Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Day is Finally Here

I have been anticipating this day for a long time. It is my 1 year blog-o-versary at Home School Dad. Head over there for a celebration.

Today also happens to be the day they announce who is going to Baseball's Hall of Fame via the writer's election process. I have spent the last 7 posts here preparing for today's announcement.

Today I'd like to recap who I would vote for given a ballot, give my predictions for who I think will get in and also some general remarks.

There are many scientific ways to determine who should be in the hall of fame. This year I attempted to develop one of my own. I call it the BILYNM index. What I did was on Christmas Eve took the list of HOF candidates and read them to my BIL Mike. Mike is a writer, a baseball nut (not to be confused with the seasonal 31 flavor's ice cream variety of the same name) and a pretty nice guy.

I asked him to respond yes, no or Maybe to whether the players should be enshrined in Cooperstown. I will admit that I omitted Mike Jackson from the list just because of the double Mike factor.

Here are the results:

Andre Dawson: Y
Bert Blyleven: N
Lee Smith: Y
Jack Morris: M
Tim Raines: N
Mark McGwire: N
Alan Trammell: N
Dave Parker: N
Don Mattingly: N
Harold Baines: N
Roberto Alomar: N
Kevin Appier: N
Ellis Burks: N
Andres Galarraga: N
Pat Hentgen: N
Eric Karros: N
Ray Lankford: N
Barry Larkin: N
Edgar Martinez: N
Fred McGriff: Y
Shane Reynolds: N
David Segui: N
Robin Ventura: N
Todd Zeile: N

Mike's Summation: If Lee Smith doesn't get in, no one should get in.

Speaking of which, the last time that any player on the ballot failed to get the 75% of the vote needed for election was 1996. I think there's a chance that no one will be elected this year.

If I was a 1o year member of the BBWAA I would vote for 7 players this year. Roberto Alomar, Harold Baines, Andre Dawson, Dale Murphy, Tim Raines, Lee Smith and Robin Ventura.

I Predict

I think there will be 1 player elected to the Hall this year and I think that player will be Andre Dawson

I think the top 3 vote getters will be Dawson, Roberto Alomar, and Bert Blyleven

Along with Alomar I think 3 other first ballot players are likely to get more than 5% of the vote and stay on for 2011. They are Barry Larkin, Fred McGriff, and Edgar Martinez

So this end my build up to the hall of fame announcements. I will be be back today or tomorrow with an HOF recap.

Monday, January 4, 2010

My Official Unofficial Hall of Fame Ballot

For the past number of posts I have been fixated on the BBWAA election that will be announced this Wednesday. In previous posts I have reviewed the players returning to the ballot and the progress they have made over the years. I have also reviewed the players who are appearing on the ballot for the first time this year. The writers are allowed to vote for as many as 10 players on the ballot. In my last post I began to reveal who I would vote for if I was instructed to vote for 10 players. I ended my post at #8 as if I was given a ballot this year I would only vote for 7 players.

Today I will tell you the 7 players I would vote for if I was given the opportunity.

The 7th on my ballot would be Dale Murphy.

Why I voted for Him: There are several things that set apart Murphy from the other players who I did not vote for. Murphy was a back to back NL MVP winner in 1982, 1983. He was also the heart ans soul of the Braves teams of the 1980's Besides the back to MVPS in 1984 and 1985 he led his team in the following 4 categories: Hits,Homers, Runs Batted In, and Batting Average in 1986 he led the braves in all those categories but homers where he was second. One writer explaining in 2001 why he did not support Murphy's hall of fame bid had to admit his amazing run in the 80's and his other worthy achievements but countered with "I can't recall the last time I said to myself 'I miss seeing Dale Murphy play baseball'" 1

The thing is I do miss seeing Murphy play ball. I remember he played with a style that said he enjoyed playing the game that made me enjoy watching him play.

Why he's not higher on my list: He doesn't really stand head and shoulders above the rest of the possible inductees. Murphy was one of them. He was only listed one time in the top 5 of any offensive statistical category among position players on the ballot and that was a fith place showing in career homers. The MVPs and his 80's dominance did get him on my ballot but his inability to standout statistically in the crowd of challengers keep him entrenched in 7th.

