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Sunday, December 18, 2005

N.Y. Post: Kernan: ANOTHER GANDER AT GOOSE

Goose Gossage is one p o’d God…and what else is new.

It’s a different game now. The ball’s more lively, the ballparks are a joke; you can’t pitch inside. ... The owners could save millions of dollars by taking the pitcher off the mound and just put a tee out there.

This is no knock against Mariano Rivera - he’s currently the greatest closer pitching on the planet - but have him do what we did. We’d come into a game for two or three innings, sometimes in the fifth inning, and we were always brought into the middle of jams. This was all season, not just late in the season.

There is nothing bigger and more powerful than strikeouts.

To say Barry Bonds is the greatest hitter of all time is totally ridiculous. It’s really a slap in the face to Hank Aaron.

God couldn’t get out of some of the situations that I was brought into. Why was I brought in? Because I could get out of them.

Repoz Posted: December 18, 2005 at 02:07 PM | 147 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame

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   1. BDC Posted: December 18, 2005 at 02:26 PM (#1782856)
Yeah, Gossage, whatever. Come on, I want a Blyleven thread today or I'm going to go into withdrawal.
   2. sunnyday2 Posted: December 18, 2005 at 02:41 PM (#1782860)
I really cannot understand why Sutter has more support than Goose. Over 10 years from 1975 to 1985 (throwing out his year as a starter in '76) Goose posted the following ERA+ in almost 1,000 innings with ranging from 18 to 33 saves.

211-246-181-156-173-464-179-172-123-194

OOB ranged from .215 to .306 with a median of .280, pitching against DH.

Sutter's prime was 1976-1984 and I'll throw out 1983 (ERA+ 86).

327-226-186-149-143-136-126-125

OOB .231 to .306 with a median of about .280, throwing against, well, PHs I suppose.

His career was barely half as long as Goose's, his prime was 2 years shorter and not nearly as dominant. Median prime ERA+ 177 for Goose, 146 for Sutter. If Sutter's splitter was unhittable, what does that make Goose's heat???

Sutter's career ERA+ is 136 and Goose's 126 but that is seriously misleading. This is the only real argument that Sutter was better--that his career ERA+ rate imakes it so, but for that you have to believe that he (Sutter) was more valuable sitting on the couch than Goose was on the mound for those 12 non-prime years. And that just ain't so.
   3. sunnyday2 Posted: December 18, 2005 at 02:49 PM (#1782868)
PS. Lee Smith's prime could be construed as 13 consecutive years of 25 to 47 saves, though I'll throw out his ERA+ of 88 and still give him the 46 saves (second best of his career) that he got that year. His ERA+ was above 150 only 3 times, his median was under 140. OOB ranged from .273 to .344 (!) with a median over .300. This is in about 1,000 prime innings.

There is no comparison whatsoever to Gossage here. The question is whether Smith's 1,000 prime innings make him more valuable than Sutter with his 1,000 career and 800 prime innings. What with Sutter's edge on prime OOB of about .280 versus .304, I'd so no way.

But neither of them is even close to Goose.
   4. Sam M. Posted: December 18, 2005 at 03:38 PM (#1782904)
"I don't doubt that Gossage was overwhelming and menacing and impressive, but I just think relievers are overrated. A lot of good pitchers, starters, could do two quality innings of work without being Hall worthy."

Of all the arguments about closers, this one grates on me the most when it's used in the HOF context. IMHO, the Hall should be about honoring the greatest players in each era reflecting the game as it was played in that era. The closer role has been a huge part of the game since the 70s, and to exclude the best of them from the HOF -- as Le Betard's quote would seemingly do -- would be to distort the reflection the HOF provides to future generations. Conveniently, the first season in which the top five in saves in both leagues all had 20 or more saves? 1970. And since 1980, that's been true every year, in every league (except strike years and, for some reason, the AL in 1987). Like it or not, this is the game as it's been played for 25-35 years.

The argument annoys me somewhat, but not nearly as much, in a Cy Young Award discussion. I think closers should be considered just like starters for the Cy: if a closer is more excellent in his role than the best starter is in his, then he should win. But I understand the counter-argument, based on the value of the 225-inning great starter v. the 70-inning great closer.

But for the HOF??? No way. As with position players and starting pitchers, we should be looking for the best in the role, as it has gradually shifted over the era. The closers will be different -- and fewer of them will make it -- only because (to date, at least) so many fewer of them have been able to be consistent and good enough over a long period of time to be Hall-worthy. Many of them have the peak part of it covered, but not the longevity.

Goose has both. He was greater at his peak than almost any other closer (maybe all of them), and he had terrific staying power. He should be in the HOF. (But does he HAVE to go in as a Yankee???)
   5. BDC Posted: December 18, 2005 at 03:55 PM (#1782921)
Sam, I'm half-convinced. I am not a big fan of closers for the Hall, but I am probably most convinced by your argument in the case of someone like Gossage, who in his prime would pitch a couple of important innings in about 40% of his team's games.

The counter-argument might go something like "well, low-average/ low-walk #2 batters were a common part of the game in the 1960s, and Bobby Richardson was the best of them, so ..." That argument is more a caricature than a serious point. But you can see where some observers just don't think that increasing dependence on relief pitching has been all that great a strategy, and so don't see why they should honor even the best relief pitchers.
   6. Sam M. Posted: December 18, 2005 at 04:03 PM (#1782929)
But you can see where some observers just don't think that increasing dependence on relief pitching has been all that great a strategy, and so don't see why they should honor even the best relief pitchers.

I do see why they feel that way (and I expect Steve Treder along any minute to join you in making the argument!). But the comparison you make is to a role that -- though common in its era -- builds into the definition of the role a not very good player. (Or at least a not very good hitter: he doesn't get on base much.) If the closer role is bad, it's not because the best guys who perform it are bad -- it's because they're being underutilized in that role. Of all the adjectives one might give to Bobby Richardson, "underutilized" probably doesn't come to mind.

The era may make a bad type of player more prominent than he ought to be, but it doesn't make him great. But if the norms of the game in an era makes a particular player/role prominent, and players X, Y, and Z are great in that role, that's what the HOF is all about.
   7. Steve Treder Posted: December 18, 2005 at 05:00 PM (#1782988)
But if the norms of the game in an era makes a particular player/role prominent, and players X, Y, and Z are great in that role, that's what the HOF is all about.

Okay, Sam, I'll bite.

Why limit this consideration to closers? Why not LOOGYs too? The best LOOGYs have been great in the role. Therefore they deserve HOF enshrinement. Right?

What about the best pinch-hitting specialists of the great pinch-hitting specialist era of the 1950s/60s? Smoky Burgess, Jerry Lynch, Manny Mota, Dusty Rhodes, George Crowe? Worth their weight in gold, performing an extremely difficult, high-leverage role. Why penalize them because the conventions of the game in the era in which they performed prevented them from getting 500 at-bats a year?

Then of course it isn't fair to arbitrarily exclude the best of the pinch-running specialists. Allen Lewis, Larry Lintz, Matt Alexander, Rodney Scott? Come on down! Herb Washington doesn't quite make it, though, I guess.

You know where I'm going with this, obviously: the issue isn't simply "how well a player performed in the role assigned him." This issue is "how valuable was the contribution the player made," regardless of the role. Thus the proper consideration of closers isn't that the cream of the crop of closers "deserve" to be in the HOF, because the HOF must represent closers. The proper consideration of closers is instead exactly the same as it is for every other player. Given that, if a closer merits HOF inclusion, it's very likely and fairly to be despite the limitations of his role.
   8. Steve Treder Posted: December 18, 2005 at 05:06 PM (#1782996)
Goose has both. He was greater at his peak than almost any other closer (maybe all of them), and he had terrific staying power.

