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POLL: Kenny Lofton and the Hall of Fame

Posted by Andy on August 31, 2010

Kenny Lofton led the league in stolen bases 5 times, was a 6-time All-Star, and a 4-time Gold Glove winner. He played in the 6th-most games in center field since 1954, and was part of an incredible number of playoff teams.

His 622 career stolen bases rank 15th all-time while his 160 times caught stealing ranks only 21st.

Does Lofton deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? Let's discuss and vote below.

For Kenny Lofton in the Hall of Fame

  • His 65.3 career WAR is 79th among all position players, in the same neighborhood as Ernie Banks, Roberto Alomar, Manny Ramirez, and Gary Carter.
  • Lofton's WAR total is boosted almost equally by offensive and defensive contributions. He was a good player on both sides of the ball and occupied key positions in both cases (leadoff batter, center fielder).
  • He didn't play his first full season until Age 25, which really hurts him in the counting stats area, such as total stolen bases and runs scored. His career OBP of .372, though, is a much better measure of how good he was at getting on base.
  • Among CF only, Lofton ranks top 10 in WAR:
    Rk Player WAR/pos From To Age
    1 Ty Cobb 159.4 1905 1928 18-41
    2 Willie Mays 154.7 1951 1973 20-42
    3 Tris Speaker 133.0 1907 1928 19-40
    4 Mickey Mantle 120.2 1951 1968 19-36
    5 Joe DiMaggio 83.6 1936 1951 21-36
    6 Ken Griffey 78.4 1989 2010 19-40
    7 Billy Hamilton 69.6 1888 1901 22-35
    8 Jim Edmonds 68.1 1993 2010 23-40
    9 Duke Snider 67.5 1947 1964 20-37
    10 Kenny Lofton 65.3 1991 2007 24-40
    Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 8/30/2010.

    That's a pretty impressive list, no?

  • From 1995 until his last season (2007) Lofton appeared in the playoffs every single season except 2000 and 2005. Think about that for a minute. Now realize that he did it with 8 different teams--the Indians 3 times (in 3 separate stints with the team) plus the Braves, Giants, Cubs, Yankees, and Dodgers. He also played for a very good Phillies team in 2005. The bottom is that wherever this guy went, his teams won. Sure, he can't take all the credit, but he was clearly an integral part of many, many very good teams.
  • Lofton has the reputation as the best leadoff hitter of his generation. Yes, there were plenty of other good ones, but he was the best over the entire period of his career.

Against  Kenny Lofton in the Hall of Fame

  • Career OPS+ of 107.
  • Career post-season line of .247/.315/.352 over a whopping 95 games, plus no World Series championships (losses in 1995 with the Indians and 2002 with the Giants).
  • Below-average fielding percentage in CF (although my guess is that this has more to do with him getting close enough to many balls that he made errors on that other guys wouldn't even get to.)
  • Despite being a good leadoff hitter, he never led in any major statistical category (other than stolen bases) except for hits in the strike-shortened 1994 season and triples in 1995.
  • Some degree of his success must be attributed to the fact that he played on a lot of really good teams. For half a season with the 2003 Pirates he had an OPS+ of 98 and  a .333 OBP.
  • Other than his stolen base total, his only impressive career ranking for a counting stat is Runs (58th) and even that is pretty low for a guy reputed to be the best leadoff hitter of his generation.

Please vote below.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 at 7:30 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.

171 Responses to “POLL: Kenny Lofton and the Hall of Fame”

  1. I may be in the minority, but I don't even look at a player's post-season performance when considering HOF. Sample size is too small.

  2. If Lofton is in, then Edmonds must be in. I don't even see Edmonds as gaining entry.

  3. Now this is an interesting HOF poll. Kenny Lofton was the best base-stealer of the '90s and one of the best defensive center fielders. I think it warrants mentioning that his OPS+ was affected by the fact that he played in an era with mysteriously high power numbers, and since his game wasn't built on power, his slugging is unfairly punished. Punt him back a decade or two and he might have had a career even more like Tim Raines', who I think thoroughly belongs. Heck, as is his numbers are comparable to Rock's, although that's before making the proper era adjustments.

    Lofton had the 4th-highest WAR from 1992-1999, beaten out only by Griffey, Bagwell, and Bonds, so he really was one of the game's top players for a good stretch. His WAR over that time period bested McGwire, Biggio, Thomas, Piazza, Larkin, and plenty of other players with strong HOF cases. I think I would probably vote yes, though I think it'll take a late, Blyleven-type push to get him in.

  4. I live in Cleveland, so I got to watch Kenny's peak years everyday. I actually met him once, and he couldn't have been nicer. My Cleveland bias has prompted me to believe that Omar Vizquel was the second-greatest defensive shortstop I've ever seen. And, even with all that, I never ever considered the possiblilty of Lofton in the HOF. That is, until I read your argument. Reading what you've said, it's clear he at least merits the discussion. Obviously, my Cleveland bias makes me easy to sway, but after considering what you've illuminated, I'd vote yes.

  5. I think Lofton has a good case. I'm sort of with Jeff H when it comes to postseason performance. I think a great postseason record can tip the scales and get you in (e.g. Schilling), but it can't tip the scales and keep you out.

  6. If you're going to build a lineup of guys not in Cooperstown, he's probably your leadoff guy. In 25 years, people will probably be talkin' about him as one of the best non-HOFers and asking us old folks what it was like to watch those 1990's Indians score.

  7. I'm really shocked at the voting results so far.....79th in WAR.

  8. Lofton was an very underrated player like most CF because they're often lumped together by the position OUTFIELD as if playing LF or RF is as easy as playing CF. There's no way the Indians could have played Manny and Albert Belle in the same outfield without a tremendous defender like Lofton.

    I would rank Lofton around 11th when you consider Peak. I would put Jimmy Wynn 10th because he had a tremendous peak.

    There are 16 HOF center fielders and the median career WAR for a center fielder is 63.8 so Lofton exceeds that total.

    The HOF voting for CF is very strange. There's the big 7 that are among the top 9 CF of all time already in the HOF: Cobb, Mays, Speaker, Mantle, Joe D., Snider and Hamilton. And part of that is a subset of the Big 5: Cobb, Mays, Speaker, Mantle and Joe D. who are among the top 20 players in baseball history. Then there's a big gap from about the 10th best CF to the 16th best Center Fielder where you don't have a HOF or likely HOF. Ritchie Ashburn is probably the next best around 17th all time. And then there are 8 more HOF CF picked rather arbitrarily from 18th to the 50th best CF of all time: Duffy, Carey, Averill, Roush, Puckett, Combs, Wilson and Waner.

    So really the HOF median at CF if you take (Career WAR + Best 7WAR Seasons)/2 should be about 53, which Lofton comes out ahead. (65.3 Career WAr + 42WAR best 7 Seasons)/2=53.65. But really the way the voting is likely to go, the HOF standard at CF seems set at the Ken Griffey jr. level. About (65) Career WAR + Peak.

    The voters look at CF very strangely, it's as if the Ashburn to Waner group doesn't exist in the HOF.

    I would say there's 4 solid CF candidates/omissions at CF for the HOF: Wynn, Minoso, Edmonds and Lofton.

    Andruw Jones still might have an outside shot if he can resurrect his career but it's not likely. And Carlos Beltran looked well on his way to the HOF before he got hurt during the 2009 season.

  9. For his pros, you forgot to list that commercial he did for DHL.

    Few contemporaries had more triples. I didn't look too closely at the leader list, but the only three Lofton-era names I notices were George Brett, Robin Yount and Steve Finley, although it looks like Carl Crawford will pass Lofton in two-three years.

    Also, with his counting number, he never took a step decline in his final few seasons, maybe he could have played a few more. However, his minor league stats and his stint with Astros don't exactly say he was held down in the minors too long.

    The difference in WAR and OPS+ is bothersome.

    Close, but no cigar.

  10. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Thers's no question in my mind that ofton belongs...getting him there, however, is another story. He's one of those players that you have to watch to fully appreciate.

  11. He absolutely belongs . . .
    . . . and it has nothing to do with the fact that I have one of his game-used jerseys 😉

  12. If a stat puts Kenny Lofton in the same category as Ernie Banks and Manny Ramirez then the stat should be deemed meaningless cause its absolutely absurd to put him in their category

    Kenny Lofton was a very good player but not HOF worthy.

  13. Interestingly enough, I recently looked at Lofton's profile page, and thought he would be a good choice for a Hall of Fame poll. As stated in an earlier comment, he was one of the best base stealers of the 1990s, which I think should be enough to get him in, though I don't know if he would ever get the needed votes.

  14. @Richard, #13:

    Have you ever stopped to consider the reasons a stat may put Kenny Lofton in the company of those players, as opposed to instantly dismissing that stat's merit merely because it goes against some notion you personally have of who is good and who is not?

    WAR is a great stat (NOT a perfect stat) because it makes you think about many factors: fielding, run scoring environment, positional adjustments, etc. No it does not do a perfect job of accounting for all of those things, but it puts you in a mindset of looking at a player's overall value in the context of everything else that was going on when that player was playing. I find this to be a very helpful mindset when evaluating players.

    Maybe you don't fully believe in WAR (or at all for that matter), but don't dismiss it because of one isolated incident like this.

  15. oops, I meant Richard #12.

  16. I'm not sure how people can be saying he should be a Hall of Famer. This isn't the Hall of Good players. Lofton was never really considered the best player on his team. He was always just a complementary player on good teams. His best comparable is to Brett Butler and I don't think anyone thinks Butler is a HOFer. They have very similar stats - bat about .290, OBP around .370 and OPS+ around 107. That's basically a good player but definitely not a HOFer. He was pretty good defensively, hit .300 and stole bases. Tim Raines was a lot better player with greater stats and he can't even get in.

  17. David in Toledo Says:

    For his first 9 (full) years, through age 33, yes: OB% .383, OPS+ 113. All his awards came in this period. For his last 7 years, no. OB% .354, OPS+ 101. What happened?

    For the first 9 years, Lofton was probably more valuable -- offensively, at least -- than Richie Ashburn. After that, no. Ashburn, who was a ML regular at age 21, had at least five years that were better than those in Lofton's abrupt decline phase. Ashburn, in his last two years, after age 33, had an ob% of .402. (You'd quit at that point, too, if you were being paid a 1962 salary and restricted in your team choice to the 1962 Mets.) I think Ashburn's 329 win shares to Lofton's 293 is about right.

    Raines, like Minnie Minoso, was essentially a left-fielder. He was, by my reading of things, a vastly more valuable offensive force, whether used as a leadoff hitter or in the 3-hole. I think his 383 win shares to Lofton's 293 is about right, and a Hall with Lofton and no Raines makes no sense.

    On another site, I find these lines. Lofton WAR 49, win shares 293, WSAB 116. Ashburn WAR 56, win shares 329, WSAB 133. Raines WAR 71, win shares 383, WSAB 197. At this location, Lofton is not the 79th in WAR but 286th.

    My long-time understanding of baseball history doesn't rank Lofton's full career as 79th. Maybe a little higher than 286, but closer to 286. What's the reason for the discrepancy in these numbers, and shouldn't we be cautious about relying on 79 while the discrepancy exists and the player in question doesn't rank #79 by very many other metrics?

  18. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    107 OPS+ is awfully low for an outfielder. So I ran some numbers on centerfielders.

    I looked at players with 50% of their games in CF and 7000+ PAs, who had at least 0 fielding runs and 100 OPS+, so guys who were average or better with both bat and glove. I got 15 hits. Kenny is tied for third in fielding runs with Willie Davis, behind Andruw Jones and Willie Mays. He's 12th on the OPS+ list of that group. but he's only 4 OPS+ points behind the guy in 8th, and has, IMO a clearly better hall case than any of 6-11 for various reasons, but baserunning being a big factor for all comparisons.

    65 WAR with a 40 war 7-year peak is pretty solid evidence he belongs to start with, so I vote yes, but I believe that the way his contributions are spread over many different areas will hurt him with the voters, just as it has hurt him in this polls. I'm a bit shocked that 65% so far have said no to his candidacy, but I probably shouldn't be given the previous reaction to Jim Edmonds, who has a slightly better resume.

    What I want to know from the people who are saying no to Edmonds and Lofton -- what CF from this generation do you put in the hall? Jones? (who I think probably could go, but has a weaker resume than these two so far) Nobody?

    Here's the centerfielders who've been inducted since 1980 by the writers:

    Kirby Puckett (not even really borderline on career value, one of the weakest choice by the writers)

    Here's the VC selections:

    Richie Ashburn (decent choice, but not as good as Lofton or Edmonds)
    Larry Doby (probably as good as these guys, if he'd had a full MLB career)
    Turkey Stearnes (Negro league monster. Played too soon to get a MLB shot so hard to judge, but I'd vote for him)

    So we've got basically one guy in who's played since the 1970s (Puckett), and he doesn't really belong.

    CF is not overrepresented in general.

    Now we've got two guys from this generation coming up for vote who are over 60 WAR, were clearly great stars of the game, and are average to above average for CF's in the hall now -- what's our justification for keeping them out again?

  19. Detroit Michael Says:

    It's closer than I thought but I voted no. The total WAR is fine, but (1) he's got two seasons above 6 WAR, not quite the peak one wants, and (2) are we really confident that we can say he was consistently about 18 runs better than the average centerfielder during his peak? If we regress the fielding more toward the league average due to measurement uncertainty, his case wouldn't look nearly as impressive.

    I would vote Edmonds in though.

  20. Although it's not really fair, playing for 9 different teams from 2001-2007 won't really help. Most people would think of him as an Indian, but I sure as heck would put him below Ramirez, Thome, and Belle just on his team and really don't think his peak was a heck of a lot better than Carlos Baerga or Sandy Alomar. Lofton was a good player but I'm amazed anyone would think he is a HOFer. Wow, the 6th most games in CF! Right up there with Steve Finley and Brett Butler, those first-ballot guys (also good players but not HOF guys).

  21. If you had to rank to the top 100 position players of all-time I really dont see Lofton even cracking that, so to say he is more like in the top 80 based on 1 stat is stretching it.

  22. @Steve, #16

    You may not believe in WAR (I'm not sure), but it actually lists Lofton as the best player on the Indians from 1992-94, in 1998, and the best position player on the Braves in 1997 (though trailing Maddux overall).

    @Michael Sullivan, #18

    I'm pretty sure Griffey counts as a CF from the same generation, and I'm pretty sure everyone sees him going in. I'd agree with John Q. @#8, though-- there are really just a few guys who REALLY throw off our perception of what it is to be a CF. If it weren't for the 5-7 truly outstanding CFs, we probably wouldn't have much of an issue electing a player like Lofton. Also, I just re-read Bill James' New Historical Baseball Abstract, and he claims that, had Puckett not had the eye problems, he had about a 62% chance of reaching 3000 hits. I'm inclined to believe that (particularly because he was a god in Minnesota, and they would have let him hang around as long as he needed to get to 3000-- plus those late 1990s teams were TERRIBLE). That being said, had Puckett reached 3000, his election becomes inevitable-- like it or not. So I guess, for me, the Puckett selection is just not that worrisome.

    For me, this is a toughie. I see Edmonds and Griffey as the definitive CFs of the era. I tend to be more of a small-Hall type of guy, and I think two contemporary CFs is probably enough. However, Lofton does present an interesting choice-- I'm inclined towards "no," but I'm not 100% sure. Maybe someone in this thread can convince me.

  23. This year Carl Crawford reached 400 stolen bases, 100 triples and 100 home runs. Barring injuries he should obtain a very impressive number. A sports commentator said he is the eighth player who played since 1900 to obtain these totals.
    I looked it up, and found the other seven are Kenny Lofton, Ty Cobb, Frankie Frisch, Paul Molitor, Lou Brock, Tim Raines and Tris Speaker. All but Lofton, Raines and Crawford, who is still active, are in the Hall of Fame. That is why I believe Lofton deserves Hall of Fame recognition. I voted that he deserves being elected, but will at best have a hard time making it.

