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HOF Ballot Insanity

Posted by Sean Forman on January 5, 2011

Other authors may have their own take on the HOF voting just completed, but to me this is the craziest result of anything that happened.

Pitching Stats
Rk Votes ▾ %vote HOFm HOFs Yrs WAR W L ERA ERA+ WHIP SV IP SO
1 Lee Smith 263 45.3% 135 13 18 29.7 71 92 3.03 132 1.256 478 1289.1 1251
2 X-Kevin Brown 12 2.1% 93 41 19 64.0 211 144 3.28 127 1.222 0 3256.1 2397
3 X-John Franco 27 4.6% 124 11 21 25.5 90 87 2.89 138 1.333 424 1245.2 975
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/5/2011.

I just don't get it.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 5th, 2011 at 3:19 pm and is filed under Hall of Fame. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

138 Responses to “HOF Ballot Insanity”

  1. Wow...

    I didn't realize that the HoFm had Franco so high. So, maybe HoFm may not be perfect, but in this case, it certainly seems to understand the minds of the voters (though not the worthiness of the candidates).

  2. Caliphornian Says:

    Well said, Dr. Doom. Why would those 12 pick him? In the absence of clear rules, never trust the brains of people in the spin business!

  3. Is it me or does the Hall Of Fame need to be redone and the basis for entry redefined?
    It seems that the basis for entry is being debated far too much, just in my opinion.

  4. John Autin Says:

    Sean, could you clarify your position a bit, especially regarding John Franco?

    I'm guessing that your top point is that Lee Smith should not have gotten so many more votes than Kevin Brown.

    But I'm not sure what you mean by including John Franco in the table.
    It seems as though you could mean either (a) that Franco's vote total should be closer to Smith's, or (b) you're shocked that Franco got twice as many votes as Brown.

    My own position: The fact that John Franco got any votes at all proves that some voters just went by career totals as compared to other retired closers. I don't think anyone who followed the game during Franco's career and compared him to contemporary closers would give him a moment's thought for the HOF.

    Franco was an All-Star 4 times, last in 1990. In his 21-year career, Franco got exactly 2 Cy Young votes, both in the strike-shortened '94, when he placed 7th in the CYA vote.

    Franco spent the vast majority of his career working under "modern closer" conditions -- i.e., he rarely worked more than an inning and usually just in 9th-inning save situations -- yet he never had a 40-save season. From 1986-99, the years Franco was a primary closer, the 40-save mark was reached 46 times.

    Franco may have a better ERA+ than Lee Smith in about the same IP, but it's easier to keep a low ERA when you work 50-60 innings a year. (From 1990 on, he never topped 68 IP in a season.) The WAR method rates Smith solidly above Franco, 30.3 to 25.8.

    I know that a majority of Mets fans during his tenure never considered him among the game's elite closers, and viewed the Myers-for-Franco trade as a mistake, even if Franco did last longer.

  5. Johnny Twisto Says:

    It's you. How would it be at all interesting if there were no debate?

  6. John Autin Says:

    P.S. Why do the WAR numbers in the table above differ slightly from those shown on their player pages?

    Smith: 29.7 in the table ... 30.3 on his B-R page.
    Brown: 64.0 in the table ... 64.8 on his B-R page.
    Franco: 25.5 in the table ... 25.8 on his B-R page.

  7. @6

    The WAR values on this page include their offensive value.

  8. John Autin Says:

    Thanks for the explanation, LeeTro.

  9. @John Autin:

    Brown has 64.8 WAR from pitching, and -0.8 WAR from batting, for a career total of 64.0 WAR.

  10. Kevin Brown not receiving enough support to stay on the ballot is just unbelievably embarrassing. Seriously how do the brains of a baseball writers work in that Jack Morris gets 50% of the vote and Brown is one and done? Unbelievable.

    The Lee Smith-John Franco vote just highlights the complete arbitrary nature in the way baseball writers vote for relief pitchers.

    Franco, Quisenberry, and Tekulve were just as good as Fingers, Sutter, & L. Smith.

  11. I'm surprised Kevin Brown got any votes. That's the only thing that I can read from your post above, right?

  12. I agree that the Brown vote is really bad

  13. While he was active, I never thought of Lee Smith as a future Hall of Famer. And as a long term Met fan I NEVER thought that Franco was a future HOF'amer either. BUT, I NEVER EVER for a moment thought that Franco was better than Smith.

  14. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I disagree about Franco, John Q. See Autin's post #4. Franco was not an elite reliever. He had a few very good seasons early in his career, then spent 15 years pitching 55 IP a year. Not that impressive to me.

    I do agree there's not much difference between Quiz and Sutter. But that's the nature of the binary vote. If a preponderance of voters thought there was some narrow margin between them, and that defines the in/out line, then you get the results we got.

    I don't know that the voters are being "completely arbitrary." It's a difficult position to evaluate. There are probably some voters who don't want relievers at all, a position I can respect. The others have to figure out how to compare guys who pitched 60 G, 120 IP a season to guys who pitched 75 G, 80 IP a season, even though those two eras may have only been about a decade apart. And on top of that, compare those guys to everyday position players. Now we're having top guys who only pitch 70 IP a season, albeit more dominantly. How will they be evaluated? Do they need to last longer? I don't know the answers.

  15. I'm amazed that Kevin Brown got so few votes.

    He was one of the most dominant pitchers from 1996-2003, a span of 8 years.

    109-58
    2.60 ERA
    200 IP/season
    1.084 WHIP
    3.79 K/BB
    158 ERA+

    This is just plain stupid.

  16. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Okay, let's see who should get some HOF consideration.

    Smith? Possibly, but not serious consideration for a plaque. His numbers are closer to "above average" than "star-quality".

    Brown? I'd rate him about on the level of Tommy John, without the added fame the latter got for his bionic career.

    Franco? Please! He should be elected right after Cookie Rojas {my personal hero, but hardly a HOFer} and Joe Slabotnik {those unfamiliar with the latter should bone up on their Peanuts -- he was as much a hero to Charlie Brown as,...well,...Cookie Rojas is to me}.}.

  17. Brown was in the Mitchell Report.

  18. @15. Sanjay

    Brown was implicated in the Mitchell Report as having bought steroids and HGH from Radomski. Regardless of what happens to Bonds, A-Rod, Palmeiro and Clemens, a guy like Brown with a borderline (or less than borderline) HOF case and a Mitchell mention is never going to get in. I'm surprised anyone wasted a vote on him at all.

  19. @1 - The Hall of Fame monitor was developed based on past voting trends. It is a measure of who is likely to get elected, not who should be in there.

    That being said, my guess is that when Bill James created the HoFM he could not foresee the change in the way closers would be used. I mean, you get 20 points for 300 career saves and 10 points for 200 career saves (no extra points for 400 or 500 career saves). 4 points for each season of 30-39 saves, and 7 points for each season of 40+ saves.

    I don't know when the HoFM was created, but let's say it was created in 1987. The first time anyone ever had 40+ saves was 1983, so 40 was a huge total. But nowadays 40 is a regular league leading total - since 1991 the only years in which the league leader (in either league) in saves did NOT have 40+ saves were 1994 and 1995, the strike and lockout years. Myers led the NL with 38 saves in 1995 (Mesa had 46 for the Indians), and in 1994 Franco and Lee Smith had 30 and 33 saves respectively. The last pitcher to lead a league with less than 40 saves in a full season was John Franco who led the NL with 33 in 1990. So, particularly with relievers, the HoFM probably needs a little revamping.

    Interestingly, when searching for the creation date of the HoFM, I stumbled across a "revised HoFM" at http://www.actapublications.com/images/small/PressReleases/BJHB2011-HOFMonitor.pdf. The excerpt looks to be from a new historical abstract or handbook.

    The points for relievers are now: 5 points for 40+ saves, 3 points for 30-39, and 1 point for 20-29. Also, it is 20 points for 400+ career saves and 10 points for 300-399.

    Under this new system I believe that John Franco loses 5 points for his single season save numbers and his points from his career total remain unchanged. Still at 119.

  20. Mike Gaber Says:

    Just my 2 cents on the subject on 1 and done....

    I understand the shock many of the above posters are having with the 1 and done results of players like Kevin Brown.

    Kevin Brown was a terrible interview when he was an active player.
    He was mean and surly to the writers who had direct access to him in the club house.
    Thus he never was going to get any HoF votes after the way he treated the print media.

    Even those who never had a chance to interview him got the word from those who tried, failed or were discouraged.

    While active many players treated the media in the same fashion that Kevin Brown did.
    This has come back to bite them years later if they become "borderline" HoF players.
    Many of those media have now got their 10 year wait over and can vote and now can get their revenge.

    As the old line print media die off and are replaced by the Internet Media who don't have direct club house access to the players this will most likely change.

    The newer Internet media types will mainly evaluate players based on their statistics, etc. and not on their personalities.

    Unfortunately those players like Kevin Brown will have to rely on the Veterans Committee.
    The way things have been going with the VC, that could be a "slim and none" possibility.

  21. Kevin Brown was one of the most obvious users of PEDS, especially among pitchers

  22. Twisto,

    I'm not advocating Franco for the HOF I'm just saying I don't think there was much difference between Franco and Lee Smith. My point was that I don't think there is a big difference between Lee and 5-7 other relievers (Quis, Tekulve, Henke, & Hiller, just to name 4) who aren't even on the HOF ballot.

    I basically only see 4 HOF relievers: Rivera, Eckersly, Gossage and Wilhelm.

    Franco was actually considered an elite reliever when he was on the Reds during the mid-late 80's. He was pitching about 85 innings a year and posted a 154 era+ from 1984-1989. He most likely would have stayed in Cincinnati had he not been rumored to have been involved in the Pete Rose betting scandal.

    I did a play index search for WAR leaders among relief pitchers between 1985-1990 and Franco was tied with Lee Smith for the top spot with 13.7 WAR.

  23. Not sure I can explain the Lee Smith fascination either. Two factors I guess are longevity and consistency: he led a league in saves 11 seasons apart, and over a span of 12 years, never had fewer than 12 saves. Franco did have a similar span, albeit with two subpar years in the middle (1992-93). Smith was the progressive career leader in saves for what seems like a lifetime (although it was only from 1993-2006 when Trevor Hoffman overtook him).

