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December 27, 2009

On the Beat

Weekend Update

by John Perrotto

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It is always one of the most interesting and nerve-wracking moments of the year. No, I'm not talking about sitting down to Christmas dinner with the in-laws then having my great nephew, likely the loudest 10-year-old in captivity, belt out carols. No, few things are more difficult than filling out a Hall of Fame ballot. I just finished my 12th this past week, a true honor and privilege for those with at least 10 consecutive seasons as a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

This year's ballot contains 26 names, and every one of those players was distinguished as a major leaguer. Voters are allowed to vote for up to 10 players, and candidates must be chosen on at least 75 percent of the ballots to gain induction. As I have the past two years in this space, I will reveal my ballot. Please note that I have the right to change my mind, and I have done so on a few players over the years.

Let's start by working backwards and eliminating those who, in my mind, have no reason to be considered. That list includes Kevin Appier, Ellis Burks, Andres Galarraga, Pat Hentgen, Mike Jackson, Eric Karros, Ray Lankford, Shane Reynolds, David Segui, and Todd Zeile.

Next is the list of players who I thought about voting for but eventually didn't make it past the second round of cuts. On it are Harold Baines, Fred McGriff, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Tim Raines, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell, and Robin Ventura. All were great players, just not great enough in my mind to be Hall of Famers.

That leaves eight players on my ballot. They are, in alphabetical order:

  • Roberto Alomar: I admittedly don't always appreciate greatness when it is right in front of my nose, and that was the case with Alomar. I knew he was a good player, but I didn't realize how great until being able to put his career in perspective five years after he retired, as this is his first year on the ballot. He played in 12 consecutive All-Star Games, won 10 Gold Gloves, and ranks 47th all-time in doubles (504), 41st in stolen bases (.474), and 53rd in hits (2,724). That's a Hall of Fame career.

  • Bert Blyleven: I have voted for Blyleven every since he has been on the ballot, and his percentage of votes has risen from 18 in 1998 to 63 last season. I have argued his case plenty of times in the past, and have nothing new to add. He has two more years on the ballot beyond this one, and it would be a shame if he gets shut out.

  • Andre Dawson: I have wavered on the Hawk throughout his nine years on the ballot. Some years, I see a Hall of Famer. Other years, I don't. In 2009, he looks like someone deserving of Cooperstown with eight Gold Gloves, eight All-Star Game appearances, 438 home runs, and 314 steals.

  • Barry Larkin: I will be curious to see how the 12-time All-Star fares in his first year on the ballot. Opinion seems to be split by the voters I've talked to, but it is hard to ignore a perennial All-Star and long-time face of the Reds' franchise who won nine Silver Sluggers and three Gold Gloves.

  • Edgar Martinez: There is a certain percentage of voters who believe a designated hitter should never gain entry into the Hall of Fame. We will find out if that percentage is large enough to keep Martinez out, as he appears on the ballot for the first time. The DH has been a position for 37 years now, which to my way of thinking makes it a legitimate, established rule, rather than a gimmick. Martinez won two American League batting titles, finished in the top five in on-base percentage 10 times, and had a career OPS of 933. To me, he's a definite Hall of Famer.

  • Don Mattingly: He is on the ballot for the 10th year, and I quickly dismissed his candidacy in each of the first nine with the thought that he was a good player who became canonized by virtue of spending his entire 14-year career with the Yankees. However, the beauty of the voting process is that a player can stay on the ballot up to 15 years if he gets at least five percent of the vote, and that gives voters a chance to gain more perspective. Donnie Baseball hit .300 seven times, and had three 30-homer seasons and five 100-RBI seasons when those plateaus were more difficult to reach. He also won nine Gold Gloves, something I haven't given much weight in the past. Considering he got only 12 percent of the vote last year, at least I can't be accused of jumping on the bandwagon.

  • Mark McGwire: I have discussed his candidacy in great detail in past years. I am not part of the steroids police, and I don't claim to know exactly what he put in his body. I do know his performance was worthy of the Hall of Fame, even if 78 percent of my peers disagreed last year.

  • Dave Parker: As I've mentioned in previous columns, my vote for Parker is greatly influenced from having grown up in the Pittsburgh area and watching him closely as the dominant player of the late 1970s. His career numbers might be short of a sure-fire Hall of Famer, but they aren't that far off.

---

The Dodgers have been awfully quiet this winter for a team coming off back-to-back appearances in the National League Championship Series, and playing in the one of the nation's largest markets. In fact, the only bit of news coming from the Dodgers concerning the on-field product has been that manager Joe Torre plans to put off his retirement by at least one season to sign a one-year contract extension for 2011.

Thus, it seems the high-profile and ugly divorce that owner Frank McCourt and his wife Jamie are going through has had an impact on what general manager Ned Colletti is able to do. Club president Dennis Mannion, though, denied that is the case in an interview with the Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin. "Neither Ned nor I have been asked by anyone to limit long-term liabilities," Mannion said. "Ned has demonstrated a fantastic ability to read the talent market. We made back-to-back NLCS appearances for the first time in three decades as a result of Ned's ability to make the right acquisitions at the right time. We want the same thing our fans want, a team that can compete for a world championship year in and year out, and we've been in that position for the last two seasons. We expect that to continue."

Yet the Dodgers have deferred more than $45 million in player salaries over the past two seasons, declined to get in the bidding for most top free agents, did not offer salary arbitration to any of their five free agents this winter, have all but abandoned the international free-agent market, spent the least amount of money on amateur draft bonuses in the last two years of any of the 30 major-league organizations, and laid off more than a dozen employees in the last year.

"I think it's imperative that, when you look at all those types of things added up, you can bunch a group of them as capital markets-based projects," Mannion said. "You can bunch a group as staffing. You can bunch yet another group in a very, very chaotic salary period for all four major sports. I think you have to look at the totality. You have to look at that in buckets, and then you have to look at the totality of what this economic disruption has done to the entire country. It's a factor for every team. Gold Glovers who lead off? They go. Career leaders in home runs for a franchise? They go. Star pitchers for a franchise? They go, and then they go get somebody. Or, a first baseman they let go and he goes and wins the World Series for the Yankees? You have to do what you have to do if you're a well-run operation. Teams that are well-oiled, well-run operations make very hard decisions, and sometimes it requires you to have restraint in how and when and where you spend your dollars."

