Beating a Dead Horse

What hasn’t been written about the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot? You’ve got the law and order folks keeping out Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the traditionalists putting in Jack Morris and Dale Murphy, and those of questionable sanity voting for Sandy Alomar, Jr. And let’s not forget the blank ballots. On second thought, let’s try to. That being said, everyone has a voice, regardless of whether or not they are a part of the BBWAA.

That’s where I come in. Player-by-player analysis and commentary after the jump.

According to the exit polls, updated relentlessly by the good people over at Baseball Think Factory, no one is slated to make it into the Hall aside from the Veterans Committee selections.

This is a crime. We have one of the most stacked ballots in baseball history, and not one player is “worthy” of selection? Give me a break. Time to take things into my own hands.

We’ll go alphabetically here, much like the physical ballot. My projected percentages are in parentheses.

Sandy Alomar, Jr. (1%) — One very good season a career does not make. Will eventually be a manager.

Jeff Bagwell (59%) — Career Astro that shares a birthday (same day, same year) with another should-be future HOFer, Frank Thomas. Top-ten first baseman of all-time, possibly top-five. Kept out thus far due to steroid speculation, but just that: speculation. No proof of PED usage and 14 straight years of 3.4+ WAR production.

Craig Biggio (69%) — Receives the compiler label from some, probably unfairly. That being said, he has probably the greatest chance of getting in, drawing support from the saber folk due to lofty WAR totals and the traditionalist due to the 3000 hits threshold.

Barry Bonds (40%)– The greatest player of my lifetime, possibly anyone’s lifetime. Numbers that are off the chart in every possible category. However, there’s that nasty little PED issue…

Jeff Cirillo (0%) — Solid player with nice career, and a prime example of the Coors effect (2000-01: .854 OPS, 99 OPS+).

Royce Clayton (0%) — Zero seasons with an OPS+ above 98. Will be remembered 20 years from now as the guy who played Miguel Tejada in Moneyball.

Roger Clemens (39%) — The Bonds of pitching. The guy won 7 Cy Youngs and was tainted by PEDs, among a litany of other character issues.

Jeff Conine (0%) — Two World Series rings and the face of a franchise. That being said, that franchise is known for frequent roster overhaul.

Steve Finley (0%) — One of the few players to total 300 HRs and 300 SBs. And that’s where the discussion ends, really. Fine player, no ticket to Cooperstown.

Julio Franco (1%) — Fountain of Youth visitor and prime example of compiling. Great 3-year peak (1989-91), average otherwise (0.5 WAA rest of career, as a matter of fact).

Shawn Green (0%) — A good amount of pop, leading to three 6-WAR seasons. Poor defense and lack of extended peak, though. Completely forgot about his speed (had a 35-35 year in 1998).

Roberto Hernandez (0%) — Not to be confused with Roberto “Fausto Carmona” Hernandez, this fella had a very good career, posting respectable save numbers for the Pale Hose and Devil Rays.

Ryan Klesko (0%) — Gloveless 1B/LF with respectable numbers around the millennium. Plenty of postseason play, with one shining year (1995).

Kenny Lofton (3%) — A tale of two careers: A Tribe loyalist and centerpiece followed by one of a nomadic nature. It is for the latter that he is slighted, despite being very effective (13.7 WAR in 2,825 PA in 2002-07 for eight teams).

Edgar Martinez (32%) — Very good counting stats, other-worldly rate stats. Part of the .300/.400/.500 club. Would likely have been elected in his first few years if he played a position regularly.

Don Mattingly (12%) — Peak (1984-89) accounts for over 80 percent of his career value. Good, yet overrated glove. Candidacy can certainly be re-evaluated after his managerial days are over.

Fred McGriff (22%) — Great bat, unfortunately overshadowed by the video game-esque numbers of the PED era. Think about this: Seven more homers, and he would likely have double or triple the BBWAA support.

Mark McGwire (13%) — Polarizing figure who was rewarding with lower vote totals after coming clean. A key figure in bringing baseball out of the strike slump. 7+ qualifying seasons with over 163 OPS+.

Jose Mesa (0%) — Discussed him this past August in the “Hall of Clearly Above Replacement But Below Average” post. The title of that piece says enough.

Jack Morris (68%) — The most divisive figure in the advanced metrics vs. traditional numbers debate. More wins than Bob Gibson, lower ERA+ than Ted Lilly.

Dale Murphy (25%) — If the character clause trumped everything else, he’d be a first-ballot HOFer. Tore up the eighties (44.2 WAR), got torn up otherwise (-1.6 WAR 1976-79, 1990-93).

Rafael Palmeiro (11%) — Hall of Fame caliber finger-wagger and part of the elite 500 HR/3000 H club. Unlike Bonds and Clemens, actually failed a drug test near the tail-end of his career. Blamed it on a tainted Vitamin-BS, errr I mean, B-12 shot.

Mike Piazza (55%) — Best-hitting catcher in baseball history, his candidacy is currently serving to bring the term “backne” back to the lexicon. 155 OPS+ for a decade (1993-2002) as a catcher(!).

Tim Raines (58%) — Most successful base stealer of all time by percentage (minimum 350 SB), and 2nd all-time in my Net SB Runs measure. Lou Brock cited as comparable, a huge compliment to Brock.

Reggie Sanders (0%) — Another member of the 300 HR/300 SB club. Played far better defense than many thought (10+ Rfield in four separate seasons).

Curt Schilling (37%) — Through Age 33 was a very good, but not great pitcher. Proceeded to notch 30.1 WAR over the next four seasons and build a reputation as one of the greatest postseason pitchers in history. Prickly personality.

Aaron Sele (0%) — Notable for finishing 5th in Cy Young voting with a 4.79 ERA in 1999. Average career pitcher.

Lee Smith (42%) — All-time leader in saves upon retiring. Respectable for sure, but if you’re a frequent HHS reader, you know how much we value the save. Very good pitcher for a career and never posted an ERA+ under 103 in a season with 30+ innings pitched.

Sammy Sosa (13%) — Surprising to think that his best season was not given much recognition, but I suppose there’s a good reason for that (see Barry Bonds). Forgot how to speak English before Congress and was a likely PED user. Which offense is greater escapes me.

Mike Stanton (0%) — Don’t call him Giancarlo! Tremendous World Series reliever, and a decent career, but not much beyond that.

Alan Trammell (33%) — Overshadowed by Cal Ripken, but had numbers not far at all from Barry Larkin, who was elected in his second year. Was part of one of the greatest double-play combinations of all-time alongside the unsung hero Lou Whitaker.

Larry Walker (14%) — Detractors will cite the Coors effect, apparently unaware that OPS+ corrects for park effects. He had the power of Bichette and Castilla, but unlike them, paired it with plus-speed and fielding. Good eye at the plate too.

Todd Walker (0%) — Nice to see him on the ballot. Good guy. Hit for decent average and did a whole lot of nothing else.

David Wells (3%) — Fine career, highlighted by a perfect game and very good postseason play. The lack of a real peak (Wells never had a season above 4.5 WAR) and above 4 ERA will hurt him.

Rondell White (0%) — Nice guy and proof that juicing doesn’t immediately lead to astronomical numbers. Only played 100 games in a season six times.

Bernie Williams (5%) — Centerfielder for a Yankees dynasty with good hitting numbers (including an .850 OPS in 545 playoff PA). But they were just that: good. Also a major liability in the field.

Woody Williams (0%) — A career of mediocrity with one 4-WAR season, picking up an All-Star nod (2003), and that figure was largely due in part to 1.1 offensive WAR.


My ballot (if held to the BBWAA standard of 10):

Barry Bonds
Jeff Bagwell
Curt Schilling
Larry Walker
Alan Trammell
Tim Raines
Kenny Lofton
Edgar Martinez
Craig Biggio
Mike Piazza

You may notice there are a few omissions, most notably Roger Clemens. I’ll be the first to admit that personal feelings clouded my judgment here (he was a schmuck to 13-year old Dalton), but it’s my pretend-vote and I’ll do with it what I please!

Also, as far as PEDs are concerned, I look at it like this: There is always something in the game that enables players to succeed that isn’t exactly legal, per se. The fifties through the seventies had amphetamines, the nineties had steroids. Babe Ruth? Well, he had performance-enhancing segregation. No chance he or his contemporaries would have put up the numbers they did if blacks were allowed to play. I refuse to believe it.

Moreover, the Hall of Fame is a museum to showcase the players with the greatest on-field contributions. Steroids were a part of the game, and such a museum would be woefully incomplete without having representatives from the era.

Now, according to a metric I’m in the process of creating*, there are 13 players worthy of enshrinement, with Clemens, McGwire and Palmeiro not making my 10-man ballot. Adam Darowski’s fantastic site, Hall of Stats, puts in a 14th, Sammy Sosa. Naturally, once my system is fine-tuned and I have a more clear explanation of it, I’ll post it here for all you lovely folks to scrutinize.


Right off the bat, I was able to knock thirteen players off the 2013 ballot according to the following criteria: <35 WAR for a hitter/starter and <20 WAR for a reliever.

You know who I’m supporting, so I’ll let my above blurbs serve as their defense. As for the players who fall between HOF-level and the 35/20 cutoff, the rationale is as follows:

  • Murphy and Mattingly had tremendous peaks in the 80s, but were not able to accumulate enough career value to put them in.
  • Sosa has a fine career WAR, but despite a gaudy peak, failed to post a high enough WAR/162 to justify inclusion.
  • Wells had an almost identical HOF worthiness level, again according to my metric, as Luis Gonzalez, a good career player who was most certainly a compiler.
  • Fred McGriff. Sigh. I adore McGriff and would vote for him on any other ballot. I feel he got shafted by playing clean in a dirty era. That being said, in the context he played in, along with poor fielding, he misses the cut.
  • Bernie Williams was good for a while. Never great. JAWS says no, Hall of Stats says no, I say no.
  • Steve Finley was good, but rarely stood out. Two AS games and a WAR a tad over 40 is a fine resume. For the Hall of Very Good.
  • Julio Franco has, I believe received one vote thus far. Good for him, and his career average and hit totals can rival others in the Hall. However, the other parts of his game don’t pass muster.
  • Reggie Sanders made one All-Star team and deserved it; he posted 6.4 WAR in the slightly-shortened 1995 season. Apart from that, he was merely good.
  • Lee Smith was a quality relief pitcher. But it takes more than saves (a stat that does not differentiate between a 1/3 IP, 2 R performance and a 2 IP, 0 R one) to put someone in the Hall of Fame. They need to either have accumulated value as a starter at some other point in their career, or be incredibly dominant out of the pen, like Mariano Rivera.
  • And finally… the curious case of Jack Morris. I’ll avoid a lengthy anti-Morris diatribe by saying this: Morris and Tom Candiotti provided identical pitching value (39.3 WAR) in their careers. Also, I understand the postseason heroics. Fun fact, the game that is single-handedly keeping his HOF candidacy alive is the last MLB game played prior to my birth. But please, let’s not Mazeroski him.


Not electing players from this ballot has quite a few repercussions. The group of players eligible in 2014 boasts 4 bonafide HOFers, along with Jeff Kent, who stands a decent chance. This will cause an unprecedented logjam, with almost 20 players of HOF quality on the ballot. Greg Maddux will make it, but aside from him, there are no other locks. And excellent and underrated players like Kenny Lofton will have no place on many ballots, that is, if he even makes it to next year’s ballot!

Many bloggers have called for shaking up the BBWAA voting system due to the possibility of a 2013 HOF induction attended solely by Deacon White‘s descendants and Adam Darowski. I would agree, but at the same time, many of these issues wouldn’t be present if the writers simply voted the way we wanted them to according to statistical merit. If they did that, there would never be a logjam, since every new crop of eligible players doesn’t contain 10 HOFers.

However, there are some rule changes I would like to implement, regardless of the given ballot:

  1. Throw out the 15-year rule, and bring it down to 8 or 10.
  2. A player becomes ineligible if they receive <1% in their first year or less than 5% their second or subsequent year.
  3. I’m actually okay with the 10-player max ballot. It will eventually not be an issue after the next few cycles.
  4. Doing away with the notion of not voting a player in on the first ballot to “send a message” or “make a statement,” only to vote him in on a later ballot. I don’t care that no player has gone in unanimously; if you don’t vote for Maddux next year, you don’t deserve voting privileges. Period.
  5. (This rule new as of 1/11): All ballots should be public. This lets us hold writers accountable. Lewie Pollis, a Cleveland Indians and Beyond the Box Score blogger knocked this one out of the park.


