More than 14,000 scouting reports available through online companion to Museum display
A special group of people near and dear to my heart will finally get recognition this year as the Baseball Hall of Fame opens up its Diamond Mines exhibit honoring professional and amateur scouts. Thanks to the work of my esteemed SABR colleagues Rod Nelson, the late Jim Sandoval, Ted Turocy and Sean Lahman, data linking more than 11,000 players with the names of their signing or recommending scout will now be available to the general public. I've seen the work first-hand, and it's truly some amazing stuff. Below is the full press release of today's announcement.
AChange.org petition to ask the Hall of Fame Board of Directors to change their voting process
I know the results from the latest Hall of Fame voting aren’t in yet, but it’s already clear that the process is deeply flawed. It was always imperfect, but its flaws are now deep, possibly mortal. The voting process is not equipped to handle the messy challenges of our day, and the Hall of Fame is suffering as a result.
Twenty-nine years ago today, a baseball myth was busted to the general public.
As the nation went to sleep on the night of May 23, 1983, everyone (save for a small number of devoted baseball historians) knew that Civil War General Abner Doubleday invented the game of baseball in Cooperstown, New York, in 1839. It was a well-known piece of history that helped to explain why the Baseball Hall of Fame was in such an out of the way location. Imagine the surprise around the country then when, 29 years ago today, people around the country opened their newspapers the next morning to see this article from the Associated Press:
As new technology continues to change how we evaluate players, Jorge Posada's Hall of Fame case might hinge as heavily on what we don't know about him as what we do.
It’s good to be a baseball fan in the 21st century. Not only is it easy to keep up with the action-packed offseason (which for the Yankees, pre-Pineda/Kuroda, amounted to re-signing Freddy Garcia, Andruw Jones, and Rick Down) at sites like this one, but thanks to the wonders of modern-day technology, we no longer have to wheel out a motorcycle or a piece of army ordnance every time we want to find out how hard a young pitcher throws. We also spend a lot less time arguing about things that aren’t subjective. In the 20th century, debates about velocity went something like this:
Yellow journalist 1: Who throws harder: Jack Pronto or Jack Celerity?
Yellow journalist 2: Pronto. Boy, but does he makes the glove pop.
Yellow journalist 1: That may be, but batsmen can’t catch up to Celerity’s speed ball.
Yellow journalist 2: Batsmen can’t even see the pill when Pronto pitches.
Yellow journalist 1: [Good hitter] said he’d never faced anyone faster than Celerity.
Yellow journalist 2: [Other good hitter] saw Pronto and said he hadn’t been as scared since San Juan Hill.
Yellow journalist 1: Well, Walter Johnson throws harder than either of them.
Yellow journalist 2: Pshaw. Walter Johnson throws slower than my mistress.
Walter Johnson: That’s slander!
Both yellow journalists: /yellow journalist fist-bump
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.
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A writer who never saw Jack Morris pitch watches him in action for the first time and comes away even less convinced that the traditionalist case for his candidacy should earn him a call to Cooperstown.
Barry Larkin earns his Hall call, but the major gains for multiple players shed new light on their Cooperstown prospects.
That Barry Larkin is headed to Cooperstown is not the big surprise of the 2012 Hall of Fame voting, the results of which were announced on Monday afternoon. As the top holdover (he received 62.1 percent of the vote last year) on a ballot with no overwhelming first-time candidates, and a deserving candidate on both the traditional and sabermetric fronts, he was well-positioned to close the deal. With 86.4 percent of the vote, he cleared the 75 percent bar easily, and will join the family of Ron Santo at the induction ceremony on July 22, 2012.
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.
Jay Jaffe and JAWS examine the starting pitchers on this year's Hall of Fame BBWAA ballot, starting with the inevitable Jack Morris.
After delivering the JAWS piece on first basemen earlier this week, I had planned to tackle the outfielders—Tim Raines, Bernie Williams et al—next. The sad news of Greg Spira'suntimely passingon Wednesday presented me with a reason to change course, however. In the service of working on a chapter on Jack Morris’s Hall of Fame case for Extra Innings: More Baseball Between the Numbersin November, I had called upon the Internet Wayback Machine to unearth Greg's seminal research piece questioning whether Morris "pitched to the score." a piece that was published in Baseball Prospectus 1997, predating Morris’s arrival on the BBWAA ballot by a three years and Joe Sheehan's own outstanding Morris research by five years. I suggested to Dave Pease that we republish it on our site to run alongside yesterday’s article in tribute to our fallen colleague and friend, a fine example of his intellectual curiosity and dogged research efforts, particularly as the work dated to a time when Retrosheet was in its infancy and the relevant data not easily compiled. This piece is dedicated to his memory.
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.
Continuing a jaunt through the 2012 Hall of Fame ballot with the help of the revamped JAWS, a certain DH goes under the microscope.
It's been nearly 40 years since the designated hitter was introduced to Major League Baseball, and in that time, only one player who spent the plurality—not even the majority—of his time at the position has made it into the Hall of Fame. That was Paul Molitor, who spent 1,171 of his 2,683 career games riding the pine between plate appearances. When I reviewedMolitor's Hall of Fame case—in what was actually my Baseball Prospectus debut, at a point when the system hadn’t even been named JAWS—I considered him as a third baseman, because he had played 788 games there, and the majority of his games playing somewhere in the infield. He had generated real defensive value (26 FRAA according to the measure of the time, 22 FRAA according to our most recent batch), strengthening a case that was virtually automatic anyway by dint of his membership in the 3,000-hit club.