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The New Phonebooks, Er, Hall of Fame Ballots Are Here!
2003-11-30 02:02
by Mike Carminati

Major League Baseball announced the new Hall of Fame ballot with 15 new players and 17 returnees. Here they all are (an xindicates a newly eligible player):

Bert Blyleven
x-Joe Carter
Dave Concepcion
x-Danny Darwin
Andre Dawson
x-Doug Drabek
x-Dennis Eckersley
x-Jim Eisenreich
x-Cecil Fielder
Steve Garvey
Rich Gossage
Keith Hernandez
Tommy John
x-Jimmy Key
x-Dennis Martinez
Don Mattingly
x-Kevin Mitchell
x-Paul Molitor
Jack Morris
Dale Murphy
x-Randy Myers
Dave Parker
x-Terry Pendleton
Jim Rice
x-Juan Samuel
Ryne Sandberg
Lee Smith
x-Dave Stieb
Bruce Sutter
x-Bob Tewksbury
Alan Trammell
Fernando Valenzuela.

Last year I ran an analysis of the 2003 ballot as it was released, and I want to do something similar this year.

First, let's look at the categories that Bill James developed in his multi-titled Hall-of-Fame book. They are:
The Black Ink test: Represents the number of times a player led his league in a major category. So named for the boldface used to denote league-leaders in the baseball encyclopedias. The average for Hall of Famer fell from 40 to 27 in the last year (clearly because of the difficulty that expansion-era players have in securing a league lead in a category with the added competition).

The Grey Ink test: Represents the number of times a player appears among his league's top ten in a major category. The average for Hall of Famer fell from 185 to 144 in the last year.

Hall of Fame Standards: Awards points for various career achievements. The average HoFer is a 50 on the scale and the max is 100.

Hall of Fame Monitor: Awards points for various career and seasonal achievements and is weighted per position to reflect actual HoF makeup.

[For the specifics of each test, check out (, the source I used for these data.]

For each test, I will compare the given player against the Hall average to determine if he is a deserving candidate.

Next, I will take a look at each player's most similar batters/pitchers and how many are in the Hall right now. If it's over 50%, one would expect that the player's plaque wouldn't look out of place in the Hall. (I realize that this does not take into account similar players who are active or who are not yet eligible for the Hall, but nothing's perfect. As a very wise bathroom stall once said my freshman year, "Always a critic. Never a cricket.")

In addition, I will list the all-time Win Shares ranking for each player. Given that there are now 209 players in the Hall who were elected as players, either by the writers or veterans, if the given player is ranked among the top 209 all-time, one would think that he would fit in at the Hall, Pete Rose notwithstanding.

Finally, I will assess each player according to how well he performs in all of these tests.

And away we go…

NameFirst Year Black Ink (Avg 27)>HOF AvgGray Ink (Avg 144) >HOF AvgHOF Standard (Avg 50)>HOF AvgHOF Monitor (Likely >100) Likely HOF?
Bert Blyleven199716No239Yes50.0Yes113.5Yes
Joe Carter20039No103No31.2No88.5No
Dave Concepcion19930No25No29.1No107.0Yes
Danny Darwin20036No43No20.0No28.0No
Andre Dawson200111No164Yes43.7No117.5Yes
Doug Drabek20038No102No21.0No35.0No
Dennis Eckersley20038No130No34.0No166.0Yes
Jim Eisenreich20030No4No15.5No16.0No
Cecil Fielder200324No63No21.6No75.0No
Steve Garvey199212No142No31.5No131.0Yes
Rich Gossage19999No41No19.0No118.0Yes
Keith Hernandez199514No118No32.0No86.0No
Tommy John19948No137No44.0No100.0Yes
Jimmy Key200315No96No33.0No59.0No
Dennis Martinez200317No135No37.0No60.0No
Don Mattingly200023No111No34.1No134.0Yes
Kevin Mitchell200311No46No23.5No37.5No
Paul Molitor200324No145Yes59.1Yes165.0Yes
Jack Morris199920No190Yes39.0No108.5Yes
Dale Murphy199831Yes147Yes34.3No115.5Yes
Randy Myers20039No31NoNo94.0No
Dave Parker199626No145Yes41.1No125.5Yes
Terry Pendleton200310No51No15.8No38.0No
Jim Rice199433Yes176Yes42.9No147.0Yes
Juan Samuel20035No57No18.7No26.0No
Ryne Sandberg200214No134No42.7No157.0Yes
Lee Smith200212No48No13.0No136.0Yes
Dave Stieb200317No142No27.0No55.5No
Bruce Sutter199315No30No17.0No87.0No
Bob Tewksbury20037No45No10.0No11.0No
Alan Trammell20010No48No40.4No119.0Yes
Fernando Valenzuela200219No134No25.0No64.5No

