Who makes the Hall of Fame cut when faced against the Keltner Test and JAWS?
On Friday, I unveiled the catcher and infielders on what I'm calling the Keltner All-Stars, the best eligible player at each position outside the Hall of Fame. The name comes from former Indians third baseman Ken Keltner, who inspired Bill James' Keltner Test, a set of 15 questions that can be used to frame a player’s Hall of Fame case. The basis of my choices isn't that test. Instead, I'm using JAWS.
Tim Raines has his case re-examined, and the remainder of the Hall ballot gets a look.
We all have our pet projects. With the graduations of Bert Blyleven and Ron Santo to the Hall of Fame, mine is now Tim Raines. During his 23-year major-league career, Raines combined the virtues of a keen batting eye, dazzling speed, and all-around athleticism with a cerebral approach that made him an electrifying performer and a dangerous offensive weapon. Yet in four years on the ballot, he's reached just 37.5 percent of the vote, exactly half of what he needs to reach Cooperstown.
The new JAWS runs up against players from the Steroid Era to determine their Hall worthiness.
As with comedy, timing is everything in baseball. "Hitting is timing," Hall of Famer Warren Spahn said famously, finishing the thought with the complementary observation, "Pitching is upsetting timing." A good chunk of both the game's traditional and advanced statistics, the ones that we spurn and those that we celebrate, owe plenty to being the right man in the right place at the right time—wins, saves, and RBI from the former camp, leverage, run expectancy, and win expectancy from the latter. ERA owes everything to the sequence of events. For better or worse, MVP votes are won and lost on the timing of a player's productivity, or at least the perception of it that comes with being labeled "clutch." Timing is a major part of how we measure the game, so it should matter when we look over the course of a player's career in evaluating his fitness for the Hall of Fame.
Only one middle infielder passes the revamped JAWS' standards for Hall of Fame induction.
The past year has been a great one for JAWS, the Hall of Fame evaluation system whose creation marked my first contribution to Baseball Prospectus back in 2004 (I didn't name it until the next go-round). In 2011, two overly qualified candidates for whom I've advocated for the better part of a decade were finally elected. In January, Bert Blylevenreceived 79.7 percentof the Baseball Writers of America vote, becoming the first player ever to gain entry on his 14th ballot. In December, the late Ron Santoreceived 93.8 percent of the vote from the Golden Era committee, a bittersweet result given his passing just a year ago but a vindication of what we've known here for years, that he too was worthy of a bronze plaque.
How well do the players on the Golden Era ballot stack up to Hall of Fame standards?
The Hall of Fame's Golden Era ballot has been out since November 3, offering 10 familiar names from the 1947-1972 era for Cooperstown consideration. This isn't the Veterans Committee anymore; when last year's reforms were announced, the words "Veterans Committee" were conspicuously omitted from all press releases. Rather, it's the second of three Era Committees to get its turn at bat, following last year's Expansion Era Committee, which voted on players from the 1973-1989 period and managers, umpires, and executives from 1973 to the present. Theoretically, next year’s panel will consider candidates from the Pre-Integration period (1871-1946), but the Hall has changed the rules so often lately that all bets are off.
A look at the first basemen on this year's Hall of Fame ballot.
Having kicked off this year's JAWS series with the starting pitchers, today we turn our attention to the first basemen, a slate which includes the ballot's best newcomer as well as its most controversial first-timer, and a few holdovers who aren't going anywhere for entirely different reasons.
As technology changes, so do election patterns for the Midsummer Classic.
In America’s pastime, as in its politics, democracy is a wonderful but fragile thing. Ten years after Major League Baseball first gave its fans the option to vote for the starting lineups in the All-Star Game, Commissioner Ford Frick took it away again after 1957, when Cincinnati fans stuffed the ballot boxes to elect all but one Reds' starter. This was not even a spontaneous upsurge of local pride: through the late spring, the Cincinnati Enquirer had printed ballots to distribute them easily to fans, and local bars even required customers to fill out ballots before they would be served. Not until 1970 were the fans put back in charge of picking the starters, but it’s been in their hands ever since—even surviving another sabotage attempt when Massachusetts hacker Chris Nandor was able to create a program that voted for Nomar Garciaparra nearly 40,000 times to edge out Derek Jeter.
A review of the best candidates at every position among the eligibles for the BBWAA and the Veterans Committee ballots.
One of the great things about having an intelligent and inquisitive readership here at Baseball Prospectus is that interacting with our readers often yields strong ideas for articles. Case in point: during last week's chat in which I discussed JAWS and the Hall of Fame voting results, loyal reader and long-suffering Orioles fan TGisriel lobbed an article idea right into my wheelhouse:
Three different groups making the selections performed at three very different levels in the quality of their choices.
I'm pretty critical of MLB's practices, so I should mention how much I like that they've turned the announcement of the All-Star teams into an event. Becoming an All-Star is actually more significant than anything a player might do in the game-it's an honor being selected, whether by the fans, the players, or the managers, and the highlight is that moment. If anything, I'd take this off Sunday and TBS and try to get ESPN to run it before a Monday night game in prime time.