Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
The Chase.--Third Day...
"D'ye see him?" cried Ahab; but the whale was not yet in sight.
"In his infallible wake, though; but follow that wake, that's all... Here's food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels;...How the wild winds blow...as the torn shreds of split sails lash the tossed ship they cling to. A vile wind that has no doubt blown ere this through prison corridors and cells, and wards of hospitals, and ventilated them, and now comes blowing hither as innocent as fleeces. Out upon it!--it's tainted...And yet, 'tis a noble and heroic thing, the wind! who ever conquered it? In every fight it has the last and bitterest blow. Run tilting at it, and you but run through it. Ha!...Would now the wind but had a body; but all the things that most exasperate and outrage mortal man, all these things are bodiless...These warm Trade Winds, at least, that in the clear heavens blow straight on, in strong and steadfast, vigorous mildness; and veer not from their mark, however the baser currents of the sea may turn and tack, and mightiest Mississippies of the land swift and swerve about, uncertain where to go at last. And by the eternal Poles! these same Trades that so directly blow my good ship on; these Trades, or something like them--something so unchangeable, and full as strong, blow my keeled soul along! To it! Aloft there! What d'ye see?"
"Nothing! and noon at hand!...I've oversailed him...Aye, he's chasing ME now; not I, HIM--that's bad; I might have known it, too...About! about!
Steering as she had done, the wind had been somewhat on the Pequod's quarter, so that now being pointed in the reverse direction, the braced ship sailed hard upon the breeze as she rechurned the cream in her own white wake.
Moby Dick-Or the Whale, Chapter 135, By "Don't Call Me Babe" Herman Melville
He said there's a storm coming in.
Last line in "The Terminator"
The new BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot was released the other day. It caused a little stir in the media a week before it was released since Bob Dupuy, MLB's COO and SOB, announced that Pete Rose would remain banned on his last year of eligibility. Like that was a surprise or something.
I guess with no clear-cut choice for enshrinement this season, that was the best they could do for a story.
It's a shame really since I think this will be a pivotal year for Hall voting. Of course, there is the very well researched Negro Leagues and pre-Negro Leagues ballot, which may close the book on this topicor at least leave it ajarand may be the first step in dissolving the ill-conceived Veterans Committee by committee that was set up two years ago.
For the writers' ballot, no clear-cut first-time candidates means that they can start to clear the docket of the older candidates who have been languishing in Hall-voting purgatory. Good news for the Sutters, Rices, and Blylevens of the world.
It also comes at a very opportune time, right before the first wave of steroid-era players. Next year's candidates include Mark McGwire, Ken Caminiti, and Wally Joyner, all admitted steroid users of sorts.
The steroid scandal in general and its looming intrusion into the supposed purity of the Hall voting could cause baseball writers to change their voting methodology from "Eenie Meenie Miney Moe" to "One Potato, Two Potato". Will they go after more of the small-ball types (Hello, Ozzie Guillen) or maybe the pre-'roid power hitters (OK, Jim Rice, we never liked you but at least you were clean) or perchance a closer or two (even Goose Gossage's mustache was clean). Maybe Pete Rose may get a few write-ins given this is his last year on the ballot and heck, that's at least a scandal or two ago.
Whichever way they go, those wacky writers will probably screw something. Sheez, somehow Gary DiSarcina made his way onto the ballot. What was Tim Foli unavailable? Craig Reynolds? Ivan DeJesus?
In total there are 14 newcomers on the ballot this year, ranging from Will Clark at the "decent candidate" end of the spectrum to the estimable Senor DiSarcina at the stinky end. DiSarcina may be the worst candidate on the ballot in a few decades. Not only was he a forgettable no-hit, all-field shortstop, he barely qualifies for eligibility. Yes, he played the obligatory ten season, 12 actually. But appeared in fewer than 20 games in four of those and in 100 or more in just six.
The man earned just 65 Win Shares in his illustrious career. Of course, that's nowhere near the worst totals that earned idiosyncratic votes in the early days of the Hall, but it's among the worst in the last 25 years. Here's the all-time worst to ever appear on a ballot or receive a vote:
Ens played just 67 games in four seasons and managed two and one-half more unremarkable seasons, all in Pittsburgh. Schacht was, of course, the "Crown Prince of Baseball", a role now filled by Bud Selig.
DiSarcina is arguably the worst candidate in 16 years. Jose Morales appeared on the 1980 ballot because, reportedly, someone lost a bet. Morales was a classic pinch-hitter type with the Expos and Twins who never played more than 104 games in a season nor collected more than 242 at-bats. Here are the worst in the last 25 years:
This year's ballot also contains sixcount 'em, sixrelievers. That's among the most ever:
The nine in 1980 were Roy Face, Pete Richert, Jack Aker, Hoyt Wilhelm, Frank Linzy, Don McMahon, Don Larsen, Dick Selma, and Bob Miller, and Wilhelm is the only one who was ever inducted.
