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Friday, April 17, 2020

Hall of Fame case closed? These baseball legacies could suffer if MLB’s season is canceled

The 2020 Major League Baseball season is delayed, indefinitely, and it’s not at all certain to ever begin. It’s not clear when the country will be able to lift measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic, or how baseball could fit into the much larger puzzle of society this year.

With the season in question, there also come (less important, but nonetheless interesting) questions about how the history of the sport will reckon with the shortened slate or potential gap in action. Such as: Who in the game right now might eventually have their Hall of Fame case altered by the pandemic-stricken 2020 season?

There have been strikes, and players have left for military service, but missing games are missing games, and they will affect some more directly than others when legacies coalesce years down the line. With that in mind, the Yahoo Sports staff got together and explained why these Cooperstown hopefuls have the most riding on 2020. - Zach Crizer

A list that may be of interest to compare with the ones of Jay Jaffe’s I’ve linked to in the last few days.

 

QLE Posted: April 17, 2020 at 12:58 AM | 31 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dusty baker, hall of fame, jacob degrom, joey votto, josh donaldson, matt chapman, shortened season

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: April 17, 2020 at 02:26 AM (#5940904)
A reasonable list. Votto, Donaldson and deGrom already faced obvious hurdles in terms of being able to accumulate enough career playing time to make a can't miss HoF case so losing a year really hurts. In Votto's case, it may have been too late aleady. The other guy is Matt Chapman who got a late start (similar to those 3) and so will likely face a similar issue if he ever enters he debate.

The wild card entry is Dusty Baker which is an interesting point. I don't think missing the year really hurts his case but winning with the Astros this year probably would have sealed it. We'll have to see if the Astros' rep gets a reset in 2021 or will they still need Baker's integrity to protect them? At the moment I'll guess that if there is no 2020 season then Baker is back in 2021 if he wants to be.

Back to Chapman. Taking his DRS at face value, he's at 20 WAR in 2.5 seasons which is extra awesome. But from age 28 on, assuming at least half his games at 3B, he'll have to finish at least as well as Stan Hack with 40 WAR after age 27 which is 11th all-time for 3B. That's a tall order but other sterling defensive 3B have cleared that threshold -- Brooks, Nettles, Beltre, Schmidt -- and Rolen (38 WAR) didn't miss it by much despite all the missed time. But obviously he'd be in much better shape if he had 25-28 WAR through age 27.

But really, other than those right on the cusp like Votto, Donaldson and deGrom -- i.e. guys who probably weren't gonna end up woth a HOF level of playing time anyway, I don't think the missed year is going to matter much. There might be some guys who would have been first ballot except some voters forgot to adjust for the missed year but they'll be reminded by other voters and things will be set right.

Not that their chances were any good anyway but the cases for guys like Lester and Hamels are even weaker. Greinke might get caught by this. Just missing out on the 2015 CYA could be the key. But he still seems a good bet to make it to 3200+ innings and 225+ wins which is Schilling/Smoltz territory and I think he's safe if he makes it there.
   2. Ron J Posted: April 17, 2020 at 07:28 AM (#5940916)
Walt, I can't see Baker's rep protecting him. I can however see him being the primary face in an us against the world clubhouse. That might well serve to focus the bulk of the attention on him. I don't think he enjoys that kind of thing but it's something that has worked OK in the short run in the past.

If your point is that he'd at least partially insulate the players, we just disagree (slightly I think) on the mechanism. Not the outcome.
   3. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: April 17, 2020 at 10:13 AM (#5940990)
But from age 28 on, assuming at least half his games at 3B, he'll have to finish at least as well as Stan Hack with 40 WAR after age 27 which is 11th all-time for 3B. That's a tall order but other sterling defensive 3B have cleared that threshold -- Brooks, Nettles, Beltre, Schmidt -- and Rolen (38 WAR) didn't miss it by much despite all the missed time. But obviously he'd be in much better shape if he had 25-28 WAR through age 27.

