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.
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.
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.
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…
Not much to see here, but look who’s at the top once again.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once again, we see PEDs as a voting issue.
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.
See my comments for Sheffield, Sosa, and others.
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.
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!
Congratulations to Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, and Mariano Rivera, the four newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. And congratulations to the writers got it right just in time on Edgar, eventually got it right on Mussina, got it right right away on Halladay, and got it perfectly right on Mariano.
It’s almost time for us to get it right at the Hall of Miller and Eric. Our election, which by rule will include six new inductees (one for each of the BBWAA guys, plus one for both Lee Smith and Harold Baines), takes place one week from today. Today, we want to give you some insight as to how we went about making our decisions.
Though process posts like this may not delight you like some others, they’re important in terms of transparency, to let you know that there is a process and basically what it is.
Our process began months ago (really, about a year ago) as we tried to surmise what the VC and then the BBWAA would do. We were pretty confident in the elections of Lee Smith, Mariano Rivera, and Edgar Martinez. If we were only going to need three names, there wouldn’t have been a lot of work to do, as three ballot newcomers have easy enough cases, at least for us.
Then Harold Baines happened. I write this not in the apocalyptic way I have in the past, rather that we would have to dig into our backlog. Not long after Baines was elected, it became clear that Roy Halladay would make five. And Mike Mussina, as it turned out, made six (and ultimately made our process easier).
I think Eric might find correct answers in this process easier to come by than I do. I need to cast a wide net, making sure I have the right answers in there somewhere, and then I need to narrow. Since our rules require us to build consensus pretty quickly, Eric caters to my need to look at a ton of players at the very start.
Thus, we undertook our annual campaign of cleaning up our spreadsheets and rechecking where we stand by position and chronology, as we have agreed that we want relative balance over time and by position. Next, with the idea in mind that we need to elect two or three players, Eric got to work. He put together a spreadsheet containing all players with at least 90 CHEWS+ or MAPES+. That number, basically, is our shorthand for the percentage of a HoME-level career they had. Narrowing to those who are at least 90% of the way there seemed wise. Coincidentally enough, there were exactly 90 players on the list.
Since I want to cast a broad net but not an insane one, our next step was easy enough. We eliminated anyone who wasn’t on both of our lists 90% lists. After all, we might as well dump everyone who’s simply not going to receive a vote from one of us. Getting this step out of the way early makes consensus-building easier. And there was a pretty large drop right away, moving to only 48 players, a much more manageable number.
Babe Adams Johnny Evers Mark Langston Kip Selbach Albert Belle Dwight Gooden Chet Lemon Cy Seymour Charlie Buffinton George Gore Ernie Lombardi Willie Stargell Brett Butler Mike Griffin Jim McCormick Jim Sundberg Cesar Cedeno Burleigh Grimes Joe Medwick Frank Tanana Ron Cey Heinie Groh Roy Oswalt Miguel Tejada Cupid Childs Vlad Guerrero Andy Pettitte Gene Tenace Wilbur Cooper Noodles Hahn Jorge Posada Dizzy Trout Dizzy Dean Hughie Jennings Kirby Puckett George Uhle Larry Doby Charlie Keller Hardy Richardson Bernie Williams Hugh Duffy Joe Kelley Eddie Rommell Ned Williamson Fred Dunlap Ralph Kiner Nap Rucker Willie Wilson
To help us sort through the remaining players, Eric developed a formula to try to measure how we felt about guys relative to others at their positions, relative to those already inducted chronologically, and relative to those already inducted by position. While this formula was neat, what I think helped us more than the quantitative was the qualitative Eric built into the spreadsheet. He added categories for our likes and dislikes as well as potentially missing runs. With that last category, we wanted to remind ourselves about times when our numbers may not mean what we think they mean.
And they don’t always. A couple of early cuts from this process were our top rated third baseman and my most highly rated catcher. We dumped Ned Williamson because we don’t trust that WAR has picked up the Lake Front Park effect. And Ernie Lombardi had to go since BBREF’s Rbaser number for him (+5) is one of the least believable numbers on the whole site. There’s almost no shot that one of the game’s slowest players ever added value on the bases.
