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MLB HOF 2019 Ballot

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@Gatling: Thanks for the links! You are correct in assuming that it didn't change my opinion, I've always lumped Giles in with folks like Larry Walker, KiKi Cuyler, Lloyd Waner, Fred Lynn, etc. in other words guys who were very, very good and occasionally great but really fall short of HOF credentials (and yes, I know that Cuyler and Waner are in the HOF, that doesn't mean that they belong there. 

My last words on Albert Belle before shifting the talk to a couple of other candidates. First off, let us lay the bugaboo of "too short a career" to rest. The rules say any player with ten years of active service in the majors is eligible. I am not going to play the since so-and-so is in, why not also so-and-so? However, I will mention that there are several notable players with shortened careers in the HOF because of what they did accomplish during their time as players. And no, I don't mean Candy Cummings who is in for being an executive as well as a player (and supposedly the inventor of the curveball). No I'm talking about guys like Chick Hafey, Hank Greenberg, and perhaps Belle's closest true comparison, Ralph Kiner.

Kiner's career was also very short and like Belle he did one thing really, really well and that was knocking the ball out of the park. Hank Greenberg was a bit more multi-dimensional, but still primarily a long-ball guy. Hafey was a very good/great all around hitter, it's frightening to think what he could have accomplished had he been able to see. 

There are reasons to keep Albert Belle out of the HOF, but his short career and average of forty HRs a season are not among those reasons. 

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Riddle me this:

I hit the same number of HRs as Lou Gehrig and created more runs than Sammy Sosa or Willie McCovey to go along with my near 2500 hits and 1500+ RBIs. Who am I and why am I not in the HOF?

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You completely lost me by saying Larry Walker falls short of the Hall of Fame while arguing Albert Belle should be. There wasn't a single element of baseball outside of hitting homers Belle was better at then Walker. Career 313 hitter, almost 400 career homers, 400 career OBP, over 200 steals and actually an above average defensive Right Fielder in his career. 

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39 minutes ago, El Dragon said:

You completely lost me by saying Larry Walker falls short of the Hall of Fame while arguing Albert Belle should be. There wasn't a single element of baseball outside of hitting homers Belle was better at then Walker. Career 313 hitter, almost 400 career homers, 400 career OBP, over 200 steals and actually an above average defensive Right Fielder in his career. 

Heh-heh, I knew that the mention of Larry Walker would troll at least a few people into the discussion. I thought Tabe and I beat the Walker horse to death a couple of years ago. While he certainly merits close inspection, Larry Walker is remarkably like Chuck Klein, a very good player on the road and a monster in his home park. In Klein's case, his team played in a stadium roughly the size of a child's sandbox. In Walker's case the rarefied air of Colorado made him seem much, much better than he was. He was a great hitter at Coors and an okay/very hitter elsewhere. Look at his home/road splits and then explain why he's a HOF-caliber player. 

You sort of answered your own argument regarding Belle, if he goes in (and he should) it will be for one thing only, and that's averaging 40 HRs a year for a decade, that's not just a good career, that's fucking ridiculous when you look at all the all-time greats that didn't achieve that feat. 

We can revisit Larry Walker if you like, I'm pretty much done with Albert Belle, the only thing that I can suggest regarding Belle is a side by side comparison with similar players and the two that leap out at me are Ralph Kiner and Hank Greenberg. You could probably swap stats between Kiner and Belle on Baseball-reference.com and very few people would notice the difference. (FWIW: Belle appears to be a somewhat better hitter and while no one was lining up to give Ralph Gold Glove Awards, he was a better fielder. )

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32 minutes ago, OSJ said:

Riddle me this:

I hit the same number of HRs as Lou Gehrig and created more runs than Sammy Sosa or Willie McCovey to go along with my near 2500 hits and 1500+ RBIs. Who am I and why am I not in the HOF?

Never would have thought McGriff put up those kind of numbers.  Seems like being super consistent but never at the tippy top of the stats leaders leave you out of sight and out of mind.  His numbers on some really bad Tampa teams are fantastic

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10 minutes ago, Serious Darius Bagfelt said:

Never would have thought McGriff put up those kind of numbers.  Seems like being super consistent but never at the tippy top of the stats leaders leave you out of sight and out of mind.  His numbers on some really bad Tampa teams are fantastic

First, let fire a pre-emptive strike so we don't get off-track talking about Larry Walker. The only thing that one needs to look at are the traditional numbers plus OPS for Home/Away splits. It's even worse than you might imagine. Larry was godlike at Coors field, everywhere else he was just a decent RF with a pretty fair bat. That's not a HOFr. 

