December 13, 2013
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Hall of Fame Articles
Following are the one hundred most recent articles for the category Hall of Fame .
11/14/2013: Let’s discuss the THT Annualby Dave Studeman
12/13/2013: The best rookies of the ‘20sby Chad Dotson
12/13/2013: Card Corner: 1973 Topps: Dick Selmaby Bruce Markusen
12/12/2013: The Screwball: The voice of summerby Azure Texan
12/12/2013: The all-decade team: best of the bestby Richard Barbieri
12/11/2013: Alone on the pedestal, Part 2by Jason Linden
12/11/2013: The Applegate factorby Shane Tourtellotte
12/10/2013: All about the latest Bill James Handbookby Dave Studeman
12/10/2013: Though night may fall, play ball!by Frank Jackson
12/10/2013: Roy Halladay retiresby Jeff Moore
12/09/2013: Leverage Index by inningby Dave Studeman
12/09/2013: How far are the Mariners from relevancy?by Brad Johnson
12/09/2013: Prince Halby Chris Jaffe
12/09/2013: Three underrated acquisitionsby Pat Andriola
12/06/2013: Cooperstown Confidential: Ed Charles and 42by Bruce Markusen
12/06/2013: The Athletics get busyby Brad Johnson
12/06/2013: Getting to know Ryan Haniganby Chad Dotson
12/04/2013: Cataloging the non-tendered playersby Brad Johnson
12/04/2013: Alone on the pedestalby Jason Linden
12/03/2013: Mascot fight!by Greg Simons
12/03/2013: Why is a sinker “heavy?”by David Kagan
12/03/2013: The role of fall leaguesby Jeff Moore
12/02/2013: Nationals make great deal for Fisterby Matt Filippi
12/02/2013: The Twins go holiday shopping, but to what end?by Brad Johnson
12/02/2013: The end of the benchby Chris Jaffe
11/29/2013: Card Corner: 1973 Topps: Danny Waltonby Bruce Markusen
11/29/2013: The best rookies of the ‘30sby Chad Dotson
11/27/2013: Towards an award prediction systemby Shane Tourtellotte
11/26/2013: MLB’s coffers are overflowingby Greg Simons
11/26/2013: The role of prospects in tradesby Jeff Moore
11/25/2013: Stepping up to the plateby Frank Jackson
11/25/2013: 10 things I didn’t know about player birthdaysby Chris Jaffe
11/22/2013: The end of the road for Chris Carpenterby Chad Dotson
11/21/2013: All the news that’s fit to inventby Azure Texan
11/20/2013: Marcus Stroman, the mythbusting machineby Kyle Boddy
11/20/2013: Welcome to the birthplace of… someone elseby Jason Linden
11/19/2013: 2013 THT awards reviewby Greg Simons
11/18/2013: THT Fantasy has moved to Rotographsby Dave Studeman
11/18/2013: Atlanta gets burned againby Frank Jackson
11/18/2013: The 2014 Hall of Fame VC ballotby Chris Jaffe
11/18/2013: Must See MLB.TV 2013by Dave Studeman
11/15/2013: The best rookies of the ‘40sby Chad Dotson
11/15/2013: Card Corner: Wayne Granger: 1973 Toppsby Bruce Markusen
11/14/2013: 10th anniversary: the A.J. Pierzynski tradeby Chris Jaffe
11/14/2013: The Screwball: The face of championship baseballby Azure Texan
11/14/2013: Player-A-Day: Casey Fienby Brad Johnson
11/13/2013: Player-A-Day: Tim Lincecumby Brad Johnson
11/13/2013: Pitcher performance after batting successby Shane Tourtellotte
11/13/2013: 25th anniversary: Rob Neyer writes a letterby Chris Jaffe
11/13/2013: Houston hoodoo ‘62by Frank Jackson
11/12/2013: It’s The Hardball Times Annual 2014by Dave Studeman
11/12/2013: Player-A-Day: Joe Mauerby Brad Johnson
11/11/2013: Fastball velocity by game stateby Jon Roegele
11/11/2013: The rise of the middle-aged managerby Chris Jaffe
11/08/2013: Player-A-Day: Josmil Pintoby Brad Johnson
11/08/2013: Hall monitor: The case for Andruw Jonesby Chad Dotson
11/07/2013: Big leaguers, bit partsby Azure Texan
11/07/2013: Player-A-Day: Nathan Eovaldiby Brad Johnson
11/06/2013: If he’d only gotten another shotby Jason Linden
