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Monday, November 16, 2020

Hall of Fame releases 2021 ballot

While the 2021 ballot announced Monday features former All-Stars such as Torii Hunter, Tim Hudson, Mark Buehrle and Barry Zito, none of its first-timers is an obvious Hall of Famer. The crowded crush of Cooperstown-caliber cases that voting members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America were presented with in recent years has cleared, and that creates breathing room—and potentially large percentage increases—for the ballot’s hopeful holdovers, notably Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Omar Vizquel.

BBWAA voters, who have addressed the ballot congestion by voting in 13 players in the past four years, must submit their votes by year’s end. The results will be revealed on Tuesday, Jan. 26, on MLB Network.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 16, 2020 at 12:18 PM | 181 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame

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   101. SoSH U at work Posted: November 17, 2020 at 05:35 PM (#5989417)
On Pettitte: I don’t see a peak of 8.4 WAR, I see that as a single season in a long career of being very good but , the vast majority of the time, not great. In addition to that season he has only two others where he pitched like a HOF. This leads to a WAR7 which is 32% below average for his position. Now if you don’t care much about peak, you’re content with a long career of very good and you give him credit for an exceptional amount of postseason innings, all of which are entirely reasonable positions, he’s a fine candidate. For me the lack of peak, and my tendency to give very little postseason credit, he’s not an attractive candidate. Just my .02


I mentioned the 8.4 in the context of Buehrle and Hudson, the two people around him on the ballot now. He's got a slightly higher peak (say 3 seasons) than Hudson and a much higher peak than Buehrle.

He's not a peak candidate. But he's also not a Sutton (the extreme compiler) or Buehrle (the modern version) who never even had a season like that. That was the point. He wasn't peakless.
   102. Sweatpants Posted: November 17, 2020 at 05:39 PM (#5989418)
That 8.4-WAR season for Pettitte has him getting a lot of credit for pitching in front of a terrible defense. Looking at his BABIP and FIP vs. ERA, it's not clear that his fielders actually hurt him, though.

I'd say that Sutton had several seasons in the ballpark of that one. Buehrle probably not.
   103. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: November 17, 2020 at 05:47 PM (#5989420)
I know the game has changed a ton in the last 40-50 years, but in the same time span (peak 10 years), he had 112 more complete games, and 31 more shutouts - and made three more ASGs, and pitched 661 more innings over that decade. All of that has to be worth something - Blue basically threw three additional 220 inning seasons during the same 10-year length of time relative to Pettitte at above-average levels. That is crazy.

The '96-'05 span includes two seasons where Pettitte was injured and missed time; he had 22 starts in '02 and 15 in '04. Blue had a 23-start season in '72 but apart from that was healthy for his selected decade. The difference in injury accounts for probably at least 20% of the innings difference.

Also, as has been noted upthread, comparing raw volume stats across eras is not necessarily ideal. (That being said, even if you adjust for era, regular-season volume isn't necessarily a strong point for Pettitte; he has only two top-10 seasons in IP, to Blue's 5.)
   104. alilisd Posted: November 17, 2020 at 05:54 PM (#5989424)
He actually is peakless. He had 5.6 the season before his outlier of 8.4, and then 7 straight seasons without even a 4 WAR year. Note the WAR7 which is 32% below average. While his JAWS score is 91st, WAR7 is 170th. Sure Buehrle never had an outlier like that but he had more HOF caliber seasons than Pettitte. I’d give Buehrle 5 to Pettittes 3, plus another 3 better than Pettitte next best season. Not arguing for Buehrle necessarily but claiming Pettitte has a peak, or a better peak, because he had one unusually high season is just wrong
   105. SoSH U at work Posted: November 17, 2020 at 06:07 PM (#5989428)

He actually is peakless. He had 5.6 the season before his outlier of 8.4, and then 7 straight seasons without even a 4 WAR year. Note the WAR7 which is 32% below average. While his JAWS score is 91st, WAR7 is 170th. Sure Buehrle never had an outlier like that but he had more HOF caliber seasons than Pettitte. I’d give Buehrle 5 to Pettittes 3, plus another 3 better than Pettitte next best season. Not arguing for Buehrle necessarily but claiming Pettitte has a peak, or a better peak, because he had one unusually high season is just wrong


That's certainly one way of looking at it. Another is that Pettitte had 20.8 WAR in his three best seasons to Buehrle's 17.4, was up 24.6-22.4 in his four best and 28.2-27 in his five. Your way of measuring basically ignores the great season.

Obviously, a lot of this is definitional (and, I long ago lost the argument that peak should be consecutive). But Petttite at his best was much better than Buehrle at his best, even if Buehrle caught and passed him when comparing the two pitchers' primes.
   106. Walt Davis Posted: November 17, 2020 at 10:19 PM (#5989475)
Also, as has been noted upthread, comparing raw volume stats across eras is not necessarily ideal.

I was one of those arguing but I want to clarify. We won't see career totals like that again so comparing Pettitte to Fergie or Sutton or Perry's totals is ... not necessarily moot but we know how it turns out. But I am perfectly fine with comparing directly Pettitte's career to the best (consecutive?) 3300ish innings of some durable guy. That one might be 12 seasons and the other 16 doesn't concern me much although it's obviously problematic for WAR7 -- WAR7 for Pettitte is, what, 1500 innings; for Fergie probably about 2000. Career WAA comparisons are problematic for all sorts of reasons but might be a quick and dirty way to look at these guys too.

No doubt influenced by the 70s being my baseball fan infancy, I am a bit old school on pitchers because I'm used to great pitchers throwing heaps of innings. But I also think average innings-eating is in some (undefinable?) sense more important than average position-playing (which I also think is important). Don Sutton's extra 1800 innings (or whatever) were probably not awesome but that's a whopping 9 seasons worth in Pettitte's era, that's a gap. But as I copped to earlier, I put Pettitte in the no-HoF bucket a long time ago so I might just be inventing reasons to keep him out.

I long ago lost the argument that peak should be consecutive

I'm more with you than against you. If there was an easy way to look past injury seasons or to take "best 8 out of 10 consecutive" or "best 10 out of 13", that would be great. But you also lost the argument in part because b-r gives us WAR7 nice and easy and WAR7 doesn't do consecutive. I also think consecutive is even more problematic for pitchers -- both the higher injury risk but also because pitchers just seem flightier. Even Seaver's ERA+ had a run of 194, 115, 175, 112. Man averaged a 148 for 3 seasons before the 194, a 140 for 3 years after the 112 and even a 136 at age 40. (Of couurse that 4-year run averaged a 143 so not a big deal in the aggregate.) I could also see an Olympic-skating style (old-school) where it was say 9 consecutive years with the top and bottom tossed.
   107. Walt Davis Posted: November 17, 2020 at 10:23 PM (#5989476)
Like I said, not sure I'd use career WAA here but FWIW: Fergie 42, Pettitte 30, Sutton 23. Sutton doesn't seem to have been hurt particularly by his early or later years -- it was still 23 WAA for a 3600-ish inning stretch in the middle.
   108. bjhanke Posted: November 18, 2020 at 05:59 AM (#5989488)
Rabbit Maranville's candidacy comes from 1) being one of the four shortstops in history who can actually compete for the best defensive shortstop ever (George Wright, Honus, Rabbit, Ozzie Smith), and 2) playing forever (Vizquel played 162-game seasons)

Luis Aparicio's consists of 1) being perhaps the best defensive shortstop of his time and 2) lots of stolen bases

Ozzie Smith's consists of 1) being one of The Four and 2) being a better hitter then is normally thought

Vizquel has Luis Aparicio's 1, but not his 2 or anyone else's 1, much less the 2.

Fun with PED mouth-frothers: I have in mind a player who established a hitting value for his first years, and then spent an off-season with a "personal Trainer", and then returned at a higher hitting value. Sound like a PED case to you? Well, guess whose career I'm talking about. ... It's Ozzie Smith's. Ozzie, after the 1984 season, spent the offseason with Mackie Shilstone, a known personal trainer, and then came back as a better hitter. Yeah, when you clamor to throw Ozzie out of the Hall, then I'll listen to you about Bonds, Clemens and McGwire.
   109. Rally Posted: November 18, 2020 at 08:27 AM (#5989490)
On Andy being peakless: in 2002, his average fastball was 89 mph. It was exactly the same in 2002, the first year Fangraphs has data, and probably not much different before that based on the scouting reports I can find. In between it was within 1 mph from that average just about every year.

Compare that to Clemens, he went from 93 in 2002 to 90 in 2007. And had at least hit the 100 mph mark earlier in his career. Every pitcher loses velocity as they age, except Andy.
   110. Ron J Posted: November 18, 2020 at 08:34 AM (#5989492)
#108 Maranville's weird. You can see he had an outsized defensive rep from the MVP voting while he was active. And I think he was helped by the poor record keeping of the day. Without clear records (and an understanding of the offensive context he played in) it's easy to make a superficial, not that bad a hitter, probably best defensive player in history.

And his enormous popularity means that nobody would be terribly motivated to look closely.

