Category Archives: Baseball Hall of Fame

A Response to Mr. Pearlman

Mr. Pearlman, here is your response.

What we know about the steroids era and the players who were involved in it are two separate things and considering yourself an arbiter, a judge, a jury and an executioner of who did what on solely circumstantial evidence, with no proof, hard evidence, or even testimony, is a terribly irresponsible use of power.

As Ol’ Hoss Radbourn’s twitter said, saying “This player did steroids, here is my proof,” is what a responsible reporter would do. Saying “I think player X did steroids because Players Y and Z did it too” is what a gossip columnist would write.

Barry Bonds admitted to using the cream and the clear in a leaked grand jury testimony. Roger Clemens was cited in testimony for using HGH. Alex Rodriguez admitted to doing steroids while at Texas. Andy Pettitte admitted to HGH use while in recovery from an elbow injury.

This is evidence–and hard evidence at that. Citing before and after pictures is circumstancial evidence. It is not proof.

Two more points:

1. How can any player prove he didn’t do steroids?

Imagine, if you will, someone starts spreading a rumor that you’re gay. So how do you go about trying to prove you’re not gay? Start acting more hetero? That’s proof that you’re trying to hide it. Start going on dates with more women? You’re coming off too strong to show off your hetero-ness.

How do you talk to the people who started spreading this rumor? Almost anything you say will be used against you. “He said he’s going on a date with this girl Emma, it’s pretty obvious he’s just overcompensating.”

There is no way for a player who is suspected of doing steroids to prove he didn’t do steroids.

2. It’s not the voters’ jobs to judge who did and didn’t do steroids.

If evidence comes to light that he did use steroids, talk can begin of removing his plaque. I’d rather his plaque be removed upon being found guilty of using any performance enhancer than to further instigate any steroids gossip. But voting on suspicion is entirely bullshit and goes against the basic principles of justice.

I hope this answers your question.

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Elect Bret Saberhagen to the Hall of Fame

A lot of talk gets kicked around this time of year about Jack Morris and the Hall of Fame. Even more talk is about his game 7 performance in the 1991 World Series. To that, I say Guffaw.

Truly, the best World Series Game 7 performance by a pitcher was Bret Saberhagen. The brilliant, green, 21-year-old defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 11-0.

In his nine-inning performance, Saberhagen allowed ZERO runs and scored one himself. He also gave up only five hits and no walks in the game.

Can Morris say that? No, because Morris gave up seven hits and two freaking walks. He also gave up two runs in game 4 of the series.

Saberhagen, meanwhile, pitched all nine innings in his two 1985 World Series appearances and gave up only one run in the total 18 innings. He had to pitch game 7 because the rest of his team let him down, not because he pitched poorly in game 4.

Saberhagen also scored a run because he believes pitchers earn their run support. Morris even had a DH play in his stead because he was so scared of hitting.

And Saberhagen has 70 fewer career losses than Morris. Advantage: Saberhagen.

So remember this, BBWAA: a vote for Jack Morris and a non-vote for Bret Saberhagen is a vote for hypocris–wait, what’s that? Saberhagen fell off the ballot his first year? lol

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Hall of Fame Replacement Player

So we’re back into Hall of Fame voting and let’s just say if the BBWAA were in charge of creating an entire team, it’d be pretty awful at fielding (all LFs and 1Bs). Not to mention many incongruous arguments (most feared vs. umm … best player?).

Taken from Sean Smith of Baseball Projections and his list of top 500 position players, here’s the list of players who are/were eligible to get into the Hall of Fame and haven’t as of yet. Yes, Bagwell has the highest WAR among those players.


