By In Baseball, Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame: The Less-Than-5 Percenters

Prediction: There are 16 players on this year’s Baseball Hall of Fame ballot who will not receive 5% of the vote and, as such, will be bumped off the ballot. It is possible that one or two of these players will climb above 5% — and it’s also possible that one or two more players fall below. But this is my call: Sixteen players will miss out, including some very accomplished players.

Fun facts about five of the 16 players I think will not get 5% of the vote this year:

— One of them hit 600 home runs and three times surpassed Roger Maris’ magic 61 homers in a season mark.

— One of them hit 500 home runs and created more runs in his career than Honus Wagner, George Brett or Mike Schmidt.

— One of them hit more home runs than Yaz and drove in more RBIs than Mantle.

— One of them had the highest OPS for any shortstop in baseball history.

— One of them had a .400 career on-base percentage and more batting runs than Pete Rose.

The last three players might not get 1% of the vote, much less 5% of the vote.

Let’s talk for a minute about the Selig Era. We have reached the point, now, where almost all of the big hitters from the SE are eligible for the Hall of Fame; and nobody believes in them. They are Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and the Arizona Cardinals. Nobody believes. Of course, the Selig Era (1994-2003) was marked by huge offensive numbers, home runs by the truck load, MLB comic books featuring preposterously muscular players as superheroes. The Selig Era was marked by an almost comical indifference by everyone to steroid use. There was no testing. There was no policing. There were no closed door manager meetings and, frankly, few anti-steroid screens in the mainstream media.

And because of this, the offensive numbers compiled during the 1990s are viewed the way Jerry Seinfeld views handicapped parking places. You’ve heard the Seinfeld bit about how those parking spots are like mirages — you drive down the lot and you see a great spot, right up front, a spot too good to be true — and you pull up and see the handicapped sign and it’s like that spot simply disappears, it never existed, it was just a mirage. So it goes with Selig Era numbers. You see a baseball player with 500 home runs, holy cow, the 500 club, that makes him one of the greatest players in baseball history and, oh, wait, it’s just Rafael Palmeiro. Like he never existed.

It seems like the BBWAA consensus has chosen a few hitters who, best anyone can tell, were clean (Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey, Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones) and will let them represent the Selig Era. In time, I suspect a few others surrounded by some whispers (Biggio, Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez) will get in. The rest? They will have to overcome an overpowering desire to make the Selig Era disappear … even if it was a lot of fun while it was going on.

The Selig Era was not the first crazy offensive era to come along in baseball. It happened from the early 1920s to the early 1930s. That era was known more for batting average than home runs — since 1900, the top 12 batting average seasons happened between 1921 and 1936. Bill James says that there were three major factors that led to insanely high batting averages:

1. The decision to get rid of the spitballers;
2. The fatal beaning of Ray Chapman, and
3. The immense popularity of Babe Ruth.

The game subtly shifted toward using fresh and new baseballs instead of the dirty ones that had marked Deadball. There were various other factors, some which we might never know for sure. But the point is that there were some crazy batting averages put up during that time. This would have a huge impact on the Hall of Fame — but not for many, many years. Take a look at these 10 Hall of Famers:
— Chuck Klein from 1928-1933 hit .359, led the league in homers four times, won a Triple Crown. He happened to be hitting in an amazing offensive time and in a ridiculous hitters park called the Baker Bowl. Hall of Fame voters of his time were unimpressed — Klein never got even 25% of the Hall of Fame vote. He was elected into the Hall by a veteran’s committee 36 years after he retired and 22 years after his death.

— Hack Wilson was a disappointment for the Giants, got traded to Chicago in 1926 and for the next five years in cozy Wrigley Field hit .331, led the league in homers four times and in 1930 knocked in 191 runs a record that may never be broken. He was traded to Brooklyn and faded rapidly. He never got 40% of the Hall of Fame vote, but was elected by the veteran’s committee 45 years after he retired and 32 years after he died.

— Earle Combs had a lifetime .325 batting average that he gathered while playing his entire career in the high-average era (his career was from 1924-35). He was on the 1955 Hall of Fame ballot and got one vote. He stayed on the ballot for a while longer and topped out at 16% of the vote. He was elected to the Hall by the vets in 1970, 35 years after his last game, but a few years before he died.

— Heine Manush hit .330 for his career. No contemporary writer thought of him as a Hall of Famer — he received one vote in each of his first two years on the ballot. In 1964, the veteran’s committee bizarrely voted him in. Well, it wasn’t that bizarre. The Hall of Fame was dying for ANYONE new because the writers had not voted in anyone in years. The veterans elected six people, including a couple of questionable pitchers (Red Faber and Burleigh Grimes) along with Manush.

— Kiki Cuyler was a .321 hitter for his career and led the league in stolen bases four times and runs twice. He topped out at 33.8% on the Hall of Fame ballot. He was elected by the veteran’s in 1968, 30 years after he retired and almost 20 years after he died.

— Sunny Jim Bottomley hit .310 for his career, led the league in homers once and RBIs twice, he topped out at 33.1% of the BBWAA vote and was elected 15 years after he died.

— Chick Hafey hit .317 for his career — led the league in hitting once. He got almost no support from the writers for the Hall but was elected by the veteran’s committee in 1971, a couple of years before he died.

— Freddie Lindstrom hit .311 for his career — led the league in hits once. He got almost no support from the writers for the Hall but was elected by the veteran’s committee in 1974, almost 40 years after he quit.

— Earl Averill was a .318 lifetime hitter — led the league in hits once and triples once. He got almost no support … well, you know this song. Averill was elected by the vets in 1975. “Averill paid thousands of dollars out of his own pocket to bring to Cooperstown the men who had campaigned for his election, which was laudable,” Bill James wrote, “and used his inauguration speech to blast the Hall of Fame for not electing him sooner, which was regrettable.”

— Lloyd Waner hit .316 for his career, never got 25% of the vote and was elected by the veteran’s in 1967.

So there are ten players who might not belong in the Baseball Hall of Fame — they wouldn’t be in my Hall of Fame — but they are in because they put up very high batting averages when batting average was cheap and plentiful. They didn’t take PEDs as far as we know, but the conditions were advantageous just the same. There were no black players in the Major Leagues, no Latin players, all games were day games, travel was local, baseball gloves weren’t as good, pitchers didn’t throw as hard, and pitchers were still trying to adapt to a time without spitballs and with clean baseballs.

The writers were not impressed by any of them. What happened was: Those high batting averages looked gaudy after the game had changed, after batting averages had fallen. I can’t help but wonder if something like that will happen in 30 or 40 years — maybe then people will look at the crazy offensive numbers of Sammy Sosa or Gary Sheffield or Carlos Delgado or Rafael Palmeiro and decide to put them into the Hall. I don’t know.

Anyway, here are the 16 players I don’t think will get 5% of the vote this year and, for fun, I predict about how many votes that will get:

— Aaron Boone (Prediction: 0).Hit a big homer.

