What price glory, or fame? Or, as some sabermetricians may put it, what score, fame?
This is the question I come to as I analyze this year’s Baseball Hall Of Fame & Museum class. To begin with, I aim to clarify my stance about the BHOF&M itself. It is, first and foremost, a museum. The greats of the game, scars, warts and all, are already in there. Writers vote on who gets a plaque in a special wing. A public ceremony celebrates the accomplishments and turns the volume way down upon the negatives. It is a favored hot-button topic in the sports media. Already we are somewhat aware of the malcontents that have a plaque in the museum already. We also know about the cheaters and those who irreprehensibly tarnished the game. But the museum doesn’t take away the plaques. Instead, it finds more ways to keep out those from getting an all-but-deserving prize. The public may frown upon the game but they will still fill the stadia and watch the dingers. The occasion of the vote as well as the ceremony is one I look to with equal parts anticipation and dread.
Why the dread? Because the museum is relatively slow to make great changes that will give absolutely great players a worthy shot of attaining baseball immortality. Yes, the power at be did lower the number of years to be on the ballot. I’m not certain this will curtail the number of people that are ‘legitimate’. It’s a move that will further discount anyone having to be on the ballot the first time around. Those players have to fight a well publicized bias by sportswriters who do not believe a player is ‘automatic’, or otherwise do not subscribe to the 100% perfect ballot presence of a player. Beyond this, there are enough sportswriters who refuse to complete their list of 10, or even at all. I say, remove the privilege from eligible writers who cannot adhere to picking 10 players.
What I’m presenting are the comparative numbers for all candidates in this year’s ballot, covering 10 categories. These categories are well-documented by description at www.baseball-reference.com Some of them are Bill James creations, others are simply leaderboard measurements, still others are comparative measures. I compared the ballot dwellers to each other and not to HOF members. I added the top 10 of those who had the most top 10 rankings to each other in the 10 categories.
Of those waiting their turn for next year, it looks like Piazza is closest.
See my main HOF selections here.
While building this post, I wanted to redo my selections by focusing on stats that I felt reflected one’s fame and ability. I mean, the museum is based on fame, right?
The task I gave myself was to be similar in scope; get the best 10 from the list of 34. But here I made one major difference: I separated proportionately the types of players. One set for batters, one for starters, one for closers, and one for starters that converted to relief pitcher work at some point. Here are the categories:
Games Played, for me, represents longevity, representing some amount of fame when getting the chance to play consistently enough to matter to a team. For the pitchers, I used Games Appeared or Games Started, depending on the role.
WPA/LI has become a big favorite, a twin stat that measures the leverage index of a player (pressure per plate appearance or batter faced), along with win probability added. This combo is the best statistical definition of clutch I’ve seen yet.
As the BBWAA also votes on MVP and CYA candidates, the MVP and CYA Shares stat gets included.
I chose to favor players who played with fewer franchises, as this leads to more fame rather than someone who has played for 8
I also chose 2 representative core stats: K/BF, to determine ‘stuff’ by pitcher….and HR/PA to see who was a pure threat by hitter, both stats leading to some amount of fame.
Also important to me re fame is the postseason experience. I kept it simple and examined who appeared in most games among these.
Finally my Fear Factor and Pitcher Fear Factor stats were applied, a stat I touch upon elsewhere in this website, to see who masters the batter/pitcher conflict, and who delivers most.
I gave room for choosing the top 25% of players depending on the role. For batters, that meant 6 of the 23; starters, top 2; 1 top single reliever, and 1 top converted reliever.
The findings were very interesting. For the batters, I had to break a tie between Piazza, Bagwell, Mattingly and Sosa. As much as I love Donnie Baseball, the lack of thorough postseason experience and game experience in general along with WPA/LI sets him back among these. It was rather close between Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez but I stuck with The Big Unit here. Troy Percival had decent numbers but was no match for Lee Smith among relievers. And as for the 2 converted relievers, Smoltz has it all over Gordon. From this chart, those on the doorstep and waiting for a softer class, Pedro is likely the next one in.
Those who are OUT of the picture on both charts:
Seems like Biggio might be the most deserving candidate not in. He certainly has the longevity, and playing for just 1 franchise makes a difference. But he lacks in leading in a number of stats, even in top 10s. And the new-fangled WAR and JAWS related stats make him appear weaker than what he seemed to be. I wonder if he is being hurt by the strong class this year and these recent sabermetric wrinkles. Nevertheless, I have to think he’ll get in someday. If he does get the call on Tuesday, it won’t be the worst decision. There are so many others, though, that have somewhat better credentials.