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Razzball is psyched to being taking part in the BBWAA Hall of Fame vote.  As the chief stat geek at Razzball, I take this responsibility very seriously.  I admit there are obstacles – e.g., determining the right paper size and stock for fashioning a  ballot (ours always gets lost in the mail), writing all the eligible players’ names, tracking down the BBWAA address, buying a stamp,  ignoring the ‘return to sender’ and ‘cease and desist’ letters from BBWAA, etc – but how best to honor the nominees’ perseverance than to show a little of my own, right?

Below is my 2014 Hall of Fame ballot  as well as some commentary on the Veterans ballot.  As you can surmise by my votes, I’m a PED realist (vs. moralist) with a slight bias towards hitters (particularly well-rounded 2B/SS/CF) vs pitchers.

All WAR (Wins Above Replacement) figures are from Baseball-Reference.

Veterans Ballot (who I would have voted for)
Larussa, Cox, Torre, Simmons, Marvin Miller

I’d vote for Torre even if he never managed.  He had a great bat for a catcher (130 OPS+ for the years – 19-29 – he caught).  Based on today’s defensive stats, he appears to have been an okay fielder but was smartly deployed as a C/1B during his catching career to get his bat in the lineup more.  There were only 7 seasons prior to 1970 where a player qualified for the batting title, had a 120 OPS+ and played 40+ games at C/1B.  Torre had 4 of them.  He was the template for Gene Tenace in the 70′s and Mike Napoli, Buster Posey, Carlos Santana, and Victor Martinez in the 90s/2000s.  The trade from the Braves to the Cardinals (who had McCarver and, soon after, Ted Simmons) led to Torre being transitioned to a full-time 3B at age 30 (where he was awful) and eventually 1B.  While the move off Catcher likely improved his durability/longevity, maintaining a C/1B role or just going straight to 1B might have netted a couple extra career WAR.  (Fantasy note:  He is 5th in career fantasy value for players with 5+ C-eligible seasons, bested only by Bench, Piazza, Yogi, and Fisk)

Simmons has the best WAR of any non-HOF catcher other than Piazza.  The other players (John, Concepcion, Garvey, Parker) are just HOVG candidates and there were more worthy players of the era – Dwight Evans, Bobby Grich, etc. – that deserved their spots on the balot.

Main Ballot

#1 – Barry Bonds (162.5 WAR) – The WAR from just his top 7 seasons (72.8) would qualify him as 8th highest on the ballot (just a win shy of Frank Thomas’s career value).

#2 – Roger Clemens (140.3 WAR) – His WAR from just his 13 years in Boston equals the career value of Tom Glavine.

#3 – Greg Maddux (106.8 WAR) – In the time it takes Mike Mussina to finish the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle, Greg Maddux can write one.

#4 – Jeff Bagwell (79.5 WAR) – The only 1Bs who debuted after 1900 that have better WARs are Gehrig, Foxx, and Pujols.  He played 60% of his career with the Astrodome as his home park.  His HR/PA was 22.4 in the Astrodome and 16.8 at the park formerly known as Enron Field.  If he played his whole career at Enron, he likely would have had 60+ more career HRs which would put him over 500 (449 career HRs).

#5 – Mike Piazza (59.2 WAR) – Best hitting catcher ever IMO and concerns about his catching may be a bit overblown.

#6 – Frank Thomas (73.6 WAR) – Don’t care that he DH’d more than 50% of games or that he was awful on the basepaths and when he had to don a glove.  Anyone who can make the .300/.400/.500 club over 10,000 PAs deserves entrance.

#7 – Tim Raines (69.1 WAR) – 10,000 PAs, .385 OBP, AND an amazing baserunner.  Love the stat that he has more times on base than Gwynn.  All due respect to Gwynn but any GM worth his salt would take Raines over him in some hypothetical re-draft.

#8 – Craig Biggio (64.9 WAR) – Awesome peak.  The last 4 years – which got him to 3,000 hits – were worth virtually nothing (total of 1.1 WAR).