35 Jeff Bagwell B-Ref Page 79.9 1991 2005
42 Bill Dahlen B-Ref Page 75.9 1891 1911 HOM
45 Pete Rose B-Ref Page 75.4 1963 1986 HOM
55 Lou Whitaker B-Ref Page 69.5 1977 1995 HOM
59 Barry Larkin B-Ref Page 68.8 1986 2004 HOM
63 Bobby Grich B-Ref Page 67.6 1970 1986 HOM
66 Edgar Martinez B-Ref Page 67.2 1987 2004 HOM
67 Larry Walker B-Ref Page 67.1 1989 2005
69 Alan Trammell B-Ref Page 66.8 1977 1996 HOM
74 Ron Santo B-Ref Page 66.4 1960 1974 HOM
78 R. Palmeiro B-Ref Page 65.7 1986 2005
81 Tim Raines B-Ref Page 64.9 1980 2002 HOM
85 Roberto Alomar B-Ref Page 63.6 1988 2004 HOM
88 Mark McGwire B-Ref Page 63.1 1986 2001 HOM
89 Reggie Smith B-Ref Page 63.1 1966 1982 HOM
92 Joe Jackson B-Ref Page 62.9 1908 1920 HOM
96 Dwight Evans B-Ref Page 61.7 1972 1991 HOM
99 Graig Nettles B-Ref Page 61.3 1967 1988 HOM
101 Dick Allen B-Ref Page 61.1 1963 1977 HOM
102 K. Hernandez B-Ref Page 61.0 1974 1990 HOM
104 Buddy Bell B-Ref Page 60.7 1972 1989
105 Sal Bando B-Ref Page 60.5 1966 1981
106 W. Randolph B-Ref Page 60.4 1975 1992 HOM
108 Jimmy Wynn B-Ref Page 59.8 1963 1977 HOM
113 Sherry Magee B-Ref Page 59.1 1904 1919 HOM
114 Jack Glasscock B-Ref Page 58.6 1879 1895 HOM
116 Ken Boyer B-Ref Page 58.3 1955 1969 HOM
121 Will Clark B-Ref Page 57.4 1986 2000 HOM
124 Willie Davis B-Ref Page 57.1 1960 1979
127 Darrell Evans B-Ref Page 57.0 1969 1989 HOM
128 Bobby Bonds B-Ref Page 56.9 1968 1981
131 John Olerud B-Ref Page 56.6 1989 2005

Someone made a suggestion that looking at WAR for a one-stop stat is a little too simplified and I agree, but I love Sean Smith‘s WAR.

HOF cut-offs are kind of a personal thing; either you believe a player is worthy of being enshrined in the Hall for generations or you don’t. But everyone should have a cut-off player–that everyone below Player X does not deserve to get in.

I think John Olerud is my cut-off. Sensational average and on-base guy with some decent power. He had a great, long career and is only low on that list because the replacement level of his era on offense was exceedingly high.

There’s also a few guys on that list that deserve some credit that they never got. Bobby Bonds. Darrell Evans. Jimmy Wynn. Dick Allen. Reggie Smith. Bobby Grich especially. And then Will the Thrill …

As for some of the others, like Sal Bando, Buddy Bell and Ken Boyer, I’d have to give a second look, ’cause I don’t know much about them.

Here are some players well below Olerud that are in:

...
179 King Kelly B-Ref Page 48.4 1878 1893 HOF HOM
180 Johnny Evers B-Ref Page 48.3 1902 1922 HOF
181 Joe Sewell B-Ref Page 48.1 1920 1933 HOF HOM
182 Tony Lazzeri B-Ref Page 48.1 1926 1939 HOF
183 Bobby Doerr B-Ref Page 48.0 1937 1951 HOF HOM
185 H. Jennings B-Ref Page 47.9 1891 1912 HOF
188 Larry Doby B-Ref Page 47.4 1947 1959 HOF
196 Edd Roush B-Ref Page 46.8 1913 1931 HOF
197 Orlando Cepeda B-Ref Page 46.6 1958 1974 HOF
200 Sam Thompson B-Ref Page 46.5 1885 1906 HOF
205 Dave Bancroft B-Ref Page 46.3 1915 1930 HOF
208 Ralph Kiner B-Ref Page 45.8 1946 1955 HOF
211 Earl Averill B-Ref Page 45.2 1929 1941 HOF
215 Kirby Puckett B-Ref Page 45.0 1984 1995 HOF
221 Earle Combs B-Ref Page 44.6 1924 1935 HOF
222 Nellie Fox B-Ref Page 44.6 1947 1965 HOF
233 Heinie Manush B-Ref Page 43.9 1923 1939 HOF
257 Phil Rizzuto B-Ref Page 41.6 1941 1956 HOF
258 Jim Rice B-Ref Page 41.5 1974 1989 HOF

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Remembering Reggie Smith for a Moment

I was just remembering Reggie Smith earlier and how much he owned.

