Home / General / I Dunno, What Would Jefferson Davis Say?

I Dunno, What Would Jefferson Davis Say?


This collection of ballots is a good, if depressing, guide to which writers can be taken seriously and which ones can permanently be ignored.   (“Jack Morris was one of the most dominant pitchers of his generation.”  Sure, I guess — not as good as Steve Rogers, but better than LaMarr Hoyt.  And?)    To steal a line from Emma Span, though, my favorite reaction is from Mr. Marty Noble, who thinks that Jack Morris and only Jack Morris was a Hall of Famer on a ballot that includes arguably the best player and pitcher in MLB history, not to mention Alan Trammell, Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, etc. etc.:

I’m not comfortable with the suspicions I have, so I’m voting for only Morris and hoping for a bolt of wisdom from Kenesaw Mountain Landis or Lee MacPhail.

Yeah, that’s a great way of thinking about this — ask the segregationist for moral guidance. He’ll give you the answer you want to hear about Bonds, though! And I must admit that this a consistent way for a drug warrior to proceed.

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  • Jeffrey Beaumont

    Why does Dale Murphy get no love?

    • timb

      I don’t know. He was certainly fun to be afraid of when he came to Riverfront

  • Mr. Marty Noble, who thinks that Jack Morris and only Jack Morris was a Hall of Famer on a ballot that includes arguably the best player and pitcher in MLB history

    I thought you were joking, and re-naming Murray Chass.

    • Sherm

      Murray Chass did it as well.

    • EliHawk

      Mr. Marty Noble, who thinks that Jack Morris and only Jack Morris was a Hall of Famer on a ballot that includes arguably the best player and pitcher in MLB history

      But Greg Maddux isn’t on the ballot…

  • Alan in SF

    In fairness, Jack Morris was the stud pitcher in baseball for a while, which Hoyt and Rogers never came close to. But so were Dave Stewart, Guidry, Hershiser, all of them worthier than Morris.

    Clemens, tough call. I still think there should be a special clause just to keep Roger Clemens out of the HOF, but since there isn’t, I’d vote for him on my non-existent ballot.

    • Sherm

      In fairness, Jack Morris was the stud pitcher in baseball for a while

      Exactly when? And as evidenced by what? No cy young awards. Never led the league in ERA. ERA plus of 105. Very good workhorse of a pitcher with some great playoff performances. But not a hall of famer, and no better that Luis Tiant, Tommy John and Jim Kaat to name a few off the top of my head.

      • You just had to see him play, man*. You just had to see him play.

        *(Which, aside from being about the worst thing you could possibly say about a borderline Hall of Fame candidate, apparently doesn’t apply to the various writers who had Cy Young votes during Morris’ career).

      • Monday Night Frotteur

        I don’t even think verygood is correct. He was a good pitcher on several great teams. He treated the media like crap which made them think “there must be something special about him!” or something.

        • he had a pretty darn good peak from 1983-1988, and nice seasons in 1979, 1981, and 1991 as well.

          • Green Caboose

            He was by far THE ace pitcher on an extremely dominant 1984 Tigers team. He continued to be Detroit’s ace during a lot of good years after that.

            Honestly, I’m not arguing he should be in the HoF, as I’ve read all the statistical analysis of his career since. But I was definitely surprised that his stats were so low given his excellent reputation at the time (and wins and numbers of innings pitched).

            Similarly I was completely stunned that Blyleven got more than 15% of the vote, let alone actually got voted in. I thought you had to have a spitball or have a reputation as a “character” or something to get in as a somewhat better-than-average pitcher, which is how he was widely seen throughout his career. Yeah, I’ve seen the numbers on him and yeah he played for a long time but geez … he was never the starting pitcher that you hoped you wouldn’t face in a 3 game series against his team. Morris on the other hand, for many years, was.

            I think there is a problem with aggregate career stats – and no, “peak WAR” doesn’t solve it – that gives too little weight to the impact the player had in his peak year and too much weight to the non-peak years. Has anyone ever done an analysis of Koufax’s career using modern statistical methods?

            • Sherm

              You lost me at blyleven. He was a clear-cut hall of famer, and better than Nolan Ryan. Look at his stats.

              • elm

                But, but, at the time we thought he was mediocre! Because he had mediocre win-loss percentages! And that is so totally the stat that matters!

                (Seriously, this argument of ‘no one thought he was that good at the time’ or, for Morris, ‘everyone though he was good at the time’ is only valid insofar as our judgments at the time were correct. We’ve learned a lot in the past 30 years and while many of our judgments from that time were correct, some were wrong. Those that evaluated pitchers based on W-L record were often wrong.)

