28 January 2013

Hall of Fame Debate for the Birds

To borrow a page from David Schoenfield:

Player A:  18 years 254 Wins 3.90 ERA 175 CG 2478 K 1.29 WHIP 105 ERA+
Player B:  23 years 245 Wins 3.70 ERA 122 CG 2149 K 1.26 WHIP 106 ERA+

Pretty close right? In the never-ending hall of fame debate that has been raging over this slow point in the offseason, people have fought over PED allegations and whether writers should be the ones to determine the HOF. This is more of a strict baseball debate.

Player A had a nice long career that included 5 all-star selections, 5 top-5 Cy Young Award finishes, and 3 world series titles. Player B had an even longer career which places him just outside the all time MLB top 10 for seasons played, has 4 all-star nominations, and two seasons top-5 in Cy Young Award voting, although he was winless in 2 world series attempts. The real question is, are either of these players worthy of the Baseball Hall of Fame?

Player A is Jack Morris, the pitcher debated up and down every direction this offseason, and someone that missed the cutoff in his 14th year of eligibility with a 67.7% total. Player B is former Oriole great Dennis Martinez, who was on the HOF ballot all of one year, and gone from discussion. Joe Posnanski wrote a great article back in 2009 that I found when I was about 75% done with this piece taking a look at some of the greatest players to go one and done on the ballot, inspired by Martinez back in 2004. In his piece he also compared Morris and Martinez, as well as looking at a long list of great players that never got a 2nd year on the ballot including, Lou Whitaker, Dwight Gooden, Joe Carter, Fernando Valenzuela, and Mark Belanger.

Both players, given their career stat lines are more in line with a middle of the rotation innings eater, although each had great periods during their careers, overall they were more of the epitome of durable veterans to eat innings on good teams. To give these kinds of numbers some modern day spin, another guy up for the ballot next year in Mike Mussina (270 Wins 3.68 ERA 57 CG 2813 K 1.192 WHIP 123 ERA+) has numbers a bit better than this duo, but still close enough to raise debate. If Martinez wasn't good enough for a 2nd ballot, and Morris missed out again in his 14th, where does that put Mussina on the scale? If guys like Kenny Lofton can't get a 2nd turn on the ballot, how does that stack up for next year when an impeccable class of so many new names become eligible. Will more great players miss the cut, and what about the guys with the dreaded PED chatter? Will they finally get in after serving time for a couple years, and do those votes knock of some guys like Mussina if too many become eligible at the same time? The question on everyone's mind after a year with no one selected, is the Hall of Fame procedure broken or just need some updating?

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