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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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   201. John DiFool2 Posted: December 12, 2020 at 06:09 PM (#5993831)
[Oh, gotta prime page 3]
   202. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 12, 2020 at 07:17 PM (#5993834)
The interesting (frustrating? funny?) thing with the tracker so far is that Schilling is -1 with the same voters compared to last year - exactly the opposite of what you normally see when someone is approaching 75%. The biggest gains in the sample so far are Rolen and Helton with +6 and Wagner (Wagner???) at +5.
   203. John DiFool2 Posted: December 12, 2020 at 08:39 PM (#5993849)
This is the start of The Drought. The next 30 years maybe 15 players will be elected by the BBWAA, and even that is likely optimistic.

If I am wrong, everyone can cite this thread and stick it in my face. I fear that I am not.
   204. alilisd Posted: December 12, 2020 at 08:50 PM (#5993851)
We'll see if that holds up, but Bonds, Clemens, and Schilling are leading the pack with 67.6%. Usually by now, we see the leaders notably over the 75% threshold and falling back some. It's surprisingly early for everyone to be below water.


This is interesting. I guess we can sort of look at it as writers still aren't willing to let Bonds and Clemens slide on the PED issue, Schilling is still Schilling, and the guys like Rolen, Helton, and Vizquel are still relatively early in their candidacies and working to build the momentum needed. As well, of course, as there being no truly compelling newcomers.
   205. alilisd Posted: December 12, 2020 at 08:53 PM (#5993852)
Once he's in, he's in--if we find out via some superduper advanced metrics 30 years from now that he wasn't quite all that, we can't very well drag him and his plaque back out of the Hall.


Point taken. But where's the harm in that? He's still no High Pockets Kelly or Lloyd Waner.
   206. alilisd Posted: December 12, 2020 at 09:12 PM (#5993854)
Wagner (Wagner???) at +5.


Ever since Fingers and Gossage came along, the Fireman role, then morphing into The Closer, the writers have been obsessed with relievers. I think it's because they had such a large part in creating the myth. I'm sure some of it comes from players and managers as well, but to me it feels largely writer/narrative driven. I pointed out to David Laurila, who said in his voting article that relievers had often been given short shrift by voters, that in fact since Wilhelm was elected the writers had actually elected more relief pitchers than any players at any other position! Seven relievers to at most six at one other position, and five at three other positions. And how on earth do you assert short shrifting when you have Fingers AND Eckersley winning BOTH the CY and the MVP as relievers!!! In fact, Fingers also finished 3-4, while Eckersley also had 2-5, 6-5, and 5-6 finishes in both awards during his time as a reliever. For that matter Gossage had a 3-3, Sutter won a CY and had 3-5 and 3-6 finishes, Rivera didn't get much MVP love, but did quite well in CY voting several times, even Hoffman and Smith received some support for CY.
   207. alilisd Posted: December 12, 2020 at 09:22 PM (#5993855)
Point taken. But where's the harm in that? He's still no High Pockets Kelly or Lloyd Waner.


To go a bit further on Andruw Jones, looking just at HOF players, his oWAR would put him a bit on the low side, but not terrible. Knock off half his Rfield and he still has 50-ish WAR. I just don't see him as being a travesty even if his D is overrated.
   208. DL from MN Posted: December 12, 2020 at 10:27 PM (#5993858)
I can't get upset about Andruw Jones when Jim Edmonds was dismissed without being seriously considered.
   209. Booey Posted: December 12, 2020 at 10:43 PM (#5993862)
This is interesting. I guess we can sort of look at it as writers still aren't willing to let Bonds and Clemens slide on the PED issue, Schilling is still Schilling, and the guys like Rolen, Helton, and Vizquel are still relatively early in their candidacies and working to build the momentum needed. As well, of course, as there being no truly compelling newcomers.


Not sure if any voters are thinking this way or not, but there's also the fact that last years induction weekend was cancelled, so we'll see Jeter, Walker, Simmons, and the ghost of Marvin Miller (plus whoever the VC chooses) up on the podium this summer already. Maybe some voters don't feel as much of an obligation to elect somebody when we're already guaranteed a fairly full induction ceremony either way.
   210. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 12, 2020 at 10:59 PM (#5993871)
And how on earth do you assert short shrifting when you have Fingers AND Eckersley winning BOTH the CY and the MVP as relievers!!! In fact, Fingers also finished 3-4, while Eckersley also had 2-5, 6-5, and 5-6 finishes in both awards during his time as a reliever. For that matter Gossage had a 3-3, Sutter won a CY and had 3-5 and 3-6 finishes, Rivera didn't get much MVP love, but did quite well in CY voting several times, even Hoffman and Smith received some support for CY.

This is all true... and even with relievers being overrepresented in award voting, Wagner himself has 0.05 Cy Young shares in his career. The Hall of Fame relievers by Cy shares: Eck 1.24 (including .08 as a starter), Sutter 1.14, Fingers 1.13, Hoffman 1.07, Rivera 1.04, Smith (VC) 0.55. Wilhelm had none but his best years came in the period when there was only one Cy Young in MLB and it was first-place votes only; he does have 0.48 MVP shares. Speaking of MVP shares, Eck 1.78, Fingers 1.42, Sutter 1.20, Rivera 0.54, Hoffman 0.41, Smith 0.34... Wagner 0.05. So even the writers, in their overrating of relievers, paid no attention to Wagner for seasonal awards. And it's not like his 10.03 postseason ERA boosts his reputation beyond what he earned in the regular season.

Wagner strikes me as being the Omar Vizquel of pitching candidates. Nobody actually thought he deserved all that much attention awards-wise during his career, and now people are voting for him because there are some superficially similar players already inducted. I don't get it at all.
   211. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 13, 2020 at 10:52 AM (#5993889)
I can't get upset about Andruw Jones when Jim Edmonds was dismissed without being seriously considered.

And Kenny Lofton. I'd put him in before Jones or Edmonds.
   212. alilisd Posted: December 13, 2020 at 11:46 AM (#5993896)
I can't get upset about Andruw Jones when Jim Edmonds was dismissed without being seriously considered.


Ugh! I went back to look at his ballot, and he debuted with Wagner, who is still on the ballot, and Hoffman, who received over 60% in his debut
   213. alilisd Posted: December 13, 2020 at 11:49 AM (#5993897)
Wagner strikes me as being the Omar Vizquel of pitching candidates. Nobody actually thought he deserved all that much attention awards-wise during his career, and now people are voting for him because there are some superficially similar players already inducted. I don't get it at all.


They're really bending over backwards to find a reason to vote for him. It truly seems narrative driven to me, rewriting the narrative after the fact. "He was SO dominant! Look at the K's! Look at the ERA+!" It really is absurd to me.
   214. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: December 13, 2020 at 02:55 PM (#5993918)
203. John DiFool2 Posted: December 12, 2020 at 08:39 PM (#5993849)
This is the start of The Drought. The next 30 years maybe 15 players will be elected by the BBWAA, and even that is likely optimistic.

If I am wrong, everyone can cite this thread and stick it in my face. I fear that I am not.


I don't know if it it will be a 30-year drought...but we are definitely entering a stretch of slim pickings, unless the standards change.

If you're hoping to see one or more people get 75% on this ballot, the early returns are decidedly not promising. I don't think anybody's getting 75% this year because:

1) None of the new candidates are going anywhere - it is possible none of them will even get 5% (There are 25 total candidates; 11 of them are 1st-time candidates, and the only ones with any chance of getting 5% are Buehrle and Hudson);
2) None of the PED candidates appear to be converting many (any?) of the voters who haven't voted for them by now (Of the 14 holdover candidates, five of them definitely get hit with a PED penalty, and all of them have been on the ballot between four and eight times previously. Several years ago, there was a common thought that voters would hold the PED thing against obvious greats like Clemens and Bonds for a period of time, and then let them in as their "punishment". There is little evidence that this is happening, at this point.);
3) Of the nine remaining candidates, one of them (Abreu) barely cleared 5%;
4) Of the remaining eight candidates, Schilling has been almost uniquely self-destructive as a HOF candidate. If he had just not been uniquely unlikable and controversial since retirement, there is little doubt he'd be in.
5) Of the remaining seven candidates, I'd say that most of them are actually making their way towards getting 75% eventually:

Vizquel got to 52.6% in only three years; he's probably going to make it in the next 3-4 years.
Rolen got to 35% in only three years, and appears to be getting both saber-support and traditional sportswriters' support; he's in a good position to get in over the next five years.
I don't know if Wagner is going to get to 75% in time, but he has five years left, and seems to be getting momentum. He could easily get to north of 40% this year.
Helton got 29% last year, and has eight years left. He appears to be making progress, as well, and has a lot of time left.

