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    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

    Best Hitters, 28-30, And the Hall: A Continuation

    Last week, I looked at future Hall of Famers, seeing how their WAR at certain ages reflected their chance of making the Hall. The finding for hitters was that that, by age 25, if the player has topped the Hall of Fame median (as per Baseball-Reference), they have a greater than 50% chance of making the Hall of Fame, while with pitchers, it takes until the age of 30.

    Since it started as a look at promising young major leaguers, I only went to the age of 27 for hitters. Since I went through the age of 30 for pitchers, though. I may as well look at the ages 28 through 30 for hitters as well.

    Age 28- 125 Hall of Famers, median of 29.8

    Ryan Braun leads the way. With a strong follow-up to his NL MVP performance, Braun now stands at 32.0 WAR. The only other 28-year old over 29.8 WAR is Dustin Pedroia, at 30.7. As a second baseman, though, he may go the route of Lou Whitaker and Bobby Grich. It helps that he already has an MVP, though.

    On the near misses front, there’s Joey Votto at 26.2 and Hanley Ramirez at 26.0. They sort of appear to be going in opposite directions, though. I wouldn’t be in disbelief to see Votto above the Hall median for 29-year olds next year, but I would be shocked if Hanley managed it.

    Of the next three-Nick Markakis (21.6), Brian McCann (19.8), and Prince Fielder (19.7)-McCann seems the strongest, thanks to the different standards for catchers. Still, with his difficult 2012, he may have fallen off his incredible earlier pace.

    Age 29- 125 Hall of Famers, median of 33.3

    Four players actually matched or bettered this, and it was apparently a great year for 29-year olds in 2012. Miguel Cabrera leads the quartet at 44.4, and with a Triple Crown under his belt, I think we have to start considering him a lock. It’s also worth noting that 2012 represented his tenth season, so he’d finally be eligible, were he to retire.

    After him is David Wright, who boosted his numbers to 39.1 with a MVP-type campaign. Fellow bounce-back all-star Joe Mauer immediately follows him at 37.0-it’s pretty incredible that he clears that mark without needing any adjustments for playing catcher. Then, there’s Robinson Cano, who had a 2012 arguably better than Cabrera’s, with 34.8 WAR. Of those four, Cabrera is the only one who would be eligible if he retired.

    The only near miss is fifth place finisher Jose Reyes, with 29.8 WAR. It’s worth noting that he also played his tenth season this year, and he’s just shy of 1500 hits. He might become a dark horse candidate, especially if he can hang on for 3000 hits.

    Age 30- 125 Hall of Famers, median of 37.5

    30 makes up for 29’s overabundance. Carl Crawford leads the way with 33.5, which means he’s just shy of the 29 standard. And that’s despite being awful in 2011 and only playing in 31 games last year. It’s also worth noting that he has over 1600 hits already. Who knows; maybe he’ll re-find himself in L.A. in 2013.

    Ian Kinsler and Adrian Gonzalez are next, but they’re both under 29 WAR (28.7 and 28.1, respectively).

    And now, the second part; what does this mean? What percentage of players at the Hall median have gone on to Cooperstown? Well, taking out players on the ballot or not yet eligible, the figures look as such:

    28: 125 Hall of Famers, 63 matched or topped 29.8 WAR
    131 players matched or topped it
    23 haven’t been on a Hall ballot yet, plus 4 on the ballot last year

    29: 125 Hall of Famers, 63 matched or topped 33.3 WAR
    117 players matched or topped it
    22 haven’t been on a Hall ballot yet, plus 3 on the ballot

    30: 125 Hall of Famers, 63 matched or topped 37.5 WAR
    111 players matched or topped it
    22 haven’t been on a Hall ballot yet, plus 3 on the ballot

    Well, that’s pretty interesting. 30 feels so early to be calling players locks, but at the same time, it looks like you can do so with a pretty solid basis for some players.

    Now, some caveats to make; first, this was just using players who are in the Hall. If I used players deserving of the Hall, I would imagine the percentages would be even higher.* I mean, Bobby Grich wound up with a career that’s more than Hall-worthy; it’s not his fault that the voters didn’t see it.

    *This might even end up correcting itself as the Veterans Committee makes its way to more recent history.

    Also, when I was finding the Hall median, I stuck to 1901 to present in the Play Index; it made sense to me for some reason, but near the end, it occurred to me that I was getting players from before 1901 who had seasons cut off. I was going for a quick look more than anything else; so, in truth, the Hall median is actually higher, in most cases, which probably means that the degree of certainty that a player will make it is even higher. Granted, we’d have fewer players to mention in that case, but by hitting the real Hall median, by the age of 30, you’re probably dealing with a probability well over 80%.

    But there you have it; what was meant to be a look at the young stars of today morphed into a look at their Hall of Fame chances. Let it never be said I don’t think ahead.

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