If You Vote for Surhoff and Tino, You Have to Vote for Everyone

The Twitterverse was aflutter Tuesday with mention of ESPN news editor Barry Stanton’s Hall of Fame ballot. Stanton did not vote for either of the eventual inductees, and he was the only ESPN voter not to select Roberto Alomar, but he wasn’t entirely stingy with his ballot. He voted for five players: Jack Morris, Edgar Martinez, Tino Martinez, Don Mattingly, and B.J. Surhoff. While the individual picks may be hard to understand at first blush, his vote for Edgar Martinez is hard for a Fangraphs blogger to complain about, and it made me want to play devil’s advocate and justify the other players on the ballot.

After a number of bloggers and others called for Stanton to respond, he appeared in ESPN’s Hall of Fame Live chat on Wednesday to offer explanations for his picks. The bulk of his response was spent giving the background on his vote for Surhoff, a player he admits was “very good (though not great),” because he had watched Surhoff develop from a promising 12-year old to a major league star, and it was in honor of a promise he gave the teenaged Surhoff that some day he would vote for him.

The Surhoff story is touching, but what about the other four?

Votes for Mattingly and Tino Martinez would have to be predicated on peak value. These were two fine Yankee first basemen who in their prime were among the best players in the American League. Tino gets the dynasty vote, which has a long tradition in the Hall of Fame, going back to the days when many of the regulars on Ned Hanlon’s Baltimore Orioles and John McGraw’s Giants got inducted into the Hall by association with their championships.

Tino wasn’t the heart and soul of the World Champion Yankees in the way that Donnie Baseball was the heart of the ’80s Yankees — but Tino batted fifth for a team that won four rings, and dynasties like that tend to get a lot of people into the Hall. Tino might be less deserving than Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, and Paul O’Neill, but he was a major contributor to the dynasty and to the ’98 Yankees, possibly the best American League team of the last half-century.

Mattingly didn’t get to the World Series, but he was a better player, and his 1985 MVP and 1986 runner-up finish provide a convincing argument that he was seen as the league’s best player for a couple of years. (In 1986, Mattingly was the top vote-getter among position players, as Roger Clemens won the award.) He did nearly all of his damage in his first five full seasons, but they were brilliant, and he is one of the iconic stars of one of the iconic franchises. Legends have been made on such stuff — like Jim Rice, for instance.

This is Big Hall logic, supporting the election of star players who fall short of elite status but who would not be out of place in the Hall of High Pockets Kelly and Freddie Lindstrom. (In that Hall of Fame, though, as Tim Marchman notes, Kevin Brown would be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, not a first-ballot dropoff.)

The cases for and against Jack Morris have spilled more virtual ink than virtually anything else that has ever happened in human history, but leaving Bert Blyleven aside for a moment, it’s worth remembering that Morris was a good pitcher for a long time. This is a slightly outlandish comparison, but you could think of him as the Don Sutton of the ’80s. Morris’s 3.90 ERA is much more unsightly than Sutton’s 3.26, but that’s mostly due to park and era effects — Don Sutton came up during the unparalleled pitcher’s era of the late 1960s and pitched most of his career in Chavez Ravine, one of the most extreme pitcher’s parks of all time.

Yes, Sutton was a better pitcher, both by traditional and advanced metrics, but using the traditional lingo, both Morris and Sutton were basic “compilers” who never won a Cy Young Award but pitched long and well. And though Morris’s 1992 World Series was awful, his performances in 1984 and 1991 were sublime. (Remember, in the 1984 World Series, he pitched two complete games, allowing just four earned runs; they won the series in five games.) Of course, Morris might be less deserving than Kirby Puckett, Dave Winfield, Roberto Alomar, Alan Trammell, and Lou Whitaker, but he was a major contributor to the Tigers and Twins and a deserving recipient of the Jays’ ring as well.

Edgar Martinez is hardly the most controversial of Stanton’s picks, as he received more votes than all but Morris, but he’s the only player among the five on the ballot that many statheads would support. Regardless of whether you think he deserves to be in the Hall, I probably don’t need to convince most of you of Edgar’s merits. But in addition to Edgar’s jawdropping rate stats, for better or for worse, he’s also perceived as being one of the era’s clean players, never having surfaced in any of the myriad rumors swirling around Jose Canseco’s books and the Mitchell Report. A vote for Edgar is not just a vote for the greatest DH of all time, it’s a vote for clean living.

Of course, if one followed the letter of the logic of the arguments given above, one would need to vote for a lot more players. Like Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy was a franchise icon with a short peak, and he’s also a paragon of clean living. Dave Parker was another franchise icon with a short peak, and his mid-’80s redemption from cocaine addiction is a story that could be celebrated just as well as scorned.