Now for Mr. McGriff and you guys know what a mark I am for the Braves... What a difference a handful of seasons makes... McGriff had the bad fortune to begin his career in Toronto, which was bad enough in the 1980s, but then he was traded to San Diego, another small market at the time where anything McGriff did was lost in the headlines about Jose Fucking Canseco, who was baseball's Chosen One until Ken Griffey jr. came into his own. 

By the time he went to Atlanta, the focus had shifted to Frank Thomas and Jeff Bagwell (to say nothing of Mark McGwire). Poor Fred started in the tail-end of the pitcher-dominated era and then ended up being overshadowed by the aforementioned trio. To fairly evaluate McGriff, one has to look at his EXACT contemporaries, not at guys that came along even a few years later. Is he a HOFr? I honestly don't know, though I've started to lean toward "yes"; he's one of those guys that certainly wouldn't hurt things if he were inducted, and on the other hand, there's no great crime in keeping him out as a gatekeeper either.

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53 minutes ago, OSJ said:

Heh-heh, I knew that the mention of Larry Walker would troll at least a few people into the discussion. I thought Tabe and I beat the Walker horse to death a couple of years ago. While he certainly merits close inspection, Larry Walker is remarkably like Chuck Klein, a very good player on the road and a monster in his home park. In Klein's case, his team played in a stadium roughly the size of a child's sandbox. In Walker's case the rarefied air of Colorado made him seem much, much better than he was. He was a great hitter at Coors and an okay/very hitter elsewhere. Look at his home/road splits and then explain why he's a HOF-caliber player. 

 

16 minutes ago, OSJ said:

First, let fire a pre-emptive strike so we don't get off-track talking about Larry Walker. The only thing that one needs to look at are the traditional numbers plus OPS for Home/Away splits. It's even worse than you might imagine. Larry was godlike at Coors field, everywhere else he was just a decent RF with a pretty fair bat. That's not a HOFr. 

Once more, this is another case of an argument we already had with people smarter then both of us already pointing out the flaws in the "Walker was only good in Coors" argument

https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/if-you-vote-for-vlad-you-have-to-vote-for-walker/ 

Also, if we are arguing Walker, who was Barry God Damn Bonds at Coors, doesn't get in the Hall of Fame, then no player who spent the majority of his career in Colorado can EVER make the Hall of Fame. Because none of them are ever going to be as good as Walker was there. Larry Walker by fWAR was the 2nd best Right Fielder in the last 50 years. Only Reggie Jackson beats him. He also was a very good player in Montreal before this ever came up, and even at age 39 he goes to St. Louis and put up a 135 wRC+. Also, the best year in his career, 1997 when he put up a 366/452/720 spit, HE WAS BETTER ON THE ROAD. 

So if you keep Larry Walker out, you have to keep any and all position players who played in Colorado out. Because there is no way they are going to be as good as Larry Walker was.

 

ALSO, the entire "Albert Belle averaged 40 homers a season for a full decade" talking point is mighty impressive for a guy who didn't hit 400 homers. Meaning, no, he did not do that thing. He averaged 37.6. Which is very impressive still. However, Adam Dunn hit 36.8 home runs a season for a full decade, and I don't think that alone makes him a Hall of Famer either. 

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Exactly what is the argument AGAINST Belle? Keeping in mind that "career shortened due to major injury/death" has already been eliminated as a disqualifier in multiple other cases (Koufax, Puckett, Joss, Dean to name four). 

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3 hours ago, El Dragon said:

ALSO, the entire "Albert Belle averaged 40 homers a season for a full decade" talking point is mighty impressive for a guy who didn't hit 400 homers. Meaning, no, he did not do that thing. He averaged 37.6. Which is very impressive still. However, Adam Dunn hit 36.8 home runs a season for a full decade, and I don't think that alone makes him a Hall of Famer either. 

