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  1. How is Jim Thome a “yes, but” case — he’s a slam dunk.

    Comment by AJS — July 22, 2011 @ 1:43 pm

  2. To me Lofton is in in the first few ballots. I’m still amazed no team picked him up in 2008.

    Comment by gnomez — July 22, 2011 @ 1:50 pm

  3. You have a few typos in this article, a he/him and a not/now

    Comment by TK — July 22, 2011 @ 1:50 pm

  4. Even non-stat based baseball people view Ozzie’s defense at shortstop as superior to Omar’s defense. I think if Omar had played in an earlier era, where the general wisdom insanely overvalued key defensive positions, Omar probably would have had a better shot at the HOF. I am talking about the actual HOF, not some imaginary construct.

    If he ever does get in, it will be by the Veteran’s Committee.

    Comment by Phantom Stranger — July 22, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

  5. And I had a him/his typo.

    Comment by TK — July 22, 2011 @ 1:54 pm

  6. Deservedly, yes, but he’ll get a lot of no votes based on being a DH.

    Comment by chuckb — July 22, 2011 @ 1:57 pm

  7. Yeah, I’m with chuckb: he’s a no-brainer for me, but I think some people are going to be a pain about the DH thing.

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — July 22, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

  8. I’m glad you did this, Matt. I’ve been thinking about this sort of thing since someone here wrote an article a few weeks ago about Johnny Damon’s case for the Hall. To me, he’s just not worthy but the more I’ve looked at it, when he finishes up, he’s going to have some really good numbers. He’s in the mid 40’s for WAR and may get to 3000 hits.

    But, like Vizquel, his peak just wasn’t that good. He’s never been so much as a 5 win player, for example. He has several 4 win years and he’s been a very good player for a long period of time, but he’s never truly been one of the elite. That’s where Vizquel is — a good player for a long period of time but never truly elite. Paul Konerko’s another one whose name came up a few weeks back. Both Vizquel and Damon have been better than Konerko but he’s still been a good player for a long period of time. That doesn’t make him a Hall of Famer, in my view, even if Konerko eventually reaches 500 HR.

    Good stuff.

    Comment by chuckb — July 22, 2011 @ 2:02 pm

  9. I agree that Vizquel isn’t a HoF’er, but he was still fun to watch!

    Comment by TheGrandSlamwich — July 22, 2011 @ 2:07 pm

  10. Another one of those Indians guys w/ an interesting Hall of Fame case is Albert Belle. He’d never get in based on: steroid era, career too short, batshit crazy, all of that. But his peak was really good — 2 7+ win years and 3 more 5+ win years. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think he played well enough for long enough to deserve being a Hall of Famer but his WAR total is right in Vizquel’s area. But if he’d been just a little better for a little longer, he’d have a really good case.

    Comment by chuckb — July 22, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

  11. 0 MVP and 2500 K’s? That might turn a few people off…

    Comment by James — July 22, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

  12. Consider ignoring them as they don’t contribute to the discussion.

    Comment by James — July 22, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

  13. Of course, his defense (or its true value) will be wildly overrated and he’ll be elected easily in an anti-steroids purity vote.

    Comment by Will — July 22, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

  14. I’d be dumbfounded if he got in over Larkin

    Comment by James — July 22, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

  15. Wow, good point on Lofton. It’s true he gets ignored by most (myself included) when talking HOF, but man, he was really good. He definitely has a strong case.

    Comment by Vin — July 22, 2011 @ 2:30 pm

  16. I still don’t see why a player has to be measured in general proportions (hitting, base running, and fielding) to his peers, when it’s clear that that person’s greatness is not as valuable in that respect. There should be room for someone who has had significant greatness within a major dimension of the game, even when he’s lacking in another.

    Maybe it’s just semantics, but when I think of the HOF, I want the greatest, of the great within the most significant aspects of the game. When players are generally voted for based heavily on positional circumstances, it seems logical to want the most defensively productive individuals from the most demanding of defensive positions, just as it’s been typical that the HOF will glance past defensive shortcomings at the least demanding defensive positions because they typically “need” to carry the most productive hitting players (such as first base and left field).

    I’m not saying Omar should get in, but it’s really a disservice to a major part of the game and the most crucial defensive position on the field.

    Comment by baty — July 22, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

  17. To me the interesting thing about Vizquel is his “first man there” status. He’s like a demigod in Venezuela, and I think he’s one of the first guys from that country to play in MLB. As Nomo did for Japan, as Chan Ho Park did (and sort of does, in a sad way) for Korea, so does Vizquel have a special place in the eyes and hearts of the people of his country. I don’t think he’s Hall material any more than the other two, but he will get plenty of recognition.

    Seems like there should be a “Hall of endurance” or something for guys like Vizquel and Damon who had staying power but just were never really great….

    Comment by O's fan — July 22, 2011 @ 2:35 pm

  18. duke snider played over 2,000 games. by what measure is that a short career? did you mean roy campanella–8 fantastic seasons with huge parts of his career lost to segregation and a car accident.

    Comment by david — July 22, 2011 @ 2:36 pm

  19. the REAL question is how is tim raines not in the hall?

    Comment by jim — July 22, 2011 @ 2:36 pm

  20. oops. the duke snider link is to a roy campanella br page

    Comment by david — July 22, 2011 @ 2:37 pm

  21. I imagine Andruw Jones would be a similar case?

    Comment by baty — July 22, 2011 @ 2:39 pm

  22. Kenny Lofton!!!! My personal hero and favorite player growing up.

    I normally try to contribute to the conversation when I post a comment, but mentioning Kenny Lofton makes all of my brain cells turn to goo and I just gush over him. He’s so cool!

    Comment by Sitting Curveball — July 22, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

  23. but snider compiled almost all his value in 9 seasons: around 62 of his 71 WAR came in 49-57

    Comment by jim — July 22, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

  24. 57th actually. And 9th All-Star.

    Comment by Joe — July 22, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

  25. “When players are generally voted for based heavily on positional circumstances, it seems logical to want the most defensively productive individuals from the most demanding of defensive positions, just as it’s been typical that the HOF will glance past defensive shortcomings at the least demanding defensive positions because they typically “need” to carry the most productive hitting players (such as first base and left field).”

