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Ichiro’s career hits

Posted by Andy on September 24, 2010

Yes, Ichiro has 10 straight 200-hit seasons.

Did you know that in Japan he had 1,278 hits? (This does not include minor-league Japanese hits.)

That puts his professional total at 3,508, which would be good for 6th all-time if they all came in the North American major leagues. It would also put Ichiro just 748 hits of Pete Rose's record for MLB.

Is Rose's record the all-time record? I am somewhat ignorant on Japanese baseball and don't know if anybody playing there has more hits than Rose, plus there's the question of what other leagues we might consider.

While it's not completely reasonable to simply add in Ichiro's hits in Japan to his overall total, I think it's a fairly safe bet that he would have hit just about the same had he played his entire career in MLB. He obviously had no trouble as soon as he came to the Mariners, winning the AL MVP in his first season.

99 Responses to “Ichiro’s career hits”

  1. Leatherman Says:

    I made a similar post on another message board earlier this week, and you might be interested in some of the responses there:

    However, the number I found for Ichiro was 1278 hits in the Nippon Pro Baseball league. Does 1434 include his minor league numbers in Japan?

  2. robinsong Says:

    Ichiro has 3664 major league hits and passed Stan the Man for 4th all-time. I am pretty sure that Pete has the World record, so Ichiro is less than three years away at his current pace.

  3. Tony Pavon Says:

    Is Ichiro a HOFer??
    I say YES.....

  4. Andy Says:

    #1, yeah looks like I accidentally included Ichiro's minor league numbers in Japan. I have no idea where poster #2 came up with 3,664 though.

  5. Andy Says:

    Before my current string of HOF polls, I did run one on Ichiro back here:

  6. Gary Says:

    If Suzuki is going to get credit for all his minor league hits, then so should Rose which would add 427 to his MLB total.

  7. Jeff J. Snider Says:

    Ichiro has 2230 hits in the majors. Robinsong added that to the 1434 you said he had in Japan. If his actual number was 1278, then his accurate total is 3508.

  8. Henry Says:

    I don't think you can add them into his total, but I think they're a consideration, for sure. I don't think that they're 'minor league' hits, either -- has anyone done a comparison of replacement MLB player to mean Japanese league player? That might be interesting.

    Anyway, I think he's an easy HOF case. I mean, his black and grey ink on offense alone put him close, and he's been an elite defensive center fielder for 10 years.

  9. Andy Says:

    Oh yeah, I screwed up my math all around. Thanks.
    (Fixing the original post now.)

  10. RoundRock15 Says:

    All the talk about Ichiro's chances are premature, though I admit to having had the debate 2-3 years ago on whether his HOF eligibility would be hampered by his years in Japan. The truth is, though, I see no actual reason why he can't continue to produce for at least five more years. And if he gets 200 or more hits in each of those five years, then he'll pass 3,000 even with his limited years in the USA.

  11. Spartan Bill Says:

    @8 Henry

    Let's not be so quick to separate major and minor league hits, at least in a historical persoective. Joe DiMaggio for example had 659 hits in the PCL in the 1930s. The competition in that league was probably more analogous to today's Japanese league, than today's PCL.

  12. Spartan Bill Says:

    Using a rough estimate of the Favorite Toy in my head, it looks like Ichiro has a 50-50to finish about 2800 hits. In his case, I think that estimate is a little low, although it is hard to predict how ones speed will deteriorate.

    I also suspect he will be the first Mariner to have his number retired.

  13. DavidRF Says:

    One thing to consider when "translating" Ichiro's hit totals to MLB levels is that the Japanese Pacific League's season is only 135 games long. So its possible that the season-length issues might partially offset the level-of-competition issues.

    That said, I think his Japan numbers will always be kept separate. Its a similar case to Bud Grant and Warren Moon's CFL numbers.

  14. Leatherman Says:

    Ichiro is already a HOFer. He now has 10 seasons, which was the only thing keeping him from being eligible. Ten 200-hit seasons, the all time single season hit record, ROY in 2001, MVP in 2001, All Star game MVP in 2007, World Baseball Classic champion in 2006 and 2008 (going 6-10 in the two championship games)...his HOF is already complete.

    Incidentally, the Japanese all time hit king is Isao Harimoto, with 3085 career hits. He hit 504 career HRs and batted behind Sadaharu Oh in 1976. He was on deck when Oh hit #756.

  15. Dan W Says:

    "Is Ichiro a Hall of Famer?"

    That shouldn't even be a question. It goes without saying. Once he officially had his "tenth year" under his belt, he became a first ballot, sure-fire future HOFer. 2400 hits in ten seasons. Mind boggling. I don't think he'll hit 200 a year for four more years, but it's possible. Just think of it - 3000 hits IN FOURTEEN YEARS!!!!! Mind boggling.

  16. Kelly Says:

    It's an interesting discussion but it's just that. We really don't want to go lumping in Japanese league hits unless MLB recognizes them as a "major league" which I don't think will happen. If they did, then there would be the whole problem of how to consider stats from the US Negro Leagues, and then there may be other leagues (Venezuela, Cuba, etc.) which might merit some consideration. If you hit at the highest level in Cuba, and leaving the country is not allowed, then are you a de facto major leaguer?

  17. StephenH Says:

    Andy, great post. I only saw it after 11 responses had been posted, so I missed all the math fun and corrections. I also managed to miss your post on Ichiro's HOF chances.

    A few comments...
    If he passes Rose's all time total, is he the All-Time leader? That would depend on your thoughts on who the All-Time homerun leader is, Oh or Bonds.
    #11, mixing minor league and major league stats retroactively is a slippery slope. If you want to combine DiMag's hits, then what do you do with Grove's wins? There is MLB and minor league baseball. The two are separate.

    As for my thoughts on Ichiro. He is a great player and a HOF'amer to me. With or without consideration for his time in the NPB league. I don't think he has ever been the best player in the league (even with his MVP vote) and his lack of leaderboard presence on Runs Created, On Base Percentage, and most anything other than BA, and hits tell me he is not an inner circle guy. But year in year out he is a top ten player in his league and has been so for 10 years now. I would vote for him the first year he is eligible.

  18. Kelly Says:

    @SpartanBill I am not using a rough estimate of the Favorite Toy in my head, but Ichiro will end this season at about 2240 hits in his MLB career, so I don't see any conceivable way he does not make 2800 unless he gets injured or retires. That's only 3 years @ 187 hits per year, or 4 years @ 140 hits per year.

    Based on normal decline for a hitter with speed in his late 30's, my brain says 2800 guaranteed and 60-40 to make it to 3000. The BJFT may be off the mark with Ichiro because of the weird trajectory of his career.

  19. Johnny Twisto Says:

    As far as I know, most research places Japan as somewhere between AAA and MLB. Obviously there are many players there who are capable of playing well in the majors, but the talent pool is shallower.

    As I wrote in the Edgar Martinez(?) thread, I give HOF credit to players beyond what their MLB stats show us if I think there are legitimate reasons why those numbers don't tell the whole story. In Suzuki's case, I think it's pretty certain he was capable of being a good major leaguer for at least 5 years before he came here. I wouldn't be so scientific as to add a specific number of hits to his MLB total, but the guy has been a good-to-great player since he arrived and I'm sure he could have been even earlier as well. By the time he retires his MLB career alone will probably make any questions about "Japan credit" moot.

  20. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I don't see any conceivable way he does not make 2800 unless he gets injured or retires.

    But players do get injured, which is what the projection tries to take into account.

    Still, the Favorite Toy is a pretty simple tool and probably outdated as players are lasting longer than they used to.

  21. stan cook Says:

    Yes, but total hits is a meaningless statistic, rewarding now walkers. Al Oliver has more total hits in fewer plate appearances than Ted Williams. So f---ng what?

  22. SpastikMooss Says:

    The real amazing thing to me? He has never finished lower than 2nd in hits in any of his 10 MLB seasons so far (which includes this season, where he's currently first). That's 6 first place finishes (with a 7th pending on this season) and 3 second place finishes. You can set your watch by his consistency.

  23. dennis Says:

    Is ichiro a HOfer, yes, fist ballot, and if he doesnt get 90% or more, there are a lot of dumb. prejudiced baseball writers.

    One way I look at a baseblalplayer is...who does he compare to? of course you evaluate him wothin the ocntext of his era, what he contributed tothe teams that he played and his individuakl accomplsihments, but also how does he stack up agianst other players.

    And there are some players that are just unique ebcause of their skills sets. In that class I put Ruth, Cobb, Mays, Bonds, Mantle in his prime...a few others but not that many. You comapre other players to them, but you dont compare them to other players. For instance I might say, Ken Griffey, jr in his prime he did a lot of what Mays did....but I wouldn t compare Wille Mays to Griffey.

    ichicro is like that, what he does is so terrific that its hard to find someone to compare him to....of course he isnt the euqal of the players I mentioend, because he doesnt hit for power, but he does everything else extraordinarily well, hits for high average, an incredibly efficient base stealer, a superb fielder....and a guy who plays every day and he gets his 200 plus hits every year.

    I might think about Gwynn and Carew as cxomparables.....but still it would be a stertch.....

    ichiro is a one of a kind player and just a joy to watch....

  24. Jeff Wise Says:

    Ichiro is simply amazing to watch. This is a guy young ball players should watch. His focus, determination and hustle. Very consistent player despite being on bad teams. In 2010 teams pitched around Ichiro because the rest of the lineup couldn't hit and he still managed 200 hits.

    He's a five tool player and is a for sure Hall of Famer in my opinion.