11/06/2013: Player-A-Day: David DeJesusby Brad Johnson
11/05/2013: Player-A-Day: David Ortizby Brad Johnson
11/04/2013: Player-A-Day: Jose Dariel Abreuby Brad Johnson
11/04/2013: The Boston (Braves) Marathon of 1928by Frank Jackson
11/04/2013: 10 things I didn’t know about birthdays in 2013by Chris Jaffe
11/01/2013: Taking the close pitch with two strikesby James Gentile
11/01/2013: Card Corner: 1973 Topps: Don Baylorby Bruce Markusen
11/01/2013: The best rookies of the ‘50sby Chad Dotson
10/31/2013: The Screwball: Celebrate good times, come on!by Azure Texan
10/31/2013: Player-A-Day: Leonys Martinby Brad Johnson
10/30/2013: Player-A-Day: Jon Lesterby Brad Johnson
10/30/2013: Forecasting the major 2013 awardsby Shane Tourtellotte
10/30/2013: The effect of seeing pitchesby Jon Roegele
10/29/2013: Putting the knock on pitching changesby Joe Distelheim
10/29/2013: Player-A-Day: Ryan Howardby Brad Johnson
10/29/2013: Losing momentum in the sixth gameby Dave Studeman
10/29/2013: Previewing the fall Stars gameby Jeff Moore
10/28/2013: Player-A-Day: Travis Woodby Brad Johnson
10/28/2013: Marquis Grissom: Mr. October Jr.by Frank Jackson
10/25/2013: The blackballing of Dick Dietzby Bruce Markusen
10/24/2013: Player-A-Day: Xander Bogaertsby Brad Johnson
10/24/2013: The Screwball: Put it in neutral?by Azure Texan
10/24/2013: The all-decade team: the ‘00sby Richard Barbieri
10/24/2013: Player-A-Day: Michael Wachaby Brad Johnson
10/23/2013: Earn money watching baseballby Dave Studeman
10/23/2013: Player-A-Day: Jose Iglesiasby Brad Johnson
10/23/2013: 20th anniversary: The Joe Carter gameby Chris Jaffe
10/23/2013: Giants take a risk with Lincecum’s two-year dealby Matt Filippi
10/23/2013: BOB: Nolan Ryan retires…for nowby Brian Borawski
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February 01, 2013
A baseball card mystery: Lou Brock and the unknown PirateI hear a lot of talk about how Lou Brock doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. The critics say that he didn’t walk enough. That he struck out too much. That he wasn’t a good enough defender in left field. Those critics say that those weaknesses counteract the 3,023 hits and the 938 stolen bases.
Many of those critics conveniently ignore Brock’s postseason numbers, which I believe carry him from a borderline Hall of Famer into a deserving place in Cooperstown. Brock played in three World Series for the Cardinals, all during the pitcher’s era of the 1960s. His performance in those three Fall Classics amounted to a cross of Ty Cobb and Lou Gehrig. Brock batted a combined .391 in 21 games, covering a span of 92 plate appearances. He hit four home runs, stole 14 bases in 16 tries, and compiled an OPS of over 1.000.
Without Brock’s all-world effort, it’s quite likely that the Cardinals don’t win two of those World Series, in 1964 against the Yankees and in 1967 against the Red Sox. It’s true that Brock did make a baserunning mistake in his third Series against the Tigers, when he failed to slide into home against Bill Freehan in Game Five, but it’s worth pointing out that the Cardinals still led the game at that point. It’s also pertinent to note that Brock hit .464 in that Series and reached base over 51 per cent of the time. It would be difficult to pin the seven-game loss squarely on the shoulders of Brock.
Having established my brief but emphatic case for Brock, his 1976 card is easily my favorite among those issued for him by Topps. It’s most appropriate that Topps shows him on the basepaths, where he gained much of his reputation as the game’s new stolen base king after Cobb.
