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Hall of Merit
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Monday, January 13, 2020

2021 Hall of Merit Ballot Discussion

2021 (December 2020)—elect 3

Top 10 Returning Players
Kenny Lofton, Johan Santana, Sammy Sosa, Jeff Kent, Lance Berkman, Bobby Abreu, Buddy Bell, Wally Schang, Bobby Bonds, Sal Bando

Newly eligible players

Tim Hudson
Mark Buehrle
Torii Hunter
Dan Haren
Barry Zito
Aramis Ramirez
Shane Victorino
Alex Rios
Grady Sizemore
A.J. Burnett

DL from MN Posted: January 13, 2020 at 02:06 PM | 649 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   601. Bleed the Freak Posted: January 05, 2021 at 12:31 PM (#5997540)
Flip Flip
   602. Brent Posted: January 06, 2021 at 09:17 PM (#5997818)
preliminary ballot

I was a long-time HoM voter but haven’t cast a ballot since 2015. I’ve decided to take it up again. It looks like most of the backlog is still the same.

My rating system is based on rWAR, adjusting for season length, military service, league quality, and post-season performance. I also judgmentally adjust some of rWAR’s positional factors for certain time periods. Although I don’t use wins above average directly, it’s a fairly good indicator of which players are likely to do well in my system. Over the next year, I’d like to try to update my system to take better advantage of some of the other information that’s now available.

1. Kenny Lofton. I prorate for shortened seasons, so I credit Lofton for a strong peak season in 1994. Even without that boost, though, I would still have him ranked at the top of this ballot.

2. Sammy Sosa

3. Bobby Abreu

4. Johan Santana

5. Bobby Bonds.

6. Sal Bando. Over the ten-year period from 1969 to 1978, he averaged 156 games a year with a 127 OPS+ and 5.7 WAR.

7. Kirby Puckett. For quite a while he was seriously overrated but now seems underrated. My peak/prime oriented system likes him.

8. Buddy Bell. An above-average hitter with an outstanding glove.

9. Willie Davis. The enlarged strike zone of 1963-68 kept him from achieving his offensive potential, but he was a great fielder.

10. Lance Berkman

11. Bernie Williams

12. Andy Pettitte

13. Phil Rizzuto. An excellent defensive shortstop, I credit him as about a 5 WAR/yr player for 1943-45.

14. César Cedeño. Didn’t do much after age 29, but he was a fine player before then.

15. Roy Oswalt

Just missing my ballot are Tim Hudson, Fred McGriff, Chuck Finley, Mark Buehrle, Vic Willis, and Hugh Duffy.

Dropping off my last ballot (from 6 years ago) is Hilton Smith. His record from age 30-onward is certainly consistent with a HoMer, but there’s still little known about his accomplishments during his 20s. As the Seamheads data have filled in, I’ve become less willing to base the case for a player on extrapolation, so he will remain off my ballot unless new data become available. (The same argument would apply to Luke Easter.)

Required disclosures:

Jeff Kent is just off my ballot at # 24.

Wally Schang doesn’t do well in my system, and I don’t buy the argument that 1920s catchers are underrepresented in the HoM. As Chris Cobb reminded us, we’ve elected Louis Santop and Biz Mackey from that era.
   603. Bleed the Freak Posted: January 06, 2021 at 09:49 PM (#5997826)
Welcome back Brent, one question: You have 9 of 15 spots taken up by OFers and 3 starting pitchers.

Could be that we are short on OFers or elected the wrong ones and opposite for pitchers, but would be great to see Tim Hudson sneak his way on your ballot : )
   604. Chris Cobb Posted: January 06, 2021 at 10:09 PM (#5997830)
2021 Ballot, with Explanations

<u>System Review</u>

I cast my first ballot in 1903 and voted in each election through 2010. I missed 2011 and 2012, voted in 2013 and 2014, then missed 2015-19. I returned to voting in 2020, so 2021 is my 112 election.

I rank players within decade-by-decade cohorts, using a metric that combines career value as measured by wins above replacement, prime value as measured by wins above average on a seasonal basis (roughly seasonal WAR minus 2, negative values treated as zero, and all the seasons summed), and peak quality as measured by 5x the player’s peak rate of WAR over a period of 5 or more consecutive seasons. For position players, I calculate each player’s score in bb-ref’s and fangraphs WAR and average the totals. I then make a career fielding adjustment based on DRA. For post-1950 players, I also make a small positional adjustment to replacement level: this raises 2B and SS relative to other positions. For pitchers, I calculate each player’s score using bb-ref’s WAR only. For all players, I give credit for playing time missed due to wars or labor actions, and I give minor-league credit when appropriate. For Negro-League players, I work with Eric Chalek’s MLEs, but not systematically. I integrate the decade-by-decade rankings by considering both the players’ raw scores their rank within their cohort, re-scaled to distribute all decades on a 30-point scale. (For example, for the 1880s I estimate that there should, based on number of teams and the size of the talent pool, be approximately 14.5 HoMers with careers centered in that decade. For the 2000s, I estimate that there should be around 30 HoMers, which is the largest cohort to date. I re-scale the ranks for the 1880s by multiplying the player’s rank within decade by 30/14.5. This approach matches the top-ranked players to the top ranked players and the borderline players to the borderline ones.) I give more attention to raw scores when comparing players of adjacent decades and re-scaled rank when comparing players from more than 20 years apart. I also make a variety of small subjective adjustments. There’s more information about the players than I can incorporate into a formula, and I think it’s better to be thorough.

This year is a “backlog” year, as all of the newly eligible land in among the players at the top of the ballot: no one stands out above the crowd. Developing a reasonable ranking has gotten very difficult. All of the eligible players that I see as meriting a spot in the HoM this year—about 30--rank in the bottom 20% of the Hall, and almost half of those rank in the bottom 10%. There are many players here separated by less than a season’s worth of value, so meaningful distinctions are almost impossible to draw. The line between that bottom 10% and a similar-sized group of players just outside the HoM range is also very small. I will list on my ballot this year the 15 players getting a vote, the next 15 players, whom I mainly see as Hall-worthy, and the next 30 players after that, whom I’d be comfortable seeing in a modestly enlarged HoM. Most of them are getting at least a few votes, and that’s not surprising.

The Elect-Me Slots

1. Kenny Lofton. (1990s. In-Decade Scaled Rank: 24). Strong but short peak and a long career as an above-average but not all-star level player at a prime defensive position is enough to top this backlog-year ballot.
2. Jeff Kent (2000s. In-Decade Scaled Rank: 23). Adding a replacement-level adjustment for second base moves Kent substantially upward in these closely-packed rankings. Slight downward adjustment for indications from WPA that he was a little bit less valuable than his context-neutral numbers suggest.
3. Buddy Bell (1980s. In-Decade Scaled Rank: 25.3). The replacement-level adjustment moves Bell down a little bit in my rankings, as I’ve concluded that modern 3B is slightly over-valued by both BWAR and FWAR. Bell was far enough above the in-out line that the adjustment doesn’t move him out of an elect-me spot on the ballot, but it does deprive him of the #1 spot.

The rest of the ballot.