Would even the 11th best major-league 3B career going forward be enough to get into the Hall of Fame? There are notoriously few 3B in the Hall of Fame. Looks like 17 now. 3 of whom are Negro League players not included in the stats we are comparing.

8 of the 17 retired before 1950, leaving 9 in the last 70 years. Plus Adrian Beltre I would guess. At least it's more than one per decade.
   4. SoSH U at work Posted: April 17, 2020 at 10:49 AM (#5941011)
Walt, I can't see Baker's rep protecting him. I can however see him being the primary face in an us against the world clubhouse. That might well serve to focus the bulk of the attention on him. I don't think he enjoys that kind of thing but it's something that has worked OK in the short run in the past.

If your point is that he'd at least partially insulate the players, we just disagree (slightly I think) on the mechanism. Not the outcome.


I think Walt's point* isn't that Dusty's reputation can protect the players from taking #### this year. It won't. What Dusty's reputation can do is guard the results from this year from skepticism. If the Astros were to have won another pennant this year, it would more likely be seen as being clean** because of Dusty's reputation.***

And if Dusty were to ring up another pennant with the Stros, I think that would move him into lock territory for the Hall.

*If not, it's mine.

** My guess is no matter who the Astros appointed manager, the club would likely play things straight in 2020 just because of the past offseason. But this is about perception.

***This is where having a veteran guy is relevant. Whatever his flaws, Dusty is seen as the traditional manager of the club, the guy in charge (you could say the same about your various Showalters and Girardis and Torres), not some weenie installed to act out whatever schemes the GM has. And given the powerlessness of Hinch in the Stros scandal, it was imperative to hire a legit manager in this situation.
   5. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: April 17, 2020 at 10:59 AM (#5941024)
I know what the fielding stats say, but "Matt Chapman, hall of famer" is a hard idea to wrap my head around. Donaldson and deGrom got started too late and didn't have a chance anyway. I actually think Votto is the one most hurt by it. He needs another star-quality year, and 2020 is basically his last chance for that.
   6. Ron J Posted: April 17, 2020 at 11:02 AM (#5941027)
#4 That's an interesting look at it. Hadn't really considered things in that light, being more focused on what he directly brings to the table,
   7. The Duke Posted: April 17, 2020 at 12:06 PM (#5941069)
Isn’t Dusty already a lock for the vets committees at some point? 40 WAR as a player, pretty managerial record, and a baseball insider. Basically he’s a slightly weaker version of Joe Torre but there really aren’t many like him and Torre. Excelling at two things (or three in the case of Torre) is pretty impressive.

Are there any other players like Torre and Baker who went on to good managing records? Most of them are already in the Hall: Schoendienst, f Robby, Hornsby, Frisch.

Who else ?
   8. bunyon Posted: April 17, 2020 at 12:07 PM (#5941070)
I think the Astros really lose out with either no 2020 or an asterisked 2020. If they could have put together another WS run under scrutiny, it would help restore some luster to their last few years.

Surely Baker is in already, right?
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: April 17, 2020 at 12:18 PM (#5941077)
Isn’t Dusty already a lock for the vets committees at some point? 40 WAR as a player, pretty managerial record, and a baseball insider. Basically he’s a slightly weaker version of Joe Torre but there really aren’t many like him and Torre. Excelling at two things (or three in the case of Torre) is pretty impressive.

Are there any other players like Torre and Baker who went on to good managing records? Most of them are already in the Hall: Schoendienst, f Robby, Hornsby, Frisch.

Who else ?


Those guys you mentioned didn't really get dual credit*. Torre was elected as a manager. Frank and Rogers and Frankie were good enough players that they would have gotten in without any games as a skipper.

Schoendienst seems like he might have been the combo platter guy, but he was specifically inducted as a player.

