I know it’s an exercise in futility, but sometimes an idea strikes me and I feel like writing about it. Here are two pitchers. One is a Hall of Famer, the other is currently on the ballot. See if you can tell the difference between them:
Pitcher A: 4413.1 IP, 682 starts, 2607 K/1500 BB. ERA- of 86. ERA of 3.54. BAA of .252. 356 HR allowed. WHIP of 1.31
Pitcher B: 3562.2 IP, 537 starts, 2813 K/785 BB. ERA- of 82. ERA of 3.68. BAA of .252. 376 HR allowed. WHIP of 1.19
Player A pitched on the one of the greatest collections of talent the NL has ever seen, and thus won over 300 games (in 150 more starts). Player B only managed to win 270 games while being on some mediocre teams during the same time frame. And, Player B did all of that in the AL East where some incredibly good hitters parks are located.
Yet Player A made the Hall of Fame on first ballot and Player B is languishing on the ballot as we speak.
I’m not saying that Mike Mussina is a definite Hall of Famer (and I detest arguments that say “This guy’s a Hall of Famer, so this other guy must be one!”), but I do think that we, as a baseball culture, have elevated a guy like Tom Glavine higher than he should be due to his win totals. I ranked him in the low 170’s, and there was still part of my brain that was telling me that was wrong. But, there is no doubt in my mind that Mussina was the better pitcher between the two.
The question essentially becomes, do Glavine’s ~900 more IP outweigh the 200 more K’s and 800 fewer walks that Mussina had (again, in much less time against a much tougher league) with basically the same ERA and better WHIP and without as much of a benefit of a wide strike zone like Glavine (and Maddux to a degree) was claimed to have gotten.
I can easily see Mussina being the next big cause a la Tim Raines and Bert Blyleven. And that’s one I probably would get behind.
Yes, this post is a couple of days late. After reworking the center field post to up the median, it made sense to do it in right field as well, since the Veterans Committee has really watered down each position. There were 10 center fielders voted in by the Veterans Committee, compared to eight by the BBWAA. Out of the 24 right fielders inducted into the Hall of Fame, 11 were inducted by the Veterans Committee, and with very few exceptions are some of the lowest ranking players in Cooperstown. As such, instead of the typical median score, a modified one using the lowest ranking BBWAA-inductee (Wee Willie Keeler) as the base score will be used. That gives a median score of 29056, between Roberto Clemente and Paul Waner.
Centerfield is the most glorious position on the diamond, so it should have the highest standards for induction to Cooperstown. If a player is going to be in the same group as Ty Cobb, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle, then he better be one of the best of all-time. That’s why the median score of 19553 seems like it’s lower than it should be, ranking between Kirby Puckett and Earl Averill. It’s brought down quite a bit by having three players (Edd Roush, Hack Wilson and Lloyd Waner) rank in the bottom 200’s, and four additional players (Duke Snider, Max Carey, Earle Combs and Larry Doby) rank below 150. So, it’s time to up the ante. Snider is the worst CF that the BBWAA elected, and setting him as the bottom score resets the median to 28717, between Griffey and Hamilton. Now, let’s see how some hopefuls do:
Left field is always difficult to judge due to the fact that it is typically occupied by big bulky sluggers who are poor defenders. As such, those few that can actually field well (Yaz, Rickey, Bonds) tend to get a boosted ranking because they can stand out more. Still, if a player isn’t a big power hitter, it’s tough for them to be considered a great left fielder. Left fielders have a median score of 22948, which would be Fred Clarke’s score with 19 left fielders in Cooperstown already. Here’s how a few outsiders look:
Catching is the most stressful and demanding position on the diamond defensively. Accordingly, there tends to be less offense expected from catchers than from other players as long as they field well. However, all that changed in the 1930’s with the advent of catchers like Mickey Cochrane, Gabby Hartnett and Bill Dickey who were very good hitters. Cooperstown houses 15 catchers in the gallery, with the median score belonging to Buck Ewing, 24573. Let’s see how some outsiders rank:
Shortstops tend to be the most underrated hitters in history, mostly because they are typically known for their gloves first. However, without some positive contributions offensively, even an Ozzie Smith level defender would have difficulty making it into the Hall of Fame. Shortstop is one of the more populated positions in Cooperstown, with 22 inductees at the position. The median score for shortstops comes in between Luis Aparicio and Barry Larkin at 26116. Here are how some outside shortstops rank:
Third basemen tend to be players with limited range, but quick reflexes and strong arms. Ever since Eddie Mathews hit the scene, third basemen have needed to possess some power in order to get noticed, with the exception of great OBP skills (Wade Boggs) or tremendous defense (Brooks Robinson). Third base is criminally underrepresented in the Hall of Fame with merely a dozen inductees. The median score for third basemen is 27782, which is between Robinson and Ron Santo. Let’s see how well some outsiders rank for potential Hall of Famers. Continue reading