Monday, January 09, 2006

Still more of the hall

When the hell is Vince Young going to accept my facebook invitation? Mr. National Champion thinks he's too good to be my online friend? Well I caused a guy to jump out of a moving car today for absolutely no sane reason, so there. Now we see who's better. Ok, hall thoughts:

Dale Murphy is a no-brainer non hall of famer to me. He had five great years and while his homers come close to hall consideration, he only had 2111 hits and 1266 rbi. He just lost it at 32 years old and didn't nearly bank enough greatness before that point. Supporting Murphy for the hall is like driving around with a Howard Dean bumper sticker; yeah, he looked like he was destined for great things, but he crashed and burned, so get over it. At least Dale Murphy didn't scream "yeaaaaaaaaaaaaah" in the middle of the 1988 season.

Andre Dawson is a very tough call. He's most similar to hall of famers Billy Williams and Tony Perez. But these guys didn't sail in and are on the periphery of the hall, and I'm very leery of the argument that if player x is in, player y should be in too. Because then player y is in, so why not player z. And if I had thought it through better, I would have started higher in the alphabet, because now I've run out of letters and can't continue to illustrate my point. But I think you've got it - the slippery slope thing. So I think Williams and Perez help Dawson's case, but only somewhat. My gut is that Dawson belongs in. He cracked 400 homers, and I think we've quickly forgotten that 400 homers was actually a big deal when retired. At that time only Dave Kingman and Darrell Evans had passed 400 and not made it in, and we know that both of them had terrible career batting averages and offered little else besides their homers. We should be careful before holding Dawson to our steroid standards. Dawson also stole 314 bases and won 8 gold gloves, so he wasn't some empty slugger. I think he should be in.

It's tough for me to comment on Gossage and Sutter without having seen them play. Somehow I feel that personal observation is more important for closers than it is when evaluating other players. At times I've thought both should be in; at others I've thought neither should. My current stance is that Gossage is in, Sutter is out. Sutter's career only lasted 12 seasons and he was a closer for 9 of them. Not all 9 of them were great. This doesn't cut it for a closer; it wouldn't even cut it for a position player or a starting pitcher. They say Sutter revolutionized the position. Revolutionized? What the hell is that? Are we voting for George Washington here? You need a career of greatness, and frankly, the numbers say that Sutter didn't have it.

Gossage only saved 310 games to Sutter's 300. Somehow I feel like Gossage has a better case. He was a closer for more years, lasted until he was 42 (and was still at least serviceable even then), pitched more innings per season in his prime, and was a little less hittable. The kicker is he's most similar to Hoyt Willhelm and Rollie Fingers, whereas Sutter is most similar to Doug Jones. Again, I hate to be a slave to similarity, but I think that's important. In a tough call, I'm going with Gossage and saying no to Sutter.

Lee Smith was absolutely not a hall of famer during a career that saw him pitch for every team in baseball. Inducting him solely because he is the "career saves leader" would be folly, considering that Trevor Hoffman will probably eclipse him soon.

If Bert Blyleven could have converted one loss to a win in two out of every three years of his career, we wouldn't even be debating him right now. 13 wins over a 22 year career is really all that has kept him out of Cooperstown. But, as I've said, you have to have cutoffs somewhere, so that's kind of a flimsy argument. But 287 wins is 287 wins, not to mention his 3701 strikeouts. Blyleven is most similar to Don Sutton, Gaylord Perry, Ferguson Jenkins, Tommy John, Robin Roberts, Tom Seaver, Jim Kaat, Early Winn, Phil Niekro, and Steve Carlton. As you know, all but John and Kaat are in the hall. When a similarity list is so heavily hall of famers, tough to keep the player out. BUT...the list is filled with those longevity, never really great but when all was said and done had the numbers kinds of guys (Seaver and Carlton most obviously excepted). And, as I argued, that's where you want to be careful about lowering the standard more and more. But is Blyleven really lowering the standard, or just keeping with it? It's pretty glaring that he only made 2 all star teams in his whole career. But 13 more damn wins and he'd be in. And yes, his career winning percentage wasn't great, but it's better than Nolan Ryan's, and he sailed into the hall of fame pretty easily. A common pro-Blyleven argument is that he would have won more games if he didn't languish for his whole career on such terrible teams. Well, take a look, this is pretty much not true. I'm not going to go through the numbers here, but check it out for yourself, his teams collectively were not strikingly bad and included a good number of .500 clubs and some 90+ win clubs. So frankly I think this argument should be stricken. I keep going back and forth on Blyleven. If he could be let in without then having to let in Kaat and John, I'd probably go for it. But I'm not sure about this.

Admitting Jack Morris is exactly where you start to just lower the standard more and more. If this guy gives up 4 runs in the first inning of Game 7 in '91 you think we're going through this each year? Probably not. Jack Morris was an excellent pitcher, but not every excellent pitcher is at the hall of fame level. Jack Morris was the winningest pitcher of the '80s, but that doesn't do anything for me. You don't get extra points for having a career that neatly fit into the borders of a decade.

Too bad Albert Belle was such a jerk; he could have been Pucketted in. Ah well, serves him right. The voters have no obligation to give you the benefit of the doubt, you have to earn it. Belle did nothing but piss that benefit of the doubt away throughout his career.

I think that somebody who's been sitting around on that ballot will finally make it in tomorrow, and I'm getting the sense just from reading who writers voted for that it will be Dawson and Sutter. Let's see what happens.


Blogger Adam said...

I disagree with the idea that hitting 400 career home runs during the "weak ball" era that ended in 1994 should somehow get you into the hall of fame. 500 home runs was always the magic number, even before 1994. We shouldn't lower our standards for pre-1994 stats -- rather, we should raise our standards for post-1994 players. That's why players like Palmeiro (even excluding the steroids, he was never a "great" in his era) shouldn't be in. Now, I know that some players, like dawson, might not have had 500 home runs but were dominant in other ways, and maybe they do belong in the Hall (Gary Carter, for instance). But I think you need a closer season-by-season (taking into account the players defensive position) analysis for that -- career stats alone are should not be enough to get him in.

The opposite argument is made against Blylevin. He pitched in an era when 300 wins was easier to attain than it is today. I'd be curious to see this, and maybe it's a subject of a future post from the "idiot": Take the top 25 starting pitchers of a given season -- how many innings did they pitch per start? Do this to compare the pitchers from various years. I'm fairly certain that pitchers pitch fewer innings (and bullpens blow more games) today than they did when Blylevin was around. At 275 career wins, Tom Glavine might not reach 300, but he'll be elected to the Hall anyway. But this is an era when 18-win seasons are the new 20-win seasons. That doesn't mean we should hold previous generations to the lower the standard that pitchers meet today.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

One more thing:

Pedro Martinez, possibly the most dominant pitcher of his era, only has 197 wins and is 34 years old. He's averaged 15 wins the last three seasons (including 14- and 16-win seasons for a Boston team that won 98 and 95 games) -- and he is a lock for the Hall of Fame. The "most-dominant" pitcher today wins fewer games than he did in Blylevin's era, and you have to be careful not to give Blylevin more credit than he deserves.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

(He started 29, 33, and 31 games in those three years, logging 187.2, 217.0, and 217.0 innings and 14, 16, and 15 wins, respectively.)

Please get rid of the word verification.

9:46 AM  

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