Hall of Fame Metric Similarity Scores

January 7, 2018
Quick Intro
 
This article poses a simple question.  What if you took several familiar metrics developed by Bill James and combined them with another one of his most popular tools?  
 
The answer:  Hall of Fame Metric Similarity Scores.
 
And, basically, that’s it.  But it’s still going to take me a while to lead up to it, so if you’re the type who likes to cut to the chase, there’s a lot here that can be skipped.
 
And, at the end of the article, after all this focus on similarity…..there will be a few words on something "different".
 
The Toolkit
 
Anyone familiar with Bill James is likely familiar with a menagerie of methods that he developed over the years, which are displayed in the "Hall of Fame Statistics" section on a player’s baseball-reference.com page:
 
  • The Hall of Fame Monitor
  • Hall of Fame Career Standards
  • Black Ink Test
  • Gray Ink Test
 
Now, not all of those metrics are necessarily limited to Hall of Fame candidate evaluation (although the first 2 have "Hall of Fame" in their title, which is a dead giveaway), but certainly all 4 are referenced frequently for that purpose. 
 
In addition, many moons ago, Bill developed the popular tool "Similarity Scores", which occupies its own section on a player’s baseball-reference.com profile page, and again, while not specifically limited to evaluation of Hall of Fame candidates, it is frequently used for that purpose. 
 
This article is about using the information in those tools to try to come up with a different type of "Similarity Score" than the one you know and (presumably) love.  This "Similarity Score" leverages the other 4 Hall of Fame "statistics". 
 
I’m calling it "Hall of Fame Metric Similarity Scores", which is a bit of a mouthful.
 
A few notes:
 
The scope of this article is position players.  If it goes well, I hope to look at pitchers in a future article, but I thought position players would be a more interesting place to start.
 
As far as a general goal, the intent here is not to drive the discussion, nor to try and come up with definitive answers, but to hopefully contribute something to the discussion, to perhaps look at things from a little different angle, and, yes, to even have a little fun, because one of the interesting things with any similarity score is seeing who the comparison players (or "comps") turn out to be. 
 
From my perspective, there are no definitive answers as to who should be in or out of the Hall of Fame.  In the discussion and review of Hall of Fame candidates, there are facts, and there is information, but it ultimately comes down to what each voter places importance on, and, ultimately, an opinion.  No two people look at the Hall of Fame in exactly the same way, and we all place different importance on different things, and to varying degrees.  The Hall of Fame is not just for the quantifiably great.  It serves a great many different types.
 
But first, before diving into the details, here’s a little background on what led to this…..
 
Rolen on the River
 
It was nagging at me.  He reminded me of someone…..
 
When I sat down a while back to submit my entry for our annual Bill James Online BBWAA prediction contest, I was trying to figure out what percentage to predict for Scott Rolen in his inaugural year on the ballot.  Those are often the most challenging candidates….the ones with no prior vote history. 
 
How would the voters assess him?  How would "traditional" voters, for lack of a better term, evaluate him, and how would more "analytic"-type voters size him up?  Would he make a strong debut?  Would voters largely bypass him, especially in the context of what is generally considered a still-crowded ballot? 
 
I decided on a prediction of 21%.  The average prediction of our membership entries was slightly higher at 23.7%. 
 
It looks like we may have been overly optimistic.  After running at around 20% early in the tracking, Rolen is currently polling at about 10% according to the latest Hall of Fame tracker results.
 
Rolen has a legitimate Hall of Fame case.  He has the 10th highest career rWAR among all third basemen, and that’s even with classifying Paul Molitor as a third baseman, which is certainly debatable (Molitor played more games at third base than at any other defensive position, but had more games at DH than at third base)
 
Here are the top 20 third basemen using the JAWS listing on baseball-reference.com, but sorting by career rWAR, with Hall of Famers noted by an asterisk. (Note – Edgar Martinez is classified as a third baseman in that listing although he, like Molitor, had a lot more games at DH than at third base.  Also, Dick Allen is classified as a third baseman although he ended up playing more career games at first base than at third.  So, you can decide whether or not they should be included):
 
Rank
Name
Career rWAR
1
Mike Schmidt*
106.5
2
Eddie Mathews*
96.4
3
Adrian Beltre
93.9
4
Wade Boggs*
91.1
5
George Brett*
88.4
6
Chipper Jones
85.0
7
Brooks Robinson*
78.4
8
Paul Molitor*
75.4
9
Ron Santo*
70.4
10
Scott Rolen
70.0
11
Edgar Martinez
68.3
12
Graig Nettles
68.0
13
Buddy Bell
66.1
14
Home Run Baker*
62.8
15
Ken Boyer
62.8
16
Sal Bando
61.4
17
Dick Allen
58.7
18
Darrell Evans
58.5
19
Robin Ventura
55.9
20
Ron Cey
53.5
 
With Chipper Jones set to be inducted in 2018, and with Adrian Beltre a virtual certainty when he eventually appears on the ballot, that would leave Rolen as the highest-ranking third baseman by career rWAR who’s not in the Hall.  It essentially puts Rolen in a fairly tight cluster by this measure (even if you exclude Edgar Martinez) of Ron Santo (who’s in), Graig Nettles, and Buddy Bell (who are not in, although they certainly have their advocates).
 
OK.  That’s career rWAR.  What about the JAWS third baseman ranking, which averages career and 7-year peak rWAR?
 
Rank
Name
JAWS
1
Mike Schmidt*
82.5
2
Eddie Mathews*
75.4
3
Wade Boggs*
73.6
4
Adrian Beltre
71.8
5
George Brett*
70.8
6
Chipper Jones
65.8
7
Ron Santo*
62.1
8
Brooks Robinson*
62.1
9
Paul Molitor*
57.5
10
Scott Rolen
56.8
11
Edgar Martinez
56.0
12
Graig Nettles
55.1
13
Home Run Baker*
54.8
14
Ken Boyer
54.5
15
Buddy Bell
53.2
16
Sal Bando
52.9
17
Dick Allen
52.3
18
Darrell Evans
47.8
19
Robin Ventura
47.2
20
Jimmy Collins*
45.8
 
That’s pretty similar, both in the names and the order, to the career list ranking.  This would put Rolen in a general group (even if you exclude Molitor, Martinez, and Allen) of Graig Nettles, Home Run Baker, Ken Boyer, and Buddy Bell.  So, using either of these ways of looking at it, Rolen would rank as somewhere around a top-10 third baseman, a pretty lofty status.
 
Still…..something didn’t feel right.  I know, we’re not supposed to necessarily "feel" things as analysts.  But, I can’t help it.  I have to say, Rolen never "seemed" like a Hall of Famer to me while his career was in progress.  I suspect many voters feel that way as well.  And the Hall of Fame, like it or not, comes with a very high degree of subjectivity.   I’m sure many voters put a lot of weight on what their gut tells them.  That’s the nature of the beast.
 
Now, Rolen was a very good player, had a very good career, and certainly had his share of highlights.  Rookie of the Year.  7-time All Star.  8-time Gold Glove winner.  He had a fantastic season in 2004 for the Cardinals, hitting .314/.409 OBP/.598 Slugging, with 34 HR’s, 124 RBI, winning the Gold Glove at third base, and finishing 4th in the MVP voting that year (that was a memorable MVP vote, as Barry Bonds won, Adrian Beltre was 2nd, and St. Louis teammates Albert Pujols, Rolen, and Jim Edmonds finished 3-4-5).  The Cardinals won 105 games, and reached the World Series.  That was clearly Rolen’s best year, but he had other good ones.
 
As both career rWAR and his JAWS figure imply, he provided a lot of quantifiable value.  He has an solid resume.  But, he just didn’t strike me as a Hall of Famer when his career was in progress.
 
I had the opportunity to get a closer look at Rolen after he was traded from Toronto to my favorite team, the Cincinnati Reds.  The Reds traded for him in late July 2009.  To tell you the truth, I’m not exactly sure why the Reds made that trade.  I remember many other Reds observers being puzzled as well.  You can’t really say they were attempting the strategy of picking up a veteran to help for the stretch run to try and make the playoffs, as the Reds were in 5th place and 10 games out of first place at the time of the trade, and they eventually finished in 4th place, 13 games back.  So, it would seem it was a trade made with future years in mind.
.
Except that, well……Rolen was already 34 years old, and injury-prone.  The primary player sent in the other direction was a 26-year old who was pretty good with the bat, but struggling mightily defensively, and was starting to struggle offensively as well, and there was some feeling that the organization was getting a little frustrated with him.
 
His name: Edwin Encarnacion
 
Oops.
 
Not the Reds’ brightest decision, although, to be fair, if the Reds had kept him, I’m not exactly sure where he would have played defensively, since he wasn’t working out at third base, and they had a 25-year old Joey Votto already established at first base (Votto was in his 2nd full season at that point).  I’m not sure if Edwin could have played left field adequately….probably not….but I would have been willing to give it a try.  It’s rough when you end up kicking a future 30+ HR a year hitter out of your organization in exchange for someone wrapping up his career.  But, I digress…..
 
At the time, I do think there was at least a little bit of genuine excitement in Reds Country about obtaining Rolen, even if it seemed to lack long range vision.  He was on the downside of his career, to be sure, but he was a "real" third baseman (which Encarnacion clearly wasn’t), and he was playing well for Toronto.  He played OK for the Reds down the stretch in 2009, and then had a really nice bounce-back year in 2010…20 HR, 83 RBI, and a .285/.358/.497 slash line.   He won his 8th (and final) Gold Glove, appeared on some MVP ballots (he finished 14th), made the All-Star team.  The Reds improved to 91 wins to take the Central Division crown.  A nice year.
 
But, that was about it for him.  As was the case for much of his career, Rolen missed a lot of time over his last couple of seasons due to injuries.  He’s 12th in career defensive games at third base, which is pretty far up the list, but part of that is due to the fact that he never played a single game at any other defensive position, where as a lot of other players who are classified primarily as third basemen tended to get in some time at other positions, especially as they aged.  Among players listed as primarily third basemen on the JAWS listing, Rolen falls to 26th in total games played when you include games played at all positions.  And, when you look at the playing record over his 17 years, you can literally see and feel his injuries in the data.
 
But, even aside from that, something didn’t seem to fit.  Something about his career didn’t seem like a Hall of Famer’s career.  He reminded me of someone else whose career didn’t resonate with voters. 
 
He reminded me a lot of Lou Whitaker.
 
Sweet Lou
 
In one way, Lou Whitaker actually had a pretty good year this past year.  No, he’s still not in the Hall of Fame….yet.  True, he was not included on the Modern Era ballot while teammates Alan Trammell and Jack Morris were (and both subsequently elected).  But…..he’s staying in the discussion.  He’s getting a lot of attention.  People are talking about him.  I think his time is coming.  It may take a few more iterations….but I think his time will come.
 
Alan Trammell was elected this year by the Modern Baseball Era Committee.  In my opinion, this is an important step towards the possibility of Lou Whitaker eventually getting elected.   Even though there are notable distinctions in their cases, the similarity of their numbers will continue to prompt the question of why Trammell, but not Whitaker?
 
In addition to the similarity of their numbers, Trammell and Whitaker are inexorably linked, their careers in near perfect alignment.   What other historical keystone combinations are thought of as a duo more than Trammell & Whitaker?  Tinker & Evers?  Maybe.  Aparicio & Fox?  Reese & Robinson?  Concepcion & Morgan?  Russell & Lopes?  Groat & Mazeroski?  Rogell & Gehringer?  Rollins & Utley?  Jeter & Cano?  Trammell & Whitaker probably top them all as a duo when considering both longevity and quality.  Trammell’s election will likely be used as leverage for Whitaker to join him, much in the same way that Barry Larkin’s election made it difficult for many to understand why Larkin was in while Trammell was kept out.  You can see the dominoes falling, the chain reaction in motion….. 
 
Whitaker’s case has certainly received a lot of attention in recent years.  The fact that he was a "one and done" way back in the 2001 ballot has been labeled by many as an "embarrassing oversight" by the BBWAA, and there have been many vocal supporters that would like to see Whitaker get his due.  Whitaker only received 2.9% of the vote in his lone year on the ballot.  He certainly deserved a better fate in that regard.  He deserved to at least stay on the ballot and have his case reviewed in future elections, a chance to see if he could build some support as others have done, like Bert Blyleven did, like Tim Raines did, and like what Edgar Martinez is currently doing.  But, Whitaker’s case didn’t register with the BBWAA voters in that year.  They clearly didn’t think of him as a Hall of Famer.  His career didn’t stand out.
 
One way that Whitaker strikes me as similar to Rolen is that Whitaker also does well via both rWAR and JAWS, although with a little different configuration.  By career rWAR, Whitaker has the 7th highest figure among second basement with 74.9, a figure not all that different from Rolen’s 70.0.
 
In the JAWS rankings that average career rWAR with 7-year peak rWAR, Whitaker slides to 13th among second basemen.   The thing that hurts him there is that he’s only 20th in the 7-year peak WAR7.  His JAWS figure is 56.4, which is not much different than Rolen’s.  Whitaker is 13th at second base, while Rolen is 10th at third base.  The only non-Hall of Famer (among non-active players) ahead of Whitaker at second base in the JAWS rankings is Bobby Grich.
 
But, again…..I have to be honest, Whitaker, as he was playing, never "felt" like a Hall of Famer to me.  Much like Rolen, I felt like I was watching a really good player, but I didn’t think of him as a Hall of Famer.  
 
I tried to think of some way to explore that.  That led, inevitably, to this:
 
Hall of Fame Metric Similarity Scores
 
Bill James has given us some great gifts over the years.   One of my favorites is his concept of Similarity Scores.  I’m sure most of the readers are familiar with this tool.  It essentially compares players to each across a range of "basic" hitting categories and attempts to identify the players whose statistics are most similar to the player in question.  The more similar the statistics, the higher the score.
 
