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Sunday, November 29, 2020

Is the Hall leaving out too many players?

You should have two takeaways from these:

1) The lowest points in the first nine decades or so of the 21st century came during the two World Wars, understandably so. Bob Feller, for example, missed all of 1942-44 in America’s service, while Ted Williams missed all of 1943-45. Dozens of Hall of Famers missed the primes of their careers serving, plus several more (including Williams again) in the Korean War. The talent level had a meaningful drop.

2) The last three decades have consistently had the lowest Hall of Famers-per-year numbers in history outside of those wars, and it’s not just because not all of those players are eligible yet.

Taken all together, it does appear we’re being too stringent with the recent decades. We’re not hitting the “1.5% of all players” or “4.3% of regular players” thresholds, and the only times in history we’ve seen such a low percentage of Hall of Famers was literally during two world wars.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 29, 2020 at 10:27 AM | 423 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame

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   1. JRVJ Posted: November 29, 2020 at 01:39 PM (#5991500)
1) PEDs: Agreed. They clearly kept out McGwire and Palmeiro, have kept Bonds, Clemens and Ramírez out and they may be keeping Sheffield and Sosa out (debatable, but still).

They will probably also keep A. Rod and Robinson Canó out when they are up for selection.

2) 10-player limit: Up to a point, yes.

It's pretty clear that baseball went through a ballotgeddon period from 2013 onwards. Some worthy candidates were unable to get traction (Johan Santana for sure), and others took a while to finally get in (Tim Raines, Larry Walker).

But there's tons of ballot space this year, and other than Schilling (who hasn't gone in for very specific reasons), it's not crystal clear who else should be in (personally, I would vote-in Bonds, Clemens and Rolen, but have reservations about everybody afterwards, including Manny and Sammy).

And it's not going to get all that more crowded in the next few elections, once you get past Big Papi (who'll get in) and A-Rod (who will probably be in purgatory for a while) in 2022 and Carlos Beltrán in 2023.
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 29, 2020 at 02:04 PM (#5991504)
Taken all together, it does appear we’re being too stringent with the recent decades. We’re not hitting the “1.5% of all players” or “4.3% of regular players” thresholds, and the only times in history we’ve seen such a low percentage of Hall of Famers was literally during two world wars.

I think stars the number of stars doesn't scale with the size of the league. Going from 16 to 30 teams, and the changing roster usage, has doubled the number of regulars, but it's not going to double the number of stars. Being the 8th best SS doesn't gain the cachet of the being 3rd best just b/c the league is bigger. There's still only one MVP, one Cy Young winner and one HR champion per league.
   3. Booey Posted: November 29, 2020 at 02:13 PM (#5991506)
As I posted in the Andy Pettitte thread, a seemingly disproportionate amount of the biggest names of the past 15 or so years got hurt or simply stopped producing before they reached HOF career totals, so there really are fewer Hall worthy players (by traditional standards) from the 2000's than there usually is.

55 WAR players by debut decade:

1960's - 29
1970's - 24
1980's - 29
1990's - 27
2000's - 16

And while that 16 from the 2000's could increase a bit if some pitchers keep going effectively until they're 40 or so (Mad Bum Lester, Price) there aren't any locks to get there. There's going to be some awfully lean ballots coming up, and some lonely induction ceremonies unless the voters decide to lower their standards.
   4. puck Posted: November 29, 2020 at 02:23 PM (#5991507)
Are they counting all HoF players for the earlier decades, or only those voted in by the BBWAA?
   5. Thok Posted: November 29, 2020 at 02:31 PM (#5991508)
Carlos Beltrán in 2023.


Who's likely to get hit hard by the character clause, given that he's seen as one of the ringleaders of the Astros sign-stealing scheme. (If you accept that the character clause should be a thing, that seems like a valid use of the character clause.)
   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 29, 2020 at 02:32 PM (#5991510)
Are they counting all HoF players for the earlier decades, or only those voted in by the BBWAA?

Looks like all, based on this quote, which is a problem.

But we leave you with this, which might tell the entire story. There are 235 players in the Hall of Fame, currently, with birth dates ranging from 1847 (Deacon White) to 1977 (Halladay). Of those 235, just 55 were born since the end of World War II in 1945. One hundred and eighty seven, or slightly more than 76% of all Hall of Famers, were born before that (thanks, in part, we admit, to some long-ago cronyism on the Veterans Committee).
   7. SoSH U at work Posted: November 29, 2020 at 02:46 PM (#5991511)
But we leave you with this, which might tell the entire story. There are 235 players in the Hall of Fame, currently, with birth dates ranging from 1847 (Deacon White) to 1977 (Halladay). Of those 235, just 55 were born since the end of World War II in 1945. One hundred and eighty seven, or slightly more than 76% of all Hall of Famers, were born before that (thanks, in part, we admit, to some long-ago cronyism on the Veterans Committee).


Some of this is just unavoidable. There's basically a 30-year window from the end of WWII until now where players are possible HoFers (Halladay would have been a very young HoFer had he been alive for his induction). There are future Hall of Famers born before Halladay who will get elected (Schilling, Rolen, possibly Helton and Omar) by the BBWAA, others who will get elected by the Vets (possibly most or all the PED guys, hopefully Sweet Lou, etc.), and some who haven't hit the ballot yet (Ichiro and, possibly, Ortiz). If you looked at this time frame in 20 years, this window will be more equitably represented in the Hall, even without any change in behavior.
   8. JRVJ Posted: November 29, 2020 at 04:33 PM (#5991517)
5, all the more reason for upcoming inductions to be pretty small.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: November 29, 2020 at 05:04 PM (#5991520)
1. Yep, silly to not do something to adjust for VC and arguably NeL (I'm not sure if they're in this analysis; I assume not since things like % of IP and % of PA make no sense for them). I think the current numbers probably still come in low but if the VC is gonna put in Baines, Morris, Smith and Simmons (sufficiently deserving but still a change in collective attitude) then these decades are gonna catch up substantially. And I'm still surprised (impressed? happy certainly) that the BBWAA came around on Walker in time and I'm increasingly optimistic about Rolen which makes me more optimisitc about Utley ...

2. There are an inordinate number of 19th-early 20th guys, especially pitchers if I recall correctly.

3. He discusses the changes in pitcher usage and need to adjust the voting -- also a need to adjust the measuring. We know a lower %age of innings will be pitched by HoFers. And that's not just true for starters, we also know relievers aren't gonna be throwing Fingers/Gossage or even Lee Smith type totals.

4. I'll agree with #2 as well. As I've pointed out many times, the size of the emerging US labor pool was getting smaller from around 1978 until recently. Males aged 15-19 peaked in the late 70s at just under 11 M; by the early 90s it had troughed at a bit below 9 M, an 18% drop. That's why we saw the large expansion into Latin America (mainly DR and Venezuela). From an emerging talent perspective, the expansion from 26-30 couldn't have been worse-timed. Numbers began to rebound in the late 90s and the numbers have been around that 11 M mark (a bit above, a bit below) for the last 20 years. And if you're curious, birth rates have plummeted in both DR and Venezuela over the last decade or two.

4a. Of course even if the average player of today has somewhat less "true" talent than the 80s (uncertain for many reasons), that doesn't mean that relative talent would be lower ... in fact the stars might put up massive numbers ... and many have on the HR side of things.

5. Current economic trends in the game and analysis dis-favoring older players would seem to work against aging players making it less likely a star hitter will hang on long enough to reach milestones although it's not clear what impact that may have on future HoF ballots.

Here's an interesting exec summary of some upcoming demographic thresholds for the US. Those will be roughly similar for most "Western" countries and are far more dramatic in places like Japan and Spain.

I'll add that while it's possible there's a case or two, the 10-man limit hasn't had any real impact here. Maybe (probably?) Santana hangs on without that limit but how high a vote total do we think he would have gotten and how likely to build quickly enough from there? He got only 1/3 the vote of Andruw Jones; barely 1/5 the vote of Wagner; 1/10th of McGriff; the same as Moyer, barely more than Damon. This is a voting group that got Hoffman in before Mussina; that in 2018 gave more votes to Vizquel than Walker; and preferred Wagner to Santana.

Obbviously it's possible -- he could have been the Raines/Walker/Rolen or pitchers if he had just made the cut. But he'd probably still be behind Wagner's 32%. It's not that writers didn't have enough room for him, it's that not enough writers even considered whether they had room for himm.

And I'll agree with post #7 as well which also relates back to my point #1. 10 years on the ballot, 5 year waiting period following retirement around age 40 ... somebody falling off the ballot this year would have been born around 1965 and now they'd be going to the VC (for eternity apparently). Obviously the only players born in the 70s who will be in already are a few no-doubters. Jeter was born in 74.
   10. John DiFool2 Posted: November 29, 2020 at 06:01 PM (#5991523)
Recall during the summer sometime I expressed dismay at what seemed to be very few players below c. age 35 who seemed on a definite HoF track. [Be it looking at either traditional counting stats or WAR] And now we've just had a 60 game season. Since voters haven't really seemed to give much strike season credit historically, I am pretty pessimistic that they'll make any sort of adjustment there for COVID. If the current stringent standards hold, maybe half or more of the votes thru the middle of the millenium will get no inductees. [And Lord knows what the VC will do]

I got 3-5 positional locks: Miggy, Trout, Pujols & Mookie (arguably), plus Molina (maybe). Below them we have people who are either going to be blacklisted (Cano), underrated (Votto, maybe Machado), or have hit a wall (Longoria, Pedroia, Braun, Posey). In the 27-33 y/o range we have a bunch of people whom I rather doubt will reach any significant counting milestones (Stanton, Goldschmidt, Freeman, Altuve), even if some have the hardware, given how much steeper the aging curves have become.

