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MLB.com: Olerud and Brown are “Fringe Candidates”

Posted by Sean Forman on November 30, 2010

Beloved Tino debuts on Hall of Fame ballot | MLB.com: News.

MLB.com is running full profiles on the top candidates for the HOF (like Tino Martinez) and then lumping "fringe" candidates together (like Kevin Brown and John Olerud).

Kevin Brown and John Olerud are both essentially twice the player that Tino Martinez was. No plausible HOF case can be made for Martinez, but Olerud and Brown are both better than perennial candidates like Jim Rice and Jack Morris.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 at 9:32 am and is filed under Announcements. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

206 Responses to “MLB.com: Olerud and Brown are “Fringe Candidates””

  1. Library Dave Says:

    There are only 33 guys on the ballot. How hard is it to write a profile of each one? The vast majority of these guys will never make it, but there's no reason to disrespect any of their careers by calling them "fringe candidates" and dismissing them from consideration.

  2. UUhhh... Tino Martinez never even had one .300 season, never had an OBP higher than .371, and has a slightly higher career SLG than Olerud. Do they think it's April 1st again? That's pretty easy to see through.

    And I think even to the most backward fans, Kevin Brown was at least as good as Jack Morris.

  3. I don't get the Olerud/Rice joke,I guess I have to follow the blog closer. Someone fill me in on why he said Olerud was better than Rice? I'm a Pirates fan and we have running jokes(besides the team on the field) that people who didn't follow our message board wouldn't get and would think we were crazy if we were serious. I have used BR daily for years,even sponsored pages to show my thanks but I really haven't read the blog section until I friended the site on facebook so sorry if I missed the Olerud being a feared hitter jokes

  4. Let's note the one thing Tino Martinez has going for him in the Hall of Fame debates: His Yankee career coincided exactly with the team's period of greatest dominance (1996-2001). Tino played in 16 postseason series in his six seasons as a Yankee. That increases his "fame" exponentially.

    Also, there's this. Before Tino arrived, the Yankees weren't a World Championship team. After he left, they struggled in the postseason. He was there when they were the very best. Most of us here wince at where this syllogism is leading, but it may be persuasive to some.

    Stronger arguments than this for Tino Martinez' HOF candidacy? I got nothing.

  5. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Martinez as a "Fringe" candidate??? Maybe a couple of votes for old times sake, but as a possibility for induction, forget it. Brown is a valid {if close to "fringe"} candidate; and Olerud borders on "maybe, if we get desperate". But Tino only deserves a couple of votes just to say he was considered.

  6. I guess I don't have a problem with calling Brown and Olerud "fringe candidates" (particularly Olerud - I have a bit of a problem with Brown being called that) just because they're not the kind of guys that the Hall usually picks. But I have a huge, huge, HUGE problem with anyone who thinks Tino is a Hall of Famer. Basically, if you remove 1997, he's Bobby Higginson. They're rate stats are the same, Tino's WAR is a little higher due to the fact that he played longer, but there's really not that much of a difference. Tino's a little better in the clutch, and a little better overall, but they're basically the same player. And Bobby's a fringe candidate. Tino is a no-chance Hall of Famer, but he'll get more votes than some more deserving players, and that's what's sad.

    Also, by the way, some Tigers fan out there needs to sponsor Bobby Higginson's page.

  7. wow, huh

  8. WanderingWinder Says:

    John, he's saying that Olerud was a better player than Martinez because John Olerud was a MUCH better player than Tino Martinez. I'm sure you know that already though - I'm clearly just missing some kind of inside joke you have...

    I can't think of any reason Martinez is considered a prime candidate other than his involvement with the beginning of the current Yankee run of "greatness", though the teams he was on have little in common with those they're running out today.

  9. I don't think Tino belongs in the Hall. But I disagree with the conclusion that Olerud was "twice" (whatever that means) the player Martinez was. Is that another joke that I am not in on (like #3 wondered above)?

    Kevin Brown should be up for consideration, but I don't think will make it. But then again, I actually think Jack Morris should make the HOF (which is not a popular feeling on these boards).

  10. none of these mutts are even close to Hall worthy. Brown is probably the best of them, but even he was just a very good pitcher in an era dominated by giants (Pedro, Maddux, Johnson and on and on).

    Here's the real sniff test. Wait ten years. No one will even remember any of them.

  11. Pretty tacky of mlb here. I came to terms with it being more of a marketing website than a news/opinion site a long time ago. Its still has its uses for the access its writers have and the highlights.

    That said, that's just bad marketing to collect "fringe" candidates as they've done. Its the off-season, you figure the Oriole or Brewer beat writer would enjoy writing a nostalgic puff piece on BJ Surhoff. Even more annoying that they did such a bad job of picking which ones were fringe.

    My guess is that Kevin Brown had such a reputation as being a mercenary that none of the beat writers volunteered to do his bio.

  12. Kevin Brown should be a no-doubt-about-it 1st ballot Hall of Famer. He had 310 adjusted pitching runs, meaning that he was over 31 wins above average for his career, a phenomenal total. Every pitcher with over 300 APR is in the HOF except Kevin Brown and Bert Blyleven. Sadly, the stupid idiots who cast the ballots probably won't vote for Kevin Brown, who is eminently deserving of the honor.

  13. Olerud owned, Kevin Brown owned. I'm glad I know this now and I bet the Hall realizes it some time between now and 12 years from now.

  14. "adjusted pitching runs"? who makes this stuff up?

    Another crap-tastic pitching stat. Oh, and what a surprise.... it points to Bert Blyleven as one of the greatest pitchers of all time. Honestly, I think these sabreheads adjust their formulas, and when Blyleven floats to the top, they know it's right.

  15. Olerud's stats are interesting. In his first 11 full years he only had 2 seasons with .300+ BA. And in those 2 years he had batting averages of .363 and .354!

  16. John Olerud will probably drop off the ballot after one year, while Martinez might get enough votes to carry over. However, in reality John Olerud should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He beats out Martinez by a mile. Olerud got on base 3689 times with 2239 hits, 1275 BB, 88 HBP and 87 safe on errors in 9063 PA. That's a .407 career OBP. And that's outstanding. He was also an excellent fielder at 1st base.
    In Player Wins above average, The Baseball Encylopedia ranks John Olerud ahead of Ralph Kiner, Zack Wheat, Kirby Puckett, Goose Goslin, Jimmy Collins, Al Simmons, Nolan Ryan, Duke Snider, Chuck Klein, Jim Rice, Tony Perez, Luis Aparicio, Jim Bunning, and Pee Wee Reese. Olerud was about as good or better than all of those players.
    The egregious failure to elect John Olerud will once again show the utter stupidity of the HOF voters.

  17. Joe Garrison Says:

    All this Olerud talk has me scratching my head. If you consider the two players, it was JIM RICE who was once considered the most feared hitter in baseball.

    It's those types of players who make the HOF nowadays.

    Nowadays... I said.

  18. Adjusted Pitching Runs is not a "made up" stat. It measures the number of runs a pitcher saved above or below a league average pitcher based on his ERA+ and his Innings Pitched. Bert Blyleven was really a great pitcher and so is Kevin Brown. "Statheads" don't just make up stats so their cult favorites will "float to the top". People calculate statistics to find out the truth of what really happened and who was responsible for winning ballgames. Bert Blyleven and Kevin Brown were great pitchers who should be in the HOF without any doubt.

  19. Not true. WAR for pitchers is a very complicated stat that has been adjusted several times- at least that's what's been posted.

    WAR for batters I have a lot of respect for, but so many times the WAR for pitchers doesn't even pass the sniff test. Kevin Brown was a better pitcher than Jim Palmer? You've got to be kidding. And where does that leave Blyleven... 12th,13th? Absurd.

    Kevin Brown wasn't fit to carry Jim Palmer's jockeys.

  20. Does the Hall have Tino and Edgar mixed up? ;-)

  21. If they aren't going to elect players like John Olerud, then the selection of Jim Rice is a joke. John Olerud had 420 Value-Added Park-Adjusted Batting Runs above average, according to Tom Ruane's VABR database. That means that if you take into account the base-out situation (the 24 states) of each PA, Olerud improved his team's run potential by 420 runs over a league-average batter.
    Jim Rice was only 190 VABR above average, park-adjusted. Rice's high RBI total was inflated by Fenway Park. Also, Rice grounded into a ton of DPs, leading the AL 4 times. Most systems don't take that into account, but Ruane's VABR do measure the high cost of a GDP. Rice was a good hitter, but if you want guys like Rice to be HOFers, then you MUST elect players like Olerud, who were better.

  22. Morten Jonsson Says:

    I don't consider Olerud a Hall of Fame candidate, but he was a criminally underrated player. In 1996, a bad year for him, he still had a better OBP and slugging percentage than Tino Martinez and was the best player on a bad Blue Jays team. The Jays decided he was washed up and traded him to the Mets for Robert Person. Not even up, of course. The Jays had to throw in some cash. Tino, meanwhile, got a 2 million dollar raise. And in 1998, when Olerud was one of the two or three best players in the league, he finished 12th in the MVP voting. Yes, he was a better player than Tino. Better than quite a few in the Hall of Fame. That doesn't mean he should be there, but it would be nice to see the man get a little respect.

  23. re: Palmer and Brown

    Palmer had a 2.86 ERA and a 126 ERA+ (meaning he was 26% better than the average pitcher pitching in his environment) in over 3900 innings pitched.

    Kevin Brown had a 3.28 ERA and a 127 ERA+ in over 3200 innings.

    Palmer pitched his entire career for the Orioles; Brown was a mercenary.

    They're almost identical in terms of domination, but Palmer pitched more innings and picked up more wins, and did it forone franchise. So the edge goes to Palmer, but Brown was definitely more than worthy "to carry Jim Palmer's jockeys."

    If Jim Palmer is a first-ballot no-doubt Hall of Famer, then Kevin Brown deserves to be in.

  24. @ Barkfart, I said nothing about WAR for pitchers. I never mentioned it at all. WAR is wins above replacement. APR is adjusted pitching runs and it has appeared in Total Baseball since 1989. APR compares pitchers to the league average. It's easy to confuse the 2 stats, but they are much different.
    I don't necessarily think WAR is accurate that's why I didn't mention it. Kevin Brown does not rank ahead of Jim Palmer in APR.
    Saying that Brown wasn't as good as Palmer is about as relevant as saying that Palmer wasn't as good as Cy Young. The fact of the matter is that Kevin Brown rises well above the level that should be the Hall of Fame standard.

  25. I understand people's concers about not wanting to water down the standards of the HOF in regards to Olerud. But why are they electing guys like Jim Rice and Andre Dawson? Yet John Olerud, Barry Larkin, Tim Raines, Bobby Grich, Billy Martin, Mark McGwire, Ron Santo, Rusty Staub, Lou Whitaker, Sadaharu Oh, Buzz Arlett, Darrell Evans, Pete Rose, and Shoeless Joe Jackson can't get in. There are more great players outside the HOF than there are in it.

  26. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Your argument might be more convincing if there weren't very clear and obvious reasons why half your list isn't in the HOF.

  27. I expect Olerud to do poorly in the HOF voting, primarily because he had modest HR power for a first baseman. I see him as very similar to Keith Hernandez, who never got as high as 11% of the vote. Olerud might fare somewhat better than that, due to enhanced appreciation of on-base percentage among the electorate over the past 20 years; his superior raw numbers in HRs and RBI; and his cleaner image. But I don't think he gets anywhere near 75%.

    The offensive numbers for Olerud and Hernandez are so similar, I'm surprised their Similarity Score is just 866. Both played 17 seasons and had an OPS+ of 128. The apparent difference in their power numbers is just a context illusion; Olerud had a higher raw SLG, .465 to .436, but Hernandez slugged 46 points above the league average, Olerud 44 points.

    The WAR method sees Hernandez as the slightly better player, mainly because of defense. Olerud was a good defensive 1B (3 Gold Gloves, 9.7 dWAR), but Hernandez was the gold standard by any measure, with 11 straight Gold Gloves and 13.2 dWAR.

    Even their career arcs were similar: Each came up at 20; each had 3 solid years before an MVP-caliber season at age 24-25 that included a batting title; each won a WS (or 2) with his first team, then was traded to the Mets in his late 20s and was instrumental in that team's resurgence; each had his last good / full year at age 34 and was done at 36.

  28. @25

    You're worried about watering down the Hall and you include Staub, a couple of guys who broke the gambling rules, and a guy with one year in the bigs?

  29. If you read through the Tino article the items that are pointed out are that:

    1. He was an All-star twice
    2. He won 2 Silver Slugger awards
    3. He finished 2nd in MVP voting once (not mentioned: Only one other year did he receive votes, a 12th place finish)
    4. He had a .995 fielding percentage at 1B
    5. He hit .271 with 339 HR, 1008 Runs, and 1271 RBI with 1925 hits
    6. He was part of those Yankee dynasty teams.

    That seems to suggest that he's not a HOFer.

    Compare to Keith Hernandez who couldn't stay on the ballot:

    1. He was a 5 time all-star
    2. He won 2 Silver Slugger awards (he probably would have won a 3rd in 1979 had it been given out)
    3. He won an MVP award and finished 2nd once. And 4th another time. And had 5 other years where he at least received votes
    4. He had a .994 career fielding percentage at 1B. And he won 11 Gold Gloves.
    5. He hit .296 with 162 HR, 1124 Runs, 1071 RBI, and had 2182 hits.
    6. He helped (more likely led) 2 different teams to World Championships, hitting 3rd with the 1982 Cardinals and the 1986 Mets.

    I'd probably take Hernandez, but that difference of 200 RBI has me questioning my choice :)

    I was going to comment that the Tino article seemed to have very weak support for his HOF case, but all of the ones I looked at seem to be written that way.

