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Bloops: The Hall of (Peak-Weighted) WAR

Posted by Neil Paine on March 18, 2011

Here's a cool link from Adam Darowski:

Hall of wWAR: The Hall of Fame Re-Populated by Peak-Weighted WAR

It is exactly what it sounds like -- he took our Wins Above Replacement stat, peak-adjusted it by combining regular WAR with "Wins Above Excellence" & "Wins Above MVP", and then repopulated the Hall of Fame using that weighted metric. Here were the members of his Hall:

Aaron, Hank Dawson, Andre Kelly, King Robinson, Jackie
Alexander, Pete Delahanty, Ed Killebrew, Harmon Rose, Pete
Allen, Dick Dickey, Bill King, Silver Rusie, Amos
Alomar, Roberto DiMaggio, Joe Koosman, Jerry Ruth, Babe
Anson, Cap Drysdale, Don Koufax, Sandy Ryan, Nolan
Appier, Kevin Eckersley, Dennis Lajoie, Nap Saberhagen, Bret
Appling, Luke Evans, Darrell Larkin, Barry Sandberg, Ryne
Ashburn, Richie Evans, Dwight Lyons, Ted Santo, Ron
Bagwell, Jeff Ewing, Buck Magee, Sherry Schmidt, Mike
Baker, Home Run Faber, Red Mantle, Mickey Seaver, Tom
Bando, Sal Feller, Bob Marichal, Juan Simmons, Al
Banks, Ernie Finley, Chuck Martinez, Edgar Simmons, Ted
Bell, Buddy Fisk, Carlton Mathews, Eddie Sisler, George
Bench, Johnny Flick, Elmer Mathewson, Christy Smith, Ozzie
Berra, Yogi Ford, Whitey Mays, Willie Smith, Reggie
Blyleven, Bert Foxx, Jimmie McCormick, Jim Snider, Duke
Boggs, Wade Freehan, Bill McCovey, Willie Spahn, Warren
Bonds, Bobby Frisch, Frankie McGinnity, Joe Speaker, Tris
Boudreau, Lou Galvin, Pud McGraw, John Stargell, Willie
Boyer, Ken Gehrig, Lou McGwire, Mark Stieb, Dave
Bresnahan, Roger Gehringer, Charlie McPhee, Bid Stovey, Harry
Brett, George Gibson, Bob Medwick, Joe Sutton, Don
Brouthers, Dan Glasscock, Jack Minoso, Minnie Tanana, Frank
Brown, Kevin Gordon, Joe Mize, Johnny Tenace, Gene
Brown, Mordecai Gore, George Molitor, Paul Terry, Bill
Buffinton, Charlie Goslin, Goose Morgan, Joe Tiant, Luis
Bunning, Jim Gossage, Rich Munson, Thurman Torre, Joe
Burkett, Jesse Greenberg, Hank Murphy, Dale Trammell, Alan
Campanella, Roy Grich, Bobby Murray, Eddie Vance, Dazzy
Carew, Rod Grove, Lefty Musial, Stan Vaughan, Arky
Carlton, Steve Gwynn, Tony Nettles, Graig Ventura, Robin
Carter, Gary Hack, Stan Newhouser, Hal Waddell, Rube
Cedeno, Cesar Hamilton, Billy Nichols, Kid Wagner, Honus
Cey, Ron Hartnett, Gabby Niekro, Phil Walker, Larry
Childs, Cupid Heilmann, Harry Olerud, John Wallace, Bobby
Cicotte, Eddie Henderson, Rickey O'Rourke, Jim Walsh, Ed
Clark, Will Herman, Billy Ott, Mel Waner, Paul
Clarke, Fred Hernandez, Keith Palmeiro, Rafael Ward, Monte
Clarkson, John Hershiser, Orel Palmer, Jim Whitaker, Lou
Clemente, Roberto Hornsby, Rogers Perry, Gaylord White, Deacon
Cobb, Ty Hubbell, Carl Pierce, Billy Wilhelm, Hoyt
Cochrane, Mickey Jackson, Joe Plank, Eddie Williams, Ted
Collins, Eddie Jackson, Larry Porter, Darrell Willis, Vic
Collins, Jimmy Jackson, Reggie Radbourn, Charles Winfield, Dave
Cone, David Jenkins, Fergie Raines, Tim Wood, Wilbur
Connor, Roger Jennings, Hughie Randolph, Willie Wynn, Early
Coveleski, Stan John, Tommy Reese, Pee Wee Wynn, Jim
Crawford, Sam Johnson, Walter Reuschel, Rick Yastrzemski, Carl
Cronin, Joe Kaline, Al Ripken, Cal Young, Cy
Dahlen, Bill Keefe, Tim Roberts, Robin Yount, Robin
Davis, George Keeler, Willie Robinson, Brooks
Davis, Willie Kelley, Joe Robinson, Frank

This entry was posted on Friday, March 18th, 2011 at 11:03 am and is filed under Bloops, Hall of Fame, WAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

108 Responses to “Bloops: The Hall of (Peak-Weighted) WAR”

  1. John Autin Says:

    This is great. When is the induction ceremony? -- I want to come out and cheer my Tigers heroes Whitaker, Trammell & Freehan!

  2. John Autin Says:

    Neil, I think something went awry with the ordering of your table. It seems to be in wWAR order in a newspaper-columns format, except that the last row is off-kilter. Deacon White, Monty Ward and Hoyt Wilhelm are the last 3 entries in Darowski's wWAR-ordered list.

  3. Good to see Santo and Boyer get their recognition, but Rick Reuschel?? Seriously?

  4. #2 - Thanks, I ended up just putting it in alphabetical order.

  5. lol, jack glasscock

  6. Sherry Magee !!!!

  7. What do the following players who are in the real HOF but not on this list have in common:

    Tony Lazzeri, Earle Combs, Herb Pennock, Waite Hoyt, Red Ruffing, Lefty Gomez, Phil Rizzuto

  8. @7 Topper

    They were all Yankees?

    I would give Rizzuto a little bit of a break because he lost 3 years because of WW2 but your point is well taken.

  9. John Autin Says:

    The straight wWAR ranking has a significant flaw in its unfiltered view of pitchers from the 1880s, when it was common for a pitcher to log over two-thirds of his team's innings. In that context, even a modestly above-average performance will register massive WAR, as is the case with Jim McCormick in 1880 (127 ERA+, 9.1 WAR) and '82 (118 ERA+, 9.3 WAR).

    In MLB history, there have been 16 pitcher seasons with WAR of 13 or more. All of them occurred in the 1880s; five of them featured ERA+ of 137 or less.

    Thus, a discounting of 1880s pitcher WAR values seems absolutely necessary in a peak-weighted WAR ranking. But I don't see any evidence that Adam applied such a discount.

    Pitchers of the 1880s will have wWAR-to-WAR ratios that are much higher than normal, because of their inflated peak WAR values. Charlie Buffinton had a WAR of 56.1, but his wWAR is 113.1, a ratio of over 2 to 1; the only three players on Adam's list with ratios over 2 are pitchers centered in the 1880s, as are 8 of the top 15 ratios. This is a distorted view of the peak value of these players.

    These pitchers are also more subject to the distorting effects of their teams' fielding ability. A great defensive team will inflate any pitcher's apparent value -- but the distortion is much bigger when one guy does almost all the pitching.

    I particularly question Adam's inclusion of Jim McCormick, Charlie Buffinton and Pud Galvin, whose wWAR values are as much a product of their times as of their own performance. Furthermore, none of them ever threw a pitch from 60 feet in the major leagues

    P.S. As an aside, McCormick also gets an unwarranted boost from his half-season in the Union Association, which clearly should not be considered a "major league" even if they did have a few legitimate major-league players. (For a general sense of the caliber of play in the U.A., just take a peek at McCormick's NL / UA split in 1884; that is entirely characteristic of good players who spent time in both the UA and the real majors.)

  10. @7

    All Yankees. And of the seven, only Pennock and Ruffing were BBWAA votes rather than Veterans' Committee, and Ruffing was in a run-off election. So the BBWAA wasn't convinced about the worthiness of these players as candidates either.

  11. Maybe if Chuck Finley were in the real HOF his wife wouldn't have beat him up.

  12. Dick Allen, Ron Santo and Ted Simmons oh my!!! But then they blew it with Buddy Bell.

  13. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    Emphasizing peak has the effect of boosting the HOF cases for several pre-1893 pitchers who had short careers, but huge single-season WAR numbers because they could pitch more innings in a year than at any other time in MLB history:
    Charlie BUFFINGTON: 15.4 (587 IP) and 10.1 (400 IP) WAR
    Silver KING: 16.5 (584 IP) and 13.7 (461) WAR
    Jim MCCORMICK (1878-87)

  14. I'd rather visit this HOF plaque room then the actual HOF. There's a lot of my favorite players on this list.

    I think this list is much more representative of the actual top 200 players of all time.

