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six-hopper

Lowering the bar for the Hall of Fame

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Somewhat related Bill James once observed that if you took a couple of wins from Jim Kaat mediocre seasons across his career and applied the same number of wins to his 16, 17, and 18 win seasons, such that his career win total remained unchanged, but his 20 win seasons grow from three to six or seven, he would be in the Hall, no question, without delivering any more career value.

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19 minutes ago, Mr. Bigglesworth said:

Somewhat related Bill James once observed that if you took a couple of wins from Jim Kaat mediocre seasons across his career and applied the same number of wins to his 16, 17, and 18 win seasons, such that his career win total remained unchanged, but his 20 win seasons grow from three to six or seven, he would be in the Hall, no question, without delivering any more career value.

I take issue with the career value part. Sure the WAR probably doesn't change. But if I add two wins to his whatever year does that get Baltimore into the playoffs? 

If something like that changes that would seem to have "more career value," despite looking the same in a book 20 years later.

That's the part that analytics fails to account for. The human/emotional/not every season is the same aspect of the game. 

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In the seasons being discussed, the only season in which the Twins would have made the post-season had he more wins was if he went from 16 to 20 wins in 1967.

Having seven 20 win seasons means a lot more to making the Hall than making a World Series some 20 years before he is up for election.  James' comment had to do with the selection process of the Hall rather than making a value judgment about whether his team would have benefitted.

One thing analytics is sure about is Jim Kaat never played a regular season or post season game for the Orioles.

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3 minutes ago, Mr. Bigglesworth said:

 

Having seven 20 win seasons means a lot more to making the Hall than making a World Series some 20 years before he is up for election.

I'm not so sure. Those playoff appearance, and how one does, usually plays a part in the discussion. 

But, my point was more in this idea that you can just move things around in someone's career without impacting their "value." If he made the playoffs 7 times instead of 5, that sure as **** seems a lot more valuable to me. 

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You are missing the larger point James was making.

That written, I am sure Baltimore would have loved to make the post-season 7 times with Jim Kaat.

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10 minutes ago, Keepleyland2 said:

I'm not so sure. Those playoff appearance, and how one does, usually plays a part in the discussion. 

But, my point was more in this idea that you can just move things around in someone's career without impacting their "value." If he made the playoffs 7 times instead of 5, that sure as **** seems a lot more valuable to me. 

I would argue there is one season that Kaat's team would make the post-season if his win total was bumped up to 20 and there is one season where his team made the post season at the tail end of his career where they might not have, had he fewer wins that season.  It works both ways.

Also, Kaat's teams only made the post-season 4 times in his career, not 5.

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12 minutes ago, Mr. Bigglesworth said:

I would argue there is one season that Kaat's team would make the post-season if his win total was bumped up to 20 and there is one season where his team made the post season at the tail end of his career where they might not have, had he fewer wins that season.  It works both ways.

Also, Kaat's teams only made the post-season 4 times in his career, not 5.

I was just pulling numbers out of my tail and speaking in generalities about my problem with the concept. 

(numbers made up and just to show a point, I'm not looking up all of JIm Palmer's or Jim Kaats or Slim Jim's seasons for an exact point. You can substitute whatever name and years you want for the following example)

And I got the point, Bill James was making. If we take two wins form 1962 and give them to 1964 it makes Jim Kaat look better because he has 9 20 win seasons than 8. 

All while not changing his win totals for his career or his WAR therefore his value. 

But, I take exception to that idea. Because a win here or there might have changed the result of the 1964 season. If he wins another award, if his team wins another WS you better damn well believe that changes someone's value. 

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Kaat seems to fall into the "Hall of Very Good" category along with guys like Mickey Lolich, Frank Tanana, David Cone, Chuck Finley, Dennis Martinez, etc.  True, voters are electing more candidates to the Hall of Fame in recent years, and yes, several borderline candidates have gotten in (Sutter, Rice, etc.), but I feel there are still more borderline guys from past eras.  Now one could easily make the argument that with fewer total players at that time, guys with less impressive stats now looked much better (Eppa Rixey, Arky Vaughan, etc.) than they do now.  Even so, the veteran's committe (mentioned before) has definitely been the source of lots of borderline guys, especially when Frankie Frisch was running it and putting in all his teammates, poker buddies, mail men, etc.

