Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Hall Crap

Just so you don’t think I’ve been totally useless over the holidays, I did devote about 45 minutes one day to tearing apart Jon Heyman’s Hall of Fame ballot, but in the midst of some quick research, I noticed that Firejoemorgan had already taken it on (here and here).

Heyman’s post is peculiar in its (sort of) defensiveness, but it’s really no different than most HOF columns. It was filled with cherry picked stats from a guy who says that we shouldn’t rely on stats (we only shouldn’t rely on meaningless stats like the ones Heyman uses). Anyway I stumbled on Tracy Ringolsby’s column for the Rocky Mountain News regarding his Hall voting. Here, I’ll show them with commentary!

Time for one last pitch ? which will be swung at and missed.

That’s his first sentence. What the fuck? Either there’s a question mark in the sentence or there’s no capitalization to start the second sentence (fragment). I didn’t just get back from the grammar rodeo so I'll try not to discuss these things, but I’m also not a real f’ing writer like Tracy is.

I mostly like that he’s saying the voters will get this first vote wrong, which is unfortunate because Tracy’s a voter and he gets everything right.

Shortstop Dave Concepcion is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the 15th and final time. He has managed to draw the 5 percent support each year to get another shot, including being named on 13.6 percent of the ballots cast last year - 74 of 545.

Sounds like this guy is clearly not a Hall of Famer. Could the voters be THAT wrong? .

Concepcion is often overlooked because of the talent of the Big Red Machine, but he was the stabilizing force up the middle.

Nebulous and meaningless. Where does stabilizing force fall in the weighting of Hall of Fame worthiness? My guess? It’s somewhere after being one of the top 5 home run hitters ever (more later). I would argue that Concepcion gets TOO MUCH HOF recognition because of the talent of the Big Red Machine. If he played for the Royals, no one would give a shit. Playing on the Reds didn’t seem to hurt the prototypical marginal Hall of Famer Tony Perez.

He hasn't come close to being enshrined, though, because the intangibles he adds to his statistics never have been seen as enough to gain the support.

Right, why are they?

Oh, you're done, thanks.

He'll get at least one more vote in his final year of consideration by veteran members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Others who will get at least one vote:

Here Ringolsby starts with Blyleven and Gossage with some commentary. I have no problem with those picks or his reasoning (though he’s pretty brief).

* Jack Morris led pitchers in victories in the 1980s, made 515 consecutive starts, which was a record until Roger Clemens broke it in 2001, and is tied for second all time with 14 Opening Day starts, two shy of Tom Seaver.

Sooooo, did the guy pitch at a HOF level? I have no friggin’ idea based on these numbers. Opening day starts is the stupidest stat ever cited for a HOF argument, and the fact is that it is ALWAYS cited to support Morris, which shows you how weak his case is when you actually look at the numbers and take your head away from the awesomest game of all awesome games that he pitched in the 1991 World Series. See the FJM link above for Morris-opening day talk. It is, in my opinion, the worst number ever thrown out to support someone’s HOF worthiness. Most wins of the 1980’s is an obvious function of timing (if you care about wins, I don’t value pitcher W/L record very much). Jack Morris did lead the 1980’s in wins, beating out Dave Stieb and Bob Welch. Guys like Seaver and Carlton died off in the 80’s and Clemens and Maddux just got started, so it’s an obvious function of timing and how good the Tigers were. Morris was a great pitcher in many respects, mostly with regards to his durability, but I'm not voting him in when I get my BBWAA vote in a couple of years (that's easy to get, right?).

* Lee Smith was replaced by Trevor Hoffman as the game's all-time saves leader, but the seven-time All-Star did have 13 consecutive seasons of 20-plus saves, including 10 of at least 30.

I don’t know what to make of these arguments, generally. Should I care about “saves”? The all-time record for saves in a season is held by Bobby Thigpen. Smith did have longevity, but personally I think a closer needs to be absolutely dominant to be a Hall of Famer (Rivera/Eckersley level), because it’s just not that hard of a position to put up good numbers at (compared to starters, for instance) with respect to saves and ERA. I’m not sure Lee Smith is that guy. Are we going to throw John Franco in the Hall of Fame? He pitched slightly more innings with a better ERA+. No he wasn’t as good, but still… Smith will become a slippery slope. Am I watching a future Hall of Famer when Francisco Cordero takes the mound? I’m inclined to leave him out.

Ringolsby then notes Alan Trammel, who I support.

