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Saberhagen Methodology Update

Even Saberhagen has to evolve.

Even Saberhagen has to evolve.

Just a quick post today to update our the SABRmetric Heuristic for Analyzing, Grading, and Evaluating Nominees, our answer to Bill James’ Keltner list. As I examined Bob Johnson recently, I began to rethink Saberhagen question #5, “Does the player’s career meet the HoME’s standards?”

I began to rethink this for a few reasons. First, players who are part of our backlog will necessarily fall below the standards of the HoME. Second, we don’t run new nominees through Saberhagen. And third, we have a finite and specific number of players who will make up the HoME.

He began to do so for the Mets.

He began to do so for the Mets.

So first, our backlog is necessarily below the established HoME standard. Players who meet or exceed the HoME’s standard make it on their first ballot. Lesser players have to wait. Again, if we’re not certain as to a player’s HoME worthiness, he’s likely a lesser player, someone who would bring down the HoME standard some. Recent examples of first-ballot guys are Hank Aaron, Bob Gibson, and Al Kaline. Three of our recent backlog inductees are Joe Tinker, Bobby Veach, and Bill Terry. Backlog inductees will never meet the HoME standard.

Yep, I also forgot he pitched for the Rockies.

Yep, I also forgot he pitched for the Rockies.

Second, we don’t consider newbies for Saberhagen. We reserve these questions for players about whom we’re having a difficult time making a decision. Pretty much by definition, we’re not having a difficult time making a decision on a player the first time we’re considering them. So by the time we find our decision problematic enough to run Saberhagen, the player in question is necessarily below the HoME standard.

Bret finished his MLB evolution with the Red Sox.

Bret finished his MLB evolution with his move to the Red Sox.

And finally, by rule there will be a specific number of HoME inductees, a number equivalent to the number of players in the Hall. If the folks in Cooperstown were suddenly to elect 20 players, our standards would necessarily change. They could elect 20 players and raise their standards. HoMErs Bill Dahlen, Joe Jackson, Wes Ferrell, Sherry Magee, Charlie Bennett, Jack Glasscock, Ken Boyer, Ross Barnes, Urban Shocker, Paul Hines, Art Fletcher, Jimmy Sheckard, George Wright, Tommy Leach, and Bobby Veach come to mind. Add 1983 nominees Dick Allen, Joe Torre, and Jim Wynn plus Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens, and you have a stronger Hall. If we were to add 20 players through our current election, our institution would necessarily get weaker.

So we’re dumping question #5. Now there are just ten questions that make up our Saberhagen List.

  1. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have?
  2. How many MVP-type seasons did he have?
  3. Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?
  4. Are his most comparable players in the HoME?
  5. Was he ever the best player in baseball at his position? Or in his league?
  6. Did he ever have a reasonable case for being called the best player in baseball? Or in his league?
  7. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?
  8. Did he have a positive impact on pennant races and in post-season series?
  9. Is he the best eligible player at his position not in the HoME?
  10. Is he the best eligible candidate not in the HoME?

What I’m saying is that the way we work to fill the HoME is evolving. Evolve or die, people.




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