Wednesday, December 29, 2010

13 comments Oh Dan Shaughnessy, Even When You Aren't Irritating You Still Are

It has been pointed out to me a few times that I don't focus on Dan Shaughnessy quite as much as I possible should. Apparently, there is an entire blog dedicated to Shaughnessy's writings, so it makes me feel good to know someone is watching him. That takes dedication. I need a Shaughnessy fix in my life, so today, Dan reveals his Hall of Fame ballot which (spoiler alert) isn't incredibly terrible, but then he insists on typing more after he's listed who he voted for to make the Hall of Fame. That's when it gets somewhat dicey for me.

The Hall of Fame ballot goes in the mail today with check marks next to the names of Bert Blyleven, Roberto Alomar, and Jack Morris.

Kind of a light ballot, no? I'm all about exclusivity in choosing who makes the Hall of Fame, but with Tim Raines, Barry Larkin, Alan Trammell, and Jeff Bagwell on the ballot I think a three person ballot is kind of light.

At least Shaughnessy doesn't vote for Jack Morris over Bert Blyleven. I'm pretty sure I have covered this before, but Blyleven is superior to Morris in nearly every aspect...but if Blyleven is considered a borderline candidate (as it seems he is based on the previous year's voting), then Jack Morris should be a solid "no" to be in the Hall of Fame.

Here's a fun exercise that shows how far from being a Hall of Fame pitcher Jack Morris truly was.

We won’t know who’s in until January, but this year’s ballot has some new challenges because the Steroid Boys are stepping forward in large numbers.

We've already voted the "Greenies" and "Spitball" Boys into the Hall of Fame without an apparent concern so there are occasions when I fail to see the reason Steroid Boys shouldn't get a hard look at entrance too.

The Hall has a problem and it’s going to get worse every year.

Some voters don't vote using a consistent criteria for selection to the Hall of Fame?

Baseball scribes are asked to weigh off-the-field stuff such as “character’’ and “contributions to the game,’’ and this clause puts us in the uncomfortable position of measuring moral fiber.

This clause is not new. It's been in place since the Hall of Fame has been in place. Ty Cobb must have been seen as a great guy because seems to have passed the "character" and "contributions to the game" criteria with flying colors. Also, I'm not sure these are specific off-the-field questions discussed in the clause, but they are more questions dealing with how the player played the game of baseball, especially the whole "contributions to the game" thing. Some of the older guys may not hold up too well looking at the "character" issue. If Babe Ruth played in 2010, there's a good chance he is a really horny, more American and more talented Matt Stairs.

(dodges things thrown at him by Yankees fans due to my cheap joke)

I'm not saying Ruth doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, he absolutely does considering he is one of the greatest hitters of all-time, but in 2010 if Babe Ruth repeated his off-the-field antics from the 1920's of visiting whore houses and just generally being a screw-up (off the field) I wonder if the "morality clause" Dan Shaughnessy just mentioned would be widely discussed? He should be in the Hall of Fame, but the lack of media coverage and hush-hush relationship between players and writers in the early days of baseball is more preferable to Ruth's legacy than it would be today. Today his antics would cause him to be great tabloid fodder.

As far as being Matt Stairs, Ruth didn't play against elite competition since minorities weren't allowed to play and he was by all accounts slightly overweight. It's just funny to think of him as a more talented Matt Stairs is basically what I am saying.

Is this what fans want? I’m not so sure. Writers never have been able to vote for Pete Rose because baseball put the Gamblin’ Man on its permanently ineligible list, but I’m pretty sure the fans want him in there.

Yeah, but the Hall of Fame isn't for fans. It's for writers who want to show that they will not pay attention to new statistical ways to analyze players and so writers can take out long-held grudges against players or help get a player they like an elite honor.

Last year Andre Dawson was the only player voted in by the scribes. Dawson was a fine player but a tad boring.

I'm surprised the writers ignored the "super-exciting public speaker" clause for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame by voting in Andre Dawson. No, the writers had to go and base his election on his baseball prowess. Assholes.

Future induction ceremonies are going to be awkward when nice players are enshrined while folks such as Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds perhaps remain on the outside looking in.

