Comments on: POLL: Trevor Hoffman and the Hall of Fame This and that about baseball stats. Tue, 16 Jul 2013 17:01:55 +0000 hourly 1 By: Eqshamu Fri, 21 Jan 2011 07:36:12 +0000 Cough Cough, several people have aluded to Mel ott and his 511 homers and all. Well, let's be clear on the fact that his HoF crederntials did not solely rely on 500 homers to say the least. Even if 511 Homer runs when he retired came short only to Ruth's and Foxx' totals.
Sure 60+ years later you look at just the numbers outside their context and they look run of the mill in this Atomic baseball era, with musclebound hulks that rely exclusively on their multimillion dollar contracts to pay the bills in the offseason and leave them plenty of time to chug "vitamins"and train constantly.
He only once ht 40 home runs after all. late 90s early 2000s, 20 peaople did that every year probably. In his case however, it was plenty of power to earn him 6 Homer Run titles, quick math tells me thats a more exclusive club than the 50 homer or maybe even 60 homer club.
He lead the NL in walks 7 times, and OBA a handful of times too. He was no Ruth, Gherigh, Hornsby, Foxx.... (could take a while to go through that list) but he was definitely not a just some bloke who happened to amass tha needed 500 homers and comparing his extraordinary career to Hoffman who happened to be a very good closer yet never THE closer of his time in ANY year he played, well , thats just a crime.
Not to say that Hoffman may not deserve his HoF berth if he gets it at some point. I suppose it will all come down to if 20 nickels is as good a 10 dimes in his case.
How some people decided that Ott's 511 homer was a good point of comparison for Hoffman's 600 saves beats me.

By: Who was better – Don Mattingly or John Olerud? » Baseball-Reference Blog » Blog Archive Tue, 18 Jan 2011 12:11:58 +0000 [...] our recent Trevor Hoffman Hall of Fame post, some readers got into a debate about which player--Don Mattingly or John Olerud--had the [...]

By: John Autin Mon, 17 Jan 2011 06:09:59 +0000 @169, Barkie -- I would be very surprised to learn that Trevor Hoffman reads these threads, so I don't think we're really interfering with his victory lap. 🙂

By: John Autin Mon, 17 Jan 2011 06:05:50 +0000 @166 Kds -- That fact you posted about Wilhelm is one of my all-time favorite oddball facts: Out of 21 seasons, Wilhelm spent just one as a regular starter -- and led the league in ERA! His career line as a SP includes 52 starts with a 2.68, 20 CG, 5 shutouts and an average of 7-1/3 IP per start.

Doesn't it make you wonder why he wasn't used more often as a starter?

In response to one of your questions, I don't think anyone but Wilhelm has won an ERA title working solely in relief, but Mark Eichhorn came close in 1986; he had 157 IP, and his 1.72 ERA would have led both leagues by a large margin. Helluva rookie year (14-6 record with 10 saves), but he ran just 3rd in the ROY vote, behind Canseco and Joyner.

By: barkie Mon, 17 Jan 2011 01:48:13 +0000 Gotta admit it, Jim Heyman really hit the Trevor Hoffman thing on the head.

If you read his SI piece; Appreciating Trevor Hoffman, he does point well to a world unmeasurable by things like WAR.

Also, he's right. Let the guy revel in his retirement lap for a while before we pounce on his legacy.

By: Michael E Sullivan Sun, 16 Jan 2011 13:04:10 +0000 If you put Hoffman into the hall, it's hard not to seriously consider Wagner also, which would give you 8 relief pitchers in the hall. This is a hall that has only 13 catchers, 3 of whom were dubious selections.

I'm starting to get uncomfortable, even though I voted yes for Hoffman and have been assuming he belongs since I started thinking about him.

Ok, on the other hand, you can probably use save conversion rate and IP under very similar usage to distinguish hoffman from Wagner. And a couple of extant relievers in the hall don't really belong, so maybe it's 5 guys. Still seems like a lot for a position that pitches so little.

Even though I hate arguments like this, John Q? made a point about wagner and precedent that has stuck with me. His WPA and FIP stats are up in hoffman range, but more traditional stats are less impressive, and unlike Hoffman, if current closer usage patterns don't change much, his save total is quite likely to be matched by a ton of guys who are nowhere near HoF borderline caliber.

I suppose that also means Wagner won't get in, as the same folks who would be in danger of using him as a bad precedent, won't understand why he's almost as good as Hoffman.

Even 5 relievers seems like a lot to me, but that said, the WPA totals suggest that at least these cream of the crop guys really did provide as much value as a lot of HoF players.

