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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Silva: Voting for the Hall of Fame Based on “Feel”

Feel: An exploration of what it means to touch and be touched…in the head. (William Baldwin-Shares used, of course)

Forget any stats – advanced or otherwise- let’s do a fun exercise and vote for the Hall of Fame based on “feel.” This isn’t easy since you would have to see someone play for a majority of their career.

As mentioned before, if I had a Hall of Fame Ballot it would include Jeff Bagwell, Edgar Martinez, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Jack Morris, and Tim Raines. These selections were based on a combination of data and watching the participants during most or all of their career. In the case of Morris and Raines, I watched them play in the latter-half of their career so it was more data based. For that reason I will abstain from judging them on the “feel” test.

...The one player that I was staunchly against on my ballot but looks better on the feel test is Don Mattingly. I first started watching baseball in the mid-eighties and he was considered the best player of that time. Again, you can see I am from New York, but throwing stats out the window Mattingly has more of a Hall of Fame candidacy. Who was a better offensive player in the mid to late eighties?

The rest were all very good players. Larkin, Palmeiro, Trammell, Walker, Murphy, Lee Smith, and Bernie Williams. I never remember thinking I was watching a future Hall of Famer when their teams came to town.

Of course, I am not advocating this practice as being the sole method of voting for the Hall of Fame. A combination of stats and “feel” is the best way to come to the final conclusion.

Repoz Posted: January 04, 2012 at 10:28 AM | 54 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: fantasy baseball, hall of fame, history

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   1. Anonymous Observer Posted: January 04, 2012 at 10:52 AM (#4028552)
Forget any stats – advanced or otherwise- let’s do a fun exercise and vote for the Hall of Fame based on “feel.”

In the case of Morris and Raines, I watched them play in the latter-half of their career so it was more data based. For that reason I will abstain from judging them on the “feel” test.


Does not compute...
   2. Jacob Posted: January 04, 2012 at 10:59 AM (#4028560)
Who was a better offensive player in the mid to late eighties?


Wade Boggs(Bass ass run, btw)? Rickey Henderson? I'm sure there's more.
   3. attaboy Posted: January 04, 2012 at 11:07 AM (#4028567)
The rest were all very good players. Larkin, Palmeiro, Trammell, Walker, Murphy, Lee Smith, and Bernie Williams. I never remember thinking I was watching a future Hall of Famer when their teams came to town

I started watching BB in the seventies and was a huge fan in the eighties, played Rotis first in 1984. If Dale Murphy wasn't thought of as a hall of famer, than no one was. Of course, we all thought Gooden was already a hall of fame pitcher so there is one strike against that method of determining how to cast your vote.

Gooden , Strawberry, Hernandez and Mattingly all in NY in the mid eighties...great time to be a new york BB fan!
   4. JJ1986 Posted: January 04, 2012 at 11:10 AM (#4028571)
Wade Boggs(Bass ass run, btw)? Rickey Henderson? I'm sure there's more.


Will Clark.
   5. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 04, 2012 at 11:14 AM (#4028577)
let’s do a fun exercise and vote for the Hall of Fame based on “feel.”

Since when is this system hypothetical?
   6. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: January 04, 2012 at 11:22 AM (#4028585)
Palmeiro is supposed to be one of those colorless stat-amasser types, but I voted for Palmeiro yesterday based on "feel". I remember viewing him with the legendary FEAR that got Jim Rice so far. BECAUSE he was so consistent and never got hurt, you didn't have the chance of a meltdown or a lost season to nagging injuries. If he signs with a team in your division, your team is now going to win a couple less games.

Juan Gonzalez was like that through age 30, then he left the Rangers and became a punchline. Palmeiro was like that through age 38.
   7. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 04, 2012 at 11:24 AM (#4028591)
I think that the "feel" test is obviously problematic, but one thing it gets at is perceived peak. The guys who "felt" like a Hall of Famer were the guys who were perceived, at their peak, as playing at an obviously Hall of Fame level.

This really is the heart of Dale Murphy's Hall of Fame case - two consecutive MVPs and five consecutive Gold Gloves demonstrate that for about eight years he was considered by just about everyone to be one of the handful best players in the game. His career WAR is very unimpressive for a Hall of Famer, but this is partly because he's a pure peak/prime candidate (nothing he did before 1979 or after 1987 contributes to his case) and partly because the perception of Murphy was based on his being an exceptional defensive player, which is not reflected in his TZ numbers. I tend to think Murphy really was Hall of Fame great for a long enough peak/prime that he deserves election.

Don Mattingly has a similar case - right down to the TZ numbers that don't match his Gold Glove voting - but he was really only great for four years, and his greatness was overrated by sports fans who didn't see that his low walk totals kept him from being a truly dominant offensive force, and who overrated his team-dependent RBI numbers.

The other problem with "feel" is that baseball fans have historically done a poor job of adjusting for position and of comparing all-around talents to singularly dominant performers. Trammell was just as good as Mattingly during Mattingly's peak, but since Mattingly was hitting for gobs of power and driving in gobs or runs, while Trammell was playing a good shortstop, running well, and producing all-around good batting numbers, he wasn't perceived to be as great as Mattingly.