  25. RichardKC Says:

    Ichiro has kept his speed so far. He has 41 SBs this year, which is tied for 8th most in an age 36 season all time, and 4th since 1901.

  26. John Autin Says:

    My opinions:

    -- Ichiro WILL be elected to the HOF in a landslide, no matter what he does henceforth, simply because big hit totals, "magic numbers" like 200 hits, and high batting averages still have a grip on many people.

    -- In my own view, Ichiro is a very good player but still needs a few more good years to be HOF-worthy. Ichiro's admirers overvalue his hits; in reality, the combination of a low walk rate, very little power, and an abundance of infield hits (about 1/4 of his career total, and climbing in recent years, up to 30% this year), brings his offensive value more in line with a typical .282 hitter (who has more power and walks).* But his speed and defense do add enough value that I would consider him a HOFer if he sustained this level of play for a few more years.

    -- His performance in Japan should not help his HOF credentials. The Japanese majors are much closer to our AAA than to MLB, as is clear from all the American players who have had huge years over there. Now, I don't doubt that Ichiro *would have* hit much the same here at age 22 as he has since age 27; but the fact is, he wasn't here. Should we induct Sadaharu Oh into our HOF? (But hey, if we're going to start counting AAA performance, then maybe Edgar Martinez will make the Hall after all -- he batted .344 in about 1,000 AB at that level.)

    * My rationale for equating Ichiro with a typical .282 hitter: Ichiro's career OPS+ is 117. Among the 47 active hitters with career OPS+ between 112 and 122 (min. 1,000 PAs), the median BA is .282. Incidentally, Ichiro's .331 BA is tops on this list, and the 17-point gap between him and #2 Derek Jeter is greater than any other gap on the list.

  27. David in Toledo Says:

    First, the nitpicking. I used The Baseball Cube site for Ichiro's hits in the Japan Pacific league and reached a total of 1266 in the Japan Pacific (major) league, not counting 156 hits in the Japan West (minors). 1266 (my tally), 1278 (the apparently accepted total), big deal.

    Second, compared to Rose. Start with this. Between ages 27-36, Pete played in 1587 games, with 7360 PA's, 6493 AB's, 2067 hits, batting average .318. So far, same ages, Ichiro 1578 games, 7292 PA's, 6734 AB's, 2230 hits, batting average .331.

    Pete hit with more gap power; Ichiro gets to second base by stealing it. Ichiro could play a Gold Glove center field, as well as the less demanding right; Pete played (at least a little) at six positions over these ten years. They may be very different personalities, but they have pretty equivalent value for these ten years. One big difference is that Pete played for better teams.

    As to ever being the best player in the league, subjectivity reigns. But Pete won one MVP (age 32) and Ichiro won one (age 27).

    Third, before age 27. Ichiro had c. 1278 hits during 951 games in the Japan majors; Pete had 899 hits in 759 games of MLB. The games played matter, since the Japanese season is shorter (130 or 135 games). Here are the hit rates per game for the two periods of their baseball lives: Rose 1.18 (22-26) and 1.30 (27-36). Ichiro, 1.33 (in Japan) and 1.41 (MLB). Rose walked more often.

    I calculate Ichiro's Japan batting average at .350, which might make the Japan League seem easy, until we remember that .350 is what Ichiro hit as a Seattle rookie, and he has gone as high as .372. Pete's highest two averages are .348 and .338. As DavidRF says above, "season-length issues might partially offset the level-of-competition issues."

    If Ichiro plays in Seattle four more years, he should easily pass 3,000 MLB and 4,200 major leagues combined. Unfortunately, he can't get to 3,000 on this side of the Pacific and then go back to Japan to break the 4,256 number over there. . . .

  28. Jeff J. Says:

    @24 "He's a five tool player"

    Hitting for power???

  29. Devon & His 1982 Topps blog Says:

    @#13 ...I think there's a bigger talent difference between the CFL & NFL than there is between the NPB & MLB. Also, Ichiro was only in japan because he wasn't allowed by the team that owned him, to play for anyone else.

    The all-time hits leader in the Japanese Nippon Professional Baseball League (NPB) is a Korean guy, Isao Harimoto, with 3,085 hits. So unless some Cuban, Australian, or Italian has more than 4000 hits, Pete Rose is the all-time hit king 'til Ichiro passes him. And yes, I think the only way Ichiro doesn't pass ol' Charlie Hustle, is if there's a career ending injury.

    I agree his Japanese hits shouldn't be included with his MLB hits for deciding the all-time MLB record, but I also think it's appropriate to add all his hits together as "major league" hits and call Ichiro 6th all times in the major leagues. After all, it is a major league in Japan. (I don't like the term "professional hits", since minor leagues are also professional leagues)

  30. Malcolm Says:

    Hits are far more valuable than walks. A hit moves base runners and creates the opportunity for the defensive team to commit errors or make other mistakes that allow runners to advance even further. Even an infield single has the potential to throw the infield of an opposing team into chaos. And let's face it, walks never sold a whole lot of tickets. No one goes to Cooperstown to look at a plaque for Max "Camera Eye" Bishop.

    Amassing all those hits, regardless of how "valuable" it is, is really, really, really hard to do. Few guys can get away with swinging the bat at anything close to the strike zone. Ichiro is one of the few who can.

  31. matt Says:

    This is usually where I point out Julio Franco had close to 5000 hits spread between six countries (US, JL, Mexico, DR, Taiwan, Korea) and moving back and forth had similar production rates. I don't suggest an equivalency so much as to note MLEs are a bit of a phantom. On the larger issue I think it's high time the HOF went the route basketball took a long time ago and admit significant figures on a worldwide basis. And for non statistical achievements as well (eg Curt Flood, Bill Lee for playing 100 games a year into his sixties, AAGPBL players, JL players, etc)

  32. Mark R. Says:

    Hits are not "far" more valuable than walks. Walks are almost as good as singles. Ichiro is not a power hitter, so he is giving up many walks just to hit a few more singles. If a guy swings at clearly bad pitches, like Ichiro does, he is giving up many sure walks in exchange for a maybe 40% chance of a hit if he puts the ball in play. Ichiro would be a much more valuable hitter if he just tried for a high OBP rather than a high base hit total. And by the way, Max Bishop should definitely be in the Hall of Fame, he was one of the most productive hitters of all time with a .423 OBP. Max Bishop averaged .167 runs scored per PA, compared to Ichiro at .143.

  33. Mark R. Says:

    But with regard to the HOF, Ichiro is well above the bar already. A player's entire career, major and minor league, should be considered when discussing the HOF. Minor league stats should count. If you want to use some sort of discounted rate, fine. So Edgar Martinez should get credit for his great seasons in AAA. Sadaharu Oh should be in the HOF. So should Hector Espino, who hit 794 home runs in the Mexican summer and winter leagues. So should Buzz Arlett and Smead Jolley and Spencer Harris, career minor league heroes. Julio Franco should be a no-doubt-about-it first-ballot Hall of Famer for his exceptionally great career. You can't ignore the seasons of a player's career that happen to occur outside of the regular major leagues. They play real baseball in the minor leagues.

  34. Jimbo Says:

    Max had a career OPS of 102. Not very hall of fame worthy.

    But a .423 OBP really stands out. His problem was that he played in an era where a .789 OPS was quite average.

  35. Djibouti Says:

    What I always heard about Ichiro was that he "chooses" to hit for average and if he wanted to, he could be a 30 HR guy. Supposedly he lights up the stands in batting practice. Now whether this is second-hand crockery, all around exaggeration or the truth I can't say for sure.

    When his career first started I hated Ichiro for the simple reason that I felt giving him the 2001 RoY was joke (and because he "stole" it from Sabathia who of course was pitching for my favorite team). Over time I found it harder and harder to be mad at a guy who is just that freaking good that consistently. Nowadays I'm and Ichiro fan and at times find myself overrating him. Although I still think that RoY was dumb

  36. Itch Says:

    @ 30: Here's the problem with that logic. No one is comparing one hit vs. one walk in any given situation. You have to look at it in terms of times on base. Nobody thinks hits or a high batting average is a bad thing. But a high batting average with a lot of walks is significantly more valuable than a high batting average with very few walks.

    In MLB, Ichiro is a career .331 hitter with a .376 OBP. He has 455 BB. Hypothetically, let's say he was able or willing to walk 50% more than he has. This still wouldn't result in a crazy high walk total, especially for a leadoff hitter (68 walks in over 730 PA per year is still not all that much). This would give Ichiro 683 BB and take away 228 career AB from him. Assuming he still had the same exact batting average of .331, he'd have 2153 hits instead of his current total of 2230. But his OBP would jump to .397, which is significantly better than .376. (In reality, he's had a .397 OBP just once in ten seasons.) He would have reached base 151 more times. If you go as far as to double his walk total (which would still give him just two 100+ walk seasons), he'd still have 2078 hits and a .331 batting average, but his career OBP would be .418.

    A few other notes:

    - An astonishing 34.1% of the walks he has drawn have been intentional walks. He has drawn only 300 unintentional walks in 10 seasons, or 1 every 24.3 PA (28.8 every 700 PA). Basically, he works a walk once a week.

    - Leadoff hitters like Ichiro usually come up with the bases empty. In fact, 65.3% of his career PA have come with the bases empty. (Even if you take a middle of the order hitter like Manny Ramirez, who has hit 3rd and 4th most of his career and hit in a lot of very good lineups in a high offense era, 49.4% of his career PA have come with the bases empty.) That, combined with the fact that Ichiro is mostly a singles hitter, makes it kind of silly to imply that his hits are so much more valuable than walks. By the way, an astounding 28.4% of Ichiro's singles have been infield hits. I'm willing to bet there aren't a lot of baserunners advancing more than one base on those.