As I recall, he had somebody very influential pushing his candidacy.
   111. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 18, 2020 at 09:12 AM (#5989495)

As I recall, he had somebody very influential pushing his candidacy.


Who was that? Not Frisch, Maranville was BBWA not VC. He also died a few weeks before his election. If his illness was generally known, that could have played a big part.
   112. BDC Posted: November 18, 2020 at 09:14 AM (#5989496)
Maranville got a lot of credit for the success of the 1914 Miracle Braves, Aparicio for the '59 White Sox and the '66 Orioles, Smith for the Herzog Cardinals. Vizquel of course also played on two pennant-winners, but he got MVP votes in neither year, and as I remember those Indians clubs he was seen as just another contributor, not central to their success. This is all narrative, and if a few baseballs had bounced differently in 1995 and '97 the narrative might change. But it does (in part) explain why the earlier three are in the HOF.
   113. Ron J Posted: November 18, 2020 at 09:23 AM (#5989501)
#111 Wasn't Frisch. I want to say a major publisher but I'm honestly blanking on this one right now.
   114. Rally Posted: November 18, 2020 at 09:24 AM (#5989502)
probably best defensive player in history.


At the time he was inducted, might have been true. Willie Mays was still early in his career. Belanger, Aparicio, and Robinson hadn't even started their careers, and Ozzie Smith was a newborn baby.
   115. Ron J Posted: November 18, 2020 at 09:35 AM (#5989505)
Also I do recall one of the arguments used to "prove" Maranville was a better hitter than generally recalled. RBI leader on a world championship team.

Which happens to be true and obviously misleading in that the team had only three guys with 600+ PAs and none of the others topped 500. And Evers batted second leaving the competition between him and Schmidt. More rbis than Butch Schmidt is a slightly less impressive seeming feat.

(And yes, this is the type of argument made back then when talking "statistics")
   116. DanG Posted: November 18, 2020 at 09:42 AM (#5989509)
Here's a brief narrative examining the sort of impact player that Omar Vizquel was:

The year that the Indians broke through to contention was the strike year 1994, Omar's first with the Tribe. They achieved this despite the disappointing performance of their new shortstop. The team was 8-6 when Vizquel went down with an injury. During his seven-week absence, the team did just fine with Alvaro Espinoza at short, 25-19. For the year, Omar shows as a below average player.

In 1995, the Indians surged to their first World Series in 41 years, despite another below average year from Vizquel, who also had a poor postseason. Finally, Omar hit his stride and put together a solid five-year stretch, averaging 3.8 WAR from 1996-2000. His 1999 season looks strange, as at age 32 he had a season head and shoulders above every other year in his long career. Unfortunately for Vizquel, it was the height of the sillyball era, so his season attracted little notice. And then he reverted to form in the postseason as the Tribe was bounced out in the first round.

In 2001 Omar's performance nosedived but the Indians won the division despite that. Then from 2002-04 Vizquel was back to his normal 3-WAR level, but his presence did not prevent the Tribe's decline below .500 all three years. After 2004 the Indians decided to retool and they let Omar go FA. With Jhonny Peralta having an excellent year at short the team immediately sprang back into contention.

Meanwhile, the Giants signed Vizquel, (4 yrs, $17 million) aiming to continue their streak of five straight 90-plus win seasons. The team immediately fell below .500 in all four seasons of Omar's tenure with them. When the Giants let him go after 2008 the team immediately sprang back into contention.

The bottom line is that Omar Vizquel was never the linchpin that his team's performance turned upon. He was never his team's best player in any season, or even 2nd best. Omar was usually a solid performer but he had only one all-star type season and actually had some poor seasons (94-95-01) in the middle of his prime years.
   117. bachslunch Posted: November 18, 2020 at 10:11 AM (#5989516)
FWIW, none of Aparicio, Maranville, or Vizquel are in the HoM, and there's no danger of that ever changing. None have appeared on anyone's ballots, best to my knowledge.

The SSs one encounters on some HoM ballots include Phil Rizzuto, Bert Campaneris, Vern Stephens, Joe Tinker, Dave Bancroft, and Nomar Garciaparra. I have Jim Fregosi and Aparicio in two of my 16-40 off-ballot slots along with Tinker and Campaneris; Stephens makes my ballot consistently in a lower position. I think Davy Concepcion has appeared in low ballot positions in past. Rizzuto may have the best chance of election, but he has been consistently placing in the 20-25 rank when votes are counted, so I'm not holding my breath.

Neither Maranville nor Vizquel are on anybody's HoM radar.
   118. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: November 18, 2020 at 10:31 AM (#5989520)
I remember something flipped with Omar Vizquel and people thought he was a future Hall of Famer when he was still a starting shortstop at age 37, then 38, then 39, then 40. Then he started 80 games at 41. Then he was still able to play shortstop at age 45. That was his accomplishment. You can't stick around that long without being a legendary player, right? Unless you're a relief pitcher or backup catcher. That's a heuristic that USUALLY works.

On the other hand, why didn't Julio Franco get any HoF votes?
   119. Ron J Posted: November 18, 2020 at 10:54 AM (#5989527)
#118 They wanted to make sure he was actually out of the game. Didn't want a Guy Lafleur situation (active player and member of HOF)
   120. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: November 18, 2020 at 11:13 AM (#5989535)
From #106:

No doubt influenced by the 70s being my baseball fan infancy, I am a bit old school on pitchers because I'm used to great pitchers throwing heaps of innings. But I also think average innings-eating is in some (undefinable?) sense more important than average position-playing (which I also think is important). Don Sutton's extra 1800 innings (or whatever) were probably not awesome but that's a whopping 9 seasons worth in Pettitte's era, that's a gap. But as I copped to earlier, I put Pettitte in the no-HoF bucket a long time ago so I might just be inventing reasons to keep him out.


This is a part of why I think bringing up starters from eras gone by (especially the Expansion Era forward, as compared to, say, 19th century handlebar mustache times) is generally relevant when talking about the candidacy of somebody like Pettitte.

Often, people make the argument that you can't compare pitchers of the 60s, 70s, and even early 80s to today's pitchers because it just isn't like that anymore. But we are not talking about the evolution of living creatures over millions of years or something, where the physical characteristics actually changed. We are talking about pitchers who (in many cases) pitched into the mid-to-late 1980s, compared with pitchers whose careers generally started in the 1990s or early 2000s. Sure, the managers treated the pitchers different in 2010 vs 1975, but Hall of Fame voters aren't supposed to vote based on what they believe a pitcher would have done if he'd been allowed to throw more than 110 pitches once in a while.

We certainly don't do this with position players. For example, Bill James used to bring up Cliff Johnson as somebody who took forever to get a chance to play every day, despite the fact it was pretty obvious the guy could hit a baseball better than most players. Jose Cruz was a higher-profile example. Very few voters would argue that because an excellent player didn't get the chance to be on the field as often as he could/should have been that the standards should change, or that some kind of exception should be made. It is based on what you did - not based on what you could have done.

But we seem to be poised to do that for pitchers. Tommy John is not in the Hall of Fame (got up to 32% in his last year on the ballot in 2009), and there isn't a ton of public outcry for this to change, either. It is difficult to pick his "peak", as his career was long, he had the most famous surgery in sports history in the middle of it, etc., but the best part of his career is almost certainly 1965-1982 (he missed all of 1975 with the surgery, and obviously struggled upon his return in 1976). There is also a strike at the end of this stretch, a year that was on track to be one of his best. Here it is:

235-160, 3.03 ERA, 549 games, 518 GS, 3,595 IP, 143 CGs, 43 SHOs, ERA+ 118

FWIW, he also appeared in 12 postseason games during this stretch, 11 of them starts. In those 12 games, he was pretty darned good: 5-2, 2.25 ERA, 3 CGs and a shutout.

This compares pretty well with Andy Pettitte's entire career. Look at them side-by-side:
John's peak: 235-160, 3.03 ERA, 549 games, 518 GS, 3,595 IP, 143 CGs, 43 SHOs, ERA+ 118
Pettitte's career: 256-153, 3.85 ERA, 531 games, 521 starts, 3,316 IP, 26 CGs, 4 SHOs, ERA+ 117

John's peak includes fewer wins (21 fewer wins in 3 fewer starts), but John played for some pretty bad teams early in this period. John also definitely pitched better in his post-season opportunities than Pettitte did in this comparison.

So I am arguing that the value of John's "peak" and Pettitte's entire career aren't that different. Maybe you think that is selling Pettitte short - fine.

Then, what do you do with the fact that John also added 53-71, 211 games, 182 GS, 4.34 ERA, 1,115.1 IP, 19 CGs, 3 SHOs, ERA+ 93?

It's not great, but it is 1,115 league-average innings beyond a "peak" of his career which is not very different from Pettitte's whole career.

The extra innings John threw at the ages of 20-21, and 40-46 (!) were a little below league-average, but they included 19 CGs and 3 SHOs...while Pettitte's entire career had only 26 CGs and 4 SHOs! And none of this includes the extra 279 IP John threw during his "peak" relative to Pettitte's entire career, at the same ERA+ as Pettitte's career ERA+.

