Rethinking the Hall of Fame: Part Three: Stats & Future Inductees

In parts 1 & 2 of this series I explored the concept of a bigger Hall of Fame. This piece will examine several of the details of this bigger Hall and take a look at some future inductees.

The actual Hall of Fame has 208 players enshrined it because of their MLB playing careers. 146 position players/62 pitchers. This big Hall has 263 players in it. 186 position players/77 pitchers. There are also 29 players enshrined because of their Negro League playing careers. That gives the actual Hall a total of 237 players and this Hall a total of 292.

Here are all of the position players I put in this big Hall.

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And the pitchers.

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The position breakdown of this big hall looks like this.

C- 22 players (19 MLB/3 NLB)

1B- 29 players (26 MLB/3 NLB)

2B- 23 players (22 MLB/3 NLB)

3B- 24 players (21 MLB/3 NLB)

SS- 27 players (25 MLB/2 NLB)

LF- 29 players (28 MLB/1 NLB)

CF- 27 players (21 MLB/6 NLB)

RF- 23 players (23 MLB/0 NLB)

DH 1 player (1 MLB/0 NLB)

SP- 82 players (72 MLB/10 NLB)

RP- 5 players (5 MLB/0 NLB)

When I started putting this Hall together I wanted to include the top 20 players at every position. I only got 19 MLB catchers in but I’m okay with that considering there are three Negro League catchers in as well. Getting to 20 at the rest of the positions wasn’t much of a problem.

Every eligible member of the 3,000 hit club made this Hall. Same with 500 home run club. I also put in all of the eligible pitchers with 3,000 plus strikeouts, and all of the 300 games winners as well. Those big career milestones don’t tell you much about a player’s actual value but they are still impressive accomplishments. Most of the players in those groups are obvious Hall of Famers anyway although a few borderline guys including Brock, Sosa, and Early Wynn were helped by reaching their milestones.

The average WAR of the 146 position players in the Hall of Fame is 66.6. The average WAR of the 186 players in this Hall is 67.5. The average WAA of the 146 actual Hall of Famers is 36.2. This group of 186 averages 37.4.

The average WAR of the 62 pitchers in the Hall of Fame is 69.0. The average WAR of the 77 pitchers in this Hall is 69.7. The average WAA of the 62 actual Hall of Famers is 35.0. This average WAA of the 77 pitchers in this Hall is 37.7.

Only 118 position players currently have a career WAR of 60 or higher. All of the eligible players to reach that milestone are in this Hall of Fame. Chet Lemon has the highest WAR (55.3) for a position player not selected. Sorry, Chet! He will soon be replaced by Johnny Damon (56.3). Former National Association star Ross Barnes has the lowest WAR (28.1) among the 186 position players in this big Hall.

Only 59 pitchers currently have a WAR of 60 or higher, not all of the eligible players made it in. I chose to omit two 19th century stars Bobby Mathews and Mickey Welch.

Chuck Finley has the highest WAR (58.5) among modern pitchers that didn’t make the cut. Frank Tanana isn’t far behind (57.5). Smoky Joe Wood has the lowest WAR (29.7) of the 77 starters in this Hall. The next lowest is Dizzy Dean at 42.7

A breakdown by WAR.

WAR between 20-29.9 (4 players) *When you add Smoky Joe Wood’s batting stats to his totals he becomes a 40 win player.

WAR between 30-39.9 (4 players) *When you add Monte Ward’s pitching stats to his totals he becomes a 60 win player.

WAR between 40-49.9 (41 players) *When you add Wes Ferrell’s batting stats to his totals he becomes a 60 win player.

WAR between 50-59.9 (63 players)

WAR between 60-69.9 (69 players)

WAR between 70-79.9 (28 players)

WAR between 80-89.9 (15 players)

War between 90-99.9 (13 players)

WAR of 100 or higher (26 players)

How will this Hall look in five years? Here are the players that will make it in starting with the 2014 class.