Which means the next best hope will be the phenoms: Tatis, Soto, Acuna, et al.

Pitchers look even worse: outside of the locks (Verlander, Greinke, Kershaw & Scherzer), it's the same story, made even worse by how relievers are slowly taking over the game.
   11. The Duke Posted: November 29, 2020 at 06:05 PM (#5991524)
I think Jaffe has had a lot to do with this. His focus is to make sure the JAWS averages go up upon each election meaning that no one below the average should be voted in. That mentality has never happened before. It’s why Baines is such a shock.

Having said that I like having some objective measurements as a basis to start. But a guy like Lou Brock might not get in today - he was a big star and might not be voted in under today’s rigorous view of WAR.

It is the Hall of Fame not the Hall of WAR so I’m happy for more guys to get in on narrative. Johan Santana would be a good one - how is he not in the Hall. How many people can say they were the absolute best pitcher/hitter for five years. I was looking at the vets committee for the group that Ted Simmons was on the ballot with and I concluded I would mostly be ok with all of them. Evans was great, Parker/dale Murphy are like Santana, Tommy John with all the victories. Even Garvey is ok with me. He was Mr Baseball during his time with the dodgers.

I guess I’ve moved from being a small hall guy to a big hall guy but I think it’s mostly that the standards have gotten really tight



   12. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: November 29, 2020 at 06:50 PM (#5991529)
I think Jaffe has had a lot to do with this.

I would be utterly shocked if Jaffe had ANYTHING to do with this. The younger, more statistically knowledgeable writers tend to have more full ballots; it's the older crowd that has tended to delay the borderline candidates, and I would be more inclined to believe that those guys have never heard of JAWS than that it has any influence on their ballots.
   13. Jaack Posted: November 29, 2020 at 08:04 PM (#5991535)
I think Jaffe has had a lot to do with this. His focus is to make sure the JAWS averages go up upon each election meaning that no one below the average should be voted in. That mentality has never happened before. It’s why Baines is such a shock.


This is pretty silly - Rolen just barely survived his first round despite being above average in JAWS. Walker and Mussina took forever and they're above average too. It's been a struggle as of late for anyone who isn't a no brainer.

I can guarantee you that there was not a single voter who thought Jim Edmonds was a Hall of Famer but looked at his JAWS score decided against it because he was below the positional average.
   14. bookbook Posted: November 29, 2020 at 08:31 PM (#5991536)
#11, I think the most effective use of JAWS, by Jaffe as well as others, has been to point out those above average who have been overlooked. JAWS helped Raines and Edgar get elected. I think it will help Scott Rolen gain admittance.

What the use of JAWS does is help change the narrative about who the most deserving excluded players are, not actually shrink or grow the HOF. (You want Parker/Dale Murphy/Garvey/Santana. A JAWS supporting fan wants Whittaker/Grich/Larry Walker/Kevin Brown)

Though it's called the "Hall of Fame" it has always seemed to me it was about rewarding admittance to those who helped their teams win the most games, not those who brought fame to the game.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: November 29, 2020 at 08:47 PM (#5991539)
Plus I'm not sure anybody really looks at JAWS per se. WAR sure but that's not Jaffe's "fault." I suppose the ease of finding the JAWS ranking at b-r may give it some influence. But I couldn't tell what an average JAWS score is and I'm not sure I've ever once consulted the actual JAWS number in an HoF debate -- the ranking at times but I'm more likely to compare where they are by WAR and WAR7 than JAWS per se. (And as we all know, I have serious issues with assigning multi-position players to one position.)

And if anything, WAR has been opening doors for guys. Tim Raines was partly about WAR, Walker doesn't make it without WAR, Rolen doesn't progress without WAR, not sure Blyleven or Mussina/Schilling make it without WAR, I can't see Simmons in the VC without WAR, In many of those cases there was also a personal advocate involved but WAR was part of their pitch. I'm not sure Edgar or Bagwell make it without WAR. Abreu doesn't barely clear the 5% bar last year without it.

Meanwhile I don't see any cases where WAR held back some "deserve by fame" player -- maybe delayed it for Morris and Rice. The most famous "undeserving" player on the ballot right now is Vizquel who is over 50% and probably going in over the next few years (or via VC) despite not coming close by WAR. It's unlikely to stand in the way of Ortiz much less Ichiro. Kent maybe? (My impression is that it's mainly WAR types that support him.) It certainly wasn't WAR keeping Lofton and Emdonds out of a 2nd ballot or Trammell out of the HoF.

The 2012 ballot did see two pretty famous guys not do well. JuanGone was gone and Bernie made the cut then dropped under in 2013. But both also received substantially fewer votes than Muprhy and Mattingly in 2012 so that was a consensus of the WAR and non-WAR voter alike.

It is obvious that b-r (and others) have made it easy to track down and compare player stats. Things like OPS+/ERA+ and WAR make it a lot easier for us to make some sort of sensible adjustment for context. Because of that, possibly "fame" or more likely reputation have less influence than they used to. But "Lou Brock wouldn't get in" is a tough case to make when it looks like Vizquel is going to get in and Ichiro is easily going in and still nobody with 3,000 hits has been kept out. Maybe if Brock had overlapped with Biggio, he would have lost that comparison in most voters' eyes and not cruised in first ballot ... but then that would have meant he was post-Rickey and he wouldn't have been nearly so famous either.

There are all sorts of alternate histories we could write. In the WAR era, Wills probably doesn't win the 62 MVP which he barely squeaked out over Mays. Without that and with us scoffing at his 88 OPS+ and <30 WAR7, he doesn't last 15 years on the ballot much less hit 40%. Maybe Hodges doesn't do better than McGriff ... or maybe Hodges plays the Rice/Morris role. It does seem reasonable to say that Hunter never would have made it if WAR had been as prominent then as now.

As to a Garvey, etc. ... it's one thing to say that the fame of some future Garvey should be enough but at this point, Garvey's fame is long gone. Leaving aside whether the purpose of a HoF is to confer fame or to recognize it, are there really people who want a "Hall of past fame even though we now realize that fame wasn't deserved due to outstanding accomplishments and it turns out the guy was a jerk but, hey, it will give a handful of people around 60 years old a little nostalgia kick?" Cuz if we're gonna have one of those, let's start with a lifetime achievement Emmy for Karen Valentine (who, as far as I know, is not a jerk).

EDIT: although JAWS dates back to 2004, it didn't start appearing on b-r until Nov 2012. (per Wiki)
   16. Walt Davis Posted: November 29, 2020 at 09:39 PM (#5991543)
On #10 and milestones: It's shocking how much Stanton's chances at 500 HR have fallen off. Favorite Toy might still like him but he's gone from near certain to under 50% in my eyes. Obviously just 168 PA in the last 2 years isn't good but it's also just 7 HRs in that time which, even if he could manage a full 650 PA, is just 24 HR per year. He's 188 away and turning 31. The contract runs for another 7 years so he'll be on the field whenever healthy -- and presumably a healthy Stanton picks up the pace from 24/650 -- but what are the chances he'll get the 3500-4000 PA he needs at this point?

He's Stanton so he might be there in 4 years for all we know and obviously he has a better chance of becoming Nelson Cruz (311 HR ages 31+) than Nelson Cruz did ... but Cruz might have the better chance of making 500. (Probably not. He'd need to set the record for HR aged 40+ -- Fisk 72 -- but he had the 2nd most all-time at 38 and was on-pace for 2nd-most at 39 so we shouldn't rule it out.)

Cruz sits 8th on the all-time 31+ HR leaderboard. He pulled past Ortiz by one this year. He needs 19 to tie Thome, 30 for Willie and 34 for Mac. Tying Fisk would put him 4th and getting his 88 would move him well past Aaron into 3rd. (Ruth 405, Bonds 470)
   17. sunday silence (again) Posted: November 29, 2020 at 09:51 PM (#5991544)
That mentality has never happened before. It’s why Baines is such a shock.


I remember when I first heard the news that Baines had been elected and I was like "what, but his JAWS number is so low?"
   18. sunday silence (again) Posted: November 29, 2020 at 10:21 PM (#5991548)
How about this as an alternative theory:

Back in the old days talent was concentrated, usually among the best teams: say NYG of the early days, the NYY, old STL team, CHC, BRO/LAD even PIT of more recent times. And so the best players usually ended up on pretty good teams and so had much more liklihood of having BOTH narrative and statistical basis.