Considering questions of "feel" is useful for recapturing (I now think) qualified Hall of Famers like Murphy, but it's problematic for the way it can obscure qualified Hall of Famers like Trammell and overrate your Mattinglys.

Also, my memory of the 80s is that Raines was considered a great "go see him play" Hall of Fame kind of talent.
   8. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: January 04, 2012 at 11:39 AM (#4028607)
Ryan Howard has the "feel" of a Hall of Famer. The Phillies are the premier team of the National League and when they're going to be on national tv, it's always "Ryan Howard and the Phillies." Every year in the MVP debates, Ryan Howard's name gets thrown in even if he isn't seriously considered. The Phillies gave a massive contract to Ryan Howard, not Utley or Rollins. But if you look at the record, it's really not that great.
   9. BDC Posted: January 04, 2012 at 11:41 AM (#4028612)
my memory of the 80s is that Raines was considered a great "go see him play" Hall of Fame kind of talent

That's my memory too. Living in/near Philly and NY in those years, Raines was one guy I marveled at, and Darryl Strawberry was another: both could win games in a lot of ways. Strawberry is another of the guys I'd cite for having no-doubt HOF talent, which he realized briefly and sporadically, but never assembled into a HOF career.
   10. Rancischley Leweschquens (Tim Wallach was my Hero) Posted: January 04, 2012 at 11:57 AM (#4028638)
my memory of the 80s is that Raines was considered a great "go see him play" Hall of Fame kind of talent

Based on my memories alone, Raines wouldn't be a HoFer. Strange. I was born in 1977 and became a real Expo around 1987. Nobody in my family was a baseball fan, so it really was something that came out of nowhere. Anyway, I fell in love with Tim Wallach at that time and nobody else even came close to him in my mind. Strange since Raines had one of his best season that year (although he "only" stole 50 bases). Anyway, Raines was still a very good (despite not great) player after 1987, so to me he was never to be in the HoF conversation.

I revisited his career stats and historical importance much later, in the mid-2000s, when I read somewhere that Vlad Guerrero was the second-best player in the history of the Expos after Raines. In my mind at the time, it made no sense. Vlad HAD to be the best player (although I realized he was talented but did not play the game well). Well, turns out Raines was a better player. Not THAT much better, but better with the Expos, at least.

Raines truly had a fantastic career. His 1981-1987 peak is quite something. I'm pretty sure his case for the HoF would have been easier to argue had he played is entire career south of the (Canadian) border.
   11. Guapo Posted: January 04, 2012 at 12:03 PM (#4028647)
let’s do a fun exercise and vote for the Hall of Fame based on “feel.”


Well, that explains how Bill Conlin got elected.
   12. Rally Posted: January 04, 2012 at 12:47 PM (#4028689)
Don Mattingly has a similar case - right down to the TZ numbers that don't match his Gold Glove voting - but he was really only great for four years, and his greatness was overrated by sports fans who didn't see that his low walk totals kept him from being a truly dominant offensive force, and who overrated his team-dependent RBI numbers.


When Don Mattingly emerged as a dominant player, I was 13 years old. The "best player in baseball" talk was everywhere, but it seemed obvious to me that he was not (while certainly being in the top 10). I had a lot of self doubt about this, if the reasoning of a 13 year old puts Mattingly in the 5-10 range and the observers who had far more baseball knowledge than I did had him as easily #1, then I must be mistaken somewhere.

Turns out I wasn't mistaken at all, and these elders eventually figured out what was obvious to me. Mike Schmidt, George Brett, Rickey Henderson, and Wade Boggs have been selected as HOFers by this same group, and Don Mattingly has not.

Mattingly's TZ is +33, or +3 per year. He was considered a great fielder but not at the level of Keith Hernandez. Given the limited number of balls hit to a 1B, rating him by reputation would put him around +5, +6 per year, or adding 2-3 WAR to his career total. 40 WAR or 43? Not that big a difference.

For Murphy, from 1980-1983 he was +17 in the field. Then -8, -21, -17. During the -17 year the Braves moved him out of center and put him in right. That makes me think the metric here is picking up on something that the Braves also picked up on: Murphy was slowing down and not covering as much ground in center as he had before. His ratings in right field were very good the next 3 years. The 1985-86 ratings might be too harsh, I could be convinced that he was closer to -5 those years, adding 3 WAR to his career.

As for the gold gloves, they often lag behind reality. It takes a few years for voters to give a guy credit, and then they keep giving it to him out of momentum after he loses a step but before coaches/managers who don't see him every day pick up on it. Trade Murphy's 1985-86 gold gloves for 1980-81 awards (when his legs were fresher) and the historical record would make a lot more sense.
   13. Rally Posted: January 04, 2012 at 12:48 PM (#4028692)
Murphy, BTW, is a guy I've come around on for HOF voting. I'm appreciating his peak value and excusing lack of career value more than I did the last few years, and he was on my BTF ballot.
   14. Something Other Posted: January 04, 2012 at 12:53 PM (#4028700)
That's my memory too. Living in/near Philly and NY in those years, Raines was one guy I marveled at, and Darryl Strawberry was another: both could win games in a lot of ways. Strawberry is another of the guys I'd cite for having no-doubt HOF talent, which he realized briefly and sporadically, but never assembled into a HOF career.
I wouldn't describe Straw as having only briefly and sporadically shown HOF talent. Over something like 8 or 9 years (sorry, can't access his BBRef page at the moment) he put up a 145 OPS+ in RF. He wasn't terrifically durable, but he did average around 145 games a season in that time. He hit close to 300 HRs at Shea when Shea was Citi field. I also don't recall Strawberry being able to win games in "a lot of ways". He was regularly put down as not being very baseball smart, and his inability or refusal to play hitters according to their ability led to a very small area (of presumably worn grass) in RF being derisively referred to as the "Strawberry Patch". He was fast on the bases, sure, but that was cancelled out some by poor instincts. He could steal 20-30 bases in his prime, but only at a 70% success rate.

