Beating a Dead Horse II: Cooperstown Boogaloo

Last year’s Hall of Fame ballot was arguably the most stacked in our respective lifetimes. Legitimate cases could be made for over a dozen of last year’s candidates, and many of said cases were lucidly spelled out on blogs, television or other media. How did the BBWAA respond? By not voting a single player in.

This year, we’ve lost only Dale Murphy and Bernie Williams from the ballot, but have gained the likes of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Jeff Kent and Mike Mussina. Sean Casey too I suppose, but most voters don’t give a ton of credit for jovial jocularity, regardless how far it is above replacement.

Simply put, we’ve got an even stronger ballot this year, and there’s not a chance that the BBWAA completely blows it again. Much like last year, I’m going to be predicting percentages, analyzing players and hammering out my own ballot. This, and probably a bad joke or two, after the jump.

Once again, Baseball Think Factory is doing a fantastic job keeping tabs on the public ballots, so we’re beginning to get an idea of which players will be elected. As of now, it looks like Maddux, Glavine, Thomas and Biggio could make it, although the latter is not quite set in stone.

The votes and the rationale behind them grow quite puzzling, from Dan Shaughnessy’s claim that Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell “just don’t look right,” to Pat Caputo who finds it “ridiculous that Morris’ feats in the postseason aren’t more acknowledged.” Really, Pat? Without Game 7 in ’91, Morris wouldn’t have sniffed 50 percent. Having said that, Caputo also lamented Lou Whitaker‘s early ballot exit and voted for Alan Trammell this year. So he’s not entirely in the doghouse.

Like last year, I immediately eliminate position players and starting with sub-35 WAR, along with relievers with sub-20 WAR from my ballot. Hard to make an argument for a player fitting that bill, especially in a year like this. In addition, I’m not going to bother writing those players up, as a Mike Timlin breakdown would be for a decidedly niche audience.

Here are the legitimate candidates in alphabetical fashion along with Dalton’s own predicted percentages:

Moises Alou (0%): Had 3+ WAR seasons for five separate NL franchises. Respectable slash line, classic (332/1287/.303) or otherwise (.303/.387/.516). Lacked longevity and fielding ability to give him even 5%.

Jeff Bagwell (59%): His birthday mate will sail in on his first attempt, but Bags will still be on the outside looking in. A crime, as Bagwell is 6th all-time among first basemen by the JAWS measure. Would have made it on first or second ballot without PED speculation.

Craig Biggio (75%): Another of the Killer B’s, Biggio figures to just sneak into the Hall of Fame on this ballot. A 3060 hit man, 668 of which were doubles (most ever for a right-handed hitter). Somehow linked with PEDs, however a better, yet still erroneous criticism would be saying that Biggio was a compiler.

Barry Bonds (37%): Maybe the greatest to ever play the game. No reason, nor space to recite his credits. PEDs will haunt his legacy forever, and will keep him out of Cooperstown for years to come.

Roger Clemens (37%): The Bonds of pitching, on a slightly smaller scale. Hall of Fame résumé, not even considered by many voters.

Tom Glavine (95%): No better than Mike Mussina, but will be elected overwhelmingly. Why? 300 wins, a pair of Cy Youngs and a roster spot on one of the best dynasties of the last 25 years.

Luis Gonzalez (1%): Along with Kenny Rogers, has a chance to be the rare 50+ WAR player to not receive a single vote. Insane 2001 campaign, slamming 57 homers. Naturally overshadowed by a man with an additional 16.

Jeff Kent (17%): Undoubtedly one of the greatest hitters at his position. Actually an average career fielder, save for his final three seasons. Would have a much higher percentage with a weaker ballot.

Greg Maddux (98%): Universally recognized as a pitching legend. His seven-year stretch from 1992 to 1998 featured 4 consecutive Cy Young awards, a 190 ERA+, a 127-53 record and 54.6 rWAR. Not a hint of PEDs. Will somehow not get 100%, despite no legitimate argument against him, presumably because the BBWAA is pure evil.

Edgar Martinez (23%): Rate stats that have Cooperstown written all over them. A position that has yet to truly have Cooperstown written all over it (Paul Molitor maybe). His projected 10-point drop this year is and will always be preposterous.

Don Mattingly (10%): Hall of Famer from 1984-87. Less than one Win Above Average (WAA) the rest of his career. Fine player, can maybe follow in Torre’s footsteps and be elected as a manager one day.

