Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I'M GOING SMALL HALL THIS YEAR:  Ballots for the Baseball Hall of Fame are now due, but why let the BBWAA have all the fun?  I've set up a Doodle poll for everyone to vote -- please select between 0 and 10 players only; explain your reasoning and show all work here.  Stats are here; BBHOF official mini bios here and hagiographies here ("Bobby Higginson fought for 11 seasons to be the best player he could be....")

As for me, I'm still not convinced on Blyleven -- HOF pitchers don't get just one start in a seven-game World Series, as Blyleven did in 1979 -- and while he was really, really good for a long time I don't know that he was ever great, and it's not quite enough for me.  (Same with Palmeiro.)  The rest I feel are pretty straightforward -- my attitude towards PED users is that they should be inducted if the stats clearly warrant it, and that the plaques should acknowledge what is established about the player's conduct.

So, my ballot: Alomar, Bagwell, Larkin, E Martinez, McGwire, Raines.  Go cast yours.  75% to induct.

related:  Joe Posnanski on the respect due to those players you know you're not voting for:

To play 10 years of Major League Baseball — a qualification just to get on the ballot — means you must be one of the very best baseball players on earth .

You are better and more determined than all those players whose baseball lives stopped in little league, all those good enough to make their high school teams but no more, all those who went on to play college at some small school, all those good enough to go to a Division I school but were not drafted, all those promising and resolved young players drafted or signed outside of North America who stalled in the low end of the minor leagues, all those who topped out low Class A, in high Class A, in Class AA, in Class AAA, all those who made it through it all to get to a cup of coffee in the big leagues, all those who worked their way up to a small and temporary role in the big leagues, all those who endured and became regulars in the big leagues for two or three or four years before being retired.

To achieve so much … to reach the very height of your profession … it is an extraordinary thing to be a baseball player with 10 years of big league experience, an even more extraordinary thing to achieve enough to get on the Hall of Fame ballot. And then, you get there and it is STILL still miles and miles and miles to go before you get to the Hall of Famers. It is still the gap between Todd Zeile and Cooperstown.


  1. Alan Sepinwall9:54 AM

    Blyleven was supposed to start two games in that World Series, but got called on to pitch 4 innings of relief in Game 5 (and got the win) and therefore wasn't available to start Game 6 as originally planned.

    The strikeouts alone make Blyleven a no-brainer to me, and there are about 17 other reasons why I'm happy that he's likely to get in this year.

    Plus, that means the sabremetric community can adopt Tim Raines as their new pet cause, because the BBWAA should be embarrassed by his vote totals so far.

  2. Alan Sepinwall9:56 AM

    Oh, and my ballot was Alomar, Bagwell, Blyleven, Larkin, Edgar Martinez, McGwire, Raines, Trammell, Walker.

  3. Alomar, Bagwell, Larkin, McGwire, Raines.  Which is remarkable; my general rule of thumb is that I would only vote for two, but the McGwire/Alomar/Raines backup precludes that.  Each of these five were the best at their position for a lengthy period of time; McGwire is arguably the best first baseman of all time, though I expect Albert Pujols to pass him.  (Pujols is only *30*.)

    I agree with Adam's assessment on Blyleven and Palmeiro (though don't hold 1979 against Blyleven), and partially agree on PEDs. On PEDs, my view is that it's a tiebreaker for marginal candidates like Palmeiro, but it's not enough to keep a McGwire out.  I wouldn't cry if Blyleven got in, though.  I'd rather have a Kevin Brown than a Bert Blyleven, though.  And Tim Raines is a much better cause than Bert Blyleven.

    Edgar Martinez didn't have the longevity I want in a HOF'er, and you need to have Frank-Thomas-like stats to get in when you're as bad defensively as he was.

    I might vote for Larry Walker in the future, but I'm one of those weirdos who irrationally distinguishes between first-ballot HOF'ers and the other group.

