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Friday, January 03, 2014

Posnanski: The Massive Hall of Fame Post

The Hall of Great Americans used to be a big deal… it can happen!

There is a temptation to play games with the Hall of Fame voting. For instance, I’m a big supporter of Alan Trammell’s Hall of Fame case. So I could have, reasonably, left off a worthy player I know will get elected — someone like Tom Glavine — to give support to Trammell, who needs it more.

I didn’t do that. I decided that was not voting in the spirit of the Hall. I don’t believe i bring much expertise to the table here, but whatever expertise I do bring would be because I have spent a lot of time learning about baseball. I chose the 10 baseball players who I think are most worthy and and regretfully did not check the boxes of five others who I hope will stay on the ballot. No, it’s not ideal. But, realistically, the entire process seems broken to me. That’s a topic for another time…

Every year when I make my votes, I think hard about the steroid issue. My feeling now is that I will mark down a player a bit for acknowledged or demonstrated PED abuse during the era before testing — this is why I have [Barry] Bonds and [Roger] Clemens a little bit down the list — but it is not a disqualifier for me. My feeling is that players who used steroids before testing, well, I’m not happy about it, but it was weaved into the fabric of the game. When the Hall of Fame puts together a committee that unanimously elects Tony La Russa into the Hall of Fame — a man who for years managed the most infamous steroid-infused team of the time — I realize that there are different rules at play, and there should not be. Steroids were a part of the game. A sad part. But a part just the same.

I’m not opposed to changing my viewpoint if there’s a compelling enough reason to do so. As I’ve written before, I’d love for the Hall of Fame to take the lead and offer guidance. I think they should. In the meantime, though, I figure the only reason I have a vote is because I supposedly know something about baseball. I’ll vote based on baseball.

Poz ranks ‘em: Maddux, Thomas, Bagwell, Piazza, Schilling, Glavine, Bonds, Clemens, Biggio, Raines, (ballot ends here) Mussina, Trammell, L. Walker, E. Martinez, McGwire, (Poz’s personal Hall of Fame ends here) McGriff, Sosa, Palmeiro, Kent, Morris, Mattingly, L. Smith, L. Gonzalez, K. Rogers

The District Attorney Posted: January 03, 2014 at 02:56 PM | 42 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, joe posnanski

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Cabbage Posted: January 03, 2014 at 05:27 PM (#4629445)
Minor quibble: He says Sosa started loafing in the outfield once he morphed into 60HR Sammy. I don't think that is correct. Sosa always hustled, he just wasn't always hustling in the right direction. Few people played caroms off the wall worse than Sammy Sosa.

He was probably terrible at squash.
   2. Publius Publicola Posted: January 03, 2014 at 05:44 PM (#4629459)
My feeling is that players who used steroids before testing, well, I’m not happy about it, but it was weaved into the fabric of the game.


Flip-flop? He used to not care at all, IMO.
   3. OsunaSakata Posted: January 03, 2014 at 05:47 PM (#4629461)
The Hall of Fame for Great Americans. My parents took me there when my father was a grad student at NYU. Sure there are mistakes. Do you know who Rufus Choate is? Heck, Gandhi never won a Nobel Peace Prize.
   4. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: January 03, 2014 at 06:53 PM (#4629516)
Glavine below Schilling (he leads the Schilling section with 'bloody sock' -vomit-) but ahead of Clemens. Alrighty then.
   5. GregD Posted: January 03, 2014 at 06:53 PM (#4629517)
The Hall of Fame for Great Americans. My parents took me there when my father was a grad student at NYU. Sure there are mistakes. Do you know who Rufus Choate is? Heck, Gandhi never won a Nobel Peace Prize.
I keep meaning to go there.

Who is the least famous HoFGA inductee? Maria Mitchell? Mark Hopkins? Joseph Henry? Charlotte Cushman? Luther Burbank? Edward MacDowell?

