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Friday, September 29, 2023

Appreciating 4 all-time legends as they play their (potential) final games

This could be it for Miguel Cabrera, Zack Greinke, Joey Votto, and Adam Wainwright.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 29, 2023 at 02:19 PM | 49 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: adam wainrwright, joey votto, miguel cabrera, zack greinke

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   1. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: September 30, 2023 at 04:43 PM (#6142881)
Except for Cabrera, calling these guys legends (let alone all-time legends) is a stretch at best. Wainwright's not making the HOF, and I think both Greinke and Votto will have to wait, if they get in at all.
   2. Booey Posted: September 30, 2023 at 06:49 PM (#6142893)
If Greinke and Votto - and a couple others of their caliber - don't get elected, we'd better get used to election shutouts becoming a regular thing, cuz there's only a few players who are better and look likely to hit the ballot in the next decade.

In fact, once Kershaw, Verlander, and Scherzer retire, barring a drastic change in starting pitcher usage, there's a good chance we may never see another starter with as strong a HOF resume as Greinke again. 224 wins, 3384 IP, and 77.3 WAR feel basically impossible for a young pitcher to reach nowadays.
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 30, 2023 at 09:36 PM (#6142905)
I don't think they're inner circle guys, but I frankly didn't think Greinke or Votto were borderline guys either.
   4. Howie Menckel Posted: October 01, 2023 at 01:21 AM (#6142949)
can we get a second - from anyone? - on Greinke and Votto NOT being HOF likelies, if not locks?

first ballot, sure, we can have a discussion.

but "if they get in at all" ?

that strikes me as an epic outlier
   5. Dog on the sidewalk has an ugly bracelet Posted: October 01, 2023 at 01:50 AM (#6142950)
Cabrera is probably the most "legendary" of the three, thanks to the triple crown and the counting stats, but Votto was as good and Greinke was better.
   6. SoSH U at work Posted: October 01, 2023 at 07:14 AM (#6142955)
Greinke and Votto will not have to wait very long. If you think otherwise, you haven't been paying attention.

   7. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 01, 2023 at 12:12 PM (#6142973)
Greinke and Votto will not have to wait very long. If you think otherwise, you haven't been paying attention.

Assuming you're right about Greinke, and I think you are, has any other HoF pitcher ever wrapped up his career with a season as horrific on the surface (1-15 W-L, 5.18 ERA) as his?
   8. Itchy Row Posted: October 01, 2023 at 12:31 PM (#6142975)
Greinke is 1-0 against teams that won 100+ games and 0-15 against teams that didn’t.
   9. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 01, 2023 at 12:33 PM (#6142977)
John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Steve Carlton. Much rarer to end your career in a high note.
   10. Booey Posted: October 01, 2023 at 12:42 PM (#6142979)
Roy Halladay (6.82 ERA) was really bad his final season too.

As #9 mentions, the shorter list is how many HOF starting pitchers were actually good in their final season. Koufax and Mussina are the obvious exceptions. Any others?
   11. kcgard2 Posted: October 01, 2023 at 01:06 PM (#6142983)
Roger Clemens was still above average at age 44 (but not full-season healthy). Oh wait, you said HOF (but, again, he's one of the 20 best players of all time, so I don't know where we're going with this).

Pud Galvin, Ted Lyons, Chief Bender should probably qualify, Cy Young (does being an average SP count as "good?"), Tim Keefe...the impression I'm getting is, this appeared to be possible back just before our great-grandfathers were born, but quite rare in modern times. If only Phil Niekro had known to call it quits after age 45 we could've had another in our lifetimes. Maybe Whitey Ford?
   12. kcgard2 Posted: October 01, 2023 at 01:08 PM (#6142984)
Schilling was also quite good in his last season, and a should-be HOFer.
   13. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: October 01, 2023 at 03:16 PM (#6143011)
MGL, circa 2004: "There is nothing in his record to indicate Zack Greinke will be a good major league pitcher."
   14. John Northey Posted: October 01, 2023 at 04:37 PM (#6143020)
Greinke for 'peak' has 6 All-Star Games, 5 times got votes for the Cy with 1 title. 6 Gold Gloves, 2 Silver Sluggers. Cracked 10 WAR in 2009 (10.4) which is very hard to do. 2 ERA titles, twice cracking 200 for ERA+. These are things that will jump out to voters who are debating him. With sub 300 wins there will be a debate for him. Negative is never getting 20 wins (19 his peak in 2015) which I suspect some older voters would still hold against him.