There are limitations, of course, as there are with anything else.   Similarity Scores don’t address defense directly (other than to apply a penalty for players that play different defensive positions than the person being compared to), and they don’t adjust for time or place.  100 home runs are 100 home runs, regardless of whether they were hit in Coors Field or the Astrodome, and regardless of whether they were hit in the 2010’s or the 1910’s.  But, as a quick and dirty approach, I’ve always liked using Similarity Scores.  I think they have generally served us well, and they remain a popular tool by many when evaluating Hall of Fame candidates.
 
In addition, Bill has given us the following over the years:
  • Hall of Fame Standards
  • The Hall of Fame Monitor (I see he came out with an updated version in the 2018 Bill James Handbook, which I just purchased a couple of days ago)
  • The Black Ink Test
  • The Gray Ink Test
 
All of these appear in the standard "Hall of Fame Statistics" section of a player’s baseball-reference.com page.  If you’re not familiar with them or how they are calculated, I will refer you to the glossary page on baseball-reference.com for further details.  It outlines how points are assigned in each of those 4 metrics.  Baseball-reference.com lists the top 1,000 players in each metric. 
 
Now, none of these measurements are designed to tell you who should be in the Hall of Fame.  They are designed to help summarize various levels of achievements and results into a single number.  None of them, by themselves, are definitive or ultimate determinants of who deserves to be in Hall of Fame.  They merely help compile and summarize what players have done, and they allow us to make some easier comparisons.
 
A quick review of the toolkit:
 
  • Hall of Fame Standards helps summarize career totals in various basic categories based on different thresholds and rates.

    Among position players, Babe Ruth has the highest figure with 79 points. 

    54 players are listed as tied for at the bottom of the list of 1,000 players with  17 points, including Mickey Morandini, Rob Deer, and Sixto Lezcano.  There are more players than that with 17 points, but the list cuts off after 1,000 players. 

    According to baseball-reference.com, a score of 50 is average for a Hall of Famer.   Based on the data I pulled, I calculated a mean of 47 for Hall of Famers (the median also turns out to be 47).

  • The Hall of Fame Monitor assigns points across a variety of seasonal and career achievements, including not just statistics, but also such things as awards, honors, and playing regularly on successful teams.  It has gone through several versions.  It was designed to help predict who was likely to make the Hall of Fame based on past results, but not necessarily who deserves to make it.

    Among position players, Stan Musial is #1 with a figure of 452. 

    There are 12 players listed at the bottom of the list of 1,000 players as tied with 16 points, including Johnny Bassler and Elrod Hendricks, but the list cuts off after 1,000 players.     

    According to baseball-reference.com, "100 means a good possibility of being elected and 130 is a virtual cinch."  It’s not a hard and fast threshold, however, as we will see.

    Based on the data here, I calculated a mean of 150 and a median of 137 for Hall of Famers.

  • The Black Ink Test measures how often a player led his league in various offensive statistical categories.  Baseball-reference.com cautions that "the method is unforgiving of positional differences, but it is a neat little metric."

    Among position players, Babe Ruth is #1 with 157 points. 

    There are over 200 players listed with 1 point at the bottom of the list, including Hall of Famers Dave Bancroft, Jake Beckley, and Carlton Fisk.   There are Hall of Famers who score zero on this test.

    According to baseball-reference.com, an average Hall of Fame position player has 27 points. 

  • The Gray Ink Test measures how often a player finished in the top 10 of various offensive statistical categories. 

    Among position players, Ty Cobb is #1 with 417 points. 

    At the bottom of the list of 1,000 players are 5 players with 22 points, including Edgar Renteria.

    According to baseball-reference.com, an average Hall of Fame position player has 144 points.
 
A few notes/caveats:
 
  1. Bill revealed an updated Hall of Fame Monitor in his 2018 Handbook.  However, I’m using the current one that is available via baseball-reference.com.  When Bill’s updated method becomes more readily available and I can leverage full listings of players and scores, I’ll have to re-assess how that may impact this method.

  2. I don’t truly know if Bill technically created the Gray Ink Test.  It’s an offshoot of the Black Ink Test, and he certainly created that one…..but I don’t know if he actually created the Gray Ink version. 

  3. Baseball-reference.com points out that both the Black Ink and Gray Ink tests penalizes more recent players, because there have been 14-16 teams per league, where as players from earlier AL & NL leagues had just 8 (and other early leagues had varying number of teams), so they had fewer players competing for both league leadership and top-10 status in the various categories.

  4. I thought about including MVP Award Shares, but decided against it, as the site only lists the top 200 players for that metric compared to the top 1,000 for the others, so I decided not to include it in this approach.
 
Before diving into similarity, here are a few summary tables based on these metrics to help provide a feel for the range of values and to illustrate the success rate at which players who achieved various levels within these metrics tended to be elected to the Hall of Fame. 
 
In each of these tables, the "grand total lines" are based just on the 1,000 players listed for each metric, not on the entire population of position players who have played in the Major Leagues.
 
Hall of Fame Standards
 
Among the 1,000 players listed:
 
Hall of Fame Standards Score
Total # of Players
# In Hall of Fame
# Not In Hall of Fame
% In
% Out
 "Outs" (for now)
70+
17
13
4
76%
24%
Pujols, A-Rod, Bonds, Chipper
60-69
19
15
4
79%
21%
Jeter, Sheffield, Manny, Cabrera
50-59
52
38
14
73%
27%
Beltre, Ortiz, E. Martinez, Abreu, Beltran, Van Haltren, Kent, Thome, L. Walker, Rose, Palmeiro, Sosa, Helton, V. Guerrero
40-49
86
42
44
49%
51%
Too many to list here
30-39
175
33
142
19%
81%
Too many to list here
20-29
459
16
443
3%
97%
Too many to list here
<20
192
3
189
2%
98%
Too many to list here
Grand Total
1,000
160
840
16%
84%
Too many to list here
 
Technically, the "Outs" contain several "Not Yets".  In the top group of 70+, Chipper will go in this year, and Pujols should be a sure thing, barring unforeseen events.  Bonds and A-Rod will go in if enough voters adjust their feelings on steroids.  So, in the top group of 70+, it’s likely to be more than 90% in.
 
In the 60-69 group, Jeter and Cabrera are "Out" only for the time being.  They are virtual locks to go in.  Sheffield and Manny I would have to assume are "No’s" until further notice.  So, really that group is also close to 90% in.
 
In the 50-59 group, I figure Beltre, Ortiz, Thome, Vlad Guerrero, and Edgar Martinez are all very good bets to make it in, Thome and Vlad this year, and probably Edgar next year (assuming he falls short this year).  Walker has made great strides this year, and he might eventually make it (more likely on a Veteran Committee ballot), but I won’t count him yet.  I’m not going to count on Beltran or Helton just yet.  So, I would put that group at roughly an 83% success rate.
 
The 40-49 group is about a 50/50 proposition, and the 30-39 group drops to about a 20% success rate.
 
Hall of Fame Monitor
 
Among the 1,000 players listed:
 
Hall of Fame Monitor Score
Total # of Players
# In Hall of Fame
# Not In Hall of Fame
% In
% Out
 "Outs" (for now)
300+
16
11
5
69%
31%
Pujols, A-Rod, Bonds, Jeter, Rose
250-299
10
9
1
90%
10%
Cabrera
200-249
20
16
4
80%
20%
Ichiro, Manny, V. Guerrero, Sosa
150-199
44
35
9
80%
20%
Beltre, Chipper, Ortiz, Sheffield, Thome, McGwire, Palmeiro, Cano, Helton
125-149
26
15
11
58%
42%
Belle, B. Williams, Beltran, D. Parker, Mattingly, E. Martinez, L. Walker, M. Tejada, Garvey, T. Simmons, Y. Molina
100-125
54
18
36
33%
67%
Too many to list here
75-99
97
26
71
27%
73%
Too many to list here
50-74
143
14
129
10%
90%
Too many to list here
<50
590
16
574
3%
97%
Too many to list here
Grand Total
1,000
159
841
16%
84%
Too many to list here
 
In the 300+ group, that % should increase, as Pujols and Jeter are virtual locks.  As with the Standards score, Bonds and A-Rod are in the top group, but their status is uncertain pending how the voters will evaluate them in the coming years.  Rose is the only permanent "no".
 
The 250-299 group will go to 100% once Cabrera is eligible, pending any new future members that fall into that group.
 
The 240-249 group should go up to 90% after Vlad and Ichiro are enshrined.  I’ll assume Manny and Sosa will remain out.
 
In the 150-199 group, Beltre, Chipper, Ortiz, Thome, and (probably) Cano should end up in the "In" crowd, which would make that more of a 90% success rate group.  McGwire, Palmeiro, and Sheffield figure to remain on the outside, at least for the time being.  Helton, I think, is not likely to make it for quite a while.
 
The 125-149 group is at 58% now, and might edge up some.  Edgar Martinez is getting close.  Walker is making great strides on this year’s ballot, but he may have to wait for a Veterans’ Committee.  Simmons came close on this year’s Modern Era ballot.  Beltran’s an unknown, as is Molina.  So, your chances are better than even in that group, but far from certain.
 
The 100-125 group shows just how dicey this can be.  At one point in its development, a Monitor score of 100 used to be considered a pretty good likelihood, but not anymore.  As of now, that group is running about 2:1 not being in the Hall of Fame.  The only "outs" in that group that have a really good chance of ending up in the Hall of Fame right now are active players Mike Trout and Jose Altuve, who figure to eventually end up in higher groups as their careers continue to progress.  This group contains the likes of A.J. Pierzynski, Al Oliver, Alfonso Soriano, Andres Galarraga, Andruw Jones, Bob Boone, Carlos Delgado, Dale Murphy, Dave Concepcion, Dick Groat, Edgar Renteria, Fred McGriff, George Van Haltren, Harvey Kuenn, Jason Giambi, Jason Kendall, Jeff Kent, Jimmy Rollins, Jose Canseco, Juan Gonzalez, Lance Parrish, and many others, all of whom I would consider longshots to get in.  Well, I suppose some of them will get in eventually….but a lot of them are real longshots.
 
The 75-99 group is about the same as the group above, but even less likely.  About one-fourth of that group is in, about three-fourths are out.
 
Black Ink Test
Hall of Fame average=27
 
Among the 1,000 players listed:
Black Ink Score
Total # of Players
# In Hall of Fame
# Not In Hall of Fame
% In
% Out
 "Outs" (for now)
100+
6
6
0
100%
0%
None
60-99
12
8
4
67%
33%
Bonds, A-Rod, Rose, Barnes
50-59
10
9
1
90%
10%
Stovey
40-49
11
6
5
55%
45%
Pujols, Cravath, Ichiro, Cabrera, Oliva
30-39
22
15
7
68%
32%
D. Murphy, G. Burns, H. Davis, McGwire, Hines, Magee, O'Neill
20-29
57
26
31
46%
54%
Too many to list here
10-19
147
30
117
20%
80%
Too many to list here
5-9
173
21
152
12%
88%
Too many to list here
1-5
562
22
540
4%
96%
Too many to list here
Grand Total
1,000
143
857
14%
86%
Too many to list here
 
Note that the list of 1,000 cuts off at 1 point.  There are several Hall of Famers who score 0 on this test that are not included in the table above.
 
The 100+ group is 100% in, and is 100% baseball royalty (Ruth, Wagner, Musial, Hornsby, Cobb, Williams).
 
The 60-99 group is a wild card, since we’re not sure of the fate of Bonds or A-Rod.  Rose is out for good, of course.   And, we’ll take a moment for the Ross Barnes Fan Club to quiet down….
 
The 50-59 group is pretty stable at the moment at 90%, with Harry Stovey (who mostly played in the American Association) as the only outsider.
 
40-49 is only 55% now, but will increase substantially in the coming years to over 80% in, with Pujols, Ichiro, and Cabrera all virtual locks.
 
However, the 30-39 group, which is about two-thirds in, one-third out, may not go up anytime soon.  There are a lot of old-timers in that group (Burns, Davis, Hines, Magee, O’Neill) who built their Black Ink Scores in very different environments and with smaller leagues than there are today, which is certainly one of the caveats with this metric.
 
The 20-29 group is about a 50/50 proposition.
 
As a side note in this category, many of the best hitting catchers in history had Black Ink scores of 0 for their careers, including Yogi Berra, Mickey Cochrane, Gabby Hartnett, Bill Dickey, Ted Simmons, Thurman Munson, Jorge Posada, and Ivan Rodrigurez.  Even Mike Piazza had a Black Ink goose egg.  Carlton Fisk managed a Black Ink score of 1 (he tied for the AL lead in triples in his rookie season). 
 
There are zero catchers who have even achieved the average Hall of Famer Black Ink score of 27, unless you classify Deacon White as a catcher.  Johnny Bench managed a decent score of 20, but he’s an exception.  It’s simply very rare for catchers to generate league-leading offensive totals.  It’s something to keep in mind a little later on.
 
Gray Ink Test
 
Hall of Fame average = 144
 
Among the 1,000 players listed:
 
Gray Ink Test Score
Total # of Players
# In Hall of Fame
# Not In Hall of Fame
% In
% Out
 "Outs" (for now)
300+
13
13
 
100%
0%
 
250-299
10
8
2
80%
20%
Bonds, Pujols
200-249
20
15
5
75%
25%
A-Rod, Cabrera, Rose, Stovey, Magee
150-199
45
32
13
71%
29%
B. Johnson, B. Veach, Ortiz, D. Allen, G. Burns, M. Ramirez, Miñoso, Hines, Palmeiro, Colavito, J. Jackson, V. Guerrero, Charley Jones
100-149
146
46
100
32%
68%
Too many to list here
50-99
298
37
261
12%
88%
Too many to list here
<50
468
11
457
2%
98%
Too many to list here
Grand Total
1,000
162
838
16%
84%
Too many to list here
 
The top group is 13 for 13, and includes Ruth, Anson, F. Robinson, Aaron, Wagner, Gehrig, Hornsby, Crawford, Musial, Williams, Speaker, Cobb, and Mays.
 
