Circle of Greats: 1937 Part 1 Balloting

This post is for voting and discussion in the 40th round of balloting for the Circle of Greats (COG).  This round begins to add those players born in 1937.  Rules and lists are after the jump.

Players born in 1937 will be brought on to the COG eligible list over two rounds, split in half based on last names — the top half of the top half by alphabetical order this round and the bottom half next round.  This round’s new group joins the holdovers from previous rounds to comprise the full set of players eligible to receive your votes this round.

As usual, the new group of 1937-born players, in order to join the eligible list, must have played at least 10 seasons in the major leagues or generated at least 20 Wins Above Replacement (“WAR”, as calculated by, and for this purpose meaning 20 total WAR for everyday players and 20 pitching WAR for pitchers).

Each submitted ballot, if it is to be counted, 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 that are cast win four added future rounds of ballot eligibility.  Players who appear on 25% or more of the ballots cast, but less than 50%, earn two added future rounds of ballot eligibility.  Any other player in the top 9 (including ties) in ballot appearances, or who appears on at least 10% of the ballots, wins one additional round of ballot eligibility.

All voting for this round closes at 11:00 PM EST Saturday, December 28, while changes to previously cast ballots are allowed until 11:00 PM EST Thursday, December 26.

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: COG 1937 Round 1 Vote Tally.  I’ll be updating the spreadsheet periodically with the latest votes.  Initially, there is a row in the spreadsheet 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 new born-in-1937 group will be added to the spreadsheet as votes are cast for them.

Choose your three players from the lists below of eligible players.  The 15 current holdovers are listed in order of the number of future rounds (including this one) through which they are assured eligibility, and alphabetically when the future eligibility number is the same.  The new group of 1937 birth-year guys are listed below in order of the number of seasons each played in the majors, and alphabetically among players with the same number of seasons played.  In total there were 24 players born in 1937 who met the “10 seasons played or 20 WAR” minimum requirement.  Twelve of those are being added to the eligible list this round (alphabetically from Clete Boyer to Jim Pagliaroni).  The 12 players further down in the alphabet will be added next round.

Lou Whitaker (eligibility guaranteed for 10 rounds)
John Smoltz (eligibility guaranteed for 7 rounds)
Bobby Grich (eligibility guaranteed for 3 rounds)
Edgar Martinez (eligibility guaranteed for 3 rounds)
Gaylord Perry  (eligibility guaranteed for 3 rounds)
Craig Biggio (eligibility guaranteed for 2 rounds)
Willie McCovey (eligibility guaranteed for 2 rounds)
Mariano Rivera (eligibility guaranteed for 2 rounds)
Dick Allen (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Roberto Alomar (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Kenny Lofton (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Eddie Murray (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Ryne Sandberg (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Ron Santo (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Dave Winfield (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)

Everyday Players (born in 1937, ten or more seasons played in the major leagues or at least 20 WAR):
Orlando Cepeda
Clete Boyer
Jim Hickman
Gary Geiger
Tom Haller
Jim Pagliaroni
Don Buford
Pitchers (born in 1937, ten or more seasons played in the major leagues or at least 20 WAR):
Jim Brewer
Juan Marichal
Mike Cuellar
Joe Horlen
Jim O’Toole

146 thoughts on “Circle of Greats: 1937 Part 1 Balloting

  1. 1
    Jeff Harris says:


  2. 2
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    birtlecom, M. Rivera is not listed in the holdovers.

  3. 3
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    As a Sicilian I’m allowed to pose racially ambiguous questions like this one:

    Did Boyer’s mama know that Cletis Leroy is not a white boy name?
    (Perhaps when you are one of 14 children things get a little creative).

    • 27

      The Grissom children:

      Marvin, Richard, Joe, Henry, Phillip, Michael, Antonio, Barbara, Elizabeth, Shirley, Dorothy, Delores, Mary, Ernestine, Marquis

      Eventually, you have to get creative.

  4. 4
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    The hidden value of a great defense:

    Mike Cuellar

    1966 , with Houston

    12 – 10

    -0.42 RA9DEF

    5.6 WAR


    1970, with Baltimore

    24 – 8

    0.36 RA9DEF

    2.8 WAR

    • 6
      birtelcom says:

      Most Wins in a Season by a Pitcher Allowing More than 1.00 Homers Per Nine Innings:
      27 Wins: Don Newcombe (1956)
      24 Wins: Mike Cuellar (1970)
      23 Wins: Curt Schilling (2002), Robin Roberts (1955), Ralph Terry (1962) and Joe Coleman (1973)

      • 8
        Richard Chester says:

        It looks like Joe Coleman’s ratio for 1973 is 0.999; 32 HR in 288.1 IP.

        • 16
          birtelcom says:

          Wow, you even outsmarted the Play Index, which for some reason rounds up his ratio to 1.00.

          • 36
            Richard Chester says:

            When I ran the PI for single seasons I sorted by wins and set HR greater than 0.111*IP. Coleman’s name was not on the list but the other 5 guys were. I then checked Coleman’s BR home page. If you make the PI run setting HR greater than 0.11*IP Coleman’s name does appear on the list.

  5. 7
    Scary Tuna says:

    Murray, Winfield, Rivera

    • 17
      birtelcom says:

      Welcome to the voting, S.T..

      We’ve now had a total of 162 different voters participate in the COG balloting at least once. One for each game in a full major league regular season.

  6. 9
    Darien says:

    Rivera, Lofton, Biggio

  7. 10
    Josh says:

    Rivera, Winfield, Marichal

  8. 11
    David Horwich says:

    Alomar, Sandberg, Santo

  9. 12
    aweb says:

    Perry, Grich, Santo

  10. 13
    MJ says:

    Gaylord Perry, Lou Whitaker, Bobby Grich

  11. 14
    koma says:

    Craig Biggio, Mariano Rivera, Juan Marichal

  12. 18
    KalineCountry says:

    Lou Whitaker
    Bobby Grich
    Willie McCovey

  13. 19
    Chris C says:

    Biggio, Sandberg, Edgar

  14. 21
    JEV says:

    Rivera, Perry, Marichal

  15. 22
    Dr. Doom says:

    Yay! Another COG round!