I don't pretend to have much of an idea of how his career would have turned out after he signed the five year deal with LA, if the high life hadn't gotten to him, but if he had stayed productive into his mid30s then gone the 1B/DH route I can see him making the Hall based on peak/career, with the peak being not great, but very good, and lasting close to a decade. That's probably enough for a HOFer if the decline phase is gentle and even only moderately productive.
   15. Something Other Posted: January 04, 2012 at 01:10 PM (#4028730)
edit: 300 HRs w Shea as his HOME field. Hitting 300 homers AT Shea probably puts Strawberry in comfortably on the first ballot.
   16. GotowarMissAgnes Posted: January 04, 2012 at 01:10 PM (#4028731)
Who was a better offensive player in the mid to late eighties?


If by mid to late eighties, you mean 1984-86, sure he's among the best. By 1987, he's not. Even before that, Murray's as good, as well as some of the other names already mentioned. And heck, you don't even have to buy fancy stats to make that case. How many All-Star starts did Mattingly have during that period? One. The fans certainly didn't even consider him the best player at first base most of those years. How many times was he in the top 3 offensive players for MVP? Three. Nothing after 1986.

Mattingly's feel has everything to do with Yankee homerism. What other player is considered to have a Hall of Fame feel because of an excellent 3 year stretch of performance?
   17. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 04, 2012 at 01:15 PM (#4028740)
What other player is considered to have a Hall of Fame feel because of an excellent 3 year stretch of performance?

TEH FEAR
   18. OCF Posted: January 04, 2012 at 01:15 PM (#4028742)
Who was a better offensive player than Don Mattingly in 84-86, or (even better), 83-87? Tim Raines, that's who.
   19. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: January 04, 2012 at 01:21 PM (#4028747)
you can see I am from New York, but throwing stats out the window Mattingly has more of a Hall of Fame candidacy. Who was a better offensive player in the mid to late eighties?
You can see that I weigh 400 pounds, but throwing actual nutritional value out the window Twinkies has more of an argument as a health food. What was a better snack in the 1980s?
   20. Gotham Dave Posted: January 04, 2012 at 01:28 PM (#4028763)
if he had stayed productive into his mid30s then gone the 1B/DH route I can see him making the Hall based on peak/career, with the peak being not great, but very good, and lasting close to a decade. That's probably enough for a HOFer if the decline phase is gentle and even only moderately productive.
Sounds exactly like Vladimir Guerrero, actually.
   21. villageidiom Posted: January 04, 2012 at 01:39 PM (#4028774)
Who was a better Yankees offensive player in the mid to late eighties?
Fixed that for him.

If you're going to rate players based on "feel" alone, which is somewhat asinine, you should be excluded from voting for players on the team (or in the city of the team) you followed. Every good player on a team you like "feels" better than he is.

Mattingly, to Silva, feels like a HoF'er like Nomar feels to me. Nomar was awesome. Then he was injured. Then he was injured some more. Then his career ended, sooner than I would have expected. But on "feel" I'm still stuck on the awesome part.
   22. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 04, 2012 at 01:42 PM (#4028779)
Mattingly's feel has everything to do with Yankee homerism. What other player is considered to have a Hall of Fame feel because of an excellent 3 year stretch of performance?

Don Mattingly has had a completely ordinary and unthreatening HoF candidacy for someone in his general tier. It's not so different from the Steve Garvey/Maury Wills/Ken Boyer/Tony Oliva/Dale Murphy tier, none of whom have gotten that classic, invisible Yankee homerism bump.

Make an impression early, have at least half a HoF case, play the game "the right way" (whatever that means), and there will often be some residual love.
   23. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: January 04, 2012 at 01:44 PM (#4028783)
For Murphy, from 1980-1983 he was +17 in the field. Then -8, -21, -17. During the -17 year the Braves moved him out of center and put him in right. That makes me think the metric here is picking up on something that the Braves also picked up on: Murphy was slowing down and not covering as much ground in center as he had before. His ratings in right field were very good the next 3 years. The 1985-86 ratings might be too harsh, I could be convinced that he was closer to -5 those years, adding 3 WAR to his career.


FWIW, the Braves claimed they moved Murphy to right because his offense slumped badly in 1986. The idea was that playing him in right would keep him fresher (they ended his consecutive games streak in 1986 as well). Now, this might have been PR cover for a move based on declining defensive skills, but that wasn't the case that was made publicly.
   24. Endless Trash Posted: January 04, 2012 at 01:44 PM (#4028784)

you can see I am from New York, but throwing stats out the window Mattingly has more of a Hall of Fame candidacy. Who was a better offensive player in the mid to late eighties?