Sorry, had to break up the table:

NameFirst Year # Similar in Hall>50% WS Rank (209 players in)W/in HOF Range% Passed
Bert Blyleven19978Yes101Yes83.33%
Joe Carter20032No349No0.00%
Dave Concepcion19933No243No16.67%
Danny Darwin20030No671No0.00%
Andre Dawson20015Yes100Yes66.67%
Doug Drabek20030No1052No0.00%
Dennis Eckersley20032No170Yes33.33%
Jim Eisenreich20030NoN/A (over 1052)No0.00%
Cecil Fielder20030No834No0.00%
Steve Garvey19921No222No16.67%
Rich Gossage19992No427No16.67%
Keith Hernandez19950No155Yes16.67%
Tommy John19947Yes195Yes50.00%
Jimmy Key20030No628No0.00%
Dennis Martinez20033No378No0.00%
Don Mattingly20002No266No16.67%
Kevin Mitchell20030No695No0.00%
Paul Molitor20037Yes38Yes83.33%
Jack Morris19996Yes415No50.00%
Dale Murphy19981No181Yes66.67%
Randy Myers20030NoN/A (over 1052)No0.00%
Dave Parker19962No118Yes50.00%
Terry Pendleton20031No540No0.00%
Jim Rice19944No213No50.00%
Juan Samuel20030No714No0.00%
Ryne Sandberg20021No93Yes33.33%
Lee Smith20021No564No16.67%
Dave Stieb20030No484No0.00%
Bruce Sutter19930No782No0.00%
Bob Tewksbury20030NoN/A (over 1052)No0.00%
Alan Trammell20011No133Yes33.33%
Fernando Valenzuela20020No782No0.00%

By this Herculean task list, it appears that the strongest candidates are Molitor, Blyleven, Dawson, Murphy, John, Morris, Parker, Rice, Sandberg, Eckersley, and Trammell.

Unfortunately, that does not reflect the writers' voting over the last few years. Here are the 2002 and 2003 voting results for each of the candidates with their all-time high and my assessment of their chances for enshrinement:

NameFirst Year 2002 HOF%2003 HoF%High?Verdict
Bert Blyleven199726.2729.2329.23Veterans' Committee unless gathers steam
Joe Carter2003Unlikely
Dave Concepcion199311.8610.2816.91Veterans' Committee
Danny Darwin2003Dropped
Andre Dawson200145.3450.0050.00Not in 2003, maybe within 5 years
Doug Drabek2003Dropped
Dennis Eckersley20032004 inductee
Jim Eisenreich2003Dropped
Cecil Fielder2003Dropped
Steve Garvey199228.3927.8242.61Veterans' Committee
Rich Gossage199943.0142.1444.19Not in 2004, maybe someday but treading water
Keith Hernandez19956.146.0510.40Unlikely, possibly dropped
Tommy John199426.9123.3928.29Veterans' Committee
Jimmy Key2003Dropped
Dennis Martinez2003Unlikely
Don Mattingly200020.3413.7128.10Veterans' Committee
Kevin Mitchell2003Dropped
Paul Molitor20032004 inductee
Jack Morris199920.5522.7822.78Veterans' Committee
Dale Murphy199814.8311.6923.20Veterans' Committee
Randy Myers2003Dropped
Dave Parker199613.9810.2824.52Veterans' Committee
Terry Pendleton2003Dropped
Jim Rice199455.0852.2257.75Not in 2004, maybe someday but treading water
Juan Samuel2003Dropped
Ryne Sandberg200249.2049.202004 or 2005 inductee
Lee Smith200242.3442.34Not in 2004, maybe someday
Dave Stieb2003Dropped
Bruce Sutter199350.4253.6353.63Not in 2004, slowly growing base but running out of time
Bob Tewksbury2003Dropped
Alan Trammell200115.6814.1115.68Veterans' Committee
Fernando Valenzuela20026.256.25Unlikely; probably dropped

Note that of the 17 new names peppering the 2003 ballot, all but four—Sandberg, Smith, Valenzuela, and Eddie Murray, who was elected—were dropped for failing to meet the 5% criterion, i.e., that a player receive 5% of the vote to remain on the ballot for subsequent elections.

