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POLL: Jim Thome and the Hall of Fame

Posted by Andy on July 11, 2010

(The Hall of Fame posts are moving to Tuesdays, so look for another poll in just a couple of days.)

We've had a lot of comments about Jim Thome and the Hall of Fame already. Here's the poll. Please read all the comments below and then vote at the bottom.

One thing to keep in mind about Thome is that it's likely that all of his career rate stats will decline a bit before his career is over. His career OPS+ of 147 will, in all likelihood, drop by a few points before the end. To a large degree, the size of this drop depends on how long he chooses to play. If he continues to hit well this year and then retires in October, there will be no drop. But if he hangs on for 3-4 more years, we can expect a modest drop.

Let's stop the talk about Thome not deserving the Hall because he was a DH. He's only been a full-time DH in the last few years and has appeared there in only 660 of his 2300+ career games. Yes, it's fair to say that his career has been extended by having the DH slot available, but the DH exists and he can't be blamed for that. The only other guy to play at least 400 games at 3B, 1B, and DH is George Brett.

Arguments for the Hall of Fame:

  • Thome has some impressive career rankings, including home runs (10th all-time), walks (10th), Win Probability Added (34th), Adjusting Batting Runs (23rd), OPS+ (43rd), and WAR among position players (62nd).
  • He's got very good overall numbers in the playoffs, despite a .222 batting average. In 238 plate appearances he hit 17 HR with 37 RBI and 33 runs scored. Against the best pitchers in the league, those are good numbers.
  • From 1995 to 2003, Thome was among the best hitters in baseball in terms of Batting Runs Above Replacement. Barry Bonds was first, of course, followed distantly by the rest of the universe. Edgar Martinez was drop ahead of Thome, who himself was a tiny bit ahead of Jeff Bagwell and Manny Ramirez. He was quite a bit further ahead of Jason Giambi, Frank Thomas, Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez, and everybody else. Quite simply, Thome was one of the very best offensive players of his era.
  • To dispel the argument that Thome was another strikeout machine who occasionally hit a longball, let's look at his WAR and WPA values. Some say he was his era's Dave Kingman. Kingman had 18.0 Wins Above Replacement and 11.7 Win Probability Added over his career. Thome? Try 68.2 WAR and 47.5 WPA. These two players--Kingman and Thome--are light years apart. Kingman was a good piece who was overall a help to winning. Thome was a centerpiece around which perennial playoff teams were built. (By the way, I think Kingman was a much better player than most people give him credit for...look for a post on that in the future.)

Arguments against the Hall of Fame:

  • Despite some good playoff performances, he had a number of very lousy ones too. In the 1997 ALCS against the Orioles, Thome had just 1 hit over 6 games, good for a .071 BA with no RBI. In the 1998 ALDS against Boston, he hit just 2 solo homers. In the 2001 ALDS against the Mariners, he had just 3 hits in 21 plate appearances with a single solo homer accounting for his only RBI. Similar story in the 2008 ALDS against the Rays, with just 2 hits and 1 RBI in 17 trips to the plate.
  • Thome was never on a World Series champion. I don't hang all the blame on him, but while some other players benefit from being part of championship teams, Thome gets no such bonus. He at least played on 8 playoff teams (so far.)
  • Thome's defense was not very good. His total zone fielding runs above replacement was -22 for his career. That includes a really bad -13 runs at 1B in 1998. That's among the 40 worst seasons in history by a player playing primarily first base that season.
  • With defense as part of the argument, Thome doesn't compare particular well to Mark McGwire, a guy who himself hasn't gotten a ton of votes for the Hall of Fame. McGwire finished his career with -25 total zone fielding runs but that was due largely to some huge negative seasons in the last few years of his career (when Tony LaRussa had no choice but to play him at first base.) McGwire also had two seasons above +10 runs and even won a Gold Glove. Thome never had a single season as good as McGwire's best. The two guys' batting runs are virtually identical--579 for Thome and 578 for McGwire. Thome enjoys a slight edge in WAR, to 68.1 to 63.1. When defense is factored in, I think these two guys have had nearly identical career values.
  • Despite being a valuable hitter, Thome didn't get a lot of recognition at the time, which may indicate that he was never ranked as one of the best players in baseball. He never ranked higher than 4th in MVP voting (although he deserved to finish 2nd in the inexplicable 2002 AL voting.) His blank inky is only 13 which is quite low for a possible HOFer. His gray ink is low, too.

