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  1. Olerud is a borderline candidate (and actually better than both McGriff and McGwire in my view). The Hall, however, is overrepresented at first base and at the corner outfield slots. In twenty-five years, when the glaring omissions in the infield (Santo, Grich, Trammell, Whitaker) have been fixed by the Veterans’ Committee (led by a suspiciously large numbers of former Hall of Meriters), they can take a close look at Olerud.

    Comment by Mike Green — January 8, 2010 @ 10:13 am

  2. Neither Olerud nor Dawson should be in the hall. The HOF should be for the “best of the best”, and I don’t believe either player fits into that category.

    Comment by Adam — January 8, 2010 @ 10:22 am

  3. Goes to show how important Dawson’s counting totals and longevity were to voters. Hard to refute the class that 400/300 puts Dawson in. Olerud’s career wOBA says Hall of Very Good to me. You can argue for his great defense at first base, but when it only compares favorably with mediocre second and third basemen, it’s not terribly persuasive. Really doesn’t help that his baserunning cancels half of those defensive runs.

    Comment by Mike — January 8, 2010 @ 10:25 am

  4. Good read… Always a huge Olerud fan and loved to see his name on Fangraphs today!

    Comment by Matt B. — January 8, 2010 @ 10:30 am

  5. Thoroughly enjoyed this article. I was rooting for the argument to be compelling because I was a huge Olerud fan and the best 1B the Mets ever had. Their 1999 team was better than the one that made the WS because he was their rather than Zeile. I digress, that while he was a terrific player, I don’t see him as a Hall of Famer. But I don’t see Jeff Bagwell as a Hall of Famer either for that matter. I enjoyed the appreciation of his career and openly wonder if you’d have an interest of comparing it to the career of Keith Hernandez.

    Comment by Matt — January 8, 2010 @ 10:37 am

  6. Dude wore a helmet in the field, just like a guy I played with on the Mets. I say put him in the Hall for that.

    Comment by Rickey — January 8, 2010 @ 10:53 am

  7. “Dude wore a helmet in the field, just like a guy I played with on the Mets. I say put him in the Hall for that.”

    I LOL’d

    Comment by 405z06 — January 8, 2010 @ 11:01 am

  8. could someone explain to me how lou whitaker fell off the ballot after one year… his WRAA are virtually equal to Dawson’s… while the tigers are rebuilding nxt year they should give “sweet Lou” a plate apperance.. so he could return to the ballot inn 5 years when voters may have regained thier senses… had he played for the sox or the yanks.. first ballot

    Comment by Brian Lonsway — January 8, 2010 @ 11:41 am

  9. I’d be interested in a comparison with Will Clark. I know it makes me a homer as I am a life-long Giants fan, and seriously got into baseball in 1987 (which were right in the middle of Clark’s years as the team franchise).

    I was real disappointed when Will didn’t even receive enough votes to make it to a 2nd year on the ballot. He always seemed like the complete player to me.

    Comment by EricR — January 8, 2010 @ 11:46 am

  10. imo bagwell should be a lock for the HOF, his offensive numbers during the 90s were ridiculous and looking at BP’s total zone his defense was probably pretty good

    Comment by randy johnson's jockstrap — January 8, 2010 @ 11:48 am

  11. I, too, loved Olerud. He was the next-best thing to having Keith Hernandez at first base in New York. Speaking of whom, Hernandez — no. 102 on the all-time batter WAR list and probably the best fielder of all-time at his position — is more Hall of Fame-worthy in every way (except personality/character). If Olerud makes an interesting thought exercise about underrated first basemen, he also makes a stronger case for Hernandez’s candidacy.

    Comment by Pip — January 8, 2010 @ 11:53 am

  12. The problem is that while Olerud and Dawson may have been worth about the same over the years, Dawson’s play was decidedly sexier than the be-helmeted base-on-baller. Plus, as someone else pointed out, Dawson’s got that 400/300 thing going for him, and the weighty trophy cabinet.

    In the SABRHoF, Olerud might have a somewhat compelling case – which, admittedly, rather shocked me – but there’s no chance such methods are appreciated well enough to get him in to the regular ol’ Hall.

    Comment by Padman Jones — January 8, 2010 @ 12:06 pm

  13. If Olerud is a hall of famer, Cooperstown isn’t big enough to handle the expansion. You need to put the stat sheets down for a while and go watch some baseball.

    Comment by rocco — January 8, 2010 @ 12:10 pm

  14. The sporting equivalent of “you need to put down your bank statement and go off memory to determine how much you have in savings”. Guess which method will prove to be more accurate.

    Comment by Mister Delaware — January 8, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

  15. When comparing Olerud to the people he played against, can you even call him a great player? I don’t know specific numbers here so shoot me down if there are some out there, but he had 0 silver sluggers and 2 all star appearances? Was the voting terribly wrong a lot or was he just never much better than the people he played against?

    Comment by Big Red Machine — January 8, 2010 @ 12:45 pm

  16. You need to put the tedium down and go find another bridge to lurk under.

    Comment by joser — January 8, 2010 @ 12:58 pm

  17. I liked Olerud, especially for his play at the bag that made all his infield teammates better, and I really don’t give a damn about the HoF, but I can’t imagine he has a shot at Cooperstown.

    Comment by joser — January 8, 2010 @ 1:01 pm

  18. An equally valid question is why is Craig Biggio seen as a “first-ballot” Hall of Fame type while nobody gave Whitaker much consideration? Hint: personality and large, round numbers.

    Comment by TomG — January 8, 2010 @ 1:03 pm

  19. I support Jack’s Olerud-for-HoF campaign, but it won’t work. He had too much value tied to defense, and as a first baseman no one cares about defensive worth. He was a very good hitter, but he wasn’t a great one, and the voters simply won’t vote for a 1B who wasn’t a great hitter. Shame, because Olerud had an excellent career.

    Comment by Michael — January 8, 2010 @ 1:08 pm

  20. Just because someone in the hall of fame has a similar Wins above replacement does not mean someone else should get into the Hall with similar credentials. Dawson shouldn’t be in the hall and neither should John Olerud. The Hall should be for the best players in baseball history, not pretty good ones for a long time (and he only barely cracks that)

    Comment by Andrew Davis — January 8, 2010 @ 1:10 pm

  21. You could say that for any number of guys currently in the HOF. When people discuss a player’s HOF candidacy, they usually don’t simply say, “He looked like a good player on the field to me.” No, every single person will point to his stats, be it HR, RBI, SB or WAR, UZR, wRC.

    Of course, it actually would be nice if most of the voters watched baseball.

    Comment by q — January 8, 2010 @ 1:11 pm

  22. Based on their career numbers, neither McGriff nor Olerud have great HOF cases. However, the rub is that McGriff fits the “dominant player of his era” argument where Olerud does not. Olerud only had two Top 10% VORP seasons – in 1993 and 1998 – while McGriff had five: in 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992 and 1994. His 1988-1994, not McGriff’s overall career numbers, are what make him a HOF candidate. At the conclusion of that ’94 campaign, McGriff stood 23rd all-time in Adjusted OPS among qualifiers. While Olerud had a nice career, he hardly ever had a dominant stretch along these lines that would make one willing to overlook his career numbers and put him in the Hall.

    Comment by Mike G. — January 8, 2010 @ 1:15 pm

  23. Hey Mike, I’m just wondering why you think Olerud is better than McGriff. After looking at a comparison of their stats I was impressed by Olerud, as Olerud probably would have gotten close to a lot of McGriff’s final numbers in many of the counting stats (since Olerud finished his career with 1,165 at bats less than McGriff). Olerud never would have caught Fred in homeruns or slugging stats though, stats generally associated with a solid 1B.

    So Olerud’s case is a good contact hitter with decent gap power who player solid defense. McGriff’s is that of a power hitter who player league average to below average defense. Based on those stats alone the argument would be on personal preference, but if you then look at McGriff’s early-mid 90’s dominance including playoff performance and hardware, not to mention the fact that he hit 493 homeruns without being linked to PEDs, then I think the tables turn in Crime Dog’s favor. Nothing against Olerud, as I loved watching him play and probably would like him in the Hall as I’m a big hall guy. But I think the Crime Dog would have to get in first.

