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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Matsui homers in debut

Hideki Matsui hit a home run in his 2012 debut.  His debut makes this his 10th MLB season.  Should he get the Ichiro discount and be elected to the Hall of Fame?

Foghorn Leghorn Posted: May 29, 2012 at 10:47 PM | 33 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, japan, rays, yankees

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   1. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: May 30, 2012 at 09:34 AM (#4142854)
500 home runs, man.
   2. DanG Posted: May 30, 2012 at 09:46 AM (#4142866)
His debut makes this his 10th MLB season.
Unlike his former teammate and fellow import, Orlando Hernandez, who is credited with only nine MLB seasons.
   3. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 30, 2012 at 10:34 AM (#4142919)
Yeah, 500 home runs and no steroids allegations really ought to be enough to get the Ichiro discount.
   4. PreservedFish Posted: May 30, 2012 at 10:46 AM (#4142928)
Should he get the Ichiro discount and be elected to the Hall of Fame?


Assuming this is an honest question* I would say no. I would only apply the "Ichiro discount" to a player that clearly performed at a HOF level in MLB. A player whose HOF argument lacked only longevity. And a player that almost certainly would have been a no-doubt HOFer if he had begun his career in America.

*The fact that the link goes to a Mets homerun is unusual.
   5. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 30, 2012 at 10:46 AM (#4142929)
Matsui had three good MLB seasons, Ichiro had 10.
   6. BDC Posted: May 30, 2012 at 11:08 AM (#4142951)
If you double Matsui's MLB career – giving him about 10,000 PAs, 350 home runs, and an OPS+ of about 120 – you get the career of Chili Davis or Luis Gonzalez. Allow for him being somewhat better in his 20s than in his 30s, and you get into a range somewhere between Dwight Evans and Billy Williams. (Sammy Sosa is in the picture, too, and I suppose it's on the outside range of possibility that Matsui could have had something like Sosa's peak under the exact right circumstances.) Billy Williams is on the outside range of possibility, as well. Everything would have had to break right for Matsui for him to put together a Billy-Williams-like career.

In other words, I don't think he's that great a ballplayer – a fine player, with a very creditable pro career, but so is Luis Gonzalez.
   7. DKDC Posted: May 30, 2012 at 11:10 AM (#4142954)
Of course he should be in, and I think Ichiro is a perfect comp.

Matsui is basically an injury-plagued Ichiro with a shorter MLB career, and no baserunning or defensive value.
   8. McCoy Posted: May 30, 2012 at 11:16 AM (#4142964)
He could have had baserunning and defensive value if he chose to.
   9. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: May 30, 2012 at 11:21 AM (#4142974)
I like the suspense of this link, where we all think "What team is Matsui playing for?", we click on the link and it turns out to be about a Mets-Phillies game, we say "What? He's on the Mets? Or is it the Phillies? How did I not hear about that?", and then it turns out to be something more plausible.
   10. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 30, 2012 at 11:23 AM (#4142978)
I think Matsui would be a horrible choice for the HoF (not that I think he's in any danger of being elected), and I don't think he's very much like Ichiro at all. Ichiro has a near-HoF dossier based solely on what he did in MLB; as PreservedFish notes, the only problem is that his career is a bit short. But since he was an MVP-type player right from his first day in MLB, there's every reason to think he was a HOF-level player for years before he arrived in Seattle.

Matsui's MLB career, on the other hand, isn't anywhere near HoF level. It's only if you add in the entirety of his Japanese career that you can start to make a Hall of Fame argument for him, and that opens up a horrible can of worms. If Matsui is under consideration, why not Kaz Sasaki? Hideo Nomo? Masato Yoshii? Kenji Johjima?
   11. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: May 30, 2012 at 11:27 AM (#4142986)
Of course he should be in, and I think Ichiro is a perfect comp.

Matsui is basically an injury-plagued Ichiro with a shorter MLB career, and no baserunning or defensive value.


