Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Friday, January 10, 2014

SocraticGadfly: Sabermetric geniuses aren’t always such on the Hall of Fame

In the long run we are all Murray Chass.

It’s fun to talk about who should be in the Hall of Fame, and also, who shouldn’t, whether those currently lurking outside, or those already in, either due to voters before the day of advanced baseball analysis, or hacks on previous incarnations of the Veterans Committee. It’s especially fun when we can set aside questions about the world of roiding.

But, sabermetric pioneers and geniuses aren’t always that. Especially when they ignore what their own analysis says.

And, annual Baseball Hall of Fame discussion proves that.

As Exhibit A, I present Jay Jaffe, creator of the JAWS metric. In this piece for SI, he seems to think, beyond both sabermetric and counting evidence, that Gil Hodges is a Hall of Famer.

Really? Less than 45 WAR, less than 15 WAA and fewer than 2,000 hits.

And, back to Jaffe. His own metric has Hodges 15 points below the average HOFer at 1B.

I mean, the man’s in the same territory as Carlos Delgado and Mark Grace! And Mark Teixeira!

All are likely fine human beings, but there’s not a HOFer in the bunch.

And Bill James, the granddaddy of sabermetrics, also has his misses, a few of them whoppers.

I don’t care if Steve Wulf of ESPN says that Bill James says that Steve Garvey should have been in the MLB Hall of Fame 15 years ago, because they’re both wrong.

...There’s lies, damned lies, and sabermetricians who will try to manipulate their own findings. Or set them aside. Or do special pleading for “just this player,” then repeat that four or five times.

Yes, eyeball tests, etc., can complement sabermetrics in making Hall judgments. But, even if you’re a James or a Jaffe, if you think a favorite childhood player should get in the Hall “just because,” at least be honest about it.

So, as we already start talk about the 2015 ballot, take even the sabermetric gurus with a grain of salt at times.

Repoz Posted: January 10, 2014 at 06:48 AM | 29 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hof, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. cardsfanboy Posted: January 10, 2014 at 10:02 AM (#4635524)
Did Bill James tout Steve Garvey's candidacy? That article in the link talks about the hof monitor saying Garvey will go in, not Bill James saying he should go in.

And I looked at the Hodges comment from Jaffe, and it doesn't look like he's campaigning as much as talking about lowering the threshold. His point being that everyone who eventually passes 50% eventually goes in, with the exception of Hodges. (not sure I agree with Jaffe on the need to lower the threshold, but at the time of the article he was factually right) Jaffe's point is why waste time with up ballot candidates who are going to go in eventually, and everyone knows it, and instead put them in now. (again I don't agree with this point, but I don't think Jaffe is campaigning for Hodges)

This writer is a first class idiot, with the reading comprehension skills of a 3rd grader, and utterly lacks the concept of nuance and subjective arguments.
   2. jdennis Posted: January 10, 2014 at 10:12 AM (#4635534)
Yeah, I remember the Jaffe article, he was definitely not campaigning for Hodges. He was basically saying, if we lower the threshold to 50, what guys get in that I don't want? Gil Hodges and Jack Morris. Okay, I'll take two guys I don't want over the course of 50 years if it fixes all these things. It's a slight apples to oranges comparison because his argument is only valid if the VC is gone.

I actually like almost all of the HOF voting process, as much as it has been maligned. I like that there is criteria for getting on, staying on, and a relatively high threshold for election. But with a huge voting body, maybe the actual numbers could fluctuate or something. Same with the ballot limit. Make it adjustable year to year.

The main thing I would fix about the vote process, and I've said it before, is to change the voting body. I like that it's huge, I think that makes it much more legit, but I think that retired 10-year players/coaches who forsake future HOF eligibility during lifetime or something, HOFers, 10-year SABR members, etc. should be allowed to vote. Perhaps there could be multiple bodies of similar size and if you get 75% in ONE of them you get elected. Also a way for voting eligibility to expire, for example an age limit of 84 or ten years of retirement or something. That's the stuff I would change. The percentages and ballot limits are a right now problem, I'm not so sure they should just be tossed like many have suggested.
   3. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 10, 2014 at 10:13 AM (#4635536)
This writer is a first class idiot, with the reading comprehension skills of a 3rd grader, and utterly lacks the concept of nuance and subjective arguments.

