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Monday, December 24, 2012

Peter Abraham: Eight votes for the Hall of Fame

Peter Abraham submits his ballot:

Here are the names I checked off on the Hall of Fame ballot:

Jeff Bagwell Craig Biggio Barry Bonds Roger Clemens Mike Piazza Tim Raines Curt Schilling Alan Trammell

And also explains his non-votes as well:

Toughest omissions: Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff. Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Larry Walker, Bernie Williams.

 

Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: December 24, 2012 at 05:01 PM | 170 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame

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   1. vivaelpujols Posted: December 24, 2012 at 09:20 PM (#4332059)
This is the best ballot I've seen yet. The only criticisms I have are not voting Larry Walker, and not even considering Kenny Lofton (who's going to get boned out the first ballot).
   2. Hysterical & Useless Posted: December 24, 2012 at 09:31 PM (#4332064)
Eight names on his ballot, and eight days of Hannukah. Coincidence? Conspiracy? What's your opinion? We'd like to know.
   3. LargeBill Posted: December 24, 2012 at 09:34 PM (#4332065)
Hard to even enjoy the good ballots when you realize it takes at least three of them to overcome one blank or nearly blank clown ballot.
   4. cardsfanboy Posted: December 24, 2012 at 09:44 PM (#4332067)
This is the best ballot I've seen yet. The only criticisms I have are not voting Larry Walker, and not even considering Kenny Lofton (who's going to get boned out the first ballot).


Yep, I do not see how you can vote for Edgar and not vote for Walker, they may have reached their values through different means, but there is pretty much nothing separating the two.

It's to the point I assume nobody is going to make it, so I'm looking for votes to keep people on the ballot. Every vote for Trammel, Lofton or others who I'm afraid might slip is what I'm looking for, not for ballots that I would put up(which wouldn't include Lofton, but I do not want him off the ballot, his candidacy deserves more scrutiny)
   5. Rob_Wood Posted: December 24, 2012 at 09:45 PM (#4332068)
A great ballot. I would feel better if he had not included Jack Morris on his list of toughest omissions.
   6. AROM Posted: December 24, 2012 at 10:46 PM (#4332088)
In a year like this, I'd only give a "best ballot" award to someone who filled out 10 names. But it's a pretty good one, and if 8 were the limit, I think he drew the line in the right place.
   7. PreservedFish Posted: December 24, 2012 at 10:52 PM (#4332089)
This is probably what my ballot would be.
   8. Baldrick Posted: December 24, 2012 at 11:04 PM (#4332091)
To me there are five slam-dunk obvious guys (Bonds, Clemens, Bagwell, Biggio, Piazza). Any ballot that lacks one of those five guys fails to cross the first hurdle. My second metric is where they stand on Raines and Trammell - two guys who have VERY strong cases but are often ignored. My third metric is to see whether they're wasting a vote on Jack F-ing Morris.

Any ballot which passes those three tests is a great ballot, regardless of what they do with the rest.

Now, I would like to see him fill up those last two slots, but that's a lot less important than the other stuff. There's no other player where you can't make a somewhat reasonable case for exclusion.
   9. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: December 24, 2012 at 11:10 PM (#4332093)
Can somebody give me the short version on how this site's groupthink came around to deciding that the roiders are AOK?
   10. vivaelpujols Posted: December 24, 2012 at 11:16 PM (#4332094)
To me there are five slam-dunk obvious guys (Bonds, Clemens, Bagwell, Biggio, Piazza)


I don't think Biggio is slam dunk at all. He's basically Kenny Lofton with a longer career and a worse peak. Replace Biggio with Schilling and I agree. I agree with your other two criteria.

Can somebody explain to me how this site's groupthink came around to deciding that the roiders are AOK?


i think the general consensus is that roids should be a performance issue rather than a moral issue. For a guy like McGwire, he's borderline with the roids, so you can easily make a case that he would not be HOF worthy without roids. If you tried to argue that with Bonds you probably belong in a loony bin.
   11. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: December 24, 2012 at 11:19 PM (#4332095)
Thank you for not biting my head off.
   12. Karl from NY Posted: December 24, 2012 at 11:24 PM (#4332097)
#9, it's some combination of all the following arguments:

1) Suspicion isn't proof. Bonds, Clemens, and most other alleged roiders never failed any test. The known "anonymous" positives from 2003 (Pettitte and A-Rod) get a pass since it's not fair to slam only the players unlucky enough to have their names leaked. By contrast, the only players with HOF candidacies and attributable positive tests are Palmeiro and Manny, and they do seem to have their cases at least discounted by our groupthink.

2) MLB and the media both reveled in the longball show seven ways to Sunday and to the bank. Backlash against it now is pure hypocrisy.

3) The natural bent of us stats geeks is that the numbers speak. We don't care how the bodies produced them.

4) It's merely one chapter in a long line of colorful baseball history, back through amphetamines and corked bats to spitballs. Those are all somewhere between ignored and romanticized today, as will be steroids in fifty years.
   13. Paul Antonissen Posted: December 24, 2012 at 11:29 PM (#4332101)
5) For much of the steroid era, "roiders" weren't cheating.
   14. cardsfanboy Posted: December 25, 2012 at 12:13 AM (#4332111)
To me there are five slam-dunk obvious guys (Bonds, Clemens, Bagwell, Biggio, Piazza). Any ballot that lacks one of those five guys fails to cross the first hurdle. My second metric is where they stand on Raines and Trammell - two guys who have VERY strong cases but are often ignored. My third metric is to see whether they're wasting a vote on Jack F-ing Morris.

Any ballot which passes those three tests is a great ballot, regardless of what they do with the rest.

Now, I would like to see him fill up those last two slots, but that's a lot less important than the other stuff. There's no other player where you can't make a somewhat reasonable case for exclusion.


Mostly agree. I can accept someone not voting for Clemens or Bonds because of suspicion, although I wouldn't agree with it, but that is about where I think the most aggressive line drawing should be. No way should Biggio, Piazza or Bagwell be kept off due to roid rumors)

   15. cardsfanboy Posted: December 25, 2012 at 12:17 AM (#4332112)
Can somebody give me the short version on how this site's groupthink came around to deciding that the roiders are AOK?


You could probably add

6. The writers had the inside information on this and it was their job to report on it, but instead of actually doing that, they decided access was better and along with the owners and fans, buried their head in the sand. You can't moralize if you are an active part of the group that allowed it to happen.

Ultimately I think it boils down to the league didn't care at the time, there is no reasonable cause to keep people out of the hall, who were doing what everyone else was doing, often times with encouragement from outside sources(management, fans, agents etc)

   16. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: December 25, 2012 at 12:29 AM (#4332115)
Also of note: Abraham is somebody whom we have past data for. He voted for Larkin, Raines, Trammell and Bagwell last year. So that means he didn't change his vote on any returning candidates.
   17. PreservedFish Posted: December 25, 2012 at 12:43 AM (#4332122)
There was group-wide revulsion at the idea of an asterisk on Bonds' record or, even more horribly, the idea that the statistical record actually be altered.

There's also lots of revulsion to the sanctimoniousness of writers on this subject. I think that's pretty significant. This community also typically has less patience or derives less enjoyment from underdog teams and players, your David Ecksteins and such, and I think that has less to do with the teams and players themselves than it does with the cloud of inane hype that surrounds them.
   18. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:10 AM (#4332131)
For a guy like McGwire, he's borderline with the roids, so you can easily make a case that he would not be HOF worthy without roids.


I don't understand why McGwire gets labeled a borderline guy so often ('roids aside). 12 AS teams, best AB/HR ratio ever, .394 career OBP, 8th all-time in SLG, 10th all-time in OPS, scores great on Black Ink and Hall of Fame monitor. That's a clear HOF in my book.

   19. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:16 AM (#4332132)
McGwire, he's borderline with the roids


Set rookie HR record, leading league in HR and slugging with a 164 OPS+ in a pitchers park, before ever taking steroids according to Canseco and all visual evidence.

After starting to take steroids (again according to Canseco) he averaged 128 OPS+ for 4 years and 608 games, ending in a 103 OPS+ season in which he hit .201 as his marriage unraveled.

Then at age 28, he got over his divorce and recommitted to baseball and working out. Over the next 9 years he averaged a 188 OPS+, among the greatest peaks ever. At age 37 his OPS+ dips to 105 and he quits. He lost 3 or 4 seasons to injury, but despite that could easily have finished top 15 in WAR among all first basemen had he hung around another year or two instead of 21st.

Then there are the records, the World Series, etc. if he's not a slam dunk HOF member you are a small hall guy indeed.
   20. vivaelpujols Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:22 AM (#4332135)
Yes that's all great if defense, baserunning and double plays don't matter at all. McGwire's bWAR is 58.7 which is 12th on this years ballot (and Piazza should be in front of him if you adjust for the fact that catchers can't get a lot of career WAR). He's around Edmonds/Dawson/Andruw which is borderline in my book.

