The Fantasy Baseball Hall of Fame (in conjunction with Razzball.com) is a new website dedicated to recognizing the accomplishments of Major League ballplayers during the “fantasy era” (1980-present). The greatest of these players will be elected to the Fantasy Baseball Hall of Fame.
First up are the second basemen inductees.
Enshrining the correct second basemen into the Fantasy Baseball Hall of Fame is perhaps the most difficult set of selections we’ll have to make. As a general rule of thumb, any player that accumulates 65 or more FBHOF points is virtually guaranteed to be inducted. Think of it this way – any player who averages 13 points during their peak fives seasons is elected. Alternatively, if the peak score averages is less, the player can still be elected if they accumulate a large number of “fantasy worthy” seasons, each of which provides a 1% bonus to the core score.
Only two second basemen have accumulated the magical 65 since 1980 – Ryne Sandberg and Roberto Alomar. Craig Biggio comes awfully close at 64.6, followed by Alfonso Soriano at 61.2 before it drops off precipitously after that. Is that it? Can that be all of the great second basemen over the past 27 years?
Jeff Kent comes to mind, but he only finished as the best second bagger once, in 2000 when he hit 33 HR, drove in 125, and batted .334. He recorded three other Top-2 finishes but one of those years was 2004 when he batted .289, with 27 HR, 96 R, and 107 RBI. Good numbers for sure, but is that worthy of hall induction as a 4th best year? I decided that it did not and his FBHOF score of 8.7 that year back this up. He was good for a middle infielder, but the middle infield crop was weak as a whole, lessening the accomplishment.
Julio Franco scores relatively high as well, almost entirely due to his 1988 and 1991 campaigns where he finished 1st among his peers. His peak value is ruined though, since as his 5th best season was 1997 when he had an unspectacular finish of 18th at second, and worse yet, 167th overall.
Last one before getting back to the Hall of Famers. Chuck Knoblauch is also on the bubble, finishing as a top-4 second basemen four times, and placed 6th an additional two. That is a solid 6 season stretch, one in which he averaged 9.3 FBHOF per season, which is within the range of possibility’s for election when considered longevity. But Knoblauch was finished in 2001 and out of baseball after the 2002 season, before he turned 34.
Sandberg was the no-brainer choice for induction. His FBHOF score is best of any second basement, and best of any middle infielder not nicknamed A-Rod. Ditto his Peak Score, and his Career Total tops all second basemen as well. “Ryno” is simply the best fantasy second basemen we’ve seen. The life-long Cub batted 2nd or 3rd throughout most of his career, recording power and speed numbers not common for any infield position, let alone second base. He has six seasons of 25+ home runs under his belt and seven seasons of 25+ stolen bases. Additionally, Sandberg scored 100 or more runs seven times and reached the 80 RBI milestone six times, achieving 100 on the nose twice.
1985 and 1990 where his top two seasons, with the latter being the best ever for a second basemen; ’85 was great as well, registering as the 3rd best ever:
1990 – .306 AVG, 116 R, 40 HR, 100 RBI, 25 SB
1985 – .305 AVG, 113 R, 26 HR, 83 RBI, 54 SB
Finally, it also needs to be pointed out that he finished best at his position 5 times and in the top-5 and additional seven times, giving him 12 very good seasons. In fact, in only the strike shortened 1994 season did he fail to be considered a fantasy worthy second basemen.
Next up is Alomar who was an all around great player for many, many years. Getting the specifics out of the way – among second basemen, he’s second to Sandberg in FBHOF Points, Peak Score, and Career Score. He does top Sandberg in one area though – his seven seasons of scoring at least 10.0 FBHOF points is best in class. Additionally, he’s recorded the 4th and 5th best seasons ever at the position.
What kind of a fantasy player was Alomar? He is the prototype for owners looking for it all: 11 seasons of batting .295 or higher, 9 seasons of double digit home runs, he scored 100 or more runs 6 times (and reached 80 another 5), had five 90+ RBI campaigns, and stole at least 20 bases in 10 different seasons (swiping 49+ on three occasions).
This certainly sounds as if Alomar was perhaps a bit better than Sandberg, but we need to adjust for context. Sandberg’s numbers made him 1st overall (not just for second base) two times (1984, 1990) and he also ranked 3rd overall in 1985. Alomar never finished first and has only one top-5 finish in his career, a truly wonderful 1993 season that saw him place 2nd overall (.326 AVG, 109 R, 17 HR, 93 RBI, 55 SB).
Our last inductee is Biggio, who also recorded several good seasons as a catcher, which counts towards his totals listed here. Consider second base his primary position, but players are elected on their overall value. Biggio finished the best at his position three times (more than Alomar, less than Sandberg). He also has two seconds – one of them behind the plate.
The problem, if you can call it a problem and have him still enshrined, is that he is one season short of a clear cut induction. His top FBHOF scores: 13.2, 13.1, 13.1, 10.2, 8.1. That last is short of almost all other inductees and is dragged down by the fact it was when he was catching. His 1989 season was great for a catcher of the time (12.9 FBHOF points when looking solely among catchers) but overall that equated to under 5 straight-up points, which hurts.
Still, when the core metric is peak 5-year value it is hard not to elect someone whose top finishes look like this:
Though his FBHOF score was 64.6, I felt the finishes listed above were enough to justify inclusion. He’s in.
Leaving in Biggio means of course, that Soriano is on the outside looking in. This was a difficult decision, one exacerbated by the fact it leaves us with just three hall of fame second basemen – still hard to fathom in a 27 year period.
In all likelihood Soriano will be elected in years to come as he increases his eligible seasons beyond the eight he currently sits with. Granted, once he plays more games as an outfielder his competition becomes much greater, but his core years of 2002 (15.4 pts), 2003 (13.4 points), and 2006 (12.5 points) are a great stepping stone. As soon as his 5th best year (35th overall finish, 8.6 pts in 2007) is pushed down the ladder, replaced by a more prolific one, he’ll likely be enshrined immediately after the season.