Sports Illustrated baseball writer Tom Verducci was interviewed today on The Dan Patrick Show. When Dan asked about hall-of-fame voting (specifically comparing the baseball vs. football HOF process) Verducci replied with:
“I don’t know that anyone has been voted info the Hall-of-Fame that doesn’t deserve to be in there, as far as the baseball writers go.”
I would say that Tom Verducci’s statement is mostly correct. Of course this depends upon how big you like your hall. A “Big Hall” guy would include the writers’ recent inductees Jim Rice, Kirby Puckett, Tony Perez, Bruce Sutter and Catfish Hunter. If you are a “Small Hall” guy then these five inductions from the past three decades conflict with Verducci’s statement.
If Tom is a “Big Hall” guy then his statement is accurate and he would support the hall cases of Tim Raines, Kenny Lofton, Tommy John, Curt Schilling, Billy Wagner, Lou Whitaker, Larry Walker, Trevor Hoffman, Fred McGriff, Jeff Kent and Alan Trammell. Consistency would merit eliminating the cap on the number of players that the writers could vote for leading to a much larger Hall.
There is a common misconception that Roger Clemens was toast when the Boston Red Sox decided to not re-sign him after the 1996 season. Sox GM Dan Duquette became infamous in our little world of baseball for saying that Roger was entering the “twilight” of his career.
The Blue Jays disagreed with Duquette’s assessment of Clemens and signed the 34-year old starter to a four year deal worth ~$31 million. To put the money in perspective, Clemens was paid more than Frank Thomas and Ken Griffey in ’97 & ’98.
What made the Blue Jays so sure that Clemens was worth MVP level money when Boston said good riddance to him? It’s pretty simple actually. In 1996, Clemens last year with the Red Sox he led the American League in strikeouts. He whiffed 42 more batters than the league runner-up Chuck Finley.
Roger Clemens was far and away the best strikeout pitcher in the AL when Duquette said he was in his “twilight”. This is akin to suggesting that Cliff Lee today is nearly washed up.
In addition to leading the league in strikeouts by a mile the ’96 version of Clemens was top-ten in the AL in strikeout/walk rate, fewest home runs allowed, innings pitched, complete games and E.R.A. In his 32nd start of the 1996 season “The Rocket” went to Detroit and tied his own MLB record for most strikeouts in a 9-inning game by sending down twenty Tigers batters on strikes while allowing no walks and no runs.
Roger Clemens did not have to go to Toronto and use PED’s to revive his career. When the Red Sox let the former Texas Longhorn walk he was still an elite major league pitcher.
Tom Glavine – 4413 IP
Tommy John – 4710 IP *advantage*
Glavine – 3.54 ERA
John – 3.34 ERA *advantage*
Glavine – 3.95 FIP ERA
John – 3.38 FIP ERA *advantage*
Glavine – 86 ERA minus (park and league adjusted, 100 is average)*advantage*
John – 90 ERA minus
Glavine – 14 wins, 16 losses, 3.30 ERA in postseason
John – 6 wins, 3 losses, 2.65 ERA in postseason *advantage*
Finally, the baseball writers view of each pitchers career…
Glavine – 92% of HOF vote in 1st year on ballot
John – 32% of HOF vote in 15th year on ballot
I count a bakers dozen retired MLB stars who would get my 2014 Hall-of-Fame vote…including only the returning players. This excludes newbie shoe-in’s Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina and Tom Glavine. Can I vote for seventeen guys?
Since the maximum players you can choose is ten, the voter is required to strategize their selections. In that case I have to leave off newcomers Thomas, Maddux & Glavine since they will surely be voted in and vote for the least deserving of my seventeen to make sure they don’t fall off the ballot.
Therefore my 2014 ballot includes (in order of least deserving to most):
- Fred McGriff
- Jeff Kent
- Alan Trammell
- Edgar Martinez
- Larry Walker
- Mark McGwire
- Craig Biggio
- Mike Piazza
- Curt Schilling
- Tim Raines
Thanks stupid rules and stubborn baseball writers
Great post by Dave Cameron over at FanGraphs on the dearth of baseball hall-of-famers elected recently. Myself and many others have been saying for years that the writers need to begin voting great players into the HOF. Isn’t that the point of The Hall?
Finally, how they whiffed on Kenny Lofton is just beyond me. According to fWAR Lofton provided as much value as Duke Snider. Would these voters not put Duke Snider in if he had played during the “steroid era”?
The Colorado Rockies signed former MVP Justin Morneau to a two year deal for $13 million. It appears this acquisition is being panned by outside observers of base and ball. I don’t know how this is going to turn out for the Rockies but there are a few facts in favor of their new first baseman.
- Three years ago Morneau was awesome! He hit .345 with a .618 slugging.
- In 2013 his on-base percentage was higher than that posted by Manny Machado, Josh Hamilton and Adam Jones.
- The new Rockie hit more home runs this year than his predecessor Todd Helton, Billy Butler, Buster Posey, Victor Martinez and Jason Heyward.
- Justin Morneau is younger than Shane Victorino, Matt Holliday and Nick Swisher.