Think of all those guys who arent inner circle but were associated with great teams e.g. Schoendienst or Hartnett or Pie Traynor or RIzzuto or Snider or Travis Jackson or whoever. There must be 50 guys like that. There was never really a reason to start to talk about Narrative vs Statistics because those two factors usually converged on just the right players who fit both. So like nowadays say Lou Brock might be open to question but at the time it seemed perfectly reasonable as he had the counting stat (3000 hits) as well as post season heroics.

Obviously there are quite a few exceptions like say Luke Appling. Of course the Hall is pretty good about recognizing obvious talent.

Nowadays with expansion and perhaps teams are more competitive, talent is more spread out. We have guys like Jim Edmunds or Dale Murphy or Buddy Bell or Trammell/Whitaker (obviously Trammel is in but it took a long time) or say jose Cruz or Jim Wynn etc. Alot of those guys might be borderline but they dont have much cachet or fame or whatever to take them over the line. But had they been on the old NYG or the Gas House Gang they might be obvious.

I dunno just something I thought of. It doesnt explain all of it or maybe any of it. Have to study it more.
   19. Booey Posted: November 30, 2020 at 12:01 AM (#5991556)
#10, #16 - Yeah, that's another thing that's gonna be tough for future Hall voters; the current trends of the game are going to make traditional milestones much more rare, and record breaking seasons or careers damn near non-existent. The standards for pitchers wins and innings will need to be adjusted of course once we get past the Greinke/Verlander/Kershaw/Scherzer quartet, but we're not even just talking about pitchers; hitting numbers are going down too. With batting averages at historic lows, fewer players are going to get 3000 hits or retire with .300 averages. In fact, only 9 active players currently have a .300 average, and I'd bet on only one of them (Cabrera) maintaining that by the end of his career (and Miggy debuted in 2003; he's more a product of the previous generation than the current one). Just as 300 game winners appear to be a thing of the past, career .300 hitters may become all but extinct as well. With no one on base, huge RBI totals are getting rare too. 30 homer seasons often produce only 70 or 80 rbi, and just 90 rbi for a 40 homer season isn't uncommon. There aren't specialists who dominate a single category to the degree there used to be; gone are the Gwynn's and Ichiro's and Carew's who make the HOF primarily because of really high batting averages and hit totals, or speedsters like Raines whose main case is centered around stolen bases. The best position players are looking like they're largely going to be Dwight Evans, Lou Whitaker, Bobby Grich types; players who are good at everything but whose numbers don't really pop off the page in any specific category, and we've seen how the voters have treated those guys. Paul Goldschmidt and Freddie Freeman have routinely been amongst the best players in the game so they "feel" rather Hall of Famey...but what are realistic career totals for them? A .285 avg and less than 400 homers? Those don't look like HOF numbers for a 1B. Even a possibly inner circle (by WAR) guy like Mookie Betts is likely to finish with what, a .290 avg and 350 homers?

And records...what major single season or career records even appear possible in today's game (batters strikeouts don't count!)? Homers are at an all time high...but that's because every rando hits 20-30. The top guys aren't hitting any more than they used to. Strikeouts are at an all time high...but pitchers don't toss enough innings anymore to threaten the single season or career records. Major records changing hands used to happen at least a few times every decade, but they've already pretty much disappeared, and don't look likely to come back anytime soon.

Major records broken by decade, post expansion, off the top of my head (and I'm talking about overall records, not rookie records, positional records, etc):

1960's - Roger Maris breaks single season HR record. Sandy Koufax breaks single season K record. Maury Wills breaks single season SB record. Bob Gibson sets record for lowest single season ERA in live ball era. Denny McClain becomes last to win 30 games in a season (if you consider that a record)

1970's - Hank Aaron breaks career records for homeruns, rbi, and total bases. Nolan Ryan breaks single season K record. Lou Brock breaks single season and career SB records.

1980's - Rickey Henderson breaks single season SB record. Nolan Ryan breaks career K record. Pete Rose breaks career hits record.

1990's - Rickey Henderson breaks career SB record. Cal Ripken Jr breaks consecutive games record (you can debate whether that's a major record or not, but it was certainly treated like one). Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa break single season HR record.

2000's - Rickey Henderson breaks career records for runs scored and walks. Barry Bonds breaks single season record for HR, walks (3 times), slugging, and on base percentage (twice), and career records for HR and walks. Ichiro Suzuki breaks single season hits record. Trevor Hoffman breaks career saves record (if you consider saves a major record. I don't think it was before Hoffman, but at this point I think it is thought of as a big deal)

In the 2010's, we just had Rivera breaking Hoffman's save record, if you even consider saves a big deal. I definitely don't think the single season save record is considered a big deal, but the real voters obviously care much more about career saves than I do, so we'll count it (and even that was back in 2011). Cabrera winning the first Triple Crown in 45 years was cool, but not really a record. What else was there? There's definitely some excitement missing from the modern game without record chases, and there's going to be some pedestrian sounding Hall of Fame plaques without them too.
   20. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: November 30, 2020 at 12:12 AM (#5991557)
2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 29, 2020 at 02:04 PM (#5991504)
I think stars the number of stars doesn't scale with the size of the league. Going from 16 to 30 teams, and the changing roster usage, has doubled the number of regulars, but it's not going to double the number of stars.


But allowing players from all countries and races makes a big difference, and the arrival (if not the immediate widespread inclusion) of those players roughly corresponds to the onset of team expansion. Heck, most folks here were alive (if young) when the first Latino was inducted into the Hall (Clemente). While some here may feel old, it hasn't been that long considering the length of most Hall-worthy careers, the built-in waiting period, and the too-common "make guys wait a few years to get in" voting behavior.

Rivera (and Edgar) are the most recent Latino inductees. Mo was inducted in 2019, 24 year after he debuted in 1995. His MLB debut is just 22 years after Clemente's induction, but 40 years after Clemente's debut. These two guys got in the Hall about as fast as two players can. Yet Clemente's MLB debut to Rivera's induction is nearly 65 years.
   21. EddieA Posted: November 30, 2020 at 01:19 AM (#5991558)

But allowing players from all countries and races makes a big difference

Integration and Latin players did make a huge difference initially. But contra that in today's game is the multiple sport choices and interests of US boys - with baseball no longer being the almost free, ubiquitous sand lot game in the US. So the population of high quality players may actually be decreasing despite the influx of international talent.

The Hall of Fame a long time ago went from being limited to truly great or legendary players, maybe by the 1945/1946 Veterans selections, at least by the 1948 election of Herb Pennock and Pie Traynor - like they had run out of truly great or legendary players. If you want a Hall of truly great and legendary players, you have to make your own. If you let everyone in, it doesn't mean anything. But there are three truly great and legendary players excluded now (only one by rule) that make the HOF kinda ridiculous even if you look at it as a Hall of Very Good to Great.
   22. Booey Posted: November 30, 2020 at 08:41 AM (#5991562)
#21 - It didn't even take that long; by 1939 the BBWAA was already letting in very good but not great players like George Sisler and Willie Keeler. The selections were limited to true greats for literally only the first few years (and that was just clearing up the backlog). Other than getting much more strict with the character clause regarding modern players, it's basically been what it is now since the beginning.
   23. DL from MN Posted: November 30, 2020 at 09:18 AM (#5991573)
with baseball no longer being the almost free, ubiquitous sand lot game in the US


Yeah, I think that's Minecraft now
   24. Booey Posted: November 30, 2020 at 09:31 AM (#5991576)
In #21 I meant that the BBWAA has always been what it is now. Obviously the various forms of the VC have varied wildly over the years with how strict or lenient they've been.
   25. Ron J Posted: November 30, 2020 at 09:42 AM (#5991579)
#22 Sisler and Keeler were more about what happens when you have narrative cases rather than statistical ones. People genuinely thought Keeler was one of the 19th century elites and Sisler was kind of a Sandy Koufax case.

There were plenty of early questionable decisions but those two are basically attempts to get things right with the tools available at hand. The 1946 VC selections are the clearest example of your point.
   26. McCoy Posted: November 30, 2020 at 10:11 AM (#5991582)
The HoF is a tourist trap designed to put money in the coffers of the people of Cooperstown.
   27. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 30, 2020 at 10:19 AM (#5991583)
The HoF is a tourist trap designed to put money in the coffers of the people of Cooperstown.

It's certainly not a "tourist trap" by any reasonable definition of that term. It's an excellent museum.
   28. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: November 30, 2020 at 10:40 AM (#5991588)
It's an excellent museum.


Concur. I've long stopped caring about the Hall in terms of which players get selected or not but I try to get there every few years and wander around a bit. If you are a baseball fan with an appreciation for the history of the game it is a great place to spend a day.
   29. TomH Posted: November 30, 2020 at 03:18 PM (#5991659)
This has been discussed at length for some time. Not saying it doesn't need to be brought up again, but given the huge number of players (some poorly selected) from pre-1940 who are IN the Hall, the problem does not lend itself to good resolution.

But how COULD we come up with a solution that would (a) address the general issue that modern players are poorly recognized and (b) generate solid discussion, and attention, for the Hall of Fame in particular and MLB in general? I propose the following (and no, I take no credit for this being my original idea).