---

The Dodgers aren't the only team with Los Angeles in its name that is having a lackluster offseason. The Angels have watched two of their key free agents, right-hander John Lackey and third baseman Chone Figgins, sign with American League powers following three straight AL West titles. Lackey got a five-year, $82.5 million contract from the Red Sox, and Figgins signed with the Mariners for four years and $36 million. The Angels refused to go past four years on Lackey, or three on Figgins.

"We're trying to conduct business in an objective manner," Angels GM Tony Reagins told the Los Angeles Times' Mike DiGiovanna. "We looked at the value we placed on any particular player, and when other clubs exceeded that value, we looked at alternatives."

The Angels are trying to keep their payroll close to last season's $113 million. They have agreed to a two-year, $11 milllion contract with free-agent reliever Fernando Rodney, and signed free-agent designated hitter Hideki Matsui to a one-year, $6 million contract. Reagins says his winter's work is not done, even if it means that it is becoming doubtful he will add any big-ticket free agents despite pleas from the fans. "We value our fans' opinions, but we feel very strongly that we will put a contending team on the field again, a team that will be in a position to go to the World Series," Reagins said.

---

MLB Rumors and Rumblings: The Phillies are in hot pursuit of free-agent relievers Danys Baez and Mike MacDougal. … The Pirates also have interest in Baez and MacDougal, along with fellow free-agent relievers Octavio Dotel and Kevin Gregg. … Free-agent outfielder Jason Bay appears to have no chance of topping the four-year, $65 million offer he received from the Mets, but is still hoping to sign the Mariners; returning to the Red Sox is his fallback option. … The Mets are considering pursuing free-agent left fielder Matt Holliday if Bay does not accept their offer soon.

John Perrotto is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see John's other articles. You can contact John by clicking here

76 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Rowen Bell

Can somebody explain to me what mainstream journalists have against Tim Raines? This morning's Chicago Tribune had the HoF ballot of several writers who felt that Dawson belonged in the HoF but his teammate Raines didn't. Now I'm flabbergasted to see that Perrotto feels the same way. I'm at a real loss here to understand this.

Dec 27, 2009 10:49 AM
rating: 18
 
ahemmer

I, too would like to know Perrotto's reasons behind picking Mattingly, Dawson, and Parker over Raines. Raines was better than all three of those.

Dec 27, 2009 10:54 AM
rating: 12
 
eighteen

And Edgar Martinez, too.

Dec 28, 2009 12:55 PM
rating: 0
 
EnderCN

I consider Raines a no brainer 1st ballot hall of fame player so it confuses me as well.

Dec 27, 2009 11:53 AM
rating: 9
 
Lyford

Yeah, count me among those who fail to understand how Andre Dawson could possibly be considered more HoF-worthy than Tim Raines.

Dec 27, 2009 15:17 PM
rating: 5
 
oira61

Tim Raines was suspended for cocaine use, which IMHO is a lot worse than steroids. Don't shoot the messenger, you asked for an explanation.

Dec 27, 2009 16:43 PM
rating: -3
 
rmorgan93

Under what circumstance is cocaine possibly worse for a baseball player to take than steroids?

Dec 27, 2009 17:59 PM
rating: 2
 
John from Bel Air

If he has to sit still for over 2 minutes

Dec 27, 2009 18:39 PM
rating: 4
 
Paul Andrew Burnett

. . . or say something interesting.

Dec 28, 2009 10:04 AM
rating: 0
 
Matt

A lot of people argue that using steroids sets a bad example for the youth. Following this line of thought, cocaine is a lot worse.

Dec 28, 2009 17:21 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Cheating or abusing a wife is a lot worse, role model wise, yet that doesn't come up in HoF character discussion at all.

Dec 28, 2009 19:54 PM
rating: 2
 
Lyford

It may be your opinion that cocaine is a lot worse than steroids, but cocaine use hasn't kept anyone else of the Hall of Fame, has it? It sure didn't keep Molitor out...

Dec 27, 2009 18:22 PM
rating: 5
 
saigonsam

How many ball players from the early 1900's used cocaine? The same number who drank Dr. Pepper and Coca Cola i guess.

Dec 29, 2009 15:47 PM
rating: 0
 
R.A.Wagman

John - Nothing against the players you have chosen, as they were all wonderful players and I am an advocate of a "big" hall. I am also a participating member in the Hall of Merit project at baseball think factory and would like to advocate for two players who were near-unanimous selections by our electorate as being among the 237 most meritorious baseball players of all time (who would be HOF eligible, excluding morality bans): Tim Raines and Alan Trammell.
I will post their plaques to highlight their particular cases

Dec 27, 2009 10:52 AM
rating: 10
 
R.A.Wagman

Tim Raines – 2008 – LF/CF/DH
15.4 seasons with: Montreal (NL) 1979-90, 2001; Chicago (AL) 1991-95; New York (AL) 1996-98; Oakland (AL) 1999; Baltimore (AL) 2001; Florida (NL) 2002
Cap: Montreal Expos (NL)
The most exciting and best left fielder in the National League during the 1980s, “Rock” combined spectacular speed with an exceptional ability to get on base to become one of baseball’s greatest ever run scorers (including 6 seasons with over 100 runs scored and 1,571 in his career). One of only a handful of men to steal 800 bases (808) he left the game with the highest SB success rate on over 300 attempts in ML history (84.7%), the right-handed leadoff hitter also stole 70 or more bases 6 times (1981-1986) with a high of 90 in 1983. At bat, he hit over .300 five times, walked 1,330 times in his career and had a OBP over .400 4 times (.385 career). Blessed with great range in the outfield, Raines led left fielders 3 times in assists, twice each in putouts and double plays and once in games (he also topped right fielders once in games). A member of three division-winners (1981, 1993, 1997) and two pennant-winners (the World Champions of 1996 and 1998). ML-AS MVP (1987); batted .301 in league championship series’, his 1993 batting line of .444/.483/.556 was his best at that level. NL Silver Slugger-OF (1986). Four-time STATS, Inc. NL Outfielder (1981, 1983, 1986-87). Three-time Win Shares NL MVP (1985-87). Two-time Win Shares NL Silver Slugger Award (1985-86). Win Shares NL Gold Glove Award (1984). Seven-time All-Star (1981-87). NL leader for BA (1986), OBP (1986), PA (1982-83), R (1983, 1987), 2B (1984), SB (1981-84), TOB (1983-84, 1986) and OWP (1986). Retired with the Expos’ single-season records for PA (731 in 1982) R (133 in 1983) and 3B (13 in 1985), as well as the career records for R (947), 1B (1,163), 3B (82), BB (793), SB (635), BtRuns (266), BtWins (26.0), TOB (2,440) and IBB (118).