Votto is hurt by 2135 hits, 356 HR's. Those are lower than they should be due to his 1365 walks. 6 All Star games, 9 times getting MVP votes, 1 win. A gold glove, 7 OBP titles, 1 Slg title. A big skill seems to be walks with 5 times leading the league - sadly an underappreciated skill. He is a solid HOF choice, but not a 'wow'. Lifetime 5.1 bWAR/162 vs average 1B in HOF at 4.8 so he does up the level of the HOF 1B if he gets in but not by a lot.

I see both Votto and Greinke as being near locks to get in, probably Cabrera year 1, Votto year 2, Greinke year 3 depending who else is hanging around on the ballot at the time.

   15. Howie Menckel Posted: October 01, 2023 at 04:44 PM (#6143024)
Greinke has 5 scoreless innings so far and leads the Yankees 5-0

WINS

70. George Mullin (14) 228 3686.2

71. Jim Bunning+ (17) 224 3760.1
71. ZACK GREINKE (20, 39) 224 3384.1
71. Catfish Hunter+ (15) 224 3449.1
   16. AndrewJ Posted: October 01, 2023 at 05:04 PM (#6143029)
And... Votto gets ejected on his (EDIT: potential) final day in the bigs.
   17. Hombre Brotani Posted: October 01, 2023 at 05:50 PM (#6143037)
He got ejected early, too! Arguing balls and strikes! In the second inning!
   18. Hombre Brotani Posted: October 01, 2023 at 05:51 PM (#6143040)
Greinke does get #225. Wainwright gets a puppy.
   19. Hombre Brotani Posted: October 01, 2023 at 06:19 PM (#6143045)
And 43-year-old Rich Hill gets the win.
   20. Mefisto Posted: October 01, 2023 at 06:32 PM (#6143047)
@11: I also thought of Ford and checked his numbers. He only got 117 IP in his last 2 seasons combined, but he pitched them very well: 151 ERA+
   21. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: October 01, 2023 at 11:47 PM (#6143078)
As #9 mentions, the shorter list is how many HOF starting pitchers were actually good in their final season. Koufax and Mussina are the obvious exceptions. Any others?


Seaver. 176 IP, 2.5 WAR.
   22. Loren F. Posted: October 02, 2023 at 12:03 AM (#6143080)
Why was Votto brought up relatively late? His minor league numbers suggest he could have started in the majors in late 2006 or at least the beginning of the 2007.
   23. bjhanke Posted: October 02, 2023 at 02:16 AM (#6143082)
I'm from STL and a Wainwright fan from the day they traded for him (he was in the minors at the time), but even I don't think of him as a Hall candidate. He is very certainly in the Hall of Very Very Good.
   24. Ron J Posted: October 02, 2023 at 09:04 AM (#6143086)
#22 Might be as simple as the fact that 1B was pretty good. .297/.390/.480 (collectively) in 2006 from Cincinnati 1B. Meanwhile Votto had a rough year in A+ ball in 2005. He had a really good 2006 (and Chattanooga was not an extreme hitter's park)

Then in 2007 he has a good enough year to earn a promotion, but Hatteberg, Dunn and Griffey were playing well enough at the positions he could handle. (And handle is being generous when it came to the OF -- he was raw as hell out there and had the speed of a young Joey Votto)

Don't recall what happened with Hatteburg in September 2007. He literally did not play after Votto was called up. Must have been hurt, though he played the full game Sept 3.