And surely you didn't think I'd let this go, did you? :-)

Goose Gossage WAS NOT A CLOSER. Never. At the time he pitched, the term "closer" hadn't been coined, and neither had the role been devised. By the time that happened -- the late 80s/early 90s -- Gossage was being used as a mop-up guy, rarely in Save situations.
   9. Flynn Posted: December 18, 2005 at 05:19 PM (#1783017)
Why limit this consideration to closers? Why not LOOGYs too? The best LOOGYs have been great in the role. Therefore they deserve HOF enshrinement. Right?

I'm sure Sam would be fine with Jesse Orosco in the Hall for striking out Kevin Bass and Marty Barrett.

:)
   10. Steve Treder Posted: December 18, 2005 at 05:28 PM (#1783024)
Backup catchers would be a fun category. I'd love to see the BTF threads arguing the respective merits of Charlie Silvera, Tom Prince, Jeff Torborg, Pat Corrales, Rube Walker, and Dann Bilardello ...
   11. Sam M. Posted: December 18, 2005 at 05:37 PM (#1783040)
Geez, I conjure up Steve just by mentioning his name. If only I could get a new significant other that easily . . . . Sigh.

Why limit this consideration to closers? Why not LOOGYs too? The best LOOGYs have been great in the role. Therefore they deserve HOF enshrinement. Right?

LOOGYs are not nearly as prominent in the era as closers. And I seriously doubt you can name any of them who has had longevity and effectiveness in that role so as to warrant HOF consideration. Unless he's a former closer looking for a soft landing (Jesse Orosco) a LOOGY will either be effective only for a short time, or he'll grow out of that role into a more prominent one.

the issue isn't simply "how well a player performed in the role assigned him." This issue is "how valuable was the contribution the player made," regardless of the role.

It's both of those. Your second question turns the HOF into a meta-MVP debate. But the argument about "value" in the MVP wars is cast that way because it's in the name of the award. It isn't in the definition of the HOF, and given how much trouble it causes in the MVP debates, I have no desire to import it over. (As I said, I don't even want to shift it over into the CYA debates.) The real issue is how great the player was. That is in part a function of the value his performance provided, and it is in part a function of how well he performed in the role assigned to him. Part of greatness is rising above your peers; part is maintaining that level for a longer period -- i.e., outlasting your peers; part of it may be redefining and elevating the role itself.

Thus the proper consideration of closers isn't that the cream of the crop of closers "deserve" to be in the HOF, because the HOF must represent closers.

But Le Betard's quote effectively disqualifies closers. Whether they must be "represented" is another issue. But I'll take that on, and say they absolutely should be. We've all heard arguments that the HOF has a disproportionate number of corner outfielders and first basemen because the voters have undervalued defense (perhaps inevitably, given the difficulty of measuring defense). The underlying premise of that position is that there should be some (very rough) proportionality in the Hall's membership -- that the greatest middle infielders, catchers, and center fielders should be in there because of that very fact: they were the greatest at what they did on the field, even if they didn't provide the same offense as the Hank Aaron's of the world.

Now, I'll grant that I wouldn't push this too far. It may be that there is something about the "closer" role that makes those who fill it less deserving of "proportionate" representation. In fact, I think there is. Closers don't tend to have the longevity in the role or the consistency of excellence we expect of a HOFer. There are more "1-4 year wonders" who have the peak (or part of the peak), but not the career. But among those who do? They ought to be in because they are the greatest at what they do, and the game in our time makes a BFD out of what they do.

Goose Gossage WAS NOT A CLOSER.

Yes, I know. The role has shifted gradually but substantially over the era as I've define it, with 1970 as the cut-off. Gossage was a "closer-plus." He did what closers nowadays do, and more. That adds to his case, certainly. But what I'm saying is that if you took someone who has career length and effectiveness of Gossage, performing the modern-day closer role, that guy ought to be in the HOF.
   12. Steve Treder Posted: December 18, 2005 at 05:49 PM (#1783048)
Your second question turns the HOF into a meta-MVP debate.

Uh, yeah. I fail to discern the meaningful difference between MVP and HOF qualification. These are the instructions given to HOF voters:

"5. Voting — Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played."

How is any of that essentially different from the considerations for MVP?

But Le Betard's quote effectively disqualifies closers.

If it does, I'm not nearly as upset about it as you. If the limitations of the role inhibits a player's value so much that he'll never make the HOF, then so be it, IMO.

But among those who do? They ought to be in because they are the greatest at what they do, and the game in our time makes a BFD out of what they do.

We disagree, obviously. If they merit inclusion, it isn't merely because they're the greatest at what they do. It's because of the intrinsic, authentic value of that performance.
   13. Repoz Posted: December 18, 2005 at 05:50 PM (#1783053)
Backup catchers would be a fun category. I'd love to see the BTF threads arguing the respective merits of Charlie Silvera, Tom Prince, Jeff Torborg, Pat Corrales, Rube Walker, and Dann Bilardello.

Cool!...Ralph Houk spent eight years as the back-up to the back-up to the back-up to the back-up catcher for the Yankees(and getting one walk in his last seven seasons!) before he perfected the fine art of rolling pebbles, as one would do with Flubber textured snot, from the top-step of the digout!

Masterful!
   14. Steve Treder Posted: December 18, 2005 at 05:54 PM (#1783061)
Houk is inner-circle, obviously. It's really unfair to just about anyone else to be compared with him.
   15. Sam M. Posted: December 18, 2005 at 06:00 PM (#1783072)
"5. Voting — Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played."

How is any of that essentially different from the considerations for MVP?


Well, it adds a whole list of factors before "contributions to the team(s) on which the player played." I would say the "contributions" factor pretty much is the "value" point, all by itself. Then you add in "playing ability," which is independent of the "value" that ability contributed, and the "player's record," which is arguably independent as well. I mean, for example, it's hard to say Mariano Rivera's "record" and "ability" in 2005 were not HOF-caliber stuff, even if we might quarrel over whether (because of the limited value of the closer role) it made a HOF-worthy "contribution" to the Yankees' season.

And as far as back-up catchers go, everyone else has to stand in line behind Ed Hearn. Surely, there's never been another back-up catcher traded for a near-HOF-caliber starting pitcher! Hearn is certainly the most valuable back-up catcher the Mets have ever had (or will have). (With apologies to Todd Pratt, of course!)
   16. sunnyday2 Posted: December 18, 2005 at 06:02 PM (#1783076)
Reductio ad absurdum, with an emphasis on the absurd part.

Now back to the actual issue...

If one relief pitcher was elected in 2006 who should it be?

Goose. (Meant to be read "Goose - period.")
   17. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: December 18, 2005 at 06:07 PM (#1783087)
And as far as back-up catchers go, everyone else has to stand in line behind Ed Hearn. Surely, there's never been another back-up catcher traded for a near-HOF-caliber starting pitcher!

By that criteria, Pickles Dillhoefer owns him.
   18. Steve Treder Posted: December 18, 2005 at 06:09 PM (#1783092)
I mean, for example, it's hard to say Mariano Rivera's "record" and "ability" in 2005 were not HOF-caliber stuff, even if we might quarrel over whether (because of the limited value of the closer role) it made a HOF-worthy "contribution" to the Yankees' season.

Sure. But substitute "MVP" for "HOF" in your assertion, and the concept remains, well, identical.

And I think Mike Sadek deserves more love.
   19. Sam M. Posted: December 18, 2005 at 06:11 PM (#1783093)
Pickles Dillhoefer owns him.

