By In Baseball, Hall of Fame

A Hall of Fame Day

Wow, I’ll be posting a lot of Hall of Fame links here today.

— In written form, I go down the Hall of Fame ballot player by player. Here’s Part I.

Why I vote for Bonds and Clemens

A video: I’m guessing but 2016 might be the year when the Hall of Fame started to make its peace with the steroid era.

More to come this afternoon including Hall of Fame Ballot, Part II, and I’ll be putting up a link for that live Facebook Q&A that will start at 8 p.m. tonight.

62 Responses to A Hall of Fame Day

  1. Owen says:

    Hooray! I only wish I could be available for the Q&A.

  2. Curtis says:

    Thanks, Joe. One of the ways PED’s continues to wreak havoc is that half of those spaces on your ballot are being taken by players who would have been in years ago but for PED’s use or suspicion of same. I think Mike Mussina is being kept out of the hall of fame because of PED’s.

    We need to get them in or off the ballot to clear this backlog.

    On the other hand, Gordon!!!!! So it is a good day for me no matter what the voters say about the hall.

    • SDG says:

      Yeah, but all the backlogged players will get in eventually, even if it takes them a few go-rounds. Or they have to wait for the whatever-we’re-calling-the-Veterans-Committee now. But we probably won’t. Something is going to break the seal on players whop used PEDs (for whom the suspicion is more than bacne) and then it will be a flood.

      Can someone explain to me why Clemens was a percentage point higher than Bonds in the HOF voting? I know Joe said elsewhere that he believed that they’d get the same amount of votes, because (a) they’re both by consensus among the best players ever at pitching or hitting, and (b) steroids. So why would someone vote for Clemens and not Bonds?

      I mean, I have a theory as to why. We ALL have that theory as to why. But because I’m an optimist who believes people are basically good, I’m wondering if there are any other reasons.

  3. Darrel says:

    I would like to Joe to get off of his hypocritical high horse on this one. I was one of the few(I assume) to listen to the entire 2 part poscast. Near the end of part 2 Joe says he can’t vote for Larry Walker because the ballpark he played in, through no fault of his own, inflated his numbers artificially. Earlier of course he says he will vote in all of those who intentionally violated state and federal law and the rules of nature and baseball by injecting themselves with substances that artificially inflated their numbers. These players, in essence, turned every ballpark they played in to Coors Field. So when Joe talks about hypocrisy here I would suggest he start with a look in his very own mirror.

    • invitro says:

      Hear, hear.

    • Ian says:

      Good point.

    • jposnanski says:

      Gotta break my own rule and step in here: I absolutely did not say I can’t vote for Larry Walker because of the ballpark he played in. I said I would have voted for Walker but he came up No. 11 in a 10-man ballot and that he fell to 11 because his career was a bit too short. So, yeah, I’m throwing the yellow flag on that one.

      • Interesting. Larry Walker played 16 years, not counting his partial rookie year. How long do careers have to be for you to consider them HOF worthy?

        • Mr. Fresh says:

          How clear does Joe have to be?!?! He said he came up 11th on a 10 man ballot. He point blank said he IS hall worthy.

        • Ed says:

          Joe didn’t mean his career wasn’t long enough in terms of years played; he meant in terms of GAMES played. Larry Walker played for 16 years, yeah… but he was injured in the vast majority of those seasons. He had three seasons where he didn’t even make it to 90 games, and many more where he was only in the 130s.

        • Ian R. says:

          He’s not saying Walker’s career isn’t Hall-worthy. He’s saying that, because of his short career, he’s somewhat less Hall-worthy than 10 of the other players on a loaded ballot.

    • BobDD says:

      I also listened to both parts of the pozcast and heard him make the case pro-Walker, not anti as you say. Darrel, you could have disagreed with Joe if you wanted to – happens often enough and is freely allowed here – but instead you decided to impugn his motives. Not mere disagreement but hypocrisy is your cry. In my view, unnecessary and disgusting.

      • Darrel says:

        Having listened again I would say I overstated but not impugned. It was made very clear by Joe despite his earlier reply here that he has downgraded if not disregarded Walker due to the Coors effect. In essence he does not believe Walker was as good a player as his numbers show due to his playing environment. This is an argument I can get behind and is a valid one for not voting for Walker. I think without that adjustment however there is no argument against Walker as a HoF. His raw offensive totals, particularly that slash line, added to his D and baserunning put him clearly above the cut line. What I don’t understand is how you can make that mental adjustment but not do the same for all the PED guys. Either the numbers are the numbers no matter how you got there or they aren’t and context(ballpark or PED’s) must be considered equally.