We’re looking for only three guys from our backlog, and we weren’t going to have three second basemen, or three center fielders, or three pitchers. So where we agreed that there were superior players at a particular position, we could narrow a bit more. In this round of cuts, we lost the likes of Mike Griffin, Hardy Richardson, Noodles Hahn, and others.
You know, sometimes what I think is a good idea for a post doesn’t materialize into a good post. That’s where I find myself now. I could tell you a few more players we cut, sure. However, I don’t think you’d find the limited explanation regarding those cuts fun, and it could spoil the reveal coming next Friday, which I really don’t want. [Editor’s note: If this were our vocations rather than our avocations, we’d have trashed this post and replaced it with something else. Alas, there are mortgages to pay.]
So we’re calling it quits here, my friends. You know that one week from today we’ll be electing three of 43 guys above. And we will certainly share our thinking as to why we chose those players. Maybe more importantly to some, we’ll also reveal in a week (and in some later posts) why we didn’t choose others.
For now, there’s a week to wait.
Trying to understand what wacky thoughts bounce between the ears of a BBWAA Hall of Fame voter can make a person a little nutty. Trust us, we’ve gotten nuttier and nuttier since we hung our electronic shingle in 2013. Nonetheless we have come to understand a few things about this motley mess of baseball messengers.
Those three go a long way to understand the Hall electorate, and this year’s vote was no exception.
ERIC: We figured Mariano Rivera might set a new record for the highest percentage of the vote BBWAA vote. Individually, I thought he had little chance at hitting the unanimity jackpot what with the cranky retirees and the blank-balloteers out there. Does it mean anything that a relief pitcher did this well?
MILLER: The most exciting thing for me is that it means Derek Jeter won’t be the first player elected to the Hall unanimously. But more seriously, it doesn’t mean much. There are so few players across the game’s history who are universally considered the best at anything. In fact, a higher percentage of people call Mariano the game’s best reliever ever than call Ruth or the Big Train the best hitter or pitcher ever. The reason I seriously considered unanimity a possibility is because EVERY SINGLE WRITER believes Rivera is the single best guy doing what he did. Do you think that matters?
ERIC: Their agreement about his being the best at what he did matters in as much as it means they pass a very low-level test of baseball understanding. But it feels, nonetheless, like a tall-dwarf situation. Rivera is way off to the right side of the curve and he is about as good as a reliever could possibly be over a lengthy career. Which means a reliever must be ridiculously good for ridiculously long to have a shot. That said, Rivera is the perfect combination of SAVES! and NARRATIVE! I still don’t personally rank him above Roy Halladay whose bittersweet election was well deserved.
MILLER: The question of Halladay versus Rivera is an interesting one. If we could only elect one, I would give my vote to Rivera, not because I rank him above Halladay, but because they’re close enough, and one is the absolute best in the game’s history at what he did. I can’t imagine anyone reaching his level. We’re splitting hairs here though. They’re both going to be HoMErs as soon as our election takes place.
Halladay belongs in the Hall, there’s no doubt. I suspect his death garnered him a bunch of votes, perhaps getting him into the Hall before he’d have gotten in otherwise. Whatever the reason, I’m happy when justice is served.
And I’m delighted for fans of the Seattle Mariners and of the DH. It’s possible that Edgar’s champions, like myself, overrate the great righty. For ten years, we’ve been backing his candidacy, so the emotion invested might cloud our judgment. Like the ranking of Halladay versus Rivera, it doesn’t matter though. He belongs.
ERIC: I tend to think in the case of relievers that we still don’t quite have enough information baked into our decision making. For example, I recently posted elsewhere that in his entire career, the three spots in the batting order that Mariano faced the most were 8, 7, and 6, and they hit for a .501 OPS against him. The least were 3, 2, and 4, who hit .657 against him. That’s the same OPS difference as Lance Berkman and Jeffrey Hammonds’ careers. But that information hasn’t made its way into the evaluation of relief pitchers yet, and it’s important information because relievers are used electively. So it seems likely to me that the gap between Halladay and Rivera is more likely wider than how I perceive them now by using the uberstats. But as you point, out, them’s nits I’m picking.