The HoF creates an inner circle. A higher honor. Well, it eventually creates rings of inner circles, but let's start with one.

Count how many HoF honorees there are whose main contribution was PLAYING baseball (not dugout), including the NgLgs. Divide by THREE. Let's say that comes to 70. The HoF will create a process to bestow Inner Circle HoF honors to 70 players. The original election will take likely a few years to come about (huge new process). Thereafter for every 3 more players elected to the original HoF, a new election for one more Inner Circle HoFer will be held. No more arguing about Big Hall and Small Hall guys... the # is fixed. And less arguing about mysterious character clauses.. it will be based on results, although voters could choose to not vote for roiders or greenie-takers or spitballers or trash bangers or whatever cheating you think lowers a player's results-based contribution.

We won't argue about Babe Ruth and Walter Johnson, because they will sail in. The discussion will center on the 40th-100th best players, the Reggies and Kalines and Koufaxes and Mo's.

Then some day after that exercise is done, the Hall creates an Inner Inner Circle, whose membership is culled from the above, down to only one-third of it. Now we're down to less than 25. We can hold a new election to the Inner Inner Circle every who knows, 4-8 years.

Good for baseball. Good for the Hall. You can schedule bonus induction weekends, maybe post-World Series if it ain't snowing.

Maybe I will make it my retirement hobby.

   30. bfan Posted: November 30, 2020 at 04:40 PM (#5991679)
#29 is fantastic. What an entertaining, captivating, discussion prompting process.

I cannot imagine why cooperstown and baseball would not do it, except that the idea didn't originate with them.
   31. McCoy Posted: November 30, 2020 at 04:56 PM (#5991684)
It's most definitely a tourist trap. That's the entire reason it exists.
   32. John DiFool2 Posted: November 30, 2020 at 05:08 PM (#5991687)
Paul Goldschmidt and Freddie Freeman have routinely been amongst the best players in the game so they "feel" rather Hall of Famey...but what are realistic career totals for them? A .285 avg and less than 400 homers? Those don't look like HOF numbers for a 1B.


Here is a reasonable off-the-cuff future projection for Freeman (cumulative totals, presumes a ~10%-20% yearly decline), presume he currently has a 5 WAR/year baseline [yes may be conservative):

Hits HRs WAR
-------------
1700 270 44
1860 300 48.5
2015 327 52.5
2170 353 55.5
2220 377 58
2360 400 60

For a 1B, is that going to get anything other than a collective yawn from the BBWAA?

His age 30 similarity list:

Eddie Murray (919.9) *
Carl Yastrzemski (909.6) *
Prince Fielder (909.5)
Shawn Green (906.5)
Kent Hrbek (901.5)
Mark Teixeira (900.8)
Will Clark (898.3)
David Wright (896.7)
Greg Luzinski (896.5)
John Olerud (894.7)

2 no doubters-and 6 guys who fell off of cliffs. [Thrill & Olerud excepted] LOL, Goldschmidt is his clear #1 career match...
   33. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: November 30, 2020 at 05:21 PM (#5991692)
#29 is fantastic. What an entertaining, captivating, discussion prompting process.

Agreed, I have wanted the Hall to do something like this for quite a while. We never have an obvious reason to talk about the merits of players who are already in the Hall; this would give us one. And there's no real need to rush the initial process either, you could add something like 5 per year to the initial inner circle until it reaches 1/3 of the overall size, then start the next level at 2 per year once the first level is initially finished.
   34. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 30, 2020 at 05:31 PM (#5991696)
Then some day after that exercise is done, the Hall creates an Inner Inner Circle, whose membership is culled from the above, down to only one-third of it. Now we're down to less than 25. We can hold a new election to the Inner Inner Circle every who knows, 4-8 years.
The endgame being, I assume, a ceremony sometime in 2060 where someone draws a circle around Babe Ruth's plaque? Or maybe a months-long buildup to the Big Reveal of whether the Innerest Innermost Circle Presented by Taco Bell will be placed around Ruth or Trout, depending on how things go.
   35. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: November 30, 2020 at 05:55 PM (#5991706)
It's most definitely a tourist trap. That's the entire reason it exists.

There's no reason it can't be both a very good museum and a tourist trap.
   36. Hank Gillette Posted: November 30, 2020 at 06:08 PM (#5991710)
It's most definitely a tourist trap. That's the entire reason it exists.


This depends on your definition of “tourist trap”. My definition would be something that is overhyped and not worth the cost. I’ve only been to the Hall once, but it was definitely worth the visit and the cost of admission for me.

My idea of a tourist trap is South of the Border or the entire town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
   37. alilisd Posted: November 30, 2020 at 10:34 PM (#5991766)
It's pretty clear that baseball went through a ballotgeddon period from 2013 onwards. Some worthy candidates were unable to get traction (Johan Santana for sure), and others took a while to finally get in (Tim Raines, Larry Walker).


I don't see Santana really being the best example, and didn't think it was a good choice by the author. Although one can certainly make an argument for Santana, it's a Koufax-like argument. He was extraordinarily good, but for an exceptionally short period of time. First four seasons primarily a reliever, done at 33, only about 2,000 career IP just 51 career WAR. BUT, man, those three seasons from 2004 to 2006 were so good, and 2008 was damn good, too. Throw in a few other very good to excellent, though lesser, seasons, and in an era of 5 man rotations and heavy bullpen usage he's Koufax, without the extraordinary post season accomplishments.

The overlooked guys, or the ones who were hurt by "ballotgeddon" are, IMO, Edmonds and Lofton. Both were one and done, but if they'd had a chance to hang around and build some momentum, they appear to me to be solid HOF CF, just not necessarily obvious HOF. Edmonds in particular needed time to be considered. They're both a heckuva lot better than Mr. First Ballot Kirby Puckett at least.
   38. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: November 30, 2020 at 10:44 PM (#5991767)
Although one can certainly make an argument for Santana, it's a Koufax-like argument. He was extraordinarily good, but for an exceptionally short period of time. First four seasons primarily a reliever, done at 33, only about 2,000 career IP just 51 career WAR. BUT, man, those three seasons from 2004 to 2006 were so good, and 2008 was damn good, too. Throw in a few other very good to excellent, though lesser, seasons, and in an era of 5 man rotations and heavy bullpen usage he's Koufax, without the extraordinary post season accomplishments.


Santana was better overall and more valuable, but this line of thinking is essentially the same as what's said about Don Mattingly and the Hall. For both it's "Geez, those few years were so good, but I'd need a little more."
   39. SoSH U at work Posted: November 30, 2020 at 10:59 PM (#5991770)
For both it's "Geez, those few years were so good, but I'd need a little more."


Justifiably so. If you're a peak-only player, you've got to have a historically great peak. Koufax had one. Santana's close. Mattingly isn't.
   40. Booey Posted: December 01, 2020 at 12:53 AM (#5991778)
Santana is the pitcher burnout or injury case that I'm most disappointed about from my 30+ years of fandom. Nomar is the position player who takes that title for me.

But I still couldn't bring myself to vote for either of them. They just didn't do enough.
   41. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 01, 2020 at 11:03 AM (#5991814)
Nomar is the position player who takes that title for me.

But I still couldn't bring myself to vote for either of them. They just didn't do enough.
What, he should have saved THREE drowning women?? Four???
   42. Ron J Posted: December 01, 2020 at 11:09 AM (#5991816)
A true HOFer like Derek Jeter prevents drownings simply by being in the area.
   43. Lassus Posted: December 01, 2020 at 11:18 AM (#5991818)
Speaking of drowning I see little reason to take as definitive the least-positive description of the Baseball Hall of Fame possible from the coldest wet blanket on the site.
   44. DL from MN Posted: December 01, 2020 at 11:34 AM (#5991823)
Pitcher IP ERA+ WAA
Santana 2025 136 32.8
Hoffman 1089 141 13.8
Wagner 903 187 16.5

It is ridiculous to think Santana doesn't meet a standard that is met by Trevor Hoffman or Billy Wagner.
   45. alilisd Posted: December 01, 2020 at 11:35 AM (#5991824)
Santana is the pitcher burnout or injury case that I'm most disappointed about from my 30+ years of fandom. Nomar is the position player who takes that title for me.


Oh, yes, Nomar really hurts! Man, so good, but cut down by injuries. Great comparison between him and Santana.
   46. The Yankee Clapper Posted: December 01, 2020 at 11:51 AM (#5991826)
Why hasn’t Thibbs Tracker been linked & pinned at the top of the Newsblog page? He’s got 17 votes already.
   47. Powderhorn™, moonstruck rascal Posted: December 01, 2020 at 12:01 PM (#5991827)
What, he should have saved THREE drowning women?? Four???

Nobody's disputing his peak. But how many women did he save after that? Harold Baines saved 0.27 women every year. And Matt Stairs would have saved the women by being a raft.
   48. bfan Posted: December 01, 2020 at 12:06 PM (#5991830)
A true HOFer like Derek Jeter prevents drownings simply by being in the area.


