Tuesday, January 12, 2010

9 comments Let's Talk A Little Bit About the Baseball Hall of Fame

I tried to ignore the Hall of Fame discussions that went on last week during the Hall of Fame voting. Mostly since I don't enjoy talking about the Baseball Hall of Fame and I feel every discussion just takes us all in circles to where everyone thinks they are right and support their position with really important sounding statistics. I couldn't ignore it after a while though. Hopefully today won't be too spastic for all of you, as I am going to be trying to cover all the articles about the Hall of Fame that I bookmarked and thought were interesting/horrible about the 2010 Hall of Fame voting. We all know only Andre Dawson got in and BotB favorite Bert Blyleven came 5 votes short. I think it is interesting to find out how these voters came to their conclusion of who should be included as a 2010 Hall of Fame inductee.

Let's start it off with Jayson Stark and him going over his ballot.

Dawson hasn't peeled away an ice pack to play a big league game since 1996. Blyleven hasn't broken off one of those legendary curveballs since 1992. So don't ask me why they're still being forced to sweat out these election days after all these years.

If I were the czar of Hall of Fame election rules, we'd be forced to make up our minds within the first five elections -- 10 at the most -- on whether men like this are Hall of Famers.

Apparently Jayson Stark wants a short time period to consider these players. I don't know if I can agree with this. Though 15 ballots does seem like a lot, it also gives the voters plenty of time to consider each candidate's credentials. It also doesn't really hurt anyone to keep a person on the ballot that many years in a row as long as the voters aren't just going to vote someone in the Hall of Fame just to do it (ummm...Jim Rice). It's not like guys who aren't elected their first couple of years on the ballot want OFF the Hall of Fame ballot because they get tired of waiting to see if they made the Hall of Fame.

As for me, I voted for both Dawson and Blyleven, plus all four prominent first-timers (Alomar, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez and Fred McGriff). And since I also vote for Tim Raines, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris and Dale Murphy every year, that means I filled up all 10 spots on my ballot for only the second time ever.

My take? Yes, yes, yes, yes, no, no, yes, no, no, no.

Dale Murphy is my idol but I don't think he should be in the Hall of Fame. I named my goldfish after him as a child so I do have a soft spot for him, and if you let Jim Rice in the Hall of Fame, then Dale Murphy has a decent case as well. I don't see their career numbers as being incredibly different from each other. My sportswriting friend Gregg Doyel agrees with me on this issue. (Doyel's comments are in bold italics with different font)

So this is the reality I'm left to contemplate: Dick Vitale is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, but Dale Murphy is eliminated from Cooperstown forever.

This entire column Gregg starts talking about Dale Murphy being in the Hall of Fame and comparing it to Dick Vitale being in the basketball Hall of Fame. Honestly, I just don't get the comparison, so I just ignored it and tried to pay attention to the substance of his column.

They're the ones who have treated Murphy with disdain since Day 1 -- he received just 19.3 percent of the votes in his 1999 debut on the ballot -- and dropped him to 11.5 percent last year. In other words, only 1 in 5 voters ever thought Murphy was good enough, and almost half of them have gone gutlessly into the night. Instead of fighting for Murphy, they're letting him fade away.

I know the entire purpose of the 15 year waiting period is for voters to re-evaluate players from year-to-year, but since 1999 what the hell has a good hitting and fielding player done AFTER the Steroid Era done to deserve less support? In light of all the steroid revelations, shouldn't his numbers look better at this point? I don't see how they don't. There is something wrong in not voting for Mark McGwire because of steroids and his connection to them, but in also not recognizing players who didn't use steroids and put up great numbers. You can't penalize the steroids users for tainting the game and then not acknowledge the statistics those who didn't use PEDs put up.

I really don't think Murphy should be in the Hall of Fame, but I am playing Devil's advocate here.

His vote tally steadily increased until he made it into Cooperstown last year, and I'm not here to tell you Jim Rice doesn't deserve it -- he does. I'm here to tell you Dale Murphy deserves it just as much.

This is what irritates me, players setting the floor for induction and then we compare other players to the original player who is the "floor." Now that Rice has entered the Hall of Fame, advocates for players who are similar to Rice are going to be wanting their guy in the Hall of Fame as well. I don't hate Jim Rice, he is just going to be my whipping boy when discussing Dale Murphy.

Stats can be manipulated any way you want -- Murphy had more home runs than Rice (398 to 382), Rice had a much higher batting average (.298 to .265) -- but Murphy was a more versatile player. He had more stolen bases (161 to 58) and more Gold Gloves (five to none). You can tell me Rice is better. Maybe he is. But better to the point where last year he received 76.4 percent of the votes, and Dale Murphy got 11.5 percent?

