Saturday, July 5, 2014

2 comments As Previously Threatened, I Write About Jon Heyman's Hall of Fame Ballot

When I wrote this post I mentioned that Jon Heyman's entire 2014 Hall of Fame ballot may someday be worthy of discussing on this blog. That day has come. I covered part of what Heyman wrote in that post, but didn't go through his entire ballot and highlight some of the inane reasons he voted or didn't vote for certain players. Of course, it's tough to get past the logic he used about why he wouldn't vote for Barry Bonds and other guys tied to PED's...yet. It seems he doesn't consider these guys worthy of Hall of Fame induction until the ballot starts to get light, at which point integrity goes out the window and he will vote for players linked to PED's.

Next year, I will reconsider them all. But I'm not close to being ready to squeeze a clean guy off the ballot so I can put a steroid guy onto the ballot, as it appears many others are. The result is a ballot I can be proud of (even if it's a ballot sure to draw internet ridicule). Admittedly, mine is not a ballot with the 10 most accomplished, or even, quite likely, the 10 best players.

They still count. At least they do here.

All of these things count until it is slow year for the Hall of Fame and then Jon is glad to open the doors to PED users. Integrity only lasts so long it seems.

So, without further ado, here are my honest, honorable, deserving 10 players.

Just wait for a slow year non-honest, non-honorable players. Your day will come just as soon as there are less qualified candidates.

2. Frank Thomas
His OPS is 14th best ever, behind 13 all-time greats. His stand against PEDs gets bonus points. Not much of a defensive player, but who cares?

You do, Jon. You do. Jon doesn't vote for Edgar Martinez and puts him 12th on this list, saying this about Martinez...

12. Edgar Martinez
Not sure why he gets so much more support than Mattingly. He has far more walks and strikeouts. He does have about a hundred more homers (309-222), but does that make up for Mattingly having greater impact (four top-10 MVP finishes, including a win, compared to two)?

The fact Martinez was a better hitter than Mattingly? Yes, that does have something to do with why Martinez gets more support than Mattingly. Also, Martinez was a clean player in the middle of the Steroid Era that Jon Heyman rails against in this column for being dishonorable. So that could explain the lack of top-10 MVP finishes since this is comparable to Martinez's peers, some of whom are linked to PED's.

And what about being an all-time great defender vs. a DH? No discrimination against DHs here. I just think that if a player is to get in on hitting alone, he needs more than great percentages (Martinez obviously has those with a .312//418/.515 slash line). 

Heyman voted for Thomas basically based on offensive alone and his slash line is .301/.419/.555. So apparently needing more than great percentages and playing bad defense is good enough to get Thomas in the Hall of Fame, but having great percentages and playing no defense isn't enough to get Edgar Martinez into the Hall of Fame. As always with some of these Hall of Fame voters, defense doesn't count until they want it to count.

Martinez doesn't have the big career totals, the big MVP support or the huge moments, but he was such a good hitter that it's still a close call.

Except it's not a close enough call for Martinez to be considered as he is 12th on Heyman's ballot while Frank Thomas is 2nd. Who cares about defense though? Doesn't matter, right?

4. Jack Morris
It's a shame he apparently isn't going to make it in year 15. The ace of three World Series winners (who was always picked to start Game 1s, Game 1 of the season, Game 1 of the playoffs) lasted eight innings in an amazing 52 percent of his starts over a 14-year stretch, as Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated first noted.

As I've stated repeatedly, whether a pitcher was chosen to start Game 1 can depend on various other factors (the strength of other pitchers on the staff, days of rest between that pitcher's last start) outside of just "This is Team A's best pitcher so he starts Game 1." If Morris had pitched in Game 7 of the ALCS then he couldn't have started Game 1 of the World Series. 

The ones surest he isn't a Hall of Famer almost uniformly seem to be the ones who covered zero games during Morris' prime (if not zero ever) and instead rely on their own analysis of numbers of a career they barely noticed. The career 3.90 ERA doesn't tell the tale of his impact.