The lack of traffic ahead of these guys over the next several years, and the growing pressure there will be to induct somebody every year, probably bodes well for at least these four guys...and maybe Schilling next year. If Schilling would just do an ESPN sitdown where he acknowledges he's been a ***hole for the last 10-15 years, he is sorry, and it feels authentic, he'll get the 75% next year.
   215. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 13, 2020 at 02:59 PM (#5993920)
If Schilling would just do an ESPN sitdown where he acknowledges he's been a ***hole for the last 10-15 years, he is sorry, and it feels authentic,
And if Trump would just humbly concede and sincerely apologize for the last four years...
   216. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: December 13, 2020 at 03:10 PM (#5993922)
#215: I'm not saying it will happen...
   217. alilisd Posted: December 13, 2020 at 03:50 PM (#5993924)
I don't know if it it will be a 30-year drought...but we are definitely entering a stretch of slim pickings, unless the standards change.


Yes, only 15 in 30 seems a bit extreme. The 10 year limit rather than 15 could end up hurting some, but generally when the writers haven't had much new quality coming onto the ballot they've started to throw support behind candidates who have been on the ballot for a while. It's how Jim Rice was elected, and how Jack Morris almost was.

If you're hoping to see one or more people get 75% on this ballot, the early returns are decidedly not promising. I don't think anybody's getting 75% this year because:

1) None of the new candidates are going anywhere - it is possible none of them will even get 5% (There are 25 total candidates; 11 of them are 1st-time candidates, and the only ones with any chance of getting 5% are Buehrle and Hudson);


Actually Hunter is getting more support than either of them, but I don't think any of them are much of a threat to get inducted via the writers (though time will tell). What I see more likely is Vizquel, Rolen, and Helton continue to move up and go in eventually. Wagner does have a strong gain so far, and Jones might also work his way up with another six years. In the next 30 years Pujols, Beltre, Trout, Beltran, Cabrera, Utley, Mauer, Ortiz, Ichiro, and Posey all coming on the ballot with varying degrees of likelihood of being elected. Even younger players like Betts and Machado, and younger still such as Acuna, Tatis Jr., Lindor, Correa, Harper, Bregman, Jose Ramirez, Arenado, etc. will be on in that span. Not all of them will get in of course, but there are plenty of young players who will complete their careers in the n3xt 15-20 years and be on the ballot during the next 30 who could be solid picks. Pitchers such as Verlander, Grienke, Sabathia, Kershaw, and Scherzer all look pretty solid. Relievers who knows? And 30 years is quite a length of time which could give them time to come to grips with a change in attitude towards starters, perhaps not, but it's not entirely outside the realm of possibility. Will be interesting.
   218. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: December 13, 2020 at 04:28 PM (#5993927)
I also think the Veterans Committee will eventually induct a number of the PED candidates, so there will be some years where the BBWAA inductees will be scarce, but the Veterans inductees will be the headliners. That is obviously not typically the case, historically.
   219. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 13, 2020 at 04:35 PM (#5993928)
I also think the Veterans Committee will eventually induct a number of the PED candidates, so there will be some years where the BBWAA inductees will be scarce, but the Veterans inductees will be the headliners. That is obviously not typically the case, historically.

Agree. At least Bonds and Clemens, where they can use the "They were HoFers before they 'roided excuse". Maybe Sosa.
   220. cardsfanboy Posted: December 13, 2020 at 08:48 PM (#5993952)
I have no issue with Jones, the argument that someone (Edmonds/Lofton) of roughly equal stature got ignored no longer sways me.... It is what it is. My phof may not include them, but I have decided to stop fretting on eligible candidates succeeding over better candidates, provided they have a legit argument to be there...and Jones has an argument.

When it comes to someone like Wagner... I'm in two camps.... one my basic argument is "can you argue for the guy as the top half of eligible players for his position in the hof." (meaning there are 6 relievers in the hof, and is Wagner in the top 4? The other argument is about relative value of relievers, and that is a sticking point.... I don't think relievers have enough value to ever be hof worthy based upon how the game has been played over the past 40 years, but then again, it's arguable that they are since they are in theory used in higher level situations (although we know that closers aren't really used in higher level situations etc..... argument piled upon argument piled upon opinion piled upon real world usage and contemporary opinions.... ultimately I just prefer the discussion a bit more and work it out... it's not the hall of war to put it another way)

   221. Hank Gillette Posted: December 13, 2020 at 09:21 PM (#5993953)
Agree. At least Bonds and Clemens, where they can use the "They were HoFers before they 'roided excuse". Maybe Sosa.
Sosa’s barely in the neighborhood as it is.
   222. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 13, 2020 at 09:28 PM (#5993954)
I have no issue with Jones, the argument that someone (Edmonds/Lofton) of roughly equal stature got ignored no longer sways me.... It is what it is. My phof may not include them, but I have decided to stop fretting on eligible candidates succeeding over better candidates, provided they have a legit argument to be there...and Jones has an argument.

The problem with Jones is that he's barely there by modern standards, and if he's not the "Bestest CF that ever CFed" for the first ten years of his career, he falls well short.

I have a lot of trouble believing a guy who was a mediocre corner OF by age 31, was all that and a bag of chips in CF when he was younger. I think Jones was stealing 95%+ catchable balls from other players, that are recorded as OOZ for him, to grossly inflate his rField.
   223. EddieA Posted: December 13, 2020 at 11:27 PM (#5993976)
The contrast between votes for Vizquel and votes for Kent is striking.
Simply, who would you have rather had on your team?
Most home runs at a position seems far more significant than most games or (bad) PAs.
Kent offensive value for position was great, and his defense was average instead of bad until the last three seasons.
Vizquel only had a few seasons when his hitting was not bad. It's quirky giving very good defense over average defense that much more weight than very good offense over bad offense.
   224. Booey Posted: December 14, 2020 at 12:00 AM (#5993984)
The problem with Jones is that he's barely there by modern standards, and if he's not the "Bestest CF that ever CFed" for the first ten years of his career, he falls well short.


This. You need to believe that he wasn't just the best CF ever, but that he was basically running laps around all the other great CFers to even get his value up to borderline. If you're at all skeptical about that and think it's more likely he was merely one of the best CF's ever, he's a pretty easy "no".
   225. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 14, 2020 at 12:33 AM (#5993987)
I have a lot of trouble believing a guy who was a mediocre corner OF by age 31, was all that and a bag of chips in CF when he was younger.
Well, once he started eating the bag of chips...
   226. alilisd Posted: December 14, 2020 at 12:25 PM (#5994058)
When it comes to someone like Wagner... I'm in two camps.... one my basic argument is "can you argue for the guy as the top half of eligible players for his position in the hof." (meaning there are 6 relievers in the hof, and is Wagner in the top 4? The other argument is about relative value of relievers, and that is a sticking point


Actually there are 8 relievers and only 1 was a VC selection. Sure you can say Eck is a hybrid starter/reliever, but I don't think there's any doubt he's in because of his second role as a reliever/closer. This should push Wagner even further back. To me though the biggest issue is we're looking at a role which has changed significantly from the period where a reliever was first found to be HOF worthy, Wilhelm, through the Finger/Gossage Fireman type reliever, and into the one inning closer Hoffman, and to a far lesser extent Rivera (he has so much more to his case, and was more frequently used for more than just 3 outs). Not only is there no clear standard, but it's still JUST a role, not a position. It's a slippery slope the writers are creating in saying this role is HOF worthy, and now we, the writers/voters, are seriously considering expanding it beyond the truly exceptional closer, Rivera, and the guy who was able to rack up a ton of Saves, Hoffman, into guys who were just very good closers with some eye popping numbers, which are only eye popping if you don't contextualize them into the numbers being accrued one inning, or less, at a time.