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Bill James made that point about the Veterans Comittee:  that at least for a time, its principal criterion for putting a guy in  seemed to be whether he had been a drinking buddy of some of the members. 

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2 hours ago, Keepleyland2 said:

But, I take exception to that idea. Because a win here or there might have changed the result of the 1964 season. If he wins another award, if his team wins another WS you better damn well believe that changes someone's value. 

Just because a win here or a win there *might* change the pennant result doesn't mean it necessarily would.

A decent number of pennant races end up being won by say 5 games.  An extra win or loss doesn't matter in that environment.

Then there is the issue that just because a pitcher wins an extra game or two does not necessarily mean the team won an extra game or two.  It is possible that a starting pitcher took a no decision in a game the team ultimately won late.  We win a game 4-2.  Does it really matter in a macro sense if the 4 runs came in the first inning as opposed to the eighth?  The former gets the starting pitcher the win, the latter gives it to a reliever.  Either way the team wins whether the starting pitcher gets the win or not.

I also have a hard time buying making an extra post-season over a twenty year career matters to the voters.  Practically everyone seriously considered has made the post-season between say 3 times to 10 times, primarily depending on the team(s) they played on.

I don't think being a World Series champ at the end of his career significantly helped Jim Kaat's case, nor do I think making it to the World Series the mid 60's when he was a key player helped him much.  The primary reason being that most guys considered were on a World Series team or two and made the post-season a few other times.  It just isn't that notable since the play-off expansion.

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2 hours ago, Mr. Bigglesworth said:

IIRC, those members notably being Frankie Frisch and Warren Giles.

Bill James has certainly criticized Frankie Frisch for his shameless (shameful?) promotion of a bunch of his former teammates and buddies into the Hall of Fame.

Last year, in Bill James Online, Daniel Marks did an article describing Frisch's 1970s and 1980s shenanigans as "the low point of the Hall of Fame" or something like that.  The piece is titled May You Stay Forever Young(s).  

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Lots of guys in the HOF that should be in the Hall of Good Players...borderline guys

Jack Morris, Alan Trammell, Tim Raines, John Smoltz, Craig Biggio, Barry Larkin, Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Jim Rice, Rich Gossage, Bruce Sutter, Dennis Eckersley, Tony Perez, etc.

The last 15 years or so have been kind of messed up with the HOF, because the elite players of the 90s and early 2000s are not getting into the HOF because of steroids (except Ivan Rodriguez, Mike Piazza, and Jeff Bagwell).  So the Hall has had to put in inferior players just because they need to put somebody in there.

I guess you can make cases for most of these guys, but I tend to look at the hall of fame as being the elite players.  A lot of these guys were above average for a long time.  Other than a year here or there  Andre Dawson or Jim Rice were nice, solid players .  Rice had a great 3 year run in the late 70s, but then was just an above average player for a long time.  Dawson was always between 20 and 30 hrs, except for the year he hit 49.  He was a solid player, but one of the best ever...no.  John Smoltz was a solid to above average pitcher...he had one elite season but he also had a bunch of seasons where he was mediocre at best.  He only received cy young votes 5 times in 21 years.  Is that really a hall of famer...he just hung around a long time.  All these guys were good players, but I think only 1 or 2 people at most should make the HOF each year.  

Larry Walker will never make the Hall of Fame, but he had 7 seasons of OPS over 1.000.  Take Eddie Murray...he was a solid above average player who hung around and put up stats.  In 21 years, he never had an OPS over .950.  Same thing with Tony Perez...hung around a long time, put up nice stats, but in 23 years only had OPS above. 900 twice.  Todd Helton has zero chance of making the HOF, even though he was an absolute stud for 7 years in a row.  He has a .316 BA with a .953 OPS for his career.  No shot.  I guess I'm kind of confused as to what constitutes a HOFer.  Is it sticking around for 20 years and hitting .278 with 22 home runs a year?  Or is it a guy like Todd Helton, who just mashed for 7 years in a row but didn't have the longevity?  The hall seems to like the Tony Perez type of player...slow and steady and above average for a long time over the guy who dominates for a 5 to 7 year period and are just better than anyone else over that time period.

 

 

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Performing at a high level for an extended time is it's own form of elite activity.   