Odd what a difference a few years makes... When Belle did his thing 50 taters in a season MEANT something. Dunn came along just as the power numbers began to explode upwards. We'll see similar stuff as we try to fairly evaluate Fred McGriff, who was remarkably steady even though the game around him changed halfway into his career.

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4 hours ago, Tabe said:

Exactly what is the argument AGAINST Belle? Keeping in mind that "career shortened due to major injury/death" has already been eliminated as a disqualifier in multiple other cases (Koufax, Puckett, Joss, Dean to name four). 

Without going into those 4's HOF canidacy too much (Puckett very much shoukd not be in imo), Belle's problem is he was a player who was mediocre at all other aspects of being a big leaguer except hitting, even in the decade he played there isn't really any argument he was a top 5 hitter that decade. All of Bonds, Griffey, McGwire, Bagwell, Thomas, Piazza, and Martinez were the best hitters of the 90's and Belle was not quite at that level, leaving him to fight it out with Larry Walker and Gary Sheffield for the bottom 3 spots in a potential top 10 of the 90's. So great, but not truely elite. If you are gonna get into the Hall on "short career but dominant while he was there" he needed to be more dominant. 

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I have no problem leaving all Rockies out of the HOF, because so far none of them qualify. I'm very much a small hall guy, and 400 Hr's is nice, but in that bandbox, short of 500 is a non starter for me.  2100 hits and 1300 RBi's aren't nearly enough for a HOF, especially if they played in the juiced ball(and players) era, and they played in that thin air.

 

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9 hours ago, OSJ said:

First, let fire a pre-emptive strike so we don't get off-track talking about Larry Walker. The only thing that one needs to look at are the traditional numbers plus OPS for Home/Away splits. It's even worse than you might imagine. Larry was godlike at Coors field, everywhere else he was just a decent RF with a pretty fair bat. That's not a HOFr. 

Now for Mr. McGriff and you guys know what a mark I am for the Braves... What a difference a handful of seasons makes... McGriff had the bad fortune to begin his career in Toronto, which was bad enough in the 1980s, but then he was traded to San Diego, another small market at the time where anything McGriff did was lost in the headlines about Jose Fucking Canseco, who was baseball's Chosen One until Ken Griffey jr. came into his own. 

By the time he went to Atlanta, the focus had shifted to Frank Thomas and Jeff Bagwell (to say nothing of Mark McGwire). Poor Fred started in the tail-end of the pitcher-dominated era and then ended up being overshadowed by the aforementioned trio. To fairly evaluate McGriff, one has to look at his EXACT contemporaries, not at guys that came along even a few years later. Is he a HOFr? I honestly don't know, though I've started to lean toward "yes"; he's one of those guys that certainly wouldn't hurt things if he were inducted, and on the other hand, there's no great crime in keeping him out as a gatekeeper either.

If H/R splits are the only thing we're looking at, then sure, I can see where you'd say Larry Walker isn't a Hall of Famer.  However, we have many more things we can look at that show he was in fact a Hall of Fame caliber player.  Let's start with OPS+, which is park adjusted so it deals with that pesky Coors Field problem.  Walker's OPS+ is 141, which ties him with Chipper Jones and David Ortiz.  We can go a step further and use wRC+, which is not just park adjusted but also league adjusted so it's probably best to compare across different eras(more on this later), where Walker posted a 140 wRC+.  Those two numbers are right in line with Albert Belle who had a 144 OPS+ and a 139 wRC+--except Walker was an excellent baserunner(not just stealing bases but taking extra bases, etc) and a tremendous defender in right field.  Walker also ranks as the 10th best RF by JAWS hitting exactly the average career WAR mark of all HOF RF and besting the 7 year peak WAR number and the JAWS score.  If you don't like today's advanced stats but like Bill James, Walker passes the test there too by besting the Hall of Fame Standards and Monitor numbers--though those aren't park adjusted, which is why Jay Jaffe came up with JAWS.  Jaffe can probably explain this better.   Larry Walker is definitely a HOF if Albert Belle is, and he should be even if you don't buy Belle is.  