    Also weren't there some whisperings about Franco and PED's? I don't recall if he was ever specifically implicated but a Google search turns up a few hits. Maybe it was just suspicion because of his "take off" at age 33, or guilt by association of being on an underachieving Mets roster full of proven or suspected juicers and/or druggies like Segui, Hundley, Bonilla, McReynolds, Gooden.

    Anyway, the general perception seems to be that Smith has a better HOF case than Franco but clearly that's only based on one statistic, saves, and there isn't that much difference between their saves to explain the disparity in votes.

  24. Here's what happened, I think, with Kevin Brown. I was in the newspaper business in Dallas when Brown played with the Rangers, and he was never seen as an elite player. Check out this post from T.R. Sullivan, who covered Brown then: http://tinyurl.com/2a4555x

    So there are two Browns -- the Brown of the numbers and the Brown the writers remember. And I think that the Brown the writers remember is the one who didn't get enough votes to stay on the ballot. That may not be "right," but that's the way people are.

  25. @15 Sanjay

    Brown's problem is that he was dominant over the wrong time frame. See if he was dominant from say 1990-1999, then voters could potentially say "He was the best pitcher of the 90s", much like certain nitwits do with Jack Morris and the 80s. As if somehow a timeframe that begins at the beginning of a decade holds more weight than other timeframes in determining if someone is a hall of famer.

  26. Looking at the vote today, I was trying to figure if there is a relatively consistent "steroids penalty" in the voting at this point. It looks to me as if it might be around 50%, such that absent steroid concerns Bagwell would be in, McGwire would have been in by now, Palmeiro would be around 60% and Brown around 50%

  27. generalbullmoose Says:

    Whomever voted for B.J. Surhoff should have their credentials revoked!

  28. Kevin Brown was definitively linked to steroids and his number dont justify a spot in the hall.

  29. @24 The argument you make is too weak. Yeah, Brown wasn't a star in Texas (he really only had one good year there) but he became one with SD, LA and Florida. The argument you make would mean that players like Herb Pennock, who was terrible in PHI before he joined the Yankees or a skipper like Casey Stengel, who was a laughingstock in Boston, wouldn't be viable candidates for the HOF because they struggled with their initial organizations. A player's full career needs to analzyed and not just one of his stops.

    Relief pitchers really give voters fits. I'd take Tom Henke, John Hiller and Dan Quisenberry over Gossage or Sutter, but that's me. Sometime down the road there'll be people championing some left-handed specialist--think of a better version of Tony Fossas--for the Hall of Fame because he was expert at shutting down the opposition; albiet one batter an inning. As the game changes so does the voting.

  30. The most forgotten idea about the hall of fame is the fact that this institution began as a way to remember special ball players. Myself, I will always remember John Franco. From his early career uni-brow to his speech about telling his son it wasnt his fault for his arm injury he personified everything good about baseball. Passion, distinction, and most of all humility are traits he caried throughout his entire career. Lee Smith as well, not a lot of players have shown the level of competitive fire Smith did. All Sabermetrics and Bill James analysis aside he was the last of the old breed of closers AND the all-time saves leader for quite a while. Kevin Brown? I cant say anything dignified about him really. Good pitcher for a stretch run? Absolutely. Someone that belongs in our HOF? Absolutely not. The Hall was created for baseball players, not only because of numbers but because of what these fine men meant to the game and the fans that came to see them. The Hall is to be filled with the finest that have ever played the game, take a step back and look. The choose becomes easier.

  31. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Birtelcom, I don't think it's that consistent because each case is a little different. With no steroids talk, I gotta think McGwire gets around 85-90% his first year. (Some voters probably wouldn't like his "one-dimensionality," but he still gets in easily.) So in his case the steroid discount was originally around 60-65%. But it's not just steroids, it's steroids plus his "shameful" Congressional testimony. How much did that account for? What if we had the same rumors, andro in the locker, but he was never called before Congress? I feel like that hurt his rep as much as anything. I bet he would have polled over 50% without the testimony (but who knows). And this season, we find out that those voters who needed 100% proof of steroid use outweigh those who would forgive him for coming clean by 5 percentage points.

    With Palmeiro, I think he gets around 80% in his first year. Seen by some as a compiler, but the career totals just too much to ignore. So he's been knocked down 70 points. But his case is different. It's the finger-wag, plus the positive test, plus the denial and blame of a teammate. Hard to weight the various components.

    It will be interesting to see what happens with Bonds. No steroid controversy, he gets 99%. Now, I think the steroid-proof is more certain for Bonds than it was for McGwire -- he admitted taking substances which it seems were steroids, but denies knowing they were steroids. I think he'll get over 50% of the vote, so in his case the penalty would be less than 50%. Some voters will say Bonds deserved the HOF before he started using, while McGwire did not. Maybe I'm very wrong.

    Of course, in two(?) years we will have more information about who else was using, some people's opinions on PEDs will have continued to evolve, so the penalties can't be directly compared for those reasons either.

  32. Ethan, I liked your post, but you are about to get slammed and hard from the stat heads here, so let me just add one sentence to the end of your paragraph: "Plus, Brown was definitively linked to steroids and HGH in the Mitchell report.'

  33. @Johnny Twisto

    Don't know if I agree that Palmeiro was a "compiler"; he only played to 40, and his top 8 similars -- top 10 minus Ramirez and Sheffield -- include Murray, Frank Robby, Griffey Jr., Ott, Reggie, Winfield and Kaline, true superstars and HOF'ers every one.

    McGwire, on the other hand, would not have gotten my vote even without the steroids. His top 7 -- excluding Juan Gone, Canseco and Giambi -- include two one-dimensional HOF'ers, another possible HOF'er in Thome, and four definite non-HOF'ers in Delgado, Cash, Kingman and Hodges.

    So, steroids aside, I don't think just being the best home run hitter in a home run era, and not bringing any other skills to the game*, should get you in the Hall. (*Yes, of course I know he walked a lot and led his league in OBP twice. So, he had a decent eye, but he also was pitched around for most of his career because of his steroid-aided ability to knock the ball a long way).

  34. OK, just get away from the intense stat analysis for a minute. I agree with you, these were some special ball players. But....

    Kevin Brown. On his best day, he was just horrible to face. Just filthy stuff. But if you ever hung your hat on him, you were always going to get disappointed. He was n't just injury prone, he always got hurt when you needed him most. I'm not saying I agree with his dim showing, I'm just saying.

    John Franco. You're right! He was incredible. But think of his peers. His accomplishments were overshadowed by the era of the best closers ever.

    Lee Smith. Cannot think of a reason. Smith should be in the Hall JUST for that nasty, evil stare of his.

  35. Holding the saves record for a while by being a closer at the beginning of the "save era" apparently makes Lee Smith great.

  36. "I'd take Tom Henke, John Hiller and Dan Quisenberry over Gossage or Sutter, but that's me. "

    Might be just you, too. I had to look up Hiller, a guy who had 38 saves one year. Gossage and Sutter dominated for a long while.

  37. @33

    Delgado isn't a certain non HOF'er by any means. He was on his way and about 90% there at least to being an absolute shoe in before his hip failed on him.

    If he doesn't get in, he'd have the most home runs of any non steroid implicated player that isn't in. And Delgado's high OBP and strong peak years definitely make him a decent HOF candidate.

    He's 5th among active players in RBI's, 9th in runs created, 9th in doubles, 10th in total bases, 9th in slugging, 13th in adjusted OPS, and 23rd in WAR. He did all this in a pretty compressed career ending suddenly at 36 when he was still producing.

    A normal late 30's decline from Delgado would've given him 500+ homers and doubles easily. The HOF would've voted him in for sure with numbers that he easily reaches with just a couple of normal decline years.

  38. How is Barry Larkin not in? He dominated his era. That should matter more than anything else out there.

  39. flyingelbowsmash Says:

    I agree with Kelly @33 on McGwire. I would question him without steroids. On top of what Kelly said, he has a low RBI total for the amount of home runs he hit (master of the insignificant solo HR) and about all the walks, yes, McGwire gets on base but now you have perhaps the slowest professional athlete in the world clogging up the base paths. A walk to McGwire and a walk to Henderson are two different things. Which, is my one criticism of WAR, it over rates walks IMO.

    Back to the post, this ballot vote is crazy. No Larkin? Bagwell? Really? Are people thinking that Larkin took roids? The writers get their ONE opportunity to be involved in this great sport and, of course, they %$#! it up.

  40. scott silveira Says:

    The writers do not have a consensus on how to evaluate relievers, except by how they voted the year before.

    As for Brown, very weird. He is perceived to have underachieved after his huge contract, when he in fact did pitch well. Except for 98 San Diego, his teams underachieved. I'm not sure he ever said boo to a writer, so writers be tougher judges than his playing peers, or the general public.

  41. Clogging up the base paths is overrated. I have almost never seen a baserunner slow enough that he prevents other runners from moving up behind him.

    I think many players that would be well suited to bat leadoff or 2nd bat in less useful spots because there is some dumb idea that you need speed at the top of the order. If you've got power in the middle of the order, the last thing you want is some .320-.340 obp guy trying to steal bases. Amazing why any manager puts those type of players in front of the power hitters.

  42. @19 Artie Z: You referred to 1994 and '95 as the strike and lockout years. FYI, there was no lockout in that period. The work stoppage was a strike. It was instigated and exacerbated by the owners, their desire to break the union, and their unwillingness to bargain in good faith, but it was a strike initiated by the players.

  43. Nash Bruce Says:

    @Jimbo (41) Totally agree with the second part of your comment, yet disagree with the first. Average speed McGwire was not......he was a special case, lol.

  44. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Don't know if I agree that Palmeiro was a "compiler"

    I was just trying to summarize what I think the general voter opinions are.

    [McGwire] has a low RBI total for the amount of home runs he hit (master of the insignificant solo HR)

    Anyone that hits that many HR in a season will have a lower RBI per HR. It's not uncommon for a full-time player with 10 HR to drive in 70 runs, but no 30-HR hitter is going to drive in 210 runs. 52% of McGwire's career HR were solo. Last season, 57% of MLB HR were solo. The average WPA of his HR was 0.137, which is right in line with others I have looked up before. Clutch God David Ortiz's homers have had an average WPA of .132. His OPS with RISP and high-leverage situations were much higher than in other situations.

    my one criticism of WAR, it over rates walks IMO.

