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Have you ever seen a Hall of Famer play baseball?

There are 291 members of the Hall of Fame and most sources, including the Hall of Fame website itself, will tell you that there are 202 former Major League players, 35 Negro leaguers, 26 executives or pioneers, 19 managers and nine umpires. That happens to be incorrect, so let's get that straightened out. Although Clark Griffith is regularly listed as a Hall of Fame pioneer/executive, he was in fact elected (by the Veterans Committee in 1946) in recognition of his playing career, as a pitcher. So I'm adding Griffith as well as the two Negro League inductees who also got to play in the major leagues (Satchel Paige and Monte Irvin), giving us a starting point of 205 Hall of Famers that baseball fans have so far had a chance to see playing in the major leagues.

So - have you seen one of them play?

It probably depends on how old you are, first of all. The Hall of Fame has a waiting list these days. The last actual Hall of Fame player active in the major leagues was Rickey Henderson, in 2003. You have probably seen a host of players who will be Hall of Famers someday. But there's many a slip between the cup and the wrist (or whatever the hell they say.) It's hard to imagine what could possibly keep Derek Jeter out of the Hall of Fame. Personally,  I think he's planning to take a run at 4,000 hits and if he gets there he'll then fix his sights on the all-time record held by... Pete Rose. Who isn't in the Hall of Fame yet, either. So youneverknow.

Me, I'm older than dirt. Some dirt, at least. I've seen many Hall of Famers play in person. But strangely enough - I'm not certain exactly how many. When I go over the list of possibilities I discover that I'm actually not sure about some guys. Did I see Jim Palmer, Ferguson Jenkins, Gaylord Perry or Steve Carlton pitch? It's quite possible, but I honestly don't think so. I just think I'd remember that, the same way I vividly remember seeing Tom Seaver or Rich Gossage. If I was at a game in 1986 or 1987 when Steve Carlton made one of his two career appearances in Toronto, I'd remember. I would have been breathless with excitement. Steve Carlton! And Tony Perez...  I have no idea one way or the other. Did I happen to catch the Red Sox in those three years? Was he in the lineup? Probably, but I'm not sure.

In which case, I can still submit with absolute confidence, Kirby Puckett, Dave Winfield, Carlton Fisk, George Brett, Nolan Ryan, Robin Yount, Don Sutton, Phil Niekro, Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers, Tom Seaver, Rod Carew, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Rickey Henderson, Rich Gossage, Cal Ripken, Wade Boggs, Dennis Eckersley, Paul Molitor, Eddie Murray. And Stan Musial.

Now there there were doubtless lots of players roaming the fields of North America this past season who will eventually go into the Hall. What are the chances of having seen one?

Not nearly as good as they used to be.

I think it's time for some pretty pictures. Here are the Hall of Famers per team from 1871-99. For the first 20 years, there are a few historically important players from the Dark Ages - Cap Anson, Charley Radbourn. We get a distinct jump as the modern game begins to emerge in the 1890s, and people like Cy Young and Kid Nichols come onto the scene. We 've reached an average of roughly two Hall of Famers for each major league franchise. We stop in 1899 because 1900 was unusual.

In 1900, everything changes. Just for a moment, but if you were a baseball fan in 1900 (and no, I wasn't) - well, you couldn't go to the ball park without seeing a Hall of Famer. It just couldn't happen. Everybody had a Hall of Famer. The average was more than three of them to a team.

1900 (26)

Brooklyn (4) - Jennings, Keller, Kelley, McGinnity
Pittsburgh (4) - Wagner, Clarke, Chesbro, Waddell
Philadelphia (3) - Delahanty, Lajoie, Flick
Boston (5) - J.Collins, Hamilton, Duffy, Nichols, Willis
St. Louis (3) - Wallace, Burkett, Young (plus W.Robinson)
Chicago (3) - Chance, Bresnahan, Griffith
Cincinnati (2) - Beckley, Crawford
New York (2) - Davis, Mathewson

You'll notice that I'm not even counting guys like John McGraw and Wilbert Robinson, who were active players in 1900 but are both in the Hall mainly because of what they accomplished as managers. McGraw was certainly a Hall quality player, although his playing career was very short.

Now 1900 ought to be an outlier. 1900 was the year of contraction - the National League shrunk from 12 teams to 8, and while fewer jobs were available,  it wasn't the stars who had trouble finding work. It was a one-year phenomenon. In 1901 the NL introduced a kind of salary cap - no player could be paid more than $2400 a year. Ban Johnson, who had just turned the Western League into the quite successful American League, saw his chance to set up a rival major league. The AL began signing NL stars, the war was on,  and the rest of history...

So 1900 was an unusual year, and in 1901 the number of major league teams doubled. There would be 16 teams for more than half a century. What did this do to your chances of seeing a Hall of Famer when you went to the ball park?

Very little, as it turns out. By 1930, with twice as many teams, we find that the number of Hall of Famers in uniform had doubled as well. There were 53 Hall of Famers active during the 1930 season, and every team in the majors had at least one suit up for them. Even the Red Sox, who traded theirs to the Yankees in early May. We still have an average of better than three of Hall of Famers per team - just as we did during the freak contraction year of 1900.

Of course they weren't all at the peak of their powers. The aging Eddie Collins made a few pinch-hit appearances for the A's, but he was mainly one of Connie Mack's coaches. Hank Greenberg and Dizzy Dean were youngsters making very tentative debuts and wouldn't even make a roster to stay for a couple more seasons. But that's always the way. Ty Cobb hit .240 in 1905,  Mariano Rivera had an ERA of 5.51 in 1995...

1930 (53)
Philadelphia AL (5) - Cochrane, Foxx, Simmons, Grove, Collins
Washington (4) - Cronin, Manush, Rice, Goslin
New York AL (9) - Dickey, Gehrig, Lazzeri, Combs, Ruth, Ruffing, Pennock, Hoyt, Gomez
Cleveland (2) - Sewell, Averill
Detroit (2) - Gehringer, Greenberg (also Hoyt - see NYY)
St.Louis AL (1) - Ferrell (also Goslin, Manush - see Wsh)
Chicago AL (3) - Appling, Lyons, Faber
Boston AL (0) - (also Ruffing - see NYY)

St. Louis NL (6) - Bottomley, Frisch, Hafey, Haines, Grimes, Dean
Chicago NL (5) - Hartnett, Cuyler, Wilson, Kelly, Hornsby
New York NL (6) - Terry, T.Jackson, Lindstrom, Ott, Bancroft, Hubbell
Brooklyn (1) - Vance
Philadelphia NL (2) - Klein, Alexander
Cincinnati (2) - Heilmann, Rixey (also Kelly - see NYG)
Pittsburgh (3) - Traynor, P.Waner, L.Waner
Boston (2) - Sisler, Maranville (also Grimes - see STL)

That's right - the third-place Yankees had nine Hall of Famers in uniform in 1930.