If Hoffman and Wagner, why not Nathan? What about K-Rod and Pappelbon? Kimbrel and Jansen are looking pretty good with a few more seasons to pad their Saves count. If Sutter and Smith, why not get guys like Henke, Franco, and Quisenberry on the VC ballot?
   227. SoSH U at work Posted: December 14, 2020 at 12:29 PM (#5994061)
The chief problem with Wagner isn't where he fits value-wise in the existing world of short relievers in the Hall (which, of course, is at least five too many). It's that he's thrown many fewer innings than any of them, further lowering that particular bar.
   228. alilisd Posted: December 14, 2020 at 12:48 PM (#5994063)
I have a lot of trouble believing a guy who was a mediocre corner OF by age 31, was all that and a bag of chips in CF when he was younger.


Nor should you because that's not quite what happened. I haven't tried to look for reporting on him when he went to the dodgers at 31, but he tanked hard both at the plate and in CF going from +11 DRS in 1,346 innings in CF to -18 in only 496 innings in CF. Granted we need to take both numbers with a grain of salt (at least in my understanding single season DRS numbers are not necessarily the most accurate, and 2008 at age 31 was not even a full season), but I think clearly there was a significant change in his physical abilities at that point. It happens, guys can fall of a cliff, or just have an injury which prevents the from performing. But the next season he was mostly a DH, supposedly average in corner OF positions, and played a little 1B. In 2010 he was supposedly above average in RF, but slightly below average in CF, although both were minimal innings. Overall from 32-35 he is 5 runs above average by DRS as a corner OF in about the same number of innings he played in CF at 30. The gist of your statement is accurate, but it's a bit misleading as it doesn't take into account what happened at 31, whatever it was, when he was still trying to play CF. Still I don't think it's unrealistic to think a player who was outstanding in CF, after a lot of wear and tear, could fall of a cliff. Look at Griffey's defensive numbers, look at Fred Lynn, Puckett, Beltran turned into a mediocre corner OF as well, and he was still outstanding at 31, but the knee went and that was it.
   229. Rally Posted: December 14, 2020 at 01:42 PM (#5994070)
One thing I found is a group of players with similar time in CF to Jones, around 14,000 innings. Take Devon White, Paul Blair, Curt Flood, and Garry Maddox. All were extremely highly regarded on defense. All won multiple gold gloves, and their CF defense contributed to championship teams. The average defensive runs above average for this group is around +120, or about 11-12 wins short of Andruw. If you assume that his true defensive rating should be in the range of this group of players, then Andruw is a 50 WAR player.

That's not going to get him past Lofton and Edmonds, but it's better than some guys who made it into the hall, and about the same as Kirby Puckett. Further, almost all of his value comes from before he turned 31 years old, so you'd have to look at him as a peak candidate.

Top 5 seasons in descending WAR, but giving only half credit for his fielding runs:
7.0, 5.9, 5.6, 5.5, 5.3

Compare to Lofton
7.6, 7.2, 6.6, 6.0, 5.6
Edmonds
7.2, 6.7, 6.3, 6.0, 5.9
Puckett
7.8, 7.1, 5.7, 4.9, 4.3

He's still very borderline. Falls short of Edmonds and Lofton on both peak and career. More similar in both to Kirby. If you think Kirby is a mistake then you probably aren't going to vote for Jones unless you completely buy the defensive stats.
   230. DL from MN Posted: December 14, 2020 at 02:30 PM (#5994094)
The average defensive runs above average for this group is around +120, or about 11-12 wins short of Andruw.


Yes, Andruw is not just an outlier, he's an outlier several standard deviations above the 99th percentile. Devon White contributed 0.77 runs per game on defense, Paul Blair 0.82. Andruw rates as 1.27. This strains credulity. Then you have to ask - did it really help his team that much or is it an accounting error? Did the Braves have the best outfield defense every year by a large margin? If not why not? If they had the best defender of all-time in CF by a HUGE margin how could they not have the best OF defense of all time?


   231. Rally Posted: December 14, 2020 at 02:43 PM (#5994098)
Ryan Klesko? Gary Sheffield?

Seriously though, I mostly agree with you. But where are you getting +1.27 runs per game? He's +230 in CF, and he played 1724 games there. Do you mean +.127 r/g?
   232. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: December 14, 2020 at 02:44 PM (#5994100)
I have a lot of trouble believing a guy who was a mediocre corner OF by age 31, was all that and a bag of chips in CF when he was younger.

Well, once he started eating the bag of chips...

Those chips were from a can, not a bag. Once he popped, he could not stop.
   233. DL from MN Posted: December 14, 2020 at 02:48 PM (#5994105)
But where are you getting +1.27 runs per game? He's +230 in CF, and he played 1724 games there.


I did a quick and dirty calculation using the Fangraphs numbers. I think I am off by a factor of 10.
   234. DL from MN Posted: December 14, 2020 at 03:05 PM (#5994111)
Taking that number 230/1724 is .133. Paul Blair was 0.082. In order to be converting more balls in play to outs that's roughly how much additional surface area Andruw would have to cover compared to Blair. .133/.082 = 1.62. That's 62% more surface area. Since CF range is basically a circle, that would mean he covers radially 27% more linear range than Paul Blair. That can be converted into ft/s. I doubt his foot speed and reaction time was really 1.27% ft/s better than the next fastest CF.
   235. alilisd Posted: December 14, 2020 at 04:10 PM (#5994138)
It's that he's thrown many fewer innings than any of them, further lowering that particular bar.


Agree, the IP is a HUGE issue. 903 IP in 853 Games, so basically a 1 inning guy, but only 504 Save situations, so a bunch of those innings were in lower leverage situations, not in the closer role. That's an insanely low number of IP!
   236. DL from MN Posted: December 14, 2020 at 05:00 PM (#5994157)
Found another comparison to Andruw Jones post StatCast - Byron Buxton is one of the fastest players in baseball. He's at +.123 defensive runs/game. I can buy that Andruw Jones was as good as Byron Buxton in the field plus Andruw was a lot healthier.

I absolutely do not buy that the best fielders were all in the last 25 years. So, does that mean the top fielding centerfielders of previous generations are being underrepresented? Should Willie Davis, Chet Lemon and Reggie Smith be inducted post-haste? Was Willie Mays hands down the best player who ever lived?
   237. Mefisto Posted: December 14, 2020 at 05:10 PM (#5994159)
The answer to your last question is "yes", even without any more adjustments. Just sayin'.
   238. Rally Posted: December 14, 2020 at 05:12 PM (#5994160)
#234, how much faster would Andruw have to be compared to a perfectly average fielder? How about one who is -.05 run/game less than average? I hope you can see the math don’t work that way.
   239. DL from MN Posted: December 14, 2020 at 05:25 PM (#5994167)
I hope you can see the math don’t work that way.


True. But some of the increase has to come from foot speed. There is no way to be that much better than the other CF without covering significantly more range.

I've seen that the Twins outfield is much better at converting balls in play to outs when Buxton is out there than it is without him. I would think a WOWY analysis would be the best way to determine Andruw's worth to the Braves defense.
   240. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: December 14, 2020 at 09:25 PM (#5994202)
Two things:

1) The fact that right now, the most energy on this thread related to HOF debates on this ballot are...Andruw Jones and Billy Wagner. This ain't much of a ballot.

2) About Wagner. The year that he got the most credit in real time was 1999. It was his best finish for MVP (16th, in a year where Greg Vaughn finished 4th in the voting with a .245 average, just ahead of Mark McGwire and his 65 home runs!), and Wagner's best finish for Cy Young (tied for 4th with his teammate...Jose Lima). That's as good as it got. He was named to seven All-Star teams, got votes for Cy Young twice, pitched a total of 903 innings, and didn't lead the league in saves a single time. Maybe the postseason performance can help his case? Not so much - a career 10.03 ERA, with 21 hits allowed in 11.2 innings. His 10 best comps include zero Hall of Famers (K-Rod, Papelbon, Nathan, Randy Myers, Tom Henke are the top 5). How he got 32% of the vote last year is unreal.
   241. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: December 14, 2020 at 10:27 PM (#5994214)
I'm not qualified to evaluate the defensive metrics, but I do find it interesting that there are two players, contemporaries—one the defensive statistics show among the best at his position ever (Andruw), and one the worst at his position (Jeter)—but only one player's defensive stats are seen as questionable. Seems odd to accept one set and question another.
   242. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: December 14, 2020 at 11:02 PM (#5994221)
About Wagner.... How he got 32% of the vote last year is unreal.