  30. Rusty Staub played 2951 games in the regular season. He was a great hitter, with excellent plate discipline and 398 Value-Added Batting Runs above average. He had incredible longevity, and had 353 Win Shares, accoring to Bill James' book. Anything over 300 WS is definitely a deserving HOFer.

  31. Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson should be in the HOF without a doubt. Neither one of them ever threw a game. Jackson didn't want to be in on the fix. He was coerced into it by Chick Gandil, who promised him an unreasonable amount of money and convinced him that they were going to do it whether he took the money or not. In spite of that, Jackson still played to win because he wanted to win in his heart. He was contrite in his grand jury testimony about taking the money and testified that he fielded, batted, and ran the bases to win all the time. Shoeless Joe Jackson got caught in a bad situation and he made a mistake. But Jackson was innocent. He did nothing to corrupt the game. He showed his true love for the game by playing 18 more years for sandlot teams after he was banned.
    If you look at the World Series statistics of Gandil, Risberg, Cicotte, Felsh, and Williams you will see that they played poorly. But Jackson's World Series record has no recognizable taint. The crooked guys made 9 errors and batted poorly. Jackson hit .375 and made no errors. I am not saying that Jackson's statistics alone prove anything. But Jackson always insisted that he played to win, and the stats don't contradict that.

  32. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Anything over 300 WS is definitely a deserving HOFer.

    Why even have a vote then? I'm glad WS made it so easy for us.

    So Harold Baines is "definitely a deserving HOFer"?

    Picking any arbitrary threshold for induction is foolish, whether it's WS, WAR, or base hits.

  33. Le Grande Orange!!! My wife is a big Mets fan and always says Rusty was the slowest runner ever. Whenever I want to show her how slow someone is, I say "Even Rusty would have beaten that out".

    I love that he has 500 hits/50 HR with 4 teams.

  34. Technically, John Olerud and Kevin Brown are fringe candidates. While both were very good, they probably have little chance of being elected.

    Of course, as you've said, Tino Martinez is even more of a fringe candidate than Olerud and Brown. It's just a matter of being boosted by playing on those Yankees teams.

    But I also think that it doesn't matter how MLB.com writes it up. I'd be surprised if Tino got more votes than Olerud or Brown. I mean maybe he does from NY writers who vote, but it's not like Paul O'Neill or Scott Brosius polled a lot of votes.

    At least Tino has some accomplishments that justify his being on the ballot. Can anyone tell me why Lenny Harris, Bobby Higginson and Kirk Rueter are on the ballot? Carlos Baerga, Charles Johnson, Raul Mondesi and, to a certain extent, Al Leiter and Benito Santiago, are kind of questionable ballot inclusions, too.

  35. Buzz Arlett was a truly great player even though he only had one year in the majors. He and many other all-time great players have been unfairly excluded from the HOF just because their greatness happened to shine in the minor leagues. Hector Espino blasted 794 home runs and drove in 2798 RBIs playing mostly in the Mexican summer and winter leagues. That is absolute greatness in any league. Arlett and Espino and many others should have a bronze plaque in Cooperstown.

  36. David in Toledo Says:

    With respect to the first basemen, when I want one number to start with, in comparing players, I go to win shares. In career win shares for first sackers, John Olerud ranks 24th (with 305) and Tino Martinez ranks 61st (with 215).

    Of course, one needs to look at everything else, peak value, etc. But in this case, the starting place is pretty instructive. First base is a position that allows a very long career, and unless you collect 360 career win shares (the Killebrew level), the burden of proof for Hall-worthiness ought to be on your supporters: he was great defensively; his career was cut short by x, y, or z; he had great peak value; he was a great teammate, feared, clutch, etc.

    Of the 23 who rank ahead of Olerud, 12 are already in the Hall. The other 11 fall into three groups: coming soon (Thomas, Bagwell, Thome, Pujols); contaminated (Palmiero, McGwire, Giambi); not-quite (McGriff, Clark, Hernandez, Cash). Interesting comparisons to Olerud are Orlando Cepeda (310), Keith Hernandez (310), and Mickey Vernon (295 + ages 26-7 out for WWII). No doubt Hernandez (and Dave Parker as well) wishes he had avoided his temptation of choice.

    The closest first basemen to Tino Martinez in career win shares are George Scott and Paul Konerko.

    Both Tino and John had fine careers and don't deserve to be belittled. To be judged fairly, they don't have to be.

  37. @30 "Anything over 300 WS is definitely a deserving HOFer."

    You just inducted Luis Gonzalez (and probably Steve Finley)

  38. It seems clear that Olerud was a better player than Martinez, but saying he was twice the player is just mean--he didn't have twice as many hits, HR's, or RBI, and his OPS+ was not twice as high (yes, I know his WAR was). Indeed, Martinez leads Olerud in some of those categories.

    That aside, it's not Martinez's fault that he was put on the HOF ballot. You don't need to demean his accomplishments--he was a pretty damn good ball player, even if not worthy of the HOF.

  39. @ Johnny Twisto
    You are missing the point. I didn't say that 300 win shares should be a dividing line between HOFers and not. In fact, there are quite a few HOFers with less than 300 WS, and they do belong in the HOF. What I am saying is that 300 WS is a very high total and yes, anyone above that should be a clear HOFer. Harold Baines is definitely deserving, as is Al Oliver, Buddy Bell, Tony Mullane, Bob Caruthers, Jim McCormick, Tommy Leach, Luis Gonzalez, and anyone else over 300. 300 is a high achievement, and you can't deny the greatness of any specific player over 300. Harold Baines played 2830 games, which is exceptional longevity, was 332 VABR above average, and had 1628 RBIs. That's a deserving HOFer for sure.

  40. I would not support Olerud for the HOF, but there's certainly an argument to be made:

    -- There are 14 MLB first basemen in the HOF. Among that group, Olerud would rank 10th in OPS+, 9th in Hits, 11th in Total Bases, 6th in Times On Base, 4th in OBP.

    -- Olerud had a better career, in my opinion, than at least 5 of the 14 HOF first basemen (High Pockets Kelly, Jake Beckley, George Sisler, Jim Bottomley and Frank Chance, who was great but had an absurdly short career by HOF standards). He's arguably as worthy as 4 others (Orlando Cepeda, Bill Terry, Tony Perez and Hank Greenberg, who was a truly great hitter but played just 10 full seasons and was not a good defender). That leaves just 5 HOF first basemen clearly superior to Olerud: Gehrig, Foxx, Mize, Murray, McCovey.

    -- He was a key member of 2 WS champions, and was also a postseason starter for the Mets (1999), Mariners (2000-01), Yankees (2004) and Red Sox (2005). The 2001 Mariners tied a MLB record with 116 wins.

  41. @Mark R.

    Your contention that there are many more great players outside the HOF than in it is pretty laughable. No matter how many players you may call "great" that aren't in the HOF, I'm pretty sure I can name more "great" players who are in.

    Like, for example, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Tris Speaker, Nap Lajoie, Cy Young, Pete Alexander, Rogers Hornsby, Lou Gehrig, Eddie Collins, Cap Anson, Lefty Grove, Carl Hubbell, Frankie Frisch, Mickey Cochrane, Jimmie Foxx, Mel Ott, Paul Waner, Charlie Gehringer, Joe DiMaggio, Al Simmons, Bob Feller, Jackie Robinson, Ted Williams, Roy Campanella, Stan Musial, Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Yogi Berra, Roberto Clemente, Warren Spahn, Mickey Mantle, Oscar Charleston, Cool Papa Bell, Martin Dihigo, Ernie Banks, Eddie Mathews, Willie Mays, Al Kaline, Bob Gibson, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Arky Vaughan, Willie McCovey, Carl Yastrzemski, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Rod Carew, Tom Seaver, Reggie Jackson, Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt, George Brett, Eddie Murray, Paul Molitor, Wade Boggs, Ryne Sandberg, Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken, and Rickey Henderson.

    Just as a start.

  42. @ Jeff J.

    Steve Finley didn't quite make it to 300 Win Shares, but should certainly be in the HOF for his great longevity, steady batting and excellent fielding. He played 2583 regular season games, scored 1443 runs, and in the field he had a career zone rating of .891 in CF, which is well above average, and exceeds that of Andruw Jones, who is only at .876.
    To reiterate, Luis Gonzalez should be a HOFer also. He had 354 VABR above average, and 318 win shares and 2591 games played. Gonzalez rises well above the bar that Jim Rice and Andre Dawson apparently cleared.

  43. @42

    I'm thinking you're gonna have a BIG Hall of Longevity. If we go by if this guy's in, so should someone who's just as good, you got a LOT of pitchers licking their chops at Candy Cummings & corner OF at Tommy McCarthy

  44. P.S.:

    1. What is the difference between WS and WAR?

    2. I think Lefty O'Doul should be in the HOF. What an amazing story and true determination to redesign himself as a hitter in his 30's-- he batted .353 in his 30's -- only three players have done better; and over 140 OPS+. Plus, all the work he did in making baseball popular in Japan.

    I know he has nothing to do with this thread, but he deserves it more than Martinez or Olerud.

  45. First of all, I didn't say that the greatest players outside the Hall are better than the best inside. I was talking about the amount.
    There ARE more great players outside than inside. How many are in the HOF, about 300? There are more than 600 great players not in the HOF. Some are underrated and overlooked major leaguers, like Darrell Evans, Harlond Clift, Lave Cross, Max Bishop, Gene Tenace, Tony Phillips, Ron Santo, Tim Raines, Rusty Staub, Ed Konetchy, Barry Larkin, etc. I could go on and on. Some are guys who had good major league careers and also tacked on extra great performance in the minors, like Babe Herman, Hippo Vaughn, George Van Haltren, Gavy Cravath, etc. Some are mostly minor league players who had exceptional careers like Spencer Harris, Buzz Arlett, Smead Jolley, George Brunet, Sadaharu Oh, Paquin Estrada, etc. I could literally name 600 players, but I won't because I don't want to take up so much space.
    You may not have heard of these guys but they were really great players. A true scholar of the game would know who these guys are and why they are great. I would refer you to look up the Minor League Register, The Encyclopedia Del Beisbol Mexicano, The Historical Register, and The Japanese Baseball Register.

  46. Mark,

    The absurdity of your statements is shocking. If you ever wanted a reason why the baseball mainstream in general doesn't take sabermetrics seriously all you need to do is re-read your posts.

    Even the most die-hard saber supporters would have a difficult time supporting Kevin Brown or John Olerud for the HOF, and yet here you are claiming them to be first ballot no doubters.

    And don't even get me started on your Buzz Arlett reference.

    If your comments proved anything, it's that some things are better left unsaid.

  47. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Mark, I think I get the point perfectly. You have very different standards for your HOF than I have for mine. Which is fine. However, you also have very different standards than the actual HOF. You can't act like it's an egregious injustice that Buzz Arlett hasn't been inducted when there is no precedent for a player like that to be inducted. The vote on Jim Rice has nothing to do with Arlett because Arlett was not on the ballot.

  48. No way is Tino a HOFer, but I always remember him for one thing that everybody seems to forget. In 1997 he had 41 HR by his 130th game coming on Aug 26. He had 39 through his 118th game.

    This was pre-1998, before McGwire and Sosa, and not too long after the 1994 strike. It looked like Tino was going to have a HR season for the ages. He fell off in September and was then totally overshadowed by the guys the following season.

    But for much of one season, he drew a lot of attention for what was then a pretty special performance. This doesn't make him Hall worthy, not by a long shot, but I have fond memories of it.

  49. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Mark, if you are not familiar with it, you should go argue Arlett's case at the Hall of Merit. They do consider players like that (at least the ones who played in North America).

  50. Someone mentioned Lefty O'Doul. He is another guy who should be a no-doubt-about-it HOFer. He had a lifetime ML batting average of .349 in 3659 PA, 4th highest all time. That alone should put him in the HOF. He also had over 2000 wins as a minor league manager. That alone should put him in the HOF.He also played 1090 games in the minors and batted .352. If you consider his overall record he is truly one of the all-time greats. The HOF should hang it's head in shame for every day that he isn't elected.

  51. @34, Pad D -- "Can anyone tell me why Lenny Harris, Bobby Higginson and Kirk Rueter are on the ballot?"

    I think the only 3 formal requirements for HOF consideration are (a) 10 years in the majors, (b) being retired for 5 years, and (c) not being on the "ineligible" list (which is why Shoeless Joe and Charlie Hustle are off the ballot). Every qualifying player is on the ballot, regardless of his accomplishments.

  52. (Sorry for my typo in your name, Pat D.)

  53. "There are more great players outside the HOF than there are in it." - This is an embarrasing statement.

    "He's (Olerud) arguably as worthy as 4 others .... Hank Greenberg" See above.

  54. @31 regarding Rose/Jackson,

    Rose bet on games in which he managed. This is illegal for a reason. I don't know the ins and outs of the specific games, but say for instance he leaves a particular reliever in the game longer than he should to win the game he bet on, but then the reliever is not available for 2-3 games with a potential detriment to his team. Or if he leaves Jose Rijo in longer than he should so that he might strain something (when he wouldn't necessarily have left him in that long for a "normal" game.

    As for Shoeless Joe, I truly want to believe he is innocent (and probably really do believe that - and wouldn't be upset if he was allowed in the HOF), but two things bother me.

    1) He took the money. I wish he had not. I don't care how dumb he may have been (getting talked into whatever by whomever), it is still problematic. And the improprieties consist of taking the money just as much (if not moreso) than throwing the games.

