Friday, February 17, 2012

6 comments Look! It's Jon Heyman's Hall of Fame Ballot

While waiting for Spring Training to begin and for the MLB season to begin, I thought it would be fun to enjoy the annual tradition of looking at Jon Heyman's Hall of Fame ballot. Heyman has made the switch from to Nothing else has changed though. He is still considered Scott Boras mouthpiece, is a little bit douchey on his Twitter account, he blocks fellow MLB sportswriters on Twitter for no apparent reason, and he isn't always persuasive when defending his Hall of Fame votes.

At this point, we all know Barry Larkin was the only candidate to receive enough votes for induction in the Hall of Fame, but it is always fun to read Heyman's reasoning for his Hall of Fame vote. Heyman is one of the many writers who sets out a standard for voting concerning suspected/proven steroid users to pretend he is open-mined and then ignores this standard.

The ballots we get now contain not only the usual many borderline cases but also great and near-great players with a variety of steroid taints attached to their names. Some may have failed a test, others pleaded the Fifth when under oath, other may have been accused in a book.

I will admit voting for or not voting for suspected/proven steroid users is a tough decision to make. As I have written in a previous post, there are about five ways I can see a Hall of Fame voter considering suspected/proven steroid users. It appears Jon Heyman uses Method #4, but his ballot is pretty much straight Method #3, which means he doesn't vote for suspected steroid users at all.

Others still may only possess the taint of whispers (though some whispers are louder than others).

And because the rumor is louder, this means there is more validity to the rumor.

In navigating this ridiculous morass, I consider two things: 1) This isn't a court of law, so the standard needn't be "beyond a shadow of a doubt," or even "a preponderance of evidence," as steroid associations are judged. No one is getting convicted of anything here, and no one is going to jail. The Hall of Fame is a privilege, not a right.

Translation: Jon Heyman can accuse Player X of using steroids, but not Player Y, even if there is no evidence for either to have used steroids. That's how I translate it at least.

2) the steroid taint doesn't automatically eliminate anyone from my ballot. It's all a judgment call, and if in my judgment I still believe a player would have fashioned a Hall of Fame career without his artificial help, I reserve the right to vote for him.

Translation: I am very open-minded about considering suspected/proven steroid users, I just won't vote for any of them.
If someone else wants to automatically vote no on all the players with taint,

If you judge players on who has taint and who doesn't, there would be zero members of the Hall of Fame because they are all males.

The biggest thing I look for is impact. That means impact on the game, and on the games.

"Impact," huh? Is voting for a player based on "memorable moments" just not vague enough?

While I do look closely at the numbers, and I certainly consider them all, some numbers seem more meaningful than others.

Translation: Numbers will be used when Jon Heyman wants to support a player who gets his vote and ignored if the numbers don't support another player who gets his vote. Really, the relevancy of the player's numbers depends completely on whether Jon Heyman thinks this player deserves to be in the Hall of Fame or not.

In any case, it's not the Hall of Numbers, the Hall of Stats or the Hall of Sabremetrics.

It also isn't the Hall of Impact, Hall of He Made 10 All-Star Teams or the Hall of I Have a Really Good Memory About This One Time When Jack Morris Pitched Well in a Big Game.

Also, it is spelled Sabermetrics, not "Sabremetrics."

The game is played by people, and the judges are people too, not computers. Until that changes, I'll consider somewhat murkier criteria than only the hard stats.

Translation: If I want a player in the Hall of Fame, I will vote for him statistics be damned.

Jon Heyman pays attention to hard stats, but wants us to know this won't be the final judge because the game is played by people, since statistics don't tell the whole story. He doesn't have the same policy when it comes to voting based on impact. Even though the game isn't played by a person's memory, it is obvious he won't second guess his memory of a player's impact, yet will second guess what hard statistics say.

Without further ado, here's this year's scorecard.

1. Jack Morris: Sadly, it looks like that unsightly 3.90 ERA is going to continue to haunt him.

I hate it when a player's statistics don't support a player's Hall of Fame candidacy. Jon Heyman has made up his mind, dammit, about Jack Morris getting in the Hall of Fame. It's just sad reality doesn't match Heyman's perception of Morris's talent. But wait, what about Morris's impact on the game! Jon Heyman just knew creating an undefinable and vague definition for why a player should be in the Hall of Fame would pay off!

This guy is one who's much better if you were around to witness it. The back of his baseball card just doesn't do him any justice.

Your memory of how great Jack Morris pitched does him too much justice.

