18 December 2009
As we have a slow week for Diamondbacks' news (SP Rodrigo Lopez signs a minor league deal), let's finish up our look at the 2010 Hall of Fame ballot. This time, let’s look at the 15 players on the ballot for the first time (Here is the link to my evaluation of the 11 returning names).
There are 11 position players – Roberto Alomar, Ellis Burks, Andres Galarraga, Eric Karros, Ray Lankford, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, David Segui, Robin Ventura, and Todd Zeile- and 4 pitchers – Kevin Appier, Pat Hentgen, Mike Jackson, and Shane Reynolds. Here are the basic stats for the 11 position players:
and here are their Career totals in WARP3 (Wins above Replacement Player) from Baseball Prospectus:
Of these 11 players, I think 3 can be eliminated fairly quickly - Eric Karros, David Segui, and Todd Zeile. These three don't have any legitimate qualifications for the Hall of Fame. Let’s look at the 8 remaining players a little closer.
Roberto Alomar, 2B Robero Alomar has a pretty strong case for the HOF. With 2724 career hits, Alomar ranks #7 among second basemen, behind only Eddie Collins, Nap Lajoie, Craig Biggio, Rogers Hornsby, Frankie Frisch, and Charlie Gehringer. He’s also 5th in career SB among 2B, 10th in RBI, 8th in Runs, and 12th in HR. Alomar was selected for 12 All-Star games and won 10 gold gloves for his defense. His career WARP total of 79.4 would rank him #5 among HOF second basemen. In addition to his strong career totals, Alomar also had some excellent peak seasons, finishing in the Top 6 of the MVP voting 5 times, with 4 seasons with a WARP over 7, and 10 seasons with a WARP over 4. His career ended a little early at the age of 36, but I think his accomplishments should get him in. If elected, Roberto Alomar would be the first former Diamondback inducted into the Hall of Fame. One thing that may hurt Alomar’s chances is the spitting incident with umpire John Hirschbeck. While it was certainly a horrible act by Alomar, he and Hirschbeck have reconciled and are now friends. In fact, Alomar now helps raise money for ALD (the disease has been found in Hirschbeck’s other son), and Alomar was one of the first to call Hirschbeck when the umpire was diagnosed with cancer.
Verdict: Roberto Alomar should be IN.
Ellis Burks, OF Burks has nice career totals, with 352 HR and 1206 RBI, and a solid .291/.363/.510 line. And he had a monster season in 1996 (while playing in Coors Field) - .344/.408/.639, 40 HR, 128 RBI, 142 Runs. But 1996 was the only season that Burks finished in the Top 10 in the MVP voting, and the only year where he exceeded 100 RBI or 100 Runs Scored. His career WARP total of 40.3 is below average for a HOF-outfielder, and he only exceeded 4 WARP in a season five times.
Verdict: Ellis Burks is OUT.
Andres Galarraga, 1B Like Ellis Burks, Galarraga has some nice career counting stats that were aided by playing several seasons in Coors Field. His career stats at home were .307/.368 OBP/.535 SLG while they were only .270/.327/.464 on the road. In his huge 1996 season with 47 HR and 150 RBI, he hit 32 of his 47 HR at home, and drove in a remarkable 103 runs in 79 home games. But even with the Coors Field boost, Galarraga’s career line of .288/.347/.499 is below the average of HOF-first basemen -.308/.380/.501, and his career WARP total of 23.8 really doesn’t fit with other Hall of Famers.
Verdict: Andres Galarraga is OUT.
Ray Lankford, OF Ray Lankford is probably a better player than many people realize, because his strongest skills – excellent defense and a good on-base percentage, are still undervalued by HOF voters. These factors contributed to Lankford’s career WARP total of 41.3 – much higher than Galarraga, for example, but still not HOF-worthy. The career totals of 238 HR and 874 RBI aren’t nearly high enough for serious consideration, and there are no peak seasons to strengthen Lankford’s case.
Verdict: Ray Lankford is OUT.
Barry Larkin, SS Barry Larkin also has a strong case for the HOF, although probably not as strong as Roberto Alomar. Looking at the career rankings for shortstops, Larkin ranks #14 in Hits, #12 in Runs, #18 in RBI, #13 in SB, and #12 in OBP. His career WARP total of 86.3 would rank #5 among shortstops. Larkin was a 12-time all star, won an MVP, and also won 3 Gold Gloves. One knock against Larkin is that he was injured a lot – he only managed 4 seasons with at least 150 games. But while he was playing, he provided a combination of good hitting, good pitching, and good defense. He had a strong peak, with 5 seasons with a WARP over 7, and longevity, with 11 seasons with a WARP over 4. Overall, I think he’s pretty close to Alan Trammell, and they should both get in. Both are better than the majority of the shortstops already in the HOF.