4. Johan Santana (2000s. In-Decade Scaled Rank: 24). In context, I like him a little bit better than Koufax. Koufax’s peak was better—the best of his time—but the rest of his career was average at best. Santana was highly effective throughout his career, in addition to being the best pitcher in baseball during his peak. Because I evaluate players against their peers first, and then across generations, I see the lower IP totals of contemporary pitchers as not placing them behind pitchers of earlier eras. Their value per inning is higher, so their rate values are better, and their contemporary position players are not putting up as much WAR either, as rising competition levels make it harder and harder to dominate the game.
5. Kevin Appier (1990s. In-Decade Scaled Rank: 25.6). Very similar to Santana. He threw more innings during his peak seasons, was a bit less effective outside of his peak seasons than Santana but threw more innings, and stood out less against his contemporaries because his peak coincided with the prime of Clemens and the peak of Maddux. Tough competition. I see Appier as significantly undervalued by the electorate.
6. Bobby Abreu (2000s. In-Decade Scaled Rank: 25). Complete player with an extended prime.
7. Bobby Bonds (1970s. In-Decade Scaled Rank: 28.2). Complete player with a fine prime but short career. Reevaluating third basemen moved him up relative to his peers (Bando), and I see him as highly comparable to Abreu. At his best, Bonds was the better all-around player, very near the top of his league, but Abreu accomplished a bit more over his career.
8. Sammy Sosa (1990s. In-Decade Scaled Rank: 26.7). More of a one-dimensional player than Abreu and Bonds, but 609 home runs, and he was good, if not great, at other aspects of the game as well. Like Kent, I’ve lowered him a bit due to WPA considerations, but I think the significance of his low “clutch” score is overblown. I’ve looked closely at the top power hitters, and they almost always are negative by this measure, while top contact hitters are almost invariably positive. Sosa is also disadvantaged a bit in WPA assessments by not playing on many good teams, which reduced his opportunities. He was probably the weakest situational hitter of the game’s 600 HR hitters (Jim Thome gives him a run for that distinction), which is why he hasn’t been elected yet, but he still had a great peak and merits election sooner rather than later.
9. Tim Hudson (2000s. In-Decade Scaled Rank 26). Hudson’s well-rounded game places him a bit above Mark Buerhle and Andy Pettitte in the rankings. He’s not going to speed to election, but as the post-2000 pitching conditions get more thoroughly calibrated by the electorate, he looks well-positioned to rise to election. He moved up a bit from my preliminary ballot relative to his contemporary first-basemen and outfielders.
10. Art Fletcher (1910s. In-Decade Scaled Rank 25.3). The relatively unknown Fletcher is my top-ranked unelected player from the pre-WWII period. He was an outstanding defensive shortstop and solid hitter in the depths of the slightly under-represented Deadball era, the only under-represented era prior to 1970.
11. Chuck Finley (1990s. In-Decade Scaled Rank 27.8). I am finally following my numbers and moving Finley onto my ballot. Largely overlooked because he lacked a great consecutive peak, he scattered three great years across a very solid prime. In context, very comparable to Vic Willis, but from a decade that is not yet fully represented in the Hall of Merit.
12. Brian Giles (2000s. In-Decade Scaled Rank 27). My system likes him a little bit better than Lance Berkman, who has been getting somewhat more attention from the electorate, because of his stronger consecutive peak and higher defensive value. I’m not sure why Giles is so far under the radar. Will he become the Bob Johnson of the 20-aughts?
13. Ben Taylor (1910s. In-Decade scaled rank 26.8). Some uncertainties about his value that I’d like to examine further, but he’s a strong player from a era and a position in that era not well represented, so I see him as more likely to be a worthy choice than any other near-contemporaries.
14. Thurman Munson (1970s. In-Decade scaled rank 30.6). Top catcher in my rankings. Being a player from an under-represented position in a not-overrepresented era brings Munson onto my ballot.
15. Bucky Walters (1940s. In-Decade scaled rank 29.2). This may be the first time I have voted for Walters in about 70 elections. When I revisited the 1940s and 1950s this year, I found that pitchers were pretty thinly represented from the 1940s—the war appears to have been especially hard on them. Walters pitched through the war, had an excellent peak, and just enough value outside it (helped, like a surprising number of top pitchers from this period, by his hitting) to move over the historic in-out line. The HoM doesn’t need another player from this period, but it’s not over-represented, either, so Walters is a slightly better choice to round out the ballot than any of the half-dozen other pitchers sitting right on the historic in-out line.
   605. Chris Cobb Posted: January 06, 2021 at 10:11 PM (#5997831)
Off Ballot, but very close in value to on-ballot candidates

16. Jason Giambi (2000s. In-Decade scaled rank 28).
17. Sal Bando. (1970s. In-Decade scaled rank 29.4). Re-evaluation of third base replacement levels drops Bando a little bit; still merits election, but farther back in line as we dig into the backlog.
18. Orel Hershiser (1980s. In-Decade scaled rank 30). Grabbed the #15 spot last year, when I put him up over Chuck Finley in direct comparison. This year, with a broader look at the pitchers on the borderline, I decided I had been undervaluing Finley a bit, so Hershiser drops slightly.
19. John Olerud (1990s. In-Decade scaled rank 29.5). Very different player from Giambi, but the next first baseman in line.
20. Bert Campaneris (1970s. In-Decade scaled rank 31.8). Re-evaluation of shortstop replacement levels brings Campaneris more firmly into contention for a ballot spot. Changes close most but not all of the distance between him and Bando/Munson, while moving him past Cedeno, Perez, John, and Cey in the 1970s rankings.
21. Mark Buerhle (2000s. In-Decade scaled rank 30.5). Would love to see him elected, but he’s right on the cusp of the all-time in-out line. May get traction as his durability shows better.
22. Robin Ventura (1990s. In-Decade scaled rank 30.6). Also slides down a bit with re-evaluation of third base. On the cusp of the all-time in-out line, but with no on-ballot presence, he seems unlikely to gain traction, but things change.
23. Lance Berkman (2000s. In-Decade scaled rank 29.5). May deserve to rank higher, but there’s no shortage of first basemen/left fielders from the 1990s and 2000s.

Off-Ballot, usually with a story

24. Phil Rizzuto (1940s. In-Decade scaled rank 31.6). Without the malaria year in 1946, he would probably rank above Bucky Walters.
25. Tony Phillips (1990s. In-Decade scaled rank 31.6). If elected, would be the second HoMer whom I classify as by position as UT. That designation fits him better than Pete Rose. He’s a player I want to research more. Loss of playing time (perhaps due to injury?) early in his career costs him significantly by damping the front end of his prime.
26. Ned Williamson (1880s. In-Decade scaled rank 26.9). Best third baseman of nineteenth century, but he was great during easiest time for players to dominate in the history of major-league baseball, and we’ve already taken more from this period than we should. Tragic early death likely fueled (as was his rapid decline) by alcohol addiction.
27. Vic Willis (1900s. In-Decade scaled rank 26.5). A bit above the borderline in a well-represented decade that was very favorable for pitchers. In a tight group with Waddell and McGinnity—my system sees him as a little behind both, but clearly better than the elected Brown. There’s some concern that he was less successful than his run-support should have enabled, but that’s a conclusion from an earlier analytical era that may well not stand up to more informed scrutiny.
28. Urban Shocker (1920s. In-Decade scaled rank 27.1). If electorate 15 years ago had been voting based on the current metrics, Shocker would probably have been elected, and Eppa Rixey would probably not have been elected. Now we have to deal with the fact that putting Shocker in means leaving out a deserving candidate from later eras. If Shocker hadn’t had a fatal heart condition and had lived to pitch longer, he’d have been elected easily, like Stan Coveleski. He was good! However, he had a unusual competitive advantage in being allowed to throw a high-value pitch—the spitball—that was denied to most other pitchers. If he were elected, the ML pitchers from the 1920s would be 50% grand-fathered spitballers: Coveleski, Faber, and Shocker (the others being Alexander, Vance, and Rixey, as I divide the decades).
29. Jim Fregosi (1960s. In-Decade scaled rank 31.5). Replacement level adjustment brings Fregosi into a low borderline position in my rankings for the first time. My system prefers him to Aparicio as the shortstop representative for the 1960s. Like Nomar Garciaparra 35 years later, he was on clear HoM trajectory until his body fell apart at age 29. It looks like Fregosi might have taken better care of himself, but being finished around 30 seems like a thing that happens to some top shortstops.
30. Don Newcombe (1950s. In-decade scaled rank 31.7). Lost a couple of big-league seasons at the beginning of his career to segregation that was rolling back only slowly; lost a couple of seasons to military service; may have lost the later part of his career to alcoholism (not unrelated to racism and possibly to military service). Needs minor-league credit and war credit to get here. Like Rizzuto, his first year back after his stint in the military was poor. Were there lingering physical/mental issues? If he’d returned the way Willie Mays returned, his case would be a lot stronger.
31. Nomar Garciaparra (2000s. In-decade scaled rank 33.5). Like Jim Fregosi, but in Nomar’s case he was undone mainly by injury. Their stories make me wonder if I should have a more peak-heavy system. Both were greater impact players in their time than a number of players who rank above them. Would they be better picks for that reason?