#9 – Alan Trammell (70.3 WAR) – Great all-around player.  Compares favorably to Barry Larkin and even Ripken (OPS+ of 110 to Cal’s 112).

#10 – Tom Glavine (81.4 WAR) – Really a toss-up between Glavine, Mussina, and Schilling.  I am a sucker for 300 Wins.  I find Glavine more interesting than Schilling/Mussina in that his career ERA is considerably lower than his FIP (3.54 vs. 3.95).  The high FIP isn’t surprising given his modest K rate (5.3/9) and mediocre BB rate (3.1/9). The only post-war pitchers with 3,000 career IP and a bigger differential are Jim Palmer (0.64 – aided by the best infield defense ever) and Whitey Ford (0.51)*.   FanGraphs’ WAR uses FIP and this difference leads to a massive 17 WAR difference (64 FG WAR).  I like FIP vs. ERA for looking at a single year to neutralize BABIP/LOB% luck but, when looking at a career, I believe this is more skill vs luck (with team defense as an external factor).  Glavine’s BABIP was .280 which is about average for pitchers with 3,000+ IP.  It is his ‘strand (LOB%) rate of 73.9% – better than teammates Maddux and Smoltz – which feels like the skill.  That strand rate is in the top quartile among 3,000+ IP pitchers which is pretty amazing since his K rate is so poor (Palmer and Ford are #1/#2 in strand rate).

* Some players with much worse ERA than FIP include Javier Vazquez (ERA is 0.31 higher), Curt Schilling (.23), and Nolan Ryan (.22).

Other players I’d vote for if there were more spots on the ballot

Curt Schilling (79.9 WAR) - Complete late-bloomer – only 17 WAR before 30.  Could easily make case for putting him on ballot over a number of guys above.
Mike Mussina (83.0 WAR) – Pales in comparison with other pitchers on the ballot thanks to no Cy Youngs but 10 seasons of 5.0 WAR is a very strong peak (tied for 11th most all-time with Warren Spahn and Eddie Plank).  That is more than (among others) Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, Jim Palmer, and Cy Young.  As with Schilling, there really isn’t a defense for not having him on my ballot.
Edgar Martinez (68.3 WAR) -  Equals Frank Thomas minus 1,401 PAs of .224/.430/.843.  So a notch below Frank but a .312/.418/.515 career line over 8,674 PAs is still above the cut for me)
Larry Walker (72.6 WAR) - while Coors certainly helped, his career road split of .278/.370/.495 is still elite.  For comparison, Ken Griffey Jr.’s road split was .272/.355/.505.  The lack of durability (one season above 144 Games) is a demerit but not a dealbreaker for me.
Rafael Palmeiro (71.8 WAR) - Never the ‘best’ but he was very good for a long time.  Above the HOF standard for 1Bs IMO.
Jeff Kent (55.2 WAR) - Best power bat for a 2B since Hornsby with close to league-average fielding.  Played most of career in pitcher parks (higher HR-rate and SLG on road vs home).
Sammy Sosa (58.4 WAR) – career value hurt by low OBPs early in career (.308 in first 4,374 PAs from 20-28) and no value post-35.
Mark McGwire (62.0 WAR)
Fred McGriff (52.6 WAR) - on the fence.  There are 8 players not in the Hall of Fame that have 10,000+ Plate Appearances and a 134+ OPS+:  Bonds, A-Rod, Griffey, Thome, Thomas, Sheffield, McGriff, and Chipper Jones.  Move that down to 9,000+ PA and 130+ OPS+ and you have 13 (Vlad, Bagwell, Helton, Manny, and Palmeiro).  The other 34 players to make these thresholds are in the HOF with Willie Stargell having the least WAR (57.3).  So tough to say whether I can endorse McGriff as he seems right above or below the cutoff line.
Kenny Lofton (68.1 WAR) - This one is cheating since he missed the cutoff last year.  Here is a link to some comments I made on Lofton at Baseball Think Factory (comment #72) - the quick summary is that I think the worst piece of luck for Lofton’s HOF case was that his perception was torched by shuttling between 9 teams from age 35-40.  Given his performance during those years was actually solid (comparable to Ichiro post-35), my argument is if he either was able to remain with the Indians (who ditched him because they had younger, cheaper CFS in Milton Bradley and Coco Crisp) or stayed with the Giants (who picked him up at the waiver deadline in the year they made the WS against the Angels) for the rest of his career, he would be looked upon in a much better light.  (Note:  Lofton is 2nd in career WAR for non-HOF players with 75+% of games at CF – 1st is Ken Griffey Jr.  Beltran will likely surpass Lofton in 2014.  Only 3 other players are within 18 WAR (!) of Kenny LoftonAndruw Jones, Willie Davis, and Jim Edmonds).