    But WAR has a positional adjustment, one that Vizquel has taken advantage of (in terms of WAR) for 20 years. So when SSs are compared with LFs, for example, he’s already getting the benefit of playing the most demanding defensive position.

    The Hall should care about players who are the most productive, regardless of whether that production comes from offense or defense, regardless of the position they played. And Vizquel comes up short. In fact, he’s 32nd all time among SSs based on WAR. Those at the top are either in or will be in (except Trammell).

    Limiting yourself to the best defensive players at shortstop, for example, ignores how great ARod has been over his career b/c he’s been just an average defensive player. Ditto Ernie Banks or even Barry Larkin. Those guys weren’t as good as Vizquel defensively but more than made up for it due to their superlative offense. The Hall should be about their total contribution, not strictly limiting it to specific elements of players’ games.

    Comment by chuckb — July 22, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

  26. 600 HR, the nicest guy in baseball, top 10 in walks… probably makes up for it

    Comment by jim — July 22, 2011 @ 2:54 pm

  27. there doesn’t have to be a Hall of _______ for us to appreciate _______

    Comment by juan pierre's mustache — July 22, 2011 @ 3:15 pm

  28. I just don’t know what to think of the HOF anymore. Omar and Damon may get in via accumulation (the 3000 hit threshold is still a lock isn’t it?) but my main man Lou Whitaker is still frozen out despite having practically an identical cumulative WAR curve as Derek Jeter who will go in as a sure thing first ballot. I guess in baseball as in life sometimes things just aren’t fair.

    Comment by Lyle Schweik — July 22, 2011 @ 3:19 pm

  29. Isn’t Ozzie Smith v. Vizquel also a question of timing? ie. Offense was down when Ozzie played, and up when Vizquel played, which makes Ozzie’s number look better relative to average, because the way that offense was supressed (sic), ie. mainly power numbers (as BABIP is relatively constant over a long enough sample), is less likely to affect a hitter like Vizquel or Ozzie Smith who aren’t hitting the ball out of the park anyway. Not saying he’s as good as Ozzie, but wouldn’t Vizquel’s case look a lot better if he played ten to twelve years earlier? Though of course, there’s still the cases of Lou Whitaker and Allen Trammell . . .

    Comment by Crumpled Stiltskin — July 22, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

  30. Awesome article, Matt. I especially like that you spelled out the basics of WAR so even beginners can understand what’s going on. Regarding the Lofton mention, many comments of this article ( compared Lofton favorably to Ichiro. So while there’s some support for Lofton, it seems only to come from the Fangraphs readers.

    @ baty: Dave Cameron wrote an article last year about Andruw Jones’ case for the HOF, although now it seems you must be an ESPN insider to view it. The interesting thing was that his career WAR was the same as Derek Jeter’s, and we all know Jeter is getting in.

    Comment by Spunky — July 22, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

  31. Omar Vizquel is one of the most overrated players of all time. The only source of his perceived “value” comes from his defense which is the single most overrated measure of all time, especially on sites like these. If Omar gets into the HOF, I will renounce baseball as my favorite sport and never watch another game.

    Comment by Carlmart — July 22, 2011 @ 3:40 pm

  32. A few thoughts:

    1) How did Vizquel’s wRC+ compare to that of other SS? Saying that he was a bad hitter because he hit under 100 in the middle of the roid-era is a little disingenuous. Every team needs a shortstop to bat at least three times a game (excluding crazy-Earl Weaver-pinch-hitting techniques).

    2) “it is simply to say that players in the Hall should have a truly great peak.” What is this based on, exactly? Gut feeling? No offense intended, but who decided this?

    3) Agreeing that Lofton was/is underrated.

    Comment by delv — July 22, 2011 @ 3:46 pm

  33. Am I the only one who loved playing with Lofton in Backyard Baseball? That son could steal some mad bases….
    Also, very good article. A fairhanded view and leads to interesting disscussions about HOF qualifications. (Vizquel, Lofton, Damon, Konerko, etc.)

    Comment by futurecfo — July 22, 2011 @ 3:48 pm

  34. Is the “nicest guy in baseball” really a determining factor to his Hall of Fame worthiness?

    Comment by Sox2727 — July 22, 2011 @ 3:58 pm

  35. The case against Vizquel boils down to, “WAR is everything.” If there is no room in the HOF for players whose contributions to the game were both outstanding and somewhat unique, then he’s not getting in.

    If, on the other hand, there is room in the HOF for standout defenders and relievers (and managers for that matter), who could never rank near the top on a strict WAR basis, then he is getting in. The fact is that a strict WAR approach makes for a less diverse group of HOFers than most people would find appropriate — and not just the “unenlightened” folk.

    Is there really going to be a DH snit over Thome? He hit 403 HR as a corner infielder. It wasn’t that long ago that 400 HR was considered automatic. Now he hits another 200 HR as a DH, and that’s going to get held against him?

    Comment by Jay Levin — July 22, 2011 @ 4:02 pm

  36. To me (I know this is somewhat arbitrary), a Hall of Famer is someone that during his career was considered Top 3-5 at his position for an extended period of time (I generally think 8 years or more). Furthermore, you really shouldn’t have to pour over tons of data to determine if someone is Hall worthy. Did anyone think for more than .3 seconds if Rickey Henderson was a Hall of Famer? Will anyone think about whether Derek Jeter is a Hall of Famer, or how about Randy Johnson. True Hall of Famers leave no doubt.

    Chuck you brought up a few names that I’ve heard people debating recently, particularly Konerko (being that I live outside Chicago) interests me. He is one of my all-time favorite White Sox but he’s not a Hall of Famer even if he gets to 500 homers (sorry Ozzie, you nut). I never at any point in Paulie’s career said “This is one of the top 3 first baseman in baseball.” I don’t think anyone could make that case for Johnny Damon either, whether he gets to 3000 hits or not and I believe the same to be the case for Omar. I know here at FanGraphs we focus heavily on quantifiable metrics, but for me when talking about Hall of Fame worthiness, if I have to think about it then I already know the answer.