OK, so enough with the preliminaries. Let's take a look at the ballot itself. I added in all first-year candidates with 100 or more Win Shares whether they made the ballot or not. I'll break the data into sections. First, demographic data:
|Name||First Year||Yrs Elig Left|
|And the Rest,,,|
Now, let's run the candidates through the Bill James criteria for Hall readiness:
|Name||Black Ink (Avg 40 P, 27 B)||>HOF Avg||Gray Ink (Avg 185 P, 144 B)||>HOF Avg||HOF Standard (Avg 50)||>HOF Avg||HOF Monitor (Likely >100)||Likely HOF?|
|And the Rest,,,|
Next are the Hall credentials of the most similar batters/pitchers and their career Win Shares. Also, for each criterion the candidate is compared against the Hall average, and an overall percentage of tests passed is listed:
|Name||# Similar in Hall||Sim Elig?||>50%||Win Shares||> HOF Avg (337.759)||% Passed|
|And the Rest,,,|
Finally, here are the last four years' voting results per player and my verdict on each:
|Name||2002 HOF%||2003 HoF%||2004 HoF%||2005 HoF%||High?||Verdict|
|Rick Aguilera||Dropped by BBWAA|
|Albert Belle||Remain on ballot|
|Bert Blyleven||26.27||29.23||35.38%||40.89%||40.89%||Within three years if he keeps momentum|
|Will Clark||Remain on ballot, Veterans Committee|
|Dave Concepcion||11.86||10.28||11.26%||10.66%||16.91%||Veterans' Committee|
|Andre Dawson||45.34||50.00||50.00%||52.33%||52.33%||Not in 2006, maybe within 5 years|
|Gary DiSarcina||Dropped by BBWAA|
|Steve Garvey||28.39||27.82||24.31%||20.54%||42.61%||Veterans' Committee|
|Alex Fernandez||Dropped by BBWAA|
|Gary Gaetti||Remain on ballot|
|Dwight Gooden||Remain on ballot|
|Rich Gossage||43.01||42.14||40.71%||55.23%||55.23%||2007 or '08 inductee|
|Ozzie Guillen||Stay on ballot one year due to WS win|
|Orel Hershiser||Remain on ballot, Veterans Committee|
|Gregg Jefferies||Dropped by BBWAA|
|Tommy John||26.91||23.39||21.94%||23.84%||28.35%||Veterans' Committee|
|Doug Jones||Dropped by BBWAA|
|Don Mattingly||20.34||13.71||12.85%||11.43%||28.16%||Veterans' Committee|
|Willie McGee||5.04%||5.04%||Dropped by BBWAA|
|Hal Morris||Dropped by BBWAA|
|Jack Morris||20.55||22.78||26.28%||33.33%||33.33%||Veterans' Committee|
|Dale Murphy||14.83||11.69||8.50%||10.47%||23.25%||Veterans' Committee; Dropped by BBWAA in 2005|
|Dave Parker||13.98||10.28||10.47%||12.60%||24.52%||Veterans' Committee|
|Jim Rice||55.08||52.22||54.55%||59.50%||59.50%||2006 or '07 inductee|
|Lee Smith||42.34||36.56%||38.76%||42.34%||Veterans' Committee|
|Bruce Sutter||50.42||53.63||59.49%||66.67%||66.67%||2006 inductee|
|Alan Trammell||15.68||14.11||13.83%||16.86%||16.86%||Veterans' Committee|
|Walt Weiss||Dropped by BBWAA|
|John Wetteland||Dropped by BBWAA|
And does the "But Kirby Puckett got voted in!!" argument come into play for Belle? He does seem like a much more interesting (read = cleaner) player than he did when he retired...
I wish there could be some way of shaming these people, like exposing their crummy voting history or something. I had thought maybe if they lose their right to vote if 95% (or pick a number) chose someone and you didn't, but that would just encourage people to vote yes just because they don't want to lose their vote. And the reverse would hold true too, if you voted for someone who didn't even get, say, 3% of the votes, you lose your vote. Maybe make it three strikes and you're out? Sorry, couldn't resist.
I was shocked to see Will Clark not more strongly qualified for the Hall, not because of the obvious Giants connection but because, while he had a great start, his career basically petered out after his unusual foot injury (some sort of nerve problem from what I recall). I was glad the Giants didn't re-sign him at those dollars, as much as I loved him as a player. The stats you posted for him, however, shows how close he is to matching the "criteria" for the HOF, coming just short on HOF Standard, HOF Monitor, and HOF Win Shares (just 7 points short of average). For the Win Share, it would have been interesting to also see what the low WS for the position is, as well as the point of whether he beats the average or not.
I think Bert Blyleven, Bruce Sutter, Goose Gossage and Lee Smith deserves to be in the hall. I think Dawson and Rice and Mattingly can make their cases but not make it.
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