By In Stuff

BR Hall of Fame: The 100 percent race

So, here’s the first fun bit from our Brilliant Readers Hall of Fame voting: I put up 15 players who, I honestly believe, will make it in first ballot. You could argue that, give or take a Mickey Mantle here or a Pete Alexander there, they are the very best players in the Hall of Fame (along with Greg Maddux, who figures to go in almost unanimously next year). I don’t think there’s anyone on there who is in any way, shape or form a borderline Hall of Famer. Even the most exclusive Hall of Fame would have all 15 players in it.

And early in the voting, it does appear they will all make it first ballot.

That said: I knew that it would not be unanimous. Nothing on the Internet is unanimous. As Brilliant Reader Duke says, you could put up an Internet poll that looked like this:

Do you want to be happy?

[ ] Yes

[ ] No

And “No” would get votes. In fact, even if you are really cynical, “No” would probably get more votes than you expected.

So, I figured that by the end of the voting, none of the players would be at 100%. And that led to the fun race: I spent a little while refreshing the screen to see what order the players would drop out of the 100% club. At first — that is to say the first few minutes — everyone was at 100%. And then, I saw someone did not vote for Ty Cobb. That was inevitable. Cobb was a controversial figure who played a long time ago, I expected a handful of people to not vote for him.

Tris Speaker fell out — again, not a bit surprise, he played a long time ago. It’s funny, in Cleveland, where I was growing up, the Little League in our area was called the “Tris Speaker League.” We would say to each other, “Are you playing Tris Speaker this year?” I don’t think I knew (or any of my friends) that Tris Speaker was an actual baseball player until quite a while later.

Anyway, the final 10 went down this way:

10. Lefty Grove. It’s clear that many casual baseball fans do not appreciate that Lefty Grove might be the greatest pitcher in baseball history. Part of the problem is that Grove pitched in a huge offensive era, so his 3.06 career ERA pales in comparison to, say, Walter Johnson’s 2.17.

But Johnson’s ERA+ (147) is actually LESS than Grove’s (148). Grove led his league in ERA nine times (as many as Johnson and Greg Maddux PUT TOGETHER), in strikeouts seven times, in WHIP five times, in strikeout-to-walk ratio eight times, he dominated his era like perhaps no one ever.

Anyway, he dropped out pretty quickly.

9. Tom Seaver. This was a little bit of a surprise — as is the overall lack of support for Seaver (under 90% last I checked). Seaver, the first 10 or 11 seasons of his career, was about as good as anyone ever. He won three Cy Young Awards, led the Miracle Mets to two remarkable World Series appearances, and was everything a superstar pitcher should be. After he was traded to Cincinnati, after he hit his mid-30s, he was more sporadic, with a few good seasons and few OK ones. He stuck around and won his 300th game when he was no longer a great pitcher, but mixing his peak brilliance with that longevity, I think he is one of the five best pitchers who ever lived and has an argument for being the best.

And he played much of his career in New York.

And he was extremely famous off the field as well as on.

I’m surprised he dropped out as soon as he did.

8. Greg Maddux. Interesting. I wasn’t sure how long Maddux would last. One the one hand, he’s by far the most contemporary player on the list so everyone is very aware of his brilliance.

On the other, there’s something about the years that add to a players aura — a halo effect, maybe. Babe Ruth is widely viewed as the greatest baseball player ever even though he started in the big league almost exactly 100 years ago. And I suspect in 100 years, he will STILL be widely viewed as the greatest player (maybe even more so) because he’s now something of a folk hero. Maddux’s brilliance may be fresh in the mind, but his name has not yet become hallowed like Ruth and Williams and Johnson and some of the other legends of the game.

7. Stan Musial. At last check, eight people did not vote for Stan Musial. They could be contrarians — they’re probably contrarians — but I wonder who honestly thinks that Stan Musial should not be in the baseball Hall of Fame.