    - @ 8: Ichiro has not been a CF for 10 years. Career starts in CF: 265. Career starts in RF: 1271

    - Ichiro's OBP leading off the game is .351 and leading off an inning it's .358. Kenny Lofton's marks in those categories were .391 and .380. Chuck Knoblauch's were .365 and .375. Tony Phillips' were .370 and .363. Brett Butler's were .369 and .370. Juan Pierre's are .362 and .356. Denard Span's are .359 and .368.

    - Let's not forget how much players at the top of the order like Ichiro benefit from the pure number of plate appearances. He deserves credit for not getting hurt and remaining consistent. But the fact is he's getting up an insane number of times every year, between 725 and 762 times his first 8 years in the league. Combined with his refusal or inability to take a walk, it would be hard for him not to reach 200 hits. From 2001-2008, he had over 741 PA and 683 AB on average. With the benefit of that many at-bats, on average, he'd have to hit just .293 to reach 200 hits. Granted, he has often far exceeded the 200 benchmark. But compare this with someone like Albert Pujols, who has an identical .331 career batting average but bats third and takes his share of walks. He has just one 200-hit season despite having the same career batting average. From 2001-2009, Pujols has averaged 572 AB per season. So to get to 200 hits per every 572 AB, he'd have to hit .350, quite a step up from .293.

    - None of this is to rip on Ichiro. I love watching the guy play. And the stat sheet does look awesome with all those 200+'s in the hits column. Like many, I see all those 200's and I am impressed. I think it'd be great if he has five more straight 200+ hit seasons and racks up 3300+ MLB hits. It would be fun. He is certainly a very *unique* player. But as far as value goes, those round numbers don't tell the whole story.

  37. Leatherman Says:

    Baseball should probably adopt a rule similar to the Makarov rule in the NHL. Back in 1989, Sergei Makarov won the Calder Trophy (rookie of the year) at age 31, and the NHL changed the eligibility requirements for the trophy for only those under 26. I thought it would happen in MLB after Hideo Nomo (27 in 1995) and then Kazuhiro Sasaki (32 in 2000) won the awards as Japanese transfers, but it obviously didn't matter. Hideki Irabu never won the award, in case you were wondering. πŸ™‚

  38. John Autin Says:

    "I also think it's appropriate to add all his hits together as "major league" hits and call Ichiro 6th all times in the major leagues."

    Devon -- If asked who is the all-time major league home run leader, do you say Sadaharu Oh?

    I don't want to get caught up in a linguistic debate. But I can't see any sound basis for grouping Ichiro's hits in Japan and in MLB together under "major leagues." The Japanese leagues are clearly not on a par with MLB, not even close. If you take any representative sample of hitters who have played both in MLB and in Japan and look at their records, the group's numbers will always be better in Japan, because the level of competition is lower.

    Ichiro is the ONLY player I know of whose performance has been about as good in MLB as in Japan over several years. Other Japanese stars who came over here may have played at the same star level for a year or two, but no more (e.g., Hideo Nomo, Daisuke Matsuzaka). A few have had sustained success, but not at their previous level (Hideki Matsui). The majority have not lived up to expectations.

    This is not to disparage the Japanese leagues, nor Ichiro himself. It's just a fact.

    I'd like to ask Phillies manager Charlie Manuel if he thinks the Japanese leagues are "major" leagues. Manuel played parts of 6 years in MLB, batting .198 with 4 HRs, with a .534 OPS. Then he went to Japan, and slugged 166 HRs in a 4-year span; for his Japanese career, Manuel hit .303 with a .989 OPS.

  39. dennis Says:

    The HOF............. the last ime I looked is the National baseball of Fame it is for indiviuals who managed and played and who were executives in United States major league baseball.

    Once agoan, hat is US major league baseball, not minor league baseball, not Japaneswe baseball because...if you elect Sadaharu Oh, then what about Sheigeo Nagashima and Victor Starfin and the manager of the Yomiru Giants during thir glory years and God know who else. The Japanese hve their own Baseball Hall of fame...and you can best your last dollar that no gaijin will be elected!

    Canddiates on their ballots of the HOF should be evaluated for their play in the major leagues of the United States. And yes, there are a lot of black players int he Hall who were denied rthe opportunity to play nmajor league ball. and they barnstorned in the Caribbean and mexico, but they also played ball in the United Sattes. Segregation was not a proud chapte rint he history of Americna major league baseblal, but efforts hav4 been made to recognize those players and executives.

    Ichiro belongs in the American HOF, even if he retired after this year, his tenth year, end of story period. How many players lead the league in their specuialty category multiple times .....Ichiro has 7 going on 8 hits his almost ten yeaars.... And when a player cna dominate his category eyar after year he ies an exotraordinary player.........

    As for John s post 24 that he is the equivalent of a .282 hitter because he lacks power, Jumping Christmas, the guy is 5 9 and 160 pounds!!!!!!! he does the most with his physical package and he is an extraordinary 4 tool player, what he does with those 4 tools, it is jsut about impossible to compare him to anybody else.

    As for post Djibouti s psot 35, let me see, Ichiro won that ROY and also the MVP in 2001. and the Mariners record that year....oh yeah, was 116 and 46. 116 WiNS!!!!!!!! and they didnt have Randy Johnson or A Rod or Griffey anymore.....but a short skinny Japanese guy who lead the league in hititng his first year, ignited the team and did everything but hit for power....THe 2001 team with Ichiro was 25 wins better then the 2000 Mariners, 25 wins!!!!! and because of ichiro..... guys up and down the lineup had great or career eyars...Boone, Cameron, had their career years.. Edgar was a rock, etc.

    And if if that is the definition of a ROY, much less an MVP, then what is!!!!!!!!

    ive been thinking of other players with skills sets that are impossible to compare to othe rplayers.....and Rickey Henderson comes to mind...............I might add he was a first ballot HOFer with almost 95% of the votes....

  40. John Autin Says:

    {5'9" and 160 pounds...}
    What does his size have to do with this discussion? Nobody's blaming Ichiro on a moral level for not hitting home runs; we're just saying it's something lacking in his game, something that affects his overall rating. Whether he got the most out of his physical ability is irrelevant to evaluating his HOF credentials.

    (But since you brought it up ... Yogi Berra (358 HRs), Joe Morgan (268 HRs) and Hack Wilson (244 HRs) were all 5'7" or under. Rabbit Maranville was 5'5" and hit 177 HRs.)

  41. Eh Says:

    @ 39:

    If the M's 116 win season in 2001 can be attributed to Ichiro to that extent, how come they lost 99 games in 2004 when he had an even better season?

    Could it be that Edgar, Olerud, Boone, Cameron, McLemore, Garcia, Moyer, Sele, Sasaki and Rhodes also had really strong years in 2001?

    Did Ichiro inspire Edgar and Olerud to post .400 OBPs, Boone to belt 37 homers, and Moyer to walk just 44 batters in 33 starts?

  42. Joof Says:

    Since 2001, only 3 position players have been more valuable by WAR than Ichiro has been. Those 3 are Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols, and Alex Rodriguez, with Ichiro only 1 WAR behind Bonds for third. He has been an absolutely great player, and if he retired tomorrow would be deservingly elected to the hall of fame.

  43. Fireworks Says:

    I like Ichiro as a player and his accomplishments as well but I think lots of people highly overrate his hitting ability when they trumpet out the 10 straight 200 hit seasons. Round numbers are great but as was said above, an Ichiro who walked twice as much could hit for roughly the same average, and would be on base more. But of course then he probably would maybe lose almost half of his 200 hit seasons.

    Also, hitting HRs in BP is great but if Ichiro could hit 30HR and hit .300 every year, then he's failing to reach his potential.

    10 straight 200 H seasons is great, 262 H in a season is great, but, like someone above said, whenever people come out with the "Ichiro is the best hitter in baseball" nonsense I mention Pujols.

  44. Neil L Says:


    Let's leave out the HOF debate for Ichiro. That is another discussion for another time and place.

    No one doubts that he wields a magic wand at the plate. I sense that that the main issue in here is the value of singles and BA versus slugging and OPS.

    Wade Boggs comes to mind as a comparison to Ichiro but, of course, without Ichiro's speed.

  45. WanderingWinder Says:

    One thing I always found fascinating was how many times he got INTENTIONALLY walked - as a leadoff hitter. This whole walk/single debate is interesting in that light as well. Sure, he has, especially recently, had a whole lot of nothing hitting around him (okay, let's not forget that they're pros, but for MLB players, they're not great hitters) - but still, how much harm is he going to do? I mean, if most likely the most damage he's going to do is a single, and often even then an infield single, why take your 60+% chance of getting him out and throw it away? It's clearly because a single is better for an offense than the walk (or the low chances of XBs are THAT damaging- really unlikely). But I mean still, 60% is 60%... why does he get intentional passes so often?

    Also, interestingly, the other guy in the majors right now who I can think of getting away with swinging at more bad pitches is... Vlad Guerrero. And that totally makes sense, right? The styles of their games are just SO similar. πŸ˜‰

  46. Darrel Says:

    Post #12 said he would be the first Mariner to have his number retired? How soon we forget Ken Griffey!

  47. Richard Says:

    The Japanese League is not a Major League by any stretch of the imagination.

  48. Bryan Says:

    What will be interesting to see is how much Ichiro's performance will decline over the next couple of seasons... He's in fantastic shape and he NEVER gets hurt. He's 37, but he's not a typical 37 year old.

