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Monday, January 07, 2013

The Joe Posnanski HOF Ballot

Ballot: Bonds, Clemens, Bagwell, Biggio, Schilling, Piazza, Trammell, Raines, E. Martinez, L. Walker.

and this surprise on Dale Murphy…

I have voted for Dale Murphy every year because I think, in his prime, he played at a Hall of Fame level and because I think the character clause should cut both ways. Dale Murphy will come off the ballot after this year – and, in some ways, I think that’s a good thing, because I think the Veterans Committee needs to stop messing around with the picked-over eras they keep searching and start looking at players from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. I intend to keep making Dale Murphy’s case for them … though this year, because the ballot is so overstuffed, I did not vote for the Murph.

My Hall of Fame vote: No.

Repoz Posted: January 07, 2013 at 07:25 AM | 137 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hof

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   101. alilisd Posted: January 07, 2013 at 08:03 PM (#4341275)
I think that WAR is really difficult to use to compare between eras for pitchers.


I think comparing pitcher/players across eras is hugely problematic, regardless of what metric you use. For example, the brief list CFB put up earlier has three 19th C/Deadball pitchers on it. Comparing them to Schilling and trying to determine who is better seems hopeless to me. Kid Nichols was a great pitcher in his time, but there's simply no way, IMO, we can say whether he would have been as great in the 1930's, 1960's or 1990's (though I'm sure he would have been better than Jack Morris if he'd pitched in the 1980's :-).
   102. cardsfanboy Posted: January 07, 2013 at 08:28 PM (#4341298)
I think comparing pitcher/players across eras is hugely problematic, regardless of what metric you use. For example, the brief list CFB put up earlier has three 19th C/Deadball pitchers on it. Comparing them to Schilling and trying to determine who is better seems hopeless to me. Kid Nichols was a great pitcher in his time, but there's simply no way, IMO, we can say whether he would have been as great in the 1930's, 1960's or 1990's (though I'm sure he would have been better than Jack Morris if he'd pitched in the 1980's :-).


Don't bother to timeline, just rate them compared to how much better than they were over their peers. Timelining is a folish errand. Nichols played in a different era, that is true, but he dwarved his competition by being able to pitch at a higher level and for a longer period of time. Same with Cy Young.

As far as the '80's' are concerned, Jack Morris is getting a nod because he was among the best in a group of tightly bunched pitchers that had a spread where there were no elite pitchers stringing a long career. The greatest of anything in baseball are going to be guys who performed at a high level relative to the average and did it for a long period of time. Schilling's issue is that he performed at a high level, but not the highest level, and did it for a long period of time, but not the longest during his era.


Schilling is 93rd(no era+ required)89th(100era+) 57th(110era+) on the all times innings pitched list, he's 26th(2000ip) 20th(2500ip) or 15th(3000ip) in era+ and in all of those cases he should be considered arguably at least 5 spots higher. Just with that information alone, it seems that he's a guy who is squarely in top 30 range of all time, without having to deal with narrative.
   103. Karl from NY Posted: January 07, 2013 at 08:34 PM (#4341303)
Schilling is 93rd(no era+ required)89th(100era+) 57th(110era+) on the all times innings pitched list, he's 26th(2000ip) 20th(2500ip) or 15th(3000ip) in era+ and in all of those cases he should be considered arguably at least 5 spots higher.

Is that consideration giving Schilling credit for unearned run prevention (where he was historically great, as we know)? Postseason? Or something else?

I subscribe to what seems to be the consensus view on Schilling around here. Borderline by the traditional metrics, but gets pushed in via additional credit for UER and postseason. Narrative too, if you like that -- instrumental in two famous Yankee postseason knockouts.
   104. cardsfanboy Posted: January 07, 2013 at 09:16 PM (#4341316)
Is that consideration giving Schilling credit for unearned run prevention (where he was historically great, as we know)? Postseason? Or something else?


Unearned run consideration(I would argue his era+ should be considered in the 133-135 neighborhood). My point is that it doesn't take much squinting to see Schilling as a clear top 30 or so pitcher. That he is arguably in the 20-30 range all time and that anyone in that range should be considered a slam dunk candidate.
   105. Walt Davis Posted: January 07, 2013 at 09:32 PM (#4341335)
This took a while and there were interruptions so Cokes to all I owe Cokes to ...

I think most 'Edgar deserved better' folks would be perfectly willing to posit a Magadan year as a decent guess for 87-89.

Whoa!

87? In 1986, Edgar hit 264/383/390 at AA ... and you think he was ready for an ML starting job?

1987 was his breakout season in the minors and he got a cup of coffee in Sept. By the way, in 1986 Presley put up a 105 OPS+ which had been preceded by a 118 OPS+ and you think they should have given the job to Edgar in 87? Edgar certainly wasn't unfairly held back in 87, no team in the majors would have given him a starting job, esepcially if they had Presley around.

In 1988 Edgar started the season in the minors. Presley's 87 had been pretty bad so you could argue Edgar should have gotten the starting job ... but you could also note that Presley had been average or better for 2 of the last 3 years. It's hardly surprising that a guy in Edgar's situation would start the year in the minors -- hell, the Giants started Posey in the minors in 2010.

Now Presley stunk in 88 so why not an earlier call-up for Edgar. It would be good if somebody did some digging here. Edgar only played 95 games in the minors that year. Other than 4 games in May, his only ML time was in Sept. It looks on the surface like he was hurt for a month or more. He doesn't seem to have been in the majors for much of May unless he was on the DL -- he got 3 starts from May 10 to 12 then nothing until May 22 which was also a start. Anyway, something funny went on here. If it was a month's injury, the timing of that injury would matter a lot. A mid-season injury to a minor-league player you're almost certainly going to keep that guy in the minors for another month to get the rust out and prove he's healthy. Anyway, at most, I don't see it being likely that the Ms should have given up on Presley and called Edgar up before midseason. It is fair to say the Ms weren't sold on Edgar yet -- they gave him only 4 starts in Sept. That was silly. Call it 100 to 300 PA lost.