Fred McGriff (16%): Any column that discusses him at length will inevitably bring up the fact that his home run total is identical to Lou Gehrig‘s, and as such, the highest among non-500 HR club members. Largely irrelevant, but a very good hitter that led the league in HRs as many times as Sammy Sosa. Will not be elected.

Mark McGwire (10%): Not here to talk about the past, not seeing above 20% in the BBWAA future. Incredible slugger that averaged 70 Batting Runs per 650 PA from 1995-2000.

Jack Morris (67%): Will lift directly from last year’s piece: “The most divisive figure in the advanced metrics vs. traditional numbers debate. More wins than Bob Gibson, lower ERA+ than Ted Lilly.” Definitely had intestinal fortitude, grit also likely. Thank goodness this is his last year on the ballot.

Mike Mussina (28%): Consistently good to great pitcher. In spite of nickname, hardly resembles a moose. No sane argument could ever put Morris ahead of him. Should be a Hall of Famer now, will probably be down the road. 270 wins, you know…

Rafael Palmeiro (6%): Absurdly good résumé from traditional and sabermetric perspective (569 HR/3020 H, 71.8 WAR). Once won a Gold Glove despite playing 128 games at DH. Finger wags at Congress followed by a positive test–it’s just a bad look, Raffy.

Mike Piazza (69%): A joke that he’s not already in, will join Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and possibly John Smoltz in next year’s class. Best-hitting catcher ever, combining average and power. One of four catchers with four or greater 6+ WAR seasons (Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, Ivan Rodriguez).

Tim Raines (54%): Letting Dan McCloskey’s alter-Twitter-ego handle this.

Kenny Rogers (0%): A surprise at over 50 WAR, alongside a 20-flat WAA. Would maybe grab a few votes on a thinner ballot, but the 4.27 career ERA is too dirty for voters (better ERA+ than Morris for what it’s worth).

Curt Schilling (38%): Similar in career value to Mussina and Glavine, yet the three are judged wholly differently. Great postseason performer, 1 Bloody Sock Above Replacement and a dozen seasons with 4+ WAR. Not Mr. Nice Guy.

Lee Smith (30%): Mid-level ballot performer will likely experience the most precipitous drop-off of any candidate. It’s about damn time–Smith, despite retiring as all-time Saves leader, was a very good reliever but notches somewhere between John Hiller and Kent Tekulve by more objective figures.

Sammy Sosa (7%): Tale of two careers–First nine seasons (18 Batting Runs, 107 Fielding Runs), second nine seasons (312 Batting Runs, -22 Fielding Runs). Likely juicer and frightening skin whitener. The latter may be more reprehensible. 609 HRs is nice; his Pinterest account is even better.

Frank Thomas (88%): Possibly the best pure hitter of the 1990s. Great plate discipline, 521 longballs and was the only player to help out with the infamous Mitchell Report. A .321/.440/.579 slash through age 32. The Big Hurt simply hit.

Alan Trammell (21%): The should-be 1987 MVP, alongside double play mate Lou Whitaker, deserves a spot in Cooperstown. For some reason, their starting pitchers commands far more BBWAA support than both combined. Both were good at nearly everything, not eye-popping at any particular one.

Larry Walker (14%): Another .300/.400/.500 man like Martinez and Thomas. The knock on him is that he benefited far too greatly from the Coors effect. My colleague Adam Darowski shot that down in style here. Also good on his feet and with the glove.

———————

My ballot (if held to the 10-man maximum BBWAA standard)

Greg Maddux

Barry Bonds

Roger Clemens

Frank Thomas

Jeff Bagwell

Mike Piazza

Mike Mussina

Curt Schilling

Larry Walker

Tom Glavine

———————

This ballot was even harder than last year’s, and we see a few players drop off from a year ago. Much like Adam’s Hall of Stats, I too use a mathematical formula to determine who’s Hall-worthy and who’s not. Mine’s not as aesthetically pleasing, but it produces similar results–the Hall of Stats deems 18 players worthy from this ballot, my system has 17 (Jeff Kent is the only one I haven’t got, but he’s among the 10 just below the borderline).

From the public ballots available thus far, I have an identical ballot to one man: Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. Interestingly enough, we had nine of ten spots in common last year. He’s a local columnist for me…maybe I should read him more often.