Throwing stats out the window? Bo Jackson, sure why not.
   25. Walt Davis Posted: January 04, 2012 at 01:48 PM (#4028789)
Gooden , Strawberry, Hernandez and Mattingly all in NY in the mid eighties...great time to be a new york BB fan!

Or a coke dealer. :-)

OK, I guess you could be both a coke dealer and a NY BB fan but those guys get sent to double Hell.

(no offense to Mattingly who as far as I know never had a connection to coke)

On the "feel" test ...

Bagwell, Mac, Larkin, Raines for sure. Probably Murphy and, yes, probably Morris, at least in his early years on the ballot. And finally Palmeiro. What can I say, back in those days I was a sucker for "big game pitchers", couldn't believe that Catfish Hunter didn't go in first ballot. Looking back and comping him to the rest of the HoF, it's pretty easy to see Hunter is one of the worst selections.

That said ... I had a long time to get used to Raines and Murphy as non-elite. That's one problem with the "feel" test. The article mentions Gooden and that's a more obvious case of the same phenomenon -- mega excitement followed by a long string of "disappointment" even if, as in Raines' case, that long string is still a good player. And I add Palmeiro for the opposite reason. I've always had respect for long careers and am still an old softie for accumulated stats (as long as it's done in a non-emabarrassing fashion). I never thought of Eddie Murray as an HoFer when he was playing but, damn, by the time he was closing in on 3,000 hits and 500 HR, I was sold.

Edgar's another problem with the feel test -- I saw very little of Edgar. He wasn't a BONDS or even a BIG HURT kinda guy that I might go out of my way to catch on TV. I'd guess that being a DH and not a big HR hitter, he probably got less SportsCenter time than other baseball stars -- i.e. no big defensive plays, fewer highlight HRs, etc. He was just one of a dozen or more great hitters in baseball at the time. Which, yes, might affect my opinion that he's just on the outside while Walker and Raines are on the inside. (Not that Walker or Raines were strutting around on SportsCenter either).

Then you get guys you "hate". I "hated" Gossage, Hernandez, Rose, Bench,* was not fond of Dave Parker. On the other hand, I liked Perez, one of my all-time favorite non-Cubs and I have little doubt I'd have easily talked myself into voting for Dawson (who I was thrilled to see make the HoF even if I don't _think_ he quite deserves it).

So I think voting on "feel" is a really bad idea. I think letting it play much role in your decision is a bad idea. I don't have a problem with incorporating a broader set of contemporaneous opinions -- i.e. I might have "hated" this guy but he won a couple of MVPs and made a lot of AS games so maybe I'm under-rating him. So I don't mind bringing in "he was viewed as (one of) the best players in the game" as evidence. But you shouldn't** vote Mattingly, even in part, because he felt like an HoFer _to you_.

* Rose and Bench would have gotten my HoF votes anyway though.

** "Shouldn't" in the ideal sense. But, what the hell, it's your vote, do what you want, especially with down-ballot votes for candidates who don't stand a chance. If it pleases your inner child to tick Mattingly, go for it. Rice and Morris is where we start to have a "problem."
   26. aberg Posted: January 04, 2012 at 01:50 PM (#4028792)
You can see that I weigh 400 pounds, but throwing actual nutritional value out the window Twinkies has more of an argument as a health food. What was a better snack in the 1980s?


That's also why Mo Vaughn didn't "feel" like a hall of famer.
   27. The District Attorney Posted: January 04, 2012 at 01:50 PM (#4028793)
Who was a better Yankees offensive player in the mid to late eighties?
Fixed that for him.
Fixing your fix:
Who, other than Rickey Henderson, was a better Yankees offensive player in the mid to late eighties?
   28. Steve N Posted: January 04, 2012 at 01:53 PM (#4028799)
I can't understand folks saying that Mattingly was the best player in baseball at any time. My memory is that he was never even the best player on the Yankees. Henderson dominateed and the only year he was even slightly off Winfield stepped up.
   29. Rancischley Leweschquens (Tim Wallach was my Hero) Posted: January 04, 2012 at 02:01 PM (#4028816)
Sounds exactly like Vladimir Guerrero, actually.

Vlad does "feel" like a HoFer to me, but I sure know he's not really one. Or maybe, but just borderline.

I am old enough to remember the expectations surrounding Walker, Grissom, Alou, Cliff Floyd, Rondell White and Michael Barrett when each of them was in the Expos farm system. But these were nothing compared to what was being said about Vlad. Even Rondell White - who was sent down to AA to rehab - came up and could not stop talking about the kid in the minor and how he would dwarf them all. The 1990s were honestly a fabulous time to be an Expo fan, despite everything that went off the field.
   30. BDC Posted: January 04, 2012 at 02:07 PM (#4028824)
I wouldn't describe Straw as having only briefly and sporadically shown HOF talent. ... I also don't recall Strawberry being able to win games in "a lot of ways".