In 1989, they gave him the "kinda starting" job right away. He started 15 of the first 23 games -- and stunk! As in 435 OPS stunk. It looks like he was optioned out for 10 days and came back and got sporadic play in May -- he hit quite well in this period (OPS>1000 but only 21 PA). He doesn't appear for another 2 weeks (DL or minors?). When he comes back, he is given 18 starts in 20 games ... and kinda sucks. Not as bad as before but a 680 OPS, few walks, no power. It's the AS break and at that point the Ms do give up and he gets only 8 more starts the rest of the year (and he puts up a 570 OPS).

Again, some digging would be nice. He played 32 games in the minors that year but there are nearly 2 months of appearance gaps in his ML playing time. April 27 to May 6; May 28 to June 15; Aug 1 to Sept 5. That looks like 60+ days not on the ML roster but only 32 games in the minors. Was he hurt? I don't see how you can add more than maybe 200 PA in this year.

I have criticized usage patterns like that for young players before so I don't think the Ms treated Edgar in an optimal manner. I think if you give a starting spot to a guy, give him more than 15 starts in the first 23 games and don't send him out after just one bad month (although that month was really bad). But I get to criticize it because it's pretty common usage and Edgar had his chance to win the starting job and failed to do so.

Anyway, the upshot is that, at most, I don't see how you can add more than maybe a season's worth of PA to Edgar's career. And how anyone can look at a guy who was not ML ready in 87, BA-driven success in 88 (and possibly time missed due to injury) and stunk in 89 (and possibly time missed due to injury) and be comfortable in a belief that he'd have been an average MLer is beyond me.

He is clearly the greatest DH in the 40 year history of the position/role

From a group of 5.

Teams do not have full-time DHs for long periods of time. They don't have full-time DHs because it is mostly used either for aged stars or as a rotation slot for 4th OFs, backup 1B and resting/recovering field players. This has been true for the history of the DH (although in the early days you saw more "full-time platoon DHs" given larger benches). The position of starting DH simply doesn't exist in large numbers. In the last 10 years there are 22 seasons of a player with 502+ PA and spending at least 90% of his time at DH. I can't find my post from yesterday but for the entire history of the DH I think it was 113 such seasons. And if you look at the median OPS+ of actual starting DH seasons by decade they go something like 109, 118, 128, 139 -- Edgar's 147 OPS+ looks a lot less impressive when compared to actual starting DHs.

It's not hard to be a DH, it is simply rare for a good hitter to be so horrible/fragile in the field that it makes sense to limit him in such a way for most of his career. Ortiz, Hafner, Edgar and the post-injury Thomas and a handful of earlier DHs (Carty & Thornton spring to mind) are the rare exceptions. Especially in today's game with short benches, it makes little sense to carry a full-time DH.

So the argument that Edgar was "the best DH in 40 years" is a thoroughly empty argument in my opinion. You want a comparison group for Edgar (and Thomas and Ortiz if he makes it), lump them with 1B and then apply a non-fielding penalty. Edgar still looks pretty good by that angle but he also looks pretty much indistinguishable from Giambi, Delgado and Will Clark.

an all time great hitter

Well, "great" is pretty subjective so it's hard for me to argue but ...

Edgar is tied for 7th best OPS+ of the last 30 years. One problem though is he has substantially fewer PA than everybody ahead of him (except Pujols who he leads by 500 PA and trails by 21 OPS+ points) and a few guys pretty close behind him, so those guys' rates include their decline phase. In his favor though is his high OBP ... although McGwire is the only guy ahead of him with a substantially lower OBP. He's also only 1100 PA, 1 OPS+ point and 9 OBP points ahead of Lance Berkman -- I ain't got my mind yet wrapped around the idea of "Lance Berkman, all-time great hitter."

I've done this one before:

Edgar career: 8674 PA, 312/418/515, 63 oWAR
Sheff through 35: 8719 PA, 298/400/528, 146 OPS+, 67 oWAR

You can go on:

AROD from 20-32: 8868 PA, 308/392/584, 150 OPS+
Thomas from 22-35 beats him by 15 points of OPS+
Manny from 21-35 beats him by 8 points
Bagwell from 23-35 beats him by 6 points
Griffey from 20-35 loses by 1 point (from 20-30 Griffey wins by 4 in 6800 PA but then the injuries started to take their toll on his talent)
Vlad from 21-35 loses by 4 points (and a ton of OBP)
Chipper from 24-36 (8100 PA) wins by 4 points and stayed at 3B

It was the sillyball era. There were rather a lot of "great" hitters most of whom also played the field -- some like Sheff and Manny atrociously.

Again, I don't know how you're defining "great" but unless you think there were about a dozen "great" hitters since 1990, Edgar might just be "excellent."

I'll grant you, it's not a no-brainer to prefer Stargell lumbering around in the field to Edgar not lumbering around in the field. But one thing I come back to is that surely all that lumbering caused Stargell more aches and pains and maybe the occasional serious injury. Those aches, pains and injuries cost him PA and likely meant that his talent declined at a faster rate. (Although the notion of Stargell and decline doesn't really work but go with it) As I've opined before -- sure, if there was no DH, Edgar just gets moved to 1B and spends many years there. But playing the field for the last 12 years of his career would have cost him PAs and talent and Edgar with fewer PAs and a faster decline looks like Norm Cash (7900 PA, 139 OPS+) ... well, with a few seasons at 3B to start his career. So at best maybe his career looks like Thome through age 35: 150 OPS+ but only 7900 PA and Thome was still short of 500 HR -- that Thome probably doesn't get elected but might.

I won't object if Edgar makes it someday and lord knows they've done a lot worse. But he's pretty much the very definition of borderline for my personal HoF and when I compare him to guys around that border, almost all the little things go against him in comparison to others. Maybe I'm being too strict overall or maybe I'm over-penalizing the DH. But at that borderline, I give a boost based on position and all-around play. I might go Vlad before I'd go Edgar and, as is obvious, I go Walker over Edgar.
   106. Walt Davis Posted: January 07, 2013 at 09:51 PM (#4341373)
A. Barry Bonds was rumored to use PEDs.

Even I go farther than this. Bonds has admitted he used a cream and a clear substance provided to him by Anderson. (I don't recall if Bonds said whether this came from BALCO or not). BALCO was supplying Anderson and other athletes with a cream and clear substances that were later shown to contain steroids. While there is some uncertainty that the substances Bonds used were those substances, it seems pretty damn likely. We have reasonable (somewhere beyond preponderance) that Bonds used steroids.