And without taking both halves of his career into account, I'm not sure he's safely in. His career is too indistinguishable from several of his peers (Lou Piniella, Jimmy Leyland, Mike Scioscia, Davey Johnson, while also sitting behind Bochy and Francona). It's possible, but I think he needs another pennant (or at least a fifth team in the playoffs) to push him past his comparables.

* For the record, I absolutely support such credit for Hall candidates. But there's not a lot of evidence Cooperstown agrees with me.

   10. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: April 17, 2020 at 12:22 PM (#5941081)
Are there any other players like Torre and Baker who went on to good managing records? Most of them are already in the Hall: Schoendienst, f Robby, Hornsby, Frisch.


In the modern era, there's Lou Piniella, Mike Scioscia and Davey Johnson.

I remember thinking Larry Dierker was on a Hall of Fame track if he kept up his career as a manager, getting extra points for his few years as a star pitcher, but he left the Astros job acrimoniously after 2001 and never managed again. I can't quite tell what he's been doing since 2001 actually. Not a regular announcing job.
   11. The Duke Posted: April 17, 2020 at 01:18 PM (#5941109)
I think Baker was a superior player to those guys and certainly a prolific manager unfortunately without much hardware to show for his efforts. Did Lehman’s play at all? piniella seems to be doing well with Vets and I think dusty is a stronger candidate.


I looked at Matheny - almost 1000 hits, 10+ years a key player, and negative career WAR. Has anyone over a 1000 hits turned in a career negative WAR? Still, if he were to win a World Series in Kansas City, he’s probably go in. 43 post season games and a pennant in STL and a win in KC might do it. He’s got a very high win percentage right now.
   12. Ron J Posted: April 17, 2020 at 01:25 PM (#5941114)
#10 I know he spent some time working for the Astros, but he cut his ties with the organisation a while back. And he wrote a book.
   13. RJ in TO Posted: April 17, 2020 at 01:30 PM (#5941122)
I looked at Matheny - almost 1000 hits, 10+ years a key player, and negative career WAR. Has anyone over a 1000 hits turned in a career negative WAR?
Tommy Dowd has the most hits for anyone with a WAR < 0 for their career, with 1493. For those with more than 1000 hits in their careers, the worst career WAR is Tommy Thevenow's -5.7.
   14. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: April 17, 2020 at 01:37 PM (#5941127)
For the record, I absolutely support such credit for Hall candidates. But there's not a lot of evidence Cooperstown agrees with me.


How about Scioscia? His manager stats are probably not good enough on their own, but 26 WAR as a catcher over 13 years is a nice kicker. Plus he has an interesting hook. 32 years as a player and manager, all in the same city.
   15. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: April 17, 2020 at 01:39 PM (#5941130)
As to the main subject, I wonder if anyone will give any credit to the lost season that was totally beyond the player's control, like WWII credit?
   16. RJ in TO Posted: April 17, 2020 at 01:46 PM (#5941132)
As to the main subject, I wonder if anyone will give any credit to the lost season that was totally beyond the player's control, like WWII credit?
Is it clear how much credit voters were really giving to players who lost time to WWII anyway? Johnny Mize had to wait until 1981 to get elected, Phil Rizzuto had to wait until 1994, Pee Wee Reese had to wait until 1984, and Joe Gordon had to wait to 2009. I'm sure there are some guys who got a bit of extra credit for losing time to the war, but most of the guys who got elected quickly were of the he was more than good enough, even before considering the lost seasons variety, like Williams, or Dimaggio, or Feller, and so on. Everyone else had to wait for decades.
   17. Rally Posted: April 17, 2020 at 03:13 PM (#5941166)
Harold Baines sort of got strike credit. His proponent argues that he would have had 3000 hits or gotten very close without the 81 and 94-95 strikes.