                • Sherm

                  I pointed out Ryan bc I recall reading years ago that blyleven had a better win-loss percentage, although he pitched on teams with lower win-loss percentages. The same guys who made “excuses” for Ryan’s winning percentage ignored that the same “excuse” applied with greater force to blyleven. ERA plus of 118 and 3,700 or so strikeouts, and he couldn’t get in because for years bc he pitched on mediocre teams and gave up a bunch of homers late in his career.

                  I really don’t get the argument for Morris. Not even a borderline case in my opinion.

            • Monday Night Frotteur

              He was not better than Dan Petry in 1984. He was deemed “the ace” by the media, but he wasn’t actually the best starter on the team. His reputation was a product of the media, rewarding his prickliness for reasons I couldn’t begin to describe.

            • snarkout

              From Baseball Reference (JAWS is an HoF approximation that averages career and 7-year peak WAR):

              Koufax: Starting Pitcher (82nd in JAWS), 46.2 career WAR/43.8 7yr-peak WAR/45.0 JAWS (Also: 3 Cy Youngs, 2 years leading the league in ERA+ and 4 in WHIP)
              Circle Me Bert: Starting Pitcher (18th in JAWS), 89.3 career WAR/46.8 7yr-peak WAR/68.0 JAWS (highest Cy Young finish: 3rd [twice], 1 year leading the league in ERA+ and 1 year in WHIP)
              Jack Morris: Starting Pitcher (167th), 39.3 career WAR/30.8 7yr-peak WAR/35.1 JAWS (highest Cy Young finish: 3rd [twice], 0 years leading the league in ERA+ and 0 years leading the league in WHIP)

              And just for fun:
              Pedro Martinez: Starting Pitcher (17th), 80.5 career WAR/56.3 7yr-peak WAR/68.4 JAWS (3 Cy Youngs, 5 years leading the league in ERA+ and 6 in WHIP)
              Hall of Fame afterthought Kevin Brown: Starting Pitcher (46th), 64.3 career WAR/43.4 7yr-peak WAR/53.9 JAWS (Highest Cy Young finishes: 2nd, 3rd, 1 season leading the league in ERA+ and one in WHIP)
              Hall of Fame afterthought Dave Steib: Starting Pitcher (65th), 53.5 career WAR/42.7 7yr-peak WAR/48.1 JAWS (Highest Cy Young finish: 4th, 2 years leading the league in ERA+ and 0 years in WHIP)

              Koufax was obviously better than this rough cut, but he had an even shorter peak than 7 years. Pedro Martinez is Koufax with a longer and even more otherworldly peak. Dave Steib is Jack Morris, only better and playing for worse teams but without the moustache and awesome Game 7. (Steib, like Schilling, strikes me as someone who Big Hall people could vote for without having to make excuses.) Bert is mostly an accumulator — I don’t think he was in some sense *really* the 18th greatest pitcher ever — but really does have a no-excuses HoF peak.

    • djw

      Jack Morris was the stud pitcher in baseball for a while

      ?? I can’t think of a year where there’s much of an argument he’s a top 3 pitcher. He was never a top 5 pitcher in WAR.

      • Anonymous

        But was he a clutch, gritty veteran with leadership?

        Full disclosure: I only read baseball threads to marvel at how grown men can care about the dumbest game in history.

      • Wait, really? Which version of WAR are you using?

        • efgoldman

          Wait, really? Which version of WAR are you using?

          The same one everyone uses: the one which supports his point.

        • elm

          Dunno which one djw is using, but baseball-reference’s gives him one season at 5.6 (1979), two at 4.8 (86, 87), and one at 4.6 (85)and then one more at 4.1 (91).

          He also has 3 negative seasons (78, 89, 93) and 4 more at 1 or less, not counting his partial rookie year (82, 88, 90, 94).

          Compare that to some other pitchers mentioned in this thread:
          Jim Kaat: 1 season above 7; 1 more above 6; 1 above 5; 2 above 4; a bunch negative or below 1.
          Tommy John: 3 above 5; 2 above 4; 6 negative or below 1.
          Luis Tiant: 1 at 8; 1 at 7; 2 at 6; 2 at 5; 2 at 4; only 1 negative before a horrendous end of career.
          Ron Guidry: a 9, a 6, a 5, and two 4s, but a short career.
          Dave Stewart: 3 above 4. Doesn’t seem to belong in this conversation at all.
          Hersheiser: 3 above 6, another 1 each above 5 and 4, all within a 6 year period at the start of his career then he got hurt and only once broke 3 over the next decade.