By: Pat Sat, 15 Jan 2011 23:13:51 +0000 @ 160: "Prime is not cherry-picked seasons over a prolonged period. It's how good was he really, doing the best we can to remove the luck that goes into a single year's statistics, at his very best."

WTF? Because Olerud put up an 8.1 WAR season at 24 before having 3 years where he struggled with health and then put up 5.2, 8.2, 5.3, 3.5, 5.2 and 5.1 WAR seasons I'm cherry picking? At his best Olerud was capable of putting up 8 WAR and consistently putting up 5+ WAR seasons. As I posted, his prime exceeded Mattingly's. ymmv, but there was no cherry picking involved. And, yes, prime is over a prolonged period. It's different than peak, which is all Mattingly had.

By: kds Sat, 15 Jan 2011 08:21:11 +0000 Note that Hoyt Wilhelm had one full season as a starter and started less than a seasons worth in other years. In that one year he led the league in ERA and ERA+. This was 1959 when there were many fewer career relievers and a lot more people still believed that a reliever was a failed starter. He also led the league, (the other league), in ERA and ERA+ in 1952, his rookie season. All of his appearances that year were in relief. Has anyone else ever led the league in ERA pitching only in relief. tough to qualify. (Those 2 years were the only years Wilhelm qualified, even though he pitched until he was 48. (Of course he was a 29 year old rookie.))(Who else has led the league in ERA in both of the major leagues?)

I could see an argument that the proper HOF line for relievers lies just below Rivera, and that he will qualify, but no one else, including Hoffman has yet.

By: John Autin Sat, 15 Jan 2011 07:48:45 +0000 Looking at Hoffman's stats, it occurred to me that he might become first HOF pitcher who never started a single game in the majors. But no; Sutter never started, either.

Interestingly, Sutter was a reliever from day one in the minor leagues -- back in 1972. He made only 2 starts in the minors, out of 116 games.

Just looking around at names that come to mind....

-- Kent Tekulve began his pro career as a starter, in 1969 (7 starts in 9 games), and seems to have done very well in that role, with a season ERA of 1.70 that year. But they switched him to exclusive relief the next year, anyway. He never started in the majors.

-- Goose Gossage began his pro career as a starter. In his second year in the minors, 1971 in A ball, Goose went 18-2, 1.83, and averaged 7.5 IP per game. He spent all of '72 in the majors, making 35 relief appearances before his first big-league start at the very end of the year, which was an unmitigated disaster: 3 IP, 13 hits, 9 ER, 3 walks. That one game shot his ERA from 3.39 to 4.28, in a season of 80 IP; as a reliever, he had allowed just 59 hits in 77 IP. He was up & down between majors & minors in '73, mostly starting in the minors and mostly relieving in the big leagues; his MLB era was 7.43 in '73 and 4.13 in '74 (and by the way, his combined K rate for those first 3 years was a modest 6.3 K/9). It was only in '75, working exclusively in relief, that Gossage finally burst through with a great year -- 142 IP, 1.84 ERA, MLB-high 26 saves. So naturally, in '76, the White Sox made him a starter again. Those would be the last starts he ever made.

-- Rollie Fingers was a SP throughout his 4-year minor-league career.

-- Sparky Lyle was a starter in his first pro season, but switched to relieving in year 2 and never did start a big-league game.

-- The first pitcher to have a long career without ever starting a game was Bob Locker, 1965-75. Locker appeared in 576 games, all in relief. He was a starter throughout his minor-league career, and a good one, with a 2.58 ERA in 485 IP; in his final year on the farm, Locker hurled 226 innings and fanned 178. But when the White Sox brought him up in '65, he pitched out of the bullpen only. Locker was a member of Oakland's first two division champs (and first World Champion), then was dealt to the Cubs for Billy North. He had an excellent year for the Cubs in '73, going 10-6 with 18 saves and a 2.54 ERA in 106 IP -- yet the Cubs swapped him back to Oakland after the season for a reliever named Horacio Pina. He missed all of '74, I guess with an injury, and at the end of that season the A's traded him ... back to the Cubs, along with Darold Knowles and Manny Trillo, for an aging Billy Williams. Locker pitched poorly for the Cubs and was released in June, his career over at age 37.

By: John Autin Sat, 15 Jan 2011 07:13:27 +0000 @164, DM: "whatever you think the baseline for closers is or should be, [Hoffman is] clearly over it."

I think what some people are saying -- though not I -- is that there is no baseline for "closers" to be in the HOF, as a simple matter of innings pitched. The Hoffman discussion isn't so much about whether he's one of the very best closers ever, but whether closers as a group should even get a "seat at the table."

I think they should, and I cast my vote for Hoffman. Even if he was a failed starter. (JOKE)