I think Thome is a really tough case. He hit a ton of homers and drove in a ton of runs. If you look at his stats in a total vacuum, independent of everything else going on in baseball, he looks extremely impressive, and I think this is where the arguments come from that he's a slam dunk Hall of Famer. But if you contextualize his performance to The Steroids Era, he looks like another guy who hit a lot of homers and struck out a lot. His lack of MVP votes and league-leading totals supports the idea that he was nothing special. I think is where the arguments come from that he shouldn't get in the HOF without a ticket.

The truth is clearly that he's somewhere in between....but which side of the line?

This entry was posted on Sunday, July 11th, 2010 at 7:10 am and is filed under Hall of Fame, Polls. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

56 Responses to “POLL: Jim Thome and the Hall of Fame”

  1. I think you have to put some of Thome's numbers in context because of the era he played in, but he was just a dominant offensive player from 1995-2004. Plus his career numbers, 68.1WAR, 147ops+ is just damn impressive. His defense wasn't great but he was ok at first/third. He wasn't a defensive liability like Belle, Ramirez or Adam Dunn.

    He was overshadowed in Cleveland because of the bigger names that played with him during the same time period: Belle, Ramierez, Lofton, and Alomar.

    He was 4th in the majors in OPS+ (157) from 1995-2004.
    He was 5th in the majors in WAR (53.2) from 1995-2004.
    He was 4th in the majors in Runs Created (1313) from 1995-2004.

    One problem I have with the leader board on baseball reference is that it includes players from the American Association and the 1880's and players with 3000 plate appearances.

    Benny Kauff is 34th all time in ops+ (149), mainly because he only 3500 plate appearances.

    Pete Browning and Dave Orr are in the top 12 in ops (162), but they played most of their careers in the American Association in the 1880's. I think this distorts the overall feel of the leader-board. There should at least be a leader-board from say 1901 or 1890-present with at least 5000 or 4500 plate appearance minimum.

    Thome will get in and I guess He'll wear an Indians cap. I was trying to think who the heck was the last HOF inducted wearing an Indians cap? Lemon, Doby, or Boudreau? I'm not sure.

  2. Most of the guys I think should get into the Hall are now left up to the Veteran's Committee. If Thome does get in, he may have to wait a few years, like Joe Medwick, Duke Snider and Harmon Killebrew did. In the meantime, Ron Santo, Ken Boyer, Ted Simmons and Richie Allen should get in. I got their baseball cards when I was a kid, still have them, and with their respective inductions, my net worth will increase.

  3. I forgot to include the list of just 20-some players since 1901 with at least 10 qualified batting seasons with an OPS+ of 140. Thome is on it and the vast majority of his contemporaries are not. It's surprising he doesn't have more gray and blank ink given this fact.

  4. To me, Killebrew is the best comp for Thome both statistically and aesthetically (B-Ref's similarity scores agree). Fitting, then, that he's now a Twin. I wonder if Thome is so underrated because he spent most of his career (save the pinch-hitting cameo with the Dodgers) in the central division.

  5. Matt Young Says:

    Thome will get to 600 homers and he'll be a lock as he should be. It'll take him a few ballots to get in though. On a side note, does anyone have Career Win Shares for Clemens, Maddux, Johnson, Martinez, Glavine, Smoltz, Schilling, Mussina, Brown and Pettitte......or a place I can easily find them? thanks.

  6. Andy, last night Scott Kazmir gave up 13 runs against the A's. I ran a situation of 13ER in 5.0 innings or less and found seven games total. Jason Marquis was the most recent pitcher to do it back in 2006. David Wells is the other notable on the infamous list.

    Kazmir is rocked for 13 earned runs

  7. David Lick Says:

    @ #5:

    You can go to baseballbypositions.com. That site has more Win Shares info than any other I've found.

  8. I agree with Cliff about Thome being under appreciated due to the teams he played on. If Thome had been in Boston, New York, or LA for his prime, there would be no question about his induction.

    The comparision to Killebrew is interesting. Granted, no one is ever going to confuse Thome with a Gold Glover anytime in the near future (or distant past), but Killebrew was much worse defensively, particularly at third base (Thome's RTOT is -11, Killebrew is at -50). Overall, Thome checks in at -32, and Killebrew has a -78. However, given Thome's stick, he was never required to be anything beyond capable on the field.