Edit: obviously I love McGwire being a Cards fan, but that doesn't make him a HOF, especially given the era he played in.
   21. cardsfanboy Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:28 AM (#4332137)
Yes that's all great if defense, baserunning and double plays don't matter at all. McGwire's bWAR is 58.7 which is 12th on this years ballot (and Piazza should be in front of him if you adjust for the fact that catchers can't get a lot of career WAR). He's around Edmonds/Dawson/Andruw which is borderline in my book.


I don't think McGwire really fits there, McGwire goes into the Koufax hof school. Historic peak type of candidate.
   22. Baldrick Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:30 AM (#4332138)
I don't understand why McGwire gets labeled a borderline guy so often ('roids aside). 12 AS teams, best AB/HR ratio ever, .394 career OBP, 8th all-time in SLG, 10th all-time in OPS, scores great on Black Ink and Hall of Fame monitor. That's a clear HOF in my book.

Short career (only 7660 PA) combined with mediocre defense at a low-value defensive position.

He was really good at two things: hitting homeruns and drawing walks. Now, those are two of the best things to be good at. But they also bolster the force of the 'steroid-discount.'

I mean, I'd induct him. But he's not a slam-dunk like Bonds or Bagwell. So I can totally get why a somewhat modest steroid discount would knock him off the list.
   23. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:32 AM (#4332139)
I don't dislike WAR, but it really gets used a) too much and b) with too much confidence.

Mark McGwire is the most efficient player ever at achieving the best outcome in the game. Hall of Famer. Next question.
   24. tshipman Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:33 AM (#4332140)
I would vote this ballot + McGwire (who would be my last guy in), so I think this guy did a pretty good job.
   25. Karl from NY Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:38 AM (#4332141)
I don't understand why McGwire gets labeled a borderline guy so often ('roids aside).

.263 career BA.
No defensive or running value.
Only 1626 career hits!

He's perceived as an extremely one-dimensional player and that single dimension isn't enough for HOF enshrinement. We know he was historically good at two skills, both HR and BB. But the backlash against the sillyball era robs him of some credit for the former (separately from 'roids), and the latter is still ignored by all but us numbers geeks. The 70 HR might actually hurt him, seen as a gimmick. Roger Maris famously never made the HOF on the strength of a single season HR record, and also McGwire famously lost out on the MVP that season to Sosa.

McGwire is fighting a widespread perception bias against his type of hitter, thanks to lugnuts like Dave Kingman. If all you do is hit home runs, you probably also strike out a lot and don't play the game the right way and don't contribute holistically to your team with the little things like productive outs. The voters have no idea how historically unprecedentedly efficient he was at producing value with home runs, they just know he hit a bunch and didn't do much else.

And he's lacking in longevity. He always got hurt - he played 150 games only seven times. And he cratered out of baseball incredibly quickly after his HR record seasons. That he had a HOF career's worth of value packed into his short playing time is not at all immediately obvious and it's very easy to feel that his career lacked the bulk to cement immortality.
   26. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:51 AM (#4332145)
Can somebody give me the short version on how this site's groupthink came around to deciding that the roiders are AOK?


With all due respect to the previous explanations, here's the shortest version: libertarians + lawyers.
   27. vivaelpujols Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:58 AM (#4332147)
I don't think McGwire really fits there, McGwire goes into the Koufax hof school. Historic peak type of candidate.


Mac's 5 year peak was 1995-1999 with 5.4 WAR per season. Edmonds' 5 year peak was 2000-2004 with 6.2 WAR per season. Andruw's 5 year peak was 1998-2002 with 6.6 WAR season (obviously there is some doubt to Jones really being a +28 run defender over that time). Either way, I don't see Mac's peak as anything special.

Mark McGwire is the most efficient player ever at achieving the best outcome in the game. Hall of Famer. Next question.


Welp, you've convinced me. Obviously, I was stupid for looking at WAR. I should have just looked at HR/PA (which is actually included in WAR but whatever).

The only way you make Mac a clear HOF is if you only focus on his home runs and walk (and ignore his defensive, position and baserunning) or give him credit for injuries taking a toll on his career. I have no idea why you would do the first thing (unless you are taking the "fame" part literally) and if you do the second thing you'd have to do that for Edmonds and Andruw as well and they both become obvious HOFers too.
   28. LargeBill Posted: December 25, 2012 at 02:16 AM (#4332149)
26. What did Billy Ripken have against Elroy Face? Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:51 AM (#4332145)

Can somebody give me the short version on how this site's groupthink came around to deciding that the roiders are AOK?

With all due respect to the previous explanations, here's the shortest version: libertarians + lawyers.


Well, that's not quite right, I'm fairly conservative (to the right of Limbaugh) and have a strong disdain for lawyers yet I am also one who strongly believes the performance on the field should be on what we base any career evaluation. We want our players to do what they can get away with to improve their team's chances of winning and our past Hall of Fame selections demonstrate that preference. John McGraw was a great player and manager and is rightly in the Hall. However, he would do anything he could get away this to win a game. He'd hold the belt of a baserunner to keep him from getting a lead. Part of reason we have more than one umpire is McGraw's shrewd efforts to get an advantage from the HP umps blind spot. Do I agree with tripping base runners or grabbing their belt loops? Of course not, but it was part of the game when he played and he was one of the best of his era which should be our primary concern. Steroids were clearly in the leagues blind spot and players took advantage of that. Any player who did not take steroids when there was no testing wasn't doing everything they could to help their team win.
   29. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: December 25, 2012 at 02:31 AM (#4332151)
I too think of McGwire as on the cusp.

The low hit total, low PA total and one-dimensional aspect of his career lead me to that. Up until this year I thought of him as a sure thing - but this year I thought about base running and defense a lot as I watched Mike Trout and while I don't hold McGwire to that standard I realize that those parts of the game matter more than maybe I realized in the past.

I don't have any problem with someone wanting more from someone than JUST HR/BB.

I think this ballot - the 8 mentioned by Abraham - is the exact ballot I'd submit. I've actually been thinking about who the next two would be (based on AROM thinking that 10 HAD to be included) and McGwire is probably #9 and #10 is tricky. Palmeiro and Walker/Edgar are the options, but I think Palmeiro gets the nod for the counting stats. But Walker is right there and if Walker, then Edgar....

This ballot is a #####, and it's not nearly as tricky as the 2014 ballot is going to be.....
   30. J.R. Wolf Posted: December 25, 2012 at 02:33 AM (#4332153)
This guy's ballot is a Hall of Shame ballot.
   31. Walt Davis Posted: December 25, 2012 at 02:57 AM (#4332158)
On the BBTF roid history ...

#26 is closer than some of the others but misplaces too much of the blame.

The roid controversy here goes back, what, at least 12 years. Pre-BALCO certainly. In those days, the accusers really were nothing but "look at the size of him", "he got better in his 30s", the Vincent memo, "a friend tells me his hat size is 1/2 a size bigger than it used to be." If Chass had written about backne in real time we'd have had to deal with that for years.

It was pretty ridiculous. It wasn't a big story or a debate we got into as often but no matter how often you'd ask for evidence or present counter-evidence about roid effects or point out the Vincent memo meant nothing, there was no rational discussion. So the general consensus (if such a thing exists) was to push back against that stuff because it really was baseless.

Over time some reasonable and public evidence of use by some players came forward and then at least we had something to actually debate. Still it seems it was a few years before the "he only hit 10 HR last year but 30 this year" arguments finally fell off to the side. For all its occasional vitriol and seeming immortality, it's a much better discussion now than it was a decade ago.

On McGwire ... well, he's quite similar to Greenberg, Kiner, Mize and Allen (and Giambi and Edgar and maybe a few others). Relatively short career, awesome hitter (when healthy), nothing else. He's arguably the best of that bunch (although Greenberg, Mize and Allen all have cases) but it's a group of player who had to wait a long time for induction (Greenberg, Kiner), had to be inducted by the VC (Mize) or weren't inducted at all (Allen, presumably Giambi, maybe Edgar).

Now, sans roids, with all those HRs and 1998, I'm sure McGwire would have sailed in easily. But it is true that he's of a type that the BBWAA has never treated that well.

On walks (and McGwire) ... I guess I don't "give credit" for walks (in HoF debates) so much as I deduct for being a free swinger. Yes, McGwire had the skill ... to stand there and take pitches he couldn't hit very well. That's better than hacking at them no doubt but I'm not sure I've ever argued that an HoFer was over the borderline because he walked. Also there's a connection between ISO and walk rate so, to an extent, saying McGwire walked a lot is just saying, again, that he had a lot of power.

