December 5, 2023

The BBWAA Report Card for the 21st Century – Part 3

July 8, 2011 by · 2 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.

In Part 2, we looked at the ten players inducted by the writers from 2001 through 2006.  All ten of those players did have Hall of Fame numbers according to the CAWS Career Gauge.

In Part 3, we will take a look at the eight players elected to the Hall by the writers from 2007 through 2011.

2007 to 2011 – Eight Players Inducted – 6 Hits and 2 Misses


In 2007, the BBWAA had a relatively easy task.  They elected both Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn on the first time on the ballot for each of them.  And the vote was overwhelming: 99% for Ripken and 98% for Gwynn.  Of course, both players had very obvious HOF numbers.

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)]

Cal Ripken Jr.
427 276 314
Tony Gwynn
398 269 294

Cal Ripken Jr was one of the greatest shortstops of the 20th century.  He ranks as the #4 shortstop behind only Honus Wagner, Alex Rodriguez and Arky Vaughan.  And he had the #40 best career numbers among all position players since 1901.  He really was a no-brainer for the BBWAA.

Tony Gwynn was an equally easy choice for induction into the Hall.  In his twenty seasons with San Diego, he batted .338 and led the National League in batting average eight times.  He is the #11 right fielder of the century – right behind Roberto Clemente.  And his career numbers rank him as #64 among all position players since 1901.


In 2008, Rich (Goose) Gossage was elected to the Hall by the writers in his ninth year on the ballot.  Although he was not an obvious choice, the CAWS Career Gauge suggests that Goose definitely had HOF numbers.

Consider the following.  Since 1901, only eight pitchers have managed a CAWS score of 180 with fewer than 2400 innings pitched.  Here they are.

Pedro Martinez
2297 224 200 206
Mariano Rivera
1150 241 175 192
Addie Joss
2327 191 191 191
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

The CAWS Gauge has defined this achievement as Hall-worthy.  Note that all five pitchers who have been eligible are now in Cooperstown.


In 2009, the writers inducted two players into the Hall of Fame.  One choice represented a clear hit while the other was a very bad error.

Rickey Henderson was a no-brainer for the writers.  He was elected in his first year on the ballot with 95% of the vote.  Here is his CAWS line.

Rickey Henderson
535 308 365

Only seventeen position players ever had 500 win shares and Rickey is one of them.  He had the #20 best career numbers of any position player of the 20th century.  He played for twenty-five seasons and was a true superstar in every meaning of the term.

Unfortunately, in 2009 the writers also elected Jim Rice to the Hall.  His selection represented the first mistake made by the BBWAA since 2001 and, by coincidence, represents a sharp contrast to Rickey Henderson, his fellow inductee.  Rice just squeaked in with 76% of the vote on his 15th (and last) time on the ballot.

Jim Rice
282 233 245

Note that Rice has a CAWS score of 245.  A score of 280 is required of a left fielder to have obvious HOF numbers (Rickey had a 365 score).  And a score of 260 is considered “marginal HOF numbers.”  Of course, Rice is nowhere near even the 260 mark.

But, to get a better idea of just how bad a selection this was, consider the following.  A player named Heinie Manush who played in the 1920s and 30s is in the Hall of Fame.  And, among students of Cooperstown, Manush is generally considered to be one of the worst choices ever – someone who definitely does not belong.  Look at these numbers.

Heinie Manush
285 236 248
Graig Nettles
321 224 248
Don Mattingly
263 241 247
Ken Boyer
279 235 246
Vern Stephens
265 239 246
Bob Johnson
287 231 245
Dale Murphy
294 228 245
Jim Rice
282 233 245

As you can see, Manush has better career numbers than any of these other seven players including Jim Rice.  The essential point is, of course, that none of these players has anything close to Hall of Fame numbers.

Jim Rice’s election in 2009 was one of the poorest choices made by the BBWAA in a very long time.


In 2010, the writers stumbled again and elected Andre Dawson to the Hall of Fame.  Dawson got 79% of the vote in his ninth year on the ballot.  Here are his numbers together with a few other players for comparison purposes.

Dwight Evans
347 234 262
Fred McGriff
326 240 262
Andre Dawson
340 234 261
Brian Giles
287 252 261
Norm Cash
315 241 260
Sal Bando
283 251 259

As you can see, Dawson did not really come close to the 280 CAWS score for obvious HOF numbers.  In fact, he and the other players here only barely made the “marginal HOF numbers” benchmark of 260.  Even so, all six of them had much better career numbers than Jim Rice.


Having missed the mark with both Jim Rice and Andre Dawson in 2009 and 2010, the BBWAA got back on target when they selected Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven for the Hall of Fame in 2011.  Both have solid HOF numbers.

Roberto Alomar was elected in his second year on the ballot with 90% of the vote.  And he certainly deserves the honor.

Roberto Alomar
375 278 302

Alomar is the #7 ranked second baseman of the century – just ahead of Hall of Famers Ryne Sandberg and Rod Carew.  And he had the #53 best career numbers of any position player since 1901.  He is one of only fifty-six position players who managed to achieve a CAWS score of 300.  He was a truly outstanding player

Bert Blyleven was inducted in his fourteenth year on the ballot by a vote of 80%.  What is odd about this long wait is that Bert is not a “marginal Hall of Famer.”  He was a great pitcher with obvious HOF numbers who was seriously under-appreciated for years.

According to the CAWS Gauge, Blyleven has two solid credentials for induction into the Hall.  First, he is one of only twenty-three (23) pitchers in modern times (since 1920) who have accumulated 300 career win shares in the major leagues.  And the CAWS Gauge suggests that any pitcher who has 300 win shares deserves to be in Cooperstown.  And, now that Bert has been elected, every pitcher with this distinction who has been eligible has been inducted.

The second credential that establishes Blyleven’s place in the Hall is that his was the #16 best career by a starting pitcher in modern times. Here are his numbers together with a few others for comparison.

Fergie Jenkins (1965-1983)
323 233 256
Randy Johnson (1988-2009)
326 230 254
Bob Feller (1936-1956)
292 239 252
Bert Blyleven (1970-1992)
339 218 248
Early Wynn (1939-1963)
309 217 240
Nolan Ryan (1966-1993)
334 191 227
Don Sutton (1966-1988)
319 187 220

All of these pitchers are now in Cooperstown except for Randy Johnson who is not yet eligible.  Bert Blyleven deserves his spot in the Hall of Fame.

So, of the eight players elected to the Hall of Fame by the writers from 2007 to 2011, six have obvious HOF numbers according to the strict benchmarks of the CAWS Career Gauge – while two do not.

As I mentioned earlier, from 2001 to 2011, sixteen of the eighteen players inducted into the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA have valid HOF numbers.  I feel that is a good job and deserves a grade of at least a  B+.

Thanks for your time.

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


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

    Can’t wait for part 4!

  2. MIKE HOBAN says:

    Part 4 will discuss those players who DID HAVE HOF numbers but who were not elected to the Hall by the BBWAA since 2001. Thanks.


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