And here are the Hall of Famers per team from 1900-1929.

But 1930 was the high-water mark. Just five years later (1935), we're down to 42 active players who would end up in the Hall. And then history intervened - the Hall itself was established in 1936, and in 1941 the United States went to war (the rest of the world had been pre-occupied with this for a couple of years already.) A remarkable number of Hall of Fame baseball players - Musial, Greenberg, Appling, Reese, Slaughter, Ruffing, DiMaggio, Rizzuto, Gordon, Mize, Spahn, Dickey are just some of them - missed seasons out of their career while this catastrophe raged.

Anyway, just 14 Hall of Fame players were active in the major leagues in 1944, and only 15 in 1945.

The players came back. By 1947 there were 32 active Hall of Famers in the game, and by 1957 there were 37. But you notice that the average is now just a little more than two Hall of Famers per team. And this figure itself, 37 active Hall of Famers in 1957, is the high-water mark for the entire post-war era (it was matched a few times - in 1965 and from 1967-69).

Here are the Hall of Famers per team from 1930-59:

The expansion era began in 1961. By 1962 there were 20 major league teams and by 1969 there were 24 teams. But the highest number of Hall of Famers in action never surpassed 37 - they were now simply scattered among many more teams. Like so:

1969 (37)
St. Louis (4) - Cepeda, Brock, Carlton, Gibson
San Francisco (4) - Mays, McCovey, Marichal, Perry
Chicago NL (3) - Banks, Williams, Jenkins
Cincinnati (2) - Perez, Bench
Philadelphia (0)
Pittsburgh (4) - Clemente, Stargell, Mazeroski, Bunning
Atlanta (2) - Aaron, Niekro (also Wilhelm - see CAL)
Los Angeles (2) - Drysdale, Sutton
Houston (1) - Morgan
New York NL (2) - Seaver, Ryan

Boston (2) - Yastrzemski, Fisk
Detroit (1) - Kaline,
Minnesota (2) - Killebrew, Carew
Chicago AL (1) - Aparicio
California (1) - Wilhelm
Oakland (3) - Jackson, Hunter, Fingers
New York AL (0) -
Baltimore (3) - F.Robinson, Palmer, B. Robinson,
Washington (0)
Cleveland (0)

Don't you just love that Zero for the Yankees? Mickey Mantle retired that spring, leaving them bereft of active Hall of Famers for the first time since 1912, when they were still called the Highlanders. The 1969 Yankees featured one guy who definitely will be a Hall of Famer, but as a manager - Bobby Cox - and two guys who at various times looked like they would become Hall of Famers, but didn't - Bobby Murcer and Thurman Munson. The Yankees didn't get a Hall of Famer into uniform until 1975, when they scooped up the first true free agent (Catfish Hunter.)  They've had that base covered for most of the years since then, one would think (1991 and 1992 are the problem years - the only viable candidates are Don Mattingly and Bernie Williams - but in 1993 they added Wade Boggs, who's already in the Hall, and in 1995 Jeter made his debut.)

Anyway, here are the Hall of Famers per team  from 1960-1989:

We're now down to about 1.5 Hall of Famers per team.

That was 40 years ago, and there are, I would venture, three players who were active in 1969 who are still at the centre of the Hall debate and could very well eventually gain admission: Ron Santo, Tommy John, and Jim Kaat. Even so, this would still only bring the total up to 40 Hall of Famers, scattered over 24 teams.

Two more franchises were added in 1977, two more in 1993, and two more in 1998. But the number of Hall of Famers in action at any given moment has continued falling. Obviously, this is partially because there were players active in 1984 (let's say) who will eventually go into the Hall but just haven't made it yet. But we're not returning to the three Hall of famers per team mark anytime soon.

There's an equilibrium somewhere in here, somewhere in between the 3 plus Hall of Famers per team that has blessed the ballplayers of the 1930s and the 1.5 Hall of Famers per team that has prevailed for the last - well, almost half a century. The bar needs to be adjusted.

What should that equilibrium be?

Well, anything we want it to be. Setting a bar anywhere for anything is pretty well always a fairly arbitrary procedure. The random figure I'm going with is about 2.5 per Hall of Fame players per major league franchise. By 1993, we were up to 28 franchises, which would suggest that we could to have about some 60 or so active Hall of Famers. I think that's a pretty conservative figure.

It's not like the talent pool has shrunk. Quite the reverse, as everyone knows.The 26 Hall of Famers active in 1900, like the 53 Hall of Famers active in 1930, were all drawn from the Caucasian population of the United States. By 1960, major league talent was coming from the entire population of the United States (which, roughly, tripled in the course of the 20th century) as well as Latin America. The careers of Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente were in full swing. By the end of the century, the talent pool was even larger as the first great Asian players entered the majors. There should be - and I have no doubt that there are - many more great baseball players active right now than ever before. Many, many more. If there were 25 active players of Hall of Fame quality 100 years ago, it's not unreasonable to find about 60 from a talent pool at least four times that size.

This is, I freely admit, an odd (if not downright ass-backwards!) way to go about identifying those players who could be regarded as Hall of Famers. But it appeals to me...

We're going to thin the herd around 1930, which will require some evictions. We will have to add a few players from early in the 20th century simply for the sake of consistency (if Billy Herman is in, so is Buddy Myer - they're the same player). There are also a few players who I think would be clear-cut Hall of Famers if they had done during their missing war years what they did on the field before and after their service. This wasn't an injury - this was somehow different, a condition of the times they lived in. In my mind they've earned the benefit of whatever doubt they might be. But mostly we're going to be adding the best players of the post-war era as needed to bring the Hall roster more in line with our General Equilbrium.

But we can't be too fanatical about that - talent sometimes bunches up in the strangest ways. It really is possible that the three greatest first basemen who ever lived were all active in the same league at the same time (I don't think Greenberg was quite that good, but he's pretty close.) Or consider Roberto Clemente, an amazing and unforgettable player - and at best, the third-best guy at his own position in his own time (obviously behind Aaron and Robinson, I think he's got to come behind Kaline as well, and there were even years when guys like Roger Maris and Johnny Callison were better.) Roberto Clemente! You absolutely do not have to be the best at your spot while you're active.