A ton of money (by the standards of the day) went along with Pickles. But even if it hadn't, surely there's room in the Hall for two back-up catchers traded for great pitchers. But then, I'm a big all kind of guy.
   20. Sam M. Posted: December 18, 2005 at 06:21 PM (#1783104)
But substitute "MVP" for "HOF" in your assertion, and the concept remains, well, identical.

Except it doesn't, Steve. The MVP voting focuses entirely on "value," on "contribution." But that's only ONE of the prongs of the HOF standard. You can't make the arguments about "record" and "ability" in the MVP discussion, because it all comes down to "valuable." The player's "playing record" and "ability" are only subsidiary to the value question. They don't stand on their own as independent factors. In other words . . . .

If you said this in an MVP discussion about Rivera:

He did not make an MVP-caliber contribution to the Yankees' 2005 season.

It could be regarded as a sufficient reason, standing alone, to not vote for him.

If, however, you said this about Rivera in a HOF conversation:

He did not make a HOF-caliber contribution to the Yankees' 2005 season.

It could NOT be regarded as a sufficient reason, standing alone, to not view 2005 as a HOF-caliber season, because it reduces the HOF conversation to only the last part of the standard, ignoring the other parts.
   21. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: December 18, 2005 at 06:21 PM (#1783105)
Nice to see that The Goose has a healthy self-image.
   22. Steve Treder Posted: December 18, 2005 at 06:37 PM (#1783126)
You can't make the arguments about "record" and "ability" in the MVP discussion, because it all comes down to "valuable." The player's "playing record" and "ability" are only subsidiary to the value question.

Are they subsidiary? Or are they fundamental, essential, definitional?

It could NOT be regarded as a sufficient reason, standing alone, to not view 2005 as a HOF-caliber season, because it reduces the HOF conversation to only the last part of the standard, ignoring the other parts.

That's an impressive reach there, Sam, but I ain't buyin' it.

Let's assume that in his very best season, Rivera, great as he is in the closer role, still doesn't merit the MVP, because of the inherent limitations of the role. Let's say he puts together ten such seasons. That's ten years of never meriting the MVP. That's great, but it means he's incapable of meriting a peak-value HOF vote.

Now the only valid HOF argument for him is a career argument, the Blyleven/Palmeiro type of argument, if you will. But here's the thing: guys like Blyleven and Palmeiro were very-good-but-not-great-enough-for-MVP for a lot more than ten years. Plus, there was nothing inherent in the roles they fulfilled that ever prevented them from reasonably being considered for the MVP: in other words, their roles themselves were more valuable roles.

I don't think a closer should automatically be disqualified from HOF consideration. I'm just not persuaded by the notion that the consideration they get should somehow be accomodated to suit them. The bar they must surpass should be at the same height as everyone else's.
   23. Daryn Posted: December 18, 2005 at 06:55 PM (#1783142)
Steve,

If you are saying that you wouldn't give Rivera your vote if he retired today, I believe you are ignoring the reality of baseball as it has been played in Rivera's era and about a decade before that as well. It may not be the same game as your-1960s game, but I don't see how you have a Hall of any significance if it doesn't honour a player like Rivera who dominated the baseball landscape over the past 10 years like only a handful of others have for that long and with that much consistency at the superstar level.

Set aside his rookie season, which was fine, he has played for 10 years. His ERA+ was never lower than 160 in those ten years. It was above 200 7 times. This is historical unmatched dominancy. 4 times in the top 3 in Cy Young voting in an era in which a reliever has NEVER received a Cy Young award in his league. No pinch hitter or backup catcher ever performed like that.

An analytic system that doesn't include Mariano Rivera in a Hall of Fame with 215 members is broken.
   24. Steve Treder Posted: December 18, 2005 at 07:02 PM (#1783149)
I'm not sure I wouldn't vote for Rivera. He's a close call for me; candidly I probably would, but I'm not sure.

The point is that if he gets my vote, it would be because his performance as a baseball player merited it, not his performance as a closer.

And I very certain I wouldn't vote for the Lee Smith, Robb Nen, Trevor Hoffman tier of closers. Rivera's likely the only one I'd seriously consider.
   25. Sam M. Posted: December 18, 2005 at 07:03 PM (#1783150)
That's ten years of never meriting the MVP. That's great, but it means he's incapable of meriting a peak-value HOF vote.

Boy, I could not disagree with you more, Steve. You are assuming the standards for what counts as an MVP-deserving season are the same as what counts for a HOF-caliber season when we examine "peak value." That seems to me fundamentally wrong. What you are doing is taking a standard that says the factors are (I'm leaving out those that are not performance-related at all):

1) Player's record.
2) Player's ability.
3) Contributions to the player's team.

And pretending that only # 3 counts. That may be valid for the MVP, which (a) doesn't have the HOF definition, and (b) has that critical word "valuable" right there in the name of the award. But you can't just ignore factors that are supposed to be considered by HOF voters, and your argument does precisely that. Hell, how much more "ability" could Mariano Rivera have shown in 2005? That ability did not make him the most valuable -- so it wasn't an MVP season. But it sure as heck rang the bell on the "HOF ability" scale.

there was nothing inherent in the roles they fulfilled that ever prevented them from reasonably being considered for the MVP: in other words, their roles themselves were more valuable roles.

So what? In what sense, or for what reason, is it important to HOF selection whether the closer's role is as valuable as the first baseman's? We're not judging the role, we're judging the individual player. The value of the role is a debate/discussion to be conducted when we're talking about the state of the game, the optimal distribution and usage of talent, etc. It's NOT a discussion that is relevant to a consideration of Mariano Rivera's excellence.

By the way, I call a foul! Nice trick trying to divide it up into "peak value" and "career value," as if they are separate categories and players have to qualify in one or the other. Plenty of players are in because they had a terrific, but non-Koufaxian, peak and a wonderfully long -- but not Don Suttonish -- career. It's not all one or the other.
   26. Floyd Thursby Posted: December 18, 2005 at 07:05 PM (#1783152)
God couldn’t get out of some of the situations that Chuck Norris was brought into. Why was Chuck Norris brought in? Because Chuck Norris could get out of them.
   27. Steve Treder Posted: December 18, 2005 at 07:14 PM (#1783161)
In what sense, or for what reason, is it important to HOF selection whether the closer's role is as valuable as the first baseman's?

Because value is what matters. Contribution to winning baseball games is what we mean by "value."

We're not judging the role, we're judging the individual player.

Yes. We're judging the individual player. And in so doing, consideration of his role is inescapable and necessary.

You're doing it yourself, already. Once you agree that a career pinch-running specialist, no matter how effectively he performed in that role, shouldn't be seriously considered for the HOF, you have asserted that the role is a relevant, even essential, factor in judging the player.

It's NOT a discussion that is relevant to a consideration of Mariano Rivera's excellence.

It is essential, unavoidable, and required in any consideration of Mariano Rivera's excellence. Just as the fact that he wasn't a starting pitcher is essential, the nature of his usage as a reliever is as well. We may not like that discussion, it may be tedious and unpleasant, but we can't pretend it doesn't matter.
   28. Russ Posted: December 18, 2005 at 07:16 PM (#1783166)
I'd like to submit Don Slaught for the discussion of Best Backup Catcher, even though he started a fair number of games as parts of various platoons.

