2012 HOF Ballot Preview – Punch and Judy Edition

by on January 11, 2011 · 16 comments

It’s never too early to start griping about something, so let’s get this one out of the way early.  Here at PH8, I’m all about berating confusing eviscerating educating baseball fans by collecting information and making it even less palatable than it was in its original form.  With that in mind, here’s the 2012 baseball Hall of Fame ballot that the BBWAA writers may potentially botch but will hopefully get right on the money (courtesy of baseball-reference.com).

Barry Larkin, Jack Morris, Lee Smith, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Edgar Martinez, Alan Trammell, Larry Walker, Mark McGwireFred McGriff, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, Bernie Williams, Vinny Castilla, Javy Lopez, Ruben Sierra, Jeff NelsonJeromy Burnitz, Tim Salmon, Mike Matheny, Edgardo Alfonzo, Danny Graves, Tony Womack, Scott Erickson, Jeff Fassero, Phil Nevin, Carl Everett, Brian Jordan, Eric Young, Tim Worrell, Bill Mueller, Joe Randa, Jose Lima, Matt Lawton, Terry Mulholland, Brad Radke, Rick Helling, Felix Rodriguez, and Mike Remlinger.

Larkin received 62.1% of the vote this year, and I’m going on record right now as prognosticating that he’ll get in next time around.  Of the remaining names, I maintain that Bagwell, Walker, and Palmeiro have the best stats and deserve inclusion.  Yeah, they played during what I’m now calling the “B12 Bobblehead Era“, but that’s not my problem and shouldn’t be theirs either.  Their numbers are still in the record books.  I checked.  If MLB isn’t going to remove their numbers, then I think voters should vote based on those numbers.  The gatekeepers and truth-seekers had their chances to grill these guys for years, and I don’t recall a lot of them doing so.  I do recall a lot of them writing copious amounts of words about the accomplishments of these men and reporting about 60+ hr seasons. 

I’m not vilifying anybody in the media for not pushing these guys on PED’s by any means.  I’m just saying that now is a lousy time to get religion about the subject.  Up until recently I was ready to be one of the first casters of stones, but even I’ve seen the light.  What’s done is done.  Cooperstown isn’t the baseball “Hall of Honor and Righteousness”, and it’s not exactly filled with choir boys.  It’s a museum with a strict permanent membership requirement policy.  The permanent members are supposed to be the best players ever to play the game.  It’s not that difficult to make the distinction between the “best” and the “not best”.  Barry Larkin was one of the best, and he has the stats and possibly millions of witnesses to back up that claim. 

On the other end of the spectrum, Mike Matheny was not one of the best to ever play the game.  There’s nothing wrong with that, though, and that’s by no means in insult.    He played major league baseball for 13 years.  That’s exactly 13years longer than I played, and it’s a darn impressive accomplishment in its own right.  Try to put that into perspective.  Matheny was probably a full-time catcher for almost 10 of those 13 years.  That means that for a decade, he was possibly one of maybe the 40 best catchers in the entire world (at worst).  He did win 4 Gold Gloves, so it’s more likely that he was ranked a lot higher than just the top 40.  Imagine being among the very best 40 in the world at something.  Forget the HOF.  Just being considered elite at something would be amazing. 

As it stands, there is almost a whole year before the BBA (Baseball Bloggers Alliance) will ask its members to fill out a ballot.  By that time, I’ll probably go back and forth on some of these names, but rest assured that I’ll still be in favor of Larkin, Bagwell, Walker, and Palmeiro.  I’m still giving thought to McGwire.  The more I think about it, the more I’m inclined to give him the nod as well.  There simply aren’t a lot of 12-time All-Stars with 583 home runs who don’t get into the HOF.  Actually, he’s the only one.  He did a phenomenal amount of damage in only 7660 plate appearances, and he walked 1317 times.  Yeah, he had a pretty decent batting eye, but some pitchers simply preferred to throw 4 to the screen than pitch to him.  If his peers respected him that much, then so should I.  Let’s give the guy a hall pass.

TIDBIT:  If you’re viewing this blog on an iPhone or Android app, it’s possible that the words “berating”, “confusing”, and “eviscerating” do not appear with strikethroughs as they appear on the normal website.  That’s because applications that translate RSS feeds can do horrible things to the feeds, and certain special cases like strikethroughs do not get translated properly. 

Like it?  Ready to start a debate about the 2012 HOF class already?  Find gr33nazn on Twitter and make your case for Jose Lima!

