Baseball Hall of Fame: Recreating Cooperstown with WAR Leaders

KGJThe 21st century is quickly bringing about a variety of changes that the baseball community desperately needed. We now have real consequences for performance-enhancing drug users, instant replay to ensure that “human error” doesn’t affect the most pivotal moments, and cooler stats than ever at our fingertips. Coming up next, MLB is trying to create a safer in-stadium experience and continuing to experiment with ways to improve the pace of play.

Unfortunately, there is no indication that innovation fever will carry over to the National Baseball Hall of Fame anytime soon. Frustrating inconsistencies continue to plague its induction process.

Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza will become Cooperstown’s newest additions this summer. Both of their careers featured extraordinary peaks and impressive longevity, with Griffey in particular passing every conceivable empirical and intangible test of excellence.

But for reasons that still haven’t been revealed, three participating BBWAA voters excluded him from their ballots. So continues the sport’s longest streak: 80 years of experienced scribes finding some fault in every player’s career (no unanimous inductees).

Of course, Griffey does not need your pity. He’s headed for enshrinement regardless. The true victims of the process?

  • Stars of previous generations who were under-appreciated in times of weaker analysis
  • Griffey contemporaries who, despite historic accomplishments, have been withheld from the Hall for perceived “character issues” (several based on pure speculation)
  • Borderline candidates who fell off/will soon fall off the ballot because of arbitrary limits on years of eligibility and total selections allowed per voter.


There’s never going to be a consensus on how to fix this, and that’s not what this column is about, anyway. Instead, I invite you to escape from reality for the next few minutes as we imagine a Hall of Fame that would actually celebrate baseball’s most impactful players.

For this exercise, we will toss aside the narratives, accolades and personalities. The focus is solely on in-game value, as measured by Baseball-Reference’s Wins Above Replacement. What names would be affiliated with baseball immortality if crushing the competition of your era was all that mattered?

More precisely, let’s set the HoF threshold as three or more career seasons of ranking in the MLB top 10 in WAR (pitchers and position players ranked separately). This criterion prioritizes each generation’s peak performers while weeding out “compilers” and flash-in-the-pan successes. It also conveniently creates a community of similar size to the current Cooperstown population.

Finally, we will simulate an induction schedule for these stars beginning in 1936, the same year the actual Hall of Fame began naming names. The following rules attempt to keep pace with the 20th century expansion of MLB teams/roster sizes and minimize the number of “empty years” (those with zero inductees):

  • Ten original members inducted in 1936
  • A maximum of two new members inducted annually for the rest of the Pre-Integration Era (1937-1946)
  • A maximum of three new members inducted annually throughout the Golden Era (1947-1972)
  • A maximum of four new members inducted annually throughout the Expansion Era (1973-Present)
  • Players become eligible for induction five years after their final MLB appearance
  • All qualified players are inducted in order of descending career WAR (higher WAR totals enter first)



TG_HoFEven the most dominant relievers in the sport’s history didn’t stand much of a chance of qualifying for a club that’s based on raw value. Cooperstown closers like Dennis Eckersley (inducted 2004), Rollie Fingers (1992) and Goose Gossage (2005) were undeniably making an impact with their high-leverage heroics, but their season-by-season WAR doesn’t reflect that due to a lack of innings.

Same goes for the most recent generation of saves leaders—Mariano Rivera (eligible in 2019), Trevor Hoffman, Billy Wagner, etc. Rarely working outside of the ninth inning kept them all far below the threshold for passing this Hall of Fame’s test.

You will also notice the absence of several revered “winners” from this fraternity. Although consistently very good, Tom Glavine (inducted 2014) and Andy Pettitte (eligible in 2019) only twice posted seasons that cracked the top 10 in MLB pitcher WAR.

It’s certainly worth noting that Glavine and Pettitte were productive in the postseason, and that goes unacknowledged by our basic selection process. (I never said this would be perfect!)