This guy is one who's much better if you were around to witness it. The back of his baseball card just doesn't do him any justice.

The whole "you should have been there, it was so awesome" defense for Jack Morris absolutely stinks. It is the basis used for electing a player into the Hall of Fame who isn't on par with other pitchers statistically, but he had some unseen impact on the game that probably wasn't actually there.

The Hall of Fame is for the best of the best. So 70 years from now when Jack Morris is in the Hall of Fame (which he will be voted in next year), people are going to visit the Hall of Fame or look at Jack Morris's stats and say, "How the hell did he get voted in the Hall of Fame?" That's one of the big problems with a "you had to be there" vote for Jack Morris. If Morris is a Hall of Fame pitcher based solely on some imaginary impact he had while watching him pitch then his candidacy won't stand the test of time once everyone who had seen him pitch dies.

Maybe we should vote Jack Morris into the Hall of Fame-Visual Aid Wing. This would be for players who weren't really Hall of Famers but the sportswriters who voted him in have fond memories of eating boneless chicken wings and sucking down a Diet Coke in the press box while watching this guy pitch.
Morris had great games,

I didn't know he had great games. That completely changes my mind.

great seasons (seven times he received Cy Young votes) and a great decade.

Blah, blah, blah. This is all pretty irrelevant to me. What was the highest Morris ranked in the Cy Young voting? 3rd. He was never even considered the second best pitcher in a given year, much less one of the greatest pitchers of all-time. I'm not all about using Cy Young votes to determine whether a player should be in the Hall of Fame, but if Heyman brings up how many times Morris got votes it is important to know where Morris placed overall as well.

He was the ace of three different World Series-winning teams and he started 14 Opening Days. Some will argue that's a meaningless statistic, and while it certainly does depend on circumstance, the only others who've started as many are Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Randy Johnson, Walter Johnson and Cy Young, a quintet of all-time greats.

It is a meaningless arbitrarily-chosen statistic. It doesn't matter to me what other pitchers share this honor.

Morris shouldn't make it. He just wasn't one of the best pitchers of all-time, no matter how much Heyman wants to reach for ties to other Hall of Fame pitchers or talk about Morris's impact outside of his statistics. He was really good and that should be good enough.

2. Barry Larkin: He's a 12-time All-Star. That's twelve times.

OMFG! He won a popularity contest 12-times? He'll definitely be voted Homecoming King!

Larkin deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. His candidacy should not be started off with a listing of his All-Star appearances.

3. Tim Raines: One issue is, he seemed to have had two careers -- one in which he was a superstar for seven years; the other when he was just a good player for a very long time.

Much like Jack Morris's two careers. One in which you look at his statistics and see he isn't a Hall of Fame pitcher; the other in Jon Heyman's mind where Jack Morris was one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history.

While I don't tend to favor compilers,

Two players into his ballot and Heyman is already contradicting himself. He doesn't favor compilers? Really?

About Morris:

he started 14 Opening Days.

About Larkin:

He's a 12-time All-Star.

he was a seven-time All-Star and did finish in the top 20 in MVP balloting seven times.

So tell me how Barry Larkin's twelve appearances in the All-Star Game is the first thing Heyman mentions for his candidacy, yet he says Raines is a compiler for making seven All-Star Games. Then he quotes Raines' finishing in the Top 20 of the MVP ballot seven times, just after he didn't call Jack Morris a compiler for making the Cy Young ballot seven times. I realize Raines had a 23 year career, but he barely played four of those years. Morris pitched consistently for 17 seasons, so you could also call him a "compiler" and possibly have a good point.

4. Don Mattingly: Some will argue this is geographic bias. But if anything, it's greatness bias. I like players who were great for a little while a lot more than those who were merely very good forever.

And yet, you vote for Jack Morris. A pitcher who was never really great, but was really good for a long time. This makes not of sense.

He didn't last forever because of a bad back I suspect was earned twisting his 185-pound body into a power hitter.

Dr. Jon Heyman, chiropractor.

5. Dale Murphy: He was great for a while (two straight MVPs), but is also known as one of the greatest guys to ever play the game.

If he was a nice guy then absolutely elect him to the Hall of Fame. It is the Hall of Fame for really nice guys, isn't it?

His refusal to take a day off (not to mention his clean living) may have led to a steeper, quicker decline.

What? So Dale Murphy's clean living caused him to have a shorter career? Does this mean he could have extended his career if he had done lines of coke off a hooker's ass?