I tend to support people like Kaat - the were darned good and reliably so for a long time.

 

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16 minutes ago, gmoney said:

I guess I'm kind of confused as to what constitutes a HOFer.  Is it sticking around for 20 years and hitting .278 with 22 home runs a year?  Or is it a guy like Todd Helton, who just mashed for 7 years in a row but didn't have the longevity?

Yes, and Yes. There is no right answer to the question. The question is whose careers had impact. It could be for either reason. Nolan Ryan certainly had impact on the game, but there are hundreds of guys who didn't make the Hall who I would rather have on my staff if I were building a team to win a WS, but I think Nolan absolutely should be in the Hall. On the opposite side you have Sandy Koufax - a Roman candle of a career compared to Ryan but he too absolutely should be in the Hall. His dominance may have been brief but it was still rare by it's intensity.

I think getting completely hung up in measurements misses the point of why they set the hall up as an election. Numbers will never capture everything there is to anything, and even if they did, people would still have to argue about which ones are more important than others. (and I am a quantitative guy in real life)

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6 hours ago, gmoney said:

Lots of guys in the HOF that should be in the Hall of Good Players...borderline guys

Jack Morris, Alan Trammell, Tim Raines, John Smoltz, Craig Biggio, Barry Larkin, Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Jim Rice, Rich Gossage, Bruce Sutter, Dennis Eckersley, Tony Perez, etc.

Yeah, there are some relative turds in the punchbowl here (Morris, Rice, Dawson, Perez, Sutter), but most of these guys belong in the hall by any reasonable historical standard.

And every era has a bunch of guys who, in retrospect, probably didn't deserve to go in, or, at a minimum, weren't markedly better than another 10 guys who didn't get in. 

Plus this era has relievers to consider, which I am not a huge fan of, but Trevor Hoffman was going to get in independent of how I feel about it because saves is how relievers were evaluated.

6 hours ago, gmoney said:

I guess you can make cases for most of these guys, but I tend to look at the hall of fame as being the elite players. 

The problem with that logic is that the Hall has a very long history of selecting guys who do not meet your standard.

At some point the hall cannot be something which it never was.  The standard has never been DiMaggio, Mays, Williams, Ruth or Cobb.  It has always been much lower than that.

6 hours ago, gmoney said:

Larry Walker will never make the Hall of Fame, but he had 7 seasons of OPS over 1.000.  Take Eddie Murray...he was a solid above average player who hung around and put up stats.  In 21 years, he never had an OPS over .950.  

Larry Walker also put up those numbers in the most hitter friendly park during one of the highest scoring environments in the history of the game.

I like Larry Walker a lot.  I think he belongs in the hall and am not sure why he isn't more prevalent in the discussion.

But Eddie Murray did a lot more than just hang around, and you can make your argument for Walker without trying to denigrate Eddie, who belongs in the hall.

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No serious baseball fan would argue that Eddie Murray is a merely borderline Hall of Famer.

The guy kicked *ss right from the rookie season and never had a below average year until he was 38, and then he had yet another kickass season at age 39, well past reasonable expectations for him to have another one at all. They didn’t call him “Steady Eddie” just because it rhymed. He had 3,255 hits, almost as many as Willie Mays, and has over 500 homers to boot. In fact, after Mays and Aaron, he was only the third player in history to attain 3,000+ hits and 500+ homers. The only reason he’s under 70 WAR is because he was a sh*te defender, but since the Hall of Fame is at least 90% about the hitting, that hardly matters. Eddie Murray is way, way better than a borderline Hall of Famer, which is why he went in first ballot with the most votes that year.

The writers don’t always get it right, of course, but they sure didn’t get that one wrong.

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On 7/15/2018 at 4:56 PM, holygoat said:

Freehan is the Tiger not currently in the HoF that is most deserving of it.

If Bill played for the Yankees he would definitely be in the Hall of Fame. He was also an 11-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner. 

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8 hours ago, IdahoBert said:

If Bill played for the Yankees he would definitely be in the Hall of Fame. He was also an 11-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner. 

Or alternately if Johny Bench had not burst onto the scene in the middle of his career. I think it's bad logic, but there is a natural tendency for HOF voters to raise the bar for other players when a once in a millennia player happens onto the scene. 

