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Barry Bonds

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Comparing the Hall of Fame Voters, Part II

So we’ve finally reached the end of this series. And this, to me, is the big one, looking at how supporters of any individual player viewed other guys on the ballot. This post will be filled with even more charts and numbers than last week (see below). Take some time to digest everything. I’ll try to point out what I see as highlights and lowlights, but if I miss anything you think is meaningful, please share in the comments below. I don’t think this was my strongest series of posts. Next year, I think I’ll look at this week’s and last week’s only, unless there’s something player-specific that just screams out for its own post.

[Andy Pettitte], [Scott Rolen], [Andruw Jones], [Larry Walker], [Billy Wagner], [Todd Helton], [Manny Ramirez], [Jeff Kent], [Omar Vizquel], [Votes Per Ballot]

A Big Mess of a Chart

You’re excused if you want to skip this one or if your less than bionic eyes won’t let you read it. It’s a big mess of numbers that I break down below when I discuss each player. I include it here because I put it together, and maybe you see something interesting in here than I don’t.

Overall

Support for Bonds and Clemens

These two have to be linked together, and voters generally do. As I’ve whined in the past, I have no clue how someone can support one and not the other, but some voters do. This is the only chart that will be combined because I think the tiny nuances are interesting. Two things jump out. First, in only one of two cases in my entire study, we see a case of 100% of supporters of a player, voting for another. In this case, it’s Sosa supporters backing Clemens. How someone who thinks Sosa belongs in the Hall won’t vote for Bonds is beyond me. But so is people who think the earth is flat. I’ve got some blind spots, apparently. The other thing, and it’s a small one, is that there’s a decent separation between support for Clemens and Bonds among Rolen voters voters. But I suspect the gap is meaningless.

Bonds and Clemens

 

 

 

Support for Todd Helton

Two things jump out here. First, if you vote for PED users, you don’t like Helton. Second, the top three guys on the list likely have some significance. Helton belongs in the Hall, and if you believe Rolen does, you support Helton more than anyone else does. They’re both under-the-radar, no-brainer candidates in my mind. Walker is second on the list. That’s because if you’re willing to vote for a player whose career included a significant number of games in Coors, it’s harder to leave off Helton than if you’re not. And finally, it’s McGriff. More than one in five who supported him saw a better first baseman and just couldn’t leave his name unchecked. Of course, almost four in five could…

Helton

 

 

Support for Andruw Jones

Not much to see here, but look who’s at the top once again.

Jones

 

Support for Jeff Kent

In my fantasy baseball days, in only played in a league that had live auctions. We’d all get together in a room to spend about ten hours forming our teams. I was pretty successful overall, and I think I did a good gob reading the room. But there was one guy, Bart, who was on the lower side of owners in terms of player and game knowledge (or so I thought), yet I could never figure him out. Kent voters remind me of Bart. I don’t know why they do what they do. But check out the top three names – three guys who I don’t think you should support.

Kent

 

Support for Edgar Martinez

Like the supporters of a lot of non-PED guys, it’s the PED guys who are trailing here. And what do you know, 98.5% of voters who supported Rolen also supported Martinez.

Martinez

Support for Fred McGriff

This list generally makes sense. However, though I understand why McGriff supporters would support Helton, I don’t know why Helton supporters necessarily support McGriff.

McGriff

Support for Mike Mussina

Every public voter who checked Andy Pettitte’s name checked Mussina’s too. That makes sense, as Mussina was better. Looking down the list, supporters of Schilling and Halladay thought a little less of Mussina, which makes sense too. It’s easy to think Mussina was a lesser pitcher. Of course, Mussina is a clear Hall of Famer. Look where we find Rolen voters.

Mussina

Support for Andy Pettitte

Given how few votes Pettitte garnered, there’s not much to see here. However, it’s no surprise that there are PED users occupying four of the top five spots on this list.

Pettitte

Support for Manny Ramirez

Nothing but guys associated with PEDs at the top of this list. There are no huge surprises here, though I’d have bet more than one in sixteen Wagner supporters would have thought Manny qualified.

Ramirez

Support for Scott Rolen

I’m not surprised that Helton and Walker lead this list. I’m a little surprised to find Wagner this high. At the bottom, we see Sosa, Sheffield, and Kent voters. They likely want more power out of their Hall candidates.

Rolen

Support for Curt Schilling

While I wouldn’t have bet on Jones topping this list, I’m not surprised that the top eight are all guys who I think are deserving. As is normal, the bottom three guys all have a PED connection.

Schilling

Support for Gary Sheffield

Once again, we see PEDs as a voting issue.

Sheffield

Support for Sammy Sosa

And again.

Sosa

Support for Omar Vizquel

The thing we’ve seen almost as much as PEDs being a deciding factor is Scott Rolen voters being much better than average. Fewer Rolen voters supported Vizquel than voters of any other candidate. At the top of Vizquel’s list are a borderline Kent, a borderline Pettitte, and a below-the-line McGriff. Again and again and again, we are reminded that support for Vizquel is associated with understanding greatness less than support for any other player.

Vizquel

Support for Billy Wagner

See my comments for Sheffield, Sosa, and others.

Wagner

Support for Larry Walker

Ho hum, Rolen voters. And look for the presence of Vizquel voters throughout these lists. For deserving candidates, he’s often lowest on the list without a PED connection.

Walker

I’m typing this line just moments before the first pitch of the Yankee-Oriole Opening Day game. To me, it makes sense to finish with Hall coverage about this time. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series, and even though the season will be more than three weeks old by the time you read this, I hope you enjoy the season too!

Miller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comparing the Hall of Fame Voters

In a series that has gone on far longer than I anticipated, today I bring to you a review and a bit of analysis of votes per BBWAA ballot. Generally speaking, I believe ballots with more players are better than ballots with fewer. There were fifteen guys the voters were allowed to review who I support, and there were a handful of others who a reasonable person might. Thus, I would argue a ballot that included fewer than ten names was a mistake. Basically, the fewer the names, the bigger the mistake. I suspect you’ll see some clear trends below, and even if you don’t, I’ll be sure to point them out for you.

At this point, I don’t imagine you’ve missed any part of this series you want to see. But if you have…

[Andy Pettitte], [Scott Rolen], [Andruw Jones], [Larry Walker], [Billy Wagner], [Todd Helton], [Manny Ramirez], [Jeff Kent], [Omar Vizquel]

A Big Chart

We’re going to start with an overall chart. Yes, it’s big and not so easy to read. Alphabetical order doesn’t really make things easier either. The real thing I want to point out here is the public (8.25), private (6.72), and overall (8.01) average names per ballot. You might wonder why all of those numbers are lower than even the lowest number for any individual player. First, our individual players numbers are all public ballots, so we should focus only on the number 8.25. There’s a second reason too. There might be a mathematical term or explanation for this phenomenon, but I don’t know what it is. Let’s take an example though. There are 9.17 names on each public ballot that has Barry Bonds’ name checked. But for those 222 ballots, if you eliminated Bonds (as is the case with all ballots without Bonds’ name checked), there are only 8.17 names per ballot, or below the public average. In other words, the average of all ballots was 0.08 names higher than those ballots with Bonds’ name, minus the credit for Bonds. This little exercise doesn’t take into account that there are plenty of Bonds ballots that would include another name if they were allowed. That’s okay though. It tells us something.

Overall Chart

By Candidate

 

The thing to see here is pretty simple. At least as I would argue it, generally speaking, the more names that are on your ballot, the better you are as a voter. Jones and Rolen voters stand above others by this measure. Those who support Ramirez, Sheffield, Walker, Sosa, Bones, Pettitte, Wagner, Clemens, and Helton make us the next level. The third level includes those who voted for Schilling, Kent, and McGriff. I explain in a section below that I don’t give Schilling voters a hard time for finding themselves at this level. The fourth level sees only Vizquel. His supporters thought less of the candidates overall than the supporters of any other candidate.

By Candidate

Supporting 10

This next chart, as with all that follow, shows the percentage of ballots with a particular player’s name checked. In this case, it’s those ballots that have the full compliment of ten names checked. You can see that over three-quarters of all Andrew Jones’ public votes have ten names checked. Almost three-quarters of Scott Rolen’s public votes also checked ten. There’s a sizable drop after those names. Five of the next six players on the list are players associated with PEDs. It’s not surprising that this group tops others because those who won’t vote for those associated with PEDs have fewer qualified candidates from whom to choose. Those who will have an easier time getting to ten names. To me, those facts speak very, very well of Jones and Rolen voters.

I think you also see some interesting stuff at the bottom of this chart. Andy Pettitte voters could only find nine other qualified names half the time. That’s a shame to me since Pettitte was associated with PEDs. What I mean is that if you vote for Pettitte, you must vote for Bonds and Clemens. Also, Pettitte was clearly a lesser pitcher than Roy Halladay, Mike Mussina, and Curt Schilling. So we’re up to six now. Mariano Rivera makes seven. That means half of Andy Pettitte voters disagree with something above, or they thought Pettitte was better than all but two of of Ramirez, Sheffield, Sosa, Edgar, Walker, Rolen, Helton, and Kent. In other words, Pettitte voters struggled to do their jobs well.

The last thing I want to point out is the support Omar Vizquel voters give to other candidates. It’s below the average, which is just about impossible. For whatever reason, I’ve read a lot about the Dunning-Kruger Effect recently, and I think it applies here. Basically, those who have a lot of information doubt and question their information quite a bit. For example (patting myself on the back), I’ve wavered on Manny, Pettitte, Sheffield, Kent, and even Larry Walker in the past. (My Walker wavering was in the long ago past, and I understand my former arguments were poor). Dunning-Kruger goes on to hypothesize that those who know much less are far more assured in their opinions. Those who just know Omar Vizquel was a defensive genius on par with Ozzie Smith or that Jack Morris was the pitcher of the 80s are not influenced by facts to the contrary. (Note: I realize I might be bastardizing Dunning-Kruger to a degree, but I believe I am generally representing it correctly).

10

Supporting 10 or 9

I am very happy to see on this chart that Andy Pettitte voters aren’t quite as bad as represented on the full ballot chart. Lots of them support exactly nine candidates. You also see the PED candidates continue to be bunched, the Jones and Rolen voters still at the top, and the Vizquel voters continuing to do a terrible job. Let me explain what Omar’s 60.4% number means. It means two in five of his supporters thought that there were six or fewer deserving candidates on this ballot other than the unanimous Mariano Rivera and their guy, Omar.

10, 9

Supporting 10, 9, or 8

Continuing our journey, you see that more than 19 in 20 Rolen and Jones voters thought there were at least seven other worthy candidates. About nine in ten voters for eight other candidates thought there were at least seven worthies other than their guy. Then we see a drop. Fred McGriff voters, in my opinion, were wrong. He got a pop in his final year on the ballot that was inconsistent with his record. It makes some sense that Billy Wagner voters might be in this range. Some simply believe he was one of the very best closers of all-time, that closer is a position, and that there weren’t more than six others who were among the very best of all-time at their positions. I think that’s wrong, but it’s not illogical. I don’t mind that Curt Schilling voters are down here. I think there’s a real argument to be made that Schilling was the single best player on this ballot not associated with PEDs. A smaller Hall, non-PED supporter might stop not too many names after Schilling. Jeff Kent voters are just strange – or at least I can’t quite figure them out. And then we have Omar voters. More than a quarter of them think Omar, the unanimous guy, and five or fewer others are the only ones on this ballot who had careers worthy of enshrinement.