For those that don’t remember or don’t know who Reggie Smith was, the dude owned. He was an outfielder who played in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. If you believe in a big Hall of Fame, he’d be on your ballot.

For his career, he was a .287/.366/.489 and he played during the ’60s and 70s, an era of very few good hitters. That’s a 137 OPS+ for that era and that’s third-highest among non-Hall members with more than 3,000 appearances in that time (Dick Allen, who should be in the Hall anyway, and Frank Howard are in front of him).

In his first year as a Dodger, 1977, he put up a .307/.427/.576 slash line in 600 plate appearances.

He continued with the power and average the next couple of years, but injuries slowed him. He was still part of the team in 1981, but had only 44 plate appearances.

Smith was also charismatic and an a-hole. He started fights, he argued, he was a real firebrand. He’d be an a-hole today, but he was a hero, according to Tommy Lasorda at the time.

I’m gonna shamelessly steal some of this from Wikipedia.

In the 1981 season as a member of the Dodgers, Smith was taunted by Giants fan Michael Dooley, who then threw a batting helmet at him. Smith then jumped into the stands at Candlestick Park and started punching him. He was ejected from the game, and Dooley was arrested.

Dodger Blues has this:

”It started in the sixth inning when I was stretching in front of the dugout,” said Dodger outfielder Reggie Smith. ”A fan said, ‘You stink, you have no class,’ so I said, ‘What does that make you if you’re talking to me?’ The fan said, ‘If I come down there I could get hurt and be out of my $40,000 a year job. But if I hurt you, it will hurt the Dodgers.”’

The fan, 37-year-old Michael Dooley, then picked up a souvenir batting helmet and threw it at Smith, who immediately jumped into the stands and began pounding him. As other fans and teammates joined the fracas, Smith tried to pull Dooley onto the field.

When the five-minute disturbance was ended, eight fans were taken into custody and Smith was ejected. As Smith was being escorted from the stadium, a fan threw a beer bottle in the direction of Smith, but it landed 10 to feet in front of him and he continued off the field without further incident. After being released from jail, Dooley was treated for injuries at Stanford University Hospital. ”His ribs and hand were injured,” Dooley’s wife said. ”He was being pulled into the field by the Dodgers and off the field by the cops, while he was being beaten by both.”

”Everybody who sits by the Dodger dugout razzles the hell out of them,” Mrs. Dooley said, defending her Giants-loving husband. ”It’s part of the rivalry and he hates the Dodgers so much.”

And then five months later, Smith signed with the Giants.

Smith even caused teammates to fight.

In the 1978 season, Dodger pitcher Don Sutton went public with comments that Smith was a more valuable player to the Dodgers than the more-celebrated Steve Garvey. This led to an infamous clubhouse wrestling match between Sutton and Garvey.

Hilariously, Sutton was right, though rumor had it that Sutton insulted Garvey and his wife.

Smith was a really cool guy and is sometimes lost in the Dodgers lore, often an afterthought of the ’70s Dodgers and the ’60s Red Sox. But he was an awesome ballplayer and an awesome dude for punching a Giants fan right in the face. (I’m kidding)

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Ah, but how could I forget Howard Bryant’s piece today.

It deserves it’s own post, really.

Outrage at HOF voting baseless

Hmm.  OK.  Good headline.  Let’s see what you have to say.

From the overheated outrage expressed by baseball fans, the blogosphere and, most embarrassingly, the ostensibly objective journalists over the fact that Andre Dawson was the only player elected to the Hall of Fame in 2010, it seemed as though voters who didn’t choose Roberto Alomar had reduced the sum total of his spectacular accomplishments to being on par with the feats of, say, Marty Barrett, and that Barry Larkin’s wonderful career was just slightly better than Gene Larkin’s.

Well, something that was overlooked by and large, even by myself, is that a very large majority voted for both Blyleven and Alomar and less than 5% more than that voted for Andre Dawson.  That just turned out to be the difference between enshrinement and waiting another year.  It’s a good point, but the outrage expressed was directed more at the hypocrisy of voting and the problem of having a bloated, sometimes under-educated voting masses who get lifetime passes to vote, even if they don’t keep up with the sport.

Two pivotal, fundamental changes in baseball culture have surrounded and smothered the process, however, and the result this year was faux anger that suggested a great injustice had been done to Alomar, when in fact voters behaved in a manner consistent with that of their predecessors.

