Circle of Greats 1964 Ballot

This post is for voting and discussion of the fifth round of voting for the Circle of Greats, which adds players born in 1964. Rules and lists are after the jump.

As always, each ballot must include three and only three eligible players. The one player who appears on the most ballots cast in the round is inducted into the Circle of Greats.  Players who fail to win induction but appear on half or more of the ballots cast win four future rounds of ballot eligibility. Players who appear on 25% or more of the ballots, but less than 50%, earn two years of extended eligibility.  Any other player in the top 9 (including ties) in ballot appearances (or who appear on at least 10% of the ballots) wins one additional round of ballot eligibility.

All voting for this round closes at 11:59 PM EST on Saturday, January 19th, while changes to previously cast ballots are allowed until 11:59 PM EST Thursday, January 17th.

If you’d like to follow the vote tally, and/or check to make sure I’ve recorded your vote correctly, you can see my ballot-counting spreadsheet for this round here: 1964 COG Vote Tally . I’ll be updating the spreadsheet periodically with the latest votes. Initially, there is a row for every voter who has cast a ballot in any of the past rounds, but new voters are entirely welcome — new voters will be added to the spreadsheet as their ballots are submitted. Also initially, there is a column for each of the holdover players; additional player columns from the born-in-1964 group will be added as votes are cast for them.

Choose your three players from the lists below of eligible players. The holdovers are listed in order of the year through which they are assured eligibility, and alphabetically when the eligibility year is the same. The 1964 birth year guys are listed in order of the number of seasons they played in the majors, and alphabetically among players with the same number of seasons played.

John Smoltz (eligible through 1960)
Tom Glavine (1962)
Mike Mussina (1962)
Curt Schilling (1962)
Craig Biggio (1963)
Roberto Alomar (1964)
Kevin Brown (1964)
Kenny Lofton (1964)
Larry Walker (1964)

Everyday Players (born in 1964, ten or more seasons played in the major leagues):
Barry Bonds
Rafael Palmeiro
Barry Larkin
Mark McLemore
B.J. Surhoff
Ellis Burks
Lenny Harris
Jose Canseco
Stan Javier
Tom Prince
Mark Grace
Ozzie Guillen
Chad Kreuter
Dave Martinez
Brady Anderson
Jay Buhner
Will Clark
Joe Girardi
Roberto Kelly
Kevin Elster
Darryl Hamilton
Tom Lampkin
Mike Macfarlane
Craig Grebeck
Jeff Huson
Pete Incaviglia
Jeff Reboulet
Billy Ripken
Thomas Howard
Jeff King
Nelson Liriano
Luis Rivera
Chris Gwynn
Trent Hubbard
Keith Lockhart
Eddie Williams

Pitchers:(born in 1964, ten or more seasons played in the major leagues)
Kenny Rogers
Roberto Hernandez
Michael Jackson
Mike Fetters
Dwight Gooden
Bret Saberhagen
Bobby Witt
John Burkett
Rick Reed
Kevin Tapani
John Habyan
Mitch Williams
Rich DeLucia
Scott Kamieniecki
David West

349 thoughts on “Circle of Greats 1964 Ballot

  1. 1
    birtelcom says:

    To check the stats for any player eligible this round, you need merely click on his name above — that will take you to the b-ref site for that player. That’s courtesy of b-ref’s “player linker” function. Unfortunately, the linker links the name Roberto Hernandez to the Roberto Hernandez who was born in 1980 — the long time good-and-bad starter for the Indians who was signed out of free agency by the Rays last month. We are not voting on him. To get to the Roberto Hernandez who was born in 1964, and had over 1,000 major league relief appearances (11th most all-time) from 1991 through 2007, here’s the link:

  2. 2
    e pluribus munu says:

    Oh. Barry Bonds. I’m multiply on record at HHS declaring that I would not now vote for flagrant PEDers for the Hall. There were years when much of my baseball watching consisted of turning on the TV when I calculated Bonds would be coming to the plate, then turning it back off after I saw a boatman scoop up the ball. Without chemical assistance, those balls would have easily been caught by fans in the stands. Apart from raising my electricity bill on false pretenses, imagine all the fuel expended on fraud by those gullible boaters – and in an age of global warming! So I’m not ready to put Bonds in Cooperstown. However, birtelcom has not contracted to construct the Circle of Greats in Cooperstown. So:

    Bonds, Smoltz, Lofton

    (It’s entirely HHS’s fault that I toss through the night dreaming of Lofton stalking the Hall crying, They done me wrong!)

  3. 3
    Jeff Harris says:

    Smoltz, Glavine, Schilling

  4. 4
    Ed says:

    Alomar (my preferred candidate of those with only one year of eligibility left)
    Larkin (don’t think he’ll have problems staying on the ballot but I have to do my part to make sure)

  5. 5
    Mike says:

    Larry Walker

  6. 6
    Mike says:

    John Smoltz
    Craig Biggio
    Larry Walker

    Stacked ballot. What to do with Bonds, Palmeiro and Kruetwr.

  7. 7
    The Diamond King says:

    Bonds, Smoltz, Glavine

  8. 8
    birtelcom says:

    The journeyman outfielder Trent Hubbard is on the ballot this round. So far as I can tell, Hubbard and Jungle Jim Rivera (the speedy starting outfielder for the White Sox throughout most of the 1950s, whose career in organized baseball had to await his release from prison at age 27) are the only two men in MLB history to play in the majors every season from age 30 through 39 but not in any other season.

    • 91
      Richard Chester says:

      birtelcom: I did a PI search on the matter and I found no player (other than Hubbard and Rivera) who played 10 years and only in his 30s.

      • 96
        birtelcom says:

        Thanks for checking. Unlike Rivera, who was quite a prominent player (first quite controversial and later very popular and charismatic), Hubbard seems to have left very little trace. Played for nine MLB teams in ten seasons, ended with a career WAR of -0.4, never had any season in which his WAR was more than 0.8 or less than -0.8. I count 35 transactions listed for him in the transactions section of his b-ref page. If the concept of “replacement level player” did not already exist, we might have needed to invent it for Trent Hubbard.

    • 95
      John Autin says:

      Wow, I’d never heard of Trent Hubbard. Minor-league totals include 1,864 hits and 491 steals.

      Out of 203 position players all-time who played every year from age 30-39, Trent Hubbard is the only one with less than 500 career games.

  9. 9
    Phil says:

    Bonds, Alomar, Glavine. C’mon, people—if I understand the rules correctly, this is Alomar’s last chance.

    • 10
      birtelcom says:

      Well, “last chance” in the sense that he (like Lofton, Walker and Brown, and all those in the 1964 class) needs to finish in the top nine in ballot appearances this round in order to remain eligible beyond this round.

    • 74
      brp says:


      Shout-out to my boy Mark Grace, my all-time favorite ballplayer. However, I have more integrity than the BBWAA and won’t cast an Aaron Sele vote for him. All you single guys, go find a slumpbuster in honor of Gracey. ( Eventually I’ll vote for a pitcher, I swear.

      Bonds, Biggio, Walker.

      Thinking I may quit wasting 2 votes on Biggio & Walker but not quite this round.

  10. 11
    Alex Putterman says:

    Bonds, Glavine, Mussina

  11. 12
    Mike says:

    John Smoltz
    Craig Biggio
    Larry Walker

    Stacked ballot. What to do with Bonds, Palmeiro (PEDs) and “greats” like Chad Krueter?

  12. 13
    Mike says:

    Sorry for multiples. I kept getting an error message.

  13. 14
    Brandon says:

    Smoltz, Larkin, and as much as I’d like to leave him off I just can’t bring myself to leave him off…Bonds

  14. 15
    Nick Pain says:

    Bonds, Biggio, Schilling

  15. 16
    Andy says:

    Bonds, Schilling, Mussina

  16. 17
    Bells says:

    As a thought exercise, I decided to ask myself how I could ‘punish’ Bonds from a purely statistical and technical standpoint. About the harshest thing I could think of would be to just discard Bonds 1999-2007 (of course, McGwire et al were ‘using’ before then so who knows how far back it goes, but Bonds’ insanity at the plate happened after 1999). So, even though it’s entirely likely that a ‘clean’ Bonds would have provided SOME value, let’s just say he provided none for those 9 seasons, based on a technical ‘he broke the rules so let’s discard his results’ standpoint (of course, the rules and what you could get away with were nebulous for awhile, so it’s a fool’s errand, really – still, thought exercise). He’s left with a career from 1986-1998 that includes:

    1898 Games
    1917 Hits
    411 HRs
    445 SBs
    .290 BA, .966 OPS, 164 OPS+
    3 MVP awards

    Those numbers alone stack up quite favourably to Frank Thomas, our most recent inductee, and that’s not even thinking of his defence. WAR-wise, Bonds 1986-1998 had 96.9, which of course blows away Thomas and anyone else who we’ve elected sans Maddux. If I want to be mean and punish Barry further as a general ‘you took drugs and I don’t know for how long!’ statement, maybe I could take away his best year from 1986-1998, which is 1993 where he had 9.7 WAR. That still leaves him with 87.2 WAR, which is still more than 9 WAR better than the next highest on the ballot, Mussina. A full, MVP-calibre season ahead of the next highest player, even assessing less than 2/3 of his career from a GP standpoint. Yikes.

    All this is to say that if you’re gonna vote based on stats alone, it’s impossible to look past Bonds. Perhaps we all knew this, but I’ve never focused on his numbers that clearly so this puts it in perspective for me how goddamn good he was. Which of course makes it unfortunate that he was a jerk, that he juiced, etc, because what an incredibly gifted baseball talent.

    Not ready to vote for 3 yet, but I think I convinced myself that he’ll be one.

    • 23
      bstar says:

      Not that it matters much, Bells, but unless I’m mistaken 1999, not 1998, was Bonds’ last clean year.

      • 32
        Bells says:

        Yeah, I am of that belief as well, but I guess I picked 1998 as an endpoint because of what happened in baseball that year with McGwire and Sosa – it fits the narrative in my head better that Bonds was like ‘screw these guys for getting attention, I’m gonna do what they do’ after that year. The numbers certainly seem to point to 2000 as the turning point, not 1999. But either way, this is a pretty arbitrary exercise, in terms of both knowing when he started and knowing what his motivations were – I was just sorta showing myself how good the guy was.

      • 88
        Gootch7 says:

        Newbie here…. been reading forever but decided to just pop in on the Circle of Greats discussion.

        Bonds only played 102 games in 1999. His ex-girlfriend Kimberly Bell testified in court that he told her he blew out his elbow because of steroids.

    • 68
      BryanM says:

      Interesting dilemma; Bonds was a great, great player ..and then there’s PEDs For the HOF , issues of punishing arise, because he wants in, and they are “honoring the dishonorable” for us, IMHO, the greatness triumphs easily, your math above confirming it – I don’t think Barry recognizes the authority of our little court, so he’s hard to punish. So for me
      Bonds – can’t stand the guy
      Schilling – no comment
      Larry Walker — i flipped a coin and Mussina (heads) lost .

  17. 18
    qx says:

    Barry Bonds, Craig Biggio, Barry Larkin

  18. 19
    Gary Bateman says:

    Bonds, Alomar, Mussina

  19. 20
    ATarwerdi96 says:

    Barry Bonds, Curt Schilling, John Smoltz

  20. 21
    latefortheparty says:

    Barry Bonds
    Larry Walker
    Mike Mussina

    I’m guessing it’s now or bust for Larry Walker. I accept this will probably be the last stand for Kenny Lofton. I want Schilling to stick around long enough to get in. However, to thoroughly mix my metaphorical cliches, this dance card is getting so full someone very deserving is going to get voted off the island.

  21. 22
    Tom says:

    Bonds, Mussina, Schilling

  22. 24
    Scott Horsfield says:

    Barry Bonds, Larry Walker, John Smoltz

  23. 25
    bstar says:

    Bonds, Glavine, Schilling

  24. 26
    Doug says:

    Bonds, Mussina, Walker

  25. 27
    Mike HBC says:

    Despite my hardcore Braves fandom, I will eventually stop supporting both Smoltz and Glavine. I know there will eventually be plenty of candidates who I will feel should be in the top three.

    But not this time. Glavine, Smoltz, Barry Larkin. There ya go.

    Also, all of this “strategic voting” stuff is ridiculous. If you believe Alomar or Schilling or whoever is deserving (as I did for Jim Abbott when I was the only person who voted for him), support them; if you don’t, don’t. It’s not as if continually coming in 7th or 8th means Larry Walker will eventually win once we get to 1938.

    • 29
      Mike HBC says:

      …And for the record, that last remark is in no way aimed at anyone in particular; indeed, I feel like one in every six votes is some odd “strategic” vote, so I couldn’t possibly aim it at any individual.

    • 38
      birtelcom says:

      There are lots of ways to decide who to vote for, all of them legitimate. If several guys are already safe for the next few rounds, it is perfectly acceptable to use one’s ballot spots for guys who one believes deserve a continuing chance. Just because the ballot is limited to three spots doesn’t mean one can’t vote with more than just three spots in mind. More than three guys are likely to deserve induction in any particular year, and keeping that in mind in voting is appropriate.

      • 93
        Mike HBC says:

        But it’s only worth giving someone a continuing chance if you think they HAVE a chance. Obviously, if you think someone should be in the top three, then I’m not going to argue with your rationale. But Kenny Lofton- a player I’ve always loved, for the record- is never going to win. He’s never going to come remotely close to winning. So if you’re voting for Kenny Lofton not because you feel he is one of the three best choices, but because you want to keep him around for another meaningless year, you’re just wasting your vote.

        Of course, that’s simply my opinion. To each, his own.

  26. 28
    Michael Sullivan says:

    Given the criteria of 1/year, Bonds is the only guy from 1964 that clearly belongs. Larkin is clear for the real hall, but at best borderline for this circle, plus I think he’ll get some support this year. There are a few pitchers on the new list I think should have gotten a real look for the regular hall, but all are pretty clearly short of a 100-120 player hall, so I won’t feel bad if they fall off the ballot next week.

    I like Brown and Walker, but I’m not really sure they belong in this hall, and it’s starting to look like Mussina and Schilling might not make it, depending on how the votes roll out, so I’m going to push them hard until I see players on the fresh ballot who are at least similarly deserving.

    That makes this a very natural and not strategic vote. I think exactly three players on the current ballot belong in the COG, and that’s who I’m voting for:

    Bonds, Schilling, Mussina

  27. 30
    Artie Z. says:

    Barry Bonds, Barry Larkin, and Roberto Alomar

    Bonds and Larkin knock Moose off of my ballot. I know I prefer Larkin to Alomar, and back when Alomar and Moose were first on the ballot I picked Alomar over Moose so I’m sticking with it. Supposing Bonds and Clemens don’t get a big backlash, I’m guessing the next election up for grabs is 1961 as I see 1964: Bonds; 1963: Unit; 1962: Clemens. The best pitchers born in 1961 are Jimmy Key and … Tim Belcher. The best position players are Mattingly and Galarraga.

  28. 31
    Atlcrackersfan says:


  29. 33
    Mike G. says:

    Bonds, Mussina, Walker

  30. 34
    Insert Name Here says:

    As I did last time, I’m going to make an initial vote based on my method for determining the top three (using primarily WAR/162 games during a series of 5+ “peak” seasons, along with a series of tiebreakers), and make any strategic changes later. Additionally, I am not considering PED users Bonds, Palmeiro, and Canseco, although I admire Canseco for uncovering many other ‘roiders.

    That said, and after running my method on all these players I end up with the same vote as last round:

    1. Curt Schilling (7.3 WAR/162 (raised after adjustment for relief season) during 6-yr peak of 2001-06)
    2. Kevin Brown (7.4 WAR/162 during 6-yr peak of 1995-2000)
    3. Larry Walker (6.6 WAR/162 during 12-yr peak of 1992-2003)

    If I could complete a full 10-man ballot, I would also include:

    4. Barry Larkin (6.6 WAR/162 during 12-yr peak of 1988-99)
    5. Kenny Lofton (6.5 WAR/162 during 8-yr peak of 1992-99)
    6. Bret Saberhagen (6.5 WAR/162 during 7-yr peak of 1985-91)
    7. Mike Mussina (6.0 WAR/162 during 12-yr peak of 1992-2003)
    8. John Smoltz (5.6 WAR/162 during 5-yr peak of 1995-99; 4.5 WAR/162 (raised after adjustment for relief seasons) during 2nd 5-yr peak of 2003-07)
    9. Craig Biggio (5.6 WAR/162 during 9-yr peak of 1991-99)
    10. Will Clark (5.9 WAR/162 during 5-yr peak of 1987-91)
    Honorable Mentions for Roberto Alomar and Tom Glavine.

    • 82
      Bells says:

      Hey INH, nothing much to say in terms of debate or commentary, but I just wanted to give you a shout-out that I enjoy reading your detailed analysis/methodology each round, gives me a different statistical perspective on these ballplayers to think of the peaks you describe above. And anything that recognizes the (in my opinion) underrated Brown, Walker, Lofton and Saberhagen in the top 6 is pretty good by me.

      • 114
        Insert Name Here says:

        Thanks, Bells!

        I guess I decided to lay it out like this because I found myself annoyed that most voters seem to just lay down their three with no explanation. I mean, if that’s what someone wants to do, they have every prerogative to do it, but I personally would rather have the reader know why I’m making my vote if it’s an open ballot.

        Also, it’s an easy way for me to keep track of how I rank the players if/when I go to make any strategic changes. 😉

    • 250
      Insert Name Here says:

      This is about where I would make a strategic change.

      Before I do so, I would like to comment that the lack of support for Kevin Brown is APPALLING. If I could vote for him three times, I would, and be sure that I will support him in the “redemption round” or whatever it’s going to be called.

      That said, I can now address my change. I was considering throwing in a vote for Lofton or Saberhagen, but either would likely hinder Brown’s chances, so I won’t do that. I’d also like to keep my vote for Walker to ensure that he makes the next ballot, and help support him for the 2-round extension of finishing with 25% (which he just might do). Therefore, I’m going to drop my vote for Schilling (who appears to be locked into the 2-round extension) for Barry Larkin, who is also struggling for that 2-round extension.

      Final vote: Kevin Brown, Larry Walker, Barry Larkin.

      • 261
        Ed says:

        INH: You said that the lack of support for Kevin Brown was appalling. And you also said you weren’t considering PEDs users. Just want to point out that Brown was mentioned quite prominently in the Mitchell report.

        • 264
          Insert Name Here says:

          Ed – I am aware that Brown was mentioned in the Mitchell Report. However, I also take an “innocent until proven guilty” approach. Based on the evidence available, I don’t consider Brown guilty at this time (Are we really supposed to trust Kirk Radomski and various hearsay claims?).

