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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Palladino: Gil Hodges more deserving for Hall than Barry Larkin

We always felt that the fact Hodges looked just like Pruneface from the Dick Tracy Cartoon Show…was enough to keep him out.

The Baseball Writers Association of America — can’t believe they let those guys pick anything — selected Barry Larkin as a 2012 inductee into the Hall of Fame. Larkin had terrific numbers, for a shortstop, but I am still left wondering about his Fame worthiness. If you look back on the decade of the 1990s, and you were asked to pick one shortstop from that decade for your all-decade team, whom would you pick?

Even though he only played the last half of the 90s, wouldn’t you pick Derek Jeter first? Even over Larkin? I would. Even though his numbers began to decline in the second half of the decade, wouldn’t you pick Cal Ripken over Larkin? I would. Even though, like Jeter, he came on the scene mid-decade, wouldn’t you pick Alex Rodriguez over Larkin? I would. Ozzie Smith? I would. Nomar Garciaparra? Well, let’s not get carried away, but in the last three seasons of the 1990s, Nomar was as immense as any player in the game.

So what’s the point? The yardstick that is always tossed around for the Hall of Fame is this: Was he the dominant player of his era at his position?

In my shortstop gauge, Larkin comes out about fifth, maybe even sixth. And that’s a Hall of Famer?

...For the decade of the 1950s, when Hodges was the best first baseman in the National League, he averaged 29 home runs a season and 100 RBI. The problem with Hodges is that he never led the NL in an offensive category in those years. So if the two greatest National Leaguers of all-time, Stan Musial and Willie Mays, have better numbers than you, that means no Hall for Gil, but come on in Barry Larkin, there is plenty of room for a guy with expansion-inflated statistics.

Repoz Posted: January 10, 2012 at 01:03 PM | 51 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, history, sabermetrics

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   1. Johnny Slick Posted: January 10, 2012 at 01:21 PM (#4033294)
No, I'd pick Larkin for the 90s, if you're going to constrain things that far. Jeter had a better overall career (at least with the bat) but as noted he really only played half of it. Likewise with Ripken. A-Rod is actually a much, much better case than Jeter, actually, but even if you put A-Rod over Larkin, there's still the separate leagues argument.

As for "expansion inflated statistics", yeah. What about the "very few black and Latin players inflated statistics" of Hodges' era?
   2. ajnrules Posted: January 10, 2012 at 01:23 PM (#4033299)
Bitter much? The entire article (and the accompanying rant regarding Smokey Joe Wood) seems like one big temper tantrum. And why pick on poor Barry Larkin for the ire and not somebody like Tony Perez, another first baseman.

And if he wants Wood to go in he should make like Rich Lederer and write up an objective piece and send it to the nominating committee and the Veteran's Committee. They will be voting on players from Wood's era at the end of the year.
   3. Jose is Absurdly Correct but not Helpful Posted: January 10, 2012 at 01:26 PM (#4033303)
Even though he only played the last half of the 90s, wouldn’t you pick Derek Jeter first? Even over Larkin?


I would not.
   4. Rob_Wood Posted: January 10, 2012 at 01:31 PM (#4033311)
Oh jeez. Nothing to see here. Move on.
   5. JJ1986 Posted: January 10, 2012 at 01:31 PM (#4033312)
A-Rod was so much better than Jeter in the 90s. If you think of Jeter first, you clearly weren't paying attention to baseball then.
   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 10, 2012 at 01:32 PM (#4033314)
...For the decade of the 1950s, when Hodges was the best first baseman in the National League, he averaged 29 home runs a season and 100 RBI. The problem with Hodges is that he never led the NL in an offensive category in those years. So if the two greatest National Leaguers of all-time, Stan Musial and Willie Mays, have better numbers than you, that means no Hall for Gil, but come on in Barry Larkin, there is plenty of room for a guy with expansion-inflated statistics.

