October 26, 2014

Rating the 2012 Hall of Fame Candidates Based on Win Shares

December 12, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

One of the first items of business in baseball each year is the announcement of players elected to the Hall of Fame.  This leads to lots of speculation and a little analysis prior to the announcement which is scheduled forJanuary 9, 2012.

Many systems exist for evaluating player performance.  One such system, the Win Shares method, developed by Bill James in 2002, is a complex method for evaluating players which includes all aspects of performance – offense, defense and pitching.  James has stated that, “Historically, 400 Win Shares means absolute enshrinement in the Hall of Fame and 300 Win Shares makes a player more likely than not to be a Hall of Famer.  However, future standards may be different.  Players with 300-350 Win Shares in the past have generally gone into the Hall of Fame.  In the future, they more often will not”.

The 2012 class of Hall of Fame candidates consists of 14 holdovers and 13 players eligible for the first time.   Ten holdovers have over 300 Win Shares, Rafael Palmeiro with 394, Tim Raines 390, Jeff Bagwell 387, Barry Larkin 347, Mark McGwire 342, Fred McGriff 326, Alan Trammell 318, Larry Walker 307 and Edgar Martinez 305.  The only newcomer with over 300 Win Shares is Bernie Williams with 311.

In 2011, Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven were elected to the Hall.  Alomar received 90.0% of the votes in his second year on the ballot  Blyleven received 79.7% in his 14th year.  The 2011 ballot included 19 newcomers and 14 returning candidates.  Only 4 newcomers received enough votes (5.0%) to remain on the ballot (Jeff Bagwell, Larry Walker, Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez).  Dave Parker dropped off the ballot after falling short of election for 15 years.  Harold Baines dropped off the ballot after 5 years when he failed to get 5.0% of the vote.

The only holdovers to experience a significant increase in votes in 2011 were Barry Larkin who garnered 62.1% of the votes, up from 51.6% in 2010 and Tim Raines with 37.5% up from 30.4%.

The incoming class of Hall of Fame candidates this year is one of the thinnest in many years.  Bernie Williams is the only one with a legitimate chance of getting elected to the Hall and Tim Salmon is probably the only other one that will get enough votes to remain on the ballot.  This should open the door for Barry Larkin to get elected  and Jack Morris (53.5% in 2011) should also get a boost but probably won’t reach 75%.

The 2012 ballot is exceptionally short on pitchers with only 2 newcomers (Brad Radke and Terry Mulholland) and 2 holdovers (Morris and Lee Smith).

Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro have the numbers to be elected but remain tainted with the steroid cloud.  Voters are likely to wait until more is known about the extent of steroid usage before giving them a pass.  As a power hitter in what is called the steroid era, Jeff Bagwell’s vote total may also be affected although there is no evidence that he used steroids.

Following is a list of Win Shares for the 27 players on the ballot.  Players on the ballot for the first time are shown in bold.  Voting results for 2009, 2010 and 2011 are shown for the holdovers.

Player

Win Shares

2009 Votes

2009 Pct

2010 Votes

2010 Pct

2011 Votes

2011 Pct

Rafael Palmiero

394

64

11.0

Tim Raies

390

122

22.6

164

30.4

218

37.5

Jeff Bagwell

387

242

41.7

Barry Larkin

347

278

51.6

361

62.1

Mark McGwire

342

128

23.6

118

21.9

115

19.8

Fred McGriff

326

116

21.5

104

17.9

Alan Trammel

318

94

17.4

121

21.4

141

24.3

Bernie Williams

311

Larry Walker

307

Edgar Martinez

305

195

36.2

191

32.9

Dale Murphy

294

62

11.5

63

11.7

73

12.6

Don Mattingly

263

64

11.9

87

16.1

79

13.6

Juan Gonzalez

234

30

5.2

Tim Salmon

232

Jack Morris

225

237

44.0

282

52.3

310

53.5

Ruben Sierra

222

Lee Smith

198

240

44.5

255

47.3

263

45.3

Javier Lopez

194

Jeremy Burnitz

166

Brian Jordan

166

Eric Young

162

Brad Radke

157

Vinny Castilla

153

Phil Nevin

143

Bill Mueller

140

Tony Womack

119

Terry Mulholland             114

 

The last 18 players elected by the Baseball Writers have averaged 353 Win Shares, a figure exceeded by only Palmeiro, Raines and Bagwell on the ballot this year.