We had just better hope that none of the drowning women are to Jeter's left.
   49. bfan Posted: December 01, 2020 at 12:17 PM (#5991832)
Freeman's non-hall similarity list:

Prince Fielder (909.5)
Shawn Green (906.5)
Kent Hrbek (901.5)
Mark Teixeira (900.8)
Will Clark (898.3)
David Wright (896.7)
Greg Luzinski (896.5)
John Olerud (894.7)

2 guys who carried way too much weight for their bodies, 2 non first basemen position players who presumably had harder wear and tear.

Hrbek is a mystery to me; he retired at 34 with a 99 OPS+, and having had a 120+ OPS the year before. That just doesn't scream retirement to me; was he just bored with baseball and wanted to move onto another phase of his life?
   50. John DiFool2 Posted: December 01, 2020 at 12:22 PM (#5991834)
[waves to bfan from 32]
   51. bfan Posted: December 01, 2020 at 12:30 PM (#5991835)
[waves to bfan from 32]


Yes, I copied your list and commented on it.
   52. Booey Posted: December 01, 2020 at 12:36 PM (#5991836)
#44 - Well yes, but they wouldn't be in my personal HOF either. Santana comes a lot closer in my eyes than Hoffman or Wagner do.
   53. sunday silence (again) Posted: December 01, 2020 at 12:42 PM (#5991839)

Justifiably so. If you're a peak-only player, you've got to have a historically great peak. Koufax had one.


I respect this line of reasoning but I have one problem with it: Koufax is like the only candidate who qualifies under it. Or am I missing someone? (Addie Joss? I guess Walt suggested Sisler but he still had a productive career after the mumps thing)

It seems if Peak only, is really a thing, then it needs to be available to more than one player or more than someone who lived 100 years ago. I guess we've got Dick Allen who certainly fits the bill of peak only. Or is this just reserved for pitchers cause they have uncertain careers?
   54. flournoy Posted: December 01, 2020 at 12:49 PM (#5991841)
Hrbek is a mystery to me [...] was he just bored with baseball and wanted to move onto another phase of his life?


Pro wrestling, I assume.

Seeing Hrbek's name anywhere is infuriating, but seeing it on Freddie Freeman's comp list is especially unpleasant.
   55. Booey Posted: December 01, 2020 at 12:54 PM (#5991844)
Re: Freeman, Goldschmidt, and others -

That's kinda the issue going forward, I think, in that other than that Angelfish guy, even the biggest stars don't put up THAT big of numbers anymore, at least for more than a season or two. If they're not lasting as long either, then there just aren't going to be very many careers for voters to choose from that have traditional HOF caliber numbers. Very few .300 hitters, fewer 500 HR and 3000 hit guys, very few who even reach Harold Baines levels of rbi's, no one who even steals 400 bases, etc.

And for pitchers who debuted past 2010 or so, we're probably gonna have to look at 2500 innings and 150+ wins as being acceptable HOF career totals (assuming they have the peak, a la Sale, deGrom, Cole, maybe Kluber, etc).
   56. SoSH U at work Posted: December 01, 2020 at 01:10 PM (#5991848)
I respect this line of reasoning but I have one problem with it: Koufax is like the only candidate who qualifies under it. Or am I missing someone? (Addie Joss? I guess Walt suggested Sisler but he still had a productive career after the mumps thing)


Ralph Kiner. Allen will be one when he goes in next time.
   57. Booey Posted: December 01, 2020 at 01:24 PM (#5991849)
#56 - If we're including VC picks (Allen), then there's several peak only selections from the 20's and 30's (the infamous Frisch years): Chuck Klein, Hack Wilson, Chick Hafey, etc.

Dizzy Dean is another pitcher who took the Koufax route to the HOF.
   58. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 01, 2020 at 01:29 PM (#5991852)
Pitcher IP ERA+ WAA
Santana 2025 136 32.8
Hoffman 1089 141 13.8
Wagner 903 187 16.5

It is ridiculous to think Santana doesn't meet a standard that is met by Trevor Hoffman or Billy Wagner.


Oh c'mon Dan, you know they're being treated as separate positions. I think that's dumb, you think that's dumb, but the voters obviously think differently.
   59. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 01, 2020 at 01:36 PM (#5991854)
Dizzy Dean is another pitcher who took the Koufax route to the HOF.


I'm not entirely sure they're comparable, but Catfish Hunter made the Hall of Fame largely on the strength of his peak: 5 straight 20-win seasons, pitched for 6 pennant winners in 7 years, ERA helped tremendously by his home ballparks. Voters didn't do a great job of actually evaluating his peak, mind you; but they voted for him based on his peak, I think.
   60. Rally Posted: December 01, 2020 at 01:41 PM (#5991855)
Hrbek is a mystery to me [...] was he just bored with baseball and wanted to move onto another phase of his life?


His last year was the strike year of 1994. I could see the uncertainty of that winter leading him to think he'd had enough.
   61. Rally Posted: December 01, 2020 at 01:46 PM (#5991856)
Not sure if Hrbek's contract was up after 1994 or he walked away from money. But if his contract was up he would almost certainly have been looking at a pay cut to come back, and maybe would have had to change teams depending on what the Twins were thinking. They were not good at the time so might not have wanted to pay a big contract for a 35 year old vet.
   62. SoSH U at work Posted: December 01, 2020 at 01:48 PM (#5991857)
maybe would have had to change teams depending on what the Twins were thinking.


And he was a local boy, so this may have had less appeal.
   63. DL from MN Posted: December 01, 2020 at 02:09 PM (#5991859)
Frequently injured (though seldom seriously), Hrbek retired after the players strike in 1994, citing his nagging injury problems and desire to spend more time with his wife and daughter at their home in Bloomington, Minnesota.


Out of shape and in decline. The Twins were pretty lousy in 1995 too.
   64. Zonk Can Sell Culture Posted: December 01, 2020 at 02:29 PM (#5991869)
I don't recall where - but I think TomH's 29 was previously written up... somewhere... in the idea space of changing the museum building itself into a "pyramid" and using levels to represent inner circle vs the bigger, concentric circle of inductees.

I always liked the idea -- if I were ever Bezos-level wealthy, this would be something I'd drop a chunk of wealth on... Offer to build the HOF a totally new building, but using that sort of design schema and get... someone(s)... fans, BBWAA, whomever, on board to tier the inductees.

I do agree, I love the HoF as a museum -- but I think some kind of pyramid type building with the plaques arranged by such tiers around the outside with all the other exhibits and special exhibitions and whatnot occupying the main space.
   65. alilisd Posted: December 01, 2020 at 02:46 PM (#5991880)
And Matt Stairs would have saved the women by being a raft.


He's really more of a manatee, but I take your meaning and support it wholeheartedly
   66. alilisd Posted: December 01, 2020 at 02:48 PM (#5991881)
It is ridiculous to think Santana doesn't meet a standard that is met by Trevor Hoffman or Billy Wagner.

Oh c'mon Dan, you know they're being treated as separate positions. I think that's dumb, you think that's dumb, but the voters obviously think differently.


I'll third the sentiment
   67. alilisd Posted: December 01, 2020 at 03:50 PM (#5991887)
That's kinda the issue going forward, I think, in that other than that Angelfish guy, even the biggest stars don't put up THAT big of numbers anymore, at least for more than a season or two. If they're not lasting as long either, then there just aren't going to be very many careers for voters to choose from that have traditional HOF caliber numbers. Very few .300 hitters, fewer 500 HR and 3000 hit guys, very few who even reach Harold Baines levels of rbi's, no one who even steals 400 bases, etc.


I have a couple of comments on this. The first is that the sorts of numbers you're talking about (.300, 500 HR, 3,000 hits) are the sorts of milestones which tend to make a player a lock for the HOF, they're not the floor. For example, Speaker and Cobb both retired in 1928 with well over 3,000 hits, but between them and Waner in 1945 only one player, Collins, reached 3,000 hits; however, using 2,500 hits as a cutoff shows that all 14 other players who retired between 1928 and 1945 were inducted. After Waner it was Musial in 1963 who was next to retire with 3K, but 4 of the 5 others who retired in between then with at least 2,500 were inducted. Nellie Fox and Ernie Banks were both inducted with fewer than 3K along with Clemente, who was next after Musial. After Clemente, just in the 70's, there are four other guys who retire with at least 3K but 3 of the 5 others who didn't still went in. The 80's only saw 3 of 6 with at least 2,500 but fewer than 3K go in, and the 90's only 1 of 3, but it also had 6 guys with at least 3K. After that you're getting into territory where guys are being excluded by PED bias, are still on the ballot, not yet on the ballot, or still active. Clearly the writers have no problem, or the VC in its various incarnations, putting in guys with significant numbers of hits but less than the mortal lock number of 3,000.

Big HR numbers are less of a predictor, but still 38 of the 103 who have at least 300 but fewer than 500 are either in, or still on the ballot, that takes you through the 2014 retirees. That's probably a simpler way to express it for hits, too. There are 69 players who have at least 2,500 hits, but fewer than 3,000. Only 25 are not yet in the Hall, but 5 are on the ballot and 3 are not yet eligible, so only 17, less than 1/3 were ruled out by the BBWAA so far.

