By In Stuff


So, a few thoughts about the BR Hall of Fame voting so far … and some more thoughts about a pitcher named Rube.

1. The voting is hard on old-time players: The vast majority of players I’ve put on the ballot so far are in the Baseball Hall of Fame — of the 90 everyday players on the ballot so far, 81 are in the Hall of Fame. Of the 44 pitchers not he ballot so far, 36 are in the Hall of Fame.

So, that means there have been 134 players on the ballot, and 117 are currently in the Hall of Fame. You have only voted in 76 of them.

And to be honest, I have not yet gotten to the REALLY borderline Hall of Famers like High Pockets Kelly and Freddie Lindstrom and Ray Schalk and George Kell and Bill Mazeroski and Rube Marquard and Jesse Haines and a bunch of others you may never have heard of. Pretty much every player I’ve put on the ballot so far is at least a mid-level Hall of Famer. But it’s clear — the BR Hall of Fame has a significantly tougher standard.

What is that standard? That’s still working itself out, but some things are clear. One is that old-time players, unless they have somehow stayed somewhat current in people’s minds, are really struggling. Frankie Frisch, for instance, was certainly a core Hall of Famer. They called him the Fordham Flash, he was a tremendous leader, one of the most popular players of his day. Michael Humphries in his excellent book of defense called “Wizardry” ranked him just below the Top 10 defensive second baseman ever. He hit .316 for his career. He was a featured player in eight World Series, both for the Giants and Cardinals. But I think many people, if they heard of him at all, only remember him for clogging up the Hall of Fame with his own non-immortal teammates when he was chairman of the Hall of Fame Veteran’s committee … he did not even get 50% of your vote.

Neither did Big Ed Delahanty, who might have been the best hitter of the 19th Century. Old Hoss Radbourn failed to get the 75% despite his 48 and 59 win seasons back-to-back and an active Twitter account. Lou Boudreau, like Frisch, was a genius of the game, a player-manager who usually gets credit for inventing the infield shift (often known as the Boudrreau Shift), who played excellent shortstop and had a 120 OPS+ for his career. He did not come close to 50% of the vote. And poor Arky Vaughan, ranked as the second-best shortstop in baseball history by Bill James in the Baseball Abstract, did not come even close to election.

2. The voting is especially hard on pitchers. Of the 44 pitchers listed (I listed one pitcher twice for reasons I’ll try explain in another post) only 16 have been voted in. That’s a staggeringly low total, and so far you have left out such pitching legends as Robin Roberts, Gaylord Perry, Three Finger Brown, Eddie Plank, Ed Walsh — poor Ed Walsh, he had a career ERA of 1.82, lowest in baseball history, and he couldn’t even get 50% of the vote.

3. The voting is super-double hard on RELIEF pitchers. Look so far:

— Hoyt Wilhelm — Hall of famer, 143 wins, 227 saves, 2.52 ERA, and did not even get started until he was 29 because of World War II: 68.5%

— Dennis Eckersley — First ballot Hall of Famer, 197 wins, 390 saves, MVP season wasn’t even his best as closer: 46.7%

— Rollie Fingers — Second ballot Hall of Famer, 341 saves, essentially invented modern day closer: 36.5%

— Goose Gossage — Hall of Famer, dominant closer for dominant Yankees team, 310 saves, one of baseball’s great characters: 35.1%

So … yeah, it’s tough out there for relievers. Though you might notice there’s a pretty good relief pitcher on the ballot right now.

* * *

As many have pointed out, Rube Waddell was born on Friday the 13th, and he died on April Fool’s Day. It is rare that a man’s living and dying days can sum up a life. But there was something star-crossed and something goofy about Waddell.

He was so infatuated with fighting fires that his manager Connie Mack would say he always wore a red shirt so that if the fire bell rang he could run off to fight the fire. He is known to have saved lived. They say he was so strong, he would rip off his shirt, let people stand on his chest, and lift himself up (according to Pittsburgh’s fine columnist Gene Collier, he had ambitions of being a circus strong man). He once carried a teammate named Danny Hoffman to the hospital after he was hit by a pitch. He also wrestled alligators.