    Yes, he did strike out a lot (2356 and counting), but he has also walked a good amount in his career (1648 thus far) and even led the league in walks three times. His overall OPS thus far is at .960. To me, Thome is one of the ideals for what a lot of teams are searching for these days - high OPS, power, and decent plate discipline.

    Another thing that helps Thome is that he has never been linked to steroids. Given the mentality of the voters, and how they have voted in regards to McGwire, I think this can push Thome in.

  9. Andy, you think Harold Baines could be a good subject for a future poll? ... unless it's already been done...

  10. I think Thome is in. I'm increasingly becoming not so much a fan of using MVP shares for HoF voting. While, more often than not, the right guy wins, as you go down the leaderboard, you start to see some whacky things emerge. MVP wins might be a good barometer, but it seems a lot of voters use their #2-#10 votes for political agendas or just don't care that much. (Not to mention the folks who do this with their #1 vote as well.) So, I don't put all THAT much faith in to the writers' opinions, though ultimately, they are what matter most for this.

    Thome was an elite offensive force for a long, long time. Yes, his defense was outright bad. And he was probably never THE best player in baseball. But, I still think he's done more than enough to punch his ticket.

  11. Also, I don't think the comparison to McGwire is apt. McGwire wasn't denied enshrinement (thus far) as a result of his on-the-field accomplishments; he was denied it because of off-the-field crap. Whether that is right or wrong is another conversation for another day. But since Thome doesn't have the same baggage as McGwire, it doesn't seem fair to compare them.

  12. I can't think of any reason Thome will not make the HOF. Fans of traditional hitting statistics and counting stats (which is really how all players are elected to the Hall) can't argue with Thome based on his HRs, RBIs, OBP etc. No player with his numbers has not made the HOF, and easily. Meanwhile, fans of more advanced stats, certainly will be impressed by his 147 OPS+. and his 68.1 WAR.

    There seems to be an attempt to discount hitting statistics compiled my many players over the past twenty years because hitting has dominated, and there is the question of how much steroids contributed to the hitting. Valid questions and there should be some discount. Perhaps Thome joined in with many players and took PEDs. Yet he's never been caught so that can't be used as a negative against his election. Hitting 400 HRs, or even 500 HRs, does not hold the same impact it once did, yet Thome has eclipsed both those marks by quite a bit, and seems to have a good shot at reaching 600 HRs.

    He's an easy election.

  13. Consistency, consistency, consistency. That's what makes Thome so great. He hit at least 30 homers in twelve straight full seasons (excluding 2005 when he was injured most of the year), and knicked in at least 100 runs in all but one of those seasons. Regardless of his metrics and percentages, he has always been a guy that you can plug into the 4 or 5 spot in a lineup and you will get 30-40 homers and 100-120 RBI. I don't know if he'll get enough votes, just because he's part of a generation that has so many power hitters (many of whom were on steroids), but there's no question he deserves to be there. He was a run producing machine for years, is still getting his homers/RBIs in his limited role with the Twins, and on top of on top of it all is a really nice guy who's only going to be a positive in the clubhouse. And if you take out all of the likely steroid users, he's probably the second or third best slugger of his era instead of the 10th or 12th.

  14. Thome might be the ultimate Three True Outcomes player in the history of the game. He's the only player in the top ten all-time in home runs (10th), walks (10th), and strikeouts (2nd).

    Anyway, I'd vote for him, and I think he'll probably get in. He's not an inner-circle Hall of Famer by any stretch, and he's not exactly a five-tool player, but he's just too good a hitter to leave out. Great power, great on-base ability (Bonds and Ruth are the only other players in the top ten all-time in both homers and walks) and, for a TTO guy, he actually hit for a pretty decent average, too (.277 for his career--.281 through 2007--and three .300 seasons).

  15. A caveat about the strike-outs:

    A player has to be pretty damn good to stick around long enough to get that many. If he was just a free-swinger who couldn't make contact, he would have washed out somewhere around number 300 or 400. But because he was so good at everything else, he was able to carve out a career long enough to get that many. So, to really put it in context, we'd have to look out at K/PA or something. He'd still rank high, no doubt, but it'd give a bit more context.