Verdict: Barry Larkin is IN.
Edgar Martinez, DH Edgar Martinez is a tough player to evaluate, since he’s one of the first strong candidates who was primarily a DH. Let’s start with a look at Martinez’s offensive stats – his career rate line of .312/.418/.535 is incredible. The number of player who achieved these career rates is pretty short. Players exceeding .310 BA, .410 OBP, and.510 SLG (min 8500 PA): Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Rogers Hornsby, Stan Musial, Ty Cobb, Harry Heilmann, Edgar Martinez.
While Martinez’s rate stats are outstanding, his counting totals are not quite as impressive, mainly because he did not become a full time major leaguer until age 27. He only had 45 career home runs by the time he turned 30, but then slugged 264 over the next 11 seasons. His career WARP of total of 68.9 is solid, and he had six seasons with a WARP over 6. He is ranked #29 in Adjusted Batting Runs on Baseball-Reference.com.
But what about the DH factor? A DH obviously does not contribute defensively at all towards a team win. Stats like WARP credit a DH with 0 Fielding Runs above Replacement. But is 0 even correct? Should a DH’s defensive contribution of 0 be considered better than a really bad fielding SS or a bad fielding 1B? Probably not, it may be more accurate to think of Martinez as if he was a bad fielding 1B or OF, like a Adam Dunn or Jack Cust. But even with a 0 or a negative fielding value, I think Martinez just passes the line as a Hall of Famer. His career OBP and SLG levels are historically good, so I think he should be in.
Verdict: Edgar Martinez should be IN.
Fred McGriff, 1B Fred McGriff had 493 HR (#26, tied with Lou Gehrig) and 1550 RBI (#41 all-time) in his career. Despite the outstanding career totals, McGriff did not have a great peak. His season high in HR is only 37, and his single season RBI high is only 107, although he did exceed 100 RBI 8 times. McGriff had 5 All-Star appearances, and 4 Top 10 MVP finishes. McGriff only had 4 seasons with a WARP over 6, but did have 12 years with a WARP over 2. McGriff was a consistently good player, but just did not have the elite seasons usually associated with a Hall of Famer. His career WARP total of 59.0 would rank him below Edgar Martinez, and below average compared to other 1B in the HOF.
Verdict: Close, but I say Fred McGriff is OUT.
Robin Ventura, 3B Third Base is the position with the fewest representatives in the HOF, so there aren’t many Hall of Famers for comparison. Among all 3B, Ventura ranks #13 in HR, #14 in RBI, #27 in Runs Scored, and #28 in Hits. Ventura’s career WARP of 66.4 is just below average for HOF third basemen. While the career totals are respectable for a Hall of Famer, the peak seasons just don’t add much to his candidacy. Ventura only had 4 seasons with a WARP over 6, but 12 seasons with a WARP over 2. Ventura only had 1 MVP Top 10 finish, and only was selected to 2 All-Star games. He did win 6 Gold Gloves on defense.
Verdict: A nice career, but Robin Ventura should be OUT.
Of the 4 new pitchers on the HOF ballot, three can be dismissed fairly quickly. Shane Reynolds (114-96, 4.09 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 103 ERA+) made just one All-Star appearance, and only finished in the Top 10 of the Cy Young voting once. Mike Jackson (41-42, 142 Saves, 3.42 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) had a great season in 2008 (40 Saves, 1.55 ERA), but never was selected to the All-Star Game or finished in the Top 10 of the Cy Young voting. Pat Hentgen (131-112, 4.32 ERA, 1.391 WHIP, 108 ERA+) won a Cy Young Award, and was selected to three All-Star games, but doesn’t have nearly enough on his resume.
Kevin Appier, SP 169-137, 3.74 ERA, 1.294 WHIP, 2595.1 IP, 1994K, 121 ERA+
Kevin Appier deserves at least a few sentences of discussion. He had 5 seasons among the Top 10 in ERA, and 6 in the Top 10 in WHIP. In 1993, Appier went 18-8 with a 2.56 ERA, leading the league in ERA by 0.38. Yet Appier finished 3rd in the Cy Young voting, as Jack McDowell won with a 22-10 record and a 3.37 ERA. During the 8 year stretch from 1990-1997, Appier had a 140 ERA+, which is only behind Greg Maddux and Roger Clemens during that timespan. Although not a Hall of Famer, Appier was a very good pitcher who never got the recognition he deserved.
Conclusions Of the 15 new players on the 2010 Hall of Fame ballot, I would vote for 3 - Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, and Edgar Martinez. Of the rest, only Fred McGriff is a close call, and hopefully Kevin Appier gets a few votes. Along with these 3, my ballot also includes returning players Bert Blyleven, Tim Raines, Alan Trammell and Mark McGwire.