    The only problem are the 19th century pitchers which John A. mentioned in post #9. That would have to be tweaked.

  15. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    Sorry, I must have accidentally hit "submit" while in the midst of composing this, here's the entire comment -

    Emphasizing peak so much has the effect of boosting the HOF cases for several pre-1893 pitchers who had rather short careers, but huge single-season WAR numbers because pitchers could pitch more innings in a year than at any other time in MLB history:

    -Charlie BUFFINGTON (1882-92): 15.4 (587 IP) and 10.1 (400 IP) WAR
    -Silver KING (1886-93, 96-97): 16.5 (584 IP) and 13.7 (461) WAR
    -Jim MCCORMICK (1878-87): 9.1 (657) IP and 9.3 (595 IP) WAR

    It seems as though the 1880's-centered pitchers have an unfair advantage, in being able to pitch 400-650 innings a year. Nichols, Galvin, and Radbourne are legit HOFer's despite that, but I don't recall anyone making a serious HOF case for these three pitchers that I mentioned above.

  16. Mets Maven Says:

    I still don't understand why Wes Ferrell doesn't make this and similar lists. He had an 8-year period (1929-1936) as good as almost any other pitcher in history. He pitched for lousy teams in a hitter's era, but these shouldn't be factors in statistics that are designed to neutralize these factors. Can somebody explain to me why Wes Ferrell's career is so undervalued?

  17. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @9/John Autin - my sincere apolgies for repeating what you said {better than I did...}, I was writing my comment when you posted yours. I agree, there needs to be a discount (in this system) in peak WAR for pre-1893 pitching seasons.

    My only {very slight} disagreement is that I consider Pud Galvin a legitimate HOFer, in the same class as Old Hoss Radbourne.

    @14/John Q - I agree, the "Hall of (Peak-weighted) WAR" is more representative of the Top-200 MLB players than the actual HOF in Cooperstown, mainly due to the exclusion of the poor/nepotistic Veteran's Committee picks. The only major drawback is leaving out Negro League players.

  18. John Autin Says:

    Lawrence A. @17 -- No apology necessary! In fact, my only thought when I saw your post was, "Why did I need 1,000 words to say what he said in one sentence?"

    As for Pud Galvin ... I don't have a strong opinion, but my weak opposition is based on three things: (1) he never pitched from 60 feet; (2) his ERA+ is 108; and (3) he never led his league in any of the major stats (discounting the 1875 N.A. ERA title which he earned with just 8 games).

    The wins totals have to be taken with a grain of salt; for instance, in 1884, Galvin won 46 games -- but that was just 3rd in the NL, behind Radbourne (59) and Buffinton (48). And he had just one full season with ERA+ above 125.

  19. Bill Parks Says:

    Gene Tenace, Sal Bando,Larry Jackson, Rick Reushel, Willie Davis,Reggie Smith, Jerry Koosman???? Decent players, but none were first tier, clearly second level. No matter how you try to twist the stats (and when did WAR become Bible?) -the Hall of Fame should be for Stars, not second tier players. At the time the above guys played I never heard anyone, anytime ever mention any of them as Hall of Fame material.

  20. Galvin certainly not as good as 365 wins would suggest, but that's such a high number that it would be hard to kick him out. I've heard arguments saying Welch doesn't belong, but Galvin usually gets a pass on sheer career value.

    Clicking through the links, it does look like he made some adjustments for 19th century pitchers, but there could have been more I guess. Its really hard to compare pre-1894 pitchers and 20th century pitchers toe-to-toe numerically. Its almost better to just say "I want X number of HOF pitchers from that era" and then treat them as a separate group.

    Wes Ferrell is a very unique candidate. Hotly debated over the years. Much of his value is that he himself was a good hitter. I'm not sure if his hitting numbers got tossed into the mix.

  21. @19
    Decent players, but none were first tier, clearly second level. No matter how you try to twist the stats (and when did WAR become Bible?) -the Hall of Fame should be for Stars, not second tier players. At the time the above guys played I never heard anyone, anytime ever mention any of them as Hall of Fame material.
    Believe it or not. Worse players are actually already in the hall. Bando's better than Kell. And the other guys are better than a myriad of 1920s and 1930s guys who were inducted because they were buddies with Frankie Frisch. As @17 said, kicking out all those guys opens up a lot of new slots.

    That said, some things jump out which are easy for a human to cherry pick. Tenace rarely caught full time. He was more of a C/1B. Hit hitting numbers and career length are less impressive knowing that. Slaughter and Rizzuto got the boot, but they might not be getting credit for going to war. The bar was lowered a bit for 3B to get more balance but he didn't end up finding many between Baker and Mathews anyway (just Hack) but it opened the floodgates for many more recent guys. Not sure if that was the intent.

    A list like this *starts* a discussion, it shouldn't end it. The Hall of Merit project from a few years ago was great that way. They'd slice the data a million different ways but in the end they still had to make human judgements as to who was in and who was out.

  22. @7 They all were winners? You know, if your peak is very good and you time it with other guys to actually WIN, it does count for something.

    You could argue they weren't as great as others and don't belong in the Hall. Fine. I'd basically agree. But I would take winning in reality over winning in analysis any time. And Hall voters, for better or worse (and likely some of both) consistently leaned in the past toward those who actually won.

    I'm not knocking sabermetrics--far from it. If I were a GM, I'd want to know WHY a team won, or if a player helped a team to win or was overrated. And that's where WAR and similar statistics help. They've helped me better understand Jim Rice and Andre Dawson's faults and Bert Blyleven's strengths.

    Thankfully, they don't let that overshadow the greatness of those who didn't win much due to no fault of their own, like Ernie Banks. I'd rather add a few guys who were just very, very good and helped teams win than leave out the guys without titles.

  23. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @18/John Autin@; 20/DavidRF - on Pud Galvin's HOF qualifications:

    I am not a big advocate of "The Little Steam Engine", but eight of his ten Similar Pitchers are in HOF, and another {Greg Maddux} is a total lock. I realize that a lot of this is due to his huge games started /innings pitched totals in some years, but as DavidRF said, it would be hard to justify leaving him out of the HOF.

    There are already a number of marginal 20th century HOF pitchers (Marquard, Hoyt, etc...), so "Gentle Jeems " is well down on the list of HOF pitchers with questionable qualifications.

    @19/ Bill Parks: in any HOF of a couple hundred players, the bottom 10-15% or so are going to look marginal compared to the rest. I would take most of the players you mentioned, over my personal "worst" couple dozen HOFers (let's start with some FOFF*: Jess Haines, George "Highpockets" Kelly, and Freddie Lindstrom...).

    There's no clear dividing line, so someone's got to be at the bottom.

    *FOFF - "friends of Frankie Frisch"

  24. Also, quite a few Yankees there NOT in the Hall. Randolph, Munson, Cone, Nettles.... You never hear non-Yankee fans call for any of them to be in the Hall.

  25. Mets Maven Says:

    In understand that winning isn't everything, but it shouldn't be ignored, either. Here is a chart comparing Ferrell's W/L % to his team's W/L % in the ten years in which he played complete seasons.

    Ferrell Team Over/
    Year W/L % W/L % Under
    1929 0.677 0.533 0.145
    1930 0.658 0.526 0.132
    1931 0.647 0.506 0.141
    1932 0.639 0.572 0.067
    1933 0.478 0.497 -0.018
    1934 0.737 0.500 0.237
    1935 0.641 0.510 0.131
    1936 0.571 0.481 0.091
    1937 0.458 0.477 -0.019
    1938 0.619 0.497 0.122
    0.617 0.510 0.107

    Ferrell's over/under of 0.107 is exceeded only by Alexander & Koufax among post-1900 HOFers, and Pedro M, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, and Roger Clemens among non-HOFers. Pretty select company, I would say!

    His wins probably outshine many of his other stats because he was so able to contribute to his own cause at the plate. This makes him a unique case, but one that, in my opinion, makes him a compelling choice for the HOF.

    One other note--imagine if this guy was on a first division team. A team that woudn't have burned out his arm by the age of 29. He would have been a first ballot HOFer, IMO.

  26. John Autin Says:

    DavidRF @20 -- Could you tell me where you found an adjustment for 1880s pitchers?