    How so? By how much? Can you propose a better weight?

  45. Johnny Twisto Says:

    His OPS with RISP and high-leverage situations were much higher than in other situations.

    Admittedly, some of this is likely due to IBBs. But his SLG was notably higher in those spots.

  46. The % of votes Edgar & Bagell received (or actually didn't receive) makes me fear the decision voters will make when Frank Thomas is up in a couple of years....

  47. I still do not understand why catcher TED SIMMONS is constantly ignored by the HOF voters. Electing only a few players each year is disrespectful. Gary Carter made the Hall, but players like Ted SImmons, Al Oliver and Rusty Staub just don't get the respect they deserve... add:

    Mickey Lolich
    Wilbur Wood
    Vida Blue....

    ...but maybe my thinking is wrong. If it were up to me, Rick Manning and Tim Foli would be there too.

  48. @46 - I don't think Frank has anything to worry about. He was more of a presence than Bagwell or Edgar ever were, and his numbers are there. Add to that no whispers of 'roids.

  49. #36 Dan.

    I know what you're talking about with Hiller, Henke, etc. But remember, these were guys who were unbelievable effective for a handful of seasons. Good God these guys dominated in important seasons. But their overall numbers are lacking.

    #47 Landrew.

    Dude, you're absolutely right! Lolich and Vida Blue. WOW. They had some individual, spectacular seasons and accomplishments. But those of us who saw them and loved KNOW they don't belong in the Hall.

    BUT, if you're going to put Blyleven in the Hall then these guys gotta go.

    Look at Blue's best seasons. Wow! He was awesome.

    Lolich? He's a lefty and look at his K/9. Incredible. If he'd of pitched in the era of microsurgery who knows what his numbers would've been.

    If Blyleven goes, then Blue and Lolich MUST!

  50. DoubleDiamond Says:

    Franco was a New York City native playing much of his career in his home town. That probably got him a few extra votes.

  51. Hall of Fame voters ARE supposed to consider intangibles such as character in their votes. I don't think they have a huge influence, but they can have an effect in borderline cases. Ty Cobb may have been nasty, and Steve Carlton wouldn't talk to the media, but that wouldn't be enough to keep them out with their numbers. But Kevin Brown doesn't have Carlton's numbers. If you're a borderline case, character issues can pull you down. The same kind of thing probably happened with Dick Allen. On the other hand, character and leadership may have been what pushed Tony Perez over the line and into the Hall.

    I also think historical factors entered into some of the relievers who have been elected. Wilhelm, Fingers, and Sutter each were bellwethers in the stages of the development of the modern reliever, and I think that historical significance is what pushed them past Quisenberry, Smith, Franco, etc. I expect Rivera and Hoffman to get in, but I don't see any other relievers right now.

  52. Olerud and Hernandez haev the exact same career OPS+ and Olerud did his despite playing in the era with all the roiders.

  53. @48

    I agree 100%

    But the DH factor (like Edgar) & Frank's most "similar" (Bagwell) is why I made the post.

    Frank should be 1st ballot, but the way the voting is trending & the other players coming up in the next few years makes me think he will have a long wait.

    Oh, & playing in the 'roid era.........

  54. Landrew - Ted Simmons for sure - its just plain stupid - heavy workload - heavy hitter - he was a great, great hitter and his catching was not as bad as people think - I dont want to hear about WAR or OPS+ - nonsense, this man was a player.

  55. In reference to my post on Kevin Brown, I didn't know he was linked to PED's. That most likely explains his low vote total. I don't feel so bad for him anymore!

    Thanks to those for the clarification.

  56. The following is not meant to be a complete argument for putting Dan Quisenberry in the HOF. It's just some of the reasons that I was disappointed when Sutter was elected and Quis was not:

    -- Quis had a 147-136 edge in ERA+, over virtually the same IP. (OK, Quis had 1 more inning.)

    -- Quisenberry finished top-3 in the Cy Young voting 4 years in a row (two strong 2nds, two 3rds), plus a 5th. Sutter did win the award once -- by a razor-thin margin, with just 33% of the total points -- but Quis has a solid lead in career CYA shares, 1.49 to 1.14. Quis also did better in the MVP vote, with a high of 3rd (Sutter 5th) and slightly more total MVP shares.

    -- I've heard many people cite Sutter's innovation of the split-finger fastball as part of his HOF credentials. Assuming that Sutter really did pioneer the pitch -- so what? You earn your way into the HOF on performance, whether you do it with a novelty pitch or the age-old fastball and curve. If Sutter had invented the split, the palm ball, the circle change, the eephus pitch and "the ol' dark one," but had John Wetteland's career instead of his own, would the inventions carry any weight when the HOF vote rolled around? I think not.

    I'm not really sure if Dan Quisenberry should be in the Hall of Fame, but I'm dead sure that Bruce Sutter didn't belong there ahead of him.

  57. dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ 30
    Well said. A lot of really smart guys forget the Hall of Fame is much broader than numbers.
    I remember when I first took an interest in player's personalities and how much more rich the game became to me.
    The last non-pitching story I can think of for Kevin Brown (besides his Mitchell report affiliations) was when Joe Torre found him curled up under a tarp in the club house crying.
    Last story about Lee Smith I can think of; he was lingering in the clubhouse after a shaky but successful save. When asked why he wasn't going home, he answered something like, - "I want to be sure my wife is asleep, she's gonna be pissed I walked two guys."
    Last Franco story... I don't have one, because the guy is at every two bit charity event in NYC. He literally makes 30 appearances a year, maybe more.
    Ethan is right. I know we all get caught up in numbers, but it bothers me the best player to ever play during my life time was an arrogant self absorbed, ego tripping, terrible human being. (Bonds)
    Johnny Franco may have been slightly above average, but why begrudge him being a closer. He didn't invent the position to pad his stats. He took a job, and did it very well for a long time. And if you grew up in New York and happened to be cursed a Mets Fan, he was a bright, bright spot, on many bad teams. He represented the city and his team well during 9/11 and should be recognized for that. He even took his demotion when the Mets got Benetez well. He was a sportsman and someone we all should want our kids to emulate.

  58. One point on Kevin Brown which hasn't been mentioned here yet:
    No wins and a 6.04 ERA in 4 World Series starts; 5-5, 4.19 in 13 postseason starts.

    I do think Kevin Brown is generally underrated, and I think a lot of people still don't realize just how many HOF starting pitchers have worse combinations of ERA+, IP and WAR than Brown. But I also don't think his regular-season stats make a compelling case for his induction, and he's definitely not getting any help from peripheral factors such as postseason play, likeability or (ahem) "character."

  59. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I've heard many people cite Sutter's innovation of the split-finger fastball as part of his HOF credentials. Assuming that Sutter really did pioneer the pitch -- so what? You earn your way into the HOF on performance, whether you do it with a novelty pitch or the age-old fastball and curve. If Sutter had invented the split, the palm ball, the circle change, the eephus pitch and "the ol' dark one," but had John Wetteland's career instead of his own, would the inventions carry any weight when the HOF vote rolled around? I think not.

    I'll disagree with this. If Sutter were a borderline guy based on performance but had invented the splitter, I think that could push him over the top. Changing the game is a big thing. If he had done almost nothing as a competitive pitcher but had legitimately invented 5 or 6 pitches, I think that might be worthy of induction. It's moot, because he didn't invent the splitter. He may have helped popularize it but I don't see that as a big point in his favor.

  60. Dukeofflatbush -- The only sense in which I can agree that "the Hall of Fame is much broader than numbers" is that the objective criteria for induction are virtually impossible to pin down; a "Hall of Famer" is something different to almost everyone who cares about it.

    I make my HOF arguments based partly on what I want the HOF to be, but mostly based on what it already is by virtue of its existing members.

    Franco's charity work may be admirable and he may be a great guy, and I'm sure those factors have pushed some borderline candidates into the HOF. But I don't think Franco is even a borderline candidate, and I don't think positive character factors have gotten otherwise undeserving players into the HOF, nor do I want the HOF to include such players.

    My other problem with giving extra credit to "good guys" is that the measurement is so subjective and anecdotal. Some guys do a lot of good work but keep it private. Some guys are misunderstood. Some guys in the past were touted as "good guys" by the sporting press because they always bought a few rounds in the bar, or provided inside information. Some guys are considered "good guys" because they express popular opinions.

    But some of my baseball heroes express unpopular opinions. Carlos Delgado, for a time, stayed off the field during the National Anthem, to protest the U.S. military's continued use of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques for bombing practice. Out of respect for his teammates, he didn't make a big public deal about it or try to show anyone up; he just quietly stayed off the field. Eventually, the Mets made a public issue of his action, and he gave in to their pressure. But I've always admired him for making that statement as long as he did. I think that somewhere down the road, history will judge him well for that, but I don't see it earning him any extra HOF votes in the immediate future.

    I know that I don't have the means or the ability to independently assess the "good guy" quotient of even a fraction of HOF candidates, and I certainly don't trust the sports media to judge such things on a fair, thorough and consistent basis. To me, it's just another wild-card in a process that already has plenty of them.

  61. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Are you denying that Kirby Puckett was the lovable scamp I knew him to be!!?!?!

  62. Johnny Twisto @59 -- I respect your opposing view on Sutter. I happen to think that Sutter is just such a "borderline candidate" as you speak of, and I actually do think that being credited with developing (or at least popularizing) the split-finger did push him over the top. I don't know enough to have a strong opinion on how much credit he actually deserves for the split, but he is so credited in many places and by many baseball people.

  63. Johnny Twisto @61 -- If I had your deft facetious touch, I would come back with something like, "Of course Kirby was a great guy -- he's dead, isn't he?!?" But of course I could never pull that off without seeming callous and disrespectful....

    Have a good night, all.

  64. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I don't think I wrote precisely enough. I think you are right: Sutter was given credit for developing the splitter (incorrectly, I believe) and this did help him gain induction. My argument was that if he *had* actually invented the splitter, that *should* be considered in his favor for induction. As is, I would not give him innovator credit. Whether he is deserving simply based on his pitching performance....I'm not sure.

