts.

This is the problem- not that voters will submit lousy ballots, but that they will still be using lousy reasoning in filling out those ballots. This year most of the blind squirrels will find acorns, and they should keep doing so for the foreseeable future because of the ballot overcrowding. But the long term issue still remains of the rationale BBWAA voters have used (and continue to use) in making their calls...

As a whole, these guys aren't doing a better job of submitting quality ballots- the ballot overcrowding just makes their job of submitting quality ballots easier...
   6. dlf Posted: December 23, 2013 at 06:23 PM (#4623153)
As a whole, these guys aren't doing a better job of submitting quality ballots- the ballot overcrowding just makes their job of submitting quality ballots easier...


The crux of the problem is that is not their job. Their job - excluding the political cartoonists - is to write informative articles about the day to day of the game almost never with any historical perspective. They are trained to entertain, not to offer scholarly opinions across generations of players. It is no accident that narrative plays a huge role in the selection of players.
   7. TJ Posted: December 23, 2013 at 06:27 PM (#4623158)
The crux of the problem is that is not their job. Their job - excluding the political cartoonists - is to write informative articles about the day to day of the game almost never with any historical perspective. They are trained to entertain, not to offer scholarly opinions across generations of players. It is no accident that narrative plays a huge role in the selection of players.


Well said, dlf...
   8. Gotham Dave Posted: December 23, 2013 at 06:34 PM (#4623160)
Political cartoonists are also the only newspaper employees dumber and less insightful than sportswriters. Although, like sportswriters, there are a handful that are worth a ####. Can we turn this thread into a political cartoons derail? I don't think we'll be hurting for HoF threads, after all.
   9. OsunaSakata Posted: December 23, 2013 at 06:40 PM (#4623163)
Not that I have a specific problem with Mussina, but I just don't understand how you can write about his winning percentage, and then add on a comment about doing in the AL, as if that made it tougher. If you were discussing ERA, then fine.


It's like when I hear that pitchers can't win in Coors Field. Last time I checked, as long as one of the teams wins and there's no forfeit, one pitcher walks out of Coors Field with a win. There are many difficulties with pitching there and it's likely your ERA will get worse. But getting a win in Colorado is just as easy as it is anywhere else.
   10. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: December 23, 2013 at 06:44 PM (#4623166)
Although, like sportswriters, there are a handful that are worth a ####.

I can't speak for all political cartoonists but know two -- one on the right, another on the left -- who are smarter than just about every baseball columnist not named Robothal Rosenthal.
   11. Gotham Dave Posted: December 23, 2013 at 06:48 PM (#4623168)
Well, there is the matter of the mental effect of giving up an extra run per 9 than you're used to, and maybe trying to make adjustments that are ill-advised. Clayton Kershaw can go in there and give up four runs, get a win, and then go back to dominating. But a Rockies pitcher giving up lots of runs all the time might end up making some consistently bad decisions and making his situation worse. This can be addressed with good coaching but I'm sure it's a real problem.

But yeah, I think someday somebody on the level of Kershaw or Verlander or F Hernandez will end up in Colorado and dominate year in and year out. I really doubt that it's impossible to do. I mean, if Pedro Martinez could put up sub-2 ERAs in the late 90s AL then there's pretty much no environment that can't be overcome with enough talent.

Of course, I'm more or less talking out of my ass and people have been studying this for 20 years now. So I'm very willing to be proven wrong.
   12. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: December 23, 2013 at 07:12 PM (#4623180)
Ubaldo Jimenez pitched at (ahem) a pretty high level there in '09 and '10. I'm sure someone better could sustain a nice run in Colorado.
   13. madvillain Posted: December 23, 2013 at 08:01 PM (#4623195)
@2 , that was my reaction as well. What a load of bs.
   14. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: December 23, 2013 at 08:19 PM (#4623202)
Not that I have a specific problem with Mussina, but I just don't understand how you can write about his winning percentage, and then add on a comment about doing in the AL, as if that made it tougher.


The American League went 1535-1420 in inter-league play during Mussina's career. This suggests that the American League had a higher level of competition. (Although I don't think that was the reason the author was thinking)
   15. Srul Itza Posted: December 23, 2013 at 08:30 PM (#4623207)
But getting a win in Colorado is just as easy as it is anywhere else.


Has anyone studied whether this is true for starters? I mean, of course, somebody has to get a win, but when runs are easier to come by, do starters tend to have shorter outings, and are more leads given up by bull pens? I have no idea, but I would be interested in the distribution of wins between starters and relievers in Coors, as compared other venues (It probably already exists somewhere, but I don't know where to look).

For all I know, the distribution could be essentially the same, but I don't think we should necessarily assume that to be the case for an extreme venue.
   16. Brian White Posted: December 23, 2013 at 08:35 PM (#4623210)
Political cartoonists are also the only newspaper employees dumber and less insightful than sportswriters. Although, like sportswriters, there are a handful that are worth a ####. Can we turn this thread into a political cartoons derail? I don't think we'll be hurting for HoF threads, after all.


Totally relevant: http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2109#comic
   17. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 23, 2013 at 08:38 PM (#4623212)
Joe Sheehan, writing in his newsletter:

That's the problem. It's not that there are 17 players on this ballot with pretty good cases for the Hall. It's that there are at least six players on this ballot who have no business still being under consideration for the Hall of Fame. This isn't a talent-depth issue, a ballot-size issue or anything else. It's a steroids issue. It's not a backlog, it's a frontlog. The seven marked players returning from last year's ballot are again going to eat up 1250-1350 ballot slots, 30-35% of the total. Then they're going to do it again next year, and the year after that, and for years to come, making it impossible for qualified Hall of Famers who aren't inner-circle types to gain ground in the voting.