The “Back 29.” These players are farther away, but they are mainly as close to the in-out line from below as the top candidates this year are to the in-out line from above. For the most part, I have rank-ordered all of the unelected players whose scaled in-decade rank is 36 or lower. I’ve included a few more to round out the list as the overall “top 60.”

32. Jim McCormick (1880s. In-decade scaled rank 31.3). My system sees him as being right around in-out line, but 1880s pitchers are already well represented in the HoM. With the uncertainty involved in assessing their value, I don’t have a basis for advancing McCormick over any more recent pitchers whom my system sees as meriting election.
33. Jorge Posada (2000s. In-decade scaled rank 31.5). Poor defense leaves Posada just short. I hope we have better tools for assessing catcher defense solidified before too many more elections pass.
34. Willie Davis (1960s, In-decade scaled rank 32.9). Generally overlooked; nice to see him get a vote from Brent.
35. Chet Lemon (1980s. In-decade scaled rank 31.2). Generally overlooked; has he ever gotten a vote?
36. George Bancroft (1920s. In decade scaled ranking 32.9). A really fine peak. Loss of playing time due to injuries leaves him a bit short, though he still would have been a better choice than Joe Sewell, whose durability, duly overrated by Win Shares, helped secure his election.
37. Joe Tinker (1900s. In-decade scaled ranking 33.4). Outstanding defensive shortstop but a little short on offense.
38. Andy Pettitte (2000s. In-decade scaled rank 34.5). My system sees Pettitte as offering more bulk than brilliance in his career, so he is just below my in-out line. A couple of outstanding seasons, but generally he was a middle-of-rotation starter. He was a middle-of-rotation starter for a long time, so his career value is strong, but he lags significantly on peak measures. A factor here is his low seasonal innings-pitched totals. He and Mark Buerhle have similar career IP, and similar peak rates of effectiveness, but Buerhle was consistently an IP leader, and Pettitte hardly ever was, so Buerhle’s prime was stronger. Those who give post-season credit rightly advantage Pettitte somewhat for that; I don’t, so that’s not a factor for him.
39. Roy Oswalt (2000s. In-decade scaled rank 35.5). He was a really good pitcher, but falls just short of the Santana-esque peak and farther short of the Hudson-esque career that are needed to get over the line. These guys are all so similar in value, a slightly different line of analysis could readily justify putting Oswalt on the ballot.
40. Tommy Bond (1870s. In-decade scaled rank 34.3). Unquestionably the best pitcher in major-league baseball in 1878 and 1879 as part of an outstanding run from 1875-79. Unfortunately, that’s absolutely all the value he has in his career. His peak is strong enough for a reasonable case to be made for his election, but the uncertainties are huge.
41. Frank Chance (1900s. In-decade scaled ranking 36.2). HoM-quality when he was on the field, but not enough playing time to merit election. Even peak voters have never mounted a case for him b/c he missed too much time to rack up huge single-season WAR totals. It’s by rate that he is among the best of his time.
42. Wally Schang (1920s. In-decade scaled ranking 34.4). Lack of peak, presence of NeL elected contemporary catchers Santop and Mackey, and plentiful representation of 1920s decade overall keep Schang well away from my ballot. I don’t feel an urgency on a representational basis to bring Schang forward, and his numbers, when he is in receipt of my standard catching bonuses, place him about here. He was, compared to the average player, an outstanding ballplayer, but I’d need a bigger Hall of Merit to have a place for him.
43. Johnny Pesky (1940s. In-Decade scaled rank 30.) My system finds Pesky ever so slightly ahead of Rizzuto, but I rank Rizzuto higher b/c his 1946 malaria season affects his three years of war credit, while Pesky bookended his war years with his two best seasons. I am not entirely comfortable projecting a player with more top seasons via war credit than they actually had in their playing careers, so Pesky gets a lower spot in the balloting list.
44. Dwight Gooden (1980s. In-decade scaled rank 32.4).
45. Cesar Cedeno (1970s. In-decade scaled rank 33.1)
46. Bernie Williams (1990s. In-decade scaled rank 33.8)
47. Marvin Williams (1950s. In-decade scaled rank 33.3). Included here mainly on reputation. I hope to make the NeL stars of the 1940s and their transition into “organized” baseball in the 1950s a focus of my analysis for 2022.
48. Hurley McNair (1920s. In-decade scaled rank 35.9)
49. Tommy John (1970s. In-decade scaled rank 34.3)
50. Fred McGriff (1990s. In-decade scaled rank 34.9)
51. Tony Perez (1970s. In-decade scaled rank 35.5)
52. Bob Johnson (1930s. In-decade scaled rank 36.6)
53. George Uhle (1920s. In-decade scaled rank 31.5)
54. Harry Hooper (1910s. In-decade scaled rank 33.2)
56. Norm Cash (1960s. In-decade scaled rank 34.4)
56. Schoolboy Rowe (1940s. Scaled in-decade rank 34.7). First time I’ve had him in my rankings. His career was one of the most fascinating discoveries from my review this year of the 1940s and 1950s major-league candidates. A great talent and a brilliant pitching intelligence, but not enough healthy innings in his arm to have a Hall of Merit career.
57. Rudy Rucker (1910s. In-decade scaled rank 34.7)
58. Vada Pinson (1960s. In-decade ranking 35.9)
59. Ron Cey (1970s. In-decade scaled rank 36.7)
60. Ted Breitenstein (1890s, In-decade ranking 36.2)
   606. Brent Posted: January 06, 2021 at 10:27 PM (#5997834)
Thank you, Bleed the Freak. I don't think my system is especially biased in favor of outfielders. I've five guys who really seem to me much better qualified than the rest of the backlog, and it happens that on this year's ballot four of them are outfielders and one is a pitcher. After those top few, the positions tend to be much more evenly mixed. For example, for rankings # 6 through 25 I have 7 infielders, 6 outfielders, 6 pitchers, and 1 catcher. While there's not really much difference between Cedeño and Hudson is my rankings, I don't think I'd like to start moving candidates up or down to get positional balance in my top 15.
   607. DL from MN Posted: January 06, 2021 at 10:39 PM (#5997837)
36. George Bancroft (1920s. In decade scaled ranking 32.9)


Isn't it Dave Bancroft?
   608. Bleed the Freak Posted: January 06, 2021 at 10:54 PM (#5997839)
  606. Brent Posted: January 06, 2021 at 10:27 PM (#5997834)
Thank you, Bleed the Freak. I don't think my system is especially biased in favor of outfielders. I've five guys who really seem to me much better qualified than the rest of the backlog, and it happens that on this year's ballot four of them are outfielders and one is a pitcher. After those top few, the positions tend to be much more evenly mixed. For example, for rankings # 6 through 25 I have 7 infielders, 6 outfielders, 6 pitchers, and 1 catcher. While there's not really much difference between Cedeño and Hudson is my rankings, I don't think I'd like to start moving candidates up or down to get positional balance in my top 15.