McGriff is an interesting case, as I wonder if he just hit 7 more HR if that would have been enough to just get him in or not.  If you want to look at exact contemporaries, then we're probably talking Will Clark and Mark McGwire as all three guys first played in the majors in 1986, though Clark was the only one of the three to get more than a cup of coffee that year.  The one McGriff has over the other two is longevity--which I think is part of why he hasn't been voted in, oddly enough.  He was more of a compiler or steady and consistent guy, he never really had that stand out peak stretch or that one year that just wows you.  That shows up in his JAWS scores as he ranks 31st all time at 1B ahead of only four Hall of Famers--Orlando Cepeda, Frank Chance, Jim Bottomley, and High Pockets Kelly and behind guys like Clark, McGwire, John Olerud, and Keith Hernandez.  His OPS+ is tied for 45 all time with John Kruk, Prince Fielder, Travis Hafner, and Boog Powell. If you look at wRC+ for all qualified 1B since 1980, McGriff is at 134 right there with Clark(136) but well behind McGwire(157).  McGriff had almost 2000 more plate appearances than Clark and over 2500 more than McGwire yet other than a 200 HR advantage over Clark he doesn't really stand out above either of them anywhere else, other than the longevity and stat compiling.  Put another way, how different is McGriff from a guy who put up 2038 hits, 473 HR, 1512 RBI, a 135 wRC+ and a 138 OPS+ in 1500 fewer plate appearances?  Pretty similar right?  That guy is Carlos Delgado, who was as good a hitter as McGriff but had a bit shorter career(and a couple of years wasted trying to keep him behind the plate) and was a worse defender.  Actually, Delgado is a good comparison for Albert Belle, as his 1997 to 2006 stretch(ages 25 to 34) saw him average 36.4 HR compared to the 37.3 Belle posted from 1991 to 2000(ages 24 to 33), an OPS+ of 127 to 181(138 career) in that peak versus Belle's 109 to 194(144 career), and an overall career line of .280/.383/.546 versus Belle's .295/.369/.564--very good number no doubt but only their hitting to support their candidacies.  I think all three of McGriff, Delgado, and Belle fall short, but I wouldn't complain too loudly if any(or all) of them got in.  

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28 minutes ago, gatling said:

  I think all three of McGriff, Delgado, and Belle fall short, but I wouldn't complain too loudly if any(or all) of them got in.  

Much snippage of good stuff above.  I'm even going to go ahead and add Larry Walker to your short-list above. None of the four would be an embarrassment to the HOF stat-wise (though I shudder to imagine the acceptance speech of a drunken and belligerent Albert Belle.) 

Let me point out why I liked McGriff so much as a player... He reminded me of Eddie Murray, who was a real favorite of mine that I got to watch as an adult with a critical eye. Previous favorites were Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews and Joe Adcock, and both of   the latter  retired when I was a kid. I can't honestly say that I watched Hank Aaron with anything approaching a knowledgeable eye, but FWIW I remember having an argument with my buddy from the next block when were 9 or 10 about who was going to hit more HRs, Aaron or Mantle, as I was already a Braves fan (all the other kids were Yankees fans and even when I was that young I was somewhat of a contrarian.)  

Now I realize that McGriff and Murray are not really very similar in any respect, but it was the way they played the game that mattered to me, contrast McGriff with his almost exact contemporary Joe Carter; I've had Joe on my fantasy teams a time or two and when you look up the term "streak monster", you'll find his picture. McGriff was the exact opposite, turn him loose on opening day and tally up all the extra bases at the end of the season. No, he's not going to lead the league or have a breakout 50+ HR season but he's going to play almost every game and not get hurt and get you 30+ HRs and 100+ RBIs year in and year out. We often talk disparagingly of "compilers", but it's notable that in McGriff's case he really only faded in his last two seasons, everything before that was clockwork.  We also tend to forget that 1985-1995 was still very much pitcher dominated prior to the roids era taking off. I've also never heard anyone even suggest that McGriff took PEDs of any kind, if he did, he was a very early case or as I think more likely; he didn't need to. There are certainly no tell-tale spikes in his performance that would suggest anything but a super-solid player year after year.

Carlos Delgado won me at least two fantasy league pots, so I'm a big fan of the guy (and it's not my fault that my buddies were stupid enough to let me play him as a catcher well after he'd left that position behind.) 😉 I think Delgado is probably the weakest selection of the guys we're talking about here, but he was a fantastic hitter for most of his career.