Who do you think will make the HOF in 2014?

There are only two things I feel confident in predicting:  1) Maddux gets in with 90+% of the votes and 2) There will be more than 7 votes/ballot which has not been done since 1986.

I think Glavine has a very good chance (75-85%).  Biggio, Morris, Big Hurt, finish 3rd-5th in some order with all three finishing short (60-72%).  Piazza finishes with 50-60%.  The rest of the returnees will get crushed given that the aforementioned six would represent 4.65 of the 7 votes/person.  Keep Clemens, Bonds, and Schilling at about 35% and that’s 5.65 votes with 1.35 votes split up amongst everyone else.  Thus, I think Bagwell, Raines, Lee Smith, Edgar Martinez, and McGwire see declines of 10+% versus last year and the following players (who I’d consider voting for) fall off the ballot:  Palmeiro, Sosa, Kent, McGriff.  I also think one of the following fall off:  Walker, Edgar, Mussina, McGwire.  Mussina and Kent are probably the only two of this bunch that has a shot at ever getting voted in by the writers so I hope they avoid the chopping block.

How would you deal with the logjam of player ?

1) Remove any maximum on number of players per ballot.

2) Realize that the BBWAA vote is only useful for voting in ‘no-brainer’ candidates.  Given that they still managed to vote in Sutter and Rice with the threshold at 75%, I would not lower it.

3) Increase the voting threshold in two increments – to 20% after Year 4 and to 40% in Year 7.  Why keep players like Don Mattingly and Dale Murphy on the ballot for 10+ years when there is zero chance of them reaching 75%?  If a candidate cannot stay above these thresholds, they are by definition borderline candidates (aka not ‘no-brainers’).

4) Realize that Veteran Committees will never be an effective method for determining HOF-worthiness of borderline candidates so…

5) Create a new committee with greater analytic chops that reviews all players retired for 11+ years.  Rotate it by position:  C, 1B/DH, 2B, SS, 3B, CF, RF/LF, SP, RP, Managers/Executives/Other.  Up to 5 can be voted in per year.  Doing this by position makes it easier to narrow down the candidates and any review of, say, Lou Whitaker, would require comparisons to other 2Bs (Grich, Randolph, etc.) anyway.

Why Do Smart Writers Vote For Jack Morris?

And then there’s Jack Morris – he of the 3.90 ERA that was only 5% better than league average (Glavine, by comparison, was 18% better and most HOFs are 20+% better).  The debate on Morris has been ranging in print+online for several years now and I am clearly in the camp of “He was a good but not great pitcher”.  The fascinating part of the debate for me isn’t the arguments against Jack Morris (it begins/ends with a 3.90 ERA, 105+ ERA) – it is in trying to understand why so many informed voters continue to support him.

Here are some recent pro-HOF Morris articles from writers whom I think are well-informed (if not Brian Kenny-esque zealots) regarding statistics:

Tom Verducci – SI.com
Joel Sherman – NYPost.com
Buster Olney – ESPN
Bob Ryan – Boston Globe

So why would these knowledgeable writers support a candidate that clearly is below HOF standards based on the most fundamental stats.  Bill James reverse engineered this divide between voting and player value with his Hall of Fame Monitor – e.g., Jack Morris has a much higher ‘score’ than Dennis Martinez despite their career values being very similar.  Some of that can be explained by the lack of advanced stats available in the past – but why is it still occurring?