And, of course, this doesn't even include the contribution John made as a guinea pig, at the extreme risk of his career, with a groundbreaking surgery.

All of this is to say:
1) The way the game is managed may be different from 40-50 years ago, but that doesn't mean we should give today's pitchers credit for innings they don't pitch. There are a number of guys who are not in the HOF - in many cases, who didn't even come close to the HOF - who threw significantly more innings than Pettitte, and those innings are valuable. People are physiologically the same as 40-50 years ago - it is the choices being made about how to use pitchers that is changing, and the way pitchers are throwing that may be changing. If Tommy John threw almost 300 more innings in the peak of his career than Pettitte did for his whole career, with virtually the same ERA+, then added 1,115 slightly-below-league-average innings around that, how is that not better?

2) If Tommy John (and Jim Kaat, and Luis Tiant, and Rick Reuschel, and David Wells, and Chuck Finley, and Vida Blue, and blah, blah) can't get close to the HOF, how the heck would Andy Pettitte get in?

3) The PED stuff doesn't diminish Pettitte in my eyes a bit, but if Manny Ramirez - one of the greatest right-handed hitters in history - can't break 28% after four tries on the ballot, then I do not understand how Andy Pettitte could get 10%.

I genuinely feel like Pettitte is a "slippery slope" candidate. If he gets in, there are a whole lot of other pitchers that haven't been considered serious candidates, many with much stronger peaks, and pretty similar career WARs, that suddenly become difficult to justify keeping out: David Cone, Bret Saberhagen, Chuck Finley, Tommy John, Kevin Brown, Frank Tanana, Tim Hudson, Dave Stieb, etc.

   121. DL from MN Posted: November 18, 2020 at 11:29 AM (#5989543)
become difficult to justify keeping out: David Cone, Bret Saberhagen, Chuck Finley, Tommy John, Kevin Brown, Frank Tanana, Tim Hudson, Dave Stieb, etc.


Kevin Brown is way better than Andy Pettitte. That said, I'm fine with inducting most of those guys. Beats inducting closers.
   122. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 18, 2020 at 11:45 AM (#5989546)
Kevin Brown is way better than Andy Pettitte.

Brown is just completely unmemorable. He's probably my most forgotten good player when doing Sporcle quizzes. Just no hook at all.
   123. SoSH U at work Posted: November 18, 2020 at 11:45 AM (#5989547)

All of this is to say:
1) The way the game is managed may be different from 40-50 years ago, but that doesn't mean we should give today's pitchers credit for innings they don't pitch. There are a number of guys who are not in the HOF - in many cases, who didn't even come close to the HOF - who threw significantly more innings than Pettitte, and those innings are valuable. People are physiologically the same as 40-50 years ago - it is the choices being made about how to use pitchers that is changing, and the way pitchers are throwing that may be changing. If Tommy John threw almost 300 more innings in the peak of his career than Pettitte did for his whole career, with virtually the same ERA+, then added 1,115 slightly-below-league-average innings around that, how is that not better?

2) If Tommy John (and Jim Kaat, and Luis Tiant, and Rick Reuschel, and David Wells, and Chuck Finley, and Vida Blue, and blah, blah) can't get close to the HOF, how the heck would Andy Pettitte get in?

3) The PED stuff doesn't diminish Pettitte in my eyes a bit, but if Manny Ramirez - one of the greatest right-handed hitters in history - can't break 28% after four tries on the ballot, then I do not understand how Andy Pettitte could get 10%.

I genuinely feel like Pettitte is a "slippery slope" candidate. If he gets in, there are a whole lot of other pitchers that haven't been considered serious candidates, many with much stronger peaks, and pretty similar career WARs, that suddenly become difficult to justify keeping out: David Cone, Bret Saberhagen, Chuck Finley, Tommy John, Kevin Brown, Frank Tanana, Tim Hudson, Dave Stieb, etc.

I'll counter with this. No one here, as far as I recall, has said that Andy Pettitte should be a lock for the Hall. Just that he's on the borderline and we would vote for him.

Why?

Well, for starters, he's on the borderline. He's a 60 WAR pitcher by BBRef, which is the kind of number that typically puts you in the conversation for Hall consideration.

Second, while he's definitely a low-peak pitcher, he also adds unparalleled postseason bulk, performed at better than his normal levels. For some of us, this adds to his case.

Third, by an entirely different, but well-established, system of value measurement, he ranks much higher. In fact, he's the 33rd ranked starting pitcher in history by Fangraphs, and puts quite a bit of distance between him and some of those other guys you mentioned.

Fourth, I'm sure many of us who support Pettitte also support Rich Reuschel and Luis Tiant and Tommy John and Kevin Brown (even though Kevin Brown is a really rancid dude), so our support of Andy Pettitte is not inconsistent. We believe more starting pitchers should be in the Hall (and, as mentioned above, many fewer relievers).

Finally, many of those guys you mention should be in the conversation. Like Pettitte, they are borderliners. By definition, from that group, some will make it and some won't. But any of their elections (aside from Vida Blue, who is not a very good candidate), won't serve as some slippery slope the way the election of a Jim Rice or Goose Gossage or Jack Morris or Hal Baines theoretically could, but never actually does.

I find the lengths you and a few others are going to here to dispute the idea that an obvious borderline candidate such as Andy Pettitte is, in fact, a borderline candidate, to be really bizarre.
   124. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 18, 2020 at 11:57 AM (#5989555)
but if Manny Ramirez - one of the greatest right-handed hitters in history - can't break 28% after four tries on the ballot, then I do not understand how Andy Pettitte could get 10%.

Manny only leads Pettitte in WAR 69-60; defense counts too. He also failed multiple PED tests in a much more public and laughable way than Pettitte, and apparently was a lousy person to boot.
   125. SoSH U at work Posted: November 18, 2020 at 12:04 PM (#5989560)
Manny only leads Pettitte in WAR 69-60; defense counts too. He also failed multiple PED tests in a much more public and laughable way than Pettitte, and apparently was a lousy person to boot.


Also, Manny's getting much greater support than Pettitte.

How is that line of reasoning any different than saying: How can Manny get more than a quarter of the vote when one of the greatest position players of all time can barely crack 60 percent?

   126. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: November 18, 2020 at 02:17 PM (#5989589)
Manny only leads Pettitte in WAR 69-60; defense counts too. He also failed multiple PED tests in a much more public and laughable way than Pettitte, and apparently was a lousy person to boot.


Say whatever you want about Manny and PED's or whatever, but isn't 70WAR pretty much lock for HOF-worthiness? Are there any players out there with 70WAR where the general consensus is they are even on the line? That last 10 WAR matters a lot.
   127. DanG Posted: November 18, 2020 at 02:37 PM (#5989592)
Are there any players out there with 70WAR where the general consensus is they are even on the line?
Rick Reuschel (69.5) is probably borderline or worse for most.

Lou Whitaker (75.1) can't get a spot on the Eras Committee ballot.
   128. SoSH U at work Posted: November 18, 2020 at 02:39 PM (#5989593)
Lou Whitaker (75.1) can't get a spot on the Eras Committee ballot.


Whitaker was on the last ballot. He got 37.5 percent of the vote. Grich, however, can't get on a ballot.

   129. Rally Posted: November 18, 2020 at 03:02 PM (#5989600)
Scott Rolen had 70 WAR, he’s at 35% after 3 years so might be able to make it.

Lofton, Nettles, and Dewey Evans were just under 70 and none ever reached 15% on the HOF ballot.
   130. The Yankee Clapper Posted: November 18, 2020 at 03:07 PM (#5989601)
The PED stuff doesn't diminish Pettitte in my eyes a bit, but if Manny Ramirez - one of the greatest right-handed hitters in history - can't break 28% after four tries on the ballot, then I do not understand how Andy Pettitte could get 10%.
Manny is in a different category for many since he failed multiple PED tests - a bright line distinguishing him from what went on during the earlier ’anything goes’ era. Luckily for Pettitte, others seem to firmly occupy the top Public Enemy slots, so he’s never attracted that much attention, and he may also benefit from being involved with HGH, rather than steroids, under circumstances that suggest healing rather than enhancing existing performance. Certainly some in the anti-PED camp may still have a problem with Pettitte, but it shouldn’t surprise that there’s less chatter about him than Manny, whose documented PED use is generally conceded to be the only thing keeping him out of the HOF.
   131. Kiko Sakata Posted: November 18, 2020 at 03:36 PM (#5989605)
he failed multiple PED tests


Speaking of failing multiple PED tests, word on Twitter is that Robinson Cano failed a test and will be suspended for the entire 2021 season. He was probably going to be borderline anyway, but might have made for some interesting HOF debate when he finally made the ballot. Now, probably not so much.
   132. RJ in TO Posted: November 18, 2020 at 03:51 PM (#5989612)
Speaking of failing multiple PED tests, word on Twitter is that Robinson Cano failed a test and will be suspended for the entire 2021 season. He was probably going to be borderline anyway, but might have made for some interesting HOF debate when he finally made the ballot. Now, probably not so much.
Absent the positive tests, he would have cruised in. With only the first positive test, he was all but doomed with the BBWAA. With two positive tests, he's going to have to wait to see if he encounters an unusually generous VC many years from now.
   133. alilisd Posted: November 18, 2020 at 04:03 PM (#5989621)
But Petttite at his best was much better than Buehrle at his best, even if Buehrle caught and passed him when comparing the two pitchers' primes.