    2) His .375 average does not tell the whole story of innocence, statstics-wise (as you tried to prove in your post above). Here is his performance in each game:
    G1 - Loss - 0 for 4
    G2 - Loss - 3 for 4
    G3 - Win - 2 for 3
    G4 - Loss - 1 for 4
    G5 - Loss - 0 for 4
    G6 - Win - 2 for 4
    G7 - Win - 2 for 4
    G8 - Loss - 2 for 5 (Hit a solo HR down 5-0 and got an RBI 2B down 10-1)

    You can definitely twist the numbers around to make him seem pretty guilty having only truly performed well in 1 of the 5 losses (with the majority of the success coming while well down in the series or a particular game).

  55. I know that some of the guys I mentioned for the HOF are not eligible or were never eligible to be voted on. I understand that in these cases the injustice is not on the part of the voters, it is just the way the system is set up, not that I agree with it.
    However, getting back to John Olerud and Kevin Brown, NOTHING that I said about them was absurd. And if you are shocked that I say they were great players, then maybe you should go take a remedial course in statistical analysis. Kevin Brown WAS a great pitcher. He was 310 runs above average in the majors. Only Blyleven and Brown are that far above average without being in Cooperstown.
    Olerud WAS a great player. He was an excellent hitter and a good fielder at 1st base. If you look at the wins he actually contributed to his teams, he rises above many HOFers. This is not some fiction that I just made up. It is true.

  56. "He also had over 2000 wins as a minor league manager."

    Lefty O'Doul never managed 1 major league game in his life. He also played about 5 seasons in THE highest EVER offensive era in ML history which is why he has such a high average. If he would have played a full career he would have been much, much lower on the all-time BA list. He only finished his career with 1140 hits.

  57. @51 - This isn't entirely true. Wilson Alvarez, Cal Eldred, José Offerman, Paul Quantrill, Steve Reed, Rey Sánchez, Ugueth Urbina, Ismael Valdez and Dan Wilson also met those requirements and weren't included. Also, José Lima could have been included due to his death, much like Darryl Kile and Rod Beck in years past.

    @Mark R. - Your comments seem to be inconsistent, and you can dispense with the aura of superior knowledge you seem to throw around. Clearly you'd like to see more players enshrined in the HOF. That's fine. I think there are plenty of deserving players not in, most of whom you've mentioned. But I also don't think that what players accomplished in the minor leagues should be taken into effect because I don't really believe there's ever been a minor league, or a foreign league for that matter, that has possessed the same level of competition that the major leagues have had. So while they might have done great things in the minors, in my eyes that doesn't make them worthy of HOF inclusion because of it.

  58. Did somebody really write that Olerud is as worthy as Greenberg?

    That's just crazy talk.

    I'm pretty sure I don't need to even look at Olerud's stats to know that he never hit 183 RBI in a season , did not have over 150 RBI three times, or that he does NOT have a career OPS+ of over 150, that he didn't win two MVP awards, that he never hit 63 doubles in one season, that he never hit more than 50 HR's in a season, and that he did not lose almost four seasons to WWII.

  59. @46

    And there are plenty of reasons for sabermetricians not to take mainstream baseball seriously.

  60. "There are more great players outside the HOF than there are in it." - This is an embarrasing statement."
    @Topper
    This is NOT an embarassing statement. Maybe you have a different defintion of greatness, but don't knock my idea of greatness. Have you read about all the great players from the minors and other nations? Have you studied the careers in depth of over 10,000 major and minor league players? Have you read every page of the baseball encyclopedia ten times? You probably haven't. But I have. That just means I am more aware of all the players who are less famous to the average fan. So I have a different idea of greatness, one that is perhaps more inclusive. That doesn't make mine "wrong" or "absurd" or "embarassing". So there.

  61. There are plans for a Minor League HOF to be located in Durham, NC. Plans were for a 2011 opening, but has been pushed back indefinitely.

    As it stands now, each league and/or team has it's own HOF.

    Buzz Arlett is inducted in the PCL HOF, Hector Espino in the Mexican League HOF.

    Where they rightfully belong.

    http://www.minorleaguebaseball.com/league3/page.jsp?ymd=20061214&content_id=148680&vkey=league3_l112&fext=.jsp&sid=l112

  62. Johnny Twisto Says:

    John Autin/40, somehow I glossed over your post before. You're missing Anson, Brouthers, and Connor, who are among the upper echelon of 1Bmen (albeit playing a somewhat different game).

  63. Another problem with Tino is that he had a rare chance at the Home Run Cycle on April 2 1997, hitting 3-R, 2-R and solo bombs in his first 3 at-bats and then coming to bat with the bases loaded in his 4th AB...only to ground out. You better strike out or complete the HR cycle there or the baseball gods will be very upset. Without doing too much research I know at least Geoff Jenkins had a similar oppurunity and struck out honorably.

  64. HOF selection criteria clearly states, "ten years of MAJOR LEAGUE EXPERIENCE."

    Can we please stop with Lefty O'Doul's minor league managerial record and the records of some long forgotten players.

    You want to discuss Olerud or Brown as viable candidates, fine, at least they qualify according to the rules of election.

    The only thing that takes a hit when talking about anyone else is your own credibility.

  65. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Mark R., I will say again: If you have expertise on players from the PCL or Latin leagues, you should share it at the Hall of Merit. They are very receptive to that stuff and do consider such players for induction:
    http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/hall_of_merit/
    http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/hall_of_merit/discussion/buzz_arlett
    http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/hall_of_merit/discussion/perucho_cepeda/

  66. David in Toledo Says:

    Okay, Kevin Brown. Win shares are (since 1900) harder to come by if you're a starting pitcher. In this case and for catchers, 300 IS a good presumption line, at least after 1900. Everything else merits consideration, but we can start here.

    Kevin Brown has 243 career win shares, ranking 82nd all-time. Of the 81 ahead of him, 46 are in the Hall and 35 are not. Of the 35, 15 are at least in part 19th-century, leaving 20. Of the 20, 9 are not (or not yet) eligible: Clemens, Maddux, Randy, Glavine, Smoltz, Mussina, Pedro, Schilling, Eddie Cicotte.

    So, 11 like Kevin Brown (243): eligible but not in. They are Bert Blyleven (342), Tommy John (292), Jack Quinn (288), Jim Kaat (269), Wilbur Cooper (259), Luis Tiant (252), Bucky Walters (251), Carl Mays (251), George Mullin (248), Jerry Koosman and Billy Pierce (245 each). Use the data as you wish.

    Pitchers within 5 career win shares of Kevin Brown number 13. Four are in the Hall: Herb Pennock, Rube Waddell, Dazzy Vance, and Stan Covaleski. Nine are not: Mullin, Koosman, Pierce, Frank Tanana, Sam Jones, Mel Harder, Bobo Newsom, Rick Reuschel, Eddie Cicotte.

    In Kevin's favor: his five seasons from 1996 through 2001 (and especially the beginning and ending years) were a great peak. Against: he is mentioned in the Mitchell report.

  67. Mark R, there is no way you have in depth knowlege of 10,000 different players so please stop with the unprovable internet intimidation tactics usually used by 13 year olds. Please tell me how a career minor league baseball player could be considered great compared to a major league baseball hall of famer? Just because you like to show off the fact that you are aware of thousands of players that other, lesser people have never heard of does not mean they are greater than enshrined major leaguers. Just because you can list the Japanese career HR leaders does not mean they could hit off of Sandy Koufax.

    Please list 16 players who were as "great" as these 15:
    Babe Ruth
    Willie Mays
    Ty Cobb
    Ted Williams
    Honus Wagner
    Walter Johnson
    Hank Aaron
    Stan Musial
    Mickey Mantle
    Oscar Charleston
    Tris Speaker
    Eddie Collins
    Rogers Hornsby
    Lou Gehrig
    Josh Gibson

  68. @35

    There was this guy in my softball league that started the year with twenty-five straight hits. That's greatness in any league.

  69. Kevin Brown? The writers would never vote that personality in. Not only that, his suspected steroid use guarantees that his number of votes will be down. I'll be shocked if he even gets 25% of the vote.

  70. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Chuck, many Negro Leaguers were inducted without 10 years of MLB experience. Those are different circumstances, but Mark obviously wants the HOF to evaluate all players, regardless where they played.

  71. @67

    To be fair, they are not the standard for the Hall of Fame.

  72. In every league that has ever existed there will always be someone who was the best in the league and considered great in that context, just like Jeff J.'s teammate, but it does not mean he can be considered to be just as great as Babe Ruth yet still not in the HOF. I know who Buzz Arlett was and Bill James has rated him as possibly a lower tier HOFer, but if you used the word great to describe and Arlett and Willie Mays then the word has 2 different meanings.

  73. Regardless of the HOF and their eligibility rules, you really can't get a true sense of a player's entire career unless you look at his statistics from the minor leagues also. I agree with Mark R. If a player plays a long time in the minors, people should at least look at what he did. Again, I'm not talking about the HOF. But how can you not think that Lefty O'Doul's 2000 managing wins in the minors are a significant accomplishment? How can you not think that Buzz Arlett's umpteen homers in the PCL are a significant accomplishment? The major leagues are only the tip of the iceberg. If we don't celebrate all of baseball, then we lose the richness that is the fullness of baseball at all levels from the sandlots to the bigs.

  74. @71, I know, but if there are more "great" non-HOFers around then there must be just as many players not in the HOF with the same standards as those guys.

  75. @73

    The HOF is also the tip of the iceberg, and should still be viewed as such.

  76. David in Toledo Says:

    Context, people. John Olerud is credited with 305 career win shares, Hank Greenberg with 265.

    But to compare the two fairly, we have to take away Olerud's age 30-33 seasons (lowering all his averages and removing 1000 xob, 232 ebh, etc.) and send him to World War II for more than 4 years. (Missing that time in the service, Olerud's career win shares drop to somewhere below 209. Adding a very reasonable 120 for WWII, Greenberg jumps to 385.)

  77. @73, where does it end, do I get to be in the HOF for being an all-area high school baseball player? The major leagues needs to be the standard where you must show you can dominate and other factors like minor league time should only be taken into consideration in extreme cases like Lefty Grove

  78. Manny Parra threw a perfect game in the minors, should he be included in the same group as Halladay, Braden..etc?

  79. @77 "Do I get to be in the HOF for being an all-area high school baseball player?"

    In Japan, actually you very well might

  80. I never said that the best 20 career minor leaguers were as good as the upper eschelon of major league superstars. You are putting words in my mouth. The minor leaguer stars were great in their own way and in my opinion should be in the HOF. I never said that they were greater than the guys already in the HOF. I just said that they deserve to be there also. The minor leagues play real baseball. If a guy plays outstandingly and helps his team win over a long period of time, then he could be considered great. Of course it matters what league they were in, and you can discount the minor league stats at a certain rate. But to ignore them entirely as if they didn't happen, as if those guys didn't play real baseball, well that's just foolish.
    Sadaharu Oh could have hit Sandy Koufax. In exhibition games against major leaguers he did very well. At least one statistician estimates that if he had started his career in the U.S. majors, he would have hit over 550 homers, drawn over 1500 walks and batted .280. Those are HOF type numbers similar to Willie McCovey, Eddie Murray, etc.

  81. I played real baseball in high school with leadoffs and balks and everything too. To ignore my stats as if I didnt play real baseball is just foolish. In fact, I had a higher career BA than Ty Cobb, and the I am long overdue for enshrinement.

  82. I don't think you guys realize just how small the skill gap is between AAA and the majors. If you didn't know which was which and you were just watching a live game out of context I doubt you would be able to tell which is which. But you could easily tell the difference between a high school game and a professional game. Once you get to the pros the differences from level to level are hardly perceptible with the naked eye. The minor leaguers do play a high brand of baseball. There is no comparison between a high-school all-star and a minor leaguer who played 2500 games and got over 3000 hits. Yet there should be a comparison between a minor league star and a solid major league player.

  83. @ Topper

    Stop being absurd. How many games did you play in high school? Maybe 100? That's not a real career. The minor leaguers were full-time ballplayers for over 20 years in many cases. Their seasons were as long and sometimes longer than the majors. In some cases they could make more money in the PCL than the majors and chose to stay in the minors.

  84. @82, this is rediculous, the pitching is the difference. There is no good pitching in AAA because they are in the majors instead. It is sometimes more impressive to hit well in A or AA ball which is more full of young unpolished stud pitchers than the 30 year old major league rejects pitching in AAA.

  85. @83, you may have a few examples from the PCL, but in general a career journeyman major leaguer in far better than any career minor leaguer. Should Wes Helms be in the hall of fame because if he would have played 20 seasons in AAA he would probably have the all time HR record? No, neither should the Buzz Arlett.

  86. @54 -- I know my comparison of Olerud to Greenberg was provocative. But did you care to make the case for Hank, or do you not feel obliged to support whatever is obvious to you?

    As I noted, Greenberg was a truly great hitter. However, his career is very short by HOF standards, and not only because of his WWII service; he missed virtually all of 1936 with injury, and he retired at 36. His totals of Games, PAs, ABs, Hits and Runs are low for a HOFer, and his HRs & RBI are low for a slugger. And I don't think anyone is going to claim that he had defensive value.

    Greenberg played almost his whole career in a high-run environment, both in league and park terms. During Hank's 1934-40 prime, Detroit averaged 5.9 RPG; Olerud's teams averaged 4.7 RPG in his first 10 full years. Greenberg's career OPS was 209 points higher at home (1.121) than on the road (.912); Olerud's road BA and OBP are significantly better than Hank's. Greenberg's .313 career BA is 27 points above the park-adjusted league average; Olerud's BA is 28 points above league. In OBP, Greenberg is 51 pts. above league, Olerud 61 pts. Greenberg does have a huge edge in slugging.

    The difference in their peak value is less than one might think. Greenberg's best 3 seasons in WAR value were 8.3, 7.8 and 7.1, for an average of 7.7; Olerud's top 3 were 8.2, 8.1, and 5.3, an average of 7.2.