Dec 27, 2009 10:52 AM
rating: 9
 
R.A.Wagman

Alan Trammell - 2002 – SS
14. 8 seasons with: Detroit (AL) 1977-96
Cap: Detroit Tigers (AL)
The greatest shortstop in Tigers franchise history, “Tram” was Hall of Meriter Lou Whitaker’s double play partner for a major league record 1,918 games (from 1978 to 1995). A splendid batsman, the right-handed Trammell batted .300 or more 7 times in a career noted for hitting well above the norms of his positional peers, putting up a lifetime mark of .285 (he also hit 20 or more homers twice and scored 100 or more runs 3 times). Inarguably, 1987 was his finest season when he put up the following numbers: a 155 OPS+, .402 OBP, .551 SLG, 205 hits, 28 home runs, 105 RBI, 109 runs scored and a .343 BA (including a September when he hit .416 with 6 home runs and 17 RBI). Very steady on defense, he was highly regarded for his soft hands, good range and ability to turn the double play (he led the AL once in assists). A member of one division leader (1987) as well as the World Champions of 1984 (his two home runs and .450 BA helped propel the Bengals to a 5-game series victory that October). ML-WS MVP (1984). Three-time AL Silver Slugger Award-SS (1987-90). Four-time AL Gold Glove Award winner (1980-81, 1983-84). Three-time STATS, Inc. AL Shortstop (1987-88, 1990). Win Shares AL MVP (1987). Win Shares AL Silver Slugger Award (1987). Win Shares AL Gold Glove Award winner (1981). Six-time All-Star (1980, 1984-85, 1987-88, 1990). AL leader for Sac. Hits (1981, 1983). Retired with the Tigers’ franchise career record for Power/Speed Number (207.4).

Dec 27, 2009 10:53 AM
rating: 8
 
R.A.Wagman

If you have the time and the inclination, I would to hear your opinion in more detail about either, or preferably both, of the above players.

Dec 27, 2009 10:54 AM
rating: 1
 
eddy57

Thank you, Rowen Bell, ahemmer, EnderCN, and R.A. Wagman. I don't understand why Baseball Prospectus writers do not rely more on BP research. These two should be on--Raines, no doubt about it--and no way that Mattingly or Parker should be on the ballot, though go ahead if you have slots. And the Chicago sportswriters are criminal for not helping Raines. If the stat heads can't move him up the list, with his shoo-in case, and the local sportswriters are not going to, who will prevent this obvious injustice?

Dec 27, 2009 12:05 PM
rating: 7
 
pbconnection

I was about to post something about Raines and Trammell but R.A.Wagman beat me to it. As many others have noted, Raines is an especially easy call. His work on those '80s Montreal teams is outstanding, and the AL portion of his career props up his aggregate numbers. This seems like it should appeal to the HOF voters, but that hasn't been the case. What else do you want this guy to do? Kill a yak from 200 yards away...with mind bullets?

One thing I'd like to add: Edgar Martinez and Mattingly are in, but no McGriff? Really, Mr. Perrotto? Mattingly was the superior defender, and Martinez the superior hitter, but if you're talking about the virtues of doing *both* of: playing the field (until he became a "sluggardly slugger" in his 30s - copyright Steven Goldman) and working productive ABs, then you have to put McGriff alongside those two - or eliminate all three from earning votes.

Side note: On almost any other baseball website, I'd be sure to find impassioned defenses of Jack Morris and Lee Smith in the comments area. Not here. Thanks to the rest of the readership for being AWESOME. *golf clap*

Dec 28, 2009 07:42 AM
rating: 3
 
smallflowers

Dude, you are a part of the Tim Raines problem! The man deserves to be in the hall.

Wasn't there a pretty great BP argument for his inclusion? Yup.
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=8377

Dec 27, 2009 12:05 PM
rating: 13
 
halos17

Totally agree with the sentiment here. Raines = HOF'er

Dec 27, 2009 12:09 PM
rating: 6
 
SeanDoyle

Thanks very much for the insight into your ballot John, I always enjoy your column. I wish more HOF voters were as thoughtful and transparent as you.

Dec 27, 2009 13:01 PM
rating: 1
 
jtwalsh

Player H Ave/OBP/SLG 2B/3B/HR SB
Raines 2605 294/.385/.425, 430/113/170 808
Mattingly 2153 307/.358/.471, 442/20/222 14
Dawson 2774 279/.323/.482, 503/98/438 314
Parker 2712 290/.339/.471, 526/75/339 154
Martinez 2247 312/.418/.515, 514/15/309 49

I am actually stunned that John has left Raines off is ballot. Raines is 5th in career stolen bases. His other numbers stacks up with the group included on John's ballot. This type of comparison shows that Mattingly belongs in the Hall of the Very Good, but he does not stack up with the rest of this crew (and excepting Raines none of the rest of the crew is a sure fire hall of famer). I would have expected a ballot like this from Phil Rogers, but not BP's own.

Dec 27, 2009 13:39 PM
rating: 3
 
JohnnyB

Why so dismissive of Raines? And you choose Mattingly. Wow -- how does something like that happen at BP

Dec 27, 2009 14:43 PM
rating: 6
 
gregorybfoley

Maybe using some rate statistics and WARP totals to backup your ballot instead of old-fashioned hit, home run and stolen base totals would help. If you substantiated your ballot with meaningful stats then you wouldn't have to read all these comments.