The 250-299 group should go up to at least 90% in the near future with Pujols a virtual lock, and would go to 100% if Bonds gets in.
 
The 200-249 group could go up to 85% with Cabrera a virtual lock and if A-Rod is elected.  Rose is out.  Stovey and Magee would seem to have little hope, although they do get brought up from time to time.
 
The 150-199 group is at 71% now.  Vlad’s election this year will bump it up some, and Ortiz is a likely future inductee.  That would bump it to 75%.  Miñoso and Allen could both make it in someday as well.
 
The 100-149 group is where the percentages flip, with only about one-third of that group in, and about two-thirds out.
 
Similar to Black Ink scores, you don’t see a lot of real high Gray Ink scores generated by catchers.  It’s not quite to the same degree as Black Ink, but it’s the same general effect.
 
The Honor Roll
 
While compiling the above tables, I was curious if any players made the top 5% (essentially, the top 50 out of 1,000) in each metric.  There were 23 players who managed to accomplish that.  The "Honor Roll", if you will.  Straight A students.
 
To put this list of 23 in some kind of order, I calculated a indexed score that was based on how the players did in each of the 4 categories relative to the best score in each category.  For example, Ty Cobb’s score of 75 in Hall of Fame Standards was 94.9% of the best score (Babe Ruth’s 79), his Hall of Fame Monitor Score was 98.5% of the highest score in that category, his Black Ink score was 98.1% of the highest score in that category, and his Gray Ink score was the highest in history, so he got 100% there.  I then averaged the 4 percentages to come up with an average category % figure.  That was mainly done to help sequence the list, to help give some kind of proper representation that Ty Cobb’s results were more impressive than, say Paul Waner’s.  Cobb had the most impressive overall result, as he finished 7th in Hall of Fame Standards, 2nd in Hall of Fame Monitor, 2nd in Black Ink, and 1st in Gray Ink.
 
2 active players (Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera) are on the list.  Those 2, along with Bonds and Alex Rodriguez, are the only ones among the 23 who are not in the Hall:
 
Name
HOF Std
HOF Monitor
Black Ink
Gray Ink
Average Indexed Category %
Ty Cobb*
75
445
154
417
97.9%
Babe Ruth*
79
417
157
340
93.4%
Stan Musial*
76
452
116
390
90.9%
Hank Aaron*
75
421
76
408
83.6%
Rogers Hornsby*
76
350
125
329
83.0%
Ted Williams*
73
354
122
326
81.7%
Honus Wagner*
75
313
105
367
79.8%
Willie Mays*
77
376
57
337
74.4%
Lou Gehrig*
72
352
75
315
73.1%
Barry Bonds
77
340
69
289
71.5%
Alex Rodriguez
77
390
68
214
69.6%
Jimmie Foxx*
72
314
59
257
65.0%
Tris Speaker*
73
253
38
346
63.9%
Nap Lajoie*
66
264
76
266
63.5%
Mickey Mantle*
65
301
62
272
63.4%
Albert Pujols
70
314
45
268
62.8%
Mel Ott*
69
216
50
277
58.4%
Frank Robinson*
66
223
35
320
58.0%
Ed Delahanty*
65
235
59
231
56.8%
Miguel Cabrera
62
263
43
241
55.5%
Joe DiMaggio*
59
269
34
226
52.5%
Carl Yastrzemski*
60
215
55
206
52.0%
Paul Waner*
61
253
37
194
50.8%
 
Hall of Fame Metric Similarity Scores
 
So, that’s the long lead up to this…..
 
I got to wondering…..what if, instead of looking at similarity of home runs, RBI, batting average, etc., like we would for position players using traditional Similarity Scores, we looked at similarity of how players did in these Hall of Fame Metrics?  What might that tell us?
 
So, that’s what I did.
 
Approach
 
For each of the 4 metrics, I pulled the top 1,000 players listed on baseball-reference.com.  When merging the 4 lists into a single, unduplicated listing, that provided a group of 1,570 players.
 
Then, I set up a comparison sheet in Excel that, for a given player that I was interested in evaluating, would compare him to all other position players in each of the 4 metrics.  Just like regular Similarity Scores, it starts with 1,000 points, and then starts subtracting based on differences in each metric.  I settled on the following rules:
 
From 1,000 points, subtract:
·         10 points for every point difference in Hall of Fame Standards
·         2 points for every point difference in the Hall of Fame Monitor
·         10 points for every point difference in the Black Ink Test
·         2 points for every point difference in the Gray Ink Test
 
In general, scores of 900 or higher are considered to be strong similarity, 800’s as generally similar, and so on down from there.  The scores are designed to be similar in nature to the Similarity Scores you are familiar with, although I only am using 4 categories to compare similarity and to calculate differences.
 
Now, unlike regular Similarity Scores, these are not designed to identify similar players in terms of how they perform across different offensive categories, but rather to identify players who achieved similar results in things that have traditionally mattered to Hall of Fame voters, so some of the comparisons (or "comps") may seem odd at first. 
 
I did not penalize for differences in position in this first attempt at it, because that wasn’t my primary concern.  I was more concerned in seeing how players compared across the spectrum of metrics.  Both Hall of Fame Standards and the Hall of Fame Monitor do assign points, at least to some degree, related to defensive position.  Of course, we can’t completely separate the context of position when talking about the Hall of Fame, but, again, I didn’t want to make too many adjustments at this early point.  I wanted to see what kind of comparisons were being generated.  In some cases, I will be using executive privilege when it comes to applying some judgment in replacing comps that I think, for one reason or another, aren’t useful.   
 
By way of example, let’s look at future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki.  These his most-comparable matches when looking across all 4 metrics:
 
Rank
Score
Name
HOF Std
HOF Monitor
Black Ink
Gray Ink
Position
0
1,000
Ichiro Suzuki
44
235
43
142
RF
1
852
Rod Carew*
55
243
42
148
2B
2
798
Hank Greenberg*
46
188
46
171
1B
3
750
Billy Hamilton*
51
154
43
133
CF
4
730
Rickey Henderson*
53
181
50
143
LF
5
726
Wade Boggs*
58
268
37
138
3B
6
716
Mark McGwire
42
170
36
110
1B
7
714
Harmon Killebrew*
46
178
48
193
1B
8
712
Joe Medwick*
47
200
41
226
LF
9
708
George Brett*
61
211
39
159
3B
10
698
Roberto Clemente*
51
231
23
154
RF
 
 
Average-Top 10
51.0
202.4
40.5
157.5
 
 
Incidentally, Rod Carew is also Ichiro’s #1 comp when using regular Similarity Scores with the same 852 score, which is pure coincidence.
 
In general, in this group, you have players who are around 50 (which is roughly the positional Hall of Fame average) on the Hall of Fame Standards test, achieved really high Hall of Fame Monitor scores, well above-average (for Hall of Famers) Black Ink scores, and scores that are generally at or above the Gray Ink Hall of Fame average. 
 
Of course, as always, there are several individual category fluctuations, but these are the closest overall matches to Ichiro.  They’re not all similar types of players, as you can see, because we’ve got sluggers like Greenberg, McGwire, and Killebrew in there, and there’s a wide variety of positions, but, again, we’re not trying to match by type.  We’re trying to see how Ichiro compares to others across this particular spectrum of metrics.
 
Now, I will say that the matches for Ichiro aren’t particularly tight.  You probably noticed that the scores aren’t very high (mostly in the 700’s), because no one comes that close to Ichiro’s figures across all 4 categories, with the possible exception of Carew.  This at least in part implies that Ichiro’s specific combination of results is fairly uncommon.  It’s similar to what you sometimes see on regular Similarity Scores with someone like Pete Rose, whose top 10 comps score quite low (in the 500’s and 600’s), because Rose had a pretty unusual combination of career hitting statistics.  The same would apply to Cy Young on the pitching side.  It’s hard to find real tight comps.
 
But, these are the players with the highest scores, relatively speaking, and they’re all solid Hall of Famers except for McGwire, who has a very specific reason why he’s not in the Hall of Fame (at least not yet.  I think he’ll get in at some point after enough time passes). 
 
So, Ichiro will surely sail in…..not that you needed this approach to confirm that for you.  It was just an example.
 
OK.  Let’s look at another.  How about the just-retired Carlos Beltran?
 
Rank
Score
Name
HOF Std
HOF Monitor
Black Ink
Gray Ink
Position
0
1,000
Carlos Beltran
52
126
1
76
CF
1
964
Jeff Kent
51
123
0
71
2B
2
946
Mickey Cochrane*
54
137
0
77
C
3
926
Gabby Hartnett*
48
121
0
69
C
4
916
Carlton Fisk*
49
121
1
54
C
5
910
Barry Larkin*
47
121
0
66
SS
6
884
Bernie Williams
48
134
4
61
CF
7
870
Ted Simmons
44
125
0
95
C
8
854
Bobby Abreu
54
95
5
88
RF
9
846
Joe Kelley*
52
99
2
121
LF
10
840
Gary Carter*
41
135
4
75
C
 
 
Average-Top 10
48.8
121.1
1.6
77.7
 
 
You probably noticed something right off the bat, but let’s circle back to that in just a little bit.
 
6 of the 10 are Hall of Famers.  As you can see by the scores, they’re generally better matches than Ichiro’s were.  Jeff Kent, in particular, is a very tight match across all categories. 
 
Like Ichiro’s group, you once again have an average Hall of Fame standard among the top 10 comps of around 50 (this time, a little under 50).  However, in contrast to Ichiro’s group, this group has much lower Monitor scores, virtually no Black Ink, and much, much lower Gray Ink. 
 
However…..back to what you probably noticed………….
 
5 of the top 10 comps are catchers, which is not a real desirable outcome in this case, because catchers are a pretty unique defensive position, and (as noted earlier) it’s common for them to not score very well in Black Ink, so several of them appear as Betran’s top comps since he didn’t score well in Black Ink either.  I think, in general, particularly when it comes to Hall of Fame consideration, and more so than any other position, catchers typically don’t make for great comparisons to other players unless you’re comparing them to other catchers.
 
So, what if we just eliminate catchers in this case, and go further down the list?  What would Beltran’s top 10 look like then?  Let’s do that….we’ll eliminate Cochrane, Hartnett, Fisk, Simmons, and Carter:
 
Rank
Score
Name
HOF Std
HOF Monitor
Black Ink
Gray Ink
Position
0
1,000
Carlos Beltran
52
126
1
76
CF
1
964
Jeff Kent
51
123
0
71
2B
2
910
Barry Larkin*
47
121
0
66
SS
3
884
Bernie Williams
48
134
4
61
CF
4
854
Bobby Abreu
54
95
5
88
RF
5
846
Joe Kelley*
52
99
2
121
LF
6
836
Luis Gonzalez
48
103
5
57
LF
7
826
Bill Dahlen
48
94
4
96
SS
8
824
Joe Cronin*
55
143
7
102
SS
9-T
806
Magglio Ordonez
42
114
6
86
RF
9-T
806
Johnny Damon
45
90
6
77
CF
 
 
Average-Top 10
49.0
111.6
3.9
82.5
 
 
Not quite as impressive, although the Black Ink and Gray Ink average scores of the comps nudge up a little.  Still, only 3 of the top 10 now are Hall of Famers, and the similarity scores are of course lower.    
 
I personally think Beltran’s got a good Hall of Fame case, and I would vote for him if I had a vote.  But, I don’t think he’s anywhere near a lock, and I suspect his support among the BBWAA may be kind of soft.  I think Bernie Williams and Bobby Abreu are interesting comps, for different reasons.  Larkin is a good comp as well, although Larkin won an MVP and Beltran didn’t.
 
Beltran’s overall postseason record will probably help him.  However, his MVP track record, or lack thereof, probably won’t.   He only had two top-10 MVP finishes (a 4th place in 2006, and a 9th place in 2003). 
 
Beltran is a top-10 center fielder in the JAWS rankings.   That didn’t help Kenny Lofton a few years back, and it doesn’t seem to be doing Andruw Jones much good this year (technically Jones is 11th, as Mike Trout passed him this year), but by the time Beltran’s time on the ballot rolls around, we might see more voters leveraging those rankings.
 
I think voters will see him as a good, all-around player, but that he won’t stick out as extraordinary in any way.  Of course, as always, a lot could depend on who else is still on the ballot at the time that Beltran appears.  If he’s one of the stronger candidates and there are a lack of other really good options, that will help him, as it would anyone.
 
Bottom line - I think he will struggle for support unless the standards that the writers use change in the interim.  I don’t think that he will "seem" like a Hall of Famer to enough of the writers.
 
How about Chase Utley, who’s bound to hang it up one of these days?  Understanding that he’s not done with his career yet, he’s probably close to the end, so let’s look at where he stands:
 
Rank
Score
Name
HOF Std
HOF Monitor
Black Ink
Gray Ink
Position
0
1,000
Chase Utley
35
94
3
42
2B
1
970
Willie Randolph
34
92
2
39
2B
2
958
Carlos Lee
35
79
2
41
LF
3
920
Hughie Jennings*
35
88
0
61
SS
4
918
Paul O'Neill
37
71
4
45
RF
5
914
Tony Fernandez
32
75
3
51
SS
6-T
912
Steve Finley
36
72
4
54
CF
6-T
912
Garret Anderson
33
74
4
51
LF
8
910
Aramis Ramirez
39
85
2
53
3B
9
906
Buster Posey
38
69
4
44
C
10
900
Paul Konerko
36
80
0
58
1B
 
 
Average-Top 10
35.5
78.5
2.5
49.7
 
 
Posey is mid-career and he’s also a catcher, so I would subjectively remove him.  The next comp down that would be used as a replacement is Ray Durham.
 
