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POLL: Vladimir Guerrero and the Hall of Fame

Posted by Andy on July 27, 2010

The readers have spoken, and a poll for Vladimir Guerrero is up next. Please read through, vote in the poll below, and add your own comment on Guerrero's Hall of Fame credentials.

Let's look at the arguments for and against Guerrero in the Hall of Fame:

For the Hall of Fame:

  • His OPS+ of 144 is 47th all time. As with all rate stats, that number is likely to drop a little before Guerrero retires. Over the last 50 years, Guerrero slots into the top 25. He's probably likely to stay in the top 25, too, as a few guys ahead of him will likely drop a little too as their careers end (Miguel Cabrera, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Lance Berkman, Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez...).
  • One MVP award and votes in 10 other seasons
  • His Win Probability Added is a huge 45.2, 41st all-time. That's quite impressive. (As an aside, I wonder whether he's helped here by virtue of being the best player on the Expos for a number of years.)
  • He has a remarkably low strikeout rate, especially for his high HR rate. Check out the top 10 guys all time, ranked by HR, where their HR total is at least 47% of their strikeout total:
    Rk Player HR SO
    1 Barry Bonds 762 1539
    2 Hank Aaron 755 1383
    3 Babe Ruth 714 1330
    4 Ted Williams 521 709
    5 Mel Ott 511 896
    6 Lou Gehrig 493 790
    7 Stan Musial 475 696
    8 Vladimir Guerrero 427 904
    9 Albert Pujols 388 618
    10 Ralph Kiner 369 749
    Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 7/24/2010.
  • He's led the league in intentional walks 5 times and is the active career leader and 4th overall. This isn't because he was the only good hitter on the Expos as most of his IBBs came with the Angels.
  • He's never hit below .300 in any season with more than 100 games played and his .321 batting average is 5th among current players.
  • His defensive numbers are really good. His Total Zone Fielding Runs is +44 for his career (top 25 all-time for RF) and he racked up 128 assists in right field.
  • This guy means a lot to the Expos and would be an ideal representative for the team in the Hall of Fame. He's the franchise career leader in BA, SLG, and HR and single-season leaders in BA, SLG, H, total bases, RBI, times on base, and numerous other categories.  Franchise leader includes team years in Washington. If we limited it to just Montreal, he'd lead in even more categories.
  • 9-time All-Star (helped by poor Montreal teams)

Against the Hall of Fame:

  • His Wins Against Replacement are 58.9, just 159th on the career list. That's not terrible but doesn't support the argument that he's one of the best players in history.
  • He has an extremely low walk rate. Minimum 7000 PA's he has one of the worst OBP for a guy with a career batting average of at least .320. That list is Guerrero, Ichiro, Gwynn, Carew, and a bunch of old-timers. Weird to say that comparing well to 3 modern-day Hall of Famers is a negative for Guerrero, but it's unusual for a guy with as much power as him not to have more walks and a bigger bump on his OBP over his BA.
  • He's hit pretty well in the playoffs but his team lost 5 out of 7 playoff series and he's never won a World Series.
  • His stolen base total is overrated, given that his career success rate  is 66%, low enough that it would probably have been better if he hadn't run at all. However, his career XBT% (extra base taken %) is 48%. Eyeballing it, it looks like the league average over the course of his career his about 41%, so that suggest he is, in fact, an above-average baserunner.
  • His career rate of pitches seen per plate appearance is 3.24, as compared to a league average over his career of 3.75. Although the results of those plate appearances have been great, it's also important to think about how he helped the rest of his team. By rarely walking and not drawing many pitches from the starter, he's not on base as much for his teammates, nor is he helping to wear out the starter and get him out of the game. (Obviously I'm exaggerating a bit there--it's not that Guerrero is NOT helping at all, just less than a lot of other players.)

152 Responses to “POLL: Vladimir Guerrero and the Hall of Fame”

  1. Josh Says:

    "As for him playing center, isn't that already reflected in his WAR which is 5 points better than Rice's. I'm suppose to give him double credit?"

    I thought you said Lynn was worse than Rice, and I was trying to prove they were similar quality hitters, and Lynn had more defensive value because he played center (which is why he shows up with ~5 more WAR). With Lynn's better peak and defensive value, I think he was the better player and more deserving of the HOF (though I think Lynn is below the borderline himself due to having too short of a productive career).

  2. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    "Stats can be wrong too."

    Of course, there wouldn't be a field of sabermetrics if we already could pinpoint in exact numbers everything we wanted to know about the play of a baseball game -- it would be finished and dead.

    On the other hand, the whole *point* of sabermetrics is to have *better* numbers than we used to have.

    If your critique is that WAR doesn't cover this that or the other particular way in which player A excels or is subpar, well that's very important, if your argument makes sense. But if you think it's wrong because you "just know", well that doesn't shed any light, and doesn't give me much confidence that your intuitions are meaningful. It doesn't help anyone make a better version of WAR, and it doesn't help anyone to know what the current WAR probably/possibly gets wrong and how we should adjust for it.

    One of the key things sabermetricians have discovered is that our intuitions are sometimes *wrong*. Given similar SLG, the guy with a .275 BA and a .400 OBP is actually a fair bit more valuable than the guy with a .300 BA and a .350 OBP. Many people had absolutely no clue that this was the case before sabermetricians started trying to determine the real value of a walk vs. a hit vs. an out. They would have picked the .300 hitter every time, assuming that reaching base without a hit was either mostly luck, or not worth anywhere near as much as we now believe.