        • BobDD says:

          Ahh, logic – and you’re so good at it. Lovely. If, a rather big IF btw, ballpark and PEDs are and can be treated as mere effects/context, the first problem is the difference that ballpark effects can be measured with the desirable large sample sizes, while measuring PEDs effects is guess work. Fair? So if you decide to do that you end up making dual arguments (as Joe and you and I happen to already do); the statistical arguments backed up with reams of delicious exotic yummy stats, and then a separate moral argument that opens one up to accusations of moral preening or hypocrisy. Well that is what I think we in fact have now.

          What I got from the Pozcast (and this blog too) is that Joe is saying that the stain is there and will be forever and while that may not be a big enough penalty, the next penalty option is the HoF death penalty. If there are some reasonable and doable midpoint options, please lay ’em out there. But if not, then we choose one and apply it as we think is fairest.

          Keep Roger out because half of his career cannot be as accurately measured – is suspect but we cannot agree how much – or put him in because he is one of the all-time greats who is actually in the discussion for greatest pitcher ever.

          If it were just the amount of PED effects this is what our argument would look like: what adjustment do we make to the stats in the latter parts of Barry’s and Roger’s careers? But since the discussion is whether to put them in the Hall or not, then I naturally assume the detractors see it as either/or and I have chosen the side of ‘the bastards deserve the ridicule and disgust we all give them to various degrees’ but also they deserve imho enshrinement. YMMV.

          • J Hench says:

            One of the reasons for so many of the poor Hall choices was the inability to judge players in the context of their eras. Chick Hafey hit over .300 in 7 seasons? Including over .325 in 6? No one hits like that nowadays (or in the late 60s early 70s); sure, put him in!

            Jim Wynn never hit better than .275? That’s not a HOFer! (not that I’m suggesting Wynn should definitely be in, but he’s a heckuva lot better choice that Chick Hafey),

            The context of the current crop of candidates is really difficult to judge, for at least 3 reasons:

            1) An overlap in eras: the difference between the 80s and mid-to-late 90s was stark. Everyone knows this. But it’s hard to look at Alan Trammell and not compare him to the next crop of SS superstars from the 90s, or to look at Tim Raines and not compare him unfavorably to, I don’t know, Ray Lankford. Fred McGriff is the poster-child for this, especially since he actually spent a lot of his career in the higher offense era,

            2) Park effects: Not only did Coors come on the scene in the mid-90s, but so did Enron, BankOne, Turner Stadium, Camden Yards, Comiskey II, etc. These parks tended to be hitters parks – if I recall correctly, Wrigley Field went from being one of the best hitters parks in the majors to roughly neutral in the span of 3 years. This (and expansion) helped juice the 90s, but how much do you factor that for any one player. If you discount Larry Walker’s stats, do you then turn around and discount Mike Hampton’s really poor Coors stats too? To what extent (not enough to make Hampton a HOFer, clearly, but still).

            3) Most obviously, PEDs: If you believe a guy wasn’t using, do you give him extra credit over those you believe were “yeah, McGriff only hit 32 HR in 1999 when Sammy Sosa was hitting twice that many, but really, McGriff’s year was better, because . . .”

            For all the work that sabermetrics has done to try putting things in a context neutral environment, it is something that is really hard to judge when looking at a particular player and comparing him to his almost peers. I think it’s wreaked havoc on players from both generations – the players from the 80s look worse by comparison and the players from the 90s are assumed to have juiced or just look normal – everyone was hitting 40 a year, so 600 HR? No big deal.

          • @JHench: just to pick on one point, Turner Field (not Stadium) is absolutely not a hitters park.

        • Brett Alan says:

          Given that Joe has Walker ahead of Sosa and McGwire, I’d say he IS adjusting the numbers the way you want him to. Clemens and Bonds have such incredible accomplishments that even if you make a huge adjustment for the PEDs, they’re among the all-time greats.

    • DJ MC says:

      We can measure the effect that Coors Field has on offensive numbers, both in terms of individual and team stats. Nobody has figured out a way to make a similar measurement of the effects of steroid/PED/greenie/monkey-testicle use.

      This means that any attempt to bring PED use into the debate is essentially a morality argument, and as Joe mentioned several times in his articles this year and many times over the years, you can’t do that with the Hall of Fame if you are being honest to the institution and the sport. In the end it’s the same as throwing out Cap Anson for being a racist or withholding votes from Curt Schilling because you dislike him as a person.