Don Slaught was awesome.
   29. BDC Posted: December 18, 2005 at 07:22 PM (#1783176)
ignoring the reality of baseball

Well, the reality of baseball is that Mariano Rivera pitches about 75 innings a year. And that it seems easier to turn up pitchers who can have Mo-like seasons (Joe Nathan?) than to find batters capable of Pujols-like seasons or starters capable of Santana-like ones.
   30. Steve Treder Posted: December 18, 2005 at 07:25 PM (#1783179)
And that it seems easier to turn up pitchers who can have Mo-like seasons (Joe Nathan?) than to find batters capable of Pujols-like seasons or starters capable of Santana-like ones.

It doesn't just seem easier. It is easier. Lots.
   31. Sam M. Posted: December 18, 2005 at 07:26 PM (#1783181)
Because value is what matters. Contribution to winning baseball games is what we mean by "value."

But that is not the only element in the HOF standard. It's all that matters when it comes to the MVP, but not when it comes to the Hall.

Once you agree that a career pinch-running specialist, no matter how effectively he performed in that role, shouldn't be seriously considered for the HOF, you have asserted that the role is a relevant, even essential, factor in judging the player.

See # 16. I'll grant you that a player's contribution can be SO minimal in the scheme of things that it's a disqualifier. That point, however, is not at all relevant to the modern-day closer, at least not for any player who is good enough we'd even have the conversation. They are going to have enough value to at least compel us to consider the non-"value" based parts of the standard. Rivera, Hoffman, Wagner. Or are you comparing their value to a PR/spare infielder type?
   32. Sam M. Posted: December 18, 2005 at 07:30 PM (#1783186)
the reality of baseball is that Mariano Rivera pitches about 75 innings a year. And that it seems easier to turn up pitchers who can have Mo-like seasons (Joe Nathan?) than to find batters capable of Pujols-like seasons or starters capable of Santana-like ones.

To which my answer is: so? No one is arguing for including a guy who puts together one flukish season. Certainly, the role lends itself to a guy putting 60-80 innings together in which he will seem far better than he is. I would take that as very little evidence on the "ability" factor of the HOF standard. But when a guy puts together enough of them to constitute a peak, and then enough to constitute a long career, I'd say ALL of those seasons TOGETHER form pretty strong evidence the guy isn't Joe Nathan, but has HOF ability.

Do you think it's easier to find someone who can do what Rivera's done consistently for 10 years than it is to find Albert Pujols? I don't.
   33. Steve Treder Posted: December 18, 2005 at 07:40 PM (#1783193)
But that is not the only element in the HOF standard.

Well, it's a hugely important one.

That point, however, is not at all relevant to the modern-day closer, at least not for any player who is good enough we'd even have the conversation.

Yes, it is. It's relevant in the consideration of every player. Closers don't get a handy exception.

Or are you comparing their value to a PR/spare infielder type?

I'm comparing their value to that of every other player on the team and in the league, just as we do for everyone else.
   34. CraigK Posted: December 18, 2005 at 07:43 PM (#1783199)
I do enjoy his 465 ERA+ in '81, though.
   35. Steve Threadair Posted: December 18, 2005 at 07:57 PM (#1783218)
I think the comparison of closers to LOOGYs or pinch hitters is not right at all.

A guy's a LOOGY because he's not good enough to put right-handed batters out. Billy Wagner's not a LOOGY because he's good. Mike Myers is a LOOGY because he's good against LHB. As for pinch-hitters, were they good enough, they wouldn't be available to pinch hit because they'd be in the lineup.

If the managers now prefer using their closer in the current fashion, it's not because the guy wouldn't be able to pitch 2 innings, it's because they feel it's the most efficient way to use their bullpen, whether it's true or not. Keeping a guy like Rivera out of the HOF because he pitches only 70 innings a year would be like keeping modern dominant starters out because they can't get 300 wins anymore, or wouldn't throw 300 innings per season.
   36. BDC Posted: December 18, 2005 at 08:01 PM (#1783225)
No one is arguing for including a guy who puts together one flukish season

I'm not either. It just seems to me that you get a fluke season out of LaTroy Hawkins, and you get a couple out of Eddie Guardado, and then a couple out of Nathan, and the result is not terribly different than having had Rivera for those years. Whereas there is no way to piece together Albert Pujols out of three different fluke first basemen.

Obviously Rivera is a much better baseball player than those guys, but how rare is his actual achievement every year?
   37. Daryn Posted: December 18, 2005 at 08:02 PM (#1783228)
To which my answer is: so? No one is arguing for including a guy who puts together one flukish season. Certainly, the role lends itself to a guy putting 60-80 innings together in which he will seem far better than he is. I would take that as very little evidence on the "ability" factor of the HOF standard. But when a guy puts together enough of them to constitute a peak, and then enough to constitute a long career, I'd say ALL of those seasons TOGETHER form pretty strong evidence the guy isn't Joe Nathan, but has HOF ability.

Do you think it's easier to find someone who can do what Rivera's done consistently for 10 years than it is to find Albert Pujols? I don't.


Exactly -- baseball history is littered with non-HOF players who have put up one or two or even three superstar seasons. Rivera has put up 10 and a handful of other relievers have put up enough to also be, IMHO, easy picks for the Hall. Sustained excellence (Rivera) or unbelievable durability at a very good level (Sutton) have always been the two hallmarks of HoF BBWAA selections. As i think Sam said, a combination of both can get you in too -- it is not either/or.

I can see both sides of the Lee Smith argument (I happen to be in favour of induction) -- unsuperlative stats and the all time lead in a dififcult-to-assess-the-importance-of category, but when someone pitches at an historically great level for ten years, they should be in without a question. It just doesn't happen often.
   38. Steve Treder Posted: December 18, 2005 at 08:05 PM (#1783234)
Keeping a guy like Rivera out of the HOF because he pitches only 70 innings a year would be like keeping modern dominant starters out because they can't get 300 wins anymore, or wouldn't throw 300 innings per season.

Automatically refusing to consider Rivera because he pitches only 70 innings per season would be just as inappropriate as automatically refusing to consider a modern starter because he doesn't pitch 300 innings per season. But the consideration of both facts is quite appropriate.

Modern starting pitchers don't generate as much value to their teams in a given season as starting pitchers used to. That's simply a fact. It's something valid and appropriate to consider, to take into account, when assessing the HOF worthiness of a starter deployed in the modern mode. Just as the deployment of modern relievers is.
   39. BDC Posted: December 18, 2005 at 08:06 PM (#1783240)
A guy's a LOOGY because he's not good enough to put right-handed batters out

And Joe Nathan's a closer because he was a lousy starter. For that matter, Rivera didn't get great results as a starter at AAA in '94 or with New York in '95, though perhaps he should have gotten a longer trial in the role ...

And Gossage, 1976, the less said the better.
   40. Daryn Posted: December 18, 2005 at 08:06 PM (#1783241)
Obviously Rivera is a much better baseball player than those guys, but how rare is his actual achievement every year?

So rare that nobody in history has ever accomplished it, or come close.

Rivera has 7 seasons with an ERA+ plus of 200 or greater.

Here is the list of all pitchers ever, who have 5 or more such seasons:

Rivera, Mariano. That is all.

I actually can't find anyone else with more than 3.
   41. Steve Threadair Posted: December 18, 2005 at 08:08 PM (#1783243)
Steve Treder, I agree with that.

But what does it have to do with whether Bert Blyleven should be inducted or not to the Hall of Fame?

whoops, sorry :o)
   42. Christopher Linden Posted: December 18, 2005 at 08:18 PM (#1783255)
A guy's a LOOGY because he's not good enough to put right-handed batters out ... As for pinch-hitters, were they good enough, they wouldn't be available to pinch hit because they'd be in the lineup.

Couldn't the above LOOGY argument be made *against* Rivera? One could argue that Rivera is 70-inning closer precisely because he isn't "good enough" (if only in durability terms) to be a 200-inning starter.