Got all that? There was a lot to cover, and seeing as the results are announced today at 2pm EST, this is too late to influence any voter (of course, the only ones who would consider reading us here are the ones who would likely vote along our lines anyway) but still should provide some fodder for the argumentative fan. Hopefully the writers make the choices in the best interest of baseball fans. I wouldn’t bet on it though.

Also, on a more self-serving note, I’m launching my own site due to Andy’s frequent abuse called The Thinking Fan, which will cover a variety of sports from primarily statistical perspectives. Don’t fret HHS brethren, I’ll still be posting here with relative infrequence! All baseball posts will simply now be on both sites.

* If anyone has any ideas for a name for this, please let me know!

174 thoughts on “Beating a Dead Horse

  1. 1
    Doug says:

    Nice two sentence rundown on each of the players you mentioned.

    It would seem there needs to be some qualifying standard (WAR or WAA, or both, at set levels) for ballot inclusion, in addition to playing 10 years. Then, have the ballot in two parts – say 10 votes for players making that standard and 2 votes for anyone else whom a voter may fancy for whatever reason. This would, at least, reduce omissions of votes for legitimate candidates because of a voter’s peculiar preference for someone undeserving. One possible, unintended consequence of such a scheme is that a popular player falling just short of the standard may end up being elected because of being an obvious choice for the two votes for the “outsiders”.

    The other approach is simply a ranked ballot, with descending point allocations for a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. place vote. Then, the election standard would be accumulating x number of points. I think this would tend to separate contenders from pretenders faster. Hopefully, this would prevent the ballot from becoming clogged with the HoVG-type players who now deservingly capture 5+% of the vote every year without really having any chance of ever getting to 75%. Instead, with these players attracting support only at the bottom of the ballot, their point totals would quickly drop below whatever the relegation standard would be set at.

  2. 2
    Doug says:

    Your comment on Morris got me thinking (not seriously) about Jamie Moyer, another guy with more wins than Gibson and worse ERA+ than Lilly. In fact, Moyer bests Morris on Wins and WAR, and Morris trumps Moyer on ERA+ (barely) and post-season performance.

    On the post-season point, I wasn’t even sure that Moyer had appeared in a WS game – he did, but only in 2008; didn’t appear in the post-season at all in 2009 (can’t remember whether he was left off the roster, or just wasn’t used). Anyway, I thought that lone 2008 WS start just shy of Moyer’s 46th birthday must surely make him the oldest pitcher to start a WS game. Wrong again. In the same 1929 series that Connie Mack surprised everyone by opening with Howard Ehmke (only 8 starts all year) besting Charlie Root and the Cubs, Mack also started game 4 with 46 year-old Jack Quinn on the hill. Quinn had made only 5 starts after July 9th (same as Ehmke), and appeared only 3 times after Aug 29th (Ehmke only twice after Aug 7th). Quinn got shelled in the 6th and the As were trailing 8-0 before putting up a 10-spot in the 7th for the win. Hey, when it’s your year, you win no matter what.

  3. 3
    Tim Pea says:

    I just read the Wallace Matthews opinion piece about how he will vote and has voted in the past. He says under no circumstance will he vote for Andy Pettitte! That is a tough one because he is a media darling and from all reports a great guy. I agree with Matthews on Pettitte, although if he hadn’t admitted to using PED’s I think his stats are good enough. I had a knockdown argument with someone not to long ago that was for Pettitte getting into the HoF, but was dead set against Jack Morris getting in. They have almost identical statistics, old statistics that is.

  4. 4
    bstar says:

    Oh dear. Poor Kenny Lofton. He’s currently at 2.9% with 29% of the vote in.

    I’m a little surprised that Lofton has more WAA than Tim Raines and actually ranks a bit higher than Rock on Adam’s Hall of Stats (which someone on here pointed out recently).

    Unfortunately, it looks like Lofton won’t get a chance to have the sabermetric community slowly change the minds of voters through the years the way they have with Raines/Blyleven. That’s sad to me.

    • 142
      PP says:

      Speaking of Lofton, that 1995 Indians team was crazy: Sorrento, Baerga, Vizquel, Thome, Belle, Lofton, Ramirez, Murrary, Winfield, Giles, Burnitz. Giles and Burnitz couldn’t get to the plate, but when they did they went 9 for 16 with 10 runs scored. The next year they added Franco and Kent and gave Burnitz and Giles more at bats and together they went about 310/420/560 off the bench.

      • 143
        Ed says:

        Most surprising member of the ’95 Indians…Billy Ripken! Even Ripken raked that year in Cleveland, going 7-17 with 2 homeruns and a 197 OPS+.

  5. 5
    Ed says:

    I really think the BBWAA needs to clean up its’ act. Here’s what their FAQ says on their website:

    “Does that mean some Hall of Fame voters don’t even cover baseball any more?

    Yes. The BBWAA trusts that its voters take their responsibility seriously, and even those honorary members who are no longer covering baseball do their due diligence to produce a thoughtful ballot.”

    Sorry but that’s horseshit. (pun intended).

    Some of the ballots that have been publicly revealed are just bizarre. Here’s one from someone named Jill Painter: “Bernie Williams, Mattingly, Lofton, E. Martinez, Biggio, Shawn Green.” Seriously? WTF? I had never heard of her before so I did a quick google search and her bio says the following: “Jill Painter is a sports columnist for the Los Angeles News Group, covering everything from the Dodgers, Lakers, Clippers, USC, UCLA, Kings, golf and all human interest stories in sports.” She may be a fine sportswriter but she’s clearly spread way too thin and shouldn’t have a vote when people like Sean Foreman and Dave Cameron don’t have votes.

    Or how about this ballot from Tony Massarotti of the Boston Herald: Clemens, Bonds, Edgar Martinez. I don’t even know how to respond to that.

    The strangest ballot though (in my opinion) belongs to a guy named Bud Geracie who voted for…wait are you ready for this….Bonds and Morris.

  6. 6
    oneblankspace says:

    Raines was linked to cocaine early in his career, including holding groundballs he fielded at second base.

    That said, he set a record for stolen bases by a National League rookie in strike-shortened 1981.

  7. 7
    deal says:

    Has anyone seen or heard of a former or current player saying “‘x’ took steroids and I don’t care” I think I am allowed to say that but I haven’t heard that out of a single player.

    I have heard several say they are opposed to PED users in the HoF or something similar – recently this sentiment was expressed by Mitch Williams on an MLB Network program.

    Does anyone have a problem with noone getting in the HoF this year. I don’t – it’s not like the discussion is going to go away.

    • 9
      Hartvig says:

      The problem- as Dalton pointed out- is that there is very shortly going to be a huge logjam of qualified players. I would say that that at least 12 of the players listed are at least as good as the AVERAGE Hall of Famer at their position. Again not just better than the worst but at least as good as the average Hall of Famer. I understand not voting for someone because he’s known to have cheated or maybe even if you just think that they did but what will happen when there are 20 qualified candidates on the ballot some of them are just not going to get enough votes to stay on the ballot. Take Trammell as an example. The isn’t the slightest hint of his ever having used PED’s. There are 22 shortstops currently in the Hall of Fame- by any measure you care to use he belongs no worse than 12th on that list and by most he’s going to be a notch or two or three or more higher than that. It just doesn’t make sense to me that one of the 10 best shortstops in the history of the game could be in danger of even falling off the ballot if it starts getting too crowded.

  8. 8
    Hartvig says:

    I’m a big Hall guy and would have little problem filling my ballot. As far as PED’s go my rule is that if they were clearly good enough to get in without them I will vote for them and if it’s questionable then I probably won’t. I do require that in order for me not to vote for someone because of PED’s they either have to admitted to using, be directly implicated by another player (as in the case of Clemens), failed a drug test or be named on the Mitchell report, The only exception I make to that rule is for Sosa because the only explanation for your head getting that much bigger is HGH. One area in which I do disagree with you Dalton is I am perfectly OK with not voting for someone their first year in order to send them a message. As you said- it’s my pretend vote and I’ll do with it as I please.

    Lofton- I’m still not 100% sold on defensive WAR calculations and I think they overstate his value some but I saw enough of him to know he was at least a very, very good fielder
    McGriff- just as I’m OK with punishing the cheaters, I’m OK with rewarding they guys who were clean and who’s #’s suffered because of the artificially inflated offense of the era. Without that I think his numbers would be at least at the borderline so I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.

    I’ll vote for Clemens and Bond next year.
    I’m torn on Walker- if I was certain that he wouldn’t go in this year I would probably vote for him to keep him on the ballot but I am not convinced that WAR is correct in evaluating park factors in his (or Helton’s) case yet. I’m keeping an open mind and maybe someone can eventually convince me differently.
    Palmeiro- not convinced he makes it without PED’s so he’s out.
    Sosa- no chance he makes it without PED’s
    McGwire- somewhere in between Palmeiro and Sosa
    Morris- I’m a Tiger fan and I don’t think that he’s been treated entirely fairly by the SABR crowd but still no. And he’s not really even very close.
    Smith- Not a fan of relievers, especially the modern 1 inning type. Lee was only a 1 inning wonder for the second half of his career bit really only had a couple of seasons where he was dominant.
    Mattingly & Murphy- fan of both, thought for sure for a few years when they were playing that they would make it, unfortunately they both fell off a cliff somewhere along the road.

  9. 10
    Ed says:

    While I personally wouldn’t vote for Dale Murphy, I’m still baffled as to how Jim Rice got in while Murphy has never received more than 23.2% of the vote. A quick comparison:

    Murphy was popular and well-liked; Rice wasn’t. Murphy won both the Roberto Clemente award and the Lou Gehrig award, awards that I’m sure Rice was never considered for.

    Murphy played more important defensive positions and won 5 gold gloves (maybe he didn’t deserve them but at least some people viewed his as a strong defensive player). Rice, on the other hand, was never viewed as a good defender.

    Murphy won two MVPs, Rice won one.

    Both had great starts to their careers and then quickly went downhill.

    Both were greatly helped by their home parks.

    Career length was dead even: Rice played in 2,089 games and had 9,058 plate appearances; Murphy 2,180 and 9,041.

    Rice played in 8 all-star games; Murphy in 7.

    Rice won 2 silver slugger awards; Murphy won 4.

    Runs scored, doubles, and home runs are basically even.

    They have basically the same WAR (44.3 for Rice vs. 42.6 for Murphy).

    Rice has a small edge in OPS+: 128 vs 121

    About the only places where Rice has clear advantages are in RBIs (1,451 vs. 1,266) and in BA (.298 vs. .265).

    Neither Rice not Murphy started off that high on the HOF ballot – Rice got 29.8% in his first year and went up from there. Murphy started off at 19.3%, then peaked at 23.2% in his second year. But why Rice “caught traction” and Murphy didn’t, I have no idea. Was it really all about the BA? Or perhaps the RBIs? Personally I don’t see how you could vote for one and not the other. And if you had to choose just one of them, isn’t Murphy the better choice based on playing more important defensive positions and having “better character”?

    • 56
      Doug says:

      Why was Rice preferred to Murphy? A few possible reasons.

      Rice played in a more glamorous (if that’s the right word) market, and on a contender most years. Atlanta wouldn’t acquire their cachet until the 1990s and they were a terrible team during almost all of Murphy’s tenure.

      Rice was a high-level contributor for a 12-year period (1975-86), Murphy for only 8 years (1980-87). Rice had 11 seasons at 120+ OPS+, Murphy only 7.

      Rice had only 5 seasons of 100+ strikeouts (incl. two at just 102), Murphy had 11 such seasons (incl. 9 seasons higher than Rice’s highest).

      After his last good season, Rice played just 3 more years, only the last at a truly inferior level (had he not played that final season, hew would have finished as a career .300 hitter). Murphy hung on for 6 years after his last good season, the last two of which were pretty embarrassing.

      OTOH, Murphy drew many more walks than Rice, almost bringing his OBP up to Rice’s level. But, voters almost certainly paid more attention to batting average.