Can't get caught up in the Jim Rice bandwagon. Can't say that his offensive stats are lights out better than Andre Dawson and Dale Murphy, but while Dawson and Murphy were Gold Glove outfielders, Rice was a designated hitter who survived at times in left field at Fenway Park.

Rice, like lefty Tommy John, are both in their 14th year on the ballot, meaning they make it this year or next or wind up relying on the Veterans Committee for any chance of enshrinement.

I think leaving Rice off (and Dawson and Murphy) is the right thing to do, but “survived at times” is a bit harsh. He wasn’t good, but he wasn’t flat-terrible. He played 75% of his games in the field, and the only reason he was the DH on the early Red Sox teams was because they were trotting out an OF of Carl Yastrzemski, Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans….who were all, like, awesome fielders. True, Rice shouldn’t get credit for playing the field when Yaz was, but I have a hard time holding it against him too.

I guess Ringolsby is saying that Dawson and Murphy aren't HOFers, and they hit pretty well in comparison to Rice (agreed), but they were better fielders too.

No Mark McGwire, either, but it has nothing to do with questions about performance-enhancing drugs. He was a dramatic power hitter, but a Hall of Famer needs to have total greatness.

This is where Ringolsby just loses all credibility with me. Bull-fucking-shit. If you’re taking PED’s out of the question, you're telling me that McGwire isn’t a hall of famer – check out Rob Neyer’s take about a year ago here (insider only). Let’s pretend that that “steroid era” never happened, is he not saying that McGwire doesn’t get his vote? But Dave Concepcion does?

Here’s an excerpt of two paragraphs from Neyer:

If by "one-dimensional" you mean "all he did was hit home runs," then no, that's not precisely true. McGwire drew more than 1,300 walks, and eight times he ranked among the top 10 in walks in his league. He didn't strike out particularly often. He never led his league in strikeouts, and finished in the top (i.e., bottom) 10 only twice. McGwire was not the all-or-nothing slugger we might see in our mind's eye. Yes, he batted .201 in 1991, his worst season, and .187 in 2001, his last season. He also batted .289 as a rookie in 1987, .312 in 1996 and .305 in 2000. McGwire's .263 career batting average was dead-on with his leagues' averages (one of which includes pitchers hitting, obviously, but still ...).

And his summary:

McGwire was, in one sense, a one-dimensional player. All he did was hit. But you know, he really hit. Maybe you don't believe one-dimensional players belong in the Hall of Fame, and if so, you're not by yourself. But that standard has never been applied. Hank Greenberg was a one-dimensional player, and so was Bill Mazeroski. If you're good enough at your one dimension, you're in. And so if we're looking purely at performance on the field, there simply isn't any real precedent for keeping a player like Mark McGwire out of Cooperstown.

His defense was OK, at best, and it's interesting that, according to Baseball Reference, the most similar players statistically to McGwire are Jim Thome, Jose Canseco and Carlos Delgado, none of whom have Cooperstown on their horizon.

It’s interesting that you’ve completely bastardized the baseballreference list to support your case. Let’s look at the FULL list.

Jim Thome (826) - Will get some Hall support
Jose Canseco(808)
Carlos Delgado (803)
Harmon Killebrew(783) – Hall of Famer
Willie McCovey (767) – Hall of Famer
Jason Giambi (756)
Juan Gonzalez (739)
Norm Cash (736)
Dave Kingman (732) - career .302 OBP, McGwire was .394 - that's such a difference that it makes me give this "comparable players" thing like little credibility.
Manny Ramirez (730) – Future Hall of Famer, though I'm surprised that McGwire would compare that favorably to him.

Also, Jim Thome has over 500 homeruns and a lifetime OBP over .400. I think there will be some serious Thome consideration given when it comes to Hall of Fame voting – mostly depending on how the current era's Hall voting shakes out. Thome's baseball reference comps include Manny Ramirez, Willie Stargell, Duke Snider, Frank Thomas and McGwire.

Back to McGwire, let’s do a quick rundown:

Career SLG %: .5882. Ninth all-time.
Career HR: 583. 8th all-time.
Career OPS: .9823. 11th all-time.
AB per HR: 10.6 to 1. 1st all time.

McGwire is one of the 5 most prolific homerun hitters in the history of baseball. If you take the convenient stance of ignoring PED's, he's in.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Speaking of grammar rodeos...why would our National Grammar Rodeo be held in CANADA?