    Comment by Sox2727 — July 22, 2011 @ 4:08 pm

  37. If Bagwell doesn’t elicit automatic because of roids suspicion that has nothing more than circumstantial evidence, don’t you think Thome will get the same treatment?

    Comment by A guy from PA — July 22, 2011 @ 4:13 pm

  38. I get it, but If your’e only looking at total contribution, I think you’d have to remove guys like Sandy Koufax from the HOF then. Sandy is a result of voters being able to compartmentalize the total contribution of baseball play into significant aspects of greatness (maybe health/sustainability, hitting/pitching, defense, base running). In my mind if you don’t can’t make circumstantial decisions to some degree, then you’re missing out on some very HOF worthy contributions within the game.

    …Nothing to do with Omar, but it has maybe more to do with how you figure out ways of placing/ranking players like Frank Thomas and Andruw Jones within the greatness of the game.

    Comment by baty — July 22, 2011 @ 4:16 pm

  39. Andruw Jones’ candidacy has been discussed on here before. Despite being an elite player for almost 10 years, the fact that his career took a nosedive at the ripe old age of 30, he’s going to lose a lot of leverage

    Comment by j6takish — July 22, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

  40. Sox – it better be, one of the Hall voting criteria is moral character and integrity, something Manny Ramirez will be significantly lacking in.

    Comment by DD — July 22, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

  41. Many writers have assumed, for whatever reasons, that Jim Thome (and Ken Griffey Jr.) did not use steroids. I guess because Jeff Bagwell became much more visibly muscular throughout his career, he is not afforded the same favorable assumption. That, of course, is ridiculous because there is no evidence about steroid use for either one (and no way to know if they didn’t use steroids in the 90s) but that seems to be the prevailing sentiment among some writers.

    Comment by Mcneildon — July 22, 2011 @ 4:40 pm

  42. Well, 28 of the actual HoF voters not only thought about Rickey Henderson not being in the Hall, they actually didn’t vote for him. Twenty-eight! Should be grounds for having their BBWAA cards pulled, but whatever: the voters clearly have their own criteria (and their own arbitrary and imaginary “inner”/first vote and “outer”/later vote halls and related stupidity).

    Comment by joser — July 22, 2011 @ 5:04 pm

  43. I think the assumption is that Vizquel’s numbers would be lower if he played in a “down” offensive period, just the same as everyone else’s were, and that Ozzie’s would be up if the flip side were the case. Value is calculated relative to the league for this reason.

    Comment by Jon — July 22, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

  44. Well at least you’ve got a very calm, level-headed response ready for that perceived injustice if the day comes…

    Comment by Jason B — July 22, 2011 @ 5:23 pm

  45. “The case against Vizquel boils down to, “WAR is everything.” ”

    Umm…no. Good lord no. Not even close. It’s one simple metric for looking at a player’s total value, but it certainly has its flaws and shouldn’t be the total case for any HOF discussion. The flaws in Vizquel’s case are numerous; they can be boiled down to WAR for simplicity’s sake.

    Comment by Jason B — July 22, 2011 @ 5:25 pm

  46. (i’m not going to talk about his WAR-worthiness, since maybe like 4 BBWAA writers even are aware of WAR, if that)

    i was going to suggest brooks robinson as a comp; someone who was an outstanding defender (obviously in robinson’s case perhaps the best of all time, regardless of position) but whose offensive numbers are mostly the result of accumulation through playing for seemingly ages (robinson has appeared in 5 more games than vizquel, 2896 to 2891)

    then i looked at robinson’s numbers: 5 seasons over 125 wRC+, 6 seasons with 20+ homers, 2 more at 18 and 1 at 17, career 105 wRC+, nearly 300 homers and 3000 hits, an MVP award which BBWAA loves, AND as i mentioned, maybe the best defensive player ever.

    but vizquel… 4 seasons at or over 100 wRC+, 1 season with more than 10 homers, 1 with 9, 1 with 7, career 85 wRC+, over 400 SB and nearly 3000 hits, and, according to the leaderboards, the 16th best defender at SS… all that adds up, in my mind, to not quite being good enough.

    it’s iffy at best in my eyes, and probably a lot worse to the BBWAA, and just as konerko may get to 500 HR and not deserve to be in the hall, vizquel probably will get to 3000 hits and not deserve to be in the hall.

    Comment by jim — July 22, 2011 @ 5:45 pm

  47. vizquel has -163 batting runs for his career, of all SS with higher fielding runs only rabbit maranville, rey sanchez, germany smith, and mark belanger have lower career batting run totals. if you drop the comparison to all SS with at least 100 career fielding runs, then you add ozzie guillen.

    Comment by jim — July 22, 2011 @ 5:50 pm

  48. I’ll never have a HOF vote, but if I could I would definitely vote for Kenny Lofton! I was never a Cleveland fan, but I was playing Fantasy baseball back in the 90s and he was a a first rounder in every draft for many years. Was drafted first over all once. I am frankly shocked he was not a sure thing hall of Famer first ballot guy based on his peak years.

    Comment by Kick me in the GO NATS — July 22, 2011 @ 5:59 pm

  49. I really don’t care who does or does not get into the Hall of Fame, but I don’t see any reason why a player who has a “great peak” is more deserving than one who has a long, good workmanlike career.

    Comment by GiantHusker — July 22, 2011 @ 6:05 pm

  50. His numbers make him an easy Hall of Famer, but at first glance I’m kind of wary… his case is based solely on hitting, but he was never really thought of as one of the absolute best hitters in the game at any ponit. He’s certainly not the guy I was worried abuot in those Cleveland lineups.

    Comment by JimNYC — July 22, 2011 @ 6:16 pm

  51. Sox — it really really is. Otherwise Albert Belle wouldn’t have fallen off the ballot his first year.

    Comment by JimNYC — July 22, 2011 @ 6:16 pm

  52. He reminds me a lot of Luis Aparicio, except Aparicio wasn’t playing in an era flooded with great shortstops.

    Comment by JimNYC — July 22, 2011 @ 6:17 pm

  53. I foynd a fw is ww’ll and hey sissy’t help cod

    Comment by a'a — July 22, 2011 @ 6:26 pm

  54. I consider Rickey Henderson one of the thirty or forty best players of all time, but I could see several arguments for being a touch hesitent on putting him into the Hall on the first ballot.