    The first two choices are easy. But the third… well, that’s tougher. I adjust WAR for peak performance when I rate these guys. And in that adjustment, I have three guys within .8 adjusted WAR of one another. But I’m going with the one I’ve been going with, even though Juan Marichal and Ryne Sandberg are right there.

    Gaylord Perry
    Ron Santo
    Bobby Grich

  16. 23
    --bill says:

    Perry, Grich, Marichal

  17. 24
    --bill says:

    Also, the Jim O’Toole link seems to be broken.

    • 39
      oneblankspace says:

      The automatic linker often has trouble with that kind of name.

    • 40
      birtelcom says:

      Oh, yes — I can never seem to get the links to work to any player with an apostrophe in his name, regardless of whether I do the link using b-ref’s auto-linking system or if I create the link by hand. Perhaps an Irish heritage group should complain to b-ref.

  18. 25

    Most Wins Above Average, excluding negative seasons:

    Perry 50.9
    Grich 43.6
    Santo 43.3
    Whitaker 42.7
    Martinez 41.3
    Smoltz 40.1
    Lofton 39.3
    McCovey 38.9
    Sandberg 38.8
    Alomar 36.8
    Biggio 36.3
    Allen 35.9
    Murray 34.9
    Rivera 33.1
    Marichal 32.7
    Winfield 30.5
    Cepeda 21.0

    I always thought Marichal was better than that. Aside from the pioneer thing, which is certainly worth something, anyone care to argue that he was more valuable than WAR/WAA give him credit for?


    • 28
      Mike HBC says:

      I was nowhere near alive when he played, but based on stats alone, and taking the very obvious flaws of the system into account, I completely fail to see how Marichal is 37th among pitchers on the Fan EloRater.

    • 38
      Artie Z. says:

      The one thing that has surprised me the most with this Circle of Greats exercise is how much I have personally “overrated” (I don’t know if that’s the right word) some of the players from the 1960s. Now, I wasn’t around in the 1960s so it’s not like I saw them play, and these guys were basically retired before I was aware of baseball and baseball history, but I have believed the second tier stars (the McCoveys and Marichals and Cepedas, etc.) were VASTLY better than the second tier players post-1970s.

      It’s still difficult to wrap my head around the idea that there isn’t that much difference between Murray and McCovey, or even Marichal and Kevin Brown, because somehow I’ve just always believed that (perhaps it’s due to card collecting – as a kid the cards from the 1950s-early 1970s just seemed out of reach, and perhaps that caused an inflated opinion of the players). If someone had shown me this ballot a year ago and asked me to vote for 3 players I would probably have had a gut reaction of “Marichal, McCovey, and Santo” or perhaps “Marichal, McCovey, and Perry”. But I need to think about it a little more.

      @Mike HBC 28 – the only thing I ever use the EloRater for is a laugh. Fred Lynn is ranked 79th – well ahead of Pee Wee Reese, Barry Larkin, Jeter, and a host of other players that he has no reason to be ranked above.

      • 68
        Mike HBC says:

        Rest assured, I use it for the same reason. It’s about as scientific as saying “Mike Piazza heads, Felipe Alou tails” and flipping a coin.

    • 46
      Hartvig says:

      “Aside from the pioneer thing, which is certainly worth something, anyone care to argue that he was more valuable than WAR/WAA give him credit for?”

      One possibility-and since I’ve got to be somewhere in a few minutes I’m having to go from memory- was something I think I recall seeing in TNBJHBA about Marichal’s record in “big” games in the heat of a pennant race. If memory serves it was in a section about Don Drysdale- but that could also mean that it came from The Politics Of Glory too- and Marichal’s record was quite stellar and Drysdale’s wasn’t.

    • 58
      Dr. Doom says:

      I think that, yes, there IS reason to believe that Marichal was better than his raw WAA/WAR total. It comes down to distribution. Of all the players currently on the ballot, Marichal has the #2 best year (10.3 WAR; Perry had 11.0). He has the best #2 season (9.1 WAR). He has the #3 third season (7.8 WAR, behind Santo’s 8.9 and just behind Perry’s 7.9). Marichal has the best #4 season (7.7 WAR, tied with Santo), the third best #5 season (6.4, barely behind Santo’s 6.7 and Perry’s 6.5). He moves back to the middle of the pack thereafter. But if you’re looking at peak, he has one of the best three peaks of the entire bunch, with Perry and Santo being the obvious others. If you weight distribution strongly (I do; especially when considering peak performance), it would make a great deal of sense to rank Marichal higher than he does. The three players in my rankings who get the biggest boost to their WAR are Marichal (my system adds 9.7 to his WAR total) and Dick Allen and Ron Santo (my system adds 8.3 and 8.2 WAR added, respectively). Those latter two have BEEFY peaks. The idea that Marichal’s was even better… well, that’s pretty crazy. So yes – I think there’s ample reason to rank him higher than 15th in the group, even if that’s where +WAA puts him. I have him at #4, right between Grich and Sandberg.

      • 64
        Artie Z. says:

        Over on ESPN right now David Schoenfield has a post about HOF pitchers and peak value:

        Now, it’s recent pitchers and not all of them are HOFers, and he’s really talking about Roy Halladay, who, on his chart, looks a lot like Marichal. Unlike Halladay, Marichal probably suffers a little because he has a bunch of contemporaries (Gibson, Drysdale, Koufax) and near-contemporaries (Perry, Seaver, Jenkins) who have careers that look like his (or are better), whereas Halladay doesn’t really have many pitchers who are direct contemporaries with a career that looks like his. Marichal as “Pitcher of the 1960s” is a much tougher sell than Halladay as “Pitcher of the 2000s” despite the similarities, though either would be an easy sell as “Pitcher of the 1980s”.