          Also, you yourself (and, unfortunately, many others) voted for Barry Bonds, who was found guilty for obstruction of justice for his testimony regarding BALCO. Bonds is one of the few that I would never vote for because I consider them to be proven users.

  31. 35
    PP says:

    Bonds, Mussina, Glavine

    (I’m not voting for Mussina or Glavine after ’61 when one of them might get in)

  32. 36
    Dr. Doom says:


    I love/hate how deep these ballots are getting…

  33. 37
    Mike L says:

    Mussina, Glavine and Larkin
    I’m not ready for Bonds yet, and if I not ready for him, I’m not ready for any credibly suspected PED user.

    • 39
      Insert Name Here says:

      I agree… and I think it’s unfortunate that we’ve just opened this round, and Bonds has a HUGE lead. We’re now looking at a situation where two of our first four COG members are ‘roiders (Bonds and Piazza, although Piazza did it before it was banned). I know everyone seems to hate Curt Schilling (I do as well, mostly for what he did to my home state of Rhode Island), but at least Schilling didn’t do something to harm baseball.

      • 66
        Dr. Doom says:

        I’m not asking this in a snarky way, but as a serious question. I’ve heard the argument many times that steroid users “harmed baseball.” But I don’t understand how. The game is healthier than ever in terms of attendance, and it seems to be getting better coverage. There’s more access for fans with websites like this one. I’ve met more and more people my age (mid-20s) who are disillusioned with the NFL’s relentless self-promotion, and who are turning more to baseball for their sports fix, INSTEAD of football. I just don’t see HOW the game has been harmed. So please explain it to me.

        • 69
          BryanM says:

          The same way that the tour de France has been harmed as a sport;cheating renders the contest less meaningful and makes a mockery of the honest efforts of those who didn’t cheat- the fact that it may not have been harmed as a business,as you attempt to show, for the same reason that Lindsey Lohan remains popular – is neither here nor there, unless your only interest in baseball is financial.

          • 84
            Bells says:

            Speaking as someone who has followed the Tour de France and cycling throughout the years (god, is this gonna get me beat up on this site to admit that?) I think the comparison is apt – namely, to answer Dr. Doom’s question, the concerns about ‘cheaters’ ‘harming’ the sport is less about the utilitarian impact of ‘how many people follow the sport now’ and more about the retroactive impact on people who were already fans. Part of being a sports fan is this childish sense of dreaming big, of achieving things on the highest level vicariously through sporting idols. The sense of innocence that goes along with that somewhat naive hope that sporting idols will achieve these things while holding to the same simple moral framework that we hold to in our daily lives is probably pretty important to a lot of people, no matter how deeply its buried or how much they’ll admit it. So when the illusion is shattered, on some level it harms people’s memory of the sport, tarnishes what happened and the feelings they got while watching it.

            Anyway, I’ve gone through my own divorce process with that moral line of thinking, and although I can ‘like’ Honus Wagner more than I ‘like’ Ty Cobb, I can be fascinated by the achievements of both, and be interested in both as historical figures, regardless of who was morally better. I believe I can do that with athletes whose morals more directly affected how they behaved within the rules of the game with regards to PEDs, and appreciate the contributions of both Maddux and Bonds. But looking at the cringe-worthy death march to 756 (and eventually 762), I can’t deny that I think the controversy surrounding Bonds ‘harmed’ what should have been a somewhat magical celebration of a mythical achievement.

            Aaand, I’m still gonna vote for him, and would if I had a vote for the Hall of Fame.

          • 136
            Dr. Doom says:

            While I don’t disagree with all of the arguments you all put forward, I DO disagree with the moralizing. It’s pointless. If someone told you you could make millions of extra dollars by taking a pill, you’d probably do it. And if you didn’t, a bunch of other people would. That wouldn’t make them bad people. That would make them people who look for an advantage, when there wasn’t a clear-cut punishment for engaging in that behavior. They did something stupid, and made a mistake. But I refuse to believe that my childhood baseball heroes are just these AWFUL human beings who ruined what was once a pristine game. They’re human beings who did something stupid. Just as many human beings do stupid things all the time. I’m pretty willing to forgive on that count. Baseball is a beautiful game played by extremely flawed people, many of whom look for an edge, legal or otherwise. That has always been and probably will always be the case. And while we don’t need to celebrate the flaws of those men who have done that with which we do not agree, neither do we have to condemn them without mercy. But that’s my take.

          • 140
            Mike L says:

            Dr. Doom. I’m not moralizing. I told you I was being selfish. I liked the excitement of the old milestones, and, as I said, for a smaller person, I like the illusion that there were people on the field who weren’t that different from me. I can’t answer the question of whether I’d take the pill. That’s the Faustian Bargain that everyone has to decide for himself. I find it difficult to equate the juicer’s accomplishments to the non-juicer. Others can decide for themselves.

          • 141
            e pluribus munu says:

            Doom, I agree with you entirely about the moral aspects of this, I just don’t see this as a moral issue. What PED users hopelessly damaged was the meaningfulness of the game’s statistical history, which is far more central to baseball than to any other sport. What are we supposed to make of the single season home run record, for example? The legitimate holder of perhaps the highest profile record in baseball is Roger Maris, and how many twelve year-old fans even know who he is now, or will ever care? That’s irreparable damage, and it’s replicated throughout the statistical spectrum – which is the basis we use for selecting players for the Hall. What has the Hall come to if we elect people by guessing what their record should look like (he still wore a size 7 1/2 hat in 1996, so those stats are in . . .)?

            I wrote on some other string that when it comes to issues of character, I think Pete Rose may be more problematic than the PED crew. But I’m all for Rose in the Hall — along with Ty and Cap and a bunch of other guys I wouldn’t want to shake hands with. I’d love to shake McGuire’s hand, but not in the Hall.

            I voted for Bonds in birtelcom’s Circle because it’s make believe, like Bonds’ records. But the Hall isn’t.

          • 147
            Ed says:

            Dr. Doom – In my opinion you are wise beyond your years. My problem with the anti-PEDs crowd is that I have yet to see a logically consistent argument put forward against the PEDs users.

            1) Some claim that it’s about “unnatural enhancement”. But these same people don’t seem concerned about baseball players getting LASIK eye surgery, many of whom are getting their vision enhanced beyond the 20-20 level. So it can’t really be about unnatural enhancement.

            2) Some claim it’s about “the cheating”. But that can’t really be true either cause these same people don’t seem to care about Gaylord Perry cheating or about corked bats or about amphetamines (which baseball outlawed as early as 1971).

            3) Perhaps it’s about steroids being dangerous. But then again amphetamines are far more dangerous than steroids and the anti-PEDs crowd seems rather blase about the dangers of amphetamines.

            Meanwhile, the anti-PEDs crowd seems hellbent on punishing players only from one particular era (and in some cases, only certain players and not others). Bill James is quite certain that steroid use in baseball dates to at least the 70s and possibly as early as the 60s. And Victor Conte has made it clear that steroid use is continuing at a fairly high rate in baseball. But the anti-PED crowd seems strangely disinterested in steroid use before or after the “steroid era”.

            There’s also this…Devin Dignam at Wages of Wins has made the rather cogent point that the fewer people taking PEDs, the more of an advantage those players have other their peers. If basically everyone is taking PEDs (as they supposedly were in the PEDs era) then there’s not much of an advantage.


            In the end, even Bill James himself seems confused. He recently said that if he had a HOF ballot, he would have voted for Clemens and McGwire but not for Bonds because in his opinion Bonds “made a farce of the game”. Whatever that’s supposed to mean.

          • 148
            Artie Z says:

            This is meant to be a serious question. Many people have voted for John Smoltz in this Circle of Greats. John Smoltz will likely get many votes from the BBWAA when he becomes eligible for HOF voting. I haven’t voted for Smoltz in the Circle of Greats because I haven’t thought he’s one of the top 3 players on any ballot, but I can see the arguments for him.

            John Smoltz’ “natural” career ended, for all intents and purposes, in 1999, the same way that Tommy John’s “natural” career ended in 1974. Smoltz and John (and many, many others – signaling those two out because Smoltz is on the ballot and Tommy John … well, the procedure is named after him) went through a process that is entirely unnatural. A surgeon (or team of surgeons) takes a body part from one part of their body and transplants it into another part. Smoltz and John certainly did the rehab and hard work necessary to be successful after the surgery, but their careers should have been over long before there was debate about whether they should be in the HOF – they should have been Herb Score’s. It’s not like a doctor set a broken bone and it healed – they are, to use some hyperbole, Frankenpitchers. Why is this method of “getting better” acceptable but PEDs not? What if the body part was transplanted from another person – say John Smoltz got Nolan Ryan’s tendon? Is that acceptable?

            Or LASIK? What is natural about that? For that matter, glasses and contacts – what are “natural” about those? People who use those are seeking to correct a flaw, a flaw that will keep them from being as successful as they could be. They are NOT using their naturally endowed abilities, and are thus gaining an advantage. Why is it PEDs that are the only thing viewed as “unnatural”?

          • 149
            Artie Z says:

            Did not see Ed’s post – he must have been typing it while I was typing mine. Apparently he and I share some of the same views.

          • 151
            birtelcom says:

            The distinction between Lasik or TJ surgery on the one hand and steroid use on the other is that the latter was a violation of baseball rules. It’s true that until a testing and suspension regime began a few years into the current millennium, the steroids rules were essentially unenforced. But they were still rules. That players hid their steroid use from the public and denied such use in public confirms the distinction – nobody hides or denies Tommy John surgery. (Whether steroid use should in fact be allowed in the same way as Tommy John surgery, or whether Tommy John surgery should be banned the same way steroid use is banned are separate questions).

            There is a real distinction between Gaylord Perry-type cheating and PED-use type cheating. What Perry was doing in doctoring the ball was something that in theory can be caught on the field by the umpires. From that perspective, throwing illegal pitches is like an outfielder pretending to catch a liner when he really trapped it. Trying to out-fox the umpires on the field is a very traditional part of baseball (and other major team sports, though not golf and until relatively recently not tennis). PED use, in contrast, is cheating off the field in a manner that is not susceptible to being caught by vigilant umpires, and is thus arguably less a legitimate part of the game than, say, a pitcher risking ejection by using sleight-of-hand to sandpaper a baseball, or a catcher pulling an out-of-the-zone pitch back into the strike zone to try to get a strike call from the umpire.

            I’m not arguing here for keeping anybody in particular out of the Hall of Fame or the COG, just pointing out that there are logical distinctions one can make that could support such an argument.

          • 153
            Voomo Zanzibar says:

            I read in Al Stump’s (2nd) Tyrus Cobb biography about a game in which Cobb hit for the cycle in the minors, and then hit a 2nd homerun, a low liner that just cleared the wall in left. The leftfielder kept a ball in his back pocket, however, and feigned the catch, then ran in, as it was the third out. There was only one ump, behind the plate, who was in no position to see the truth. Cobb saw it, though, and needless to say, violence ensued.

          • 154
            e pluribus munu says:

            Responding to Artie Z’s good question @148 (somewhat differently from birtelcom’s good response @151): Medicine evolves over time and players make the best use of it they can to address medical problems. It parallels changes in nutrition and the hygiene of training and I don’t see an issue with Tommy John surgery on that basis.

            The question parallel to PED use would seem to me to concern use of medical/prosthetic procedures to improve natural abilities, rather than to repair injuries to natural abilities or defects like myopia (which concern restoring level-playing-field conditions). That question may be difficult to answer, but I think it’s hypothetical.

            More troubling to me is the question about players who used PEDs for medical reasons, as Pettitte. claims to have done. My comment @141 was already too long, so I didn’t raise the issue there, but I’m troubled that baseball rules may exclude some PEDs that could have legitimate restorative medical functions (though my understanding is that steroid etc. use on that scale is unlikely to have any payoff on the field), and that there’s little that we don’t (or can’t) distinguish between players who may have used PEDs for different reasons.

            But I do think that the argument that PEDs are on a spectrum with corrective lenses is an example of the type of reverse slippery-slope argument form that could would erase any basis for principled distinctions between, say, spit-balls and AK-47s. Qualitative distinctions may be meaningful even if no discrete dividing line can be identified.

          • 156
            Mike L says:

            epm, the issue of using HGH for health issues, or recovery issues, is an interesting one. Assuming it does promote healing, then MLB and the MLBPA could develop guidelines for off-season use when prescribed by a physician, with “blackout periods” and a back end date prior to the start of the season. You might also apply it in season, say for people on the 60 day disabled list, with a termination date.

          • 157
            Ed says:

            In response to Birtelcom (151), Mike L (152), and EPM (154):

            1) Thanks for the interesting and thought provoking replies.

            2) With regard to Birtelcom’s distinction of different types of cheating, I want to make two points. First, I don’t see BBWAA writers making that distinction. What I see them saying is things like “I will never vote for a cheater” when it’s pretty clear what they’re saying is “I will never vote for someone who cheated by taking PEDs”. And it’s pretty clear that they’re okay with cheating via taking amphetamines (also undetectable by an umpire). I just want to see more consistency from them. Second point is this…while it may be true that there are different levels of cheating, when we start making these sort of distinctions, we end up rewarding some cheaters by putting them in the HOF and barring others cheaters from entering. That strikes me as quite perverse. From a legal perspective, murder is punished more harshly than robbery, but both are punished. We don’t punish one and reward the other.

            2) In response to Mike L., in theory, I don’t have a problem with someone saying they won’t vote for someone who took PEDs. But again, these same people are willing to vote for someone who took greenies, which were also banned. Again it’s partially the consistency issue. But it’s also the fairness issue. We know that there were players who took (and are taking PEDs) and who escaped detection. These players get rewarded and others get punished. I just can’t buy that.

            3) In response to EPM, players are getting LASIK to enhance their vision beyond 20-20. Some with, some without myopia. See here for example:


            Obviously that’s within the rules of baseball but I’ve seen some argue that they don’t care about the morality of cheating, they care about the enhancement effect of PEDs. And yet they’re silent on the enhancement effects of LASIK. Surgery to fix something that’s broken is perhaps a bit different but a) who’s to say what someone’s “natural” state is after they’ve damaged a body part and 2) it’s quite possible that replacing an arm tendon with a leg tendon leads to someone being able to throw harder and thus being “enhanced”.

            I’m not necessarily advocating for PEDs (though things that are legal and regulated tend to be safer than things that are illegal and thus unregulated), I’m simply asking for more consistency.

          • 187
            Dr. Doom says:

            One of my biggest problems is that, essentially, if things continue as they are, I will never, ever be able to take my kids to a Hall of Fame that has the players I enjoyed watching in my youth. And that’s the dumbest thing ever. Because for those of you who have been there with your kids, I’m guessing this was an important part of your trip. And I may never get it. And that just sucks. So for all of the talk about what’s worse than what else, this strikes me as the worst thing of all.

        • 101
          Mike L says:

          Dr. Doom, I think my reaction is a little cerebral and emotional. Football and basketball are played by giants. Their numbers are unmemorable. Football has gone from a 12 to 14 to 16 game schedule in my lifetime; the equivalent of forty extra baseball games. They are basically exhibition sports where you watch to be entertained, and then you go on to the next thing. Baseball looks (or looked) like real people could play it, even a few my size. You could pore over the Sunday sports section and read the stats and spend hours taking them apart. Numbers had meaning. What the juicers did, for me anyway, is to take a little bit of that magic away; to make the special commonplace. When I say I’m not ready yet to vote for Bonds, it’s because I am being a little selfish; the juicers took something that we aren’t going to get back.

      • 72
        PP says:

        That said, I think Bonds is going to end up with a % closer to Frank Thomas than Maddux, which in a way makes him “borderline.” He was very good in ’88, unreal in ’92 and ’93, unreal again in ’96, and, well, just plain sick starting in 2000. I am bothered by some of those Popeye muscle stats: 232 walks, 73 homers, .609 OBP (DiMaggio’s 56 game streak will go before that one), .863 slugging, but cut those down by a 1/3 and you get a Willie Mays type career. If I thought baseball didn’t know what was going on then I’d probably ignore him, but everyone had to know, from the Commissioner’s office on down. Heck, we all knew it while it was happening and fun it was to watch.

      • 107
        bstar says:

        inh @39, what proof do you have that Piazza was a ‘roider?

        • 110
          birtelcom says:

          This New York times article from 2002 has Piazza admitting he tried androstenedione “early in his career” — when it was still a legal, over-the-counter “supplement” not barred by baseball rules.

          Everything else I know of is highly circumstantial, though perhaps reasonably persuasive to some: muscles, acne, performance disproportionate with any prior expectation for the position, etc. — like I said, circumstantial.

          • 113
            bstar says:

            Well, we’re not classifying andro as an anabolic steroid, are we, birtelcom? Certainly, it wasn’t classified as such by the government. The White House attempted to get it classified as a drug in 1999 but failed because there’s no real proof it promotes muscle growth. It was finally banned by MLB and later by the government in 2005, but not because it was ever proved to be anabolic.

            In fact, the judgment that andro is/isn’t anabolic remains quite murky.

            I find it extremely difficult to ding someone for taking a legal, over-the-counter supplement.

          • 118
            birtelcom says:

            bstar: I agree that you can’t really penalize a guy for using what was at the time a legal, over-the-counter substance that was not barred by baseball rules. It is, however, true now (since 2004) that andro is legally defined, under the federal Controlled Substances Act, at subsection 41 of section 802 of Title 21 of the U.S. Code, as an “anabolic steroid” for federal law purposes. Whether a scientist would describe it as an “anabolic steroid” using a scientific definition is a matter I wouldn’t even try to opine on.

      • 209
        Jeff H says:

        Schilling harms Baseball with every time he opens his mouth.

        • 282
          BryanM says:

          It seems to me that the discussion of PEDs has got awfully complex . @69 , in response to Dr Doom’s question , I said that cheating harms the sport. That’s not moralizing, it’s just explaining. The thing that gives sporting contests their peculiar charm is that they are played according to a set of rules, and the winners are supposed to defeat the losers within those rules. I voted for Bonds in this round because , in my opinion, he was the best player on the ballot. I am also 100% convinced that he cheated over a number of years , and harmed the sport. I don’t need a court of law to tell me this , and I could be wrong , but I think he took PEDs after they were banned in 1991, if you think he didn’t , fine maybe you’re right
          I see and partly understand the arguments of those who could not vote for him, but to me it is beside the point of what we are voting for. As to arguments that others did it too. Yes they did, and if in your mind

  34. 40
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    This is tricky beyond Bonds.
    I’m once again employing a strategy of:
    who would I pick if I was building a team? – Using an intuitive version of the 5-year peak strategy outlined by # 34.

    Can’t beat the centerfielder sparkplug, so I’m going with Lofton.