    The first is the always there but never really articulated steroid cloud he had hanging over him. The only person I’ve ever known to actually come out and accuse him of it was Jose Canseco — and he only did it obliquely — but the rumblings were always there just under the surface. I think that might have given some people pause.

    A lot of people didn’t like his personality AT ALL — and it’s not just the showiness and big ego. There’s a reason he played for about eight billion teams. He became universally hated by Mets fans for his stupid egotism in the field — he cost them a game once when his flashy swipe catch of a lazy fly ball turned into an error that cost them a game, and it was on the back page of all the papers for a week.

    And also (and here’s my personal concern with Henderson)… after his age 27 season (1986 with the Yankees), he played more than 150 games in a season exactly ONCE in his career. People think of him playing forever, but they tend to forget that in the last 14 years of his career, from 1990 on, he played more than 140 games only twice.

    Two guys who put up the same exact numbers in 1500 games aren’t nearly the same value if one guy did it in 150 games a year for ten years and the other guy did it for 100 games a year for 15 years. With Rickey, you know that you were going to have a hole in your lineup in at least a quarter to a third of your games every year that was going to have to be filled with a replacement player… you’d much rather a guy give you two solid healthy years and then leave to be replaced rather than have a guy give you three years where you need to scramble for replacements constantly in midseason. I’m very leery of players like that.

    Comment by JimNYC — July 22, 2011 @ 6:32 pm

  55. I prefer when people point out my mistakes rather than letting them sit there. My guess is the writer does, too. I’m sure you’ve never made any mistakes, so it’s not a concern for you.

    Comment by TK — July 22, 2011 @ 6:32 pm

  56. One of the first guys from Venezuela to play in MLB? Seriously? You’ve never heard of Luis Aparicio? Or Cesar Tovar? Tony Armas, Dave Concepcion, Manny Trillo, Andres Gallaraga? Seriously?

    Comment by JimNYC — July 22, 2011 @ 6:38 pm

  57. No way, the steroid-era’s lasting effect is the hall of fame, with enough writers voting for steroid guys every year to push the ballot to its largest number ever (not sure if this is true yet but it will be). This is going to make it very difficult for anyone other than the sure-fire hall of famers to get in. I thought Bagwell was a surefire HOFer (maybe baseless steroid claims). Larkin would be in the Hall already if not for the backlog.

    Comment by TK — July 22, 2011 @ 6:38 pm

  58. I do think the biggest thing about the hall of fame verses the hall of WAR is players who really excel outside of hitting or starting pitching. How many 5+ WAR seasons does Mariano Rivera have? Try claiming he’s not hall worthy and look forward to your -137 rating.

    You can say the same about defense at a premium position. These guys are really great at something people really care about. It’s not that Vizquel’s defense (or Andruw Jones) are overrated. Few would argue that. Some just think the Hall should be reserved for the guys who added the most value. I don’t get that.

    Comment by TK — July 22, 2011 @ 6:43 pm

  59. Better examples would be two of my personal favorite players, George Sisler and Chuck Klein. Sisler was one of the greatest players of all time for seven years — and then in the 1922 offseason he suffered an eye infection and he became essentially a replacement player. Klein is an even more fascinating case because he has almost zero value outside of the first five years of his career — but in those five years, he had at least four with a BA better than .348, OBP better than .404, SLG better than .602, four seasons of 121 or more runs, 4 seasons of 219 or more(!) hits, 4 seasons of 121 or more RBI. 3 seasons of over 400 total bases. Even led the league in SB once.

    Say what you will about the Baker Bowl, but while it lasted, Klein was a heck of a player.

    Comment by JimNYC — July 22, 2011 @ 6:46 pm

  60. Lou Whitaker is a great player who should probably be in the Hall of Fame. But I’m the type of guy who seriously cares about how players are perceived by their contemporaries… and Lou Whitaker received ANY MVP votes a grand total of once (when he finished 8th in 1983).

    For somebody who’s always been considered overrated, Jeter has been criminally underserved by the MVP voters. He easily deserved it in 1999 and 2006 and got passed over by Justin Morneua in the latter year and five players (including Raphael Palmiero?) in the former. But he does have seven top 10 finishes.

    Comment by JimNYC — July 22, 2011 @ 6:54 pm

  61. Omar Vizquel was NOT an exceptional fielder. I discuss his case at length in Wizardry: Baseball’s All-Time Greatest Fielders Revealed (OUP 2011). I concluded that he was at most about +60 defensive runs in his career, a decent but unexceptional total. I recently completed a Tom Tango WOWY analysis for Vizquel and reached exactly the same total: +60 defensive runs. In contrast, Wizardry has Ozzie Smith at +150 defensive runs (with a great sustained peak from 1978 until the rotator cuff injury in 1985) and a recent WOWY analysis would up that to +200 runs or so.

    There is absolutely no legitimate case for him as a Hall of Famer, even if he gets 3000 hits.

    Comment by Michael Humphreys — July 22, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

  62. Curious as to other shortstops that are worth more than 60 defensive runs.

    Comment by Brian Moyer — July 22, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

  63. and here I am fresh out of Purina Troll Chow.

    Comment by TerryMc — July 22, 2011 @ 9:44 pm

  64. Your comment is self-contradictory. It’s just as easy to say that Lou Whitaker was “criminally underserved” by the MVP voters. Indeed, Bill James pointed out–while Whitaker was still active–that the media perception of him and Trammell was ridiculous, given that Trammell got credit for everything but his and Whitaker’s numbers were essentially identical.

    Comment by Breadbaker — July 22, 2011 @ 10:26 pm

  65. @TK

    Regarding Mariano Rivera and WAR.

    Simple examination proves that WAR is a valid way to prove Rivera’s relative worth. A simple sort shows that he leads every other reliever by 12.9 full WAR (37.6 to Billy Wagner’s 2nd place 24.7) for the period of 1986-2011. I’m fairly certain everyone who believes in WAR as a way to value players understands that no reliever will ever acheive extraordinarily high marks. The highest mark during that time period is Mark Eichorn’s 1986 at 5.3, 2nd goes to Gagne’s ’03 at 4.5 and Mr. Cutter’s ’96 at 4.4.