        The chart shows the difference between Marichal and say Rick Reuschel or Dave Stieb (despite Marichal’s career WAR being between the two of them).

    • 66
      birtelcom says:

      In sheer total career pitching WAR, Marichal is tied with David Cone for 40th since 1901 according to baseball-reference’s WAR (Perry is 11th). But at fangraphs, Marichal moves up to 27th, tied with Bob Feller (Cone is still tied for 40th at fangraphs; Perry is all the way up at 7th in total career WAR since 1901 at fangraphs).

  19. 26
    Mike HBC says:

    Perry, Rivera, Grich

  20. 30
    Bix says:

    Lofton, Biggio, Allen

  21. 31
    Mike L says:

    Rivera, Sandberg, Smoltz.

  22. 34
    brp says:


  23. 35
    Kirk says:

    Alomar, Perry, Allen

  24. 37
    John Z says:

    Ahh another COG round, Round 37′ part 1, Merry Christmas to me, I know it is the thought that counts. Anyway onward and ummm onward. The first two here are fairly simple, Teammates, HOFers and no I do not mean Perry and McCovey. Juan Marishal and Orlando Cepeda, it is with out question or debate these two HOF’ers are worthy of the COG. The third I had to use some imagination. Last round I was unable to convince anyone else to select David Travis Fryman, lets see if I can change that this round. This veteran holds a distinctive record for lowest GIDP rate, and only averaged one GIDP per 138 AB’s. He also only had a 10 year career but racked up more BWAR then current day studs like Curtis Granderson, Adrian Gonzalez, Shane Victorino, Kevin Youkilis, Nick Swisher and Alex Rios after their first 10 seasons in the bigs. This Veteran averaged 3.6 Bwar per year for 10 years, not to shabby. This guy was an All Star, received regular MVP votes and participated in three World Series, winning one. None other then Damon Buford old man, Don Buford. Can we get another one or two votes for Mr. Buford please.
    Final Vote:
    Marichal the Dominican Dandy
    Cepeda the Baby Bull
    Don Buford (you heard it here first)
    Merry Christmas one and all from my family to yours……..

  25. 42
    Luis Gomez says:

    Alomar, Whitaker, Marichal.

  26. 43
    Abbott says:

    Biggio, Marichal, McCovey

  27. 45
    oneblankspace says:

    Orlando Cepeda had the last Grand Slam at Busch Stadium I/Sportsmans Park III in St Louis as a member of the Giants. He also had the first IPHR in Busch Stadium II/Busch Memorial Stadium as a member of the Cardinals. He played in 3 World Series in the 1960s (and one NLCS); the only time his team won he hit .103/.103/.172.

    Mariano Rivera pitched in the postseason after 16 different seasons.

    Biggio with all those doubles from a righthanded hitter and the career HBP total.

    CBiggio, OCepeda, MaRivera

  28. 47
    Doug says:

    Marichal, Rivera, McCovey

  29. 48
    Hartvig says:

    Not a huge Gaylord Perry fan but the only way he’s not the best player on the ballot is if I penalize him more than I do say Palmeiro or McGwire for cheating.

    As much as it pains me not to be able to vote or McCovey or Marichal or about half a dozen other players on the ballot instead:

    Santo, Sandberg, Perry

    I changed my ballot at the last minute in the last round to no effect. I won’t rule out doing that again this round, hopefully with a better result.

  30. 49
    jajacob says:

    Lou whitaker, gaylord perry, mariano riveria

  31. 50
    fireworks says:

    Marichal. Grich. Gar.

  32. 52
    Gary Bateman says:

    Marichal, Santo, Alomar

  33. 53
    Nick Pain says:

    Perry, Whitaker, Santo

  34. 54
    Dr. Remulak says:

    Biggio, Rivera, Marichal.

  35. 55
    wx says:

    Gaylord Perry, Mariano Rivera, Juan Marichal. Don’t think I’ve ever done 3 pitchers before

  36. 56
    J.R. says:

    Grich, Biggio, Rivera

  37. 57
    bcholm says:

    Santo, Marichal, Mo Rivera

  38. 59
    RonG says:

    Perry, Grich, Marichal

  39. 60
    birtelcom says:

    The vote is very close in the early going: 14 for both Marichal and Mariano, 13 for Perry, Grich and Santo not far behind with 10 and 9 respectively.

  40. 61
    Artie Z. says:

    Perry, Santo, and Murray.

    I have a feeling I won’t be voting for Murray much longer.

  41. 62
    Andy says:


  42. 63
    DaveR says:

    Winfield, Perry, Marichal

  43. 65
    Aaron Blower says:

    Perry, Edgar, Murray

  44. 67
    latefortheparty says:

    Gaylord Perry
    Lou Whitaker
    Bobby Grich

  45. 69
    T-Bone says:

    Dick Allen

  46. 71
    Insert Name Here says:

    Initial vote based solely on merit:

    1. Ron Santo (7.0 WAR/162 during 10-yr peak of 1963-72)
    2. Juan Marichal (7.1 WAR/162 during 7-yr peak of 1963-69)
    3. Gaylord Perry (5.9 WAR/162 during 13-yr peak of 1964-76)

    Ranking of other candidates:

    4. Kenny Lofton (6.7 WAR/162 during 8-yr peak of 1992-99)
    5. Willie McCovey (6.7 WAR/162 during 8-yr peak of 1963-70) — Manual override (originally ranked #9)
    6. Bobby Grich (6.6 WAR/162 during 12-yr peak of 1972-83)
    7. Dick Allen (6.6 WAR/162 during 9-yr peak of 1964-72)
    8. Ryne Sandberg (6.2 WAR/162 during 9-yr peak of 1984-92)
    9. Craig Biggio (5.8 WAR/162 during 9-yr peak of 1991-99)
    10. Lou Whitaker (5.5 WAR/162 during 15-yr peak of 1979-93)
    11. Eddie Murray (5.7 WAR/162 during 9-yr peak of 1978-86)
    12. Edgar Martínez (6.4 WAR/162 during 7-yr peak of 1995-2001)
    13. John Smoltz (5.8 WAR/162 during 5-yr peak of 1995-99)
    14. Don Buford (5.6 WAR/162 during 7-yr peak of 1965-71)
    15. Dave Winfield (5.3 WAR/162 during 9-yr peak of 1976-84)
    16. Orlando Cepeda (5.3 WAR/162 during 5-yr peak of 1960-64)

    • 74
      Voomo Zanzibar says:

      Would you explain your rankings?

      Is there more to it than peak value?

      Why would Lofton be 4 and McCovey 9 if their peaks were identical?

      Why is 6.7 for eight years better than 6.6 for twelve?

      And, finally, why does Rivera’s 4.0 for 16 years not even warrant a listing?

      That last question leads to another, semantic yet essential:
      How do you define “merit”?

      • 76
        Insert Name Here says:

        Merit being the peak stats provided… their rankings when it’s unclear who should be ahead of whom are actually quite complicated, involving somewhat arbitrary comparisons of the two peaks. 6.7 for 8 years is not necessarily better than 6.6 for 12 years, but it was in these specific cases.

      • 77
        Jeff B says:

        It’s not a good formula, it eliminates anyone with a off or injured season like Smoltz in 2000 and for some one ignores a large part of a player’s career.

        • 93
          Insert Name Here says:

          Hey Jeff, guess what? You don’t have to accept my way of doing things! I know it’s a flawed methodology, but unless you can show me a perfectly good one, then this is what I’m using to determine my votes. Occasionally I ignore my own methods as I do by ranking McCovey higher than my methodology says he deserves. Is it still flawed with this little adjustment? Yes! Do I still plan to use it? Yes! Do you have to just deal with that? Also yes!

          • 95
            Jeff B says:

            According to your information, Lofton and McCovey look equal, why would one be 4th and the other 9th before your override?

  47. 72
    donburgh says:

    Craig Biggio, Edgar Martinez, Gaylord Perry

  48. 73
    mo says:

    Whitaker, Smoltz, Marichal

    • 75
      Voomo Zanzibar says:

      See, this right here shows you what an amazing player/human Rivera is.
      He comes to this blog and doesn’t even vote for himself.
      Even pretends to be an accountant from Baltimore.
      You’re awesome, Mo.

  49. 78
    robbs says:

    Whitaker Smoltz Santo

  50. 80
    Low T says:

    Marichal, Santo, Grich please.

  51. 81
    bells says:

    Just reading the player bios and I came across this for Joe Horlen:

    “With a career record of 116-117, Horlen could lay claim as one the best pitchers with a losing record in major-league history.”

    I’ve followed most discussions here (and at b-r before) quite closely for the last few years, but I don’t recall a discussion around this idea. Any thoughts?

    • 82
      Hartvig says:

      Bobo Newsom would have to be part of the discussion as well.

    • 85
      JasonZ says:

      This is a great topic.

      Joe Horlen pitched 2,000.1 innings in MLB.

      In addition to the W-L record you cited, Horlen
      had an ERA+ of 110 and 25.5 WAR.

      There are two pitchers who finished ahead of Horlen in W-L%
      yet still under .500.

      One is the still active Ryan Dempster, he has hurled 2,387 innings
      with a W-L of 132-133. ERA+ of 98 and WAR of 22.6. Edge to Horlen.

      In a remarkable coincidence, the other pitcher is George Mogridge.

      George died on March 4, 1962. What is remarkable though is that he also
      had a career W-L of 132-133. He threw 2,266 innings 109 ERA+ and
      29.9 WAR.

      For my purposes I will only consider pitchers who pitched
      after WW2 with between 2,000-2,500 innings pitched.

      Ryan Dempster goes on, and cannot be considered either.

      Johnny Vander Meer did pitch after WW2. Her threw 2,104 innings,
      had a record of 119-121 with a 107 ERA+ and 27 WAR.

      Famously he threw back-to-back no hitters. A feat which may
      never be repeated.

      Vander Meer>Horlen.

      Mark Gubicza pitched 2,223 innings. A record of 132-136, ERA+ 109
      and 37.7 WAR.

      Gubicza>Vander Meer.

      Jon Matlack.

      2,363 innings.


      ERA+ 114.

      WAR 39.1.

      In my most humble opinion Jon Matlack is the greatest pitcher in MLB
      history who pitched between 2,000-2,500 innings and finished with a
      losing record.

      The fact that he came up with the Mets in the 1970’s is the only reason
      he is on this list. Those were some lousy teams, but Matlack was quite good.

      Great topic Bells!

      • 90
        John Autin says:

        FWIW, Matlack had a winning record with the Mets (82-81). It was his Texas years (43-45) that pushed him under .500.

        Also, of the 6 Mets teams for whom Matlack pitched 40+ innings, only 2 had a losing record, and overall they ranked 7th in NL W% for 1972-77. They *did* mostly have lousy offense, which I’m sure is what you meant vis-a-vis Matlack. But they were not lousy teams in that era, before ’77, when they dealt Seaver in June.

        • 91
          JasonZ says:

          You are correct John.

          I started watching baseball in 1976. Yankees and Mets
          on WPIX and WOR respectively.

          I remember alot of conversation about how the pitchers, primarily Seaver’s, records suffered due to the anemic offense you cited.

          A general feeling that the Mets of the 1970’s were huge underachievers probably influences my memory and opinion too.