Right! If we all agree Bobby Higginson should be in the Hall of Fame, Matsui has to be in there too.
   12. Der-K thinks the Essex Green were a good band. Posted: May 30, 2012 at 11:31 AM (#4142991)
FWIW, saw him in Durham a few days back - he looked awful at the plate. Here's a pic...
   13. SoSH U at work Posted: May 30, 2012 at 11:43 AM (#4142998)

Unlike his former teammate and fellow import, Orlando Hernandez, who is credited with only nine MLB seasons.


I could be wrong, but I think that's because his former teammate and fellow import only played major league ball for nine seasons. (-:

   14. Gonfalon B. Posted: May 30, 2012 at 11:49 AM (#4143004)
That's only because you're not counting his Federal League stats.
   15. DA Baracus Posted: May 30, 2012 at 12:13 PM (#4143019)
I like the suspense of this link, where we all think "What team is Matsui playing for?", we click on the link and it turns out to be about a Mets-Phillies game, we say "What? He's on the Mets? Or is it the Phillies? How did I not hear about that?", and then it turns out to be something more plausible.


It's quite the Mets hijack.
   16. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: May 30, 2012 at 07:00 PM (#4143454)
That's only because you're not counting his Federal League stats.

Union Association, represent!
   17. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: May 30, 2012 at 08:59 PM (#4143579)
It's only if you add in the entirety of his Japanese career that you can start to make a Hall of Fame argument for him, and that opens up a horrible can of worms. If Matsui is under consideration, why not Kaz Sasaki? Hideo Nomo? Masato Yoshii? Kenji Johjima?
The argument has been that Ichiro was restricted, and played well when here. He's certainly NOT HOF level (118 OPS+ and declining for a corner OF). Ichiro got to come over on the crest of his peak, while Matsui had to wait until decline phase.

The previous argument against those other guys was that they didn't make 10 years in MLB at any decent level. Nomo staggered around for most of his career. That isn't true of Hideki. Had he been able to come over at 26 or 27, and hit 60 more home runs and got to "double that", then he'd be a pioneer. But like Larry Doby, no one ####### cares.
   18. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 30, 2012 at 09:54 PM (#4143691)
He's certainly NOT HOF level (118 OPS+ and declining for a corner OF).


Well, that's just wrong. For one thing, HOF voters don't care what his OPS+ was. For another, using OPS+ is the best way to underrate him, since it undercuts players with higher OBPs, and ignores his durability, defense, basreunning, and the various records he holds.

Ichiro got to come over on the crest of his peak, while Matsui had to wait until decline phase.


Ichiro played his first major league game at the age of 27. Matsui played his first major league game at the age of 28.


That isn't true of Hideki. Had he been able to come over at 26 or 27, and hit 60 more home runs and got to "double that", then he'd be a pioneer.


Matsui came over at 28, so giving him an extra year or two is no big deal. Giving him 60 more home runs, too, would add approximately nothing to his HoF case. It wouldn't even make him Lee May. (And you don't get to bring him over to the U.S. earlier and still get to "double that.")

As far as being a pioneer, I have no idea what you're talking about.
   19. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 30, 2012 at 10:44 PM (#4143783)
Well, that's just wrong. For one thing, HOF voters don't care what his OPS+ was. For another, using OPS+ is the best way to underrate him, since it undercuts players with higher OBPs, and ignores his durability, defense, basreunning, and the various records he holds.


He is an excellent fielding corner OF with a career .287 EqA in 1801 games, with season highs of .317, .313, .305, .291, and .289.

Dwight Evans was a very good fielding corner OF with a career .293 EqA in 2606 games, with season highs of .326, .322, .319, .313, and .311.

I don't support Evans for the Hall, but even if you do, Ichiro doesn't have his resume. And is fading fast. A .242 EqA last year, and a .238 EqA so far this year.
   20. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 30, 2012 at 11:35 PM (#4143821)
I think Ichiro's offense is a little better than EqA says - we have had about 15 years since EqA was invented, and we have better pbp-based estimations of offensive value. Ichiro's baserunning and double play avoidance are better than EqA estimates using less granular data. (EqA, like most non-linear run estimators, also slightly overvalues big OBP/SLG numbers). The other drawback of EqA is that it isn't expressed in runs, so we don't know what the difference between "excellent" and "very good" fielding is in terms of EqA points. 5? 10? 20?

