Monday, March 16, 2015

1 comments Hey! It's Jon Heyman's 2015 Hall of Fame Ballot!

Completely tired of the 2015 Hall of Fame ballot discussion? Good! Me too! Now here is Jon Heyman's 2015 Hall of Fame ballot. I threatened to cover Heyman's ballot individually last year, and figured I wouldn't threaten this year. I would just do it. Jon Heyman is probably a decent guy, but every year he seems to know who was clean and wasn't clean, then sort of claims he will vote for PED users at some point, but just not this year. Mostly, Heyman uses the logic that these steroid guys will get his vote when the ballot gets lighter, which of course makes no sense. If Bonds/Clemens/etc are Hall of Fame-worthy on a light ballot then they should be eligible on a more loaded ballot. A Hall of Fame candidate should be judged on his qualifications, not based on who else is on the ballot in a given year. Last year Heyman said this:

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.

Like last year, integrity counts until the ballot gets lighter. After that, fuck integrity, let's allow the PED guys into the Hall of Fame. 

Here is Heyman's ballot and I do give him some credit for at least breaking down his vote so that everyone who reads what he writes knows who he voted for/didn't vote for and why.

This year's Hall of Fame ballot is maybe the most interesting, debate-evoking and controversial in history, if it's not the most star-packed in decades, and it may be that as well.

It's a packed ballot, so that means PED users are not welcome to receive votes.

Many ballots -- and very likely a majority of ballots -- will be impacted by thoughts of steroid evidence, accusations and even supposition. Many -- and once again, likely most -- voters won't include the "best" (or at least most-accomplished) players on their ballots, with the result being that the lists of great players left off individual ballots may in fact be even better than those included on some ballots.

And that is a shame.

It's a shame that Heyman willingly participates in.

Whatever, this is a whine-free zone.

The writers who did a poor job of investigating steroid usage through the so-called "steroid era" of the late 1980s through 2001 (which is just about everyone, and includes yours truly) probably deserve to have this dilemma on our hands.

Hey! Some self-awareness. Now if only Jon Heyman wouldn't sound like such a lap dog for Scott Boras at times and agree with me on every baseball-related issue then I could like him a lot more.

More to the point, steroid users and abusers still don't deserve admission to Cooperstown. Or at least that is the way I still look at it.

Until the ballot gets lighter of course. Then these steroid users may get a shot from Heyman (no pun intended...ah fuck it, pun intended).

And I reserve the option to change my mind in subsequent years.

I'm not kidding about this. I didn't just make this up. Heyman is going to change his mind when the ballot gets lighter. This makes just no sense to me. I don't understand why Bonds is not good enough on a loaded ballot, but all of a sudden on a lighter ballot his accomplishments look better. Each candidate should be judged on his individual merit, not based on who else is on the ballot.

For today anyway, I'm not comfortable bestowing baseball's highest honor on guys who helped themselves to more accolades, trophies, All-Star appearances, MVPs, and as colleague Cliff Floyd -- a pragmatist and himself a first-time candidate harboring no illusion of making it -- points out, more moolah.

Yes, they did make more money by using PED's. I don't know if that should be a part of the consideration on whether these PED users should be in the Hall of Fame or not.

While a majority of voters see it the same way -- Rafael Palmeiro already is off the ballot for failing to gain five percent of the vote, Mark McGwire is no threat anytime soon, and Bonds and Roger Clemens, shoo-ins based on all-time accomplishments, received only about a third of the vote last year -- there is a very vocal group of fans, followers, bloggers, stat guys and others who prefer to disregard the steroid link.

I'm not sure what "followers" are and how they are different from "fans." Maybe followers are people who follow baseball players around the country and are often called "groupies." So groupies are very vocal about their favorite baseball player getting in the Hall of Fame. And as always, bloggers and stat guys ruin absolutely everything.

Such a stance might make life easier, except for a couple obvious problems.

One issue: Who is culpable, and how culpable?