  4. But why was Jim Rooker starting Game 5 in the first place?  If Blyleven was rested enough to pitch that day (he had started Game 2, three days prior), why not start him?  (Heck, why wasn't he the WS Game 1 starter, five days after his prior start, instead of the unexceptional Bruce Kison?)

  5. Alan Sepinwall10:17 AM

    Chuck Tanner apparently wanted to keep the Orioles off-balance by starting off with an unfamiliar pitcher. It's a weird strategy, but it worked.

    I just think it's ridiculous that 13 wins are what's kept Bert out of the Hall this long, when most of us have realized by now what a flawed statistic pitcher wins are.

  6. <p>1. I can see the thinking, kinda -- Blyleven was in the AL just two seasons prior, but Bruce Kison gave up five runs in that first inning of game one.  It didn't work. 
    </p><p>2.  To be fair: I'd appreciate a Blyleven induction insofar as it would symbolize a new stat-savviness on the part of the BBWAA, just as Felix Hernandez's Cy Young did.  He would not be the worst modern SP in the Hall -- I think he's clearly better than Bunning or Newhouser.  But Raines is who should be the pet cause.

  7. Alan Sepinwall10:36 AM

    I've seen enough managerial idiocy over the years, even on teams that won the World Series, that I don't look at the way Tanner set up the rotation as any particular strike against Blyleven. Managers do dumb stuff all the time.

  8. Dan Suitor10:44 AM

    Alomar, Bagwell, Blyleven, Larkin, Martinez, McGwire, Palmeiro, Raines, Trammell, Walker

    Simply put: The stats are there. If Raines and Blyleven were more beloved by the media, they'd get into the hall. It's the nature of the beast, given that the BBWAA is the one doing the voting, but if you read a lot of the actual writing vomited out by the BBWAA members you'd probably forsake caring about the HOF in general. And, really, if Ty Cobb played today would he get into the Hall? He'd probably wind up stabbing or shooting multiple members of the media every season?

    Hell, they'd probably just write it off as "scrappiness" and "hustle". He totally showed a lot of heart when he plunged that dagger into Dan Shaugnessey's neck.

    There are so many issues with the Hall of Fame and given the general amount of racists, idiots, cusses, and curs held within I can't see why someone would care if a player got caught pumping their body full of chemicals. Bigotry held scores of Negro League players (and Latin/Asian players are well) out of baseball in the early part of the century, artificially depressing the level of skill in the league. If that's not worse than steroids, what is?

  9. Joseph J. Finn11:43 AM

    Alomar, Bagwell, Baines, <span>Blyleven, Larkin, Raine, Martinez is my ballot.  Overall, a very strong year for the ballot, leaving aside obvious nos like Palmeiro and McGwire.  Martinez was a close case for me due to his bad defensive skills, but I was feeling generous.</span>

    As for why obvious using steroids to cheat is a criteria for preclusion, Dan, I think it's a distinction in my mind between something they did to themselves as opposed to something that was done to them, as in the case of Negro League players.

  10. But by denying non-white players the ability to play, didn't that make the game easier for the better white players to dominate the crappier white players pre-Jackie Robinson?  Babe Ruth never had to play against quality minority players, which was standard at the time, just like no one batting an eye about steroid use was standard for most of the 90's and early 2000's.  It was just the culture of the game in both eras, and it seems unfair to punish the players. 

    It seems easy to say "Well, I would never do that!", but if someone said there was something you could take that would make you better, help you keep your job, make more money and no one would care because so many other people were doing it and there was no policing, I'd have to think I would consider it.  Put it on their plaques, but they should be in the Hall.

  11. On steroids:  I'm leaning toward "if you cheat, you don't get into the Hall," but McGwire is not the player who will test that theory for me.  That player would be Barry Bonds, because I feel that it is highly, highly likely that, but for the steroids, Bonds' stats would still be strong enough to justify Hall membership.  (I could also see Clemens causing me to have similar thoughts.)  McGwire is a lot more iffy on that point.

