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Saturday, January 04, 2003

Donnie, Keith, and Steve

Don reviews the remaining first basemen on the ballot.  Rated PG.

Who needs the Keltner List when we have all these tools to measure performance? Because the Hall of Fame is imprecise and haphazard, and the more times we circle around the same data, the more likely it is that some piece of context will emerge from the debris and allow us to anoint someone as either Worthy or Not.

If the above seems overly critical of a framework that has thus far dominated the Hall of Fame presentations here, you are directed over to the Big Bad Blog for a far more incendiary version. In the meantime here, I?ll stay on my medication and deliver a relatively sober assessment for three first basemen currently overshadowed by Eddie Murray?taking them alphabetically, we have Steve Garvey, Keith Hernandez, and Don Mattingly.

I?m not going to take a lot of time answering the questions on the Keltner List for reasons that will be clearer to you if you decide to brave the Blog. There are really only two that matter?question #1 (was the player ever the best in baseball) and #10 (best player at his position currently not in the HoF). The rest are essentially instruments for special pleading of various sorts, or simply add anecdotal evidence that is rarely (if ever) sufficient to make a difference in borderline cases.

For question #1, we have several modes of interpretation. Bill James worded it in such a way that it?s reliant on opinion, either in the form of some nebulous consensus or in the more tangible form of MVP voting. We can add other, more “precise” measures, such as OPS+,WARP, and Win Shares (pick your poison, mix/match, or prepare your own potion) to at least see if consensus tracks with sabermetric math.

Since James? Win Shares is currently the only method that really seems to make a credible stab at summing up all of the elements involved in player value, I?m going to focus on it here. (Yes, I realize it?s controversial, and I can?t stop you from hijacking any ensuing discussion into the nether regions of neo-sabermetric theory, but try to limit such exchanges to topics relevant to the Hall of Fame qualifications of our Three Amigos.)

When we look at MVP awards, we can see that all three (Garvey, Hernandez and Mattingly) were MVP winners once. As I note in the Blog version of this article, one of these awards is significantly more dubious than the others. If we were tallying up the Keltner List questions (and we?re not doing that, remember), we?d have to put an asterisk (or some other typesetting symbol of your choice) next to Garvey?s MVP award.

Question #1 can be interpreted to be about peak value, a daunting concept that has found itself increasingly under attack in some neo-sabermetric quarters. When we use Win Shares to look at the peaks of these players, we find that Mattingly has the best consecutive three-year peak, while Hernandez matches him if we use non-consecutive years. Garvey trails these two by a significant margin.

As I discuss in more detail over in the Blog version of this article, the question that needs to be answered in order to make question #1 truly useful (and, by doing so, virtually eliminating the need for all of the other questions on the list) is whether a player?s peak is a) so brilliant at its apex that it justifies election to the Hall regardless of a shortened career, and b) similarly impressive when we apply a more stringent construction of peak (as suggested in the Blog essay, nine years as opposed to three).

It isn?t exactly clear why James ranks Mattingly so high on the list of first basemen in his New Historical Baseball Abstract?his comment, “100% ballplayer, 0% bullshit”, apparently addresses character issues in an attempt to justify his downgrading of Dick Allen (whose Win Shares per 162 games is second only to Lou Gehrig). Mattingly?s peak is very good indeed, about as good as likely first-ballot Hall of Famer Eddie Murray?but Murray?s peak is a good bit below Allen?s, as well as a host of other first basemen.

Here are the Win Shares numbers for our Three Amigos, plus Murray and Allen:

Player, 3best, 3cons, 9best, 9cons, Career

Murray, 97, 93, 242, 242, 437

Allen, 116, 108, 285, 281, 342

Hernandez, 91, 89, 238, 212, 311

Garvey, 78, 78, 200, 196, 275

Mattingly, 94, 94, 227, 213, 263

One is forced to conclude that Mattingly?s peak isn?t so dazzling as to compensate for his early demise. Hernandez lasted longer, and accumulated more Win Shares. His total of 311 compares favorably with recent Veterans? Committee pick Orlando Cepeda (310).

Hernandez is really the most attractive candidate here, if for no other reason that he goes against the grain of what has become the personification of first basemen?big sluggers and RBI men. His reputation as a great fielder is supported by both mainstream opinion and the current state-of-the-art in fielding analysis, and his OBP-driven hitting skills are a signature of that often-maligned term?“pure hitter”?which is supposed to identify a player not blessed with the innate power to have his OBP inflated by being pitched around but who draws walks nonetheless.

