I don’t think comparisons to Kirby Puckett should ever be factored into HOF conversations. Puckett was a fan/media favorite with a tragic story. He kind of got HOF “bonus points” for the career he would’ve had. You apparently only get these for non-injury related physical disability. (Sorry Nomar, Albert Belle, et al.).
My point being that while Berkman compares favorably to Puckett, so do a whole lot of guys on the outside of the HOF looking in.
This is far from a scientific appraisal, but Lance doesn’t feel like a Hall of Famer. Keep in mind, too, that getting into the Hall is going to become increasingly hard, since there are more qualified, nearly qualified and just qualified enough to dilute the voting candidates who will indeed dilute the voting and make it more and more diffficult to get the requisite 75% of votes.
Within a few years of each other, the voters will have Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Greg Maddux, Jeff Kent, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz on their ballots.
I’d say this question depends much on how mainstream sabermetric studies become. A huge portion of Berkman’s value is his ability to take a walk (15.4% over the course of his career, and over 16% after 2002), but the Hall doesn’t care much about walks at this time.
Another wild card in his favor is that he is one of the best switch hitters of all time, something which is at least unique and may set him apart in the minds of voters, though it’s a distinction of dubious real-world value.
It’s very hard for me to see Berkman making a push for 500 HR, much less 3,000 hits, but 2,000/400 should be within reach if he cares enough to pursue those milestones.
I think it will be interesting to see what happens to Edgar Martinez. Berkman is better than Edgar in every way- longevity (presumably), length of his peak, actually played a position and provided some value there.
Personally, I don’t see any way Edgar should be in, but if he is, then Berkman skates in easily.
I unscientifically concur. And since HOF voters vote on “feel”, it probably matters more than facts. It won’t help Berkman that he a) never won an MVP, b) led the league in RBI one season, doubles in two, and nothing in the rest and, c) spent the first few years of his career as the third best player on his own team.
You may be correct, but it’s worth noting that Berkman on his best day could never carry Larry Walker’s jock er glove when it came to defense. Walker in his prime was one of the best RFers of the modern era.
I agree, and the Puckett debate is getting old. It’s lazy. Everytime someone references a borderline HOF, the Puckett comparisons come out. Puckett won 2 World Series championships in 12 years, and had a career cut short by injury — one that was on a HOF path. So with all due respect to the Jim Rice (he eventually made it in), Albert Belle, Dale Murphy type candidates, comparisons to Puckett do not work.
You are probably correct in that walks are not noticed by Hall Voters, but I think OBP is far more valuable. The sad thing is, OBP trumps BA in every way, yet voters still get hung up on a number like .300. He obviously won’t reach the counting stats, so he needs a philosophical shift towards sabermetrics to get him in.
Voters are still too hung up on mainstreat generic stats, and that’s the OLD way of doing things.
Length of career shouldn’t factor into a HOF choice? Why shouldn’t Puckett be penalized b/c his career was cut short and he didn’t accumulate as much value over the course of his career as other more deserving candidates did?
Scottwood, you miss the point ENTIRELY. Puckett does not make a good comparison for that very reason. Unless, of course, you want to start including all hitters with similar numbers to Puckett — Jamie notes.
You don’t use a player with career-shortened statistics as a measuring stick.
Agreed. Bad form on my part with the Puckett argument.
Comment by Joe Pawlikowski — March 12, 2010 @ 8:32 pm
I should mention that as an Astros fan, I would, of course, love to see Berkman get into the Hall alongside Biggio and Bagwell. I would think that all three of the greatest “Killler B’s” getting in would seem very appropriate to any Houston fan.
He ranked 3rd, 5th, 5th, and 2nd in wOBA among left fielders from 2001-2004, and 7th, 3rd, 8th, 2nd, and 12th among 1st basemen from 2005-2009. He did all of this primarily in a very hitter friendly environment while playing defense at about an average level (at the bottom of the defensive spectrum). You could certainly make the argument that he was among the better players at his positions in this era (although he likely doesn’t sit nearly as high on the list at first), but I really can’t see a good argument that he’s a hall of famer. There really wasn’t even a season where you could argue that he was the best player in the majors at his position. He’s a very good player, but he’ll likely never even get within sniffing distance of the hall without some major chemically enhanced late career numbers.
Looking at a rate stat like that is great at the end of a guys career, but you’re currently comparing a guy just entering his decline phase to players who have already got that phase included in their rates. That stat is likely at the highest point it will reach for the remainder of his career. By the time he retires several other guys from his era will likely be ahead of him (Walker and Thome are near certainties, and there are quite a few other possibilities), and there will be several others that reach 3000 PA’s and surpass him by qualifying for the list (as well as several youngsters who are just entering their primes that will likely pass him). There are also several other guys from the current era who are ahead of him (McGwire, Thomas) even though their primes were several years apart from Berkmans. If he managed to play 5 more seasons at that OPS, he’d likely have a very good case, but it’s highly unlikely.
