Bernie Williams, Post Season and the Hall of Fame

The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will release its list of  soon-to-be inductees on Monday. Some discussion has focused on Bernie Williams and how much his postseason performance should count towards his hall candidacy. I’ll look at a simple way to add postseason plate-appearances into a player’s career WAR.

Of all the candidates eligible for the hall of fame in 2012, Williams had the most postseason plate appearances — and by a large margin. He had 545 of them, which is more than twice as many as any other hall-eligible player. Javy Lopez is second with 225, and Fred McGriff comes in at 218. Impressively, 141 of Williams’ 545 plate appearances came during the World Series. For reference, Williams’ World Series total is nearly three times as many as  Mark McGwire, who had 53.

The extra PAs should lend some extra weight when determining if Williams gets into the hall of fame — especially when you consider that his postseason plate appearances amount to nearly an entire additional season.

To get a weighting of postseason games, I calculated all the hitters’ lifetime WAR, per 650 PA. It would have been too complicated to figure out the postseason stats, adjust them for the difficulty of the postseason play and then determine a true WAR. By using this simple method, I assumed that a player’s postseason production would be reasonably close to what they accomplished during the regular season. Williams’ production was actually very similar in that he had a regular season triple-slash of .297/.381/.477 and postseason triple-slash of .275/.371/.480.

With the WAR/650 calculated, I multiplied it times the hitter’s post season PAs. Since the postseason PAs are more important than the ones during the regular season, I added a weighting to those plate appearances. I doubled the WAR for all postseason games, and I also created another value that gave World Series games a weight of four times a regular season game. Other postseason games got a two-times weighting. Here are the results:

Name WAR WAR/650 1x 1x Total 2 times 2x Total 2x & 4x 2x & 4x total PS PA WS
Jeff Bagwell 83.9 5.8 1.1 85.0 2.3 86.2 2.5 86.4 129 10
Rafael Palmeiro 74.3 4.0 0.6 74.9 1.1 75.4 1.1 75.4 91 0
Larry Walker 73.2 5.9 1.1 74.3 2.2 75.4 2.5 75.7 121 17
Tim Raines 70.9 4.4 1.0 71.9 1.9 72.8 2.2 73.1 142 16
Barry Larkin 70.6 5.1 0.6 71.2 1.2 71.8 1.5 72.1 78 17
Mark McGwire 70.6 6.0 1.4 72.0 2.8 73.4 3.8 74.4 151 53
Edgar Martinez 69.9 5.2 1.2 71.1 2.4 72.3 2.4 72.3 148 0
Alan Trammell 69.5 4.8 0.4 69.9 0.9 70.4 1.1 70.6 58 18
Fred McGriff 61.0 3.9 1.3 62.3 2.6 63.6 3.2 64.2 218 52
Bernie Williams 47.5 3.4 2.9 50.4 5.7 53.2 7.2 54.7 545 141
Dale Murphy 47.3 3.4 0.1 47.4 0.1 47.4 0.1 47.4 11 0
Don Mattingly 45.8 3.9 0.1 45.9 0.3 46.1 0.3 46.1 25 0
Juan Gonzalez 38.6 3.5 0.4 39.0 0.7 39.3 0.7 39.3 66 0
Tim Salmon 36.7 3.4 0.4 37.1 0.7 37.4 1.0 37.7 68 31
Brian Jordan 33.8 3.9 0.9 34.7 1.8 35.6 2.0 35.8 154 17
Javy Lopez 33.6 3.8 1.3 34.9 2.6 36.2 3.1 36.7 225 44
Jeromy Burnitz 27.9 2.8 0.0 27.9 0.0 27.9 0.0 27.9 0 0
Bill Mueller 25.6 3.4 0.8 26.4 1.7 27.3 1.9 27.5 160 18
Eric Young 23.5 2.2 0.1 23.6 0.2 23.7 0.2 23.7 24 0
Vinny Castilla 23.0 2.0 0.2 23.2 0.4 23.4 0.4 23.4 66 0
Ruben Sierra 18.0 1.3 0.2 18.2 0.4 18.4 0.5 18.5 105 5
Phil Nevin 17.4 2.4 0.0 17.4 0.0 17.4 0.0 17.4 3 0
Tony Womack 4.3 0.5 0.1 4.4 0.3 4.6 0.3 4.6 167 47

Initially, Williams was 10th overall in WAR among hitters. He’s grouped closely with Don Mattingly and Dale Murphy. And they’re behind Fred McGriff by more than 12 WAR.

Williams had the most postseason WAR of any player. Mark McGwire was next with about half of Williams’ WAR production. McGwire made up some ground on all the games Williams played by having a higher career WAR/650 (6.0 vs. 3.4). After adding a weighted amount of postseason WAR to Williams’ career total, it still wasn’t enough to get his WAR value into the hall of fame.

Certainly, Williams had an impressive career. But even with all those postseason appearances, his career falls short of getting his name enshrined in Cooperstown.