Anyhow Votto got a clean shot, ran with it and never looked back. Took a big step forward in 2009 and held that new level. Prime Votto is a decade with a .434 OBP
   25. Tom and Shivs couples counselor Posted: October 02, 2023 at 10:00 AM (#6143094)
24: Pretty sure Hatteberg was just benched. Then next season when Dusty showed up Baker told him he would be a pinch hitter unless Votto got hurt

Hatteberg didn’t like the bit role so left the Reds next season. Not clear on why he didn’t try and hook up with another team but guess he was done with the grind
   26. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 02, 2023 at 11:13 AM (#6143105)
@11: I also thought of Ford and checked his numbers. He only got 117 IP in his last 2 seasons combined, but he pitched them very well: 151 ERA+

Ford began his final season (1967) with a string of very good starts, with game scores ranging from 60 to 73.** But then after being shelled in his next two starts, a recurring elbow problem made him hang it up. His final ERA that year was still 1.64.

** These game scores would've been higher if Ford had been a strikeout pitcher.

   27. Walt Davis Posted: October 02, 2023 at 04:40 PM (#6143169)
I think back in the day, Votto would have had a pretty tough time. (Or during ballotgeddon when Walker and even Bagwell weren't no-doubters, Trammell.) In those pre-WAR days, the voters did not deal with good all-around players very well ... nor with shorter-career, prime-only candidates without milestones. Santo and Allen being obvious examples but also Keith Hernandez never got anywhere, Murphy and Parker, Olerud didn't even get 1%, Reggie Smith, Grich, Raines took forever.

The main reason Votto and probably Utley will have an 'easy' time is because the ballots look to be very weak. There are a good number of first ballot guys but those guys don't generally have a big effect on backloggers (some exceptions) but the backlog is already very thin and it's not going to get much thicker over the next 5 years. Barring a drop to something like an average of 3 names per ballot, it doesn't seem possible that Votto won't get large numbers of votes and eventually enough momentum to get over. Votto is also a press favorite which never hurts.

Anyway, I think the election of Edgar, Walker and especially Rolen has opened a door for guys like Votto and Utley and it's especially true with weak ballots coming up. But I don't think Votto would have made it in any earlier era of HoF voting...

Votto 294 BA, 356 HR, 2100 H, 1100 RBI, 1 MVP, 64 WAR, 17 black ink
Olerud 295 BA, 255 HR, 2200 H, 1200 RBI, 0 MVP, 58 WAR, 7 black ink
Hernandez 296 BA, 162 HR, 2200 H, 1100 RBI, 1/2 MVP, 60 WAR, 14 black ink
Allen 292 BA, 351 HR, <1900 H, 1100 RBI, 1 MVP, 59 WAR, 27 black ink
Smith 287 BA, 314 HR, 2000 H, 1100 RBI, 0 MVP, 65 WAR, 4 black ink
Abreu 291 BA, 288 HR, <2500 H, 1300 RBI, 0 MVP, 60 WAR, 5 black ink (at least up to 15% in the voting)
Murphy 265 BA, 398 HR, 2100 H, 1200 RBI, 2 MVP, 47 WAR, 31 black ink
Parker 290 BA, 339 HR, 2700 H, <1500 RBI, 1 MVP, 40 WAR, 26 black ink
Dw Evans 272 BA, 385 HR, 2400 H, <1400 RBI, 0 MVP, 67 WAR, 15 black ink (2600 games)

Some who did make it, not easily

Dawson 279 BA, 438 HR, 2750 H, <1600 RBI, 1 MVP, 65 WAR, 11 black ink (many CF GGs, many steals, 2600 games)
Snider 295 BA, 407 HR, 2100 H, 1300 RBI, 0 MVP, 66 WAR, 28 black ink
B Williams 290 BA, 426 HR, 2700 H, <1500 RBI, 0 MVP, 64 WAR, 18 black ink (2600 games)

And (at least) one who made it easily

Vlad 318 BA, 449 HR, <2600 H, <1500 RBI, 1 MVP, 60 WAR, 6 black ink (expected more there)

Counting stats in line with Duke Snider was never a persuasive HoF case. Just ask Jim Edmonds.
   28. Russlan is not Russian Posted: October 02, 2023 at 05:50 PM (#6143179)
Greinke has 159-65 record with everyone but the Royals and a 66-91 record with them.
   29. Walt Davis Posted: October 02, 2023 at 05:54 PM (#6143182)
I don't see anything in Votto's minor-league record to suggest he was ready substantially sooner than his promotion:

Age 20: 301/419/499 (A with a bit of A+)
That's very nice but hardly OMG for a top prospect at A ball. Maybe he should have been promoted to A+ sooner than he was.