    Now, nearly all professional baseball people, and a fair number of writers and serious fans have begun to recognize the skill and value in not making outs.

    Here's the problem with saying "WAR is just a number and it can't capture everything". It's absolutely true. But our intuitions are often affected by *other* numbers which we constantly hear, see and read, which are *far* more misleading than WAR, like pitching wins or batting average.

    It's pretty common in threads here to have somebody is talking all about how numbers don't capture everything, but when it comes right down to it, their argument for a guy who's WAR or whatever doesn't look great is primarily reliant on some other number, for which not only can we say the same thing (it doesn't capture everything, and is affected by random factors), but there is a moutain of data suggesting that it is wholly misleading.

    The idea that HoF should be judged by X% sabermetric stats and Y% traditional stats, and Z% various other things, is ridiculous. The sabermetric stats are simply better than the traditional stats. The only value traditional stats have is to be a part of the wow/fame factor, because guys who accumulate certain traditional numbers will get a certain amount of play in the media for doing it, and that does affect their fame perception value, if you believe that should be factored in to hall decisions. But don't go and double count it, by then factoring in some "traditional stat" part of the equation. The whole point of WAR is the look at *all* the traditional stats, along with a bunch of non-traditional ones and get a number that represents total on the field value. It isn't perfect, but the corrections to it won't be made by traditional stats, because all of those stats are already accounted for in the number you get with WAR.

    If you can talk about a specific thing that you think WAR doesn't measure or measures inaccurately, then you are adding to the understanding of baseball by the numbers. When you just wave your hands and say "numbers aren't everything", you really are saying nothing. Of course they aren't everything. There will probably never be a number that can define a player's value completely, but the point is that some numbers say a whole lot more than others. WAR says enough that it makes for a pretty good first order approximation of who belongs in the hall (or on a roster, or starting, or on the all star teams or MVP/Cy ballots).

  3. Matt Y Says:

    Still do. They are comparable, Rice is a borderliner IMO, Lynn is just shy of that. Lynn had two great years, a few good years, and was nearly washed up by 30 years old. At least Rice was a bit more consistent. There's worst picks than Rice in Hall.

  4. Josh Says:

    MLB CF 2009:.332/.411
    MLB 2B 2009:.330/.405
    MLB 1B 2009:.356/.470

    My point is that CF is a defensive position and not on par with corner outfield, which are the #2 and #3 offensive positions (I hope you didn't take my meaning to be that corner OF hit as well as 1B, the #1 hitting position). Typically second basemen hit very similarly to center fielders, and both are below league average hitters as a whole. You do not "need" to get offensive production out of center -- such performance is a luxury.

  5. Josh Says:

    "There's worst picks than Rice in Hall."

    This is a true statement (High Pockets Kelly and several others are truly ridiculous) but hardly a ringing endorsement. Rice is not the worst pick, but he's among them. I like dozens of guys better, including Lynn. You say Lynn was washed up at age 30, but Jim Rice had only one good year after age 30, and Lynn had two above average.

    Here are their WAR season totals over 2 for their careers:
    Lynn 8.4,7.1,4.8,4.2,4.1,4.1,3.8,2.6,2.0
    Rice 7.0,5.9,5.7,5.1,4.3,3.0,2.9,2.3,2.0

    Jim was no more consistent and had a worse peak (which actually matters if you care about greatness).

  6. Matt Y Says:

    The WAR Gods have spoken. 🙂 Three best WAR years from Rice and Lynn 30 years of age and higher: Rice -- 12.7; Lynn--11.2 . Players certainly were in good decline by 32 back then, whereas today it doesn't seem to hit until 35-36 for many.

  7. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    "On the great majority (probably something like 98%) of the Hall candidates I agree with sabermetricians. However, all I'm saying is for every Rice in the Hall there's a Saberhagen in the Hall of Merit. Would I be upset that Saberhangen got in --no, would I vote for him, no. There's different perspectives and most have value. That's all I'm saying."

    How many sabermetrics guys would put Saberhagen into the hall? Not me, surely. What I recognize is that he's close to a hall candidate, better than a number of guys who are in the hall now, and better than some guys who are talked up as belonging like Jack Morris. I don't think he qualifies. Maybe you are confusing him with Bert Blyleven, who really does belong. In the case of Bly, IMO, the people who are too ruled by numbers, are the people who don't think he belongs, and they are sticking on stats that are much worse than WAR as a measure of a career, like W-L% and wins.

  8. Matt Y Says:

    No, I've advocated for Bly plenty of times. I think the sabermetrics are very important, they just don't capture everything though. Sabermetrics in a vacuum is no good either. I like a hybrid system where there's some merit to differing philosophies.

  9. John Q Says:

    I can't see how Rice is a "boderline" selection. Even if you take his slash stats and his ops+, there very similar to Moises Alou who was a left fielder and who's never brought up as a HOF candidate:

    .298/.352/.502 ops+128

    .303/.369/.516 ops+ 128

    As far as HOF as career WAR and HOF players and where Rice ranks...There are 148 position players in the HOF with at least 5000 plate appearances. Jim Rice Ranks 123/148, And it should be noted that some of the players lower than Rice were elected because they were also coaches/managers, lost time from WW2, or came to the majors late because black. So I can't see how that's a borderline pick in this day an age with all the information that's available.