Dec 27, 2009 14:59 PM
rating: 2
 
havens


I'm all for different opinions on the site, but I stopped reading after Raines was "dismissed" and Don Mattingly made the next cut.

Dec 27, 2009 15:08 PM
rating: 4
 
havens

" I have wavered on the Hawk throughout his nine years on the ballot. Some years, I see a Hall of Famer. Other years, I don't. In 2009, he looks like someone deserving of Cooperstown with eight Gold Gloves, eight All-Star Game appearances, 438 home runs, and 314 steals."

Great analysis. Please, tell me more about how Dawson "feels" to you this year.

Dec 27, 2009 15:11 PM
rating: 3
 
eighteen

I thought the same thing. If you're wavering back and forth like this, it's because you're not using objective information.

Dec 28, 2009 13:01 PM
rating: 1
 
WaldoInSC

...and while you're at it, tell us how a .323 OBP (Dawson) and a .339 OBP (Parker) feels like a Hall of Famer.

Just for perspective, here are some notables who accumulated OBP higher than .323 this year: Clete Thomas, Chris Getz, Gerardo Parra, Alex Gordon, Felix Pie, Freddy Sanchez and, well, you get the picture.

Dec 29, 2009 19:09 PM
rating: 0
 
R.A.Wagman

Hall of Fame ballots don't need to have snarky responses, as they really don't help the discussion either.
All that being said, it would be great if Mr. Perrotto would dig a little deeper especially regarding Raines.

Dec 27, 2009 15:24 PM
rating: 2
 
buddaley

I will add my voice about Raines. He was an elite player and not in the least borderline.

As a lifetime Yankee fan since the 1950s, I might be biased in favor of Mattingly, but cannot be that irrational. He was a fine player for a short time and had his career continued for more years at the quality of his peak he would have certainly been a solid candidate. But as is, he is not really even close. In fact I have often argued against Dale Murphy who I agree does not belong but who has a slightly better case than Mattingly.

I do not understand the logic behind your picks. While I agree with some, it seems to me that the listing of awards and some very traditional stats as the evidence with no effort to consider baselines or context is odd for a BP writer.

Dec 27, 2009 17:48 PM
rating: 3
 
Ozdoltorps

This sounds like I'm over reacting, but voting for Mattingly over Raines makes it hard to take anything else he writes seriously.

Dec 27, 2009 18:26 PM
rating: 5
 
AdamSt

To each his own on some of the borderline candidates -- Dawson, Parker, Mattingly, Trammell, and McGriff. But I echo the thought above -- how can someone who writes for BP look at Tim Raines and not put him in. He has a career OPS+ of 123, better than Parker and Dawson and close to Mattingly. He's as good a hitter as those guys plus you may recall he stole a couple of bases. Raines was one of the dominant players of the 80s.

The "downside" to Raines is that he played in the shadow of Ricky Henderson and to some degree Dawson. But Henderson accomplishments don't lessen what Raines has done. I hope you reconsider your ballot if it isn't final.

Dec 27, 2009 19:04 PM
rating: 4
 
sgturner65

I agree that Raines suffered from being in the shadow of Henderson. IMO he is the second greatest leadoff hitter of all time and happened to play at the same time the greatest leadoff hitter of all time played.

Dec 28, 2009 12:52 PM
rating: 0
 
elidman

totally agree, this inexplicable exclusion of raines just blows my mind ... i sort of feel the same way about trammel. unless mr. perrotto is taking an unspecified stand against long-since-reformed recreational drug users , this summary dismissal suddenly casts his reporting in a different light ...

Dec 27, 2009 19:07 PM
rating: 0
 
BobbyRoberto
(907)

I have to commend you for having Bert Blyleven on your ballot, but I also have to agree with most of the posters above that leaving Raines off your ballot is ridiculous.

R.A.Wagman showed the numbers, but I'll just add a few more:

Tim Raines got on base more times than Tony Gwynn.
Tim Raines scored more runs than Tony Gwynn.
Tim Raines had more runs+RBI than Tony Gwynn.

And Gwynn was a slam-dunk, first-ballot Hall of Famer (97.6% of the vote).

Mattingly played 14 seasons. I don't see how he's even in the conversation. Raines got on base 1,000 more times than Mattingly and scored 500 more runs.

Also, I'm a huge Pittsburgh Pirates fan, going back to the We R Fam-A-Lee Pirates of 1979, so I'm a big fan of Dave Parker, but there's no way he should be in the Hall of Fame ahead of Tim Raines.

Dec 27, 2009 19:27 PM
rating: 2
 
BobbyRoberto
(907)

Drug use has been mentioned above, but that can't be the reason for leaving Raines off the ballot if Parker is on it. Parker had just as high profile drug problems as Raines. The baseball drug trials were held in Pittsburgh and Parker was one of seven players who were suspended for a full season. They avoided the suspensions by agreeing to donate a small percentage of their 1986 salaries to a drug program and do community service work.

Dec 27, 2009 19:32 PM
rating: 2
 
Dave Holgado

Four points:

1. Count me as another who cannot fathom how Raines was left off of a HOF ballot which includes 8 players. Indeed, Raines may have a better case than all those on John's ballot except Blyleven and Big Mac. Taking the clearly HOF-worthy Alomar as an example, Raines had roughly the same OPS over his career, had just 120 less hits (with 300 more walks), and stole nearly twice as many bases at a significantly better (and historically high) success rate. The difference in defensive value that might have existed between the two simply does not close that gap. And as I said, Alomar himself is a no brainer for the Hall. Again, that's how bad the Raines omission is.

2. Count me also among the big tenters. While I agree with others that such biased measures as gold glove and all-star game appearance tallies ought not be the foundation for any proper Hall case, I have no quibbles with any of the names on John's ballot, save for Dave Parker (which is utter nonsense, I'm sorry John, though even you seem to acknowledge this). I'd add Trammell, too. Dawson is fairly borderline with that OBP, but a reasonable case can be made for him, at least.