Who is the least impressive member? Phillips Brooks? Rufus Choate? William Morton? Some Boston ballot-box stuffing going on. I blame Frank Frisch...
   6. Walt Davis Posted: January 03, 2014 at 07:02 PM (#4629520)
Agree on #1. In fact I'd say part of Sosa's problem was not realizing how much speed and range he'd lost. The caroms that I remember weren't so much for breaking in the wrong direction (not saying there weren't those too just that I never noticed) but that Sosa continued to think that he had enough speed to cut off hits down the RF line. Balls he used to be able to cut off before they got to the wall were now scooting past him. But rather than adjusting and angling back towards the wall, he'd still cut directly over to the line as if he could get there. The ball would scamper past, his momentum was all going towards foul territory and, in that corner, the ball kicks back towards CF. Triple. He'd have been in a better position if he had loafed.

Similarly, on the basepaths, Sosa never stopped hustling. He did finally give up on the steals but was still effective going 1 to 3.
   7. The District Attorney Posted: January 03, 2014 at 07:13 PM (#4629528)
Gandhi never got his picture on bubblegum cards, did he? How can you say someone is great who's never had his picture on bubblegum cards?
   8. Howie Menckel Posted: January 03, 2014 at 07:17 PM (#4629532)

I actually have this 2013 Gandhi Topps card sitting on my desk as I type, from the "Peacemakers" category

http://www.ebay.com/itm/2013-Topps-PEACEMAKERS-GANDHI-Allen-and-Ginters-Baseball-Card-PM-GND-NEW-/271260686684

I got the joke, too!

   9. Matt Welch Posted: January 03, 2014 at 07:18 PM (#4629533)
I hope that Poz is sufficiently well-known enough in the baseball writing fraternity that his example of thoughtfulness on these matters (regardless of whether you agree with the conclusions) begins to rub off. There's no reason not to take this privilege seriously.
   10. OsunaSakata Posted: January 03, 2014 at 09:11 PM (#4629597)
Who is the least famous HoFGA inductee? Maria Mitchell? Mark Hopkins? Joseph Henry? Charlotte Cushman? Luther Burbank? Edward MacDowell?


Luther Burbank is relatively well-known for his plant biolgy. The unit of inductance is named for Joseph Henry and his statue is in front of the Smithsonian Castle. Another of the others are suitably non-famous.
   11. A Fatty Cow That Need Two Seats Posted: January 03, 2014 at 09:17 PM (#4629604)
how much is the methuselah rookie card going for nowadays?
   12. bookbook Posted: January 03, 2014 at 09:26 PM (#4629612)
I doubt Mussina gets voted in by the BBWA at all, but it may be the most interesting question for me here. Mussina vs. Glavine vs. Schilling. Which one is best, and why?

Glavine and Schilling have easier HOF cases because of the 300 wins and the damn sock, but a guy like Posnanski isn't grading on that scale. Why did he pick Mussina last? He doesn't actually say.

(Funny, also, that he says Glavine is Palmer and Mussina is Glavine. Growing up near Baltimore, I always thought of Mussina as Palmer... gives up too many home runs, but always manages to do it with the bases empty. Smart, egotistical, prickly. My sense is that Mussina and Palmer were each the smartest guy on the field in most games they played, and wouldn't mind shoving that in your face a little bit.)
   13. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 03, 2014 at 09:35 PM (#4629624)
I doubt Mussina gets voted in by the BBWA at all, but it may be the most interesting question for me here. Mussina vs. Glavine vs. Schilling. Which one is best, and why?

If Mussina debuts in the 25-30% range, he's getting voted in. Probably within 6-8 years.
   14. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: January 03, 2014 at 10:30 PM (#4629660)
Mussina is polling over 30%. And that does not include all the guys who said that they wanted to vote for him but ran out of room on their ballot (and there were a significant number of those). And several others said that he was under consideration for future years. He'll make it in via the BBWAA.
   15. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: January 03, 2014 at 10:49 PM (#4629669)
Mussina and Palmer are a very interesting comparison.