How would one describe this group?  Fairly low on Hall of Fame Standards, generally between 70-100 on the Monitor, really low on Black Ink, and quite low on Gray Ink.  In other words, quite a bit below the Hall of Fame average in all 4 areas.  So, players like this really need other things to boost their cases.
 
As you can see, Willie Randolph is a very tight comp across all 4 categories and has a really high Hall of Fame Metric Similarity Score of 970.  I believe he’s a really good comp for Utley.  For what it’s worth, they’re very close in career rWAR too (they’re both a little over 65), although Utley had a stronger peak (Utley is 10th in the second base JAWS rankings, and Randolph is 17th).   Generally speaking, though, this combination across the 4 metrics hasn’t yielded many Hall of Famers.
 
So, does Utley still have a legitimate case?  Yes, he does….but it will rely on recognition of his good rWAR (65.4) and/or his strong JAWS ranking (currently #10 second base).  He had a very good 5-year peak from ’05-’09, where he was a tremendous player with three top-10 MVP finishes, and he was pretty clearly the best second baseman in the game during that time period.  That will all help.  However, he started missing a lot of time due to injuries after his peak, and he has only tallied 1,850 career hits to this point, and that may be tough for a lot of voters to overlook.
 
I would say advanced analytics generally support the notion that he was a very good defensive second baseman, but his absence of Gold Gloves will likely hurt his case in that regard.  The NL Gold Glove winners during Utley’s peak tended to alternate among Luis Castillo, Brandon Phillips, and Orlando Hudson, and while they’re all quality defenders, none of them possess what I would call "legendary" reputations as all-time defensive second basemen, although some of my fellow Reds fans would disagree with me on Phillips.  I think Utley’s absence of Gold Gloves is bound to hurt his case with voters.
 
So, I don’t think it will be enough.  I think Utley will struggle for support among the writers.
 
Rolen & Whitaker
 
Oh yeah….the genesis of this whole article.  Scott Rolen & Lou Whitaker.
 
Here’s the comp list for Scott Rolen.  To save time, the catchers that would have otherwise made the list (Jorge Posada, Jason Kendall, Rick Ferrell, and Lance Parrish) have been excluded from the start this time around:
 
Rank
Score
Name
HOF Std
HOF Monitor
Black Ink
Gray Ink
Position
0
1,000
Scott Rolen
40
99
0
27
3B
1-T
950
Lou Whitaker
43
93
0
31
2B
1-T
950
Edgar Renteria
38
109
0
22
SS
3-T
934
Omar Vizquel
42
120
0
25
SS
3-T
918
Alan Trammell*
40
119
0
48
SS
5
904
Jim Edmonds
39
89
0
60
CF
6
890
Aramis Ramirez
39
85
2
53
3B
7
882
Willie Randolph
34
92
2
39
2B
8
880
Chase Utley
35
94
3
42
2B
9
870
Dave Concepcion
29
107
0
25
SS
10
868
Buddy Myer
41
86
6
45
2B
 
Now, when I drew this up, I didn’t anticipate that Rolen and Whitaker would be immediate next door neighbors, but it’s easy to see why they’re so close.  There’s very little to separate them across the board in these metrics.  They have a very high 950 score for similarity across these metrics.
 
It’s an interesting group, and once again we see Randolph and Utley appearing close together at 7 and 8.  It’s also interesting to see Vizquel appear, as 2018 is his debut on the ballot as well.  Now, I certainly believe that Rolen and Whitaker were much more valuable players than Vizquel, but, looking at these particular metrics, Vizquel (who’s currently been outpolling Rolen in the BBWAA ballot by about 3 to 1) stacks up pretty well.  His 11 Gold Gloves and long career, where he was able to accumulate a lot of hits, certainly helped him in the first two categories.
 
In addition, Jim Edmonds is on the list, and he fits in with the general theme of players who have accumulated a good rWAR (in his case 60.3), achieved a decent JAWS ranking (15th among center fielders), but are relatively soft in all 4 of the Hall of Fame metrics.  Edmonds, of course, only garnered 2.5% of the votes in his lone year on the ballot. 
 
Rolen, Whitaker, Edmonds, Utley, Randolph.  They all seem to live in the same neighborhood when looking at it from this angle.  They’re part of the same family.  Trammell and Larkin are in that same general family too, but they were able to break free. 
 
rWAR helps illustrate the value that these players generated, but, to this point, they haven’t really made much of an impact in the writers’ votes (Utley’s remains to be seen, of course), and when you look at their tallies in these scores, it’s easy to see why.
 
Trammell, who is a good comp in this regard for both Whitaker and Rolen, managed to break through this year, of course, and we’ll see what kind of impact that may have on future elections.  I think his election gives this particular type of candidate some reason for renewed optimism.
 
But this, in a nutshell, is why I think Rolen originally nagged at me, and why Lou Whitaker continues to nag at me.  To review:
 
  • They have relatively unimpressive career totals in offensive categories that writers tend to look at
  • They have a decent (but borderline) Hall of Fame Monitor score
  • They never led the league in any major offensive categories
  • They rarely were even top 10 in any major offensive categories
 
And, even though it wasn’t part of the similarity scoring, you could also add that they didn’t make much impact in MVP award balloting over the course of their careers.  We looked at Rolen’s earlier, but Whitaker’s is even more sparse, with only one 8th place finish in his career.
 
So what do their Hall of Fame cases primarily rest on?  On strong rWAR.  On high JAWS positional rankings.  On excellent defense.  On being good, all-around players who accumulated value.
 
That seems to be the basis for their cases.  And, while it’s a legitimate point of view, to this point it’s been the type of case that hasn’t played well with voters or with those who assemble candidates for Veterans Committee ballots.  After polling around 20% early in the Hall of Fame Tracker, Rolen is currently running about 10%.  It’s possible that he’s not going to be long for the writers’ ballot.   He might survive this initial one, but will his case ever resonate with enough of the writers?  Will he be able to build on his debut and make a go of it?
 
Whitaker had a lot of good seasons, and really didn’t have any bad ones, and there’s a lot to be said for that.  But, by the same token, he had an absence of what I would call "great" seasons.  Take a look at Whitaker’s record.  Do any seasons stand out to you as being "great"?  Does anything about his playing record really jump out?  He was a good player for a long time.  He had 11 seasons with rWARs in the 3’s and 4’s.  That’s impressive enough in its own way, but not everyone agrees that that’s the mark of a Hall of Famer.   And Scott Rolen is the latest of that general type.
 
Now, there’s no reason that it has to remain that way forever.  I do think that things change.  I do think that voters shift their thinking over time, but that it tends to happen slowly.  And I do think that Whitaker will make it someday, especially now that Trammell is in.  I think that may be the springboard.
 
More Fun
 
Here are some other notable players that I thought were interesting to look at.  Some have been on recent ballots, some will come up in the future, and others are ones that I’m just kind of interested in seeing how they turned out.
 
Reggie Smith
 
Rank
Score
Name
HOF Std
HOF Monitor
Black Ink
Gray Ink
Position
0
1,000
Reggie Smith
35
65
4
124
RF
1
952
Bobby Bonds
36
66
6
132
RF
2
938
Bob Elliott
34
62
2
111
3B
3
926
Ross Youngs*
32
73
5
115
RF
4-T
918
Ken Boyer
36
87
4
138
3B
4-T
918
Mike Donlin
32
65
3
103
CF
6
910
Dixie Walker
35
83
9
126
RF
6
910
Denny Lyons
36
48
3
106
3B
8
906
Gil Hodges
32
83
2
128
1B
9
904
Bobby Bonilla
32
65
3
96
3B
10
888
Rusty Staub
38
59
4
89
RF
 
 
Average-Top 10
34.3
69.1
4.1
114.4
 
 
Reggie Smith sometimes comes up in discussions of underrated players that may be deserving of Hall of Fame consideration.   I love that Bobby Bonds matches up so well with Smith across the board, as Reggie Smith is #5 on Bonds’ "regular" Similarity Score comp list.  They’re also very close to each other in the RF JAWS rankings, with Smith at #17, and Bonds at #22, and they are almost exact contemporaries. 
 
Not that we’re looking for similar stats in these particular scores, but here’s how these 2 compare in several basic categories:
 
Name
WAR
WAR7
JAWS
Yrs
From
To
All-Star
G
PA
AB
R
H
Reggie Smith
64.5
38.6
51.6
17
1966
1982
7
1,987
8,051
7,033
1,123
2,020
Bobby Bonds
57.7
41.0
49.4
14
1968
1981
3
1,849
8,090
7,043
1,258
1,886
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Name
2B
3B
HR
RBI
SB
CS
BB
SO
BA
OBP
SLG
OPS+
Reggie Smith
363
57
314
1,092
137
86
890
1,030
.287
.366
.489
137
Bobby Bonds
302
66
332
1,024
461
169
914
1,757
.268
.353
.471
129
 
I’d say pretty similar in most categories, although Bonds of course was much more of base stealing threat, and struck out significantly more, while Smith had a much better batting average.  Smith was also more successful at making the All Star teams, and I’m kind of surprised Bonds didn’t do better in that regard.  But, overall, I’d say pretty comparable hitters.
 
Smith was a one-and-done on the writers’ ballot, where as Bonds hung around for 11 years on the ballot, but never exceeding 11%.  They were both often among the league leaders, as evidenced by their decent Gray Ink Scores, but they didn’t make much of a dent in the other 3 categories.  They match up well in so many ways.
 
As you can see, Smith’s comp list has virtually no Hall of Famers on it (only Ross Youngs, who had an abbreviated career), but does have some players that do tend to pop up from time to time in the discussion, such as Boyer and Hodges.  In general, though, it’s not a combination that tends to get you into Cooperstown.
 
If Youngs, Donlin, and Lyons don’t strike you as useful comps, the next 3 down are Babe Herman, Harry Hooper (who is in the Hall), and Irish Meusel.
 
Dwight Evans
 
Rank
Score
Name
HOF Std
HOF Monitor
Black Ink
Gray Ink
Position
0
1,000
Dwight Evans
44
70
15
113
RF
1
946
Mike Tiernan
42
69
17
119
RF
2
900
Jason Giambi
44
108
13
115
1B
3
894
Will Clark
42
84
13
94
1B
4
890
Ken Williams
39
68
11
121
LF
4
890
Jimmy Ryan
48
83
12
120
CF
6-T
882
Edd Roush*
36
72
14
125
CF
6-T
882
Willie Stargell*
44
107
17
125
1B
8
876
Tim Raines*
47
91
20
114
LF
9
870
Brett Butler
36
54
16
117
CF
10
864
Stan Hack
38
76
11
125
3B
 
 
Average-Top 10
41.6
81.2
14.4
117.5
 
 
Evans’ strongest comps aren’t in the Hall, but further down the list you start to see some appear (Roush, Stargell, and Raines).  Will Clark and Stan Hack sometimes get some attention as dark horse candidates.  Butler is a player that looked like he might have been assembling a Hall of Fame resume, but in the end came up a fair amount short.  This group is below the Hall of Fame averages on all 4 metrics, but generally higher than the Reggie Smith group.
 
I think Evans has a bit of an image problem in that he played for many years at the beginning of his career where he didn’t get much attention for anything other than his defense and his arm.  His best hitting seasons were essentially all at age 29 or older.  He does have a good rWAR (nearly 67) and is 15th in the JAWS right field rankings.  I think he’ll be up again for consideration at some point, but he may have a hard time ever getting enough support.
 
Dave Parker
 
Rank
Score
Name
HOF Std
HOF Monitor
Black Ink
Gray Ink
Position
0
1,000
Dave Parker
42
125
26
145
RF
1
934
Lou Brock*
43
152
26
146
LF
2
898
Jim Bottomley*
42
99
21
145
1B
3
884
Albert Belle
36
135
28
137
LF
4
882
Richie Ashburn*
41
112
32
156
CF
5
880
Dick Allen
39
99
27
159
1B
6
868
Kiki Cuyler*
46
117
20
137
-
7
854
Willie McCovey*
45
111
31
126
1B
8
848
Dale Murphy
34
116
31
147
CF
9
828
Al Oliver
40
117
16
127
-
10
826
Ernie Banks*
46
170
26
167
SS
 
 
Average-Top 10
41.2
122.8
25.8
144.7
 
 
Brock is an ironic #1 match, because obviously Parker and Brock were very different types of players.  But, they match up well in these particular summary metrics.
 
Parker is a really, really intriguing case, and one that I’m personally drawn to.  Parker’s rWAR is only 39.9 and he’s only 37th in the right fielder JAWS ranking, which certainly hurts his image among voters who prefer those measures.  However, by the Hall of Fame metrics, he’s got a compelling case.  His Monitor score of 125 is a solid total and in a range where you see about half of the candidates get elected.  His Black Ink is about average for a Hall of Famer, as is his Gray Ink.   
 
6 of the top 10 comps are in the Hall of Fame, and Allen and Murphy are good candidates that have appeared on recent Veteran Committee ballots, with Allen just barely missing election (by one vote) in his most recent turn on the Veterans’ ballot. 
 
Belle had a short career with a lot of strong seasons, but he didn’t make many friends, to put it lightly.  He may not be a great comp.  On the other hand , Oliver, who was teammates with Parker for a few years, had a long career and, with a little different luck, it’s easy to see how he might have been able to reach 3,000 hits, which would have virtually guaranteed his induction.
 
