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Keep ‘Em Out? Presentation to PNW SABR

For this exercise, the BBWAA has abdicated Hall-of-Fame nominating responsibility to a group of baseball experts in the Pacific Northwest. These experts are fans with their own biases, but they have developed their own objective methods for evaluating players, and the writers are confident they won’t nominate Tom Lampkin based on his 1999 season. As fans, they would enjoy seeing all the good players from their era elected. However, they understand that the Hall-of-Fame must be reserved for the great players. 

You are on the nominating committee. You've listened to the agents make compelling cases why their players should be inducted. You know the numbers well, but the agents filled in details you might have forgotten, and provided a context that made those numbers sound more impressive. For example, you might not have realized that Thurman Munson and Bill White each had three consecutive seasons in which they hit over .300 with 100 or more RBI. Given that both players were outstanding defensively and had unusual speed for their positions, you might be inclined to nominate them. Your job, however, is to disqualify those stars, because Munson’s death and White’s torn Achilles heel prevented them from having the kinds of careers that the best players at their positions had. Although there are sentimental reasons for electing those guys, you are setting a precedent.

Instructions:

Circle “in” meaning you believe the player’s disqualifications are not strong enough to exclude him from the Hall-of-Fame ballot or “out,” meaning regardless of his qualifications, he does not merit Hall-of-Fame consideration. If you were reviewing résumés to decide whom to interview for a job, you would look for reasons to exclude candidates with good qualifications to limit your search to the very best. This is an analogous exercise. However, understand that the best reasons for keeping these players out are detailed in most of these short descriptions. Your “in” vote generally means you would support the player’s induction into the Hall-of-Fame, although the player’s qualifications aren’t stated in all cases. 

Do not dwell on any of these choices. Although the identities of some of these players will be obvious, the goal is to view the disqualifications of the others objectively. Base your decision on the weight of the evidence, rather than your pre-existing bias about the player. 

NOTE: Players in two categories are mostly ignored in the choices you will make: 

1.

Relief pitchers. The criteria for relief pitcher evaluation are changing more quickly than a Rob Dibble fastball reached home plate. We can’t disqualify great relievers based on numbers or other measures yet, nor have we established their value relative to other players.

2.

Defensive specialists. I believe the Hall-of-Fame should exclude all players with one-dimensional contributions (strikeout pitchers, base stealers, defensive gazelles, HR godzillas, and slap-hitters with glitzy BAs), unless their performances reach extraordinary levels, and their value is acknowledged during their careers.

in

out

1.

After making 15 more errors than anyone else in the league (9 more than anyone else in the majors), he ranked among the majors’ top 11 error makers in each of next five seasons (5th, tied for 10th, 5th, tied for 11th, and 7th). He later became a gold glove winner, but only made three All-Star teams.

in

out

2.

All 63 Hall-of-Fame pitchers have a lower career ERA than this starter who won 20 games three times, but didn’t approach 300 wins.

in

out

3.

He handily won 300 games while maintaining effectiveness through his final season, but won 20 games only once, and led his league in just one category (only one time).

in

out

4.

Due to an ego that matched his exceptional ability, this guy was one of the worst pitchers in baseball during his final 3+ seasons (age 40-42) with a 16-36 record and horrendous ERAs. He also had a 20-loss season in his prime.

in

out

5.

Strat-O-Matic rated him a 3B-1* in six consecutive seasons, then a 3B-2 in his final five seasons. He is 5th in career assists. He compiled a .362 OB Pct. and a .464 SP despite playing the entire decade of the ‘60s, but hit .300 only four times, and drove in 100 runs four times in his relatively short career.

in

out

6.

Of the 17 1B in the Hall-of-Fame, only Rod Carew, George Kelly, and Jake Beckley have lower slugging percentages than this ‘60s-‘80s 1B; all have higher OB percentages; and only Willie McCovey and Harmon Killebrew (who averaged 170 more home runs) have lower batting averages.

in

out

7.

