Saturday, July 26, 2014

BLAST from the PAST #1 - "The Hall & Some Number Crunching"

With the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony around the corner, here is an article I wrote back in January.

-----------------------------------------Article from January 8th, 2014 -----------------------------

I'm going to try to write this blog post, the best way possible, without sounding like a jerk. But it gets under my skin when someone wants to sit there close-minded and tell me, who I feel represents what a real baseball fan is, and say that my Hall of Fame standards are not high enough.

I say this in the utmost, respect yet.. with the confident & cockiness of a know-it-all Sheldon Cooper (from The Big Bang Theory): I'm right, you're wrong.

Plus I don't understand where debates and conversations going in different directions is suddenly scowled upon, isn't this freedom of speech? Is that not the whole point of a debate? Sure I understand that people don't want to be ambushed with PED talk, I think it's safe to say that we are all sick of PED's by now. But being part of a debate, who do you pick off of the Hall of Fame ballot? There is going to be someone saying... "Hey, I believe so-and-so should be on it." Plus the player that was brought up and debated over is actually on the ballot, so I don't know what the fuss was about!

The one thing I have always loved about the APBA Facebook Group is that we allowed people to post their topics & opinions with no problem, and that's the way it should stand. If we start making rules on where the conversation is going, what's next? People telling people that their latest tournaments or APBA projects are stupid, because it doesn't agree with you?

Anyways, here we go...

First off, on this ballot there should be NO player on this ballot listed higher than Greg Maddux! To even think this is downright ludicrous! To say that there is a player above him, you mind as well say you got your degree in Baseball Knowledge from a Cracker Jack Box! Maddux is the only-sure first ballot Hall-of-Famer since Tony Gwynn & Cal Ripken. Before the managers were announced a couple months ago, I was surprised by people saying non-sense stuff like Bobby Cox not being a Hall of Famer... Say What?! I just don't understand those statements, to me that's a statement of a so-so fan. Another note to make on Greg Maddux, he would have put up even more amazing career numbers if MLB didn't shrink the strike-zone even more, which hurt Maddux & Tom Glavine from about 1998 and on...
Biggio & Bagwell of the Astros.

Okay, my ballot before we move on...

1. Greg Maddux
2. Tom Glavine
3. Jeff Bagwell
4. Frank Thomas
5. Tim Raines
6. Craig Biggio
7. Mike Piazza
8. Jack Morris
9. Alan Trammell
10. Lou Whitaker
11. Mike Mussina

Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are tainted, and I would make Jeff Bagwell & Frank Thomas wait just a bit longer due to the fact of the era that they are from. Maddux & Glavine will both make it in I believe first time up, with their manager Bobby Cox which would be fitting! Tim Raines will eventually make it, I'm not overly worried about that. Time is running out for Jack Morris, who has came closer to making the cut recently, finds himself with a crowded ballot now. Yes, Craig Biggio has 3,000 hits, he missed it last year on his first ballot, he will make it in the next couple years, he would not be the first member of the 3,000 hit club to not make the ballot his first couple times up. Mike Piazza normally a "first-time-ballot & in" kind of guy, 400+ homers & a lifetime .305 average. .922 OPS for a catcher! But he might have to wait because of the era he represented.

Personally, the guys all listed above on my ballot are HOF'ers, also I should add Edgar Martinez with the 12th spot, he is a representative of the DH era, and he did not get his first actual break until age 27! He was the solid force behind the emergence of the Seattle Mariners franchise, he had 5 seasons over a 1.000 OPS (Bagwell had 5, Piazza had 4 -- to put it in perspective). Mitch Williams, former reliever for the Philadelphia Phillies & current MLB analyst said it best, "If there is a position created in the game of baseball, such as the DH, then there needs to be a position for that in the Hall of Fame as well."

Some Tigers fans, such as myself, have been very outspoken about the fact that Jack MorrisAlan Trammell & Lou Whitaker not being in the Hall of Fame. Out of the three, yeah.. Morris is the least deserving, yet he has come the closest of the three to making it.

One of the guys in the Facebook Group went on to say: Morris was not quite HOF material. He had a career 3.90 ERA, and went on to mention the silly Curt Schilling assessment,"If you have to think about whether a player is a Hall of Famer or not, he's not." The person also went on to mention that not only is Morris not a candidate, but Jeff Bagwell, Jeff Kent, and Mike Mussina were not HOF'ers as well, despite their good career numbers.