And other players were just as great yet had longer peaks. Larry Walker is arguably the greatest Colorado Rockie, so it’s hard to exclude him. (Todd Helton has had a longer career with the team, but Walker had a better career overall.) Roberto Alomar is probably the greatest position player in the history of the Blue Jays. Barry Larkin is the greatest Red since the Machine. Fred McGriff probably took the torch as the best first baseman in the AL after Mattingly passed it on, so he’d warrant a vote too. Tim Raines is the greatest Expo other than Gary Carter, so he’d warrant a vote — though he struggled with the same banned substance that plagued Parker. Jeff Bagwell is not just the greatest Astro ever, he is probably the fourth-best first baseman of all time.

If Morris was a good compiler, Bert Blyleven was a better compiler — every single one of his stats is better, with the exception of the number of championship rings on his fingers. And if Edgar Martinez is deserving despite having played most of his career as a Designated Hitter, then you must view the back of the bullpen as an equally valid place from which to build a Hall of Fame resume. And so two of the greatest compiler-closers ever, Lee Smith and John Franco, would deserve your vote as well. (Of course, Smith and Franco’s analogue on the other side of the bench may be Lenny Harris, the ultimate compiler of pinch hitters.)

That’s not to mention any of the possibly deserving players whose names have been more firmly attached to performance-enhancing drugs: Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, and Kevin Brown, not to mention Juan Gonzalez, who after all has more MVP awards than Don Mattingly.

In fact, to vote for Jack Morris, Don Mattingly, Tino Martinez, Edgar Martinez, and B.J. Surhoff would require you to vote for virtually every player on the ballot.




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Alex is a writer for FanGraphs and The Hardball Times, and is a product manager for The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @alexremington.


69 Responses to “If You Vote for Surhoff and Tino, You Have to Vote for Everyone”

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  1. Locke says:

    (couple unclosed HTML tags up there)

    I was happy to hear Stanton give a heartfelt response regarding BJ, and the more I really think about it, the more I am OK with that vote. If I were a voter, I’d want to through around a sentimental, purely inconsequential vote once in a while, too. No issues at all with it.

    Then he dropped this gem “Same with Jack Morris, who is a better pitcher than Blyleven was.” And I was really disappointed. I’m not saying you have to love Blyleven, or even think he’s better than Morris, but you just get the feeling that Stanton doesn’t respect the power he’s given. He doesn’t take the responsibility to truly understand the greateness of these players. Voting on sentiment and feeling is fine, but not when you ignore the greatness of other players for whom you have no sentiment in your heart.

    If I could, I’d take his vote away. Not because I think he’s dumb, or wrong, or I disagree with him – but because he’s doesn’t respect the responsibility that he’s so privileged to have.

    Sorry, Barry.

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  2. Did Murphy really have a short peak? I count his peak at eight seasons, 1980-87, during which time he went 284/374/517/140 OPS+, with seven AS games, five GGs at an up-the-middle position, and two MVPs with three other top twelve finishes. HOFer to me.

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    • It’s true; Murphy’s seven-to-eight year peak wouldn’t be too out of line with other HOF players. As others have pointed out (Mac Thomason, Joe Posnanski), the trouble with him is that he has almost no off-peak good seasons. He pretty much fell off a cliff and that was it.

      Locke, thanks for spotting the bad HTML, should be fixed now.

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      • Locke says:

        No worries. Good piece, too. But I do think it’s worth noting there is (in my opinion) some room for sentiment and votes for players who may not necessarily meet all criteria, when done judiciously and with respect for the rest of the players and the Hall itself.

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      • dte421 says:

        Alex, you apply that logic to Murphy, you have to do the same with Edgar. Edgar had a very nice 9 year peak, with one other excellent season, and one other good season. To me, those years, coupled with the fact that he didn’t play the field for the 9 peak years kind of cancel out and make him similar to Dale Murphy.

        His triple slash, impressive as it is, does not make him a HOF’er in my book. He couldn’t steal bases, he didn’t play the field, and so you have to hold those against him.

        In regards to the PED thing, what amazes me is how I’m already reading that a player like Piazza (with absolutely no evidence against him) will be considered suspect, while another player like Edgar (again with absolutely no evidence against him), who’s peak started at the shockingly late age of 32 and lasted until 40, is 100 percent assumed clean.

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      • Dte, I don’t disagree with you, and I’m not sure I’d vote for Edgar, for that exact reason. But I think he’s docked too much by some writers who appear unwilling to vote for ANY designated hitter. Similarly, I think you’re right about the PED thing. It’s strange that Edgar and Piazza have attracted such different reactions, and probably unfair to both.

        On the other hand, I think that if you vote for Mattingly, you HAVE to vote for Edgar Martinez.

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      • dte421 says:

        Were in total agreement there Alex. Wasn’t debating the point of your piece, which I thought was spot on – was more giving even more reason why I am not on the Edgar for the Hall train. Mattingly does have that whole “one of the best defensive 1B of all time thing going”, but the extremely short peak balances him out with Edgar for me.