6. Lou Gehrig. He’s listed at the bottom of the poll. My guess is the voters just didn’t see him there.

5. Henry Aaron. Wow. I would have expected Aaron to last make the final four. But Aaron’s greatness was in his astounding consistency, and consistency is inevitably underrated. As you probably know, Aaron never hit 50 homers in a season — but he hit 40 or more eight times. He hit .330 or better just once; but he hit between .310 and .330 ten times. he never came close to 140 RBIs in a season, but he had 100 eleven times.

My favorite Aaron stat: He is the all-time leader with 6,856 total bases. Nobody is even close. How far ahead is he? Well here is what these players would have had to do to catch him in total bases:

Stan Musial: Hit 361 more doubles.

Willie Mays: Hit 320 more doubles and 50 more triples.

Barry Bonds: Hit 220 more homers.

Ty Cobb: Slash 334 more triples.

Babe Ruth: Hit 266 moe homers.

Pete Rose: Crack, bloop and line 1,104 more singles.

4. Walter Johnson. Though Johnson might have the strongest case for best pitcher ever, I actually expected him to go out a little bit earlier because he played so long ago and in such a different era of baseball. But the aura of the Big Train seems to have lasted through the years.

3. Willie Mays. Really? I thought Mays was going to battle with Ruth for last man standing.

2. Ted Williams. Who was the better player, Ted Williams or Willie Mays? It’s a great question … in a lot of ways it’s like an Olympian version of the Miggy Cabrera-Mike Trout MVP question. Williams was the better hitter. He was probably the best hitter who ever lived. His .482 on-base percentage is almost ONE HUNDRED points higher than Mays. That’s a basic — and perhaps the most important — offensive statistic.

But could Williams run like Mays? No. Could Williams defend like Mays? No. Not close. Mays hit with more home run power (though Williams slugged for a higher percentage). Mays threw better than Williams. Mays was a lot more durable than Williams too.

Then again, Williams missed the better part of five years fighting wars (Mays missed one).

Like I say, it’s a great question.

1. Babe Ruth. You knew he’d be the last one. I think it took 400 or so votes before someone did not vote for Babe Ruth. I’m sure he’d lift a beer to that.

77 Responses to BR Hall of Fame: The 100 percent race

  1. Josh says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    • siska says:

      again, not a bit surprise, he played a long time ago. It’s funny, in Cleveland, where I was growing up, the Little League in our area was called the “Tris Speaker League.” We would say to each other, “Are you playing Tris Speaker this year?” I don’t think I knew (or any of my friends) that Tris Speaker was an actual baseball player until quite a while later.

  2. drmagoo says:

    I really wish there was some way you could track who didn’t vote for which players (or maybe solicit their responses) and see why.

  3. Corey says:

    Mays vs. Williams has nothing to do with Trout vs. Cabrera. Trout actually had a higher on-base percentage and OPS+ than Cabrera did. Mays vs. Williams is about all-around value vs. hitting value. Trout vs. Cabrera is about new stats vs. old stats, as Trout had about the same hitting value as Cabrera AND had way more all-around value.

    The big edge Mays has over Williams that you don’t mention is positional value. CF is a much more difficult position than LF and the replacement level is a lot lower.

    • purebull says:

      Mays vs. Williams has nothing to do with Trout vs. Cabrera.


      Mays vs. Williams is about all-around value vs. hitting value

      uh…how is that not *exactly* the question between either of the two sets you’ve chosen to write about?

    • Corey says:

      Because Trout had just as much hitting value as Cabrera did. If you think hitting value is more important than other factors, you can pick Williams over Mays, but you can’t pick Cabrera over Trout on that same basis.

    • Rob Smith says:

      I don’t get your point. Like with Mays, Trout added fielding value… while Williams and Cabrera’s value was purely hitting.

    • rpmcsweeney says:

      I take Corey’s point to be that with Trout & Cabrera, Trout was already as valuable a hitter as Cabrera according to advanced stars, plus he was better in the field and on the basepaths. Williams was a better batter than Mays, so the question is whether Mays’s other skills make up that gap.