3. On a related note, I am a lifelong Yankee fan (one whose favorite player is the guy I'm about to defend), so excuse me all if this comes off as irrational as a vote for Dave Parker. But... I still think that objectively speaking, Don Mattingly should be enshrined. Not on his career totals, perhaps, but rather on the Koufax/Puckett argument. It is not often enough mentioned that Mattingly's descent from a four-year peak when he was the consensus best player in the game -- as voted by his *fellow players*, mind you -- to the few years that followed when he was just "very good," to the next several years of decline, to out of baseball in his early 30's, stemmed directly from a severe back injury in 1988 from which he never fully recovered. That he faded away rather than burned out (as both Koufax and Puckett did, playing to peak or near peak level until their last games) does not speak to any difference between the ultimate debilitating nature of their respective injuries, but only to how quickly these injuries manifested. Koufax is in another class, I'll admit. But compare Mattingly to Puckett. That's his best Hall case, and it's one I'll argue until he gives his induction speech.

4. All the comments which take BP to task for having John write for the site when he'a submitting a HOF ballot which looks like this seem to miss the point of why John is here in the first place. He is a baseball *reporter*. Not an analyst, not a statistician, not the inventor of a scarily accurate prediction model, and most of all, not Jay Jaffe. A reporter. And I for one feel that his reporting has been an invaluable addition to this site. Straight ahead baseball reporting is something that was rarely found here in the past, and John's been doing it and doing it quite well (at Baseball America and elsewhere) for close to 30 years. Joe Sheehan has made the argument before (as have others) that the voting for both the HOF and end-of-season awards is fundamentally flawed based on who is doing the voting (reporters, who -- as a breed -- don't tend to appreciate that the plural of "anecdote" is not "data"). And John's ballot is perhaps another data point for that argument. But it's not a reason to criticize either this site or the wonderful reporting job he's been doing for it.

Dec 27, 2009 21:01 PM
rating: 15
 
jtwalsh

holgado,

Regarding your 3rd point. If we are invoking the Puckett rule for Mattingly, I would like to bring up a forgotten modern player who may deserve a place in the HOF, but was one and done with the voters:
Player H Ave/OBP/SLG 2B/3B/HR SB
Albert Belle 1726 295/.369/.564, 389/21/381 88
Mattingly 2153 307/.358/.471, 442/20/222 14

Belle totals were produced over 10 full seasons and a couple cups of coffee. Besides, I think Albert was more "feared" in his era, than Jim Rice was in the 70s. If we are going to invoke the Puckett rule for Mattingly, how do we look back and justify the dismissal of Belle?

Dec 28, 2009 07:11 AM
rating: 3
 
Dave Holgado

A very fair point. Though I'd like to see those triple slash stats adjusted for era and ballpark. According to baseball-reference, Mattingly's career OPS+ is 127, and Belle's is 143. Still an edge for Joey, but much closer than meets the eye. I would argue that clear edge in fielding value closes the gap on this difference.

But Belle's accomplishments are still impressive (and perhaps hall-worthy) both from a JAWS perspective as well as the more traditional measures on which HOF voters often rely. Belle had 5 all-star appearances and 5 top 10 MVP finishes, whereas Mattingly had 6 and 4, respectively. And I believe JAWS has them in what is roughly a dead heat, with Mattingly having had the slightly longer career, but Belle the slightly better peak.

Then you've got the issue of "intangibles," which I think we all agree ought not be the primary basis for inclusion on a HOF ballot, but which I also think it is hard to simply wave away in extreme cases. A comparison of Mattingly and Belle seems just such a case. I mean, it's got to be at least somewhat relevant that Mattingly was his team captain, a clubhouse leader, generally viewed as a stand-up guy with few if any off-field problems (his recent marital troubles to the contrary). As Bill James described him: "100 percent ballplayer, zero percent bullsh*t." Whereas Belle was... well... not any of those things. Misunderstood and mistreated by both fans and media, perhaps, but he has to own *some* of that.

In any event, these "intangibles" should arguably only be a consideration in close cases. They shouldn't keep Bonds out (leaving aside the steroids issue), nor should they allow Rizzuto in. But Belle and Mattingly are both close cases, and for me, the intangibles may tip the balance in opposite directions for them. As James has predicted, Mattingly will likely get in on a vets ballot many years from now, in part no doubt to his reputation and relationship with the types of folks who comprise the vet committee (yet another intangible). Belle will not be so lucky.

Dec 28, 2009 14:42 PM
rating: 0
 
Rowen Bell

I agree with your point #4. I think John adds a lot to this site, and I've told him so in the past. I am, however, surprised that a "reporter" who is "progressive" enough to voluntarily associate himself with BP would nonetheless also be so "traditional" that he values the likes of Mattingly and Dawson over Raines.

Dec 28, 2009 07:35 AM
rating: 1
 
Corkedbat

Not sure what your considerations were in the 2d round of cuts but Dale Murphy and even more so, Harold Baines, could not have been that easily axed. Watching Baines play, that dude just knew how to get those clutch hits. Sure he pulled the ball mightily, but it was so fun watching that man just put the ball where he wanted it to go later on... usually unexpectedly, and sometimes right down the left field line. If he had wheels he would have had more than 49 triples in his career. His hit totals are good. His strike outs were low for the large number of ABs he had. He seemed to get better with age like a good wine and those smarts just helped him get the job done in a very reliable way. A tough out if I ever saw one. I'd love to see that guy make it in.

Dec 27, 2009 21:12 PM
rating: -1
 
Rider11

Thank you John for posting your ballot and your reasoning. I, too, would ask you to reconsider Raines. Personally, I believe that voters should be allowed room for "sentimental" votes like yours for Parker (or someone else might for Mattingly or Dawson, who seem to need something sentimental to push their borderline numbers towards the "yes" vote). However, I think perhaps you and some other voters make the mistake of looking at each player individually and then not considering what the collective ballot looks like. Raines is clearly numerically superior to almost every player on the ballot, as others have pointed out, and matches up favorably with most current Hall of Famers. While I might be able to rationalize a sentimental vote or two, I'm not sure how I can rationalize the complete dismissal of Raines as a cost for that freedom.

