December 4, 2023

The BBWAA Report Card for the 21st Century – Part 2

July 4, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

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.  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  B+  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 – Ten Players Inducted – 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.  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.  [CAWS = CV + .25(CWS – CV)]

Dave Winfield 415 259 298
Kirby Puckett
281 247 256

Dave Winfield was an easy choice for the voters.  He had the #59 best career numbers among position players in the century and is the #9 best right fielder – just ahead of Roberto Clemente and Tony Gwynn.  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 – cut short by an eye problem.  But the CAWS Gauge suggests that he does indeed have HOF numbers.  He is one of only eleven position players during the century to have a short but great career – defined to be a CAWS score of 255 or better in fewer than 1800 games played.  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.  Kirby was also a first ballot inductee into the Hall even though his overall numbers were nowhere near as impressive as Winfield’s.


In 2002, the BBWAA elected only one player to the Hall of Fame and that was Ozzie Smith.  Here is his CAWS line.

Ozzie Smith
325 226 251

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 – such as his thirteen Gold Gloves at short.  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.  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.  Both of these were good choices.  Here are their lines.

Eddie Murray
437 273 314
Gary Carter
337 263 282

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.  At the time of his election, the only two other players to have accomplished that feat were Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.  Murray had the #39 best career numbers among position players in the century.  In addition, he is the #6 best first baseman during the same time period.  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.  He played for nineteen seasons (19) and he had the #4 best career numbers among catchers since 1901.  The only catchers ranked ahead of him by the CAWS Gauge are Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench and Mike Piazza.  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.  Both players were elected on their first time on the ballot.

Paul Molitor was an easy choice for the writers.  He played for twenty-one (21) seasons and had more than 3000 hits (3319 to be exact).  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).  He had the #47 best career numbers among position players in the century.

Paul Molitor
414 270 306

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.  He is one of only twenty-seven (27) pitchers since 1901 to accumulate 300 win shares during his career.  And, of course, that accomplishment alone signifies HOF numbers.

Dennis Eckersley
301 183 213

The fact that Eckersley was a first-ballot inductee into Cooperstown reflects how well the writers thought of him.

2005  -  Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg

In 2005, the BBWAA elected Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg to the Hall of Fame.  Both players have obvious HOF numbers according to the CAWS Gauge.

Wade Boggs
394 291 317
Ryne Sandberg
346 278 295

Wade Boggs was a first-ballot inductee as he should have been.  Boggs had 3010 hits in his eighteen-year career and a career batting average of .328.  He is the #4 best third baseman to ever play the game – behind only Mike Schmidt, Eddie Mathews and George Brett.  And he ranks as the #35 best position player of the century.

Ryne Sandberg was elected to the Hall on his third try.  He had the #8 best career among second basemen in the 20th century – just ahead of Rod Carew and Frankie Frisch.  His career ranks as the #63 best among all position players – just behind Roberto Clemente and just ahead of Tony Gwynn.

2006  -  Bruce Sutter

Bruce Sutter was elected to the Hall in 2006 on his 13th try.  Clearly, this was not an easy choice for the writers.  Sutter was a “pure reliever” – having pitched only 1042 innings during his career.  And, like designated hitters, relievers are always going to be a tough call for the Hall of Fame.  But the CAWS Gauge suggests that Sutter definitely has HOF numbers.

Consider the following statement.  There have only been five pitchers in the 20th century who have achieved a CAWS score of 150 while pitching fewer than 1500 innings.  Here are those pitchers.

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

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.  Unfortunately, this was not true for those players elected from 2007 to 2011.  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.

Mike Hoban
Professor Emeritus – City U of NY
Author of A GOOD CAWS: A Hall of Fame Handbook (2011)


3 Responses to “The BBWAA Report Card for the 21st Century – Part 2”
  1. David says:

    Good article, and good series so far. I guess what is interesting to me is that the “grading” is only based on the players who WERE elected. But what about the players who SHOULD have been, but weren’t? For example, if the BBWAA elects 10 players in a decade, and 9 of them have a CAWS score high enough, they get a 90%, and an A-. That’s none too shabby. But what if there were 20 players with CAWS scores high enough to be elected? In that case, the BBWAA only elected 45% of the appropriate candidates in the first place, and that’s a HORRIBLE ratio. So I just feel like we’re only getting one side of the story so far, and I would love to hear the other side one of these days.

  2. MIKE HOBAN says:


    Thanks for the note. You have a very good point. And, as a teacher for 48 years, you would think that I should have thought of that. Perhaps I will consider a Part 4 – taking into consideration those players who have been on the ballot since 2001 who have HOF numbers and have NOT been elected – like Alan Trammell and, more recently, Tim Raines.


  3. Mike Lynch says:

    Not to put more on your plate, Mike, but I think that’s an excellent idea! I, too, would like to see a list of players who deserve to be enshrined based on their CAWS scores.

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