119 OPS+ for a 1B vs. 116 for a SS. C'mon, it's not even close.
   7. Eddo Posted: January 10, 2012 at 01:35 PM (#4033316)
Even though he only played the last half of the 90s, wouldn’t you pick Derek Jeter first? Even over Larkin? I would. Even though his numbers began to decline in the second half of the decade, wouldn’t you pick Cal Ripken over Larkin? I would. Even though, like Jeter, he came on the scene mid-decade, wouldn’t you pick Alex Rodriguez over Larkin? I would. Ozzie Smith? I would. Nomar Garciaparra? Well, let’s not get carried away, but in the last three seasons of the 1990s, Nomar was as immense as any player in the game.

Hey Norm, if you were a hot dog, would you eat yourself? I would.
   8. RJ in TO Posted: January 10, 2012 at 01:36 PM (#4033320)
119 OPS+ for a 1B vs. 116 for a SS. C'mon, it's not even close.

But that 116 OPS+ is inflated by expansion. Didn't you read the article?
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: January 10, 2012 at 01:37 PM (#4033321)
I get the feeling that this is an annual rite for Mr. Palladino, comparing the latest undeserving Cooperstown selection against Good ol' Gil.

   10. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 10, 2012 at 01:39 PM (#4033326)
But that 116 OPS+ is inflated by expansion. Didn't you read the article?

No, I knew the guy was clueless from the title.
   11. dlf Posted: January 10, 2012 at 01:45 PM (#4033334)
And if he wants Wood to go in he should make like Rich Lederer and write up an objective piece and send it to the nominating committee and the Veteran's Committee. They will be voting on players from Wood's era at the end of the year.


I've said this before here, but the Roger Angell article "The Web of the Game" in which an inner circle great writer watched a 1981 College World Series game that matched then unknown Ron Darling twirling a no-hitter into the 10th for Yale versus Frankie Viola's St. John's club while weaving in and out his on-going conversation about Walter Johnson, Tris Speaker and the 1910s with the ageless Smokey Joe Wood is baseball writing at its finest.
   12. Rally Posted: January 10, 2012 at 01:59 PM (#4033352)
Larkin's OPS+ for the 1990's: 126. For shortstops (75% of games at short) who had 3000+ PA in that decade, easily #1, 19 points ahead of Jay Bell.

Hodges (128 OPS+) was 2nd among 1B in the 1950's to Big Klu.

Relaxing the requirements to 2000+ PA and 50% time at short, Larkin was 3rd behind Nomar and A-Rod in OPS+. Ahead of Ripken and Jeter. If you want to stay within a decade, you don't get to add Ripken's great years from the 80's or Jeter's from the 2000's. Similarly relaxing the requirements for the 1950's, Hodges is now 3rd after Klu and Moose Skowron.

But why should we limit comparables? This is their place among immortals we're talking about. Among all players with 50% of their games at 1B, and 1500+ games, Hodges ranks 44th in OPS+. Larkin ranks 9th among shortstops.
   13. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 10, 2012 at 02:05 PM (#4033354)
Anyone think his views would change if he learned that "era" and "decade beginning with a year that ends in zero" don't mean the same thing? Nah, probably not.
   14. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 10, 2012 at 02:05 PM (#4033355)
119 OPS+ for a 1B vs. 116 for a SS. C'mon, it's not even close.


Gil Hodges is 44th in fWAR among first basemen of all time., Larkin is 12th among short-stops, and ahead of Gil in career fWar 70-50 IIRC.

The interesting thing is that the author has one, and only one, valid point. Gil was probably the 2nd best 1st baseman of his era (treating Banks as a SS), which doesn't say much about his era. It's amazing that in our era a 119 oPS+ first baseman is practically a journeyman. Using wRC+, which is probably a more accurate measure of offensive value that is also park adjusted to a 100 scale, John Kruk, John Olerud, Keith Hernandez, Ryan Klesko, and Carlos Pena have been more valuable hitters than Gil.

Even more interesting is how dominant Stan Musial was over his generation. He is first with more than double the fWAR of 2nd place Hodges. We won't see another 100 fWAR 1b until Pujols in oh, about 18 months. The two most dominant first basemen of the last 70 years played for the same franchise, pretty much proving that Albert Pujols must be getting his steroids direct from Stan Musial's ancient stash.
   15. shozzlekhan Posted: January 10, 2012 at 02:12 PM (#4033360)
God, I hate the word "era."