Dec 27, 2009 23:00 PM
rating: 1
 
Nick Smith

It's pretty funny/sad that the only BP writer who wouldn't vote for Raines is the one who actually has a HoF vote. Sit tight Tim, just nine more years til Christina gets a ballot!

Dec 27, 2009 23:02 PM
rating: 2
 
mmandelker

This is a joke, right?

Dec 27, 2009 23:48 PM
rating: -3
 
greenengineer

I subscribed to BP to read something other than the ignorant ramblings of sportswriters. When they hand out the BWAA cards do they take away your ability for critical thinking?

Raines!

No Parker! No Mattingly!

This is not even close.

Dec 28, 2009 05:17 AM
rating: 0
 
victor19nyc

I agree, I am a little disappointed in this list. I would add Dawson to the 'No' group as well. Like Parker, he had some good seasons but being one of the best for a long time does not make him one of the best of all time.

One thing I've always wondered about Mattingly's candidacy: would people even be talking about him to such a degree if he played for someone other than the Yankees? He had a cluster of amazing seasons then was no better than Mark Grace.

Finally, I appreciate the honesty regarding McGwire. I am curious to see how voters will act when Bonds is eligible because Bonds and McGwire are in the same boat. Clemens's situation is murky as well. Even if you believe these guys all took PEDs they were arguably HoF caliber before their years of suspected use.

Dec 30, 2009 06:58 AM
rating: 0
 
Rob_in_CT

Woah. Mattingly yes but Raines no? That makes no sense whatsoever.

Dec 28, 2009 06:38 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Larkin gets a vote for being the face of the Reds, but Trammell and Murphy don't for being the face of theirs?

That being said, I'm a big Hawk fan... which always makes these HoF discussions kinda sad for me. I know he has a horrid OBP and defensive metrics have him all over the map. Then again, it seems every so often, you get a newer metric like wOBA and the like that casts a player (not necessarily Dawson, though) in a different light.

Sentimentality-wise, I loved his blank check story and the way he played through pain. It's funny how people use character to discredit steroid users, or to hold a grudge against a Rice yet rarely cite a player's good character as an additional reason for induction.

To me at least, there's enough argument for Dawson that it comes down to whether the HoF is for the elite players only? If Dawson were elected, I and others would be pretty happy, and I don't think it'd dilute/tarnish the HoF in the slightest.

Then again, I also thought Ryne Sandberg would get in on his first ballot...

Dec 28, 2009 07:06 AM
rating: 1
 
Patrick

I don't intend this to be snarky at all, but what kind of information makes you change your mind about a player? Is it from being persuaded by other voters/writers? New metrics? The player's career has been over for more than five years and the raw data is not going to change, so what are the subjective measures that cause you to reconsider?

Dec 28, 2009 07:27 AM
rating: 2
 
Richard Bergstrom

The "Kirby Puckett" rule should make things pretty interesting once Andruw Jones's career is over with.

Also note that Puckett got a lot of brownie points for character on the field, but turned out to be a bit of a douche off the field. Also some, including Bill James, suggest that Puckett did steroids.

http://www.yardbarker.com/author/article_external/228573


So perhaps on-the-field character should not count.

Of course, I get a bit hypocritical because I suggested earlier that Dawson's character should factor into his HoF decision.

Dec 28, 2009 08:31 AM
rating: -1
 
Rider11

To be fair, James' "accusation" is very tongue-in-cheek, more a comment on how everyone assumes that a spike in home runs after an off-year "must" mean steroids. He playfully accuses Gary Gaetti in the same sentence because Gaetti "went bald and has acne."

Dec 30, 2009 08:14 AM
rating: 1
 
mafrth77

As for the Puckett/Koufax rule, i dont think Mattingly's peak was anywhere near Koufax, even if you adjust for 1960's Dodger's Stadium, and I'm of the mind that Kirby Puckett's induction was a mistake.

Mattingly peak was very short, was all that great for a 1B if you look at his triple slash stats and arguing a first baseman belongs because of his glove is a tough sell.

Dec 28, 2009 08:43 AM
rating: 0
 
mafrth77

Also Puckett's and Koufax's career, unlike Mattingly, ended due to medical reasons.

Dec 28, 2009 08:49 AM
rating: -2
 
bhalpern

That's technically true, but Mattingly played the latter part of his career hampered by chronic back pain. I don't think that's any reason to put him in the hall but it was a definite contributing factor to his inability to maintain his high level of performance after the 80's.

Dec 28, 2009 09:10 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

If Kerry Wood didn't have Tommy John surgery and other arm problems, he'd have remained a starter and gotten 3000 strikeouts. You could make that same kind of argument with a number of great players/pitchers who flamed out after a hot start.

Health is a skill, and "Puckett Rules" should be an exception, not a rule.

Dec 28, 2009 13:23 PM
rating: 0
 
fairacres

"Health is a skill"????

Please.

Hitting a baseball well is a skill. A skill is something that is developed, improved, honed over time.

Health is largely a function of chance -- both in terms of genes, and in terms of random events.

I don't think Tony Conigliaro or many other players whose careers were siginficantly and negatively impacted by major injuries or illness would agree that health is a skill.

Staying in good physical shape is a skill, but many baseball injuries are the result of (bad) luck.

Dec 29, 2009 15:54 PM
rating: -1
 
Richard Bergstrom

Yes, health is a skill.

Though bad luck can cause an injury, the ability to recover from injuries and to stay strong physically and mentally throughout a season or career is a trait found more in some players than in others. The ability to stay in shape and retain your skills as you move past your prime is also a skill. There are concepts about "old players skills" who do little but mash, having little defensive acumen or speed. The idea is that, since they aren't all around physically skilled, that they are more prone to deteriorate quicker. Pitchers call it stamina, the ability to either recover between bullpen outings or throw deep into ballgames and retain effectiveness for the next game. It takes rookie minor leaguers some time to adjust from their high school/college workloads to a full minor league (and then major league season). Part of the idea behind using steroids, from what I understand, is that they aid in recovery.