However, Question #10 is going to stymie Keith?s chances for a while. (Actually, it?s the more generic Question #6?best player not currently in the Hall?that is the culprit.) There?s going to be a glut of more deserving players on the horizon for awhile, and the BBWAA may not get around to Hernandez before his eligibility expires.

The rest of the Keltner List questions don?t really add anything useful or compelling to this surprisingly straightforward discussion. And since the Keltner List is dissected in greater detail over at the blog, I?ll simply note that much of what that list of questions does is to circle around the poles of peak and career value in something akin to an asynchronous orbit.

So I?ll simply close by noting that Hernandez is the quintessential Veterans Committee Hall of Fame selection. Whether he?ll make it before Mattingly depends on a) how swayed the new Vet Committee will be by high RBI seasons, b) how much of a factor Keith?s drug dalliances will be when his name reaches the Vet Committee ballot, and c) how many of the voters share James? moony reverence for someone with the magisterially cheesy nickname of “Donnie Baseball.”

I think both Mattingly and Hernandez will go in via the Vets? side door, while Garvey will remain on the outside looking in. (He has more total Win Shares than Mattingly, but it took him a good bit longer to get there.) Of course, the Vets should enshrine Dick Allen ahead of either one of these guys, but this is America, after all.


Don Malcolm Posted: January 04, 2003 at 05:00 AM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Scott Posted: January 04, 2003 at 01:16 AM (#608012)
Will Clark isn't mentioned, but the Win Shares stats make him almost dead-even w/ Allen (minus the "character" problems) and better than Keith/Don/Steve. Clark's best three seasons totaled 115 Win Shares; his career Win Shares are 330.

I don't think any but Murray should go in, however. There are so many top-flight 1B in the HOF and, just as importantly, coming down the pike in a few years -- not just McGwire, but Palmiero and McGriff (308 and 294 Win Shares, respectively, thru 1999 alone -- probably in the mid/high 300s now), all of whom seem more deserving.
   2. Scott Posted: January 04, 2003 at 01:17 AM (#608015)
In listing superior soon-to-retire 1B, I totally forgot Bagwell (287 win shares thru 1999; 110 in his best 3 yrs). And Frank Thomas still can make the all-time greats list with just a few more above-average seasons.

The point is that in the next few years we'll be adding 4-5 1B who are clearly much better, whether you measure by peak or longevity or both, than Hernandez, Mattingly, and Garvey.
   3. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 04, 2003 at 01:17 AM (#608017)
I have Hernandez, like Parker, as borderline. I decided to leave him off my Internet ballot this year until I make a final decision on him.

Mattingly needed a few more years of good baseball for me to vote for him. Garvey was a fine player, but was not a great player.

I agree with Don Malcolm that Allen was better than all three. Scott is also correct that Clark was a better choice, also.
   4. Charles Saeger Posted: January 05, 2003 at 01:17 AM (#608030)
Odd thing about Will Clark ... he was NOT less the character problems. I'm an O's fan so I guess I know him from best on the tail end of his career, but the man made trouble in the Oriole clubhouse. He was something of a hardass, and looked to be a bit of a racist.

I wonder if it is Don hammering away on this, but I'm not against Allen in the Hall. Like Terry, I'm not really for Allen in the Hall either. One thing at which I've looked a bit in the past, am showing this time, is Allen's teams against expected wins.

Year Team Lg W ExW Diff    
1964 Phi NL 92 81 11       
1970 Phi NL 73 72 -1       
1970 StL NL 78 90 -12      
1971 StL NL 90 82 -8       
1971 LA NL 89 82 7         
1972 LA NL 85 85 0         
1972 Chi AL 87 71 16       
1975 Chi AL 75 81 6        
1975 Phi NL 80 77 3        
1977 Phi NL 101 92 -9      
1977 Oak AL 63 91 -28      
1978 Oak AL 69 76 7        

That's Bill James's Expected Wins. We look to be worshipping Bill James over here, and I wouldn't want to go against that. When Allen joined the team, the Diff column is W-ExW, and when he left a team, the Diff column is ExW-W.