    I hate having to choose between Alomar and Biggio, so I’m going with a pitcher.

    And none of the pitchers are head and shoulders above the rest, so I almost want to vote for Dwight Gooden just because.
    But really, I would have loved to see Kenny Rogers and Michael Jackson share a stage….

    Which pitcher was dominant?
    It’s between Brown and Schilling.
    And I’ll tell you what, I’m about as un-judgmental as any sports fan out there when it comes to having an opinion about athletes who appear to be douchebags. But I can’t vote for Schilling.


    Kevin Brown

    • 61
      Voomo Zanzibar says:

      I’m trading Kevin Brown for Larry Walker.

      And I’ll go ahead and drop Bonds for a player who, like Lofton, deserved better than 4.4% on his first shot at the HOF – Will Clark.


      Larry Walker
      Will Clark

  35. 41
    MikeD says:

    So a question. Unless Alomar gets at least 25% of the vote this round, then he will drop off the ballot forever, all future rounds. Correct?

    • 43
      Ed says:

      No. The top 8 non-winners automatically advance regardless of their percentage.

    • 46
      birtelcom says:

      To get carried over to the next round you need either 10% of the vote or to be in the top nine vote-getters — either way works to get an extension. 25% gets you two added rounds of eligibility, rather than just one.

    • 105
      bstar says:

      And even if he doesn’t finish in the top 9, Alomar could resurface later if it is decided that a special vote to re-establish worthy players who fell off the ballot is needed.

      • 109
        birtelcom says:

        Note also that in Adam’s Hall of Stats (HOS), the top 112 guys (which is more or less a standard around which the COG is oriented) would cut off around a 125 “Hall Rating” — above that rating would be in the top HOS 112 or so, below a 125 “Hall Rating” would fall utside the top 112 guys. Alomar’s Hall Rating according to Adam’s formula: exactly 125 (same as Jim Palmer, Willie Randolph, Amos Rusie and Joe Cronin — now there’s an interesingly disparate group of guys ending up with the same rating).

        • 117
          Hartvig says:

          And people should keep in mind that as awesomely wonderful as the HOS are:
          a) it is only 1 way of looking at players- I like to incorporate JAWS & Bill James for a little different perspectives
          b) HOS only makes a time-line adjustment for pre-20th century pitchers, JAWS makes none at all, James does but also includes Negro League only players who are not eligible for this exercise. I personally feel that some sort of adjustment needs to be made for everyone pre-integration, especially guys who played pre-1920 and certainly pre-1910 when I feel the level of competition and thus the left of replacement player just wasn’t what it was later
          c) HOS (and JAWS) don’t give credit for time lost to military service. They also don’t give credit to players who’s careers are half in the Negro Leagues and half in the Majors- Robinson, Campanella, Doby, Minoso. Ok so Minoso’s not half and half but it’s pretty clear to me that racial prejudice cost him 2 or 3 prime years at any rate.
          d) HOS & JAWS don’t factor in World Series performance or anything not measured on the field of play during the regular season- like the pressure on Robinson during the time he was the face of integration or Curt Flood sitting out to challenge the reserve clause or Jim Abbott over-coming being born without a hand or whatever other facts you might want to consider. You can even credit Jack Morris for pitching to the score or Joe Carter for being a clutch hitter- it is your vote, after all.
          e) there are adjustments made to WAR from time to time that change the results somewhat and
          f) the factors used to calculate the HOF & JAWS ranking involve numbers that might also change. Adam gives catchers an extra 20% boost when calculating adjWAR- is that right or should it be 25%?
          g) finally, when you get down to the players at the marginal level things tend to level off quite a bit. As birtelcom noted, when you get to the cutoff point using the HOF rankings of 125 you have 5 players- but that actually means you have 114 guys above the cutoff. Which 2 do you exclude? How about the 3 guys at 126 or the 4 guys at 124-are we that sure of the rankings? Home Run Baker sits at 123- he took a year off right in his prime because Connie Mack wouldn’t pay him a fair wage- do you take that into account? Hal Newhouser sits at 127- largely because of 2 monster seasons when many of the best players were fighting WW2.

          This is about ten times as long as I intended it to be when I started out so I’ll just say that the HOF and JAWS and James are all great tools for helping you think about things but you still have to apply a little thinking in order for them to work properly.

          • 119
            birtelcom says:

            I agree 100%, Hartvig. There is no one magic formula to tell everyone how to vote for the COG, thank goodness.

        • 256
          bstar says:

          Looking at the top 112 in rWAR and where the cutoff line lies, we first have to weed out the active players and those born after ?1969? (did you say there was going to be a 1969 vote later, birtelcom?). That takes out nine players from the WAR list: A-Rod, Pujols, Chippahh, Griffey, Jeter, Thome, Scott Rolen, Manny, and Pudge Rodriguez.

          That leaves the cut-off line at 63.0 career WAR, a mark owned by Willie Randolph, who was also right on the cutoff line for the Hall of Stats’ top 112.

          NOTE: this post is not meant to imply that WAR alone should be looked at. Its purpose is purely for reference.

          P.S. Sitting right ahead of Randolph at 63.1 WAR are three players: Don Drysdale, Pee Wee Reese, and Duke Snider. Forgetting Duke’s last two years as a Met and a Giant, does anyone else find it interesting that this space on the WAR list is occupied by three career Dodgers?

      • 130
        Bells says:

        @105 bstar – or, even if he’s not in the top 9, recall that the rules changed a round ago so that anyone with 10% of the vote gets carried forward. I could see this happening very soon, judging from the disparate results of this election – clearly people think Lofton and Brown are just a level below the 9 guys getting all the votes (okay, a few levels below Bonds) but by 1958 we might just have 12 candidates that, even without strategic voting, could each get more than 10% of the vote. All it takes is 8-9 people to like Kenny Lofton to carry him forward, even if he’s 10th.

        • 132
          bstar says:

          Bells, good point but I’m not sure there’s enough votes out there for 12 people to all get 10%, especially in years where we have at least one heavyweight on the ballot.

          • 146
            Hartvig says:

            I’m not so sure. Right now with 61 votes counted (vs 79 total in the 65 balloting) in addition to the leader we have 7 players with a 24.5% or larger share of the vote with excellent shots at 2 year extensions plus Alomar with 16.3% and Lofton with 8.2% and only a couple of votes shy of reaching the 10% guaranteeing he moves forward. I’ll admit that’s only 9 players and not 12 but 3 of the players over 25% could lose 5 votes apiece and still stay over.

            I’ll admit it doesn’t seem likely but with the consensus pretty evenly divided among our 4 pitchers plus a similar situation on the horizon if we end up with Larkin/Trammell/Ozzie/Yount all on the ballot plus throw a couple random others I could see how it might just play out that way for a few votes.

            But it’s true that I don’t see it solving the issue long term. Right now I think we have at least 5 players who clearly belong and another 6 who arguably do and there’s just no way that more than half of them survive the process. We’ll have to rely on whatever plan that birtelcom has for revoting them back into the system before I’m faced with the dilemma of having to consider voting Edd Roush in while Kenny Lofton watches from the sidelines.

    • 116
      MikeD says:

      Okay, thanks all. That will help with my decisions, at least when it comes to strategic voting.

  36. 42
    Raphy says:


  37. 44
    Mo says:

    Bonds,Glavine, Biggio

  38. 45
    RonG says:

    Biggio, Smoltz, Schilling

  39. 47
    Adam says:

    Bonds, Schilling, Lofton

  40. 48
    Nadig says:

    Schilling, Glavine, Walker.

  41. 50
    RJ says:

    As always, the battle between Schilling, Glavine, Mussina and Smoltz is fascinating. I’m personally inclined towards Mussina and Schilling, but there’s really not a lot in it. Which one, or ones, eventually make it in is anyone’s guesss.

  42. 51
    Dalton Mack says:

    Barry Bonds.
    Curt Schilling.
    Kenny Lofton.

  43. 53
    J.R. Lebert says:

    Biggio, Larkin, Smoltz.

  44. 54
    David Horwich says:

    Bonds, Larkin, Glavine.

  45. 55
    Luis Gomez says:

    Bonds, Alomar, Walker.

    Some side notes:
    1) I never heard of John Habyan and David West.
    2) I named the last dog I had, Canseco (some 20 years ago).
    3) Really? Jeff Reboulet played 10 or more seasons?
    4) Those lists look like the 2007 actual Hall of Fame vote, except this has the wrong Ripken and Gwynn.

    • 60
      birtelcom says:

      Mets fans over a certain age remember David West as one of those touted pitching prospects the Mets always seem to be getting het up about, and who was sent to the Twins as part of the package for Frank Viola.

  46. 56
    cubbies says:

    bonds, schilling, and the guy with the same creer war as our most recent inductee, walker.

    • 58
      birtelcom says:

      Nice point, cubbies: 69.7 career b-ref WAR for both Larry Walker and Frank Thomas.

    • 102
      mosc says:

      Their owar is not that similar. Just saying. DWAR is stupid.

      • 106
        birtelcom says:

        Even a dWAR skeptic would presuambly accept that Walker was widely acknowledged as an excellent defensive outfielder over most his career(seven Gold Gloves,and especially famous for his throwing arm), and that Thomas as a fielder was a born DH. Even if we can’t know precisely how many runs worth of value that difference generated, we can make some reasonable estimates. The desire for perfection should not drive out the use of the merely good, and the lack of precision in calculating the value of Walker’s defensive advantage should not lead us to assume that such value is zero.

        • 121
          Dr. Doom says:

          And likewise, Thomas was universally acknowledged as a minus-defender. So the difference is probably not unreasonable.

          • 124
            Dr. Doom says:

            Stupid getting excited and commenting before finishing reading the previous comment…

  47. 57
    koma says:

    Barry Bonds, Mike Mussina, Craig Biggio

  48. 59
    Chris says:

    Bonds, Biggio, alomar

  49. 62
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    Fun trivia question:

    Who are the only players with seasons of 50 HR and 50 SB?

    Barry Bonds and Brady Anderson

    • 64
      birtelcom says:

      Players besides Bonds and Anderson who have seasons of 40 or more homers at some point in their careers and also 40 or more homers at some point in their careers:
      Alfonso Soriano
      Carlos Beltran
      Alex Rodriguez
      Willie Mays
      Jose Canseco
      Vlad Guerrero
      Ryne Sandberg

  50. 65
    Daniel Longmire says:

    Bonds (can’t deny his brilliance, despite all my qualms)
    Alomar (good enough for the regular HOF means good enough to continue here, in my books)
    Glavine (one of these Big Four pitchers has to win outright, and soon)

    • 83
      David Horwich says:

      If one of the Big Four pitchers is going to win, they’re probably going to need to make it to the 1961 ballot. The 1963 ballot will feature Randy Johnson, who I think is clearly superior to any of the pitchers in the “Mussina Cluster”, as well as Edgar Martinez. In 1962 Roger Clemens enters the lists. The best players born in 1961 are Don Mattingly, and Jimmy Key. After that, the competition stiffens again:

      1960: Ripken, Gwynn, also Puckett
      1959: Raines, Sandberg
      1958: Henderson, Boggs, also Trammell
      1957: Whitaker
      1956: Molitor, Murray
      1955: Yount
      1954: O Smith, G Carter, also Randolph, Dawson, Eckersley
      1953: Brett

      While there aren’t any great pitchers coming up for a while after Johnson/Clemens, there’s going to be a glut of outstanding position players to sort through; multi batting champions such as Boggs & Gwynn are probably going to have wait their turns. So 1961 looks like the best window of opportunity for a while for one of those pitchers.

      • 94
        Ed says:

        But it could be Biggio or Larkin or possibly Alomar. Hard to say. Will definitely be an interesting vote since it will be completely wide open with no clear cut favorite.

      • 122
        Dr. Doom says:

        You know what’s funny (to me, anyway)? I looked ahead, and there are A LOT of deep ballots. But one of the weird things to me is that Johnny Bench and Nolan Ryan were born the same year. Yet, Bench’s career as a productive player was basically over as Ryan was getting going still. Crazy, huh?

        • 126
          Ed says:

          Dr. Doom – Carlton Fisk was also born the same year as Bench and Ryan, and like Ryan he played 10 years past when Bench retired. Course Fisk had so many injuries early in his career that it probably helped him last longer.

  51. 70
    JT says:

    Alomar, Glavine, Larkin

  52. 71

    Career Wins Above Average, excluding negative seasons:

    Bonds 123.9
    Schilling 56.2
    Mussina 49.4
    Walker 48.6
    Larkin 45.5
    Brown 43.2
    Glavine 42.2
    Smoltz 40.2
    Lofton 39.5
    Alomar 37.3
    Biggio 35.9
    Palmeiro 33.8

    Bonds and Schilling are the obvious picks here, though their personalities seem to be keeping them off a lot of ballots. Not much difference between Mussina, Walker, and maybe Larkin, except that Walker continues to be criminally underrated, so for the first time, I’m going off script and voting for him instead of Mussina.


  53. 73
    Brent says:

    Bonds, Larkin and Alomar

  54. 75
    Jimbo says:


    then it gets tough. It’s between Schilling and Smoltz in my opinion, because of what they did in the post season. Or do I go with Alomar.


  55. 76
    Andrew says:

    Smoltz, Glavine, Schilling

  56. 77
    mosc says:

    Bonds, Glavine, Schilling

    • 103
      mosc says:

      I’m thinking of dropping Glavine and going with Smoltz or Moose. I had this memory that Glavine could hit and nobody was considering that. After all, he had 4 silver sluggers. What I didn’t realize is that his career OPS was a less-than-silver .454. OUCH! Smoltz had 4 more career HR’s as well as a similar .433 ops. I feel ashamed that the statistical difference between them is “they both couldn’t hit dumbass”.

      • 125
        Hartvig says:

        If it’s any consolation, in the comments under the 1965 ballot (#96) I thought that bstar made a VERY compelling argument that FIP and Baseball-Reference WAR (rWAR) do not value Glavine properly and that he should rank right alongside of Mussina & Schilling.

        • 131
          RJ says:

          I like bstar’s argument for Glavine but I still rate Schilling higher for having a much greater peak, as illustrated by Insert Name Here @34. For me, if two players have comparable career WAR, the one who was more dominant at his peak wins out.

        • 134
          bstar says:

          Hartvig, thanks but actually it was just fWAR and FIP that are not giving Glavine credit for his strand rate. Since RA9 is the cornerstone of rWAR, his LOB rate is interwoven into their WAR calculation.

          And again, by rWAR, Glavine does rank alongside Mussina and Schilling:

          Mussina 78.2 #57 all-time
          Glavine 76.8 #58 all-time
          Schill 76.1 #63 all-time

          • 135
            bstar says:

            Ok, anyone who uses HTML tags, I have a question. I put before and after the word “does”. Why is it italicizing the rest of my text after that?

          • 137
            John Autin says:

            bstar @135 — I edited your #134 to close the italics. You used the same tag twice. You need to add a slash for the ending tag.

            To illustrate, I’ll add a space after every character so that it doesn’t function as a tag:

            Begin italics: < i >
            End italics: < / i >

          • 138
            bstar says:

            Bingo! Thanks JA! Wasn’t aware of the slash.

          • 139
            John Autin says:

            To your point @134, bstar — Yes, but Glavine used about 24% more IP than Mussina and about 35% more IP than Schilling to rack up those WAR.

            Pitching rWAR per 162G:

            5.7, Schilling
            5.4, Mussina
            4.0, Glavine

            The batting figures don’t make much dent in that.

            Just to be clear, I do intend on voting for Glavine — eventually. 🙂

          • 142
            bstar says:

            I was waiting for that argument, but I’m going to stick with my “longevity over peak” here, at least until it no longer serves me. :-;

            And I’ve voted for Schilling twice and would place him over Glavine. Glavine’s longevity, his impressive career win and IP totals, and long postseason resume give him the edge over Mussina to me, but barely. Mussina is again a very close fourth.

          • 143
            bstar says:

            Ok now I can’t even make a smiley face wink. 😉

          • 164
            bstar says:

            JA, your WAR/162G totals are totally ignoring durability during the season. It doesn’t matter at all that Glavine was never injured and Schilling and Mussina were?

            Since you seem to be questioning my choice of Glavine, I think I’m within my rights to ask about your choice of Barry Larkin over Glavine. Can you elaborate on that? Glavine has almost 10 more WAR, more WAA, a higher Hall of Stats rating, etc.

            I’d love to hear your rationale on this.

          • 168
            John Autin says:

            bstar @164 — I never questioned your vote. I only questioned your statement that “Glavine does rank alongside Mussina and Schilling.”

            Since I haven’t asked you to defend your vote, I’m not going to offer a serious defense of mine — just an emotional one:


          • 169
          • 171
            Ed says:

            BOO!!!!!!!!!! 🙁

          • 180
            John Autin says:

            bstar @169 — To appeal to my emotion, you might have countered with:

            But to think that he allowed himself to be removed from a 1-0 WS game with a chance at just the 5th CG Win on 1 hit or less in WS history … for shame! 🙂

            Anyway, my vote for Larkin over Glavs might have been a form of protest against an overemphasis on Tommy’s Win total.

            And I certainly do admire his durability and consistency. Still, if you compare him and Mussina on IP over their first 18 seasons (which is all Mussina pitched), Glavine’s edge is less than 10 IP per year. He has a bigger edge on Schilling in that regard, but on the other hand, Schilling had 4 seasons with more IP than Glavine’s high.

            I’m comfortable favoring Schilling and Mussina over Glavine, but as I said, I’ll be voting for Tommy soon.

            P.S. Has anyone ever described Glavine as a modern-day Warren Spahn? I guess they have, since both were Braves.

          • 182
            bstar says:

            JA, I wasn’t appealing to your emotions, I was appealing to mine. 😉

            And yeah…my heart stopped when Bobby Cox began his trudge out to the mound to summon Mark Friggin’ Wohlers after 8 innings of one-hit ball from Glavine.

            You touched on another problem I have with Mussina-he quit the game with gas left in his tank! The only qualifying pitcher I can find who may have quit of his own volition with an ERA+ as high as Mussina’s 131 in his final year is Max Butcher at age 34 with the Pirates in 1945. Every other final season with an ERA+ that high in a final season looks to be injury-related.

      • 127
        Ed says:

        Actually despite their modest OPS, both Glavine and Smoltz were better hitters than the average pitcher. Glavine has 7.5 career oWAR and Smoltz has 3.3. Not sure why Glavine has so much more since they had similar OPS. Part of it is that Glavine had more plate appearances (1645 vs 1167) but there must be more to it than that.

        • 204
          mosc says:

          Ed, thank you for making me feel less stupid about commenting on so many Atlanta post season games going “watch out now, Glavine can actually hit too!” and redeeming my vote.