  12. Daniel Fienberg1:07 PM

    My ballot: Alomar, Bagwell, Blyleven, McGwire, Morris, Raines, Walker, McGriff

    I think I could alternate between Trammel, Larkin, Raines and McGriff, voting for two apiece each year. I see the arguments for and against all four very clearly. This year just happens to have been McGriff and Raines' turn.

    Bagwell is interesting because there's legitimately only ONE reason not to vote for him: Circumstantial evidence, never formally presented in ANY form, that he used steroids. Yes, I can *look* at Jeff Bagwell and all signs point to a guy who was a singles hitter in the minors who suddenly became MASSIVE in the pros. But he wasn't in the Mitchell Report and he wasn't outed by Canseco. On stats alone, he's beyond a no-brainer and it's ridiculous that he won't come close to getting elected this year, I don't think.

    I'm also preemptively offended on Larry Walker's behalf. From what I can tell, Larry Walker isn't going to get into the Hall of Fame because he was less lovable than Kirby Puckett and because voters are bound and determined that nobody who played in Coors Field is allowed in the Hall of Fame EVER. [Interesting stat: For his career, Kirby Puckett batted .344 at home and .291 on the road with a .521 slugging percentage at home and .430 on the road. Larry Walker's split was larger than that, but also includes time in Montreal and St. Louis.] In my book, if you won seven Gold Gloves (and actually, at least from what I saw deserved them) and rank 16th ALL-TIME in OBPS, you belong in the Hall of Fame. Just my several cents.


  13. Fred App1:56 PM

    There are a lot of worthy candidates, but the one person I would NOT vote for is McGwire. And it has nothing to do with steroids. McGwire did one thing -- hit home runs. He did it prodigiously well, as well anyone in his era. He couldn't run. He couldn't field. He couldn't throw. He couldn't hit for average (only once did he hit over .300 in a full season). He was your classic one-tool player. He's a better Dave Kingman with a more discerning eye.

    If he was such a dominant player, how come he never won an MVP? Not one. He finished in the top five in balloting only three times.

    Perhaps not coincidentally, home-run hitting is the one skill that is most directly related to steroids. So, unlike Bonds, who won a couple of MVPs back before he got juiced, you have to wonder how noteworthy a ballplayer McGwire would have been without assistance. But, even if you take steroids out of the equation, I don't  think you put a one-trick pony into the Hall, no matter how well he performed that trick.

  14. StvMg3:30 PM

    I went Alomar, Bagwell, Blyleven, Larkin, Morris, Murphy, Raines and Trammell. I could go either way on the Blyleven debate. I'm old enough to remember Blyleven's career - though I was under 18 for most of it - and I don't remember ever thinking of him as an elite pitcher, but the sabermetric folks have convinced me he's a worthy candidate. I think he's at least the equal of Don Sutton, a contemporary who's already in the Hall. But I take issue with the sabermetric folks who disparage Morris as a way of propping up Blyleven. I think they're both borderline candidates, though I'd probably give a slight edge to Blyleven.

    Raines' low vote totals thus far in the actual Hall balloting are downright ridiculous. I think he  has an even better case than Blyleven. Alomar's a no-brainer, and I think Bagwell and Larkin won't have a problem getting in eventually. Trammell's a borderline case, but I threw him a vote because I think he definitely merits more support. I certainly considered him about as good as Ryne Sandberg and Ozzie Smith for most of their careers.

    Murphy was purely a sentimental pick, though I do think he and Mattingly at least merit consideration because at their peaks, each arguably was the best player in the game. I went with Murphy instead of Mattingly simply because I'm a Braves fan and a Yankee hater, though sentimentality didn't sway me toward voting for Baines, a classic Hall of Very Good case who also was my favorite player during my college years since I was one of the few White Sox backers on a campus full of North Siders.

    For the record, I'm guessing Alomar and Blyleven are the only ones who make it in this year, though Larkin also probably has a shot.