  65. Franco is forth all-time in saves and won two Rolaids Relief awards. Should count for something IMHO!

  66. Mike Felber Says:

    I do not think Sutter did enough. Even if we make WAR or other measures of composite performances lower to account for their role, few can really be good enough to overcome any reasonable look at IP....Just over 1000 IP, you do not need to be quite Sandman, but a 136 ERA + over 12 years under those conditions is good & valuable, not HOF.

    Please nobody ever again say "if x gets in, then y should". It matters if the 1st decision is rational: if wrong, it compounds the sin to let in someone deficient in. However Blyleven is extremely worthy. While he had great career value, he was at least amongst the very best in the league in a pitchers era a number of times. Most all here now realize this-look at ERA +, IP, Ks, shutouts...

    Big Mac created great value with historic HR % & great walks. That is what is important, total & peak value, not being well balanced or elegant-all this needs to be considered, but in baseball certain things have disproportionate impact. And Kevin Brown was better than borderline-his peak & career value was excellent, akin to Schilling & Moose-better peak less consistency than the latter.

    But the steroid issue is something that is enough for me to keep both guys out. Unless they clearly 10 would be good enough without it, & 2) apologized openly for the use, what could be more relevant re: invoking the character clause? I agree we should not usually give private conduct much weight. But when it violates the rule & integrity of the game, & is responsible for illicit performance & thus also team gain...

    Then it must be considered a disqualifier absent the above reasoning & personal reckoning.

  67. John Autin Says:

    Mike Felber @66 -- Just to be clear, I recognize that "if X is in, Y should be in" would ultimately drag down the HOF standards. I am not even really arguing that Quisenberry should be in (at all), and certainly not just because Sutter is in. I'm just saying that, since they were contemporaries and I think Quis had a better career, it's a mystery to me why Sutter was eventually elected, while Quisenberry dropped off the ballot after one year.

  68. Dark Leviathan Says:

    @41

    I just read Moneyball recently and I have to side with you and Billy Beane. OBP is tops, and trying to steal bases is an unnecessary risk when you have people later in the line-up that can more safely drive in runs. Didn't Earl Weaver have a similar approach? 27 outs, and each one is sacred.

    Just remember the virtues of trying to steal base: the 1926 WS ended with Babe Ruth caught stealing.

  69. Mike Felber Says:

    That is reasonable John. My comment addressed B.F. in #49, who made the if/then split comment explicit. You made a great, granular case for Blyleven's excellence despite mediocre to poor run support on a parallel thread here.

    Now let us get a post anal-yzing the different WAR formulas, since one is routinely invoked & given much weight, but we have NO reason to know which version, which slight to often enough fairly massive variations in results for players to trust!

  70. Mike Felber Says:

    Well D.L., I enjoyed Moneyball, & though Beane has not always been so wise later, he was good at recognizing & getting at a good price skills that were undervalued: at the time OBP. This is one huge way to create value. Yet even Weaver had runners when he lacked the power guys: it is partly what you can get, at what price. But if you, say, have guys that can steal at an excellent clip, then it is not a big risk: break even point arrives by 2/3, so if a guy can hit 75%, a team will gain more runs from him going in any meaningful sample size. More so at 80%.

    That does not mean you should not gauge the game situation, which should include the battery you will run against. But one example is not a good one, & Ruth is a poor example for your case: he never stole well, & was no longer young & fast by then. Must have thought that he would get away with a daring move due to the surprise factor.

  71. As PED-user-by-association and PED-statistical-enhancement have crept into writers' voting, I believe the HOF needs to rethink the election process. Over the past 15 years, a number of great players have been overlooked by HOF voters or held to a higher standard than most players elected before the 1980s. Players like Don Mattingly, Alan Trammell, Barry Larkin, Dave Parker, Tim Raines, and Dale Murphy dominated their positions during the pre-steroids era. However, when ballots were sent out five years after they retired, their numbers didn't look good any more. Remember when 30HR/year was considered great?!

    As a result of 1980s players being held to 1990s numbers, and 1990s players being suspected of using PED, I believe that a HOF voter could have justifiably voted for more than 10 players on this year's ballot. Next year, Bernie Williams is on the ballot. The man was a gentleman, played with integrity, and spent 16 years on the Yankees. He was the centerfielder on 12 playoff teams, was a consistent hitter, a 5-time All-Star, a 4-time GG winner, and has a career WAR of 47. How many votes will he get on a crowded ballot?

    Back in the 1940s and 1950s (and 60s?), the HOF switched up its voting standards to ensure that deserving players were not shut out. The HOF needs to change the system before the 2013 election, when the ballot will include Craig Biggio, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Curt Schilling. Otherwise, we'll end up with a lot of folks garnering 40-60 percent and only one or two players making it in every year.

  72. Howard @71: I don't think the problem for Mattingly, Parker and Murphy has anything to do with what happened after they retired. Even by the standards of their own time, none of them had long enough peaks, or were good enough after their peaks, to justify BBWAA election regardless of the fact that hitting stats increased dramatically in the late 1990s after they were retired. Murphy's career WAR is lower than Roy White's or Rusty Staub's; he was at the time he retired only 183rd in all-time career WAR among non-pitchers. And he had a higher career WAR than either Mattingly or Parker. I realize career WAR is hardly definitive but it's a pretty good shorthand indicator for these purposes of the broad scope of the place of these guys in baseball history. For various reasons, Parker, Matingly and Murphy were unable to sustain their early career excellence for long enough to justify BBWAA election, regardless of the later steroids era numbers.

  73. What I don't undestand is how Bagwell gets 41% and McGriff only gets 17%

    Now that's wrong on numerous levels.

  74. What I don't understand is B.J. Surhoff getting two votes, especially when one of the people that voted for him (ESPN News editor Barry Stanton) did not vote for Alomar. Exactly what metric or criteria makes Surhoff a Hall of Famer over Alomar?

  75. @72 Birtelcom -

    I have an obvious Braves bias, but Murphy has a WAR of 44.2 and Jim Rice has a WAR of 41.5. What hurt Murph was being on bad teams and having an early career decline. However, IMO if Rice is in then Murphy has to be in. Both were among the most feared hitters of their time in their respective leagues.

    The biggest omission of all time to me is Dick Allen with his 61.2 WAR. Offensively, he was at 71.8 WAR and -10.6 WAR defensively, so the man could definitely rake but not field. But he was considered a jerk (to me, misunderstood) and he had a relatively short career...makes you wonder how Orlando Cepeda got in with his 46.8 WAR and drug problems after retiring...

    If anything HOF voters are consistently inconsistent. Just look at Jon Heyman of SI...did anyone else hear his comments on MLB Network this morning? The man is a walking contradiction...

  76. Mike @ #66

    "Please nobody ever again say "if x gets in, then y should". It matters if the 1st decision is rational: if wrong, it compounds the sin to let in someone deficient in. "

    I'm going to remember you said that.

  77. Mike Felber Says:

    Please do Chuck! though also understand what that means. We can say that a player is, or deserves to be in the HOF, & thus another is also worthy. But we cannot logically say that just BECAUSE Joe Shmoe/Jim Rice/Maz or many Vet committee guys get in, then other folks belong.

    Right on with Allen & Heynman Braves fan, but "feared" is an imprecise & often erroneous meme. Such a statement gets repeated ad nauseum for a guy like Rice, & becomes the reality: the fact is there is no evidence he was more or as "feared" than much better hitters. Check the top OPS + stats for the era (which will overvalue Rice since it should be weighted more heavily towards OBP to reflect real runs created):

    He is not NEAR the best guys, neither is Murph. Though they were very good at their peaks. Ballpark & line up & very full years for a few years gave Rice quite inflated context dependent stats, largely RBIs.

    Bernie Williams is a great guy, but he should not get credit for being on great teams. And awards, especially 1/2 year reputation ones like the all star game, should not have an impact. He was not good enough overall to deserve the HOF. Hall of good players & excellent character, sure.

  78. Mike Felber Says:

    To clarify: not just that a player '"is" in the Hall, but is argued to be deserving to be indicted. But someone merely getting in, whether deserving or not, NEVER rationally makes a a comparable, or even necessarily a better, player automatically a fit candidate for the HOF.

    Of course, if someone is WRONG that the 1st player belongs in the Hall, that would invalidate the at least as good guy being deserving. Though whether the 1st guy is deserving is a judgment call.

  79. Mike Felber Says:

    "indicted"! I slay myself. That is what you get for relying on spell check.

    I meant "inducted".

  80. I wrote a post about whether or not Rice was a feared hitter

    http://cybermetric.blogspot.com/2008/12/was-jim-rice-feared-hitter.html

  81. I agree with what someone else said (can't find it right now) about there only being a few HOF (I believe?) worthy closers- my list would be short- M. Rivera, Hoffman, Gossage. I'd vote Smoltz in, too, only because he has been quite successful as a "real" pitcher, as well.
    Guess my real point is this- especially with "closers", arguing stats is pointless. Whether a closer's WAR is 1/10th a point higher over another's, is stupid to me. Over a 162 game season, 1 or two more saves a year (i.e., 30-40 career) is a moot point. There are too many random circumstances at play, to justify that as being meaningful.
    So, my "HOF Closer Criteria" is- "if I am a manager, who will make me crap my pants, if I see him warming up at the end of the 8th inning??"
    It's not John Franco......unless, if he is warming up, for my team!!

  82. #81 Nash.

    You stole my idea from a previous post. I suggested a stat be devised called the HMMPMP Index- as in; "he makes me poop my pants".

    I think it is an absolute threshold for induction to the Hall and you're spot-on in applying it to Franco. The hard-core Sabreheads almost never will accept firsthand endorsements from players who played with the person being regarded. I'll give you an example.