Of course, it would be hard for the two of us to agree more on the justice done by the election of Edgar Martinez. Not much to say other than I’m looking forward to seeing whether Martinez’s election, in turn, improves David Ortiz’s chances when Papi’s turn comes up. While Molitor and Thomas are technically DHes [editor’s note: And Harold Baines—bwah ha ha ha…oh that’s so rich!], Edgar is the first Hall of Famer elected by the BBWAA whom we can truly refer to as a career DH without couching our language in by plurality or but his best years were at first base. Martinez’s election can only help Big Papi and his ultra-narrative candidacy.
MILLER: Regarding Mariano, I love your stat! Share more, please! Write a post! While you may be right that Rivera is a bit less good than we perceive, let me quibble with a premise leading you to that conclusion. First, a .657 OPS is equal to the career mark of Zoilo Versalles, Kitty Bransfeld, and George Browne. They’re the top three guys in terms of plate appearances with that exact OPS. Yuck! Less good? Perhaps. But still amazing.
And to be fair, you’re right that relief pitchers are used electively, but more accurately, they’re used formulaically, at least in the regular season. Up three, two, or one, they pitch the ninth. Essentially, that’s their only job. It’s not like Mariano was held back in the same way Whitey Ford was under Stengel. Mariano was neither protected nor saved. He was used in the ninth. Nothing more or less (until the playoffs).
Still, to the point you’re making, he faced the 6-8 hitters about 300 more times than the 2-4 hitters during his relief career. To break things down a little more, I looked at the career of Mike Mussina, a contemporary guy in the same division who had only one career relief appearance. He faced the 2-4 batters 35.5% of the time and the 6-8 hitters 31.1% of the time. With the same percentages for Rivera, that means he’s missing 253 plate appearances for 2-4 and has 267 extra for 6-8 in his career. That certainly feels like a big deal. And you’ve convinced me, Mariano Rivera is a shade overrated.
Mussina Mariano Batting 1st 12.8% 10.6% Batting 2nd 12.3% 10.1% Batting 3rd 11.8% 9.9% Batting 4th 11.4% 10.5% Batting 5th 11.0% 11.4% Batting 6th 10.7% 12.0% Batting 7th 10.3% 12.1% Batting 8th 10.0% 12.2% Batting 9th 9.6% 11.2%
Finally, when we talk about Ortiz, I actually think Edgar has been helped by him rather than the other way around. When Ortiz retired, many writers considered him to be a Hall of Famer. Taking that thought into account, they (re)looked at Edgar, and the choice became obvious. As a “voter”, I need to think more and more and more about the post-season in terms of player evaluation. But until I do, and then change my point of view, Ortiz will be a bad(ish) add to the Hall. Also, regarding Ortiz, I hardly think Edgar matters. It’s Baines! I suspect that if his election year were 2020, more than 70% of voters who support Ortiz would offer Baines as a point of comparison. And pretty amazingly, Bill Ballou offered Ortiz as a reason he voted for Rivera. Hey, in a case like this, I’ll take the awful logic.
ERIC: If I were Inspector 12, I’d tell the writers that they don’t say Baines until I say they say Baines. Alas, I wield no such power….
I love your point about Ortiz helping Edgar. I tend to think of cause and effect running in the same direction as the passage of time. As a language-using animal, we formulate our thoughts this way: This happened, which caused that to happen. So I naturally see the trend as If this guy gets in now, that other guy will get in later. But my subject was actually the predicate. And vice versa.
Before we leave the honorees, I’d like to interject, MIKE MUSSINA!
MILLER: MIKE MUSSINA!
ERIC: So we’ve talked about the honorees, let’s talk about a few of the down ballot results, starting with Fred McGriff. Nice rally by the Crime Dog in his final outing on the slate of candidates. He picked up a lot of last-year sympathy votes and about 40% of the writers checked his name. Is this his launchpad to VC glory a la Trammell?