    The Median position players with a minimum of 5000 plate appearances are Willie Stargell 57.5WAR and Billy Williams57.2. Basically I think once your over 57.2 WAR for your career, you should be a HOF seeing that you were better than half of the players already elected.

    There are about 50 position players with more than 57.2 career WAR not in the HOF, though it should be noted that 1/2 aren't eligible:

    Bonds, A-Rod, Pujols, Bagwell, C. Jones, Griffey jr., Dahlen, Thomas, Rose, Jeter, Whitaker, Larkin, Edmonds, Thome, Grich, Manny, Walker, Edgar, Trammell, Santo, Biggio, Palmeiro, Lofton, Raines, Rolen, Alomar, R. Smith, Sheffield, McGwire, Shoeless Joe, Dw. Evans, Nettles, D. Allen, K. Hernandez, B. Bell, Bando, Randolph, Wynn, Sosa, Kent, S. Magee, Piazza, Vlad, A. Jones, Glasscock, Boyer, W. Clark, T. Helton, Da Evans, W. Davis.

  10. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Fine post, Michael #102.

  11. Andy Says:

    Agreed. Michael has been on my short list of best commenters for a while.

  12. Matt Young Says:

    Agreed on nice post above-- I just disagree to a point. As far as above list, I agreed as well, I came up with 15-30 that would have been more deserving than Rice.

    Interesting, median for position players for Hall is 57.2 and for pitchers it's 54.9.

  13. Josh Says:

    For those interested, Rice wound up 80th on the 2010 Hall of Merit Ballot (was listed in the top 15 ballot slots on only 2 of the 40 ballots cast). To be fair, there's not a big difference between 80th and 40th, since really only about 20-30 people have support on a reasonably large number of ballots.

  14. Matt Young Says:

    Actually, median WAR for pitchers would be Mickey Welch at 56.50.

  15. Matt Young Says:

    As for Hall of Merit, Vic Willis has a WAR of 57.2, which is above the median, and a ERA+ of 118 over 4000 IP. He's not in.

  16. Josh Says:

    John Q: Alou is definitely another very good Rice comp, though to be fair, Rice had much better in-season durability, so I think Rice was more useful to teams. Ellis Burks is also similar (126 OPS+) though probably better due to his center field time. Bob Johnson and Reggie Smith (in particular) were outfielders who were much better.

  17. Josh Says:

    One fact about Vic Willis is that he was a really bad hitter, even for a pitcher, with -6.8 hitting WAR. Nevertheless, maybe Willis deserves a little more support.

  18. John Q Says:

    Josh, I still think Foster is the perfect comp for Rice, same time period same position, similar skill set, basically the same WAR, OPS+. Foster went to a pitcher's park and his traditional numbers went down and he didn't have Evans and Boggs hitting in front of him to rack up all those RBI's.

  19. John Q Says:

    I went back and I checked and there were 8 men elected as managers with at least 5000 plate appearances so I took them off the list. So there are 140 position players with at least 5000 plate appearances elected as "Players" in the HOF.

    Rice finished 122/140

    So the Median Career WAR for a position player is actually higher. The median would be Dave Winfield at 59.7 and Ritchie Ashburn at 58WAR. It's pretty interesting, on that list above, Sosa-Boyer all fall in between Winfield and Ashburn. Dawson falls a bit short of the median.

    The median HOF is around 59WAR and Rice had 41.5 so he was nowhere near a HOF. There's probably about 150-170 position players that were were better than Rice not in the HOF.

    The median player when factoring Peak+Career WAR (Career + Best 7WAR seasons)/2 was Lou Boudreau with a 56 career WAR, his best 7 seasons totaled to 44.2WAR, divide that by 2 and you get a 50.1 Peak+Career. Dawson and Winfield fall a bit short.

  20. Josh Says:

    John Q: Interesting stuff on the median HOF. Could you easily pull out percentiles for career and career+peak/2? Interesting percentiles might be: 10th percentile, 20th, 33rd, 67th, 80th, and 90th? I'd guess most of the guys above the 33rd percentile in the hall belong there, and the guys below the 33rd will be mostly "mistakes," and there will be enough eligible-not-in guys available to replace the "mistakes."

    I agree Foster is a perfect comp for Rice in style, value, and even in having one defining round number season (400-total bases and 50 home runs when both were very rare).

  21. Matt Y Says:

    In a general sense the difference between medians for HoF pitchers and position players seems to be about right --position players it's between 56-60 depending on formula used and pitchers it would be 54-56. A rough cut off would be 58 for position players and 55 for pitchers. I know I've seen 55 used for pitchers by others. I know Bill James always kind of used 300 Win Shares for position players and 250-275 for pitchers. Totals for catchers would seem to match better with pitchers than other position players given only 6 catchers have achieved a WAR over 58. It be interesting to see the two medians presented for each position right on through relievers.

  22. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    There are a certain number of guys who belong in the hall (IMO) based on accomplishments that didn't happen on the field in MLB so won't show up in WAR.

    You can't not put Satchel Paige and other NL greats who proved themselves in MLB in the latter parts of their careers in the hall, even though many of them didn't play MLB long enough to accumulate 50+ WAR. Similarly, if Ichiro retired today, he'd belong, because there is little reason to think if his first 3-5 years had been in MLB that he wouldn't have compiled a hall-worthy resume by now.