  15. The Pathetic Earthling3:34 PM

    I don't think there's much question that Bond's trajectory before he started taking, ahem, flaxseed oil was HoF.  That said, I don't think he's even the cleanest test case for this point.  Bonds is a better test case for "if you are a complete asshole to the sports media and also cheat, but otherwise have HoF numbers, you don't get into the HoF."

  16. Jenn.4:07 PM

    See, I'm fine with asses making it into the HoF, even if it doesn't necessarily make me happy.  If pleasant personalities were required, the Hall would be a helluva lot smaller. 

    That said, I do agree that there is some chance of double standards being applied to Bonds or Clemens, because of their personalities, while a seemingly "nicer" steroids user might be given a pass.

  17. Genevieve7:46 PM

    The kiddo voted in the poll:  Alomar, Bagwell, Blyleven, Franco, Larkin, Morris, Raines.
    Then we clicked on the bios and he said "Oh, it's LEE Smith!  I didn't vote for him because I thought it was Lonnie Smith.  I would've voted for Lee Smith.  (long pause)  No, actually, I wouldn't have."
    He also says:
    "First of all, for all you doubters out there, Morris was the best pitcher of the 80s. 
    Closers need more love in voting.  They save games like 60, 70% of the time.  Franco was one of the best of them.
    Raines shouldn't get in on speed alone, mind you -- he was a great hitter."

  18. I will not close the voting with Blyleven and Raines at exactly 75% and Larkin one vote short.  I want to wake up with better numbers. <span> </span>

  19. Joseph Finn2:09 AM

    Well, I want to wake up in a world where a one-dimensional cheater like McGwire doesn't have more votes than Harold Baines (thank you, Jay, for being on my side), but such is life and the unreasonable prejudice against a position that's existed for 37 seasons now.

    (Seriously, people, if Carlton Fisk is in the Hall, then Baines almost has to be; their numbers are very comparable and Ripken comes out ahead almost entirely due to the streak.  Baines should have much higher voting totals than the 6% he's been getting so far.)

  20. ChinMusic8:25 AM

    You're not going to get Baines support by arguing his numbers are very comparable to a catcher or a guy who redefined the position of shortstop as a significant offensive position.  Also, while there may be some merit to your argument that prejudice exists against the DH position, it is important to note that even though the position of DH has existed for 37 years, more than half of MLB teams do not recognize the existence of the position.  Three of the last five world series champions did not employ designated hitters. Maybe there is an argument that a guy playing a superfluous position used by only a minority of teams should face a little bit of prejudice.  For my money, Baines doesn't get anywhere near the HoF until Edgar Martinez gets in and I don't know if I am ready for Edgar Martinez to get in (admittedly an opinion stronly rejected by others here). 

  21. Joseph Finn9:22 AM

    See, I think Cal Ripken is nowhere close to someone who redefined his position; he was a fine shortstop, but we're not talking Ozzie Smith or Luis Aparicio here.

    As for the half of MLB being allowed to play under pre-1973 rules, I think it's part and parcel of the DH prejudice. I'm still baffled that MLB allows one of of it's major divisions in rule 6.10 to ignore one position if it so likes ("Any League may elect to use Rule 6.10(b), which shall be called the Designated Hitter Rule.")

  22. Ripken redefined it because no previous shortstops were built like him or could hit like him, *and* he was a damn good fielder at the same time.

    I want to know what's lacking for voters for 12-time All-Star/1995 NL MVP Barry Larkin.  Is it that the Trinity overshadowed him?

  23. Blyleven is so sick.  The year you guys are discussing he had an ERA+ of 109.  That was the 17th best ERA+ of his career...

