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Friday, February 02, 2018

The Obstacles Lou Whitaker, Bobby Grich, and Dwight Evans Face to be Selected by the Hall of Fame’s Historical Overview Committee to Appear on Future Modern Baseball Era Ballots

The passing over of Whitaker, Grich, and Evans by the Historical Overview Committee is almost certainly due to the lack of support picked up by these candidate in their brief time on the BBWAA ballot, as evidenced by the screening panel’s repeated selections of candidates who lasted the maximum number of years on the writer’s vote.  Indeed, for the recent Modern Baseball Era ballot, the Historical Overview Committee not only chose all four newly eligible candidates whose Hall of Fame cases went the distance on the BBWAA ballot (Mattingly, Morris, Murphy, and Trammell) but also selected Parker for a second straight ballot and Garvey, John, and Tiant for a third consecutive time despite none of those four holdover candidates coming anywhere close to election on their previous appearances.

The absences of Grich and Evans from the Modern Baseball Era ballot each drew criticism of the Historical Overview Committee, but the exclusion of Whitaker was met with the most disapproval, as Sports Illustrated’s Jay Jaffe and Lynn Henning of The Detroit News were among those who took the screening panel to task for not including “Sweet Lou” on the ballot.  Jaffe said Whitaker’s omission from the ballot “seems like a cruel joke” while Henning remarked that the former Tigers second baseman’s exclusion “makes no sense.”

Dennis Eclairskey, closer Posted: February 02, 2018 at 12:04 AM | 118 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bobby grich, dwight evans, hall of fame, lou whitaker, veterans committee

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   101. Booey Posted: February 06, 2018 at 11:47 AM (#5620299)
flip
   102. Booey Posted: February 06, 2018 at 11:57 AM (#5620316)
This dynamic, whereby the man or 9-year-old girl) in the street could have some utterly trivial success in a sport, should not be confused with actual major-league-level skill for catching baseballs or drawing walks, not that any more than one poster here is thus confusing it :)


Eh, I think you could have just as much "success" in the NBA. No, you wouldn't ever score over an NBA defender - just like you'd never take Clayton Kershaw deep or strike out Mike Trout - but you could occasionally hit a mid range jumper when they left you wide open (which they'd do a lot, since they'd be better off doubling one of the real players). When they did guard you closely, you could flop and occasionally draw a foul and get to the free throw line. You'd occasionally get a rebound that went over everyone else's heads and came right to you. If you didn't care about your physical wellbeing you could jump in front of a driving player and occasionally get a charge called on him.

I'd put that level of success about on par with being able to occasionally make a routine defensive play or draw a rare walk from a pitcher with control problems. But yeah, saying that one of us could occasionally hit a free throw or a wide open J doesn't mean that those things don't require any skill. Just like drawing walks.
   103. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 06, 2018 at 12:48 PM (#5620358)
But yeah, saying that one of us could occasionally hit a free throw or a wide open J doesn't mean that those things don't require any skill. Just like drawing walks.

As opposed to SBB's skill, which is to get people to actually argue over stuff like this for dozens of posts. It's astounding on some level.
   104. Booey Posted: February 06, 2018 at 12:57 PM (#5620367)
As opposed to SBB's skill, which is to get people to actually argue over stuff like this for dozens of posts. It's astounding on some level.


True, but I'm at work. The alternative is to actually do my job, and that's just unacceptable. ;-)
   105. Rally Posted: February 06, 2018 at 01:48 PM (#5620427)
Do you think Eddie Gaedel would be an effective major league batter? If so, then at least one player is seriously underestimating how much any pitcher can control his pitches.


We've had this debate many times before, but it's always a fun one.

I don't think pitchers could throw enough strikes to keep a Gaedel off base, under the rules as they stand. I don't know if that means walking 35%, 45%, or 60% of the time, or some other figure.

He can't play a position or run the bases, so that is an extreme use of a roster spot. In September though roster spots are nearly free so such a player could be useful.

I don't think, in this day and age, MLB could get away with a strict ban based on player height. But they could do something to stop teams from exploiting the strike zone this way: Set a uniform (or minimum size) strike zone regardless of height.
   106. SoSH U at work Posted: February 06, 2018 at 02:00 PM (#5620445)
I don't think pitchers could throw enough strikes to keep a Gaedel off base, under the rules as they stand. I don't know if that means walking 35%, 45%, or 60% of the time, or some other figure.