The last caveat there, still active players, relates to my second comment. And that is it's far too early to say that stars don't put up big numbers anymore, or only for a season or two. We don't know what guys who are going into their 30's will age like. We don't know what younger guys still in their primes may put up in the next five years. We certainly can't know what guys like Acuna, Tatis, Soto, Albies, Correa, Bellinger, or Seager may do. Agree with you on pitchers though. With 5 man rotations, and increased bullpen usage it seems inevitable pitcher standards will have to evolve.
   68. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: December 01, 2020 at 04:02 PM (#5991888)
I find the charts used as the base premise of the article to be underwhelming. Of course the more recent eras don't have as many guys in yet. That is part of the process.

I'm seeing a flat trend line post-WW2.
   69. Booey Posted: December 01, 2020 at 04:47 PM (#5991898)
#67 - It's true that we don't know how the current generation of players will age, but it seems pretty cut and dry that the recent trend of plummeting batting averages will have to lead to fewer .300 hitters and 3000 hit guys. Stolen bases have also dropped way off, so you're not going to see speed based HOF cases much anymore either. As I mentioned before, it's looking more likely that we're going to get more Evans/Whitaker/Grich type candidates that are good at everything but don't really stand out at anything. Those types of HOF worthy careers are generally harder for voters to identify (or they're just less willing to acknowledge them).

There's been a homogenization of the stats now that it's been proven that swinging for the fences on every pitch really is the one and only "best" way to produce value, so everyone's numbers are starting to look the same. No longer are we seeing speedsters like Raines and Lofton, high average-low power guys like Gwynn and Ichiro, and the best TTO sluggers like McGwire and Thome all putting up the same value but in vastly different ways. I miss that variety...and I suspect the voters will have a tougher time without the presence of specialists on the ballot with really high numbers in one or two categories to make it easy for them.
   70. Rowland Office Supplies Posted: December 01, 2020 at 06:14 PM (#5991924)
My idea of a tourist trap is South of the Border or the entire town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.


I almost fell out of that observation tower laughing when I schlepped up there only to find a majestic view of...wait for it...the Interstate, as far as the eye can see.
   71. DanG Posted: December 01, 2020 at 09:52 PM (#5991957)
#64
I don't recall where - but I think TomH's 29 was previously written up... somewhere... in the idea space of changing the museum building itself into a "pyramid" and using levels to represent inner circle vs the bigger, concentric circle of inductees.

I always liked the idea -- if I were ever Bezos-level wealthy, this would be something I'd drop a chunk of wealth on... Offer to build the HOF a totally new building, but using that sort of design schema and get... someone(s)... fans, BBWAA, whomever, on board to tier the inductees.

I do agree, I love the HoF as a museum -- but I think some kind of pyramid type building with the plaques arranged by such tiers around the outside with all the other exhibits and special exhibitions and whatnot occupying the main space.
I think I first ran across the idea of stratifying the HOF about thirty years ago. Ten years ago I ran a project to do just that:

The Seven Circles of Fame

The Hall of Fame’s honoring of Willie Mays and Jim Rice as if they were equals is nothing but ridiculous. Stratifying the Hall into levels of quality is something that Cooperstown badly needs to do. There are a million ways you could do it; this project is one of them. First, I’ll explain the evolution of the format.

At present, there are 232 players on the HOF’s official listing. Initially, I thought it would be good to divide the HOF in half, to know who was in the upper half and who was in the lower. Then it was, “yeah, but you need an inner circle.” So I thought that the top one-third of the upper hall would suffice for this (39 players). It produces a classic 1-2-3 pyramidal structure (39-77-116). Eh, still not quite exclusive enough at the top and the groups are still too big. Dividing each group in half would make it a six-level step pyramid, but I prefer a constant slope. To create a six-level, evenly escalating pyramid that retains the 1-2-3 structure at its core, you can use 3-5-7-9-11-13. That is, the highest level contains 3/48 of the Hall’s players, or the top one-sixteenth. Here’s the chart:

Level 1: 3/48 – 15 players – Immortals
Level 2: 5/48 – 24 players – Inner Circle
Level 3: 7/48 – 34 players – All-time Greats
Level 4: 9/48 – 43 players – Upper Hall
Level 5: 11/48 – 53 players – Middle Hall
Level 6: 13/48 – 63 players – Lower Hall (42) + Level 7 – Outer Hall (21)

It occurred to me that Level 6 would have a wide disparity in player quality from top to bottom, given that there are enshrined some players well short of HOF quality. I decided to acknowledge this fact, that there are men elected to the Hall for reasons other than their value as players, by removing one third of Level 6 (9% of players in the HOF) and creating a 7th level, an Outer Hall.

Here are the results of that little project.
   72. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 01, 2020 at 10:27 PM (#5991961)
I don't recall where - but I think TomH's 29 was previously written up... somewhere... in the idea space of changing the museum building itself into a "pyramid" and using levels to represent inner circle vs the bigger, concentric circle of inductees.

I first heard it from Bill Simmons (yeah, I know) and have loved the idea ever since.
   73. Walt Davis Posted: December 02, 2020 at 02:40 AM (#5991973)
A true HOFer like Derek Jeter prevents drownings simply by being in the area.

It's his calm eyes.

And Matt Stairs would have saved the women by being a raft.

Only if they were waving with their right hand.

Koufax is like the only candidate who qualifies under it. Or am I missing someone? (Addie Joss? I guess Walt suggested Sisler but he still had a productive career after the mumps thing)

Not me (maybe another Walt?), Sisler is an odd one for me. On the position player side, I'd cite Greenberg (just 6100 PA due to war) and Campy (just 4800 due to racism and car crash). Jackie Robinson too of course.

I do like to distinguish between "peak" and "prime." To me a genuine peak-only case is like 4-5 great years and nothing. I don't see an issue that Koufax is the only one that qualifies (that I know of). The main reason he's the only one that qualifies is because he's the only great player it's happened to. And if you've only got 4-5 years they have to be off the charts. Obviously with 4-5 off the chart years, you are gonna keep getting more chances and you'd have to fall off completely not to build a decent career case. (You've also got the 10-year rule of course -- I assume they'd have waived it for Koufax if he didn't have it.)

But, would I be OK with Mike Trout if he had been bit by a bus in Feb 2017? Sure. Fortunately he wasn't. I'm not sure when I first called Scherzer a "lock" but I think it was after CYA #3 but maybe it was a year later. I think I was the first to suggest that Kluber might be closing in on it (alas, he fell apart). So sure, if you put up 40+ WAR in 5 seasons or win 3 CYA/MVPs in a short period but, for whatever reason, that was it, you deserve at least consideration -- you were all-caps GREAT for 5 years.

"Prime" is longer and this is what I think of as the "common" alternative to a career case. Prime is probably something like 8-10 years and, to have a HoF case, you'd need to be near the very top, at least for your position. Still, for me, it requires you producing at a "no-doubter" pace for those years to get into consideration. Chase Utley's a recent (sorta) example. His 10-year prime is 60 WAR in just under 6000 PA. He should have gotten a lot more MVP love (maybe even a trophy or two) and he made 6 AS games. He's got the 9th-best WAR7 for a 2B although basically tied with his contemporary Cano so arguably not the best 2B of his prime. Obviously adding some hardware or lots of AS games helps this case but you probably don't need 3 CYA/MVP.

Kirby Puckett may be the most recent obvious prime-only guy elected -- again, a career cut short beyond his control. But it's his age 26-35 run that puts him in. I didn't and don't think it was good enough. (Not sure if Kiner is here or the peak-only group. Greenberg's 6000 PA is probably enough to put him here.)

These guys will also be hard to find because generally a guy like Puckett will (a) be better pre-26 and (b) hang around for another 2000 PA (he was still at 3 WAR at 35). That Puckett is easily over 10,000 PA, close/over 3000 hits, etc. and he's a "career" case. Obviously we never really know why the BBWAA makes the collective decisions it does -- we can be pretty sure it's a mix of reasons -- so we can never definitively point to "it was X that got him elected" and it's pure speculation whether Dawson would have gotten in if he'd been felled by glaucoma after the 1986 season. But that prime (or lack of it), preferably mostly in your 20s, is basically what people mean when they say "he felt like a HoFer." Koufax is the sole(?) member of the "he woulda been an all-time great if not for ..."

So Nomar is a close one -- 41 WAR in 6 seasons of PT. That's not capital-letter great though is it? But it is ahead of (say) Greenberg's career pace. Lou Boudreau is the comp who made it, at least if we overlook the reduced ww2 competition -- 56 WAR in 5600 PA.

That might be a useful guide. The "prime" argument for a position player, in WAR form, is something like 1 WAR per 100 PA for 8-10 years. For a peak-only case, it's probably 1 WAA per 100 PA for 5 years (Trout 2012-16 is 36 WAA in 3400 PA). Nomar had 1 WAR per 100 PA for about 6 seasons of PT, just not enough. Maybe you don't quite need to be Trout/Ruth/Koufax in your peak-only case but you better blow our socks off. Jackie 29.5 WAA in 3169 PA in his 5-best years; Dale Murpny's best 5 (not consecutive) was 21.6 WAA in about 3400; so somewhere between those two. (That's my Bill James call :-)

Murphy's 8-year (consecutive) is 42 WAR in 5200 PA so he falls short on the prime measure too.
   74. Walt Davis Posted: December 02, 2020 at 02:55 AM (#5991974)
Banks is another one. Who knows if he would have gotten elected if he hadn't hung on for those counting stats but from 1955-60, 48 WAR, 33 WAA in 3900 PA. That's short of 1 WAA per 100 PA but well ahead of 1 WAR per 100.