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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

77 Responses to “Bernie Williams, Post Season and the Hall of Fame”

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  1. noseeum says:

    I appreciate the effort on this, but I’m sorry, it kind of reads like this: “Hey, I don’t think Bernie Williams should be in the Hall of Fame, but here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to create a complete arbitrary evaluation system where he falls short. And then I’m going to tell you he falls short.”

    Again, I like the exercise, but you’re asking us to buy into this evaluation system without explaining why we should. For instance, why double WAR for playoffs and quadruple for WS? Why not 4X and 8X?

    It’s typical, and completely fair, to look at the team results in postseason play when determining bonus credit for HOF consideration. To drill postseason play down to a pure WAR bonus seems to ignore the entire reason for crediting players for the postseason. Bernie should get credit for being a key cog, and at times the best player, on an historic dynasty that won many rings.

    To say, “each player gets rewarded a certain amount of WAR for each postseason at bat,” regardless of what happens in that postseason seems to completely miss the forest for the trees.

    Honestly, if Bernie has the same amount of at bats and had zero World Series rings instead of four, do you think the same bonus should apply?

    Yes, I know his rings have no bearing on his skill. But they have a huge bearing on his FAME.

    Back to the drawing board I say!

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    • Travis L says:

      “Honestly, if Bernie has the same amount of at bats and had zero World Series rings instead of four, do you think the same bonus should apply?”

      Absolutely, assuming that his performance was constant. Do you think a team’s position in the standings should be included in a player’s MVP performance?

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      • noseeum says:

        “Do you think a team’s position in the standings should be included in a player’s MVP performance?”

        I don’t see how the two are the same. MVP is most value player. Hall of Fame means a lot of different things. Being an important member of an historic team is meaningful for hall of fame and meaningless for MVP.

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    • Donny Zimmer says:

      Welcome to Fangraphs: Where baseball nerds find complex ways to rationalize their biases.

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  2. Mr Punch says:

    This is a perfectly good argument, but it does not get at why Williams would almost certainly have been elected under “traditional” standards. That argument goes like this: Bernie Williams starred for four world championship teams; in fact, he was clearly the best hitter on three of those teams, and a close second (to a first-ballot Hall of Famer) on the fourth; and he was considered an excellent fielder early in his career. Star players of dynasty teams used to be no-brainer choices, and there are good reasons for that too.

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  3. Dscott says:

    I still think it’s moronic to induct someone based of their postseason play. This incorporates to many factors outside of the players control, your looking at a small sample size of data, just because the game is more important, and your looking at which players were lucky enough to have good players around them. Doesn’t make you one of the best in baseball, just because your surrounded by greatness, and you may have gotten lucky in the few playoff plate appearances that you had.

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    • noseeum says:

      Someone could be lucky for an entire career. Luck plays a factor in everything in baseball.

      Yes, of course some mediocre player who happens to win a world series MVP should not be considered for the Hall, but a guy on the bubble, I see no reason why postseason success can’t push him over the edge. It’s a small part of the equation, but it’s still a valid part.

      The Hall of Fame is a museum, not just a list of great players. A player of historic significance for whatever reason deserves consideration, i.e. Roger Maris and Curt Flood.

      Bernie, I’m not so sure, but I do think it would be strange for the Yankees dynasty to only have two hall of famers, Jeter and Mo. That would seem to be under-representation for such a successful team. Personally, I think Posada deserves it too.

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    • Brian says:

      I think it’s wise to include Postseason in the consideration when looking at Borderline players. Bernie doesn’t even come close though to me.

      My mom always said that it’s better to be lucky than good. And I kind of agree. If you can luck your way into a world series winning hit for my team, i don’t give a fuck if you’re any good. You shoot right to the top of my personal favorite players list.

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    • Robbie G. says:

      I agree that this approach is flawed and that we should just stick to evaluating players based on regular season performance. Unfortunately, HOF voters are going to look at postseason performance, especially during the current age when we are (unfortunately) completely obsessed with postseason performance almost exclusively. Heisman Trophy candidates are almost exclusively QBs and RBs for teams that are in the top five, even where there are obviously superior QBs and RBs who play for non-top five programs. [And I realize that this year's winner is an exception to this rule.] ESPN.com had a weekly “MVP Watch” this NFL season that ranked the top ten MVP candidates and the individual putting together these rankings was looking at players on playoff-bound teams almost exclusively, which explains Joe Flacco’s presence on his top ten list (never mind that Joe Flacco is probably not one of the fifty best players in the NFL). Lebron James has very obviously been the best individual player in the NBA for a number of years yet he has won very few MVP awards (only two).

      I’m worried that Bernie Williams is going to get into the Hall of Fame. He was a very good player but his statistics simply do not support a HOF candidacy. If he gets in, it will only be because he had the incredible fortune to play for the late 1990s-early 2000s New York Yankees dynasty (which is clearly one of the top five or ten dynasties in MLB history). Never mind that he had no control over either the fact that he was a Yankee or the fact that his Yankee career very opportunistically occurred during a time period when the Yankees were a total powerhouse organization. And never mind that he had multiple OF peers who were superior yet did not happen to play for these Yankee teams. The idea that the Yankees would not have been at least as good if not better had Williams been traded very early in his career for, say, Jim Edmonds or Kenny Lofton is idiotic; therefore, to vote in Williams but not Edmonds or Lofton is idiotic. [For what it's worth, however: if Williams gets voted in, the arguments for Edmonds and Lofton become even stronger, and thus their odds of getting in improve fairly dramatically.]