Thirteen Men Out: - George Kelly, Ross Youngs, Travis Jackson, Fred Lindstrom, Rick Ferrell, Lloyd Waner, Waite Hoyt, Jesse Haines, Hack Wilson, Kiki Cuyler, Earle Combs, Chick Hafey, Jim Bottomley

The Overlooked Old-Timers: - Ed Reulbach, Johnny Kling, Larry Doyle, Carl Mays, Stan Hack, Buddy Myer, Wally Berger, Sherry Magee, Dolph Camilli

The War-Torn Careers - Johnny Pesky, Dom Di Maggio, Mickey Vernon

Stars of the 1940s - Bob Elliott, Wilbur Cooper, Vern Stephens

Stars of the 1950s - Allie Reynolds, Gil Hodges, Alvin Dark, Minnie Minoso

Stars of the 1960s - Ken Boyer, Joe Torre, Tony Oliva, Dick Allen, Rusty Staub, Jimmy Wynn, Ron Santo, Jim Kaat, Vada Pinson, Jim Fregosi, Bill Freehan

Stars of the 1970s - Luis Tiant, Reggie Smith, Graig Nettles, Al Oliver, Ted Simmons, Bill Buckner, Steve Garvey, Darrel Evans, Tommy John, Dave Concepcion, Bobby Grich, Cecil Cooper, Ron Cey, Buddy Bell, Dwight Evans, Dave Parker, Thurman Munson

Stars of the 1980s - Keith Hernandez, Ron Guidry, Don Mattingly, Orel Hershiser, Lee Smith, Gary Gaetti, Harold Baines, Dale Murphy, Dennis Martinez, Jack Morris, Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, Tim Raines, Brett Butler, Willie Randolph

Stars of the 1990s (generally not yet eligible) - Kevin Brown, Craig Biggio, Roberto Alomar, Tom Glavine, Mike Mussina, Kenny Lofton, Bernie Williams, Jeff Kent, Mike Piazza, Larry Walker, Albert Belle, Luis Gonzalez, Frank Thomas, Jim Edmonds, Jeff Bagwell, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Greg Maddux, Barry Larkin, Curt Schilling

Active in 2009, but have already assembled enough of a resume - Johnny Damon, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Billy Wagner, Gary Sheffield, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, Ken Griffey Jr, Omar Vizquel, Ivan Rodriguez, Jamie Moyer, Jim Thome, Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, Chipper Jones, Carlos Delgado, Trevor Hoffmann, Alex Rodriguez, Garret Anderson, Todd Helton, Vladimir Guerrerro, Scott Rolen

Everybody else still playing can be regarded on working on the resume - even Albert Pujols. Technically, Albert the Great wouldn't even qualify for the Hall if he were to give up baseball this winter and devote his time to fighting crime. Neither would Ichiro Suzuki. You need to play for 10 seasons (a requirement that the Hall has waived exactly once, for Addie Joss.)

We have to make a judgement on five players generally linked, in the minds of the public anyway, with performance-enhancing drugs. As far as I know, only one of these guys actually failed a major-league drug test - we just take their guilt for granted. But anyway - a rule that is not enforced is no rule at all. I have written (and documented quite convincingly, if I do say so myself) that Fred McGriff was clearly a greater player than Mark McGwire: with the exception of that five year period, from ages 31 to 35, when the always injury-prone McGwire built himself a new body and temporarily turned into the mightiest right-handed power hitter in history. Baseball didn't stop him. Baseball, from top to bottom, didn't just allow it to happen - they cheered wildly as it happened. Those were the circumstances McGwire played under, he took full advantage, and helped his team win. It seems to me that blacklisting McGwire now would be a little too much like to booting Ty Cobb out because we don't approve of racism, or Ed Walsh because we've banned the spitball. It's not an exact parallel, I realize - but I think it's too close for comfort, and I do believe rather strongly that rules or laws that are not enforced are not to be taken too seriously or applied in retrospect.

The Gang of Four. Or Five - Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire

And then there are players currently on the permanently Ineligible List. Only two of them are truly serious candidates, and I'll always be a hardliner on Joe Jackson. But I will open the Hall to the other one, though I do think he must remain banished from active participation in the game.

Ineligible List - Pete Rose

This is, obviously, a bigger Hall - I may have evicted 13 guys, but I've added 61 that Hall voters have so far passed on, another 20 they haven't had a chance to vote on yet, and 6 special cases. It's built with the idea of tracking a certain utterly arbitrary equilbrium of roughly 2.5 Hall of Famers for each franchise active at a given time. The 1910s are still somwhat under-represented. But from the early 1920s right through to the end of the century we have from 2.3 to 2.75 Hall of Famers per franchise active every year. Which is what I was aiming at.

You can set the bar wherever you like. If you like the post-war equilibrium, of roughly 1.25 to 1.5 per franchise, and don't want to add anyone - no problem. You can achieve the equilbrium of your choice by thinning the herd a lot more drastically than I have. Candidates for dismissal would be people like Herb Pennock, Earl Averill, Ernie Lombardi, Bobby Doerr, Joe Gordon, Enos Slaughter, Harry Hooper, Heinie Manush, Ray Schalk, Edd Roush, Rabbit Maranville, Pie Traynor. Dizzy Dean (but if Dizzy is out, isn't Sandy Koufax? And if Koufax is out, how does Drysdale get to stay...)

Personally, I'd rather do as little of that as possible. The least deserving Hall member is doubtless one of McGraw's old Giants that Frankie Frisch placed in the Hall when he ran the veteran's committee - Travis Jackson or George Kelly. I have gone for the Big Hall, but I don't want to get to the point where Larrry Bowa and J.T. Snow are modern equivalents to Hall of Famers. So I'm kicking Jackson and Kelly and Youngs and the rest to the curb, but I don't feel good about it. They were, without exception, really good ballplayers, they've been dead for many years, and I'd much, much rather see them remembered with admiration and affection be insulted.
Fun With the Hall of Fame (A Holiday Diversion) | 50 comments | Create New Account
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christaylor - Saturday, December 26 2009 @ 03:36 PM EST (#210509) #
Really good article - fun read.

One question, why go easy on Rose and let him in while taking a tough stance on Shoeless Joe? Personally, I'd sooner admit Jackson than Rose as the history indicates that Jackson was a victim of circumstance versus Rose who knew what he was doing and didn't suffer many of the pressures Jackson did.

Palmerio will be an interesting case when it come to HOF balloting; there's no statistical reason to keep him out, but a better ethical reason to keep him out than Rose.
Magpie - Saturday, December 26 2009 @ 04:14 PM EST (#210510) #
Rose is pretty slimy indeed, but his playing career looks clean enough - it's what he got up to afterwards. So that's my arbitrary line - honour him as a player, banish him for the rest of it. While managing he violated a rule that had been in place since 1920, that had been enforced, and that the players are reminded of every year.