Larkin did not have health as a skill, as anyone who ever drafted him for their fantasy roster should know. One could also say Chipper Jones, J.D. Drew, Aramis Ramirez etc also have problems staying healthy.

Puckett did get unlucky with glaucoma though.

Dec 29, 2009 21:42 PM
rating: 1
 
bmarinko

Lets hope the 'Puckett Rule' ends with Puckett. Unless a player has a very high peak (like Koufax), their is no way they should be inducted based on what they might have done. A bunch of posts back someone mentioned Albert Belle. I'm a huge Indians fan and Belle got robbed of an MVP award, but their is no way he should be in the hall. He simply did not play long enough and build up the stats to be considered one of the elite baseball players of all time.

Dec 28, 2009 09:41 AM
rating: 2
 
Dave Holgado

To be clear, in my mind the Puckett/Koufax argument is not about what the player "might have done." It's simply an acknowledgment that in some cases, a player's career line might not be the best reflection of his importance to the history of the sport. Where a peak is so impressive (and in response to another's comment above, I think park and era adjustments show just how impressive Mattingly's 1984-1987 was), I think the reason why it was or was not sustained over the remainder of a player's career seems just as important as whether it was sustained -- I'm not saying ignore the latter, I'm saying if you consider the latter, how can the former not be part of the discussion?

The Kerry Wood example above is a bit of a straw man. Had the first five years of Kerry Wood's career looked like that of Dwight Gooden (that is, not merely flashes of dominance and impressive K totals while never having more than 14 W's or lower than a 3.20 ERA in a season; but rather, utter dominance over an entire league for a 3-4 year stretch -- and yes, I'm probably overstating Gooden's case here), then we'd be talking about a completely different career, and my answer would be yes, that deserves at least some Hall consideration.

Perhaps what this really comes down to is what nearly all HOF candidacy arguments come down to: a fundamental difference in our philosophies about what the Hall of Fame should be. I am in complete agreement that it should not be the "Hall of Very Good." But for just this reason, I think that where a player is widely recognized -- for even as short as a few years -- as one of a handful of the very best, if not *the* best, players in the entire game, then that is an accomplishment which deserves to be remembered, and yes, honored. If this period is followed by many years of decline/mediocrity, it is fair for that to affect one's overall view of the player. However, if we're going to consider it, then we should not do so in a vaccum. We ought to consider as well *why* the player fell from the ranks of the league's best players, and whether it was something over which he had control. Bad work habits/conditioning? Off-field problems? Prior great stats proven to be steroid-fueled illusion? Failure to adjust to the league's adjustment to him? In each case, the player bears some responsibility for his own decline, and it seems fair to charge him with similar responsibility for the effect this ultimately has on his career line. But Mattingly's fluke back injury, to me, is much more similar to Puckett's glaucoma or Koufax's arm falling off.

For this reason, I'll take a Mattingly, or even a Doc Gooden, for my Hall of Fame over Rafael Palmeiro or Robin Ventura any day of the week. Yet I don't begrudge others for seeing it the opposite way. Since there's never been any established criteria for enshrinement, ultimately both opinions are unimpeachable.

Dec 28, 2009 15:15 PM
rating: 0
 
Dave Holgado

Btw, given the contrasting treatment I suggest between players whose declines can be attributed to factors beyond their control and those whose declines were their own fault, perhaps Doc Gooden is not the best example for me to cite. :-)

Dec 28, 2009 15:21 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Kerry Wood is a straw man argument, but in a sense similar to Mattingly's bad back hampers his late career performance. Why would some players get credit for lost opportunities due to injury and others don't?

As far as the Hall of Very Good, I agree in concept, but "widely recognized" is a bit dangerous depending on how the mainstream identifies things. Go back a few years ago, and Alfonso Soriano was "widely recognized" as one of the best players in the game based on his 40/40 seasons. A few years before that and Nomar Garciaparra was a sure-fire Hall of Famer. Does Nomar get credit for his injuries too?

Something to remember is that many players, even if they are not Hall of Famers, often leave some impression in the Hall of Fame because of a special accomplishment like a World Series home run, a no-hitter, etc.

Dec 28, 2009 16:00 PM
rating: 0
 
RallyKiller

Each person is entitled to his/her opinion, but it's disheartening when an informative website proffers a seasoned reporter who can't exhibit the objective ability to distinguish clearly between individuals in this group of HoF candidates. I wholeheartedly agree with all those readers who support Raines.

IMO, Blyleven and Alomar certainly belong. I would also countenance Trammell and Larkin, two standouts at shortstop. And I do agree with the writer that ground should be broken with the admission of Edgar Martinez, reasoning that DH is a legal position and the practitioners should be judged only on their offensive contributions, which is all their position requires of them.

Dec 28, 2009 10:24 AM
rating: 3
 
BP staff member perrotto
BP staff

OK. OK. You've made your point on Raines. I likely missed the boat on Raines and I will certainly looki at him in a different light next year. As far as my wavering on Dawson, it's part of the evolution of having more time to look at candidate. He is a guy I truly am split on. I've gone back and forth on him for nine years and I wish I had a concrete why. Sometimes, voting comes down for more than just a mathematical equation, though. Human feelings are involved, too.

Dec 28, 2009 13:52 PM
 
R.A.Wagman

Thank you - it certainly seems like you'll have another chance to truly reconsider him next year anyway - you have not been alone in under-valuing Raines.

Dec 28, 2009 16:05 PM
rating: 0
 
Ozdoltorps

Awesome!

Dec 29, 2009 06:39 AM
rating: 0
 
Rider11

Thanks for the reconsideration, John. As I mentioned, I don't have a problem with "sentimental" votes on borderline players - if 3/4 of the voters have the same sentiment, well then, by gum, that's a Hall of Famer. But I intensely dislike the writers who defend their sentiment to the nth degree while not questioning their LACK of sentiment for less sexy players (not necessarily you, but the idiots who jump up and down about Jack Morris being a shoo-in while completely dismissing Blyleven, or gush over Dale Murphy while going high-and-mighty on McGwire). You're clearly open-minded enough to openly vote for McGwire (thank you!), and I think when you look at the numbers next year you'll see that Raines, like Blyleven, actually RAISES the standards of the Hall a bit.

