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Ken Rosenthal's Hall of Fame ballot is A-OK

Dec 30, 2009, 9:05 AM EDT

Trammell.jpgKen Rosenthal says that he usually limits his Hall of Fame ballot to two or three elite candidates, but this year he votes for nine guys:
Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Edgar
Martinez, Fred McGriff, Bert
Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Tim Raines, Lee Smith, and Alan Trammell. 
Rosenthal is only one voter, but since he has so many guys in it I want
to talk about, let’s use his ballot as the jumping off point.

At the outset, let me say that the fact that he included Alan Trammell
— my first and truest baseball love — entitles him to absolution for
any of his past ballot sins. Seriously Ken, you could dedicate the rest
of your life to getting guys like Dave Parker and Bernie Williams
elected and I won’t go too hard on you in light of that Trammell vote.

But beyond my baseball crushes, there’s a lot to like here.  It’s a big
ballot, sure, but it makes sense. Larkin and Alomar seem like
no-brainers to me. You know my thoughts on Blyleven. As I said
yesterday, I won’t cry if Martinez doesn’t make it this year because
people still need to screw their DH-heads on straight, but I think he
belongs.  In my mind Raines is a sure Hall of Famer too, for all of the reasons Joe Posnanski outlined a couple of weeks ago.

Which brings us to McGriff, Dawson and Smith. I’m going to put off
talking about Smith for now because I’m not sure I have really come to
grips with what to do with one-inning closers who were anything short
of uber-elite like Eckersley, but I promise to devote some thoughts and
words to the subject soon. So, for the time being no on Smith.

That leaves Dawson and McGriff. I think they’re much closer calls than
the others and I’m not 100% sure what I’d do with them if the ballot
was staring me in the face today. Let’s talk through this.

I think I’d lean yes on McGriff. Given that he straddled the low-offense
80s and high-offense 90s, his statistical case flies under the radar,
with his best seasons coming in lower run-scoring environments. 1989
was his best full season (1994 may have been his absolute best but was
cut short). That year he hit .269/.399/.525 with 36 homers. That may
elicit a yawn by more recent standards but at that time those were MVP
numbers. If he had played in places outside of Toronto and San Diego
during those early years he probably would have actually won one.

Dawson: I loved the Hawk. Great man. Got royally screwed over by
collusion and should have made a hell of a lot more money in his career
than he did. Was under-appreciated for what he was in his time, but may
be a bit overrated now if that makes any sense.  Ultimately I don’t
think I could pull the lever for him due to his .323 on base percentage
which would be historically low for a Hall of Fame outfielder, and
lower than the average player of his day. And I’m not buying Dawson and
Rosenthal’s argument that he could have had a higher OBP if he had been
told it was important. Not making outs is pretty fundamental to the
game, and that’s what OBP is. I don’t think a player as smart as Dawson
needed anyone to tell him that.  Upshot: Dawson makes my Hall of Very,
Very Good, but he does not make my Hall of Fame.

The last slot on Rosenthal’s ballot was empty, and he says who it could
have been but wasn’t: Mark McGwire. Like I said, I’ll accept this in
light of the love for Trammell, Blyleven and his refusal to put Jack
Morris on his ballot, but I think McGwire belongs. I will point out,
though, that Rosenthal’s comment on the matter — “The more we
learn about the Steroid Era, the better we understand just how
deeply performance-enhancing drugs were entrenched in the
game’s culture” — suggests that he and maybe others will soften on
McGwire over time and realize that he was a man of his time. That,
though he probably cheated, he was doing it in a league full of
cheaters, and thus didn’t have some obscene advantage like is currently

So like I said: good ballot. Not perfect — none is — but one that I could almost see myself filling out.

  1. Jonah Keri - Dec 31, 2009 at 2:54 AM

    Craig, you said no ballot is perfect. Ken Davidoff’s is exactly what mine would look like:
    Raines, Blyleven, Larkin, Alomar, Trammell, Edgar, McGwire

  2. NYY fan - Dec 31, 2009 at 4:14 AM

    Which is it? DiamondDuq, so you “didn’t say that a player can hit better as a DH than as a position player”, yet you say “DH, since as the name suggests is a designated hitter, they’re essentially a hitting specialist and should therefore hit better than non-designated hitters.”
    What is it about a DH that makes it easier to hit a baseball? Do DH’s get more ABs? An extra strike?
    And since you hold the DH’s task to a higher esteem, why isn’t it valid to compare the hitting statistics of one DH to other DHs?