This doesn't make of sense. Here's the thing, if I have to look beyond a player's numbers and make up shit to describe why he should be in the Hall of Fame, then that player probably doesn't deserve induction. I don't have to look beyond Maddux and Glavine's numbers and start pulling out arbitrary "Game 1 starts" or "He was super-clutch" mentions. Their candidacy speaks for itself. They are Hall of Famers. Jack Morris is not.

5. Tim Raines
Not being Rickey Henderson is no crime. Neither is playing your best years in Montreal. But it surely hurts him that his best years came hidden in Montreal while he was only a very good player later in Chicago and New York.

And we all know the media would NEVER overrate a player simply because he played in New York. Never. Plus, why should Heyman worry about Raines being hidden in Montreal? The ones surest he isn't a Hall of Famer almost uniformly seem to be the ones who covered zero games during Raines prime and instead rely on their own analysis of numbers of a career in Montreal they barely noticed. The numbers don't tell the impact.

6. Curt Schilling
Gets it on impact -- big years, bigger games, plenty of drama.

DRAMA! Who helped Jon Heyman write the best game story with the cleanest narrative? That's who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

7. Don Mattingly
One of the best players in the game over a five-year period when he was also quite likely the biggest name (it is called the Hall of Fame, after all).

Absolutely, I see no reason why a player shouldn't get stronger consideration for the Hall of Fame because he's a big name. The bigger the name, the more consideration that player should get. Brilliant, brilliant statement.

8. Fred McGriff
It's amazing he never got the publicity he deserved

Well, if he's not a big name then he doesn't deserve Hall of Fame induction. It's that simple.

but this clean slugger should get extra points for trying to outslug juiced-up competitors on an unequal playing field. Seven extra home runs might change the equation (he finished with 493), just as a few more wins might have done the same for Tommy John and Jim Kaat.

McGriff should get extra points for not being linked to PED's and Heyman gives him those extra points. I can imagine that Heyman's thought about McGriff needing seven more home runs to make the Hall of Fame isn't just something growing from his brain, but is a line of thought other voters share. So other voters may think if McGriff had just stuck around long enough to hit .145 for a season and hit seven home runs he's all of a sudden a Hall of Famer? If true, that's typical Hall of Fame voter line of thinking.

10. Craig Biggio

A credit to Heyman for not lazily lumping Biggio in with the other suspected PED users.

The Near Misses

11. Mike Mussina
Won 270 games and kept an admirable 3.68 ERA without steroids smack dab in the middle of the steroid era. Also did it in the AL East. He's hampered by near misses (2001 World Series, no-hit bids, short of 300 wins)
If only Mussina had been super-clutch in the postseason and had a bunch of hyperbolic stories surrounding him then he could be considered worthy of Hall of Fame induction. Mussina only has a 7-8 career record (in 21 starts) with 3.42 ERA and 1.103 WHIP in the postseason, which you can see is clearly far inferior to Jack Morris and his 7-4 record (in 13 starts) with a 3.80 ERA and 1.245 WHIP in the postseason. Mussina can't match up to the postseason record of Morris at all. He's just not the postseason pitcher that Morris was.

Let me go back to Edgar Martinez for a second...

12. Edgar Martinez

And what about being an all-time great defender vs. a DH? No discrimination against DHs here. I just think that if a player is to get in on hitting alone, he needs more than great percentages (Martinez obviously has those with a .312//418/.515 slash line).

Actually, that is pretty much the definition of discrimination if Martinez has to do something better than another player in order to be considered on the same level as that other player. For example, if I said, "I'm not discriminating against Asian-Americans but if I'm going to hire an Asian-American then he/she needs to be a lot smarter than most of the employees I hire."