On WAR and the HoF ... True, nobody should rely solely on WAR. True, except in uninteresting comparisons, it should be the start of the conversation, not the end. But the way it was used here seems fine to me. The claim as I read it was that McGwire should be a clear, slam-dunk HoFer. WAR was cited to say "sorry, it's not clear" and I think WAR is more than sufficient to make that case.

I often point out what things were like pre-WAR. "McGwire was better than Walker, c'mon his OPS+ is 23 points higher." "But Walker was a much better runner and had a lot more defensive value." "Sure, but that can't possibly make up for 23 points of OPS+." "Yes it can." "No it can't." This is where WAR is a conversation starter -- based on careful, state of the art (such as it is) estimation by people who work really hard at this, Walker actually comes out on top. That doesn't mean he was definitely better than McGwire but it shows quite clearly that a guy with Walker's career can be as or more valuable than McGwire.

And JAWS tells the same story. (See my previous whining about some positional assignments for JAWS but ignore for now) They've got McGwire ranked as the #16 1B of all-time. His WAR7 (best 7 years of WAR, non-consecutive) is only 40. Guys like Gehrig, Foxx and Pujols are given credit for WAR7s around 60. Bagwell comes in at 47, Thome at 39, Helton at 45, Palmeiro at 37, Thomas 44, Giambi 40, Berkman 37, Cabrera 39, McGriff 41, Cash 40, Cepeda 39. Allen was 44, Greenberg 46, Mize 47, Kiner 41, Edgar 42, Sosa 42. Even his peak doesn't stand out.

Seeing as how I'd put at least Greenberg, Mize, Allen, Bagwell, Thomas, Thome, Palmeiro and Walker into the HoF, I'd have voted for McGwire too ... and might have filed my mythical vote for him this year if I didn't feel it was hopeless. It is at this point where one does "need" to start making the arguments as to why McGwire stands out from this crowd -- mainly things like the injuries (even some of his top 7 seasons he missed some time) and that he's arguably the greatest power hitter the game has seen and all the AS games.
   32. Srul Itza At Home Posted: December 25, 2012 at 03:01 AM (#4332160)
I don't think Biggio is slam dunk at all. He's basically Kenny Lofton with a longer career and a worse peak.


Maybe baseball is not the game for you.
   33. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 25, 2012 at 03:26 AM (#4332161)
Mac's 5 year peak was 1995-1999 with 5.4 WAR per season


From 1992 to 2000 he had 48 fWAR in 1,000 games or 7.7 WAR per every 162 games, bWAR has him at 42 and 7.0 WAR per 162 games. He was averaging over 70 runs per 162 on offense (around 8 WAR).. Sure it was broken up by injuries, but when he was able to play he was more dominant over a longer period than almost anyone else who played the game, especially offensively (he's 13th all time in OPS+).

If he had been healthy over those 9 years those extra 300-400 games would have been another 10-20 WAR and he walks in. Filling the hall with players who were never as good as McGwire just because they had much longer careers to rack up more WAR at a much slower pace is foolish. Of the 20 first basemen ahead of Big Mac in career WAR, only 2 played fewer games. Of all first basemen, only Allen, Greenberg, Mize, Brouthers, Bagwell, Conner, Pujols, Foxx, Gehrig, and Musial had a higher WAR per 162 games than Big Mac.

And he cratered out of baseball incredibly quickly after his HR record seasons


He didn't crater quickly, he hit 126 home runs with a 163 OPS+ over 3 seasons and 339 games, then quit out of frustration with the injuries. He didn't hang around and DH for another few years, to pad his career stats like WAR.

The Big Mac argument is simple and compelling. An all time dominant player whose career was cut short by multiple injuries, yet played long enough to finish in top 20 at his position in WAR, and a long list of important accomplishments including one of the most famous in baseball history. He's still 1st all time in HR rate, top 5 in walk rate, rookie HR king, he broke one of the most revered records in baseball, won a world championship and three League championships.

And we know the "steroid discount" should be small, since HR rates declined by less than 5% in the years after testing began (averaging 1.11 per game in 3 years before testing started and 1.07 per game in 3 years after). But bthe steroid discount applied should be even smaller for Big Mac than it should be for other players. He hit 49 HR in only 150 games as a clean 23 year old (53 HR/162), and suffered through years of worsening performance immediately after Canseco claimed to have introduced him to steroids.
   34. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 25, 2012 at 03:51 AM (#4332163)
His WAR7 (best 7 years of WAR, non-consecutive) is only 40. Guys like Gehrig, Foxx and Pujols are given credit for WAR7s around 60. Bagwell comes in at 47, Thome at 39, Helton at 45, Palmeiro at 37, Thomas 44, Giambi 40, Berkman 37, Cabrera 39, McGriff 41, Cash 40, Cepeda 39. Allen was 44, Greenberg 46, Mize 47, Kiner 41, Edgar 42, Sosa 42. Even his peak doesn't stand out.


Big Macs Top 7 seasons
bWAR/games

7.2/155
6.2/139
6.2/130
5.5/156
5.2/104
5.0/153
4.8/151

Honorable mentions
4.1/89
1.4/27

In combination his top 7 seasons encompassed 986 (edit, oops) games, averaging 141 per season, or less 6 full seasons. His 40.1 WAR works out to 7 WAR per full season.

That's the issue with McGwire, he was frequently hurt. But he was hugely dominant when he wasn't, in fact it's amazing he was averaging 7 war per 162 when that period included times he played hurt, or played after rehabbing an injury. But if you want to use a definition of peak that ignores dominance and dings him for not completing seasons, you also have to recognize he played enough to accumulate 70 WAR and that's more than enough to put him in the career HOF discussion on career WAR alone.

Then you add his career accomplishments, as he never toiled in obscurity, his greatest moments are some of baseballs greatest moments as well. It can't be the Hall of Fame without at least half of the Sammy/Big Mac team that provided one of the most exciting seasons in history.
   35. Bhaakon Posted: December 25, 2012 at 03:54 AM (#4332165)
And we know the "steroid discount" should be small, since HR rates declined by less than 5% in the years after testing began (averaging 1.11 per game in 3 years before testing started and 1.07 per game in 3 years after).


With the massive caveat that many other factors can have equal and likely greater impact on league-wide power, that comment is only true if you think a large percentage of players were juicing. If the true number was more like 10-20%, than that 5% league-wide power drop represents a pretty tremendous power decline from the individual steroid users.
   36. vivaelpujols Posted: December 25, 2012 at 04:15 AM (#4332168)
If he had been healthy over those 9 years those extra 300-400 games would have been another 10-20 WAR and he walks in.


You can say this about any player though. No one plays 162 games - most guys play 150 even if they are completely healthy. Edmonds, for instance, averaged 132 games per season over his 9 year peak. If you give him another 30 games per season that's another ~13 WAR and he's a slam dunk. Is anyone arguing that Jim Ed is a slam dunk?

Personally I'd put both of them in, but seriously, Mac is a borderline case.

Maybe baseball is not the game for you.


That's more a compliment to Lofton than it is a insult to Biggio. But there's no way you can put Biggio in the slam dunk tier alongside Bagwell, Bonds, Clemens and Piazza (and Schilling, IMO). He's right around the Walker, Lofton, Raines and Trammell tier to me.
   37. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 25, 2012 at 04:24 AM (#4332169)
.263 career BA.
No defensive or running value.
Only 1626 career hits!


Those are facts, and we haven't won a battle when those type of facts are still given so much weight outside this group.

.393 OBP (81st all time)
.588 SLG (8th all time)
.982 OPS (9th all time)
590 Batting Runs (25th all time)
Only a handful of players in history have a higher walk rate than McGwire, including Williams, Ruth, Bonds, Stanky, and 3 or 4 others. Big Macs .132 is barely behind Williams record .138.
He has 4957 Total Bases + Walks in 1874 games.

These are much more useful and valuable facts than the others, yet are almost unknown to sportswriters and fans.


   38. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 25, 2012 at 04:36 AM (#4332172)
With the massive caveat that many other factors can have equal and likely greater impact on league-wide power, that comment is only true if you think a large percentage of players were juicing. If the true number was more like 10-20%, than that 5% league-wide power drop represents a pretty tremendous power decline from the individual steroid users..


Sure, but it seems unlikely that only 10-20% of players increased their workout frequencies with steroids when word got around.

But another way to look at it is AB/HR for top players. 10th place on the list in the 3 years before testing ranged from 12.68-13.86. In the three years after testing it ranged from 13.57-14.38. On average it looks something like a 7% difference, in any measure not a large difference.