    You've also got guys who are in because or partly because of non-playing careers they had after playing, generally as managers. Curt Flood was a good player, but everybody knows he's primarily in the hall for his role in changing the economics of the game. I don't think these guys should be out, as it's the baseball hall of fame and not the hall of MLB player value.

    That said, I think you have to find a way to filter these guys out, when you look at the group of who is in the hall to establish standards for new inductions based on playing careers. We should be looking only at players who were inducted solely on the strength of their playing careers in MLB to establish the standards.

    I also think we should be looking by position for standards also, in order to catch things like catchers simply not being able (in general) to have as long careers as other players.

  23. Matt Y Says:

    The median HoF Catcher (not using Peak formula above) would be: Cochrane, Mickey 51.2 *

    As one can see Simmons would have the next highest WAR on the list. Catchers obviously are a different beast than other position players and my guess is they have lowest HoF median of any of the position players. Perhaps SS and 2B 's would the next lowest. Only 6 catchers have a WAR higher or at the median for all position players (56-60 median depending on approach).

    * =Hall

    WAR WAR/yr
    1 C Bench, Johnny 71.3 *
    2 C Fisk, Carlton 67.3 *
    3 C Rodriguez, Ivan 67.1 (will be Hall likely barring steroids))
    4 C Carter, Gary 66.3 *
    5 C Berra, Yogi 61.9*
    6 C Piazza, Mike 59.1 (will be Hall)
    7 C Torre, Joe 55.6 (only 900 games caught --too few games at catcher)
    8 C Dickey, Bill 54.8 *
    9 C Ewing, Buck 51.8 *
    10 C Cochrane, Mickey 51.2 *
    11 C Simmons, Ted 50.4
    12 C Hartnett, Gabby 50.3 *
    13 C Tenace, Gene 48.7 (not a "career" catcher either caught 900 games)
    14 C Posada, Jorge 46.1 (borderliner)
    15 C Schang, Wally 43.8
    16 C Munson, Thurman 43.4
    17 C Freehan, Bill 43.3
    18 C Bresnahan, Roger 41.6 *
    19 C Porter, Darrell 40.6
    20 C Lombardi, Ernie 39.0 *
    21 C Bennett, Charlie 38.0
    22 C Kendall, Jason 38.0
    23 C Campanella, Roy 36.0 *(classic peak guy)
    24 C Parrish, Lance 35.7
    25 C Sundberg, Jim 35.1

    Ray Schalk 22.6 *
    Rick Ferrell 22.9 *

    As one can see Simmons would have the next highest WAR.

  24. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Michael, Curt Flood is not in the HOF, but your point stands.

  25. John Q Says:


    I'm just guessing but it seems like the HOF skews a little bit more for peak with pitchers than it does for position players. Off the top of my head Koufax, Dean, Drysdale, Gomez, Walsh, Vance, Chesbro, Haines, Waddell, Ford were all elected on Peak performance. Plus you have relief pitchers which lower the career WAR median. Although it would seem that this has changed in the last 20 years and now they skew towards career value. Other than Koufax, Cone & Saberhagen were better pitchers than the 8 players I named.

    The HOF used to skew towards Peak performance with position players but that doesn't seem to the case since the mid 80's. There's dozens of guys like Earl Averill, Hack Wilson, Edd Roush, Ross Young who were very good/great players for 4-5 years but have little career value. You also find a lot of players with only 5000-7000 plate appearances getting elected. Ross Young was essentially Roger Maris which would just seem impossible to elect someone like that today. Even great peak guys like Nomar or Dale Murphy have little to no shot.

    It seems like now they skew completely to career value. I was trying to think in the last 20 years the've only elected Gordon, Lazzerri and Puckett as far as peak guys go. And Puckett is probably the last peak guy the writers elected since Duke Snider in 1980. Drysdale is probably the last Peak Starter the writers elected in 1984.

    Another point that's rarely brought up is that the league has 14 more teams than it had pre-1961, so logically there are going to be more HOF candidates today than before, yet less players are getting elected today which doesn't make any sense.

  26. Matt Y Says:

    Great points John Q and all points I had pondered myself. It's very hard now to get elected as being just a peak guy. As much as surely Koufax was a good pick you wonder how he would have done in today's voting/assessment climate. I still think he would have gone in with little problem. You'd think peak pitchers would always have a bit of an easier time getting elected than peak position players given pitchers pitch once every 5 days and each start is more magnified than a position guy playing 6 games a week--you could certainly argue the opposite of this as well. I'd consider Pedro more a peak guy, and perhaps even Schilling and Smoltz a peak guy --more Schilling than Smoltz for sure. This gets to my point about a balanced resume-- You can be more a peak guy as long as your career wasn't too short. To be just a peak guy you're sort of doomed, but to be just career, you have a better shot if that makes sense.

    I looked at the new Vet Committee changes and I'm hopeful they'll start making some wrongs right.

  27. Matt Y Says:

    "Off the top of my head Koufax, Dean, Drysdale, Gomez, Walsh, Vance, Chesbro, Haines, Waddell, Ford were all elected on Peak performance. Other than Koufax, Cone & Saberhagen were better pitchers than the 8 players I named".

    I'd still give the nod to Ford, Drysdale, Vance and perhaps even Walsh over Saberhagen and Cone. Even in the "WAR" only world they are better. Yes, in a "Peak WAR World" perhaps not, but to say that unequivocally is a bit of a stretch IMO.

