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Leggo My Gossage!óBaseball Toaster Hall of Fame Roundtable, Part III
2006-01-04 22:12
by Mike Carminati

Parts I & II

Scott:

Have been on the road and haven't checked my home email over the past couple of days. My Hall of Fame thoughts are as following.

While I'm completely on board with the Blyleven campaign, I believe Alan Trammell is an equally deserving candidate. At arguably the most important position on the field, Trammell is one of the Top 10 shortstops of all-time. He is downgraded because he was the 5th best at his position during the time he played. (Ripken, Yount, Ozzie, Larkin) This logic fails from my view. Was Roberto Clemente an unworthy Hall of Famer because his stats weren't quite on the same level as Mays, Aaron, Mantle, and Robinson? To be honest there is not much difference overall between O. Smith, Larkin, and Trammell.

Trammell was the MVP of the 1984 World Series and in my mind should have been the AL MVP of the 1987 season, but finished a close second to George Bell. Another bias against him is the notion that was Trammell even the best part of the Tigers double play duo. Lou Whitaker is one of the Top 16 second baseman of all-time, but I would rate him just below Trammell. Add to this that Trammell was a leader for the Tigers, while Whitaker was a me-first guy and it puts him a clear step below. There are a number of players in the HOF that Whitaker scores ahead of but Trammell, Blyleven, Gossage, and Sutter should be inducted before his status should be argued.

I would take Gossage over Sutter, but I think both belong in the Hall. Just because I think Goose's resume is superior, if I was the HOF czar, I would put him in a year ahead of Sutter, but I have no problem with either one. in Cooperstown.

While Jim Rice was my favorite player in the Majors during the time he played, I think he falls just short of induction. Same goes for Andre Dawson.

Cliff:

I completely agree that Trammell should be in, but I have a couple quibbles with what Scott wrote.

To begin with, although I know Scott is simply passing on the argument others have made, if you're ranking '80s shortstops, I don't think you can place Trammell fifth so easily. He and Larkin are more or less a dead heat, with Larkin's advantage due largely to his being six years younger and thus playing some of his peak seasons during the post-strike offensive boom (including his MVP 1995 season).

Yount meanwhile, was inferior defensively and switched to center after 1984, where he remained a subpar fielder. To my mind, Trammell was a greater *shortstop* than Yount and Yount's advantage as a hitter is slight, the result of a bit more pop and longevity.

All of that said, I'm curious to see what happens when Larkin becomes eligible. I'm thinking he'll be hurt by having been a contemporary of Rodriguez, Jeter, Garciaparra, and Tejada for the better part of a decade. That can't be said of Trammell, whose final season was 1996.

Oh, my other quibble was that I've never ever heard anyone suggest that Trammell was not the superior half of the Tigers DP combo. Their career stats are alarmingly similar, with Whitaker having a slight advantage in OBP and SLG, but Trammell was the better fielder, the better base stealer, and the better teammate. Of course, those hitting stats alone should put Whitaker in the Hall alongside Trammell.

For the record, Trammell got a mere 16.9 percent last year (though that was his best total since first appearing on the ballot in 2002, for what that's worth) and Whitaker fell off the ballot after getting just 15 votes (2.19 percent) in his first year of eligibility in 2001.

Mike:

Re. the shortstop debate, here are the top 25 SS by career Win Shares. This includes anyone whose primary position was shortstop. Therefore, you will see Robin Yount, who did play a great deal of center, and John Montgomery Ward, who started his career as a pitcher (but blew his arm out) and ended his career as a second baseman.

I have indicated which ones are already in the Hall:

RankNameCareer WSHall?
1Honus Wagner655Y
2Cal Ripken Jr.427Ineligible
3Robin Yount423Y
4John Ward409Y
5George Davis398Y
6Bill Dahlen394N
7Luke Appling378Y
8Arky Vaughan356Y
9Barry Larkin346Ineligible
10Bobby Wallace345Y
11Joe Cronin333Y
12Ozzie Smith325Y
13Alan Trammell318N
13Alex Rodriguez318Ineligible
15Pee Wee Reese314Y
16Rabbit Maranville302Y
17Luis Aparicio293Y
18Bert Campaneris280N
18Tony Fernandez280N
20Joe Sewell277Y
20Lou Boudreau277Y
22Julio Franco275Ineligible
23Dave Bancroft269Y
23Dave Concepcion269N
25Herman Long265N

Also, here are the other shortstops in the Hall who don't make the top 25 in WS:

NameCareer WSHall?Category
Joe Tinker258YPlayer
Phil Rizzuto231YPlayer
Hughie Jennings214YPlayer
Travis Jackson211YPlayer
Leo Durocher121YManager
George Wright51YPioneer/Executive