    Comment by Tim — January 8, 2010 @ 1:20 pm

  24. And after typing all that I looked at Olerud’s playoff experience and damn…pretty close to McGriff’s. McGriff’s is slightly better but he also had a smaller sample size, so maybe playoffs are a bit of a wash (especially since Olerud won 2 World Series to McGriff’s 1). So wow…those two guys are pretty close.

    Comment by Tim — January 8, 2010 @ 1:25 pm

  25. I thought the same thing.
    Clark: 8283 PA, .380 wOBA, 138 wRC+, 137 OPS+, 57.6 WAR*
    Olerud: 9063 PA, .376 wOBA, 133 wRC+, 128 OPS+, 56.8 WAR*

    Olerud was the superior fielder, and probably deserves a little extra support considering the risk he took just to play the game. Clark made more All-Star teams (6 in 7 years), won two Silver Sluggers and finished top-5 in MVP four times, but was generally considered to be a chap-ass to the media, which kills some of his support. Pretty damn close if you ask me.

    * I used Rally’s WAR numbers, but something’s off. Example: this site and have Olerud’s career PA at 9063, Rally has 8955. Same with Clark: 8283 here and at, 8169 from Rally.

    Comment by scatterbrian — January 8, 2010 @ 1:44 pm

  26. Put the stat sheet down? What the hell are you doing on this site?

    Comment by scatterbrian — January 8, 2010 @ 1:45 pm

  27. If you’re going to consider Olerud, where do you put Grace? I’m a diehard Cubs fan, watched Grace his whole career, and never thought HoFer, and his stats and Olerud’s arent’ entirely dissimilar – Grace had more hits and 2B, slightly lower wOBA and wRC, and since the fielding stats aren’t complete for both players, all I can refer to is Grace’s higher PO and RF/G, along with 4 GG’s. I’m not trying to argue that one is better, but they’re not entirely dissimilar players, and I just don’t see either as a HoFer.

    Comment by drmagoo — January 8, 2010 @ 2:01 pm

  28. I was about to post the same thing. Olerud played on a few better teams and had that crazy year where he almost chased .400. Otherwise, very similar cases. Didn’t Gracey get dropped from the HoF last year?

    Comment by Realist — January 8, 2010 @ 2:19 pm

  29. Even trolls need a place to call home.

    Comment by Not David — January 8, 2010 @ 2:38 pm

  30. WAR is a laughable stat, and to see it brought into HOF debates is cringe-worthy. I love pronouncements like this:

    “The position adjustment that we use for wins above replacement is harsh on first basemen for a reason – even an elite defensive 1B usually doesn’t provide as much value as the average fielder”

    Says who? I mean seriously, how can you definitively say an elite-fielding first baseman isn’t worth more from a defensive standpoint than an average-fielding second baseman? I hate a stat like WAR that endeavors to arrive at a catch-all magic number to rate players — making all kinds of dubious assumptions along the way

    Comment by Risto — January 8, 2010 @ 2:44 pm

  31. Pretty sure it’s well established, at any level above little league, that a good fielding 1B adds less value than a good fielder at any other position (maybe LF and RF arguable).

    Comment by Bill — January 8, 2010 @ 3:09 pm

  32. Even if you don’t use numbers, you’re going to compare elite-fielding first basemen to average-fielding second basemen anyway.

    Trying to measure it is probably going to be more accurate than guessing or using your gut.

    Comment by Sky Kalkman — January 8, 2010 @ 3:43 pm

  33. That may be true, but there’s no requirement it be here.

    Comment by joser — January 8, 2010 @ 4:04 pm

  34. Good read, but I am on the fence with Olerud and probably come down on the side against his candidacy. Excellent ball player but not really a Hall of Famer.

    Comment by Jorge — January 8, 2010 @ 4:10 pm

  35. Yep. You notice Risto carefully avoids suggesting any other way to compare players. At least WAR is an entirely open calculation that explicitly weights the various factors. The fact that many players at very different positions and skillsets tend to get paid a surprisingly consistent amount per WAR in any given free agent class suggests that it’s not far off how many of the smarter baseball professionals do their comparisons, whether it’s by calculation or “gut.”

    If Risto has an alternative comparison method he’d like to offer for the “laughable” amusement of the rest of us, I’d be happy to hear about it.

    Comment by joser — January 8, 2010 @ 4:12 pm

  36. Hall of FAME. Ain’t no fame in Olerud’s game…

    Comment by CrusssDaddy — January 8, 2010 @ 5:49 pm

  37. No.

    Sorry but 1B with 128 OPS+ for their careers aren’t HOFs.

    Very good player but seriously, the guy only made 2 AS games.

    Comment by NEPP — January 8, 2010 @ 6:10 pm

  38. Dawson’s linear weights runs above average, according to Rally: 183 RAA
    Olerud’s: 366

    Total offense (including baserunning) RAA, Dawson: 230
    Olerud: 318 runs

    If you think Dawson is deserving of the Hall (I think he’s a borderline candidate, nothing more than that), then Olerud should also be considered.

    All-Star games have been shown in the past to not accurate reflect who the best players of a given season are. They also completely ignore second half performance, which is equally important as first half performance. I don’t think the number of AS games Olerud was voted to matters when we have better sources of information.

    Comment by Michael — January 8, 2010 @ 6:23 pm

  39. Please don’t use VORP.

    That is all.

    Comment by Steven Ellingson — January 8, 2010 @ 6:26 pm

  40. Dawson was an amazing defender who was a 5 tool player in his prime. Olerud was not. Olerud hit for average and had a pretty good glove, not spectacular. Its not as if he was Keith Hernandez at 1B. You can’t really compare the two on that basis.

    Besides Dawson is the very bottom of what the HOF should be as he was very borderline. Olerud is a bit below him.

    On the AS game thing: Its a mark of where he stood among his contemporaries. I’m not trying to be “old-school” and say you have to have this many AS games, this many GGs, this many hits, etc etc…but the fact that he has very little Black Ink, Gray Ink and other accolades is a good initial indicator that he’s not a legit HOF.

    Honestly, if you have to jump through a bunch of hoops to justify a guy’s HOF case, I’d rather err on the side of not letting a guy in. There are already too many borderline guys in due to the old Veteran’s Committee, not to mention guys like Rice being there.

    If you’re gonna fight for a HOF admittance to a career 128 OPS+ 1B, you might want to go with Keith Hernandez, not John Olerud.

    Or Don Mattingly and his career 127 OPS+. Both of them were a step above Olerud as all-around 1B/players and neither is even close to being in.

    And honestly, even Hernandez/Mattingly are borderline at best…despite my absolute love of Donny Baseball in his prime…damn shame he got injured so much and retired early. HOF career derailed.

    Comment by NEPP — January 8, 2010 @ 6:34 pm

  41. I agree completely.

    I have mentioned Hernandez a few times in these “Hallof Fame” discussions.

    We shouldn’t, IMO, look at these other borderline HoF’ers until Keith is in.

    MVP, Leader on 2 WS champs, best fielder (perhaps ever) at his position (11 GG’s, even more important when one considers his cardinals teams were “defense first” teams), and had an overall very good, if not great, career.

    IMO, Olerud is a case of looking at where he ranks in one stat (OBP). How do the rest of his career numbers look compard to DiMaggio and other players the rank near him in OBP?

    Anybody that likes hitting, respects the heck out of John Olerud, but he likely falls short in a variety of HoF evauation systems.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 8, 2010 @ 7:11 pm

  42. Someone, somewhere, is going to find a way to get my man, Jose Cruz into the Hall of Fame.

    A whole bunch of offense stats “robbed” by the Astrodome, a bunch of tweaking of stats by park factors, low offense era, etc … and there’s gotta be a b+REWAR/150 sorta stat that ranks Cruz next to someone significant (even if all their other stats are a landslide).

    Certainly a guy gets some bonus points for [1] having huge hair, [2] wearing an orange helmet, [3] white spikes, [4] waving your bat high over your head, and [5] having a big leg lift, and [6] playing well while wearing rainbow colors. That stuff counts as style points, right?

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 8, 2010 @ 7:29 pm

  43. Biggio was the face of a franchise, played C, 2B, & CF and got 3000 hits (despite having to hamstring his team in his final 2 seasons to do it).

    That will get him in, right or wrong.