— Tony Clark (Prediction: 0). The current executive director of the MLBPA … he had more big years than I remembered. Clark hit 30 homers four times and hit 251 for his career. He was born in Newton, Kansas, hometown of Tom Adair, a songwriter who wrote the Frank Sinatra hit “Let’s Get Away from it All” and a script writer who was involved in “Hogan’s Heroes,” “F Troop,” “Gomer Pyle” and “Hazel.” Quite a life, both of them.

— Eddie Guardado (Prediction: 0). Everyday Eddie was part of a weird trend in the mid-1990s — thoroughly ineffective pitchers who essentially pitched every other day. Guardado set a weird record in 1996. He was the first pitcher in baseball history to make more than 75 appearances and record an ERA of 5.00 or higher. He made 83 appearances that year with a 5.25 ERA. Well, he didn’t set the record along — that same year, Mike Myers also made 83 appearances with a 5.01 ERA, Brad Clontz made 81 appearances with a 5.69 ERA, and Curt Leskanic had the misfortune of making 70 appearances for the Rockies with a 6.23 ERA. This was the Selig Era. The game was hemorrhaging runs, and managers simply didn’t have enough good pitchers to stop the bleeding. So they used mediocre but durable pitchers just to get through. In time Guardado did become more effective — he led the league in saves in 2002 and added 41 more saves in 2003. He then signed a big money deal with Seattle and had a couple more fair seasons, though age drained his durability.

— Rich Aurilia (Prediction: 0). I have suggested in the past that the Hall of Fame should take more control of its ballot — Rich Aurilia was a perfectly fine player, and he had one big season, but he’s not a Hall of Fame candidate by anyone’s definition including, I suspect, his own. Still, because he did have that one crazy season (hit .324, led the league with 206 hits, banged 37 home runs) someone might vote for him (someone might also vote Aaron Boone for his one home run) rather than one of the 20 or so qualified candidates, making a mockery of the system. People have said that they don’t want the ballot controlled by a committee because that could lead to some monkey business; what they don’t get is that the ballot is ALREADY a committee that puts together the ballot. An example: Mark Loretta was probably a better player than Boone and perhaps Aurilia, but he was left off this ballot. Don’t get me wrong: Loretta should have been left off the ballot along with seven or eight of these players … Loretta was a good player who was clearly not a Hall of Famer. Ditto for Aurilia and Boone.

— Cliff Floyd (Prediction 0). He had five seasons where he played 120 or more games, and all five were good to excellent seasons. Floyd’s best year was with the Marlins in 2001 — he hit .317/390/.578 with 44 doubles, 31 homers, 18 stolen bases, 123 runs and 103 RBIs. There are many great Hall of Famers who never had raw numbers that that good in a single season. Roberto Clemente, for instance, never slugged .578. Then this was the zaniness of the Selig Era Floyd’s .578 slugging percentage in 2001 didn’t even put him in the Top 10.

— Jason Schmidt (Prediction: 0). He was a terrific pitcher in 2003 and 2004 after eight years of relative mediocrity. Up to 2003, Schmidt had a career 4.33 ERA, a 69-62 record, and a bloated 1.419 WHIP. But he had pitched better since being traded from Pittsburgh to San Francisco, and in 2003 he had a fantastic year — he led the league in ERA (2.34), shutouts (3) and WHIP (0.953). He had 200 strikeouts for the first time in his career and a career high 4.5-to-1 strikeout to walk. He had made himself into a true ace, and though his numbers were a little bit less gaudy in 2004 he was just about as effective. He pitched well enough the next two years to get a gigantic money offer from the Dodgers, at which point he broke down.

— Tom Gordon (Prediction: 0). I don’t want to reveal my thoughts on John Smoltz just yet, but I will say that Eck and Smoltz have created a new direct path to the Hall of Fame — be a good starter and a dominant reliever (even for a short time) and glory is yours. Flash Gordon didn’t pull it off, but his career had pieces of it. He showed promise as a rookie starter; he won 17 games with a 107 ERA+. At times it seemed he would become a good starter (he won double-digits six times) but it never quite happened. Then he went to Boston, became a closer and in 1998 he led the league with 46 saves and he got some MVP votes. He never had quite that good season again, but Gordon is one of only 14 pitchers who won 100 and saved 100 — and that list includes Hall of Famers Dennis Eckersley, Hoyt Wilhelm, Goose Gossage, Rollie Fingers and, soon, John Smoltz. In case you missed my earlier bit, I don’t think any of these seven players should be clumping up this ballot.

— Jermaine Dye (Prediction: 0 or 1). Now we’re beginning to see some of the crazy offensive numbers of the 1990s — Jermaine Dye hit more home runs than George Brett, Joe Morgan, Ryne Sandberg, Brooks Robinson or Robin Yount. None of those guys was famous for home runs, of course, but the point is Dye hit 325 home runs in his fine career. In 2006 hit hit .315 with 44 homers and 120 RBIs, which would have won him the National League Triple Crown in 1988. Yes 2006 for the White Sox was a lot different from the 1988 National League, but that’s the point, isn’t it? Dye won a Gold Glove in 2000, and I watched him almost every day then and thought he was a good defender. He had a great arm. As time went on, he became a defensive liability because even as a young man he couldn’t run at all. I remember Dye telling me once in 2000 that teams threw over to first a lot when he reached base because he was African American, and they just refused to believe he couldn’t run. That was a pretty reasonable explanation; after all, in 2000 he didn’t steal a single base.

— Troy Percival (Prediction: 0 to 2). He was one of the hardest throwing pitchers in baseball history, and some of my favorite memories of the 1990s are of him facing Jim Thome, power against power, the very essence of Selig Era baseball. Percival would throw 100 mph. Thome would hit the ball 500 feet. Percival is ninth all-time in saves (358), higher on the list than every Hall of Famer except Dennis Eckersley. Then, Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman have pushed the saves record over 600, dwarfing even Lee Smith, who has been languishing on the ballot for years. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Percival get a vote or two.

— Darin Erstad (Prediction: 0 to 2). Oh those Selig Era numbers. In 2000, Darin Erstad hit .355/.409/.541 with 240 hits, 39 doubles, 25 homers, 28 steals, 121 runs, 100 RBIs — I mean, seriously, for one year he was Stan Musial. He never hit .300 again, never again even managed a .355 on-base percentage, much less a .355 batting average. He never hit 20 homers again. Never managed 180 hits in a season. His career OPS+ was 93. Erstad’s 2000 season must go down as one of the great fluke years in baseball history; and it might get him a vote or two. Erstad was the first pick in the 1995 draft — taken ahead of Todd Helton and Roy Halladay — he was a superb outfielder and a hustling player. Other than 2000, though, he was a below-average hitter.

