Nationals Baseball: June 2020

Monday, June 15, 2020

Hall of Fame - Part 3

Lots of guys you can't expect Bill James to have bet on getting in from here on out.  More interesting is the guys he bet on that failed. 

2016 - McGriff, Gooden (Piazza, Griffey)

Piazza was really good young catcher but it's hard to bet on a catcher with two years under his belt.  Griffey was pretty much on his way and he played a good long while, so I imagine 2018 was just a hedging of bets.

McGriff was a guy who in 1994 had just put up 7 straight years that set him up for the Hall, but didn't quite make him a lock.  His back half of his career has mostly good with a couple of very good years but nothing like pre-1994. Honestly he was one more great year away from 500 HR and probably getting in but without that he only got to 40%.

Gooden was a long shot by James. It makes more sense if you think he put him on this earlier like some of those guys that didn't stick. At the end of 1993 Gooden was only 28, had been extremely durable and had 154 wins. 12 wins a season for another 10 years isn't crazy and that gets him to 275 wins at age 38 and a decent shot at 300. Bump it to 14 wins a year and he's there. But in 1994 he got suspended cocaine, and then again. Age, injuries and addiction took it from there.

2017 - Thomas, Sierra (Pudge, Raines, Bagwell) 

Pudge was a three year AS and GG and really young but you don't bet on a catcher that had one above average year as a hitter.  He had Raines in earlier (see first post). Raines looked pretty good for 3K hit but spent his last half-decade playing half-time based on injury. That and clearly not being Rickey (who is in a top tier HoF player) slowed his entry. Bagwell is in in 2019.  A good bet based off his great career start.

Frank Thomas I talked about last time. 

Yes, that is Ruben Sierra. Ummm... Yeah. The thing is Ruben started really young - playing 113 games as a 20 year old. Through 1993 he had played at least 151 games each season and at 27 stood at 1300 hits and 170 homers. Doubling that only takes him to age 35 and gives him 2600 hits and 340 homers. In other words he would Biggio his way to 3000.  But basically starting in 1994 he'd never really be healthy again and get no where close - out the first year.

2018 - Griffey Jr, Alomar (Hoffman, Chipper, Vlad, Thome)

By 1994  - Thome had shown he was a great slugger, but hadn't yet put up a full season. Chipper had 8 games under his belt. Hoffman was a 2 year reliever at 26 with 25 saves under his belt. Vlad hadn't played yet. No shame not picking any of these.

Griffey and Alomar I talked about before

2019 - Bagwell, Juan Gonalez (Rivera, Edgar Martinez, Mussina, Halladay).

By 1994 - Rivera and Halladay hadn't played yet.  Edgar Martinez had a great 1992 but was turning 32 with 600 hits and 60 homers to his name and was a poor fielder. He then ran off seven great offensive years but too late for James to see.  Mussina is an interesting case. If you WERE going to pick a young pitcher Moose was as good a choice as anyone. In four seasons he was durable and won 50+ games and looked to be maturing into the type of pitcher that could do that regularly. But James didn't bet on pitcher. The youngest arm he picked to make it, McDowell, started in the majors in 1987. 

Bagwell we've talked about. 

Juan Gone? By 1994 he was a premiere power hitter leading baseball twice in homers and at 140 at age 24 seemed a good bet to easily clear 300 and maybe threaten 500.  It was a gamble but a decent one. By the time he was heading into his age 32 season he was just a couple homer under 400.  500 seemed guaranteed and loftier goals not out of the question for a guy who average 36 homers a year for over a decade. He would hit only 40 more.  Given the suspicion of steroid use that was enough to make him a non-entity on the ballot, peaking at just over 5% before going off.

So how did Bill James do?  As expected he did well with players that he knew the entire or nearly the entire careers of.  But once he got to knowing only about 50% things broke down. Because of that uncertainty he probably leaned too heavy on what he did know putting in guys late like Kaat, Parker, Simmons, and Murphy. As we got even further out - heading past 20 years of voting (or 15 years of playing plus wait time) it was a little pointless as guys fit entire careers into time he didn't see. He also didn't pick much pitching, which is unrelaible, but left gaps that guys other people might have picked would fill.

Best pick - probably Eckersley who was pretty old in 1994 and a good bet but not a sure thing. At that age he could lose it immediately and it would have been a tougher call.

Worst - Al Oliver might be it because he didn't miss anything of his career and had him in in 7 years and he didn't last one round but I think Oliver was just underrated.  I'd go with Butler, a guy who James loved as a player but stats wise is a tough call.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Hall of Fame - Part 2

2011 - Bonds, Joe Carter (Alomar, Blyleven).

What he'd miss on Blyleven? Nothing really A really good pitcher for a long time, he's a close call. He got in here on his last ballot, so keeping him out isn't much of a miss.

