For those of you who are sick of hearing about the Baseball Hall of Fame, it will all be over soon. There's some Rockies-specific stuff at the bottom of the post. For the rest of you, let's have a brief chat about the Hall. There's been quite a kerfuffle about this year's ballot, which is largely rooted in the PED issue -- but also in a number of flaws inherent to the Hall of Fame process like the limit on the number of players that can be voted for and the fact that many in the BBWAA haven't been around baseball for years. There's also the fact that the electorate has an objectivity problem.
Both Dave Studeman of the Hardball Times (realistic) and Dave Cameron of Fangraphs (fantasy) have some suggestions to improve the Hall of Fame. Until that time though, we're stuck with the Hall we've got.
I'm fond of filling out Hall of Fame ballots, not really with the hope that some BBWAA member will read it and change their mind, but more because it's fun to look back with a shred of objectivity at the players on the ballot. I have a very specific method that I explained in my ballot from last year, and I'll be using it again this year:
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 got re-tooled this year, so the numbers on each player will be slightly different than last year.
* 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 (58.4/23.9/6.3), 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. The Hall of Fame is a baseball museum that should include the best players from all eras. Those other factors should only be used in borderline cases.
Without further ado, here's who would make my 2012 HOF ballot, in descending order of merit by rWAR/WAE/WAM:
1. Barry Bonds (158.1/94.5/42.1) -- Bonds is the 2nd greatest player in history and the greatest player from any of our lifetimes. Yes, he was a jerk and yes he used PEDs, but to leave him out of the Hall would be...silly.
2. Roger Clemens (133.1/67.4/25.3) -- See Bonds, Barry. Regardless of what you think of Clemens, he was the best pitcher of the modern era by just about any measure.
4. Jeff Bagwell (76.7/34.4/5.9) -- Bagwell surpasses each bullseye metric and doesn't have a real steroid issue, though some writers still find one. To be honest, it's hard for me to take anyone who doesn't have Bagwell in the Hall seriously.
5. Larry Walker (69.7/26.4/5.2) -- The strength of Walker's candidacy using this metric surprises even me, as 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.
6. Alan Trammell (67.1/25.4/3.1) -- An underrated defensive shortstop (career 22 defensive WAR) with superficially unimpressive offensive statistics who also performed well in the playoffs, Trammell is basically the same player statistically as the already in Barry Larkin, except his peak was slightly better.
7. Kenny Lofton (64.9/25.1/2.7) -- Lofton will probably fall off the ballot this year after just one year, and that's a shame given the extreme quality of his career and all-around excellence of his game.
8. Tim Raines (66.2/21.5/2.3) -- 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.
9. Craig Biggio (62.1/21.1/3.9) -- Biggio was closer to the boundary than you might think, but his dominant 9.3 win 1997 pushes him over the top.
10. Edgar Martinez (64.4/26.1/1.3) -- 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.
Notables that didn't make the cut:
Mike Piazza (56.1/21.1/3.3) -- a great hitting catcher yes, but not much of a catcher
Rafael Palmeiro (66.1/19.6/0.5) -- compiler whose value stats not as impressive as counting stats due to poor defense
Mark McGwire (58.7/20.4/1.6) -- see Palmeiro, Rafael
Sammy Sosa (54.8/22.6/4.4) -- actually has a stronger Hall case that McGwire/Palmeiro by this method due to crazy 10.1 win 2001 season
Jack Morris (39.3/9.8/0.0) -- not close
It's a crazy good ballot this year, with 10 players who would raise the Hall median if they were enshrined, and it's going to get even crazier next year because only Biggio has a real shot to get elected this year.
Other Hall of Fame Links
Joe Posnanski has 3 worthy articles:
1. His Hall of Fame ballot, with detailed notes on every player on the ballot
3. Some notes on what initial HOF voting %s have meant historically
Dan Moore of Viva El Birdos makes a case for Larry Walker in the HOF
Rockies Links -- as promised
Troy Tulowitzki plans to play for the US in the WBC this spring. It will be a good test to see if he is truly injury free. Given the fact that I don't expect Colorado to be contenders this year, it will be nice to see at least one of our players play in a tournament.
Thomas Harding writes about the versatility of Jordan Pacheco, with notes that Pacheco's catching load may be expanding next year. That's good news, because Pacheco is at his most valuable behind the plate.
Andy Behrens of Yahoo Fantasy breaks down some Rockies players in 2013