As for Jackson - while much is pretty hazy, two things are certain: he definitely took money as part of a conspiracy to deliberately lose World Series games, and he definitely played like crap in the first five games of the 1919 Series. It's too bad. He's not the first person to get caught up in something nasty that was bigger than he was and he won't be the last. But while he's not as "guilty" as Gandil and Risberg, he's still more perpetrator than victim.
Mike Green - Saturday, December 26 2009 @ 04:48 PM EST (#210511) #
If you are going "big hall", you would probably also want to consider Sal Bando, Bobby Bonds and Robin Ventura among retired players and Andruw Jones, Vlad the Impaler and Bobby Abreu among active players.  I would pass on Garret Anderson. Among the pitchers, you would want to consider Reuschel, Cone, Saberhagen, Finley, Tanana and Koosman.  I would pass on Jack Morris; Roy Halladay has already well surpassed Morris, both for peak and career.  Basically, the bar for the current Hall ought to be set around 61-63 WAR using Rally's system, and if you like a big Hall, it ought to be around 55-57 WAR (subject to variations for peak-heavies and high-leverage relievers). 
owen - Saturday, December 26 2009 @ 05:36 PM EST (#210512) #
Love the article.

I don't know if I would kick Morris aside so quickly.  I used to be really sour on him, because he is so frequently the example cited by "pitch-to-the-score" win worshippers.  However, he also made tons and tons and tons of starts and threw tons and tons and tons of innings, and that's worth ... tons.

But if you are ranking entrants into your big hall by decade, see if you can cram Dave Stieb in there somehow, k?

Thanks for the read Magpie!

Mike Green - Saturday, December 26 2009 @ 06:15 PM EST (#210514) #
I was sure Stieb was there.  Magpie was undoubtedly testing us, and owen wins the prize.
Mick Doherty - Saturday, December 26 2009 @ 07:28 PM EST (#210515) #

Bill Buckner? Bill Buckner???

Maybe in the special IfNotForInjuriesWhatMightHaveBeen wing ... maybe.

Magpie - Saturday, December 26 2009 @ 07:53 PM EST (#210516) #
Bill Buckner?

That was for the Mets' fans. (Although 2715 hits is a lot of hits...)
CaramonLS - Saturday, December 26 2009 @ 08:38 PM EST (#210517) #
Garret Anderson and Johnny Damon?

I cannot support that.

Magpie - Saturday, December 26 2009 @ 10:18 PM EST (#210518) #
I cannot support that.

No problem. It just means there are probably at least 40 or 50 guys who should be removed from the Hall. But we can set the bar wherever we like.
CeeBee - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 08:51 AM EST (#210521) #
Or we can replace Anderson and Damon with 2 other players. I prefer a big hall to a small hall myself, especially with the modern day players the ones getting the shaft. Maybe not quite as big as what you listed but not far off. Thanks for the interesting read, Magpie. Once again you have shown why da Box is da best.
Jim - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 09:44 AM EST (#210522) #
I'm not really interested in the Hall, but it seems strange to me that you'd set the bar for the Hall at a level where the average franchise has more Hall of Famers then it would All-Stars in any given season.  In 2009 before injury replacements the NL had almost exactly 2 All-Stars per franchise. 

That roster included luminaries like:
Ryan Franklin
Zach Duke
Ted Lilly
Brad Hawpe
Freddie Sanchez

To get to 2.5 Hall of Famers per franchise in the NL, there has to be 1.5 Hall of Famers in the league for everyone of these players that don't even really belong in All-Star games. 

Even if you supported the biggest Hall possible...  you can't get any higher then 19 Hall of Famers on that NL All-Star team.  Which would mean at 2.5 HOF players per franchise you'd need to have 42-19=25 HOF players in the league that didn't make the All Star team in the NL. 

To even get to 19 you have to make some wildly aggressive assumptions:  Justin Upton, Ryan Zimmerman, Dan Haren, Brian McCann, Prince, Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Braun, K-Rod, Lincecum, Josh Johnson, David Wright, Hanley Ramirez....

AWeb - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 11:14 AM EST (#210526) #
Perversely, the better the game is run and the larger the talent pool, the fewer HoFers there should be. The last few offseasons have really brought this into focus, but teams have figured out that given the current balance of talent, it is often better to give a solid youngster in his prime a try rather than a "known commodity" veteran, because there are so many league-average capable players around waiting for a chance.

The thought experiment goes as follows:
- one extreme is a league with barely enough players to fill the teams. In this league, the players all stick arround until they are not capable of playing at all, and a huge number of them amass the counting stats to get into the hall.
 - the other extreme is a league where there are a few qualified players for each major league spot. In this league, players only get to play while at their best, because there is always someone else to replace them. Only the elite greats stick around to amass HoF numbers.

Obviously reality is somewhere in between, but I think an argument can be made that fewer players should be getting into the HoF as time passes and the talent pool expands.
Magpie - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 11:23 AM EST (#210527) #
you can't get any higher then 19 Hall of Famers on that NL All-Star team

Well, the All-Star roster requires that every team be represented. It's always made for some pretty silly selections, with obviously better players being left at home. This happens every year and makes it a pretty useless point of comparison. It's not remotely relevant to the Hall. But shouldn't it be easier to construct an "All-Star team" of Hall of Fame quality players now than it was in 1933? We have twice as many teams to work with, and four times the population.

The real point is to suggest that there ought to be an equilibrium, and as the population base grows and the number of teams increases, the number of Hall of Famers should increase as well. Which it obviously hasn't. I go for a big Hall mainly because I don't want to kick a lot of old-timers out. But of course you can argue that a proper equilibrium is about one active Hall of Famer per franchise. Whatever you like. You can go small enough so that Sandy Koufax and Roberto Clemente aren't Hall of Famers. Never mind Dave Bancroft and Joe Sewell.
Chuck - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 12:13 PM EST (#210529) #

but I think an argument can be made that fewer players should be getting into the HoF as time passes and the talent pool expands.

I don't know if I agree with the should be part of your argument, but I do concede that limiting the career lengths of elite players (and giving their late 30's playing time to cheap, replacement level players) may have that impact, at least until HoF standards are suitably recalibrated to focus less on counting stats and more on peak years.

Philosophically, should every generation produce roughly the same number of Hall of Famers? I can't think of a compelling argument against this position. The HoF is meant to honour the best players of their time. The "rules" to identify said players will just have to change.

We're already seeing the HoF voters recalibrating their thinking when it comes to the number of career homeruns that guarantee entry into the Hall (of course this is all conflated with the issue of PED usage, so there is that as a mitigating factor).

We're seeing the BBWAA recalibrating their thinking when it comes to Cy Young voting, focusing less on wins. This may be an aberration, given the specific set of numbers produced this year by the likes of Greinke and Lincecum. Or it may represent a legitimate shift in thinking.

Recalibration comes more slowly than it should, granted, but it does come. There's no saying it wouldn't also come in a new world where we see far fewer veterans in their mid and late 30s, padding their stats at near replacement level.

- one extreme is a league with barely enough players to fill the teams. In this league, the players all stick arround until they are not capable of playing at all,

This sounds like the NHL in 1967 (and shortly thereafter) when the league expanded from 6 to 12 teams. I may not have this exactly correct, but I believe that a bunch of old goalies were encouraged to stick around because of the goalie shortage. Jacques Plante didn't play in 1967 but came out of a two-year retirement, at age 39, to play for five more seasons (to say nothing of an age-45 season in the WHA). Gump Worlsey found new life in Minnesota at ages 40-44. A 38-year old Terry Sawchuk played for the LA Kings. A 36-year old Glen Hall played with the St. Louis Blues until he was 39.

