By In Stuff

Hall of Fame Survey

SURVEY LINK.

I’m mostly out of pocket this week — I’m in Columbus for MAGI FEST, an extremely cool magic festival run in part by my friend Joshua Jay. Hoping to get a lot of great Houdini stuff this week.

Did I mention I’m writing a book on Houdini’s impact on today’s world?

But I’m also working on a massive Hall of Fame project, one that you already aided when you added comments to various Hall of Fame lists I threw together. I’m hoping to have it done next week as I kick off my official start at MLB.com. Exciting.

In any case, as a final thing, I put together a Hall of Fame survey. It should take 5-10 minutes, would love for you to jump in.

I was going to try to actually embed the survey here but it isn’t working — I think I have to install javascript on the site or something — so here is a link for the survey.

Once more: THIS IS THE SURVEY LINK.

Heck, I’ll put it on top too.

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211 Responses to Hall of Fame Survey

  1. Bryan says:

    Only 10 pitchers is a really high standard:

    Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Satchel Paige, Lefty Grove, Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez.

    Nolan has to be better (or more deserving) than at least one of those pitchers as well as Koufax, Carlton, Spahn, every pitcher except Cy who pitched before Walter Johnson and various other candidates. Even if you squeeze Nolan into 10th there is a decent chance he’s just a place-holder until 5 years after Kershaw retires.

    • Rob Smith says:

      I had season tickets for the Angels. If I missed games, it wasn’t when Nolan Ryan was pitching. Heck, he was pretty much the only thing the team had going for it most years. But, I mean, he had a lot of games where he just couldn’t put the ball over the plate. I saw him pitch a no-hitter where he had 8 walks. If a no-hitter can be ugly, that one was ugly. He dominated like nobody else, so yeah, he could be off and still throw a no-hitter. When he was ON, it was awesome. But there is no way in hell he was one of the best 10 pitchers ever. The top pitchers had bad games, but Nolan didn’t just have bad games, he imploded. He had games where it looked like he didn’t belong in the league. And more times than I care to remember. Still…. I say that and I loved watching him. It was never dull.

      • Bryan says:

        According to baseball-reference.com all the pitchers with at least 10 games with both 10+ strikeouts and 5+ walks:
        Nolan 77, Feller 25, McDowell 22, Herb Score 15, Koufax 12, Carlton 12.
        “Peak” Nolan 1972-78 had 61 of those games. The rest of MLB had 53 such games 1972-78. All of MLB had 54 of those games 2000-16.

        • Rob Smith says:

          My family had the tickets from the 60s on (boy were they bad in the 60s and early 70s) and I left for college towards the end of the 1977 season. So, I saw him at his best and his worst. Later in his career he got his command straightened out. That wasn’t the case when I was watching him.

      • Gene says:

        Yes, that’s kind of how I think of Ryan, though I didn’t have nearly as many chances as you to watch him. So one of the top 10 ever? No way.

        But … I’m a big hall guy, and I think the hall ought to have a place for the real freaks and outliers who managed to stick around for a long, long time, and rack up some impressive counting stats, like Ryan did.

        • invitro says:

          One thing that’s funny to me here… I don’t think anyone has said they don’t want Ryan in the HoF. I guess Joe’s thingy will answer that for sure. Maybe many of us wouldn’t have him in our Babe Ruth HoF. But he’s above the average JAWS for SP. You don’t need a big hall to take Ryan… he should fit well in the current one or one a bit smaller. I think there may be a gap… one group says Ryan isn’t in their Babe Ruth HoF, and the other group thinks they’re saying they wouldn’t be in the “regular” HoF.

        • Crazy Diamond says:

          I think much of how people feel about Nolan Ryan will come down to whether they prefer a higher peak or a longer career. Few players had both. I value longevity more than peak, which is why I would vote for Fred McGriff but not Edgar Martinez. Obviously there are extremes and outliers to both sides of that: Koufax and Kiner and Pedro and Campy all had fairly short but great careers and were terrific. Staub and Baines and Moyer and Tommy John all had long careers but shouldn’t be in the HOF. I think Nolan Ryan is a Top-10 pitcher and I think it’s an easy call.

          • Rob Smith says:

            I’m not sure you were going with this, but Ryan had over 20 WAR after age 40 to get him to 83. If he retired after age 39, he’d have been borderline. That, and he started playing in the league full time at age 21, so it’s not like Edgar Martinez, where he got a late start. That makes Ryan a lot closer to compilers like Moyer and John than to short, but high peak guys like Koufax. I’m telling you, I watched the guy pitch. He was awesome. Except when he was really awful.

          • invitro says:

            Ryan is a compiler. The ultimate compiler is probably considered to be Rose. Rose’s best league ranks in WAR (position players): 3, 3, 5, 6, 6. Ryan’s best league ranks in pitcher WAR: 2, 3, 4, 5, 5. Pretty much the same.

          • invitro says:

            I tried to think of another compiler pitcher… I thought of Don Sutton. His pitcher’s WAR league ranks: 2, 3, 5, 9. Ouch. Worse than Ryan’s. But he pitched 23 seasons, mostly for the #2 most famous team in baseball. (I’ve always thought Sutton was a borderline HoFer at best, but he never seems to come up in these kinds of convos, I don’t think he was in Joe’s survey, so I think it’s probably just me. I know I’m biased… I didn’t care for him on the Braves’ broadcasts.)

          • Crazy Diamond says:

            Rob: did you ever see Nolan Ryan pitch by any chance? Just wondering.

    • invitro says:

      And I know he’s talked about below, but you must have missed Alexander. πŸ˜‰

  2. PhilM says:

    I like a baker’s dozen, which happens to cover nearly every year of baseball history 1882-2009 (except 1966 and maybe a WWII year or two):

    Young, Cy
    Johnson, Walter
    Nichols, Kid
    Clemens, Roger
    Alexander, Pete
    Maddux, Greg
    Grove, Lefty
    Mathewson, Christy
    Clarkson, John
    Johnson, Randy
    Keefe, Tim
    Seaver, Tom
    Spahn, Warren

    Cut off the bottom three if you only want 10. No Satchel Paige nor Smokey Joe Williams, I admit, but I don’t know how best to include them.

    • PhilM says:

      Actually, these fellas cover 1880 (Tim Keefe) through 2009 (Big Unit) without 1966 and 1943-1945 while Spahn was in the military.

      • PhilM says:

        And these also happen to be the top 13 all-time according to JAWS, though in a different order: it’s well-nigh impossible to balance “peak” with “career,” but we have to try. . . .

    • JGZ says:

      You have Seaver way too low. Sorry. I firmly believe he was *at least* the equivalent of pre-ped Clemens. And John Clarkson…really?

    • SDG says:

      It’s tough. You want to get different eras. Without looking, I’d say, Walter Johnson, Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Bob Feller, Bob Gibson, Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Tom Seaver, Rube Waddell. I don’t know enough about the Negro Leagues to say with confidence who the best pitchers were although, like everyone else, I expect Paige is up there. I’m not including relievers. And I’m about high peak.

      I do seem to be biased to modern players, though. Maybe because pitching is harder now.

    • SDG says:

      I’d disagree with most of these, but I guess it depends how much you think the deadball era overrates pitchers vs how much having to complete every game and having more IP hurts them.

      • Crazy Diamond says:

        I think Nolan Ryan is, in many ways, underrated by the sabermetrics community.

        • Rob Smith says:

          That’s because you didn’t watch him pitch. I had season tickets & saw almost every start for about six years. He was awesome. But he had some really terrible games where he couldn’t get the ball over the plate. At this point in time, it’s all the legend of Nolan Ryan. All the rough edges and terrible performances have been sanitized. Most dominant starting pitcher? yes. Top 10 all time? No way.

          • Crazy Diamond says:

            Rob: So you’re saying the “most dominant starting pitcher” is NOT in the Top 10 of all-time? That seems a little odd. Very few pitchers were always great. Koufax had a blah start to his career, Maddux had a rough first two years with a 6-14 record and 5.61 ERA in his second year, and Randy Johnson was completely mediocre for his first 4 full years, and on and on it goes. ALL players had warts and I think people simply choose to discount Nolan Ryan’s greatness. I don’t think he was a Top-5 pitcher of all-time but I do think he firmly belongs in the Top-10.

          • Crazy Diamond says:

            Also, the “you had to see him pitch” argument is the same thing that so many people said about Jack Morris. It’s an ineffective argument at best.

          • Rob Smith says:

            What I’m saying is that, said simply, he averaged 5 walks a game for his career and closer to 6 walks early on. He improved his control later on, but was less dominant. There are also the park effects. He pitched in Angel Stadium before they moved the fences in. He then pitched in the Astrodome. After that, he pitched in old Arlington Stadium which was known for a prevailing wind that blew in & knocked down flyballs. Great for a flyball pitcher like Ryan. In short, he pitched in extreme pitchers parks for his entire career.

            Then, look at his ERA+ and WAR which adjust for park and era. His career ERA+ is 112 and WAR is 82. When you compare guys like Maddux (career ERA+ 132, 104 WAR) and Randy Johnson (career ERA+ 135, 104 WAR) you’re talking about a completely different zip code of pitchers. Yeah, I watched Ryan and Maddux and Johnson (Ryan played before games were nationally televised often, where my seeing him in person made a difference)…. but I also just quoted you some key numbers. There is no way, no way, that Nolan Ryan should be compared, in any way, to Gregg Maddux and Randy Johnson. And I’m not even going to talk about the Cy Young awards.

          • Crazy Diamond says:

            I appreciate your response, Rob! But you prove my point by using almost exclusively the “modern” stats: the sabermetrics group underrates him. As far awards, I think that’s a bit silly. Many awesome players never won major awards: Ott, Jeter, Murray, Matthews, Gwynn, Winfield, even Edgar Martinez and Tim Raines. Everyone here is saying that Nolan is a no-doubt HOFer and that’s awesome =) I just think he’s underrated, much the same way that I think Hank Aaron is, at times, underrated. Henry was a compiler of sorts, too, and he’s rarely mentioned in the same breath as Ruth, Mays, Williams, etc.

          • invitro says:

            “Henry was a compiler of sorts, too, and he’s rarely mentioned in the same breath as Ruth, Mays, Williams, etc.” — Well, Aaron and Mays were almost exact contemporaries, and played in the same league, so it should be easy to compare them. How many years was Aaron better than Mays, and vice-versa? If you check, I’ll bet you find out that Mays was better in far more seasons. That’s one reason why Aaron probably doesn’t deserve to be mentioned with the other three guys.

  3. steve says:

    Was it cheating to look up statistics? Sometimes you said not to, but other times it seemed to be reader’s choice. I looked up three or four when forced to make a choice between players who I remember as “similar”. “Similar” meaning they all seem equally faded in my memory (the not Top 10 Famous Ballplayers).
    I’m curious how casual fans respond differently from the fans who live and die baseball and how both categories of fans are different from the “professionals” who do the actual HoF voting.
    And I imagine the big vs small Hall fans vote differently. (Unless we are as inconsistent on this survey as many of us are on political surveys!)

