"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Hall of Fame

The following 36 players are on the ballot for the Hall of Fame, which is scheduled to announce this year's results at 1 PM centrall/2PM eastern today:

Moises AlouJeff BagwellArmando BenitezCraig Biggio
Barry BondsSean CaseyRoger ClemensRay Durham
Eric GagneTom GlavineLuis GonzalezJacque Jones
Todd JonesJeff KentPaul Lo DucaGreg Maddux
Edgar MartinezDon MattinglyFred McGriffMark McGwire
Jack MorrisMike MussinaHideo NomoRafael Palmeiro
Mike PiazzaTim RainesKenny RogersCurt Schilling
Richie SexsonLee SmithJ.T. SnowSammy Sosa
Frank ThomasMike TimlinAlan TrammellLarry Walker

Sportswriters (and why is it again that they get the vote and not ex-players and ex-managers and ex-scouts?) get to name 10 players if they want, but don't have to name that many if there aren't good candidates.   If I had a vote, here's who I would name:

  1. Bonds... I don't care about the steroids enough to ignore that he was the best player in baseball for more than a decade.
  2. Clemens... ditto.   Best pitcher for more than a decade.  
  3. Maddux... dominant pitcher and an easy choice.
  4. Morris... best big-game pitcher of the 1980s.
  5. Schilling... best big-game pitcher of the 2000s.
  6. Thomas... a dominant hitter for a five-year period with the White Sox.   Sort of like Dale Murphy, only with better counting stats.  
  7. Piazza... a closer call, but the best power-hitter catcher in history.
  8. Raines... the second-best leadoff man in baseball over a long period (trailing only the inestimable Ricky Henderson).  

And that's it for me.   Here's the people I left off who are worthy of a sniff at the Hall in some people's minds.

  • Glavine -- arguably only the third-best pitcher (behind Maddux and Smoltz) on his own team.
  • Kent - a power-hitting second-baseman... but that's just it.   His numbers don't look that great in any other position, and I never heard anyone say he was a great fielder at the least important fielding position other than left field.
  • Martinez - I'm not that interested in DHs.
  • Mattingly - career was too short.
  • McGwire and Sosa and Palmeiro - here's where the rubber meets the road for me... Bonds is in because he would have been in without the steroids.   These guys aren't, because, in my judgment, they wouldn't have made the Hall without the help.   That's my rationale.
  • Biggio - a very good player who was never thought of as a great player at any point in his career.   Would I want him on my team?   Yes.   Do I want to go to Cooperstown to see his plaque?   No.    

All of the rest are good players who may have had a few great years, but aren't anyone's idea of a HoF'er.  

If I had to bet, though, I bet that Maddux, Thomas, and Glavine are the only ones who get in.   The hypocrisy of the Viagra/Cialis gobbling sportswriting establishment in rejecting Bonds and Clemens will continue.   Also, I fully expect McGwire to drop off the ballot because he won't get 5%.  

We'll see in a few minutes.


UPDATE:   Well, it was as expected.   Maddux, Thomas and Glavine were the only ones voted in.   To put in perspective the lunacy of keeping Barry Bonds out and putting Thomas in... even though I agree that Thomas is deserving, consider this:

1. Thomas had 73.6 WAR.   That's a HoF career in my book... he was essentially a 6 WAR player for a dozen years, which means he was at the very top of the game.

2. But Bonds had 162.5 WAR.   I mean, holy crap!    That trails only Babe Ruth among position players, and only slightly.   He's 34 WAR ahead of Stan Musial, for crying out loud.  

3. And, Bonds had over 100 WAR by age 34, i.e., before he started having the monster seasons from 2000 on that people associate with his steroid use.   Let's say you cut his WAR in half for his career after 34 as an adjustment/punishment for using steroids.   He still has 130 WAR... more than Musial, more than Ted Williams, more than Lou Gehrig, more than Mickey Mantle.   See what I mean?   Even if you punish him, he's still a first-ballot, no questions asked Hall of Famer.

4. Finally, consider this... you could basically take nine 10 WAR seasons away from Bonds and have Frank Thomas' career value.   That's nine seasons of Mike Trout production at the top of his game.   Take it away and Bonds is still, apparently, the equal of Thomas, who just became a first ballot HoF'er.

Q.E.D.   Barry Bonds has to be in the Hall of Fame and it's ridiculous that he's not.

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