Good explanation, thanks Brent.
   609. Bleed the Freak Posted: January 06, 2021 at 10:56 PM (#5997840)
605. Chris Cobb Posted: January 06, 2021 at 10:11 PM (#5997831)

36. George Bancroft (1920s. In decade scaled ranking 32.9). A really fine peak. Loss of playing time due to injuries leaves him a bit short, though he still would have been a better choice than Joe Sewell, whose durability, duly overrated by Win Shares, helped secure his election.

38. Andy Pettitte (2000s. In-decade scaled rank 34.5). My system sees Pettitte as offering more bulk than brilliance in his career, so he is just below my in-out line. A couple of outstanding seasons, but generally he was a middle-of-rotation starter. He was a middle-of-rotation starter for a long time, so his career value is strong, but he lags significantly on peak measures. A factor here is his low seasonal innings-pitched totals. He and Mark Buerhle have similar career IP, and similar peak rates of effectiveness, but Buerhle was consistently an IP leader, and Pettitte hardly ever was, so Buerhle’s prime was stronger. Those who give post-season credit rightly advantage Pettitte somewhat for that; I don’t, so that’s not a factor for him.

57. Rudy Rucker (1910s. In-decade scaled rank 34.7)


Like DL mentions, probably Dave Bancroft, then Nap Rucker.

Besides this, great post, you explain your positions the most adequately and succinctly of anyone here, much appreciated and awesome to have you back!!

Would you consider post-season credit for Pettitte?
I understand passing on position players, but the thought of pitchers only having so many bullets, Andy threw 276 higher stress innings at his career rate against quality competition.

Also, for all, Pettitte's case gets the added wrinkle of all-time bad long-term defense from Jeter, Posada, and the OF stone gloves. Andy looks meh by Baseball-Reference, better by Baseball Gauge, and an easy yes with Fangraphs and Kiko's stats, how you see his team defense has a major impact on his case.
   610. Chris Cobb Posted: January 06, 2021 at 11:03 PM (#5997841)
Sorry about the wrong names. I had a goal of getting my ballot in a day before the deadline, but there were a few distractions today . . .
   611. Chris Cobb Posted: January 06, 2021 at 11:58 PM (#5997844)
Thanks also for the kind words about the ballot write-ups. I enjoy the process of trying to see each player clearly in relation to others that goes into the write-ups. The process of doing that often leads me to fine-tuning changes on the ballot.

Re Pettitte:

Post-season credit is a can of worms I don't plan on opening up. I really can't just make an exception for Pettitte. It took me just a minute of examining my ballot to find another pitcher who would totally deserves post-season credit if Pettitte does. Orel Hershiser has 132 innings of 2.59 ERA post-season pitching (vs. career 3.48), 2.83 WPA (vs. 3.51 for Pettitte in twice as many innings), 3 series MVP awards, including the 1988 WS. I already have him ranked ahead of Pettitte -- I can't very well justify moving Pettitte ahead of him on the basis of post-season credit without giving post-season credit to Hershiser, too, who then probably stays ahead of Pettitte. Do they both deserve to move up against players who didn't have post-season opportunities? It's a can of worms. Maybe I made a lucky pick in homing in on Hershiser, who may be the best post-season pitcher of his generation, but I'd still have to make a systemic change to incorporate post-season credit fairly. I don't think it adds enough value to the assessment process to be worth the trouble.

I've looked at the impact of defense on Pettitte, comparing him to other Yankee starters and comparing his time in New York to his time in Houston, and as far as I can see, bWAR captures the impact of the defense appropriately. I don't see FIP-based metrics as meaningful for post-hoc evaluation of pitchers, so I don't put any weight on pitching fWAR. Kiko's system is interesting, but I am by no means convinced that contextual measures of value are better than context-neutralizing measures of value, nor do I agree with his handling of the division of responsibility between pitchers and fielders. I incorporate DRA as provided by Baseball Gauge as an adjustment to my player rankings, but I don't know nearly enough about how gWAR is put together to use it.

I'll continue thinking about Pettitte, as I certainly have him lower than a number of voters do, and he's likely to continue to be a leading candidate for the next few years.
   612. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: January 07, 2021 at 12:04 AM (#5997846)
Post-season credit is a can of worms I don't plan on opening up. I really can't just make an exception for Pettitte. It took me just a minute of examining my ballot to find another pitcher who would totally deserves post-season credit if Pettitte does. Orel Hershiser has 132 innings of 2.59 ERA post-season pitching (vs. career 3.48), 2.83 WPA (vs. 3.51 for Pettitte in twice as many innings), 3 series MVP awards, including the 1988 WS.

Hershiser is actually an excellent example of Bleed's point in 609. Including the postseason, he threw over 300 innings in 1988; his shoulder blew up in 1990, and while he recovered to pitch pretty regularly for a decade after that, he never got back to his peak in either rate or endurance after the injury.
   613. progrockfan Posted: January 07, 2021 at 07:47 AM (#5997859)
Here's a question for the doyens of this site - something I've been thinking about for a while:

I don't boycott for steroids. Ymmv, but I think it's silly; we have no idea who was truly clean in the pre-testing era.

But I do knock my evaluation of players down for definite knowledge (Bonds) or strong, supportable suspicion (Sosa) of steroid use.

Take Bonds: An all-time great by any definition. His raw levels of accomplishment on offense and defense should place him first among all-time leftfielders. But would he have hit 73, or drawn 232 walks, or slugged .863, without needles in his butt? I tend to doubt it. Therefore, in my personal evaluations, I rank Musial as the greatest leftfielder, with WIlliams second and Bonds third. (As a side note, isn't it interesting that Barry's father was a truly excellent, All-Star outfielder, but when we say "Bonds" there's no question about who we mean?)

A significant factor in my low ranking of Sosa is strongly suspected steroid use. I'm not boycotting him; if Clemens, say, were debuting on this ballot, he'd rank #1 for me, steroids or no. But Sosa, while he had OK basepath speed and put up a few decent defensive years in right for the Cubs, was essentially a one-dimensional player - and that one dimension is highly suspect in my mind. All five of his great power-hitting seasons were bunched together, 1998-2002, and in 2003 he (apparently) tested positive - whereupon he (apparently) changed his behavior - whereupon the great power-hitting juddered to an immediate halt. Also, the corked bat, to me, indicates a player who'll do what he needs to, irrespectice of what the rule book might say, to put up big numbers. Significantly, Sosa's defense before Congress was that "I have been tested as recently as 2004, and I am clean." (As I said earlier in this thread, I consider all available evidence pertaining to each eligible payer.)

That's why he doesn't make my ballot. I don't rank him among the top 50 rightfielders of all time.