  10. 11
    Jim Bouldin says:

    If I hear the “no difference between X and steroids” argument one more time– where X = amphetamines, cocaine, weed, whatever–I’m putting a metaphorical fist through the computer screen. It’s equivalent to saying there’s no nutritional difference between a jelly doughnut and a bowl of vegetable soup, because they’re both referred to as “food”.

    And Tim Raines is a hall of famer, period.

    • 12
      John Autin says:

      Jim, it’s your own fist … and, one hopes, your own computer screen.

      Anyway, you’re setting up a straw man. I’ve not one seen one argument that there’s no difference between steroids and amphetamines, etc. The question is the size of the difference — not just in the advantage gained, but the prevalence of use.

      I’m not trying to make the case for any particular analogy between steroids and X, so there’s no need to repeat your argument for how profoundly different steroids are from anything else. I’m just saying that I consider it a legitimate area of discussion.

      • 14
        Jim Bouldin says:

        No, I’m not and indeed, I’ve seen you make statements to that very effect John, within the last couple of weeks.

        • 20
          John Autin says:

          False … or bullshit, using the sort of directness you prefer. I compared them; I did not equate them.

        • 21
          John Autin says:

          If you are referring to this thread, you should re-read and try to see what I’m saying.

          You might note that I quoted a Joe Sheehan analogy — which itself did not equate steroids and amphetamines — but that I added, “I haven’t actually formed an opinion on Sheehan’s thesis yet.”

          If you’re referring to something else, please find and cite.

          I don’t like having my positions misrepresented.

          • 24
            Jim Bouldin says:

            Yeah fine, and I don’t like being repeatedly told that I’m doing nothing but “setting up straw men”, so there we are.

            And there’s a difference between directness and inflammatory rhetoric by the way.

            If I have to try to explain why steroids are fundamentally different from stimulants in their effect on athletic performance, it’s probably not worth the time.

            Have a nice day.

    • 13
      Ed says:

      Jim – I think Rob Neyer nails this issue:

      “When it comes to morality, the only thing that matters is intent. When Hall of Fame voters penalize players from the (so-called) Steroid Era while giving a free pass to every player who ever cheated with amphetamines, they’re drawing a line that — and yes, I’m going to say this once more — is intellectually indefensible.”

      I wanted to include another paragraph from Neyer’s article but I got caught by the HHS spam filter. The whole article is worth reading in my opinion.

      • 15
        Jim Bouldin says:

        Well, Neyer is wrong. Which wouldn’t be the first time.

        It’s not a question of morality. It’s a question of the extent to which performance was enhanced, which is why they’re referred to as “Performance Enhancing Drugs”. And there is no comparison between metabolic and other steroids, and things like amphetamines. One of them permanently changes the musculature of the body, the others do not.

        • 16
          Ed says:

          Jim – I don’t want to get into a protracted discussion over this. But Neyer is 100% correct.

          1) Intent does matter. If I attempt to murder someone but fail, are the courts going to simply send me along my way and wish me a nice day? Of course not. Sure the punishment will be less than if I actually succeed but there will be a punishment. The bottom line is that players who were taking amphetamines were attempting to cheat. We can debate about how successful they were at doing so but their intent was clear. If they didn’t believe that they were gaining an advantage from taking them, they wouldn’t have taken them. Intent matters. And the amphetamine users intended to cheat.

          2) Neyer is correct that the voters are being hypocritical. You may only care about the effects of the particular drugs, but the voters aren’t saying that. Most of them are saying something along the lines of “I won’t vote for player x because they cheated”. Well amphetamines are cheating too, banned from baseball since 1971 and illegal even before that.

          Two other points:

          1) You seem to be ignoring individual differences in drug effects. Player X may benefit more from amphetamines whereas Player Y may benefit more taking a particular steroid.

          2) With your way of thinking, if Player X took a steroid, but didn’t actually gain any benefit from it (maybe they didn’t take it correctly or take it long enough or maybe it wasn’t the right steroid for their particular physiology), then we should ignore the fact that the person attempted to cheat. Only someone who gains a performance benefit from a steroid should be viewed as a cheater. I just don’t see that as a meaningful distinction.

          Anyway, this is my last post on this particular subject though obviously you’re free to respond. And I apologize in advance if I’ve misrepresented your way of thinking.

        • 17
          Mike L says:

          There’s also a question of culture. Amphetamines were in widespread use, in the army, prescribed for depression, for dieting, for staying up at night (long distance truckers and college kids cramming and doctors on 24 hour shifts) etc. They were widely available. My dad owned a pharmacy and I worked for him when I was a kid; I have a distinct memory of at least one brand of amphetamine lozenge with vitamins added. I don’t even think they were on a “schedule” like narcotics were as late as the mid-sixties. So, I do see a distinction between an athlete using a greenie in 1953 and someone beefing up with steroids. I think Neyer is wrong. Taking steroids is cheating at a high level; changing a body type beyond what can be accomplished with genetics and work. You can decide to ignore them because you can’t find a way to rationally reconcile among users and non-users, but just throwing them into the generic “cheating” basket and therefore excusing them is a false equivalence.

          • 80
            MikeD says:

            Yet, also lost in the discussion is the extent of use. It is almost certain that some players benefited more by “cheating” taking amphetamines than others who took some form of steroids. If a player is using amphetamines for a decade plus, while another player experiments with steroids for a season or so, there are those (i.e. the Tom Verducci crowd) who believe the latter player should be prevented from ever making the HOF, while the former player is considered okay. I’m willing to guess that many players taking steroids didn’t even use them properly and consistently to achieve the benefit.

        • 19
          e pluribus munu says:

          I’m entirely with Jim on this issue. I don’t see PEDs as on a quantitative continuum with uppers or any other type of Stone Age drug.

          I also don’t see PEDs on a quantitative “character” continuum with the other personal failings commonly invoked – but in a different way. While I think it’s perfectly fair to pass negative moral judgment on ultra-racists like Anson and playing-days Cobb, or on players who threw games, or on just all-around jerks (a nice portion of HoF players), etc. (although only one of those categories entails a Hall ban now), I’m more neutral on PED users. I think McGuire’s an example of an admirable person who used PEDs, and the pressures that led to players dividing into PED/non-PED users seem to me more a matter of bringing into relief strong character traits of some who abstained, rather than exposing any unusual weakness among those who did not. (I sometimes wonder what a young, athletic me would have done – not that there ever was one.)

          Nevertheless, what PEDs did was to skew the statistical basis of the game so that we have absolutely no consistent measure of earned merit on the field, as reflected in statistics. That’s the major component of all HoF decisions, and PEDs have taken that away, at least for the era of their dominance.

          For this reason, I would not now knowingly vote for any PED user – not for reasons of bad character, but because the statistical basis for their cases is not measurable in a competitive framework. There’s nothing to do about it – guesswork (which are their PED years; how bog was the effect) can’t solve the problem: the statistics are spoiled.

          On the other hand, given the lack of consensus on this, a new meta-effect of PEDs, as Nate Silver illustrates, may be that voters’ differing views of their relevance to HoF decisions may continue splitting votes in an artificial way so that no candidates (or almost none) can amass 75% of the votes. If that were to happen, I’d advocate voting past PEDs (that is, simply bracketing the issue and electing Bonds, Clemens, etc.), so that the Hall can continue as a living institution.

        • 22
          John Autin says:

          Jim, you talk as if “permanent” changes to the body were the only significant way of enhancing performance. But it’s well documented that stimulants can significantly enhance athletic performance.

          Once again, it’s a question of degree.

          • 123

            I’m not certain if this little discussion is dead already, but the way I see it regarding the steroids vs. amphetamines and other forms of “cheating” comparison is this:

            1. For those who are saying, “There’s absolutely no place for cheaters in the Hall of Fame,” then intent does matter, obviously, so everyone who took something with the intent to enhance their performance gets lumped together, plain and simple. Those who are in this camp don’t care whether or not Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens played at a Hall of Fame level without PEDs. They just want them penalized as cheaters.

            2. Those who are willing to make a distinction between amphetamines and steroids (i.e. to determine the extent to which performance was enhanced) have to also allow for the fact that if a player was good enough to be a Hall of Famer had he not “cheated,” then he’s a Hall of Famer, period.

            You can’t have it both ways (We’re OK with those who took amphetamines, or doctored the baseball or whatever, but anybody who even experimented with steroids once is absolutely out), in my opinion.

      • 77
        Mark in Sydney says:

        I’m sorry Ed and Jim. My take is that it is not about “morality” or whatever, rather it is about culture and those that allow and encourage such a culture.

        Where were the BBWAA members when Jose Canseco came out and said “80% of everyone does steroids”? This in 2005, long after it was clear that there was this explosion in power. What about Selig and the owners? Receipts were up so all was good.

        But now? Revisionism means that someone -must- pay. It won’t be the establishment, it will be the players. After all, it was them that broke trust with us (right!?!). And what way do they have of punishing the players? With-holding HoF nominations. It’s petty, but then we a talking, for the most part, of small-minded, holier-than-thou types who get paid to give us their opinion. We should expect no better.

  11. 23
    Jason Z says:

    These recent comments illustrate why today is such a sad day.

    We should be talking about the vote totals of the newest class,
    which would include Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mike Piazza.

    Three players on the very short list at their respective positions.

    However, because of steroids we will be talking about the fact that
    nobody got elected today, and how do we account for steroids in the
    future. Also, only being allowed to vote for ten will prove to be
    awfully inadequate by next year.

    As for steroids vs. amphetamines I think it depends on the positon
    and what you wish to accomplish.

    Hockey Goaltender-Amphetamines.
    Barry Bonds, Big-Headed HR hitter-Steroids.
    from 1986-98 Bonds averaged 16.2 PA per HR.
    from 1999-07 Bonds averaged 9.1 PA per HR.

    • 26
      John Autin says:

      Jason, regarding Bonds, I think you meant ABs per HR, not PAs.

      The figures for PAs are 19.7 PAs per HR through 1998, and 12.8 PAs per HR from 1999 onward.

      And while I am anything but a Bonds apologist, let’s not forget that there were factors other than steroids in the offensive explosion of that era, including expansion and several new ballparks.

      • 29
        Tim Pea says:

        I was never aware of that Mike Piazza was linked to PED’s? I’m recently learning a lot of things I didn’t know, for example Bagwell’s comments about steroids.

      • 33
        Luis Gomez says:

        I agree, John. There were four new pitching staffs during the so-called steroid era. But how about lifting weights in general? Take a look at some of the baseball cards from the middle infielders in the 70´s and compare them with today´s players. This days, kids are in the training room since high school, players hire nutriologists and fitness experts to remain strong all year long, they take care of their bodies PED or not.

        For every Barry Bonds linked to PED´s there was a Bobby Estalella.

      • 121
        Jason Z says:

        The numbers I quoted were from the HOF roundtable discussion
        on MLB Network Tuesday night. I thought it was PAs, but I did
        not check. Thanks for the correction.

        I understand that other factors were in play. Anybody who reads
        Game of Shadows cannot help but come away with the belief that
        one of those factors with Bonds was steroids, starting with the
        1999 season.

        In fairness, Bonds had 8 season with an OPS+ of greater than
        170 prior to 1999.

        Then from 2001-04 his OPS+ is as follows…


        The man went from one of the best to otherworldly.

        • 168
          bstar says:

          Thanks Jason, for listing Bonds’ cartoon numbers.

          If anyone is actually still holding onto the belief that the effect of amphetamines is the same as the effect of designer cutting-edge steroids, can you please give me the name of the guy from the “amphetamine” era who put up numbers after age 34 similar to Bonds, or had a career spike similar to Barry after age 34?

  12. 25
    Jason Z says:

    If I remove the word steroids from my vocabulary, Here is my
    ballot if I am a voter for the HOF…

    Barry Bonds
    Roger Clemens
    Tim Raines
    Mike Piazza
    Jeff Bagwell
    Curt Schilling
    Alan Trammell
    Edgar Martinez
    Larry Walker
    The Crime Dog

  13. 27
    Mike L says:

    For some odd reason, I was thinking about our old friend Frank Clingenpeel, and how much pleasure he got out of the game. If you are looking for a real victim of the steroids era, it’s not who to put in the Hall, and not even the impact of steroids on records. It’s the loss of innocence.

