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At least Dan Shaughnessy is honest

Jan 4, 2010, 3:52 PM EST

Unlike Heyman, Dan Shaughnessy admits that he just goes with his gut when it comes to the Hall of Fame:

Each Hall voter applies his own standards, and mine often references the famous line that Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart applied to pornography. Stewart argued that he might not be able to
define what was pornographic, “but I know it when I see it.”

Which is why Shaughnessy says, regarding Edgar Martinez, “I just can’t bring myself to put him in Cooperstown alongside Ted Williams, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.” That’s well and good if you’re a small-Hall kind of guy.

Of course, given how much time he spent over the past decade arguing in favor of Jim Rice, I’m guessing that Shaughnessy is not a small hall guy. Or at least not when it comes to Red Sox.

Thinking more deeply about it, if his whole pornography/Hall of Fame analogy holds up, Shaughnessy’s yes on Rice, no on Edgar Martinez thing might give us some scary insight into what kind of kinky stuff turns that curly-haired rascal on.

Now try to get that image out of your head.

  1. Adam Adkins - Jan 4, 2010 at 4:11 PM

    “Thinking more deeply about it, if his whole pornography/Hall of Fame analogy holds up, Shaughnessy’s yes on Rice, no on Edgar Martinez thing might give us some scary insight into what kind of kinky stuff turns that curly-haired rascal on.”
    You know Craig, at first I thought CTB was just another blog, but then I read that, and I remembered why I loved the Shyster.

  2. tadthebad - Jan 4, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    The horror… the HORROR!

  3. Jeff - Jan 4, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    Craig, earlier today I was worried that NBC had taken some of the snark outta the Shyster. But I was obviously worried for nothing!
    The HOF has so much less meaning for me now compared to 5 years ago (granted I was 22 and am now 27). Seeing who the writers vote for, the agendas they pursue, the illogical reasons for who they vote, it is just a waste of time. I love baseball, will love it to the day I die. But I don’t think I will ever give a DAMN about who is in it thanks to imbeciles like Shaughnessy and Heyman.

  4. DiamondDuq - Jan 4, 2010 at 4:35 PM

    I agree with Shaughnessy’s assessment, though I’m not sure I would have put Rice in, but comparatively I would have put Rice in before Martinez, he’s at least closer to my fence. Rice played in a far less offensive era and had more hits, homeruns, RBI, All-Star appearances and MVP’s in fewer years than Martinez, all while actually playing a position. So while I wouldn’t put either in the HOF, Shaughnessy’s fence is apparently closer to “small-Hall” than mine, his relative view of the two is spot on!

  5. cliff - Jan 4, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    Craig,
    Your response to Heyman’s continuing non “tautalogous” argument coupled with this one, are brilliantly insightful.
    Please continue to use the weirdness of the legal system as you did as “the Shyster” (although here I guess Shaughnessy cited Mr. Justice Stewart first, right?)
    I think Shaughnessy “knows a great player when he sees one” by how many ground ball double plays they hit into. As in, the more they do that, the better they are (in his world).
    Maybe Shaughnessy should have echoed Mr. Justice Black in the dissent to Griswold v. Connecticut, “It is not our job to decide what rules for induction a voter utilizes that are stupid rules, but only whether such rules are not part of or related to the Hall of Fame criteria.” Obviously he has no concern about his views being stupid, anyway.

  6. Adam Adkins - Jan 4, 2010 at 4:49 PM

    I really don’t think so, man. You mention the fun counting stats, but Rice finished with more plate appearances, so he’s likely to have more counting stats.
    But looking at the era-sensitive stats (let’s use OPS+), Rice is blown away. JR’s career OPS+ is 128, and his career high is 157. Very nice.
    Edgar’s career mark is 147 and his career high is a whopping 185.