Billy Wagner, for one example, was moved to the bullpen *entirely* because it was felt he lacked the body to be a full-time rotation regular. I'm not sure about Rivera (which annoys the hell out of me, because I was following the Yankees closely at the time)(but then again I was drunk a lot), but I think that the same was true of him. Under this argument (which I'm not necessarily making), his role is a result of his own limitations and should subsequently be a point against him in determining his HOF case.

Just a thought.

Happy Base Ball
   43. Christopher Linden Posted: December 18, 2005 at 08:21 PM (#1783257)
Bob Dernier Cri beat me to it. Kudos, Bob.

Happy Base Ball
   44. BDC Posted: December 18, 2005 at 08:21 PM (#1783258)
Rivera has 7 seasons with an ERA+ plus of 200 or greater

No, not quite what I was saying. Rivera has seven, he's a fantastic closer, no doubt. Much better than his peers.

But Joe Nathan has one such season in relief. Francisco Cordero has two. Joe Table has one. Mike Myers had one. Hell, Buddy Groom was at 274 one year. Clearly they're flukes or semi-flukes and Rivera is not. But superior relief seasons are just lying around waiting for lightning or the right pitching coach or the canny scout or the thumbtack stuck in the glove to bring them out.
   45. Cowboy Popup Posted: December 18, 2005 at 08:23 PM (#1783259)
"I'm not sure about Rivera (which annoys the hell out of me, because I was following the Yankees closely at the time)(but then again I was drunk a lot), but I think that the same was true of him."

Here's what I remember as a 12 year old and from what I've read since then. Rivera was a starter in the minors, and came up and sucked, hard. He went to the bullpen, developed his cutter and the rest is history. I'm sure older and wiser Yankee fans will correct the errors in my story. Leiter doesn't have much other then his cutter, I feel that Rivera could have put up some very good seasons as a starter. I don't know if he would have been a Hall of Famer as a starter, but that cutter is so devastating that I'm pretty sure he'd have success as a pitcher with that pitch no matter what.
   46. Steve Treder Posted: December 18, 2005 at 08:27 PM (#1783266)
Under this argument (which I'm not necessarily making), his role is a result of his own limitations and should subsequently be a point against him in determining his HOF case.

It is the case that virtually every closer, indeed every relief pitcher, would be a starter if he were capable of doing so. Why don't their teams convert Clemens and Santana et al into closers, a role in which they'd unquestionably be utter lights out? Because they're capable of doing well as starters, and the role of starter is inherently more valuable than the role of closer.

Thus, every relief pitcher -- Gossage and Quisenberry and all the rest -- faces the initial burden of having to be great enough to overcome the limitations of their role to be considered for MVP or Cy Young of HOF. Compress the role further, into the 70-inning Save-situation closer box, and the burden simply becomes that much greater.
   47. Cowboy Popup Posted: December 18, 2005 at 08:29 PM (#1783268)
"I actually can't find anyone else with more than 3."

That's insane. I thought for sure I would find someone. Keith Foulke is so close (198 in his fourth best ERA+ season). I thought for sure there would be someone else (Hoffman, Nen, Percival, Wagner, some older reliever). I'm gonna keep looking, that's just crazy.
   48. Steve Threadair Posted: December 18, 2005 at 08:29 PM (#1783269)
And Joe Nathan's a closer because he was a lousy starter

I also think some starters would make bad closers. I think it's possible to think some guys have more power/stuff but no endurance, and some guys have less power but more endurance.

It's a different role, less important than a starter's, but important nonetheless. Some first basemen became first basemen because they were lousy shortstops, but were great nonetheless.
   49. Christopher Linden Posted: December 18, 2005 at 08:31 PM (#1783271)
I don't remember Rivera really throwing a cutter until the last seven years or so. During his setup year in '96 he threw (IIRC) an exploding rising fastball coming out of a slow, seamless, easy delivery. He had nothing else of note to throw so just cooked with gas for four or five innings a week. He switched to throwing the cutter after the high heat stopped getting 1-2-3-siddown strikeouts and started getting foul balls.

Regardless of whether his move from rotation to pen was due to his limited repertoire or an inability (perceived or otherwise) to answer the bell for seven innings every fifth day, the argument still stands that his role is a result of his limitations.

Feel free to feel differently.

Happy Base Ball
   50. sunnyday2 Posted: December 18, 2005 at 08:41 PM (#1783281)
This would all be so much easier of the HoF and BBWAA would just make it official--HoF votes must be cast on a subjective basis. No numbers allowed. Right now its just the informal rule.
   51. Cowboy Popup Posted: December 18, 2005 at 08:42 PM (#1783283)
Rivera also can't hold runners for his life. That might have been a problem for the Yanks back then, when they played smart baseball. It's not now though, no one on the team seems to give a #### about that anymore.
   52. Steve Treder Posted: December 18, 2005 at 08:44 PM (#1783285)
I also think some starters would make bad closers.

Perhaps. But the empirical record shows us this:

- There are nearly no cases of a good starter being converted to relief and not doing well

- There are countless cases of struggling starters being converted to relief and doing very well

- There are few cases of relievers being converted to starter and doing as well or better than they had in relief

- There are many cases of good relievers being converted to starter and struggling

The very fact that the conversion of good starters into relievers is rare, tells us quite a bit.
   53. Christopher Linden Posted: December 18, 2005 at 08:46 PM (#1783292)
Some first basemen became first basemen because they were lousy shortstops, but were great nonetheless.

And that they were first basemen (and *only* first basemen; no team east of Anaheim would play a good-at-another-spot defensive player at first) was something that limited their value. First basemen who acheived HOF-level overall values did so largely despite their defensive value.

Note that on the larger issue I agree more with Sam M than with Steve: Value is an important component of a player's Cooperstown candidacy, but not, in my opinion, as big of one as I think Steve thinks. I would unhesitantly vote for Rivera were I given a ballot (Goose, too).

Come to think of it, if I mug a BBWAA member and take his ballot, will the committee honor it if I put the writer's name on it? Is there such a committee? Do they just assume that each ballot represents of the views of the person whose name is on the return address?

Not that I am advocating the cool crime of robbery.

Happy Base Ball
   54. Steve Threadair Posted: December 18, 2005 at 08:47 PM (#1783294)
Poor Goose Gossage. His HOF thread was hijacked by Mariano Rivera. But since we're now discussing the relative merits of starters and relievers, maybe we should turn our attention towards a workhorse like, say, Bert Blyleven?
   55. I can't believe we're playing Francoeur(KevinHess) Posted: December 18, 2005 at 08:51 PM (#1783302)
Couldn't the above LOOGY argument be made *against* Rivera? One could argue that Rivera is 70-inning closer precisely because he isn't "good enough" (if only in durability terms) to be a 200-inning starter.

Billy Wagner, for one example, was moved to the bullpen *entirely* because it was felt he lacked the body to be a full-time rotation regular. I'm not sure about Rivera (which annoys the hell out of me, because I was following the Yankees closely at the time)(but then again I was drunk a lot), but I think that the same was true of him. Under this argument (which I'm not necessarily making), his role is a result of his own limitations and should subsequently be a point against him in determining his HOF case.