If you go further down the list, the next highest comp is Pete Browning, a pre-1900 player who may not be a great comp, and then the next 5 are Hall of Famers - Heinie Manush, Arky Vaughan, Willie Stargell (who of course was also a teammate of Parker’s), Kirby Puckett, and Jim Rice.  Rice and Parker share a common bond in that they were the MVP winners in their respective leagues in 1978.
 
Parker had several high MVP award finishes, including a 1st place, a 2nd place, two 3rd places, and a 5th place, a very good track record.  He led the league in various times in batting average, doubles, hits, RBI, slugging, and total bases.  He won multiple Gold Gloves (although more modern analytics would conclude that his defense was poor), and he certainly had a legendary arm, including 2 famous "baserunner kills" in the 1979 All Star game.  Parker’s throw to nail Brian Downing at the plate is the more famous throw, but the other one was classic Parker in the sense that he misplayed a fly ball, but then recovered to throw out the hitter/runner who was trying for a triple.  The hitter?  None other than Jim Rice.
 
Parker ended up with over 2,700 hits.  In the late ‘70’s, Parker was certainly in the discussion of the best players in baseball.  If you take the 5-year period from ’75-79, Schmidt would probably have to be #1….but Parker is probably in the top 5.
 
I think he has a lot going for him as a Hall of Fame candidate.  He continues to appear on Veteran Committee ballots.  His "poor personal choices" related to drugs in mid-career have undoubtedly had a negative effect, and he may never completely overcome that.  His relatively low career rWAR and JAWS rankings certainly don’t help him now, either. 
 
Parker grew up in Cincinnati, and he still lives in the area here.  He’s become a bit of a beloved local figure, and has also become a sympathetic story as he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.  He was elected to the Reds Hall of Fame in 2014.
 
He has a tough road to Cooperstown….but I have a feeling he’ll stay on the Hall of Fame radar.  Personally, I’m rooting for him.
 
Larry Walker
 
Rank
Score
Name
HOF Std
HOF Monitor
Black Ink
Gray Ink
Position
0
1,000
Larry Walker
58
148
24
116
RF
1
904
Jeff Bagwell*
59
150
24
157
1B
2
896
Paul Molitor*
59
166
24
145
3B
3
860
Jim Thome
57
156
13
118
1B
4
854
Craig Biggio*
57
169
17
104
2B
5
830
Edgar Martinez
50
132
20
107
DH
6
824
David Ortiz
55
171
25
161
DH
7-T
812
Joe Morgan*
56
172
15
131
2B
7-T
812
Luke Appling*
57
149
9
103
SS
9
802
Todd Helton
59
175
16
143
1B
10
800
Robin Yount*
52
132
14
120
SS
 
 
Average-Top 10
56.1
157.2
17.7
128.9
 
 
An impressive comp group, but, of course, Walker has a big "yeah but" in his record based on his years when he called Coors Field home, which helps boost him in various areas.  Still, I think that, even after you adjust for that, he is a legitimate Hall of Fame candidate, and he is certainly one of the big stories in the early Hall of Fame vote tracking this year.  Walker finished at 22% last year, but he’s currently polling at 40%, as more than 20 returning voters (so far) who didn’t vote for him last year have voted for him this year. 
 
That’s a tremendous about-face.  He’s in his 8th year on the ballot, so he’s probably going to run out of time before he can get to a 75% level, but the tide does seem to be turning, and I think he has a really good chance that a majority of the voters will be on his side when his time on the writers’ ballot expires.
 
Walker does well in rWAR at 72.6 and in JAWS, where he’s 10th among right fielders.  By the Hall of Fame Metric Similarity Score method, 6 of his top 10 comps are currently in the Hall, but Thome will go in this year, Martinez will probably go in either this year or next year, and Ortiz should go in when he’s eligible.  That would only leave Helton out.  Helton figures to face some of the same Coors Field reality that Walker has dealt with when he debuts on the ballot next year.  Although, it’s possible that Walker’s recent surge could end up helping Helton in the long run as well.
 
Although Coors Field certainly helps hitters, it appears that it can be a tough obstacle for hitters to overcome when it comes to Hall of Fame evaluation.  Walker was an outstanding player even after adjusting for Coors, but I suspect many voters have had to work past that mental hurdle.  I think Walker will eventually go in….but I’m guessing he will probably have to wait until he’s on a Veteran’s Committee ballot. 
 
Lance Berkman
 
Rank
Score
Name
HOF Std
HOF Monitor
Black Ink
Gray Ink
Position
0
1,000
Lance Berkman
44
98
8
107
LF
1-T
942
Fred McGriff
48
100
9
105
1B
1-T
942
Carlos Delgado
44
110
8
124
1B
3
926
Pee Wee Reese*
39
100
7
102
SS
4
914
Jason Giambi
44
108
13
115
1B
5
912
Jackie Robinson*
38
98
8
121
2B
6
896
Matt Holliday
41
110
13
107
LF
7-T
894
Bobby Doerr*
41
96
5
128
2B
7-T
894
Johnny Damon
45
90
6
77
CF
9
890
Bill Dahlen
48
94
4
96
SS
10
886
Magglio Ordonez
42
114
6
86
RF
 
 
Average-Top 10
43.0
102.0
7.9
106.1
 
 
I anticipate that Berkman will have a tough time getting support, although he was a tremendous player.  He did have some good years, and had six top-10 MVP finishes.  His career OPS+ of 144 is outstanding…it’s roughly in the same neighborhood as Edgar Martinez (147)….and his career OBP is over .400 (.406).   However, he didn’t even reach 2,000 hits, and his career total of 369 HR’s is fairly low for someone primarily thought of as a power hitter, and won’t inspire a lot of excitement among the voters. 
 
Jackie Robinson is not a good comp for a variety of reasons, so subjectively I would remove him.  The #11 comp, to replace Robinson, would be George Van Haltren.  If Van Haltren doesn’t do it for you, the next one down would be Will Clark (similarity 876), who I think is a decent comp.
 
So, excluding Robinson, the only 2 players on Berkman’s comp list that are in the Hall are Doerr and Reese, middle infielders who were elected by Veterans Committees many years after their playing days were done.  Delgado and McGriff are Berkman’s top 2 comps, and neither one made much of an impact on the writers’ ballot (McGriff, of course, is still on the ballot, but treading water). 
 
I was a big fan of Berkman’s, but I think he’ll draw very little support.
 
Bobby Abreu
 
Rank
Score
Name
HOF Std
HOF Monitor
Black Ink
Gray Ink
Position
0
1,000
Bobby Abreu
54
95
5
88
RF
1
922
George Davis*
54
81
4
108
SS
2
912
Bill Dahlen
48
94
4
96
SS
3
876
Joe Kelley*
52
99
2
121
LF
4
868
Johnny Damon
45
90
6
77
CF
5
862
Luis Gonzalez
48
103
5
57
LF
6
856
Fred McGriff
48
100
9
105
1B
7
854
Carlos Beltran
52
126
1
76
CF
8
848
George Van Haltren
51
108
8
121
CF
9
846
Joe Cronin*
55
143
7
102
SS
10
844
Mickey Cochrane*
54
137
0
77
C
 
 
Average-Top 10
50.7
108.1
4.6
94.0
 
 
 
Abreu comes out a little better than I thought, with 4 of the 10 comps in the Hall of Fame, although #10 is Cochrane, a catcher.  Abreu’s Hall of Fame Standards score is decent, but the Monitor score is borderline, he rarely led the league in anything, and was a little soft in Gray Ink as well. 
 
If some of the comps are a little too "ancient" for your tastes, the next few down the list are Jeff Kent, Magglio Ordonez, and Lance Berkman.
 
Abreu is just under 60.0 in career rWAR, and is 20th in the JAWS right field rankings.  He was a very good all-around player, but he seemed to go through his career without a lot of fanfare or attention.  I would anticipate that he won’t make much of an impact on the Hall of Fame ballot.  I think he has some general similarity to Beltran in a lot of ways, but Beltran has a much more robust postseason resume to support him.  I think they’re somewhat comparable players, but I think Abreu’s case won’t lend itself to even less support from the voters than Beltran’s will.
 
David Ortiz
 
Rank
Score
Name
HOF Std
HOF Monitor
Black Ink
Gray Ink
Position
0
1,000
David Ortiz
55
171
25
161
DH
1
908
Paul Molitor*
59
166
24
145
3B
2
900
Jeff Bagwell*
59
150
24
157
1B
3
886
Ernie Banks*
46
170
26
167
SS
4
864
Jesse Burkett*
56
191
31
174
LF
5
862
Reggie Jackson*
54
171
35
175
RF
6
840
Willie Keeler*
49
189
20
168
RF
7
838
Eddie Mathews*
54
162
16
183
3B
8-T
832
Hugh Duffy*
55
155
35
143
CF
8-T
832
Sammy Sosa
52
202
28
138
RF
10
828
Joe Morgan*
56
172
15
131
2B
 
 
Average-Top 10
54.0
172.8
25.4
158.1
 
 
Yeah, I think Ortiz will make it.  Despite being primarily a DH.  Despite any talk of a steroid "cloud".  I think the voters will shower him with love. 
 
Ortiz will debut on the 2022 ballot, where he and Alex Rodriguez will be the most prominent new names.  And, if they’re not already in by then, it could potentially mark the 10th and final appearance on the ballot by Bonds, Clemens, and Schilling.  Could make for some interesting discussions.
 
I see Ortiz as a first ballot Hall of Famer.  He was the one player most associated with the 3 championship Red Sox teams, and you could fill an album just with his postseason heroics.  I think he’ll make it easily.
 
Ted Simmons
 
Rank
Score
Name
HOF Std
HOF Monitor
Black Ink
Gray Ink
Position
0
1,000
Ted Simmons
44
125
0
95
C
1
904
Barry Larkin*
47
121
0
66
SS
2
900
Gabby Hartnett*
48
121
0
69
C
3
880
Magglio Ordonez
42
114
6
86
RF
4
878
Jeff Kent
51
123
0
71
2B
5-T
870
Tony Lazzeri*
39
89
0
91
2B
5-T
870
Gary Carter*
41
135
4
75
C
5-T
870
Carlos Beltran
52
126
1
76
CF
8
860
Ernie Lombardi*
42
133
8
83
C
9
856
Bill Dahlen
48
94
4
96
SS
10
854
Alan Trammell*
40
119
0
48
SS
 
 
Average-Top 10
45.0
117.5
2.3
76.1
 
 
As a catcher, Simmons is a little tricky using just these metrics, but it’s still interesting to see who comes up.  6 of the top 10 are in the Hall, with Beltran yet to have a turn.  Simmons does compare fairly well to the other catchers on the list like Hartnett, Carter, and Lombardi.  If we went a little deeper, we would encounter Carlton Fisk at #11 and Mickey Cochrane at #14.  Of course, he didn’t quite have the same level of defensive reputation as most of those other catchers did.
 
Simmons came fairly close to election this last time around on the Veterans’ Committee ballot, missing by just one vote.  His time may be coming soon.
 
Steve Garvey
 
Rank
Score
Name
HOF Std
HOF Monitor
Black Ink
Gray Ink
Position
0
1,000
Steve Garvey
32
131
12
142
1B
1
900
Brooks Robinson*
34
152
10
133
3B
2
862
Billy Herman*
38
147
9
134
2B
3
858
Ryan Braun
34
115
16
117
LF
4
842
Keith Hernandez
32
86
14
118
1B
5
838
Mickey Vernon
33
72
14
149
1B
6
832
Rocky Colavito
30
82
15
152
RF
7
830
Cecil Cooper
28
96
12
112
1B
8
822
Al Oliver
40
117
16
127
CF
9
818
Heinie Manush*
46
137
15
142
LF
10
816
Joey Votto
36
85
17
141
1B
 
 
Average-Top 10
35.1
108.9
13.8
132.5
 
 
Garvey’s group, at least at the top, tends to score well on both the Monitor and Gray Ink Scores, but is light on Standards and Black Ink.  After the first few, the comparisons get a little weak. 
 
Braun and Votto are both mid-career, so are not great comps to use.   The next 2 on the list if we want to substitute would be Vada Pinson and Orlando Cepeda (who’s in the Hall).  Note that Cooper, Oliver, Vernon, and Cepeda all happen to appear on Garvey’s "regular" Similarity Score top 10 list as well.
 
Garvey remains an interesting Hall of Fame candidate.  He certainly suffers when looking at rWAR (only 37.7) and JAWS ranking (ony 51st at first base), but fares much better among points of view that give credit for MVP awards, Gold Gloves, All-Star Games, team performance, and postseason play.  Things like his consecutive game streak add to his image.
 
Garvey had a strong debut (over 40%) on the writers’ ballot many years ago, but saw his support deteriorate over time.  Garvey has since been on multiple Veterans Committee ballots.  As I’ve mentioned in other places, you can write a hell of a plaque for Garvey.  I’m sure he’ll continue to stay in the discussion, but he seems like he’ll have trouble ever getting enough support.
 