Here is my theory:  narrative bias.  I define this as “a strong, potentially unconscious preference towards conclusions that satisfactorily conclude an accepted storyline.”  For Morris, the generally accepted narrative is:

  • Perceived as an ‘ace’ during his playing career
  • HOF should reward someone who is the best in his era (aka, the most wins argument)
  • Demonstrated superior intangibles with a 10 inning shutout in a Game 7

Many baseball writers – at least ones that started in newspapers – are instinctively attracted to narratives like this.  Their ability to find an angle to a story is essential to their career success.  It not only helps them crank out baseball articles (the reason they are in the BBWAA) but also helps with books (both non-fiction and fiction) and TV.  While writers of Hollywood or TV biographies like highs and lows (think Behind the Music’s success/failure/redemption), I think standard Hall of Fame narratives need easy to digest ‘highs’ like tangible accomplishments (e.g, 20 win seasons, led the league x times, etc.), notable tidbits, and a player’s perception during his playing career.  ‘Lows’ just add uncertainty to the narrative unless it involves overcoming off-the-field obstacles like fought in a war, injury/disease, etc.   Under-appreciated brilliance that fails to meet these ‘high’s – like players in the past with strong (but not overly-heralded) defense or mediocre AVG/high OBP – fails this ‘narrative’ test.

Or stated in another way, the litmus test is “How easy would it be to write their career summary on their HOF plaque?”

This narrative bias is counter-productive for objectively determining whether a player meets a threshold of excellence.  An ideal judge/jury come into a courtroom with no preconceived notion of innocence or guilt and let the facts of the case guide their verdict.  I would argue that many baseball writers, however, start from a conclusion based on the attractiveness of the player’s narrative – aka, the narrative for Morris is more attractive than Kevin Brown despite the latter being a better pitcher.  In the case of Morris (and Jim Rice), their narrative is highly driven by the player’s (overrated) reputation during their career since they failed to meet the standard accomplishments like 300 wins or 500 HRs/3000 hits.

You would think that ‘He was underrated during his playing career but his career was really valuable” would be an attractive narrative but I cannot think of an example except maybe Blyleven (who, it should be noted, is 5th all-time in strikeouts and 11th in career WAR for pitchers.  His narrative was the only thing that kept him out all those years.)

This bias cripples a statistical review in two ways:

  1. It creates ‘HOFer before proven inferior’ and vice versa scenarios where an otherwise slam dunk statistical case for/against a player may be dismissed as insufficient proof to abandon one’s perception.
  2. The statistical review skews towards supporting the conclusion, taking the voter down alleyways they otherwise would never go.

The 2nd point would explain why Verducci has to resort to stats like “He pitched eight or more innings in AL games more times than any pitcher in the history of the DH (248), a record unlikely even to be approached.”?  Or that he had the most wins and complete games for pitchers who debuted between 1971-1983?

How many statistical dead ends does one have to reach before turning to 8+ inning starts or complete games as proof of Hall of Fame worthiness?  Career Wins, not quite.  WAR, nope.  ERA+, nah.  WHIP, uh-uh.  K-rate, mediocre.  Cy Youngs, nada.  Innings/game against all eras, not even close.

Why does era matter for Wins?  Was it harder to get wins for pitchers who debuted in 1971-1983 than those who debuted afterwards?  Some eras are loaded with HOF-worthy talent (say, SS  in the 1980′s with Cal Ripken, Ozzie Smith, Alan Trammell, Robin Yount, Barry Larkin) and some eras have none (SS in the 1970′s).  Once you statistically adjust for environment/competition of an era, the only value left for ‘era’ is as as part of a narrative.

When Sherman notes that Morris started 6 Game Ones as a support point, it is as if he is saying the narrative (and the perception behind it) IS the proof rather than doing analysis to determine whether the narrative/perception may have been false (for instance, in 1992, Morris lost both the ALCS and WS Game Ones and was probably the 4th best pitcher on the staff after David Cone, Juan Guzman, and Jimmy Key).