One final note about Larry Walker, I keep seeing the argument raised of "If you keep him out, no one from the Rockies ever goes in, because he was the best player ever on that team!"  It's not the fucking All-Star Game where every team gets represented, if the Rockies don't have anyone else, that's just too damn bad.

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 I almost brought up Eddie Murray when I was talking about Fred McGriff because Murray is the guy I think of when I talk about a longevity/compiler type.  The Crime Dog had more power and was a bit better hitter overall, though part of that is Murray hanging on too long trying to get to 500 HR and 3000 hits as five of his last seven seasons weren't very good and three of them were below replacement level which dragged down his rate stats.  At their peaks though, Murray had the better years mostly because he was a better defender and baserunner.  Murray also had the longer peak as he had 14 straight years of 3 fWAR or greater(and 11 in a row over 3. 6 and 10 total over 4) and 13 out  of 14 years over 3.2 bWAR(and 9 years over 4) where as McGriff had a seven year peak(3.6 fWAR or better, 3.2 bWAR or better), then three down years where it looked like maybe he was winding down before bouncing with three out of four solid years with Tampa Bay and the Cubs(3.1 fWAR or better, 2.9 bWAR or better).    I really think if McGriff hit 7 more HR and reached that 500 HR plateau he'd be in by now, rightly or wrongly.  Since he didn't, his career is looked at more closely and he comes up short.

 

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33 minutes ago, gatling said:

 I almost brought up Eddie Murray when I was talking about Fred McGriff because Murray is the guy I think of when I talk about a longevity/compiler type.  The Crime Dog had more power and was a bit better hitter overall, though part of that is Murray hanging on too long trying to get to 500 HR and 3000 hits as five of his last seven seasons weren't very good and three of them were below replacement level which dragged down his rate stats.  At their peaks though, Murray had the better years mostly because he was a better defender and baserunner.  Murray also had the longer peak as he had 14 straight years of 3 fWAR or greater(and 11 in a row over 3. 6 and 10 total over 4) and 13 out  of 14 years over 3.2 bWAR(and 9 years over 4) where as McGriff had a seven year peak(3.6 fWAR or better, 3.2 bWAR or better), then three down years where it looked like maybe he was winding down before bouncing with three out of four solid years with Tampa Bay and the Cubs(3.1 fWAR or better, 2.9 bWAR or better).    I really think if McGriff hit 7 more HR and reached that 500 HR plateau he'd be in by now, rightly or wrongly.  Since he didn't, his career is looked at more closely and he comes up short.

 

Or does he? Oddly enough, the closer I look at McGriff's numbers the more I begin to see a bonafide case for him... More on this later, for now I am delighted that you brought up the "magic numbers". I'm sure you're old enough to recall when hitting either (let alone both) milestones was automatic induction to the HOF. I think I may have mentioned this before, but the very first baseball book I read (would have been around 1964 when I was in process of skipping most of second grade and going to third), was an offering from Scholastic Press that dealt with the "immortals" of the game who had either 3000 hits or 300 HRs. Yes, that's right,  at the time every single retired player with 300 HRs was in the HOF and 300 was touted as an automatic induction. I think it may have been Roy Sievers who was the first guy to hit that milestone and not get in, but the floodgates were opened and lots of guys like Lee May, Willie Horton, Joe Adcock, etc. , etc. all compiled over 300. 

So the next level was obviously 400 (or really close to it) until Dave Kingman came along. No one is ever going to confuse Kong with a HOFr, so of course we went up to 500, which by any reckoning is a shitload of HRs. It took Raffy Palmiero to get kicked to the curb for 500/3000 to lose their automatic status and even though one can compile 3000 hits by bopping along at 150 hits per season for twenty years, I'm still of the mind that consistency of that level probably merits induction unless there are extenuating circumstances. Raffy's not in and it isn't because he did PEDs, it's because he was stupid and lied about it over and over. That coupled with spending most of his career as a DH was enough for the BBWA to reject him soundly. 

I don't know of anyone who has ever even suggested that McGriff took PEDs, and a look at his career stats would seem to bear this out, if he'd gotten on the juice at all we could expect to see at least a couple of outstanding seasons with over 50 HRs, but it's not there. What is there is a guy that pretty quietly went about his business of hitting the long ball and driving in runs at a ferocious clip. I'm not going to say that I'm all-in on McGriff as a HOFr, but he certainly wouldn't be an embarrassing choice.