They say he was the first man to strike out the side on nine pitches.

They say he was the inspiration for the phrase “two-cent head” — something Connie Mack once said of him (“The Rube has a two-million dollar arm and two-cent head.”).

They say he would sometimes skip games and go fishing.

They say a lot of things about Waddell because he was one of the great characters of baseball history. Truth is that many of the things that other players are known for, Waddell did first. Before Satchel Paige, Waddell would send his fielders off the field and face a batter man-to-man. Before Babe Ruth, Waddell would show up at games after long and blurry nights. Before Walter Johnson or Bob Feller, long before Nolan Ryan or Randy Johnson, Waddell struck out 300 batters in a season.

He tried out for the National League’s Louisville Colonels of the old National League when he was 20 years old and was impressive enough that he pitched two games. The next few years were a bewildering blur of brilliant pitching, arguments with management, marriages and cheers. He pitched for teams in Louisville, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Punxsutawney, a few smaller teams and the bizarrely named Chicago Orphans*. In time, he would be credited for saving the American League with his popularity, and while that (like most such claims) is certainly overstated, he was wildly popular.

*They were named Orphans for five years before they were called the Cubs because, get this, they had released their quintessential manager and player Cap Anson. This is one of the great tidbits in baseball history. Could you imagine the Cardinals, after losing Albert Pujols, being called the St. Louis Orphans? Instead we call them: Fortunate.

Waddell was a full-fledged character, with all of the hard edges that go with it. In 1903, he was suspended for jumping into the stands and attacking a spectator, which sounds pretty unforgivable until you hear that the spectator was a known gambler who apparently was trying to bait Waddell. In 1905, he got into a a fight with teammate Andy Coakley that I’ve seen several times described as a “friendly struggle” or “playful scuffle” over a straw hat.” Apparently Coakley was wearing a straw hat after Labor Day — the tradition of the time was to punch a hole through the hat, something Waddell very much wanted to do. Coakley did not want this. One thing led to another, there was a misunderstanding, Waddell lost his mind, everyone piled on to him, and somewhere in the pile-up he hurt his shoulder. Waddell missed the 1905 World Series, which led to some rumors — unsubstantiated and almost certainly false — that gamblers got to him.

There were a lot of other incidents — there was the time his teammates goaded him into wrestling the extraordinarily strong Candy LaChance, and Waddell lifted him up and body slammed him — but all the while Waddell became the best pitcher in baseball. He led the league in strikeouts six straight years. In 1904, he set the modern baseball record with 349 strikeouts — a record that would not be broken for 61 years, until Sandy Koufax did it. To this day, no American League left-hander, not even Randy Johnson, has topped his 349 strikeouts. In 1905 he won the American League Triple Crown for pitching (Christy Mathewson won it in the National League) with 27 wins, a 1.48 ERA and 287 strikeouts.

He burned out at 33, was released by the St. Louis Browns, played some semi-pro baseball for a while. His death is as contested as his life. Some say he died from complications arising from his heroic efforts of standing in ice water and stacking sand bags outside the town of Hickman, Kentucky when the Mississippi was flooding. Others say it was the lingering effects of a lifetime of alcoholism. We know he died at age 37 in San Antonio and was buried there.

In all, he won 193 games, was married three times, struck out 2,316 batters, saved as many as a dozen people from fires, got into countless fights with teammates, strangers and animals, was jailed on many occasions for non-support, was suspended from baseball twice and from his team countless other times and was the most popular pitcher of his day. “(Rube) was more sinned against than sinner,” Connie Mack would say of him after he died.

For more on the fascinating Rube Wadell, click here and here.

70 Responses to Rube

  1. Josh says:

    Naming a team the Orphans must have been hell on the headline writers.

    “Wagner, Pirates Beat The Orphans.”

  2. Frank says:

    Great column, Joe. Thanks for making Rube come alive. I can’t help but wonder if the lack of support for the old-timers in your poll comes from a lack of information (i.e., ignorance) about the early players. A lot of times, all we (21st century fans) have about these guys is grainy footage or photos; or, perhaps we take a look at the Baseball Reference page and see a bunch of numbers that may or may not give us some context.