Other real-life inductees who were snubbed include Chief Bender, Jack Chesbro, Jesse Haines, Waite Hoyt, Catfish Hunter, Addie Joss, Rube Marquard, Eppa Rixey, Edd Roush, Bruce Sutter, Don Sutton, and Hoyt Wilhelm.



edgar3What does it take to be among the league’s most valuable position players? Usually, some semblance of all-around skills—positive defense and/or base running contributions to complement damage inflicted with the bat.

Harmon Killebrew (inducted in 1984), Tony Perez (2000), Willie Stargell (1988), Edgar Martinez (currently eligible), Vladimir Guerrero (eligible in 2017) and Jim Thome (2018)—just to name a handful—fail to cross over into this Hall of Fame on the strength of their run production alone. Speedy singles specialist Lou Brock (eligible in 1985) fell short, too.

With few exceptions, catchers were heavily discriminated against. It boils down to how the physical demands of the job limit their total playing time (opportunities for WAR accumulation) relative to their peers. Missing from the list below: Yogi Berra (inducted in 1972), Roy Campanella (1969), Mickey Cochrane (1947), Bill Dickey (1954), Gabby Hartnett (1955) and Ivan Rodriguez (eligible in 2017).

Notable exclusions from the other positions include Luis Aparicio, Jake Beckley, Craig Biggio, Jim Bottomley, Roger Bresnahan, Max Carey, Orlando Cepeda, Fred Clarke, Earle Combs, Kiki Cuyler, Hugh Duffy, Buck Ewing, Rick Ferrell, Nellie Fox, Chick Hafey, Billy Herman, Harry Hooper, George Kell, George Kelly, Barry Larkin, Tony Lazzeri, Freddy Lindstrom, Heinie Manush, Rabbit Maranville, Bill Mazeroski, Tommy McCarthy, Eddie Murray, Kirby Puckett, Jim Rice, Phil Rizzuto, Ray Schalk, Red Shoendienst, Enos Slaughter, Joe Tinker, Pie Traynor, Lloyd Waner, Zack Wheat, Dave Winfield and Ross Youngs.


At last, we have arrived at baseball’s ultimate WAR-riors. There are 233 of them—105 pitchers, 128 position players.

Remember that the order of induction follows the rules stated earlier. And keep in mind, these players qualified based on their American League and/or National League production; the Hall of Fame recognizes earlier stars of the American Association/National Association/Union Association era as “Pioneer/Executive” inductees.

*Players who earn inductions during their first year of eligibility have been bolded

**Players who are not inducted in the actual Hall of Fame have been underlined


1936 Grover Cleveland Alexander, Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, Walter Johnson, Nap Lajoie, Christy Mathewson, Kid Nichols, Tris Speaker, Honus Wagner, Cy Young

The BBWAA took awhile to adopt the “five years post-retirement” condition for eligibility and rushed Babe Ruth into the class of ’36. But we want uniformity and will make him wait.

These 10 all-timers still unite for a pretty stacked collection of talent.


1937 Tim Keefe, Eddie Plank

1938 John Clarkson, George Davis

1939 Cap Anson, Roger Connor

1940 Dan Brouthers, Pud Galvin

1941 Jim McCormick, Babe Ruth

Late 19th-century workhorse McCormick is the first Cooperstown outsider to make it in here. He STARTED 74 games for the Cleveland Blues back in 1880! Led the league in ERA+, WHIP and complete games at various times during his career.


1942 Sam Crawford, Bill Dahlen

1943 Rogers Hornsby, Charles Radbourn

1944 Frankie Frisch, Harry Heilmann

1945 Lou Gehrig, Bobby Wallace

1946 Ed Delahanty, Amos Rusie

1947 Red Faber, Goose Goslin, Lefty Grove

Induction class size expands post-integration and features Grove—by any measure, one of the best southpaws ever.


