August 01, 2005
Future Hall of Famers

Norbizness points to this two-part story on ESPN about which active players will make the Hall of Fame. I don't care to go through the whole list, but I do have a few comments.

- I think Mike Mussina's chances are being undersold. The main difference between Moose and Bert Blyleven, to whom Moose is compared, is simply this: Blyleven had a .534 win percentage (he went 287-250), while as of the start of this season, Mussina won at a .639 clip, 36th best all-time. Every pitcher ahead of him who is Hall-eligible and who won at least 200 games is already enshrined. If Mussina gets to 260 wins as the author suggests, I can't see him as anything but a lock.

- One of the pitchers ahead of Mussina on the career won-lost percentage list but who got no mention at all, even to have his chances dismissed, is Andy Pettite. Pettite's career record is 164-89, with an above-average ERA and a 13-8 record in postseason play. He also has two 20-win seasons, something Moose was dinged for lacking. As with Mussina, if Pettite plays long enough to win 250 games - maybe even as few as 220 games - I can't see him not at least getting strong consideration.

- On the merits, Rafael Palmeiro has an easy case for induction. His suspension for a positive test for banned substances, whatever the reason for it, is likely to cost him some votes. I'm of the opinion that there's no proven link between steroids and performance, but I won't be the one casting a ballot in 2011 or 2012. He belongs, but the debate is going to be loud and uncompromising.

- Predicting future enshrinement for players with a long and distinguished resume is tricky enough; doing it for players with fewer than five years' big league experience is a one-way ticket to palookaville. Joe Mauer is a great catching prospect, but then once upon a time so were Terry Steinbach and Mitch Melusky. Bill James, in his 1994 classic The Politics of Glory, projected Hall of Fame classes for the next 25 years. Overall, he had a pretty decent list - Brett Butler and Al Oliver were the only obvious head-scratchers among the players with tenure - but among the then-younger generation his picks included Juan Gonzales, Jack McDowell (20-win seasons in 1992 and 1993, washed up by 1997 at the age of 31), and my personal favorite, Ruben Sierra. In 1999, Albert Belle looked like a shoe-in. Now he looks like Dick Allen, surly reputation and all. You just never know.

UPDATE: Regarding Palmeiro, I agree completely with Jayson Stark.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 01, 2005 to Baseball | TrackBack

Mitch Melusky ... wow, there's a blast from the past I never needed.

Posted by: Greg Wythe on August 1, 2005 8:15 PM

Blyleven played on a fair number of crappy teams. Yes, he played for some good ones ('79 Pirates and '87 Twins, for example), but by and large, he was the victim of bad-to-mediocre offensive teams. I mean, really -- 3,701 strikouts? 287 wins with a lot of bad teams?

As for Palmeiro's merits -- steroids or not -- as hitters get stronger and play longer, both 500 homers and 3,000 hits are easier to achieve. (It's the opposite of, say, 300 wins, which keeps getting harder.) Personally, I still think 3000 hits is compelling enough, but 500 homers are the new 400 homers. I'm not as impressed at today's players hitting 500. Guys like Ernie Banks (512 homers) played in a pitching-dominated era (late 1950s and 1960s), and presumably without steroids. I wonder how many he'd hit today.

This inability to look at statistics relative to their era is why another travesty -- Ron Santo not being in Cooperstown -- has managed to linger. If you look at Santo's performance relative to other 3B in his era, and consider his defense, there's no excuse for his absence from the Hall.

Posted by: Tim on August 1, 2005 9:22 PM

I agree wholeheartedly about Blyleven, who's been thoroughly shafted by the HoF voters. That said, won-lost record and percentage are things they go by, and the huge difference between Mussina and Blyleven is IMHO more than enough to compensate for Moose's lack of 20-win seasons.

I tend to agree about 500 homers being somewhat devalued, but Palmeiro has a shot at 600. Combine that with 3000 hits, and he's in extremely elite company - Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.

No argument on Santo, either.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on August 1, 2005 10:17 PM

First, a nitpick: "shoo-in."

As for young future Hall-of-Famers, my best bet is Pujols if he keeps it up. Vlad Guerrero may have a shot, and I think Ichiro is a lock if he can last ten years, though he isn't technically young. As for pitchers, it's hard to tell, but I hope Dontrelle can keep it going 'cause I just love watching him.