          Honestly though I just have a stronger memory of Glavine’s excellence with control that I feel is more noteworthy, stats aside. Moose was a good pitcher, probably a better pitcher, but if history forgets him I am not going to cry. Glavine mesmerized with his control. He painted masterpieces at either side low and away corners. He made you feel like he was right and the umpire was wrong every time a ball was called. It’s Tom Glavine out there ump! Of course that ball was in the zone! I loved watching hitters psych themselves out deciding whither to swing or not. Just a master at his craft and born with far less ability than most of the other guys on that list. For that, I will ignore somewhat inferior pitching stats.

          And I’d probably vote Smoltz over Moose too.

          • 206
            John Autin says:

            “Glavine made you feel like he was right and the umpire was wrong every time a ball was called.”

            And some of us thought both Glavine and the ump were wrong when a strike was called, 6 inches off the plate. 🙂

            But I can’t fault the man for using what the umps gave him.

          • 208
            Mike L says:

            John A, @206, would it be fair to say that you think Glavine “pitched to the ump?”

          • 214
            bstar says:

            It wasn’t six inches at the start of the game. It was an inch, then two, then three, etc. Only a true master of his craft (well, two masters: Glavine and Maddux) was able to systematically push the limits of the outside part of the zone.

            The only other pitcher in the NL at the time who had the chops to pull this off was Mike Hampton of the Astros.

          • 216
            mosc says:

            Glavine gets a bad rap for not throwing strikes on purpose. It’s not really fair. The dude did not have major league stuff for most of his career. Maybe when he was young, he was an average MLB pitcher in terms of velocity, changing speeds, and pitch break, but for most of it he was below average. He simply could not catch too much plate and live. When umpires would pinch him, he would get shelled. Probably the reason his ERA is where it ended up is because umps would sometimes not call borderline strikes due to Glavine’s reputation and force him to cover more plate. He would not survive games like that. To his credit, he could still miss a lot of barrels but Glavine without the borderline strike was a lot closer to Jamie Moyer than he was to Maddux.

            Glavine threw borderline strikes. Sometimes he’d miss and it’d be a couple inches out. It’s not his fault when he gets that call. I was always amazed at the control to throw a pitch into a soup can just clipping the corner.

            Maddux was a much better pitcher but I don’t think he was Glavine’s equal in control Certainly Maddux had great control but his stuff was also excellent, especially when he was younger. Maddux threw pitches like belt high fastballs to left handed bats and put it inside enough to avoid solid contact. You miss that pitch to your natural arm side of the plate, it gets nailed. Most catchers will demand that pitch up, hoping to minimize the odds of it being over the middle of the plate but it’s easier to lay off that way. At the belt is far juicier sweeping across for hitters to swing at. It takes daring, control, and a fastball with at least some zip. Glavine could not throw that pitch if he wanted to and succeed, he simply didn’t have the stuff for it.

            I don’t think Glavine worked umpires as much as he simply avoided the middle of the plate. He still missed, he just missed more outside like a pro’s pro should.

  57. 78
    Matt Taylor says:

    Mussina Biggio Walker

  58. 79
    Lee D says:

    Bonds Smoltz Glavine

  59. 80
    Abbott says:

    Bonds, Glavine, Biggio

  60. 81
    Brooklyn Mick says:

    Mussina, Glavine, Larkin

  61. 85
    T-Bone says:

    Bonds, Biggio, Glavine

  62. 86
    GrandyMan says:


  63. 87
    jeff b says:

    First time voting, because this isn’t the circle of cheats:
    Biggio, Smoltz, Walker

  64. 89

    Bonds, Schilling, Mussina

  65. 92
    John Autin says:

    Schilling, Mussina, Larkin.

    • 97
      birtelcom says:

      Is your non-inclusion of Bonds strategic or philosophical?

      • 98
        John Autin says:

        Good question. This was the first of these votes in which a known steroid user would have made my ballot. And I found that, for this year, anyway, I couldn’t do it.

        • 111
          birtelcom says:

          At the moment, the COG count has Bonds appearing on about 69% of the ballots cast thus far. As voters who have not included him are presuambly not avoiding him because of the size of the ballot (this is presumably the sort of case in which you either consider him number 1 or are just not prepared to vote for him this time regardless of the ballot space), it may be that our group, like the BBWAA, would not have given him the necessary 75% to get him into Cooperstown this year either. Although there are more ballots still to be counted this round.

  66. 99
    Slash says:

    Mussina, Larkin, Alomar

  67. 100
    DanFlan says:

    Bonds, Smoltz, Biggio

  68. 104
    Jawes says:

    Biggio, Larkin, Mussina

  69. 108
    Rocco says:

    Mike Mussina, Will Clark, Kenny Lofton

  70. 112
    Baltimorechop says:

    Lark moose curt ‘supply side’ schilling

  71. 115
    Gootch7 says:

    Mussina (length and reliability of career win out), Biggio (Seton Hall grad!) and Palmeiro (largely because I haven’t seen anyone vote for him yet and he will most likely drop out of consideration forever. Just because he’s a bit douchey doesn’t mean he didn’t hit 569 career dingers….)

  72. 120
    John Z says:

    WOW, I feel so vindicated now that “THE BIG HURT” has earned his respectful place in the Hall ooops i mean the “Circle of Greats”. Now for this tricky round, and I’m here to say, I do not hold a grudge, and I for one thoroughly enjoyed the offense that was the “Steroid Era”. So with that said and with out further “Ado” my vote looks like this; Bonds, Palmeiro, and Smoltz. Your welcome.

  73. 144
    Job Vogt says:

    Bonds, Kevin Brown, and Smoltz

  74. 145
    RBI Man says:

    If I had a vote I’d pick only Glavine and Mussina because of PEDs. Smoltz would have been next.

    That’s kind of lame for a few reasons.

    The biggest reason is they are not the best baseball players on the ballot. They have the best stats of those perceived to be clean.

    There’s no way of knowing who’s clean and who isn’t, so in most cases it’s public perception and then followed by a witch hunt. People obviously assume that Roberto Alomar and Barry Larkin never juiced and that Jeff Bagwell and his Popeye arms did. Who knows? I always thought that Alomar did when he was with Baltimore and when they started testing, Alomar turned into his dad, Sandy Sr.

    It sucks that it’s come to that. Like the WWF, everybody knew that there was mass roiding going on in baseball, but the media, fans, owners and Bud Selig himself, celebrated the feats of strength. I remember Selig watching Miguel Tejada blasting 520 footers at the HR contest. Selig was the biggest fan, standing ovation. “Wow! Look at the new and improved post-strike baseball!” Everybody was on board.

    Then Canseco “writes” a book and forces people to acknowledge what everybody already knew.

    Selig presided over “The Era” and still has a job while a guy who hit almost 800 HR’s in actual big league games is on the outside looking in.

  75. 150
    Dr. Remulak says:

    bonds, biggio, schilling

  76. 152
    Mike L says:

    Ed @147, Dr. Doom, and Artie, about the morality of PED use, equating it to greenies, and Tommy John surgery. My opinion only. I think you have to acknowledge that when MLB bans something, use of it constitutes “cheating.” Each one of us can decide whether that cheating is enough to disqualify the cheater, but clearly a rule has been broken. As to Tommy John surgery, why only that procedure? The last 40 years have been marked by incredible advances in reconstructive surgery. Laparoscopic procedures alone have not only added years, but also put players back on the field much faster than open incision. Do we also penalize players for using modern baseball equipment? Take a look at a 1930’s glove and compare it to the vacuum in use today (and, more particularly, take a look at the ratio of total runs to earned runs in 1930). There’s a differences between sanctioned improvements and those that are banned, and PEDs are banned, both explicitly and tacitly. I don’t need to go to the point of whether I think a PED ban is logical in context, anymore than I need to decide whether some bizarre golf rule should result in a penalty or a disqualification. Maybe that’s a mechanistic interpretation, but those people who feel that PEDs are fine should advocate for MLB to permit them.

  77. 155
    Jalande says:

    Mussina (best pitcher on the ballot); Walker (hugely underrated, deserves 25% of the COG ballot); Lofton (also hugely underrated/undervalued, hope he can get 10% and stay on the ballot).

    • 160
      birtelcom says:

      Lofton will need two more votes to hit 10% if the final total ballot count comes out in the 70 to 80 range where it has been in recent rounds.

  78. 158
    Paulie says:

    Larkin, Lofton, Mussina

  79. 159
    Richard Chester says:

    Smoltz, Schilling, Walker.

    I do have reservations about Walker. He benefited greatly by playing at Coors Park. His BA there is .381 versus .282 in all the other parks, a huge difference. However his OPS + of 141, which is park adjusted , would put him in 41st place in the HOF.

    • 162
      birtelcom says:

      At the moment, with 69 ballots cast thus far, 18 votes is just enough to meet the 25% level needed for a two-round eligibility guarantee. Larkin and Biggio are one vote under at 17 votes; Smoltz and Walker are exactly at 18 with no room to spare. Biggio won a two-round extension last time, Smoltz has currently built-up extensions through the 1960 round.

  80. 161

    I’m fascinated that Gooden, the best player in the NL in 1984 (per fangraphs), and Bonds, the best player in the NL in 2004, were born in the same year. In fact, Bonds was born 4 months earlier.

    • 163
      Brooklyn Mick says:

      Gooden seemed destined for greatness, and I find it astounding that he never had a 130 ERA+ season after his CYA season when he racked up a 229, good for 12th all time for single season ERA+.

      In his first 3 seasons he averaged 19-6 with a 2.28 ERA, 248 K’s per year, and an ERA+ of 155.

      Over the next 13 seasons he averaged 10-7 with a 3.95 ERA, 119 K’s, and an ERA+ of 101.

      • 166
        bstar says:

        What’s more amazing to me is that out of ALL the pitching phenoms in the ’80s, not one of them turned in a Hall of Fame career. That includes Gooden, Valenzuela, Hershiser, and Saberhagen.

        • 167
          birtelcom says:

          Ergo, the pitch limits on young pitchers today.

        • 170
          Ed says:

          You could include Frank Viola in that group as well.

          Still seems like there are lots of pitchers getting injured and never making a full recovery: Peavy, Webb, Santana, Liriano, probably several others I’m forgetting.

          • 192
            Nash Bruce says:

            Liriano had/has a lot of issues with his mental makeup, in his case I don’t blame the injury for the decline.
            It is too bad that Gooden didn’t choose Bonds’s drug(s) of choice, rather than cocaine. Would have been interesting to see what steroids would have done for a pitcher of his talent.
            Maybe if it worked out for him, and most other pitchers started juicing too, the 90’s could have had a better balance between pitching and hitting, and we wouldn’t be having these endless discussions about whether to vote in players with grossly inflated offensive stats. 😉

            (They seemed to have worked out ok for Clemens.)

      • 193
        John Autin says:

        There are two popular narratives for Gooden’s decline — drug addiction, and the arm injury that cost him half the ’89 season. I don’t really buy either one. I just don’t think it was ever in the cards for Gooden to have several more dominant years after those first two.

        Looking at his stats, especially ERA+, SO/9 and H/9, his first 2 years really stand apart from everything else, even from his 3rd year:

        ’84-85: 176 ERA+, 9.9 SO/9, 6.5 H/9
        1986: 126 ERA+, 7.2 SO/9, 7.1 H/9

        I think year 3 represents the most realistic expectation for his career going forward.

        Gooden’s game was vertical — the “rising” fastball and the 12-to-6 curve. But in the late ’80s, hitters started laying off the high fastball in general, and umps started shortening (and widening) their strike zone.

        And throwing 764 professional innings through age 20, including 37 CG, probably took a little hop off his heater, too.

        I’m sure he would have performed better if he hadn’t gotten into coke and if he hadn’t suffered a serious injury in ’89. But I don’t think the Doc of those first two years was ever coming back either way. His repertoire didn’t fit the times.

        • 195
          Jason Z says:

          John, your take on Dwight Gooden made me recall a game
          I attended back in 1993.

          I believe this game is a good example of what you describe.

          I sat about 10 rows directly behind home plate, I wanted a good view of Doc.

          At times he was brilliant. After giving up three hits and two runs in the third inning, he retired the next 11 Marlins in a row. His breaking ball was falling off
          the table that day. He pitched an eight inning complete game. Struck out nine and didn’t walk anyone. But alas, he also gave up 11 hits and 7 runs, all earned.

          Doc also homered that day. The boxscore says the homer
          went to “deep LF”. I am hear to tell you, it was one of the longest homers I ever saw. It was an upper deck shot, at least ten rows up.

          I did see two home runs in the stadium formerly known as Joe Robbie that were longer.

          Numbers 56 and 57 by McGwire in 1998. Those were a couple of steroid induced bombs.

          I went to that game by myself to see Hack Wilson’s NL record 56 go by the wayside. Back Acne did it with
          home runs in the seventh and ninth innings.

          The Marlins were 47-91 entering this game, they were in
          the midst of a 3-19 stretch. And yet, 37,014 showed up
          on a Tuesday night to watch McGwire chase Maris. Anyone familiar with the Marlins attendance woes, can
          see this as a prime example of why baseball and
          Bud “Light” Selig ignored the storm clouds on the horizon. They allowed, and the players union enabled, this to go on for several more seasons.

          In the process, the statistical integrity of the game was compromised. And with the results of this years Hall of Fame voting, the fallout is all to obvious.

          But let’s remember that we all cheered them on as it

          • 202
            John Autin says:

            Jason, thanks for the memories! A couple more points about that first game you cited. The last one’s my favorite:

            – Besides Gooden’s HR, the Mets also got a pinch-HR in the 9th from Chico Walker, batting for Gooden. They would go almost 20 years before another 2-HR game from the #9 spot:

            – Mets lost and fell to 23-53, 11.5 games behind the expansion Marlins. They finished 5 games behind Florida at 59-103, and that’s despite winning their last 6 games. It was their worst record (and only 100-loss year) since 1965.

            – 3 hits and 3 runs for Marlins #2 hitter, Renteria … Rich Renteria, that is.

            – Walker’s pinch-HR in the 9th came off Matt Turner, in their first meeting. Three months later, in the season finale, Walker faced Turner for the second time, again in the 9th inning, again in Joe Robbie with over 40,000 paid attendance — and homered again. Two career swings against Turner, two HRs. And that was Walker’s last time up in the majors. (Take that, Teddy Ballgame!)

    • 165
      birtelcom says:

      Wow, Fangraphs (with its emphasis on fielding-independent pitching numbers) loves the Doc Gooden of 1984. B-ref has him only 10th in NL overall WAR in ’84 with 5.4 overall WAR.

      Fangraphs top 5 WAR in the 1984 NL:
      Gooden 8.6
      Sandberg 8.1
      Schmidt and Carter 7.3
      Raines 6.8

      B-Ref top 5 WAR in the 1984 NL:
      Sandberg 8.4
      Carter 7.2
      Schmidt 6.7
      Raines 6.3
      Rhoden 6.2

      • 172
        bstar says:

        That’s because Fangraphs’ pitching WAR uses FIP as its backbone and FIP overvalues high-strikeout pitchers. Remember Bryan O’C’s look at the best FIP seasons of all-time? Of the seven seasons he highlighted, all seven of those pitchers led their league in either strikeouts or SO/9.

        I find it amusing that Fangraphs rates Gooden’s ’84 season as almost equal to his ’85 one. Gooden in ’85 pitched 60 more innings and had an ERA more than a FULL RUN better than in ’84.

        Look at the disparities between rWAR and fWAR:

        Gooden ’84 8.6 fWAR / 5.2 rWAR

        Gooden ’85 9.0 fWAR / 11.9 rWAR

        • 173
          Ed says:

          While I tend to prefer rWAR for pitchers, I do think it’s important to understand why fWAR uses FIP. Dave Cameron has provided a couple of articles to explain his rationale. The bottom line is that he would prefer a system similar to the rWAR one, but he feels we don’t know enough about how to divide responsibility for hits allowed between pitchers and their defense.

          • 174
            bstar says:

            Ed, did you read the comments section of these articles and hear Cameron’s logical fallacies get ripped to shreds?

            I love this one:

            “…I also think it’s goofy for the same site to use batter WAR that includes luck and BABIP, but not for pitcher’s WAR.

            We’re using data the way Creationists use Science … we look for what we want to find, and sometimes use the data, and sometimes not. I have issues with the inconsistency, especially when reasonable options are available. We’re basically intelligent, logical people … right?…”

          • 176
            Ed says:

            Bstar – I’m not sure I agree with your characterization of the comments. Sure there were plenty of people who disagreed with him but there were also plenty who defended him. You could have just as easily quoted this comment:

            “It’s surprising to me that anyone would subscribe to the WAR that B-R uses. Your idea of measuring what we know with certainty that the pitcher can control seems like the only logical thing to do. Then hang the disclaimer on it that it may not interpret all of the variables, but the one’s that it does, it hits right on the button.

            As opposed to taking an inaccurate guess based on a many unreliable and incalculable factors and saying: This is right.”

            And since Dave didn’t participate in the comments on the 2nd article (and only sparingly in the 1st) we don’t know how he would have responded to the criticisms.

            In the end, I think it’s good that we have multiple WARs. I didn’t used to believe this but it was Tango (I think) who convinced me otherwise. WAR is a concept so it’s not something that really exists in reality. And when it comes to measuring concepts, that concept is strengthened when there are multiple measures that generally agree with one another. Yes there are still differences between the systems but hopefully those differences will be lessened as the systems become more and more refined. Two fingers pointing at the moon are better than one.

          • 184
            bstar says:

            I would argue that the second finger is not pointing at much. And it gives the anti-WAR crowd more fuel for the fire when they can look at someone like Tom Glavine and note the discrepancy between the two totals.

            Or look at these two pitchers. One metric points to above-average pitchers with a good career while the second points to pitchers knocking on the door of the Hall of Very Good:

            Derek Lowe- 30.4 rWAR / 48.4 fWAR
            Javier Vazquez- 40.2 rWAR / 55.1 fWAR

            Exactly what good is this doing anybody? Since getting more people to see things from a sabermetric perspective is a really important issue, the good from having two different perspectives is easily outweighed by the harm of having such disparate conclusions reached from the two viewpoints.

            And remember what prompted Cameron to write those two articles: Joe Poz’s tweet, an appeal for a summit to somehow reconcile the two different calculations for pitchers. Here’s an old school guy who’s ready and willing to eat up sabermetrics and disseminate that knowledge to the masses, but he sees the obvious problem with two disparate pitcher WAR calcs.

          • 186
            Ed says:

            A few points Bstar:

            1) You’re right that having multiple WARs gives the anti-WAR crowd fuel for the fire. But you’re never going to convince them anyway. WAR is still a fairly new concept and eventually you’re going to have a whole generation who was raised on WAR and is very comfortable with it.