As opposed to the lack of awkwardness in a Hall of Fame speech by a well-known or suspected steroid user? That won't be awkward at all.

I also like how Dan Shaughnessy seems to assume steroid users aren't nice people. If you have been in any way linked to steroids you are not only a cheater but also a person who is beyond redemption in all facets of your life.

Where is the line as we cherrypick our way through the proven cheaters and guys who merely look suspicious?

That's my point. You can't. Voters have to make a decision one way or another.

I’ve been a Blyleven guy for years (just as I stayed with a deserving Luis Tiant right up until he was tossed from contention after 15 years). Blyleven ranks fifth on the all-time strikeout list and he pitched in an era when it was tougher to strike guys out than it is today. He pitched for a lot of bad teams, but he still won 287 games and compiled an ERA of 3.31. He threw 60 shutouts and had 16 seasons of 200 innings. He pitched well in the postseason and won two World Series. He’s in.

I don't jump for joy when seeing all of the criteria Dan used to back up Blyleven's Hall of Fame admittance, but I also can't argue with the result he comes to. Blyleven should be in the Hall of Fame and anyone who argues differently is a moron...or a zealot.

I was going to cover the Jon Heyman screed against Blyleven but Rich Lederer did it much better than I probably would have so follow that link, read, and enjoy.

Alomar also should be enshrined. He missed by only eight votes in his first year of eligibility and should go over the top this time. His exclusion was kind of a joke (maybe it was that spitting at the umpire episode). He was a switch-hitting second baseman, a career .300 hitter with 210 homers, 10 Gold Gloves, and 12 consecutive All-Star appearances.

Alomar should be in. Let's just stop with the "All-Star appearances" criteria forever please. It may mean a player was good during his time or it may mean he was popular during his time.

Morris is a tougher vote. He’s not going to make it. His 3.90 ERA is high.

That and most of his candidacy is based on first hand accounts that are MUCH more accurate than statistics. We all know the human memory is flawless when events are recalled over time. For example, I thought John Smoltz pitched 9 innings in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series until a few years ago. It turns out my memory ain't so good and I wouldn't doubt if the memory of sportswriters don't become somewhat embellished over time as well.

The silly stat shut-ins don’t like him.

Like Shaughnessy's colleague, Peter Abraham?

Morris is more of a “you had to be there’’ candidate.

Or what I call a "bullshit" candidate. Those who support can dream up all this wonderful bullshit that they remember Morris doing that supports his candidacy, rather than basing it on the statistics he accumulated.

I was at the 1991 World Series when he won Game 7, 1-0, in 10 innings.

Holy shit! No way! I watched that game on television. Based on that game, Jack Morris should be in the Hall of Fame? What about Gene Larkin? That fly ball to win the game was so clutch. He should be in the Hall of Fame too.

Anecdotal evidence is the food that feeds the Jack Morris candidacy...well, that and cherry picking statistics that are supposed to mean something. My favorite Morris-related statistical related argument is, "but Jack Morris was the winningest pitcher in the 1980's! That means something!"

So the period of 1978-1988 doesn't mean as much as the period of 1980-1989? I would love to see reasoning for why one ten year period is more important and meaningful than another.

"Brandon Webb should be in the Hall of Fame! He led the majors in wins during the period of 2007-2008!"

Curt Schilling fans should promote Morris. It will help the Big Lug when he makes it to the ballot.

Because the entire goal of Jack Morris's candidacy should be to ensure another pitcher eventually gets in the Hall of Fame. Lower the bar so a pitcher that Dan Shaughnessy wants to vote for gets in the Hall of Fame!

Now let’s get to the folks who won’t get votes on this ballot.
Start with McGwire, who hit 583 homers, but never has gotten 25 percent of the vote. Big Mac finally ’fessed up to using performance-enhancers after years of “not talking about the past’’, but it won’t be enough to boost his candidacy. He’s viewed as a one-skill guy who enhanced that skill with banned substances.
McGwire is viewed this way not universally...but by Dan Shaughnessy. I do like the idea of using one's own personal opinion as if it were the opinion of a large group of others.

"Cole Hamels isn't a good pitcher. He's viewed as a guy who is just good enough to win games but not good enough to win games against good teams."