    I just calculated Charline Buffinton's wWAR and it comes to 113.1, the same figure Adam has. I don't see any explicit rankings on the website, but the default order in which they are listed is by straight wWAR; thus, Buffinton (113.1) is listed right below Robin Yount (114.1) and Frankie Frisch (113.0).

    What am I missing?

  27. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @24/TheGoof Says: "Also, quite a few Yankees there NOT in the Hall. Randolph, Munson, Cone, Nettles.... You never hear non-Yankee fans call for any of them to be in the Hall."

    Not true, I believe that Willie Randolph and Craig Nettles were elected to Baseball Primer's Hall Of Merit; Munson has his HOF advocates also.

  28. Detroit Michael Says:

    I've read non-Yankee fans make Hall of Fame cases for Willie Randolph, David Cone, and Graig Nettles, but not for Thurman Munson. (I don't even think of Cone as a Yankee but more like a multi-team star.)

  29. Detroit Michael Says:

    I don't know the details, but Adam certainly did make an adjustment to try 19th century pitchers differently. Read the Mickey Welch comment at if you are intersted.

  30. Hello folks. Thanks for the comments! I'm glad to see my little project has sparked some discussion.

    So many things I want to reply to, so I'm going to hit the main ones:

    1800s Pitchers
    The basic cutoff to get into the Hall of wWAR was 69.0 WAR (one of my main goals was making sure the Hall of wWAR had the same number of players as the Hall of Fame. 1800s pitchers had a cutoff of 110.0 wWAR. So, it was MUCH harder to get in. By this measure, I booted Mickey Welch and Clark Griffith while "inducting" McCormick, King, and Buffinton. So, we really only have one more 1800s pitcher than the Hall of Fame. I think that's acceptable, unless you think the "real" Hall already has too many.

    These players weren't first tier!
    As I stated, the goal was to get the same number of players in, for comparison's sake. Not one time has anyone argued that the players I inducted were worse than the ones I took out. So, I'm not inducting lesser players here. It is just a statement that, yes, the Hall of Fame is too big. This is just a "better" Hall than the real one.

    Tenace was a C/1B
    Torre played other positions, too. This is actually reflected in their position adjustment, so it is accounted for. Torre makes it in easily anyway (without any adjustment). Tenace gets in because of the adjustment for catchers. I dropped the catcher baseline from 69.0 wWAR to 50.0 wWAR. But Tenace had 65.5 wWAR, meaning he almost made it without factoring in that he was a catcher. For this reason, he's in, despite a good chunk of time at first base. And I believe he's one of the most underrated players ever.

    Third base

    The bar was lowered a bit for 3B to get more balance

    Actually it wasn't. Not sure where that came from.

    War guys
    Enos Slaughter, Red Ruffing, and Phil Rizzuto would have made it in if not for the War. I feel bad about this, but I made sure to keep this as a 100% objective exercise. Guessing how much value they would have accumulated had they not gone to war didn't jive with that goal.

    Thanks again, all. I'm glad you enjoyed this!

  31. #19

    Gene Tenace, Sal Bando,Larry Jackson, Rick Reushel, Willie Davis,Reggie Smith, Jerry Koosman????

    To that, I say: Tommy McCarthy, Rick Ferrell, George Kelly, Lloyd Waner, Rube Marquard, Jesse Haines, George Kell????

  32. topper009 Says:

    @22, you mean they were all teammates with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and/or Joe Dimaggio. If you were trying to figure out why the 20s/30s Yankees won it was not because of their role players, it was because of the players listed above, obviously.

    @24, those guys along with Mattingly will probably get in, but it will take some time. Ruffing, Hoyt, Combs and Gomez got in from 1967-1972, 30 years after they played. Lazzeri and Rizzuto got in in the 1990s, 50+ years since they played. I would expect by 2040 to see Randolph, Nettles, Mattingly and maybe Munson and Guidry elected in by the VC. I also wouldnt really consider Cone a Yankees like the others.

  33. John Autin Says:

    Mets Maven @25 -- Comparing a pitcher's W% to that of his team isn't as meaningful as you may think. First of all, pitchers' wins and losses themselves are full of distortions. But even if those were completely meaningful, comparing the W% of pitcher and team is not a terribly meaningful exercise. Wes Ferrell's 1930 season helps illustrate why:

    In 1930, Ferrell went 25-13 (.658), while Cleveland's overall record was 81-73 (.526). But when Ferrell pitched, he wasn't accompanied by the rest of the team; he was accompanied by the offense. And the offense was good -- they averaged 5.8 R/G, well over the league average of 5.4. The reason the Indians were only a .526 team is that their defense, outside of Ferrell, was weak; they were last in runs allowed.

    If Cleveland had been league-average in runs allowed, and had the same offense, their W% would have been much higher than it was.

    Furthermore, if you look at Ferrell's game log, it does seem that he got better run support than would be expected, even considering his talents as a hitter. (It was not one of his better years with the bat, by the way -- .297 with no HRs). In 15 of his 25 wins, the Indians scored at least 6 runs; they scored exactly 5 runs in another 4 of his wins.

    All in all, it was a very good (not great) season for Ferrell, and that's reflected in his 6.9 WAR value. I don't really see what is added

    But the quality of the rest of the pitching staff is irrelevant to evaluating Wes Ferrell.

  34. John Autin Says:

    (I left an unfinished sentence there, but I hope I made my point anyway.)

  35. @22 That is a good arguement for Jack Morris. All he did was help his team win, especially in the playoffs.

  36. Mets Maven Says:

    Thank you for the detailed explanation. However, I disagree that Ferrell's 1930 was good but not great. He was 2nd in the league in ERA+ and WAR for Pitchers, which I would rate as a great season (especially considering he was 2nd in both categories to the incredible Lefty Grove).

    BTW, in Ferrell's starts that year, the Indians averaged almost 6.4 R/G. When he didn't start, the Indians averaged 5.6 R/G. Didn't hurt to have another bat in the lineup!

  37. John Autin Says:

    Adam @30 -- Thanks for the original work, and thanks for clarifying.

    I'm glad that you set the wWAR bar much higher for 1880s pitchers. But given the enormous wWAR values those pitchers were able to post in a single season, I think there are some cases where you just have to hit the "manual override" button.

    For example, Charlie Buffinton's wWAR for 1884 alone was 37.2 -- almost 1/3 of his career wWAR total. I submit that it's absurd to take that number at face value. The 1884 season was one of the most extreme in MLB history in terms of individual pitchers' IP. Buffinton's 587 IP ranked just 3rd in an 8-team league in which most teams used a primary pitcher. Buffinton led the league in nothing; Hoss Radbourne was the dominant pitcher. Buffinton ranked 7th in league ERA.

    Four "big seasons" make up 86% of Buffinton's career wWAR value: 1884 (37.2), 1888 (21.3), 1889 (20.1) and 1891 (18.9). The 1891 club won the pennant (with George Haddock, not Buffinton, as the #1 pitcher); the other three teams finished at least 10 games back, and in none of those years (or ever in his career) did Buffinton lead the league in any major stat.

    Stating it more generally ... Why are peak seasons important? Why is Sandy Koufax worthy of the Hall of Fame? Because big peaks often lead to championships. But in a league context that is so severely biased in favor of producing big pitcher numbers, the correlation between championships and (what appear to be) big seasons breaks down. Pud Galvin in 1884 had a 19.1 WAR and thus a wWAR of 48.3 -- but his team finished 3rd, 19.5 games back. In this sort of context, the whole exercise of weighted WAR begins sliding towards meaninglessness.

  38. John Autin Says:

    P.S. to #37 -- I meant to add:

    It's not enough to set the wWAR bar higher for 1880s pitchers, because as long as they meet that standard, their entire body of wWAR numbers stands at face value. You also have to take some of the air out of those numbers.

  39. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @37,@38 - of the 75 pitchers with a single-season WAR 0f 10.00 or better, only 19 were after 1900, and only 12 were 1920 or later. That would reduce the utility of using WAR for peak value of 19th century pitchers, and especially pre-1893 (you have to go down to #17 to find a season with a 60' 6" pitching distance).

  40. John Autin Says:

    Adam (if you're still checking in) -- I have a bad habit of criticizing relatively minor details. It's a very nice piece of work, and much appreciated. Thanks again.

  41. Any chance of seeing Wins Above Excellence and Wins Above MVP in the Leader-board section?

    Or how about Weighted Sum WAR on the leader-board section as well?

    It would be kind of interesting to see where different players rank.

  42. Like to see "Piano Legs" Gore making the cut.

  43. mccombe35 Says:

    Good to see these wsox players that aren' tin the HOF getting some pub...