MILLER: It’s strange how self-assured we become when we get invested in something. I’ve argued against McGriff for years, which wasn’t so necessary because the writers essentially argued against him too. And then this year, grading ballots, I decided to penalize writers for supporting McGriff, both because there’s a better first base candidate on the ballot (Helton) and because voting for him might mean taking a ballot spot from someone who both deserves and could use a vote. Now, I’m overly anti-McGriff.
Is this the launchpad for the Crime Dog? I don’t know. When you get 16 people in a room who are motivated to say “yes” to someone, strange things can happen. I continue to hope that the Hall will one-day give actual experts the right to vote. If that happens, McGriff may be looked at differently.
ERIC: He’ll have the possibility of a strong constituency in the VC: John Scheurholz, Pat Gillick, Bobby Cox, Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz, plus little bits of Phil Niekro, Rickey Henderson, and Trevor Hoffman. I have a feeling he’ll make it relatively quickly, as in one to three tries. Trammell took a big jump in his final year with the writers and got a plaque the next year from the VC, so there’s some recent precedent for McGriff’s position. Now let’s pick on a fave of yours: Omar Vizquel. Picked up some votes, but may not as many as I’d have thought. How about you?
MILLER: He’s picking up an insane number of votes! This is the bandwagon groupthink I’m talking about. Very few are looking into the fact that he was a terrible hitter or that the advanced metrics don’t support the idea he’s among the best defenders in history. Rather, they’re coalescing around Gold Gloves, magic, and doing what their friends are doing. I find it pretty gross and extremely sad. Eric, the guy’s going to be a Hall of Famer. And it’s not even going to take too long.
ERIC: I was figuring him to do about as well as Walker in the conversions category, so I’m pleased he didn’t do as well as I’d thought. He won’t grow his support as much next year with Jeter on the 2020 ballot, but, as you say, he’s already well on the path. You mentioned earlier that the voters have improved. It feels as though that improvement always comes with a retrenchment. Almost an unconscious quid pro quo. You people get to have your statsy plaques, but we still get to stick it in your eye with one of our old-time lullaby story guys. You get Blyleven, but not until we get our Rice. You get Raines, but not without Morris. You’ll get Walker, but not without Omar. You get your Edgar, but first we get some saves candy from Trevor Hoffman. Perhaps this is the elder voters going kicking and screaming into the long dark night?
MILLER: While I want to reiterate (especially for myself) that the BBWAA doesn’t quite operate as a group, I can’t help but agree with your retrenchment point. Some voters hold a certain amount of animosity against those who use information gleaned from statistical analysis rather than just feel and clubhouse talk. As I often put it, they want desperately to avoid learning. But I wanted to end on something positive. Please end on something positive!
ERIC: So let’s wrap this up. Ballotgeddon passes its peak with the 2019 class. For the next several years, there’s wide open territory for backloggers to find some daylight. Here’s an estimate that shows what I mean.
COMING (likely to receive >5%): Derek Jeter (+400 votes)
GOING (expiring eligibility or likely induction): Walker (-300 votes), Jeter (-400)
COMING: Tim Hudson (+50), Mark Buehrle (+50)
GOING: Schilling (-300)
COMING Alex Rodriguez (+100), David Ortiz (+300)
GOING: Ortiz (-300), Barry Bonds (-200), Roger Clemens (-200), Sammy Sosa (-50)
COMING: Carlos Beltran (+200)
GOING: Jeff Kent (-50)
COMING: Adrian Beltre (+400), Ichiro Suzuki (+400, unless he plays in the Japan openers this year), Joe Mauer (+200) Chase Utley (+50), David Wright (+50)
GOING: Gary Sheffield (-50), Beltre (-400), Suzuki (-400)
After 2024, the only current backloggers left will be Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, Andy Pettitte (maybe), Scott Rolen, Omar Vizquel, and Billy Wagner. Actually, Omar might well get a plaque by 2024. As we noted previously, this looks great for Scott Rolen. It also looks great for everyone who has hated the gnashing of teeth around the Hall of Fame debate. Of course, it’s only taken the writers a thousand years to get through this mess, and they’ve gotten much of it wrong. But nature is finally taking its course.
What ever will we do without the January sturm and drang?
‘Twas the night before the Hall call, and all over the nets,
Watchers were wondering what names would be next.