  49. Bryan Says:

    Well, I guess he turns 37 next month πŸ™‚

  50. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Just out of morbid curiosity, is there a way to calculate everyone's PROFESSIONAL {majors, minors and foreign, including both the major and minor Japanese leagues} hit totals?

  51. Atlas Says:

    It's kind of a catch-22 with Ichiro's ROY. If he wasn't eligible, that would seem to mean MLB would have to give some sort of official recognition to his time playing in Japan. If they don't do that, then it makes sense that he would be eligible for ROY despite his age and career to that point.

    I think some people get a bit too caught up in their stats trying to disparage and discount Ichiro's accomplishments. It's a question of emphasis. Some people go too far in believing only what their eyes tell them and some spend too much time looking at numbers in a spreadsheet. Ichiro does some amazing things that are hard to quantify in statistical ways.

  52. Dan Franzen Says:

    #46: They haven't retired Griffey's number, according to B-R's Mariners page:

    Only # retired is Robinson's 42. Of course, you could just mean that Griffey's would get retired before Ichiro's, which obviously makes sense..

  53. Mike Felber Says:

    Ichiro is an amazing player, but we can get a very good idea of what he contributes offensively by looking at the right stats. The irony is he works so hard & is so good at what he does. But if he walked more, & hit for more power (since he likely could), he would be more valuable. Though he is getting the IBB as if he hit 30 a year, irrationally, as pointed out above. Especially since he steals so well, take the 60% chance he will not get on base!

  54. Stephen Wood Says:

    ANYONE that has seen Ichiro in BP knows he could hit for power he just chooses not too. Why do so many people get hung up on the "power" numbers. As for the best "hitter" of course he is. There is no way you can say Pujols is a better hitter than Ichiro. A better basher sure but a better hitter nope. Ichiro hits the ball every year period. I have no issue with the whole small ball thing I love it.

    rant finished πŸ™‚

  55. Itch Says:

    #44: Boggs and Ichiro are nothing alike as hitters.

    Boggs was an on-base machine. He led the league in OBP six out of seven years and also had years where he finished second, third and fourth. He had an OBP over .400 eleven times. His OBP after ten seasons was .435. In his first ten years, he drew an unintentional walk once every 8 PA. He never finished in the top ten in outs made. And he hit a ton of doubles. He hit 40+ doubles eight times and averaged an additional 5 triples in those eight years.

    Ichiro has cracked the top five in OBP just once. He's had one season with a .400 OBP. His career OBP is .376 and he hasn't hit his decline period yet. He only draws an unintentional walk once every 24 PAs. He's been in the top ten in outs made eight times. He's hit 30 doubles twice, never more than 34. Even if you combine his doubles and triples, he only cracked 40 once, in his rookie year.

    They're both lefties and had high batting averages. That's pretty much where the comparison ends.

  56. Spartan Bill Says:

    @ 46 DanL

    I didn't forget Griffey. I am simply speculating that the Mariners (who don't normally retire numbers) would break the ice with Ichiro rather than Junior.

    I am making several presumptions here of course, but I think a guy who spent his "whole career" (from an MLB perspective of course) with the M's is more likely than Junior who played with 2 other teams.

    Heck if life was fair, Edgar Martinez #11 would already be up on the wall.

  57. Mark R Says:

    The HOF right now only elects US major league players, but that doesn't mean it has to be that way. Last time I checked, they don't call it the "Major League Hall of Fame", they call it the BASEBALL Hall of Fame. They play real baseball in the minor leagues and in other nations, and therefore all outstanding accomplishments by players in any league should be recognized by the HOF in Cooperstown. The fact is that Ichiro's or Julio Franco's overall carreer is better than some of the Negro Leaguers that have been elected. Willard Brown and Ray Dandridge put up a lot of their stats in the Mexican League or the US minors after 1947. They were essentially great minor league players who happened to be black. Sure, they might have done well if they had an early shot at the majors, but you could say that about Buzz Arlett or and any of the great minor league stars. What about Dolph Luque? He had an outstanding career as a pitcher in the Majors and as a pitcher and manager in the Cuban Winter League. But he is forgotten because he was white. Luque's pitching career is similar to Martin Dihigo's, and both were Cuban. If Luque had been black and played in the Negro Leagues he would have already been dumped into the HOF out of guilt. Negro Leaguers should be in the HOF, but so should every great player from every major and minor league in the world.

  58. WilsonC Says:

    I look at the consecutive 200 hits seasons in two ways:
    - It's impressive, but it's as much a play style thing as an ability one. He creates most of his offense through his batting average, and that combined with his being a leadoff hitter means he accumulates hits at a ridiculous rate.
    - It's also a sign of exceptional durability.

    In one sense, Ichiro tends to be a bit overrated, since his ability to accumulate hits is so much greater than his overall offensive value. His flaws - power and patience - are sometimes overlooked.

    In another sense, he's quite underrated. When you look at the combination of his defense, his baserunning, his durability, and even his ability to expand his team's market and bring in Japanese revenue, Ichiro is a perfect example of a player for whom OPS+ really doesn't reflect his overall value very well.

    I think any talk of "best hitter in baseball" for Ichiro is silly, but he's on the short list of players who have contributed the most overall value over the last decade.

  59. WilsonC Says:


    It is called the "National" Baseball Hall of Fame, but I agree entirely with your point. You just need to ask what's more relevant: a word that happened to be included in the naming at a time when nobody would have thought of international players in the Hall, or the appeal to a global audience that appears within the museum's mission statement?

    So far, they've made a special exception for Negro League players and strengthened the institution in doing so. A choice to include great baseball players from other leagues or nations would further strengthen it. With the expanding globalization of the sport, it makes a lot of sense to recognize all the greatest players in the world.

  60. dennis Says:

    re comment 39
    A great baseball team is made up of players who complement each other s skills, who beacuse ot heir ability make the next hitter or two in the lineup mire fangerous. if you have a great leadoff hitter, who gets on base, the 2 and 3 hitters become more dangerous. That is what Ichiro did for the Nariners in 2001.
    And of course he wasnt responsible for the success in pitching, but its a lot to pitch well when you have a potent offense that generates a lot of runs!

    comment 41

    Whether he gets the most out his physical ability is irrelevant to evaluating his HOF crederntial. I m not sure I evenw ant to undestand he logic in that sentence.

    The point that I made about Ichiros size, was also his WERGHT, his BUILD Yes, Morgan, Berra and Hack Wilson were shorter, but they were much stockier built players. Hack Wilson was over 200 pounds!!!!! Morgan was just a great, great player and although he never hit more then 27 home runs in a year, for his size, I ocnsider him a 5 tool player and arguably amoung the greatest of second basemen.

    John, get some reading glasses! Rabbit Maranville hit 177 TRIPLES, and only 28 home runs....and those home runs were over 24 or 25 years most of them during the dead ball your point that he was a little guy with power is dead wrong.

    General comment
    when we talΓ±k about great hittlers, the first question we should ask is what type of hitter is he? A contact hittler? a line drive hittler? a guy with over the wall in the stands power....? And then we have a bais for a rational discussion.

    Both ichiro and Pujols are great hitters who do different things extraorinarily well.

    The notion that Ichiro hits HRs in batting practice, so why can t he..............? is silly. BP is aobut 70 mile MPH room service fastballs thrown just where you like them and not about game condition 90 MPH and more sliders, sinlers and nreaking balls in different locations.

  61. Tom Says:

    Even though Ichiro, in his prime, came over here and won the ROY and MVP, I don't think you can say that NPB is at the same level as MLB. Randy Bass won two triple crowns and set the record for highest batting average in NPB. Tuffy Rhodes tied Oh's single season homer record (55) and was walked numerous times at the end of the season to ensure he didn't break it. So I really it is a stretch to pump Ichiro as the career hits leader.

    There is no Hall of Fame debate. Ichiro is already in the Japanese baseball HOF. He is eligible for the Hall of Fame here five years after he retires as he has played 10 seasons in the majors. I can not imagine him not making it in.

    I think its been proven -- which it was not until the mid-1990s -- that the best players in Japan could make it here. Korea also has strong league. Cuba obviously has some great players.

    Baseball has always been seen as America's game, which I think hinders its growth internationally.
    Maybe we should think more from a global perspective. Maybe we should find a spot in the Hall for players who never played our major leagues.

  62. Tom Says:

    took awhile to fined it.
    Isao Harimoto is the NPB career hits record holder with 3085. He played from 1959-81.

  63. J. B. Rainsberger Says:

    @39, Um, there have been teams in Canada for over 40 years now. Get with the times.

  64. Bob Says:

    It would seem that he's a lock for the HOF. If Ty Cobb had played a 162 game season he would still be the all time hit leader.

  65. Richard Says:


    Check out their OBP and get back to me. I won't even mention his outstanding slugging since evidently that doesn't count to you. Albert is worlds better than Ichiro.

  66. Neil L Says:

    Itch, you are right about the dissimilarity of Wade Boggs and Ichiro. I was being a bit lazy in throwing out their names together.

    However, what I have learned from the follow-up discussion about Ichiro in here is:
    1. How often he has been walked intentionally over his career.
    2. How few non-IBB he has had over his career.

    I wasn't aware of either fact. So why was he intentionally walked 10 times in his first ML season. His reputation from Asia preceded him?

    How many other players in history, with low power numbers, have as high an IBB as a pecentage of PA?

    My other question is if he can hit for power, as has been asserted in here, then why doesn't he? Does he purposely try to go up and hit singles even if the ball is out of the strike zone and would be called a ball?