    In my humble opinion WAR is still especially good at measuring pitchers as it doesn’t have all the UZR noise.

    Comment by MNzach — July 22, 2011 @ 10:45 pm

  66. Same! I gave you a +1, futurecfo!

    Comment by Sitting Curveball — July 22, 2011 @ 11:28 pm

  67. @other jim,

    and he only acquired 66 of his career WAR after 86- what a loser!

    Comment by jim — July 22, 2011 @ 11:51 pm

  68. So you’re telling me if a guy has 70 WAR in his career but is an absolute jag, he shouldn’t get into the Hall?

    Comment by Sox2727 — July 23, 2011 @ 1:17 am

  69. The greater point I’m making here is that regardless of the individual voters personal agendas for/not voting for individual players, true Hall of Famers leave no doubt. Are there mistakes made with not electing certain players initially because of “character” issues and voter’s personal reasons, sure but in the end the truly great players really don’t need a debate.

    Comment by Sox2727 — July 23, 2011 @ 1:23 am

  70. Here’s why: Guys with long careers get credit for value over replacement players, while guys with short careers aren’t being replaced by replacement players. I’ll give you an example.

    Nomar Garciaparra played for the Red Sox from 1996 through 2003 (I’ll forget about his 2004 half season for these purposes). From 1997 through 2003, he put up WAR totals of 6.6, 7.5, 6.3, 7.7, 0.3, 4.8, and 5.7, for a total of 38.9 WAR in seven years. For these purposes, let’s pretend his career ended at the end of the 2003 season (I’m sure there are many fans who wish it had).

    Another shortstop who debuted in 1996, Edgar Renteria, has put up 38.8 WAR in his career, and is still playing in 2011. Based upon your assumption, Nomar and Edgar have been roughly comparable in value over their careers, no?

    Wrong. This misses a very crucial aspect — in order to get that WAR out of Edgar, teams have had to keep playing him all these years, essentially full time through 2009 and half time since then. Meanwhile, the Red Sox got 39 WAR out of through 2003, and then went on to get even more positive (although unspectacular) WAR contributions from the likes of Alex Gonzalez, Julio Lugo, Marco Scutaro, and, yes, Edgar Renteria. All of those guys were contributing marginal to moderate positive WAR while Nomar was (in our imaginary world) retired. So even though Nomar’s WAR looks like Edgar’s WAR, they’re not at all comparable.

    I’ll give you an even easier example. Let’s say that C.C. Sabathia finishes up this season with a record in the range of 23-7, and an ERA around 2.75 (which seems entirely reasonable). Let’s say he uses his opt-out clause, and the Yankees sign him for another seven years, $175 million. Then, let’s say that he immediately, for no particular reason, loses his effectiveness, and becomes a dead-replacement level pitcher — 0.0 WAR per year. He’s signed at $25 mill per, so the Yankees have to keep him in their rotation for at least 4 of those years as long as he can stay healthy, before eating the rest of the contract.

    Now, let’s suppose that instead of signing an extension, he opts out, and decides to retire instead. He’s sick of baseball. In either case, he retires with the exact same career WAR. Except in the retirement scenario, the Yankees would move heaven and earth to get Felix Hernandez to replace Sabathia — say, offer the Mariners Brett Gardner, Montero, Betances, and Banuelos, and maybe offer to eat the contract on Chone Figgins — and the they’ve got a 5.0 WAR pitching filling that rotation spot that otherwise would have gone to a 0.0 WAR Sabathia.

    To go even more out on a ledge, let’s take a completely ridiculous hypothetical. Let’s say that we have a child prodigy who learns how to throw a knuckleball as a teenager, and shows up in a big league rotation throwing his knuckleball at a league average pace at the age of 18. Then let’s say that he can throw up 250 innings of mediocre ball every year — knuckleball doesn’t put stress on his arm — and even though he’s a mediocre fourth pitcher at best, he can throw up 2.0 WAR a year. Never more, never less, just 2.0 WAR a year, every year… until he’s 50. Because that’s what knuckleballers do.

    Now, that’s cerainly a nice thing to have, a guy who can consistently give you league average production for a long time. But would you rather have his career? Or Roy Halladay’s? Because they’d have the same career WAR.

    All things aside, the guy who racked up an equal mount of WAR in fewer games is the more valuable guy. Hence, peak matters.

    Comment by JimNYC — July 23, 2011 @ 1:24 am

  71. depends on context of course, but being a great guy should definitely help your case

    Comment by jim — July 23, 2011 @ 1:45 am

  72. I say: “The case against Vizquel boils down to, “WAR is everything.” ”

    You say: “The flaws in Vizquel’s case are numerous; they can be boiled down to WAR for simplicity’s sake.”

    You are agreeing with me, whether you realize it or not.

    TK’s comment perhaps says it better than mine. When I say “WAR is everything,” I am using WAR as a proxy for the monochromatic evaluation of baseball careers, essentially forcing every candidate to be compared to the all-time best power-hitting outfielders and first basemen on the bases of pure run scoring (or run prevention).

    The problem with this is, a lot of folks think there should be room in the HOF for more than just a whole bunch of power hitters and only the elite of the elite skill position players.

    Comment by Jay Levin — July 23, 2011 @ 5:29 am

  73. But the problem is, this article is not about the “true” (which I take to mean slam-dunk) HoFers. We’re talking about the margins here. And no matter where you set the bar (abstractly or quantitatively), you’re going to have marginal cases.

    If you exclude all the players who don’t pass the initial smell test, you might raise the bar but you will eventually encounter the same problem, as with a player (like Thome, say), who will elicit a “no-doubter” response from some and a “really?” from others.

    Comment by KitchenSink — July 23, 2011 @ 8:06 am

  74. I saw the “good guy” argument above. While I think Thome is Hall of Fame material based on the body of his work, I think the fact that Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby are in the Hall of Fame really negates the ability of anyone to include or exclude on that basis. Any “morals” clause in baseball just doesn’t do it for me. I actually dread the day that Barry Bonds fails to get in on the first ballot even though we all know that steroids or not, he is one of the most prolific hitters of all time.