      And yes, I do realize that HOF voters are either oblivious to WAR or are not looking at WAR exclusively (nor should they), but to get an idea of where Williams stacks up against his OF peers, here are the top OFs from 1982-2001 (i.e., the past 30 years), according to Fangraphs WAR:

      1 Barry Bonds 168.2 WAR
      2 Rickey Henderson 99.3 WAR (remember, this is 1982-2001, so I am ignoring pre-1982 stats for the sake of this analysis)
      3 Ken Griffey, Jr. 83.9 WAR
      4 Larry Walker 73.2 WAR
      5 Andruw Jones 71.7 WAR
      6 Manny Ramirez 69.7 WAR
      7 Tony Gwynn 67.9 WAR
      8 Jim Edmonds 67.7 WAR
      9 Tim Raines 67.0 WAR
      10 Gary Sheffield 66.7 WAR
      11 Kenny Lofton 66.3 WAR
      12 Sammy Sosa 64.0 WAR
      13 Bobby Abreu 62.6 WAR
      14 Carlos Beltran 61.7 WAR
      15 Vladimir Guerrero 60.0 WAR
      16 Luis Gonzalez 59.4 WAR
      17 Brian Giles 59.2 WAR
      18 Ichiro Suzuki 53.0 WAR
      19 Mike Cameron 52.6 WAR
      20 Moises Alou 51.8 WAR
      21 Robin Yount 50.1 WAR
      22 Kirby Puckett 49.4 WAR
      23 Ellis Burks 48.2 WAR
      24 J.D. Drew 47.6 WAR
      25 Bernie Williams 47.5 WAR
      26 Devon White 46.0 WAR
      27 Johnny Damon 46.0 WAR
      28 Jose Canseco 45.9 WAR
      29 Brett Butler 45.6 WAR
      30 Steve Finley 44.3 WAR

      When your WAR total is closer to Devon White, Jose Canseco, Brett Butler, and Steve Finley than it is to Mike Cameron and Moises Alou (not to mention slightly below Ellis Burks and J.D. Drew), do you have any business in the Hall of Fame? Obviously not.

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      • Brian says:

        i agree with you that due to sample size, the regular season tells you much more about which players are most talented at the sport.

        But wouldn’t you agree that the general focus (not hall of fame focus) is on the playoffs because the playoffs are so much more important to a fan than the regular season? In fact, the only reason most of us care whether or not our team does well in the regular season is because that’s how you GET to the postseason, no?

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      • Robbie G. says:

        Sorry, that should read 1982-2011, not 1982-2001.

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      • Robbie G. says:

        “But wouldn’t you agree that the general focus (not hall of fame focus) is on the playoffs because the playoffs are so much more important to a fan than the regular season?”

        All a player can do is to go out there and play as well as he possibly can, to make the best possible contribution to his team. If he happens to play for a team that has a number of other players that are making strong positive contributions, then his team probably makes the playoffs, so good for him. But he has no control over how good his teammates are, or how well-managed his team is; therefore, he should not be rewarded for either a) the fact that his team made the postseason or b) how well he performs in the postseason. If we reward a Bernie Williams for accumulating postseason statistics then we are ultimately punishing players who happen to play for poorly managed (as in front office management, not on-the-field management, obviously) and/or unlucky teams. It’s kind of the same thing as rewarding a pitcher for wins and punishing him for losses; a pitcher has zero control over how many runs his team’s offense puts on the board or how well his defense plays behind him.

        In other words, I would evaluate a player’s performance based on regular season statistics and a team’s performance based on whether or not it made it to the postseason as well as how well it performed in the postseason. Two different things.

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      • John DiFool says:

        [Replying to Robbie G's long post-I hate the way threads format on this site]

        Of course your analysis hinges on one core assumption: that the defensive numbers that go into the various WAR’s floating around out there tell the whole story on the glove side of the ball.

        You also compared him to _all_ (recent) outfielders, when you really should be comparing him to centerfielders only. I suspect that the voters are committing the same fallacy, which is why his projected vote total may not even reach the 5% mark (as per preliminary partial ballots).

        So, only taking at look at him vs. CFers on your list, I’ll just do the offensive side of WAR first (from BBRef, just because I prefer how they format their data):

        Junior 80.9
        Jim Edmonds 59.4
        Bernie 59.3
        Brett Butler 55.6
        Kenny Lofton 53.8
        Carlos Beltran 53.6
        Johnny Damon 51.4
        Kirby Puckett 36.6
        Steve Finley 42.5
        Mike Cameron 37.1
        Andrew Jones 36.5
        Devon White 27.8

        This of course assumes that there are no glaring statistical illusions at work on the offensive side. Bernie is in a virtual tie with Jim Edmonds for 2nd, which is pretty darned good.