Feel free to make arguments for some of the players I snubbed. Shouldn’t be too hard for Martinez, Raines, Palmeiro, McGwire, Biggio, Sosa and Trammell–I think they belong anyway. This 10-man business has got to go. Although, if the BBWAA voted in a more sensible fashion, the 10-man limit would not be much of a concern. As for Kent, it shouldn’t be too hard of a sell for me. Hell, if I’m in a good mood, I’ll even listen to pitches for Luis Gonzalez and Kenny Rogers, but that’s about it.

Luckily, this election will see a few players make the 75 percent cut-off, somewhere between three and five likely. That being said, more great players are coming through the pipes and had better get elected, otherwise some great talents will go the way of Kenny Lofton–out of consideration well before their time, squeezed out by an obscenely stacked ballot. We can only hope the BBWAA gets its act together. Or at minimum, they can rescind voting rights from Juan Vene.

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41 Comments on "Beating a Dead Horse II: Cooperstown Boogaloo"

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Disco
Guest

From the BBWAA ELECTION RULES:

5. Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

If Bonds, Clemens, Palmeiro, Sosa, and McGwire deserve enshrinement, then just rechristen it the Hall of Cheaters and A-Holes, and be done with it.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest
In practice, before the PEDS era, the “character clause” affected only borderline (or worse) HOF candidates. Players who were overwhelming HOF candidates and considered, how do I put it politely, “jerks”, such as Ty Cobb, Ted Williams Lefty Grove, and Rogers Hornsby, have usually sailed right in, despite any alleged character defects. Grove and Hornsby took a few years because of the ridiculous backlog at the time, but were probably elected about as soon as they could’ve been. It’s the marginal candidates such as Albert Belle that got no benefit of the doubt. Carl Mays never got any HOF support,… Read more »
Bryan O'Connor
Editor

Carl Mays threw the pitch that killed Carl Mays. That’s deep.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

@4/Bryan,

OOPS!!! of course I meant RAY CHAPMAN as the poor fellow killed by Mays’ pitch. Gotta get a better editor!

Though in sense Carl Mays may have killed his HOF chances with that errant pitch…

no statistician but
Guest

Bonds and Clemens had HOF stats early on in their careers. Palmiero, Sosa, and McGwire didn’t. I think it’s legitimate to question what kind of figures the latter three would have put up without pharmaceutical assistance. Not HOF level is my guess. I could be wrong, but since they DID use PEDs or whatever, there’s no way for me or anyone else to form a sound opinion as to what their true value would have been.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Palmiero was consistent

23-30
35.5 WAR

31-38
34.7 WAR

His boners decreased in his mid thirties, but then there was an uptick.

DaveR
Guest

Hard to say, Voomo. He erected a pretty food career, mostly by facing the high hard one, but his flaccid excuse for steroid use has left him limp.

DaveR
Guest

*good, not food!

Dan McCloskey
Editor

There’s a character clause in the Hall of Fame balloting guidelines?!?

Who knew?

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

The official photo of Sosa in that blue suit looks like he is portraying the President of the United States in a really weird B-movie.

Doug
Editor
Sammy also touts himself as the “real Mr 609” (?). I was curious about Sosa inserting the word “real” in front of that tag, so I googled. How woefully uninformed I am (sigh). Mr. 609 is a tag used by recording artist Ernie Westcott IV, who may or may not be the same person as a DJ describing himself as a kid from South Jersey whose hobby is money. Oh, and he’s also a “Warrior of God”. Thus, the 609 may or may not be a reference to 2 Cor 6:9 “known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we… Read more »
Jameson
Guest

609 is a South Jersey area code, also.

Bryan O'Connor
Editor

Well done, Dalton. If Schilling was 1 Bloody Sock Above Replacement Level, that puts just about everybody else at -1 BSAR, unless there’s a strange epidemic I haven’t heard about.

You’ve got a total of 891%, so you’re assuming the average voter names 8.91 guys. It should be 10, of course, but I think there are too many curmudgeons to reach that average. I’d drop a few points from Kent and Smith and, sadly, Schilling and Walker. There’s also a good chance Sosa, Palmeiro, and maybe even Mattingly fall short of 5%.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Sosa as
“tale of two careers”

He achieved:

30-30 and
60-0

birtelcom
Editor

Looks like the biggest suspense for today is around Biggio. He seems to be right at the edge of induction or not induction. If inducted, he’d be going in ahead of a large number of Circle of Greats inductees, although he is still sitting on the holdover list for our COG.

