Is the Expansion Era ballot all it could be?

November 27, 2013

So we have a new Hall of Fame ballot, intended to address the question of whether some (highly) qualified players whose careers extended through the period bounded by roughly 1973 and 1990 (which Major League Baseball is, for some reason, calling the "expansion era").  Six of the people on that ballot are there as players:

Catcher:  Ted Simmons
First Base:  Steve Garvey
Shortstop:  Dave Concepcion
Right Field:  Dave Parker
Starting Pitcher:  Tommy John
Relief Pitcher: Dan Quisenberry

I thought it would be useful (for my own purposes) to take a look at these players, compared to other players from the same time period, to see (a) whether we have the best candidates from the period and (b) whether they (or someone else) has a strong case for the Hall of Fame.

Fortunately, for my purposes, Baseball Reference has a marvelous set of links that allowed me to download career data for all HoF eligible players, and including their career Wins Above Replacement (WAR) and Jay Jaffe’s WAR7 (WAR in their 7 best years), and his JAWS rating, which is (if I remember correctly) simply the average of WAR and WAR7.  Let’s do this position-by-position, and see what we get.  My bottom line is this:  MLB got the best candidate among eligible catchers, and missed quite badly at first base, shortstop, right field.  Tommy John is a reasonable, if not the best, candidate as a starter (Rick Reuschel and Luis Tiant look a little better).  And Quisenberry has a WAR total just about identical to Kent Tekulve and Sparky Lyle.  Besides, I’m not sure we know, really, how to evaluate relief pitchers for the Hall yet.

One clearly right out of six is not an impressive accomplishment.

CATCHER
Mean WAR for HoF Catchers:  52.7
Median WAR for HoF Catchers:  52.7
Mean WAR7 for HoF Catchers:  34.3
Third Quartile WAR for HoF Catchers:  41.0
Mean JAWS for HoF Catchers:  43.5

Three catchers had careers that match up well with the 1973-1990 period:  Ted Simmons (1968-1988), Gene Tenace (1969-1983), and Thurman Munson (1969-1979) and who might be regarded as plausible candidates among catchers in this period for the Hall.  Here’s how they line up.  Darryl Porter and Jim Sundberg  follow these three in terms of WAR, but both have between 40 and 41 WAR, which is a considerable gap.

Player

WAR

WAR7

JAWS

Simmons

50.2

43.1

42.4

Tenace

46.8

34.7

40.9

Munson

45.9

36.9

41.4

Simmons is clearly the best qualified of the three, and would not lead to any significant lowering of the quality of catchers in the Hall.  Tenace and Munson are both reasonably well qualified on the basis of their career peaks, but slightly below Jaffe’s JAWS standard.  All three are at a minimum marginally qualified for the HoF, and Simmons seems to me to be well-qualified.

 

FIRST BASE
Mean WAR for HoF First Basemen:  60.9
Median WAR for HoF First Basemen:  64.9
Mean WAR7 for HoF First Basemen:  42.2
Third Quartile WAR for HoF First Basemen : 54.2
Mean JAWS for HoF First Basemen:  53.5

The candidates here start with Keith Hernandez (1974-1990), and include Steve Garvey (1969-1987), Cecil Cooper (1971-1987), and Mike Hargrove (1974-1985).  Seriously, those are the top four.  Here’s what we get:

Player

WAR

WAR7

JAWS

Hernandez

60.1

41.0

50.6

Garvey

37.6

28.4

33.6

Cooper

35.8

30.0

32.9

Hargrove

30.2

24.1

27.2

One of those four is clearly not like the other three, and it’s not Steve Garvey.  Hernandez had a significantly more valuable career than Garvey, who, despite some gaudy career numbers, really looks more like Cecil Cooper than like a serious Hall of Fame candidate.  And Hernandez’s numbers match up well in value with the median first basemen in the Hall.  A clear miss.