    • invitro says:

      Yes, I thought his point was both clear and correct.

  4. George says:

    With our truculent political world, if your name is “Lefty” a bunch of folks will never ever be able to vote for you, I guess.

  5. Eliza says:

    I wonder if there might have been a few people who clicked the boxes so quickly that they accidentally clicked outside one of them, missing the box, and then clicked “vote” before realizing that a box had been left blank.

    Honestly, that’s the only reason I can think of why anybody could conceivably vote against any of these players for the HOF.

    • djangoz says:

      I think you’re assuming everyone took this very seriously. When what it really means is that 5-10 people out of 800 (so far) just felt like screwing around.

      We’ll have more meaningful data when we get to the other players.

  6. glenn says:

    I think the lack unanimous selections might be because a few people didn’t pay attention to the “vote for up to 5/10” and only picked one of the choices (or some similar internet voting irregularity).

    However, I would like to think that 1% of the voters have imaginary Hall of Fame standards that are too high to allow Babe Ruth. And 2% of the voters were obviously members of the Boston media in the ’50s whose interview requests were snubbed by a surly Ted Williams.

  7. It’s interesting to see which order their “perfection” went out on, but it matters far less than the relative % they end up with.

    What we are seeing though is that this popular vote with have HORRIBLE recency bias (Grove and Matthewson under 92%????) and is going to have the problem the regular Hall of Fame has that bothers quite a bit of people (including me): the fact that people treat hitters primarily based on their hitting ability compared to all hitters, rather than compare hitters at their position to other hitters at their position (the reason there are so few 3B in HOF).

    Whatever. It’s a really interesting experiment. And it’ll really do a good job at accurately gauging what the public thinks comparing apples to apples (Matthewson vs. Johnson vs. Cy Young) with these percentages, if not comparing across the board.

  8. Nick O says:

    I voted for all of them, but I think you could make the argument that with the population of the player pool being so much smaller then that players who dominated pre-WWII would not be great players today even if they had access to the weightlifting/dietary info, LASIK etc. we have today. I know we’re only talking the best HOFers here, but there are more HOFers from the olden days than there are from more modern times, and the population the MLB is drawing from is probably like 10 times the size it was in 1910.

  9. As stated above by others in other words, the polls are not constructed properly to minimize human error. If each player had his own poll (Should firstname lastname be in the Hall of Fame?) with Yes and No choices, I suspect Babe and others would still be at 100%.

    And I’d really enjoy someone posting an argument for why any of these 15 players should *not* be in the Hall of Fame, with perhaps the exception of Cobb, because I can see some people maintaining that assholes don’t belong in the Hall of Fame.

    • invitro says:

      What if someone believed that the HoF should have 10 players, and that’s it?

    • Ian R. says:

      I can see that. A one guy at each position HoF would leave, among others, Aaron, Musial and Speaker on the outside looking in. Said Hall would look something like this:

      C Bench (or Berra)
      1B Gehrig (or Pujols)
      2B Morgan
      3B Schmidt
      SS Wagner
      LF Williams (or Bonds, depending on how you feel about steroids)
      CF Mays
      RF Ruth
      RHP W. Johnson
      LHP Grove

  10. Devon Young says:

    Personally, I’m still very surprised it’s not 100% for every player. These guys are the locks… the easy picks… the ones every HOF would have without hesitation. Or so I thought when I first saw the poll. I was actually disappointed that it didn’t take any thought to end up picking every player you had listed. I guess I’ll wait for the next poll….

  11. I don’t think there’s a *GOOD* argument for excluding any of these 15, but I could drop Seaver, Mathewson and Maddux by saying that if Clemens isn’t in, pitchers who aren’t as good as him aren’t in. Yes, that would leave me with only one or two pitchers in the Hall, but I could play that game. Likewise, I could drop most of the position players by dropping anyone who wasn’t as good as Bonds.

    Again, I don’t think that’s the point of this exercise, but those two criteria would leave me voting for only about 5 of the 15 names.