Players have at least some control over strikes, they have zero control over what's happening in 2020.
   18. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 17, 2020 at 03:14 PM (#5941168)

deGrom has more WAR (33.3) than a few HOF starters through age 31 (or 32, in the event there no 2020 season). His problem will be too few wins. (Randy Johnson had fewer WAR through age 31, but had 99 wins to deGrom's 66.)

I would say he still has a chance if voters completely abandon their reliance on the W, but either way he's only halfway to a HOF resume right now. Missing a season at the top of his game will hurt his case.
   19. Ron J Posted: April 17, 2020 at 03:27 PM (#5941171)
#18 a HOF case comparing player X to Randy Johnson through age 31 isn't quite as bad as one that compares him to Dazzy Vance through age 31, but ... Unit was among most successful pitchers of all time in his 30s and beyond.

Or to put it another way, deGrom has an excellent chance of making the hall by winning four Cy Youngs.
   20. PreservedFish Posted: April 17, 2020 at 03:31 PM (#5941174)
deGrom is pitching at an undoubted HOF level. Of course he has a chance.
   21. The Duke Posted: April 17, 2020 at 04:16 PM (#5941193)
#13.

I’m discounting The first guy because he is turn of the century. Second guy managed to get MVP votes in three different years. Third guy swipes 50 bases in his first four years and then goes 27-80! In his next five years. How much WAR did that cost him? Fourth guy turns in a -5 WAR in his 26-28 years. Goes to war and misses two years and then comes back at the age of 30 and plays slightly better than 0 WAR in his later years. Fifth guy is Kenny Reitz who I saw play a lot for St. Louis. Absolutely fantastic fielder at 3B, one of the best I’ve ever seen. He was nick-named “the Zamboni”. Only won one gold glove because of Doug radar and Mike Schmidt but on artificial turf he was the best I’ve seen. Can’t believe he’s negative WAR and that his dwar is so low. Chris Gomez was consistently bad - how did he hold down a job for so long? Bob Kennedy, same as Gomez, 20 years of bad, but he missed three prime years to the war which could have pulled him off this list. Jerry Morales was a terrible defensive OF but managed to get a lot of at bats with really bad teams. Next two are turn of the century, so I will ignore. And then we comes to Betancourt who generated a serviceable 4 WAR in his first three years before fooling several GMs into paying him $12 million over a number of years to deliver terrible results. He’s my hero.

matheny comes in at 17th but with three oldies on the list, Matheny is in the top 15 of worst ballplayers. Many would say he has outdone this on the managerial front but his record does not show this. I’m rooting for him to win a WS in KC and become, hands down, the worst HOF entrant
   22. cardsfanboy Posted: April 17, 2020 at 04:55 PM (#5941215)
matheny comes in at 17th but with three oldies on the list, Matheny is in the top 15 of worst ballplayers. Many would say he has outdone this on the managerial front but his record does not show this. I’m rooting for him to win a WS in KC and become, hands down, the worst HOF entrant


The hof has Whitey Herzog, a guy who probably set the record for most seasons following a post season appearance with a losing record for the same team.... Matheny could never be as bad of a manager as a guy like that.
   23. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: April 17, 2020 at 05:02 PM (#5941221)
deGrom is pitching at an undoubted HOF level. Of course he has a chance.


He's just too old. He just finished his age 31 season and he's about to miss his age 32 season. He's got 1100 career innings. Roy Halladay, who is the guy he'd hope his case could be modeled on, had 1650 more innings. To take the Halladay route he'd need that many innings from age 33-on. Give him 200 innings a year (last three years: 204, 217, 201). We're talking more than eight years to get there. Perhaps "doesn't have a chance" was an overbid, but his hall of fame case rests on being able to not only pitch at age 40, but to throw 200 innings. (And still tack on 50 more at age 41.) With no injuries between now and then.