          I wonder how the Mets fare in 1978 with a top four rotation of Seaver, Koosman, Matlack and Swann.

          Oh well.

    • 86
      Richard Chester says:

      There have been exactly 100 pitchers with 100 wins and more losses than wins. Here are the top ten listed by ERA+.

      Jim Scott 121
      Rollie Fingers 120
      Thornton Lee 119
      Jon Matlack 114
      Ned Garver 112
      Harry Howell 111
      Joe Horlen 110
      Ken Raffensberger 110
      Bob Rush 110
      Murry Dickson 109

    • 108
      RJ says:

      Matt Cain’s not out of the woods yet! (93-88)

      Doug wrote an article at the start of 2012 questioning whether he was the unluckiest pitcher of all time (pre-perfect game, and whilst he still had a losing record). There are some other suggestions in the comments.

  52. 83
    MikeD says:

    Biggio, Alomar, Rivera.

  53. 84
    Hub Kid says:

    Juan Marichal, Dick Allen, Kenny Lofton

  54. 87
    Teddy BB says:

    Perry, Biggio, and Rivera

  55. 89
    Nadig says:

    Martinez, Lofton, Rivera.

  56. 92
    Phil says:

    Alomar, Mariano, Marichal.

  57. 94
    bstar says:

    Mo Rivera, Lofton, D Allen

  58. 96
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    I offer you the apples vs apples vs starfruit approach.

    We can argue Perry vs Marichal. Grich vs Whitaker. Allen vs McCovey.
    Everybody’s argument has validity. And all have some subjectivity.

    But there’s one player on this ballot, M. Rivera, who stands out.

    He was the greatest reliever of all time, by a wide margin, with only Hoyt Wilhelm as a somewhat peer.

    And if your brow furrows at the situational shortcomings of his position, consider that he was arguably the greatest Postseason pitcher of all time. And his efforts contributed to 5 championships.

    Here are the leaderboards, if you are not familiar:


    • 98
      Mike HBC says:

      For the record, I can’t imagine a scenario where I leave Mo off my ballot, and I hate the Yankees. This isn’t like if we had a football vote and didn’t include punters and kickers (and I personally think it’s insane that there’s only one full-time kicker and no full-time punters in the Hall of Fame); no matter when a pitcher pitches, he’s still a pitcher. And as far as pitchers in his role go, he was unquestionably the best.

      As if his regular season pitching wasn’t enough, when you look at his playoff performances, it’s simply ridiculous. Sure, based on both the number of teams in MLB and the number who make the playoffs, the average ALDS team in the 1990s-2000s wasn’t as good as the average World Series team in the 1960s-1970s. With that said, in Mo’s 141 postseason innings (Perry and Marichal combined for 26.1), he had an ERA of 0.70, a WHIP of 0.759, and gave up 2 home runs. It’s not just those numbers are as good as one could possibly imagine- they’re SO MUCH BETTER than one could possibly imagine that they literally don’t make sense to the brain. All you can do is look at those stats and think, “Something must be wrong here- there are definite errors. It’s not even slightly conceivable that these could be real pieces of data. That’s as nuts as one guy having an ERA+ 33% higher than anyone else’s in baseball history.”

      • 102
        John Autin says:

        Mike HBC & Voomo — I plan to vote for Mariano, but let me play devil’s advocate: One argument for closers being honored is built on the fact that it was a defined “position,” and so those who did it the best should be honored like the best at other positions.

        But recent years have seen the growth of other defined pitching “positions,” like setup man. Over the last 5 years, Luke Gregerson is the clear leader in Holds. Mike Adams is #2 in Holds, and probably has the best protection rate, blowing just 10 of 133 opportunities.

        Granted, even if we equate setup and closing, neither Gregerson nor Adams yet approaches the depth of Mo’s resume. But some setup man could get close to it eventually. Are we prepared to go there?

        Mo isn’t the problem, because even with the value constraints inherent to the closer role, he’s racked up enough WAR to be a slam-dunk HOFer and (I think) COGer, *plus* his postseason stats are insane. But what about the next tier of closers? For example:

        Over the last 10 years, Joe Nathan is #2 in Saves, and he edges Mo for #1 in Win Probability Added (for relievers). If by chance Mo had not been around, would we be talking about Nathan as a towering great?

        So, while I’d vote for Mo for just about anything, I’m not comfortable with the argument that goes “no matter when a pitcher pitches, he’s still a pitcher. And as far as pitchers in his role go, he was unquestionably the best.” I don’t think we should so readily accept the “role” argument.

    • 105
      Mike L says:

      I’m a Mo fan, and will continue to vote for him. I do think we have to acknowledge that, while there is nearly universal esteem for Mo himself, there is less consensus on the value (either performance or economic) of the position he played.

      The best closers seem to have an inchoate esthetic value that may not be reflected in stats. It’s as if the “cheapness” of saves, which we all acknowledge, devalue the rest of what they do. For example, do opposing managers facing the Braves have a tendency to alter 7th/8th inning player/pinch hitter usage or on field strategy because, they know, odds on, they won’t touch Kimbrel? Do the starters pitch better with the confidence that if they leave with the lead, they will get the win, instead of pressing with a perceived thinner margin of error? For the former question, I suppose you could compare manager strategy on a game by game basis. For the latter, all you have is anecdotal.

      Economically, the contract values indicate that the top of the reliever market is roughly 60% of the top of the starter market. Maybe that is the real value. But John A. makes a good point. Given the length and extraordinary consistency of Mo, along with his unearthly post-season numbers, he’s just an outlier–as Kimbrel will be if he keeps this up for another dozen years. I was interested in Voomo’s point about Santo. What gives Santo so much WAR, when, if the truth were told, he was a good but not great hitter and a good but not great fielder? Maybe the answer, is, in part, that there just haven’t been that many great all-round 3rd basemen in baseball history, for whatever reason, and few competitors at his level when he played. The same is true with relievers, even as the position has evolved. There have been plenty who have been lights out for a few years (or every couple of years) and a few who have been consistent (but a little less spectacular) over a longer period. Mo has no peer among contemporary relief pitchers. I can imagine a COG without him, as individual voters choose “regular” players/starters over him when they have to choose three. But not a HOF where the selection is best of ten.