    • 32
      Ed says:

      I don’t know Mike L. Was there ever a “time of innocence”? Or were we really just “less naive”?

    • 41
      Hartvig says:

      Ed- I think you meant more naive rather than less. And having grown up in a small town in rural North Dakota that was about as close to Mayberry RFD as is possible I’d have to say that the answer is yes, we were incredibly naive.

      Growing up in surroundings where virtually everyone I knew was white, of Scandinavian/Germanic descent and Lutheran- we seriously thought that the tiny number of friends that we had who’s great-grandparents were from Poland or were Catholic or something were pretty exotic- meant that even going to a state university that was extremely white/Scandinavia/Lutheran was still an incredibly eye-opening and exciting experience. That kind of naïveté is OK when you’re six but if you spend your whole life knowing nothing different the result can be something pretty ugly in a lot of cases however.

      And Mike L.- thanks for reminding us of Frank. He really was one of the good guys and I miss his stories and gentle good nature.

  14. 28
    Artie Z says:

    Trying to get this post back on the fun track – the best line in the post is:

    “Many bloggers have called for shaking up the BBWAA voting system due to the possibility of a 2013 HOF induction attended solely by Deacon White‘s descendants and Adam Darowski.”

    Reminds me of the line in one of Bill James’ book about McGowan’s election finally answering the prayers of the millions of Bill McGowan fans.

    Just how long ago was Deacon White born? Yes, I know it was 1847 but sometimes the number doesn’t quite tell the whole story.

    1. It’s quite possible he fired a shot in the US Civil War or War Between the States or whatever you want to call it. He would have been 12 at the outset and 17 near the end. Maybe Adam knows if White actually did participate in the war (I’m making the assumption that Adam knows more about Deacon White than the rest of us).

    2. He played his last game when he was 42 and yet they still had not changed the pitching mound distance to 60’6”.

    3. He was in the top 5 in hits, RBI, AVG (assuming 200 hits), and OBP during the … Ulysses S Grant administration.

    4. There were only 29 states in the Union when he was born, and only 48 when he died, Iowa being the most recently admitted state before he was born.

    5. He lived to be 91 – and passed away during the middle of FDR’s time in office. Heck, White had already played 638 games and had 987 hits BEFORE FDR was born.

    6. The last US President born before White was William McKinley. White was born before Billy the Kid and Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp, who were born so long ago they almost seem like fictional characters.

    7. He played at least 261 games before the Battle of Little Bighorn. I say “at least” because no one has gotten around to posting the 1876 boxscores and game logs yet.

    8. Rumor has it he once caught Jamie Moyer in an Old-Timers game.

    9. Tying this back to the whole debate above steroids and amphetamines – it was legal to buy opium throughout White’s entire career (whether or not you could smoke it out in the open changed during his career though). And this is the main reason I’m out on the whole “drugs” issue. What once was legal may now be illegal but may become legal again … who knows. It’s entirely possible Deacon White used opium, though since he has the nickname Deacon I’m guessing not. But still, we don’t really know.

    • 34
      Bells says:

      Well I’m glad the Hall of Fame got over the scandal of 1872 when White was found to be carrying ‘elixirs and potions of unknown origin’ in his covered wagon that were rumoured to have been ‘given to him in a black magick ceremonie by a mysterious woman consorting with terrifying beasts and woodland creatures’ (citation needed). They’ve punished Deacon long enough.

    • 35
      Ed says:

      Great stuff Artie Z. Laughed out loud at #8.

    • 36
      birtelcom says:

      I’m sure Deacon’s HOF induction speech will be eloquent, albeit concise.

    • 43
      John Autin says:

      We could always imagine that Deacon White is being inducted as a Pioneer, having introduced the weak-hitting pitcher into the game, in the form of little brother Will.

      Plow through the 1879 NL pitchers:
      – Blondie Purcell was a real hitter, and Monte Ward wasn’t far behind.
      – Tommy Bond was OK, never hit below .200 as a regular. Ditto Jim McCormick and Terry Larkin.
      – Pud Galvin and George Bradley did all right.
      – Bobby Mathews wasn’t completely awful.

      And then you have Will White, who in ’79 batted .136 and led the league in batter strikeouts for the 2nd straight year. A career .183 hitter with no power.

      We owe it all to the Deacon.

      • 68
        Hartvig says:

        There’s got to be someone even older than Deacon that they can drag out to “honor” next year when they roll out their little clown car circus to again reveal that they find themselves completely unable recognize the blatantly obvious and get things right.

        Bob Ferguson. Good old “Death to Flying Things”. The worlds FIRST switch hitter. Isn’t it time that he got a little love? Isn’t it time that the millions of “Death to Flying Things” supporters voices were finally heard?? And best of all we wouldn’t be honoring another player born during the James K Polk administration no siree! THIS time we get to dredge up the memory of His Accidency John Tyler and his many outstanding achievements such as the Webster-Ashburton treaty and being known as an afterthought in a campaign slogan.

        • 110
          John Autin says:

          I wish I could support ol’ Death to Flying Things — they could even have a skeet-shooting tourney as a sidelight to the induction ceremony, honoring one of the most popular sports of the early 20th century.

          But the absurd spike in Ferguson’s performance at age 33 raises too many suspicions.

    • 50
      Doug says:

      SABR has this item in it’s Deacon White bio.

      White stated that he learned to play baseball from a Union soldier returning home from the Civil War in 1865.

      Kind of implies that White wasn’t a soldier, though it’s not entirely clear.

      At Baseball Almanac, Morgan Bulkeley, the first NL president, is identified as the only HOF member who was a Civil War veteran.

  15. 30
    PP says:

    Anyone seen the vote %s?

    • 31
      Ed says:

      yes it was just revealed

      • 38
        Alan says:

        So that’s it then: no living inductees from either the voters or the Veterans Committee for 2013. And next year’s ballot will be crowded indeed. Safe to say some will get elected in 2014 (paging Greg Maddux), but as for this year’s candidates, they may all have to wait 2-years-plus.

        • 47
          Artie Z. says:

          It’s a little more than “no living inductees” in my mind. All of this year’s inductees passed away before Pearl Harbor. They all passed away either before or, in White’s case, during Ted Williams’ rookie season. They passed away so long ago that Rogers Hornsby wasn’t in the HOF.

          If I’m reading the Baseball HOF website correctly, it’s quite possible that none of this year’s inductees were alive for the first ever HOF induction ceremony. According to the website it happened in 1939, and if it happened after July 7th, 1939, then White would have passed away.

        • 57
          birtelcom says:

          It’s lucky that the Hall doesn’t go by the Nobel Prize rules — no posthumous nominations.

  16. 37
    PP says:

    Surprised to see Clemens and Bonds in the 30s.

  17. 39
    Jeff H says:

    For the first time since 1996, no players were elected to the Hall of Fame by baseball writers. A player needs at least 75 percent of the vote to gain election.

    Player Votes Pct
    Craig Biggio 388 68.2
    Jack Morris 385 67.7
    Jeff Bagwell 339 59.6
    Mike Piazza 329 57.8
    Tim Raines 297 52.2
    Lee Smith 272 47.8
    Curt Schilling 221 38.8
    Roger Clemens 214 37.6
    Barry Bonds 206 36.2
    Edgar Martinez 204 35.9
    Alan Trammell 191 33.6
    Larry Walker 123 21.6
    Fred McGriff 118 20.7
    Dale Murphy 106 18.6
    Mark McGwire 96 16.9
    Don Mattingly 75 13.2
    Sammy Sosa 71 12.9
    Rafael Palmeiro 50 8.8
    Others receiving votes: Bernie Williams, 19; Kenny Lofton, 18; Sandy Alomar Jr., 16; Julio Franco, 6; David Wells, 5; Steve Finley, 4; Shawn Green, 2; Aaron Sele, 1.

    Jack Morris led holdovers with 67.7 percent. He will make his final ballot appearance next year, when fellow pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine along with slugger Frank Thomas are eligible for the first time.

    It was just the eighth time the BBWAA failed to elect any players. There were four fewer votes than last year and five members submitted blank ballots.

    • 44
      Hartvig says:

      I was slightly encouraged by Trammell’s support dropping only slightly but I have a difficult time imagining he will be able to garner enough support in the future with the ballot becoming so ridiculously crowded to ever get in. It’s an absolute travesty that Lofton was dropped and even worse that no one was elected at all.

      Hell. I would have even rather that Morris get in just so we could get that stupid argument off of the table and start addressing the gross miscarriage of justice that’s occurring.

    • 61
      Jeff says:

      I was really hoping Bidge would get in the first time. And I felt bad when he only got 68% of the vote. But then I was doing some research and found out that Yogi Berra, YOGI FREAKIN’ BERRA, only got 67% of the vote in his first year of eligibility! Then he made it in the next year. Just goes to show that the voters have always been dumbasses.

      It may be a little more difficult for Biggio to make it next year, since there will be less available slots. But I think he’ll scrape by.

      And I expected Raines to finish a little higher. He’s got a few more years to go, though.

    • 66
      bstar says:

      Atlanta did win the old NL West in 1982 before losing to the Cardinals in the LCS that year. And they won 88 games the next year. Other than that, yeah, the Braves were awful for the rest of the decade.

      One other thing that gets forgotten about Murphy is he was leading the NL in HR and RBI before succumbing to injury early in ’81. I know that’s delving into “what-if” territory, but it’s likely Murphy’s peak would have included 1981 as well.

      As for Rice vs. Murphy, for some bizarre reason HOF voters fell in love with the Rice as a “feared hitter” narrative. My gut reaction is to mention him playing for a large market, but as we’ve seen with the likes of Dwight Evans, Graig Nettles, and the like, playing for Boston/NYY doesn’t always lead to a free pass for a borderline player (sorry for calling Dewey Evans borderline 🙂 ).

      Doug, I just don’t think you can make a numbers-based argument that really favors Rice strongly over Murphy. All the points you described above can be negated by talking about Rice’s disastrous GIDP rate and the fact that Murphy played the far more demanding position defensively. I also question whether Rice would have put up career positive Rfield numbers in LF had he played in a larger ballpark.

      I also think you can look at guys like Dale Murphy and Don Mattingly and see what’s missing from their careers: average years. A lot of people have gotten so infatuated with WAA that they tend to overlook average or slightly above-average seasons as being meaningless, but when you look at Murph and Mattingly those are the seasons that are missing. They have the early years, the great years, and the decline years but are missing the transition phase from great to decline phase. Give Murphy 5 3 WAR seasons after his prime and then have him decline the way he did and he’s a Hall of Famer, or a lot closer to one. Same with Mattingly. So I think these are two examples of how average years do have value in a player’s career. Without them, it’s much harder to build a Hall-worthy career.

      • 69
        bstar says:

        Sorry, this comment was meant to nestle under Doug’s @56 above. Totally misplaced, my bad.

      • 86
        Doug says:

        I’m not really disagreeing with you, bstar.

        I was just suggesting reasons why the voters may have preferred Rice to Murphy, NOT whether those reasons were really defensible.

        One thing in Rice’s favor that is hard to argue against is the longer peak – 12 years vs. 8; 50% longer. Since the magnitude of their peaks was similar (Rice 133 OPS+, Murphy 140), those extra years are significant.

        • 94
          bstar says:

          I guess we’re not disagreeing, Doug, but when you try in your last paragraph to prove that Rice still has some stat-based superiority over Murphy, I can just as easily debunk what you say and prove Murphy has a better/longer peak.

          -best 5-yr WAR stretch: Murphy 26.5 / Rice 23.0
          -5-yr WAR peak(best 5 seasons): Murphy 31.5 / Rice 29.2
          -best 7-yr WAR stretch: Murphy 35.1 / Rice 30.8
          -7-yr WAR peak(best 7 seasons): Murphy 39.0 / Rice 34.6

          Also, I’m recalling your great post from last year about the rolling ?5-yr? windows of WAR to determine who was the best player in each league at each position for the previous five years. Murph shows up as the NL’s best CF in ’86, ’87, and 1988. Rice can’t break the top spot as the AL’s best LF even one time.

          As for the claim that Rice had a longer peak than Murphy, I’m not seeing that either. Rice’s best 12-year stretch is 44.8 WAR, while Murphy’s is slightly higher at 45.4 WAR.

