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Monday, January 13, 2020

Torii Hunter

Eligible 2021

DL from MN Posted: January 13, 2020 at 11:57 AM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. DL from MN Posted: January 13, 2020 at 02:04 PM (#5915139)
Player Name HOFm HOFs Yrs WAR WAR7 JAWS Jpos
Torii Hunter 58 34 19 50.1 30.8 40.4 57.8
   2. Rally Posted: January 13, 2020 at 02:42 PM (#5915194)
Hunter is an elite level HOVG, but not HOF or HOM.

He's one of the gate keepers. If you're not as good as Torii, you don't have a HOF case (sorry Omar). If you are better than Torii then your case deserves to be heard.

One of my favorites, one of the few times signing a top of the market free agent did not blow up in the face of the Angels. With hindsight I sure wish they had kept him for another couple of seasons, would have meant no Josh Hamilton.

One thing I remember was watching his defense slip a bit (confounded by the Angels having no range at all to help him out in the corners) and wondering if Torii was one of those prideful veterans who would resist a move to a corner. The speculation could not be more off base, he volunteered to move to right field once the team brought up Peter Bourjos (in 2010-2011 Bourjos was to outfield defense what Kevin Kiermaier has been in recent years).

In his last year with the team Hunter hit mostly #2 in the order and really seemed to enjoy hitting behind Mike Trout. Too bad it didn't last.
   3. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 13, 2020 at 02:55 PM (#5915210)
If you're not as good as Torii, you don't have a HOF case (sorry Omar).


Is there any chance that Torii gets some level of Omar-lite HOF support? I'm guessing not with Andruw Jones being directly on the ballot against him, although Jones is doing quite well so far this year (+23, 27.0% support overall), so it doesn't necessarily have to be an either/or. Any chance Hunter sees a second ballot? I could see him getting the most HOF votes of any first-year guy next year (Tim Hudson and Mark Buehrle also debut, but they both seem like career-ish candidates whose careers were clearly too short - thinking in terms of the BBWAA, not HOM, where I'm quite sure that Hudson and Buehrle will do better than Hunter).
   4. Jaack Posted: January 13, 2020 at 03:12 PM (#5915229)
I really enjoyed watching Hunter play, but he is... not close. He's not even close to making my consideration set, which is ~250 players. For me he ranks only slightly above fellow new eligible Shane Victorino, which is annoying because Torii Hunter was a fun, joyous player and Shane Victorino was an abscess. Grady Sizemore is also in the same zone, but I do not have strong feelings about him.

I wouldn't mind seeing him get some love from the HoF voters, though. I like to see players clearly on the outside get a nice hat tip before being whisked away to the pages of history, especially when they are irrational favorites. I loved it when Livan Hernandez gota vote, and I was mildly disappointed when Mike Cameron and Ray Durham got none. With a thinning ballot he could maybe make it to a second round, but Andruw Jones' struggles point to voters lack of interest in a good hitting, star fielding defender, and Hunter's defense probably wasn't even that good for most of his career. I think Hudson, Buehrle, and Hunter will probably get about the same love from voters.
   5. reech Posted: January 13, 2020 at 03:55 PM (#5915278)
I was a big Hunter fan until his odious comments about gay marriage came out.
screw him.
   6. The Honorable Ardo Posted: January 13, 2020 at 09:02 PM (#5915420)
Definitely in my consideration set. 12 straight seasons of 3+ WAR, 70th all time in extra-base hits (between Nap Lajoie and Harmon Killebrew on the career leaders list!). A remarkably consistent career.

Interesting comp:
Willie Davis: 9822 PA, 106 OPS+
Torii Hunter: 9692 PA, 110 OPS+

Both had similar offensive value when you adjust for their wildly different contexts. Both had moderate power and an aversion to walks. Davis stayed in CF longer than Hunter, but was he that much better defensively?

*To be clear, Torii is not anywhere close to my ballot, but he deserves more than immediate dismissal from our electorate.
   7. Dock Ellis Posted: January 13, 2020 at 09:29 PM (#5915431)
Torii aged very very well. 5.4 WAR season at age 36 and an All-Star at age 37.

re: gay marriage comments: That's really unfortunate to hear. Those appear to be more than five years ago so let's hope he's evolved.
   8. progrockfan Posted: January 14, 2020 at 01:03 PM (#5915662)
@5: "I was a big Hunter fan until his odious comments about gay marriage came out.
screw him."

It's not just gay marriage - it's gay people in general.

He said he would find having a gay teammate "difficult and uncomfortable" because "Biblically, it's not right". And then, belying his self-constructed holier-than-thou image, he called a reporter who dared to ask him about his views on gay people a "pr*ck" four separate times at a press conference.

Nor did he reserve his vitriol for gay people and inquisitive reporters:

"People see dark faces out there, and the perception is that they're African-American. They're not us. They're impostors. Even people I know come up and say, 'Hey, what color is Vladimir Guerrero? Is he a black player?' I say, 'Come on, he's Dominican. He's not black.' As African-American players, we have a theory that baseball can go get an imitator and pass them off as us. It's like they had to get some kind of dark faces, so they go to the Dominican or Venezuela because you can get them cheaper. It's like, 'Why should I get this kid from the South Side of Chicago and have Scott Boras represent him and pay him $5 million when you can get a Dominican guy for a bag of chips?'"