And Halladay may have gotten some "what if" credit, since he was cut down by injuries while he was still one of the best pitchers in the game. If deGrom has to pitch into his 40s just to match Halladay, he's not going to get any "what if" credit.
   24. Walt Davis Posted: April 17, 2020 at 07:31 PM (#5941291)
SoSH hits it in #4. His primary value to the Astros is his reputation. As to 2020, nobody would have blamed Baker if the Astros flopped; he'd have received a ton of credit if he "guided them through all the turmoil" to win. Those articles write themselves. He's just on a one-year contract so possibly the Astros were hoping one season would be enough to burnish the reputation back to at least tolerable. They don't get that season but maybe folks will have cooled down by 2021 anyway so maybe they won't need Baker in 2021. Or maybe nothing has changed yet and they will need the image of integrity in 2021 again.

Chapman and the HoF ... sure, that's pretty much my point. Chapman is already off to a late start and, even if he ages reasonably well, is more likely to be Nettles or Boyer. (I did write he needed to do "at least as well" as 40 WAR.) But Brooks was a moderate-hitting great glove 3B at this age; Beltre was too (and he didn't even have a GG yet); Rolen just took a big jump in the voting and, with weakish ballots ahead, has a shot.

It's not like he's been doing this in complete obscurity. He already has 2 GG (and enough rep we might as well give him the next 2 right now), 1 AS and 2 top-10 MVP finishes.

deGrom ... I'm curious. I get the impression WAR is having an effect for position player HoF voting, it seems to me it's even sometimes cited by a voter. Are we seeing that for pitchers? Leaving aside the issues of comping to Randy Johnson, he's not just 33 wins shy of Johnson through 31, he's also 350 innings and 370 Ks behind him. deGrom needs 9 more seasons like he's had to get to 3000 Ks; he would at that point still be a bit shy of 3000 innings and 200 wins. As Ziggy notes, that's Halladay territory -- which will get him in but that's asking a lot of his 30s.

Now I do think that voters will have no choice but to become peak voters for SPs and that's why deGrom is even on the radar at this point. And he doesn't need to be as good as the Unit to make that threshold or even his recent self to make it to at least the border. Bob Gibson (36 WAR, 1700 IP, 104 wins after age 32) gets him in the conversation. Schilling is probably the best recent comp at 46 WAR, <1600 IP, 117 wins. Obviously we can't rule out late careers similar to Maddux or Carlton much less Dennis Martinez and those would probably get him in but those are all based on over 2000 IP and it's just hard to imagine a current SP pitching 200 innings a year through age 42. But deGrom is such an excellent pitcher that we can't rule out something like 3/4 of Clemens post-32 (45-50 WAR in 1800 IP) which I'm confident would be more than enough to get him in.

So I won't say it kills his chances to miss this year but missing out on 200 innings, 15 wins, 250 Ks, 6-8 WAR is a significant blow ... unless his arm needed a rest.

War credit ... Greenberg is the guy who seems to have received it. You never know -- he was a total stud so maybe that was enough to get him in but it was only 6100 PA and that's pretty much unheard of for the HoF (Campanella I think). He no doubt helped his case by smashing the ball after he returned, making it very easy to fill in the missing years. He missed 3.5 years which for him could have been 20 WAR, 120-140 HR and maybe he would have won a 3rd MVP. Still it took him a while and he saw a big jump when the voters finally decided DiMaggio had been retired long enough to elect ... and DiMaggio also missed time for the war so maybe that was considered precedent of some sort.

I think it's also hard to identify cases where players received Negro League credit from the writers. Doby was ignored by the writers, it can't have helped Minoso much, maybe Campanella was given credit but he also had 3 MVPs and the tragic end to his career. That's not really surprising ... guys who made the majors young wouldn't have had much time in the Negro Leagues to give credit for and guys who made the majors after long NeL careers would have been in their decline phase and not have the ML performance to be on the writer's ballot. That's mostly true for the war as well although at least it was possible for a player to have good ML performance before and after the war (and during obviously but those guys don't need war credit) and could conceivably still have a 12-15 year career with a 3-year hole in the middle.