            2) I also think we’ll see convergence of the methods over time. Dave is clearly comfortable with the overall framework that Sean has developed for pitcher WAR, he just wants more data before moving to that framework. That data will come with time.

            3) At the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised in Fangraphs WAR eventually goes away. It seems pretty clear that B-R is winning the “War of WAR” at least partially due to greater site accessibility. Most journalists are probably familiar with Baseball Reference and have used it. I doubt that many are familiar with or use Fangraphs.

            4) I think at least some of the difference with Lowe and Vazquez is due to the different scaling of fWAR and rWAR (based on assuming different replacement levels). That is one thing that they really need consensus on. Having two WARs set on two different scales leads to lots of confusion.

            5) Is Poz really an old-school guy? I think he’s about the same age you and I are so I always assumed he was a new-school guy, raised on Bill James and his abstracts.

          • 189
            bstar says:

            Fair points, Ed. I hope you’re right about fWAR dying off!

            You’re right about Joe Poz, he’s only a year older than me. I guess I assumed (wrongly) that he has been taught sabermetrics and has seen the light (he’s close with Tom Tango) when in fact he may have been of saber mind all along.

            Couldn’t agree more about the scaling of rWAR and fWAR. Since fWAR is higher on average, the disparity is going to be greater for pitchers like Lowe and Vazquez who underperform their FIP than those like Glavine who overperform it.

          • 196

            Re: bstar at 174, specifically “…I also think it’s goofy for the same site to use batter WAR that includes luck and BABIP, but not for pitcher’s WAR.”

            I know you’re quoting someone else and not necessarily expressing your own opinion, but I still feel compelled to point out the absurdity of this statement.

            Is there luck in a hitter’s BABiP? Of course. But hits and groundouts and flyouts are the results of a single batter’s plate appearances. He may have teammates on base, and that may affect what base he reaches, but the vast majority of batter outcomes are strictly dependent on the batter’s actions (whether based on talent, randomness, or some combination thereof). Conversely, the pitcher has eight teammates to help him turn batted balls into outs. There’s luck involved, of course, but much of the credit for a defense’s ability to turn batted balls into outs belongs to the those eight other guys.

            In a 9 vs. 1 game, why should we assume that every failure on the hitter’s record is a success on the pitcher’s record? A FIP-based WAR is not perfect, and Dave Cameron is the first to admit that, but there is value in an alternative to an RA-based WAR.

          • 215
            bstar says:

            Ok Bryan, what about strikeouts and walks? Isn’t the hitter’s skill involved also? Doesn’t it matter a little whether or not it’s Marco Scutaro at the plate or Adam Dunn? Whether or not a pitcher records a strikeout or walk is partially due to hitter’s skill (or non-skill) at drawing walks or striking out. Neither of those outcomes have 100% to do with the pitcher.

            For that matter, the umpire is involved in this also.

          • 222
            birtelcom says:

            bstar @215: Yes, there are numerous variables that go into a pitcher’s performance, but many of them are broadly distributed across a full season — a pitcher across a full season of batters faced will see a wide range of hitters, home plate umps, etc. The variations have a chance to even out, more or less, over a long period. One factor that doesn’t even out, however, is the defense that is playing behind the pitcher. On most teams, there will be a lot of consistency in the day-to-day fielding alignment behind the pitchers on the staff. So in evaluating pitcher value it may be relevant to take the role of that defense into account (just as we take, say, home park factor into account in doing value calculations). FIP is one way to to do that. I don’t fully agree with fangraphs’ approach to pitching WAR but I get the idea, and it has some merit.

          • 223
            bstar says:

            birtelcom, it’s not just fWAR that attempts to take defense out of the equation. rWAR does the same thing, only it uses a team defense adjustment (RA9def) to down/upgrade the RA9avg standard that a pitcher’s RA9 is judged against.

          • 235

            Sure, bstar, there are other factors that play into strikeouts and walks. Umps are huge, baserunners may play a role. Weather and fans, I suppose, could distract a pitcher, but a strikeout, a walk, and a home run are three outcomes that are primarily the result of a one-on-one matchup between the pitcher and the hitter, and therefore should be reflected similarly on the pitcher’s record and the hitter’s. Any ball in play involves a very obvious contribution from a third party, reducing the pitcher’s role.

          • 248
            bstar says:

            I disagree about the HR.

            -Suppose Mike Trout is manning CF and makes a leaping catch to snag a ball that flew over the wall and turns its into an out. All of a sudden, that batted ball, according to FIP, had nothing to do with the pitcher (even though he gave up the 400-ft+ fly ball). If there was a lesser defender at the wall, the pitcher gets the blame for giving up the HR.

            -Giancarlo Stanton hammers a frozen rope down the left field line that looks like it might have a chance to clear the wall. According to FIP, if the ball creeps over the wall it is the pitcher’s fault, but if the ball hits six inches below the top of the wall and bounds back in field, this blast has nothing at all to do with the pitcher. Shouldn’t the pitcher take the blame for giving up this rocket either way?

            ” Any ball in play involves a very obvious contribution from a third party, reducing the pitcher’s role.”

            Please explain to me how a hard line drive that perfectly bisects the area between the left and center fielder and rolls to the wall involves a “very obvious contribution” from a third party.

      • 175
        Brooklyn Mick says:

        Has any pitcher ever had a more prolific age 19-21 resume? Just wondering.

        Age aside, has any pitcher ever, in their first 3 seasons, put up anything close to what Gooden put up in his first 3 seasons?

        I’m thinking the answer is no on both counts.

        • 178
          bstar says:

          Gooden does top the list from 1901 forward for the first three years of his career. Here’s the top 10:

          1. Dwight Gooden 21.3 WAR
          2. Pete Alexander 20.8
          3. Vean Gregg 20.8
          4. Tom Seaver 19.6
          5. Curt Davis 18.1
          6. Teddy Higuera 18.0
          7. Eddie Rommel 17.5
          8. Eddie Plank 17.4
          9. Russ Ford 17.0
          10 Dick Radatz 17.0

          I love seeing Dick Radatz’s name in the 10 spot. What a Monster.

          There isn’t another reliever in the top 90 (Bruce Sutter is #91 with 10.1 WAR).

          As for years prior to the P-Index era, Kid Nichols had 30.8 WAR his first 3 seasons.

          • 181
            birtelcom says:

            Bob Feller is the other great (post-1900) pitcher of the 19-21 age group besides Gooden. Those were not Feller’s first three seasons though — his age 19 season was his third in the majors.

            The deadball era lefty Vean Gregg had numbers over his first three seasons surprisingly similar to Doc’s. Gregg declined to sign a pro baseball contract until his he was well into his twenties, and didn’t make his major league debut until the day before his 26th birthday, but was an instant success, though he had arm troubles for much of his later career.

          • 183
            Brooklyn Mick says:

            Thank you bstar! Not only did Gooden put up the best first 3-year numbers, but look at the age disparity, and look at the fact that 4 of the top 10 pitched in the deadball era. And WAR seems to have been kind to Curt Davis and Eddie Rommel.

            Dwight Gooden / 1984-86 / age 19-21 / 21.3 WAR
            Old Pete / 1911-13 / age 24-26 / 20.8 WAR
            Vean Gregg / 1911 – 13 / age 26-28 / 20.8 WAR
            Tom Seaver / 1967-69 / age 22-24 / 19.6 WAR
            Curt Davis / 1934-36 / age 30-32 / 18.1 WAR
            Teddy Higuera / 1985-87 / age 27-29 / 18.0 WAR
            Eddie Rommel / 1920-22 / age 22-24 / 17.5 WAR
            Eddie Plank / 1901-03 / age 25-27 / 17.4 WAR
            Russ Ford / 1909-11 / age 26-28 / 17.0 WAR
            Monster Radatz / 1962-64 / age 25-27 / 17.0 WAR

          • 185
            Brooklyn Mick says:

            Yes birtelcom, the fist young phenom pitcher that came to mind was Bob Feller. I remember when pundits hailed Gooden as the next phenom. I seem to remember comparisons to Rapid Robert and Pack Robert Gibson. Obviously Gibby was a late bloomer, but I do remember the comparisons. Gooden had it all at a very early age. Shame that it didn’t translate to greater things.

  81. 177
    Fuzzy Thurston says:

    As witty as it gets (duh)

    Mike Moosina, The Other Barry (Larkin), and Craig Bee-gio

  82. 179
    Bill Johnson says:




  83. 190
    Nash Bruce says:

    Bonds (bends over with dry heaves), Larkin, Alomar. Hate to leave Schilling off though…..

  84. 191
    Brendan Bingham says:

    Alomar, Smoltz, Lofton

  85. 194
    Jason Z says:

    I have not voted yet. I have decided to vote strategically this round.

    In this regard I plan on voting sometime Saturday.

    I will not vote for Barry Bonds. His induction into the COG is
    guaranteed this round, without my vote.

    My votes will be based on securing extra years of eligibility for those
    who deserve it.

    That being said, Barry Bonds is so clearly above everyone else on this
    ballot. And as we know, it is not close.

    Their is a player, today is his birthday in fact, who is very close to
    Bonds. Ridiculously close in fact.

    Bonds debuted at age 21 in 1986. After 12 seasons Bonds had 89.0 WAR.

    The birthday boy also debuted at age 21 in 2001.

    He just completed his 12th season and has 88.5 WAR.

    I saw this man play during Spring Training in 2001. By the fifth inning
    this unknown who played single A ball in 2000 had a home run and a double.
    He also made an outstanding running catch in right field that day.

    It is a day I will never forget. He was clearly the best player on the field that day. A week later Tony LaRussa announced that this young phenom would
    head North with the team. Probably the easiest decision he ever made.

    If you haven’t already guessed, Happy 33rd birthday Albert.

    Albert Pujols could retire tomorrow and his place in the Hall of Fame
    is assured. The same would have been said about Barry Bonds after the
    1997 season. Unfortunately for Bonds he came to a fork in the road. He
    turned down Steroid Avenue instead of continuing on Cooperstown Way.

  86. 197
    aweb says:

    Bonds, Schilling, Biggio

  87. 198
    Lineman says:

    Mussina, Walker, Lofton

  88. 199
    --bill says:

    Bonds, Glavine, Biggio.

    I wish Saberhagen and Gooden could’ve kept up their early success, though.

    • 207
      Lawrence Azrin says:

      You could say that about about dozens and dozens of players. For instance, Fred Lynn and (even more so) Don Mattingly come to mind – they sure looked like future HOFers after their first six full seasons.

      • 212
        Voomo Zanzibar says:

        As a 12 year old New Yorker in 1985, I would have bet my entire baseball card collection that Gooden and Mattingly would be Hall of Famers.

        • 217
          Lawrence Azrin says:

          Mattingly might _stil_l be a HOFer someday, if he has long-term success as the Dodgers manager. The Veteran’s Commitee can consider both playing and managing records, right??

          • 219
            Ed says:

            I thought you were wrong Lawrence but perhaps you’re not. From the Hall of Fame’s website:

            “Those whose careers entailed involvement in multiple categories will be considered for their overall contribution to the game of Baseball; however, the specific category in which these individuals shall be considered will be determined by the role in which they were most prominent. In those instances when a candidate is prominent as both a player and as a manager, executive or umpire, the BBWAA-appointed Historical Overview Committee shall determine that individual’s category as a player, as a manager or as an umpire or as an executive/pioneer.”


            Personally I find the language a bit ambiguous. The first sentence says that overall contribution will be considered. But the next two sentences seem to contradict that.

            Anyway, I’m pretty sure that no one’s ever been elected based on combined contribution as a player and as a manager.

          • 258
            MikeD says:

            Lawrence, I think Mattingly might still make the HOF regardless of what he does as a manager. He won’t be elected by the BBWAA, but he is the type of player that I can see some future version of the Veteran’s Committee electing.

            He was highly regarded by his contemporaries. He is one of those players that other players seemed to respect. A ballplayer’s ballplayer kind of guy. The following generation of players all view him highly. He’s exactly the kind of player that a veteran’s committee, filled with former players, would elect. I just saw a quote from Jim Palmer over the weekend calling for Mattingly to be honored in the HOF. It’s better than 50-50 Mattingly is elected once he’s off the BBWAA ballot and on a committee’s ballot.

          • 259
            Ed says:

            I don’t know Mike D. The Veteran’s Committee for the Expansion Era is facing the same sort of crunch as the BBWAA, particularly since they’re only meeting once every three years.

            Last time around, the only candidates who got more than 50% of the vote were Gillick (who was elected) and Concepcion. Steve Garvey didn’t. Tommy John didn’t. Etc. And there are a whole mess of newly eligible people to be considered. And they haven’t even considered guys like Grich or Trammell. So I don’t know. I’m not saying Mattingly won’t get in some day but I’m not sure he’ll be alive when it happens.


          • 262
            MikeD says:

            Ed, good point. I forgot about the changes they made which make it more difficult to reach consensus. That said, I believe MLB and the HOF has these committees because they want to elect players, even if we as fans disagree with some of their selections! So if they fail to elect, I suspect they’ll change the structure again.

          • 263
            Ed says:

            Mike D – Yeah the current structure doesn’t make much sense. They divided things into three different eras. The first two are fine since they have a start and end date. But the post-expansion era is a problem since there’s no end date to the era and they’re going to continue to add candidates.

        • 218
          Brooklyn Mick says:

          You could add Strawberry to the list.

          Age 21-29 seasons: 280 HR/144 OPS+/37.8 WAR.

          Age 30-37 seasons: 55 HR/111 OPS+/1.4 WAR.

          Watching him was fun, and there was a sense of witnessing greatness. Big, strong, fast, lightening quick bat, and he was smooth–made it look easy–kind of like Junior Griffey.

          • 221
            Ed says:

            I wonder how Strawberry’s career would have been viewed if he had stayed healthy and had continued to perform at a relatively high level. I remember he was generally viewed as a disappointment because of his low batting average and because so much was expected of him as a former #1 overall pick (playing in the limelight of NYC probably didn’t help either). I remember Bill James would point out every year how much Shea Stadium was killing Strawberry’s stats.

            On the other hand, while he was certainly a fine player, WAR makes him seem a bit overrated given all his fame and publicity. He only finished in the top 10 for WAR among position players three times, and never higher than fourth.

          • 224
            John Autin says:

            Ed @221 — I think Bill James overestimated the harm Strawberry suffered from Shea. It wasn’t such a bad park for hitters when he was there.

            And if B-R’s batting splits finder is right, Straw hit a tiny bit better at home as a Met (1983-90):
            – Home, .263 BA, .881 OPS
            – Away, .262 BA, .876 OPS

            Anyway, had he stayed healthy well into his 30s, I think the upper limit for Straw’s esteem would be Reggie Jackson. Through age 30, Straw’s “most similar” by age include 4 ReJax and 3 Canseco.

            A target more in reach would be, say, Killebrew.

          • 225
            Ed says:

            John – In fairness to James, in three of Strawberry’s first four seasons, he did hit much better on the road than at home.

            1983: .784 home vs .920 road
            1984: .702 home vs .904 road
            1985: .984 home vs .912 road
            1986: .769 home vs .941 road

            After that, the trend reversed itself and Strawberry started hitting much better at Shea than on the road. Also, James stopped publishing his abstract in 1988, two years before Strawberry left the Mets. So those final two seasons when Strawberry hit well at Shea wouldn’t have been covered by James’ Abstracts.

          • 226
            John Autin says:

            Ed @225 — That’s a fair point. At the same time, Shea’s overall effect for 1983-86 (not just on Strawberry) should have been known to James. The one-year batting park factors starting in ’83 were 97, 100, 98 and 97.

            A line from the final Abstract (following the ’87 season, Straw’s 5th):

            “I think few fans appreciate what a great offensive player this guy is.”

            Well, maybe — but when that was written, Strawberry had started the All-Star game 4 years running, and would run that to 5 years in ’88. He didn’t start in ’89, when he batted .225 and missed 28 games. He was an All-Star reserve in 1990 and ’91, and after that he never deserved to be an All-Star.

            That’s a pretty solid body of fan esteem right there.

            Sure, I do remember some Mets fan criticism of Straw from that era, and even more from the local writers. But I think that was more about their perception of his attitude, a perception which — based on many years observing some Mets fans’ gut reactions to their stars — may have had a bit to do with race.

            Anyway, maybe James was focusing on the difference in fan regard for Strawberry vs. Mattingly, and there he was right. But there’s always been more to winning fans’ love than the numbers. And besides, while Straw may have been as valuable on offense as Mattingly during their respective primes, Donnie was, in fact, the more valuable player overall.

          • 232
            Ed says:

            Fair points John. On the other hand, we treat park effects as if they’re a single monolithic factor that effects everyone the same. We know it’s not true but it would be too complicated to do otherwise. So if we look beyond that and consider a young, hugely hyped prospect, playing in the largest media market in the world, we might expect his park effect to be different than the rest of his teammates. Playing in the limelight of the Big Apple has certainly done in many a more mature, less hyped player. Granted, playing for the Mets isn’t quite the same as playing for the Yankees, but I still think it would be an error to ignore the potential psychological effects and how those might have effected Strawberry in his early days while playing at Shea.

            As for starting All-Star games, two points:

            1) One can be considered a disappointment and still win an election. Just look at the recent presidential election. Lots of people were disappointed in Obama’s first 4 years but still felt he was the better candidate and voted for him again.

            2) A highly hyped player for a NY team is always going to have an advantage in getting elected to All-Star games than say Tim Raines playing in Montreal or Jose Cruz playing in Houston. More so in the pre-internet days.

          • 236
            John Autin says:

            Ed @232: “we treat park effects as if they’re a single monolithic factor that affects everyone the same. We know it’s not true….”

            Always worth remembering. But the specific case for Shea affecting Straw more than others during his first 4 years is undercut by his second 4 years, when he utterly reversed those early splits. From 1987-90, he hit 80 HRs at home, 64 away, and his home OPS was around .950, but under .840 away. During that time, Shea overall played no better for hitters than in the previous period. Thus, I think it’s likely that the difference in Straw’s splits for those two periods is more noise than signal.

            And James was writing after 1987, Straw’s 5th year, not his first 4. To that point in time, his splits were .263/.859 at home and .268/.919 away.

            “A highly hyped player for a NY team is always going to have an advantage in getting elected to All-Star games….”

            Even if this is true, which I’m not sure it is, it sounds like you’re saying that Straw was voted to start 5 All-Star games in his first 7 years because of hype, but was nevertheless seen as a disappointment by a large number of fans. That seems convoluted.

            Further, any highly hyped player in NY is also going to have a larger contingent of disappointed fans than the same player in KC or Cleveland. That’s not a good measure of overall appreciation level.