  24. @Richard #12,

    By your logic the stat "Batting Average" should be deemed "meaningless" because Shane Mack has a higher lifetime batting average than Mickey Mantle and Barry Bonds.

    It could just be that Lofton's was greatly underrated by the media because they historically underrate Center Fielders and lead-off hitters. Maybe Lofton never received the credit for his glove work and his stolen base ability.

    Ernie Banks is an overrated player. He was tremendous as a SS during the 50's but he was pretty mediocre for the last 10 years of his career as a 1B.

    Manny Ramirez is an overrated player. He's a tremendous hitter but he's had the benefit of hitting in two great hitter's parks (Fenway, Cleveland) during the second greatest offensive era in baseball history. He was also a horrible defensive player that should have been a DH for his career.

  25. "I'm really shocked at the voting results so far.....79th in WAR".

    His Poll number don't really shock me at all. As others have already stated, if you use Win Shares or other calculations of WAR, his numbers are quite different. I think the Poll numbers just illuminate that many people use the WAR with a grain of salt (some justified grains of salt, others not so justified) and that the WAR has limitations for sure.

    I like to look at all of the numbers, and the more I do so, the more I find James' HoFM and HoFS to be quite useful and often more accurate than the WAR. Yes, to saberheads, and to James, the HoFM was not reflective of how deserving a candidate is/was --well, that all a matter of opinion. To staheads, yes, it's all about the WAR, but to others that like to look at more, the HoFM and HoFS are quite useful.

    Here's Loften's numbers below --they seem about right. He's borderline, but out, especially given he did little in the playoffs with his .247/.315 numbers. To me, the WAR overrates Loften too much. I want a well balanced resume, and these numbers are just not up to snuff.

    Hall of Fame Monitor Batting - 91 (179), Likely HOFer ≈ 100
    Hall of Fame Standards Batting - 42 (132), Average HOFer ≈ 50

    Edmonds' numbers are 88 and 39. Quite telling as well.

  26. Great pick for a HOF discussion, and so many great comments. When considering Lofton, I am concerned about a few things: the multiple teams and the fielding component of his WAR. How does a HOF'amer move around so much. I realize a few moves were free agent moves, but still, if he was that valuable why wouldn't Cleveland and/or Atlanta keep him. I also have a hard time with the fielding component of WAR, which gives him a huge boost in his WAR totals. Even with that, he only has 4 seasons above 5.7 for his career.

    According to Bill James' historical Abstract, leadoff hitters are underrepresented in the Hall. I don't really agree with him on that (you should remember that Rose is excluded for other reasons) , but if it is so, I would much rather put Raines in first. For all of Lofton's SB's, only once does he appear on the leaderboard for Runs Created.

    I think Lofton was a very good player, obviously the type who could contribute to a winning team. But among CF and/or Leadoff men,not already in the Hall, he would not be my first choice to elect to the Hall.

  27. Johnny Twisto Says:

    This year Carl Crawford reached 400 stolen bases, 100 triples and 100 home runs. Barring injuries he should obtain a very impressive number. A sports commentator said he is the eighth player who played since 1900 to obtain these totals.
    I looked it up, and found the other seven are Kenny Lofton, Ty Cobb, Frankie Frisch, Paul Molitor, Lou Brock, Tim Raines and Tris Speaker. All but Lofton, Raines and Crawford, who is still active, are in the Hall of Fame. That is why I believe Lofton deserves Hall of Fame recognition.

    That's why? Because he reached three round numbers which individually add nothing to a HOF case? Juan Samuel is only 4 stolen bases short, is he on the HOF borderline?

  28. I'm biased since Lofton was one of my favorite players but


    You asked why Cleveland wouldn't keep Lofton? Maybe because Atlanta traded Marquis Grissom and David Justice for him (two highly valued players). The next year he was a free agent and re-signed with Cleveland. All the movement after 2001 was because few teams were willing to take a chance on a 34-year old CF.

    If anything that Atlanta trade showed what value Atlanta placed on Lofton in his prime.

    Tony Lazzeri was the third or fourth best player on the 1930's Yankees (no other great lineups jumped off the top of my head) but he was also probably one of the top 9 or 10 players in baseball. Being the third best player on a lineup that may have been the best in history is for me a reason that Lofton should be in the HOF.

  29. If memory serves, the Braves had the trouble of two good rightfielders--Justice and youngster Jermaine Dye. The Braves elected to get rid of Justice and get a big upgrade in CF by swapping Grissom for Lofton.

    I think the trade did show how valuable Lofton was, but was not as stilted as #28 suggests because the Braves had to trade Justice or Dye and thus were in a weak position.

    As it turned out, they traded Dye two days later.

  30. " Because he reached three round numbers which individually add nothing to a HOF case"?

    That's a matter of opinion.

    From what I can tell there isn't a single person with 300 wins, 3000 hits or 500 Hr's that's in the Hall and shouldn't be. Yes, bring up Lou Brock, but he was borderline in. His WS is 347 and his Hall of Fame Monitor 151. And, if he's all you have for why milestones and raw numbers are meaningless, then that's pretty statistically insignificant. These numbers matter, maybe not the esoteric 400 SB, 100 triples and 100 HR's, but they do matter.

    Yes, Damon could hit 3000 hits and Moyer could hit 300 wins, but lets see if they can get there first. I would be willing to bet that if everyone starting only using WAR to induct players you'd end up with more than one possible mistake (i.e. Brock) and you'd perhaps have the likes of Darrell Evans, Craig Nettles, Willie Randolph and maybe Bobby Abreau in the Hall. The long and short of it is, Samuel didn't reach that number, and for a reason --he wasn't good enough. No, I don't think milestones or raw numbers should be automatics --I wouldn't vote for Moyer unless he comes out and wins a Cy or WS MVP, but to say they do nothing for ones resume is ridiculous IMO.

  31. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    Woops, Griffey would be a big omission.

    Still, it hardly seems over the top to put in 4 or 5 CFs over a 35 year span, and we've got a lot of people who think Edmonds doesn't belong either.

    You can make a case for Puckett on being a solid peak value, and having his career cut short due to medical issues unrelated to baseball (it's doubtful he could have saved his eyes by playing differently), so maybe it's a stretch to say he's one of the weakest choices, but I definitely don't think he's a strong a choice as Lofton, who had a similar peak (if you count all his skills and not just the bat), but more total career value.

    What site is giving 49 WAR for Kenny? fangraph's number is roughly equivalent to B-R. I'd like to see how they are calculating that number. Ignoring fielding? Using known terrible fielding metrics instead of the at least mediocre TZ?

    His TZ fielding numbers don't look fishy at all to me, having seen the guy play in his prime: he was a stud out there.

  32. Other non-statistical things to consider:

    1) Clean player in the steroid era.
    2) A fearsome base stealer overshadowed by Rickey Henderson shattering records before him.
    3) When joining the 2002 Giants, 2003 Cubs and 2007 Indians at the deadline, those teams were trailing in their Wild Card and Division Races: Giants by 1, Cubs by 5.5, Indians by .5. They ended up winning by a total of 13 games (Giants by 3.5, Cubs by 1, Indians 8.5). Rephrased: After joining three different trailing teams in deadline deals, those teams made up 20 total games in the standings.
    4) Once stole home on a wild pitch…from second base…in the ALCS.
    5) In 1998, turned down less money and more years (from Milwaukee) to return to Cleveland, after being traded away less than a year prior! Who takes less money to return to a team that just got rid of him (other than the people in parallel universes)? The point is that he was so good to the Indians’ fans in detriment to himself. How many guys are like that in any sport?

    Anyone who got to watch him play consistently knows he belongs. It’ll be great if he makes it, but if he doesn’t I won’t lose sleep because I was lucky enough to watch him play every day. To me there will never be anything better. I will be a baseball fan for life, and I can point to one player for that: #7.

  33. Thanks for the context Mark --it too matters. Not sure if it crosses him over the line for me, but it helps him some for sure. Sounds like he clearly was one of your favorites. I loved Dwight Evans, and I think he should have gotten more Hall play, but despite my fondness for him I think the voters got it right --he wasn't a HoFer.

  34. StephenH says:

    "When considering Lofton, I am concerned about a few things: the multiple teams"

    Then he's in pretty good company with Rogers Hornsby, Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield etc., and apparently Lofton was no Ron Karkovice 😉

  35. Mark @32

    #5, I think you mean "He turned down MORE money and MORE years from Milwaukee".

  36. Detroit Michael Says:

    I love those graphs. To me, it says why Edmonds feels like a Hall of Famer to me but Lofton falls a bit short despite the fact that they have similar career WAR totals. Edmonds' top 7-8 seasons are at or above the peak for a Hall of Famer. Lofton's graph is mostly in the gray zone, which is the 20% percentile - 50% percentile I believe.

  37. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Because he reached three round numbers which individually add nothing to a HOF case?
    That's a matter of opinion.

    From what I can tell there isn't a single person with 300 wins, 3000 hits or 500 Hr's that's in the Hall and shouldn't be.

    What are you talking about? The guy cited an achievement of 100 HR, 100 3B, and 400 SB. Kenny Lofton didn't hit 500 homers and rarely took the mound. Unless you think hitting 100 triples qualifies someone for the HOF, I have no idea what your point is.

  38. Johnny Twisto Says:

    oops, I meant to keep the third line italicized as well, quoting Matt #30

  39. Point taken Twisto.

    I did say -- "maybe not the esoteric 400 SB, 100 triples and 100 HR's". I understand your point, but milestones and raw numbers matter, and even to a small degree, the company Loften is in with achieving these marks matter some.

  40. @39
    Its the "You Can Make A Group" fallacy as described by Bill James in his HOF book.

    The more statistical "milestones" you group together, the smaller the group gets and then you can tweak the relative levels to include the player you want and then maybe a few inner circle HOF-ers. I'm away from my book right now, but I think James used five stat-milestones to put Amos Otis alone in a group with Willie Mays.

    The trouble with these are the relative levels. 100 HR is not impressive for anyone since WWII, but using it eliminates almost all the pre-1920 guys that dominate the triples leaderboard. Its statistical gerrymandering.

  41. @36 the graph shows Lofton has a consistent HOF-standard career, and Edmonds was at or above HOF level for half his career, but below for the other half.

  42. Detroit Michael Says:

    I don't think the 100 / 100 / 400 accomplishment for Carl Crawford or Kenny Lofton is anything more than interesting fun. It's not a serious HoF argument in my opinion.

    I will say though that the 100 HR does more than eliminate the pre-1920 guys. It eliminates some modern speek only players too such as Brett Butler.

  43. David in Toledo Says:

    Michael E. Sullivan and anyone else who can help clarify what I asked about in post #17,

    Kenny Lofton's career WAR total of 48.9 appears on his page at

    As I said earlier, I would vote "yes" for Lofton's first 9 full seasons. I vote "no" for his last 7, for what I saw during those years (and of course I did not see every Lofton game) and for 293 career win shares, which place him behind center fielders Willie Davis, Vada Pinson, Al Oliver, Jimmy Wynn, and George Van Haltren (not that I think they belong, either).

    If some people think a WAR total should be 65 (79th) and others think it should be 49 (286th), isn't it possible that we don't have a good enough handle on this particular stat yet? (I'm comfortable handling win shares.)

  44. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #25/"Matt Y Says: To me, the WAR overrates Lofton too much. I want a well balanced resume, and these numbers are just not up to snuff."

    Well Matt, if you want BALANCED, Lofton is about the MOST balanced, as far as his split of value:
    BATTING: 125 runs
    BASERUNNING: 114 runs (stealing + reach on errors + avoiding Double Plays)
    FIELDING: 113 runs

    You can quibble with the high fielding total, but he was by reputation an excellent fielder, won four Gold Gloves, and played center field exclusively till the last year of his career. As several people upthread have mentioned, most people lump in centerfielders with corner outfielders as far as hitting goes, but the defensive requirements are much higher for centerfielders, so that's not really fair. A player can have a lot of value through baserunning and defense, but only a few "defensive specialists", such as Ozzie Smith, seem to get that credit towards their HOF case.

    Lofton is much more qualified than HOF centerfielders Lloyd Waner and Kiki Cuyler, probably better than Ed Roush and Max Carey, and about even with Earl Averill and Larry Doby. He's similar to Richie Ashburn, as a leadoff hitter without much power, but excellent defense and baserunning. He's right on the border, but if Puckett is "in", I think Lofton should be "in". I realize that there are non-baseball reasons Puckett got elected.

    Also, he was really hurt by the 1994 strike, as it was his best year, and he was on his way to compiling an historic (150+) runs scored total. &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&
    #30/Matt Y Says: "I would be willing to bet that if everyone starting only using WAR to induct players you'd end up with more than one possible mistake (i.e. Brock) and you'd perhaps have the likes of Darrell Evans, Craig Nettles, Willie Randolph and maybe Bobby Abreau in the Hall."

    Sorry to pick on you again, but I WOULD take Darrell Evans, Craig Nettles and Willie Randolph for my theoretical HOF, over George Kell, Ray Schalk, Chick Hafey, George "Highpockets" Kelly, Lloyd Waner, Catfish Hunter, Jesse Haines, and at least a dozen others. I know the "Hall Of Merit" at agrees, bacause they elected the first three players you mentioned to their own "Hall Of Merit", but none of the people I just mentioned.

    The best feature of the WAR stat is that it eliminates bias based on era, or team, or ballpark, or on public perception based on popularity or one outstanding stat, letting "hidden stars" shine through. Maybe none of those three guys you mentioned "feel" like HOFers, but there's a lot of value to being really good over a real long period of time, as Lofton was.

  45. 5) In 1998, turned down less money and more years (from Milwaukee) to return to Cleveland, after being traded away less than a year prior! Who takes less money to return to a team that just got rid of him (other than the people in parallel universes)? The point is that he was so good to the Indians’ fans in detriment to himself. How many guys are like that in any sport?


    This helps his case?
    Mike Sweeney should get in the HOF easily then. I hear he's the nicest guy in baseball.

  46. Lofton was a good player, but never someone that would be said was a gret player. He was integral part of many winning teams, but usually was surrounded by other strong players as well. His numbers are good, but not good enough.

  47. No problem #44 --it comes with the territory. As for good balance, I want no large holes anywhere. He had a really good career, but his HoFM and HoFS are short of the line with his HoFM well short. I use the cutoff of about 145 for position players and 130 for pitchers. His is 91. Hi HoFS is also short, not ridiculously short, but short enough at 42. His WAR is inflated a fair amount by his defense --he was a good defensive player, but I don't trust the defensive numbers. Also, WAR overrates BB a bit as well. I completely agree that OBP is a better stat than Batting avg, but not by the degree the WAR has it. The WAR is a great number, another great way to evaluate a player, but it's far from some holy grail, which is what some on this site want to make it out to be. Edmonds is at the line, perhaps just in, and Loften is just out.

  48. Nothing like a good HOF debate to get the juices flowing.

    The skill set for a premiere defensive position is always going to make it difficult to quantify excellence and will color the discussion with anecdotal observation "outside the numbers".

  49. I should mention that those are my no-brainer cut off lines. As for position players, I like to see at least 95 to be a borderliner position player. He's even short of that line. As for the rest of his resume, he also had a pretty good sample size in the playoffs, and he did little with it. Save the playoff numbers shouldn't count. I agree it shouldn't hurt someone, but when you have someone that's a true borderliner I want to look at everything --his playoff numbers were pretty unspectacular and he had ample opportunity to do more than score from second on a wild pitch. Now, I am impressed that he was a consistent difference maker in playoff races, but he's still short of the line IMO.

  50. @47
    Where is your evidence that WAR overrates BB? Even if it did, what does that have to do with Kenny Lofton? Lofton had decent plate discipline but he never finished higher than 8th in the league in walks and his total of 945 ranks just 138th all time.