  67. Joof Says:

    I'm going to guess he doesn't hit for power, because it would lower his OBP some corresponding amount. This is sort of an artificial example, but say he could trade power for OBP at a 1-1 level. Then, the best thing to do in this case is to hit for as little power as possible, because each point of OBP is worth about 1.8 slugging. Thus, the most efficient use of points would be maximizing the OBP.

  68. Neil L Says:

    Sorry, Joof, you lost me there. I can't follow your reasoning.

  69. flyingelbowsmash Says:

    People have noted about Ichiro's body size - and his size is a reason why I think he won't have a typical drop off in his late 30's. Smaller guys have a tendency to retain their athleticism longer, and I am sure we can come up with many examples. This of course barring any kind of major injury. I see Ichiro getting to 3000 hits easily.

  70. Itch Says:

    IBB depend so much on the situation and I think we tend to forget that. It's easy to look at a high IBB total and deduce that the player must have been "feared," as was done during the Jim Rice Hall of Fame push. Generally, yes, good power hitters get IBBed a lot. But IBB really all come down to the situation. Is first base open, what's the score, what inning is it, and would you rather pitch to who's on deck than who's up. And in the NL, often times the #8 hitter is IBBed to get to the pitcher.

    In 1989, Spike Owen had 25 IBB. Darryl Strawberry had 13 and Cal Ripken Jr. had 5. In fact, Cal never had 20 in any season in his career. Doesn't mean Spike Owen was better or more feared.

    In 1993, Kirt Manwaring, Rick Wilkins, Mark Lemke and Walt Weiss all had 13 IBB. That same year, Rickey Henderson, Craig Biggio, Kirby Puckett and Juan Gonzalez each had 7.

    My theory with Ichiro is that his IBB per BB percentage is so high because he simply doesn't take a whole lot of unintentional BB (for whatever reason). So the BB total is going to be low to begin with, as opposed to someone like Adam Dunn or Jim Thome or Rickey Henderson who walk a lot overall and thus won't have as high of a percentage of IBB per BB.

    The IBBs are situational. If first base is open and there's a runner in scoring position, it probably makes a lot more sense to pitch to Seattle's #2 hitter than it does to Ichiro. Since 2001, here are the Mariners who have played the most number of games in the 2-hole: Randy Winn, Jose Lopez, Mark McLemore, Chone Figgins, Adrian Beltre, Carlos Guillen, Jose Vidro, Willie Bloomquist and Jeremy Reed. Other notables who have hit behind Ichiro include Jeff Cirillo, Yuniesky Betancourt, Stan Javier, Scott Spiezio, Endy Chavez and Rey Sanchez. If first base is open, why pitch to Ichiro when you could pitch to one of those guys?

  71. Itch Says:

    Also, Neil, in reference to your other question about a high IBB percentage, it doesn't really have to do much with whether they're power hitters or not. The common theme is going to be guys who have low walk totals, period.

    Here are some players with a high percentage of IBB per BB. Some are power hitters, some aren't. But they all didn't walk very much to begin with:

    Shawon Dunston: 21.7%
    Don Mattingly: 23.1%
    Garrett Anderson: 24.2%
    Andre Dawson: 24.3%
    Tony Gwynn: 25.7%
    Gary Templeton: 38.4%
    Manny Sanguillen: 43.0%

  72. Gastronome Says:

    Ichiro, a Hall of Famer? Absolutely. I dare say he has a chance to challenge Seaver's record for election percentage.

    Breaking Rose's MLB hit record? Ten more years at 200 hits would get it done. Of course, he would be 46 at the end of the ten years. Will he do it? Very unlikely. But I am unwilling to say his chances are 0%.

  73. Neil L Says:

    But, Gastronome, it is starting to stick in my craw that Ichiro might be an HOF'er on his strength as a singles hitter. Yes I've been influenced by Joe Poz's blog!

    By the way, aren't soccer players the only athletes known by one name.... their last name. Why isn't he called Suzuki?

  74. Leatherman Says:

    Neil L - Suzuki is the 2nd most common name in Japan. When he was playing in Japan, his team decided to put his name as Ichiro on the back of his jersey to promote sales. He was initially embarrassed by it, but it was an extremely successful campaign and it stuck.

  75. Devon & His 1982 Topps blog Says:

    @38 ..."If asked who is the all-time major league home run leader, do you say Sadaharu Oh?" ... I'd say no, even though he had smacked a lot more HR's than Aaron or Ruth. Why? Two reasons--

    1. Sadaharu Oh never got to show whether his talent translated the same in MLB. With Ichiro, we can see clearly that he didn't doesn't show a dive in averages when he came to MLB.

    2. Sadaharu Oh didn't play at a time when many NPB players showed ability to succeed in MLB. During the past 15 years or so, we've seen that Nippon players available to play in MLB often play on par with MLB players. Sure this happens with guys coming up from AAA too, but, unlike AAA, most Nippon players are tied to their team and don't get a chance here. I haven't done the number crunching, but it seems to me that a higher percentage of Nippon players succeed in MLB when they get the chance than AAA players do. It's a small sample, so it's tough to say, but to me it really looks like the talent level over in Japan is better than the AAA talent here in the PCL or IL. Certainly some of their outfielders are better than some MLB outfielders (as seen in recent viral videos). I can't be sure that was true in Sadaharu Oh's time period, so I can't say he was better than Aaron. It's certainly telling that teams rarely tried to acquire Japanese talent before the 90's or even showed any interest.

    Of course, I could be way off on this, because I don't know THAT much about the Nippon.

  76. John Autin Says:

    Devon -- Here's B-R's list of MLB players born in Japan:

    Besides Ichiro's 10 All-Star Game appearances, I count a total of 9 other All-Star appearances, by 7 different players (2 each by Hideki Matsui and Kaz Sasaki).

    Most MLB HRs by a Japan native: 160, Matsui.
    Highest career BA: Ichiro, .331; Matsui, .289; no one else at .280+.
    Highest career OPS: .848, by Matsui; Ichiro (.807) is the only other at .800+.
    As a group, their OPS is .739.
    Ichiro has over 31% of all hits by Japanese-born players.

    On the pitching side:

    Most MLB Wins by a Japan native: 123, Hideo Nomo; no one else has more than 51.
    Hiroki Kuroda is the only starting pitcher with an ERA under 4.
    As a group, their combined record is 539-574, with a 4.29 ERA.

    Yes, it's a small sample. But almost every player who came over from Japan was an All-Star over there. Kaz Matsui hit over .300 with 20+ HRs several times in Japan; he was a flop here. Tad Iguchi had huge years in Japan in 2003-04, combined OPS near 1.000; in MLB, his career OPS was .739, and he never topped .800 in a full season. Akinori Iwamura had many big years in Japan, slugging over .500 several times; here, his slugging average is .375. Nippon Pro Baseball may be slightly better than AAA, but it's far closer to AAA than it is to MLB.

    The biggest difference between the two leagues seems to be HRs, which are much easier to come by in Japan. Ironically, that may be why Ichiro has been the most successful transplant: He was never a big HR hitter in Japan (118 HRs in 9 years), so he didn't *expect* to hit HRs over here; therefore, less of a mental adjustment.

    But here's perhaps the best example I can give: Colby Lewis had years of success in the American minors, but could never translate it into MLB success. He went to Japan in 2008 and had 2 great years -- led the league in strikeouts both years, with a combined ERA of about 2.80. He came back to MLB this year. No language or cultural barriers, and he was well acquainted with the league, having pitched parts of 5 years in the AL. Lewis has had a good year (better than his W-L record would suggest), with lots of strikeouts. But his ERA is 3.79, almost a full run higher than it was in Japan.

    Ichiro, as far as I know, is the only Japanese player who has had MLB success even comparable with what he did in Japan. It's just a much higher level of competition over here.

  77. bob sawyer Says:

    High average hitters draw intentional walks because they can drive the runner in from second better than the guy following them. Rod Carew and Wade Boggs drew a lot of IBB because they could hit .350 in a good year. When Bonds started hitting .350 his IBB went through the roof. Ichiro is the most dangerous man on his team when there is a runner in scoring position, though probably not the most dangerous with 1st base only occupied.
    Do Ichiro's plate appearence to lead to runs? BY and large the answer is yes. The fact that there are so many of them dilutes his per game rating but raises the overall wins above replacement. Basically Ichiro has had three years when he was a legitimate MVP candidates and all the other years he was 30 to 45 runs above replacement level. In other words, be plays at just below allstar level a lot of the time, but plays so much that he produces above average value nearly every season and all star level value about half the time.
    A player who kept this up over 20 years would be an obvious Hall of Famer. In Ichiro's case he will have a twenty-year professional career, but with 7 of those years occuring in Japan. Strictly speaking those years don't count for Hall of Fame eligibility--but they represent part of his resume of accomplishments. Think of it this way, are not 1200 "minor league" hits more of an accomplishment than 800 such hits? If a pitcher wins 200 major league games and then goes on to 200 more wins in the minors, does that not constitute a greater career than if had returned to the farm after being released?

    Joe McGinnity isn't in the Hall of Fame because of two 400 inning seasons in his 30s. He was selected because he was doing it again in the minor leagues in his fourties. ALtoghether, Iron man Joe won more than 400 professional games. That doesn't make him the equivalent of Walter Johnson or Lefty Grove, but it probably doesn pull him about eveb with Eddie PLank.

  78. Neil L Says:

    Bob, a great post, at least in terms of helping me understand Ichiro's career and his IBB. Thank you.

    It does him a disservice to call him a Punch and Judy hitter but it still difficult to see why, with his incredible eye at the plate, he doesn't get more X-base hits.