If you make that argument against relievers, you have to make it against first basemen, as well. If they were better at defense, they'd play centerfield or shortstop or second base or you get my point. A first baseman's role is a result of his own limitations and should subsequently be a point against him in determining his Hall of Fame case. And it is, but we say things like "He was an excellent first baseman" without considering that just makes him a lousy third baseman. Rivera's sustained excellence (and Nathan's lack thereof) must be considered, even if it's in a role that could be pieced together year after year. Most teams can piece together first base year after year, but they'd prefer to get an excellent player there for the long haul.
   56. Christopher Linden Posted: December 18, 2005 at 08:52 PM (#1783305)
To clarify: I agree with Sam M in that the Hall of Fame is not, to use Sam's term, a meta-MVP referendum and that a player's overall value (or contribution to team or WARP3 or however you want to define it) drops in importance relative to the regular MVP vote.

I *dis*agree with Sam that, because relievers are an important part of modern baseball, we should put the best of them in, regardless of whether the meet the Hall's normal standards. No one argues that the best sixth man ever belongs in basketball's Hall of Fame, and saying that the best closer should be in Cooperstown because Cooperstown should honor closers is the same logic.

Happy Base Ball
   57. Steve Threadair Posted: December 18, 2005 at 08:58 PM (#1783312)
And that they were first basemen (and *only* first basemen; no team east of Anaheim would play a good-at-another-spot defensive player at first) was something that limited their value.

I agree that the fact that Rivera doesn't throw 200 innings a year limits his value. I think closers, or ace relievers have less value than a very good starter. But i'm not ready to lump closers with LOOGYs, pinch hitters and pinch runners.

And Rivera's career ERA+ of 197 and his 0.81 postseason ERA are pretty impressive. Now if this guy could do it over 225 innings per year, that would be unfair wouldn't it?
   58. Christopher Linden Posted: December 18, 2005 at 08:58 PM (#1783313)
If you make that argument against relievers, you have to make it against first basemen, as well.

And we do. A catcher who hits .280/.360/.480 in 1,500 career games is (or should be) a slam-dunk no-doubt Hall of Famer. A first baseman who does the same may go to a couple of All-Star games and might even fluke his way into a top-five finish in the MVP race, but he isn't seeing the inside of the museum without buying the ticket.

Modern 70-inning closers, because of the inherently limited value of their role, have to reach a *much* higher performance level to merit serious HOF consideration.

Happy Base Ball
   59. Christopher Linden Posted: December 18, 2005 at 09:00 PM (#1783318)
Met Goose at a SABR convention in Colorado Springs a few years back. Seemed like an affable-enough fella and teared up during a screening of Pride of the Yankees.

And during his Yankee years he was my favorite pitcher in baseball.

Happy Base Ball
   60. Steve Treder Posted: December 18, 2005 at 09:03 PM (#1783323)
No one argues that the best sixth man ever belongs in basketball's Hall of Fame, and saying that the best closer should be in Cooperstown because Cooperstown should honor closers is the same logic.

Why couldn't I have put it that succinctly?
   61. Nick Warino Posted: December 18, 2005 at 09:03 PM (#1783324)
Rivera has 7 seasons with an ERA+ plus of 200 or greater.

Here is the list of all pitchers ever, who have 5 or more such seasons:

Rivera, Mariano. That is all.

I actually can't find anyone else with more than 3.


Pedro Martinez has seasons of 285, 245, 221, 212 and a just-miss of 196 in 2002. In those five seasons, he threw around 1,050 IP (Rivera's currently at 800 for his entire career). Of course, being compared to Pedro is probably a good thing. So I'm not sure my point. Oh wait, i know, Rivera sucks. Yankees suck. Booyah.
   62. Steve Threadair Posted: December 18, 2005 at 09:10 PM (#1783339)
Modern 70-inning closers, because of the inherently limited value of their role, have to reach a *much* higher performance level to merit serious HOF consideration.

I agree. Do you think Rivera's performance is sufficient or you meant "much higher performance level" than Mariano?
   63. I can't believe we're playing Francoeur(KevinHess) Posted: December 18, 2005 at 09:11 PM (#1783341)
Modern 70-inning closers, because of the inherently limited value of their role, have to reach a *much* higher performance level to merit serious HOF consideration.

And Mariano Rivera certainly reaches that level. It's almost impossible to be better than him. Over his whole career he's been about twice as good as the average pitcher. If you drop his rookie season he's even better. Christ look at his K-rate in 1996 or his ERA+ this year...the man is a machine. I hate the Yankees, but he is undeniably dominant.

The reason great closers (not just any, but the great ones) shouldn't be lumped in with pinch hitters, pinch runners, and LOOGYs is because those other players could have played a different role, if they'd only played better. If LOOGYs pitched better, they'd be setup men or closer. If pinch hitters hit better, they'd be DHs or something. Mariano Rivera already pitches better than almost anyone ever. He's not a starter because he had 19 rough games as a rookie and they never gave him another shot. I'd say he earned another chance to start in 1996 or 1997, completely blowing away the competition. But the Yankeess (and the rest of the baseball establishment) think that there's great value in what he does, and they don't want to try to replace him.

/I probably took too long writing and am behind the conversation again.
   64. GregD Posted: December 18, 2005 at 09:17 PM (#1783353)
Actually the greatest sixth-man ever IS in the basketball HOF. Frank Ramsey. He also recently had his home destroyed by a tornado. God's punishment for the HOF vote?
   65. Sam M. Posted: December 18, 2005 at 09:26 PM (#1783365)
But Joe Nathan has one such season in relief. Francisco Cordero has two. Joe Table has one. Mike Myers had one. Hell, Buddy Groom was at 274 one year.

Of course, the absolutely immense difference between all of that and Rivera is that with Rivera, you know you're going to get one of those years. You'd have to be impossibly lucky to catch lightning-in-a-bottle year in and year out with the one-and-done guys, happening to pick the right one each and every year.

If you did, then your GM belongs in the HOF. Since Rivera just gives it to the Yankees year in and year out, we can just put him in instead.
   66. Swedish Chef Posted: December 18, 2005 at 09:27 PM (#1783367)
So what baseline should one use when calculating a player's value for HOF purposes? I would compare them to the average player, not replacement level. It feels natural to use a comparison with their peers as a measurement of greatness.
   67. Christopher Linden Posted: December 18, 2005 at 09:27 PM (#1783368)
Do you think Rivera's performance is sufficient or you meant "much higher performance level" than Mariano?

Let me start by saying that my beliefs on the Hall of Fame differ, and in many respects wildly, from those held by many here. I think, for example that Game 7 of the 1991 World Series does not make Jack Morris a great pitcher. It does, I think, make him a Hall of Famer. I believe that the Hall of Fame is more about celebrating baseball's history, moments, and stars, than some coronation of players.

To the degree that the Hall *is* about great-player coronations (defining "great" as "high-value"), I believe that, regarding Rivera:

a) given his save totals, earned-run averages, playoff and World Series record, and his "key player" status on six pennant winners and four World Series winners, Mariano Rivera will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, probably early in the ballot cycle

b) Given his overall value, performance level (related to, but different from, value), the aforementioned October success and "key player" status, he will warrant induction even if he were hit by a bus tomorrow.

c) Goose oughta be in, too.

Happy Base Ball
   68. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 18, 2005 at 09:33 PM (#1783383)
To say Barry Bonds is the greatest hitter of all time is totally ridiculous. It’s really a slap in the face to Hank Aaron.

Isn't that a slap in the face to Babe Ruth and Ted Williams?
   69. The District Attorney Posted: December 18, 2005 at 09:38 PM (#1783386)
Mariano's not a starter because he only has one freakin' pitch and he wouldn't be any good as one, but that's completely not the point. The question is, how much value does he have doing what he does. Now, how to figure that out? Instead of philosophically fulminating over the subject, wouldn't the logical approach be to try to figure out a way to equate relief innings with starter innings?