  28. John Q Says:

    Catching is such a brutal position that it really needs to be looked at separately. And then it was even more brutal in early days of the game because the lack of protection available.

    I think Catching also needs to be looked at with peak performance because of the limited careers of catchers, especially pre-60's.

    Campanella also lost time in the majors because of segregation. He wasn't a full time player until he was 27 years old so that has to factor in the process, which Michael E. talked about.

    Simmons and Torre to me should have been HOF years ago. Even a 54 WAR for Torre at 1b/3b is pretty damn good and then you factor that 40% of his career was a catcher...should be a no-brainer. Simmons got hurt by perception because he spent all those years as a fat over the hill DH/1B in Milwaukee/Atlanta.

    Schalk and Ferrell are two of the worst mistakes/selections in the HOF. That would be like electing Bob Boone.

    Lombardi was a mistake, kind of overrated and feasted on ww2 pitching.

    I don't really have a problem with Bresnahan when you factor the era he played (1897-1915). It just must have been a brutal job. It seems like he was very good/great player during his peak, 31WAR best 7 seasons.

    Freehan is one of most underrated players of the last 50 years. Munson's career was cut short because of his death which I'm pretty sure if it didn't happen, would have been elected to the HOF.

    Tenace is also one of the most underrated players of the last 50 years but only spent about 50% of his career at catcher, so I don't think he makes it.

    Schang has good career value but was never a great player in his peak, only 24.9WAR best 7 seasons. Interesting character though, played mostly at catcher for 19 seasons before the ww2.

    Porter was a very underrated player. One of the all time bad trades was when the Brewers traded him to K.C.

    Cocharane, Carter, Bresnahan, Dickey, Piazza score higher when you factor in peak, but essentially the same list overall. Schang drops from borderline status when you factor peak.

    If I had to vote for HOF catchers I would go: Simmons, Torre, Munson, and Freehan.

  29. John Q Says:


    The Median HOF for Peak+Career (career+best 7 war seasons)/2 is Lou Boudreau at 50.1.

    There are 70 position players in the HOF with a 50.1 or better WAR Peak+Career.

    There are 111 position players who have accomplished a 50.1 or better WAR Peak+Career.

    70 are in the HOF.

    16 are eligible but not in the HOF: Boyer, R. Smith, K. Hernandez, Alomar, Raines, McGwire, Bando, Whitaker, Wynn, D. Allen, Larkin, Trammell, Grich, Dahlen, and Santo.

    25 are not eligible for th HOF: Vlad, Piazza, Helton, Sheffield, Palmeiro, Sosa, A. Jones, Manny, Rolen, I'Rod, Lofton, Biggio, Walker, Thome, Jeter, Shoeless Joe, Edmonds, Rose, Thomas, Bagwell, C. Jones, Griffey jr., Pujols, A-Rod, and Bonds.

    A Peak+Career score of 54 seems to be a lock HOF.

    There have been 78 players to achieve a "54" WAR 7peak+Career:

    57 are in the HOF

    14 are not eligible: Biggio, Walker, Thome, Jeter, Shoeless Joe, Edmonds, Rose, Thomas, Bagwell, C. Jones, Griffey jr., Pujols, A-Rod, and Bonds.

    7 are eligible but not in the HOF: D. Allen, Larkin, Trammell, Grich, Dahlen, and Santo.

    Those 7 players are the most glaring omissions in the HOF. About 93% of the players who have achieved this are in the HOF so there is just a gross mis-conception about these players worth.

    Rolen, Edmonds, and Lofton are the most underrated players of the last 20 years. And I would say that people put too much of Larry Walker's success on Coors Field and not on his talent.

  30. Johnny Twisto Says:

    The HOF used to skew towards Peak performance with position players but that doesn't seem to the case since the mid 80's. There's dozens of guys like Earl Averill, Hack Wilson, Edd Roush, Ross Young who were very good/great players for 4-5 years but have little career value. You also find a lot of players with only 5000-7000 plate appearances getting elected. Ross Young was essentially Roger Maris which would just seem impossible to elect someone like that today.

    This may be because careers have been getting longer. If the great players used to have 15-year careers, someone with bit shorter career but a great peak stood out more. Now if great players tend to have 20-year careers, that short career looks less impressive, relatively.

    Another point that's rarely brought up is that the league has 14 more teams than it had pre-1961, so logically there are going to be more HOF candidates today than before, yet less players are getting elected today which doesn't make any sense.

    I'm not sure if it's right or wrong, but it makes sense in a way. Even if the major leagues expand, fans don't necessarily expand the number of players they think of as legendary or iconic. If 50 years ago people thought there were, say, 10 superstars in baseball, do they now think there are 20 superstars? I'm not so sure that the number of players who seem to stand out will change in direct proportion to the total number of players, just because of how our minds work. That could be an explanation for why fewer guys who might seem qualified by certain measures have been left out so far.


    For those debating potential HOF catchers, I think you should consider Elston Howard. For a number of reasons his MLB playing record doesn't capture how good he was. I'm not sure if he's deserving or not but he's just the type of guy made for the Vets Committee to think about.

  31. Matt Y Says:

    Walker's Expos years are not as impressive as his Colorado years --they were good, but not as good. Larkin just came up on ballot and will go in soon. Trammell will likely have to wait until Vet Committee, which is a big crime.