Of course in the 4th year post testing, Beltran was 10th with 12.44 HR/AB.
   39. Baldrick Posted: December 25, 2012 at 04:40 AM (#4332173)
That's more a compliment to Lofton than it is a insult to Biggio. But there's no way you can put Biggio in the slam dunk tier alongside Bagwell, Bonds, Clemens and Piazza (and Schilling, IMO). He's right around the Walker, Lofton, Raines and Trammell tier to me.

As the person who originally created the delineation in this thread, I suppose I should clarify. I don't mean to say that Biggio is a 'slam-dunk' HOFer in the sense that he towers above the others on the ballot (like Bonds or Clemens do). I just mean that I can't construct a reasonable argument to exclude him.

He was a pretty good hitter who played solid defense (until the last few years, I guess) at valuable positions. He has the WAR numbers to make it. He has the 3000 hits. He offered amazing positional flexibility. He had some nice speed. He has the unique thing with the HBP. He even had some meaningful black ink, despite playing C and 2B.

The point is that Biggio fits into the first category because I expect any reasoning human being (even one afflicted with sportswriteritis) to be able to slot him in as a HOFer.

All of the other guys in the same ballpark as him have question marks that I can reasonably see knocking them off the ballot. Edgar has the DH thing. Walker has Coors and doubt that park factors can accurately account for his value. Raines has the part-time role in his final decade, I guess a drugs issue, and the general stupidity of the electorate about singles vs. walks. Lofton has the fact that he's Kenny Lofton. Schilling has the fact that's he Curt Schilling. McGwire has PEDs. And so on.

Some of those guys might be technically as deserving as Biggio, but guys like Raines and Trammell go into my second category because I understand them to be cases needing PERSUASION in a way that Biggio doesn't.

Basically, anyone stupid (or obstinate) enough to exclude Biggio is very likely to be a lost cause on any other issues. Whereas someone who simply hasn't taken a serious look at Raines might still be brought on board.
   40. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: December 25, 2012 at 06:15 AM (#4332181)
The thing about McGwire (note: I would vote for him in a heartbeat because I think the HoF should be about capturing narrative and he has it in spades) is that he can very reasonably be seen as a product of his environment, not a timeless player who could succeed wherever, and I think this rubs people the wrong way (see e.g. Walker and Santo with their home parks, Ross Barnes, etc..) Here is what I mean by this:

McGwire hit a lot of fly balls. For whatever reason (steroids, juiced ball, strike zone, global warming, whatever), fly balls were anomalously likely to turn into home runs during McGwire's stint in the league. Here is the breakdown of McGwire's balls in play:

GB 1159 / FB 2171 (416 HR) / LD 818 (68 HR)

Compare this to Sosa:

GB 2649 / FB 2524 (507 HR) / LD 1354 (94 HR)

That's right: Sosa has a higher rate of HR/FB than McGwire does. McGwire's flyball ratio is anomalously high; McGwire hit a lot of home runs because he hit a lot of fly balls and a lot of them went out of the park. True, hitting fly balls is usually better than ground balls and McGwire surely would be a good home run hitter per fly ball in any age, but hitting fly balls was never as profitable a venture as it was during McGwire's career. People were hitting the ball harder in 1998 and fly balls are the ball type most affected by this; grounders and line drives are a bit less likely to turn into hits if hit more softly (actually, not sure how aggressive bbref's data source is on fliners, but softer might even be better for line drives in the general direction of outfielders). But fly balls are often out or homer depending on a small change in power which is a big swing.

I'm not sure if I buy this kind of reason as something that should keep a player out of the HoF (I certainly don't believe that taking unusual advantage of your situation should be docked for MVP) but I think people see McGwire as a product of his environment in addition to the value questions, and I think there is a fair amount of truth to that. McGwire's seminal skill is hitting home runs, but if we break that down into "hitting lots of fly balls" and "hitting the ball hard", I suspect not having checked thoroughly that McGwire is more exceptional at the first than the second, and overall, the first is not generally that useful a skill (as illustrated by McGwire, fly balls have a low BA which offsets their high SLG somewhat).

Lofton was a really great player. I'd vote for him over no one for sure. I'm sad he's going to be a one and done most likely.
   41. bjhanke Posted: December 25, 2012 at 07:56 AM (#4332189)
I have McGwire at the line between Inner Circle and Middle Circle; in other words, as a no-brainer. Bill James has him even higher than I do, as of the New Historical Abstract (Bill has him 3rd at 1B ever, which may be high, but can let out a lot of gas before dropping to Middle Circle, much less borderline). People forget that he had most of his career in a dreadful home run park in Oakland, and then hit homers at a record pace just as soon (meaning in the middle of the season he was traded to the Cards) as he moved to STL, which at the time was a neutral homer park. I first started following him seriously after 1987, when he set the rookie record. I know that 1987 was a hitters' year, compared to 1986 and 1988, but it was NOT a hitter's year compared to the 1990s or the 1920s or 30s, when most homer records got set. It is very seldom that someone sets any kind of record in a context that doesn't help that record. Even Sosa had Wrigley and the 1990s. Mac had a neutral ballpark and the 1990s, but he also set the single-season record by a large margin, not by 1 or 2 taters.

For example, Bob Gibson, in 1968, was a pitcher who lived on the high fastball and slider in one of the weakest years ever for offense, and in a ballpark where the outfield fences were so far away that they could look like they were beyond the horizon, and with Curt Flood and Lou Brock's speed to run those fly balls down, and with Dal Maxvill and Julian Javier to deal with the occasional grounder. He set an ERA record, but that makes sense. His context was all working for him. McGwire in 1987 had things working against him, and when he got out from that environment and into a more neutral one, he quickly proved to be the best pure homer hitter of all time (not the best hitter, but the best pure homer hitter). And his walk rates are WAY over what you get just for having power. See Willie Mays and Stan Musial. They were both greater hitters than Mac, but their walk rates are not nearly so high, even though they certainly instilled more of "teh fear" than Mac did. Same with Sosa. Mac is in Ted Williams/Babe Ruth/Lou Gehrig land. And, as mentioned above, he did not go to the AL when his defensive value was gone and add 5 years of DH to his WAR, like, say, Palmeiro did. Do you doubt that he COULD have gotten five more years of WAR as a DH if he'd wanted to enough to get the Cards to trade him or let him go free agent?

This is one of the things that the New Historical ranking system, based on Win Shares, has over WAR, which is why I always include WS in any evaluation for which I have the New Historical ranking. If you just pile on DH years to Win Shares, you end up with more career WS, but a lower WS/162 games and no effect on peak or prime. That generally cancels out, which is why Bill says that "hang around value" doesn't help much in his system. More raw WS, but a lower WS/162. No WAR system, as far as I know, makes that kind of balancing adjustment, so they tend to under rate Mac. - Brock Hanke
   42. DL from MN Posted: December 25, 2012 at 09:31 AM (#4332190)
This is my reasoning for Clemens and Bonds. All the allegations surrounding them are regarding the end of their career. Assume they did take steroids multiple times. The worst punishment for that is a ban from baseball. Enforce a "mandatory retirement" starting from the point they are alleged to have been using and they're still by far the two best players available. I see that as the most conservative position - end a player's career at the point they should have been caught. I cannot see how "cheat once and you never get a vote" makes any sense at all, especially with all the known cheaters already inducted.

That's probably enough to get me to avoid voting for Palmeiro but I'll still vote for McGwire.
   43. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: December 25, 2012 at 09:54 AM (#4332193)

With all due respect to the previous explanations, here's the shortest version: libertarians + lawyers.


This seems the most persuasive.
   44. Karl from NY Posted: December 25, 2012 at 10:38 AM (#4332198)

McGwire was a home run hitter. He was unbelievably fantastically unprecedentedly historically awesome at hitting home runs. But the voters don't know that. They can't distinguish between him and other big HR hitters like Kingman, Kiner, McGriff, Edmonds. They don't have the tools and insight to see that McGwire's HR and BB alone did create enough value for a HOF career.
   45. donlock Posted: December 25, 2012 at 10:56 AM (#4332201)
Why not one bit of support for Raffy? If he was caught using steroids in the 20th year of his career, does that rule out the first 19? It seems that most of the suspected cases had a peak value out of line with their careers (Sosa?)and this points the finger at them. He had a very long productive career, did not bulk up, continued to have defensive value and was considered a good teammate.

My guess is that he attempted to extend his career by experimenting. He had apparently passed all the drug tests up to that point. For all we know, he may have actually used a tainted syringe as he said.

Funny how everyone turned on him but are much more willing to forgive and forget with others.
   46. The District Attorney Posted: December 25, 2012 at 11:58 AM (#4332208)
I agree that McGwire is borderline on the merits. But I do think he was better than Sosa, and although I'm not sure he was better than Edgar, I'll give the benefit of the doubt to the guy who at least had to attempt to play a position. So Mac makes my ballot (along with Walker and the eight guys whom BTF recently "elected.")