    On reflection, I should have given Greenberg more credit for time lost to the service, and so I would no longer make the argument that Olerud was as Hall-worthy. But strictly on the basis of their actual stats, I think their value was comparable.

  87. Charles Saeger Says:

    Leaving aside the relative skill levels -- I think we all know that Olerud and Brown were better players than Martínez -- I can't see anything that would lead one to conclude that anyone thought Martínez had a better career than Olerud, or that anyone thought he was a better player. They're almost even in MVP shares: 0.59 for Olerud (best showing 3rd), 0.68 for Martínez (best showing 2nd). Both were on two All Star Teams. Olerud won three Gold Gloves; Martínez won one Silver Slugger. Martínez has four World Series rings; Olerud has two. We're not talking any real difference between them in the non-statistical categories. So why pick Martínez as a "top" candidate and Olerud, who has much better stats, as "fringe"?

  88. Sorry -- My previous post was in reply to #53, not 54.

  89. @87

    Martinez got *cough* yanked *cough* over to a certain team :-(

  90. #66 - David in Toledo.

    Many thanks for posting the win shares totals of so many pitchers. I love WS, but my problem with it is that it can be difficult to find as it is a (I think) a proprietary Bill James' formula. Any formula that is hard to find, or is subject to different results due to arbitrary calculations is subject to failure and dispute. For that reason, I have my doubts about dWAR. I do like Runs Created and OPS+

  91. Buzz Arlett was a hell of a lot better than Wes Helms. Arlett hit .313 with 18 homers in his one major league season. Arlett was a true superstar of the game. And it is certainly not true that all the good pitchers are in the majors. Talent is and always has been more abundant than the number of roster spots in the majors. So many of the AAA guys really are good players who just didn't get put on a major league roster for reasons beyond their control. A good AAA pitcher would be at least a fair pitcher in the majors. And any AAA pitcher would blow away a high school team. Buzz Arlett did what he did and he was great.

  92. Also, your contention that it would be harder to hit in A or AA than in AAA is totally ridiculous. The AAA pitchers are better than the lower levels regardless of the presence of a few "young studs" at the lower levels. If you look at a player moving up through the minors, his batting average generally declines a little bit every time he moves up a level. AAA is a high level of baseball and the career minor leaguers who played a long time in AAA were strong ballplayers.

  93. @62, Johnny T -- I just have no idea how to compare careers centered in the 1870s-1880s to modern players, so I leave the likes of Cap Anson, Dan Brouthers and Roger Connor out of my discussions. I don't mean to imply that they weren't fantastic, HOF-worthy players. (Though it wouldn't pain me to see Anson kicked out on the morals clause, given his role in establishing the color barrier.)

  94. Johnny @ #70.

    Touche'.

  95. You are picking and choosing too much with Olerud and Greenberg, its not even close. You cant just brush off Greenbergs huge edge in slugging like its a minor point, its the main point of hitting. Greenberg = 158 OPS+, Olerud = 128 OPS+. That alone is enough to prove without a doubt they are not even in the same class. Greenberg missed parts of 5 seasons for war service, easily costing him 500 HRs. He accumulated 56.8 WAR in 6096 PA. Olerud coincidentally has the exact same 56.8 WAR, but in 9063 PA. Olerud barely even had a peak, his best 2 seasons were 5 years apart with seasons of 1.2 and 1.9 in between. Greenberg had one of the greatest peaks of all-time, from 1935-1940 not counting the 1936 season he missed with a broken wrist his OPS+ totals were: 170, 172, 169, 156, 171. He then missed 5 seasons in his prime (ages 30-34) and led the league in HR and RBI with a 162 OPS+ in his first full season after the war.

  96. Plus, many major leaguers didn't have super outstanding stats in the minors. Many of them were just pretty good players who moved up through the system until a roster spot opened up in the majors. An average major leaguer would not necessarily be a minor league superstar. A few might. But the minor league superstars who had long longevity had a transcendant greatness. A lot of players give up and retire if they don't get to the majors by age 28. But the minor league superstars loved the game so much that they kept playing their hardest even though they knew they were at a lower level and would never get the recognition or salary of the major league guys.

  97. Anyone who has made a few all star games would dominate in the minors. Im sure Richie Sexson could hit 400 HRs in 8000 ABs in AAA.

  98. First of all, its not true that Richie Sexson would have necessarily hit 400 homers in the minors. He retired when he was only 34 years old. And if he had never made it to the majors he would have been making 30,000 a year in the minors and probably would have quit out of frustration when he was only 28. Thus it is unlikely that he would have hit 400 homers. How long would he have tolerated those bumpy bus rides? How long would he have wanted to play untelevised games in small parks for not much money? Buzz Arlett DID hit over 400 homers. Don't you see? It is irrelevant that some other players could have done it. Buzz Arlett did do it. His greatness isn't only in the fact that he had an incredible minor league record, it is also that he perservered that long in the minors. That's what you don't seem to get. Buzz Arlett had the will, the desire, and the sheer love for the game to keep playing greatly at a level that people like you deem as lesser and unimportant.

  99. Comparing Buzz Arlett playing in the minors in the 20's and 30's to Richie Sexson playing in the minors in the 90's and 2000's is also irrelevant because it was possible to still get paid decent money on a minor league team then, which is not the case now.

    I wonder how many players actually stayed in the minors out of monetary reasons, rather than "sheer love for the game" back in those days.

  100. I have a great desire to play baseball and would gladly sit on bus rides in the minros for 20 seasons, so what? You are giving players credit for having a desire to play baseball? In that case Tim Kirkjian is the greatest baseball player of all-time. It is NOT irrelevant that some other players could have duplicated something, it is very important. Are you saying since Babe Ruth never played 20 seasons in the PCL there is no way we could ever know if he would have been able to equal Arlett's accomplishments in the PCL????

    Richie Sexson hit 306 HRs IN THE MAJORS in <5000 ABs, Arlett hit 432 HRs in 8000 ABs in PCL, so yes Sexson could have hit 432 HRs in the same league as Arlett even if he retired at age 34.

  101. Actually Richie Sexson did hit over 400 homers, but most were in the major leagues. He hit 306 in the majors and 105 in the minors, so that's 411. But being in the majors helped his career stats, not hurt them. Like I said, if he hadn't been getting the big bucks in the majors there would have been less incentive to continue.
    Interestingly, Sexson had an OPS of .818 in the minors and .851 in the majors. Sexson actually hit better in the majors, which proves my contention that the competition level in the minors is closer to the majors than you think.
    Buzz Arlett hit .341 in the minor leagues. Arlett was better than Sexson hands down even when you adjust for the levels of competition. Arlett was a great all-around player who had a high AVG in addition to his homers, had a good arm in the outfield and won at least 90 games as a pitcher. Sexson was a below average fielder with a mediocre OBP. And Sexson's minor league stats are far worse than Arlett's minor league stats. So, no, Sexson was not the equivalent of a minor league superstar and you can't denigrate Arlett.

  102. You are putting forth another absurd argument. Buzz Arlett had great talent and great desire. A player has to have both. You are just massively underestimating the talent of the great career minor league players. When Buzz Arlett got a chance at the majors, he performed well. He batted .313 in the MAJOR leagues. That is an indication of his basic level of talent. Don't go telling me about Tim Kirkjian because that's just an absurd straw man fallacy.

  103. @101 "Interestingly, Sexson had an OPS of .818 in the minors and .851 in the majors. Sexson actually hit better in the majors, which proves my contention that the competition level in the minors is closer to the majors than you think."

    Actually, without adjusting for league offensive level, it "proves" nothing.

  104. "Interestingly, Sexson had an OPS of .818 in the minors and .851 in the majors. Sexson actually hit better in the *minors*, which proves my contention that the competition level in the minors is closer to the majors than you think."

    Well you are obviously not a lawyer, so this 1 case of 1 player having .033 more OPS proves your entire point.

    Have you considered that when Sexson finally became a major league ready hitter, in 1998 at age 23 when he went .297/.386/.544 with 27 HR in 89 games, he went to the majors?! If he would have stayed in the minors he would have put up far better numbers than he did in the majors. He certainly would have hit 400+ minor league HRs if he stayed until he was 34 considering he accomplished that anyways playing in the major from ages 24-33.

  105. Sure there are a lot of other players who could have duplicated the number of home runs of Arlett. But Buzz Arlett was a winning ballplayer all-around and his statistics show that even when you adjust them for major league equivalency with the Bill James MLE formula.

  106. So Sexson actually did hit 411 homers and maybe would have hit 450 or more in the minors, but so what? I already said that Buzz Arlett was a better all-around ballplayer because of his high average, better defense, record as pitcher, etc.

  107. My point is that hitting 400 HR in 8000 ABs (not PAs) in the minors is not impressive and many major leaguers could have done it if they got that many minor league ABs. You cannot give someone credit and declare they are HOF worthy just because they got the ABs. The only reason Arlett got all those minor league ABs and Richie Sexson didnt does not mean it is some accomplishment, obvioulsy Sexson was good enough of a player to play in the minors until he was 34 if he wanted to. You need to prove you were good enough to dominate in the majors to deserve a chacne for the HOF instead of do something that 90% of major leaguers do in their early 20s before they are promoted; dominate in the minors.

  108. Maybe he had a high average and had a good pitching record BECAUSE HE PLAYED IN THE MINORS. 1 season hitting .318 in the majors in the highest offensive era EVER and in your prime does not mean you were just as good as other major HOFers.

  109. Buzz Arlett did dominate in the majors. He batted .313/.387/.538. He had an OPS+ of 138 at the age of 32, his lone ML season. He was good enough for the majors but the Phillies management was too stupid to keep him. If there had been 30 major league teams then instead of 16, he probably would have gotten a shot at the bigs in his early 20's and stayed there for 18 years, hitting his 450 homers in the majors instead.

  110. OPS+ adjusts for league, era, and ballpark by the way so your comment about playing in a high offense era is irrelevant. Buzz Arlett's 138 OPS+ was dominant and he is HOF worthy.

  111. Now you are really losing all credibility, posting a 138 OPS+ in 469 PAs IN YOUR PRIME now counts as "dominating" in the major leagues....and is HOF worthy????!!!!!!????

  112. Age 32 is not prime, age 27 is prime. And I didn't say he is HOF worthy just because of that one season, but because of his entire career. However, that season does show that he was a high performer, and when you couple that with his minor league record you can see that he is a legitimately great player.

  113. I am just stating facts. My credibility is very high. Anyone who can deny the greatness of Buzz Arlett after looking at his record has no credibility.

  114. I think the general point Mark R is trying to make is that the PCL was a very strong and independent league in the 1920s and 1930s. Air travel was not commonplace yet so there was a significant geographical barrier. Talent did not rise to the majors as efficiently as it does in today's game. Many major leaguers spent more years in the PCL than they ever would today. Bob Johnson, Earl Averill, Paul Waner, even Joe Dimaggio had to spend an extra year with the San Francisco as part of the deal the Yankees made with the Seals.

    None of that says that Buzz Arlett was a HOF-er. There's just too much extrapolation there for my taste, but he's certainly a more interesting "what could have been" type of story than a AAAA player from today.

  115. Morten Jonsson Says:

    If Richie Sexson had legs like Betty Grable, he would have been every GI's favorite pinup. And if Buzz Arlett had written "The Star-Spangled Banner," it wouldn't be so hard to sing. I think everyone can agree on that. Whether that means one or the other should be in the Hall of Fame, who can say? But I'm glad we have the freedom to disagree about these things.

  116. If Buzz chose to stay in the minors, then he can stay in the Minor League Hall of Fame.

    I find it hard to believe 16 teams would pass on a guy that could hit 450+ HR in the major leagues.

  117. Even though the PCL at that time was a strong league, anyone who thinks you can just say any stats accumulated in that league would just translate to the majors with no adjustment has low credibility. Starting in 1924 Arlett recorded:
    1924: 193 G, 33 HR = 26 HR/156G
    1925: 190 G, 25 HR = 20 HR/156G
    1926: 194 G, 35 HR = 28 HR/156G
    1927: 187 G, 30 HR = 25 HR/156G
    1928: 160 G, 25 HR = 24 HR/156G
    1929: 200 G, 39 HR = 30 HR/156G
    1930: 176 G, 31 HR = 27 HR/156G

    Those extra games cost him ~40 HRs assuming he played every single game of the season which is not true since he became fat by the time he was on the Phillies also assuming there was no difference between PCL pitching and ML pitching which is wrong also. Honestly, the more his stats are adjusted towards an ML player the more he starts to look like Paul Konerko.

  118. @113 "My credibility is very high."

    Just ask Mark, he'll tell you ;-)

  119. A little context on Buzz Arlett's minor-league stats might be helpful:

    -- In 1923, his first full year as a hitter, Arlett batted .330, which ranked 26th among PCL hitters with at least 300 ABs (a standard I'll use throughout this post) and 3rd on the Oakland Oaks. He was 8th in SLG and 35th in Total Bases.

    -- In 1924, Arlett was 23rd in BA, 4th in SLG (.606) and 4th with 423 Total Bases. (Remember, we're talking about a 200-game PCL season.)

    -- In 1925, Arlett's .344 BA was 7th, his .555 SLG 8th, his 394 TB 9th.

    -- In 1926, Arlett was 2nd in BA, 1st in SLG and TB.

    -- In 1927, he was 9th in BA, 3rd in SLG, 4th in TB.

    -- In 1928, he was 5th in BA and SLG, 10th in TB. (Four SF Seals players sat atop the league with at least 381 TB, led by Smead Jolley's 516.)

    -- In 1929, he was 7th in BA, 3rd in SLG and 5th in TB. (Ike Boone was tops with 553 TB.)