      • Darrel says:

        This argument against morality as a factor in voting is essentially based on the assumption that enshrinement is some kind of inalienable right. As in if player X does Y then he is owed a spot in the hall no matter what. I disagree. Why do HoF voters have to “be honest” to anything when the PED guys chose not to be. I believe the HoF is a massive honour that should be both earned and deserved. I don’t believe anyone is entitled to it.

        Cobb and Anson would likely not get voted in in today’s environment based on their behaviour. I personally think that’s OK. I know others do not and that’s fine too. If John Rocker had 600 saves how many votes would he have earned.

        • SDG says:

          But that’s just it. Cooperstown is designed to honour the best professional baseball players, not the pretty good players who do volunteer work and call their moms every day.

          Cap Anson deserves it based on his playing ability. So does Barry Bonds. The real problem lies with the owners and execs. If they didn’t drag their feet on dealing with players gambling, or the color line, or PEDs, and let the situations get completely out of control, and threaten to ruin the entire institution, we wouldn’t have to use the Hall as some sort of after the fact substitute for playing the game properly. The Hall is not supposed to be a placing body. The Commissioner and the front office are. Withholding a plaque is not the right way to clean up someone else’s mess.

          • Darrel says:

            I would say that your PERCEPTION of the Hall is to honour the best professional baseball players full stop. The actual guidelines mention integrity and sportsmanship. You may feel that is ridiculous and should not be the case but somewhere along the way the powers that be decided that a players statistics alone are not enough. The HoF isn’t about getting Sean Casey in because everybody loves him but it does say that if you are a lying, cheating, SOB then the voters should consider that in their deliberation. Furthermore Bonds, Clemens and the like knew that and chose to cheat anyway. We can choose to recognize their talents and numbers in the history of the game but do not have to celebrate the way they comported themselves as people and players.

          • duffy01 says:

            MLB did not drag their feet on PED. The players opposed testing. There is no way MLB could have gotten PED testing in before they did. They were having too much trouble getting the union to agree on a contract.

        • Uros says:

          its odd that Al Stumps work was proven to be fraudulent years ago yet nobody has caught on, including (based on him bringing up Cobb when talking about the “character clause”) Joe.

          Ty Cobb wasnt a virulent racist or a monster. Almost every atrocious act that Cobb was purported by Stump to have done either had sparse evidence or was blatantly false. Stump, to boot, forged a bunch of Cobb memorabilia and made a killing off it.

          Here, cleanse your palate

          • Rob Pollard says:

            Thanks for bringing that good book up. Joe brings up the myths around Ruth and Mantle, but (like most) doesn’t bring up the many myths that surround the personification of baseball evil, Ty Cobb was definitely flawed, but not in many of the ways the fabulist Al Stumpf promoted. I guess Cobb’s a useful bogeyman to have around.

        • DJ MC says:

          If Barry Bonds had the exact same career, but he was “just” a massive jackass to everyone instead of a massive jackass who was also a PED user, he would have been a first-ballot selection. Or, look at Gaylord Perry, who was a known, admitted, and unapologetic on-field cheat–he went into the Hall seventeen years AFTER he titled his book Me And The Spitter.

          The problem with using morality as a factor is that everyone has differing views on what is or isn’t moral, and everyone being judged is a flawed human being. It’s the Baseball Hall of Fame, not the Morality Hall of Fame.

          • duffy01 says:

            Gaylord Perry should not have been inducted into the HOF. That does not mean every prolific cheater who has outstanding numbers that comes after him should also be inducted.

  4. Ian says:

    I think Nomar and Tim Raines are an interesting example. Both had only 6 seasons of 4+ WAR (although all of Raines were above 5 while all of Nomar’s were above 6). Jack Morris and Keith Hernandez both had more.

    If you think Raines peak was enough, you really should think Nomar’s was enough. Sure, Raines kicked around a lot longer but he was never again a great player and some of his offensive decline was obscured by the massive uptick in offense in the 90s. There is no argument that Raines had more HOF caliber seasons than Nomar. He simply didn’t. So to vote for him and not vote for Nomar, you are saying you need 5 or 6 HOF seasons PLUS a bunch of non-HOF quality seasons.

    OR, you prefer players who compile certain statistical milestones in whatever stat you prefer (Wins, HR, WAR).

    • otistaylor89 says:

      I’m from Boston and love Nomar, but the next highest WAR other than the 6 above 5 was 2.5. The next after that? 1.3
      Tim Raines had 7 seasons between 2.5 and 5, plus 2 seasons that were affected by labor issues.