  59. 97
    Voomo Zanzibar says:


    Ken Lofton
    Rob Alomar
    Mar Rivera

    • 100
      birtelcom says:

      Through 52 ballots cast, the top three are now Marichal with 21 votes and Perry and Rivera with 20 each. It’s very rare for us to have three bunched at the top so closely at this stage.

      In case of a tie at the end, I think the most persuasive case thus far has been made by those who favor a short runoff round before the next regular round, so that’s the current plan in case of a tie involving two or three of Marichal, Perry and Rivera (or somebody else in case of a huge, late comeback). The tiebreaker to resolve another tie in the runoff round itself would be to award induction to whoever received the most votes not including the final ballot cast.

  60. 99
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    I have a question for the sabermetrically intelligent of this forum.

    Has the “value” of the average replacement player gone up since the 1960s?
    Meaning, has it become more difficult to achieve a higher WAR?

    This question arises when trying to make sense of Ron Santo.

    Looking at his 1964 and 1966 seasons.
    Defensively, above average, but statistically not elite.
    Offensively, he was great, but not above and beyond his contemporaries.

    Each of those two years he was assigned an 8.9 WAR

    In the past 3 seasons (2011-2013), the ONLY player to top 8.9 has been Mike Trout.

    What gives?
    Is it positional adjustment?
    His oWar was significantly higher than Outfielders with similar stats.

    Does WAR love him because the replacement 3rd baseman of his era couldn’t hit?

    • 101
      John Autin says:

      Voomo — I’m no expert on changes in replacement value over time, but your question intrigued me. So I looked at all modern seasons worth exactly 8.9 WAR, then checked their Wins Above Average and Runs from Replacement Level.

      Out of 10 seasons of exactly 8.9 WAR, Santo’s pair had the lowest WAA and the highest Rrep:

      Honus Wagner, 1907 — 6.9 WAA, 19 Rrep
      Mel Ott, 1938 — 6.6 WAA, 21 Rrep
      Ron Santo, 1964 — 6.3 WAA, 25 Rrep
      Ron Santo, 1966 — 6.5 WAA, 23 Rrep
      Roberto Clemente, 1967 — 6.6 WAA, 22 Rrep
      Mike Schmidt, 1977 — 6.8 WAA, 21 Rrep
      Fred Lynn, 1979 — 6.8 WAA, 22 Rrep
      Lenny Dykstra, 1990 — 6.9 WAA, 20 Rrep
      Todd Helton, 2000 — 6.8 WAA, 22 Rrep
      Josh Hamilton, 2010 — 6.9 WAA, 21 Rrep

      I don’t know if this proves your suggestion, and there’s probably a simpler way to address it. But it looks like you’re on the right track.

      • 103
        Voomo Zanzibar says:

        Ned Garver led the majors in WAR in 1950 with a 13-18 W/L record.

        7.3 for his pitching efforts and 0.8 with the bat.
        Somehow those two added up to 8.2.

  61. 104
    Paul E says:

    Allen, Sandberg, Alomar.

  62. 107
    Francisco says:

    Marichal, Perry, Biggio

  63. 109
    RJ says:

    I still can’t quite believe that I’m not voting for McCovey (yet) or Cepeda and seriously hovering on Marichal. Perry and Rivera are slam dunks for me. So my vote is:

    Perry, Rivera and… Marichal, whose peak has won me over.

    Merry Christmas everyone.

  64. 110
    paget says:

    Could someone make the case for Marichal over Smoltz? In theory, I’d like to vote for Marichal; if I can echo some other people’s comments, my image of Marichal is definitely conditioned by the immense esteem that he and many other pitchers from the 60s were held when I was coming up as a baseball fan. Looking at it coldly now though, Smoltz seems to me the significantly stronger candidate. Especially considering the years he “lost” in the pen. Marichal’s huge (as I write) 21 to 5 vote advantage is curious to me. Smoltz has just been around for so long on this list… and he has recently begun drawing less and less support (as compared to some other long-standing holdovers, like Whitaker).


    • 111
      Dr. Doom says:

      I don’t really think it’s that hard to see why Marichal would be ranked above Smoltz. Among the most basic of stats, Marichal has more wins, fewer losses, more innings pitched, and a lower ERA. On the most basic of levels, that suggests pretty much across-the-board better performance by Marichal.

      Digging a tiny bit deeper we see a slight edge to Smoltz in ERA+ (125 to 123), but that Marichal still has the innings edge, but only by about 30 IP. Basically, Smoltz was 1% more effective; Marichal pitched 1% more. So, in my opinion, the question comes down to how those years were distributed. Smoltz has a 5-WAR edge to start with, but I think that’s more than made up for by the strength of Marichal’s best seasons. Here are the seasons above 5.0 WAR for the two players:

      1. Marichal, 1965, 10.3
      2. Marichal, 1966, 9.1
      3. Marichal, 1969, 7.8
      4. Marichal, 1963, 7.7
      5. Smoltz, 1996, 7.3
      6. Marichal, 1964, 6.4
      7. Smoltz, 2006, 5.9
      8. Smoltz, 1991, 5.4
      9. Marichal, 1968, 5.0

      From 4.0-4.9: Marichal 0; Smoltz 5
      From 3.0-3.9: Marichal 1; Smoltz 5
      From 2.0-2.9: Marichal 2; Smoltz 2
      From 0.0-1.9: Marichal 5; Smoltz 4
      Below Replacement: Marichal 2; Smoltz 2

      So basically, the “under 3.0 WAR” seasons are the same. Above that, it’s just a question of whether you want the greater consistency of a solid, 3-4 WAR pitcher with few peaks but more years, or if you’d rather have the shooting star who is much more likely to make you a pennant contender on his own. Admittedly, I loaded the language there a bit. 🙂 But I think the point stands. At his best, Marichal was a MUCH better pitcher than Smoltz, relative to his competition. I think peak matters quite a bit, and Marichal’s peak is better than Smoltz’s.