This is one of the things that irritates me the most about the Hall of Fame. It is a popularity contest to a certain extent and this actually lends credence to Stark's idea of limiting years a player can be on a ballot to 5 or 10 years. It cuts down on the time a player can hang out there and finally garner enough sympathy. Did Jim Rice really deserve 7 times as much Hall of Fame support as Dale Murphy?

Murphy also won two MVP trophies, and of the 20 ballot-eligible players who won that award more than once, 18 are in the Hall. The only ones left out are Murphy and Roger Maris, who also belongs in the Hall for a combination of results and historical oomph, but I'll let someone else fight that fight.

Because it is a stupid fight. One year Maris hit a lot of homeruns while batting in the same lineup as Mickey Mantle who was nearly as hot at the plate as Maris was in 1961. I don't think a player should be allowed in the Hall of Fame based solely on him breaking the home run record. I don't see how this can be an unpopular opinion. Unfortunately, historical oomph isn't too high on my list of good reasons to put Roger Maris in the Hall of Fame either. He isn't Jackie Robinson.

Maybe individual production looked down in the 1980s because expansion had yet to dilute the talent; there were only 12 National League teams in 1985, compared to 16 today. Or maybe -- and that last explanation was only a theory, whereas this one is a stone cold fact -- the offensive numbers from the 1980s are unfairly dismissed because of the steroid explosion of the 1990s and beyond.

I don't know if it is a "fact" that the 1980's offensive numbers are unfairly dismissed because of the steroid explosion of the 1990's, but it certainly could be true. A fact is something that can't be disputed and can be easily backed up with empirical evidence, while this statement of Doyel's can certainly be disputed.

Schmidt led the 1980s with 313 home runs, just five more than Murphy's 308 -- Johnny Bench led the 1970s with 292, by the way -- but Barry Bonds hit 361 in the 1990s and Alex Rodriguez hit 435 in the 2000s. And those guys cheated.

Home runs are not, and should not, be the sole criteria for voting a player into the Hall of Fame. On it's face this seems convincing, but I would need more information to advocate Murphy's induction into the Hall of Fame. Just looking at Murphy's statistics, I don't know if I could advocate his candidacy.

Murphy drove in 1,266 runs, an impressive number in the 1980s but devalued by today's baseball, where Murphy's RBI total is somewhere between that of Garret Anderson (1,353) and Bobby Abreu (1,187).

RBI's are a factor of a team having runners on base to be batted in. Since Murphy played for some terrible Braves teams, I think we could excuse him for not having as many runs driven in as Garret Anderson and Bobby Abreu, both of which played for some teams that had good hitters in the lineup that got on base and could be driven in.

I don't know if RBI's have been devalued as much since the 1980's as home runs have been. I see it more as a factor of having runners on base to be batted in than a product of steroid usage. Homeruns have been devalued because everyone and their brother was cracking homeruns in the late 90s's, but I haven't really thought for sure if RBI's got devalued over that period. It would make sense since more homeruns seems to also indicate there would be more RBI's, but I would need more proof of it.

But the dominant player from the 1980s -- a guy who hit for power and stole bases (he turned in a 30-30 season in 1983, when that actually meant something) and won five Gold Gloves at a premium position like center field -- is about to slip off the ballot for good.

This is the part where I say Gold Gloves don't really mean much either and then list the players who have multiple Gold Gloves but are actually poor fielders...if I had the energy to list the players in the Hall of Fame who were poor fielders. The point is that guys like Dale Murphy realistically should not be considered 7 times less seriously for the Hall of Fame (through votes accumulated) than Jim Rice. That's a problem I have with the process.

Back to Stark's Hall of Fame ballot:

Alomar was a guy who made plays no one else made, saw things no one else saw and did it all with a Human Highlight Video flair that leaped off the field at you.

Much like spit from Alomar's mouth onto John Hirschbeck? Is that how Alomar's plays leaped off at everyone?

He had a 10-year period (1992 to 2001) in which he LED THE MAJOR LEAGUES in hits.


And the three second basemen in history who can match his career numbers (2,724 hits/.300 average/.371 on-base pct./.443 slugging pct.) all started their careers before 1925.

So how anyone could look at Alomar's career and NOT vote for him is a bigger mystery to me than Stonehenge.

I 100% agree. So naturally Alomar didn't get in the Hall of Fame on his first ballot.

Start with his trophy collection: Larkin's nine Silver Sluggers are second only to A-Rod (10) among ALL INFIELDERS in history. He won three straight Gold Gloves -- while Ozzie Smith was still active.