I do care about PED to an extent, and I'm not sure whether I'd vote for Mac had he not confessed. But he did, and to me, it's better to forgive people who confess to things: both morally, and from the utilitarian point of view of encouraging further truth-telling. Clearly, most people don't care about the confession in the slightest. Poz discussed it in his most recent Poscast, but it's rarely even mentioned that it occurred. It's depressing to me to think that it makes no difference at all.
   47. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: December 25, 2012 at 12:03 PM (#4332210)
Back to the subject of the thread: Peter Abraham has submitted the best ballot we've seen yet. As was said earlier, though, the problem is that it will take three ballots like this to overcome one dopey blank ballot.
   48. tshipman Posted: December 25, 2012 at 12:43 PM (#4332215)
Why not one bit of support for Raffy? If he was caught using steroids in the 20th year of his career, does that rule out the first 19? It seems that most of the suspected cases had a peak value out of line with their careers (Sosa?)and this points the finger at them. He had a very long productive career, did not bulk up, continued to have defensive value and was considered a good teammate.


For me, I don't vote for Palmeiro because he was never an MVP caliber player in his career. Despite being healthy his entire career, he was never the best player at his position. He played in high-offense parks his whole career, which boosted his overall counting stats. It also likely got him extra PA's over the course of his career. He also was at the DH quite a bit when his defense at first started to decline.

If I'm going to vote for a 1B to make the HOF (where there is already a glut), he has to have been the best 1B in the league at least a few times. Also, all the subjective "gray area" stuff counts against him.
   49. tshipman Posted: December 25, 2012 at 12:46 PM (#4332216)
I agree that McGwire is borderline on the merits. But I do think he was better than Sosa, and although I'm not sure he was better than Edgar, I'll give the benefit of the doubt to the guy who at least had to attempt to play a position. So Mac makes my ballot (along with Walker and the eight guys whom BTF recently "elected.")


Oh, I am. That one's easy.

McGwire had 633 offensive runs above replacement in 7660 PA's. Edgar had 643 in 8674 games.

Mac was a better hitter per PA and actually played the field. To me, that's an easy call.
   50. John Northey Posted: December 25, 2012 at 12:59 PM (#4332217)
Palmeiro is an interesting one. Near the end of his career, even before he was caught, he was viewed as borderline despite the 3000 hits and 500 HR. His black ink is just 8 (average HOF'er is 27). He just made 4 All-Star Games, a very low total. 5th is the highest he ever placed for MVP. 3 Gold Gloves but one was when he was a DH (no one said GG voters were thinking when voting). 2 silver sluggers. Just once was in the top 10 for bWAR. I could go on easily but I think the point is clear - he was a steady player but not a star at any point in time, he just stayed at a high near AS level for a lot of years and as a 1B/LF/DH that just won't cut it.
   51. DL from MN Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:10 PM (#4332221)
Edgar had 643 in 8674 games.


Anyone who plays 8674 games is going to get my vote.

With Palmeiro I think he's marginal to begin with. Any demerits drop him to off ballot for me. It would be similar to Trevor Hoffman squeezing out a few extra years.
   52. cardsfanboy Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:29 PM (#4332224)
Anyone who plays 8674 games is going to get my vote.


????

Oh, I am. That one's easy.

McGwire had 633 offensive runs above replacement in 7660 PA's. Edgar had 643 in 8674 games.

Mac was a better hitter per PA and actually played the field. To me, that's an easy call.


Agreed. Mac clears the borderline players like Edgar and Walker, it's all about whether his peak was enough to enter into the no doubt territory and his career long enough for consideration. I think it's enough to put him in the clearly in line, but I do see the argument for not, especially for those who like to discount all narratives.
   53. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:36 PM (#4332227)
A reasonable case can be made for Walker over McGwire. He wasn't that much worse as a hitter, and he was excellent in the field and on the bases. They have similar in season durability issues.

This is the second best ballot I've seen, only Posnanski's has been better - these eight plus, yup, Walker and McGwire.

I would vote for Martinez if I had an eleventh slot, probably for Palmeiro 12th, probably not for Sosa, Lofton, Murphy.
   54. J.R. Wolf Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:39 PM (#4332228)
Can somebody give me the short version on how this site's groupthink came around to deciding that the roiders are AOK?

Moral relativism combined with a refusal to stand on basic principles of fairness and decency, i.e., moral cowardice. People to whom only process matters and to whom justice is something to be laughed at and never enforced.
   55. cardsfanboy Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:45 PM (#4332229)
Moral relativism combined with a refusal to stand on basic principles of fairness and decency, i.e., moral cowardice. People to whom only process matters and to whom justice is something to be laughed at and never enforced.


I was thinking, maybe the fact that it wasn't against the rules at the time, the fact that when it became against the rules, the league enacted their own penalties and that doesn't include a permanent ban from baseball, the fact that cheating has always been a part of the game , and in fact was a celebrated part of the game....

   56. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:46 PM (#4332230)
Can somebody give me the short version on how this site's groupthink came around to deciding that the roiders are AOK?


Not sure about the group, but I can summarize my own reasoning that led to that conclusion:

1. It simply has not been shown that steroids significantly impact baseball performance.
2. Before there was testing, using steroids was not against the rules and was not even thought to help.
3. I don't think using steroids is "cheating," but "cheating" has never been a HOF disqualifier (e.g., Ruth; Pud Galvin; Gaylord Perry).
4. Use of amphetamines by players in the 60s and 70s raised broadly similar issues, and was never considered a HOF disqualifier.
5. It is dishonest or irrational to keep players out of the HOF for steroids use but not care about amphetamines use.
6. Legality isn't an issue because (a) it never was with amps, and (b) there are legal ways to obtain/use steroids (jurisdiction, etc.).
7. The character clause was never invoked for amps players, and hardly was invoked at all if ever, and so invoking it for steroids players is without historical precedent and thus grossly unfair given the standards already in place.
8. Steroids have been available since the '60s so there's no sense in obsessing over '90s/'00s players.
9. The HOF vote is not the proper venue to take inconsistent, incoherent, and dishonest "moral" stands.
10. Many players used steroids and weren't caught, and there's no good reason to pretend that players who weren't caught didn't use.

11. When players like McGwire were using, MLB didn't show that they cared very much (they didn't care enough to make the necessary concessions when collectively bargaining; they overlooked players who were using), the players as a whole didn't show that they cared very much, the media - to the extent they knew - didn't show that it cared very much, and the fans - to the extent they knew - didn't show that they cared very much.

The bottom line, for me, is that when people state that they would keep players out of the HOF on this basis, or they would "discount" a player's stats on this basis, these people are some combination of petty/dishonest/irrational.
   57. Baldrick Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:50 PM (#4332231)
54. J.R. Wolf Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:39 PM (#4332228)
[ Ignored Comment ]

Ah, much better...

Merry Xmas everyone!
   58. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 25, 2012 at 02:04 PM (#4332233)
Moral relativism combined with a refusal to stand on basic principles of fairness and decency, i.e., moral cowardice. People to whom only process matters and to whom justice is something to be laughed at and never enforced.


"Moral relativism" is code for "actual thinking makes my head hurt too much". Instead it's easy to spout a mishmash of gibberish because no one agrees with your opinions of what fairness, decency, and justice are.

Wake me when you can explain how Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and other known "cheaters" should remain in the HOF.
   59. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 25, 2012 at 02:24 PM (#4332240)
A reasonable case can be made for Walker over McGwire. He wasn't that much worse as a hitter, and he was excellent in the field and on the bases. They have similar in season durability issues


Walker was nowhere near McGwire in hitting, esp. in peak value. McGwire's bifurcated career lowers his average value, but still leads 163 to 149 in OPS+, but as I've pointed out Big Mac had almost a decade at 188 OPS+.

BBref gives Walker only 59.5 WAR, which shocks me. He has 73 fWAR, slightly more than Big Mac in slightly more games, and is 12th among right fielders all time, to me that is HOF worthy (assuming 13 starting positions with 4 starting pitchers, 12 gives 156 inductees over 130+ years. Just like Big Mac if Larry avoided some injuries he has 80 WAR and skates in. Unlike Big Mac, a lot of his value is tied up in his defense and I don't think voters appreciate that enough (UZR has him 8th all time for RF)

But the counter arguments against Walker are his giving the ball to a fan in the stands when there were only two outs, and that his nick-name was "Booger".

Oops, I think those are actually arguments in favor.
   60. BourbonSamurai Is a Lazy Nogoodnik Posted: December 25, 2012 at 02:40 PM (#4332243)
Surely when we are talking Hall of Fame and not Hall of Merit McGwire gets credit for being of the great "must see" players of all time. During his peak he was awe-inspiring, get to the ballpark early just for batting practice great.