 

SECOND BASE:
Mean WAR for HoF Second Basemen:  60.9
Median WAR for HoF Second  Basemen:  64.9
Mean WAR7 for HoF Second Basemen:  42.2
Third Quartile WAR for HoF Second Basemen : 54.2
Mean JAWS for HoF Second Basemen:  53.5

There is no second baseman on the list of candidates, but it’s worth asking who would make the best choice.  The three best options would be Bobby Grich (1970-1986), Willie Randolph (1975-1992), and Davy Lopes (1972-1987).  Many users of advanced performance metrics are strong supporters of Grich’s HoF case, and Randolph has an almost equally good one.  Lopes has his detractors (especially among those who focus on defense), but he was one of the best, most consistent, and most successful base-stealers ever.  Here are their numbers:

Player

WAR

WAR7

JAWS

Grich

71.0

46.3

56.3

Randolph

65.6

36.1

50.9

Lopes

42.0

29.8

35.9

To my mind, Grich and Randolph are both quality candidates for the Hall; Grich is, if anything, over-qualified.  (Lou Whitaker is also, to me, a slam-dunk candidate, but his career falls outside the time frame I’m considering here.)  Grich surpasses the average HoF second baseman in WAR, in peak, and in JAWS.  Randolph’s WAR exceeds the mean and median HoF numbers and is only slightly below Jaffe’s JAWS standard.  He had a somewhat lower peak, but a long and productive career.  Lopes falls short across the board.  Why MLB ignored Grich is beyond me.

 

THIRD BASE:
Mean WAR for HoF Third Basemen:  68.8
Median WAR for HoF Third  Basemen:  73.1
Mean WAR7 for HoF Third Basemen:  43.9
Third Quartile WAR for HoF Third Basemen : 45.5 
Mean JAWS for HoF Third Basemen:  56.4

Third base is probably the most under-represented position in the Hall, with only 13 players selected for their performance as players at the hot corner.  Yet no third baseman appears on this "expansion era" make-up ballot.  The best candidates are Graig Nettles (1967-1988), Buddy Bell (1972-1989), Sal Bando (1966-1981), and Darrell Evans (1969-1989).  Bando’s career is not as good a time-line fit, but it’s close enough.

Player

WAR

WAR7

JAWS

Nettles

68.0

42.2

55.1

Bell

65.9

40.2

53.1

Bando

61.6

44.4

53.0

Evans

58.5

37.1

47.8

Frankly, Nettles, Bell, and Bando all look quite well-qualified to me, while Evans has a somewhat weaker case.  While the average performance of  HoF third basemen exceeds that of all of these players, Nettles, Bell, and Bando are very close to that average, and considerably exceed the third quartile level of performance.  And Evans performed at a level well above the third quartile of third basemen as well.  Adding all four of these players to the Hall would not be a bad idea.

 

SHORTSTOP:
Mean WAR for HoF Shortstops:  66.5
Median WAR for HoF Shortstops:  66.4
Mean WAR7 for HoF Shortstops:  42.8
Third Quartile WAR for HoF Shortstops:  48.5
Mean JAWS for HoF Shortstops:  54.6

 Who does our group include at shortstop, in addition to Dave Concepcion (1970-1988), who is on the ballot?  Bert Campaneris (1964-1983) started and ended his career a little earlier; and Bill Russell (1969-1986) is in the ballpark.

Player

WAR

WAR7

JAWS

Campaneris

53.3

36.7

45.0

Concepcion

40.0

29.8

34.9

Russell

31.0

21.1

26.1

Looks to me like they picked the wrong guy.  Campaneris was better in every respect than was Concepcion—and he also played on an outstanding team that had a great in-season and post-season run in the 1970s.  Although Campy falls short of the average HoF shortstop, he’s well above the third quartile—which Concepcion is not.  Russell isn’t really even in the conversation.

