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    Saturday, December 29, 2012

    50 Best 2012 Wrap-Up and Analysis

    I finished this year’s look at my 50 Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame in about half the time of last year. So, I figured the best way to finish this series (and this year, as I will be taking the next week off) would be a wrap-up similar to last year’s.

    So, just like last year, we’ll begin with a positional look at my top 50.

    P: 11
    C: 4
    1B: 6
    2B: 5
    3B: 7
    SS: 3
    LF: 4
    CF: 2
    RF: 7
    DH: 1

    Pitchers are obviously leading the way, with third base and right field leading batters.Overall, nothing too shocking. The only positions that changed by more than one person from last year are first and third base, both of which decreased by two.

    Looking back at my ballot, the only changes I would have made were probably swapping out 1800s stars Ross Barnes and Ezra Sutton for Wes Ferrell and John Olerud (maybe Tommy John or a 19th century pitcher would displace them if I looked harder, though).

    Now, to compare my ballot against the current Hall Standards. We’ll start with by comparing my ballot to two projects similar to the Hall of Fame: Baseball Think Factory’s Hall of Merit, and Adam Darowski’s Hall of Stats. 78% of my ballot (39 of 50) is in the Hall of Merit, while 94% (47 of 50) is in the Hall of Stats. Compare that to the real Hall of Fame, where there’s 73% overlap with the Hall of Merit and 67% overlap with the Hall of Stats. Including Ferrell and Olerud bumps up both of my percentages by 2% on top of that. That’s a pretty good mark in favor of my list of 50 players, compared to the Hall’s standards.

    And the Hall of Merit figure is technically not done yet. The Hall of Merit is set up to have an election each year, like the Hall of Fame, but they cap their inducting class. They inducted four members this year, with Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosa finishing fifth and sixth, putting them in a good spot to be inducted in the next year or two.

    Then there’s the straight performance metrics. Let’s look at the 50 players I would add to the Hall, compared to the Hall’s median in the same categories. The Hall Rating comes from the Hall of Stats:

    StatfWARbWARHall Rating
    My Ballot, Average67.763.5131.3
    My Ballot, Median67.460.9123.5
    Hall of Fame Median67.258.7118
    My Edited Ballot, Average68.664.3132.3
    My Edited Ballot, Median67.460.9123.5

    Some quick notes: first, the fWAR figure for the Hall median is an approximation, but I’m fairly confident in it. Next, my edited ballot refers to my ballot with Olerud and Ferrell on it. Lastly, I used the Hall median instead of average for a reason: the Hall would have a large, unfair advantage in average. Let’s face it, you don’t have to be a genius to elect Willie Mays, or Babe Ruth, or Cy Young. Their high WAR figures are going to skew the average upwards, when they really are only a select company. Most Hall of Famers are not Mays or Ruth.

    In any case, my median is on par or higher than the Hall’s in every category, and my average was even higher in every mark, meaning that I’m not sneaking a bunch of weak candidates in at the bottom of my ballot. My revised ballot fairs even stronger. So yes, you could add 50 players to the Hall, increasing its to 125% of its current total, and still keep the bar for entrance at the same level.

    My ballot will probably only increase in strength next year, not only because of my edits, but also because I’ll get to pick from ballot newcomers including Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Mike Mussina, Tom Glavine, and Jeff Kent. Well, I know the first two players to take off to make room (hint: the two that I already mentioned). where will I get the other three slots?

    Well, I already get to remove Deacon White, as he was just elected. That leaves two more. If one player from my list (Craig Biggio is my bet for most likely inductee) gets in, that’s another slot freed up. If another one (Mike Piazza is probably the next most likely to get in from my list), then my work is done. Otherwise, I might have to take a good look at Jeff Kent compared to some of the other players.

    Then, last thing to examine would be to see which teams have the most snubs. The first two ways I looked at it were by Primary Team, and in general. With the first method, only the team that had the player for the majority of his career gets credit. With the second method, every team a player played for gets credit. Numbers affected by my late edits are noted.

    TeamPrimary TeamTeam
    Blue Jays1 (2)3 (4)
    Braves2 (1)13 (11)
    Cubs39 (8)
    Indians3 (4)9
    Mariners11 (2)
    Mets28 (9)
    Red Sox49 (10)
    White Sox210
    Yankees313 (14)

    Of note, now the Rays are the only team to not have one player on the list, with the Diamondbacks picking up Curt Schilling in between last year and this year.

    Just on the straight numbers, it looks close, between the Astros, Cardinals, Cubs, Giants, Indians, Phillies, Red Sox, and Yankees-all have at least three players on the list. However, neither method is quite exact. For example, take Keith Hernandez; using only his primary team totally excludes the Mets, while taking all of his teams gives equal weight to the Cardinals, Mets, and Indians. To get a better look, we’ll have to look at the total games played.

    For the next table, I’ll only be using the edited numbers, partly to save time and partly because Barnes and Sutton didn’t play a ton of games with current major league teams. I also looked at each teams games per year of existence. (Also, note that I made some adjustments to get starting pitchers on to the same scale as position players, usually multiplying their number of starts times the number of pitchers in a rotation when they pitched).

    TeamsGamesRankYearsGames per yearRank
    Blue Jays3447143695.752
    Red Sox8249111273.76
    White Sox43941011239.215

    Thanks to the new ballot additions, the Giants, Red Sox, Indians, Mets, Dodgers, Astros, Phillies, and Pirates all gain big. The Cubs’ gain from Sosa is offset by the induction of Ron Santo. The Tigers were also hit hard after last year’s borderline candidates Bill Freehan and Frank Tanana were dropped for replacements, but they still put up a respectable showing.

    On sheer volume of games played, the older teams dominate, with the Red Sox (Roger Clemens, Dwight Evans, Reggie Smith, Luis Tiant) leading the way. The Yankees (Thurman Munson, Graig Nettles, Willie Randolph) and Cardinals (Ken Boyer, Keith Hernandez, Ted Simmons, Bob Caruthers) follow close behind.

    The Astros and Tigers are both rather surprising. The Astros are the only expansion team (more on them in a second), while the Tigers are essentially comprised of just two players, Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell. There are only two other players on my list who even appeared with the Tigers, and one (Eddie Cicotte) was barely worth counting. Darrell Evans spent a decent chunk of time there, but it was still the shortest stint of his career.

    Switching to a per-year counting favors expansion teams, with the Astros outright dominating thanks to Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, and Jimmy Wynn (Roger Clemens is the only other player to contribute more than even 75 games). Having three franchise players on the outside will do that to you.

    The Blue Jays (only Dave Stieb and John Olerud had them as a primary team, with David Cone and Roger Clemens each providing short stints), Mets (a bunch of players, led by Mike Piazza and Cone, and with Olerud and Hernandez making major contributions), Mariners (only Edgar Martinez as a primary, with time from Olerud, again), and Rangers (Rafael Palmeiro and Kevin Brown as the primaries, and Buddy Bell just missing) fill out the rest of the top five. It makes sense expansion teams would lead this, seeing as each individual game counts for more.

    I would have to declare the Astros most snubbed team this year, in the end. A top two of Biggio and Bagwell is hard to top; only the Tigers come close with Trammell and Whitaker. The Astros have the stronger supporting cast this year, giving them the edge over the Tigers. No other teams can boast two, clear Hall-worthy, career members like those two, and no one can also lay claim to a decent borderline like Jimmy Wynn on top of that.

    With that out of the way, now all that’s left is to see this year’s Hall results in a few weeks. This marks the 150th and final post on Hot Corner Harbor for 2012; see you again in a week.

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