10, 9, 8

Supporting 8, 7, or 6

To me, these are bad ballots. I can make an anti-PED case for supporting only nine. It’s not a good case, but I can make it. I can make no such case for eight. And what do you know! Omar is at the top.

8, 7, 6

Supporting 7 or Fewer

This is just the reverse chart of the one above showing support for 10, 9, or 8. Please excuse rounding errors.

7 or Fewer

Supporting 6 or Fewer

Now this is just funny. Nearly one in five Omar voters find their guy, Mariano, and four or fewer others of Hall quality. Check out the Rolen voters. I’d have to call them the best voters of 2019.

6 or Fewer

Supporting 5 or Fewer

If you’re not angry yet, your chances of dying from some stress-related malady are lower than mine.

5 or Fewer

In a week, we’ll close out this series, concentrating on the players you support if you support a particular candidate.

Miller

Examining the Andy Pettitte Voters

I’ve been all over the place these past few months regarding Andy Pettitte. Like most players who I think are beloved for reasons they don’t deserve, I’m no fan of Pettitte’s. I didn’t support him for the HoME. Now I kind of do. I separately predicted that he’d get way more votes than he deserves and that he could fall Andy Pettitte, 1995off the ballot. One really silly thing I thought might happen is that some anti-PED voters would support the case of the former Yankee, Astro, and PED user. About that, frighteningly, I was right.

In today’s post, we’re going to investigate the Andy Pettitte voter. There’s little herein that can’t be gleaned from a perusal the great work Ryan Thibodaux and friends over at the Tracker, where they’ve shared a record 84% of all ballots. Still, I think it’s useful to put all of this in one place. So I have.

Votes by Time of Reveal

In his first year of eligibility, the lefty pickoff artist (balker?) was named on 42 of 425 ballots, good for 9.9% of the vote.

  • Those who shared before the announcement voted for Pettitte at 6.6%.
  • Those who shared after the announcement supported him nearly twice as much, 12.8%.
  • Those whose ballots are anonymous supported him at 14.7%.

Names Per Pettitte Ballot

Given my perception that 2019 saw 13-15 better players than Pettitte on the ballot, I’d expect that those voting for him would support more than the average number of candidates. And this expectation turned out to be correct. Overall, revealed ballots totaled 8.25 names. Those including Pettitte reached 9.16. Of the 32 Pettitte ballots we know, 16 of them contained ten names, another 12 contained nine, one had eight, one had seven, and two fools had only five. Yeah, fools. I can’t help but be angry.

The PED Question

Let’s pretend not a single person knew (or believed they knew) anything about who used or who didn’t use PEDs. If that were the case, it would be nearly unanimous that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are most deserving of enshrinement.

However, some writers think they know about PED use, and some opt not to vote for PED users.

To those voters, I must say unequivocally – Andy Pettitte used performance enhancing drugs! How do we know? Pettitte admitted it!

Don’t misunderstand. I don’t really care that Pettitte used HGH. Also, I make no distinction between his claimed reason for its use, recovery from injury, and anything else. To recover from injury more quickly is clearly a subset of “performance enhancing”. Nor do I care about the number of times he claims to have used, twice. Once, twice, seven hundred times. It doesn’t matter to me.

What I care about is a level of internal consistency by voters. That is, if you’re a never PED voter, you must be a never Andy Pettitte voter.

If you will vote for Pettitte, on the other hand, that means you will vote for PED users. To vote for Pettitte and not Bonds, Clemens, or both, as an incredible 31% of Pettitte voters did, you have to do some implausible mental gymnastics. To do so, one of the following must be true.

  • You believe Pettitte was a better player than Bonds and/or Clemens.
  • You think Pettitte is a liar and never used PEDs.
  • You forgive Pettitte for his use of PEDs but don’t forgive Bonds and/or Clemens.
  • You don’t know Pettitte used PEDs.

To be honest, I think it’s primarily the third point and secondarily the fourth. I hope it’s not the other way around. Some writers are just awful. Virtually anything is possible.

Reiterating the point, more than 31% of Pettitte voters either are so unfamiliar with his career, or they decided that one PED user was worthy of their vote, but Bonds, Clemens, or both weren’t. Simply, that is unconscionable.

The Pitchers

For me, putting Pettitte’s name on my ballot, even if I thought he was over the line, would have been very difficult in 2019. According to my MAPES+ rankings, it’s very clear that Roger Clemens (#3), Curt Schilling (#22), Mike Mussina (#25), Roy Halladay (#30), and Mariano Rivera (#44) were more valuable on the baseball diamond than Andy Pettitte (#75) was. Reasonable people might also place Roy Oswalt (#83) above Pettitte. Let’s see how Pettitte voters supported the other major pitcher candidates.

  • Mariano Rivera, 100%: Obviously.
  • Mike Mussina, 100%: I’m kind of shocked. Every single Pettitte voter supported Mike Mussina as well, five converting to pro-Mussina just this year. That’s compared to just 77% of the electorate overall.
  • Roy Halladay: 75%: If you voted for Pettitte you were less likely to vote for Halladay (85%) than you would be if you didn’t. Maybe you’re attracted to the 53 additional wins? Or maybe it’s that Pettitte’s team got to the playoffs more?
  • Roger Clemens, 72%: Pettitte voters liked Clemens more than voters in general did (60%), which should be no surprise. After all, if you’re willing to support PED users, you basically have to support Clemens. It’s stunning not everyone did.
  • Curt Schilling, 63%: To me, Schilling (61%) and Mussina are near doppelgangers, with Schilling being the best postseason pitcher of his generation. The mindset of those who leave Schilling off their ballots is varied and quite difficult for me to understand beyond the words they use in their reasoning. I’ll leave it there.
  • Roy Oswalt, 3%: Only one voter supported both Oswalt (1%) and Pettitte. That’s Alan Hoskins. Kind of amazingly, Hoskins voted for the ballot’s seven best pitchers, Bonds, Edgar, and Sosa. Odd ballot.

Other Observations

  • Pettitte voters really did not support Larry Walker, voting for him only 41% of the time compared to 55% overall.
  • In a bit of a surprise to me, his supporters couldn’t support Fred McGriff. The first baseman received 40% of support overall but just 28% of known Pettitte voters.
  • On the other hand, Pettitte voters really liked Manny Ramirez; 34% compared to 23% of the overall BBWAA. Perhaps it’s a PED thing? If you’re willing to support Pettitte, it’s harder to vote against Manny than it might be otherwise? I’m not sure.
  • Pettitte voters also liked Gary Sheffield and Omar Vizquel more than the average, and they liked Jeff Kent less than the average. Kent’s situation might be like McGriff’s. Voters didn’t have room for an additional borderliner with Pettitte on the ballot.

Conclusions

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot that’s extremely revealing here. It is, sadly and amazingly, yet another data point showing that many voters are incredibly bad at their jobs. Mark Bradley, Sadiel Lebron, Tery Pluto, Eduardo Almada, Steve Kornacki, Richard Shook, Jay Dunn, Hideo Kizaki, Juan Vené, and Jim Street all voted for Andy Pettitte but left off at least one of the two best players on the ballot. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Miller

Reviewing the BBWAA Ballots, #166-185

We’re at an odd time in the ballot grading cycle, friends. See, the election results will be out on Tuesday, and I suspect a number of folks are holding their ballots to reveal at the last minute. So today’s post will be rather simple and less angry than normal. Want some anger? Take a look at the previous posts in this series.

[1-12], [13-20], [21-38], [39-81], [82-118], [119-151], [152-165]

A Conversation with Jayson Stark(‘s Hall Ballot Article)

It gives me chills, every single year, to get my first look at the Hall of Fame ballot. That’s because I know we’re not just casting ballots. We’re changing lives. And I’ve never taken that for granted.

While I believe Stark, I don’t believe the average writer.


It’s also going to be induction weekend for me.

And you freakin’ deserve it!


I struggled with whether to include that preamble to this column – the annual opus in which I reveal how I cast my 2019 ballot. It’s never been my aim in life to call attention to myself at times like this.

Yeah, but you should. Again, you truly deserve it.


If I vote for a guy one year, I vote for him the next. And I’ll do that forever – unless A) he gets elected, B) he falls off the ballot or C) there’s an influx of first-year luminaries and I run out of boxes I’m allowed to check.

Ouch! What if you decide to keep learning and realize you were wrong?


Instead, thanks to the regrettable Rule of 10, the ballot clogs and never unclogs. Instead, guys like Edgar and Walker, Mussina and Schilling – not to mention the all-PED team of Bonds, Clemens, Sosa and Manny – keep showing up year after year. So instead, people like me are forced to vote using a method I hate:

Ballot management.

Jayson, the ballot will unclog. Let me explain:

2019:

  • Halladay and Rivera get in, while Berkman, Oswalt, and Tejada fall of the ballot. (Edgar’s going to get in too. But if he doesn’t, he’s gone anyway). McGriff will be gone too.

2020:

  • Add Jeter, Abreu, and guys who certainly don’t deserve a vote.
  • Bonds (’22), Clemens (’22), Helton, Jones, Kent, Mussina, Pettitte, Ramirez, Rolen, Schilling (’22), Sheffield, Sosa, Wagner, and Walker (’20) come back for more.
  • No, I’m not including Vizquel, as he’s an awful selection and shouldn’t be on a ballot under any set of circumstances.
  • That’s 16 guys who have any argument; 14 would get my vote.
  • Jeter and Mussina will get in. Walker is gone no matter what. And Abreu will fall off the ballot.

2021:

  • Add Tim Hudson and guys who certainly don’t deserve a vote.
  • Bonds (’22), Clemens (‘22), Helton, Jones, Kent, Pettitte, Ramirez, Rolen, Schilling (‘22), Sheffield, Sosa (’22), and Wagner remain.
  • We’re down to just ten guys who would receive my vote and 13 who have any business being on a ballot.
  • I believe Schilling will get in the year after Musina does. And I pray he doesn’t have the stage alone.

2022:

  • Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Mark Teixeira, and Jimmy Rollins join.
  • Bonds (’22), Clemens (‘22), Helton, Jones, Kent, Pettitte, Ramirez, Rolen, Sheffield, Sosa (’22), and Wagner carry over again.
  • Because I think Teixeira and Rollins are just bad choices, there are again just 13 who could possibly get a vote. And again, ten would receive mine.
  • Ortiz will get in, while Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa age off.

2023:

  • Carlos Beltran is our only new arrival.
  • Helton, Jones, Kent, Pettitte, Ramirez, Rodriguez, Rolen, Sheffield, and Wagner are back.
  • Only eight guys would receive my vote. What too many have called a “problem” will be solved.