What does the electorate think about this? Is it constitutional? I genuinely want to know. I could just keep my mouth shut and continue to downgrade Sosa for my own private reasons, but I'd rather cleave to the rules, and to the founding spirit of this wonderful place.
   614. Howie Menckel Posted: January 07, 2021 at 09:41 AM (#5997866)
I'm no expert, but your downgrade may not be constitutional. we're looking at what he DID on the field - however he did it.

and I am not particularly a fan of that career, btw. but I'm not that interested in speculating on "who did" and "who didn't" and "exactly when did they do it."
   615. Howie Menckel Posted: January 07, 2021 at 09:42 AM (#5997867)
I'm no expert, but your downgrade may not be constitutional. we're looking at what he DID on the field - however he did it.

and I am not particularly a fan of that career, btw. but I'm not that interested in speculating on "who did" and "who didn't" and "exactly when did they do it."
   616. Chris Cobb Posted: January 07, 2021 at 10:22 AM (#5997877)
I'm not an expert either, but my sense agrees with Howie's.

The guidance at the head of the ballot thread says, You do need to stick to what happened on the field. It's not part of our purview to evaluate means and motives, and so applying a discount to on the field accomplishment based on evaluations of off-the-field actions that contributed to those accomplishments is now allowed. The only case where discounting for means and motives is permitted is with respect to throwing games, because that undermines the value of players' on-the-field accomplishments.

   617. bachslunch Posted: January 07, 2021 at 10:28 AM (#5997880)
As I understand it, imposing penalties on HoM candidates is absolutely forbidden after the first eligible year. There's no character clause in the HoM, and everyone from steroid users, gamblers on MLB, game fixers, greenie poppers, illegal pitch artists, those who undermined minority MLB participation, and other all-around reprobates are enshrined. You have to go on stat-based merit from then on, no matter where it takes you.

I have used the first year boycott on IRod and Pettitte, will do so for Big Papi and ARod and Robinson Cano, and would have done so for Rafael Palmeiro, Pete Rose, Cap Anson, Enos Slaughter, Manny Ramirez, all of the Black Sox game fixers, Tris Speaker, and Ty Cobb (the last two for game fixing). But after that first year, they get considered like anyone else, and at the level of play they achieved, no matter what.

As I understand it, a number of voters dropped out of voting for the HoM in protest when Mark McGwire was inducted and haven't been back. So be it.
   618. Al Peterson Posted: January 07, 2021 at 04:12 PM (#5998035)
As I understand it, a number of voters dropped out of voting for the HoM in protest when Mark McGwire was inducted and haven't been back. So be it.


I don't remember people getting worked up about a McGwire election. He was hardly the first year boycott trial balloon, the group had been down that road many times with many players. The drop in voters after his election was timing - McGwire was in the 2007 election class. 2007 was when the HOM timeline caught up with real life timeline - looks to be results posted in November 2007. HOM 2008 election was December 2007, then after that elections starting coming only on a yearly basis. You lose the voter momentum and motivation - life happens.
   619. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: January 07, 2021 at 04:51 PM (#5998055)
Hi there. I can't currently post in the ballot thread.

Can I request a 1 hour deadline extension? (Not because of that, I'm just running late.)

Thanks.
   620. DL from MN Posted: January 07, 2021 at 05:00 PM (#5998062)
I'm going to try to copy over prelims that didn't get to the main page but it may take a while
   621. DL from MN Posted: January 07, 2021 at 05:30 PM (#5998075)
I found Yardape's prelim and copied to the ballot thread. The only other one that could be copied over is from epoc. That user hasn't commented here in months.
   622. DL from MN Posted: January 07, 2021 at 09:27 PM (#5998131)
Thanks to all the counters. rwargo's count matches Michael Mengel. I didn't open the other 4 (thanks to everyone for keeping track though). I guess I should be more specific about counting next time.
   623. kcgard2 Posted: January 07, 2021 at 09:54 PM (#5998142)
prog (#613): no, downgrading players for steroid use (or suspicion) is not constitutional. The only allowed penalty for that is a 1st year boycott, after which the player is supposed to be graded only on-field contributions, regardless of "extra-curriculars."
   624. kcgard2 Posted: January 07, 2021 at 10:06 PM (#5998152)
FWIW, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Pete Rose, and Cap Anson actually suffered election delays because of first-year boycotts. I feel like there may have been one more player, but that's all I can remember. Also, FWIW, Al Peterson is largely right. Very few voters if anyone actually dropped out of the project due to backlash over the induction of steroid users. At least, if that was the reason voters stepped away, they didn't announce it as such. A number of voters didn't like it, but almost all the voters ended up abiding by the constitution and voting for steroid guys if their on-field merit was good enough.

To this point, I feel pretty confident you are not the only one who is dinging Sosa for steroids and other baggage, prog. You are absolutely right that you could simply stay quiet about it and not place him on your ballots, and offer minimal or no commentary about it, and no one could really prove your ranking has to do with the other stuff. If anybody here has never gone looking for justifications to move a guy even a bit up or down from where your best guess of merit says he should be, raise your hand! Sometimes it is hard to ignore that way of thinking. But we're supposed to do our best.
   625. kcgard2 Posted: January 07, 2021 at 10:17 PM (#5998156)
Like Howie, and you, I'm also as a baseball fan not a fan of Sosa, and I think two years ago had him off ballot and last year end of ballot. Being not a slam dunk case, the justifications are out there, certainly. But when I revised my system more fairly, and Sosa jumped near the top, I put him on my ballot where his merit is in my view, because I'm trying to follow the guidelines.

Long way of saying, I get the desire to find ways to dock guys (or find extra credit in the opposite kinds of cases). Every single year I have to fight the urge to go find some kind of extra credit for Tommy John. Because damn the numbers, I just know he's more worthy than this, somehow. Maybe I shouldn't say that, because it spins bad for Tommy John, I really do have him where I think his merit is! XD
   626. Chris Cobb Posted: January 07, 2021 at 10:47 PM (#5998163)
kcgard, thanks for those very fair-minded comments about the challenges of keeping our own rankings fair according to the rules and the spirit of the HoM!

I agree that Sosa is a tough case in this respect. He's in the borderline group, so small adjustments have a significant impact on his electability, and he was a player with some obvious holes in his game that create openings for docking him for the voter who is inclined to do so.

I appreciate progrockfan's putting the question out there, too!
   627. Bleed the Freak Posted: January 07, 2021 at 11:03 PM (#5998170)
Every single year I have to fight the urge to go find some kind of extra credit for Tommy John. Because damn the numbers, I just know he's more worthy than this, somehow. Maybe I shouldn't say that, because it spins bad for Tommy John, I really do have him where I think his merit is! XD


John's an extreme candidate, he looks bad by Baseball-Reference, even worse by Baseball Gauge, but excellent at Fangraphs and Kiko's W-L records. Maybe FIP and Kiko are picking up on a skill John possessed that doesn't show in RA-9 type of WARs. He was quite successful in the post-season and was clutchy compared to normal situations too. A divisive candidate that I support, you can too : )
   628. Bleed the Freak Posted: January 07, 2021 at 11:11 PM (#5998171)
11.Ned Williamson (125.27). (Sorry, I have to do it). Yes, he was better than Ezra. Best third baseman pre-1893. Eight seasons above 2 mWAA, with three above 5 mWAA.


I was desperately wanting a good pun, well done Michael.

Can you share your 16-30 and or your eligible above your Hall line, please and thanks, appreciate your detailed explanations!