We could take out the 1977-78 Phillies/Athletics. Allen played for the 1977 Athletics because he was washed up, which the numbers show and nobody, not even Allen, says otherwise. When we do that, we have +22, mostly with two teams, the 1964 Phillies and the 1972 White Sox, both years where Allen played at an MVP level. No one would think those teams would not become better when a man with 40 Win Shares joins those teams.

When he stunk, his team stunk. When he was great, his team became much better. Going to Saint Louis did not hurt the Phillies, but it looks to have hurt the Cardinals. Leaving Saint Louis helped the Cardinals and the Dodgers, though leaving the Dodgers did not hurt them. Rejoining the Phillies hurt the White Sox a bit and helped the Phillies a tad.

Unless he played great, he does not look to have had much of an effect on his team. He's odd as he was a great player who moved around the league in mid-career, and his record here hurts him a bit. How much? Not that much. The great years come out to +27, the lousy years come out to -30, the others come out to -5. The last set is what interests me, since only an idiot would think Dick Allen was not a great player in 1964 and 1972, and was not a lousy player in 1977. You would want this number to be positive, but -5 overall could well be a fluke, and so it doesn't mean much.

So, if you want to make Mattingly and Garvey and maybe Hernandez immortal, you need to make Dick Allen an immortal first. If you don't, then Allen is an argument, and one in which I have no passion either way. He may have pissed off many writers and other folks, but whatever these antics were, they do not look to have had much of an impact on his teams.
   5. Marc Posted: January 05, 2003 at 01:17 AM (#608047)
1B really really presents a bunch of very tough choices. But cutting through all the stuff, the only three retired candidates who really ought to go in the front door (BBWAA) are Eddie Murray, Mark McGwire and Dick Allen.

Oops, too late for Allen. But the man had the highest peak values of them all, including McGwire (and even Thomas and Bagwell).

All things considered Murray and McGwire, of course, will be good representatives at the position that is defined by Gehrig, Foxx and Greenberg, meaning that they rate behind the first two and ahead of the third. They're in the mix.

Allen on the other hand rates below Greenberg, down there with Bill Terry and Orlando Cepeda. But I distinguish Allen from the others who might be considered (Will Clark, Donnie, Keith and Steve) also on the basis of Gray Ink + Black Ink + HoF Standards + HoF Monitor. Taking all at a glance, only Garvey is close (and on peak value only Clark is close). Nobody else comes close on both measures.

Nor, by the way, do Palmiero and McGriff. Bagwell and Thomas are a different story. But the fact that there are so many 1B in the HoF mix today ought to be a big red flag. We can't elect them all, like deadball pitchers. We better figure out how to differentiate the truly great from the near-great before we embarrass ourselves.
   6. John Posted: January 06, 2003 at 01:17 AM (#608053)
Nor, by the way, do Palmiero and McGriff. Bagwell and Thomas are a different story. But the fact that there are so many 1B in the HoF mix today ought to be a big red flag. We can't elect them all, like deadball pitchers. We better figure out how to differentiate the truly great from the near-great before we embarrass ourselves.

Agreed in principle, but we have to be careful. Fifteen or so years ago, we had four of the all-time best dozen or so 3B active at one time, in Schmidt, Brett, Boggs, and Evans, plus Molitor, although he passed through the position fairly quickly. Whether it was a "can't elect 'em all" mentality or some other factor(s), Evans got lost in the mix and dumped from the ballot, and another of the all-timers who was on the HOF ballot while those guys were at their peak (Santo, obviously) managed to not get himself elected. Sometimes there's just an odd concentration of talent at one position at one time. Right now--or, most accurately, a couple of years ago, when McGwire was active, Thomas could hit, and Vaughn weighed less than Fat Elvis--it's 1B.

My point is more w/r/t the active players than this year's ballot, and is certainly not that we need to vote in Garvey and Hernandez and Mattingly--none of them is Ron Santo or Darrell Evans. But of the three, Hernandez, at least, would look a lot more like a "great" if we all were standing in, say, 1990 and looking back, without (subconsciously) comparing him to the sheer number of active "greats."
   7. Chris Dial Posted: January 06, 2003 at 01:17 AM (#608054)
I've had lunch with Dick Allen. Very very nice man. Just regular "shoot the breeze" kind of guy.

Terry, you must be against Babe Ruth being in the Hall of Fame. Electing Ruth was a slap in the face to the hard-working players.