Great point and rather than answer these questions head-on, Jon Heyman would prefer to just assume some players did or did not use steroids. Since no one knows who is culpable and how culpable they are, it's easier to just base his vote on assumptions and rumors.

That smoke usually came from unusually bad testimony or soft-on-steroid quotes to oddly inflated bodies and statistics

I don't completely understand how a player can have "oddly inflated statistics." Like what, that baseball player shouldn't be as good as he is at baseball? Is this mutually exclusive from having an "oddly inflated body"? Maybe Jeff Bagwell's body isn't oddly inflated, but his statistics are oddly inflated, so he obviously used steroids. What about Dustin Pedroia? His body isn't oddly inflated, but would Jon consider his statistics to be oddly inflated because he doesn't look like he should be as good at baseball as he is? It lacks sense to me how a player can have oddly inflated statistics independent of an oddly inflated body.

(and for one or two over-eager voters, the presence of back acne; this is also an acne-free zone, by the way, as that is no sort of evidence of PED use, as there are many causes of acne).

See, this shows that Jon Heyman does know how to use logic and isn't always over-eager to suspect a player of using PED's. Except, guess what? He still thinks Mike Piazza is "under review" for PED use. Obviously understanding logic and actually using logic are two separate things.

Some played it straight and performed admirably through the steroid era with normal-sized muscles and normal-sized heads, and they deserve extra consideration for competing successfully on an artificially imbalanced playing field. It's consideration they're not necessarily getting. Mussina, Raines and McGriff have yet to crack 50 percent, with only Raines coming close.

Nothing like Hall of Fame voters dismissing the statistics of those who are suspected of using or used steroids and then holding clean players to the standard set by suspected and proven steroids users.

So here are the major queries that come up (my analysis iof the 17 new players on old ballot, and 17 returning players, comes further down) ...

2. How do you know how much steroids and other PEDs helped since there's no way to quantify it?

That's true, and why I assume some stat guys don't want to deal with the issue at all,

"Stat guys" don't want to deal with this because it's almost impossible to accurately assess the impact of steroids on an individual's performance. Players age differently and steroids would have a different impact on every player who used them. So there's no way to quantify it, so "stats guys" don't deal with the issue at all because there is no accurate way to deal with the issue.

3. How can you be against steroid guys when steroids weren't explicitly disallowed until 2002?

While steroids weren't talked about or written about (a great regret) throughout the 1990s, it was understood using them was cheating. Otherwise, guys wouldn't have lied about it, stonewalled the subject the few times it came up or taken a defensive stance about its usage, and even Andro.

So Jon Heyman is against steroid guys because everyone knew it was cheating and guys lied about using them. So because enough players didn't take steroids for it to be understood that steroids were acceptable, Jon Heyman is against steroid users in the Hall of Fame. Which brings up the next question...

4. How can you be so against steroids yet give the greenie-takers of the 1950s and '60s a pass?

That's an easy one. 

Is it though? Why is it that "stats guys" are expected to quantify how steroids helped players perform during the Steroid Era, but those who want to ignore "greenie" use in the 50's and 60's aren't expected to quantify how using these drugs didn't help these players perform at a higher level?

Greenies were pervasive throughout the sport, are not muscle builders (sluggers of the era resembled normal folks) and they were so out in the open that it was understood the use was widespread.

Yeah, that just got written. So "greenies" were okay because they didn't build muscle, which doesn't mean they didn't enhance performance, and because EVERYONE used them it was understood that everyone was cheating. So Jon Heyman would have had zero problem with the Steroid Era if every MLB player had been using steroids. Because the widespread use of steroids is just fine and doesn't diminish the game of baseball, but when only a few select players are using steroids it leaves a black mark on the game. This sounds to me like a crappy excuse to not indict current Hall of Famers for cheating due to "greenie" use. The whole "everyone was doing it!" excuse has to be among the worst reasons for any behavior to be acceptable. Though I do find it interesting that Jon Heyman thinks the use of steroids during the Steroid Era wasn't prevalent enough.