   629. Bleed the Freak Posted: January 07, 2021 at 11:21 PM (#5998173)
8. Tommy Leach (10) Doesn’t do great by WAR, although a lot of the other 3B candidates are in the hard-to-differentiate 70s clump. Excellent fielder at important positions, OK hitter. One of the most complete players on the ballot. Made my PHoM in 1940.


Devin, he's well off the radar as you mention with Baseball-Reference WAR, but he's a great candidate with DRA/Baseball Gauge WAR, and he was borderline with Dan R's studies BAAAAAAAAAACK in the day.



   630. Chris Cobb Posted: January 08, 2021 at 12:24 AM (#5998186)
Bleed the Freak wrote, re Tommy John:

Maybe FIP and Kiko are picking up on a skill John possessed that doesn't show in RA-9 type of WARs.

Since FIP looks at less information than an RA/9 WAR does (intentionally ignoring what happens on balls in play), I think the more likely explanation is that they are not picking up on information about John's performance that a measure that starts with RA/9 and then adjusts for contributing factors. Most of the extra WAR that FIP gives to John that RA/9 WAR doesn't comes from balls in play. FIP assumes that pitchers don't control what happens on balls in play, so FWAR fills in the gap in scoring information created when balls in play are omitted by assuming average outcomes on bip. Any worse outcomes than average are assumed to be either fielders' responsibility or luck. John's RA/9 is about 10 wins worse on bip than his FIP with average results would be, so FWAR gives back all those wins to John: it erases any responsibility he might have had for what happens on balls in play.

Given that we know that John was a sinkerball pitcher, and that sinkerball pitchers give up more groundballs than average pitchers because groundballs become hits at greater rates than flyballs do (when they don't leave the ballpark), it stands to reason that a sinkerball pitcher is likely to give back some of the runs they save by keeping the ball in the park (which FIP credits them for) on the outcome of balls in play.

Now, maybe John got bad outcomes because his pitched in front of bad defenses. In that case, the extra BIP runs wouldn't be on him. But BWAR finds that, over the course of his career, he pitched in front of defenses that were average, overall, so it gives responsibility for the deviation from average fielding outcomes back to John. Given the type of pitcher that John was, that seems an eminently reasonable step to me.

If I recall correctly, Kiko's system agrees with FIP that a lot of what happens on balls in play is luck -- out of the control of both the pitcher and the fielders, so he splits responsibility evenly between the pitchers and the fielders and leaves it at that. It's not an unreasonable generalization, but if there is reason, as there is in John's case, to expect that the pitcher's approach is going to result in an increase in base hits on balls in play, then splitting the difference between fielders and pitchers is again going to shift responsibility away from John that is rightfully his. Kiko's system also places a lot of emphasis on the value of power, so I would hypothesize that pitcher suppression of home runs is also given heavy emphasis, although I don't recall any statement to that effect that he has made. Therefore, it again stands to reason that a system that moves responsibility for what happens on balls in play away from the pitcher while giving the pitcher full credit for suppressing home runs will systematically favor (I might say overrate) a pitcher of John's type.

Of course, giving up more ground balls to avoid giving up more home runs is a sensible strategy, as long as the hits don't get out of hand. Tommy John was a very successful pitcher. However, analytical systems that zero out or reduce the impact of balls in play on such a pitcher's runs allowed are going to overrate that pitcher's accomplishments. I am certain that's what happening with FWAR, and I suspect it may be a factor in Kiko's system, although I also acknowledge that Kiko's system could be picking up on situational leverage factors where John excelled that a context-neutral WAR system will not consider. John's WPA is 6.5 wins higher than his pitching wins above average, so if you credit those wins to John and not to situational luck, then that would be evidence that he is better than he appears by BWAR. That's where one might look for further evidence of a skill. I'd want to know more than I do about WPA for pitchers before I put weight on that number myself.

   631. kwarren Posted: January 08, 2021 at 01:24 AM (#5998206)
A significant factor in my low ranking of Sosa is strongly suspected steroid use. I'm not boycotting him; if Clemens, say, were debuting on this ballot, he'd rank #1 for me, steroids or no. But Sosa, while he had OK basepath speed and put up a few decent defensive years in right for the Cubs, was essentially a one-dimensional player - and that one dimension is highly suspect in my mind. All five of his great power-hitting seasons were bunched together, 1998-2002, and in 2003 he (apparently) tested positive - whereupon he (apparently) changed his behavior - whereupon the great power-hitting juddered to an immediate halt. Also, the corked bat, to me, indicates a player who'll do what he needs to, irrespectice of what the rule book might say, to put up big numbers. Significantly, Sosa's defense before Congress was that "I have been tested as recently as 2004, and I am clean." (As I said earlier in this thread, I consider all available evidence pertaining to each eligible payer.)

That's why he doesn't make my ballot. I don't rank him among the top 50 rightfielders of all time. It seems that this claim can only be substantiated by severely downgrading him for his off the field defects, including suspected steroid usage.

What does the electorate think about this? Is it constitutional? I genuinely want to know. I could just keep my mouth shut and continue to downgrade Sosa for my own private reasons, but I'd rather cleave to the rules, and to the founding spirit of this wonderful place.


Downgrading a players ranking because of steroid usage, whether suspected or proven, is not allowed after a players first year on the ballot. That is why I am a little concerned about your claim that he is not among the top 50 right fielders of all time.

Here is his ranking in various categories:

Total WAR - 22
WAR7 - 13
JAWS - 18
oWAR - 29
WAA - 21
MVP Share - 14
WAR Share - 28
Hits - 25
HR - 3
RBI - 9
PA - 22

In terms of dWAR he is very highly ranked. Among the top 40 right fielders he ranks 6th in defense behind only Roberto Clemente, Ichiro Suzuki, Reggie Smith, Al Kaline, & Larry Walker in that order. This is something that really surprised me and I don't think he gets much credit for. From 1991 to 1997 his defense was truly superb

In terms of overall value the three ahead of him are Dwight Evans, Ichiro Suzuki, & Reggie Smith and the three right behind him are Dave Winfield, Bobby Abreu, & Vlad Guerrero.

He would not be out of place at all in the Hall of Merit, but might seem like a bizarre omission if he were not inducted.
   632. DL from MN Posted: January 08, 2021 at 08:55 AM (#5998224)
Downgrading a players ranking because of steroid usage, whether suspected or proven, is not allowed after a players first year on the ballot.


Andy Pettitte just climbed from 18th to 6th and that might be part of the reason.
   633. Chris Cobb Posted: January 08, 2021 at 09:58 AM (#5998237)
Andy Pettitte just climbed from 18th to 6th and that might be part of the reason.

His number of votes doubled, from 9 to 18. A quick review of the ballots suggests that boycott expiration might account for half of that shift.

Of the 9 voters who had Pettitte on the ballot in 2020, the 8 who voted again in 2021 returned him to the ballot, unsurprsingly.

Of the 10 voters that Pettitte picked up in 2021, 2 had not voted in 2020.

Of the 8 new votes from returning voters that Pettitte received in 2021, 5 of these were in the last four ballot spots, which could be explained by Pettitte simply moving up in a backlog year, so they are not, on their face, evidence of a boycott. One of the voters in question has recently expressed concern about steroids, so it is more likely that a boycott was a factor in this case, although Pettitte might not have made that ballot even without a boycott factor.

3 of the new votes from returning voters placed Pettitte in the middle of the ballot, at positions 8, 8, and 10. This change could be accounted for by system revision or by a re-evaluation of Pettitte specifically, but they are, on their face, suggestive of a boycott.

