January 22nd, 2019 – by: Matt Carlin, Jeff Adams, Matt Webster, and Matt Haines
Just hearing the word Cooperstown evokes feelings of nostalgia in the hearts of baseball fans. From watching the induction ceremony and visiting the museum to playing in the legendary Cooperstown Dreams Park tournament and Doubleday field, all of us share fond memories of this small town in Upstate, NY. While the town and museum itself are an amazing tribute to baseball, the main attraction is undoubtedly the Plaque Gallery. Before the announcement on Tuesday, myself, Jeff Adams, Matt Webster and Matt Haines decided to throw our hat in the ring and submit the official SOTG 2019 Hall of Fame ballot (cc: @NotMrTIbbs).
The Ballot: We each submitted our own personal ballots. If a player appeared on 75% of our individual ballots (3 out of 4, quite the sample size) we included him on our official ballot. For the players who we put on our personal ballots, we stated our case for them as well.
The discussion here is not if Rivera will be a first ballot Hall of Famer, but whether he will be the first unanimous entrant into the Hall. With an MLB record 652 saves, 205 ERA+ and 1.000 WHIP, Rivera was arguably the most dominant pitcher ever during his 19 year career. The fact that he did this with only one pitch makes it even more remarkable. A five time World Series champion, Rivera only got better when the lights were brightest. Mo owns a 0.70 ERA and 0.76 WHIP in 141 postseason innings. His JAWS score is 42.5, 32% higher than the average HOF reliever. I can go on forever. Mariano Rivera deserves to be the first unanimous decision in the Hall of Fame. – MW
Roy Halladay’s Hall of Fame case is simple: He was without a doubt the best pitcher in baseball for a 6 year stretch from 2006-2011. His peak was as great that any pitcher has ever put together. During that time, he never finished out of the top 5 in Cy Young voting (winning one in 2010) and went to the All-Star Game all but one year. He averaged 236 innings and went almost 7 1/3 innings every start. In the other 10 years, he nearly as good going to three more All-Star Games and winning another Cy young award. His win/loss % sits at 20th all-time (between Scherzer and Clemens) yet his teams finished 3rd or worse in the division 13 out of 16 years. “Doc” Halladay was a flat-out winner and deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. -JA
In 1973, gas cost 38 cents a gallon, The Exorcist was the top movie and the song of the year was Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree. In 2019, the DH will turn 46 years old, and one of the best of all time is still not in Cooperstown. For the record, I believe Edgar Martinez was the best, with a 147 to 141 advantage in OPS+ and a nearly 13 win advantage in career bWAR (68.3 to 55.4) over David Ortiz. One of the more impressive Edgar stats in my opinion is the below chart from Jay Jaffe’s Fangraphs article:
|Avg. HOF 3B||67.5||42.8||55.2|
|Avg HOF CI||67.2||42.7||55.4|
|Avg HOF Hitter||67.2||42.4||54.8|
In addition to having been a seven time all star, five time silver slugger and two time batting champion, the DH Award (as well as a street in Seattle) is named in his honor. But if that isnt enough, here is what Mariano Rivera has to say about Edgar Martinez: “The only guy that I didn’t want to face, when a tough situation comes, was Edgar Martínez…. It didn’t matter how I threw the ball. I couldn’t get him out. Oh my God, he had more than my number. He had my breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
Times have changed, the DH is a position. Get this man a plaque. – MC
According to Ryan Thibodaux’s HOF Ballot tracker, Mussina may add a narrow miss to the Hall this year to his flirts with perfection, 300 victories, a World Series, and a Cy Young Award. Although Mussina does not have the knee jerk reaction (besides his 12-6 knuckle curve) of his contemporaries, his 18 year career spent all in the cramped confines of the AL East warrants induction. Mussina’s 82.7 WAR and 123 ERA+ put him in the company of Bob Gibson and Juan Marichal, and his 162 game average was 226 IP with 7.1 K/9. With his signature finish in a fielding position, Mussina was a superb fielder, winning 7 Gold Gloves and finishing in the top 6 for Cy Young nine times. Mussina’s career consisted of durability and consistency, which he capped off by reaching the elusive 20 game win plateau during his final season in 2008. I remember as a kid watching Mike Mussina pitch and always asking my Dad if the fans were yelling boo or Moose. Hopefully on Tuesday we will hear a resounding MOOOOOSEEEE from the BBWAA. – MC