The expectation that the majority of baseball writers raised on these narratives will discard this bias for HOF voting is unrealistic.  It is like raising a civilization where 90% of the calories are delivered via sugar and then being disappointed they reach for the candied yams over the mashed potatoes at the Thanksgiving table.

The case for/against Jack Morris will not be the last one where narrative bias plays a role but it will likely be the last one for a while where the narrative bias HELPS a player get inducted.  Thanks to steroids, most of the previous perceptions on 90′s hitters have been chucked out the window.  Who is the next eligible hitter that has a poor sabermetric case but potentially a great narrative?  Omar “He is perceived to be the best fielding SS since Ozzie Smith, doubtful he did ‘roids, he had a good number of hits/SBs, and he’s honest enough to call out Jose Mesa’s choke job” Vizquel?

As for starting pitchers, borderline candidates like David Cone and Kevin Brown couldn’t even make a second ballot.  Curt Schilling’s has a compelling narrative but it still pales in comparison to his actual value.  Statheads will likely have to push for Mussina whose narrative is so-so.  Andy Pettitte is probably the closest thing to “The Jack Morris of the 90′s/00′s” but he’s got the HGH and “not even close to best pitcher of his era” things going against him.

As for relievers, thanks to Mariano Rivera, the bar will be set so high that no other reliever except MAYBE Trevor Hoffman have a chance in the next 10+ years.

The silver lining here is that, with the proliferation of advanced stats, a player’s actual greatness will increasingly define his reputation/perception during his career.  In addition, newer writers are more likely to be more statistically driven than the retired ones they will be replacing.  So maybe by the time someone like Scott Rolen (70 WAR)  is eligible for the HOF in 2017, he will get 6-10% of the vote instead of the less than 4% that Ron Santo (70.3 WAR) received.  Woo-hoo!

(Fantasy note:  To my surprise, Jack Morris actually passes my $200 fantasy baseball career value threshold for a Fantasy Baseball HOF with $224 (http://razzball.com/playerrater-pitchers-career-sp).  The SPs not in the hall that are ahead of him are:  Clemens, Randy, Maddux, Pedro, Smoltz, Schilling, Maddux, Glavine, Cone, Brown, Halladay, Sabathia, Paul Derringer (30s/40s pitcher), and Billy Pierce (50′s/60′s).  He makes it largely because of Wins where he had the 2nd highest average $ contribution after Christy Mathewson.  Amongst the $200+ club, he is last in ERA, towards the bottom in WHIP, and middle of the pack with K’s.  Contemporaries that just miss the $200 cut include Dennis Martinez ($194), Frank Tanana ($184), Fernando Valenzuela ($183),  and Bob Welch ($183).  All players on my HOF ballot had greater than $200 in career fantasy value except for Alan Trammell at $198.5 and Edgar Martinez at $190 (heavy DH penalty))

 

  1. Jeff in Southern Indiana says:
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    I’m still sad Murph didn’t get in.

    It’s like there will only be a handful of guys from the late 70s and 80s in the Hall due to the PED stats inflation.

    • @Jeff in Southern Indiana: I think the late 70′s through mid-80′s was a dead period for launching HOF-worthy pitchers and that is just a fluke Guidry, Gooden and Steib definitely had worthy peaks but needed more longevity. And then Clemens and Maddux appear in the mid-80′s.

      For hitters, I think there are some worthy hitters of the era outside the HOF but Murphy isn’t one of them. He had 6 All-Star worthy seasons (5+ WAR), a couple of okay seasons, and then just filler. I’d argue this era already got 3 marginal nominations (Dawson/Puckett – marginal, Rice – submarginal) and Murphy would be a 4th.

      I am all for adding Trammell and Raines as well as reconsidering players such as Dwight Evans, Darrell Evans, Lou Whitaker, Bobby Grich, and Willie Randolph who had HOF-worthy value but lacked support because their value was in overlooked areas like OBP and fielding.

  2. Vito says:
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    Pitching 10 shutout innings in Game 7 of the 1991 WS is the only argument I need for Morris to get in. It’s not scientific but it’s the best pitching performance I’ve ever seen, or ever will.