To me, that stuff counts for the Hall of Fame, and it is enough to push someone arguably borderline into the for sure list.
   61. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: December 25, 2012 at 02:42 PM (#4332246)
Jeff Bagwell Craig Biggio Barry Bonds Roger Clemens Mike Piazza Tim Raines Curt Schilling Alan Trammell


That's a good enough Hall of Merit ballot, though if there were unlimited choices I'd add Edgar, McGwire, Raffy, and Sosa, and with an write-in vote for Whitaker.

---------------------------------------

Can somebody give me the short version on how this site's groupthink came around to deciding that the roiders are AOK?

The shortest version: Demographics.

The slightly longer version: It's an understandable reaction against the nauseating hyping that many of today's moralizing writers were once giving to the same players that they're now moralizing against. The most coherent spokesman for this POV about hypocrisy is Gonfalon Bubble.

Or this: They mark a different point on the dividing line they see between acceptable and unacceptable forms of "performance enhancement", based on their different reading of history, ethics, and in some cases, the law. Hence the distinction we often see made between pre-testing and post-testing users.

There's more to it than that, but I'd bet that the great majority of the "groupthink" here (if you want to call it that) can be explained by those first two points alone. And if all I had to go by in formulating my thoughts were the arguments of some of the more mentally challenged writers like Chass & co., I'd probably be writing the same things myself.
   62. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 25, 2012 at 02:44 PM (#4332247)
BBref gives Walker only 59.5 WAR, which shocks me.

It shocks BB-ref too; his total there is 69.7.

Edit: Looks like he has 59.6 oWAR, which adjusts for position but not defense.
   63. sunnyday2 Posted: December 25, 2012 at 03:22 PM (#4332253)
libertarians + lawyers.


shorter yet: hypocrisy

IOW, I'd rather have a beer with a 'roider than with the writers who glorified 'em until they detected a shift in the wind
   64. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 25, 2012 at 03:56 PM (#4332260)
It shocks BB-ref too; his total there is 69.7.

Edit: Looks like he has 59.6 oWAR, which adjusts for position but not defense.


Thank goodness, he really was a fine player. Somehow the BB-Ref data layout often confuses me, while the FanGraphs layout does not.
   65. beer on a stick Posted: December 25, 2012 at 04:46 PM (#4332277)
MLB and the media both reveled in the longball show seven ways to Sunday and to the bank. Backlash against it now is pure hypocrisy


You forgot us, the fans too. We were complicit.
   66. cardsfanboy Posted: December 25, 2012 at 04:52 PM (#4332278)
You forgot us, the fans too. We were complicit.


Just the Chicks digging the longball.
   67. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 25, 2012 at 04:56 PM (#4332280)
One last point on Big Mac that I think helps accentuate the dominance he showed. Mark is 81st all time in OBP & 8th in SLG, which in combination works out to 10th all time in OPS, and 11th in OPS+. Given the many thousands of players who had full careers in baseball (Fangraphs has 3,747 MLB players with at least 1,000 PAs) those rankings are by themselves insanely impressive, but we know that OPS/OPS have lots of flaws.

wRC+ is the correct stat to use, and even there Mark is 12th all time in wRC+, so that's pretty dominant. But instead of leaving it there, I"d like to take a side trip into a more simplistic stat to illustrate how effective he was as a TTO hitter.

One flaw to OPS is that it essentially double counts hits, i.e. SLG is total bases per AB, but OBP is also counts base hits, so it tends to favor high average hitters who get to double count as many hits as possible. Counting bases created per PA, i.e. total bases + walks/PAs is significantly better than OPS ( would be even better with base-running but that's beyond the scope of a short post and a simple stat). The best hitters ever at creating bases per PA are

Player   Bases/PA
Babe Ruth 0.726
Ted Williams 0.678
Lou Gehrig 0.668
Barry Bonds 0.657
Jimmie Foxx 0.646
Hank Greenberg 0.641
Albert Pujols 0.640
Mark McGwire 0.636
Manny Ramirez 0.622
Joe DiMaggio 0.608
Rogers Hornsby 0.607
Mickey Mantle 0.606
Jim Thome 0.604
Frank Thomas 0.602
Larry Walker 0.600
Johnny Mize 0.596
Ralph Kiner 0.596
Alex Rodriguez 0.594
Albert Belle 0.594 


Mark moves up to 8th all time in this measure, despite that low BA.

Other interesting players who see their ranks change significantly under this "more accurate" version of OPS, include

Harmon Killebrew 0.562 (57th) - 84th in OPS.
Adam Dunn 0.557 (63rd) - 114th in OPS.
Greg Vaughn 0.516 (217th) - 373rd in OPS.
Mike Cameron 0.489 (446th) - 580th in OPS.
Pete Rose 0.449 (1,118th) - 558th in OPS.
Ichiro 0.443 (1,214th) - 562nd in OPS


Obviously, wRC+is the beginning and end of comparing offensive performance rates, but I thought it was interesting that Mark ranked so high in OPS, despite his TTO style of hitting being somewhat "undervalued" by it.
   68. cardsfanboy Posted: December 25, 2012 at 05:01 PM (#4332282)
One flaw to OPS is that it essentially double counts hits, i.e. SLG is total bases per AB, but OBP is also counts base hits, so it tends to favor high average hitters who get to double count as many hits as possible.


That is not a flaw, that is a feature, a single is better than a walk. Any system that treats walks and singles as equals is doing a horrible disservice.
   69. vivaelpujols Posted: December 25, 2012 at 05:03 PM (#4332283)
I like TB + Walks/PA a lot, very intuitive stat. No doubt Mac was a historically great hitter. Horrible defensive and baserunning value, as well as playing in an extremely high offense era, make him borderline to me though.

What does Primer think of Manny Ramirez as a HOFer?
   70. vivaelpujols Posted: December 25, 2012 at 05:08 PM (#4332286)
That is not a flaw, that is a feature, a single is better than a walk. Any system that treats walks and singles as equals is doing a horrible disservice.


Um, OPS says a single is worth twice as much as a walk. That's a lot further from the truth than treating them equally.
   71. Toby Posted: December 25, 2012 at 05:11 PM (#4332287)
But walks are not as good as singles, sorry. A walk doesn't move the other runners unless they are forced.
   72. beer on a stick Posted: December 25, 2012 at 05:11 PM (#4332288)
Mark McGwire is the most efficient player ever at achieving the best outcome in the game. Hall of Famer. Next question.


This makes perfect sense to me. I second.
   73. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 25, 2012 at 05:13 PM (#4332289)
For a guy like McGwire, he's borderline with the roids, so you can easily make a case that he would not be HOF worthy without roids.


No, and few mainstream voters would have found McGwire "borderline" absent steroids.
   74. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 25, 2012 at 05:13 PM (#4332291)
Um, OPS says a single is worth twice as much as a walk.

OPS does. OPS+ does not, because league average slugging is higher than league average OBP, so an extra single doesn't increase SLG+ as much as it does OBP+.
   75. vivaelpujols Posted: December 25, 2012 at 05:17 PM (#4332293)
Either way, if you want to accurately value events, use wOBA. If you want an intuitive stat, I like walks + TB/PA much more than OPS.
   76. Walt Davis Posted: December 25, 2012 at 05:18 PM (#4332294)
McGwire hit a lot of fly balls. For whatever reason (steroids, juiced ball, strike zone, global warming, whatever), fly balls were anomalously likely to turn into home runs during McGwire's stint in the league. Here is the breakdown of McGwire's balls in play:

GB 1159 / FB 2171 (416 HR) / LD 818 (68 HR)

Compare this to Sosa:

GB 2649 / FB 2524 (507 HR) / LD 1354 (94 HR)


I'm not sure where you get these numbers but they conflict with b-r. B-R puts McGwire's HR/FB at 22.5% for his career and Sosa at 18.6%. McGwire's 22.5% is higher than anybody I've found yet -- Thome is at 19-20% and even Bonds in his HR-hitting heyday only barely beats Mac at 22.8%. (Numbers don't go back very far but true TTO hitting is fairly new so I'm not sure we're missing many legit candidates.)
   77. Random Transaction Generator Posted: December 25, 2012 at 05:46 PM (#4332296)
What does Primer think of Manny Ramirez as a HOFer?


I suspect Ramirez's case is going to be tied pretty closely to Palmeiro's case.

A sure fire HOF player, but actually got caught by testing (twice!).
I think that most supporters for those players who don't have a positive test (but are in the web of PED performance accusations) will sacrifice Ramirez on the altar.

"Ramirez failed a test, so if he doesn't get in that's okay. Clemens/Bonds/etc. never failed a test, so don't lump them with Manny. They deserve to go in."