  32. John Q Says:


    I was thinking about sportswriters and media people who are for the most part Baby Boomers and grew up watching baseball in the 50's-60's when there were only 8-10 teams per league with no DH. So they are comfortable with the notion that there are about 8-10 superstar position players in each league which kind of fits perfectly into the concept of N.L./A.L. All Star Teams. It just stands to reason that once you start expanding the league you're creating more and more jobs, more replacement level players, more bench players, more starters, and more super-stars. And because there are more jobs, players are able to start earlier and play longer.

    I went back and checked players in MLB with 5+WAR from the 50's when there were only 16 teams and players in MLB with 5+WAR from the 2000's:

    1950-15 players with 5+WAR
    1951-14 players with 5+WAR
    1952-11 players with 5+WAR
    1953-15 players with 5+WAR
    1954-17 players with 5+WAR
    1955-16 players with 5+WAR
    1956-20 players with 5+WAR
    1957-16 players with 5+WAR
    1958-15 players with 5+WAR
    1959-18 players with 5+WAR

    So that's 15-16 player median per season in the 50's. Which figures in nicely with the concept of all star teams.

    Here's the 2000's, position players with 5+ WAR

    2000-31 players with 5+ WAR
    2001-32 players with 5+ WAR
    2002-27 players with 5+ WAR
    2003-28 players with 5+ WAR
    2004-20 players with 5+ WAR
    2005-18 players with 5+ WAR
    2006-21 players with 5+ WAR
    2007-26 players with 5+ WAR
    2008-22 players with 5+ WAR
    2009-31 players with 5+ WAR

    So the median for the 2000's is 24 super star player per season, which doesn't fit nicely into the concept of all star teams.

    So basically there were roughly 8 more super-star players per season in the 2000's than there were in the 50's. So I would guess, There's were probably 5-7 more in the 90's, 4-5 more in the 70-80's, and 2-3 more in the 60's. So that makes about 30 HOF caliber players that aren't in the HOF since the 50's which sounds about right.

  33. Josh Says:

    John, I am surprised the number of superstar seasons went up by ~50%, but the number of teams went up by 88%.

  34. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I'd guess that could be the result of fewer innings thrown by SP resulting in less value resulting in fewer 5 WAR pitcher-seasons. Would be interesting to see the respective breakdowns by hitters and pitchers.

  35. James Says:

    @15 Joe: "3% actually said he doesn't belong in the Hall. I'm betting these are the same people who think juicers like Arod and Bonds do belong. Mind Boggling."

    So how do you know Vlad wasn't juicing as well? In the post-1990 era offensive numbers are slightly inflated because A.) Ballparks decreased in size making it easier to hit homeruns, B.) double expansion occurred (four teams in five years) which diluted the talent pool-especially for pitchers and C.) Widespread abuse of PEDs by the players.

    Vlad's numbers are decent even for his era, but his WAR is only 115th for position players, which does make him a borderline case for induction. The BBWAA also will have to consider players in this era may have used enhancers, they know some did, and some may not have, however the fact that some did use PEDs casts a cloud of suspicion over the others.

  36. John Q Says:


    The list above is just for position players, not pitchers. I decided to just make it position players because the role of starting pitching has changed so much like you alluded to.


    Yeah, I thought the 2000's were very odd the way they balanced out. You actually start out with around 27-32 position players with 5+WAR and then it drops drastically in 2004-2006 to about 20 WAR and then it shoots back up to 31 in 2009. 2009 is also strange when you think that consistent 5+WAR players like A-rod, Wright, Beltran, and Reyes were all injured in 2009 and didn't reach 5+WAR.

    I would think steroids and steroid testing has a lot to do with the fluctuations in the 2000's.

    The 1950's stay pretty consistent except for 1952 which I would guess has something to do with the Korean WAR and the amount of players in the Army.

  37. Justin Jones Says:

    Whether one believes Vlad is worthy of HoF induction really depends on what one thinks reasonable Hall of Fame standards are. If you think that Jim Rice is the standard, then clearly Vlad meets and exceeds that standard, and should be inducted. But it's not that simple.

    Vlad has been a good hitter, to be sure: career .950 OPS, 144 OPS+, and you have to respect the fact that he hits for average and power, doesn't strike out all that much, and is always looking to hit the ball, rather than take a walk.

    But...he's never once led the league in either batting average, on-base percentage, or slugging percentage. Never once led the league in home runs, never once in RBI. I'm not trying to say that you *have* to have led the league in one of those categories to be a HoFer, but I would say that it's pretty unusual for a power-hitting outfielder of HoF caliber *not* to have ever done that.

    His intentional walk totals are likely, as others have pointed out, a function of his time on bad teams, combined with a recent baffling resurgence in the tactical use of IBB among modern day managers (see: Bonds, Barry). Vlad ranks 4th all time in career IBB, but I don't think any sensible person would say that that in any way correlates to his stature as a hitter, in historic context. Nor does it make him more "feared" than Willie Mays, Mike Schmidt, George Brett, or many other superior hitters who trail him on that list.

    As with the aforementioned Jim Rice, Vlad's GIDP totals have to be seen to be believed, and cannot simply be ignored when evaluating him. To put them in perspective, Stan Musial grounded into two fewer double plays (243 to 245) than has Vlad (so far), despite having 4500 more career plate appearances. Musial was also slower than Vlad, and played on much better teams. Only injury and Father Time, it seems, will keep Vlad from hitting the 300 GIDP plateau for his career.