20 years from now, when I take my own family to Cooperstown (just as I was fortunate enough to experience with my parents), the thought that we will not being able to stop in front of plaques for the greatest hitter and pitcher of my generation (and arguably all time) drives me insane. Clemens put up video game numbers with a 139.6 career WAR, 102.8 JAWS, 4,076 strikeouts and a 354-108 career record over 24 seasons. The seven time Cy Young award winner was the most consistently feared pitcher for parts of three decades. Especially with the election of Bud Selig (the face of the movement to allow the influx of PEDs to “revive” baseball, just to immediately throw the players under the bus for using legal substances), the election of the Rocket is long overdue. – MC
As someone who played in the Steroid Era before testing was in place, I believe Bonds deserves a plaque despite the tainted reputation. A 7 time MVP and 14 time All-Star, Bonds is clearly the most feared hitter to ever play the game of baseball. He owns a career .444 OBP, 2,558 walks (688 of the intentional variety, one of which with the bases loaded), and of course 762 homeruns. Bonds’ WPA of 127.7 is the highest of all time and he owns a 162.8 bWAR. The Bonds debate comes down to whether or not PED users should be voted into the Hall. This has been a polarizing topic to say the least, but Bonds has increased his vote total by 20.2% over the last five years to 56.4% in 2018. While 2019 may not be his year, Barry Bonds deserves to be amongst the legends of the sport. – MW
When the phrase, “Larry ‘Wheels’ Walker” comes across my ears, my mind shoots towards his impressive 72.7 career WAR along with his 58.7 JAWS and 140 wRC+. With stats like these, Larry Walker was a juggernaut on the field. Along with these stats comes an impressive track record for The Canadian Clubber. Three batting titles, seven gold gloves, and a five-time all star speaks for itself. Not to mention, his outlook looks positive, as he had one of the largest jumps of any of the candidates rising 12.2% last year. Unfortunately, with only 2 years left on the ballot, Larry would need to receive a major push in order to foresee a plausible place into the hall. -MH
To sum up Manny Ramirez into one word, it would be, “that dude”. It took him only two tries to achieve his first multi-homer game, and he did not stop there. Throughout his career, Manny posted a .312 batting average while mashing 555 homers, and there could be (probably not) more to come. But this is an analytics article, so let’s jump into some of the numbers. Manny put up a career WAR of 69.4, trailing only two non-hall of famers: Pete Rose and Barry Bonds. His career OPS+ is tied for 20th all time at 154, and boasts a JAWS of 54.7, 1.2 points higher than your average hall of famer. All said and done, Manny not only outperformed the competition of his era, but outperformed the men that came before him. For that reason, Manny has my nonfunctional vote as a member of the 2019 HOF Class. – MH
Others Receiving Votes:
I included Andruw Jones on my ballot as someone who has a fascinating case. With a peak WAR of 46.5, Jones is above average for an inducted CF (44.6). However, his career is a tale of incredible peak, rapid decline. As a 19 year old, Jones burst onto the scene by breaking Mickey Mantle’s record for youngest player to homer in a World Series (he hit two). Through his age 30 season, Jones amassed 342 home runs and over 1,330 hits yet was out of baseball at age 36. However, where Jones really separates himself is on the defensive side of the ball. Often called the best defensive center fielder via the eye test, Jones also ranks first overall in dWAR (24.2) and DRS (236). While Jones is floundering around 8.5% (via Ryan Thibadoux’s tracker), I believe that he has the defense of Vizquel with a far superior offensive peak and warrants much more consideration. – MC
Scott Rolen is one of those players that is guaranteed to get a strange look when I say he was one of the most underrated players of my lifetime. Rolen was a former Rookie of the Year that amassed 8 Gold Gloves and 7 All-Star appearances across a 17-year career. In some ways, he was overshadowed by contemporaries like Adrian Beltre or David Wright, but Scott was a stabilizing force for every team that played both sides of the ball extremely well with a career OPS+ of 122 and a fielding percentage of .968. By JAWS, he is a top 10 third baseman which is an underrepresented position in the Hall. Rolen may not be the biggest name on the ballot, but deserves to get in at some point. – JA