 

LEFT FIELD:
Mean WAR for HoF Left Fielders:  64.3
Median WAR for HoF Left Fielders:  60.0
Mean WAR7 for HoF Left Fielders:  41.1
Third Quartile WAR for Left Fielders:  47.2
Mean JAWS for HoF Left Fielders:  52.7

The ballot also has no left-fielders or center-fielders on it, but we’ll look at the candidates anyway.  I’m not quite sure why the standards for left fielders seem to be so low (albeit higher than those for center fielders—see below—but, then CFs have much greater defensive responsibilities), but they are.  The best candidates include Jose Cruz (1970-1988), Brian Downing (1973-1992), and George Foster (1969-1986). 

Player

WAR

WAR7

JAWS

Cruz

54.3

36.2

45.3

Downing

51.4

29.0

40.2

Foster

44.0

36.8

40.4

Foster, interestingly, has a slightly higher peak than Cruz, but otherwise trails both Cruz and Downing.  Cruz and Downing exceed the third quartile performance for HoF left fielders, but lag behind the average WAR and the peak performance levels.  Neither Cruz nor Downing would be an awful choice for the Hall (Cruz, in my mind, has a much stronger case), but neither has a terribly strong case, either.

 

CENTER FIELD:
Mean WAR for HoF Center Fielders:  71.3
Median WAR for HoF Center Fielders:  58.5
Mean WAR7 for HoF Center Fielders:  44.5
Third Quartile WAR for Center Fielders:  45.5
Mean JAWS for HoF Center Fielders:  57.8

Not a strong set of candidates here.  Chet Lemon (1975-1990), Cesar Cedeno (1970-1986), and Fred Lynn (1974-1990) are the leading three.  Center field has surprisingly low performance standards, probably because so much weight is given to offense.  The mean performance level of HoF center fielders is  very high—but that’s largely because of the four leaders—all of whom [Mays (156.1); Cobb (151.1); Speaker (133.9); and Mantle (109.7)] compiled about 7 or 8 careers worth of HoF quality performance between them.

Player

WAR

WAR7

JAWS

Lemon

55.3

37.0

46.2

Cedeno

52.6

41.2

46.9

Lynn

46.9

38.2

44.1

This is a really tight grouping, across the board.  Lemon had the best career total WAR, but the lowest peak.  Cedeno had the highest peak and the best JAWS.  All three exceed the third quartile performance, but none exceeds the median and none exceeds the average peak performance (although Cedeno is close).  My own feeling is that if one of these players does belong in the Hall, it’s Cedeno.  But if none of the three gets in, that’s pretty much OK with me.

 

RIGHT FIELD:
Mean WAR for HoF Right Fielders:  77.2
Median WAR for HoF Right Fielders:  70.6
Mean WAR7 for HoF Right Fielders:  44.6
Third Quartile WAR for Right Fielders:  54.1
Mean JAWS for HoF Right Fielders:  60.9

Here be monsters.  Consider that five RFs had career WAR in excess of 100 (Ruth, Aaron, Musial, Ott, F. Robinson) and two more (Clemente and Kaline) exceeded 90.  The 12th highest career WAR (Harry Heilmann, 72.2) would rank no worse tthan 7th at any other position (2B).  So who has a chance in right field?  Well, Dave Parker (1973-1991) is on the ballot.  Dwight Evans (1972-1991), Reggie Smith (1966-1982), Jack Clark (1975-1992), and Ken Singleton 91970-1984) are also worth considering.

Player

WAR

WAR7

JAWS

Evans

66.7

37.0

51.8

Smith

64.4

38.5

51.4

Clark

51.9

31.3

42.1

Singleton

41.8

33.7

37.8

Parker

40.0

37.3

38.6

I initially wondered why Parker was on the ballot, rather than Evans of Smith (both of whom had dramatically more valuable careers).  The answer is Parker’s peak, slightly higher (and earlier) than that of Evans) and about equal to Smith’s.  Still, Parker’s overall value is clearly lower than that of the top three, and only about equal to that of Singleton.  This is a second case in which, it seems to me, that MLB made a clear error.  Evans and Smith are quite reasonable HoF choices, while Parker is equally clearly not.