          Again, I don’t see any statistical edge for Rice, and viewed from a peak perspective everything seems to actually favor Murph slightly.

          These two players are equal in value. Rice was a horsesh!t selection, and Murphy would have been too. The puzzling thing to me is how the narrative of Rice (a player who shunned the media for most of his career) somehow gained more steam than that of two-time MVP and model citizen extraordinaire Murphy. That remains the mystery to me.

          • 102
            Ed says:

            Doug and Bstar – Thanks for your excellent comments. I first noticed the Rice/Murphy similarities a few weeks ago and was waiting for an opportune time to post them. I don’t know that there’s an “answer” as to how Rice got in and Murphy never even got 25% of the vote. But I do think it provides an excellent example of how broken the voting process is.

          • 131
            Doug says:

            bstar, all valid points. Nevertheless, I look at the season lines and I’m seeing a longer stretch of seasons as a valuable contributor for Rice than for Murphy. Murphy was a bit more valuable during his best seasons, but Rice had a longer stretch.

            Incidentally, regarding defense, FWIW, B-R has Rice (-8.8) and Murphy (-7.6) as basically the same. Each had 5 seasons below -1 dWAR, and Murphy has a 1-0 edge in seasons above +1 dWAR. But, I don’t pretend to understand exactly how positional value adjustments are reflected in those dWAR numbers.

          • 171
            bstar says:

            Doug, it’s pretty simple, really. Just add the run totals of Rpos and Rfield, then divide by 10 since 10 runs = 1 win. That’s basically your dWAR. Often (Rfield + Rpos)/10 will not exactly equal dWAR (I think games played has something to do with this) but the numbers should be pretty close.

            Here’s Murph’s career numbers as an example:

            (Rfield + Rpos)/10 = [(-33) + (-48)]/10 = -8.1

            Murphy’s career dWAR is -7.6.

    • 84
      Doug says:

      As a microcosm of why it can be so hard to reach 75%, the Sporting News had 3 voters: their editor, deputy editor and “national baseball writer”
      – one put ten names on his ballot, one five and the other four
      – the 19 votes went to 14 different players
      – not one player appeared on all 3 ballots
      – nine players (almost two-third of those named) appeared on only one of the three ballots
      – the ballot with only four names had these ones: Mattingly, Morris, Schilling, Smith (hmm … don’t you think, with up to 6 more votes, there might have been room for some other choices?)

      The two voters who steered clear of Bonds, Clemens, et al opined, very presumptuously, that these cheaters “must pay”. As if, as HOF voters, they were upholding the sanctity of baseball or some such thing, and it’s a good thing the BBWAA is around to keep out the riff-raff out. Geez – I thought there were just asked to vote, not to protect the sanctity of the game.

      • 90
        Nash Bruce says:

        Whomever made an absolute joke out of their vote by voting for AARON SELE should be…….um……yeah, something really bad.

        • 92
          Hartvig says:

          I could forgive something like that if it was a friend or if there was some sort of fond memory of a game involving Sele or something PROVIDED these idiots were doing their jobs and there were maybe 6 or 7 people on the ballot who were deserving of any real consideration instead of at least a minimum of 10 candidates who clearly belong and another 5 or 6 who should at least receive some consideration. But to do it in these circumstances calls for nothing short of a full head band wedgie.

      • 93
        Ed says:

        Doug – And it’s only going to be worse next year. With Maddux, Glavine, and Thomas all coming onto the ballot next year, the people who voted for 10 players this time around, will have to drop a few people from their ballot to make room for newcomers. Yesterday Joe Posnanski said that he thinks that Maddux, Glavine, and Thomas will all make it next year. Maddux yes. But I’m not sure about Glavine or Thomas.

        • 97
          bstar says:

          I agree, Ed. I don’t think Glavine and Thomas are going to get in next year either.

          There’s so many worthy candidates out there, and Glavine and Big Hurt will surely get dinged for not being “first-ballot” material by a decent fraction of the voters. Plus Biggio, Bagwell, and Raines are going nowhere. And the pro-Jack Morris faction will have its final push as next year will be Morris’ final chance to gain election. Just too many names out there for anyone but Maddog to get over 75%.

          • 101
            Ed says:

            I’m not even sure Glavine would be a first ballot HOFer in a “normal year”. I think he’s viewed along the lines of Phil Niekro and Don Sutton, 300 game winners who were viewed as very good but not great. Glavine does have the advantages of being a two time Cy Young award winner and being a member of all those great Braves teams. But Sutton and Niekro both needed 5 years to get in; I’m not sure that Glavine’s advantages are enough to move him from 5th year to 1st year.

  18. 40
    Jeff H says:

    What a joke! Lee Smith, who wasn’t even the best closer in his era got more votes than the best Righty in our lifetime and the best all around player, maybe ever.

    How does Piazza only garner 57.8%?
    How does Biggio not get in at all?
    And Sandy Alomar Jr got 18 votes???

    Something has to change, quickly…

    • 62
      Jeff says:

      I forgot to mention Piazza: he should have been a slam-dunk. What a hitter he was: and he did it at the catcher position! The knock on him was that he was supposed to be a lousy defensive player. Well, the numbers say different. He wasn’t Johnny Bench or anything but he also wasn’t hurting his team behind the plate.

      For those who don’t think that Piazza deserves to get in, please name for me all the catchers in the history of baseball who are more deserving than he.

  19. 46
    Mike L says:

    I find Schilling at 38.8% to be fascinating. Can’t stand the overstuffed loud-mouthed blowhard. That being said, 38.8%?

    • 51
      brp says:

      Maybe it was a dig at 38 Studios…

      1) All people who cast a null ballot, like Howard Bryant at ESPN who tried to defend their position (and failed, miserably) should lose their voting privliges. I get that the steriod era “tainted baseball” if you’re a naive yokel who thinks the 1970s players weren’t tweaking or the 1980s players weren’t wiping cocaine dust off their nose in the on-deck circle, but to leave off everyone, even Biggio or Trammell or Tim Raines (speaking of cocaine), is ridiculous.
      2) Whoever voted for Aaron Sele should lose their ballot. I get being a homer, but come on, really?
      3) Let the steroid guys in. Here’s a couple people who got zapped for steroids, or admitted usage:
      P Grant Roberts
      1B David Segui
      OF Matt Lawton
      C Paul Lo Duca
      OF Jay Gibbons
      P Ryan Franklin

      And of course the Mitchell report:
      Because ‘roids really turned F.P. Santangelo into a HR-smashing monster, right?

      So if those guys were using, and the stars were using, who is to say who WASN’T? If there were a way to reward the “clean” players then I’m all for it but let’s not pretend that only McGwire, Bonds, Sosa, and Clemens were on the juice.

      • 58
        birtelcom says:

        brp: One quote in particular from Howard Bryant’s ESPN post especially caught my eye: “A Hall of Fame without Bonds and Clemens isn’t quite a Hall of Fame.” Essentially Bryant is, it seems, acknowledging that these two have to go in some time. He seems to believe that by sending in his blank ballot for the first year of eligibility for Bonds and Clemens he is punishing them, or registering his protest against their actions, while reserving his right to invite them in later. I wouldn’t make that distinction myself, as the whole notion of the specialness of “first time on the ballot induction” has always escaped me. To me the question is whether a guy belongs or not, period, with the timing being irrelevant. But Bryant’s position on that issue is at least intellectually coherent, even if I don’t myself agree with it.

      • 75
        John Autin says:

        “All people who cast a null ballot … should lose their voting privileges.”

        If you made that a rule, what will you say when some Johnny Damon type gets elected because the ballot featured no slam-dunks?

        I think Bryant’s a nullity, but your solution goes too far. Democracy is messy. The present system is deeply flawed, but I’d rather see a bunch of intellectually indefensible votes than to add more rules and overlords and potentially ad hominem moves to revoke the vote of this guy or that guy.

        • 82
          MikeD says:

          Should a blank ballot be allowed? Just don’t submit a ballot if no player is worthy. I can’t go to the voting booth and not submit a ballot with no votes. I either vote, or stay home. Submitting a blank HOF ballot so that it messes up the percentages required feels wrong.

          The BBWAA should use this as an opportunity to clean up a few areas:

          1) All ballots should be public. No hiding. Related, a list of all eligble voters should be available. If a BBWAA doesn’t agree to these rules, then they surrender their right to vote.
          2) No lifetime voting. If a writer is retired for a period, say ten years, or hasn’t covered baseball for a similar period, they lose their voting rights. I pick ten years since that’s how long a BBWAA member has to wait before he/she can vote, so they should lose it after an equal period of time of retirement or no longer involved with the sport.
          3) In conjunction with the HOF, figure out how to expand the base of voters beyond traditional beat reporters. This made sense 75 years ago. Less so today. They have done this to some degree by allowing people like Keith Law in and then assigning them to a local chapter, but that’s a bandaid fix.
          4) Have some form of peer review. If voters are ignoring the rules by, for example, consistently not voting for first-year players, then they should be required to defend that position. If the answer is Babe Ruth or Willie Mays or Hank Aaron didn’t get 100% of the vote then Player X shouldn’t get 100% of the vote so I’m withholding my vote, then that person should lose the right to vote.

          • 98
            Ed says:

            MikeD – I agree completely with your post. I would add two other thoughts.

            1) We want the HOF to be populated by the “greats”. And yet we don’t expect that same criterion of the voters. The voters are, in effect, compilers, as the only criterion is being a member of the BBWAA for 10 years. They don’t actually have to be knowledgeable about baseball or even particularly good at what they do. They just have to hang on long enough to get a vote. I would prefer something like a select panel of the 50 or 100 best minds in baseball. They would have to be active and their work should focus almost exclusively on baseball. Obviously you’d need some process for choosing this select panel but I’m sure a workable process could be developed.

            2) More to your #4. People should have to defend vote switches. For example, if they leave Jack Morris off the ballot one year and then vote for him the next, they need to defend that vote. More so then any of their other votes.

          • 148
            MikeD says:

            Ed, adding to what you said, transparency is the most important out of the four items I listed, because it will address the others. The game has changed. This is not the 1930s, 40s, 50s, or for that fact even the 80s or the 90s. The HOF vote would happen, and fans would read about it in the newspapers the next day. People would talk about it at work over lunch, or at the local pub, but they had no input, no feedback, no connection to the voters. The Internet has changed everything, and the BBWAA needs to update its approach to eflect that.

            I’m fine withthe BBWAA remaining the main group electing HOFers. I actually think they do a good job. Yet by expanding the voting to allow other non-BBWAA members in, and providing greater transparency, they will greatly improve their image and standing. They should use this as the opportunity to do some updating to 2013.

          • 150
            Hartvig says:

            There is at least potentially an issue with not allowing a blank ballot.

            Let’s say that because of massive public outcry and hoards of angry baseball fans bearing torches and pitchforks surrounding their homes and offices the BBWAA finally decide to do something and over the next 5 years clear every reasonably qualified candidate off of the ballot. Johnny Damon manages to find his second wind, reaches 3000 hits and retires in a year when no other qualified candidates do (that does happen on occasion).

            2021 gets here. There are no remaining candidates on the ballot who have much of a constituency so a large number of people submit no ballot- say like 60%. There are enough of the old timers still around that Damon’s 3000 hits make him an automatic qualifier or some people just feel that they should vote for someone so that he is able to get 30% of the BBWAA’s members to vote for him. If a large enough number of people felt that there were no qualified candidates but were not allowed to submit a blank ballot that could create a scenario where Damon (or some similar player somewhere down the road) ends up being on 75% of the ballots.

            And Johnny Damon would be a Hall of Famer and Kenny Lofton could not even be reconsidered for another 15 years.

          • 152
            Ed says:

            MikeD – Honestly I’m not sure what transparency gets you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely in favor of it, but I’m not sure what it accomplishes. There’s already plenty of voters who reveal their ballots publicly. And plenty of them get mocked for their ballots. Yet nothing happens to them.

            Peer review sounds good but how do you do that? Who gets to determine what a “good” ballot is versus a “bad” ballot? And how? What’s the standard?