7. How can you punish guys even if you aren't 100 percent sure they did steroids?

Toughest question of all.

It wouldn't be a tough question at all if steroid use was just more widespread during the Steroid Era. If everyone was using them and the use of steroids was seen as an unspoken acceptable thing to do, then Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens would have the red carpet rolled out to them so they could enter the Hall of Fame. But, the issue is that the Steroid Era didn't have enough steroid use, otherwise it would have been fine to cheat.

It's true if someone has failed a test, been convicted of a crime related to steroids, appeared in the Mitchell Report without suing MLB (no one has sued yet) or confessed, it's easier to exclude them. And I don't consider back acne, a corked bat, poor or evasive responses to Congressional questions or even a sudden inability to speak English as proof positive.

Jon Heyman is vaguely referring to Rafael Palmeiro, Mike Piazza, and Sammy Sosa here. What do they all have in common? Jon Heyman has not voted for any of these three players to enter the Hall of Fame due to suspicion of steroid use. I mean, what?

So Heyman is all like, "I don't consider bacne, a corked bat or poor responses to Congressional questions as proof positive" of PED use, then doesn't vote for these players due to suspicion of PED use. It's hard for me to wrap my head around this. Then where does his suspicion of Piazza and Sosa come from if not from bacne, poor or evasive responses to Congressional questions or a sudden inability to speak English? Or this part of the "oddly inflated bodies and statistics" that Heyman was talking about? If so, "oddly inflated bodies and statistics" is just another way of creating the same suspicion that Heyman rejects in the paragraph above. He's just taking six of one from the half dozen of the other that bacne or a sudden inability to speak English represent. He's coming off as open-minded, but holding these players to the same standard he rejects, just using different words to get there.

There are fair reasons to be suspicious in some cases, from quotes supportive of steroid guys to physiological changes so extreme they're tough to ignore to other issues that paint a fuller picture.

Heyman relies on more concrete evidence like quotes that can be taken several ways or if a player seems to be getting bigger than he should be getting. He ignores evidence like evasive responses to Congress. Because there's a huge difference in evasive answers to Congress and quotes supportive of steroid guys. One is lying to a Congressional investigation and the other is misleading a sportswriter. Obviously misleading a sportswriter is the more important transgression to focus on.

Why is it OK to presume Sammy Sosa's involvement but not Mike Piazza's or Jeff Bagwell's? None of the three has been proven to have taken steroids by any evidentiary measure.

I don't know that it is right to assume involvement by all three, but Sosa was at least on the leaked report in 2009. There's a little more smoke to go with his fire.

8. How can the steroid guys be excluded considering the Hall is a museum, where the intent is documentation of all baseball history, good and bad?

Sorry, that makes no sense to me. The steroid guys can still be documented throughout the Hall without being inducted. Induction into the Hall is an honor. To say it's just a museum seems like nothing more than a way to avoid the elephant in the room. In other words, a copout.

No, what's a copout is calling the Hall of Fame not a museum and saying these guys can be documented throughout the Hall without being inducted.

(Museum Employee) "Here you see a video showing the race between McGwire and Sammy Sosa to break Roger Maris' record. Both players ended up breaking the record. They are both two of the best home run hitters in MLB history."

(Visitor) "Oh, are they in the Hall of Fame? Can I see their plaques?"

(Museum Employee) "No, they aren't inducted. We have documented all of their great achievements here in the Hall of Fame though."

(Visitor) "If they had so many great achievements then why aren't they in the Hall of Fame."

(Museum Employee) "Well, they have not been elected into the Hall of Fame as of yet because they linked to have used steroids. They disgraced the game by cheating, so they have not been inducted yet. The Hall of Fame voters don't want to reward these players for cheating. We can not celebrate them because of this."

(Visitor) "But you have an entire exhibit about their home run chase. Isn't that rewarding them for cheating too? Isn't this celebrating them?"