    Comment by NEPP — January 8, 2010 @ 7:33 pm

  44. LOL…Can’t support the competition afterall.

    Comment by NEPP — January 8, 2010 @ 7:35 pm

  45. where to draw the line for the HOF – such a perplexing question. and the REASON its so hard is clear if you use some statistical reasoning. i wish i could post pictures, here is my best text histogram, with frequencies:

    WAR (Rally, hitters only, “x” is about 5 players)
    150+ x (4)
    140-149 x (1)
    130-139 x (2)
    120-129 x (5)
    110-119 x (2)
    100-109 x (5)
    090-099 x (6)
    080-089 xx (9)
    070-079 xxxx (19)
    060-069 xxxxxxxxxxx (54)
    050-059 xxxxxxxxxxxx (61)
    040-049 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (108)

    you get the idea … wherever you draw the cutoff line, there sure are going to be a lot of players in the neighborhood – on both sides of that line.
    here i used Rally WAR data, mostly for convenience. you can use any comprehensive stat you like, and the distribution will look the same.
    on this thread, which started with the case for John Olerud, folks have promoted Keith Hernandez, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff … the point is that any player near the borderline – and i think that we can agree all these players are near the borderline, neither obviously in or out – there will be a bucketful of comparable players. and each will have proponents and detractors.
    for this reason, and others, i’m a small-hall guy. which would still include Blyleven, by the way.

    Comment by jsolid — January 8, 2010 @ 8:42 pm

  46. I would honestly put Olerud at the bottom of those 4 first basemen.

    Out of any of them I think McGriff has the best case and I still wouldn’t put him in the Hall if I were a voter. He was a very good 1B in an era of some GREAT 1B.

    Comment by NEPP — January 8, 2010 @ 9:00 pm

  47. As a Met fan I liked Olerud a great deal, but those numbers are good not great for 1b, I only feel that Bagwell and Thomas are worthy of the honor.

    Comment by NYMIKE — January 8, 2010 @ 9:34 pm

  48. Bagwell, Thomas, and Thome.

    Comment by NEPP — January 8, 2010 @ 9:49 pm

  49. I don’t see how you can put Bagwell in without Thome as well. Their overall numbers are nearly identical.

    And both are a HUGE step up from Olerud.

    Bagwell – 149
    Thome – 146 (but he does have 116 more HR…and counting if he signs again this year)

    That’s a HOF 1B, not Olerud.

    Comment by NEPP — January 8, 2010 @ 9:53 pm

  50. it was a travesty that Clark fell off the ballot in one year.

    Comment by Steve — January 8, 2010 @ 10:34 pm

  51. i’d vote for Hernandez

    Comment by Steve — January 8, 2010 @ 10:34 pm

  52. Well, he still wasn’t a HOF player but he was a bit more legitimate than this Olerud argument.

    At least Will “the Thrill” was truly a great hitter at times (as shown by his career OPS+ of 137. Injuries destroyed the 2nd half of his career though so he didn’t get the stats to make it in. Crap happens unfortunately. Same thing happened to Mattingly and a hundred other guys that had great starts to their career but couldn’t stay healthy.

    Hell, its the major reason Raines isn’t in too.

    Unfortunately (for the players), we can’t project what may have been…as much as we’d like to (especially with our favorite players) and as fun as it would be.

    Comment by NEPP — January 8, 2010 @ 10:40 pm

  53. what about crappy LFers with 128 OPS+?

    Comment by Steve — January 8, 2010 @ 10:43 pm

  54. Many are seduced by the veneer of legitimacy that mathematical formulae glisten. I’m not math averse at all, but as a student of economics, I am well aware of the shortcomings of models and the assumptions on which they depend. For a recent example of fuzzy math run amok, one need look no further than the role Physics professors had in developing mortgage-backed security derivatives. They developed impressive mathematical models supporting the profitability of firms selling and holding these financial instruments — unfortunately, in their wonky devotion to the divine science of number crunching, they overlooked history — that asset bubbles inevitably burst and can lead to panic in the marketplace. The models were stunningly blind to the possibility that housing prices could actually fall. And as a result, firms that acted on the flawed assumptions of these models ran into major trouble.

    One can point to various failed economic and social engineering projects that were driven by flawed statistical projections based on fallacious assumptions. So, I think people have good cause to be skeptical of the math their fed. On to the domain of sports, we all know that numbers need to be put into their proper context. A football coach can pound his chest about having the best passing defense; but if we know his team gives up 200 yards rushing a game, his boasts can be easily dismissed. As for the issue of the baseball stat “WAR,” here are the assumptions I dispute:

    -That one can in any way reasonably approximate and assign numerical values to certain positions. These are qualitative things we’re judging. Quantifying them is fundamentally misguided from my standpoint.
    -That one can accurately arrive at “Park-Adjusted” figures. Again, the act of assigning a park a numerical value for comparison’s sake I find highly imprecise and somewhat arbitrary. And park adjusted values are not equally relevant to all players (at least from how I understand how park adjusted values work). For instance, I don’t think a singles hitter is going to be greatly affected by moving from Yankee Stadium to SAFECO field. The more expansive dimensions won’t interfere with his ability to hit singles, yet playing at SAFECO or a park considered a pitchers park will yield him higher statistical value.

    I could probably find more to gripe about, but in the interest of brevity, I’ll state “my alternative approach” — since apparently on Fangraphs it is bad form to criticize a thing unless said criticism prefaces a “Theory of Everything” (I will not say anything bad about String Theory on here because I do not know)

    Alternative Approach for comparing players:

    -Take heed of useful stats such as wOBA, OBP, Slugging Percentage, Games Played, Runs Scored, Stolen Bases, Home Runs, RBI, etc.
    -Take account of the various relevant splits and situatuional stats that may reveal more about players
    -Consider (in your own mind) what these stats mean in the context of the teams for which the players played, their respective roles on these teams, the positions they played, the ball parks in which the played, and other relevant considerations. .
    – Consider fielding statistics such as UZR and +/-, but as one can see these are still fledgling statistical methods that have not born adequate scrutiny and evaluation, also consider the general opinion of scouts and fans.

    Then using critical thinking skills (no math necessary) arrive at your judgement of the relative worth of the players. If you’re smart, I can guarantee your answer will not be a great deal worse than that produced by the WAR method. Believe me, I can guarantee you that few rational baseball fans would arrive at the judgement that the sun rises and sets on Ben Zobrist.

    Comment by Risto — January 8, 2010 @ 11:03 pm

  55. Hall of Very Good? Yes. Hall of Fame? Absolutely not.

    Comment by WY — January 8, 2010 @ 11:54 pm

  56. “Honestly, if you have to jump through a bunch of hoops to justify a guy’s HOF case, I’d rather err on the side of not letting a guy in.”


    Comment by WY — January 9, 2010 @ 12:02 am

  57. I tend to agree with that sentiment – I’m a huge Jays homer, but I’m not gonna push for someone that kinda sorta makes it into the 20th – 50th percentile band. Let’s get the guys elected who are up higher than that – the Alomars, Blylevens, and Raineses of the world first. Ya know, cure the major injustices before we quibble with the truly borderline candidates.

    Comment by Jason B — January 9, 2010 @ 12:31 am

  58. I asked this on another thread, but it looks like the WAR numbers on don’t match the ones here at fangraphs. I know they start at 2002 here, but I noticed it when looking up Pudge the other day.

    Check out Olerud:

    8.8 vs. 8.2

    Does anyone know why there is a discrepancy?