Brock’s card shows him taking a lead off the second base bag in a game that appears to have taken place at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium. Ordinarily, I would say that the photograph was taken during the preceding season, in 1975. But in checking the Pirates’ roster from that season, I cannot find a black infielder who featured a "2" in his uniform number. In looking at a roster from Baseball Almanac, Craig Reynolds wore the No. 12, but the Pirates’ infielder in this photo is clearly not Reynolds. Of that, I am certain!
Based on the angle of the photograph, I’m relatively sure that the Pirates infielder is the shortstop and not the second baseman. So my initial thoughts centered on Frank Taveras. But he wore No. 10, and not 12 in 1975. I also don’t remember Taveras having such a large Afro as the player in this picture, but my memory could be sketchy on that point.
Maybe we need to go back a season further, to 1974. But Taveras still wore No. 10, and the only two Pirates infielders to have a "2" in their number were Ed Kirkpatrick (No. 23) and Paul Popovich (No. 24). Both were white, so there is no match there either.
To be honest, I’m positively stumped on this one. Without knowing the identity of the Pirates’ infielder, there is probably no way to pinpoint the date, the game, and the inning. Can anyone help me out on these persisting questions?
Posted by: Bruce Markusen
January 20, 2013
The greatest Cardinal is goneFor Cardinals fans of the past 15 years, the greatest player they've ever witnessed wearing the birds-on-a-bat jersey obviously is Albert Pujols. For fans such as me who grew up watching Whitey Herzog's runnin' Redbirds, it was Ozzie Smith. A generation before that, it was Bob Gibson or Lou Brock.
But the greatest St. Louis Cardinal of all time undoubtedly was Stan "The Man" Musial, who passed away Saturday at the age of 92.
Musial was the definition of what it means to be a Cardinal, the epitome of striving for success in that classic Midwestern manner. For the Simons family, our Cardinals fandom goes back at least to the beginning of Musial's career, as it and my father's early life matched up quite nicely.
Dad was born in the spring of 1940, and the next season Musial made his major league debut. At that time, no one knew what to expect from either of them, my dad because he was just learning to walk, Musial because he was fresh-faced, 20-year-old kid with all of 239 plate appearances in Double-A.
By the time my father turned nine years old, "The Man" had earned three Most Valuable Player awards and a trio of batting titles. While Musial would win another four batting championships, he could muster "only" four more second-place finishes among his 18 seasons of receiving MVP votes.
Dad was too young to appreciate the three World Series titles the Cardinals brought home by the time he'd started first grade, but he had another 17 seasons to follow the greatness of Musial. Consistently, relentlessly, Musial portrayed excellence year after year, batting well over .300, walking a bunch, striking out very little, and clobbering plenty of pitches over the walls of Sportsman's Park.
When Musial's career was complete, he had compiled a .331/.417/.559 BA/OBP/SLG line with 3,630 hits (an NL record at the time), 475 homers, 1,951 RBI, 1,949 runs scored and 24 All-Star Game appearances (thanks to a stretch of seasons with two games a year). His strikeout-to-walk numbers were an astounding 696-to-1,599, his OPS was 976 (13th best all-time), and his OPS+ stood at 159 (15th best all-time).
When Musial's career was complete, my dad's childhood had officially ended, as he married my mom in the summer of 1963, Musial's final campaign. I don't think she knew it at the time, but my mom was being indoctrinated into the Simons family Cardinals fan club. Lucky her.
One of the greatest attributes of Musial's career was his balance, his consistently. See those RBI and runs scored totals up above—1,951 and 1,949, respectively? Put those on a scale, and it will hardly sway one way or another. And then there's his home and away hit totals of exactly 1,815 each. Recalling those near-perfect pairings reminded me again of my parents, matched together so well that they'll be celebrating 50 years of marriage this summer.
It might seem odd that a player's passing immediately brings to my mind thoughts of my family, but the Cardinals are ingrained in us, part of the ebb and flow of our everyday lives. A large majority of the conversations my dad and I have touch on the Redbirds at least briefly. I was granted full membership in the club before I was even born, and I'm forever grateful for it.