And the "most ____ _____ of the ___0's" thing is getting old fast, too.
   16. GuyMcGuffin Posted: January 10, 2012 at 02:18 PM (#4033364)
Bitter much? The entire article (and the accompanying rant regarding Smokey Joe Wood) seems like one big temper tantrum. And why pick on poor Barry Larkin for the ire and not somebody like Tony Perez, another first baseman.


I think going after Tony Perez, a borderline Hall guy that holds the crown of best 1B in baseball from 1970-1979, would create a very slippery slope for a Gil Hodges argument.
   17. SoSH U at work Posted: January 10, 2012 at 02:33 PM (#4033372)
I think going after Tony Perez, a borderline Hall guy that holds the crown of best 1B in baseball from 1970-1979, would create a very slippery slope for a Gil Hodges argument.


I believe that distinction belongs to Pops.
   18. Fancy Pants Handle struck out swinging Posted: January 10, 2012 at 02:36 PM (#4033375)
And the "most ____ _____ of the ___0's" thing is getting old fast, too.

Getting old? It was already the most old trope of the 1990's!
   19. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 10, 2012 at 02:37 PM (#4033378)
And where are the Charlie Keller supporters? He created as much fWAR as Gil Hodges in only 1,176 games, essentially only 7 seasons, barely over half as many as Gil. Of course, Chase Utley is ahead of both, with even fewer games than Charlie.
   20. SoSH U at work Posted: January 10, 2012 at 02:38 PM (#4033380)
Getting old? It was already the most old trope of the 1990's!


Are you bagging on Mark Grace and his narrowly defined hitting prowess?
   21. GuyMcGuffin Posted: January 10, 2012 at 02:46 PM (#4033390)
I believe that distinction belongs to Pops.


He played about 50% of his games in the outfield for the decade so I believe that would make him Stan Musial to Tony Perez's Gil Hodges.
   22. UCCF Posted: January 10, 2012 at 02:52 PM (#4033394)
Are you bagging on Mark Grace and his narrowly defined hitting prowess?

He busted the most slumps in the 90s, and that was before the invention of gift baskets. I think Jeter's slump-busting (which may be the best of the 10's, though it's too early to tell) deserves an asterisk.
   23. TDF, trained monkey Posted: January 10, 2012 at 03:06 PM (#4033412)
Relaxing the requirements to 2000+ PA and 50% time at short, Larkin was 3rd behind Nomar and A-Rod in OPS+.
Of course, Larkin had over 5500 PA over that time, twice as many as ARod and 3500 more than Nomar - really, ARod was a regular for only 4 seasons in the '90's, and wasn't that much better of a hitter (132 OPS+ vs. 126).
If you want to stay within a decade, you don't get to add Ripken's great years from the 80's or Jeter's from the 2000's
Larkin, in the '90's: 5541 PA, 126 OPS+ (which uses poor endpoints - '89-98 gives him 10 years of 5211 PA, 129 OPS+). Jeter's best 10 year run ('98-07): 6972 PA, 126 OPS+. Ripken's best ('82-91): 7052 PA, 127 OPS+.
Even though his numbers began to decline in the second half of the decade, wouldn’t you pick Cal Ripken over Larkin? I would.
Ripken in the '90's: 6348 PA, 107 OPS+, 5 innings at SS after '96. EDIT: And, just for fun: Ripken, '90-94: 3329 PA, 115 OPS+.
   24. bachslunch Posted: January 10, 2012 at 03:10 PM (#4033415)
Note well that this dimwit gripes about the evils of steroid use by Mark McGwire, saying he doesn't belong in the HoF below:

http://blogs.rep-am.com/off_the_record/2010/01/18/answering-pressing-questions-about-mark-mcgwire/

and then in the article cited here pushes in favor of the HoF for Smokey Joe Wood, who was implicated in a game fixing scheme with Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker. Now that's quite the thoughtful interpretation of the HoF's Character Clause.
   25. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: January 10, 2012 at 03:20 PM (#4033424)
"Generating a list of top-hitting shortstops of a decade" is not how I expected to find out Don Kessinger had a son who played MLB. If I hadn't forgotten to include a plate appearance restriction, I may have never found out. Everyone would still be laughing at me about that instead of the other stuff.