    As an amateur historian, I find that the best histories are those written about 25 to 35 years after the event. That is enough time to give appropriate perspective, but not too long so that there are still first-person witnesses to the event still around. After that, we become dependent on secondary sources for the most part.

  3. invitro says:

    “Pretty much every player I’ve put on the ballot so far is at least a mid-level Hall of Famer”

    My counter-examples are Rollie Fingers, Jim Rice, and Andre Dawson :).

    • If Andre Dawson had won the MVP in 1981 or 1983, and finished 2nd instead in 1987, along with playing in a town like Philadelphia for those 11 seasons instead of Montreal, I think a lot more people would be on his side.

      The reasons why Dawson gets picked on is as much the travesty of the 1987 vote in light of modern day statsistical analysis, and the fact his best years were playing for a team few watched (and before highlights were common enough to see clips of all the great players).

      If you looked across baseball history, and found out how many players had a peak of 4 seasons in a row of 6.8 WAR or higher (including an incredible 7.4 WAR in the strike shortened 1981) along with 16 consecutive seasons of 2.0 WAR or higher, you’d come up with only others you’d consider mid-level Hall of Famer or better.

      Dawson DID take 9 ballots to make it in. But to compare Dawson to Rice is ridiculous. Dawson had a career WAR almost 20 higher, Rice only had one season over a 6.8 WAR, Dawson had defense in his prime that was considered elite, and 16 consecutive strong seasons is far more impressive that Rice’s 12 in a row of a WAR over 1.9.

      I think understanding why voters took a long time to put Dawson in (Montreal being the #1 reason) is key to understanding him. It’s the same reason Tim Raines has jumped from low 20s to over 50% in the last 5 years of voting. Voters are taking a harder look at their impressions of players who were perhaps better remembered from being overrated in their 30s instead of all time greats in the 20s playing for the Expos.

    • Rob Smith says:

      On Dawson, at the same time he greatly benefited from being in Chicago, especially in his MVP year. And if you look overall at his numbers, there are some clunkers in there. He hit 30 HRs, or more, only three times. His average was about 20/yr. He hit over .300 only four times. He had 100 RBIs four times. His lifetime OPS was .806 and his OPS+ was 119…. which is not high for an outfielder. As a comparison, Dan Uggla’s OPS is .802 with a 111 OPS. Dick Allen, not in the HOF, had a lifetime .912 OPS with a 156 OPS+. Allen also had a slightly higher WAR in a much shorter career. In other words, although I’m not actually comparing Dawson as a player to Dan Uggla (or Dick Allen), an inspection of Dawson’s numbers , using traditional and advanced stats is underwhelming. He benefits in voters and fans minds largely from his one huge season in Chicago that was highly reported and ended up in an MVP… especially with the narrative around it where he took a small contract (whatever they wanted to pay) to play there.

    • Mark Daniel says:

      Rice and Dawson are borderline when it comes to BBWAA-elected members. Rice most definitely is based simply on getting elected on his 15th try with about 7 votes to spare. But when you expand the pool to the veterans committee players, you start seeing Phil Rizzuto, Bill Mazeroski, Ray Schalk, and High Pockets Kelly. Those guys push Rice and Dawson a bit above the bottom.

    • nscadu 9 says:

      Dawson and Rice as well as Bagwell are not Hall of Famers. None of those guys hit historical milestones, let alone meaningful stats. I give Raines better standing than any of those guys. This hall is for greatness. I want to see best of the best in the history of the game. A lot of mistakes have been made by the Veterans committee and by proxy a lot of lower borderline guys made it into the Cooperstown Hall. I want to see dominance and greatness, not just consistently very good. If you’re talking WAR I want 8s, 9s and double digits for a few seasons or else players that are defensive wizards or the absolute greatest base stealer, pure hitter, strikeout king or best at their position. No limping in because a player spent too many years chasing a milestone. Not just the best of an era either, not every era has a great at every position. I thought the purpose of this BR Hall is that BRs actually look at meaningful stats and accolades and look at eras and history. Not compound past mistakes of the hall or go with sentimental favourites and borderliners.