    • So does Don Larsen get in too? :)

    • Jay

      Jay says:
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      @Vito: I’d like to see a stronger argument than that.

    • Furious says:
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      @Vito: That is a Hall of Fame moment. One amazing game does not make a Hall of Famer and anyone that argues that should never be taken seriously.

      Morris’s Game 5 start of the 1992 WS: 4.2 IP, 9 Hits, 7 ER. That is enough for me to keep him out of the Hall of Fame. Using 1 game to evaluate a player is asinine at best.

      • goodfold2 says:
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        @Furious: what is it at worst?

  3. Wake Up says:
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    Congrats on getting to vote for the HOF!

  4. TheNewGuy says:
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    Recent trade I completed, im the one getting Hamilton. Like it?

    B Hamilton & Iwakuma ($3) & B Jackson (throw-away prospect)
    FOR Rosenthal & Stephenson & Estrada ($9) (throw-away)

  5. Simply Fred

    simply fred says:
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    Congrats! The first step to recovery is admitting your addiction (realist vs. moralist). Wilful use of peds doesn’t warrant being condemned as a human being. It should/does preclude one from election to the Hall. I am a numbers guy. Yet, I can see that worth goes beyond the numbers. You really want your kids esteeming premeditated cheating?

    I don’t condemn you for your support for peds-sers. Still esteem your numbers crunching. And, in my mind, not worthy of a counting Hall vote.

    Love you, neverthelss! :-)

    • thanks for understanding.

    • goodfold2 says:
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      @simply fred: selective moralizing could be worse, whether wilful or ignorance based. thinking steriods were the only intentional cheating going on or just being a human jackass (ty cobb) over the years of people either in the HOF or being discussed whether or not they should is a much harder undertaking than using stats for HOF admittance/withdrawl. Part 1 of this: http://www.amazon.com/Extra-Innings-Baseball-Between-Prospectus/dp/B00AZ8TRYC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1387787022&sr=8-1&keywords=extra+innings
      goes into much more detail that many eras had intentional cheaters or just plain evil people (for those inclined to make sure their children don’t witness “bad” people being rewarded).

      • @goodfold2: good points. yeah, there are some real bastards in the HOF. i think ‘vote or no vote’ on PED is one of those ‘gray’ debates where each side has valid points and there’s no absolute right answer (as opposed to morris where i do think he absolutely does not have a statistical case for the HOF so a vote for him is explicitly saying the HOF should have a significant subjective bias).

  6. Big AL says:
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    Wacha, Grey, Salazar, Miller, Cobb, Teheran. Which 3 do you like for a H2H 12 man league. Also what round would you pick the first one of these guys ? C’mon februaruy. So far it’s been a great off season with all kind of trades. Lots to think about.

    • I’d go Cobb, Teheran, and Wacha but there isn’t much separation behind them all since none of them have a multi-year track record or pitch in a very favorable home park. I’d think 12th round would be the earliest I’d want to take one of these guys as my 3rd pitcher.

  7. OaktownSteve says:
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    Some of your best stuff, Rudy. Thanks for the work.

    For me, the HoF presents an interesting challenge. There are, of course, no objective criteria established for entry. In fact, there is not even any clear agreement on what the Hall exactly is or who it is for.

    When we start to talk about statistical criteria, I think the strongest argument is that it creates fairness for the players. There are personal and financial benefits that come with enshrinement and the idea that the most worthy players by a more objective set of rules get in has a certain appeal.

    By the same measure, the Hall is as much for the fans as it is for the players. Remember that it’s not just a concept but an actual physical space. People go there to experience something magical or nostalgic about the game itself. Viewed through that lens, the narrative angle becomes not a bias but a legitimate, primary consideration. It is no coincidence that the Hall has been entrusted to the BBWAA. They are the creators and keepers of baseball’s narrative tradition.

    Narrative is a slippery thing. There’s no telling why Morris’ game resonates so much with fans exactly. Obviously it’s a grit and determination thing, but there have been other gritty moments. My own opinion is that pitching that 10th inning, a thing rarely seen in our lifetime in a WS, raised that game to the mythic. And if there’s anything more powerful than a simple narrative it’s the stuff of myth.