    Denny McLain's 31-6 season generated a WAR score so low that it didn't even make the top 500 seasons ever. I met Al Kaline and mentioned this to him and he laughed his ass off. He said players on other teams admitted to faking illness or injuries on the days he pitched that year

  83. I'd like to see breakdown of the batters McClain faced that year. Did he face alot of backups? Players' memories are not always that accurate. Not sure, but I think a pitcher's WAR takes into account the fielders behind him. If they are really good, then his WAR is lower. Also, he allowed 31 HRs in 336 IP or .83 per game. The league averge was .68. Now some of that is due to Tiger Stadium, which has a 136 HR factor for that year according to STATS, INC. That means we should divide McClain's HR rate by 1.18. That gets us .703 per 9 IP. So he was only average in allowing HRs. If WAR is based mainly on fielding independent stats, that probably played a role.

  84. Cyril,

    No insult meant here, but you're exactly the "problem" that I'm talking about.

    You take Al Kaline's recollections and just waive them away. Kaline's a Hall of Famer, faced some of the most fearsome pitching in baseball history, he's still young enough that he's not a doddering old idiot.

    He says it was the best season he ever saw (and Kaline doesn't even like McLain personally) and your response is; "memories are not always accurate".

    This page is dominated by two types of baseball fans- guys I call the Sabreheads, and guys like me- I'll call us "gut guys". Our gut reaction from watching people is important to us. And the problem BOTH of us have is we tend to be too polar. Stats are important- really important! but are not the observations of the actual players as well?

  85. I am no problem at all. You did not read my post properly. If you can verify what Kaline said by going through the boxscores here or at Retrosheet, then great. But I have seen people go back and try to verify what some player said (players who were not old) and they can't find any evidence for it.

    And if you look at what I wrote about WAR, I never said it was fool proof. I just tried to explain how the calculation might have worked. I did not say it was good or bad.

  86. dukeofflatbush Says:

    Barkfart,

    Couldn't agree with you more.
    I know we'd like to quantify everything, and I have no real problem with that. Each stat, no matter how flawed in other ways, represents exactly what it says (sometimes very complicatedly [WAR]) but it doesn't mean X was better than Y, it simply said X had more of Y.
    And we all know how mitigating the factors are when these stats get compiled.
    I totally think the 'gut factor' or the less flattering 'poop' factor are very real, but only can be judged by having been there or participated.
    I saw a manager about to IBB - I forget who - but Eddie Murray doesn't even get announced, he simply puts a doughnut on his bat and stands in the on-deck circle. The IBB was called off and the batter hits a walk off. And Murray never even appeared in the box score, and unless you were there and new a bit about the game you'd say Murray's presence was meaningless, and might disappear over time, but I was there, and it doesn't appear on Murray's WAR. But it goes in the 'poop your pants' bank.

  87. McLain had 7.5 K's per 9 IP. In the decade of the 60s, that was 28th best among pitchers with 250+ IP in a season.

  88. Cyril, I admire your doggedness, I really do.

    Picking apart a 31-6/1.96 season by pointing out he "only had 280 strikeouts" is precious. He was the unanimous CY Young and MVP, but you join that crowd that says it wasn't all that great.

    Let me see if I can give you a little homework. Why don't you look at Babe Ruth's 60 HR year and see if maybe he didn't actually face a really weak selection of pitchers that year. Maybe the Babe was overrated and that season isn't a top 500 either.

    AND, Dukeofflatbush

    thanks for the shout-out on my poop my pants stat. I'm genuinely flattered.

  89. Eh... too much is being made of 1968 McLain. The single season WAR list is dominated by 19th century guys who pitched 400, 500 or even 600 innings a year.

    And there *is* a bit of weirdness in the numbers. The Tigers had a great defense that year, so 13 of the runs saved when McLain pitched were credited to the defense instead of McLain. But... McLain gave up a fairly high percentage of unearned runs that year (86R/73ER). So, it would appear that McLain might be getting double dinged there. That's probably just a loss of around 1.0 WAR, though.

    5.9 WAR is still pretty darn good, though.

  90. Barkfart, you twist my words. I did not say he had only 280 strikeouts. I pointed out many pitchers of that era struck out even more batters per 9 IP than McLain did that year. What were playes saying to themselves? Oh, no! He might strike me out. But there were many pitchers back then who could strike people out at that rate. If batters were taking themselves out of games for that reason we would see alot of that happening. And he was just average in allowing HRs, too.

    I took a quick look at some boxscores at Retrosheet starting from the last game of the season and going backwards. It looked like lots of regulars were in the lineup against him. I know because I was watching baseball back then. I was there.

  91. again cyril, love the determination.

  92. OK, let me take one more shot at my outrage.

    31-6/ ERA below 2/ 280 strikeouts AND the only pitcher EVER to be unanimous CY Young AND MVP.

    Why on Earth would anyone see the need to dissect a season so obviously incredible? Were the sports writers that blind? Was Kaline so stupid? Why not just glory in what, on its face, is one of the greatest seasons in modern history?

    P.S.David. You're right about WAR being dominated by early baseball players, but there are a LOT of modern seasons not only higher than McLain's, but A LOT higher. If I'm not mistaken, Carlton's 27 win season has a WAR more than double McLain's.

  93. I am not disecting McLain's season. Yes it was a great season.

    I am questioning the idea that AL hitters were so afraid of him. We should not accept something as true just because a big league player said it. Look at the boxscores of his opponents for yourself. It sure looks like the normal lineups. I instantly recognize all the names I see. Growing up in Chicago there were lots of games on TV and I collected baseball cards. I have a very good idea of the players and the boxscores I have looked at give no indication of regulars not playing against McLain.

  94. dukeofflatbush Says:

    BarkFart,

    Glad you're flattered. I long have ben searching for the correct combo of words to describe, I guess intimidation.
    Do you remember that incidence? Murray was a Met and it was a walkoff in the 9th. Anyway, can you recall any other Murray/Mclain scenarios?
    To lend some credence to your claim and to let Cyril know it is not unimaginable - there is tons of anecdotal evidence, from guys who were there, that Bill Madlock would have phantom injuries while facing the tough pitchers in his day, especially when he was in a batting race. He is probably the worst 4 time batting champ.
    If you check the box scores, you can see when Madlock would sit.
    I also remember one of the best hitters of the late '90s, Larry Walker sitting out some days against Randy Johnson.
    He made no quips about it. He thought someone else could do better than he.
    So if an MVP, Larry Walker, can Man-Up, and say Johnson owned him, why can't it be conceived that other, lesser players develop butterflies when facing a guy in a career year?

  95. @92
    Carlton's 27-win season is just a lot better than McLain's 1968 season. McLain had a great year in 1968 but lots of pitchers had great years in 1968. Five AL pitchers had sub-2.00 ERA's. So, great year that it was, the only thing *historically* great about it was the win total. I don't see the discrepancy there.

    I do agree that the fielding/UER quirk depresses it a bit. There's always quirks in these numbers that's why you never look at just one number. In my opinion, its about on par with Robin Roberts' better seasons... not Carlton-72.

  96. "We should not accept something as true just because a big league player said it."

    Why not?

    Taking a cursory look at boxscores isn't going to prove jack, you have to look in detail and see who played and who didn't over the entire season, not just a few games.

    If Frank Howard or Harmon Killebrew told Kaline around the batting cage their missing the game last week was due to a fabricated tummy ache, then he should be believed UNTIL proved wrong, not the other way around.

  97. # 92 Duke. I don't remember the story, but I heard a very similar version long after it happened.

    #95 David RF. See, I have to take exception with your phrasing of Carlton's season as "a lot better". Is there really a season "a lot better" than that one, topped off by the double unanimous awards?

    Better, I'll accept that. A lot better? Carlton's WAR was more than twice as high. Was it twice as good a season?

  98. Time to dispel rumors:

    First of all, whether or not to believe Al Kaline, in this particular instance, is a matter of from whence one derives authority. Many of the people on this blog are, by nature skeptics, and derive authority from numbers, as they hold "objective" truth (whether or not they actually do is a metaphysical debate perhaps best saved for a different platform).

    Some others think that ultimate authority is and should be accorded to ballplayers and those who watch them. Those people are, by nature, less likely to be considered "skeptics" - though they are certainly skeptical of information that conflicts with their own source of authority.

    In other words, if a scientist says something is fundamentally true, the scientific community has two options: one is to take the study and verify it before further action. This corresponds to the group in the above paragraph. The second option is to take for granted that it is true and run with it, drawing other conclusions therefrom. Neither is inherently "good" or "bad," but they are VERY different worldviews, and lie at the center of the above debate. I feel it necessary to point this out, because some people in the first group can't understand why people in the second won't just listen to "reason," while people in the second don't understand why the first group reject what is "obviously" true. Really, when you look at it this way, it makes the whole thing kind of ludicrous.

    Second, @97, Carlton's season, as measured by WAR, was NOT twice as good McLain's. You're neglecting the "above REPLACEMENT" component; in other words, it's not above zero. Let's say I came up with a "stat" called "Home Runs Above 30 (HRA30)." All you do to find the answer is subtract 30 from a player's home run total. So, in 2010, Prince Fielder's score for HRA30 of 2. Jose Bautista had a score of 24. Does this mean that Jose Bautista hit 12 times as many home runs as Prince Fielder? No. It means he hit 12 times as many *once you factor in the 30 implicit in the statistics*, which is critical to understanding the difference. Therefore, Carlton's season was *not* twice as good, even as measured by WAR. Hope that helps, and sorry for the long post.

  99. @97
    Barkfart, I've already conceded that McLain's 1968 is underrated by WAR by at least 1 due to the fielding/UER issue. I've stated that its on par with Robin Roberts' better seasons.

    You're nitpicking statements like "a lot better" now? C'mon, all I meant say was that McLain-68 was a great and award-worthy season while Carlton-72 is on the short list of greatest pitching seasons of the live-ball era. But you know that.

    What's your point here? This isn't even a McLain-centric thread. Find a flukey fielding/UER issue for one player and use it as an excuse to throw the entire framework out the window? How valid is that logic? And you're preferred metric is MVP/CYA voting? It wouldn't be hard for me to find faulty instances of that metric now would it?

    Yes, a stat like WAR will result in as many questions as it answers. That's a good thing.

  100. #99 David.

    I hope you're not reading too much emotion/disrespect, etc in my posts. Honest. I love this site. We're all HUGE baseball fans who love to argue like we did when we were kids with our baseball cards. That's all it is.