      • 112
        paget says:

        I definitely follow your points. From my perspective, I think it comes down to how you view the four years Smoltz spent in the pen. I’m inclined to make a sizable adjustment upward for Smoltz given that he’s missing a good 400-500 IP from his record as a result.

        • 113
          David Horwich says:

          I understand the impulse to give Smoltz some “extra credit” because he spent time in the bullpen, but – the reason he went to the bullpen in the first place is because his arm wasn’t holding up under the strain of being a starter.

          And while he did eventually return to the rotation after 4 years of a closer’s workload, I don’t know that he would have been able to do so had he not had that 4-year stretch of reduced workload. So he probably *couldn’t* have accumulated another 400-500 IP as a starter, and thus doesn’t merit any “extra credit”.

  65. 114
    Insert Name Here says:

    I won’t be online tomorrow, so… VOTE CHANGE!

    This round has come down to Marichal, Perry, and Rivera, of whom I prefer Marichal, so I’ll be dropping my vote for Perry.

    In terms of keeping people on the ballot, I’ll throw votes toward Sandberg (likely guaranteeing his continued ballot status) and Murray (a personal favorite).

    Final vote: Marichal, Sandberg, Murray

  66. 115
    Richard Chester says:

    Rivera, Martinez and Marichal

  67. 116
    David Horwich says:

    This has been a very interesting round of voting. We’ve had 3 pitchers leading the voting a few times before, but never in such a tight race. I didn’t expect Marichal to do quite so well as he’s done, but those big years do catch one’s attention.

    As a strategic voter, I’m faced with the dilemma of wanting to cast about 6 votes at this point – to try to get Santo off the bubble, to keep McCovey from getting on the bubble, and to keep various others from falling off the ballot altogether. And all 3 front-runners are CoG-worthy, so that gives me at least 9 votes I’d *like* to cast. But I only have the 3, so –

    Please change my vote from:

    Alomar, Sandberg, Santo


    Rivera, Sandberg, Santo

  68. 117
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    Just one more preposterous Mariano stat, for any late undecided voters out there:

    With his paltry 1284 innings pitched, his is 21st all-time in Adjusted Pitching Runs, with 334.

    Next on the list are

    K Brown
    Gaylord Perry

    • 118
      Voomo Zanzibar says:

      Okay, one more…
      Detractors to his case have pointed out that he pitched the equivalent of six Starter seasons.

      Currently, the best starter is Clayton Kershaw.
      He’s six years in (five and a half+).
      About 100 innings shy of Mo.


      57 Rivera
      33 Kershaw

  69. 119
    Mike L says:

    Keep going, Voomo! Your eloquence is unsurpassed. And to David’s comment at 113 about Smoltz, I think we only judge the player by what he actually did, at the position he played, not what we think he could have done. The problem with looking back and projecting is that it assumes a level of performance commensurate with, at worst, the player’s median. And it also assumes he will be able to stay on the field with the extra wear and tear. Very often, that just isn’t true. Griffey’s last ten years certainly showed that, but he’s not the only one. I’m sure Boston fans thought they were watching a future HOF with Nomar. By 29 he had 41.2 WAR. At thirty he was shown the door, and he earned barely 3 more WAR the rest of his career. Bill James called Carlos Baerga “an utterly amazing ballplayer” and future MVP candidate following the 1994 season. His last good year was 1995. Sustained high performance merits a premium. You can mentally adjust by position (DH compared to SS, closer to starter) but you shouldn’t assume more (or less) than what they actually did.

  70. 120
    Lawrence Azrin says:

    – Gaylord Perry
    – Eddie Murray
    – Ryan Sandbrg (gotta have a second baseman)

  71. 121
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    Changing my vote.
    I want to see a three-way-tie.





  72. 122
    Chris C says:

    Several times I’ve taken advantage of the vote change rules and would love to throw Mariano a vote here but Edgar and Sandberg are both still on the edge for the 10% on this round and I’m not submitting a vote without Biggio on it. Sorry Mariano.

    • 123
      Voomo Zanzibar says:

      Actually, the Sandberg votes at #114 and 120 haven’t been tallied yet.
      He’s safe.

      (barring 23 new ballots without his name)

      • 124
        Chris C says:

        VOTE CHANGE:

        Thanks. I hadn’t seen that. I’ll sneak my vote change in under the wire. I know a lot of you don’t like to change votes but I almost always vote in the first couple hours of voting time. I like to also take advantage of the decision making strategy afforded to late voters.

        Initial vote: Biggio, Sandberg, Edgar
        New vote: Biggio, Edgar, Rivera

  73. 125
    bells says:

    As much as it pains me to not help Steady Eddie, who’s certainly a personal favourite and needs some help, I made myself a promise that once we hit the 1930s I’d vote for the 3 best players on the ballot and let the rest sort itself out.

    Mariano Rivera
    Gaylord Perry
    Ron Santo

  74. 126
    John Autin says:

    Gaylord Perry, Bobby Grich, John Smoltz.

    (I still expect to vote for Mariano before it’s too late. I hope.)

    • 129
      David Horwich says:

      But you won’t be too sad if you don’t get that chance, I suppose, eh? Coming down the homestretch he has the lead, albeit a narrow one….

      I hope I don’t end up regretting switching a vote away from Alomar, who needs another vote lest he fall off the ballot. Murray is safe after a late rally (barring a flurry of last-day votes pushing the total over 70), but Winfield still needs 2 votes to stay on, and McCovey one more to stay off the bubble.