Bobby Grich
 
Rank
Score
Name
HOF Std
HOF Monitor
Black Ink
Gray Ink
Position
0
1,000
Bobby Grich
32
43
8
40
2B
1
954
Tony Phillips
32
27
7
42
2B
2
924
Don Baylor
30
44
8
67
LF
3
910
Riggs Stephenson
32
57
2
41
LF
4
908
Cecil Travis
30
52
3
38
SS
5
906
Rafael Furcal
32
54
1
39
SS
6-T
900
Marquis Grissom
26
48
5
40
CF
6-T
900
Eddie Stanky
27
27
9
36
2B
8
898
Charlie Jamieson
28
53
4
39
LF
9
896
Luis Castillo
31
61
4
31
2B
10
894
George Grantham
31
36
0
39
2B
 
 
Average-Top 10
29.9
45.9
4.3
41.2
 
 
This comp list is probably unfair to Grich, who was a valuable player, and better than any other player on here, although Phillips was a hell of a player as well, and who had one of the more underrated careers in recent memory.  There are a lot of similarities in the career batting lines of Grich and Phillips:
 
Name
Yrs
From
To
G
PA
AB
R
H
2B
3B
Bobby Grich
17
1970
1986
2,008
8,220
6,890
1,033
1,833
320
47
Tony Phillips
18
1982
1999
2,161
9,110
7,617
1,300
2,023
360
50
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Name
HR
RBI
SB
CS
BB
SO
BA
OBP
SLG
OPS+
Bobby Grich
224
864
104
83
1,087
1,278
.266
.371
.424
125
Tony Phillips
160
819
177
114
1,319
1,499
.266
.374
.389
109
 
Grich was certainly better when the proper adjustments for time and place are made, and I’m not trying to equate the 2, but they make for an interesting comparison.  Grich was certainly a much better defensive second baseman, but Phillips could play just about anywhere on the diamond.  Is he the best of his particular "type" in history, of players who can play at least adequately at any position?  He just might be, although Ben Zobrist would have to be close, and I’m sure there are others.  That would make for a fascinating study. 
 
It’s also interesting to see Baylor so comparable in this method, as he and Grich came up together in the Orioles’ farm system, and then later played several more years together with the Angels.
 
So, this is a disappointing comp list for someone of Grich’s ability, but the fact is, he really didn’t do many of the things that traditionally get you into the Hall of Fame.  His best category among the 4 is Hall of Fame Standards, where his score is ranked #283. 
 
He’s exhibit A of the type of player who’s valuable but not characteristic of a Hall of Famer in the traditional sense.  Bill James once said a long time ago something to the effect of, if Grich ever makes the Hall of Fame, you’ll have a real sense of the impact that sabermetrics has had.  Or something like that…..I forget the exact quote.
 
In the upcoming groups, you will probably pick up on some redundancy of the comps, which certainly can happen in this type of scoring if the various "base" players themselves tend to be similar.
 
Don Mattingly
 
Rank
Score
Name
HOF Std
HOF Monitor
Black Ink
Gray Ink
Position
0
1,000
Don Mattingly
34
134
23
111
1B
1
908
Andres Galarraga
35
114
21
122
1B
2
882
Nellie Fox*
32
163
23
131
2B
3
880
Ryan Braun
34
115
16
117
LF
4
876
Albert Belle
36
135
28
137
LF
5
866
Kirby Puckett*
39
160
22
122
CF
6
862
Mike Trout
35
105
28
101
CF
7
854
Luis Aparicio*
36
150
19
84
SS
8
846
Juan Gonzalez
40
123
17
105
-
9
824
Pete Browning
35
97
21
147
-
10
820
Al Rosen
29
83
23
97
3B
 
 
Average-Top 10
35.1
124.5
21.8
116.3
 
 
Trout appears on the list based on the scoring mechanism, but he’s not a useful comp since he’s mid-career and will obviously not be very comparable by the time his career is over.  Braun is also in mid-career, and probably not a great comp either, and Browning may not be a real useful comp either.  The #11 through #13 comps, if we want to sub, are Harvey Kuenn, Dale Murphy, and Vada Pinson, all good players, but none of whom are in the Hall at this point.
 
I was surprised that Mattingly didn’t get a better comp group considering his Hall of Fame Monitor score of 134 is pretty solid, but he has a bit of an unusual combination of scores.  His Hall of Fame Standards score of 34 is relatively low, and that hurts him.  It’s essentially the same issue that worked against him on the writers’ ballot (lack of impressive career totals), as I’m sure it didn’t help him on the most recent Veterans Committee ballot.  Note that Kirby Puckett is listed here, and he is also on Mattingly’s regular Similarity Score top 10 list.
 
Belle is an interesting comp, as he packed a lot early in his career, much as Mattingly did, but Belle played his last season at 33.  Al Rosen had the same type of career too…..some very strong seasons, but done by age 32.  Mattingly played his last at 34.  Puckett’s career ended abruptly at 35.  It seems to be a common theme in this group.
 
Donnie Baseball will no doubt hang around in the Hall of Fame discussion for many years to come, especially if he stays in the spotlight as a manager that is having at least some degree of success.  He was an impactful player in his era, but I’m not sure if he’ll be able to overcome the moderate career "counting" totals.
 
Dale Murphy
 
Rank
Score
Name
HOF Std
HOF Monitor
Black Ink
Gray Ink
Position
0
1,000
Dale Murphy
34
116
31
147
CF
1
894
Richie Ashburn*
41
112
32
156
CF
2
892
Albert Belle
36
135
28
137
LF
3
890
Max Carey*
36
77
32
148
CF
4
882
Tip O'Neill
33
113
36
121
LF
5-T
852
Pete Browning
35
97
21
147
CF
5-T
852
Dick Allen
39
99
27
159
1B
7
848
Dave Parker
42
125
26
145
RF
8
846
Mike Trout
35
105
28
101
CF
9-T
844
Hack Wilson*
39
100
31
110
CF
9-T
844
Tony Oliva
29
114
41
146
RF
 
 
Average-Top 10
36.5
107.7
30.2
137.0
 
 
Only 3 of Murphy’s top 10 comps are in the Hall of Fame, but 2 others (Allen and Parker) are certainly prominent in the ongoing discussion. 
 
As is the case with Mattingly’s group, Mike Trout makes a guest appearance, but he’s not useful.  O’Neill may not be real useful either, as he had a short career, mostly in the American Association.  And, for that matter, you could probably argue that Browning doesn’t help either.  If we subjectively eliminate those 3 and went deeper into the list for substitutes,  #11-13 would be Willie McCovey, Andres Galarraga, and, of course, Don Mattingly.
 
Murphy’s group tends to be low on Hall of Fame Standards, but generally does well by the other 3 metrics.   There is a lot of overlap with the next group:
 
Tony Oliva
 
Rank
Score
Name
HOF Std
HOF Monitor
Black Ink
Gray Ink
Position
0
1,000
Tony Oliva
29
114
41
146
RF
1
858
Tip O'Neill
33
113
36
121
LF
2
844
Dale Murphy
34
116
31
147
CF
3
782
Ralph Kiner*
35
137
52
145
LF
4
766
Richie Ashburn*
41
112
32
156
CF
5
762
Max Carey*
36
77
32
148
CF
6
746
George Burns
27
56
33
165
LF
7
740
Albert Belle
36
135
28
137
LF
8
736
Ross Barnes
29
78
60
147
2B
9
732
George Foster
27
92
26
119
LF
10
704
Pete Browning
35
97
21
147
-
 
 
Average-Top 10
33.3
101.3
35.1
143.2
 
 
A lot of the same players as in Murphy’s and Mattingly’s groups.  If we remove O’Neill, Barnes, and Browning, they would be replaced by Dick Allen, Hack Wilson, and Dave Parker, and they are probably better comps.
 
Note that the similarity scores are not real high, indicating that it was difficult to find really good across-the-board matches for Oliva’s specific metric combination.  Only 2 players scored above an 800 similarity, and one of those is the aforementioned O’Neill, who’s probably not a useful comp.
 
Oliva’s one of my "sleeper" candidates for the Hall of Fame.  Like Dick Allen, he just missed out on getting elected in the Golden Era ballot a few years ago.  Like Murphy’s group, this group rates well on the Monitor, in Black Ink, and in Gray Ink, but tends to run a little low on Hall of Fame Standards.  
 
I’ve always been drawn to cases like Oliva’s, where a player was impactful in a particular era, but then suffered injuries that derailed his career.  During his ’64-’71 8-year run, he’s all over the AL leader boards in several hitting categories.   I love his case, despite the soft career totals.   I hope he gets another chance.
 
Which leads to another favorite of mine:
 
Minnie Miñoso
 
Rank
Score
Name
HOF Std
HOF Monitor
Black Ink
Gray Ink
Position
0
1,000
Minnie Miñoso
35
87
15
189
LF
1
880
Bobby Veach
34
86
22
170
LF
2
878
Orlando Cepeda*
37
126
14
196
1B
3
870
Joey Votto
36
85
17
141
1B
4
866
Rocky Colavito
30
82
15
152
RF
5
864
Joe Jackson
40
122
14
186
LF
6
860
Mickey Vernon
33
72
14
149
1B
7
848
Enos Slaughter*
41
90
12
161
RF
8
844
Home Run Baker*
33
81
26
196
3B
9-T
836
Pete Browning
35
97
21
147
CF
9-T
836
Vada Pinson
36
95
18
135
CF
 
 
Average-Top 10
35.5
93.6
17.3
163.3
 
 
Miñoso’s comp group is a little on the soft side on Standards, Monitor, and Black Ink, but has generally high Gray Ink scores.  Only 3 of the 10 are in the Hall of Fame.
 
Votto’s still in mid-career and going strong, so he’s not a useful comp, and Pete Browning is worming his way into the conversation yet again.  I guess he hasn’t taken the hint yet.  The next 2 comps, if we want to sub, are Edd Roush and Elmer Flick, both of whom are in the Hall of Fame, which would increase the count to 5 among his top 10 comps.
 
One of the things that you can extract from his playing record is how exciting he must have been to watch.  He was an "extreme" player.  He "attacked" the game.  His Black Ink Score is a little low for a Hall of Famer, but one of the things it doesn’t count is the number of time he led the league in Hit by Pitch, which he did an amazing 10 times, more than anyone else in history….more than Don Baylor, more than Ron Hunt, more than Craig Biggio.  In the mid-to-late 1950’s, he generally led AL left fielders in putouts, assists….and errors.  I never got the chance to see him other than his gimmick appearances in his 50’s….but he must have been a blast to watch.
 
So, I’m still rooting for Miñoso for the Hall of Fame.  One of these days, they’ll come to their senses.  Count me as a yes.
 
Well, this could go on forever, and already has, but I think I’ll stop here.   If you are interested in how any of your favorites stack up, post a comment below and I’ll provide the top 10 for you.
 
Now, in a nod to my fellow Monty Python fans….
 
And Now For Something Completely Different
 
In contrast to all this talk about similarity, a few words about being different.  Or, putting it a another way…being "special".
 
One of my favorite articles of recent vintage regarding the Hall of Fame was posted by Joe Posnanski a couple of months ago entitled Aparicio v. Vizquel, where he does do some comparisons between the two players (in part because many others had previously done so), but he also uses the article as an opportunity to make some points regarding some other ways we perhaps should be thinking about the topic of the Hall of Fame
 
Here are 3 key excerpts (Posnanski’s words in bold & italics):
……..
What I’m trying to say is if we focus too much of our efforts on comparing players we end up missing something crucial. 
 
Every player must cut his own path to the Hall of Fame.
…….
 
The point is, Luis Aparicio is in the Hall of Fame because of what Luis Aparicio did. He didn’t create a "no-hit, good-field" shortstop route into the Hall. He created a Luis Aparicio route to the Hall of Fame. All of his talents, all of his flaws, his background, his style, his boldness as a player, the way he carried himself, the things teammates and opponents said about him, all of this is what convinced 84.6% of the voters to say, yes, this guy’s a Hall of Famer.
 
And, finally:
……..
 
Why do we have a Hall of Fame? To remember. And what is worth remembering? That’s the most important question, really.
……..
 
So, we tend to use similarity as a bit of a qualification test, to see if someone merits recognition for baseball’s highest honor by establishing a certain threshold of worthiness relative to what others have done.  But, in doing so, we often miss the fact that maybe we should not just be looking to see if a candidate is comparable to others that have already been honored, but whether or not there is anything special about the candidate.  What does he bring to the table?  Why should this person be honored?  What makes him particularly memorable? 
 
I started watching baseball very late in Willie Mays’ career.  He is probably the consensus as the best defensive center fielder ever, but I didn’t get to personally experience that.  I did get the pleasure of watching Cesar Geronimo patrol center field for the Reds, and, even though the success of that club was mostly driven by a lineup full of Hall of Famers and MVP’s and All-Stars, it was still a great comfort to see Geronimo out there gobbling up vast amounts of real estate with his long strides and, when necessary, unleashing cannon shots with his left arm.  At roughly the same time, I got to observe Garry Maddox cover center field in Philadelphia like a gazelle.  I got the pleasure of watching some outstanding defensive center fielders.
 
Then Andruw Jones came along. 
 
He expanded my concept of what a center fielder could do.  The way in which he tracked down fly balls…..it just seemed on a different level than I had ever seen.
 
Defensive analytics certainly support the notion that Jones was exceptional.  Here’s one quick example:
 
Career Leaders & Records for Total Zone Runs as CF (s.1953)
 
Rank
Player
Total Zone Runs as CF (since 1953)
1
Andruw Jones
220
2
Willie Mays
176
3
Paul Blair
171
4
Jim Piersall
128
5
Kenny Lofton
115
6
Devon White
112
7
Willie Davis
103
8
Curt Flood
99
9
Garry Maddox
98
10
Chet Lemon
96
 
Now, baseball-reference.com defines it as the following (while also noting that it is limited to 1953 to the present):
 
Total Zone Total Fielding Runs Above Avg - The number of runs above or below average the player was worth based on the number of plays made. This number combines the Rtz, Rdp, Rof, Rcatch numbers into a total defensive contribution. See the glossary section for a more complete explanation. Provided by BaseballProjection.com
 
Now, I can’t say that I understand fully understand all that, nor would I be able to calculate it, and I have no idea how accurate it ultimately is.  But I do know this:
 
  1. I think that list does a pretty good job of including most of the greatest defensive center fielders over the past 60+ years (although you could argue for Richie Ashburn (granted, this stat isn't availble for Ashburn's first 5 years) or Gary Pettis)

    and

  2. Andruw Jones is apparently of a different species
 
Is he the greatest defensive center fielder ever?  I don’t know.  I think he has an argument.
 