  12. Joe,

    Can you address the statement that Mays had more home run power than Williams? I know that Mays ended his career with 660 to Williams’s 521, but he did so in over 3000 more at bats. Williams actually homered at a higher rate, going yard in 6.76% of his at bats to Mays’s 6.07%.

    • adam says:

      I would say it was statistically identical. Mays homered in 5.28% of his plate appearance, Williams in 5.32.

    • Tux says:

      Part of it might be down to the park factors – Polo Grounds were above neutral over the course of the years Mays was patrolling center for the Giants, but when you combine that with Candlestick Park the overall effect Willie’s home parks had on him would slightly deflate his numbers, while during Teddy Ballgame’s career Fenway Park had a sub-1.000 park factor in only one season in which he actually played. If you go year by year, the numbers seem to suggest that Williams played his home games in an environment that had a park factor of approximately 1.09 and Mays played his home games in an environment that had a park factor of approximately 0.99.

      Now, I would take Williams in an all-time draft long before I took Mays – I can find toolsy outfielders who hit for power and get on base (what up, Junior!), but the gap in OPS+ (which does adjust for park factors, I believe) between Williams and Mays is equivalent to the gap between Mays and Paul O’Neill.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Don’t forget that Williams was a lefthanded pull hitter at Fenway. It’s big park in rightfield. So, park effects don’t capture this nuance.

    • Tux says:

      The home run gap between home and away isn’t negligible for Williams, but it’s still not large enough for me to buy the fact that park effects don’t account for that. His career home/road home run split is 248-273, and he actually slugged 37 points higher at home. Right field may be pretty big in Fenway but the park isn’t remotely as bad for homers as a place like Tiger Stadium was.

  13. Ben Wildner says:

    Does anyone else feel a need to not vote for at least one player?

  14. Tux says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Cliff Blau says:

    Mays missed nearly two years to military service (not one), but I don’t believe he was anywhere near fighting in the Korean War as Williams did.

  16. Nobody is ever going to be at 100% on a poll like this because of trolls. There are just plenty of people who will vote no to Babe Ruth, even on a site like this, for no other reason than to f#$k around. To put it another way, I bet there would be a bunch of players at 100% if the poll were actually limited to BRs. But there are plenty of non-BRs clicking on the poll too.

    It’s long been clear to me that Seaver is underappreciated. Ever since Nolan Ryan was voted onto that All-Century team and Tom Seaver wasn’t. There is no reasonable argument that Nolan Ryan was better than Tom Seaver but I think many casual fans think Ryan was better. It’s hard to pinpoint why Seaver is underrated. I think it’s a combination of a number of things. I think part of it may be a backlash to Seaver famously being the closest to 100% in the history of the HOF voting. I believe a lot of fans think “of all the guys, THAT’S the guy that came closest to 100%? Seaver?” I think also, while he may have been famous off the field in his playing days, he’s been out of the baseball limelight for many years. Even when he was announcing for the Yankees, and later the Mets (from which he’s now been retired for years), I don’t get the sense that he popped up much nationally.

    Before the ASG this week, the last time I saw Seaver was for the last game at Shea. In 2008. And I’m a Mets fan. He’s just never around. (He had some Lyme-disease related health problems from which he’s just now recovering. Apparently for a while there was a real scare that he had some kind of neurological condition).

    I also think that Ryan plays into it. Not just that casual fans might think he was better, but also because they came up around the same time (Ryan is 3 years younger but signed out of high school; Seaver went to college), and they were similar type pitchers, big power right-handers who struck out lots of guys. But Seaver was done in the mid 80s and Ryan kept plugging away so much longer. It’s sort of like Ken Griffey Jr. being the second-best left-handed hitter ever born in Donora, PA. “How could Seaver be the greatest? He wasn’t even the best power RHP who came up with the Mets in the 1960s?” That’s wrong of course, but I think people have that thought.