    -- In 1930, he was 7th in BA, 2nd in SLG, 7th in TB.

    -- In 1932 (after his one season in MLB), Arlett was with Baltimore in the International League. He ranked 8th in BA, 1st in SLG (by over 50 points) and 1st in TB.

    -- In 1933, he was 3rd in BA, 2nd in SLG and TB. Teammate Moose Solters beat him in all 3 categories; Solters (who was 7 years younger) moved up to MLB the next year and played 9 seasons, never returning to the minors.

    -- In 1934, Arlett played mostly with Minnesota in the American Association, ranking 21st in BA, 1st in SLG and 9th in TB. Teammate Joe Hauser, a former MLB star, had a higher BA and SLG, but just 287 ABs. (Hauser, FWIW, has as good a claim to the HOF as Arlett.)

    -- In 1935, Arlett ranked 3rd in BA and SLG, 15th in TB. Teammate Johnny Gill (another big minor-league star) topped Arlett in all 3 categories -- the 3rd teammate in 3 years to best Arlett. This was Arlett's last full year.

    Summary: In 12 full seasons in the minors, Arlett never led his league in batting. He won 3 slugging titles and twice led the league in Total Bases. He also had 3 good years as a pitcher before converting.

    I'm sure Buzz Arlett had one of the greatest minor-league batting careers ever. I'm sure he could have had a good MLB hitting career. In his only year in the bigs, Arlett had a 138 OPS+ and was the 2nd best hitter on his team. On the other hand, he had a bad defensive reputation; the Phillies -- who finished 6th in an 8-team league -- waived him after that one year, and no other big-league team signed him.

  120. @114, I actually dont think he is trying to make that point since he never did, his main point is just that Arlett was "great" in the minors so that means he should be in the Hall of Fame.

  121. @95, Topper -- How did I brush off Greenberg's huge edge in slugging? I stated that he had a huge edge in slugging; I didn't make light of it. I did, however, point out that Greenberg's offensive numbers got a big boost from his place & time.

    As to your claim that slugging is "the main point of hitting" -- How did you arrive at that conclusion? In these circles, it's pretty well accepted that not making outs is the main point of hitting.

  122. Clearly Buzz Arlett belongs in the PCL HOF and any other minor league HOF.

    However, until some change is made in the rules/qualifications of the National Baseball HOF, he clearly does not belong.

    Can't we just end this discussion now?

  123. @121

    I always thought helping to create runs (however) was the main point of hitting?

  124. A bunch of shameless drivel, that article is. Tino couldn't sniff the Hall of Fame if he was the dog next door to it.

    My votes would go to Alomar, Bagwell, Blyleven, Larkin, EdMart, Crime Dog, Palmeiro (denying a 3000-hit clubber doesn't seem right, even with the roids), Raines, and Walker. Brown and Olerud are both maybes. I don't have a good enough picture of Parker, Trammell and the other 80s stars (I was a 90s kid) to make a decision on them.

    One thing that Hall voters will have to address sooner or later is the general depression of many counting stats among most recent candidates. There is, for instance, a huge gap from the 300-winners of recent (Rocket, Johnson, etc.) to Pedro Martinez' 219, event though Pedro was arguably better than both. Few Hallworthy players these days really got regular playing time until age 21 or so, which costs a few years' worth of Ks, homers, etc. The whole notion of counting stats, of course, will probably have to be changed, but no doubt won't for a while.

  125. Mark R.,

    I know it seems like we are singling you out today, but in all seriousness I do want to thank you for starting this Buzz Arlett discussion. You have proven that you never know where these threads will take us.

    I love this site.

  126. Buzz Arlett had 1183 Extra Base hits in the majors and minors, and 108 wins as a pitcher. Few have ever matched a record like that. His record was great and it doesn't matter how many others "would have" done it if they had gotten the same circumstances.
    Think about this. The absolute level of athletic talent has been rising steadily. In absolute terms, a below-average major league player from 2010 is probably more athletic than a major league superstar from 1890. If B.J. Surhoff had been a rookie in 1885 instead of 1985, his superior athletic skill might have made him dominate like Cap Anson.
    Think about it: was Frank White more athletic than Bid McPhee? Probably. Was Otis Nixon faster than Billy Hamilton? Probably. The gap in talent between the major leagues of 2010 and the majors of 1910 is probably much bigger than the gap between the majors and AAA ever was in any given year. Yet we still elect HOFers from bygone days based on their records in the time, place, and league in which they played.

  127. @126,

    I think I agree with every word you said, I am just trying to find the point.

    I don't think you are surprising anyone with the comments about levels of athetic abilities rising over time.

  128. @127

    He's just proving that, like Buzz Arlett and the desire and sheer love of the game to play all that time in the minors, he has the desire to make us agree with him.

  129. @126 "Think about this. The absolute level of athletic talent has been rising steadily."

    The average level of athletic talent has been rising in general. So Buzz dominated a weaker league.

  130. In addition to my post, #125, I'd like to point out that the HOF has staggering inconsistency with regards to the "character" clause. That will be the determining factor in whether users like Palmeiro and McGwire make it above all else; how the character factors in. Palmeiro lied to, and McGwire balked in the face of, Congress; Ty Cobb beat up a crippled fan and was a brown streak in regards to personality. Pete Rose bet on games; Cap Anson helped establish the baseball color line.

    What I just wrote above is probably nothing new, but my point stands. I think Palmeiro should make it, but not McGwire.

  131. Olerud was always one of my favorites, though I don't think he will make the Hall. Not that this is a HOF argument, but one of my favorite memories of Olerud came toward the end of the 1998 season. Fellow Mets fans may remember it as the week he didn't make an out.

    Sep. 15:
    (game 2 of doubleheader in Astrodome, enters game in the 5th inning)
    - 3-run homer off Mike Magnante (lefty)
    - Sac Fly off Doug Henry in extra innings

    Sep 16:
    - Single off Mike Hampton (lefty)
    - Single off Mike Hampton (lefty)
    - Single off Mike Hampton (lefty)
    - Groundout off Mike Hampton (lefty)
    - Single off Billy Wagner (lefty)

    Sep 17:
    off day to return to Shea for a three game set with Florida.

    Sep 18:
    - Single off Livan Hernandez
    - Home run off Livan Hernandez
    - Single off Livan Hernandez
    - Walk off Livan Hernandez
    - Walk off Vic Darensbourg (lefty)

    Sep 19:
    - Single off Jesus Sanchez (lefty)
    - Single off Jesus Sanchez (lefty)
    - Single off Jesus Sanchez (lefty)
    - Walk off Jesus Sanchez (lefty)

    Sep 20:
    - Walk off Brain Meadows
    - Home run off Brian Meadows
    - Double off Brian Meadows
    - Walk off Antonio Alfonseca

    Sep 21:
    off day

    Sep 22:
    - Walk off Mike Thurman
    - Finally, a groundout ends the streak.

    That week, Olerud reached base fifteen times in a row. Six of the first ten PA were against lefties. None of the walks were intentional. None of them came in a hitters park.

    I believe the record for consecutive plate appearances reaching base was 17. So Olerud came up just a bit short. Of course, prior to the final out before the streak began, he had three straight singles.

    All in all, from that second game of the doubleheader on Sep 15 through that first plate appearance on Sep 22, he had 21 PA, and reached base 19 times: 9 singles, a double, 3 homers, 6 walks, a sac fly and a groundout. The old .929/.905/1.357 line.

    I know it's just one week in a long and great career, but it was a fun week. Every day you waited for the streak to end, for him to finally make an out, but he just kept getting on base. I know it's a game where everyone goes through hot streaks and cold stretches. Every good and great player has periods where it seems like you can't get them out. But even great players go their whole career without approaching a time when they reach base 18 out of 19 times and 15 in a row. It was awesome.

  132. @131

    The groundout was an out

    an out

  133. Morten Jonsson Says:

    Don't forget that Olerud was a pitcher in college, and a good one, too. If the Blue Jays had let him pitch as well as hit, and if he had played as long as Jamie Moyer (meaning he's still got six years to go), and if he had legs like Betty Grable, I don't think we'd even be having this discussion.

  134. Mark R -- Since you seem to know a lot about Buzz Arlett -- at least, you're the biggest Arlett fan I've ever heard from -- could you please address the following questions?

    -- Why did he play just 1 year in the majors?

    -- Is that lone year in the majors crucial to your HOF support?

    -- If Arlett had played 10-15 years in the majors, what do you think he would have done? What HOF player do you see him being most similar to?

    -- Can you provide any example in another major American sport of a player being inducted into the Hall of Fame despite spending 95% of his career outside the game's top level, presumably by choice?

    P.S. Wiki Warning: The Wikipedia article on Arlett states that "his lackluster fielding led the Phillies to use him as a pinch-hitter for much of the season." The pinch-hitting part of that statement is baloney; Arlett started 105 games for 451 PAs, while just 18 PAs came as a substitute.

  135. And I thought Casey McGehee going 9-9 this season was pretty exciting.

  136. Jeff, I have no idea what your point is.

    If you're referring to the groundout against Hampton, yes. Read the post and do some counting. The streak of 15 in a row started after that groundout. He still had a homer, sac fly and three singles before that groundout.

  137. Not that Bill James should settle the Buzz Arlett brouhaha, but here's part of what he wrote about making a subjective adjustment for "undocumented portions of a player's career" in his Historical Baseball Abstract:

    "I make adjustments for any player who is clearly a major league player, but who is prevented from playing in the major leagues by forces beyond his control." (emphasis in original)

    Of the "five types of gaps in playing careers" for which James gives compensatory credit in his ratings, the only one that might possibly apply to Buzz Arlett is:
    "3. Seasons in which a major league star was trapped in the minor leagues by factors beyond his control."

    Was Arlett "trapped" in the minor leagues? Or did he just prefer playing there? Maybe he made more money in the minors. Maybe he liked the life in Oakland and Minneapolis. Maybe he'd rather be a big fish in a smaller pond. Whatever his reasons, if Arlett had the opportunity to play in the majors but chose not to (other than 1931), then no amount of minor-league stardom could ever persuade me that he belongs in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

  138. The classic example of Bill James' #3 is Lefty Grove

  139. @134

    There's a relatively thorough Buzz Arlett thread at the Hall of Merit here:

    http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/hall_of_merit/discussion/buzz_arlett

    He never got much support there either, but it was fun to discuss him and come up with MLE's for him. He is perhaps the most interesting of the "career minor leaguers".

  140. While certainly a better player than Martinez, Olerud ranks 7th in WAR amoung 1B's who could be considered contemporaries (Bagwell, Thomas, Thome, Palmeiro, McGwire and Helton all rank above him). Even if you throw out the two likely PED users, I think the jury is still out on Thome (probably in) and I doubt Helton gets a sniff.

    In looking at Olerud's OPS+, I found this telling. There are 4 other 1B with the same career number - Hernandez, Hrbek, Salmon and Mourneau. The first 3 aren't getting in and to early to tell on the 4th. At 129 we have Murray and Yaz (primarily a LFer, I know). However, both in longer careers. Through 17 seasons, they were both +135. At 127 we find Mattingly, Don Mincher and Alvin Davis (ah, what might have been!).

  141. David in Toledo Says:

    I love this site. Before today, I did not know the difference between Buzz Arlett and Buzz Lightyear.

  142. @133:

    Olerud had a brain aneurysm in college and wasn't an effective pitcher the next year (or hitter, actually). There's a chance he was still recovering and could've gotten it back, but he never got the opportunity.

  143. I don't think Buzz deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, but his story and how his shot at the majors was delayed, is an interesting one. As a youngster he was a spitballer who didn't get grandfathered in when they outlawed the pitch. He hurt his arm so he gave up pitching and switched from being a right-handed to a left-handed batter. Then there was the times an umpire hauled off and wacked poor Buzz with his mask, breaking his skull.

    http://bioproj.sabr.org/bioproj.cfm?a=v&v=l&pid=337&bid=1043

  144. Can anyone answer this:

    How many 1st basemen with lifetime batting averages >.300, more than 2000 hits, more than 200 HRs, more than 600 xBHs, and more than 1000 RBIs are NOT in the HOF?

    Now add 9 Gold Gloves and an MVP, and I give you Don Mattingly, Hall of Famer.

  145. Sean Forman Says:

    How many 1st basemen with lifetime batting averages >.300, more than 2000 hits, more than 200 HRs, more than 600 xBHs, and more than 1000 RBIs are NOT in the HOF?

    Well Todd Helton and Will Clark did it and they both have much higher OBP and SLG's than Mattingly. Plus about a full season more of games.

  146. @141

    Buzz Arlett is the one that said, "To infinity in the minor leagues, but not much beyond!"

  147. @140, LJF --
    I assume you meant Tim Salmon. But he was a RF; he never played a game at 1B. The other 1Bs you mentioned with 128 OPS+, Hrbek and Morneau, are so far short of Olerud on career length, they're not even in the same picture:
    -- Hrbek had 7137 PAs and a career WAR of 35.3.
    -- Morneau has 3949 PAs and a career WAR of 21.1.
    -- Olerud had 9063 PAs and a career WAR of 56.8.

    The same is true of Mattingly, Mincher and Alvin Davis. Donnie Baseball leads that group with 7721 PAs and 39.8 WAR.

    Olerud tops Mattingly no matter how you slice it -- career value, peak value, offense, defense. Mattingly never had a season WAR over 6.9 or an OPS+ over 161. Olerud topped both those figures twice, with 2 seasons over 8 WAR.

  148. fourfriends1679 Says:

    In what universe is olerud better than rice?! 21.2 war vs. 41.5. Not even close. Rice is twice olerud.