I'd put Dewey in the Hall happily. I'd take Dewey's MLB career over Ichiro's. Their peaks are similar. Ichiro has several more years of prime level play in NPB which bring his career value up to a solid HoF level. (I know you don't count those, and neither does Chris, but I think that's been hashed out more than enough.)

Dewey, entirely unlike Matsui, is a reasonable comp for discussion.
   21. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: May 30, 2012 at 11:36 PM (#4143822)
Tom,
you are aware of the baseball age, and Matsui's was 29, not 28. And NMW, for a corner OF, Suzuki doesn't measure up. Or we'd have a much larger HOF. And HOF level isn't necessarily who is in the HOF.
   22. DanG Posted: May 31, 2012 at 10:36 AM (#4144051)
Unlike his former teammate and fellow import, Orlando Hernandez, who is credited with only nine MLB seasons.



I could be wrong, but I think that's because his former teammate and fellow import only played major league ball for nine seasons. (-:
El Duque was also a major leaguer in two seasons he spent rehabbing injuries. In 2003 and 2008 he played in the minors while he was making a multimillion dollar MLB salary.

Of course, the HOF wants to keep its rules simplistic, in harmony with the mentality of the electorate, so they would never give Hernandez credit for being a major leaguer in those two seasons.
   23. SoSH U at work Posted: May 31, 2012 at 10:47 AM (#4144067)
El Duque was also a major leaguer in two seasons he spent rehabbing injuries. In 2003 and 2008 he played in the minors while he was making a multimillion dollar MLB salary.


Bobby Bonilla is still making millions off the Mets. He ain't a major leaguer.

I know this is part of your crusade Dan, but I just don't get this line of thought. El Duque is only considered to have played nine MLB seasons because El Duque only played big league ball in nine seasons. That's the rule that's been established, and I don't see a reason to change what historically constitutes a big league season because of its effect on Hernandez. You want to make a case that nine is enough, fine. You want to petition for an exemption for players who began their careers overseas, fair enough. But I don't see a credible case for 9=10.
   24. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 31, 2012 at 11:11 AM (#4144110)
Unlike his former teammate and fellow import, Orlando Hernandez, who is credited with only nine MLB seasons.


"Credited." Lol. As if it's some obscure ruling that tossed out a 10th MLB season in which he played.

He is only "credited" with 9 because he only played in 9.

El Duque was also a major leaguer in two seasons he spent rehabbing injuries. In 2003 and 2008 he played in the minors while he was making a multimillion dollar MLB salary.


If his career was so short/he was so injury prone that he couldn't appear in 10 MLB seasons, that is pretty much prima facie evidence that he doesn't deserve serious consideration for the Hall. It's not like he was Albert Pujols who put up a stunning 9 seasons and then got injured.

And health is a skill. I'm sure Mark Prior had Hall of Fame talent, but he got hurt and didn't play.
   25. Lassus Posted: May 31, 2012 at 11:24 AM (#4144124)
And health is a skill. I'm sure Mark Prior had Hall of Fame talent, but he got hurt and didn't play.

I agree with the second sentence, but health is not a skill, it's just a fact.
   26. Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: May 31, 2012 at 11:59 AM (#4144167)

I agree with the second sentence, but health is not a skill, it's just a fact.


I think health is a skill to a certain extent. Knowing how to treat your body in order to ensure maximum durability is definitely a skill. Being a healthy ballplayer is a lot like being healthy in general: if you do everything right, you'll probably be better off but maybe not. The players who don't treat their bodies right don't make MLB most of the time, though.
   27. SoSH U at work Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:09 PM (#4144176)
I think health is a skill to a certain extent. Knowing how to treat your body in order to ensure maximum durability is definitely a skill. Being a healthy ballplayer is a lot like being healthy in general: if you do everything right, you'll probably be better off but maybe not. The players who don't treat their bodies right don't make MLB most of the time, though.