    So which gives the average fan more when they think about the hall or go there? Is it contemplating the majesty of Kevin Brown’s career WAR? Or is it reliving that game they remember watching as a kid back in ’91?

    • Thanks Oaktown Steve.

      I’d rather the HOF focus on getting the ‘worthy’ players and then can supplement memorable games with exhibits. I think Morris’ 1991 Game 7 start could be part of a wonderful exhibit at the HOF with other great playoff moments. Joe Carter’s series-winning HR. Mazeroski’s series-winning HR. Larsen’s perfect game. Freese’s amazing Game 7. Glavine’s insane 8 innings of 1-hit ball to clinch the 1995 series against one of the best offenses ever – the 1995 Indians (http://www.baseball-almanac.com/box-scores/boxscore.php?boxid=199510280ATL). Lofton, Belle, Manny, Thome, Eddie Murray, Baerga, Vizquel.

      I think narrative is fine as a tiebreaker for borderline players (Kevin Brown being a good example). But Jack Morris isn’t borderline – he’s got 44 WAR which is about 3 all-star seasons short of borderline. He had neither an HOF-peak or career. Just seens unfair to vote him in over better pitchers like David Cone or Dave Steib or Kevin Brown.

      • OaktownSteve says:
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        @Rudy Gamble:

        I see what you’re saying, but it still presupposes that the HoF should be a collection of the most statistically worthy candidates first and foremost and other considerations become tiebreakers only. While it’s true that such a position has a lot to recommend it, it is by no means the only defensible stance for just the reasons I mentioned above. If the Hall is also some combination of fan experience and narrative storehouse, Morris’ candidacy becomes more viable. How much value can you put on becoming part of the game’s mythology? Your counter-example of Glavine actually cuts both ways. Go ask 100 casual baseball fans if they remember that game. Maybe a handful. For whatever reason, that Morris game is iconic. Probably the single most remembered game of the 90′s for most fans. I don’t know why. Maybe it had particularly good ratings. I think the 10th inning thing is part of it. It made Morris famous. See what I did there with ‘fame.’ It may not be objectively fair, but there’s no fairness requirement. Being fair may not be the best way to ultimately serve the Hall’s purpose.

        • OaktownSteve says:
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          @OaktownSteve:

          …and the Hall already has tons of exhibits and memorabilia that celebrate moments and players not otherwise enshrined. And while Morris may not be above the statistical threshold for inclusion by some measures, he’s much much closer than Bill Mazeroski and others. This is not an argument for putting in Bucky Dent or Aaron Boone.

          • OaktownSteve says:
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            @OaktownSteve:

            one last thing…if you get a second, give this a read some time:

            http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/magazine/13Psychology-t.html?_r=0

            The reason I bring it up is your particular insistence upon fairness as it relates to the Jall. It’s a classic liberal bias. I’m apolitical so I’m not using liberal pejoratively there at all. Conservatives would be much more likely to value things like WS championships (team being loyal to the tribe) and character (cuts to respect for authority, purity)

            • That’s a long article – will have to go back to it. I am liberal. I’d argue that my fairness is rooted in math/science and that also seems to be a liberal/conservative divide (e.g., evolution).

              I hear your argument. And while I disagree with the sentiment that Morris deserves entrance since “He’s a full tier below HOF statistical worthiness but was really famous/iconic”, it’s at least an honest one.

              Maybe it’s just the liberal/scientist in me that thinks the HOF shouldn’t compound press and fan misconceptions about players (e.g., Morris was a great pitcher when he was just a very good pitcher).

              So is your point basically that you agree w/ me that the writers have a ‘narrative bias’ but that this bias isn’t 100% bad?

              • OaktownSteve says:
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                @Rudy Gamble:

                I neither agree nor disagree with the writers or with you nor do I assert that narrative bias can be called either good or bad. I believe that there is only one criteria for enshrinement and that is enshrinement. Much like democracy, the process itself, the vigorous assertion of viewpoint from all interested parties is the point. My original responses were mainly in the role of devil’s advocate.

