2012 BBA Baseball Hall of Fame ballot

by on December 31, 2011 · 6 comments

Once again, as a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, Pitchers Hit Eighth is casting a ballot for that organization’s symbolic Baseball Hall of Fame voting.

Four of us from the site got together on Episode 10 of the Pitchers Hit Eighth podcast this week to go through the ballot name-by-name to come up with our recommendations for induction.

You’ll have to listen to the podcast for our individual player comments and insights, but for tabulation and transparency purposes, here are our inductees:

Barry Larkin: 4 PH8 votes (Nick, Josh, Dennis, Andrew)
Jeff Bagwell: 4 PH8 votes (Nick, Josh, Dennis, Andrew)
Edgar Martinez: 4 PH8 votes (Nick, Josh, Dennis, Andrew)
Alan Trammell 4 PH8 votes (Nick, Josh, Dennis, Andrew)
Mark McGwire: 4 PH8 votes (Nick, Josh, Dennis, Andrew)
Rafael Palmeiro: 3 PH8 votes (Nick, Josh, Dennis)

And those falling short:

Lee Smith: 2 PH8 votes (Nick, Josh)
Tim Raines: 2 PH8 votes (Nick, Andrew)
Larry Walker: 2 PH8 votes (Nick, Dennis)
Bernie Williams: 1 PH8 vote (Dennis)

No votes:

Brad Radke, Terry Mulholland, Bill Mueller, Eric Young, Brian Jordan, Phil Nevin, Tony Womack, Tim Salmon, Jeromy Burnitz, Ruben Sierra, Javy Lopez, Vinny Castilla, Juan Gonzalez, Dale Murphy, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Jack Morris

We’re happy to hear your opinion on the ballot and debate each player’s merits, respectfully. Happy Hall of Fame!

Writing about the Cardinals and other loosely associated topics since 2008, I've grown tired of the April run-out only to disappoint Cardinal fans everywhere by mid-May. I do not believe in surrendering free outs.
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Lee December 31, 2011

Great ballot overall.

Surprised that Raines didnt get more support (I think he’s a no-brainer). But I have to say that the Williams vote confuses me more. Dennis, care to elaborate? (my questioning is not meant to be sarcastic, I’m just curious)

Happy new year, all!

Dennis January 3, 2012

Lee, I apologize for the delay in elaborating. I feel like I owe you an expanded explanation.

Regarding Raines, I’m a bit on the fence still. In the sense that he was one of the very best leadoff hitters of his era, I think that he deserves to get in. The problem is that beyond a few counting stats (808 steals with a ridiculous success rate, .385 OBP), he only managed 64.6 WAR in 23 season. You can certainly make the argument that he held on too long, but it’s hard to ignore the numbers he put up in his last 3-4 years. He probably shouldn’t have played, but he did. What it came down to for me is that his real peak was about 5 years of great baseball followed by a period of really good baseball, but he packaged all of that in a lot of years of fluff. He doesn’t quite meet my “sustained excellence” expectation, but I’m willing to be swayed.

As for Bernie Williams, I think he did exactly what Raines didn’t do. Williams managed to remain productive for an awfully long period of time, and the arc of his career is almost exactly what I would expect of a great player who finished without 2-4 years of fluff. He averaged just under 3.0 WAR per season for his career which is significant to me. (Read my next blog piece to understand why.) If you compare the 2 players, their stat lines are awfully similar. The difference-makers for me are Bernie’s postseasons success versus Raines’s dropoff in 8 playoff series and the fact that Bernie played out-of-position for several years. He really should have been moved to a corner outfield spot about halfway through his career.

Lee January 4, 2012


While I certainly don’t disagree with your right to “vote” for Williams before Raines, I will say that using WAR to discount Raines doesn’t quite pass muster. You can’t say that he’s “only” put up 64 bWAR (70 fWAR) and then turn around and Williams, who didn’t even clear 50 (in either version even). Sure, you’re using other points to make a case–and WAR isn’t an end-all, be-all stat–but WAR does seem to at least indicate that Raines was objectively more productive over the course of his career.

I’ll stop there on the Williams retort since the argument here isn’t really picking between him and Raines (plus, I bet we’d just end up agreeing to disagree; for instance, I dislike weighing playoff performances heavily, and I typically use 60 WAR as a starting point for HOF discussions, yada yada yada). I do however have some additional thoughts about Raines’ case, though. And full disclosure, most of it is inspired by the work done by one Joe Posnanski.

First, there’s the fact that his career is extremely similar to first-ballot HOFer Tony Gwynn. Believe it or not, Raines actually reached base more times in his career than Gwynn. That doesn’t necessarily make him better, but it does indicate that their value at the plate is more similar than people think. After all, their career OBP, SLG, wOBA, and WAR are very similar. But Raines doesn’t stop with his bat (as you pointed out). He’s 5th all-time in SB while being the most efficient ever (Beltran’s been better, but with less attempts), and I think it’s hard to make a case against Raines.

Another tidbit is the fact that Raines lost a sizable chunk of playing time in his prime due to a strike (1981) and colluding owners (1987). Not quite on the level of WWII-missed time, but it is certainly notable given that he was within shouting distance of 3000 hits and could have possibly passed Cobb for 4th all-time in SB. We obviously can’t count stats that didn’t happen, but it seems relevant to the argument.

It’s not a fully baked argument, but I think I’ve conveyed my opinion pretty. Plus, I’m trying not to make this comment any more of a tome than it already is 🙂

Love the dialogue here. This is fun.

Lee January 4, 2012
Dennis January 5, 2012

Thanks for the thoughtful response, Lee.
Maybe using WAR to discount Raines doesn’t pass muster, because you left out some context. I specifically wrote that “he only managed 64.6 WAR in 23 season”. That is significantly different than implying that I mean he “only” put up 64 bWAR.
While it may be fair to say that Raines was more productive than Williams in a certain sense, it would also be fair to say that Williams was more efficient at being productive. Starting a HoF discussion at 60 WAR total is an interesting way to begin. Willie Randolph meets that bar, but I’m not sure many would argue that he was deserving of the HoF.
The comparison to Tony Gwynn is interesting in terms of some statistics, but consider that Gwynn put up a higher WAR total in 3 fewer seasons. He also averaged over 150 hits/season for his career. In my mind, Gwynn was slightly better defensively, and Gwynn also had a higher OPS+, even though he was considered by many to be a singles hitter. Yes, Raines reached base a lot, but I place a slightly higher value on hitting your way on than drawing a walk. That said, I won’t take anything away from Raines in that sense, because his role was to get on base more so than it was to advance runners or drive them in. The biggest obvious difference between the two is how well Gwynn played at the very end of his career. He was incredibly productive in a very small number of plate appearances. Says a lot about his ability to still swing the bat.
As I previously mentioned, I’m willing to be swayed with regard to Raines, but I’m looking for something that proves that he did more than just “sustain good”. Even if you optimistically extrapolate the missed time for Raines out, he doesn’t quite make 3,000 hits. That’s not necessarily a knock on him, and any additional WAR projected for those periods might have helped some.

Thanks for the links to some of Posnanski’s articles. I’m a huge fan of his work, but the HoF is one of the few areas of interest where he and I definitely would not agree completely. As with just about everybody else, I respect his opinion.

Lee January 5, 2012

Excellent point on my use of WAR. I wasn’t even aware in my own mind that I only looked at it cumulatively; guess we’re all a little prone to (inadvertently) making the numbers say what we want 🙂

I’m still a huge Raines proponent, but I do appreciate the well-thought arguments. They help me see the confirmation biases in my own.

Thanks again for the discussion.

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