Mike:

As for the Whitaker-Trammell debate, here are the same tables for second basemen:

RankNameCareer WSHall?
1Eddie Collins574Y
2Joe Morgan512Y
3Rogers Hornsby502Y
4Nap Lajoie496Y
5Craig Biggio414Ineligible
6Charlie Gehringer383Y
7Roberto Alomar376Ineligible
8Frankie Frisch366Y
9Lou Whitaker351N
10Ryne Sandberg346Y
11Bobby Grich329N
12Willie Randolph312N
13Bid McPhee305Y
14Nellie Fox304Y
15Jeff Kent299Ineligible
16Billy Herman298Y
17Kid Gleason294N
18Larry Doyle289N
19Bobby Doerr281Y
20Johnny Evers268Y
20Tony Phillips268N
22Red Schoendienst262Y
23Buddy Myer258N
24Jackie Robinson257Y
25Tony Lazzeri252Y

And:

NameCareer WSHall?category
Miller Huggins222YManager
Bill Mazeroski219YPlayer
Bucky Harris133YManager
Sparky Anderson7YManager

Cliff:

So Ernie Banks counts as a first baseman? [Mike: Yep, he played a hundred odd games more at first.]

That list of career win shares just doesn't tell the whole story as far as I'm concerned.

Soon after the Yankees traded for Alex Rodriguez, I did a piece on the effect moving to third would have on his status among the greatest shortstops of all time (found here). In that post I made a top five that looked like this:

Honus Wagner

Arky Vaghan

Alex Rodriguez

Derek Jeter

Ernie Banks

Though I'll admit my list was based primarily on offense.

Scott:

I agree with what you said about Larkin, well actually I wrote that in my first offering:To be honest there is not much difference overall between O. Smith, Larkin, and Trammell.

My point with including Yount and Larkin in the debate is that they are seen as contemporaries, even if they don't exactly mirror a large time frame. I would disagree with you about Yount only being a slightly better hitter. Longevity counts for a lot and Yount reached some magical milestones which put him higher on the list. Trammell's defense is somewhat forgotten about, as he won 4 gold gloves, before the Ozzie Smith of the AL, Tony Fernandez took over.

Thanks Mike for listing statistically what I was getting at about Whitaker. Maybe I need to do a Lederer campaign extolling the virtues of the Tigers double play combo. It's truly amazing to me on how asleep a majority of the voters could be on these two players, considering their all-time ranking.

Cliff:

Since our conversation's stalled, can I solicit opinions on Albert Belle? Jay Jaffe makes a convincing argument for him in his recent JAWS series on Baseball Prospectus (here). Of course, between his bad 'tude, corked bat, unfavorable offensive context, and injury-shortened career, he may not have a prayer, but do any of we Toasters think he should?

Derek:

The argument you'll hear from folks inclined to see Belle get in will be that the only issue keeping him out (beyond his seeming to be an extremely unpleasant man) is his longevity, and that with the lack thereof being tossed out in the case of Kirby Puckett, it should darn well be done in Belle's case because by any objective measure, he was a monster when he was out there, and better than Puckett during that peak by a not insubstantial margin.

There's truth there, but just because the voters made what I think was a mistaken exception in Puckett's case doesn't necessarily mean they should make a similar one for Belle. Still, I'm on the fence here. That peak is awfully compelling. Consider this: I think a lot of folks look at Sammy Sosa as a very likely HOFer, in great part due to his home run hitting prowess during his best years. When measured by WARP3, Sosa had one season worth more than 10 wins, and four seasons worth more than 8. Belle had six seasons with at least 10 wins, three of which were worth no less than 11.2 wins. That, my friends, is performing at a high level. I don't know if it's high enough to passionately argue for his inclusion, but it's high enough to make the discussion worth having.

Mike:

Re. Belle: I think he's another borderline candidate. If he played another five marginal seasons and pushed his home run total over 500, he would be a lock. Was he among the best in the game when he played? Yes. Does he fit the de facto standards? Yes. Will the writers give him the short shrift? Yes. I expect him to either very quickly fall off the ballot or remain in limbo a la Jim Kaat, Dave Parker, and Dale Murphy until his 15 years expire.

As for comparing him to Puckett, I think James showed in his multi-titled Hall of Fame book who that sort of logic collapses in on itself like a house of Cards or maybe Cubbies.

I have no problem with his going in nor I am a big advocate. The Hall will remain largely unchanged either way.