  79. John Autin Says:

    @77 -- "Joe McGinnity isn't in the Hall of Fame because of two 400 inning seasons in his 30s. He was selected because he was doing it again in the minor leagues in his fourties."

    Bob, that's an interesting statement, but I'm wondering if you have a source to back it up. I have never, ever heard of minor-league records being cited by HOF voters as part of a player's HOF credentials (with the very special exception of players inducted on the basis of their careers in the Negro Leagues).

    If that were to be the case, I think it would be extremely hard to determine where to draw the line. You noted that McGinnity was still doing it in his forties, and indeed, he had 4 good years in the high minors from age 38-41. But here's where it gets tricky: At age 42, he dropped down to class-B and had a few big years in the Northwest League. And after a few years out of the game, he returned at age 51 -- but in the class-D Mississippi Valley League, where he finally called it a career after going 6-6 at age 54.

    How much weight would you give to his minor-league record, particularly the years below class-A?
    In 1915, age 44, McGinnity went 21-15, 1.75 with class-B Tacoma. What was the level of competition? A handful of his Tacoma teammates either had played in MLB or went on to play there, but I've never heard of any of them -- Tony Boeckel, Johnny Butler, Roy Grover, Willie Hobert, Ed Kippert, Les Wilson. When you get down to the class-D Dubuque Climbers, I find only one teammate who played in MLB -- pitcher Art Delaney, who had one decent year with the 7th-place Braves.

    This is just one example. There are dozens of players, especially pre-WWII, who had a solid MLB career and a mountain of minor-league stats. How much minor-league success would it take to get any of those guys over the HOF hump? Lefty O'Doul won two MLB batting titles in his 30s, finished with a .349 BA and 143 OPS+ -- in less than 4,000 PAs. But he also had 4 huge years in the PCL while making the conversion from pitcher to hitter; his career PCL stats are extremely similar to his MLB stats, across the board. If it were true that HOF voters considered minor-league careers as part of the player's resume, I would think that Lefty O'Doul would have been inducted, but he wasn't.

    P.S. My favorite O'Doul fact: He came to bat just once in any World Series, pinch-hitting in game 2 of the 1933 WS with the Giants trailing 1-0 in the 6th. He hit a 2-run single off Senators ace General Crowder, starting a 6-run rally and copping the "GWRBI"; the Giants went on to win the WS in 5 games. O'Doul's career WS line: 1-1-1-2. Nice. The Giants had picked up the 36-year-old O'Doul on June 16; they were tied for 1st place at the time, at 31-20. In his first game with NYG, O'Doul pinch-hit a 2-run, game-winning single. With O'Doul hitting .306 with a 146 OPS+ the rest of the way, the Giants pulled away and won the pennant by 5 games.

  80. Bryan Says:

    Joe McGinnity's career record of 246-142 is more than 100 games over .500, and his winning pct was .634. He was voted in by the "Old Timers" committee in 1946, they made a number of poor selections during that period.

    I don't know off hand who was on the old timers committee at the time, but the composition of the committee MIGHT (I stress MIGHT) explain McGinnity's being voted in. Nine inductees in 1945, Eleven in 1946... Tommy McCarthy???

    McGinnity's best seasons were in New York, which may have also helped him. But the old-timers committee was still in the process of sorting through several generations of stars, and they made a few goofs along the way.

    Not sure how much his minor league career would have had to do with it, I also have never heard that cited as a reason to induct anyone. As a side note, the minors back then were not the minors we know today...they had no ties to specific major league teams, as they do now. Minor leaguers were on baseball cards, they were local stars, and the reason they tried to play well was not to get "called up" to the majors, it was so that they could get a better contract. Some minor league stars made major-league salaries. That's why there were so many "career" minor leaguers in those days, who piled up eye-popping lifetime stats.

  81. John Autin Says:

    Bryan, good points about the independent (and semi-independent) status of the minor leagues prior to the 1930s. But as you said, that status has not been publicly cited (or really even debated) as a reason for any particular induction.

    Meanwhile, I *think* you're endorsing McGinnity's induction, but I'm not sure; you cited his outstanding MLB stats, but then you mention the poor selections by the Veterans Committee.

    In any case, I think McGinnity needed no other credentials beyond that 246-142 MLB record (leading the NL in wins 5 times in 10 years), an average of 344 IP per year with a solid 120 ERA+, and a 0.00 ERA in 2 World Series starts.

    Since this thread seems to be winding down, forgive me for going off on another historical tangent:

    I was just perusing McGinnity's early career and noticed his strong ties to John McGraw. His first year in the majors was with the 1899 Baltimore Orioles of the National League; McGraw was the team's manager and best hitter, batting .391 with a .547 OBP (no typo, .547), scoring 140 runs. The O's disbanded (?) in 1900 as the NL trimmed from 12 teams to 8; the contracts of McGinnity and McGraw were both assigned to Brooklyn, but McGraw was then sold to the Cardinals. McGraw had an excellent year at bat for the Cards, while McGinnity led Brooklyn to the NL pennant with a 28-8 record. When the AL was formed in 1901, both players jumped to the new Orioles; both had good years in '01, McGinnity winning 26 and McGraw posting his 3rd straight OBP of .500+ as a part-time player. But the O's fell backwards in '02; McGinnity was just solid, while McGraw had been relegated to the bench, for some reason. In early July, the O's released McGraw, who promptly signed on with the 23=50 Giants as player-manager; a week or so later, Baltimore cut McGinnity, and McGraw snapped him up.

    The 1902 Giants improved under McGraw, but still finished last, their 5th straight 2nd-division finish and 13th year since their last pennant. But in '03, McGraw and McGinnity (31 wins, 434 IP), with a little help from Christy Mathewson (30-13), led the club to a 2nd place finish and a.604 W%. They won the pennant each of the next 2 years, with 2 of the best records ever posted to that point -- 106-47, and 105-48. McGinnity went 56-23 in the 2 years, Mathewson 64-21. Unfortunately, there was no WS in 1904, but in '05 they beat the A's, 4-1, for the NL's first modern WS win; Mathewson was the star with 3 CG shutouts, but McGinnity was no slouch, with a shutout of his own (he lost another game on 3 unearned runs).

    [Whoops, life intervenes -- finish this later, if possible.]

  82. Bryan Says:

    John Austin #81, yes, I should have clarified... I really don't think McGinnity's career was of HOF caliber, despite the outstanding W/L percentage and games over 500... (he'd have a good Fibbonacci win total)... I like Bill James' "Keltner Test" as a starting point in assessing a player's HOF credentials, and I don't think McGinnity does well on that test. But you're right, I didn't make that clear in my prior post.

    He certainly had some outstanding teams behind him in NY (although he certainly was a contributor to that team...oops there I go again... no, I don't think he should be a HOFer lol)

  83. Mike Felber Says:

    Few singles hitters have much power. Even doing it in batting practice is significant, & a player of Ichiro's bat control would be well served to change his approach at least to a degree, at least hitting with more of an uppercut. If he lost some average, he would likely compensate w/more XBH & walks. Boggs was different as a hitter, but he did have unusual untapped power: he also would have been better served to swing "up" more, simple as that sounds, & good as he already was.

    Who is a batter hitter can be looked at in terms of skill set. But who is most productive has not been in question since after the dead ball era. When players can hit a significant # of HRs & draw walks-possible for many since 1920-they add more value by creating more runs. Power leads to BB, & if it is achievable, it is leaving value on the table not to exploit that. Does not mean you need to swing for the fences every time.

    Hack Wilson is listed at 190. Did he reach over 200? And was it getting chubby?

  84. John Autin Says:

    Bryan -- I'm not familiar with either Fibonacci win totals or the Keltner Test, so I can't respond to those points.

    And there's no doubt that McGinnity's record was helped by the quality of his team -- as is true of so many HOF pitchers.

    But, if McGinnity were *not* in the Hall of Fame, he would have the best ERA+ of any eligible pitcher with at least 3,000 IP who was not inducted. His 120 ERA+ is tied with Carl Mays and Emil "Dutch" Leonard; McGinnity had more innings, far more wins and a better W% than either.

  85. Johnny Twisto Says:

    ANYONE that has seen Ichiro in BP knows he could hit for power he just chooses not too.

    Then he's an idiot.

    The guy hits about 25 doubles a year. He is NOT some latent power hitter. Maybe you mean he could hit 30 HR, but bat .210 while doing so. In which case, who cares? Almost everyone could hit for more power at the expense of the rest of their game. So what?

    Why do so many people get hung up on the "power" numbers.

    Home runs are more valuable than singles, FYI.

  86. Mark R. Says:

    Joe McGinnity had over 500 wins in his professional career. It is absurd for anyone to say that he shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame. This issue burns me up and I won't stand by and let anyone say that McGinnity wasn't one of the truly all time great HOF pitchers. All minor league stats count. At the time he was elected, he was probably elected only on his major league stats. But his minor league records truly push him up to the status of an all time elite player. His true quality far exceeded the majority of pitchers in the HOF. (Catfish Hunter? Jim Bunning?) Some of those guys have garbage records compared to McGinnity. Sandy Koufax won 0 games in the minors and a paltry 165 in his career. Joe McGinnity won over 500 games in his career.

  87. Bryan Says:

    Mark R #86 - Koufax was a unanimous Cy Young selection 3 times in a 4 year period, at a time when only one CYA was given for the entire major leagues. He was the most feared pitcher in MLB for several years. Arthritis forced his retirement, so unlike McGinnity, he did not pile up a bunch of stats in the minors after he was through with the majors (or rather, after the majors were through with him).

    Koufax also won the MVP award in 1963 (along with the CYA) and finished 2nd during the other two CYA seasons.