Jackie: 1 WAA per 107 PA
Ernie: 1 per 118
Dale: 1 per 157

Obviously I've got to put Ernie on the safe side of the cut-off so how about 1 WAA per 130 to be considered on peak-only. If we took Ernie's 5 best, it's about 29.5 in 3500 PA which is a step closer to Jackie.
   75. sunday silence (again) Posted: December 02, 2020 at 06:06 AM (#5991977)
That was a fun read, Walt.

Does anayone know why Dale Murphy is being docked so heavily for his fielding age 28-30? this cuts a huge chunk of his value during his 6 year peak/prime. They took out 4.6 WAR there.

He seems to be the same player he was in the MVP seasons just prior to that. HIs fielding range in CF is right at league average which it always was for him in CF. He has a few more assists above average as per usual, maybe worth 1 run/year above avg. he is very good at holding runners as usual. Probably worth 2 runs/season. He's not great, but he's slightly above average based on these numbers.

If we give him back just 46 runs TZ took from him. He's almost 39 WAR for that six year prime. Give him some positive credit and he's right at 39. So a six year prime averaging 6.5 WAR year. During that prime he has two MVPs. I would think that's a very solid case.

Rally was explaining the defensive method in the other thread. It seems really odd here. He seems to be nearly the same player as the MVP guy. His batting is the same, the traditional fielding stats havent changed. He did get moved to RF at some pt in the age 30 season.
   76. TomH Posted: December 02, 2020 at 06:29 AM (#5991978)
DanG, thanks for giving us the link. I confess I don't recall your project. Which says something about how even in our current age of stuff-spreads-like-wildfire, any kind of proposal for a HoF pyramid or whatever would need to be bigly embraced by official parties. I mean, the HoM is about as big a project as you can get on the internet, and Very well done, but what, 0.1% of MLB fans are aware of it? If we could get a few big names on board from writers, execs, couple o' players, an idea possibly could GO somewhere.
   77. Ron J Posted: December 02, 2020 at 07:28 AM (#5991980)
#75 It's pretty simple for those years of Murphy's fielding. Like it or not what we have is range factor. Oh you can adjust for staff and all that but the fact remains that he made quite a bit fewer plays than a CF -- even one playing in Atlanta -- would be expected to make.

To put it in a similar time frame, fewer plays per defensive innings than guys like young Ron Gant or Oddibe McDowell. Quite a bit fewer than Otis Nixon would be making on a staff that had more than a few groundball specialists.

And fewer than he himself had been making when first becoming a regular CF.

Now range factor -- no matter how well adjusted -- has large error bars. But I think it's incumbent on somebody arguing against the numbers to make a case as to why they're off in this case.
   78. Rally Posted: December 02, 2020 at 08:16 AM (#5991983)
Range factor says Murphy lost a step and wasn't able to make all the plays.

1984 2.36 (lg 2.71)
1985 2.18 (lg 2.66)
1986 2.02 (lg 2.59)

Braves knew it, they moved him to a corner after the 1986 season. But somehow the gold glove voters kept voting for him. Back then you could win gold gloves with your bat and just by momentum (we gave it to him last year and he's still a good player, so let's give it to him again.)
   79. Zonk Can Sell Culture Posted: December 02, 2020 at 08:38 AM (#5991988)
I first heard it from Bill Simmons (yeah, I know) and have loved the idea ever since.


I was afraid of that, so I didn't google too hard and will instead believe it was DanG's project that I was thinking of, and I just got my geometric shapes mixed up in my memory... circles, no pyramids!

Fortunately, when I'm a bazillionaire, I won't be Elon Muskian about it... circles, pyramids, octagons, it's all good - I just want to buy everyone a new Hall of Fame with some architectural and design flair.
   80. sunday silence (again) Posted: December 02, 2020 at 08:39 AM (#5991989)
I totally missed that. I think I was looking at the column for range/game instead of League range/9 inn.

YEah that's huge. No extra credit for Murphy here. thanks for the help.
   81. DanG Posted: December 02, 2020 at 11:17 AM (#5992034)
DanG, thanks for giving us the link. I confess I don't recall your project. Which says something about how even in our current age of stuff-spreads-like-wildfire, any kind of proposal for a HoF pyramid or whatever would need to be bigly embraced by official parties. I mean, the HoM is about as big a project as you can get on the internet, and Very well done, but what, 0.1% of MLB fans are aware of it? If we could get a few big names on board from writers, execs, couple o' players, an idea possibly could GO somewhere.
I also ran a pyramid project in 2005: The 500-Player Pyramid

As the Hall of Merit was completing their original 111 elections in 2007, I suggested we stratify our Hall, but it never happened: The Ten Level Spectrum of HoMers
   82. alilisd Posted: December 02, 2020 at 12:21 PM (#5992048)
It's true that we don't know how the current generation of players will age, but it seems pretty cut and dry that the recent trend of plummeting batting averages will have to lead to fewer .300 hitters and 3000 hit guys.


Totally agree on BA being a significant change in the game. Emphasis on batting eye, being a patient hitter and taking your walks will likely continue for quite some time to come without other changes to the game/rules impacting. Combined with a willingness to strike out more often, and recognition that K's are not the devil, as well as the emphasis on hitting in the air will depress BA. The high career hit totals are likely to suffer as well. These together I think are the reasons 3,000 hits may become more rare for a time, at least, not because young stars can only put together a couple of great seasons. Bryce Harper is a good example. He started very young, and even though he's missed some time to injuries in a few seasons, he has a ton of playing time and is still in his 20's. He's not a threat to make it anywhere near 3K though as he walks and strikes out too often, but he's a great bet for 500 HR. 3K has always been a rare achievement, and as noted not a prerequisite to HOF induction. So although we may miss seeing those guys for quite a while, there will still be plenty of great hitters in some form or another.

Stolen bases have also dropped way off, so you're not going to see speed based HOF cases much anymore either.


Stolen bases have dropped off before. They tend to be higher in low run scoring environments as teams look to manufacture runs, and lower in high offensive environments like the 20's and 30's. But you're right that they've dropped off significantly recently, probably another analytics/data driven change. Still I don't think we've ever really seen any sort of significant numbers here anyway. Who would be "speed based HOF cases"? Henderson? So much more than just stolen bases there. Raines, I guess, but it seemed like more of a concerted effort to recognize his overall game which pushed him over the top, not just a speed case. Brock, I suppose, but he also had 3,000 hits so a ton of longevity. But, yes, without the stolen bases and the breaking of Cobb's record he would have been a tougher sell.

As I mentioned before, it's looking more likely that we're going to get more Evans/Whitaker/Grich type candidates that are good at everything but don't really stand out at anything. Those types of HOF worthy careers are generally harder for voters to identify (or they're just less willing to acknowledge them).


I would welcome this! I understand what you're saying about homogenization, and I also would like to see new players in a Lofton or Gwynn like mold, but they've always been rare, especially at the level needed for sustained success over 10 or more seasons. But to see more well rounded three and four tool players would be great, IMO. Five tools are always welcome, of course, but so very rare. And I think, despite James's recent whining about WAR, the electorate has evolved and will continue to evolve into a body more willing and able to recognize a Grich type of candidate. Data is also becoming ever more available and refined so the players who truly are great defenders will continue to become more evident. If you're looking for speed, enjoy Tatis and Acuna over the next decade, and pray they stay healthy!
   83. Rally Posted: December 02, 2020 at 01:05 PM (#5992057)
Tim Raines had 69 WAR. Between baserunnung and staying out of double plays that’s 12 wins. Plus Tim without the speed is probably not as good on defense, maybe 50-55 WAR. Wiht average speed he’d have a Bernie Williams HOF case, they have similar batting runs. Speed put Tim over the borderline.
   84. alilisd Posted: December 02, 2020 at 05:44 PM (#5992116)
Between baserunnung and staying out of double plays that’s 12 wins. Plus Tim without the speed is probably not as good on defense, maybe 50-55 WAR. Wiht average speed he’d have a Bernie Williams HOF case, they have similar batting runs. Speed put Tim over the borderline.


I can get behind that. But I'd note that what you're saying also goes towards my point about well rounded players. You mention baserunning and DP avoidance, not pure steals. And it should go without saying that OF defense, if not speed dependent, is definitely enhanced by speed. Positioning, good reads, and good routes can make up for a lack of speed, but combining all of those with plus speed is going to give you the better OF defender every time. I hope we get more players like this who have good speed, good instincts on the base paths and in the field, along with some loft in their swings!