He goes on to say you can't make the remark "that so-and-so is in the HOF, so so-and-so should be as well." Yes & No, I say to that. Yeah, we can't do anything about Rabbit Maranville or Dave Bancroft, or a good handful of others, at the same time you have to look at some (not all) of these guys as representatives of it's era. Joe TinkerJohnny Evers & Frank Chance are also three that, stat-wise would not be in the Hall of Fame. My father's idea of the Hall of Fame should be a 26-30 man roster, and when one came around, another got bumped out -- Maybe make the Hall a perfect 300, and bump people out afterwards, that sounds crazy. Overall, the damage has been done, it's funny to me that Tinker-Evers-Chance basically got in for the famous poem about them. They were great fielders for it's time, and fielding conditions were far worse then, before the day & age of ground's crews. I believe Tinker, Evers & Chance are more deserving than the likes of Maranville or Bancroft, but we can't change history. We can't change the fact that they are in, but I feel they DO represent the era, an era in which mostly are pitching dominant figures, the only offensive guys that really stood out in the first 1900-1910 decade was Ty Cobb & Honus Wagner.

Plus for anyone who has played APBA replays of that early era such as a guest blogger on The APBA Blog in Scott Fennessey (also the 2nd Chicagoland World Series Tournament Winner), he can argue that the Tinkers, Evers, were the superstars in their days. Should they really be punished out of the Hall, because they didn't average 37 HR's a season?

So my reply to Jack Morris is this...

  • Pitched half of his starts in one of the most offensive-hitting stadiums ever (Tigers Stadium), during one of the best offensive eras in baseball history.
  • He pitched for a manager that was nicknamed "Captain Hook" in Sparky Anderson, Anderson was well-known for yanking his starters by the 6th and getting his bullpen ready to go. Morris was maybe the only starting pitcher that could give Sparky the look -- turn back to the dugout! So Morris could have hurt himself in this regard.
  • Morris was obviously pitching hurt for his 89'-90' campaigns, which could have easily hurt his career ERA. Plus if you take strictly from his Tigers' years, which best represents him, he had a career Tiger ERA of 3.73!
  • Most Wins in the 1980's: 177, while playing in possibly the toughest division stretch per talent in the division era, since 1969. Yankees for example: Dave WinfieldDon MattinglyRickey Henderson; Brewers - Two HOF'ers in Robin Yount & Paul Molitor (who Lou Whitaker & Alan Trammell were just as instrumental in their roles for their franchise as those two), Boston was loaded, the Jays were strong throughout the 80's (especially from 84'-90')! Orioles had Ripken & Eddie Murray. Morris had to play these guys the majority of his career. These divisions were so loaded that many races came down to the very end. Cleveland was the only constant cellar-dweller. 
  • Higher career WAR than Jim Palmer. Pitchers like Jim Palmer loaded up on wins, by the early division formats, Baltimore dominated during it's time, with no real contenders until mid 1970's when the Yankees came back into focus. The A.L. East in the 1980's had far more competition.
  • Won three World Titles for three different teams.
Also check out the Article I did about a year ago..

During my reply that I respected Curt Schilling as the player, even saying that he may be Hall worthy, but didn't agree with his assessment. The counter-argument to that, was that Morris & Schilling are not on the same levels that of a Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver, and Jim Palmer. Yeah? So is the same for about half of the starting pitchers already in the Hall of Fame. Those 4 among a few others, are one of a kinds, they come once in a generation! 

Here's an interesting argument in favor for Curt Schilling...
  • Didn't get started really until 1992, 1994 & 1995 combines for one season (due to injuries) and he was a consistent force from 92-2007, leading the 93' Phillies to the World Series, while leading the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks2004 & 2007 Boston Red Sox to World Championships (3 rings).
  • 300 or more strikeouts, 3 times! Back-to-back seasons of the accomplishment for a 619 K's combination in two years!
  • 3,116 K's (15th All-Time), 216 career wins with a winning percentage of .597. Sure it's not the magical 300 wins number, but he was a dependable winner. Almost a 1,000 more K's than Jim Palmer, Palmer only had two rings (66' & 83').
  • Schilling's ERA of 3.46 was not that of Palmer's 2.86. But here's some food for thought, Palmer didn't get 300 wins either (268) and Schilling has him beat in the WHIP area 1.137 to 1.180!
The reason that I started arguing WARs (which I don't care for, but can be used as an interesting tool to compare) and Jim Palmer. Is because this person brought up both in regularity in his argument towards my points, so I used his tools of argument & of course, I still was clearly wrong LOL!