What he miss on Alomar? James had him in a few years later. How'd he get in now? Alomar did retire a little early at 36 and in the next 7 years after 1994, Alomar had 4 years better than anything James saw before making this list. The combo pushes him ahead a few years

What he miss on Bonds? Steroids - also I assume James thought was a first ballot type but he'd play longer a couple more years than James probably thought he would.

What he miss on Carter? A bunch. He had been off the ballot for years by 2011. After 94 he'd never have another good year which James probably didn't guess because he was good right up to 1994. Given he was sort of borderline one or two more good years would have made a big difference

2012 - Butler, Cone (Larkin).

What he miss on Larkin? From 95-98 be fantastic including an MVP which set him up for a HoF career, something James couldn't have projected.

What he miss on Brett Butler? A misjudgment of the voting body. Butler was underappreciated but like Carter was bordeline and like Carter would be out on his first ballot in 2003.

What he miss on Cone? Cone was a tough one. He pitched well enough for a few years after 94 to make the case but got unlucky with wins. Then at 36 he'd fall off the cliff. Would 230-240 wins, which is what James probably had him around, have been enough?

2013 - Trammell, Whitaker (noone)

What he miss on these guys? Both these guys were done not long after 1994 and that wouldn't have surprised James given Trammell's decline and Whitaker's health. Just misjudged the voting body again. Whitaker was off the ballot immediately in 2001. Trammell hung around all 15 years but peaked only at 40%. Trammell would get in by the vet committee but Whitaker is still on the outside

2014 - Gossage, Mattingly (Maddux, Glavine, Thomas)

What he miss on Maddux? Nothing really. Knew he'd be in and rather quickly.

What he miss on Thomas? Not much here either.  Thomas would only have 4+ years under his belt by 1994 and they were all great so the call wasn't hard. Consider the later induction a hedging of bets for all that could happen.

What he miss on Glavine? Glavine was 3 time 20 game winner with a Cy Young by 1994 but James probably didn't have him hanging around long enough to get close to 300. Instead he got over and in addition to the great early pitching made him an easy in.

What he miss on Gossage? My guess is that the surprise vote on Sutter pushed Gossage earlier than everyone would have thought in the early 00s (this would have been about the end of his ballot time) Getting him in at all was a good guess in my book

What he miss on Mattingly? He probably thought Mattingly had a few more years left in him after a decent 1994, but injuries never left and he'd throw in the towel in 1995.  2700+ hits 250+ homers with the dominant mid 80s run might have been enough to eventually get him in but 2000/200 wasn't.

2015 - McDowell, Maddux (Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz, Biggio).

What he miss on McDowell? Pretty simple McDowell broke at age 30.

What he miss on Randy Johnson? Basically everything. Randy wasn't great before 1995. He was getting better sure and eating a bunch of innings but 1995 was awesome and 1997 was awesome, and oh yeah 1999-2002. There's 5 Cy Youngs in there.

What he miss on Pedro? At this point we're getting close to guys he didn't see enough of. Pedro has three seasons by 1994 and was really good but it's hard to bet on just 3 seasons unless they are transcendent. Pedro's HoF run would be 97-03

What he miss on Smoltz? Smoltz wasn't nearly as accomplished as Maddux or even Glavine by 1994 with only one really good year. He'd find himself in 95 and then pitch forever.

What he miss on Biggio? You knew what Biggio was - a just under .300 hitter with doubles power. In 1994 you'd be hard pressed to put Biggio's career from that at anything HoF worthy. But he'd play to 41 and get a TON of at bats so he'd reach 3000 hits and million doubles I think. 

I've run out of time.  more tomorrow.

2016 - McGriff, Gooden

2017 - Thomas, Sierra

2018 - Griffey Jr, Alomar

2019 - Bagwell, Juan Gonalez

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Hall of Fame

Games are getting close, and I think it's going to happen one way or another (50 game might be it). But in the meantime I got bored and on Twitter ended up putting up a pic of a Bill James Hall of Fame guess list and saw that we had passed the end point.  So why not see how he did?

This was written in 1994 but as you'll see it was clearly it was started before then. So imagine he knows everyone eligible through either the 1999 or 2000. After that he starts guessing not only how increasing careers go, but also when people retire, and how many years it takes for them to get in.

1995 - Schmidt, Rice (Schmidt in).  Schmidt was obvious first ballot. I've said my piece on Rice (what you weren't reading this blog 10 years ago?).  James' idea that he was a first ballot was well off what the writers thought. He'd get 30% this year and would get in way later in 2009 on his last ballot.