Meanwhile Hudson and Buehrle, 2 guys who also pitched for a living and provided considerably more value over their careers, will be lucky to get 10% between the 2 of them.

Yeah, yeah, horse has bolted and all that, but it's still mistake to vote in relievers. Mariano was unique in that he is the GOAT of relievers so that demanded consideration; everyone else, sorry, not welcome.
   243. SoSH U at work Posted: December 14, 2020 at 11:29 PM (#5994224)
Meanwhile Hudson and Buehrle, 2 guys who also pitched for a living and provided considerably more value over their careers, will be lucky to get 10% between the 2 of them.

Yeah, yeah, horse has bolted and all that, but it's still mistake to vote in relievers. Mariano was unique in that he is the GOAT of relievers so that demanded consideration; everyone else, sorry, not welcome.


Tying the two guys together - in 11.2 innings of postseason pitching, Wagner allowed more earned runs than Rivera yielded in 141.

   244. alilisd Posted: December 15, 2020 at 06:36 AM (#5994238)
Yeah, yeah, horse has bolted and all that, but it's still mistake to vote in relievers. Mariano was unique in that he is the GOAT of relievers so that demanded consideration; everyone else, sorry, not welcome.


I'm strongly anti-reliever for HOF recognition, but I do think Wilhelm was a good choice, and then Gossage as a representative of the Fireman-type reliever was a good choice, with Rivera representing the modern Closer-type reliever. Eckersley is well deserving when you look at his entire career, actually an outstanding starter for quite a few seasons, with the success as a reliever he had after, I have no problem with him being voted in. But that should have been it, IMO.
   245. alilisd Posted: December 15, 2020 at 06:37 AM (#5994239)
Tying the two guys together - in 11.2 innings of postseason pitching, Wagner allowed more earned runs than Rivera yielded in 141


Oh I love this! I'm going to use this the next time I try to explain to a voter why Wagner is a terrible selection if you don't mind.
   246. alilisd Posted: December 15, 2020 at 06:39 AM (#5994240)
I'm not qualified to evaluate the defensive metrics, but I do find it interesting that there are two players, contemporaries—one the defensive statistics show among the best at his position ever (Andruw), and one the worst at his position (Jeter)—but only one player's defensive stats are seen as questionable. Seems odd to accept one set and question another.


I'm pretty sure if you looked through old threads you'd find plenty of lively discussion on Jeter's defensive metrics along this line.
   247. GuyM Posted: December 15, 2020 at 08:08 AM (#5994244)
I would think a WOWY analysis would be the best way to determine Andruw's worth to the Braves defense.

Tom Tango did that. He found Andruw was about +40 plays per season (c. +32 runs) at that point, a huge number. I don't think there is any doubt that Andruw made more plays than any other CF. The question is, how many of those plays -- if any -- were discretionary plays taken at the expense of ATL corner outfielders? It's a good question, but WOWY can't answer it.

This is also the reason why there are more doubts about Andruw than Jeter (though plenty of debate about both): shortstops simply can't choose to take a large number of plays away from the 3B or 2B.
   248. DL from MN Posted: December 15, 2020 at 08:48 AM (#5994250)
It's a good question, but WOWY can't answer it.


Are we asking the question the right way? You would need to look at the entire Braves outfield with and without him. How many more plays did the ENTIRE OUTFIELD convert into outs when Andruw was in CF. That would eliminate the discretionary plays.
   249. DL from MN Posted: December 15, 2020 at 08:57 AM (#5994252)
Andruw Jones and Billy Wagner. This ain't much of a ballot.


I strongly disagree. We're arguing about the 8th-14th best players because they're marginal. Any ballot with Bonds and Clemens available is a great ballot. Then there's roughly 6 more players with very strong cases. Then we get to guys like Andruw Jones and Billy Wagner.
   250. Ron J Posted: December 15, 2020 at 09:00 AM (#5994253)
#237 Bill James first made the point about discretionary plays in regards to Nap Lajoie's exceptional putout total. We can't know for sure, but it does seem likely that Lajoie simply took more throws on SBAs than the typical 2B of the day did.

It's an inherent issue with the defensive stats that the data source does not (and really can't) recognize discretionary plays.

This is why I say I have confidence at the team level (and thus don't have an issue with adjustments for defensive quality since all of these discretionary plays are zero sum) and substantially less at the individual level.
   251. SoSH U at work Posted: December 15, 2020 at 09:17 AM (#5994254)
#237 Bill James first made the point about discretionary plays in regards to Nap Lajoie's exceptional putout total. We can't know for sure, but it does seem likely that Lajoie simply took more throws on SBAs than the typical 2B of the day did.


I'm sure there's something to this, and does account for some of Nap's excess PO totals, but taking SBA throws aren't remotely the same thing as catching fly balls. The former opportunities are a lot more difficult to turn into outs than the former.

For instance, if I'm the Cubs, I would want Javy Baez taking as many SBA throws as possible, because he's undeniably better at turning them into outs than anyone else on the field.

   252. GuyM Posted: December 15, 2020 at 09:20 AM (#5994255)
It's an inherent issue with the defensive stats that the data source does not (and really can't) recognize discretionary plays

Well, depends on the time period. For 20th century players that's true. But modern metrics (UZR, DRS, Statcast) definitely do try to account for this. And Andruw is rated as highly or higher by these metrics (in the seasons for which that data exists) as he is by TZ (which can't evaluate difficulty of plays). So there is *some* evidence he wasn't artificially boosting his putouts.

I think a WOWY analysis done on other ATL outfielders, measuring putouts with-and-without-Andruw, could help settle this issue. Did Sheffield, Jordan, Francouer, etc. make more outs when they didn't play next to Andruw? Maybe. But if not, then I think we have to accept his extraordinary ratings.

   253. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: December 15, 2020 at 09:33 AM (#5994256)
Andruw Jones and Billy Wagner. This ain't much of a ballot.


I strongly disagree. We're arguing about the 8th-14th best players because they're marginal. Any ballot with Bonds and Clemens available is a great ballot. Then there's roughly 6 more players with very strong cases. Then we get to guys like Andruw Jones and Billy Wagner.


I made the original comment in #240, and I want to be clear: If the BBWAA did what they should, and elected Clemens, Bonds, and Schilling this year, it would be one of the greatest HOF classes in history. Clemens is one of the handful of greatest pitchers ever. Bonds is one of the 10 greatest positions players ever. And Schilling is a very solid HOF pick, one of the best pitchers of his generation, and one of the most consequential pitchers of my lifetime.

But here's the problem: We've got enough years of experience with the HOF Tracker to know that, based on the data that have already come in, there is virtually 0% chance that any of those three guys are getting int this year, especially Bonds and Clemens. They are all already under 75% in the Tracker, and we know that the controversial guys with obvious statistical cases tend to go down when you add in non-revealed ballots, not up. They are all screwed.

IMO, this makes this year's Tracker process such a downer, because the only thing worth tracking is how much a bunch of the second-tier guys progress this year. Nobody doubts that Clemens, Bonds, and Schilling would already be in without their off-the-field problems. In fact, Manny Ramirez's numbers would be first-ballot if he didn't have the PED issues; same with Sheiffield - so they aren't going anywhere, either. Sosa, as well.

So there's nothing to debate with any of those guys, and the entire incoming class of candidates is lacking in strong candidates. That leaves Vizquel, Rolen, Wagner, Helton, Kent, Jones, Pettitte, and Abreu.

That's not much of a ballot, by historical standards. That's what I mean.
   254. TomH Posted: December 15, 2020 at 09:39 AM (#5994258)
"About Wagner. The year that he got the most credit in real time was 1999. It was his best finish for MVP (16th, in a year where Greg Vaughn finished 4th in the voting with a .245 average, just ahead of Mark McGwire and his 65 home runs!), and Wagner's best finish for Cy Young (tied for 4th with his teammate...Jose Lima). That's as good as it got. He was named to seven All-Star teams, got votes for Cy Young twice, pitched a total of 903 innings, and didn't lead the league in saves a single time"

This is all true, but it is a one-sided view.

