Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010 Hall of Fame Ballot, Part 6.

  • Alan Trammell (SS) - .285 BA, 2365 hits, 185 HRs, 1003 RBIs, 236 SBs, 6 All Star Games, 4 Gold Gloves, 3 Top 10 MVP finishes (2nd in 1987). Poor Alan Trammell. He played at the same time as Cal Ripken in the AL (who dominated the offensive stats for shortstops until the Jeter/Garciaparra/A-Rod triad in the 1990s), and Ozzie Smith, who may have been the greatest defensive shortstop in the history of the game. For most of Alan's career, there were 26 teams in MLB. Is taking more than 10% of the starting shortstops from a particular era too many from the Hall of Fame? And if one includes Larkin, who arrived on the scene when Trammell was 28, then Alan would be fourth on the list (if Larkin gets in). It's a numbers game, and Trammell's statistics haven't held up over time. But what I find interesting is how similar his and Larkin's numbers are (Baseball Reference has them at 914 for similarity). They are separated by a mere 25 hits, 13 HRs, 43 RBIs, and a 143 SBs. So why is Larkin going to be (in my opinion) regarded more highly than Trammell?
1. The AL that Trammell played had about 10% more offense than the NL, so Trammell's numbers are 10% less valuable than Larkin's.
2. Larkin's huge advantage is in SBs, while Trammell has no apparent lead on Larkin.
3. 12 All Star Games for Larkin (and an MVP), while Trammell has 6 All Star Games and a 2nd.

What the voters will do: Keep Trammell between 10-20% again this year. What the voters should do: Eventually his supporters will fade.
  • Robin Ventura (3B) - .267 BA, 1885 hits, 294 HRs, 1182 RBIs, 2 All Star Games, 6 Gold Gloves, 1 Top 10 MVP finish (6th). Feel free to have a look - in relation to the league, Ventura's career peaked at age 27, in 1995. Though he may have had gaudier numbers later in his career, it was more an effect of the rising offensive statistics/smaller ballparks rather than any enhancers. And to be honest, if Ventura had been using steroids, I think he would have done better than to get his ass handed to him by a senior citizen such as Nolan Ryan.
I also am curious why third basemen have always gotten the shaft in relation to the Hall of Fame. Only ten are currently enshrined, out of 202. If things were fair, each position would have ten percent represented (though I would suspect there would be more pitchers). Can we assume that there should be twenty? What went wrong? Without going into any formal study, I think it's because third base has always been looked at as a power position, yet because of the fielding needed to play there (need to more agile than third base, and better reflexes/defensively than left field), their stats never compare favorably with the other power positions (LF/1B). In addition, they never get credit defensively when compared to C/SS/2B/CF, so third basemen fall into a nether region of no respect for their defense, no respect for their offense. Having said that, Bill James made a great argument that both Ron Santo and Darrell Evans should be either in the HOF, are at least reconsidered.

Todd Zeile (3B) - .265 BA, 2004 hits, 253 HRs, 1110 RBIs. Solid statistics, and nothing to show for it. Zeile was never a Gold Glove winner (moved from catcher to third base, third base to first base, then back when management realized he couldn't hit to play first, another discrepancy between the positions), never an All-Star, never got any votes in the MVP race, and only finished 6th in the Rookie of the Year voting. To play as long as he did (16 seasons), and put up the decent numbers he did (was only a backup in two of those seasons), but never managed to gain any accolades like that is tough. Here's a list of hitters who played longer without appearing in an All Star Game (since 1933):Joe Kuhel (1B), 1930-47. The first few years in the league, there wasn't an All-Star game, and the only reason Kuhel played 18 seasons was because everyone else was running off to fight. If there hadn't been a World War, Kuhel would've left the game by 1943. Still, Kuhel finished 6th in the MVP voting in 1936, and placed in the top 20 three other times, something Zeile never did.
  • Denny Walling (U) - a utility player for 18 years, Walling only had three seasons with more than 300 at bats. For his career, he averaged 170 a year.
  • Richie Hebner (1B/3B) - played 18 years, once received MVP votes but never played in an All Star Game. Ron Santo and Mike Schmidt usually occupied those spots, though Doug Rader did win five straight Gold Gloves in the early 70s.
  • Tony Phillips (U) - played every position on the field, one year hit 27 HRs, often had double digit steals, but never had his own position. Did finish 16th in the MVP voting one year (1993).
  • Jim Dwyer (OF/1B) - played 18 seasons for 7 different teams, but played less than Denny Walling.
  • Jose Vizcaino (2B/SS) - .270 BA, 1453 hits. 18 years, 6 years as a regular.
  • Jamie Quirk (C/U) - backup for 18 years (never had 300 ABs).
  • Dave Philley (OF) - only a Phillie for two years near the end of his career, Dave missed five years to World War II, yet still played until he was 42. He started for the first ten years of his career, then became a platoon player, then a pinch hitter. Still, finished in the top 20 of MVP voting twice.
  • Lenny Harris (U) - 18 years, only 6 years had more than 300 ABs. .269 BA, 1055 hits.
  • Rick Cerone (C) - 18 years, starter for two, no All Star Games yet still finished 7th in MVP voting in 1980.
  • Jose Cardenal (OF) - 18 years, stater for 12. Received MVP votes in 1973 and 74 (finished 28th and 23rd)
  • Dick Schofield (SS/2B) - 19 years, starter for 3. Classic no-hit middle infielder. Hit .227 for his career.
  • Mark McLemore (2B) - 19 years, starter for 8. Came up as a classic no-hit middle infielder as well, but taught himself patience at the plate, and to make contact. 1602 hits, .259 BA
  • Johnny Cooney (1B/OF) - 20 years, 4 as a starter. Although half of his career came before 1933, Cooney wouldn't have made any All-Star game. He didn't become a starter until 1936 with Brooklyn, and 3 times finished in the top 20 of MVP voting.
  • Elmer Valo (OF) - 20 seasons, .282 BA, 1420 hits. Was a regular until age 32, when injuries and Allie Clark pushed him to the bench. Two years later, as a platoon player, Valo put up the best statistical numbers of his career, and wound up finishing 22nd in the MVP voting.
  • Jay Johnstone (OF) - .267 BA, 1254 hits. 2o seasons, full-time for 2.
  • Rick Dempsey (C) - 24 seasons, part-time catcher. Only topped 400 ABs in a season once, was known for his ability to call a game. Also known for his antics, and being a clown during rain delays, but not known for his hitting: .233 BA, 1093 hits.
17 players, of which 8 never received MVP votes. Todd Zeile is the Hall of Fame selection for those players. What the voters will do: 0.3% What the voters should do: Perfect.

So there are my thoughts: in short, I think Alomar, Larkin, Raines, Dawson should be elected into the Hall, I think Blyleven, Dawson, and Alomar will be elected this year, and Larkin, Morris and Martinez eventually will be (though I don't think the last two deserve it), and I think Smith and McGwire could go either way. We'll find out in 2 days.

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