Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Hall of Fame banter....

As next July is officially like...uh, under a year away...I am becoming increasingly giddy thinking about our trip to my parents home in Cooperstown, NY to see the greatest shortstop in baseball history inducted into the Hall of Fame. Cal Ripken, Jr. will soon take his rightful spot next to the revered greats of the sport and we will be there front and center to watch it unfold. The excitement got me thinking...who else was eligible among Cal's class (except of course for Tony Gwynn)? A little research yielded the following list of those eligible for first time induction in the upcoming years:
*Players eligible for the first time for BBWAA election

Harold Baines, Derek Bell, Dante Bichette, Bobby Bonilla, Jeff Brantley, Jay Buhner, Ken Caminiti, Jose Canseco, Eric Davis, Tony Fernandez, Tony Gwynn, Darryl Hamilton, Pete Harnisch, Charlie Hayes, Glenallen Hill, Ken Hill, Stan Javier, Wally Joyner, Ramon Martinez, Mark McGwire, Paul O’Neill, Gregg Olson, Cal Ripken Jr., Bret Saberhagen, Jeff Shaw, Kevin Tapani, Devon White, Bobby Witt


Shawon Dunston, Travis Fryman, David Justice, Mike Morgan, Tim Raines, Randy Velarde


Mark Grace, Rickey Henderson, Dean Palmer, Dan Plesac, Matt Williams


Andres Galarraga, Edgar Martinez, Robin Ventura

Ouch. Outside of Gwynn and Ripken...it's some slim pickins. But I submit to you the following list of players that certainly worthy a long hard look:

Harold Baines -

Looking good as an Oriole

Relevant #s:
-22 seasons, 9908 ABs, 2866 Hs, 384 HRs, 1628 RBIs, .289 BA, .356 OBP
-6 time All-Star
-Had 100+ Postseasons AB with 5HRs and a .324 BA
-His 1628 RBIs are 23rd All Time

Baines was one of the iconic hitters of the 80s and remained VERY productive throughout the 90s with the A's, Orioles, White Sox, and Indians as a DH and clubhouse leader. Though he didn't ever win an MVP (only finishing as high as ninth in MVP voting in 1985) he was a model of hitting consistency and if Dave Winfield gets in I say Baines gets in.

As for the rest of the 2007 class - sorry Canseco and McGwire you are forever tainted by steroids and if you get in and sully the Ripken/Gwynn love fest I will not be held responsible for my actions. Paul O'Neil will earn some votes out of NY but his numbers just don't warrant serious consideration (2105 Hs, 281 HRs). Other interesting candidates:
-Tony Fernandez - seemed destined to land in the Hall as late as 1993 but injuries and inconsistency sunk him.
-Gregg Olson - to this day threw the best breaking ball I've ever seen. An Oriole favorite of mine if injuries didn't catch up to him he might have been one of the best closers ever.

Tim Raines

Look out! Rock's 'bout to run!

Relevant #s:
-23 seasons, 8872 ABs, 2605 Hs, 170 HRs, 1330 BBs, .294 BA, .385 OBP
-7 Time All Star
-3 Times in the Top 10 MVP voting
-The big number though is 808 SBs, 5th All Time.

Again, like Baines, you don't talk about the greats of the 80s without mentioning Rock. The guy flat out flew on the base paths and remained a useful player off the bench up until his retirment in 2002 (he batted .303 in 90 ABs in 2001). I think Rock will suffer, again, like Baines, for not being dominate over a shorter period of time. Instead being a player that transitioned from dominant All-Star into valuable role player. Unfair.

Outside of the Rock there is no one. Dave Justice? Nope, injuries. Dunston? Nada...messed up names does not a Hall of Famer make.

Well of course Rickey is going to make it - unless he pushes back induction a few more years by being picked up for a late season run by the Yankees next year. But other than him - none of these guys has a shot. Mark Grace would come the closest with his 2445 Hs and .303BA - but if Gracey makes it so does Wally Joyner and John Olerud...and that...ain't...gonna happen.