The question around Bonds is whether he knowingly used steroids. He has said he did not know these were steroids. That story is consistent with what many other BALCO clients testified to (i.e. they were never told) and (if I recall right, here come Ray and David) Conte testified that he never told Bonds and of course the government was unable to prove that Bonds knowingly used. Certainly Anderson has no obvious motive to inform Bonds unless Bonds asks and, for that matter, given the murkiness of what is/isn't banned (i.e. this was a new formula), it's not clear Conte would have told Anderson.* Not to mention everybody has plenty of motivation to be willfully ignorant.

Which brings us to the "character clause". It is one thing for MLB (and most other sports) to adopt the strict standard that it doesn't matter if the use was intentional or not. But when it comes to the HoF, Bonds violated no rule and was never suspended. The character clause references "integrity, sportsmanship and character" so Bonds "cheated" only if Bonds knowingly used. Otherwise he's just a guy who unknowingly broke a rule that didn't exist. While it is clearly plausible, maybe likely, that Bonds knew, we don't actually have a shred of good evidence that he did.

In the end, it comes down to "I don't trust Barry Bonds" -- which, while a reasonable stance to take, is a pretty crappy application of the character clause.

*Conte had done this sort of thing before, it's pretty likely Conte knew he was violating the law.
   107. Walt Davis Posted: January 07, 2013 at 10:13 PM (#4341432)
he's 26th(2000ip) 20th(2500ip) or 15th(3000ip) in era+

I mostly agree with cfb in that post but I don't like this sort of thing. A lot of the guys behind Schilling have a lot more IP. Fergie still doesn't catch him I don't think but comparing Schilling's 3200 IP ERA+ to Jenkins' 4500 IP ERA+ (which the above lists do) "penalizes" Jenkins for 1300 decline IP that Schilling didn't throw. This really is timelining of another sort -- essentially assuming that 4500 IP in Jenkins day was roughly the equivalent of 3500 today. I'd say that at least this needs to be balanced with comparisons of Schilling to other guy's in 3200 IP stretches (or non-consecutive peaks for that matter) and the truth probably lies somewhere between those.

I will also make note of good ol' Dan R's spot-on point that standard deviations rise with scoring. ERA+ is already a crappy measure from a "percent of average" standpoint and "percent of average" is a non-starter for cross-era comparisons, you really need something like "percent of SD".

So I agree that probably the best we can do is compare within (rough) era as long as we leave open the possibility that it was just a crappy era (see Morris).

1985-2012, using ERA+ (point taken) and 2000+ innings, Schilling is tied for 8th with Brown and Saberhagen, just behind Oswalt. That doesn't sound like clearly top 30 to me although one can certainly start to bring in IP, unearned runs, postseason, etc. to move him up that list. But there's no way you can get him above 5th for his era.

If we look 1962 to 1987 and a 2500 IP cutoff (to kinda control for era differences), Fergie is in a 3-way tie for 9th (Reuschel, Niekro), just behind Carlton, Rogers and Perry. Reuschel's and Rogers' IPs are really out of place in that list (it doesn't cover all of Reuschel's career) so I'm comfy with calling Fergie 8th but he is pretty clearly behind those ahead of him in quantity, quality or both. (You could drop Brown, Saberhagen and Oswalt and put Schilling in a clear #7 spot at worst as well, not trying to cheat here).

I've also been thinking of a different notion of "replacement" level. The difference between Jenkins and Schilling (as an example) is largely all those 8th and 9th innings that Schilling didn't pitch. But, in reality, these innings were usually being replaced by very effective relievers, possibly even better than Schilling in small stints, not crap pitchers. Jenkins value, in this sense, is that he gave you 1300 pretty effective IP relative to a true replacement level pitcher while Schilling was replaced by well-above replacement level pitchers. Of course I don't really know that last assumption is true. But in this sense it is fair to count Jenkins' extra innings -- he was providing real marginal value by pitching them while Schilling would have provided no or even negative marginal value if he'd pitched his.

I don't expect to go far with that and there's probably a fundamental flaw I haven't thought of.
   108. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 07, 2013 at 10:23 PM (#4341455)
I don't expect to go far with that and there's probably a fundamental flaw I haven't thought of.


By the time Jenkins started his career, firemen - the Face/Wilhelm/Fingers/Marshall type, that is - were pitching most of the high-leverage late innings, and most teams had one of them. So you're probably overstating the marginal value of Jenkins's extra 8th and 9th innings. If Jenkins had come along 10 or 15 years earlier - say as a contemporary of Robin Roberts or Jim Bunning - the argument would make more sense.

-- MWE
   109. cardsfanboy Posted: January 07, 2013 at 10:53 PM (#4341524)
I mostly agree with cfb in that post but I don't like this sort of thing. A lot of the guys behind Schilling have a lot more IP. Fergie still doesn't catch him I don't think but comparing Schilling's 3200 IP ERA+ to Jenkins' 4500 IP ERA+ (which the above lists do) "penalizes" Jenkins for 1300 decline IP that Schilling didn't throw. This really is timelining of another sort -- essentially assuming that 4500 IP in Jenkins day was roughly the equivalent of 3500 today. I'd say that at least this needs to be balanced with comparisons of Schilling to other guy's in 3200 IP stretches (or non-consecutive peaks for that matter) and the truth probably lies somewhere between those.


My point of throwing those numbers was to show that by innings pitched with a low era threshold he does well(57th all time with an era threshold of 110 being the requirement) and that he also does well when you look at era+ rankings. I would never argue to look at one without looking at the other. And as you pointed out there are arguments for other candidates depending on how you look at it, but again, all those candidates that people bring up as arguments are going to be hofers. You probably aren't going to see a strong argument that Schilling is ranked lower than a non-hofer(or eventual hofer).

Everytime we talk about pitchers with different era+ values and vastly different innings pitched, I'm always willing to argue that you take the most beneficial spread of innings for the guy with the longer career and use that as a starting point in the conversation.


I've also been thinking of a different notion of "replacement" level. The difference between Jenkins and Schilling (as an example) is largely all those 8th and 9th innings that Schilling didn't pitch. But, in reality, these innings were usually being replaced by very effective relievers, possibly even better than Schilling in small stints, not crap pitchers. Jenkins value, in this sense, is that he gave you 1300 pretty effective IP relative to a true replacement level pitcher while Schilling was replaced by well-above replacement level pitchers.