We will probably know by the all-star break if the Morneau signing is a good one for Colorado. My guess is that he will surprise to the upside in 2014.
Two of the best free agents available in this year’s hot stove are outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo. Looking at their most recent three seasons will give us a pretty good idea of each players true skill set and performance.
From 2011-13 both Choo and Ellsbury hit a total of 45 home-runs. Their isolated power (~.160 ISO) and hits/ball in play (~33%) were both nearly identical. Choo had a grand total of 65 more plate appearances during the last three years.
The differences between the two players offensive performances are walks (big advantage Choo), contact rate (solid advantage Ellsbury) and speed (big advantage Ellsbury).
Looking at attributes outside of batting and base-running, Jacoby Ellsbury is 14 months younger than Choo and thanks to his wheels the former Boston Red Sox all-star has much better range in the outfield. Shin-Soo Choo possesses a better throwing arm.
That’s 3/4 of the story. Most of the other quarter is simply unknown to us foreign observers. Scouts, coaches, teammates and family members need to fill us in. Of course they tend to be subjective which is why we take their input with a grain of salt.
If we could measure this other 25% that would be terrific. Aside from in-depth scouting we can’t get too far past 90%.
So if you had $100,000,000 to throw around at an outfielder who do you got?
First off congrats to Terry Francona for taking home the 2013 AL Manager of the Year award. Coming into the season with a rotation that included lost causes Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir no one thought that this Cleveland Indians team was going to win 92 games. Props to Tito and a pitching staff that far exceeded expectations!
Speaking of pitching…did you know that Terry Francona posted the lowest ERA on the 1990 Louisville Redbirds? After ten major league seasons which included 474 hits and a .274 batting average the slick fielding first baseman was released by the Brewers after four at-bats in April of 1990.
Francona was 31 years old and coming off a season where he backed up Greg Brock on the ’89 Brewers squad. It appeared to be the end of the line for the former first round pick of the Montreal Expos. Tito was picked one slot ahead of uber prospect Billy Beane in the 1980 MLB draft.
So two weeks after Francona is released by the Brewers he signs his final playing contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. He is sent to triple A Louisville to bring a veteran presence into a clubhouse full of future MLB all-stars. The ’90 Redbirds team featured Ken Hill, Ray Lankford and Bernard Gilkey. Francona would get three-hundred at-bats on the ‘Birds while hitting a solid .263.
As triple-A managers are bound to be, Gaylen Pitts found himself in a few late inning binds that season. He needed an arm to get a few outs. Fortunately he realized that his fourth outfielder Terry Francona had major league pitching experience. The ’89 Brewers found themselves getting blown-out by the powerhouse Athletics team in mid-May. Milwaukee manager Tom Trebelhorn turned to Francona to get through the 8th inning in Oakland. How did he do?
Terry got Terry Steinbach and Tony Phillips to make the first two outs of the inning on flyballs before strike-ing out Stan Javier to end the inning. 1-2-3 go the A’s. Armed with this awesome performance and a career ERA of 0.00 in the majors Terry volunteered to help out Pitts on five occasions during the summer of 1990 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Terry Francona would end his playing career as the relief ace for the Redbirds. He pitched 7 2/3 innings in five games for Louisville that year. The future world series winning manager whiffed six batters and allowed just one run to post a 1.17 ERA.
The 2013 American League Cy Young race is very close. According to FanGraphs WAR here are the top three finishers:
I realize that Wins Above Replacement is not a be-all end-all but it is a pretty good estimate of value over a long season (in this case ~30 starts each).
Looking back at the history of the AL Cy Young award I found another very tight three-way race. Back in 1971 the AL leaders in pitching fWAR looked like this:
Lolich, the Detroit Tigers ace finished second in the Cy voting. The 15 (out of 24) voters who didn’t place Lolich first had to overlook his AL leading 25 wins and 308 strikeouts.
Also in 45 games started the lefty averaged 8 1/3 innings pitched per start. Lolich threw an astounding 376 innings in 1971! This was forty-two more than the second most in the league hurled by Wilbur Wood (who finished third in the voting for Cy).
Like this year any of the three guys in ’71 was a worthy choice although it’s hard to argue against the winner, Vida Blue. The twenty-one year old Oakland Athletic led the AL in K rate (8.6/9 IP), shutouts (8) and WAR!
The voters got the jist of the whole thing four decades before saber-metrics became mainstream. We’ll find out later today if they’ve still got it.
“The Chief”, aka Geronimo Berroa finished his MLB career in 2001 with a total of 101 home runs. The journeyman slugger spent time with nine teams in eleven seasons. His four best years came with the Oakland Athletics for whom Berroa hit 87 home runs.
During this time with the A’s Geronimo slugged .499 including a relative pedestrian .451 SLG in 1995. Berroa finished ’95 with twenty-two bombs.
Perhaps nothing interesting here except for the fact that Berroa hit 27% of his long balls against one team. In only 13 games against the New York Yankees Berroa slugged six home runs plus three doubles and two triples. In 47 at bats he slugged .894 against the Yanks, .894!
In addition to the power surge, Geronimo Berroa was walked in 17% of his plate appearances against New York in 1995.