Yeah, I don't want to give the impression that Strawberry had no career, or something like that. He had 2 or 3 true MVP-candidate years; he made his mark on the game. But he also had off-years, and years when he missed a lot of games, and he was done by the age of 30 as a star player. In the ranks of the really great, that's brief and sporadic.

And yes, he was criticized for lapses, but he could win a game with a home run, or by drawing a walk and stealing a base and coming around to score, or turning out an unexpected great defensive play. He had a lot of "tools" and deployed them; he was no Willie Mays when it came to alertness, work ethic, or durability. But now and then you could imagine you were watching the new Mays ...

Mattingly too was tremendous for a few years – it's not over-nostalgic to say so if you were young during his prime. But then, Roger Maris was tremendous for a couple of years, and so was Eric Davis, and at the moment I am enjoying every minute of Josh Hamilton while they last. A long list of players had exceptional talent, but lost HOF careers to injury, indiscretion, or just not being built to play much after they turned 30.
   31. Gotham Dave Posted: January 04, 2012 at 02:23 PM (#4028843)
Vlad does "feel" like a HoFer to me, but I sure know he's not really one. Or maybe, but just borderline.
He's very much borderline, and I think a good example of a case where "feel" can be useful. I saw Vlad playing for Harrisburg in 1996 and, like Rondell White, thought he would be a Hall of Famer even then. (Then again, I may or may not have thought the same thing about Ricky Ledee that season.)

I don't think there's too much to distinguish him from Bernie Williams in terms of on-field results (especially since I think bWAR is a bit too rough on Bernie's fielding and a bit too kind on Vlad's), but Bernie, speaking as a Yankee fan, never seemed like a Hall of Famer to me. He was often the best player on the Yankees in the 90s but never the most interesting. Meanwhile, Vlad was hitting pitches in the dirt for doubles and making throws "to home" that went over the third base dugout, all while putting up gaudy batting averages and huge home run numbers. I think when you're deciding which players you want to put forward to future generations as the ones who best represent your era - which is what the Hall is really about, right? - that stuff matters. If a player has a hook, if his style of play can be described easily in a way that's evocative, I think that's a bonus.
   32. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 04, 2012 at 02:26 PM (#4028845)
Dale Murphy is a clear hall of fame player.

But he wasn't good enough to be in the hall of merit.
   33. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 04, 2012 at 02:35 PM (#4028852)
A long list of players had exceptional talent, but lost HOF careers to injury, indiscretion, or just not being built to play much after they turned 30.
The latter plus a late start defines Chase Utley, I fear. :(
   34. Brian Posted: January 04, 2012 at 03:07 PM (#4028902)
I get the whole "look back with the new lenses" thing that we are applying to the question of being considered the best player in baseball but the fact is that Mattingly was absolutely in the general public discussion for Best Player in MLB at the time. More power than Boggs, better average and more power than Brett for 1984-86. He was a great fielder (Defensive statistics have not yet been refined to discern between very good and great reliably) and a doubles machine. He didn't walk much but were appreciated even less then than now. He may not have been hands down the best player but many people thought he was at the time and that is the question that Bill James asks: what was the opinion of the player THEN.
   35. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: January 04, 2012 at 06:31 PM (#4029046)
Charisma, leadership and pinstripes sure do go a long way...
   36. TR_Sullivan Posted: January 04, 2012 at 06:46 PM (#4029058)
I guess this explains why I "feel" Catfish Hunter is one of the best pitchers of all-time. I "feel" better now.
   37. cardsfanboy Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:16 PM (#4029087)
I never thought of Eddie Murray as an HoFer when he was playing but, damn, by the time he was closing in on 3,000 hits and 500 HR, I was sold.


I hear this a lot, and I have never understood it. I was a kid when Murray was playing, and he was one of the few AL players I knew anything about, and always thought he was a hofer. It wasn't until his winding down part of his career that I started hearing rumblings about him being borderline, and I thought it was insane, this was the guy Baseball Digest claimed was the best player in voting history to never win an MVP(an early article that was an attempt at MVP shares)

If you're going to rate players based on "feel" alone, which is somewhat asinine, you should be excluded from voting for players on the team (or in the city of the team) you followed. Every good player on a team you like "feels" better than he is.


Have to agree, if you do that, you are definitely letting the media bias your opinion on the guy. I think too many writers use the feel argument, and it's arguable that the perception of the quality of the player is going to be influenced by factors that aren't relevant to his actual skill(say a guy gets traded, guy plays on a poor team in a less publicized market, guy has a better teammate, etc.)

   38. Walt Davis Posted: January 04, 2012 at 08:01 PM (#4029128)
I hear this a lot, and I have never understood it.

Murray was certainly one of the best but you basically explain it in your own post. He's "the best player not to win an MVP" -- that's not "feels like an HoFer". He never won that MVP. He only led the league in HR and RBI once and that was the split 1981 season with 22 and 78. He never led the league in "batting". Not that I cared at the time but he never led it in OPS, OPS+ or WAR. Heck, he only had 4 top 10 finishes in WAR. He was always the excellent guy, never the great guy.