    • Bryan says:

      I think many of the names will largely highlight if a bronze plaque actually confers fame, will the actual Hall of Famers rise up because people recognize Joss or Lemon and without looking up stats be more likely to check the box next to their name even when there is a decent chance that a bunch of people taking the survey have little to no knowledge of the careers of those players.
      It would have been interesting to see how close the support would have been for Mordecai Brown and Three Fingers Brown if both had been listed as options.

    • DB says:

      Do not think so because Joe specifically had questions where he said to not do research. There it would be cheating. So much of this will be big vs small Hall. I could not believe that something like 13% did not think that Boggs was a Hall of Famer. That is a pretty small Hall

      • Mike says:

        If someone looked up stats for a question where Joe said not to, should that vote count? Or should the vote count with a caveat that the person cheated?

        • DB says:

          I was wondering whether to add that joke and say it was Manny versus Barry test but then Joe does not seem to have that big of a discount for Manny either. So I guess cheating goes and all results are final and valid unless you are a Sosa supporter πŸ˜‰

      • SDG says:

        Or it’s just very casual fans who didn’t follow baseball when Boggs was playing. He was never a flashy HR record guy. Some people might see him as a compiler. If you go by name recognition I can see where people just recognize the name from The Simpsons and move on.

      • MikeN says:

        Boggs looks better now with his OBP numbers.

    • anonymous says:

      I think probably 85% of the questions basically boil down to (A) small hall versus big hall and (B) stats versus memory/reputation. Personally I voted to let in just about everyone except Charlie Gehringer, and that had more to do with me forgetting who he was.

    • Nick S. says:

      I looked up the players’ records as often as the questions didn’t disallow it, because I would absolutely do research if I had an actual vote.

  4. MikeN says:

    One quibble with the quiz, I didn’t know if Robbie Alomar is the one who got in recently or a different family member.

  5. Wes Tovich says:

    Nice to see nods to Hoyt, Simmons, Bancroft, Averill, Eppa Rixey. Rixey isn’t really a Hof nor Hoyt. Simmons is a slam dunk, and Averill’s fine. Bancroft didn’t do it long enough.

  6. PJS says:

    Dang, I threw out Paul Waner, which I shouldn’t have. I was thinking of Lloyd. Speaking of Paul Waner, here’s my favorite baseball trivia question: Who was a teammate of Paul Waner and Tug McGraw?

  7. invitro says:

    Speaking of HoF s*rv*ys… I never followed up on that s*rv*y of BR’s on the 2017 HoF ballot. 15 BR’s voted… here are the results. If you didn’t vote and want to, make your picks in a reply to this comment, and I’ll retabulate. πŸ™‚

    Tim Raines 93%
    Jeff Bagwell 87%
    Mike Mussina 87%
    Ivan Rodriguez 80%

    Curt Schilling 73%
    Barry Bonds 67%
    Edgar Martinez 67%
    Larry Walker 67%
    Roger Clemens 60%
    Vladimir Guerrero 60%
    Manny Ramirez 33%
    Trevor Hoffman 20%
    Jeff Kent 13%
    Gary Sheffield 7%
    Fred McGriff 7%
    Lee Smith 7%
    Jorge Posada 7%
    Edgar Renteria 7%

    • invitro says:

      (The *’s are here because apparently the message board program doesn’t like that word. πŸ™‚ )

      • Karyn says:

        It doesn’t like the word ‘survey’?

        • Karyn says:

          I did not mean that to be snarky, I was mostly testing it. Seemed like an odd word to filter out. I have no idea why it wouldn’t post for you.

          • invitro says:

            Maybe it doesn’t like it twice. I’m too lazy to test it… I do know that it wouldn’t post without the *’s :). I don’t know any other word that blocks a post, so maybe there was just a momentary glitch.

    • Chris says:

      These would be my picks:

      Barry Bonds
      Roger Clemens
      Jeff Bagwell
      Ivan Rodriguez
      Curt Schilling
      Edgar Martinez
      Tim Raines
      Mike Mussina
      Vladimir Guerrero
      Larry Walker

      Trevor Hoffman never seemed that dominant to me, and Fred McGriff would be on the cusp, along with Gary Sheffield. I would vote Lee Smith in before Trevor Hoffman though.

  8. Gerry says:

    Beleive it would be great for the HoF to go through a recalibration exercise of the current members and populate the Hall by tiers. There be be a vote by fans, or current voters, of the current membership to determine tier status. In fairness, no current members should be voted out.

    This would seem to satisfy those who prefer a big Hall or a small one as it makes a distinction between say Willie Mays and Kirby Puckett. Mays would reside at the top of the pyramid with Puckett as part of the broader base of players who were great but simply not extraordinary.

    Voting could be done by era as this would help normalize the statistics that largely drive debates on worthiness and ranking. Each tier would be clearly defined (the Bill James methodology would be a great starting point) and placement in the appropriate tier would be based on % of votes received.

    Think this would increase conversation about baseball and celebrate the history of the game and its best players. Admittedly, this is not a fully thought out proposal, just a starting point for discussion. The Hall has been around since 1936(?) and a binary measurement of players (HoF/non-HOF) was ok because the population was relatively small. 80+ years have come and gone and it seems as though some sort of segmentation is necessary to reaffirm the unquestioned greatness of elite players while still acknowledging the terrific play of star players.

    • Patrick says:

      This always seems like a solution in search of a problem. Fans who care about this sort of thing already make that distinction themselves. The rest of them don’t care that Puckett and Mays are grouped together.

      • Gerry says:

        You could probably make that comment after every post listed here. Part of the fun of baseball is the discussion and friendly arguments about players. Regrettably, it is becoming more fun than the actual games. They are far too long with too much emphasis on rote tactics, disguised as strategy, instead of featuring the talent of the players.

        This is a shame because the talent level is so high. The tactics also lead down the road of increased specialization which often pigeonholes players at a far too early age.

        • invitro says:

          I certainly agree that games are too long, although since I don’t really watch a game without doing something else, it doesn’t affect me all that much. I hope the fans can pressure MLB to cut down on the unnecessary time-wasting (time for ads is necessary).

          I like specialization, and it seems there’s far less of it than there was in the 1970’s & 1980’s. Then, teams had special baserunners, a special slugger or two, some slick non-hitting fielders. It seems like there’s less of those now… am I right? Oh, I see… there’s definitely more specialization now in pitching. I don’t care for that because it slows down the game too much. But I do like the batters/fielders with one special skill.

          • Gerry says:

            Specialization with pitching (match ups) is a plague. Part of me appreciates specialization of full time players because it optimizes skill level. But I always thought part of the charm of baseball was that we could see players warts during the game and you had to make a decision if Dave Kingman’s bat outweighed his fiel
            ding issues.

            It would have been a great pleasure to see Dave Kingman try to catch a Dave Kingman pop up. Think there would be a better chance if him being a shape shifter than actually making the catch.

      • Crazy Diamond says:

        I agree with Patrick: fans know the difference between Puckett and Mays, so why change anything?

        • Gerry says:

          Because as the Hall becomes more populated it should seem to be important to distinguish or else the Hall serves as a common denominator. The truly great should be recognized as such. i’m sure there are 10 year olds who don’t know the difference between the two.

          It’s really not a major think but would also bring some much needed attention to the history of the game.

          • Patrick says:

            “The truly great should be recognized as such. ”

            The truly great *are* recognized as such: That’s why they’re in the Hall of Fame.

            We don’t award Pedro Martinez an extra special Cy Young award just because his 2000 season was a historically great one and Jack McDowell’s 1993 season was kind of meh. We don’t award special batting titles to guys who hit over .350.

          • Gerry says:

            Sorry but still disagree. The Hall isn’t about a singular achievement or season. It’s about recognition of sustained excellence. It’s why Norm Cash isn’t in the Hall because every season wasn’t 1961. That doesn’t mean I’m right, it’s just my opinion.

            Part of it is sentimental as would like for guys like Aaron, Mays etc receive new recognition for their achievements. As great as DiMaggio was, the memory of his accomplishments fades.

          • Patrick says:

            “Part of it is sentimental as would like for guys like Aaron, Mays etc receive new recognition for their achievements”

            I mean, I’m really just not sure what new recognition Hank Aaron needs. He’s in the Hall of Fame, something about 1% of baseball players ever have accomplished. MLB created the Hank Aaron award in 1999. He was named to the all-century team. He’s got an exhibit in the Hall of Fame.

            There are a lot of things baseball does poorly, but failing to recognize it’s all-time greats from the past is not one of them.

  9. Jeff Bullington says:

    Two observations:

    I think Ryan learned to somewhat harness the wildness (he sill had above-average walk rates) around the time he signed with Houston. Maybe it had something to do with changing leagues. Remember, back the, AL umpires still wore the balloon protectors and set up above the catcher while NL umps didn’t and set up more inside. Just a random thought. I’m a Ryan fan (Texan, dontchaknow)but I think he has been both overrated by his supporters and underrated by his naysayers.

    Given the increased scrutiny of today’s voters, what are the chances Koufax would be considered a no-doubt HOFer if he were to have played and hit the ballot in the last decade? The short career didn’t allow him to compile traditional HOF numbers. Only 176 wins and his 131 ERA+ ranks 36th all-time. Would the six-year peak from 1961-1966 be enough for today’s voter. I know several of the BRs here are big on peak but my feeling is the BBWAA as a group maybe is more geared to longevity.

    Just some thoughts. I obviously think they both belong easily.

    • KHAZAD says:

      You can watch next year as a pitcher with a quite similar career, though a tad short of Koufax, falls of the ballot the first year. Seriously, if you add one more dominant year, Johan Santana IS Koufax.

      But Koufax was a legend, playing on the Dodgers when they were darlings of the media – and the media made the stars. He also pitched (well) in four World Series and the team won three titles, after two of which he won MVP. Santana had his dominant years for the Twins.

      One more great year and post season heroics might make the difference for some, causing them to want Koufax in and keep Santana out, but it doesn’t make the difference between a first ballot guy and a guy who will struggle to get 5% of the vote. Johan Santana was the best pitcher in baseball for three years in 2004 to 2006, winning two Cy Youngs and getting outright robbed of a third one.

  10. Nick S. says:

    For me, the hardest decision was: Kirby Puckett, In/Out. Ultimately I chose to put him in my HOF because of his black ink–he was all over the leader boards during his best years and that put him over the top. I guess that means I somewhat favor peak vs career performance. Who knew?

  11. Crazy Diamond says:

    I LOVE the surveys that Joe does! They’re endlessly entertaining for me, so THANK YOU Joe =) I can’t wait to see the results and conclusions Joe comes to based on these answers!

  12. Crazy Diamond says:

    By the way, I think Jim Rice and Orlando Cepeda both should be kicked out. But I think Dawson belongs. I wish Joe would’ve had more options for that Q. I didn’t want to lose Dawson by selecting “all 3 should be out” so what’s a guy to do?