An interesting comp for what we're going through now is Rico Carty. He got a late start (24). He missed all of ages 28 and 31 (one was a serious injury, one was a serious illness). We'll never know but he had a 161 OPS+ in his rookie year, followed that with 137 and 135. He slumped substantially at 27, missed 28 and part of 29, had OPS+s of 163 and 171 at 29-30, missed 31 and part of 32. He declined badly at 33, ended up in Mexico and slugged his way back and OPS+s over 140 for ages 34-36. Through age 36, it's a line of 308/379/471, 138 OPS+ ... but just 4690 PA over 13 years. That sort of performance over 13 years would usually put you around 7000-8000 PA and on the wrong side of the border but at least in a "if he pulls an Edgar or Ortiz in his late 30s, he might make it" sense. But at just 4700 PA, you're not even on the radar.

It's of course not a big deal to miss 600 PA or 200 IP out of a career ... unless it was going to be a short career anyway. It is a bigger deal if it's a prime year. (Carty was strictly a hitter, at most those 2 lost years cost him 8-10 WAR.) It's also unknown what effect a missed year will have on future performance. In theory, when not due to injury/illness, it shouldn't matter a whole lot. For some pitchers, it might even help.

But I'm reminded of a study that Szym (I think) did on how quickly a player's skills at an old position deteriorate when they switch to a new position. I recall it was incredibly quickly, like half a season. That is maybe you have an average-ish defensive 2B who you shift to 3B for whatever reason. You'd think that guy could just go back to 2B the next year if necessary -- but apparently not. I don't remember the details (and the sample size couldn't have been too large) but it suggests a full year away from any real games could have widespread negative effects.
   25. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: April 17, 2020 at 09:04 PM (#5941325)
but it suggests a full year away from any real games could have widespread negative effects.


Which will net out to zero, because everyone is going to suffer the same penalty.

... unless it was going to be a short career anyway.


Which is why most of the guys for whom this is an issue are of the got-a-late-start variety.
   26. PreservedFish Posted: April 17, 2020 at 09:10 PM (#5941327)
He's just too old. He just finished his age 31 season and he's about to miss his age 32 season. He's got 1100 career innings. Roy Halladay, who is the guy he'd hope his case could be modeled on, had 1650 more innings. To take the Halladay route he'd need that many innings from age 33-on. Give him 200 innings a year (last three years: 204, 217, 201). We're talking more than eight years to get there. Perhaps "doesn't have a chance" was an overbid, but his hall of fame case rests on being able to not only pitch at age 40, but to throw 200 innings. (And still tack on 50 more at age 41.) With no injuries between now and then.

And Halladay may have gotten some "what if" credit, since he was cut down by injuries while he was still one of the best pitchers in the game. If deGrom has to pitch into his 40s just to match Halladay, he's not going to get any "what if" credit.


If DeGrom keeps it up, he won't need the model of Halladay. He'll himself be the model for the next generation of starters, the guys that get cut off at 6 IP no matter how well they're pitching. Or maybe we just won't have HOF starters anymore.
   27. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 18, 2020 at 12:49 AM (#5941399)
Guys, I chose Johnson as the comparison because he had the fewest wins at age 31 among HOF starters. I could have compared to a number of other HOFers who had fewer WAR than deGrom at age 31 and were worse than Johnson in their 30s. Whitey Ford, Jack Morris, Jim Bunning, Catfish Hunter, to name a few of the top of my head without redoing the PI search. Johnson isn’t the bar for the HOF, he was just a helpful example of how far behind in terms of wins deGrom is.