Age 21: 257/330/425 (all A+)
Yikes! That's bad. FSL is a tough environment but that's still just league average BA/OBP. The Reds showed some faith sending him to the AFL where he put up 40 unimpressive PAs.

Age 22: 319/405/547 (all AA)
OK, here's the Votto we know and love. Maybe he should have been promoted to AAA around the halfway point. He did play in the futures game. He goes to winter ball which suggests everybody thinks he needs a bit more work.

Age 23: 294/381/478 (AAA)
That's solid, the power is not that impressive for a 1B though. Another futures game. Coming into that age 23 season, he was ranked around the #50 prospect so arguably he could have been promoted a month or two earlier than he was.

So at most, maybe he should have been in AAA mid-22, possibly then in MLB at the start of 23. More realistically, he could have come to MLB mid-23 instead of late-23. An AFL trip and two futures games makes it pretty clear he was expected to hold a job in the majors but even the most aggressive timeline can't get him to the majors sooner than late-22. So, at most, you can add one season of young Votto. (EDIT: That's not nothing, another 3 WAR, enough hits to get over 2250, enough R and RBI to pass 1200 ... but I'd say that's the max you could add.)

The one thing that's pretty clear from that is that Votto was nowhere near MLB-ready at age 21. He didn't appear to be AA-ready. Teams then understandably need to see some reasonably-sized sample at age 22 to START to change their mind. Then you don't generally promote a guy the second you start to think he's back on track, he needs to skyrocket, you need both the numbers and the scouts/coaches all saying, "he's ready now." Without that, you wait to see if the performance holds up, maybe promote him a level, not two. I suspect a mid-season Jim Callis update in his age 22 season would have said something along those lines: "this young Canadian hitter has gotten himself back on track after a tough age 21 and is set to arrive the middle of next year."

Granted, it was the Reds, not normally a powerhouse, usually spots available for promising young players but that's been covered already. But comp this to somebody like Stanton:

Age 18 293/382/611 at A (a 320 ISO at 18 at A!!)
Age 19 255/341/501 at A+ -- AA ... and 478/539/609 at AFL (less impressive but still that 250 ISO)
Age 20 313/442/729(!!) at AA for two months ... and then up to MLB

Or Bryant:

Age 21 336/390/688 at Rk-A-A+ (146 PA)
Age 22 325/438/661 at AA-AAA

Or Jackson Holliday, a SS:

Age 18 297/489/422 (nearly a 500 OBP at 18)
Age 19 323/442/499 at A-A+-AA-AAA (he's "struggled" a bit at AAA but still a 396 OBP)

Give or take (hitting environment, etc.) a ML-ready corner hitter should hit 300 with an ISO over 200 at pretty much every stop in the minors. With crazy strikeout levels, maybe the BA threshold has dropped but that just means you need to see an even bigger ISO. Heck, last year (at age 24), Matt Mervis put up a line of 309/379/606 across 3 levels -- still not good enough to win a job for a team that employed Eric Hosmer instead and he flopped when he did get his first shot.

Really only Votto's age-22 season was at all impressive and that was more "possible future all-star season or two" not "potential Hofer." In retrospect, sure, given he hit well in the majors from day one, he was obviously ready to hit at least OK earlier but it's not a precise science and you can't really blame the Reds for not recognizing exactly when that moment was. A similar looking prospect at the moment would be Drew Gilbert, part of the return for Verlander, who is ranked #52 at MLB, a LF/CF/RF who just put up a line of 289/381/487 at A+-AA at 22 (EDIT: and was in the 2023 futures game). I'm not betting on Gilbert reaching 8 career WAR much less the HoF. (I have no idea if he can stick in CF.)