   18. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 23, 2013 at 08:41 PM (#4623216)
But getting a win in Colorado is just as easy as it is anywhere else.



Has anyone studied whether this is true for starters?

Offhand, I'd say there's almost no chance that starting pitchers (the only ones for whom wins really matter) are more likely to pick up wins in Coors than in other places. You're less likely to go five innings and the lead is more likely to change hands in the later innings in a high run-scoring environment than a lower one.

   19. cardsfanboy Posted: December 23, 2013 at 08:56 PM (#4623221)
I know I keep beating on this here dead horse but.... the evidence for Sosa is
Sosa was reportedly on the 2003 list of players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.



Really? That is your reason for keeping him out? I hope that also keeps this guy for voting for Ortiz when his time comes. Seriously people believe the leaked rumor, because it confirms their suspicions, it's a bs reason to accept something that has never been verified or even repeated from a second source.
   20. cardsfanboy Posted: December 23, 2013 at 09:03 PM (#4623222)
Not that I have a specific problem with Mussina, but I just don't understand how you can write about his winning percentage, and then add on a comment about doing in the AL, as if that made it tougher.


The funny part, is that it probably made it easier. If he was quoting ERA, then I could see why facing the DH is tougher, but win/loss percentage? In the NL, because of pinch hitting for the pitcher can increase the liklihood of a pitcher being pulled before he should have been. (and yes I realize that in the DH league it's possible that they are pulled later than they should have been...just think that happens less often) Basically Mussina gets pulled while still in the lead, with enough of a cushion that his winning percentage doesn't take a hit, while his NL brethren get pulled earlier than they should in a close game, giving more opportunities for the bullpen to screw over the win.

This is of course theoretical, I guess I could go and look at winning percentages for starters in the AL vs NL over the course of a decade to verify this.

But getting a win in Colorado is just as easy as it is anywhere else.


Have to disagree with that, as mentioned lack of innings is going to hurt a player in that regards.
   21. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: December 23, 2013 at 09:13 PM (#4623224)
OK, McGriff hit a lot of home runs. Tell us why that's enough to be in the HOF. Present some points to counter the anti-McGriff position (Is McGriff significantly better than the lower tier of HOF first basemen? Does it matter if he isn't? Why are his home run numbers so impressive when he played in an era where both suspected and clean players hit a lot of homers? Stuff like that...)


McGriff is a HOF player because he was the best offensive threat in baseball for four or five years there, he hit damned near 500 homeruns even though his peak was prior to the offensive explosion of 1993, he contributed to pennant winning teams as their best hitter, and he was usually in the top 10 players in the league for a decade. The only reason *not* to vote for McGriff is if you compare his statistics to the offensive explosion era of 1993-2008. You should no more compare his career to Jeff Bagwell than you would compare Greg Maddux to Bob Gibson.

Fred McGriff is a HOF caliber player. Once you realize that, you can choose to vote for him as one of your ten choices this year. Even if a "better player" gets left off. HOF voting isn't an ordinal ranking of career WAR values. It's an either/or check box.
   22. madvillain Posted: December 23, 2013 at 09:49 PM (#4623240)
Sosa seems pretty obviously to have been on PEDs, although the evidence, other than his name on that list, is all circumstantial. But evidence it still is: 1) he was caught cheating earlier with the corked bat, this is obviously a guy that wanted to be great and wasn't adverse to using methods not allowed in order to do so. 2) Body shape changed in a Bonds'esque manner. Much like Bonds, Sosa was a wiry strong type that turned into a Superman'esque beefcake later in his career. 3) Radical performance increase, hey, the stuff works right?

I don't care that he used, but it seems fairly obvious to me that he was on the juice, as obvious as McGwire and almost as obvious as Bonds.

McGriff is a HOF player because he was the best offensive threat in baseball for four or five years there


Fred might have a HOF case, but this isn't true, not even close. Never led the league in oWAR, was 2nd once and 4th another time, his best other finish? 10th.
   23. Booey Posted: December 23, 2013 at 10:47 PM (#4623257)
McGriff is a HOF player because he was the best offensive threat in baseball for four or five years there


I've been a McGriff supporter from the beginning and while I wouldn't go this far, he did have 7 straight years in the top 5 in OPS and the top 4 in homers. That ain't bad. His OPS+ for this span was 157, 165, 153, 147, 165, 144, and 157. He also posted a 142 in 1999 and a 144 in 2001. That's 9 full seasons with an OPS+ over 140. I wonder if people would see him differently if his great rebound seasons in 1999 and 2001 happened in 1995 and 1996 instead, giving him all 9 of those 140 OPS+ seasons in a row?
   24. cardsfanboy Posted: December 23, 2013 at 11:30 PM (#4623270)
1) he was caught cheating earlier with the corked bat, this is obviously a guy that wanted to be great and wasn't adverse to using methods not allowed in order to do so. 2) Body shape changed in a Bonds'esque manner. Much like Bonds, Sosa was a wiry strong type that turned into a Superman'esque beefcake later in his career. 3) Radical performance increase, hey, the stuff works right?


I really hope you are paraphrasing the idiocy of the typical sports writers. Because that is one of the dumbest reasons for anything, ever.

McGriff is a HOF player because he was the best offensive threat in baseball for four or five years there


Not seeing it, one season leading the league in ops+... his peak years would be 1988-1994 I would assume is what you are referring to. At best he was the third best offensive player in the game at that point, behind Bonds and Thomas. But heck Kevin Mitchell has an argument as being the fifth best.

