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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Walk Like a Sabermetrician: Why I Don’t Care About the HOF, pt. 1

That’s downright unpatriotic! Or, maybe not…

I have stated before that I don’t particularly care about Hall of Fame debates because I think that the HOF is beyond salvation. That is a slight exaggeration of my position, but it’s close enough. However, I do want to comment a little more deeply about it here. In this post I will examine what the standards for the Hall have been empirically in terms I care about. This of course does not imply that the HOF selectors have actually used the basic sabermetric standards I will look at. In the next post, I will discuss why I feel the HOF is broken and the remedies that I think would serve to make it more interesting to me. If you feel that the title is belied a little by what follows, that is understandable.

The idea of examining the what the HOF standards are is by no means a new one. I, like many sabermetricians, have been deeply influenced by Bill James and on this topic particularly by his Politics of Glory. In that book, James set out a few methods for organizing thinking on the Hall, one of which was a Hall of Fame Standards list that set out a number of reasonable criteria (did the player get 2000 hits? 2500 hits? 300 home runs? Etc.). These tools were meant to mimic or approximate things that HOF voters seemed to value.

I have no interest in what HOF voters have valued; what I want to know is how the players that they’ve selected stack up by the standard(s) that I care about. As I have written before, my starting point in evaluating a player’s career is his total value above some baseline, usually replacement level. I am not interested in “peak value” or any such thing. I don’t wish to justify this here; some of the reasoning behind my position is in this post. If you disagree, that’s fine, but that is the perspective that the ensuing discussion is grounded in.

Repoz Posted: September 02, 2008 at 12:49 PM | 48 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, history, sabermetrics

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   1. JRVJ (formerly Delta Socrates) Posted: September 02, 2008 at 01:42 PM (#2925700)
Many, many years ago I remember reading an agnostic say that he was a private, non-proselityzing agnostic, because he really couldn't begin to fathom public, proselityzing agnosticism.

I would think that the same rationale should apply to not caring about the HoF (i.e., if you don't care about it, simply don't pay attention to it.....).
   2. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: September 02, 2008 at 01:43 PM (#2925702)
I have no interest in what HOF voters have valued; what I want to know is how the players that they’ve selected stack up by the standard(s) that I care about. As I have written before, my starting point in evaluating a player’s career is his total value above some baseline, usually replacement level. I am not interested in “peak value” or any such thing. I don’t wish to justify this here; some of the reasoning behind my position is in this post. If you disagree, that’s fine, but that is the perspective that the ensuing discussion is grounded in.


Sigh, another person who just doesn't get it...

Personally, I'm more of a peak over career value guy, but it really doesn't matter. Expecting everyone to agree on how things should be weighted is dumb. Disrespecting other people's oppinion on the subject is arrogant. As long as the standard is reasonable, you should respect someone else's oppinion, evan if you disagree with it.

The problem with the hall isn't the career vs peak, or small hall vs big hall debates. It's the fact that some people have been voted in, who are indefensible by any standard, while other much better choices are on the outside looking in.
   3. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: September 02, 2008 at 01:53 PM (#2925709)
I have no interest in what HOF voters have valued; what I want to know is how the players that they’ve selected stack up by the standard(s) that I care about.


We all have our private Halls of Fame, don't we?
   4. Dag Nabbit: secretary of the World Banana Forum Posted: September 02, 2008 at 02:00 PM (#2925720)
The average TPR for a Hall of Famer is 35, with a WAR of 64. The median is a TPR of 33 with a WAR of 61.

So if WAR is your primary criterion, you can put anyone with a WAR of greater than 61 into the Hall without lowering the bar, as such players can only serve to increase the median.


Wait, ain't there a problem in making hte average the floor of acceptability? You'd end up setting a higher standard for future generations than previous ones, for one thing.
   5. ECBucs Posted: September 02, 2008 at 02:20 PM (#2925746)
response to 4.