The very idea there can only be an even playing field if one person proves to be superior to another person in order to receive the same consideration seems to be the very definition of discrimination, no? I'm not discriminating against women, but if a woman expects to eat at my restaurant she's going to have to pay more for her meal.

13. Jeff Kent
The fact that he has the most home runs for a second baseman doesn't quite make the case -- at least not for me.

If only he was more of a "name" player (or if Scott Boras told Jon Heyman to support Jeff Kent), then and only then could Heyman feel good supporting Kent for the Hall of Fame.

Terrific hitter, but a below-average second baseman and just not a Hall of Famer.

Yeah, but remember Frank Thomas? Who cares about defense?

This is what I was talking about when I wrote defense doesn't matter until the Hall of Fame voter decides it matters. Defense is used a justification to keep a player that voter doesn't want to vote for out and will be ignored when that voter wants to vote for a certain player.

14. Lee Smith
Amazingly consistent closer who retired as the all-time saves leader. Specialists need to be really special, though, so not sure he gets there.

Sorry Lee Smith, you aren't special. Maybe Smith should have clutchily closed out some playoff games and that could have gotten him Jon Heyman's Hall of Fame vote.

15. Larry Walker
Terrific talent whose numbers were greatly enhanced by Coors Field. He had some great years, but they were dramatically skewed. I've seen very fine baseball scholars like Joe Posnanski make the case that he's deserving while mentioning comparisons to other hitters who also fared far better at home. But there are no exact comparisons to the pre-humidor Coors, which was a joke...Deferred ... for now.

Is pre-humidor Coors Field going to all of a sudden no longer be a factor in 3-5 years? Will Larry Walker go back in time and hit some home runs post-humidor Coors that will convince Jon Heyman he should be in the Hall of Fame? I think it's ridiculous that Heyman uses a reason that won't change for why Larry Walker should not be in the Hall of Fame, then indicates he could change his mind about Walker's candidacy.

16. Mike Piazza
Piazza, Jeff Bagwell and Sammy Sosa are three of the hardest cases. But sorry, withholding a vote, which is being done here in these three cases, isn't the same as convicting someone without evidence. And it certainly isn't McCarthyism, as a couple overwrought bloggers would have you believe.

Of course not, calling a baseball player a steroid user without any evidence to back your claim isn't at all like calling a politician a Communist without any evidence to back up your claim. They are totally different.

In these three cases, I look at it as simply deferring a vote (a bit easier to do here where I believe there are at least 10 surely clean players who are also deserving based on merit).

I have to say this "deferring my vote" thing is probably one of the dumbest ideas I've ever seen put to paper/computer. Why should a baseball player's Hall of Fame candidacy depend upon whether there are enough candidates considered "clean" on the ballot? If Mike Piazza is good enough to get in now, then he should be placed on Heyman's ballot over one of the 10 "clean" players. I'm okay with a writer justifying he won't vote for PED users due to integrity and all of that other morality bullshit, but don't just drop this integrity once the ballot isn't as backlogged.

It isn't being assumed here that just because Piazza and Bagwell admitted taking Andro and issued quotes while playing that weren't necessarily negative about steroids/steroid takers that that's any sort of proof that they partook.

Whoa, they issued quotes that weren't necessarily negative about steroids/steroid takers. That definitely means Piazza and Bagwell used steroids, I mean obviously. Not that Jon Heyman is looking for reasons to leave Piazza/Bagwell off the ballot or anything.

17. Jeff Bagwell
He's not as obviously worthy on career accomplishments as Piazza, the most productive offensive catcher in history, but as an MVP, Rookie of the Year and a terrific first baseman with a career .408 on-base percentage and .540 slugging percentage, he is worthy. It isn't fair to go over the reasons for suspicions here in either case.

It's isn't fair to go over the reasons for suspicion here, but it's completely fair to use these reasons as a way of leaving Bagwell off Jon Heyman's ballot.