          • elm

            Put together, looking only at the above info, Tiant was clearly the best pitcher who probably should be in the hall if not for a low win total because of some epically bad teams. Hersheiser and Guidry had better peaks than Morris, but neither had sustained success because of injury. Morris is clearly better than Stewart and John and roughly similar to Kaat. Kaat bounced between 15% to 30% depending on whether it was a strong or weak ballot but never was seriously considered a threat to get in.

            Personally, I think the voters got Kaat right. Hopefully, the same will be true of Morris.

        • djw

          Yeah, I was using baseball reference. Looking at fangraphs, they have him at #2 in 1983 with 6.2 WAR, and it’s not implausible to make a case for him as the second best pitcher that year behind Carlton, largely on the strength of his 293 innings.

          What is the difference between the WAR calculations at fangraphs and BR for pitchers? I was under the impression the difference between the two was mostly about defense (with the consensus being that fangraphs used the more reliable defensive statistics) so I assumed it didn’t really matter which one I used for pitchers. But the difference is huge: fangraphs gives him a full 17 more WAR for his career than BR.

  • charles pierce

    I lost my BBWAA golden ticket a year before I would have been eligible to vote for life. Or possibly because I wrote in the newspaper that I would have the bartender at my local fill it out for me.

    • c u n d gulag

      Mr. Pierce,
      My guess is that “your local,” is in Boston.

      So, I’m assuming that you checked to see if that bartender wasn’t a closet Yankee and Phil Rizzuto fan, before you handed him you ballet?

      And this comes from a Yankee and Phil Rizzuto fan.
      To his credit, “Da Scooter” did, however, give one of the rip-roaringest, funny induction speeches of ALL TIME!

      • Alan in SF

        From now on, every time I think Alan Trammell wasn’t quite good enough, I’ll remind myself: Phil Rizzuto.

        • c u n d gulag

          Also too – think, Rabbit Maranville, Dave Bancroft, and, maybe Travis Jackson and Pee Wee Reese.

        • Sherm

          Ignore Rizzuto, Reese and Mazeroski. They got voted in by the veterans committee, which is obsolete and should have been abolished decades ago.

        • CJColucci

          I’m on the fence about Trammel, not sure he belongs, wouldn’t get upset if he got in. But how come Trammel is considered a borderline HOFer and his double-play partner, Lou Whittaker, who is extremely similar as a player, doesn’t get even a whiff of HOF consideration.

          • Whitaker didn’t make the needed 5% to stay on the ballot his first time out. Crazy, but true. So he’s at the mercy of the Veterans Committee, whenever he becomes eligible for that.

            • Scott Lemieux

              Well, according to most of the Detroit media Alan Trammell was a really gritty, scrappy player who made himself a great player, but Lou Whitaker was just a lazy guy with a lot of natural talent. I wonder what it is about these players that could cause these attitudes?

              • Sherm

                You’ve got it all wrong. Trammell was a smart ballplayer. Whitaker was instinctual.

              • Let’s not forget the real outrage of Lou Whitaker taking a limousine to labor negotiations during the 94 work stoppage!

              • All I know is that talent alone explains why Dave Brubeck and Eminem outsold their peers in their respective genres.

            • The same thing happened to Dwight Evans, whose career was just a few years too early for folks to appreciate his OBP.

  • JKTHs

    Ugh. The writers who voted just for Jack Morris should be sent away to cover Little League forever.

    • efgoldman

      The writers who voted just for Jack Morris should be sent away to cover Little League forever.

      They’d probably bitch and whine about 11-year-olds fortifying their milk with Ovaltine.

  • Murc

    I would just like to note that the only things I know about Kenesaw Mountain Landis are the things Jonathon Coulton has told me.

    • commie atheist
    • Informant

      I was going to say the same thing. Never heard of him before that song.

  • hickes01

    Game Seven. Ten Innings. 1-0. Put him in the hall.

    • c u n d gulag

      One game, does not a HOFer make.

      That being said, that was one of the guttiest and best clutch performances I have ever seen!

      But, see the first sentence above.

      • elm

        Next thing you’ll tell me is that Kirk Gibson doesn’t belong in the Hall despite his pitch-perfect imitation of the Natural!

        • JKTHs

          Put David Freese in now! Why even wait til he retires?

        • L2P

          Well, it is the Hall of Fame, not just the Hall of Exceptional Statistics. In Los Angeles at least it’s a fact that he single-handedly slugged the Dodgers to victory with a little bit of pitching help.