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I should have added "by voters" to that last sentence, since that's what I actually meant.  This is McGriff's 10th and final year on the ballot and he only had 98 votes(23.2%) last year so it's unlikely he makes it.  If he had reached 500 HR, maybe the old school voters put him on their lists but he didn't any they don't seem to be pushing for him.  He comes up short on the more sabr-leaning measurements so it ends up that no one is really beating the drum for him.  Personally I wouldn't complain too much if he got in, but I'm also not bothered by his exclusion.

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On 11/15/2018 at 2:43 PM, gatling said:

I should have added "by voters" to that last sentence, since that's what I actually meant.  This is McGriff's 10th and final year on the ballot and he only had 98 votes(23.2%) last year so it's unlikely he makes it.  If he had reached 500 HR, maybe the old school voters put him on their lists but he didn't any they don't seem to be pushing for him.  He comes up short on the more sabr-leaning measurements so it ends up that no one is really beating the drum for him.  Personally I wouldn't complain too much if he got in, but I'm also not bothered by his exclusion.

I'm with you 100% on this, there are a couple of things that historically have been notable blind spots for the BBWA, one of those things is the third base position, wherein they can't seem to grasp that it's the perfect blend of defense and offense (at least since 1950), before then it was more defense-centric. The other thing that they seem to have trouble with is the guy who is a hallmark for consistency as opposed to having a couple of breakout seasons.

Anyone who ever watched Eddie Murray play should have realized that they were seeing something pretty special, when your competition for greatest switch-hitter of all time is Mickey Fucking Mantle, you're a slam-dunk, no-brainer of a choice. 

I think we may have exhausted the discussion of McGriff and come to the same conclusion, now, how about his almost exact contemporary Will Clark and Joe Carter? I know my initial gut reaction was "Get real!", but both guys actually have a case, let's see how strong their cases are: 

Joe Carter: Remember when his 1984 Donruss RC was worth a $100 for a nicely-centered one? I do and I'm damn glad that I didn't pay anything near that for it as I think it's probably worth about ten bucks now. Definitely a feared hitter, could play anywhere in the OF equally effectively, but he seems a really odd choice for consideration by the committee, there is really no compelling reason to consider Joe Carter anything but a very good player. 

Will Clark: Another guy who is a poster boy for the Hall of the Very Good. An oddly-abbreviated career, (his team wanted him back when he retired after a perfectly fine season at age 36.) Clark's numbers look pretty anemic when compared to the guys that came along just a little later and his own almost exact contemporary, Fred McGriff. Clark seemed like more of a 1950s player than anything else; excellent defense, high batting average, and rather lackluster power numbers. I could easily envision him in the 1950s as a top star. As it is, the only time that I thought I was watching anything special was during his 1988-1989 seasons. That puts him in company with guys like Norm Cash and Farris Fain, not Frank Thomas and Jeff Bagwell. 

Whereas we concluded that there would be no shame in inducting Albert Belle and Fred McGriff, both of these guys would be an embarrassing mistake.

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For what it's worth while I wouldn't induct Belle (Though I do think he has a solid argument after hearing it from you guys, I just still can't justify putting him in due to my personal "Well if he gets in so should these guys' mindset), I will say McGriff is one of my favorite cases, because he to me is "The Hall of Flame Floor" for first basemen. I think he should get in, but I don't think First Basemen worse then him should get him. There are other 1st basemen right in his tier imo that you could take or leave for a HOF case. I'd take Olerud and I think I would take Berkman, where as I leave Clark, Giambi, and Delgado. 

That is one of my favorite things to determine. The worst player at a position you take in the HOF in each position in recent history. I usually rank recent history as last 50 years

Catcher: Tricky, because the 5 best catchers of the last 50 years are all in and were all obvious inductions, and after that there aren't any obvious picks. I would consider putting Mauer in for strength of his high upside. I think the answer is probably Buster Posey? He's not offically there yet but things would have to go horribly wrong to not get there. But things go horribly wrong for Catchers all the time

First Base: Either McGriff or Olerud. Both were very very good players that don't get the respect they deserve. McGriff was consistently very good, where as Olerud was good most of the time and every once in a blue moon (93 and 98) are among the very tip top players in baseball. 