I didn't go back to re-read everybody's comments to see if they indicated boycott or not -- I was more curious about what might be deduced from the numbers. The evidence from the ballots suggests that boycotts might have cost Pettitte around 4 votes worth around 40 points, which would have cost him about 4 places in the rankings.

Overall, it looks like Pettitte moved up 4 spots because of clearing on the ballot ahead of him, 4 spots from the end of the boycott, 4 spots from gaining 4 votes at the bottom of the ballot, 1 spot from netting a vote due to voter churn, and 1 spot from other factors or general noise.

The boycott looks like it was a larger factor than I would have guessed before looking, but it was only one of several significant factors in Pettitte's surge upwards.
   634. bachslunch Posted: January 08, 2021 at 10:32 AM (#5998246)
I boycotted Pettitte his first year eligible. He still doesn't make my ballot, though he's in my top 40 pipeline.

As of today, I rank him 21st. I've got pitchers McCormick, Willis, John, Welch, and Shocker ahead of him, and all will be on my next ballot. Right now, I have Lazzeri, Tinker, Bonds, Olerud, and Fregosi at 16-20. Buehrle and Bridges are 22 and 23.

I'm boycotting ARod and Ortiz on the next ballot.
   635. bachslunch Posted: January 08, 2021 at 11:00 AM (#5998256)
Should also add that without the boycott, ARod would top my ballot easily. He's getting in without my help anyway.

Ortiz wouldn't make by ballot either way. I'm ranking him third for available 1B after the boycott, behind Taylor and Olerud, if he doesn't get in his first year. He'd rank 25th, between Cruz and Posada overall without a boycott for me this time.
   636. kwarren Posted: January 08, 2021 at 03:03 PM (#5998389)
For a sake of reference here is a comparison for Papi & Edgar


Papi Edgar

WAR - 55.3 68.4
WAR7 - 35.2 43.7
JAWS - 45.3 56.0
WAR/600 PA - 3.29 4.73
dWAR - (20.9) (9.0)
WAA - 20.2 38.5
MVP share - 2.95 1.01
WAR share - 0.50 1.20
PA 10,091 - 8,674
Hits - 2,472 2,247
HR - 541 309
RBI - 1,768 1,261
OBP - 0.380 0.418
OPS - 0.931 0.933
ISO - 0.266 0.203
OPS+ - 141.0 147.0

Annual WAR in descending order

Papi - 6.4 5.8 5.2 5.2 4.4 4.3 4.0 3.4 3.2 3.1
Edgar - 7.0 6.5 6.5 6.2 6.1 5.7 5.6 5.6 4.9 4.8

Papi's success in MVP voting is his biggest strength, and it will be key for Hall of Fame voters. I really don't think that the "steroid stench" will matter much at all to the majority of the voters, as hypocrit1cal as that might be. Hall of Merit balloting will likely be a lot more nuanced.

Really wish there was a way to make the numerical formatting look better.
   637. Rob_Wood Posted: January 08, 2021 at 03:37 PM (#5998400)
Some kind soul once explained how to make formatted tables on BTF via "pre" and "/pre" commands.

Here is a table that looks formatted when I type it but does not come out formatted when it is posted.

Willie Mays 420 1300
Frank Robinson 500 2000
Amos Otis 22 100

Here is the same table when I put {b}{pre} before table and {/pre}{/b} after table
where "{" should be replaced by "<" and "}" should be replaced by ">".
Willie Mays     420 1300
Frank Robinson  500 2000
Amos Otis        22  100

Hope that makes sense.
   638. Bleed the Freak Posted: January 08, 2021 at 03:38 PM (#5998401)
Papi - 6.4 5.8 5.2 5.2 4.4 4.3 4.0 3.4 3.2 3.1
Edgar - 7.0 6.5 6.5 6.2 6.1 5.7 5.6 5.6 4.9 4.8


For Papi, he has a case if you think the DH penalty is too stiff, if you don't, he'll end up short, even if you give significant playoff credit.

Kiko's stat is more favorable to power hitters and has a narrower defensive value spectrum, he does excellent here:
https://baseball.tomthress.com/StatTables/PlayerStats.php?id=ortid001&ex=1&w0=0.333333333333&w5=0&wl=0.333333333333&ws=0.333333333333&p0=0.333333333333&p1=0.333333333333&p2=0.333333333333
   639. Howie Menckel Posted: January 08, 2021 at 04:13 PM (#5998407)
BigPapi - 6.4 5.8 5.2 5.2 4.4 4.3 4.0 3.4 3.2 3.1
EdgarM - 7.0 6.5 6.5 6.2 6.1 5.7 5.6 5.6 4.9 4.8

often just playing with a letter or two makes it a LOT easier to look at (says the code-o-phobic)
   640. kwarren Posted: January 08, 2021 at 06:19 PM (#5998446)
Papi Edgar
   
WAR  55.3  68.4 
WAR7  35.2  43.7 
JAWS  45.3  56.0 
WAR/600 PA  3.29  4.73 
dWAR  (20.9) (9.0)
WAA  20.2  38.5 
MVP share  2.95  1.01 
WAR share  0.50  1.20 
PA  10,091  8,674 
Hits  2,472  2,247 
HR  541  309 
RBI  1,768  1,261 
OBP  0.380  0.418 
OPS  0.931  0.933 
ISO  0.266  0.203 
OPS+  141.0  147.0 
A little better !
   641. progrockfan Posted: January 08, 2021 at 07:35 PM (#5998463)
Here is [Sosa's] ranking in various categories:
Total WAR  22
WAR7       13
JAWS       18
oWAR       29
WAA        21
MVP Share  14
WAR Share  28
Hits       25
HR          9
RBI        18
PA         22
That's a good way of looking at the issue. Sosa does quite well in not just one, but in a variety of offensive statistical categories.

Hmm, I may have to grudgingly re-evaluate my 2022 ballot placement of Sosa.

Which raises interesting questions. For example:

I regard Abreu as much the greater all-around player: he's more durable, has much better plate discipline, and is a legitimate base-stealing threat at a profitable percentage - a scarce quality for someone with his extra-base power. But if I'm not discounting for off-the-field factors, can I justify ranking him over a top-10 guy in home runs who played the same position?

Hmmm... Sosa's slugging is quite a bit higher, 534 to .475, but Abreu's got the big edge in on-base, .395 to .344. Raw OPS favors Sosa, but only by 8 points - and as a GM, I'd consistently take a .395/.475 guy over a .344/.534 guy. Or to put it another way, despite the fact that they run dead even with a 128 OPS+, Abreu's a #3-type hitter, and Sosa's a #4- or even #5-type hitter.

Hmmmm... Having seen them both play a bunch of times, especially Sosa, I can tell you that the visuals favored Abreu as a sure-handed fielder - and the numbers seem to bear this out: Sosa led in RF errors 3 times, Abreu once, despite the fact that Abreu was consistenly playing more games in the field. They both had powerful arms. Surprisingly, despite the speed discrepancy on the basepaths, Sosa had more range, though Abreu's was decent (3 titles in putouts vs. 1, again despite Abreu fielding more games) - and I'll take range over sure-handedness any day of the week. 50 more putouts for the price of 3 more errors sounds good to me, and I'll bet it would sound good to my pitchers too. As Sosa leads in TZR titles four to one, I think I'm forced to conclude that Sosa was the greater fielder. The fact that Abreu won a Gold Glove and Sosa never did is assuredly down to your typical 'sluggers can't field' bias - the same reason Ripken never took home the truckload of Gold Gloves I always figured he deserved.