OK, for one season :-)
   134. John Northey Posted: November 18, 2020 at 04:28 PM (#5989632)
First time in years I haven't been going 'too many to fit into a 10 man ballot'. Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, Rolen should all have been in awhile ago. Manny Ramirez I can see keeping off a ballot due to his multiple times testing positive (Bonds & Clemens never did). Squinting I could give a spot to Jones, Helton, and Kent (most HR for a 2B awhile ago, not sure if he still holds that) while seeing cases for Sammy Sosa (never caught other than a corked bat but...), Andy Pettitte (marginal without drugs), and Gary Sheffield (excellent player, but drugs and attitude kill his prospects). So 11 I'd seriously consider, but just 4 who I see as 'no doubters'.
   135. SoSH U at work Posted: November 18, 2020 at 06:25 PM (#5989677)
OK, for one season :-)


You like the Electoral College style of measuring peak. I prefer the popular vote.

   136. alilisd Posted: November 19, 2020 at 10:42 AM (#5989892)
Squinting I could give a spot to Jones, Helton


I just don't understand the resistance to Helton. There's no need to squint to see him as a legit HOF 1B. From 2000-2005 his OPS+ was 158, an excellent peak as a hitter, and he was a superior fielder, which although not typically an emphasis for 1B is nonetheless part of his value as a baseball player. The same span shows him with 42 WAR in those seasons, an average of 7 per season. His peak is comparable to McCovey, albeit shaped differently, as is his career value. Better peak than Murray. Better peak than Killebrew. Unless one is ignoring defense, and unwilling to consider other than a 500 HR slugger for 1B, Helton is an easily qualified candidate it seems to me.
   137. alilisd Posted: November 19, 2020 at 10:47 AM (#5989893)
You like the Electoral College style of measuring peak. I prefer the popular vote.


Ouch! OK, how about three consecutive years? I think you said above you liked consecutive peak better than scattered seasons. So Pettitte gets 16.9 from 2005-2007 and Buerhle gets 15.9 from 2007-2009, pretty darn close given the precision of WAR, and Buehrle was likely a better fielder, although it seems Pettitte was pretty good as well. But I'll conceded on the popular vote as that 8.4 is pretty darn impressive.
   138. SoSH U at work Posted: November 19, 2020 at 11:18 AM (#5989902)
Ouch! OK, how about three consecutive years? I think you said above you liked consecutive peak better than scattered seasons. So Pettitte gets 16.9 from 2005-2007 and Buerhle gets 15.9 from 2007-2009, pretty darn close given the precision of WAR, and Buehrle was likely a better fielder, although it seems Pettitte was pretty good as well. But I'll conceded on the popular vote as that 8.4 is pretty darn impressive.


If I had my druthers, we'd either restrict peak discussions to consecutive seasons or find a new term to describe those non-consecutive seasons. And yes, on a consecutive basis, there's no difference between the two.


   139. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 19, 2020 at 11:37 AM (#5989907)
Has anyone ever actually had their druthers and acted accordingly?
   140. BDC Posted: November 19, 2020 at 11:40 AM (#5989908)
The closest career by OPS+ and PA to Todd Helton's is HOF/HOM Al Simmons', and they are very close indeed, though Simmons had somewhat more defensive value. The other guys who are close are a mixed bag Halls-wise.

Player         dWAR   PA OPSRbaser  HR  RBI   BA      Pos
Sammy Sosa     
-0.3 9896  128  -14.4 609 1667 .273  *98D/H7
Al Simmons     
-1.1 9519  133   12.6 307 1828 .334  *78/H93
John Olerud    
-1.4 9063  129  -23.3 255 1230 .295     *3DH
Fred Clarke    
-2.8 9839  133   -1.2  67 1015 .312 *7/H9685
Goose Goslin   
-4.7 9829  128   11.1 248 1612 .316 *79H/835
Todd Helton    
-5.0 9453  133  -13.1 369 1406 .316  *3/H7D9
Jim Rice       
-8.0 9058  128    4.8 382 1451 .298  *7D/9H8 


Provided by Stathead.com: View Stathead Tool Used
Generated 11/19/2020.
   141. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: November 19, 2020 at 11:47 AM (#5989912)
I think Kevin Brown's hook is he was the ace of two World Series teams, the 1997 Marlins and the 1998 Padres. Complicating this is he wasn't very good in the actual World Series and those teams were the Marlins and the Padres.

He never otherwise got to the playoffs except for the 2004 Yankees when he was truly disastrous in the Red Sox series.

He was a great pitcher on the Rangers for a while, and they won about 80 games every year.

He was a great pitcher on the Dodgers for a while, and they won about 80 games every year.

So close to having a "narrative".
   142. SoSH U at work Posted: November 19, 2020 at 12:14 PM (#5989921)
Brown was definitely hurt by being at his best in the smaller locations and pitching worse at the larger ones (which isn't exactly accurate. He was quite good in LA, but he was the game's highest-paid pitcher and the team was mediocre throughout, so he didn't get credit for that).

On top of that, he lost the Cy he deserved in 1996 to Smoltz and another he could have gotten in 1998 to Maddux (by WAR, that was actually his best season, but at the time it wasn't regarded as obviously superior to Maddux's year).

Finally, he's kind of an awful guy, so, that probably didn't help.
   143. Booey Posted: November 19, 2020 at 12:19 PM (#5989924)
Re: Helton - I wouldn't be opposed to him getting elected; he's in my "I don't care one way or the other" camp along with (on this ballot) Pettitte, Jones, and Kent. He does have a very impressive peak, although it's shorter than you'd like, leaving him with some pretty "meh" counting stats for a potential HOF 1B, especially one who played his entire career in Coors Field during the silly ball era.

Adjust their numbers for ballpark and era, and I actually think Helton feels very similar to Will Clark (who would also be in my "I don't care either way" camp). One issue though is that the 90's and 2000's were a golden age for 1B. I'd never leave out no brainer HOF types just because that position was already well represented from that era, but a positional logjam like this does tend to make me give the borderliners less consideration than I normally would. At 1B, debuting from 1986-2003, I'd already induct McGwire (1986), Palmeiro (1986), Thomas (1990), Bagwell (1991), Thome (1991), Pujols (2001), and Cabrera (2003). If that means that borderliners like McGriff (1986), Clark (1986), Olerud (1989), and Helton (1997) get less consideration than their WAR says they deserve - and players who would normally at least hang around the ballot for a while are one and done (Grace, Giambi, Delgado, Teixeira) - well...meh. It doesn't feel like a big injustice to me.
   144. Booey Posted: November 19, 2020 at 12:23 PM (#5989926)
#142 - !!!PEDANTRY ALERT!!!

Brown actually lost the 1998 CYA to Glavine, not Maddux (and he finished behind teammate Trevor Hoffman, too).
   145. SoSH U at work Posted: November 19, 2020 at 12:37 PM (#5989934)
Brown actually lost the 1998 CYA to Glavine, not Maddux (and he finished behind teammate Trevor Hoffman, too).


All them Braves look alike to me.
   146. alilisd Posted: November 19, 2020 at 06:58 PM (#5990043)
If I had my druthers, we'd either restrict peak discussions to consecutive seasons or find a new term to describe those non-consecutive seasons.


I was thinking about this yesterday because of what we were talking about, and I think we may have discussed this during the last HOF season, too. Is peak just the highest level of play or is it a level of play over a period of time and therefore consecutive seasons. Perhaps it could be something like Peak Level of Play to describe what a player did in his best seasons, regardless of when they occurred, versus Peak 3, or Peak 5 to describe best consecutive seasons over a particular period. Whatever one may call it I've sort of come around to looking at it in both ways since the discussion last time. I had always thought of peak as simply what a player did at his very best seasons consecutive or not, but it's useful to look at it over a period of seasons as well.
   147. gehrig97 Posted: November 19, 2020 at 07:03 PM (#5990044)
Bonds: The best player whatever lived should probably be in the HOF.
Clemens: The best pitcher whatever lived should probably be in the HOF.
Schilling: Yeah, yeah. He's a jerk. So what? Shoulda been in years ago.
Manny: When he played the outfield, he looked like a man trying to remember where he left his keys. But madone, could this estrogen-huffer hit.
Rolen: He's one of the best 3B to suit up. Seems one of the best anything should be in the HOF.
Jones: To bastardize Bill James, if you split Andruw Jones in half, you'd have... one HOF (the first half... forget the second half).
   148. Sefcik Time Posted: November 19, 2020 at 07:33 PM (#5990050)
Apologies in advance for the very long post, but to compare Kevin Brown (and to a lesser extent, Andy Pettitte) to their contemporaries in terms of "fame", I went on tcdb.com and compared the number of baseball cards each pitcher received in a given year to an assortment of contemporary starting pitchers from 1992 to 2005. This was the point of time when the number of baseball card brands was skyrocketing, however, at the same time, they stopped automatically giving "boring" players baseball cards automatically, in favor of smaller, star-packed sets. Additionally, they included "inserts," so that stars would get even more baseball cards in a given year (sometimes to absurd degrees). The change in a given player from year-to-year isn't useful, but I think comparing players relative to others is a solid indicator of who the "biggest stars" were in a given season. I excluded rookie cards, because any rookie gets an arbitrary spike in their card number. One final thing, is that each year has the stats from the prior season, so if someone had a good 1994, it would be reflected in their totals for 1995.