 

STARTING PITCHERS:
Mean WAR for HoF Starting Pitchers:  73.0
Median WAR for HoF Starting Pitchers:  65.6
Mean WAR7 for HoF Starting Pitchers:  50.9
Third Quartile WAR for Starting Pitchers:  56.3
Mean JAWS for HoF Starting Pitchers:  60.2

We once again seem to have monsters stalking the land.  But who are the best of the "expansion era"?  Rick Reuschel, Luis Tiant, Tommy John, Frank Tanana, and Jerry Koosman would seem to be the candidates.  Here’s what it looks like:

Player

WAR

WAR7

JAWS

Reuschel

70.0

43.8

57.0

Tiant

66.7

44.6

55.7

John

62.0

34.7

48.3

Tanana

57.9

38.5

48.2

Koosman

53.8

36.6

45.2

I see three strong candidates—Reuschel, Tiant, and John, and two who are clearly second-tier.  Reuschel appears to have had the best overall career, and Tiant the highest peak.  But John was very good for a very long time, and was also very, very famous.  I’d take both Reuschel and Tiant before him, but he’s clearly a good choice.  I will add that there are a three additional monster starting pitchers, with career WAR above 100, waiting (Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson) and four more with WAR above the HoF average for starters (Pedro Martinez, Mike Mussins, Tom Glavine, and Curt Schilling).

 

RELIEF PITCHERS

With only five relievers currently in the Hall (Dennis Eckersley, Hoyt Wilhelm, Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter, and Rollie Fingers), we can hardly conclude that we have anything like clear standards.  From the "expansion era," three possibilities sort of stand out—Kent Tekulve, Dan Quisenberry, and Sparky Lyle.

Player

WAR

WAR7

JAWS

Tekulve

26.3

19.8

24.4

Quisenberry

25.4

23.1

24.2

Lyle

23.8

19.3

21.5

Sutter

24.6

24.6

24.6

Fingers

26.1

19.2

22.7

Quiz and Tekulve are both remembered as submariners, but they were very different pitchers.  KT struck out about 5 per 9, and gave up about 3 unintentional walks per 9; for Quiz, those numbers were 3.3 and 0.8.  (Lyle’s K and walk data—5.6 Ks and 2.5 Ws per 9).  I really don’t know if any of these three belongs in the Hall, but all three of them have numbers very similar to Sutter and Fingers.  At this point, I don’t think we really know what to do about relief pitchers.

 

CONCLUSIONS

It looks to me as if MLB got one right—Simmons for catcher, and three clearly wrong.  Keith Hernandez had a much more Hall-worthy career at first than did Steve Garvey, and Bert Campaneris was clearly a better shortstop than Dave Concepcion.  Dave Parker was no better than fourth as a right fielder (acknowledging that much of Ken Singleton’s career was spent as a DH); Dwight Evans, Reggie Smith, and Jack Clark all had more valuable careers. 

MLB placed no candidates on the ballot as second basemen, third basemen, left fielders, or center fielders.  Bobby Grich remains one of the best players not in the Hall, with a career performance well above any selection standard.  I can actually understand not placing a third baseman on the ballot.  For many people, Graig Nettles probably doesn’t "feel like" a Hall-of-Famer.  The plausible candidates from left and center also don’t seem remarkably strong.

While Tommy John is not a bad selection as a starting pitcher, Rick Reuschel and Luis Tiant seem better choices to me.  But, for John, his status as a pioneer (albeit not really a willing one) may tip the balance.  And if anyone knows how to evaluate relievers for the Hall, let me know.  Please.

 
 

COMMENTS (28 Comments, most recent shown first)

doncoffin
Thanks. I need to think about what you wrote there for a bit, but I suspect I'll have some comments.​
3:12 PM Dec 5th
 
rgregory1956

Don, because of my verbosity, I decided to answer your question over on the Reader Posts. For the sake of silliness, I titled it "Sabermetric Opinions". I didn't want to take up so much space beneath your article.