John Z
Guest
I agree Birt…. Biggio is going to be the biggest story this morning as we close in on the 2pm hour, I wonder how well Craig slept last night, I know it means a lot to him. There is not much correlation between this our COG ballot and this HOF ballot. Schilling was highly debated and eventually enshrined into the COG, it looks like he will receive approximately 30 percent of the vote on his first HOF ballot. It will be interesting to see if Curt will follow the progression he had here and be selected on his 8th HOF… Read more »
mosc
Guest

Schilling will do fine once Maddux, Glavine, Johnson, and Martinez are off of the ballot. Will be a while though.

oneblankspace
Guest

Remember, it’s not .745 or even .7495 that’s required, it must be .75000 to get in.

Although the only four players to finish above .74 and below .750 — N.Fox, B.Williams, J.Bunning and B.Blyleven — did get in.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

@19/obs,

But… Fox and Bunning had to wait for the Veteran’s Committee to select them, Fox taking 12 years after he was last on the writer’s ballot in 1985.

oneblankspace
Guest

Fox was the only one over .745, and he did it on his last year on the ballot. I had a calendar with Whose Birthday Is It Today? that had a black star next to Hall of Famers; they added a white star for Nellie Fox.

BHerz
Guest

I cannot believe that Ken Gurnick of MLB.com completely left Maddux off the ballot–in fact, he voted only for Jack Morris (!) and no one else, stating that he can’t vote for ANYONE who played in the steroid era.

birtelcom
Editor

I’m almost certain there will be other ballots, among the many that are not being publicly disclosed, that for one reason or another do not include Maddux (including one or more ballots returned but left completely blank). At least Gurnick had the cojones to reveal his ballot.

Mike HBC
Guest
While I would never really defend anyone who didn’t vote for Maddux, my favorite baseball player ever, I can understand leaving him off if you’re sure he’s getting in and want to put ten other players who you also feel are worthy on your ballot. Considering how many strong candidates there are, I wouldn’t be mad at someone who used that rationale. What that one writer (I won’t even use his name) did was idiotic, and everyone knows it was. It’s not worth discussing further. Everyone also knows that the system is completely broken; in my eyes, that’s also not… Read more »
birtelcom
Editor

I think the 10-person limit is good for the process, and that really the only reason it’s a big issue at the moment is that the PEDs issue has created a strange backlog. Allowing voters to vote for an unlimited number would, I think create a strong temptation for many voters to vote for un-deserving favorites, as it would really cost nothing. Absent the PEDs issue, the ten-person ballot limit would not, in itself, prevent all deserving candidates from being inducted — not necessarily immediately, but over a reasonable period of time.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest
@18/birtelcom, I’d keep the 10-vote limit, but give the voters a “let me think about it more” option. I suppose I could formally call it the “Keep this HOF candidate on the ballot” option. It would be defined as: “A vote for this option would not be a vote for inducting this player in the HOF. Rather, it would be for keeping him on the HOF ballot, so that voters can consider his HOF candidacy for another year.” A HOF candidate would need: {“Keep this HOF candidate on the ballot votes”} + {HOF votes for the candidate}> or = to… Read more »
John Z
Guest
Here is my honest opinion regarding the use of steroids/peds in professional sports and the Hall of Fame. My opinion might even be chastised much like Gurnick by 60 percent of the fans. We would not disallow little Timmy from graduating High School because he cheated on that math exam in 4th grade, 8 years ago, that thought would be preposterous. So why do we hold these grown men, these professional athletes to such godly status that they can never be forgiven for making a judgement error.. Secondly why is it peds only give a chosen few god like powers… Read more »
Mike L
Guest
John Z–I’m going to push back on that just a little. We honor these people for what they do on the field in comparison to what others do. In a way, it is a zero sum game. If Clemens’s fastball is a mile an hour faster, maybe he gets the big strike out instead of the line-drive. If Bonds is a little bit stronger, maybe that 360 foot HR is a 350 fly-out, and the pitcher’s ERA doesn’t take a hit. And if Palmiero managed to prolong and enhance the productive part of his career by an extra few years,… Read more »
no statistician but
Guest

John Z:

Did little Timmy parlay that exam into a career as a rocket scientist? No. It ended there. Or if it didn’t he eventually ended up in the big house for insider trading after a fabulous career as a high roller. One thing he didn’t do was go on to success in a field requiring mathematics. Not unless his real name was Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky.