Comments
2006-01-04 22:50:43
1.   Suffering Bruin
FWIW, the most comparable players to Albert Belle:

# Carlos Delgado (914)
# Juan Gonzalez (900)
# Jim Edmonds (880)
# Moises Alou (874)
# Jim Thome (872)
# Dick Allen (867)
# Shawn Green (863)
# Hank Greenberg (859) *
# Chipper Jones (854)
# Rocky Colavito (852)

Greenberg is in the HOF.

2006-01-05 06:13:07
2.   Mike Carminati
Yeah, but only three players on the list are eligible for the Hall (Greenberg, Colavito, and Allen), and the two that are not in have strong cases (though Allen's is the better of the two).

Belle actually meets a third of the criteria I use based on the James tests for Hall legitimacy, which aint bad. The link to that is in Part I of the roundtable.

2006-01-05 12:10:50
3.   Repoz
Guys...After 65 Ballots (a few partials)

The leaders...

69.2%-Sutter
64.6%-Gossage
55.3%-Dawson
49.2%-Rice
43.0%-Blyleven
41.5%-L.Smith
30.7%-Morris
26.1%-T.John

2006-01-05 13:01:58
4.   Mike Carminati
Repoz,

Wait, is this the official vote? It isn't available until 1/10 from what I understand. And do the %'s represent the % of votes counted so far or the % of total votes? If it's the former, it looks like another goose egg (pardon the pun) for this year.

2006-01-05 14:05:50
5.   billfer
Repoz has been compiling the results from the voters who have written about their ballots I believe.

BTW-Great discussion guys.

2006-01-05 14:16:22
6.   TFD
Scott: Good comments, nice to see you in on these conversations.

James proved Puck's induction was a house-of-cards? That makes it clear then - Puck definitely deserved it.

2006-01-05 14:29:28
7.   geb4000
The comp list above tells you all you need to know. Greenberg served in the military for four and a half years. That's the only reason he's on the comp list.
2006-01-05 16:07:23
8.   Cliff Corcoran
Actually, TFD, James' book came out while Puckett was still active. What he said was two-fold.

1) a one-to-one comparison is not informative, if there's one player like your candidate in the Hall, but the next nine similar players are not in the Hall, the next nine speak more loudly than the one.

2) saying that your candidate is equal to or better than the inducted player with the weakest claim on induction is a house of cards because that sort of lowest-common-demoninator logic will only serve to further lower the bar until we stop joking about Gary DiSarcina and start discussing his candidacy seriously.

Or something like that. Good book (Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame), all this Hall chat and $15 bucks to cash in at B&N as a result of Christmas has lead to me reading it as these discussions progress.

2006-01-06 05:51:14
9.   TFD
Cliff: Thanks. I really like #2.....SOOOOO true.
2006-01-06 06:50:46
10.   The Real Neal
You know what bothers me most about 95% of the hall of fame discussions here and around the internet is the leaning on sabermatics.

In MLB (that is among players, coaches, managers and GM's) it is just really starting to sink in now that OBP is a very important statistic or 'goal'. But you're using it's value to evaluate players that played 25 years ago. Players who were ignorant that 25 years later some internet bloggers were going to petition for them to be included or denied the Hall of Fame based on the # of walks they had. Had someone told Andre Dawson in 1984 'Hey Andre if you want to make the Hall of Fame, we need you to sacrifice some 20 hits and 20 RBI's over the coarse of the season for 40 walks' and then explained to him that it was helping his team win, I'm pretty sure he would have done it.

You have two tribes 20,000 years ago. One uses spears to hunt, one uses spear throwers to hunt. Tog the best hunter in the spear tribe makes 100 kills a year. Gorbo, the best hunter in the spear-thrower makes 200 kills a year. But now Tog doesn't get into the Hunter's hall of fame because being evaluated in a different manner he's only half as good as Gorbo.

One final remark, and that is about the word 'Fame'. Fame: the state of being famous or well-known and well-spoken of

When you collect your sabermatic information about players you disregard how famous the player was/is. Even though I can see Bobby Grich's WARP3's on baseball prospectus, most people remember him as a 2B that had one big power year in the early 80's. Most people remember Puckett as a the leader of a world championship team who could 'do it all'. Where did Grich bat in the lineup? How did he wind up scoring runs at 85% and driving them in at 88% of a per game rate compared to Sandberg despite having almost identicle OBPS?

Oh one 2nd final remark. Quit using Win Shares for modern players, the statistic is blantantly incorrect. You take a team's wins and multiply them by 3, then devide them by the player's contribution over the entire season (wins and losses). Your denominator should only involve those statistics accrued in the games won. Not the games lost. If a player hits a home run in a 13-2 loss, how does that add up to any fraction of a win-share?

2006-01-06 08:40:21
11.   Mike Carminati
The Real Neal,

Thank you, that was hilarious. Great stuff.

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