RMc - I didn't read it that way (here) - I read it as all too often media controls opinion (even of the media). Look at the voting for MVP - who did ESPN promote? We have a winner. Look at all the bad press Bonds gets (got). Allen was just Bonds in 1970. That may or may not be racism (although in 1970 I'm sure it had a lot to do with it), but it is how the American press (and BBWAA) works. Even press guys who haven't had run-ins with Bonds have their opinion poisoned by fuvking assjoles like Rick Reilly.
   8. Scott Posted: January 06, 2003 at 01:17 AM (#608069)
McGriff & Palmiero sure look like sure-fire HOF?rs to me. Their career #s thru 2002:

HR: 482 for McGriff, 490 for Palmiero

OBP: .380 for McGriff, .373 for Palmiero

OPS+: 136 for McGriff, 135 for Palmiero

HOF Standards (avg HOFer, 50): 47.9 for McGriff, 51.1 for Palmiero

HOF Monitor (likely HOFer > 100): 100.0 for McGriff, 139.9 for Palmiero

So unless, this coming May, McGriff drives his car into Palmiero?s and blows both of them up, each will have 500 HR next year. And both have very good OBP as well: far better than most of the borderline OFs like Rice, Murphy, Dawson, Paker; better than Mattingly & Garvey; not quite as good as Hernandez or Clark, both of whom hit many, many fewer HR than McGriff/Palmiero.

What am I missing?
   9. Charles Saeger Posted: January 06, 2003 at 01:18 AM (#608075)
Are you calling Clark a racist? Based on what? Or does he just look like one? (I didn't know you could tell a racist by looking at one)

Clark didn't have any problems in Baltimore that couldn't be solved by a move to a real team.

Pardon me for saying so, but you're a jerk. It looks to me such from your comments. Prove me wrong, please. You knew damn well what the intent of my words were, and you chose to lower the level of discussion anyway.

As for Clark, he made a few comments (I don't have them around, I'd check old Sun archives, except the Sun wants moolah) early in his tenure with the Orioles (when they still thought they were good) that sounded, to me and some other folks who post around here, to be racially loaded. Don't have specifics, I'm afraid.
   10. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: January 06, 2003 at 01:18 AM (#608082)
During his time in San Francisco, Clark was involved in a couple of incidents, the most well-known of which were telling Jeffrey Leonard's nephew to "to get your black ass away from me", dropping the N-bomb on Chris Brown, and made a disparaging remark about Bill Foster (a black player with the Reds) that alluded to slavery.

From The SF Chronicle's Lowell Cohn (link now dead):
On top of that Clark never apologized to the nephew, and there was no denial of him being a racist. Matter of fact he said he was what he was and he couldn't change that because of where he was raised(i.e, Mississippi).

There were also comments from his days in Baltimore and Texas, but nothing I could document. I'm not going to say that Will Clark's a racist (maybe because he was one of my favorites), but he's sure said some f*cking evil things, race-wise. You can do the research and draw your own conclusions.
   11. Charles Saeger Posted: January 06, 2003 at 01:18 AM (#608086)
Todd: no, Sean is the jerk, or at least looking like one. I quote:

Are you calling Clark a racist? Based on what? Or does he just look like one? (I didn't know you could tell a racist by looking at one)

He did not just ask for proof, but said I was picking on Clark because of his looks. He was specifically picking on my "looked to be a racist" statement, which, while not worded best, most folks would understand that my judgment was based on words, not looks. It was a grammar flame (which he followed with a flame of my favorite team), a sign of an Internet jerk.

I have no issue with him asking for proof. In fact, I tried to look when posting the above, which is why I said the Sun archives (it was a Sun quote, IIRC). I'd certainly want to see the statements if I had not done so. He could have but asked, but he chose to add flames to his question, which I tried to answer, and failed, and admitted my failure. Hence, I stand by my "jerk" statement, until Sean shows otherwise. Sorry if I wasn't clear.

Sean: Like I said, most folks would at least read that I wasn't judging Clark by his looks. If all you wanted was proof, why add the flames? Again, the statements you made (and your "dumbass" retort) show you to be a jerk. I hope I'm wrong.
   12. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: January 06, 2003 at 01:18 AM (#608088)
If this is true then I'm surprised Clark got away with it. This is probably worse than John Rocker.

