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    Thursday, August 2, 2012

    Who are the Hall of Famers Playing Today? 2006, Part 3

    Finally, after a two day delay (who knew that so much news would happen on the trade deadline?), we return to the Future Hall of Fame topic.

    Okay, so a quick recap. First, I looked back and determined that the Hall of Fame had sort of stopped inducting players at a reasonable rate (at least, compared to what they had done historically). Then, I decided to look at some players who were active in 2006 to get an idea of candidates to make the Hall in the future, that way we might get an idea of what a slightly larger Hall might look like. However, my two-part retrospective didn’t really organize the players in any way, other than the order that they came to me.*

    *If you were able to pick up on an order, please let me know. I’ve been trying to figure it out for years now with minimal luck.
    However, that order may not be the order that they’re most likely to be inducted into the Hall. And so, I took that list and decided to organize it into something shorter and more coherent here. Also, in case you’re curious/don’t want to go find the numbers in the older pieces: 37 players is the traditional average and about 3% of the players at the moment; 43 and a half is 3.5%; 50 is 4%; 62 is 5%; 74 and a half is 6%; and 82 anda half is 6.643%, the average from 1901 to 1982.

    Tier 1
    These are the guys playing in 2006 who are, in my thinking, locks for the Hall. Maybe they don’t make it on the first ballot (for various reasons-steroids, suspected steroids, not Babe Ruth, not Willie Mays, too many voters get confused by a big word someone uses making their case, whatever the electorate thinks up), but their eventual addition to the Hall is basically inevitable. Again, the numbers are here as a counter-I’m sort of treating this entire tier as equal probability (something near 100%).

    1. Albert Pujols
    2. Alex Rodriguez
    3. Barry Bonds
    4. Ken Griffey, Jr.
    5. Chipper Jones
    6. Derek Jeter
    7. Jim Thome
    8. Mariano Rivera
    9. Frank Thomas
    10. Craig Biggio
    11. Manny Ramirez
    12. Ichiro Suzuki
    13. Ivan Rodriguez
    14. Mike Piazza
    15. Roger Clemens
    16. Greg Maddux
    17. Randy Johnson
    18. Pedro Martinez
    19. Tom Glavine

    This isn’t to say the other players I listed aren’t worthy. These are just the ones that I don’t think the Hall voters will pass on (or, in some cases, wouldn’t pass on were it not for the steroids). I don’t think many fans will object to this group, either. Usually, when I see people argue against this group, it’s pretty clear they’re just trying to be contrarian.

    Also, I went more or less with older players for this group. That’s not a bias against younger players-there’s just less uncertainty involved. This group, if the players are still active, is more or less the “if they quit right now, they’d have a complete Hall case”.

    Also, since this group only has 19 players, that leaves us just over halfway to the traditional 37 player mark (that is, on average, 37 active players at any one time will make the Hall eventually).

    Tier 2
    Think of this tier as the “Bert Blyleven Tier”. These are the players that are more than qualified, but who may take longer to get inducted because their case isn’t as apparent as the ones listed above. I’ll still be using the “if they retired today” criteria. This is sort of an extension of tier one in that way-all of these players already have enough of a case, and I’ve seen some other people already advocating them for the Hall. I’m just not sure if enough buzz will reach the Hall voters before they join the ballot.

    20. Curt Schilling
    21. Mike Mussina
    22. John Smoltz
    23. Jim Edmonds
    24. Scott Rolen
    25. Vladimir Guerrero
    26. Jeff Kent
    27. Gary Sheffield
    28. Trevor Hoffman (With this one, I’m sort of guessing how the voters will respond.)
    29. Roy Halladay (With a good chance to move up to Tier 1 before he retires.)

    Tier 3
    This tier is best described as the “Future Tier 1/2” players. The ones who may not have a case ready yet, but at the rate they’re going, it seems reasonable to assume that they’ll wind up more than deserving.