— Brian Giles (Prediction: 0 to 3). Now we’re getting to some of those amazing facts listed at the top of the story. Giles is the player with a .400 lifetime on-base percentage and more batting runs than Pete Rose. How crazy is that? Giles was an on-base machine — he walked 100-plus five times in his career. In 2002 he had a crazy year where he had a .450 on-base percentage and .622 slugging. I mean those are RIDICULOUS numbers historically. Put it this way: Before the 1994 strike, there were 18 players who managed a .450 OBP and .620 SLG in the same season and they are some of the greatest players in baseball history (Ruth, Williams, Gehrig, Hornsby, Foxx, Bonds, Mantle were the only ones to do it more than once). Since 1994, well, 12 players have done it including Giles and six other players on this year’s ballot.

Giles finished with a career .400 on-base, a career .500 slugging and 50 WAR — he had a better statistical career than dozens of Hall of Famers. But for me he’s not a Hall of Famer, not really close. He might not get a single vote.

— Carlos Delgado (Prediction: 1-4). OK, Delgado is the one who had more homers (473) than Carl Yastrzemski and more RBIs (1,512) than Mickey Mantle. He hit 30-plus homers 11 times and three times hit 40-plus homers. He led the league with 57 doubles one year and led the league with 145 RBIs one year. Delgado was a masher who certainly would have hit 500 homers had his career not abruptly ended the year he turned 37. But all the numbers of the Selig Era are viewed as an illusion and Delgado will get almost no Hall of Fame support. I’m not saying he’s a Hall of Famer; he’s below my Hall of Fame line. I am saying that if a veteran’s committee can vote in Jim Bottomley or Heinie Manush because of high batting averages, a veteran’s committee might someday be impressed by all those Delgado homers and RBIs.

— Nomar Garciaparra (Prediction: 5 or so). You probably picked Nomah out of the players listed at the time. Among shortstops with 5,000 plate appearances, the highest OPS belongs to Nomah. Yep. Higher OPS than Wagner, Jeter, Larkin, Ripken, you name it. Of course, this is largely because of the time when he played, but let’s not miss that Nomah was a fantastic hitter in the late 1990s. His 1997 through 2000 seasons would absolutely fit right into even the greatest Hall of Famers careers — combined he hit .337, averaged 28 homers, 110 runs, 105 RBIs, he slugged .577. In 2000, he hit .372 and hit the ball about as hard as anyone I’ve seen. After an injury-ruined 2001, he came back and hit 56 doubles in 2002 — it seemed like every other minute he was whacking a ball off the Green Monster. Of course, he was traded in 2004, the year the Red Sox broke the curse, and I always thought that was a shame.

Nomah was 30 when he got traded and, at that point, he was on pace for the Hall. He had a career .322 average, and about the same WAR (42.4) as his great rival Derek Jeter (44.6). But while Jeter had another decade of excellence, Nomar’s career more or less ended the day he was traded. He couldn’t stay healthy. He had one pretty good year with the Dodgers at 32 but his body had broken down. Few probably remember that Nomah ended his career in Oakland. Tom Tango has been asking the question: How many hall-of-fame seasons should a Hall of Fame player have? Nomah had six great seasons — but those six seasons essentially make up the entirety of his career. Are six great seasons enough if not supplemented with a half dozen or so good to average seasons? The voters will decisively say: “No.”

The next three players COULD get 5%, but I predict they won’t.

— Don Mattingly (less than 5%). This is Mattingly’s last year on the ballot anyway; but I don’t think he will get to 5%, which is weird because players usually get a boost their final year. Anyway, it’s probably for the best. I loved Don Mattingly. Every single person my age loved Don Mattingly. He was, as I’ve written before, the very essence of baseball cool in the 1980s. He led the league in doubles three straight years, hit .337 between 1984 and 1987, won Gold Gloves, just was everything a baseball player was supposed to be. But his Hall of Fame case has always been pretty slight — he wasn’t good enough for long enough. The Kirby Puckett comparison is often made but (1) Puckett was a borderline Hall of Fame choice AND he had a better overall career than Mattingly; (2) A better comparison is with Keith Hernandez, who was a contemporary first baseman with a similar (perhaps superior) Hall of Fame case. Hernandez faded off the ballot after nine years.

— Sammy Sosa (less than 5%). I think Sosa falls off the ballot this year. I think Mark McGwire could fall off too, but I have this feeling McGwire will survive. I don’t think Sosa will.

Sosa is the central figure in Hannibal Buress’s epic steroid bit where he imagines a father and young son going to a Cubs game, watching Sosa hit a homer in the ninth inning to win the game, jumping up and down and knowing they will remember the moment for the rest of their lives. At which point Buress says, “What I’m saying is, if you’re against steroids, you’re against family.”

It’s hard to keep up, but as of right now Sosa has never admitted using steroids — his strong denial in front of Congress still stands as his lasting statement. The New York Times reported that he was on a list of players who tested positive in 2003, an experimental year of testing where the names were supposed to be kept confidential. Someone leaked that, obviously. Anyway, even before the Times report it has long been assumed by the vast majority of baseball fans that Sosa used PEDs … the so-called evidence being that the guy bulked up and hit 66, 64 and 63 home runs in his three biggest years.

I don’t disqualify a player for using PEDs in the wild and wooly Selig Era, so I don’t know how I feel about Sosa’s Hall of Fame case. He’s not particularly close to being one of the 10 best players on this ballot in my book, so I obviously didn’t vote for him. Would I vote for him in a simple “yes or no” ballot? Close. His case is almost all home runs. Over his career, he didn’t really get on base, he wasn’t a particularly good defender, he wasn’t a very good base runner. He mashed 600 home runs, though and had four or five crazy seasons. Right on the border. But it won’t matter.

— Gary Sheffield (Prediction: Less than 5%). This is my big call — as of right now, Sheffield has 8.1% of the vote in Repoz’s brilliant Hall of Fame collecting gizmo, which puts him above the 5% threshold. I think when all the votes come in, though, he will fall off the ballot, which is kind of crazy because Sheffield was an amazing baseball player.

Sheffield is a Bill James favorite — Bill talks often about how much he loved the way Sheff played. I did too. He’s listed above as the player with 500 homers who created more runs than Brett, Schmidt or Wagner. You remember how everybody kept talking about the fearsomeness of Jim Rice? Well, Gary Sheffield was truly fearsome. I loved watch him hit. He’d waggle that bat behind him like he had just been wronged in some terrible way and he was ready to hit ANYTHING — a fastball, a slider, a passing taxi, a meteorite. I never understood how Sheffield could look so wild-eyed and out of control as the pitch came and yet he almost never struck out. He was an absolute wonder at the plate.

Defensive metrics rank him as one of the worst defenders in baseball history. Based only on offense, Sheffield has no-doubt Hall of Fame numbers — his offensive WAR is the same as Frank Thomas, ahead of Al Kaline, Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield and many other Hall of Famers. But Baseball Reference has him an almost unbelievable 28.3 wins worse than the average fielder; Fangraphs says he cost his teams 205 runs over the years. I don’t remember him being that bad defensively. I don’t remember him being good, but I don’t remember him being that bad.

