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Is Robinson Cano Already a Hall of Famer?

May 17, 2018
 The Mariners were dealt two tough blows in a row with Robinson Cano's broken hand and 80 game suspension for masking performance-enhancing drugs. This will break an impressive streak of eleven straight seasons with at least 150 games played for Cano, and the interruption brings with it the opportunity to talk about his career and how his Hall of Fame chances might be affected.

We will leave the performance enhancer conversation out of this, because that mostly relies on personal opinions about how the Hall of Fame should be handled. But given Cano's accomplishments so far, how does he stack up to his contemporaries and others who have already been enshrined?

Bill James created the Hall of Fame Monitor to answer exactly that question. This tool assigns a numeric value to a player's career accomplishments based on how voters have weighed different statistical benchmarks and awards in the past. All Star appearances, 200-hit seasons, holding a .300 batting average, it all goes into the pot, and we get a counting stat in which reaching 100 points makes you more likely than not to be a Hall of Famer, but a score as low as 70 could make you viable depending on the other voting circumstances. Recent enshrinee Jim Thome has a 104, for example. Albert Pujols started this season at a whopping 237.

Cano started this season at 130. That's almost certainly Hall-of-Fame caliber thanks to his consistent ability to hit .300 with solid power so he could both knock in and score runs. Among active players, he started this year behind only Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Ichiro, and Clayton Kershaw, all of whom would be considered locks themselves.

Bill James Hall of Fame Monitor Active Leaders Through 2017

Player Score
Albert Pujols 237
Miguel Cabrera 189
Ichiro Suzuki 158
Clayton Kershaw 132
Robinson Cano 130
Justin Verlander 118
Adrian Beltre 110
Ryan Braun 97
Mike Trout 95
Max Scherzer 95

* Per 2018 Bill James Handbook

Cano was also on pace to reach the 3,000 hit plateau, which comes into question with this mostly-lost season. Per another Bill James creation, the Favorite Toy, Cano had a 57 percent chance to get there to start the year, and that number will fall below even odds once he returns.


COMMENTS (10 Comments, most recent shown first)

If you have a system that makes changes based on your own opinion, you don't have a system. You have an opinion. Nothing wrong with that, of course. But it helps to call a spade a spade.
7:13 PM May 20th
The only thing I'm stunned about it is how big a deal some are making of this. To say it will cost him the HOF, when others who been publicly humiliated are now gaining support for and will eventually get in- is absurd. Ball players cheating (if true in this case) is as old as the hills.
8:12 PM May 18th
Seems to me likewise that a lot of people are bending over backwards -- beyond a "Say it ain't so Joe" kind of way, more like "It can't be so, can it."
7:39 PM May 18th
In response to gmouser:

Ever heard of anyone (I mean ANYONE) being prescribed furosemide for edema that DID NOT have heart failure or kidney disease? Those are serious issues that would keep someone from playing professional sports. Come on, he failed a test earlier this year and took furosemide to mask the use of the PEDs so he wouldn't fail again while he appealed.

I mean, why do people alibi for these players? The details are out there, just Google the story.
12:28 PM May 18th
Great topic! Very appropriate at the current time. He has the credentials beyond the shadow of a doubt. He's well on his way to 3000 Hits and is one of the best secondbasemen of all -time.
5:57 PM May 17th
Very odd: "We will leave the performance enhancer conversation out of this...."

Besides that, the grammar of the title is odd too.
Even if one thinks it makes current sense to talk about this without that factor being front and center, in that case the title should be in the past tense, not the present:
"Was Robinson Cano Already a Hall of Famer?"

The answer to that, I think pretty clearly, was: Sure, provided nothing weird were to happen.
So clear that I'm not sure there's much reason to have such an article, especially right now, except to look at it in terms of the new factor.
Besides that -- now or any other foreseeable time -- the only real wonderment would be first-ballot or not, and what % of the vote.
5:17 PM May 17th
Following along with Alex's suggestion of leaving PED questions out of it for the moment, I am by far most surprised to see how highly Ryan Braun scores on the Monitor.

Everyone else in the Top 10 I would have anticipated, but Braun's peak just felt shorter my head he was a guy who looked like he was on a HOF path when he was young, but fell off the pace by turning into a pumpkin at 30.

3:27 PM May 17th
Cano took Lasix (furosemide). Lasix itself is not a performance enhancer. It can be used to mask PEDs, but is also prescribed for things like Edema. The drug has been listed for a very long time as restricted under the policy, so anyone thinking that Cano was doing this because "he had the best doctors" to avoid detection, hasn't studied the issue. If he was intentionally doping no one with any clue would have suggested taking Lasix to mask it.

There are several drugs that I've been given in my life that, if I were an MLB player, could get me suspended. This is why they tend to go through team doctors, to avoid inadvertently tripping the test. Since he was in the Dominican, he went to a doctor there. It may well cost him HOF consideration, but treating a Lasix positive test the same as finding anabolic steroids is unfair.
3:11 PM May 17th
Bill just had an article where he scored the active (and newly retired) players according to a new system (article titled 4074). Cano was listed as near-lock, with the 4th highest total (122) among active position players, behind Pujols, Cabrera, and Mauer, with Bill acknowledging that Mauer might be overrated by the system.
2:44 PM May 17th
I had him ranked ninth among second basemen all-time (​f-all-time/), but after his suspension for PEDs, that knocks him down several notches.

My rankings treat all players who have failed tests and been suspended the same. And it assumes the player was cheating for as long as they could.

Does anyone really believe that Cano started using PEDs in the offseason? That he never took them before? He signed a $200 million deal four years ago and he has the resources to use the best doctors, lab techs, scientists, etc. to game the system.

These players think they're smart enough to beat the system, that they're the ones who won't get caught because they have the best stuff and the best technique to mask their use. Assuming he just started it because he just got caught is like assuming a bank robber only stole once after getting caught in his getaway car for the first time.

Cano is a fraud. He defrauded the public, the league, his team, the fans, his teammates. He violated his contract. He was not suspended for using a diaretic. He was suspended for using a drug that masks the PED he had been using and was busted for in a previous test. This was merely the "gotcha" in the process.

He'll never hoist a Hall of Fame plaque. And he doesn't deserve it. PEDs have been an issue for years and years, he knew what the consequences were.
1:36 PM May 17th
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