1948 Stan Coveleski, Charlie Gehringer, Vic Willis

1949 Carl Hubbell, Billy Hamilton, Mickey Welch

1950 Jesse Burkett, Al Simmons, Ed Walsh

1951 Joe Cronin, Jimmie Foxx, Paul Waner

1952 Home Run Baker, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Ted Lyons

Shoeless Joe would’ve been a shoo-in for the HoF if not for the Black Sox Scandal. His early-career contributions for the Cleveland Naps—averaged 8.8 WAR from 1911 to 1913—were most impressive.


1953 Jack Glasscock, Mel Ott, Dazzy Vance

1954 Joe McGinnity, Arky Vaughan, Rube Waddell

1955 Eddie Cicotte, Hank Greenberg, Clark Griffith

1956 Luke Appling, Joe Gordon, Jack Powell

1957 Joe DiMaggio, Joe Medwick, Red Ruffing

1958 Lou Boudreau, Mordecai Brown, George Sisler

1959 Willie Keeler, Johnny Mize, Bill Terry

1960 Jimmy Collins, Elmer Flick, Joe Sewell

1961 Tommy Bond, Stan Hack, Hal Newhouser

1962 Bob Feller, Bobo Newsom, Jackie Robinson

1963 Bobby Doerr, Silver King, Dutch Leonard

1964 Larry Doby, Joe Kelley, Pee Wee Reese

1965 Dave Bancroft, Burleigh Grimes, Ralph Kiner

1966 Earl Averill, Heinie Groh, Ted Williams

1967 Johnny Evers, Art Fletcher, Dizzy Trout

1968 Richie Ashburn, Noodles Hahn, Bob Shawkey

1969 John McGraw, Stan Musial, Early Wynn

1970 Frank Chance, Billy Pierce, Duke Snider

1971 King Kelly, Jim O’Rourke, Sam Thompson

1972 Chuck Klein, Al Orth, Herb Pennock

1973 Charlie Keller, Claude PasseauRobin Roberts, Warren Spahn

Induction class size expands again to keep pace with league expansion.


1974 Rocky Colavito, Larry Jackson, Mickey Mantle, Eddie Mathews

1975 Ken Boyer, Dizzy Dean, Don Drysdale, Hughie Jennings

1976 Frank Dwyer, George Gore, Paul Hines, Bill Nicholson

An example of how this selection process could be awkward…Three of these four inductees died too soon to attend their ceremony, pushed back decades by their lack of career WAR.


1977 Ernie Banks, Jim Bunning, Eddie Stanky, Roy Thomas

1978 Johnny CallisonRoberto Clemente, Camilo Pascual, Hack Wilson

1979 Fred Dunlap, Bob Lemon, Willie MaysPreacher Roe

1980 Dean ChanceAl Kaline, Ron Santo, Deacon White

1981 Bob Gibson, Jim Maloney Juan Marichal, Vada Pinson

1982 Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, John Ward, Billy Williams

1983 Dick Allen, Brooks Robinson, Al RosenChris Short

1984 Larry CorcoranTex Hughson, Frank SullivanWilbur Wood

1985 Dick Radatz

Finally, the backlog of qualified candidates loosens enough so that one player gets the stage to himself.

Not much of a treat for the fans, though. Radatz was dead last among our 233 members with only 16.1 WAR. Excluding his first three seasons in the majors, the right-handed reliever was worse than replacement level!


1986 Willie McCovey

1987 none

1988 Luis Tiant

1989 Johnny Bench, Fergie Jenkins, Gaylord Perry, Carl Yastrzemski

1990 Jim Kaat, Jon Matlack, Joe Morgan, Jim Palmer

1991 Rod Carew

1992 Cesar Cedeno, Bobby Grich, Pete Rose, Tom Seaver

1993 Vida Blue, Reggie Jackson, Phil Niekro

1994 Steve Carlton, Ron Guidry

1995 Tommy John, Mike Schmidt

1996 none

1997 Rick Reuschel

1998 Bert Blyleven, Gary Carter

1999 George Brett, Carlton Fisk, Nolan Ryan, Robin Yount

2000 Teddy Higuera, Frank Tanana

2001 none

2002 Andre Dawson, Ozzie Smith, Alan Trammell, Frank Viola

Trammell just fell off the BBWAA ballot after 15 years of middling support, but he would have been granted immortality immediately by these rules.