    It's also not Koufax's fault that he didn't have a long minor league career prior to reaching the majors.

    The Dodgers were not exactly a run scoring machine in those days either.

    1963 Dodgers: Koufax 25-5 1.88 ERA. Dodgers were 6th in the 10 team NL in runs scored
    1965 Dodgers: Koufax 26-8 2.04 ERA Dodgers were 8th in a 10 team league (ahead of Mets & Astros) in R
    1966 Dodgers: Koufax 27-9 1.73 ERA Dodgers were again 8th in a 10 team league (ahead of Mets & Cards) in Runs

    I'm guessing that McGinnity would have won the CYA in 1904, but that was probably it.

    I've never lost any sleep over McGinnity being a HOFer, it just so happens that I think he's borderline.

  88. Bryan Says:

    #84 John Austin -

    Re: Keltner Test and Fibonacci numbers:

    The Keltner Test is a list of about 15 or so questions. These questions are useful in evaluating where a player stands as a potential HOF inductee. Those questions are:

    1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?
    2. Was he the best player on his team?
    3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?
    4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?
    5. Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?
    6. Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the Hall of Fame?
    7. Are most players who have comparable career statistics in the Hall of Fame?
    8. Do the player's numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?
    9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?
    10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but not in?
    11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?
    12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the other players who played in this many go to the Hall of Fame?
    13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?
    14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?
    15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

    The questions are, for the most part, subjective. And there's no "magic number" of "Yes" answers that will "qualify" a player to be inducted.

    But basically, the reasoning behind this list is "If you can't answer 'yes' to a number of these questions in talking about a player, then why are you even considering him as a HOF candidate?"

    When you look at the questions, and think about some of the all time greats (Ruth, Aaron, Mays, Wagner, Walter Johnson, guys at that level) and run down the questions, you'll find a lot of "Yes" answers (as well as high numbers for the # of all star games, being close in MVP races, etc.

    Bill James created this list and discusses it at length in his Historical Baseball Abstract. (btw, Ken Keltner was a 3rd baseman in the AL during the 1930s and 40s. James once received some mailings from some folks who thought Keltner should be in the HOF, so James came up with this list of questions in order to clarify in one's own mind where a player stands re HOF candidacy). )

    Re: Fibbonacci Win Points: This is a stat that James came up with which "evaluates" and "ranks" pitchers by a combination of their career wins, winning percentage and their games over .500. The formula is:

    wins times winning pct plus games over .500 = Fibonacci Win Points

    The Fibbonacci part comes in because if a player's winning percentage is equal to Fibonacci's number (.618), then he was have the same number of wins as he has Fibo win points. Cy Young, for example:

    Wins = 511
    Losses = 316
    Percentage = .618
    Games over .500 = 195

    Formula: 511 x .618 + (511 - 316) = 511

    For Christy Mathewson:

    Wins = 373
    Losses = 188
    Percentage = .665
    Games over .500 = 185

    Formula: 373 x .665 + (373 - 188) = 433

    This formula was developed by James in order to try to separate pitchers like Koufax from ordinary pitchers with similar career win totals.

    Basically, if a pitchers winning percentage is > fibo number, his win points will exceed his career wins (e.g. Mathewson).

    If a pitcher's winning pct is = fibo's number, then his fibo number will = his win total (e.g. Cy Young)

    If a pitcher's winning pct is BELOW fibo's number, then his fibo win points will be less than his win total (e.g. Milt Pappas 209-164, pct .560 Fibo win points = 162,

    Ranking pitchers by Fibo win points (compared to ranking them simply be career wins) will move guys up if they have a good winning pct and are a lot of games over .500, and will move guys down who have long careers, good win totals, but are basically .500-.550 pitchers.

    If a pitcher's career winning percentage is exactly .500, his Fibo win points will be exactly half of his career win total (example Howard Ehmke W 166 and L 166... 166 x .500 + zero games over .500 = 83 Fibo win points)

    If you list all pitchers according to Fibo win points, it will move guys like Koufax and Dizzy Dean up the list, while moving guys like Red Faber (254-213, 179 fibo win points) down the list.

    The stat rewards a good winning pct and a long enough career to be many games over .500.

    Hope that helps.

    If you google "Keltner List" and "Fibonacci Win points" you will find links to a number of articles.

    A lot of fans have posted their Keltner analysis about recent HOF candidates such as Keith Hernandez.

  89. Mike Felber Says:

    The Keltner test was developed to see where a player stands re: HOF candidacy. But that statement is ambiguous: it bwas specifically developed by James not to gauge worthiness, but LIKELIHOOD someone would be elected.

    It is very flawed re: testing actual performance. Awards & all star games are so often given out for irrational reasons, like being on the right team, considering context dependent stats instead of what a player actually did, & myriad other emotional biases & ignorance. Likewise, whether someone was the best on a team, or if his team was good enough that he could have made the difference in hitting the post season, is absolutely random & outside of the control of a player's skills & efforts. Other questions address performance, though specific #s & context needs to be examined to make the case.

    I would likewise doubt that James used Fibonacci win points to gauge how good a pitcher was. Odds of being celebrated, sure. But James & virtually any sabermetrically (or even reasonably) inclined fan knows that wins & win % are too dependent on factors outside of a pitcher's control. Sure, pitching quality is usually the strongest factor in determining how well they measure here. But is so much other "noise", like era, IP per game, defensive & run support: mainly how good the team is & plays when you pitch! ERA +, Fielding Independent pitching, WHIP, BB, K/9, HR--->taken together, or esp. ERA + correcting for defense as a shorthand, tell a far superior story of what a pitcher actually did to save runs/win games.

  90. Bryan Says:

    Mike Felber#89 - re: your point that "... Awards & all star games are so often given out for irrational reasons, like being on the right team, considering context dependent stats instead of what a player actually did, & myriad other emotional biases & ignorance..."

    While this has sometimes been true, it's also true that HOF inductions themselves have sometimes been made for the exact same reasons.

    And the Fibonacci win point number doesn't rank pitchers by how good they strictly uses wins, winning pct and games over .500 to rank them. That doesn't mean that it's a final number of abilities. I'll expand a little bit later on about the reasons James developed the number.

  91. bob sawyer Says:

    Much of the Keltner List cannot be applied to McGinnitty but part of it can. All of it can be applied to Ichiro
    1.Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?
    2. Was he the best player on his team?
    3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?
    Based on his numbers in 1900-04 it is probable that some people brieefly regarded McGinnity as the Most Valuable player in the game. His pitching was at nearly the same level as Cy Young and he was doing it in the stronger of the two leagues. McGinnitie's reputation suffers from the fact that in 1905 Christi Mathewson established himself as the Best Pitcher in Baseball and so for the last 4 years McGinnity was not the best player on his team. Not even close.
    Ichiro passes 2 & 3. Bust basically nobody would take Ichior over Bonds or Pujols.
    4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?
    MgGinnity is a yes on this one, with the Caveat that his sore arm in 1908 lead to the giants defeat.
    UNless we look at Japanese Pennent races, the answer for Ichiro so far is NO.
    5. Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?
    This is where the minor league stuff comes in. McGinnity left the Majors and pitched regularly for another decade, and yet aside from the innings count and pitching a lot of double headers, he was not a dominating force in the minor leaguess

    6. Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the Hall of Fame?
    Probabaly not for either of them. At least not until Bill Dahlen is inducted. Maybe Ichiro and MgGinnity are as deserving as Grich and Allen, In McGinnity's case I would say thatlea 200+ minor leauge wins prove he is, while we haven't yet seen the full resume for Ichiro.
    7. Are most players who have comparable career statistics in the Hall of Fame?
    There really isn't any pitcher with comparable statistics to McGinnity as far as I am concerned. On a major-league-only standard I suppose that Penneck and Lemon and Bender and Wilbur Cooper could be considered Comparable. Three out of four of them have been inducted with Iron man Joe making four of five.
    Is there anyone comparable to Ichiro? Certainly not in recent years. Sam Rice would seem to be the closest thing I can come up with.
    8. Do the player's numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?
    By and large I would say yes for both, but it is borderline unless the non-major league portion is taken into account.
    9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?
    In both cases the answer is their careers outside the Major Leagues. In Ichiro's case his RBI count in depressed by his batting lead off. His run count is suppress by the fact that (in recent years) his teammates have been very poor at driving anyone in
    10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but not in?
    Yes in Both cases, but in McGinnity's case the point is sort of moot and for Ichiro this isn't a strong talking point as there are some right fielders and center fielders in the HOF who probably do not belong.
    11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close? 12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the other players who played in this many go to the Hall of Fame?
    NOT APPLICABLE TO McGINNNITY and an unfair qurestion for someone like Ichiro or Jackie Robinson who reached his prime before reaching the major leagues.
    13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?
    Yes in both cases for their best years but not generally true for their ordinary years

    14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?
    No in both cases.

    15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?
    Big Yes for Ichiro. In reading about the Merkle game,one has to wonder about McGinnity's actions. But that is a single incident so it may be unfair to use that as a basis to answer the question,

  92. Bryan Says:

    @ bob sawyer #91 -

    Thanks for posting the comments on Ichiro and McGinnity as they relate to the Keltner Test.

    Couple of things I wanted to point out...

    Even though All Star Games, MVP awards, Cy Young awards, etc, were not always awarded, that doesn't mean that we still can't (subjectively) evaluate a player by those criteria. For example, we might consider McGinnity to have "won" the CYA in 1904. Likewise, we might "award" him a number of all star games based on how many times we think he might have made the all star team based on each individual season that he had.