I don't see any way he reaches base more than a 1/3 of the time, and that's absolutely stretching it. He was 3 foot 7, or 43 inches tall. Richie Sexson was 6'7, 79 inches tall. If you assume that above the head and below the knees on every person represents about 30 percent of a person's height*, that leaves Gaedel with a strike zone of about 30 inches tall. Sexson's is 56 inches tall. They're both the same width, since the width of the zone has nothing to do with the size of the batter. Sexson's strike zone is less than twice as large as Gaedel's. Jose Altuve's strike zone is only 43 by 12, or not a whole lot bigger than Gaedel's.

The idea that major league pitchers, guys who routinely throw to specific locations within the strike zone, couldn't throw a nothing fastball in a 30 by 12 inch box against a person who poses absolutely no threat just doesn't make any sense.

He'd walk some, against the wilder pitchers and the guys who psyche themselves out facing a little person. But anyone with reasonable control would eat him alive.

* I don't know if it does, but it seems reasonable and we're dealing in proportions here anyway.


I don't think, in this day and age, MLB could get away with a strict ban based on player height. But they could do something to stop teams from exploiting the strike zone this way: Set a uniform (or minimum size) strike zone regardless of height.


It's not necessary, nor is it fair. MLB would merely need to dictate to umps that the strike zone for each player exists from the top of the knees to the shoulders, as the player is standing up straight. That's how it should be anyway. The zone should be based on the size of the player, but he should never be able to crouch his way into a smaller zone.
   107. PreservedFish Posted: February 06, 2018 at 02:51 PM (#5620505)
Dat crouch tho

-edit - just saw your last sentence
   108. Rally Posted: February 06, 2018 at 04:06 PM (#5620604)
We've been down this road before, about a year ago.

I posted this back then:

"No probably about it, all players can throw 50 MPH. Only exceptions are injured players - like late career Jeff Bagwell.

I'm not sure throwing 50 MPH would improve control though. Look at pitchers on intentional walks (Ok - look at historical footage of intentional walks, thanks Manfred) - sometimes the lob pitch is so far from the target the catcher has to lunge for it, or it trails back close to the plate.

My guess is that for a pitcher who is used to throwing strikes from the mound at high velocity, the ideal speed for pinpoint control is probably something like a 90% effort fastball. If you take too much off the pitch, you are changing the whole trajectory, and that is not going to make it easier to throw strikes.

I posted this on the Game of Thrones thread:

I'd like to see a GoT promotion before games that can help settle a question that came up in another thread, and comes up periodically over the years.

How easy is it for a MLB pitcher to throw strikes to a small batter? You don't even need Peter Dinklage to participate, since he probably wouldn't be that keen on standing in against MLB heat. Just a cardboard cutout since he won't swing the bat (or axe).

Every team picks a pitcher, and you see whether he can throw 3 strikes before 4 balls. No need to exert oneself, throw at whatever speed they are most comfortable throwing strikes. At the end of the promotion you've got 30 simulated PAs for Tyrion Lannister.

Though it wouldn't completely cover the Gaedel question - Dinklage/Lannister is about halfway between the heights of Gaedel and Jose Altuve - it would be a start."

We have different opinions on how often MLB pitchers can throw strikes to a batter who is no threat. It seems pointless to argue about it absent actual evidence. I remember someone posting the opinions of real pitchers on the question, but don't remember where to find it.


   109. dlf Posted: February 06, 2018 at 04:18 PM (#5620614)
The zone should be based on the size of the player ...


Why? Second base isn't moved closer to first for a runner with Molina's speed, and, at least since the demise of Veeck and/or the Metrodome, the OF walls aren't on tracks to be pushed back or the a.c. blowers pointed in for batters like Stanton. This is a vestigial remnant of the 1860s when the batter could call for a pitch in a particular area and makes no more sense than having Manute Bol play with taller rims than does Muggsy Bogues. (Note: can you tell the last time I followed the NBA?)
   110. SoSH U at work Posted: February 06, 2018 at 04:34 PM (#5620634)
Why?


Because the strike zone exists to provide the batter an area from which he can hit pitches. It's not an area for pitchers to try to throw into. It's unreasonable to expect Jose Altuve to hit pitches that are thrown at a height that Sexson can handle, or for Sexson to hit pitches that are at Altuve's knees.