        My issue with the whole “writers who won’t vote for a DH” faction is this: How is it now ok to vote for closers, but not ok to vote for DH’s? I’m not sure I’ll ever understand the logic there. I think we will see a DH get in, but it will have to be a guy who puts up astronomical numbers in the traditional counting stats. Think Ortiz from ’03-’07 minus the PED’s, and for a longer period of time. I think that’s how far it will have to go for the voters to wake up.

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      • jordan says:

        dte 421: piazza was named in “The Rocket that Fell to Earth”. Nothing conclusive, just allegations. But his name has been linked, and specifically his back acne, which cleared up when testing began in earnest.

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      • dte421 says:

        ha jordan, come on. The “evidence” in The Rocket That Fell to Earth was a guy that never even played with Piazza (nevermind on the same team, but never even in the same league) saying that Piazza was a juicer in defending his former teammate Clemens.

        The bacne thing is just stupid, and based on something written by perhaps the most spiteful and hardheaded baseball writer that ever lived. Oh, and back acne = steroids is just insane to begin with.

        You’re right though, obviously Piazza has been “named”.

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      • Wally says:

        Well with Edgar really did maintain his peak longer than Murphy. Murphy just really didn’t have a 7-8 year peak. Only if you go chronologically, bridging a gap and giving him a little credit on the edges for more or less average seasons, can you get to 7-8 seasons. Edgar, on the other hand, had 9 seasons at rough 5 WAR or above, and two more at roughly 4. Then one season in the middle there he was injured. The other was the strike.

        And if you’re for giving people a little extra credit for what ever other things, he was wrongly held in AAA far too long. Immediately after being given a full time job he posted almost 6 WAR. Its not unreasonable to think just given deserved playing time in his mid-20’s, he would have added another 10 WAR to his career.

        Martinez is pretty much a slam dunk for me, while Dale Murphy is not particularly close. Basically for me anything high-60’s and above in rWAR I don’t think requires much thought, with 70 and above being completely automatic (which I think Edgar would have attained if allowed to play his age 25 and 26 seasons), low-60’s maybe questionable, 50’s and below you’re kinda out without some sort of other compelling reason to consider.

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      • Wally says:

        Oh god, not the b-acne thing again.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        To me, the Piazza PED has to do with 3 things:

        [1] The era
        [2] His size
        [3] It’s the only way people can reconcile that a guy that was a courtesy draft pick had a Hall of Fame career.

        When it comes to guys like Bagwell, Piazza, etc, I think there’s reason enough to believe it if you really want to, and there’s not not enough reason if you want to be objective, and there’s no reason if you want to believe that there’s no way they used PEDs.

        Any late bloomer or player that far surpassed his prospect prjection during the steroid era is going to have their performance chalked up to PEDs. For some, if he is muscular, and/or hit for power, it’s going to be an “obvious conclusion”.

        I had never really considered bagwell to be a strong PED candidate, but I certainly see how people could think that given his career path and physique change.

        I think Edgar Martinez fits the profile for a PED candidate. While his career path is not an automatic user piece, it certainly could be used, along with the era, to raise suspicion.

        I don;t think the sabermetric-friendly stats of a player should really factor into a player’s suspected PED use or not, but I think most definitely happens with Edgar.

        I agree with others that PED use is punishable by a 50-game suspension. So, at worst, that is the equivalent punishment they could receive at worst (if proven they used). Not being considered for the HoF is more along the lines of “lifetime ban” type stuff.

        Now, the head of the Congressional Committee is saying that they have concluded that Palmeiro could be telling the truth about thinking Tejada gave him a B-12 shot. Not that it matters, he’s already been charged and convicted in the court of public opinion.

        At this point, it’s like a priest trying to defend himself against a molestation accusation. “Sure, you didn’t”. No amount of evidence will ever be enough. A retraction of the accusation would probably be met with accusations of paying off the kids family or bribing someone.

        Interesting that Palmeiro’s positive test was at the very end of his career … a 3K hit 500 HR career. I say interesting because the writers are already making comments about Bonds and Clemens being “Hall of Famers” before their steroid use started. Wouldn’t the same thing be true of Palmeiro?

        That seems pretty weak to me. The writers are willing to take a stand on PED users, but looks like they’ll relax that stand when Rocket and Barry Balco are on the ballot. Be consistent fellas.

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      • mowill says:

        If not for anabolic steroids Clemens would have been out of baseball by ’99-00 instead of winning rings with the Yankees. He is not a HOFer.

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      • Steve says:

        If not for anabolic steroids Clemens would have been out of baseball by ’99-00 instead of winning rings with the Yankees. He is not a HOFer

        Are you implying that Clemens’ career up to 2000 was no Hall worthy?

        Even if we assume Clemens started juicing in 1997 and he would have suffered a steady decline from 1997-2000, he’d still be a Hall of Famer.

        Do you really think it’s the 2 rings in NY that put Clemens over the top for the Hall? Were you born in 1995?