                There is no right answer because the Hall itself exists strictly as a locus of many ideas and competing interests and not a Platonic ideal. As such, my sole interest is as observer to the process. It’s a good thing not everybody thinks like me though or this planet would be in big trouble. Like Swift’s isle of philosophers in Gulliver. Still, all you humans do crack me up.

                I think you did a great job of advocating your view though, Rudy. Really appreciate the thoughtful piece.

  8. Jimmy says:
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    I have been a proponent of Murphy and Mattingly for some time. In a relatively down era the two of them thrived. Their overall numbers might be better if someone introduced them to HGH or other “healing” drugs and prolonged their careers. I think career numbers can no longer be what represents a hall of famer. The peak years of those two are enough for me.

    • They were definitely MVP-level players for their short peaks. I just disagree that 80′s players should get a discount when it comes to career value. It was no harder to stay healthy in the 1980′s then earlier. Plus, their injuries would have been an issue even in the modern era. Mattingly has a modern clone in Todd Helton who would have been a no-brainer HOF if back issues didn’t rob him of his post-30 power (biggest difference being that Helton had a better eye).

      Actually, Murphy MAYBE would have had a longer career with modern knee surgery and less artificial turf (same goes for Dawson).
      But Murphy caught a lot of innings in his minor league career and then barely took a day off for a half-decade or so. I feel like he’s still more of a Hall of Very Good guy like Lance Berkman (similarly injury plagued in 2nd half of career) or Fred Lynn (if he only stayed with the Sawx…his stats at Fenway are insane – in the equivalent of 3 seasons at Fenway, he had a line of .347/.420/.601!!!)

  9. Elijah says:
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    I was a huge Piazza fan…His actual ‘catching’, that is blocking pitches, the plate, handling pitchers, etc. was not bad at all, about average imo. His big issue defensively was throwing out people stealing bases, other than that I always thought he was quite decent.

    • That seems to be the expert opinion on his catching – fine, except for throwing out basestealers. Probably the best FA/trade pickups the Mets ever made (Cone for Ed Hearn was pretty good too).

  10. Very nice read. Thank you. The only thing I disagree with is Murphy not being Hall worthy.

    • @bob@867-5309: Is that 3 Murphy votes from Razzball Nation? Was everyone on here raised on the teet of the ‘Superstation’ TBS? Are y’all going to tell me that the colorized version of Casablanca was better than the original?

      • Jay

        Jay says:
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        @Rudy Gamble: I have to say, I have no idea how someone can justify Murphy getting in. The peak alone is enough to keep him out of the running. I’m sure I could say the same thing about Rice, but that does not justify admitting players to the lowest denominator.

        Nothing beats original Casablanca, kid.

  11. Brad says:
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    The whole “realist” vs. “moralist” thing is a false dichotomy isn’t it? Whether you like it or not you don’t get to escape utilizing moral assumptions(they shouldn’t be punished for PEDs because the Hall ought not be concerned with a person’s moral value) and pushing for a moral system (the Hall must exclude moral infractions/questionable acts of judgement in favor of raw Baseball production) by acting like you are not making them or pushing them. I doubt you are explicitly doing either but it’s dishonest to act like there is not an ounce of moral judgment or consideration embedded within your own viewpoint. You cannot escape it. No one can.

    • @Brad: I was using ‘realist’ and ‘moralist’ as shorthand for what I thought was the widely accepted dichotomy between voters who will not vote for suspected or proven PED users vs. those that will consider voting for them.

      Do I think that PED use was moral? No, I do think they were cheating and that they knew they were cheating. Immorality 101. I think it was BS that the player’s union saw drug testing as a negotiating card when it was in the best interests of both players and owners (assuming an impartial testing system and due process for ‘positive’ cases).

      Given how widespread PED usage was and the impossibility of knowing who used, I’d rather the writers vote based on performance and, for those caught/admitted, it should be noted on their plaque.

  12. Jeff P says:
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    Sorry I’m late to the party, but how’s Jeff Kent, who’s historically top 5 second basement not a shoe in for the Hall?

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