Rk              Player OPS+  RC WAR/pos    G   PA   AB   R    H  2B 3B  HR RBI  BB IBB  SO HBP  SB CS   BA  OBP  SLG   OPS
1         Frank Thomas  184 630    28.7  644 2845 2271 463  741 158  8 142 484 525  54 369  12  13 11 .326 .449 .590 1.040
2          Barry Bonds  170 873    56.9 1018 4308 3550 719 1051 216 29 218 653 692 169 522  23 241 76 .296 .410 .557  .967
3         Jeff Bagwell  155 438    23.0  570 2435 2075 346  641 129 16  92 382 286  38 351  32  45 18 .309 .394 .520  .914
4         Fred McGriff  155 800    35.3 1037 4353 3684 644 1062 186 16 242 667 619  90 814  16  42 21 .288 .390 .545  .935
5       Kevin Mitchell  153 589    22.9  842 3353 2936 463  846 159 20 186 575 355  79 500  22  17 21 .288 .365 .546  .911
6          Ken Griffey  149 654    37.0  845 3606 3180 518  972 194 19 172 543 374 100 477  18  88 41 .306 .379 .541  .920
7         Jose Canseco  148 574    25.4  798 3461 2989 550  819 137  7 207 627 399  41 811  40 118 56 .274 .364 .532  .896
8           Will Clark  146 737    32.8 1009 4301 3721 605 1126 217 32 143 657 494 102 629  27  48 18 .303 .383 .493  .876
9     Rickey Henderson  143 710    43.6  898 3979 3227 712  930 159 14 106 350 690  28 421  32 416 81 .288 .416 .445  .860
10        Albert Belle  141 431    14.7  612 2579 2293 347  654 133 12 144 477 224  29 455  24  45 23 .285 .350 .542  .893
11        Mark McGwire  140 504    22.8  821 3307 2732 439  663 108  1 186 530 510  41 607  23   5  5 .243 .362 .487  .849
12     Danny Tartabull  140 597    19.0  864 3624 3078 480  836 190  9 165 578 507  38 838  13  22 14 .272 .374 .500  .874
13        Paul Molitor  138 771    33.4 1003 4539 4006 692 1280 231 45 101 511 454  51 419  20 178 42 .320 .388 .475  .863
14       Bobby Bonilla  137 666    25.3 1014 4293 3745 600 1041 220 34 171 630 489  86 615   9  25 29 .278 .358 .492  .850
15         John Olerud  137 444    17.8  660 2639 2213 333  658 156  6  83 356 370  71 339  18   2  8 .297 .397 .486  .883
16   Darryl Strawberry  135 423    19.0  682 2800 2414 393  610 106 10 147 439 345  62 542  14  69 38 .253 .346 .488  .834
17       David Justice  134 449    18.3  657 2694 2307 379  637 101 14 130 419 358  39 402  11  28 28 .276 .374 .501  .875
18           John Kruk  134 556    19.1  895 3561 3013 464  895 162 30  74 440 505  68 517   2  38 16 .297 .394 .444  .839
19      Edgar Martinez  133 411    21.8  639 2592 2223 356  670 147  7  62 263 314  19 289  23  23 14 .301 .390 .457  .848
20     Rafael Palmeiro  132 705    29.9 1051 4511 4009 628 1204 247 24 138 560 408  56 444  35  54 20 .300 .366 .477  .844
21    Mickey Tettleton  132 563    23.5  908 3707 3025 474  748 138 13 164 486 636  58 852  16  11 24 .247 .378 .464  .842
22          Wade Boggs  131 701    37.0  993 4491 3810 629 1214 249 26  42 390 617 107 294  16   8 16 .319 .412 .431  .842
23       Kirby Puckett  131 710    31.8 1039 4511 4154 630 1341 265 28 121 686 271  55 530  32  64 36 .323 .365 .487  .853
24       Cecil Fielder  130 513    15.3  813 3404 2963 457  770 117  4 197 619 395  50 772  20   0  3 .260 .348 .502  .850
25          Tony Gwynn  130 618    26.3  926 4033 3656 520 1216 208 40  44 430 315  96 166   5 113 50 .333 .383 .447  .831 


Many of the guys below him provide defensive value and baserunning value, at best, McGriff at his peak, was one of the ten best players in the game, but he was never, even for one season, the best player in the game nor was he ever for any stretch of time, the best offensive player in the game.

That isn't a knock on him, and I have him as a viable candidate, but no reason to make up stuff to help his point, that just makes you following in the steps of a Jack Morris/Jim Rice supporter.
   25. Walt Davis Posted: December 23, 2013 at 11:44 PM (#4623273)
1) he was caught cheating earlier with the corked bat, this is obviously a guy that wanted to be great and wasn't adverse to using methods not allowed in order to do so.

This came later in his career. And the excuse he gave (that he grabbed his BP bat forgetting it was corked) was at least supported by the video evidence -- i.e. it was not his typical bat, it was not the one he'd been using earlier in that game if I recall).

Also it's a corked bat, not roids. That's like saying somebody with a speeding ticket is more likely to have committed armed robbery.

2) Body shape changed in a Bonds'esque manner. Much like Bonds, Sosa was a wiry strong type that turned into a Superman'esque beefcake later in his career.

He certainly hit the weight room. Superman-esque is in the eye of the beholder. This description is equally true of, for example, Jeff Bagwell.

3) Radical performance increase, hey, the stuff works right?

Not really. His HR/FB was above league-average at 21. He took a step up at 24 -- typical -- and again at 29 -- also pretty typical. His AB/HR in 96 was 12.5; in 00 was 12.1; in 03 was 12.9 (with all intervening years lower).

