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Big Crime Papi Dog

Yes, here’s one more Fred McGriff post … but this one is different from the previous two. You could read the previous two posts on McGriff and conclude (not without reason) that I am denigrating his great career. I am not, I promise, but these are just words and easy to dismiss. I wrote that while I think McGriff is a viable and borderline Hall of Fame candidate, I do not buy the current theory that he is being undervalued by voters because of PED users.  I  also do not believe he is one of the, say, ten best candidates not in the Hall of Fame.

When you put it that way, that sounds pretty negative. And to make those points, I made reference to the various negatives of McGriff’s case: his below average defense; his late-career numbers being boosted by the very era that some say has haunted him and his relatively low WAR total for Hall of Fame candidates.

But I believe McGriff has a case, a good Hall of Fame case, a better one (I think) than the “he’s getting jobbed by the steroid era” case.

So here goes: Fred McGriff was every bit as good a player as David Ortiz.

Ortiz is not on the Hall of Fame ballot yet. Heck, he’s not even retired yet. And when he goes on the Hall of Fame ballot, it will be emotionally charged because the Hall of Fame cases for him and against him are all big and bold and personal.

For Papi: He likely will finish his career in the Top 25 in doubles, homers, and RBIs. He had some of the most memorable postseason performances in baseball history. He’s the emotional leader of a three-time World Series champion. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to tell the story of baseball over the last 25 years without including a section on Big Papi.

Against Papi: He did test positive for banned substances, even if that test was supposed to be confidential. He spent almost his entire career as a DH. Much of his success was at Fenway Park, a good hitters park, where he was dramatically better overall than he was on the road (though he did hit more homers on the road).

I don’t have a good feel for how Papi’s case is going to go. In fact, I don’t have a good feel for how several of the upcoming candidates will do. Next year, Ivan Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, and Vladimir Guerrero will go on the ballot. Pudge is a Hall of Fame mystery to me. He was a guy often called “future Hall of Famer” in his prime and for obvious reasons. He has almost 3,000 hits, 13 Gold Gloves, an MVP award and 14 All-Star appearances. That seems to put him in the first-ballot territory. But he also has that foggy “God only knows” answer to the PED question and a whole bunch of years at the end of his career when he kept switching teams and playing at replacement level. I think he gets close, but I don’t know.

Ramirez probably gets very little support (McGwire level support? Sosa level) because he failed two drug tests. But I don’t know.  He was a better player than McGwire or Sosa. Vladimir Guerrero was as much fun to watch as anyone in my lifetime, and he has fantastic career numbers, but again, I don’t know. I’m sure neither will get elected and I’m guessing both will be comfortably above the 5% line that knocks players off the ballot. But the rest is a mystery.

Baffling times these are, Luke, and so I can’t predict what will happen to Papi except to say that those who believe he’s a Hall of Famer STRONGLY feel that way, and those who feel he’s not a Hall of Famer STRONGLY feel that way. There’s no need to go over the Papi argument because you know exactly how good a player he was.

Well, Fred McGriff was just as good a player, maybe even better.

McGriff hit .284/.377/.509 for his career in about 10,000 plate appearances

Ortiz has hit .284/.378/.547 in what will, in the end, be about 10,000 plate appearances.

McGriff hit 493 home runs. Ortiz, so far, has hit 503.

Ortiz does have that higher slugging percentage and more RBIs and runs and doubles, but so much of that is the context of when and where he played. Ortiz hit .308/.405/.580 at Fenway Park. That’s 40 points of batting average, 50 points of on-base percentage and almost 60 points of slugging percentage better than he hit outside of Fenway Park.*

McGriff, meanwhile, was almost the same player at home and on the road.

McGriff on road: .288/.376/.510

Ortiz on road (including time he played in Minnesota): .265/.358/.537

*One other note worth making: McGriff KILLED it at Fenway. He hit .377/.456/.536 in 239 plate appearances at Fenway.

Ortiz does have postseason heroics that few can match, and this should be a huge part of his Hall of Fame argument. But McGriff was fantastic in the postseason too. He hit 303/.385/.532 with ten homers in 50 postseason games. That counts.