Stubby
Guest
My problem with that logic is this. This isn’t about guys taking PEDs to chase numbers in some purely academic sense, separate and apart from other factors. This is about people in a profession of limited longevity, trying to maximize their earning potential for themselves and their families while they can. In Bonds case, in particular (assuming he used PEDs, which, technically, still hasn’t been proven by a legal standard), here’s one of the greatest pure hitters in baseball history (I mean, seriously, the guy was his generation’s Ted Williams and Hank Aaron combined BEFORE steroids) and he looks around… Read more »
RJ
Guest

Marty Noble of mlb.com:

“I don’t want 28 people entering the Hall at once, so I limited my checks on the ballot to three [Glavine, Maddux, Morris].”

Now obviously this is hyperbole, but it got me thinking what the theoretical limit is on the amount of players being inducted at once. Given a maximum of 10 names on the ballot and a 75% threshold for induction I think (and this is only back of the envelope stuff mind) that the limit is 13.

Given that this requires perfect co-ordination between voters I think we can safely assume this will never, ever happen.

mosc
Guest

You are correct, current limit is 13 based on the 75% threshold (and exceeding 10 would require a great deal of coordination or dumb luck even if all ballots were for 10 guys).

Ryan
Guest

I like the WAR method, and it seems to work pretty well as a predictor, but tightening the standards might be better (especially if a later portion of writers turn to SABR/similar methods). The max is 10, but it’s the Hall of Fame, not Hall of Very Good, and from my memory of Mussina he was just that: A very good pitcher who frequently had above average years on (typically) pretty good teams.

That being said, I’m biased toward Edgar Martinez anyway and would vote for him, so what do I know? Good write-up!

Michael Sullivan
Guest
Players who are as “very good” for as many years as Mussina was generally are considered slam dunks for the hall if their stats meet certain should-be-irrelevant traditional guidelines. Meet Tom Glavine, who just went in with 92% of the vote. Looking at them objectively, using stats and standards over which pitchers have reasonable control, their career value was about equal, and Mike did it over Do you think Glavine deserves to be a slam dunk? or is he “hall of very good” too? Just like MM, he was certainly never the best pitcher in the majors, clearly behind guys… Read more »
Ryan
Guest
Regardless of what is traditionally a lock to put someone in the HoF, I don’t believe Mussina should be. If we were only basing our opinions off of traditional measures, this web site would not exist. Your first argument is therefore invalid. Still, I am sorry if my opinion angered you. I don’t believe I ever mentioned Glavine or called him a sure-fire Hall of Famer. From what I remember, he was the leader of a series of great Braves teams, where Mussina was the top dog for some pretty good Orioles teams and a strong supporting cast member of… Read more »
Lawrence Azrin
Guest
@34/Ryan, Both Glavine and Mussina comfortably exceed the minimum standards I have for a HOF pitcher. Both of them are above most benchmarks of the statistically “average” HOF pitcher. I’m not sure how small your HOF is, but if you cut the size of the HOF in half, I think they’d both still belong. Glavine gets in quicker, because of the 300-win benchmark, but I wouldn’t hold it against him that he pitched most of his career alpngside one of the half-dozen greatest pitchers ever. Willie McCovey was the 2nd/3rd best player on the Giants much of his career; Hank… Read more »
Timmy Pea
Guest

Jack Morris got robbed.

birtelcom
Editor

Sorry to hear that. Did the police catch the guy?

Now back to the Hall of Fame discussion.

Mike L
Guest

Timmy Pea-welcome back!

Mike L
Guest

The most interesting stat in the HOF voting isn’t the 16 voters who didn’t go for Maddux (whatever their reasons). It’s Palmeiro, who is now off the ballot forever and can only be considered by the Vet’s Committee. That’s interesting. Sosa and McGwire are (barely) hanging on, but they have some time for attitudes to change. Raffi is done.

bells
Guest
I wonder if this is as far as the glut goes. Next year, we have Johnson and Pedro to act as our Maddux and Glavine, Smoltz to act as our Thomas (although I don’t think he’ll get as many votes), so for the major players, it’s the same ballot, with maybe a few extra votes to go around (for the crowd that voted all 10 spaces). We gained the holdovers of Mussina and Kent, but lost Palmiero and Morris. The latter is going to be the big difference maker. I think that Sheffield and Delgado combined shouldn’t get as many… Read more »
BryanM
Guest

Nice work Dalton. Delighted to see the three players get in, hopefully at least as many next year as we work off the logjam , happy for Glavine , who is a worthy inductee, although surprisingly popular among the voters compared to a couple of other guys who were every bit as good and are also not Blue Jays announcers.

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