            In the Historical Abstract, James wrote that one of the leading sports magazines of the ’50s used to alternate offseason essays about Duke Snider, going from “why is Snider such a dog?” to “why doesn’t he get the respect he deserves?” But all the “dog” stories don’t add up to a sound overall measure of appreciation.

            I’d be glad to use a better test of the “underappreciated” theory on Strawberry, but I don’t know where to find data on jersey sales and approval ratings from that period. I do think that some Mets of that era were more popular with the fans, including Gooden, but from being there, I think that was more about personality.

            It’s not a big deal, but I just think both the claims James made about Strawberry — having a big home-field disadvantage, and being significantly underappreciated — clearly don’t fit the facts.

          • 238
            John Autin says:

            More to Ed @232: If NY stars have an edge in All-Star voting, how would you explain this?

            – From 1984-89, Don Mattingly averaged a 147 OPS+ and a TC line of .327-27-114, with 5 Gold Gloves. He started one All-Star game (1987).

            – From 1987-92, Mark McGwire averaged a 142 OPS+ and a TC line of .248-36-100, with 1 Gold Glove. He was voted to start five All-Star games (1988-92).

            In 1985, Mattingly was the reigning batting champ, and would be named MVP that year. But Eddie Murray won the All-Star vote.

            In ’86, Mattingly was the reigning MVP, and at the Break he was hitting .341 with 63 RBI. But the hot-starting rookie Wally Joyner (20 HRs at the Break) won the vote — as a write-in candidate.

            Mattingly won the voting in ’87.

            But in ’88, coming off a 4-year average of .337/30/121, Mattingly lost the vote to the reigning ROY, McGwire, who at the Break was hitting .248 with 16 HRs. Mattingly suffered a power outage that year (18 HRs total, 6 at the Break), but you might think his reputation was enough to carry him for a year. Not so.

            McGwire got the nod again in 1989, with .244-17-58 at the Break (Mattingly .313-11-56).

            McGwire won again in ’90, with .223-22-56 at the Break. Mattingly, after an ’89 season of .303-23-113, had a poor year in ’90 and did not make the AS team that year or ever again.

            McGwire won the vote again in ’91 with .201-13-42 at the Break (finished .201-22-75; missed the ASG due to injury).

            McGwire bounced back in ’92 with .262-28-69 at the Break and won the vote for the 5th year in a row.

            One example does not prove a point, of course. But that’s a pretty big example.

          • 239
            Ed says:

            John @236 Again, it just seems you’re being a bit unfair to James. The quote you lifted from the ’88 Abstract doesn’t actually say anything about park effects. I no longer own copies of James’ Abstracts but if, as I seem to remember, James’ made comments about about Shea hurting Strawberry’s numbers in earlier Abstracts, then those comments would be accurate at that time.

            James’ comment has to do with overall impressions of Strawberry as an offensive player. He was writing it during a time period in which lots of fans still valued high batting average and to that point Strawberry had hit .257, .251, .277, .259 and .284. Heck, to this day there are fans who think that Reggie Jackson doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame because his career batting average is only .262. So one can certainly see where James might have been coming from in thinking that fans didn’t appreciate the offensive force that Strawberry was in his early years.

            As for using All-Star voting as a proxy for how fans feel about a player, I just don’t see it. Take this example. In 1991, the reigning AL Rookie of the Year, was batting .241 with 0 home runs, 4 RBIs, and 7 runs scored in 151 plate appearances. That’s about as disappointing of a first half as possible. Yet fans didn’t care. They voted him in as the starter anyway. The next year, that same player got off to a better, though still disappointing start, hitting .241, with 2 HRs, 23 RBIs, and 15 runs scored. He was again voted the All Star starter. (this would be Sandy Alomar, btw, just in case you didn’t recognize the reference). I just don’t see enough logic in All Star voting to use it as a basis for drawing meaningful conclusions.

          • 240
            Ed says:

            In response to John @238 I’m not sure why Mattingly didn’t start more All-Star games. Perhaps Yankees fans didn’t want to seem to overeager in stuffing the ballot? Just looking at the 80s, a full 25% of American League All-Star starters (20/80) were NY Yankees. This despite the fact that the Yankee players only represented about 7% of American regulars (one of 14 teams) and the 80s were generally a down period for the Yankees franchise. So yeah, I feel fairly confident in saying that Yankees players have an advantage in starting All Star games. It may not apply to every player in every situation but it’s definitely there. Of course I do recognize that same advantage may not apply to players on NY’s other team.

          • 254
            Voomo Zanzibar says:

            They hype for Strawberry felt like a direct correlation of his arrival being concurrent with the Mets not sucking for the first time in forever (in his sophmore year, thank you Davey Johnson and D. Gooden).

  89. 200
    Lawrence Azrin says:

    Bonds, Biggio, Alomar

  90. 210
    Hub Kid says:

    Kevin Brown, Barry Larkin, Curt Schilling

  91. 211
    Lawrence Azrin says:

    #203/ Dr.Doom –

    Sorry to hear about Frank’s passing; I always enjoyed his observations, and his anectdotes about games he saw well before I was born.

  92. 213
    Old Yeller says:

    Lofton, Walker, Mussina

    • 220
      birtelcom says:

      Lofton’s now been named on 10 ballots, which should be plenty to carry him over to the next round via the 10% standard (79 ballots have been cast so far). As of this moment, seven different guys have been named on between 20 and 27 ballots — at that rate all seven would win two-round extension awards via the 25% rule. (Only Alomar and Lofton would continue on with immediate vulnerability next round.) But there remain a bunch of guys just a smidgen above 25% who could fall below that level in the late voting

  93. 227
    Arsen says:

    Bonds, Schilling, Alomar

  94. 230
    Brendan says:

    Bonds, Smoltz, Alomar

  95. 231
    PP says:

    51 of 81 isn’t exactly a convincing argument for Bonds. Also, will there be a single place we can go to see a summary of past results? Just wondering…

    • 233
      birtelcom says:

      Indeed, Bonds down to 63% currently. But that’s a much higher percentage than he received from the baseball writers, it’s much higher than anyone else this round, and some of the non-votes may be for strategic reasons unrelated to a critique of Bonds himself (with Bonds way ahead, some may be using his ballot spot to support others in more competitive, if subsidiary, ballot races).

      As to a vote summary table, that is something I’ve been working on and will have available soon, as will a proposed plan for redemption votes that would bring back past candidates that have dropped off the ballot.

      • 249
        PP says:

        Agree with you about Bonds’ big lead, though baseball writers be danged I was expecting more than 75% from HHS.

    • 242
      Hartvig says:

      I’m not sure that in this voting percentages mean all that much either. There’s no 75% threshold, not even a majority required- just 1 more vote than anyone else. Plus, everyone gets 3 votes but they’re not ranked in order. It’s possible even that the person getting the most votes in a particular year may not be the person that that greatest number of people feel is the best player. In a few years we’re coming to a season where we don’t have a lot of qualified candidates coming on board. That could lead to a couple of different scenarios. First is the “best” player issue. 30% of the voters see player A as the best player on the ballot but only 10% see him as second best and another 10% see him as third. For Player B the numbers are 25%, 15% & 15%. If every one of those people put those 2 players on their ballots then player B will be on 55% of the ballots and player A only 50%, even though more people thought he was actually the best player. Another issue could be since this is a rare opportunity for some of these guys to make it in there could be a real horse race to see who gets in and a lot less strategic voting than we’re seeing right now. We could see a couple of guys on 70% or more of the ballots with everyone else dividing up the remainder.

      • 251
        PP says:

        It looks to me like ’61 is going to make or break a few of these guys for good. I’ve been voting for Mussina steadily and Glavine the past two but after ’61 that’s it. One of them gets in, which seems unlikely, or they both eventually fade off the list.

        • 253
          Bells says:

          I am rubbing my hands in anticipation of the ’61 vote. Those pitchers have been battling to a relative stalemate in recent ballots (although it seems like Smoltz is a small step behind the other 3), but now we’ve also got around equal support for some great position players like Walker, Biggio and Larkin (with the ever-present Alomar trailing)… throw in an Edgar Martinez and you’ve possibly got 8 candidates that have a shot at election that year. I haven’t decided whether I want to vote ultra-strategically (ie. pick a favourite and give my other two votes to guys who won’t contend) or just vote for who I think are the 3 best players and let the vote tallies sort it out. I’m leaning towards the latter, because I like the honour (for lack of a better word, I know it’s a bit too weighty for this exercise) of it. It’s a whole different scenario when you’re voting someone for induction, rather than trying to keep guys on the ballot in a ‘predictable’ election year, so I’m fascinated to see who’ll come out on top.

          • 255
            Ed says:

            ’61 will definitely be interesting. Wouldn’t be surprised if the winner is named on fewer than 50% of the ballots.

    • 247
      bstar says:

      PP, Until birtelcom yields his vote summary table, here’s a quick list of winners so far with their final winning percentage listed (Bonds % still subject to change):

      1968 Mike Piazza 79%

      1967 Jeff Bagwell 73%

      1966 Greg Maddux 91%

      1965 Frank Thomas 66%

      1964 Barry Bonds 63%

  96. 234
    Jeff Hill says:

    Anyone NOT voting for Bonds that DOESN’T have an agenda to put/keep their fan favorite(s) player in has lost their mind.

    Bonds…..landslide, Mussina, Schilling(Irony).

    • 237
      birtelcom says:

      Though I may not agree with it personally, there is a rational, defensible position that in using banned performance-enhancing drugs (and even Barry has admitted he used them) Bonds voided his claim to a place on this ballot, with other highly qualified candidates avaialble to vote for who do not appear to have used banned PEDs. It’s been interesting to me to see how HHS voters, individually and collectively, have responded to this issue in the context of the COG voting mechanism.

  97. 241
    John Autin says:

    Ed @240 — Firstly, the ’80s were anything but a down period for the Yankees. Although they only made the playoffs twice, they won 15 more games in the ’80s than any other team. Their combined W% for 1980-89 was .547, which projects to 89-73 in a full season.

    Secondly, I get the Yanks winning 22% of available AS votes in the ’80s — 18 of 81, using Baseball Almanac’s data. (81 spots because the DH was added to the ballot in ’89.)

    But the details:

    1980 – Jackson, Dent
    1981 – Jackson, Dent, Randolph, Winfield
    1982 – [none]
    1983 – Winfield
    1984 – Winfield
    1985 – Winfield, Henderson
    1986 – Winfield, Henderson
    1987 – Winfield, Henderson, Mattingly, Randolph
    1988 – Winfield, Henderson
    1989 – [none]

    13 out of 18 went to HOfers Winfield, Henderson and Jackson, 2 more to the HOF-worthy Randolph, 1 to fan favorite Mattingly.

    Yes, the 2 starts given to Bucky Dent were a travesty. But every ASG vote has a travesty or two. Last year, Rafael Furcal won the NL SS vote.

    And if you want to show that Winfield, Henderson, Jackson, Randolph or Mattingly got more than a reasonable number of ASG starts given their caliber of play, be my guest.

    • 243
      Ed says:

      Before joining the Yankees, Henderson was a regular for the As for 5 seasons. He played in 4 All-Star games with the As but only started once. Immediately upon joining the Yankees, he started the next 4 All-Star games.

      Before joining the Yankees, Dave Winfield was a regular for the Padres, for 7 seasons. He played in 4 All-Star games with Padres but only started once. After joining the Yankees, Winfield started 7 of the next 8 All-Star games.

      I rest my case.

      • 246
        John Autin says:

        But it often takes several years for great players to be recognized in the ASG voting. Consider 3 recent Yankee homegrown stars:

        – Robinson Cano’s first 5 years averaged a .306 BA, 17 HRs, 40 doubles. In that time, he was never voted to the AS team.

        – Bernie Williams from 1996-99 averaged .328-25-104 with a 146 OPS+ and 3 Gold Gloves. His first ASG election came in 2000.

        – Derek Jeter from 1996-99 averaged .319-16-84 and 120 Runs. His first ASG election was in 2000.

        So when the Yankees acquire a mid-career star like Winfield or Henderson — or Teixeira, A-Rod, etc. — it’s no surprise if their ASG elections while with the Yanks outpace their past recognition. They’re being recognized to some extent for their whole careers.

  98. 244
    John Autin says:

    Ed — In retrospect, I concede that whatever Bill James may have said in the mid-’80s about Shea’s impact on Strawberry’s stats was reasonable at the time, and my critique of that aspect was unfair.

    I should have just noted Straw’s overall balanced splits as a Met, and not framed that as a contradiction of James’s remarks.

    • 245
      Ed says:

      John – No worries. As I said, I’m going off of my memory of what James said. And at age 43, the ‘ol memory ain’t what it used to be. So I may be completely misremembering what James said re: Strawberry.

  99. 257
    MikeD says:

    Barry Bonds, Mike Mussina, Roberto Alomar.

  100. 260
    JamesS says:

    Barry Bonds, Tom Glavine, Jay Buhner

  101. 265
    Insert Name Here says:

    Birtelcom, I noticed that votes that have been made since my vote change @250 have been added, yet my change has not been made.

    My vote should be for Brown, Walker, and Larkin.

    I know it may seem premature to make this statement when voting doesn’t close for over 24 hours, but it seems doubtful that I will be on HHS between now and then, and I felt it would be better to ensure that votes are counted correctly now rather than try to fix things retroactively later.

  102. 266
    Dr. Doom says:

    Kinda thinking no one should vote anymore today, if only for the good of the three players (Biggio, Smoltz, and Walker) who are sitting at EXACTLY 25%. Unless, of course, someone’s gonna vote a Biggio-Smoltz-Walker ticket, in which case, go for it. Otherwise, it’s probably just best to let the voting rest for this round, allowing for maximum returns vis-a-vis eligibility.

    • 267
      Ed says:

      So once the results are how you’d like them to be, no one else should vote? 🙂

      Personally, I think one of those 3 is clearly being overrated by certain voters devotion to WAR, which is only an estimate, an estimate with unknown accuracy. That would of course be Mr. Walker. I’ve looked at his Rbat compared to contemporaries of similar career length and similar road OPS. In every case, Walker’s Rbat is 25-40% higher even though the players I compared him to had slightly longer careers. Which means Walker benefited A LOT from Coors Field and/or his Rbat isn’t accurate. Either way it seems pretty clear to me Walker doesn’t deserve a two year extension and may not even deserve a one year extension. Some people claim that Walker is underrated but I think the opposite has become true.

      • 274
        Hartvig says:

        While I’m not yet convinced of Walker’s worthiness yet- nor that of Lofton or Alomar or even Smoltz for that matter- I do like having some time to think on the issue. And that’s mostly because excellent arguments like the one you just made will pop up from time to time and give me a new perspective on the issue.

        That said, I still prefer having the option of being able to do something about it if someone is able to convince me otherwise.

        Since as we currently stand only 4 players who’s future my vote could possibly have any impact on are Walker, Larkin, Biggio & Smoltz this gives me some food for thought

      • 275
        Dr. Doom says:

        I guess at this point, it’s irrelevant, since Vinny’s voted already.

        As for Walker, yes, he had a higher home OPS than road OPS. And yes, his Rbat recognizes that. Honestly, though, he was an OUTSTANDING hitter, and had a great arm in the outfield. I mean, we’ve had the home-road splits discussion so many times – that’s the argument that was used against Ron Santo, as I’m sure you’ll recall.

        But let’s look at facts. Let’s take Walker’s best season, 1997. Therein, he played in an 1831-run environment. That’s 11.3 R/G. By good ol’ classic Runs Created, Walker generated 181 runs that year (b-r credits him with 187). That’s 16 games worth of runs. That’s a lot of runs. And he was still a plus-defender at that point. But let’s split them up by home and road games.

        In home games, Walker created 96.2 runs. In road games, 84.8 runs.
        At home, the run environment was 1046; on the road, 785.
        That’s 12.9 R/G at home, 9.7 R/G on the road.

        That means Walker generated 7.5 games worth of offense at home, and 8.7 games worth of offense on the road. That does not look, to me, like someone who was so “substantially” better at home. Of course the numbers were superficially better, but I believe that the adjustments made by park factors (which are more complicated than a simple “run environment” analysis like I did) do plenty to compensate for the different contexts.

        Of course, this is one season, and I picked the most famous one. Let’s try two more – two years before 1997 (first season in Colorado), and five years after (last full season in Colorado).

        Rockies at home: 975 Runs in 72 games = 13.5 R/G
        Rockies on the Road: 593 Runs in 72 games = 8.2 R/G
        Walker at home: 69.7 Runs; 5.2 games of scoring
        Walker on the road: 41.9 Runs; 5.1 games of scoring

        Rockies at home: 967 Runs in 81 games = 11.9 R/G
        Rockies on the Road: 778 Runs in 81 games = 9.6 R/G
        Walker at home: 59.3 Runs; 5.0 games of scoring
        Walker on the road: 31.2 Runs; 3.25 games of scoring

        So, in 2003, there was a pretty substantial difference in how valuable Walker was at home vs. on the road (though he did start 6 more games at home than on the road, and that could be some of the difference). But in the other two of his Rockies years, I don’t really think there was. I think the Coors effect is overblown when it comes to discussing Walker. Yes, his “regular” numbers were inflated. But the sabermetric stats do a good job accounting for that, I think.

        • 278
          Dr. Doom says:

          So, I couldn’t leave it at three years once I started this little project, so I whipped up a spreadsheet to do it for me. In choosing 1995, it appears I did actually choose one of the three closest home/road split years in Walker’s career. But the others weren’t abnormal. Especially if you control for playing time by taking RC/(R/G) and then divide that by Games Played. Four times in Walker’s career, he was more productive on the road than at home – only twice in Colorado. Once in 1997, and then in his half-season there in 2004. But, to not be boring, I’ll just present this as a “table,” with the number of games Walker created offensive runs for, per 81 games, each season of his career (there may be some errors in the 2004 season, because I had to use game logs and do a lot by hand, and I might have messed up – sorry). First is home, then road, then the difference (home-road):

          1989, MON, 1.5/0.3 +1.2
          1990, MON, 5.1/4.1 +1.0
          1991, MON, 5.9/5.9 +0.0
          1992, MON, 6.0/8.2 -2.2
          1993, MON, 7.7/4.1 +3.6
          1994, MON, 7.5/8.2 -0.7
          1995, COL, 6.5/6.2 +0.3
          1996, COL, 6.4/1.7 +4.7
          1997, COL, 7.7/9.5 -1.8
          1998, COL, 8.6/6.5 +2.1
          1999, COL, 8.9/5.7 +3.2
          2000, COL, 5.8/4.6 +1.2
          2001, COL, 8.0/6.8 +1.2
          2002, COL, 6.9/6.9 +0.0
          2003, COL, 5.5/3.8 +1.7
          2004, COL, 4.2/8.8 -4.6
          2004, STL, 5.7/6.9 -0.8
          2005, STL, 6.5/4.1 +2.4

          1993, 1996, 1999, and 2004 (COL) really stick out. In 1996, he missed half the season, so the samples are small; 2004 was only a half-season anyway, and so again the sample is small. Then there’s 1993 and 1996, but the first of those was in Montreal. So really, only 1996 really stands out to me as being aberrant in terms of Walker’s production at home versus the road. Yes, he was helped by his ballpark. I just think it’s a bit overstated, when in reality he was a really great player.

