January 04, 2005
Boggs, Ryno in the Hall

Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, thus resolving one puzzling omission but not others.

Boggs, a five-time American League batting champion for the Boston Red Sox, was selected by 474 of the record 516 voters who are 10-year members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

The 91.86 percent of ballots he received was the 19th-highest percentage in Hall history, and he became the 41st player elected on his first chance.

In total votes, Boggs trailed only Nolan Ryan (491) and George Brett (488).

"It's mind-boggling to be put in the same category," said Boggs, who credited his success to his 79-year-old father, Winfield.

"He coached me in Little League and sort of nurtured me along -- was there every phone call in the minor leagues," Boggs said.

Sandberg, the 1984 National League MVP for the Chicago Cubs, was picked by 393 voters. He appeared on 76.2 percent of ballots, just above the 75 percent cutoff (387). Sandberg received 49.2 percent of votes in 2003 and got 61.1 percent last year, falling 71 votes short.

"Watching Ryno play in the other league was a treat," Boggs said. "He could work Wrigley magic more than anybody knew."

No arguments here - they were both on my imaginary ballot. As for the also-rans:

Reliever Bruce Sutter, appearing on the ballot for the 12th time, received 344 votes (66.7 percent), up from 301 last year but 43 shy of what was needed this time. He was followed by Jim Rice (307), Rich "Goose" Gossage (285) and Andre Dawson (270).

With a weak class next year, Sutter looks like a lock, and I'd say Rice and Gossage are in decent shape. I don't quite understand voting for Sutter and not Gossage, but it's a minor sin. Bert Blyleven gained five percentage points from last year, but at that rate he's in a footrace with the 15-year time limit. And don't get me started on people who'd vote for Jack Morris but not Blyleven, especially on the strength of one freaking World Series game. That's the kind of mentality that kept Don Larsen and his 81-91 career record on the Hall ballot year after year. I'm not saying Morris is no more worthy than Larsen - I wouldn't vote for him, but he wouldn't be a ridiculous choice - just that anyone who'd rank them that way have a lot to learn about performance metrics. And before anyone says Morris "knew how to win" or "pitched to the score", please read this.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 04, 2005 to Baseball | TrackBack

Sutter and Gossage should have been in already, simply for being the best relief pitchers / closers of their time. Gossage was a closer that could go 2 or 3 innings when needed, and certainly deserves a place in Cooperstown for that.

As for the Hall of Fame for stupid people, I'm torn between the owner of the Angels for changing the name of the team or Boob Selig for allowing it. As I said in the office today: "What's next, the O.C. Angels?"

Posted by: William Hughes on January 4, 2005 6:56 PM

There's a good article here at the NYT which pretty persuasively argues that Sutter and Gossage ought to be in, based on the difficulty of gaining a save back when they were pitching, along with their numbers of innings pitched with runners, etc.

Posted by: Linkmeister on January 4, 2005 7:00 PM

I'm with you Kuff. Blyleven should be in Hall.

Posted by: blank on January 4, 2005 10:06 PM

Blyleven, yes. Gossage, yes. Sutter, no.

It isn't a question of the saves. Gossage consistently pitched more innings, and better innings, than Sutter did. Sutter had an ERA+ over 1.5 only three times in his career. ("Only" in this context is reserved for HoF discussions; Sutter was damned good.) If you remove the one year the White Sox tried Gossage as a starter, he did it eight years in a row. Gossage had almost twice as many career wins as Sutter, at a significantly better winning percentage. (Yes, I know wins are badly flawed; so are saves, and I'm using this to note that Gossage was used in key situations besides for saves.) Gossage pitched almost twice as many career innings as Sutter did. The Goose was simply a much better pitcher than Sutter was.

Really, there isn't anything that seperates Sutter from Dan Quisenberry or Kent Tekulve other than that he held the saves record for a while. In terms of the quality of pitching, I'd probably rather have either of the other two. Sutter does not belong in the Hall.

Posted by: J. Michael Neal on January 5, 2005 12:19 PM