It might be a third grader.
   4. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: January 10, 2014 at 10:22 AM (#4635543)
Did Bill James tout Steve Garvey's candidacy? That article in the link talks about the hof monitor saying Garvey will go in, not Bill James saying he should go in.

I've seen people make this mistake before - thinking that the monitor shows who James thinks should be in the HOF, not a reflection of milestones reached which attempt to predict whether a player will be voted in. A minute of reading makes the distinction clear.
   5. cardsfanboy Posted: January 10, 2014 at 10:23 AM (#4635545)
The percentages and ballot limits are a right now problem, I'm not so sure they should just be tossed like many have suggested.


About the only two things I would "campaign" for change in the process is 1. Get rid of the ballot limit. (not a 10, not a 15...no limit) but I'm fine with expanding it, I just don't see any purpose for a finite ballot limit. As someone on this board has been arguing, the hof ballot is about a yes/no binary question, it's not an mvp award where you are ranking the players. 2. Expand the voting body. I actually agree with most of the rules the bbwaa has set up, including the 10 year wait, I just wish they would expand the people eligible to be members earlier (or if the bbwaa doesn't want to give out membership and the advantages it has, create a separate category of bbwaa membership that doesn't get a 'press pass' for access, but does earn the right after a decade of doing the job)

I'm not a fan of forcing established voters out, but I could be convinced of that. I have no problem with evaluating the voters and saying "you are tarnishing the reputation." in cases of guys like Chass or whoever it was that forgot Rickey Henderson on the ballot. (and I think that writers should be required to publish their ballots with a short reasoning on their part---if they have no medium to publish it, let the bbwaa website handle it)
   6. Bob Meta-Meusel Posted: January 10, 2014 at 10:25 AM (#4635546)
But if you read the articles he links to, they don't actually say what he seems to think they say.

James wrote that his Hall of Fame Monitor suggested that Garvey would be elected... not that he should be.
Jaffe suggested that the percentage of votes required for admission should be lowered, and that doing so would let Hodges in, but that was more incidental than anything. I don't get the impression he wants Hodges in any more than he wants Morris in, but he's OK with it as a byproduct of his proposed change to the process.

As for
But, even if you’re a James or a Jaffe, if you think a favorite childhood player should get in the Hall “just because,” at least be honest about it.

That's just patently absurd. Bill James was 22 when Garvey made his major leage debut and 40 when he retired. Jay Jaffe was 2 when Gil Hodges died. Neither one could have possibly been a "favorite childhood player".

   7. AROM Posted: January 10, 2014 at 10:27 AM (#4635549)
How terrible it is when sabermetricians fail to blindly follow where WAR/Win Shares leads them.
   8. The District Attorney Posted: January 10, 2014 at 10:55 AM (#4635576)
This writer is a first class idiot
He is the same guy who decided it'd be a good idea to contact Murray Chass about his "anti-Jack Morris campaign". So, yeah.

The funny part is that James does actually support Don Mattingly, which is not quite as bad as Garvey, but Mattingly ain't a deserving Hall of Famer, either. So that example was right there for the writer, if he had any idea what he was talking about.

It'd be interesting to see a recap of unusual "pet candidates" whom, you know, actually have the support of the writer in question. James has also said John Olerud should be a no-brainer. Rob Neyer has talked a few times about opening the HOF up to non-players other than managers, executives and umps. He's advocated for Al Campanis, as well as some other weirdos I can't recall right now. Keith Olbermann has a list of like 30 guys from the 1890s whom you've never heard of that he wants in. Dan Rosenheck had Bert Campaneris between Glavine and Sosa on his last Hall of Merit ballot. Mike Emeigh suetc.

It'd be a fun article. But it's not like it'd actually matter, either. Hell, a bunch of us are voting for Bret Saberhagen for the Hall of Fame in the current BTF referendum. That probably makes less sense to the average baseball fan than Steve Garvey in the Hall of Fame does. But if that's what you think, you should say it, regardless of the general popularity of the position.
   9. kthejoker Posted: January 10, 2014 at 12:34 PM (#4635727)
While I think the voting is flawed and such, clearly all the drama around it, the actual vote tallying itself, the announcement, and the post mortem are all good news fodder, so good luck with that.