    You mentioned that Seaver has a case as the best pitcher ever, Joe. He does. We know wins are a very rough tool, at best, for measuring pitchers. But I think I read (I believe it was from Bill James) that the difference between Tom Seaver’s winning percentage and the winning percentage of his teams in games that he didn’t pitch is the largest in MLB history. And I believe it’s not run-support related. That is, over the course of his career he didn’t get any more run support than the other starting pitchers on his teams. So from that perspective, Tom Seaver arguably did more to pull his teams to victory than any other pitcher in the history of baseball.

    As I write this, it occurs to me that I might’ve actually read that point about Seaver’s winning percentage here, Joe. If so, I apologize for regurgitating your point.

    I think in the same place I read it, wherever that was, the point was also made about what terrible blunder Frank Cashen made by leaving Seaver unprotected after the 1983 season which enable the White Sox to pluck him away. Seaver could’ve been really helpful to a Mets team that only lost the division by 6 games in 1984 and 3 in 1985. Seaver was 15-11 with a 105 ERA+ in 236 innings in 1984 and 16-11 with a 136 ERA+ !! in 238 innings in 1985. Especially in 1985, that really might have made the difference. I also wonder what if Dwight Gooden had had Tom Seaver around in 1984 and 1985? Who knows if it would’ve made a difference in Dwight’s eventual downfall? But it couldn’t have hurt.

    • invitro says:

      It seems likely that as far as Gooden’s getting injured, using hard drugs, and being overworked from ages 19 to 21, having Seaver as a teammate would have about a 0% chance of hurting, but also a 0% chance of helping.

    • invitro says:

      “It’s long been clear to me that Seaver is underappreciated. Ever since Nolan Ryan was voted onto that All-Century team and Tom Seaver wasn’t.”

      This is the only evidence you give for your claim that Seaver is under-appreciated. It seems pretty slim… do you have any more? At what level do you think Seaver is actually appreciated at, and at what level should he be appreciated at?

    • Ian R. says:

      Seaver has a legitimate case as the best pitcher of all time, but I don’t think he’s often included in that conversation. He’s a bit of a latter-day Lefty Grove.

    • Rob Smith says:

      The comparison between Seaver and Ryan is one sided for Seaver…. and I was an Angels season ticket holder in the 70s. Loved Ryan but he’s nothing close to a Seaver.

    • John Gale says:

      Well, Seaver has the highest Hall of Fame vote percentage in the history of baseball. Hard to call that “under-appreciated.” Obviously, he should have got 100 percent of the votes here. But so should everyone else on the list.

  17. Jason Dennis says:

    Here are reasons that I think people use to not vote for certain players in the first polls:

    Ruth – the story about him using monkey testosterone
    Aaron – greenies

    These two were likely left out by those with the most vigilant views on PEDs. There may be other anecdotes that I do not recall. Maddux may be left out by people who think everyone from the 90s was tainted.

    Cobb, Speaker, Hornsby – racism, pre-integration

    These three are probably getting no votes from moral grandstanders and/or African Americans who know the seedy parts of these players’ biographies. Whiles there is evidence that Cobb was just a run of the mill jerk as opposed to a virulent racist, I think the other two were confirmed KKK members. The reason Speaker is much less than all the other hitters is this, I think. I believe a significant number of readers of this blog have read the biography of Speaker. Also, there is (convincing) statistical evidence that baseball’s overall talent level did not become asymptotic until integration, and so some people may not vote for any pre-integration player.

    I guess by my logic Seaver is the most unexplainable low man. I do think we have a baby boomer bias that overrates players from the 60s-70s a bit, I do sabermetrics and they get squeezed by older and newer players on my rankings (maybe the talent was better b/c baseball was more popular overall, making the players stand out less), but Seaver passes any test and would benefit from that bias.

    Lastly, the post makes the case that Grove may have dominated his era more than any other pitcher. By my calculations, Johnson wins that by a wide margin.

  18. Shawn Weaver says:

    It’s really an intelligence test. If you don’t vote for all of them, you’re an idiot.