    I also saw someone questioning Rickey Henderson and the amount of games played each season after age 27. If that is truly factoring into the argument, my heart goes out to Chipper Jones, a guy who I think is deserving of enshrinement at Cooperstown but whose body has continually betrayed him while his underlying skills tended to remain strong.

    Comment by HollywoodMcMoon — July 23, 2011 @ 8:49 am

  75. Does anyone know of articles/research that has validated WAR with actual results? I think it’s a great concept but do we know it’s accurate? My first reaction was that it was under-valuing Vizquel somehow. I fully admit that Vizquel played on a great team so maybe he was over-hyped to his actual value. Obviously this site relies upon it a great deal and it would nice to see some validation for everyone who relies on it.

    Comment by TL — July 23, 2011 @ 9:37 am

  76. Vizquel in the Hall? No.

    Comment by Blue — July 23, 2011 @ 9:52 am

  77. Who cares about the Ks, he has a career .400 wOBA

    Comment by Eric — July 23, 2011 @ 10:16 am

  78. If you back away from the #s a bit, isn’t the answer to Damon or Vizquel for the HOF “don’t be silly”?

    It’d be nice to see Wins Above Average used more for this type of discussion. WAA would, appropriately imo, put a bit more weight on greatness and a little less on “compiling”. If you adhere too strictly to WAR, you end up with Chuck Finley = Sandy Koufax, which feels wrong to pretty much everybody.

    Comment by Pierre — July 23, 2011 @ 11:38 am

  79. As a White Sox, I can say the Omar Vizquel has had a profound impact as a bench player with the southsiders not only on the field, but also with the maturation of Alexei Ramirez’s defense at SS. In Alexei’s first two seasons (2008 & 2009), he had terrible footwork, an inaccurate arm, and struggled with turning the double play; prompting Ozzie to even try him playing him in CF during his rookie year. Alexei posted a -10.8 and 3.1 UZR in 2008 and 2009 respectively. However, when Omar arrived Alexei took a tremendous jump posting a 10.8 UZR in 2010. Today Alexei is in the conversation as the top defensive SS in the AL along with Elvis Andrus, another player that Omar impacted. Andrus posted a 12.1 UZR in 2009, but has regressed somewhat since Omar departed (.1 UZR in 2010, 5.7 UZR so far this year).

    Given Omar’s impact on the development of anyoung SS and the fact that he is still in terrific shape, Vizquel may play for another few seasons and therefore have a legit shot at 3000 hits. If I am the Cubs, I am making a serious push to get Omar in order to develop Starlin Castro in the field.

    Even though Vizquel has a career .273 AVG, a .312 wOBA, and only a 48.3 WAR, the guy has made his mark on the game of baseball in the field and should be in the HOF.

    Great article and follow up discussion. I especially enjoyed the Kenny Lofton piece. I just wanted to make note of Omar’s other statistical impact as a teacher.

    Comment by picatoe9 — July 23, 2011 @ 2:00 pm

  80. My response to Omar Vizquel’s HOF candidacy is the same as my response to Jamie Moyer’s candidacy. Each player has accumulated good but not great counting stats thanks to playing for a long, LONG time. Neither player has any business getting into the Hall of Fame. Both players have outside shots at getting in and will certainly have some vocal advocates. The rational part of my brain will be disgusted if either player gets in; the irrational/emotional/nostalgic part of my brain, however, will not complain, as these are both very likable players.

    Someone probably already mentioned that a vote for Vizquel will largely be a protest vote (i.e., a protest against the excesses of the steroids era in MLB). Horrible rationale but totally predictable. It does appear that objective/statistical analyses of players is becoming more and more typical, however, so I’d like to think that these sorts of voters are becoming dinosaurs.

    An additional (and obvious) point: if/when the stats geek community comes up with a rock solid and widely accepted way of quantifying defensive performance, players like Omar Vizquel will stop being so overrated as fielders.

    Another fairly obvious point: if voters were truly interested in getting behind a truly awesome defensive player of the steroids era who likely did not use steroids, they should get behind Andruw Jones, who is surely one of the top 3-4 defensive outfielders in the history of baseball AND who was quite the slugger, particularly relative to his CF peers. The curious reason why one comes to the conclusion that Jones was not using steroids is the fact that he didn’t keep himself in particularly good shape, which is why his performance plummeted at such an early age. The dudes who were using steroids, to their credit, spent an extraordinary amount of time working out and staying in shape.

    Comment by Robbie G. — July 23, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

  81. The problem is, unless the writer is utterly oblivious to grammatical law (if you will), you correcting his typos is not going to help….at all. It’s not as if he unconsciously types these mistakes and takes them as correct. It’s just something he misses every now and then. Telling someone that their basic grammar will not improve their writing, just deal with it.

    Comment by Taskmaster — July 23, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

  82. If we pointed out every grammatical mistake made in any sentence/article/porno, we’d be getting nothing done and I’d be unsatisfied.

    Comment by My echo and bunnymen (Dodgers Fan) — July 23, 2011 @ 2:38 pm

  83. Another point about Vizquel’s HOF candidacy: I’d like to think that the Vizquel HOF conversation will result in some folks pointing out how much better Alan Trammell was, i.e., “How in the world can one vote for Omar Vizquel but not vote for Alan Trammell?” Trammell needs to get some folks to loudly advocate for his candidacy if he’s ever going to get in. Trammell has five more years (2012-16) of being on the HOF ballot before being at the mercy of the veterans committee. If Vizquel retires at the end of this season, and Trammell still hasn’t gotten in by 2015, then Vizquel’s first year of HOF eligibility (2016) will be Trammell’s last year of HOF candidacy. Could be perfect timing for Trammell.