    Looking at his WAR breakdowns, "Rbat" is not a large component of his numbers most seasons... and the years that Rbat is high are the years that Lofton's batting average was sky-high. What does any of that have to do with walks again? Are you just tossing out common criticisms of stats randomly and hoping that one of them will stick?

  51. A quick aside, One thing I've noticed in these debates is that my standards are relatively low for the HOF. Almost every player that has been debated (santo, Edmonds, walker, Kent, thome, etc.) I've been for. I'm wondering if anyone has had the same experience consistently voting he same way?

    Also, I play in an NL only roto league and while star AL players always command huge dollars when Lofton was traded to Atlanta he went for $65, which still remains a record (Santana is the closest to come to the record at $56). Maybe why I think of Lofton so highly.

  52. dodgerdave Says:

    Lofton is more comparable to Brett Butler. Butler had a .377 career OBP while Lofton had a career OBP of .372. As far as plate discipline goes, Butler also had a better BB/SO ratio. Nobody thinks of Butler as a HOF.

  53. John DiFool Says:

    "Below-average fielding percentage in CF (although my guess is that this has more to do with him getting close enough to many balls that he made errors on that other guys wouldn't even get to.)"

    Most outfielder errors are either on throws or bumbled balls leading to extra bases which were already ruled hits.

    Anyhoo, I suspect something is weird, even FUBARed, with the Lofton vs. Edmonds WAR comparison. Edmonds slaughters Lofton with the bat (+339 runs vs. +125), but they end up being virtually dead even overall. If I add up the totals of each column, I get +440 for Edmonds, and only +379 for Lofton, but the site's RAR has Lofton behind by only 22 runs. Now, maybe I shouldn't be doing that, or there's something else hidden within RAR that isn't listed (Lofton does have huge edges in baserunning and avoiding DP balls, but only a modest edge with the glove.

    If forced at gunpoint, I'd probably vote yes on him, but a lot of Lofton's edges are less quantifiable than those for Edmonds. CF is now in the same voter's nether-zone that 3B have been, in that to be elected for either you must shine with both the bat and the glove, but that would mean that only about 5-7 guys from each would ever be deserving of election by the BBWAA's established CF/3B standards for the past 30-40 years or so. I don't think the standard needs to be that strict for positions which demand so much of the top players at each.

  54. BB doesn't relate to Loften, but does to WAR IMO. I've looked at the numbers and to me it seems WAR overrates BB a bit. Others have commented the same thing here in other threads --I tend to agree.

    Loften was better than Butler, but still short of the line IMO.

    As for the following comment #44 --"The best feature of the WAR stat is that it eliminates bias based on era, or team, or ballpark, or on public perception based on popularity or one outstanding stat, letting "hidden stars" shine through".

    I would unequivocally change that to ___the best feature about the WAR is it **TRIES** to eliminate bias based on era, team, ballpark etc. etc.

  55. I voted yes for all 5 you list #51, but there's plenty I haven't voted for --Loften, Damon, Abreu and others. I'm on the fence with Edmonds and Walker though, but gave them the nod. I wouldn't vote for Helton.

  56. Matt Y Says:
    BB doesn't relate to Loften, but does to WAR IMO. I've looked at the numbers and to me it seems WAR overrates BB a bit. Others have commented the same thing here in other threads --I tend to agree.
    Why did you bring it up in your case against Lofton if it didn't have anything to do with Lofton? And you haven't looked at the numbers. This has come up in other threads. People see an unexpected WAR for a pair of players and they *assume* it has to do with walks. Happened in the Abreu/Vlad discussion, too. But if you actually did look at the numbers, the explanation is usually in one of WAR's other's components. In the Abreu/Vlad discussion it was GIDP and baserunning.

    Walks have been used in uberstats for over 30 years now. Every one of them weights them about the same.

    I'm not 100% sold on WAR either, but "Rbat" is absolutely the least controversial part about WAR.

  57. joseph taverney Says:

    I can't believe no one brought this up... but Lofton was the point guard on a final four team in the NCAAs, that is one reason he started late(r) than most.

    For those who can't believe he played for so many teams... I don't know about other managers, but Torre called him a malcontent. Torre was/is infamous for spinning the good off bad guys, and overlooking character flaws (at least till he skips town [or is ridden out]). But I think I remember him and Shefield calling Torre a racist. I know I've argued this before, and no one wants to seem to admit it or accept it, but a player's attitude shapes voters opinions.

    And I find it hard to believe people on this thread are questioning Kirby Pucket's Hall credentials.
    I'll admit he wasn't the best player, but he was darn good, fun to watch, clutch, hustled every play, was gracious and was a winner. What else do you need?

    Lofton had a 10 year run that was upper tier, but he didn't sustain it long enough.
    Who ever said round- "magic #s" - are not a free pass to the hall, is missing one of the greatest things about baseball.
    I don't know how many points Kareem has.
    I don't know how many yards Emmet has.
    And I bet most don't.
    But we knew 755, 714, 660, 586, etc.
    It is all about the numbers.
    Baseball has a weird symmetry.
    400 SB is something I can wrap my head around.
    64.5 WAR...ehhh.

  58. John DiFool Says:
    I get +440 for Edmonds, and only +379 for Lofton, but the site's RAR has Lofton behind by only 22 runs.
    The difference is the replacement value, Rrep. Lofton has 281 while Edmonds has 240. Basically, Lofton's career is longer.

    Its an interesting question as to whether the baseline should be set to replacement level for a HOF debate. One on hand, a higher baseline might be interesting (WAA instead of WAR) because it would weight greatness over longevity. On the other hand, both Lofton and Edmonds have in-season durability issues (Edmonds more than Lofton, but Lofton's durability is not impressive). The lower baseline would punish them more when they couldn't stay off the DL.

  59. Bryan Mueller Says:

    I would love to see him get in although I don't think he will but he was one hell of a catalyst for most of his career.

  60. "Some degree of his success must be attributed to the fact that he played on a lot of really good teams. For half a season with the 2003 Pirates he had an OPS+ of 98 and a .333 OBP."

    I really have no idea what this means? Is the implication that he didn't put his best effort into seasons on which he played for bad teams? Is it that his numbers were somehow inflated by the talent/success of his teammates? What exactly is that supposed to mean?

  61. #57 Joseph, you must be a mind-reader. Your post relates directly to my Card of the Week post coming tomorrow, which I wrote earlier today (before your comment.) It's all about 755.

  62. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    "If some people think a WAR total should be 65 (79th) and others think it should be 49 (286th), isn't it possible that we don't have a good enough handle on this particular stat yet? (I'm comfortable handling win shares.)"

    Looking at the site you quote, just about everybody has a lower WAR there. It appears their baseline for replacement level is a bit higher than at B-R or fangraphs (which seem to be roughly equivalent). They say in their glossary that a replacement team would win around 67 games. I've seen 40 thrown around for the B-R version, and a bit of quick calculation based on the league averages vs. Rrep numbers verifies that B-R is looking at a replacement team that wins about 43 games. That's a 24 game difference. If position players are worth about 1/2 that, then you need to play at around 1 B-R WAR per full season to be positive by baseball gauge's standards.

    Looking at it that way, it makes total sense that Lofton would go from 65.3 to 49 having played 17 seasons. The HoF line for b-g war is probably 45-50 rather than 60ish.

    There are some other differences (some players look just as good under B-G WAR as under B-R WAR, and I didn't have time to get into the full calculation, although a couple details looked suspicious to me. In general though, almost every player had significantly lower WAR at thebaseballgauge than at B-R or fangraphs, and I'm quite sure much of the difference is simply in what they consider replacement level to be.

    As far as ranking, thebaseballguage seems to rank pitchers much higher than B-R, and the 286 is among all players, while the 79 is position players only. Lofton ranks 111th in B-R WAR among all players.

    In any case, the two sites are not as far apart as they look looking at just those numbers.

    Also, thebaseballgauge seems to differ more from B-R and fangraphs in batting stats than in fielding stats, where I think the B-R/fangraphs algorithms are pretty tight. I'd have to delve more into their principles, but I tend to trust B-R more at first glance.

  63. Rico Petrocelli Says:

    I notice that Lofton's similarity scorea mostly parallel player sof a bygone era

    Pony Ryan , George Van Haltren ,Fred Clarke , Sam Rice , Max Carey. What does it mean about Lofton?
    These guys tracked with him 100 years ago. Mix today's Johnny Damon and Tim Raines to round it out....not bad company. The I see that his closest allied player past age 30 was the (declining) Ken Griffey.
    He's a latterday Sam Rice combined with a hobbled Junior. That sounds like "almost" to me.

    The only other grad of Washington High in East Chicago IN was Tim Stoddard. When Lofton was 4, his 1971 East Chicago Washington High School Senators basketball teamwent undefeated (29-0) and won the Indiana state high school basketball championship. He was a starting forward on the Wolfpack’s NCAA Basketball champions.

    In 1979 Stoddard became the first player to drive in a World Series run in his very first at-bat. In 1983 his Orioles won the Wordl Series over the Philadelphia Phillies in five games, and he became the only man ever to win a championship ring in both an NCAA basketball championship game and a World Series.

  64. Baseball Guy Says:

    NO WAY. No way. Kenny Lofton in the Hall-of-Fame? No.

    As a Yankee, he was horrible. Overall for his career, he was a nice player. An all-time great? No.

    Why was he on so many teams - did he wear out his welcome? If so, maybe he wasn't a "winner."

    Bernie Williams was his superior in every way.

    Is Bernie a Hall-of-Famer? I don't think so.

  65. joseph taverney Says:

    @ andy,

    i can't wait for your card of the week now... well, always.
    there was something more than magic to the back of a baseball card when i was a kid.
    i'd mentally and physically divide up guys with 300 doubles into separate piles. 300 HRs & 300 2Bs were a special pile indeed.
    i remember when fred lynn past both, he went into the plastic sleeve.
    the numbers matter.
    they shouldn't, but they do

  66. #56,

    I did look at his peripherals -rbat is good, but it overrates walks IMO and I think all saberstats overrate walks.

    As for the BG site yielding lower WAR #62--that's way oversimplified. There are many that actually have a higher WAR at that site. When I looked at the site and first brought the site up months ago, I found many with with higher WARs. So to say 45-50 is the cutoff is way off the mark--Jack Morris' WAR is 53, Brock is 47, Pettitte's is a tad higher at 50.8, John Smoltz is 81.

  67. Part of the problem I have with the Top-X argument is that a lot more than X guys have, at one time or another, qualified as Top-X. For instance, at any given time, there are 10 guys in the Top 10 in career HRs (obviously). But the number of individual guys to have been a top 10 guy at some point is far greater. So when we look at Loften ranking 79th among position players, it's easy to jump to the conclusion that he's a shoe-in. But the odds are that Loften won't be a top 79 guy for long and may ultimately fall out of the top 100. Now, obviously, our standards have to change as the times change... we can't only vote in top 10 guys because then we'd simply never vote anyone in. But I also don't think we can say that a guy gets in because he ranks in the top X and there are more than X players already in the HoF. I don't really know where the threshold should be, but I think we need to look more carefully when considering all-time ranking on counting stats (and WAR is a counting stat, after all) and get a better sense of where the threshold should like that takes into account the ever changing nature of such lists. Obviously, rate stats are very different, since there is not always a reason to believe that those lists will see a lot of turnover.

    I do realize that certain changes in the game can lead to more or less turnover in a given list, for both counting and rate stats. For instance, if a modern pitcher manages to crack some of the more elite lists for CGs or SHO, that is something worth noting given the way the game is played (at least for right now). On the flip side, K-rates have changed dramatically and, if there is reason to believe the trend will continue, we'd expect more turnover on that rate list.

  68. Why is Lofton's name being misspelled so much on this thread?

  69. Jeff James Says:

    His name does seem to be misspelled ofton 😉

  70. David in Toledo Says:

    Michael and Matt, Thanks for your responses. Rico, the comparable to Ken Griffey is to Ken Sr (check the link). And I suspect Kenny Lofton would have had a better baseball career if he hadn't spent as much time playing basketball. Baseball guy, I would probably rank Bernie Williams's career over Lofton's, too.

  71. This debate once again illustrates some of the problems with WAR, namely, the totals depend exclusively on what number one arbitrarily chooses to establish as "replacement value", without reference to whether or not there's actually a player in a given team's minor league system who could play at major league level, etc. There also seem to be some serious defects, from time to time, in WAR's fielding components.

    In careers of nearly identical length, Kenny Lofton (.299/.372/.423) and Brett Butler (.290/.377/.376) are remarkably similar; Butler played in much tougher parks to score runs than Lofton, and so his OPS+ is 110 to Lofton's 107. Both guys were lead-off men. Both guys have about the same number of Win Shares. But WAR rates Lofton as 19 full Wins better for his career than Butler, on the back of Lofton's fielding. I don't dispute that Lofton was a better fielder than Butler, and certainly a superior athlete; but it seems ludicrous to suggest that Lofton won 19 more games with his glove over his career than Butler. 19 more games than Greg Luzinski, yes, but not 19 more than Butler.

    For what it's worth, Baseball Prospectus has Brett Butler at 54.6 WARP, Kenny Lofton at 51.3, so apparently there are others who also see these specific WAR ratings as questionable.

    I liked Lofton as a player, liked Butler as a player, liked Jim Edmonds as a player. They were all fine players. I would not put any of them in the Hall of Fame.

  72. David in Toledo Says:

    Consider Cesar Cedeno as one of Kenny Lofton's comps. Both played 17 years, their career win shares are nearly identical, so are their WAR (by one measure), they both got off to great career starts and then faded to part-time players, speed was a big part of their games. Cedeno's raw numbers don't look so good because he played in a bad hitting environment (both in his time period and in the Astrodome).

    Could someone tell me how many different formula for WAR there are, and why there's no consensus?

  73. I put SO little stock in defensive WAR, and this is one of the reasons why. You're telling me that Manny Ramirez and Kenny Lofton are comparable players? Not a chance. Then you look at the RAR breakdown and see the truth: 665 (and counting) vs 125. You subrtract 122 runs because Manny played left field? You're telling me that he has, over the course of his career, cost his team 12 games, not by anything he's done, but by the simple fact that the manager placed him in left? Listen, I love Kenny, I loved him before he came to SF, I loved him here, and I loved him after. I hated Manny with Boston and I hated him much more with LA. But to say that the two are about equal in terms of what they've done for their teams? That's absolutely ridiculous.

  74. @66

    Matt, how can a walk possibly be overrated? The batter's number one job is to not make an out, as making an out is an inherently bad thing and does nothing to improve scoring opportunities for the rest of the inning. It just doesn't. Look at any run matrix you want, theoretical or empirical. Outs are bad, and a walk is the opposite of an out. Is it as good as a hit? Generally speaking, no, though it's useful in that it tires or rattles a pitcher, and it's the same as a single with nobody on base, the most common situation and the most common hit. But to say that walking isn't a valuable offensive metric is simply ignoring the realities of the game. You can't overvalue walks unless you start undervaluing hits. I don't know of anyone who does that. OBP has the greatest correlation with scoring and justly deserves its praise, but SLG is one of the other most revered stats, and it is strictly about hits and power.

    As a very simplistic example of the value of walking: based on my own Run Matrix-related research, I have determined that 5 walks are roughly equivalent to 1 home run. If we say that a player is aggressive, takes more cuts, and walks 20 fewer times than he normally would have, he would need to hit 4 home runs within those 20 at bats just to recoup the losses from not walking. Considering that few players can average more than 1 home run every 20 at bats, you can see the difficulty. You need to hit pretty well in those "lost at-bats" to make up for the increased number of outs. You're better off just getting on base when the opportunity presents itself.