Hmm yes all voters should vote similarly to their predecessors, where a candidate stands on wage slavery in turn-of-the-century Chicago is important to me.  You can tell already there’s going to be a strong “f**k progress” tone in this piece.

The piece kinda meanders and spreads itself thin, but eventually …

[…]The second change is that the voting process has been hijacked by technology, with greater statistical analysis as well as the preponderance of opinions available on the Internet.

I wouldn’t say the voting process has been hijacked.  I mean, favorites of the stats community are still being avoided, including Tim Raines and Alan Trammell. But yes, statistical analysis is a big change in baseball today–a progressive change, I feel, and a change made to help us better understand the game we love.

The messengers, once less partisan, now are activists. The blogosphere, almost by definition, is not objective but rather reactive, comprised of Web sites whose origins are rooted in recognizing the mainstream media as the enemy, incompetent or both. The mainstream media — which still includes many of the Hall of Fame’s voters, often in need of a group hug or weary from constant abuse — panders in turn.

Perhaps it is the reacted who has become … the reactor?

Statistical analysis is cyclical,

Sigourney Weaver: On a warm spring day, when the sun rises and the flowers bloom, stastical analysis peaks its head of its hybernation hole for the first time in four months, with its two bear cubs in tow.  Emaciated, the statistical analysis is hungry and must find its first meal before she starves.

and thus players who produce certain figures — the great OPS-ing of the Hall of Fame ballot — get greater consideration, lest voters incur the wrath of the numbers people.

I think the point our friend here Howard is missing is that even something as simple as on-base percentage isn’t about stats.  It’s about the advancement for understanding the game.  Where should value be placed in the sport? And for years, the standard for batting and pitching evaluation–batting average and wins–turned out to be the wrong focus.

Imagine that for nearly 70 years, the standard evaluation for kickers in the NFL is their number of field goals made, regardless of their number of misses and how many yards they were out.  And if the team won the game, the kicker received a point and those total points amassed were used as analysis.  That’s what baseball had for many, many years, only even worse.

Along with hundreds of blogs, Major League Baseball’s content — broadcast by its own network — produces a tsunami of thought that at worst can intimidate and at the very least can influence voters.

Moments after typing this, Howard’s sister-in-law had Howard committed, claiming the numbers people were coming to get him.

Yes, Edgar Martinez joins Rogers Hornsby, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Stan Musial as the only players to have a .300 batting average, 500 doubles and a .400 on-base percentage, but would anyone in his or her right mind actually choose to start a team with Martinez over any of those players?

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.  Maybe the funniest part of this all is that our friend here, Howard K. Bryant,  did vote for Jim Rice last year. So I guess Martinez wasn’t good enough for the Hall because he couldn’t play with Ruth or Gehrig, but Rice was?

Milestones that never before provided a free pass — Harmon Killebrew hit 573 home runs and Early Wynn won 300 games, but both were inducted on their fourth tries — now are viewed as cause for automatic election.

Just a little side note, Early Wynn is, like, one of three Hall of Fame pitchers that even big Hall guys should agree doesn’t belong in there.

Howard does make a good point eventually that the Hall rarely inducts anybody on the first ballot and that Bob Feller in 1962 was the first first-ballot Hall of Famer after the 1936 group (though he doesn’t mention that the Hall of Fame was backlogged for years because of all of the possible inductees) and that it’s never been an act of disrespect, but rather a late understanding of the players.

Well, it kind of is disrespect if you’re not informing yourself on who to vote for before you vote–and then later allow yourself to be swayed by immaterial appeals. I believe voters should know immediately who they should vote for and have reasoning to go with it.  No aura.  No “I saw him play and he looked like a Hall of Famer.”  No  “he’s not a first-ballot guy.” The only voters worse than that are the voters who change their mind because of public opinion.  If you think the guy should be in the Hall, you put him on the ballot.  Enough with superlatives that boost a potential Hall of Famer’s candidacy without the information to back it up.  Enough with the passive aggressive power mongering.

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Some Hall of Fame catch-up material and links.

Craig Calcaterra collected the choicest nerd-raging quotes from around the blogosphere. My favorite:

Drunk Jays Fans: “Today, Andre Dawson was considered by people whose job it is to cover baseball, to be more deserving of the greatest honour a baseball player can receive than Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven and Mark McGwire. This is fu**ing dumb.”