Cardinals fan since I could hold a fishing pole steady. Accidental blogger. Opinionated. I could care less about what you think of me. Constantly confounded, bemused, and confuzzled (ie I'm a pc and a mac). I'm an IT infrastructure analyst with a penchant for breaking tech toys. I ate a sabermetric primer for breakfast. I love playing "All-powerful GM of MLB". The 2010 Cardinals represented a good, practical definition "cognitive dissonance". The 2011 version got by on duct tape and a prayer, and I'm fine with that. They just need new tape for #12 in 12.
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Tom January 11, 2011

O.K. here we go, which one does not belong? Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal,Tom Seaver, Jim Palmer, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez or Jack Morris? So you get box seats right behind home plate and you get to choose the pitcher for that night – that would be fun right? I would bet the house that you don’t pick Morris – not even close!

Dennis January 11, 2011

Alright, is this a trick question? If so, the one that does not belong is Randy Johnson, because he’s not yet eligible for the HOF.

As for the box seats, I’d have to pick Gibson. It’s nothing against the other guys, it’s just that both Gibson and Marichal were before my time, and I’d relish the opportunity to watch Gibby. Of the rest you named, I actually saw Morris pitch once when he was past his prime, and I made it a point to go see Maddux every chance I got. I saw both Johnson and Martinez live at least twice, and I never saw Seaver or Palmer in-person.

In all fairness, I actually enjoyed watching Morris on tv more than I enjoyed either Palmer or Martinez. It’s a preference thing, I guess.

Tom January 12, 2011

Gibson would be my choice also along with Randy Johnson. I got to see Seaver when he came back to the Mets on opening day 1983 at Shea vs. Carlton and the Phillies. Saw Pedro in Tampa and he was virtually unhittable. My point is that Morris is not in the same class as the rest of the pitchers here. I wish the Hall of Fame would have just stuck with the GREATS but now that they have let some others in along the way the likes of Morris have a chance.

Dennis January 12, 2011

I’ll admit that I always that Randy Johnson was fun, even if he was having an off day. Watching Seaver on tv probably wasn’t enough to do him justice, but I did get to watch him a few times in both 83 and 85.

I agree about Morris, and I’ve looked at his case from 15 different angles. I just don’t think he belongs, and nobody can convince me differently. The 39.3 WAR in 18 seasons can’t be explained away, and neither can the career 1.78 SO/BB. The 105 ERA+ is uninspiring, and the only thing that impressed me is the 175 complete games paired with the 3824 innings pitched. I don’t understand how he’s managed to scrape together 53.5% of the HOF votes, unless more and more writers are actually voting the full 10 just because they can.

Brian January 12, 2011

Dennis, I agree with you about Walker and Bagwell (not Palmeiro — can’t get past the finger-wagging and lying) but it does seem that the Larry Walker for the HOF candicacy is not getting a lot of support. He passes the “eye test” for me and the numbers are there, but the voting in his first year of eligibility was weak. The HRs, MVP award, 6 Gold Gloves, BA, etc. are all impressive and he also lost a lot of time to injury. I would be interested to hear your reasons for supporting Walker for the Hall and also why you think he didn’t get much support on his first try.

Dennis January 12, 2011

Brian, thanks for reading and providing feedback. Much appreciated.

I based my support of Walker in my post on 12/28/10 mostly on raw numbers (career line of .313/.400/.565/.965) and the 5 All-Star appearances, 7 Gold Gloves, and 3 Silver Sluggers. I also liked that he didn’t just build a career based on the “Coors Effect”. In his last year in Montreal, he was good for .322/.394/.587/.981. As a 38 year-old in Stl, he managed .289/.384/.502/.886. More than that, I’m basing it on the “eye test”. The guy had a really sweet swing, and pitchers looked for ways to avoid him. It didn’t take much of a “flick” of the bat for him to loft a double down either line, and he was a “plus” defender for many years.

I think he was penalized for playing so many years in Colorado, and I also think he was penalized for being a 1st timer on the ballot. Based on some weird principle, I think some writers intentionally distinguish between “1st ballot” guys and guys who aren’t in that class. It’s kind of a silly distinction, but that’s just the way it seems to work. Since I don’t think the taint of playing at Coors is anything like the taint of PEDs, I think he’ll jump up considerably next time around, especially because the next class is really weak in my opinion.

Tom January 13, 2011

I would like to see Alan Trammell in the Hall. He was a great shortstop in the 1980’s, especially from 1983 through 1990. He also had an excellent season in 1980 as well as in 1993. I always thought he was one of the best and now that I realize he stole quite a few bases in his career this helps put him over the top for me. He was a great hero in the 1984 World Series and this just puts the icing on the cake.

