I Talk About The Hall of Fame Balloting When Everyone Is Sick Of It

2010 January 11

If you’re a baseball fan, you might have heard that Andre Dawson will be the Baseball Hall of Fame’s sole inductee this year. I really don’t have a major issue with Dawson being inducted; I just have a problem with Dawson being inducted while 7 or 8 more deserving candidates have to wait at least another year.

I’ll try not to go into the usual stuff that has been covered on a ton of other blogs. I wish I saved the links, because I’m not going to hunt for them.

My initial gut ballot was: Bert Blyleven, Roberto Alomar, Mark McGwire, Tim Raines. Since then, I’ve reconsidered and would probably add Edgar Martinez, Barry Larkin, and Alan Trammell. So there, seven guys I’d put in before Dawson.

But I’m going to steal and add to an idea presented in this post on The Hardball Times.

Wins Above Excellence:

Time to introduce a new junk stat. For this measure, I’m looking at how many wins a player has above three in a season, though his season total can never be below zero. This gives a player credit for great seasons, and ignores anything where a player is average or below, it neither adds nor hurts a player’s case for greatness. A great player should not be penalized if he hangs around past his peak contributing a only little bit to his teams.

I think three wins is a bit low of a barrier for “excellence.” Two wins is average, three wins is good, four wins is great, five wins is excellence.

Going by Fangraphs’ WAR calculations (which I won’t be using for the historical WAR calculations), last year there were this many players — not including pitchers — that hit each of these WAR thresholds:

3 WAR or above: 75
4 WAR or above: 47
5 WAR or above: 24

I’d definitely define five wins above replacement as excellence. The guys right at the threshold are names like Teixeira, Ichiro, and Sandoval.

But, not many guys collect many wins above 5 WAR. Let’s look at the numbers for the eight Hall of Fame candidates (including the one future inductee):

Player Voting % Wins Above
Wins Above
Wins Above
Andre Dawson 77.9% 18.3 11.8 7.4
Bert Blyleven 74.2% 39.7 25.1 13.6
Roberto Alomar 73.7% 25.8 15.4 8.4
Jack Morris 52.3% 9.4 3.6 0.1
Barry Larkin 51.6% 25.7 14.9 7.1
Edgar Martinez 36.2% 28.6 18.1 8.5
Tim Raines 30.4% 21.4 12.7 6.7
Mark McGwire 23.7% 25.3 16 7.6
Alan Trammell 22.4% 26.1 16.9 9.4

Oh wait, make that nine. You may have noticed the guy that doesn’t belong. At all. That would be Jack Morris. This is the voting results from this year with Lee Smith taken out, because there’s no point in even adding him to the chart. As you can see, Dawson does not deserve to be on top — and Bert Blyleven should be a no-fucking-brainer. I think  another interesting part of the table is Raines being the second-worst when you use 5 WAR as the barrier (and third-worst with the other two). That ties in well with why he’s been slow in getting support for induction. Trammell was just unfortunate to play shortstop just before the recent influx of heavy-hitting shortstops. His hitting numbers don’t look impressive, and he wasn’t Ozzie Smith in the field. Hall of Fame voters don’t apply position adjustments, apparently.

As always, I must thank Sean Smith at BaseballProjection.com for his historical WAR database. I should probably donate at this point.

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