    An even better result of an Omar Vizquel HOF discussion would be some folks strongly advocating for Bill Dahlen, who is basically the player that Vizquel’s somewhat irrational advocates believe that Vizquel is/was. Pre-1943 players get considered again in 2013, and then again in 2018 (assuming there is not another rules change). Vizquel is going to become eligible in either 2016 (if he retires at the end of this season) or 2017, most likely, so the timing here, as in Trammell above, would be pretty perfect for Dahlen. 2018 might be Dahlen’s best shot at getting in, and if he does, then my guess it’ll be because of the anticipated Vizquel HOF discussion (i.e., “If we want to vote in a slick fielding SS who more than held his own at the plate, vote for Bill Dahlen, not Omar Vizquel!”).

    Side note: I am always struck by some of the names who get votes for the HOF. In 2011, Tino Martinez got six votes, Marquis Grissom got four, B.J. Surhoff got two, Bret Boone got one, Benito Santiago got one. B.J. Surhoff? Seriously?

    Comment by Robbie G. — July 23, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

  84. how do you know Vizquel had anything to do with the development of Andrus or Ramirez?

    Comment by Pierre — July 23, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

  85. 500 voters. One of them was BJ Surhoff’s brother-in-law or whatever.

    Comment by Pierre — July 23, 2011 @ 2:54 pm

  86. Cheeses! While not as obviously objectionable as the “arguments” for or against other HoF cases (Jack-Morris-is-a-HOFer “sportswriters”: I’m pissing on you!) , this starts as and proves to be another “MY HoF Would Be a REAL GOOD ‘un, ‘cos…!”

    I don’t thin OV is a credible HoF candidate, but “not an impressive-enough peak for me” just makes you look like another human with nostrils, as the Zen Masters used to say.

    Comment by pinball1973 — July 23, 2011 @ 5:40 pm

  87. Reporters talk about it all of the time locally in Chicago. I found two articles below:

    Comment by picatoe9 — July 23, 2011 @ 5:41 pm

  88. What were Vizquel’s “outstanding and unique” accomplishments? He was a good glove no hit shortstop playing in a juiced up offensive era. Was he a good teammate? Well he keeps getting jobs no matter how poorly he plays so maybe he is, but I bet Belle and Mesa would disagree.

    If Omar had quit six years ago, as his performance dictates he should have, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.

    Comment by Mike Pink — July 23, 2011 @ 7:40 pm

  89. I loved Andruw, but I think we have all overrated him based on the era he played and some flashy numbers. If you look at their raw career stats, Chet Lemon and Andruw are basically the same player. I loved Chester Earl as well, but he is not a HOFer either.

    Comment by Mike Pink — July 23, 2011 @ 7:47 pm

  90. The errors were corrected, so something was done. I can’t believe that a writer wouldn’t want to know this. Have you ever had a job or attended a college class? Not everyone takes this so personally. You should probably leave that to the writer.

    Comment by TK — July 23, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

  91. No, that’s not the point. It’s just a friendly reminder so he can fix the little typos. Then some people like to make a big deal about it. Not sure I understand that.

    Comment by TK — July 23, 2011 @ 7:55 pm

  92. Uh… WAR does nothing of the sort. In fact, it actually allows one to compare the values of players who achieve their value in different ways. We *don’t* have to devalue the Brett Gardner-types simply because they don’t perform well in the HR/RBI departments that are typically used to judge left fielders, for example.

    Further, it may be true that WAR is not the be all and end all of statistics, but my thought process tends to follow the same value algorithm it employs. The awfulness of Vizquel’s offense is pretty apparent from his stats, and I’m not sure one can argue that TZ has really underrated his defense over the course of his career. It’s nice that WAR ranks him well below my HOF WAR threshold, but he didn’t pass the eyeball test to begin with.

    Comment by Kevin S. — July 23, 2011 @ 8:11 pm

  93. Let’s not make Albert Belle or Jose Mesa’s opinion on who is or isn’t a good teammate mean anything.

    Unfortunately, Omar didn’t quit 6 years ago… and it’s hard to look at the last 6 years as having added anything to his legacy from a WAR perspective, especially when we look it as a WAR/yr issue. Everything after ’06 has been under his career averages, 3 of the years were -WAR years and it’s not like he’s played in a lot of games to pad his counting stats.

    I can’t pretend these last 5 years didn’t exist, but his candidacy isn’t predicated on what he’s done during them, nor is it the reason we’re discussing him. If he sticks around long enough to creep past 3000 hits, then you can make that claim.

    Comment by JamesDaBear — July 23, 2011 @ 9:44 pm

  94. I feel like the best defensive players deserve almost as much credit as the best offensive players, but they rarely do. Vizquel was a standout defender for 15+ seasons and regardless of whether or not WAR deems him worthy, if I had a vote Vizquel would be a 1st ballot guy.

    Comment by Matt — July 24, 2011 @ 2:51 am

  95. 600 HRs without the juice.

    he will be in the Hall.

    Comment by Shaun Catron — July 24, 2011 @ 3:49 am

  96. I am unfamiliar with th writer or the blog.

    As an aged fan who loves him some stats, this is the fundamental problem with stt obsessed folk. I saw most of Aparicio’s career, I saw all of Ozzie’s, and plenty of other defensive wizrds.

    Hands down Vizquel is the best defensive SS since the mid 1950s, and probably of all time.

    Sometimes you need to put down the charts and actually watch the game.

    Comment by Buster — July 24, 2011 @ 4:26 pm

  97. Apologize for the typos. As a retired accountant, just remember the old adage about “figures don’t lie, bit liars figue.”

    Too often, non-fans get caught up in newer stats like WAR, which I still think is bogus. Others, like WHIP, are very meaningful.

    Bottom line, trust what you see. Vizquel was the best defender I’ve ever seen.

    Comment by Buster — July 24, 2011 @ 4:31 pm

  98. I’ve been thinking he would be a good anti-juice candidate.

    He never was connected to it, and when he got old/hurt, he didn’t recover and keep playing (with the aid of the needle).

    You couldn’t say he had roid rage, cuz he was like that all the time and still is!

    Joey Belle!

    Keepin it clean!

    Comment by shthar — July 24, 2011 @ 5:08 pm

  99. HERETIC!


    Comment by shthar — July 24, 2011 @ 5:10 pm

  100. Brian,

    Latest DRA estimates (developed since Wizardry came out) suggest that Belanger was approximately +250 runs, Ozzie Smith approximately +200 runs, Rey Sanchez approximately +190 runs, Adam Everett about +130 runs, Garry Templeton about +140 runs, Barry Larkin about +120 runs.

