Saturday, January 10, 2009

Some Hall of Fame Talk

Phil Arvia has posted his Hall of Fame ballot here. While I’m not going to just post/critique columns that support guys that I don’t support, I am particularly interested for the logic that drives the voter’s actions. Which is why, to me, Arvia’s support for Harold Baines was interesting:

Harold Baines: When he retired, he was the greatest DH ever. He didn't invent the position, he just defined it.

First…when he retired how many players were there that were best known for being DHs?

Next, let’s be clear here; the position that Baines defined was the position of….not having a mother fucking position. If the best thing for your team is for you to not own a glove, then to me your bat better be a lot better than Harold Baines’ was to achieve baseball’s supposedly highest honor. This is a nonsensical reason for voting for someone.

Let’s review what Harold Baines did well. It wasn’t fielding, because he DH’d most of the time. Speed? Try 34 career stolen bases. Power? He never hit at least 30 homers in a season. Average? .289 career…..313 was his highest single season average. He must have walked a lot you say? Never more than 73 times in a season. You want traditional crappy stats like RBI and Runs? He topped 100 RBI 3 times with a high of 113. His career high in Runs is 89.

Now, to me, a player in Baines’ era should have a nice run of years with numbers close to .313/29/113/89 w/ 73 BBs to be consider in the Hall discussion. That’s pretty much what you’re looking at with more heavily debated guys like Rice, Parker, Murphy and Dawson. THOSE WERE HIS SINGLE SEASON HIGHS! Their run of peak years destroy those of Baines. Baines had a couple of very good years, and was a consistent, good hitter.

Now, Joe Capozzi published his ballot this week as well. He employed the “if player X has better counting totals than player Y, then how can you leave player X out!” strategy in supporting Andre Dawson. This can be a somewhat useful tool using players who played roughly the same amount of time in similar positions and especially in the same era. Who does Joe compare Andre Dawson to?

Joe Dimaggio.

Sounds like a good comparison, right?

But I'm bothered by the prospect of excluding someone like Andre Dawson, who played on bad knees for struggling teams and still had more hits (2,774), more home runs (438) and more RBI (1,591) than Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio (2,214, 361, 1,537).

Let me say this very slowly.

A writer is making an argument for Andre Dawson by linking his name, via a comparison, to a sure-fire no-brainer all-time great like Joe Dimaggio.

He has cherry picked Dimaggio because Dawson’s counting stats were better.

Joe Dimaggio played for 13 seasons. He played in 1,736 games. He missed 3 prime years due to war service.

Andre Dawson played in 21 seasons, logging 2,627 games.

So. That doesn’t look right, does it?

In 891 more games, Dawson had 560 more hits, 77 more home runs, and 54 more RBI (using Joe’s stats), than Dimaggio. At the rate that Dimaggio had at-bats/game, had he played as many games as Dawson he would have needed to hit .160 in his next 891 games to have as many hits as Dawson. To catch Dawson in HR’s he could have lowered his HR run rate from once every 18 at-bats to once every 46 at-bats. So if Joe Dimaggio had gone from being Joe Dimaggio over his first 1,736 games and then turned into one of the worst hitters in MLB history over his next 891 games, he would had roughly the same counting totals as Dawson.

Do we all see the danger with counting stats and comparables now?

I guess one thing you could say is that Dawson seemed to keep pace with Dimaggio when it came to getting hits. But you know the problem with that right? Dawson never walked. Dimaggio had a career OBP of .398 (OPS+ of 155). Dawson comes in at paltry .323 and an underwhelming OPS+ 119. I think Joe Posnanski recently said every OF in the HOF has an OBP at least 20 points higher than Dawson.

And I don’t want to hear about how no one cared about walks in the 80’s. Walk rates have been virtually the same for decades.

1 comment:

Fred Trigger said...

how come you dont post anymore? I enjoyed reading your blog when it was running.