    • invitro says:

      Just out of curiosity, how many players are there for which this statement holds true? Obviously, by your logic, there are at least 15 such players. I assume that there are not as many as 1000 players. So who is the best player that someone can vote against and not be an idiot? Rickey Henderson? Roberto Clemente? Phil Rizzuto? Dick Allen?

    • Rob Smith says:

      Dick Allen never got in. Which is insane. I hope the veterans committee some day rights that wrong. Easily the best player not voted in.

    • Ian R. says:

      I’d say that, per bWAR, the best position player who one could vote against and not be an idiot is probably Larry Walker. I’d vote for him, by the way, but I understand his case is borderline.

    • adam says:

      Edgar Martinez and Mariano Rivera also come to mind as great players one could legitimately vote against. Rivera of course will make the HoF, but he also pitched only 70 innings per year. Martinez will probably not make it (As a Mariners fan, I blame the M’s for keeping him in the minors way too long.)

    • Dan Shea says:

      To date, the best player you can vote against and not be an idiot would be Barry Bonds.

      Now, I’m not sure I believe that, but 63.8% of the BBWAA must think so.

  19. @Adam,

    Why would Williams’s superior walk rate be held against him when we’re measuring home run power? HR per at bat is a much better measure than HR per PA, given that plate appearances that end without either player swinging say nothing about their power.

    • adam says:

      Why is HR/AB a much better measure than HR/PA? Doesn’t that depend on what you’re trying to measure?

      AB is an arbitrary denominator that carries over from the days when it was believed that walks were considered a function of a pitcher pitching poorly rather than the skill of the batter. A concept that is demonstrably false.

      A walk is a non-HR outcome. Why wouldn’t that count against someone? “Home run power” is an ambiguous term. It could be measured by how often you HR after walking up to the plate. It could be what % of the time you homer out of the # of times you make contact.

      As for “ending without the player swinging” – you can end an AB without swinging also. Are you saying the statistic that measures home run power should be HR/(PA – BB – HPB – SH – SF – looking strikeouts)?

      In summary, IMHO the numerator and denominator you pick depends on what you are trying to measure. (Numerator does not have to be HR; could be HR distance)

      HR/(PA – BB – HPB – SH – SF) seems arbitrary. I would buy HR/(PA – IBB) though.

      Oh yeah, then there’s park effects and quality of competition so you’ll never really get an objective answer…

    • adam says:

      Another thought, with today’s pitch/FX data, could you measure a player’s ability to HR given the pitch in various locations, speeds, and what the pitch is? That would be interesting. I’m sure several teams do that as part of their internal oppo research. Too bad that can’t be done historically.

  20. The statistic about Hank Aaron that always blows me away is this: He had 5000 more at bats than Babe Ruth. Not 50. Not 500. Not 1000. Five thousand. And he hit about 50 more homers. In 5000 more at bats. That is not impressive to me. How many homers might Babe Ruth have hit, had he not been intentionally walked so many times?

    • excuse me–it was about 4000, not 5000. The actual numbers are:

      Aaron: 12364 AB, 755 HR, .374 OBP
      Ruth: 8399, 714 HR, .474 OBP
      Who would you rather have?

    • Rob Smith says:

      There are lots of counters. Aaron played in a dead ball era. There were night games and the game was integrated with better players. Pitchers threw sliders and all sorts of stuff that didn’t exist in Ruth’s era. No doubt Ruth was the better player historically speaking, but that doesn’t make Aaron’s career and HR total unimpressive.

    • Ian R. says:

      There’s an argument, in fact, that because Aaron played most of his career post-integration but pre-expansion, the opposing talent pool was historically strong.