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      • bill says:

        Roger Clemens had already accumulated over 86 WAR by 1997… as much as we might dislike him, the guy was one of the greatest pitchers of all time. Even if we assume he was fading in 1997, he still probably gets over 100 WAR and ends up one of the best post WWII pitchers.

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  3. Stan says:

    I enjoyed that analysis and I think its right. Throwing out the wrong-headed nostalgia that led him to vote for Surhoff, the votes for Mattingly, Tino, Morris and Edgar can really only be explained by a general lack of baseball knowledge since there was a better candidate in each category that he overlooked. I can only guess that Stanton is the type of fan who really only watches a handful of games each year and reads only a handful of articles and these four guys happened to be featured in the games/ articles which he read.

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    • Jason B says:

      “the votes for Mattingly, Tino, Morris and Edgar can really only be explained by a general lack of baseball knowledge”

      I would vote for Edgar and consider myself to be at least somewhat knowledgeable about the game. *emo sad face*

      [Also, I think something of a reasonable case can be made for Morris, and has been, by some ‘knowledgeable baseball people’, even though I wouldn’t make it myself. You just need to be a “big hall” type and should pretty readily concede that Bert had a superior case.]

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  4. Bronnt says:

    It’s pretty much unjustifiable…Roberto Alomar was a better hitter than Tino Martinez, with a reputation of a great glove at second base. You can’t vote for Tino, leave Alomar off, and be taken seriously regarding the voting process-even if you let him have his BJ Surhoff vote, which was rather harmless.

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  5. Steve says:

    I hope the next time I do something inexplicably dumb*, someone takes the time to craft such a well-written and intelligent response.

    * – the Surhoff vote is fine. Voters do that from time to time, even with the back end of their MVP votes, it’s generally harmless. The rest of his ballot is just dumb.

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  6. Jay says:

    Can anyone justify Mattingly being on the ballot 11 times now while John Olerud and Will Clark got voted off the first time around?

    Mattingly .307/.358/.471, 13 seasons, 2,153 hits, 222 HRs, 1099 RBI
    Olerud .295/.398/.465, 7,592 ABs, 2,239 hits, 255 HRs, 1,230 RBI
    Clark .303/.384/.497 7,173 ABs, 2,176 hits, 284 HRs, 1205 RBI

    I’m not staying Olerud and Clark should be in the Hall of Fame, but rather that the only real difference between the three in terms of why they get the votes they do is that Mattingly played in the media center of the country while the other two did not…

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    • Jay says:

      I meant to change out Mattingly’s seasons and put in 7,003 ABs for him…

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    • Bernard says:

      The difference between Mattingly and the other two is the very strong perception that if Mattingly had never injured his back, he would be a clear first ballot Hall of Famer. There’s a reasonable case to be made that Mattingly was the best player in the game from 1984-1987 and maybe through ’89 as well.

      I don’t think there was ever a particular time that Olerud or Clark were reasonably considered the best player in baseball (though Clark was pretty damn great from ’87-’91, the peak is probably a bit lesser than Mattingly’s).

      I definitely think Dale Murphy is a much closer career comparison (Clark and Olerud outWAR him too).

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    • dte421 says:

      That’s a pretty poor comparison because you use career stats to manipulate the picture. Mattingly’s AVERAGE season from ’84-’87 was far far better than any single season Clark or Olerud ever had. It’s not a media bias, it’s that for an extended period of time, Mattingly was the best player in baseball, period. Clark and Olerud were never even the best in the game at their own position. That’s why people talk about Mattingly so much more.

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    • Wally says:

      John Olerud might be the most under-rated person in history: http://www.fangraphs.com/graphsw.aspx?playerid2=1093&playerid3=1008261&playerid4=1002318&playerid5=1009355

      I don’t think he’s a HOFer, but he is damn close.

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    • vivalajeter says:

      FYI, Olerud played in NY for a few seasons.

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  7. BikerBill says:

    I assume your best first basemen are Gehrig, Foxx, and Pujols?

    Wargraphs make your point seem reasonable, though I remember Frank Thomas and McGwire both being ahead of Bagwell….not to mention maybe Greenberg and Killebrew though I never saw them play. I guess Bagwell probably played better defense than both Thomas and Mac so I accept your statement…just curious if those are the guys you had in front of him.

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    • Yep, Gehrig, Foxx, and Pujols — though that isn’t really my assertion so much as something I’m quoting from recent writing about Bagwell by Mac Thomason, Joe Posnanski, and Rob Neyer.

      Here’s a link to a WARgraphs page comparing Bagwell, McGwire, Thomas, and Killebrew. The cumulative WAR by age graph is telling: Thomas was ahead of Bagwell’s pace till age 30, at which point Thomas fell off and Bagwell continued his fine work.

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  8. Love the writeup Alex.

    Like others here, I really have no problem with the Surhoff vote after hearing his reasoning. One vote for sentimental reasons doesn’t really hurt anything.