  16. BSK, you're right, I think the best context in which to put Thome's strikeouts is K/BB. Thome's career K/BB rate is only about 1.5/1, in an era in which the average is about 2/1. That for me is as good an illustration as any that Thome was not a free-swinger. A free-swinger is a guy who swings at a lot of pitches outside the zone. Thome struck out a lot, but it wasn't because he was chasing bad pitches.

  17. BSK, I don't agree about McGwire. In 1998 and when he retired, informal polls showed a lot of opposition to his election based on his stats, well before he was a definitive steroids user.

  18. A little off-track here, but still to the point of hitters and their numbers:

    Is there a way to total up all the runners on base in the various splits scenarios, to get an RBI percentage, as in the percentage of all runners on base that a hitter batted in?

    Or, are the men on base breakdowns in the batter splits (runners on 1--, -2-, --3, 12- etc.) meant to be totalled, to get that number?

    I was never quite sure about that.

  19. I think Thome gets in.

    I would love to see one of these on Gary Sheffield.

  20. JeffW I don't understand your question. Yes you can use the baserunning splits to figure out the total number of runners batted in as a percentage of baserunners. Beyond that I don't get what you are asking.

  21. @18
    Total baserunner count and number scored is tabulated in the "More Stats" area:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/t/thomeji01-bat.shtml#batting_situational

    The 123 for Thome in 2010 matches the data implied from the splits page: (35+15+4) + 2*(16+5+3)+ 3*7.

    The BRS number includes non-RBI's though. 19 baserunners scored while he had 22 RBI and 4 HR. So one runner scored without him being credited with an RBI.

    This doesn't measure RBI probability though. Obviously its easier to drive in a runner on 3rd with no one than it is to drive in a runner on first with two out. With play-by-play data, someone probably has that data. This BR/BRS data is something, though. Thome drove in 16% of baserunners over his career. That's above the MLB average but hunting around, I've found some 17% guys and even the occasional 18%.

  22. Andy,

    What I was clumsily trying to ask is if you could take the runners on base batting splits and do this:

    PA's batting with runners on first base: 162=162 runners
    PA's batting with runners on second base: 62=62 runners
    PA's batting with runners on third base: 17=17 runners
    PA's batting with runners on first and second: 52=104 runners

    ...and literally add them up to find the total numer of runners on base during all of that hitter's PA's in a given season. Thus, you would have a total of runners driven in, divided by those opportunities, for an RBI percentage.

    Am I making sense, or am I way out on a limb?

    I was looking at a way to measure a hitter's true effectiveness, taking into account the actual opportunities he has to drive in runs.

    As you already know, I am light-years behind the pace of modern stat-keeping.

  23. DavidRF,

    Thanks. I think you answered my question.

    I'm learning...

  24. An easy yes. Especially when you consider the number of comparable sluggers in the steroid era who will be blacklisted. His numbers will look very good for his era when compared to, well nobody (the blacklisted players).
    Makes me wonder how Fred McGriff's tenure on the ballot will go. If the HOF committee takes the steroid cop route like they have with McGwire with future candidates, which I bet they most likely will, then does McGriff's stock rise simply because they've eliminated most of his peers?

  25. If not for the steroid era, and assuming Thome didn't do 'roids, he would be the best power hitter of our generation.

  26. Are you kidding? HOw can you keep a guy out with almost 600 HRs and a 400+ OBP? This guy was tremendous forever.great teammate, no steroid scandal......if he was a New Yorker, they'd forget about Jeter

  27. Thome -- like the Killer -- is a no-brainer HOF choice. To me, he is what Hondo Howard would have been if he'd stayed on top a few more years, and played for someone other than the imminently-forgettable second Senators.

  28. Bill Johnson Says:

    I agree that he's in and should be. he does remind me of a left handed hitting Killebrew, a consistent elite power hitter for a long time. I'm guessing that in context Killebrew gets a little edge.

    'shoes

  29. flyingelbowsmash Says:

    Thome doesn't seem to have a steroid body, he is just a big brute like Dunn. I buy him and Griffey as the clean power hitters of the era and he should easily be a first ballot guy. If a guy deserves to be in, vote for him. I don't understand this making a player wait thing, just because that is how it was done in the past. The only time sportwriters get to interject themselves into the game in some fashion and they screw it up.

  30. If he played his entire career on the Yankees (even without any postseason credit) he would be considered an obvious HOFer. Just like if Derek Jeter was a lifetime Royal there would be much more debate on his HOF worth.