It would be interesting to look back. Was Votto a guy the scouts loved but the Reds wanted to see better numbers? Or were the scouts unconvinced? Or was everybody agreed he was ready but the Reds just had too much money committed at 1B? Or just that Hatteberg et al were doing really well -- they were, both Hatteberg and Griffey were putting up young Votto lines. Hatteberg has to be one of the few guys to put up the highest OPS+ of his career at age 37.
   30. Tom and Shivs couples counselor Posted: October 02, 2023 at 06:23 PM (#6143185)
The Reds at the time sent all their best prospect to Dayton so Reds fans if interested could drive up and see the player(s). Votto was regularly described as a top prospect. Also very popular in Dayton as he was played there pretty much a full season between part of age 19 and most of his age 20

Know all this as I have family in Cincy so saw Votto play several times during visits.

For a few years Dayton saw some good minor league hitters as Dunn and Kearns also played in Dayton and hit well
   31. Zach Posted: October 02, 2023 at 08:01 PM (#6143212)
has any other HoF pitcher ever wrapped up his career with a season as horrific on the surface (1-15 W-L, 5.18 ERA) as his?

It's an interesting question, but I think there's a pretty firm consensus that a player can't play his way out the of the HOF. There's always the danger that the electorate won't remember the good times, but that's another issue.

Most players Greinke's age are already retired. Being a fifth starter on a bad team shouldn't hurt his candidacy.
   32. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 02, 2023 at 08:19 PM (#6143215)
I think there's a pretty firm consensus that a player can't play his way out the of the HOF.
Andruw Jones is putting that assumption to the test, although perhaps slowly proving it to be correct. But to be fair, in his case it wasn’t one bad season; he wasn’t close to the same player after age-29.
   33. Zach Posted: October 02, 2023 at 08:22 PM (#6143217)
Greinke has 159-65 record with everyone but the Royals and a 66-91 record with them.

That might be the most Royals thing I've ever seen.

Pitcher W/L/ERA

Greinke Royals 66/91/3.93
Greinke everybody else: 159/65/3.18

Sandy Koufax: 165/87/2.76

Basically, in 2005 the Royals broke their string of first round pitcher draft busts by drafting the next Sandy Koufax ... for everybody else.

And the really funny thing? Totally worth it, and one of my favorite Royals ever.
   34. Tom Nawrocki Posted: October 02, 2023 at 08:36 PM (#6143220)

has any other HoF pitcher ever wrapped up his career with a season as horrific on the surface (1-15 W-L, 5.18 ERA) as his?


Bob Gibson: 3-10, 5.04 ERA, 75 ERA+
Steve Carlton: 6-14, 5.74 ERA, 79 ERA+, then followed that up with 0-1, 16.76 before teams mercifully stopped letting him pitch
   35. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 02, 2023 at 09:59 PM (#6143230)
Bob Gibson: 3-10, 5.04 ERA, 75 ERA+

In early 1975 I was in New York and was fired up to see a Gibson - Seaver duel. Didn't turn out to be much of a duel, and by the time Gibson was yanked his ERA stood at 6.26.

Funny that in his best game that year (Game Score of 70) he had but 1 strikeout in 8 innings, while in the only game where he had double digit (12) strikeouts he also gave up 9 hits, 5 walks and 5 earned runs. That 12 K game was on opening day, and after that his next highest strikeout total was 5.

   36. BDC Posted: October 02, 2023 at 10:05 PM (#6143233)
The most similar pitcher to Greinke (541, 121) by Games Started and ERA+ is Mussina (536, 123). Eddie Plank isn't far off (529, 122) and Jim Palmer (521, 125) was a bit better in slightly fewer starts. Plank and Palmer had more championship narrative. All HOFers, though.

Most similar batter to Votto (8,746, 144) by PA and OPS+ is Edgar Martinez (8,674, 147), with Willie Stargell (9,027, 147) and Harry Heilmann (8,972, 148) also in the neighborhood … as RoyalsRetro says above, not inner-circle, but not marginal HOFers either.

