Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - HoF "Contemporary" ballot

Monday, November 07, 2022

Monday Quickie - HoF "Contemporary" ballot

Honestly I hate these things, but as you know from my general playoffs takes I'm a exclusionary guy.  I want fewer into these phony subjective things, not more. But I'll always lose because more people want more and more importantly more means more money. More guys coming to the inductions and hanging around, more fans doing the same. There isn't a good reason to go my way other than because you want to do it. 

That being said - the ballot is Belle, Bonds, Clemens,. Mattingly, McGriff, Murphy, Palmiero, and Schilling.  Enough has been said about Bonds - maybe best hitter of all time, definitely best of his generation, likely steroid user & wife beater; and Roger Clemens - Top 5ish starting pitcher of all time, likely steroid user and possible statutory rapist  - to make talking about them pointless. Same for Schilling - late but great bloomer who is one of the greatest postseason pitchers of all time, also defrauder of the state of RI and his employees and now professional online right-wing troll. We've all have our thoughts on whether they should be in the Hall of Fame given the totality of their being, but on pure baseball numbers it's Yes, Yes, and Probably So*

On the rest 

Albert Belle - as good as anyone at the plate for a 6 year period : .310 / .389 / .614 with 251 homers. But was strictly a hitter and he fell apart fast with a hip injury. There were some thoughts he was a steroid user but nothing more than that although he did use a corked bat in one of the more wild baseball stories** so pegging him as a cheater isn't out of nowhere. Generally though he's more famous for being a jerk, to media, to opponents, to his teammates, to trick or treaters; and such a jerk that he didn't get near the consideration having one of the greatest 6 year span should probably get you. 

Possibly better choice : Darrell Evans - Evans is like the anti Belle. His value doesn't come from a run of great seasons. He only had two of those and they were a decade apart. Instead his value comes from longevity playing 21 season in baseball and almost 2700 games, 34th all time. During the course of those 21 years he only had three seasons hitting below average. A 12 game rookie year, his 107 game last season (at age 42) and 1976. He knew the value of a walk  (12th all time) which may be appreciated in the game now, but still isn't when looking over stats and in his time was a good fielding 3B then worked and learned 1B.

Don Mattingly - Yankees fans will tell you no one was better in their prime than Donnie Baseball. He was a top notch defender and hit .337 / .381 / .560 while doing it and being the general field captain every team wants. The names around him - Boggs, Henderson, Raines, Ripken, Schmidt, Gwynn. All HoFers. But that prime was an exceptionally short 4 years. He'd begin having back issues and by 1990 was a shell of himself. He'd get his one playoff shot and hit like a madman (.417 with 4 doubles and a homer in 5 games) but the Yankees wouldn't get to the series until the following year after Mattingly retired. 

Possibly better choice : Keith Hernandez - considered by most the best fielding 1B of all time, unlike guys like Ozzie and Mazeroski, Keith could actually hit and put up way more value in 17 years while winning 2 world series

Fred McGriff - Unlike the other guys on this list, McGriff wasn't a flash in the pan. He was a great hitter for 7 seasons, then a good one for another 8.  He was durable playing 144 games or more every year from 1988 to 2002 with the exception of the strike year. Yes he was kind of a stiff at first, but his biggest crime is tailing off during the steroid prime were he could hit .295 with 28 homers and it be an ok year in baseball. Also he didn't walk much. 

Possibly Better Choice - John Olerud never had the concentrated high of McGriff - his best years were spread out across his career but place them in more conventional order and you can see his hitting was just a notch below Fred's. Meanwhile the guy offered patience and was a great fielder, and likely had more overall value in his career than Fred did.

Dale Murphy - Dale is another burst of half a decade excellence. From 1982 to 1987 there might not have been a better bat at the plate. And they guy could steal bases too. But the former catcher was misplaced in centerfield*** and after holding his own to start in 1980 he regressed significantly quickly. That didn't stop the notoriously bad Gold Glove voters from giving him 5 straight awards but the last two were particularly egregious as rather than the best CF in baseball he might have been the worst. Is that his fault though or Atlanta's? Bat wise he pretty much fell off a cliff after 1987 and struggled to hit above average. Honestly the worst guy in this pack.

Possibly Better Choice - just one? If you want a Braves CF that's fine. But the choice is clearly Andruw Jones. His peak wasn't as high as Murphy's but if we're being honest it wasn't that crazy a peak and Jones had some decent years otherwise. And Jones was an other worldly defender.

Rafael Palmiero - A steroid guy because otherwise there's no reason to keep him out. He could hit for average (a .288 average and 3000 hits) and power (569 total homers). In his prime he was a good fielder, though overrating of that led to probably the most embarrassing Golden Glove moment; Palmiero winning the 99 award at first for playing 28 bad games of defense there. If you are past steroids but have moral objections otherwise here's an easy vote for you. If not - well there you go 

Possibly Better Choice - If I want to give a steroid guy with no real other issues a pass to the Hall I'm probably going Manny Ramirez first. Sure he couldn't field but Manny was a special hitter putting up a peak like Albert Belle but for twice as long. And he had a fairly decent start and a decent couple seasons at the end as well. Put these together and it compares favorably with Dale Murphy's best 6 years - although Murphy wins out because he played more. But again this isn't considering the decade of better hitting we're ignoring. This is his worst third. 

All in all it's not the best 8 they could chose. Beyond the roid guys, it's heavy toward the standard hitting stats over everything else. There just isn't the same value given to fielding even from guys that played the game. There's also the sense of being the best for a short time period matters a lot. That's a subjective choice but probably in line with the idea of "Fame" if you are focused on that.  I can hit great in 2023 and 2027 and 2033 but it won't leave the same impact as doing it in 2023 2024 and 2025.  

 I love talking about this stuff. At the same time I think it's very silly. But that's sports isn't it. Things that really don't matter we take way too seriously. 

*I leave Schilling off even on pure numbers but again I run that tight ship. I'm tossing out guys that are already in. Under most people's halls he's in. And hell - your choices don't have to make sense

 ** Here you go, for those that don't know. 

 ***guess what? Former catchers aren't usually good CFers. 


Anonymous said...

Harper - do you know who selects this short list? Is it the same 16 member committee who nominates folks, or is there a "highest recent vote getters" or something?

I don't follow the HOF too closely, but my understanding is that HOF leadership (Joe Morgan et al) is pretty anti Bonds and Clemens. They shortened the window from 15 to 10, they rejected the writers' majority call to publish all ballots, and Morgan gave some "clarifying" guidance around the character clause a few years ago. I could be wrong, but I believe I remember the chatter around all that being mostly around how the interventions were bad for Bonds and Clemens.

So I'm just kind of surprised both of them are on the ballot, unless it was unavoidable in some way.

Harper said...

The 8 are chosen by the "Historic Overview Committee" which is a 10-12 reporters.

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