            Personally, I think the football hall of fame has a much better process. Anyone can be nominated as long as they’ve been retired for at least 4 years. So no falling off the ballot. And yes, even fans can nominate someone. They then go through several rounds of narrowing down candidates until they have a list of finalists. They then bring the voters together to discuss each of the finalists. No living in a bubble and saying “I didn’t know that about Player X”. The only thing I wouldn’t want with the football method is that they guarantee at least 4 people getting elected each year.

            At the end of the day, as much as we complain about the writers, the writers aren’t the ones who are the problem. The problem is the Hall of Fame itself. They really need to take a stand on the steroids issue and give direction to the voters. Allowing each individual writer to make their own decision about this is stupid. It’s their Hall of Fame, they’re the ones who need to decide re: steroids, not the writers.

      • 91
        Nash Bruce says:

        (oops sorry, brp, hadn’t seen your 2) point regarding A.Sele yet….)

        • 108
          brp says:

          Not a problem; I really do like Mike’s suggestions at 82. I’ll grant I was a bit fired up yesterday and will say his ideas are a lot more rational and enforceable than mine.

          At the very least they must make their votes public, and they absolutely should have to be actively employed in the baseball industry.

      • 128
        Tim Pea says:

        Tom Verducci destroys the “greenies” argument and I seriously doubt there was a lot of cocaine being done in the on deck circle. Regular cocaine use would shorten a players career if he didn’t get a handle on it quickly. What is so hard to understand about a below average major league player that was caught using, probably never even making it to AAA without PED’s? Steroids made a HoF caliber player like Bonds super human. I don’t get the look-the-other-way crowd for Bonds being the same Jack Morris haters. Kind of like being pro-choice and anti death penalty.

        • 129
          Ed says:

          The same Tom Verducci who said the following about greenies?:

          Uh, OK, so if they are not “necessarily” performance-enhancing, why are players taking them? They taste good?

          Oh wait, I said I was done with this conversation, didn’t I? Oops! 🙂

          Look, if amphetamines let you play when you’d otherwise need a day off, then they’re performance enhancing. Period. If they let you play for one or two or three more seasons, then they’re performance enhancing. Maybe they don’t “enhance” your advanced stats but they sure as hell “enhance” your counting stats by enabling you to play more often and play for more years.

          Another quote from the Verducci article:

          An AL manager told me last month greenies are so prevalent with old and young players alike that baseball would have to shorten the season if they banned them.

          • 130
            Ed says:

            A few more quotes from Verducci re: greenies (I had to cut this into multiple post cause the HHS spam filter doesn’t like links).

            “Last month a current All-Star, upon being chided by a former player about sitting out one game, shot back, “That’s it. I’m going to take a couple extra beans just for you now,” and reached into his locker for some pills.”


            Or this quote from Ken Caminiti:

            Caminiti, a recovering alcoholic, says he often arrived at the clubhouse lethargic and weary after a night of drinking. Almost immediately after beaning up, Caminiti says, he felt more energetic. “You take some pills, go out and run in the outfield, and you get the blood flowing,” he says. “All of a sudden you feel much better. There were other times when you’d say, I feel good enough to play naked today, but you know what? I can feel even better. So you’d take them then, too.”


            One final quote from Verducci abot greenies helping older players stay in the games:

            Funny, I had this same conversation with one clubhouse source recently who claims the veterans miss greenies as much as the steroids. The greenies enabled them to play, gave some life to aging, sore bodies during the grind of the season.


          • 132
            Tim Pea says:

            Greenies might help a guy stay awake, but did they help guys hit 430 feet opposite field home runs? List off the names of guys that made it to the big leagues because of greenies. List the guys that are in the HoF because of greenies. By your standard aspirin is a PED.

          • 147
            Dalton Mack says:

            While I agree with Tim that steroids enhance more than amphetamines, the latter serves to increase counting stats as you said, Ed, but also the advanced metrics, as they give more credit for a given level of output if it’s stretched over a longer period of time (i.e. having a 110 OPS+ over 650 PA is that much more valuable than that over 500 PA). Therefore, greenies are without a doubt performance enhancing on the field and in the books.

          • 154
            Tim Pea says:

            I wonder if guys really played that much better on old amphetamines? It seems like being real jittery might not help you at the plate especially.

  20. 48
    Ed says:

    Did anyone else watch the official announcement on It seemed to me that the HOF representative was quite pissed off about no one getting elected. Obviously he couldn’t come out and say anything but that was my impression based on his tone of voice. While I would be surprised if anything changes, I do think that the HOF needs to re-examine their relationship with the BBWAA and decide if they want to continue to delegate this privilege to them. Who knows? Maybe this will be the impetus for change.

    • 70
      Hartvig says:

      Because of Dalton’s article I started rereading Bill James’s Politics of Glory last night. The level of incompetence that the BBWAA have exhibited since the very beginning is nothing short of astonishing. Perhaps the only thing more astonishing is the Hall of Fame’s willingness to stand idly by while the BBWAA does it time and again.

      • 95
        Ed says:

        In an online chat yesterday, Joe Posnanski said he’s had some discussion with the Hall of Fame and he doesn’t see them dropping their relationship with the BBWAA. He did say that it’s possible they’ll expand the number of votes allowed past the current 10. Course that only effects those who are actually using their ballot the way they should.

  21. 52
    Jimbo says:

    HOF voting should be very simple. All eligible players are on the ballot. Voters get ‘X’ number of votes. Player with most vote points gets in. 1 player per year, presumably and hopefully the best eligible player that isn’t already in.

    All these problems would go away.

    But I don’t mind the problems. The circus ridiculousness of it all is entertaining. The next years vote will be an even bigger mess, and so on. Maybe only Maddux and Griffey Jr will get in during this decade, it could happen if they don’t change the system.

    • 54
      apbadogs says:

      I like this Jimbo.

    • 59
      birtelcom says:

      HOF voting should be very simple. All eligible players are on the ballot. Voters get ‘X’ number of votes. Player with most vote points gets in. 1 player per year, presumably and hopefully the best eligible player that isn’t already in.

      Sounds like the Circle of Greats.

    • 65
      Hartvig says:

      Dalton’s post led me to break out my copy of Bill James’s Politics of Glory and start to reread it. It’s nothing short of amazing that they have been having EXACTLY these sorts of problems since the inception and have found themselves totally incapable of fixing it. And usually when they have tried to do something it’s obvious that it was a “Yeah, let’s try that!” kind of idea that someone picked out of thin air that no one had given any serious thought to.

      I don’t understand it. I assume it’s still the Clark Foundation that are pulling the strings at the Hall. I get that they want to stay in the good graces of MLB. But why exactly do they let the BBWAA keep running the show as far as voting goes when they have proven time and time and time again to be arbitrary, capricious, inept and completely incapable of policing their own members.

      This brings the old Einsteinian adage that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results into stunning focus.

    • 111
      John Autin says:

      What is the reason for limiting the number of players a HOF voter can vote for?

  22. 53
    apbadogs says:

    Every BBWAA voter should have their privileges revoked and only reinstated after they take a sanity test and pass. Do they even realize what idiots they look like?

  23. 55
    apbadogs says:

    And baseball higher ups wonder why they are looked at like a dinosaur. Baseball is dying, slowly, but it is dying. From stuff like this, to World Series games no kids (hell, adults) can stay up late enough to watch, to excruciatingly long games, delays between pitches…it’s dying folks.

  24. 63
    Mike L says:

    If you think about the “Steroid Five”: Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, McGwire, and Palmeiro, I think it’s likely Bonds and Clemens will go in together a few years from now. Writers are making a statement right now, and eventually they will collectively feel they have made enough of a statement and, like Bryant said, a Hall is quite the same without them. As for the other three, I don’t think so. I think the voters will just ignore Sosa, and continue to despise Palmeiro

    The poster boy is going to end up being McGwire-a hugely popular player who is serving penance, working hard, trying to be constructive. He’s going to be the one kept out that people will remember with regret.

    • 73
      John Autin says:

      It would be more fun if Clemens and Piazza go in together.

      • 78
        Mike L says:

        I like irony, John A. Maybe they could share a room the night before?

      • 141
        Jeff says:

        And if Clemens had a kids’ plastic bat with him, and sort of sidearmed it at Piazza’s legs while they were both on stage. Then they would both laugh.

    • 105
      birtelcom says:

      I think it is generally assumed that any PED-fueled performance increase by Roger Clemens began after his Red Sox tenure ended. It’s interesting to me that if you penalized Clemens by disqualifying his entire career after the Red Sox, his career WAR would still match the full career WARs of Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, Ferguson Jenkins, Nolan Ryan and Robin Roberts.

      • 109
        brp says:

        This is the same argument I make pro-Bonds. If you think Bonds wasn’t a HOF-caliber player during his Pirates (presumably pre-‘roid) days, you weren’t watching baseball, and the same goes for the Rocket.

        I mean, check out Bonds’ stats 1986-1998:

        That’s a HOF player already, even if you discount everything afterward. Ridiculous.

        • 144
          John Autin says:

          Well, but Joe Jackson had a HOF career before he threw the 1919 Series. Do you want him in, too?

          I’m neither pro- nor anti-Bonds, Clemens, etc. Just trying to find a consistent logical path through all the arguments.

          • 145
            e pluribus munu says:

            This is very much to the point, and I think about Jackson every year.

            I’ve become shockingly ambivalent about Jackson. Throwing the World Series – what could be worse in a baseball context? But when I think about the background labor issues, Jackson’s educational level, the question of his outstanding Series play, the fact that throwing games was probably much more common in those days than we now think . . . I’m more ambivalent about the moral/character issues than I once was. I think Landis’s ban did more than anything else to establish the seriousness of baseball’s strictures as a categorical issue of ethics, and all of us now adopt that standpoint as intuitive and universal – but the Black Sox, obviously, did their deeds on the earlier side of that line, though clearly they knew they were crossing an important line. I still wouldn’t vote for Jackson now, but if others did, I might find myself happy to follow the crowd. (My own character issue.)

            I can figure out a little more clearly where I’d draw the line with reference to Rose. I’d vote for Rose without hesitation (twenty years ago, I’d have felt differently). I thought he was a bad person when he was active (though I loved his style of play), and his violations deserved sanction, but I don’t think that what he did warrants a permanent Hall ban at all. I think that’s a confusion about the valid range and force of Landis’s standards and slippery slope arguments.

            But, as I’ve said before, I think PEDs are different: not a moral issue, but an issue of the basic meaningfulness of all statistical standards. Without statistical integrity (not absolute, but sufficient), professional baseball simply isn’t interesting to me, and the HoF becomes empty entertainment marketing.

            Interestingly – sort of – I read online that Rose actually said something similar today: ” . . . the most sacred thing in baseball is the stats. We’ve been taking stats since 1869 … and whenever you do something that can alter the statistics of the game, it’s not good for the game.” (Rose’s comments overall were so un-Rosean that I wonder whether he’s been taking EEDs: ethics enhancing drugs.)

            Bottom line, right now, I’d have an easier time voting in Shoeless Joe than Barry or the Rocket. So unlike you, John, at the moment I’m less open minded about Bonds & Co.

            At the same time, to be honest, I can’t claim to be adhering to any “consistent logical path.” If either Barry or Rocket came clean, apologized, and emulated McGuire, I feel pretty sure I’d move towards Bryan’s view @124. I don’t think I can justify that intuition rationally: it shows that I’m mixing up the stats issue with the character issue. But its also true that sometimes complex ethical problems seem most satisfyingly resolved by a hybrid of distinct ethical models, and that sort of pragmatic approach is intrinsically challenging to the criterion of strict logical consistency.

          • 164
            oneblankspace says:

            According to reports I have seen, the people who paid the Black Sox to throw the Series told them “Come on, it’s happened before.” Some have suggested the 1918 Cubs threw that Series to the Red Sox.

            Either this lifetime ban on Shoeless Joe ended when he died, or he has been granted eternal life by the powers of baseball. They wouldn’t call it a lifetime ban if it wasn’t a lifetime ban, would they?

          • 166
            John Autin says:

            epm @145 — I realize that you’re not arguing for Joe Jackson’s election. But I think the first three points you made in defense of Joe Jackson wither under scrutiny, while the fourth is especially interesting:

            – Background labor issues: Yes, Comiskey was a cheap bastard, and he may have screwed Cicotte out of a promised bonus. But were these players actually poor? Did they steal a loaf of bread, or enough to pay the rent? Were they trying to benefit anyone but themselves? No. And while they may have thought of their act as retaliating against Comiskey, it wasn’t him they stole from, it was the bettors.