And my personal favorite:

In 1998, Sosa hit 66 HR on an ISO of 339 and 9.7 AB/HR vs. a league average of 34.6
In 1961, Maris hit 61 HR on an ISO of 351 and 9.7 AB/HR vs. a league average of 35.8

So Sosa's unbelievable transformation was to turn himself into Roger Maris. Maris also had seasons of 12.8 and 13.6 which are in line with Sosa's non-crazy years cited above. The difference between the two is that Sosa went crazy 3 times to Maris doing it once. Maris had a bit of a troubled life and may have succumbed to the pressure of chasing Ruth; Sosa hit the weight room and seemed to be having a blast in 98.

And Maris's big jump came at age 25. From 22-24, his AB/HR was 23.7; from 25-28, it was 12.8. From 22-24, Sosa's AB/HR was 23.1; from 25-28, it was 15.5.

Between the war and 1993, a player had a qualified season with 11 or fewer AB/HR 10 times -- 3 of those came in 1961. (Trivia: Mantle is obviously one, who was the third?) The 4 most recent were Aaron, Stargell, McCovey and Mays. Aaron and Mays were both "wiry strong types" who went on to hit over 600 HR. Aaron posted a 9.8 AB/HR at the age of 39 and led the league from 37-39 with numbers that look pretty standard for Sosa's peak. Mays's AB/HR peak came at ages 30-35 (with one exception). Griffey is another one who hit over 600 and he averaged 24.9 HR/AB from 19-22 then was at 12.9 at 23 and averaged 11.9 from 23-30. Reggie was kinda wiry in his younger days -- his AB/HR were pretty consistent throughout his career but his biggest seasons came at 23, 34 and 36 (3 different stadiums I notice), the last two leading the league. Schmidt was wiry and he led the league 5 times in his 30s and had his peak from 29-31. Banks was wiry and had 4 early seasons under 14 AB/HR including one leading the league.

Another tidbit ... from 1962 to 1992, Wrigley always had a PF over 100, peaking at 113 and roughly 105 from 86-92. From 1993-2001, Wrigley had a PF of about 100. I would guess it's HR PF was still higher than that but that's how much the context had changed during the sillyball era, Wrigley was an average-scoring park.

Obviously Sosa's transformation wasn't expected, couldn't have been predicted. But that's always true in retrospect for guys who put up huge numbers. So, yeah, Sosa was a strong wiry type, developing power as strong, wiry types often do. Then he hit the weight room in ways that (obviously more talented) guys like Mays, Aaron or even Griffey never did.

Of course he might well have had help. I'd be surprised if he didn't at least try PEDs (possibly inadvertently) at some point but that's true of every player that played during that era.
   26. madvillain Posted: December 24, 2013 at 12:14 AM (#4623282)
I expected I would come up against opposition for that post but I stand by it. My personal experience as someone who has been in a lot of weight rooms is that there are skinny guys that balloon up to very ripped, very big guys, and that from the locker room talk and weight room talk its not just hard work (although that is a huge part of it) that got them there. Heck in 2001 in high school I knew guys that did roids, and one of them was a skinny kid looking to make the us ski team. Roids are like pot, available to anyone looking, that's my opinion.

The ironic thing is the guys that take PEDs aren't slackers they are freaking the hardest workers. Sosa transformed his body kudos to him I just think like so many hard working skinny guys he had a little scientific help.

I find the bat explation laughable. In d3 baseball guys have their bats picked out by the end of spring. That a mlb player didn't know what bat he was going to the plate with is absurd IMO, as absurd as the majority of 'I didn't know what was in the powder' explanations. These are pro athletes their whole life revolves around such knowing such things. Any half serious body builder knows it, I am sure the vast majority of pros know it.


Again, my opinions based mostly on what I have seen as someone tangentially involved in higher level athletics and body building through my years.
   27. cardsfanboy Posted: December 24, 2013 at 12:22 AM (#4623287)
It still doesn't defend the "if it looks like..."argument.

I think that is as silly as the backne argument or any other argument. I knew plenty of guys who found weight lifting and got big, pretty fast, without using anything more than basic protein shakes. I just don't think it's reasonable to convict someone based upon looks.
   28. TJ Posted: December 24, 2013 at 02:39 AM (#4623320)
McGriff is a HOF player because he was the best offensive threat in baseball for four or five years there, he hit damned near 500 homeruns even though his peak was prior to the offensive explosion of 1993, he contributed to pennant winning teams as their best hitter, and he was usually in the top 10 players in the league for a decade.


Rickey, while a bit hyperbolic, at least raises more than one point in his defense of McGriff. Let's see if his points can be used to make a persuasive case for McGriff in comparison to five HOF first basemen- Harmon Killebrew, Willie McCovey, Eddie Murray, Tony Perez, and Orlando Cepeda:

Was McGriff the best offensive threat in baseball for four or five years? No, but his seven-year peak from 1988 to 1994 shows a player who was a top ten hitter and top five power hitter, which compares well with Murray and beats the bottom tier guys Perez and Cepeda, all of whom have peaks comparable in years. McCovey's peak is similar in length, but better than McGriff's, and Killebrew is on another planet in comparison.

McGriff hit damned near 500 homers even though his peak came before the Silly Ball Era. True, but misleading, as the Silly Ball Era helped everyone hit more homers, and McGriff played through the entire period. Clean or no, his home run totals during those years must be considered in context.


McGriff contributed to pennant-winning teams as their best hitter. True. McGriff played on five teams that made the post-season, and was the best (or key) hitter on at least two, maybe three, of them. The only comp who has a better record than that is Killebrew, and all comps except McCovey were regulars on teams that made multiple post-season appearances.