I am so stealing this thought. :)

Only thing I see as a small issue, is that when you deal with two guys from the same era, but one goes deeper into the game, even though he might not be providing the same value as an ace reliever, he is providing value to the team by resting the ace(or other relievers)
   110. Baldrick Posted: January 08, 2013 at 12:22 AM (#4341671)
87? In 1986, Edgar hit 264/383/390 at AA ... and you think he was ready for an ML starting job?

In 1987, Edgar hit 329/434/473 in AAA (and added 13 games at a .994 OPS for the M's). So yes, I think he was ready.

Look, Presley was my favorite player as a little kid, so I'm aware that he was thought of as a bright spot. And he was young, so you can imagine that they'd want to give him a chance. But...

Now Presley stunk in 88 so why not an earlier call-up for Edgar. It would be good if somebody did some digging here. Edgar only played 95 games in the minors that year. Other than 4 games in May, his only ML time was in Sept. It looks on the surface like he was hurt for a month or more. He doesn't seem to have been in the majors for much of May unless he was on the DL -- he got 3 starts from May 10 to 12 then nothing until May 22 which was also a start. Anyway, something funny went on here. If it was a month's injury, the timing of that injury would matter a lot. A mid-season injury to a minor-league player you're almost certainly going to keep that guy in the minors for another month to get the rust out and prove he's healthy. Anyway, at most, I don't see it being likely that the Ms should have given up on Presley and called Edgar up before midseason. It is fair to say the Ms weren't sold on Edgar yet -- they gave him only 4 starts in Sept. That was silly. Call it 100 to 300 PA lost.

This exact thing has come up in previous threads, so I dug through the archives a bit. My response is in posts #242 and #252 in this thread. Basically, they decided to go with him in May of '88, only to give up on the experiment after four games. He then went back to AAA and crushed the ball.

Some more background:
In 1989, they gave Edgar the starting job. Kind of. A little bit. He started out the year playing about 2/3 of the team's games, which lasted for less than a month (until April 27), at which point they handed the job back to Presley. It took until June 15 before he got the job back. At that point, the M's decided to declare Edgar the new third baseman, while Presley spotted him and also played first base. For a month-ish. After which they re-demoted Edgar.

The Spokesman-Review (July 13) says that Martinez was given the starting role because Presley only had 22 RBIs, despite having a better batting average (ugh). But the article is quite optimistic that any future M's success will depend on Martinez. Who was then allowed to start three (3) games between the All-Star break and September. Which is apparently some new use of the word 'starting job' of which I wasn't previously aware. So he went back to AAA, crushed the ball, and Presley hit 173/211/309 (from July 13-Sept 2). At which point they FINALLY realized that, hey, this kid might actually deserve a shot.

A decently-run organization would have traded Presley (or Edgar, I suppose) after the 1987 season, or stuck with the kid who could rake for longer than 4 games (in '88) or 3 weeks (in '89). Demoting Presley multiple times, only to quickly give him the job back, was just silly.
   111. Baldrick Posted: January 08, 2013 at 12:26 AM (#4341677)
And again, I'm not saying that it was crazy for the M's to hold off on him in '87. I'm just saying that in retrospect he was pretty clearly ready. And with a different team, he *would* have been given the shot. But '87 is certainly not a big part of the 'Edgar was held back unfairly' case. That is reserved for '88 and (especially) '89.

   112. alilisd Posted: January 08, 2013 at 12:52 AM (#4341702)
From a group of 5.


Which was part of my point. If it were so easy to find a great DH, more teams would do it and we would have seen more great ones given the length of time which has passed.

The position of starting DH simply doesn't exist in large numbers. In the last 10 years there are 22 seasons of a player with 502+ PA and spending at least 90% of his time at DH. I can't find my post from yesterday but for the entire history of the DH I think it was 113 such seasons. And if you look at the median OPS+ of actual starting DH seasons by decade they go something like 109, 118, 128, 139 -- Edgar's 147 OPS+ looks a lot less impressive when compared to actual starting DHs.


Really? The 45th best OPS+ all time isn't very impressive? He rates even higher by wRC+ which more accurately measures the value of his OBP.

I dropped the % of time to 75% as a DH and qualified for the batting title and came up with 174 seasons. Edgar has the best season by OPS+, three of the top six, six of the top 15 and seven of the top 20. His career mark would be tied for the 24th best season ever. Not sure what it takes to impress you, but that seems pretty solid to me.

It's not hard to be a DH, it is simply rare for a good hitter to be so horrible/fragile in the field that it makes sense to limit him in such a way for most of his career. Ortiz, Hafner, Edgar and the post-injury Thomas and a handful of earlier DHs (Carty & Thornton spring to mind) are the rare exceptions. Especially in today's game with short benches, it makes little sense to carry a full-time DH.


You know it's not hard to be a DH how? It doesn't make sense to carry a full time closer either, but pretty much every team does. Why? Because its easy to do and there are plenty of guys around who can do it. If the same were true of the DH, I'm sure teams would do it.

So the argument that Edgar was "the best DH in 40 years" is a thoroughly empty argument in my opinion. You want a comparison group for Edgar (and Thomas and Ortiz if he makes it), lump them with 1B and then apply a non-fielding penalty. Edgar still looks pretty good by that angle but he also looks pretty much indistinguishable from Giambi, Delgado and Will Clark.


Why? If the HOF is going to recognize relievers, who have far, far less value than a DH with over 8,500 PA's, why shouldn't a DH be recognized as a DH? Even when comparing him to position players he's easily in the borderline area where he's either in or out depending on how big your Hall is.

Well, "great" is pretty subjective so it's hard for me to .


30th all time OPS+ and 26th alll time wRC+ with at least 6,000 PA's. That seems pretty great to me. Obviously YMMV.
   113. cardsfanboy Posted: January 08, 2013 at 01:25 AM (#4341724)
30th all time OPS+ and 26th alll time wRC+ with at least 6,000 PA's. That seems pretty great to me. Obviously YMMV.


Pretty good, yes. Great...not really.

   114. Walt Davis Posted: January 08, 2013 at 02:20 AM (#4341742)
Which was part of my point. If it were so easy to find a great DH, more teams would do it and we would have seen more great ones given the length of time which has passed.