I would certainly bet against him making the HOF and I would probably bet against him reaching 65 WAR, but I just wouldn’t call it impossible.
   28. RJ in TO Posted: April 18, 2020 at 02:30 AM (#5941421)
War credit ... Greenberg is the guy who seems to have received it. You never know -- he was a total stud so maybe that was enough to get him in but it was only 6100 PA and that's pretty much unheard of for the HoF (Campanella I think). He no doubt helped his case by smashing the ball after he returned, making it very easy to fill in the missing years. He missed 3.5 years which for him could have been 20 WAR, 120-140 HR and maybe he would have won a 3rd MVP. Still it took him a while and he saw a big jump when the voters finally decided DiMaggio had been retired long enough to elect ... and DiMaggio also missed time for the war so maybe that was considered precedent of some sort.
Greenberg might also have received more credit because he was the first major league player to register for the draft (in 1940), actually appealed a ruling from the draft board that classified him as 4F to instead get a classification that would deem him fit to serve, was inducted into the military in May of 1941, and then reenlisted in February of 1942 after being honorably discharged in late 1941 while apparently becoming the first major league player to volunteer. He was also the longest serving player in WWII.
   29. Red Menace Posted: April 18, 2020 at 11:33 AM (#5941520)
If we’re heading toward a no-touch Demolition Man future Dusty’s invention of the high five could hurt him.
   30. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 18, 2020 at 12:07 PM (#5941523)
I think it's also hard to identify cases where players received Negro League credit from the writers.


Monte Irvin.

Irvin must have been one of the most-respected players of his time. Someone threw him a down-ballot MVP vote in a year when he played 46 games.
   31. Walt Davis Posted: April 19, 2020 at 12:00 AM (#5941752)
Which will net out to zero, because everyone is going to suffer the same penalty.

I'm well aware of that argument. It is a relative one; a year away likely reduces the quality in an absolute sense. And there's no reason to assume that the effect would be universal nor constant across players. For example, we were already concerned with Vlad Jr's defense at 3B -- if a full year away from real game action (and it will really be 18 months) causes his defense to deteriorate even more, a move to 1B/DH might be necessary as early as 2021 ... and that might mean his bat will need to mature more quickly.

Which is why most of the guys for whom this is an issue are of the got-a-late-start variety.

Of which I'm well aware which I'd think was obvious given that's what my first post and 2/3 of the second post was about. The comment was included in case somebody was going to cite the first bit and say I was contradicting all the stuff I'd just written about the detriment of missing a year. It was by way of introducing the point that although a year away, in theory, won't matter for the HoF case of (e.g.) Soto, Acuna or Trout we do have to worry as to whether a year away will have a detrimental effect on the quality of their play. And, in a relative sense, that may not matter to Messrs Soto and Acuna for the next few years but eventually players whose careers weren't interrupted at such a critical time (e.g. this year's high school juniors) will be drafted, work their way through minors and possibly take jobs/playing time away from 2020 players whose skills eroded more rapidly than expected due to missing all of 2020.

Monte Irvin.

Huh? Irvin wasn't even voted on by the writers. He was inducted into the HoF by the Negro League committee which did indeed give credit for Negro League play!

Irvin must have been one of the most-respected players of his time. Someone threw him a down-ballot MVP vote in a year when he played 46 games.

MVP voting was crazy in those days or at least that year. 40 players in an 8 team league received at least one vote. Irvin did indeed get a down-ballot vote for just 126 AB But George Shuba got a down-ballot vote for just 256. Toby Atwell and George Malkovich both had fewer than 400 AB and received votes. Billy Cox hit 259/301/338 (and 0.1 WAR) in just 455 AB and got 8 points, finishing tied for 23rd. Frank Baumholtz of the Cubs had a nice season but just 409 AB and finished 17th. Way ahead of their time, the voters gave plenty of votes to Murry Dickson (13th) despite his 14-21 record and 3.57 ERA cuz they were impressed with his 5.3 WAR. Also ahead of their time, reliever Joe Black finished 3rd on 142 innings; Wilhelm 4th on just 159.

So it's hard to say that Irvin's down-ballot vote stood out particularly and doubly difficult to say why he received it.

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