   10. John Northey Posted: January 10, 2014 at 01:15 PM (#4635773)
I see three changes as easy, one as tough...
1) expanding the ballot to 15 names - 10 is too small, 20 would be viewed as too large and unlimited too silly (someone would vote for everyone)
2) Remove the blank ballot option, if it is blank it isn't counted. Also put in stronger spoiled ballot rules so no more writing in 'Pete Rose' or your ballot is rejected
3) Make it 100% public - release who voted for who on the BBWAA website after each election.

And the tough one...
4) expanding the voters to include non BBWAA as well - 10+ year tv/radio broadcasters. Perhaps via them joining the BBWAA with a special '10 year exemption' for certain broadcasters (ones with over 10 years experience, or 20 if you prefer to make it a high barrier). Try to get it so those who have been inactive for a long stretch are removed as well, or just don't count blank ballots. Ideally you'd add others but that is what the vet committee is all about (former GM's, players, etc.) and for that one I'd remove BBWAA members as they already had their say on those players.
   11. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: January 10, 2014 at 01:22 PM (#4635785)
4) expanding the voters to include non BBWAA as well - 10+ year tv/radio broadcasters. Perhaps via them joining the BBWAA with a special '10 year exemption' for certain broadcasters (ones with over 10 years experience, or 20 if you prefer to make it a high barrier).


Go around the BBWAA entirely. TV/Radio broadcasters should form their own association. Vote and publish the ballot. Send it to the HOF with a public notice that "we feel equally or better qualified as newspaper writers; this isn't 1930 any more." Advocate until the Hall counts your votes too. There's no reason the Hall can't accept votes from multiple credentializing organizations.
   12. Barnaby Jones Posted: January 10, 2014 at 01:27 PM (#4635788)
This is the most pretentiously titled blog I've ever seen.
   13. Howie Menckel Posted: January 10, 2014 at 01:32 PM (#4635790)

"I've seen people make this mistake before - thinking that the monitor shows who James thinks should be in the HOF,"

how about the "most comparable players" toy on BBTF - it gets trotted out even here all the time....
   14. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 10, 2014 at 01:36 PM (#4635796)
Did Bill James tout Steve Garvey's candidacy? That article in the link talks about the hof monitor saying Garvey will go in, not Bill James saying he should go in.


James touched on Garvey a bit in "The Politics of Glory", but was pretty noncommittal.
   15. Joey B. is being stalked by a (Gonfa) loon Posted: January 10, 2014 at 01:37 PM (#4635797)
3) Make it 100% public - release who voted for who on the BBWAA website after each election.

So that the lunatic peanuts with no life of the type who are so overrepresented on this site can find the ones that they don't agree with and then harass them for the rest of their lives?

Yeah, that will absolutely never happen in a million years, nor should it.
   16. Jesse Barfield's Right Arm Posted: January 10, 2014 at 01:43 PM (#4635802)
He was basically saying, if we lower the threshold to 50, what guys get in that I don't want? Gil Hodges and Jack Morris. Okay, I'll take two guys I don't want over the course of 50 years if it fixes all these things. It's a slight apples to oranges comparison because his argument is only valid if the VC is gone.

This argument may even be more flawed. Yes, 50 gets you in historically, but this only applies under the historical constraints of a 75% threshold for election! Move it to 50 and who knows what happens? Maybe at 50%, all sorts of people in the 30s and 40s get a late push and get in...

I would reverse Jaffe's argument and say: well, who are the real outstanding baseball players (Rose/Steroid suspects excepted) who have been screwed over by the current system and are not in and are likely not getting in? Grinch, Raines? I'm okay with them being out if it means a whole bunch of players who normally poll in the 30s and 40s get in.
   17. bunyon Posted: January 10, 2014 at 02:01 PM (#4635817)

James touched on Garvey a bit in "The Politics of Glory", but was pretty noncommittal.


So was Garvey.
   18. ThickieDon Posted: January 10, 2014 at 02:07 PM (#4635819)
I think WAR could/should be used to have a referendum-type vote on certain high-WAR guys to get either back on the ballot or simply elected through the back door.