And I don’t really think that OPS is the best stat to look at here. If you’re going to use a rate stat, wOBA does a far better job at valuing OBP and power. He’s currently 52nd all time, but it’s reasonable to assume he won’t be in the top 100 when he retires unless he does it very soon.
OPS is probably a lot closer to what Hall Voters will evaluate based upon, SchmidtXC, and we’ll be lucky if it’s that. More likely they’ll pay more attention to batting average, number of hits, home runs, and championships won.
With all due respect, as soon as I saw the headline of the story I guessed that the author must be be no more than 25 years old. Lance Berkman, though a good player, has literally dozens of non-HOF comparables. If Berkman is near the end of his career we will need Albert Belle, Dick Allen, and Juan Gonzalez to get serious HOF consideration (and they never will) before we can talk about Lance getting in. If Berkman has 6 more really good seasons he might be mentioned with Gary Sheffield who will probably have a hard time getting in himself. Heck, Berkman isn’t a lot better than Ken Singleton at this point and the sentence I am writing right now is the first one ever to include both “Ken Singleton” and “Hall of Fame”.
Are you kidding? You’re joking, right? Ken Singleton had .824 career OPS in 14 seasons, Berkman has .967 in ten. They’re not even close. If you prefer wOBA, how about .370 for Singleton versus .408 for Berkman?
Berkman would have to decline MASSIVELY to be even close to comparable. He is a much better hitter than Singleton ever was.
“With all due respect, as soon as I saw the headline of the story I guessed that the author must be be no more than 25 years old.”
I know this isn’t a good agument but there are worse players in the HOF now than Berkman, Juan Gonzalez, Albert Belle, and Dick Allen.
Fangraphs should just make their own hall of fame, have the fans and the writers do a vote or something.
Comment by SF 55 for life — March 14, 2010 @ 4:15 am
Maybe this has been stated already- but the hall doesnt just vote on perormance
“voting shall be based upon the individual’s record, ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contribution to the game” some people get in being a very good player but much better in these other areas, personally i don’t think its too far fetched to see more emphasis put on the integrity, character, contribution to the game categories in the future- because of the “steroid era”
How about a trade of Aaron Poreda, Logan Forsythe, Saywer Carroll, and Will Venable for Grady Sizemore and Justin Masterson. The Padres lineup becomes:
1. Everth Cabrera
2. David Eckstien
3. Grady Sizemore
4. Adrian Gonzalez
5. Kyle Blanks
6. Scott Hairston
7. Chase Headley
8. Nick Hundley
Your problem with the switch hitter argument is that he’ll probably be going in at the same time as or a little after Chipper, who’ll be ahead of him in every offensive category and has more balanced numbers from both sides. If Chipper goes in before Berkman comes up then the switch hitter argument for Berkman loses luster, but if Chipper’s not in when Berkman comes up the question will become, how can we vote Berkman in if we’ve turned down Chipper?
As an aging non-Astros fan I get the careers of Bagwell and Berkman blurred so I’m surprised people aren’t saying how Bagwell does in HOF voting (same market, mostly same postion, mostly same postseason exposure) would indicate what voters will say about Berkman.
Nope, not kidding at all. Ken Singleton through age 33 had a career OPS+ of 139. Berkman has a 147 through 33. Yes, Berkman is better but not by a mile. KS was in the top 10 in OBP 9 times in his career vs 8 times for Berkman. Both guys had pop and walked a ton. Both guys were top ten 6 times in runs created. Berkman played in an era when way more HRs were hit so his stats look better on the surface but the two guys are actually quite similar. Singleton would be one of those players that sabre guys love if he played today.
This is incredibly relevant to the Berkman HOF discussion. I can’t believe, with all the germane arguments and counter-arguments being tossed about, that everyone left out this make-believe Indians/Pads trade…
All I know is that Andre Dawson wasnt very good at hitting
whoah, slow down there. Andre Dawson hit 438 HRs and slugged .482 over about 10,000+ plate appearances. He had an OPS+ greater than 110 in 12 seasons and a career OPS+ of 119.
He was, by any objective measure, “good at hitting”.
Now, his sub-par OBP certainly clouds his HOF resume and makes him a borderline case that possibly (probably) did not warrant inclusion. I am not debating this.
But to say that either Dawson or Rice were not “good hitters” is simply insane. By definition, if you are a borderline HoF case, even if you are on the “out” side of the line, you were pretty “good” at baseball.
Serious question: Why does the “switch hitting” thing matter? Are you saying that if you had two players with the exact same numbers, and one player accumulated his hitting from one side of the plate and the other from both, you’d give the nod to the latter over the former? Why?
I think Sheffield will get in, probably for the wrong reasons. He will get in b/c his “bat waggle was INTIMIDATING” and for a slugger, he has very low strikeout totals. Writers will love that. Getting over the 500 HR plateau was big too.
He’s tainted with the steroids issue, but writers will probably identify at least part of his career with the era before the “steroid era”. I think he sneaks in.