My family has loved the Cardinals for over seven decades, and Stan Musial was the ideal representation of a Cardinals player all that time. There is no one to take his place, but we all have the memories to cherish.
I called home last night to ask my dad if he ever saw Musial play in person, but he was asleep, so I'll have to check again today. I did speak to my mom, and she told me they did see Musial in spring training a few years ago, and he was ambling around the field, chatting with players and waving to the fans. Another great memory, another delighted fan.
The enduring images of Stan Musial are of him rapping a solid hit, playing his harmonica, thanking the fans. Whatever mental picture you have when Stan "The Man" Musial comes to mind, it's almost certainly a pleasant one.
For "baseball's perfect warrior ... baseball's perfect knight," his enduring legacy will be one of consistently bringing unwavering commitment to the field and joy to the fans, day after day after day. That's true for my parents, many other family members, and millions of Cardinals fans everywhere.
Thanks for the memories, Stan Musial. You are, and always will be, "The Man."
Posted by: Greg Simons
January 12, 2013
Should voters give extra credit?We've all been thinking about the Hall of Fame a lot lately. In fact, this is my second such post in as many days, but I have an idea that I think is worth considering. It grows out of a Rob Neyer post where he mentions not wanting to support a player who would not not have been a Hall of Famer without steroids. This pushes someone like Mark McGwire off the list, for instance.
But here's a question: If we're docking players who weren't clean, shouldn't we give extra credit to those who were?
Think about it for a minute. The stat that gets tossed around the most in Hall of Fame discussions is WAR, but PEDs changed where the bar was set. The definition of what constituted a replacement player was different than it would have been without all those players getting extra help.
The best example I can think of is Fred McGriff. He is defined by his consistency. While playing for the Blue Jays in 1988, McGriff was, according to FanGraphs, worth 7.2 WAR. In 2001 putting up almost identical numbers, he was worth only 3.8 WAR. That's still a good season, but the difference between 4 WAR and 7 WAR is the difference between an all-star and an MVP contender. How much of that perceived drop in value is the result of other players artificially raising the bar?
McGriff is a very marginal candidate now, but I've never heard him tied to PEDs. There's no reason to think he wasn't totally clean. And if he was clean and had played in a clean league, wouldn't he have been worth more? Maybe 70 WAR instead of 61?
There are others. Kenny Lofton, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell. Pick a player who has a decent case and hasn't been tied to steroids at all and ask yourself how he might have been affected. From 1987 to 2002, Fred McGriff was almost exactly the same player every year. His value declined not because his performance changed (other than normal yearly fluctuations of course), but because offensive numbers around the league changed.
This is all getting very complicated. It's a debate we're going to be having for years and I wonder if, in a few years, we might regret that some players—like Lofton—fell off the ballot so quickly.
Posted by: Jason Linden
January 11, 2013
Why does character matter now?This week's Hall of Fame result wasn't totally unexpected, but for many of us, it was frustrating nonetheless. The primary question that everyone has been wrestling with lately is, "what, exactly, is the Hall of Fame supposed to be?" Let me explain.
Since basically forever, the Hall of Fame has been a place to enshrine the best players in baseball. At least, that's what it was as far as the Baseball Writers Association of America was concerned. For the most part, they did a good job. Sure, the writers missed the boat here and there, mostly with players they didn't elect, but if the BBWAA voted you in, well, it meant you were one hell of a ballplayer. But suddenly, the narrative has changed.
The BBWAA has now decided that character matters. Never mind all the jerks and cheaters in the Hall of Fame. Racists. Spitballers. Players who spent their entire careers drugged up on amphetamines. Now, we have to start considering character. Whatever that means (the only thing more vague than the mention of character in the voting guidelines is the answer you get from many BBWAA members when they address that guideline). You'll hear lots of half-baked reasons why this is the case, but I'll tell you what I think is the real reason: It's the only thing the writers can still claim to knowing more about than the rest of us.
Think about it. For a long time, the writers were given the vote for a reason that makes perfect sense: They saw more baseball than anyone else. Of course they should get the vote. They see the guys play. No one else seemed qualified. But this simply isn't true now. In fact, it can be argued that the writers as a whole have seen significantly less of the players on the current ballot than many, many baseball fans. Why? TV.