Hmmmmm... I'd still take Abreu over Sosa in an open draft, and I doubt I'd ever regret the choice. But does that logically translate to a higher ballot ranking for Abreu? Could I defend the choice against rigorous criticism?

I think I could, because in my view, Abreu's edges as an on-base machine and legitimate base-stealer top Sosa's edges in power and defense. Besides, Abreu could in fact hit for power and play defense at a well-above average level, whereas Sosa never really could get on base consistently - and when Sosa experienced his sudden accretion of power, and acquired the muscle-bound frame consequent to the, ahem, lifestyle choices he was making at that time, his once-acceptable basebath speed dribbled to a standstill (18/9 basestealing at age 29, 0/2 at age 31, as against Abreu's 22/9 and 31/9 at the same ages.)

So yeah, I think I can justify ranking Abreu over Sosa, which likely makes my elect-4 A-Rod - Easter - Abreu - Ortiz, with Sosa somewhere in the top ten. But thank goodness I've got a year to mull it over, and to hear y'all's comments on the question as well.
   642. Rob_Wood Posted: January 08, 2021 at 09:29 PM (#5998494)
from kwarren:
             Papi  Edgar
   
WAR          55.3   68.4 
WAR7         35.2   43.7 
JAWS         45.3   56.0 
WAR/600 PA   3.29   4.73 
dWAR        (20.9)  (9.0)
WAA          20.2   38.5 
MVP share    2.95   1.01 
WAR share    0.50   1.20 
PA         10,091  8,674 
Hits        2,472  2,247 
HR            541    309 
RBI         1,768  1,261 
OBP         0.380  0.418 
OPS         0.931  0.933 
ISO         0.266  0.203 
OPS+        141.0  147.0 

   643. kcgard2 Posted: January 08, 2021 at 10:29 PM (#5998513)
prog (#641): Sosa vs Abreu is a great comparison, at least in my opinion. In my own system I have them extremely close, but I also have Abreu ahead by a miniscule margin, so yes I do think that can be defensible. When weighting OBP vs SLG correctly, Abreu comes out ahead of Sosa 129 to 124 in wRC+. By both bWAR and fWAR (and WAA) they are as close as humanly possible for two players to be. It comes down to two things I think you can make the case for either one or the other: how much more do you weight peak than career (this will come down in favor of Sosa), how much if at all do you want to penalize unclutchness (this will come down in favor of Abreu). With all else being extremely close in the aggregate (I had Sosa ahead by a small amount because of the way I weight peak), a small deduction for Sosa's unclutchness left him just behind Abreu for me. Thus they were #4 and #5 on my ballot. I also think Bobby Bonds could join this discussion and be a third comparison point. They're all very close, in my estimation. Actually, HOM voters have their pick of half a dozen corner outfielders who are virtually interchangeable depending on how you prefer to weight various things right now.

Also, it makes me happy that you're going back to re-evaluate Sosa. Just because it makes me happy that voters show an open willingness to try and leave their biases behind. So, kudos, for whatever my kudos are worth.

bachslunch, et al: I'm not going to boycott A-Rod (or probably anyone), and Ortiz is going to be a very interesting case, I think. I have no idea how he will look in my rankings yet. I am going to guess he won't make my ballot, but I'm quite interested to find out how close (or not) he will be. Also interested to see what HOM voter opinion will be on him.
   644. kcgard2 Posted: January 08, 2021 at 10:31 PM (#5998514)
Also, can we get an official ruling on David Wright? It seems awfully clear that he should be eligible for 2022, also.
   645. Bleed the Freak Posted: January 08, 2021 at 11:02 PM (#5998527)
Ortiz is going to be a very interesting case, I think. I have no idea how he will look in my rankings yet. I am going to guess he won't make my ballot, but I'm quite interested to find out how close (or not) he will be. Also interested to see what HOM voter opinion will be on him.


How much is he being hurt by the level of DH penalty?
How much boost does he get for post-season excellence?

He's sitting #3/4 as I look at it today.
David Wright is interesting but off ballot.
   646. Rob_Wood Posted: January 08, 2021 at 11:18 PM (#5998533)
Yes, David Wright should definitely be eligible for the 2022 ballot (per the token appearance rule).

When the 2022 ballot discussion thread is created, we should make sure that Wright is included.
   647. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 08, 2021 at 11:34 PM (#5998540)
The evidence for Ortiz’s steroid use is pretty thin. He was rumored to be among the names in the 2003 supposedly-blind test before steroids testing and penalties were collectively bargained. It’s basically the same evidence as for Soda’s usage/cheating but sans the corked bat and the “No habló Inglés” moment in congress and with a decade or more without a positive during the testing era. I’m pretty leery of indicting someone for a single rumored positive on an unofficial test who never got popped again. I’m not going to vote for him because his case doesn’t merit it, but I feel like the one-year protest might be too tough a response for his particular circumstance.
   648. Howie Menckel Posted: January 08, 2021 at 11:51 PM (#5998545)
agreed that Sosa vs Abreu is a reasonable and challenging head-to-head for many of us.

as for Ortiz, per NY Times:

"By Michael S. Schmidt

July 30, 2009

Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, the sluggers who helped the Boston Red Sox end an 86-year World Series championship drought and capture another title three years later, were among the roughly 100 Major League Baseball players to test positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003, according to lawyers with knowledge of the results."

Asked about the 2003 drug test before the Red Sox played Oakland on Thursday in Boston, Ortiz shrugged. “I’m not talking about that anymore,” he said. “I have no comment.”

After the game, he issued a statement confirming the report: “One, I have already contacted the players association to confirm if this report is true. I have just been told that the report is true. Based on the way I have lived my life, I am surprised to learn I tested positive. Two, I will find out what I tested positive for. And, three, based on whatever I learn, I will share this information with my club and the public.”

But the Mitchell report, which was released in December 2007, said that players who tested positive in 2003 were notified by the union after the tests were seized."

.....................

By Michael S. Schmidt and Katie Thomas

Aug. 8, 2009

The Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz said Saturday that he had been careless about using over-the-counter supplements and vitamins that might have led to a positive doping test in 2003, but he denied ever using steroids.

“I definitely was a little bit careless back in those days when I was buying supplements and vitamins over the counter,” Ortiz said at a news conference at Yankee Stadium, hours before the Yankees and the Red Sox played the third game of their four-game series.

"Contrary to what Ortiz said when his positive test was revealed, he said Saturday that he had been told by union officials in 2004 that he was among the players whose drug-testing information was seized by the government."
   649. bachslunch Posted: January 10, 2021 at 08:57 AM (#5998792)
@647: Part of the thinking in my case hinges on treatment Ortiz will likely get from the BBWAA. I approach it this way.

Players who took PEDs pre-2005 did not violate rules because there weren’t any clearly codified ones in place with reliable testing. People who did so post-2005, I have no sympathy for.

Had I been an active voter, I would have applied the boycott to Palmeiro and Manny. I’m doing so for ARod and will do so for players like Cano and Nelson Cruz if I’m still voting then.

Had I been an active voter, I would not have applied the boycott to players such as Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Sosa, and Sheffield. The BBWAA has dug in its heels on players like this. What I dislike intently is that they seem to have given (or will give) free passes to other such folks who qualify such as IRod, Pettitte, and Ortiz — this strikes me as unfair, and in response I boycotted the first two and am boycotting Ortiz. Had the BBWAA been consistent, I wouldn’t have done so.

I’m not expecting others to agree with the approach, but that’s how I see it.
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