As for players like ARod, who have admitted using but never failed a test that resulted in suspensions, his case is going to be even more complicated than Manny or Bonds.
   78. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 25, 2012 at 06:03 PM (#4332297)
Since I don't hold steroids use against a player, I don't care whether a player failed a test or not. Steroids are simply not a factor for me in HOF support.
   79. SandyRiver Posted: December 25, 2012 at 06:08 PM (#4332299)
Excellent list in #67, but it looks like The Man gets overlooked again. 6,134 TB + 1,599 BB in 12,717 PA (all per BBRef) comes to .608, tied for 10th with DiMag.

And while I agree that Big Mac is hall-worthy, I see his title as "greatest pure HR hitter ever" as a bit suspect despite his top HR/AB, for two reasons. First, Ruth had over 1,100 AB during the pre-1920 deadball era, in which he had 1 HR/22.7 AB. Drop those and he's pretty close to McGwire. 2nd is the difference in HR environment between their two eras; Ruth outhomered many teams throughout much of his career. (And yes, it was in a segregated time, reducing the talent pool, probably more than the diversion into linebackers and shooting guards reduces the talent available to MLB today.) I think Ruth/McGwire together set the standard for pure HR hitting. No one else is particularly close.
   80. vivaelpujols Posted: December 25, 2012 at 06:12 PM (#4332300)
I'm saying numbers wise is Manny a clear HOFer? He's similar to Mac in that he is a historically great hitter who's terrible at everything else.
   81. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 25, 2012 at 06:19 PM (#4332301)
Yes, Manny is a clear HOFer. And even if you hate his defense - I don't; I think Fenway ruins the numbers - bWAR hates it, and he still finishes with a 65.
   82. Bhaakon Posted: December 25, 2012 at 06:28 PM (#4332304)
11. When players like McGwire were using, MLB didn't show that they cared very much (they didn't care enough to make the necessary concessions when collectively bargaining; they overlooked players who were using)


There was only one CBA negotiated between the strike and introduction of testing in 2003, and I can see why MLB wouldn't want to go to the mat for testing in the wake of the 94-95 debacle.
   83. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 25, 2012 at 06:59 PM (#4332311)

I'm saying numbers wise is Manny a clear HOFer? He's similar to Mac in that he is a historically great hitter who's terrible at everything else.


There is a pretty big difference between Manny's playing time (9774 PA) and Mac's playing time (7660 PA). Also, Manny adds nearly another full season of work in the post-season at a .937 OPS (493 PA) while Mac has much less time (151 PA) and performance (.669 OPS). I think Manny is pretty comfortably over the line numbers-wise and I don't share Ray's opinion of his defense, I think it was legitimately quite poor.
   84. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 25, 2012 at 07:26 PM (#4332315)
Bonds DID fail a PED test. For amps in 2006. His positive was leaked to an NY paper who ran the story. This was before penalties were enacted. According to his Wiki page, he was subjected to six additional tests as a result.

Wouldn't affect my vote one iota, but it's not true that he never failed a test.
   85. Karl from NY Posted: December 25, 2012 at 07:40 PM (#4332318)
Clearly, most people don't care about the confession in the slightest. Poz discussed it in his most recent Poscast, but it's rarely even mentioned that it occurred. It's depressing to me to think that it makes no difference at all.

I think the confession is conspicuous in how it more or less terminated the discussion. If he hadn't, we'd still be seeing calls for McGwire to come clean, just like we did for twenty years with Pete Rose.

As for players like ARod, who have admitted using but never failed a test that resulted in suspensions, his case is going to be even more complicated than Manny or Bonds.

Which HOF candidates have admitted? Just McGwire, A-rod, and Pettitte, right? It seems that a confession pretty much does get the media off your back. Once you spill, there's no more sanctimonious high-horsemanship and the writers can get back to baseball.
   86. Cooper Nielson Posted: December 25, 2012 at 08:12 PM (#4332321)
Which HOF candidates have admitted? Just McGwire, A-rod, and Pettitte, right? It seems that a confession pretty much does get the media off your back. Once you spill, there's no more sanctimonious high-horsemanship and the writers can get back to baseball.

I don't think the media is off A-Rod's back. You could argue that the current hatred for him isn't steroid-related, but the A-Rod hatchet jobs still tend to mention his PED use.

Sheffield also admitted (unintentional) use, didn't he?
   87. cardsfanboy Posted: December 25, 2012 at 08:27 PM (#4332323)
His positive was leaked to an NY paper who ran the story. This was before penalties were enacted. According to his Wiki page, he was subjected to six additional tests as a result.


was that the same leak that listed Sosa among others, including a number of people higher than the number of positive tests?
   88. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 25, 2012 at 08:36 PM (#4332324)
Excellent list in #67, but it looks like The Man gets overlooked again. 6,134 TB + 1,599 BB in 12,717 PA (all per BBRef) comes to .608, tied for 10th with DiMag.


Confession: my calculations weren't exactly right, I took a short-cut.

I actually did (SLG+BB%)/(AB+BB%) because those numbers are easy to get from FanGraphs for all 3700 or so players in their DB. But it's not the same as (TB+BB)/PA because PA is more than BB+AB due to sacrifices & HBP (I believe).

The Man ended up 20th in my list (0.594), just after Albert Belle.
   89. Walt Davis Posted: December 25, 2012 at 09:29 PM (#4332332)
A single is worth almost exactly 50% more than a walk so counting them equal is as dumb as counting a single twice a walk. OPS+ does a better job but not great.

With a small handful of exceptions (McGwire is one, Dunn is another) a batter's hit rate is his single most important component, much more important than walks and extra base rate. ISO does have a higher variance though so can be more discriminating to an extent.

Player Bases/PA
Babe Ruth 0.726
Ted Williams 0.678
Lou Gehrig 0.668
Barry Bonds 0.657
Jimmie Foxx 0.646
Hank Greenberg 0.641
Albert Pujols 0.640
Mark McGwire 0.636
Manny Ramirez 0.622
Joe DiMaggio 0.608
Rogers Hornsby 0.607
Mickey Mantle 0.606
Jim Thome 0.604
Frank Thomas 0.602
Larry Walker 0.600
Johnny Mize 0.596
Ralph Kiner 0.596
Alex Rodriguez 0.594
Albert Belle 0.594


Didn't the fact that 9 of these 17 players played in the last 20 years tip you off that this might need to be era-adjusted? That almost all of these folks come from high offense eras?

And of course McGwire didn't hang around for a decline phase so this, like all the career stats you keep popping out, are biased in his favor. For example, Jim Thome from 1995 to 2007 had 7631 PA and a .645 rate. Manny from 98-09 also beats him in 7200 PA. From ages 22-32 (6800 PA) Thomas beats him as well. Thomas declined at 33-34 before bouncing back at 35-36 -- he is a smidgen ahead in 7772 PA if you include his age 35-36 seasons. There may be others.

Obviously doing as well as Thome, Manny and Thomas is damned impressive. But each of them went on to another 2000+ PA of damned good but not great (TB+BB)/PA totals. And even by your preferred measure, controlling for equal playing time, McGwire is no better than the 5th best of his era ... unless you don't think Pujols overlaps his era (fair enough) in which case he's 4th. None of Thome, Thomas or Manny contributed anything defensively either but you have a hard time arguing that Mac contributed more or was better than these guys, even by your preferred measure.

It is always unfair to look at career rate lists without adjusting for playing time differences. And I suspect that if you league/era adjusted that guys like Reggie, Killebrew and McCovey might well give him a run for his money too (in equal playing time). (this is hard to do given pitcher batting) But fair enough, if you park adjust as well, McGwire will go up ... and maybe create separation from Thome, Manny, Thomas.

Note also the silliness of this (and many other) rankings. Sometimes you are talking rates which are .002 apart which is 1 TB or BB per season. McGwire does have good separation (without a decline phase) so that doesn't apply to him ... until we adjust for playing time.

Anyway, it is certainly true that McGwire was one of the great pure power hitters of all-time. Yes, that should probably be more than enough to put him in the HoF ... certainly one that has fairly recently voted in Tony Perez and Jim Rice. But that should have been enough for Allen and Mize and an easier time for Greenberg and Kiner.



   90. vivaelpujols Posted: December 25, 2012 at 09:41 PM (#4332336)
How are you getting a single worth 1.5 times as much as a walk?

http://www.insidethebook.com/woba.shtml
   91. vivaelpujols Posted: December 25, 2012 at 09:47 PM (#4332339)
I'm not sure where you get these numbers but they conflict with b-r. B-R puts McGwire's HR/FB at 22.5% for his career and Sosa at 18.6%. McGwire's 22.5% is higher than anybody I've found yet -- Thome is at 19-20% and even Bonds in his HR-hitting heyday only barely beats Mac at 22.8%. (Numbers don't go back very far but true TTO hitting is fairly new so I'm not sure we're missing many legit candidates.)