I brought up the career WAR's over Jim Palmer of players NOT in the Hall of Fame. Of course, players like A-Rod & Pujols are not retired yet.
  • Alex Rodriguez (115.7)
  • Albert Pujols (93.0)
  • Chipper Jones (85.2)
  • Jeff Bagwell (79.5)
  • Pete Rose (79.4)
  • Bill Dahlen (75.3)
  • Lou Whitaker (74.8)
  • Larry Walker (72.6)
  • Rafael Palmeiro (71.8)
  • Derek Jeter (71.6)
  • Bobby Grich (71.0)
  • Adrian Beltre (70.5)
  • Alan Trammell (70.4)
  • Scott Rolen (70.0)
  • Tim Raines (69.1)
  • Manny Ramirez (69.1)
  • Edgar Martinez (68.3)
  • Ivan Rodriguez (68.3)
The Hall of Famers below these the Career (70.0) WAR mark?
  • Gary Carter
  • Ed Delahanty
  • Tony Gwynn
  • Al Simmons
  • Carlton Fisk
  • Eddie Murray
  • Fred Clarke
  • Ryne Sandberg
  • Roberto Alomar
  • Duke Snider
  • Joe Cronin
  • Pee Wee Reese
  • Goose Goslin
  • Andre Dawson
  • Willie McCovey
  • Dave Winfield
  • Billy Williams
  • Richie Ashburn
  • Billy Hamilton
  • Lou Boudreau
and much more...

Let's go to Richie Ashburn, now
He had 2,574 career hits, a .306 career batting average, and an outstanding On-Base Percentage of .396! He was an outfielder in a HOF field that had many outfielders, with a career OPS of .778, with only 29 career HR's from a "power position".

Now enter Alan Trammell into the equation...
He had 2,365 career hits, I think sometimes people look at hits too much, in the same way people read career wins for a pitcher, you need to look at the other numbers people.
Let's point out that his WAR (70.4) is higher than Ashburn's & Barry Larkin (70.2), the HOF SS... now overall, once again I'm not a WAR guy, so let's look at other numbers. Trammell had 185 career HRs for a position until the 1980's was not known for having pop. Trammell didn't hit double-digits in HR's until 1983, and got the bulk of his HR's between 1983 & 1990. Trammell's 236 career steals, beats Ashburn by 2. Trammell also had a respectable .286 career average, not Ashburn's .306, but certainly better than HOF'er Gary Carter's .262!

Lou & Tram: Bless You Boys!

Alan Trammell had a career OPS of .767, Carter had .773 & Ashburn .778. People often harp on the fact that Trammell was injured a lot at the end of his career, and that he was beyond his peak years for some time, yet that never stopped Carter from being elected, who was clearly past his prime after 1987. Carter stuck around until 1992.

Someone else brought up points in what faith do we have in WAR when Lou Whitaker's WAR is higher than that of Ryne Sandberg and Roberto Alomar. Simple, Sandberg really was compacted to a period from 1982-1992, he was basically a ten-year deal.... where Lou was consistent as well, and was more a factor longer from 1978-1993. Roberto Alomar was a factor from 1988-2001, he stuck around until 2004, and probably had negative WARs to drain his career WAR. I don't think anyone thinks Whitaker was better than Alomar, as a Tiger fan I could argue that Whitaker was just as relevant for the Tigers as Sandberg was to the Cubs, and for American League 2B standards, Whitaker was really the Joe Morgan of that league, until the 1990's came around offensive 2B were unheard of, unless you dig towards the Eddie Collins days! Ryne Sandberg's period of 1990-1992, is what makes the difference in the argument between Sandberg & Whitaker, besides that.
  • Whitaker: .276 AVG, 244 HR's, 2,369 hits & career .789 OPS.
  • Sandberg: .285 AVG, 282 HR's, 2,386 hits & career .795 OPS. Note: Sandberg, got 92 of his career HR's from 1990-1992.
Sandberg also narrowly beats Whitaker in fielding pct (.989 to .984). Sandberg does beat him in Gold Gloves 11 to 3, just off the top of my head I do want to think Whitaker had stiffer competition at the position, but I could be wrong. The Gold Glove is rewarded for the silliest things anyways, offensive stats at a position come into factor, and it's a bit of a popularity contest.

Just some interesting perspectives, yet some people would make you think many of these players are not similar, just because the ones that have been in, grown bigger than their actual legends. I have been meaning to do the entire Hall of Fame for a post, who's in, who should be, and who's out.

Who knows? There was actually a time when people didn't think of Ryne Sandberg as a Hall of Famer, how crazy is that?

------------------------------------------- Added below, bonus coverage -------------------------------


Interesting thing I saw on MLB Network the other morning.... Personally, I don't think Tim Raines should be punished for what he was taught to do in the game of baseball, and that's to get on base. A quick glance of sorts.
Tim Raines
Lou Brock

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