        But of course the real difference lies on defense. I’ll say this and I’ll make it as clear as I can: the notion that Andruw Jones was worth 35 wins more with the glove than Bernie Williams simply does not pass the smell test, at all. That (roughly) equates to 350 runs (if +10 runs = 1 win), which probably represents over 500 more hits dropping in (plus 200 or so more bases allowed on the basepaths). I’m just not anywhere near certain that our current defensive metrics can justify such a yawning gap, and thus I am not committed to casually junking his candidacy overboard on this point like you are.

        The strange thing is, the voters can look at the base (traditional) components that make up WAR and see just how good Bernie was with the bat. Combine that with playing a key defensive position for a dynasty, and his current lack of support is puzzling; I doubt many voters have delved into the defensive side of things and pronounced him a rotten fielder. Very odd.

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        • AA says:

          The idea that Andruw Jones was worth 35 wins more than Bernie Williams with the glove absolutely passes the smell test.

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      • Robbie G. says:

        John DiFool:

        WAR accounts for positional value so it’s fine to compare him to all other OFs. All other position players, period, really. But you may be right about the reliability (or lack thereof) of current defensive metrics. I guess I did not quite realize how significantly current defensive metrics (or those being used by Fangraphs) impacted Bernie’s (or any player deemed to be unusually good or bad as a fielder) WAR total. Hmm.

        I still say that Bernie Williams is not HOF material but I suppose I may have underrated his candidacy. I do think that he’s going to hit that 5% mark.

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      • i dont think so says:

        That list is considerably shorter when you factor in performance enhancing drugs.

        and also you have to consider other things WAR does not take into account. for example, JD DREW has a tiny edge on WAR. But I don’t know anyone who would take Drews career over Bernie Williams. I don’t care what any metric states, or that he hit well and fielded well when he played- he has averaged 370 PA per year since his rookie year, and thats embarrassing.

        Kirby Puckett is also ahead of Williams in WAR by about 2 WAR, and is in the hall of fame- a first ballot nonetheless. And you cannot deny Puckett’s post-season success as well as his early departure from baseball affected his hall of fame candidacy.

        I’d also like to mention that from 1995 to 2002 Bernie Williams was the best center fielder in baseball, a claim that can only be argued by Kenny Lofton. And within that timespan, he ranked 13th in total WAR. If we subject players who used PEDs (Bonds, Rodriguez, Sosa, Pudge, Manny) and Larry Walker for the sake of his home ballpark, Bernie Williams was an elite player in baseball. A hall-of-fame player in baseball.

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      • regulate says:

        griffey was the best CF in baseball from 1995-2002.

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      • i dont think so says:

        yes regulate, you are correct. I misread the WAR readings- clearly Griffey was on top. I don’t know why I said Lofton.

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      • Hooligan says:

        Bernie is one of the main reasons why 1990-2000 is on your top 5 dynasties in MLB. He was their captain and singlehandedly won some post season games for them. I don’t appreciate that you say he just “lucked out” and was on the team like he was just riding the bench all those years and got handed 4 rings. Give the man his due.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      You realize that we’re not talking about inducting Tom Lawless, Kurt Bevaqua, or Tito Landrum into the HoF, right?

      Bernie Williams had a very good career. Both rWAR and fWAR have him at 47 WAR. Not a HoF career on its own (IMO).

      However, he also has …

      5-Time AS
      4-Gold Gloves
      6-World Series
      4-WS Titles

      Looking at the “standards” at Baseball-reference, he’s closer than you might think (or closer than I would have given him credit for).

      The “idea” is that a very good regular season career + excellent post-season career might equal Hall of Fame.

      What happens in post-season matters, even it it’s not always (or ever) a measure of true talent. It happened. It counts (just as lucky BABIP seasons do).

      How can you discuss Kirk Gibson’s career and contributions to baseball and history without discussion his crucial home runs in 1984 and 1988? That doesn’t mean he gets into the HoF based on that, but more goes into the HoF than WAR and regular season performance.

      I think playoffs definitely factored into Mazeroski’s HoF inclusion (and perhaps shouldn’t have), and I also think they factored into Kirby Puckett’s enshrinement … and might also help Andruw Jones.

      IMHO, even with the post-season added, I don;t think Williams’s career is strong enough to warrant enshrinement to the HoF, but it would be irresponsible IMO to ignore his post-season contributions … especially when he has a full season’s worth of post-season PAs and was a key member of a team that went to 6 WS and won 4.

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  4. gabriel says:

    One point unconnected to the post-season: with over 70 WAR, how can anyone justify not electing Larry Walker to the HOF? 4th-best outfielder over the past 30 years is a pretty strong recommendation.

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    • Brian says:

      To me you need at least around 75 WAR to be a lock. 70 WAR is merely borderline to me.