Now, "on my deathbed" is how I expected to find out Keith Kessinger existed.
   26. SoSH U at work Posted: January 10, 2012 at 03:20 PM (#4033425)
He played about 50% of his games in the outfield for the decade so I believe that would make him Stan Musial to Tony Perez's Gil Hodges.


Tony played two of his best seasons of the decade at third, including the best year of his career.
   27. GuyMcGuffin Posted: January 10, 2012 at 03:38 PM (#4033440)
Tony played two of his best seasons of the decade at third, including the best year of his career.


In 1967 he started a game at 2B. He had 8 assists and 2 put outs through 6 innings before a double-switch moved him over to 3B. He would never play there again.
   28. JPWF1313 Posted: January 10, 2012 at 03:45 PM (#4033446)
I think going after Tony Perez, a borderline Hall guy that holds the crown of best 1B in baseball from 1970-1979, would create a very slippery slope for a Gil Hodges argument.


and if drop the criteria to 40% of games at 1B, Perez falls to 5th by WAR
Hodges falls to 2nd, but gets completely pasted by Musial

   29. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 10, 2012 at 03:57 PM (#4033463)
Nieporent: "My 7 month old son more deserving to vote for hall than Paladino."
   30. JL Posted: January 10, 2012 at 03:59 PM (#4033464)
The Baseball Writers Association of America — can’t believe they let those guys pick anything

Funny thing is that the quote above started off so well ...
   31. shozzlekhan Posted: January 10, 2012 at 04:25 PM (#4033491)
Which years in the 1990's would he rather have Ripken?

1990 - Ripken
1991 - Ripken
1992 - Larkin
1993 - Larkin
1994 - Tie
1995 - Larkin
1996 - Larkin
1997 - Larkin
1998 - Larkin
1999 - Tie? Dominant 1/2 season vs. pretty good full season


And really, 1990 shouldn't be included but we've been over this stupidity.
   32. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: January 10, 2012 at 04:26 PM (#4033494)
Funny thing is that the quote above started off so well ...
I would tell the lunkheads who do the voting

We've got bookends!
   33. Booey Posted: January 10, 2012 at 05:24 PM (#4033596)
And really, 1990 shouldn't be included but we've been over this stupidity.

Why? The arguments against it and including 2000 instead make no sense.
   34. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: January 10, 2012 at 05:38 PM (#4033605)
Why? The arguments against it and including 2000 instead make no sense.


I agree with this. It's important that your decades run from 'X1 to 'X0 if you're comparing decades going back to the year 1, but that never happens. The separation of years into decades is artificial anyway, so we might as well go by common usage rather than usage based on a mathematical irrelevancy.
   35. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 10, 2012 at 05:46 PM (#4033614)
Are you bagging on Mark Grace and his narrowly defined hitting prowess?


Trust me, Gracey didn't have narrowly defined hitting prowess. Go to any 4 am bar in Chicago and look around at the girls. He hit that...and that...and that...and that...and that...
   36. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: January 10, 2012 at 05:58 PM (#4033628)
And really, 1990 shouldn't be included but we've been over this stupidity.

Why? The arguments against it and including 2000 instead make no sense.


I agree with both of these. Yes, a decade should be defined as xx01-xx00, HOWEVER, most of the general populace accept a decade as xx00-xx99, so arguing otherwise is just pissing into the wind.
   37. Booey Posted: January 10, 2012 at 06:09 PM (#4033639)
I agree with this. It's important that your decades run from 'X1 to 'X0 if you're comparing decades going back to the year 1, but that never happens. The separation of years into decades is artificial anyway, so we might as well go by common usage rather than usage based on a mathematical irrelevancy.

