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The Hall of Consensus

Imagine we convened representatives of the Hall of Fame (HOF), the Hall of Merit (HOM), the Hall of Stats (HOS), our very own Hall of Miller and Eric (HoME), plus Jay Jaffe, creator of the popular JAWS. Our theoretical mission: choose up a Hall of Fame that matches the number of the current Hall (217 ballplayers). The door locks behind us and no one leaves until the job is done. Who would we all agree on? That’s what I wanted to find out.

Or to put it another way, for decades, the Hall of Fame was the only word on who the greatest players of all time were. Now we have three alt-Halls (including our own) and Jaffe talking with great deliberation, substance, nuance, and consistency about it as a matter of public record. A consensus has begun to emerge, and now we can see what it looks like.

Adam Darowski at Hall of Stats has his own Consensus page that has started a similar exploration. We’ve riffed on it before, and we love the idea. I wanted to extend it in this new direction.

So here’s what I did. The HOF, HOM, HOS, and HoME “voted” by my simply listing their players out. To figure JAWS’ vote, I determined the average number of players at each position among the four who’d already voted and assigned JAWS’ selections by players’ rank at each position. If the four Halls averaged 15 catchers, I took JAWS’ top 15 backstops. Simple enough.

The matter of assigning positions is a little dicey sometimes, and here’s how I assigned some fellows who can be argued in multiple positional directions:

  • Dick Allen: 1B
  • Ernie Banks: SS
  • Rod Carew: 1B
  • Andre Dawson: RF
  • Ed Delahanty: LF
  • Joe Jackson: LF
  • Harmon Killebrew: 1B
  • Tommy Leach: 3B
  • Edgar Martinez: 3B
  • Paul Molitor: 3B
  • Dale Murphy: CF
  • Stan Musial: 1B
  • Tony Phillips: 2B
  • Pete Rose: LF
  • Frank Thomas: 1B
  • Joe Torre: C
  • Monte Ward: SS
  • Robin Yount: SS

With that taken care of, here’s how I assigned the JAWS selections:

  • C: 15
  • 1B: 21
  • 2B: 18
  • 3B: 16
  • SS: 20
  • LF: 20
  • CF: 17
  • RF: 23
  • SP: 64
  • RP: 2
  • SP/RP: 1 (A special category for Dennis Eckersley)

Now let’s get down to brass tacks. Who’s in the Hall of Consensus?

Everyone Loves…

Every Hall, and Jaffe, agree on 132 players. These guys went 5-for-5. These men represent a rock-solid core of greatness. You know, that means that five different groups agree on 61% of the 217 great players ever. That’s kind of impressive when you think about it. Seriously, think about this year’s Republican primary by comparison….

CATCHER (9)
Johnny Bench
Yogi Berra
Gary Carter
Mickey Cochrane
Bill Dickey
Buck Ewing
Carlton Fisk
Gabby Hartnett
Mike Piazza

FIRST BASE (14)
Cap Anson
Dan Brouthers
Rod Carew
Roger Connor
Jimmie Foxx
Lou Gehrig
Hank Greenberg
Willie McCovey
Johnny Mize
Eddie Murray
Stan Musial
George Sisler
Bill Terry
Frank Thomas

SECOND BASE (11)
Roberto Alomar
Craig Biggio
Eddie Collins
Frankie Frisch
Charlie Gehringer
Joe Gordon
Rogers Hornsby
Nap Lajoie
Joe Morgan
Jackie Robinson
Ryne Sandberg

THIRD BASE (9)
Home Run Baker
Wade Boggs
George Brett
Jimmy Collins
Eddie Mathews
Paul Molitor
Brooks Robinson
Ron Santo
Mike Schmidt

SHORTSTOP (13)
Luke Appling
Ernie Banks
Lou Boudreau
Joe Cronin
George Davis
Barry Larkin
Pee Wee Reese
Cal Ripken
Ozzie Smith
Arky Vaughan
Honus Wagner
Bobby Wallace
Robin Yount

LEFT FIELD (10)
Jesse Burkett
Fred Clarke
Ed Delahanty
Goose Goslin
Rickey Henderson
Al Simmons
Zack Wheat
Billy Williams
Ted Williams
Carl Yastrzemski