    I’ll even let him slide on the Morris vs. Blyleven thing. I don’t personally agree with it, but at least he addressed it and has some argument why he thinks Morris is better (although it’s not data driven).

    However, the burning question for this guy is: “How can you vote for Tino and Mattingly but not Alomar?” I see no logical argument possible for this. Alomar is clearly superior in every category you can come up with. Also, the “it doesn’t matter” argument doesn’t apply here, because Alomar missed by a slim margin last year and Martinez and Mattingly are fighting to stay on the ballot. Those votes matter.

    Unless he goes public with any kind of logical argument for this, I would totally be in favor for stripping him of his vote. Having the privilege to vote for the HOF is a big deal, and he’s either not taking it seriously, trying to draw attention to himself, or completely incompetent.

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  9. Brownie19 says:

    First off – dte421 you must be a Yanks fan if you think the season Olerud had in 1993 (.363/.473/.599 8.4 WAR) was not better than ANY season that Don Mattingley ever had – let alone his average season from ’84-’87. Don’s best year was ’86 (.352/.394/.573 7.7 WAR)

    Not to mention that Olerud also had another 8.4 WAR season in ’98. You can have all the counting stats you want.

    With that out of the way – whoever the heck is in charge of deciding who has a vote needs to investigate this? As someone else said – it seems that someone thinks the HOF vote is a joke. He clearly doesn’t take his responsiblity seriously. It’s embarrassing – it makes it seem that every Tom, Dick & Harry is given a vote…

    I’m ok with voting for BJ for the reason he explained…but to leave Alomar off his ballot while voting for Tino Martinez is just wrong. Voting for Tino over McGriff is just wrong

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    • John says:

      I have used the Olerud/Mattingly comparison w/ a number of Yankees fans when arguing with them. No matter what you say, they won’t let facts get in the way of their opinions.

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    • dte421 says:

      I’m actually a Met fan who truly appreciated John Olerud, and I def did overlook the ’93 season he had. However as someone who watched nearly every game Olerud played in 1998, his 8.4 WAR is ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS, because it’s so heavily weighted by his defense. No 1B should ever be worth nearly 2 full wins on defense to begin with, and trust me, Olerud’s defense in 1998 was not something remarkable and truly memorable, no matter what the advanced metrics say.

      While we’re on the subject of positions, let me point out to you that ignoring counting stats when talking about Hall of Fame qualities in a 1B is pretty insane, when you consider that of the five 1B in the Hall who’s careers started after 1940 none have less than the 379 HR that both Cepeda and Perez share (Olerud had 255), and only Cepeda’s 1365 RBI are even close to where Olerud finished. Counting stats are EXTREMELY important to voters when looking at Hall of Fame 1B, whether you like it or not. The only Hall of Fame 1B even remotely comparable to Olerud is George Kelly (last full season 1929).

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      • John says:

        It isn’t that heavily weighted by his defense. His oWAR that season was 6.6, which is actually better than Mattingly’s 2nd best season. In fact if you want to ignore defense (although I don’t know that you should, I trust the advanced metrics more than your recollection and evaluation his defense over 10 years ago), their top 5 seasons by oWAR would be: Olerud 7.7 6.6 5.0 4.9 4.6 Mattingly 6.9 6.6 5.9 4.8 3.8. So even if you ignore defense, Olerud’s 5 year peak was greater than Mattingly.

        And I don’t think anyone is making the argument that Olerud SHOULD be in the HOF, simply that he is comparable to Mattingly and the fact that he was off the ballot in 1 season while Mattingly remains is rather ridiculous.

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      • John says:

        Sorry, typo there. Mattingly’s oWAR was 6.9 6.3 5.8 4.9 3.8

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      • Brownie19 says:

        I never said Olerud belonged in the HOF. I just said that it’s ignorant to sugguest that Mattingly’s aveage season from ’84 – ’87 was better than any season Olerud ever had.

        When I said “you can have the counting stats” – I meant was acknowledging that Mattingly’s counting stats in his career year were slightly higher than Olerud’s in his career year, even though Olerud’s slash line was better than Mattingly’s in all three categories.

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      • John says:

        Not sure why you should give Mattingly the counting stats.

        Olerud had more hits, more doubles, more HRs, more RBIs, and more runs than Mattingly (granted he played more games). Mattingly did actually have a higher BA and Slg than Olerud, but the big difference between the two players was that Olerud had nearly 700 more walks than Mattingly, he accumulated more than double Mattingly’s total for his career and it resulted in a 40 point advantage in OBP for Olerud.

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    • dte421 says:

      Just looking more closely at Olerud’s ’93 season… I can’t believe that he didn’t even finish with the most MVP votes on his own team. Wow.

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  10. Brian says:

    At the end of the day, it shouldn’t matter what one voter does. If a player is truly one of the very best of all time in terms of statistics, attitude, integrity, sportsmanship, and ability and performance, they are eventually going to make it onto enough ballots over a 15 year period. Have any of the top 20 eligible MLB players of all time in ALL of those categories, and yes, I mean the character ones as well, I mean every single of them, been left out of the hall yet? If not, I’d say the system is working incredibly well. If most of them have made it, it’s working pretty well.