          I’m not trying to convince you he belongs, but that (among other things) is why a lot of other people think he belongs.

      • To be totally fair, I honestly don’t give a shit if a voter wants to vote for Morris because he thinks he belongs in the Hall of Fame. I mean, don’t tell me that his shit didn’t stink or anything, but if you want to vote for him then be my guest.

        But if you vote for Morris and don’t vote for Schilling, I see no reason why you ought to be allowed to cast a ballot ever again.

        • Mike Schilling

          Why, thank you, Brien. I had no idea.

        • JKTHs

          But if you vote for Morris and don’t vote for Schilling, I see no reason why you ought to be allowed to cast a ballot ever again.


      • hickes01

        In my opinion, it does. The whole point is to win the Championship game. Look, I know there a dozen statistical arguments to keep him out, but to me, One Man, One Moment cancels them out. And please don’t compare Morris to Kurt Gibson. One lucky swing is not equal to ten innings and 140 pitches. You can commence flogging me…now.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Game Seven. Ten Innings. 1-0. Put him in the hall.

      Sure, right after we put Bret Saberhagen in. And Darryl Motley.

      • howard

        That was, considering the circumstances, the greatest game i ever saw pitched by a guy with his stuff (el tiante, game 4, ’75, was the greatest i ever saw by a guy with no stuff), but it doesn’t make morris one of the top 1% of pitchers in history (1% being my dividing line for the hall).

  • snarkout

    I’m disappointed that Carrie Muskat, whose ballot is perfectly sane, isn’t named “Carrie Muskrat”.

    • Bill Murray

      evidently you have been beset by some Muskrat Love

  • L2P

    Terence Moore:

    “Yes, they joined Bonds, Clemens and Sosa as those rumored as guilty during the Steroid Era, but the whispers weren’t as loud.”

    Does anything else need to be said about the stupidity of keeping out ANYONE from the “Steroid ERA?”

    • catclub

      I was going to put in the same quote.

      There is something that made it take far longer for Lance Armstrong to be convicted in the court of public opinion than Barry Bonds. Now compare Piazza,Biggio and Bagwell, with Sosa, Bonds and Clemens. Not a perfect one to one matchup, but getting close. Hmmmm.

      • Rhino

        Has lance Armstrong been convicted in the court of public opinion? I can tell you that in my local road cycling scene, the overall opinion has been: ‘yeah, obviously…what did you think was going on, why the witch hunt?’ Perhaps public opinion is different, but then it’s also rather less informed.

        • mpowell

          It’s the bullying of other riders on his team to use PEDs and use them in dangerous ways that is really striking to me. Most champions are hyper-competitive @ssholes, but not all of them are pressuring their teammates to do dangerous things to further their own glory.

          • alpe

            and he hounded any rider who commented about the prevalence of doping i like to think LeMond wasn’t on PEDs

      • CaptBackslap

        Lance Armstrong’s head didn’t turn into an overinflated novelty balloon.

      • Um, I’m about as radical as it gets in terms of being totally fine with steroid usage, but there’s been a lot more evidence for Bonds’ using put out there. Not that that must necessarily mean anything, but it does make him materially different than everyone else.

        • L2P

          A lot? Aren’t there about 40 people testifying to his steroid use? How much more evidence is there for Bonds?

          • Than Armstrong? Dunno, cycling isn’t my thing. I was comparing Bonds to Piazza, Biggio, etc.

      • Lance Armstrong did not break a record that aging American sportswriters care about.

        • Green Caboose

          And very few will note that Armstrong, in addition to doing all he could to destroy the careers and reputations of those who accurately accused him, was actually breaking his sports rules. The baseball steroid users were not.

          What a concept.

    • elm

      Moore went on to say that no one questioned the character or integrity of Tim Raines. Hello? I mean, I’m a huge support of Raines in the hall (2nd or 3rd best lead off man of all time; had the misfortune of playing at the same time as the best lead off man of all time), but can we make the steroid hypocrisy any more clear than by voting for a guy who carried cocaine in his uniform pocket while playing?

      • Thlayli

        Was there a rule about cocaine use agreed to by the union?

        Illegal’s got nothing to do with it, as Mr. Lemieux repeatedly assures me.

        • elm

          Irrelevant, as Moore won’t vote for those who only used steroids before there was a rule. Besides, my point was that to claim that Raines never had his character questioned is absurd.