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      • Robbie G. says:

        Just so everybody can see, here is the complete list of HOF-eligible position players with 70 or more WAR (Fangraphs WAR) who are not in the HOF:

        1 Pete Rose 91.5 WAR
        2 Jeff Bagwell 83.9 WAR
        3 Bill Dahlen 80.0 WAR
        4 Lou Whitaker 74.3 WAR
        5 Rafael Palmeiro 74.2 WAR
        6 Bobby Grich 74.1 WAR
        7 Sherry Magee 74.1 WAR
        8 Larry Walker 73.2 WAR
        9 Graig Nettles 71.8 WAR
        10 Reggie Smith 71.8 WAR
        11 Dwight Evans 71.4 WAR
        12 Tim Raines 70.8 WAR
        13 Joe Torre 70.8 WAR
        14 Mark McGwire 70.6 WAR
        15 Barry Larkin 70.6 WAR

        Pete Rose is not in because of his gambling. Jeff Bagwell got punished in Year One of his candidacy for perceived steroid use but he is going to get in within 2-3 years, I believe. Palmeiro is being punished for steroid use and especially for his infamous testimony in front of Congress. McGwire is presently being punished for steroid use but, in my opinion, will be forgiven in a few years by HOF voters because he is perceived to be “sorry” (bizarre!). Larkin is presumably going to be voted in this Monday. Let’s leave all of these guys off of this list, then, since these guys are all either a) going to get in or b) not going to get in for “morality” reasons rather than baseball reasons. Here’s the revised list of 70+ WAR position players who are HOF eligible:

        1 Bill Dahlen 80.0 WAR
        2 Lou Whitaker 74.3 WAR
        3 Bobby Grich 74.1 WAR
        4 Sherry Magee 74.1 WAR
        5 Larry Walker 73.2 WAR
        6 Graig Nettles 71.8 WAR
        7 Reggie Smith 71.8 WAR
        8 Dwight Evans 71.4 WAR
        9 Tim Raines 70.8 WAR
        10 Joe Torre 70.8 WAR

        This is an awfully short list. Take a look at all of the position players with less than 70 career WAR. It is a huge list that I’m not going to set forth here because it would take too long. Obviously, we should look at things besides WAR; I just put this list together just for the hell of it.

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    • JWO says:

      He earned his WAR at Coors. Not saying he is unworthy, but the criticism is his numbers are artificially inflated by thin air.

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  5. Sammy says:

    Phil RIzzuto laughs in the face of any WAR argument for Dyanstic Yankees Hall of Famers.

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  6. Player A: .318/.360/.477, 122 wRC+, .365 wOBA, 49.4 WAR, 2 World Series rings. First ballot hall of famer.

    Player B: .297/.381/.477, 125 wRC+, .371 wOBA, 47.5 WAR, 4 World Series rings. Probably won’t make it passed the first year.

    Player A – Kirby Puckett.
    Player B – Bernie Williams.

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    • Brian says:

      Nice comparison but what’s your conclusion? Bernie should be in or Kirby shouldn’t be?

      My personal opinion is the latter.

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      • jim says:

        kirby most assuredly has no business in the hall, but if he’s in, and he is, and williams is a better candidate, and he is, and doesn’t get it, that’s retarded

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      • Brian says:

        Gotta disagree with you Jim. To me the solution to the inclusion of non-deserving members being in the hall is not to add more non-deserving members, even if their numbers are comparable or better. You just acknowledge the mistake and move on. That’s my position anyway.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        1. I agree with you.

        2. I disagree with others that a bad decision means we have to keep making the same bad decision over and over.

        There are some downright undeserving players in the HoF, especially form the first half of the 20th century.

        More recently we have Jim Rice. Rather than just use Jim Rice as the new “floor” of the HoF and electing everyone from Luis Gonzalez to Bobby Bonds, I’d rather just say that a 56 WAR player like Rice making the HoF is a mistake.

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    • BlackOps says:

      Kirby’s HoF candidacy clearly benefited from him being forced to retire early, but he also had 1200 less PA than Bernie.

      And good for Bernie that he got four rings. Not sure what it has to do with the hall, unless you’re making the sportswriters’ argument for them. Still, if you want to put that in there, might as well do it completely:

      Puckett AS appearances: 10
      Williams AS appearances: 5
      Puckett GG: 6
      Williams GG: 4
      Puckett SS: 6
      Williams SS: 1

      Puckett played in 12 seasons, Williams in 16.

      Also, I guarantee Williams makes it past the first ballot. He probably deserves it. If it was up to me though, nobody would make it to the second year. You’re either in or you’re out.

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      • jim says:

        “but he also had 1200 less PA than Bernie.”
        …but bernie’s last ~2000 PA are negative value

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      • BlackOps says:

        Then he should have retired. Knowing how the writers vote, if you want to get in, maybe a player should “strategically retire” thanks to the Kirby Puckett case.

        I agree, this is as dumb as it could get.

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      • BlackOps says:

        But voting Bernie in, last 2000 PAs or not, would be dumb. He seems like a prototypical “Hall of Very Good” guy. He should be remembered, but not as one of the best players ever.

        “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.”