11:23 AM Dec 5th
 
doncoffin
So, rgregory1956, rather than just say you disagree, tell us what the assumptions you find unacceptable are, and why. I will say that from my point of view, the "why" part of that is the most important.​
8:57 AM Dec 4th
 
rgregory1956

Perhaps using "opinion" was not the best word to use. I am not a linguist. But each metric-maker makes a CHOICE from the OPTIONS available based on his BELIEFS of what constitutes the best way to measure value. Maybe I should have used the word assumptions instead of opinions.

But it is my assumption that all metric-makers make very basic assumptions that I don't agree with. That is why I use them all as guidelines, not as answers.
6:47 AM Dec 4th
 
doncoffin
That's Bill James' career, not Bill Bales' career. I know Bill Bales, and ha has not had a career.
6:44 PM Dec 3rd
 
doncoffin
I should add that the fact that different people use different methods and different measures does not, to me, mean that "it's just opinion." Methods and measures can be analyzed and criticized; we can ultimately try to assess whether one method or measure is better or worse than another* (which, in fact, if you look at Bill Bales' career, or Pete Palmer's, or almost anyone who's been doing this sort of thing for a while, is something that they have done). That's how we make progress, not saying that one method or measure is "just" someone's opinion. That's too easy. The hard part is to look at the method/measure seriously, ask what it gets right or (potentially) wrong, what difference it makes if we change it a bit (e.g., using a different definition of "replacement" in calculating WAR), and so on.

[*I've spent too long as an academic, but there are actually relatively objective ways of going about this.]
6:43 PM Dec 3rd
 
rgregory1956


How can there be different versions of WAR, unless somebody thinks that the other person's method isn't done correctly? Which is an opinion. Should a metric be based on Wins, as Bill does? or Actual Runs, like Faber does? or Theoretical Runs like WAR does? Those are opinions on how value should be measured. Whichever one you choose to think is best is based on your agreement with their opinion. Using Park Factors base on 1, 3 or 5 years is an opinion on how to do it. Bill opines that the hitting/pitching/fielding split is 50/33.5/16.5. Faber opines that a player's 10 best seasons is their the peak. Palmer opines it should be Wins Above Average. Sean Smith opines it's appropriate for WAR to give Position Adjustments. I'm not sure that any of them are way out wrong. But they sure don't agree on how to measure things, because they value different things differently. And that's because: it's their opinion.
12:37 PM Dec 3rd
 
jwilt
I think you start with one or several of the current flavors of WAR because they're not opinions. They're reasonable approximations of facts, as reasonable as we have. Saying that WAR is "somebody's opinon on what constitutes value" is obliterating obvious shades of what an opinion is. You're putting WAR on the same footing as someone summarily stating that Rick Reuschel can't be a HOFer because he received few Cy Young votes.

WAR may not be definitive evidence, but it's strong evidence, and evidence divorced from subjective judgments. If you want to make and then believe in a flavor of WAR or JAWS that uses a different replacement level, or five-year peaks, or whatever, that's up to you. If you don't do that but you still have an opinion on who's a HOFer and who isn't, all you're doing is combining the evidence you want into a Great Stat and calling it something else.

It doesn't make sense to call a systematic reading of evidence and a subjective opinion the same thing. When you equate Frankie Frisch's Vet's Committee with modern metrics you're saying there is no ground truth. That all conclusions are vaild (or maybe invalid).
12:15 PM Dec 3rd
 
doncoffin
I would actually agree with gregory1956. Evidence is evidence, and there's no reason to limit the range of evidence one uses. The discussion then becomes (a) evaluating the quality of the evidence and (b) interpreting the useful evidence. I happen to think WAR is pretty useful evidence. But I also suspect someone out there is (or will be) looking at play-by-play data--which is available--and doing something like calculating win probability added (WPA) for each player for each event. Then we can argue about whether there are relevant "markers" of seasonal or career WPA we can or should use.