It is easy to find excellent DHs. Teams play them at 1B and LF instead because that is a better use of their talent.

What is hard to find are guys who hit so well that it's worthwhile to carry them when they have zero defensive value. Edgar was one of those. Compare him to guys who hit well and have sufficient defensive value to play the field and you'll (a) have a much more accurate comparison of where he ranks in terms of offense and (b) you'll then realize that his lack of defensive value hurts him.

Really? The 45th best OPS+ all time isn't very impressive?

No, it's not. Not when a typical starting DH season is about a 135 OPS+. That's not hard to understand.

Again, Edgar's OPS+ comes in only 8600 PA. You can't just compare rate stats across guys with different career lengths. Some of the guys behind Edgar on that list looked just as or more impressive than Edgar in 8600 PA stints. They played another 1000-2000-3000 more PAs during which their rate stats were lower. You CANNOT compare rate stats of players with unequal amounts of playing time. Go to the effort to try to adjust it to make sure the comparison is fair. It's annoying but much more accurate and persuasive. Or just stop looking at rankings by rate stats.

And I showed, I thought pretty clearly, that Edgar is not that amazing by the standards of his era. But fine ... of the other guys on that list of top 46, I counted 17 1B and 17 more corner OF. How impressive does Edgar's hitting look now that he's compared to similar types of players? 46th all-time sounds damn good -- 18th all-time at your position is substantially worse than Roberto Alomar. This is why the "best DH of all-time" stuff is silly -- you're not comparing him to ANYBODY. Compare Edgar to 1B and he's about #18 (or tied for #16 or something). Just looking at players of his own era and he's behind/tied with Bonds, Pujols, Thomas, Bagwell, Thome, McGwire, Votto, Manny, Cabrera, Braun, Thome, Berkman, a bit ahead of Albert and Prince. At best, he's in the lower third of the 15 best hitters of the last 25 years. Impressive absolutely. Great, not by my definition.

Edgar was NOT a better hitter than McGwire. He was NOT a better hitter than Thome. He was NOT a better hitter than Dick Allen. He was NOT a better hitter than Manny. He was NOT a better hitter than Pujols. He was NOT a better hitter than Mize. He was NOT a better hitter than Thomas. He was NOT a better hitter than Mathews. He might have been a slightly better hitter than Reggie, Chipper or Sheffield but it's razor thin. He was probably a better hitter than Giambi and Ortiz and Vlad and Walker but not by very much.

Look, he's Stargell, Thome, Bagwell with the bat ... only in fewer PAs. Defensively, he was even less valuable than Stargell and Thome which is also impressive in its way. (Lots of people were worth less defensively than Bagwell.)
   115. Walt Davis Posted: January 08, 2013 at 02:48 AM (#4341748)
The #49 point on the career OPS+ list (1901+) is at 138. By roughly 37 year chunks, with PA mins changing slightly to try to capture the expansion of the schedule:

1901-1937 (6400+ PA): 13 players
1938-1975 (6700+ PA): 14 players
1976-2012 (7000+ PA): 20 players

OK, with the expansion of teams, that looks about right. Edgar is 9th in his group, one point ahead of Berkman. He would be 10th in the 38-75 group (behind Stargell who loses the back end of his career) and 11th in the 1901-37 group behind Heilman and just ahead of Sam Crawford. The top end of this distribution doesn't seem to have changed a whole lot:

Ruth 206
Gehrig 183
Wagner 175

Williams 190
Mantle 172
Allen/Musial 159

Bonds 182
Pujols 168
McGwire 163

Take Ruth out of it and it looks pretty similar (Cobb at 168 is 4th in that era). There's an interesting thing about the last era -- only 2 of those 20 guys started their careers prior to 1986 (Schmidt and Brett).
   116. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 08, 2013 at 03:49 AM (#4341756)
30th all time OPS+ and 26th alll time wRC+ with at least 6,000 PA's. That seems pretty great to me. Obviously YMMV.


McGwire is like 13th on those lists, and people think Edger was better?

Only in the narrative where you compare on season values so you can penalize Big Mac for injuries without penalizing Edgar for a short career. Big Mac usually put up Edgars full season in about 130 games,
   117. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 08, 2013 at 10:30 AM (#4341841)
Even I go farther than this.


Fine; Barry Bonds used steroids.

No cogent or valid conclusion can be drawn about the efficacy of steroid use regardless.
   118. AROM Posted: January 08, 2013 at 11:41 AM (#4341915)
Don't bother to timeline, just rate them compared to how much better than they were over their peers. Timelining is a folish errand. Nichols played in a different era, that is true, but he dwarved his competition by being able to pitch at a higher level and for a longer period of time. Same with Cy Young.


Concur totally. It's problematic to compare players from different eras period, but with pitchers especially tough because of the changing usage patterns. I don't think it's a great idea to compare say, Larry Walker to Fred Clarke, but at least with those guys you know they went into the OF every day and stepped in the batters box 4 times per game. Though Larry can't touch Clarke on managing while playing.

If we could scientifically prove that Kid Nichols never topped 90 MPH and would be a worse pitcher in today's game than Ramon Ortiz or Ervin Santana, that should matter not one bit to his place in history. He was among the greats in the game he played, and should be enough.
   119. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 08, 2013 at 11:48 AM (#4341923)
If we could scientifically prove that Kid Nichols never topped 90 MPH and would be a worse pitcher in today's game than Ramon Ortiz or Ervin Santana, that should matter not one bit to his place in history. He was among the greats in the game he played, and should be enough


Thirded.
   120. alilisd Posted: January 08, 2013 at 12:04 PM (#4341945)
Pretty good, yes. Great...not really.


Really? B-R lists roughly 18,000 MLB players; generously calling half of them pitchers still leaves about 9,000 position players. 30th of 9,0000 is the top .0033, the top 1/3 of 1%. And that's only pretty good?
   121. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: January 08, 2013 at 12:18 PM (#4341958)
Really? B-R lists roughly 18,000 MLB players; generously calling half of them pitchers still leaves about 9,000 position players. 30th of 9,0000 is the top .0033, the top 1/3 of 1%. And that's only pretty good?


The US Census lists about 300 million US residents; generously calling half of them men still leaves about 150 million people. 10,000th of 150 million is the top .00000667, or the top .000667%. And yet, Clay Bellinger still sucks.
   122. alilisd Posted: January 08, 2013 at 03:48 PM (#4342189)
He was among the greats in the game he played, and should be enough.