Second Base: This is a fun one because there are a lot of guys right in that "Are they in or not?" discussion. I would probably say Dustin Pedroia? I'd say Cano and Utley in over him, but not Kinsler or Zobrist. Though Zobrist, if he can have another year or two like this last one, becomes an interesting case for me, though very likely I am one of the few who would say that. 

Short Stop: Another one with such a firm line it's hard to have a guy here. Rodriguez, Ripkin, Jeter, Smith, Larkin, Yount, and Trammell are all obvious ins, and the next best guy after that is.... maybe Jimmy Rollins? I don't put Rollins in, soooo. Nobody.

Third Base: Third Base is tricky because, like Center Field, the amount of good borderline cases that aren't getting in is high. Scott Rolen is not a borderline case but he looks like he's going to be this generations Ron Santo. Some of the better 3rd Basemen of the last 50 years were just solid hitters but great defenders (Nettles, Ventura, Bell) who are just not gonna get in. So the line here is already skewed. I, personally, give David Wright the nod. He only had 8 years of true prime before injuries ate him, but he was one of the top 5 players in baseball for that 8 year run. So yeah, Wright is my answer here.

Left Field: I'll just keep this one short. It's Lance Berkman. If you argue yes for Albert Belle, Lance Berkman was just a slightly better version who played longer. He didn't hit the quite the homers, but he was better overall hitter and defender.

Center Field: I mean, I think all of Lofton, Edmunds, Beltran, and Jones should be in... and I don't think there borderline. So that screws the math up a bit. If McCutchen can have just one more solid season, I think it's enough for me for him to fit it. Awesome 5 year peak were most people will say he was the best player in the NL for that stretch. I might put him in regardless, but 1 more year as an above average regular does it for me. 

Right Field: Gary Sheffield feels like an obvious pick here. He was a great hitter over a long career. 

Starting Pitchers: Controverisal Answer here: Kevin Brown. 5 year stretch were he was right up there with Clemens, Maddux, Martinez, and Johnson from 96-00. Heck, he beat Maddux, Clemens, and Johnson in ERA and FIP. I view Pettite, Mussina, and Schilling as HOFers and I think Brown was better then any of those 3 in prime. So yeah, Kevin Brown.

Closers: I don't really object to Trevor Hoffman being the floor here. I just think if Hoffman is in Wagner better be too since he's the 2nd best closer baseball has seen behind Rivera.

 

And there we go, my floor in each position.

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Yeah, Joe Carter definitely wasn't a Hall of Famer.  While Joe hit a lot of home runs, including an historic one, due to his low batting average and on base percentage, he was barely above a league average hitter for his career by both OPS+(105) and wRC+(102).  Also, I didn't get to see enough of Joe Carter defensively, but advanced stats didn't care for him as a defender.  This will probably be a surprise, but here is a good article by Jay Jaffe about both Carter and Clark.

Clark is an interesting case because if you looked at his numbers after his first six years, you'd have thought he was going to be a doubt Hall of Famer as he had 915 hits and 146 HR at age 27.  The problem is he only hit 20 HR twice more over the next 9 years and couldn't stay on the field enough, plus the aforementioned early retirement when he was still hitting well--though it was to be with his autistic son so I can't fault the man.  He's definitely a Hall of Very Good type guy.

I think it's going to be interesting in a few years to see what, if any "magic numbers" develop with service time manipulation and the way starting pitcher usage is changing.  How many more pitchers are going to win 300 games?  Sabathia needs 54 wins and he's 37 already, so we're talking what 14 wins a year for four year or 11 wins a year for five years?  Not sure he can make it that long with his diminishing skills and declining health.  Verlander sits at 204 wins, so that's 16 wins a year for six year and he'd be 41 at that point.  Kershaw is 30 and has 153 wins, can he average 15 wins over the next 10 years with his back in the shape it is?  Rick Porcello has 135 wins at age 29, so 16 wins a year for 11 years?  So where does the line eventually settle at, 250 wins?  Zack Greinke, Jon Lester, and Max Scherzer could all hit 250 wins reasonably, but quite a few guys will need another six or seven strong years to reach that.  Maybe we'll move away from wins altogether, which would be fine with me.  Hopefully things like on base percentage and overall offensive contributions through things like wOBA, wRC+, and other advanced stats as well as defense being considered more going forward as the voting base evolves.