I never get tired of pointing out that there might be no slugger on earth who was victimized by the PED era more than McGriff.

For a decade and a half, the Crime Dog was pretty much exactly the same player. He never changed. What did change, at times suspiciously, was the sport around him.

As I suspect you know, I have a real problem with this. Aside from the idea that absence of evidence and evidence of absence are entirely different animals, we don’t know at all that McGriff didn’t use PEDs. McGriff didn’t change. Okay. But players change. Players age. Maybe, just maybe, McGriff used PEDs to put off a typical aging process. I’m not saying this happened. I’m just saying we have as much information supporting my point as Stark’s.


No Hall of Famer with as few career plate appearances as Berkman (6,491) has been elected by the writers since 1975 (Ralph Kiner). And no Hall of Famer with as few career hits as Berkman (1,905) has been elected by the writers since 1970 (Lou Boudreau).

Stark is talking about Berkman here. And he’s using an awful standard. It’s like using MVP votes as your standard. You’re assuming that past writers have been correct (or incorrect in the case of those who support Vizquel). By doing so and by adding no further analysis, we run the risk of repeating past mistakes. And there have been a ton.

To be fair, Stark is known for cute, little (or unbelievably awesome, as I believe) stats. Maybe he’s just sharing a couple.


So were all those Gold Glove seasons in his 20s enough? Sorry. Just couldn’t get there. Jim Edmonds was an eight-time Gold Glove center fielder who finished his career with a 132 OPS+  – and he was one and done on this ballot. Andruw was a 10-time Gold Glove center fielder with a 111 OPS+. That’s a vote-killer for me.

Enough with the benefit of the doubt. Edmonds deserved another ballot! That he didn’t get one was a mistake, not evidence to use against future candidates.


Shortstop seasons since 1900 with 140+ games and five errors or fewer: Omar Vizquel – three. All other shortstops combined – also three! The most surehanded shortstop of all time: Omar.

This is an embarrassment. You’re better than this, Jayson. Errors, you must know, are less meaningful than runs batted in and pitcher wins.


Yeah, yeah. I’m aware that errors and Gold Gloves can both be misleading indicators of defensive brilliance. And yes, I got the memo that Vizquel’s OPS+ was a mere 82. So those counting stats tell a limited story of his offensive artistry.

I don’t understand how those second and third sentences interact. I don’t believe they do. You and other writers who support Vizquel seem simply not to care that Vizquel was a miserable hitter.


At some point, we have to reach a point where we stop automatically penalizing great hitters who play baseball in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. At some point, we have to understand how to measure both the pros and the cons of that experience.

Yes, sir, it’s called WAR. And you just referenced it one player ago. (To be fair, Stark does talk about park neutralized numbers, and he makes Helton’s case quite well).


If a player – any player – was clearly among the most dominant players at his position for a decade, he’s a Hall of Famer. End of argument.

Okay, I might be fine with that. However, earlier in the post Stark wrote…


Oswalt had an incredible peak. It’s worth reminding you that, over his first 10 seasons, he went 150-83, with a 3.18 ERA, 135 ERA+ and 1.18 WHIP.

Not dominant enough? (To be fair, no, I don’t think it was dominant enough either.


I don’t know of anybody who is naïve enough to think we haven’t already elected multiple PED users to the Hall of Fame.

I hear that a lot, but I think there are plenty of writers who don’t believe a PED user has been elected. I may be wrong.


Once testing was in place and guys got caught and suspended, that’s a whole different era. But evaluating anything and everything before that is just an elaborate, impossible guessing game – and one we’ve already messed up.

Preach!


Ballot of the Week

Mark Bradley (100) of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution takes home this week’s award. I’m proud to offer someone this honor whose entire article discusses WAR. But it makes me a shade uncomfortable too. Am I just uncreative? I don’t think so. There just aren’t many borderliners on this ballot. Berkman, Sosa, Sheffield, Tejada, Pettitte, Oswalt, and maybe McGriff come to mind. Maybe I’m missing someone, but most everyone else is an obvious call or a PED call. And yes, WAR gets me there. As for Bradley, his votes went to Bonds, Clemens, Jones, Edgar, Mussina, Ramirez, Mariano, Rolen, Schilling, and Walker. You may notice there’s no Halladay. Bradley dropped him to include Mariano, a guy off his WAR board. Though that’s not my direction, I can’t really fault him. It’s not like Halladay needs his vote.

One Liners

  • About Larry Walker, Mike Nadel (40) says, “…his stats were SO much better in the thin air of Colorado that it’s difficult to not look at his overall numbers as somewhat artificial.” Or Mike – hear me out on this – you could look at value stats rather than counting or rate stats.
  • Shi Davidi (85) cites Thibs a lot in his article. While he’s not against ballot reveals, he does admit that the Tracker affects his ballot. “…the continued lack of traction for Jeff Kent led me to again keep push him off my ballot, convincing me that a voting slot could be better used elsewhere.”
  • Alan Greenwood (15) says, “As has been stated here many times, statistics are the foundation of a Hall of Famer’s candidacy, but not its entire being.” Well, Alan, that would have to be true if you’re going to leave off Edgar Martinez and Mike Mussina.
  • To pick on a guy for the sake of picking on him, I’m going after Darrin Beene (95) a bit. He wrote, “Martinez’s candidacy has gained momentum over the years largely because many, at least initially, did not consider a DH worthy.” Think about that line for a second. Just think about it.
  • Chris Haft (80) puts in just a few words the post hoc nonsense spewed by many Vizquel voters. “As for Vizquel, I pity those who can’t or won’t comprehend his excellence.” Owners wouldn’t pay him, fans and managers wouldn’t make him an All-Star, and writers like you wouldn’t vote for him as MVP. On this one, in his time, Omar’s excellence was comprehended by all constituencies.

Jerk of the Week

Thom Loverro (25) writes for The Washington Times, a newspaper, according to Media Bias/Fact Check founded in 1992 “…by a self-professed messiah, Korean Sun Myung Moon and according to its parent company, during Washington Times 20th anniversary, Moon said: ‘The Washington Times is responsible to let the American people know about God’ and ‘The Washington Times will become the instrument in spreading the truth about God to the world.’” Wikipedia tells me Loverro moved to sports writing in 1992 when he joined his current paper.

Moving on, he voted for Halladay, Kent, Edgar, McGriff, Mussina, Mariano, Vizquel, Wagner, and Walker. That’s not so bad for an anti-PED guy, but it’s only six guys I’d support and one who’s simply awful.

In his article, which was about 730 words long if you eliminate player names and references to the Hall, he mentions cheating, PEDs, and the Mitchel Report eight times. In what constitutes his ballot explanation, he mentions Lee Smith. And for some reason he mentions Harold Baines seven times. Maybe that’s because Baines was a guy he supported when he was on the ballot! Yes, he was one of the very few writers who supported Baines. Most shockingly, he mentioned Jack Morris six times.

  • He says that hostility and resentment have come to define Hall voting. Whose? His for sure! Why do Jack Morris, Harold Baines, and Lee Smith get more mention of the guys on the ballot when he’s not talking about PEDs? I’d say it’s because he’s resentful of something.
  • And I know what it is. He mentions “stat warriors” twice and “numbers geeks” once. If he ever did understand the game, he knows it’s passed him by, and he’s angry. I get it. I’m angry that I can’t run marathons any longer. But you wanna know the truth about me and running? The answer is the same as Loverro and baseball. You could say I’ve prioritized other things more highly. You could say I’m lazier too. To be fair, you’d have to say I’m not trying hard enough. And Thom, neither are you.
  • Here’s my favorite line from his nonsense writing. It basically tells you all you need to know. “Committee members — specifically White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, Hall of Fame general manager Pat Gillick (who had Baines on his Orioles rosters) and Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa, his manager in Chicago — had the knowledge to believe that Baines is a Hall of Famer.” Ugh!

Worst Ballot of the Week

Phil Rogers, formerly of The Chicago Tribune, writes for Forbes. Seems lots of BBWAA members write for that renowned baseball publication. Anyway, he voted for Roy Halladay, Fred McGriff (adding his name this year), Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera, Curt Schilling, Omar Vizquel, and Larry Walker. He posted on Twitter and basically answered nothing. And he actually whited out an Edgar vote. If he’s trolling us, that’s cool. But I don’t think he is.

Enjoy the announcement on Tuesday! And let’s keep our collective fingers crossed for Mike Mussina until then.

Miller

Reviewing the BBWAA Ballots, #152-165

A quiet week for ballots. Tweets from Ryan Thibodaux give me confidence that more ballots are coming, that there’s going to be a big dump just before the election. Until then, I’m happy that during my busiest week of the year at work, there’s a bit of quiet. Older posts are linked right below.

[1-12], [13-20], [21-38], [39-81], [82-118], [119-151]

Onto those ballots!

A Few Notes

  • Mariano’s still perfect. Fingers crossed!
  • Halladay and Edgar are guaranteed.
  • I don’t know how to feel about Mussina (currently at 81.8%). I’m hopeful today, not for any good reason though.
  • Though I’m no fan of Andy Pettitte, I’m bothered that he’s at only 7.3%. Please tell me he’s not falling off!

Ballot of the Week

You know my PED voting opinion. Yet, Derrick Goold (85) from the St. Louis Post Dispatch earns our weekly ballot award despite a refusal to vote for Bonds, Clemens, et al. I love, love, love logic. Lemme explain.

Two years ago, about the character clause, he wrote, “I see each of those words as a scalpel I can use to trim my list. I already have used the “player’s record” and “playing ability” and “contributions to the team(s)” to come up with a list of 14 or 15 players that I would vote into the Hall with an unlimited ballot. So I use the other tools – integrity, sportsmanship, character – to reduce that group down to 10.

That’s not at all what I would do, but it makes total sense. I can support a logical decision, even if it’s not the one I’d make.

He also wrote,

“Going back to my first explanation of my first ballot, I’ve stated two changes to the voting process that the Hall could make that would guarantee my vote for Clemens, Bonds, and others.

  • Destroy the 10-player limit and open the ballot (Binary Ballot?).
  • Engrave their transgressions on the plaque.”

I very much dislike mandating the second, though I can completely see someone’s desire for that. And accompanied by the first, I absolutely can’t argue.

Anti-PED voters can be great voters. Goold is proof. Thank you, Derrick!

One Liners

  • “So I decided that, in select cases, I would vote for suspected (and maybe even admitted) Performance-Enhancing Drug cheats.” This line makes me angry. It’s dehumanizing, like calling people who entered this country unlawful “illegals”. Those who have used PEDs perhaps broke no rules. Or perhaps they’re cheaters. But they’re neither “steroid cheats” nor “PED cheats”. I don’t want to get political here, so I can say I understand views if you’re accepting of a certain amount of illegal immigration or if you’re tremendously against it. They’re “illegal immigrants”, or better yet, they’re “people who entered the country unlawfully (or illegally).” Dehumanizing anyone makes my blood boil. You don’t have to like the people because of their crimes or “crimes”, but you have to acknowledge that they are people. If you must, call them “cheaters”. They’re not “cheats”. That’s not a word that can be used to describe humans.
  • Ian Harrison (70) wrote, “Besides the inductees, this process is about the fans, and I think fans want to see players get the chance to be debated, not drop off the ballot…” Yes! Thank you!
  • On the MLB Network, Bob Nightengale said about Fred McGriff, “He’s got the hightst OPS of anybody that has never been linked to steroids.” Among people named “Fred”??? What are you saying, man?