    Billy Pierce
    Minnie Minoso
    Dick Allen
    Tim Raines
    Robin Ventura

  44. I am surprised that Heinie Manush didn't made the cut. He always had great batting averages and led the AL in hits a couple of times, plus he was a better-than-avergae defensive OF.

  45. @26
    It looks like the 19th century position adjustment was not in the calculation of wWAR but in the determination of the in/out line. Read here:

    It looks like that wasn't quite enough. In my opinion, its probably best to decide how many pre-1894 pitchers you want and deal with them separately.

  46. @30
    Re: my comment about different line for 3B. I inferred that from your article here:

    "I'm going to adjust for position. The current Hall has an embarrassingly low number of third baseman.... While I'm not going to ensure every position is represented by the exact same number of players, I will make an effort to fill any gaps."

    If you didn't change the in/out line based on career position as I inferred then apologies for making the mistaken inference.

  47. Are there any of the true greats missing from this list (besides Hack Wilson)? It seems to me that it is the players that we often argue about that change on this list.

    About time Nettles got some recognition.

    Willie Randolph, really? I always thought he was under-rated, but surprised by this.

    Remembering back to the Olerud/Mattingly debate, I notice that Olerud is on this list and Mattingly is not. I still like Donnie Baseball better.

  48. Re: Tenace
    I hear your point and I agree Tenace is one of the most underrated players ever. I'm actually a big Tenace fan so I don't mean to knock him.

    I think there's a difference between him in Torre in that C/1B is a much larger split than C/3B and that his career is quite a bit shorter. Plus Torre was a full time catcher who switched. Tenace was multi-positional from the start. Bats (or bats and walks) like his are quite a premium at Catcher but not so much at 1B. Multi-positional guys are tough.

    We looked long and hard at Tenace in the HOM, but in the end we concluded there just wasn't enough career there. He was only a regular for eight seasons. If your metric is set to weigh peak value more then I guess its understandable that you would rank him a bit higher.

  49. #40 (and others) John Autin ... yes, still checking in. Love these comments, thanks!

    I hear ya about the 1800s pitchers. Regarding:

    I think there are some cases where you just have to hit the "manual override" button.

    My #1 goal was to *not* use a manual override. I just wanted to see what a Hall would look like built from this one stat that I've come to love. I know it's not flawless, but I'm thrilled that it's better than the existing Hall.

    Is this project "done"? I don't know. There have been some good critiques of the system. I think the one that might make most sense could really help the 1800s pitcher situation. Perhaps the WAE and WAM numbers shouldn't be the same for every player in history.

    Perhaps it needs to be a rolling era- and role-specific (pos. player vs. pitcher) figure. This makes for some tougher computation, but could lead to a better result.

    I could also better handle the differences in schedule length.

    Over at Beyond the Box Score, many readers have debated whether or not I should include a pitcher's hitting stats. For example, Red Ruffing and Bob Lemon get big boosts. Someone like Koufax loses a good amount of value (not just in WAR, but it also cuts down his WAE and WAM). What do you guys think?

    Keep 'em coming. Lots of comments to reply to here and I'll get to them!

  50. #41 John Q said

    Any chance of seeing Wins Above Excellence and Wins Above MVP in the Leader-board section?

    I noticed it's been added to the new Elo-Rater.

  51. #44 Gary

    I am surprised that Heinie Manush didn't made the cut. He always had great batting averages and led the AL in hits a couple of times, plus he was a better-than-avergae defensive OF.

    Manush had the batting averages, yes. But he didn't walk and he didn't hit for power. While he still rates as a +241 hitter, he rates as an average outfielder. As a corner outfielder (he takes a big position adjustment hit), that doesn't quite cut it.

  52. #46 DavidRF: Ah, I see. That was just to illustrate the point that the current Hall has a crazy-small number of third baseman. I mentioned that I would adjust, but didn't mean that I would for third basemen. Sorry that was unclear.

    Where I made adjustments:
    - set a lower bar for catchers
    - set a lower bar for relief pitchers
    - set a higher bar for 1B/LF/RF/DH
    - (that leaves 2B/3B/SS/CF/SP as having the standard baseline)

  53. I understand he'd take a big positional hit, but I'm just really surprised that Frank Thomas isn't in. I would think that, factoring his 1991-1994 peak, he would be really high up. Again, as Adam mentioned above, I wonder if some of this comes from how strike seasons are accounted. But anyway, that's the biggest surprise for me, by far.

  54. @53 Dr. Doom,

    I would think that F. Thomas isn't on this list because he's not eligible for the HOF. I don't see Biggio, Piazza, Glavine, Maddux, Schilling, Mussina, Schilling, Pedro, R. Johnson, Smoltz, Clemmens or Bonds either.

  55. Yes, Dr. Doom. On each individual post, I did a "Who's Next" list of players who have already met the criteria, but are not yet eligible. Those players are:

    C: Piazza, Rodriguez, Mauer (yes, already!), Posada
    1B: Pujols, Thome, Helton, Giambi
    2B: Biggio, Kent
    3B: Jones, Rolen
    SS: Rodriguez, Jeter, Garciaparra
    LF: Bonds, Ramirez
    CF: Griffey, Edmonds, Jones, Lofton, Beltran
    RF: Sosa, Sheffield, Guerrero, Ichiro, Abreu
    DH: Thomas
    P: Clemens, Johnson, Maddux, Martinez, Mussina, Schilling, Glavine, Halladay, Smoltz, Rivera

  56. Yeah, sorry all. I regretted that post as soon as I made it. Now, looking at the others in post 55, I feel quite sheepish. I guess it's just that Bagwell and Thomas are so joined in my mind (the position/birthday/1994-MVP thing) that it's weird to see one without the other.

    @Adam - I was really curious, so thanks for that post. I'm really surprised by Mauer, obviously, and Halladay. And maybe this will allow some of us to historically re-evaluate Nomar. I've been thinking for a while that he needs a second look from all of us, since he shone so brightly, but faded so fast.

  57. Bobby Abreu... heh. He won't ever make it. The people who loved him hated him when he became a Yankee. And too many Yankee fans didn't like him, either (darn shame).

    Great stuff for discussion here, Adam. I mean, some of those guys instinctively bring out a "No way!" reaction, others an "Of course!" It's funny the things you notice when you re-evaluate a player, especially one you were so fond of for years.

    Yeah, I admit it's hard to walk away from my support of Jack Morris through the years, but it's time to concede. Not on Whitaker or Trammell, though!

  58. That's as goofy a HOF as the one we actually have. Darrell Porter???


  60. #58

    That's as goofy a HOF as the one we actually have. Darrell Porter???

    Yeah, I think that's the strangest choice this system made. I'd much rather go with Wally Schang, who was right behind Porter. But other than Porter... are there any weird selections? I really don't think so.

  61. Darrell Porter was a terrific and underrated catcher. He was played most of his career in the mid-west playing above average defense with great on base ability with decent power. He never really received as much attention as he should have. I think Bill James ranked him around 18th all time in his 2001 historical abstract. He's 14th all time among catchers in WAR (Minimum 75% played at catcher's position). He had a .378 career post season on base percentage and won the 1982 NLCS & WS MVP awards. I don't think it's he's unworthy to be on this list.

    Whitey Herzog was smart enough to acquire Porter twice with the Royals and Cardinals.

    Daryl Porter's 1979 season was one of the best seasons ever by a catcher. He led the league in Walks and Times on Base and had a .421 on base percentage to go along with his above average defense and a .484 slugging percentage. Porter's .421 on base percentage in 1979 is the 13th best on-base season by a Catcher in Baseball History (Minimum 502 plate appearances). Porter is also the only catcher in baseball history to lead the league in "Times On Base" with 284 in 1979.

    He also has the record for Walks in Season by a Catcher in 1979 with 121 (Minimum 75% games played at catcher).

  62. Mickey John Says:

    Interesting argument: Kevin Appier, Buddy Bell, Bobby Bonds, Ken Boyer, Kevin Brown, and many others on this list in now way are worthy of HOF consideration. On the other hand, Alan Trammel, Lou Whitaker, Joe Torre, Ron Santo, and Luis Tiant merit greater consideration. WAR can be deceiving, as it isn't an accurate reflection of longevity, leadership, performance in the clutch, defensive ability, or many other intangibles. Gene Tenace in the HOF? C'mon man!

  63. Mike Felber Says:

    There are flaws with WAR, but if its components are accurate, then it will tell how much value added up over time, so longevity is a huge part of it. And peak WAR =must be considered. Defense is a big flaw, but most "intangibles" do not really exist. Clutch hitting can be shown to be very rarely there, if there is enough of a sample size, almost all performance regresses to that player's mean. Any small sample size will typically vary randomly due to chance.