Average fans can watch their favorite team as often as they want. That means that there are thousands and thousands of people who saw Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds and Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza play more often than any beat writer except for those covering that player's team. Why? because the Boston beat writer isn't waiting up to see Barry Bonds play and the San Diego beat writer is too busy getting ready for the Padres game when the Red Sox or Yankees are playing. And it's not as though writers have special analytical skills. They're journalists, not analysts.
So the question of who's qualified to judge performance has suddenly, over these last several years, come up for debate.
I don't know how you feel about the beat writer for your favorite team. I follow the Reds and we have John Fay. I think he's pretty solid. He's a reporter and he reports. He doesn't always ask the questions I want him to ask. Sometimes that's frustrating and sometimes I get that he has to have a relationship with Dusty Baker if he's going to do his job. Notably, Fay drew some attention to himself when he announced that he was not submitting a ballot this year because he doesn't know how to deal with the issues at hand (note that this is different than submitting a blank ballot, because it isn't added to the tally of votes cast and thus hurts the players less).
I respect that decision, but I still wonder why we're bothering with it in the first place. I mean, do the writers really want to make the character argument? Let's take an extreme example: Who would you rather trust with your kids, Ty Cobb or Mark McGwire?
Now, the absurdity of that question aside, unless the writers know something about McGwire that they have chosen not to report, I think the answer is fairly obvious. You take McGwire. Why? Because he did something wrong, but he doesn't seem dangerous or scary. He certainly hasn't shown a tendency toward violence like Cobb did.
Seems like McGwire has better character than Cobb, at least as I'd define it. So can we take Cobb out? No one wants that, right?
If you're a writer, you can make some argument about character having to do with the integrity of the game or something, but then you get back into all the other kinds of cheating, and I have yet to see anyone make an argument that resists even the most basic logical challenge as to why one kind of cheating is different from another kind.
That's why the character argument doesn't hold water and never will. However the writers try to make the argument, it's refuted by players they already voted into the Hall. So why can't the writers stop pretending the Hall is about anything other than honoring the best players, warts and all? I think it goes back to the argument I made earlier.
Like I said, I have no problems with John Fay the beat writer. But you know what? I don't go to John Fay for analysis about who's good and who's not. I got to him for news. When I want analysis, I go to anyone of the fantastic baseball sites on the web. It can be FanGraphs or somewhere on SBNation or right here at THT. There are a lot of sources, and they all do a better job of telling me which players are likely to help my favorite team win than the beat writers do.
And I wonder if they're starting to feel that. If they know that people don't buy the story anymore about the gritty player who didn't have the numbers, but was really the team's MVP. I wonder if maybe some of them find a need for a different story and so they've started to latch onto the character issue as something they can write about and still have readers take them seriously. This last part is conjecture. I really don't know.
I do know that the writers aren't the among people most qualified to judge the career of a ballplayer unless they followed him daily. If they know they aren't qualified and we know they aren't qualified and they still have the vote, then the election has to be about something else, doesn't it?
So, in the end, I guess the Hall has to decide what election means. For a long time it meant only that you were a great ballplayer. It doesn't mean that anymore. It means something else. Something that makes most of us (including John Fay) pretty uncomfortable.
Posted by: Jason Linden
Don’t villify the writersIt is an article of faith in the online baseball community that Barry Bonds, etc., got jobbed in this year's Hall of Fame voting. Just look at the numbers, says the sabermetric orthodoxy.
And understandably so. Looking at numbers is what sabermetricians do. But these are not the people who vote on Hall of Fame membership.
Members of the traditional sports writing fraternity—who do vote—do numbers, yes, but are more inclined to look beyond them. Thus the brouhaha over this year's election and its rejection of otherwise-qualified candidates suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs. And thus the overwhelming online condemnation of what the voters did (or didn't) and why, in articles like this.
I have a foot in each camp. For some years now, I've been an editor here at The Hardball Times, working with smart people who massage statistics in ways I couldn't have dreamed of in my long-ago life as a newspaper sports editor (and, briefly, a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America).