Jerk of the Week

Is it me? It might be me. I’ve been too busy this week to listen to podcasts, so I’m left keeping this slot blank for the week.

Worst Ballot of the Week

Michael Knisley (5) voted for Todd Helton, Jeff Kent, Edgar Martinez, Mariano Rivera, Billy Wagner, and Larry Walker. It seems he’s anti-PED, anti-SP, and anti-Rfield/DRA. That’s a lot of anti. And he doesn’t explain his ballot.

Hopefully things will be a bit more exciting next week. Keeping my fingers crossed for pro-Mussina ballots!

Miller

Reviewing the BBWAA Ballots, #119-151

There was a point this week where all of Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens (but not Curt Schilling) found themselves with over 75% of the vote. No, there wasn’t and isn’t a chance that Bonds and Clemens will get in this year, but it was fun to see for a spell.

Check out the earlier reviews in this series. Until then, let’s move on to those ballots. [1-12], [13-20], [21-38], [39-81], [82-118]

A Few Notes

  • Mariano remains perfect, and though I feel pretty confident that his “no” vote will come from an anonymous ballot, I’m getting more and more hopeful. Bob Ryan added his two cents to the whole unanimous business this week when he said that 50 or maybe 75 players should have been elected unanimously in the past. And the guy’s right. People have mentioned Cobb, Ruth, DiMaggio, Mantle, Mays, Aaron, Seaver, Ripken, Griffey, and others. But what’s the reason someone wouldn’t vote for Steve Carlton or Wade Boggs or Al Kaline? There’s none (well, someone could concoct one for Carlton or Boggs, but you get my point). Sure, they’re below the no-brainer line of Cobb and Ripken, but they’re still laughably over anyone’s legitimate in/out line.
  • I’m beginning to feel like Mike Mussina and Larry Walker may have their fates linked. What I mean is that I think Walker might need Mussina to get in this year so he can get in on his final BBWAA chance in 2020. Two things lead me to that conclusion. First, when voters have space, they tend to fill that space with guys they hadn’t previously considered. Second, guys at the end of their runs get bumps (see McGriff, Fred). If Mussina gets in this year, that’ll be 300 votes that can go to new or returning candidates. Just give Derek Jeter all the Mariano Rivera votes. Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, and Cliff Lee won’t take too much space, so there are still lots of free votes. Walker has great momentum now, and he’ll be in his 10th year. If we imagine Mussina doesn’t get in, however, he’ll be the cause célèbre that Edgar is this year. With Mussina gone, it’ll be Walker. (I think Schilling goes in one year after Mussina no matter what, so I don’t consider him in this hypothetical).
  • Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrTibbs) keeps improving the Tracker, adding some color indicating that players are currently over the in/out line or under the 5% line. Thanks Ryan!
  • I’d have lost a bet made a couple months ago about who would receive more support, Edgar Martinez or Roy Halladay. I’m shocked the phormer Phillie ace has been approved on about 19 of every 20 ballots so far. Happy, but shocked.

Ballot of the Week

This week Ryan Divish and Peter Gammons (?!?) joined Tim Booth and Patrick Graham with exactly my ballot of Bonds, Clemens, Halladay, Helton, Edgar, Mussina, Mo, Rolen, Schilling, and Walker. Divish is a very forward-thinking dude, so I’m proud we share a ballot. But Gammons is a real surprise. Perhaps you remember that a year ago Gammons chose not to vote for Clemens because they wrote a book together in 1987. Of course, Gammons had voted for Clemens in 2017, so I’m left to guess exactly what happened. Sometimes I think I should watch more MLB Network, and then I remember Chris Russo and snap out of it.

Art Davidson Crazy-Ass Ballot Award

Art Davidson (55) seems like one odd bird. His ballot is one you might expect from a person who lives under a bridge. By choice. When he has a beautiful house, with really nice family inside, just steps away from that bridge.

Davidson voted for newcomers Mariano Rivera and Roy Halladay. Well done so far!

He also voted for six other players, but only Curt Schilling is a holdover from a year ago. That alone is a little kooky, I think. Somehow it’s Schilling who is the only player on whom he doesn’t waver. Anyway, last year he voted for Andruw Jones and Omar Vizquel. This year he dropped both. And this year he added Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, and Larry Walker. For a guy whose ballot decisions seem to be made by throwing darts, or perhaps flinging poo, he did pretty well.

Or maybe things weren’t going well for him last year, and he’s really getting his act together now. Whatever the case, I’d love to pick his brain.

One-Liners

  • Mike Harrington (50) says, “The fact that Baines is going into the Baseball Hall of Fame — clearly thanks to the prodding of his former owner (Jerry Reinsdorf) and former manager (Tony La Russa) on the Today’s Game Committee — doesn’t change the standards for election one bit in this view.” Thank you! If Baines became the new standard, we’d have to pretty quickly induct about 300 guys. Relatives of Ed McKean rejoice!
  • Jeff Wilson (85) shares that “The Mitchell Report on steroid use in MLB, the smoking gun for some Hall voters, explicitly recommends to the commissioner that the players tied to PEDs in the report not be punished retroactively.” Again, thank you! Voters who retroactively “punish” guys on the ballot because they found their names in the Mitchell Report are only selectively applying Mitchell’s findings.
  • Richard Griffin (70) and I should chat. He’s pretty angry too. “The Baseball Hall of Fame is in danger of devolving into an old boys network similar to the Hockey Hall of Fame, where popularity trumps accomplishment and the bar of excellence is lowered year after year.” He’s talking about Harold Baines. More accurately, he’s talking about the 12 people on the 16-person committee who elected Baines. It’s sort of funny and sort of sad when BBWAA members decry the “back door” of the various Vet Committees. I’d have much more respect for complaints such as his if the BBWAA did a better job at the front door. Or if more writers admitted the BBWAA shortcomings.
  • He also says, “Baines in effect becomes the Mendoza line for baseball immortality, meaning that anyone with comparable stats and a better career WAR can claim they should be in.” Well, yeah, Rico Petrocelli, Jesse Barfield, and Hooks Dauss can claim whatever they want. Still, no reasonable person will champion their causes unless they believe the Hall should immediately double in size or they’re being intellectually dishonest.
  • Maybe Griffin and I shouldn’t talk since I’m feeling almost giddy this week. Ryan Fagan (100) writes, “The only difference with Bonds and Clemens is that the advantages available to them were more impressive than the advantages that were available to the generation that popped greenies before and during games.” Well, that’s not the only difference, but I agree with the point he’s making. If you’re an anti-PED voter, I’d ask that you sit with Fagan’s words for a bit.
  • About Edgar Martinez, Fagan writes, “So he was known strictly as a DH, even though he was actually a pretty decent third baseman before he was shifted to full-time DH in an attempt to keep him healthy.” Yes!!!! Edgar became a DH because the M’s so desperately needed to keep his incredible bat in the lineup, not because he couldn’t field.
  • And then there’s Randy Miller (-65), who isn’t great with facts. About Edgar, he says, “I still think it hurts his candidacy that he was a bad-fielding third baseman early in his career and a DH for most of it,…” He’s just not correct.
  • But he’s trying. Maybe. Kind of. “Yankees manager Aaron Boone’s pre-game media sessions with beat writers got the ball rolling. Hearing how important OPS is to Boone, a very intelligent third-generation big leaguer, enticed me to rethink my position as well as discuss my borderline candidates with a few respected baseball people, a current Hall of Famer included.” There’s a lot to unpack here if you want. For the moment, my rosy disposition only allows me to reiterate that he seems to be trying.

Twitter People Are Dumb

You’re familiar with this cesspool, are you? I think I’ve found the dumbest bit of “logic” that’s spouted with reasonable consistency on the entire platform. It goes something like this:

“If you vote for Bonds and Clemens, you have to vote for [insert lesser PED user here].”

No, no, no, no, no! No you freakin’ don’t. Let’s say it together one time. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were better at baseball than [insert lesser PED user here].

Voting for Roger Clemens and not Sammy Sosa is just like voting for Sammy Sosa and not Jon Garland. You simply think the former is better than the latter. Why is that so hard to understand???

Jerk of the Week

I feel like I’ve been pretty positive this week. Is it just an anomaly? The McAdam effect? Whatever the case, any positivity that may or may not exist above ends here. I’ll try to be brief.

Randy Miller did his NJ.com readers quite a service by explaining his views on every player on the ballot. Wonderful! But he is so obsessed that I think he might need help, at least as much as I do. In his column, he mentions PEDs seven times. He mentions steroids nine times. And he mentions cheaters or cheating seven times. Here’s one blurb. “I vote for candidates that I viewed as great players for an extended period of time and, unlike many of my voting colleagues, I never will avert from my stance on the known cheaters or candidates that I’m convinced used performance-enhancers (and I know for fact that there are Hall of Famers who adamantly agree).”

Ugh, another angry Miller (no relation) voted for Halladay, Edgar, McGriff, Mariano, Vizquel, and Walker. He wrote, “Crime Dog was consistently very good, and as I mention every year, he put up tremendous numbers season after season without cheating…” This is just awful. How does he know???

And please don’t get me started on the since retracted, “My big problem with Sosa these days is his bleached-white face, which has him as unrecognizable as Renee Zellweger.” It’s possible writing such a thing could be career-ending. Really just awful.

On multiple levels, this guy should be ashamed of himself.

Worst Ballot of the Week

Evan Grant is a good voter. I think he’s a very good voter. Last year his ballot was worth 90 points. He earned 70 points this year by voting for the likes of Bonds, Clemens, Halladay, Edgar, Mussina, Mo, Schilling, Sheffield, and Walker. But here’s the problem – he also voted for Michael Young. Now I’m not against a guy giving a player from his team a courtesy vote. Really, I’m not. As Grant put it on Twitter, he votes for Young as “…a tip of cap for career done right.” But here’s the problem. Young, an undeserving candidate, takes his last ballot spot, and at least according to Ryan Thibs, Grant would have voted for Scott Rolen too if he had more space. He did have space, but he occupied it with Michael Young.

Sorry Evan, that’s the wrong thing to do.

Miller

A Ballot Grading Resolution?

Michael Young, 2012

Yeah, he got another vote.

It’s the new year, and as such, it’s time for a bit of introspection. Each semester when I begin to teach persuasion, I talk to my students about the opinions we all hold. We, necessarily, believe that each one of our individual opinions is correct (if we didn’t think we were correct, we wouldn’t hold that opinion). At the same time, we know that not all of our opinions are correct since we’re not perfect. Thus, we need to keep thinking about the things we believe so that we can stop believing the things that aren’t correct.

I’m not right about everything. I know that.