Why didn't Wagner get more votes for MVP or Cy Young? Because he never led the league in saves. Does this mean he wasn't the best reliever? No, it is mostly due to his manager's usage. In 1999, Ugueth Urbina out-saved him by 2. Urbina had a ERA higher than 3.5, while Wags was 1.57. BBRef shows Wagner as the clear leader in WPA that year, with one of the highest marks in a long time.

Wagner's career value in relief is well below Rivera, but is line with other greats
Hoffman 28th all time
Goose 35
Wilhelm 40
Wagner 44
Fingers, Quiz, Sutter; none of them in the top 100.

Which makes sense, given his career ERA+ dwarfs Pedro, Walter J, etc.

Would I vote for Wagner? No, too few innings. But I would vote for him over Vizquel or Jack Morris!!


   255. alilisd Posted: December 15, 2020 at 11:07 AM (#5994274)
Did Sheffield, Jordan, Francouer, etc. make more outs when they didn't play next to Andruw?


Well we know Sheffield didn't ;-)
   256. alilisd Posted: December 15, 2020 at 11:09 AM (#5994275)
Wagner's career value in relief is well below Rivera, but is line with other greats


#### Billy Wagner! That is all
   257. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: December 15, 2020 at 12:04 PM (#5994282)
The thread immediately above gets me thinking: Where is the line, for you, in terms of relievers and the HOF?

There are nine pitchers in the HOF in part or fully, for their work as relievers. In terms of the HOF, I'd rank them something like:

1. Rivera
2. Eckersley
3. Fingers
4. Smoltz
5. Gossage
6. Wilhelm
7. Hoffman
8. Smith
9. Sutter

I'd probably have voted for the top six, maybe the top seven. Smith and Sutter are important figures in the history of baseball in the late 1970s (Sutter) and 1980s, but if either of them were the standard above which all other closers should be compared, there are too many other closers who would get serious consideration who (IMO) simply don't warrant it. Of the top six, three are very important historical figures in the history of the game (Fingers, Gossage, and Wilhelm), two others were outstanding starting pitchers who (for different reasons) transitioned into being outstanding closers, and Rivera is the greatest non-starter in history. Rivera may also be the baseball player whose value is most enhanced by the volume and quality of his postseason performance.

In terms of closers not in the HOF, there are very few I would personally support for the HOF. For me, there are two ways a relief pitcher can earn a HOF nod:

1) Perform at a high level while being an important historical figure, redefining or creating an important role in the sport. I think it is possible that over the next 20 years, there will be one or more pitchers who will establish a role in baseball that is seen as critically important, and sufficiently valuable, and done at an elite level long enough, that there will be momentum to induct that pitcher as the first of his type in the HOF. It's not a middle reliever, probably, but perhaps somebody who excels at (for example) throwing four "piggyback" innings 50 times a year to follow openers who throw 2-3 innings. This would be a pitcher who rarely starts, and almost never closes, but basically starts warming up to appear in the 3rd or 4th inning as a matter of their role, and every third game or so comes in to get through the 6th or 7th inning. They'd throw 180 innings a year, pitching 50 times, and a few of them will be ridiculously good at it for 10 years. Then they'll decline, but still be effective for another three years as the 7th inning guy or something, and add another 200 games and 300 innings at the end of their career doing that. There will be momentum to get them in the HOF, even though they have practically no saves. They may have a lot of wins, relaitvely to their innings, as the openers will be ineligible for wins by the current definition (in fact the rule will probably have to change). I would support a few of those kind of guys.

2) Elite closers who are, if not Mariano Rivera, at least Trevor Hoffman-good. It's a small, small group:

I wouldn't vote for Wagner...which means I also wouldn't support K-Rod, John Franco, Joe Nathan, Papelbon...I'm not sure there is anybody who will be on a ballot the next 5-10 years that I would vote for. Kimbrel was working on a heck of a resume for a while, but the last two years have been a complete train wreck.

Dan Quisenberry is a difficult one for me to evaluate, because I loved watchign him so much. I get his career was probably too short (though he pitched more innings than, Wagner, for example), but the peak was about as good as a reliever can get: He finished in the top 3 four years in a row for CYA, and in the top 5 five years out of sixn (with an ERA of 1.73 in the 6th year!). He finished in the top 11 in the MVP race five times in six years, and threw a ton of innings for a reliever in the process. He didn't come up until he was 26 years old, but was dominant from the day he started pitching in the minors at age 22. Today, he would have been the majors within a year. I think he is more of a HOF'er than Wagner, but that's maybe just me...


   258. Booey Posted: December 15, 2020 at 12:18 PM (#5994287)
Re: closers - I'd have voted for Rivera, Wilhelm, and Eckersley (as a starter/reliever hybrid case), and that's it. No one else is even close. Well, Smoltz belongs too, but he's not a reliever, or even a hybrid case like Eck; he's just a starter who relieved for a few years (hell, he had over 200 wins and 3000 k's).

Fingers, Sutter, Hoffman, and Smith were laughably bad selections, IMO. Gossage isn't terrible, but I wouldn't have voted for him.

For me to consider another closer, I think they'd have to have Wagner's dominance combined with Hoffman's longevity (and a postseason resume that isn't God-awful like Wagner's would help too). So basically, another Rivera. Normally it's ridiculous to make the best ever the standard, but with closers I actually think it's pretty fair. It SHOULD be almost impossible to rack up HOF value while pitching 70 innings a year, just like it would be for a position player to put up a HOF career getting 250 PA's a season
   259. SoSH U at work Posted: December 15, 2020 at 01:28 PM (#5994310)
Booey nails it. Rivera Wilhelm and Eck are the only three deserving candidates (and I wouldn't begrudge the small Haller who left out Hoyt*). Gossage is the next in line, and he's far short of meriting election.

* The problem with Hoyt's reliever case is so much of his value was accrued in the one season he was allowed to be a full-time starter. He had a career ERA of 2.68 as a starter and 2.49 as a reliever. I don't think his clubs extracted full value out of him.
   260. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: December 15, 2020 at 01:46 PM (#5994314)
This goes against the thinking for electing other positions, but I would consider postseason performance in judging closers for the HOF. There's too little volume for them in the first place, plus they are there to excel in high-leverage situations.

Wagner has an infamously poor postseason history, as noted above. 14 g/11.2 IP, 10.03 ERA, negative WPA. Hoffman is better but hardly dominating: 12 g/13 IP, 3.46 ERA, 4 saves but also a negative WPA. So to the extent either guy is on the bubble, that would tip the scales against them for me.
   261. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: December 15, 2020 at 02:14 PM (#5994326)
Well, Smoltz belongs too, but he's not a reliever, or even a hybrid case like Eck; he's just a starter who relieved for a few years (hell, he had over 200 wins and 3000 k's).


I always thought of Smoltz and Eck as kind of the same thing - but after reading the above, and looking at Smoltz's numbers, Booey is right - Smoltz is a starter who was a closer for a stretch because of injury/overuse concerns, and he was crazy good at that, too. Then he goes back to being an effective starter again. That is not the Eck narrative.

But how about this: Is Smoltz the highest-profile piece of evidence that a lot of starting pitchers could be very good-to-excellent closers if they were put into the role? (Wade Davis is a hell of an example, too...).

Think about it - Smoltz had never appeared in a major-league game as a reliever, and then on June 9th, 2001, he leaves a game after 3 innings, and is shelved until late July. He comes back, and they start him off as "give him an inning to get some work in".

On July 22nd, he pitches the 9th inning of an 8-2 win. Two days later, he pitches the 7th inning of a blowout loss. Soon, they are giving him increasingly high-leverage situations to pitch roughly an inning each time. By mid-August, he is a set up guy in tight games. By later August, he is closing games. In September, he pretty much only pitches the 9th inning of games.

Here are his reliever stats:

2001: 34 IP, 1.59 ERA, 10 for 11 in save chances
2002-2004: ERA+ of 179, 144 saves in 157 chances (91.7% conversion)
Besides a single relief appearance at the end of his career, these are the only times he ever appeared in regular-season games as a reliever. (He appeared in three games a minor-leaguer when he was 19.)
Then he goes back to being a starter, and is generally very good again until age catches up to him finally.