  7. Bill@TDS - Jan 4, 2010 at 4:57 PM

    Martinez >>>>>>>>>>> Rice.
    30 more runs, 190 more RBI, 73 more home runs. 205 more hits…but 433 *fewer* times on base. 125 more outs.
    Even if you think things like RBI and hits totals are important, those small advantages can’t possibly put Rice ahead of Edgar. Not when you consider that Rice cost his teams very nearly 1,000 more outs on the way to compiling those totals. Not when Edgar wins by 14 points of batting average, sixty-six points of OBP and 12 points of SLG, and has a 147 OPS+ to Rice’s 128 (and yes, Edgar played in a “more offensive era,” but spent some of that era in a really bad hitters’ park while Rice spent his whole career in the best hitters’ park in the AL).
    And as for “actually playing a position,” Rice played the second easiest position on the diamond…poorly. Some extra credit for that, but not nearly enough. Especially considering Edgar did spend 4-5 years as a pretty good 3B, probably providing more defensive value than Rice did in his entire career. And of course, Rice spent 530 games at DH himself, more than 25% of his career.
    That should all be obvious to anybody, but using those scary advanced metrics, the difference in wins above replacement (which factors in the fact that Edgar was a DH and the difference in eras and all that) between Edgar and Rice is about the same as the difference between Joe DiMaggio and John Olerud. If you think Edgar Martinez isn’t a Hall of Famer, I think you’re wrong, but that’s understandable. If you think Edgar isn’t but Rice is, you’re just thinking wrong.

  8. Bill@TDS - Jan 4, 2010 at 4:58 PM

    That should read “125 more double plays,” not “125 more outs.”

  9. Alex Poterack - Jan 4, 2010 at 5:06 PM

    At least he includes Blyleven with his vote for Morris, and that arguments been done to death, but I’m taken aback by his assertion that Morris needs to get into the hall before Curt Schilling, because “Morris was better”. Here are three things Curt Schilling has that Jack Morris does not:
    -3,000+ strikeouts
    -A 127 ERA+ (even better than Blyleven!*)
    -A 4.38 K/BB ratio, the highest in the modern era.
    I mean, c’mon, Schilling even had a significantly better unadjusted ERA than Jack Morris (3.46 to 3.90), even though Schilling played in one of the craziest offensive eras ever!
    * NB I am not suggesting Schilling is a better all-around pitcher than Blyleven, but merely pointing it out to try to give a frame of reference for his ERA+.

  10. DiamondDuq - Jan 4, 2010 at 5:09 PM

    First of all, I said I wouldn’t have put either in. Secondly, your “advanced metrics” are only “advanced” because it takes more work to make guys look good but if you want to go there then fine, Rice led the league in OPS and OPS+ just as many years as Martinez. I’m not even a Rice guy but I really don’t see all the hysteria behind Martinez, he was never considered elite in the time he played so why would he be considered elite now? Just because since he played some stats nerd threw together some statistical formulas that are as meaningful to what happens on the field as attendance? I don’t think so.

  11. Bill@TDS - Jan 4, 2010 at 5:15 PM

    Wow, I didn’t notice the Schilling comment my first time through. That’s crazy. Schilling was on an entirely different planet from Morris.
    Even if not, though, by that logic, shouldn’t he refuse to vote for Morris before Luis Tiant, Tommy John, Jim Kaat, Jerry Koosman, David Cone, Kevin Appier, Frank Tanana, Chuck Finley, Brett Saberhagen, Dave Stieb, David Wells, Jamie Moyer, Dennis Martinez, or Jimmy Key are in, since they were all better than Morris?

  12. Sherlock Holmes - Jan 4, 2010 at 5:21 PM

    CHB, is that you?

  13. Bill@TDS - Jan 4, 2010 at 5:22 PM

    Advanced metrics are created to artificially make certain players look good? That’s a good one.
    Edgar Martinez was one of the 2 or 3 best hitters in his league in almost every year in which he was a full-time player. Rice had three years in which he was roughly as good as Martinez was over a twelve-year period, and was never nearly as good as Edgar was in his best three consecutive years. It’s not close.
    If you didn’t consider Martinez elite while he was playing, you didn’t know what you were looking at. He was considered one of the greatest hitters in the game, and rightly so. (And “attendance”? Weird, but okay. Edgar is the Mariner fans’ #1 all-time favorite. Pretty sure Fenway would generally have sold out with or without Rice.) That we now understand a little more than we did then and that makes Edgar look even a little bit better is really just icing on the cake, but I don’t see any reason to ignore that knowledge.
    But get back to the numbers you were using, as I did. Rice has a small edge in a few career totals, but required 1000 more outs to get that small edge, and Martinez kills him in batting average and those other rate stats. I actually find it kind of hard to believe that anyone who thinks about it honestly for a minute would seriously believe Rice was the better player, but I have no doubt that anyone who does is completely wrong.