  149. fourfriends1679 Says:

    Sorry. I,m going to have to eat those words. I misread olerud,s totals. He was a lot better than i thought. I still like rice though.

  150. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Olerud tops Mattingly no matter how you slice it -- career value, peak value, offense, defense.

    I will challenge this. Certainly I didn't see Olerud enough to have a strong opinion about his defense, and I know his reputation was good, but Mattingly was really a superb defender. Keith Hernandez's supporters will say that he could dominate a game defensively, so I won't put Mattingly in that class, but he was topnotch. I'm not sure what all the numbers say, but I think they miss more of first base defense than other positions (excepting catcher).

    Secondly, I don't think Olerud was ever the all-around player Mattingly was during his 1984-86 peak. His OPS+ and WAR may be higher, but note that Olerud's two huge seasons came during expansion years. Mattingly's came in an era when, for whatever reasons (quality of competition?), dominant seasons were much harder to come by.

  151. Olerud was a great player and has some pretty good stats. His post season stats are also really good. Very dependable defender.

    He was great in the community and well respected by other players.

    Is that enough to enter the HOF? Not this year.

  152. My bad on Salmon. For some reason he and Wally Joyner are interchangeable in my feeble mind.

    I never meant to imply that people like Alvin Davis and Don Mincher had careers the equal of Oleruds. I followed him from his time at WSU (there was a lot of press in this part of the world about his ability to pitch and hit, and then his physical comeback after the anuerysm) and always liked him as a player. My point is that he's like a lot of players in BB history - a good player who had a fairly long career with one MVP type season (where he finished 3rd in the vote). And I'll agree with Twisto on his Mattingly comment. At his peak Mattingly was considered the best offensive player in the game. From 84-88 his OPS+ was 150. A quick look tells me Olerud's peak 5 year was 136+. I might take Olerud for the career. but Mattingly for the peak.

  153. @147:

    You had to say Oledud was better than Mattingly, eh? Not only that, you had to say "no matter how you slice it." I think they are pretty comparable, but but you really pushed my button--obviously, the below is fuel by my unrequited fantasy Bro-mance with Mattingly and my irrational love for the NYY--so, you don't need to tell me I'm biased.

    And by the way, how does it help Olerud's HOF argument to say he's better than a player who most people agree is not HOF worthy? (Which saddens me; I always wonder what would have happened if Mattingly had not hurt his back and had a couple more good years).

    It appears to me that the main difference in these guys was that Mattingly (for some reason I don't know) was horrible at getting walks and Olerud was pretty good. (How is it that a guy leading the league in slugging pecentage and batting .352 with 30 HR's, 110 RBI, and 52 doubles and 35 K's only gets walked 53 times?)

    Does this blockquote thing work?

    But if you slice it this way, the edge goes to Donnie Baseball: Mattingly's best 10 consecutive year performance tops Olerud's best 10 consecutive years in almost ever stat category (although to be fair, they are pretty much a dead heat in everything but walks).

    Look at consistency, and the slice goes to Mattingly: Olerud never could put together two seasons in a row with over a 140 OPS+. Mattingly had four in a row. Olerud never put together more than three seasons together with over a 125 OPS+. Mattingly put together six in a row.

    Olerud never had more than two seasons in a row with over 20 home runs and never could put together two 100 RBI seasons. Mattingly had four in a row for each of those.

    Olerud never had more than one 200 hit season in a row; Mattingly had three in a row.

    Olerud never put together two seasons in a row with a slugging average over .500. Mattingly put together 4.

    Olerud had two seasons with over 300 total bases and peaked with 330. Mattingly had five seasons (four of them consecutive) with over 300 TB with peaks of 377 and 388.

    Mattingly's black ink score is 23; Olerud 7. So, if we slice it that way, Mattingly is better.

    Mattingly's grey ink score is 111; Olerud 51. That's another way to slice it.

    HOF Monitor slice goes to Mattingly.

    Batting average and Slugging go to Mattingly (but just barely on the Slugging).

    MVP share, MVP Awards, Silver Sluggers, Gold Gloves, All Star Games: Mattingly has more.

    For two or three years in a row, Mattingly was widely regarded as one of the top four or five players in the American League. I don't think the same can be said of Olerud.

    Like I noted above, I think they are pretty comparable overall, but it looks to me as if Mattingly was more consistent.

    Okay, thanks for listening, I'm not mad anymore.

  154. Well, Blockquotes do work, but I did it wrong. ha ha.

  155. @153
    "but you really pushed my button--obviously, the below is fuel by my unrequited fantasy Bro-mance with Mattingly"

    TMI, dude, way TMI :-O

  156. @150, Johnny Twisto -- Interesting points.

    -- Expansion: It's true that Olerud's 2 biggest seasons came in expansion years. However, in 1993, he didn't actually face either of the expansion teams, both of which were in the other league. And whatever the level of competition was, he was at the top of the food chain, leading the majors with a .473 OBP and doing equally well against winning and losing teams. In 1998, Olerud had 12 total games against the expansion teams and did about the same in those games as he did overall. I grant that expansion tends to create a weaker level of pitching overall, not just on the expansion teams themselves; however, that effect was presumably much less in 1993 and 1998, when MLB increased from 26 to 28 teams and then from 28 to 30, than it was in 1961-62 (16 to 18 to 20) and 1969 (20 to 24).

    -- Peak: Mattingly's 1984-86 (and you could include '87, too) are, indeed, better than any 3- or 4-year stretch for Olerud. I'm just not sure why having all your best years in a row should count for more than if they're spread out. Comparing offensive WAR (and putting off the defensive debate for now), Mattingly racked up 23.9 oWAR in his 4 best years, Olerud 24.2. If you want to go with best 3 years, Olerud still comes out ahead by the same margin, 19.3 to 19.0.

    -- Defense: I'm sure I won't convince any Mattingly fans. Mattingly has the 9 Gold Gloves and the superior reputation; but Olerud has the metrics. I saw a lot of both players during their NY careers. My own impression, FWIW, is that Mattingly had a bit more range and reliability on ground balls, but Olerud was better at receiving throws. But I don't put a lot of stock in my own observations, or anyone's. I do think that Olerud's defense was underrated, especially his ability to corral poor throws. Mets SS Rey Ordonez committed 27 errors in 150 games the year before Olerud arrived. In 3 years with Oley, Ordonez averaged 11 errors per 150 games. In 3 years after Olerud, Ordonez averaged 17 errors per 150 games. Robin Ventura had the best full-season fielding % of his career in the only year he played with Olerud. The dWAR system does see his 3 years with NYM as being his best defensive seasons, but he at least a solid plus defender every year.

  157. @16, Mark R wrote: ...in reality John Olerud should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He beats out Martinez by a mile."
    ---------------

    Why are these two thoughts linked? No one is advocating Martinez for the Hall. I suspect that both Olerud and Martinez will pass off the ballot quickly.

  158. So if Brown is a fringe candidate, then I'm guessing so will Schilling when he comes up?

  159. @16, Mark R -- Okay, I take it back! I clicked on the MLB.com link and now see the problem. A full write-up for the "beloved Tino," meanwhile Olerud gets thrown into the fringe category. That is way off base.

  160. Olerud is like the anti-Joe Carter.

    His stats are great, almost HOF worthy, but to many non-SABR guys (and gals), he is not really seen as up for consideration by "gut feel".

    But then you look at Joe Carter and many non-SABR guys think of him as an HOF possibility because of all those RBI, the huge trade with McGriff and Alomar, the Series clinching HR. But his SABR stats are not very attractive (to put it nicely).

    Olerud's main problem for HOF are that he never seemed to dominate except for those 2 freakish years (.350+ BA). He never drove in A LOT of runs (never had more than 110). There was no "Oh my God here comes that Olerud again - year after year".

    Everyone loves Olerud. His overcoming illness/injury story, wearing the helmet @ 1B, his solid play for a long time. There is no one out there that can say, "Oh I can't stand that John Olerud". That is the part that needs to brought up in any HOF arguments just as much as his stats. He needs something more than the On Base % to get in.

  161. Just to clarify my position a bit on this Mattingly/Olerud debate:

    -- I don't think either one should be, or will be, chosen for the Hall of Fame.

    -- I think Mattingly was a great player before his back problems, and likely would have had a career at least as good as Olerud had he stayed healthy.

    But to those with visceral reactions against the notion that Olerud had a better career, please consider that many circumstances in Mattingly's career tend to make him be perceived as somewhat better than he actually was:

    -- Mattingly excelled in the "old school" stats of batting average and RBIs. But he didn't walk much (average of 41 unintentional walks per 162 games). He never had a season with a .400 OBP,and only twice did he place among the league's top 10 in OBP -- 5th in '86 and 10th in '84.

    -- His HR total owes a lot to Yankee Stadium, where he hit 59% of his career HRs (131 of 222). Per 600 PAs, Mattingly averaged 21 HRs at home, 15 on the road.

    -- His 145 RBI in 1985 was a fluke: Rickey had a .419 OBP and stole 80 bases (and scored 146 runs), presenting copious RBI chances for Mattingly, who actually batted 2nd in 58 games, notching 50 RBI. Mattingly wasn't "clutch" that year; he hit a little worse with men on base and with RISP than he did with the bases empty. But he had 220 PAs with RISP -- 47 more than the AL's #2 RBI man, Eddie Murray.

    -- In becoming the unquestioned fan favorite, Mattingly benefitted from ... how shall I put this delicately ... perceived flaws in the team's other star position players, Dave Winfield and Rickey Henderson.

    -- Mattingly seems to get a lot of credit for "righting the Yankee ship," as if the franchise was floundering before he came along. In reality, the Yanks had just one losing season in the 9 years before Mattingly became a regular in 1983; it just happened to be the year before he got that role. The Yanks were in the WS in '81, and had baseball's best record in '80.

  162. @161 "Mattingly seems to get a lot of credit for "righting the Yankee ship," as if the franchise was floundering before he came along. In reality, the Yanks had just one losing season in the 9 years before Mattingly became a regular in 1983; it just happened to be the year before he got that role. The Yanks were in the WS in '81, and had baseball's best record in '80."

    And let's see, did they flounder after he left? ;-)

  163. First Adjusted Pitching Runs and now Value-Added Park-Adjusted Batting Runs...why not found a Value-added Park-adjusted virtual Hall of Fame. Then you are free to elect Kevin Brown or anyone else you wish. The illusion that all performances can be evaluated in terms of some perfected super-statistic infects every imaginable area of human endeavor, from sports to teaching. After we convert HOF elections to VARP and APR, with a new category for "best left-handed switch-hitting first baseman playing in a windswept ballpark on Monday nights," we can then turn our attention to awarding the Nobel Prize for literature on the basis of some newly determined literary super statistic.

  164. Johnny Twisto Says:

    John Autin, on the expansion issue, as you note I think it's more about the overall dilution of talent, rather than specifically beating up on the new teams. There have always been a lot of extreme performances in expansion years, and I think the two expansions of the '90s is an underrated factor contributing to all the 50+ HR seasons. Anyway, if Olerud, for whatever reasons, was able to take advantage of these conditions more than others, that's to his credit. Still, I don't think we can just flatly compare numbers which purport to adjust for conditions and assume they mean the same thing. In 1998 alone, there were 24 players with an OPS+ of at least 150. From 1984 to 1986, there were a total of 33 such seasons (about half as many), and Mattingly had 3 of the top 7.

  165. @153, Joseph -- To reiterate, I'm not touting Olerud for the HOF.

    Also, to clarify: When I wrote "Olerud tops Mattingly no matter how you slice it," I was referring specifically to the items I enumerated in the rest of that sentece: " -- career value, peak value, offense, defense." On reflection, "no matter how you slice it" was probably too broad of a term for what I meant.

    And now to tackle some of your specific points:

    -- "Mattingly ... was horrible at getting walks and Olerud was pretty good." I would say more like, Mattingly was below-average and Olerud was outstanding at drawing walks, but the real point is: This is a HUGE factor. Per 162 games, Mattingly averaged 41 unintentional walks, Olerud 81.

    -- Consecutive seasons of [whatever]: Yes, Mattingly had his 4 best years in a row, and Olerud didn't. So what? What was the benefit to the Yankees? What was the harm to Olerud's teams from his "inconsistency," given that his "down" years saw OPS+ of 115-140? Would Mattingly have been less great if his best years had been 1985, 1989 and 1993? I'm missing the point here.

    -- You want consistency? Olerud's OPS was over 110 in 13 of his 15 full seasons; his worst years were 94 and 107. Donnie cracked 110 OPS+ 8 times in 13 full seasons; his worst years were 81, 97, 103, 107 and 107.

    -- MVP Awards & MVP Share: So, because the voters expressed their love of RBIs, I'm supposed to agree that Mattingly had a better 1985 than Rickey Henderson? And because the voters failed to grasp the impact of a .473 OBP and instead gave the '93 MVP to Frank Thomas -- even though Olerud played the same position, with much better defense, and had a much higher BA, OBP and OPS, and scored more runs -- I'm supposed to downgrade Olerud? Not a chance. Not all awards are deserved.

    -- Black ink, gray ink, HOF Monitor: Remember, these were Bill James's attempt to predict whom the HOF voters would induct; they have nothing to do with merit. Meanwhile, you didn't mention HOF Standards, which does deal with merit, and in which Olerud leads Mattingly, 39-34.

    -- "Mattingly was widely regarded as one of the top four or five players in the American League." Yes -- RBI men are generally overrated. In retrospect, doesn't that estimation look rather silly, for a first baseman? Look up the top 10 OPS+ figures by 1Bs in the 1980s: Mattingly had #5 and #10. Will Clark had #2 and #6. Fred McGriff had #3 and #7. Mattingly's 2nd- and 3rd-best seasons had OPS+ of 156; Eddie Murray had four straight years at that exact number, 1981-84. So how many 1Bs do you want in your "top four or five players," anyway?