1992
164 – Clemens
85 – Glavine
42 – Cone
35 – Maddux
33 – Smoltz
32 – R. Johnson
29 – Nagy
28 – Finley
24 – K. Brown
22 – Appier
18 – K. Rogers
18 – Schilling

1993
121 – Glavine
114 – Clemens
106 – Maddux
56 – Smoltz
55 – Mussina
46 – Cone
40 – K. Brown
40 – R. Johnson
38 – Nagy
35 – Appier
35 – Finley
34 – Schilling
21 – K. Rogers

1994
115 – Maddux
83 – Clemens
82 – Glavine
81 – R. Johnson
68 – Mussina
51 – Appier
48 – Smoltz
45 – P. Martinez
44 – Cone
42 – Schilling
39 – K. Brown
35 – Finley
34 – K. Rogers
33 – Nagy

1995
162 – Maddux
109 – Cone
109 – R. Johnson
98 – Clemens
80 – Mussina
64 – Appier
63 – Glavine
61 – P. Martinez
56 – K. Rogers
53 – Finley
50 – Trachsel
40 – K. Brown
36 – Nagy
34 – Smoltz
32 – Schilling

1996
311 – Maddux
207 – R. Johnson
134 – Clemens
121 – Glavine
117 – Mussina
96 – Cone
87 – P. Martinez
84 – Appier
74 – Smoltz
54 – K. Rogers
42 – Finley
33 – Nagy
28 – K. Brown
22 – Schilling
17 – Trachsel

1997
328 – Maddux
255 – Smoltz
247 – Clemens
236 – Pettitte
177 – R. Johnson
158 – Mussina
148 – K. Brown
142 - Glavine
116 – Nagy
112 – Cone
102 – Appier
85 – P. Martinez
75 – Schilling
46 – Trachsel
44 – Finley
20 – K. Rogers

1998
761 – Clemens
751 – Maddux
529 – R. Johnson
477 – P. Martinez
439 – K. Brown
421 – Mussina
409 – Schilling
388 – Glavine
265 – Pettitte
193 – Smoltz
140 – Cone
123 – Appier
98 – Nagy
96 – Finley
41 – K. Rogers
31 – Trachsel

1999
525 – Clemens
523 – Maddux
363 – R. Johnson
283 – Glavine
223 – P. Martinez
186 – K. Brown
176 – Schilling
150 – Mussina
119 – Smoltz
101 – Cone
71 – Finley
71 – Pettitte
56 – K. Rogers
28 – Nagy
20 – Trachsel
11 - Appier

2000
460 – P. Martinez
390 – Maddux
388 – R. Johnson
320 – Clemens
200 – K. Brown
183 – Mussina
168 – Schilling
141 – Glavine
105 – Cone
97 – Smoltz
78 – Finley
53 – Pettitte
45 – Appier
40 – K. Rogers
28 – Nagy
10 – Trachsel

2001
373 – R. Johnson
342 – Maddux
337 – P. Martinez
332 – Clemens
202 – K. Brown
184 – Glavine
157 – Mussina
129 – Schilling
73 - Pettitte
54 – Smoltz
43 – Cone
35 – Finley
29 – Appier
27 – K. Rogers
17 – Trachsel
14 – Nagy

2002
545 – Clemens
515 – R. Johnson
448 – Maddux
437 – P. Martinez
425 – Schilling
261 – Glavine
237 – Mussina
221 – K. Brown
136 - Pettitte
106 – Smoltz
46 – Appier
35 – Finley
30 – Cone
24 – Nagy
24 – K. Rogers
13 – Trachsel

2003
860 – R. Johnson
827 – Clemens
685 – Maddux
678 – P. Martinez
618 – Schilling
466 – Glavine
359 – Mussina
183 – Smoltz
178 – K. Brown
152 – Pettitte
65 – K. Rogers
39 – Appier
22 – Cone
22 – Finley
17 – Trachsel
4 – Nagy

2004
1398 – Clemens
1238 – R. Johnson
1123 – Maddux
1071 – P. Martinez
964 – Mussina
883 – Schilling
689 – Glavine
517 – Pettitte
303 – K. Brown
194 – Smoltz
50 – K. Rogers
27 – Appier
16 – Trachsel

2005
2157 – Clemens
1681 – R. Johnson
1516 – Maddux
1505 – Schilling
1431 – P. Martinez
890 – Mussina
739 – Glavine
510 – Smoltz
471 – Pettitte
297 – K. Brown
123 – K. Rogers
34 – Trachsel
9 – Appier

I'm surprised with how poorly Smoltz does on this. Also, for all the talk about Mussina not feeling like a HOFer, Pettitte clearly was even a few tiers below him by this (kind of silly) metric.
   149. alilisd Posted: November 19, 2020 at 07:48 PM (#5990053)
The closest career by OPS+ and PA to Todd Helton's is HOF/HOM Al Simmons', and they are very close indeed, though Simmons had somewhat more defensive value. The other guys who are close are a mixed bag Halls-wise.


And that's exactly why you don't reduce a HOF case to career OPS+ and PA's. You have to consider peak, you have to look at defense and overall value, at least in most cases beyond obvious, "first ballot" type of players.

As to your list, I'm not a fan of comparing players from other positions when we have plenty of other 1B to compare Helton to. Olerud, the lone 1B on your list is actually a much better HOF candidate than most people would think. I wouldn't vote for him, but he's not horrible when you consider his defense. Helton is clearly better though.

Eddie Murray through age 35, which gives him comparable playing time to Helton, dWAR -6.4, PA's 9,764, OPS+ 138, rBaser -9, HR 398, RBI 1,469, BA .292
Basically what Murray has, after 35, that Helton doesn't is about 3,000 PA's with an OPS+ of 102, and overall below average play that simply added bulk/counting stats to his career, but did nothing, IMO, to make him a better player than Helton. Never have been able to see how hanging around as an average to below average player at the end of your career does anything to enhance your HOF credibility.
   150. alilisd Posted: November 19, 2020 at 07:57 PM (#5990055)
Adjust their numbers for ballpark and era, and I actually think Helton feels very similar to Will Clark


Dang! I just went to B-R to try to use the neutralized stats there, and they're using the 2020 season which adjusts everything to a 60 game season for some reason. So that's kind of worthless. Oh well. Would be fun to see. Clark is a pretty darn good comp for Helton although he gives up about 1,100 PA's or nearly two full seasons.
   151. alilisd Posted: November 19, 2020 at 08:22 PM (#5990061)
He does have a very impressive peak, although it's shorter than you'd like, leaving him with some pretty "meh" counting stats for a potential HOF 1B, especially one who played his entire career in Coors Field during the silly ball era.


I don't think a 6 year peak is short at all, his prime is short-ish, but that's due to the back problems he had. Also, it seems odd to "penalize" someone for not hitting a bunch of HR during a high HR era if you don't penalize someone else for doing so. Why give Palmeiro a bye for using PED's to extend his career and bump his HR totals, but hold it against Helton for not doing so? A bit of a weird double standard, isn't it? Anyway, since testing started in 2003, it doesn't seem he really played his entire career in the silly ball era. But maybe that doesn't necessarily end right when testing started? From 2005 until his retirement after 2013 he never hit more than 20 HR in a season, and frequently hit quite a bit fewer. Still he cracks the top 100 in numerous counting stats, including HR, so not sure that rates as pretty "meh" for a 1B. But YMMV.
   152. Booey Posted: November 19, 2020 at 10:50 PM (#5990071)
#151 - It's not a double standard for voters (real or fake) who don't think it's the HOF's job to worry about steroids to consider career length, regardless of how the player achieved it. A voter who does penalize for PED's could certainly justify putting Helton above Palmeiro (or McGwire), of course.
   153. SoSH U at work Posted: November 19, 2020 at 11:03 PM (#5990074)
Basically what Murray has, after 35, that Helton doesn't is about 3,000 PA's with an OPS+ of 102, and overall below average play that simply added bulk/counting stats to his career, but did nothing, IMO, to make him a better player than Helton.

What Murray also had over Helton was his competition. Eddie was pretty much the best first sacker of his time. You had Rodney, who was better as a second baseman, Keith, who was underrated, and Garvey, who was overrated.