Predictions were posted to websites with care
In hopes the writers’ picks would be worthy and fair.
The players were nestled all snug in their beds
While visions of Cooperstown danced in their heads;
They hoped around 6:00 they’d arise to a clatter,
The telephone ringing with news of great matter.
Away to New York they’d fly like a flash
For photo-ops and pressers—a big baseball bash.
But now all was quiet, like new-fallen snow
The great, the chosen, still yet to be known.
On newsfeeds the winners’ names would soon trend
While others didn’t have the careers to contend
More rapid than eagles, their eligibility fast spent,
With nary a chance to reach five percent:
Off Freddy! Off Wells! Off Lilly and Hafner!
Off Garland and Bay—be gone forever!
Back to obscurity for Youk, Young, and Lowe!
Pierre and Polanco—you just have to go.
Off Oliver! Off Ankiel! Peace out to you all.
None of your lot gets a plaque on the wall.
For others a mere twinkling, a dangling hope,
That they might not be judged for taking the dope.
Tejada was cited in the Mitchell Report
“It was vitamin B12!” he said in retort.
Pettitte was doleful in his public confession
Then took off a year to avoid all the questions.
Sammy hablo no ingles at the hearing
Sheff’s Balco connections aren’t so endearing.
What about Manny, the hitting savant?
Thrice-busted users aren’t what voters want.
And Barry and Roger pay the costliest price
For difficult interviews—for not being nice.
Next come the guys of lesser import
Whom starry-eyed writers can’t help but support.
Billy the Kid thinks his chances are hefty—
If Sutter, Smith, and Rollie why not the lefty?
For the Crime Dog the case is simple and keen
Don’t ever forget, he’s the one who stayed clean!
The one with a chance was a flashy Gold Glover;
Vizquel’s crack cocaine for a narrative lover.
What of the worthies overlooked, out of mind?
That’s Jones, Kent, and Rolen near the cutline,
Pity the great Walker and his teammate Todd Helton
The Coors Field effect overshadows their beltin’,
And poor aggrieved Curt calls the press a big racket
Putting his electors in a deplorables basket.
To our final four, I say, don’t not sleep overlong!
Your call may come in just before dawn.
It’s been far too long for Edgar and Moose—
the voters have had a few screws come loose.
There’s Mariano, a man of few words and great work;
He should be unanimous, but there’s always some jerk.
So let’s hope tomorrow we say, “The voters got it right.”
Happy Halladay to all, and to all a good night!
Every year at the Hall of Miller and Eric we go through the curious exercise of making predictions about the annual Hall of Fame election. Miller does the amazing work of examining each pre-announcement ballot and grading its logic. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. So he’s got some serious pattern-recognition muscles at the ready. We also feature Eric on drums and wisecracks. Anyway, each year we peek inside the minds of the voters, and usually we throw up in our mouths, but nonetheless, we persist, offering you predictions at least half baked. I mean the predictions, we don’t smoke grass, even if it seems sometimes like we must.
ERIC: My numero uno prediction! Mariano Rivera will not be the first unanimously elected Hall of Famer in history. I’ve got two reasons for saying that:
MILLER: As a bit of a contrarian myself, I very much want to disagree with you. Alas, I cannot. The Hall of Fame does both the process and the fans a disservice by not revealing voters’ ballots. I’m just going to leave it at that. If Rivera doesn’t reach 100%, I don’t care how close he gets.
My next prediction has to do with Andy Pettitte, one of my all-time least favorite players. He’s going to come within a few votes of falling off the ballot. I’m thinking single digits. Heck, maybe he even falls off. He has two big things working against him. First, he’s not one of the four best pitchers on the ballot. Just about nobody thinks he is. Second, he used PEDs, and anonymous voters support PED users considerably less than public voters do. Of course, some voters are just idiots. Yes, I write that line with the anger you believe. A full 25% of Pettitte voters as of this writing didn’t vote for Barry Bonds. So maybe he stays on the ballot because some writers are so awful that they don’t know he used PEDs? That’s frightening – and entirely possible. I’m sure there are some voters who are sure that “a guy like Andy” would never do that.