      • Ian says:

        Yeah, there’s no doubt Raines had a better middle career. But none of those seasons, to me, are HOF seasons (if you want to argue about 1981, fine). They were certainly good seasons. But it goes to the point of what a HOFer is – is it a guy who has a lot of good numbers or is it a guy with a lot of HOF caliber seasons? I think nearly everyone says they want #2 but really go for #1. We could also use Edmonds – he had more 5 WAR seasons than Raines and another 3 seasons in the 2.5-5 window.

        Basically, if we exclude Raines 83-87 seasons, what years would you argue made him a HOFer? Outside of that 5 year run, he doesn’t have much. He was still good, I’m not saying he sucked. But he wasn’t among the best players in baseball anymore. So he’s going into the HOF almost entirely b/c of those 5 years and many other players had better and/or longer peaks and aren’t in the HOF. Nomar, Keith Hernandez, Johan Santana, Chase Utley.

        • I was pulling up BBR during the podcast & looking at the players. You kind of have to look sideways at Raines numbers to make them fit a HOF case. Obviously, it’s borderline or he’d be in already & obviously he had an excellent career. But I don’t see why he’s the cause celebre. I see Alan Trammell as the one that is getting short shrift. Excellent offensively and defensively during a dead ball era.

        • Brett Alan says:

          Why does it have to be all broken down by year? I think all of this about how many years of such-and-such WAR each had is obfuscating. Nomar’s career bWAR is 44.2; Rock’s is 69.1. That’s a major difference.

          Not to mention Raines’ amazing stolen base %, as Joe talks about in his article.

  5. shagster says:

    Artificial numbers Joe. As real as a Bernie Madoff bank account. So why re-enable these charlatans by making them a star? What need is being satisfied here? NANANANANANANA – but yeah, LOOK AT THOSE NUMBERS – NANANANANA. The hall includes ALL OF IT, not the just parts we want to select. “But the Hall didn’t do it before.” So what? People didn’t know cigarettes were bad. Players DID know PEDS were bad. Clemens and Bonds weren’t standing out on the golf tee making PED ads. Which is why so many players didn’t choose. So, we’re now supposed to endorse the behavior; “those players who didn’t take were IDIOTS. They could have made SO MUCH MORE MONEY AND HAD HOF CAREERS.” Except that last bit isn’t true. Until you vote them in.

    I prefer to think we’ve all seen enough to realize the Hall isn’t for us. It can still celebrate the heros. Because Clemens and Bonds don’t go in doesn’t mean their story won’t be told (hello Shoeless … more famous out than in). Just BC some SoB is already in there, doesn’t mean we have to throw our garbage in there too. We’re caretakers, and can leave Hall a little better than we found it.

    Now the veterans committee wants to vote the wayward in? That’s their call. They know more than us about dark nights of self doubt, solitary bus rides, the calls up, the sends down. What that meant to players. families. Whose spot PEDS players took.

    Bonds? Clemens? They made their choices. Keep ’em out.

  6. meltingbridge says:

    I think Sheffield’s poor defense has too much of an effect on your ranking. His defensive WAR is much lower than the positional adjustment for playing DH. He’s just a victim of the NL’s insistence on not using a DH. If you give no penalty to Edgar Martinez beyond the positional adjustment, then you should also consider Sheffield as if he were a DH.

    • Kelvin says:

      Except that you can’t hypothetically imagine “what if” his defense didn’t hurt those games. They did. The reality is that his value is dropped significantly because he was out there not making plays that should have been made and thus costing his teams runs/wins. So for every 3 runs his bat provided, take one away for his defensive cost to the game.
      Your argument is solid for defending DHs place in the hall, because you can say: imagine if Shefield was a DH. Too bad he wasn’t.

      • J Hench says:

        Yes, except that Joe also made the argument that if Edgar had played in the National League, they would have found a place to play him in the field for his bat, and with his numbers, they would have put him in, even if he was an atrocious fielder (I believe Harmon Killebrew was the comp). That is, Joe made the “what if” Edgar’s defense would have hurt his team, and concluded he would likely still be a HOFer.

        To me, to then turn around and argue that Sheffield’s defense was so poor that it should keep him out of the Hall struck me as a bit of cognitive dissonance on Joe’s part. (I agree that Sheffield was the most ferocious hitter I ever saw – Ken Tremendous once made fun of Joe Morgan for stating the “fact” that Al Oliver hit the ball harder than anyone, but I can’t imagine anyone ever hit the ball harder than Sheff).

      • Meltingbridge says:

        I think that’s penalizing the player for the team’s strategic decision though. NL teams decided to play a DH in the field rather than trading him to a league where he would have been approximately 30 percent more valuable. Was Miguel Cabrera less valuable to the 2012 and 2013 Tigers because he was a horrendous 3rd baseman rather than an average 1st baseman?