  166. @161 John A,

    Your argument is good except for the last 2 points:

    "-- In becoming the unquestioned fan favorite, Mattingly benefitted from ... how shall I put this delicately ... perceived flaws in the team's other star position players, Dave Winfield and Rickey Henderson."

    PERHAPS this is true for Winfield (if you consider joining a team with many established fan-favoites in place and then laying a total egg in the World Series a "flaw"), but Mattingly was already the "unquestioned fan favorite" before Henderson arrived. Plus I believe Yankee fans (and fans of most teams) gravitate toward home grown players as their favorites (although that may just be me - Munson to Guidry to Mattingly to Jeter [with some overlap, of course]).

    "-- Mattingly seems to get a lot of credit for "righting the Yankee ship," as if the franchise was floundering before he came along. In reality, the Yanks had just one losing season in the 9 years before Mattingly became a regular in 1983; it just happened to be the year before he got that role. The Yanks were in the WS in '81, and had baseball's best record in '80."

    Who believes/gives him credit for this? Don't say Yankee fans because it is not true (they all know about being in the playoffs/WS in 1980-81). You are really reaching with this one.

  167. Johnny Twisto Says:

    P.Mark, why keep score at all? It obviously distracts you from the artistic element of the game. Personally, I don't care if the Yankees win as long as Jeter pulls off his patented jump-throw from the hole.

  168. @Twisto:

    What do you think explains the difference in the higher number of players achieving above average OPS+ in 1998 compared to 1983-1985?

    Does that mean more players also had a below average OPS+? I thought when a stat is normalized, the process takes out the kind of differences we might see when comparing in comparing stats in different years.

    I compared OPS+ under 80 for 1984 and 1998. There were 46 more or less full time players in 1984 with OPS+ under 80 compared to 58 in 1998.

    But I really don't know if that has any meaning at all.

  169. @168,

    To me it just suggests a bigger difference between the top talent and bottom talent (of every day players) in 1998 which you would expect in an expansion year.

  170. I am less and less convinced about Olerud.

    If you take out his two freakisly great years, his career stats makes him look like the first-base version of Brady Anderson, but with one additional good year. Here's his averages without those two years:

    PA 483.471

    AB 406.412

    R 57.882

    H 114.824

    HR 12.824

    RBI 63.412

    BB 66.235

    SO 55.235

    BA 0.286

    OBP 0.380

    SLG 0.434

    OPS 0.813

  171. @166
    "Who believes/gives him credit for this? Don't say Yankee fans because it is not true (they all know about being in the playoffs/WS in 1980-81). You are really reaching with this one."
    ------------------------------
    I don't mean to prolong the Mattingly discussion here, but often what I hear brought up in arguments is how well Mattingly does in "intangibles". That is, how much of a class act he was and how much of a winning attitude he had. All that is great, but his career almost completely coincided with the pennant drought in Yankee history. Not that that was his fault, but doesn't seem fair to give him intangible credit when team success did not occur. That's why I don't like "intangible" discussions in the first place. :-)

  172. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Joseph, I think a large part of it is the quality of competition. The higher the level of play, the harder it is to dominate. (Think about Little League, where some kids will bat .800, and high school, where some will bat .500, and then in MLB, some will bat .350.) So when there is expansion, the quality of play is reduced, at least briefly, so it becomes easier to dominate. An 8-WAR season is extremely valuable, moreso than a 6-WAR season, but when doing cross-era comparisons, it is possible that it was just as difficult to put up a 6-WAR season in Year X as it was to get 8 in Year Y.

    I've also read some research which indicates that regardless of competition levels, it seems easier to put up extreme performances, more standard deviations from the mean, in high-scoring leagues. The '90s were both high-scoring and had two expansions.

    Of course, it's also possible that there are just gluts or droughts of superstar players, and perhaps there just weren't as many historically great talents around in the '80s. One could conjecture on the reasons why this might be. There is no real way to prove it, I guess, since we tend to measure stardom by players' performance against their peers, and we have no way to take 1985 Don Mattingly and see how he would do in 1998.

  173. @170
    Sounds like you just don't *like* Olerud. His two best years were *too good* and therefore need to be discounted? Crazy logic does not help your case. Great seasons are a good thing!

    No one is claiming that Olerud is a HOF-er, we're just a bit annoyed that he wasn't included in the list of primary candidates (and that Tino Martinez was). He's certainly "worthy of discussion".

  174. @165 John A,

    "-- "Mattingly was widely regarded as one of the top four or five players in the American League." Yes -- RBI men are generally overrated. In retrospect, doesn't that estimation look rather silly, for a first baseman? Look up the top 10 OPS+ figures by 1Bs in the 1980s: Mattingly had #5 and #10. Will Clark had #2 and #6. Fred McGriff had #3 and #7. Mattingly's 2nd- and 3rd-best seasons had OPS+ of 156; Eddie Murray had four straight years at that exact number, 1981-84. So how many 1Bs do you want in your "top four or five players," anyway?"

    You go a little off track here from the JT's original point:

    The point was Mattingly from 1984 through 1987 was one of the top 4 or 5 guys in the league (not all of the 1980's). For 1B, it was Murray 81-84, mattingly 84-87, Clark (NL)/McGriff (AL) 87-89 (from your list above). The 1980's was not like now with Pujols where one player is regarded as the best hitter for the whole decade.

  175. @174
    "The 1980's was not like now with Pujols where one player is regarded as the best hitter for the whole decade."

    *cough* Barry Bonds *cough*

  176. @171 DavidRF,

    Your point is true, but it is not really a response to my question. Saying someone has tangibles and saying someone is responsible for turning the franchise around are 2 completely different things.

    And again, no Yankee fan needs to be told that the Yanks were in the WS the year before Mattingly got there and the year after he left. They all know that. Yet Yankee fans still love him. And considering these are fans who supposedly ONLY care about winning Championships, that may be the most telling fact about Mattingly and how he played.

  177. @175 Jeff J,

    Yes you got me on that one. Sorry about that. Man, I forgot about him quickly.

    You should get some rest and eat some soup. That cough of yours sounds bad. Sounds like you have probably had it since Barry was still playing.

  178. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Of course, that was before the fans got spoiled with the expectation of winning. I wonder how a Mattingly-type player would be received now if his career ran concurrent with an extended postseason drought. I feel he would not be as beloved.

  179. Tmckelv @ #160.

    I'll disagree with you on the saber/non-saber opinions of Joe Carter.

    I know of no one, stat supporter or not, who believes Joe Carter to be worthy of even a cursory HOF glance.

    Although as a non-stathead myself, I must admit the saber aversion to counting stats, especially RBI, seems to have found its poster child in Carter.

  180. Mark R. said both "However, in reality John Olerud should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer." and "John Olerud had 420 Value-Added Park-Adjusted Batting Runs above average, according to Tom Ruane's VABR database."

    That leads me to one question: Do you even watch baseball? The first statement is possibly the dumbest thing I've EVER read, not just here, but anywhere, on any subject. And the second...Who cares! In no way, shape or form is John Olerud a Hall-of Famer, much less first ballot. He was a very good player for a decent amount of time, nothing more, nothing less.

  181. @178 JT,

    I guess it wasn't the same level of being spoined but the Yanks had been in the playoffs 76-81 (not 79). I guess someone like Mussina would be comparable (as the playoffs with no WS win became common-place??? replacing the no playoffs during Mattingly's time). And even if I stretch to make that comparison - Mussina was never the most popular player on those teams (like Mattingly was) and I bet he will still get some pretty nice "MOOOOSE" calls when he comes to old-timer's day.

    But 10 years of no playoffs is pretty hard to think about right now, barring a salary cap that would be really "interesting".

    @179 Chuck,
    I guess then I would be the only Joe Carter supporter ("considerer" is a better "word")...as Mark R can already tell you, I have no credibility.

  182. The name of a good "comparable" that comes to mind when I think of Tino Martinez is Moose Skowron. Tino started 959 games at first for the Yanks, Moose 949 games. Skowron won four rings with the Yankees; Tino also won four rings with the Yankees. They were both very skilled and graceful defensive first basemen, who also were solid, but not star, hitters. Both were very personable and popular with fans. Tino's career OBP and SLG were each 12 points higher than Skowron's, but Moose played in a tougher hitting environment, so Skowron's offensive value may actually have been a bit higher than Tino's. But Tino had a longer career. In overall career WAR, they are extremely close: Moose 26.8, Tino 25.7. Skowron I believe never received any votes at all for the Hall of Fame, though I'd have thought he would have gotten a few.

  183. John Olerud and Don Mattingly are the very definitions of very good baseball players who probably shouldn't deserve Hall of Fame consideration. Same with Tino, and the article's right...he's much more of a fringe candidate than Olerud.

    Kevin Brown was a truly dominant pitcher for a 5-year stretch. No one (including me) really thinks of him as a HOFer due in large part to the fact that he clearly used PED's and faded quickly once testing started happening...also he had no Cy Youngs and was considered a mega-bust in his (at the time) record setting deal with the Dodgers.

    If he had won the 1996 and 1998 Cy Young Awards - as he deserved to - I think he would garner more consideration.

  184. Some of these posts are borderline absurd. Let's quickly compare Brown and Blyleven to Jack Morris who is essentially an HOF pariah on these posts. We can do this by asking a simple question:
    "If you polled contemporary players, scouts, executives and writers; thereby getting a more or less unbiased sample, who would they want to take the ball in an important game?"

    You could probably ask the same question about Olerud versus someone like Will Clark. Statistics aren't everything... they are critical, sure, but not everything. I would love to find a magazine, book, fanzine, anything from the late 70s/early 80s devoted to a Bert Blyleven profile supporting a contemporary view of him being even a Top-10 pitcher.

    There is no statistic unfortunately for leadership or the all-under-inclusive intangibles. Maybe Morris didn't pitch to game scores as has been more or less proven, but I find it hard to believe that his contemporary players, managers, executives would have taken Blyleven over Morris to anchor a rotation. I highly doubt Kevin Brown would even be in the discussion.

    One more point about Blyleven: have you ever heard a Hall of Famer recite his statistics as much when making his own HOF argument? Is he making these arguments because he has more faith in the writers enshrining him than in the VC which is made up of his contemporaries?

    Writers are given the initial vote partly because they are closest to all available data and serve as effective arbitrators (access to the player, teammates, management, statistics (if they choose to use them)). The VC serves as somewhat of a safety net as it allows the higher echelon players (HOFers) to essentially over-rule the writers. This system, though flawed in the past through collusion and vote trading, should work and will work if allowed to. So how about letting them decide the fates of Morris, Blyleven, Brown, Olerud and Dennis Lamp?

    Is anyone seriously losing sleep over these guys not being in now?

  185. Some of these posts are borderline absurd. Let's quickly compare Brown and Blyleven to Jack Morris who is essentially an HOF pariah on these posts. We can do this by asking a simple question:
    "If you polled contemporary players, scouts, executives and writers; thereby getting a more or less unbiased sample, who would they want to take the ball in an important game?"

    So you do support Dwight Gooden's candidacy?

  186. Johnny Twisto Says:

    "If you polled contemporary players, scouts, executives and writers; thereby getting a more or less unbiased sample, who would they want to take the ball in an important game?"

    Hardly unbiased, since all anyone talks about with regard to Morris is his 10-inning World Series game, so he now has the reputation of a guy who would pitching 10 innings in as many hypothetical "important" games as you need him for. Even those called after 5 innings for rain.

  187. @184
    I highly doubt Kevin Brown would even be in the discussion.
    -----------------
    Kevin Brown was selected by GM's of several clubs to anchor their pitching staff. He was the regular season ace of the 1997 Marlins and the 1998 Padres who each went to the World Series. Then the Dodgers gave him a $105M to be their ace for seven years (the deal was a bust because he only pitched like an ace in years 1,2 and 5).

    My opinion is that its this mercenary status of his which led to him not having many loyal fans, but there's no doubt that contemporary GM's wanted him on their club and paid handsomely to get him.

  188. Now some of you are talking about Morris and Blyleven. I remember watching these guys pitch.

    Funny thing about Morris is that I remember watching games where he pitched, and the announcers would always said things like, "Many people don't realize it, Tony, but Jack Morris has won more games than any player during this decade."

    Blyleven on the other hand, it seems like he was regarded almost as a poor man's Nolan Ryan--a pitcher who could dominate a game. Got a lot of strikeouts, pitched a lot of games, but often lost as many games as he won. But heck, his WA is higher than Ryan's. (Morris is well below half).

    Morris had 26 games with more than 10 strikeouts; Blyleven 52. That might explain what I remember of the reputations of these guys.

    Before you all jump on my case--I'm just saying what I remember--and maybe I am remembering incorrectly and I am for sure not saying that one is better than the other.

  189. @185: On Gooden
    I definitely think Gooden should have been on the ballot more than one year. Gooden was iconic, but I think his legacy has correctly crystalized into one of immense talent that imploded (whether due to drugs, insecurity, overuse, Mel Stottlemyre screwing with his mechanics). Gooden is best left for where his story is best told: baseball literature. Being an icon is important, should play a part, and has served some well in the past (see Dean, Dizzy). The legacy of Gooden, like maybe Munson and definitely Maris, is better served in history than in it is deserving of a plaque.

    @186
    I think it can be, and is, unbiased. I am not sure that down to his team's last at bat that Bobby Thomson or Kirk Gibson are called on over Don Mattingly, Will Clark or maybe even Bernie Carbo.

    @187
    Here I agree 100% and my argument falls apart in adding Brown to the comparative mix partly due to late 80's collusion. Perhaps Brown should stay on the ballot more than a year so the necessary other pieces of his legacy can come into focus (I think it's safe to say, statistically plenty of arguments have been made). This would include whether those GMs had buyer's remorse; PED impact; etc.