    Comment by noseeum — January 9, 2010 @ 7:40 am

  59. Since we’re talking Hall of Fame, I thought I’d make a list of possible soon to B’s, as well as some snubs. (Dissregarding steroid allegations)

    In no particular order:
    1. Ken Griffey Jr.
    2. Barry Bonds
    3. Randy Johnson
    4. Rafael Palmeiro
    6. Sammy Sosa
    7. Alex Rodriguez
    8. Manny Ramirez
    9. Frank Thomas
    10. Roger Clemens
    11. Trevor Hoffman
    12. Mariano Rivera
    15. Mike Piazza
    16. Ivan Rodriguez
    17. Jim Thome
    18. PETE ROSE
    19. Gary Sheffield
    21. Larry Walker
    22. Todd Helton
    23. Jeff Bagwell
    24. Craig Biggio
    25. Greg Maddux
    26. John Smoltz
    27. Tom Glavine
    28. Curt Schilling
    29. Pedro Martinez
    30. Albert Pujols
    31. Ichiro Suzuki
    32. Derek Jeter
    33. Mike Mussina
    34. Omar Vizquel
    36. FRED McGRIFF
    38. TIM RAINES
    39. Juan Gonzalez
    40. Kenny Lofton
    42. Chipper Jones
    43. Jeff Kent
    44. Carlos Delgado
    45. Mark Grace
    46. Vladimir Guerrero
    47. Matt Williams
    48. Bobby Abreu
    49. Jim Edmonds
    50. Jamie Moyer

    Comment by crix — January 9, 2010 @ 8:10 am

  60. Your entire premise is flawed. There are several reasons why statistical analysis of financial markets is flawed and none of them apply to baseball:
    1. Financial markets are not closed systems. There is not a limited and known range of possible outcomes. One can be right 98% of the time, but that 2% of the time you’re wrong can have such a huge impact as to wipe out your life savings.
    2. The analysts of financial markets are also actors in those markets. They use historical data to develop a new theory of trading. The second they put that theory into practice, they’ve changed the future. The future will no longer have any possibility of looking like that past because there is a new form of trading activity occurring that is not in the data set used to formulate the theory. It will be successful at first, but once more and more people catch on and implement the practice, trouble is on the way. This is what happened with mortgages as well as many other financial collapses in the past.

    Baseball is suited perfectly for statistical analysis. The analysts are not actors in the system, so they have no impact on the system. The rules of the game are clear and well known and the range of outcomes is fairly limited. Even a huge outlier like Barry Bonds is not too far away from the average player.

    Your alternative method is hilarious. “Take heed of all the stats that go into WAR, but ignore WAR”

    Comment by noseeum — January 9, 2010 @ 8:45 am

  61. Moyer isn’t a HOF. Neither are Edmonds, Abreu, Williams, Lofton, Delgado, McGriff, Belle, Gonzalez, Walker, or Canseco. THose are the ones that jumped out at me.

    Comment by NEPP — January 9, 2010 @ 9:39 am

  62. Olerud only had 2 years where he was any better then pretty good;

    1993-186 OPS+
    1998-163 OPS+

    The rest of his career he was mostly below average for a 1b with 12 years below the 130ops+ mark and only 4 over it.

    As a point of reference there were 133 seasons from 1992-2005 by a firstbaseman with an OPS+ of 130 or greater. That is 40% of all qualified season for that time period.

    So for most of his career he was a below average hitting first baseball with a good glove. Defintely NOT a hall of famer.

    Comment by Yardisiak — January 9, 2010 @ 11:51 am

  63. Williams/Edmonds/DelGado/McGriff/Belle

    all better than Jim Rice.

    Comment by Steve — January 9, 2010 @ 12:40 pm

  64. What about Todd Helton? His case seems very similar to Olerud’s. He hasn’t played as long, but had a higher peak. Good OBP, Good defensive 1B, not embarrassing on the base path, gap power. The whole Coors thing and not playing too long, and lack of HR totals will keep the writers from caring.

    Rally has him at 57.3 rWAR, projected at 3.0 WAR. Dinging .5 WAR per season, he could sniff 70 rWAR! I wouldn’t vote for Olerud personally, but I think Helton is building a serious case. I also doubt he’ll get much consideration.

    Comment by Chris Miller — January 9, 2010 @ 1:29 pm

  65. Sometimes they make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean those should be repeated. If Rabbit Maranville becomes your HOF standard, it’s going to get pretty crowded in there.

    Comment by don — January 9, 2010 @ 1:40 pm

  66. You can’t really make a call on Helton till his career is over. Not exactly fair otherwise.

    I think Helton has a much stronger case than Olerud and I think he’ll get serious consideration when he’s done…he could very well play for 3-4 years of solid production.

    Besides which, Helton’s peak was much higher and longer than Olerud (the ‘compare’ function here is a good tool FWIW)

    Besides, he has 4 seasons with an OPS+ over 160, 2 more above 140 and 2 additional over 130.

    Playing his entire career in Coors will hurt his cause but he probably still has a solid shot. He was still nearly a .300 hitter on the road for his career (.294 AVG/.395 OBP/.885 OPS career road split)

    Comment by NEPP — January 9, 2010 @ 1:52 pm

  67. Actually, your histogram points to a pretty clear cutoff of 70 WAR for Hall of Fame hitters and 50 WAR for Hall of Very Good hitters. 50 WAR for pitchers and hitters also manages to exclude about 30% of the players currently in the Hall (back of the envelope estimates…some deserve to be in, and I’ve counted some who probably got in for different reasons.

    Of course, there are generational differences…are 50 career WAR worth the same today as 50 before 1945, considering all of the changes to conditioning that have extended careers more generally?

    And do we lower the bar for relievers? A bar that Rollie Fingers set INCREDIBLY low (25 WAR). Mariano Rivera, unquestionably the best all-time at his position, will next year become the only pitcher in history to achieve 50 WAR as a pure closer…should we treat closers like Kickers, and only put in truly special players? Or do we lower the bar even further, to make sure a few are represented.

    Comment by moebius — January 9, 2010 @ 1:55 pm

  68. I totally agree, I just wonder how much the Coors argument, and the lack of HR argument will hurt him. He already has a borderline case, and projects to have a couple above average seasons left in him.

    Comment by Chris Miller — January 9, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

  69. The funny (or not so funny) thing about all of these “manipulated” HoF cases is that, only by sabermetrics, will Adam Dunn be placed in the HoF. Seriously, he’s gonna hit 500 HRs and be close to .400 in OBP (probably a .375 wOBA, and 135-140 wRC+, as he finishes his career as a DH) and those 2 dimensions will put AD in the HoF. He hit quite a few HRs, and walked a lot.

    Seriously, when you guys bring up players like John Olerud, and use selected metrics to make a case for him while completely IGNORING counting stats (even though we all know they are important for the HoF), you should notice that the player trails Adam Dunn in essentiall all of those batting metrics. wRC+, OBP, OPS, wOBA.

    Evidently, defense doesn’t really matter as evident by Hernandez, Larkin, and Alomar (We’ll see with Vizquel). Defense matters if you’re an extreme great like Ozzie. So, being a DH in the NL won’t be an obstacle … not that it would be at FG … there’d be plenty of “alternate realities”, “allowances”, and/or “benefits of the doubt” given to AD (like EM) in that situation so that nothing counts against him. *wink*

    The only way Dunn doesn’t get into the HoF is if we look at “horrible” stats like batting average, career hits, etc. I don’t even think his atroscious defense will hurt him with the media. Unfortunately, if ‘we’ do that (look at traditional HoF counting stats) than many of the “sabermetric” posterboys aren’t even that close to consideration in compared to even the bottom-teir modern HoF members. ~2200 Hits, ~300 HRs, ~1200 RBI. So, essentially we’ll allow players to be a tier or two below Winfield and Molitor, as long as their strong points are the metrics FG likes.

    Put all the cards on the table and let them fall where they may. Shortages in counting stats are REAL HoF obstacles. let’s stop pretending as if they don’t or shouldn’t exist. Silly pony, blinders are for horses.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 9, 2010 @ 2:18 pm

  70. It depends how he does in the final few years of his career. He needs to add a bit to his counting stats (hits, RBI, runs, 2B, HR, etc)

    If he can finish up with 2500+ H, 1500 RBI, 1500 R, 600 2B, 375 HR , I think even the most traditional voter will be hard pressed to keep him out.

    Right now he’s at just above 2100 H, 1200 RBI, 1200 R, 500 2B, 325 HR.

    Comment by NEPP — January 9, 2010 @ 2:18 pm

  71. Do you honestly think that Dunn will have 5 more years of top production (40ish HRs) in him?

    Though I agree, Dunn is not a legit HOF.

    Abreu and Damon will both make interesting cases. Neither is really considered a top flight player (now or at any point in his career) and both will be very close to some historical “counting stat” thresholds. Damon is about 3.5 years away (at current production) from his 3000th hit. Abreu is close in several areas and has been a very good all-around player for a long time (if you ignore his terrible defense and absolute fear of anything resembling the wall).