Offensively, Larkin's .815 career OPS was an amazing 137 points higher than the average shortstop of his era. And, according to Lee Sinins' Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, he created a staggering 488 more runs than the average shortstop of his time -- the highest total of any National League shortstop whose career started after World War II.

I'm pretty sold. Barry Larkin didn't get in either. Jack Morris (I am sorry to his supporters, if Blyleven doesn't get in then Morris shouldn't either. They always pop up in the same conversation as each other. I would take Blyleven before Morris. This is just how I feel) got more Hall of Fame support than Barry Larkin did. 52.3% to 51.6%. I never really thought of Barry Larkin as a Hall of Famer until I actually took a peek at his numbers and read some of the arguments for him. I have to say I think I agree. Since I am a defense hating asshole, I think Barry Larkin should get in if Ozzie Smith gets in. What I mean is that Ozzie Smith was a good defense shortstop, but was also the epitome of "light hitting," so I think Larkin should be in the Hall of Fame if Smith is.

After that, McGriff's numbers looked almost exactly the same for the next decade as they'd looked before (.283/.393/.531 from 1988 to 1992, versus .290/.373/.506 from 1993 to 2002) -- as sure an indication he was clean as you'll get without a drug test. So was it HIS fault that a 35-homer, 104-RBI season was league-leader material in 1992, but made a guy Just Another Slugger in 2001? It shouldn't be. Should it?

For a Hall of Fame snob, I sure do want a lot of guys on the current Hall of Fame list to get into the Hall of Fame. I am pretty torn on McGriff, though I think he deserves it before Murphy and Edgar Martinez.

Edgar Martinez was the greatest designated hitter ever. Let's agree on that within the first two sentences of this discussion, OK?

Great, the guy who played Corky on "Life Goes On" is the most famous actor of all-time with Down Syndrome. It doesn't mean we should start getting a place for him in the Television Hall of Fame (if there is one).

No DH ever ripped off 13 relentlessly great seasons like the 13 Edgar had from 1991 to 2003. Don't even bother trying to find one.

No actor ripped off 4 seasons of great family television like Chris Burke did with his Corky character on the show. Don't even try to find a better actor with Down Syndrome.

But it isn't going to be easy for any DH to make it into the Hall of Fame, and it shouldn't be. A Hall of Fame DH had better be one massively dominating masher.

Absolutely not. A Hall of Fame DH had better be as good of a hitter as other players that are currently in the Hall of Fame. That's all I really ask. I stated my opinion here.

His "counting" stats -- 2,247 hits, 309 homers, 1,261 RBIs -- won't look like anything special to the voters who don't take the time to gaze beyond those columns on the stat sheet or don't take into account that this man wasn't allowed to play every day 'til age 27.

I would LOVE to gaze up from the stat sheet and take a better look at this man and ignore the statistics (which is what Hall of Fame should be based upon) and listen to hyperbolic evidence about how great Edgar Martinez was.

How about those 13 seasons in which this guy was one of the most feared hitters alive?

How about that statistic of "most feared hitter" that has no measurement and therefore no way of actually being used to compare hitters to each other? It's so wonderful to be a feared hitter, in fact that's pretty much how Jim Rice got inducted in the Hall of Fame. He got in on the old "fear factor" that may or may not exist, and even if it did exist really doesn't mean all that much since it is hyperbolic evidence of Martinez's greatness. So basically I am saying I don't buy it.

But if we talk total offensive package, how many men in the entire sport would you rank above Edgar in that time? Bonds and who else? That answer is nobody, friends. Nobody. Do the math. Ask the pitchers. Survey the scouts.

I am going to sit down immediately and write emails to all the pitchers that faced Edgar Martinez to see if they were scared of him and I will see if some of the crusty old scouts that Bill Plascke knows can give me some evidence based on how the ball sounded after being hit by Martinez's bat as to how great he was. Because I have the capability to do this. What a stupid challenge...

Measure it any way you want.

That's the thing, you can't measure how much a player is feared other than walks and how scared pitchers look in replays of old games. I am not denying Martinez was a great hitter, I just don't think he was a Hall of Fame hitter. Merely saying he was a feared hitter isn't going to convince me either.

Danny Knobler agrees that Edgar Martinez is not a Hall of Fame player. (His comments are in bold with different font)

By my count, 24 Hall of Famers spent at least one game as a DH, and 16 of them accumulated a full season's worth of games (130 or more) as a DH during their careers.

Paul Molitor played nearly half his games as, some would say, half a player.