Of course, there is so much money to be made in pro sports nowadays that we should never again see this phenomenon.

AWeb - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 12:36 PM EST (#210530) #
The HoF is meant to honour the best players of their time. The "rules" to identify said players will just have to change.

I agree with this point, I was just thinking that without proper adjustments, there should be fewer HoF players if judged by previous standards. I also think that there is no particularly good argument for saying each era should have the same number of HoF players either. There are upswings and downswings, and with a group that is by its nature rare and elite, some eras (not 30 years eras perhaps, but maybe 5 year ones?) should have noticably fewer (or more) than others.
Magpie - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 12:41 PM EST (#210531) #
With respect to what AWeb is saying, one thing that has definitely happened over the years is as the overall quality of play improves, the gap between the best and the worst players in the game shrinks. The best players do not overwhelm the other players to the extent that they once did. The gap between greatness and ordinary is much smaller than it used to be.

Anyway, I wanted to try look at a couple of All-Star teams. It's probably best to avoid this year's crop, so let's put 1999 alongside 1933.

AL 1929                           AL 1999

Rick Ferrell                Ivan Rodriguez, c
Lou Gehrig                1b Jim Thome
Charlie Gehringer  2b Roberto Alomar
Jimmie Dykes 3b Cal Ripken
Joe Cronin ss Nomar Garciaparra
Babe Ruth rf Manny Ramirez
Al Simmons cf Ken Griffey
Ben Chapman lf Kenny Lofton
Lefty Grove p Pedro Martinez

Jimmie Foxx Rafael Palmeiro
Tony Lazzeri Derek Jeter
Earl Averill Harold Baines
Sam West Bernie Williams

----------- Omar Vizquel
-----------  Tony Fernandez
-----------  Jose Canseco
-----------  Ron Coomer
----------- Shawn Green
----------- John Jaha
----------- Jose Offerman
----------- Magglio Ordonez
----------- B.J. Surhoff
----------- Brad Ausmus

Lefty Grove Mike Mussina
Oral Hildebrand Mariano Rivera
Alvin Crowder David Cone
Wes Ferrell Roberto Hernandez
----------- Troy Percival
-----------  Charles Nagy
----------- John Wetteland
-----------  Jeff Zimmerman


Jimmie Wilson c Mike Piazza
Bill Terry 1b Mark McGwire
Frank Frisch 2b Jay Bell
Pepper Martin 3b Matt Williams
Dick Bartell ss Barry Larkin
Chuck Klein rf Larry Walker
Wally Berger cf Sammy Sosa
Chick Hafey lf Jeromy Burnitz
Bill Hallahan p Curt Schilling

Gabby Hartnett Mike Lieberthal
Tony Cuccinello Sean Casey
Woody English Vladimir Guerrero
Pie Traynor Tony Gwynn
Lefty O'Doul Luis Gonzalez
Paul Waner Brian Jordan
-----------  Jeff Kent
-----------  Dave Nilsson
-----------  Ed Sprague
----------- Gary Sheffield

Lon Warneke Andy Ashby
Carl Hubbell Paul Byrd
Hal Schumacher Mike Hampton
-----------  Trevor Hoffmann
-----------  Randy Johnson
----------- Jose Lima
-----------  Kevin Millwood
----------- Robb Nen
-----------  Billy Wagner
-----------  Scott Williamson

There are 19 men now in the Hall of Fame who were named to the 1933 teams. For obvious reasons,  just 2 men named to the 1999 teams have entered the Hall - Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn. But it's easy enough to find another 17 players to match the eventual enshrinees from 1933: Rodriguez, Thome, Alomar, Ramirez, Griffey, Palmeiro, P.Martinez, Jeter, Mussina, Rivera, Piazza, McGwire, Sosa, Schilling, Kent, Hoffmann, Johnson suffice for that. Barry Larkin, Bernie Williams, Larry Walker, Harold Baines, Gary Sheffield, Vladimir Guerrero... that's depth, I guess. Or the 1999 All-Star rosters did a much better job at getting the best players in the game into the All-Star Game (much more likely, and largely due to the much larger roster.)

In addition to the 19 Hall of Famers who were named to the 1933 All-Star teams, there were another 31 players who were not invited to the All-Star game but would eventually find their way to the Hall of Fame: Rogers Hornsby, Mickey Cochrane, Herb Pennock, Mel Ott, Dizzy Dean, Dazzy Vance, Ted Lyons, Hank Greenberg, Eppa Rixey, Sam Rice, Heinie Manush, Burleigh Grimes, Red Faber, Luke Appling, Red Ruffing, Joe Medwick, Goose Goslin, Joe Sewell, Billy Herman, Arky Vaughan, Rabbit Maranville, Ernie Lombardi, Travis Jackson, Lloyd Waner, Kiki Cuyler, Waite Hoyt, Jesse Haines, Earl Combs, Jim Bottomley, Fred Lindstrom, George Kelly, Hack Wilson.

Among the players who stayed home in 1999 were Rickey Henderson, who's already in the Hall. Also on the sidelines were Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Tim Raines, Craig Biggio, Frank Thomas, Jeff Bagwell, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, John Smoltz, Todd Helton, Scott Rolen, Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, Jim Edmonds, Johnny Damon, Andy Pettitte, Kevin Brown, Albert Belle, Garret Anderson, Jamie Moyer.

All of these players belong in the discussion - every one of them is a better player than at least 10 of the Hall of Famers from 1933. They're all certainly better than the 12 guys even I am willing to kick out - R.Ferrell, Hafey, Jackson, L.Waner, Lindstrom, Jackson, Bottomley, Combs, Haines, Hoyt, Cuyler, Kelly.
CaramonLS - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 12:58 PM EST (#210532) #
No problem. It just means there are probably at least 40 or 50 guys who should be removed from the Hall. But we can set the bar wherever we like.

I'm just arguing for the reason that neither of the 2 players I mentioned could be considered real game changers.  They were nice parts of their team during the prime of their careers, they had nice, long careers, but that's about it.  Was Damon ever even considered the best player on the Red Sox/Yankees?  Not even close.  I almost think we need a "star clause" that goes beyond the numbers, lets guys in who have some shorter careers and might not have the statistical evidence to support it, vs. guys like this.

