Since nary a peep has been heard out of the Rockies since the announcement of the Casey Blake deal, I figured that it would be germane to discuss the big baseball topic at the moment -- the 2012 Hall of Fame ballot. The Hall is a very divisive topic among baseball fans, largely stemming from its vague guidelines for voters and very strange selections in the past. Most writers seem to favor a very small Hall, composed of only truly great (or more recently it would seem, "clean" and pretty good).
Joe Posnanski has a phenomenal look at the history of Hall of Fame voting to show just how strange the Hall's history has been. Here's Posnanski's well-researched and thought-out 2012 ballot...and here is a ballot that, to me, falls a little short of baseball sense. Bill at the Platoon Advantage goes through every player on the ballot here, while Chris Jaffe at the Hardball Times predicts how HOF voting will end up -- Larry Walker ends up at only 27%.
So where do I stand on the Hall of Fame? I certainly see the point of writers that want to maintain the Hall's entry status, but I think that there are many eligible players that are better than the current average Hall of Famer that need to be elected. In the next few years a slew of excellent players will gain eligibility and there will be an unholy mess in trying to sort it all out.
With that said, I only really see six worthy players on this year's ballot. Obviously, this is a hypothetical ballot, but I think that it's an excellent exercise if nothing else to remember the great players of yesteryear. Or if you're as young as I am, to discover how great they were for the first time.
Last year, I filled out a mock ballot and this year I'm doing the same. Here is my methodology in a nutshell:
1. The player has to raise the HOF median per the rWAR/WAE/WAM* bullseye method. For position players, that total is 58.0/23.3/3.7, while the median HOF pitcher has a score of 57.2/25.6/5.2. Basically, Hall of Fame pitchers provide less value over their careers, but their peak performance is higher.
* rWAR -- B-Reference WAR; WAE -- Wins Above Excellence, found by totaling up the surplus WAR in any given season in which a player accrued over 3 WAR; WAM -- Wins Above MVP level, found by totaling the surplus WAR over 6 WAR in one season; For example, Troy Tulowitzki's 2009 would be scored 6.3/3.3/0.3
2. A position player needs to exceed at least two of the bullseye metrics, while a pitcher needs to exceed at least one and come close in another. In the 2012 ballot, no pitcher comes close -- especially old school writer favorite Jack Morris. PS: Todd Helton passes muster on this HOF test at the moment (59.9/26.0/6.7), which if nothing else makes me happy.
3. Dominance within era is very important to me, as I feel that 2-3 dominant seasons are more impactful than several good ones. That is why it is 2/3 of the formula (WAE/WAM) is dominance-related.
4. The bullseye method accounts for peak excellence as well as longevity, but it doesn't take into account postseason excellence, integrity/character, and other factors that muddy the waters of HOF voting considerably. Rob Neyer has an excellent discussion of this mentality. My opinion is that those factors should be only applied to the most borderline of cases.
Why do I look at it this way? Well, as someone is likely to point out, I'm too young to have seen several of these players in their prime (or at all). Therefore, all I can rely upon is their statistical record and anecdotal evidence. I'm more inclined to trust the former than the latter.
Here is the 2012 ballot by the rWAR/WAE/WAM bullseye method. As you can see, the 2012 rookie class is incredibly weak, with no players that even approach the HOF median.
Without further ado, here's who would make my 2012 HOF ballot, in descending order of merit by rWAR/WAE/WAM:
1. Jeff Bagwell (79.9/38.7/9.7) -- Bagwell surpasses each bullseye metric and ranks first on my ballot due to his impressive 9.7 WAM, which is about twice the score of anyone else on the ballot. To be honest, it's hard for me to take anyone who doesn't have Bagwell in the Hall seriously -- he's head and shoulders above anybody else on the ballot.
2. Larry Walker (67.3/23.3/4.4) -- Walker's 9 WAR MVP season in 1997 is the best season for anyone on the ballot, plus he meets/exceeds every bullseye metric. That and his status as a Rockie make him a pretty easy pick for me. It's a real shame that his candidacy hasn't gotten more consideration, but I believe and hope that Walker is a very good candidate in the next few years for a resurgence as the way writers look at statistics continues to evolve.
3. Alan Trammell (66.9/26.1/3.8) -- An underrated defensive shortstop (career 7.5 defensive WAR) with superficially unimpressive offensive statistics who also performed well in the playoffs, Trammell is basically the same player statistically as the probably in Larkin, except his peak was slightly better.
4. Barry Larkin (68.9/25.7/1.6) -- Larkin's case for candidacy is well-elocuted here, but basically Larkin is better than almost all HOF shortstops (Ripken included) on a rate basis. He's also the one guy who is virtually assured of getting inducted this year, which is great.
5. Tim Raines (64.6/21.4/2.3) -- Besides being very efficient at stealing bases, Raines might be the second greatest leadoff man in recent history. He just had the misfortune of playing at the same time as the best, Rickey Henderson. Struggles with cocaine have likely hurt Raines in the past, but I'd love to see him inducted. My guess is that in such a weak year, Raines makes a big jump toward election.
6. Edgar Martinez (67.2/26.3/2.3) -- Martinez is right on the edge due to his career's late start and the fact that he was a DH his entire career. He's got fantastic offensive numbers though (as a DH should, I suppose) with a career .312/.418/.515 triple slash, and that puts him over the edge.
Remember those borderline cases I was talking about where intangibles and character are taken into account? Well, these two guys are probably on the other side of the cut with that in their favor, but at this point aren't up to snuff because of intangibles:
7. Mark McGwire (63.1/25.3/2.5) -- The number that really jumps out at me with McGwire is the .982 career OPS. That and the career .394 OBP. Beyond steroids, there are two primary problems with McGwire's candidacy. One is that his career was pretty short (700 ABs shy of Walker) due to injuries and his sudden fall off the cliff after age 36. Two, he was a butcher on defense at the easiest position in the game.
8. Rafael Palmeiro (66.0/20.5/1.6) -- 3020 hits and 569 HRs over a 20 year career sure look nice, but Palmeiro was basically just a good player who had a graceful decline. The Mitchell Report mention and the circus before Congress sure doesn't help.
Two pitchers who have no business even being on the ballot at this point, Jack Morris (39.3/9.4/0) and Lee Smith (30.3/10.9/1.5), will continue to garner many more votes than several more worthy players. One thing is certain though: I'll be unsatisfied when the voting results are revealed.