Palmer won 20 games eight times. He won 16 or fewer games seven times (in seasons where he was a starter). But Palmer never won between 17 and 19 games in a season.

In contrast, Mussina won 20 games one time, and between 17 and 19 games seven times.

Of course, if Mussina had pitched in an era of four-man rotations, he would have won 20 games many times. Mussina was one of the ultimate horses over a 17-year period, never missing starts, being near the top in IP most years. He won a greater percentage of his starts than Palmer, struck out more guys, even won a few more games in his career than Palmer...but Palmer got in with 92.6% in his first year of eligibility, and Mussina is going to take a while.

However, I think Mussina will absolutely be voted in within seven or eight years.
   16. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: January 04, 2014 at 12:05 AM (#4629685)
An enthusiastic second to post #9.
   17. Cabbage Posted: January 04, 2014 at 12:20 AM (#4629695)
Walt, you're quite right about that too. I feel like he took worse angles to his left. The caroms stick in my mind because of the RF well and the door, which just played all sorts of havoc on poor Sammy, who just wanted to get to the friggin' ball and throw it.
   18. Cooper Nielson Posted: January 04, 2014 at 12:30 AM (#4629698)
Of course, if Mussina had pitched in an era of four-man rotations, he would have won 20 games many times.

He also probably/maybe would have had two more 20-win seasons without the 1994-5 strike.
   19. The District Attorney Posted: January 04, 2014 at 12:32 AM (#4629699)
I actually have this 2013 Gandhi Topps card sitting on my desk as I type
Fine. Rufus Choate never got his picture on bubblegum cards, did he?
   20. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 04, 2014 at 12:32 AM (#4629700)
Of course, if Mussina had pitched in an era of four-man rotations, he would have won 20 games many times.


Or he would have had shoulder surgery.
   21. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 04, 2014 at 12:43 AM (#4629705)
Or he would have had shoulder surgery.


There's no evidence for this.
   22. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 04, 2014 at 12:48 AM (#4629710)
Rufus Choate never got his picture on bubblegum cards, did he?

Are we sure?
   23. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 04, 2014 at 01:57 AM (#4629736)
There's no evidence for this.


No, but as a pitcher, it's always one of the options.

Mike Mussina had an outstanding career, with excellent health, pitching in the system he did. I'd take that every day over whatever hides behind Door No. 2.

I'd also take him over Palmer.
   24. OsunaSakata Posted: January 04, 2014 at 06:39 AM (#4629756)
Although Mussina has more wins than Palmer, traditionalists would point out Palmer had 3 Cy Youngs while Mussina did not win any.
   25. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: January 04, 2014 at 11:52 AM (#4629839)
Although Mussina has more wins than Palmer, traditionalists would point out Palmer had 3 Cy Youngs while Mussina did not win any.


Certainly true, and certainly a major factor in Palmer getting over 92% of the vote. However:

- Mussina finished 2nd once, 4th twice, 5th three times, and 6th three times.
- He finished 4th during his first full season, and 6th in his final season...17 years apart!
- Despite winning three CYA, Palmer actually received CYA votes fewer times than Mussina (eight times, to Mussina's nine times). It's just that Palmer was much more of an all-ro-nothing seasonal resume.
- Timing is such a big part of winning awards. Mussina had the poor luck of having some of his best years at the apex of Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez's careers. Clemens was also ahead of him, in some seasons. Meanwhile, Palmer was typically not facing the same level of competition for CYAs. For example, Palmer finished 2nd twice. The winners those two years? Pete Vukovich and Sparky Lyle. Meanwhile, the year Mussina finished second? Pedro Martinez, having one of the greatest seasons in baseball history (23-4, ERA+ of 243, 313 Ks to 37 BBs in 213 IP...it blows the mind.). Jim Palmer never had to compete with anything close to that!