      • blow

        Hello, it was the 80’s
        DARE and “just say no” have fucked up
        an entire generation

  • Alan in SF


    Including the postseason, Stewart posted a 9-1 career record against Roger Clemens

  • Hal Bodley, the guy quoted above regarding Morris being one of the most dominant Ps of his time:

    Hal Bodley
    Ballot: Morris, Biggio, Fred McGriff


    My vote for McGriff is not only a testament to his career that included 493 homers and 1,550 runs batted in, but for a clean player who deserves recognition in an election where players suspected of PED use compiled much better numbers. McGriff’s 493 homers are 111 more than Hall of Famer Jim Rice hit and the same number Lou Gehrig blasted.

    Jeff Bagwell fell only a little short of McGriff in home runs (449) and just shy in RBI (1,529) (not that RBI is a great stat) despite playing four fewer seasons. Given that, Bagwell unsurprisingly had a better career OPS (.948 vs. .886) and OPS+ (149 to 134). Bagwell also had a lot more career WAR (76.7 vs. 48.2) and topped 5 WAR eight times compared to McGriff’s five times, and did better than 7 WAR four times to McGriff’s zero. McGriff has one more All Star appearance but one fewer Gold Glove. Bagwell was Rookie of the Year and the 1994 NL MVP, two acknowledgements not won by McGriff at any point. Bagwell ranks 36th in career MVP shares, 123 spots above McGriff.

    I’m not saying Fred McGriff wasn’t a great player or even that he doesn’t deserve the Hall of Fame — I’d probably not vote for him, but would say good for him if he got in — but he’s clearly inferior to Bagwell, who, like McGriff, has never been accused of using anything.

    • JKTHs

      Second. No way McGriff gets in over Bagwell.

      • It boggles the mind. I assume it’s due to unfounded suspicions based on Bagwell’s physique. But it’s funny he’s supporting Biggio; here’s a HardballTalk column from last month on the topic:

        Biggio is being promoted by Madden and others as this year’s clean candidate, whereas his longtime Astros teammate, Jeff Bagwell, has had his candidacy tainted by steroids.

        What I don’t get is why one if not the other?

        The case against Bagwell is that he showed little power as a youngster, befriended noted steroids user Ken Caminti, got a lot stronger in the majors and then turned into one of the game’s best players.

        And that differs from Biggio how? Biggio hit four homers in 555 at-bats at age 24, four homers in 546 at-bats at age 25 and six homers in 613 at-bats at age 26 before turning in the first of seven 20-homer campaigns at age 27. His career high of 26 homers came at age 39.

        Furthermore, Bagwell and Biggio were good friends who spent 15 years as teammates. I have my doubts that the training methods of one were a secret to the other. If Bagwell was on something, one would think there’s a more than slight chance that Biggio was on it, too.

        So why does Biggio get trumped up as clean? Because he was a middle infielder? Because he hit 20 homers per year rather than 40? I’ll give you that Biggio wasn’t quite as stacked as Bagwell in his prime, but the guy had some muscles.

      • L2P

        There isn’t even a “but he was so much more popular and important” argument. Yeah, McGriff and Crime Dog were fun to talk about for a while, but Bags was one-name player for almost two decades.

    • Scott Lemieux

      I think Bodley was the guy who wrote column after column arguing that Josh Booty was going to be a superstar and everyone who disagreed with this was an idiot. Or was that Beaton?

      • Was this on purpose? If so, well played:

        Baseball Primer Newsblog‘s announcement of Beaton’s death features the following comment:

        2. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: June 23, 2011 at 02:52 AM (#3860124)

        Never heard — oh, you know.

        Actually, I kept getting him confused with Hal Bodley — not his writing, but just his name. No idea why.

        One or two other commenters note the same thing, as well as the Josh Booty connection. Could be that I’m not aware of an internet tradition?

        • Scott Lemieux

          No internet tradition — just have trouble keeping USA Today’s hack writers straight, and the Josh Booty crusade was comedy gold.

          • Scott Lemieux

            And, teh google tells me that it was the late Mr. Beaton.

            • I guess it never occurred to me that actual people wrote for USA Today.

    • John

      My understanding is that a lot of idiotic sports writers have basically decided that Bagwell is tainted with steroids, despite there being no evidence whatsoever that he used steroids. He’s a big dude! He played at a time when lots of other guys used steroids! What else do you want?

      • JKTHs

        It’s odd how arbitrarily this tag is being used. I’ve rarely if ever heard a sports writer talk about Jim Thome in that way and I think there would be a better case for using it on him than Bagwell (although I wouldn’t accuse either and would put both in the Hall).

    • Eric

      Edgar Martinez was better than both Bagwell and McGriff

      • mark f

        I’d put Edgar in the HOF too, but his OPS+ trails Bagwell’s as do his numbers in all the other categories I listed. And anyway I thought of Bagwell due to McGriff being an NL first baseman.

