Kamis, 01 Desember 2011

The 2012 BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot

The BBWAA announced its ballot for the Hall of Fame election in 2012. There are twenty-seven candidates- fourteen returnees and thirteen first-timers. Here's a quick breakdown for each of the 27, a prediction of their vote % in 2012, whether I would vote for them in 2012, whether I think they should be elected, whether I think they WILL be elected, and if I think they will be elected, when.

1. Barry Larkin: Larkin was a shortstop who spent his entire career as a member of the Cincinnati Reds. He easily ranks as one of the ten best shortstops of all-time, only clearly behind Jeter, Ripken, Rodriguez, Vaughan, and Wagner, and also possibly definitely behind George Davis and Bill Dahlen, depending on your opinions of timelining. He was a career .295/.371/.444 hitter over 9057 PA- a 116 OPS+. He was a great baserunner and an above-average defender at a valuable position. Due to his career 122 wRC+ at shortstop, defensive value, and baserunning value, fangraphs credits Larkin with 70.6 WAR. Rally gives him 68.9 rWAR. As far as peak, Larkin topped 6 wins twice, but 5 a total of seven times. From '88-'99, Larkin accumulated 61.7 wins. It's also important to consider he had the highest vote percentage of all returnees.

2012 Prediction: 70-80%
Ballot: 3rd
Would I vote for Larkin? Yes.
Do I think he should be in? Yes.
Do I think he will be in? Yes.
When? 2012 or 2013.

2. Jack Morris. Morris has a reputation as a "fearsome" pitcher. He has the most wins in the 1980s which many Morris supporters like to point out. With a 5.8 K rate and a 3.3 walk rate, Morris won't get bonus points there. His 3.90 unadjusted ERA is ugly. It isn't like Andy Pettitte's steroid era-inflated ERA. His ERA+ is a mere 105 and his WHIP is a highly unimpressive 1.296. 254 wins is a lot, but Rally estimates he only provided an excess of 39.3 wins over a replacement level pitcher. He only hit 5 rWAR once, reaching 4 rWAR four other times, and only 40.4 over the fourteen year period from 1979 to 1992, averaging less than 3 per season (By contrast Larkin, averaged over 5 during his prime). Unfortunately for Morris his momentum might have come too late to get in via the BBWAA, and as sabermetric stats become more mainstream it will become more apparent that Morris was not the best pitcher of the 1980s- he was behind Stieb, Hershiser, Saberhagen, and Clemens, at least.

2012 Prediction: 57-62%
Ballot: 13th
Would I vote for Morris? No.
Do I think Morris should be in? No.
Do I think Morris will be in? No.

3. Lee Arthur Smith: Smith was heralded when he retired by many as the most likely player active in 1996 to make the Hall of Fame. Lee, now in his 11th attempt, has stalled since he debuted over 42%, failing to reach 46% in any year. And rightfully so, in my opinion. Closers won't reach the automatic thresholds of value stats usually deemed necessary for inclusion, such as 60 WAR, 3000 innings with a great ERA+, or on the basis of a 5-year, 40 WAR peak. Closers need excellent peripherals and strikeout ability. Besides the best closer ever in Rivera, no active closers have much of a chance to pass Smith in deservedness, except maybe K-Rod or Nathan. I think Hoffman will be the next reliever elected and that Wagner should join him. Besides them, it should be Mo next.

2012 Prediction: 42-46 %
Ballot: 11th
Would I vote for Smith? No.
Do I think Smith should be in? No.
Do I think Smith will be in? Yes.
When? 2016 or via VC.

4. Jeff Bagwell. Bagwell was a slugging first baseman for the Houston Astros for his entire career. He hit 449 HR and batted .297/.408/.540 playing his home games in the Astrodome for the most part. With nearly 80 rWAR, Bagwell is a statistical lock. He would have been a first ballot mortal lock if it weren't for steroid suspicion. Bagwell is possibly the best retired National League first baseman of all-time, and a top-5 first baseman of all-time. Only Gehrig and Foxx are clearly better of retired 1B. Pujols is also better than Bags. Bags won the 1994 MVP with an outstanding season of 8.9 rWAR in a strike-shortened season.

2012 Prediction: 55-65 %
Ballot: 2nd
Would I vote for him? Yes
Do I think he should be in? Yes
Do I think he will be in? Yes
When? 2014 or 2015.