1996 - Sutton, Rose (No one). Rose was a hope. James at the time thought Rose was railroaded.  Sutton got to 300 and was a definite in. The question was how long it would take. James gave him third ballot. Instead he was stuck in the 60%s at this point with Niekro and Perez. He would get in a couple years later in 1998

1997 - Garvey, Niekro (Niekro) Niekro was same boat as Sutton and James nailed this one. Garvey never got over the hump of being nothing more than a good hitter and not for a particularly long time. He was at 35.3% here and would peak at 42%

1998 - Gary Carter, Oliver (Sutton) Carter would deservedly get in as one of the best catchers but it would take a while (2003). He was at 42% here. Al Oliver was like Garvey - good hitter, longer career but less team success. His inclusion here shows that this list was made sometime in 1990/1991 and then updated poorly when it got closer to print. Oliver was undeservedly knocked out first ballot in 1991.

1999 - Ryan, Brett (Ryan, Brett, Yount) Almost nailed it. Yount also sneaked in with 77%.

2000 - Yount, Fisk (Fisk, Perez).  Tony Perez is a real weak choice and you can understand why James never had him in but last big name from the Big Red Machine got him in with 77%

Some guessing definitely starts here.

2001 - Dawson, Winfield (Puckett, Winfield)  Puckett is probably remembered as a better player than he was but he was clearly on the path to near 3000 hits, was loved, and had big postseason moments, so James had it right. It was only his shocking retirement in 1995 that puts him in at this point and not later. Dawson would ill advisedly try to play another year in 1996 so wasn't on this ballot. He'd have to fight the steroid led HR explosion to get in in 2010.

2002 - Murray, Ozzie Smith (Smith)  He got Smith right.  Murray would be first ballot but would like Dawson push a year longer

2003 - Parker, Kaat (Murray, Gary Carter)  Kaat would peak at a mere 30% and drop off the ballot here with only 26%  Dave Parker peaked in his second year 24% and would not get in and in his last year (2011) he'd be at 15%.  This may be a product of James going with two in a year but clearly his worst guess set.

2004 - Eckersly, Simmons (Eckersley, Molitor) - Eckersley right.  Simmons would actually drop off the ballot way back in 1994. The veterans committee would put him in in 2019. Not sure if he missed when Molitors would retire or how long it'd take for him to get enough votes. My guess is latter. Molitor had a weirdly great age 39 season that made his 3000 hits not feel like the death march some players end up with.

2005 - Boggs, Ripken (Boggs, Sandberg) Nails Boggs. Ripken was an obvious HOF but bouyed by a great hitting half season in 1999 (surrounded by a very mediocre second half of his career - it'd be interesting if he'd have been so guaranteed a HoF if he didn't have the consecutive games played record. He'd have made it sure - but first ballot?  Not sure) he would play a couple more blah years putting off his enshrinement. Sandberg sneaks in here at 76%
2006 - Henderson, Molitor (Sutter) - You can forgive James for not putting in Sutter, an unispired choice, who gets in with 76% on nearly his last ballot in a year filled with no one special.  Rickey, a definite first ballot guy, would play for 3 more years beyond this. (in the majors - more in other places. Rickey is a baseball player)

2007 - Gwynn, Clemens (Gwynn Ripken) - Get Gwynn right. Clemens would go SIX more seasons purely based on fancy training I've heard. People don't like excessive training so they haven't voted him in.  Jealous!

2008 - Puckett, Murphy (Gossage) - James did think Gossage would get in but much later. He was filling a gap  The early retirement of Puckett took him out of here and this was the start of a relatively slow run as a lot of 80s stars had issues having full great careers. This would have been a decade into Murphy's try at enshrinement and James took a gamble that he'd slowly gain support and get in.  Nope. Peaked in year 2 at 23% off the ballot in 2013.

2009 - Morris, Lee Smith (Henderson Rice) Rice at this point was helped by a lack of strong candidates just getting in with 76% in his last year. Morris would have to wait another decade to get in, finally doing it in 2018.  Smith got one more All-Star year after James would have made this list but it didn't really change anything about his career.  He'd peak at 50% but be the last player to go 0-15 in ballots. They now only get 10 years.  But Lee would get in the very next year on the vet committee ballot.

2010 - Raines, Sandberg (Dawson).  What an intersting trio. Dawson pegged in years ago by James, finally got in here finally cracking 75%. Sandberg, in reverse was expected to drag a little but got in several years before this. He had a mid career lull that James probably thought would have more impact given Ryne didn't have a long period of greatness. Raines would actually take until 2017 but he'd get in with a huge 86% when everyone realized not being Rickey didn't mean this guy wasn't great.

I'll break here and do the rest tomorrow. Really some solid guessing even if I think it wasn't that hard in 1994 to get to these names here. After this it gets a bit tougher as these guys on the ballot could have 10 years that James didn't see. You start judging less and less career from here on out.