ERIC: I am pretty shocked by his dearth of support. Going into Hall season, I thought he’d get around 20% at minimum. 250 wins!!!! Yankees!!!! Postseason wins!!!! Lots of ringzzzzz to count!!!! I can’t resist this:
But you know, Morris was always out there winning twenty games because he was the pitcher of the 1980s. Morris won 20 three times. Pettitte did it twice.
But Morris pitched the game. Pettitte sealed a World Series sweep of the Padres in 1998 by going 7.1 scoreless in the fourth and deciding game. In the clincher of the 2000 World Series, he gave up two unearned runs to the Mets in seven frames to stifle the crosstown team in five games.
Sorry I couldn’t resist….
MILLER: As someone who supports Pettitte’s candidacy, I don’t think this is a very good argument for you. 😊
Next prediction. It’s pretty clear Halladay and Edgar get in. Halladay is over 94% right now, but I suspect he’ll fall below 90%. And Edgar is over 90% now, but I think he’ll fall scarily close to 80%. I guess nobody will be scared since we won’t see those anonymous ballots come in on the Tracker, but I could imagine the collective Emerald City hearts skipping a beat or twenty if they were able to see each one in real time.
ERIC: I hate to be so rude, but dying is one of the best things you can do to get into the Hall. It creates narrative. Halladay barely squeaked over 200 wins. His numbers are less impressive than Curt Schilling’s. But between the playoff no-no and his untimely death, the righty has extra mojo. Meanwhile, Mariners’ partisans and fans of great batsman everywhere will get their wish this year. We’re writing this about week before the announcement goes out, but Edgar has converted a net 17 no-voters from last year into yes-voters. Last year, he missed election by just 20 votes. So the magic number is around +3 at this point. It may be less. Tibbs is estimating 412 ballots will be cast in 2019, but in 2018 the count was 422. Martinez may have already sealed the deal, provided he doesn’t lose any support. I predict he’ll end up at 85% by combining the herding effect with the last-year-on-the-ballot-effect.
Now I will dazzle our audience with my peerless perspicacity. For my next prediction: Mike Mussina will get into the Hall of Fame this year…or next!
MILLER: Before I wholeheartedly agree with your gutsy Mussina call, lemme go back to Halladay and Martinez for a moment.
I think old school ballot hiding/hiders (perhaps because they have no publishing outlets) will drop Edgar below 85%. I’d wager a well-crafted non-alcoholic cocktail in it.
As for Halladay, I don’t disagree with any of your points. However, I do believe writers are getting a shade better too. Sure, they have to hide their support of Halladay in complete games and toughness, but I think they’re moving in the right direction. I’ve been saying this for years, and it seems that the results support my take. Voters have coalesced around Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez, Ken Griffey, Mike Piazza, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Craig Biggio, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas in the last five years. Of the top-15 vote-getters in 2014, all are in, going this year or next, or are Bonds, Clemens, or Schilling (who may go next year anyway. This is all to say that while many electors are awful, the electorate is generally competent and improving, if glacially. It’s likely that Halladay’s death is playing a role. It’s likely the October no-no matters too much. It’s likely the complete games matter too much. But I also think the greatness is appreciated more than it would have been even five years ago.
As for Mussina, I feel like you’re putting me to the test now. We’re making predictions in this post, and you, essentially, didn’t make one. Of course, as the more arrogant among us, this should fall to me. Mike Mussina will be elected this year. Anthony Calamis wrote it better than I could, so I refer you there. I also refer you to my occasional optimism and my general belief that the electorate is improving.
So we agree on Rivera, Halladay, and Edgar, essentially. What’s your call on Mussina. Do it, Eric! Do it! Commit!
ERIC: You can’t spell Mussina with out in. There’s lots of interesting stuff going on below the cutline for immortality. Walker’s surge, for example. As we write this post, he’s +38 with last year’s voters and 5 of 7 with newbie voters. So he’s gained 43 votes above 2018 among the first 44% of votes known. In fact, with another convert today, his known percentage ticked up to 67%. He picked up a total of 42 converts and newbies last year when he made a 15 point jump. Tibbs’ Tracker had 247 ballots on it before the results went public with a 38.5% approval rating. He finished at 37.5%. So if he keeps converting at this high rate, he’s probably going to finish 2019 in the high 50s or low 60s. PREDICTION!!!!: Larry Walker will either make the Hall in 2020, his last year of eligibility, or the next time the Today’s Game Committee meets.