McGriff was usually one of the ten best players for a decade. False- his peak wasn't that long. McGriff wasn't one of the ten best players for any length of time- but this is also irrelevant, since we are comparing him to HOF first basemen. The record shows that McGriff quite probably was one of the ten best run creators through his peak (somewhere in the middle of that pack), and one of the top five power hitters. Murray is a good comp here, and one could argue that McGriff holds a slight edge on Murray. McGriff does trail Killebrew and McCovey here, but is way ahead of Perez and Cepeda.

Bottom line- You could use this comp to create a viable argument that Fred McGriff is a worthy HOFer. He wasn't as good as Killebrew and McCovey, but he was a lot better than the clear bottom tier guys, and is about even with Eddie Murray, and McGriff was closer to McCovey than he was to Perez and Cepeda.

Or you could just say that "McGriff has as many homers as Lou Gehrig!" and be done with it...
   29. Booey Posted: December 24, 2013 at 02:53 AM (#4623321)
Or you could just say that "McGriff has as many homers as Lou Gehrig!" and be done with it...


Exactly! Voters were so impressed with 493 homers that the last guy to hit exactly that many was inducted almost immediately after retirement, with no waiting period at all. A little consistency from the voters is all I ask...
   30. boteman digs the circuit clout Posted: December 24, 2013 at 03:23 AM (#4623323)
A little consistency from the voters is all I ask...

Don't hold yer breath.
   31. Sunday silence Posted: December 24, 2013 at 03:55 AM (#4623325)
Then he hit the weight room in ways that (obviously more talented) guys like Mays, Aaron or even Griffey never did.



You go on and on about Sosa, you write a small chapter about him and yet you just seem to gloss over what is obvious:

That baseball guys in the 1990s suddenly got bigger and more muscled than anything we had seen before in baseball.

How does that happen if it wasnt for chemicals? I know that Gehrig and Jimmy Foxx were muscled guys. I think they may have been just as muscled as say Frank Thomas. But I dont recall anyone in the 60s or 70s blowing up like that i.e. putting on muscle that fast and putting it onto slender bodies as thick as the guys in question. The only guys in the 80s who blew up like that were in football, college and NFL.

I agree you cant simply condemn someone on how they looked, it violates a lot of what we believe in as "fair" or what we think this nation stands for. But it is hard to deny that athletes bodies changed and changed very quickly in ways that did not happen uptil about 1976.

Because at that point in the mid 70s suddenly the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line had all the muscle heads in the NFL. Kolb, Brown, Webster, Courson, and whoever else. Their arms were bigger than almost everybody else and bigger than just about anyone previous in the NFL.

THen in the early 80s suddenly everyone in college football started to "blow up". that's a term that was coined back then because everyone knew exactly what it meant. Suddenly you had guys like Steinkuhler, and Rimington and Mandarich all big as houses. All bigger than anything before in college. Just like overnight....

This happened all over in sports. Olympic sprinters, Olympic swimmers (even the E Germans admit this going as far back as 72). Basically almost overnight, all these athletes in all these sports transformed their bodies.

THen it happened in baseball at some point. I dont know what year but it happened all of sudden and suddenly tons of ballplayers looked like nobody before them. Just like in all the other sports.

So what do you think? Suddenly by coincidence athletes learned to work out harder? That no one had thought of that? Do you have any other explanations for how that might have happened in all those sports at all those times?

So if you want to write 10 chapters about Sammy Sosa, or 15 volumes about Barry Bond's workout regimen, you ought to at least state what is blatantly obvious to anyone who was alive and paying attention. If you want anything you say to be taken at all seriously by people reading this stuff a hundred years from now.

You make it sound as if Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds suddenly discovered weight lifting and no one else had.
   32. bjhanke Posted: December 24, 2013 at 06:25 AM (#4623333)
"Morris, well, you had to be there" Huh? Was Morris a hypnotist or something? That WOULD explain a lot. - Brock Hanke
   33. dlf Posted: December 24, 2013 at 09:33 AM (#4623350)
But I dont recall anyone in the 60s or 70s blowing up like that i.e. putting on muscle that fast and putting it onto slender bodies as thick as the guys in question. The only guys in the 80s who blew up like that were in football, college and NFL.


Brian Downing, Carlton Fisk, Lance Parrish, Lenn Sakata ...
   34. John Northey Posted: December 24, 2013 at 09:53 AM (#4623362)
I recall from the mid-80's on through the 90's a lot of 'wow, he has added a lot of muscle' each spring. Often the guys doing that would have troubles with everything but power as I recall, thus leading to the 'workouts aren't miracles' attitude in the 80's. I suspect steroids were in use but until the mid-90's weren't as effective thus not widespread due to people misusing it to build muscle rather than targeting it with good trainers and the like. I suspect Canseco was the canary in the mine (ignored by all but players who went 'huh, might work') and McGwire '98 the siren going off (all players going 'dang, that really works') and Bonds '01 the collapsing mine shaft (congress, 'Game of Shadows') thus impossible to keep ignoring.
   35. Gonfalon B. Posted: December 24, 2013 at 10:07 AM (#4623369)
It started no later than the 1963 San Diego Chargers:

"I was sitting there having lunch one day, and Alvin Roy came around with this little cup with Dianabol in it. I didn't know what Dianabol was or [what] a steroid was, and he said, 'Take these; it will help you build muscle,'" Walt Sweeney says. "I said 'OK, man, I want to do that.'"
If players didn't take the pills, Sweeney says they were fined $50, the same amount they made for each exhibition game.
"I think less than 5 percent of the guys never took them," says Paul Maguire, a former linebacker and punter and longtime announcer who now works for ESPN.
"The linemen did, and they started looking like Popeye a month later," Walt Hadl says.