  75. Lofton is also about 4 wins better than Butler in terms of base running (BR+ROE+GDP) according to WAR. Also, it was Lofton's era more than the parks he played in that make his OPS+ less than Butler's which, I think, is unfair (since as has been pointed out, Lofton was out of place in an era of home runs). This does end up helping Lofton in some way since Lofton is almost 2 wins ahead of Butler on position because at the time having a replacement CF was much harder when Lofton played than when Butler played (a .300/.370/.400 line is OK for a corner outfielder in a poor hitting era, not OK in a good hitting era). Also over 2000 games and twelve and a half full seasons, its not hard to believe that Lofton was worth a win and a half per season in the field.

    So when you consider that Butler and Lofton were approximately equivalent batting but that Lofton was immensely better as a fielder and a base runner and was able to competently bat at a premium defensive position during one of the most offensive eras in baseball, I think there really isn't a comparison between the two.

  76. I'm kind of surprised that "only" 60% are in the "No he doesn't deserve to get in and he'll never get in" camp. Good ballplayer. Not HOF level.

    Jeff H @1, for the most part I agree that postseason accomplishments shouldn't be too overvalued because in most cases they are small sample sizes. That said, they shouldn't be ignored either since it is part of a player's MLB career, and the games have a greater level of importance. So, as an example, I would have to consider Mariano Rivera's postseason record when he comes up for vote. He's pitched 133 innings in the postseason, which is almost the equivalent of two full regular seasons or work. In Rivera's case it's not required since I have him as a HOFer regardless, but let's say that it was Billy Wagner who had Rivera's postseason record. That might move me to punching the ticket for Wagner.

    Curt Schilling is another player whose postseason record might help push him over the edge. He's on the edge right now, but he was an exceptional postseason pitcher with some rather significant signature moments. That should be considered part of his record. If Schilling makes the Hall and Kevin Brown doesn't, it will be because of Schilling's post season accomplishments. Andy Pettitte is another example. He is not a HOFer today. Yet if he does decide to pitch another three or four seasons and finishes somewhere around 280 career wins. His additional post season wins will push him over 300 for his career. They'd have to be taken into account.

  77. @73 - I agree. Cesar Cedeno is a great comp for both Lofton and Brett Butler, and a better player than both, since he had bigger-impact seasons.

    @73 - I agree completely.

    @75 - I agree that Lofton was the superior player to Butler, and I'd choose him over Butler for CF if I were making a team. I guess my point was that WAR drastically overstates the difference between the two. I think Lofton was better, but not 19 Wins better. And neither guy is as good as Jim Edmonds, and Jim Edmonds is, at best, the 17th or 18th best CF of all-time. Good enough for the Hall? I say no.

  78. Oops, I meant to agree with #72 about Cedeno.

  79. Joseph Taverney @57 -- "...400 SB is something I can wrap my head around. 64.5 WAR...ehhh."

    That's a valid point on a number of levels. 400 SB (and all the other numbers you mentioned) are real and specific. We know what they mean. Rickey Henderson stole a base in a game. I saw it. I know what that means. What WAR attempts to is put in context and address the overall value the player provides, regardless of the time in which he played, etc. That's all nice, but as you put it "64.5 WAR...ehhh." WAR will never get a player elected to the HOF, and it shouldn't. There are many variables and elements that go into the mystical WAR numbers that many intelligent people disagree with. Change one input, the overall number changes. Tweak the defensive ratings, or replacement level settings, and the numbers change. It's a nice stat to consider, but it's not something to be used for determining HOFers by itself. Do I actually think Lofton is a better and more valuable player than all the ones listed behind him in WAR. Not on your life...or mine!

    Baseball Guy @64 -- You were the first person to even mention Bernie Williams in a discussion of the top CFers of his time. Too much attention was focused on Brett Butler in the other notes. Good heavens. I'll take Bernie, too. He's not a HOFer, but I'd rather have him than Lofton. Neither should be in the HOF.

  80. Yeah, Lofton's WAR. Then some older HOF-ers are over-rated! Doesn't mean we have to vote in Lofton to justify previous votes.

    I can't believe the voting is so pro-HOF for Lofton. Did any of us actually think HOF for Kenny at the time of his career? His period of - I don't even know what to call it - the six years when has at his best. It was about 6-7 seasons. Then he just added numbers for another 10 years. He was very good, never great, and he was "very good" for a short span of time.

    I really liked Lofton as a player, and I never would have considered him HOF-quality. Still don't. I like triples and runs and SBs.... HOF? Pffff. No way.

  81. There are a number of comments on this thread and other recent threads involving WAR that I think display a strong lack of critical thinking about stats.

    I am in complete agreement that WAR is still in its infancy. The fact that WAR numbers vary significantly by website and method indicate lack of a consensus on how it should be calculated. It's also true that the defensive component of WAR is, in particular, obtuse.

    However, I've seen a number of comments arguing against WAR with a flavor of "you mean to tell me that X??!?!?!" and "How could it possibly be true?!?!??" I think this is the same type of baseball fan who, in the 1980s, would have thought that a guy with a .300 BA was a star even if his OBP was .320.

    Do I think that Manny cost his teams 12 games (on defense only) in comparison to Lofton? ABSOLUTELY YES. Red Sox fans will tell you that in his last 2 years in Boston, he actually directly lost 3 games on defense by failing to hustle and catch fly balls in the late innings of a close game. In each case, he allowed a ball to fall in for a hit and the winning runs scored. In one game, he followed it up with a terrible throw allowing another run to score. And these are only the really obvious cases of Manny blowing a game in the late innings. How many fly balls fell in for hits near Manny that DIDN'T fall in for hits near Lofton? These things add up over a bunch of years...extra guys getting on base and extra bases advanced by runners.

    Am I saying that the fielding runs component of WAR accurately measures such differences? No, I really don't know how accurate it is, but I think it's a better measure that gets closer to objectivity than our collective subjective memory of how these players performed. Anybody who thinks that over their long, long careers the difference in Lofton and Manny's defense was not equivalent to a significant number of wins is not thinking critically about the situation.

    WAR is a new resource for us that definitely provides some valuable information. Exactly how much is certainly debatable, and over time I think we'll learn that. But anybody who dismisses it with arguments such as "how can this be true?" is really not looking at reality.

  82. Well put Andy! I completely agree that WAR is ANOTHER great way to evaluate a be even better if we could all meet in the middle and not have ones that hold the WAR as near gospel, and others that somewhat cast it off without even much of a look. Overall, I will say I like the HoFM and HoFS as much as the WAR. I also like to look at Win shares and other calculations of WAR or WARP. I don't think there will ever be just one way to evaluate a player or one way to calculate a WAR...and that's the way it should be. I'm not saying we shouldn't try to improve the WAR, but it's good we have several ways to evaluate a player.

  83. Damon, Raines and Lofton will all end up short of the HOF although Damon still has a hail-mary if he can put up better numbers in the future (if anyone takes him next year). To me, Raines is 1 tier short and Lofton/Damon are two tiers short of the HOF and how could you put Lofton in before Raines?

  84. True. Bernie over Lofton but neither one is getting in.

  85. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    Matt Y@66: "As for the BG site yielding lower WAR #62--that's way oversimplified. There are many that actually have a higher WAR at that site. When I looked at the site and first brought the site up months ago, I found many with with higher WARs. So to say 45-50 is the cutoff is way off the mark--Jack Morris' WAR is 53, Brock is 47, Pettitte's is a tad higher at 50.8, John Smoltz is 81."

    I didn't edit that carefully. When I looked at *position players* at tbg, almost all had lower WAR than at B-R, but a few had similar or slightly higher numbers, and the average differences roughly jibe with the higher replacement baseline described in their glossary compared to what I imputed from a sample of stats on B-R.

    When I looked at *pitchers*, it was the opposite -- almost all had higher, in many cases *much* higher WAR than at B-R (I didn't find any same or lower).

    Now clearly there are other differences between the algorithms as well. Some players get hit (or pitchers bumped) more than others by tbg vs. B-R, but in general, you can't compare the raw numbers intelligently because they are working from a different baseline.

    If B-R used the same replacement baseline as tbg to compute Lofton's WAR, it would come out to right around 50 -- very close to what tbg has for him. But the HoF cutoff under this number is lower, because it's a higher replacement baseline.

    Now it may be that wins above a 67 win replacement team baseline is a more appropriate hall qualification test than wins above a 43 win replacement team baseline (and it might be that WAA or WAE are even more appropriate).

    In general, the higher you set the baseline, the more you are valuing peak performance over durability and longevity, and it's a matter of judgement where this should be, or whether we should try to weight a couple of factors separately (John Q like to average 5 year peak WAR with career WAR, maybe a better approach would be to average WAA with WAR, or WAE with WAR, or just to use a higher replacement baseline a la tbg, or some other combination).

    But the point is that you can't compare these numbers as if they are measuring the same thing -- they aren't. The relevant point is that Lofton ranks 76th among position players at B-R, and somewhat lower than that (not sure, I couldn't get a breakdown at tbg for where his 49 ranked among position players, I'm guessing it's in the 100-150 range) at tbg.

    What these difference say to me is that Lofton's career involved more plate appearances than average for players in his general career value range. IOW, there are more guys with 55-65 WAR with a shorter career but better peak than Kenny Lofton, than 65-75 WAR guys where it goes the other way. Or to put it another way: in spite of having only 17 years of medium durability (only a few seasons over 150 games), he's got a hall resume with more longevity/durability weight than average for guys who are debatable.

    Some of this probably comes down to batting leadoff for almost his entire career.

    Use that as you will to make your judgements on his hall resume.

  86. #85 --I appreciate your description of the differences b/w the two WARs --I did however find plenty of position players that also had higher WARs --for whatever that's worth. We basically agree on most players, I'm pretty moderate to fairly large Hall guy, you seem to be a pretty large Hall guy --we're basically coming to the same conclusions on most players, its just we're getting there in different ways. It's all good.

  87. I would agree that Bernie is not a HoFer, but Posada and Pettitte are inching closer --at least if Andy can get healthy and come back for another year or two --I don't think he needs 3-4 years though like someone else noted --1-2 could be enough.

  88. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    Several people have compared Lofton to Brett Butler. While Butler was a very very good player for quite a while, I think he falls short of Lofton in three areas:

    POWER - Butler had considerably less power than Lofton (10/4 in HR; 49/34 in extra base hits per 162 games)
    STOLEN BASES - Butler had a SB% of just under 70%, which is just over the break-even point. Lofton had a SB% just under 80% (however the break-even point is higher in Lofton's era)
    DEFENSE - Butler was good, but not in the class of Lofton, both by reputation (no GG) and numbers (-83 runs career)

    Despite the lack of power, Butler was probably a better hitter than Lofton; Butler's "AIR" (the overall offensive level) was only 97, a bit below average, while Lofton's AIR was 109, well above average. As several others pointed out, Lofton may have been more valuable if his career started twenty years earlier.

    I'm not gonna go out of my way on a HOF campaign for Lofton; there are several better OF candidates both on the ballot (Raines) and active (Edmonds, Vlad). I do think he's a credible candidate, and deserves more credit for his outstanding defense and baserunning. Sportswriters frequently type, "It's DEFENSE and pitching that wins games", but when it comes to the HOF voting, they don't seem to give much credit to most position players for defensive value.

  89. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    Justin @77: "Jim Edmonds is, at best, the 17th or 18th best CF of all-time. Good enough for the Hall? I say no."

    I invite you to name specifically the 16 centerfielders you think are/were unarguably better than Jim Edmonds.

    I think if you are honest about it, it will be very hard to come up with even 10-12.

    Jeff @73: "You're telling me that he has, over the course of his career, cost his team 12 games, not by anything he's done, but by the simple fact that the manager placed him in left?"

    No. I'm quite certain that placing Manny in Centerfield would have cost more games than placing him in Left.

    I think Andy didn't really understand your question when he answered you (Manny certainly *did* cost 12 games or more by his fielding relative to an average leftfielder, but that isn't what you are asking about here).

    What the Rpos stat is saying is that the average leftfielder (over the course of Manny's career) generates 12 more wins by things other than fielding value, than the average player overall (and lofton gets a small positive, because centerfielders on average generate slightly less than average wins by things other than fielding. If we assume managers are not stupid, the reason leftfielders are this much better than average is because that is the appropriate tradeoff for how much offense you need out of a left fielder versus centerfielder etc. So someone who can play centerfield at an average level is that many runs better than someone who can't, but can play leftfield at an average level. Presumably if a guy could be either an average or better LF *or* a below average but competent CF, you play them in center if the difference in their fielding is at worst 12 wins over the course of a long career worse than it would be in LF. So Bernie plays center because even though he's not great out there, he's not awful, he'd probably only be averagish in the corners, plus his bat is superb for a CF, while it would be only above average for a LF/RF. Manny on the other hand is a big liability already in left, but his bat is so good you take the hit, but he would absolutely destroy you if you tried to play him in center -- so he plays left, or DH when you can get away with it. There are more guys like Manny than like Bernie, so CF is a more valuable position, and you need more bat out of LF.

    I can absolutely believe that if Manny was able to play center to the same standard that he was able to play left, it could easily be worth 12 wins to his team. His manager putting him in left instead of center doesn't cost him those 12 wins on his WAR. The fact that everybody and their grandmother knows that any manager who doesn't want to get fired yesterday knows better than to try playing Manny at center because he would absolutely kill you out there, costs him those 12 wins.

  90. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #89/Michael E Sullivan- REALLY GOOD explanation of "replacement level value" for defensive positions in that second-to-last paragraph. Every one here should give it a look.

    Interesting about Manny Ramirez: he always played RIGHT field (considered a bit more difficult than left field) for the Indians, but played only LEFT field for the Red Sox (except for a few games). Why?
    Indians: Albert Belle was already a regular when Manny came up, and Manny had a stronger arm?
    Red Sox: Trot Nixon and JD Drew were obviously superior to Manny.

    I agree with you about Jim Edmonds being top-dozen (at worst) all-time in CF. The Baseball Network had a special where they ranked him 9th all-time amongst centerfielders. As I recall:
    #1! - Willie Mays
    #2 - Ty Cobb
    #3 - Tris Speaker
    #4 - Mickey Mantle (or 3/4 flipped?)
    #5 - Joe Dimaggio
    #6 - Junior Griffey
    #7 - Duke Snider
    #8 - Kirby Puckett
    #9 - Jim Edmonds

    No 19th century or Negro Leagues (sorry, Billy Hamilton and Oscar Charleston)

    Looks quite reasonable to me - I might put Hamilton about #7 and Oscar #3/4...

  91. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    You really consider these votes "so many pro-HOF"? The votes as I'm looking now, stand at 36% saying he deserves it, and 16% saying he'll make it.

    That looks fairly anti- to me.

  92. "I invite you to name specifically the 16 centerfielders you think are/were unarguably better than Jim Edmonds."

    I'll do you one better and list the top 20 by BBRef's WAR (with all the caveats that apply-just a starting point-20th century only BTW, but HoFers who are outside the top 20 I'll list too), and see who arguably beats out Edmonds & Lofton:

    1. Cobb 159.50
    2. Mays 154.70
    3. Speaker 132.90
    4. Mantle 120.20
    5. DiMaggio 83.60 (+ war credit)
    6. Griffey Jr. 78.40
    7. Edmonds 68.10
    8. Snider 67.50
    9. Lofton 65.30
    10. Reggie Smith 63.40
    11. Wynn 59.80
    12. Andruw Jones 59.50
    13. Ashburn 58.00
    14. Willie Davis 57.20
    15. Dawson 57.00 (yes RF half his career...)
    16. Beltran 55.50
    17. Cedeno 52.20
    18. Max Carey 50.60
    19. Chet Lemon 49.90
    20. Pinson 49.30

    HoFers not on above list

    Doby 47.40 (+ color barrier credit)
    Puckett 44.80
    Averill 45.40
    Combs 44.70
    Hack Wilson 39.10
    Lloyd Waner 24.50

    Safe to say that the top 6 beat both Edmonds and Lofton out pretty easily. Junior, before his glove went south, was an absolute monster. Snider is actually a very good comp for Edmonds: similar hitters, but the Duke was better, Edmonds I think most would agree the better glove (I don't know if the Dodgers could have gotten away with playing Snider in say the Polo Grounds). Still, Snider's peak is a bit better, and we are more certain of the batting edge than the fielding one, so Edmonds slides to #8.