Man, looking at him now it boggles the mind how it took so long for him to get the votes! From 21-27 he averaged 103 runs, 172 hits, 31 doubles, 72 steals to 11 caught stealing, and a .310/.396/.448 triple slash!
   85. Zach Posted: December 02, 2020 at 07:46 PM (#5992133)
I respect this line of reasoning but I have one problem with it: Koufax is like the only candidate who qualifies under it. Or am I missing someone? (Addie Joss? I guess Walt suggested Sisler but he still had a productive career after the mumps thing)


Pedro Martinez comes to mind.
   86. EddieA Posted: December 02, 2020 at 07:54 PM (#5992135)
Ed Walsh's peak was one year longer than Koufax's. Love those shutouts and Saves and 1. eras for Koufax and Walsh.
   87. John DiFool2 Posted: December 02, 2020 at 08:07 PM (#5992139)
Man, looking at him now it boggles the mind how it took so long for him to get the votes! From 21-27 he averaged 103 runs, 172 hits, 31 doubles, 72 steals to 11 caught stealing, and a .310/.396/.448 triple slash!


Same reason Kenny Lofton was one and done despite going .311/.387/.432 from ages 25-32, 105 runs & 54 steals per year. [Raines is 2nd on his comp list]
   88. alilisd Posted: December 03, 2020 at 11:02 AM (#5992238)
I respect this line of reasoning but I have one problem with it: Koufax is like the only candidate who qualifies under it. Or am I missing someone? (Addie Joss? I guess Walt suggested Sisler but he still had a productive career after the mumps thing)


Pedro Martinez comes to mind.


No, Pedro has a massively longer peak than Koufax, 7 seasons to 3 or 4 for Koufax (edit: I was too hard on Koufax, he should get 4, or 5, although 1962 and 1964 were short in terms of starts/IP), plus 5 more prime seasons. Pedro is not remotely like Koufax.
   89. alilisd Posted: December 03, 2020 at 11:37 AM (#5992245)
Same reason Kenny Lofton was one and done despite going .311/.387/.432 from ages 25-32, 105 runs & 54 steals per year. [Raines is 2nd on his comp list]


Not at all. Raines hit the ballot in 2008 when the electorate was still bloated with voters who were far past being well qualified to vote on HOF candidates, and in full stingy, "get off of my lawn" mode with votes. Goose Gossage was the only player elected, three other first year candidates received more than one vote (Fryman, Beck, and Nenn), while Rice moved into position in his 14th year, with Dawson and Blyleven moving up a bit more holding out over Morris and Smith. Raines did manage to secure a few more votes than McGwire received in his second year. In 2009 Rice and Henderson go in, no first year candidates received enough votes to stay on the ballot, but Raines percentage of votes declined slightly. In 2010 just Dawson goes in, but Alomar (oh but I thought baseball players were supposed to expectorate!) received 73% in his first year, Edgar did a bit better than Raines, but he did move up to 30%. Alomar and Blyleven go in the next year, but Larkin can only improve to 62%, with Bagwell debuting at 42% just in front of Raines who improved to 37.5%, leapfrogging Edgar at 33%, Walker, Palmeiro, and Juan Gone all manage to exceed 5% in their first year. The next year only Larkin makes it while Morris moves up along with Bagwell moving past Smith followed by Raines with 49% now. Gonzalez fell off, replaced by Bernie as the only first year to get more than 5%. Do you see how all over the map this is? Guys moving up, down, and practically sideways, with all kinds of well qualified candidates lingering, narrative cases like Morris and Smith hanging around, and only one player elected in half of the six years Raines has been on the ballot, despite numerous clearly well qualified players being available for induction.

Lofton hits this already overcrowded ballot in 2013 along with Biggio, Piazza, Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, AND Sosa. He may have been like Raines statistically, but his treatment on the ballot was not for the same reason. Raines was being made to wait his turn by an old, curmudgeonly electorate, which admittedly was still around when Lofton hit the ballot, but Lofton was undone by sheer force of numbers on the ballot and the constriction of the 10 player limit.
   90. DL from MN Posted: December 03, 2020 at 11:48 AM (#5992248)
Bert Campaneris is another player who doesn't look like a Hall of Famer until you add in his baserunning and defensive contributions. He was a plus defensive SS in the 1970s when everyone was sacrificing offense for defense. He's also still in the top 15 for stolen bases and has 57 career RBaseR.
   91. Booey Posted: December 03, 2020 at 12:20 PM (#5992254)
At 53 WAR and 21 WAA, Campaneris is still probably a bit shy of serious HOF consideration.

I do love his 22 homers in 1970, though. One of the flukiest flukes that ever fluked (his 2nd highest total is 8, and his typical season was generally around 4).
   92. DanG Posted: December 03, 2020 at 12:33 PM (#5992256)
Campaneris is also like Lofton in that he was snowed under by one of the strongest debut classes ever: Johnny Bench, Carl Yastrzemski, Gaylord Perry, Fergie Jenkins, and Jim Kaat.
   93. sunday silence (again) Posted: December 03, 2020 at 01:48 PM (#5992270)
Campaneris is almost text book borderline or just below. He's about a 5 WAR guy in his prime 7 seasons, he also had 4 seasons outside of that where's he about 4 WAR. Very nice. His range is about average, he had good years over age 30 even though his range had declined.

Having done tracers on Jeter and Brett for throwing errors had to do one on Campy. HIs high is 34 errors in 1968 would you believe only 4 throwing errors? Only one time did the opponent gain 2 bases (5.25). Also interesting on 6.5 his throwing error didnt even result in one extra base. With no one on base, Paul Casanova reached 1st on a throwing error. He was quite slow as I recall. That was his last throwing error of the season.

So total of 4 throwing errors, resulting in 4 bases advanced, approx -1 run on defense. Hardly moving the needle on defensive value.
   94. Hank Gillette Posted: December 03, 2020 at 02:02 PM (#5992273)
There aren't specialists who dominate a single category to the degree there used to be; gone are the Gwynn's and Ichiro's and Carew's who make the HOF primarily because of really high batting averages and hit totals…


Those type of guys were never really common. Do you think if someone was in the minors who hit like Gwynn or Wade Boggs they wouldn’t be given a chance? Or maybe the argument is that young players with the potential to be like that are not even signed?
   95. SoSH U at work Posted: December 03, 2020 at 02:05 PM (#5992276)
Along the lines of my post above, I would guess throwing errors made up a smaller percentage of the total for infielders in earlier eras. First, infields weren't as well conditioned, so subtle bad hops that led to boots were more likely. And, as far as many of us believe, scorekeepers are simply less likely to assign errors on misplays than they used to be.

   96. flournoy Posted: December 03, 2020 at 02:24 PM (#5992280)
Those type of guys were never really common. Do you think if someone was in the minors who hit like Gwynn or Wade Boggs they wouldn’t be given a chance? Or maybe the argument is that young players with the potential to be like that are not even signed?


It wasn't my argument, but I don't think a young Gwynn or Boggs would make the major leagues today without having his hitting approach altered at some point.
   97. DL from MN Posted: December 03, 2020 at 02:33 PM (#5992284)
At 53 WAR and 21 WAA, Campaneris is still probably a bit shy of serious HOF consideration.


The 1970s are a little messed up for SS / 3B replacement value. The average SS is below average and the average 3B is above average. He's borderline but WAR is understating his case. Then add in the 3 World Series rings and you get a guy with as good of a case as Andy Pettitte.
   98. Booey Posted: December 03, 2020 at 02:48 PM (#5992286)
#96 - Agreed. I think a young player who could hit .350 but with single digit HR power would be encouraged to increase his launch angle and sacrifice contact for power.

Not sure if it was intentional or not, but that's exactly what's happened with Jose Altuve. We went from being Tony Gwynn in 2014 (.341 with 7 HR and 56 SB) to being Eddie Murray in 2019 (.298 with 31 HR and 6 SB).

Francisco Lindor is another. His first two seasons, he averaged .306 and 13 HR. I thought he'd be a Jeter/Molitor type who would hit .320 or .330 with 15-20 HR every year. But then his next 3 years he averaged .278 and 34 homers.

Like I said, there's been a homogenization of the stats where everyone is trying the same approach and we don't see the same variety in numbers that we used to.
   99. Ron J Posted: December 03, 2020 at 02:53 PM (#5992288)
#96 Maybe. I know Boggs was slightly slow in reaching the majors because they wanted more power from a corner guy.

Gwynn though? No chance. He was obviously too good for the low minors at 21, hit .462/.490/.725 in a short trial at AA and was in the majors within a year. I can't see his career arc going differently.
   100. Rally Posted: December 03, 2020 at 02:56 PM (#5992291)
We might have a test case. Minnesota's Luis Arraez hit for huge averages in the minors, made it to the big leagues in mid-2019, and was denied a chance for a full season last year by the short schedule and probably an injury (he played 32 of the 60 games).

So far he's got 438 AB with a .331 average. Only 4 homers. Not much speed either, so more of a Boggs type than a Carew/Gwynn/Ichiro. He's walked more than he's struck out so far so he just might be legit with that average, only time will tell. Interesting to see if he can keep the average up, and if the Twins try to change his swing for power.
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