Todd Helton, like any other Rockies player of past and present, has to deal with the infamous Coors Field bias. How can you take his stats seriously when he is playing a mile above sea level and balls fly out of the park like you’re on the moon? Well, we should take Helton seriously. His career OPS+, which adjusts for ballpark, is 133. The only other first baseman since 1900 with an OPS+ of 133 and 9,000 plate appearances are: Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Albert Pujols, Jeff Bagwell, Willie McCovey, and Fred McGriff. That’s pretty good company to keep. Although he was overshadowed by the big boppers during the Steroid Era, Helton put up ridiculous numbers from 1998-2004. Over this seven year stretch, he averaged 157 games a year, hit .340 with 35 HRs, had a 149 OPS+, was a five time All-Star and won three Gold Gloves. A model of consistency and durability throughout his entire career, voters should see through their Coors Field bias and put Helton in the Hall. – MW
Billy Wagner might have the toughest road of any of these players. By looking at the numbers alone it might appear that Wagner is destined for the Hall of Very Good. Most people would look at the number of saves or maybe even WAR to judge him, but I think his strongest case is one of comparison. Over the course of 16 years, Wagner put up a FIP and WHIP better that Mo or Hoffman. By JAWS, Billy is a long shot for the Hall, but since Hoffman has been voted in, he has an argument. At the very least, he was a phenomenal closer with fewer chances to get the number of saves that got Hoffman in. – JA
While Kent probably has one of the tougher roads to the Hall, I had to push for him as a big hitting second baseman. His defense was average at best, yet he was able to stick at second base for his whole career behind his bat. He leads all second baseman with 377 career home runs and is ninth in OPS+ at 123. He had 12 seasons of 20 homers and 3 of 30 homers. From 1997-2005, Kent had a higher bWAR (41.6) than Hall of Fame second basemen Biggio and Alomar. Hopefully the voters begin to dig deeper into Kent’s candidacy and reward him for being one of, if not the best, offensive second baseman in baseball history. – MW
Sammy, wait for it, SOSA! What can I say, I’m a sucker for homers and with 609, few men can say they hit more than Slammin’ Sammy. While I was a bit too young for his legendary 66 homer 1998 season or 64 home run 2001 season, I still remember being fresh out the womb and watching the man hit his iconic 600th home run into the Texas lights. Granted, Sammy may be a bit of a nostalgia pick for me. His career WAR trails the average HOF right fielder by a staggering 14.1 and his JAWS rating fall 6.6 points below the average HOF right fielder, but again, homers. – MH
Gary Sheffield is responsible for some for some of the most electrifying seasons for baseball fans both on and off the field. From the beginning of his MLB tenure, Sheffield was never shy from the spotlight, both a blessing and a curse. Because of this outspokenness accompanied by recent controversy, the HOF committee has repelled his induction, with the future outlook seeming baren. -MH
Andy Pettitte has a face that will make you cry. From his iconic pickoff move, to his shear dominance on the mound, Pettitte continues to be a household name within the baseball lexicon. While his 60.2 WAR remains below average for HOFers, his 1.35 WHIP with a 0.78 HR/9 shows just a vestibule of the aura when the Texan was on the mound. -MH
Over the course of his 20 Major League Season, Curt Schilling had an ERA+ below 118 only 4 times. In other words, he was at least 20 percent better that the rest of the league for 16 years. During a 10 year stretch from 1995-2004, Schilling was consistently solid heading to the All-Star Game 6 times and finishing top 5 in Cy Young voting 4 times. Overall, Curt was apart of 3 World Series teams winning WS MVP in 2001 and breaking the curse in 2004. Schilling’s post-career has injured his voting numbers in recent years, but we should let his career speak for him. If we do, we will see that he deserving as one of the most consistently good pitchers of the last three decades. – JA
Cover Photo courtesy of zimbio.com.
All stats and data courtesy of Baseball Reference and Fangraphs.