Helton, in contrast, played during the absolute peak of first base play in MLB history. He was active at the same time as Pujols, Thomas, Bagwell, Thome, McGriff, Giambi, Olerud, Grace, Delgado and Teixeira, among others.
   154. sgt23 Posted: November 20, 2020 at 06:06 AM (#5990080)
Here is the tracker. https://onedrive.live.com/view.aspx?resid=F2E5D8FC5199DFAF!31002&ithint=file,xlsx&authkey;=!AKnsRGrHzGEkOuw
   155. BDC Posted: November 20, 2020 at 09:03 AM (#5990084)
And that's exactly why you don't reduce a HOF case to career OPS+ and PA's. You have to consider peak, you have to look at defense and overall value

I should perhaps spell things out more when I post these OPS+/PA lists: I use those as the criteria, but the lists are ranked by dWAR and include rBaser, so you have those components to consider as well.

Helton had a strong peak, but of course so did Al Simmons (consecutive batting titles with 175 OPS+ each time) and Jim Rice, and Sosa; and Olerud had a couple of crazy-high BA years that would fit nicely into Helton's prime. And they're all players on the borderline or above of each Hall, so it's not like I'm saying that Helton is bad or anything – just not an obvious first-ballot HOFer, on which we agree. "Measurably a bit better hitter than Jim Rice" is a very, very good hitter.

I'm not a fan of comparing players from other positions

But many advanced metrics do just that. dWAR in particular helps put first-base defense in perspective: Helton was good, but clearly being that good at 1B defense isn't a crucial asset to a ballclub.
   156. BDC Posted: November 20, 2020 at 09:26 AM (#5990085)
Also, just to add the obvious, players aren't tethered to positions. Career dWAR is a very blunt instrument, but it does set up the basis for comparing guys who wandered around the outfield, moved from SS to 3B, or ended up at 1B from anywhere else.
   157. reech Posted: November 20, 2020 at 11:04 AM (#5990100)
An impossible task, but I would love to know how many "anti-PED" voters were Trump voters.
Curious as to the levels of morality they have.
   158. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: November 20, 2020 at 11:22 AM (#5990103)
Sefcik Time, that is a great metric you've created in #148. I would just suggest that it's biased against players who have to split star billing on their own teams. If Topps is making a weird card format that they are going to use for a select group of players, they want to spread it out among the teams. Great for Mussina (when he was on the Orioles), bad for Smoltz and Pettitte.

Source: I now own a few baseball cards and am already irritated by how the current sets choose 3 players per team for their wacky creative-looking formats and it's always Bryce Harper, Aaron Nola (or Rhys Hoskins), and (random rookie that people want to buy low on).
   159. DanG Posted: November 20, 2020 at 12:15 PM (#5990112)
Just a note that Kevin Brown and the other 2005 retirees (Palmeiro, Olerud) are now under the consideration of the eras committees. What are his chances of making the next Today's Game Era ballot two years from now?
   160. SoSH U at work Posted: November 20, 2020 at 12:32 PM (#5990113)

Just a note that Kevin Brown and the other 2005 retirees (Palmeiro, Olerud) are now under the consideration of the eras committees. What are his chances of making the next Today's Game Era ballot two years from now?


The fact it remains a very thin period in terms of eligible talent (a chief reason Baines made it) will help. It also depends on how well remembered his Mitchell Report appearance is.
   161. DanG Posted: November 20, 2020 at 01:52 PM (#5990137)
The fact it remains a very thin period in terms of eligible talent (a chief reason Baines made it) will help.
Except, the 2007 gang of Bonds/Clemens/Sosa comes off the BBWAA ballot in 2022. If I'm not mistaken, they are immediately eligible for the Today's Game ballot in the fall of 2022. We'll also see candidates like Fred McGriff and Bernie Williams newly eligible. Along with a couple new manager candidates (Bochy, Leyland). So it promises to be easily the most robust ballot the Today's Game Era voters have ever seen.
   162. Rally Posted: November 20, 2020 at 02:02 PM (#5990140)
That's not necessarily a good thing. Under the rules (10 players listed, you can vote no more than 4, and need 75% to get in) the likely result of a full slate of well qualified candidates is that you won't get agreement and nobody will end up with 75%. Well, at least if they were voting independently. The reports of Baines getting in seemed to come down to Reinsdorf and LaRussa wearing enough people down so they'd vote for Baines. In this case they probably negotiate consensus on the managers and leave the players out.
   163. SoSH U at work Posted: November 20, 2020 at 02:21 PM (#5990146)
Except, the 2007 gang of Bonds/Clemens/Sosa comes off the BBWAA ballot in 2022. If I'm not mistaken, they are immediately eligible for the Today's Game ballot in the fall of 2022. We'll also see candidates like Fred McGriff and Bernie Williams newly eligible. Along with a couple new manager candidates (Bochy, Leyland). So it promises to be easily the most robust ballot the Today's Game Era voters have ever seen.


No question. It gets thicker in a hurry.

They should have waited until right about now to introduce this era.
   164. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 20, 2020 at 02:22 PM (#5990147)
The reports of Baines getting in seemed to come down to Reinsdorf and LaRussa wearing enough people down so they'd vote for Baines.
In fairness, LaRussa's authority as a legit Hall of Famer baseball person is quite persuasive.
   165. SoSH U at work Posted: November 20, 2020 at 02:23 PM (#5990148)
The reports of Baines getting in seemed to come down to Reinsdorf and LaRussa wearing enough people down so they'd vote for Baines.


But it wouldn't have been possible if the pickings weren't so slim to begin with.
   166. alilisd Posted: November 20, 2020 at 04:57 PM (#5990199)
#151 - It's not a double standard for voters (real or fake) who don't think it's the HOF's job to worry about steroids to consider career length, regardless of how the player achieved it.


Certainly seems that way. You said you would have already voted in Palmeiro, who certainly extended his career and padded his counting stats by using PED's, and this is part of the justification for not voting for Helton who has a much better peak than Palmeiro but not the high counting stats. Seems like you're saying Helton, despite the better peak, needed to pop some Nandrolone to sooth his aching back so he could pop some more HR, and then he'd be qualified. Am I missing something?
   167. alilisd Posted: November 20, 2020 at 05:23 PM (#5990211)
What Murray also had over Helton was his competition. Eddie was pretty much the best first sacker of his time. You had Rodney, who was better as a second baseman, Keith, who was underrated, and Garvey, who was overrated.

Helton, in contrast, played during the absolute peak of first base play in MLB history. He was active at the same time as Pujols, Thomas, Bagwell, Thome, McGriff, Giambi, Olerud, Grace, Delgado and Teixeira, among others.


Which is not an argument for Murray or against Helton, IMO. I've seen dodgers fans try to argue for Hodges in this fashion, "Well, he was the best 1B of his era." Maybe, but he wasn't a HOF caliber player. We've just lived through a period of having Clemens, Maddux, Johnson, and Martinez in the game at the same time, and then there were Schilling, Mussina, and Glavine. Doesn't mean Smoltz and Halliday should be excluded.

Grace, really? Anyway, of the names you listed for 1B the only guys with better WAR7 are Pujols and Bagwell. Helton 46.6, Thomas 45.4, Thome 41.5. Even if you'd used Cabrera instead of Grace, he has 44.8. Giambi, Tex, McGriff are all down around 50 career WAR, 10 below Helton, and Delgado is about 45. Even if you feel there was a glut of quality 1B and this somehow impacts how many can be Hall-worthy, Helton clearly distinguishes himself from those you listed.

Personally I don't think that having a lot of HOF caliber players at a position during any particular era changes whether they are qualified or limits the number who should be enshrined. That seems to be the inverse of the Jack Morris argument. Well Jack was the best of his era, so he should clearly be in. No, he just happened to be the healthiest of his era, and a number of others who actually had HOF talent had their careers cut short by injury. It's one of the vagaries of history whether you have many or few HOF players at a particular position during any particular era.
   168. alilisd Posted: November 20, 2020 at 05:28 PM (#5990212)
I'm not a fan of comparing players from other positions

But many advanced metrics do just that. dWAR in particular helps put first-base defense in perspective: Helton was good, but clearly being that good at 1B defense isn't a crucial asset to a ballclub.


Not what I meant. I understand what you're saying, that by the way it measures value, WAR can be a tool to use to compare across positions. What I meant is that if I'm looking at whether a 1B is qualified for the HOF, I'm going to compare him to other HOF 1B, not at corner OF. Even though corner OF are the closest on the defensive spectrum to 1B, there are plenty of 1B to compare to without going outside the position. My personal preference anyway.
   169. SoSH U at work Posted: November 20, 2020 at 05:35 PM (#5990217)
Which is not an argument for Murray or against Helton, IMO.


It's not a strong one, but I wouldn't say it's completely irrelevant. Being the best in your time period carries some weight that being the seventh best doesn't. It doesn't make Davey Concepcion an automatic Hall of Famer, but it's definitely a point in his favor if he's sitting on the borderline.