  3. Casey - Dec 31, 2009 at 6:57 AM

    Why do so few people talk about Dale Murphy. I’ve noticed him mentioned a few times in the comments, but not nearly enough by the baseball world as a whole. How can a guy who won 5 consecutive Gold Gloves (82-86), 2 consecutive MVP awards (82-83), 4 consecutive NL Silver Sluggers (82-85) be ignored. He was a 7 time All-Star (80, 82-87), had a 30-30 season, and led the majors in HR and RBI from 81-90. He was durable, as well, playing in 740 consecutive games between 1981 and 1986. Those sure sound like HoF numbers to me.

  4. Casey - Dec 31, 2009 at 6:59 AM

    To clarify, Murphy led the majors in HR and RBI during the entire 10 year span from 81-90, not every single year.

  5. DiamondDuq - Dec 31, 2009 at 9:37 AM

    At first I didn’t think you were this dense but you’re begining to convince me. I didn’t say DH’s are inherently better hitters than position players, for example if Joe Mauer would suddenly stop catching and become a DH that he’d be a better hitter. Nor did I say it was easier to hit as a DH, though the extra reps they should be getting during fielding practice probably don’t hurt. What I did say was that to induct a DH into the HOF, he had better be a hands down better hitter than a HOF position player since he doesn’t have the added duties of contributing defensively. I don’t do anything near holding “the DH’s task to a higher esteem”, in fact quite the opposite. The reason it is a valid argument to compare a SS or a C to other SS’s or C’s from their era is because those positions are historically defensive positions so their offensive numbers may not be on par with a corner infielder or corner outfielder from the same era since those are historically offensive positions, which by no means diminishes the offensive contributions of SS’s or C’s but respects the defensive difficulties that come with those positions. The reason it is invalid to only compare DH’s to other DH’s and not other hitters is because it’s a strictly offensive position, they don’t do anything else, there’s no job responsibility that would diminish their offensive numbers as there is with historically defensive positions. In summary, for your convenience, DH’s aren’t inherently better hitters than position players but a HOF DH needs to be a hands down better hitter than a HOF position player to compensate for his lack of defensive contribution.

  6. Area 51 - Dec 31, 2009 at 2:00 PM

    Steroids screwed the whole HOF up. We may never actually know all who took them. So you may as well vote for stats and thats it. It was sign of the times and we have to live w/ it. Bob

  7. Ed - Dec 31, 2009 at 3:39 PM

    If we are going to talk about other things than stats that determine whether you get into the HOF then look at Babe Ruths life off the field. He was a known womanizer, who sent his wife and child off to a farm in the boonies, and then rented a whole floor of a New York hotel and entertained who knows how many women, he was known to frequent whorehouses all across the country, he was an alcoholic, he gambled on just about anything, he was banned from the league a couple of times for his antics on and off the field, and so on and so on! There are no saints out there…………in any sport. Maybe the only way to do it is just go by the stats and let the chips fall where they may !

  8. Smerlap - Dec 31, 2009 at 5:44 PM

    The HOF voters have to decide on some objective criteria for the DH position. We have had the DH position in the AL since the 1970’s but yet no DH has ever been voted into the HOF. If you have a position, then those who play in that position must be considered for induction. I notice we don’t measure 1st base against 2nd and 3rd basemen, so why do we insist on measuring the DH against all others on the team. It is time and Edgar Martinez is a good beginning. He was a great person, a hard working team member and respecteed by all who played with him.
    For those who ask why Edgar should go in ahead of Griffey Jr….DUH! Ken Griffey Jr is still an active player and not eligable for HOF consideration.