On my ballot, Sheffield was simply a victim of numbers. I never could consider if Sheffield was a Hall of Fame caliber player because, for me, he wasn’t one of the 10 best players on THIS ballot. If given a yes or no vote, I’d vote yes for Sheffield. But my prediction is that because of the overcrowded ballot and because of Sheffield’s admitted PED use he won’t get the 5% and will fall off the ballot. At that point, I think he he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Sosa and maybe McGwire in that weird Selig Era limbo.

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90 Responses to Hall of Fame: The Less-Than-5 Percenters

  1. ajnrules says:

    Well you have voters like John Tomase who are voting strategically by leaving Biggio to make sure Sheffield stays on the ballot, so I think Sheffield stays on.

    And for what it’s worth, Cliff Floyd has a higher bWAR than Lloyd Waner. Darin Erstad has a higher bWAR than Chick Hafey and Freddie Lindstrom. Carlos Delgado has a higher bWAR than Bottomley, Combs, Wilson, and Klein. Brian Giles has a higher bWAR than all of them.

    • Karyn says:

      Sure, but several of those guys are widely regarded as undeserving Hall of Famers. I’m not convinced there should be a method of extraction from the Hall, but if there were, a coupld of those fellas would be on my short list.

    • jalabar says:

      Raphi Palmeiro was always the strange case to me. I hear a lot of people talk about the mythical numbers… 500 HRs, 3000 hits. To get to those numbers, even if one is a tremendous player, one almost has to also be a compiler. Raphi was never one of the top 3 players at his position, mostly because he played first base during an era of mashing first basemen. But the guy got both 500 HRs AND 3000 hits, and even before his positive drug test I heard people talk about him as a future ‘borderline’ candidate. Why? It seems to me that, if 3000 hits or 500 HRs are mythical numbers that used to make people a ‘lock’, then to get both would make one a double lock. Now, I understand that Raphi will likely NEVER get in, as he is one of the few that was actually caught and disciplined in a sanctioned test. But it always surprised me the lack of fevor around his candidacy. I think, if as Raphi says he did not take steroids and was a victim of a tainted test (whether through genuine ignorance of using something that was a steroid or just a bad test), it’s a huge shame that he won’t get the consideration he deserved based strictly on his product on-field.

      Had Raphael Palmeiro not tested positive, would he have been a HoFer and how long would it have taken?

      • Karyn says:

        You know, I think it’s at least possible that Palmeiro was telling the truth and that his use was inadvertent. It was early on in the testing, and players were still learning that you can’t just use any supplement or whatever that you order up from overseas. His story was that Miguel Tejada shared some ‘B-12’ shots with him–and there were inconsistencies with what Tejada said and what two other teammates said. Tejada was named in the Mitchell Report (rightly or wrongly), and Palmeiro was not.

        None of this answers your question. I think if Tejada had not tested positive, he’d be in the Hall of Fame now, and possibly on his first ballot.

        • Rob Smith says:

          Palmeiro had 45 HRs in his first five years. Then proceeded to hit over 560 career HRs, including 40 HRs 4 times, (twice after age 35 btw), and drive in 140 runs twice. If there was ever a career arc that screamed “steroids”, beyond the poster children Bonds and Clemens, it was Palmeiro. Once shouldn’t have any doubt that he used. One can argue that everyone else was using too, but believing that Palmeiro somehow had a tainted test is like believing in the tooth fairy.

          • Karyn says:

            In the 86 season, Palmeiro was 21 years old, played in 22 games with 78 plate appearances. He hit three homers. In 1987, he also did not play a full season, with fewer than 250 PA. 1988 was a good year for him, although he only hit HR, his doubles total shot up over 40. For some reason, his power dropped off in 1989–his ISO fell thirty points–but he was otherwise a good hitter. His age 25 season, 1990, saw the power come back up as he led the league in hits with 191. He didn’t hit forty HR in a season until 1998 (age 33).

            If you want to include two partial seasons that didn’t add to 350 PA, and then say his first five seasons show him to have only middlin’ power–and then claim that he clearly blew up after that and must have been juicing–you’re going to have to do better than that.

        • manimalof7 says:

          I thought I was the biggest Tejada fan out there (guess not), but he’s nowhere near the HOF statistically. Shame on Palmeiro for ratting him out though.

          • Did he really “rat” Tejada out? He claimed that he had no idea how steroids could have shown up in his system and then listed everything that he took and how he acquired them, which included the B12 from Tejada. Although it gets reported as such, I do not think that Palmeiro specifically blamed the B12 and only the B12 (at least initially before the press pounced on that one substance). Plus, Tejada pleaded guilty to perjury, and Congress investigated Palmeiro’s testimony for perjury and found no evidence that he (Palmeiro) lied to them. If Palmeiro did not take PEDs knowingly—and I acknowledge that Congress’s failure to find evidence of perjury is not the exact same as determining that he was telling the truth—then I do not fault him for claiming that he must have tested positive from taking something tainted and then inventorying everything that could be the possible source.

      • MikeN says:

        I would not vote for Palmeiro even without any steroid rumors. Impressive totals, but I never thought of him as one of the best players.

        • KHAZAD says:

          Palmeiro was a slugging first baseman in an era filled with them. Ignoring the steroid issue, I wonder if anyone would trade one of the other power first baseman for him? I doubt it. Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas, Mark Mcgwire, Fred Mcgriff,Carlos Delgado, Jim Thome, Mo Vaughn, Jason Giambi You can throw some not quite as powerful guys in there as well – John Olerud, Will Clark.

          There are more whose career dovetailed with the beginning or end of Palmeiro’s career. He had a long career, and good counting numbers, but does anyone who was alive at the time see him in the top half of the above list? (Many of whom will also not make the HOF) I certainly don’t.

          • I definitely would have rather had Palmeiro over Olerud, McGriff, and Vaughn at varying points in their careers and would have traded one of them to have him. Guys like Delgado who are nearly a decade younger aren’t a fair comparison as you’d almost always want to have the younger guy.

            It’s almost like Palmeiro gets punished for having such a long career because one can point to a number of guys who were better than him when he was young and to a number of guys who were better than him when he was old 20 years later and get two generations of players better than him.

          • Bpdelia says:

            Bagwell Thomas are the only sure fire no on that list.

            McGwire was injured all the time so i wouldn’t have made that trade. The rest were inferior players.

            I think compilers SHOULD be in. Being good enough to have teams give you enough at bats to get over 3000 hits and 500 hr is an amazing accomplishment.

            Also the whole, he didn’t buy for power early is ridiculous. He came up when he was a kid.

            I’m 38 now and I’m almost twice as big and strong as i was at 21. My back and shoulders have gotten so much bigger.