  13. MikeN says:

    Who belongs in the top tier of the Hall of Fame? Creme de la Creme

    • Karyn says:

      Rotation:
      Cy Young
      Walter Johnson
      Roger Clemens
      Greg Maddux
      Randy Johnson

      Closer: Mo Rivera

      1B Stan Musial
      2B Rogers Hornsby
      3B Mike Schmidt
      SS Honus Wagner

      LF Barry Bonds
      CF Wille Mays
      RF Babe Ruth

      Utility Infielder: Alex Rodriguez
      Corner Infielder: Eddie Mathews
      OF: Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron

      Still time to judge: Pujols, Trout, Kershaw

      • Karyn says:

        Holy crap, I’m tired, I forgot catcher!
        C: Johnny Bench
        Backup C: Gary Carter

        • invitro says:

          You’ve got 22 players… I’m dying to make it 25. I like all 22 except Kershaw, so I’m dropping him. We need a backup 2B so I’ll add my fantasy hero Eddie Collins. The rest are pitchers: Tom Seaver, Lefty Grove, Pete Alexander. Now we’ve got a team!

          • invitro says:

            And if our league does drug testing, we’ll have to replace Bonds, Clemens, and ARod with Oscar Charleston, Cal Ripken, and Satchel Paige… πŸ™‚

          • Crazy Diamond says:

            Oh cmon you guys forgot Christy Mathewson! Hmm. This might be a fun thing to do…let me try my hand at it!

          • invitro says:

            Yeah, Mathewson should replace Maddux.

          • invitro says:

            Scratch my remark about Mathewson. Too much dead ballers. Maybe Robin Roberts.

          • Ed says:

            No Pedro?? I guess it depends on if we are talking about overall career value or peak — I think Pedro is the best pitcher in baseball history at his peak.

          • Crazy Diamond says:

            It’s interesting how most of our lineups are pretty similar. The Top 15 players ever – in some order or another – are pretty much agreed upon by most people, it seems.

          • Karyn says:

            Reply to invitro at the top of this discussion: I didn’t really mean to include those three at the bottom as the best of the best, merely state that they aren’t done yet, and might still become part of that discussion.

          • invitro says:

            “those three at the bottom” — Gotcha. I guess I made my own assumption that they would be on the team… I assumed Pujols would already be in, but his numbers aren’t quite there. I assumed Trout would match the others’ WAR7 if he kept on for a couple of years, but he looks a little short, too, in CF anyway. This is a tough team to make.

      • Crazy Diamond says:

        Karyn (and Mike) – GREAT IDEA!

        My All-Time 25 Man Roster:

        Rotation:
        Cy Young
        Walter Johnson
        Christy Mathewson
        Greg Maddux
        Warren Spahn
        Closer: Mo Rivera
        C. Johnny Bench
        1B Lou Gehrig
        2B Rogers Hornsby
        3B Mike Schmidt
        SS Honus Wagner
        LF Hank Aaron
        CF Wille Mays
        RF Babe Ruth
        DH Frank Thomas
        Backup Catcher: Yogi Berra
        Utility Infielder: Eddie Collins, Ernie Banks
        Corner Infielder: George Brett
        OF: Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle, Ken Griffey Jr.
        Swingman: Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan

        • invitro says:

          Every team that plays your team will be doing anything they can to make you put Ryan in the game. πŸ™

          • Crazy Diamond says:

            I know Pete Alexander and a handful of others would’ve been better picks than Nolan…but I just like the guy, ya know? Nolan Ryan was tough, was a no-BS type of guy, and there was something endearing about him. So I admit he’s a sentimental choice, as is Ernie Banks (Joe Morgan would’ve been a better pick). But hey it’s all in good fun =)

          • Rob Smith says:

            Back to our discussion above. I LOVED Nolan Ryan. He was a guy that I looked forward to watching every time he pitched. I loved that he dominated and was tough as nails. I’m glad he’s a HOFer. But sentimentality doesn’t make him a Top 10 pitcher. We have to step back and objectively admit the warts that he had.

        • Bryan says:

          Ted Williams is a pretty good DH.

          • invitro says:

            Oops, we all forgot about Ted. πŸ™ I’ll kick out Aaron and Pujols, and replace them with Ted and Gehrig. Big improvement!

          • Crazy Diamond says:

            Whoops! Replace Griffey (or Mantle) with Ted Williams. Really, Tris Speaker should be on the team, too, but any All-Time Team without Mantle on it seems a little hollow for me.

      • PhilG says:

        Love the all-time teams! Here’s my crack at it, with handedness included:

        Starting Lineup:
        2B: L. Eddie Collins
        LF: L. Barry Bonds
        CF: R. Willie Mays
        RF: L. Babe Ruth
        C: R. Josh Gibson
        DH: L. Ted Williams
        1B: L. Lou Gehrig
        3B: R. Mike Schmidt
        SS: R. Honus Wagner

        Bench:
        C: R. Johnny Bench
        IF: S. Ozzie Smith
        IF: R. Jackie Robinson
        OF: L. Ichiro Suzuki
        OF: R. Hank Aaron

        Pitching Staff:
        SP: R. Walter Johnson
        SP: L. Lefty Grove
        SP: R. Bob Gibson
        SP: L. Randy Johnson
        SP: R. Tom Seaver
        Swing: R. Pedro Martinez
        Long Relief: R. Hoyt Wilhelm
        LOOGY: L. Billy Wagner
        Setup: R. Goose Gossage
        Setup: L. Aroldis Chapman
        Closer: R. Mariano Rivera

        • invitro says:

          You’re throwing runs in the toilet by batting Teddy that low and Willie that high ;).

          • PhilG says:

            Yeah it almost definitely doesn’t maximize runs. My thinking for the lineup was to break up the lefty/righty splits, as well as to group the speedier guys together if there was ever a need to play small ball. Then again, the likelihood of needing to scrape an extra run over in the late innings is pretty darned unlikely with this team. πŸ™‚

            Take two on the lineup:

            Collins (L)
            Bonds (L)
            Williams (L)
            Ruth (L)
            Gibson (R)
            Gehrig (L)
            Schmidt (R)
            Mays (R)
            Wagner (R)

            This is theoretically a much easier lineup to manage against in regards to platoon splits. I’m not sure how much it would help an opposing team minimize the damage with these folks. πŸ™‚

        • truebloo says:

          I think one key omission in these starting lineups is the manager. Willie Mays, for example, might be the leadoff hitter to someone like LaRussa, who would have him steal more bases (kind of a super-sized helping of Henderson πŸ™‚ Some managers would sub out Ruth in the late innings, etc…

      • MikeN says:

        How many are in the Hall of Fame total. Because I feel 22 is too high.

        • Bryan says:

          249 elected as players including the 2017 class.

          • Karyn says:

            If the Hall of Fame is meant to eb the top 1% of players–I’m not sure if I buy that completely, but it’s a useful starting point–then ten percent of that probably isn’t too high.
            The OP didn’t really state the parameters for what they felt the creme de la creme is. Ten players? Five? Ten fielders and ten pitchers? It was unclear, so I went with what felt good to me.

        • MikeN says:

          I am thinking in terms of Bill Simmons Pyramid with 5 tiers, so the top would be very exclusive.
          With 250 total, I think even 20 is too many, but it’s too hard to narrow it down. When I did the Willie Mays Hall of Fame, my list was almost 60.

      • Gerry says:

        Taking a slightly different approach. Only players from 1950 on since I’ve seen them play and most at their peak. Also, bench players will be guys that typically filled that role during the start or played multiple positions during their career and might be inclined to fill the role.
        C: Johnny Bench
        Rick Dempsey, Gene Tenace
        IB: Pujols
        2B: Joe Morgan
        3B: Brett
        SS: Ozzie
        Utility: Zobrist, Darrell Evans, Roy McMillan
        LF: Teddy
        CF: Willie
        RF: Henry
        Reserve: Coco Crisp, Willie Wilson
        SP: Seaver
        Unit
        Pedro
        Gibson
        Maddox
        Pen: John Hiller, Goose, Mike Stanton, Dick Hall
        Closer: Mo

        If there is a DH, swap out Yaz for Coco

        • KHAZAD says:

          This idea is going to going to make me make a bunch of lists, which I will not burden you all with. I have toyed with making an all time list here and there, but it has always been hard for me comparing players of different eras. I am going to try to come up with a team from every era of baseball, the only question is how to make the eras. (I have already decided that if a player bridges two eras to put him in the era his peak is in)

          Just off the top of my head Era one will be up to 1919, era two will be 1920-1946 (The beginning of the live ball era until integration) era three will be 1947 to 1968 (Integration until the lowering of the mound and the beginning of divisional play), era four will be 1969 to 1986, era 5 1987-2005 (Steroid era). I may not make a team yet for era 6,but that would be 2006 until now and includes the near future.

          • Karyn says:

            I think it would be pretty tough to make that Era 6 list. Not enough perspective.

          • Gerry says:

            Believe your logic and cutoffs make a lot of sense. It’s impossible to compare eras. We all tend to think of baseball as a traditional, stable game but look at some of the changes that have occurred that have significantly altered the game.

            Integration, night baseball, fielding gloves, lowering the mound, modify the strike zone, DH, artificial turf. This doesn’t even include healthcare changes such as contact lenses. If Mark McGwire were born 30 years earlier, he would be the top slugger in his local beer league and not have 500+ MLB home runs.

          • KHAZAD says:

            Karen, maybe I will live long enough to be able to make an era 6 team.

            I have decide to start era 6 in 2005, because that is when testing began, and also because I discovered the “steroid era” has by far the most MLB team years in it, despite being shorter. I also decided to go with what era a player mainly played in (while still considering his entire career for inclusion.) For instance, Ted Williams will be in Era 4, where the bulk of his career lies, despite the fact that his top years were in era 3. (If he had played the three years he missed for WWII, it would probably swing the balance to era 3)

      • murr2825 says:

        With all due respect, Karyn (I always like your comments), you have to wedge Lou Gehrig in there.

        • Karyn says:

          Man, I tried, but Stan Musial was clearly better, and I figured you can teach Mathews to play first better than you can teach the Iron Horse to play third.

          • invitro says:

            “Stan Musial was clearly better” — Say what? Musial: 128.1 WAR in 22 seasons, WAR7 = 64.2, OPS+ = 159, .742 playoff OPS. Gehrig: 112.4 WAR in 17 seasons, WAR7 = 67.7, OPS+ = 179, an unfathomable 1.214 playoff OPS. GEHRIG was clearly better. Did you get the names backwards by mistake?

          • Karyn says:

            I didn’t include playoff stats, and I looked at more than hitting.

          • invitro says:

            Well, Stan is on my team too… he can start at 1B when Lou decides he needs a day off. πŸ˜‰

          • Karyn says:

            Gehrig need a day off? Bite your tongue!

          • KHAZAD says:

            “I looked at more than hitting”

            Have you found some kind of evidence that Musial was a better first baseman than Gehrig? Existing evidence suggests that while neither was great, Gehrig was a better first baseman as well. It can’t be handedness, as you only have one lefty in your lineup, it certainly can’t be durability or character. Gehrig is clearly better in every way I can think of.
            Are you a cardinal fan? That is the only reason I can think of for having the opinion that Musial was “Clearly better.” An all time great? Yes. But Somewhere clearly below Gehrig.