I think the idea is to set higher standards so that equivalents to current mistakes don't make it in future.
   6. The importance of being Ernest Riles Posted: September 02, 2008 at 03:35 PM (#2925860)
In re: peak versus career value, Tango made an interesting argument a few weeks ago.

The distilled version, IIRC, is that it makes little sense to assign values to peak versus career, since it is really a sliding scale. The continuous way to think about it is "how much better was a player than his peers." For a player with a short career, he needs to have been much, much better. For a player with a long career, he need only be very good. The reason, mathematically, is that a player's career makes up a sample of his true talent. Using the information from his career, we can estimate how many standard deviations he is above the mean.

If you want to be objective about things, you simply assign a cutoff - the player must be x std deviations above the mean. For a player with a short career, he needs to be excellent. For a player with a long career, his rate stats needn't be as impressive to get him there. Maybe I'm mangling Tango's words, but the link is here: http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/article/observed_performance_inferring_true_talent_opitt/

Anyway, interesting concept. Not one I'd like to see the Hall adopt, but makes for great discussion.
   7. Cooperstown Schtick Posted: September 02, 2008 at 04:13 PM (#2925907)
I could see people linking to this article for an entry on "Why I Don't Care About Blogs."

Having your own standards for a personal Hall of Fame is great and fun and can be an interesting read. Comparing your personal Hall of Fame to the existing institution and dismissing the latter because they don't align is petulant, arrogant, indulgent and I would guess pretty meaningless to anybody who doesn't think exactly like you do. These are often cited as criticisms of blogs, and this one hits every one of them.
   8. CFiJ Posted: September 02, 2008 at 04:25 PM (#2925928)
You know, it's like Bill James wrote "Politics of Glory", and the only thing people took from it was the frickin' Keltner list.
   9. Dag Nabbit: secretary of the World Banana Forum Posted: September 02, 2008 at 04:42 PM (#2925953)
I think the idea is to set higher standards so that equivalents to current mistakes don't make it in future.

That's a pretty damn lazy way of doing it then.
   10. Gaelan Posted: September 02, 2008 at 04:44 PM (#2925956)
As I have written before, my starting point in evaluating a player’s career is his total value above some baseline, usually replacement level. I am not interested in “peak value” or any such thing. I don’t wish to justify this here; some of the reasoning behind my position is in this post. If you disagree, that’s fine, but that is the perspective that the ensuing discussion is grounded in.


This is the worst possible understanding of the hall of fame. I am very glad that this guy doesn't care about the hall of fame.
   11. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 02, 2008 at 04:52 PM (#2925972)
We all have our private Halls of Fame, don't we?


Yep. And the idea behind having a broad electorate voting - and a high bar (75% of the voting electorate agreeing) - is that you distill out the idiosyncratic choices in so doing, and ensure that only the creme de la creme makes it.

The key, of course, is having a broad-based electorate. The BBWAA has made few "indefensible choices by any standard"; the lesser choices have almost all been made by the Veterans' Committee, and most of those were made when the VC was a small group. It's a lot easier to get nine votes from 12 people - especially when all of those people are gathered in the same room - than it is to get 225 votes from 300 people.

-- MWE
   12. BDC Posted: September 02, 2008 at 04:58 PM (#2925979)
Centerfielders have been held to a much tougher standard than any other position, so it would seem. The top four players (Cobb, Speaker, Mays, Mantle) tower over the others in WAR, with DiMaggio standing alone in a middle tier. The other two choices, Snider and Puckett, are at 52 and 48 WAR respectively.

Of course, my characterization may not be fair, as center field just happens to be a position where there have been a number of megastars, but slim pickings after that.