            – His educational level: Do you think he didn’t know he was doing something very wrong?

            – His outstanding Series play: Once you have the narrative of which games were part of the fix and which were played on the level (after the Sox didn’t get the money they expected), and then you examine the game situations of the fixed games, Jackson’s hits therein were meaningless.

            – The frequency of throwing games, i.e., “everyone else does it”: And here we have the juicy direct parallel to Clemens/Bonds. Even the very salient point you made that the Series fix came before baseball’s attitude towards such things had been clearly established — which I mainly agree with, even though several players had received lifetime bans for “fixing” prior to Landis — also applies to steroid use, at least in the years before testing.

            So I don’t think we can let Jackson through the gates without letting the steroid class in. And I don’t think what anyone accomplished before he started cheating is relevant.

            For one thing, to make such distinctions is to presume that we actually know when Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, or anyone else started using. We don’t.

            But the bigger problem with that argument is that it ties the value judgment to the stats themselves, and not to the ethical choices players made.

            If we say that Bonds can still go in because he was obviously a HOF-caliber talent without the drugs, then what would we say of a hypothetical player who used steroids his whole career and performed at a level 50% above the HOF threshold? Would we say, well, nobody gets a 50% stats boost from ‘roids, so he must have had HOF-caliber talent without them, so into the HOF he goes?

      • 124

        In terms of rWAR, Bonds was Johnny Bench andGeorge Brett. Clemens was Jim Palmer andTom Glavine. We don’t know when either started using, but it’s reasonable to think they each had a clean Hall of Fame career and a chemically-enhanced Hall of Fame career.

  25. 64
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    Has anybody read Canseco’s book?
    One of the only honest and forward-thinking contributions to the discussion that I have read – even though I don’t necessarily agree with it all.

  26. 72
    John Autin says:

    Hey, Jim — I went over the top back there. I’m sorry. Let’s get back to our normal level of robust disagreement.

    • 76
      Thomas Court says:

      This kind of apologetic statement is exactly what is missing from almost all of the players who have been snubbed on the ballot. Clemens refuses to admit that he used steroids – despite the preponderance of evidence to the contrary. Bonds admits that while sleeping, someone must have injected steroids into his body; or that he tripped and found several syringes in his buttocks. Sammy Sosa (who hit 60+ home runs in three different seasons and didn’t even lead the league) suddenly forgot how to speak the English language when he had his chance.

      John Autin can say, “I went over the top back there. I’m sorry.”
      But no player will say, “I went over the top with this stuff. I’m sorry.”

      It’s a shame that the only player that I can think of that admitted to steroid use without being caught first is Jose Canseco. He is not the face we need to see in this argument.

      Who will be the first prominent player to admit to steroid use without being caught? When will the players who clearly gained a significant advantage by utilizing PED’s admit and apologize for it?

      I have a feeling we will be waiting a long time…
      Until then, they can pay for admission like everyone else.

      • 79
        Paul E says:


        Steroids work. Players didn’t take them to get back acne and shrunken testicles. Look at Caminiti’s OPS+ prior to age 30. Look at Bret Boone. Thay made a cartoon out of the game and a shambles of tradition. I am a longtime baseball fan (1964-my number gets called),however, Bonds , Sosa, and Clemens picked up at least an additional $80 million each for their freak show/comic strip type performances. Let them live with that.

        Excellent research somewhere- about 5 years ago – by a PhD type named / Tobin suggested increased bat spp=eed translated to 5% further batted-ball flight…..

        to hell with Manny Ramirez, too 🙁

        • 89
          Hartvig says:

          I’ve read somewhere that people who use illicit substances- from teenagers who drink alcohol to people who smoke pot to hard core drug addicts- tend to overstate the number of other people that use by a considerable margin. I remember the story speculating that it might simply be because of inference because everyone you hang around with does or as a matter of justifying their behavior or a couple of other reasons I can’t recall. It’s been a long time and I honestly don’t recall how truly scientific the whole premise of the article was but I thought it might worth throwing out there

      • 81
        MikeD says:

        Players are punished if they are suspected of taking steroids.

        Players are punished if they admit to taking steroids.

        Nothing to be gained during admitting usage. No good will is gained. Did A-Rod gain anything by admitting? No. In fact, he seems to have been hurt more than those like David Ortiz who refuse to admit. Did McGwire gain anything by admitting usage? No. His vote total actually dropped.

        • 113
          Paul E says:

          If you admit taking steroids, the speculation and the questions end. That might result in peace of mind for some people, but, obviously former major leaguers don’t feel this way….

          The young teens who felt peer pressure felt that pressure amongst their friends – 10 or 20 or so individuals. I imagine the peer pressure would be exponentially greater amongst a peer group of 700 union members. That being said, I believe it is illegal to use unprescribed steroids in the US. Perhaps their attorneys have recommended they keep quiet-statute of limitations be damned

        • 140
          Jeff says:

          I think McGwire will do better in voting as the years pass. But if he’d admitted usage earlier, it would have helped. Even now his admission is starting to feel like old news.

          Of course HOF-caliber players are hurt more by admitting steroid usage than those who are not. That makes sense since it’s such a high honor. But a good but not great player like Jason Giambi seems to be doing OK. Heck, there were rumors that he could become the Rockies’ manager this year. He seems to have rehabilitated his image quite nicely.

          • 149
            Dalton Mack says:

            With the wave of HOF-caliber players coming through, I see McGwire ending up somewhere between 5 and 10% for the next 3 ballots or so. Numbers that low will be impossible to rebound from, and aside from maybe his 15th year (if he makes it), he will likely not get 25%.

          • 156
            Bells says:

            @149 Dalton,

            I was thinking about this the other day too, and I wonder how much things will change in a couple of years when Bonds and Clemens are in. When McGwire was the only whipping boy for the steroids era on the ballot for a few years, he was left to twist in the wind. Palmeiro was easy to hate on. Bagwell was confusing. But now that the poster boys are up, in a couple of years when they do get admitted, I wonder if the narrative is going to shift to ‘let’s let ’em all in’. In a sense, the more punitive members of the BBWAA have been waiting for this year as the big chance for punishment. But after a couple of years when they (hopefully) realize there’s only so much they can do, I can see it as possible that we all settle down and start assessing people’ careers again.

            Of course, the narrative of ‘McGwire’s numbers aren’t good enough anyway’ that some voters have adopted in recent years (who I’m convinced wouldn’t have had PEDs not been an issue) could be too entrenched by then; or we could see a ‘we haven’t been fair to Big Mac’ movement emerging in about his 10th year on the ballot. All depends on the narrative and how good his supporters are at driving it… if he has supporters…

          • 158
            Ed says:

            @156 Bells I’m not optimistic that Bonds and Clemens will get in any time soon. Sure there were some voters who left them off as a one-time punishment. But many others have come out and said they’ll never vote for a PEDs user. And I have a feeling those voters will hold onto their ballots as long as they can, just so they can do everything they can to keep PEDs users out of the Hall of Fame.

            One of the things I hate is the sanctimony of the old-time players who claim they would have never used steroids had they been available. Of course they would have! We already know that lots of them used amphetamines so why should we believe them when they say they wouldn’t have used steroids. Granted, we can’t say exactly who would have used them but to pretend that earlier generations were somehow morally superior is ludicrous.

            One final point….current players are going to get a free ride because of “testing”. Even though authorities such as Victor Conte have stated that the testing is a joke and basically serves as an intelligence test (i.e., you have to be an idiot to get caught). So the writers will go ahead and happily vote in the post-testing players, and pretend like none of them have ever taken steroids.

          • 174
            Bells says:

            yeah Ed I echo your thoughts re: sanctimonious attitudes and the joke of ‘testing’. I suppose I also fear a critical mass of writers holding enough of a grudge to keep deserving players out of the HOF indefinitely, but maybe I’m optimistic that it’s just a vocal few, or that the ridiculously arbitrary moral judgements that are inherent in the problems you’ve identified in attitudes about testing indicate a vacillating group of blowhards in the BBWAA that will probably change their minds in 3 years. But your suspicions may be right.

            My personal thoughts are that a lot of the voters are probably, if you pressed them, neutral about the whole thing but are getting caught up in the narrative of delaying the honour of selection to these people who have disrespected the sanctity of the game. In a few years they’ll see how silly they’re being (clearly my opinion, pardon to everyone who disagrees with this). Then again, 36% is a long way from 75%. Next year should be interesting to see how many voters just wanted to punish Bonds & Clemens on the first ballot. I am somewhat suspicious that individual voters might end up getting caught up in a perpetual game of ‘well, I sort of would be willing to vote for Bonds, but it would be a travesty to see him honoured at the same time as a nice man like Maddux/Pedro/Griffey/etc’ every year.

  27. 85
    RJ says:

    Meanwhile, John Autin is overlooked for the Commenting Hall of Fame, despite being the sole member of the 3000 club. No word on whether Mr Autin is prepared to admit to widely suspected caffeine doping.

    • 87
      Dalton Mack says:

      Report: John Autin blames his positive test for caffeine on a tainted cup of hot chocolate from Voomo Zanzibar.

    • 88
      Doug says:


      Looks like I just passed the 2000 mark – the total of my two incarnations as commenter and commenter/writer.

      • 96
        Ed says:

        Ha! I’ve been wondering for a while if you were both Dougs! I assumed so but wasn’t sure.

      • 99
        bstar says:

        I actually thought back when two Dougs were commenting that I’d picked up on a subtle difference between the pair’s comments. I’d convinced myself the Two Dougs were two different dudes. Shows what I know!

      • 136
        Bells says:

        The real question is – do we have to take into account how much Doug’s performance was enhanced by being a writer as well as a commenter, or is the non-writer-enhanced Doug career good enough for the Hall?

    • 112
      John Autin says:

      Darn, I meant to pull a Sam Rice and retire with 2,987 … but like Schilling, I just can’t seem to shut up.

  28. 103
    Mike L says:

    Hall quiz for the HHS gang. Bill James wrote of which pitcher the following: “I wonder how many pitchers have gone (I’m deleting it, but it’s good) over three seasons. (_______) is one of the best pitchers in baseball, but his years of effectiveness are probably limited. He’s 26, but pitches more like he’s 33. He’ll run out of gas within four years, when guys like Cone and and Randy Johnson, who are older than he is, are still going strong.”

    The first hint. This is a guy we have talked about (of course) and he outlasted Cone.

    • 104
      Brooklyn Mick says:

      Michael Cole Mussina

      • 106
        Mike L says:

        A cigar to Brooklyn Mick! Reminds me to leave the quizzing to the smarter folk here. James wrote that after the 1994 season. Just a guess, but I think he was probably looking at Mussina’s SO/9 ratio.

        • 122
          Brooklyn Mick says:

          Wow! Can it be that Bill James was wrong? Just to fill in the blanks, the venerable Mr. James was referring to Mussina’s ’92-’94 seasons in which his W-L record was 48-16.

          And BTW Mike, thanks for the cigar!

  29. 107
    Chuck says:

    “It seemed to me that the HOF representative was quite pissed off about no one getting elected.”

    a) He knew no one was elected before he opened the envelope, so it wasn’t a surprise to him.

    b) That’s Jeff Idelson, the HOF President, and that’s the way he is, he talks exactly that way announcing HOFers or ordering breakfast.

  30. 118
    Brooklyn Mick says:

    Dalton, you were very close in your predictions. I must say though, that I disagree with your characterization of Bernie Williams numbers as being merely good. For an 8 year peak beginning in 1995 he compiled 39.5 WAR with a .321/.406/.531 slash line and an OPS+ of 142.

    Personally, I believe he deserved more than 3.3% of the ballot. I’m not making a case for his HOF worthiness, but if Fred McGriff gets 20.7% and Don Mattingly gets 13.2% on the same ballot, then I have to wonder what the voters are looking at.

    For the record, Adam’s Hall of Stats rankings are Mattingly (77), McGriff (92), and Bernie (92).

  31. 125
    Chuck says:

    Compared to the ecomomic impact they’ll suffer once the steriod guys start going in, this year’s affect is a drop in the ocean.