True, but this doesn't allow us to say he was greater than Schilling or vice versa, does it?
   123. alilisd Posted: January 08, 2013 at 04:22 PM (#4342236)
Compare him to guys who hit well and have sufficient defensive value to play the field and you'll (a) have a much more accurate comparison of where he ranks in terms of offense and (b) you'll then realize that his lack of defensive value hurts him.


No, thank you. I thought it was clear I was only talking about his hitting.

You can't just compare rate stats across guys with different career lengths. Some of the guys behind Edgar on that list looked just as or more impressive than Edgar in 8600 PA stints. They played another 1000-2000-3000 more PAs during which their rate stats were lower. You CANNOT compare rate stats of players with unequal amounts of playing time. Go to the effort to try to adjust it to make sure the comparison is fair.


OK. How shall we do this? I noticed you compared several players primes to his career. But why do you get to cherry pick their prime? This does not strike me as a fair means of comparison.

It's not as if his career ended when he was young. He played until he was 41. This would include his "decline," which would ostensibly bring his rate stats down. Why not compare him to what others accomplished from 27 to 41 when he was a full time ML player?

Just looking at players of his own era and he's behind/tied with Bonds, Pujols, Thomas, Bagwell, Thome, McGwire, Votto, Manny, Cabrera, Braun, Thome, Berkman, a bit ahead of Albert and Prince.


Wait, can we compare players with differnt levels of PA's or not? He's behind/tied with Votto, 3,064 PA's, Cabrera, 2,000 fewer PA's, Braun, 3,854 PA's? Come on, let's be consistent here. Either playing time means something or it doesn't. He can't be behind or tied with guys who have nowhere near the playing time he does because their rates are comparable or better and behind or tied with guys who have significantly more playing time because their rates are similar but burdened with extra PA's. How about we leave out the youngsters who haven't played into their decline yet let alone through their prime?
   124. cardsfanboy Posted: January 08, 2013 at 05:01 PM (#4342286)
Really? B-R lists roughly 18,000 MLB players; generously calling half of them pitchers still leaves about 9,000 position players. 30th of 9,0000 is the top .0033, the top 1/3 of 1%. And that's only pretty good?


That is a misdirect. You are basing it upon a rate stat, using a sorting method(pa requirement) that eliminates a huge chunk of players, but still putting him in the same pool. Based upon ops+ greater than 147, no plate appearances requirement Edgar now finishes tied for 403rd all time.

Of course that is just as dishonest as your math, but my point stands.


This obsession with ranking him based upon his rate stats is silly. He's a pretty good hitter, and that is all he brought to the table. The fact that he's 36th all time in ops+(based upon 3000 plate appearance requirement) is not a point in his favor. You are trying to put him in the hof as a hitter, and yet there are plenty of players who were equally as good and played a position who aren't in.

Dick Allen with a 156 ops+, and he played a position.
Jim Thome 147 ops+; 151 plus over a stretch of 9000 plate appearances. Obviously Thome is a better hitter than Edgar.
Gary Sheffield career ops+ of 140 put up a 150 ops+ over 8900 pa. Obviously another player who is a better hitter by this metric.

Heck Ken Griffey Jr put up a 146 ops+ over 8500 pa while playing gold glove defense in centerfield.


No, thank you. I thought it was clear I was only talking about his hitting.


And it's not particulary impressive in comparison to hofers. You want to put him in the hof for his hitting only, and it's just not that impressive. His only value is as a hitter and he doesn't bring enough of that to the table.
   125. cardsfanboy Posted: January 08, 2013 at 05:02 PM (#4342289)
True, but this doesn't allow us to say he was greater than Schilling or vice versa, does it?


Why not? Relative to their contemporaries, he was greater than Schilling was relative to his contemporaries. That is all that needs to be known. Babe Ruth is probably not as physically fit or capable as Albert Pujols, but there is no doubt who was the greatest baseball player of all time.
   126. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: January 08, 2013 at 05:24 PM (#4342311)
Why not? Relative to their contemporaries, he was greater than Schilling was relative to his contemporaries. That is all that needs to be known. Babe Ruth is probably not as physically fit or capable as Albert Pujols, but there is no doubt who was the greatest baseball player of all time.


Relative to his contemporaries can tend to skew the results though. Schilling pitched alongside some of the best ever pitchers. Clemens, Johnson, Maddox, Pedro, those pitchers just don't exist in every era. Pretend Schilling pitched alongside Morris and Schilling's relation to his contemporaries is similar to Nichols'. If that makes any sense.
   127. Walt Davis Posted: January 08, 2013 at 05:36 PM (#4342324)
And as you pointed out there are arguments for other candidates depending on how you look at it, but again, all those candidates that people bring up as arguments are going to be hofers. You probably aren't going to see a strong argument that Schilling is ranked lower than a non-hofer(or eventual hofer).

I think this is probably true, although I don't necessarily think of him necessarily as being much better than Stieb or Saberhagen -- that's superficial, I haven't really checked it out. But, yeah, Schilling is at worst a borderline HoFer and I think he's comfortably over the line.

Alas, the problem we face starting this year is whether he is one of the 10 best on the ballot. I put him on my mythical ballot this year but it was pretty close. I don't think he'll be on my ballot next year. But if he really is a top 25 SP all-time then he probably should be on my ballot next year. I do find it hard to believe that 5 of the top 25 SPs of all-time (plus Glavine, Mussina and Smoltz) will hit the ballot between 2013 and 2015 though.

Schilling didn't make it in the HoM this year although he finished a solid 5th. He would likely have made it pretty easily on last year's ballot, bad timing. Of the 34 voters, 4 didn't even list him in the top 15. 8 didn't list Sosa. Their different rules and inductees create quite different ballots of course -- (a) Bagwell, Raines, Walker, etc. are already in but (b) Vic Willis and Rizzutto and Cravath are still on the ballot. Lofton only got a mention on 10 ballots, only 6 in the top 10 and he finished 15th overall. Even among saber-friendly experts, there's a wide range of opinion at the borderline.
   128. SandyRiver Posted: January 08, 2013 at 05:48 PM (#4342338)
Concur totally. It's problematic to compare players from different eras period, but with pitchers especially tough because of the changing usage patterns.