Whatever...both are HOF pitchers, and both will be in the HOF soon enough!
   26. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: January 04, 2014 at 02:02 PM (#4629948)
Don't forget that Moose wuz robbed in the '01 voting. If that exact season had happened in '09, he'd have a trophy for his case.
   27. Srul Itza Posted: January 04, 2014 at 03:11 PM (#4630010)
Gandhi never got his picture on bubblegum cards, did he? How can you say someone is great who's never had his picture on bubblegum cards?


Isn't that an old Peanuts line by Lucy about Beethoven?
   28. Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: January 04, 2014 at 04:40 PM (#4630078)
Don't forget that Moose wuz robbed in the '01 voting. If that exact season had happened in '09, he'd have a trophy for his case.


I take your point that it was a CYA caliber season, but Zack Greinke (216 IP of 205 ERA+ ball) ran away with the 09 AL CY. Actually, thinking about it, I'm not sure Moose really would have won any year this century other than 01, when he was obviously robbed:

00 - Pedro
01 - Moose has a real claim on this year in the AL.
02 - Pedro, Halladay (Zito won)
03 - Halladay
04 - Schilling, Johan
05 - Johan (Colon won)
06 - Johan,
07 - CC
08 - Lee
09 - Greinke
10 - Felix
11 - Verlander
12 - Verlander, Price
13 - Scherzer
   29. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 04, 2014 at 07:16 PM (#4630179)
I'm always shocked that Keith Hernandez isn't in the HOF. I understand that he doesn't fit the mold of what HOF voters historically voted for, but he was super valuable.

But maybe I over-rate him, advanced metrics don't see him as the greatest defensive first baseman ever, just good. And his WAR totals are essentially just below the line for HOF first basemen, nearly everyone above him is already in, will be in, or is blackballed for steroids. I don't feel too bad, as in my minds eye I always see him with a playboy playmate on his arm.

And Greinke's 10.4 bWAR in 2009 was the 5th best pitching performance of the last 40 years. Anyone else gets his CYA and it's a travestshamockery.

   30. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 04, 2014 at 07:19 PM (#4630183)
By the way, I don’t understand how anyone could vote for Morris and not vote for Mussina. I literally do not get it. Even by the plainest standards, Mussina won more games, lost fewer, had a superior won-loss record, a lower ERA, struck out 300 more batters, walked 600 fewer, had a lower postseason ERA, virtually the same World Seres ERA, and even won five Gold Gloves to Morris’ zero. Hey, if you want to vote for Morris, please, vote for the guy


And if you are a voter bothered by PEDs, Moose achieved all of this during the silly years throwing against the biggest sluggers baseball has ever had, while Morris mostly skipped that era.
   31. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 04, 2014 at 07:34 PM (#4630193)
The most striking thing about Poz's piece, is it makes you realize that if the BBWAA inducts only a three or four players this year what an awful travesty that will be. You can randomly pick anyone in Poz's top 15 and make a very compelling case they are HOF worthy.
   32. bjhanke Posted: January 04, 2014 at 07:58 PM (#4630204)
Keith Hernandez was one of the ringleaders in the cocaine club in STL, when Whitey Herzog took over the team. Pretty much as soon as he arrived, Whitey asked Hernandez to play the outfield, so Ted Simmons could get out from behind the plate and over to 1B, but Keith wasn't having any, so Simmons got traded. Keith then acted up again and again, eventually forcing Whitey to trade him for Neil Allen, just to get Keith out of Whitey's clubhouse. Defying and infuriating Whitey Herzog is not a good career move if you want your career to end with the Hall of Fame. Hernandez' actual playing quality is, IMO, right over the borderline for the Hall, but above that line. However, I never had to manage him. - Brock Hanke
   33. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 05, 2014 at 01:24 AM (#4630347)
I don't think that Voxter was saying that if you throw Mussina in the 2009 season, he'd have won that year's Cy Young over Greinke. He's saying that if that season played out in 2009, the voters from that time frame would have recognized him as the best.