   37. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 02, 2023 at 10:09 PM (#6143234)
I think there's a pretty firm consensus that a player can't play his way out the of the HOF.

Not quite the same thing, but at age 31 Dale Murphy looked to be heading towards Cooperstown,** and then the roof caved in.

** 132 OPS+, 41.6 WAR, 2 MVPs and 7 All-Star appearances. After that a 95 OPS+, 4.8 WAR, no awards or All-Star appearance, and out of baseball at 37.
   38. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 02, 2023 at 10:16 PM (#6143237)
The most similar pitcher to Greinke (541, 121) by Games Started and ERA+ is Mussina (536, 123). Eddie Plank isn't far off (529, 122) and Jim Palmer (521, 125) was a bit better in slightly fewer starts. Plank and Palmer had more championship narrative. All HOFers, though.

The postseason "narrative" difference among Palmer, Mussina and Greinke was pretty stark. Ignoring the W-L records, Palmer posted a 2.63 postseason ERA in 17 games, compared to Mussina's 3.42 in 23 games, and Greinke's 4.14 in 22 games. Plank was the best of them all with a 1.32 WS ERA, but that was in the deadball era and in only 7 games.
   39. Walt Davis Posted: October 02, 2023 at 11:57 PM (#6143257)
#37 ... and the basic concept ... there's "on an HoF trajectory" and "everybody thinks is an HoFer." Muprhy got off to a slow start -- a good age 24 but a 100 OPS+ at 25 and, to that point, the only thing he had led the league in was strikeouts (twice). In our modern terms, to this point he had just 7.5 career WAR, almost all of it in that age 24 season. He then went on a tear with 34 WAR and 2 MVPs in 6 seasons. But that's not enough to be "in", you've got to do something like that (minus the MVPs) to be "in." Similarly, Cesar Cedeno got off to a HoF start but fizzled out so early he was never "in." He might have been a "good" bet to make it entering his age 30 but not there yet.

Dick Allen maybe played his way out although a lot of that was probably walking out on the White Sox. Frank Thoomas might have come close if he hadn't found that second wind at 35 -- he was at 61 WAR, coming off 1.9 WAR in his last 700 PA, <400 HR, <1300 RBI, <2000 H. What the heck ... Allen career vs Thomas thru 34:

DA 7315 PA, 292/378/534, 156 OPS+, 351 HR, 1848 H, 1119 RBI, 59 WAR, 1 MVP, 27 black ink, last good season at 32
FT 7506 PA, 314/432/568, 164 OPS+, 376 HR, 1902 H, 1285 RBI, 61 WAR, 2 MVP, 21 black ink, "last" good season at 32

Which is probably one of the better arguments for Allen in the HoF. Anyway, if Thomas adds another 2000 PAs of Pujolsian lousiness, does his HoF rep survive? He made it super-easy for them by adding 13 WAR, getting over 500 HRs and a whopping 1700 RBI while still maintaining the career 300 BA.

Anyway, obviously tough to genuinely play your way out. If you played so well that you were "in" by 32, if you keep playing, you might be killing some rate stats but presumably you're passing some milestones. On the other hand, if your career comes to an abrupt end, they're likely to Puckett you. So it's probably only guys like Santo -- excellent all-around players with no counting stats whose careers come to an abrupt end -- that are at risk. But the precise problem with Santo is that he wasn't "in" because writers didn't properly recognize his overall value. That's the fear with Utley who got such a late start he never really had a chance to be "in" early enough to play his way out.

Pitchers might be different, I haven't really thought about that.

Among active guys ... I'm not sure I consider Goldschmidt to be "in" yet but he's a (not very good) candidate for a collapse that could cost him. Arenado I think might have enough rep to be "in" (but he has no MVP) but might be at risk of playing his way out if he is in. Maybe if Mookie plays so badly over the next 3 years that he's out of the game by 34 or allowed to play out the contract at replacement level from today, he can play his way out.
   40. Walt Davis Posted: October 03, 2023 at 12:00 AM (#6143258)
But that's not enough to be "in", you've got to do something like that (minus the MVPs) to be "in."