I actually don't use WAR as a decision criterion, but as a way to stary my thinking. In general, in looking at HoF discussions, I start by looking at career WAR (Baseball Reference flavor). If it's over 60, I ask myself, "Is there a reason (are there reasons) this player should not be in the Hall?" If it's under 60, I ask myself is there a reason (are there reasons) this player should be in the Hall?" For me, that's were a larger range of evidence becomes valuable, and the discussion matters.
9:37 AM Dec 3rd
 
rgregory1956

Well, there's a very good reason why one shouldn't place too much weight on WAR (or any one metric). The all become obsolete as "best available methods" within a few years. WAR may be cutting edge now, but it won't be down the road. Electing players using WAR as the leading criteria will look as silly as using just a .300 batting average for hitters and a Win/Loss Record for pitchers do now.

And don't forget that WAR (or any Great Stat) is not definitive evidence; it's somebody's opinion on what constitutes value. There is nothing "right" about replacement level being .320. It could be .200 or .400. Using a different level will alter the conclusions. Or take Park Factors. Everybody has a different methodology on how to compute it, altho most are similar. Still, it's an opinion whether to use that one year's Park Factor or rather to weight it using a three- or five-year averages. All of the great stat use personal opinions/choices to compute their numbers. Or take Peak Value. Is it 7 seasons, as JAWS chooses. Or should peak be 6 or 8 seasons. Or 3. Or 10. Seven was a personal choice for JAWS. And there are literally hundreds of these personal choices that a metric-maker has to make.

Look, I don't hate WAR. But because its personal choices don't always jibe with my idea of what constitutes value, I don't give it any more weight than I do Win Shares, Linear Weights or Faber Points. All are seriously flawed as definitive answers.

And this doesn't even include how different people view the Hall. Some people are exclusivists, some are inclusivists. Some see it as the best players should go in, some see it as the best players from each generation should go in (giving each generation the same number of inductees). Some don't see any reason to elect dead people, some want to usher in a bunch of 19th century guys. Some put a lot of emphasis on stats, some put a lot of emphasis on fame.

Electing a bunch of guys solely because they have really high sabermentric numbers and no other historical significance is IMO as obscene as anything Frankie Frisch did. It's just one group's dictating what a HOFer is supposed to be and ignoring anybody else's opinion.




9:17 AM Dec 3rd
 
jwilt
rgregory1956: I think you use the best available methods, which currently means the flavors of WAR on bb-ref and Fangraphs. Maybe you look at Win Shares if Bill gets around to publishing full Loss Shares. Why would you give more than a cursory glance at Faber Points or Pete Palmer's work from 30 years ago?

And I don't know why 82nd would disqualify anyone from HOF. What are there, 200, 220 HOFers? There have to be HOF starting pitchers who don't rank nearly as highly as Reuschel in any metric of your choice. You'd need some convoluted path to get Three-Finger Brown or Burleigh Grimes ahead of Rick Reuschel.
8:02 AM Dec 3rd
 
itchie
Fair question about Grich. I thought of Grich as a very good player, and combine that with the SABR numbers he becomes an attractive candidate. Each case is different, but Buddy Bell and Fury Tenace are not guys I thought of as very good players. Good, but not very good. Fury was one of my favorite players on the '82 Cardinals. Good eye, good cripple hitter.
11:50 PM Dec 2nd
 
rgregory1956

jwilt: Quick question. Which sabermetric method do we use to decide? There are many, many decent ones out there, and they don't always agree. In fact, they rarely agree.

Rick Reuschel as a case in point: In WAR, he's ranked 34th among pitchers; in Linear Weights, he's ranked 50th; by Faber Points, he's 60th; and in Win Shares he's 82nd. If we look only at WAR, we'd ask "Why isn't he in the Hall already?", and if we only use Win Shares, we'd ask "Why are we even discussing him?"