This week, Sean McAdam (60 – Bonds, Clemens, Halladay, Andruw, Edgar, Mussina, Mariano, and Schilling) wrote the following:

“I’ve also come to abhor the notion of “scoring” which ballots are good and which aren’t. As statistically-based as the voting process is, the act of determining those Hall of Fame-worthy is an entirely subjective process. There are no “good” or “bad” ballots; there are only ones with which you agree or disagree.”

In many years living in and around Boston, I came to appreciate McAdam as a fair voice, often a voice of reason, which isn’t too common in any sports scene’s talking-head-o-sphere. So when I read those words of his, I was forced to think.

McAdam’s Right

I am willing to admit that McAdam is being entirely fair when he implies that guys like me are or can be, essentially, jerks. I’m not in the rest of my life, I don’t believe, but that’s the hat I wear when reviewing Hall of Fame ballots.

The world today is very different than it was 20 years ago. If I had a beef with someone’s Hall of Fame ballot back then – and I did – I’d write about it in a long screed of an email to Eric – and I did. Today, that screed is available for the whole world to see.

I think there’s a difference between sharing on a blog and writing to someone to tell him or her how awful their choices are. Right?

BABIP Law Offices

A Parks and Rec law office. Tremendous!

One of my favorite Twitter follows is @KenTremendous. That’s the penname of Michael Schur, co-creator of Parks and Recreation, among many other things in television. I follow him because he’s a big baseball fan whose takes I enjoy. Recently, there was a Twitter conversation about sharing with celebrities how much you think their work sucks. I don’t want to go into much depth here, but Schur’s take, with which I agree, is that there’s no reason to do so. I would never write to McAdam to tell him that his ballot just barely passes. First, who the heck am I? Second, what makes me think he should care about my opinion? Third, that’s just mean.

McAdam is correct to abhor ballot grading if we take Schur’s thoughts just one step further. Maybe two. If you shouldn’t tell a celebrity (or BBWAA member) how much their work sucks, you probably shouldn’t tell the friend of a celebrity that same thing. McAdam is a “celebrity” in this regard, and he likely has many friends in the BBWAA. Thus, since I’d never write to McAdam to tell him that he did a poor job, I also shouldn’t write to him to tell him that someone else did a poor job. No, I’m not doing that. Not exactly. But I am putting those thoughts out there for everyone to see. While I don’t suspect McAdam has seen this blog, there’s no doubt he’s seen the work of others, and I suspect he’s been hurt by some of it.

There was a time when personal opinions were personal. Today, they’re sometimes very public. I can understand why McAdam might think my Friday work is akin to tweeting @KenTremendous how awful Brooklyn Nine-Nine is (I actually think it’s a really smart show).

Unlike some, I don’t think McAdam or others who are bothered by ballot grading need to toughen up or anything like that. Being upset when someone insults you or your friends makes perfect sense to me.

If you’re reading this, Sean, I am sorry if I have hurt your feelings.

No, I Won’t Stop Grading Ballots

It’s dichotomous at best, and hypocritical at worst, to believe McAdam is right to abhor scoring ballots and still to do it.

Three reasons I won’t stop. First, despite more than 32,000 hits at the HoME last year (thank you!), we’re still extremely small. Basically inconsequential. Second, while I am genuinely sorry if I hurt McAdam’s feelings, I would not be sorry in all cases. McAdam, from what I know, tries to do the right thing. I do not believe the same about all of his colleagues. Finally, I enjoy doing what I do every Friday. It serves as an outlet for the anger I feel when seeing what I believe to be “bad” ballots.

McAdam’s Also Wrong

While I understand and might even agree with McAdam’s distaste for ballot grading, I disagree with his assertions that this process is “entirely subjective” and that there are no “good” or “bad” ballots.

The process isn’t entirely subjective. If it were, writers would only talk about the beauty of Omar Vizquel at shortstop, which is subjective. They’d never mention his 2,877 hits or the 11 Gold Gloves he was awarded, which are objective facts. Clearly the process isn’t entirely subjective. At most, it’s partly subjective.

Also, there are bad ballots. Here are some examples:

  • A homer ballot: If McAdam’s ballot included Red Sox Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Manny Ramirez, Billy Wagner, Kevin Youkilis, Derek Lowe, Jason Bay, and Darren Oliver, he’s not working to get the best players into the Hall. I feel comfortable saying that’s a bad thing to do.
  • An alphabetical ballot: Voting for Rick Ankiel, Jason Bay, Lance Berkman, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Freddy Garcia, Jon Garland, Travis Hafner, Roy Halladay, and Todd Helton is bad too. The reason is because the person with that ballot isn’t trying to get the best players in the Hall.
  • A Polanco ballot: This is a bad ballot, one where the writer votes for only Placido Polanco. What such a ballot means is not just that you think Placido Polanco belongs in the Hall of Fame (which is incorrect, though less so than most believe), but it also means you believe Polanco is better than all other players on the ballot. That’s just absurd. Even if you dump Martinez because he was a DH, Rivera because he was a closer, Schilling because he’s a tool, Walker and Helton because of Coors, and Bonds, Clemens, Ramirez, Pettitte, Sheffield, Sosa, and Tejada because of PED use/speculation, you still have Mussina, Rolen, Halladay, Jones, and others who were clearly better players than Polanco.

Can all agree that those three are examples of bad ballots?

I suspect even McAdam would agree.

Trying to Keep Learning

There’s little that bothers me more than writers who pooh-pooh the analytics community for asserting that there are statistics more valuable than wins, hits, and Gold Gloves (or something like that). When they do so, it means they’ve chosen to stop learning. Though not as egregious, choosing not to question your own assumptions, suggests to me that one has stopped learning.

When I talk about this with students, I use the tooth fairy as an example. I ask a student if he or she believed in the tooth fairy 15 years ago. They giggle and say they did. Then I ask if they still believe in the tooth fairy. After they answer, I tell them I’m about to say something that might sound harsh. If they still, at age 19, believe everything they believed when they were 4, they might be an idiot. That usually gets some laughs. Students agree. Then I get to the real lesson, which I admit falls flat for most. I tell them that when they’re 34, if they believe everything they believe today, they’re probably an idiot. And when they’re 49, if they believe everything they did when they were 34, they’re probably an idiot. The lesson is that we don’t know everything today, that we need to keep thinking and learning. I try to do that every day.

So let me question one of my assumptions here – the assumption that a ballot containing fewer than ten names is flawed.

I believe there are 15 qualified players on this ballot: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay, Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Manny Ramirez, Mariano Rivera, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, and Larry Walker. Further, I think those who advocate for Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte, and Billy Wagner are quite reasonable. That’s 19 guys. If you can’t find 10 in those 19, I believe you are making a mistake. At least I did six weeks ago when I constructed this system. Let’s start with 19 and work our way down.

  • A reasonable person could leave Berkman, Oswalt, Pettitte, and Wagner off their ballots. After all, I would. We’re down to 15.
  • A reasonable person could reject Manny Ramirez because he cheated. I will not assert that someone cheated if they didn’t fail a test during the time that PEDs were banned in MLB through collective bargaining. Before that time, it was akin to the wild west – Brown-Séquard elixir, extract from sheep testicles, greenies, anabolic steroids – I don’t consider myself fit to judge who did what, let alone who didn’t. Anyway, we’re down to 14.
  • A reasonable person could have Kent, Sheffield, and Sosa on the wrong side of the in/out line. That leaves only 11 players. Let’s move the other way now.
  • There are 70 pitchers in the Hall of Fame. MAPES+ says that each of Curt Schilling, Mike Mussina, Roy Halladay, and Mariano Rivera is within the top-44 ever. I think it’s unreasonable to leave any of them off your ballot. That’s four.
  • I believe it is unreasonable to leave Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens off your ballot too. To be brief, it was not until 2005 that MLB could dole out any punishment for PED use. Bonds and Clemens both played in 2005-2007, and neither failed a test for performance enhancing drugs. I don’t count what Ruth tried to do, what Mays and Aaron might have done, or what Bonds, Clemens, or anyone else likely did prior to 2005 testing. They all did or tried to do something, which wasn’t banned, to enhance their performance. (Don’t give me the entirely unenforceable memo sent by Fay Vincent in the summer of 1991. He had the same authority to make that decree that you and I did – absolutely none). In short, Bonds and Clemens were deserving of induction after the 2004 season, and neither one failed a test after 2004. We’re up to six players who must be on your ballots.
  • I rank Todd Helton better than eleven Hall first basemen, Edgar Martinez better than six Hall third basemen at an underrepresented position, and Larry Walker better than sixteen Hall right fielders. Those three simply have to be in, bringing us to nine.
  • We have just Andruw Jones and Scott Rolen remaining. Given that more of his value comes from offense, I prefer Rolen by a bit, though he leads only four Hall third basemen. Jones leads eight Hall center fielders. You have to be able to write one of those names.

Okay, I thought it through. I’m okay with the penalty I give when grading, though I’m a lot less confident than I was six weeks ago, and I’m a lot less justified in my opinion than I was a year ago when the ballot was more crowded than it is today.

Will I have the same rule next year? Well, that depends who’s on the ballot. I’m almost 100% sure the following players will appear: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Manny Ramirez, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, Larry Walker, and Derek Jeter. Pettitte and Wagner will be back too. They’ll be joined by Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, and Cliff Lee. With only those guys on the ballot, I see just six to eight no-brainer candidates. If Mussina doesn’t make it this year, that’s one more. So no, I don’t think I’ll have the same grading criterion next season. Of course, my disposition may change on Pettitte or Abreu or some of those for whom I think extremely reasonable voters could find fault. I’ll let you know in November or December.

For now, I’m happy McAdam’s words propelled me to reconsider one of my positions. I remain apologetic if my words hurt him or any of his colleagues who actually work to do well. And I hope that I’ve convinced you that while I am angry, I am not only angry.

Come back on Friday for some more ballot anger. Sorry, Mr. McAdam.

Miller

Missing Hall of Famers for Each NL Team

On Wednesday, the HoME responded to the American League half of an article by MLB.com’s Will Leitch where he named the missing Hall of Famer on each team. For our money, he was right on nine of the fifteen calls. Today, we review his NL picks. Did he do better? Worse? Heck, did we do better or worse? Feel free to comment below.

Braves

Leitch’s call: Dale Murphy

HoME call: No, no, no, no, no, no, no. It’s so easily Andruw Jones. Murphy was a great player. Jones was greater. I would take Jones on my all-time defensive team. He’d be joined by Pudge Rodriguez, Keith Hernandez, Bill Mazeroski, Mark Belanger, Brooks Robinson, Rickey Henderson, and Roberto Clemente. What a boring list!

Marlins

Leitch’s call: Gary Sheffield

HoME call: I don’t think of Sheffield as a Marlin, or as a member of any team, really. Without Leitch’s influence, I think I’d have called him a Brewer. Of course, he hit more home runs for six other teams, so my association with him can’t be right. He played a tiny, tiny, tiny bit more for the Marlins than the Dodgers. I guess he’s a Marlin, and I guess he’s the right choice. Had we not gone with Sheffield, the answer probably would have been Jeff Conine. Sheffield feels right.