    @188
    I like this post because it showcases the problem of memory. I remember Morris in a similar way to you remembering Blyleven. I'm not sure how many kids pretended to be Blyleven or Morris in a neighborhood wiffle ball game (certainly not nearly as many - probably combined - as Gooden). Memory may seem to be a silly point to bring up, but I believe most would remember Reggie Jackson as a feared slugger even though he never had consecutive 30 homerun seasons.

    These arguments, debates or discussions have tremendous value, but only if there is an admission at some point that not everything is absolute (whether it be stats, memory, media guides, baseball card values in 1984). Everything obviously becomes cloudy when considering the merits of some of the current Hall of Famers (McCarthy, Youngs, Ferrell to name three). So, I my questions here are:

    1. When is it (or even 'Is it') okay to entrust the Veteran's Committee to make this decision? Clearly there are passionate and supported arguments (on both sides), but shouldn't they be the tie breaker?

    2. If you redid the Hall of Fame in your ideal, would you absolutely have to have Morris, Blyleven and Brown enshrined?

  190. "1. When is it (or even 'Is it') okay to entrust the Veteran's Committee to make this decision? Clearly there are passionate and supported arguments (on both sides), but shouldn't they be the tie breaker?"

    I believe the VC has long ago outlived its original intent and usefulness. The VC has been revamped and re-worked five times since 1991, which tells me the Hall itself has no earthly idea of what the hell it's responsibilities are.

    My plan? The BBWAA and the living HOFers get votes, and everyone who played or umpired or managed or GM'd or owned a team a minimum of ten years stays on the ballot for life.

    If Mike Royko in Chicago wants to vote for Ron Santo every stinking year for 35 years, then that should be his right. If someone feels the need to vote for David Segui, so what? It's not like 499 other people will vote for him.

    There would have to be some concessions or special elections, obviously. Like what would have happened if Kirby Puckett had passed before being elected?

    But those are easy fixes.

    The HOF election process shouldn't be so formal and it certainly isn't rocket science.

    Rent a conference room in some fancy hotel, order up a couple hundred bottles of Dom and have at it.

    "2. If you redid the Hall of Fame in your ideal, would you absolutely have to have Morris, Blyleven and Brown enshrined?"

    Absolutely not.

    I can see arguments for both sides on Blyleven and honestly have no problem with him being out.

    The other two don't even deserve mention.

  191. @190, Chuck --

    "There would have to be some concessions or special elections ... what would have happened if Kirby Puckett had passed before being elected?"

    The following doesn't actually apply to Kirby, but anyway....
    Some of the worst Veterans Committee selections happened when the player was thought to be nearing the end. It strikes me as the worst possible time to objectively evaluate a player's career. Sure, it's great to induct them while they can still attend -- as long as they're truly deserving. But since there's no provision for undoing an ill-considered, sentimental choice, and since every player elected affects the standards for future selections, I'm leery of special elections.

  192. Johnny Twisto Says:

    That's why I've never liked waiving the 5-year waiting period when someone dies, though it hasn't backfired yet. Clemente was correctly inducted, Kile correctly was passed over. Munson, who is the type of borderliner I could see garnering a sympathy vote, didn't really come close to induction, which surprises me. So perhaps the voters can control themselves, but I still don't like it.

  193. @166, Tmckelv --

    I concede those two points. I'll admit that I do not have my finger on the pulse of the Yankee fan base.

    Out of curiosity, how would you compare Willie Randolph's standing among Yankee fans with Mattingly's?

  194. Some of the inane comments in this thread are disheartening on so many levels. I don't understand some of the ignorance displayed by so-called baseball fans. Enough with the classifications of "statheads" vs. "non-statheads." Suffice it to say that everyone commenting on threads like this is a huge baseball fan. Well, stats are an important part of baseball and always have been. Even if you consider yourself a "non-stathead," odds are you use stats all the time. Maybe not advanced stats, but stats nonetheless.

    Look, I love watching games on television, going to the ballpark, listening to games on the radio. I'm just the right age where I'm old enough to have had the experience of collecting baseball cards and I had to wait for the Sporting News' special magazine to come out each spring so I could see last season's stats all in one place. I fondly remember falling asleep while listening to the radio so I could hear Bob Murphy and Gary Cohen paint the word picture from the Astrodome or Dodger Stadium or Candlestick. I came home from school to watch afternoon playoff games and I remember when the only stats they'd show you were batting average, homers, and RBI. At the same time, I'm also young enough to have played plenty of fantasy baseball, appreicate this website as the modern, better version of the Baseball Encyclopedia I read as a kid, and as a young adult I'm glad I can watch a random great pitching matchup online through the magic of the internet.

    I love the nuances of the game, the beauty of the game. I was an English major. Believe me, nobody appreciates art more than I do. And numbers - with the exception of baseball stats - generally bore me. I'm not a statistician or a scientist by any strech. But guess what else I appreciate; critical thinking. When it comes to baseball stats, the numbers do not lie. They are simply a record of what happened. It just helps to know how to interpret them and show some ability to think critically. It's fine to have an opinion, it's fine to have your favorites and it's fine to cheer who you want to cheer. It's fine to have a beer and a hot dog, it's fine to appreicate a stolen base, a relay throw that won't show up in the box score, or a big pinch hit, or a dirty uniform. I love all those things. But value is value. We have actual, real, quantifiable ways to determine the value of a baseball player. Advanced stats are great, but most of the time they're not even required. If you have any bit of baseball common sense and a willingness to think critically and delve into even the most basic of stats, it's not very hard to properly assess the value of a player.

    Bert Blyleven had a markedly better career than Jack Morris. Blyleven deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Morris does not. Mike Mussina had a better career than Andy Pettitte. Don Mattingly was a good, but flawed player, who was not particularly great at posting a high OBP relative to his batting average, not an elite slugger for most of his career, and had inflated RBI totals. I understand why every Yankee fan born between 1975 and 1985 is obsessed with him, and I understand why I've had to hear about his greatness my whole life, and I loved the time he swiped popcorn from a kid in the crowd when he ventured over toward the seats for a foul ball, but it doesn't make him a Hall of Famer. Kevin Brown was a great pitcher for many years who is at the very least in the HOF discussion, even if he doesn't pass some dubious "smell test" and was probably a jerk. Joe Carter was a solid power hitter who had a horrible OBP, which significantly hurt his value. He also hit one of the most memorable home runs of all time, which was an unbelievable moment. It does not make him a Hall of Famer. It was still an awesome moment. It's easy to come to these conclusions if you understand baseball. And just because you understand these things doesn't diminish the pure joy of Carter's famous homer, the intensity of Morris' ten inning shutout, or the hilarity of Mattingly stealing popcorn from a nine year old.

    It is insane to me how someone can be a dedicated baseball fan, a fan who watches a hundred games each year, who is passionate enough to seek out websites and blogs like this and comment on them, and somehow still not understand these things. This isn't stuff that requires an advanced math degree. Learning about it doesn't mean you are a nerd in a basement with a spreadsheet who doesn't watch the actual games. It's baseball's version of common sense, which anyone who has followed the game for a few years ought to be able to comprehend. When I was in first grade I could understand that Dave Stewart had a better year than Bob Welch even though Welch won 27 games. And no, I hadn't heard of Bill James or Baseball Prospectus when I was six. When I was in high school and talk radio loudmouths complained that the Mets were too slow on the basepaths and were a "station to station" team, I could understand that they were successful because they had high on-base players like Piazza, Olerud, Alfonzo and Ventura. And as an adult, I can understand why Jeff Francoeur is a terrible offensive player and why Felix Hernandez was the best pitcher in the American League last year.

    It's not as hard as some people make it out to be. The line between "traditional" stats and "advanced" stats are not as pronounced as many people make it seem. All the so-called "advanced" stats do is further clarify what people thought they were clarifying with the "traditional" stats. OBP is simply a more accurate description of what people thought they were referring to when they cited batting average all those years.

    The moralist wants to make everything a black and white issue and denegrate anyone with the slightest stain on their reputation. The simpleton accepts everything at face value. The curmudgeon doesn't want to consider new ideas and approach the game from a different angle. And the critical thinker can appreciate the beauty of the game, keep an open mind, evaluate players properly and understand what they're watching at the same time. I don't know about you, but whether we're talking about baseball, or any other facet of life, I'd rather be the critical thinker.

  195. @194 Sorry, but I couldn't get past "I understand art! I'm an English major!"

  196. John A,

    Randolph's popularity is pretty high (rightfully so), around the same as some of the other late 70's "heroes" like Chambliss/Nettles/Piniella/Dent. Unfortunately the perception is he was not as responsible for the Yanks winning as his stats would show, so maybe he is a little short-changed considering his tenure. But he (and even the other guys listed above) are a level (small, but discernable) below Mattingly. Looking at everyone's overall achievemnets it may seem ridiculous, but there was something about Mattingly everyone really liked. I can only think of the perception (in fans' minds) as Mattingly being the best player in the league for that 3-4 year stretch. Willie is not quite as undervalued (popularity-wise) as Roy White, but there is a similarity there with Willie starting his career on the Championship teams followed by long tenure and Roy ending his career on that same champioship team after a long tenure.

  197. My apologies to all if I unleashed Pratt @194 on everyone.

  198. @189
    "Memory may seem to be a silly point to bring up, but I believe most would remember Reggie Jackson as a feared slugger even though he never had consecutive 30 homerun seasons."

    What does consecutive have to do with the price of eggs in China?

    Considering their past, hmm

    Wouldn't be a smart HOF if you didn't have Bly

  199. @197

    All is forgiven, as long as he distracts MarkR ;-)

  200. @194
    "OBP is simply a more accurate description of what people thought they were referring to when they cited batting average all those years."

    Eddie Yost and Rob Picciolo don't know whether to laugh or cry.

  201. @197, Tmckelv -- Not at all! I'm thrilled to be relieved of the dual title of Most Long-Winded & Least Patient commenter in these blogs!

    But seriously ... The young man (?) expresses himself well and has a point of view worth hearing, even if he did alienate roughly half the audience with his opening salvo. I hope he's not discouraged by the vitriol & mockery that may be unleashed upon him ... but I also hope that he soon realizes that "it's what you learn after you know it all that counts."

    P.S. Thanks for the reply on Willie Randolph.

  202. Well, after reading this whole thread over a cup of tea I must say that I tend to agree with Pratt. For the most part, when it comes to HoF consideration I tend to think the most important consideration is how they stacked up against players of the same time period. Mattingly was more-or-less in the top 5 non-pitches for several years. Also, when they talk about intangibles I think that is more a reference to if you would want to build a team AROUND that person, which the Yankees did despite not having much success. Combine that with the fact that if it weren't for his balky back, he probably could have played until 1999 or so, and with him the Yankees likely won in 97, at least considering what a down year it was for Fielder.

    Olerud never has, never will be considered one of ANY time periods top 5-10 players. I actually was a fan of him too, despite being a Yankees fan I would tune in to Mets games during that time just to see him play. It was nice to see a guy who actually was a hitter and not just some freakishly large ogre swinging a telephone pole at a little leather ball. Hall of Fame though? No, maybe Hall of Really Great players.

  203. @Tmckelv and Jeff, 174, 175 and 177:

    Jeff, I hope that cough gets better. Bonds didn't start playing until 1986, so he certainly wasn't considered the best hitter for the entire decade of the 1980's.

    Indeed, the 1980's was rather weak for hitters. only 8 players with more than 3000 PA's posted an OPSPlus of > than 140 for the decade--4 in the HOF. (Mattingly OPS Plus for 1980's = 144, seventh best).

    Mike Schmidt was probably the best hitter for the decade, but he trailed off in 1988 and 1989--and he still lead the decade with the most HR's.

    The 1990's had 12 hitters over 140 OPS Plus.

    1970's: 11 (8 in the HOF)

    1960's: 11 (9 in the HOF)

    50's: 8 (every one of them in the HOF)

  204. @203

    My bad, I read it as any hitter the best for an entire decade :-(

  205. @202 -- "Mattingly was more-or-less in the top 5 non-pitchers for several years."

    Are you sure you don't want to hedge that some more?
    Seriously -- "more or less"? "several years"?

    I honestly don't know what you're trying to say about Mattingly.

    As far as his back problem shortening his career, how long he might have played otherwise and what additional championships the Yanks might have garnered ... Look, I felt bad about Donnie's decline, too -- but yowza, hasn't it occurred to you know that if it weren't for career-shortening injuries, the Hall of Fame would have about 5 times as many players as it does? (Or else it would contain nothing but super-duperstars.) Injuries are a part of the game, man. There are probably 50+ players who were as good as or better than Mattingly in their prime but suffered even more abrupt career termination. Nobody gets extra credit in the career-evaluation sweepstakes for the fact that they might have done X-Y-Z if they hadn't been injured. That way lies madness.

    I think perhaps another cup of tea is in order, and a re-reading of Pratt's final sentence -- the one where he states his ambition. Then, try to think critically about what is required to actually qualify for that title.

  206. @ 56: O'Doul is a guy like Hack Wilson; a hard luck story with a few years at an amazing peak. But O'Doul didn't start his career as a batter until he was in his 30's. Many of the players of his era were nearly washed up by the time they hit 33.

    Indeed, for all eras, for full time players, there are only a hand full of players who managed to have an OPSPlus of at least 145 after the age of 33. It makes me wonder what he would have done in his 20's. I'm not saying that alone should get O'Doul in the HOF, but when you add in the other factors of his amazing performance in the short amount of time he had, his minor league managerial record, and his work in popularizing baseball in Japan, he should be in.