2014 T/POS From To WAR WAA
Greg Maddux R 1986 2008 104.6 64.9
Mike Mussina R 1991 2008 82.7 48.6
Tom Glavine L 1987 2008 74.0 39.1
Frank Thomas 1B 1990 2008 73.6 39.1
Jeff Kent 2B 1992 2008 55.2 26.4

 

Only Kent is helped by this bigger Hall. Maddux is a tier one all-time great player who has a legitimate claim to be the best pitcher ever. Glavine, Mussina, and Thomas are all easy tier two players who should all be considered obvious Hall of Famers.

That would bring the total number of MLB players enshrined to 268. 188 position players/80 pitchers.

2015 T/POS From To WAR WAA
Randy Johnson L 1988 2009 104.3 68.2
Pedro Martinez R 1992 2009 86.0 61.4
John Smoltz R 1988 2009 66.5 38.0
Gary Sheffield RF 1988 2009 60.4 25.8
Nomar Garciaparra SS 1996 2009 44.2 24.2

 

Only Nomar is helped by this bigger Hall. Johnson and Martinez are both tier one all-time great players who like Maddux have legitimate claims to be the best pitcher ever. Smoltz is comfortably a tier two player who should be considered an obvious Hall of Famer. Sheffield is a borderline guy but he’s on the right side of borderline for me.

Nomar has the peak value but hardly any additional career value to go along with it. Here’s why I put him in.  The chart below was compiled using the Play Index on Baseball-Reference.

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Only Honus Wagner has more six win seasons at shortstop than Nomar. Nomar has as many six win seasons (6) at short as A-Rod, Ripken, and Vaughan. Of course you would like to see more career value to go along with those great years, but I favor the peak performers and his peak was good enough to get him in.

That would bring the total number of MLB players in this Hall to 273. 190 position players/83 pitchers.

 

2016 POS/T From To WAR WAA
Ken Griffey Jr. CF 1989 2010 83.7 46.6
Jim Edmonds CF 1993 2010 60.3 34.9
Trevor Hoffman R 1993 2010 28.0 13.7
Billy Wagner L 1995 2010 27.7 16.5

 

No one is really helped by this bigger Hall. Griffey is tier one all-time great player. He joins the inner circle of HOF center fielders along with Mays, Mantle, Cobb, Speaker, and DiMaggio.

Edmonds doesn’t pass the sniff test but he is deserving. He was an elite defensive player who retired as one of the top 15 center fielders ever to play.

Trevor Hoffman had a long productive career. Relievers tend to burn out and burn out fast. If any position should be given credit for longevity, it’s relievers.

Billy Wagner doesn’t pass the sniff test but he was dominate. He finished his career with 1196 strikeouts in just 903 innings pitched. That’s a K/P rate of 11.9. Wagner also finished his career with a 2.31 ERA which works out to an ERA+ of 189. His career WHIP is an impressive 0.998. Wagner actually generated more peak value than Hoffman and they ended up with nearly identical WAR numbers across all three sites. Baseball-Reference 27.7/28.0, FanGraphs (23.6/23.0) and Baseball Prospectus 20.9/20.6).

That would bring the total number of MLB players in this Hall to 277. 192 position players/85 pitchers.

2017 POS From To WAR WAA
Ivan Rodriguez C 1991 2011 68.3 33.0
Manny Ramirez LF 1993 2011 69.1 35.5
Vladimir Guerrero RF 1996 2011 59.9 30.0
Jorge Posada C 1995 2011 42.7 17.3

 

Manny Ramirez is certainly helped out by the nonexistent character clause of this Hall. I would rather put him in and acknowledge that he used PEDs than just ignore him altogether. Manny recently signed a minor league deal with the Rangers; if he plays in just one MLB game this year his HOF clock will reset.

Ivan Rodriguez should be considered an obvious Hall of Famer but he will struggle to actually get in. Unlike Ramirez who failed three drug tests (including the 2003 survey test) there is no actual proof Rodriguez used. However, rumors of his use are fairly widespread. Rodriguez can look to Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell as examples as to what those rumors will do to his HOF chances.

No real hesitation about putting Vlad in either. His poor defensive numbers make him more borderline than his offensive numbers alone would suggest, but he’s definitely on the right side of borderline for me.

Jorge Posada is unquestionably helped by the concept of a bigger Hall of Fame. Including Ivan Rodriguez, I added nine catchers to this Hall.