    • invitro says:

      OK, I re-did mine. Starting lineup:
      2B Rogers Hornsby
      LF Ted Williams
      RF Babe Ruth
      1B Lou Gehrig
      CF Willie Mays
      SS Honus Wagner
      3B Mike Schmidt
      C Johnny Bench
      SP Walter Johnson

      Pitching staff after Walter:
      SP Lefty Grove
      SP Randy Johnson
      SP Cy Young
      SP Bob Gibson
      CP Mo Rivera
      RP Robin Roberts
      RP Grover Cleveland Alexander
      RP Tom Seaver
      RP Satchel Paige

      Bench:
      2B Eddie Collins
      OF/1B Stan Musial
      CF Ty Cobb
      OF Oscar Charleston
      SS/3B Cal Ripken
      C Gary Carter
      CF Mickey Mantle

      • Crazy Diamond says:

        Crap, Ripken would’ve been a great choice, too. And Charleston, you sneaky devil, that’s smart! But Robin Roberts? I think he’s your Nolan Ryan (weak spot) of the staff, my friend.

        • invitro says:

          I agree that Robin is the weak spot. I was thinking about what Bryan and maybe some others were saying about the deadball era, and innings, and I couldn’t sort it out in my head, so I decided to just try to smooth the pitchers out across baseball history a bit. There’s a wide gap between all-time great pitchers in the 1950’s. I wanted someone from that time, and the contenders are Robin, Spahn, and Feller (1st half of 1950’s). Robin has the highest WAR7 so I went with him. I might take one of the others tomorrow… πŸ™‚

        • invitro says:

          And I put Oscar in there because Bill James put him around #4 all-time (all players) in the Historical Abstract, IIRC. I don’t know anything about the Negro Leaguers other than general reputation, but having two of them seems about right.

      • JGZ says:

        Here’s my lineup (with DH, so I can get another bat) and rest of my 25 man team

        LF Henderson
        2B Morgan
        DH Williams
        RF Ruth
        CF Mays
        1B Gehrig
        C Berra
        3B Schmidt
        SS Wagner

        Starters: Johnson, Grove, Seaver, Pedro, Maddux
        Relievers: Mo, Wagner, Goose, Eck
        Spot Starter/Longman: Randy Johnson, Satch

        Bench: Bench, Cobb, Trout, Ripken, Hornsby

        (Yes, leaving Bonds and Clemens off was intentional. Sorry, just couldn’t bring myself to add them. I don’t care, really, what the BBWAA or HOF ever do…if they get in, fine. Just not on my team!)

        • invitro says:

          Quick comment if you don’t mind… Berra is a much, much weaker hitter than Schmidt or Wagner were, and really needs to hit last if you’re starting him. πŸ™‚ And Gehrig was miles better as a hitter than Mays was… in fact, Morgan was far worse as a hitter than the rest of the lineup other than Berra, so you might want to think about batting him higher than 8th :).

          • invitro says:

            Ack, Henderson is also down there… he, Berra, and Morgan are below 130 OPS+, while the rest are over 150. I know OPS underrates OBP in a bad way but all the other guys are all-time OPS’ers except Mays & Schmidt… anyway. πŸ™‚

          • JoeZ says:

            Those were, actually, issues that I pondered, but ultimately decided:
            1. I wanted Morgan, his on-base percentage and speed, at the top of the line-up between Henderson and Williams. I seriously thought of batting him 9th, and moving Wagner up, but you can see where I eventually landed.

            2. Flip-flopping Mays and Gehrig — I deliberately separated Gehrig and Ruth, as I didn’t want anyone to think I’m a Yankee fan, simply copying Miller Huggins and Joe McCarthy. (I’m a die-hard Mets fan….)

            3. I did not want to bat Berra last; wanted someone who could otherwise be a lead-off hitter 9th. And, to me, Schmidt and Berra is a coin flip.

            4. Thanks for the reply. I love these conversations.

  14. Rick Rodstrom says:

    When you’re doing an overview of who belongs in the Hall, one of the things that jumps out at you is the way certain players tell the story of baseball, and how they really shine out compared to the compilers. The most obvious example of this Jackie Robinson. Sure he was a fine player, but you can’t tell the story of baseball without Jackie Robinson. Billy Herman was also a fine second baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers, one who accumulated more hits and such than Robinson, but you could tell the story of baseball without Billy Herman and you wouldn’t lose a thing. Iron Man McGinnity, Home Run Baker, Burleigh Grimes, Lou Brock, Nolan Ryan—some may think of these as marginal Hall of Famers, but they help illuminate the game in ways that other players with sturdier resumes do not, and this aspect is just as Hall of Fame worthy as numbers generated by an algorithm.

    In that spirit, here are my 10 pitchers for the Hall of Fame, starting in the modern era, post 1900. I don’t necessarily think they are the 10 “best” pitchers (though some of them have a claim to that nebulous title), but I think they are representative of different aspects of the game in ways that fulfill the mission of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown to tell the story of baseball.

    Cy Young
    Ed Walsh
    Walter Johnson
    Satchel Paige
    Bob Feller
    Hoyt Wilhelm
    Sandy Koufax
    Nolan Ryan
    Roger Clemens
    Mariano Rivera

    • Shonepup says:

      Why doesn’t Pete Alexander (aka Grover Cleveland) get more love in lists like this and those above? He had a combination of incredible longevity plus some insane peak season (nearly 13 WAR one year, two others over 10!), plus there are some awesome stories about him out there. Yet he’s rarely, if ever, mentioned when people talk and write about the greatest pitchers ever. Why is that?

      • invitro says:

        PhilM included Pete in his short list above, and I did too :). I’m not sure if your claim is true… I do know that I remember reading all kinds of stuff about Alexander from when I was a boy and reading my first baseball books, and he was often or always included in the best-of-the-best way back then (1970’s/80’s). I think the pitching trinity back then was Cy, Walter, and Pete (though I think he wasn’t called “Pete” so much then?), with Lefty Grove not mentioned so much… I remember being a little older when I learned about him. Hey, it’s just my memories talkin’! πŸ™‚

      • Rick Rodstrom says:

        Pete was a control artist a la Greg Maddux. It’s a little harder to get a handle on him than the flamethrowers like Walter Johnson.

        • SDG says:

          I like control artists better than flamethrowers, although I get what I personally like isn’t objective criteria.

          It should be irrelevant, though. It doesn’t matter HOW you get outs and avoid putting men on base, just that you do it. Doing it at 80mph doesn’t make you a worse pitcher than if you do it at 105mph and Hoffman may well turn out to have a better career than Aroldis Chapman.

          • Rick Rodstrom says:

            One of the benefits of modern media is the ability to see a master craftsman in action, whereas in the old days all you had is stats. For a guy like Greg Maddux, the numbers tell you he didn’t strike out a ton of guys and walked almost nobody, but by watching him pitch, you came to appreciate his greatness, the way he set up batters, so that he could throw a ball at a left-handed batter’s hip to get him to flinch as it cut back over the inside corner. Pete Alexander’s like that too, not a ton of strikeouts, no walks, but we don’t have videos of him pitching, so although we know he was a great pitcher, we don’t exactly know why, whereas it’s easy to imagine Walter Johnson throwing a high hard one past a helpless hitter.

      • Bryan says:

        By the end of the 1935 season, using the founding of the Hall of Fame as a cut-off and requiring at least 1 pitching WAR per 40 IP to place more emphasis on quality as volume alone can get you a pretty high WAR:
        10+ pitching WAR seasons: WJohnson 7, Cy 5, Kid 5, TBond 4, Alexander 3, Buffington 3
        8+ pitching WAR seasons: WJohnson 9, Cy 7, Mathewson 5, Kid 5, Grove 4, Waddell 4, TBond 4, Covelski 3, Alexander 3, VWillis 3, Buffington 3
        7+ pitching WAR seasons: WJohnson 9, Grove 7, Cy 7, Mathewson 5, Kid 5, DVance 4, Alexander 4, Waddell 4, TBond 4
        6+ pitching WAR seasons: WJohnson 9, Grove 8, Cy 7, Mathewson 5, Kid 5, DVance 4, Covelski 4, Alexander 4, Waddell 4, TBond 4
        ***
        In 1939 Lefty Grove pitches his 11th season of 6+ pitching WAR and at least 1 WAR per 40 IP, in 2005 Clemens pitches his 11th such season and they are tied for the lead. WJohnson 9, RJohnson 8, Pedro 7, Maddux 7, Cy 7, Halladay 6, Seaver 6, Kershaw 5, Mathewson 5, Kid 5, 18 pitchers including Alexander with 4.
        ***
        Halladay has 233-266 IP and 6.2-8.9 WAR while Alexander has 3 seasons of 363-389 IP and 10.6-12.1 WAR along with 235 IP and 7.4 WAR. If Halladay is born 90 years earlier he probably throws 50% more innings and if he maintains his effectiveness in half of his “peak” seasons he has a “peak” similar to Alexander. Single season pitching WAR with no hedge against workload highlights the difference in innings as the game evolved more than anything else.
        ***
        Obviously I didn’t see Alexander pitch and it’s just an evaluation based on my own arbitrary standards along with stats and play index courtesy of baseball-reference.com with the main purpose being to set higher standards for modern pitchers, if you “only” pitch around 200 innings you need to pitch that much better to reach 6 WAR and to try to filter out genuine elite pitching from back in the day from the rest of the high volume pitchers.

        • invitro says:

          I don’t know what you’re trying to say here, but if comparing WAR directly is a problem, just use WAR rank. Alexander’s:

          1911 NL 8.4 (2nd)
          1912 NL 6.4 (3rd)
          1913 NL 6.8 (3rd)
          1914 NL 8.4 (1st)
          1915 NL 10.9 (1st)
          1916 NL 10.6 (1st)
          1917 NL 9.3 (1st)
          1919 NL 7.5 (1st)
          1920 NL 12.1 (1st)
          1921 NL 4.7 (4th)
          1922 NL 4.6 (4th)
          1923 NL 5.2 (4th)
          1925 NL 4.6 (8th)
          1926 NL 3.2 (8th)
          1927 NL 6.1 (4th)
          Career 117.0 (4th)

          Leading your league in pitching WAR six years in a seven-year span is pretty good. I wonder how many pitchers have done that? Walter did it three times (three different 7-year spans). Grove also did it 3 times. Clemens didn’t: his best is three years out of seven. Cy also tops out at 3 of 7.

          • Bryan says:

            Sure, he dominated an 8 team league, from 1914-1920 he has the 5 highest pitching WAR in the NL. While over in the AL Cicotte has the 2nd best and Covelski is tied for 6th with Walter Johnson’s 5th best season. Alexander also has the 5 highest IP seasons 1914-20 in the NL and Walter’s Top 5 are all in the Top 9 in the AL.
            ***
            Dave Stieb from 1982-85 has 4 of the 6 highest pitching WARs in the AL in a 14 team league. All of those seasons are in the Top 11 in IP in the AL. Stieb is also 3rd in WAR and 5th in IP in strike shortened 1981 is you specifically want 5 seasons. 75% more teams, not quite as dominant relatively speaking.