2003 Ryne Sandberg, Fernando Valenzuela

2004 Jimmy Key, Dennis Martinez, Dave Stieb

2005 Wade Boggs, Tom Candiotti, Mark Langston

2006 Albert Belle, Orel Hershiser

2007 Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken Jr., Brett Saberhagen

2008 Chuck Finley, Chuck Knoblauch, Tim Raines, Jose Rijo

Raines is still waiting his turn in real life, which is absurd. We are running out of patience.


2009 David Cone, Rickey Henderson

2010 Roberto Alomar, Kevin Appier

2011 Jeff Bagwell, Kevin Brown, Larry Walker

2012 Brad Radke

2013 Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Kenny Lofton, Curt Schilling

Love ’em or hate ’em on a personal level, this kind of mega class if WAY more interesting than The Brad Radke Experience.


2014 Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina, Mike Piazza, Frank Thomas

2015 Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Kenny Rogers, John Smoltz

2016 Jim Edmonds, Nomar Garciaparra, Ken Griffey Jr., Brandon Webb


And looking forward, this is how the next few induction classes would shake out…


2017 none

2018 Andruw JonesChipper Jones, Scott Rolen, Carlos Zambrano

2019 Roy HalladayTodd Helton, Roy Oswalt


Aggregated from, this spreadsheet of annual WAR leaders is fun for reflecting on some of the outlier seasons that this crazy sport produces: Year-by-Year bWAR Leaders

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments, or address them directly to me on Twitter @MrElyminator.

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59 Comments on "Baseball Hall of Fame: Recreating Cooperstown with WAR Leaders"

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Dr. Doom
Neat project. The problem I see is that there are WAY too many 19th century and early-20th century players on this list for my taste, but it’s a fun list overall. You want to complain about some of the weak links in this chain (Brandon Webb? Dick Radatz? REALLY?)… but they’re all better than the weakest of players in Cooperstown, so that makes you think twice. Very cool piece overall, although I wish you could’ve included just the top part of the article on the main page so there wasn’t SO much to scroll through to get to the older… Read more »

Yep, I forgot to ask Ely to put a jump in all his posts. He can go back in and do that in the editor.


I’m not sure I understand how this works, and an example includes two of my favorite players–I’m a huge Hack Wilson fan–but how does he get in with 38.8 WAR and Graig Nettles isn’t in, with 68 WAR?

Nettles led the league twice in WAR and had four other top ten finishes (position players only). Wilson led zero times and had five top ten seasons.

I’m not sure I understand the system. Is it a matter of timing?


Yes, it’s a matter of who the players with the highest WAR are that are otherwise eligible and not already in the HOF. Nettles became eligible at a time when there were lots of good candidates, and then never ranked high enough to get in thereafter.


Okay, so look at my Cedeno example–he gets in because he retired two years before Nettles. Nettles gets penalized because a club decided they wanted him to play a couple more years.


Yes, I think your understanding of what happened there is correct. It’s somewhat similar to the actual HOF voting, of course. Older guys on the ballot (like Trammell) lose votes because of newer guys who aren’t necessarily even better but are more in the front of voters’ minds.

Still, the mechanism you point out may be correctable. I am hoping Ely will take this model forward with some adjustments–although perhaps it will end up just becoming Adam’s Hall of Stats (which is already so good and there is no reason to compete or replicate.)


Cedeno would be an example of a Nettles contemporary–52.7 WAR and five top ten finishes–but never led the league, and he’s in.

This is confusing to me. Cedeno’s last year was 86. Nettles’ was 88. If Nettles had retired after 1986, would he have been in instead of Cedeno?