Highly respected off the field, this lefty was the first pitcher to have ERAs under 4.00 in his first 20 seasons, but led a league in just one category (only one time) and reached the 15-win level just five times. He failed to win 300 games.

in

out

8.

One of many players forced to move to 1B because of an inability to play other positions, this slugger failed to rank in the top 500 in BA or OB Pct. or the top 200 in slugging Pct.

in

out

9.

This durable right-handed starter led his league in negative categories (e.g. games lost, HR allowed) eight times.

in

out

10.

This gentleman farmer had a 24-30 record in his first four seasons, and did not become effective until developing an illegal pitch.

in

out

11.

His glittering accomplishments overshadowed facts like losing records in eight seasons.

in

out

12.

This player, currently embroiled in a Hall-of-Fame controversy, hit .245 with no home runs as a regular first baseman for a pennant winner.

in

out

13.

In the last 10 years of his 16-year career, he averaged 21 HR, 86 RBI, and a .291 BA; primarily as a DH. Slugging is his primary qualification, yet he failed to hit 400 HR.

in

out

14.

He won 20 games three times, but had just five ERAs under 3.00, despite pitching the entire decade of the ‘60s, and failed to win 300 games.

in

out

15.

He won 20 games five times, but had just five ERAs under 3.00, despite pitching exclusively in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and failed to win 300 games.

in

out

16.

This starter won only 224 games in 17 seasons, winning 20 games only once.

in

out

17.

This starter won only 224 games, and had a career ERA of 3.26, despite pitching exclusively in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

in

out

18.

Fans falsely blame his unspectacular .526 winning percentage on bad teams, but his very high ranking on the lifetime loss list was due to longevity and his own pitching. Most of his teams were above-average to good: they compiled a .507 winning percentage (in contrast, the Mariners have topped .507 only four times).

in

out

19.

His considerable accomplishments, all offensive, included assaulting fans and reporters. He wreaked violence on baseballs with his bat, and on men, women, and children without it.

in

out

20.

The 11% of Hall-of-Fame pitchers who gave up more home runs than this righty all won at least 30 more games and allowed at least .39 fewer ER/9 IP. He also had fewer shutouts per start than any Hall-of-Famer.

in

out

21.

This starter won 287 games, but won fewer than 15 games in eight consecutive seasons.

in

out

22.

Playing primarily 1B after proving he couldn’t play his original position, he peaked at 14 HR (92 career) and his four best RBI totals were 70, 80, 90 and 100. He did not play in the dead-ball era.

Player A

in out

 

Player B

in out

23.

These “twin” shortstops were never regarded as similar by the media. Both came up the same year and played for successful teams. Player B played four more years. Both were also very similar to Hall-of-Famer, Luis Aparicio. Player A was a consistent defensive star; he has the second highest career fielding percentage at shortstop, but won just two gold glove awards. He is 8th in career assists. Strat-O-Matic rated him a SS-1 nine consecutive seasons, his career average rating was 1.6.* Player B won five gold glove awards and Strat-O-Matic rated him a SS-1 eight times, but his average rating was 2.0 due to mediocrity before and after his greatness. He is 9th in career assists; Aparicio is 2nd. Aparicio stole 506 bases with a 78% success rate, Player A stole 318 bases with a 75% success rate, and Player B stole 321 bases with a 75% success rate. Player A hit just .260 with a .300 OB Pct. and a .320 slugging percentage. Aparicio topped him by .002, .011, and .023. Player B topped Aparicio by .005, .011, and .014.

in

out

24.

He had 39 or more starts in his three best seasons in the ‘60s, yet failed to win 20 games in any of them.

in

out

25.

He drove in 83 or more runs in 11 consecutive seasons, averaging 89 RBI per season for his career, and won five Gold Glove awards, but only played 15 years and never played in the post-season.

in

out

26.