Ryan Howard is 28.7% so far for his career. I'm sure that will go down, but I'm guessing he'll be the highest ever.
   92. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: December 25, 2012 at 10:31 PM (#4332341)
How are you getting a single worth 1.5 times as much as a walk?

http://www.insidethebook.com/woba.shtml

Probably from the batting runs linear weights formula. Which doesn't count the cost of an out (about .3 of a run) as part of the individual components. If you strip that out from the figures you linked to, you are left with .47 for a hit and .33 for a walk.
   93. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: December 25, 2012 at 10:37 PM (#4332345)
For me, the Hall of Fame question regarding steroid users is answered by historical precedent. The induction of Gaylord Perry renders any thought of excluding "cheaters," however defined, laughable. And the induction of the amphetamines generation says that the Hall clearly doesn't care about taking illegal drugs intended to improve performance.

That said, I can certainly see failed tests as lines in the sand. If you were using prior to testing, and got clean afterward, fair play to you. It wasn't banned by the game, and can therefore be easily construed as within the rules. I'd even argue that it was part of a level playing field established by the culture of the sport at the time.

When Palmeiro and Ramirez failed their tests, though, the sport had announced its intention to clean itself up; steroids were no longer part of the level playing field. And so I can see the argument for excluding them, although I'd certainly say that the induction of Perry, McGraw, and others says that the Hall historically turns a blind eye to cheating.

For now, I'm wait-and-see on Palmeiro. I think he belongs on the ballot, but I wouldn't vote for him in a year this crowded. I also want to see how the cleanup of steroids in baseball actually shakes out. If baseball goes the way of the NFL, where a couple of people a year get suspended for steroids, but it's generally assumed that the entire league is using and a failed test is no disqualification for major postseason awards that same season, then I'm completely for inducting Palmeiro and Ramirez. If baseball goes the way of the Olympics, where several people per Olympiad get disqualified for steroids, are sent home in disgrace, are banned from competing in their sport for a year or more, and are viewed dishonorably on an international scale, I'm for excluding them. If it's somewhere in the middle, we're right back to trying to parse the steroid discount, I'm afraid.
   94. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 25, 2012 at 11:20 PM (#4332356)
And of course McGwire didn't hang around for a decline phase


He had a decline phase! It started at age 37, he just wasn't healthy enough to make it last more than 97 games;)

More seriously he partially offset his very quick decline with losing 3 full seasons in his peak years. Two years of 110 OPS+ with 2 more years of 188 OPS+ wouldn't change his rate stats much.
   95. Walt Davis Posted: December 26, 2012 at 03:31 AM (#4332371)
More seriously he partially offset his very quick decline with losing 3 full seasons in his peak years.

This is called not being durable. If your career takes a "tragic" turn a la Puckett or Dizzy Dean (but not Thurman Munson), then you get credit for time lost due to injury (who knows why but that seems to be voting tradition). If you lost peak time because you went off to war, you get credit for lost time. If you had foot, knee, etc. problems that caused you to miss lots of time throughout your career, you get no credit for lost time. Nobody is really going to point to Griffey's 30s and treat them as if he'd never gotten hurt. Nobody is playing "what if" games with Walker -- if anything they're holding his fragility against him.

If you want to give McGwire credit for time lost to injury, you have to give it to Walker, Larkin, Edgar, Griffey, Thomas, Giambi (2004 and 2007), etc. and McGwire won't look any more special than he already does or doesn't in relation to those guys.

I agree that a couple of average years here or there wouldn't add substantially to his case. But they add to his case relative to some other guys. For example I showed that (by your stat) that Thome was slightly better than McGwire from 95 to 07 in the same number of PA as McGwire's career. Well, shifting to the easier WAR, Thome had 2.6 WAR in 800 PA before 1995 and 8 WAR in 1900 PA after 2007. Thomas is similar to Mac in that he added only 6.7 WAR in about 2300 PA, nothing special. But the only reason Thome was at .604 and Thomas was at .602 and McGwire at .636 on your measure was because Thome and Thomas accumlated those other 2700/2300 PA when they didn't crush the ball quite as much. You can't tout McGwire's ranking on that list, or any career rate list, without adjusting for playing time.
   96. bjhanke Posted: December 26, 2012 at 04:21 AM (#4332372)
SandyRiver and Walt - I have no objection to your arguing that McGwire was not quite as good as Ruth, Thomas and Thome because of a short career. Ruth and Thomas are obvious top Hall guys, and I think Thome is, too - in fact, I think Thome is badly underrated in general perception. If that's the company that Mac is playing in, I'm not arguing. If I were doing rankings, Frank's time as a DH would drag him down, in the same way as Mac's short career does, but not everyone administers the very strong DH deductions that I do. I am also inclined to argue that part of Ruth's astonishing homer performance was that pitchers took a while to adjust to what he brought to the game. I mean, it's not as if there were suddenly 50 40-homer guys by 1921. There was Ruth. And the kind of pitching that works best on Ruth's type of hitting works worst in dealing with bunters and slap hitters, of which there were many many more at the time. And that's not to mention that pitchers have to practice to acquire new pitches, and doing all that work just to deal with Babe Ruth is asking too much. By 1930, there were enough of those guys that you had to adjust to them, but not in the early 1920s.

However, it's not true that Mac played his career during the Sillyball era. He played half of his career before then, and half during then. As it happens, his second peak (he really has two), which is outstanding, occurs during Sillyball, and I think you can argue that his context helped him there. But I also think you have to admit that his context hurt him before 1994.

The main argument against Palmeiro is that he was an "accumulator", meaning that he has no discernible peak or prime. That has nothing to do with steroids. Most systems deduct for low peaks and primes. If yours doesn't, then of course you think more of Raffy than I do. But, then, I was one of the last holdouts, not voting for Raffy in the HoM, because of the lack of peak and prime, and also for the DH deductions I make. The HoM elected him last year, which does impose a limit on how influential my opinion must be. - Brock
   97. SandyRiver Posted: December 26, 2012 at 10:08 AM (#4332401)
Confession: my calculations weren't exactly right, I took a short-cut.

I actually did (SLG+BB%)/(AB+BB%) because those numbers are easy to get from FanGraphs for all 3700 or so players in their DB. But it's not the same as (TB+BB)/PA because PA is more than BB+AB due to sacrifices & HBP (I believe).

The Man ended up 20th in my list (0.594), just after Albert Belle.


No big thing. I'm more than a bit anal about arithmetic (and Musial has been a favorite since I first got interested in baseball in the mid-1950s.)

bjkanke: Your arguments are always well presented, and thoughtful people can disagree agreeably.
   98. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 26, 2012 at 11:23 AM (#4332417)
Just the Chicks digging the longball.


I used to dig chicks who dig the longball. So it's really all my fault.
   99. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 26, 2012 at 11:23 AM (#4332418)
To me Palmeiro is a clear HOFer. He fits comfortably in with the middle tier. From 1988-2003 he provided a lot of value, and never had a bad season. His peak isn't special for a HOFer, but his prime is very nice, and he's more of a career candidate anyway.
   100. Bitter Mouse Posted: December 26, 2012 at 11:36 AM (#4332420)
With all due respect to the previous explanations, here's the shortest version: libertarians + lawyers.


Ack. I am neither (feel free to look at the OT: Politics thread). And I disagree with Ray on 90% of everything (just a guess), but steroids and baseball is one area we agree. In fact I agree with much of Ray's list in 56 though that is not the reason I am against.

For me it is fairness. We don't really know the whole of usage (who, when, what) or what the impact of that usage was. We know bits and pieces and we will likely never know more. These players were operating in one of two environments, the first is when steroids were basically an open secret, no one really cared, "chicks dig the long ball", and winning matters more than anything. So people used and did what they needed (they thought) to win. During the second there was testing and established penalties to getting caught (and well the chicks and winning were still pretty much the same).

I don't think it fair (especially given the unknowns) to judge players retroactively - guess what those steroids we didn't care about, well we know/suspect/think we know you used, so no HOF for you. That is just wrong, especially for the first era listed above when MLB, the press, fans and so on really did not care (just like they really didn't care about speed, spit balls, stealing signs and so on).

I also don't think the legality of steroids plays in this at all. Baseball is baseball and life is life. Law enforcement needs to happen in real life and baseball on the field. Baseball doesn't need to act like cops. Especially since one could legally do steroids out of the US.

In fairness I also should mention that Barry Bonds is one of my favorite players and played for the Giants (one of my favorite teams), but I didn't care about steroids when it was Canseco and such so I don't think that changes my opinions but I wanted to mention it.

It is funny that if I had told someone watching the great Mac/Sosa home run year and that it was likely neither would make the Hall of Fame they would have thought me an idiot.
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