Name From To WAR WAA
Ivan Rodriguez 1991 2011 68.3 33.0
Mike Piazza 1992 2007 59.2 35.5
Joe Torre 1960 1977 57.4 26.7
Ted Simmons 1968 1988 50.2 18.9
Gene Tenace 1969 1983 46.8 27.9
Thurman Munson 1969 1979 45.9 25.3
Wally Schang 1913 1931 45.0 20.4
Bill Freehan 1961 1976 44.7 21.1
Charlie Bennett 1878 1893 39.1 23.8

 

Posada ranks near the bottom of the group however he produced similar value to both Bill Freehan and Wally Schang. Posada is also helped out by his post season success. Hey was a key contributor on three championship teams.

This class would bring the total number of MLB players in this Hall to 281. 196 position players/85 pitchers.

And the 2018 class.

2018 POS From To WAR WAA
Chipper Jones 3B 1993 2012 85.1 53.3
Jim Thome 1B 1991 2012 72.8 37.4
Scott Rolen 3B 1996 2012 70.0 43.9
Andruw Jones CF 1996 2012 62.7 35.8
Bobby Abreu RF 1996 2012 60.4 29.0

 

Chipper Jones and Jim Thome are easy tier two players who should be considered obvious Hall of Famers.

Scott Rolen should be considered an obvious Hall of Famer too, he retired as one of the ten best third basemen ever to play the game. Rolen was an elite defender and a well above average hitter (122 wRC+ & OPS+). He’s a member of the exclusive 70 WAR/40 WAA group. Not even Thome meets those standards. Neither does Paul Molitor (75.5/37.2), Eddie Murray (68.2/27.0), or Tony Gwynn (68.9/26.5), just to name a few.

Andruw Jones was one of the best defensive players in the history of the game. He was also a better hitter than both Brooks Robinson and Ozzie Smith who were primarily recognized for their exceptional gloves. Unlike Robinson and Smith, Jones flamed out fast which makes him a tier three borderline player. He’s helped slightly by this bigger Hall.

Abreu is a borderline guy who is helped by the concept of a bigger Hall. He finished his career with an impressive slash line of .292/.396/.477 which works out to an OPS of .873 and an OPS+ of 129. However, his is poor defense hurts his cause.

This class would bring the total number of MLB players in this Hall to 286. 201 position players/85 pitchers.

Add the 29 Negro League stars and this Hall would have a total of 315 players by 2018.

These are the active players who if they retired today (7/7/13) would make this Hall.

C- Joe Mauer

1B- Albert Pujols, Todd Helton

2B- Chase Utley

SS- Derek Jeter

3B- Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre

LF- Lance Berkman

CF- Carlos Beltran

RF- Ichiro Suzuki

DH- David Ortiz

SP- Roy Halladay, CC Sabathia, Johan Santana, Andy Pettitte, Tim Hudson

RP- Mariano Rivera, Joe Nathan

So, over the next five years I’m putting 23 players into this Hall of Fame. Over that same time period less than half of them will get enshrined in the real Hall of Fame. Maddux, Glavine, Thomas, Johnson, Martinez, Chipper, and Thome are locks. Vlad, Smoltz, and Hoffman all have a reasonable chance of getting in as well. The others will fall short for a variety of reasons. PEDs, the sniff test, a lack of understanding of HOF standards, and a handful are legitimately borderline players that one could easily argue against. I think the Hall would be more fun if 23 players were to go in over the next five years. It think it would also create more of a buzz around active players.

This is my take on a bigger Hall of Fame. As I’ve said in parts 1 & 2 of this series there are admittedly players I’ve included that still make me cringe. I probably overpopulated 19th century pitchers and I don’t think I need 28 left fielders in either. I see the appeal to a smaller Hall even though I know no such thing actually exists. However, this type of Hall of Fame appeals to me too. There is no ridiculous character clause, and eras and positions are more evenly represented. The standards are just as high as the real Hall as well.

If the actual Hall of Fame looked like this I think it would be more palatable to your average fan and perhaps increase interest and attendance to the museum itself.  Those are all good things. I probably could remove several players from this Hall of Fame but given the choice between this Hall and the actual Hall, I prefer this one.

How about you?

Follow me on twitter @RossCarey

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