5. Tim Raines. Rock Raines was the slightly lesser National League version of Rickey Henderson. He swiped over 800 bases, has over 60 rWAR, a great peak, excellent longevity, great patience, and is a clear-cut Hall of Famer in my opinion. Rickey had more power but Raines was a better fielder. Rock has been gaining momentum since his 2008 debut and that should continue with Circle Me Bert off the ballot.

2012 Prediction: 40-45%
Ballot: 5th
Would I vote for Raines? Yes.
Do I think Raines should be in? Yes.
Do I think Raines will be in? Yes.
When? 2019 or 2020.

6. Edgar Martinez. Gar is probably the best Designated Hitter ever. With over 8500 PA, Martinez has a long enough career, given his career .312/.418/.515 line, good for a 147 OPS+. Martinez was a "feared" hitter, according to many, and, for once, his stats back this assertion up. He was on of the best hitters of his era, who had some fielding value before he blew out his legs. He had a monstrous peak from 1995 to 2001, where he hit .329/.446/.574 for a 163 OPS+ over 4477 PA. He was also a career Mariner for what it's worth.

2012 Prediction: 38-41 %
Ballot: 3rd
Would I vote for Martinez? Yes.
Do I think Martinez should be in? Yes.
Do I think Martinez will be in? Maybe.
When? If yes, then via Veterans Committee.

7. Alan Trammell. Trammell is similar to Larkin. A slightly worse hitter yet better fielder and worse baserunner, Trammell had an awesome peak, played his entire with the Detroit Tigers. As the shortstop half of the double play combination with Lou Whitaker, Trammell made a name for himself. He has over 65 WAR, and is basically tied with Larkin for the best modern day shortstop not in the Hall. He's also a clear-cut top-ten Shortstop of all-time.

2012 Prediction: 27-30%
Ballot: 11th
Would I vote for Trammell? Yes.
Do I think Trammell should be in? Yes.
Do I think Trammell will be in? No.

8. Larry Walker. Walker was one of the most gifted players of all-time. Over seventeen seasons with Montreal, Colorado, and St. Louis, Walker batted .313/.400/.565 over more than 8,000 PA. He was an excellent baserunner and a superb fielder with an awesome peak as a Rockie from 1997 to 2002 where he batted .353/.441/.648 over 3227 PA. His career 140 OPS+ with great defense is what leads to his career mark of 67.3 rWAR. From 1992 to 2002, an eleven year period, Walker racked up nearly 53 WAR over 5710 PA, or about 520 per season. His injuries sapped his overall effectiveness but he was still an excellent player.

2012 Prediction: 25-33 %
Ballot: 2nd
Would I vote for Walker? Yes.
Do I think Walker should be in? Yes.
Do I think Walker will be in? Yes.
When? Veteran's Committee or 2024-25.

9. Mark McGwire. McGwire, a career Athletic/Cardinal, should be in based on his stats- a stellar OBP and SLG good for a 163 OPS+, over 60 rWAR, and 583 HR, but isn't due to steroid controversy. Big Mac hit 70 bombs in 1998 and followed it with 65 in 1999, but both years along with the majority of his career is in doubt due to his admittal in 2010 that he used steroids. His vote totals barely waver. Some people also don't feel his career is Hall-worthy because all he did was mash Home Runs and draw walks. He only had about 1625 hits, yet nearly had a .400 OBP due to tons and tons of walks.

2012 Prediction: 18-25%
Ballot: 6th
Would I vote for McGwire? Yes.
Do I think McGwire should be in? Yes.
Do I think McGwire will be in? No.

10. Fred McGriff. All he needed was 7 more HR and 3 other extra hits in 1994 and he'd be in the Hall of Fame already, a first-ballot 2010 inductee alongside Andre Dawson. But alas, the 1994 strike happened. With those 7 1994 Homers and 3 other hits he had 41 in 1994- his first and would-be-only-, 500 HR in his career, and 2500 career hits. McGriff had over 10000 PA with a 134 OPS+ as it is, and over 50 WAR. He is about as borderline as can be. Even if those extra seven bombs and ten total hits wouldn't have made him better, the perception of him as a bona-fide slugger with a 40 HR campaign and 500 total would have gotten him in. Instead, he's stuck in limbo.

2012 Prediction: 18-22%
Ballot: 3rd
Would I vote for McGriff? Maybe.
Do I think McGriff should be in? Maybe.
Do I think McGriff will be in? Maybe.