Think of it this way, if Lyle Overbay came up 3-4 years before he did and and continues to play quite a few more years, he is essentially Garret Anderson.  Overbay is a nice player, but he isn't near the level of a HOFer.
Geoff - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 01:24 PM EST (#210533) #
I do concede that limiting the career lengths of elite players (and giving their late 30's playing time to cheap, replacement level players) may have that impact

I don't see how elite players will get pushed aside and ignored so easily. They may not make elite money, but there will likely always be a place in the business for them if they are reasonably capable and want to do it. You'll see guys like Tejada and Abreu and Chipper plug away like Griffey Jr or Nolan Ryan did. The biggest names who have had elite careers will find an appropriate price and a willing team owner to make good business sense out of it. The unknown replacement level guy will always be used as negotiating leverage but if you are suggesting the possibility of a revolution of the average Joe Ballplayer over the Elite Squad, it won't happen.

The elite players drive the market for owners and players, i.e. the Baseball Universe. The market won't see elite players get squeezed out.  Only if the young talent is considerably more capable than the elite players will the elite talent leave the game. But old elite talent that has the skill level to match average Joe will still earn a heftier paycheque than the cheaper, younger guy based on name (and reputation) alone.

 Pudge Rodriguez will continue to get work he wants so long as his body lets him play and he has the desire. Non-elite players will get pushed aside as they always have been but the Frank Thomases, the Mike Piazzas, the Randy Johnsons... the baseball universe likes having those guys around and will continue to do so.

Every now and again you get a Pat Borders who will carve out a niche to stay in the game, but guys don't generally stay long in the game because they won the 1992 WS MVP, they stay because reputation and name recognition keeps their foot in the door. They have the passion that made them elite and they have nothing they want more.

The only situation I can foresee where elite players start leaving the game much sooner is if there is a much more attractive option that elicits all of their desire, like a startup veteran's league to compete with MLB, or some other sport like shuffleboard becomes a big attraction, or starring in their own sitcoms. Or maybe something comes along a ruins baseball, like TMZ, and all the old guys want out. There are doomsday scenarios, but none seem likely. So if playing professional baseball continues to be a top desire for elite players in their late 30s and their bodies don't become less physically sound than in the past (I suspect the trend for health of late 30's men will get better, not worse), then the elite players will keep on going and keep racking up big counting numbers in the stats books.
Chuck - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 01:32 PM EST (#210534) #
Non-elite players will get pushed aside as they always have been but the Frank Thomases, the Mike Piazzas, the Randy Johnsons... the baseball universe likes having those guys around and will continue to do so.

Neither Thomas nor Piazza willingly ended their baseball careers. They were willing to play but offers weren't forthcoming.
Geoff - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 01:49 PM EST (#210535) #
Both added a few more years to their careers in their late 30s with plenty of financial reward to do so.  I didn't say there wouldn't be a time when players are forced out, just not that there won't be a shift from current standards that will push the elite players out sooner because it would cost less. Or some other scenario.

Baseball life won't change for them for the worse. Some guys will leave early, most guys will leave very close to 40, some will leave later. But no shift, I say. Length of term should not affect HoF candidacy of guys because they were forced out of the game far sooner than recent standards.

Magpie - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 02:51 PM EST (#210537) #
There's a distinction, as always, between peak greatness and career greatness. Tom Glavine, at his peak, was nowhere near as great as Koufax or Drysdale. But he had as many 20 win seasons as the two of them put together (okay, I guess Glavine's peak wasn't exactly shabby.)

Only 24 players in history have scored 1700 runs, which is one of the fundamental numbers of the game. Those guys are all in the Hall except Barry Bonds and Craig Biggio, who are obviously very well-qualified. Johnny Damon is going to blow well past that figure, and actually has an outside shot at the top ten.

He's the Don Sutton of outfielders!
Jim - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 05:58 PM EST (#210538) #
I go for a big Hall mainly because I don't want to kick a lot of old-timers out.

The obvious rub is that if you make the Hall as big as you propose then nobody cares about it anymore.  If you strive for 2.5 HOFs per franchise that would mean that you are inducting 10% of the players on opening day rosters.  Who would bother to pay attention to a hall or a process who was drawing the line between Mike Cameron and Brandon Phillips? 

For all the silly things the writers have done over the years they have at least been aware of the fact that those players can stay in the Hall while still making it a legitimate reward for greatness in our time (even if they don't exactly figure out which players to honor at least they get about the right number).
Jim - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 06:00 PM EST (#210539) #
There was a thread this summer where I pointed out that Johnny Damon was going to end up in the Hall of Fame but I don't think that anyone took me seriously.  They will probably have to ignore 3,000 hits to keep him out.
CaramonLS - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 06:41 PM EST (#210540) #
But Jim, my point is more to the point, when you think of Johnny Damon, does he standout to you as an HOFer?
Magpie - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 07:01 PM EST (#210541) #
The obvious rub is that if you make the Hall as big as you propose then nobody cares about it anymore.

Yup, that's the danger of a big Hall. What we actually have is an irregular Hall - enormous for some phases of the game's history, a little cramped for others.

I do think we might have an issue about the players of our time. Maybe we're too close to them, maybe the laws of competitive balance have so smoothed out the difference between the good, the ordinary, and the indifferent  that we're not inetersted unless you're an all-time great. One of the questions I intended to ask (but simply forgot) - if you were a baseball fan in 1933, how many of the guys around at that time would you have assumed were going to the Hall of Fame (assuming there had been such a thing.) I think everyone would agree on Ruth (at the game) and Hornsby (at home) for sure, and that Gehrig and Grove just had to keep doing what they were doing for a few more years. Then the arguments would probably commence! And no one would have expected a class of 50.

Let me tell you something that had a big impact on me, and actually sent me wandering down this road. I started looking at the yearly Hall ballots on In 1962, the usual two players were elected (Feller and Robinson.) The guys who finished 3rd to 16th in the voting were all added to the Hall later, along with yet another 24 players who finished further down the ballot. Okay, two of them (Durocher and Lopez) were inducted as managers. It's still 38 Hall of Famers on one ballot.

Well, they were still playing catch-up, I suppose. But the Hall had been around for 26 years. The vast majority of players listed on the ballot had been on the ballot for less than 10 years.

Magpie - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 07:29 PM EST (#210543) #
when you think of Johnny Damon, does he standout to you as an HOFer?

Well, you're a small-Hall guy! I bet you said the same thing about Heinie Manush and Lloyd Waner. :-)

Hang on. You were right about Waner...
Magpie - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 07:50 PM EST (#210544) #
I pointed out that Johnny Damon was going to end up in the Hall of Fame but I don't think that anyone took me seriously.

I did! But I saw this coming three years ago when I noticed out that at age 31 Damon had scored more runs than Tris Speaker had at the same age. Tris Speaker! (As well as, among others, Eddie Collins, Carl Yastrzemski, Pete Rose, Charlie Gehringer, Craig Biggio, Honus Wagner - who were all trailing Damon in runs scored through age 31.) When I looked at how active players were doing on the road to 3000 hits a month later, it was just as obvious that Damon was doing very well there, too.