9:02 PM Dec 2nd
 
jwilt
itchie: If your criteria is that someone has to be considered great during their career, how does Grich qualify? He never finished higher than 8th in the MVP voting, and got 2.6% of the BBWAA vote during his one year on the ballot. Seems to me that considering him a good choice is allowing sabermetric numbers to completely wipe out the opinions of his contemporaries.

I think Grich is an excellent candidate and that it is our job as sabermetricians to use the best information available today to explain why past opinion may have been wrong.
7:41 AM Dec 2nd
 
shthar
They probably figger Keith will get in as a broadcaster.
3:03 AM Dec 2nd
 
Tubbs44
Surely, Grich would be a good choice as well.

That's so true you had to post it twice!

I'd really like to see more pressure put on the Historical Overview Committee to give Grich, Dw Evans, Hernandez and others another shot at the HOF
10:02 PM Nov 30th
 
itchie
Surely, Grich would be a good choice as well.
9:31 PM Nov 30th
 
itchie
Surely, Grich would be a good choice as well.
9:31 PM Nov 30th
 
itchie
Sabermetrics are a valuable tool, for sure. However, I believe it can be given too much weight. I'm sorry, but I NEVER thought of Buddy Bell as a Hall of Famer. Good player, for sure, but not a Hall of Famer. Same for several other guys mentioned as solid candidates.

Campy, Cruz, and Cedeno are a no. Very good players, but not for the HOF.

Dewey, Simba, and El Tiante are ok choices. I was a big fan of the other Reggie, and he is ok also.

My fundamental question is if when a guy was playing, he was never perceived to be a "great" player, then do the sabermetric numbers completely wipe that out. Not for me.

I don't care what the WAR numbers are for Keith Hernandez. He is the greatest fielding first baseman I ever saw, and was a very good player. However, as a first basemen, his offensive production is not so impressive. Not even a .300 lifetime average. How many 20 home run seasons, hundred RBI seasons, etc...? Again, very, very good, but not a Hall of Famer, and he always let Whitey take the heat for a bad trade when Hernandez was the problem with the cocaine. Yes, I hold that against him.


9:30 PM Nov 30th
 
doncoffin
Steib's career--1979-1998--was somewhat late for my purposes. I do think his career deserves more consideration than it received during the time he was on the ballot. His 57.2 WAR puts him right at the bottom of the third quartile; his peak (44.8) is below both the mean (50.9) and median (49.9) values of HoF starters, but not by a tremendous amount. As it stands, the average career value for starters in the HoF is higher than for any other position, so there could be a lot more starters in the Hall if the "acceptable" career value for a starter were more like that of (say) a first baseman.

As for the issue of cocaine use...how do we (retrospectively, or at the time) assess the players from the 1919-1933 period (Prohibition, of course)? Did anyone at any time conclude that because those players used (illegal) alcohol, often in copious amounts, if the anecdotes (about, e.g., Pete Alexander) can be believed, they should be/have been ruled out of membership in the Hall? I know what my attitude is, but there's no reason to conclude that I'm right about that.
9:42 PM Nov 28th
 
Tubbs44
Since Stieb retired in 1998, he won't be considered until the Dec 2019 Exp Era vote. And, actually Tiant was part of the last Golden Era ballot (players who made biggest contributions between '47-'72). Though Tiant didn't exactly seem like a fit for that ballot (which included Santo, Minoso, Oliva, Kaat, Boyer, and others).

I feel like Tiant is just over the HOF line for me, a lot of that stems from Bill comparing him to Catfish in one of his books.