    Who now are you going to put above him? Well, there's Lofton at #9, and for the same reasons listed above I'm more comfortable with Edmonds ahead, so we'll keep them at 8/9 for now.

    Now we reach Reggie Smith, again a very comparable player to Edmonds, but the peak isn't quite as spectacular (I'll also note that Smith, like Jim, is very low on Black Ink-only 4), so Edmonds remains at #8. I think I'll again put the bat over the glove, so it's now Edmonds 8/Smith 9/Lofton 10.

    Wynn is comparable to Edmonds as a hitter: as a fielder not so much. No change, despite my sympathies towards The Toy Cannon (if he was a Cub he would have been in years ago).

    Andruw Jones is a direct contemporary of both: BBRef has his D as being lights-out, but the bat falling short (esp. in the on-base dept.). 38 points of OBP outweighs the defensive uncertainties in my book (likewise for Lofton, +34 OBP)-no change.

    Ashburn is Lofton's best comp on this list; the biggest difference is the stolen bases. If Ashburn came along 10 years later, there's little doubt he'd be finishing 2nd to Maury Wills most years, but we can't give credit to imaginary statistics, so Lofton remains ahead.

    Dawson just got elected, but his peak doesn't seem quite as sustained as Edmonds', and he was a RFer for the last half of his career, and we also got the on-base thing to consider. No change.

    From there on out it becomes an increasing stretch to put the likes of Willie Davis, Cesar Cedeno, or Carlos Beltran (who still has a chance to pass them of course) ahead, as these guys often have the same strengths and weaknesses, but are clearly lesser players, or have much less playing time.

    Personally, I don't want a HoF which has only 7 CFers in it, so both Edmonds and Lofton easily clear the bar for me, despite my quibbles with WAR.

  93. I try to look at it from the view of the lazy baseball writing flock and I think the verdict is "very good but not great". To make the Hall as an outfielder, they expect a five-tool guy like Andre Dawson and if you are going to lack one of the tools, it better not be home run power. Unfortunately for Lofton, that's what he lacks. If you don't have that, you have to either be an all-time great in batting average (Tony Gwynn) or stolen bases (Rickey Henderson) to the point that you're impossible to ignore. Kenny Lofton and Tim Raines were scary-as-all-getout leadoff hitters but they didn't hit the homers so I think they will fall short of the 75% needed to get in, regardless of the merits otherwise.

  94. David in Toledo Says:

    Andy and Michael E, Thank you for your posts helping to clarify the state of the WAR stat.

    That other site (Lofton as 48.9 career WAR) has him at 142nd among position players, 286th among all players. (That does seem to be overvaluing pitchers, since the list would have to contain more pitchers at that point.) That puts him (by that metric on their list) ahead of Hall outfielders Medwick, Fred Clarke, Puckett, Kiner, Rice, Brock, and Hooper. But the listing places Lofton below non-Hall center fielders Edmonds, Willie Davis, Fred Lynn, Amos Otis, Cesar Cedeno, Jimmy Wynn, Bernie Williams, and (of course) Ken Griffey, Jr. I'm not making any brief that this metric is all-powerful. It's just another point of view, to be kept in mind when considering if Lofton ranks 79th all-time among position players.

    If I could pick a full roster for the last 20 years, I'd be happy to have the 1994 Kenny Lofton as one of my two center fielders. When he was good, he was very very good. Based on an average of their careers, Lofton doesn't look as valuable to me as Bernie, Edmonds, or Ken Jr. (even factoring in the long decline).

  95. Nice arguments #92. Your info solidifies my vote for Edmonds, but Lofton is still short in my book. Edmonds' postseason numbers are also quite good!! Also, I have to admit that Smith is looking better but still not in. With that said, I would put Ashburn, Dawson and Wynn ahead of Lofton however and in the same group with Edmonds, but even Edmonds would be in the rear but just in. A center fielder needs to have some pop, Lofton had little--Very nice player, but not there. I put Lofton in a similar group with Bernie Williams despite the 17 point WAR differential, but they're both HoF borderline but clearly out.

    I think Raines has a fair chance of making it, but I don't think Lofton will get much play. I suspect Edmonds will have a hard time too, but he could make it eventually.

  96. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    "you seem to be a pretty large Hall guy"

    I'm a large hall guy because it seems to me that the hall as it exists now is pretty large, and I don't think it makes sense to change up midstream. There are a *lot* of players in the hall who aren't any better than KL.

    If I were king of the world, the hall of fame did not yet exist and we were populating it from scratch, I'd probably be a middlin' hall guy, looking for something like 100 players over the last 130 years of baseball. And I probably wouldn't vote for Kenny Lofton *or* Jim Edmonds, *or* Larry Walker for that hall. (I also probably wouldn't vote for a lot of guys who everybody else thinks are slam dunks, but I think are similar to these guys).

    But that's not the hall we have. The hall we have has a ton of guys who get their milkshake drunk by Jim Edmonds and Larry Walker. Lofton is closer to the borderline (my playing around with tbg vs. B-R WAR has me wondering if B-R and fangraph overrate leadoff guys by essentially treating PAs as longevity), but I still think he belongs in the hall we have now.

  97. Personally, I don't want a HoF which has only 7 CFers in it, so both Edmonds and Lofton easily clear the bar for me, despite my quibbles with WAR.

    It all comes down to where we individually draw the bar for our HOFers. I've never broken down OF positions and decided I needed to come up with a balanced list so there were X number of LFers, X number of CFers, X number of RFers. Barry Bonds could have been a CFer, but he ended up in LF. Dave Winfield could have been a fine CFer. He ended up in RF. For a large chunk of years, CF was manned by players such as Cesar Geronimo, Mickey Rivers, Paul Blair, Gary Maddox etc. I don't feel compelled to go and select from that group just becasue they played CF and at various times they may have been among the best CFers. I'll take Edmonds and Williams and Puckett and Griffey above Lofton for my teams (not saying they're all HOFers, as I don't have Williams and Edmonds in either, for a variety of reasons, but I'll take them both above Lofton for my team.) They're all basically contemporaries of Lofton, although Puckett only crossed over by a few years because he career ended early. From an historical perspective, Cesar Cedeno, Wynn, Dale Murphy all show up on my potential HOF list before Lofton.

    Personally, I don't want a HoF with Lofton in it. Nice player. The stature of the HOF sits on the shoulders of players like Lofton. Good to very good, and even ocassionally great players, whose very exclusion gives meaning to the Hall. Buy a ticket, Kenny.

  98. Yet another solid player. Hall of Famer? Not in a million years. What depresses me is the amount of people in the poll who think he is.

  99. "If I could pick a full roster for the last 20 years, I'd be happy to have the 1994 Kenny Lofton as one of my two center fielders. When he was good, he was very very good. Based on an average of their careers, Lofton doesn't look as valuable to me as Bernie, Edmonds, or Ken Jr. (even factoring in the long decline)."

    How could you pick Lofton 94 over Griffey 97 or Edmonds 04.

  100. Interesting note, this site has Lofton's WAR at 65, but Bernie Williams' at 47, but BG has Bernie at 53 and Lofton at 49. Win Shares for the two has Lofton at 293 and Williams at 307. Yes, these formulas are perhaps not all equal --I get that. However, Lofton is clearly getting a very, very substantial bump in defense from this site. Lofton was noticeably better than Williams in center, but he was NOT 17 wins better than Williams. Maybe 5-10, but not 17. And I would say that Bernie was better offensively even with Lofton's SB. If 4 stolen bases is equal to one HR, and Bernie hit almost 145 more HR's, than this would wipe out Lofton's 480 SB advantage (Lofton would still have a -100 differential). Bernie also took more walks and had a higher OBP of .381 to .372. If this is all true, than this site is actually rating Lofton's defense to be more like 20-25 wins better! I can buy 10 runs at most, but a few of these runs would have been made up with his offense. Lastly, Williams OPS+ is 125, while Lofton's is 107.

    In a very unscientific way, if you took the average for these two WARs, Lofton would be at 57 and Bernie would be at 51. Seems about right.

  101. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    "To make the Hall as an outfielder, they expect..."

    And this, IMO, is exactly why centerfielders sometimes get short shrift. They get lumped in with corner guys. I've seen it happen in this thread and the Edmonds thread all over the place.

    It's the same problem with 3B. For some reason people want to give 2B credit for playing a demanding defensive position, but not 3B, which the league averages indicate is pretty similar.

  102. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #92: nit- picking, but you left out Ed Roush, @46.5 WAR. Still, a very useful list. One thing not mentioned is the possible "time-line" adjustment, as Bill James called it, where he gave more credit to more recent players, for playing when the overall level of ability of the average player is higher. For instance, Mays passes Cobb; Mantle passes Speaker; Lofton passes Snider.

    I'm not sure I buy that, especially the last one, but I don't think there's much doubt that the overall level of MLB is measurably higher now than in 1910. I'm not sure how much this applies to the very best players, though; I doubt if anyone really considers Edmonds the equal of Dimaggio.

  103. I largely agree #96. We agree on most players --Lofton is out for me, but I'm more and more behind Edmonds. It be nice if Edmonds gave us one more quality year, but I'd vote for him now, as I did Walker --those two are on the fence for me but just in, Lofton is not. Bernie's in the same group with Lofton, and in a real world sense, I'd take Bernie over Lofton b/c he was pretty good in the playoffs.

  104. Even more interesting, BP has Williams' WARP at 57 and Lofton at 51.

  105. Jim Edmonds:

    This WAR: 68 (borderline cuttoff range ~55-70)
    BG WAR: 59 (borderline cutoff range of ~50-65)
    BP WARP: 74 (borderline cutoff range of ~60-75)
    Win Shares: 319 (borderline cutoff range of ~275-350)

    They all seem sufficiently high enough that Edmonds gets my vote. He also has very good playoff numbers. No big gaps in numbers overall. I suspect he'll have trouble making it, but who knows. I don't think Lofton or Williams make the cut though. However, Williams gets a slight nod over Lofton in my book b/c of playoff performance.


    This WAR: 65
    BG WAR: 49
    BP WARP: 51
    Win Shares: 293


    This WAR: 47
    BG WAR: 53
    BP WARP: 57
    Win Shares: 307

  106. @98 -- Yet another solid player. Hall of Famer? Not in a million years. What depresses me is the amount of people in the poll who think he is.

    If you complile the poll results into two questions (should he or shouldn't he), then it's 64% say he is not a HOF to 36% who claim he is a HOFer. It's still pretty overwhelming against, yet the 36% is very high considering we're talking about Lofton. Once again, good player, not HOFer. I'm not sure that when his name comes up on the ballot if he'll generate the necessary 5% to reappear on the following ballot. A bit sarcastically, I rate him having a slightly less than one percent chance of ever being elected to the HOF.

  107. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    "However, Lofton is clearly getting a very, very substantial bump in defense from this site. Lofton was noticeably better than Williams in center, but he was NOT 17 wins better than Williams. "

    This site suggests he was 23 wins better than Williams in center, and I think that's realistic. You don't have to guess at what B-R thinks about these components, BTW, they are broken out for you. B-R is giving Lofton about 11 wins over bernie for baserunning and RoE, plus another 1.6 for not GiDP. And then giving him 22+ for fielding.

    You may be remembering the young Bernie who was a pretty good CF on defense, and forgetting that the Yankees left him in there for a number of years when he was a real liability. You could argue that that's the organization's fault to an extent, he might have been average or better in right, if they'd moved him halfway through his career instead of waiting till he was almost done -- and that's a typical thing to do for CFs who are good but not amazing as young guys -- but he did play center for a number of years when he was well below average. He was still valuable because for a CF he was a stud with the bat, but he was a real liability on defense 6-7 years, and I can totally believe there was a 23 win difference between Lofton and Williams in the field over their full careers.

  108. And yes, it's OK to buy that if you think the defensive numbers here at this site are something you can really, really hang your hat on. Bernie should have been moved around 2002-03 for the last 3-4 seasons, but sorry, i don't buy that Lofton was 23 wins better defensively than Bernie. He was clearly better, but not that much better. Bernie often would take more circular routes to balls, and as he slowed some, his long striding gait just didn't cut it anymore. His earlier years he could cover up these circular routes. Loften took better paths to balls for sure, but the numbers seem very, very suspect to me. I rate these two about the same, with Edmonds a notch above them overall.

  109. (As a warning, the following are a few thoughts on evaluating defensive ability. Although I think they have some value in evaluating Lofton's career, they are only tangentially on topic in that they are more a discussion of how defensive ability has been evaluated for lineup and HoF purposes.)

    One of the difficulties that I see with respect to evaluating players for the HoF whose resume has a substantial defensive component is that we can't be sure what constitutes a HoF level of fielding.

    For the majority of the history of the game defensive ability has primarily been evaluated by teams (as well as media and fans) qualitatively with some quantitative data such as errors and # of chances. Looking backward, and with the limited understanding of defensive metrics we have today, we tend to think of the data being used as being of fairly limited value.

    Until fairly recently teams had no way to evaluate how many runs were being saved by a fielder they perceived as being an exceptionally good defender or conversely how many runs the poor defender was costing them. It is likely that the differences between these two players were often underestimated (this is akin to the "he can't be costing the team that many runs" reaction - the difficulty being that the difference between great defense and poor defense is easily catching a ball that the poor defender doesn't even get close to).

    All this aside, I think it is fair to say that position players have been evaluated and given playing time throughout the history of the game primarily based upon offensive ability. The result has been that almost all if not all of the best hitters have made it to the majors and been given the opportunity to succeed in the form of playing time (the one giant caveat here is racial discrimination and other anomalies that kept certain players out of the AL/NL).

    On the other hand the same cannot necessarily be said for the cream of the crop fielders. There may have been players who would have made significant contributions to Major League teams that never reached the majors or had only a cup of coffee because they were incompetent hitters (perhaps roughly equivalent to or slightly better than many of the pitchers in baseball). If you look at a guy like Ozzie Smith, if you changed his abilities slightly such that he ended up being a better fielder and a worse offensive player, but that these exactly cancel each other out (let's assume that we have some way to accurately measure this, which isn't the case given the current level of defensive metrics), there is a good chance that this modified Ozzie Smith might never have made it to the majors or had a very short career because of his inability to hit.

    I'm convinced that there are actual players who would have been superior options for teams that never got the opportunity to play or to play regularly because their abilities were so heavily slanted toward defensive skills. Because of this I think it is hard to evaluate what makes someone a star fielder because we don't have a full view of the upper end of the range of defensive abilities that exist.

  110. John DiFool Says:

    "One thing not mentioned is the possible "time-line" adjustment, as Bill James called it, where he gave more credit to more recent players, for playing when the overall level of ability of the average player is higher. For instance, Mays passes Cobb; Mantle passes Speaker; Lofton passes Snider."

    Yes, I completely ignored that because it would work in favor of L & E, and people would accuse me of loading the deck in their favor. I do personally believe in a fairly steep timeline adjustment-I think it's pretty much a given that the ability of the average ML player has steadily improved over the last century+, but we can never know how say DiMaggio or Cobb would have benefited from modern training techniques etc.

    I will say that BBRef's evaluation appears to be the most favorable towards Lofton; given different weights and such he slips back into the Cedeno/Wynn grey zone, and that's fair to keep that in mind (I wish these polls had an "unsure" option, because Lofton definitely is in that zone, even tho I came down on the "yea" side of things). It's a moot point because he'll be lucky to get 20 votes from the BBWAA.