But he still represented a whole era of Braves baseball.

This is irrelevant. He was my childhood hero, but he shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame.

6. Fred McGriff: I feel a little guilty about this one. He's 26th in both home runs and RBI, a consistent and pure power hitter. He didn't quite make 500 home runs; he had 493. But that shouldn't be the barometer. He ranked among the top five in OPS for seven years. Not bad.

Those are statistics. What about McGriff's impact? What was the Crime Dog's impact, besides having an absolutely awesome nickname?
It's not really fair, but his Q rating is low

I wasn't aware the Hall of Fame shouldn't consider statistics as much as they consider a player's Q rating.

and his totals aren't flattered by the steroid set.

So let me get this straight. Jon Heyman won't vote for a player who used steroids, but he will compare a (presumably) clean player to the numbers the players on steroids put up? How in the hell is this fair? If you discount the steroid players' numbers, then you have to discount their numbers when comparing them to (presumably) clean players. It isn't fair to not vote for a player because he put up great numbers, then discount another player's candidacy because he didn't put up as great of statistical totals as a steroid user did.

7. Jeff Bagwell: The percentages (.540 slugging, .408 on-base) are worthy, and that he won only one Gold Glove

Shows that the Gold Glove is an award that shouldn't be used to base a player's Hall of Fame candidacy upon?

Isn't relevant?

Is nitpicking him?

and one MVP may have been a matter of timing and the era

He only won one MVP? He appeared in the top 10 of the MVP voting six times. The MVP is the hitter equivalent of the Cy Young (in many cases). So receiving Cy Young votes seven times is enough to get Jack Morris in the Hall of Fame, but being in the Top 10 of the MVP and actually winning an MVP puts Jeff Bagwell out of the Hall of Fame in Jon Heyman's mind.

Also gets points for uniqueness; not many huge first basemen could run like him (202 stolen bases, 100 runs in eight seasons). Still thinking about it.

Here's really why Jon Heyman is not voting for Jeff Bagwell. He is tied circumstantially to steroids. Jon Heyman doesn't bring this up of course because it is stupid to leave a player out of the Hall of Fame without proof he used PEDs, so Heyman pretends to base it on Bagwell's numbers. If Bagwell doesn't get in the Hall of Fame and Don Mattingly does, I am going to punch a kitten.

8. Bernie Williams: Tremendous hitter who benefited by being in the right place at the right time. He is first all-time in postseason RBI and second in home runs. A lot of hardware, and some unreal moments. Very close.

As I showed previously, Williams statistics aren't that different from Mattingly. I would go with neither player deserving the Hall of Fame.

10. Alan Trammell: You probably had to be there to even understand why he's close to worthy.

No, you don't have to be there. Trammel has a good case for the Hall of Fame.

11. Edgar Martinez: Maybe this is a little low as a reaction to the campaign on his behalf, but I don't think so. His percentages were great (.515 slugging and .418 on-base) and I'm not going to hold it against him that he was the fourth-best player on a team that never reached the World Series

By saying "I'm not going to hold it against him that he was the fourth-best player on a team that never reached the World Series," Jon Heyman is holding this against him. Who doesn't matter if he was the fourth best player on a team that never reached the World Series? The other players on that team who were better than Martinez are Randy Johnson (a pitcher, nonetheless), Alex Rodriguez, and Ken Griffey Jr...all Hall of Fame players.

13. Larry Walker: Terrific talent whose .565 slugging percentage is 13th all-time and who won seven Gold Gloves and stole 230 bases. On the numbers, a case could be made. Feels like Coors helped a little too much, though.

Coors helped a little too much? How about a lot?

Walker's career road/home splits:

Home: .348/.431/.637, 215 home runs in 3429 at-bats.
Road: .278/.370/.495, 168 home runs in 3478 at-bats.

That's a pretty severe difference. Walker goes from a really good hitter to a historically great hitter depending on whether he is playing at home or on the road over his career.

15. Javy Lopez: His .491 slugging percentage for a catcher ain't bad.

I am showing it is 3rd all-time among catchers. That is very, very good...not just "ain't bad."

22. Terry Mulholland: Did start an All-Star Game, and you can't take that away from him, either.

I think this helps speak to the irrelevance of a pitcher not only (a) making an All-Star team, (b) starting an All-Star Game, but also (c) the irrelevance of how many opening days a pitcher started. None of these random facts really prove too much about how good a pitcher was during his career.