Now, Smoltz was not an average pitcher, or a failed starter, etc., but to me, he is part of the argument for why the bar for inducting relievers to the HOF should be so high. There are almost certainly far more below-average-or-better starters who could successful closers than there are vice-versa. Indeed, this is why baseball is moving to "starterless" rotations, where at least a few games a week will be piggyback games, because there are more people who can pitch 2-3 innings well than there are who can pitch 6+ innings well (and do it for a lot lower salary, too!).

   262. SoSH U at work Posted: December 15, 2020 at 02:22 PM (#5994328)
But how about this: Is Smoltz the highest-profile piece of evidence that a lot of starting pitchers could be very good-to-excellent closers if they were put into the role? (Wade Davis is a hell of an example, too...).


Absolutely. I think certain pitchers would flourish more (Smoltz was more effective than his teammate Glavine would have been, for example). But yes, if you're an effective starting pitcher, chances are extremely good you would become a top-flight closer.
   263. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: December 15, 2020 at 02:25 PM (#5994329)
As far as relievers in the HOF go, there seems to be a reluctance to accept that there are two unreconcilable schools of thought involved. If you don't think of 'reliever' or 'closer' as a position (or, I suppose, if you do but are indifferent to positional imbalances in the HOF), then few, if any, relievers qualify for the HOF. If you think reliever is a position, then they do.

Each group can have its own discussion of how its assumptions translate to in-out votes, but to me having a discussion across the divide is pointless. It simply amounts to each side stating their own position over and over.
   264. SoSH U at work Posted: December 15, 2020 at 02:32 PM (#5994332)
If you think reliever is a position, then they do.


That actually seemed to be the position at the HoM for awhile, which is how Rollie and Goose crashed the gates. I don't think today's HoM voters still swing that way.

I'd label myself someone who supports the idea of positional balance (catchers should be represented in relatively equal measure as the other positions even though the demands of the position make it impossible for them to build as much value as we measure it today), but sees all pitchers belonging to the pitcher position.

   265. GuyM Posted: December 15, 2020 at 02:42 PM (#5994337)
Reliever is more analogous to a batting order slot than a fielding position. That is, it's more a reflection of the player's overall talent than a particular skill set. Saying we need to admit a certain number of relievers to the HOF makes only slightly more sense than saying there should be a quota for players who batted 7th.
   266. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: December 15, 2020 at 04:04 PM (#5994348)
What you need to be qualified for the hall is to produce lots of wins for your team. What position you play (or whether its a position at all) isn't to the point.

To put the point schematically, player's performance is his rate of production times his bulk. (Not intended in the Bartolo Colon sense.) Relief pitchers just don't have the bulk necessary to match the performance that we expect from hall of famers. Rivera pitched about 1/3rd of the innings that we expect from HOFers, but he wasn't 3x as good, per inning, as we expect from hall of famers. I'd vote for Smoltz (because he was really a starter), but none of the others. And it's got nothing to do with whether "relief pitcher" is a position or merely a role, it's that those who play this position/role can't do enough to help their teams win to be worthy of a spot in the hall.
   267. alilisd Posted: December 15, 2020 at 04:09 PM (#5994351)
But how about this: Is Smoltz the highest-profile piece of evidence that a lot of starting pitchers could be very good-to-excellent closers if they were put into the role?


Sure, but the most obvious, to me anyway, evidence is simply that pretty much every professional pitcher begins their career as a starter. Not necessarily starting every game, they may pitch some in relief as well, but they're primarily starters until they show they aren't able to be effective. Wilhelm was a starter in the minors, Gossage was a starter his first two seasons in the minors, Rivera was a starter, Wagner was a starter, Sutter was not, Fingers was, and so was Smith. So of all the HOF relievers, and the present candidate receiving an absurd level of support, the only one who wasn't a starter fist was Sutter (Hoffman doesn't count, IMO, because he was transitioning from shortstop). Of course it's easier to be a great reliever because you're only throwing an inning or two, and you know you're only throwing an inning or two. You can give full intensity, and you don't have to worry about facing a hitter more than once.

Look at Eckersley. Great starting pitcher his first five seasons in MLB. Two seasons of 5 WAR, and two of 7 WAR, with one season of 3 WAR. A 128 ERA+ over those seasons with a high of 149, which led the league. Over the next 7 seasons as a starter his ERA+ was 100, with a high of 129. Then at 32, after 12 seasons and 2,496 IP of wear and tear, including injury shortened seasons at 26 and 30, he becomes a reliever with a 178 ERA+ over the next 6 seasons. What other evidence would a writer need? I just don't get it.
   268. alilisd Posted: December 15, 2020 at 04:15 PM (#5994353)
And it's got nothing to do with whether "relief pitcher" is a position or merely a role, it's that those who play this position/role can't do enough to help their teams win to be worthy of a spot in the hall.


Yes, that's a very good way to put it, and I largely agree although I'm a bit more generous with which relievers I'd vote for. The problem is that the actual voters do NOT see it this way. They are absolutely viewing reliever/closer as a distinct position, or, if they're viewing it as a role, they consider the role to be SO important it more than makes up for the lack of bulk, the lack of contribution to a team winning.
   269. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: December 15, 2020 at 05:21 PM (#5994361)
They are absolutely viewing reliever/closer as a distinct position,


Does this apply to DH? Do they see that as a separate role? We've got Molitor, Edgar and the Big Hurt(sounds like a 70's band) in as DH's even though they all played a little in the field.

Big Papi is going in within his first 3-5 years. So that is 4 DH's but there are 9! relievers in the hall. If relieving is it's own position(which I do not agree with), then the HOF standards are way, way too low. Only Rivera, Eck and Hoyt would belong. At least Hoyt has 50 starts and 2000+ innings there, so there's some serious bulk to his resume. Eck even more so. I see Smoltz as a starter anyway, so he's in on those merits; plus I'm a big fan of the 3000K club, so anyone who is over that gets my HOF love.
   270. Booey Posted: December 15, 2020 at 05:31 PM (#5994364)
#269 - How soon you forget about Hall of Famer Harold Baines!
   271. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 15, 2020 at 05:32 PM (#5994365)
Booey nails it. Rivera Wilhelm and Eck are the only three deserving candidates (and I wouldn't begrudge the small Haller who left out Hoyt*). Gossage is the next in line, and he's far short of meriting election.

* The problem with Hoyt's reliever case is so much of his value was accrued in the one season he was allowed to be a full-time starter. He had a career ERA of 2.68 as a starter and 2.49 as a reliever. I don't think his clubs extracted full value out of him.


To me that's a point in Wilhelm's favor. He's the only guy besides Eck that we know could have been a great SP. It makes him a better pitcher than the others.
   272. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: December 15, 2020 at 06:25 PM (#5994371)
How soon you forget about Hall of Famer Harold Baines!


Cr*p, forgot about him. So it's nice to see that have lowered the standard for DH as low as the standard for reliever.....
   273. alilisd Posted: December 15, 2020 at 08:04 PM (#5994398)
#269 - How soon you forget about Hall of Famer Harold Baines!


LaRussa says, "I'll drink to that!"
   274. alilisd Posted: December 15, 2020 at 08:12 PM (#5994400)
Does this apply to DH? Do they see that as a separate role? We've got Molitor, Edgar and the Big Hurt(sounds like a 70's band) in as DH's even though they all played a little in the field.

Big Papi is going in within his first 3-5 years. So that is 4 DH's but there are 9! relievers in the hall. If relieving is it's own position(which I do not agree with), then the HOF standards are way, way too low. Only Rivera, Eck and Hoyt would belong


The "standard" for relievers is indeed way too low! On the DH I think it's quite different. Relievers are generally relievers throughout their careers, not always, but generally. Someone who acts as a DH is much more often doing so as a way to get some rest during the season, and it's shared amongst a few members of the team, or they move into it later in their career, like Eck moved into relieving. Both Thomas and Molitor did that, and though you could categorize them as DH positionally, or role as you prefer, they played significant portions of their careers in the field. Thomas nearly 1K games at 1B, Molitor had over 1,400 games at various positions in the infield. Edgar is really the first guy you could say was elected solely as a DH, although the other two certainly had that position/role play a big part in their careers. And Baines, like Wagner, can get stuffed!
   275. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: December 15, 2020 at 10:03 PM (#5994415)
I'm pretty sure if you looked through old threads you'd find plenty of lively discussion on Jeter's defensive metrics along this line.