...

In 1958, the Ciba pharmaceutical company in Geneva developed an artificial form of testosterone called methandrostenolone. Ciba called it "Dianabol" and sold it in pill form. John Ziegler started experimenting with it and, before the 1960 Olympics in Rome, he told his friend Bob Hoffman, the coach of the U.S. weightlifting team, that American lifters should start taking it if they wanted to catch up to the Soviets. Hoffman had his doubts, and the lifters themselves weren't sure there was any point to taking a pill, either. So they competed clean, and were crushed. The Soviets took five of seven possible gold medals; the United States took one.
From that point on, the U.S. team used Dianabol as part of its training.

...

There was never a question, they agree, about whether they might be cheating. If the Chargers tried to keep the pills secret, Al LoCasale says, it wasn't because they felt they were doing anything wrong.
"It was a competitive edge," he says. "There was a lot we weren't going to tell anybody that had nothing to do with the pink pills."

...

Houston Ridge apparently was one of a number of players during the mid-to-late 1960s who were given steroids before they arrived at Chargers training camp.
"I do know that Houston at San Diego State was a 210-pound linebacker, and then when he came to us, he was 275," Ron Mix says. "I was surprised because I didn't know that was still going on."
   36. Chris Needham Posted: December 24, 2013 at 10:13 AM (#4623374)
This is the problem- not that voters will submit lousy ballots, but that they will still be using lousy reasoning in filling out those ballots


This was posted way up, and it's making the mistake that what's in the column is the sum-total of the thought the writer has put into it. It's a newspaper column. It's bound by word counts. If he's taking short cuts in describing his thoughts here, it doesn't mean he's scratching his ass and determining whether or not to vote on a player if he winces when he smells his finger.
   37. alilisd Posted: December 24, 2013 at 11:05 AM (#4623399)
Yeah, Sosa hit the weight room and maybe took a little creatine in his protein shake. That's all it takes to build and maintain a physique like that during a six month season of nearly daily competition and regular travel. Do any of you denying the obvious enormous changes in muscle mass on some playersyers have any experience or first hand knowledge of AAS users?
   38. Morty Causa Posted: December 24, 2013 at 11:18 AM (#4623405)
That steroids actually synthesize to create muscle tissue is something the steroid excusers give a bye to. Nothing to see here, move along, is the attitude.
   39. cardsfanboy Posted: December 24, 2013 at 11:52 AM (#4623437)
Yeah, Sosa hit the weight room and maybe took a little creatine in his protein shake. That's all it takes to build and maintain a physique like that during a six month season of nearly daily competition and regular travel. Do any of you denying the obvious enormous changes in muscle mass on some playersyers have any experience or first hand knowledge of AAS users?


Plenty of people historically have maintained good muscle mass without any 'roid' cheating. It's utterly ridiculous to make a claim contrary.

Do I personally think Sosa used? Of course I do, but there is no EVIDENCE other than hysterical nonsense from judgemental a-holes who didn't have the physique or willpower to hit the gym hard.
   40. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 24, 2013 at 12:06 PM (#4623449)
That baseball guys in the 1990s suddenly got bigger and more muscled than anything we had seen before in baseball.

How does that happen if it wasnt for chemicals? I know that Gehrig and Jimmy Foxx were muscled guys. I think they may have been just as muscled as say Frank Thomas. But I dont recall anyone in the 60s or 70s blowing up like that i.e. putting on muscle that fast and putting it onto slender bodies as thick as the guys in question. The only guys in the 80s who blew up like that were in football, college and NFL.


Yea, it's not as if baseball coaches weren't actively telling players not to lift weights, cause it would "tighten them up" and ruin their batting stroke all the way up through the 80s.

You don't seem to know anything about baseball history, do you?
   41. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 24, 2013 at 12:08 PM (#4623453)
I expected I would come up against opposition for that post but I stand by it. My personal experience as someone who has been in a lot of weight rooms is that there are skinny guys that balloon up to very ripped, very big guys, and that from the locker room talk and weight room talk its not just hard work (although that is a huge part of it) that got them there. Heck in 2001 in high school I knew guys that did roids, and one of them was a skinny kid looking to make the us ski team. Roids are like pot, available to anyone looking, that's my opinion.


You seem to have spent a lot of time in weight rooms watching other guys, and fantasizing about what they do in their private time that would fit your personal narrative.
   42. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: December 24, 2013 at 12:11 PM (#4623456)
My view on Sosa is this:

1) You can always add someone to the Hall of Fame, but can never remove them.
2) It doesn't matter if a player is inducted this year, in 10 years, or in 1000 years.

So it makes sense to me to be conservative about such things. Wait until more information is in, if need be.
   43. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 24, 2013 at 12:11 PM (#4623457)
That steroids actually synthesize to create muscle tissue is something the steroid excusers give a bye to. Nothing to see here, move along, is the attitude.


That's why all the prime suspects spent more time in the weight room and worked out harder than other players, to provide a cover story for the magic pills that grow muscles without any effort.

Are some confusing steroids with Popeyes magic spinach?
   44. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 24, 2013 at 12:11 PM (#4623459)
That baseball guys in the 1990s suddenly got bigger and more muscled than anything we had seen before in baseball.

How does that happen if it wasnt for chemicals?


With a few exceptions, MLB players didn't start working out until the 1990s.

Working out, you may have heard, will build muscle mass. With or without steroids.
   45. Morty Causa Posted: December 24, 2013 at 12:12 PM (#4623461)
I see what you did there.