    Also, the question of "Was he the best player on his team?" might be considered "unfair" in a number of circumstances. For example, no teammate of Willie Mays' was ever the best player on his team, but when a player is a teammate of an all time, all time great like Mays, you allow for that. In evaluating Willie McCovey's HOF credentials, for example, I wouldn't penalize him too much because he wasn't the best player on the Giants due to the presence of Willie Mays on the team.

    Re: #15, Sportsmanship... I know what you're thinking. McGinnity got hold of the ball that got away from Evers as the Cubs were trying to complete the force play on Merkle, and heaved the ball into the stands. Poor sportsmanship, to be sure, but I'm not sure any player of that time wouldn't have done the same thing (well, maybe Matty or Walter Johnson, going by reputations). But hey, I give McGinnity a lot of credit for realizing what the Cubs were up to!

    The "Keltner Test" came about as a result of some mailings that James received from the "Party to put Ken Keltner in Cooperstown" (that's actually what they called themselves!). IIRC, I think Warren Spahn was even on this committee.

    He received three cards, each outlining some reasons that Keltner should be in Cooperstown. Some of the reasons were laughable, such as them pointing out that Keltner had "more RBI's than Jackie Robinson, a higher batting average than Eddie Matthews, and more lifetime hits than Ralph Kiner"! Those "arguments" were just so silly and absurd that it caused James to really consider what a HOFer was, and thus, he came up with this list of questions to ask. Again, none of these provides a definitive answer, and there's no magic number of "yes" answers that will or should "put a guy in". All it is is a tool to clarify where a player stands in our own minds.

  93. Mark R. Says:

    The Keltner test is one way to get a bead on potential candidates but it is not really the only thing you should look at. When James was making up the test, he never thought to consider minor league performances, because minor league stats were not part of the debate-- until now. The Keltner test is irrelevant for any player who piled up a long stint in the minor leagues because you must consider a player's entire career to get a true evaluation. Bill James also has a scale in which he defines HOF candidates in a slightly different way. McGinnity and Ichiro would both qualify at least as "definition D" HOFers-- guys who had great longevity (if you include minors, and I do) and performed at a fairly good and consistent level. This site does not have McGinnity's complete minor league record. It was actually more impressive than the partial stats that are listed here.

  94. Mark R. Says:

    Sandy Koufax was only good for an extremely short period of time. He is barely a borderline HOFer. If they aren't going to elect Tony Mullane, Bob Caruthers, and Bert Blyleven, then Koufax should be booted right out of the Hall.

  95. Scott F Says:

    Sandy Koufax cost the Dodgers a bunch of wins after 1966 by being a quitter. He still could have pitched effectively. He should have been tough and pitched through the pain. Joe McGinnity was no quitter, he was still playing professional baseball when he was 54 years old, 23 years after the age that Koufax quit. That alone makes McGinnity 10 times the pitcher that Koufax was.

  96. Bryan Says:

    #95 - Scott F, Koufax was probably pitching in a lot of pain all along. I don't think his arm suddenly starting bothering him in 1966 and forced his retirement. Besides, the Dodgers weren't babying him... Koufax had 27 complete games in both 1965 and 1966... no pitcher has completed as many as 10 games in a season since 1999 (Randy Johnson). Koufax pitched a 10 inning shutout in 1965 and an 11 inning complete game in 1966. We'll never see anyone do that again. The Dodgers weren't interested in "saving" Koufax's arm by having him pitch 5 or 6 innings at a time. They wanted him to go 9 every time, or retire...those were his choices. Most healthy pitchers today aren't allowed to go more than 7 innings, and most can't last even that long.

    Here's a stat: Sandy Koufax had MORE complete games in his career (137) than Roger Clemens (118). Clemens went 354-184, Koufax was 165-87.

    Mark R - #93-94 - Good point about "Definition D" HOFer.

    James, in discussing the question of "What IS a HOFer?", came up with 4 separate definitions:

    Def A - player could reasonably be argued to be the best ever at his position... Willie Mays, Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth

    Def B - player is one of the greatest ever at his position... should be the dominant player at his position while he's active (sometimes talent will double up at a position, such as Mantle and Mays)... should be the biggest star on the field at almost any time... ordinarily would be the biggest star on a pennant winning team (Joe Morgan, George Sisler, Al Kaline and Joe Cronin) - definition written in the mid-80s, he might not agree with Sisler now

    Def C - player is consistently among the best in the league at his position... usually the biggest star on his team unless it's a pennant-winning team, but he's still regarded as one of the most valuable members of a pennant winning team... Billy Williams, Willie Stargell, Harry Heilmann, Fred Clark, Billy Herman and Johnny Evers

    Def D - player rises well above the level of the average player... capable of contributing to a pennant winning team, would be one of the outstanding players on an average team... Joe Rudi, Wally Schang, Lloyd Waner, Eppa Rixey and Tommy McCarthy

    James at that time (mid 80s) estimated that if the HOF were to suddenly induct every player who rose above the level of the poorest HOF selections, there would be about 500-700 HOFers.

    Also, no one is suggesting that the Kelter Test be the only thing one looks at... it's just one of many things to consider.

    btw, I also wonder about some of the pitchers you've named and why they weren't inducted. Caruthers died in 1911 and was probably pretty much forgotten by the time the HOF officially opened. I don't know what Blyleven did wrong besides not winning 300 games... but I sure as heck think he should be in there.

    And of course, you're correct that Koufax was only truly dominant for a short period of time... one thing that I think had to help Koufax's election chances was the fact that the Dodgers won some pennants and a couple of World Series during that time, and Koufax, of course, was the biggest reason. Three WS titles plus another pennant after the Dodgers moved to L.A. ... I don't think you see teams throughout history with that record of success and no HOFers... Koufax was the man.

  97. bob sawyer Says:

    Koufax's career pattern is absolutely unigue. #1 He not only retired at the top, he retired after what was arguably his greatest season. #2 Koufax's 1966 season (or 1965 or 1963) appeared to be was the greatest season any pitcher had between 1946 and 1972(exclusive) and possible the greatest as far back as 1931. #3 Although he had been in the Majors for 12 years, he was only 30 years old in 1966, meaning that in 1967 he would have been in his prime. #4 The injury that forced him out of the game was not directly baseball-related and was considered an incurable condition at the time.

    Back before the Minor Leagues became farm teams, there were star major leaguers who went to the minors for more money, these players did not retire., Nor did the Jackson, Ciccote or Felsch of the Black Sox. Dick Allen elected(perhaps regrettably) to return to MLB. So far as I know the only other player described by #1 is Mike Mussina, who was definately past his prime years and whose final seasons were by no means historic.

    Koufax was marginally qualified in certain other ways, but he had reached and sustained a level of excellence which Baseball had not seen since Lefty Grove and would not see again until the prime of Greg Maddux. That made him a DEFINITION A HALL OF FAMER at the time of his Selection in 1972. Given what Maddux, Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson accomplished during their carreers, IMO Koufax has been pushed down to Definition B, but the data for WPA Wins indicates that excellent arguments can be made that although Koufax was no more effective than his comtemporary Bob Gibson on a per start basis, Koufax was more valuable than Gibson or any any subsequent pitcher because he pitched in a four-man rotation.

    Regards the "injury", Koufax pitched through his arthritus for two complete seasons. His elbow swelled up after every game. Whether this was an act of courage or medical idiocy/ignorance is up to you. It is my understanding that after the 1966 season his doctors realized that his loss of minor functions was likely to become permanent if he pitched another season. rather than cripple himself for life as so many football players of that time were doing, Koufax opted not to continue pitching. Whether that consitutes cowardice or common sense is up to you.

    IMO, a pitcher with his condition today would be limited to 20-30 starts per season, be given constant injections of LEGAL steriods to promote healing, miss at least one entire season when the condition got out of control and last about as long as Bret Saberhagen did. A modern Koufax would have been 16-5 or so in 1966 and the Dodgers would not have been in contention in September. On the other hand, the Dodgers would then probably have been Western Division champions in 1969, 1971 and 1973 rather than runners up.

  98. bob sawyer Says:

    We have gotten way off topic but I think a final post might be appropriate.
    There are three legitimate reasons why a player manager umpire or executive deserves HOF induction. a
    a) They changes baseball for the better in a lasting way.
    b) They sustained exellence for an unusually long time.
    c) They achieved a level of Historicall unusual excellence for three or more seasons.

    In deciding of criteria B or C is met it is appropriate to take into account such factors as war time or the Minor League reserve arrangements of the time. Thus if Hank Greenberg had been killed in WWII he might still qualify on criteria B despite the brevitiy of his career. If Grove had not recovered from his
    arm injury of 1934 the same reasoning would apply. Had Joe DiMaggio been crippled in WWII, it would make sense to cut him some slack on Criteria C.

    What makes Sandy Koufax's situation unigue is that he is possibly the only man other than Joe Jackson and some 19th Century pitchers who clearly met criteria C without coming anywhere near meeting criteria B.
    The seasonal ordering is off, but If Ted Williams had not returned to Baseball after Korea his situation would be somewhat like that of Koufax. He was the best hitter anyone had seen since Ruth and Hornsby (or would see again until Barry Bonds used steroids.) On the negative side Ted Williams would be barely eligible in terms of seasons played and his career totals would be top five, at best And then only in percentage catagories. And yet would not these six seasons put Williams in the Hall of Fame regardless of how he perfomed in the four other years: hit 406 and set OBA record; triple crown, MVP, Triple crown, Batting and slugging titles, MVP with missing triple crown by less than .001 in BA?

  99. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Dizzy Dean would qualify as a type C as well.

    Joe Jackson is not in the HOF, of course.