  9. YouAreAllRight"Mostly" - Dec 31, 2009 at 6:02 PM

    Since I started reading these articles a few days ago I decided to take a look at who is in the Baseball Hall Of Fame. If you haven’t checked this list out yet you should. My own conclusion is that the Hall has a lot of old time players in it but not many from the last 50 years. There are many players who are MVPs, Cy Young Winners, World Series Heros, Multiple Year All Stars, and record setters of one kind or another but are not in the Hall. Maybe you have a favorite player you think should be in there but is not. Maybe the Hall should allow more deserving players in.

  10. diamondduq - Dec 31, 2009 at 10:56 PM

    “It is time and Edgar Martinez is a good beginning. He was a great person, a hard working team member and respecteed by all who played with him.”
    What does any of that have to do with the HOF? How did you come to the conclusion that 1B aren’t measured against players of other positions? All players are measured against the players of their era and historical players alike. Saying the best DH should get into the HOF simply because he’s the best DH is like saying the best offensive pitcher of an era should get into the HOF for being the best offensive pitcher, it’s a ridiculous argument!

  11. Juice - Jan 1, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    As a 60’s baby growing up in New York, I grew up watching the Yankees & the Mets. There are 2 opposition players who we couldn’t stand to see play against them…
    Bert Blyleven & Dale Murphy
    Despite what many people seem to be suggesting, back in the 70s, Blyleven was indeed considered to be amongst the BEST PITCHERS of his time. Perhaps he wasn’t as ‘sexy’ as Seaver, Gibson, Marichal or even Ryan, but a look at his stats are very revealing.
    People knock him for being merely a .500 pitcher, but what gets lost in all of that is something which gives a more accurate pictures of just how good he is…his ERA.
    In his example, it appears as though the fans who are judging him today, are either too young to have remembered him from the 70s, or are seduced by the 80s & all of those inflated stats that were put up & a generation where ESPN told us what represented ‘greatness’.
    Bert belongs!
    As for Dale Murphy, his career is an exercize in illusion.
    Just check his stats from 1976 to 1981. You’ll see a GOOD hitter, but certainly nothing which warrants the words HALL OF FAME. He struck out a lot, didn’t walk very often & 1980 was the first years where he showed that he could perhaps be a special player, earning his first All-Star berth & hitting 33 home runs. Of course, the strike year didn’t give him the benefit of a full season, but up to that point, he was merely a DECENT player, not a Hall Of Famer.
    What skews things a bit is the fact that he had a spectacular run from 1982 to 1987. A SIX-YEAR run of excellence, after which, he simply tailed-off & fell to the middle of the pack. His batting average was low & his strikeouts were high. From 1988 to 1993, he hit 24 hrs 3 times, 20 once, 18 & a total of 2 over his last 2 injury plagued seasons.
    To be honest, until I checked, I thought that his career was much better than the record bears it out to be. He’s an example of a player whose reputation was much greater than the actual stats reveal it to be. And he in retrospect, he WAS NOT the best hitter of his generation. A guy who hit some home runs? Yes, A former catcher who became an excellent outfielder? Yes. A GREAT player? NO!
    You simply don’t get the Hall Of Fame nod for 6 excellent seasons within an 18 year career. He was basically a .260 hitter with some pop.
    Average out the numbers of his career & you’ll be as shocked as I was because I had always believed him to be a much better-than-average hitter.

  12. Ryan - Jan 2, 2010 at 9:45 AM

    lol, McGwire. Bloated and unethical, like American media.

  13. rick - Jan 3, 2010 at 2:17 AM

    “Someone formulated OPS+ and runs created to fit some ideology they had about what’s important in baseball,”
    OPS is on base percentage plus slugging percetnage. You can quibble with what a players OPS, like Martinez career OPS of .933, specifically tells us, but even you would have to admit that OBP and SLG are two statistics that fit any ideology about what’s important in baseball. And OPS+ is a measure of a players OPS that takes into account a wide array of factors (such as era the player played in, the ballpark a player played in, etc). It is hardly some slim viewpoint of cherrypicked stats put together to make a player look better than he is.
    As for Runs Created you can argue that they are not as important as runs scored or driven in, but the statistic works more as a measure of a players positive offensive contributions. Runs created takes into account positive offense (such as hits, total bases, walks) measured over plate appearances. What we get isn’t so much a number of runs a player is worth but more a rate of a players offensive contributions. How is that not important?
    You don’t have to put too much stock in sabremetrics if you don’t want to, but it would behoove you to know what those metrics measure and not simply dismiss them as the biased viewpoint of their creators.