    • invitro says:

      “the mission of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown to tell the story of baseball.” — Except that the mission of the Hall of Fame is not to “tell the story of baseball”. Why do people keep saying things like that? The museum covers the story-telling part (and other parts); the museum is a fine place for Lou Brock, Jim Rice, Catfish Hunter, and similar guys to hang out, without detracting from the Hall of Fame’s true mission. πŸ™‚

      • Rick Rodstrom says:

        The HOF in Cooperstown was founded on a story—a myth really—about Abner Doubleday and the origins of baseball, and as such the story of baseball has been a part of the museum’s DNA since its inception.

        • SDG says:

          I don’t know what you’re arguing. The museum can, and does, tell the story of baseball. But are you really saying that Curt Flood, Jose Canseco, Sammy Sosa, Roger Maris, Moses Fleetwood Walker, Randy Hundley (invented the one-handed catcher’s mitt), or Dummy Hoy should have plaques? There are a few people who do have plaques for this “importance to the history” Candy Cummings for (allegedly) inventing the curveball. He’s technically listed as a pioneer and not a player. Is that what you want?

          • invitro says:

            He’s using the ol’ re-definition trick. He wants story players in the HoF. well, story players are already in the museum. So, hey, let’s conflate the two… story players are in the HoF-and-Museum, and that’s what the HoF-and-Museum is for (never mind that’s only what the museum is for), therefore story players should be in the HoF!

          • Rick Rodstrom says:

            It’s not either or, it’s a combination of both. Obviously, Dummy Hoy is not a Hall of Famer, despite his unique contribution to the game. Moses Walker may have integrated baseball before Jackie Robinson but c’mon, he had neither the career nor the impact Robinson had.

            Let’s take Red Ruffing for example. I believe he has the highest ERA for any pitcher in the Hall of Fame at 3.80, and he had an odd career, going from being a losing pitcher with the Red Sox to being a winning pitcher with the Yankees. His career record of 273-225, along with this high ERA, does not scream Hall of Famer. Marginal, some might say. I’ll bet more than a few people on this site voted him out.

            But then you can add to his career a few things. He was the ace of the Yankee teams of the 1930’s, considered by some to be the greatest dynasty of all time. He started Game 1 of the World Series 6 times, and acquitted himself well, going 7-2 with a 2.63 ERA in post-season play. He was the starting pitcher in a pair of All-Star games. His is considered by some to be the inventor of the slider, or at least the guy who popularized it, much like Bruce Sutter with the splitter. He was also one of the best hitting pitchers of all time. Suddenly Red Ruffing becomes an important figure. Does he deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? You betcha!

    • Patrick says:

      I think that’s a fair and reasonable take on the balance these things should have. (Though you underrate Robinson, who might have been the best player in baseball from 1949-1952.)

      • Rick Rodstrom says:

        Other than Stan Musial, perhaps.

        • Karyn says:

          It’s extremely close, and Musial was clearly a better hitter. But due to the SBs and playing a tougher defensive position, I’d take Robinson.
          But boy, what a tough call.

          • Rick Rodstrom says:

            Musial wasn’t a basestealer, but he was considered one of the best baserunners of his day; it was one of the reasons he hit so many triples, leading the league 5 times, including 1949 and 1951. And I’m not sure that Robinson was such an elite second baseman a la Bill Mazeroski, not that he was poor. But Jackie actually came up as a first baseman, and he didn’t have the strongest arm. I admire Jackie Robinson, but I’d take Stan Musial any day of the week.

    • SDG says:

      The museum is for the story of baseball. Joe Carter, Len Barker’s perfect game, Lou Brock setting the steals record, Canseco, Moe Berg, etc.

      The plaque room is for the best players, even the dull or controversial ones.

      • Rick Rodstrom says:

        It’s called the Hall of FAME, not the Hall of the Best, nor the Hall of Highest WAR, and so one of the factors that defines induction should be, what is so-and-so’s claim to fame?

        Let’s take another controversial example: Catfish Hunter. A record of 224-166, 3.24 ERA in a low scoring era, not exactly the best of the best. On the flip side, there is the perfect game, and the Cy Young Award, and the 8 All-Star appearances, and the big free agent splash, but above all, Catfish Hunter was the ace of the Oakland dynasty of the 1970’s that won 3 consecutive World Series, a highly rare feat. Even his name told a story. Jim Hunter was never called Catfish by anybody until Charley Finley christened him thus in an effort to gain some cheap publicity. Like Rollie Fingers mustache, the name Catfish said something about who the Oakland A’s were. In short, Catfish Hunter mattered a lot to his era.

        Contrast that to Hunter’s contemporary (and saber-favorite) Bert Blyleven. Old Bert went 287-250, 3.31, which does not exactly scream Mount Rushmore either. let’s just say that he pitched well for a long time. By most metrics, Blyleven was the superior pitcher to Hunter. But what was his claim to fame exactly? There was no perfect game, no Cy Young Award, only 2 All-Star appearances. Some of his teams won, some of his teams lost. I would say that in the arc of baseball history, Bert Blyleven’s claim to fame was giving up the most home runs in a single season—50—a rather dubious distinction for a Hall of Famer. So if you are going to argue, as some have, that Catfish Hunter should be booted from the Hall while Bert Blyleven should be in the inner circle, remember that you are using a set of criteria that is incomplete at best and nearsighted at worst. Both pitchers can and should be included, if for different reasons.

        • SDG says:

          You’re arguing a straw man, as very few people actually think anyone, even the Frisch choices, should be kicked out of the Hall. Nor am I making a puerly statistical argument. I’m certainly open to the idea that players who influence the game somehow should have that considered when making their Hall of Fame case. For example, Ray Schalk inventing catchers backing up first and third or Sutter popularising the cutter – that’s added onto their playing records when looking at whether they make it to HoF level. Or sometimes it makes an inner-circle player even stronger. Tony Gwynn doesn’t need the extra credit he gets for being the first to use video but it’s a part of what made him great.

          All this is entirely different from the argument you seem to be making, which is giving weight to players because they had cool nicknames or played for colorful teams or had some kind of narrative. I wouldn’t vote for Posada or Pettitte because the media loves to drool over the “Core Four.” I wouldn’t vote for Pablo Sandoval because he has a cool nickname that comes with merchandising possibilities. I wouldn’t vote for Terry Forster even though Letterman made him famous. (Although the “Fat Tub of Goo” tape should be in the museum part of the Hall).

          Canseco is infinitely more famous than Frank Robinson, who never ever gets included in the all-time great arguments because he played in small markets and has a prickly personality. But I know which one I’d put in the Hall.

          • Rick Rodstrom says:

            I try to include everything, including the numbers, but not only numbers, which don’t tell the whole story, not by a long shot. If they did, you might consider including Jose Canseco, whose numbers are actually pretty good. He’s no Frank Robinson, but still, 462 homers and 200 stolen bases puts him in a pretty exclusive club. He led the league in home runs twice, and his OPS+ of 132 is better than a number of Hall of Famers. His Hall of Fame Monitor score is 103, where a likely Hall of Famer’s score is 100. By the numbers, he has a case.

            But Jose Canseco’s not getting into the Hall any more than Joe Jackson is, and for good reason. As the pied piper of steroids, he did a lot of damage to the sport. See, this narrative thing works both ways.

          • invitro says:

            “He led the league in home runs twice” — So did Dave Kingman and Juan Gone. Big deal.

            “and his OPS+ of 132 is better than a number of Hall of Famers” — Big deal. Darryl Strawberry had an OPS+ of 138. And no one in their right mind says a player should be in because he was better than Ross Youngs, which is what you’re doing.

            “His Hall of Fame Monitor score is 103, where a likely Hall of Famer’s score is 100.” — You’ve got it backwards. A score over 100 is likely to be a HoFer; a likely HoFer has a Monitor score well above 100. But Bill James has said he’s working on a new Monitor system, since the old measures are too weak for the Steroid era. But most importantly, no one in their right mind uses the Monitor as a reason why someone should be in the HoF.

            “By the numbers, he has a case.” — Only if you completely misunderstand baseball numbers, and also think about a thousand (or two) players have a case.

          • Rick Rodstrom says:

            Players with at least 462 homers and 200 stolen bases
            Barry Bonds
            Hank Aaron
            Alex Rodriguez
            Willie Mays
            Sammy Sosa
            Frank Robinson
            Reggie Jackson
            Gary Sheffield
            Dave Winfield
            Jose Canseco
            Not a bad group to belong to. Jose Canseco’s no slam dunk Hall of Famer, and I probably wouldn’t vote for him even without the baggage, but like I said, he has a case.

          • invitro says:

            Being in a “club” is not a HoF case. If it were, thousands of players would have HoF cases.

          • Rick Rodstrom says:

            It sure helps when the club you’re in is full of Hall of Famers.

          • invitro says:

            Thousands of players are in some club that’s full of HoFers. This is really Baseball 101: for just about any player who was a regular for several years, you can make some club that includes him and some HoFers. I and some other fellows made several examples here a few weeks ago.

          • Karyn says:

            I’m not sure I’ve ever seen as arbitrary a cutoff line as ‘462 homers and 200 stolen bases’.

          • Crazy Diamond says:

            Karyn: I think the 462 was just to include both Canseco and Winfield. Otherwise he could’ve done 500/200 and still had everybody else listed.

        • Nick S. says:

          The flip side of things like Hunter’s All-Star Games and Cy Young award is that he had no control over them; other people decided to bestow those honors upon him. Basing a HOF vote on such awards years after the fact is asking the voters to base their opinions now on other peoples’ opinions back then. No thanks, not when we can look at a player’s record and judge for ourselves.

          Also, does anyone really believe that the Hall of Fame’s purpose is to celebrate the already famous? Did someone say “Oh, no! These incredibly famous people need more fame! Let’s get them ceremonies and plaques!”

          It’s called the “Hall of Fame” because it’s a catchy name. It’s like saying that a team’s farm system is illegitimate unless it has cows and tractors.

          • invitro says:

            I agree with you, but I think we do need to pay attention if a player got a pile of awards that don’t seem justified by the stats, or vice versa. Maybe the contemporaries of the player were on to something, maybe the player really was better than his WAR says he was… or maybe not. So what I’d do is look right at Hunter’s seasons where he got big Cy votes. Let’s take 1973 as an example. Hunter finished #3 in Cy voting, with a 21-5 record and a 3.34 ERA for the champ A’s. But… his ERA+ was 107, and he only had 1.8 WAR. Let’s compare him with Blyleven, who came in #7 in Cy, with a 20-17 record and a 2.52 ERA, 156 ERA+ and 9.9 WAR. Blyleven flat-out dominates Hunter in every possible way (with massive leads in IP and SO also) except for W-L record. So why did the voters choose Hunter over Bly? Well, we know now… because Hunter’s team did better than Bly’s team, and Hunter played in a pitching park while Bly was in a hitting park. Are these good reasons? Well, of course not… the Cy voters just screwed up, and we can adjust the Cy votes to what they should have been. Well, I forgot what my point was, but it’s clear that if you point to Cy voting when arguing that Hunter is more of a HoFer than Bly was, and ignore what seems to be a fact that the Cy voting, at least in 1973, was just plain wrong, you’re just playing a fool’s game, and/or being dishonest.