Dr. Doom
Yeah, I initially just gave it a cursory glance, and it looked interesting. But now I have some questions, too. Like, why would Brandon Webb get in, but not Tom Glavine? Both led in WAR once. Webb finished in the top-10 5 times, Glavine 6. Webb gets in with 33 WAR, but Glavine stays out with 74? Why? I think we all need a little more explanation of the methodology. Do you get to linger on the “ballot” indefinitely? Noodles Hahn takes about 55 years to get in; why wouldn’t Graig Nettles get in IMMEDIATELY in 1993, when his five… Read more »
If I’m getting the methodology correct, it looks like Nettles doesn’t make it because he was only Top 10 in the MLB in position player WAR twice, not three times. He was 2nd in 1971 and 3rd in 1976. But he was 11th in 1978, missing out on the Top 10 by .1 WAR. Since WAR simply isn’t that granular, it does seem silly to keep him out. But I suppose part of this exercise was to see what the list looks like with no statistical massaging done – without making any adjustments for league strength and without considering career… Read more »

Baseball reference WAR, Nettles is top 10 WAR six times. Whose WAR are we using?

We’re using BB-Ref WAR, but the Top 10 criterion is for all of baseball, not just one league. So while Nettles has six top 10 WAR finishes in the AL, he only has two among the MLB leaders. It’s tougher to find because you have to check it manually – for every year he was Top 10 in the AL, you have to check the MLB leaders for that season and see if he made it. As I posted above, he’s literally missing this list because of 1/10th of a point of WAR in 1978. 1/10th of a point of… Read more »
Richard Chester

Fangraphs shows shows 3 top ten seasons for Nettles. In 1978 he is rated as 5th best.


Okay–thanks for clarifying. I understand the system now.

Adam Darowski

Seems it’s not career WAR, which produces some interesting results.

“More precisely, let’s set the HoF threshold as three or more career seasons of ranking in the MLB top 10 in WAR (pitchers and position players ranked separately). This criterion prioritizes each generation’s peak performers while weeding out “compilers” and flash-in-the-pan successes.”

Can you talk a little bit about that? I’m not sure Tex Hughson comes to mind as a Hall of Famer to anyone (traditional or sabermetric), so I’m curious about using only three years.


I tend to agree. Ely, what happens if you run this same analysis without the 3-year leader criterion, or if you change it to, say, 5? I presume you have at least an idea of how it changes things.

Dan McCloskey

I didn’t count, but it also seems like this would skew a bit heavily towards pitchers (more of a 50-50 split rather than a 2-to-1 ratio of everyday players to pitchers).


I noted that below as well – this list is 45% pitchers (106 of 234). The actual HoF is something like 31% pitchers – a tiny bit more than a 2 to 1 ratio.


It does seem that the process leads to a lot of really questionable selections, especially from the mid-70’s to the mid-80’s.

I’m a little confused as to why guys were going in 4 at a time during that stretch when in the 15 or so years following that only happened when there was an plethora of at least reasonably well qualified candidates.

I have to say I’m not sure this is an improvement over the process that has been in place and considering how messed up that has been it’s failed to clear a pretty low bar.


Seems like the bar is pretty low with 3 or more seasons ranking in the top 10 in WAR. That’s a short and potentially not very high peak.

Richard Chester

A good example is Dick Radatz. He had only 7 seasons in the majors. 3 were brilliant and 4 were below average. He should not be a HOFer.

Richard Chester

But then again raising the bar to 4 or more years will create a community smaller in size than the current Cooperstown population.

Brendan Burke

This is why a 10-years-in-the-majors requirement should be enforced (as in real life) for players who began their career in 1901 or later.


It would be interesting to run this again with requirements of 4, 5, and 6 years in top 10 WAR. I bet it would change quite a bit.

Bryan O'Connor

This is looking more and more like the Hall of Peak Value.