I think we can all agree Tom Glavine is a Hall of Fame pitcher. How many opening days did he start during his career? Four. That's it. So does this reflect poorly on him? Not at all. So the fact Jack Morris pitched 14 opening days doesn't reflect positively on him.

24. Tony Womack:
Had huge hit to help the Diamondbacks win the 2001 World Series. But I'm going to guess the .317 on-base percentage and .356 slugging percentage work against him.

25. Eric Young Sr.: A better player than Womack.

So why did Heyman rank Young below Womack if Young was a better player?

Now, let's review Heyman's statement on players accused/found to use PEDs:

1) This isn't a court of law, so the standard needn't be "beyond a shadow of a doubt," or even "a preponderance of evidence," as steroid associations are judged. No one is getting convicted of anything here, and no one is going to jail. The Hall of Fame is a privilege, not a right. And 2) the steroid taint doesn't automatically eliminate anyone from my ballot. It's all a judgment call, and if in my judgment I still believe a player would have fashioned a Hall of Fame career without his artificial help, I reserve the right to vote for him.

26. Mark McGwire: On accomplishment alone, he would be the top guy on my ballot. Just can't do it. The 70 home runs were a mirage.

Jon Heyman has a right to vote for whomever he sees fit to vote for. Are we assuming Mark McGwire used PEDs his entire career? If so, don't vote for him. Otherwise, check out his career statistics. He was an incredible hitter from 1987-1992. Then he was fantastic from 1995-1997. Maybe he did use PEDs, but I think McGwire is a hitter who could have made the Hall of Fame regardless of his use of PEDs during the late 90's and I don't believe he used PEDs over his entire career. Maybe I'm wrong.

McGwire admits to using PEDs, but he is somewhat vague about how often he used during his career. It seems he used them on and off during the 90's and briefly at the end of the 80's. Would he have made the Hall of Fame if he had not used PEDs? It's nearly impossible to say, but I think a case can be made he would be in the Hall of Fame if he had never taken PEDs. Therefore, Heyman should consider McGwire more seriously rather than focus on his one season of 70 home runs to dispute his candidacy.

27. Rafael Palmeiro: I will never vote for him, period. I don't know how to say it more clearly than that. Never.

In actuality, it doesn't seem Jon Heyman is too open-minded about voting for players suspected/proven to use PEDs. I would think a discussion of how Palmeiro's statistics were affected by his use of PEDs would be justified in this case, at least according to Heyman's own rules, but I guess this isn't happening. Again, Heyman can vote for whomever he would like to vote for, but I would like to see some justification for Heyman's refusal to ever vote for Palmeiro other than his mere statement that he won't vote for Palmeiro.

Maybe if Scott Boras called and told Jon Heyman to vote for Rafael Palmeiro he would do so.


Justin Zeth said...

I think "Crime Dog" is probably the greatest nickname of the last 40 years. I'd say 50, but that would overlap Dick "Dr. Strangeglove" Stuart and we can't have that.

Murray said...

Dr. Jon Heyman, chiropractor.

That one had me in stitches

Murray said...

I always hate those tragic stories of how clean living ruined promising careers

Anonymous said...

This is such a horrible HOF column. So many holes and contradictions. Heyman is the worst. At least Murray Chass defiantly ignores the numbers and doesn't even pretend to care. Heyman pretends to care, perhaps because he doesn't want to sound like an outdated neanderthal like Chass or Joe Morgan. But Heyman clearly doesn't care either and he comes off like a disingenuous prick. There's no other way to explain ranking Mattingly or Morris or Murphy so high over guys like Trammell and Edgar and especially Bagwell. Heyman obviously doesn't give a shit about the numbers, and like you implied, his mind is already made up before looking at any numbers or research. For him it's just a matter of finding any numbers to help or hurt the HOF case of a player after the fact. Like Opening Day starts. Who gives a flying fuck? How can anybody take that stat seriously as a sign of greatness? Does he really think Morris was as good as Walter Johnson??

I think Heyman's numerical rankings stopped after #20. Once he got to the so-called "ballot busters" he simply listed them in alphabetical order. That would explain Womack listed ahead of Young.

Heyman flat out lies when he says "the steroid taint doesn't automatically eliminate anyone from my ballot" since he then lists McGwire and Palmeiro on a DQ'd list. If he was being sincere, he would subjectively determine where to place his perception of a clean McGwire and clean Palmeiro into his rankings. For example, maybe he thinks clean McGwire was just a little better than Edgar. But he doesn't even bother to do that. He just DQ's them automatically, which he said he wouldn't do. Yet I promise you he won't DQ Andy Pettitte, an admitted HGH user, in a few years. He has tweeted that Pettitte is right on the borderline and he may even vote for him.