        • Yeah, I’ll sing Edgar’s praises from the top of the mountain of your choosing, but Bagwell > Edgar.

      • Thlayli

        Edgar’s problem is sportswriters of a certain age who say “He was a … DH *spit*. I’m not voting for one of those.”

        It’s been 40 years. They’re not changing the rule back. Get over it.

        • sparks

          Why does this reasoning remind me of a lot of commenters here who derided the idea of Ray Guy in the Football HOF?

          • mpowell

            Maybe because you don’t know that Guy wasn’t a great punter by any standard.

        • Sherm

          It should be a demerit. Defense does matter. Not saying I wouldn’t vote for Edgar, but defense counts and a pure DH would have to have superior offensive numbers to get my support.

          • elm

            I agree: just like we expect more offense out of a 1B to get into the hall than we do for a SS, we should expect even more out of a DH.

            Edgar clears the barrier, as does Frank Thomas. I can’t think of any others off the top of my head, though.

            • I think David Ortiz will have a strong case once he’s done.

              • elm

                I don’t know. Maybe it’s the Yankee fan in me thinking he doesn’t clear it. But I’ll grant that he’s in the discussion.

    • I give him points for not accepting the McGriff Paradox, anyway. Which reminds me that I keep forgetting to get around to writing about that this year.

      • L2P

        What’s the McGriff paradox?

        • Premise A: Players who juiced tainted the record book and distorted the accomplishments of players who didn’t use.

          Premise B: Fred McGriff (presumed clean) isn’t a Hall of Famer because his numbers weren’t as good as players who we claim were using steroids.

          • mark f

            Excellent name for an annoying phenomenon.

    • Rob

      The problem with McGriff is that he too doesn’t show the traditional aging curve. He had a 930 OPS as a 37 year old in 2001. So either he was juicing like everyone else or something else needs to explain the offense of the 90s and early 2000s.

      • Bill Murray

        a great player having a late career spike in one or two seasons was never terribly uncommon

  • JMG

    My BBWAA peers are doing their best to have MLB yank the Hall vote from them. The game isn’t going to tolerate 10 years or so with no inductions. In principle, I see no reason why BBWAA members should comprise the electorate. In practice, I know whatever new system MLB comes up with will be worse.
    It all makes me very sad. I thought my job was to go to the ballgame and write about what happened. Obviously, others think it was to become a high-ranking cleric in one of the world’s major religions.

    • JKTHs

      My BBWAA peers are doing their best to have MLB yank the Hall vote from them.

      One can only hope.

    • “In principle, I see no reason why BBWAA members should comprise the electorate. In practice, I know whatever new system MLB comes up with will be worse.”

      1. Why would MLB come up with anything? The Hall of Fame is its own entity, baseball doesn’t control the voting process.

      2. I could come up with a vastly superior electorate in roughly 30 seconds, as could just about any attentive baseball fan who still cares about this tiresome debate.

      • JMG

        Dear Brien: The Hall is run by a committee which is controlled by MLB. Bill James wrote a book about it all over a decade ago. But fact is, if MLB wants it, the Hall does it.

    • mpowell

      It’s not a terrible thing for the writers to vote for the players. I’d only really make two recommendations: 1) Players don’t drop off the ballot if they don’t get enough votes (no real justification for that, I think) and 2) you have to vote for at least 5 or 6 guys each year. If you can’t come up with 5 or 6 guys in the past 15 years who deserve to be in the Hall, then you’re doing it wrong and don’t deserve the vote. It’s too late for that kind of small Hall and it’s silly to prefer one era to another so strongly.

      • Green Caboose

        It’s weird that the NFL HoF votes in 4-7 players per year (usually closer to 7 than 4) and most fans considers that far too few, yet baseball is lucky to induct 2 per year.

        I suppose an obvious issue is that the NFL, with 22 starters per team not counting kicker/punters, and with a major league career average less than half that of baseball, has a lot more star players to consider.

        But I think the other issue is that because of the longevity – especially in the last few decades, the baseball HoF now demands such sky-high career stats that few can possibly qualify. The player who has 4 phenomenal years, 3 good years, and the rest crud (e.g. Koufax) won’t make it anymore both because the career totals are too low and because the career averages are too low.

        I would NOT recommend that the baseball HoF relax standards for long-career players – Blyleven’s long, long, long string of above average years making the HoF is embarrassing enough. Rather, I suggest they look at players who did incredibly well for, say, 5 years, but otherwise unimpressive for consideration.