  24. Adam C.10:13 AM

    I voted for Edgar, but not Baines, which I think is eminently defensible on the numbers.  Also Alomar, Bags, Blyleven, Larkin, Raines, and, holding my nose, McGwire.  I was least sure about Edgar and McGwire, primarily due to the defensive issues both present.  But notwithstanding the lack of help on the defensive side, it's hard to argue with the counting stats and the OPS+ (in McGwire's case, with one big but, but I've come around to the "induct with full disclosure on the plaque" concept).  I do have sympathy for the one-dimensional player argument re: Big Mac or, for that matter, DHs in general -- that said, there are other one-dimensional players in the Hall (including a few members of the closer wing) for whom I don't begrudge them their specialization, since they were THAT DAMN GOOD at it.

  25. BK Malik10:27 AM

    Don't Blyleven's 60 career shutouts demonstrate "greatness"?  That's 9th all time and only 1 fewer than his comtemporaries (and HOFers) Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver.  And really, one could argue that's the 4th most shutouts in the modern era given that the top 5 are Walter Johnson, G.C. Alexander, Christy Mathewson, Cy Young, and Eddie Plank (none of whom pitched after 1930).

    Every pitcher with 50 or more career shutouts is in the HOF, the next closest guy not in the HOF is Luis Tiant with 46.  That seems like as good a measure of "greatness" as anything else.

  26. BK Malik10:28 AM

    Oops, typo, Tiant had 49, not 46 shutouts.

  27. ChinMusic10:58 AM

    The career shutouts, like the career strikeout numbers, won't convince people who think Blyleven is just a compiler.  For instance, he may have 60 shutouts in his career, but he only led the league 3 times in 22 seasons.  Similarly, while Blyleven is 5th all time in strikeouts, he led the league only once and is 124th in K/9.  So while he had a great career, he never really seemed dominant at any time.  For many fans, the HoF requires dominance.  Blyleven supporters say votes against him are just the wins issue, but I don't think so.  Blyleven and Ryan were virtual contemporaries.  Had Ryan not pitched five seasons more than Blyleven (essentially the Rangers years), he and Blyleven would have ended up with about the same number of wins (273-287), shutouts (56-60), Cy Young awards (0-0) and 20 win seasons (2-1).   Yet, there was no question Ryan was a Hall of Fame pitcher before he put on the Rangers uniform.  He had the dominance Blyleven lacked.  Supporters of Blyleven will only convince the non-believers when they stop focusing on the career numbers and put the spotlight on the periods when Blyleven was dominant (for instance, from 1971-1979 he finished in the top 10 for WAR for pitchers in every season). 

  28. ChinMusic4:51 PM

    It will be interesting to see how the Larkin/Trammell voting goes this year.  Their career numbers are very similar (most similar players to each other on BaseballReference), though Larkin was a bit better offensively (in a better hitting era) and got more recognition (possibly a result of not playing in the same league as Ripken).  I see a lot of mock ballots that chose one or the other (including mine) and wonder if the presence of Larkin will boost Trammell or if they will cancel each other out for at least the next six times Trammell is on the ballot. 

  29. BK Malik7:10 AM

    Nolan Ryan "only" led the league in shutouts 3 times.  Does that diminish his dominance credentials or does it enhance Blyleven's?  Regarding Ks, Blyleven did lead the league in K/BB ratio 3 times and finished top 3 nine times.  Ryan led the league once and finished top 3 twice.  Bert's career K/BB number (2.80) is 54th all time, Ryan's (2.04) is 243rd.  So it all depends on your definition of "dominance."  If you define dominance as "preventing runners from reaching base" then Blyleven is superior to Ryan (career Whip 1.198 v. 1.247).  In the end, it boils down to perception and the specious "Bert Blyleven doesn't feel like a HOFer" argument.

    Although I have no problem in people looking and deciding not to vote for Blyleven, unless they vote for Jack Morris.  That's just crazy.

  30. Adam C.12:22 PM

    I'm quite sure no one's paying attention to this thread anymore, but Rob Neyer posted this today, re: Jack Morris, and I thought it was worth sharing.

  31. I'll post the "results" later today separately.<span> </span>

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