Would I vote for Andruw Jones for the Hall of Fame?  Well, I went on the record in Reader Posts recently with the 10 I’d vote for on this year’s ballot, plus 2 more that I would include if I had room.  Andruw Jones was not among them.  However…..I think he has an argument from this angle…..there was something special about the way he played center field.  And 434 home runs ain’t bad either.
 
Now, I’d feel better about supporting him if his career hadn’t gone downhill faster than Ingemar Stenmark (there’s a reference for you).  Those last 6 seasons of his career were hard to watch.  
 
To illustrate:
 
  • In part due to establishing success at an early age, his "regular" Similarity Score comps (most similar hitting stats) through age 29 included the likes of Eddie Mathews, Frank Robinson, Ken Griffey Jr., Al Kaline, and Miguel Cabrera among the top 10, with Hank Aaron at #11.  That’s not to say he was as good as they were, but that’s pretty impressive, especially considering that he was also playing a world class center field.
 
However….
 
  • By the end of his career, his top 10 comp list of hitters was reduced to Dale Murphy, Jose Canceso, Joe Carter, Jim Edmonds, Alfonso Soriano, Mark Teixeira, Gil Hodges, Duke Snider, Jason Giambi, and Paul Konerko.  Now, those are still good players…..but that’s a big step down.
 
With the type of start he had to his career, he seemed like he should have been a slam dunk Hall of Famer, perhaps destined for 500 or even 600 home runs and arguably as great a defensive center fielder as we’ve ever seen, but, in the end, there’s something that feels a little disappointing about his career.  He was never really a complete, well-rounded offensive player.  He had some holes in his game.  Early in his career, he seemed like he would be a 30 HR/30 stolen base type of player, but his stolen base aptitude evaporated at way too early an age.
 
Still….if anyone thinks Andruw Jones is a Hall of Famer, I’m not going to argue.  He’s certainly someone I think is worth remembering.  I felt like I was watching someone special. 
 
Hope you enjoyed this.  And, again, if you’re interested in running a player through the Hall of Fame Metrics Similarity Score, please post a comment.
 
Thank you for reading,

Dan 
 
 

COMMENTS (47 Comments, most recent shown first)

3for3
The good (great) thing about getting it on BBRef is that it would be updated automatically.
8:09 AM Jan 11th
 
MarisFan61
Dan: If Sean doesn't love it enough, you might look beyond there. In fact, no hyperflattery intended, I think this might in fact be better placed elsewhere, like as some independent thing.

Maybe look to get it in some journal, or anthology, or even to flesh it out further (including with lots of players' lists) for a little book of its own. But I know that trying to do a 'book' is harder and more complicated, in multiple ways.

Much that we see on this site would seem to merit being a book. I remember thinking it about Bill's 'Third Base Tournament' thing of several years ago (hey, here it is.... it turned up immediately by googling; I see that he called it the Brooks Robinson Tournament https://www.billjamesonline.com/article1405/ ) .....as well as various other things that we've had on here.
9:54 PM Jan 10th
 
DMBBHF
Thanks, Maris. If you really think this is worthy, I guess it can't hurt to reach out. I'll try it.

Thanks, and thanks to 3for3 as well for the notion. Guess we'll see if it goes anywhere.....

Dan
9:22 PM Jan 10th
 
MarisFan61
Dan: Sean Forman may be more easily accessible than we might assume.
There have been a couple of times (maybe not extremely recently; not sure) that I sent some kind of pretty routine notification to baseball-ref.com, and got a reply that seemed to be from him personally.
Here's the page for general feedback to them:
https://www.sports-reference.com/feedback/

It includes a box for which of the site's pages you're talking about, but I think you can leave that field blank; if not, I'd just indicate the page of any player that you've worked on.

I agree that this thing is worthy of wider notice.
8:50 PM Jan 10th
 
DMBBHF
3for3,

Thanks for the compliment. Anyone know the best way to get in touch with Sean Forman? :)

Here's the list for Eric Davis. He scores pretty low on all 4:

Score/Name/HOF Std/HOF Monitor/Black Ink/Gray Ink
1000/Eric Davis/27/25/0/61
948/Lu Blue/25/32/0/52
944/Fielder Jones/23/33/0/61
944/Ray Lankford/26/23/1/45
942/Dusty Baker/24/25/0/47
940/Kip Selbach/28/32/1/48
940/Bob Watson/24/28/0/49
936/Kent Hrbek/26/19/0/40
934/Jose Cruz/28/28/3/71
934/Ron Gant/26/44/0/52
934/George Hendrick/23/31/0/68

No Hall of Famers, but an interesting list. It would have been fun if his pal Darryl Strawberry had made it on here (he is on Davis' top 10 regular comp list), but Strawberry is 30/56/7/100 in these categories, which is quite a bit better, and way down the list of comps.

Thanks,
Dan

8:04 PM Jan 10th
 
3for3
Great article. Can you send this to BB Ref, so they can add it to their site? And for a player can you add Eric Davis?
9:35 AM Jan 10th
 
DMBBHF
OBS,

Thanks for the comment. I appreciate it.

Here's Rose. As you might guess, since he ranks pretty high in all 4 areas, his comp list is pretty stellar, and the similarity scores are fairly low, kind of for the same reason that the comps for his "regular" similarity scores are pretty low too. It's hard to find good, across the board matches.

Score/Name/HOF Std/HOF Monitor/Black Ink/Gray Ink
1000/Pete Rose/55/311/64/239
794/Mickey Mantle*/65/301/62/272
738/Mike Schmidt*/56/250/74/224
738/Jimmie Foxx*/72/314/59/257
688/Tony Gwynn*/54/279/57/155
682/Ed Delahanty*/65/235/59/231
622/Nap Lajoie*/66/264/76/266
620/Miguel Cabrera/62/263/43/241
602/Carl Yastrzemski*/60/215/55/206
596/Albert Pujols/70/314/45/268
572/Barry Bonds/77/340/69/289

Fisk's comp list is essentially the same as Beltran's that was covered in the article....about HOF-average on Standards, decent Monitor. but low Black and Gray Ink:

Score/Name/HOF Std/HOF Monitor/Black Ink/Gray Ink
1000/Carlton Fisk*/49/121/1/54
950/Gabby Hartnett*/48/121/0/69
946/Barry Larkin*/47/121/0/66
932/Jeff Kent/51/123/0/71
920/Bernie Williams/48/134/4/61
916/Carlos Beltran/52/126/1/76
908/Luis Gonzalez/48/103/5/57
884/Alan Trammell*/40/119/0/48
862/Mickey Cochrane*/54/137/0/77
860/Omar Vizquel/42/120/0/25
850/Ted Simmons/44/125/0/95

garywmaloney,

Thanks for the kind words. Here are Cey and Hodges:

Cey is pretty low across all 4, but he does draw some comps who, like him,
tend to be underrated as well, like Singleton, Clift, Cruz, and Wynn. Those are all good players, but they didn't do a lot that gets a lot of attention:

1000/Ron Cey/29/36/0/80
968/Bobby Wallace*/30/30/0/75
962/Ken Singleton/30/39/0/69
952/Harlond Clift/29/40/2/70
944/Jeff Heath/27/29/2/81
934/Joe Kuhel/25/29/1/79
926/Baby Doll Jacobson/27/57/1/81
926/Jose Cruz/28/28/3/71
924/Chick Stahl/24/44/0/85
924/Vic Wertz/26/35/0/102
922/Jim Wynn/30/36/4/94

The next ones down on the list (11-14) are Tim Salmon, Eric Davis, Charlie Keller, and Cesar Cedeno. Again, all really good ballplayers.

Here's Hodges:

Score/Name/HOF Std/HOF Monitor/Black Ink/Gray Ink
1000/Gil Hodges/32/83/2/128
946/Joe Gordon*/31/88/2/111
924/Ross Youngs*/32/73/5/115
912/Ken Boyer/36/87/4/138
906/Reggie Smith/35/65/4/124
904/Mike Donlin/32/65/3/103
904/Bob Elliott/34/62/2/111
896/Dixie Walker/35/83/9/126
890/Bobby Bonilla/32/65/3/96
888/Hal Trosky/30/77/6/108
884/Tony Perez*/41/81/0/129

This is pretty similar to the Reggie Smith group that was highlighted in the article. It's not a bad list....3 Hall of Famers, one of whom (Perez) was a player to whom Hodges is often compared. The other 2 Hall of Famers on the list (Youngs & Gordon) both had short careers, and may not be great comps. The best category by far for this group is the Gray Ink test....this group tended to do pretty well in that metric, even though a little below HOF average.

Thanks,
Dan




10:52 PM Jan 9th
 
garywmaloney
Brilliant article

Could you please run two Dodgers -- Ron Cey and Gil Hodges?

Thanks
8:34 PM Jan 9th
 
MarisFan61
Bryan: You're right, yes I do have to. :-)

Here's my problem: I thought Jeter was still about 20, and still is.
3:31 PM Jan 9th
 
chuck
In the Family of Hitters, Nettles is in the 505 Family, where their ratio of 2b-3b-HR is 50%-0%-50%, or 5-0-5.
I expanded this idea into groupings of players of the same family into different residences, the "addresses" of which are constructed from OPS+ ranges and walk rates.

Within the 505s, Nettles’ address is 1110, meaning: 110 OPS+ (the first two digits) and 10% unintentional walk rate (the last two).
There aren’t many 505’s with Nettles’ career length; but with a sizable career is
Andruw Jones, another elite defender, also living at the same 1110 address.

Others, living on either side of Nettles and Jones were
1109 Tino Martinez
1112 Robin Ventura,
who had similar OPS+ but different walk rates.

Closer to a 120 OPS+, with 8% to 11% walk rates:
1208 Gary Carter, Don Baylor
1209 Paul Konerko
1211 Ron Cey

Closer to 130 OPS+, with 9% to 11% walk rates:
1309 Eddie Murray, Johnny Bench
1310 Rafael Palmeiro
1311 Fred McGriff

Baylor, Cey and Konerko also appear on Nettles’ BB-Reference comp list.
3:11 PM Jan 9th
 
bhalbleib
Ozzie started the ASG in his age 39 season and made the team in his age 40 and 41 seasons (Larkin was the starter those two years).
Appling was 40 last time he made the team, he wasn't the starter though.
Fisk made the team as a 43 year old but he wasn't the starter.
Rose did start the ASG in his 40s, but by then he was a first baseman
3:03 PM Jan 9th
 
OldBackstop
Fisk? Rose?

Great article, btw.
11:59 AM Jan 9th
 
steve161
There is no lack of HOF arguments for Nettles, but I don't see that list as one of them. It shows his qualifications to be highly similar to a whole bunch of players who don't have much of an argument for the HOF.
11:57 AM Jan 9th
 
BryanBM
A 40 year old starting infielder in the all-star game and you came up with Ripken?

Time to burn your #2 jersey.
8:57 AM Jan 9th
 
MarisFan61
As long as we're on Nettles:
DID YOU KNOW..... (I didn't)

Nettles was the starting 3B for the N.L. in the 1985 All Star Game.

He was 40.
Actually closer to 41.

Has there ever been another infielder (not counting 1B -- that's not really "infielder") :-) who started in the all star game when he was that old?

Well OK, it wasn't hard to think of 1 other guy who did: Ripken.
He was just about exactly the same age.
Actually a week and a half younger, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Anybody else, I wonder.....​
8:20 AM Jan 9th
 
DMBBHF
Maris,

I don't know what's wrong with you. Finley is obviously a 5 as well. :)

OK...I'd remove "probably" if I could.

Dan
6:04 AM Jan 9th
 
MarisFan61
...oops, my math was off in that last sentence.
Fernandez has fully five-ninths the HOF argument of Nettles.
12:57 AM Jan 9th
 
MarisFan61
This is going to be maybe as mild a disagreement as exists. :-)

Dan: You said that Nettles "probably" has the best HOF case of any of those non-HOF comps (i.e. all the guys on his list except Maranville; BTW, for the record, I know we're not saying Nettles' case isn't as good as Maranville's, just that Maranville isn't a member of that sentence of yours).

My disagreement is that "probably" is way too much of an understatement.

Here's a seat-of-the-pants rating of the HOF cases of these guys.

Let's say Nettles is a 9.
No particular reason I'm saying '9,' just that 10 would seem to mean I'm saying he's a perfect candidate, so I'm saying 9, which also works nicely from a uniform number standpoint. :-)

If Nettles is a 9, I'd say those others are:

Shawn Green 4
Garret Anderson 4
Tony Fernandez 5
Luis Castillo 0 (would be 3 if I hadn't seen that game against the Yanks with Teixeira at 1st base; actually I didn't see it, I was hearing it on the radio, but that was enough to make him 0) :-)
Chuck Knoblauch 0 (would be 4 if didn't see his last coupa yrs w Yanks)
Troy Glaus 3
Steve Finley 4
Riggs Stephenson 2
Bret Boone 3

I think that's about right. I don't think any of those guys have half the HOF case of Nettles.

12:55 AM Jan 9th
 
DMBBHF
Thanks for the ongoing comments, guys.

MWeddell,

I'll have to get back to your Kevin Brown request at another time, since to this point I only developed the tool for position players. But, if I do an article with a similar tool for pitchers (which I hope to do), I'll be sure to include him.

Steven,

Thanks for clarifying the "doing Hernandez" request. :)

Here's Keith's list. The group tends to be a little light on all 4 metrics. 3 of the 10 are Hall of Famers, which is actually 3 more than are on his "regular" Similarity Scores top 10. Cooper is on his regular top 10 list as well as this one.