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El Dragon, of those borderline guys you metioned, I'd only put in Sheffield. Honestly guys like Berkman, Kinlser, Zobrist shouldn't even make the second ballot. . . .

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From Dragon's list I'd say yes to Mauer, Cano, Utley, Edmonds, Lofton, Beltran, Jones, Sheffield, and Wagner as well as Mussina, Rolen, and Rivera who are no-brainers in my opinion.  The only other that I'd consider is Posey but he probably needs another 5 years or so with at least three of them behind the plate still and above average production.

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29 minutes ago, Kuetsar said:

El Dragon, of those borderline guys you metioned, I'd only put in Sheffield. Honestly guys like Berkman, Kinlser, Zobrist shouldn't even make the second ballot. . . .

Welp, let's break those 3 down a bit.

Lance Berkman was one of the best hitters and players of the 2000-2009 decade. Like, full stop. In the decade he was 6th among all position players in both fWAR (Behind only Rodriguez, Pujols, Bonds, Jones, and Carlos Beltran. All 5 of so, to me, are easy HOF's, and he's just behind Jones and Beltran) and wRC+ (behind Bonds, Pujols, Ramirez, Rodriguez, and Jason Giambi, 4 of which are easy hall picks were as Giambi doesn't get there for me). That's pretty darn impressive. He also had 6 6 WAR seasons in 8 years. Which is... very very good. Also, a big stat for me in evaluating a player is I always give a big bonus if a guy has a career 400 OBP. Berkman hits that mark with a 406, the 10th highest career OBP in the last 50 years. He also by Baseball Reference Hall of Fame tracker shows Berkman as the 20th best Left Fielder in baseball ever, and there have been 20 Hall of Famers inducted into the Hall of Fame as Left Fielders. And he is the first name that appears after the solid list ahead of existing Hall of Famers. He's basically a solid bet for that borderline pick. He might get in, but he certainly deserves a deeper look then 1 ballot and out.

Ian Kinsler is ranked by Baseball Reference as having the 18th best case for the Hall of all 2nd Basemen ever, but the 2nd Basemen list is weird. Bobby Grich not being in the Hall in spite of being one of the top 10 Second Basemen ever, Both Cano and Utley are top 11 and not eligible yet, Whitaker is 13th and should be in but isn't. The only other player ahead of Kinsler not in the Hall is Willie Randolph, who I do think should be in, and there's a bunch of okay guys that are in after that were not as good as Kinsler. As for why Kinsler should be considered, he just been consistently good to great for over a decade, plugging away, constantly above average. He's had had too few truely elite seasons to get in for me (Only one season over 6 WAR, 2011 with 7.2), but he's been a damn good player.

As for Zobrist, his case is weird and hard to find much for historic match for. He's such a fun player to look at. Zobrist didn't make the bigs until 20056when he was 25, and going into 2009 when he was 28 he was worth negative WAR. And then he absolutely exploded. In 2009 Ben Zobrist was the best position player in baseball by fWAR, posting a 8.6, with a 152 wRC+ and playing big plus defense carrying over 6 positions. And while he hasn't reached that level since, he has been a damn good player, averaging 4.4 fWAR a season over his age 28-37 seasons. If he can he has a couple more 3-4 seasons in him, which I'm not expecting, but I wasn't expecting him to put up a 4 WAR season this last year either, he probably puts himself into the top 20 2nd basemen of all time, and he also gets the benefit of being the World Series MVP in the series the Cubs broke there streak. I don't think he gets in, but he is a fucking fascinating case if he finishes his career strong.

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Yes, Eddie Murray's competition for greatest switch hitter is Mickey Mantle. But that's like saying my competition for fastest sprinter is Usain Bolt. Murray was great. He wasn't in remotely the same stratosphere as Mickey. 

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Berkman is an interesting case. Very high peak, but low career total hits (just 1900), and the "every Astros guy was on steroids" taint, even if not proven. I'm not sure he belongs but certainly not an embarrassment if he gets in. 

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