And as far as the rest, no, McGriff was not a good defensive first baseman, but he certainly contributed more defensively than Ortiz did. Ortiz played only 277 of his more than 2,000 games in the field. McGriff, meanwhile, played only 174 games as a DH even though he spent more than half his career in the American League.

By Baseball Reference WAR, McGriff leads 52.4 to 50.4

By Fangraphs WAR, the difference is much more substantial — 56.9 to 46.1 for McGriff.

One of the core theories of this blog is that everyone has his or her own version of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Some believe it should have only the very best players based on their production. Some believe it should have the players who were most famous and, as such, carried the narrative of the game. Some believe it should include PED users if they were all-time great players. Some believe it should not because they cheated the game. Some believe the Hall should be bigger than it is now. Some believe it should be smaller. Some believe that it should tell the story of baseball. Some believe that it should tell the history of baseball, which might not be the same thing.

Some believe Dwight Evans should be in the Hall of Fame. Some believe Jim Rice should be in the Hall of Fame. Some believe neither. Some believe both.

Fred McGriff was better than some people in the Hall of Fame, and he’s not as good as some of the people not yet in the Hall of Fame. This is what it means to be a borderline candidate. I think to make his case, you need to explain what made him unique and special. It’s easy to see what was unique and special about Big Papi. Well, McGriff was as good a player as Papi, and he might have been better.


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73 Responses to Big Crime Papi Dog

  1. Paul says:

    All I know is that if Ortiz gets into the HoF before Edgar Martinez I’m going to LOSE IT.

    • Dale says:

      My sentiments exactly.

    • Maybe that’s the best thing that could happen to Edgar? I mean, if Papi gets in as a DH gets in then the writers will be more inclined to vote Edgar. Pos said something similar during the Blyleven/Morris deal. The Morris camp was competing against Blyleven’s candidacy when electing Blyleven would’ve made it easier for Morris to get elected.

      • invitro says:

        I don’t think you have a sense of time. Edgar first got HoF votes in 2010, so his last year on the ballot is 2019. Papi’s first year on the ballot will be 2021 or 2022. Even if Papi is elected on the first ballot, that’d be far too late for the writers to elect Edgar — though it may help the veterans elect him in about 2029, when Edgar is 66 years old.

  2. Ian says:

    I’m a big hall guy so I think McGriff should be in the HOF but I understand the opposite view. I know Joe’s not trying to slight McGriff’s career (or Jack Morris’) when he says he’s not a HOFer although a lot of these articles end up looking like that. Morris was knocked for so long by so many, I think people forget that he was a great pitcher, even if not a HOF pitcher. I hope that doesn’t happen to McGriff. At the end of the day, according to b-r, over 18,300 men have played in the majors. Of those 18,300+, only 260 accrued more WAR than McGriff in his career. Maybe he’s not a HOFer, but he was very good.

    • Johnny B says:

      “I think people forget that he was a great pitcher, even if not a HOF pitcher. ”

      That hits it outta the park. There are so many great players in baseball. Hell, most ballplayers that were up for a glass of water in the majors were the best in their town. I’ll see a journeyman ballplayer’s stats, and he hit 100 homeruns. In the major leagues. That’s a great ballplayer in my opinion. Most folks you know couldn’t dream of doing that.

      Then there’s Mattingly, Santana and Dale Murphy. Nomar perhaps. Stars like that. Fantastic seasons, league leaders. In their peak they were no doubt Hall of Famers. Or played a Hall of Fame level game. Great frikkin’ ballplayers, but maybe a tad short for the Hall.

      McGriff had a full career with no rumors (I think.) Consistent and excellent. Not too much black ink, but a 5-time all-star who twice led the league in homers, and a great postseason player who won a championship. He is indeed a great player, and perhaps the definition of a borderline HOFer.

      Comparison to Papi is irrelevant. Papi gonna ride on the steroid groupthink that is in place 6 years from now. And the more I think about it, the more I think McGriff has a case.

      But I’m more in favor of a small Hall, so I go back to some old fogey’s opinion, that if you have to think about, he’s not a Hall of Famer.

      • Steve Adey says:

        So I’m at Safeway paying for my chips and the cashier says he’s retiring. “Good for you!” I say. “It’s my second time,” he replies.
        Turns out he was a baseball player, a minor league second baseman until his late-thirties. I didn’t know anybody played minor league ball that long. “Oh yeah,” he says. “I got to see the whole country. Had a wonderful time.”
        He never played one game in the majors, and you know what? Man, do I ever wish I could have done what he did. He was a great player!