This brings us to Palmeiro. He’d be a lock if he hadn’t wagged his finger at Congress, said, “I have never taken steroids,’’ then tested positive. Palmeiro’s never going to recover from that.

As we will find out in the case of Jeff Bagwell, the fact Palmeiro got caught lying doesn't really affect Shaughnessy's point of view at all. The mere suspicion of wrongdoing on Palmeiro's part would have caused Shaughnessy to not vote for Palmeiro. So Palmeiro just had to be linked to steroids in some fashion, or even suspected, and then Dan takes him off this Hall of Fame ballot.

Fred McGriff is another story. He hit 493 homers. There’s no hint of cheating. But he goes down as another less-than-dynamic talent who owes much of his résumé to longevity.

Well, that and his career OPS of 0.886 and his OPS+ of 134. Here I thought longevity and continued excellence was criteria that helped players be seen as the best in their field over a period of time. I guess not.

"The only reason McGriff got to 493 home runs is because he performed at a high level for an extended period of time. If he hadn't hit 20+ home runs in 15 of his 19 seasons he wouldn't even be seen as a viable Hall of Fame candidate."

McGriff is a mere .284 career hitter.

Mickey Mantle is a mere .298 career hitter.

Jim Thome is a .278 career hitter and has played for 20 seasons now. Is that going to be held against him? Were does the line between great hitter over a long period of time and "statistics accumulator" begin?

McGriff also had a career .377 on-base percentage and a career .509 slugging percentage. I'm not saying he should be in, but to discount his candidacy because he had a long career where he played well for most of the time isn't fair. A long productive career could be a sign a player was among the best players of his generation. Isn't longevity part of the Hall of Fame decision process?

I’m also just saying no to Larry Walker, Kevin Brown, Barry Larkin, Alan Trammell, and Edgar Martinez (Career DH Edgar’s got a particularly vocal lobby of folks who’ve never been out of the house).

The whole joke about bloggers "never being out of the house" or being shut-ins is not even funny now. It just sounds bitter. Edgar Martinez should not be in the Hall of Fame. I haven't been outside in nearly three years and I believe Martinez should not be in the Hall of Fame.

It's better we don't get the reasoning for these omissions from Dan...mostly likely they would just irritate me. If Barry Larkin played for the Mets, Braves, Yankees, or Red Sox he would be in the Hall of Fame. I don't doubt this is true. Unfortunately, he played in Cincinnati and doesn't get the credit he deserves.

Finally, what do we do with Jeff Bagwell? He’s a career .297 hitter with 449 homers. He was an MVP. He won a Gold Glove. He had six straight seasons of 30 homers, 100 RBIs, and 100 runs.

(Using Shaughnessy logic) Yeah, but Bagwell did all of that over 15 seasons. He had six straight seasons of 30 home runs, 100 RBIs and 100 runs because he played more than six straight seasons. If he had played only 4 seasons in the majors, he never could have done this.

But like a lot of players who will follow him to the ballot, he was a guy who made you wonder.

So Palmeiro lies about using steroids, tests positive and he is out of the Hall of Fame. Bagwell never tests positive, but he makes you "wonder," and he is out of the Hall of Fame. I think every player who played from the mid-90's to the mid-2000's makes us wonder. Speculation isn't fact.

If you care about “character,’’ snubbing guys who tested positive (Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, and Manny Ramirez) is easy.

What happens to Sammy Sosa, Pudge Rodriguez, and other players who made you raise your eyebrows?

I'm pretty sure Sosa tested positive for a PED and was caught using a corked bat. He should be up there with Palmeiro, Rodriguez and Ramirez. As far as Pudge Rodriguez goes, he played in the majors too long for Dan Shaughnessy. He was great over a long period of time, so he just accumulated those statistics. Induction will be denied.

Voting for the Hall of Fame is a great honor. Too bad it’s become almost impossible to stay consistent.

It's really not. Here's a quick guidebook to staying consistent:

1. Decide upon guidelines for judging whether players should make the Hall of Fame or not.

2. Decide if you will let accused/suspected PED users in the Hall of Fame. If you will not vote for accused/suspected PED users, take their names off your own personal ballot.

3. Compare your guidelines to viable candidates while staying consistent to your guidelines (I'm talking to you Jon Heyman).