    We nedd arguments for or against someone, not 'c'mon man" preconceptions. Many thought Morris worthy, at least Tigers fans, but a review shows he was a good pitchers at his peak, never dominant over a season, his peak was not HOF worthy, neither ere his career accomplishments near good enough. 105 career ERA +, WITH excellent defenses behind him. He had great runs support, any good pitcher in his position, would have done as well, AND when you break down his game to a granular level, he did NOT "pitch to the score". A dubious endorsement anyway, not trying as hard when the game's outcome has less certainty.

    Even if he WAS great in the post season, there is no way those few games should get him in the HOF But he was NOT special overall then-he had a legendary game. He blew other big games. His post season ERA, is 3.80. With the good gloves behind him. Before the offensive explosion of the mid '90's.

  64. "Intangibles" can be more than a player's mere playing abilities.

    In my opinion, Hack Wilson belongs in the hall despite his short career, and despite his below HOF standards WAR, because of his story and the fact that he put up the numbers he did even though he was only five feet six and struggled with personal and alcohol problems. No other player only five feet six ever hit 30 HR's and 100 RBI--Wilson did it four times.

    Ralph Kiner belongs in the HOF because he led the league seven years in a row in HR's.

    I don't know that either of those guys was a great player statistically compared to others; they are not on this new list. But they were and are famous. That's an intangible.

  65. Mike Felber Says:

    The HRs of Kiner are tangible, part of his peak value. Most do not think that the "intangible" of fame should be a qualification for the Hall. Fame is often a byproduct of things that should get you in. That it is called the Hall of Fame does not mean that this was intended to be in itself a standard for admission, nor is it in the bylaws.

    If their ""fame" itself reflects something else that benefits the game & is a standard at least referred to in the bylaws, like character, then I might well put a guy in who was only near borderline. Wilson's stats reflect largely era & ballpark too-but even if he was 4'10", it should be asked that he played well enough to deserve the Hall.

    If he had been able to handle his personal & alcohol issues better, then he likely would have put up an HOF career. Not that he would be expected to: this was before the days of AA & therapy all over. he deserves our respect & compassion, but not the HOF. If we set the standard that way, would have, sympathy votes, what if...that slippery slope could end up with Bob Ueker in the Hall!

    He was "handicapped" due to lack of talent, did his best, contributed after done as a player, & became famous!

  66. Admit it, everyone. You're surprised not to see Jim Rice on the above list. đŸ˜‰

  67. @Adam, if you're still checking...

    On the site, when I sort by the regular "WAR" column, for some reason, it doesn't sort right. All of the other columns work fine, but when I try to sort by largest WAR, the numbers over 100 shoot to the bottom. Just thought I'd let you know.

  68. Mickey John Says:

    @63 Mike Felber: It's called common sense and the eyeball test that comes with watching a lot of baseball over a long period of time and having an understanding of the game! You attack my use of the phrase "c'mon man" in reference to Gene Tenace? That one is obvious, but you want a case?

    Gene Tenace: Career Avg (.241) , Career Hits (1060) , Career HR (201) , Career RBI (674) , All-Star Selections (1) , Gold Gloves (0)

    Career High HR (29), Career High RBI (87), Career High Hits (132)

    162 Game Avg: Hits (110), HR (20), RBI (70)

    Career Postseason: Games (42), Hits (18), Batting Avg (.158)

    Gene Tenace in the HOF? C'mon man!

  69. @68 Mickey John,

    You left out a great deal of information about Gene Tenace and you cherry picked certain information to make your case against Gene Tenace.

    First Off, Tenace played about 60% of his career as a Catcher so you have to put his offensive numbers in the context of a player playing the most difficult defensive position.

    Secondly, Tenace played 90% of his career in two of the worst Hitter's parks (Oakland & Jack Murphy) in baseball.

    Thirdly, We now know that Batting Avg. and RBi are extremely overrated stats while On-Base percentage is still a relatively underrated stat.

    Fourthly, All Star Game selections are not a good way to judge a player. John Stearns went to 4 all star games, it doesn't mean he was a great player or even a good player.

    Gene Tenace had a career .388 On Base Percentage which is excellent. To put that in context he has the 4th highest career on base percentage among catchers in bb history.

    Again to put that in context .388 is Higher than about 100 HOF players including: Aaron, Mays, Schmidt, Yaz, Lajoie, Snider, Molitor, Clemente, Stargell, Bench, Campenella, Carter, Dickey, Kaline, Winfield and Dawson.

    He had very good power as well as evidenced by his Career 136 ops+ is tied for the 2nd highest among catchers in BB history. Mike Piazza is the only catcher with a higher ops+ in baseball history.

    You make his HR totals sound small. Again to put it in context he was only one of 9 catchers to have over 200 HR when he retired in 1983. His 201 total was 8th all time among catcher when he retired in 1983. It's even more amazing when you thing he did this playing in Oakland and San Diego.

    Tenace's 29 HR in 1975 was the 18th highest single season total for a catcher up until that point (1876-1975). Mind you he did that in one of the worst hitter's parks in baseball.

    Tenace hold's the record for Walks in a season by a catcher (50% played as Catcher) with 125 in 1977. When he retired he held 6 of the top ten all time Walk seasons by a catcher.

    His .415 on base percentage in 1977 was the 12th best by a catcher up until that point (1876-1977)

    As far as a post-season player overall he wasn't very good but you conveniently left out the part where he was the MVP of the 1972 World Series.

    Tenace's problem is that he had a relatively short career (5525 plate appearances) because he only became a full time player when he was 26 years old. Also his great skill of on-base percentage is only now being recognized for how valuable a skill it is.

  70. I have written before about Reuschel being good enough for the Hall

  71. Mickey John Says:

    Who's NOT in "The Hall of (Peak-Weighted) WAR"?

    Catfish Hunter: Consecutive 20 Win Seasons (5), Cy Young Award (1), All-Star Selections (8), Led League Leader in Major Categories (11)
    Move over Catfish and make room for:

    Jerry Koosman: 20 Win Seasons (2), 20 Loss Seasons (1), Cy Young Award (0), All-Star Selections (2), Led League in Losses (2)

    Tony Perez: Take your (2732) Career Hits, (1652) Career RBI, (379) Career HR, Seven (100) RBI Seasons, Eleven (90) RBI Seasons, (7) All-Star Selections, and make room for:

    Jon Olerud: (2239) Career Hits, (1230) Career RBI, (255) Career HR, Four (100) RBI Seasons, Seven (90) RBI Seasons, (2) All-Star Selections

  72. Mickey

    Wins mean nothing. Hunter pitched for a good team in a tough hitters park. I think we should adjust for those factors. Do you?

    Here is a comparison of Hunter and Reuschel

    Hunter 3449
    Reuschel 3548

    HRs allowed relative to league average
    Hunter 1.29 HRs for every one an average pitcher allowed
    Reuschel .78

    (and Reuschel pitched mainly in Wrigley!!!!!!!)

    SO/BB ratio relative to league average
    Hunter 1.29
    Reuschel 1.31

    In the things that matter that the pitcher can control, HRs, SOs, BBs, Reuschel beats Hunter who probably had better parks to pitch in and Reuschel still had more career IP. This is a no brainer.


  73. Mickey John Says:

    @69 John Q: I picked what I believe to be the most relevant numbers concerning Tenace's career. Where do you draw the line when the full body of work is only a click away. The .241 Career BA and 1060 Career Hits are the most telling of the fact that he isn't HOF worthy. I'm not overly impressed with his .388 Career OBP, in fact, I think that too much value is placed on OBP. Johnny Bench had a .342 Career OBP, and it doesn't mean a thing when you look at the damage he did. Bench was a starting catcher 1627 times in his career, as opposed to Tenace's 759. Tenace's career body of work don't come close to other HOF catchers. Again, I'm not going to list every single stat here because all the stats are only a few clicks away, but check out the numbers on these catchers, some of whom are in the HOF, some of whom are not, and it becomes very obvious that Tenace doesn't even belong in the discussion. Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Lance Parrish, Carlton Fisk, Ted Simmons, Gary Carter, and Joe Torre. Parrish, Simmons, and Torre aren't in the Hall, and their numbers are by far superior to Tenace's from top to bottom. Bottom line John, do you sincerely think that Gene Tenace is HOF material?

  74. Mickey

    You say

    "The .241 Career BA and 1060 Career Hits are the most telling" Why?


    'I think that too much value is placed on OBP" How much value should be placed on it? It seems like us stat geeks have found that OBP is worth about 70-80% more. If you think it is different, say why.