Having said that, while I'll agree that Mussina was the best in 2001, I wouldn't call his failure to win the award robbery. There were about a dozen guys who looked like legitimate contenders at the time, based on the metrics available. Mussina was just one of them.

   34. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 05, 2014 at 01:30 AM (#4630349)
I'm always shocked that Keith Hernandez isn't in the HOF. I understand that he doesn't fit the mold of what HOF voters historically voted for, but he was super valuable.


8533 PA 128 OPS+ 60.1 WAR

9063 PA 129 OPS+ 58 WAR


one is Hernandez--can anyone guess who the other 1st baseman is? As far as I know, NO ONE has ever advocated this other guy for the HOF
   35. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 05, 2014 at 01:44 AM (#4630351)
can anyone guess who the other 1st baseman is? As far as I know, NO ONE has ever advocated this other guy for the HOF


Actually, comment #5 of this thread quotes Bill James as referring to him as "an obvious Hall of Famer".
   36. Morty Causa Posted: January 05, 2014 at 01:45 AM (#4630352)
Olerud has been mentioned a few times in discussions about the HOF. He's a very good player. Still, he has less value than Hernandez in more playing time, and Hernandez is where the line should be for first baseman. If there. Generally, there needs to be more offense for a first baseman, and I would be more comfortable if the case for Keith didn't depend so much on his stellar defense.
   37. bobm Posted: January 05, 2014 at 01:59 AM (#4630359)
Generally, there needs to be more offense for a first baseman, and I would be more comfortable if the case for Keith didn't depend so much on his stellar defense.

Hernandez's defense needs to be seen, whether live or on video, to understand just how stellar it was. Reading about "defensive runs" and Gold Gloves and assists to bases other than 1B and 3-6-3 double plays just does not have the same impact.
   38. Morty Causa Posted: January 05, 2014 at 03:02 AM (#4630374)
I saw Hernandez--for years. And I completely agree that he was a paragon. Still.
   39. Greg K Posted: January 05, 2014 at 09:37 AM (#4630402)

Hernandez's defense needs to be seen, whether live or on video, to understand just how stellar it was. Reading about "defensive runs" and Gold Gloves and assists to bases other than 1B and 3-6-3 double plays just does not have the same impact.

Not to jump into this argument, but probably the biggest baseball shock I've ever had was seeing a highlight package of Hernandez' defence a few years ago. I was too young to see him play, but always knew he was a great fielder. But seeing what he did on bunts for instance...just didn't seem possible.

As to where the puts his Hall of Fame case, I don't know.
   40. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: January 05, 2014 at 12:48 PM (#4630467)
Hernandez's defense needs to be seen, whether live or on video, to understand just how stellar it was. Reading about "defensive runs" and Gold Gloves and assists to bases other than 1B and 3-6-3 double plays just does not have the same impact.


If Hernandez had been right-handed, he would have been a HOF 3B, if not SS.
   41. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: January 05, 2014 at 01:47 PM (#4630513)
Actually, thinking about it, I'm not sure Moose really would have won any year this century other than 01, when he was obviously robbed:

But that's not at all what I was saying. I was saying, take that whole season -- not just Moose's, but everybody's --, jack it up on a truck, and move it to 2009, and Moose wins. The whole reason I chose the year I did was because Greinke proved a watershed on pitcher wins. You just won an argument with nobody.
   42. Andy McGeady Posted: January 06, 2014 at 07:27 AM (#4631149)
KT's Pot Arb Posted: January 04, 2014 at 06:34 PM (#4630193)

The most striking thing about Poz's piece, is it makes you realize that if the BBWAA inducts only a three or four players this year what an awful travesty that will be. You can randomly pick anyone in Poz's top 15 and make a very compelling case they are HOF worthy.
The very large number of entirely qualified HoF candidates (caused by the backlog) combined with the restriction of ten votes means that it's actually much harder to get elected than in other years. This seems counter-intuitive, but it is the case.

Because of this, if four players are elected in 2014 we should be very happily surprised.

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