For example, Rice had only 50 WAR - anyone over that who fell off the ballot should be added back to the ballot or a Veterans ballot.

You can't kick people like Rice out, but if he's in, while numerous others aren't, then the Hall is a joke.
   19. The District Attorney Posted: January 10, 2014 at 02:17 PM (#4635826)
So, I look up "Garvey" on Bill's pay site. I see him say twice that Garvey wasn't as good as Ron Cey. So then I try to figure out how he evaluates Cey. He had a "Brooks Robinson tournament" where he ranked the third basemen whom he classified as being in the "Brooks Robinson mold". James gives the Win Values¹ of the top guys in this group as:

Chipper 450, Brooks 418, Nettles 382, Santo 368, B. Bell 354, Rolen 346, Cey 340, J. Collins 322, Bando 321, Elliott 319, K. Boyer 304

Then he says:
Players of this caliber, historically, are presumptive Hall of Famers at most positions. I don’t have exact data, but I am quite confident that, at most positions, the clear majority of players with career Win Value of 300 to 350 are in the Hall of Fame.

Since only one of the 9 players listed above [after Chipper and Brooks] is in the Hall of Fame (Collins)², this implicitly argues that there are 8 more who should be or could be. Many of you will be uncomfortable with this argument. That’s fine; I’m not actually arguing that these 8 players should all be in the Hall of Fame. The only one I’m actually arguing for is Santo.

However, I will observe that if all 8 of these players were selected to the Hall of Fame, this would merely bring the number of third basemen in the Hall up to level with some other positions.

If he's "not arguing for" Cey, thinks Garvey is worse than Cey, and has never actually said he supports Garvey... I think it's fair to say he doesn't support Garvey.

(He has made his usual "Garvey wouldn't be the worst guy in there" point a couple of times.)

¹ Win Value = Win Shares + ((Win Shares – Loss Shares)/2). Cey has 274 WS, 142 LS.
² This was written in October, 2010; Santo was of course subsequently elected.
   20. Walt Davis Posted: January 10, 2014 at 03:59 PM (#4635908)
On the broadcasters thing ... while I agree they are an obvious potential voting body, do we really want to expand the vote to them? People here want to give Rex Hudler and Hawk Harrelson a vote? I can't see anything that makes them more qualified than the writers and no reason to think they aren't bringing the same attitudes as the writers.

And would Harold Reynolds get a vote? He doesn't call games but has been doing baseball on TV for a long time. Does Joe Morgan still qualify as a former broadcaster?
   21. cardsfanboy Posted: January 10, 2014 at 05:46 PM (#4635984)
On the broadcasters thing ... while I agree they are an obvious potential voting body, do we really want to expand the vote to them? People here want to give Rex Hudler and Hawk Harrelson a vote? I can't see anything that makes them more qualified than the writers and no reason to think they aren't bringing the same attitudes as the writers.


I do not get wanting to include the broadcasters at all. They are paid by the teams, they are the ultimate definition of homers.
   22. Swedish Chef Posted: January 10, 2014 at 06:04 PM (#4635992)
Yeah, I remember the Jaffe article, he was definitely not campaigning for Hodges. He was basically saying, if we lower the threshold to 50, what guys get in that I don't want?

If the threshold is lowered to 50%, everybody over 40% will get in eventually...
   23. Paul Antonissen Posted: January 10, 2014 at 09:22 PM (#4636057)
James recently reviewed Garvey's candidacy in a series of article reviewing all the expansion era ballot candidates. First:
My criteria state that if a player has neither 300 Career Win Shares nor 100 more Win Shares than Loss Shares, that he is not a viable Hall of Fame candidate. . .


Garvey is 291 & +92 His conclusion:

In my opinion, Steve Garvey is in the gray area with regard to the Hall of Fame, but would I vote for him? No. On this list of 12 candidates, I would rank him 9th.


   24. Jay Jaffe Posted: January 10, 2014 at 10:47 PM (#4636073)
Good grief, Charlie Brown.

The author of this post has indeed misinterpreted what I wrote. My point was about the history of the voting, not about Hodges, whom I don't believe any iteration of JAWS has found to be Hallworthy. My point in bringing him up over and over again is that once the simple majority of BBWAA voters has spoken, history shows that everything after that is basically bureaucracy for bureaucracy's sake, because those players are going in eventually. Why prolong the wait at the risk of one of them dying?