Bernie Williams had a great career. From 1995 through 2004 when the Yankees made the playoffs every season and captured four World Series rings Bernie patrolled center field with speed and a graceful stride which earned him 4 Gold Gloves. He ranks 10th all time in putouts for center fielders. He batted to the tune of .310 in those 10 seasons while averaging 23 home runs, 95 runs batted in, 102 runs scored, 31doubles, and 168 hits per season. He finished in the top 10 in the league for OBP in 5 years, OPS 4 years and received MVP votes in 6 seasons during that stretch. He won a batting title and excelled in the postseason. He was a first class person while achieving all of this and did it without the use of steroids. Bernie Williams deserves the honor.

Dennis January 13, 2011

First, I just want to say that I’m a huge Bernie Williams fan, and I think he’ll get some support on a particularly weak ballot. I don’t think he’ll get in, though. To add to what have for his resume, he did put up a perfect 1.000 fielding % in 2000 (career .990, 26th best all-time) , ranks 33rd all-time in putouts for all outfielders, and is 94th all-time in runs created. His numbers tell me that he had a great 8 year run in the middle of his career, and that could get him close.

I liked Trammell as well, but I think he suffers from the lack of a sustained peak. He had 8 really good-to-great seasons, but they were interspersed among his 20 seasons in the league. Ultimately, I feel like that’s what keeps him out more than anything, because you can’t look back at his numbers and point to a 4-5 year stretch that he was really at the top of his game. That said, I still think his voting support numbers are surprisingly low. This year was his 10th on the ballot, and he reached a high point of 24.3%.

Tom January 13, 2011

Williams also hit over .300 for 8 straight years, scored 100+ runs in 7 straight years and drove in over 100 for 5 seasons. He batted over .400 in 6 different playoff series and .400 on the nose in the 2003 World Series.

Tom January 13, 2011

Cashman really hurt Bernie’s chances by not bringing him back. Bernie wanted to play a few more years and Cashman slapped him in the face with a minor league offer – dispicable – after all Bernie had accomplished that was ridiculous. He did not play for anyone else and decided to hang it up. He would have added to his numbers. I am glad he was a lifelong Yankee.

Over the past 50 years how many shortstops have recorded a .285+ or better batting average with 2000+ hits and 1000+ runs batted in? It is a short list. Trammell is on it.

Dennis January 13, 2011

Yeah, the end was really tough to watch. I thought Bernie was really losing power at the end of 2004, but he still offered a lot in the way of being a solid contact/obp guy after that. I just don’t know how much getting to 300 hr, 1400 rbi and potentially lowering his career batting avg would have helped the guy. I thought Cashman handled it poorly, and Bernie handled it with his usual class.

As for the 2000/1000/.285 club, I don’t think that there is any particular “magic” combination that works for a specific position/era. If a player goes long enough, they’ll reach certain milestones. If someone were to start making a case for Trammel, now would be the time to do it. He had similar rbi/hit totals to Larkin, and I would argue he was a better defender. The only problem is that he didn’t put up quite the overall stat line and needed 300+ plate appearances to get his numbers. You’d think the defense would offset that, but I think people get caught up in the individual awards and perception part of the voting.

Mark Grucza January 13, 2011

Larry Walker Home .348/.431/.637
Larry Walker Away .285/.370/.495
If you double his career away counting stats, he has 1934H and 336HR
No way he should be in.

PH8 January 14, 2011

If you’re discounting his home stats completely, what makes the road stats the “baseline”? He had to hit at the Astrodome and Petco too, right?

Luckily for us, as Dennis mentions, Baseball Reference’s neutralized stats provides a more accurate look at how Walker would’ve fared in a completely neutral park environment for his career.

.299/.384/.539 – still more than 2000 hits, still 350+ HR.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/w/walkela01-bat.shtml (scroll to the bottom)

Dennis January 13, 2011

Mark, thanks for reading and the feedback.

I’ve heard this line of reasoning before, and I don’t understand the rationale behind it. If you apply that logic, then you have to do the same to each and every position player. Eliminate their home stats, and double their away stats. How do you then account for guys who for whatever reason don’t hit at home but absolutely rake on the road? Are they superstars, even though they bat 50 points lower for half their games which just happen to be played at home?

In 1994, Walker hit .322 with a .351 BAbip with Montreal. In 1999, he hit .379 with the Rockies, and his BAbip was .363. It oversimplifies the discussion to even imply that his career can be deconstructed and defined by his time at Coors. If someone were to take the time to chart Walker’s home/away splits along with his BAbip and compare those numbers to a study of good-great hitters as they reach their prime years, then that might be worth looking at for the Walker debate. For lack of that, I’m fine with saying that I don’t think he would have hit .366, .363, and .379, and hit 36, 49, 37, or 38 hr in any given season. However, he had already shown the ability to hit 20+ prior to reaching his prime, and he had already hit the 40+ double mark as well, and his BAbip numbers are indicative of an elite hitter. Even his neutralized batting line of .299/.384/.539/.924 is impressive.

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