    Defense? Sure, Vlad's always had the cannon arm, though his accuracy was/is wildly inconsistent. His many assists are neatly balanced out by his many errors. As an outfielder, his defense is a wash: 44 runs saved above average over 1600 games. Ichiro by comparison in roughly the same number of defensive innings, has saved 130 runs above average.

    Right now, Vlad is in the low 300s in career Win Shares, a marginal total for a would-be HoF outfielder. I can't see that he's really going to add to that too much, as his peak seasons are in the rear-view mirror. He's about comparable in career value with Dave Parker, Andre Dawson, Ken Singleton and Dwight Evans, among Right Fielders. Dawson's in the Hall, and that's OK I guess, though I wouldn't have voted for him.

    Unless he surprises us all and has another monster season or two, I think Vlad should have to buy a ticket for Cooperstown like the rest of us.

  38. Matt Young Says:

    Vlad did win an MVP and even Bill James for position players used a win shares of ~300 to be Hall Worthy --he saw 250-275 win shares to be Hall worthy for pitchers.

    As for not leading the league:

    Black Ink Batting - 6 (338), Average HOFer ≈ 27
    Gray Ink Batting - 166 (65), Average HOFer ≈ 144

    Yes, low blank Ink but great gray ink! Black Ink is almost irrelevant today given there are now 14-16 teams instead of 6-8 teams. It's a lot harder to lead the league in anything now--100% harder than it was 50 years ago!

  39. Matt Young Says:

    Vlad is also having another great year and is adding to his Win Shares and WAR totals. He's not a no-brainer but does seem to be safely on the right side of the line.

  40. Justin Jones Says:

    @Matt Young:

    I agree. My real motivation for posting was really in reaction to the results of this Vlad poll. I think that there is a case to be made for Vlad's induction, but he is by no means a no-brainer. To my way of thinking, if you're not a no-brainer, then you probably shouldn't go in.

    I know that the Hall is already filled with a lot of players who are clearly inferior to Vlad--Jim Rice, Rabbit Maranville, Tony Lazzeri, George Sisler, those kind of guys. On the other hand, Vlad is inferior to some guys who are probably never going to get in, like Dwight Evans, Darrell Evans, Dick Allen, and Tim Raines.

    Or to put things about Vlad in a bit more perspective: his career value is very similar to Bobby Abreu's. Like Vlad, Abreu has never led the league in any of the following: HR, RBI, Avg, OBP, SLG. Not even once. It *is* harder to dominate than it was 50 years ago, but still, it is very unusual for a HoF-type outfielder to have never once led his league in one of those 5 in a career of at least 10 years (Hof min.)

    Vlad has 1531 Runs Created, using 5409 outs; Abreu has 1558 RC, using 5578 outs. Vlad has about 500 more Total Bases for his career, but Abreu's advantage in walks (+498), stolen bases (+185), and GIDP (-99) more than makes up for that. To simplify it, Vlad has a 24-point edge in career Batting Average, but Abreu has a 48-point edge in the more important category of career Secondary Average.

    No one seems to be banging the drum for Abreu's HoF candidacy, perhaps because he doesn't have the MVP, Vlad's memorable name, or the buzz, but value-wise, they are essentially even. I'm not making the case for Abreu to go into the Hall, mind you, at least not yet, but I think this once again illustrates how we become fixated on batting averages and home runs. Vlad's a very good player, and has had some great seasons. He needs one or two more very good seasons to get my vote.

    Fortunately for him, I don't have one.

  41. Matt Young Says:

    Sorry, still no reason to be banging the drum yet about Abreu!! And in fact, there are some already starting to bang the drum a bit about Abreu. Vlad is clearly better. No reason to debate that, it already has happened in this thread. We just disagree. As for your Darrell and Dwight Evans being better than Vlad, I also disagree. You interestingly use the fact that Vlad hasn't led the league in the stats you mention above, but minus Allen, neither have any of the others....and Allen did his in the 60's when it was easier to do. Looking at the Gray Ink, it's obvious that Vlad has come closer to leading the league in these categories than any of the others. Even in this WAR dominated forum he's already passed Darrell Evans, is 2.5-3 point from Dwight and Dick and is still adding. I remember both Evans' and I'd still give the nod to Vlad even though Dwight's my all-time favorite Red sox and clearly deserved more Hall play.

  42. Johnny Twisto Says:

    if you're not a no-brainer, then you probably shouldn't go in.

    That doesn't make any sense. The guys that seem like no-brainers are only no-brainers because Rice, Maranville, etc are in too. If you shrink your HOF to only the so-called no-brainers, you've just moved your borderline and now you have to decide if Al Kaline or Roberto Clemente really deserve to be enshrined with Ruth and Aaron.

  43. Matt Young Says:

    Vlad's also passed Darrell Evans in WAR in 6 less seasons and Dwight in 5 less seasons. I agree, Dick Allen should be in.

  44. Matt Young Says:

    I see Darrell Evans' somewhat consistently being brought up as underrated, and was he more valuable than a lifetime .248 hitter, yes he was underrated, but even with his 57.7 WAR, please, lets remember he still was a .248 hitter!!

  45. Justin Jones Says:

    I wasn't making the case that the Evanses should be in, just that they are of comparable (or superior) value to Vlad. Dwight Evans has 347 career Win Shares, Darrell Evans has 367: both higher totals than Vlad. The Hall is just fine without them, and, as with Vlad, it's not the end of the world if they get in, either.