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    • John says:

      This would be a great point, if it wasn’t empirically wrong.

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      • Brian says:

        Which part is empirically wrong?

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      • John says:

        Players who belong in the HOF have not made it. How about Ron Santo? Alan Trammell?

        Throw in the fact that while qualified players languish, inferior players end up admitted. So you end up w/ a guy like Jim Rice in the HOF when there are better players that won’t end up making it.

        One voter doesn’t matter, but when you have a whole lot of those “one voters” it becomes an issue. For the want of a nail…

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      • Brian says:

        Well wait a second, hold on here. Who said “Players who belong in the HoF that have not made it. First of all, let’s pretend for a second that such claims are factual and not opinion based. It isn’t what I said. I said top 20 eligible players. Are there any in your opinion that haven’t made the hall of fame?

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      • John says:

        I have no idea how you determine a top 20 player in all those categories. If you mean simply the 20 best players of all time and nothing else matters, then clearly that is a very low bar to clear. If fact, a HOF that admitted everybody would be a great success by that standards, as the top guys would all be included. The way to evaluate the HOF is not by looking at the top players, but looking at the worst players admitted and best that are denied entry and whether there is a sensible consistent reasoning to admit or exclude.

        But your one vote thing is empirically wrong. Deserving players are left out while those less deserving are admitted.

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      • Brian says:

        “I have no idea how you determine a top 20 player in all those categories. If you mean simply the 20 best players of all time and nothing else matters, then clearly that is a very low bar to clear. If fact, a HOF that admitted everybody would be a great success by that standards, as the top guys would all be included.”

        – Well I mean 20 best not just in baseball performance, but in baseball performance, + integrity + character + sportsmanship.

        “The way to evaluate the HOF is not by looking at the top players, but looking at the worst players admitted and best that are denied entry and whether there is a sensible consistent reasoning to admit or exclude.”
        Even though this is merely an opinion, it is one I happen to basically agree with. However, people can define best radically differently, because we aren’t just speaking about performance. We’re speaking about performance and those other things I mentioned. Not to mention that even if we were just speaking about performance, people rank performance in a variety of different ways. Not all sabermetricians agree with each other on everything, let alone sabermetricians and others.

        “But your one vote thing is empirically wrong. Deserving players are left out while those less deserving are admitted.”
        “Deserving players” is an and meaningless term. So let’s find a more rigid definition we can agree on if you want to argue that. Which is why I prefer “Top 20 players” and I’ll even grant you just top 20 players statistically, whatever that means, if you want to leave character etc. out of it for the sake of argument.

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      • John says:

        It doesn’t matter how you define it really, I am just saying that saying how you treat the top players, isn’t a good measure of the quality of the HOF. But bringing character into it just creates a mess in my opinion. How often do we truly know who these guys are? It seems a bit much to think that we have any real idea of the character of these players from watching them play. Back in the 80s didn’t OJ Simpson used to seem like a really nice guy?

        There are different measures you can look at when making your decision, it is fun and interesting to argue about these guys, that is why we are all here. But the idea that all opinions are created equally is not true. Everyone has a right to their opinion, but not everyone’s opinion is right. And if a guy is making his votes based upon opinions that are ridiculous, that person shouldn’t be voting for the HOF. You can’t use the reasoning that it is just one voter, because if you fail to apply standards to one voter, you fail to apply them to all voters. HOF voting has not been a resounding success and we have a number of guys who have been wrongly excluded and included as a result. You can say it is a matter of opinion, but it is opinion based upon objective fact.

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      • Brian says:

        It doesn’t matter how you define it really, I am just saying that saying how you treat the top players, isn’t a good measure of the quality of the HOF. But bringing character into it just creates a mess in my opinion. How often do we truly know who these guys are? It seems a bit much to think that we have any real idea of the character of these players from watching them play. Back in the 80s didn’t OJ Simpson used to seem like a really nice guy?”

        Sure, we don’t necessarily know their real character, but we know how the portray themselves and we know the facts we know. You think that makes it messy. I think it makes it more interesting and respectable. And neither of us have the right to a vote. : )

        “There are different measures you can look at when making your decision, it is fun and interesting to argue about these guys, that is why we are all here. But the idea that all opinions are created equally is not true. Everyone has a right to their opinion, but not everyone’s opinion is right. And if a guy is making his votes based upon opinions that are ridiculous, that person shouldn’t be voting for the HOF. You can’t use the reasoning that it is just one voter, because if you fail to apply standards to one voter, you fail to apply them to all voters. HOF voting has not been a resounding success and we have a number of guys who have been wrongly excluded and included as a result. You can say it is a matter of opinion, but it is opinion based upon objective fact.”