    Comment by NEPP — January 9, 2010 @ 2:26 pm

  72. I don;t think Dunn will do much more than hit 35 or so HRs and walk 100 times a year for the next 5-8 seasons.

    Unfortunately those Hr totals are going to put him ~500 (without suspicion of steroids), and those things combined with him hitting in the middle of the order (likely as a DH in the AL).

    I think he’ll be closer to ~2K hits than 2500 hits, but the 500 HRs are a good counting stat, and for FG to be consistent they would need to go ga-ga over his wRC+ and wOBA and OPS+ stats, because he’s going to be well above Olerud and others of the same cardboard cutout in that regard.

    As it turns out, many don;t want the Hall of Fame to be the best of the best, but just the best. That *could* be 50 guys from every decade. IMO, that’s too big.

    Damon and Abreau are two guys that I have discussed at Baseball Fever, and say no to both of them, but they are continually adding to a career that brings them closer and closer.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 9, 2010 @ 3:03 pm

  73. wow.. so they are almost 200 guys inn the hall w less win shares than “sweet lou”.. and the guy couldn’t even get 6%.. ridiculous

    Comment by Brian Lonsway — January 9, 2010 @ 3:08 pm

  74. I don’t believe baseball isn’t suited for statistical analysis — I do believe, however, that the limits of statistical analysis could be respected more.

    There are differences between baseball and financial markets, which you correctly point out. My referencing financial markets was a general example of excessive faith in quantitative analysis proving disastrous. The specific reasons for why a specific type of quantitative analysis is flawed can vary from field to field — but the general point remains that one should continue regard math used for advocacy with healthy skepticism.

    I do take issue with your second point, though, that “baseball analysts” do not impact their system. Just look in recent years how front offices have placed greater emphasis on on-base percentage and defensive prowess, owing to the prevalence of advanced statistical analysis. This has affected the price of acquiring players.

    On to the whole WAR thing — my “alternative approach” merely logically follows from my criticism of WAR. What did I say was my problem with it? I thought a lot of the numerical qualities it assigns to be arbitrary and based on questionable assumptions. So I excised the flawed math and replaced it with sound qualitative analysis. Unfortunately, my method doesn’t lend itself well to graphs or spreadsheets, or worse, authoritative-sounding proclamation — so I suspect it will not catch on.

    Comment by Risto — January 9, 2010 @ 3:16 pm

  75. Sean has said there will be discrepancies, because of how he tallies PA. It’s explained if you click on the stat glossary over there.

    Comment by Kevin S. — January 9, 2010 @ 3:57 pm

  76. VORP’s automatically going to undersell Olerud in any comparison to McGriff, though. It has it’s usefulness, but you have to qualitatively adjust for defense if you’re going to cite it.

    Comment by Kevin S. — January 9, 2010 @ 4:01 pm

  77. The weighting of WAR isn’t based on “questionable assumptions,” it’s based on rigorous analysis. Do you think people just pulled the weights out of their asses?

    Comment by Kevin S. — January 9, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

  78. When did Andre Dawson ever hit for average? He was a four-tool player for half of his career, a two-tool player (one of which is by far the least important tool) for the other half, while being deficient in other aspects of his game.

    Comment by Kevin S. — January 9, 2010 @ 4:07 pm

  79. You know “sabermetrics” has turned on Adam Dunn, exactly because of his defense, right? I mean, people still like him, but he’s no longer “the best player ever!” WAR’s going to reflect this.

    Comment by Kevin S. — January 9, 2010 @ 4:20 pm

  80. Again, why would it be “consistent” to go gaga over a guy without considering his lack of defensive value. If you’ll recall our Edgar conversations, people argued that Edgar provided so much value it overcame his non-defense. I don’t know if Dunn will do that yet.

    Comment by Kevin S. — January 9, 2010 @ 4:23 pm

  81. Don’t forget the most important thing: he’s a graduate of Washington State University.

    Comment by philkid3 — January 9, 2010 @ 5:27 pm

  82. Dude, I watched Olerud play. He was impressive in a workaday way. He wasn’t flashy, didn’t do a lot that grabbed headlines, but he inspired a lot of confidence. Watching him play first base was very impressive. He hoovered up everything that came his way and made it look easy. He was the slickest fielding 1B I’ve ever seen play. In fact, he made fielding his position look easier than anyone else I’ve ever watched. At the plate, he has one of the most effortless swings, sweet and smooth, and line-drives just launched off the bat. 500 doubles is a lot of gap power, especially for a guy who was so slow (best quip, Olerud when asked about hitting so many doubles said “My speed allows me to turn a lot of triples into doubles.”).

    Funny comment about “get out and watch some baseball.” A lot of people who complain about numbers could probably watch Olerud play and not realize how good he was. He didn’t dominate with one play once every four or five games. He just quietly put himself on base and helped turn the lineup over on offense, and on defense made throwing errors by his infielders rare events. Day in and day out.

    I agree he’s a borderline HOF candidate, and probably shouldn’t get in (unless you want to give a bonus for being a good guy, in which case he’d be a lock). But if you wanted to put somebody in the Hall who epitomized baseball as a game of steady accumulation, of constantly doing a ton of little things right instead of occasionally doing one big thing, not many guys are better candidates.

    Comment by JMHawkins — January 9, 2010 @ 5:32 pm

  83. Yes, sabermetrics has turned on Dunn over the last 2 years. But, that opposition is temporary until he moves to 1B or DH, and then all will be forgotten. This is where Edgar gets a HUGE advanatage because he never suffered humiliation in the field, and people will even say “early in his career Edgar’s defensive metrics were pretty good”. That’s where I’ll point out Dunn was +6 defensive runs in 2002. Big deal.

    Dunn is heavily penalized for playing in the NL. Edgar gets a free pass for playing in the AL. Dh adjustments don’t penalize enough (IMO). Not to mention the longevity that the DH awards players. From what I understand DH gets a favorable positional adjustment because when position players bat as DH their performance is lesser than when they play the field. Well, like duh.

    I would guess that most of players being moved to DH are doing so because they’re fatigued, injuried, suffering reduced athleticism, etc. I’m guessing full time, long-term DH’s do better as DH’s than as position playing fielders due to the non-fatigue, one-dimension, etc. But, that’s a seperate topic.

    But, as I stated, Dunn will finish his career as a DH/1B, hitting 35 HRs per year with 100 BB’s, so his defense will be a non-factor.

    I do not know if such studies already exist, but I would like to see the “run scoring” scenario data be based on what type of runners are on base and what type of batters are at the plate.

    Adam Dunn and Edgar Martinez “walking” may not always be as great as we think it is. My suspicion is that it is overall highly valuable, but occassionally detrimental … and I would guess that is what studies show.

    IMHO, we over-value OBP for elite, middle of the order hitters … especially for the slow, lumbering, anchor sort. “Walks” to them in “run producing” situations or reaching first base with 2-outs, when it’s going to take a triuple or 2 hits to get them home, isn;t quite the same value as a league average base-runner, etc. To what extent this occurs, I am unsure.

    Dunn’s “horrific WAR due to fielding” is a tempprary situation. Why he’s not playing 1B in 2010, I have no idea.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 9, 2010 @ 6:05 pm

  84. Regardless, Dunn cannot go in with a .250 BA and only 500 HRs. I don’t care if his OBP is .400 and so on. Replacing hits with walks is why Dunn’s RBI/HR ratio has to be lowest among his peer group of power hitters over the last decade. No way Edgar gets considered, or even drives in as many RBIs, if he replaced hits with walks. That’s the death for Adam Dunn in the HoF … or SHOULD be the death of his candidacy.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 9, 2010 @ 6:23 pm

  85. If Olerud is a HOFer, then Will Clark definitely goes in too.

    Comment by PL — January 9, 2010 @ 7:27 pm

  86. There’s the “slippery slope” of the situation … if Olerud goes in, then a whole LOT of additional players across many decades go in … maybe even double the current number of HoF’ers.

    I’d like to see the HoF be more like Top 5 (or so) players and top 5 (or so) pitchers of each decade/era go in. All that would matter is that you were the best of the best of your playing days … not how you compared to players of various eras, where the game may or may not have been very similar to the time period you played in.

    The HoF, like MVP, CYA, etc are full of ‘tough decisions’. That’s the reality.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 9, 2010 @ 8:01 pm

  87. The problem with that is you’re judging players against the outliers of their era, not against the mean, which is much-more robust. Elite talent is not normally distributed across history.