I don't think it's a matter of "just happens." As GGC (IIRC) and others have pointed out in these threads, the three outfield "positions" are much more of a single position than any other two or three slots in the lineup. To spend an entire career in CF while hitting at a HOF level means you're at the top tier of all outfielders. Most long-career CF are glove men of the Doc Cramer / Paul Blair type; occasionally they can hit well too in the leadoff mold (Butler, Lofton), but guys who can hold down CF against a generation of young fast CFs and hit like a corner outfielder are naturally rare.
   13. Greg Schuler Posted: September 02, 2008 at 05:17 PM (#2926002)
I don't care either - the HoF didn't take our AAM discount, so they can get stuffed.
   14. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: September 02, 2008 at 05:21 PM (#2926007)
The BBWAA has made few "indefensible choices by any standard"...


Well, I would say the fact that they managed to make any indefensible picks is an indictment.

Of course, I never said it was all the BBWAA's fault. Because it doesn't really matter how the poor choices got there. They are there, and that fact is a problem for the HoF as a whole.
   15. bads85 Posted: September 02, 2008 at 05:33 PM (#2926023)
I could see people linking to this article for an entry on "Why I Don't Care About Blogs."


Or "Why I don't care about internet polls."
   16. OCF Posted: September 02, 2008 at 05:34 PM (#2926026)
The top four players (Cobb, Speaker, Mays, Mantle) tower over the others in WAR, with DiMaggio standing alone in a middle tier.

We're currently debating centerfielders in the Hall of Merit, and our debates tend to have a top seven, not a top five: add Oscar Charleston to the top tier and Turkey Stearns to the middle tier along with DiMaggio.

The phenomenon of not being able to find CF who hit like corners is a modern phenomenon, since Mantle and Mays. There's not such a shortage if you go back. And in the HoM, we've elected more CF than LF or RF - in fact, our two best-populated everyday positions among those we've elected are CF and SS.

Of course SS has the phenomenon that the top one player towers over all the others in your metric of choice.
   17. SandyRiver Posted: September 02, 2008 at 05:36 PM (#2926029)
Wait, ain't there a problem in making the average the floor of acceptability? You'd end up setting a higher standard for future generations than previous ones, for one thing.

5.
response to 4.
I think the idea is to set higher standards so that equivalents to current mistakes don't make it in future.


Good points both, but setting the bar at the median implies an assumption that just under half of the writers' selections are undeserving. Maybe 25th percentile would be more appropriate? (Or, as usual, choosing any one point is wrong but some points are less wrong than others.)
   18. Dizzypaco Posted: September 02, 2008 at 05:43 PM (#2926036)
Well, I would say the fact that they managed to make any indefensible picks is an indictment.

I don't agree. The worst players selected by the BBWAA (Tony Perez, Bruce Sutter, etc) were still very good players. Besides which, if I agree with 90% or 95% of a group's picks, I'm not going to call it an indictment because of the other 5% or 10% that I disagree with. The problem with the veteran's committe was that the number was far higher than 5% or 10%, and that some of the players were nowhere near as good as the worst BBWAA selections.
   19. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: September 02, 2008 at 05:48 PM (#2926040)
I don't agree. The worst players selected by the BBWAA (Tony Perez, Bruce Sutter, etc) were still very good players. Besides which, if I agree with 90% or 95% of a group's picks, I'm not going to call it an indictment because of the other 5% or 10% that I disagree with. The problem with the veteran's committe was that the number was far higher than 5% or 10%, and that some of the players were nowhere near as good as the worst BBWAA selections.

As I said in my OP, I have no problem with players being elected that I personally disagree with. But I think there is a rather large gap between players I disagree with, and players that are indefensible.
   20. Tango Posted: September 02, 2008 at 05:52 PM (#2926047)
Patriot said:
In the next post, I will discuss why I feel the HOF is broken and the remedies that I think would serve to make it more interesting to me.


So, Patriot said that in a future post, he will tell us why the HOF is broken. He has yet to give us a reason as to why he doesn't want to bother with HOF debates. And yet...

