Category Archives: Hall of Fame

BBWAA to Larry Walker: “Sorry For The Confusion”

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America do not have much respect for Larry Walker‘s hall-of-fame candidacy.  This year the Canuck garnered fewer HOF votes than Jeff Kent and Fred McGriff.  His future chance of election by the writers is very slim.

The lack of support for Walker can be explained partially by the ten player ballot limit and mostly by anti-Coors Field sentiment.  Writers point to his monster season of 1997 and say “He benefited from hitting baseballs in Denver so he really wasn’t that great”.

If he wasn’t that great then why did you select Walker as MVP that very season?

Despite the Rockies 3rd place finish LW received 92% of the writers NL MVP votes.

Maybe instead of Slugging .720 and hitting 49 home runs the right fielder should have only slugged .600 and hit 40 bombs.

Walker’s video game-like numbers are used to justify not voting for him as a hall-of-famer when the very same numbers were used to justify voting for him as MVP.

Tom “Big Hall” Verducci

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 LoftonTommy John, Curt Schilling, Billy WagnerLou Whitaker, Larry Walker, Trevor HoffmanFred 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.

That ill-timed Dan Duquette quote concerning Clemens

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’s HOF Election Paves Way For…

Career stats:

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

What In the World Are These Voters Waiting For?

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?

Writers have made clear that the only late 80’s stars that need apply are Kirby Puckett and Dennis Eckersley.

Let’s hope that we see Tim Raines, Fred McGriff, Alan Trammell, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, Mark McGwire, Larry Walker get some major vote totals increases this year.

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”?

Matt Klaassen Chills “Big Papi” Lovers

Matt Klaassen over at FanGraphs wrote a great article titled “David Ortiz and the Very Large Hall”.  Go read it, it’s good.

Matt makes many interesting points especially regarding the postseason careers of Ortiz and Jason Giambi.  I was shocked to see that they aren’t that different.

Big Papi does have twice as many playoff plate appearances but Giambi has a solid postseason sample (45 games, 174 plate appearances).  Their rate stats are pretty close.  Ortiz has a small edge in batting average, Giambi has a small edge in OBP and Ortiz has a decent lead in slugging.

I further outlined the “anti-clutch” argument about Ortiz a few weeks back.  Hint: he is a very good hitter in the regular season and playoffs.

Matt’s question about hall size is critical when examining Big Papi’s case.  Ortiz is at the steps of Cooperstown but the door isn’t yet open.

“Before” Big Papi was Clutch

Since David Ortiz hit his first playoff home-run exactly one decade ago in The Bronx off Mike Mussina there has been a popular “clutch-ness” narrative surrounding the Red Sox slugger.  Is there evidence that he was “clutch” before he tagged Mussina in game one of the 2003 ALCS?

Prior to being released by the Twins in December of ’02 Ortiz had 1,500 big league at-bats. During this time David Ortiz hit one HR every 25 AB’s.  That’s 455 games and parts of six seasons.

Before taking Mussina yard Ortiz had played in 14 postseason games (9 for Minnesota and 5 for Boston).  In 50 at-bats during these games in ’02 & ’03 he hit zero home-runs.  He posted a .231 OBP and .280 SLG.  David Ortiz was clearly not a “clutch” hitter, at least not in the postseason.

We all know the story since ’03.  The question is…Why wasn’t Ortiz clutch in his first 14 playoff games?  Was there a mental block in the way of him hitting in the “clutch”?  Was he nervous in big games?  Did he shy away from the spotlight?

No, I think not.

Ortiz simply became a much better all-around hitter since coming to Boston.  He has been better in the regular season with the Red Sox than he was with the Twins and he’s been better in the playoffs with the Red Sox.

Finally, in 63 playoff games with Boston he’s slugged .562.  In 1514 regular season games with Boston David Ortiz slugged .572.

There is no postseason magic here. Big Papi is a really good hitter, period.

The Big Red “On-Base” Machine: Joey Votto

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto is having his 5th major league season with an On-Base Percentage over 41%.  This is very impressive considering Votto turns 30 in September.

Here are a few players who had four seasons with a 41% OBP before age 30:

Only a dozen players in MLB history had more than five seasons before age 30 with a 41% OBP.  The record is eight seasons by Jimmie Foxx and Ty Cobb.

Wall-Banging Shortstops

Continuing the power-hitting shortstops theme, I am interested in determining who hit the most career doubles at the position.

Looking only at games played at SS, we rule out Robin Yount and Alex Rodriguez. Each has over 500 career doubles but both split them at two different defensive positions.

We run into issues with a few old-time greats, Joe Cronin and Honus Wagner. Both guys hit over 500 doubles but they played in seasons that Baseball-Reference is missing many box scores and thus splits.  Cronin probably hit just under 500 as a SS and Wagner is estimated to have 550 doubles at the SS position.  Honus is very likely the all-time leader for doubles by a shortstop but since we don’t know for certain I have left he and Cronin off this list.

The nearly 100% accurate list follows:

Career Doubles Hit While Playing Shortstop

  1. Derek Jeter – 514

  2. Cal Ripken – 470

  3. Jimmy Rollins – 441

  4. Orlando Cabrera – 440

  5. Barry Larkin – 438

  6. Edgar Renteria – 435

  7. Miguel Tejada – 434

  8. Omar Vizquel – 426

  9. Luke Appling – 422 *est*

  10. Ozzie Smith – 400

David Robertson’s Crazy K Rates

Of all pitchers in MLB history with 400 career strikeouts just one has a higher K rate than Yankees relief ace David Robertson.  He is a former ESPN Radio personality notable for his co-host role on the Dan Patrick Show.

“6-4.  230.”  Ding!

Rk

Player

SO/9

SO

From

To

G

IP

ERA+

1

Rob Dibble

12.17

645

1988

1995

385

477.0

129

2

David Robertson

12.00

400

2008

2013

309

300.0

152

3

Brad Lidge

11.92

799

2002

2012

603

603.1

122

4

Billy Wagner

11.92

1196

1995

2010

853

903.0

187

5

Carlos Marmol

11.67

703

2006

2013

483

542.1

124

8

Octavio Dotel

10.82

1143

1999

2013

758

951.0

119

12

Randy Johnson

10.61

4875

1988

2009

618

4135.1

135

13

Stephen Strasburg

10.57

420

2010

2013

62

357.2

140

19

Mark Prior

10.37

757

2002

2006

106

657.0

124

20

Kerry Wood

10.32

1582

1998

2012

446

1380.0

117

21

Pedro Martinez

10.04

3154

1992

2009

476

2827.1

154

23

Tyler Clippard

10.01

432

2007

2013

312

388.1

134

29

Tom Henke

9.81

861

1982

1995

642

789.2

157

30

Tim Lincecum

9.73

1429

2007

2013

207

1321.1

115

31

Dick Radatz

9.67

745

1962

1969

381

693.2

123

34

Ryne Duren

9.62

630

1954

1965

311

589.1

98

37

Nolan Ryan

9.55

5714

1966

1993

807

5386.0

112

39

Joe Nathan

9.51

881

1999

2013

688

833.2

156

47

Trevor Hoffman

9.36

1133

1993

2010

1035

1089.1

141

49

Sandy Koufax

9.28

2396

1955

1966

397

2324.1

131

118

Mariano Rivera

8.26

1150

1995

2013

1088

1253.0

206

That’s right, Rob Dibble has the highest strikeout rate of any pitcher who ever played in the bigs.

Also notable that the Houston Astros have two of the top four all-time K kings in Billy Wagner and Brad Lidge.