    Don't forget Tenace played in tough hitter's parks. Please don't penalize him for something that was not his fault

    I agree that number of career games caught is important. When saying who was the greatest whatever, the less they played that position, the lower they should rank for that position, holding everything else constant.


  75. I meant 7080% more than SLG

  76. Mickey John Says:

    @Cy: The Innings Pitched stat is skewed by the fact that Hunter's career was over at age 33 due to the onset of ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), whereas Reuschel pitched until he was 42. As for the teams and ballparks, Fergie Jenkins ran off 6 straight 20 win seasons in the same Wrigley that Reuschel pitched in for a decade or so. I'm looking at the total body of work, but on top of that I consider outstanding achievements. With Hunter I see the 5 straight 20 win seasons, the CY Award, the 25 and 23 win seasons respectively, and the ERA title. With Reuschel I see one 20 win season and 7 seasons in which he had a losing record. No offense Cy, but if you put Reuschel in the HOF you'll have to put dozens of others with similar stats in.

  77. Mickey John Says:

    @Cy: In response to why I don't put a lot of stock in OBP, I thought that the simple fact that Tenace's career OBP of .388 compared with a true Hall of Famer in Johnny Bench's career OBP of .342 said enough about the fact that OBP alone is a poor indicator of overall offensive output. You ask why a .241 career BA and 1060 hits isn't enough? Why? Because those numbers don't come close to the list of catchers I presented, three of whom aren't in the HOF. You place a great premium on OBP; why? Do you think that Tenace belong in the Hall? Why?

  78. Jenkins won those 20 games 6 times when the Cubs were much better.

    Hunter died when he was 53. Did he have ALS for 20 years? I don't recall anyone ever saying before that ALS was the reason Hunter retired.

    Again, you mention Reuschel's losing seasons and we know that ptichers don't have as much control over that as they do over SOs, BBs, and HRs.

    No, we don't have to put other guys in because Reuschel might get in. Read my essay and you will see how high he ranks in things that pitchers control. He is 30th in career WAR for pitchers. I think that is good enough for the Hall

  79. Why do I like OBP? Because it is much more highly correlated with run scoring than AVG. Countless studies have shown this. Even Branch Rickey thougth OBP was more important than AVG.

    So I don't believe that hits and AVG matter as much as OBP and SLG. I am not sure Tenace should be in the Hall of Fame. But a low AVG is no reason to keep him out. Helped his team score runs. And I guess you do want to penalize him for playing in tough hitters parks

  80. Mickey John Says:

    I'm not penalizing Tenace for playing in the same parks as Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando, Mark McGuire, Jose Canseco, Steve Garvey, Dave Winfield, and Tony Gwynn. It's that his numbers don't compare. For a seven year period he was good, but not great. Hardly worthy of HOF consideration.

    Forgive my statement about Hunter's ALS being what cut his career short. It was complications from diabetes, and then 20 years later he died of ALS, which is a progressive degenerative disease. Poor guy had bad luck when it came to health issues, but the fact remains that his career was cut short due to factors beyond his control. Still, the body of work far surpasses that of Reuschel.

    My problem with OBP is that a BB, FC, SAC, HBP, etc. carries the same value as a HR, bases clearing triple or double, 2-run single, etc. Ever see someone score from second on a walk unless there was a passed ball or some other freaky event? How often do runners score from second on a single? Quite often. OBP can be very deceiving. It applies to the Jackie Robinson's, Ricky Henderson's and other table setters, or the real mashers like Ruth, Williams, etal, that pitchers are afraid to pitch to.

  81. Just because Tenace played in the same park as Jackson, etc, does not mean that his overall numbers were not hurt by playing in those parks. It means that everyone's numbers were hurt. I certainly am not saying that Tenace was as good as Jackson. It is just that park effects should be accounted for.

    Yes, a HR counts just as much as a BB in OBP. But where do I say that OBP is the only number to look at? Tenace had power, too.

    In some ways, Tenace's numbers do compare. Let's just look at road numbers. Tenace had a AVG-OBP-SLG of .244-.384-.441. Bench had .263-.335-.466.

    Tenace beats him by a wide margin in OBP. If we rate each guy by 1.7*OBP + SLG, Tenace has 1.094. Bench has 1.036.

    There is also a stat called isolated power, or SLG-AVG, which his extra bases divided by ABs. It is stat used by Branch Rickey. Tenace had .197 in road games while Bench had .203. They are nearly identical.

    If you flip around OBP and call it out pct, Tenace only made an out 61.6% of the time while Bench did so 66.5% of the time. Bill James said a hitter should try to create runs in the context of outs. By making many fewer outs, Tenace was a big help to his team's offense.

    Even using their total performance, in 1.7*OBP + SLG,Tenace had 1.089 while Bench had 1.057.

    Using the more sophisticated Offensive Winning Percentage of Bill James (and I use the one reported by Lee Sinins, which is park adjusted), Tenace had .670 while Bench had .595. Tenace's three best years in full seasons were .732-.714-.693. Bench had .731-.675-.659.

  82. @Dr. Doom: Yep, still reading and I'm actually aware of that bug and sunk a lot of time into figuring it out. Still trying though. For some reason, it's sorting that column alphabetically instead of numerically.

  83. Ah, Gene Tenace. Great to see him causing some back-and-forth.

    Catchers are an interesting group. Right now, just 13 of the 143 position players in the Hall of Fame are catchers. How many deserve it? Well, I've never seen a good case for Ray Schalk or Rick Ferrell. While Ernie Lombardi was booted from the Hall of wWAR, I could see how people would support him (batting titles, woooo!).

    It seems as though the group of catchers everyone agrees should be in the Hall are:

    That's nine.

    Personally, I don't see any legitimate way someone could argue against the induction of Joe Torre and Ted Simmons. They are among the top ten to twelve all time at their position, and should be inducted. The fact that they're not in is ludicrous.

    That's eleven. Still not a lot.

    Beyond that, the Hall of Fame has Lombardi, Bresnahan, Schalk, and Ferrell. I lean towards Tenace, Munson, and Freehan. I like my list a lot better.

    The Hall of wWAR welcomes Bresnahan in as well (and also takes Darrell Porter, who I can't say I support).

    But here's the thing. If you think catchers are generally weaker players and don't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, then Tenace doesn't belong. If you believe that catchers should catch a break for playing the position they do, you have to consider Tenace. He's certainly among the top 15 at his position all time.

    This man posted a ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY SIX OPS+. It's a shame he didn't get more playing time because people were confused about his value. But the fact is, he still put together what I believe is a Hall of Fame career in the playing time he was given.

    When I first started researching WAR and catchers, I was taken aback by Tenace. But the more I've dug into WHY he is rated so highly, I've discovered that he does indeed belong in the Hall of Fame.

    So yes. The Hall of wWAR can pick some guys like Porter who I wouldn't jump at the chance to put in my Hall of Fame. But one of the most satisfying parts of this project was being able to "induct" Tenace along with Freehan and Munson. They all deserve it.

    I'm just bummed I wasn't able to get Wally Schang in there. But if I did some more era adjustments, I bet he might jump ahead of Porter.

  84. Thanks for continuing to work on that bug, Adam. Really enjoyed your list.

    As for Lombardi supporters, I've been a big Ernie Lombardi fan ever since the NBJHBA had a long article on him. He seems like such an interesting person, and, if the stories are to be believed, may have had the best bat control of all time. He was one I was disappointed to see left out.

    Additionally, I was a little sad to see Kirby Puckett booted, thought I understand much of the reasoning. The one that surprised me most of all was Billy Williams. I mean, he's not one you often hear people complaining about - either the "statheads" or the "anti-statheads." Both groups seem pretty comfortable with him in there. If I'm correct, though, he *just* missed being the last LF in the Hall of wWAR. Am I correct in that assessment?

    Finally, it's hilarious that, above, Mickey notes that, in OBP, a single and a home run are equal. IT'S THE SAME IN BATTING AVERAGE. It always has been. OBP is a better stat than batting average, and using circular logic to prove that it isn't (I don't support Tenace, even though he has a high OBP, but that doesn't matter because it's a bad stat, because I don't support Tenace), is just bad reasoning. Now, I've never been a pro-Tenace guy, but I'm willing to listen.

    Anyway, loving the discussion. The Hall of Fame always brings out the best in people's comments.

  85. Doom,

    Yes, Billy Williams *just* missed. He and Ralph Kiner were the most surprising omissions to me. Whitey Ford actually *just* made it in, and that was shocking, too.