Cooperstown said:
Comparing your personal Hall of Fame to the existing institution and dismissing the latter because they don't align is petulant, arrogant, indulgent and I would guess pretty meaningless to anybody who doesn't think exactly like you do. These are often cited as criticisms of blogs, and this one hits every one of them.


Indeed Patriot in his opening paragraph (and cut/pasted by Repoz) said:
In this post I will examine what the standards for the Hall have been empirically in terms I care about.


So, it's clear that Patriot intent (and his follow-through shows it) that he was going to do an examination. And he said that in the future he will give his opinion.

It seems to me that some readers saw the title of his post, that was enough for them. Indeed Patriot foreshadowed:
If you feel that the title is belied a little by what follows, that is understandable.


Not RTFA (i.e., outright dismissing it) and then complaining that the author is outright dismissing something he never said is... well, use any of the previously mentioned adjectives in this thread.

***

So, how about before coming to any conclusions as to what Patriot said or didn't say or did or did not do, one actually quotes his assertions first. And then, try to give a reasonable positive light on that (as a way to have a fair argument with yourself). And then, give us your conclusion (a reasonable negative light). Then, we can see exactly what the issue is and possible disconnect.
   21. Tango Posted: September 02, 2008 at 06:02 PM (#2926053)
For example, when Patriot talks about the median, he never said anything about "floor of acceptability". All he is talking about is not lowering the standards. So, if Hawk is a 59 WAR player and the median is 61, then he would indeed (slightly) lower the standard. That doesn't mean that he should not get in.

Jimmy Rollins may have lowered the standard for MVPs last year. That doesn't mean he didn't deserve it. You can make an acceptable argument for him as MVP. Not a great argument, like ARod last year, but an ok argument. Hawk's 1987 however is way near the bottom of the MVP pile: it not only lowered the standards of what an MVP is, but went even below the acceptable level of arguments. Hawk winning was like Pacino winning in Scent of a Woman.

It is not a floor of acceptability that he's talking about: it's the mezzanine of acceptability. Rollins is on the main floor. Hawk was in the basement. Median is the mezzanine of a three-floor building.
   22. Dizzypaco Posted: September 02, 2008 at 06:25 PM (#2926084)
Jimmy Rollins may have lowered the standard for MVPs last year.

There's no such thing, really, as a standard for MVPs. No one says that player x should win the MVP because Andre Dawson won it in 1987. All they do is compare the players who are actually in the running in any given year. This is one of the fundamental differences between MVP voting and Hall of Fame voting, and one of the reasons why MVP voting should never be brought up when discussing Hall of Fame voting.

As I said in my OP, I have no problem with players being elected that I personally disagree with. But I think there is a rather large gap between players I disagree with, and players that are indefensible.

The problem is that the line between someone you disagree with and someone you think is indefensible can be much smaller than you acknowledge. Who is it that the BBWAA has selected that is absolutely indefensible? Perez and Sutter seem to be about the worst choices I can think of, and yet they were still very good players. We're not talking George Kelly, Fred Lindstrom, or any of the other absurd Veteran's committee choices from the 20's and 30's.
   23. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 02, 2008 at 06:27 PM (#2926088)
Here's what Chris Jaffe said about the BBWAA selections a month or so ago:

Their errors of commission are Pie Traynor, Bill Terry, Catfish Hunter, Herb Pennock and I suppose Rabbit Maranville.


You can add Perez and Sutter to that mix, if you like. I don't think any of those players are indefensible selections by any standard (note the qualifier); if they were the worst players in the Hall of Fame I think we'd be satisfied that the voters were doing very well in terms of who they were putting in.

-- MWE
   24. Tango Posted: September 02, 2008 at 06:45 PM (#2926110)
There are a good dozen players in 87 that were better than Hawk, if not more. Hawk being voted in does set a standard: HR + RBI = wow. Justin Morneau thanks Hawk.