Bill James apparently did this, and he came up with Mariano tied for 8th place in Win Shares among AL pitchers in '05, with 17 WS. He has him 4th in 1999, 5th in 2000, 4th in 2001. I don't have his record in other years, but it's clear that according to Bill, a guy who pitches as much as Mariano can be one of the most valuable pitchers in the league. So, is Bill's measurement of relievers' value wrong, or do you want Mariano to do even better among the league leaders than that, or what?

(Now I should note that Gossage has 223 career WS, which is not even close to a HOF total. Clearly, any reliever has to get in by the Dizzy Dean/Lefty Gomez method, not the Early Wynn/Don Sutton method. But what I am getting at -- and I don't know the answer -- is, can a reliever be among the best in the league; if not, why not; and if he can, why would being among the best in the league for a decent period of time not be good enough.)
   70. Steve Threadair Posted: December 18, 2005 at 09:45 PM (#1783394)
The "fluke" argument stating that you can replace a great closer with one year of Buddy Groom, a little bit of Guardado and so forth is pretty weak IMHO.

It's the same as saying that Roger Clemens could be replaced by the following guys (number is ERA+)

1988 Joe Magrane (160)
1989 Scott Garrelts (149)
1990 Danny Darwin (168)
1991 Tim Belcher (137)
1992 Bill Swift (138)
1993 Mark Portugal (140)
...

And I'm pretty sure we could find similar fluke seasons for every position.
   71. Steve Treder Posted: December 18, 2005 at 09:49 PM (#1783397)
can a reliever be among the best in the league

Of course he can. The issue is how often he actually is. And when he's limited to 100-120 innings a year, that makes it harder for him to accomplish. And when he's limited to 70 or 75, no matter how highly leveraged those innings are, it's harder still.

And FWIW, while I'm a big fan of Win Shares, they aren't perfect. And among the issues they're iffiest on is the valuation of relievers. It's a very tricky business.
   72. Sam M. Posted: December 18, 2005 at 09:51 PM (#1783400)
I think, for example that Game 7 of the 1991 World Series does not make Jack Morris a great pitcher. It does, I think, make him a Hall of Famer. I believe that the Hall of Fame is more about celebrating baseball's history, moments, and stars, than some coronation of players.


Well, I agree with the last sentence. Which is why the HOF does indeed celebrate moments like Game 7 of the 1991 WS. (Or better yet, Game 6 five years earlier.) But it does that separately from the induction of individual players as "Hall of Famers." One need not induct Joe Carter, Jack Morris, Donn Clendenon, Bucky Dent, Don Larsen, or Johnny Vander Meer to commemorate their moments in the sun.
   73. Christopher Linden Posted: December 18, 2005 at 09:55 PM (#1783403)
Thoughts:

1) James's Win Shares system places a high value, certainly a higher value than with what many statheads would feel comfortable, on a reliever's save totals.

2) James's Win Shares system had Derek Lowe as the AL's number-two pitcher two years running.

3) It is indisputable that, in theory, a relief pitcher can be not only among the highest-value pitchers in his league, but also among the highest-value players, regardless of position, in his league

4) It is indisputable that, in practice, there is only so much value that a real-life (IOW, not some theoretical guy who whiffs on three pitches 100 per cent of the batters he faces and does so entirely in the late innings of tie games with the pennant in the balance) modern closer can provide in his current role. Consider that a modern closer:

a) pitches only about five per cent of his team's innings

with

b) 95 per cent of those innings coming when his team already has the lead.

Even adjusting for the greater importance ("leverage" is I guess the current parlance) of the ninth (closer's) inning still leaves the modern closer with something of a cap on his real value. This cap is very close to the absolute bottom of the range of what we would/should expect from a Hall of Famer. For a modern closer, then, to deserve induction, he would have to basically "max out" his role's value. Rivera, I think, has done that, and largely because of his postseason success.

Happy Base Ball

Happy Base Ball
   74. BDC Posted: December 18, 2005 at 09:58 PM (#1783405)
I'm pretty sure we could find similar fluke seasons for every position

Yes, you could. The thing is that with relievers, teams not only can but do. It's not that a team could mock-up an ace closer by using Hawkins, Guardado, and Nathan in turn. It's that they have done that, and they continue to do it.

The odds of actually doing the same thing with starters year after year are very remote. I know, because the Texas Rangers keep trying :)
   75. Richard Gadsden Posted: December 18, 2005 at 10:00 PM (#1783406)
Do you think it's easier to find someone who can do what Rivera's done consistently for 10 years than it is to find Albert Pujols? I don't.

Exactly -- baseball history is littered with non-HOF players who have put up one or two or even three superstar seasons.


I agee with that.

It just seems to me that you get a fluke season out of LaTroy Hawkins, and you get a couple out of Eddie Guardado, and then a couple out of Nathan, and the result is not terribly different than having had Rivera for those years. Whereas there is no way to piece together Albert Pujols out of three different fluke first basemen.

And I don't agree with that. Paul Konerko, 2005, for example.

And a question. If someone got one at-bat/one-third IP a year for nine years, how good would the tenth year have to be to get into the hall?

As an SP, I guess 33 perfect games would get you in.

As a hitter, I guess hitting a HR every at-bat (excepting the inevitable IBB record) would do.

Could you do it as an RP? 120 saves with a 0.00 ERA and getting 1-2-3 innings by striking out the side is probably not enough - and that's a comparably wonderful season.

Of course, you couldn't do it on defense either, but Ozzie Smith is in the HOF.
   76. Steve Threadair Posted: December 18, 2005 at 10:17 PM (#1783416)
I know, because the Texas Rangers keep trying :)

The Rangers were also ill-advised to hope for a fluke season of Hideki Irabu as their closer ;o)
   77. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 18, 2005 at 10:27 PM (#1783426)
And that it seems easier to turn up pitchers who can have Mo-like seasons (Joe Nathan?) than to find batters capable of Pujols-like seasons or starters capable of Santana-like ones.

It doesn't just seem easier. It is easier. Lots.


I'm glad that others refuted this total canard first.

But Gossage does have a very good point about the relative value of the relief role in his time vs. the closer role of today. IMO Rivera is a slam-dunk for the HOF because of the unparalleled longevity of his dominance in his role, but he's the only closer I'd put in there. And Gossage should have been in there long ago.
   78. Sam M. Posted: December 18, 2005 at 10:37 PM (#1783440)
IMO Rivera is a slam-dunk for the HOF because of the unparalleled longevity of his dominance in his role, but he's the only closer I'd put in there.

I don't know. I'd be pretty happy to see Trevor Hoffman make it, too. For me, if we're talking since 1970, the relief scoreboard should be:

<u>IN</u>

Goose Gossage
Rollie Fingers
Mariano Rivera
Trevor Hoffman

<u>OUT</u>

Lee Smith
Bruce Sutter
John Franco
Dan Quisenberry
Jeff Reardon
Dennis Eckersley (as a reliever only)
John Wetteland
Randy Myers

<u>JURY STILL OUT ON</u>

Billy Wagner (boy, do I hope he makes it . . . .)
   79. DCW3 Posted: December 18, 2005 at 10:41 PM (#1783444)
Whereas there is no way to piece together Albert Pujols out of three different fluke first basemen.

And I don't agree with that. Paul Konerko, 2005, for example.


This has nothing to do with anything, but I feel the need to point out that Konerko's 2005 would be by far the worst season of Pujols's career.
   80. Steve Threadair Posted: December 18, 2005 at 10:47 PM (#1783451)
One thing I have a hard time figuring is why Fingers is in and Gossage is out. I'm not sure if I'd put Gossage in, but I think he's better than Fingers, no?