        • snarkout

          As noted upthread, while Blyleven had a very long career of being quite good, his 7-year peak is comparable to people like Schilling and Jim Palmer who strike me as perfectly respectable HoF choices.

      • Bill Murray

        1) Players don’t drop off the ballot if they don’t get enough votes (no real justification for that, I think)

        With no dropoffs you’d have ~200 players on the ballot (assuming the same 10 year window as now) which would make electing more than the blatantly obvious even more difficult.

        I think something along the lines of Bill James’ idea in the Politics of Glory makes quite a bit of sense

        five panels—one each for the media, the fans, the players, baseball executives and professionals, and what he calls “baseball scholars”. Each panel would be able to nominate players individually, but for election a player would need the approval of four out of the five panels.

        • mpowell

          That really isn’t obvious to me at all. It doesn’t look like people are frequently filling up their ballots and even if they are, I hope they are smart enough to understand that a vote for a guy who just got 2% is a long shot.

  • wengler

    Bonds is the best power hitter in the history of baseball. If he isn’t a HOFer, who is?

    • A Different John

      Bonds + Steroids was the best power hitter in the history of baseball. Bonds, just very, very good. I doubt, based on the first 450 or so home runs worth of his career, that Bonds + Steriods > Mays or Aaron or Mantle + (Bonds-level) Steroids.

      • wengler

        Mays, Aaron and Mantle are all HOFers. Bonds doesn’t need to be better than them. He needs to be equal to them.

        Here’s the thing about baseball. The competitive balance of pitching vs. hitting changes from era to era. Each ballpark has their own arbitrary home run distances and atmospheric effects. It’s in some ways a crapshoot.

        Bonds may have gotten physically huge off of steroids but that has very little to with hitting. The more important advantage is in quickly recovering from injury and late career effects that steroids gave him. Frankly, they gave him another 10 years of prime hitting.

        If someone wants to make some sort of hitting isolated from steroids stat, I think it would still show that Bonds was a super elite hitter in his own era, and elite and Hall-worthy in any era.

        • L2P

          See Bonds’ 1990 statline below.

        • A Different John

          I didn’t say he did need to be better than them to be in the HOF, I was qualifying wengler’s comment “Bonds is the best power hitter in the history of baseball.” And I don’t think he needs to be equal or even nearly equal to them to be in the HOF, just somewhere in the general vicinity.

          If he doesn’t take steroids, matching his career HR trajectory with others with similar trajectories, he winds up with somewhere in the 580-620 HR range, certainly first-ballot HOF worthy, esp. given his BA, steals, etc.

        • howard

          Wengler, exactly: if being big and strong were all that was necessary for home-run hitting, frank howard would be the career home run king.

          That said, i’m fine with steroid users not making the hall as long as we can throw out everyone in the hall who benefitted from segregation, greenies, spitters, or scuffing the ball.

          • “everyone in the hall who benefitted from segregation, greenies, spitters, or scuffing the ball.”

            Just because this is always going to bring out a visceral whine that amounts to “I think steroids were worse than racism…how dare you say I think steroids were worse than racism,” it should be noted that merely playing in the segregated period isn’t quite the same thing as popping pills or corking your bat. It’s more akin to being a pitcher during the elevated mound or dead ball era.

            • howard

              Brien, i’m not even making a moral comment; i’m simply saying if steroid records are illegitimate, so are records compiled when the average and median player quality was lower than it would have been without a color line, allowing the best players to look even better.

              • Bill Murray

                OTOH, baseball was far and away the top sport until the ~1960s, so median quality per player could still have been better than after the best athletes started sticking to football and then basketball

                • Scott Lemieux

                  This is always overrated. The skills required to make a great baseball player are pretty unique. (Bo Jackson was a mediocre baseball player, Deion Sanders a poor one, Michael Jordan couldn’t hit AA pitching.) How many NFL or NBA players would really be great baseball players? Very few, I’d guess.

                • elm

                  The more important point, unless you think that the sports world is an efficient market where the best talent gets sorted into the right spot, is how many people tried, and failed, to be an NBA point guard or NFL running back who would have been an above average baseball player if he had spent his whole life doing that?

                  How good would Bo have been as only a baseball player? What if MJ had come up through the minors? Might he have learned to hit a curveball? These are relatively easy questions compared to, “What if little Johnny had played baseball instead of basketball? Would he have been drafted out of high school instead of getting a scholarship to some Division II school?”