    It seems to me that what Guerrero has to sell is offense, specifically batting average and power. His offense is mitigated by the fact that a) he's played in the big-hitting 90s & 00s b) 1/3 of his career walks have been IBBs issued by stupid managers, c) he's grounded into a ridiculous number of double plays. His defense is just average. Both of the Evanses, while not the impact hitters per 162 that Vlad is, were a) still both very good hitters, and b) unlike Vlad, were very good glove men.

    As to my "no-brainer" standard...I think it makes perfect sense. There are plenty of players in the Hall of Fame who are no-brainers, even though they do not rise to the Ruth-Wagner-Mays standard of excellence--the Robin Younts, Tony Gwynns, Paul Molitors, etc. They aren't no-brainers because of the inferior players already in the Hall; they are no-brainers when compared against all of the other players from their eras, and the other players in baseball history.

    Most of the mediocre Hall of Fame selections were the result of a) publicity from "The Glory of Their Times" and the like b) Veteran's Committee members inducting their old teammates and cronies, or c) the culmination of long-term PR campaigns/agitation (Jim Rice, Phil Rizzuto, etc). Take those guys away, and that does nothing to the "no-brainer" standard. If all of the Maranvilles, Lazzeris, et al were removed from the Hall, would that cease to make Albert Pujols a no-brainer? Of course not. Why? Because Pujols has led the league in Runs four times, HR once, Batting Average once, OBP once, SLG four times, OPS three times, Total Bases four times, Runs Created three times...should I go on? His career OPS+ is 7th All Time. He has about the same career Win Shares as Vlad, but with 1700 fewer plate appearances. He is dominating the game in a way that Vlad, the Evanses, etc have not, and that is why Pujols is a no-brainer, while reasonable arguments can be made for *and* against Guerrero's HoF candidacy.

  46. Matt Young Says:

    Pujols has about the same career Win Shares as Vlad, but with 1700 fewer plate appearances. He is dominating the game in a way that Vlad, the Evanses, etc have not, and that is why Pujols is a no-brainer, while reasonable arguments can be made for *and* against Guerrero's HoF candidacy".

    And Vlad has gotten his 330 Win Shares in 3000+ less AB's than the Evanses.

  47. Justin Jones Says:

    @Matt Young:

    Very true. I don't dispute that Vlad is a better hitter, per 162, than the Evanses. Of course, I wasn't making the case that either of the Evanses should be in the Hall, simply pointing out that in career value, they are comparable players to Vlad, and are not getting in the Hall anytime soon. If we're choosing Right Fielders, it comes down to personal preference, I suppose: Would you rather have the better hitter who is essentially washed up as a defensive player at age 32, or would you rather have the very good hitter who was also a perennial Gold Glove fielder? You couldn't go wrong with either guy, really, but I think I'd take Dwight Evans.

    A further note on the Vlad/Abreu comparison I made earlier. Vlad and Bobby have played in about the same # of career games (Vlad: 1949, Abreu: 2048). Abreu has 600 more career PAs, but that is because he is more durable and fit than Vlad, which should be registered as a modest advantage for Bobby. FanGraphs shows that, since 2002, Abreu has seen 26,010 pitches, while Vlad has seen about 17,000. This is a comparative advantage for Abreu, certainly in the current era of tightly-monitored pitch counts. Abreu is causing opposing pitchers to throw him 1,000 more pitches per season than Guerrero; to put it another way, Abreu is causing opposing teams to use the equivalent of 10 extra 100-pitch starts per season. I don't know exactly what the run value of that is, and I wouldn't want to overstate it, but still, it is there.

    Again, I'm not making the case for Abreu for the HoF, just that he's of comparable value to Vlad. There are arguments to be made for and against both players; neither is a no-brainer, and I'd say that their value is probably too close to reasonably call.

  48. John Q Says:

    Let's remember that Batting Average is very overrated and that Darrell Evans has a lifetime .361 on base percentage. That's higher than HOF Jim Rice, Andre Dawson, Roberto Clemente, Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, Robin Yount, Ryne Sandberg, Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Kirby Puckett, Willie Stargell, Eddie Murray, Tony Perez, Lou Brock, Cal Ripken and Ernie Banks by the way. And also remember that Evans spent his prime at Candlestick Park, one of the worst hitter's parks in the N.L. during the 70's-80's. Evans also was a very good defensive third basemen.

  49. Matt Young Says:

    Gee, .361, and Damon's is .357 and Vlad's is "only" .385.

  50. Matt Young Says:

    While OBP is better, I still don't subscribe to such nonsense of batting average is "very" overrated. Yes, a bit overrated fore sure, but I still value someone putting the ball in play.

  51. John Q Says:

    I never said Vlad doesn't deserve to go into the HOF or that Evans was a better player. Actually I think I said somewhere that if you put Vlad's peak with his career WAR that it averages out to 50 which is past the median which is a no-doubt HOF for me.

    I was just pointing out that you shouldn't just look at something like Batting Average to show the value of a player.

    And 3b is the most underrated position in baseball. They just don't vote for 3b. The HOF only has 6 of the top 15 third basemen in major league history in the HOF. There's no other position like that.

  52. John Q Says:

    There is value to a batting average, but nowhere near the level of attention it receives/received that's why it's overrated. On base percentage is the key stat.

    There is no clock in baseball so the 27 outs become the most valuable items in a game. The player with the ability to not make outs is the better player.