Dec 30, 2009 08:00 AM
rating: 2
 
BurrRutledge

Thanks for reconsidering, John. I think most reasonable people understand that you have earned your ballot for the HoF, and it's your vote to cast.

In that regard, keeping an open mind about future votes for players left off your ballot this year is admirable.

From your list, Raines is truly an oversight that needs to be corrected. As others have demonstrated through his traditional, advanced, and analytic career stats, he definitely deserves his place among the best ever to play the game.

Please also take a closer look at Trammell next year. I think you'll find he also deserves to be enshrined.

As to some of the other borderline candidates who made your ballot this year, that's your call. And you deserve it to make the call as you see fit. Raines and Trammell would be good additions next year.

Best regards, and happy New Year!

Dec 30, 2009 12:52 PM
rating: 0
 
wbarath

I don't see how Edgar Martinez gets in. Even if DH is a real position, obviously all he has to support him is offense. There is no way a DH is more valuable than a good hitting but average fielding 1B or OF, and 300 some home runs wouldn't be enough to get such a 1B or OF in. Compare him to Dawson, with 400 some homers plus Gold Gloves and SBs.

Dec 28, 2009 17:51 PM
rating: -2
 
mafrth77

Martinez wasn't just a good hitter, he was close to top thirty all-time by some metrics, and there is over a 90(!) point spread in OBP between him and Dawson. Martinez also played 600 + games at 1B/3B.

Dec 28, 2009 18:32 PM
rating: 3
 
BurrRutledge

According to Jay Jaffe's analysis, Martinez's score, admittedly all from his bat, is still better than the average HoF first baseman's JAWS score (which looks at career and peak WARP3 scores).

Compared to the enshrined third basemen, Martinez falls just short of the average HoFamer, primarily because of his defensive shortcomings. However, he still ranks better than many third basemen in the Hall...

Dec 30, 2009 13:19 PM
rating: 0
 
Rider11

Edgar Martinez did not "choose" to play DH. Paul Molitor is in the HOF largely because of his years as a DH (without them, he is not a HOFer), and if we play by these rules, we should revisit Dave Winfield, Reggie Jackson, etc., and take away their DH years. DH is a real position, just like relief pitcher. If he were in the NL or another era, Martinez would have simply been a poor defensive third baseman or first baseman - but how bad? We don't know. Would he have been worse than Frank Thomas, who should have been a DH for even longer? (Check out their fielding stats - Edgar had about 600 games fielding to Thomas' 900+, and Thomas cost his teams quite a bit in defense).

Dec 30, 2009 08:06 AM
rating: 1
 
Dave Holgado

I agree wholeheartedly. I always had the sense that Edgar could have played a reasonable 3B, and certainly a passable 1B if necessary, but that the decision was made by his managers (particularly during the Tino years) that it would be best to take advantage of the DH rule and ensure that one of their very best offensive weapons would not be compromised by the fatigue and risk of injury that come with playing the field.

People also forget that Edgar not only got a late start to his career, but an *undeservedly* late one.

http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/M/Edgar-Martinez.shtml

He posted the following lines at AAA Calgary:

Age 24 (1987): .329/.434/.473 (438 AB)
Age 25 (1988): .363/.467/.517 (331 AB)
Age 26 (1989): .345/.457/.522 (113 AB)

But he was "blocked" at 3B by Jim Presley, who -- despite being just a year older, posted the following MLB lines in those years:

1987: .247/.296/.433
1988: .230/.280/.355
1989: .236/.275/.385

Obviously we'd need to MLE Edgar's lines for a true comparison, but I still don't think it would be close. The only way this could have been justified would be if Presley were a gold glove caliber at 3B, and/or Edgar were literally unplayable there. And their career statistics (imperfect indicators though they may be) suggest that neither was the case (Presley had a lifetime fielding pct. of .949 and RF/9 of 2.70 in 911 G, while Edgar had a fielding pct. of .946 and RF/9 of 2.66 in 563 G). That is just criminal.

Alvin Davis was a more legitimate obstacle at 1B during these years. And I suppose Ken Phelps at DH in '87 and the first half of '88 (before he was traded to the Yankees) was defensible as well. But Steve Balboni and Jeff Leonard proceeded to soak up the rest of those DH at-bats in 1988-89. So we're talking about three years of Edgar's prime which were lost to poor roster management. This, too, should be kept in mind when making arguments based on his career line.

Dec 30, 2009 10:47 AM
rating: 1
 
Patrick M

John,

I'm with you on Alomar, Blyleven, Larkin, and McGwire.

Dawson and Martinez are borderline candidates; I have not completely sorted out where I fall with them. (If Martinez had shown any competence at all with the leather, his would be an easy choice. He is still a better choice than Jim Rice, but we should not set the bar based on the "mistakes".)

I just cannot agree with you on Mattingly and Parker. I guess that if Jim Rice is a HOFer than Parker should be too, but I still maintain tha Rice was a terrible pick.

And like so many above, I am very, very puzzled that you left out Raines. Do you really, truly believe that it was better to have Mattingly, Parker, and TWO UNUSED SLOTS on your ballot than to include Raines? Raines was a phenomenal ballplayer; the only thing keeping people from realizing that is that he had the misfortune to be in Rickey's shadow.

My own ballot, if I had one, in alpha order:

Alomar
Blyleven
Larkin
Martinez
McGwire
Raines
Smith
Trammell

Guys who miss the cut, but whom I could possibly consider adding: Dawson, McGriff

Dec 29, 2009 08:33 AM
rating: 2
 
ScottyB

A note on the Dodger offseason. The divorce is clearly hampering the finances, but even without that, McCourt was BY FAR the most highly leveraged owner in MLB (hence all the deferred contracts, borrowed capital, etc.). The Dodgers were precaiously financed to begin with and the divorce may just break them.

Dec 29, 2009 12:03 PM
rating: 0
 
Worthing

Phew, now we don't have to start FJP.

Dec 29, 2009 15:00 PM
rating: 1
 
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