(Museum Employee) "I don't know. Ask Jon Heyman. He seems to think it's fine to celebrate the achievements of great players but not induct them into the Hall of Fame. Here he comes. I think he's at the Scott Boras exhibit again. In fact, don't call it a museum to his face. He gets angry."

OK, so without further delay, here's my ballot ...

The Ballot

1. Pedro Martinez: At his best, nobody was better. Used extreme athleticism, a gifted arm and amazing smarts to overcome tiny stature and make an extreme mark.

Considering Martinez's tiny stature, I would say he probably had over inflated statistics, didn't he? How could such a small guy pitch with such power? Obviously a PED user under the "over inflated statistics" reasoning.

2. Randy Johnson: While there aren't many statistical things I would call automatic Hall qualifiers, four straight Cy Youngs (and five overall) might be an exception. A dominating force once he harnessed his incredible talent.

From ages 35-38 his ERA never went above 2.64. That encompasses 1999-2002, which is right in the middle of the Steroid Era. Had an ERA+ of 125 at the age of 43. I would say that's pretty tough to ignore. Clearly a steroid user.

3. John Smoltz: In different seasons he was the best starter and the best reliever.

Recovered from two major arm surgeries to come back and throw just as hard as he did before. I would say that's a red flag for PED use.

4. Tim Raines: Sabermetrics guys were first to point out he belonged, and did so convincingly. I am a convert. The .385 on-base percentage, 808 steals 

He used all that cocaine, which obviously helped him steal all those bases. 

5. Curt Schilling: Impact counts here, and bloody sock or not, he was the key man in two championships and important in a third.

Curt Schilling as a rookie.  

Curt Schilling later in his career.  

Wow, quite the physiological change there. Throw in an ERA that never went past 3.26 from 2001-2004 when Schilling was 34-37 years old and that's pretty suspicious. Probably used steroids.

6. Fred McGriff: His OPS was 50 points higher than obvious Hall of Famer Eddie Murray, would have 500 home runs if not for the 1994 strike (he has 493) and was quietly brilliant in the postseason (.917 OPS, even better than his .886 regular-season mark). His consistent ledger and quiet persona probably work against him, as do inflated numbers of steroid guys around him.

While it's annoying that McGriff is measured against PED users but considered clean, look at how McGriff's hat fit him early in his career. It looks a little big on him at the top and around the edges. Compare to how his hat fit later in his career. It's almost like the hat barely fits around the side of his head. His head grew! An obvious sign of PED use.

7. Craig Biggio: This is a tough one because he's more of a complier, 

What Heyman said about Raines before voting for him:

even if he was only great his first seven or so seasons, and very good thereafter.

So if a player is great for seven seasons, and then only very good after that, then that's a sign he may not deserve Hall of Fame induction. If a player is very good for a long time, then he's a compiler.

Biggio was on the same team as Roger Clemens, Ken Caminiti, Andy Pettitte and Jeff Bagwell. Yeah, he definitely used PED's because he has quotes where he doesn't call these guys all cheaters.

8. Don Mattingly: He makes it here in his last chance on the ballot for his great peak. He overcame his status as a 19th-round draft choice to become one of the best two or three position players for a half decade, before his bad back sapped his strength.

Let's see, a guy plays well for a short time until injuries derail his career. What's a sign of PED use? When a player suffers an injury and suddenly stops performing at a high level, because PED's can cause the body to eventually break down. Plus, PED's can cause a player to grow hair in odd places, which explains Mattingly's awesome mustache. Is it a coincidence that Mattingly is now retired and he no longer has the mustache? Not at all. Once he retired, he quit taking PED's. So the mustache left too.

9. Alan Trammell: If Barry Larkin was an obvious Hall of Famer for me, why not Trammell? Dave Cameron of Fangraphs correctly points out the difference between Larkin and Trammell (who both had lifetime WARs of 70) is Larkin was a better base-runner and base-stealer (though Trammell wasn't bad on the bases, Larkin was great). That should make everyone take a closer look at Trammell.