    • invitro says:

      “But to compare Dawson to Rice is ridiculous.”

      My mistake. I agree now.

    • mraithel13 says:

      Let’s stop excluding players for not getting 500 HR and 3000 hits. Bagwell should be in, Dawson, maybe, and Rice, no.

      And I’d say .400+ OBP and 149 OPS+ are meaningful stats.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Bagwell’s issue is not his HR count. It’s steroid suspicions… right or wrong, I don’t know. He never had a positive drug test or a tie to anything specific…. but as we all know, that doesn’t mean much. He’s a tough case. I am virulently anti steroids and wouldn’t want any steroid user in the HOF. I have my suspicions on Bagwell, but in that there’s no definitive evidence, he should be in. My one caveat is that if any evidence does come to light, I personally believe there should be a rule that removes him from the HOF. I know that likely won’t happen, but it would make me feel more comfortable voting for the guy. I think a rule like that would potentially be a deterrent to using. If your name pops up on a list, or if they test your saved blood later as technology advances, like with Lance Armstrong, all awards are revoked. If Bagwell did not use, it would be to his advantage to have this rule because voters may be wanting more time to pass to see what evidence might emerge.

  4. springer says:

    No Delahanty? No Vaughan? No Mordecai Brown? It’s official–you can put “Brilliant” in quotes.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Yeah, I don’t get the “Brilliant Reader” concept. We’re all a bunch of jokers commenting on long, usually baseball related, blogs. Maybe Joe meant “Brilliant Reader” to be ironic. It certainly appears that way, even if it’s unintended.

    • kehnn13 says:

      I agree. Apparently we, as a group, are too lazy to even look up the players on the list before we make our voices heard in the polls….it makes you wonder how democracy can possibly work.

  5. Phil says:

    No Vaughn was great, but Albert Belle should have won MVP in ’95.

  6. FranT says:

    I thought the Sliding Billy Hamilton option referred to the current minor league speedster ( and was meant as a trick. Perhaps you included that option to see how seriously fans were treating the poll?

    Instead, he was just a real old-timer. I just read a short biography on the original Billy Hamilton, and see that he was a 19th-century baseball legend.

    I think my ignorance of Hamilton is emblematic of the BR Hall of Fame voting process. If we don’t recognize a guy’s name as that of a sure-fire Hall of Famer, we don’t vote for him. Rarely do we take the time to actually delve into the stats and info for each player listed.

    • FranT says:

      Also, maybe (almost certainly) I’m a moron.

    • clashfan says:

      You can’t possibly be a moron, as you took five minutes to go look him up. I’m just another internet goofball, but I appreciate everyone who took a moment to look over career stats for this poll.

    • Rob Smith says:

      I googled Billy Hamilton and got the current Billy Hamilton. So, I thought it was a joke or a trick. I had to google Sliding Billy Hamilton to pull him up. As a result, I changed my vote to include him…. yes, we can do that.

      Look up Goose Goslin, Willie Keeler and Bill Dickey while you’re at it. I don’t understand the low percentages on those guys. Granted, I’m a Strat O Matic era person, and I had the HOF cards. So, I know how good these guys are…. but please people…. type it’s not that hard.

  7. clashfan says:

    I wonder what it would look like if Joe compared all players’ vote totals to how long ago they played. I bet there’s a very strong correlation.

  8. Wilbur says:

    I’d like to know how many “None of the above” votes have been cast.

  9. When you idiots failed to vote in Molitor, you branded yourself as inferior to the arrogant, sniveling jackanapes in the BBWAA.

    How does that feel? To be underneath the sort of sackbrained tards that are keeping Bagwell out for “steroids”?

  10. dshorwich says:

    Apparently Waddell was the 2nd pitcher to strike out the side on 9 pitches; according to

    John Clarkson accomplished the feat in 1889.

  11. Look at Harry Heilmann’s numbers. Not his homerun numbers, his, avg, his OBP and his OPS+. He hit .342 for his career. That’s the 12th best ever. His career OBP is over 400 and almost exactly the same as Pujols’ is right now (top 35 of all time). OPS+ is 148 for his career (40th of all time, including current players), putting him higher than Chipper Jones’s 141, who 88% of “brilliant readers” think should be in the Hall (including me).