Now here's that Player A / Player B game:

Pitcher A: 2451 IP, ERA- 89, FIP- 91, 1.26 WHIP, 5.39 K/9, 1.63 BB/9, 1.20 HR/9

Pitcher B: 3824 IP, ERA- 95, FIP- 97, 1.30 WHIP, 5.83 K/9, 3.27 BB/9, 0.92 HR/9

Pitcher A, by rate stats, was a more effective pitcher than Pitcher B. Better ERA, better FIP far fewer walks, better WHIP. Pitcher B was still an above average pitcher who compiled 1400 more innings than Pitcher A, but he clearly is not a great pitcher.

Pitcher A is Radke, who Heyman ranks 19th. Pitcher B is Morris, who Heyman ranks 1st, ahead of dudes like Bagwell, Larkin, Edgar, Raines, etc.

I'm not saying that Radke had more career value than Morris. Those extra 1400 innings do make a difference. But the difference in their career value does not warrant that wide a ranking disparity. And if Radke was not great, which Heyman readily accepts, then neither was Morris. Not very close, either. As you said, Morris is the exact definition of the good but not great compiler that Heyman should theoretically never vote for if he is looking for greatness.

But Jon Heyman is a fucking douchebag moron, so logic and objectivity don't factor into any of this.

Naliamegod said...

I always hate it when sportswriters talk about the 90s Mariner teams and talk about how underachieved with the "big three." Of course, if they actually bothered to look at the 90s Mariners teams, the big three were never really together except for one year (1997). Alex was a prospect in 95; Johnson was injured in 96; 97 they were together; and then in 98 Johnson was traded halfway through.

Bengoodfella said...

Justin, I agree. What is interesting is Chris Berman gave him that name. It's like the one interesting and notable thing he did. I'm pretty sure that's where it came from. Still, players today just don't have such good nicknames I don't think. Dr. Strangeglove is probably better.

Murray, it is always sad to hear about players who stayed healthy and were able to play everyday. Then this causes their career to be shorter than a player who didn't take as good care of himself. I like how Heyman essentially used Murphy's clean living as a negative. Wouldn't that mean he was actually able to play longer than other players?

Apparently Don Mattingly underwent some controversial treatment that transformed his body into a power hitter. I am getting a Marvel Comics vibe from this.

Anon, I do think he has made his decision before he writes the column. He uses evidence one way or another to further prove the way he wants to vote. Bagwell should be in if you aren't ignoring him b/c of steroid suspicions. I think indifference is almost as bad as pretending to care about statistics, but at least it isn't as disingenuous. We know where Murray Chass stands. I like how Heyman was like "Opening day starts may mean absolutely nothing, but I'm going to use it anyway as if it does."

Again, Glavine had 4 career opening day starts. I didn't even look up another player b/c it was such a dumb stat.

I didn't even notice the alphabetical order. That's even worse then b/c Bagwell is lumped in with Tony Womack.

If Heyman votes for Pettitte, that is pure hypocrisy. He needs to look at Palmeiro/McGwire's career stats and figure out where they stand and then DQ them. He pretends to be unbiased against PED users, but then automatically DQ's these guys? How does that make sense?

That's funny you looked at Brad Radke. I looked at him too, but didn't go in-depth like you did b/c I didn't want this to turn into a "bash Jack Morris" post even more than it already is!

That's a great comparison and shows to me Morris was a really good pitcher who compiled those numbers after being in baseball for a few more years. I like comparisons like that. Showing a player who is not considered a HoF player and how much worse he looks compared to a guy who may be in the HoF one day. From what you showed me, there isn't enough to say Morris should be in. He beats Radke across the board, but his FIP/WHIP/ERA just aren't good enough for me. Morris just wasn't a dominant pitcher.

Logic only plays a role if it helps support one of Heyman's candidates. Otherwise, it's out the window.

Naliamegod, I wouldn't say those Mariners teams ever underachieved. I never thought they did. Still, you did bring up a good point. It's that '97 team he is talking about, but that was just one year. Also, I don't know how being the fourth best player on a team that didn't win the World Series is relevant. This is basically a random stat thrown in there to discount Edgar's candidacy, just like "opening day starts" was used to support Morris' candidacy.