"Sir, it's not fair to go over the reasons we are arresting you right now. Once you are in prison then we can talk about why you are being arrested."

Whoops, there I go again comparing PED users and the suspicion around them to due process or a court of law. That's not something that is allowed.

And like Piazza, he will be considered again in a year.

I'm fine with it if Bagwell is reconsidered on his merits, but if the reason that Heyman votes for Bagwell is "Well, he's a cheater but there aren't a lot of qualified candidates on the ballot so I may as well vote for him" then I am not fine with Heyman giving Bagwell his vote.

18. Sammy Sosa
Not sure why it is, but the same folks who claim McCarthyism in the cases of Piazza/Bagwell don't offer the same enthusiastic accusations on behalf of Sosa, whose on-field credentials are also Fame worthy.

Because Sosa failed a drug test according to the Mitchell Report and also got busted playing with a corked bat. Piazza/Bagwell never were reported to have their names on the Mitchell Report. I'm not sure if Jon Heyman is dense or just willfully stupid.

And in reality, there is no proof in his case either, not unless you think a weak performance before Congress is proof (I don't) or the use of a corked bat is determinative (it shouldn't be). As with Piazza and Bagwell, up for reconsideration next year.

But Sosa's name was in the Mitchell Report. That is the difference in Sosa and Piazza/Bagwell. This can't just be ignored.

Great But Tainted

19. Barry Bonds

Somehow, a ballot without an all-time great is very dissatisfying. The narrative that he didn't partake until he saw McGwire and others shooting past him is believable. Also, he's better than Clemens in that he didn't drag his trainer down with him

This is a dick move by Clemens, but also irrelevant as it pertains to whether he should be in the Hall of Fame or not.

Hall of Extremely Good

23. Luis Gonzalez
Had some big numbers and a very big moment. Nice career, but not quite.

If Jon wants to suspect a player of PED use, how about that 57 home run season that came out of Gonzalez's ass right in the middle of the Steroid Era? This season was not suspicious at all I guess.

25. Hideo Nomo
Trendsetting pitcher could have a case -- though not quite here.

See, this is the part where a superior writer would point out why he thinks Nomo has a case. Alas, Jon Heyman prefers to move on and allow the reader to guess why Nomo could have a case. Nothing to see here, we move on.

Made a greater impact than most realize.

Thanks for telling me exactly how much of an impact Nomo had that I didn't realize. I didn't realize I didn't realize Nomo's impact.

34. Todd Jones
Racked up a lot more saves (319) than you think

I thought he racked up 321 this is awkward.

36. Eric Gagne
Had perhaps greatest year ever for a reliever, though George Mitchell uncovered the precise reason for that.

Is that the precise reason for that? I know Gagne had a fantastic year for a reliever and was later found to have used PED's, but are we to say he wouldn't have had a really good year anyway? I don't know, maybe he would have blown saves and lost his job as closer without steroids. 

The good news is we get to read Jon Heyman's ballot again next year. Maybe some of the deferred candidates will all of a sudden not lack the integrity and character they lacked this year and Jon will vote for them.


Anonymous said...

I think what bothers me more than anything is how Heyman thinks he knows who's "clean" and who's "dirty." The truth is, we don't know. How do I know that Frank Thomas never used anything? How do I know that Mike Piazza did?

I also love the separate paragraphs for "Integrity. Sportsmanship. Character." Could you be a little more over-the-top, Jon? We're talking about baseball players here, not who was the best pope. As if Jon Heyman is the proper man to determine these qualities in people anyways. This business of sportswriters acting as judge, jury and executioner just sickens me, it really does.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, because of bacne of course! Murray Chass saw bacne, which means Piazza used PED's. Also, no one has accused Thomas of using PED's so obviously he is innocent while Piazza is obviously guilty.

I think these sportswriters love being able to make it all about morality. It feels good to stand in judgment of others and their actions. I guess I shouldn't try to take this moral superiority away from them.