If I was limited to 6 votes I would use the 6th for Lee Smith.

Why I voted for him: There are only 5 relief pitchers in the Hall of Fame (Goose Gossage, Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, and Dennis Eckersly) Smith has more than 100 saves than any of them. He had 25 or more saves in every season from 1983 to 1995.

Why he's only 6th: The concept of relievers in the Hall took a little time to grow on me. But the recent inclusions of Eckersly, Sutter and Gossage have convinced me of his hall worthiness that being. Perhaps that previous bias helped me make stronger cases for the players in front of him.

Now is the point of my discourse than I am apt to lose all credibility. But before you put your fingers in your ears and started shouting blahcetera, blahcetera, blahcetera, I urge you to hear me out.

If I had only 5 votes I would use my fifth on Robin Ventura.

Why I voted for Him: Let me be clear. I don't think Robin Ventura belongs in the Hall of Fame. I do believe that he merits some consideration. I have noticed there is a bit of local cooking when it comes to hall of fame voting. Certain players only get votes from the reporters who covered the team he was on. I see that as a trust that the local writer has to opening the eyes of the rest of the media. As someone who is a life long fan of Chicago baseball, I do feel that trust even though mine is just a hypothetical one.

I believe that Robin deserves to be part of the conversation for more than just 1 year. Ventura splayed an excellent 3rd base and deserved each of his 6 gold gloves. A fierce competitor with a keen batting eye (5th in walks among this years hopefuls) and a clutch hitter as attributed by his 18 grand slams which ties him for 3rd all time.

Why I didn't vote for him higher: Putting him ahead of Smith and Murphy who have much brighter hall 0f fame prospects than Ventura was foolhardy enough. I can justify it by saying that if I had only 5 votes I would want Robin in more than the other two. As we get to the final 4 on my ballot, I can't bring myself to score Ventura over any of them.

Before I reveal my top 4 I want to say a bit about the list of 12 statistical categories I have been talking about. I made this chart after I decided who I was going to vote for to see if my voting pattern meshed with the player career numbers. The 12 categories are two Bill James Stats: Hall of Fame Monitor and Hall of Fame Standards and then 10 traditional stats: Games, At Bats, Runs, Hits, Home Runs, RBI, Stolen Bases, Walks, Batting Average and Slugging Percentage. I was glad to see that the three of the 4 players I have left to reveal appeared most frequently on those top 5 lists, two 7 times and 1 8 times. I felt that lended a little credibility to my selections.

If I was allowed to vote for 4 players to the Hall of Fame. My 4th vote would be for Roberto Alomar.

Why I voted for him: Alomar seems to me the most Hall of Fame worthy of anyone on the ballot for the first time this year. He had the highest scores of anyone on the ballot in terms of the Hall of Fame Monitor and Hall of Fame Standards metrics. He is second in runs and stolen bases and 3rd in 3 other categories including his career batting average of .300. He was an All Star every year from 1990 to 2001 and won gold glove awards in all but 2 of those seasons.

Why He was not higher: I have Alomar rated ahead of all the other first timers on the ballot. Even though Alomar's accomplishment are stellar it would take an even more special player than him to overtake the 3 returners remaining on my ballot.

If I was told that I only had 3 votes for the Hall of Fame my 3rd vote would be Harold Baines.

Why I voted for Him: While Harold was only listed in the top 5 4 times in the statistical categories referenced above he is on the top of more lists than any other candidate. Baines played more games, got more hits and batted in more runs than anyone else up for consideration this year and He had the second most at bats. Granted those are longevity records and longevity is often dismissed when it comes to the Hall. What can't be dismissed is the quality of effort Baines put out on the field. He was a fan favorite with the White Sox and the Orioles having 3 stints with each team. After his first stint with the White Sox the owner retired his number while he was still playing! Baines missed a game as coach for the White Sox this past year to be honored by the Orioles at a special Harold Baines night.

Why he's not higher: some of the things I said about Edgar Martinez in my last post are true about Harold to a degree. He spent more than 1/2 his career as a Designated Hitter and isn't always one of the first two players you think of in those White Sox teams in the 80's. To be fair though he led the team in both hits and Rbis 4 times between 83-88 and was just 1 RBI behind Ron Kittle from doing it a fifth time. That being said he just doesn't have the numbers to compete with my top two.