In a thread about outright dismissal of things, perhaps a refrain of outright dismissals like...
and one of the reasons why MVP voting should never be brought up when discussing Hall of Fame voting

...should be in order at this point. You can quibble that the analogy is not quality... it's at least "acceptable". It's at worst not a Hawk-like argument.

For every Bruce Sutter voted in, there is 10 or 20 Bruce Sutterish players that is not voted in. I list a few here. You can add Tekulve and a few other relievers to the mix. By the standard that Willie Bloomquist is a MLB player (there are 10 or 20 guys like him toiling in MiLB), Bruce Sutter is a HOF.
   25. Cooperstown Schtick Posted: September 02, 2008 at 06:56 PM (#2926130)
Tango, I RTFA. He spends this article describing what the Hall of Fame is in his eyes and in his terms with a promise that he will use these terms and measures to discredit the institution in a future article. Whether or not he ever delivers on that promise does not change the message or tone of this article, which is set in the title and opening statement. I stand by what I said.

Again, if all the article sought to do was create a new personal Hall of Fame, have at it. Seeking to discredit an existing institution because it doesn't meet the standards of your own excellent player-measurement skills is arrogant, and statements like "I will discuss why I feel the HOF is broken and the remedies that I think would serve to make it more interesting to me," reveal the motives to be just completely indulgent and obnoxious.

Maybe it's more his style than what he's actually trying to say, but the whole thing puts me off completely.
   26. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: September 02, 2008 at 07:03 PM (#2926140)
Lately, when I think about the HOF, it isn't about the Plaque Room. It isn't about the exhibitions. It's about the library. That part isn't broken, AFAICT.
   27. a bebop a rebop Posted: September 02, 2008 at 07:06 PM (#2926145)
This article brings to mind an interesting question: who is the best player the VC has ever elected? One would think it would have to be one of the real old-timers: Nichols, Hamilton, Delahanty, Brouthers...
   28. Dizzypaco Posted: September 02, 2008 at 07:07 PM (#2926149)
There are a good dozen players in 87 that were better than Hawk, if not more. Hawk being voted in does set a standard: HR + RBI = wow. Justin Morneau thanks Hawk.

The idea that HR + RBI = wow did not start with Hawk, and is not a result of Hawk. Hawk is a symptom of a way of thinking, which is a very different thing than starting a standard. Morneau would have won the MVP even if Dawson had never been born.

it's at least "acceptable".

No its not, for the reason I stated in my earlier post. Voters don't bring up earlier MVP winners when making their choices. If a voter thinks RBI's are very important, its not because of their earlier votes. Bill James made this point once, that in MVP voting, everything is wiped clean every year.

For every Bruce Sutter voted in, there is 10 or 20 Bruce Sutterish players that is not voted in. I list a few here.

I don't agree with your analysis - or at least its implication. I agree that Sutter should not be in the Hall of Fame, but he was not as bad as you make him out to be - he was one of the best relievers in baseball for several years, during a time when relievers threw 100 or more high leverage innings a year. He made several all star games, and he deserved to make them. I'm not arguing that he's a Hall of Famer, and his selection was a mistake, but he was damned good, and clearly better than some of the guys from your list IMO.
   29. TomH Posted: September 02, 2008 at 07:14 PM (#2926158)
Well, actually, Hawk winning in 87 DOES create problems going forward. We're treated each early autumn to guys spouting about how a player who drives in lots of runs on a winner should be the MVP because... those kind of guys have been named MVPs before! Ipso facto, QED.

If earlier voters had not been so enamored with players who had great teammates, it would make it less likely for current BBWAA members to follow that silly line of thinking.
   30. Tango Posted: September 02, 2008 at 07:16 PM (#2926160)
Coop: well, I don't see the article as trying to create a new personal Hall of Fame. Again, where does he say that? He also didn't introduce any excellent player-measurement metric. In fact, he used one he wasn't crazy about. He was trying to describe the HOF standards in this part 1.

