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Ballots for the Hall of Fame were recently mailed to voters.
Over the next few days, we’ll comment on the candidates, their merits, and their chances,
and follow that up with the second Internet Hall of Fame ballot to be
hosted by baseballprospectus.com, where you can vote for your candidates.

Chris Kahrl

I’m in favor of a big HoF class to right past wrongs. Here’s my
ballot:

I really want Lance Parrish on this ballot, because he was basically the
best catcher the AL had in the ’80s.
Pudge Fisk
is most definitely
included when I say that, although Fisk’s defensive problems don’t really get
to be a major issue until the end of the decade. Perhaps it’s a weak field: it
was the era of
Rich Gedman
and Mike Heath,
after all.

In the end, I decided to leave Parrish, Tommy John, Ron
Guidry
, Tom Henke, and Dave Righetti for the Veteran’s
Committee.

For me, Righetti illustrates a major problem for the years to come: how
seriously do we take Rags versus Randy Myers versus John
Franco
in the
as-yet-to-be-held debate on the greatest lefty closer of all time? I don’t
have an answer, since for a single-season great lefty closer year, I don’t
think of any of them; I’ve still got Willie Hernandez‘ 1984 on a
pedestal.
In terms of consistency, since there isn’t a stage during any of their
careers when I’d want them over their right-handed peers (whether it’s
Gossage or Sutter or Lee Smith or Henke), I think it’s a silly category,
like "Best switch-hitting shortstop of all time," and not a
criterion that ought to be used, but it will get considered.

Use the votes for
Andy Van Slyke
as a shopping list for a purge of
some of the worst elements of the BBWAA. I suspect they’ll overlap with the
constituency who won’t remember Lou Whitaker existed almost exactly.

Of course, I’m still cranky about the speed with which
Bobby Grich and
Darrell Evans
were dropped from consideration.

Gary Huckabay

I nearly lost my lunch when the local sports guy was
talking about the new HoF candidates. Callers were totally
psyched about all three of Kirby Puckett, Dave Winfield,
and Don Mattingly
making it into the Hall.

Well, we agree on Winfield. But Mattingly? It’d certainly
cement his place as the most overrated player of all time.

Total Baseball rates Mattingly with a Total Player Rating of
11.3, meaning he was worth about 11 games over an average player
over the course of his career. Sure, TPR isn’t perfect, but
it’s a reasonable first cut, and if we double Mattingly’s value
over an average player, we still end up at ~20 runs better than
an average player over the course of his career.

HoF Worthy? Uh…no. And not particularly close.

Mattingly supporters talk about his peak as being particularly
impressive. Let’s take a look at his best 5 seasons:

Year Games     BA    OBP   SLG
1984  153     .343  .386  .537
1985  159     .324  .379  .567
1986  162     .352  .399  .573
1987  141     .327  .383  .559
1989  158     .303  .356  .477

In context of era, those are pretty good numbers. Of course, Mattingly
was a left handed hitter in Yankee Stadium, and the raw park adjustments
don’t often take that into account. Considering that Mattingly played first
base, these numbers don’t impress me that much. It’s
Tony Gwynn
lite with a bit more pop.

Outside of this peak, Mattingly was positively brutal. His career numbers
ended up at .307/.363/.471 in 1785 games. His peak above represents 773
games, so you know those other thousand were a bit on the
Hal Morris
side.

Is that a fair comparison?

Hal Morris,    career  1246 G, .306/.361/.433.
Don Mattingly, career  1785 G, .307/.363/.471.
Don Mattingly, offpeak 1008 G, .289/.346/.413.

This is a player who was, on balance, not as valuable as TPR indicates.
For the majority of his career, Mattingly was a hindrance to the Yankees’
success, and a player that should have been replaced much earlier.

Classy guy? Absolutely. Beloved? Absolutely. Do I wish there were more
players like him? Yes.

A Hall of Famer? Basically, Mattingly had 2/3 of
Tony Perez‘s
career. Tony Perez doesn’t belong without a ticket.

Puckett’s a tougher call. Numbers comparable to Mattingly, with slightly
more longevity, and playing a more difficult defensive position — badly. I
think Puckett gets in by the skin of his teeth. .318/.363/.477 while
playing center and winning two rings over 1,783 games, with no seasons
where you were a demonstrable hindrance is enough to get my vote.

Gary Huckabay can be reached at huckabay@baseballprospectus.com.
Chris Kahrl can be reached at ckahrl@baseballprospectus.com.