    1. I don't think I was nitpicking about the phrase "a lot more". It has a mathematical meaning in it. Saying someone is "better" is one thing. Saying they're "way, way better" is very different.

    2. I never said I wanted to use a flukey stat to discredit WAR. I'm not a huge fan of WAR, but I'm still struggling to see it's place in the way I view the game.

    3. I laughed my ass off when you said; "how did this become a McLain thread?". C'mon, you're a veteran of this site. This thread is five days old and 100 posts deep. It could've become a Turkey Stearns thread by now.

    Thanks for the sparring, buddy.

    # 98. Dr. Doom

    I take exception with you saying stats are objective and firsthand accounts are not. The numbers that go into a WAR rating are objective, but the process that gave us the WAR formula is quite subjective.

  101. @100

    As to whether WAR is subjective, yes and no. On the one hand, it is subjective in that it is not something that happened, i.e., "Aaron Rowand hit a home run in the fourth inning." It is objective in the sense that it takes into account a number of different things and makes projections and averages, then simply sums them and divides by the run environment. Therefore, the number with which one is presented both IS and ISN'T "what actually happened." It is in the sense that WAR accounts for the individual batting events by summing them; it isn't in the sense that the runs are only "imaginary" because they're projected or estimated, based on what we know about baseball in general. The WAR calculation itself, then, is neither "objective" nor "subjective," but rather "mathematical." That's the best I can do right now, because my brain is a little fried from reading. Had I a little more energy, I would try to do better, but my mental "label-maker" is kind of shot.

    But you are probably right in that the objective/subjective diad was too simplistic, and imposing such a view was paternalistic. Perhaps a more elegant (and probably accurate) way of putting things as a duality would be quantitative/qualitative. Al Kaline's comment, in and of itself, could be view in both directions: one side wants to look at it as a qualitative statement, and the other immediately wants to quantify it. It's pretty much as simple as that, I think. And obviously, each side thinks its own way of handling the data is the right one.

  102. People might find this research by Dave Smith interesting: Demythologizing Dubious Memories Or: Do players really remember what they did?

    It is at

    http://www.retrosheet.org/Research/SmithD/Demythologizing%20Dubious%20Memories.pdf

  103. Interesting, Cyril. But to be fair to one of the players, Uecker said he hit Koufax very well. Well, for him, 7/38 with 2 2B and a homer is pretty good - particularly if you believe his shtick about how bad he was.

  104. It's a shame that Brown didn't at least stay on the ballot for a while. He does fall short in IMO though. Nice to see Bly and Alomar get in.Larkin will go in next year in a down year. Nice to see Raines get a nice bump, and I now think that Morris will very likely have to wait for Vets to send him in. I'm not saying I think he should get in, but I do think he eventually gets in. Lee continues to stagnate, and McGriff and PED users get no traction.

    Again, like Wins, WAR is perhaps the most overrated and underrated stat.

  105. Mike Felber Says:

    Those are great posts Dr. Doom! I am a quantitative guy, & do find the 1st approach better for the PURPOSE of getting at least closer to the truth. What do you do when 1st hand accounts have different opinions, & even, as above, disparate & incorrect recollections of the facts?

    Also, players are at least as prone to being impressed by misleading #s & conventional wisdom. D.M. had an excellent year, but '68 & the defense made it seem even better than it was. Especially then/an older player would more likely rate a year accumulating those #s as historically great for the love ball era-how many at that time were looking at defense. unearned runs, run support, or even pitching era carefully or at all?

  106. Dr. Doom, Uecker really *was* that bad. His greatest gift is his honesty.

  107. John Autin Says:

    Cyril @93 said: "We should not accept something as true just because a big league player said it."

    Chuck @96 replied: "Why not?"

    Chuck, I see many reasons not to blindly, unquestioningly accept as true any statement that does not come from a source that one personally knows to be reliable. And even then, I would never, ever turn off my own personal B.S. detector; if it doesn't sound right to me, and I can check it with other reliable sources, I will.

    As a certain president once said, "Trust, but verify."

    Many studies have proven just how unreliable eyewitness accounts are, in general, even immediately after the fact. And we know that memory degrades as the years go by; all sorts of details get lost, mixed up, spliced in from other memories.

    Over the years, I've read dozens of anecdotes recounted by respected players and other baseball men, which stories, despite having acquired over the years the weight of accepted truth in the baseball world, simply are not true in various important details. Rob Neyer addressed this in "The Big Book of Baseball Legends," excerpts of which he ran on his ESPN blog.

    Just this morning, I flipped on a sports radio station. The commentators were about to interview former Giants punter Sean Landeta on topics including the recent brouhaha over a Jets coach directing his players on the sideline to interfere with the opponent's punt coverage team. They said they had recently spoken with former special teams standout Steve Tasker, who said that such shenanigans had been quite common in his day, adding that Landeta had once deliberately tripped him while he was running down the sideline on a punt play. Then Landeta came on and denied everything; he said he never tripped Tasker, and further, that he had never seen a single instance of that kind of thing in his 20 or so years in the NFL.

    Someone has to be wrong there, no? So how did the commentators deal with that? They said that they hoped to review the game films of every game in which Landeta and Tasker faced off. It's not a lot of games, since the two men were in opposite conferences almost their whole careers, so the radio guys might actually follow through -- and if they do, I'd love to hear what they find. But meanwhile, until there is verfication, I'm suspending judgment.

    There are so many ways in which experience gets distorted, even falsified, on the road from event to memory to recollection. One of the most common examples is in the realm of frequency -- how often something happened. The primitive part of the human brain, which is far more involved in memory than one might think, tends to count like this: One ... two ... three ... many. If you pay close attention to your conversations for a week, you're likely to spot this effect: When speaking of something that has happened a number of times, people often express that number in terms that could not possibly be true: "I've been to that restaurant/bar/store hundreds of times." (Hundreds? The equivalent of once a month for over 16 years?) "I've watched thousands of Mets games." (Wow -- that's, like, 100 games a year for 20 years.) And it's not always hyperbole; unless they are consciously counting the events as they occur, people in general really don't have a reliable sense of how many times some ordinary thing has happened.

    So, when I hear former players talk about "all the times" that so-and-so ducked out of the lineup when such-and-such was pitching, I take that sort of thing with not a grain of salt, but a whole shaker -- because the odds are, it happened way less often than they say.

  108. The only reason it would have been fitting to elect John Franco this year would be so that the two biggest punks, him and Roberto Alomar, can share 1 stage and no one need attend.
    Simply put, unlike Goose , Sutter, Mariano Rivera, and Fingers, bringing Franco into a game put the thought that the game was now over into NO ONES mind. He was so far from automatic that often it really made no sense to bring him in...it was just a bad habit in the 90's ( and seemingly until this just past season) to give the ball to the guy you are paying , no matter his odds of succeeding.
    All that said, Trevor Hoffman can plan as many January vacations as he likes.... his phone wont be ringing either

  109. #104 Matt Y says

    "Again, like Wins, WAR is perhaps the most overrated and underrated stat."

    Hands-down, the greatest single nugget of wisdom EVER on this board.

  110. Charles Saeger Says:

    @104: For once, damn straight. Sabermetrics is becoming WARmetrics. It's a tool. A good tool. But it's not the only tool.

    Hey, watch the performance of that first-tier candidate Tino Martínez! He managed to get 150% of the vote total of that second-tier candidate John Olerud.

  111. Barkfart,

    I thought a long time before posting this. Some time ago I gave a detailed explanation showing how McLain's WAR was figured. You did not respond, but you continue to post comments in which you denigrate WAR while giving no details why we should find anything else better. The obvious conclusion is that your mind is made up, you don't really pay any heed to any evidence that challenges your world view. I don't have much respect for you, intellectually. I will try once more in a different way.

    The '68 Tigers had great defense, no position was bad and several, particularly CF and RF were great. As a strike out, fly ball pitcher this must have helped McLain. As a team the Tigers were close to 60 runs better than the average team on defense. Based on his innings pitched, McLain's share of this would be about 13 runs. I am going to take his actual 74 earned runs and add 11 of the 13 runs we think his defense saved him as earned runs. This raises his Defense Neutral ERA to 2.25. The league average was 2.98, add a little for Tiger Stadium being a slight hitters park and we have an adjusted figure just over 3. DNERA+ = league figure/individual figure*100 = 134. His actual ERA+ was 154, the difference being giving proper credit to the defense, not all credit to the pitcher. An ERA+ figure of 134 is good for a single season, but not great one at all. (DNERA+ would probably have a slight tendency to lower good results because those good ERA+ results were good partly because above average defense.)

    The biggest distorting factor in evaluating McLain's 1968 season is not the team's great defense, but McLain's fantastic run support. The Tigers lead the league in runs scored. When others were pitching they scored about 3.8 runs/9.
    When McLain was pitching his teammates scored about 5.15 runs/9. If he had had the same run support as his teammates, there would have been 50 runs fewer scored. McLain was not a good hitter for a pitcher, his OPS+ that year was 8. 50 runs better than the runs scored for his teammates may well be the greatest difference in history. (Is it possible to research this in PI?) Mclain's pitching was very good, not great. His defensive support was great. His run support was out of this world. His W/L record greatly distorts his value, his ERA Ignores the contributions of the Tigers' great defense, and ignores the context of the year of the pitcher.

    Carlton's '72 looks very similar on the surface, 10 more innings pitched with 3 more earned runs, more complete games and shutouts, but not many more. But Lefty did not have the superior defense or fantastic run support. Carlton also pitched in a home park that was farther above average for hitters than did Denny. However the biggest difference was the league context. In 1968 AL an average of 3.41 runs/game were scored. In 1972 NL that was up to 3.91. Steve's ERA+ was a league leading 182. Since his team defense was just about exactly average I would make no noticeable changes to get his DNERA+.
    82% above average is vastly better than 35% above. Oh, don't forget the strike in 1972, the Phillies only played 156 games, while the Tigers actually played 163. Carlton may have missed 2 starts.

    So, yes WAR is correct in saying that McLain's '68 was very good but not historical, and Carlton's '72 was historical.

    If your comment in #109 was meant seriously, it just demonstrates your ignorance and prejudice.