CENTER FIELD (9)
Richie Ashburn
Ty Cobb
Joe DiMaggio
Ken Griffey
Billy Hamilton
Mickey Mantle
Willie Mays
Duke Snider
Tris Speaker

RIGHT FIELD (14)
Hank Aaron
Roberto Clemente
Sam Crawford
Andre Dawson
Elmer Flick
Tony Gwynn
Harry Heilmann
Reggie Jackson
Al Kaline
Mel Ott
Frank Robinson
Babe Ruth
Paul Waner
Dave Winfield

STARTING PITCHER (42)
Pete Alexander
Bert Blyleven
Jim Bunning
Steve Carlton
John Clarkson
Stan Coveleski
Don Drysdale
Red Faber
Bob Feller
Pud Galvin
Bob Gibson
Tom Glavine
Lefty Grove
Carl Hubbell
Fergie Jenkins
Randy Johnson
Walter Johnson
Tim Keefe
Ted Lyons
Greg Maddux
Juan Marichal
Pedro Martinez
Christy Mathewson
Joe McGinnity
Hal Newhouser
Kid Nichols
Phil Niekro
Jim Palmer
Gaylord Perry
Eddie Plank
Old Hoss Radbourn
Robin Roberts
Red Ruffing
Amos Rusie
Nolan Ryan
Tom Seaver
John Smoltz
Warren Spahn
Dazzy Vance
Rube Waddell
Ed Walsh
Cy Young

STARTER/RELIEVER (1)
Dennis Eckersley

132 down….

Substantial Agreement

In the instances of another 54 players, four of our five electors agree. Which means there is substantial unanimity on 186 or 86% of these 217 legends. Here’s that list:

CATCHER (2)
Ted Simmons
Joe Torre

FIRST BASE (6)
Dick Allen
Jeff Bagwell
Keith Hernandez
Harmon Killebrew
Mark McGwire
Rafael Palmeiro

SECOND BASE (4)
Bobby Grich
Billy Herman
Willie Randolph
Lou Whitaker

THIRD BASE (5)
Ken Boyer
Darrell Evans
Edgar Martinez
Graig Nettles
Deacon White

SHORTSTOP (5)
Bill Dahlen
Jack Glasscock
Joe Sewell
Alan Trammell
Monte Ward

LEFT FIELD (8)
Barry Bonds
Joe Jackson
Sherry Magee
Joe Medwick
Jim O’Rourke
Tim Raines
Pete Rose
Willlie Stargell

CENTER FIELD (2)
Larry Doby
Jim Wynn

RIGHT FIELD (6)
Dwight Evans
Willie Keeler
King Kelly
Gary Sheffield
Reggie Smith
Larry Walker

STARTING PITCHER (14)
Kevin Brown
Mordecai Brown
Roger Clemens
David Cone
Wes Ferrell
Whitey Ford
Sandy Koufax
Mike Mussina
Rick Reuschel
Bret Saberhagen
Curt Schilling
Don Sutton
Vic Willis
Early Wynn

RELIEF PITCHER (2)
Goose Gossage
Hoyt Wilhlem

We see a little bit of friction here in the 19th Century players. JAWS is completely unadjusted for schedule length, so King Kelly, Jim O’Rourke, and Deacon White don’t receive its vote. If Jay Jaffe were, himself, in the room, I suspect he’d vote for at least two of these guys.

That said, most of these guys are HOF whiffs. A few will find their way into the Coop sooner than later. Jeff Bagwell, Mike Mussina, Tim Raines, and Curt Schilling lead returning vote getters on the 2017 HOF ballot, and Edgar Martinez improved his total in 2016. If the Hall should ever happen to put real scholars in charge of the 19th century players, then Dahlen and Glasscock could go 5-for-5. Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell both have a shot with the vets, and Dick Allen did well among them last time out.

Majority Rules

Twenty-four players have the vote of three Halls, a simple majority. That brings the total number of players who have received at least a majority of Hall support from among our five institutions to 210. Ninety-seven percent of all the players in the Consensus Hall of Fame have at least a majority of backers. It ain’t perfect unanimity, but it’s an awfully high degree of agreement.