Grace, really? Anyway, of the names you listed for 1B the only guys with better WAR7 are Pujols and Bagwell. Helton 46.6, Thomas 45.4, Thome 41.5.


You seem to be misinterpreting this as an argument against Helton. It's not. I'm just noting that during Helton's career, he played with about half of the best first basemen who ever played the game, which makes it harder to stand out. He's clearly better than Grace and Delgado, for instance, but they were guys who were putting up all-star caliber seasons and putting together damn fine careers, even if those careers fell short of Cooperstownian timber.
   170. alilisd Posted: November 20, 2020 at 05:42 PM (#5990222)
You seem to be misinterpreting this as an argument against Helton. It's not. I'm just noting that during Helton's career, he played with about half of the best first basemen who ever played the game, which makes it harder to stand out. He's clearly better than Grace and Delgado, for instance, but they were guys who were putting up all-star caliber seasons and putting together damn fine careers, even if those careers fell short of Cooperstownian timber.


Ah, I see. Thank you for clarifying. Cheers!
   171. Booey Posted: November 20, 2020 at 08:17 PM (#5990296)
#166 - As someone who doesn't think it's the HOF voters job to police the game and thinks that all stats should be taken at face value (relative to their era, of course), it would be inconsistent if I DID make mental adjustments to players numbers based on what PED's might or might not have done.
   172. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: November 20, 2020 at 10:28 PM (#5990363)
So Pettitte gets 16.9 from 2005-2007 and Buerhle gets 15.9 from 2007-2009, pretty darn close given the precision of WAR, and Buehrle was likely a better fielder, although it seems Pettitte was pretty good as well.

Minor point from upthread. Assuming we're looking at bWAR here, it starts from the pitcher's runs allowed. So whatever impact the pitcher's fielding has on the scoreboard is baked into their pitching WAR and does not need to be accounted for separately.
   173. alilisd Posted: November 21, 2020 at 02:16 PM (#5990512)
Minor point from upthread. Assuming we're looking at bWAR here, it starts from the pitcher's runs allowed. So whatever impact the pitcher's fielding has on the scoreboard is baked into their pitching WAR and does not need to be accounted for separately.


Ah, I hadn't thought of that. thank you!
   174. alilisd Posted: November 21, 2020 at 07:09 PM (#5990585)
What Murray also had over Helton was his competition. Eddie was pretty much the best first sacker of his time. You had Rodney, who was better as a second baseman, Keith, who was underrated, and Garvey, who was overrated.

Helton, in contrast, played during the absolute peak of first base play in MLB history. He was active at the same time as Pujols, Thomas, Bagwell, Thome, McGriff, Giambi, Olerud, Grace, Delgado and Teixeira, among others.


I've been thinking a good bit about this, more than I should, I'm sure. But it is interesting, and I'm still not sure it's accurate. The general premise that if you're the best at your position for a period of time is fine, but I'm not so sure it really holds true for Murray, nor is the idea that Helton is just one amongst a pack of top contemporaries so clear, IMO. How do you look at it though? I've tried looking at it on a season by season basis for Murray, and he doesn't seem to clearly distinguish himself when viewed in this way. For example, although he's strong out of the box in 1977, even winning the ROY, it's clearly Carew who is the best 1B as that's his big MVP season, and he follows it up the next year with another very good one. In 1979 Hernandez wins his MVP, and in 1980 Hernandez has another great season while Cecil Cooper wins the GG, SS, and finishes one spot ahead of Murray in the MVP voting. Both of them have better seasons, by WAR, than Murray in 1981, although Murray got the MVP love, and Cooper still won the SS. All three of the other 1B previoulsy mentioned have fine seasons in 1982 by WAR, and Cooper still does relatively well in the MVP while picking up another SS, but Murray did win the GG and finish 2nd in the MVP. In 1983 and 1984 Murray reaches his peak with his best seasons by WAR, and sweeping GG, SS, AS both years and a 2nd and 4th in MVP voting. Nonetheless Hernandez is still putting up excellent seasons by WAR, and is also the GG, SS, AS, and 2nd in MVP in 1984. By 1985 Murray is at the end of his peak, he still received AS recognition and 5th in MVP while having a great season by WAR, but by now you have Mattingly, who was 5th in the MVP the year before, beginning his run of 3 straight seasons as AS, GG, SS, and he wins the MVP, then follow up with 2nd in 1986. Seems to me that Murray was clearly thought of as one of the best 1B of his time when looking at it in this way, but he's not at all clearly recognized as the best, or even "pretty much the best," given Carew, Hernandez, and Mattingly all won an MVP in that span, while Murray did not even while showing well in the voting.

And this is just his peak, when you look out over the next five years or so, when he's not winning awards and only occasionally even getting AS recognition, you have Clark and McGriff coming onto the scene having big seasons. Clark has multiple AS, two SS, and 2nd, 4th, and two 5th MVP results from 1986-1991. McGriff doesn't get a lot of MVP love, but he does get at least some votes every year from 1988-1993 along with two SS. McGwire arrived with ROY in 1987, and in 1990 when Murray had his late career big season, McGwire also had a 5+ WAR year. When do you cut it off though? Murray was still playing until 1997. Do we consider that Bagwell, Thomas, and Palmeiro were all playing and having big seasons by then? Even if we don't, I still look at Murray's peak and it looks like he's simply one amongst a pack of others who were similarly well thought of, and productive, during his peak, at least looking at it on a seasonal basis.

Looking at it from a career perspective poses similar problems. If it's solely limited to the years he played, you miss guys on either side of his career, but because he played so long extending it out beyond 1997 tends to bring in players we might not necessarily think of as contemporaries. In terms of recognition such as the AS, GG, SS, MVP you still have the same guys mentioned above as having been similarly well thought of, so looking at career WAR from 1972-1995 was what I ended up with. Murray is, of course, at the top, and by a good margin over Hernandez. He's only just in front of Carew who makes the list by virtue of having played at least 60% of his games at 1B during that period, but it does grab a number of his best seasons at 2B. Still the edge for Murray over the others is in quantity, not necessarily quality. Looking at WAR per game or PA he is not better than Hernandez, Mattingly, or Palmeiro, and he's only marginally better than Grace and Hrbek (I used minimum 1,000 G and 60% at 1B). Clark, McGriff, and McGwire are all better, although McGwire only played 1,094 games. This is a bit unfair to Murray though as it includes so much of his decline. Looking at him just through 1990 still gives him a career edge over the rest, although it's only a slight edge over Hernandez, but it brings him up even with the more productive three on a per game/PA level. I think looking at it in this way you could say he was pretty much the best 1B of his time on a "career" basis.

Then we have Helton, so how would he stack up in this manner? McGwire, Bagwell, and Thomas, although Thomas is a DH by then, are all still playing at a high level when Helton arrives, and he does suffer in terms of popular recognition. He did come 2nd in the ROY, and then from 2000-2004 he is an AS every year, gets some MVP votes but no real serious recognition each year, and wins four SS and three GG. So some recognition to be sure, but not an overwhelming amount, and he doesn't stand out as well as Murray did at least in MVP terms. By a WAR perspective he looks much better though as he led the NL in 2000, and was the best in baseball at 1B that year. For the following seasons I'm only looking at 1B, in 2001 he was 2nd to Giambi but 1st in the NL, 2002 he was 2nd to Thome but 1st in the NL, in 2003 he was the best in baseball at 1B, and in 2004 he was at 8.3 to Pujols' 8.5, with no one else even earning 5 WAR. Despite not receiving the popular recognition, which may go to SoSH's point that it's harder to stand out in a larger talent pool, he was clearly the best 1B in baseball for that five year period. But five years, as Booey said, is rather a short period. I still don't think it's short for a peak, but it is for a prime, and it doesn't consider that others may have had a better or comparable peak in other seasons.

To quantify it, Helton has 37.5 WAR from 2000-2004, Giambi is next with 28.7, then Thome 25.6, Delgado 25.4, Bagwell 22.7, followed by a big drop off. But let's do more of a career/prime evaluation as I did for Murray above. Using 1993-2009, 5 years before his rookie season as I did for Murray and his last quality season, still with 60% of games at 1B and at least 1,000 games played, leaves him well behind Pujols with 73.8 and Bagwell with 70.4, Helton is 3rd with 59. Palmeiro, Olerud, and Giambi are all well back with 52, 51, and 51. Further back still would be Delgado and Texeira. On a per game, or per PA basis Pujols, of course, blows everyone away, and Bagwell does distance himself from Helton, but Helton is better than Palmeiro, Olerud, and Giambi by as large a margin as Bagwell exceeds him. Teixera is as good as Helton on this basis, but he just barely makes the 1,000 games. Using comparable playing time for Tex he falls off to be right with the group of Palmeiro, Olerud, and Giambi both on a rate basis and total WAR of right about 51.