I don't think the debate should be about whether Martinez was a Hall of Fame DH or not, because there are plenty of good players in the Hall of Fame who weren't good fielders but made it in the Hall of Fame on their hitting prowess. Simply because Martinez didn't field very often in his career doesn't mean we should necessarily hold that against him. His hitting numbers have to be up to Hall of Fame standards though. I think the DH argument is a sort of diversion the media has brought up in Martinez's Hall of Fame debate that is clouding the issue of whether he deserves it based on his hitting prowess or not.

I find it fairly relevant that Martinez didn't play in the field often. Defense is a part of the game too. I think we should take what fielding percentages that Martinez did accumulate while he was at third base, or possibly project him as a bad fielder, and see if we would elect him to the Hall of Fame at that point. The bottom line is that a bad fielding, great hitter is going to make the Hall of Fame, so Martinez may need to be set to that hitting standard more than the fielding standard.

Martinez had a career fielding percentage of .952, including a .946 percentage at third base. He wasn't exactly a spectacular fielder for various reasons.

We can elect a DH who was so dominating at the plate that we overlook the fact that he rarely did anything else.

Agreed. A DH has to be one of the greatest hitters of all-time to make the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame should be about what a player did well in relation to his job. If a closer closed games well, and didn't just accumulate saves, he should be in the Hall of Fame. If a player was an great hitter, but he was a fantastic fielder then perhaps he should make the Hall of Fame. It's a combination of job duties for a team and how well that duty was performed that should put a player in the Hall of Fame.

I don't rely totally on stats, but 309 home runs and 1,261 RBI (Martinez's career totals) aren't enough to make him stand out. He made seven All-Star teams, but that puts him in line with Don Mattingly, Dave Parker, Tim Raines and Alan Trammell, other outstanding players who have not gotten my vote.

His statistics are impressive but not eye popping and All-Star teams are ever so not relevant to this discussion, since they are essentially popularity contests. They should have little bearing on Hall of Fame candidacy in my mind. I don't think Edgar Martinez should be in the Hall of Fame, because his numbers fall short in my belief of the Hall of Fame standard. If he played third base his entire career, I would probably still believe this.

Then Knobler talks about how he voted for Jack Morris, but not Bert Blyleven, and really that irritates me a little bit and I need to move on so I don't get stuck on this. Now that I have discussed Edgar Martinez, again, let's get back to Stark's Hall of Fame ballot, where he talks about Andre Dawson:

And all you need to know about Dawson's massive impact was that he won one MVP award and finished second TWICE. He won a Rookie of the Year trophy and eight Gold Gloves.

A little note to baseball writers everywhere when discussing a player's candidacy for the Hall of Fame...don't include Gold Gloves because they are a semi-hoax of an award. I also want to mention the Rookie of the Year award is also shared by Dawson with guys like Todd Hollandsworth, Jerome Walton, Marty Cordova, Angel Berroa, Eric Hinske, and Bob Hamelin. That's not exactly great company, and there are more players who eventually faded away who won the Rookie of the Year award, so it doesn't seem like it is a path to Cooperstown.

So obviously, as attractive a candidate as Blyleven's 287 wins, 60 shutouts and dazzling strikeout-to-walk ratio (3,701 whiffs to only 1,322 walks) make him, some voters are still asking the questions I once asked.

Why the hell isn't he in the Hall of Fame?

Why did he make only two All-Star teams?

All-Star teams are popularity contest and pitchers for bad teams don't usually get a whole lot of consideration due to their record.

Why was he a top-three finisher in only two Cy Young elections?

Because the same people who vote for the Cy Young are overwhelming impressed with the statistic "wins" which is completely based on the strength of the team around a player.

How come he had a lower winning percentage (.534) than John Burkett or Charlie Leibrandt?

Because he didn't have control over how many runs his team put up. He can only pitch well, he can't hit the damn ball for his team. Is anyone sensing a trend in my answers to Stark's difficult questions?

Bert Blyleven played for bad baseball teams so that had an effect on his win-loss record. This isn't his fault.

And why, for that matter, was he getting only 14 percent of the vote, back when his career was much closer in the rearview mirror?

Because only now in the "statistical revolution" are people open minded and smart enough to base the Hall of Fame candidacy of a player on things like "wins" or any other statistic that is a team statistic and not an individual statistic.

Bet you didn't know that Juan Pierre has already been thrown out stealing more times in his career (155) than Raines (146) was, even though Raines stole nearly twice as many bases (808-459) as Pierre has swiped.

I bet you I could have easily guessed that. Juan Pierre sucks. The world needs to know this.

Mark McGwire

I vote for him because there's no other fair way to handle the players of his generation. I vote for him because we now know that hundreds and hundreds of players in his era took some kind of PED, and we'll never know exactly who did what, or why.