Posted by: Chris Quinones on August 1, 2005 10:36 PM

Rafael Palmiero just became this generation's Orlando Cepeda with the steriods suspension. There's no doubt he'll get in, but the writers will be more than a little wary of voting him in on say, the few three or four ballots. If nothing else, they'll want to "send a message" to future players. It could be worse. He could have become this generation's Pete Rose.

As for the past players that have not been voted in, Bert Blyleven is one of the first people that should come off of that list. The person that is most similar to him is Nolan Ryan in that both pitched with some mediocre teams, however, they did strike out a lot of batters and win more than their share of games.

Ron Santo had the misfortune of playing for a team that hasn't won a World Series since 1908 and playing a position that is dominated by Eddie Mathews and Brooks Robinson before him and Mike Schmidt and George Brett after him. Part of me wants to compare him to Don Mattingly (a local fan favorite that won't get voted into the Hall of Fane), but he deserves better than that.

Posted by: William Hughes on August 2, 2005 3:55 AM

Alex Rodriguez will make the Hall in a heartbeat if he doesn't retire or get seriously hurt in the next couple of years. I'd also put money on Greg Maddux, though his plaque will have to mention the fact that he might not be there if it wasn't for the Braves' pitching coach.

Tim and I have talked a few times about the 2007 first ballot guys: Gwynn, McGwire, and Ripken. Stuff like, "If you could only vote for one, which one would it be?" (Answer: Gwynn. McGwire's only going because he hit 70 homers one year and Ripken gets a lot of attention because of The Streak). Yesterday, we were discussing the merits of Sammy Sosa and whether he deserves to go. I'm not so sure he does, even with 600 homers. Yes, 600 homers is an impressive feat, but what else has he done?

I so want to be in Cooperstown for the 2007 induction.

Posted by: Sue on August 2, 2005 7:54 AM

Blyleven and Goose Gossage strike me as the two really glaring recentish absences from the Hall. (And despite being a big O's fan and even a fan of Raffy personally, I'm dubious about Palmeiro's merits. Was he, in any season, really one of the three best first basemen in the majors? Being consistantly really good for an extended period of time is great, but he never struck as dominating the way a shoo-in should be.

Posted by: Steve on August 2, 2005 7:57 AM

Another guy who should be in there and is penalized for a reason I've yet to determine is Gil Hodges. Find me another first baseman in the 50s who was as good as Hodges.

Posted by: Linkmeister on August 2, 2005 6:55 PM

The good results for Valdez and the judges may be largely due to a demographic shift and the increased turnout to due particular Dem candidates (you go to the polls to vote for Valdez and then vote straight ticket for the other Dems).
Can we move the discussion of the Frost effect into 2006?
(1) Money. Frost raised 4.5M. Does Frost have any of this money left over that he could contribute to the 2006 candidates? I contributed to Frost and so did not have any money left for other candidates. If I am representative, this could have been a negative Frost effect. Would Frost consider writing his contributers requesting they donate to the 2006 candidates?
(2) Volunteers. Frost had a huge number of volunteers some of whom, if Frost had not been there, would have worked on other campaigns. Could he give Dems a list of his volunteers and personally urge them to work for current Dems?
(3) Records. Frost's campaign office compiled voter data and canvass sheets which would be invaluable for 2006.

Could some official Dem ask Frost about these 3 items?

Some other thoughts:
(1) Could we conduct exit polls in 2006 to get a sense of voting patterns? That may have answered to question of the Frost effect in 2004.
(2) I notice some Dem donors are contributing large sums to Strayhorn's primary campaign. Is there a chance she could run for gov as a Dem?
(3) Are there going to be 3 running in the Dem DA primary? We have a good chance of beating Bill Hill. I hope we are not going to beat up on each other in the primary. Is there some way to stop this and get behind one candidate?

Marie M.

Posted by: Marie Murphy on August 19, 2005 10:53 AM

Above is mentioned some great players but a few missing that I question. No one has brought up Jim Rice, I think he is the most deserving of the candiates remaining after 06', then Blyleven. As far as future HOF. What about someone like Craig Biggo, does he stand a chance, he is a prime example of greatness by longevity. But none the less he is in the tops for a lot of category's. As for young pitchers I don't see any yet. Besides R. Johnson, R. Clemens, G. Maddux, T. Galvine, P. Martinez. Where are the young dominating future Hall of Famers?

Posted by: John on September 28, 2006 10:09 AM