                • djillionsmix

                  OTOH, baseball was far and away the top sport until the ~1960s, so median quality per player could still have been better than after the best athletes started sticking to football and then basketball

                  On the disturbing and inexplicable third hand, us/world population today are both about double what they were in the 60s so there should be twice as many best athletes to choose from.

                  And then over on the by now totally ridiculous fourth hand the massive salaries and potential for endorsement money plus the stagnant/declining prospects for working class employment over the last 40 years probably mean that today’s kids grow up even more desperate for a shot at sports stardom.

                  But really all the hands seem to be holding good reasons why trying to judge the players based on what their career should have been in the purified ideal of baseball kept in a vacuum-sealed bottle is a sucker’s game.

                • Bill Murray

                  well Scott none of those that you named trained almost solely on baseball from the time they were very young as essentially all youngsters did back in the day, so it’s hard to say how good they could have been. As usual for you, you half consider a question to get to your predetermined conclusion.

                  djillion, the number of teams and hence major league players has also doubled, so your third point is wrong. Also, your fourth hand is really pointless for two reasons; first, like there weren’t a huge number of desperate poor people in every era, and in the current era, the desperate poor play basketball and football more than baseball

      • L2P

        Bonds – Steroids = 301/33/114/52, with a OPS of 970. IIRC, leading the league or in the top-5 in those categories. If you put any given year of Mays, Bonds, and Aaron up, and didn’t put the name up next to it, the only thing that would show the difference would be Aaron’s lack of steals.

        I’m getting really, really tired of this myth of the “Without Steroids, Bonds was just a slightly above average player.” Bonds was generally considered the best, if most obnoxious, player in the league long before there was a hint of the PED around him. And then McGwire started getting sloppy blow jobs for hitting steroid-assisted HRs out of the park while Bonds got ignored for his all-around greatness. (Yeah, I’m looking at you, Sports Illustrated.)

        So we blame Bonds for taking PEDS.

        • A Different John

          Thanks for reading! How does “very, very good” (my words) = “just a slightly above average player” (your words)?

          Bonds was on the downhill slope of his career stats when he started juicing; his lifetime stats would have not been nearly as good, on any averaged basis, as his stats up until just after his peak years were.

          And wow, he had one outstanding year w/o steroids!!!! Therefore he’s as good as anyone ever over their whole careers! Not much of an argument, if you ask me.

          You’re welcome to argue that I should have said “a great player” instead of a “very, very good player”, but that’s hardly the way to do it.

          • Sherm

            “Bonds was on the downhill slope of his career stats when he started juicing.”

            The numbers state otherwise. He had not had an ops below 1000 since 1990.

            “And wow, he had one outstanding year w/o steroids!!!”

            He had three MVPs without steroids, and he should have had at least one more.

            • Scott Lemieux

              The idea that Bonds had only one outstanding year without steroids is almost comically ignorant, like saying that after 1997 Pedro Martinez was nothing special. Bonds was by far the best player in baseball for several years before the late 90s.

              • JKTHs

                Wow if anyone ever said that about Pedro…I mean…wow. His best years were after that and I think his 2000 season was possibility one of the best in pitching history.

            • Mike Schilling

              “Bonds was on the downhill slope of his career stats when he started juicing.”

              That’s probably fair. He was 34, after all, coming off a year in which hes OPS+ was 178. He probably couldn’t have kept up that kind of performance for more than four or five years without some sort of artificial aid.

              • pete

                So the key question, to me, is: at that point, had he already accumulated enough stats to be in the HoF? And the answer is, yes. Easily. Just for instance, by 1998:
                8x all-star
                8x gold glove
                7x silver slugger
                3x MVP
                5x 30-30 (incl. 1 40-40; people tend to forget about the steals, dont they?) …
                How do you keep that guy out of the HoF?

          • tucker

            Personally we ought to thank Bonds for recalibrating the statistical base line for for alleged juicers. He showed everyone what stats would look like if a HOFer allegedly juiced. He would have hit 80+ home runs the year he hit 73 if they hadn’t stopped pitching to him in situations where it mattered. He would have had 800+ career jacks also. So they the easy test for the writers who worship the record books should be that if you juiced and you’re not at least statistically 95% of Bonds, as he was the best hitter of his generation on and off the juice allegedly, you shouldn’t be in.

    • snarkout

      The answer is simple: Jack Morris.

      • He. Just. Wins.

      • djillionsmix

        I really don’t see how these guys are doing anything other than voting themselves into irrelevancy.

        Like if they really want to turn it into the hall of marginally interesting also-rans then i guess there’s nobody who can stop them doing it.

        Maybe someone else can start a new hall of actually famous players that people actually care about.

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