    There's no doubting Lombari's bat. What WAR does it turn folktales of Lombari's baserunning into actual metrics. Here' my bit on him from the induction posts:

    Ernie Lombardi: A career .306 hitter with a pair of batting titles (the only catcher to achieve this until Joe Mauer came along)? How does he get bumped? It's true—Ernie Lombardi was a very good hitter (for a catcher). He loses a couple of wins defensively, but that's somewhat expected for a great-hitting catcher. Lombardi's speed—or lack thereof—is legendary. It seems that with Hall of Fame voting, something like horrendous baserunning is just shrugged off because it is not reflected in raw stats (sure he got fewer infield hits and legged out fewer doubles, but bad baserunning affects things more deeply than that). WAR takes this stuff seriously, docking Lombardi 41 runs for his baserunning. As he was worth 191 runs with his bat, he gives back over 21% of his offensive value by running so poorly. And that is what bumps him from the Hall of wWAR.

    Similarly, I did a post a while back on how Jim Rice gave back 16.5% of his value just by grounding into double plays. This stuff hurts.

    This is why the most underrated players are the guys who did everything well. WAR brings these players to light.

  86. Mickey John Says:

    @Adam: You stated: "If you believe that catchers should catch a break for playing the position they do, you have to consider Tenace. He's certainly among the top 15 at his position all time."

    I agree that catchers deserve a break for playing the position that they do.

    Please note the number of games started per season during his peak years (1973-1981). 1973 (23)
    1974 (58)
    1975 (114)
    1976 (61)
    1977 (89)
    1978 (56)
    1979 (77)
    1980 (82)

    Given the fact that he was never an everyday starting catcher, does Gene Tenace still deserve the break afforded to catchers who typically log 125 or more starts per season?

  87. By wWAR, he just about reached the baseline to get him into the Hall of wWAR without any positional adjustment at all. That's the thing, he was SO. DAMN. VALUABLE. even without considering he was a catcher. Seriously, .388? For that era? In those parks?

    I don't give him a ton of credit because of the time also spent at first base. But he did catch a decent amount and I still give him some credit for that.

    From a non-objective level, I feel he'd get a lot more playing time in this era. For that reason, I do believe he should be in the Hall of Fame. Part of me wants to push for guys like Lance Parrish over Tenace. But one serious look at the stats makes that impossible.

    We have era- and park-adjustments now. Those things are real.

  88. Tenace was about a 60% catcher during his career so you have to look at him that way. I think what hurts Tenace is that the A's screwed up the first part of his career by making him a part time player. He didn't become a full time player until he was 26 years old. From 1969-1972 he basically shared the catching duties with Dave Duncan.

    I was kind of surprised to find that Tenace only had about 5200 big league plate appearances.

    The thing I always remember about Tenace was playing Strat-O-Matic back in the late 70's-early 80's and how valuable the Gene Tenace card was.

  89. Adam,

    Overall I think this is excellent but I have a couple of questions.

    B. Williams & Kiner seem like odd omissions to me. Williams had a 77 WWAR and Kiner had a 72.1 WWAR. Both scores seem like they would be enough so why the omission? Was the baseline set higher for Left Fielders? If so why? I can understand lowering the baseline for 19th century players or 154 game schedule players. I can understand lowering the baseline for catchers or relief pitchers but I can't rationalize lowering the baseline for 3b, 2b, Cf, and SS and raising the baseline for LF, Rf. and 1B. WAR already makes positional adjustments for those positions so why an additional adjustment?

    Why not just have a set baseline cut-off 70.0 or 69.0 or 68.0 WWAR for all positions (162 game schedule) except catcher?

    There's quite a few players with the same or Less WWAR than B. Williams and a few that I found with less WWAR than Kiner:

    D. Evans-77
    J. Collins-76.2
    W. Davis-76.2

    Norm Cash also seems like another interesting omission. He had a 71.1 WWAR and didn't make the cut.

    Jim Fregosi is another interesting omission. He had a 68.9, was the baseline at SS 69.0? That's pretty tough to miss by 1/10 of a WAR.

    Jack Clark seems like a near miss as well, 68.5 WWAR.

  90. Sure, John. I'm not comfortable with a Hall of Fame that has considerably more 1B, LF, and RF than other positions. They are less demanding positions to play and therefore lead to longer careers. I felt that needed to be adjusted, so they have a higher baseline. That's why guys like Williams, Kiner, and Cash miss out.

    Even after this adjustment, 1B, RF, and LF are *still* the most heavily populated positions. Not by as much now, though.

    You're right that Jim Fregosi came ridiculously close. Ridiculously. But this is an objective exercise and 69.0 WAR with the adjustments I used ended up putting the exact same number of players in as there currently are. If I put Fregosi in, I'd have to change things around again. One of the main goals was getting the exact same number of people as the current Hall so we could truly compare.

    Besides, with the anti-Tenace comments so far, imagine what the reaction would be to Jack Clark. :)

  91. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    Adam D. - this is a GREAT idea; the fact that I (and others) criticize particular players, does not mean that I (and others) don't appreciate your wWAR Hall of Fame a lot. The actual HOF in Cooperstown has a larger number of questinable choices. In any list of merit, the "borderline" selections will by definition be considered questionable.

    GENE TRENACE - As much as I think that Gene Tenace is underrated, there is no way that I would put him ahead of Ted Simmons, Joe Torre, or Bill Freehan for the HOF. Tenace's career is just too short, consisting mostly of eight full years, when he caught over a hundred games just once. He is closer to the HOF than most people realize, but shouldn't get the full "full-time catcher" bonus.

    @68/ Mickey John and the "eyeball test"- The eyeball test is a decent (if flawed) starting point for evaluating current players, or going back several decades. However, for long-term historical purposes, it is of very limited value, bacause of the imperfections and subjectiveness of the human memory.

    First of all, it is literally impossible for anyone to have lived long enough to have seen the entire history of MLB. The major leagues started about 125 years ago, and if one were their early eighties, they would've seen a little over half of that (since c. 1940). There is almost no one alive who actually saw the deadball-era stars in their prime. Plus, most fans follow only one team in any year, so they get limited exposure to the players on the other teams (less true pre-expansion), and esp. the other league.

    More recent comparisons can also suffer in the memory, because of vast differences in eras and parks. At some point it becomes necessary to base comparisons on mainly statistical analysis. Even the best-known comparisons of the biggest stars, such as Clemens-Maddux, Clemente-Kaline, or Mantle-Mays, will need statistical adjustments to "level the playing field" between them. That's what makes it fun, right?

  92. Adam,

    It seems like a 78 baseline for a left fielder is excessive. They're already penalized along with RF, 1B in the defensive adjustment section of WAR so I don't see why they should penalized a second time. A 78 baseline for LF while 3b is only at 69 seems like an very excessive difference. Ron Cey getting in with a 69.2 while B. Williams didn't with a 77 doesn't seem to make much sense.

    What was the baseline for starting pitchers, 69?

    It seems like Mark Langston and Dwight Gooden just missed. Langston had a 68.4 and Gooden finished at 67.7.

    Could you please post all the baselines? thanks.

  93. Without these adjustments, we'd have way too many 1B/LF/RF, which is a problem with the existing Hall.

    Basic: 69.0+ wWAR (Pitchers and Pos. Players)
    RP: 40.0+ wWAR
    C: 50.0+ wWAR
    1B/LF/RF: 78.0+ wWAR

  94. @93 -

    How do you handle Eckersley/Smoltz and/or others who split time between starting and relieving?

  95. topper009 Says:

    @93, it is your opinion that there are too many 1B/LF/RF in the HOF, it is not some fact. I would prefer that the HOF is full of elite hitters since that is what baseball is about.

    Also WAR already has a positional adjustment which allows for that single stat to be used to compare across eras and position. Why do you think the positional adjustment is not drastic enough? Is it only because in your opinion it causes too many 1B/LF/RF to populate the WAR leaderboard?

    How did you decide at 3 and 6 for the cutoff levels of WAE and WAM? They seem pretty arbitrary. Could you easily show a list of the additions/subtractions to your HOF if you changed WAE to 4? If we are talking about the HOF I feel like giving someone extra credit for a 3.5 season is too low of a standard. Or if you are too concerned that WAR is too much of a counting stat (which I am as well, see Phil Neikro T-8 alltime for pitchers) you could just do WAR/PA or WAR/IP.

  96. @Adam, #90.

    Given the amount of emphasis placed on stats around this blog, I am surprised to see your comment go by un-attacked that you're, "not comfortable with a Hall of Fame that has considerably more 1B, LF, and RF" Being comfortable is not a statistic. I'm fine with a positionally unbalanced Hall of Fame, but not at all comfortable with one that is based solely on statistical performance. I know that's a personal preference.