Now, he apologized for that last one - but only, I think, because he kinda had to. And he's never apologized for his comments on gay people and gay marriage, which he's made crystal clear are part of his "Christian" beliefs... so much for the Golden Rule, I guess.

I'm not saying he should be in or out based on any of this. But, like Cap's racism or Shoeless Joe's cheating, it is part of the record.

It astonishes me that the man was offered a job - any job - in broadcasting after all of this. Whereupon he said this on national TV about a kind in the stands who missed catching a foul ball:

“He has a hood on, and he puts the glove in front of his face, his hand was in front of his face, and he kind of closes his eyes. He didn’t follow the ball into the glove, and he had another kid come over and thieve it away. He took your ball, he took your glove, he took your cookies. Yeah, give up your glove, because that should never happen. You should never play baseball again. Take two weeks off and don’t ever play again... The camera is following you. You can’t really get away from national TV, buddy. Selfie! Shaking my head. 'I suck.'"

Nice.

Hunter was one of the best defensive outfielders I ever saw in person - not quite at the level of Andruw or Ichiro, but pretty damn fine. He's a deeply unpleasant person, but I'd vote for him despite that, almost certainly after a one-year boycott, if he had a decent bat to go with the outstanding glove. But he doesn't.
   9. Dog on the sidewalk has an ugly bracelet Posted: January 14, 2020 at 02:14 PM (#5915685)
350 HR and a 110 wRC+ doesn't even rise to decent?
   10. Rally Posted: January 14, 2020 at 02:17 PM (#5915686)
but I'd vote for him despite that, almost certainly after a one-year boycott, if he had a decent bat to go with the outstanding glove. But he doesn't.


Now it's just semantics, but how is his bat not decent? A 110 OPS+ over a 19 year career, a 6 year peak of 122, to me that kind of bat is well above what I'd call "decent". But it is also short of what I'd call a HOF bat.
   11. progrockfan Posted: January 14, 2020 at 02:26 PM (#5915689)
@9:

Never led the league in any offensive category - a .331 OBP - just 661 walks in 9692 plate appearances - top 30 all-time in grounding into double plays (ouch!) - 195 steals, but at a 66% rate, below break-even - no, by my lights, that's not a decent offensive player.

Good enough to start for most teams, especailly with that gilded glove - but we're talking about the Hall of Merit here, and that, in my view, requires more than "good enough to start".

@10:

I agree: It's just semantics. Choose your favorite word for "Hall of Merit-worthy". He's not that word.
   12. PreservedFish Posted: January 14, 2020 at 02:40 PM (#5915695)
I just assumed that there was a tacit "decent (for a Hall of Merit candidate)." By any regular standard he obviously had a decent bat, in fact he was quite a good hitter. There are very very few teams in history that would not have started prime Torii Hunter. He was a better baseball player than Bob Meusel or Cesar Geronimo, to pluck two examples from legendary lineups.

One little thing with him is that his defensive prime and offensive prime did not at all overlap, although they followed in such a way as to create an astoundingly consistent player with regard to his WAR.
   13. progrockfan Posted: January 14, 2020 at 05:47 PM (#5915763)
Okay, okay, I can take a hint, after I've been walloped on the head 70 or 80 times.

Torii's bat was "decent". I concede the terminology.

@12: "He was a better baseball player than Bob Meusel or Cesar Geronimo, to pluck two examples from legendary lineups."

Actually, I agree with this.

@12: "There are very very few teams in history that would not have started prime Torii Hunter."

And this.

Still don't think he was HoM material though. HoVG, absolutely; HoM, not so much. Apparently YM can and does V. And that's what this place is all about. ;)
   14. PreservedFish Posted: January 14, 2020 at 06:36 PM (#5915781)
Oh, I don't know if he's HoM material. I'm not a HoM voter, just a lurker. I just agreed with the others above that the words you used were unnecessarily harsh.
   15. cookiedabookie Posted: January 14, 2020 at 07:59 PM (#5915805)
Torii is in the 150-200 range for me, right there with Andy Van Slyke and Earle Combs among CFers. So he will never really be in the conversation for me.
   16. kcgard2 Posted: January 14, 2020 at 09:25 PM (#5915825)
I also have Torii about 160. In terms of CFers, in a range with Butler, Van Slyke, Dykstra, and Otis. Yeah, these are not serious HOM candidates, but they were fine players. Top 500 guys in the history of MLB is still mighty fine company.
   17. progrockfan Posted: January 15, 2020 at 09:57 AM (#5915908)
@15: "Oh, I don't know if he's HoM material... I just agreed with the others above that the words you used were unnecessarily harsh."

...Were they though? We are talking about the standards of the HoM here.

Compare Torii as a hitter to, say, Harold Baines:

.    Torii Harold
H     2452   2866
HR     353    386
BB     661   1062
BA    .277   .289
OBP   .331   .356
SLG   .461   .465
OPS   .793   .820
OPS
+   110    121 

The idea of Harold as a HoM’er was roundly dismissed here, rightly so in my view. And Harold was a much better hitter than Torii – by career, as the numbers above demonstrate, and by peak too: by OPS+, Harold’s best seven seasons are all better than Torii’s best.