  31. Thome should be a very, very easy yes. The statistical case is obvious, and he's been one of the more enjoyable characters to follow in the whole game for the last 20 years. Shouldn't be any question at all.

    And I don't get this:

    "Thome enjoys a slight edge in WAR, to 68.1 to 63.1. When defense is factored in, I think these two guys have had nearly identical career values."

    I don't think that's all that slight (it's one whole really, really good season), but the question is, why do you need to factor defense in to a comparison that's using a stat that already factors in defense? McGwire, as you mentioned, had some good years, but had some awful years. Thome already gets dinged by the positional adjustment for the years he's spent as a full-time DH. It's all already been factored, and Thome comes out pretty clearly ahead.

  32. Fireworks Says:

    @30 I don't think there would be a ton of debate about Jeter's HOF candidacy given that he's going to be the only guy to get 3000 hits at shortstop, that he probably has a good chance at getting to 3500 hits if he wants to play that long, so I don't think that is quite the comparison you think it is.

    Thome is worthy of inclusion of the Hall in my opinion. People have already given reasons in support, and I agree that all the years of hitting homers and driving in runs and drawing walks put Thome in that special class of player that deserves enshrinement.

  33. "BSK, I don't agree about McGwire. In 1998 and when he retired, informal polls showed a lot of opposition to his election based on his stats, well before he was a definitive steroids user."

    Andy, is that really true? I was but a wee lad when McGwire was doing his exploits and ultimately retired. Or, I was a teenager at least. But I always assumed that, on numbers alone, McGwire was in. But maybe that was just paying too much attention to his HRs and not enough to the rest? If so, I stand corrected.

  34. SLIGHT threadjack, perhaps, but something I've been wondering about for a while is how much are BSs a function of a guy's 'skill'.

    For instance, McGwire always had an above-average walk rate. But his two best BB years were also his two craziest HR years ('98-70, '99-65). So, did he get BETTER at walking that year? Or were pitchers pitching around him more because of his ridiculous power? If it IS the latter, does that change things? Does that take anything away from it, because he didn't necessarily "earn" those walks through batting eye/patience? Does it augment them, because his power was so prodigious that he got walks he wouldn't otherwise have? Obviously, other skills/abilities go in to it. You could be the strongest batter in the world, but if you have obvious holes in your swing or a bad eye, pitchers will just pitch to those holes instead of walk you. But it's something I've wondered about as I look at how HRs and other power numbers seem to correlate to BB numbers and how, for a lot of guys, when HRs go up, BBs go up, and I get into a chicken/egg thing.

    I use McGwire only because I had just looked up his numbers for my last post. Maybe this should be it's own blog post, or maybe I'm missing the obvious in thinking about, but it's curious, to me at least.

  35. Obviously, the first line should say BBs. Sorry.

  36. Bill, that's a fair criticism, thanks.

    BSK: yes it's true. I think most polls showed 20% support for McGwire for the HOF when he retired because he was viewed as a HR hitter who hit for poor average and struck out a ton. Since then, thanks in large part to the emergence of WPA and WAR, his career valuation in the eyes of fans has improved dramatically, while the steroids thing hurt him in another way. I think that RIGHT NOW he'd get in in not for steroids.

  37. In that regard, me comparing him to McGwire is dumb since it's not McGwire's stats keeping him out, it would seem.

  38. Thome has never been linked to steroids, to my knowledge. Given that, I think that voters would like to see a clean 500-homer guy in the Hall of Fame. I think he's been a great player and he deserves the honor.

  39. Andy-

    Interesting. Thanks! I remember a massive lovefest for Big Mac, even with the whispers of PEDs. Interesting to hear that that didn't necessarily correlate with HoF support. I guess when you think about it, nearly 1/4 of his HRs came in a two year span and, at the time, that was his primary calling card. Thanks for the insight!

  40. Re: Thome not linked to steroids.

    Let's assume Thome was COMPLETELY clean. Or, at least as clean as guys before the ridiculously UNCLEAN era we just experienced. Ultimately, his advanced numbers take a hit because, right or wrong, hes compared with the guys of his era. But, suppose we cleared out the noise, the guys who WERE dirty... what would his numbers look like then? If Thome WAS clean and we weed out Bonds and ARod and McGwire and Sosa and the guys we KNOW to be PEDers, presumably, his numbers take a bump, right?