    And I'm wondering what your research shows about your statement that players at 1B, LF, and RF have longer careers because of fewer physical demands of the positions. How much longer? How do you quantify a position's relative demand on a player's over-health and durability? And do we know that there is causation as well as correlation?

    I don't know any of this stuff. That's why I'm asking. Great job on all your work.

  97. topper009 Says:

    As an example using Luis Aparicio (who literally never played 1 inning at any position other than SS), he got 164 Rpos over his 11230 career PA simply for playing SS. Over his career he complied 511 RAR for 49.9 WAR; so 164 *(49.9/511) = 16 WAR for being a SS.

    I then tried to pick another player near Aparicio on the all-time PA list who only played 1B/CO. I went with Lou Brock who had 11235 PA and played less than 5% of his career in CF and the rest in LF/RF. He got -127 Rpos. He had 361 RAR for 39.1 WAR, so he loses 127 (39.1/361) = 13.7 WAR just for playing LF/RF.

    The total difference accounted for by WAR between these two players just based on their position is already 29.7 WAR! This means if they were the same player with the bat, on the bases and with the glove relative to their position the SS is worth 30 more WAR. Over a standard HOF length career. To me this is plenty of adjustment, I dont see why you need to require 9 more wWAR on top of this.

  98. @93 Adam,

    Well part of the reason there are so many lf, rf, 1b, is the Two Way nature of the sport. Most of the best hitters played those positions.

    To reiterate what Topper 009 said @95 WAR already makes positional adjustments so there's not really a need for a second penalty adjustment.

    Even if you did set the baseline at 69 WWAR for 1b, lf, rf, all I could find were 4 players who would be included: B. Williams, Kiner, Slaughter and Cash. Four extra players at 1b, lf, and rf doesn't seem like any kind of dramatic imbalance and 3/4 are already in the HOF.

    50 WWAR for a catcher seems way too low. Billy Williams can't get in with a 77 while Darell Porter gets in with a 52.1? That doesn't make much sense. You're talking about a difference of 25 WWAR!

    There should be a straight baseline for all the position players except catcher and then there should be a decreased baseline for catchers.
    I guess there's a base line for 19th century position players which would explain Decon White?

    If you're going to do a different baseline for 19th century players is there a differrent baseline for players who played in the 154 game schedule?

    Why a baseline of 69 for starting pitchers?

  99. @ 97 Topper: That seems incredible to me that it is acceptable baseball statistical wisdom that SS is worth almost 30 WAR over LF/RF, just as a positional adjustment (given 11,200 PA's). I'm not arguing with it, just surprised.

  100. Well, one my goals in this process was to even out the positions. It's one of the problems I've had with the Hall of Fame for a long time, so it was a definite goal.

    If I do tweak this a bit, that'll be an area I look at though.

    The following would be added back to the Hall:

    Billy Williams LF
    Jake Beckley 1B
    Jack Clark RF
    Zack Wheat LF
    Ralph Kiner LF
    Norm Cash 1B
    Jose Cruz LF
    Frank Chance 1B
    Enos Slaughter RF

    But then, we no longer have the same number of players as the current Hall, so we need a new baseline and then end up booting other players like Dale Murphy, Ron Cey, Cupid Childs, Bid McPhee, Stan Hack, etc.

    There are different ways of doing this, of course. Evening positions was definitely a goal I had in mind, though.

  101. @100 Adam,

    You wouldn't have to include J. Clark because he only had a 68.5 or Jose Cruz with a 67.5 unless of coarse you wanted to lower your baseline to 67.

    I can't see the logic in evening out the positions, What would happen if 2 or 3 first ballot HOF left fielders become eligible, you wouldn't be able to include them? There was also more better players at lf, rf and 1b so you can't really get around that. I would just set a baseline and make small adjustment here and there, Catchers, 19th century players etc.

    I wouldn't worry about coming up with the same number of players as the HOF, just come up with your own number. The HOF are always going to have players that don't fit evenly into a baseline number because of things like the Negro leagues, Monte Irvin & Larry Doby, and WW2 or Korean WAR credit like Rizzuto, Doerr, Pesky, Slaughter, Ford or Newcombe.

  102. The Hall of Fame is too difficult to measure in this way. Baseball has been so significantly different from its beginnings to the present that stats are all very, very relative. Consider that we have six distinct eras that all have a very different appearance
    1 - 1875-1900 - Pre-institutional
    2 - 1901-1920 - Organized Leagues begin/Deadball era
    3 - 1921-1942 - Early modern era
    4 - 1943-1968 - WWII/Post-war era
    5 - 1969-1993 - Divisional Ball
    6 - 1994 - Present - Multi-divisional

  103. Guys, I wan t give a huge thanks for all the comments. I'm thinking hard about this, particularly the positions, WAE & WAM values, etc.

    I'm going to continue commenting about where the Hall of wWAR goes next. So, keep an eye out for that. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

  104. Adam,

    Overall I really like the idea of a WWAR stat, I think career WAR by itself is kind of limited and doesn't tell the whole story. I also like that you including all of those player's WARe & WARm in one convenient spot.

    Any HOF is going to be kind of relative to what baseline you set for admittance and how many players you want to admit. You could set the baseline at 65 WWAR and you would get a certain look, 70 WWAR and you would get a different look, 75 WWAR and another etc.

    I was checking to see who had the most WWAR and wasn't in the HOF and it was Santo (110.2 WWAR) which is not surprising. It's just a joke he's not in the HOF.

    This would be the top 20 most eligible players not in the HOF according to WWAR:

    9-K. Brown-94.7
    16-K. Hernandez-87.2
    17-R. Smith-84.6
    18-K. Boyer-84.3
    25-Bo Bonds-80.6

    I might have missed someone but realistically all 25 should be solid HOF. But the HOF is dysfunctional so that's why they weren't elected.

  105. You missed an important one. :) Jeff Bagwell at #1.

    I have:

    Jeff Bagwell 1B 79.9 38.7 9.7 128.3
    Jim McCormick P 64.7 36.9 18.3 119.9
    Silver King P 53.8 36.2 24.2 114.2
    Charlie Buffinton P 56.1 36.5 20.5 113.1
    Ron Santo 3B 66.4 33.7 10.1 110.2
    Pete Rose LF 75.3 30.2 4.4 109.9
    Joe Jackson LF 62.9 34.0 11.5 108.4
    Bill Dahlen SS 75.9 25.1 2.4 103.4
    Dick Allen 1B 61.2 28.8 8.2 98.2
    Edgar Martinez DH 67.2 28.6 2.3 98.1
    Alan Trammell SS 66.9 26.1 3.8 96.8
    Bobby Grich 2B 67.6 26.4 2.7 96.7
    Barry Larkin SS 68.9 25.7 1.6 96.2
    Larry Walker RF 67.3 23.3 4.4 95.0
    Jim Wynn CF 59.8 28.3 6.8 94.9
    Kevin Brown P 64.8 25.1 4.8 94.7
    Sal Bando 3B 60.6 27.2 4.7 92.5
    Rick Reuschel P 66.3 22.5 2.7 91.5
    Mark McGwire 1B 63.1 25.3 2.5 90.9
    Lou Whitaker 2B 69.7 19.6 1.4 90.7
    Tim Raines LF 64.6 21.4 2.3 88.3
    Rafael Palmeiro 1B 66.0 20.5 1.6 88.1
    Keith Hernandez 1B 61.0 23.7 2.5 87.2
    Reggie Smith RF 63.4 20.9 0.3 84.6
    Ken Boyer 3B 58.4 23.7 2.2 84.3

  106. Wow, Jeff Bagwell! That must have been a freudian slip because I kind of forgot he wasn't elected last year. Probably in my sub-conscience I assumed he was elected on the first try.

    I left off the 19th century pitchers on purpose because that can be kind of tricky and I'm not really qualified to pass judgement on the validity of their candidacy.

    I should have remembered Rose & Jackson but I think that was another freudian sub-conscience slip.

    Bobby Grich is a big miss by me because I've been a big proponent of his HOF candidacy for years.

    I never heard of Bill Dahlen before I started reading about Win Shares & WAR and so forth but he was an odd omission by the HOF in my opinion. When he retired in 1911 he was 11th all time in career hits. As late as 1990 he was ranked 7th all time in hits by a short stop. The stats say overhelmingly that he was a great fielding short stop so I don't really understand why he was so underrated. Maybe his .272 batting average had something to do with that.

  107. Adam, thanks so much for sharing, and thanks a bunch for staying a part of the discussion here. It was great to have you!

  108. Hey guys... I posted the first of what could be a few questions about adjustments up at Beyond the Box Score. Would love to see what you guys think about this one (counting pitchers' hitting value and position players' pitching value).