Unless those people actually admit to using steroids. I wonder what Jayson thinks about Mark McGwire now that he has admitted to using steroids off and on for nearly an entire decade? I don't know how I feel about it. Is it different from A-Rod or any other player's admission because McGwire went on and back off PEDs every once in a while, so it couldn't really have been a mistake he made once, but repeatedly? Or is it all the same thing? I don't really know, but I do know I don't like how Jayson Stark defends McGwire for the Hall of Fame.

And a man who was ALWAYS a feared slugger from day one -- a man who (lest we forget) slugged .618 in his rookie year.

What's with Jayson Stark being hung up on players who are "feared?" Also, the fact McGwire hit the ball well one year when he wasn't on PEDs is no reason to vote him in the Hall of Fame. I am torn on McGwire and have no idea how to handle his candidacy, but I do know being "feared" and how he slugged his rookie year isn't a great way to advocate for him when we should have been looking at his entire body of work.

Just so you know how to compute that, Adam Dunn, Adrian Gonzalez and Jason Bay are among the many folks who have never slugged .618 in ANY season.

So he did better his rookie year when compared to three players who aren't currently on pace to be in the Hall of Fame? Possibly comparing McGwire to actual Hall of Fame players would be a better comparison to justify his candidacy.

Jack Morris

But this is where I remind the lecturers that we're talking about a pitcher who threw a no-hitter, started three All-Star Games, was the winningest pitcher of his generation, made a major impact on three World Series teams and was more than just a man who put on the greatest Game 7 World Series show I've ever witnessed.

I will let someone else take down Jack Morris later, but let's just say...color me not impressed. A lot of pitchers have thrown a no-hitter, All-Star game appearances should not be relevant, and a hyperbolic personal ranking of a pitcher's Game 7 performance doesn't feel solid to me.

So I checked his box for the 10th straight year. I haven't been embarrassed to do that once.

Perhaps he should have been embarrassed to check the box 10 times then...or maybe Jayson doesn't embarrass easily.

Dale Murphy isn't ever going to have a plaque in Cooperstown. I know it. He knows it. But I keep waiting for the PED backlash to restore the luster to the forgotten stars of the '80s.

Those glittering credentials convinced 116 voters to vote for him a decade ago. So I have no sensible explanation for why there were only 62 people voting for him by last year. But I've checked his name for 11 straight years. No reason to stop now.

I will say it again...I can understand not voting for Dale Murphy into the Hall of Fame, but how does he get less votes now than he used to? Just logically I would think with the knowledge we have now about home run totals in the Steroid Era would make Murphy's statistics look even better. I am not necessarily against PED users being inducted into the Hall of Fame, but I don't know if 1980's hitters should be punished because their numbers don't match up well with Steroid Era sluggers' numbers.

I have to say Stark's "I have voted for this person every year and refuse to re-evaluate my decision" stance is very unconvincing overall.

-Bert Blyleven was probably not surprised, but still a little bit upset, about his not being inducted into the Hall of Fame. He wrote a column about it and expressed his dismay in his own recognizable fashion...by talking about himself when he faced Andre Dawson (the only inductee for 2010) and covertly calling the Hall of Fame writers idiots.

I’ve vented in the past about not making it. But getting so close (five votes short) and making such a big leap overall in percentage (from 62.7 percent to 74.2 percent), I have to look at is as a positive. ESPN’s Chris Berman gave me the nickname Bert “Be Home” Blyleven.

Because we all know that anything Chris Berman says is definitely a good omen.

By the way, I am already dreading the Home Run Derby this year during All-Star Weekend when called by Chris Berman. I can hear the "back, back, back" call in my nightmares.

I am very happy for Andre Dawson making it to Cooperstown,

"Congratulations Andre, and now everyone let me mention that I owned Dawson when I pitched against him."

I faced Dawson when I was with the Pirates, and while I did pretty well against him (.195 batting average in 41 at-bats), he did hit a couple home runs off me,

"Oh by the way, that player you just voted into the Hall of Fame...he couldn't hit very well off me. I guess that doesn't make me a Hall of Fame pitcher, but then how is he a Hall of Fame hitter?"

You know Bert is thinking this. I like how Bert writes about the Hall of Fame voting because we all know what he is really trying to type. Here's what Bert really means we he types the following sentences...

I’m very happy for Dawson, but I must admit that when they told me only one player got in to Cooperstown, I assumed it would be Roberto Alomar, a dominant second baseman with the glove and the bat. I thought he would be a lock, and all the experts were expecting him to go right in.

