December 2, 2023

The Class of 2010 – the New Hall of Famers

October 29, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

At the beginning of the 2010 baseball season, there were eight active major league players who had already earned obvious Hall of Fame numbers during their careers.  Here are those players: Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Ken Griffey, Jr., Chipper Jones, Derek Jeter, Jim Thome, Jason Giambi and Mariano Rivera.

By the end of the 2010 season, four others had joined their ranks: Albert Pujols, Bobby Abreu, Billy Wagner and Roy Halladay.  And Vlad Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman had come very close.

These are the conclusions of the CAWS Career Gauge – which attempts to identify those players who had the best careers in the major leagues.  The Gauge (which is based on Bill James’ Win Shares system) has established benchmarks for each position (e.g., shortstop) as well as for starting pitchers and relief pitchers – to determine whether a player has posted obvious HOF numbers during his career.  A player has to have played for at least ten full seasons to be eligible for consideration.  For example, 2010 was Albert Pujols’ tenth season.

Bill James’ Win Shares system is the most comprehensive tool available to understand how good a season a player had.  It includes offensive and defensive contributions and adjusts for all relevant factors.  The CAWS Career Gauge (Career Assessment/Win Shares) uses win shares to measure how good a career a player has had.  The CAWS Gauge is based on a player’s core value (his ten best seasons) plus additional credit for his other seasons.  It is an objective tool which attempts to assess career value.  And it can be very handy in the debate as to who belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Let’s take a look at the four players who achieved HOF numbers during the 2010 season.

Albert Pujols

As mentioned above, Pujols completed his tenth season in the big leagues in 2010 and became eligible for a CAWS’ ranking.  And, as any fan of the game knows, Albert has already established himself as one of the greatest players to have ever donned a uniform.  In fact, the CAWS Gauge has him ranked as the #19 best position player of the modern era (since 1920) – just ahead of Joe DiMaggio and just behind Jimmie Foxx.  He is the third best first baseman ever – behind only Foxx and Lou Gehrig.  Here are their numbers.  The first number is career win shares, the second is core value (the win shares for the ten best seasons) and the third is the CAWS score [CAWS = CV + .25(CWS – CV)].

Player Years CWS CV CAWS
1. Lou Gehrig 1923-1939 489 384 410
2. Jimmie Foxx
1925-1945 435
3. Albert Pujols
2001- 348 348 348
4. Willie McCovey 1959-1980 408 285 316

Pujols should be able to pass Foxx in a year or two without any problem. But whether he can pass Lou Gehrig is another matter altogether. Only time will tell about that one.

Bobby Abreu

Where Albert Pujols is a true baseball superstar, Bobby Abreu is a very good ballplayer.  He has played fifteen seasons in the major leagues for four different teams.  He has a lifetime batting average of .296, an on-base percentage of .400 and a slugging percentage of .488 – some very impressive numbers.  And in thirteen of those fifteen seasons he played in more than 150 games.

He is a prime example of a solid player who contributes significantly on a day-to-day basis to his ball club.  His career is reminiscent of a small group of players who have posted HOF numbers during their careers but have not been inducted into the Hall as yet: Ron Santo, Will Clark, Darrell Evans, Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker.  Does he have the flair or the reputation to be elected to the Hall of Fame?  I do not know the answer to that.  Who can predict what the writers will do?  But what I do know is that Abreu has put together obvious HOF numbers.

The CAWS benchmark for a right fielder is 280.  Bobby Abreu is one of only twelve right fielders since 1920 to have satisfied that benchmark (for obvious HOF numbers).  And consider that Abreu is one of only ninety-nine (99) position players in the last ninety (90) years to post HOF numbers.  That is pretty select company.  (Vlad Guerrero with a CAWS score of 279 should become the 100th player to do it in 2011.)  Take a look at how Abreu’s numbers compare to those of two outfielders who have been inducted recently into the Hall of Fame: Andre Dawson and Jim Rice.

Bobby Abreu
332 266 283
Andre Dawson
Jim Rice
282 233 245

Of course, neither Andre Dawson nor Jim Rice achieved HOF numbers during their careers. You will note that Abreu’s core value of 266 is significantly better than that of Dawson or Rice. And it is that CV that really distinguishes Bobby Abreu as a player who has posted HOF numbers during his career.

Billy Wagner

How do you determine whether a relief pitcher has Hall of Fame numbers?  The CAWS Career Gauge suggests that if a pitcher has a CAWS score of 150 with fewer than 1500 innings pitched then that pitcher has HOF numbers.  How difficult is it to do this?  Only five pitchers have ever accomplished the feat.  Here they are (IP is innings pitched).

Mariano Rivera 1150 241 175 192
Lee Smith 1289 198 152 164
Bruce Sutter 1042 168 163 164
Billy Wagner
903 182 151 159
Dan Quisenberry 1043 157 155 156

Bruce Sutter is in the Hall of Fame. Lee Smith is still on the BBWAA ballot and has a shot at election in the next few years. Mariano appears to be a lock for induction into the Hall when he becomes eligible. The CAWS Gauge indicates that Billy Wagner does indeed have HOF numbers.

Roy Halladay

How do you determine whether a starting pitcher has Hall of Fame numbers?  The CAWS Career Gauge suggests three ways:

  1. A CAWS score of 235.  Only twenty-five pitchers have done this in the modern era (since 1920).
  2. 300 career win shares.  Only four pitchers have done this (who did not achieve #1): Tom Glavine, Nolan Ryan, Don Sutton and Dennis Eckersley.
  3. A CAWS score of 180 in fewer than 2400 innings.  Only four pitchers have done this in a full career in the modern era: Sandy Koufax, Dizzy Dean, Hoyt Wilhelm and Goose Gossage.  (Mariano has also done it – check above.)

To accomplish #3 above at any point in his career means that the pitcher in question is very special.  And so, the CAWS Gauge suggests that if a pitcher has a CAWS score of 180 in fewer than 2400 innings at any point in his career he has demonstrated Hall of Fame numbers.  So, for example, Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux both accomplished this after eleven seasons while Nolan Ryan never achieved this distinction.

Aside from some of the pitchers who satisfied #1 above (like Clemens and Maddux), I have found only two others who have achieved this distinction (at the end of a certain number of full seasons): Pedro Martinez and Roy Halladay.  Both of these pitchers achieved this distinction after thirteen seasons.

Pedro Martinez 2297 224 200 206
Mariano Rivera
1150 241 175 192
Sandy Koufax 2324 194 190 191
Hoyt Wilhelm 2254 256 168 190
Goose Gossage 1809 223 173 186
Roy Halladay 2297 194 183 186
Dizzy Dean 1967 181 180 180

You will note that all four of these pitchers who have been eligible for the Hall have been elected.

Therefore, on the basis of the 180/2400 benchmark for pitchers, the CAWS Career Gauge suggests that at the end of the 2010 season Roy Halladay had already posted HOF numbers (just as Pedro had by the end of the 2004 season).

If anyone would like to get a free e-copy of Professor Hoban’s 100-page monograph: A HOF HANDBOOK: Who Belongs and Who Does Not,  just drop a note to

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