Any change to the 75% rule (which won't happen, the Hall won't consider moving from that line, I'm told by people in the know) wouldn't be retroactive. It would apply to future elections, and it would probably change the way voters approach the ballot at least somewhat, such that 50% wouldn't mean the same thing as before. But whatever. Nobody is going back to admit Gil Hodges, and I wouldn't advocate for it. He was a good-not-great player.
   25. The District Attorney Posted: January 10, 2014 at 10:55 PM (#4636077)
   26. Ray K Posted: January 10, 2014 at 11:03 PM (#4636081)
You can't kick people like Rice out, but if he's in, while numerous others aren't, then the Hall is a joke.


Then why even bother with a vote? Why not just automatically induct someone if they have 50 WAR. Then we can present the All-Time Great Baseball Players in a format that most suits the new, non-joke Hall... as entries in a numerically sorted spreadsheet.

The subjectivity, rancor, and debate about how to measure value is the only thing that makes the HOF induction process interesting.
   27. Cyril Morong Posted: January 11, 2014 at 02:42 PM (#4636380)
Where are Loss Shares listed? Do you have to subscribe to Bill James online? Or are they somewhere else?
   28. The District Attorney Posted: January 13, 2014 at 12:32 PM (#4637722)
Where are Loss Shares listed? Do you have to subscribe to Bill James online? Or are they somewhere else?
There's no comprehensive list yet. I don't think Bill thinks the system is ready to be publicly released yet, so the only time we know anyone's Loss Shares is when he writes an article about specific players.
   29. Cyril Morong Posted: January 13, 2014 at 01:46 PM (#4637809)
Thanks

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
aleskel
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogConnie Marrero, oldest Major Leaguer, dies at 102
(26 - 1:40am, Apr 25)
Last: ajnrules

NewsblogOT: The NHL is finally back thread, part 2
(239 - 1:40am, Apr 25)
Last: Shredder

NewsblogOT: NBA Monthly Thread - April 2014
(535 - 1:38am, Apr 25)
Last: Maxwn

NewsblogPelicans' patient Gallo hits three homers | MiLB.com News
(6 - 1:33am, Apr 25)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogOMNICHATTER for 4-24-2014
(65 - 1:33am, Apr 25)
Last: Joyful Calculus Instructor

NewsblogNY Times: The Upshot: Up Close on Baseball’s Borders
(61 - 1:32am, Apr 25)
Last: if nature called, ladodger34 would listen

NewsblogMatt Williams: No problem with Harper's two-strike bunting
(31 - 1:31am, Apr 25)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogKeri: Slump City: Why Does the 2014 MLB Season Suddenly Feel Like 1968?
(48 - 1:30am, Apr 25)
Last: tshipman

NewsblogJust how great can Atlanta's Andrelton Simmons be? | SportsonEarth.com : Howard Megdal Article
(10 - 1:09am, Apr 25)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogIndians Usher Says He Was Fired for Refusing to Wear Pro-Sin Tax Sticker
(27 - 12:55am, Apr 25)
Last: Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams)

NewsblogOTP April 2014: BurstNET Sued for Not Making Equipment Lease Payments
(2654 - 12:54am, Apr 25)
Last: Ron J

NewsblogMichael Pineda ejected from Red Sox game after pine tar discovered on neck
(128 - 12:44am, Apr 25)
Last: Buck Coats

Jim's Lab NotesWe're Moved! (And Burst.net can bite me!)
(107 - 12:25am, Apr 25)
Last: Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame)

NewsblogOT: The Soccer Thread March, 2014
(1070 - 12:12am, Apr 25)
Last: Textbook Editor

NewsblogJonah Keri Extended Interview | Video | Late Night with Seth Meyers | NBC
(16 - 12:08am, Apr 25)
Last: Manny Coon

Demarini, Easton and TPX Baseball Bats

 

 

 

 

Page rendered in 0.7100 seconds
52 querie(s) executed