Player

Year

Win Shares

Dave Winfield

2001

415

Kirby Puckett

2001

281

Ozzie Smith

2002

325

Gary Carter

2003

337

Eddie Murray

2003

437

Paul Molitor

2004

414

Dennis Eckersley

2004

301

Wade Boggs

2005

394

Ryne Sandberg

2005

346

Bruce Sutter

2006

168

Cal Ripken

2007

427

Tony Gwynn

2007

398

Goose Gossage

2008

223

RickeyHenderson

2009

535

Jim Rice

2009

282

Andre Dawson

2010

340

Roberto Alomar

2011

375

Bert Blyleven

2011

339

Average Wins shares for the above players = 353

Win Shares are fundamentally a quantitative measure of a player’s accomplishments.  A measure of the quality of a player’s offensive performance is OPS+ which compares his OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging average) with the league average during his career.  An OPS+ of 120 suggests that his performance is 20% better than that of a league average player.  A similar approach (ERA+) can be used to compare a pitcher’s ERA against the league average during his career.

Following is a rank order of OPS+ and ERA+ for the 27 candidates on the 2011 ballot: 

Batter OPS+ Pitcher ERA+
Mark McGwire

162

Lee Smith

131

Jeff Bagwell

149

Brad Radke

113

Edgar Martinez

147

Jack Morris

105

Larry Walker

140

Terry Mulholland

94

Fred McGriff

134

Raphael Palmiero

132

Juan Gonzalez

132

Tim Salmon

128

Don Mattingly

127

Bernie Williams

125

Tim Raines

123

Dale Murphy

121

Barry Larkin

116

Phil Nevin

114

Javy Lopez

112

Jeremy Burnitz

111

Alan Trammel

110

Bill Mueller

109

Rubin Sierra

105

Brian Jordan

104

Vinny Castilla

95

Eric Young

92

Tony Womack

72

The Win Shares system favors players with long productive careers like Raines and Palmeiro, while OPS+ rewards strong offensive players who had shorter, more dominant careers like Martinezand Mattingly.  ERA+ favors relief pitchers since their ERAs are generally lower because they are not charged with runs scored by inherited runners.

 

Conclusions:

 

1.         Barry Larkin will be elected in 2012.

2.         Other holdovers like Morris and Bagwell will move up but fall short of the 75% required. Bagwell could move up to be in position to be elected at the same time as long-time teammate, Craig Biggio next year.

3.         McGwire and Palmeiro will gain some support but will remain way short of election.

4.         Among the newcomers, Williams and possibly Salmon are the only ones that will receive enough votes to remain on the ballot.

5.         The incoming class in 2013 is exceptionally strong – Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Sammy Sosa.

6.         There will not be a groundswell of support for Tony Womack and Terry Mulholland.

If I had a ballot, I would cast votes for Bagwell, Larkin, Raines, McGwire and Trammell.

Comments

3 Responses to “Rating the 2012 Hall of Fame Candidates Based on Win Shares”
  1. David says:

    It would have been nice to see some sort of peak-weighted analysis here, rather than just career totals, but I know you were working from the James quote which discusses total in particular. Regardless, I would mostly agree with you, except your conclusion. I would also vote for your five. But I have no problem voting for the ‘roiders (Palmeiro), I’d probably vote for Walker, I’d DEFINITELY vote for Martinez, and possibly Mcgriff. I’d probably also vote for Brad Radke – not because he deserves enshrinement, but because he’s a personal favorite, and he deserves one vote.

  2. Austin says:

    McGwire, but not Palmeiro?

  3. Bill Miller says:

    Nicely done. I would vote for Bagwell, Larkin, Raines and Trammell. I might also consider voting for Edgar Martinez and Larry Walker. I am in no hurry to vote for the ‘Roid users. Next years class of Bonds, Sosa, Clemens, etc., should prove interesting as far as the vote totals they each receive.
    Bill

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