Think of him as the Lou Brock of our time! A speedy leadoff hitter, with a little pop, no arm, and a knack for exciting post-season moments. No, not the best player on his own team, not by a long shot.
CaramonLS - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 08:14 PM EST (#210545) #
Well, you're a small-Hall guy!

I'm not, really, I'm not!

I think certain groups are very under represented (pitchers) - Blyleven should be in without a doubt.  While other players (leadoff hitters, because they aren't good enough to hit in the middle of the order) are over-represented.   I'll give you a modern example.  I'd favor putting David Ortiz in the Hall of Fame before Damon.  Why? Because he was one of the most dangerous hitters in Baseball for 5 years and will have pretty decent career numbers when it is all said and done.

He was the most feared hitter on the Sox (OK, OK, 1a and 1b with Manny).  Heck, part of the reason Damon has those numbers is because of Ortiz.
Mick Doherty - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 08:16 PM EST (#210546) #

does he standout to you as an HOFer?

Damon? Not at all. But then, I clearly remember being at a ballgame in Detroit in 1987 or so and thinking to myself, "There's one infield with three future Hall of Famers at the same time. That's like the old Reds with Perez, Morgan and Rose." Messers. Trammell, Whitaker and Evans are still on the "close but sorry, no" list so what the hell do I know?


Jim - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 08:47 PM EST (#210547) #
But Jim, my point is more to the point, when you think of Johnny Damon, does he standout to you as an HOFer?

I would say no he doesn't.  I do think he's underrated though because of the throwing issue.  Without ever having considered the question and without even looking at baseball-reference, my gut tells me that Damon is on pace to be more valuable over the length of his career then Tony Gwynn.  I wonder if I'm right about that...
Jim - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 09:00 PM EST (#210548) #
Don't bother looking.  Damon won't be as valuable offensively as Gwynn and it's not really that close. 

Damon is going to put up some counting numbers that put Gwynn to shame though.  He ALREADY has scored 100 more runs then Gwynn.  Damon is also going to hit at least an extra 100 home runs and steal an extra 100 bases.  He's going to have more doubles, he already has more triples.

There are rumors that Damon has some money issues so he might be quite motivated to keep playing.  This is crazy but he has a chance to finish in the top 10 for career runs scored.  He needs to get to 1997 to get past Cap Anson.  Rounds to about 500 runs.  That would put him behind Rickey, Cobb, Bonds, Aaron, Ruth, Rose, Mays, (Jeter and A-Rod). 

The late 00's Yankees potentially have had 3 of the top 10 (maybe 9) run scorers in the history of the game at the tail end of their ridiculous run scoring primes. 

3000 hits & 2000 runs?  How do you NOT vote him in? 

Chuck - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 09:36 PM EST (#210549) #

Damon is going to put up some counting numbers that put Gwynn to shame though.  He ALREADY has scored 100 more runs then Gwynn.  Damon is also going to hit at least an extra 100 home runs and steal an extra 100 bases.  He's going to have more doubles, he already has more triples.

Shame may be a strong word here. There are many mitigating factors in Gwynn's defense. He played for many seasons in more run-suppressed times (he started his career in 1982, Damon in 1995). He played in parks that were largely less conducive to hitting than did Damon. And he played for teams that were not quite the juggernauts that many of Damon's have been. Even when Damon was in KC, their offense was top heavy (if not exactly strong from top to bottom) and that worked in Damon's favour, at least as runs scored went.

Yes, Damon has done things to contribute to his edge in out-scoring Gwynn (the triples, homeruns and stolen bases), but Gwynn has out-OBPed Damon by 10%, which is not insignificant. It would be interesting to see how many runs Gwynn would have scored in Damon's place (one presumes that Mr. Peabody's WABAC machine would be required to know for sure).

Your point about Damon's counting numbers being better than most people likely realize is well taken. And if he logs another 2000 plate appearances, he'll deserve no small amount of credit for his longevity. But still, his OPS+ is 105. I guess this boils down to where the tastes of the BBWAA run. They do love their counting stats so Damon may well have a shot. The rest of us don't necessarily have to like it, though.

AWeb - Sunday, December 27 2009 @ 11:29 PM EST (#210550) #
First Damon needs to find a 2010 team to give him plate appearances...which ties into my original post in this thread. Damon should be a slightly above average player in 2010, but at his asking price and lack of upside, how many teams would want him over internal, likely slightly inferior (but possibly better) but cheaper options? Not that I doubt he'll find a place to play, but there's no way he makes the HoF if he doesn't play full time for a few more years.
Mike Green - Monday, December 28 2009 @ 12:00 AM EST (#210551) #
Actually, OPS+ is a particularly poor measure for Damon.  According to Rally's system, he's 79 runs above average for base runs (a more accurate run estimator than one based on OPS+), but also 70 runs above average for baserunning, 39 runs above average because he grounds into double plays so rarely, 11 runs above average for reaching on errors...In the end result, he's 46.7 WAR.  That's not really a Hall of Fame number, but his number is better than those of Jim Rice and Dale Murphy (who admittedly were more peaky). He's in the vicinity of Brett Butler, Mike Cameron, Bernie Williams, Fred Lynn, Ellis Burks and Vada Pinson and a long way behind Willie Davis, Bobby Bonds and Andruw Jones.  Base runs may slightly underestimate his value as an OBP-heavy leadoff hitter with good speed, but I doubt that the difference would be more than one win over his career.

Incidentally, Rally's system has Larry Walker clearly above any reasonable line, with his baserunning and arm putting him over the top.

Magpie - Monday, December 28 2009 @ 12:28 AM EST (#210552) #
I'm not, really, I'm not!

How about you're a peak-value guy rather than a career value guy?
Magpie - Monday, December 28 2009 @ 12:34 AM EST (#210553) #
Strange Johnny Damon fact - the year he actually led the AL in runs scored with 136 came when he was with the Kansas City Royals.

Not Manny and Ortiz, but Sweeney and Dye.

Go figure.

Chuck - Monday, December 28 2009 @ 09:58 AM EST (#210554) #
Actually, OPS+ is a particularly poor measure for Damon. 

Thanks Mike. I certainly concede that OPS+ as a quick-and-dirty tool does undervalue Damon for all the reasons you cited and I shouldn't have employed it so frivolously. Further to those reasons, Damon was quite a good centerfielder for a long time, despite the weak arm, so deserves a further upward adjustment when being compared to fellow oufielders, most notably corner ones.

Still, as has been the theme of some of this thread, the debate about Damon's HoF candidacy will remain largely subjective with those in the career and peak camps having differing opinions.