        • Marc Schneider says:

          Great story, but I bet he’s not married-or at least wasn’t when he was playing. It’s probably a fine life if you are single.

      • Chris H says:

        After Tom Veryzer died – I think there was a post about it here – I looked up his obituary in Newsday. Veryzer batted ninth for the completely mediocre Cleveland teams of my childhood; he was good enough in the field to stick around for a dozen or so seasons, but his career OPS was .577.

        His obit was full of memories of how he was one of the best players in Long Island when he was in high school.

        So yeah, the top 300 all time, HOF or not, is pretty rarefied air.

  3. TheTruth67 says:

    That 2003 test was for banned substances. That could have been dope or any other thing that was banned at the time not neccesarily PED’s, Joe.

    Yes, I’m a fan of David’s. Yes, I want to say that he’s never failed a test for PED’s but A-rod spoiled the meaning if that response.

    • Ortiz gave the “I never knowingly took anything illegal” explanation. Then he blamed it on an unnamed supplement. Which, at the time, felt like kind of a lame boiler plate excuse. Later, and this is interesting, Papi explained that when he tried to find out what he tested positive for, he was told they couldn’t tell him because the test was completely confidential. So, he was put in the position of having to defend himself from a positive test that even he didn’t know what it was. (If this is all to be believed).
      Now for context. The year of the test, 2003, was his first in Boston. He was coming off .272/.339/.500, 18 HR, 48 RBI season with Minnesota in 2002. That was his age 26 season. So, his 27 year old season (entering his prime) with Boston, he hit .288/.369/.592 with 31 HRs and 101 RBIs. So, you can spin his jump in power as his getting on steroids. But you could also argue that he was just entering his prime, and surely if he was taking steroids, he was also doing it in 2002.
      Next: After all of that, of course, PED testing started. Maybe a little weak, at first, but gradually improving. Since then, when he’s compiled most of his career stats, he’s never tested positive. Maybe he’s just beating the system. Who knows? But I think he can argue that the 2003 test, of which there were never any specifics, was not a steroid positive test. And that since then, he’s been tested a lot, compiled the vast majority of his career stats (including far better seasons that 2003) and steroid taint shouldn’t prevent his election.
      The case against him is nothing like the BALCO deal with Bonds, the case against Clemens, and the blatant positive tests of ARod. It’s also a tick higher than what Bagwell & Piazza dealt with, which was essentially a whisper/rumor campaign. There is some evidence, but not all that much.
      It will be interesting.

      • Darrel says:

        OR you could say in the three years prior to the drug testing program being instituted(04-06) he hit 41, 47, and 54 HR. In the three years immediately after drug testing started he hit 35,23, and 28. So there’s that.

      • Darrel says:

        Oh and A-Rod has failed exactly the same number of tests as Ortiz. It was the same test. A-Rod got caught in the bio-genesis thing obviously but as far as MLB testing goes they are equals.

      • MikeN says:

        David Ortiz never use no steroids.

  4. Alejo says:

    DH. PED. NoHoF.

  5. Tom G says:

    Is there anyone who is OK with any version of the Hall-of-Fame so long as there is consistency with choosing which players go in?

    • Johnny B says:

      It is flawed for sure, but if you visit, as I have for many years, the museum is really the reason to go. All the greats, including Joe Jackson and Pete Rose are well represented even if they don’t have a plaque. It is an excellent representation of the history of baseball.

      • Yeah, I think the arguments from people that if “x” player is not elected that the HOF doesn’t represent baseball, various generational players, etc. is pretty weak. If you’ve been there, then you’re not saying that. All that might be missing is a couple of plaques for a handful of guys who played loose with the rules. And the plaques are not the most interesting things in the HOF. A few missing plaques doesn’t ruin the HOF.

        • Cooper Nielson says:

          Yeah, but to be fair, the “Hall of Fame” is not just a brick-and-mortar museum in upstate New York, it’s also an intangible honor bestowed on baseball players to recognize their greatness.