    • Rob Smith says:

      BTW Johnny Peachpit: if you are old enough to have seen Aaron play, you wouldn’t have made that comment. It really wasn’t that Aaron was a HR hitter, oddly he never thought of himself that way… he just happened to hit the ball so hard that his line drives would get out of the park. But anyway, the guy just crushed the ball. He always hit for a high average, drove in a lot of runs (often on teams that were mediocre) and hit a lot of doubles. The thing about him though, is that he always seemed to come up late in the game with runners on base in THE key situation. Vin Scully used to say something like, “ok folks, winning runs are on, and wouldn’t you know it…. Henry Aaron is coming up”. There was no more feeling of dread than the last five words of Scully’s words. As a kid, it was like, why in the heck is this guy ALWAYS the guy up in these situations?? Scared the heck out of opposing pitchers and fans. There was nobody else like that in his era. Nobody.

  21. BobDD says:

    Re: Ryan and Seaver:

    Ryan’s fame is not about him being the greatest pitcher, but about his speed, strikeouts and longevity as a power pitcher. In that regard he can be compared to Satchel Paige and just maybe Randy Johnson, but in that limited arena Ryan stands out as a giant.

    Seaver (much better than Ryan of course) is being compared against the greatest ever as whether he belongs in that conversation. At the end of his career, his raw stats could not compare with W. Johnson, Alexander, Young or Grove, but his rate stats and supporting data allowed the case to be made. I’m pretty sure the general public did not buy it, and I don’t believe the sabermetrics crowd quite did either; it was enough just to be able to put him in the conversation, but then end up saying he might easily be 3rd or 4th.

    The problems for continuing Seaver in that conversation are IMHO that his prime wasn’t any better than Gibson and Koufax, and that Clemens showed up and appeared to be just a bit better than Seaver in a couple of areas (strikeouts and longevity). Pedro in even more modern era puts up the greatest peak ever, and Randy Johnson being generally equal with Clemens and Seaver. So Seaver just didn’t get time to establish within pop culture that he was the greatest post WWII pitcher. I do not think he is underrated among the sabermetrics crowd (most of us), but in the general population and casual fans, he is the Stan Musial of pitchers as far as reputation, but closer to the absolute top of the pitcher heap than Musial is for position players.

    In some ways I think it is easier for Ryan to maintain his fame, as he continues as the all-time SO pitcher and likely always will, while Seaver is among 10 tall trees in pursuit of greatest ever label: Johnson, Alexander, Young, Grove, Seaver, Clemens, Martinez, Maddux, Johnson, and Paige. In places like here and Baseball Think Factory, Seaver is not left out, but neither is he very often put at the top of the list. Now I will richly enjoy seeing what other pitchers following commentators will say I left out – this could be fun!

  22. RE: Aaron’s Total Bases, if you add Total Bases + Walks then Bonds winds up having more.

  23. Seaver was a very good pitcher, but there wasn’t one thing that made him stand out. He threw hard, had a good slider and had good control, but guys like Ryan threw harder, guys like Carlton had better sliders, and guys like Maddux had better control. He led the league in strikeouts 5 times, wins 3 times, and ERA 3 times, which is excellent, but other pitchers have led the league in those categories more times than that. His post season record is a decent but hardly stellar 3-3 with a 2.77 ERA (Jerry Koosman was actually the Mets best pitcher in October during the Seaver era). His defining trait might have been his intelligence—Bench called him the smartest pitcher he ever caught, able to change speeds on his fastball to keep the hitters off-balance—which is a hard quality to define. As a right-handed power pitcher, he reminds me the most of Roger Clemens, except that Clemens was a little better in every respect (perhaps due to PEDs).

    • Rob Smith says:

      Seaver did have a couple of less than stellar outings in the 69 series against the Orioles (one of which was still a win). But in his final five post season outings he never gave up more than two earned runs. As for Koosman, he had six post season outings for the Mets. On one of those, he gave up six runs. On two occasions he gave up three runs. On three occassions he gave up two, or fewer runs (including a shutout). Very good pitching, but better than Seaver? That’s very questionable based on the actual numbers.

    • Uther says:

      Seaver did have a couple of less than stellar outings in the 69 series against the Orioles (one of which was still a win).

      His second outing against the Orioles he went 10 innings and allowed one run for the win. That’s actually pretty stellar.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Uther: you’re right. One of his less than stellar outings was actually against the Braves in the NLCS (which he nonetheless won). His opening game loss against the Orioles was another poor start, which he lost. After that, he had the outstanding game you reference and then four more great outings.