"reveal the motives to be just completely indulgent and obnoxious."

No. It reveals how you are describing his motives. It reveals no such thing to me, likely because I read Patriot all the time. The worst you can say is that he set a tone with his headline, and that he didn't explain himself well. Using words like "completely" is to really paint yourself into a corner. How about "somewhat indulgent" (without the obnoxious part)? It is a blog after all.

Is it the election season that makes people take sides?
   31. DCW3 Posted: September 02, 2008 at 07:18 PM (#2926165)
This article brings to mind an interesting question: who is the best player the VC has ever elected? One would think it would have to be one of the real old-timers: Nichols, Hamilton, Delahanty, Brouthers...

Arky Vaughan? Johnny Mize?
   32. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: September 02, 2008 at 07:22 PM (#2926174)
The BBWAA has made few "indefensible choices by any standard"


I don't think any of those players are indefensible selections by any standard


Your words.
   33. BDC Posted: September 02, 2008 at 07:24 PM (#2926176)
Hawk winning in 87 DOES create problems going forward. We're treated each early autumn to guys spouting about how a player who drives in lots of runs on a winner should be the MVP because... those kind of guys have been named MVPs before!

Except the Cubs were pretty bad that year. The award seemed unusual even at the time for just that reason.

Dawson got everyone's attention that spring with the blank-FA contract gambit. I suspect that bumped him up on some MVP ballots.
   34. Cooperstown Schtick Posted: September 02, 2008 at 07:27 PM (#2926180)
This article brings to mind an interesting question: who is the best player the VC has ever elected? One would think it would have to be one of the real old-timers: Nichols, Hamilton, Delahanty, Brouthers...

Smokey Joe Williams

On edit:

Coop: well, I don't see the article as trying to create a new personal Hall of Fame.

No, I don't see that either. Instead, he's trying to bash an existing Hall of Fame. I'm saying the former is more palatable than what he's doing.

Using words like "completely" is to really paint yourself into a corner. How about "somewhat indulgent" (without the obnoxious part)? It is a blog after all.

And that was my initial point. It's one thing to argue the merits of those whom you see as marginal Hall of Famers one way or the other, but to say the institution lacks any merit and is not even worthy of discussion because it fails to consider your own very excellent rating system is exactly the kind of arrogance and indulgence for which blogs come under attack, and yeah, it's obnoxious. Different in a conversation with friends than on a blog with worldwide access -- the implicit message being that this has some importance beyond your own mind.

On edit 2: Noting the irony of my commenting my opinion on the blog. I am not excluding myself from the list of indulgent, obnoxious people, I guess.
   35. Tango Posted: September 02, 2008 at 07:30 PM (#2926184)
"than starting a standard. "

I didn't mean to say he started or set the standard. He reinforced that standard, as TomH is pointing out.

***

"Voters don't bring up earlier MVP winners when making their choices."

I'm not saying MVP leads to HOF. I'm saying the analogy of MVP is similar to HOF. That is, the standard-settings of the MVP (HR+RBI=wow) is in the same vein as championships+up-the-middle=wow. Nowhere do I mean to suggest that getting MVP "points" gives you HOF "points".

I could have used some other analogy that didn't necessarily have such a strong correlation between MVP and HOF. Say, having Troy Percival as your closer is above the median point of closers, but that doesn't mean that Jose Valverde (or whoever makes the better argument) doesn't make an acceptable closer. That's all he is saying here. There's median (2nd floor), there acceptable (1st floor) and then there's really hard to defend (basement).

I should have made that clearer.

***

"and clearly better than some"

If by clear, you mean clear as mud, then I can agree with you. Everyone seems to be taking the clearly, and completely and very definite positions. There doesn't seem to be any room for compromise here. Maybe less intransigence might make for a better discussion. I'm pretty adamant about that.(*)

(*) The Pozterisk to the rescue. That last statement is completely tongue-in-cheek.
   36. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 02, 2008 at 07:31 PM (#2926187)
For every Bruce Sutter voted in, there is 10 or 20 Bruce Sutterish players that is not voted in.