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      • Brian says:

        Bernie should be inducted into the Yankees hall of fame, but that’s about it.

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      • Bob R. says:

        I don’t agree with your last statement, “You’re either in or you’re out.”

        Many factors may keep someone out the first time. And by remaining on the ballot, it allows for the discussion to continue. It also allows for new information and new forms of analysis to contribute to the discussion.

        Listening to some voters discuss their selections and why they now leave off someone they initially voted for, or now support a candidate they at first nixed, is cause for optimism. It demonstrates that people are swayed by new information and by rational argument.

        It is instructive to look back at the “no doubters” who did not make it on the first ballot. Among them are Yogi Berra, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Carl Hubbell, Mickey Cochrane. I don’t think the HOF makes much sense without those players as well as many others who missed on the first try.

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      • BlackOps says:

        It makes sense to give the writers 5 years or so – except that they already get that before a player is eligible. I’d say most of us can look at a player’s accomplishments and statistics and decide in 5-10 minutes whether or not he’s worthy. A player’s candidacy does not change after he retires.

        I’m just not sure what new information could be learned. Unless you’re talking about steroids, but they keep those players out regardless of proof or any information present anyway.

        I mean, what was different about last year for Blyleven than the previous 19 years? Nothing changed, if writers need that long to “come around” then they clearly shouldn’t be voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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    • AA says:

      Puckett was a significantly better defensive player and had his career cut 5 years short.

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  7. AndrewYF says:

    If Jim Rice (career WAR of 41, using the insanely more accurate bWAR) gets in with minimal postseason production, how could anyone argue that leaving out Bernie Williams makes any sense whatsoever?

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  8. jim says:

    given that in the postseason as it’s currently formatted, you need to win 10 games to win the world series, wouldn’t the marginal value of a win be far greater, and make the utilizing of a regular-season style WAR conversation essentially irrelevant?

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    • vivalajeter says:

      Isn’t that what the author did? He doubled the first two series’ by 2 and doubled the WS by 4, thereby giving them much more value than the regular season games.

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  9. Tim says:

    all that list tells me is that Lou Whitaker was the worst hose job in HOF voting history, one and done off the ballot….and when Larkin gets in at 70.6 WAR and Trammel at 69.5 WAR never sniffs 30% of the vote, well, there ya go….Tiger fans shouldn’t be charged admission at the HOF for eternity…not even gonna bring up Bill Freehan…..

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  10. After reading the views, I found it laughable that some of all ya all only want to gauge a career based on regular season’s accomplishments. Are you kidding me? Post-season WAR may as well be multiplied by 10.

    Coming in, I not only wouldn’t have thought Bernie would get any serious consideration, because he was not the normal dominating-type player that we like to see make it. Ron Santo goes in because he put great numbers up for years, and he like his several, HOF teammates could not get a sniff of the WS.

    After reading this, Bernie is certainly worthy – he was not merely lucky enough to have tasted the fruits as many times that he did. He made material, probably critical contributions to each of those championship teams, as I recall. So his WAR was not as high as some wish for it to have been, and will now sully the HOF if he is included? You have to be kidding. He fits just fine. He was most definitely more than very good and was recognized as such by all who were fortunate enough to see him play.

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    • JWO says:

      I don’t have a problem using post-season accomplishments. I think the voters already look at them in an unofficial way. Everyone always talks about Jack Morris and that ten inning pitchers gem, for example. The challenge is developing a system that is consistent and fair to all positions, as well as those players from inferior teams. Very, very difficult.

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  11. shthar says:

    Does everything on this website have to be about WAR?

    It’s like it was written in 1930s russia.

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  12. SpikeSchwartz says:

    Since post-season appearances are almost completely team dependent, it’s almost meaningless that a player (in this case Bernie) played so many games in the post-season. Of course, those Yankee teams made the post-season in large part due to his performances but we’re already considering that on his regular season resume.

    My view is that post-season appearances are neutral but if a player was a standout in his post-season career then that should hold some weight. Fact is that while Bernie did well in the playoffs against his AL opponents in 89 games with an OPS above his career regular season mark, he was pretty awful in 32 WS games with a .677 OPS. So overall, I wouldn’t add anything to his HOF case with that post-season record.

    That said, I think a very good case could be made for BW to get in. The guy had a great career with an OPS over .900 seven straight years and a career OPS+ of 125.

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  13. Brian says:

    Solidly gets my no doubt about it vote for the Hall of Very Good.

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  14. Alan says:

    Post-seasons performance should be considered, but to my mind only as a function of how much better the player was than his regular-season standard.

    Here’s my thought process: The purpose of a HOF induction discussion is to compare players and see who’s best. The best way to do that is to you regular season as a baseline — after all, we know even the best players in baseball can’t take a team to the playoffs by themselves. We shouldn’t give Bernie Williams or Paul O’Neil or Shane Spencer a bonus for being a Yankee or punish Tony Gwynn for being a Padre.

    But Post-Season performance should count. It happened and a player should get credit for it. But how much isn’t even the first question I’d answer. The most important thing to do it in a manner in which I still feel I’m fairly comparing the player to players who never got the same opportunity.