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On 7/17/2018 at 12:32 AM, chasfh said:

No serious baseball fan would argue that Eddie Murray is a merely borderline Hall of Famer.

The guy kicked *ss right from the rookie season and never had a below average year until he was 38, and then he had yet another kickass season at age 39, well past reasonable expectations for him to have another one at all. They didn’t call him “Steady Eddie” just because it rhymed. He had 3,255 hits, almost as many as Willie Mays, and has over 500 homers to boot. In fact, after Mays and Aaron, he was only the third player in history to attain 3,000+ hits and 500+ homers. The only reason he’s under 70 WAR is because he was a sh*te defender, but since the Hall of Fame is at least 90% about the hitting, that hardly matters. Eddie Murray is way, way better than a borderline Hall of Famer, which is why he went in first ballot with the most votes that year.

The writers don’t always get it right, of course, but they sure didn’t get that one wrong.

QFT

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38 minutes ago, Gehringer_2 said:

Or alternately if Johny Bench had not burst onto the scene in the middle of his career. I think it's bad logic, but there is a natural tendency for HOF voters to raise the bar for other players when a once in a millennia player happens onto the scene. 

That's a good point and you can use Trammell was another point.  When his time for the HOF came around you had ARod, Jeter, Nomar, and also a Miguel Tajada changing what SS was about while Tram is on the ballot..

Also throw in his peer Ripken who was the one that redefined the position. Sure, Yount to a lesser extent but he also played half his career in CF.

 

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On 7/16/2018 at 10:51 PM, Mr. Bigglesworth said:

Yeah, there are some relative turds in the punchbowl here (Morris, Rice, Dawson, Perez, Sutter), but most of these guys belong in the hall by any reasonable historical standard.

And every era has a bunch of guys who, in retrospect, probably didn't deserve to go in, or, at a minimum, weren't markedly better than another 10 guys who didn't get in. 

Plus this era has relievers to consider, which I am not a huge fan of, but Trevor Hoffman was going to get in independent of how I feel about it because saves is how relievers were evaluated.

The problem with that logic is that the Hall has a very long history of selecting guys who do not meet your standard.

At some point the hall cannot be something which it never was.  The standard has never been DiMaggio, Mays, Williams, Ruth or Cobb.  It has always been much lower than that.

Larry Walker also put up those numbers in the most hitter friendly park during one of the highest scoring environments in the history of the game.

I like Larry Walker a lot.  I think he belongs in the hall and am not sure why he isn't more prevalent in the discussion.

But Eddie Murray did a lot more than just hang around, and you can make your argument for Walker without trying to denigrate Eddie, who belongs in the hall.

Larry Walker's Home and Away splits while he was with the Rockies are staggering.  For his whole career, which of course includes his non-Coors years, there is an OPS difference of more than 200 points and a Batting Average difference of 70 points. (For OPS, 1.068 at home, .865 on the road; and for BA, .348 at home and .278 on the road.)  And much of that difference is attributable to his seasons in Colorado. 

Here are his Home/Away OPS and Batting Averages for his seasons in Denver:

1995:  1.131/.845 ;  .343/.268

1996:  1.248/.523 (not a misprint) ; .393/.142

1997:  1.169/1.176 ;  .384/.346

1998:  1.241/.892 ; .418/.302

1999:  1.410/.894 ; .461/.286

2000:  1.062/.770 ; .359/.259

2001:  1.256/.965 ;  .406/.293

2002:  1.124/.917 ;  .362/.312

2003:  1.021/.766 ;  .338/.227

 

So with the exception of the anomalous 1997, there was an enormous difference between his Home and Away numbers in every season.  I think that those splits -- combined with Walker's relatively modest counting stats compared to those of many Hall of Fame outfielders -- would give any voter pause when thinking about him as a Hall of Fame candidate.

There are guys in the Hall of Fame who are less deserving of the honor than Larry Walker.  But I think that there are also a fair number of guys who are more deserving than he is who are still out in the cold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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28 minutes ago, six-hopper said:

Larry Walker's Home and Away splits while he was with the Rockies are staggering.  For his whole career, which of course includes his non-Coors years, there is an OPS difference of more than 200 points and a Batting Average difference of 70 points. (For OPS, 1.068 at home, .865 on the road; and for BA, .348 at home and .278 on the road.)  And much of that difference is attributable to his seasons in Colorado. 