Under one set of standards, absolutely. But if you consider "ace relief pitcher" as being separate and distinct from "starting pitcher" and deserving of its own set of standards - and while I don't hold to that train of thought, I don't think it's a completely unreasonable position - then you can make an argument for Sutter's inclusion (as well as Tekulve, Tom Henke, and some others).

-- MWE
   37. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 02, 2008 at 07:39 PM (#2926197)
I think #32 misread what I was saying in my original comment - even the worst BBWAA selections are IMO defensible in some context.

-- MWE
   38. Walt Davis Posted: September 02, 2008 at 07:41 PM (#2926198)
Dawson got everyone's attention that spring with the blank-FA contract gambit. I suspect that bumped him up on some MVP ballots.

Which clearly set a standard ... :-)
   39. Dizzypaco Posted: September 02, 2008 at 07:49 PM (#2926210)
I didn't mean to say he started or set the standard. He reinforced that standard, as TomH is pointing out.

Except that he didn't reinforce the standard, he was merely a result of the standard. The problem is that voters misinterpret statistics. Dawson's selection is a result of the misinterpretation, and the fact that the misinterpretation continues has nothing to do with Dawson's selection - it would have continued with or without him.

I'm not saying MVP leads to HOF.

My apologies - I wasn't suggesting that you did. I was saying that you were saying that the selection of one player as MVP makes it more likely that a similar player in the future will be voted as MVP. This is where I disagree. Morneau was selected as MVP because some of the voters actually thought he was the most valuable player in the league, not because "If we picked Dawson in '87, I guess we should pick Morneau this year."

This is what is so different between MVP voting and HOF - people actually say, "If player x is a Hall of famer, than player Y should be also."

We're treated each early autumn to guys spouting about how a player who drives in lots of runs on a winner should be the MVP because... those kind of guys have been named MVPs before!

I disagree - what usually happens is that we're treated each early autumn to guys spouting about how a player who drives in lots of runs on a winner should be MVP because that is who should win the MVP award. There's a difference.
   40. Tango Posted: September 02, 2008 at 07:55 PM (#2926219)
but to say the institution lacks any merit and is not even worthy of discussion because it fails to consider your own very excellent rating system is exactly the kind of arrogance and indulgence for which blogs come under attack


He said maybe one of those three things.

When he says: "I have stated before that I don’t particularly care about Hall of Fame debates because I think that the HOF is beyond salvation. " you can conclude "the institution lacks any merit ". Not really, but you can sort of make that conclusion. It has some merit, but it's too late to save it. So, it doesn't lack any merit. It has some merit. Frank Thomas's fielding lacks any merit.

"is not even worthy of discussion": He's discussing it! He says he doesn't care about the HOF debates (would Rice or Hawk be in or not). He obviously cares about the HOF as an idea.

"it fails to consider your own very excellent rating system": as I said, he has no very excellent system, especially since he says "I did not want to spend a bunch of time calculating career WAR figures, so I used a reasonable approximation. "

I think you are reading the headline and then reading between the lines. If you take his words for exactly what they are, you get exactly what he said.

But, as Patriot himself said, he may have brought it on himself by the provoking headline.
   41. Tango Posted: September 02, 2008 at 07:59 PM (#2926229)
"and the fact that the misinterpretation continues has nothing to do with Dawson's selection - it would have continued with or without him."

I dunno. If Ozzie and Trammell were selected MVP in 1987, isn't it possible that this may have set a certain tone in the future? Regardless, you get the gist of my analogy, even if it's wasn't the best of analogies.