"The experts aren't idiots, the voters are idiots. Robert Alomar not be elected in this year on his first ballot is proof of that. Me not being elected into the Hall of Fame for the past 13 years is further proof these voters are moron. Please vote for me Hall of Fame morons."

I’m sure he’ll be in there next year as he logged only three fewer votes than I did in his first year of eligibility.

"I should have been voted into the Hall of Fame my first year of eligibility as well."

I also think Barry Larkin, who got just more than 50 percent, is a future Hall of Famer as probably the best shortstop of his era.

"Further proof these voters are idiots."

And next year, Rafael Palmeiro, Jeff Bagwell and Larry Walker will be among the new eligible players, and all are deserving.

"I support everyone who is suspected of or found to use PEDs to make the Hall of Fame. I support anyone who supports me being in the Hall of Fame."

It will be a year of anticipation, and hopefully the same voters who selected me will stick with me, and we can convince a few others to join.

"I will send 6 voters a free 'I love to fart" shirt, as well as an unspecified sum of money as long as he/she votes for me. Actually, 6 people just name something you need me to do and I will do it. Murder, robbery, and any other illicit crime I will do it...just put me in the Hall of Fame."

-Craig Calcaterra FJM-style rips apart Jon Heyman's excuse for a Hall of Fame ballot. For fear of repeating what he says, I will just hit some highlights. Read the entire thing though, I promise it is good.

To review, he had Robbie Alomar, Andrew Dawson, Barry Larkin, Dave Parker, Jack Morris and Don Mattingly. Many people took issue with this ballot, myself included. It's a pretty awful one all things considered. Parker? Morris? Mattingly?

I am pretty sure Heyman just pulled names out of a hat. He's the guy who voted for David Segui and Kevin Appier probably. Both of them got one vote...unbelievable. All things considered, I take issue with half of his ballot. Serious issue with half his ballot.

My three favorite parts of Calcaterra's takedown (Heyman in red and Calcaterra's in black):

1. My contention regarding Blyleven is that almost no one viewed him as a Hall of Famer during his playing career, and that is borne out by the 17 percent of the vote he received in his first year of eligibility in 1998, followed by 14 percent the next year.

Yet he is a fan of Morris, who got 22.9% of the vote in his first year and 19.6% of the vote in his second. And he spent a paragraph talking about how his mind is changing on Tim Raines, who got 24.3% in his first year of eligibility, but not Heyman's vote. And Don Mattingly, who was last seen hovering at around 16%, and also did not previously get Heyman's vote. And Dave Parker, who continues to get way less than 20% of the vote (and who has a drug history unmatched in the game, which Heyman says should disqualify McGwire).

2. After going on and on about how Blyleven never showed greatness as opposed to the ability to merely compile stats, Heyman says:

Some will say that Blyleven's career was equal to Hall of Famer Don Sutton's but I say it is just short of Sutton's. They both had big totals in other categories but Sutton wound up with 37 more victories, going over the magic 300 mark by 24.

Got that? Stat compilers suck, unless of course they compile long enough to reach some arbitrary number like 300.

This "compiler" argument is pretty much the crux of the argument against Blyleven, along with wins, which are stupid anyway. The anti-argument that can beat the "compiler" argument is exactly what Calcaterra wrote here.

3. Heyman would, and often does, point to winning percentage as a key factor, noting that while his supporters often cite the fact that Blyleven pitched for bad teams, his career winning percentage -- .534 -- wasn't that much better than the teams on which he pitched: .496. What he leaves out is that the difference between Morris' career winning percentage -- .577 -- and the teams on which he pitched -- .547 -- is actually less than Blyleven's. In other words, Blyleven outpitched his teams at a better clip than the supposedly dominant Morris did.

This is a very unfortunate statistic for Jon Heyman. It knocks his "winning percentage" argument against Bert out of the water. The bottom line is that I would have more respect for the anti-Blyleven crowd if they could provide a cogent argument that actually made sense. It hasn't happened yet. Every time they compare guys like Jack Morris or Don Sutton to Blyleven, it just shows the stupidity of the argument because it is based on team statistics like wins and arbitrary numbers like 300 wins that Blyleven never hit. I am open to hearing a reason that can't be fairly rebutted as to why Blyleven should not be in the Hall of Fame.

-Bill Conlin also seems to struggle with the Hall of Fame voting process. I hate to give you guys homework, but I am not going to comment on this. Just read this short takedown of Bill Conlin. This is my biggest problem with the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame voting process. It's so arbitrary and it's arbitrary because the voters make it arbitrary.