It's not a vestigal remnant of the 1860s. It's the logical and sensible development from that point forward, and changing it to a fixed zone is insane.

My guess is that for a pitcher who is used to throwing strikes from the mound at high velocity, the ideal speed for pinpoint control is probably something like a 90% effort fastball. If you take too much off the pitch, you are changing the whole trajectory, and that is not going to make it easier to throw strikes.


That's my suspicion. But I don't think you need all this fancy testing. Pitchers do actually throw pitches into smaller areas of the strike zone (otherwise, why would the catcher even bother setting up high/low inside/out?) on a regular basis. They throw to spots much smaller than Eddie Gaedel's strike zone, against players who do actually pose a threat.

Hell, if you couldn't throw it into a Gaedel-sized zone, then how does a pitcher hit someone on purpose?

   111. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: February 06, 2018 at 04:40 PM (#5620644)
makes no more sense than having Manute Bol play with taller rims than does Muggsy Bogues

Your example is literally impossible whereas enforcing the strike zone based on the player's stature is actually much easier than enforcing a universal strike zone without reference points.
   112. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: February 06, 2018 at 06:06 PM (#5620745)
The plate is 17 inches wide, not 12.
   113. SoSH U at work Posted: February 06, 2018 at 06:17 PM (#5620748)

The plate is 17 inches wide, not 12.


My mistake.

But as it relates to the discussion itself, the important thing is that the width of the strike zone is constant from batter to batter, so someone throwing to a Gaedel-sized batter would not be disadvantaged horizontally, only vertically.
   114. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: February 07, 2018 at 08:25 AM (#5620944)
The plate is 17 inches wide, not 12.


He was using Celsius.
   115. Dennis Eclairskey, closer Posted: February 07, 2018 at 09:12 AM (#5620971)
Candidates who have yet to appear: Grich, Whitaker, Hernandez, Dwight Evans, Reggie Smith, Reuschel, Nettles, Campaneris, Darrell Evans, Munson

I'm sure Whitaker will make the next ballot

I'd say Hernandez & Dewey Evans have a good chance at making the next ballot or two

I'm surprised Munson hasn't made the ballot yet but the point was raised in the article that the Committee doesn't select two candidates from the same position so if Simmons gets elected that would clear the way for Munson

The others I'd say are longshots to ever be selected for the ballot
   116. Rennie's Tenet Posted: February 07, 2018 at 09:26 AM (#5620982)
Diverging but related: how would an automated ball/strike system judge the height of a strike zone? I've been told they'd put some kind of sensor in the uniform, but it seems obvious that if they did that everyone would wear a shirt so baggy that the shoulder sensor would drag on the ground.
   117. SoSH U at work Posted: February 07, 2018 at 10:07 AM (#5621015)

Diverging but related: how would an automated ball/strike system judge the height of a strike zone? I've been told they'd put some kind of sensor in the uniform, but it seems obvious that if they did that everyone would wear a shirt so baggy that the shoulder sensor would drag on the ground.


I think they'd measure a player from two points, such as bottom of the knees to chest, while he's standing upright, then that becomes each guy's permanent strike zone.

Any other method would seem to allow for gaming the system.

   118. QLE Posted: February 20, 2018 at 02:01 PM (#5627497)
Bit of a late update, but, having read the relevant section of the Jaffe book, I found the answer to #13:

Indeed, a series of rules, starting in the late 1970s, were enacted involving the VC that required players to have a certain level of performance on the BBWAA ballot in order to be eligible for VC consideration- and, yes, it was a direct response to the likes of Frisch.

The problem with this, ultimately, was two-fold: because of chronological limitations in application (it was never applied to players whose careers ended pre-WWII, and by the 1980s only applied to those whose careers started post-WWII), it didn't solve the actual problem (the overrating of 1920s and 1930s players, especially ones the VC members knew), and it led directly to the two faults of the recent VCs: an excessive reliance on BBWAA voting (because they were actively discouraged for the longest time to consider the possibility that the BBWAA had made mistakes), and a general discouraging effect on the consideration of post-WWII players (in part because, often, the pool that could be considered was very small indeed). The recent restructuring has solved the latter problem (at the least, it's hard to ignore post-WWII players when they're the only ones you consider regularly)- the former issue, however, is still clearly present in the selecting process, though the near-induction of Ted Simmons (as already noted) is promising.

My apologies is this is inappropriate- but, having posed the question, I felt it wrong not to share the answer.
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