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The Calm Before the Storm
2005-11-30 22:25
by Mike Carminati
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 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, sir."

"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 topic—or at least leave it ajar—and 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:

NameWin SharesYrVotesBallotsPCT
Jewel Ens3195011680.60%
Al Schacht8193912740.36%
Al Schacht8194821211.65%
Al Schacht8195142261.77%
Al Schacht8195611930.52%
Jim Beauchamp11197904320.00%
Eddie Dyer12194711610.62%
John Stephenson17197904320.00%
Ivan Murrell20198003850.00%
Jose Morales22199004440.00%
Bob Barton23198003850.00%
John Boccabella23198003850.00%
Jimmy Stewart24197904320.00%
Clyde Sukeforth25195812660.38%
Jeff Torborg25197904320.00%

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:

NameWin SharesYrVotesBallotsPCT
Ivan Murrell20198003850.00%
Jose Morales22199004440.00%
Bob Barton23198003850.00%
John Boccabella23198003850.00%
Mike Ryan28198003850.00%
Phil Gagliano29198003850.00%
Norm Miller33198003850.00%
John Kennedy38198003850.00%
Terry Crowley39198904470.00%
Andy Kosco40198003850.00%
Champ Summers40199004440.00%
Chris Cannizzaro40198003850.00%
Jim Gosger43198003850.00%
Paul Casanova46198003850.00%
Lew Krausse53198003850.00%
Tony Scott53199004440.00%
John Wathan55199104430.00%
Bob Bailor57199104430.00%
Dick Selma57198003850.00%
Jim Bouton59198434030.74%
Pat Zachry60199104430.00%
Sonny Jackson61198013850.26%
Jim Deshaies68200115150.19%

This year's ballot also contains six—count 'em, six—relievers. That's among the most ever:

Yr# Relievers

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:

NameFirst YearYrs Elig Left
Rick Aguilera200615
Albert Belle200615
Bert Blyleven19998
Will Clark200615
Dave Concepcion19943
Andre Dawson200211
Gary DiSarcina200615
Steve Garvey19932
Alex Fernandez200615
Gary Gaetti200615
Dwight Gooden200615
Rich Gossage20009
Ozzie Guillen200615
Orel Hershiser200615
Gregg Jefferies200615
Tommy John19954
Doug Jones200615
Don Mattingly200110
Willie McGee200514
Hal Morris200615
Jack Morris20009
Dale Murphy19998
Dave Parker19976
Jim Rice19954
Lee Smith200312
Bruce Sutter19943
Alan Trammell200211
Walt Weiss200615
John Wetteland200615
…And the Rest,,,
Lance Johnson20060
Mike Stanley20060
Roberto Kelly20060
Tim Belcher20060
Luis Polonia20060
Mickey Morandini20060

Now, let's run the candidates through the Bill James criteria for Hall readiness:

NameBlack Ink (Avg 40 P, 27 B)>HOF AvgGray Ink (Avg 185 P, 144 B)>HOF AvgHOF Standard (Avg 50)>HOF AvgHOF Monitor (Likely >100)Likely HOF?
Rick Aguilera3No30No12.0No90.0No
Albert Belle28Yes137No36.1No134.5Yes
Bert Blyleven16No239Yes50.0Yes120.5Yes
Will Clark13No94No41.9No83.5No
Dave Concepcion0No25No29.1No106.5Yes
Andre Dawson11No164Yes43.7No118.0Yes
Gary DiSarcina0No2No14.9No4.0No
Steve Garvey12No142No31.5No130.5Yes
Alex Fernandez0No77No13.0No12.0No
Gary Gaetti1No31No29.5No51.5No
Dwight Gooden23No139No40.0No88.5No
Rich Gossage9No41No19.0No126.0Yes
Ozzie Guillen0No11No16.8No29.0No
Orel Hershiser20No129No34.0No90.5No
Gregg Jefferies2No25No17.1No19.0No
Tommy John8No137No44.0No111.0Yes
Doug Jones0No29No11.0No79.0No
Don Mattingly23No111No34.1No133.5Yes
Willie McGee12No56No22.9No77.5No
Hal Morris0No21No18.0No23.0No
Jack Morris20No190Yes39.0No122.5Yes
Dale Murphy31Yes147Yes34.3No115.5Yes
Dave Parker26No145Yes41.1No125.5Yes
Jim Rice33Yes176Yes42.9No146.5Yes
Lee Smith12No48No13.0No136.0Yes
Bruce Sutter15No30No17.0No91.0No
Alan Trammell0No48No40.4No118.5Yes
Walt Weiss0No9No19.9No29.0No
John Wetteland3No30No0.0No93.0No
…And the Rest,,,
Lance Johnson12No44No17.2No30.5No
Mike Stanley0No3No25.0No5.5No
Roberto Kelly1No12No16.9No9.0No
Tim Belcher4No67No12.0No21.5No
Luis Polonia0No12No17.2No5.0No
Mickey Morandini0No8No17.0No7.0No