For starters, I don’t think you’re correct about the status of American Association players. It’s true that the National Association isn’t recognized as a Major League, so NA players have to make it as pioneers. But the American Association, Federal League, Player’s League and even the lowly Union Association are considered Major Leagues, and a player is judged on his entire playing record in the Major Leagues. The writers have simply considered the AA to be the inferior league, so most of the AA’s stars (Pete Browning, Harry Stovey, Tony Mullane, Bob Caruthers) are on the outside looking in. But… Read more »
I’d say one thing that surprises me is the guys that still make it under this rubric. I mean, certain guys are going to get knocked off by any stat-based framework; Lloyd Waner and Tommy McCarthy and Highpockets Kelly and so forth. There’s no way to account for those guys in a purely statistical measure without putting a finger on the scale. But 2/3’rds of Tinker to Evers to Chance are still here, with no credit for Chance’s managing or their poetry-related fame. Bob Lemon and Early Wynn still make it, even though those two are often seen as borderline… Read more »
Okay, I think I understand a little better now. I thought there were other factors being accounted for, but this is literally just every single player that had 3 or more Top 10 finishes in MLB in either position player or pitcher bWAR. So what Richard said above is true – setting the cut-off at 4 Top 10 seasons would give us a list of players smaller than the current number of Cooperstown members that were inducted primarily for their playing years in the MLB, whereas this exercise gives us a list slightly larger than that number. That being said,… Read more »
Dr. Doom

I actually just realized that you had to finish in the top ten in MLB, not in your league. That makes some of the omissions make sense (Nettles, Berra, Cochrane, Glavine, Biggio, etc., etc.).

I’ve had to look at this a few times to get it fully, but now I think I do.

Also explains the seeming bias towards 19th century players – for long stretches of time, the NL was the only league, so Top 10 in your league and Top 10 in MLB were synonymous. Even when there were other leagues, you get a couple seasons where the Top 10 in MLB WAR are like 9 NL guys and 1 AA guy (1882 is like that, with only Pete Browning representing the AA among the Top 10). In fact, in 1883, not a single AA guy makes the MLB Top 10 – Ed Swartwood and Harry Stovey finish in 11th and… Read more »

Light bulb goes on. Thank you for pointing this out.

One thing for everybody to keep in mind: This post was originally my idea, and I asked Ely to run with it (which he did very nicely.) It was never my intent, and I presume not Ely’s, to present this as the “correct” Hall of Fame, but rather the beginnings of a framework to see how the HoF might look if we tried to vote in the most deserving players. I think what we see is that this initial model needs some further tweaking, and I think there have been some great suggestions here. Hopefully Ely will be motivated to… Read more »

Speaking of Dick Radatz, his son once posted here. I’m sure he’d be thrilled to find out that his dad makes the hypothetical HoF in this exercise.

Richard Chester

Dick Radatz Jr. posted several comments on a blog entitled Flashback: J.R. Richard on 9-17-2012.

Richard Chester

Radatz holds the record for most WAR for a relief pitcher in his first three seasons, 17.3 from 1962-1964.

Every time I think I fully understand this list, I’m not sure I do. Will White should qualify even without his AA seasons because he was Top 10 in NL pitching WAR 4 times – granted, it would have almost been impossible for him not to finish Top 10 since every team’s #1 starter was basically guaranteed a spot in the Top 10 (heck, in 1877, he had 0.9 WAR over just 27 innings, but finished 9th in the NL; in 1878 he was 6th in WAR, ranked 5th among the 6 #1 starters – the only one below him… Read more »
no statistician but
Let’s take a look at Frank Sullivan. His fourth place WAR finish in 1954 consists of a 4-9 record against winning teams, with an ERA of 4.32. His luck was in against the Yankees that year: in spite of a 4.67 ERA he finished 2-2. Against the champion Tribesmen he was 0-5 and 4.50. On the other hand, he was a terror against the Tigers, Orioles, Senators, and A’s with an 11-3 W-L showing, plus a 1.98 ERA. These teams, perhaps fortunately for him, had W-L averages of .442, .429, .351, and .331. He poured it on especially well against… Read more »
Good points, nsb. WAR, of course, normalizes for home ballpark, but not (I think) for actual ballparks where players pitched, or for strength of opposition/schedule. Players since 1914 who pitched better against .500 teams (no. of 150 IP seasons with ERA against .500 teams 0.8 runs lower than overall ERA). Melido Perez 4 Jamie Moyer 3 Mike Mussina 2 Aaron Sele 2 Randy Wolf 2 Art Nehf 2 Aaron Harang 2 Bill Gullickson 2 Pascual Perez 2 Bob Knepper 2 Schoolboy Rowe 2 Steve Carlton 2 Larry Cheney 2 Darryl Kile 2 Matt Young 2 Dick Donovan 2 Mickey Lolich… Read more »