Exactly. IMHO, the people arguing that decades begin with a 1 rather than a 0 are trying to make themselves sound smart by clinging to an irrelevant mathematical technicality, but they just end up sounding foolish because measurements of time like the "90's" or the "1900's" AREN'T official or technical terms to begin with. They're just nicknames given to groups of years that end in 90 or begin with 19. So it's completely irrelevant whether or not there was a year zero. If you want to say that the 20th century was 1901-2000, or that the 10th decade of the 20th century was 1991-2000, fine. But the 90's were 1990-1999, and the 1900's were 1900-1999. 1990 ends with a 90. 2000 doesn't. Simple as that. Why people like to complicate things is beyond me...

1991-2000 IS a decade, but only in the same sense that 1987-1996 is.
   38. shozzlekhan Posted: January 10, 2012 at 06:24 PM (#4033647)

I agree with both of these. Yes, a decade should be defined as xx01-xx00, HOWEVER, most of the general populace accept a decade as xx00-xx99, so arguing otherwise is just pissing into the wind.


Isn't that what I was saying? It's all stupidity. Who was the best CF from 1983-1992? Who the #### cares? Why the #### does it matter. PEople who vote based on "blah blah decades of the whatever" should be bludgeoned.
   39. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: January 10, 2012 at 06:37 PM (#4033656)
The problem with Hodges is that he never led the NL in an offensive category in those years.

This seems like a fairly substantial problem. A first baseman playing in an 8-team league has a career black ink score of 2, both points coming from leading the league in games played.

TFA also implies that Mays and Musial were the only people beating Hodges on the leaderboards. Here is the list of his top-3 finishes in offensive categories:
Home runs - 2nd twice (1951, 54), 3rd twice (1950, 52)
RBI - 2nd once (1954), 3rd once (1950)
Runs - 3rd once (1951)
Total bases - 3rd once (1951)
Walks - 2nd once (1952)
Extra-base hits - 3rd once (1951)

That's about it, unless you want to count strikeouts, sac flies, and sac hits (yes, third in the league one year; no, I don't get it either). So it looks like he was losing to more people than just Mays and Musial a vast majority of the time.

Not that you don't all already know this.
   40. McCoy Posted: January 10, 2012 at 06:44 PM (#4033664)
Well, when he was good enough to place in the top three who was he losing against? And when he missed the top three who was in the top 3 and how far away was he?

   41. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: January 10, 2012 at 06:57 PM (#4033676)
Well, when he was good enough to place in the top three who was he losing against? And when he missed the top three who was in the top 3 and how far away was he?

First half of the question:
1950 (3rd in HR, 3rd in RBI): Trails Ralph Kiner by 15 HR, Andy Pafko by 4, tied with Hank Sauer. Trails Del Ennis by 13 in RBI, Kiner by 5.
1951 (2nd in HR, 3rd in runs, TB, XBH): Trails Kiner by 2 in HR, Kiner and Musial by 6 in runs, Musial by 48 and Kiner by 26 in TB, Kiner by 11 and Musial by 6 in XBH. This is a very good year.
1952 (3rd in HR, 2nd in BB): Trails Kiner and Sauer by 5 in HR, Kiner by 3 in walks.
1954 (2nd in HR, 2nd in RBI): Trails Ted Kluszewski by 7 in HR and 11 in RBI.

Second half of the question: I'm not reproducing every leaderboard from the 1950s NL here. Go to baseball reference and look for yourself.
   42. Walt Davis Posted: January 10, 2012 at 07:10 PM (#4033683)
For the decade of the 1950s, when Hodges was the best first baseman in the National League, he averaged 29 home runs a season and 100 RBI.

It builds confidence in his argument that Hodges actually averaged 31 HR a season during the 50s.

Decades are generally silly things. In the 50s, I get only 7 players who topped 6000 PA and only 27 over 5000. You got the same thing in the 30s (8/25) and the 20s (6/22). Expansion of teams and games still leads to only 13/33 in the 60s.

Especially if you use counting stats, anytime you run a decade comparison, you're limiting your comparative sample to maybe 15 guys. Look at it by position and you're basically down to 2. If your period as a durable starter happens to overlop with a decade, you're bound to look good.