Bill Conlin has a self-imposed "I vote for 6 guys rule." That's idiocy. Pure and simple idiocy. What if there are 7 deserving players to be voted for? Why only put 6 players on the ballot when you can put 10 on the ballot? I love baseball and I love the Hall of Fame. I hate the debates, which are only going to get worse as the Steroid Era players start to trickle on the ballot, and I don't mind if someone disagrees with me on who should be a Hall of Fame player. Voting for the Hall of Fame is a serious task (in the realm of sports) and a person voting like he has always voted or refusing to accept new statistical data that should cause him to re-think his position is not acceptable.

The voters need to take this seriously and not make the process more difficult than it needs to be. If a player is deserving, vote for them, but don't vote for a player or not vote for a player because you don't have an open mind. These voters don't have to buy into the statistical revolution or why once thought ideas may not be completely correct, but they also can't dismiss it simply because they refuse to listen to new arguments.


AJ said...

I of course have a ton of comments on the HoF, but none new from last year really...so I wont type it all out a gain. Alamor will get in next year, and I bet he gets over 90% of the vote...which is quite sad he didnt make it this year. Clearly this first ballot snub was from his spitting problem...and now all the voters will vote him in next year.

My one comment, and its more of a question for everyone, is this; do you think Bagwell gets in on his first ballot? Or, since he has never really been brought up a ton with PEDs, do voters want to wait and see for a few years on him? I mean to me he probably is a HoFer...but I'm curious to see if he gets voted in the next 10 years or so. I think people are thinking, maybe he did use, and they will keep him off their ballot awaiting word on him...and he will get voted in probably around the year 2020.

KentAllard said...

I was never a Braves fan, but it was impossible to root against Dale Murphy back in the day (Glenn Hubbard on the other hand: douchebag), and I wouldn’t mind it if he got in the Hall, but I wonder if he would get this close if he weren’t so universally liked. Someone like Dave Parker probably has a slight disadvantage, because he could be an asshole even when he wasn’t stoned. And I know everybody consciously realizes “counting” stats are over-rated, but at least subconsciously, they count against Murphy. Having 398 home runs instead of 400 shouldn’t make a difference, but it does.

Because Blyleven is so self-absorbed, I’ve mocked his candidacy, but I finally did a little home work on his career, and there is no reason to keep him out, unless you enjoy his bitterness. A hell of a pitcher, and if he had played for better teams and in better media markets, he would have sailed in. Imagine if he had spent his career with the Yankees. On the other hand, Charlie Leibrandt in the Hall of Fame would be awesome.

Bengoodfella said...

I don't know how Alomar didn't get in. I think Bagwell may have to sweat it out a few years while everyone figures out the PED business first. I don't know though, he was never directly implicated so he may make it first ballot or when he deserves to make it. It's a tough question because it depends on how the HoF will treat even suspected PED users.

Kent, I think Murphy being a nice guy has something to do with him being close. I don't think he deserves it personally, but he was my idol growing up, along with David Justice, so I wouldn't mind it from a fan perspective if he made it.

I think Blyleven makes it and I don't even think it is a question. I could give a damn about his win-loss record, I care about how he actually played and his peripheral numbers tell us that story. The bottom line is that there is no argument against his candidacy that wouldn't go for another pitcher in the HoF.

Charlie Liebrandt doesn't deserve shit. May he and his hittable pitches by Kirby Puckett rot in non HoF hell. I still have bad memories of that moment, which was also the moment I put a curse on Puckett.

Martin said...

You know who was a better DH then Martinez? Frank Thomas. Sure he played a bunch of games at first early in his career, but he was terrible.

Heyman is a terrible baseball writer, which he proves year after year. I'm puzzled regularly on why he's still employed in this capacity.

I really think without the Steroid Era numbers explosion, that McGriff would be a HoF'r. Middle of the road, but not floor level either. 7 years in a row with 30+ homers, 8 years in a row with an OPS+ of 130 or greater, with a total OPS+ of 134 and 493 home runs. He's got teh Sabremetric, counting stats, but the last half of his career ran smack into the Steroid Era.

I'm a big proponent of HoF by position, otherwise it would be nothing but outfielders and firstbasemen with 30 starting pitchers, or so it would seem. Larkin should be in as a SS. They need to quit judging SS's and others by the same offensive criteria of guys who lumber around in LF or 1b.

If Edgar had managed to play as much 3b as Frank Thomas did 1b, or if he became a DH cause of injury after injury like Molitor, he'd be in. Edgar wasn't either. He also wasn't a Yankee or a Red Sox, and I'm pretty sure that's the only reason Rice is in the HoF. If Rice was an Atlanta Brave all those years...he's not in. I think it's going to be 4-7 years for Edgar to get in.