I think it's also true that everyone's body responds differently to injury. Something that sidelines J.D. Drew for two weeks may only knock Johnny Damon out for four days and Cal Ripken not at all. Now, on the one hand, it's not a skill in the sense that one can necessarily master it. But on other hand, and the one that's relevant to evaluating baseball players, as long as this particular trait manifests itself on the field, we have to consider it a skill (rather than simply luck).

   28. PreservedFish Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:53 PM (#4144212)
Well, it's a distinction without a difference. Health is like height, which is not a "skill," but is certainly a real attribute that has a direct effect on an athlete's performance.
   29. BDC Posted: May 31, 2012 at 01:45 PM (#4144268)
Dewey, entirely unlike Matsui, is a reasonable comp for discussion

True. As I mentioned upthread, a sanguine estimate for Matsui's potential career would be Dwight Evans, with a more "normal" arc in terms of aging. (A more neutral estimate would be Chili Davis, including the slide into fulltime DHing.) Whereas a sanguine estimate for Ichiro would be to give him Tony Gwynn's numbers through age 26. If you do that, he'd already be well past Gwynn on the all-time ML hits leaderboard. Hits may be overrated when they're mostly singles, but a guy with 3,250 of them, an MVP award, and (let's say) three batting titles is a Hall of Famer without getting into baserunning and defense.
   30. Ron J Posted: May 31, 2012 at 02:12 PM (#4144305)
#29 As I've said before, Matsui had better value in context that Ichiro! in Japan, while Ichiro looked likely to retain more of his value in MLB. (the primary issue being that Ichiro was a very good player despite not hitting many home runs. There are relatively cheap HR on offer in the Japanese leagues) I'm a value in context guy -- Matsui's Japanese career seems far more impressive to me that Ichiro's.

Also worth noting, Matsui played 3rd in Japan. No idea how well.
   31. DanG Posted: May 31, 2012 at 02:21 PM (#4144314)
Bobby Bonilla is still making millions off the Mets
BB-Ref shows Bonilla last drawing a major league salary in 2001, his last year in pro ball. Deferred payment arrangements are irrelevant to this discussion. By comparison, El Duque's last ML salary was in 2008, his 11th year in the big leagues. He then played two more pro years before retiring.
"Credited." Lol. As if it's some obscure ruling that tossed out a 10th MLB season in which he played.
I say “credited” because it points to the idiocy of using years played as the sole qualifier:

--in 2007 Jimmy Rollins played in 162 games and had 778 plate appearances. That counts as one season.
--in 2008 J.T. Snow played in no games and had no PA. He also gets credit for one season, for being included on the starting lineup card once.
--in 1908 Ed Walsh pitched 464 innings in 66 games. That counts as one season.
--in 1971 Larry Yount played in no games and did not throw a pitch. He gets credited for one season, for getting injured while warming up after being brought in to relieve.

You see the problem? Jimmy Rollins 2007 equals J.T. Snow 2008 equals Ed Walsh 1908 equals Larry Yount 1971. A season is a season, under the Hall’s rules; a player can theoretically be considered by the HOF screening committee without ever having batted or pitched. Someone should have told Ted Turner. Corky Miller (199 G, 575 PA) and Charlie Silvera (227 G, 541 PA) get consideration but not El Duque. How do you justify that?

If they had been tracking it at the time I think the HOF may have used service time, rather than years played. Corky Miller’s service time is 4 years, 9 days. Orlando Hernandez had 10 years, 117 days. Service time is a much more accurate gauge of these players’ relative merits than years played, as it is in the vast majority of cases.
   32. PreservedFish Posted: May 31, 2012 at 02:33 PM (#4144326)
You gotta draw the line somewhere, right?
   33. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 31, 2012 at 11:27 PM (#4144871)
To be completely clear, health/durability is part luck and part skill. But certainly the skill part is significant. Yes, there are fluke injuries, but some players are just injury prone. And I do believe that some players know how to play/dive/land so as not to hurt themselves.

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