    Omar Vizquel was a fine fielder with two or three seasons as a top flight fielder; the rest of the time he just avoided errors.

    Comment by Michael Humphreys — July 24, 2011 @ 5:44 pm

  101. Buster,

    I would suggest reading Bill James’ essay from his first 1977 Abstract regarding visible versus invisible range. Excerpts are available at

    Comment by Michael Humphreys — July 24, 2011 @ 5:48 pm

  102. Good call. Nobody here watches baseball and you are not condescending at all.

    Comment by Hone — July 24, 2011 @ 5:55 pm

  103. I saw Aparicio play and most of Ozzie Smith’s career. (I actually met him once too when he visited a Navy Hospital in San Diego, I was surprised at how small he was in person) Anyway, I only saw Vizquel when he played for my Giants, and he was a great shortstop then, really seemed to make a difference in the
    overall defense. He wasn’t much of a hitter, so the HOF seesm a stretch, but he could really pick it, seemingly better than anyone in the NL at that time and he was already in his mid 30’s. Doman HOF? – No, Lofton HOF – No, Andruw Jones HOF – no way.

    Comment by Hurtlocker — July 25, 2011 @ 9:59 am

  104. Thome hands down is in. 600 without the needles. He once said all I he eats is eggs and meat. He’s a lock. Vizquel was one of the best I ever watched. A classic defender with a very decent bat. Where would Alomar be without Vizquel. Those two were just crazy together. His stats are great from a hitting standpoint. He is listed at 5-9, and probally about 5-7. Your not going to get 500 HR’s from a guy that small. Any questions about the stick? Well look at Ozzie Smith’s bat. I’ll take Vizquel.

    Comment by Johnny — July 25, 2011 @ 11:45 am

  105. If you assume that steroids and other PED’s helped the batters who used them to put up better offensive statistics, then you can come to the conclusion that Vizquel’s WAR (assuming he was clean, of course) was hurt by those who used PED’s. WAR (obviously) is based on a player’s value above replacement. A bunch of hitters in MLB and the minors basically raised replacement level (at least the hitting aspect of it). Since the level for average and replacement players was raised, it means it hurts clean players to compare them to the average/replacement level.

    I’m not arguing that Vizquel should be in the HOF. He had a very nice, very long career. But playing during the crazy-offense of the 90’s hurts a light-hitting SS both from a perspective position and from a statistical position.

    Comment by mymrbig — July 25, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

  106. The morals or good guy argument is far down the list of reasons to include or exclude a player, and maybe only serves to push one to one side of the fence or the other. I think the fact that Ty Cobb was an absolute hateful a-hole doesn’t matter because he was so good at hitting it was a no-brainer.

    Comment by Trotter76 — July 25, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

  107. Applying all those graphs and numbers to your case is not relevant….to the position he played nor to the great teams he played on….I wonder how many times you saw Omar play…he is a certain HOFer.

    Comment by Tom Keane — July 25, 2011 @ 4:43 pm

  108. As for the idea that being a “good guy” helps your chances of making the HOF, tell that to Dale Murphy.

    Comment by MC2 — July 25, 2011 @ 11:45 pm

  109. Interesting. I’m most surprised at the glove work from Everett.

    Vizquel’s JAWS score isn’t coming close and I’m most surprised to see his FRAA is all over the map. Major variance well into the red and black.

    However, my father loves him.

    Comment by bkmoyer — July 26, 2011 @ 3:10 pm

  110. Holy crap, Omar Vizquel was playing professional baseball in nineteen eighty freaking FOUR!

    Comment by sopcod — July 26, 2011 @ 8:33 pm

  111. I agree with your post, Matt. This may have been brought up already but:

    “Vizquel had some good seasons, and has lasted a long time, but I don’t really think “accumulation” is enough for the Hall.”

    there was a post on here by RJ a few months ago arguing for Mark Buehrle in the hall. I’d say he falls somewhat in the Vizquel category of a decent guy who played for a long time and accumulated a lot of above-average seasons, but no real major peak. As with Vizquel, he has one season with >6WAR (2005, 6.3WAR), and will probably finish his career with an average WAR/season of 4-ish and 50-some WAR overall. For me, and I’m a pretty big Buehrle fan, that’s not a hall of famer.

    Comment by Felonius_Monk — July 27, 2011 @ 8:01 am

  112. The reason why Ricky was not unanimous is because that Ruth wasn’t unanimous so writers refuse to make anyone else unanimous HOF first ballot.

    Comment by BoSoxFanA — August 5, 2011 @ 2:26 am

  113. I agree with you 100%.

    Comment by Gord — November 3, 2011 @ 1:31 am

  114. If Omar hangs around and gets 3000 hits ……. his defense seems to look better ……if he gets 2975, He’s not in? Omar played during the heyday of AL Shortstops…..A-Rod, Nomar, Jeter, and Tejada were all exceptional hitters, especially for the position. Therefore it was tough for Omar to make All-star teams….granted the arguement for Ozzie is potent….but compare Omar to other HoF SSs like Aparicio, Rizzuto, Reese, Maranville. I’m usually not one of these guys who like compilers that hang around a long time. But let me ask you how many SSs in the history of the game were better defensive players than Omar. Shouldn’t defense count a little more for the SS position than WAR stats? Just think about it.

    Comment by Jim Co — January 24, 2012 @ 10:29 am

  115. The crazy thing is that he was quite the decent fielder as an Indian and Philly. Even acquitted himself decently at third.

    Comment by AA — August 14, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

  116. That the Dodgers gave Juan Pierre all that money when Lofton was still better and they just needed a place holder for Kemp anyway is criminal

    Comment by AA — August 14, 2013 @ 5:04 pm

  117. Late to this article, but was looking over Omar’s defense WAR and other defensive metrics, and they are not what I expected to see. Anyone who saw the man play in the 90’s on a nightly basis knows about the wow factor Omar brought and the Sportscenter highlights on a nightly basis. So was very surprised that the defensive metrics don’t match up.

    Comment by Fran — April 21, 2015 @ 12:32 am

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