If I only had 2 votes for the Hall of Fame my second vote would be for Tim Raines.

Why I voted for Him: If Tim Raines ever makes it to the Hall of Fame which I believe he will, he will have Rickey Henderson to thank for it. In my opinion Hendersons enshrinement last year will force voters to reevaluate Raines who is much like Henderson. Raines had more stolen bases, runs scored and walks than anyone else on the ballot. He appeared on 5 more top 5 lists for a total of 8. Again more than any other player on the ballot.

Why I don't have him higher: Out of respect for the career of who I have # 1.

If there was a rule that you could only vote for 1 player a year for the hall of fame, that player would definitely be Andre Dawson.

Why I have him #1: My best memory of Dawson is in his years with the Cubs in his batting stance with the brick wall behind him at Wrigley field. It is a beautiful memory and to me it resonates baseball. Of all the candidates for the Hall no one is as deserving as Dawson. Of those on the ballot this year he ranked 1st in at bats, second in games and RBI, third in hits and home runs and fourth in stolen bases. I mentioned in phase 1 that Dawson is 1 of 6 players with more than 300 homers and stolen bases. He is one of only 3 players that has 400 + homers and 300 + swiped bags. The other 2 are Willie Mays and Barry Bonds.

So there it is my official unofficial hall of fame ballot. The results of the official balloting will be announced Wednesday. I will check in Wednesday with some final thoughts on the selection process.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

If I had to vote for 10

We are now entering into the third and final phase of my hall of fame prognostication. I am going to tell you what my ballot would look like if I were able to vote in the BBWAA Hall of Fame election. Each voter is allowed to vote for as many as 10 players.

I have decided to list out for you who I would vote for if I had to vote for 10 players and tell you who I would remove if I could only vote for 9 players and downward until I get to who I would vote for if I could only vote for 1 player. Today I will go down as far until I get to the actual amount of people I will be voting for. Monday I will reveal that list in it's entirety.

If I had to vote for 10 players, the last player on my ballot would be Bert Blyleven.

Why he's in the top 10: Frankly because no one on the list who I didn't put higher really screams out to me Hall of Fame. For some reason I just can't fall in love with Jack Morris. I was thinking about Alan Trammell and after doing some stat comparison could not bring myself to vote for Him. I compared the 19 position players in 12 categories and Trammell was 1 of only 4 players did not finish in the top 5 in any of them.

Blyleven is also in my top 10 because he has the bonafides to be there. Blyleven has 3,701 strikeout 5th all time, 3rd of anyone who'e ever been on a BBWAA ballot. Of the top 10 strikeout leaders who have ever been on a BBWAA ballot, only blyleven has not been voted into the Hall. Blyleven's 60 shutouts is good enough for 9th on the all time list. Not only is everyone ahead of him in the hall, he is the only one not in the top 20 not to make it.

Why he's not any higher: For some reason Bert Blyleven does not feel like a hall-0f-famer to me despite the stats. One stat that may be dragging him down is wins. Blyleven is 27th all time in wins of all those only 2 players who have been elgible for election with more wins than Blyleven have made it to the hall. The problem is that Blyleven and those other 2 pitchers are the only ones who have less than 300 wins. One of those pitchers Tommy John, who at least to me, does feel like a hall-of famer failed to be elected on his 15th and final ballot last year. John had 1 more win than blyleven 21 point better winning percentage and only 3 hundreths higher earened runned average. The fact that the last starting pitcher to make the Hall was Nolan Ryan in 1999 doesn't help either. While it's unfair to hold him up to Ryan's standard, I think it's fair to hold him up to John's and since John didn't get in I'm not voting Blyleven there either.

If I had 9 votes my 9th vote would be for Edgar Martinez.

Why he's in the top 9: A .312 lifetime batting average with 10 seasons over .300. 2 consecutive AL batting titles doesn't hurt either. Many will begrudge him the hall because he was basically a career DH. I don't think that's fair. Now that we are finally letting relievers in the Hall, it's time we start giving DH's their due as well.