    And he’s not a Hall of Famer, why? Because he didn’t hit home runs? The only guy who was hitting home runs in that era at prolific rates was Babe Ruth. From 1901 to 1932, when Heilmann retired, he ranked 9th overall in total home runs. Yeah, he’s not top 5, but he wasn’t exactly a scrub. Combine that with a top 15 batting average, top 35 OBP (virtually tied with Manny Ramirez and Albert Pujols), and an OPS+ that ranks better than Alex Rodriguez, Mike Piazza, Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, and Mike Schmidt. Better than those guys. He’s got the exact same WAR as Reggie Jackson.

    And he gets 44% of the vote? I had never even heard of the guy until I voted a few days ago, and strictly looking at the numbers, which is all I have to go on, he’s a lock for the Hall of Fame. Especially if Chipper Jones is getting in with 88% of the vote.

    • brhalbleib says:

      Harry Heilmann was very good and certainly worthy of the HOF, but he, like Rogers Hornsby, benefited greatly statistically by hitting his peak just as they juiced the baseballs.

    • Herb Smith says:

      uh…Babe ruth benefitted from clean (not juiced) baseballs, yet he never hit .400. Neither did Tris Speaker or Eddie Collins or Lou Gehrig, among Heilmann’s contemporaries.

      Babe Ruth did hit .393 you say? Heilmann did that 4 times: .393, .394. 398, and .403.
      Batting average is an overrated stat you say? Not in the 1920’s it wasn’t. Still, what IS considered the most all-around important batting stat? Probably OPS+, right?

      Heilmann’s OPS+ was 148. Here are the batters with career OPS+ numbers LESS than that: Willie McCovey, Mike Schmidt, Harmon Killebrew, A-Rod, Chipper, the Duke of Flatbush, Reggie Jackson and 100 other Hall of Famers. And his 72.2 career WAR ties him with Derek Jeter.

      That guy isn’t a Hall of Famer?

    • brhalbleib says:

      I said he was a HOF, so not sure why you make the last comment. All I am saying is compare his numbers from 1916-1920 and then from 1921 on. He just so happened to turn 26 during the 1921 season and his raw numbers went off the charts. Hornsby did the same thing (Rajah turned 25 in 1921). They were both good to great hitters before the probable juicing of the ball in 1921 (at the same time they outlawed the spitball and all the variations of it too), but their SLG went off the charts after that. Hornsby slugged .434, .484 (led the league), .416, .430, .559 and then boom 1921 comes and he slugged .639, .722, .627, .696, .756. Heilmann slugged .410, .387, .406, .477, .429 and then boom 1921 comes and he slugs .606, .598, .632, .533, .569, .534, .616, .507, .565, .577.

    • kehnn13 says:

      1. From what I’ve read, the US Bureau of Standards compared the balls from the dead ball era to 1921, and saw no difference in physical properties of the ball. The biggest changes leading to the end of the dead ball era were likely the outlawing of the spitball and the propensity of MLB to change balls more during a game, which was a new trend.

      2. Even if the ball was “juiced”, I’m unaware of any evidence that it was unjuiced after that.

    • Chad says:

      @brhalbheib … That’s why we use OPS+. It compares you to your contemporaries. 148 is outstanding.

  12. Alejo says:

    I think you started to clemenate Pujols recently and have been clemenating Cabrera for some time for reasons unknown. Just come out and say it clearly.

    • drunyon says:

      Uh, news flash: Being of the opinion that Cabrera is the 2nd best player in the AL doesn’t mean you clemenate him. I don’t dislike Cabrera either. I just think Trout is better, just like Joe.

      Same for Pujols. Joe is simply remarking on how bad Pujols’ contract looks now. As a fan of baseball, it’s an interesting topic, and Joe obviously feels that way too.

  13. Devon Young says:

    Wow, us BR’s are a tough crowd. Billy Hamilton & his .455 OBP, only has 39% of the voters so far. I can only guess most people haven’t heard of him, which kind of surprises me. I thought he was one of the best known 19th century players.