    Comment by Kevin S. — January 9, 2010 @ 8:43 pm

  88. I would say no on 33, 35, 436, 37, 39-41, 45, 45, and 47-50. All good players, but not quite HOFers.

    Comment by WY — January 9, 2010 @ 10:09 pm

  89. Damon and Abreu are more compilers than HOFers, to me at least. Even if Dunn made it to 500 HR, he would also still be pretty much a compiler, not a HOF-level player.

    Comment by WY — January 9, 2010 @ 10:13 pm

  90. Omar Vizquel should not be in the hall of fame, no matter how good his glove once was his offensive numbers were never there 47-50 no, 39-45 no, 31-33, 35, 36, 37, 28,26, good players, not hall of famers

    Comment by NYMIKE — January 9, 2010 @ 10:52 pm

  91. See, to me that’s an interesting statement … given that this is the first “era” in baseball where the best “athletes” are playing in the NFL and NBA. But, that’s sorta beside the point )sorta), since baseball, namely hitting and pitching are such SKILL driven actions.

    Call em outliers or whatever you will, but if you judge the elite by the league average, you may just be rewarding players for having a lot of diluted, less-talented league average players. That seems to me to be VERY possible given [1] the much higher number of teams, and [2] lower popularity of baseball in our current era.

    If MLB had the same number of teams as the 80s or the 60s, there would be a lot of MLB regulars NOT in MLB, which would make the ‘league average’ higher quality.

    We can factor in things like the Latin explosion and international influx in our modern game, but for the most part haven’t those players just replaced the “black players”?

    How do you statistically determine if an era has a bunch of elite players or just a reduced quality among the league average? One could very well have an “hourglass” type of distribution for talent, where there a bunch of ‘elite’ players, and then not much average and a lot of replacement level (like the NBA, a decent amount of stars, and then a bunch of “team pieces”). Comparing the elite to the “average” is going to make a LOT of players look good … and then where do you draw the line between HoF and just ‘very good’ as compared to the league average.

    Like I said, if we view our current crop of players as inherently being better players that decades of the past, then we’re going to put in FAR more players than might have made it in during previous eras, just because of what could be a faulty assumption.

    Perhaps once baseball normalizes after the steroid era, it will be easier to sort players out, but for the 1990s and 2000s the batting numbers just FUBAR’d everything up. We have no idea how to evaluate “all that” because it was such a force to historical numbers and milestones.

    I don’t see why “best of the best from your era” isn’t good enough? It’s also consistent regardless of what changes the era might have been going through or is going through. A batter who was in his prime in the 1960s wouldn’t be as punished as much as the batter from 1995-2005 is over-rewarded.

    You either dominated your era, and were viewed as FAR superior to your peers or you weren’t. Certainly much easier and more reliable to measure that than try to conform to some sort of moving target that is determined by perhaps faulty assumptions.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 9, 2010 @ 10:54 pm

  92. Oops, I meant to add that the reason for this thinking is because without PEDs, humans are not going to be significantly “more elite” in terms of athleticism in such short time periods. For example, humans aren’t going to evolve into such athletic specimen in the next 20 years that are going to be much greater than Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, or Mickey Mantle. The elite are going to be mostly comparable among large spans of times.

    ‘League Averages’ *may* not be so consistent.

    Compared to league averages, Guys that are B, B+, or even A- players might look a lot closer to the A or A+ players that (IMO) go into the HoF.

    There are A LOT of borderline candidates if you compare to the league averages. There are MUCH fewer is your compare just the greats of a certain decade/era … as they seem to sort themselves rather well. The tough part is comparing offense v defense, and players from different positions. If you just happen to play 1B in the era of Pujols, Howard, Fielder, and so and you’re well above league average but aren;t in the same realm as these 3, then so be it. Not everything in life is fair, and there’s really not an unemotional or error-proof way of equalizing everything.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 9, 2010 @ 11:02 pm

  93. And almost everyone not living in Boston would tell you that Jim Rice shouldn’t be there.

    Comment by NEPP — January 9, 2010 @ 11:37 pm

  94. I agree. Life isn’t fair.

    Olerud is more than welcome to go into the BlueJays Hall of Fame but not Cooperstown.

    Comment by NEPP — January 9, 2010 @ 11:39 pm

  95. Keith Hernandez should be in the HOF for his performance on Seinfeild!

    Seriously- How about a comparison vs Don Mattingly, Jack Clark, Eric Karros, Mark Grace, Cecil Feilder, Carlos Delago, Mo Vaughn, Tino Martinez, Bill Buckner, Andres Galaraga, Fred Mcgriff, — Feel test is that none are HOF. They all were very good. I think you could make “cases” for all of these players (in the sense that one could make a case for Olerud). But common sense, they aren’t among the best of all time ever.

    Comment by Kramer and Newman — January 10, 2010 @ 6:23 am

  96. with the modern players- there’s a new test in my mind- Was the player Consistently a 1st or 2nd round draft pick in fantasy baseball. – Vladimir Guerrero jumps up to the top 10 not top 50.

    Comment by Fantasy baseball test — January 10, 2010 @ 6:32 am

  97. Please someone answer this question!

    It looks like the WAR numbers on don’t match the ones here at fangraphs. I know they start at 2002 here, but I noticed it when looking up Pudge the other day.

    Check out Olerud:

    8.8 vs. 8.2

    Pudge is even worse.

    Does anyone know why there is a discrepancy?

    Comment by noseeum — January 10, 2010 @ 9:28 am

  98. Yeah, Bagwell should be a lock to get in. At the latest, when Biggio does. By the way, we actually have UZR data on Bagwell’s later years, and it suggests that he was a good defender even in his declining seasons (2002-2004).

    At the plate he has a career OPS of .948, a career wOBA of .408, and a wRC+ of 152. Combined with proven good defense, how is that not a Hall of Famer?

    Intangibles support his case too. He was widely acknowledged as being a good leader and an all around good guy with one team for his entire career, and wasn’t touched by the stench of steroids which permeates so many other sluggers from his era.

    Comment by OremLK — January 10, 2010 @ 10:31 am

  99. 1. Ken Griffey Jr. = 79.2
    2. Barry Bonds = 171.4
    3. Randy Johnson = 91.8
    4. Rafael Palmeiro = 65.7
    5. MARK McGWIRE = 63.1
    6. Sammy Sosa = 59.5
    7. Alex Rodriguez = 99.1
    8. Manny Ramirez = 66.2
    9. Frank Thomas = 75.9
    10. Roger Clemens = 128.4
    11. Trevor Hoffman = 31.5
    12. Mariano Rivera = 49.9
    13. ROBERTO ALOMAR = 63.6
    14. BERT BLYLEVEN = 90.1
    15. Mike Piazza = 59.1
    16. Ivan Rodriguez = 66.6
    17. Jim Thome = 66.9
    18. PETE ROSE = 75.4
    19. Gary Sheffield = 63.6
    20. BARRY LARKIN = 68.8
    21. Larry Walker = 67.1
    22. Todd Helton = 57.3+
    23. Jeff Bagwell = 79.9
    24. Craig Biggio = 65.9
    25. Greg Maddux = 96.8
    26. John Smoltz = 63.9+
    27. Tom Glavine = 67.0
    28. Curt Schilling = 69.7
    29. Pedro Martinez = 75.9+
    30. Albert Pujols = 76.5+
    31. Ichiro Suzuki = 50.7
    32. Derek Jeter = 68.7+
    33. Mike Mussina = 74.8
    34. Omar Vizquel = 43.1+
    35. EDGAR MARTINEZ = 67.2
    36. FRED McGRIFF = 50.5
    37. ALBERT BELLE = 37.1
    38. TIM RAINES = 64.9
    39. Juan Gonzalez = 33.5
    40. Kenny Lofton = 65.1
    41. JOSE CANSECO = 41.9
    42. Chipper Jones = 76.7+
    43. Jeff Kent = 59.4
    44. Carlos Delgado = 43.9+
    45. Mark Grace = 47.0
    46. Vladimir Guerrero = 57.1+
    47. Matt Williams = 43.9
    48. Bobby Abreu = 57.0+
    49. Jim Edmonds = 66.6
    50. Jamie Moyer = 47.4

    Out of my own curiosity, I went through and added carer WAR values for each guy to sorta see where they “fall”. (Sean Smith’s WAR Database,

    They can be grouped together nicely by career WAR score. I was going to do this and see how the names compare/group, but I lost interest at the time. *grin*

    I’m doing some goofing around with the WAR Database in spreadsheets, and WAR/y for career is probably more valuable than career WAR.