I'd say SoSH is right that Helton finds it harder to stand out from the pack during his peak and prime, at least from a "popular recognition" perspective, but I think from a WAR perspective he legitimately distances himself in terms of both peak and prime. And coming third to Pujols and Bagwell is no shame. Adding in DH also hurts of course because that brings both Thome and Thomas into the picture. At any rate, he still seems to me quite an easy choice as a HOF 1B given his peak, which is excellent, and his prime, which is quite good as well. I don't think 1,400 runs, 2,500 hits, nearly 600 doubles, 369 HR, and 1400 RBI are particularly low counting stats either, but admittedly the last 8 years of his career are rather pedestrian.

Lastly, as to Helton playing at the absolute peak of 1B in baseball history, a grain of salt is likely necessary there. It's likely true enough, but there are two factors which have to be recognized as well: first, he's now playing in a 30 team MLB rather than a 16, or 20 team MLB; second, having the DH now gives teams more flexibility to hold onto a 1B type player, big power, plodding runner, and/or poor defender. Looking back through 1B history with a HOF type of lens, Terry, Gehrig, Foxx, and Greenberg all started playing between 1923 and 1930. Then Killebrew, McCovey, Cepeda, and Perez all start between 1954 and 1964, but really Killebrew from 1954-1958 didn't record more than 110 PA's in any of those seasons, so they really debuted between 1958-1964. Still, nowhere near the quality of the four who debuted beginning in 1923. Murray does stand alone in 1977, although Hernandez is probably an oversight debuting in 1974, then McGwire and Palmeiro are 1986 and are both PED slights. Thomas, Thome, and Bagwell are all 1990-1991 and in, but then it's Delgado and Giambi who were rejected by the BBWA and more borderline than Helton, IMO. Ortiz and Helton in 1997, Pujols and Cabrera in 2001 and 2003. Depends on how you slice it, how long a period you're going to use, but given that there are nearly twice as many teams, plus the DH's in there, during Helton's career, I don't think it's necessarily obvious that he played during THE peak of 1B. There was certainly plenty of talent at the position, but there was also quite a bit in the 1920's-1930's. Heck, Anson, Brouthers and Connor all debuted from 1871-1880, and are all in the top 10 by JAWS.

Fun stuff, thanks for the discussion!
   175. SoSH U at work Posted: November 21, 2020 at 07:33 PM (#5990588)
At the time, Murray's lack of MVP support was typically attributed to his consistency (a little like Palmeiro, a terrible omission from my original list). If you asked anyone from 1980-1988 who was the best first baseman in baseball, Eddie Murray was going to be the first person named by most baseball fans, and for good reason (Hernandez being his main competition, but he wasn't seen on the same plane).

Fair or not, that was never the case with Todd Helton.

Lastly, as to Helton playing at the absolute peak of 1B in baseball history, a grain of salt is likely necessary there. It's likely true enough, but there are two factors which have to be recognized as well: first, he's now playing in a 30 team MLB rather than a 16, or 20 team MLB; second, having the DH now gives teams more flexibility to hold onto a 1B type player, big power, plodding runner, and/or poor defender.


I don't think so. The increase in teams hasn't resulted in any other positions dominating the career positional leaderboard. There were more great centerfielders in the 1950s than there are today. We have the same number of teams now, and the first basemen have kinda sucked in the recent past.

And baseball teams have been willing to put up with crappy fielding/injury prone, great hitting players forever. They typically played first. Now they have another position, which is why David Ortiz and Edgar Martinez are not listed among those greats, which is where they probably would have played had they been active in the 1960s. Thomas is the only player from that list who spent a lot of time at DH, and, by then, for the most part, he wasn't that great.

I have wondered if there was some thinking in baseball that made teams more willing to convert players to first earlier in their careers. Would Thome, Cabrera, Pujols, McGwire (another omission) and some others have spent more time at other positions in previous eras? I really don't know, but that could be a reason for the glut from that time frame.

   176. alilisd Posted: November 23, 2020 at 04:57 PM (#5990901)
If you asked anyone from 1980-1988 who was the best first baseman in baseball, Eddie Murray was going to be the first person named by most baseball fans, and for good reason


Agreed, and I think born out by the review I did.

I don't think so. The increase in teams hasn't resulted in any other positions dominating the career positional leaderboard. There were more great centerfielders in the 1950s than there are today. We have the same number of teams now, and the first basemen have kinda sucked in the recent past.


I like this perspective better. It lines up with my belief that we won't necessarily see an even distribution of talent within eras, which is why I don't like Booey's (not exclusively his, of course) perspective that there isn't room for Helton because too many 1B have already been, or should have been, elected. It should only be about quality of play, and while the borderline is subjective, if you have a large number of guys above the borderline, they should all go in.

Anyway, I'm going to go with the 20's and 30's as the Golden Age for 1B talent, but there's a really good argument for Helton coinciding with the other period which could be seen as the peak for 1B talent. I looked at it in 20 year chunks beginning with the AL era start of 1901 through 1920. It was not a strong era for 1B during those first two decades. I looked for WAR of 4 or better and at least 60% of games at 1B. This yielded only 39 such seasons, with a high of 4 players in any one season in 3 of those years. Now 1921 to 1940 gives 89 seasons of 4 WAR or better, with a high of 8 players in 1936 (50% of the MLB teams!), and at least 5 players in 10 of those seasons. The last 7 seasons of that period, 1934-1940, averaged 6.3 players per season attaining at least 4 WAR as a 1B, or 39.4% of the MLB teams fielding a 1B who had at least 4 WAR! The next two periods are quite a bit lower, 1941-1960 only had 50 players with a high of 6 in 1947, and 1961-1980 had 72 players with a high of 6 in 3 different seasons.

The next period from 1991-2000 shows a big uptick with 115 seasons, a high of 8 in three different seasons, and at least 5 players in 15 of them. 2001-2020 is also impressive with 114 seasons, a high of 10 in 2010, and at least 5 in 16 seasons. Looking at the best 7 year stretch here, to compare to 1934-1940, I used 1995-2001 even though that overlaps periods, and there was an average of 7.1 players per season attaining at least 4 WAR, or 23.8% of the MLB teams. So slightly higher raw numbers for 1995-2001, but significantly less as a percentage of the teams.

But I also looked at it on the really high end, because although 4 WAR is a very good season, I like the way B-R breaks it down by 2 WAR is a starter, 5 WAR is All Star level, and 8 WAR is an MVP caliber season. I used 7.5 WAR from the 1921-1940 period and found 23 seasons by 6 different players, 5 of whom did it at least twice, with Gehrig leading, of course, at 10, and Foxx with 6, Terry, Greenberg, and Mize all had 2. From 1981-2000 there were only 9 seasons of at least 7.5 by 7 different players, with Bagwell having 3, and Olerud 2. 2001-2020 has 16 by 8 different players, mostly Pujols, of course, who had 7, but Helton had 2, and Votto also had 2. However, Giambi had one in each period so he did have multiple seasons, and Helton also had one in 2000, so he had as many as Bagwell overall. Grabbing 1996-2015, still a 20 year period, gets 21 seasons by 11 players, so a pretty comparable number of seasons to 1921-1940 but more depth/players. This does correspond almost exactly to Helton's career, so perhaps he did indeed player at the time of peak talent for 1B. And I'll point out once again Helton's exceptional peak with 3 seasons of at least 7.5 WAR. As many as Bagwell and Mize, who also had one in 1947, and only behind the very inner circle guys like Gehrig, Foxx, and Pujols. McCovey, McGwire, and Cabrera only one, none for Thomas, Murray, Palmeiro, or Thome (his 1996 was 7.5 but as a 3B, not a 1B).
   177. alilisd Posted: November 23, 2020 at 05:20 PM (#5990906)
In post #176 it should say only 6 players from 1981-2000 had seasons of 7.5 WAR or more. I couldn't save my edit to that post.
   178. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 23, 2020 at 05:27 PM (#5990907)
If you asked anyone from 1980-1988 who was the best first baseman in baseball, Eddie Murray was going to be the first person named by most baseball fans, and for good reason

Agreed, and I think born out by the review I did.
Mattingly would have been the first named starting in probably 1985. He was perceived as far ahead of the field.
   179. SoSH U at work Posted: November 23, 2020 at 05:30 PM (#5990908)
Mattingly would have been the first named starting in probably 1985. He was perceived as far ahead of the field.


That's probably true.

That's good stuff alilsd.
   180. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 23, 2020 at 05:44 PM (#5990909)
Also maybe Will Clark in '87/'88, particularly among NL fans.
   181. alilisd Posted: November 24, 2020 at 03:22 PM (#5990983)
That's good stuff alilsd.


Thanks! It's fun researching things like this. Really seems like there's something going on there with 1B in high run scoring environments. Maybe it's somehow easier for them to put up big value in that environment? I guess that makes sense as their value is much more tied up in offense than defense or baserunning.

That is, oddly, why I find Bagwell to be somewhat underrated, even though he's pretty universally respected particularly around here. He holds his own with the big hitting 1B, he was also a very good defender, AND far and away the best running 1B in the modern game. The only guys who can hang with him on a career basis are Jack Doyle and Frank Chance, who both started their careers in the 19th Century, and Chance and Rod Carew on a seasonal basis, maybe Paul Goldschmidt.
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