  14. Matt S says:

    BR HOF voters are not taking their jobs seriously! This is a traveshamockery!

  15. dbutler16 says:

    I get the impression that a lot of people voting just haven’t heard of these players, and aren’t doing any research to find out about them. More casual fans than I’d supposed.
    Great article about Rube, anyway.

  16. brhalbleib says:

    I am not sure that Rube Waddell could play in today’s world, he would simply be overwhelmed by the controversy he caused.

    Counterpoint: I would guess the person that modern readers could use for comparison is Dennis Rodman. And he excelled in his sport, despite his goofiness.

  17. wscg says:

    The BR HoF has irrevocably turned what was once a sweet, indulgent epithet–“Brilliant Readers”–into an ironic one, with undertones of disappointment. I’m sure it’s still intended sweetly, but in the face of the readership’s (read: our) obvious failure to do even cursory research on old time candidates, it must be something of a strain for Joe. We’re like vinegar.

  18. Herb Smith says:

    You forgot to mention that Rube disappeared once during a pennant race to join the circus, and was promptly bit by a lion.

    • Wilbur says:

      Bill James once wrote about Rube Waddell that perhaps today he would limited to the Special Olympics, that in the turn-of-the-century era his obvious mental and behavorial issues went undiagnosed.

    • Wilbur says:

      Bill James once wrote about Rube Waddell that perhaps today he would limited to the Special Olympics, that in the turn-of-the-century era his obvious mental and behavorial issues went undiagnosed.

    • Wilbur says:

      Bill James once wrote about Rube Waddell that perhaps today he would limited to the Special Olympics, that in the turn-of-the-century era his obvious mental and behavorial issues went undiagnosed.

    • Wilbur says:

      Bill James once wrote about Rube Waddell that perhaps today he would limited to the Special Olympics, that in the turn-of-the-century era his obvious mental and behavorial issues went undiagnosed.

    • Mark says:

      Wilbur, you beat me to it — knowing Joe’s admiration for Bill I was surprised he didn’t explore this angle himself. I wasn’t planning to say it four times, however.

    • Wilbur says:

      Oooh weee!
      I just sent this once. My computer machine musta’ went crazy.

    • Wilbur says:

      Oooh weee!
      I just sent this once. My computer machine musta’ went crazy.

  19. Evan says:

    I’ve said this before, but I think the voting percentages would be much higher if there was a “no” option. Basically, a lot of readers are only filling out polls to vote for one or two guys. Their inability to look up the entire ballot is being as treated as an active judgment when, in all likelihood, it’s just pure laziness. My guess is that the average time spent taking an internet poll is approximately 1-3 seconds.

  20. djangoz says:

    Joe, at some point you have to realize that you have an above average audience here, but even with that we’re not all going to take the time to research an internet poll. Nor are we all HOF or baseball fans.

    My guess:

    – 25% of the voters know these players quite well and have thought about the HOF in depth
    – another 40% of voters are active baseball fans and have some knowledge of older players, but it’s spotty
    – and 30% of voters are sports fans who like your writing in general
    – and that leaves 5% of voters who were looking for a movie review and like taking polls when they happen to see them online

    Me, I’m in the 30%. I’m a sports fan. Grew up knowing wayyyy too much about baseball. Played APBA, strat-o-matic, Earl Weaver on the PC (including legendary players from the past), bought and sold baseball cards from all eras as a dealer setting up at shows and could recite stat lines for the past 30 years of players and some well before that.

    Now, I’m into MMA and Soccer and a bit of basketball. I can’t stand baseball. I’d rather watch cricket or jai alai or any sport I’ve never seen before because at least it will be interesting for the novelty factor. I think baseball is about the worst major sport on earth. Okay, maybe if I watched some cricket that would also be a contender.

    And yet, I vote. Every time. Every poll. I know the players. My old knowledge comes rushing back to me (though with plenty of holes). And internet polls are quick, no risk fun. So I vote.

    And before 10 people reply to this to berate me for not taking this seriously, realize that over 1,000 people have voted on these polls and only 20-40 people comment on the articles. There may be alot more of me than you think. And we’re not trying to spoil your fun, we just like voting on polls like anyone else. Whether we know alot about the topic or not.

