The BBWAA Report Card for the 21st Century â€“ Part 2
In Part 1 of this series, I indicated that the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) has been quite successful since 2001 in their selection of major league players for induction into the Hall of Fame.Â Of the eighteen inductees from 2001 through 2011, sixteen do indeed have Hall of Fame numbers according to the strict benchmarks of the CAWS Career Gauge.
So, the writers have earned a Â B+Â for their 89% success rate from 2001 to 2011.
In Part 2 and 3, we will take a look at each of these eighteen players and see how each is viewed by the CAWS Gauge.
2001 to 2006 â€“ Ten Players Inducted â€“ 100% Have HOF Numbers
In 2001, the BBWAA elected Dave Winfield and Kirby Puckett to the Hall of Fame.
Here are the numbers for these players.Â The first number is career win shares, the second is core value (the sum of the win shares in the ten best seasons) and the third is the CAWS career score.Â [CAWS = CV + .25(CWS â€“ CV)]
Dave Winfield was an easy choice for the voters.Â He had the #59 best career numbers among position players in the century and is the #9 best right fielder â€“ just ahead of Roberto Clemente and Tony Gwynn.Â His numbers were so impressive that he was elected on his first time on the ballot.
Kirby Puckett was not such an obvious choice because he had a relatively brief career â€“ cut short by an eye problem.Â But the CAWS Gauge suggests that he does indeed have HOF numbers.Â He is one of only eleven position players during the century to have a short but great career â€“ defined to be a CAWS score of 255 or better in fewer than 1800 games played.Â I should add that all eleven of the players who achieved this distinction are in the Hall of Fame: Joe DiMaggio, Elmer Flick, Earl Averill, Hank Greenberg, Lou Boudreau, Bill Terry, Larry Doby, Jackie Robinson, Mickey Cochrane, Kirby Puckett and Bill Dickey.Â Kirby was also a first ballot inductee into the Hall even though his overall numbers were nowhere near as impressive as Winfieldâ€™s.
In 2002, the BBWAA elected only one player to the Hall of Fame and that was Ozzie Smith.Â Here is his CAWS line.
Ozzie Smith is considered by many observers to be the greatest defensive shortstop in baseball history and there is much evidence to support that claim â€“ such as his thirteen Gold Gloves at short.Â The CAWS Gauge has a benchmark of CAWS = 250 for a shortstop to have HOF numbers and as you can see, Ozzie has just exceeded that mark.Â For the writers, Ozzie was evidently a no-brainer since he was elected on the first ballot with 92% of the vote.
In 2003, the BBWAA elected two players to the Hall, Eddie Murray and Gary Carter.Â Both of these were good choices.Â Here are their lines.
Eddie Murray was an easy choice for the Hall of Fame since he was a true superstar with over 3000 hits and 500 home runs.Â At the time of his election, the only two other players to have accomplished that feat were Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.Â Murray had the #39 best career numbers among position players in the century.Â In addition, he is the #6 best first baseman during the same time period.Â Clearly, the writers had no problem here since Eddie was elected on his first time on the ballot.
Gary Carter was inducted by the writers on his sixth year on the ballot.Â He played for nineteen seasons (19) and he had the #4 best career numbers among catchers since 1901. Â The only catchers ranked ahead of him by the CAWS Gauge are Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench and Mike Piazza.Â He certainly had HOF numbers and deserves his place in Cooperstown.
In 2004, two deserving players were elected to the Hall by the writers: Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley.Â Both players were elected on their first time on the ballot.
Paul Molitor was an easy choice for the writers.Â He played for twenty-one (21) seasons and had more than 3000 hits (3319 to be exact).Â He is one of only two designated hitters to have Hall of Fame numbers according to the CAWS Career Gauge (Frank Thomas is the other).Â He had the #47 best career numbers among position players in the century.
Only forty-one position players in the 20th century have earned 400 win shares in their careers and Paul Molitor is one of them.
Dennis Eckersley was another easy choice for the writers.Â He is one of only twenty-seven (27) pitchers since 1901 to accumulate 300 win shares during his career.Â And, of course, that accomplishment alone signifies HOF numbers.
The fact that Eckersley was a first-ballot inductee into Cooperstown reflects how well the writers thought of him.
2005Â -Â Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg
In 2005, the BBWAA elected Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg to the Hall of Fame.Â Both players have obvious HOF numbers according to the CAWS Gauge.
Wade Boggs was a first-ballot inductee as he should have been.Â Boggs had 3010 hits in his eighteen-year career and a career batting average of .328.Â He is the #4 best third baseman to ever play the game â€“ behind only Mike Schmidt, Eddie Mathews and George Brett.Â And he ranks as the #35 best position player of the century.
Ryne Sandberg was elected to the Hall on his third try.Â He had the #8 best career among second basemen in the 20th century â€“ just ahead of Rod Carew and Frankie Frisch.Â His career ranks as the #63 best among all position players â€“ just behind Roberto Clemente and just ahead of Tony Gwynn.
2006Â -Â Bruce Sutter
Bruce Sutter was elected to the Hall in 2006 on his 13th try.Â Clearly, this was not an easy choice for the writers.Â Sutter was a â€œpure relieverâ€ â€“ having pitched only 1042 innings during his career.Â And, like designated hitters, relievers are always going to be a tough call for the Hall of Fame.Â But the CAWS Gauge suggests that Sutter definitely has HOF numbers.
Consider the following statement.Â There have only been five pitchers in the 20th century who have achieved a CAWS score of 150 while pitching fewer than 1500 innings.Â Here are those pitchers.
The CAWS Career Gauge suggests that all five of these relievers have the numbers to justify induction into the Hall of Fame.
So, all ten of the BBWAA inductees from 2001 to 2006 had the numbers to warrant election to the Hall according to the CAWS Gauge.Â Unfortunately, this was not true for those players elected from 2007 to 2011.Â Only six of these eight players had the numbers.
In Part 3 of this series, we will look at these eight players.
Thanks for your time.
Professor Emeritus â€“ City U of NY
Author of A GOOD CAWS: A Hall of Fame Handbook (2011)