Before we go over the actual rankings, I thought it would be a good idea to explain how I determined my rankings for the Hall of Fame. I looked at all of the Major League Players only. This means that any players from the Negro or other Leagues will be looked at. Sorry, I love Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson as much as everyone else, and recognize them as true Hall of Famers, but there aren’t very good records kept for those leagues, so it’s hard to objectively compare them to players in the Major Leagues.
I also am doing this purely statistically. What I mean is that players that have important social implications, but only played for 10 seasons, may come out fairly low in my rankings. That doesn’t mean I think they should be kicked out of the Hall of Fame, or that they are undeserving of being inducted. It’s just that short careers have to be Koufax-like dominant in order to be ranked highly, and there’s really only one Koufax.
What stats did I use? Well, I’m pretty much a SABR-honk, so there are a lot of SABR stats in my study, but I tried to do a blend of traditional and advanced stats. For batters, the traditional stats I used were hits (singles, doubles, triples and homers), runs, RBI’s, walks, steals, total bases, batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, on base plus slugging and isolated power. The advanced stats I used were weighted on base average, weighted runs created (and it’s “plus” version), weighted runs above average, batting runs, base running runs, fielding runs, positional runs and WAR (from Fangraphs, also known as fWAR). If you aren’t familiar with some of these stats, I’ll explain as I use them on each player page. Some of these stats may seem to overlap. There’s two reasons for that. One is that I think some Hall of Famers have their cases built on one ability (Tony Gwynn for his hits and batting average, for instance), but others for different abilities that contrast that. Harmon Killebrew, for instance, may not have had the hits or batting average that Gwynn did, but complemented that for hitting for lots of power that Gwynn didn’t. Each player is different, so each stat is important. The other reason is similar. Hall of Fame voting, like everything in life, has changed over the years, so stats that may have been looked at less in the early years (like OBP) that are looked at much closer now should count as much as stats that aren’t looked on as fondly now (like runs and batting average), but were once treated with much more significance.
For pitchers, I used games, starts, wins, losses, saves, innings, complete games, shutouts, hits, walks, strikeouts, runs, earned runs, ERA and opponents batting average. The advanced stats I used were strikeout rate, walk rate, strikeout-to-walk-ratio, homer rate, hit rate, WHIP, FIP, ERA-, FIP-, WAR, RA9-WAR (WAR based off of runs allowed only), BIP-WAR (WAR based off of balls in play), LOB-WAR (WAR based off of runners left on base) and FDP-WAR (WAR based off of fielding dependency). Again, a lot of these I will discuss on certain player’s pages.
I looked at each player, using these stats from multiple perspectives. First, I looked at how they each compared to the average Hall of Famer at their respective positions from both a per-year basis, and a career basis. Then, I compared them to all Hall of Fame hitters or pitchers on a per-year basis and a career basis. Finally, I compared them to players from their respective careers. For instance, Lou Gehrig played (primarily) first base in his career from 1923-1939, and played a total of 2164 games. So, I compared him to what the average first baseman and major league player would do in that era in 2164 games to see how much better than average he was. All of these scores are added up, corrected for position and playing time, and there we have my methods. Hopefully it will become more clear as we go on.
So, now that everything is out of the way, let’s just sit back, relax, and enjoy my Outsider’s Look into Baseball and The Hall of Fame.
On Deck: 6/24/16
This Hall of Fame first baseman from the Cubs was part of a famous double play combination.