            For me palmiero is a solid yes.

            But then I’m a yes I’m Tommy John and kitty as well.

      • Sure he would, and first year, too-also if he hadn’t tested positive, he probably would have played longer, probably making 600/3000, conceivably although it’s a long shot making it to 600/3500. Even if that’s compiling, it’s amazing stuff.

      • Palmeiro is another very good player that never achieved a truly great season or excelled in a particular tool. He never put up that monster season of greatness let alone multiple seasons. 99 maybe, but again considering the era and his part in it, it’s not enough. I see him like Fred McGriff, maybe a step above, but not Hall level.

  2. bake mcbride says:

    if we assume pitchers used PEDs too, wouldn’t Jason Schmidt fit the profile?
    blah first few years, then out of nowhere explodes into a star, then breaks down with injuries?
    we never hear him mentioned among PED users.

    • sbmcmanus says:

      People are much more willing to jump on hitters as alleged steroid users because they typically look more “steroidy”, i.e. large and lumbering and bulging.

    • Anon says:

      If we’re going to play that game then Nolan Ryan absolutely looks like a steroid candidate – sudden comeback in his numbers in his mid to late 30’s after a few years of decline, played with a LOT of guys that are centerpieces in the steroid whisper machine (Canseco who isn’t really a whisper, Pudge, Palmeiro, Caminiti, even Brian Downing).

      THat’s the problem with the steroid “whisper” angle – you have to be willing to believe that Nolan Freaking Ryan was juicing . . . . .

      • owenpoin says:

        I’d never thought of that, because I always thought of Ryan as too old for the steroid era, but yes, he does seem to suddenly transform in 1987. Outside of a completely bonkers 1973 (8.9 fWAR with a 10.57 k/9 and a 4.47 bb/9, oh and 326 innings), ’87 was his best year by fWAR to date (6.6), then he topped that in ’89. His k/9 were the two highest of his career those years. He had two more 5ish WAR seasons after that. This was after a 5 year stretch of hanging around 3.5-4 WAR. Also, I can’t avoid saying this, when you think Nolan Ryan, do you think of a guy who would put piety above getting an edge (and keeping up with the sluggers)? I know it’s nebulous territory, but I don’t. As of five minutes ago, I’m guessing Ryan juiced, and I don’t even like him less for it. He was insanely good and unlike any pitcher I know. He walked 4.67/9 for his career and still had a FIP under 3. Nuts.

      • I was an Angels season ticket holder and basically the only reason to have them back in the day was to watch Nolan Ryan pitch. Needless to say, I was a huge fan. My Mom actually ceased to be an Angels fan when he left the team. She was furious that the Angels didn’t retain him.

        His long career as a power pitcher has only someone like Clemens as a comparison. But it’s tough to match up Ryan with the steroid career arc, or with other users playing on the same team (guilt by association). Unlike Clemens, he didn’t have a decline followed by a remarkable assension in his late 30s. He basically just never really declined, except for the fact that he stopped having 300 inning seasons and, of course, lost the 100 MPH heater (though he still threw plenty hard).

        As far as the players you mentioned, though they both played for the Angels and the Rangers, Ryan didn’t actually play with Brian Downing (who was likely one of the steroid early adopters) until 1991 with Texas when Ryan was 44. Ryan and Palmeiro were on the Rangers as early as 1989, but Palmeiro had no power until at least 1991, when he hit 26 HRs. Ivan Rodriguez was a rookie with Texas in 1991 and basically had no power until after Ryan retired. Conseco didn’t play for Texas until 1991. You can see the whole Texas connection lining up starting in 1991 with Canseco’s arrival, but that didn’t happen until Ryan was in his last couple of years and already in his mid 40s. Caminiti played his first two years with Ryan in Houston, years in which Caminiti hit four total HRs in 300+ ABs. So, the guilt by association line doesn’t really match up with any of these guys when they were likely started using.

        Ryan could have been an early adopter. That’s possible. But you don’t see evidence of an odd career arc, or any major injury breakdowns that you’d expect to see with trail blazers. Bottom line: it’s a really hard case to make. The only evidence is that he had a great career as a power pitcher for longer than anyone else. That’s not really evidence.

        • Anon says:

          First off: the point was that if we’re going to talk whispers, Ryan kind of fits in. INjury issues in his early 30’s, prolonged late career success and played with lots of guys who either did roids or have been whispered about. I don’t think RYan did juice but this is the whisper game, evidence isn’t really relevant.
          Secondly: the fact that those guys weren’t yet hitting for power doesn’t mean that they didn’t get introduced to roids at that time. Heck, in this whisper game, maybe they even were introduced to them by Ryan.
          Third: the point is that the whispers about other guys juicing is probably just as ridiculous as believing that RYan juiced.

          • All I was saying is that you can whisper because he was either a freak of nature or chemically enhanced…. but lining him up with the usual suspects doesn’t really work. And it does make a difference whether they were hitting HRs at the time they played with Ryan. Without going through it player by player, the time each of them allegedly started using didn’t line up with when they were playing with Ryan. So, Ryan pretty much would have had to have been one of the first big time users if he did use. So, any whispers with Ryan are pretty thin. The original poster cited 1987 as a late career jump in numbers. A jump yes, but not out of nowhere. So, if he started, let’s say prior to the 1987 season, then you’re saying that he started when he was 40. That doesn’t account for the prior 8-9 seasons when you would have expected to see some decline. Could he have started at 40 to prolong his already long career? Yes, it’s possible. But the jump at age 40 isn’t that big. His strikeouts did jump up to 11.5/9 vs. 9.8/9 the prior year. But most of his other stats were pretty similar.WHIP and FIP were slightly worse. When looking at this “evidence” it feels like trying to make the facts fit a pre-determined conclusion. The obvious late career change just isn’t there.

            As for the other guys, I’m at the point of dismissing whispers. So, I’d vote for Bagwell and Piazza. But Sosa, Palmeiro, Bonds and McGwire all either tested positive at some point or admitted using (sometimes claiming they didn’t “knowingly” use). With them, it’s not a whisper campaign. There is hard evidence.

    • jroth95 says:

      When he was acquired by the Pirates, and as a Pirate, he was shut who was absolutely supposed tobe a (borderline) ace. That is, he doesn’t fit the profile of an average regular who suddenly has a Koufaxeasque season, because he was always supposed to be, not Koufax, but maybe Tiant.

      That said, you could be right. Nobody seems to know what ‘roided up pitchers look like, so maybe Schmidt is it. But I think that, by analogy with hitters, he doesn’t fit the profile. With him, the question isn’t why he had 2 dominant years; it’s why he didn’t have 5.

  3. I think it warrants mention that the Selig Era also includes: pitchers getting the same steroid advantage, the expansion by 4 teams, shorter fences in new ball parks, and advances in clean training, too. Letting the argument be just about steroids is part of the reason people get hung up, because it is one facet that always is made the centerpiece.