4. Use your criteria to vote for candidates.

5. If you still are having trouble figuring out who should be in the Hall of Fame, wait for Jon Hey man to release his ballot and then vote for all the players he didn't vote for. That should ensure a fair and accurate selection process on your part.

I’d better put extra stamps on the envelope. The ballot gets heavier every year.

I notice that Dan Shaughnessy didn't really back up his voting for Jack Morris other than saying, "you had to be there." That seems to be the entire basis for his Hall of Fame candidacy. What's funny is that there are even people who were "there" who still don't vote for Jack Morris.


ivn said...

you know, McGriff is a tough one. I always liked the guy, he was really good for about 15 years, and he was a great postseason hitter (I don't hold poor playoff numbers against players but I do think good playoff numbers should count for guys, if that makes sense). but then again he was at best the third best first baseman of his era (Frank Thomas and Bagwell were both quite a bit better, off the top of my head).

I also think Larkin belongs in. his only contemporaries at shortstop who compare to him are Ripken and maybe Alan Trammell.

(Career DH Edgar’s got a particularly vocal lobby of folks who’ve never been out of the house).

you mean people from Washington? oh, fuck you Dan.

I can't say I understand the argument that DHs should be left out of the Hall of Fame. for fuck's sake they've been a big part of baseball for almost 40 years now.

Pat said...

Looks like Bagwell is going to become the new Blyleven for us "shutins".

Matthew Cleary said...

I always thought there should have been more groundswell for Albert Belle. He did put up Ralph Kiner style numbers. It isn't right that Bagswell is getting the McGwire/Palmiero treatment. Do you think Bonds/Clemens/etc have a shot? I would like to see McGriff in. If he hits 7 more homers he is probably in.

Bengoodfella said...

Ivn, I don't think McGriff should be in the Hall of Fame either. He wasn't good enough. I just enjoyed Shaughnessy's reasoning because McGriff was great for a long period of time, which is part of the major criteria to be in the HoF.

I don't like Larkin at all, but he should be in. As far as Edgar Martinez goes, I don't think he should be in the HoF. Not because he was a DH but because I just don't think he was good enough.

Pat, I feel 30% sure Bagwell used PEDs. His minor league numbers weren't even close to his MLB numbers, but my suspicions shouldn't keep him out. I think it is dumb how sportswriters have chosen to become the judge and jury when it comes to steroid users. It is not enough to judge players who we know used PEDs, but they also want to judge those they suspect to have used PEDs. Does this mean Piazza won't get voted in? I doubt that. Their moral reasoning won't continue with him.

Matthew, I don't think Clemens or Bonds will get in on their first try. It's craziness b/c if we took out their PED years they probably still have good enough numbers to make the HoF. Maybe they will get in, but I doubt it will happen first try.

I'm not an Albert Belle guy and I don't think McGriff should be in. I would like him to be in, definitely, especially if some other guys are in. For me, it isn't just McGriff's home runs but his run of sustained excellence. I think he is in the Hall of Very Good Though.

rich said...

The thing with Bagwell is how can you keep him out? I can see keeping McGwire out because you have actual proof he did PEDs and without those years where he was on PEDs, he'd just be another above average slugger. Same goes for Sosa. Bonds and Arod were HOFers even without the PEDs though.

Getting back to Bagwell, the ultimate question becomes how do you judge these kinds of players? What happens when Ivan Rodriquez becomes eligible? I'm pretty confident that he was on PEDs, but at the same time I don't see how you can punish a guy for something he might have done.

As for his minor league numbers, his BA and OBP were always pretty good. His OPS really jumped his last year in the minors, but considering his BA and OBP, it wouldn't be unthinkable for him to put on some extra muscle, considering he was 23 his rookie season.

As an 18 year old he hit over .300, had an OBP over .380 and OPSed over .800.

As a 24 year old, second year pro, he OPSed .812 (.814 his rookie year). The next year it jumped over .900. It's not like he OPSed 0.800 in the minors and then started having .950 type seasons. Is the big jump between 24 and 25 suspicious? A little, but I wouldn't necessarily use it to justify him not being in the HOF.