          I don’t think that most of the complainers really think the M– USEUM is ruined/cheapened without Barry Bonds’ plaque hanging there — they think the honor of “Hall of Famer” is cheapened if some of the greatest (on the field) players are ignored while lesser players are given the distinction.

          I expect that a substantial percentage of the people who care very much about HOF elections have never been to the museum, and have no plans to ever do so.

          • MCD says:

            I disagree with your contention as I think a large majority of the complainers DO think that the museum is somehow cheapened, largely do to a misunderstanding of the duality of what “being in the Hall of Fame” means.

            How often do you hear the argument that, “I am fine with Pete Rose not getting a plaque, but they should have an exhibit saying he is the all time hit leader, etc” and “How can you tell the story of baseball and not mention the guy that has hit more homers (or hits) than anybody?”

            And none of the talking heads in the media *ever* correct a commentator who spouts this clueless BS.

          • invitro says:

            Exactly, MCD.

  6. Chip S. says:

    Regular-season David Ortiz is a member of the Hall of the Very Good, behind McGriff. Playoff David Ortiz is an inner-circle Hall of Famer.

    Back in the days when HoF standards became standards, the regular season was nearly everything. Now it’s a bit more than a long qualifying round. HoF standards should evolve in the same way that the game itself has evolved.

    Oh, and on the “banned substances” question: What TheTruth67 said.

    • Letal says:

      If the regular season had fewer games, I’d buy the post season argument. But, the regular season remains the constant and the thing that I value far above a small sample size of post season stats. All it takes is one bad late career post season for Ortiz’s post season numbers to look very different.

      I like McGriff. I liked him when I was a kid and followed him through his career. As a fan, he’s a sure fire HOF’er to me. Empirically, he’s borderline. But, my biases are what puts him over the top. Seeing him compared to Ortiz in such a manner is very interesting. I would have thought Ortiz had better numbers.

      By the time Ortiz gets to the HOF discussion, though, I would expect that his DH status will be far more pertinent to his case than will a failed test from (by then) two decades prior. Maybe Edgar will be in, though, and admitting a DH won’t be such a stigma.

      • If you look at Bonds and ARod, there were a lot of epic fails in their post season. They also had some success after a ton of failures. Steroids aside, nobody would judge their careers a failure because they didn’t do that well in the post season. Those would just be interesting foot notes. Greg Maddux had a mediocre post season record…. actually probably better than most think, those Braves teams had a lot of offensive challenges that caused a few undeserved losses…. but nobody seriously thought he wouldn’t be in the HOF even if he was a disaster in the post season.
        But to the other point, epic post season play can boost your case nicely. Jack Morris almost got elected essentially off one epic game 7 performance. John Smoltz certainly elevated his case in that way, as well.

      • lazermike says:

        It’s true postseason numbers are based on small sample sizes that can swing wildly year to year, but when people talk about including postseason play in a HOF argument I think they are talking about moments, not overall numbers. It’s not that Ortiz and Schilling and Morris had great playoff averages, it’s that they provided memorable performances in important playoff and World Series games. Those are accomplishments that I think should be included in making a HOF case. It’s not that pitching a great Game 7 moves the needle on how good a pitcher Jack Morris was overall; it’s that it moves the needle on how strong a HOF candidate he is. Same thing with Papi.

  7. Brian says:

    Not an Ortiz fan, but he and other DHs are underrated by WAR because of position adjustments. The DH was assigned -17.5 runs per 600 PA in 2002, then the adjustments to replacement level were never changed to reflect that there are a heck of a lot less 1B/DH power hitter types around in 2015. This article recommended an adjustment of -9.25 runs per 600 PA, which seems more accurate.

  8. Two comments:

    1) Pitchers also only play half of the game. No one seems to penalize them for that.

    2) Using defense as a disqualifier sounds a little disingenuous to me. Has anyone gone back to work out advanced defensive metrics for everyone in the hall? Or is it all based on vague memories?