Of course, all Harold has to sell is his hitting. And obviously Torii was an infinitely greater defender than Harold. Based on his defense and longevity, I could see a voter giving Torii a ballot slot.

But I was not critiquing Torii as an all-around candidate. I was specifically, explicitly, and solely critiquing his hitting.

And frankly, I think I got it right. A .sub-.800 OPS from a key offensive slot… just one top-5 offensive marker (4th in doubles in 2007) in 19 seasons played… a personal high of 62 walks, which took 649 plate appearances to achieve… it just isn’t there in my opinion.

If Torii were elected, he’d be much the weakest offensive player among HoM center fielders. His only competition for that dubious distinction would be Max Carey, who had multiple offensive titles to sell, including ten in stolen bases – and I believe that some members of the electorate think Carey was a mistake.

To me, Torii was not a “decent” hitter by HoM standards – the only standards under discussion here.

That’s just me. ;)
   18. kwarren Posted: January 15, 2020 at 11:03 AM (#5915959)
If Torii were elected, he’d be much the weakest offensive player among HoM center fielders. His only competition for that dubious distinction would be Max Carey, who had multiple offensive titles to sell, including ten in stolen bases – and I believe that some members of the electorate think Carey was a mistake.

And then there is Lloyd Waner.
   19. PreservedFish Posted: January 15, 2020 at 11:23 AM (#5915970)
To me, Torii was not a “decent” hitter by HoM standards – the only standards under discussion here.


I agree. But I actually think you need to be explicit about that. If you were to say "Harold Baines wasn't much of a hitter," it could be accurate or entirely ridiculous depending on the perspective you're using - compared to HOM candidates? Compared to HOM inductees? Compared to HOM DHs? Compared to HOM candidates primarily known for their offense? Compared to average MLB hitters? It's not always obvious, and when you leave that context unspoken, someone is bound to misinterpret your words.

I think the default assumption, even in this forum, is that you're comparing a guy to other MLB players. So if I were to say "Keith Hernandez was merely an adequate hitter," that just sounds wrong, and it's always gonna sound wrong unless I immediately clarify that I'm comparing him to HOM 1Bs.
   20. progrockfan Posted: January 15, 2020 at 12:02 PM (#5915983)
@18: "And then there is Lloyd Waner."

Hmm, you're right about him.

@19: "You need to be explicit about [the basis for your descriptive language]... It's not always obvious, and when you leave that context unspoken, someone is bound to misinterpret your words."

Fair comment.
   21. Rally Posted: January 15, 2020 at 01:21 PM (#5916042)
Lloyd Waner is not HOM, is he? He's a weak point for HOF center fielders but I can't imagine HOM would have ever considered him.

On my top 500 position player list by WAR, which has not been updated in a decade, Waner wasn't even listed. I see on BB-ref he comes in at a tie for #738.

Max Carey to me is a solid HOM/HOF choice. At 54 WAR he's in the same range as Hunter, but if I look at players up through 1929 I don't know if there are that many CF candidates that outclass him. Obviously Cobb and Speaker are on another level. Carey seems like a good comp for Kenny Lofton. Similar OPS+ (107/108), around +100 runs in both defense and baserunning. He was well ahead of his time when it comes to knowing when to run and when NOT to run, his 1922 season of 51 steals in 53 tries is one of the cooler stats out there.

Through 1929, among players who played at least 50% of games in CF Carey is 4th in WAR, after Cobb, Speaker, and the original Billy Hamilton.
   22. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 15, 2020 at 01:37 PM (#5916065)
At 54 WAR he's in the same range as Hunter, but if I look at players up through 1929 I don't know if there are that many CF candidates that outclass him.


Carey also played in the era of 154-game seasons vs. 162-game seasons for Hunter. And 1918 and 1919 were even shorter than that because of World War I. Adjusting for those things would probably add another 5 WAR or so to Carey's career total.
   23. Rally Posted: January 15, 2020 at 02:18 PM (#5916107)
The components of Carey and Lofton's WAR totals are very similar, except Carey trails Lofton 68-54 overall. The difference is almost all the position adjustment for CF. Carey gets a -84, Lofton +43. If they were equally adjusted WAR would be 68-67, or 55-54.

If that's wrong I'll have to take the blame for it. If I remember the research correctly the main difference is that in Carey's day there were a lot more balls in play, and especially a lot more ground balls as very few players tried to get the ball in the air. Third base in particular was a defense first position. First base was still an offensive position, but not quite as much as today. In those days teams were more likely to hide their worst defensive player in the corner outfield than at first base. Total has to add up to zero, so giving more to the infield means less for the outfield.
   24. bachslunch Posted: February 02, 2020 at 07:29 PM (#5921171)
Torii Hunter is off my radar screen for CFs. Of players not in the HoM, I’ve got him behind all of Lofton, Davis, Lemon, Damon, Cedeno, Puckett, and Lynn.

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