Mets

Leitch’s call: Dwight Gooden

HoME call: Eric recommended we go with Keith Hernandez even though he played more and had more value with the Cardinals. But by Leitch’s rules, it’s not the team with whom you played the most or with whom you had the most value, but the team with which the player is most associated. Yes, Hernandez started with and won an MVP in St. Louis. But to me, he’s a Met. Maybe it’s my Red Sox bias or my coming of age as a baseball fan when  Hernandez played in New York. Whatever the reason, that’s how I see him. And he was a better player than Gooden. When we talk about Hall of Fame injustices, by the way, I think we need to talk more about Hernandez. I rank him 17th at first base, ahead of Miguel Cabrera, Jim Thome, Dick Allen, Willie McCovey, Rafael Palmeiro, Joey Votto, Bill Terry, Eddie Murray, and Mark McGwire. By straight WAR, among those who played at least 50% of their career games at 1B, he’s 15th. While he is a defense-first candidate, he also had a pretty great bat. With the same BBREF filter, he’s 27th among 1B on offense. It’s strange that at glove-first positions like 2B and SS, voters sometimes choose to completely ignore hitting no matter how bad it was, as with Bill Mazeroski or Omar Vizquel. But at positions where a good bat is sometimes valued, amazing defenders like Hernandez, Andruw Jones, and Buddy Bell get no traction although they were excellent at the plate. Lesson 4,533,291: bias is weird.

Nationals

Leitch’s call: Livan Hernandez

HoME call: The Expos/Nationals have had some pretty special pitchers over the years. Pedro Martinez and Max Scherzer come to mind pretty quickly, but one isn’t a Nat/Expo and the other still is. Stephen Strasburg is still active, and though he’s not at all the pitcher we hoped, he’s pretty good. Dennis Martinez was a special too, and I’d take him over Livan. But this is an easy enough call for me. Steve Rogers is the best pitcher in Nat/Expo history by WAR, and he’s the most important Expo outside the Hall. No, he doesn’t belong, but he belongs way before Livan Hernandez. We remember the home run Rogers gave up to Rick Monday to send the Dodgers to the 1981 World Series, but we forget the rest of his playoff run that year – three starts, three wins, 26.2 innings, and two runs. Had the immortal Jerry White hit a two-run double in the bottom of the ninth rather than grounding out to second, Rogers would have had his fourth win in the playoffs, would have been on his way to the World Series, and possibly would have had fans for decades looking at his career a little differently. By the way, do you know why White was hitting in front of Warren Cromartie in that lineup? I don’t. Larry Parish, a righty, was hitting fifth. White, a switch hitter with a .218/.293/.353 triple slash, was hitting sixth. And Cromartie, who I know you’re expecting I’ll tell you was a righty, but was actually a lefty, was hitting seventh. Had Cromartie and his .304/.370/.419 line in 1981 been up in White’s place, perhaps wed see Steve Rogers differently.

Phillies

Leitch’s call: Curt Schilling

HoME call: It’s absolutely Schilling. I would more seriously consider Roy Halladay if I didn’t think he was getting into the Hall on his first try, though it’s possible Leitch wouldn’t have considered him eligible.

Brewers

Leitch’s call: Cecil Cooper

HoME call: I was surprised to read this. I love Cooper, don’t get me wrong. But surely it has to be someone else. Research, research, research, research, research. Nope. Maybe you prefer Teddy Higuera, but I think Leitch is right. It’s Coop. By the way, I wrote a post almost two years ago thinking about what would make Cecil Cooper a Hall of Famer. Given the blurb above about Rogers and the reminder of Cooper, I think I should put together a series, by position, about what certain favorites would have needed to turn their careers into that which would have gotten them into the HoME. Yeah, perhaps that’s coming to a blog near you.

Cardinals

Leitch’s call: Jim Edmonds

HoME call: Edmonds here and Hernandez in New York is better than Hernandez here and Gooden in New York. Plus, it’s playing by the rules, at least as my mind understands the right spot for Hernandez.

Cubs

Leitch’s call: Sammy Sosa

HoME call: I feel very comfortable saying it’s Rick Reuschel. If I could only take one of the two for the HoME, it would be Reuschel with ease – and I like Sosa. Yes, Sosa performed better in Chicago than Reuschel did, but the big righty was absolutely a Cub. And he was a better player than Sosa. This would have been a good place for Leitch to go out on a limb. Reuschel is known by his audience. At least I think he is. Might his audience skew too young for Reuschel? Might he only be able to go out on a limb for Cruz vs Cedeño because the two were contemporaries? Similar to Cicotte and Shoeless Joe? Ugh, I’m old! And Leitch is wrong. Search for “Reuschel” on this blog if you’re interested in more. He’s a fairly easy and completely ignored call for the Hall.

Pirates

Leitch’s call: Dave Parker

HoME call: Without a doubt, it’s Tommy Leach. I don’t think the brilliant defensive third baseman and center fielder is familiar enough to Leitch’s audience, so he couldn’t go in that direction. The audience around here is a lot brighter, and we wouldn’t care anyway. We’d always go with the better player. I think Leach is the only player in the game’s history who might be called elite at two positions. Michael Humphreys, author of Wizardry and creator of Defensive Regression Analysis, calls Leach the ninth best defensive third baseman ever, and he calls him the sixth best defensive center fielder of the deadball era. What’s more, it seems the Pirates made the move from 3B to CF for Leach, not to accommodate another player. A 1905 collision at home plate, Humphreys tells us, broke a couple of ribs and made throwing more difficult. Sure, Leach is one of those guys whose record you need to dig into to appreciate. So dig! In a manner of speaking, he could be called the greatest defensive player in the game’s history.

Reds

Leitch’s call: Pete Rose

HoME call: Leitch is right. Our position on Rose and the HoME is an unusual one. Charlie Hustle is a member, but neither of us would vote for him if we had a Hall vote. Rose’s actions as a manager could have done irreparable harm to the game. That’s enough for us. The reason Eddie Cicotte is outside the HoME but Shoeless Joe Jackson has a plaque is that the former worked to make his team lose, while the latter, in our minds, did not. These calls are tough. Reasonable people can come to different conclusions.

Diamondbacks

Leitch’s call: Luis Gonzalez

HoME call: I want to go with Brandon Webb. He had more WAR for the D’backs. He was only good, great, or hurt too, so there’s some merit behind such a pick. However, he didn’t pay the requisite ten years in the majors, so I’ll be boring and agree with Leitch. Regarding Luis Gonzalez and players of his ilk, I wonder why we never hear PED speculation. He played with PED guy Ken Caminiti during the early part of his career without a great deal of power. Then he played with Sammy Sosa in 1995 and 1996. Then he began to hit home runs in Detroit in 1998 before beginning to go crazy when he reached his age-31 season and played with Matt Williams in Arizona. I suppose the speculation only exists for those above Gonzalez’ level. I guess that’s a good thing, and I shouldn’t add to the speculation.

Dodgers

Leitch’s call: Fernando Valenzuela

HoME call: Kevin Brown belongs in the Hall of Fame, and I mentioned in the AL version of this post that he’s not a Ranger. He signed a famously huge contract with the Dodgers. He had his most WAR with the Dodgers. And he’s better than Valenzuela. Brown is the correct call here. For 12 years, from 1992-2003, Brown trails only Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, and Curt Schilling in pitching WAR. The four immediately behind him are Tom Glavine, Kevin Appier, David Cone, and Chuck Finley. All eleven are in the HoME. If we make it six years rather than 12, just focusing on 1995-2000, It’s Pedro, Maddux, Brown, Johnson, Clemens, Mussina, and Glavine. It is common for someone not elite to move to the top of the elite for a six-year period? Well, another period where the moundsmen were near the level of those who played with Brown occurred from about 1970 through the mid-1980s.  Let’s check out each six-year run over that time.

1965-1970: Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, Sam McDowell, Gaylord Perry, Fergie Jenkins, Jim Bunning

1966-1971: Bob Gibson, Fergie Jenkins, Tom Seaver, Gaylord Perry, Sam McDowell, Juan Marichal

1967-1972: Bob Gibson, Fergie Jenkins, Tom Seaver, Gaylord Perry, Wilbur Wood, Steve Carlton

1968-1973: Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Wilbur Wood, Gaylord Perry, Fergie Jenkins, Steve Carlton

1969-1974: Tom Seaver, Gaylord Perry, Fergie Jenkins, Wilbur Wood, Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton

1970-1975: Tom Seaver, Gaylord Perry, Wilbur Wood, Fergie Jenkins, Bert Blyleven, Mickey Lolich

1971-1976: Tom Seaver, Bert Blyleven, Gaylord Perry, Wilbur Wood, Phil Niekro, Fergie Jenkins

1972-1977: Tom Seaver, Gaylord Perry, Bert Blyleven, Phil Niekro, Jim Palmer, Nolan Ryan

1973-1978: Phil Niekro, Tom Seaver, Bert Blyleven, Jim Palmer, Gaylord Perry, Rick Reuschel

1974-1979: Phil Niekro, Tom Seaver, Bert Blyleven, Jim Palmer, Rick Reuschel, Frank Tanana

1975-1980: Phil Niekro, Rick Reuschel, Jim Palmer, Tom Seaver, Dennis Eckersley, Frank Tanana

1976-1981: Phil Niekro, Rick Reuschel, Steve Carlton, Bert Blyleven, Tom Seaver, Ron Guidry

Okay, so this little experiment didn’t really prove my point, as if it ever might have. There’s an interloper in every group, though I believe the Reuschel interruption isn’t an interruption at all. Anyway, it seems there should be a better way to argue for Brown’s Hall inclusion, like that he’s 33rd in history in WAR among pitchers.

Giants

Leitch’s call: Barry Bonds.

HoME call: Yeah, it’s Barry Bonds. I call him a Giant rather than a Pirate.

Padres

Leitch’s call: Andy Ashby

HoME call: Gene Tenace belongs to the Athletics. Though he played for the Padres more, I most associate Brian Giles with the Pirates. I very much want to say Trevor Hoffman here. Alas… I think Leitch must be right. Very sad. Andy Ashby? His best run was from 1994-1999. Coincidentally, that’s the same six-year period we considered above. Ashby was the game’s 16th best pitcher during those years.

Rockies

Leitch’s call: Larry Walker

HoME call: I want to twist an argument to put Todd Helton here, but I can’t. It’s Larry Walker.

So that’s another 9 out of 15 for Leitch. Hey, 60% is passing. And it’s not like a mainstream writer can take positions too far outside the mainstream. Good work by Leitch.

Miller

Reviewing the BBWAA Ballots, #82-118

As we get moving after another big week of ballots, I have some bad news I want to (re)share. Omar Vizquel is going to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the writers – not this year – but it’s going to happen. I get it. He was a nice guy who might have played in a city whose home team you covered. He is also a guy who was miserable offensively. He’s tied in career OPS+ with Brandon Inge, Mark McLemore, Chris Gomez, and Tito Fuentes. Yet, he’s picking up votes as writers review his case more. Momentum is a strange, and sometimes awful, thing.