Which is why I don't like "feel". Cesar Cedeno felt like an HoFer. And there's a very good reason for that -- he played like an HoFer for a while. And the kid in me would love to put Cedeno in the HoF ... because the kid in me doesn't realize how so-so the rest of his career went. Of course he still ended up with a career as good as Kirby Puckett. And more top 10 WAR finishes than Murray. :-) On the other hand, he never led the league in anything either but he was a CF in the Astrodome so I let him pass on the counting stats.

Maybe it just boils down to the notion that 12-year-olds don't really have a clue what an HoFer is. :-)
   39. The District Attorney Posted: January 04, 2012 at 08:18 PM (#4029144)
He never led the league in "batting".
This is technically correct, but as I bet you know, Murray did lead the major leagues in "batting" in 1990 :-)

Murray did "feel" like a HOFer to me. The obvious comparison is Rafael Palmeiro - both 1B who played for Baltimore, both have the 3000 H/500 HR combo as their signature achievement, both were amazingly consistent but never ultra-great. Sounds quite similar, and yet Murray felt far more "dominant." Maybe it's because there were just a lot more hitters putting up big numbers in Palmeiro's era (this would basically amount to saying that Murray simply was the more valuable player.) Maybe it's because the '70s-'80s Orioles were consistently very good, in a very tough (and very media-center-heavy) division. Maybe it's because Murray's reputation was that of a taciturn badass -- a bit of the Jim Rice "fear" element -- while Palmeiro was a bland personality. Maybe it's because Murray was Rookie of the Year and just kept going, while Palmeiro took some time to blossom. Maybe it's because Murray put up most of his value in one stint with one team, while Palmeiro was less tied to a particular time and place. Maybe it's because Murray was a switch-hitter and is high on those leaderboards. Maybe it's some combination of some or all of these factors. The fact that I have no real idea why the two guys "felt" different is one of countless illustrations of "feel" being nonsense...
   40. Adam Starblind Posted: January 04, 2012 at 08:35 PM (#4029162)
Those of us who saw Murray as a Met might have a hard time believing he was a HOF talent - but that's the flip side of the feel test. Intellectually, I know he's a no doubter.
   41. cardsfanboy Posted: January 04, 2012 at 08:44 PM (#4029165)
Maybe it's some combination of some or all of these factors. The fact that I have no real idea why the two guys "felt" different is one of countless illustrations of "feel" being nonsense...


exactly. the 500/3000 hits thing didn't matter to me, Murray always felt like a hofer regardless of his counting stats. A guy can't be clearly the top three hitter in the league for a decade and not be a real candidate. I was shocked when I kept hearing people saying he needed those milestones to cement his hof choice, because to me he was in after 1991 or so, and I just figured that the reason people were saying he needed those numbers is that he was merely just a player for the remaining 8 or so years and his reputation had diminished because of that.

As a teen, when asked to name the best AL player, I can't think of any name(ok, just thought of Brett) I would have picked ahead of Murray. (teen years would be '83-90---of course I wasn't a Ripken fan, didn't really see what was so special about him at the time)
   42. Moeball Posted: January 04, 2012 at 09:30 PM (#4029210)
Murray was interesting to watch as far as I'm concerned. For one thing, he was a fascinating study in the emotional aspects of playing at a high professional level. Always quiet, frequently looked angry - I wondered if he often had to battle the war inside himself to stay in control. Particularly liked him as an example of a player that got a rare chance at redemption in eerily similar circumstances:

1)1979 WS, Baltimore played NL team from Pennsylvania, took a 3-1 lead in games despite the fact Murray had just "oh-ferred" two straight games and his bat had gone ice cold. Media made much of how Eddie had been one of Baltimore's big run-producers that season (they were talking ribbies, of course)to help Orioles get into the postseason. With a 3-1 lead in the Series, Orioles were expected to beat Pirates since they figured Eddie's bat should come around and carry them to at least one more win. Didn't happen. Eddie didn't get a hit the rest of the Series as Pirates won 3 straight to take Series in 7 games.

2)1983 WS, 4 years later. Baltimore played NL team from Pennsylvania, took a 3-1 lead in games despite the fact that Murray's bat was ice cold (was 2 for 16 and hadn't driven in any runs through the first 4 games). Media made much of how Eddie had been Baltimore's biggest run-producer that season (they were talking ribbies, of course)to help Orioles get into the postseason. They were also pointing out how it looked like history was repeating itself under almost identical circumstances and now they were talking like Eddie was the world's biggest choker, he wasn't going to get untracked and the Orioles were somehow going to blow the Series...again. Well, as we all now know, that's not how the story ended. In Game 5 Murray absolutely crushed two mammoth homers to provide the offense for Scott McGregor and the O's wrapped up the Series over the Phillies, 4 games to 1. The look on Eddie's face as he was batting in that game was just intense as you could tell how badly he wanted to turn things around.
   43. Walt Davis Posted: January 04, 2012 at 11:43 PM (#4029304)
A guy can't be clearly the top three hitter in the league for a decade

Do you mean top 3 hitter, year after year after year, for a decade? Or top 3 when you combine across a decade. The former I agree but Murray was never that guy. The latter I kinda disagree unless the guy has added in some dominant seasons.

But if we're going to have this silly debate (I started it so I know it's silly), let's clarify a few things:

1. When I say by the time he got to the milestones I knew he was, I don't mean like the night before. He didn't have to get there to be an HoFer in my "feeling" but he had to have a long career.