    • jroth95 says:

      Joe is in your corner on this. He’s long held that non-PED factors could account for most of what we saw in that era. But the point of this piece is that context matters, and some of these guys, with zero steroid rumors, look unimpressive due to context. The other point is that most of them truly were unimpressive, so it’s fine, but it’s also weird.

  4. Bill James pointed out somewhere that in game 7 of the 1931 World Series, Chick Hafey and his league leading .349 BA and .404 OBP rode the bench. And wasn’t injured or sick. Can you imagine Alan Trammell or Tim Raines or even Dwight Evans sitting out game 7 of the Series? His manager (Gabby Street) obviously knew more about him than the Veterans Committee.

    It’s hard for today’s fans to imagine what it was like to begin following baseball in the early 1950s and looking at all these crazy numbers from the 1920s and 1930s that none of the guys you were watching every day could come close to. Other than WIlliams and Musial, everybody looked second rate. Jackie Robinson hit .311 lifetime (in those days, we didn’t even know about his .400 OBP) — that was NOTHING compared to Manush or Cuyler. Yogi Berra didn’t even hit .300. Even Mantle and Mays and Aaron looked like they couldn’t measure up.

    Here’s hoping that thanks to Bill James and those who followed in his footsteps, my grandchildren won’t have that inferiority complex to deal with when they contemplate Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro.

    • doncoffin64 says:

      For those of you who want to see it, the box score is here :
      courtesy of Baseball Reference.

      In games 1-6, he was 4-24–all singles unless I misread something.

      • Hugh G. Retro says:

        If Gabby Street really “knew more about Chick Hafey than the Veterans Committee,” maybe Street shouldn’t have given him 24 at-bats in one World Series?

        • I think the evidence shows that Hafey was having a poor series and got benched by his manager. If you follow baseball, a lot of HOF players got benched at some point in their careers…. though these days, and often in the past, managers would just say they are getting a couple of days off… coincidentally after they’ve gone 0-30. Unless your name is Reggie Jackson and your manager was Billy Martin, most of the time these things fly under the radar.

  5. Faye Schlift says:

    When considering Sosa, don’t forget he didn’t just rely on PED’s.
    Liked to cork the bat too, just in case.

    • sbmcmanus says:

      That one is more forgivable (or at least forgettable) because the science shows that it doesn’t actually help you hit the ball farther/better/whatever.

      • Karyn says:

        Unless there’s some reason to believe that Sosa knew this, I don’t think it matters. He believed he was cheating, ie, breaking the rules to gain a competitive advantage.

  6. Ian says:

    I like Tango’s article – I think Raines is a much closer candidate than a lot of other people do and it’s nice to see Tango recognize that. Not sure how much weight you want to give WAR results from the 30s (or WAR results that are strongly dependent on baserunning/defense) but Earl Averill’s 10 year peak is basically equivalent to Raines’ 10 year peak.

    • Ian R. says:

      Raines, though, gets shafted a bit because his 1987 season just misses the 7 WAR cutoff in Tango’s methodology, and he missed a month of that season because of collusion. He also almost certainly would have had another 4 WAR (at least) season in 1981 were it not for the strike. Take away the labor strife and he’s a 2-4-6-7, which seems rather more palatable.

  7. Tim says:

    I always loved looking at the career of chuck Klein. Those 5 years were amazing. Sure a 250’foot fence helped that but I always thought it was amazing no one else with the.exception of ? Ah I forget the name. He served as ambassador in Japan, aside from him no one else hit that way.

  8. Phil says:

    Always love reading Joe on the HOF. One minor quibble: I think it’s misleading to say Sheffield “almost never struck out.” For a power hitter, he struck out at a modest rate, agreed–never hit 100 in a season, was never in his league’s Top 10. But he did total 1171 over his career, usually somewhere in the 60-70 range when he got in a full season.

  9. tangotiger says:


    “McCoy admitted he might be the only BBWAA member to vote for Aaron Boone, who McCoy credited with helping to convince him to continue his writing career several years ago despite problems with his vision.”

  10. Chris K. says:

    These Hall of Fame posts by Joe are amongst my favorite every year..

  11. I honestly thought that ever player who plays the minimum ten seasons for eligibility was put on the ballot. Is it possible that was correct at one time? At any rate, I don’t see any reason NOT to do it that way. I don’t understand why those names “clog up the ballot” in any meaningful way. If no one votes for them, what harm did they do? And if someone does vote for them, let them have the opportunity to do so. Better than the risk that some committee will keep a deserving player off.

  12. […] Joe Posnanski | JoeBlogs: JoePoz takes a look at the likely bottom of the Hall of Fame ballot. Some of the greatest hitters in MLB history are likely to fall off the ballot because the Selig Era was so overwhelming offensively. […]

  13. Jon Kopplin says:

    I hate to admit, but the pro football hall of fame does a much better job at electing players into their hall. You could argue that too many are selected, but at least a new group of past greats is celebrated each year. You never have to worry that nobody is going to be picked. (This obviously is not the current case in the baseball hall, but it has been in the past.) If the baseball hall followed a similar process back logged candidates like Raines and Trammell may have been enshrined already. Now, people who are small hall advocates might not like this, but sometimes I think it is easier to be beatified by the Catholic church than enshrined into Cooperstown.

    • Scott P. says:

      Too many elected? I thought it was widely agreed that the Football Hall of Fame elects too few players, particularly linemen.

    • David Cohen says:

      Agree 100 percent. It also works to the benefit of the Football Hall that everyone, regardless of who nominated them, is elected by the same committee. Standardizes the process so that no enshrinee is any less “valid” than any other.

    • Agree with Scott P. Getting into the NFL HOF is tough. Don’t forget, there are a lot more NFL players to consider (currently 53 roster players each team) and with short career averages, the players are getting recycled every year. And, you have more players like Gayle Sayers to consider with very short, but spectacular careers, that are derailed by major injuries. There is no 10 year of service requirement.

      I do like that the NFL process includes “rounds” of trimming the field into finalists. This helps get rid of the 5%ers and even the next level of guys who were Hall of really good guys. The tough part is that once you get to that final round, and are essentially a top tier player, you don’t necessarily get elected. But you don’t go through years and years where nobody gets elected because of what Joe calls “Bad Math”. They do have a serious backlog to address, however.

  14. tombando says:

    Oh goody here we go, bashing Averill and glomming him in w Hafey etc. Guy gets in the majors at 27, mashes like crazy for a decade, but that ain’t good enough? Minoso does the same thing its all ooo put him in. Nice.

    Manush, Cuyler and Grimes ain’t your ideas of Hof? Can we hear the Rueschel and Grich bandwagoning again? Seriously?

    Where’s the Jimmy Wynn campaign. Gag. Poz, Sod off on the narrative bullshit, ok? Bernie Kosar would want you too.