One of the biggest concerns stemming from this year’s voting is that the BBWAA just isn’t fit to do their job.  It’s About the Money (stupid!) came up with this fine six-step solution:

  1. Term limits: Those eligible to vote can do so for five years. After that, they must cycle out of the voting pool for at least two years. After that, they can reapply for voting rights for the next five year period.
  2. Voting Board: A group of 10 senior BBWAA members (elected by their peers) who have the ability to remove a writer from the voting pool using a majority vote. This group will be able to decide that if a person, such as Lisa Olsen, who refuses to select any player on any ballot he/she has ever been given deserves to remain part of the BBWAA pool. Making a sham of the vote is reason for being ousted.  Not paying attention is also grounds for dismissal, as what happened last year with Rickey’s vote showed us; sorry, if you’re not taking this seriously, you lose the right to vote.
  3. Credentials: Review the credentials of every person currently eligible to vote for the HOF. If they are not currently writing extensively about baseball, they lose their right to vote. Even if they are in the midst of their term.
  4. Eligiblity: Writers can come from non-traditional media (ie: Internet), however they must be nominated by an existing BBWAA member and must be granted credentials by the Voting Board.
  5. Inclusion of HOF Players: As much as I would like to include all of the living HOF’ers to the pool, I’m concerned about their lack of objectivity. I have heard many HOF’ers the last few days citing the players not currently in the HOF as “guys who absolutely should be in”, though some of these players don’t stand a chance of ever getting in. Especially Tommy Lasorda, who would vote to elect everyone who wore Dodger blue. Also, players from The Steroid Era would face a significant bias from this large group.  Instead of allowing every former player, I would select 20 HOF’ers, on a rotating 3 year term, to vote.  This way, voting blocks would be tough to establish as there were be new voters cycling in every year.
  6. Transparency: Every voter’s ballot MUST be made public. Rationale is strictly voluntary, however.

Probably the best review I’ve read so far, although the selection/de-selection process sounds too stringent.  Maybe just disband the BBWAA and replace it with a group of analysts, scouts and historians who attend the games.  I’ll say it again, reporters have their value in the world, but they’re not analysts and the two jobs should be separated once and for all.  Or maybe make all baseball reporters pass a statistics 200-level course.

Not all of the ballots were made public, but about 70 were this year and The Girl Who Loved Andy Pettitte collected the data and came out with a list of the worst ballots submitted, the worst hypocrisies and the worst attention grabs.

As I wrote in this post, it turns out it wasn’t just Heyman and Jenkins who voted for Morris and not Blyleven.  At least eight ballots mirrored that.

The Jack Morris but no Bert Blyleven Crew

Murray Chass, Jon Heyman, Bruce Jenkins, Danny Knobler, Buster Olney, Dan Shaughnessy, Joel Sherman and Tom Verducci all voted for Jack Morris but not Bert Blyleven. If you don’t think Bert is a Hall of Fame pitcher and don’t buy the arguments of people like Rich Lederer that’s fine.We all have different ideas about what the cutoff for the Hall should be. But if you don’t think Bert belongs then there is absolutely no way that Jack Morris should be one.

Stinks, I’ve always looked up to Tom Verducci as a writer. The rest of the article is pretty good, suggested reading to show that at the very least, the BBWAA is bloated and should be slimmed down.

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Moving on …

You’ve already heard enough on why the BBWAA is idiots, I don’t think you need another article on it.  The voting was very close, anyway.  It’s just a shame a few guys turned in blank ballots and a few more had empty vote spaces that didn’t go to Alomar or Blyleven.

Andre Dawson was a fantastic player.  I believe the Hall of Fame should have a base standard for on-base percentage, which is the most important offensive stat, but Dawson did a lot of things very well.  Hit for power, play defense and steal bases.  You can argue he wasn’t elite at these things, but in his best years, between 22-37, he had 399 home runs, 93 triples (!) and 309 stolen bases (to 104 caught stealing, which is a decent percentage) in 9,566 plate appearances.

He had a 118 OPS+ in center and right field.  He also did this in 10,769 plate appearances, which is 27th all time in the Hall.  He fits in well with other Hall of Famers

Congratulations to Andre Dawson.  This is his time.  He should go in as the second (and last) Expo.

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