Why he's not higher: That being said, I am not quite sure he is quite HOF material. He spent most of his career as the second or third best hitter. Some years he wasn't even the best Martinez.

If I had 8 votes, my 8th vote would be for Fred McGriff.

Why he's in the top 8. First of all, he has a HOF nickname. I mean the Crime Dog rocks! Second, McGriff was a clutch performer the fact that his playoff batting average and slugging percentage over 10 series are both approximately 20 points higher than his career #s. This is especially awesome, considering he has a .509 life time slugging percentage.

From 1995 to 1997 I lived near enough Atlanta, Georgia that I became a daily follower of the Atlanta Braves. It was there that I realized how great a player the Crime Dog really was. Statistically, these weren't his best years but they were still very impressive.

Why he's not higher: Many people make a case about whether a player should be a first ballot hall of famer or not. To me this makes no sense. If you think someone is good enough for the hall you should vote that way immediately. If you think someone is good enough for the hall you should vote that way immediately. But sometimes it is possible to think a guy as just shy of the Hall and in the years to come reshape your opinion of them. Then i believe it is fair to not cast a vote early only to add it in the years to come. For that reason, even though McGriff is 8th if I had to vote for 8, I would not now choose him for the Hall. I would actually vote for 7 on this years ballot and will reveal those 7 Monday.

Here is why the Crime Dog is on the outside looking in. Many would say that his 7 home runs shy of the 500 mark hurt his chances. To me banging on the door of the 2500/500 club with a lifetime slugging percentage higher than .500 enhances his chances doesn't hurt them. If he stayed in the bigs long enough to get those 7 dingers he would have surely collected the 10 hits needed for 2,500 in the process. My deal is I don't want to be some "everybody gets in Flynn" with my voting even though mine are only hypothetical. At 7 votes I already think I may be pushing the envelope this year. Something just cries out to be that McGriff had just below the career needed for the Hall of Fame. It's nothing I find lacking in his resume as much as this lingering feeling I get that maybe the Hall is not something that Freddy should take a bite out of.

Future Hall of Fame Posts:

Monday: I will list my 7 votes for the Hall
Wednesday: I will have some final thoughts on the process including who I think will be elected this year.
After the voting is revealed: A briefing on the results and how my choices fared

Hall of Fame Part 5

I am finishing up Phase 2 of my series on the 2010 hall of fame vote. In my last post, I introduced 8 of the 15 players on the writers ballot for the first time this year. I will address the last 7 today. In my next post I will tell you who I would vote for if given the chance.

Barry Larkin SS played 19 seasons for the Cincinnati Reds. Over 2300 hits 2 shy of 200 homers and a lifetime batting average of .295 and over 350 stolen bases. A 12 time All Star, with 3 Golden Gloves and 9 Silver Sluggers, Larkin was the 1995 National League MVP.

Edgar Martinez DH played 18 seasons for the Seattle Mariners. Over 2200 hits, 9 above the 300 HR mark and a career batting average of .312. Martinez was selected to 7 all star games, and won 5 silver slugger awards. Best MVP voting = 3rd.

Fred McGriff 1B played for 6 teams (Rays, Braves, Blue Jays, Braves, Cubs, Dodgers) over 19 seasons. McGrifff posted a lifetime batting average of .284 with 10 shy of 2,500 hits and missing the 500 homer mark by 7. A 5 time all star with 1 all star MVP award and 3 Silver Sluggers. Best MVP Voting = 4th.

Shane Reynolds P played for 3 teams (Astros, Diamond Backs, Braves) over 13 seasons. Career ERA of 4.09 with 114 wins and 1403 strikeouts. 1 All Star game, Best Cy Young Voting = 9th.

David Segui 1B played for 7 teams (Orioles, Expos, Mets, Mariners, Rangers, Indians, Blue Jays) over 15 seasons. A career .292 hitter with 1412 hits and 139 homers.

Robin Ventura 3B played for 4 teams (White Sox, Mets, Dodgers, Yankees) over 16 seasons. Finished career just 15 hits away from 1900 and 6 dingers shy of 300. Lifetime batting average of .267. 2 All Star appearances and 6 Gold Gloves. Best MVP Voting = 6th.