    WAR also does not address select historical “groups” (i.e., Dawson in the 400/300 club) and being near the top of all-time leaderboards for important stats (Sosa #6 on all-time HR list).

    What I wanted to look for is the WAR score per decade/era. I haven’t yet, but from first glance, it would appear to be more difficult to “seperate yoursef” in WAR during the early parts of the 20th century, unless you were a pitcher (pitcher dominated era), and in our current era it favors hitters.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 10, 2010 @ 1:08 pm

  100. Well, Pudge would be because TZ attempts to rate catcher defense, while UZR doesn’t. Also, UZR and TZ are going to disagree slightly because they’re calculated differently.

    Comment by Kevin S. — January 10, 2010 @ 1:58 pm

  101. So we’re actually admitting that WAR isn’t the end all, be all of existence?

    We have to remember that there is no set consensus on how to rate defense. UZR, TZ, etc are just tools that we use to try and measure something that really cannot be fully measured as there are simply too many variables involved.

    Comment by NEPP — January 10, 2010 @ 3:38 pm

  102. It’s not. It is, however, the best estimate of total value a player provides that we have. If there’s a reasoned argument for why WAR misses on someone, I’m certainly willing to listen to it, and there would need to be a reasonably significant gap between two players for me to say that one was better than the other. At the same time, because I understand the way WAR computes value, I do trust it for the most part, because I can look at a player’s component stats and understand why he ranked where he did.

    Comment by Kevin S. — January 10, 2010 @ 4:25 pm

  103. II agree that’s its one of the best estimates we currently have. I just think its near impossible to truly judge defense with our current data/metrics.

    I do not have a better solution unfortunately. I think Fangraphs slightly overprices defense when determining $$ value. But I dont have a better way to do it.

    Comment by NEPP — January 10, 2010 @ 4:37 pm

  104. I don’t think anyone ever really says that WAR is the end-all, be-all. From my perspective is that people who do not have real-life playing/coaching experience at a reasonable level are reliant on statistics as their whole evaluation method. So, to those folks, some stats are IT, as it’s all they know personally, and are forced to rely on that.

    The more diverse one’s experience, the more resources one has. Saying that, I would say that there are some staticians (Tango, James, etc) that via exhausting research likely have as good, if not better, understanding of baseball aspects as a “baseball lifer” (player/coach) … with the coach/player’s main advantage being the interpersonal aspects of the job (The X’s and O’s of baseball, really are not that complicated … arranging ‘matchups’ and ‘platoons’ seem to be where some managers excel above others). I would also say that for essentially ALL of us, stats are all we know, since none of us are anywhere close to professional player/coach/scout, no matter HOW much baseball we watch on TV or in stadiums. So, for all of those/us claiming to be able to “see things” that others do not, I would question their/our observational skills. Too many self-described ‘experts’ that seemingly don’t put it to use in the REAL baseball world. A lot of the experts just do simple math from the hard work of the sabermaticians. Wow, impressive. Yes, I’m referring to YOU analysts that take salary divided by 4 WAR and then say “good or bad” trade. My 3rd grade son can do that (He also tells me ‘Brad Penny sucks’, some analysis is too obvious)

    Still, I don’t want that to sound like “nerds should shut up”, but more of a “when all you have is a hammer, everything is a nail” type of commentary. The whole WAR/4 (it rhymes if you call WAR divided by Far, har har) is the only “tool” some guys seemingly have.

    Back on topic … for me, personally, I view IRod along with Bench as the two greatest C’s of all time, so I add 10+ (or so, for defense or threat of defense) WAR to Pudge to put him in that WAR range is “automatic lock”. He was THAT good.

    I also feel that 2B’s get a lot of positional adjustment just for being the weakest link among the “skillful infielders” (3B, SS, and 2B). Seriously, Bobby Grich for HoF and Ben Zobrist for WAR leader? That’s a little too much to take, even for an open-minded guy. Trammell and Whitaker, put them in. Great players over long career, and key members of a dynamite franchise in the 80s.

    Closers are also under-appreciated by WAR (IMO, they, in general, are not over-rated by managers and players). Case in point, ask PHL and NYY is they want Mo or Moyer for a career? 2-0 win for Mo.

    WAR also doesn’t account for things like arm strength, which is something fans and writers seemingly value and seemingly take on a life of their own. “Having a gun” is a really cool and macho thing. Clemente, Dawson, Evans, Vlad, Bo, etc … we tend to remember the “gunsligers” from the outfield (I would have included Sosa, but hitting the backstop or the crowd sorta defeats the purpose).

    I have found WAR to be an interesting and reasonably reliable metric for comparing players of various periods (How else would one go about it?). I prefer the WAR/years type of stat to limit the “overall value” of guys that just happened to tack on a few 2 or 3 WAR years (for 2 or 3 years) at the end of a long ‘very good’ career (possibly putting them from the ‘borderline’ category to the ‘likely in’ group). There also seem to be periods which strongly favor hitter or pitcher, which makes it more difficult for the best to seperate from the pack.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 10, 2010 @ 4:39 pm

  105. And defense is one of the places where, if you can build a well-reasoned argument why UZR or TZ missed on a player, I’d say “Sure, adjust for that.” In particular, catcher and first base because their defensive value isn’t primarily derived from range. Or using a player’s three-year averages in WAR calculations instead of their one year. I think my point is that WAR’s weaknesses don’t invalidate it, and it looks like we agree on that.

    Comment by Kevin S. — January 10, 2010 @ 4:42 pm

  106. Those are VERY good points Kevin.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 10, 2010 @ 4:45 pm

  107. And to tie in to what you said about Zobrist a couple posts up, I’d regress his defense, since he doesn’t really have a reliable sample at any of the positions he played (though he was still insanely valuable last year).

    Apologies for not responding to some of your other posts, but they were a bit lengthy for me to give them a fair shake. I’ve got some attention issu… ooh, butterfly!

    Comment by Kevin S. — January 10, 2010 @ 4:52 pm

  108. This all makes me have concerns with cumulative WAR stats, especially when using them to argue for Edgar Martinez, Olerud, etc. I mean, if one site use TZ and one uses UZR, and we all agree that there are concerns with evaluating certain positions defensively, than all of those weaknesses get compounded when viewing cumulative WAR stats. If WAR is under/overestimating defense annually in certain circumstances, than it makes it extremely difficult to rely on the cumulative data, especially in HOF analysis.

    I mean, when a guy’s got over 85 WAR for his career, it’s probably a no-brainer, but once you’re down to 60-70, these discrepancies give me pause.

    Thanks for explaining the difference between the two sites, BTW!

    Comment by noseeum — January 10, 2010 @ 5:08 pm

  109. And they should give you pause, Noseeum. WAR should not bed the end of the HoF debate, it should be the beginning. And that exact range you mention is roughly where you’re going to need to use WAR as a start and then start picking apart the smaller details and the discrepencies.

    A player in that range can’t be easily dismissed, but for the very reasons you mentioned and more, he also shouldn’t be in without more thought and research.

    Comment by philkid3 — January 11, 2010 @ 1:12 am

  110. I agree. WAR should be used when we’re talking about a guy that is not universally regarded as a HOF candidate (say, like Tim Raines or Bert Blyleven) but is on the edge of being so. Olerud is not even at the level of debatable HOFers.

    WAR is what we need to use when it comes time for a guy like Helton to get voted in as he will be hurt due to a relative lack of counting stats and by playing in Colorado.

    I am projecting on the counting stats as he is on the downslope of his career and is still quite low on several of them (RBI, Runs, HR, Hits) for a sure fire HOF player. He could surprise us and have a great run into his late 30s and make it a moot point.

    On Zobrist: I think he was immensely valuable to the Rays last year but I think his WAR is seriously skewed by sample size and we all will see a regression next year. He’s not an elite player like Utley, Mauer, or Pujols. No one really argues that he is. I seriously doubt he’ll be posting an 8+ WAR next year, especially if he doesn’t go the super-utility route again.