  14. Mike - Jan 3, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    Put all those guys in the HOF and you will have to rename it the Hall of the Pretty Good.

  15. diamondduq - Jan 3, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    “What we get isn’t so much a number of runs a player is worth but more a rate of a players offensive contributions.”
    I don’t merely dismiss them for what they are but for what they imply. Based on OPS+ and runs created Edgar Martinez is supposedly a better offensive player than Joe DiMaggio, Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Ernie Banks, Carlton Fisk, Reggie Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr., Tony Gwynn, etc. John Kruk has a higher career adjusted OPS+ than Rod Carew, Wade Boggs and Carl Yastrzemski, by any reasoning you come up with that alone discredits the validity of using OPS+ to measure a player’s HOF credentials. So yes, I dismiss these random statistical concoctions but not based on the ideological logic surrounding their conception but the obvious lack of credibility in their results.

  16. ronjon - Jan 4, 2010 at 10:34 AM

    If you have to make an argument for a guy to get in the hall of fame, what does that say? To me, he doesn’t belong. The HOF is only getting weaker in representing baseball’s best.

  17. bob, CT - Jan 4, 2010 at 12:00 PM

    How can it be a real hall of fame when it wont let true greats in, like Pete Rose and Mark McGwire.Big Mac did nothing to break the rules at the time and still is black balled, gimme a break. Rose is maybe the best hitter ever and he is not in. Maybe he should have done drugs or smacked his wife around then the voters would have given him the nod. Vote for what they do on the field already!

  18. rick - Jan 5, 2010 at 12:08 PM

    “I don’t merely dismiss them for what they are but for what they imply.”
    Statistics don’t “imply” anything. They are merely the results of mathematical equations. All a statistic can tell us is what the result is.
    The nonsense doesn’t come from any implication made by the statistic but rather from the inference one makes from that statistic. Or more simply put, the BS comes from the interpretation of the statistic, not the statistic itself.
    If someone wants to take John Kruks’s career OPS+ and say that, because it is higher than Rod Carew’s or Wade Boggs then Kruk was the better player, they are certainly welcome to do so. But they would be wrong. Just as wrong as if someone were to say that since Harold Baines has more career hits than Ted Williams, then Baines was the better hitter.
    Perhaps there are people who use OPS+ or Runs Created, or whatever, as the final word in evaluating players. And if we lived in a vacuum where everything was equal and there was no such thing as context, that would be true. But we don’t.
    Kruk may have the higher OPS+, but there are other factors to be considered. Mainly that Kruk played a much shorter career than Boggs and Carew and that his decline was short and not too damaging to his career stats.
    In any case, I don’t know anyone making such a claim about Kruk. Perhaps you do. In that case by all means ridicule that person and throw in a few barbs for me, as that person is quite stupid.

  19. rick - Jan 5, 2010 at 1:58 PM

    “Based on OPS+ and runs created Edgar Martinez is supposedly a better offensive player than Joe DiMaggio, Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Ernie Banks, Carlton Fisk, Reggie Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr., Tony Gwynn, etc.”
    As a matter of fact, DiMaggio has a higher OPS and OPS+ than Martinez. Joe D has .977 OPS and 155 OPS+ to Edgar’s .933 and 147.
    As for runs created, Martinez has 1631 to Joe D’s 1569. But considering that Martinez had a longer career, it isn’t all too shocking that he would retain a slight edge over Joltin Joe in this cumulative stat.
    As for the other players mentioned, again there are other factors involved as to why Martinez might have a higher OPS+ or more Runs created.
    Not the least of which being that Martinez was a damn good hitter.

  20. Arden Huckabaa - Feb 8, 2010 at 4:28 PM

    This is an interesting read, I believe you’ve got a great outlook on points!

  21. screen printing - Feb 8, 2010 at 10:56 PM

    Yeah babyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!! The saints won the Super Bowl! what do you guys think? I’m asking different bloggers and different posts.

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