An Attempt towards an Objective 2013 MLB Hall of Fame Ballot

'Tis the time of the year when BBWAA writers who have ballots for the Hall of Fame voting, as well as everyone else, indicate who they want to be in the Hall of Fame.   There are a lot of those lists and most of them come without much explanation and most of the picks are somewhat subjective (of the type: "Jack Morris should be in because he was the best post-season pitcher like ever").  Also, you have the steroid witch hunters sharpening their arrows and tightening their bows trying to make it all "alright".  Furthermore, you have the people who think that because someone is a "nice guy", he should be in (Dale Murphy supporters now and Jim Rice supporters earlier fall into this category.)

What are my ground rules for crating a Hall of Fame Ballot (and even though the word "objective" is on the title, this is the list of the subjective criteria I am using - and one has to use subjective criteria, since there is no objective direction from the Hall on when someone should or should not be in):

  • You cannot "punish" one type of PED users (steroid users) and not another.  So either all deserved players are in or all out.  Since MLB listed amphetamines or "greenies" in the PED banned list, lots of the enshrined players should be out, according to the ones who are on the Steroid witch hunt, starting with Hank Aaron, who in a televised interview with Bob Kostas, admitted to have taken greenies.  All in or all out.  Period. Otherwise it is a hypocrisy akin to that of a pro-lifer supporting the death penalty.  So, in my ballot, they are all in.  No time for witch hunts
  • I believe that the Hall of Fame should not be the Hall of Very Good (or with the recent addition of the likes of Jim Rice, the Hall of All Stars).  Only the best players of an era should be there.  A handful.  The very best
  • I would like to find an objective criterium to use to rank players.  And since this is a lifetime achievement, career WAR is as close as it gets.  WAR takes care of the era and included hitting, fielding and base running for position players, and it is adjusted for position so it is pretty holistic (and helps obliterate arguments that someone who is a Catcher or a Short Stop could be lighter hitting than an OF/1B and still in the Hall.  That is all reflected in the number).  Some people indicate that pitcher WAR is useless; my take is that (since it is a cummulative achievement award) for this exercise works pretty well (and the data below show it) unless it is for a reliever.
Without further ado, here is a list of all players in the 2013 ballot, in decreasing WAR (Baseball-Reference style), including recently selected players in blue backgrounds.

The players in green (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Jeff Bagwell and Curt Schilling) will have my vote.  The players in yellow are in a bubble (based on the previously inducted Roberto Alomar and Barry Larkin) and will get some votes.  There are 11 playes in yellow and green and only 10 spots.  Lee Smith will always get votes, but his WAR is just too low compared with that of Goose Gossage (whom I consider borderline)  Players like Dale Murphy, Jack Morris, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa do not belong in the Hall.

You heard it correctly:  Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa do not belong in the Hall of Fame.  And not because they used steroids potentially.  They do not belong because their numbers are not good enough.  Objectively.  Not witch huntingly.  Roger Maris of 61 in 61, whose record was broken, has a career WAR in the 30s, btw.

So here you have it.  And there will be the McGwire and Sosa debate (for the wrong reasons) and the Morris and Murphy debate, but objectively, none of these guys should be in.

1 comment:

Marv said...

WAR is an interesting stat. I am curious to know if OPS+ for fielders and ERA+ for pitchers would have yielded the same results. I understand that OPS+ doesn't measure defensive skills, but using a second stat to support or challenge the first might be interesting.

Anyway, interesting read. Thank you Thry.