    • For #1, anyone that’s played baseball knows that’s a silly argument. Pitchers play half the game only in the AL. Also, pitchers LITERALLY play half the game since they throw every pitch when they’re in the game, while a position player might only get a couple of balls even hit their way all game. Nobody argues that right fielders shouldn’t get elected because they have the fewest plays to make during the course of a game. The better argument, along these lines, is that starters pitch only once a week. Of course, they also have a disproportionate impact on the games they do pitch for the reasons I already outlined. It’s not surprising that betting lines are heavily weighted towards who the starting pitchers are.
      For #2, using defensive metrics is only relevant anymore on current HOF cases, since players from the earlier years are in, or they are not in already. But, BBR does have defensive metrics for earlier years, to answer your question. Of course, those weren’t used to determine Babe Ruth’s HOF case, back in the day. There are just better tools available today. I don’t really understand the argument that “since we didn’t use better tools in 1940 to elect players to the HOF, we shouldn’t use them today.” Sounds a little flat-earthish to me.

      • My point in terms of defense is that I don’t think that defense was considered all that much if someone was a great hitter. Occasionally, defense has been the reason that someone was elected (Ozzie Smith springs to mind), but I doubt that it was ever used against someone.

        In terms of pitchers in the NL playing both parts of the game, I sincerely doubt that anyone cares about that – no pitcher has his hitting stats considered for or against him with regard to the Hall.

        In terms of the DH, my real argument is that the HOF should honor those who played the game as it was. If the game has a DH or a closer, then people who play those positions well should be considered. I have a similar argument against the NFL not electing kickers and punters – if someone excels at those tasks, then they should be considered for the HOF.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      Well, really, everyone plays half the game. Hitters don’t hit every inning so they are essentially sitting on the bench until it’s their turn to hit. It’s not like basketball where players are on the court the entire game. Essentially, there are two platoons-offense and defense except that the platoons include the same players (except in the AL, obviously). The only people that are in the entire game are the umpires.

  9. MikeN says:

    Joe, using WAR to discount McGriff is another way that steroids is keeping him out of the Hall.

  10. MikeN says:

    I think Guerrero will get in to the Hall of Fame easily, except for the clogged ballot issue.

    Ortiz will clear up the steroid issue, because after he misses a few ballots, the Boston media will start pushing for a reevaluation to get everyone in.

  11. Player A: .284/.378/.547, 502 HRs, 139 OPS+, 50.4 WAR
    Player B: .288/.371/.515, 569 HRS, 132 OPS+, 71.6 WAR, 3 Gold Gloves

    Player A is David Ortiz, Player B is Rafael Palmeiro. Joe has made an argument that Palmeiro, steroids aside, is not a HOF level player. Where does that leave Ortiz? Discuss.

    • invitro says:

      If you ignore the playoffs, Ortiz is a laughable HoF candidate. If you include them, he probably catches up to Palmeiro & McGriff, and maybe Olerud.

      Here’s the thing on these guys. There is a HUGE pile of 1Bmen who played at the same time or after them who were lots better: Votto, Thome, Giambi, Miggy, Helton, Bagwell, and of course Pujols were all much, much better baseball players. Would it hurt so much to have a little patience and wait for these true HoF candidates to reach the ballot? And spend your efforts on true deservers like Schilling, Raines, Mussina, and Walker instead?

    • DB says:

      It is only three things:
      (1) Fame (other than Rafael in front of Congress, he was never seen as famous). Ortiz played in Boston and did outstanding things in the postseason (double-counting number 2 in a way).
      (2) Post-season success. Same as Smoltz and Morris. What is it worth?
      (3) Lack of outright steroid failed test. Ortiz can spin while Rafael cannot. Do not think HOF anti-steriod crowd will care but who knows.

      So figure Ortiz gets another few WAR in the next year (and they are talking about playing around with WAR defensive adjustment for DH and that the year gets him to possibly 60 WAR).

      I can see someone saying that 1 and 2 are worth more than 10 WAR and that is the great thing about these arguments. Someone can look at their raw numbers and say they are pretty close (Rafael had a bit extra home run power but Ortiz was the better pure hitter). So Fame and Post-season success is way more valuable than a decent fielding first baseman who also played a lot of DH as well.

    • heaveecee says:

      Ortiz peaks higher and is the better offensive player as seen by a better OPS+, slugging % and OBP. Despite the Gold Gloves, Palmeiro was not a plus defender, he’s probably closer to Fred McGriff territory on defence. That is maybe the best comparison. I think Ortiz is borderline, with both Palmeiro and McGriff falling short. Playoffs is icing on the cake and adds to the case, but can’t be taken alone. Larsen has a perfect game, but nothing else noteworthy. I don’t think Morris would have gotten the long look if it wasn’t for his one stellar playoff game.