Next, I would like to run some players who are no longer eligible for the baseball writers' ballot, including Jim Kaat who ran out of options last year. I believe that there are a number of strong candidates that have fallen through the cracks, so I selected a handful among the higher Win Shares ranks:

NameBlack Ink (Avg 27)>HOF AvgGray Ink (Avg 144) >HOF AvgHOF Standard (Avg 50)>HOF AvgHOF Monitor (Likely >100) Likely HOF?
Jim Kaat19No128No44.0No120.5Yes
Ron Santo11No147Yes40.9No88.0No
Darrell Evans8No82No40.3No42.0No
Dwight Evans15No113No43.3No69.5No
Bobby Grich8No40No31.7No42.0No
Lou Whitaker1No31No42.8No92.0No
Dick Allen27Yes159Yes38.7No99.0No
Reggie Smith4No124No34.7No63.0No
Graig Nettles4No56No30.8No63.0No
Jack Clark9No87No34.4No27.0No
Ted Simmons0No95No44.5No125.0Yes
Name# Similar in Hall>50% WS Rank(209 players in)W/in HOF Range% Passed
Jim Kaat7Yes248No33.33%
Ron Santo0No123Yes33.33%
Darrell Evans2No73Yes16.67%
Dwight Evans3No92Yes16.67%
Bobby Grich0No115Yes16.67%
Lou Whitaker1No88Yes16.67%
Dick Allen1No97Yes50.00%
Reggie Smith0No120Yes16.67%
Graig Nettles0No128Yes16.67%
Jack Clark0No138Yes16.67%
Ted Simmons4No142Yes33.33%

There are a good number of strong candidates in the list although very few received much attention from the writers:

NameHigh HoF %Verdict
Jim Kaat29.48%VC
Ron Santo43.13%VC
Darrell Evans1.74%No
Dwight Evans10.36%No
Bobby Grich2.55%No
Lou Whitaker2.91%No
Dick Allen18.90%VC
Reggie Smith0.70%No
Graig Nettles8.33%No
Jack Clark1.48%No
Ted Simmons3.73%No

These are generally speaking players who did many things well but their achievements did not necessarily translate into the countable stats that voters love. I don't think any would be out of place in the Hall—that's not to say that I support all of them being enshrined. Though it appears unlikely that any other than Kaat, Santo, and Allen will be rescued by the veterans—the first two being broadcasters with pretty compelling cases (Rizzuto anyone?) and Allen having superior stats that will eventually overcome his bad rep. I personally have a soft spot for the Evanses, Grich, and Sweet Lou among the rest. Reggie Smith may be the most underrated player of all time.

If I had a vote in the writers' election, I would vote for Molitor, Blyleven, Sandberg, Eckesley, and Gossage, probably in that order.

Bruce Sutter is probably the single most important reliever in baseball history. That is, if one were telling the story of relieving (which I have) and one had to reduce that story to one pivotal person, then Sutter would be the guy. He was the first modern reliever. If that's not deserving of a plaque, I'm not sure what is. Morgan Bulkeley and Candy Cummings did far less to earn theirs, that's for sure. Both Sutter and Gossage suffer from the constantly changing standards for relievers.

Then I would pad out the rest with borderline guys like Dawson, Rice, John, Murphy, Parker, or Trammell.

Huh, why do that? Doesn't it cheapen the Hall?

I've got news for you folks: the Hall was cheapened within a decade of opening its doors, back in the Forties, thanks to the old Veterans' Committee, then called the Permanent Committee. While greats like Lefty Grove and Jimmie Foxx couldn't get the writers' time of day, the Permanent Committee was Tinkering-to-Evering-to-Chancing with the results to get flotillas full of olde-tyme players in and very often not the best players.

I see the austerity of today's voters as a direct reprisal to the elections of such non-greats as Travis Jackson and Ross Youngs. Ideals are all fine and good, but until they start kicking out the riffraff, I'm making sure that the heroes of my youth that fit the de facto Hall standard get in.

One last thing—there are a number of candidates floating on the periphery that will have a couple of elections to sell their cases. In 2005, Wade Boggs is a no-brainer but unless you're a big Chili Davis fan there's not much else. In 2006, Will Clark appears to be the best of the lot, though the busted careers of Daryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden will be open to review (I love the Eighties, strikes back). 2007's class features Tony Gwynn, Mark McGwire, and Cal Ripken, all of whom should be first-ballot types. Then were back to one candidate for the next two years (Tim Raines in 2008, who may have an unduly hard time, and possibly just Roger Clemens in 2009, though Rickey Henderson could join that class).

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