  112. KDS

    First of all, there are many people- myself included- who get all glassy eyed at 1000 word responses. Brevity has real value. I didn't mean that as a disrespect. I swear it.

    I've chewed the bone over the McLain season with so many people, and you guys tear apart the numbers over and over, but everyone refuses to acknowledge the one point I keep mentioning.

    He was the unanimous Cy Young and MVP. It's so rare for a pitcher to be an MVP and no ones ever been double unanimous. Every single voter called his season one of the most dominant ever. Sidestep that one for me. They were all wrong, and Luis Tiant was actually the best pitcher in the AL.

  113. #110 Charles.

    Remember, the wisdom of Matt's statement was that wins are both important and overrated, AND WAR is both important and overrated.

  114. Yes Tiant was probably a better pitcher, and Freehan was probably the most valuable Tiger. The voters in 1968 erred. They did not account for the teams great defense, and they did not account for the historically great run support that McLain had. If we eliminate these outside factors, we come up with a W/L record of about 23-14, good but not great. What got him 8 more wins and 8 fewer losses was his teammates, not him. The voters missed this, looking mostly at numbers that are not useful out of the proper context.

  115. Sure KDS,

    Just ignore that the voters saw them play. Every single one of them was wrong, and you don't even need to bother to actually see a player to judge his talent. Why bother sending scouts out anymore to judge young players, just look at the stats.

    I wonder why people like you even love baseball. If seeing the game isn't the most important thing then... oh never mind. It's just a waste of time with people like you.

    Oh, by the way. You old enough to have ever seen McLain pitch?

  116. Mike Felber Says:

    Barkfart, you are just not being rational or fair. I will be brief for you:

    1) Your point was addressed many times. In explaining extremely well why everyone WAS wrong that year in voting Denny the best player OR pitcher in the game. You have been given great evidence, qualitatively & quantitatively, why & how folks make these kinds of errors routinely in baseball, & in life. You have answered none of them in any meanningful way.

    2) Kds's last long post was under 1/2 of 1,000 words. It was relevant, clear, & detailed. It is the deficit & problem of many people, especially is this ADD age, when they cannot focus on intelligent & accessible arguments. To read & understand this should NOT take very long, & it is much shorter than a brief article.

    3) Then he gave you the outline of his case in under 100 words.

    4) Seeing things in person may be very valuable for some purposes: but you have tremendous evidence that when observations contradict reasoning, often due to ignorance about context, reputation, selection bias...It is foolish to trust uninformed impressions & prejudices. MEMORY is PROVED often wrong. Even eye witness accounts.

    5) We would not have gotten very far as a species, certainly not in the last century when technology & science have exploded, absent showing patience, intellectual rigor, & humility about conventional wisdom & our biases.

    6) Seeing the game is important for many reasons, including most of the emotional & meaningful ways to enjoy a sport. Unmediated & never corrected by reasoning, it is a terrible way to make objective & correct judgments about things like who was/is better.

    7) You have no cause to wonder why we love baseball. Or that we do not enjoy it on many levels, as much as you or anyone. That is, to be kind, an uninformed & insulting "impression" you have.

  117. C'mon mike.

    It's not insulting and demeaning or whatever. For real, we're just a bunch of blowhards who love to argue about our favorite game. For real. It isn't hatred that keeps a post going this long- it's love. We're friends, and we enjoy giving each other the business.

    But at the end of the day, you know that neither of us is going to change each other's view. It's all good.

    One last thing about McLain that can't be measured unless you saw it. McLain started one quarter of his team's games. The Tigers were, handsdown, the best team in baseball. And they stood on McLain's shoulders. That's one of the truly valid criteria for the CY and MVP.

    You can't just waive off the decisions of those voters- every single one of them.

  118. Johnny Twisto Says:

    you know that neither of us is going to change each other's view

    That's an unfortunate attitude.

  119. "What got him 8 more wins and 8 fewer losses was his teammates, not him."

    Noooooooooooooooo!

    Really?

    And all this time I though pitchers were single handedly responsible for whether or not their teams won.

  120. Mike Felber Says:

    Barkfart, you are very imprecise. Your assumptions about Kds were not kind or reasonable. It is not "we": I specifically cited what you said that seems insulting. Usually on this web site folks are polite & not ad hominem. Though there are obvious exceptions. Also, while some can act as innocent "blowhards", clearly looong threads on numerous sites are kept alive, by, or with, acrimony or even hate. Numerous message boards & sports sites show this.

    There are many times when folks good naturedly "take the piss" out of one another. There are also many times where comments do not SEEM, & are often not intended, to be in this decent spirit. And some who lie to themselves about whether they start going down the nasty or petty road. I commented on the impression you left, whatever your intent.

    Usually folks do not change their opinions. The best of us sometimes do, when confronted with evidence-at least about individuated facts. So I challenge the illogic in your response:

    You said one last thing about McClain you cannot measure unless you saw it. You actually mentioned several, but NONE of them meets your claim that you need to have been there to measure it!

    1) D.M. starting 1/4 of his team's games.

    2) The Tigers easily being the best team in baseball.

    3) That they allegedly stood on McClain's shoulders: That you would not need to be there to see, & in fact is NOT TRUE! That phrase implies literally that he is the main reason they won. You may say "of course I do not mean that literally". But even less exactingly: we SEE roughly how much he helped them, & how much he was helped by run support & defense. Above you see that he may have been double dinged for something: removing that demerit, it seems like he could amount to about 7.0 wins over a replacement pitcher VERY GOOD: not near the best in baseball that year.

    Lastly: you are correct that I cannot just "waive off" the decisions of all the voters that year. Which means dismiss out of hand, absent carefull consideration. But we can & do say that they both:

    1) Could have all been completely wrong, &

    2) The evidence VERY CONVINCINGLY shows that they were completely wrong, as reviewed ad nauseum.

    3) Ever take introduction to logic? It is a basic logical fallacy that because something is widely believed it is true, or even more LIKELY to be so!

  121. OK, how about this Mike...

    I could point out some of your remarks in your last post and point them out as downright condescending. As to whether or not I took "I took introduction to logic", if we're going to introduce our educational pedigrees as backbone for your arguments... I have no fear whatsoever. What that has to do with baseball, I am at a loss.

    I've been thinking about my last post a lot. You noticed that they chose to call the award Most Valuable Player- not "Best Player of the Year". Indulge me a moment.

    I am, if you haven't guessed- a HUGE lifetime Tigers fan. Last year, a lot of people floated Miquel Cabrera for MVP. Damn he had a great year! But for many of my younger years, people talked about MVP as "most valuable"; as in "what would that team have been like without that player? Whether or not you think it a decent criteria, it WAS an important criteria for decades.

    So, let's look at last year's Tigers without Cabrera. With him, they we 81-81. Without him, what would they be? Not much worse.

    Mike, look at those 68 Tigers without Denny McLain. What would they have been without him? So far from the year's best team it wouldn't even be funny.

    Can I- and those like me- ever convince you to abandon WAR and consider arguments like that for voting MVP? I don't think so. But the truth of the matter is that the award was considered like that for decades. Why else did Babe Ruth only win one MVP? The voters said; "don't be so selfish, you already won one". He didn't get a single vote in his 60 HR season.

    Think about it.

    P.S. When you ask about my stats background, I don't take it personally. I DO look at intent, and brush it off and say; "hey, that's just baseball guys bustin each others balls"

    P.S.S. at a time when the popularity of baseball is waning among the young, people like you and I are the ones blowing passion on the flames of this great game. We are bretheren. At least I think it that way.

    I love this website

  122. P.S. It would be better if you didn't point out the dark irony of a post so long after I blasted DKS for his long-windedness.

  123. Mike's argument about Denny would certainly carry more weight if he could spell "McLain".

  124. And Chuck's nitpicking of Mike's misspelling "McLain" might carry more weight if he knew that "single-handedly" is hyphenated (@119), or that "box scores" is two words (@96), or that "pouring over" is something you do with a liquid, whereas "poring over" is the careful reading of a text (@78 here http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/9610).

    On second thought, it probably wouldn't carry more weight, because I don't think anyone else here considers spelling relevant to reasoning.

    I'm a spelling-and-grammar savant. It hasn't seemed to make me my arguments more persuasive.

    By the way, "McLain" is not the easiest spelling to remember. I found at least a dozen variants on in a Google search -- some with two c's, some that start with "Mac," some with a space after "Mc," some with the ending "-ane." I'm a Tigers fan (since '69, alas), and even I have to check my spelling of Denny's name sometimes.

  125. Mike Felber Says:

    Thanks John. Since this is not a graded or professional assignment, if I have a typo or misspelling it does not mean much. Chuck & I have been fightin' it out elsewhere though, & I think he just wants to tweak me!

    Go ahead Barkfart, point out what you think if condescending. And i will show you point by point how I was reasonably addressing the logical validity of what you said, including your suppositions about ht conclusions can be drawn from evidence, what counts as good evidence, & why. Also, critiquing your tone-even charitably assuming you could have intended no insult, but how it sounded- is not in itself condescending.

    I also did not post about "irony" long after you did-but there is nothing better about it if it was separated by 200 posts, rather than very few. This is when i saw it, & you saw it, so the message came across.

    I do not see me asking specifically about your stats background above. But even if I had, that would not be me "busting your balls". You assume a stereotypical bonhomie-that would be harmless & fine, but you are plugging in a paradigm that is not a fit. It would me just wondering about your knowledge of stats, &/or questioning your competency at them. Not ball busting, not insulting, just exploring the point.

    You did not address almost all of what I wrote in my last post. Which were specific claims you made that were factually wrong, like the several things I enumerated which you falsely claimed one must be there to know. How many games Denny started, that they were easily the best team in baseball: those were factually mistaken, & your credibility would rise, as well as our respect for your attention to detail & strength in acknowledging the obvious, if you admitted these obvious things.

    Again, stating this is absent rancor, & not slightly condescending.

    Neither did you need to be there to claim that the Tigers "stood on his shoulders". I am saying that being there, absent looking at things like run & defensive support, habitually got men to make the WRONG conclusions.