I have not studied the matter at all, but I wonder where the voters tend to stand. My gut tells me that they are peakers, by and large. Koufax, with 2300 IP of 131 ERA+ gets in. Blyleven, with 4900 IP of 118 ERA+ does not, at least not yet. (Of course, Koufax's ERA+ is probably irrelevant since it assumes, likely incorrectly, that the voters made adjustments for his huge home park advantage.) On the other hand, Don Mattingly's wonderful 6-year peak doesn't seem to have the heft to carry him beyond his career numbers. So perhaps the career-peak issue isn't either/or. Perhaps there is some mix that is required, even if measured subjectively.
Mike Green - Monday, December 28 2009 @ 01:39 PM EST (#210556) #
It's the end of the decade, and I am ever hopeful.  Hall of Fame voting patterns have been, um, inscrutable, but let's guess that the sabermetric influence might be felt a little more in coming elections. 

There are valid reasons for taking into account peak performance.  However, you have to remember to account for everything in deciding what the peak actually was.  Sandy Koufax's peak was, Dodger Stadium or no, pretty high (he was the best player in baseball over a 4 year period by a noticeable margin).  He dominated the game to a greater extent than Albert Pujols did at his best.  On the other hand, Mark McGwire's peak (without making any adjustment at all for steroids) was nothing like that- he was a poor fielding, slow as molasses slugger at that point.  On the theoretical side, I'd rather have a player who gave me 8 6 WAR seasons than one who gave me 4 10 WAR seasons and 4 1 WAR seasons, but it is close.

Chuck - Monday, December 28 2009 @ 01:50 PM EST (#210557) #
I'm a peaker so I have no issues at all with Koufax's short career. And I hear you on just how good he was. An ERA+ of 190 in 323 innings in his final season... just insane.
Mick Doherty - Monday, December 28 2009 @ 01:55 PM EST (#210558) #
Ah, along the intrepid "If Sandy had stayed healthy and active ..." line of "What ifs?" I wonder if he'd pitched 10 more years and seven of them had been middling-to-decline, if we'd remember him as Koufax? The injury-forced-retirement is part of the fairy tale ... the possibility of racking up another 140 or so wins to get to the "magic" 300 might have actually hurt his legacy.
Chuck - Monday, December 28 2009 @ 02:29 PM EST (#210559) #

might have actually hurt his legacy.

Absolutely. There is nothing more dramatically compelling than what might have been. Imagine if James Dean had lived long enough to appear on Celebrity Password or Dynasty or some such thing? Might have taken a bite out of the legend.

CaramonLS - Monday, December 28 2009 @ 07:40 PM EST (#210560) #
How about you're a peak-value guy rather than a career value guy?

A mix of both.  I'd rather make my own damned hall.

I'm still appalled that Joe Torre isn't in the HOF.
Mick Doherty - Monday, December 28 2009 @ 10:41 PM EST (#210561) #

I'm still appalled that Joe Torre isn't in the HOF.

Calm down. He will be. Sort of the classic Hall of Really Good player, but the most successful manager of the last 40 years (maybe Sparky Anderson, but don't know about that) ... he's a mortal lock, eventually.

John Northey - Tuesday, December 29 2009 @ 10:04 AM EST (#210564) #
Koufax did have a heck of a finish.  Interesting to note that if Clemens quit one year earlier he'd have had a 193 to end his career, 226 the year before that (his last full season).  Instead it is a 108 and steroid curse.  Interesting to note Clemens only season below 100 for ERA was his rookie campaign at a horrid 97.  FYI: Greg Maddux who has one more win than Clemens finished with 4 straight sub-100 ERA+ seasons (82 for his last). Mussina was at 132 when he got his one 20 win season under his belt.  Tom Henke finished with a 230 ERA+, 36 saves, and a team begging him to come back but I guess he just felt it was time to retire (just one season under 118 for ERA+, his last year pre-Blue Jays).
christaylor - Tuesday, December 29 2009 @ 03:59 PM EST (#210583) #
My favourite bit of apocrypha surrounding Koufax comes from the Ken Burns baseball series - a hitter of the era was talk about how Kofax tipped his pitches. Nearly every hitter in the league knew whether a fastball or curve was coming. Even still, he was un-hittable.

Hard to believe but IIRC the DVD shows a Koufax FB and CB in succession in slow motion and to my eyes (obviously influenced by the info from the talking head, but still) he's tipping. I suspect like some of the great Maddux stories this one is a tad exaggerated but I buy that there were days during Koufax heyday where he was tipping and still no hitter could take advantage.

Too bad Koufax was Nuke Laloosh and destroy his arm during his first years in the league (again, that's the story).
Magpie - Tuesday, December 29 2009 @ 06:46 PM EST (#210588) #
Koufax actually injured his elbow in this game, sliding into second base in the seventh inning. He finished the game (retired the final six hitters in order) but he was through for the year.

There are pitch counts available for some of Koufax's seasons, and this game does kind of jump out at you.
92-93 - Tuesday, December 29 2009 @ 07:00 PM EST (#210590) #
Koufax used to soak his arm in capsolin after the game, which contains capsaicin, the active component in chili peppers. Talk about bringing the heat.
christaylor - Wednesday, December 30 2009 @ 12:06 AM EST (#210594) #
205 pitches *and* a game score of 97 -- wow, that certainly does jump.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that'll never again happen in my lifetime.
Magpie - Wednesday, December 30 2009 @ 03:45 AM EST (#210597) #
I always wondered how many pitchers the two starters threw in this famous game from 1963. Juan Marichal beat Warren Spahn 1-0 when Willie Mays homered in the bottom of the 16th.

Marichal faced 59 hitters, Spahn faced 56 - and this in a night game at Candlestick Park, which was notoriously chilly and windy at the best of times.

However - we do have actual pitch counts for 27 of Marichal's starts and 21 of Spahn's and from that limited sample they were both pretty efficient by modern standards. Roy Halladay threw 3.52 pitches per plate appearance last year, lowest figure in the AL. In the 27 starts we have data for Marichal, he threw 2772 pitches to 792 hitters, which is 3.50 per plate appearance. The range over those 27 games is 2.87 to 4.21 pitches per plate appearance.

Spahn was even more efficient, averaging just 3.34 pitches per plate appearances. Per game, the range was 2.90 to 3.94 pitches per hitter. That night at Candlestick, he struck out just 2 and walked 1 - and the walk was an IBB to Willie Mays with none out and a runner on second in the bottom of the 14th. (So he could pitch to Willie McCovey!)

Anyway, this extremely limited data suggests that Marichal might have thrown as few as 170 pitches or as many as 248, and probably threw about 206. Spahn might have been as low as 162 or as high as 221, and was probably somewhere around 187.

Marichal's Game Score was 112, Sphan just 97.
Geoff - Thursday, December 31 2009 @ 03:12 PM EST (#210628) #
Someone else is making hall of fame diversions over the holidays.

And someone else sees only Roberto as better than great.
Fun With the Hall of Fame (A Holiday Diversion) | 50 comments | Create New Account
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