Check out this site. It is a coincidence on a site where cheap steroids are offered one of the tags is "Alan Trammell"? I really doubt it. This is clear evidence of his connection to steroids.

Near Misses

10. Mike Mussina: His 3.68 ERA is excusable in the middle of the steroid era (and AL East), though he seemed to only come close to greatness throughout a fine career -- he never won a Cy Young, never led the league in ERA or strikeouts, didn't win a World Series ring and didn't quite finish that no-hitter vs. Boston.

So basically he is Jack Morris without the two World Series rings that denote team and not personal achievement? Heyman voted for Morris by the way.

11. Edgar Martinez: The slash line that topped .300/.400/.500 showed he's a great hitter, one of the best of his era, and there should be no discrimination against DHs. However, he only finished in the top 10 in MVP voting twice (though perhaps he should have a time or two more) and didn't have overwhelming career totals (though maybe the Mariners should have called him up earlier).

So Martinez doesn't make it in the Hall of Fame because he doesn't have the MVP votes or career totals (though the lack of both isn't really his fault, but let's blame him anyway).

12. Lee Smith: One of the most dominant and consistent closers ever was the all-time saves leader when he retired (478 career saves). Maybe it's not fair everyone is compared to Mariano Rivera.

I wouldn't put Lee Smith in the Hall of Fame, but why wouldn't Heyman vote for him again? He's not Mariano Rivera? Almost no closer is.

14. Carlos Delgado: His numbers are exemplary, and frankly closer than you would think. 

Don't say it's closer than I would think. You have no idea how close I think Delgado should be to entering the Hall of Fame.

16. Nomar Garciaparra: His lifetime .882 OPS is higher than any Hall of Fame shortstop, including Ernie Banks (and Derek Jeter, for that matter), and his .313 batting average is higher than any post-war Hall of Fame shortstop. But he probably didn't play quite long enough.

Of course, if he played longer than he would be a "compiler" in Jon Heyman's eyes. 

Extremely good, not quite great

17. Brian Giles: Impressive lifetime WAR of 50, on-base percentage of .400 and OPS of .902 (five points short of Gary Sheffield), and even in an era of over-inflated stats, that may sway one or two stat-minded voters.

I think Brian Giles used steroids. I wouldn't dismiss him from Hall of Fame consideration based on this, but if Jeff Bagwell should be under indictment then so should Brian Giles. If whispers of Bagwell's use are justification for leaving him out, how about Giles' ex-fiance accusing him of using anabolic steroids? That's right, Jon Heyman doesn't believe such evidence that's whispered unless he decides to listen to the evidence like this that is whispered, but hiding under the guise of seeing Giles' changed physiology.

Circumstantial evidence doesn't matter unless Jon Heyman decides it matters.

18. Tom Gordon: Very good as both starter and reliever, and also an excellent producer of next-generation ballplayers.

Father to Ben, Alex, Jeff and Flash Gordon. An impressive roster of athletes in that family.

24. Aaron Boone: Terrific gentleman who told the truth and produced one very magic moment.

Aaron Boone was always honest and had a magic moment. Basically, he was the perfect balance between George Washington and a wizard.

26. Eddie Guardado: There's something to be said for the ability to throw every day.

I have thrown everyday since I learned how to throw a ball. Can I be inducted into the Hall of Fame? Or is Jon Heyman's appreciation of my skill to throw everyday probably sufficient recognition?

Worthy on deeds but under review

But NOT under review because of bacne or some other silly thing like a Congressional hearing where he may or may not have lied. These players are under review for much more concrete reasons, namely Jon Heyman's opinion they should be under review based on circumstantial evidence not related to bacne or a corked bat. It's a totally different type of suspicion of PED use, because Jon says that it is.

28. Mike Piazza: All-time greatest hitting catcher is gathering steam despite the steroid specter, and barring a smoking gun will get there at some point.