Back to the main point, he was not advocating that only above-median selections are acceptable selections; just that those above-median selections are not going to lower the standards, simply as a mathematical principle.
   42. TomH Posted: September 02, 2008 at 08:03 PM (#2926234)
tango's 41: If Ozzie and Trammell were selected MVP in 1987, isn't it possible that this may have set a certain tone in the future?

exactly what I was trying to say.
   43. Dizzypaco Posted: September 02, 2008 at 08:07 PM (#2926239)
Back to the main point, he was not advocating that only above-median selections are acceptable selections; just that those above-median selections are not going to lower the standards, simply as a mathematical principle.

Above median selections do not lower the median. This is a mathematical principle. My definition of standard. however, is different. If there are 300 players in the Hall, and someone new is selected who is the 152nd best player, does this lower the standards? I would argue no, even if he lowers the median.

If you do want to argue that median = standards, then anyone selected above that line raises the standards of the Hall, by definition. Should the goal be to continually raise the median, or to keep it relatively constant? I would argue the latter.
   44. Tango Posted: September 02, 2008 at 08:17 PM (#2926257)
Right, he was never arguing what should happen. Simply that above-median selections are good.

Below-median selection may or may not be good. We don't know, because we don't know how much below the median the player necessarily is. Hawk is below median, but probably not that much below median. Willie Bloomquist is way below median. One player is an acceptable choice, and the other is not.

That's all he was trying to say there. There was no advocating of anything there.
   45. Cooperstown Schtick Posted: September 02, 2008 at 08:18 PM (#2926260)
Tango, I think the extent to which I am being hard on him is matched by the degree to which you are being generous. The arguments both come from being defensive of something we care about, and recognizing this I'm going to let it go.

Let this be a warning: wherever there is Hall of Fame disdain, wherever the methods of election are being sullied, wherever the virtues of Rizzuto and Mazeroski are being impeached, I will be there. With stable analysis or irrational melodrama, I will be there. To Cooperstown! I'm off!

(Ow, charlie horse. Ow. Ow. That hurts. Somebody? Some ice?)
   46. Dag Nabbit: secretary of the World Banana Forum Posted: September 02, 2008 at 08:54 PM (#2926295)
As I said in my OP, I have no problem with players being elected that I personally disagree with. But I think there is a rather large gap between players I disagree with, and players that are indefensible.

Great point. That's my favorite lesson from the Hall of Merit. Hughie Jennings and Jake Beckley are both perfectly reasonable enshrinees, even if most will only prefer one.
   47. Esteban Rivera Posted: September 02, 2008 at 09:02 PM (#2926308)
"and the fact that the misinterpretation continues has nothing to do with Dawson's selection - it would have continued with or without him."


Absolutely. Just look at the 1987 AL selection George Bell. Let's just blame Jackie Jensen and Dolph Camilli for setting the tone earlier. Or Don Baylor.

Ozzie Smith's real problem was that he had Jack Clark on his team, who fit the HR/RBI candidate mindset but missed the time due to injury. Clark still got votes, but the missed time eliminated him as a top candidate. Heck, I'd argue that Ozzie finished that high in the voting because Clark was injured for a time. That, along with Dawson delivering those numbers after the whole blank contract story, were Ozzie's main undoing.
   48. Dag Nabbit: secretary of the World Banana Forum Posted: September 02, 2008 at 09:04 PM (#2926312)
This article brings to mind an interesting question: who is the best player the VC has ever elected? One would think it would have to be one of the real old-timers: Nichols, Hamilton, Delahanty, Brouthers...

It's definately an old-timer. The BBWAA only elected 2 men with real 19th century experience - Keeler & Young - both played well into the 20th century. The logistics of voting meant they weren't gonig to get the early guys. Start voting in 1936, have EVERYONE still out there, no encylopedia to check on. A real mess. They also missed a lot of great deadballers (Walsh, Brown) for the same reason.

For all intensive purposes, the BBWAA has only had a complete look at 1920-onward guys. Whose the best player since then not elected by them? I'd say either Johnny Mize or Arky Vaughan, probably the latter.

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