But it doesn't create muscle tissue.
   46. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 24, 2013 at 12:17 PM (#4623471)
It's like when I hear that pitchers can't win in Coors Field. Last time I checked, as long as one of the teams wins and there's no forfeit, one pitcher walks out of Coors Field with a win. There are many difficulties with pitching there and it's likely your ERA will get worse. But getting a win in Colorado is just as easy as it is anywhere else.


Well, for one thing you're likely to get pulled sooner in a high run environment than you would be otherwise (your pitch count gets run up, you're giving up more runs, etc.). Getting pulled sooner reduces your chance of a win. It leaves your "win" more in the hands of the bullpen. Plus, in a high run environment, the opponent is more likely to score off the pen than they would otherwise.

Secondly, if Coors is your home field then you may be consistently running up a higher pitch count or at least need more pitches to get through a hitter and you're getting dinged left and right with hits and home runs and runs and maybe you're more tired overall during the season or you're making adjustments that end up being counter productive.

So yes, I can see plenty of ways it's harder to get a win in Coors (during its heyday).

   47. Morty Causa Posted: December 24, 2013 at 12:18 PM (#4623472)
That's why all the prime suspects spent more time in the weight room and worked out harder than other players, to provide a cover story for the magic pills that grow muscles without any effort.

One more gnat to wave.

Who's claiming that you don't have to do anything with weights?

But, really, I will claim it in a limited sense just for a seasonal argument sake: even you don't do weights, it gives those who regular use it an advantage in overcoming injury and hurt. That's why doctors often put you on them for a whole assortment of ailments. Does anyone think it doesn't?

You don't know what the problem is, or if there is really a problem, unless you start with facts. And all the handwaving in the world doesn't alter the facts.
   48. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 24, 2013 at 12:18 PM (#4623473)
In 1998, Sosa hit 66 HR on an ISO of 339 and 9.7 AB/HR vs. a league average of 34.6
In 1961, Maris hit 61 HR on an ISO of 351 and 9.7 AB/HR vs. a league average of 35.8

So Sosa's unbelievable transformation was to turn himself into Roger Maris. Maris also had seasons of 12.8 and 13.6 which are in line with Sosa's non-crazy years cited above. The difference between the two is that Sosa went crazy 3 times to Maris doing it once. Maris had a bit of a troubled life and may have succumbed to the pressure of chasing Ruth; Sosa hit the weight room and seemed to be having a blast in 98.

And Maris's big jump came at age 25. From 22-24, his AB/HR was 23.7; from 25-28, it was 12.8. From 22-24, Sosa's AB/HR was 23.1; from 25-28, it was 15.5.


In 1958, the Ciba pharmaceutical company in Geneva developed an artificial form of testosterone called methandrostenolone. Ciba called it "Dianabol" and sold it in pill form. John Ziegler started experimenting with it and, before the 1960 Olympics in Rome, he told his friend Bob Hoffman, the coach of the U.S. weightlifting team, that American lifters should start taking it if they wanted to catch up to the Soviets. Hoffman had his doubts, and the lifters themselves weren't sure there was any point to taking a pill, either. So they competed clean, and were crushed. The Soviets took five of seven possible gold medals; the United States took one.
From that point on, the U.S. team used Dianabol as part of its training.


The big news on this thread is that Walt and Gonfalon have proven Maris was on steroids.

If Sammy must have been juicing to perform those feats, and Maris performed the same feats, ergo, Maris was taking so much Dianabol his hair fell out.
   49. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 24, 2013 at 12:20 PM (#4623477)
McGriff is a HOF player because he was the best offensive threat in baseball for four or five years there, he hit damned near 500 homeruns even though his peak was prior to the offensive explosion of 1993, he contributed to pennant winning teams as their best hitter, and he was usually in the top 10 players in the league for a decade. The only reason *not* to vote for McGriff is if you compare his statistics to the offensive explosion era of 1993-2008. You should no more compare his career to Jeff Bagwell than you would compare Greg Maddux to Bob Gibson.


I agree that McGriff is a HOFer. He's got the fantastic peak and had a good prime/career.

The argument against him appears to be defense. He gets dinged a bit on defense whereas had bWAR shown him as a good defender I think people would support him.

I have a hard time holding a player out or assigning so much weight to defense at first base.
   50. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 24, 2013 at 12:22 PM (#4623481)

I've been a McGriff supporter from the beginning and while I wouldn't go this far, he did have 7 straight years in the top 5 in OPS and the top 4 in homers. That ain't bad. His OPS+ for this span was 157, 165, 153, 147, 165, 144, and 157. He also posted a 142 in 1999 and a 144 in 2001. That's 9 full seasons with an OPS+ over 140. I wonder if people would see him differently if his great rebound seasons in 1999 and 2001 happened in 1995 and 1996 instead, giving him all 9 of those 140 OPS+ seasons in a row?


Certainly people would, which shows the silliness of some of the methodology on display here.
   51. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 24, 2013 at 12:26 PM (#4623487)
I expected I would come up against opposition for that post but I stand by it. My personal experience as someone who has been in a lot of weight rooms is that there are skinny guys that balloon up to very ripped, very big guys, and that from the locker room talk and weight room talk its not just hard work (although that is a huge part of it) that got them there. Heck in 2001 in high school I knew guys that did roids, and one of them was a skinny kid looking to make the us ski team. Roids are like pot, available to anyone looking, that's my opinion.


Yes, and that's a good argument that a great many players from the era were using steroids, so it's silly to single Sosa out based on speculation without singling out every other player from Griffey to Thomas.
   52. AJMcCringleberry Posted: December 24, 2013 at 12:41 PM (#4623499)
Yes, and that's a good argument that a great many players from the era were using steroids, so it's silly to single Sosa out based on speculation without singling out every other player from Griffey to Thomas.