Another question I have is why is Kent Tekulve always left out of these discussions? I remember him as a pretty dominant pitcher, and his stats are damn good, especially if you compare him to Fingers.

I guess the difference in innings pitched is the main point here? I'm not saying I'd put him in, in fact I wouldn't, but neither would I put Fingers.
   81. Steve Threadair Posted: December 18, 2005 at 10:49 PM (#1783453)
Sam M, Wagner won't be inducted due to his severe decline towards the end of his career :o)
   82. DCW3 Posted: December 18, 2005 at 10:51 PM (#1783455)
One thing I have a hard time figuring is why Fingers is in and Gossage is out.

The MVP and Cy Young probably helped. Also, Fingers was the all-time leader in saves for a number of years--that hasn't helped Lee Smith so far (not to mention Jeff Reardon), but I don't think he was ever perceived as being as good as Fingers.
   83. Steve Treder Posted: December 18, 2005 at 10:55 PM (#1783459)
Another question I have is why is Kent Tekulve always left out of these discussions?

The guy who I think gets too much overlooked is Quisenberry.
   84. The Original SJ Posted: December 18, 2005 at 11:02 PM (#1783465)
If Mariano Rivera does not get into the Hall of Fame, I am moving to France.
   85. Backlasher Posted: December 18, 2005 at 11:03 PM (#1783466)
One thing I have a hard time figuring is why Fingers is in and Gossage is out.


One MVP, One WS-MVP, One Cy Young award, 4 Rolaids Relief Man Awards, and in the Top 10 in Saves 14 out of 17 seasons.
   86. Backlasher Posted: December 18, 2005 at 11:05 PM (#1783468)
Or more to this point, there were three pitchers that stood out in that tactical mistake era known as the Fireman---Marshall, Gossage, and Fingers. Its probably worthwhile to honor someone from that phase of the game. Marshall flamed out, and Fingers received more noteriety than the Goose. That is probably the reason.
   87. Sam M. Posted: December 18, 2005 at 11:06 PM (#1783469)
The guy who I think gets too much overlooked is Quisenberry.

Not saying it's right, Steve, but look at his top single-season save totals, and his career total. It's not hard to figure why he's never been a serious candidate with just two seasons over 40, three more over 30, and 244 career saves.

If Mariano Rivera does not get into the Hall of Fame, I am moving to France.

Sacre bleu!
   88. Sam M. Posted: December 18, 2005 at 11:07 PM (#1783470)
there were three pitchers that stood out in that tactical mistake era known as the Fireman

An odd thing, isn't it, when a fisherman baits the hook even though he knows to a point of moral certainty that he won't get a bite?
   89. Backlasher Posted: December 18, 2005 at 11:08 PM (#1783471)
Mariano Rivera does not get into the Hall of Fame, I am moving to France.


I think Mariano is a mortal lock. he's in my HoF; he's in the BBWAA HoF, and he's probably in any reasonable person's HoF. In fact, I have seen very few people that would even dispute this call.
   90. Backlasher Posted: December 18, 2005 at 11:10 PM (#1783473)
An odd thing, isn't it, when a fisherman baits the hook even though he knows to a point of moral certainty that he won't get a bite?


You don't need me. You are carrying the ball fine on that front.

BERMAN: Look at that little Marcosson go.
   91. Steve Treder Posted: December 18, 2005 at 11:13 PM (#1783475)
It's not hard to figure why he's never been a serious candidate with just two seasons over 40, three more over 30, and 244 career saves.

There's that, and there's probably also the issue of his status as a weird-delivery "trick" pitcher who didn't strike anybody out.

But that's why he's too much overlooked. It remains that he is too much overlooked.
   92. Steve Threadair Posted: December 18, 2005 at 11:15 PM (#1783478)
Yeah, that 1981 season in which Fingers got the Cy Young-MVP combo probably helped him a lot. Funny to think that what possibly gets Fingers in ahead of Gossage is a season during which Gossage had a 0.77 ERA (in only 46 innings though)
   93. Backlasher Posted: December 18, 2005 at 11:25 PM (#1783484)
Funny to think that what possibly gets Fingers in ahead of Gossage is a season during which Gossage had a 0.77 ERA (in only 46 innings though)


Yeah, going back through my own memory bank, Gossage was likely a more feared pitcher than Fingers regardless of the output. Perceptively wise maybe its like comparing someone like Percival to Wickman. The former is more feared even if the latter is often more efficient.

The thing about Fingers though is that he held that role for a long time. He was seen as the end of the game man. Goose really played a lot of roles over his career. He was more of a starter than Fingers brief experiment. Then he had that fireman/closer thing going, then he hung around as a set up man. He probably evokes a variety of memories, perhaps even the perception that he failed in a number of roles, or wasn't able to hold a number of rolls. Fingers is likely remembered to some as the FIRST CLOSER. Others may hold that distinction for Sutter. I think that's why both are going to get a lot of BBWAA support.
   94. Backlasher Posted: December 18, 2005 at 11:36 PM (#1783490)
No one argues that the best sixth man ever belongs in basketball's Hall of Fame, and saying that the best closer should be in Cooperstown because Cooperstown should honor closers is the same logic.


You don't think Kevin McHale belongs in the basketball HoF?

If there were a revolving door of closers, a Pena to McMicheal to Wohlers to Clontz to Rocker, etc. throughout baseball, your point would be taken. But that is not the case. Closers have performed well enough and impacted the game enough, whether you are using Win Shares, or MVP votes, or Cy Young votes, etc. that when one has a great career they are deserving of enshrinement. Mo meets that test. We can argue about Hoffman, but I'm not sure if he will make it. Eck and Smoltz bring additional considerations. If Gagne had kept going fro about 10 consecutive years on his run, or spreads out those years between injuries, he's probably in the conversation.

It doesn't take much differentiating power to know why ROOGY's, LOOGY's, PH, and PR don't make the grade. Marcosson has already dismissed this like a Southern school in a snowstorm. If the game changes significantly, we can revisit the question.
   95. Backlasher Posted: December 18, 2005 at 11:38 PM (#1783493)
There's that, and there's probably also the issue of his status as a weird-delivery "trick" pitcher who didn't strike anybody out.

But that's why he's too much overlooked. It remains that he is too much overlooked.


What are you saying, that instead of 2.4% of the votes Quiz should have gotten 4.7% of the votes?
   96. Steve Threadair Posted: December 18, 2005 at 11:44 PM (#1783496)
Perceptively wise maybe its like comparing someone like Percival to Wickman. The former is more feared even if the latter is often more efficient.

Interesting because I just had a quick look at each of the all-time saves leaders, just looking at ERA+ and Innings Pitched, and I was surprised that guys like Roberto Hernandez, Jeff Montgomery and Doug Jones had career ERA+ in the 130-140 range, which is better than I would have thought.

Really surprised by Tom Henke, too (156 ERA+).
   97. DCW3 Posted: December 18, 2005 at 11:47 PM (#1783499)
Also, Fingers had the mustache. Do not dismiss the power of such things.
   98. The Original SJ Posted: December 18, 2005 at 11:50 PM (#1783501)
Tom Henke was great back in the day, those Jays were really really stcked. I am sort of shocked they lost at all
   99. Steve Threadair Posted: December 18, 2005 at 11:50 PM (#1783502)
Also, Fingers had the mustache. Do not dismiss the power of such things.

Hrabosky for the Hall!

But Gossage was not too shabby either in that regard.
   100. DCW3 Posted: December 18, 2005 at 11:53 PM (#1783504)
Ah, but Fingers had the handlebar. It was unique, at least for the time.
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