Jeff Bagwell, poster child for players "Who Sure Seem to Have Done Steroids, but Were Never Asked By Congress". I'd bet cash money Bagwell used steroids. The way he got bigger (not just the size, but the way he "looked" like Sosa or Bonds in many ways)the weird steroidish type injuries near the end of his career, but I bet he makes it in because he never got called on the carpet or was ever mentioned in the Mitchell "Steroids and Yankees Who Used Them" report.

rich said...

Someone said yesterday (I think it was KentAllard), but arguments that "Player x is in the hall, so player y should be too" are stupid to a point. When you always compare eligible players to the worst player in the HOF, then you just end up just letting in a bunch of people who then set the bar even lower.

Just b/c Jim Rice is in the HOF doesn't mean that Dale Murphy should be, since in all likelihood, neither should be there.

Bengoodfella said...

Martin, I think Frank Thomas makes the HoF. He was a DH but I think he is also thought of as a 1B so he will get credit for playing there as well.

Heyman's ballot explanation was terrible. It was really, really bad.

I think McGriff is going to be seen as being "very good" rather than an elite player for some of the reasons you pointed out. I think he should make the HoF for that baseball commercial from the 90's he participated in, but that's just probably me who thinks that.

HoF by position is necessary so OF don't take up the entire Hall. I see no reason Barry Larkin didn't make it this year. I always had something against Larkin (not sure why) but that doesn't mean I can't be even handed enough to say he should be in the HoF, which he should be. His numbers speak very well for him.

For me, I want to say Edgar makes it and I don't want to have an East Coast Bias, but I just don't think he deserves to make it. Not only are his numbers not good enough, but I just don't think he was an elite baseball player. I see him making it eventually, like you do.

I just use Rice as the floor for the HoF because he is the latest person I was pretty not sure about to make it. I think his team affiliation may have helped him some. The same reason I think Smoltz will be elected to the HoF and I am not sure he should be.

My friend and I in college used to make a verbal list of players who used PEDs but weren't caught. Marcus Giles and Jeff Bagwell used to lead the list. I would bet a bag of money about him using as well. I think he will be clear of the steroid scandal since his name wasn't ever brought up, though I am sure he was a steroid user. Just look at pictures of him early in his career and towards the middle of his career. He looks different.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I responded to Kent's comment because I knew I was sort of writing about it today. I agree, Murphy shouldn't be in because Rice is in the HoF. Gregg Doyel is wrong about that, but letting borderline players like Rice in seems to open up proponents of other players who end up seeming like they have a point. I agree with Kent's argument and agree with you. I feel like Parker has a case also since Rice got in.

KentAllard said...

Your curse on Puckett seems to have worked. I was a Reds fan back in the day, so I have a soft spot for Larkin. I don't think Murphy deserves it, but it wouldn't be the biggest injustice. Phil Rizzuto got in because he had one great year and played for the Yankees. Dave Concepcion was a better SS than Rizzuto, but no one thinks he should be in.

As an addendum, if the voters want to apply the nebulous "terrified pitchers" standard, then Dave Parker has a case. When he was sber and cared about the game (not often enough for either) he was a pretty intimidating hitter.

I dunno, if I were the master of the Hall of Fame, I might through a third of the players out (in any sport) and everybody would bitch about how few players I let in.

I think baseball may be a sport where ardent fans actually know more about the game than the guys that cover it. The sportswriter gets to smooze with the players, but the true fan who has read Bill James and the other great analytical statisticians knows the leadoff hitter who bats .280 and walks 15 times per 600 ABs and gets thrown out 40% of the time trying to steal is a terrible drag on the team. The sportswriter will write about his "intangibles", which are mostly "nonexistents".

I've talked too much about a sport I don't really understand any more.

Bengoodfella said...

I feel like HoF talk goes around in circles Kent. I put a curse on Kirby Puckett and Jim Leyritz, among other athletes, so I have decent results...and I am a horrible person.

Joe Morgan thinks Phil Rizzuto should be in the HoF, but of course Joe Morgan thinks the entire Big Red Machine should be in the HoF. Dave Parker was a scary hitter for pitchers so he would easily fall under the "scared" addendum.

I think one of the problems with the HoF is that there are so many different ways to measure players now, as you mentioned, some of the old players don't meet the standards anymore and it is just so hard to compare players from generation to generation. We can't even figure out how to compare players from the 80's to the 90's in regard to hitting.

I would agree with your assessment the fans seem to know more than the writers who cover it and I think that is a result of the different ways, like you said, both parties talk about the players. Many of the voters haven't exactly warmed to the statistical revolution and leaving some players out is a protest of sorts I think. I think what you say is right, that the voters sort of lag behind in some ways.