    30. Adrian Beltre
    31. Joe Mauer
    32. Miguel Cabrera
    33. CC Sabathia
    34. Justin Verlander
    35. Felix Hernandez
    36. Zack Greinke

    Granted, some of them require more assumption than others. However, based on their current career values and where they all are in their primes, I feel comfortable putting all of them here.

    Tier 4
    This tier is, once again, based on certainty. These are the players who more or less already have a Hall case built up. However, I don’t think the voters will see it. If they do, it most certainly won’t be right away. Think of it maybe as the “Ron Santo Tier”, or the “Kevin Brown Tier”.

    37. Kenny Lofton
    38. Carlos Beltran (With a good chance to move into Tier 2, especially if he can get another season like this one.)
    39. Todd Helton
    40. Bobby Abreu
    41. Andruw Jones
    42. Brian Giles

    Tier 5
    This one is more or less interchangeable with Tier 4. This is like Tier 3, but with less to go on. More of these players will fall by the wayside before they lock up their cases than in previous tiers. However, there are still good chances that they solidify their odds.

    I guess you could think of this one as the “Yeah, but...” tier. They all already have compelling candidacies to build off of. However, every one of them has some issue that may prevent them from becoming Tier 1, 2, or 3.

    43. Chase Utley
    44. Lance Berkman (Yeah, but...can they put in one to three more solid seasons before injuries finish them off?)
    45. Evan Longoria (EDIT: Looking back at this, I just realized I totally messed up on this one. Longoria debuted in 2008. I'm leaving him here though, because he's already here, it keeps the third base trio together, and it makes the 2012 list more convenient.)
    46. Ryan Zimmerman
    47. David Wright (Yeah, but...will the Hall voters eventually come to acknowledge that third base is, in fact, a position?)
    48. Robinson Cano
    49. Dustin Pedroia
    50. Troy Tulowitzki (Yeah, but...will their bodies wear down from the rigors of the middle infield?)
    51. Matt Holliday (Yeah, but...can he stay this good? And for how much longer? And if he does, will anybody notice?)
    52. Hanley Ramirez (Yeah, but...can he rediscover whatever it was that made him so good a few years ago?)
    53. Prince Fielder (Yeah, but...will his body hold up? And if his value doesn’t keep up, will they care enough about milestones?)
    54. Cliff Lee
    55. Jered Weaver
    56. Matt Cain
    57. Cole Hamels
    58. Jon Lester
    59. Josh Johnson (Yeah, but...they’re pitchers. Are you kidding? They may burst into flame at any minute. Or snap a ligament. Something along those lines.)
    60. Dan Haren
    61. Adam Wainwright
    62. Jake Peavy
    63. Josh Beckett (Yeah, but...they’re even older pitchers. One of them might pitch until they’re 40 and build up a solid case. Several of them might. None of them might. Do you want to bet on any specific one?)
    64. Johan Santana
    65. Roy Oswalt (Yeah, but...if you’ve been paying attention, to this article or the games lately, I shouldn’t need to clarify these two too much.)

    Tier 6
    This is sort of the errata. If Tier 5 was the “Yeah, but...” tier, this is the “Well, maybe...” tier.

    66. David Ortiz
    67. Mark Teixeira
    68. Paul Konerko
    69. Adam Dunn (Well, maybe they’ll reach 500 home runs and get rubber-stamped in.)
    70. Johnny Damon
    71. Michael Young (Well, maybe they’ll reach 3000 hits.)
    72. Omar Vizquel (Well, maybe he’ll reach 3000 hits or voters will overestimate his glove.)
    73. Brian McCann
    74. Yadier Molina
    75. Jorge Posada (Well, maybe voters will pick another catcher to go with Joe Mauer for the 2000s generation.)
    76. Bernie Williams (Well, maybe he wasn’t so awful of a fielder.)
    77. Mark Buehrle (Well, maybe he can keep doing his Mark Buehrle thing for another half a decade.)
    79. Tim Hudson (Well, maybe he’ll do that if Mark Buehlre can’t.)
    78. Javier Vazquez (Well, maybe he’ll come back and get close to 3000 strikeouts.)
    80. Chris Carpenter (Well, maybe this time the paper clips and chewing gum in his arm will hold for a few years.)
    81. Andy Pettitte (Well, maybe this comeback is a multi-year thing.)
    82. Joe Nathan
    83. Billy Wagner
    84. Jonathan Papelbon
    85. Francisco Rodriguez (Well, maybe one of them will remain effective into their 40s, becoming Mariano Rivera’s heir apparent for the title of Best Closer in the League. Failing that, maybe the voters still don’t know what to make of closers.)