11. Don Mattingly. Mattingly is another career one-teamer. The lifelong Yankee played fourteen seasons. Had his back not given out we probably would not be having this conversation because his performance from 1990 to 1995 would have improved and he would have played past 1995, thus passing 50 and perhaps 60 WAR, getting a championship as a Yank, and perhaps gaining first-ballot entry. His back did give out, however, and a 127 OPS+ with a great peak from a first baseman over less than 8,000 PA, even in spite of his defense, just does not cut it.

2012 Prediction: 10-15%
Ballot: 12th
Would I vote for Mattingly? No.
Do I think Mattingly should be in? No.
Do I think Mattingly will be in? No.

12. Dale Murphy. Murphy, a long-time Atlanta Brave, might be in if he had hit two more HR or not let his AVE drop precipitously in the end. The back-to-back National League Most Valuable Player in 1982 and 1983 ended with 398 HR and a .265 batting average. His 121 OPS+, and ~45 rWAR are both fine, but neither increases his odds of being bestowed with baseball's highest honor. He's a fine player but I'd rather Andre Dawson or Bernie Williams.

2012 Prediction: 10-12%
Ballot: 14th
Would I vote for Murphy? No.
Do I think Murphy should be in? No.
Do I think Murphy will be in? No.

13. Rafael Palmeiro. Cue McGwire. Palmeiro failed a steroid test in his final season, 2005, just mere weeks after swearing in front of Congress he'd never used Steroids. He claimed Miguel Tejada administered the B-12 shot secretly, but nobody believes that. Palmeiro, therefore, didn't even get a fifth of the votes necessary for induction despite 569 Home Runs, 3020 Hits, a 132 OPS+, over 12000 PA, and over 65 rWAR. He has no peak to speak of and added to his career value by way of 3-4 WAR campaigns, so he isn't as much of a statistical lock as many think. Regardless, I'd probably vote for him if I could.

2012 Prediction: 15-20%
Ballot: 2nd
Would I vote for Palmeiro? Yes.
Do I think Palmeiro should be in? Yes.
Do I think Palmeiro will be in? No.

14. Juan Gonzalez. Juan Gone and his 434 HR barely made the requisite 5 % threshold to stay on the ballot. An impatient hitter, Juan had massive power. He he been more disciplined he might have been among the greatest hitters of our generation. Gonzalez was also accused of juicing, but it doesn't matter because the steroids, if he used, didn't elevate him to Hall of Fame levels.

2012 Prediction: Below 5 %
Ballot: 2nd
Would I vote for Gonzalez? No.
Do I think Gonzalez should be in? No.
Do I think Gonzalez will be in? No.

The Newcomers:

A) Jeromy Burnitz- He's on the ballot for 315 Home Runs. Less than 2o WAR? No real substantive offensive peak? Less than 5 %, and deservedly so.

B) Vinny Castilla- 95 OPS+? Next.

C) Brian Jordan- I will forever hate Brian Jordan for hitting a Grand Slam off of John Franco in 2001, so luckily he doesn't stand a prayer at induction.

D) Javy Lopez- His monstrous offensive 2003- about 500 PA with a 170 OPS+ out of a catcher- will garner him some votes as will the similarities between him and Posada, but Posada is a far superior hitter and player.

E) Bill Mueller- He's only on the ballot because the 2003 and 2004 Red Sox employed him and he got lucky and hit .326 in a weak AVG class in the 2003 AL.

F) Terry Mulholland- Long career? Yes. Good pitcher? No.

G) Phil Nevin- He had an excellent 2000 and 2001, and was a solid hitter with 200+ HR, but he doesn't deserve it.

H) Brad Radke- The career Twin is the best pitcher on the list with a 148-139 record, great control, and over 40 rWAR. He might get 10 votes, but won't make the 5% cut.

I) Tim Salmon- With 37.6 rWAR and 299 HR, the career Angel and probable best offensive player in Angels history deserve to be on the ballot and maybe even make 5 % if Juan Gonzalez can. I don't expect him to though.

J) Ruben Sierra- 20 years and 306 HR out of a slugger? Three great season? Less than 15 rWAR? Next.

K) Bernie Williams- 287 HR, 4 World Series Rings, 16 seasons as a career Yankee, over 45 rWAR, over 2300 hits, a 125 OPS+... Bernie will fly past 5 % and I could see Bernie as high as 25 % in his first showing. He might eventually make it, but I don't think I'd vote for him.

L) Tony Womack- Ha. Ha. Ha.

M) Eric Young- See above.

In conclusion, I'd vote for Larkin, Bagwell, Raines, Martinez, Trammell, McGwire, Palmeiro, and Walker, and would think about McGriff.

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