My memory was that the Jeter defensive numbers were accepted as legitimate. Especially with the Jeter-Everett comparison that was done (by Bill James?). That was the basis for wondering why Andruw's numbers were questionable while Jeter's were not. (None of that's to suggest I'm looking for you to find a thread proving me wrong—just explaining the basis for my comment.)
   276. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: December 15, 2020 at 10:16 PM (#5994417)
What you need to be qualified for the hall is to produce lots of wins for your team. What position you play (or whether its a position at all) isn't to the point.


But I disagree with this as a blanket statement. Take football. How many wins does a Hall of Fame center produce for his team? Can anyone really say? The goal should be to have the best centers in the hall.

And Cooperstown should have the best shortstops, catchers, and third-basemen, etc., regardless of how they stack up against other positions.

Does this apply to DH?


The DH is an abomination, so no. :-)
   277. SoSH U at work Posted: December 15, 2020 at 10:28 PM (#5994420)
To me that's a point in Wilhelm's favor. He's the only guy besides Eck that we know could have been a great SP. It makes him a better pitcher than the others.


I think you can look at it two ways. Yes, it shows that he didn't need the benefit of the short outings that typically boosts reliever's rate stats. He looks like a better pitcher, a guy who his teams didn't extract maximum value out of.

If you're electing him as a pure reliever, 46.8 WAR is pretty damn impressive, a number only one other reliever has managed. But that's not what he put up as a reliever. What he put up as a reliever is pretty much what Goose did as a reliever. And Goose doesn't belong (well, he shouldn't belong; though he's obviously much more qualified than the quartet below him).
   278. Howie Menckel Posted: December 15, 2020 at 11:09 PM (#5994425)
Wilhelm debuted in the majors at age 29 and immediately led the AL in ERA - 2.43 in 159 IP and a league-best 152 ERA+, all in relief, with a 15-3 record.

2 more strong seasons, then 3 forgettable ones.

then 158 ERA+ as a sort-of swingman.

and then... he has his only season starting even a dozen games in MLB at age 36, and goes 15-11 in 226 IP while leading in both ERA 2.19 and ERA+ at 173.

age 41-46, his LOWEST ERA+ was 160 - at age 46 in a lowest IP total of that period of 78.

you won't find me on a picket line boosting relievers, as many of you know.

but paws off Hoyt Wilhelm. 147 ERA+ in 2254 IP.

   279. SoSH U at work Posted: December 15, 2020 at 11:23 PM (#5994426)
Wilhelm debuted in the majors at age 29


What's bizarre is it wasn't like he was held back. At all. He legitimately didn't get good until he was promoted to the big leagues, when suddenly he was a stud.

Maybe that's what the Mets will get with that minor leaguer they signed last week.
   280. Howie Menckel Posted: December 16, 2020 at 12:34 AM (#5994427)
well, there's a story behind that

ok, mainly that he really was a late bloomer as you note.

but I enjoyed this:

"The Orioles claimed him on waivers in August 1958. Orioles’ manager Paul Richards thought Wilhelm might make a good starter, reasoning: “I’d always wondered why he’d been used in relief, coming in with men on base where one passed ball could hurt him. I thought that perhaps, if Hoyt started, the runners wouldn’t get on base to begin with.”
In September, Wilhelm started four times, and in the last start tossed a 1-0 no-hitter against the Yankees. The final batter, Hank Bauer, laid down two bunts that rolled foul before eventually popping to second base.

In 1959, Wilhelm started the season 9-0 with an ERA under 1.00, prompting former manager Leo Durocher to express some regrets: “If I ever had any idea he could go the distance like that I’d have used him as a starter when I had him on the Giants. Maybe I made a big mistake.”

On May 22, he took a no-hitter into the eighth against New York, settling for a one-hitter. He shut out the Yankees again six days later. Hoyt came back to earth in the second half, but still finished 15-11 with a 2.19 ERA, good enough for his second ERA crown."
   281. TomH Posted: December 16, 2020 at 08:00 AM (#5994433)
I used to be one of Wilhelm's greatest boosters as Best Reliever Ever, but some people helped me see that his career ERA+ of 147 is effectively more like 133 when you add in the disproportionately large # of unearned runs; largely his fault, as his catchers were charged with oh-so-many passed balls.

Still a worthy HOFer, but not an upper-tier HoFer as I had postulated years ago.
   282. Rally Posted: December 16, 2020 at 08:39 AM (#5994438)
My memory was that the Jeter defensive numbers were accepted as legitimate. Especially with the Jeter-Everett comparison that was done (by Bill James?). That was the basis for wondering why Andruw's numbers were questionable while Jeter's were not. (None of that's to suggest I'm looking for you to find a thread proving me wrong—just explaining the basis for my comment.)


I think everyone accepts that Jeter was a bad defender, but there was not much agreement on exactly how bad. There have been threads that go on for hundreds of posts on the subject, starting at least 20 years ago. And before Baseball Primer (the former name of this site) many of the same people debated the subject on message boards.

You don't get arguments going on for that long if somebody says "Hey, Derek Jeter is costing the Yankees 20 runs per year with his lack of range" and everyone else says "Yeah, that's about right".
   283. DanG Posted: December 16, 2020 at 10:43 AM (#5994462)
I think everyone accepts that Jeter was a bad defender, but there was not much agreement on exactly how bad. There have been threads that go on for hundreds of posts on the subject, starting at least 20 years ago. And before Baseball Primer (the former name of this site) many of the same people debated the subject on message boards.
Jeter vs. Everett by Bill James
   284. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 16, 2020 at 11:03 AM (#5994465)
In 1959, Wilhelm started the season 9-0 with an ERA under 1.00, prompting former manager Leo Durocher to express some regrets: “If I ever had any idea he could go the distance like that I’d have used him as a starter when I had him on the Giants. Maybe I made a big mistake.”
You didn't think a knuckleballer could "go the distance," Leo?
   285. DL from MN Posted: December 16, 2020 at 11:03 AM (#5994466)
I like the Bill James article and he pinpointed what I'm looking for. Did the Braves allow fewer outfield hits than other teams? How would I even find that information?
   286. Rally Posted: December 16, 2020 at 11:41 AM (#5994473)
While we're at it, I wrote The Defense of Derek Jeter about a year ago.
   287. alilisd Posted: December 16, 2020 at 11:48 AM (#5994476)
Take football. How many wins does a Hall of Fame center produce for his team? Can anyone really say? The goal should be to have the best centers in the hall.


I don't think this analogy works though. No, it doesn't seem likely wins for a center could be calculated, although I don't follow football nor its statistics at all so maybe I'm wrong. But baseball definitely doesn't work that way. Every player hits, or there's someone hitting as a DH, whose offense can be quantified, and every player fields, except if they're the DH. Both offensive and defensive contributions to the team can be calculated, far from perfectly perhaps, but we can work with what we have. So while I agree with your sentiment that you want the best players from a position in the HOF, for baseball that corresponds pretty well with the players at each position who contribute the most to their team's wins.
   288. Rally Posted: December 16, 2020 at 12:32 PM (#5994483)
Did the Braves allow fewer outfield hits than other teams? How would I even find that information?


There are approaches to estimate things like that, but hard data is not in the public domain. Retrosheet has codes for batted ball type and who fielded each play. So you could look at hits where BBType = F or L, that are fielded by an outfielder. But Retrosheet only has complete data in these fields from 2003 on, it's just missing in too many cases for years before that.

In 2003 National League, BBType is missing for 36 balls in play. In 2002, that field is missing for 19,677 balls in play. Generally, when BBType is missing, it's missing for hits and is present when an out is recorded. So not much you can do with that.
   289. Ron J Posted: December 16, 2020 at 12:37 PM (#5994484)
#284 There were strong beliefs across baseball between the late 40s and mid 60s that knucklers "couldn't" be starters. And Wilhelm's excellent results did essentially nothing to change this.