    What does this mean exactly?
    Well, this is by no means my last look at the Hall of Fame in the present day. This is piece is more a spring board to the (actually) modern day piece-with this more established players out of the way, I can take a more speculative stance. Looking at 2006 was also good for setting up the next few Hall ballots, I think.

    In a different sense, this 2006 Series didn’t quite build off the original “How Big Should the Hall Be?” piece they way I wanted. Fortunately, I have a much better idea of how to accomplish that. Hopefully, that (along with the 2012 article) will come next week, with possibly one or two articles between now and then.


    1. Theo, you and I evaluate Hall of Fame cases very similarly, but I don't think the voters will agree with a lot of your placements.

      First off, I totally agree with ignoring "PE"Ds, since the next generation of Hall of Famers will have to drop this ridiculous crusade. There's no point in a Hall of Fame without Bonds and ARod and Clemens, even if they are three of the worst human beings in America.

      I'm not sure Ichiro is in Tier 1, since less sophisticated voters may be reluctant to count his Japanese numbers, which will leave him well shy of 3,000 hits, while more sophisticated voters may not be impressed by his empty batting averages, though his defense certainly helps.

      I'm not sure about Beltre in Tier 3. I agree that he's well on his way to justifying induction, but he frittered away his prime in Safeco and voters don't seem too impressed with great defense at third, so unless he stars in a bunch more World Series, I think we'll hear a lot of "I know what a Hall of Famer feels like and Beltre isn't one".

      Greinke's induction may depend a lot on DIPS theory taking off.

      I might put Beltran in Tier 2 already. Mets fans aside, I think a lot of people view him as a Hall of Famer already, and his case should only get stronger in the next year or two.

      Let's not talk about Lester and Beckett right now.

      Javier Vazquez was enormously underrated (DIPS again) and probably has the longest shot of anyone on your list. If Kevin Brown can't stay on the ballot for two years, Vazquez might not get two votes. Conversely, Michael Young is probably the worst player on your list, but he'll stick around on the ballot for a while because he hit a ton of singles.

      Joe Nathan could be an interesting case if this renaissance continues, especially if he closes in Texas for a few more years.

      1. That's an interesting point on Ichiro. I was sort of counting on some extra consideration for being the first major position player to come to the US from Japan. I think his ten All-Star picks might help show his popularity, but now that you mention it, those were mostly fan picks. Maybe I am making too many leaps.

        My entire reason for putting Beltre in Tier 3 is that he's young enough that I think he'll get 3000 hits (and possibly 400 home runs). My assumption is that, if he reaches 3000 hits, many sports writers will suddenly have a moment like they did with Thome a few years ago ("Oh! Now that he has a round number, I should start considering voting for him.").

        I agree that Beltran is probably already Tier 2. I might have been making too broad of a generalization, but I felt like people thought of him as a disappointment after the Mets deal. I think the last two season have helped to curb that. It will be interesting to see what voters do with so many good center fielders hitting the ballot at about the same time.

        With closers, my current theory is that voters look at save totals, then other stats to see if they support the idea that they were dominant. Their treatment of Trevor Hoffman and Billy Wagner will be my test cases-they were pretty similar, Wagner might have been slightly more dominant, but Hoffman blew him away in saves.

        I may have been over-relying on DIPS being more mainstream. Greinke might not need it if his next four or five seasons are good, though.