  32. 134
    Jeff Hill says:

    I have a question for everyone.

    Biggio is upset at not gaining entrance into the HOF, I get that. But is he A. A first ballot guy….NO
    B. A more worthy player than Piazza because of suspicion but no proof on Piazza?

    I always liked Biggio. Team player, always showed up, didn’t rustle the feathers in the clubhouse. I look at his career numbers and think, was he really THAT good, HOF good?

    Biggio: in 20 seasons…
    Has 4 seasons batting over .300
    4 seasons over 5 WAR(another 4 over or at 4)
    10 seasons with less than 2.6 WAR
    4 seasons over .400 OBP
    All star at 3 positions.
    JAWS has him as the 13th best 2nd baseman but all his 7 year peaks and total WAR fall under the HOF average 2nd baseman(Lou Whitaker is 11th and ISN’T a HOFamer). Are we giving Biggio all this love because he was clean? Because he only played for one team? Because he has 3,060 hits? He is 3rd all time among 2nd baseman in HR but that’s with an extra 1,800-2,000 at bats more than anyone else. He’s 10th in RBI and SB and 1st in Runs. HIs OPS is only 112 which falls way below the average HOF player. Again, are his stats padded because he played forever?

    What do you guys think?

    • 137
      Tim Pea says:

      I think Biggio is in for sure, maybe not first ballot. What about all the extra base hits and SB’s he had? He switched positions and became a multiple gold glove winner. He’s a bit of a compiler, and he’s no Joe Morgan but he deserves the Hall for sure.

    • 138
      John Autin says:

      Biggio’s offensive prime was 1992-99, 8 years, during which he ranked:

      – 1st in Runs
      – 2nd in Times On Base
      – 1st in Doubles

      He had more Total Bases and Extra-Base Hits than any 2B, SS, 3B or C.

      BTW, Jeff Hill misstated Biggio’s “10 years with less than 2.6 WAR.” Actually, it’s 8 years with *less* than 2.6 WAR — one of which was 2.5 WAR, and another was his debut year with 131 PAs.

      But to avoid cherry-picking the WAR level to either help or hurt Biggio, let’s count years with less than 2.0 WAR and at least 250 PAs for some 3,000-hit guys:
      – 8: Rose, Brock
      – 7: Murray, Yount
      – 6: Biggio, Winfield, Henderson, Yaz
      – 5: Brett, Waner, Anson

      And for some HOF 2Bs:
      – 7: Fox, McPhee
      – 6: Schoendienst
      – 5: Mazeroski, Evers

      Viewed in context, Biggio is not really unusual in this regard.

      And 2.5 or even 2.0 WAR is not exactly crap. Biggio had 13 years with 2+ WAR. Some other HOF 2Bs: Alomar and Frisch had 14; Sandberg, Herman and Gehringer 12; Doerr, Lazzeri, McPhee 11; Mazeroski 10; Fox, Gordon, Evers 9; Schoendienst 8.

      Biggio had three years of 6+ WAR — same as Alomar; more than Herman, Fox, Lazzeri, Schoendienst.

      Biggio had one year of 9+ WAR — 12 of the 18 HOF 2Bs never reached that level. Frisch did it once, LaJoie twice.

      You can slice and dice the numbers a million ways, but in my view, Biggio meets at least the median of HOF second basemen.

      Lastly … I’m not a big supporter of the automatic berth for 3,000 hits, but I sure don’t blame him for hanging around a couple extra years in pursuit. Here’s a bunch of 3,000-hit guys who were worth very little in the year they crossed the threshold; I’ll list that season, and the previous year in parentheses:
      – Boggs, -0.4 WAR (1.2)
      – Winfield, -0.1 WAR (3.8)
      – Palmeiro, 0.0 WAR (0.4)
      – Carew, 0.3 WAR (0.7)
      – Henderson, 0.4 WAR (1.0)
      – Brock, 0.5 WAR (-1.9)
      – Kaline, 0.6 WAR (0.3)
      – P.Waner, 1.0 WAR (1.2)
      – Brett, 0.2 WAR (0.2)
      – Ripken, 1.2 WAR (2.5)
      – Yount, 1.3 WAR (0.7)
      – Gwynn, 1.6 WAR (1.3)

      That’s 12 of the other 27 members — and 10 of them weren’t even worth 2 WAR the year *before* they reached 3,000. And I only looked at the bottom half of the 3,000 hits list.

      • 160
        Jeff says:

        I guess my thinking with Biggio was as a viewer, I never thought “oh crap, Biggio is up next”. Not that this statement has any merit beyond my personal thinking but I still thought that. Bagwell scared me, Piazza scared me.

        Again, loved Biggio as a player but falling somewhere in the middle of the pack with 2nd baseman yet garnering “career’ stats didn’t give me the vibe that he was a HOF player. I don’t know, just looking at his numbers overall…year by year…I don’t see a HOF player. Also, he was a terrible playoff performer which others(i. e. Jack Morris) are rewarded for being so great at. Shouldn’t he be judged fairly from that standpoint as well?

        Playoff numbers .234/.295/.323 2hr, 11rbi, 2SB in 40 games…That’s flat out awful.

        • 161
          John Autin says:

          Jeff, I’m not trying to hound you into submission. But when you say: “I never thought “oh crap, Biggio is up next”, you’re talking about only one side of the game, and then one particular aspect of that side (albeit a very important one).

          Sure, Piazza was a scary hitter. But as a Mets fan, I often thought, “Oh, crap, they’re going to steal on Piazza for sure.” And, “Oh, crap, Piazza won’t score on that single.” And “Oh, crap, Piazza’s gonna get doubled up on that grounder.”

          Nobody ever thought Biggio was the equal of Piazza when standing in the batter’s box. But in every other phase of the game, he was better. Is it not possible that all of those other advantages add up to him being just as impactful, game by game, as Piazza?

          • 169
            Jeff says:

            Speed kills for sure in Baseball and Biggio had plenty but Piazza was arguably one of the top 3 hitters in the game for a decade…at catcher. Base stealing Biggio by far wins there and advancing on the bases as well.

            Piazza had a career DWAR of +1, Biggio is a -3.8 so we can throw defense out the window. I also believe that Piazza gets a bad rap for being a bad defensive catcher which isn’t true.

            My biggest thing is this, Biggio was never pitched around because he wasn’t a big threat. Pitchers/managers would rather face the leadoff man than the three hitter for multiple reasons. Players like Biggio got better pitches due to this, look at Bonds entire career(anyone in front of him thrived…Rich Aurilia or whoever).

            Piazza is an all time great AND had several seasons that just seem impossible at catcher(97 in particular). Biggio, not so much. Biggio was never even the best player on his own team. Love the guy and his talent, I’m just not totally sold on his HOF status.

          • 173
            bstar says:

            Jeff, it seems like your opinion of Biggio revolves around the fact that he wasn’t a power hitter. How many leadoff hitters get pitched around?

            I think enough has been said about Biggio’s accomplishments already. I would also say that even though you don’t think he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer, over two-thirds of HOF voters did. I’d wager if a poll were taken on here about a yes/no vote for Biggio this year on this site, the percentage would have been much higher.

    • 157
      Doug says:

      If Biggio had not moved in mid-career from one of the worst hitters’ parks to one of the best, then almost certainly he would not have reached 3000 hits, would be just over 200 HR instead of almost 300, etc. and then possibly the writers are not even giving him serious consideration (though that also would have been lamentable).

      To see what a change those parks made, consider that Biggio had 78 stolen bases his last two years in the Astrodome (age 32-33) and 68 for the rest of his career (8 more seasons). Of course he was getting older, but the larger factor was “what’s the point of stealing bases when you’re playing in a band box?”.

      That being said, perhaps his final counting totals are about what he would have had playing in more neutral parks for his career – ergo, there may be some justice in changing his park from one extreme to another.

      • 159
        Ed says:

        Biggio’s career OPS in the Astrodome: .813
        Biggio’s career OPS in Minute Maid Park: .819

        • 165
          Doug says:

          You forgot to mention OPS+.

          Astrodome: 124
          Minute Maid: 95

          His counting stats would have been down significantly had Biggio remained in the Astrodome his whole career.

      • 167
        bstar says:

        So what, Doug? Wade Boggs wouldn’t have gotten 3000 hits had he not played at Fenway most of his career. Mel Ott wouldn’t have come close to 500 HR had he not played at the Polo Grounds for so many years.

        There’s sooo many other examples.

        Is Biggio really one of those guys who greatly benefited from an extreme home field advantage over the majority of his career? The numbers say no.

        Biggio’s career home/road tOPS+ split is 106/94 for home/road. That’s not a fantastically huge advantage. He has fewer than 100 more hits at home than on the road. He has more career road HR than home ones.

        Looking at his career year-by-year park factors, here’s a non-weighted average for Biggio’s career:

        1-yr park factor avg: 98.7
        multi-yr park factor avg: 98.5

        Sure, his last years at Minute Maid helped push him over the edge of 3000, but when taking all of his years in the Astrodome into account, it doesn’t appear a home field advantage over his entire career had much to do with Biggio’s accomplishments.

        • 170
          Doug says:

          All true, bstar.

          I certainly wasn’t claiming that Biggio was unique in getting help from a favorable park to reach a career milestone. Nor that, for his whole career, he was aided by his home park. Quite the contrary, in fact, as Biggio played his best years and the largest part of his career in the Astrodome, a fact indicated by the stats you presented showing a lack of any pronounced career “home field advantage” (which likely wouldn’t have been an advantage at all, slight or otherwise, without the move to Minute Maid.

          The only point I was making is that, without the Minute Maid boost, Biggio likely wouldn’t have reached 3000 and therefore some voters would be giving him even less consideration because of it. Just as those same voters give a pass on Tim Raines because he hit only .295 for his career instead of .300 (no doubt there are other similarly egregious voting biases).

          • 172
            Ed says:

            I’m not sure that’s true Doug. Biggio’s batting average was actually higher in the Astrodome than in Minute Maid. So it doesn’t seem like his getting 3,000 hits was really dependent on switching ballparks.

    • 162
      BryanM says:

      On the question of a) was Craig Biggio good enough to deserve to be in the hall of fame on the merits of his play — absolutely, not even close. Your best middle infielders bat near the top of the order, score runs, and play good enough defense to prevent them CB did that for ,like forever plus he played many positions competently at ML level – always a plus for team wins.
      b) was he clean ? dunno, but there is no overwhelming consensus he was not
      c) will the BBWAA elect him , hard to say

    • 163
      BryanM says:

      Jeff – l see I left my previous comment at the wrong place in the thread , so I’ll just note here that Biggio ‘s greatness consisted in being very good at everything, which is sometimes less easy to relate to than being superb at one thing (like hitting) . FWIW Bill James rated him fifth all time at the position , he’s been wrong before , but the man does know baseball

  33. 135
    Chuck says:

    The mistake is assuming Biggio was clean…

    I remember back on the old BR blog the first year Raines didn’t get in, some people were all up in arms, saying if Raines had averaged ten more hits a year he’d have 3000 and would be in the HOF.

    That’s how I look at Biggio..200 fewer hits and he would have been in the 30% range, and would have little to no chance of ever getting in..just like Raines now.

    3000 hits or not, I’d never vote for him.

  34. 146
    Dalton Mack says:

    Heh. Checking in two days after writing this, the discussion went mostly as expected–a back-and-forth about steroids–which is fine. It certainly defined this ballot.

  35. 151
    AlvaroEspinoza says:

    Great article.

    But, I don’t remember McGwuire coming “clean”.

    He orchestrated a PR stunt in which he claimed to do very low doses only to come back from injury and that it didn’t help him hit home runs.

    Let’s not praise that type of honestly.

  36. 153
    Mike L says:

    Here’s the link to the ESPN story on McGwire’s admissions. PR and a way to work his way back into the game in a productive manner? Sure, but looks like he was trying to do the right thing.
    On a comparative basis, is McGwire, who juiced when it was tolerated, worse than Manny, who did it after?

    • 155
      Paul E says:

      Mike L.:
      Actually, Manny probably did it BEFORE and after testing. McGwire was out of baseball prior to testing (No?) and there is no way of knowing if he would have conquered his magic potion addiction

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