Score/Name/HOF Std/HOF Monitor/Black Ink/Gray Ink
1000/Keith Hernandez/32/86/14/118
918/Edd Roush*/36/72/14/125
918/Joe Carter/32/87/9/103
912/Prince Fielder/27/85/14/100
908/Cecil Cooper/28/96/12/112
900/Mickey Vernon/33/72/14/149
900/Larry Doby*/30/72/18/124
898/Dixie Walker/35/83/9/126
898/Bob Meusel/31/76/9/107
894/Rocky Colavito/30/82/15/152
892/George Kell*/29/90/16/93


Nettles9,

Here's Nettles' list. One Hall of Famer (Maranville). Nettles probably has the best case of any of the non-Hall of Famers on here.

Score/Name/HOF Std/HOF Monitor/Black Ink/Gray Ink
1000/Graig Nettles/31/63/4/56
950/Shawn Green/33/62/3/65
950/Rabbit Maranville*/30/59/2/50
948/Garret Anderson/33/74/4/51
946/Tony Fernandez/32/75/3/51
946/Luis Castillo/31/61/4/31
938/Chuck Knoblauch/33/68/3/67
936/Troy Glaus/28/59/4/43
928/Steve Finley/36/72/4/54
928/Riggs Stephenson/32/57/2/41
926/Bret Boone/27/63/4/39

Thanks,
Dan

9:36 PM Jan 8th
 
nettles9
Would it be possible to see Graig Nettles’ comps, please? Thank you.
7:07 PM Jan 8th
 
MWeddell
Tremendous work that resulted in a very fun article.

Another request: Kevin Brown please. He didn't get more than a sniff from the BBWAA voters, but maybe that was because they were in more of an anti-PED mood then rather than that Brown didn't have the traditional credentials. I think I did include him on my GOR ballot, but only a minority of us did so.
2:22 PM Jan 8th
 
MarisFan61
Chuck: I don't think it would be real indicative to do 'weighting' on Gray Ink. To the extent that it's an attempt to quantify the way that we "see" players -- which I think it is; i.e. the way we see them as opposed to an actual quantification of their performance (right??? that's how I've always seen the point of it), I think the main thing is merely whether the guy led the league, or was 'merely' among the next guys. I don't mean that 10th is just as good as 2nd, but I certainly do mean that for what I'm talking about, 3rd is just about as good as 2nd, and so is 4th, and 2nd isn't at all close to the significance of 1st.

I realize that this gets into what the basic point of "Gray Ink" is -- and y'know, I've never seen it discussed. I've just always 'assumed' the point, from how I view it.
12:56 PM Jan 8th
 
chuck
Dan, thanks for providing the Sosa and Palmeiro comps.
I like ventboys’ thought on doing something here with position adjustment of Familes of Hitters. For using Bill’s Families of Hitters idea, one might come up with a simpler (2b+3b)/HR ratio for each player, and again assign points based on the difference in those ratios. Lumping the doubles and triples together would take out some of the era problems, where the early 20th Century parks shaped that distribution much differently than now.
This would go a long way to grouping sluggers vs line drive types, and might also do a lot of the work a position adjustment would do.

Looking through Gray Ink on BB-Reference, I was struck by how slugging is used, but not on base percentage. Yes, it’s a system of trying to identify Hall chances, not worthiness. The system uses four divisions of point assignments for being in the top 10,
4 pts: HR, average, RBI
3 pts: slugging, runs and hits
2 pts: doubles, walks, and stolen bases
1 pt: games, at bats, triples

the goal being to identify players’ [u]chances[/], not merit, as voting has traditionally favored things in that kind of weighting (apparently). But I think ideas on the weighting of accomplishments are changing- like the hour hand, but changing- from when this system was introduced. I would guess that a lot of voters now have on base percentage on their radar, up there with slugging.

I would also think that the Gray Ink could be modified to also weight by placement in the top 10- for example: leading in HR would be 10 points, finishing 10th would be 1 point. These, then, could be multiplied by those four different values above, though some study of electees over the past 25 years may show that those point values and/or categories could use some changes.
12:35 PM Jan 8th
 
DavidTodd
Very good reading, and analysis, thanks.
11:42 AM Jan 8th
 
Steven Goldleaf
Can you do Keith Hernandez? (Not in the Elaine Benes sense.)
10:23 AM Jan 8th
 
DMBBHF
Chuck,

Another follow-up....I'll get back to you later on an "All-Rolen" team.

Thanks,
Dan
7:17 AM Jan 8th
 
DMBBHF
Thanks for all the continued comments.

Maris - you're right....the names are often surprising because they're often not similar "types" of players, in the traditional sense.

Thanks for the feedback Terry.

Chuck - let me know what you think of Terry's comment and if you see some opportunity to combine some efforts.

Also, Chuck, re: Sosa & Palmeiro - they have pretty strong comps based on these measures, as they placed pretty well across the board (although Palmeiro's a little light on Black Ink). The similarity scores aren't real high either on Sosa's comps.....they're higher on Palmeiro.

Score/Name/HOF Std/HOF Monitor/Black Ink/Gray Ink
1000/Sammy Sosa/52/202/28/138
850/Roberto Clemente*/51/231/23/154
836/Jesse Burkett*/56/191/31/174
832/David Ortiz/55/171/25/161
804/Willie Keeler*/49/189/20/168
804/Paul Molitor*/59/166/24/145
798/Ernie Banks*/46/170/26/167
796/Hugh Duffy*/55/155/35/143
786/George Sisler*/44/200/29/198
776/Ken Griffey*/61/235/26/162
774/Reggie Jackson*/54/171/35/175


Score/Name/HOF Std/HOF Monitor/Black Ink/Gray Ink
1000/Rafael Palmeiro/57/178/8/183
910/Eddie Murray*/56/155/11/181
868/Goose Goslin*/61/159/10/200
864/Vladimir Guerrero/59/209/6/166
858/Eddie Mathews*/54/162/16/183
828/Dave Winfield*/56/148/4/152
824/Al Kaline*/58/160/12/228
814/Todd Helton/59/175/16/143
812/Frankie Frisch*/60/185/12/131
804/Joe Morgan*/56/172/15/131
776/Jim Thome/57/156/13/118

Thanks,
Dan
7:15 AM Jan 8th
 
chuck
Thank you for the excellent piece, Dan. I wonder what the all-Rolen team might look like on paper- one at every position who has underwhelmed Hall voters, despite high career numbers in things like rWAR.

I'd be interested to see the comps for Rafael Palmeiro. His positive test is the big thing keeping him out, coming on the heels of his testimony; but as we saw in Bill's recent 1st base write-up of the most recent era, he didn't exactly light up the top of the 1st base lists. Sosa would be another I'd be interested in, should you have the time & inclination.
10:44 PM Jan 7th
 
MarisFan61
.....Nah, about whether the lists of McDougald and Power are so unusually weird, I guess others here are just as weird or close. Beltran for sure, Mattingly....
Just about all the lists have surprising names, certainly much more so than 'regular' comps lists.
10:22 PM Jan 7th
 
ventboys
I really like this, Dan - I would use it if it was listed on BBR (or somewhere) for question 7 of the Test (the comps question).

I wonder if you could combine it with Chuck's work on extra base shapes and maybe do some sort of mild position adjustment. You might be able to unearth some truly comparable players across eras that nobody would have otherwise noted.
10:09 PM Jan 7th
 
DMBBHF
Hi OwenH,

Yeah, Bando's kind of in that same group, certainly underrated yet at the same time I think he's well respected for being one of the leaders of those great A's teams. He had a nice run of high MVP finishes in the early 70's.

His comp list isn't overly impressive, though, as he's kind of low across the board in these metrics.

In looking at the names, the pattern that strikes me is that a lot of these guys were on successful teams and were valuable contributors to those teams, but typically not the best player on the team (Otis, Furillo, May, Powell, Henrich). Good players, but typically 2nd or 3rd (or 4th or 5th) bananas:

Score/Name/HOF Std/HOF Monitor/Black Ink/Gray Ink
1000/Sal Bando/25/35/6/85
954/Amos Otis/27/42/6/91
948/Carl Furillo/27/41/6/75
948/Jack Tobin/26/55/6/84
946/Clyde Milan/23/24/6/79
940/Arlie Latham/25/46/7/71
938/Lee May/21/35/4/84
934/Boog Powell/25/45/3/93
932/Tommy Henrich/27/49/5/80
930/Frank Chance*/24/22/7/73
928/Bobby Murcer/26/29/3/95

Thanks,
Dan

10:09 PM Jan 7th
 
MarisFan61
Dan -- Thanks!!

Would we say that both of those guys that I requested, Vic Power and Gil McDougald, have pretty weird "comps" lists, maybe close to the weirdest that there would be?

For starters, yeah, it's not just weird but ironic that Dick Stuart makes it onto Vic Power's list. As you probably saw, I just got done saying that they're "about as yin and yang as you can get."
And, besides Stuart, only 2 of the others on his list are 1B's -- although I ought to mention that Power played at other positions a fair amount, and at least a little bit everywhere except catcher (and pitcher).
10:03 PM Jan 7th
 
OwenH
Dan, great article. I enjoyed it quite a lot.

Who are Sal Bando's comps? He's another one in that Nettles, Rolen, Ken Boyer cluster of almost good enough third basemen, I guess.
9:48 PM Jan 7th
 
DMBBHF
Thanks for all the comments, guys....

Marisfan,

Here are the comp lists for the players you asked about. I find it rather humorous that Dick Stuart ends up on Vic Power's list...... :)

As you can see, both of these examples have comps with really high similarity scores.

Score/Name/HOF Std/HOF Monitor/Black Ink/Gray Ink
1000/Vic Power/17/38/1/63
972/Frank Malzone/17/30/2/62
968/George McQuinn/17/39/1/48
962/Ken Keltner/19/37/1/71
958/Johnny Callison/17/36/4/59
952/Vince DiMaggio/17/16/1/61
950/Bill Skowron/17/38/0/43
950/Gus Bell/20/40/2/66
950/Whitey Kurowski/17/42/0/79
948/Dick Stuart/17/31/4/59
946/Dode Paskert/17/16/0/63


Score/Name/HOF Std/HOF Monitor/Black Ink/Gray Ink
1000/Gil McDougald/21/54/1/22
958/Richie Sexson/21/46/1/35
952/Lew Fonseca/21/45/4/22
950/Don Kessinger/19/44/0/22
948/Rip Radcliff/22/43/3/22
946/Jason Bay/21/47/1/42
944/Greg Vaughn/25/51/0/22
944/Mike Lowell/23/41/0/22
944/Leo Cardenas/19/36/1/22
940/Shannon Stewart/21/34/0/27
938/Edgardo Alfonzo/21/28/0/22

Thanks,
Dan

9:03 PM Jan 7th
 
MarisFan61
Since you asked for requests, here are a couple. I won't complain if you don't do them. :-;;;

Vic Power
Gil McDougald
8:42 PM Jan 7th
 
MarisFan61
(Isaac: No, you meant Harlond Clift.) :-) :-)

No problem. Close enough. To tell the truth I don't think I would have noticed that you said "Harold" in the first place if you hadn't said anything about it.....
8:37 PM Jan 7th
 
MarisFan61
Great article!
Very interesting method, and great choices of players to look at.

I wish you'd also done a few thousand others too. :-)
8:35 PM Jan 7th
 
bearbyz
Excellent article, I enjoyed it a lot.
8:18 PM Jan 7th
 
isaaclightstone
Whoops, I meant Harland Clift, of course.
7:58 PM Jan 7th
 
isaaclightstone
Great article! I especially enjoyed the comps for Jose Cruz who I remember as a Cardinal when I first became a fan in the early 70's. Harold Clift was my mother's all time favorite player for her favorite team the St. Louis Browns and I work with the Granddaughter in law of ex Browns player Marty McManus.​
7:57 PM Jan 7th
 
DMBBHF
Thanks, SteveN. I guess it could have been worse....you could have gone with HOFMiSS....
2:32 PM Jan 7th
 
SteveN
"Hall of Fame Metric Similarity Scores" = HOFMeSS
2:29 PM Jan 7th
 
DMBBHF
Hi Nettles9,

I have to say that, subjectively, among third basemen, I like Nettles' case at least as much as I like Rolen's, and probably more. I would say the same about Ken Boyer.

Thanks,
Dan
2:21 PM Jan 7th
 
Manushfan
Oh some interesting names there-Wally Moses, Cedeno, Willie Davis etc. That's a fun system you have there. Not sure that Cheo was a Hof, but it's good to see him in the conversation
2:20 PM Jan 7th
 
nettles9
I wish Graig Nettles would be voted into the Hall of Fame. Then I’d go to that ceremony in Cooperstown. Great work.
2:13 PM Jan 7th
 
DMBBHF
Hi Manushfan,

Thanks for the comments.

Here's who comes up as the top 10 for Cruz Sr., excluding any active players. You're right, very underrated.

I know it's not as easy to read in the comments as it is in the article, but hopefully it doesn't come across too bad in "slash" form.

It's interesting that his teammate for several years in Houston (Cedeno) is his #1 comp.

Score/Name/HOF Std/HOF Monitor/Black Ink/Gray Ink
1000/Jose Cruz/28/28/3/71
958/Cesar Cedeno/28/43/4/70
958/Jeff Heath/27/29/2/81
954/Harlond Clift/29/40/2/70
948/Wally Moses/28/45/3/62
944/Marty McManus/30/26/4/60
938/Bobby Wallace*/30/30/0/75
936/Jim Gilliam/25/42/3/68
936/Danny Tartabull/26/31/3/52
934/Eric Davis/27/25/0/61
932/Willie Davis/28/50/2/64

Thanks,
Dan
2:06 PM Jan 7th
 
Manushfan
That was a lot of fun to read, esp once you get to all the players below.

Rate Jose Cruz Sr. His top ten comps. I think he's forever going to be under-rated.
1:50 PM Jan 7th
 
 
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