        I don’t think you’ve done anything here to prove that your opinion on who the deserving players are = objective fact, but I’m certainly interested in hearing such an argument.

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  11. Brian says:

    Well wait a second, hold on here. Who said “Players who belong in the HoF that have not made it. First of all, let’s pretend for a second that such claims are factual and not opinion based. It isn’t what I said. I said top 20 eligible players. Are there any in your opinion that haven’t made the hall of fame?

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    • jason461 says:

      Brian, the arguments you make here and above are relativistic. That is, you seem to be arguing that everyone’s opinion is equally valid, therefore there’s no point in discussing it. There are informed opinions and uninformed opinions.The point of all the discussion over this ballot is that it is mind-bogglingly uninformed… and there are LOTS of ballots that aren’t that different than this one. You can talk all you want about the top 20, but Larkin, Alomar, and Bagwell are all probably among the best 1/2 dozen players ever at their respective positions and this genius (and many others like him) didn’t see fit to vote for any of them.

      If you want to keep making this argument, go read the Posnanski post I’m linking at the end of this to see what happens when your line of thinking is carried to its conclusion.

      http://joeposnanski.blogspot.com/2011/01/willie-mays-hall-of-fame.html

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      • Brian says:

        jason461 says January 7, 2011 at 7:53 am

        jason461 says “Brian, the arguments you make here and above are relativistic. That is, you seem to be arguing that everyone’s opinion is equally valid, therefore there’s no point in discussing it.”

        That’s only what I seem to be arguing if you aren’t reading carefully or paying attention. What I actually am arguing is that some opinions might be better than others, but if you want *everyone* to accept that, you have to prove it.

        jason461 says: “There are informed opinions and uninformed opinions.”

        Agreed.

        jason461 says: “The point of all the discussion over this ballot is that it is mind-bogglingly uninformed… ”

        Maybe, maybe not. Maybe you could prove this, but my point is that it’s just one ballot.

        jason461 says: “and there are LOTS of ballots that aren’t that different than this one. You can talk all you want about the top 20, but Larkin, Alomar, and Bagwell are all probably among the best 1/2 dozen players ever at their respective positions and this genius (and many others like him) didn’t see fit to vote for any of them.”

        But you stating a mere opinion here – that being one of the best 1/2 dozen players at a position *even if it’s true* makes one hall of fame worthy. And that is just a mere opinion, unless you can prove it’s a better opinion than “only the best 4 players at a particular position are hall worthy” or “only players who were never caught cheating are hall worthy.” I would like to see you factually prove that these are inferior opinions than yours, but as one who has spent significant time studying logic, I don’t think you’ll be able to. But I’ll be impressed if you do.

        “If you want to keep making this argument, go read the Posnanski post I’m linking at the end of this to see what happens when your line of thinking is carried to its conclusion. http://joeposnanski.blogspot.com/2011/01/willie-mays-hall-of-fame.html

        I’m not sure which line of thinking you’re referring to. My belief that if the 20 all time greatest elligible players in terms of stats and performance, integrity, sportsmanship, character as a baseball player are in the hall, then the hall is functioning well? Not really – my line of logic would require 20 players. Joe’s falls short by 20.

        (I do love Joe btw I just disagree with him here).

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      • jason461 says:

        Three things:

        1. As long as you bring character in the equation, determining a top 20 is impossible. Character is highly subjective and, when looking at previous selections, it is clear the voters only utilize this aspect when it suits them.That is why I linked you to the Poz article.

        2. Being in the top half-dozen at your position (in terms of performance since that is the only standard applied with any kind of consistency by the voters) meets with the historic standards of the hall and then some (I could easily argue top dozen, but I wanted to be very clear.

        3. At this point, it is not at all clear what your argument is. In order for it to be clear, you would have to state which players you feel belong in the top 20, but then we can start having arguments about integrity (since you think it’s important) and whether pre-integration players can really be considered as good as post-integration or even post-internationalization players, but you haven’t done that which, frankly, makes you seem like some odd, fangraphs version of a concern troll.

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      • Brian says:

        jason461 says:”Three things:1. As long as you bring character in the equation, determining a top 20 is impossible. Character is highly subjective and, when looking at previous selections, it is clear the voters only utilize this aspect when it suits them.That is why I linked you to the Poz article.”

        Well, determining a completely objective top 20 is impossible, but that doesn’t mean a lot of people won’t agree. In fact, one could easily imagine 75% of baseball fans agreeing that Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, and Lou Gehrig are three of the greatest in all of those categories. It may not be objective, but it’s not the hall of objectivity and was never intended to be. That’s why instead of a computer, they have individual voters vote. Subjectivity is not only allowed, but encouraged. And when enough subjects agree (75%+), that’s the standard.

        jason461 says: “2. Being in the top half-dozen at your position (in terms of performance since that is the only standard applied with any kind of consistency by the voters) meets with the historic standards of the hall and then some (I could easily argue top dozen, but I wanted to be very clear.”