      • 277
        John Autin says:

        I would have voted for Walker if we weren’t limited to 3 on a ballot.

        Among all RFs with 1,000+ career games, Walker ranks:

        – 7th in WAR
        – 8th in OPS+
        – 9th in Rbat
        – 3rd in Rbaser (Granted, we do not have sophisticated baserunning data for some great RFs, but he ranks behind only Ichiro and Aaron, ahead of Gwynn, Winfield, Bobby Bonds.)

        Am I sure that WAR accurately neutralizes his Coors Effect or measures his defensive value? No. But I’m confident that he was a very good hitter — 130 OPS+ in 5 full years with Montreal, and 134 OPS+ in roughly one full year with St. Louis at the end. And I’m confident that he was a good defender and baserunner. And he’s in the top 20 in games played in RF.

        I definitely see Walker’s career being as valuable as that of Winfield or Dwight Evans, both of whom I consider HOFers.

      • 284
        bstar says:

        Bill James from his ’86 Abstract: “…Ballparks create gigantic illusions in player statistics…the effect of the park in which the man plays must constantly be kept in mind when evaluating his accomplishments…”

        Let’s look at Walker’s road OPS vs. the road OPS of other similar players who played mostly in the National League at approximately the same time as Walker and accumulated a substantial # of PAs:

        .890 Chipper Jones
        .890 Jim Edmonds
        .881 Ryan Klesko
        .865 Larry Walker
        .857 Jeff Kent
        .856 Luis Gonzalez
        .851 Sammy Sosa
        .849 Derrek Lee
        .843 Bobby Bonilla

        The problem here is Walker has zero Coors Field road games in his time with Colorado (duh). Do we need to make an adjustment here? The quick answer is yes, but Sammy Sosa has zero Wrigley games and Gonzo has zero Arizona games, etc. Plus NL East & Central guys are only playing three games a year at Coors anymore. It would be a noble effort to set everyone at a level playing field as far as road numbers, but that seems like a very time-intensive study and is beyond the scope of this comment.

        Looking at the list, we’ve got one sure-fire Hall of Fame hitter, Chipper. Kent is a probable (as a second baseman and purely from a hitting perspective) and Sosa is borderline to me. Edmonds might be the best comp here as he provided some value defensively like Walker. The rest are not really worthy of Hall consideration.

        Looking at batting runs (home AND road numbers), Larry Walker has 420 Rbat while the average of all other players on the list is 300. What portion of these extra runs come from his Coors Field numbers? If we attribute all of those runs to that, that would take Walker’s WAR down by 12 wins. That seems a little drastic, so maybe 6-10 extra WAR came from Coors Field.

        There’s little doubt that Larry Walker provided more value in fielding and baserunning than this group of players, but I’m left with the same conclusion I had before I looked at these numbers, that Walker was probably more of a borderline yes Hall of Famer overall than a no-doubt one as his overall numbers suggest.

        • 285
          Ed says:

          Bstar – I like it when intelligent people look at the same data I do and come to the same conclusion! I only looked at 3 players and didn’t control for league but otherwise it was the same as your analysis – similar Road OPS, similar career length and contemporaries of Walker. I came up with John Olerud, Bernie Williams and Luis Gonzalez. It’s just stunning how much higher Walkers Rbat is, particularly since his road Rbat is probably about the same as the players we looked at. If we could isolate home park Rbat, Walkers’ would probably 50-80% higher than the players we looked at.

          My bottom line conclusion from my analysis was about the same as yours…his WAR is about 6-10 higher then expected. He was certainly a fine player but a lot of his HOF case rests on the existence of Coors Field. If Denver was never awarded a franchise, then it’s highly unlikely we’d be having this conversation. And that to me says a lot.

          • 295
            Dr. Doom says:

            6 WAR might be fair. Even if we go with 10, which is A LOT (basically 1 Win per year in Colorado), you’re STILL looking at a guy with 60 WAR, and an outstanding peak. I just don’t think you can say “Coors Field!” and make that all disappear.

            Then again, I’m not as sure about the idiosyncrasies of the Rbat calculation and why Walker would be so highly ranked, except that I would point out that his road OPS is quite excellent, and that if he were able to accomplish even more at home, that shouldn’t be held against him. Taking special advantage of one’s home ballpark IS a skill (lookin’ at you, Wade Boggs) and should be respected. Has anyone looked into Rbat enough to know why it is that Walker’s is so high, comparatively speaking?

          • 296
            bstar says:

            Yeah, I tried to stick with National Leaguers to avoid the difference between the two leagues. I should have left Fred McGriff in(he certainly got more WAR in the NL), as he was on the high end up there with Chipper and Edmonds at .887 road OPS and there are only three names ahead of Walker.

            So refiguring including McGriff, who had 400 Rbat, the avg. excluding Walker on my list above goes to 312. That’s still +108 for Walker above the average.

            It’s also a little confusing to me why people lately have outright questioned Kenny Lofton’s defensive numbers but not Walker’s. Lofton has 108 Rfield while Walker has 94. To me, they were both obviously great defensive outfielders. Why is there an air of suspicion around Lofton’s D but not Walker’s?

        • 297
          Richard Chester says:

          Larry Walker:
          At Coors Field, OPS = 1.172 in 2501 PA
          At all other parks, OPS = .871 in 5529 PA
          Overall, .965

        • 299
          John Autin says:

          Two things to keep in mind when talking about home/away splits:

          1) Hitters collectively fare better at home. Over the last 4 years combined, the home OPS has been 5% higher than the road OPS.

          2) Some hitters significantly outperform their home park factors. Maybe some specific aspect of their home parks benefits them more than others; maybe it’s just psychological, or a combination of factors.

          I used the Batting Splits Finder to get home/away splits for the hitters with the most PAs over the last 20 years. (275 hitters with at least 2,000 PAs both home and away.) Then I used Excel to rank their home OPS as a percentage of their road OPS.

          It’s no surprise that 7 of the top 10 spent several years in Denver — Bichette, Walker, Uribe (also benefited in CHW), Helton, Holliday, Galarraga, and Neifi Perez — with Castilla and E.Young ranking #13-14.

          And others in the top 20 also had obvious home-park advantages: Kinsler (#2), Troy O’Leary (#6), Konerko (#12), M.Young (#16). All the guys mentioned had OPS at least 15% higher at home.

          But a few of these leaders had no obvious home park advantage:

          – Kevin Young, #10 at +17%. Young was a regular most years from 1993-2002, with just one year away from Pittsburgh. That was a pretty neutral park, averaging a 101 BPF in those years. But Young hit much better at home, especially in 1998-99, his 100-RBI years. His career OPS splits were .822 home, .702 road.

          – Cristian Guzman, #11 at +17%. For his career, Guzman batted .291 at home, .251 away. The Metrodome averaged a 102 BPF in his years there, and Washington’s parks favored the pitcher. It wasn’t a grass/turf thing for Guzman; he batted .275 on turf, .269 on grass. But whatever it was, the effect was big.

          – Alex Rios, #15 at +15%. A regular with Toronto from 2004-09, when they averaged a 100 BPF. He’s been in CHW for 3 years, a good hitter’s park (avg. 105 BPF), but his home edge there has been less than in Toronto.

          – Michael Cuddyer, #17 at +14%. A regular with Minnesota from 2004-11, when their parks averaged a 98 BPF. His home edge in Colorado last year was a hair less than his previous career average.

          – Brandon Inge, #25 at +12%. Inge spent almost his whole career in Detroit, a regular from 2001-11; the park averaged a 98 BPF in those years. And last year with Oakland, he hit much better at home (+.167 in OPS).

          That’s 5 of the top 25 in home OPS edge who had no obvious home park advantage, but still had home OPS that was 12%-17% better than away.

          Factoring in all of this, plus the fact that he had only 24 *road* games in Denver, is it unreasonable to surmise that he “deserved” a home edge of perhaps 12%?

          That surmise would give him a home OPS of .969, which is about .100 above his road mark but .100 below his actual home mark.

          That, in turn, would give him a “neutral” OPS of .917. And that would rank 24th in OPS among the 318 players with 3,000+ PAs in 1990-2005 (his years as a regular). It would rank above JuanGon, Mo Vaughn, Palmeiro, David Ortiz, and Sosa, among others.

          Add in his defensive and baserunning value, and it feels like a pretty good HOF case. Not a slam dunk, but a good shot.

    • 269
      Vinny says:

      Smoltz is already on the ticket until 1960 and he wasn’t as good as Mussina, so why should I worry about Smoltz getting 25%?

  103. 268
    Vinny says:

    Mussina, Walker, Biggio

  104. 270
    Brooklyn Mick says:

    Sad news: Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver has passed away at age 82. Boy, he could give an umpire a run for his money before he got ran, and he always got his money’s worth.

    • 271
      Richard Chester says:

      As of 2006 his 97 ejections as a manager put him in third place on the all-time list behind Bobby Cox and John McGraw.

      • 272
        Brooklyn Mick says:

        I read that he was thrown out of both games of doubleheaders 3 times, and was also twice ejected before the game even started.

      • 273
        John Autin says:

        Anyone remember this Weaver blowup?

        “During the September 15, 1977 game between the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays at Exhibition Stadium, Orioles manager Earl Weaver claimed a tarp being used on the bullpen mound endangered his players. After arguing with umpire Marty Springstead, Weaver was ejected and he responded by pulling his team from the field, forfeiting the game to the Blue Jays.[6] This marked the first (and to date only) time since 1914 that a Major League baseball team deliberately decided to forfeit a game.”

        The O’s were already behind 4-0 in the 5th. But it was a hell of a time to take a stand. They were in a 3-way division race and were blazing hot, having won 7 straight and 15 of 18, and began the day 2 losses behind New York with 17 games left. And the Jays were expansion patsies, en route to 107 losses.

        After the forfeit, the O’s went 10-5 but made up no ground.

        Weird thing about the schedule that year: Baltimore and New York last met on July 28, with 62 games left to play. In the first year of 7-team divisions, the AL had not yet adopted the fully balanced schedule we remember (13 games against division foes, 12 against the others). But even 15 games don’t stretch that far into the year without deliberate scheduling.

        Anyway, after that last BAL-NYY game, the O’s were 57-43 and in first by 1 game. They went 40-21 from there, but lost ground to both the Yanks (45-17) and BoSox (42-21).

        It’s funny that there’s so much more written about the ’78 race.

        • 302
          Jason Z says:

          John-I do remember the Weaver blowup.

          1977 was the first year I ate, slept and drank

          I would listen to Yankee games on the radio that I hid
          under my pillow. My bedtime as a ten-year-old required
          this subterfuge.

          Even when the game ended, I could not go to sleep until
          I heard the postgame scoreboard show. How could I possibly sleep until I knew how the Red Sox and O’s did. It seemed to me that all three teams won most of time. My last thought every night was what the AL East standings would look like in the morning paper.

          Their records after July 29th confirms my memory and perception.

          Arguably, the three best teams in baseball that year
          resided in the AL East.

          And you are right John, it was an amazing year in the AL East that season. Someone should write a book.

        • 344
          Doug says:

          I also remember that game. It was a cold, wet, miserable night, and Weaver had been into it with the umpires throughout the game.

          The Jays had put up a 4-spot in the 4th, and Weaver was incensed over a couple of plays. The inning was set up by an infield single that looked like a bad call at first base – should probably have been the second out. The next batter (looking at the PBP, it was Rick Cerone) hit a lazy fly into foul territory that wasn’t caught when the Oriole outfielder stumbled over that tarp-covered bullpen mound. A wild pitch followed to score a run and then Cerone doubled and the big inning was on.

          I don’t think it was a calculated move by Weaver – just that he was really in a foul mood and the tarp was a convenient lightning rod. If I’m wrong and it was calculated, then it may not have been a bad idea. The Orioles had played a double-header the night before, their third in ten days, so they needed a break. They had won their last seven, so they were due for a loss. It was a awful night to be playing baseball and trying to make a comeback. All in all, it just wasn’t the Orioles night – why not cut it short, and start fresh tomorrow (or, something like that).

    • 276
      John Autin says:

      Weaver’s O’s won 6 division crowns, but some of the years they came up short are fascinating:

      1975 — 41-44 at the Break, went 49-25 after but finished 4 losses behind Boston.

      1977 — described in my comment #273.

      1980 — 11 games behind on July 14 and still 7.5 back as August dawned, they went 45-18 and finished with 100 wins, but still 3 back of NYY. Starting August with a 19-4 run got them within a half game, but they dropped 2 @ the woeful Mariners, missing a chance to forge ahead, and while they went 26-12 from there, the Yanks roared home at 28-9.

      1982 — 7.5 games back on August 20, a 17-1 spurt got them back in the race, and a mid-September 5-game sweep of NYY carried them within a game of Milwaukee, with 7 of their last 16 games against the Brewers. The O’s won 2 of 3 in Milwaukee, but Detroit put a dent in their hopes taking 2 of 3 in series right before and after that one. In their last game with Detroit, Baltimore trailed Jack Morris 5-2 in the 9th, and a loss would have left them 4 back with 4 left. But Morris let the first 3 men reach, and the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead. So the O’s went home with a chance to win outright by sweeping the Brew Crew. They won the first 3, all blowouts, but September pickup Don Sutton bested Jim Palmer in the finale, and Milwaukee scored 5 in the 9th off Dennis Martinez to salt away their first division title. And for the 3rd time in 6 years, Baltimore won 94+ games but missed the playoffs.

      Had a wild card existed back then, the O’s would have won it in 1976, ’77 (tie), ’80 and ’82, and would have had a chance in ’75 via makeup games.

      • 301
        Jason Z says:

        On the morning of August 29, 1974 Earl Weaver awoke to
        find his Orioles mired in 4th place in the “classic”
        AL East.

        Their record was 63-65 and they trailed the first place
        Red Sox by eight full games.

        From that day until the end of the season they went
        28-6 and ended up to 2 games ahead of the NY Yankees
        who finished strongly themselves, going 22-11 from
        this date forward.

        The Sox? They finished 13-21.

        Baltimore won Game one of the ALCS against Oakland by a
        score of 6-3.

        Sadly for The Earl of Baltimore, their season ended right there.

        For in the next three games the Birds had 12 hits and scored
        exactly one run.

        Oakland would go on to beat the Dodgers and win their 3rd WS in
        a row.

    • 279
      Brooklyn Mick says:

      I got to thinking how fortunate I am to have watched the careers of HOF Managers Earl Weaver, Dick Williams, Sparky Anderson, Whitey Herzog, and Tommy Lasorda. All great managers and remarkable personalities.

      Between the five of them their careers overlapped significantly. From 1967 to 1995 this fab five won 10 World Series, 21 Pennants, and 30 Divisions.

      Now, an obvious question for birtelcom. Can we have a wing in the COG for managers?

      • 281
        birtelcom says:

        I’m keeping pretty busy with the players at the moment. If one of the other HHS writers wants to pick up on the idea, I’d welcome a “managers wing” effort.

        • 334
          Brooklyn Mick says:

          I understand birtelcom, and I thank you for your efforts.

          If someone does decide to run a Manager’s Wing, I think the best way would be do rank the managers in order of greatness. The ballot could consist of all managers with at least 1000 career wins. Voters would pick one and only one manager each round. Voting would consist of 20 rounds, and at the end we would have the 20 greatest managers of all time ranked in order of what the HHS voters deem to be so.

          In keeping with your theme of “tough” decisions, in the first round, voters would have to decide who was the “greatest” manager of all time. Connie Mack because of his longevity? Casey Stengel because of his WS wins? John McGraw? Maybe Dick Williams for winning Pennants with three different teams and taking a fourth team (Expos)to the playoffs?

          This would also be an exercise in evaluating teams rather than individual players, while also considering the different eras in which managers managed. Did a certain manager’s teams overachieve or underachieve? How level was the playing field? Many other questions that voters could ask themselves when evaluating a manager.

      • 286
        Ed says:

        Brookyln Mick – No mention of Billy Martin???? Sure he was controversial but he was certainly a great manager.

        • 332
          Brooklyn Mick says:

          Ed, I purposely didn’t mention Billy to see how long before someone else would. Billy took 3 different teams to the post-season, won 1 WS, and 2 Pennants. So, I agree with you that he was a great manager, and I loved the fact that he was controversial.

          On a side note, last night I watched Game 5 of the 1976 ALCS on Yankees Classics. Howard Cosell, Keith Jackson, and (yes) Reggie Jackson worked the booth, while Billy Martin and Whitey Herzog worked the dugouts and the umps.

          Great back and forth action that ended with Chambliss’s walk-off homeer in the bottom of the 9th.

          And watching a 23 year old George Brett was a treat as well.

        • 338
          John Autin says:

          BTW, Mick, Billy took *4* different clubs to the postseason: ’71 ’69 Twins, ’72 Tigers, ’76-’77 Yanks, and ’81 A’s.

          Speaking of Martin, two philosophical questions:

          1) Among all managers/coaches in all of pro sports history, is there anyone else you would consider to be “in the same ballpark” as Martin in combining success on the field and self-immolating disaster off the field? There must be someone, but I don’t know the other sports well enough. Maybe an NHL coach?

          Martin’s record in this regard would be awfully hard to match. He made the playoffs with 4 different clubs, and in each case, did not last 2 full seasons thereafter.

          2) Was Martin’s skill at winning games inextricably linked with the tendencies that limited his tenure as a winning manager? I refer not just to his penchant for picking fights (physical and otherwise) and pissing people off, but also his heavy use of his best pitchers, some of whom seem (anecdotally, at least) to have lost effectiveness soon after their big years with Billy.

          In other words, can you imagine a Billy Martin who both won and lasted 5+ years in a job? Myself, I think not, but would like to hear other opinions.

          • 339
            Brooklyn Mick says:

            You’re right John that he won with *4* teams, but it was the ’69 Twins and not the ’71 team.

            Off the top of my head I can’t think of any other quite like Billy.

            As for his skill at winning being linked to his personality, I think those aggressive and abrasive traits were manifestations of what drove him as a player and a manager. He had a chip on his shoulder the size of New York! He dealt with his inner rage by being an oftentimes maniacal competitor, lashing out at owners, umpires, players, teammates, you name it.