So what causes this steroid specter if it's not bacne? Just rumors of Piazza's PED use? If so, you may as well just use bacne as your reason, because at least you are giving a reason for not voting for Piazza. I've constantly laughed at bacne being the proof that Mike Piazza used PED's, but dismissing bacne as a reason and then just have general concerns based on a generic "specter" that doesn't ever get described, as if it's porn and Heyman knows it when he sees it, is the same thing as using a bullshit reason like bacne. It's just the bullshit reason isn't given.

30. Jeff Bagwell: A big WAR probably overrates him (is he really the sixth-best first baseman all-time, or second best postwar?)

No, but he is one of the best first basemen of all-time and should be in the Hall of Fame.

but his accomplishments are very impressive indeed and still would be good enough without the specter.

What fucking "specter" is this? Just rumors that Heyman heard in the hallway while making out with Scott Boras beside the lockers? Jon Heyman goes to lengths to prove he's not believing a corked bat or evasive answers are sufficient evidence to prove a player used PED's, but damn if he isn't going to use "the specter" of steroids to keep guys like Bagwell and Piazza out of the Hall of Fame. Not naming this "specter" is engaging in the same bullshit innuendo that Heyman declares he won't be a part of. Does he not get this?

The 'steroid guys'

31. Barry Bonds: The story of taking up steroids only after McGwire and Sosa temporarily surpassed him is quite believable. Wouldn't rule out a vote in the future.

So absent everyone else taking steroids and this making it all right to cheat, Jon Heyman also will give his vote maybe someday to Barry Bonds if the ballot isn't as loaded and Bonds can prove that he only took steroids because others did too. Apparently Jon Heyman is cool with someone doing drugs as long as everyone else is doing drugs too. He must be either have been (a) a lot of fun or (b) no fun at all at parties in college.

32. Roger Clemens: Amazing how he got better after he entered the twilight of his career, isn't it?

I'm sorry, are we talking about Randy Johnson again?

34. Gary Sheffield: His résumé looks like that of a potential Hall of Famer, but his BALCO past combined with a ballot overstuffed with other steroid-linked guys puts him in some jeopardy of failing to get the five percent necessary to make next year's ballot. He is the only 500-homer hitter never to strike out 90 times in a season, as Verducci points out.

Yeah, but the steroids helped him not miss the baseball when he swung at it. This is the type of science you should just believe and not bothering looking up to determine whether it is accurate or not.

The BALCO customer claims he took the clear accidentally, and even if someone believes him, the numbers almost surely were aided by the transgression. 

OH, so Sheffield didn't mean to take the clear. Why didn't he say so? Barry Bonds didn't take steroids, his doctor lied to him and told him that he was diabetic. So Bonds thought he needed a shot of insulin everyday to keep him alive, not enhance his performance. How embarrassing!

Also admitted to throwing balls away on purpose (no accident there) so the Brewers would have to trade him, and prevented the Yankees from trading him by proclaiming places he wouldn't want to go when his agent (him) forgot to ask for a no-trade clause, an effective threat in light of his Milwaukee years.

Sheffield was an asshole. There are plenty of assholes in the Hall of Fame. This is irrelevant.

I can't wait until the Hall of Fame ballot gets a little bit lighter. I wonder if Jon Heyman will vote for the PED users and suspected users at that point? They should just tell Jon that everyone else was using steroids and I'm sure he'll let them off the hook like he did those baseball players who used "greenies" in the 50's and 60's.


Slag-King said...

"Hey, look, Jon Heyman's got Ben's specter over him!"

Great post! Sportswriter think they are the Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the sports world. Too bad there is no Mark Felt in the locker room. There are none! How is this so hard for the sportswriter to understand? Innocent until proven guilty--Piazza and Bagwell.

BTW: the names above: Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, and Mark Felt were part of the Watergate scandal investigation. Bob and Carl were reporters for Washtington Post and Mark Felt was Deep Throat, the whistle-blower of the Watergate scandal.