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 HallSim Elig?>50%Win Shares> HOF Avg (337.759)% Passed
Rick Aguilera06No147No0%
Albert Belle13No243No33%
Bert Blyleven810Yes339Yes83%
Will Clark04No331No0%
Dave Concepcion38No269No17%
Andre Dawson58Yes340Yes67%
Gary DiSarcina08No65No0%
Steve Garvey15No279No17%
Alex Fernandez09No110No0%
Gary Gaetti08No249No0%
Dwight Gooden15No187No0%
Rich Gossage210No223No17%
Ozzie Guillen210No148No0%
Orel Hershiser29No210No0%
Gregg Jefferies06No162No0%
Tommy John710Yes289No33%
Doug Jones07No146No0%
Don Mattingly27No263No17%
Willie McGee010No224No0%
Hal Morris08No104No0%
Jack Morris68Yes225No50%
Dale Murphy18No294No50%
Dave Parker28No327No33%
Jim Rice46Yes282No67%
Lee Smith15No198No17%
Bruce Sutter04No168No0%
Alan Trammell15No318No17%
Walt Weiss19No123No0%
John Wetteland04No128No0%
…And the Rest,,,
Lance Johnson09No155No0%
Mike Stanley06No145No0%
Roberto Kelly07No137No0%
Tim Belcher08No132No0%
Luis Polonia08No124No0%
Mickey Morandini19No119No0%

Finally, here are the last four years' voting results per player and my verdict on each:

Name2002 HOF%2003 HoF%2004 HoF%2005 HoF%High?Verdict
Rick AguileraDropped by BBWAA
Albert BelleRemain on ballot
Bert Blyleven26.2729.2335.38%40.89%40.89%Within three years if he keeps momentum
Will ClarkRemain on ballot, Veterans Committee
Dave Concepcion11.8610.2811.26%10.66%16.91%Veterans' Committee
Andre Dawson45.3450.0050.00%52.33%52.33%Not in 2006, maybe within 5 years
Gary DiSarcinaDropped by BBWAA
Steve Garvey28.3927.8224.31%20.54%42.61%Veterans' Committee
Alex FernandezDropped by BBWAA
Gary GaettiRemain on ballot
Dwight GoodenRemain on ballot
Rich Gossage43.0142.1440.71%55.23%55.23%2007 or '08 inductee
Ozzie GuillenStay on ballot one year due to WS win
Orel HershiserRemain on ballot, Veterans Committee
Gregg JefferiesDropped by BBWAA
Tommy John26.9123.3921.94%23.84%28.35%Veterans' Committee
Doug JonesDropped by BBWAA
Don Mattingly20.3413.7112.85%11.43%28.16%Veterans' Committee
Willie McGee5.04%5.04%Dropped by BBWAA
Hal MorrisDropped by BBWAA
Jack Morris20.5522.7826.28%33.33%33.33%Veterans' Committee
Dale Murphy14.8311.698.50%10.47%23.25%Veterans' Committee; Dropped by BBWAA in 2005
Dave Parker13.9810.2810.47%12.60%24.52%Veterans' Committee
Jim Rice55.0852.2254.55%59.50%59.50%2006 or '07 inductee
Lee Smith42.3436.56%38.76%42.34%Veterans' Committee
Bruce Sutter50.4253.6359.49%66.67%66.67%2006 inductee
Alan Trammell15.6814.1113.83%16.86%16.86%Veterans' Committee
Walt WeissDropped by BBWAA
John WettelandDropped by BBWAA
2005-12-01 19:26:59
1.   das411
Ahh, but Mike, if you were at the Vet on August 25th 1995, no way would you say Gregg Jefferies gets dropped right away.

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...

2005-12-05 13:42:01
2.   BiasedGiantsFanatic
I still cannot believe that Willie Mays and Hank Aaron were not 100% of the votes. Or we even could even start at the beginning with Babe Ruth. How could any writer of sufficient intelligence not see that they were Hall of Famers?

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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