So to say that Hodges is the "best" 1B of the 50s (questionable anyway), there are only 3 other players with 5000+ PA whose "primary" position was 1B that you are comparing him to: Klu, Whitey Lockman and Mickey Vernon. As it happens, they all have about 1000 fewer PA than Hodges does. "Best" 1B of the 50s is not exactly a competition among the eternals.

Also Lockman totally sucked -- man had an 88 OPS+ in the 50s playing mostly 1B/LF. On the one hand you think "Durocher must have been a genius to win 2 pennants with Lockman getting nearly 1400 PA"; on the other hand you think "Durocher must have been a moron to give Lockman nearly 1400 PA in those two seasons."

At least with Jack Morris we're comparing him to 9 other starters with 2000+ IP in the 80s (or 17 with 1800+).
   43. 185/456(GGC) Posted: January 10, 2012 at 07:18 PM (#4033688)
I guess Steve the K got to him re Smoky Joe Wood. Palladino's been to a couple of local SABR meetings and we have some Smokey Joe Wood supporters here. His career was too short. I think he is more suited for the Hall of Very Gooden. Too, the only thing Hodges has over Mickey Vernon is rings.
   44. Johnny Slick Posted: January 10, 2012 at 07:49 PM (#4033706)
Apropos to nothing here but one of the best baseball articles I've ever read involves New Yorker sportswriter Roger Angell interviewing Smokey Joe Wood while both are watching Harvard play St. John's in what turned out to be a great pitching duel between two kids known as Frank Viola and Ron Darling. It is, IIRC, in Angell's book Once More Around the Park.
   45. dlf Posted: January 10, 2012 at 08:09 PM (#4033720)
Apropos to nothing here but one of the best baseball articles I've ever read involves New Yorker sportswriter Roger Angell interviewing Smokey Joe Wood while both are watching Harvard play St. John's in what turned out to be a great pitching duel between two kids known as Frank Viola and Ron Darling. It is, IIRC, in Angell's book Once More Around the Park.


Please see post number 11. I'm not a big fan of Coke, but a nice tumbler of Jefferson Reserve with a little ice would be a treat.
   46. Astro Logical Sign Stealer Posted: January 10, 2012 at 09:25 PM (#4033768)
There was just as much a Year 0 as there was a Year 1. It was hundreds of years later that the A.D. numbering scheme began to be used. Fussing about Year 1 is pedantry at its worst.
   47. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 10, 2012 at 09:37 PM (#4033775)
I honestly thought this was parody.

The yardstick that is always tossed around for the Hall of Fame is this: Was he the dominant player of his era at his position?


Didn't we already conclude this is a stupid yardstick? Should we toss George Brett out for being a contemporary with Mike Schmidt?
   48. Johnny Slick Posted: January 11, 2012 at 06:39 PM (#4034609)
Please see post number 11. I'm not a big fan of Coke, but a nice tumbler of Jefferson Reserve with a little ice would be a treat.
WUPS LOL
   49. cardsfanboy Posted: January 14, 2012 at 02:58 AM (#4036937)
Gil Hodges is 44th in fWAR among first basemen of all time., Larkin is 12th among short-stops, and ahead of Gil in career fWar 70-50 IIRC.


why would anyone use fWar? The point stands of course, but fWar is one of the weaker stats out there.
   50. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 14, 2012 at 08:56 AM (#4036964)
There was just as much a Year 0 as there was a Year 1. It was hundreds of years later that the A.D. numbering scheme began to be used.


But the point is that there is no Year 0 in the A.D. numbering scheme. But as noted, the better point is that arbitrary ten-year periods can start with any any number that suits.

Nieporent: "My 7 month old son more deserving to vote for hall than Paladino."


Shouldn't this be in all caps, and end with "MR. PRESIDENT"?
   51. Howie Menckel Posted: January 14, 2012 at 01:02 PM (#4037034)

Agreed on that Angell piece on that pitchers duel and Smokey Joe Wood, by the way. Maybe the best baseball-related storytelling I can ever recall...

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