    I realize the craziness this presumes and I'm not one to crucify guys who did do PEDs or assume those without rumors are completely clean, but it's worth thinking about in the abstract, right?

  41. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I think McGwire certainly would have been inducted by now, if not first ballot, but for the steroids allegations/Congressional non-testimony. Yes, there were some people who considered him too one-dimensional. I actually think that argument has some legitimacy. From a value standpoint, he seems clearly qualified for the HOF. From an ability standpoint, one could argue that there were many eras in which McGwire would not have been as valuable as he was when he actually played, and maybe that should matter. I don't know if prospective voters really analyzed it the same way, but maybe something along those lines. Still, as I said, he would be be in, albeit with under 90% of the vote, without the other nonsense. And I still say he will make it eventually, probably within most of our lifetimes. Forever is a long time.

    BSK/34: "did [McGwire] get BETTER at walking that year? Or were pitchers pitching around him more because of his ridiculous power? If it IS the latter, does that change things? Does that take anything away from it, because he didn't necessarily "earn" those walks through batting eye/patience? Does it augment them, because his power was so prodigious that he got walks he wouldn't otherwise have?"

    No, I doubt he got better at walking. He had a good eye, and pitchers definitely began avoiding him more often because he was so dangerous, and so he walked even more. That is definitely something one should consider when looking at his OBP or basic runs-created stats. If linear weights places the value of a walk at around 0.33 runs, McGwire's average walk was probably worth a bit less because he was often being pitched around in situations where the defense thought putting him on would not hurt them as much. I believe TangoTiger has decided to weight the value of an IBB as equal to that batter's average PA, since IBBs tend to be a break-even proposition. That seems to make sense to me. Of course there's no easy way to count "intentional" unintentional BBs, but we can assume McGwire and other great power hitters get their share.

  42. M. Scott Eiland Says:

    If Thome doesn't get in, it will be time to take the vote away from the BBWAA--there's never been a hint that he's on steroids, and his career numbers are in the "overwhelmingly qualified" range: anyone who compares him to Dave Kingman doesn't have a clue about what he's talking about. Keeping Thome out will be the writers saying "no one from this era gets in, because it'll make us look bad for not voting in the best ones." If that happens, the vote needs to be stripped from the old fools and a real commissioner needs to get together with the HOF to find a new voting group who will use their obligation responsibly.

  43. @BSK - You can't do that. Whatever happened, happened. We do not know to what degree certain drugs effect baseball ability. In many cases it is likely that players use them incorrectly, or they don't have any actual effect at all.

    You can't start removing players that you don't like or suspect used steroids. However, I have never been a big fan of putting people in the HoF based on their era. It leads to awful HoF selections like Phil Rizzuto, among others (I am a NYY fan).

    Jim Thome is a big time hall of famer. He has the same exact career OPS+ as A-Rod, with a higher OBP component. Over parts of 20 seasons. That's an elite HoF bat from any position including DH.

  44. Johnny Twisto Says:

    If one assumes Rizzuto was a superb defender (though we can't measure it accurately), and if one assumes he could have built on his first two seasons from ages 25-27 instead of being in the military, and if one assumes that he would have played better in 1946 had he not been battling malaria contracted while at war -- is he still an awful selection? Or is that too many assumptions?

  45. 574 home runs and NO STEROIDS??? He may not be the most deserving, but I feel he belongs. Add in the five All-Star Games and the .270+ batting average and he should be a lock.

  46. Johnny Twisto Says:

    HOW do you KNOW he DIDN'T do STEROIDS?

    But I agree, the .270+ BA wins me over.

  47. No bonuses for being clean. That's how Ray Schalk ended up in the HOF and its ended up being an odd asterisk on his induction. Plus, you never know, at one time Palmeiro's stock soared because it looked like he was clean. We'd feel extra betrayed if we incorrectly gave a guy a bonus.

    Its all moot with Thome anyways. By the numbers, he's an easy pick. Whether he's first ballot depends on who else is eligible at the time. He's not the type who'd have to wait because they can't make up their mind (Rice, Perez, etc), but he might have to wait a year or two if the ballot is crowded with better players.

  48. ... plus I'm skeptical about these impending blacklists for PED users. Where was all this righteous indignation from baseball writers when these guys were playing? Everyone knew there was mass PED use, yet, these guys kept being given awards by the writers. Long-standing MLB records were chased for years and then broken and nobody ever did anything. We have the record book that MLB/MLBPA/BBWAA wanted as far as I'm concerned.