    • Karyn says:

      How does it make you feel to come read a writer you so clearly dislike, and post a bunch of negative stuff every time? I’m curious as to what you get from doing this.

  15. MikeN says:

    So when Troy Percival told you this did he say ‘African American’ or did he say ‘black’?

  16. EnzoHernandez11 says:

    So here’s my bitter irony of the day: within the next decade, Bud Selig will be selected for the Hall of Fame, while the very best players of the “Selig Era” will still be locked out. Pretty soon, the history represented in Cooperstown will be on par with the history books produced by the old USSR. Consider this scenario:

    In the HoF: Bowie Kuhn, Bud Selig
    Out of the HoF: Marvin Miller, Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens

    (And, yeah, I know that Rose, Bonds, and Clemens are included in various HoF exhibits. It’s not the same.)

    In this column, you can clearly see Bud Selig’s legacy (other than the thousands of fans who quit MLB after the ’94 strike). After allowing steroids to flourish for a decade or more, he then threw his sport under the bus by embracing the notion that steroids alone had tainted the game and its records. (Can you imagine Pete Rozelle or David Stern doing something like that?) As a result, we can’t even figure out how to measure greatness anymore. Can there be a more damning epitaph for a sports commissioner?

    • Karyn says:

      Pete Rose made his own bed.

    • I don’t think you’ll find many people, outside of the owners, who think Selig should be a HOFer. But the owners run the sport. What can you do?

      • Blake says:

        I dislike Selig immensely and disagree with practically every change he wrought on the sport.

        But he’s a Hall of Famer because of those changes: interleague play, second- and third-place teams in the playoffs. Selig was far more than a timekeeper as commissioner, he had a huge impact.

        That said, I am soooo glad I don’t again have to hear him grab the microphone and ruin a moment of triumph for a team by droning on about Chevrolet or whatever other sponsor was standing beside him.

  17. Clayton says:

    Well said, Enzo! David Stern was a terrible commish and deserves to be buried under the same scrutiny that Bonds, Clemens, and all the other creatures he helped create are put under.

  18. Clayton says:

    CORRECTION – NOT David Stern but BUD SELIG. My bad. Had basketball on my brain, sorry.

  19. NevadaMark says:

    Under what possible criterion was Bowie Kuhn elected to the Hall of Fame? Someone please tell me what he actually DID that is Hall of Fame worthy.

    As for Bud Selig, CANCELLING THE WORLD SERIES pretty much says it all. Were Pete Rose’s sins greater than that?

    • manimalof7 says:

      Can we put him in a special wing with Tom Yawkey?

    • Don’t connect Pete Rose to Bowie Kuhn. You won’t find many fans that think Kuhn belongs in the HOF. Pete Rose has his own issues to deal with…. obviously starting with getting himself off the Permanently Ineligible list. I suspect that if he managed to climb that mountain and gain official forgiveness from MLB, it would become increasingly difficult for voters not to vote him in. I don’t like Rose, at all. But, If I had a vote, and he made it on the ballot by jumping through whatever hoops got him on there, I would vote for him.

      • Karyn says:

        I would probably take the same position as you. To my mind, at this point, Rose would have to do some pretty significant acts of contrition to have the ban lifted and get placed on the ballot.

        If I had a Willy Wonka Golden HoF Ballot, I would be forced to assume that if the Lords of Baseball found Rose to be sufficiently penitent, it was probably genuine and I’d vote for him.

  20. Cooper Nielson says:

    “Among shortstops with 5,000 plate appearances, the highest OPS belongs to Nomah.”

    I don’t think this is right, at least without some additional qualifiers, such as “retired.”

    Nomar’s career OPS (6,116 PA) was .882. As a shortstop (4,724 PA), it was .906.

    At the moment, A-Rod’s career OPS (11,344 PA) is .942. As a shortstop (5,667 PA), it’s actually even higher, at .963. And although he has now played less than 50% of his career (by games and PA) at shortstop, he’s still played shortstop more than he’s played any other position.

  21. MisterMJ says:

    Great writing as usual but gotta call out Joe’s “don’t let facts get in the way of a nice narrative” tendency. Flash Gordon did not show “promise” as a starter as a rookie in 1989. He won 17 games that year but he was 10-2 in 33 relief appearances and 7-7 in 16 fairly nondescript starts (3.99 ERA, 1.32 WHIP). During his career, he was a mediocre-to-bad starter (203 starts, 73-73 record, 4.40 ERA and 1.47 WHIP).

    • sbmcmanus says:

      I disagree. I followed baseball most closely in the 1990s (when I was a teenager, so I had plenty of free time to watch games back then!) and I clearly remember Gordon’s “Rookie of the Year” quality first year being brought up many times as his career went along. The context was typically “whatever happened to such a promising rookie?” Remember that back then no one was parsing the stats the way you were – 17 wins was 17 wins and that was a good pitcher!

      The ROY vote that year is really quite amazing. In first by a wide margin – Gregg Olson and his 27 saves. Gordon and his 17 wins was a distant second. Another big drop to the third place finisher – a certain Ken Griffey Jr.

      I miss my childhood.

    • This. My memory and, most importantly, the actual stats MisterMJ brought up have Gordon as a mediocre starter as a rookie in 1989. His success was in relief. Not a HOFer by any stretch, but a heck of a career. Not many people get to put on a uniform as a player for for more than 15, let alone the 20ish seasons Gordon pitched.

  22. Brent says:

    As a Royals fan I can tell you exactly why Flash was a mediocre starter and a good to great reliever. He had 2 pitches. That is all he ever had. That curve ball was awesome, but when he wasn’t getting it over the plate, he was dead meat as a starter. As a reliever, and specifically as a closer, he could get away with no curve ball for an inning or two, but you just can’t throw fastballs for 7 innings and expect to do well.

  23. Brian says:

    “no Latin players”

    OK, I admit this is a nitpick, but that’s not actually true. Several dozen white (or light-skinned) Latin players (mostly, but not exclusively, Cuban) played in MLB before the color line was broken. The most famous was probably Dolf Luque, who had a borderline Hall of Fame career, and pitched during the high offense era in the 20s Joe was writing about.

  24. Tim says:

    These comments about Palmer are asinine. Palmer experienced a normal career arc home run wise. He went from 14 a year in earlier 20s to 26 mid twenty. His body never bulked up. He played in two notorious hitter friendly parks later on and in his mid 30s his batting average.dropped while homeruns stay consistent. Meaning he.cheated on more pitches and it showed in his decline late.30s. His career arc is completely normal. He’ll, why would he use steroids knowingly the year he was gonna get.3000 hits? I think it’s a shame he’s been ostracized as he h as. I firmly believe he did not knowingly take steroids. His career was over. He was so underappreciated in his career when he was playing. It’s a big big shame people won’t remember it for what it was

  25. Tim says:

    Palmeiro. Damn auto correct

  26. John M. says:

    Yo Joe! Will you PLEASE just write a book on the HoF – its beginnings, its history, its ups and downs, etc. Heck, you’ve probably already done the work, just compile, edit, publish…

  27. Tim says:

    Speaking of averill. Why did he debit so late at the age of 27? I think his ten year peak was fantatic. I forget off the top of my head but at least.7 seasons of four war and a bunch over 5. He’s a solid hofer in my book.