MILLER: I’m pleased Walker is tracking the way he is. Perhaps his eventual election will help to open the door for Todd Helton as well. I don’t know how I feel about writers coalescing around certain candidates. It’s gotten Edgar Martinez in. Previously, it helped stat darlings Tim Raines and Bert Blyleven. So there’s some good. But I’m troubled by what is, essentially, groupthink. Sure, some are converted by the knowledge they may gain through Fangraphs, Baseball Prospectus, or some other site doing great work. I don’t think that’s the norm though. I think the norm is that a lot of writers look around and try not to look too stupid. And sometimes there’s a weird sympathy vote, like what’s going on this year with Fred McGriff. We have to remember that almost all sports writers are folks who went to school for journalism. They may or may not be real fans of baseball. Often, their “knowledge” of the game is attained through watching games from the press box and talking to players. They don’t necessarily read. They don’t necessarily try to understand value. After all, they don’t have to. And if they weren’t huge fans to begin with…
ERIC: As you and I and every other person ever has probably pointed out, baseball writers like a good story. They dig narrative, it’s their drug of choice. We can be a little hard on them sometimes. I think they generally do love baseball, and they provide information and insight that folks outside the game can’t get access to. But, like us stat heads, they have trouble seeing their blind spots. I mean, I’m sure I have some blind spots. I’m not sure what they are, but maybe I might possibly not be as smart or objective as I think. From time to time. That said, I am further pleased to see that Scott Rolen has gained some support this year. Nearly doubling one’s share of the vote, especially when you’re a third baseman who doesn’t have 400 homers or 3,000 hits is a nice feat. Getting to about 20% sets him up very nicely. In fact, we can see a pretty clear path for Rolen to gain support. To wit:
That’s about as a good an opportunity as any down-ballot candidate could hope for.
MILLER: I like your take on Rolen and hope you’re right. As for predictions, I’ll address Schilling now by way of Mussina. Schilling won’t go next year because – and this hurts me quite a bit – Mussina won’t go this year. (Yes, I’ve changed my mind during this conversation. And yes, it’s going to be close enough that my vacillation shouldn’t surprise). I think he winds up north of 73% and will get in next year, but the upstate New York stage will be a little less crowded than it might be this summer. Schilling will go the year after Mussina does, so that means 2021. Alas.
ERIC: Oh, it’s a cruel, cruel world, and I don’t know which is more cruel: Mike Mussina waiting yet another year or Curt Schilling getting national time in front of a microphone. If he talks about walls, guns, PC, fake news, or the deep state, I’ll go off the deep end. OK, Bonds and Clemens then the lightning round. Go!
MILLER: You know, I’m not worried about Schilling’s eventual speech. I don’t care what my politicians think about sports, and I don’t care what my athletes think about politics. Plus, I’m a lot more likely to read Breitbart than I am to listen to a Hall speech.
And some bullets from you?
ERIC: I don’t care what Curt thinks about politics, I care that he’s adding white-nationalist poison to the world. His politics are merely a vehicle for his loosely disguised race baiting. Hate transcends politics, just as love does. But setting that aside, let’s close this sucker out with more of my fantastic predictions:
Thanks for joining our annual predictions conversation, everyone. Tune in again on the evening of the 21st for a very special treat on Hall Call Eve and for our reaction to the results a day after their announcement. And, of course, we’ll have our own 2019 election for the Hall of Miller and Eric coming up after that—boy are we stumped on that one. And remember this: If any of our predictions come true, you heard it first at the Hall of Miller and Eric!
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.
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:
Jayson, the ballot will unclog. Let me explain:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Onto those ballots!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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 (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.
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???
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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:
Can all agree that those three are examples of bad ballots?
I suspect even McAdam would agree.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
[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.
“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?
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
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.
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!