  75. 127
    Brendan Bingham says:

    Murray, Winfield, Rivera

  76. 128
    Jeff B says:

    Marichal, McCovey and Murray

  77. 130
    BryanM says:

    Marichal , a hero of my younger days, , Ron Santo, and , for the umpteenth time , Lou Whitaker

  78. 131
    opal611 says:

    For the 1937-Part 1 election, I’m voting for:
    -Ryne Sandberg
    -Edgar Martinez
    -Gaylord Perry

    Other top candidates I considered highly (and/or will consider in future rounds):

  79. 132
    Josh says:

    Does anybody else find Lou Whitaker’s voting here ironic in that it follows his career in terms of seasonal WAR. Consistently good amount of votes but never the big total.

  80. 133
    John Z says:

    Well with 61 ballots counted and less then 12 hours remaining, it looks like the Sandman, or Super Mo…if you prefer will win this round, and I can not argue deservedly so. He is after all the greatest reliever to ever live and if there is one relief specialist that deserves induction into our COG, then Rivera is the right man. Here is my dilemma, and I am not sure how I would go about finding out the answer to this question. If you were to take the remaining starting pitchers (Yes, I realize, and it was agreed we will not compare starters and relievers) that are on the ballot; IE Smotlz, Perry, Marishal, etc and look at them over one inning pitched or even two innings pitched, how would their 1 or 2 innings pitched compare to Rivera’s 1 or 2 innings pitched at the end of a game, when his arm was the most effective? Any help in comparing these all time greats arms when they were the most effective, whether it was the first 2 innings pitched or the last 2 innings pitched?

    • 134
      David Horwich says:

      Including votes that haven’t yet been recorded, by my count the current tally is:

      Rivera 27
      Marichal 26
      Perry 26

      So it ain’t over yet.

      As for comparing Rivera to the starters – I don’t think it’s really valid to try to compare a starter’s inning or two to Rivera’s innings, given that starters and relievers pace themselves differently. Of course you can compare Smoltz’s seasons as a reliever to Rivera’s, but other than that I think it’s and apples and oranges comparison.

      • 135
        John Z says:

        I suppose I should not have used names or even the designation, starter or reliever. My question is simply how one all star, hall of famer, or COG compare over innings pitched, regardless if those innings are pitched in the first or second inning or eighth or ninth innings. I simply assume that an all star starter arm are the freshest in the first innings, and well a relievers arm is the strongest or most effective in the last innings. As for the pace a specific pitcher throws, that is for another debate or question.

        • 136
          Josh says:

          I’m not in favor of the argument that you can see how a pitcher did in the first inning and compare it to Rivera, as like you said, starters are trying to pace themselves. But just looking at the greatest ERA in a first inning by a pitcher over his career, the results are partially what you would expect, and partially shocking. I chose a minimum of 162 IP, 162 IP for 162 Games. #1 with a 2.72 ERA is the great Scott Baker. Juan Marichal actually ranks 9th with a 3.08 ERA, right behind the infamous Dustin Hermanson. Marichal’s 1st inning ERA is actually worse than his career ERA. Keep in mind these rankings only go back to about the 1950’s give or take.

  81. 137
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    High Heat Stats, now brought to you by BP and female incontinence undergarments.
    Only one of those products is devoted to responsibly handling spills.

  82. 139
    Aidan Mattson says:

    Murray, Smoltz, Rivera

  83. 140
    birtelcom says:

    About 45 minutes left in the voting — still very close in a number of respects.

  84. 141
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    Looks like I contributed to eliminating Alomar with a late-vote switch.
    Sorry Roberto.
    Maybe we’ll meet again in a few years.

    Did Perry and Marichal cancel one another out to give Rivera the victory?

    4 ballots had Perry/Juan and no Mo.
    5 ballots had Perry/Mo and no Juan.
    7 ballots had Mo/Juan and no Perry.

    12 ballots had Juan and no Mo/Perry.
    13 ballots had Perry and no Mo/Juan.
    13 ballots had Mo and no Juan/Perry.

    6 ballots had none of them.

  85. 142
    bells says:

    Wowswers, after 40 ballots, including facing up against his own dad, Roberto falls off. Things are getting crazy. Now the ballot is down to ‘only’ 14 holdovers. I count at least 12, and possibly 15, ballot-worthy candidates coming up in the next 9 elections (until the end of 1931 part 2). There are going to be more casualties before it’s over.

  86. 143
    David Horwich says:

    I’ll take some of the blame for losing Alomar, too, since I also changed my vote away from him. I’ve been voting for Alomar for a long time, so I’m feeling kind of chagrined.

    On the other hand, he appeared to have little chance of being elected any time soon, so if he gets back on the ballot via redemption round maybe he’ll do better when the field is less crowded.

    By my count we’ll have ‘only’ 13 holdovers next round – we had 15 this round; Rivera was elected, Alomar & Winfield dropped off the ballot, & Marichal joined the ranks of holdovers.

    • 144
      Voomo Zanzibar says:

      After we get through the 1930s, I propose that there be redemption rounds more often.
      Perhaps every 5 years rather than 10.
      (I’d personally enjoy it every three, but birtelcom is already working hard)

      There are an abundance of players long excluded from this discussion who are comparable to a lot of our current holdovers. I feel like the most zesty and productive conversations are waiting in purgatory.

  87. 145

    60 votes in this round for Hall of Famers who were on the 1962 Giants. Marichal, Perry, Cepeda, and McCovey contributed just 8.9 total WAR to that 103-win team. Some guy we’ll see on the 1931 ballot contributed 10.5.

    • 146
      birtelcom says:

      1963 was better for this group: I get 19.7 WAR contributed collectively by Marichal/Perry/Cepeda/McCovey (although Perry doesn’t contribute anything to that number).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *