December 20, 2014

The 2011 HOF Ballot – How Many REAL Hall of Famers?

December 1, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

The BBWAA 2011 Hall of Fame Ballot contains the names of thirty-three players that the baseball writers may vote for if they feel they belong in the Hall of Fame.  Of the thirty-three players, I view sixteen position players and four pitchers as “serious candidates.”  They are mentioned below.

As we all know, the writers will vote for the candidates based on many different reasons – some of which will be objective and some subjective.  But here is the question that I will address here:  Based only on the numbers that these players achieved during their seasons in the major leagues, how many of them belong in the Hall of Fame?

Please look carefully at this question.  I have NOT asked:  Who belongs in the HOF? That question is open to many subjective answers.  What I have asked is how many of these players posted what could be considered obvious HOF numbers during their careers?

The CAWS Career Gauge (Career Assessment/Win Shares) is based on win shares.  It assesses a player’s career contributions by first focusing on the player’s Core Value (his ten best seasons).  It then accounts for a player’s longevity by awarding points for win shares earned outside of the player’s ten best seasons.

The Gauge suggests that nine of these players posted obvious HOF numbers during their careers.  Seven of these were position players and two were pitchers.  Of these nine players, two are on the ballot for the first time.  The position players are: Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Roberto Alomar, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Larkin and Alan Trammell. The pitchers are: Bert Blyleven and Lee Smith.

At the end of the 2010 season, there were only one hundred forty (140) players since 1920 who had accumulated HOF numbers according to the CAWS Gauge.  That is not a big number.  So, to have nine of these players on the ballot at the same time is unusual. But, of course, that is because seven of these players have been on the ballot previously and have not been elected.  The BBWAA has been too busy electing players like Jim Rice and Andre Dawson (who do not have HOF numbers) rather than rewarding those who do.  Only two of the nine players with HOF numbers are on the ballot for the first time: Jeff Bagwell and Rafael Palmeiro.

Please take note.  I am NOT saying that only nine of the players on the ballot deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.  That would be a different statement.  Since many subjective factors are used by different people to assess HOF “worthiness,” there may be other players besides these nine who some may feel deserve induction into the Hall (for reasons other than their career numbers).

What I AM saying is that these nine players deserve to be in the Hall of Fame if we look ONLY at what they did on the playing field.

The Position Players with Hall of Fame Numbers

According to the CAWS Gauge (based on win shares), there have been only 100 position players in the modern era (since 1920) who have posted obvious HOF numbers during their careers.  And these seven players are among those one hundred.  Here they are in alphabetical order.

1. Roberto Alomar  – According to the CAWS Gauge, there are only four second basemen in the modern era who have put up better numbers than Roberto Alomar.  They are Rogers Hornsby, Joe Morgan, Craig Biggio and Charley Gehringer.  That is very select company.  All are in the HOF except for Biggio who is not yet eligible.  Roberto Alomar got 73.7% of the vote in 2010, his first year on the ballot.  He should be elected to the Hall on this his second year of eligibility.

2. Jeff Bagwell  – Among first basemen in the modern era, Jeff Bagwell ranks as #7.  Those ahead of him are: Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Albert Pujols, Willie McCovey, Dick Allen and Eddie Murray.  That ranks him ahead of Johnny Mize and Harmon Killebrew – to name just two other great first basemen.  When compared to all the position players, Bagwell is the #36 ranked player of the modern era.  He deserves to be elected to the Hall of fame in this his first year on the ballot.

3. Barry Larkin  – According to the CAWS Gauge, through the 2010 season, there are only seven shortstops in the modern era who have achieved better numbers on the playing field than Barry Larkin.  They are Alex Rodriguez (yes, he has still played more games at short than at third), Arky Vaughan, Robin Yount, Cal Ripkin, Luke Appling, Derek Jeter and Joe Cronin.  Of course, all of these are in the Hall except for ARod and Jeter who are still active.  Barry Larkin got 51.6% of the votes in 2010, his first year of eligibility.  That means that he should be elected at some point.  Let’s hope that is the case.

4. Mark McGwire  - There are only nine first basemen in the modern era who had better numbers on the playing field than Mark McGwire.  They are (in order) Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Frank Thomas, Willie McCovey, Dick Allen, Eddie Murray, Jeff Bagwell, Johnny Mize and Harmon Killebrew.  All of these who have been eligible have been elected to the HOF except Dick Allen.  Of course, McGwire suffers from the “steroids stain.”  And, judging from how the voting has gone in his first few years of eligibility (never more than 26% of the vote), there is no reason to believe that Big Mac will ever be elected to the Hall.

5. Rafael Palmeiro -  Palmeiro certainly has Hall of Fame numbers.  He played for twenty seasons in the majors and is just one of a handful of players who have both 3000 hits and 500 home runs during their careers.  Unfortunately, like Mark McGwire, he suffers from the “steroids stain.”  And there is no logical reason to think that the writers will vote for his election if they will not vote for McGwire.  It looks like Rafael will never get into the Hall despite having the numbers.

6. Tim Raines  – According to the CAWS Gauge, in the modern era, only eight left fielders have put together better numbers on the playing field than Tim Raines.  They are (in order) Barry Bonds, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Pete Rose, Rickey Henderson, Carl Yastrzemski, Gary Sheffield and Manny Ramirez.  All of these players who have been eligible are in the Hall of Fame.  During his career, Raines was never a “big name player.”  In the 2010 election, he got 30.4% of the vote.  This did represent an increase over 2009, so that is positive.  But at this point, it is very uncertain whether he will ever be elected to his rightful place in the Hall.

7. Alan Trammell  - In the modern era, there have been only fourteen shortstops who have put together HOF numbers on the playing field according to the CAWS Gauge.  We have mentioned eight of these above when discussing Barry Larkin.  The others are: Ernie Banks, PeeWee Reese, Lou Boudreau, Alan Trammell, Miguel Tejada and Ozzie Smith.  All of these other players who have been eligible are in the Hall.  Only Alan Trammell among this elite group has been eligible and has not been elected.  It is true that his credentials are not as strong as the six others on this list.  But he still has the numbers and deserves election.

Here are the numbers for these seven players with Hall of Fame numbers.  The first number is career win shares, the second is the core value (win shares for the ten best seasons) and the third is the CAWS career score.  [CAWS = CV + .25(CWS – CV)]

Player CWS CV CAWS
Jeff Bagwell
388 287 312
Tim Raines
390 275 304
Roberto Alomar
375 278 302
Mark McGwire
342 283 298
Rafael Palmeiro 387 257 290
Barry Larkin
347 258 280
Alan Trammell
318 238 258

Of the other position players on the 2010 Ballot, none has HOF numbers. Here are the numbers for some of those players.

Player CWS CV CAWS
Dave Parker
327 248 268
Fred McGriff
326 240 262
John Olerud
301 239 255
Larry Walker
311 234 253
Don Mattingly 263 241 247
Dale Murphy
294 228 245
Edgar Martinez
305 222 243
Harold Baines
307 196 224
Juan Gonzalez
234 203 211

As you can see, Dave Parker and Fred McGriff are the highest ranked position players on the ballot who do not have Hall of Fame numbers.  Check out the core values here.  It would be very unusual for a first baseman or an outfielder to post HOF numbers (a CAWS score of 280) without a CV of at least 250.  And you will note that none of these players reached that mark.

The Pitchers with Hall of Fame Numbers

According to the CAWS Gauge, in the modern era, only 40 pitchers have accumulated HOF numbers on the playing field.  And two of those pitchers are on this ballot.  Here they are.

1. Bert Blyleven -  According to the CAWS Gauge, Bert Blyleven is the #14 most effective starting pitcher of the modern era.  His numbers put him just behind Randy Johnson and Bob Feller and ahead of such Hall of Famers as Early Wynn, Juan Marichal, Don Drysdale and Nolan Ryan.  It is inconceivable to serious baseball analysts how he could be on the ballot for thirteen years and not yet be elected to the Hall.  However, there does seem to be good news.  In 2010, he got 74.2% of the vote.  So we can expect that he will be elected to the Hall in 2011.

2. Lee Smith -  The CAWS Career Gauge suggests that there are only five “true relief pitchers” (maximum of 1500 innings pitched) who have obvious Hall of Fame numbers.  Here they are (in order): Mariano Rivera, Lee Smith, Bruce Sutter, Billy Wagner, and Dan Quisenberry.  Lee Smith is in very select company here.  Sutter is already in the Hall and Mariano and Wagner are still active.  (Dennis Eckersley, Hoyt Wilhelm and Goose Gossage also have HOF numbers but do not fit into this category of pitchers.)  In 2010, Smith got 47.3% of the votes in his eighth year on the ballot.  He is creeping up slowly.  Let’s hope that the voters see the light soon and elect him to the Hall of Fame where he belongs.

None of the other pitchers on the ballot has HOF numbers.  Kevin Brown is the highest ranking according to the CAWS Gauge and Jack Morris appears to be the only other serious candidate.  But the CAWS score of each of these two players falls well short of the 235 benchmark for starting pitchers.  By contrast, Bert Blyleven has a CAWS score of 248.

Player CWS CV CAWS
Bert Blyleven
339 218 248
Kevin Brown
241 193 205
Jack Morris
225 172 185

Even though neither has HOF numbers, notice how much better Kevin Brown looks when compared to Jack Morris.  In 2010, Jack Morris got 52.3% of the votes in his eleventh year on the ballot.  How is it possible that a pitcher who is not even remotely close to HOF numbers could get that many votes?  Just another example of voters not doing their homework (a la Jim Rice) – voting with their hearts instead of with their heads.

John Franco was a relief pitcher and a good one.  As such, he would have to reach the CAWS benchmark of 150 (in fewer than 1500 innings) to have obvious HOF numbers.  He fell just short of that.  Only five pitchers have ever done this.

Player CWS CV CAWS
Mariano Rivera 241 175 192
Lee Smith 198 152 164
Bruce Sutter 168 163 164
Billy Wagner 182 151 159
Dan Quisenberry 157 155 156
John Franco
183 128 142

In summary, Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar should be elected to the Hall in 2011 based on their 2010 ballot results (both got better than 70% in 2010).  And both of these players deserve a spot in Cooperstown.

I also feel that Jeff Bagwell should be elected in his first time on the ballot.  But who knows how the writers will vote.  As we all know, it is not always the deserving players who get elected to the Hall of Fame.

Comments

2 Responses to “The 2011 HOF Ballot – How Many REAL Hall of Famers?”
  1. Wilfredo says:

    Hi there!
    To be honest, I don’t think that a player like John Olerud should be way ahead of some great players such as: Edgar Martinez, Larry Walker, Don Mattingly and others. In the first place he never won an MVP, comparing him to Juan Gonzalez who won two of those memorable awards. I’m not saying that John Olerud was not a great player. He was an excellent player and human being and he won a batting crown as well too and I guess world champion a couple of times with the jays as well, but he is not better than those guys you mentioned before on the list above. To me John olerud was an outstanding player but he have not achieved HOF numbers.

  2. Put ‘em all in. After all, since the Veterans’ Committee voted in guys like Hafey, Haines and Rixey, it’s only the Hall of the Very Good anyway.

    Hell, Arnold Rothstein and Hal Chase probably did more for baseball than those VC guys did anyway. Without those guys, the 1920s would have looked a lot like the 1910s.

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