    To do that, I’d make an assumption. It might be a bad one, but it’s reasonable and I’m making it nonetheless– over time, the player without a real opportunity would perform in the playoffs as they had in the regular season.

    Now, I’ve already compared these players in terms of their regular seasons. And I’m assuming one’s playoff performance as equal to their regular season. So really what I’m curious about are the players who overperformed in the playoffs relative to their regular seasons performance. Those are the ones I give the boost.

    If they performed equal to their regular season, I’m assuming the other player without playoff performance (or as much) would have been about equal to their regular seasons work, so I can just compare regular seasons.

    If they performed worse, I’m inclined to ignore it because of sample size unless the sample is huge.

    If they performed better, I’d include it as a fairly big boost.

    But the methodology above rewards PAs more than anything in the playoffs — and it would get worse if you increased the arbitrary multiplier. This is a HOF discussion — the using a AAA player as your Next Best Alternative here when the opportunity for playing time is different isn’t right.

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    • noseeum says:

      “Here’s my thought process: The purpose of a HOF induction discussion is to compare players and see who’s best.”

      That is not the purpose of the Hall of Fame. Here is the text of a ballot:
      “”Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”

      Why would you limit the hall of fame to simply a list of players that meet some minimum talent/production criteria? The sport is far too interesting to reduce to something so blah. I agree, if you reach a certain level of skill and production, you are a shoe-in. But to not leave the window open for contributions to the history of such an amazing game based on something other than pure production is to make the game smaller than it is IMO.

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      • Alan says:

        I never get this argument at all.

        There’s a whole museum to the HOF that details the history of the game that doesn’t involve induction.

        You can have a gigantic exhibit on Bernie Williams and how sparkly he was without inducting him.

        To be honest, I am somewhat ambivalent on Williams either way, but I don’t think players should get additional WARP credit when comparing for merely being in the post-season. Because it is replacement-based, a player can under-perform int he playoffs, but be there a lot and if you’re multiplying it by a large number — someone suggested x10 in this thread! — that player would get massive credit for playing under their own standard in the playoffs.

        I would never make the HOF a formula, but at the same time I think you completely missed the point of my post. You want to put post-season success in, I’m all for that. But I’m not going to give Bernie massive credit if his post-season advantage is that his teammates were better than other players. He needs to be better.

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  15. ChrisFromBothell says:

    Postseason stats should already get baked into someone’s career totals. If you want to use postseason performance as a tiebreaker, I suggest evaluating their stats in high leverage situations. Gets away from stretching and contorting WAR past what iit is meant for. More importantly, it more precisely measures the contribution someone makes in the postseason – as close as one will get to that dreaded “clutch” that sabermetricians scoff at. ;)

    Heroes of the postseason are the ones who come through with go-ahead or winning runs, or strand people at the right time, or otherwise don’t let the pressure distract them. If their stats in high leverage situations are greater than or equal to their season or career line, then their postseason contribution means something. (Yes, something might also need to very minorly factor in cases where, e.g., Pujols single-handedly provides the offense for an entire postseason game. But not by much.)

    Don’t measure WAR or rings; measure grace under pressure. :)

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  16. Cisco says:

    To me a very fair comparison for Bernie is Carlos Beltran.

    Even as an agonizing Met fan who rooted for the guy passionately, Carlos isn’t a HoFer…

    …and Carlos’ numbers are comparable/surpass Bernie’s.

    As for the rings, those have more to do with luck than anything – from a player perspective at least

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    • BlackOps says:

      They’re very similar hitters, but Beltran does everything else much better than Bernie ever did. Carlos is clearly the better player and may have a few solidly above average seasons left. If Bernie’s only argument for the Hall is his postseason performance, well, Carlos still beats him.

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  17. kick me in the GO NATS says:

    I would argue that Reggie Jackson made the Hall of Fame mostly on his being “Mr. October”. Postseason has always mattered in the past and I think should matter for HOF induction in the future, but no where near as much as the past.

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    • BronxBaumer says:

      Reggie was also an All Star 14 times. And he retired as, I think, number 6 on the all-time homerun list. So Reggie was getting into the Hall of Fame whether or not he won those two World Series MVPs. The fact that he did win them made his case all that more airtight, but I think it would be wrong to say he was inducted “mostly” for his postseason rep.

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    • Eric R says:

      Nope– I think it was the HRs. In 1993, when he was voted in, these were the HR leaders among HoF elidigible players who were not voted in:

      Dave Kingman 442
      Frank Howard 382
      Tony Perez 379
      Orlando Cepeda 379
      Norm Cash 377
      Rocky Colavito 374
      Gil Hodges 370

      At the time, Dave Kingman was the only player with more than 382 career home runs, not to be elected– and that was the right call given the weakness of the rest of his game [did not hit for average, did not walk a lot, didn't steal bases, didn't have much non-HR power, struck out a lot, wasn't a good fielder, didn't play a premium position, wasn't a notable post-season performer, etc].