          • Rick Rodstrom says:

            What the awards and accolades and World Series wins mean is that Hunter was a consequential pitcher, a meaningful pitcher, someone who mattered a lot during his career. When talking about baseball in the early 70’s, the A’s were the dominant team, winning 3 World Series in a row, the only team to do that between the Yankees of the 50’s and the Yankees of the 90’s (they are in fact the only non-Yankee team to do so). The only players in the HOF from the A’s other than Catfish are Reggie and Rollie. Hunter was the ace of the A’s staff. Do you choose to recognize champions, or is the Hall of Fame only for the compilers toiling away in obscurity? Eppa Rixley, come one down!

            And it wasn’t all smoke and mirrors with Hunter. The guy was a workhorse (as with Koufax, it was a big reason his career was so short). How about taking 1974 as an example, when Hunter actually won the Cy Young Award? True, he led the league in the dreaded wins column with 25, but also in ERA and WHIP while throwing a whopping 318 innings (37 more than Blyleven btw). The A’s won the World Series that year, with Hunter pitching well against the Dodgers. Pitching well in big games is one of the things that defines a champion—just ask Clayton Kershaw how easy that is. Catfish Hunter may not be one of the 10 greatest pitchers of all time, but he makes a fine addition to the Hall of Fame.

          • invitro says:

            “Do you choose to recognize champions” — Sure, Reggie is a deserving member of the HoF.

          • Rick Rodstrom says:

            How many innings did Reggie pitch?

          • invitro says:

            Hunter was only the 4th-best player on those teams anyway… Reggie, Bando, and Campy were all better. They also happen to have better HoF cases than Hunter. The A’s won because they had (by far) the best hitting/fielding in the AL. Their pitching was only a hair above average. Kind of like the mini-dynasty that succeeded them, if not quite so extreme.

          • invitro says:

            “Hunter was a consequential pitcher, a meaningful pitcher, someone who mattered a lot during his career.” — He wasn’t all that meaningful. There were around ten pitchers who could’ve replaced Hunter, and the A’s would’ve done just as well or a little better. The meaningful players were Jackson, Bando, and Campaneris, all of whom were the best players in the AL at their positions over the 1972-4 time period.

        • Patrick says:

          The problem is, this leads us to self-fulfilling arguments. If you’re not awarded a Cy Young you deserve, for example, why should that mistake be cited as relevant decades later?

    • EnzoHernandez11 says:

      Let me take Rick’s point in a slightly different direction. To what extent should we care about how each generation defines its greatest players? Should that be a factor in how we approach the Hall of Fame? Let’s start with a relatively weak link: Lou Brock. The oldsters here (and I am among them) will tell you that during the 1970s, Brock was considered one of the premier players in major league baseball. That is, he wasn’t just famous (though he was *very* famous); he was also thought of as an elite performer. And of course he made it to Cooperstown on the first ballot, another indication of just how well regarded he was during his time.
      I am a big fan of the sabremetric revolution and a relatively early follower of Bill James, but I am still a bit uncomfortable with the notion that baseball analysts, fans, and journalists simply didn’t understand what they were watching prior to 1980 or so. Indeed, when you read James, especially in his earlier days, he gives great deference to the attitudes and opinions of those who were there at the time.
      Please understand that this is not a Murray Chass-style argument that you can’t judge a player unless you actually watched him. Of course you can. Rather, I’m suggesting that the Hall of Fame ought to have room for players with sustained records of achievement (nobody’s saying that Brock wasn’t an outstanding player) who were considered to be among the best by their contemporaries. After all, it’s always possible that the day will come when a better analyst with better tools will sit around wondering how they hell we could have thought that Robbie Alomar (to pick a name out of the air) was so good.
      I won’t speak for Rick, but I think that was part of his point. Nobody in the 60s through 80s thought that Len Barker or Roger Maris were Hall of Famers. The “story of baseball” doesn’t mean we honor fluky players with fluky accomplishments. But it could mean that we don’t simply dismiss out of hand those who were considered consensus great by those who watched them, even if our metrics persuade us otherwise.

      • invitro says:

        “I am still a bit uncomfortable with the notion that baseball analysts, fans, and journalists simply didn’t understand what they were watching prior to 1980 or so.” — Well, they got most things close to right, but baseball analysts today are a lot closer, and they’ll be closer still in the future. This is how knowledge and science work, right? It’s a common notion… are you uncomfortable with the notion that physicists before 1850 simply didn’t understand the nature of light as well as physicists today do? Or that biologists before Darwin didn’t understand speciation as well as current biologists do? It seems completely natural to me. (We have more tools now, too… most of the work Bill James did required a personal computer.)

        • SDG says:

          Pretty much this. In any endeavor, “It stands to reason” and “It’s obvious to everyone” is not a substitute for actual analysis. There are plenty of arguments to be made that any particular claim derived from using sabermetrics is wrong, just like any argument against a claim made from Triple Crown stats. But merely saying “You had to be there” isn’t it.

        • EnzoHernandez11 says:

          There’s really nothing you said that I disagree with. The same holds for SDG’s comments. Maybe I’m overthinking it. Every generation does its best to populate the Hall of Fame with the tools at their disposal. And their choices will be broadly consistent with their understanding of which players were great while they were watching. So Lou Brock gets in easily in 1985, even though someone with the same stats might not have made it in 2015. I’m OK with that. That way, the Hall is true to the interpretations of each era, and we have mechanisms to correct things when someone obviously deserving (say, Arky Vaughan) gets left out. Thus, as long as we don’t kick anyone out, we end up with a H of F that represents each period fully and fairly. It’s all good. πŸ™‚

          • invitro says:

            I’m definitely not in favor of kicking Lou Brock, or anyone else, out. But if we had to start a new Hall of Fame afresh for some reason, I’d vote for somebody else. I hope those two statements are consistent… πŸ™‚

      • SDG says:

        I am actually sympathetic to the idea that you need to watch a player to truly understand his greatness, but that’s largely because sabermetrics, particularly in terms of defense and baserunning, are pretty rudimentary. It’s not an either-or argument. No one, not even Bill James, believes that the stats we currently use are fixed and eternal. Actually watching games is a way to determine if the statistical models we use are accurate.

        In the 50s and 60s, many people would swear that Mantle was a better hitter than Mays. But BA/HR/RBI said otherwise. But using stats, we can now see that at his peak, the Yankees were right and Mantle actually was better.

        The problem when people act like Murray Chass is that they insist on attaching emotional (usually moral) narratives to baseball. “Jim Rice was the most feared hitter.” What the hell does that actually mean? We can measure that. Was he intentionally walked more? Hit more? Etc? If people believe something that isn’t reflected in the stats, it might mean they’re idiots who just cheer the guys in the right uniform with the right narrative (like Jeter’s brilliant fielding) or it might mean the models we use need to be tweaked.

        There;s actually a lot of fascinating stuff where people try to use retrosheet data to determine if “Jackie Robinson got inside the minds of pitchers and made them make mistakes” is true and if so, in what ways. I’ll try to find it.

        This isn’t an argument where it’s one or the other. Watching games is one way we are able to further refine statistical analysis.

        • Rick Rodstrom says:

          I’m not so sure that Mantle was a better hitter than Mays. They played in different leagues, faced different competition. Not only was the National League arguable stronger than the American League in the 1950’s (due in no small part to the quicker integration of the National League), but a greater portion of the American League’s talent was bound up in one team, the Yankees, than in the National League, where the talent was more spread out. So if you were on the Yankees, you weren’t playing against the best players, you were playing with them, which is one reason why the Yankees went to the World Series practically every year during Mantle’s career, where they faced good teams in the Dodgers, Giants, Braves, Pirates, Reds and Cardinals (had the Mick come up a year earlier, he would have faced the Phillies as well). It was much easier to clean up against the likes of the Senators and KC A’s and the Browns/Orioles than against their NL peers.
          For instance, in his career, Willie Mays had a .962 OPS against Sandy Koufax, which is pretty damned good. Mickey Mantle didn’t have to face Sandy Koufax. When he did face Koufax in the 1963 World Series, he went 1-7 with 3 Ks and a BB (though the one hit was a homer). He went 1-4 with 2Ks against Drysdale in that series as well. Mays had to face them all the time.
          So when you say that watching the game only exists to make the stats more accurate, I think you’ve got it backwards.

    • Jamie says:

      There is no way Nolan Ryan “tells the story” of his era better than Seaver, and Seaver was the obviously better pitcher. It also seems that there should be a spot for Randy Johnson, as the greatest LHP of all time, instead of Rivera.

  15. When you ask if someone belongs in the hall, I have to assume you mean “the Hall as it is”, not “the Hall I’d like it to be”. Me, I’m a small-Hall guy.

  16. invitro says:

    Since Nolan Ryan seems to be a big part of this, here’s a list giving for each year of his career (except 1966) his league rank in WAR, league rank in the Cy Young vote, and whether he was an All-Star and/or got MVP votes. One thing you may note is that his Cy rank correlates very strongly with his WAR rank; I don’t think you can say that the Cy voters either over- or underrated Ryan.
    1968 49 –
    1969 65 –
    1970 53 –
    1971 129 –
    1972 5 Cy-8 AS MVP-30
    1973 4 Cy-2 AS MVP-17
    1974 8 Cy-3 MVP-14
    1975 24 – AS
    1976 16 –
    1977 2 Cy-3 AS MVP-24
    1978 38 –
    1979 19 – AS
    1980 41 –
    1981 3 Cy-4 AS MVP-16
    1982 17 –
    1983 28 Cy-9
    1984 44 –
    1985 46 – AS
    1986 34 –
    1987 5 Cy-5
    1988 44 –
    1989 7 Cy-5 AS MVP-23
    1990 10 – MVP-25
    1991 6 –
    1992 47 –
    1993 254 –

    • JB says:

      I don’t think Nolan Ryan is a top ten pitcher of all time. However, he is top 1 or 2 on the must see list. The Texas Ranger years with an “old” man throwing harder than anyone in the league and with one of the best curve balls were fun. A half dozen times per year it seemed he had no hit stuff. He had better control in those later years, but he still didn’t care if he walked someone; Ryan had the swagger to take on the next guy, confident he would strike him out. Ks and no hitters are fun!

      • invitro says:

        Sure… Nolan was my first ever favorite player in any sport, and is in my own personal Hall of Fun, with Maddux, Rickey Henderson, Mark Wohlers, Mike Bielecki, Dwight Smith, Jose Cruz, and a bunch of other non-HoF guys. πŸ™‚

  17. Richard says:

    How about non-players? Can we make room for Branch Rickey? Marvin Miller? Bill James?