    • As I recall, he got a late start in his major league career partly because he grew up in Washington state at a time before major league scouting was efficient enough to cover the whole of the US adequately, so he got scouted and signed by a PCL team rather than a major league team. Back then, the minor leagues were independent and not controlled by the major league teams, so minor league teams were not required to let the major league teams have their best players and could hold on to players for as long as they wanted. The minor league teams often would refuse to deal someone who was major league-ready in order to drive up the price that they could get for selling the player’s contract to a major league team.

      When Averill’s contract finally was sold, he wanted a piece of it and threatened to stop playing ball altogether rather than report to Cleveland without a bump in pay or a piece of the fee that Cleveland paid to acquire his services. I don’t know if that played a role in delaying his debut, but I would not be shocked if being someone who would make a stand like that made major league teams balk at wanting to pay the fee for what is services on the field were worth.

  28. Chris H says:

    Averill always stood out for me (as a Cleveland fan) because until the early ’00s he was the Indians’ all time HR leader with 226. I have always been surprised that, as successful a team as the Indians were up until about 1960, they never had a real masher. Knowing the historical context makes it a bit clearer – basically, they missed the power revolution post-deadball. And in the ’50s-early ’90s played most of their games in Cavernous Cleveland Stadium.

    Of course, Colavito would be their all-time leader, but Cleveland fans know how that ended….

    They didn’t miss the Selig-era power revolution: Averill’s now fourth on their all-time list, even though the three ahead of him spent significant parts of their careers elsewhere (and in Albert Belle’s case probably had his career shortened by side-effects of steroid use, not to mention rage. Such side-effects may have kept Hafner from joining the Indians’ top five as well.)

    In any case, I wonder if Averill’s case wasn’t helped by that – he was the best hitter on the team, when there were only eight teams in the league. Surely that helped him stand out in the veterans’ minds.

  29. Jeremy says:

    Joe – a bit off topic, but I noticed something today from looking at one of the HOF ballot trackers – Bonds and Clemens have exactly the same number of votes as of this writing from reported ballots. I think you noted last year that you expected this to be the case – the same people would vote for both of them, or neither. Well this year, that is almost exactly the case (I think there are two voters who voted for one but not the other). Wonder if it will remain true once all of the ballots have been counted.

  30. Paul Dietrich says:

    Re: Sheffield: I’m a Brewers fan (not old enough to remember Sheffield’s early Brewer games), but I remember when Sheffield was playing for the Mets, and was sitting on 499 home runs. We had sidearmer Mitch Stetter, really one of the ultimate LOOGYs of the 21st century (in 2009, LHB slugged .300 and struck out almost 30% of the time), but he was pretty useless against righties. The Mets lineup at that time, if I recall, had two lefties with Sheffield in the middle. (I can’t remember who, maybe Delgado and someone?) Stetter got the first lefty out, and Ken Macha decided to leave him out there to face Sheffield.

    As soon as we didn’t change pitchers, I KNEW that Sheffield would hit #500. It wasn’t even a question. It was like I knew the future. There was just no way that he was going to miss that 85 mph fastball coming across from Stetter’s left side, with that violent swing of his. And sure enough, I was right.

    I don’t have strong feelings about Sheffield one way or the other, but for some reason that’s one of my stronger baseball memories.

  31. I just read Joe’s ballot on NBC:

    – Bonds
    – Bagwell
    – Clemens
    – Johnson
    – Martinez
    – Mussina
    – Piazza
    – Raines
    – Schilling
    – Smoltz

    (no Biggio)

    Assuming that he will use the same strategy next year (i.e., “vote for the 10 best players”), that three players on his current ballot will get elected (“Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz) and that he will vote for Griffey Jr next year, who will get the two remaining votes on next year’s ballot?

    He makes it sound that he would vote for Biggio (who might already be elected this year), leaving one vote. Who do you think it will be?

  32. Bleacher Bum says:

    For years, I’ve heard number-crunchers insist that Hack Wilson was overrated and that he only drove in 190 runs in a season because Kiki Cuyler was so good at getting on base (he scored 155 of the runs Wilson drove in).

    IF that’s the case, why begrudge Kiki Cuyler his spot in Cooperstown?

  33. Tim says:

    To the person above who clarified averills late start, thank you. I’m curious as to what Hoffman’s percentage will be next year but I wouldn’t be a bit.surprised to see mussina Schilling and Kent’s totals.grow.substantially. I think raines gets in next year.

  34. […] a writer I admire. I find particularly well thought out his view on PEDs, which is set out in this post on his […]

  35. Todd says:

    General question about WAR I thought of when reading this: WAR implicitly assumes pitchers = hitters in total. What about when one group is more talented than the other? That may explain high/low offense eras some but doesn’t seem to be accounted for when “value” is handed out.

  36. […] back over the numbers from the years now called the Steroid Era, or the Selig Era as Joe Posnanski does, is similar to scanning the statistics after a season of MVP Baseball set to […]

  37. Jason says:

    Todd, I don’t think WAR works that way. if there’s an Iron Law of Baseball Research, it’s pitching + defense = batting + base running, or run prevention = run scoring. So total position player value is (batting + base running + defense) and total pitcher value is (50% – the portion of run prevention that is defense-dependent).

  38. Todd says:

    I agree run prevention = run scoring and I think it makes a ton of sense to calculate value based on that. But to illustrate my thought further, consider two hitters – same position, both with average defense, average base running, and each has an OPS+ of 120. Assume all their value is in hitting only. One played a decade ago, one plays now. Their WAR should be the same and would be. But I’m curious about the possibility that maybe the reason offense is down compared to a 10-15 years ago is the relative talent of run preventers versus run scorers. While both were equally valuable in their respective seasons, it’s quite possible that the hitter from a high-offense era was more talented. That the collective talent of the run-scorers was better than that of the run-preventers, even beyond other offense-impacting reason such as PED’s or juiced-balls or expansion, or whatever. It seems possible, that a hitter with, say 4 WAR in 2000, was better, and should be analyzed as such, than a hitter with 4 WAR from a low-offense era. It seems possible that in spite of it’s efforts, WAR isn’t the end-all for comparing across eras, because the underlying assumption makes sense in a given season, but doesn’t account for the ebb and flow of the respective talent of hitters versus pitchers.

  39. Todd says:

    And the implication of this is that it would make some sense that pitchers from low-offense eras and hitters from high-offense eras are “over-represented” in the HOF.

  40. Doug Clark says:

    I only have one question, how many ass hats will not vote first ballot on him, and shouldnt these people be eliminated from voting ever again?

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