            And, of course, off the field it was the booze-fueled confrontations that made headlines. The booze, coupled with the rage and violence, were Billy’s fatal flaws, quite literally. He was his own worst enemy if ever there was one.

            I’ll go on the record and say that despite his flaws, there’s a place for Billy in the Hall of Fame. Maybe someday, but with guys like Torre, Cox, LaRussa, and Leyland not yet in, it will probably be a long time before he gets in, if ever.

          • 340
            birtelcom says:

            Billy was unique, but other field manager types with Billy’s career characteristics of itinerancy, quick fixes and burned bridges might be Mike Keenan in hockey and Larry Brown in basketball.

    • 280
      Brooklyn Mick says:

      Shorten the period to 1967-1988:

      10 World Series
      20 Pennants
      28 Divisions

  105. 283
    Bells says:

    Man, what a great thread this is. A competitive ballot (albeit not for first place), heated discussion on PEDs, anecdotes and memories of players who are being bypassed on the ballot, discussion of New York favouritism or its non-existence, even lessons in html tags. This is what I envisioned when I got excited about this continuing project. I hope spirited debate can continue through the weeks/years.

    Anyway, here’s my ballot:

    Bonds – I think it’s clear he was the best ball player
    Walker – Ed and Dr. Doom’s recent back-and-forth on him have made me scrutinize a bit more, but as of now I’m still on the ‘he’s underrated’ side of things
    Smoltz – well, hell, if a guy’s that close to a ballot extension and my vote ain’t gonna make a difference to anyone else, might as well toss it his way. I like Smoltzy, if it were for election I’d put him behind the other 3 pitchers on the ballot, but it’s not, so…

    I almost put my third vote for Palmeiro, if only because I kinda felt sorry for him – if Bonds is the steroid candidate you can’t ignore on this ballot, Rafael is certainly the steroid candidate you can ignore. I kinda felt sorry for him – but then I remembered how embarrassing the finger-wagging was, and convinced myself that other guys were better candidates anyway. We’ll see what happens when McGwire comes up next, but I might overlook his embarrassing performance on the stand because, well, I’m not here to talk about the past. Oh wait, that’s the whole purpose of this exercise. Well, shoot, sorry Big Mac.

  106. 287
    Ed says:

    Wow first Weaver and now Stan Musial. Two of the greats. Was Musial the oldest living HOFer?

    • 288
      Ed says:

      Answering my own question. Bobby Doerr is the oldest living HOFer. Monte Irvin is second. Musial was third.

    • 292
      Hartvig says:

      Goodbye to the last bigger-than-life baseball character of that generation.

      I don’t remember ever reading an article about Musial that didn’t at least mention in passing what a nice guy he was.

      • 307
        no statistician but says:

        In the middle and mid-southern parts of the country in the late 1940s and 1950s there was no question who was the greatest player in the big leagues. Not widely known now is the fact that the Cardinals in that era had the most extensive radio broadcasting network of any team, and a huge number of local stations in those states filled the air with the voices of Harry Caray, Jack Buck, and for a time Joe Garagiola, all recounting the true exploits of Stan the Man, a nickname he earned through his performance. He was probably the most beloved and universally respected great player in National League history, and during his career he was generally regarded—maybe not in Boston—as a better player than his American League counterpart Ted Williams. Some of us, not blinded by stats alone, still feel that way.

        The argument goes like this—which guy would you rather have on your team, one who plays all out all the time, has all the tools, is an inspiration to his teammates for his dedication and leadership, and incidentally leads the league in multiple categories year after year, or one who seems to be locked up in himself half the time, focuses on hitting to the possible detriment of the rest of his game, is erratic at best in the clubhouse, is known to sulk, and yes, leads the league in multiple categories year after year. Williams wins the battle as far as batting stats are concerned, but does that advantage, not exactly a large one, really compensate for the disadvantages he carries around with him? At the time the two were playing I’d say the consensus was that it did not.

        Hail Stan the Man!

        • 341
          Bells says:

          Okay okay, more quotes from the BJHBA (late 80s version), but this immediately came to mind when I thought of Musial and Williams – from his all-time rating of LFers, last line gets me every time:

          “I have tried, in rating the greatest, to avoid any quirky or idiosyncratic selections, and to respect a valid consensus where it exists – in other words, in respect to the evidence rather than indulging myself in oddball selections. But to the extent that a consensus has developed that lifts Williams over Musial as the greatest left fielder of the forties, and thus the greatest left fielder of all time, I cannot agree with that consensus.

          Look, I am not saying anything at all negative about Ted Williams. The further we go in the analysis of batting statistics, the closer we come to being forced to accept the conclusion that Williams, not Babe Ruth, was the greatest hitter who ever lived. I think he was the second-greatest left fielder who ever lived. That’s not criticism.

          But if I had to choose between the two of them, I’d take Musial in left field, Musial on the basepaths, Musial in the clubhouse, and Williams only with the wood in his hand. And Stan Musial could hit a little, too.”

      • 312
        John Autin says:

        One of my favorite passages in the BJHBA, Curt Flood speaking of Stan Musial: “Like Mays, he saw the world entirely in terms of his own good fortune. He was convinced it was the best of all possible worlds…. Gibson and I once clocked eight ‘wunnerfuls’ in a speech that could not have been more than a hundred words.”

      • 314
        John Autin says:

        January 2013 to January 2016 henceforth to be known as the brief period in which there was no living HOFer born on November 21 in Donora, PA.

  107. 289
    Hartvig says:

    Since Bells weighed in and did some of the lifting I think it’s time for me to vote as well.

    Larkin- Of the current candidates I would say he’s at worst the 3rd clearest qualifier for enshrinement in the Circle of Greats. James ranks him as #6 among shortstops (altho Rodriguez & Jeter were not ranked because they were mid-career). Adams Hall of Stats ranks him 10th but a) Rodriguez is ineligible for this exercise and b) Larkin’s score of 143 is 1 point behind Bobby Wallace and Bill Dahlen and 2 points behind Luke Appling. Even a 2% timeline adjustment would move him ahead of all 3 into 6th place there as well. JAWS has Larkin in 13th partly because they consider Banks a shortstop and rank both Rodriguez and Jeter ahead of him. Again factor in just a 2% timeline adjustment for Dahlen & Appling and he would rank 9th in JAWS (Trammell & Yount are also ahead of Larkin in JAWS but in fact all 3 systems rank Yount/Smith/Trammell/Larkin in a very tight bunch.

    Biggio- I’m about 95% certain that Biggio belongs in the Circle of Greats. James has him 5th (altho I suspect if he were to ever redo his rankings that would no longer be the case), Adams HOS has him 10th (Alomar is a close 12th) and JAWS has him 13th (partly because they consider Rod Carew a second baseman) but again he’s in a fairly tight bunch with Alomar just a whisker ahead of him along with Jackie Robinson. I personally rank him just a whisker ahead of Alomar and a whisker behind Whitaker in about 11th place among second basemen. Which means it comes down to how do we break down the 112 slots available. Are there 32 pitchers better than position players or is it only 31? Is the 11th best second baseman a better player than the 10th best 3rd baseman? I’m not absolutely positive but I think it’s likely that 2nd base may be the deepest position next to right field. I’m pretty certain that Biggio’s belongs in the circle

    Smoltz- of the big 4 pitchers I rank him 4th and, like Biggio, I think he’s right the edge of belonging in the Circle.
    Adam has him ranked 28th with a couple of ineligible players ranked higher & some timeline adjustment for pre-1900 pitchers. JAWS ranks him 56th but with no time line adjustment so he’s behind several luminaries such as Tommy Bond and Jim McCormick plus a few active pitchers and of course neither of those two systems consider post season performance and penalize him significantly for the time he spent as a closer even though I think he would have been better utilized in the starting rotation a couple of those years. I know he already has extended eligibility but I wouldn’t object to having a couple of extra years to decide.

    So that’s my vote
    Larkin, Biggio, Smoltz

  108. 300
    Jason Z says:

    Time to vote strategically. Biggio, Walker and Larkin for reasons
    that are obvious, (25%).

    And now, a prediction. I haven’t looked at who else was born in
    1920, but let me go out on a limb and predict that a certain player
    who had 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 hits on the road in his career
    will win that year. Of all the numbers and stats that baseball offers
    this has always been my favorite. I just think it is amazing. I wonder
    if any other player ended his career with exactly the same number of
    hits at home and on the road.

    This question is for Richard Chester or any other expert on the play index
    at B-Ref.

    What may be even more amazing is that he was so close to replicating this
    balance with RBI’s and Runs.

    Stan The Man drove in 1,951 runs and scored 1,949.

    His last hit was an RBI single that went past a rookie 2nd baseman for
    the Reds. Some guy by the name of Pete Rose.

    The man earned 1.26 million in his career. Alex Rodriguez will make
    that in a little over a week this season.

    • 303
      Richard Chester says:

      I found no one with the same number of his at home and away except Musial.
      That’s for 1916 through 2012. I could have missed someone, I did some manual scrolling.
      Here are the closest that I found, showing hits at home and hits away.

      Luis Aparicio….1339/1338
      Steve Garvey…..1300/1299
      Buddy Bell…….1256/1258
      Ken Lofton…….1215/1213
      Willie Stargell..1117/1115

    • 305
      Hartvig says:

      Not quite what you were asking for but I remembered seeing this and amazingly enough when I opened my copy of TBJHBA it opened right to the very page:

      player runs/rbi’s
      Gene Woodling 830/830
      Howard Johnson 760/760
      Bob Kennedy 514/514
      Mike Mitchell 514/514
      Val Picinich 298/298
      Lee Smith 2/2

      Minimum 1000 games played

    • 306
      John Autin says:

      Jason — Among players known to have at least 1,000 hits both home and away (there are 200 such players since 1916, the start of home/away splits), Musial is the only one with exactly equal hit splits.

      Luis Aparicio and Steve Garvey missed by 1 hit. (Garvey also missed by 1 for an even Runs split.) Kenny Lofton, Willie Stargell and Buddy Bell missed by 2 hits.

      The player with the largest home edge is Todd Helton, +262 hits at home (+24%). Kirby Puckett is the only other with at least a 20% edge in home hits (+22.6%).

      The largest home deficit in hits is Cal Ripken, -210 (-12.4%; Lou Gehrig was -12.6%). The largest home deficit by percentage is Adrian Beltre, -14.1%.

      Among this same group, only Bob Elliott had equal RBI splits, and only Joe Carter had equal Runs splits. Six of these players had equal HR splits, led by Carlton Fisk (188 each place) and Gary Carter (162).

      This group is not, of course, the HR, RBI or Runs leaders.

      Lastly, no one in this group was closer in (RBI-Runs) than Musial’s +2. Chipper Jones was +4, despite the best rooting efforts of us stats nerds. The biggest negative (more Runs than RBI) was Rickey Henderson, -1,180; the biggest positive was Tony Perez, +380.

      • 310
        bstar says:

        John, are you using the split finder to find who may have had equal hits? I’m amazed.

        • 311
          John Autin says:

          bstar — Yes, using the batting split finder, pasting into Excel, etc. As Liam Neeson said: “I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills….”

          Anyway, Richard beat me to the gist by 11 minutes!

          • 313
            Richard Chester says:

            John: I skipped pasting into Excel and did a manual search because otherwise you would have beat me to the punch. It takes a while to copy and paste and sort.:-)

            Factoid about Musial: After a poor season in 1959 he asked for and received a salary cut from $100K to $80K. Quite a contrast to today’s players.

          • 315
            John Autin says:

            Richard, here’s another Musial factoid: Though he played to age 42, he was never the oldest guy in his league for a whole season. In 1962-63 it was Diomedes Olivo, who was almost 2 years older than Musial (and was his teammate in ’63). In ’61 it was Bob Boyd, who came over to Milwaukee in June and played out the string.

      • 335
        John Autin says:

        In my #306, I should have said that the batting split data are not 100% complete all the way back to 1916. So, some of my “findings” will prove inaccurate. As PP noted, Mel Ott’s Runs & RBI were 1 apart, but my batting split data showed a gap of 17 so I didn’t mention him.

        Bottom line, don’t use any of my remarks in a bar bet!

      • 336
        John Autin says:

        Double-checking my home/away comments found one more error among those I said were equal:

        – Bob Elliott did not have equal RBI splits; officially, he could not have done, since his official RBI total was 1,195. Somehow, his home/away splits add up to one *more* than that.

    • 321
      PP says:

      Mel Ott, 1859 runs 1860 RBIs

  109. 318
    Doug says:

    Some Musial trivia.

    Before today, this was the only NL game before Pearl Harbor involving two players still living. The other is Lenny Merullo of the Cubs. Musial and Merullo would both be regulars in 1942.

    The new earliest NL game involving two players still living is this game featuring Merullo and Ducky Detweiler of the Braves. Ducky had just 14 hits for his career but notched four of them in this double-header.

    The earliest game in which Musial faced a pitcher who is still living was this one, against Rogers Hornsby McKee of the Phillies. It was McKee’s career debut, at just 16 years of age (he didn’t do too badly – a run on 3 hits in 3 innings of work). McKee, by the way, was born in the midst of the 1926 NL pennant race, won by the Cardinals. That might possibly have something to do with his name (do you think the Cards had many fans in North Carolina back then?).

    While I`m talking about McKee, should mention that he holds the record as the youngest pitcher with a complete game victory. The Phillies broke open a tie game in the late innings as McKee beat Cookie Cuccurullo at the age of 17 years, 17 days.

    Musial’s career span, as you might expect, is pretty impressive. I have it running for 66 seasons from 1921 to 1986. What that means is that Musial played against both Johnny Cooney (1921-44) and Pete Rose (1963-86).

  110. 319
    John Autin says:

    So I was looking at the box score in which Musial hit his last triple, noticing how much talent there was in that lineup and thinking what a shame that Stan didn’t last one more year for the ’64 championship. Seven of the eight Cardinals who started that game would play over 1,500 games in the majors, while SP Curt Simmons logged over 3,000 innings. Pitching in relief was Lew Burdette, who would also top 3,000 IP, and Bobby Shantz, who pitched more than 500 games.

    While looking at Bill White’s career, I see that he was traded to Philly after ’65, bringing a young Alex Johnson to the Cards. That didn’t quite work out … Four years later, Johnson won the 1970 batting title with the Angels, but in ’71 his emotional problems became too much for anyone to handle. One of his incidents that year involved Chico Ruiz, who had been one of his few friends on the team (Ruiz was godfather to Johnson’s child). A rift had developed, and Johnson claimed that Ruiz waved a gun at him. Management denied it, and said Johnson was delusional, but later admitted it was true. (This from Johnson’s SABR bio.)

    Anyway, I looked up Chico Ruiz (real name: Giraldo Sablón Ruiz) and saw that he debuted with the ’64 Reds and hit 2 HRs as a rookie, but no more in his 8-year career. Then I saw that his page sponsor plugs a novel that “gives a riveting fictional scenario of Philadelphia history being changed by Chico Ruiz getting caught stealing home with Frank Robinson batting on September 21, 1964.”

    Having no clue what he means, I look up the game, and sure enough — the Reds beat the Phils, 1-0, with Ruiz stealing home with 2 out and Frank Robinson up. That was the start of Philly’s 10-game skid that cost them the pennant. I’m sure many of you knew about Ruiz’s steal, but I didn’t. Naturally, he never stole home again.

    Two days later, Ruiz hit the 2nd and last HR of his career as Cincinnati finished sweeping the Phils. (Alex Johnson homered for Philly in that game, also the 2nd of his career.) The Reds then moved on to Shea Stadium and swept 5 games from the Mets, moving into 1st place — but they dropped 4 of their last 5, with Philly getting some revenge by taking the last 2 games — including a 10-0 beating of John Tsitouris, who had blanked them in the Ruiz game — to eliminate the Reds and give St. Louis the crown.

    Everyone talks about the Phillies folding, but you never hear about the Reds falling down in the final week, too. They got a huge gift from the doormat Mets, who beat the Cards 2 straight in St. Louis (Al Jackson 1-0 over Bob Gibson, then knocking out 20-game-winner Ray Sadecki in the 1st en route to a 15-7 shellacking). That left the door open for Cincinnati on the final day, at home in Crosley Field. But Bunning stymied them, and Dick Allen hit 2 HRs in the rout.

    (What did I do before Baseball-Reference came along???)

    • 342
      RJ says:

      Looking at the intial Musial game that started your wander down box score lane, the Cards really ballsed that one up didn’t they? Winning rally by SFG goes walk to Mays, sac bunt, Mays picked off at second but safe at third on E1, int. walk, int. walk, run scores on E5. No hits and not a ball out of the infield.

      • 343
        John Autin says:

        RJ, it certainly was a cock-up. But I wonder about this play:

        “Mays picked off at second but safe at third on E1….”

        I wonder if they really had Willie picked off but for the errant throw. Anecdotally, it seems to me that Retrosheet’s play-by-play always describes an errant pickoff throw as “runner picked off but safe on error.” Obviously, there are some errant pickoffs where the runner was going to be safe at his base.

        Anyone else notice this?

      • 348
        Phil Gaskill says:

        That bad throw from the pitcher on the pickoff quite likely went out of the infield. . . .

  111. 320
    MikeD says:

    Musial: Inner circle of the inner circle.

  112. 323
    Ed says:

    Musial and the Cardinals went to the World Series each of his first 4 full seasons. They never returned during the rest of his career. Which means that the power-hitting Musial never went to the World Series. His career high in home runs during his 4 WS appearances was 16.

  113. 324
    Ed says:

    In 1941 and 1942, Musial played with someone named…wait are you ready for this….Creepy Crespi! Creepy obviously wasn’t his real first name. If you look at his photo on BR you can see how he might have gotten his nickname:

  114. 345
    opal611 says:

    Again, I know that it’s beyond the voting deadline for this round. But, just for fun, I’ve started at the beginning and am catching up to the project.

    For the 1965 election, I’m voting for:
    –Barry Bonds (Based on stats, he’s clearly the best option. Obviously there is the PED situation to consider, but I don’t want the ballot to be continuously clouded by that, year after year, when I know he’ll get in eventually anyway. Even if we can say for sure that we KNOW he used, we can’t say for sure that others did NOT.)
    –Rafael Palmeiro (I don’t think he’s going to last long in this project, but I’m still willing to give him my vote. I know most of his accomplishments are counting stats and somewhat longevity based, but I still think that matters.)
    –Roberto Alomar

    Other top candidates I considered highly (and/or will consider in future rounds):
    -Biggio (I’m temporarily taking him off my ballot, but I hope I can go back to voting for him.)

    Sentimental favorites, but I didn’t consider at all:
    –B.J. Surhoff (Another former Brewer, of course)

  115. 349

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