2. When we say "feels like an HoFer", I take it to mean "first-ballot, no-doubter". And we need to try to distinguish between "felt" and "knew". I don't recall Ozzie ever feeling like an HoFer to me but, by the time he was reaching the end, it was clear he was going to sail in. Meanwhile, for a good while there at least, Sandberg most definitely "felt" like an HoFer (Cub bias didn't hurt).

Which kind of gets us to the "hit by a bus test". By the end of 1990, Murray have over 9000 PA and a 140 OPS+. He had less than 400 HR, less than 1500 RBI, BA under 300, <2400 hits, no MVPs. Now guys with those numbers (in those days) usually eventually made it but not on the first ballot. And given Bagwell, Edgar, Walker, they pretty clearly aren't gonna make it 1st ballot with those sorts of numbers now either. "Feels like an HoFer" is not, to me, "if this guy keeps this up for another 12-15 years" -- there are tons of guys for which that is true, very few of whom keep it up for another 12-15 years.

So I guess if I had to define it "felt like an HoFer" is (a) a young player who (b) if he keeps this up for 8-10 years can (c) get hit by a bus and still make it to the HoF. Basically, to be a no-doubt HoFer, what Murray had to do was keep doing what he'd done from, say, 21-25 for a total of 10,000 PA (and even then he's short of 3,000/500). Now he did it for nearly 13,000 so he didn't sneak up on us or anything.

From ages 21-26, Murray had a 139 (or 136 ... Play Index gets a bit screwy sometimes) OPS+. Other guys around there, same ages, 3000+ PA are Cepeda, Rice, Canseco, Fielder (139), Cedeno (139), Staub (139), Barry Bonds, Hanley, D Wright, Juan Gone, J Clark, Luzinski, Bench, Torre. Now Cepeda (before my time), Rice and Cedeno felt like HoFers. For positional reasons, so did Hanley, Wright, Bench and Torre and Trosky. But even among that group, only Bench sailed in. Is that really a group of "felt like HoFers"? Even ignoring the silly ball era, he was behind Cepeda, Rice, Bench and Trosky in HR.

Just ahead of Cepeda are a couple of interesting guys. You've got Vlad who is starting to enter that "boy he was great for a while" area. Another is Miguel Cabrera -- who took a big step forward by putting up 178 and 181 OPS+s the last two years, including a BA and RBI title. Murray never made that leap, he just kept turning out pedestrian 156s. :-)

Maybe I just have ridiculously high standards. My guy, Cedeno, is there. But in addition to that 139 OPS+ he was playing CF and he had 337 steals in those 6 years. However do feel free to ridicule me for thinking Rice felt like one but Murray didn't -- I blame the media!

This is technically correct, but as I bet you know, Murray did lead the major leagues in "batting" in 1990 :-)

If it ain't bold, I ain't sold. Or something that rhymes.

Actually I did not know that ... and it appears to be italicized but not bolded which (if you're listening Sean) doesn't work. :-) So he had one batting title ... at the age of 34 which is a little old for the "felt like an HoFer" algorithm.

   44. Walt Davis Posted: January 04, 2012 at 11:52 PM (#4029306)
And it all looks a lot worse if you go by WAR. Murray 21-26 had 25.4 WAR. For those ages, 3000+ PA ... well, there are 13 guys just between 25.0 and 26.0 WAR. He's still with Cabrera and Bonds ... but it's Bobby now. That list is Bonds, Cabrera, Chavez, Mattingly, Staub, Callison, Murray, Rolen, Chapman, Crawford, Trammell, Alomar, Hernandez. He was tied for 32nd on the OPS+ list, he's in 61st on the WAR list. Still plenty respectable obviously but, honest, is that "feels like an HoFer territory"?

OK, Mattingly's there so I guess the answer is yes.
   45. cardsfanboy Posted: January 05, 2012 at 02:12 AM (#4029340)
again, it's just a feel. I was born in 1970. My baseball knowledge started in 1976 and continued on in a NL centric fashion. Eddie Murray was the only guy in the AL that I "KNEW" was a hofer to be by 1987. (again I exagerrated, George Brett was also on that list, and so was Reggie Jackson, but to my mind at the time, Reggie was going in because of Yankee bias and an over evaluation of the homerun)
   46. Something Other Posted: January 05, 2012 at 03:13 AM (#4029349)
Did David Wright during his prime "feel" like a Hall of Famer to anyone? He never quite did to me, and I'm a Mets fan. I'm wondering too, how people see Wright's peak. It was short and good, not great, 4 years with an OPS+ around 140 or so. Even his decline years aren't really that bad. He doesn't throw a true down year in there, there's no 90 on his resume, but rather OPS+'s around 125 and 130. Wright's got 38 oWAR to date, but his glove brings that down to 32 or 33. He's got very good counting stats for a 28 year old 3Bman, averaging over 90 RBIs for 8 seasons, almost 700 runs scored. If he can double those, he probably goes in. He's already got 5 All-Star games, and even got there during two of his down years, so people like him, which won't hurt. Two GGs, though I have no idea how he got them. Was it the ribbies? It's a nice half of a HOF resume.