Todd Zeile 3B played for 11 teams (Cardinals, Mets, Rangers, Dodgers, Rockies, Phillies, Expos, Cubs, Yankees, Marlins, Orioles) over 16 seasons. A .265 Major League batting average with 4 over the 2000 hit threshold and 3 more than 250 homers.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Hall of Fame Part 4

Happy New Year!

I promise this blog will not always be this baseball intensive. Especially in the winter. But if this blog is still kicking a year from now, I expect you will see a few weeks of Hall of Fame analysis and prognostication.

Today we enter into phase 2 of our look at the 2010 road to Cooperstown.

Phase 1 was to review the accomplishments and the writers voting patterns of the 11 players returning to the ballot from last year. Phase 2 is to review the accomplishments of the 15 players on the ballot for the first time.

Analysis of previous 5 Hall of Fame nominee classes.

In the past 5 years there have been 62 players to find their way on the ballot for the first time. Of those 62, 4 have been elected to the hall on their first opportunity. 6 received more than 5% of the vote but less than the 75% needed for enshrinement. 1/2 of those 6 received less than 5% of the vote in their second year and the other half are still on the ballot for this year. Forty of the 62 players received under 5% of the vote but at least one vote. The remaining 12 players did not receive any votes at all.

If we assume that the 15 players on the ballot for the first time this year will fare in the same pattern as the last 5 years then ...

1 player will be elected to the hall on their first ballot. 1 player will receive more than 5% but less than 75% of the vote and will have a 50/50 shot of being voted off the island in the next election. 10 players will receive at least 1 vote but not enough consideration to return to the ballot next year. 3 players will receive no votes whatsoever.
I'll let you all know on the 6th if the votes followed the pattern or not. Here are the first 8 first time candidate profiles. I'll finish the rest in the next HOF installment.

Roberto Alomar 2B played for 7 teams (Padres, Blue Jays, Orioles, Indians, Mets, White Sox, Diamond Backs) over 17 seasons. Lifetime .300 batting average. More than 2700 hits. More than 200 home runs. Within 25 of the 500 steal mark. 12 All Star appearances. 1 All Star MVP. 10 gold gloves, 4 silver sluggers and 1 alcs MVP. Best MVP voting = 3rd

Kevin Appier P played for 4 teams (Royals, A's, Mets, Angels) over 16 seasons. Won 169 games with lifetime era of 3.74. 6 strikeouts shy of 2000. 1 all star game. Best Cy Young Voting =3rd.

Ellis Burks OF played with 5 teams (Red Sox, Rockies, Giants, Indians, White Sox) over 18 seasons. Life time .291 hitter with over 2100 hits, more than 350 homers and less than 20 steals from the 200 mark. 2 All Star Games, 1 Gold Glove, 2 Silver Sluggers. Best MVP voting =3rd

Andres Galarraga 1B played for 7 teams (Expos, Cardinals, Rockies, Braves, Rangers, Giants, Angels) over 19 seasons. With More than 2300 hits and 1 homer shy of the 400 mark Galaragga hit .288 with 128 stolen bases. Played in 5 all star games, won two gold gloves and two silver sluggers. Best MVP voting 6th (twice).

Pat Hentgen P played for 3 teams (Blue Jays, Cardinals, Orioles)over 14 seasons. Hentgen had 131 career wins, a lifetime era of 4.32 and 1,290 strike outs. 3 All Star appearance winner of the AL Cy Young award in 1996.

Mike Jackson P played for 8 teams (Mariners, Giants, Indians, Phillies, Twins, Reds, Astros, White Sox) over 17 seasons. 3.42 ERA 142 Saves and 1006 Strikeouts. Best MVP voting = 21st.

Eric Karros 1B played for 3 teams (Dodgers A's Cubs) over 14 seasons. A life time .268 hitter Karros ended his career with over 1700 hits and 284 homers. Won the 1992 NL rookie of the year award, 1 Silver Slugger Best MVP Voting Award = 5th.

Ray Lankford OF played for 2 teams (Cardinals, Padres) over 14 seasons. More than 1500 hits with a life time batting average of .272. Hit over 200 homers while swiping over 200 bags. 1 all star game, best MVP voting = 16th.

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Greg Maddux HOF Speech