        But there’s nothing in the voter guide, and no a priori reason I can think of, why those standards can’t be changed. Maybe they were too tough. Maybe they were too lax. And each voter can decide that for herself.

        jason461 says:”3. At this point, it is not at all clear what your argument is. In order for it to be clear, you would have to state which players you feel belong in the top 20, but then we can start having arguments about integrity (since you think it’s important) and whether pre-integration players can really be considered as good as post-integration or even post-internationalization players, but you haven’t done that which, frankly, makes you seem like some odd, fangraphs version of a concern troll.”

        I’ve made a whole bunch of points I think, but I guess the one that started it all was that one voter’s ballot doesn’t matter, because if a player is truly perceived as an all time great by most people, one or two voters aren’t going to keep someone out of the hall. In fact, it will take more than 25% of the voters to keep someone out of the hall.

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  12. Jonathan C says:

    brian, the biggest glaring example for statistical production not being in the hall would be and he’s top 20 in my book, Shoeless Joe Jackson.
    Also if we’re talking production, the all time hit king is also not in as well.

    Not that there isn’t a reason their not in the hall

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  13. Danny says:

    As a Jays fan, I’ve always remembered how great Olerud was during the 1993 season. However, I had completely forgotten how great his 1998 season was with the Mets (the same 8.4 WAR both years).

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  14. mowill says:

    Edgar Martinez was better than 99.9% of all hitters in MLB history at not making an out when he stepped up to the plate.

    Look it up, its true.

    When you are that elite I don’t see how you can’t be a HOFer, DH or not.

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    • bill says:

      I suspect Edgar Martinez will be the next Blyleven case (so we all have something to talk about in the offseason), though I see Martinez as a little more borderline.

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    • dte421 says:

      That’s such a poor argument. Using OBP as a sole qualifier for Hall of Fame consideration is just as bad as using batting average or HR.

      I really like the Dale Murphy comparison Alex made, especially when you add in the fact that Murphy played an up the middle defensive position. However there is something else that hasn’t been mentioned about Murphy, and I brought this up with someone else as well – at some point you HAVE to factor in how stacked the Seattle lineups were that Edgar hit in. Whether it be hitting with Griffey, A-Rod, Buhner in the 90’s or Ichiro, juiced up Boone, and Mike Cameron. The best players Murphy played with in his peak were Bob Horner at his worst, Glenn Hubbard, and Claudell Washington. That’s gotta matter at some point.

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  15. mowill says:

    Guys who are not in the Hall and are not on the ballot anymore who would be one or the other had they been lifelong Yanks/Sox.

    Dick “Richie” Allen
    Bobby Grich
    Ron Santo
    Lou Whitaker

    Also Trammell is at 25% with five years left so we’ll probably be able to add him to this list as well.

    Jim freakin Rice? Really?

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  16. lookatthathat says:

    I had an excellent dream the other night. In it, I saw the world from on high as everything went as it should. I got glasses in 2nd grade instead of 4th grade, which made me a better student. I got contacts in 8th grade instead of never, which made me more popular ealier in my life. I played baseball through high school instead of giving it up for track and cross country. As a late bloomer, I was 6’2″ 150 pounds as an 18 year old, yet by 2007, I weighed 180 pounds, due to a semi-heavy lifting regimen. Instead of hitting 47 home runs in 2007 during a slow pitch softball league, I hit 35 in the minor leagues, made it to the majors as a center fielder, and had a Hall of Fame career. In that dream, Don Mattingly also didn’t hurt his back, and remained a first ballot Hall of Fame player his whole career. Can we put me in the Hall too?

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  17. Hurtlocker says:

    If you want to look at HOF’s that had short careers just look at Ralph Kiner and Hack Wilson. Both had 4-6 years of greatness at best, were very one dimensional players and would not be in the HOF by today’s standards.

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    • dte421 says:

      Um, Kiner led the NL in HR 7 years in a row, and had an 8th good season in his 8th year, and another nice season in his 10th season. He was also very good at getting on base, period. Kiner was probably the most feared hitter in the NL for 8 years from ’46-’53. That’s pretty damn good.

      Hack Wilson… you have a point there.

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  18. Derek says:

    To the idiot named Rogower who frequently posts nonsense on this site ascribing racial motives to HOF voters, media, and baseball management:

    There is a reason why Sheffield is the only guy in MLB history with 500 homers who has played on eight different teams, and the reason has nothing to do with race:

    http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/01/06/sheffield-disrespected-by-rays-now-99-9-retired/

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  19. Joe R says:

    I give Barry Stanton credit. While most others would just write their convoluted reasoning in an article and hide in their hole for the next 364 days, Stanton gave readers an opportunity to actually question his brain matter.

    I mean I still don’t see how he ended up w/ that ballot, I’m okay with sentimental votes of low consequence (the world won’t blow up because career okay player BJ Surhoff got a few votes), but still.

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