Still and all, he always seemed like "just" a very, very good player. Can he put tack on a decade of 115 OPS+ at a corner and make it, or will he seen as a Damon-like player who needs a milestone to get The Call?
   47. DanG Posted: January 05, 2012 at 09:36 AM (#4029399)
Throwing in the stats.

Most WAR during Mattingly's prime, position players 1984-89:

Rk              Player WAR/pos Rfield  RC OPS+   PA   Age  HR RBI
1           Wade Boggs    48.9     55 802  152 4305 26
-31  54 405 H
2     Rickey Henderson    41.7     56 654  138 3713 25
-30 103 348 H
3           Cal Ripken    35.7     53 588  122 4259 23
-28 149 549 H
4          Ozzie Smith    34.3    114 459  100 3747 29
-34  12 328 H
5        Don Mattingly    32.8     19 721  147 4104 23
-28 160 684
6        Alan Trammell    32.2     50 537  121 3653 26
-31  96 418
7           Tim Raines    32.0     10 675  140 3780 24
-29  67 339
8           Tony Gwynn    31.9     18 634  136 3984 24
-29  43 362 H
9    Darryl Strawberry    28.5     
-9 581  147 3455 22-27 189 551
10       Ryne Sandberg    28.0      4 609  121 3993 24
-29 124 447 H 
   48. Rally Posted: January 05, 2012 at 09:55 AM (#4029414)
Those of us who saw Murray as a Met might have a hard time believing he was a HOF talent - but that's the flip side of the feel test. Intellectually, I know he's a no doubter.


I we voted based on what they looked like with the Mets, we'd have to keep Willie Mays out of the hall :-)
   49. Something Other Posted: January 05, 2012 at 10:19 PM (#4030037)
I we voted based on what they looked like with the Mets, we'd have to keep Willie Mays out of the hall :-)
Burn the witch!
   50. cardsfanboy Posted: January 05, 2012 at 10:23 PM (#4030039)
Still and all, he always seemed like "just" a very, very good player. Can he put tack on a decade of 115 OPS+ at a corner and make it, or will he seen as a Damon-like player who needs a milestone to get The Call?


I think the problem with thirdbaseman is that they don't feel like hofers, they don't hit as well as the other corner positions, and their defense isn't regarded as much as the up the middle guys. I remember having discussions about Chipper not being a hofer within the past 3 seasons with people on these boards. If you aren't Mike Schmidt at third, you don't feel like a hofer to some.
   51. Tuque Posted: January 06, 2012 at 01:04 AM (#4030123)
Man. I always forget about how good Wade Boggs was.
   52. danup Posted: January 06, 2012 at 01:43 AM (#4030135)
Did David Wright during his prime "feel" like a Hall of Famer to anyone? He never quite did to me, and I'm a Mets fan. I'm wondering too, how people see Wright's peak. It was short and good, not great, 4 years with an OPS+ around 140 or so.

I think the problem for Wright is that his peak began when he was 22 and ended, in this configuration, at 25—all that time I (and presumably other NL fans watching the Mets and getting nervous) expected him to be moving into a higher gear right about now. That was supposed to be the prelude to his peak, and instead it's turned out, so far, to be his peak.

If you were to put his 26-28 seasons in front of that peak—say, as 23-25—and then give him his run from 26-29 instead I think he'd "feel" much more like the borderline Hall of Famer he could well end up being, especially if he ran off a few of those 115 OPS+ years afterward.
   53. Squash Posted: January 06, 2012 at 02:59 AM (#4030147)
I became a baseball fan during the 1986 postseason (I was 8), and 1987 was the first season I really remember in entirety. Two things:

1) Mattingly was definitely not considered the best player in baseball - in fact, there was no player who really held that title at that period in time. Boggs was really good, but was sort of considered a freak, an oddity. The Rickey Henderson flame had burned most brightly in the early 80s, though in retrospect he was still probably the best player. Cal Ripken ditto, still great but not the very best, especially on a year-to-year basis. Tony Gwynn was really good but considered something of specialist. Strawberry was still in the "what could be" phase.

2) Neither was Eddie Murray, by a longshot, though he was considered a second-tier star. The Palmeiro comparison is very apt - neither was ever one of THE VERY VERY BEST hitters in their league, but being the number 4 or 5 or 6 hitter every year for 10 years often means that overall you were the number 2 or 3 hitter for that period all told. That was Murray, and that was Palmeiro. Both HOFers. Murray slightly better given the context. But nobody gets to 3,000/500 without being really good, whatever era they played in.
   54. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 06, 2012 at 05:48 AM (#4030165)
1) Mattingly was definitely not considered the best player in baseball

New York Times, January 1987:
"...Mattingly, who almost by acclamation is considered the best player playing baseball today."

L.A. Times, August 1987:
"A 1986 New York Times poll of the 624 major league players resulted in Mattingly's being voted baseball's best player."

Houston Chronicle, October 1987:
"Don Mattingly, widely regarded as the best player in baseball, is the first to receive a perfect score in statistical rankings..."

Sports Illustrated, October 1986:
"...the definitive 1986 judgment on Mattingly will not be that he lost the batting title, but rather that he won the unofficial title of best player in baseball."

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