    • MikeN says:

      Hmm, I agree that I wouldn’t vote for Palmeiro, even without the steroids issue. I would vote for Ortiz.

      The issues are Ortiz in the postseason, and Palmeiro was never a top player.

      Also, wasn’t one of Palmeiro’s Gold Gloves awarded a season he played DH?

  12. Jeff A. says:

    I have such mixed feelings on Ortiz (and I’m a Sox fan).

    As everyone knows, there’s his hitting – both regular season accumulation and post-season legendary.

    I agree that the PED/testing issues surrounding Papi are much more nebulous than others (bellweather22’s comments above summarize nicely), and this puts him in a spot where he may very well be the first outright failed/admitted banned-substance guy in the HOF.

    What to make of the DH arguments? I mean, if a starting pitcher only takes the field for 225 innings of a season in which his team pitches a collective 1,400 innings, we’re completely okay with that. But we still cling to the “DH doesn’t contribute to his team’s defense” differentiation.

    In Ortiz’s case, I’m mixed. On the one hand, his NOT playing 1B probably saved the Sox several runs a season, so doesn’t his being a DH then ADD even more (collective) value to the Sox lineup than if he were inserted at first every game? But conversely, I have had to endure dozens of times during Papi’s career where Farrell and Francona and the FO had to make infuriating personnel decisions when the team’s full time 1B would go down with injury because Ortiz wasn’t a serviceable first baseman, when the obvious solution should have been putting Ortiz at 1B.

    I am anxious to see what the argument looks like once a few years have been put between his career and the HOF vote.

    • invitro says:

      “so doesn’t his being a DH then ADD even more (collective) value to the Sox lineup than if he were inserted at first every game?”
      Yes, it does. But it only raises the enormous negative that his defensive value would be if he played 1B every game, up to the sizable negative that full-time DH’s get.

      • Jeff A. says:

        That’s true. But we don’t hold a 1B accountable for what his defensive value would be if he had to play SS every day, but the argument against the DH seems committed to this same line of reasoning.

    • Darrel says:

      222/1400=16% of a teams innings.
      600pa/6100team pa=9.8% of a teams plate appearances

      The pitcher has a greater percentage of innings vs plate appearances and has a much more significant impact on them. Plus the pitcher plays defense as well as pitched and in the NL has plate appearances as well. I’m not against a DH as a HoF but comparing a DH to a starting pitcher is not the argument to make to elect a DH.

      • Jeff A. says:

        Mariano Rivera will be elected to the HOF, with few arguments against his enshrinement. Rivera threw 1283 innings over 19 seasons, or fewer than 68 innings per season (less than 5% of innings his team was fielding, assuming an average of 1,400 innings a season). He faced 5,100 batters. He came to the plate 4 times in his career.

        David Ortiz has so far played 2,157 innings at 1B in his 19 year career, plus his almost 9,500 PAs.

        All I’m saying is that we don’t quite know what to make of the DH and the expected level of production, much like we don’t necessarily have a great handle on how to evaluate pitchers, fielding, etc.

        • Darrel says:

          I get that. My point was simply that a starting pitcher who might be in the discussion as a HoF has much more impact by % of innings than a DH has as a % of PA. The DH comes out not looking so good in that comparison which is why I wouldn’t try to elect a DH using it.
          Don’t even get me started on Rivera, or any closer, being elected as a HoF. I personally think that is ridiculous. Joe has made the case here a few times that the % of games saved has not changed despite the move to the one inning specialist but now we are going to start electing these guys cuz some dude created a stat called saves. One of the projects I’d like to see is for somebody to look at the innings pitched by a closer and see how many of them, per regular season, are legit high leverage innings. My guess is that is is less than 30. Gawd if its that low then long live the DH.

          • Marc Schneider says:

            The argument that the % of games saved has not changed since the advent of closers means that closers should not be in Hall seems silly to me. I mean, it’s like saying that the number of points scored in football hasn’t gone down since the advent of two-platoon football so defensive players shouldn’t be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The fact is, pitchers don’t throw complete games any more so relief pitchers are a necessary part of the game and the better relief pitchers are critical to a team’s success. The game has changed. The problem is the criteria for what makes a successful closer (saves) is a flawed and silly statistic that has little to do with what a closer is actually supposed to do.