    My only take-home point is that the Hall's standards, as historically established, are more than big enough to encompass more players than many observers suspect. You may disagree with said standards, and that's fine, but the Hall has never limited itself just to the Ruths and Mayses of the world, even the BBWAA (as it has significantly tightened up its overall standards over the last 30 years while still finding time to elect people like Puckett and Dawson).

  111. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    Think about what 23 wins difference means in this context. They played 16 and 17 years, so that's 1.35 wins per season. or about 13.5 runs per season. A hit dropping in or RoE versus getting caught for an out is worth around .8 of a run in general, so that's 17 hits, or roughly 1 hit dropping in versus not every 8-10 games. Of course, I'm not saying that particular thing happened that often. Some of the difference comes in whether hits are singles versus doubles, or whether a guy scores from first or second on a double/single, etc.

    Do you think Kenny Lofton (a very strong cf for 1/2 his career and still better than average for the other 1/2) vs. Bernie (a decent CF for 5 years, and a pretty bad one for the rest) couldn't possibly be worth 1 hit every 8-10 games? CF's play a lot of balls. I think it's plausible.

  112. I was looking at this list and I was thinking what huge gaps there are in HOF CF.

    Willie Mays retired in 1973. The HOF has only elected 1 CF (Kirby Puckett), who played from 1974-2004. And really Puckett wasn't even a good choice. Griffey jr. will get in but that looks like that's about it at CF for a while because it doesn't look like there's any support for Edmonds and Lofton and Beltran and Jones might still have an outside shot. So from 1974-2010 you're only going to have 2 CF represented??? A time period when there were 24-30 teams, that doesn't seem to make sense.

    Look at it another way. There are 16 CF in the HOF, 15 of them began their career before 1952 only 1 (Puckett) began his career post 1952. That doesn't seem to make sense. 94% of the HOF CF began their careers before Expansion/Western Baseball??

    Griffey jr. will get in so you will only have 2 CF who began their career since 1952?? You have the 29 seasons (1876-1904)when there were 6-16 teams that produced 2 HOF CF (Hamilton & Duffy). Then 47 seasons when there were only 16 teams (1905-1951), that produced 13 HOF-CF, but the 52 seasons 1952-2004 when there were 16-30 teams has only produced 2 HOF Center Fielders??? That doesn't make sense.

  113. A more accurate way of stating his earlier years was Williams was an average to slightly better than average centerfielder.--he was better than decent or fair. These two players were more equals than a WAR of 65 and 48 suggest. Just like I don't think Bernie's HoFM of 133 and HoFS of 48 mean he was that much better than Lofton's 91 and 42. In looking at all of the metrics and all sites like this, these two were quite similar --really good players, borderline HoFers, but clearly on the outside looking in.

  114. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    I meant average+ by "decent"

  115. I agree that centerfield is undervalued and underrepresented in the HoF. Edmonds should get more play than he does, and actually would make a nice pick, and if we really want to put more centerfielders in, than maybe both Lofton and Williams should go in. I suspect Lofton will struggle to last more than 1-3 years, and that Bernie will stick around on ballot for longer, perhaps the 10- 15 years, but fall short. I would still tend to say that Edmonds should be the cutoff though.

  116. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    Realistically, if Tim Raines has barely broken 30% after 3 years on the HOF ballet, I don't see Lofton getting more than 10-15%, if even that. He may get less than 10%, since the ballet will be totally stacked, with both leftover and new candidates:

    Win Shares, 2013 candidates:
    Barry Bonds 705
    Roger Clemens 437
    Craig Biggio 428
    Mike Piazza 325
    Sammy Sosa 322
    Steve Finley 297
    Julio Franco 280
    David Wells 210

    Of course, what the BBWAA thinks and what we think are two different things.

  117. What were the final Poll numbers on Edmonds ?--I can't seem to find his Poll in the archive of polls.

  118. David in Toledo Says:

    Mike (#99), Picking on one season only, TWO center fielders from the last 20 years, I'd be happy with Lofton 1994 and either Edmonds 2004 or Junior 1997 (or 1994). If I'm going to have two on the roster, Edmonds and Junior have the same strengths, whereas Lofton adds a stolen base weapon.

    If I were to be gifted two center fielders from 1991-2010 based on their career averages, I'd pick Griffey Junior and Bernie Williams, who hit left-handed pitching so well.

  119. No to Kenny. He was a good, solid player, but his relatively short career and lack of offensive dominance torpedo him for me. I should note that I favor a very restrictive Hall and don't care for the election of Dawson and a host of others. I don't believe in adding to the dozens upon dozens of mistakes already made by making even more of them. I'll add that on the list of WAR for CFers above, the Top 5 are really the only ones that I think belong in the Hall of Fame. Even Junior is a marginal candidate as far as I'm concerned, largely because of the mediocrity of his last decade. I'm not for keeping him out, just not that excited about him going in.

    But Mantle, Mays, Cobb, Speaker and Dimaggio . . . that's what a HOF CFer should look like,IMO.

  120. I don't completely disagree with you #119, but I think it's important to try to keep to the approximate bounds already provided. There have been some mistakes made for sure, but I don't see Dawson as a mistake under the current guidelines. Besides, if anything, the Hall is getting harder to get into anyway. As currently constructed I can vote for Edmonds, but not for Lofton or Williams.

  121. Kenny Lofton was a wonderful ballplayer. I was a huge fan of his beginning in his days as a point guard for Arizona, playing in the Final Four. I watched him when he was in AAA, and he was alwaysy one of the names I checked in the box scores.

    But a Hall of Famer? Did anyone ever watch him play and think "that guy's a Hall of Famer"? I just don't see it.

  122. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    Hall of fame monitor and standards were never intended to be representative of a player's value, they have always been intended to represent all the prejudices and predilections of the typical BBWWA voter from 1950-1990ish: both the well founded ones, and the completely stupid and ridiculous ones.

    So I don't care about those numbers in making hall decisions, except to the extent that I am trying to predict the kind of *mistakes* other fans (and especially the official voters) will make in selections. For instance, both Edmonds and Lofton's HoF monitor numbers affected my decision to vote that I did not think they would get into the hall, even though I believe they both deserve it.

    WAR is an attempt (however flawed) to measure a player's career value and *only* a player's career value. So I pay a great deal of attention to it. Win shares is also such an attempt, but IMO the baseline decision made by Win Shares is not well founded, so I pay much less attention to it than I do to the various versions of WAR.

  123. Re #112: Griffey jr. will get in so you will only have 2 CF who began their career since 1952?? You have the 29 seasons (1876-1904)when there were 6-16 teams that produced 2 HOF CF (Hamilton & Duffy). Then 47 seasons when there were only 16 teams (1905-1951), that produced 13 HOF-CF, but the 52 seasons 1952-2004 when there were 16-30 teams has only produced 2 HOF Center Fielders??? That doesn't make sense.

    Although maybe not full-time CFs, Robin Yount started 1139 games in CF (about 2 seasons less than he played at SS) and Dawson started 1018 in CF.

  124. Lofton is currently 79th in WAR among position players. What happens if he's 109th in 20 years because of being passed by guys behind him or guys not even in the league yet? Rather than look at ranking, I think we should simply figure out what the cutoff is. Let's figure out WAR/162 or something and try to get a sense of what a HoF looks like. Is a HoF a guy who contributes 3 Ws a year to his team? 6? I get what WAR does and, despite its shortcomings, think it's still probably one of the best stats we have available, but we need to determine its self-specific context or its just a meaningless number. Saying a guy has a WAR of 65 is meaningless if we don't know how "good" 65 is. And I do realize that looking at it historically gives SOME context, but as I pointed out before, those Top X lists are guaranteed to change, so I think there is probably a better way of considering it.

  125. HoFM was never intended to be representative of a players value when looked at by a sabermetrician. However, it's quite worthy for us mere mortals that love the WAR, but like other metrics too. It's all a matter of opinion, and as far as I see it, no one method has, or ever will, or should ever, corner the market on how to evaluate a player. There's value to all methods, some more than others.

  126. BSK, I'll grant you that Lofton's current ranking isn't terribly important, except for a few things:

    1) Since WAR isn't simply a counting stat but could be negative, it stands to reason that his ranking could go up (although this isn't very likely.) To me, it's not quite the same as saying somebody is top-whatever in a true counting stat, which is not as meaningful as some make it out to be.

    2) However, being in the top-whatever in some stat does carry some meaning. Frank Robinson was once a top-5 HR hitter. Now he's 8th, having been passed by Bonds, Griffey, Sosa, and A-rod, and likely will also be passed by Thome and maybe Manny. To me, though, Robinson's achievement of being #4 at one time is not diminished, particularly since there's substantial evidence that suggests that it has been a lot easier for many players to hit homers recently. With WAR, your argument makes more sense, though, since it corrects for era variations.

    3) Isn't setting a line really the same thing? For example if we set the HR line at 500 homers, well, more and more guys eventually make it in. A guy with 500 homers exactly would gradually fall further and further on that list.

  127. Jiffy @123,

    Those players, Yount and Dawson did play center field but they played less than half of their career at center. Yount only played 42% of his career in Center and Dawson only played 43% of his career at Center. Usually when your trying to place a player at a certain position, you want that player to play 60-75% of his career at that position.

    I would say all most of those HOF CF's played the bulk of their careers in Center. Edmonds played 93% of his career at Center and Lofton played 97% in Center by comparison.

    The problem is there's two sets of standards for the HOF at Center. Most of the positions have this double standard but it's most extreme at Third Base, Center Field and Catcher to a lesser degree. Basically, if your career started before 1960, then your HOF standard is Earl Averill. If your career started after 1960 then the HOF standard is Duke Snider/Joe Dimaggio. And then to not elect any Center fielders whose career started after 1951 except Kirby Puckett is very strange. And Puckett was voted in just as a knee-jerk reaction to his illness otherwise we wouldn't have any CF whose career's started after 1951.

  128. Andy-

    Good points. I guess what I'm getting at is we need to get a better sense of what WAR means. It's a new stat and does not DIRECTLY measure what happens on the field in front of us, meaning we can't see a WAR happen the way we can see a HR happen. So, when I hear a guy hit 500 HRs, I have instant context for that. Obviously, there is nuance with that, such as 500 HRs now vs 500 HRs 50 years a go or 500 HRs in 15 seasons vs 500 HRs in 25. But we still know that 500 HRs means he hit the ball over the fence 500 times. For WAR, I think part of building familiarity and acceptance with it will have to do with people being able to hear a WAR number and get a really good sense of what it means. I know some of that groundwork has been laid, as I believe there are some loose benchmarks about a given season being starter-worthy, All-Star worthy, MVP worthy, etc. But I feel like more work on that would go a long way towards getting a sense of exactly what a WAR of 65 means. That is one of the difficulties with the "new" stats... if I'm talking to someone uneducated about them, they have no context for their value. Obviously, that is not a flaw in the stat itself, but in the presentation of it (which certainly isn't your responsibility).

    Your point about negative WAR is well-taken and something I had forgotten about.

    I also think there is some problem in using the "above replacement" aspect of it. Often, you hear people equate WAR to Ws, when they are really very different. Is there a way that we could just figure out how many Ws a guy is worth? Would this be too context-specific and impossible to compare across eras? Couldn't we just add the number of Ws a replacement-level player was worth? I think it's be clearer to say, "Lofton contributed 105 Ws to his team in his career" than to say, "Lofton had a WAR of 65", since "replacement level" is still a bit nebulous within the stats community and completely foreign to those outside of it.

  129. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    IMO, what WAR is trying to get to is exactly what you are wanted BSK, the problem is simply defining replacement level (well, also getting a better handle on the exact weight of the various stats and how they relate to runs and wins).

    In the magical universe known as the WAR model (which doesn't look exactly like the real world, but is mathematically convenient and does make for a close appromixation) there is an effectively infinite pool of available players at every position who have roughly the same *expected* value, and this pool is known as the replacement pool, and these players cost (in terms of typical salaries of established major league players) effectively nothing.

    Of course in actual fact, some replacement players cost more than others, and different replacement players have different expected values for both short term play and long term play (an over the hill regular and a good prospect may both project to roughly 0 WAR for this year, but the prospect is expected to do much better in 2-3 years, while the aging star is not). but the idea is that if you scrap a guy, there's generally some way to put a player of a given level in their spot while spending a minimum of money.

    If we can establish what that realistic level is, i.e. the level of play at which it makes sense to cut a guy who is not ever expected to do much better, even if you aren't paying him much money, then it's realistic to say that wins added above that point are real value, and anythkng below that point is effectively a cost to a team, rather than a value to them (you may have played that guy, but could have easily found somebody who you'd expect to do better). IMO, if we can figure out what true replacement level is, it doesn't make sense to count wins for play that is below that level toward someone's career, because you aren't actually adding anything at that point, you are taking it away.

    The idea behind WAR is "1. assemble a minimum salary team of waiver guys, back benchers, and decent but not hot just ready AAA prospects. How many wins would they expect to have in a season or over N years 2. Add player X to that team. How many more wins does the new team expect to have over a season, or over N years?" That's WAR.

    Replacement level *is* the appropriate baseline for total career value. If you're looking for the absolute bottom of possible baseball skill, you could have a stat for "wins over quadraplegic grandmas". Oh wait, we have that stat: it's called "games played".

    IMO, win shares makes no sense. Trying to find a baseline that is clearly below replacement level, doesn't make sense. Higher baselines might make sense (in the sense that they favor players with stronger peaks). Lower ones don't.

  130. Part of the problem in voting for someone like Kenny for the Hall (and I think his selection would be absolutely ludicrous) is that his selection would then be used to justify others like Bernie Williams and Jim Edmonds who, while very good players, fall short of what the standard for a Hall of Famer should be, IMO. What about Vada Pinson? Does Kenny really belong with Mantle and Mays? Are you kidding me? Some White Sox fans consider Paul Konerko a HOF candidate. Where does it end?

    I kind of like Bill James' suggestion of an inner circle for the "real" HOFers, though. That way you can stick almost everyone in the Hall, including Luis Sojo (great intangibles) and so forth, and there would still be a way to recognize the true greats of the game. If you limited the inner circle to about 50 guys, then you'd be able to get much closer to the kind of honor I'm talking about. IMO, it demeans the honor given to Babe Ruth and Henry Aaron if you stick Andre Dawson in there with them.

  131. John DiFool Says:

    "I should note that I favor a very restrictive Hall and don't care for the election of Dawson and a host of others. I don't believe in adding to the dozens upon dozens of mistakes already made by making even more of them."

    Fair enough, but who are the mistakes then exactly? Is Ashburn a mistake? If Edmonds is clearly better than a dozen of the CF "mistakes", doesn't he start to look pretty good in terms of the median/mean Hall CFer? I do second the "Inner Circle" idea, which would in a partial sense remedy the errors, blind spots, and cronyism that has plagued the election process.

    "Did anyone ever watch him play and think "that guy's a Hall of Famer"? I just don't see it."

    Now this attitude I just don't get. Isn't it fair to the player to examine all the evidence, and not just rely on the "smell test", game over, move on, nothing more to see here? [Gut feelings do have their place I'll grant] I used to be more bearish on Blyleven, for example, until I read too many well-written arguments indicating that he was a significantly better pitcher than his base W-L would indicate. Likewise I became more down on McGriff (has he been done here yet?)-I used to think that he would get hosed because his peak petered out just a few years into the post '92 offensive explosion, and thus wasn't hitting 60-70 HRs at his best, but even adjusting for that, his poor glove and spotty record in his 30's just put him back in the 1B pack for me upon further examination.

  132. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    Neither Kenny nor Edmonds belong with Mantle and Mays.

    But neither does Griffey (although he would have if he'd kept up his monster early years longer), and neither do 80-90% of the people who are in the hall. Neither are most of the "slam dunk first ballot" guys like Biggio or Jeter or Glavine.