      Reggie Jackson isn’t a HoFer for post-season play. He’s a HoFer because he retired with the sixth most HRs in MLB history while being a pretty decent player otherwise as well…

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      I would argue that Reggie Jackson made the Hall of Fame mostly on his being “Mr. October”.

      Would you really?

      A few points …

      - Okay, his post-season performance is pretty impressive … and he was on 4 WS winning teams. Now, that’s out of the way …

      - As an A in his 1st 8 seasons, he accumulated 43.5 WAR. TAHT’s Reggie Jackson, not the guy in pinstripes fighting with Billy Martin. It kills me that Jackson is known as a “Yankee”, even though he was BY FAR better player in OAK (and for longer time) and won as many titles in OAK as he did in NYY.

      Top 5 MVP 5 X’s.

      WAR leader 3 X’s.

      On and on.

      He has 75 career WAR and you’re selecting only post-season as the reason why he’s in the HoF?

      If I were to argue against Reggie in the HoF, I would start by saying that he’s in the HoF because he has 563 home runs.

      I would counter that by saying that in his last 7 years he totaled 3.4 WAR as a regular player. In other words, he was a little above replacement level during those years. However, during those same 7 years he hit 138 home runs.

      So, basically he was a replacement level player playing to move up the home run list … if one wanted to look at it like that.

      A point could be made that he was basically a “home run accumulator” to get into the 500 club and move up the list as far as he could. basically, he took 7 seasons to put up the same WAR Jim Thome puts up (as a 40/41yo) in 2 partial seasons.

      But, really with 80 fWAR and 75 rWAR, he’s a lock HoF’er … post-season or not. Considering that he only added 3.4 WAR over the last 7 years of his career, really shows how dominant the other 14 were.

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  18. Antonio Bananas says:

    So basically Bernie Williams is the Jack Morris of position players. Known more for being a pretty good player on great teams. In other words, no, he’s not a hall of famer. For an idea of how “lol, no” he is, Williams including the ridiculous Postseason weights (mostly counting from a lot of appearances he lucked out on laying in an era wiht more rouds and on a dynasty team, not like he was a historically good post season player), his 47.5 WAR is about the same as Barry Bonds 2001-2004. IMO, if you have to really do an in depth analysis to try to convince yourself or anyone else of a player, they aren’t HOF.

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  19. Antonio Bananas says:

    I kinda want to see how many WAR Chipper Jones would have in his career total using this, considering he already has almost twice what Bernie had. Just a ridiculous idea to put Bernie in the hall IMO. Should we just throw in any player witha bunch of rings who was above average?

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    • AndrewYF says:

      I mean, they threw in a player with zero rings who was just above average, so…

      I’m thinking Bernie gets in on the last ballot. But it’ll surely be more deserved than many others in the HOF. It’s not really a ridiculous proposition.

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    • John DiFool says:

      See my above comment, where Bernie has the 2nd best (tied for 2nd) offensive WAR among all CFers of the past 20 years. Bernie only becomes a “ridiculous” choice once you try to factor in his defense-maybe. If he was just a bit above average defensively would you then support him?

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        Prince Fielder would be an amazing offensive center fielder too. Being “one of the best hitters at a premium defensive position over a period of 20 years” isn’t hall of fame to me. If Bernie Williams didn’t need an article to support him and people just went “yea, hall of famer” then I’d support him. Andruw Jones is one of the best fielding Centerfielders of all time. “of all time”. Not just of the decade, but Jones had historically great defense. Andruw Jones 1998-2006 (B-R) 34 Offensive WAR, 21.3 Defensive War. That’s Jones’ prime was pretty awesome. Yet most people don’t see him as a hall of famer. I don’t. Williams, his prime 1994-2002 50.4 Offensive WAR, -6.8 Defensive WAR. Even if you correct Williams’ WAR to 0 on the defensive side, they’re still about the same. Williams was a very good hitter, not historically great, but very good, and a bad defender at a premium defense position. Jones had a historical ability and was an all around better player, had some pretty good offensive numbers as well.

        When you compare Williams relatively, he’s not a hall of famer. He’s “very good” and he just so happened to play on a great team. If Andruw Jones is drafted by the Yankees, is he a hall of famer?

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  20. Jason says:

    I really dislike these WAR-based HOF articles. They are so formulaic and simplistic:

    1) Sort by career WAR.
    2) Establish an arbitrary WAR threshold.
    3) Declare that Scott Rolen is a HOFer (even though we all know he isn’t).

    The HOF will be ruined if the voters start to use WAR thresholds as this site advocates. Let’s just make a Hall of WAR and leave the Hall of Fame alone.

    ….that said, Bernie Williams was my favorite player after Mattingly retired. To me he doesn’t feel like a Hall of Fame Yankees center fielder. Dimaggio, Mantle, Bernie? However, he absolutely would not be the worst HOF inductee. Bernie was the best position player on one of the greatest teams in history. He was also was one of the nicest people in the game and respected by all.

    It might be interesting to quantify how Bernie stacks up to the other great switch hitters in baseball history. My guess is that he would hold his own.

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