          • MikeN says:

            Has the percentage of games won differed for teams with HOF closers, All-Star closers, and those without?

          • Darrel says:

            Marc, I obviously have a different take on this than you. For me the fact that the Yankees could have employed 12 different guys in the closer role over the course of Rivera’s career and had little to no noticeable difference in their win/loss record suggests the role is vastly overrated when it comes to HoF recognition. If the number of high leverage innings is as low as I expect then we are talking about guy who affects 2% of his teams innings. Even if we give credit for every inning pitched we are only talking about 4%. I agree that the bullpen is an important part of the game today. It’s just that the individual parts that make it up aren’t.

            KC lost their All-star closer mid-year this year and the next guy came in and did the job just as well or better and my guess is if Davis had gone down the next guy would have stepped in and done the same. Now Rivera is obviously going in as is Hoffman and I know I’m on an island here but I just don’t see the overall impact of a closer adding up to Hof worthy.

  13. invitro says:

    If I were an actual HoF voter, I’d really want to know just how good Ortiz was in the postseason. His OPS there is .962, and he has MVP’s in two series. This is awesome, sure, but does it make him the best postseason hitter ever? I remember looking at top players’ postseason OPS’s but not well, and I don’t think it does, but it probably puts him in the top ten among HoF candidates. I’d really need to check it out more carefully before voting. I hope Joe and other voters do, but I’m not holding my breath.

    • Dan says:

      Colby Rasmus: OPS 1.610 in 35 postseason PA.

      For quantity and quality, you’d have a tough time beating Gehrig and Ruth (1.214 OPS, each of them) as post-season hitters. No knock on Ortiz, that. Carlos Beltran had all of them beat at one point a few years ago, but he’s down to a measly 1.115 now.

      Ortiz is not top-10 in any of the rate stats (though I hazard a guess he’s not far off), but he’s had enough PAs to get up there in the counting stats – 5th in total bases, 7th in HRs, etc.

      I think the true weight of post-season performance comes out in narrative, not necessarily stats, and Ortiz has that going for him pretty good.

      • Jeff A. says:

        Ortiz has literally ten times as many post-season PAs than Rasmus, so there’s the whole sample size issue/argument that favors Papi as well.

        • Dan says:

          Yeah, I wasn’t seriously proposing Rasmus as a viable “best post-season hitter ever” candidate.

          Regarding sample size, certainly Papi has had more PAs and there is a better chance his statistics are reliable indicators of his performance. But there’s no denying that, whether Rasmus would *continue* to perform at an insane level, he *has* performed at an insane level in the opportunities available to him so far. So when we’re asking who’s the “best post-season hitter ever”, what are we measuring? The guy who’s done the best (at least rate-wise), or the guy who’s more statistically likely to be the best, or something else?

          I think the sample size issue would affect nearly every post-season hitter you can think of, to some degree. OBP stabilizes at around 460 PA (or so FanGraphs tells me) and SLG stabilizes around 320. You can count on one hand the number of people who exceed 469 PA. Papi has 357.

          • Dan says:

            * “469” should be “460”.

          • Jeff A. says:

            Oh I agree. I have no idea what to make of post-season numbers. Post-season heroics definitely make for interesting narrative (and not just for those who hold on to the idea of “clutch” performances…they’re just what makes the game resonate on an emotional level), and there’s something to be said for producing impressively against playoff caliber opposition.

            But what do we consider (raw numbers vs accumulation of numbers) in regards to HoF consideration…I have no idea what to do with that.

  14. Bill Caffrey says:

    This point was made earlier in relation to Edgar Martinez coming off the ballot before Ortiz gets on it, but I have to say that there seems little point to this level of discussion of Ortiz’s candidacy when he won’t even be on the ballot until 2021 (for the January 2022 “induction”).

  15. MCD says:

    I used to always wonder exactly how bad a defensive player Ortiz was, given the Red Sox would rather use their DH slot on him than Manny Ramirez. They would rather risk Manny Ramirez in the OF than Ortiz at first. Talk about your lesser of two evils. Either way, both could rake and it was good trade-off.