One thing I have learned is not to stereotype either camp. Baseball writers on the internet aren't all geeks in their pajamas writing in their mothers' basements, eschewing baseball tradition. Baseball writers in the press box are not all old fogies getting mustard all over their plaid sports jackets and refusing to recognize newfangled numbers.
The argument that reached its loudest point in this year's Hall of Fame election cycle is familiar to anyone reading this. The electors are 10-year members of the BBWAA. The guidelines they get are open to wide interpretation:
"Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played."Nothing about how much weight to give each of those elements. Nothing about how to define any of them. And so, not surprisingly, the 500-plus BBWAA voters don't all agree on how to apply these standards.
I think we've covered the major points on THT over the past few days: Chris Jaffe gave us the historical pattern of Hall of Fame voting and explained why this year is different. Jeffrey Gross made the case for Bonds, the most obvious left-out candidate. Today, Jason Linden sums up the argument that the "character" qualification is meaningless. And Dave Studeman, here and here, has urged that all those who care about baseball and the Hall of Fame take a fresh look at the whole selection system.
I'm not here to argue Bonds and PEDs, or RBIs vs. wOBA. Rather, I'd like to offer a little perspective.
There's a BBWAA chapter in each major league city. The print beat writers who go (or in some cases used to go) to the games are members, and, after 10 years, have the opportunity to vote on Hall of Fame candidates. (Not all members vote. Some news organizations have decided, not unreasonably, that there's an essential conflict in having people who cover the players participate in decisions that affect those players.)
The full membership requirements are in the BBWAA constitution. Essentially, you must be a beat writer, backup writer, columnist or sports editor from a newspaper or wire service that covers major league baseball on a regular basis. Membership has been expanded to include web sites on a case-by-case basis. No television or radio broadcasters have a vote.
Some of these writers are historians of the game. Some are students of its strategy. Some are working stiffs just happy to have a job in these troubled times in their industry. As is the case where you work, some are more diligent and knowledgeable than others.
Most love the game. Some can't wait to get off the weird travel and hours of the beat so they can have a normal life. Those two things are not mutually exclusive.
Some are quite good with numbers, believe it or not, but numbers are the salt and pepper that season each day's game stories and most other newspaper baseball coverage. They're not the meat. Newspapers tell stories. Newspaper baseball writers use statistics in aid of that.
So why has this exclusive little group, bound to get smaller under current rules as the number of daily newspapers shrinks, kidnapped the Hall of Fame admissions process?
Well, it hasn't, exactly.
The system in place is legitimate in that it represents an old reality. Time was, as Jason Linden notes today, baseball beat writers for daily newspapers were the fans' primary eyes on major league baseball. Only they saw all the games and all the teams (at least in their teams' league). Then came locally televised games. Then came the national game of the week. And then superstations. And then came now, when, if you can't find a ballgame on TV on a summer day, you aren't trying, and when you don't need the Cleveland Plain Dealer to find out Asdrubal Cabrera's batting average.
But the Hall of Fame didn't see that future three-quarters of a century ago when it asked the people who watched baseball players for a living to choose the best of the best players to be honored. The BBWAA notes on its website:
"The board of directors at the Hall of Fame is responsible for choosing the best way to select honorees. Currently, they have decided that the BBWAA is the body best-suited to vote, but the Hall of Fame board is free to make changes as it sees fit."That's the Hall's decision. And the "... integrity, sportsmanship, character..." language is the Hall's language.
If the Hall of Fame wants its honorees selected on the basis of statistics and nothing else, that's easy. We have a dozen folks at The Hardball Times who, given an afternoon, could propose a credible formula defining a Hall of Fame player by the numbers.
I think most of us can agree, though, that a Hall of Statistics would lose some of the romance of what we have now. But once you move beyond mere numbers, you bring in subjectivity—opinion, interpretation. And that invites differences of approach, less so on what 300 wins means than on what "integrity" means, and "character."
You can make a good case—as Dave Studeman has—that the process should be examined, overhauled, opened up, made to reflect 21st century reality. But don't blame the people who have been asked to figure out how to do a vaguely defined job for doing just that.
Posted by: Joe Distelheim
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