    Saying that the Tigers were far & away better than any other team that year, & then elsewhere that without him they would be "so far from the year's best team wouldn't even be funny", is an extremely implausible claim. That statement implies they would be no better than mediocre. There is no way a good team can be "so far from the best it is not even funny". Or they could have been awful losing 100 + games-between mediocre & historically bad are the only sensible assumptions re: what your words would mean.

    Think carefully about that. I have no reason to think WAR is not close in his case that year (though have challenged WAR at other times, & especially think we need to hash out the often HUGE differences between the conclusions of different WAR formulas).

    But just how many extra wins do you think ANY one player could bring a team? In the modern era, even Ruth could not add 15 full wins in his best season according to WAR, & he was the greatest outlier re: player compared to his peers, & played MOST EVERY GAME. I am SURE you would not claim that McLain added that many games...But let us assume you added 10, which is about as good as Pedro's best year ever (who had the lowest ERA + ever compared to the league).

    You cannot be tremendously better than every other team, & one player taken away would make you no better than fair or terrible. That could be true if a great pitcher could pitch every other game, minimum! The #s do not work out any other way. Replace McLain with a replacement pitcher, War says about 6, above we say maybe 7, more wins would be sacrificed. That is an excellent year, & it is partly due to IP. t figuring in the defensive & run support, CLEARLY if we reduced those to league average, his W-L record would be significantly less. So even for '68 (when pitchers dominated) his season would be seen as very good, not so unusually great.

    Would that make them that comedically far from the best team in baseball?

  126. Mike Felber Says:

    About MVP: I have thought about that for years, & posted on another site something like this recently:

    Basically, that I disagree with the most conventional tropes about picking an MVP. Dissecting the words, "valuable", it is ASSUMED that this must mean what final prize an excellent player can help a team gain. But logically, there is no reason to privilege this interpretation over how much value a player can add to any team. It is a decades long assumption that the former is the intent of "MVP", or should be.

    So IF Cabrera added more wins than a star who was lucky enough to be on a team that was good enough to hit the post season with him, then normally Miguel should be our man. Now, if the players are really close, &/or if the latter guy plays better down the stretch in a close race, I would give it to him. Not that every game does not count equally, but it is harder to produce under pressure 9though whether one produces better in any few games can be random, I still will give him some credit, since it could be good nerves too).

    Great teams & their players get plenty of awards anyway: MVP & the like should be overwhelmingly for the best individual player. Regarding Ruth, & guys like, Mays, Mantle, Williams...Not giving a player an award due to being "tired" of it, or wanting a new story line, or other teams stories & success...Is just wrong. These guys deserved something like 6- 8 MVPs each, Ruth arguably 11.

    And if they are the best-save perhaps it is very close & a guy excels in a crucial pennant run-they should get them all.

  127. John @ #124,

    Can you provide us all with your personal email address so we may have you edit our comments before posting?

    Thanks!!

  128. "Chuck & I have been fightin' it out elsewhere though"

    We have?

    News to me.

  129. "But just how many extra wins do you think ANY one player could bring a team?"

    Great question, Mike.

    The truth is there is no way to know, and using things like WAR and DNERA+ could hardly be seen as "compelling" or "convincing" evidence.

  130. Mike Felber Says:

    Whaddya mean Chuck? You write articles for dugoutcentral.com, I did one, but mainly for several years now we have been discussing & debating thing there, with you sometimes getting....upset with comments made by me & others. Just recently saying you do not give a bleep what I think there....

    There is no way to know exactly, the question is how often metrics that purport to well estimate the wins that a player adds (or subtracts) are very accurate, fairly accurate, or not at all so. Whether they are or not is a long discussion-you are more on the extreme end re: thinking they have shown (& are not likely to have), no good resemblance to the truth. I find WAR reasoning pretty good here, though something like defense is sometimes suspect. Though when we look at the degree of value that can be added by defense in most all cases, it is not the degree of uncertainty that batting flaws would have. There are other questions to, about pitching, the value of a walk in different systems of WAR is a BIG question, & other things concerning what goes into the different formulas.

    And that is my biggest objection. I lobby for a thread where not only the disparate methods of WAR-makin' are listed-which would take up several lines in a link-& the salient differences explained-but most crucially: HOW do we know whether this Web Site's WAR is best, worst, better or worse depending upon the player's profile, or somewhere in between? They sometimes vary greatly.

    If WAR is considered to have any importance, when a site like this gives it enormous prominence in figuring player value, & commenters here also routinely use it to figure player peak & career value, we should have a detailed discussion so folks can either come to some consensus, see what problems remain that need to be worked out, or come to their own conclusions, provisional or more definitively, of what WAR to use, or how to adjust each version.

    But even a 5% difference is significant, 10% is large, but even 25% & 33% variations in player valuations between the systems are not uncommon!

  131. John Autin Says:

    Barkfart @121 asked: "Why else did Babe Ruth only win one MVP? The voters said; "don't be so selfish, you already won one". He didn't get a single vote in his 60 HR season."

    It's true that Ruth got no votes. Nevertheless, it's obvious that Barkfart completely misunderstands what happened -- or else he is deliberately ignoring the facts in order to bolster his argument.

    First, the "Most Valuable Player Award" did not exist until 1931; the award that went to Lou Gehrig in 1927 was the League Award, which in the AL ran from 1922-28. But let's call that a technicality. The real issue is, why didn't Ruth get any votes?

    See, the League Award had different rules than the MVP Award we know now. And one of those rules, in the AL, was that no one was eligible to win it more than once.

    Of course, knowing the complete history of the major awards is no prerequisite for posting here, nor for making a compelling argument. But I'm really surprised that Barkfart could get hold of the fact that Ruth got no votes in 1927, despite his record 60 HRs, and not have alarm bells go off in his head that would drive him to find out why. The voting shown on B-R for the '27 award lists 25 different players. Not one vote for Ruth??? Come on -- how can you buy that? Doesn't it defy credulity to think that Slim Harriss, Jack Rothrock and Phil Todt got votes, but none went to the league's best hitter, who was also on one of the best teams ever? (Ruth: 356 BA, 60 HRs, led the league in runs, walks, OBP and SLG, as usual. Yanks: 110-44, won the AL by 19 games.)

    With this understanding of the '27 vote, let's go back to Barkfart's full paragraph, which I excerpted at the top of my post:

    "Can I- and those like me- ever convince you to abandon WAR and consider arguments like that for voting MVP? I don't think so. But the truth of the matter is that the award was considered like that for decades. Why else did Babe Ruth only win one MVP? The voters said; "don't be so selfish, you already won one". He didn't get a single vote in his 60 HR season." (emphasis added)

    The fact that Barkfart was led so far astray by the voting record undercuts his entire argument. To put it bluntly, you can't very well lecture people about what the awards meant in decades past if you not only don't know the history, but aren't even curious enough to pursue such a puzzling lead as Ruth getting no votes in '27.

    You can read more about the history of the MVP awards here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_League_Baseball_Most_Valuable_Player_Award

    B-R's MVP page is here; I wish it had a link to some text explaining the gaps in the chronology and the rules for the Chalmers and League Awards.
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/mvp_cya.shtml

  132. Johnny Twisto Says:

    So, let's look at last year's Tigers without Cabrera. With him, they we 81-81. Without him, what would they be? Not much worse. .... look at those 68 Tigers without Denny McLain. What would they have been without him? So far from the year's best team it wouldn't even be funny. ... Can I- and those like me- ever convince you to abandon WAR and consider arguments like that for voting MVP?

    Why wouldn't the Tigers have been much worse without Cabrera? Because there is no difference between 60 wins, dead last, and .500?

    The '68 Tigers won the league by 12 games. Are you saying that without McLain they would have been, say, 20 games worse?

    Those aren't arguments for voting for MVP, they are opinions, and not opinions with any solid foundation.

    And come on....John A. is right, your Babe Ruth MVP argument is really painful.

  133. The bottom line about '68 is that McLain received insane run support. 5.2 runs per game in that offensive environment is unbelievable. No other pitchers in the majors had more than 4.9. McLain ranked 1/84 out of all starting pitchers in the Major Leagues that year. Put that together with good Tigers defense and that explains his 30 win season.

    It doesn't mean McLain pitched mediocre baseball he actually pitched great baseball. It just means his 30 win season is an overrated season in terms of his Cy Young & MVP and legendary status. His 5.9 WAR more correctly reflects the type of season he had, great season but not legendary.

    Tiant by comparison finished 48/84 in run support.

    Gibson finished 61/84 in run support. Any kind of decent run support in '68 and Gibson would have won 30 games.

    Dick Ellsworth finished 24/35 in the AL ERA title in 1968 but was able to win 16 games because he finished second, 2/84 in the majors in run support.

  134. Chuck @127 -- I'd be willing to discuss that arrangement. But since you're a big-time writer and all, I'd have to charge you.

  135. Jumping back into the McLain thread ... I do agree that his '68 season tends to be somewhat overrated; after all, he was 4th in the AL in both raw ERA and ERA+, with Tiant way better in ERA+ (186-154).

    But McLain did dominate in at least one area: His 336 IP led the AL by a large margin -- 44 more than #2 (Chance), 57 more than #3, and 78 more than Tiant. It was the highest AL total in 22 years, highest in MLB in 13 years. His 28 CG was almost 50% more than the next guys.

    McLain carrying such a heavy workload helped the Tigers overcome the fact that they had no other very good starters that year. Earl Wilson had a 106 ERA+ in 224 IP, Mickey Lolich a 96 ERA+ in 220 IP, and Joe Sparma an 82 ERA+ in 182 IP.

    All Tigers starters other than McLain combined for a 3.28 ERA and 6.17 IP per start. McLain had a 1.96 ERA and averaged 8.20 IP per start. McLain took a lot of pressure off of a bullpen that really went just 3 deep in quality, and with 2 of those guys chipping in a combined 22 starts.

  136. sorry, I've been busy for days, but @104 && @109........totally, amen!!

  137. @81, I'm sure, as with one of my previous comments, in another thread (in which, which referred to something as being "garbage") you didn't really mean that I "stole" your HMMPMP Index.......LOL
    if many a common man is asking for it, maybe the time has come, for such a thing!!

  138. oops, sorry, in 137, I meant "(in which, I.....)"
    still tired from the workweek:)