Especially if one looks much earlier than 1900, because the rules were different. IMO, Schilling's K/BB rate is #1, because the guy "ahead" of him was allowed to throw twice as many called balls before sending a batter to first, for 90% of his IP (and 1.5X for the other 10%. Shorter distance to throw, too.) Among "4 balls equals a BB" pitchers with 2,000+ IP, only Pedro is particularly close to Curt.
   129. cardsfanboy Posted: January 08, 2013 at 05:59 PM (#4342353)
Relative to his contemporaries can tend to skew the results though. Schilling pitched alongside some of the best ever pitchers. Clemens, Johnson, Maddox, Pedro, those pitchers just don't exist in every era. Pretend Schilling pitched alongside Morris and Schilling's relation to his contemporaries is similar to Nichols'. If that makes any sense.


It makes sense, but that isn't what happened. If Schilling pitched in Morris's era, he would have probably blown out his arm and been a non-factor in any hof discussion. (He would have been John Fulgham). It's all about relativity. I think Maddux or Clemens could join a discussion between them and Nichols, but I don't see how you could put Schilling or even someone like Pedro in that discussion. The greats do two things, pitch at a high level and do it for a long time. Schilling doesn't really meet that criteria. He pitched great but not the greatest for his era, he pitched long time, but not the longest and the fact that at least two of his contemporaries exceed him on both points diminishes his accomplishments. Nichols greatness was that he was able to survive as a pitcher for over 10 years while throwing 300+ innings and still managing to be effective. (Nichols has 12 seasons over 300 innings pitched only Cy Young had more)

   130. Baldrick Posted: January 08, 2013 at 07:28 PM (#4342418)
This obsession with ranking him based upon his rate stats is silly. He's a pretty good hitter, and that is all he brought to the table. The fact that he's 36th all time in ops+(based upon 3000 plate appearance requirement) is not a point in his favor. You are trying to put him in the hof as a hitter, and yet there are plenty of players who were equally as good and played a position who aren't in.

Dick Allen with a 156 ops+, and he played a position.
Jim Thome 147 ops+; 151 plus over a stretch of 9000 plate appearances. Obviously Thome is a better hitter than Edgar.
Gary Sheffield career ops+ of 140 put up a 150 ops+ over 8900 pa. Obviously another player who is a better hitter by this metric.

Heck Ken Griffey Jr put up a 146 ops+ over 8500 pa while playing gold glove defense in centerfield.

You can do this with Edgar, too, though. From 1992-2001, he put up a 159 OPS+ over 5621 plate appearances. Did any of those guys hit that well for that long? Thome's 1995-2003 is basically the same. Sheffield from 1994-2003. Griffey, no. Allen, yes. So on the whole these guys aren't any BETTER than Edgar. They're basically the same. And with all of these, it's worth nothing that Edgar has a substantial OBP edge, which is fixed a bit by OPS+, but is still undercounted.

Well, okay.

Look, there are two separate things happening here. There's the question of whether Edgar is an 'elite' hitter. Is he 'great' or merely 'excellent'? This is semantic to some extent, so it might be pointless to argue it too much. But it seems pretty clear to me that Edgar is right up there at the limit of how good a hitter can be over an extended period without moving into the realm of inner-circle great. Yes, there are a fair number of other folks that share the same basic territory. They were also truly great hitters.

And then there's the question of defensive value. But that's just the general debate about the value of DHs. If you believe that DHs only play half the game, etc. etc. then you're obviously never going to be persuaded about Edgar. But if you see the DH as a position that half the teams HAVE to fill, which just happens to have the oddity that everyone who plays it is average defensively for that position, then Edgar stacks up decently with some of these guys.

Let's look at some of these examples. Well, Ken Griffey Jr. is an inner-circle HOFer - thanks in large part to hitting like a superstar while playing CF. Hitting better than The Kid's peak is pretty awesome. Dick Allen is a HOF shoe-in based on his hitting numbers. He's not in because of personality issues, terrible defense, and a short career. Edgar played several extra years, is 180 degrees on 'character' stuff, and unless you categorically reject DHs, it's hard to make a case he is really much worse defensively. He at least played third base fairly well for a few years.

Thome is a clear HOFer. Way above the bar. Not being as good as Jim Thome is not a black mark.

Sheffield strikes me as basically the bizarro-world Edgar. He was an elite hitter from 1992-2005. That's 8150 PAs at 153. Edgar's 'elite' period is 1990-2003. That's 7845 PAs at 153. That's pretty darn similar. And Sheffield doesn't really add anything outside of that period, any more than Edgar did. He has some extra seasons at the beginning and end which look at lot like people think Edgar would have been producing if he'd made the big leagues earlier. And while he played defense his whole career, 'played' is probably a generous term. He was terrible and should have been a DH for a lot of that period. I'm not willing to ding him quite as much (compared to Edgar) as the BB-ref WAR numbers do. But still, those have him as costing 200 runs over his career on defense. It's pretty hard to make a case that he helped his team defensively much more than Edgar did.

Guys who hit as well as Edgar that contributed defensively (Griffey) are inner-circle guys. The ones who contributed ANYTHING defensively are clear HOFers. The ones that were defensive black holes (Sheffield, Allen) still have a really good case. Edgar is in that last category, too.
   131. cardsfanboy Posted: January 08, 2013 at 08:00 PM (#4342433)
You can do this with Edgar, too, though. From 1992-2001, he put up a 159 OPS+ over 5621 plate appearances.


Then you start to get into really ridiculous stuff. parsing them down to levels where it could ultimately lead to one season. People on this thread have brought up Edgars career rank relative to other players, and want to ignore his relatively short career in regards to other greats. Heck someone argued that Edgar was nearly the equivalent hitter to McGwire(Yes I know... it's an utterly ridiculous comparison that should be laughed at). The simple fact of the matter is that Edgar was a very good hitter, not elite, not inner circle, didn't have long enough of a career to qualify as a compiler and has nothing going for him outside of his bat. Note:I have never made up my mind on Edgar, I keep saying I have him as equal to Larry Walker and I waver between whether they are hofers or not. But Edgar is not, by any stretch of the definition, an elite hitter. (I'll argue Jason Giambi is a better hitter than Edgar even)

   132. Walt Davis Posted: January 09, 2013 at 04:35 AM (#4342639)
Wait, can we compare players with differnt levels of PA's or not?