Hernandez and Herzog didn't mesh well together on the same team but years later they are friends and I would have liked to have seen Herzog (an Exp Era voter) get the chance to judge Keith's career for Cooperstown. I believe Hernandez's weening off drugs affected his attitude in '83 and helped lead to the trade.
1:20 PM Nov 28th
 
DavidTodd
A good read. Thanks.
10:48 AM Nov 28th
 
evanecurb
WAR is a good metric, but other factors are to be considered. I agree with all of your evaluations, with the exception of Hernandez. He was a cocaine user, and Herzog traded him for a bag of beans just to get him out of the clubhouse.

Parker was also a coke user, and got terribly out of shape in mid-career. Both players had HOF ability but compromised it with drug use (and, in Parker's case, lack of dedication to conditioning).

Cocaine was much worse for the players, for society, and for the game than PEDs.

One question: Where's Dave Stieb? Does he not fit the timeline?
9:41 AM Nov 28th
 
Tubbs44
I also agree with rgregory and am actually in some ways glad Grich, Dwight Evans, and Hernandez aren't on this year's Exp Era ballot since having Torre, Cox, LaRussa, and popular holdover Marvin Miller make it nearly impossible for the players on the ballot to get a fair chance with the ability to only vote for 5 candidates. I believe that the HOF should put non-players on a different ballot. It would've been much more intriguing to have a ballot consisting of Grich, Dw Evans, Hernandez, Nettles, Campaneris, and Randolph in addition to Simmons, TJohn, Garvey, Parker, Quiz, and Concepcion.

An all non-player ballot could give ballot space to some former pitching coaches like Johnny Sain and Dave Duncan who I believe should have their chance. Also, if the HOF put non-players on their own ballot they could have that vote the same year as the Pre-Integration ballot since the press really beat up that ballot (though the election of Deacon White was long overdue and several other 19th century pioneers still deserve their due).
8:31 AM Nov 28th
 
Tubbs44
Very interesting article, Don. I echo M Weddell who says that old BBWAA voting played a part in the selection of this ballot: the Historical Overview Committee in charge of comprising the Exp Era ballot selected Garvey, TJohn, Concepcion, and Parker--all of whom lasted the full 15 yrs on the BBWAA HOF ballot. Of course when Grich, Dwight Evans, and Hernandez were on the BBWAA ballot, sabermetrics and advanced metrics were hardly used at all by voters. The Historical Overview Committee really should take a long, hard look at the new stats rather than base present day ballots on old BBWAA voting and traditional counting stats.

According to the HOF website:The 11-member Historical Overview Committee is comprised of: Dave Van Dyck (Chicago Tribune); Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun); Steve Hirdt (Elias Sports Bureau); Rick Hummel (St. Louis Post-Dispatch); Bill Madden (New York Daily News); Ken Nigro, (formerly Baltimore Sun); Jack O’Connell (BBWAA secretary/treasurer); Tracy Ringolsby (FSN Rocky Mountain/MLB.com); Glenn Schwarz (San Francisco Chronicle); Claire Smith (ESPN) and Mark Whicker (Orange County Register).  

8:18 AM Nov 28th
 
doncoffin
I should apologize for several typographical errors in my article (e.g., somehow duplicating the averages for second basemen using the data for first basemen). Anyone wanting a clean(er) version can contact me at doncoffin@aol.com.
4:07 PM Nov 27th
 
MWeddell
It seems apparent to me that the players on the ballot other than Simmons are there based on the BBWAA voting support when they were on that ballot. Thought it was worth mentioning.

I'd have to think twice about supporting Rick Reuschel given that the b-refWAR evaluation differs so sharply from how he was regarded when active.
12:58 PM Nov 27th
 
rgregory1956
While I agree with you that Grich, Evans and Hernandez are better candidates than Concepcion, Parker and Garvey, I'm actually glad that they aren't on the ballot. It'll be that much easier to elect three, maybe four, possibly five and theoretically six of the ones that are on this year's ballot. The way the VetCom is set up, the voters can only vote for 5. Adding Grich, Evans and Hernandez would have made it that much tougher for any to get the 75% necessary to be enshrined.
10:51 AM Nov 27th
 
 
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