Yeah, isn't Frank Thomas the biggest guy on the ballot?

Anyway, I'm also in the McGriff is a HOFer camp, though he wouldn't make my top 10.
   53. Booey Posted: December 24, 2013 at 01:48 PM (#4623543)
Anyway, I'm also in the McGriff is a HOFer camp, though he wouldn't make my top 10.


Mine neither. In fact, I think I ranked him last amongst the 19 candidates I supported on this ballot. Just a ridiculously deep crop of deserving candidates.
   54. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 24, 2013 at 02:18 PM (#4623571)
If McGriff made the HOF it would be a very minor injustice, and a great day for baseball and it's fans.

He's much better qualified than Rice or Morris, and a guy you can feel happy for without reservation.
   55. alilisd Posted: December 24, 2013 at 03:04 PM (#4623597)
Do I personally think Sosa used? Of course I do


Why not stop here? We all know there's no EVIDENCE, but there's plenty of compelling circumstance. I don't understand the passionate denials, or the naive insistence it was all hard work in the weight room. We have testing results, we have first hand accounts from players, and we have admissions of personal use. We have BALCO and Biogenesis. There were obviously plenty of guys using, and Sosa is an obvious candidate. No, there's no way to prove it beyond doubt, but I don't understand the need to defend him so vehemently. Why don't you just say, "I think it's pretty obvious he was using, but it's possible he wasn't."
   56. alilisd Posted: December 24, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4623601)
Who's claiming that you don't have to do anything with weights?


The actual studies of AAS which show groups receiving AAS, but not lifting weights, add muscle mass. Of course if you workout and use AAS, the effects are much more dramatic. You might even end up looking like Sammy Sosa or Mark McGwire circa 1998, or Barry Bonds circa 2001.
   57. cardsfanboy Posted: December 24, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4623602)
Why not stop here? We all know there's no EVIDENCE, but there's plenty of compelling circumstance


There isn't compelling circumstance. There is "it looks like a witch" level of evidence and that is it.

We don't have testing results. We have one article from the New Yorker that has never been backed BY ANYTHING credible. What player has given a first hand account of Sosa? When did Sosa admit? What does Sosa have to do with Balco or Biogenesis?

Again, nobody is denying PEDs existed during the 90's, they are denying individual witch like accusations towards a particular player with ZERO evidence to back it up.
   58. Publius Publicola Posted: December 24, 2013 at 03:13 PM (#4623604)
I really like this guys ballot.
   59. Publius Publicola Posted: December 24, 2013 at 03:36 PM (#4623613)
Sosa's opening statement before congress was the lamest string of legalese anybody had ever heard, which every sportswriter seemed to comment on the next day. And then he inexplicably stunk out the joint the following year and was then out of baseball. If anybody was made by steroids, it was Sosa.
   60. cardsfanboy Posted: December 24, 2013 at 03:48 PM (#4623619)
Before I thought I read the dumbest thing ever posted in the history of this board, but I take it back. 59 claims that honor.

It's post like 59 that led to the creation of bbtf. Something that stupid could only be uttered by a guy who is a professional baseball writer, or even worse, a sports analyst. You take the most idiotic things ever uttered (Keanu Reeves is a good actor, Creationism is science, Soccer is vying for the fourth major sport in the U.S. etc.) and it pales in comparison to this Monty Python thing that Publicus has going on in regards to witches....err ped users.
   61. Publius Publicola Posted: December 24, 2013 at 07:54 PM (#4623707)
My reply to that would be to assume you're too stupid to recognize even a really, really inept attempt to deceive you.

Fortunately, for those who care, the voters have displayed a more discerning judgement than yours. Which isn't much.
   62. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 24, 2013 at 08:14 PM (#4623714)
My reply to that would be to assume you're too stupid to recognize even a really, really inept attempt to deceive you.

Fortunately, for those who care, the voters have displayed a more discerning judgement than yours. Which isn't much.


Yawn.
   63. Sunday silence Posted: December 24, 2013 at 09:08 PM (#4623724)

Yea, it's not as if baseball coaches weren't actively telling players not to lift weights, cause it would "tighten them up" and ruin their batting stroke all the way up through the 80s.

You don't seem to know anything about baseball history, do you?


Calm down, man.

And maybe lay off the roids for a few weeks, you know?
   64. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2013 at 11:01 PM (#4623745)
You can have several different physique goals when you're lifting weights. You can lift weights to increase your mass or you can lift weights and not gain lots of mass
   65. Morty Causa Posted: December 24, 2013 at 11:55 PM (#4623759)
You can't lift weights and not increase your mass--or at least keep your muscle mass from deteriorating. The more strenuously you do it, the greater the results. But, it takes steroids synthesizing with protein to create muscle tissue. And that in combination with a strict weight-training workout regimen can make a tremendous difference.
   66. Publius Publicola Posted: December 25, 2013 at 10:29 AM (#4623799)
You can't lift weights and not increase your mass--or at least keep your muscle mass from deteriorating.


Sure you can. You can actually lose weight but gain strength at the same time. All you have to do is not lift for bulk but lift for tone and flexibility. You will add some muscle mass but not a lot but all the exercise and the increase in basal metabolic rate will cause a decrease in the fat layer, and muscle weighs more than fat. So you can get smaller, stronger, lighter and leaner all at the same time.

One thing you notice about professional bodybuilders is how paper thin their skin looks. That's because all the anabolic steroids they take burns that away. You can't really replicate that without steroids. It's too damned hard to do it naturally.

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