    I may be wrong, but I get the impression that most writers are going to give Ortiz a pass on the PED issue, and I think it is based largely on the fact he smiles a lot. I might be being cynical and the writers really are evaluating the circumstances around his positive test, but I really think it is just a case of “I like that guy”.

    • Brian says:

      Ortiz was the DH instead of Ramirez because Kevin Millar was a lot better at first base than he was in left field.

    • MikeN says:

      Manny led the league in putouts a few times.

      • sbmcmanus says:

        Manny had good assist and putout numbers for an outfielder. At the same time that was happening, he was often on the errors leaderboard as well. And (especially with the Red Sox) his range was visibly awful. I don’t think there’s any benefit to looking at putouts in isolation. The record is pretty conclusive that he was a poor outfielder in total.

  16. It always seems worth mentioning when people discuss Fenway as a a great hitter’s park (it is of course) that it actually suppresses left-handed home runs (and home runs in general- 90 HR Park factor for LH per FG ). Right Field is enormous and except for the point right at the Pesky pole it takes a big shot to clear the fence. The Green Monster adds tons of batting average and is a huge source of doubles, but it turns many other no-doubt home run shots into loud singles or doubles.

    Not that this makes the McGriff comparison null and void. It is an interesting comp. Ortiz’s edge is largely due to his homers and doubles and Fenway boosted the less valuable of the two at the cost of the more valuable. It would seem to me that the numbers suggest that if both were in a neutral park, Ortiz would remain the superior power-hitter among two players largely defined by power-hitting

  17. Rob Goldstein says:

    You listed a state line for McGriff and Bi Papi to compare the two. But earlier this week you took issue with Verducci essentially using that same stat line to compare McGriff and Matthews. I don’t really care, but just found it interesting that for one comparison it was not good enough, but for the other it was.

  18. Mark Daniel says:

    I would say Ortiz belongs in the HoF over McGriff because Ortiz is more like Andy Dufresne. Dufresne bringing hope to Shawshank is like Ortiz bringing hope to Fenway. Dufresne crawling through a river of s–t is like Ortiz blasting through an 0-3 deficit and the curse of the Bambino.
    I honestly don’t know how anyone can argue with this sound logic.

  19. Marc Schneider says:

    Daryl: “Marc, I obviously have a different take on this than you.” (Re: value of closers)

    Actually, I don’t think we disagree that much. I completely agree that the difference between a great closer and just a good closer in terms of value is not that much, certainly not enough to justify spending as much money as teams do on closers. My point was just that you can’t use the fact that the % of blown leads has not changed pre-and post closer era to prove that closers aren’t that important. The role of bullpens in general is simply different today so you are sort of comparing apples to oranges. I don’t think the way teams use closers or how they are rated (saves) proves much about an individual’s value. On the other hand, if a guy like Rivera can do this job successfully for many years, I think he deserves to be in the Hall because a lot of closers have good years and then disappear. There is, I think, significant value in a guy that can do this particular job well for a long time. Having said that, I think the bar for closers should be higher than for other positions because the statistics are so distorted.

  20. MikeN says:

    Reading Joe’s latest, anyone else think Blair Walsh will go into law enforcement?

  21. Bruce Nave says:

    McGriff combined baseball prowess with an appearance on a popular infomercial (Tom Emanski’s School of Baseball instructional videos). I would think that would put him over the top.

  22. Allen Phillips says:

    Frank White, come on He should be in the Hall!

  23. MB says:

    At the 2011 WS, Ortiz, a 36 year old over weight slugger, turned on every one of the 96-102mph fastballs all those young Cardinal pitchers threw. We aren’t talking about running into a couple, we’re talking about smoking them the same way Bonds did at his PED peak. History tells us that only in the steroid era did this happen. Ortiz has only being a hitter on his resume and if PEDs is a factor, I don’t believe he is a Hall of Famer. One of the great characters of baseball. He seems to be a great and respected guy, especially among the Latin community of players. I think it’s fair to say, there is no way MLB drug tests in the post season. They don’t wanted a tainted post season, that would cost them a ton of cash. If Ortiz is voted in, then I recommend cycling up in late September so you too can be a borderline Hall of Famer.

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