    If that's your hall, then you gotta kick out most of the people in it, and stop inviting all those pretenders just because they get 3000 hits or 300 wins or whatever. Mays and Mantle are a heck of a lot better than that.

  133. I was going to make that comparison between Lofton and Brett Butler, who preceded Lofton in the Indians' center field by just a few years, but I see everyone was ahead of me.

    Where I think Lofton and Butler are similar is that both had a lot of what I would call the "background" of a Hall of Famer, but not the obvious frontline attributes such as multiple All-Star starts or high finishes in MVP voting. And never once winning a ring despite the number of good teams he played on deprives him of a key factor voters look for. Put the bulk of Lofton's career in New York and put the bulk of Bernie Williams's career in Cleveland, and it would be interesting to see how both were regarded (and let's not kid ourselves: Williams will be in the Hall by 2020).

    Two things that I think work against Lofton in the end. First, the falloff in his performance against lefthanders in his last full season in Cleveland in 2001, which led to him being largely platooned the last several years of his career. The other was the 1994 strike, which occurred in Lofton's greatest season. That cost him what might have been his first playoff appearance and what certainly could have been an MVP award. There's a very short list of people whose Hall of Fame campaigns might have been derailed by labor troubles. Lofton is on that list, and perhaps at the top of the list is his Cleveland teammate, Dennis Martinez.

  134. If Kenny Lofton ever becomes a HOFer, I'll have his initials tatooed on my butt!

  135. I think Kenny should be in the hall. Remember Kenny's blind grandma being interviewed on TV? She said
    "Kenny's ffaaaaaaaaasst" That was awesome, and Kenny should be in the hall, grandma too!

  136. I know Kenny was good on defense/running, but guess how many seasons his OPS+ was over 121, even short seasons?
    Exactly once

  137. "I kind of like Bill James' suggestion of an inner circle for the "real" HOFers, though. That way you can stick almost everyone in the Hall, including Luis Sojo (great intangibles) and so forth, and there would still be a way to recognize the true greats of the game. If you limited the inner circle to about 50 guys, then you'd be able to get much closer to the kind of honor I'm talking about. IMO, it demeans the honor given to Babe Ruth and Henry Aaron if you stick Andre Dawson in there with them."

    Bill Simmons has a better idea; something involving levels of the HOF. In the basement you could have guys who have weird records, one-hit-wonders, etc, and when you get to the top floor you have Ruth, Cobb, etc. This way, you could say something like, Lofton is a Level 5 Hall of Famer, but not a Level 4 because of reasons 1, 2, and 3.

    Also, this would give the voters and the public a sense of who the "worst" Center Fielder, or whatever, is in the Hall. That way, if you could determine that Lofton is better than the worst Center Fielder in the Hall, then he should go in in some capacity (Level 1 or Level 2).

  138. Did I read this right --"But neither does Griffey (although he would have if he'd kept up his monster early years longer), and neither do 80-90% of the people who are in the hall. Neither are most of the "slam dunk first ballot" guys like Biggio or Jeter or Glavine.

    Whoever wrote this thinks Biggio and Jeter should go in before Griffey? Must be some crazy case of amnesia. Griffey put up unbelievable numbers the first 10 years --he compiled afterwards, but still put in a few more solid seasons despite all the injuries. I guess to make the Hall you have to put up 10 years of 40+ HR's instead of 7. I guess 630 HR's isn't good enough. Wow.

  139. I highly doubt Bernie Williams is going in --kidding aside, I don't think he'll make it. Being a Yankee hasn't helped with induction for 30+ years. Munson's not in, and probably should be, others think Randolph should be in, he's not, same with Nettles, he's not, or Guidry and Mattingly. he only one I think should be in here is Munson. Jeter and Mo will be locks, but Posada and Pettitte are borderliners that I think will struggle to get in. Posada probably has a slightly better sabermetric resume, but Pettitte has the big playoff games that voters like, but he also has HGH to overcome. I think Bernie will stick on the ballot for a good long time, but I think he'll fall short, and should. I would rate both Pettitte and Posada's chances better than Williams'.

    Shoot, Joe Gordon just went in as a Vet pick and that was overdue IMO. People will point to Rizutto getting in, and yes his high profile image and being likable helped -- people complain about him going in, but Rizutto was more of a borderliner in guy than many want to admit, especially given he lost 3 years right in the peak of his career for service and still put up a 45 WAR, an MVP, and many championships.

  140. Lofton was a much better player than Bret Butler. As hitters they basically had the same value. Lofton hit for more power but was in a much better hitter's park during a much better hitter's era.

    Defense and Stolen Bases are the two big differences between the two players. Lofton was a gold glover who won the award 4 times and he probably deserved the award 6-7 times. Butler was an average fielding outfielder and probably should have been moved to left or right when he played with the Dodgers.

    If you go by Total Zone, Lofton was (+113) for his career while Butler was (-83).

    Stolen bases is the other big difference. Lofton was a fantastic 622/782 in Stolen Base attempts for a 80% success rate. Butler was 558/815 for a 68% success rate. Butler had 33 more stolen base attempts yet stole 64 fewer bases. Lofton lead the league in steals 5 times, Butler never did.

    Think about the 1991 Dodgers when Butler was 38/66 in stolen base attempts for a 57% success rate. That's terrible. And to make it worse the Dodgers lost the West that year by 1 game. They probably win/tie the division if Butler doesn't even attempt a stolen base that year.

  141. The Bill Simmons idea is similar to James' idea in that James delineates between HOF levels (e.g., Definition D Hall of Famer, Definition C, etc.). Both are pretty good ideas and would certainly relieve much of my angst about the Hall.

    It isn't really for me to tell other people that Andre Dawson and his laughable .323 OBA are not Hall of Fame worthy, anyway. But if there were a way to honor the greatest of the great that still allowed everyone's favorite players to be honored, such as Dawson for leading the Cubs to last place, then those of us who favor a restrictive Hall would get what we want, while those who favor including everyone and his brother would get what they want, too. Inevitably, there would be arguments over whether this guy should be a Level 4 or a Level 5, but there would probably be a pretty good consensus on the cream of the crop.

    As for Bernie Williams, I think it very unlikely that he will ever be inducted. His peak was just 7 years, and it really wasn't that high of a peak. Of the current Yankees, the only worthy ones, IMO, are Mo, Derek and A-Rod. Mo and A-Rod are all-time greats, the best ever at their positions, while Derek has been a very good player for a long time, at least until this year. I can't fathom how Andy Pettitte could be a HOFer, but I can see Jorge if he has 2-3 more good years.

  142. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    REPLY to #130/131/132/137/142:
    As I and others have pointed out here and in other discussions, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron HAVE NEVER BEEN the standard for the baseball HOF; not now, not 30 years ago, not 60 years ago. That may have been the standard for the very first election in 1936, but already by 1939, the BBWAA elected Willie Keeler and George Sisler, who aren't within shouting distance of those four immortals mentioned at the start.

    I think it's disengenious to claim that "Ruth/Mays/etc..." is the standard; if Junior Griffey is a "marginal" HOF choice according to your standards, your standards are not realistic. Also, I don't think any of the other HOF inductees are demeaned by placing Andre Dawson in the HOF - how can anyone feel "demeaned" for receiving baseball's greatest honor? (besides,there are dozens of other inductees not as good as him). It's fine if that's your standards for your personal HOF, but that's not reality.

    Practically speaking, there would be 25/30 selections (at most) by these standards, and inductions every three/four/five/years. This would've been disasterous for the baseball HOF; it NEEDS annual inductions to draw the visitors and generate the revenue it needs, to maintain it's visibility and popularity. REPEAT: the HOF needs annual inductions. So, practically speaking, a baseball HOF of your size simply would not be viable.

    Bill Simmons "Five Levels" idea is intriguing, but just like the idea of removing inductees, I don't see the Board of Directors of the HOF (the people who actually RUN the place) ever implementing it. So we'll probably have to be content with something like that, or Bill James "Inner Circle", existing in abstraction only. That's fine; it creates a lot of fascinating discussions like this one.

  143. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    "Whoever wrote this thinks Biggio and Jeter should go in before Griffey?"

    No. I wrote it and no way do I think that.

    Both have been touted by many in these threads as slam dunk first ballot, you'd be insane to question them HoFers, though I personally think their cases are only marginally better than some guys this commentariat is voting out.

    Griffey is clearly better than either of course.

    But if "Do they rank with Mays and Mantle, Ruth and Gehrig?" is the test, then *none* of them belongs, even Griffey.

    Remember I said that Griffey looked like he *would* belong in that company 10 years into his career. Did I say anything like that about the other two? They were never close. I thought junior would get there, but he didn't.

  144. Lawrence, I recognize that nothing I'm proposing will ever happen, and that the standard for the Hall was diminished 70 years ago. I'm simply stating my preference and what I mean when I refer to a "Hall of Famer."
    Of course the Hall needs to create interest and make money. Just like bowl games, matchups (or, in this case, elections) are based only in part on merit, and many other factors (mostly money) are considered.

    As for the idea of being "demeaned" by receiving baseball's greatest honor, certainly Dawson isn't demeaned by being included with Ruth, Mantle and Mays. I'm not sure about the reverse, though. Dawson is a corner OFer with an adjusted OPS of just 119. You could probably find 50 corner OFers with careers of comparable length who were much better hitters and not too far off defensively. Dawson was a good CFer with Montreal and always had a good arm, but in the latter half of his career he was a statue in RF.

  145. OK, my bad Michael --I thought that was in another post from someone else. I completely agree with you Lawrence ! The very, very small Hall concept reminds me of wanting to go back to childhood before I started learning about all the nuances and gray areas of life. Life is imperfect, and I get why the Hall is the constructed the way it currently is. There will always be borderline candidates, and i actually think the Hall is still quite representative of the best in the game. Yes, I think some are bogus picks, but that's life. If we used these 4 listed above as the standard for HoFers we'd have 25 guys in the Hall, which is just ridiculous.

    Griffey is a slam dunk as he should be, and he would fit in quite nicely with most small Hall concepts. As you put so nicely, using these guys as the mark is just not reality, and never was --the idea of a Hall of 25 really just harkens back to a day when we were 8 years old and thought the world was perfect and that everyone in the Hall was some sort of God.

  146. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    For reference, I am in no way endorsing the size of hall implied by "Do they rank with Mays and Mantle, Ruth and Aaron?". The point of my 132 was to point out how ridiculous it is to think that's the rule for the HoF.

    I agree with Lawrence @143, that it would result in far too few inductions to support the hall. The smallest hall that would be realistic (IMO) is one that inducted about 1 player per year, which would imply a size 100-120 now.

    That hall would still have Griffey for sure, but some of these 60-70WAR guys we're discussing might not make it. And IMO, some of the so-called sure fire guys, should also be on the outside in a 120 player hall too.

    But the hall we have has 200+ guys now, and a lot who are well below the standard of Kenny Lofton, let alone Mays and Aaron. And if I were running the place, I'd want to see at least one guy getting inducted every year, which means you need to average more like 2 a year.

    In this hall, lofton may be on the borderline if you don't trust B-R WAR, but he's probably in, and it's a crime against the understanding of baseball player value that somebody as good as Jim Edmonds is not considered a slam-dunk.

  147. Michael E.,

    I think you're 100% correct.

    I think the basic problem, as you alluded to, is that the general perception is that the HOF Standard is Mays/Ruth/Mantle/Aaron. It's never been the standard yet baseball fans and the baseball media generally act like that's the case.

    If that were really the standard then you would have about 15-20 position players in the HOF. The only current players that fit that criteria would be Pujols and A-Rod. Jeter, Manny, and Thome, wouldn't be HOFers. And if that were really the standard then you would have had only three players elected in the last 25 years, Joe Morgan, Rickey Henderson & Mike Schmidt. No Dawson, Rice, Brett, Ripken, Gwynn, Boggs, Sandberg, Molitor, Carter, Murray, Puckett, Winfield, Fisk, Perez, Yount, R. Jackson, Yaz, Stargell, Bench, McCovey, Brock, or O. Smith. Also, if Mays/Ruth/Mantle/Aaron were the standard then you wouldn't have any catchers in the HOF and only one SS, Honus Wagner and one 3b, Mike Schmidt.

    People should remember that there are 140 position players in the HOF not 20.

  148. I don't know about "levels" of Hall rankings, but what about organizing the Hall more around eras? With one central courtyard for the elite greats -- statues and all?

    It would be one way to evaluate the career impact of players by how their numbers stack up within the era they played, and the style of play within those years.

    That way, all the top stars from each era could be ranked accordingly and enshrined with their direct peers.

    We also sidestep the unsavory aspects of steroids to a degree by allowing that "those" players from "that" era are ranked among themselves.

    More to the main point, is allowing the stars to shine within the context of when they played. For instance, you can't really ding players from the more explosive, long-hitting, eras for not stealing more bases. It wasn't how the game was being played.

    If given the same style of play we've seen in the last 30 years, Willie Mays might have been 30-30 almost every year, with a few 40-40's thrown in for good measure. They simply didn't run as much in the first 30 years of the Lively Ball Era -- '20's-'50's -- up until Maury Wills helped revive that facet of the running game.

    The definition of what kind of player you want at key positions has also evolved. Great defense up the middle, and anything beyond that was gravy, for instance. Skill sets were more compartmentalized, or typecast. Times change, and so do the requirements.

    The total offensive package -- with its focus more on OBA/OPS, rather than merely batting average -- is viewed differently now. There is a difference between the eras in the way batting was approached -- maybe swinging at a strike to put the ball in play, rather than attempting to wait out a walk.

    Why blame the guys who took fewer pitches, just because they found a strike they liked before they (maybe)got handed a pass? Who's to say whether or not that "perfect" pitch came along first?

    Besides, were walks the reason why a team wanted someone like Andre Dawson in their lineup? No. They wanted the Hawk for his power hitting. They needed Dawson to drive in runs.

    One note: All the talk about only two Hall CF's since 1952 ignores the potential for Dale Murphy to make it eventually. And Fred Lynn would have likely been there as well, had his career not run into so many injuries along the way. Cedeno was also on-track for about 10 years, especially in light of how good he was in such terrible hitting circumstances.

  149. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #145/Todd Says:
    "Lawrence, I recognize that nothing I'm proposing will ever happen, and that the standard for the Hall was diminished 70 years ago. I'm simply stating my preference and what I mean when I refer to a "Hall of Famer." Of course the Hall needs to create interest and make money.

    As for the idea of being "demeaned" by receiving baseball's greatest honor, certainly Dawson isn't demeaned by being included with Ruth, Mantle and Mays. I'm not sure about the reverse, though"

    Todd, I'm glad you understand my point, that we're just having a cordial and fun little "what if??" discussion here, and that in reality very little of what we propose is ever going to happen. I personally think the BB HOF has about the right number of members; I also think there's a number of people in who should be out (mainly Veteran's/Old-Timer's choices), and conversely a number of people out who should be in. I believe "money" enters into it only in the sense that the HOF needs to have annual inductions; I don't believe it affects individual choices.

    I would disagree with you only to dispute that any HOF member would be demeaned by Andre Dawson (for example) being elected; while there may be particular members who think other members don't belong in the HOF, I doubt that would make any member view HOF membership as anything besides a tremendous honor. Of course, it's always tricky to do this Psychology 101 bit of acting as though we can read and understand someone else's unspoken thoughts.

    I think the real problem with discussing Lofton's HOF chances is not that there are players in the HOF that he's clearly better than (Waner, Combs), but that there are players NOT in the HOF about as good as him (R.Smith, J. Wynn) who have little/no chance of being elected. This really muddies up the whole "in/"out" line. Unfortunately, we're stuck with all the dubious choices.