Check out the earlier reviews in this series. [1-12], [13-20], [21-38], [39-81]

A Few Notes

  • Mariano remains perfect. Joe Posnanski wrote a brilliant piece on unanimity recently. If you have a subscription to The Athletic (which I don’t), you should check it out.
  • It remains nearly certain Halladay and Edgar will make it five on the podium this summer.
  • But Mike Mussina’s case isn’t looking as rosy as it did a week or two ago. He’s stopped converting “no” votes at the rate he needs. Though he stands at 83.1% right now, he’s converted only 22.4% of the necessary votes through 28.6% of the ballots collected.
  • Just one person has voted for Roy Oswalt, making me think he’s going to fall off the ballot. That stinks. The good news is that it makes me think of my strategic ballot.
    • Mariano Rivera: I won’t be the one, not even in theory.
    • Edgar Martinez: Not taking any chances.
    • Mike Mussina: Since putting him over the top is possible, he makes my strategic ballot.
    • Curt Schilling: Not exactly Bonds and Clemens, but I can’t take Mussina without him.
    • Larry Walker: He needs the momentum.
    • Scott Rolen: Writers keep telling me defense matters when they vote for Omar.
    • Andruw Jones: See above.
    • Todd Helton: Spend some time converting his “Coors inflated” numbers and comparing him to all-time greats.
    • Roy Oswalt: He deserves another look, something Andy Pettitte will receive without my strategic vote. Also, Roy Halladay will get in with or without my vote.
    • Oh crap!: With only ons spot remaining, I have both Bonds and Clemens sitting out there. These writers have a hard job. I don’t even know what I’d do with my fake strategic ballot. It’s possible I’d just axe Oswalt. This ain’t easy.

Ballot of the Week

Carlos Frias may not know this, but he’s my new best friend. His ballot includes Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay, Todd Helton, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Manny Ramirez, Mariano Rivera, Curt Schilling, and Sammy Sosa. Sure, I’d have taken Andruw Jones and Larry Walker over Manny and Sosa. But his ten names are worth 100 points. Plus, he was both fair and snarky, when appropriate, in his explanations when he took the time to interact with the caring public on Twitter. And there’s something even better. In the last twelve months, he added Mike Mussina’s name and dropped Omar Vizquel’s. So what if he says he’s going to support Vizquel in the future! This award if for one week in the 2019 voting only, and Frias gets my vote.

Congratulations on Your First Ballot Award

Christina Kahrl voted for Bonds, Clemens, Halladay, Edgar, Moose, Mo, Rolen, Sheffield, Sosa, and Walker. For her inaugural ballot, Kahrl earned 100 points. Given her opinion that writers should be able to vote for more than ten candidates, it would have been 105 points if I allowed scores to go that high. She explained a decent amount on Twitter, and she answered some questions as well. What she didn’t do, at least not that I saw, was discuss Curt Schilling. As you may know, Kahrl is a transgender woman. I’m guessing – but I don’t know at all – that Schilling’s “personality” kept her from checking his name. I’d like to have heard her thought process. Great work, Christina!

One-Liners

They do a very good job over at The Athletic. I should subscribe. Luckily a friend was kind enough to send me the thoughts of their writers, so I can share with you some of their logic and “logic”. Also, I’m going to add a few lines from other ballots this week that I think are noteworthy.

  • John Canzano (55) wrote the following: “He also won seven Gold Gloves.” 
  • Joe Haakenson (35) almost understands the early days of what’s known as the PED Era. He writes, “It wasn’t in the CBA but it WAS illegal. In 1991, commissioner Fay Vincent issued a memo to MLB clubs saying the use of illegal drugs — including steroids — was illegal and subject to discipline, including expulsion from the game.” While that happened, Vincent’s memo was no more valuable than the words I write as they pertain to the laws and rules of Major League Baseball. Haakenson should know that since he knows there was a collective bargaining agreement. Or maybe he thinks the CBA is that think Isiah Thomas bankrupted?
  • Andrew Baggarly (0) wrote something with which I disagree totally but cannot fight at all. “Until someone can calculate Joy Created Over Replacement Player, I’ll continue to study and use all means at my disposal when I fill out my ballot. And I’ll continue to believe that Omar Vizquel is a slam-dunk Hall of Famer.” He’s admitting using a standard that’s different from the one where the Hall has the best baseball players in it. I don’t like that standard, but I understand and even respect it.
  • Over at The Athletic, the very next person to write about his ballot was Dan Barbarisi (65). Regarding Andruw Jones, he wrote, “His 24.5 defensive bWAR is 21st all-time among all defenders.” These numbers aren’t hard to find, people. (I admit that they’re somewhat difficult to understand though).
  • My favorite comment of the week came from Dan Connolly (55). Regarding McGriff, “…it’s dangerous to assume we know without a doubt who did and didn’t take performance-enhancing drugs.” Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
  • But there are people who use less sound logic. David O’Brien (55) writes, “”He’s inexplicably never been named on even as many as 25 percent of ballots.” That’s inexplicable? How??? MAPES+ sees him as the 39th best 1B ever. CHEWS+ puts him at 41st. Okay, okay, maybe you’re not accessing those numbers, but JAWS is easy enough to find and understand. Jaffe has him at 31st. If we put the top-31 at every position into the Hall, we’d expand its size even if we kicked out all pitchers.
  • I swear that O’Brien was just trolling his readers. He went on to say, “…and he played both sides of the ball. He didn’t sit in the dugout eating sunflower seeds and studying the opposing pitcher while his team was playing defense; he was in the field focusing on run prevention.” Is O’Brien an idiot? McGriff’s Rfield was -34. His DRA is -79. Listen, David, what those numbers mean, since they’re in the negatives, is that McGriff hurt his teams with his “focus” on run prevention.
  • Regarding PED guys, Jorge Rojas (90) wrote, “Regarding PED guys, “Baseball has kept the stats and passed the buck, so now it must deal with my (italics added by me) character flaws.” You might look at this comment as passing the buck. I think he’s owning the fact that he’s imperfect and would appreciate some guidance.
  • Eric sometimes says he doesn’t want to continue to penalize PED guys after they served their sentences. Such a liberal stance, right? Well, Eric isn’t alone. C. Trent Rosecrans (100), wrote, “Manny Ramirez, twice suspended for PEDs, has also served his sentence.” I’ll let that just sit there.
  • Peter Barzilai (80) wrote about Manny, “He tested positive — twice. Bonds and Clemens didn’t. Don’t believe it’s up to voters to determine who was and was not using.” First, this comment was in response to some fool asking how you can vote for Bonds and Clemens but not Manny. Well, um, Bonds and Clemens were way the bleep better at baseball. Second, YES to his second sentence.
  • And the worst comment of the week (at least in this category) comes from David Borges. “Plus, wins aren’t important, as the sabermetric geeks ruining baseball will tell you.” Why must you disparage those who understand information (which is all advanced stats are) as “geeks”? That question is rhetorical. I think we know why. But why in the world do you think information is ruining baseball? Do you know how insane that sounds, especially for someone whose job it is to understand that information and write about it.

Jerk of the Week

[So I’ve read and rewritten what’s below a few times. Daugherty makes me so angry that my writing is made worse (and, frankly, sometimes it doesn’t have too far to go). Don’t write angrily, boys and girls.]

Paul Daugherty is a jerk of the highest order. In the middle of what seems to be a column about football and music, he graced us with 352 words about his Hall of Fame ballot, a ballot that includes only Mariano Rivera and Roy Halladay.

  • He says that his ballot “will provoke various reactions from the know-it-all stats brigade, none of them pleasant. Yeah? So??” No Paul, just because people know considerably more than you do doesn’t make them know-it-alls. I’ve seen many disagreements that I find entirely pleasant. Maybe the reason you don’t is because you’re an awful combination of arrogant, dismissive, and uninformed.
  • He writes (the bold is his) “But here’s the thing: Who feared Mike Mussina? What team of hitters went into a big September series saying, ‘Man, I’m glad we miss Mussina?’” I wish I could cite it, but I read an explanation in the last week or so where a writer said exactly that. Such is the problem with using your perception of the “fear” others hold as a barometer of greatness. First, you have no clue who feared Mussina and who didn’t. Second, their fear should have no influence on your perception of the player. Rather, you should review his record. But if you actually reviewed someone’s record, that might make you part of “the know-it-all stats brigade”. Ah, I see your conundrum.
  • He writes, “There are numbers that suggest in some ways, Mussina was better than Bob Gibson. Which shows how easily maneuvered numbers can be.” What numbers are those? Can you find anyone, anywhere who’s credible who suggests Mussina was better than Gibson? No, you can’t. Yet, you write this garbage anyway, as if to excuse your too common combination of arrogance and ignorance.
  • He writes, “To be a HOFer as a pitcher, you better have been the sheriff at high noon. ” Again, the bold is his. As is the unintelligible sentence. As the kids say, WTF!
  • He writes if Mussina, “…makes it, he’ll go in with the 2nd-highest ERA of any pitcher in the Hall.” Well, that’s both false and stupid. It’s false in that Red Ruffing and Jack Morris had worse ERAs. It’s stupid in that ERAs fluctuate. There needs to be a different standard for pitchers from the Dead Ball Era and those from the PED Era. Someone who’s lazy, like I imagine Daugherty is, could just look at ERA+ for a very basic barometer. And you know what? Mussina would be in the upper half. Someone who is lazy, arrogant, thoughtless, and stupid-by-choice wouldn’t even look toward ERA+. Oh Paul, which did you choose?
  • He writes, “Folks like to cite that Mussina worked his whole career in the big-bat AL East. OK. He also worked for two teams (Orioles, Yankees) that were mostly successful. Did they not help him compile those numbers?” What numbers? His wins? What does he even mean?
  • It seems he voted for Halladay because of his complete games. Seriously. Here’s everything he wrote on the topic.

 Halladay was Mussina with fewer years. Halladay won two Cys and threw a no-hitter in October. Remember? Halladay was a horse. Between 2006 and 2011, he never pitched fewer than 220 innings a year. He led the league in complete games seven times, five of them in a row.

What’s a complete game, Doc?

Exactly.

He had eight in 2011. Since then, no pitcher has had more than six. In this era of “openers’’ and 5-inning aces, that’s big stuff.

I’m nobody’s idea of a genius writer, but at least the stuff I write is largely in English. What is this crap? Also, if Halladay is Mussina with fewer years, and he votes for Halladay, doesn’t he kinda have to vote for Mussina?

By the way, here are the best twelve seasons for Halladay and Mussina in IP and CG. Not so different, right? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not arguing against Halladay at all; I’m just trying to point out that his imaginary separation of the two is largely, well, imaginary.

Mussina        Halladay
243.1    8     266.0    9
241.0    7     250.2    9
237.2    6     246.0    9
228.2    4     239.1    9
224.2    4     239.0    8
221.2    4     233.2    7
215.2    4     225.1    5
214.2    4     220.0    4
206.1    3     156.1    2
203.1    3     149.1    1
200.1    2     133.0    1
197.1    2     105.1    1

 

  • And here’s the last paragraph of his Hall coverage. “I also didn’t vote for Edgar Martinez. Longtime DHs don’t get my vote.” Yeah Paul, thanks for the thorough examination of the candidates.