    But, I can see why others are less stats-centric than myself. :-)

  49. Johnny Twisto, do you have proof he DID steroids? I am not naive. Some did. However, I have NO proof of him doing it.

  50. Matt Young Says:

    Just induct them all with no asterisk but mention any proof (even if they were just mentioned in a report with no hard evidence) about whether said player used....perhaps mention it was the steroid era as well. It's too hard to weed them all out, and if there's allegations against someone then it's highly likely they used --just induct them on the numbers and mention they were reported in Mitchell report or elsewhere as a user. If we have no proof of someone using then I think we have to assume they were clean, but we could still mention it was the steroid era. What hurts McGwire, Sosa and Palmero the most is they were so ridiculous at the hearing, but really, the writers, the players, and especially Bud the Bum were all responsible. Do people in this forum see HGH and steroids as the same or do you think there's a difference. I think there's a bit of a difference between the two. Do people in this forum see HGH and steroids as the same or do you think there's a difference. I think there's a bit of a difference between the two.

  51. I hate to sound angry, but any time I hear someone say "he's never been mentioned alongside steroids" or similar, a red flag goes up in my head about naivety. I have no proof that Thome, Griffey, Frank Thomas, Ryan Howard, Mark Teixeira, or hundreds of other players ever used any substance banned by baseball. But if you held a gun to my head and forced me to guess yes or no on each guy, I would guess yes on each and every single guy.

    Remember how ambitious these guys are. You don't get to the major leagues without incredible determination and effort that is in the top 1% of the top 1%. Thing about Tiger Woods, a guy who puts his only value so far above the rest of the world that he treated his wife and hundreds of other women like garbage, and thinks he can get away with it! He's also been linked to HGH in an ongoing investigation.

    We know that the average ball player is more similar than dissimilar to Tiger Woods. We know the majority of them cheat on their wives (yes, we KNOW that--there have been enough books published that deal with the subject.) We know the majority of ballplayers hunt, gamble, and engage in other activities that are indicative of risk-taking and lack of acknowledgment of consequences, just like Tiger Woods. Do you folks really think that the list of players who used banned substances stops at just the names that have leaked out? That's incredibly naive.

    I'm not saying that I think Thome used steroids. Nor am I saying that we should assume he did. My point is only that it's crazy to give him a "bonus" just because his name has never come up. The entire era was tainted, and we probably know at most 5-10% of the players who used.

  52. Matt Young Says:

    So, how do you deal with the era Andy and otehrs? I agree with you, yes we shouldn't assume they were clean just because they weren't reported, but can we assume they did use without a shred of evidence? No, Thome shouldn't get a bonus, and that's why i think you have to induct all of them on the numbers --there have been plenty of cheats in the game over time. That's why I say, mention whether they used or not with the evidence presented, and then everyone that goes in that played from 1987-2005 it states played during the steroid era. Again, what hurts McGwire, Sosa and Palmero so much was there non-testimony.

  53. I think Thome certainly deserves to get in, as I remember him being one of the best offensive players in the game in the mid-late 90s and early-mid 00s, and I do think he'll eventually get in, though it may take him a few ballots. Recently, I looked at his profile here, and was surprised to see so few years with MVP votes--can you say overlooked?

  54. Andy-

    I wasn't specifically talking about giving Thome, or any other individual, an actual "bonus". Rather, I was just thinking out loud about the fact that some players who DIDN'T do steroids will ultimately be harmed when we look at era-adjusted stats. There is no way to account for that, but it is a reality. And an unfortunate one.

  55. I think the 1st Basemen from 1990-2005 should rank:

    1. McGwire
    2. Bagwell
    3. Thomas
    4. McGriff
    5. Thome

    So when the others ahead of him get in, we can talk about Thome.

    But I think he's getting in someday.

  56. Thome should have won the Gold Glove in 2003, his first year with the Phillies. How come nobody talks about that. The voters gave it to Derrick Lee, but that was not right. Thome had more chances, more assists, more put-outs, and the same number of errors as Lee (5). The voters just could not acknowledge that Thome deserved it because for years they had a all talked -like some of the people posting here- about how Thome was not a very good fielder. But he developed into a very good defensive 1st baseman by 2003 - he should have won the GG, and yes, that should be a contributing factor to him being elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.