Here are his Home/Away OPS and Batting Averages for his seasons in Denver:

1995:  1.131/.845 ;  .343/.268

1996:  1.248/.523 (not a misprint) ; .393/.142

1997:  1.169/1.176 ;  .384/.346

1998:  1.241/.892 ; .418/.302

1999:  1.410/.894 ; .461/.286

2000:  1.062/.770 ; .359/.259

2001:  1.256/.965 ;  .406/.293

2002:  1.124/.917 ;  .362/.312

2003:  1.021/.766 ;  .338/.227

 

So with the exception of the anomalous 1997, there was an enormous difference between his Home and Away numbers in every season.  I think that those splits -- combined with Walker's relatively modest counting stats compared to those of many Hall of Fame outfielders -- would give any voter pause when thinking about him as a Hall of Fame candidate.

There are guys in the Hall of Fame who are less deserving of the honor than Larry Walker.  But I think that there are also a fair number of guys who are more deserving than he is who are still out in the cold.

I can see why it's tempting to focus on Larry Walker's 1996 road OPS of .523, because it really appears to strengthen the case against his Hall chances. Myself, I think it's unfair to weigh heavily on that one number, achieved in an injury year during which he got only 139 trips to the plate on the road, to cancel out the .845, .892, .894, .917, .965, and 1.176 (!) road OPS figures he got in six other seasons he spent with the Rocks. Any big leaguer can have a run of 140 unproductive plate trips, and my opinion is that, had he played a full season with 300+ plate trips on the road, as he did in 1997 (1.176 road OPS) and 2001 (.965 road OPS), he would have pulled that OPS up a lot closer to career norms.

Looking at this particular question from a different angle, here are Walker's road split OPS+ figures for his years with the Rockies:

Season PA sOPS+
1995 285 127
1996 139 39
1997 314 213
1998 253 141
1999 240 131
2000 186 103
2001 303 158
2002 266 149
2003 270 109

(Split OPS+ is a player's OPS+ for a split relative to the league's overall OPS+ for that split.)

Yeah, that 1996 is still sticking out like a sore thumb. But when you calculate the average of all of Larry Walker's split OPS+ figures, weighted to plate appearances by year, you come up with a split OPs+ of 138. That not his overall career OPS+, and it's not his road OPS+ for his entire career. That's his road OPS+ just for his Colorado years.

An OPS+ of 138 is really pretty good, especially on the road. To put this number into proper context, here are some of the players who had a total career OPS+ of less than 138:

  • Chuck Klein (137)
  • Ken Griffey Jr (136)
  • George Brett (135)
  • Billy Williams (133)
  • Tony Gwynn (132)
  • Joe Morgan (132)
  • Rod Carew (131)
  • Wade Boggs (131)
  • Dave Winfield (130)
  • Carl Yastrzemski (130)

These are all guys who went into the Hall of Fame specifically because of their hitting, and their overall career OPS+ are all lower than Larry Walker's road OPS+ just for his years in Colorado.

And this is even before we contemplate Larry Walker's road OPS+ during his Montreal or St. Louis years, or his home OPS+ during any of his years.

So my question now is: beyond the Colorado-years road OPS argument, are there any other reasons to keep Larry Walker, a player with a lifetime WAR of 73 and a lifetime WAA of 48, out of the Hall of Fame?

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I have not read all the thread and this may have already been brought up, but I think the HOF needs a 'Best of' or Top 5 or 10 per position all time' type elevation.

Having the 'barely made it guys' next to first ballot guys feels wrong for some reason.  I do not think first ballot distinguishes the best of the best enough.

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5 minutes ago, John_Brian_K said:

I have not read all the thread and this may have already been brought up, but I think the HOF needs a 'Best of' or Top 5 or 10 per position all time' type elevation.

Having the 'barely made it guys' next to first ballot guys feels wrong for some reason.  I do not think first ballot distinguishes the best of the best enough.

It's kind of a fools errand though JB. No matter where you draw another line, there will be arguments about who belongs over *that* line. Of course, TBH, I think that the arguments over the lines and who is on which side is half the point of having a HOF.

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