  150. John, I like the Hall you described with only 3 getting in during the last 25 years, and I'm not sure about Rickey, although I love him to death as a player. And Bench would obviously be in there, too. He's one of the two greatest Cs ever who is eligible for the Hall, along with Berra.

    Among current players or recently retired ones, along with Pujols (barring a major collapse) and A-Rod I'd add The Rocket (unless he is declared ineligible at some point), Mariano (a unique case) and, of course, Barry Lamar. Also, Piazza would likely go, too. He certainly is the best-hitting C ever, even better than young Joe at this point. There might be a couple of others like Greg Maddux, but I'd have to mull that over.

    Now, to clarify a couple of other things, of course you'd have catchers in the Hall. Catchers are judged by the standards of Cs, not by 1Bman. So Bench and Berra would be there. Wagner, it is true, would be alone until he's joined by A-Rod, but Schmidt would have Mathews to keep him company. I'd be mighty happy without vastly overrated players like Lou Brock and Jim Rice in the Hall, though.

    I'd also like to point out that the argument that "Mantle/Mays/Ruth/Gehrig" is the HOF standard is a bit of a straw man. I've never suggested that IS the standard, only that it SHOULD BE be in MY view of the Hall, which admittedly is in the minority and usually invites ridicule and scorn whenever I bring it up to fellow baseball fans. I simply don't think a corner OFer who couldn't get on base at even a league average rate during his career belongs in an institution that honors the greats of the game. Is that an unreasonable position?

  151. Well, I agree with everything other than the idea of others in the Hall are worse than Lofton and because of that he should be in too.

  152. Judging all shortstops by the standard of Honus Wagner is kind-of unfair.

    Wagner is one of the elite elites, and would have been certain Hall of Famer at several of the many positions he started at in his career.

    Let's not forget that he played 373 games in the outfield, and another 458 at either infield corner. He didn't play a single game at short until his fifth year (1901) and didn't get permanently installed there until two years later. And that was only because Wid Conroy jumped the club to join the St. Louis Browns in the fledgling American League.

    Wagner was simply a great ballplayer, who played almost anywhere, based on need. And he didn't really like finally getting stationed at shortstop as his regular position, as I recall from reading his bio.

  153. Todd,

    I was basically playing devil's advocate on that one. I didn't mean that you specifically suggested the Ruth/Mays/Mantle/Aaron standard, it just the basic cliche sport writers and sports fans pull out when they don't agree with a person being elected to the HOF.

    Baseball fans often use the phrase "He belongs in the Hall of very good, not the HOF", or "The HOF is for Ruth/Mantle/Mays/Aaron". If you use the Ruth/Mantle/Mays/Aaron standard then you're going to have 15-20 position players in the HOF. Likewise if you hold pitchers to the Young/Mathewson/Gibson/Seaver standard, then you don't have guys like Palmer, Glavine, Smoltz, Bunning, or Ford. No Bench, Piazza, Clemente, Snider, Carew, Banks, Greenberg, Kaline or Mathews or Berra. Those players are nowhere near the level player of a Mantle or a Mays or a Cy Young or a Christy Mathewson.

    You would basically need about 100 Career WAR if you're a position player or about 80 career WAR if you're a pitcher. You would have about 30-40 players in the HOF with an induction ceremony every 3-5 years to elect one player.

  154. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #154/"John Q Says:Todd, I was basically playing devil's advocate on that one. I didn't mean that you specifically suggested the Ruth/Mays/Mantle/Aaron standard, it just the basic cliche sport writers and sports fans pull out when they don't agree with a person being elected to the HOF.

    You would basically need about 100 Career WAR if you're a position player or about 80 career WAR if you're a pitcher. You would have about 30-40 players in the HOF with an induction ceremony every 3-5 years to elect one player."

    Thanks, John Q, that's exactly what I was trying to say in #143 and elsewhere. I still think that EVEN IF the standards were Ruth/Mays/etc.., there would be the occasional oddball choice such as:
    -Sandy Koufax(48.7 WAR)
    -Kirby Puckett (44.8 WAR)
    -Dizzy Dean (41.8 WAR)
    and maybe even...
    Lou Brock (39.10 WAR)
    ..that met certain milestones, or had great but very short peaks, or otherwise fit into the writers basic storyline.

    For instance, it's possible that about 1955, they'd realize there are no third baseman in the HOF, and put either Jimmy Collins or Pie Traynor in. Now, neither of those are bad picks for the HOF as it actually exists, but neither belongs in this theoretical "exclusive" HOF (besides, I'd take Home Run Baker over both of them if forced to choose).

  155. @119 "But Mantle, Mays, Cobb, Speaker and Dimaggio . . . that's what a HOF CFer should look like,IMO."

    It would certainly save time, whizzing through your eighty-person Hall of Fame . . .
    . . . assuming that short-career bum DiMaggio, who was overrated in CF because he had extra opportunities in Yankee left-center field and maybe never even tried to dive, even deserves to be mentioned with the "real" Hall of Famers 😉

  156. Wow, I clearly don't check this blog enough. Is there a way to get an email alert when someone has posted on an entry that one has commented upon?

    re: Michael E Sullivan@#89

    I invite you to name specifically the 16 centerfielders you think are/were unarguably better than Jim Edmonds. I think if you are honest about it, it will be very hard to come up with even 10-12.

    "Unarguably" is the operative weasel-word in that invitation, but I shall do my best:

    Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Oscar Charleston, Mickey Mantle, Tris Speaker, Ken Griffey Jr, Christobel Torriente, Larry Doby, Kirby Puckett, Jimmy Wynn, Cool Papa Bell, Duke Snider, Richie Ashburn, Earl Averill, Wally Berger, Edd Roush.

    I think that's 16. I think that all of these men were better players than Jim Edmonds. I like Jim Edmonds a lot, I'm not putting him down as a player or anything, but he's the quintessential borderline Hall of Fame candidate. I vote "no" in most of those cases. Even if he's a little bit better than them, I think Edmonds is more properly placed in a group with Fred Lynn, Vada Pinson, Bernie Williams, and Andruw Jones, than in a group with Mays, Cobb, Mantle, Griffey, etc.

  157. Oh yeah, I left out Joe DiMaggio.

  158. Mike Felber Says:

    While it is not good to punish a player for things he was not expected to do, if when measuring his productivity compared to worthy peers & HOFers from all areas he falls short, then even if he was not expected to, say draw walks, he should not get in. Dawson was particularly bad at that, & since he did not, say, double his career BB average, we are left w/a questionable candidate. If he fielded superbly his whole career, or slugged appreciably higher, he would clearly belong.

    Those who were not clearly great before using body & performance changing PEDs I would not put in. Even so, I want 'em to admit usage & apologize. The character clause is strongly emphasized in HOF bylaws, though I would interpret that as appropriately applying only to things directly related to the sport.

  159. [This has scrolled off the front page, so traffic may end up dying in here anyway, but here I go in any event]

    #157, did you see my post #92? I run Edmonds (and Lofton) by a lot of those guys, and he looks pretty good as compared to them. What reason do you have, for example, to place the likes of Averill or Berger ahead? Averill is comparable as a hitter, but his career isn't as long and his D apparently wasn't as good (caveat applies of course to trying to measure defense in the 20's and 30's with the crude tools and limited data available)-you realize that everybody and his brother who were half-decent hit .300 in those decades, right? And, if you're concerned about Black Ink, he only lead his league twice in anything, hits and triples.

    Wally Berger? Really?? Berger only had 5600 PA, which is a ridiculously low number, with unspectacular defense. Edmonds blows him out of the water, and again don't get fooled by the .300 BA.

    I did neglect the Negro League guys, for which I apologize. I'd clearly put Charleston ahead, not so sure about Torriente or Papa Bell (Bell seems like the Negro League version of Lou Brock, for good or bad). The issue of course is the almost total void of evidence, making comparisons with modern MLB players very difficult.

    Edd Roush is the same song, third verse: overrated 1920's outfielder with an inflated average. Again they don't like his D here.

    Doby I talked about, and he's very close (& similar) to Edmonds, so I'll provisionally give you that, despite E's edge in defense. The color barrier may have cost him only 2-3 seasons tho.

    Puckett I only mentioned in passing: I frankly don't understand why the writers gave him a pass on his illness, but anyway. He rarely walked, which means Edmonds has 16 points of OBP on him, despite Kirby's high average (you aren't hung up on that, are you?). Edmonds is clearly better with the bat, and Puckett's defense isn't shown as nearly as spectacular as advertised.

    I had Edmonds at ninth in post #92: I can see an argument for Doby here, but not for anyone else, which would put him 11th (Charleston clearly is top 5 material).

  160. #157 based on your comment I have put forward a suggestion that we add an extension that allows readers to subscribe by email to comments on individual posts. So perhaps we'll have something like that in the near future.

  161. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    Justin @157:

    You say "weasel" I say "making the clear the implication of your comment that he is was 17th or 18th 'at best'".

    "at best" means that you think he might be lower, but he should never be higher, so you consider the players you put ahead of him "unarguably" ahead.

    My response is pretty much that of John DiFool at 160. You put a lot of guys up there, that I can't see any reason to put ahead of Edmonds, and I agree with him pretty much about who they are. Of guys with full Major League records, you've got 7 clearly ahead of him (I say Snider is debatable, but I'll give him). Then another 4 guys with partial or no major league record that are anywhere between probably as good (Doby) to probably much better (Charleston) (and you missed Stearnes who's in the HoF), then you list another 5 that every WAR/winshares/whatever metric I've seen would put clearly behind Edmonds, and I don't see any good reason looking at the stats to doubt that decision.

    The only way these guys look better than Jim Edmonds is if you don't pay attention to the fact that the 20s and 30s were nearly as big offensively as the 90s and 2000s, and you look at BA and ignore OBP.

  162. @162:

    I didn't miss Turkey Stearnes; I omitted him because he played about as much left field and first base as he did center field. Riley's "Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues" has him at CF, 1B, LF; Bill James' Historical Abstract has him as a LF, as do some other sources.

    The list of CFs that I think were superior players to Edmonds is not: a) a list of players with greater career WAR totals than Edmonds; b) a list of players with greater career Win Shares than Edmonds; c) a list of players who are all in the Hall of Fame, or d) a list of players who played longer than Edmonds.

    It is just a list of people that I think were better players than Edmonds. What goes into my own evaluation of "best" player isn't "Total of Metric X". Stats are great, they are timeless in a sense, and an essential starting point. But they are malleable, and always undergoing new interpretations. What weight does one give to peak-value vs. career totals? What length of time constitutes a "peak"? What weight to give post-season performance? How about performance in regular-season games in the heat of pennant races? And there is anecdotal evidence to consider, contemporary eyewitness accounts of players to consider, subjective elements to be considered or discarded, and so on.

    WAR isn't the be-all end-all of everything. It isn't a debate-ender, or an argument-settler. It is simply a tool, one of many that you can use when evaluating players. According to FanGraphs, Andruw Jones has a greater career WAR than Edmonds. I don't think that that makes Andruw Jones a better player, or a more valuable player, than Edmonds. Our own eyes and ears must ultimately factor into the equation. There are always other factors to consider besides "Well, my spreadsheet says X, so I say X." I am a baseball fan who finds the judicious use of statistical analysis to be illuminating; I am not a statistics fetishist whose outlet happens to be baseball.

    I would not vote for Jim Edmonds' induction to the Hall of Fame. Nor would I vote for Kenny Lofton, getting back to the point of this thread.

  163. Re: Dimaggio

    I'm not sure he fits in with Mays/Mantle/Cobb/Speaker, but I included him because he did lose three prime years to the war and I think that, with those three years added in to his otherwise comparatively brief career, he'd reach 100 WAR and therefore clearly belong with the others.

    Re: Catchers

    I don't see how you can exclude Bench and Berra from the restrictive Hall. They belong with the others because they are the best at their position and had fairly long careers. It doesn't matter if they were each 80 WAR behind Mantle or something like that.

  164. As an aside I think CC is now the clear Cy Young frontrunner. Sorry, there's no way I'm voting for someone that's 10-10 or 10-8.

  165. Matt Y,

    First: Yes, I know this should be in the Cy Young thread.

    But I have to take exception with the impression that CC is the "clear" Cy Young frontrunner. I would say Sabathia's assumed superiority is anything but!

    Felix leads the league in WAR for pitchers, starts (tied-with Sabathia), innings, strikeouts (tied-with Weaver), batters faced, adjusted pitching runs, adjusted pitching wins, base-out runs saved, situational wins saved, base-out wins saved, and is second in adjusted ERA+. He's also second in ERA.

    Neutralized and even allowing for the fact that Safeco Field is a friendlier park for pitchers, Felix's numbers look like this: 18-9, 2.75. Sabathia suffers greatly when neutralized: 14-11, 3.55.

    For all the talk I hear here about wins not being important, the only numerical advantage anywhere that Sabathia has over Felix is in wins.

    Let's look at that. Talk about being able to sue for non-support! Felix has 14 quality starts that have resulted in a loss or no-decision.

    Tightening the quality screws even more, Hernandez has 10 starts in which he has surrendered two or fewer earned runs in seven or more innings, in which he has either a loss or no-decision to show for his efforts! And four games in which he pitched at least seven innings and surrendered one run or less, but doesn't have a win.

    By comparison, Sabathia has pretty-much maxed-out in win potential, having just two quality starts in which he did not receive a win. On the other hand, he has four starts in which he surrendered at least four runs in which he did not lose, more of a sign that has received much better support.

    What's the use of having all these fancy methods for breaking down a player's performance, if we don't put them to work when it really matters?

    Sabathia has been very good this year. But giving the Cy Young to Sabathia over Hernandez ignores that fact that Felix has been the better pitcher. If anything, the M's last road trip -- in which Felix clearly dominated the Yankees and Red Sox -- should make that even more apparent.

    In six August starts, Felix pitched 43.2 innings and posted an ERA of 0.82. From May 13th forward, his ERA is 1.88, and he's surrendered just eight home runs in the 167.1 innings that period covers. He has fanned 161 and walked 39 during that stretch. That is dominant pitching.

    Annointing Sabathia is akin to simply giving the Gold Glove to the guy with better offensive stats.

    And we know that has never happened... 😉

  166. Well, there are two ways to look at things here. Looked at from an analytical perspective, CC is not the frontrunner. But looked at from the standpoint of your typical idiot sportswriter, CC is the frontrunner.

    I hope that clarifies things.

  167. I completely get that, and I like the peripherals, but sorry, I'm not voting for someone with 12 wins for the Cy --again, you can't have big, big holes in the resume, and while yes this perhaps unfairly hurts Felix too many in the saberworld, realistically I think it's fine to vote for someone with nearly double the wins and is in top 5-10 in almost every other stat.

    Some people didn't like that Grienke won with 16 wins last year--I had no problem with that, but anyone that would vote for Hernenadez with 12 wins is just as big of an idiot as a sportswriter picking CC --actually, strike that, anyone voting for Felix with 12 wins over CC with say 22 wins, is definitely the one making the bigger nonsensical choice!

  168. Whether CC is the front runner or not Felix has got no chance at the CYA.

    He's not going to get votes with only having won such a small number of games and being a .500 pitcher at best. Look at what happened with Ryan in '87.

    He was clearly the best pitcher in the NL but his Astros team was worse than what Felix has got going on in Seattle this year and Ryan doesn't get votes because he's 8-16.

    Ryan finished behind:

    Bedrosian who won as a closer. (A sick joke)

    Sutcliffe who almost walked more guys than Reuschel struck out. And his ERA was almost a full run higher than Ryan.

    Reuschel only won 13 games.

    And Hershiser who while winning 16 also lost 16.

    If CC wins 20+ and the Yankees make the playoffs hands down he's the front runner and will win the CYA.
    To think anything else is just delusional.

  169. If Felix wins out (not a certainty, with the lack of support), he can still reach 15.

  170. I can't understand why anybody could think Andre Dawson does not belong. That's dumb.