That he said those things is fact. Your interpretation of those facts may vary. The reality is that he did say some extremely inflammatory things that had racial connotations. If your definition of a racist includes someone who uses race-based language to denegrate others, then you'd have to call the guy a racist.

Personally, I don't think he was a racist; he was the type of guy who would regularly call out white players using some pretty rough language but, probably because he was white, never pulled out any racist white comments. I think he was more in the mode of the "good ol' boy" who doesn't think twice about using racial remarks as a put-down, and that side of him got out whenever he was in uniform. Give his freakish intensity on the field, I'm almost surprised it didn't happen more often. I bet if he weren't such a good player, it would have been a bigger issue.

Okay, I'm done.
   13. favre Posted: January 06, 2003 at 01:18 AM (#608090)

I just ran Mattingly through the Keltner test; not to argue with Don Malcolm really, but just because I think it's a fun thing to do.

1. Was he ever considered the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

Absolutely. In the mid-80s, Mattingly was often identified as the best player in the game.

Was he? Here are the Win shares totals for Mattingly and some other folks from 1984-1986:

Mattingly 29, 32, 34 95
Ripken 37, 25,28 90
Henderson 28, 38, 26 92
Sandberg 38, 28, 20 86
Carter (Gary) 30, 33, 23 86
Raines 32, 36, 33 101
Schmidt 26, 26, 31 83
Murphy 33, 33, 22 88
Boggs 28, 31, 37 96

Raines is the leader, with Boggs in second and Mattingly right behind him. For the two year period of 1985-1986, Raines has 69, Mattingly and Boggs are dead even at 66. Rickey is at 64.

Now, the fact that Mattingly played for a New York team (albeit a mediocre one for much of his career) while Raines languished in Montreal certainly helped cultivate Looey?s image as the best player in baseball. Nevertheless, it wasn?t all just Big Apple hype; Mattingly may not have been the best player in the game from 1984-1986, but he was darned close.

2. Was he the best player on his team?

Mattingly led the Yankees in Win Shares in ?84, ?86, ?87, and ?89; he also led the team in OPS in each of those years. He finished second to Henderson (38 to 32) in 85 and third in ?88 (31, 28, 24). It?s not much of stretch to say he was the best player on the Yankees from 1984-1989 (although I imagine some people would argue for Rickey Henderson).

3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position?

Yes, but only for a short period, 1984-1986; Mark McGwire arrived in ?87. Strange fact: In 1984, Eddie Murray and Mattingly had identical OPS (.918), RBI?s (110), and home park indices (86).

4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

Yes, more than I thought than when I began this study. In 1985 the Yankees had a scorching August and September (42-20) to finish two back of Toronto. Mattingly hit 390/447/737 in August and 325/367/684 in September. In 1986, the Yanks had another strong September (20-11) to finish 5.5 back of Boston; Mattingly hit 419/462/638. In 1988, the Yanks had a 33-18 start and were in first, but a poor summer derailed them, including a 9-20 August. Mattingly was a big factor in the collapse, hitting 254/295/356 in August, but was also a big factor in the September resurgence, 328/363/517. The Yanks finished in fifth place, but only 3.5 back of the division leaders.

In 1995 the Yanks were in a pennant race of sorts, fighting for the wild card with Anaheim and Seattle. Unfortunately, Retrosheet does not have data for Mattingly during that season; nevertheless, they must be the coolest website I?ve ever seen. Incidentally, Mattingly played in his only postseason series that year; he hit 417/440/708 in five games. That, folks, is some clutch hitting.

5. Was he good enough that he could play regularly after passing his prime?

Mattingly retired after the ?95 season (sort of; it wasn?t official until ?96, for reasons beyond my meager powers of comprehension) at the age of 34. That year, his OPS+ was 97; the previous four years, it had been 103, 108, 118, and 113. He had become an average player, more or less. He probably could have kept playing somewhere if he had chosen to.

6. Is he the best player in baseball history who is not in the HOF?

No. Come on, say the litany with me: Murray, Carter, Blyleven, Sandberg?.

7. Are most players who have comparable statistics in the HOF?

The top ten, in order: Cecil Cooper, John Olerud, Wally Joyner, Hal McRae, Kirby Puckett, Will Clark, Tony Oliva, Keith Hernandez, Jim Bottomley, Edgar Martinez. Only Bottomley and Puckett are in the Hall; Bottomley is a very questionable member. Puckett, Clark, and Oliva are similar to Mattingly: outstanding players whose careers ended early. (as opposed to Martinez, who started his career late, due to the Mariners? unrequited love of Jim Presley). I?ve heard HOF induction seriously discussed for Clark, Oliva, and Hernandez, but none of them are in yet.