CATCHER (4)
Charlie Bennett
Roy Campanella
Bill Freehan
Thurman Munson

FIRST BASE (1)
Jake Beckley

SECOND BASE (4)
Bobby Doerr
Nellie Fox
Jeff Kent
Bid McPhee

THIRD BASE (2)
Sal Bando
Buddy Bell

SHORTSTOP (1)
Joe Tinker

LEFT FIELD (1)
Bob Johnson

CENTER FIELD (4)
Max Carey
Willie Davis
Jim Edmonds
Kenny Lofton

RIGHT FIELD (3)
Bobby Bonds
Enos Slaughter
Sammy Sosa

STARTING PITCHER (4)
Clark Griffith
Urban Shocker
Dave Stieb
Luis Tiant

Again, the limitations of some systems show up. JAWS and the HOS’ Hall Rating knock Campy for his short career.

The Final Five (plus two)

For our last seven picks, we have to chose from among the 35 people who received two votes from among our decision makers. First I took George Wright. It’s kind of cheating, but he’s in the HOM and the HoME, and he is in the HOF—but as a pioneer. However, reading his plaque, it’s clear that his playing career was the reason for his induction. So I sneaked him in the back door because I viewed his Hall plaque the same as if he were elected as a player. I did the same thing for Al Spalding. If I see Wright’s plaque as giving him a third vote, then Spalding’s provides an additional one-third or one-half vote. Which is just enough.

Next I turned to an expert to facilitate tiebreaking. Adam Darowski, founder of the Hall of Stats makes his personal Hall available on the Consensus area of that site. It is not the same as the one chosen by the Hall of Stats (which is algorithmic). So I checked to see which of the remaining 33 guys he supports. They are

  • Ross Barnes
  • Roger Bresnahan (edited for inclusion 4/24/16)
  • Bob Caruthers
  • Will Clark
  • Chuck Finley
  • Paul Hines (edited for inclusion 4/24/16)
  • Ralph Kiner
  • Ernie Lombardi
  • Gene Tenace
  • Sam Thompson

Who are the Final Five? Well, we have eight men for five slots. The Hall of Fame is our weakest decision maker (see the bonus part of this article). After all, it has no standards, and we are all alt-Halls because it’s done a substandard job. Among these eight, the ones not in the Hall of Fame are Barnes, Caruthers, Hines, Clark, Finley, and Tenace, so I made four of them our final five.

Which leaves one last open slot and no easy way to fill it. I’m going to suggest that Ralph Kiner is the most consensus-filled. He was elected by the BBWAA, which is a larger pool of voters than the Veterans Committed (electors of the remaining four candidates). The Hall of Merit, composed of 50 or more voters also elected Kiner. That’s the best I can do in this situation since to simply take a favorite of mine would not be, uh, consensual.

The Hall of Consensus, as I’ve figured it, includes:

  • 16 catchers
  • 21 first basemen
  • 20 second basemen
  • 16 third basemen
  • 20 shortstops
  • 20 left fielders
  • 16 centerfielders
  • 23 right fielders
  • 62 starting pitchers
  • 2 relief pitchers
  • 1 starter/reliever

So there you have the Consensus Hall of Fame. Despite the fractious debate the Hall of Fame, itself, and its voting, when we bring other Halls into the conversation as partners, the process plays out very easily in 96% of all cases. And the last 4%? That’s generally where the fun is, right? One of the complaints about the HOF is that instead of the last 4%, it’s more like the last 25% of its selections that seem debatable.

Bonus: The Hall of Non-Consensus

The four Halls and JAWS recommend a total of 325 players for best-in-history status. Which means 108 players who are not in the Hall of Consensus are supported by our electors. A Hall of Non-Consensus would still include a great deal of consensus, 109 of its members would the support of at least three voters of five. I’m not going to list out all 109 outliers, but here’s the number of non-consensus players that would be contributed to a Hall of Non-Consensus by each of our five electoral members as well as its number of unique non-consensus players:

  • Hall of Fame: 58 total / 43 unique
  • Hall of Merit: 29 total / 16 unique (but remember, it has 13 more members than the others)
  • JAWS: 19 total / 8 unique
  • Hall of Stats: 16 total / 5 unique
  • Hall of Miller and Eric: 14 total / 8 unique

Note: Edited 4/24/16 to reflect an inaccuracy. Will Clark and Chuck Finley are not part of Adam Dabrowski’s personal Hall and Paul Hines and Roger Bresnahan are. Suitable changes noted above. My apologies to Mr. Darowski and gratitude for the kindness with which he pointed it out.

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