    • invitro says:

      Someone needs to explain all this Marvin Miller love. It’s clear that Rickey and James improved the state of being a baseball fan. Miller improved the standard of living for baseball players, sure. But how did he improve the game for baseball fans? (Some think he made it worse for fans.)

      • Bryan says:

        Player compensation most likely leads to long term improvement in the quality of players. Jack Nicklaus is 259th in career PGA earnings just below David Peoples. Peoples makes $127k in 1994 and $460k in 2000 for similar results, the Tiger Woods effect.
        Golfing presumably attracts more players who had the potential to play other sports or even drawing them away from non-sports careers that previously were a much more secure way to make as much if not more as a journeyman golfer could make pre-Tiger.
        Shaq might just be telling a funny story but he credits Jon Koncak for his decision to pick basketball over football.

          • KHAZAD says:

            The story makes it obvious that Shaq is making this up on the fly. It is a good story, but Shaq switched to basketball well before the contract. He also remembers it as being $5 million per year, when it was actually $2.17 million per year. It was an overpay, but it was the length of the contract (and therefore the total) that made it such big news at the time.

            I went to high school with Jon and played basketball in his driveway. I always thought it was a shame that he is defined by this contract, and now Shaq is bringing it back into the news with a complete falsehood.

            Jon was a 2nd team All America (behind Patrick Ewing) in college and had an 11 year NBA career as a center, making a total of $17.7 million over his career. While not a very good offensive player, he was a defensive specialist who is 32nd all time in defensive box plus/minus. While he may not have been a star, it is a solid career.

        • invitro says:

          I hope there’s a much stronger argument for Miller, because that one’s mighty tenuous, way too much for me to think he actually improved anything in that regard. And I’m not sure how it’s a benefit if he got a few guys that didn’t like baseball very much to play it.

          And I don’t know why anyone is or was picking on Koncak. Just compare him to the starting center on that team — Kevin Willis. Willis got the same contract as Koncak a little later, when he had the experience that Koncak had. Willis and Koncak were both close to .100 WS/48 in the years before they got their contracts. They were pretty much the same player; Willis had a bit more offense and Koncak had a bit more defense. The only difference is that the coach gave Willis a bunch more minutes. Koncak’s contract doesn’t even look worse than average to me. I went to a couple of Hawks games in this time period, and am pretty sure the Koncak hate is due to racial prejudice, and an ability to understand per-minute stats.

          • Karyn says:

            Possibly the coach gave Willis more minutes because he was better. Willis waited three years after Koncak’s deal to get paid. People got irritated that a backup was getting paid a lot more than than a lot of starters, with what was big money at the time.
            I don’t think you can chalk that up to racial prejudice against the white guy.

      • SDG says:

        Rickey and James improved the state of being a GM. They improved the overall quality of play (although at the expense of fewer superstars). But did they improve the fan experience? Unclear. Plenty of people (mostly professional sports TV hosts) prefer the old-school hit-and-run style of play. They find TTO baseball boring. Did Bill James improve the game for them? Same with the farm system. It eliminated the only system where every small town and factory fielded a baseball team, that fans would really get into, when local games were like festivals, when in was really a community thing. Is slick, corporate baseball more enjoyable? When there’s a chance that kid from a Baltimore industrial league will have an unorthodox natural swing that makes him an icon? It’s certainly better overall, but people are way less into it now than the were 100 years ago.

        As for Miller, you can certainly argue that he improved the overall quality of play, since now that basketball and football (and to a lesser extent hockey, and soon soccer) compete for the best athletes, knowing they can make a better living at baseball inspires more elite athletes to stick with baseball instead of playing something else. The fact that they get huge paydays means they’re more likely to take care of their bodies and play better and longer.

        Besides, you don’t think the fact that Miller improved the lot of players contributes positively to the game and is worthy of enshrinement? Batting helmets improved things for players so we celebrate that as a baseball achievement in the museum. Same thing, but Miller did it on a larger scale.

        • invitro says:

          The main impact of Bill James on baseball to me is probably as a historian more than as a statistical analyst. But either way, he tells what really happens in baseball and why it happened, and that has improved my state of being a fan tremendously. But I know that isn’t true for all or probably most fans.

          Your point about Rickey and the MLB-controlled farm system is very well taken. What he has to balance that is integrating the game, by some number of years before it would’ve happened without him. It’s too hard for me to tell right now if that good thing outweighs the bad thing of not having (more) independent minor leagues. So I’ll retract my statement: “It’s clear that Rickey and James improved the state of being a baseball fan.” In fact I think Ted Turner probably has a better case (!), and the inventor of baseball cards, and whoever got Topps cards going.

          “Batting helmets improved things for players so we celebrate that as a baseball achievement in the museum.” — Well, I certainly have room for Miller in the museum. I don’t think the batting helmet inventor is in the HoF either… πŸ™‚

      • Karyn says:

        Is it the standard that someone improved the game, or is the standard that they had a large impact on the game? (This question is probably only relevant to non-player enshrinees.)
        Miller’s impact on the game cannot really be denied. Tom Yawkey? Not so much.

        • invitro says:

          I personally require that someone improved the state of being a baseball fan, whether doing it by playing well or by other ways. I don’t use general impact as a criterion, because impact can be good or bad. These are just my criteria… I know other people have different ones, and that’s a good thing — I may change my mind later.

    • JB says:

      Then you start to look like the basketball HOF. Leave it at players and managers in my opinion. Separate wing (or different town even) for owners/GMs and contributors, but no mixing. If I want to see all time great players, I certainly don’t want to wade through the Marvin Millers of the world. I can view him, along with Samuel Gompers, in the Union HOF.

      • Gene says:

        You wouldn’t have to wade (i.e., as if fighting through a swamp). All you’d have to do is walk the extra 8 feet to get past the Marvin Miller display. No great hardship involved.

      • Richard says:

        Thanks for all the comments! I just picked out the three names that came immediately to mind in my example. My point is that there are many people who helped make Baseball more awesome – either through innovation, or sheer excellence at their work – who never put on a uniform and walked onto a diamond. There should be room in *any* Hall of Fame to acknowledge people like, oh, Bill Veeck and Roger Angell…..

  18. PJS says:

    I know Brock doesn’t get a lot of love from sabermetric types, but you have to remember that when he got his 3,000th hit it was a much more exclusive club — he was only the 13th player in history to do it, and when he was elected to the hall only 2 more had joined him. That and the steals record, plus his incredible World Series performances, made him an easy and deserving choice. Even Bill James thought so.

    • Karyn says:

      I’m a Big Hall type. I included players who hit the milestones (3,000 hits, 300 wins, etc.) even if their WAR or other new-ish stats were on the lower end of the Hall of Fame level. Lou Brock was totally in for me.

  19. invitro says:

    It’s neither here nor there, except that it’s about the HoF… I’ve become an addict to Murray Chass’s blog at http://www.murraychass.com . If you weren’t aware that Chass was the hottest thing in baseball talk, he’s here to set you straight. His blog is a regular hoot (though it threatens to make me irregular), and pretty much the opposite of Joe’s blog. My favorite quote from this week: “If they were still burning people at the stake, I’d have been burned at the Cooperstown stake.” Someone please tell me there’s an actual Cooperstown Stake, and I don’t mean the one that comes with onion rings and a Coke.

    • invitro says:

      I forgot to mention… in this week’s blog, he briefly mentions Joe.

      • Karyn says:

        . . . in a very bizarre context. I don’t think I could stomach reading Chass on a regular basis.

        • invitro says:

          Well, I said it might make me irregular… and I read a lot of political articles from viewpoints opposite of mine (more than from those on the same side) so I’m used to it. πŸ˜‰

    • SDG says:

      Wow, I just read that. Leaving aside the content, it’s hard to believe Chass was ever a professional writer at the most prestigious daily newspaper in America. Whatever they paid his editor at the Times, it wasn’t enough.

      • EnzoHernandez11 says:

        Like Invitro, I am also addicted to Chass. There’s just something compelling, almost heroic, about his battle to push back the forces of progress single-handedly, and restore the regime of batting average, RBI, and intangibles. There is also, on the other hand, a very raw anger in his writing that can be a bit depressing. Here’s a guy who held one of the most prominent positions in the sportswriting world, revealed some of the most famous quotes in baseball history, and practically invented the coverage of labor relations in sports. And instead of looking back over his career with pride and satisfaction, all he can do is lash out against all the people that he feels have made him irrelevant. I have to admit that this element is compelling, too, though I feel a little voyeuristic admitting it.

        And I have to agree with SDG: I never read Chass’s work with the Times–I was on the other coast for most of his career–but the gracelessness of his writing is a little stunning. Can someone lose the ability to write elegantly? Or, as SDG suggests, did Chass simply rely on his editors to turn his apparently diligent reporting into NYT-quality prose? I’d guess that it might be a generational thing, except that I read many of the leading West Coast columnists of his day (Jim Murray, Jack Murphy) and they never once published a column as bad as the best of Chass’s blog entries.
        As a certain someone would say: “SAD!”

  20. Crazy Diamond says:

    I think it’d be interesting for Joe to make a massive survey to see what players currently in the HOF would still be elected if voted for today. The 75% rule would still stand and it would be a binary vote (a simple yes/no). Obviously, Joe could simplify things in a variety of ways: automatically including the Top 20-30 in bWAR or all of the first-ballot guys (though that would include Eckersley, Puckett, and Pudge Rodriguez) or however. It’d sure be interesting!

