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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 View Original Table
Generated 1/5/2011.

I just don't get it.

138 Responses to “HOF Ballot Insanity”

  1. Dr. Doom Says:


    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.

  2. Cyril Morong Says:

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

    It is at

  3. Dr. Doom Says:

    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.

  4. Matt Y Says:

    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.

  5. 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?

  6. Mr. Dave Says:

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

  7. 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.

  8. tess6045 Says:

    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 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

  9. barkfart Says:

    #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.

  10. 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.

  11. kds Says:


    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.

  12. barkfart Says:


    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.

  13. barkfart Says:

    #110 Charles.

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

  14. kds Says:

    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.

  15. barkfart Says:

    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?

  16. 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.

  17. barkfart Says:

    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.

  18. Johnny Twisto Says:

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

    That's an unfortunate attitude.

  19. Chuck Says:

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



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

  20. 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!

  21. barkfart Says:

    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

  22. barkfart Says:

    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.

  23. Chuck Says:

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

  24. John Autin Says:

    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

    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.

  25. 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?

  26. 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.

  27. Chuck Says:

    John @ #124,

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


  28. Chuck Says:

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

    We have?

    News to me.

  29. Chuck Says:

    "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.

  30. Mike Felber Says:

    Whaddya mean Chuck? You write articles for, 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!

  31. 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:

    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.

  32. 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.

  33. John Q Says:

    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.

  34. John Autin Says:

    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.

  35. John Autin Says:

    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.

  36. Nash Bruce Says:

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

  37. Nash Bruce Says:

    @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!!

  38. Nash Bruce Says:

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