Comments on: Ichiro’s career hits This and that about baseball stats. Tue, 16 Jul 2013 17:01:55 +0000 hourly 1 By: Johnny Twisto Fri, 01 Oct 2010 16:49:03 +0000 Dizzy Dean would qualify as a type C as well.

Joe Jackson is not in the HOF, of course.

By: bob sawyer Fri, 01 Oct 2010 15:24:04 +0000 We have gotten way off topic but I think a final post might be appropriate.
There are three legitimate reasons why a player manager umpire or executive deserves HOF induction. a
a) They changes baseball for the better in a lasting way.
b) They sustained exellence for an unusually long time.
c) They achieved a level of Historicall unusual excellence for three or more seasons.

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

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

By: bob sawyer Fri, 01 Oct 2010 14:18:34 +0000 Koufax's career pattern is absolutely unigue. #1 He not only retired at the top, he retired after what was arguably his greatest season. #2 Koufax's 1966 season (or 1965 or 1963) appeared to be was the greatest season any pitcher had between 1946 and 1972(exclusive) and possible the greatest as far back as 1931. #3 Although he had been in the Majors for 12 years, he was only 30 years old in 1966, meaning that in 1967 he would have been in his prime. #4 The injury that forced him out of the game was not directly baseball-related and was considered an incurable condition at the time.

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

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

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

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

By: Bryan Thu, 30 Sep 2010 02:30:47 +0000 #95 - Scott F, Koufax was probably pitching in a lot of pain all along. I don't think his arm suddenly starting bothering him in 1966 and forced his retirement. Besides, the Dodgers weren't babying him... Koufax had 27 complete games in both 1965 and 1966... no pitcher has completed as many as 10 games in a season since 1999 (Randy Johnson). Koufax pitched a 10 inning shutout in 1965 and an 11 inning complete game in 1966. We'll never see anyone do that again. The Dodgers weren't interested in "saving" Koufax's arm by having him pitch 5 or 6 innings at a time. They wanted him to go 9 every time, or retire...those were his choices. Most healthy pitchers today aren't allowed to go more than 7 innings, and most can't last even that long.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By: Scott F Wed, 29 Sep 2010 23:26:32 +0000 Sandy Koufax cost the Dodgers a bunch of wins after 1966 by being a quitter. He still could have pitched effectively. He should have been tough and pitched through the pain. Joe McGinnity was no quitter, he was still playing professional baseball when he was 54 years old, 23 years after the age that Koufax quit. That alone makes McGinnity 10 times the pitcher that Koufax was.

By: Mark R. Wed, 29 Sep 2010 23:21:35 +0000 Sandy Koufax was only good for an extremely short period of time. He is barely a borderline HOFer. If they aren't going to elect Tony Mullane, Bob Caruthers, and Bert Blyleven, then Koufax should be booted right out of the Hall.

By: Mark R. Wed, 29 Sep 2010 23:16:18 +0000 The Keltner test is one way to get a bead on potential candidates but it is not really the only thing you should look at. When James was making up the test, he never thought to consider minor league performances, because minor league stats were not part of the debate-- until now. The Keltner test is irrelevant for any player who piled up a long stint in the minor leagues because you must consider a player's entire career to get a true evaluation. Bill James also has a scale in which he defines HOF candidates in a slightly different way. McGinnity and Ichiro would both qualify at least as "definition D" HOFers-- guys who had great longevity (if you include minors, and I do) and performed at a fairly good and consistent level. This site does not have McGinnity's complete minor league record. It was actually more impressive than the partial stats that are listed here.

By: Bryan Wed, 29 Sep 2010 02:14:24 +0000 @ bob sawyer #91 -

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

Couple of things I wanted to point out...

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

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

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

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

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

By: bob sawyer Tue, 28 Sep 2010 14:50:34 +0000 Much of the Keltner List cannot be applied to McGinnitty but part of it can. All of it can be applied to Ichiro
1.Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?
2. Was he the best player on his team?
3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?
Based on his numbers in 1900-04 it is probable that some people brieefly regarded McGinnity as the Most Valuable player in the game. His pitching was at nearly the same level as Cy Young and he was doing it in the stronger of the two leagues. McGinnitie's reputation suffers from the fact that in 1905 Christi Mathewson established himself as the Best Pitcher in Baseball and so for the last 4 years McGinnity was not the best player on his team. Not even close.
Ichiro passes 2 & 3. Bust basically nobody would take Ichior over Bonds or Pujols.
4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?
MgGinnity is a yes on this one, with the Caveat that his sore arm in 1908 lead to the giants defeat.
UNless we look at Japanese Pennent races, the answer for Ichiro so far is NO.
5. Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?
This is where the minor league stuff comes in. McGinnity left the Majors and pitched regularly for another decade, and yet aside from the innings count and pitching a lot of double headers, he was not a dominating force in the minor leaguess

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

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

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

By: Bryan Tue, 28 Sep 2010 10:34:38 +0000 Mike Felber#89 - re: your point that "... Awards & all star games are so often given out for irrational reasons, like being on the right team, considering context dependent stats instead of what a player actually did, & myriad other emotional biases & ignorance..."

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

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