Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Hall of Fame snub

Hall of Fame votes are in and only Andre Dawson made it in. Bert Blylevin is ripped off again. But he is within 10 votes.

Jayson Stark cast his vote for his Hall of So-So Players, and posted it on-line at ESPN. He voted for 10 guys. All 10 that he was allowed to vote for. That is crazy. I am not sure what Jayson was thinking.

It appears that Stark thinks you just have to be better than the others at your position during your time to make the Hall of Fame (the other guys at ESPN all seem to have the same attitude). Clearly that is his main criteria, which confuses the Hall of Fame with the All Star game. And not surprisingly All Star Games and Silver Slugger awards become the standard Stark uses to put people in the Hall. Alomar is a maybe in my mind, but Larkin should be out. Stark’s big argument for Larkin is Silver Slugger awards. What? So what that only A-Rod has more Silver Slugger awards. They didn’t give out Silver Slugger awards during the days of players like Honus Wagner, who surely would have more. That is a false way to make it look like Larkin compares favorably to those guys in history. McGriff is also a no. Stark admits he misses the numbers that most consider as numbers that put you in the Hall, and fails to mention how long McGriff played to try and get those numbers. The numbers are inflated because of expansion and because of his extra time where people did everything they could to get him those extra 7 home runs to hit 500. But he didn’t, and it does matter that he didn’t. When you think back on the 90’s do you think of McGriff as a dominate first baseman? No. Edgar Martinez is a DH. Plain and simple that means he is out. He gets zero benefit for the field. And as a DH who did not have to go into the field, his hitting numbers should be higher than other HOF candidates. They are not. Thus, he is out. Dale Murphy is on his list again the only reason is that Dale Murphy was a power hitter during his time. Murphy is shy of 400 homeruns and his other numbers are good, but not great. Stark’s defense. “It is the numbers in their time that we are supposed to be looking at.” That is not true. You are supposed to decide if that person is an all time great or not. Dale Murphy was one of the most fearted right fielders of his time. But not of all time. Jack Morris too was good, but not good enough. A career ERA of almost 4 is too high. The only one on his list that belongs is Bert Blyleven and perhaps Andre Dawson. I would like some more time to think about Tim Raines and Roberto Alomar.

Let us just look at one major example of how Stark’s view of best in his own time backfires (other than it requires people to get in the Hall from every position for every generation) and is not good. We will use his favorite: Barry Larkin.

Let us look at Larkin compared to Ernie Banks. Both played 19 seasons, but Banks played almost 400 more games than Larkin. Which brings up a legitimate concern about Larkin, he was constantly hurt. Larkin has a higher AVG than Banks and a higher OBP, but a lower OPS. How can that be? Well, as much as Stark wants us to think that Larkin’s power and Silver Slugger awards changed the position, he did not garner nearly as many bases as Banks. Thus, why not say that Banks changed the position? His 500 HRs are why he is in the Hall. Larkin for all his slugger awards only hit 198.

But Stark wants us to examine Larkin only in regards to his own age. So let us do just that. Without names of course.

Player 1 = 1963 hits, 195 homeruns, 1123 runs, 860 RBIs, .265 AVG, .330 OBP, .759 OPS
Player 2 = 2340 hits, 198 homeruns, 1329 runs, 960 RBIs, .295 AVG, .371 OBP, .815 OPS
Player 3 = 2365 hits, 185 homeruns, 1231 runs, 1003 RBIs, .285 AVG, .352 OBP, .767 OPS
Player 4 = 2586 hits, 173 homeruns, 1285 runs, 1194 RBIs, .298 AVG, .365 OBP, .782 OPS

Which one is the sure fire Hall of Famer that Stark wants in? Can we find Larkin? Does he stand out from this group of contemporaries? Player 1 is Jay Bell who played fewer games and seasons than Larkin. Player 2 is Larkin himself. Player 3 is Alan Trammell and Player 4 is Julio Franco. Larkin does not really stand above any of them. Not a one of these players deserves the HOF. They were all good and did good work. They were all above average, but they are not HOFers. Add to that the fact that Trammell, Bell, and Franco all led the league in a category at least once in their careers even if that category was sacrifice hits. Larkin never led in any category ever. Not even sacrifices. Larkin fails even by Starks standards. Hall of Fame Players are supposed to be great, not just a little better than the other guys during his life span.

Bert is great. 60 shutouts is amazing. 6th all time in strikeouts is clearly Hall material. Add low ERA and two World titles, and what more do you need?


Jay said...

You make a very good point. There is a strong tendency to ask whether a player is one of the best in his time, when the right question is whether the player is one of the best of all-time. Interestingly, the "best of his time" standard not only includes some people who should be out, but it excludes, for some voters, a player like Blyleven, whose career numbers seem to put him among the best of all-time.

As for the votes, I'm yes on Blyleven. Stark initially had me going on his Larkin argument, but you persuaded me he's a "no." I'm a yes on Raines, and see him as similar to Blyleven--not appreciated in his time as much as he should have been, but looking back on his career, he was one of the best leadoff hitters ever. I'm also yes on Alomar; as much as I like Ryne Sandberg, Alomar is in the discussion of best second-basemen ever. I'm a maybe on Edgar; he could hit with anyone ever, and the DH has been in the game for long enough that it shouldn't completely disqualify him. If Edgar has played in 1950, his team would have found somewhere to put him in the field, just to get his bat in the lineup. It's not his fault that he was able to play DH during his career. I'm a no on everyone else.

Lee said...

I agree with your yes statements with one exception. I can see the argument for Raines. The one I still have a strong "no" on is Edgar.

You are right that in 1950 people would have found a way to put his bat in the line up. But, that makes an assumption that I am not willing to make. Would Edgar have hit as well if he had to endure the rigors of playing in the field? Basically the DH is playing half a game for every hole game someone else plays because he does not play the half inning his team is in the field.

I agree that you cannot keep the DH out forever. But, I do think that one has to hold the DH to a higher hitting standard since he is able to practice only hitting and does not have to endure the nicks and cuts that come from playing defense. Edgar falls short of the higher standard that the DH ought to achieve.