This OF’s five sub-.250 BAs were scattered throughout his career (he did not play in the ‘60s). He hit .272 lifetime, topping .300 once. He hit 20 or more HR in 11 of 12 seasons.

in

out

27.

He was a superstar in his prime, but averaged just .256 with 8.6 HR in the 16 full and partial seasons surrounding his prime. That includes ten BAs at or below .250. Although he was a “1” and a gold-glover in his prime, Strat-O-Matic rated him a “3” at his key defensive position nine times, and a “4” twice in the surrounding years.*

in

out

28.

The statistical qualifications of this pitcher are hard to dispute, but he was convicted of possession of cocaine.

in

out

29.

This OF scored 100 runs seven times and hit .293 with just 149 HR. He was never respected for his defense, playing primarily LF despite his speed. He is not Tim Raines, but his career is remarkably similar.

in

out

30.

You could argue that he was the most valuable pitcher of his era, yet he pitched only 12 seasons, and had a lifetime losing record.

in out 31. This first baseman hit over .300 in seven of eight seasons, but hit 30 home runs only once, and 20 home runs five other times. His highest batting average was .319.

in

out

32.

He or she hit four home runs as a first baseman in a six-year span in 2,587 at-bats.

in

out

33.

Although his numbers fall just short of a recently elected Hall-of-Famer who played the same position in the same era, this defensive star hit only .219 in his sophomore jinx season, and failed to reach .260 nine other times. He is fourth in all-time HR at his position, but never hit .300.

in

out

34.

He was a regular starter for just ten years, but was as good as any pitcher in baseball during those years. He finished among the top 15 qualifiers in ERA every year he was eligible. Two Hall-of-Famers had very similar short careers for similar reasons: Dizzy Dean and Sandy Koufax, especially if you adjust Koufax's ERA to account for the larger strike zone and higher mound (1962-1966) and great pitcher’s park. He won 20 more and lost 8 more games than Dean, and won 5 more and lost 4 more than Koufax. His hit ratio, walk ratio, hit+walk ratio, and strikeout ratio all fall between the two. He had the same number of shutouts as Dean. The five-time gold glove winner only won 20 games three times because he made 17 relief appearances during the three other seasons he won 16 or more.

in

out

35.

His RBI total ranks high on the all-time list (RBI are his sole qualification), but Jose Canseco, Jim Rice, Bob Horner, Joe Carter, Jay Buhner, Dick Stuart, Danny Tartabull, Darryl Strawberry, Ruben Sierra, Kevin Mitchell, George Bell, and Will Clark are among many players from his era who drove in more runs per game.

in

out

36.

He was elected to congress as a Republican.

in

out

37.

This righty pitched a no-hitter and compiled ERAs under 4.00 in his first 12 seasons, but allowed 50 HRs in one season.

in

out

38.

In his last 11 years, this 1B-DH averaged .271 with 11 HR, 42 R, and 57 RBI.

in

out

39.

This outfielder hit in the .220s three times as a regular in a hitter’s era.

in

out

40.

He won 20 games four times and an ERA title, but had a 20-loss season, only won 229 games, and had a 3.30 ERA despite having his best year in the ‘60s.

in

out

41.

He stole money from us through tax evasion. Although documentation of other crimes is substantial, that is his only conviction. Should this convicted criminal, or any convicted criminal, be allowed into the Hall-of-Fame?

in

out

42.

He won 20 games only twice, and just 209 in his 14-year career. Although his four consecutive 300 IP seasons may have contributed to his career-ending injury, his era and his ballpark greatly enhanced his career ERA (.89 higher on the road than at home). Orel Hershiser has had a very similar career.

in

out

43.

Although he once called himself the best player in the game, this OF hit just .275 in his last 12 years with an average of 18 HR and 80 RBI. He made the transition from cocaine-using bad boy to elder statesman during those years.

* Strat-O-Matic rates players 1-4 for what Sabermetricians like to call “range factor.” 

1 = excellent, 2 = good, 3 = average, 4 = below average

 

 

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