So here's an interesting quandary - Edgar Martinez - very similar to Baines in many ways, 7 Time All Star, dominated DH for about a decade...but unlike Baines never transitioned into a platoon player and therefore failed to amass any eye-popping numbers. So what is a Hall of Famer? Does Baines not get any credit for the 10+ years he spent coming off the bench, platooning in Baltimore, Chicago and Oakland...and in fact does he get penalized for it as surely some will say that his numbers should be discredited because he was only "padding stats by lingering along well past his prime". Does Edgar get special treatment because of his chronic injuries, "Give him the benefit of the doubt, if he doesn't have those stints on the DL he would have amassed Hall of Fame numbers", but I submit this:
  • Baines should be credited for his durability and constant value to all of his teams over 22 full seasons.
  • Martinez's injuries made him unreliable and while unfortunate, kept him from reaching even the lower floors of suitable Hall of Fame numbers

The argument over whether a pure DH should be admitted into the Hall of Fame is moot here because while Baines did play the outfield for several of his first few seasons - both of these players were essentially full time DHs.

Martinez is seen as a dominant hitter over a short period of time. But it's not true - Martinez played over 18 seasons - however he was hurt for a significant portion of 6 of them. So those who make this argument are giving him credit for being chronically injured. Compare the following stats:

18 seasons, .312 BA, 309 HRs, 2247 Hs, 1261 RBIs, 1219 Rs

15 seasons, .303 BA, 284 HRs, 2176 Hs, 1205 RBIs, 1186 Rs

The top line of stats is Edgar Martinez, the bottom, Will Clark.

Point being Edgar was overrated and if anyone says he should get in and Baines doesn't get in I'll be ticked.

Thoughts? Comments?


Josh said...

I think if you have to spend more than three words arguing for someone, they don't deserve induction. That's why, out of all those names, only two deserve entry into the Hall: Gwynn and Henderson.

(I can hear your blood boiling from here).

Adam said...

When I first read your mention of "Gregg Olson" I thought, "Tim has gone insane. Gregg Olson wasn't even that great of a Braves catcher." Now I realize that the second "g" is not silent, and is integral in distinguishing the two.

Man, you have an embarassing obsession with baseball. How do you get any law schoolin' done?

Brad said...

My vote is on Fryman for 2008 - although I couldn't imagine why I'm picking him...

DAve said...

A better comparison for Baines and Martinez would be Paul Molitor (because of the DH thing):

21 seasons, .306 BA, 234 HR, 3319 H, 1307 RBI, 1782 R.

162 game avgs:
PM: .306, 14 HR, 200 H, 79 RBI, 108 R.
EM: .312, 24 HR, 177 H, 99 RBI, 96 R.
HB: .289, 22 HR, 164 H, 93 RBI, 74 R.

I've always thought Baines was a HOF'er, and Molitor's already in. But Edgar beats them both in 3 categories and isn't last in any.

But then you look at other players with comparable stats for each (measured by, I assume, consistency across the entirety of a career):

PM: Yount, Brett, Waner, Clemente
EM: Clark, Olerud, B. Williams
HB: Tony Perez, Al Kaline, Dave Parker

Edgar suffers because his career is defined by 6 or so great seasons while Baines and Molitor had 12-15 very good ones.

What does all this mean? I don't know - I just think baseball-reference.com is the bomb.

Stanicek said...

Oh, trust me - I would be half the man I am today without baseball-reference.com. It's one of my favorite sites in the history of everness. I don't know why I haven't linked to it from the blog.

The thing about using the 162 game averages for Edgar is that it gives him too much credit for being one of the most chronically injured players in recent history. I take that into account when comparing him against other players of his time. I refuse to laud/lament him for being hurt all the time.

Jmac said...

OK, I mean you're an Orioles fan and all, so you like Harold Baines ... and that's cool. But I don't necessarily think Marty Barrett should get in to the Hall of Fame solely because he's a former Red Sox player.

Edgar Martinez had 10 seasons where he hit more than .300 and has, as you even concede, better 162-game averages than Baines. This is a really, really weird argument to push.

I mean Baines was a solid player, but shouldn't the Hall of Fame be reserved for players who were, you know, actually worthy of being in the Hall of Fame?

Stanicek said...

Au contraire JMac - I never conceded that Edgar's 162 game numbers were superior - if you look at them again they aren't THAT much better than Baines AND, as I said before, Edgar's 162 game numbers are worthless in my opinion because he was hurt ALL the time - so using the 162 game stats for Edgar credits him for being chronically injured. I'm saying I think someone is more deserving for being a consistent, durable player over the course of his 22 year career instead of being a oft-injured unreliable very good player for 10 years.

Josh said...

The Hall of Fame is dead to me until Claudell Washington gets inducted.

ctrosecrans said...

greatest shortstop in baseball history? i'm pretty sure honus wagner is already in the hall

ctrosecrans said...

oh, and to mention gregg olson before bret saberhagen? for shame