    And if you put these same polls on the general NBC Sports pages the results would be even more strange.

  21. Rich Horton says:

    I know a fair amount about Old Time Baseball — I’ve read THE GLORY OF THEIR TIMES (and all of you should — maybe the greatest baseball book ever!), and Cobb’s autobiography and Speaker’s and a bunch of other historical books (include Bill James’s Historical Abstract).

    But still, for many of these guys, my first impression is based on remembering their “disc” from my ALL-STAR BASEBALL board game back when I was 11 or something …

    So I research them at Baseball-Reference before deciding how to vote … but, hey, that takes time, and this is the internet. Of course a lot of people don’t bother!

    (Still, leaving off the likes of Delahanty and Walsh takes some doing!)

  22. Phil says:

    You could pair Dazzy Vance and the Rube (and Joe did, in this installment of the poll) — no love for a guy with seven consecutive strikeout totals, who didn’t stick in the majors until he was in his 30s, and who tackled the lively-ball era head-on, with a career peak 1922-1932? Led all baseball in wins 1924-28, ERA+ three times, and strikeout-to-walk ratio eight consecutive seasons. And although he clowned around for his still photos, he threw like this:
    One of the greats, without a doubt — but he was at his peak almost ninety years ago.

  23. Tom G says:

    Not voting for great players is fine, high standards are important. There is always going to be someone who is the best player not elected. But it has to be consistent, that’s is really the biggest thing that gives any meaning to Hall-of-Fame choices, not the high standards. Voting for Nolan Ryan, but not Robin Roberts or Gaylord Perry is horribly inconsistent

    From the early years of baseball, I’ve always appreciated Stan Coveleski, pitched more career innings than Waddell, with a similar ERA+ and WAR, but was held in the minors and pitching great until he was 26 (1993 innings and a 2.48 ERA according to baseballreference). For 19th century hitters, I’ll take Roger Connor over Delahanty or Hamilton; Connor was a lefty who played almost 200 games at second and third, makes me believe he had the skills to be a top defensive first baseman, as well as playing a lot more and having a better OPS+ and WAR (both career and peak) than Big Ed or Hamilton

    Is there anyway to see the players who have already been on the ballot and been passed over, and what their percentage was. If guys like Coveleski and Connor have already been passed over, passing over those other players from the 1800s and early 1900s makes complete sense

    • invitro says:

      I posted a list of all nominees with %ages in the “BR Hall of Fame” tab before the current poll. Connor and Coveleski have not been nominated yet.

  24. Another issue that may arise is that those BRs who are frustrated by the polls’ outcomes might stop participating, and thus the voting becomes more biased and favoring name-brand, modern-day players.

    As others stated above, a “Yes” and “No” option for each player might have been the trick. Then the casual reader might not be willing to click “No” for an unfamiliar player. So the older greats might not receive as many votes, but the votes they do receive will be mostly from those interested in seriously considering their worth.

  25. invitro says:

    I found a couple of little things that may be bugs… anyone want to confirm/deny?

    “Of the 44 pitchers listed (I listed one pitcher twice for reasons I’ll try explain in another post) only 16 have been voted in.”

    I count 22 of 44 pitchers voted in, for 50%. There are 21 pitchers listed on the BFHoF tab, plus MRivera. (For non-pitchers, I count 55 of 90 voted in, for 61%.)

    “there have been 134 players on the ballot, and 117 are currently in the Hall of Fame”

    I’m seeing 19 non-Hall of Famers, rather than 17: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Ken Griffey Jr, Chipper Jones, Jeff Bagwell, Pete Rose, Tom Glavine, Mike Piazza, Frank E. Thomas, Kevin Brown, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Tim Raines, Craig Biggio, Mariano Rivera, and Sadaharu Oh.

  26. invitro says:

    I’m trying to find some kind of predictor for the BFHoF voting… the “standards” or “bars”. Career WAR, of course, works quite well. But the number that uses, which is basically career WAR plus a bonus for peak value, works even better. I’ll write HOS for that number. Then we have:

    HOS >= 168: 41 in, 8 out; 83% in.
    168 > HOS >= 125: 26 in, 22 out; 54% in.
    HOS < 125: 6 in, 25 out; 19% in.
    Negro & Japan Leaguers: 4 in, 2 out.
    Totals: 77 in, 57 out; 58% in.