Very cool way to look at it. Thanks for the hard work. Stylistic note: Edd Roush belongs on the list of position players not in now, not pitchers.

Oh, and Mordecei Brown is underlined as if he isn’t currently in the HOF, but he is.



One other potential issue – I believe this exercise is looking at people who were Top 10 in WAR for pitchers, no the Top 10 in WAR among pitchers. It’s not a huge difference, but it leaves out hitting value. Please correct me if I’m wrong on that point, Ely.

And speaking of good hitting pitchers, it seems like both George Uhle and Wes Ferrell should be on this list. Uhle has 4 seasons that fit the criteria, and I believe he’d have 5 if he gets credit for his bat. Ferrell has 6 seasons either way.


I forgot to add, on the other end of the spectrum, you take a guy like Dean Chance and I think he gets knocked off the list if his batting WAR is allowed to drag him down. Chance is just about the worst hitting pitcher ever, so I’m not sure if anyone else would fall off – even with his awful bat, Koufax still clears the bar easily with his peak years.

I don’t want it to seem like I’m picking on this idea, since I actually really like it, but if it’s going to be tweaked into something even better we need to make sure that our data is correct, and the more I look at it, the more it seems like we’re missing a lot of pitchers. I wrote above that intuitively, it seems much easier for a pitcher to make this list – there are always more position players vying for Top 10 slots than there are pitchers. Seeing Jack Powell, one of the best under .500 pitchers ever,… Read more »

So the big problem is the criteria of “top 10” in a league that changed size. As a result, it’s an incredibly high bar for position players in recent years and a fairly low bar for old time pitchers. To refine it, the “top X” size needs to be changed with league size and the pitcher/position player ratio controlled similarly. If you do that, it’s still going to be an interesting list but one that’s a lot less wonky.

Yeah, that’s what I was thinking too. I really like this idea a lot, and developing an initial methodology and throwing it out there is a good way to get feedback and discussion about possible refinements (obviously, as there are almost 60 comments here). I think it’s entirely possible to come up with a relatively simple formula to address this, like weight the finishes (10 points for first, 1 point for 10th) and multiply the results by the number of teams overall (that might create too much stratification and weighting towards the current players, but hey, might as well see… Read more »
I get what you’re trying to do and it’s interesting. Without foresight of future players, you have to think what old time voters had at their disposal. Not having modern metrics is one thing but not foreseeing future players strengths/weaknesses is hardly something they thought about. I just think when trying to span such large historical eras that you need to compensate for the change in league size or else things get out of control with “top x player in the league”. Saying here are the top X career WAR scores is not interesting. What you’re doing is much more… Read more »
Lawrence Azrin
MORE CATCHERS!! – You absolutely need to make adjustments to get more catchers on this list; it loses a great deal of credibility if you don’t have at least 8/10 catchers total. If I’m reading it correctly, these are only three catchers currently on the above list; -Johnny Bench -Gary Carter -Carlton Fisk …and if you list him as a catcher (though B-R has him under ‘right fielder’): – King Kelly Does anybody really believe these are the only three (four?) HOF-worthy catchers? It is simply not reasonable to have any baseball HOF, subjective or even totally objective/stats-based as this… Read more »