For each of ten instances of arrogance, jerkiness, or stupidity, Dougherty was docked five points, and he finished with a worst-to-date -110. A year ago, there were only four public writers with worse ballots. None of them have checked in yet. Should be interesting to see if there’s a ballot/explanation combination worse than Daugherty’s on the horizon.

Worst Ballot of the Week

Dejan Kovacevic voted for only five players: Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera, and Curt Schilling. To be honest, he and Daugherty could pretty easily switch awards this week. His final score, -60, speaks to his shameful article of explanation. I’ll share the short version, just three of the lowlights, here. First, he considers some who never failed a PED test to be cheaters. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I know of no testimony that Bonds used PEDs after their 2006 ban from MLB. Second, he doesn’t want Mariano to go in unanimously because, according to him, we’d have to come to grips with the likes of Willie Mays receiving lesser recognition. And finally, he is angry that some think particular writers should be stripped of their ballots. Well, of course he is. I’m sure he’s the target of such opinions. His anger seems to stem from the idea that we live in a democracy and that. “A voting process that pressures or excludes in any way isn’t democratic.” Um, Dejan, allowing only 400ish people to vote, no matter how little those people know about baseball, isn’t at all democratic. You shouldn’t be stripped of your ballot, but of your dignity. And look at that – already done.

More next week, friends!

Miller

 

Reviewing the BBWAA Ballots, #39-81

Things really got going at the Tracker this week with more ballots than the first three weeks combined. Before we get started with this week’s awards, I want to touch on the Fred McGriff 10th year momentum. Prior to this year, he had never reached 24% of the total vote. And he’s a guy who always does better among private ballots. However, he’s currently north of 36% of the vote and has converted 15 “no” votes from a year ago.

Even though I understand what’s happening, I’m still going to say that I don’t get it. We’ve learned nothing about McGriff in the last 12 months that we haven’t known for the last 14 years. He’s a fine player, about at the level of Tony Perez or Orlando Cepeda. While that might excite some, those two likely don’t belong in the Hall. He’s also like Norm Cash and Carlos Delgado, and they don’t belong in the Hall either. Voters don’t always do a great job on first basemen, but they had been getting McGriff right. And they still will. It’s just disappointing that so many voters are futilely supporting him when they could give a vote to a more deserving player. Maybe a marginally better first baseman like Lance Berkman?

Or like Todd Helton. I’ll be brief. If you were to take away the 2000 and 2004 seasons, Helton’s two best, I’d still take Helton over McGriff.

[1-12], [13-20], [21-38]

A Few Notes

  • Mariano Rivera remains perfect. Who’s going to be the first knucklehead to leave him off?
  • Over 90%, Roy Halladay and Edgar Martinez are getting in.
  • Over 84%, Mike Mussina may not go this year, but I think he’s setting himself up to get in next year. And he’s assuredly going to be voted in by the writers before his time on the ballot expires.
  • Mussina’s movement toward the Hall bodes very well for Curt Schilling. He’s over 75% right now, though he’s going fall below in 2019. He deserves induction, and Mussina’s election this year or next suggests to me that Schilling will make it in his 9th or 10th.
  • Don’t be fooled by Bonds and Clemens being above 70% now. They’ve only picked up one voter each.
  • Larry Walker has converted 13 votes, and he’s over 66% right now. Next year will be his last on the ballot, so he’d better receive a McGriff-like courtesy bump if he’s to get what he deserves.
  • It’s not looking good for either Roy Oswalt or Lance Berkman to see a second ballot. That’s disappointing.

Ballot of the Week

Pat Caputo earned 100 points for his ballot, but it’s Sam Mellinger who wins this week’s award. Mellinger checked Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Manny Ramirez, Mariano Rivera, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, and Larry Walker. I prefer Todd Helton to Manny, but Manny’s record speaks for itself. If you ignore PEDs, he’s obviously deserving. The reason Mellinger wins Ballot of the Week, however, is his interaction on Twitter. Responding as he did probably took 10-20 minutes, and it’s a real service to fans who want to pick his brain. Thanks, Sam!

Jerk of the Week

Terrence Moore doesn’t write his own headlines, I don’t imagine. Almost no writers do, but the headline in his Forbes article makes me think he did: Forget Bonds, Clemens, Others: No McGriff In Cooperstown Is Crazy. Moore hates steroids. I think. Four times in a column of only 631 words, he mentions the word. He also mentions “juicing” and “jacking all of those balls toward the far side of Mars”.

He also writes “McGriff” 13 times, “Fred” once, “Frederick Stanley” once, and “Crime Dog” once. He also refers to McGriff as the “Mister Rogers of baseball players”.

He mentions that he’s been a Hall voter for 26 years. He also mentions that there are typically 300-400 votes cast. Actually, that hasn’t been true even once in the entire time Moore has been voting. You have to go back to 1985 to find a time when fewer than 400 votes were cast.

He says that McGriff’s numbers compare favorably to Willie McCovey, Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas, and Billy Williams. Except, that’s idiotic. McGriff finished his career with an impressive 52.6 WAR. Williams was at 63.7. Thomas clocked in at 73.9. And Bagwell totaled 79.9. Maybe he just left out the prefix “un” before favorably?

Since he’s not, in his words, “big on designated hitters”, Edgar didn’t receive his vote.

Moore only voted for Roy Halladay, Todd Helton, Fred McGriff, Mariano Rivera, and Gary Sheffield. Gary Sheffield? Moore talks about how Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa tainted the sport. But Sheffield didn’t??? A steroidal cream was once applied to his knee, and he was named in the Mitchell Report. What is Moore thinking? Or not thinking?

Also, he calls Todd Helton a no-brainer. And I suppose if you’re so certain Fred McGriff belongs in the Hall, a clearly better like Helton is a no-brainer. Even jerks can get some things right.

Jerk of the Week #2

David Lennon voted for only Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Mariano Rivera. If he were allowed only three votes, I think he got it right. Of course, he’s allowed ten. And he knows he’s allowed to vote for more than three, as he dropped Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, and Curt Schilling from his 2018 ballot. He has some somewhat convoluted logic attached to the election of Harold Baines and improved statistical analysis.

“But as the years went on, everyone became much more adept at statistical analysis. Careers were dissected like never before, and it seemed as if a credible Hall case could be made for a growing list of players — especially if they were compared to those already enshrined.”

The first of Lennon’s sentences is completely true. The second, while connected to the first in Lennon’s line of thinking, contains three different clauses that don’t fit together in a reasonable sentence.

  • Careers were dissected like never before. Yes indeed, and that’s a great thing.
  • It seemed as if a credible Hall case could be made for a growing list of players: It did? Why? Better statistical analysis has helped us see who was great; it hasn’t increased the number of players who should be called great.
  • Especially if they were compared to those already enshrined. Why do that? What awful voter would compare candidates to the very worst who have been elected?

I think he is sort of whining about people other than the writers electing players, but I’m not sure. He’s clearly justifying an awful ballot with logic that’s just not, well, logical.

(This section was edited after a reader made me aware of Lennon’s article where he explained his vote).

Moron of the Week

Yep, someone dumber than Terrence Moore.

Jim Reeves is sort of a moron and sort of a jerk, not a great combination. He voted for Mariano Rivera, Edgar Martinez, Larry Walker, Fred McGriff, Mike Mussina, and Roy Halladay.

To show how much he appreciates the ballot, he writes, ‘“Oh, gawd, don’t make me do it! Not again! Why this torture, year after year? What did I do to deserve this agony? Why me, Lord? Why me?”’

Quick hits:

  • He says he’s not really sure about Michael Young.
  • He brags a bit that he’s seen the best closers ever pitch. Of course, he didn’t mention Rich Gossage or Hoyt Wilhelm. And pretty much everyone who’s at least in their late-20s has seen all of the guys he mentions. Big accomplishment, Jim.
  • He says he always has to check his “own personal resolve on the steroid cheaters.” Like most moralizers, however, he doesn’t explain what constituted cheating. Why would he when he can just moralize?
  • He says that, “…it comes down to respecting the Hall too much to put them in there with those who tried to play the game the right way.” Respecting the Hall? Have you read your own column, specifically the place where you point out that you dread voting?
  • The moralizing continues. “And yes, I know there are others already there who trampled all over the morals clause in their own special ways. But I didn’t put them there. So, no, as good as their numbers are, no Bonds, no Clemens, no Sosa. Not on my ballot.”
  • As a journalist, he should be smart, at least regarding the English language. He’s not. He says that Edgar Martinez “literally owned” Mariano Rivera. Sorry, Jim, slavery ended in the United States over 150 years ago.
  • Regarding Larry Walker, he says, “…don’t give me the Coors Field effect. I don’t care.” Well, Jimmy, you should. Then you should check out how Baseball Reference, which you say is where you start your research, adjusts for park effects.
  • For Walker, he cites WAR, and he should. But he’s one of those guys who cites it when it’s convenient and ignores it when it’s not. Fred McGriff gets his very next vote. No mention of WAR there.
  • Regarding McGriff, he compares him favorably to Eddie Mathews, Mike Schmidt, and Babe Ruth. That’s because McGriff had ten seasons of 30+ home runs. Eddie Mathews and Mike Schmidt had only nine, and Babe Ruth only eight, idiot Reeves writes. However, Mathews (whose name Reeves can’t spell) had 10, Mike Schmidt had 13. Ruth had 13 too, including 11 of 41+. Reeves is just making crap up!
  • Regarding Mussina, he talks about how career wins shouldn’t be a critical standard. Two paragraphs later, he mentions Mussina’s 11 years winning 15+. (And he got that complicated stat right. Hooray!).
  • Like all writers who try to craft an argument with utterly meaningless stats, he mentions that Mussina finished in the top-6 in the Cy Young voting nine times. That’s asinine. But at least it’s accurate.
  • Regarding the Halladay decision, it’s “a tough one because Halladay only won 206 games.” Do wins matter, or don’t they?
  • He calls Halladay “a throwback to an earlier era, when starters actually finished what they started.” Except he wasn’t. From 1970-1989 there were 67 pitchers who completed more games than Halladay. There were thirteen with more than twice as many. Is being factually correct even remotely important to Reeves?
  • His last two lines confirm that he’s an a-hole of the highest order – one who needs a better editor too. “Who knows, maybe I even have a change of heart on the cheaters. But I wouldn’t count on it.” Ah, when every line is a throw-away line…

Worst Ballot of the Week

Jimmy Golen was nice enough to send a direct message to Ryan so his ballot would be represented in the Tracker. Another positive is that he voted for Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, and Edgar Martinez.  third positive is that he dropped Omar Vizquel from last year’s ballot. All good, right? Not so fast. Golen left seven spots open, and he earned -45 points for his ballot.

Hope to see you here in a week for more ballot anger.

Miller

Institutional History

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