    OK, nothing surprising there… well maybe the 83% and 19% are sharper than I expected.

    Here are the “outliers”:

    HOS >= 168 but out: Bonds (363), Clemens (293), Nichols (230), Anson (215), Niekro (188), Perry (173), Schilling (172), Plank (169).

    HOS < 125 but in: Greenberg (119), Marichal (115), Killebrew (113), Ford (106), Koufax (102), Campanella (78). So those ranges are explained without using era. Era comes into play in a big way for the mid-rangers. There are 81 players total with HOS between 125 and 168. Here’s a table of the 48 BRHoF nominees in that group, by the player’s debut year: < 1900: 0 in, 3 out (Delahanty, Crawford, Hamilton).
    1900 – 1919: 0 in, 5 out (Frisch, Heilmann, Walsh, JJackson, Vance).
    1920 – 1939: 2 in, 7 out (Hubbell/Feller in, Gehringer/Vaughan/Appling/PWaner/ASimmons/Boudreau/Dickey out).
    1940 – 1959: 5 in, 2 out (BRobinson/Berra/Banks/JRobinson/McCovey in, RRoberts/Snider out).
    1960 – 1979: 10 in, 3 out (Carlton/GCarter/Fisk/Carew/OSmith/Ryan/RJackson/Yount/Raines/Palmer in, Jenkins/Rose/Molitor out).
    >= 1980: 9 in, 2 out (Bagwell/Glavine/Piazza/Larkin/FEThomas/Sandberg/Gwynn/MRivera/Biggio in, KBrown/Alomar out).

    So there is the era-of-play bias.

    Sort of notable: Every player Joe has nominated who debuted after 1980 has at least a 125 HOS. This may result in making the era-of-play bias seem larger than it actually is. To know more, we need to wait until Joe nominates some >1980 players in the 110-125 range, like Saberhagen (121), Helton (121), Edmonds (121), and Vlad Guerrero (112).

  27. Jay says:

    Yup. Joe proves again that the only group less able than the players and writers to pick HoF entrants are the fans.

  28. Chad says:

    It would be awesome if on the poll you could put a link to the player’s page. Maybe if people could easily link to the stats we would get better voting. Maybe.

  29. Mattsullivan says:

    Waddell was an amazing pitcher and an even more amazing character. Prior to Lefty Grove, he was considered by many, if not most, to be the best lefty is history. He was also as big a weirdo as the games has ever seen. According to Ken Burns’ Baseball series, opponents would hold up puppies to distract him while he was on the mound and at times he had to be restrained to stop him from leaving the game to chase firetrucks.

  30. Richard S. says:

    I wonder if this has to do with the polling methodology. We are just being given lists of names, and asked to select from them. Now that we are at the point where the most obvious candidates have come and gone, we are at the point where we have to make real decisions. Clearly, we have to draw a line somewhere. So I suspect that at least some BRs are thinking that now, some players must be left out. They have already voted many times, and have given all the thought to the polling series that they feel it is worth. So they simply select only the most familiar names.

    I suspect that if you tried a different approach, you’d get different results. For example, if you asked the BRs to submit the list of players in their own personal Halls of Fame (sticking to the same criteria the actual HoF does (minimum of 10 full seasons, at least five years since retirement) and probably also asking that all positions and all eras be represented), and then tabulated the results in a monster spreadsheet….players like Cap Anson and Rube Waddell and Ed Delahanty would get their proper due.

  31. Grover Jones says:

    You HAVE to have a separate YES/NO vote for each candidate. Otherwise the numbers are more or less junk, sorry to say.

  32. Herb Smith says:

    Rube could be a fine movie subject.

  33. wow9gamer says:

    The vast majority of players I’ve put on the ballot so far are in the Baseball Hall of Fame — of the 90 everyday players on the ballot so farWOW Gold
    Billig WOW Gold

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