Mattingly has 263 career win shares. Players with more win shares that are not in the HOF include Dick Allen (342), Keith Hernandez (311), Norm Cash (315), Mickey Vernon (296), Boog Powell (282), Steve Garvey (279), and Joe Judge (278). Gil Hodges also has 263 win shares.

8. Do the player?s numbers meet the HOF standard?

Mattingly does OK on the black ink test (23; 27 avg.HOF), but not very well on the standards test (34.1/50 avg.) or the grey ink (111/144 avg.) He does churn out a hefty 134 on the monitor test.

9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?

During his best years, Mattingly played in what was generally a pitcher?s park. The run index for those years:

1984 86
1985 88
1986 106
1987 93
1988 92
1989 112

10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the HOF?

No, Murray is. I won?t get into the Dick Allen debate.

11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? How many times was he close?

Mattingly had MVP-type seasons each year from 1984-1987. He finished 5th, 1st, 2nd, and 7th in those seasons respectively.

12. How many All-Star type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did mot of the players who played in this many All-Star games go into the HOF?

Mattingly was an all-star each year between ?84-?89, his ?94 season could also be considered borderline all-star. Other players with six appearances include Dick Allen, Bobby Bonilla, Ron Cey, Will Clark, Walker Cooper, Dom DiMaggio, Jim Fregosi, Bobby Grich, Gil Hodges, Elston Howard, Frank McCormick, Willie McCovey, Thurman Munson, Graig Nettles, Tony Oliva, Dave Parker, Bobby Richardson, Darryl Strawberry, Bill White, Billy Williams, and Maury Wills.

13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?


14. What impact did the player have on baseball history?

None that I know of.

15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the HOF, in its written guidelines, asks us to consider?

Mattingly was, and is, a class act.

What does this tell us? Nothing new for the most part: Mattingly had the kind of peak you'd want from an HOF'r, but not the career. I was impressed by Mattingly's performances in pennant races in the postseason. I wouldn't vote for him this year; I could conceivably vote for him at a later date, although he would be low on my ballot.
   14. Charles Saeger Posted: January 06, 2003 at 01:18 AM (#608092)
Well Charles, I guess it takes one to know one. Maybe I shouldn't have added the last part of my first comment, I didn't know what you meant by "looks to be racist". You are the one who started the personal insults.

Well, in this case, I dispute that. It looked to me like you started with the personal insults, so I responded in kind. Maybe I didn't know what you meant, but your comments definitely looked like personal flames. As best I can tell, you started the personal insults, not me.

Take back the "dumbass," the "takes one to know one" (IKYABWAIs are so 1980s), I take back the "jerk."
   15. Lemon Curry? Posted: January 07, 2003 at 01:18 AM (#608094)
Oh, yeah, Charlie!?!?

Well, the jerk store called. They are running out of you!
   16. Marc Posted: January 07, 2003 at 01:18 AM (#608102)
Scott wrote:

McGriff & Palmiero sure look like sure-fire HOF?rs to me. Their career #s thru 2002... each will have 500 HR next year. And both have very good OBP as well..What am I missing?

Well, you're missing context. No consideration of offensive environment. No consideration of their relative ranking against their peers--ie. number what? Four-five-six-seven at their position? No consideration of the ballots on which they will be appearing--ie. with whom. That's what you're missing.

Your's is a special case of "if...then." If George Kelly is in the HoF, then surely Mark Grace and Wally Joyner are deserving. No, you didn't campaign for Grace and Joyner, but it's the "if they hit 500 HR, then therefore they are automatically HoFers." I always wished that Dave Kingman had hit 500 so we could cast aside this logic. Bert Blyleven and Jim Kaat and Tommy John have more X than lots of HoFers, do you support them?

"If then" is just a wholly indefensible substitute for real context.
   17. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 07, 2003 at 01:18 AM (#608122)
I always wished that Dave Kingman had hit 500 so we could cast aside this logic.

I agree with the sentiment, but I have a feeling that he might have been elected if he had made the milestone. Do you remember the articles about what would the BBWAA do if Kong made 500 back in the eighties?

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