    Comment by NEPP — January 11, 2010 @ 9:11 am

  111. As another commenter pointed out, there is *such* a slug of reasonable HOF candidate first basemen (slash DH’s) from the late 80’s into the early-to-mid 00’s: McGwire, Bagwell, McGriff, Clark, Delgado, Thome, Big Hurt, Mattingly, Olerud, etc etc.

    Michael I think you’re right – Olerud didn’t put up the guady stat lines that are more typical associated with slugging first basemen – the eye-popping HR and RBI totals. Much of his value lied in his ability to get on base, and his defensive abilities, which will severly hamper his HOF case.

    Still, in trying to sort out all of these candidates, I think you have to address the primary question(s): is this player the single best candidate available for the HOF who has not yet been inducted? Is he the single best candidate at his position? In Olerud’s case, I think that while his value may be somewhat underappreciated, the clear answers are “no” and “no”.

    Not that that alone makes someone “un-Hall-worthy” of course. No shame in being the second best at a position during an era, or third best, or whatever.

    Comment by Jason B — January 11, 2010 @ 10:31 am

  112. among other things i believe the biggest reason is BProj’s WAR numbers use TZ for the defensive portion, FG uses UZR…the batting runs also differ and in some cases there are pretty significant discrepancies (BProj had Mauer at +45 runs in 08, FG had him at +27), idk if Sean uses wOBA or some other system to come up with those numbers

    Comment by randy johnson's jockstrap — January 11, 2010 @ 11:00 am

  113. Olerud was more important to title teams than Jack Morris (who gets the Cap’n Clutch boost), and was just as valuable in his career as Andre Dawson.

    Of course, Olerud happened to time his career year for a season when Frank Thomas mashed 41 HR (he should’ve won the MVP anyway), and only ISO’d .170 as a 1B in the power era, so no one will support him. Not because he’s not worthy, but because his numbers won’t “please” the voters. And we all know voters love them some arbitrary baselines.

    Comment by JoeR43 — January 11, 2010 @ 11:39 am

  114. Was he one of the best 1B of his era? No.

    Was he ever considered elite in his era? No.

    He’s not a HOF.

    He didn’t have a long enough peak, he didn’t dominate the game. He was a pretty good player who had a couple of very good seasons.

    Compare him to his peers (Thomas, Thome, even McGwire) and he comes up wanting. He’s not even at the level of a Will Clark.

    Comment by NEPP — January 11, 2010 @ 12:59 pm

  115. Now that’s just a lie.

    Clark: 137 OPS+ / 138 wRC+ over 8,283 PA
    Olerud: 128 OPS+ / 133 wRC+ over 9,063 PA

    Clark: +1 career TZ
    Olerud: +89 career TZ

    Clark: 57.4 WAR on Sean Smith’s database
    Olerud: 56.6 WAR on same database

    I’m not sure if Olerud is a HoF’r, I think he’s a borderline case in the same way I thought Dawson was. But first off, I thought I’ve told you before to look shit up before you say it, because Olerud and Clark are clearly similar.

    2nd off, isn’t old guys just recalling who they liked 15-20 years ago exactly what we speak out against with Hall of Fame voting? Being considered elite is stupid. Mo Vaughn was considered elite. George Bell was, too, at one point. That statement is not analysis. That statement is “I feel this way, so eff you.”

    And that list of “peers” is #19, #45, and #12 of all time in adjusted OPS w/ over 3000 PA. Once again, I ask, when the hell has THIS been the ultimate Hall standard for anyone? I can’t wait until someone like Teixeira or Delgado (maybe) retires with a 130-135 OPS+ and is hero worshipped. I’ll remember how the same guys said Olerud didn’t “stack up”.

    Comment by JoeR43 — January 11, 2010 @ 1:39 pm

  116. I dont think Olerud or Dawson are HOF caliber players. I think Dawson was closer if only because he was actually one of the best RFs of his generation.

    Comment by NEPP — January 11, 2010 @ 1:51 pm

  117. JoeR43, how are those two players similar? Clark is clearly the better hitter (137 vs 128 is significant), and we’ve just finished discussing how the defensive metrics built into WAR have some issues that accumulate in the career WAR numbers.

    All we know is that Clark was considered a great defensive first baseman in his time and Olerud was too. The only reason Olerud is anywhere close to Clark on WAR is the huge advantage he has in TZ and the more years he played.

    I’ll take Clark in his prime any day over Olerud.

    Comment by noseeum — January 11, 2010 @ 2:21 pm

  118. So because you don’t like Total Zone, we completely throw defense out the window? Who knows!? Flail our arms in the air!

    Clark was better than Olerud. The gap between the two is horribly overstated right now. Neither of them are Hall of Famers. “He wasn’t a star in his time” is not an argument against a guy.

    And Dawson being one of the great OF’s of his era? Dwight Evans, Jack Clark, Dave Winfield, and Tony Gwynn all thank you for your wonderful analysis, no doubt influenced through objective thought and totally divorced from media perception.

    Comment by JoeR43 — January 11, 2010 @ 2:54 pm

  119. You have said no to Chipper, which can’t be the right call. His career wRC+ is 148, tied for 49th with, among others, Jim Thome. That’s one point behind Mike Schmidt. Depending on who counts as a 3b, Chipper’s offense comes in 5th or 6th all-time at the hot corner.

    Comment by MBD — January 11, 2010 @ 3:27 pm

  120. I’m not saying throw it out completely. I’m saying cumulative WAR is suspect, especially when it pertains to players who have a large portion of their value coming from defense.

    You’re saying they are quite similar because their WARs are similar. I’m saying I don’t agree that you can make that statement based on WAR alone.

    Comment by noseeum — January 11, 2010 @ 3:33 pm

  121. A huge, and awful, part of Whitaker’s snub has to do with the fact that he is black. It’s really sad too.

    As for that list, it really says some interesting things. Jim Edmonds, for one, is a guy who quietly put together a better case for the HOF than many who are in. His glove (also consider all his pre-UZR years) and bat combined are hard to deny.

    Comment by Alireza — January 11, 2010 @ 6:53 pm

  122. Edmonds was again one of those guys that was very good for a while but was never elite and didn’t last long enough to accumulate the counting stats needed.

    He’ll never get in.

    His top comps are Andruw Jones and Ellis Burks…besides he never even got to 2,000 hits.

    Comment by NEPP — January 11, 2010 @ 7:45 pm

  123. On Olerud: I can’t support a guy like him when there are far more deserving 1B on the outside looking in.

    Look at Dick Allen’s career…he only played 2 less seasons than Olerud but he was far more dominant. The guy absolutely destroyed the ball in the 60s…putting up a 156 OPS+ for his career. He hit for high average early in his career (especially for the 2nd dead ball era of the 60s), hit for power throughout and had really good OBP and ISO…the latter far far better than Olerud.

    Yeah, he wasn’t the nicest guy on earth but there are some pretty good reasons behind that (being black in Philly in the early 60s was not the best situation and way to break into the league).

    Comment by NEPP — January 11, 2010 @ 8:46 pm

  124. Woah, something went wrong with my list. “436” and then “45” twice. Not sure what happened there.

    Comment by WY — January 12, 2010 @ 10:47 am

  125. How bout this, we give Olerud a spot in place of Mark McGuire? or Barry Bonds…………………………….

    Comment by adam — January 13, 2010 @ 11:26 am

  126. How about we give none of them spots. If Olerud wants in to the HoF, he can buy his ticket like the rest of us.

    I fully support his entry into the Blue Jays HoF.

    Comment by NEPP — January 13, 2010 @ 11:30 am

  127. Great blog. Found the info very useful thanks. Found your site through yahoo Good luck

    Comment by Williams Nassef — November 9, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

  128. Great article. I was a huge Olerud fan back in the days when baseball was a little grander. I remember him getting boo’d in Boston when he was still batting over .400 that one incredible season. I’d love to see him in the hall, but I think many have been properly reserved about Olerud being a very good player, but not a Hall of Fame player.

    Comment by Yespage — October 3, 2012 @ 9:07 am

  129. The reason Olerud only made 2 all-star appearances is because everyone else was juicing.

    Comment by Seattleslew — January 14, 2014 @ 8:27 am

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