          • I think the point was that the position choice wasn’t Cabrera’s. If his Manager decided to play him at third and deal with the consequences rather than putting him at first (because, of course, he already had Prince Fielder there), then Cabrera was valuable enough that they lived with his fielding…. and Cabrera deserves credit for being able to play the position at all. Otherwise Detroit had a problem. You’d have to DH either Fielder or Cabrera and send Delmon Young to the bench. And then you’d need to play a utility infielder at 3B, weakening the overall lineup. I give some credit to Cabrera for being able to play 3rd, a very tough position, albeit not that well. It strengthened the offensive lineup quite a bit. A lot of teams have to put sub average offensive players at 3B because not that many players can play the position. I know because I played firstbase and outfield. A few times I was played at 3rd. You have to play up near the base and right handed hitters really shell the ball at you. Often. Like several times a game. You feel like a goalie, except that you can’t drop the ball or deflect it in another direction (I played goalie too, btw). It’s not fun & the MLB level it’s even harder. Playing hockey goalie was a lot more fun. You had pads and a mask and you could just block everything. At 3B you can wear a cup (which you need) and be prepared for some bruises.

  7. Alejo says:

    Read the column.

    Amazing: you can be crooked because people before were as well.

    Fantastic finding in field of ethics.

    Just keep the low standard on Joe!

  8. Karyn says:

    It wasn’t against the rules when they did it.

  9. invitro says:

    Joe’s predictions for vote percentage are astonishingly accurate. I think Joe was on PED’s when he made those predictions.

  10. So, in the process of clearing a stacked ballot, I was hopeful of making some progress this year. Though some edged closer to inclusion, which is good, they still only elected two guys, one of which was a no brainer. (Really, both were).

    Next year adds Manny Ramirez, Vlad Guerrero, Ivan Rodriguez and Jorge Posada. A couple of more steroids guys to chew on (great) and too many guys to vote for with a limit of 10. 2018 will add Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Scott Roland. 2019 brings Omar Vizquel, Roy Halladay, Todd Helton, Andy Pettite, Mariano Rivera.

    The ballot’s going to be a mess for several years.

  11. joe5348 says:

    Why is the character clause only used to exclude, but not to include. If character counts for much, shouldn’t Minoso, Quisenberry and Miguel Bautista be in?

    • Ian says:

      Yeah, I figured McGriff should go in. If you think he was clean (and everyone does), shouldn’t he get a second look. He also had more 4 WAR seasons than Raines, for example.

  12. Mark says:

    Larry Walker, as other have mentioned, is a very interesting case. People are inclined to dismiss his numbers for the Coors Field effect, but WAR does (aparently) a very good work adjusting numbers offensively and also accounts defense and baserunning.
    Another argument against Walker is he had his injuries. This affects his WAR total, but his WAR is good enough that it tells us (I think) that he’s career was, even considering his injuries, a great one.
    Using B-R WAR, Larry Walker has 72.6 (56th all time among non pitchers). That should be enough to consider him Hall-worthy, specially considering he’s above some players very well regarded like:
    Derek Jeter
    Ron Santo
    Alan Trammell
    Barry Larkin
    Gary Carter
    Manny Ramírez
    Tim Raines
    Tony Gwyn
    Al Simmons
    Ivan Rodríguez
    Edgar Martínez
    Eddie Murray
    Carlton Fisk
    Ryne Sandberg
    Ernie Banks
    Roberto Alomar
    Duke Snider
    Craig Biggio
    Andre Dawson
    Willie McCovey
    Dave Winfield
    I feel Larry Walker is being really underapreciated.

    • Dan says:

      Walker belongs in the Hall and it’s not even close to being borderline. His 72.6 WAR/58.6 JAWS is pretty much dead even with the average HOF right fielder and above the average of all HOF position players.

  13. thoughtsandsox says:

    How come everyone thinks that overhead diving catches are so spectacular and special in baseball? (and not just diving ones, Willie Mays) Joe thinks that the Edmonds catch in KC maybe was the best of all time but if that was a football we would have expected the 3rd or even the 4th receiver on the team to catch it.

  14. Joe;
    Here’s a somewhat deeper look at the voting numbers, as it related to Bonds/Clemens:

  15. Joe puts “stealing signs” among his lists of things cheaters do (e.g. scuffing baseballs), and I honestly don’t understand why. The other team isn’t guaranteed privacy while they’re signaling, and if a player is smart enough to crack they’re code, it’s no more cheating than noticing that a pitcher is tipping his pitches. Both of them are admirably heads-ip baseball.

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