  24. dbutler16 says:

    It’s no surprise that it’s mostly old timers that went out early. Most people only remember what happened 5 minutes ago, and most won’t bother to do any research. I’m fairly shocked, however, that Tom Seaver went out as early as he did, and that Walter Johnson lasted as long as he did. Like Joe, I thought Willie Mays would finish second.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Don’t forget, however, that everyone easily exceeded the 75% threshold. So, after that, we’re splitting hairs. Don’t forget, even with HOF voters, there are still guys that didn’t vote for Willie Mays or Micky Mantle. That’s just the way it is. There’s always a contrarian. It will be far more interesting to see how the borderline candidates fare, especially compared to HOF voters.

    • dbutler16 says:

      Yes, but that doesn’t make it right. The HOF voters were also wrong not to vote for these guys, let alone Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Willie Mays. How does somebody justify not voting for these guys?

    • Rob Smith says:

      You can’t justify it. It’s pure ignorance, stupidity, or both.

  25. MCD says:

    I think this voting is subject to the same flaws as the real vote, but the with a smaller margin of error due to having the whole population for comparison purposes. It is hard to believe Babe Ruth wouldn’t get 100% of the vote, but no player has ever gotten 100% in the real HOF vote and we are talking about a much smaller number of people to get an actual consensus (and theoretically the BBWAA should be more obligated to avoid submitting an intentional goof ballot and should be more educated on the matter)

    You are always going to have a few people that deem themselves the “keeper of the sanctity of the election”. There is a notion that a player who gets 98% of the vote is an indication that he is better than a player that gets 92% of the vote. But it doesn’t work that way, there are only two choices: yes or no. I think you have some voting “no”, because they feel compelled to “govern the throttle”. You get voters saying all the time “player x should be in, but not on his first ballot”. If *everyone* agreed with that sentiment, a player could receive 0 votes (and therefore removed from future consideration) even though 100% of the voters felt he belong.

  26. purebull says:

    …(blinks)…i guess fame is a bigger component than i thought it’d be in this experiment. roberto clemente and al kaline are just about as even as two great players can possibly be…and, almost exact contemporaries, even. yet…there’s more sentiment voting for clemente than for kaline, by what, about 12%?

    there’s not 12% difference between them, realistically..

  27. Rob Smith says:

    Eddie Collins, and MVP and six Top 5 MVP seasons. Plus 124 WAR. At least look at before voting.

    • Richie says:

      Is he losing votes due to the Black Sox scandal?

      He had 5 seasons of 9+ WAR and 3 more of 7+ WAR!

    • To quote Buck Weaver (or was it John Cusack, I forget), he didn’t even hit his weight in the 1919 World Series.


    • Rob Smith says:

      Sooooooo….we’re using John Cusak movie quotes to decide who should be in the HOF? OK. But even though Collins hit .226 in the 1919 series (more than his weight btw), lifetime in the WS he hit .328 and was the star and best player of four Championship teams. Not enough? Going with the movie quote instead? To each his own, I guess. It’s a blog, so the ignorant still get a vote.

  28. dbutler16 says:

    Pete Alexander only has 79% of the votes? Gee, and here I tought he was one of the top 20 pitchers of all time. I guess I must be wrong.

    • Dan Shea says:

      People might be saving their votes for when Grover Cleveland Alexander shows up on the ballot.

      I think that there will be a fair number of top-20’ers that won’t pass the 75% threshold. Still, going by JAWS, WAR, whatever, Old Pete’s not just a top 20’er, he’s in the top 5 or 6. I thought he was a no-brainer.

    • dbutler16 says:

      I’d definitely have him in my top 10, at least, but was trying to be conservative by saying top 20. Since there are somethign like 75(?) pitchers in the HOF, he should be a no brainer.

    • Rob Smith says:

      People should at least look at before voting if they don’t know who a player is.

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