The thing that really pisses me off about the HOF voting is that some players get in solely because they have a good storyline, while much more deserving players are held out because they didn't have that one "defining" moment. Case in point, the only thing anyone talks about with Jack Morris is game 7. That's not a HOFer, but Blylevan is out despite his superior statistics. It'd be like putting Aaron Boone in the HOF because he hit a HR in the ALCS.

McGriff I wouldn't necessarily vote for, but considering who has been inducted the last decade, is probably in.

Barry Larkin though? To me, Larkin typifies that guy who was consistently above average for a lot of years. Was he ever really great? I'd say no. He was just above average for 15 years. So then of course the question becomes how does longevity play a role, but IMO he was never a "great" player.

rich said...


(sorry for the double post). Can you really hold it against a particular player that he happened to play in an era with two other really awesome players?

Switching sports, in 10-15 years, are we having this discussion about Drew Brees (assuming he continues putting up ridiculous numbers) because he played in an era with Manning and Brady?

It's one thing to be the third best first baseman behind say Rico Brogna and Carlos Delgado or something, but being the third best first baseman behind two (likely) HOFers isn't a bad way to be remembered.

Fred Trigger said...

I'm on my phone(so forgive the crappy quality of this comment), but that part about Dan and schilling... maybe I misread what you were saying but Dan was ripping schilling and not advocating him for the HOF. I had an email exchange with Dan and he admits that he was awesome but he didn't like him.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I don't think I-Rod will be held to the same standard that Bagwell is held to. PEDs are only seen as helping players hit more homeruns by many sportswriters. They will vote I-Rod in I think. There is no standard. They see Bagwell's numbers jump in terms of HR from the minors and see that he was a slugger in the Steroid Era and judge accordingly.

I don't think McGriff should be in, though I would like it, but given the shortstop position, I think Larkin was a HoF.

Fred, maybe I misunderstood that. I thought he wanted Schilling in the HoF. I would NEVER misunderstand something, but I guess it is a possibility.

Pat said...

I think the real question that has to be answered is how will we view PED use 15 years from now? I think the current voters judgment is clouded by a nasty combination of closeness to the initial scandal and a sanctimonious feeling of self worth. Ideally, the so called "cold, indifferent stat geeks" who are so often mocked are the ideal voters because their judgments are based on empirical evidence and are on the whole less emotionally invested with particular candidates.

Bengoodfella said...

Pat, great point. Time and distance have a way of cooling down some of the arguments and making people think rationally. I believe in 15 years we will see many of the PED users in the HoF and guys who were suspected of it (i.e. Bagwell) will be in as well.

I think in 15 years people are going to take a look at the players and think, "half of the great hitters from an entire era aren't represented in the Hall of Fame."

What I think the impetus for this will be is when a hitter that is inferior to a guy like Bagwell gets really close or elected to the Hall of Fame. All of a sudden the arguments will be made based on, "ok, we suspect this guy and we are going to elect guys into the HoF, so why elect inferior candidates?"

Really, there is an entire generation under a cloud and guys have to get elected to the HoF. Imagine if a guy like Omar Vizquel makes it and Bagwell is left out based on suspicions? It just doesn't seem right to me.

Martin said...

Also, with the numbers that came up from the Steroid Era, it warps the numbers of players who didn't put up insane numbers. Without the Steroid Era, McGriff might be given more consideration for the HoF. Larkin played shortstop, and is pretty much as good an offensive shortstop as had played the game through that time. Arod is better, Ripken was more dramatic, Garciaparra and Jeter have had better seasons, but when compared to all the other guys who played the position the last 100 years, he's a Top 5 guy offensively. Sadly, Trammell is hurt even more, and has about 90% as strong a case as Larkin.

To me it comes down to this...they played shortstop. Maybe 2 other guys on the team could play the position. If Jeff Bagwell could have played shortstop they would have played him there. He couldn't, so when considered against all the other guys who have been capable of playing the position, I think both Larkin and Trammell should be in.

Bengoodfella said...

Martin, I don't like Larkin and I am somewhat torn on Trammell, but I think they should both be in.

If McGriff played throughout the 80's I think he makes the HoF. I don't doubt it. His numbers look normal because of the era he played in.

Matthew Cleary said...

Rock Raines should be in.