I believe the logic went something like, Washington used four knucklers as starters. Washington was not successful. Therefore knucklers can't start. (Not that the starters were the primary reason. But when have facts mattered in a situation like this?)

Alternatively Washington tried to start a bunch of knucklers. Washington is always wrong. So don't start knucklers.
   290. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: December 16, 2020 at 12:56 PM (#5994492)
I don't think this analogy works though. No, it doesn't seem likely wins for a center could be calculated, although I don't follow football nor its statistics at all so maybe I'm wrong. But baseball definitely doesn't work that way. Every player hits, or there's someone hitting as a DH, whose offense can be quantified, and every player fields, except if they're the DH. Both offensive and defensive contributions to the team can be calculated, far from perfectly perhaps, but we can work with what we have. So while I agree with your sentiment that you want the best players from a position in the HOF, for baseball that corresponds pretty well with the players at each position who contribute the most to their team's wins.


Relievers are far more analogous to punters or kickers in terms of usage and fungibility. A bad kicker/punter/reliever will absolutely cost your team a win, but for the most part they all operate at a fairly high level, with only one two guys that stand out at the end of the year.

And there are exactly (4) K and (1) P in the NFL HOF.

Ray Guy was the best punter, ever

Morten Andersen & Jan Stenerud - long, good careers, acknowledging that kicker really is its own position, and a fairly important one at that, these guys were good and deserved the HOF. There's probably two or so current kickers that will join them when eligible (Vinatieri and I am sure there's someone else out there)
George Blanda & Lou Groza were the Eck/Smoltz mold - they were more than just kickers
   291. Rally Posted: December 16, 2020 at 01:30 PM (#5994499)
I think Justin Tucker has a chance some day. The most accurate field goal kicker in league history, and he mixes in the long ones too.
   292. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: December 16, 2020 at 01:54 PM (#5994505)
Not to turn this into an NFL kicking thread, but the analogy is very good. Also, I've got nothing against Jan Stenerud, who was finishing up his career when I was a kid, but compared to today's kickers...he wasn't very good. For his career, he made only 67% of his field goal attempts, including only 26% of 50+ (he attempted very few of those compared to today's kickers), and only 51% (!) from 40-49 yards out. For some reason, he was markedly more accurate in his late 30s and 40s than he was in from 1967-1980.

Why is this? If you look at the placekicking stats in NFL history, kickers today generally are much more accurate, and able to make kicks consistently from much further out, than virtually all kickers up through, what, the 1980s? Is it the soccer style vs the straight ahead style? Is it changes in the footwear? The turf is generally better and less clumpy/muddy today? The stadiums built today produce less swirling winds inside the stadium? Specialization of the skill? Better athletes are becoming kickers (I mean, look at the photos of some of these kickers through the 1980s - their guts are totally hanging out)? The football is different?
   293. Barnaby Jones Posted: December 16, 2020 at 02:02 PM (#5994508)
I have a lot of trouble believing a guy who was a mediocre corner OF by age 31, was all that and a bag of chips in CF when he was younger.


This is basically the "View of the World from 9th Avenue" of sentences.
   294. John DiFool2 Posted: December 16, 2020 at 02:59 PM (#5994520)
My guess is that field goal %'s going up is a combination of much better maintained fields (artificial turf is still used by many teams AND there are quite a few domes now, but even grass fields are probably in much better shape now, as well as having no more multipurpose stadiums and thus baseball infields to kick off of now that the Raiders are gone from Oakland. We really need a study on turf vs. grass vs. domes vs. outdoors kicking stats, tho I am sure that they are out there) as well as soccer style making straight-on kickers extinct [who even back then had mediocre accuracy], as well as optimization of kicking techniques.

Anyway, back on topic: many HoM'ers aren't giving Kenny Lofton much love, mainly because they apparently see his defense as having been overrated by several metrics which otherwise push him over the line.
   295. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: December 16, 2020 at 03:14 PM (#5994522)
I do think there are guys who primarily played DH who should be in, but DHs shouldn't just be compared to DHs because literally anyone can handle the defensive duties of being a DH so you have to consider the fact that they didn't contribute anything on defense. If you have a DH and ask "if the guy put up the same hitting numbers, but was a below average (but still good enough to play) fielding first baseman would he be a Hall of Famer?" If the answer is no, then he shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame.

I think about this with respect to Gary Sheffield. Sheffield's numbers as a hitter compare favorably to David Ortiz'. It may be that his defense was so bad that he would have had more value as a DH (WAR suggests this is so), but it wasn't so bad that MLB teams didn't keep sending him out there (and the Yankees could have made him a DH). So the idea that Sheffield could have been a Hall of Famer had he put up the same numbers as a DH rather than as a poor outfielder seems wrong to me. (And yes, I'm aware that the BALCO scandal is a big part of why he's had such low support; maybe he'd be in otherwise, but he tends to get ignored)
   296. Rally Posted: December 16, 2020 at 04:01 PM (#5994530)
and the Yankees could have made him a DH


And Matsui, Bernie, Giambi, and Jeter. But you’re only allowed 1 DH.
   297. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: December 16, 2020 at 04:42 PM (#5994545)
He legitimately didn't get good until he was promoted to the big leagues, when suddenly he was a stud.


That's what steroids will do for a knuckleball! ;-)

But you’re only allowed 1 DH.


Don't give Manfred any ideas.
   298. SoSH U at work Posted: December 16, 2020 at 04:54 PM (#5994550)
and the Yankees could have made him a DH)


If he was open to it (and remember, this is Sheff).

That's one thing that I think gets overlooked when it comes to the DH. A lot of guys don't want to do it (we've seen that with Bonilla, Giambi and others). They don't want to be seen as half a player, even if that's the role their best suited for. I imagine a manager appreciates when a team's best hitter, such as an Edgar or Ortiz, will accept the role without complaint.
   299. GuyM Posted: December 16, 2020 at 05:00 PM (#5994555)
Rally, your Jeter analysis is excellent, and very convincing in showing that the WOWY estimate of -25 runs/season for Jeter (or GB+ at -27) is too large. Clearly, other NYY fielders were making some of the plays that he did not.

At the same time, your estimate of -213 career fielding runs, or about -12 runs per season, does seem too conservative to me. You compare Jeter to his backups, but then assume his backups are league-average SS. That's probably a fair assumption for, say, a first baseman, but not a SS. I think bench SS are about -5 runs in the field, on average. Obviously, NYY bench SS could have been better than that (or worse), but I think -5 is a reasonable estimate. And that would make Jeter something like -293 for his career in range, plus -27 on GDP, or about -18 per season. That's right in line with DRS (-14), FRAA (-17), and DRA (-19). It's also consistent with your analysis of SSs with extreme ratings on outs below/above average, which would imply that something like 40% of Jeter's outs below average were really plays made by other NYY fielders.

I'm not convinced (yet) that the missing putouts reflects NYY pitchers inducing more GBs to the right side. That does appear to be the case in 2011-2015, when 48% of GB went to the right side with Jeter on the field but 45% when he wasn't (tallying GBs fielded by 3,4,9 vs. 5,6,7). But in the 2003-2010 years, the opposite was the case: 46% hit to the right side with Jeter, 48% without him. Take all the years together, and the distribution looks to be the same with or without Jeter on the field.

What I think your data *does* suggest is that NYY pitchers took a lot of extra discretionary ground balls when Jeter played, balls that they might allow another SS to handle. (And maybe 3B and C did this too, to a much smaller extent.) Fifteen extra plays a year by pitchers, over 18 years, is a lot of plays -- I wouldn't have guessed there were that many discretionary plays to the left side of the mound. Then again, it just means that once every 10 or 11 games a NYY pitcher grabbed a roller that would have been left for another SS to field -- that's not something fans would ever notice.
   300. alilisd Posted: December 16, 2020 at 05:49 PM (#5994563)
My guess is that field goal %'s going up is a combination of much better maintained fields


I'd say it's the professionalization of the game. Kids come up today as kickers throughout their high school careers, they're recruited by colleges as kickers. NFL teams know they have to have a reliable kicker/punter, and their is plenty of money to pay for it, which also incentivized kids and young adults coming up to work really hard at it to become the best they can be. Google claims an average NFL kicker was making over $1.5 million as of 2018. Somehow I doubt Stenerud was quite as well paid.
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