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    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

    Another Look at Predicting Hall of Fame Hitters

    As some of you may remember, last year I took a look at the active players who were, in one sense, on track to join the Hall of Fame. I wanted to update it with the players from last year, but after looking at it in retrospect, there were a few things I needed to fix. The biggest issue was that, when gathering the historic data, I only went back to 1901. This time, I included all years in the Play Index search. This ended up pushing the median Wins Above Replacement higher than last year, which led to interesting results on the prediction angle.

    First, though, a quick summary of what I did for those who didn’t see last year’s article: I looked at the Hall of Fame hitters and their career Wins Above Replacement through each age from 20 through 35 (last year, I only went to 30). In each set, I picked the median career value. Then, I looked at how many hitters in history had been worth that much through those ages, Hall of Fame or not. I removed players currently on the BBWAA ballot, since they’re still up in the air, then found a simple percentage of how many players at the Hall median for the age would go on to Cooperstown.

    For example, take the age of 20. Of the 60 Hall of Famers who had played games through their age 20 seasons, the median value provided was 0.45 WAR. Therefore, 30 Hall of Famers were above that. 90 Players not in the Hall have matched that mark, with 1 of them being on the ballot this year. That works out to 25.21% of 20-year old players who were at the Hall median eventually making the Hall of Fame.

    There are still some issues with this. The two biggest are related. Mostly, this doesn’t account for deserving players not in the Hall. One that sticks out in my mind is Ted Simmons; I remember seeing him consistently above the median, and he’s definitely better than half of the catchers in the Hall, but as is, he’s just not in.

    However (the second problem) is that this also doesn’t account for future Veterans Committee picks. For example, Simmons may one day get his induction; right now, though, it just doesn’t factor in. Either way, these numbers would be underselling the likeliness of future election in both cases.

    At the low end, there’s also the issue of incomplete information (since not all players debut at the same age), but there isn’t much that can be done with that. Also, I’m just going by what has historically happened, not counting stuff like all the protest nonsense, steroid-moralizing, and whatever else has been going on the last few ballots.

    Anyway, on to the numbers. Below, in order are the Ages, the median WARs (from Baseball-Reference), the number of Hall of Famers at that mark, the number of non-Hall of Famers, the number on the ballot still, and finally, the resulting percentage that have made the Hall.

    Thursday, January 9, 2014

    Examining the Hall of Fame Vote for Starters

    Well, the Hall of Fame votes were finally released. There are a lot of ridiculous things I could cover (like Craig Biggio’s exclusion, missing by two votes and largely caused by the artificial 10-person limit), but I won’t. Instead, I want to look at something else. Pitchers, specifically.

    There were eight starters up for election this year. If you were to rank them, Greg Maddux and Roger Clemens would undoubtedly be options 1 and 1A. Hideo Nomo and Kenny Rogers would probably bring up the rear (although Rogers is probably better than at least a couple pitchers already in the Hall; that’s not really a huge help for his candidacy, though).

    Really, I want to look at the middle four, those being Tom Glavine, Jack Morris, Mike Mussina, and Curt Schilling. Really, I want to keep it to just this year’s ballot, otherwise I would throw in John Smoltz and Kevin Brown as well, but let’s just keep it simple.

    First, let’s see how they did in voting:
    Glavine: 91.9%
    Morris: 61.5%
    Schilling: 29.2%
    Mussina: 20.3%

    I find this interesting for a lot of reasons. Mostly, the voting doesn’t really seem to reflect performance terribly well in my mind. If I had to rank these guys, I’d probably put them Schilling/Mussina/Glavine in a tight bunch but in that order, followed by a far lagging Jack Morris. A 70+ point spread doesn’t seem at all justified. So, just for fun, here are some comparisons. I’ll award each pitcher points based on where they finish in the group; first gets 4, last gets 1. I haven’t run this experiment, so I don’t know if it’ll turn out like I expect, but let’s see.

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014

    Reconsidering Fred McGriff for the Hall of Fame

    I didn’t really give a lot of time to the returning candidates this year that I didn’t vote for in past years. Which I guess makes sense; I mean, I knew I couldn’t vote for any of them, with 18 players that I knew I’d vote for. It made sense to stick with the new guys that I may have not considered, since I’ve by definition already looked at past years.

    And to be fair, I went in knowing that I would vote for thirteen of the seventeen returning candidates. That really only leaves four players, and I already know i wouldn’t vote for Jack Morris or Don Mattingly, as I've put more than enough time into considering their cases.

    And I’m pretty chilly on Lee Smith’s candidacy as well; I wouldn’t be opposed to him going in, I guess, but I don’t see it as urgent. I’d put him on level with Dan Quisenberry, or maybe even-to-slightly behind Billy Wagner (maybe even Eric Gagne-Lewie Polls at Beyond the Boxscore makes an interesting case for him on a hypothetical unlimited ballot), which is to say: I’d support them if we decided that Cooperstown needed more than seven closers (the five currently in, plus I’m assuming Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman get in, which might be a leap), but given what we know about the difficulty of closing, the relative newness of the closer position, etc, it seems almost silly to put that many in the Hall.

    That leaves one holdover-Fred McGriff. I’ve actually voted for McGriff before, back when there were more ballot spaces than worthy candidates. It only seems fair to give him another look, since he’s so close to my borderline.