What the hell was I trying to say there? Hopefully that was some messed up editing error or it's time for a new brain. I think there was supposed to be a "do something like that for 10 years" ... not sure why we'd subtract MVPs though.
   41. Walt Davis Posted: October 03, 2023 at 12:23 AM (#6143260)
Anyway, I think it would be a cool, SABR historical textual analysis project (maybe already done) to look at when various players started getting widely referred to as "future HoFers." Maybe that reference is (nearly always) reserved until near the end of a career even if they are "in" long before that. I suspect Stargell went from "highly debatable" (or not even thought about much) to "lock" in 1979. I wonder how often Puckett got the tag before his career ended.

To start getting the tag early, I assume you have to do some pretty amazing stuff -- not Ohtani-level amazing but Ichiro had people ready to count his NPB stats if necessary, long before his career ended. Kiner is obviously in just for those 7 HR titles but it took a lot of votes so he clearly wasn't "in" at a young age. (Did he come close to playing his way out?) I think Carew would be interesting -- I'm guessing his MVP (and 6th batting title) at 31 had folks saying that sealed it but he was still under 2000 hits. Was Ernie Banks in by the time he moved off of SS or did he still need at least some of the grind-y years before he was "in?"
   42. BDC Posted: October 03, 2023 at 09:55 AM (#6143289)
Pitchers might be different, I haven't really thought about that

I don't think pitchers are different – at least I can't think of any good examples. There are pitchers who showed HOF talent young and racked up a lot of bWAR – Bret Saberhagen, Johan Santana – but they're not in because, like Dale Murphy, they weren't really "in," they'd just established a trajectory.

While searching various ways for possible examples, I discovered that the only pitcher to win 200 games by the end of his age-31 season, and not make the Hall of Fame, is George Mullin. But he did not play his way out of the Hall, because he'd never really been in. Mullin has the lowest W% and worst ERA+ of the nine guys who won 200 by age 31. He racked up wins by getting a lot of starts for a great Tiger club.

The others are Nichols, Mathewson, Johnson, Newhouser, Feller, Roberts, Drysdale, and Hunter. About half continued to build their cases after 31 and about half disappeared. The exception is Robin Roberts. After age 31, Roberts went 80-89 with a mediocre ERA. He seems to be good evidence that you can't pitch your way out of the Hall – although, as with the question of Ernie Banks, did all those mediocre years get Roberts into the Hall by padding his Win total? The examples of Hunter and Drysdale would seem to suggest not.
   43. . . . . . . Posted: October 03, 2023 at 11:12 AM (#6143299)
i actually think that if Greinke went to a team with good pitching analytics, he could squeeze out another couple of years of good pitching. His stuff looked fine to me, he just seemed kind of like he was ####### around on a bad team and having fun.
   44. Booey Posted: October 03, 2023 at 11:20 AM (#6143300)
Yeah, guys who look like HOFers and then get injured or fall off a cliff for whatever reason - Murphy, Andruw, Nomar, Santana, Strawberry, Pedroia, Wright, King Felix, etc - aren't playing their way out of the HOF; they simply didn't last long enough to be a HOFer to begin with. None of them would have had the bulk to get elected if they'd retired earlier, before the decline (and Andruw looks like a lock to make it in the next couple years anyway).

The only players I can think of who actually "played their way out of the HOF" are those who tested positive for PED's late in their careers after they'd already entered lock status; Palmeiro, Manny, Cano. Those guys really would've been HOFers if they'd retired the year before their positive test.
   45. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 03, 2023 at 11:36 AM (#6143304)
Walt,

A totally non-statistical point: Before expansion, it was much easier for writers to keep up with all the players, and to concentrate on a relatively smaller number of stars. Today, even with all the stat info at their fingertips, by the time a player gets around to be eligible for the HoF, there are going to be writers who aren't familiar with some of those borderline candidates** to the same degree that writers of earlier eras were familiar with the much smaller numbers of marginally Hallworthy players. Every writer today can access all the relevant stats about the eligible inductees, but fewer of them likely have those often critical "gut" feelings about all of them.