I shifted gears there, sorry if it wasn't obvious. My fairly standard rhetorical approach (when it's applicable): (a) here's why the way you did it was wrong; (b) here's what the results are when you get at least in the ballpark of doing it right (I'm usually too lazy to really do it right); (c) but fine, even by your own standards .... The "you" there not necessarily you personally, I've gotten lost about who's arguing Edgar as elite hitter, Edgar as HoFer because he's the best of 5 career DHs ... except Thomas, etc.

The ones that were defensive black holes (Sheffield, Allen) still have a really good case. Edgar is in that last category, too.

We're in rough agreement although Allen was the better hitter (2 season's less quantity though). Edgar has a really good case, it's just not clear it's good enough.

Here is where we start to get into WAR's DH adjustment though. Dick Allen loses 16 wins through Rfield and Rpos. He had 67 oWAR (which includes the positional) which is more than Edgar despite fewer PAs and then he loses 13 wins on Rfield. Sheffield loses almost 30 wins in defense and positional adjustment, his 76 oWAR being reduced to 56 WAR. Edgar loses only 12 wins through Rfield and Rpos. Fine, partly that's because b-r considers him a good 3B while he was there. He had 63 oWAR ... and ends up with 64 WAR. Even in terms of Rpos, he's losing only 4 wins to Sheffield (about 9 wins to Allen).

3 excellent hitters with no defensive value. Allen and Sheff win on oWAR pretty handily although most of Sheff's edge in the counting stat is due to playing time. But because they played the field while Edgar didn't, they end up way behind in WAR. That's what some of us object to in this. Obviously it's not Edgar's fault the DH existed during his career but not Allen's but that benefit shouldn't be used in Edgar's favor -- that's value not created by Edgar but by the rules and/or the team's bright decision-making.

And I know that players like Sheffield and Griffey have a reputation for insisting on playing the field (or continuing to play CF) but when you look at the level of horrible defensive performance that teams are willing to tolerate from good hitters in the field (Manny, Dunn* until the move to DH, etc), you do have to wonder just how bad the defense of an Edgar or an Ortiz is (or is perceived by their team to be) that these guys aren't allowed in the field. Molitor is a bit of an exception but he was playing 1/3 of his games in the field through about 36 and still 10% through 40. From 1989-92, Baines was "only" -16 in the field ... but in just 77 starts. He saw two innings the rest of his career.

I know none of this has anything to do with Edgar's hitting. But it's why I have trouble pushing him over the line. The reason you don't see many full-time DHs is because if you can hit and you can field better than Harold Baines, it seems teams have decided you should be in the field. If you're a full-time DH -- and Edgar had 31 starts after 94 -- it's because teams think you are Harold Baines bad ... or you are so preciously fragile that you wouldn't last more than 30-40 games a year in the field.

Now WAR is about value and value is what value is -- Edgar didn't hurt his team by taking the field, Sheffield did. But the HoF is about greatness which usually goes hand-in-hand with value but not always. Now Sheffield was one strange guy but he stole 250 bases in his career, including 22 at age 38. He never let his body go. I find it hard to believe that he was that bad defensively but even harder to believe that he was worse defensively than Edgar. Gary Sheffield was a better player than Edgar I'm pretty sure. I'm pretty sure that, in making cross-era comparisons, that Allen was substantially better than Edgar and that a field-playing Edgar (as I keep saying) looks more like Norm Cash (or Jack Clark if you prefer), albeit much better OBP. For HoF purposes at least, I don't think the WAR DH penalty is big enough. For HoF purposes, put Edgar down with Allen and Sheffield in career value ... or stick them all in the middle somewhere.

But make it damn clear he's distinctly behind Larry Walker. :-)

*Dunn is lucky, he was catching up to Sheffield.
   133. vivaelpujols Posted: January 09, 2013 at 07:12 AM (#4342652)
I don't understand this

1985-2012, using ERA+ (point taken) and 2000+ innings, Schilling is tied for 8th with Brown and Saberhagen, just behind Oswalt. That doesn't sound like clearly top 30 to me although one can certainly start to bring in IP, unearned runs, postseason, etc. to move him up that list. But there's no way you can get him above 5th for his era.


You can quote any selected numbers you want, but what does any of that tell you that WAR doesn't in terms of aggregate career value? And I agree that Schilling is around 5th in his era (behind Pedro, Clemens, Maddux and Johnson) but we know those guy were all top 10-15 pitchers and there likely has never been an era with that many good pitchers.

The only thing's WAR does not account for are post season, peak vs. career and then obviously flaws in the statistic. Posteason clearly vaults Schilling, peak probably doesn't change his position much. What are some flaws in WAR than benefit Schilling but not other guys around him?
   134. vivaelpujols Posted: January 09, 2013 at 07:15 AM (#4342654)
If Schilling pitched in Morris's era, he would have probably blown out his arm and been a non-factor in any hof discussion.


What?
   135. vivaelpujols Posted: January 09, 2013 at 07:22 AM (#4342656)
http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/WAR_pitch_career.shtml

Which pitchers behind Schilling do you think are better? Koufax and who else?

   136. TomH Posted: January 09, 2013 at 08:52 AM (#4342663)
WAR takes into acccount offense and defensive value, right?
WAR is unfriendly to those who got late starts to their career by giving them zeroes for those years; it is not frinedly to people who use "peak" or "prime"

So if Edgar is 74th all time in WAR, ain't that a good HoF argument? How many guys on the HoF ballot have more WAR then Edgar? Sweet Lou, Grich, Dahlen are not on the ballot so there ain;'t much I can do there. Thome and Manny aren't eligible yet.

Edgar ain't the #1 omission from the Hall, but he deserves to be in there, and when the backlog and PEDS smoke clears 10 years from now, he will be.
   137. Sunday silence Posted: January 11, 2013 at 03:49 AM (#4344801)
The greats do two things, pitch at a high level and do it for a long time. Schilling doesn't really meet that criteria. He pitched great but not the greatest for his era, he pitched long time, but not the longest


This is interesting part. I want to ask you how do you feel about Blyleven, as a HoFer?

Serious question, I saw Blyleven for much of his career but certainly not all of it. Did you?
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