    • Bryan says:

      Using baseball-reference.com Play Index Hall of Fame filter so only those inducted for MLB play, excludes players who did not play in MLB and also excludes Satchel Paige.
      42 players debuted before 1900 – Cy Young, Honus Wagner and 40 other players. Deacon White might get name recognition since he was inducted in 2013. Frank Chance of Tinker to Evers to Chance. Old Hoss Radbourn for his twitter account. Christy Mathewson, Cap Anson and others will be recognized based on how well someone knows 19th century and early 20th century baseball. You’re likely mostly going to see:
      A) some people check a modern leader board and say yes to Dan Brouthers, Roger Connor and George Davis for being around 80 WAR and 50 WAA
      B) some people will check the names they recognize of those 3 if any
      C) some people already have knowledge of the HoF cases of those players or would take the time to look up those cases before completing the survey
      ***
      There are 39 players debut 1901-1920 and different names: Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson are the super duper stars. Tinker and Evers from the poem. High Pockets Kelly probably the position player referenced the most as not belonging in the Hall of Fame. Three Finger Brown has very high name recognition, Mordecai Brown could slide under the radar. Frankie Frisch is a really relevant name in Hall of Fame history, he’s pretty deserving even if he played a key role in getting less qualified players in.
      ***
      1921-1940 debut is 48 players and starting to get into a larger number of well known names: Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Mel Ott, Jimmie Foxx, Joe DiMaggio, Lefty Grove, Bob Feller. But also players like Hack Wilson mainly known for the single season RBI record, Paul and Lloyd Waner best known for having a brother in the Hall of Fame and Pee Wee Reese having a lot of name recognition. Which of the 5 catchers inducted is the lowest by a considerable margin by WAR/WAA is a good test if you know the era well: Bill Dickey, Gabby Hartnett, Mickey Cochrane, Ernie Lombardi and Rick Ferrell (Jimmie Foxx with 108 games at C as well). It’s really easy to look up and most likely Rick Ferrell gets the fewest HoF votes and other than Foxx they top out at 55.8 WAR so it’s likely some voters exclude all 5.
      ***
      Debut 1941-1960 is 38 players. Brooks Robinson is the 3rd most deserving Robinson and he’s 60th on the Poz 100. Mays, Aaron, Musial, Mantle, Gibson, Spahn, Koufax, lots of very well known names. Bill Mazeroski was certainly helped by hitting a specific Home Run and best case he’s Omar Vizquel will a shorter career and only playing for 1 team. George Kell and a few others probably get voted out.
      ***
      Debut 1961-1980 is 35 players. This is also where Pete Rose would be listed if you include some non-HoF players. I can’t remember the survey exactly but most of the low WAR players are listed. Fisk and Eddie Murray are tied for 14th in position player WAR below them are: Dawson, Winfield, Stargell, Tony Perez, Rice and Brock. Jim Palmer is 8th in pitching WAR below him are: Eckersley, Don Sutton, Gossage, Bruce Sutter, Fingers and Catfish. Assuming you’re keeping around the same size Hall of Fame the rest of the names aren’t really in any jeopardy of being removed.
      ***
      Debut since 1981 is 18 players. Glavine or Smoltz is the worst pitcher (other than Wade Boggs) since the other 3 are Pedro, Unit and Maddux and I’m pretty sure Smoltz was on the survey. For the position players if you’re voting by on field performance pretty much only Kirby Puckett is in danger of being voted out and he’s on the survey. Piazza and I-Rod are pretty much only going to be voted out for off field reasons unless you make no adjustments for playing catcher and only induct Bench and Yogi among career catchers.
      ***
      Consider the BBWAA first HoF ballot for second basemen who debuted after Morgan and Carew (and Rose if you include him at the position):
      Roberto Alomar: 73.7%
      Craig Biggio: 68.2%
      Ryne Sandberg 49.2%
      Jeff Kent 15.2%
      Lou Whitaker 2.9%
      Bobby Grich 2.6%
      Willie Randolph 1.1%
      Trying to come up with an explanation, Grich and Randolph were “not Joe Morgan”, same for Whitaker but after Whitaker gets one-and-done the voters realize that Joe Morgan is a crazy high standard and 2 years later about 15x as many voters place a check mark next to Sandberg’s name compared to Whitaker’s. Any survey even of BBWAA voters in 2017 is really unlikely to have that huge gap. Most of those names were on the survey.

  21. steve says:

    Seems to me many of the HoF comments here reflect the MVP divisions many of us debate.
    MVP: Was the player the most “famous” contributor this year (lots of publicity, excellent player, leader on a winning team, etc) or was he the “best” according to statistics.
    HoF: Was the player “famous” (including perception, awards, actions, and good enough statistics) or was he (mainly) statistically among the all-time best during his career.
    These ways of looking at the awards sometimes do and sometimes do not agree. The system is set up so the actual voters get to interpret the criteria, giving fans plenty to discuss (argue). One can only hope the MVP/HoF voters, whatever their philosophy, take their jobs seriously.

    • invitro says:

      I actually don’t think the debate for MVP is at all similar to the HoF debate. At least on this forum, almost all of agree that stats are crucial, and that WAR does at least a very good job of measuring how good a player was. These are the main HoF issues I see debated here:
      – steroids/PED’s
      – peak vs. duration
      – general quality of MLB play, mainly dependent on year, also integration, number of teams in league, number of countries represented in MLB
      – whether postseason stats should count and for how much
      – if DH’s and relief pitchers are being unfairly snubbed
      – accuracy of defensive stats

      Well, only the last two come into play in MVP talk, and only defense really comes up that often. I actually don’t remember much MVP/Cy debate here in a few years… it’s been just some hair-splitting over essentially equally-good guys, when there’s any debate at all. In any case, about 1% of the amount of HoF debate. A fair amount of people still push for the idea that an MVP must come from a team that was at least in playoff contention.

      But the debates outside of this blog may be different, I don’t know… I don’t read any other baseball blogs/websites regularly, except Murray Chass’s ;).

    • SDG says:

      The two are different because there can only be one MVP per league at a time, and there’s no limit on the number of people who can go into the Hall. Also, the MVP is for one year and the Hall is for the whole career. That makes it different because everyone’s career has dead spots. As well as contributions to the game that go beyond something you do in one year.

      Honestly, “famous” never seems to enter into it when discussing the MVP or the Cy Young. I can’t think of anyone where pitching a perfect game put them over the top in the voting. People STILL talk about Mike Piazza hitting the homer after 9/11. It’s even on his plaque. But he was 13th in the MVP voting that year. Hank Aaron was 12th in the voting the year he hit 715 and Cal Ripken was 19th the year he broke the streak.

      The controversies for MVP/Cy Young are always giving to the pennant winners and how much defense matters. Or that voters care too much about “attitute” or “hustle” over stats. (Which usually means the writers want to reward a guy they like so invent a post hoc rationalization).

      • Patrick says:

        Forgive me for bringing him up, but the famous argument is perfectly encapsulated in Jack Morris. The guy was considered the “ace” of three World Series staffs, but in 1984, Dan Petry finished ahead of him in the Cy Young voting, as did Scott Erickson in 1991. He was (relatively) properly recognized in the Cy voting. But come Hall of Fame time, Morris was the hero of those staffs.

    • Bryan says:

      Not very many voters take the entire MVP ballot seriously, or if they do they have truly bizarre standards and even being serious for most of the ballot is a fairly recent development. Take the 2016 AL results: http://bbwaa.com/16-al-mvp/
      As a 3 person ballot (assuming no Top 3 votes would change as a result):
      Trout 19-8-1, not on 2 ballots
      Betts 9-17-4, on all ballots
      Altuve 0-2-15, not on 13 ballots
      Donaldson 0-2-9, not on 19 ballots
      Ortiz 1-1-0, on both NY ballots, not on other 28
      Beltre 1-0-1, 1st in OAK, 3rd in HOU, not on other 28
      ***
      26 voters filled the Top 3 slots with the same 4 players. The other 4 voters picked 2 of those players. baseball-reference.com has Trout and Betts as the two best AL players by WAR and then a considerable drop to Altuve, Donaldson, Cano and others. Fangraphs WAR has Trout with a considerable lead in AL WAR, Betts and Donaldson next up and then another drop to Altuve, Machado and others.
      John Hickey looks much better on a three person ballot since you can assume Trout is 4th and he saw some great intangible value from Beltre. With 10 spots it’s clear he just doesn’t want Trout to win and it should be really trivial to never send him a ballot, he’s a lot worse than Le Batard who lost his voting privileges.
      George A King III might have seen some great intangible from Ortiz and by including the presumptive Top 2 in his Top 3 makes a much more defensible ballot than Hickey.
      Mark Feinsand might have even wanted to place Trout and Betts tied and he felt giving them 9 and 8 points was better than giving them 14 and 9 or 14 and 8.
      Richard Justice’s Top 3 is very easy to justify.
      ***
      But the down ballot is comical and if 20 years from now someone tries to craft an argument based on “Longoria received MVP votes in 6 of his first 9 years” the argument really should be Roger Mooney stuck someone from the local team on the last spot on his ballot.
      The top end of the MVP results provides some value lately thanks to increased access to information for voters and increased transparency with results, even if the Triple Crown carries too much weight. Drifting to mid-ballot up until recently it was often giving credit to past results, Utley never finishes higher than 7th in MVP voting (barring an Ortiz-ian late career season) but if an effective media campaign had promoted him as one of the best NL players not named Pujols and he had finished Top 5 in MVP in 2005 or 2006, then in 2007 with an eye pleasing 332/410/556 in a year that Pujols hits 327/429/568 he would have at least been higher than 3rd in MVP voting from his own team.
      Only 9 different players get a Top 5 vote for AL MVP in 2016, Miggy is tied for 9th without getting a Top 5 vote. That’s a pretty good indication of voters doing their due diligence and after John Hickey gets his vote stripped people will be even more likely to take their 2017 votes seriously. Maybe someone can craft an argument for an Utley-like oversight in 2016 but the Top 10 in both the AL and NL look pretty solid.
      The problem is that the information and effort especially down ballot is a recent development and Utley never finishing higher than 7th in MVP voting says more about the voters than it does about Utley.

  22. Steve says:

    No, Joe! No! Do NOT use “out of pocket” to mean “unavailable”! It doesn’t mean that!

    • invitro says:

      I was confused by that line… I thought it might be a Kansas City saying or something. I guess he meant “I’m mostly out of TOUCH this week”?

    • PhilM says:

      Take it up with O. Henry (the author, not Henry Rodriguez): apparently he used it to mean “unavailable” in 1908’s “Buried Treasure.”

      I wasn’t struck by it: I not infrequently use the phrase that way.

  23. Chris says:

    I voted Lou Brock in for the simple fact that he was one of maybe the 3 or 5 greatest base-stealers in the history of the game. Not to mention the 3,000 hits. I feel if you are one of the handful of greatest players at a certain aspect of the game, not to mention were pretty good at other facets, you should be in. Lou Brock was a no-brainer.

    Nolan Ryan, on the other hand, I did not vote for. He was one of my favorite pitchers growing up, and was a frightful sight for hitters when he pitched, but if I have to decide if he is one of the 10 greatest pitchers ever, I probably leave him off, which is why I didnt vote for him. Obviously he was an all-time great and deserves to be in without a doubt, but if I only pick 10, he’s not included.

    • Karyn says:

      I’m with you on both counts.

    • Patrick says:

      “I feel if you are one of the handful of greatest players at a certain aspect of the game, not to mention were pretty good at other facets, you should be in.”

      Given his so-so success rate (75%), I don’t know that I’d put him there.

      I mean, moving that rate up to 80% gets you high volume guys like Henderson, Coleman, Morgan, Wilson, Raines. And then you have guys like the always injured Eric Davis, who at his peak, was a much better base-stealer than Brock (consider a three year run in which he stole 156 bases at a 89% clip) or even guys like Beltran, who had a five year stretch where he stole 162 at a 91% clip, or Ichiro.

      He was certainly the 2nd most prolific basestealer ever. But “best” brings those caught stealings into the equation for me.

  24. Bob says:

    I’m really surprised to see that none of the comments have touched on what is the underlying theme of most of the specific players chosen. I don’t want to spoil the post for those that don’t draw the connection, but let’s just say this is a real cast of “characters” in this survey.

    (It helps that I just recently read a great archived Jay Jaffe piece about the hall of fame, and who belongs in it, that mentions many of these players for a specific reason).

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