** Especially if those borderline candidates played three time zones removed from where the writers were at the time. Morning newspapers were ubiquitous BITD, and box scores were being delivered to your doorstep. How many East Coast writers and non-hardcore fans now are even aware of the outcome of the previous night's West Coast games, let alone the individual numbers? The information is all out there, but to access it without those morning newspapers you need to go to MLB.com and then click on 15 different box scores. How many people really bother to do that?
   46. Booey Posted: October 03, 2023 at 11:48 AM (#6143309)
Before their 1st positive test seasons;

PALMEIRO(tested positive in 2005):
19 seasons (1986-2004)
11624 PA's, 1616 runs, 2922 hits, 572 2B, 551 HR, 1775 RBI
.289/.372/.517 (133 OPS+)
71.6 WAR, 31.6 WAA
All star (×4), Gold Glove (×3)
Silver Slugger (×2), Top 10 MVP (×3)

MANNY (tested positive in 2009):
16 seasons (1993-2008)
9006 PA's, 1444 runs, 2392 hits, 507 2B, 527 HR, 1725 RBI
.314/.411/.593 (155 OPS+)
66.6 WAR, 35.4 WAA
All Star (×12), Silver Slugger (×9)
Top 10 MVP (×9)
2 time World Series Champion (2004, 2007)
World Series MVP (2004)

CANO (tested positive in 2018):
13 seasons (2005-2017)
8493 PA's, 1144 runs, 2376 hits, 512 2B, 301 HR, 1183 RBI
.305/.354/.494 (126 OPS+)
64.6 WAR, 34.7 WAA
All Star (×8), Gold Glove (×2)
Silver Slugger (×5), Top 10 MVP (×6)
2009 Championship

THIS is how you play your way out of the HOF...
   47. Ben V-L Posted: October 03, 2023 at 02:48 PM (#6143342)
Wainwright is clearly not a Hall of Famer. But his peak, which is interspersed through some 10 healthy seasons over his 18 year career, is perfectly in line with Hall of Fame pitching. So he's definitely in the Hall of What If. Along with Mark Pryor, Eric Davis, ...
   48. Walt Davis Posted: October 03, 2023 at 04:43 PM (#6143365)
You can probably play your way out of a first ballot selection (maybe Roberts or Hunter) or maybe from a BBWAA to a VC (Bunning? Cepeda?). Cepeda is a pretty good example I guess -- through 29, 5700 PA, 309/359/528, 142 OPS+, 1600 H, 268 HR (500 not really a thing yet), 7 AS, just won the MVP. But "just" 39 WAR so hardly incredible by that standard. That's got to be very close to "in." Just 3000 PA of 116 OPS+ left, came up short of 400 HR and 2500 H.

A general guess -- to be "in" at 30 (or 6000 PA or whatever), you have to have been playing at something like inner-circle level. I think only Dean, Koufax, Greenberg, J Robinson and Campanella (3 MVP) have actually done it that way ... and sorta Rivera but voters love closers so much he obviously didn't need to be THAT good in 1,000 innings.
   49. cardsfanboy Posted: October 04, 2023 at 04:33 AM (#6143456)
Except for Cabrera, calling these guys legends (let alone all-time legends) is a stretch at best. Wainwright's not making the HOF, and I think both Greinke and Votto will have to wait, if they get in at all.


Agree about the "all time" legends thing, pretty much every year a couple of guys of their stature retire or end their career. But I have no problem calling them legends, obviously Cabrera will walk into the hof, I think Greinke will also get in pretty easy and Votto maybe. Wainwright not a chance, and I'm fine with that.

At the same time, Wainwright will walk into the Cardinals hof, Votto into the Reds, Greinke into the Royals(probably even with that record) and Cabrera into the Marlins and Tigers team hof, that is legend material. Assuming baseball is around 100 years from now, all of these players will still be remembered by fans of their current team, even if it's just as a name on a wall.

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