  14. Bill@TDS - Jan 4, 2010 at 5:41 PM

    I wrote a long reply to this, and it seems to have vanished into the ether. (Apologies if it turns up later.) In brief(er):
    1. Yes, you did say you wouldn’t put either in, but you also said Rice was better than Martinez. And you were really, really wrong about that.
    2. Really? Advanced metrics were created to further an agenda making some players artificially look better than others? That’s…nonsense. Kind of hilarious nonsense.
    3. Martinez was considered elite at the time he played. If you didn’t think he was elite, you didn’t know what you were looking at. And I don’t know why “attendance” should mean anything, but okay: Edgar is the all-time most beloved Mariner, and I’m pretty sure Fenway would generally have sold out with or without Rice. So, yeah.
    4. Edgar was one of the very best hitters alive in almost every year he played. Some say Rice was viewed as such (though his followers have greatly exaggerated this in the 20+ years since), but he never was for any extended period. Edgar’s three best years were each better than Rice’s very best, and Rice’s best three years were only about as good as the average of Edgar’s best twelve-year run. It’s just not close. I have a hard time believing anyone who thinks about it honestly for a second would truly believe it was, but if you do seriously believe that, you’re completely wrong.

  15. Bill@TDS - Jan 4, 2010 at 5:42 PM

    Hmm…the old reply wasn’t showing up, and now it is. Need to bring the “delete comment” feature back…

  16. Jim - Jan 4, 2010 at 6:04 PM

    If Edgar Martinez had to play defense would his career have lasted as long. Would he have had more injurys playing full time instead of half time. By being able to concentrate on just hitting the ball instead of fielding it, did he have an advantage over other players. If you look closely at Jim Rice’s and Edgar Martinez’s stats they are closely comparable. All this without mentioning rumors. I don’t know about Edgar Martinez, but if you want to talk about how Jim Rice stacks up why don’t you compare him to those already in the Hall. You might find many players in there already that pale in comparison.

  17. Chris Simonds - Jan 4, 2010 at 6:28 PM

    What really turns that curly-headed rascal on? Read his columns from 2005. Theo Epstein in a gorilla suit is what turns him on.

  18. Bill@TDS - Jan 4, 2010 at 6:33 PM

    If you look closely at Jim Rice’s and Edgar Martinez’s stats they are closely comparable.
    No, that’s true only if you don’t look closely. If you look only at batting average, HR, RBI, hits and runs, sure, they’re pretty close. If you look at things that actually measure how good they were at baseball, Edgar comes out way ahead.
    if you want to talk about how Jim Rice stacks up why don’t you compare him to those already in the Hall.
    Because that’s not a fair fight? Essentially the only ones already in the Hall that don’t completely embarrass Rice in any comparison are the “what the hell?” picks by the Frankie Frisch Veterans’ Committee.

  19. diamondduq - Jan 4, 2010 at 7:02 PM

    Bill you’re out of your mind and frankly your arrogance on the matter is exaggerating your ignorance on the matter. Last time I checked, who gets on base the most and who grounds into the fewest double plays didn’t determine who wins the game, run production does which is easily seen by looking at runs scored personally and runs driven in. And don’t give me “runs created” because who knows how Bill James came up with his “runs created” formula but it’s flawed since getting on base and actually scoring have not been accounted for properly, as evidence by Edgar Martinez getting on base so much but not scoring an equally proportional amount. That being said, based on your “advanced metrics”, John Kruk is a better hitter than Tony Gwynn!!! Using your logic, John Kruk has a higher OBP, higher OPS+ and grounded into fewer double plays, has a higher Offensive win %, made over 3000 fewer outs and had a higher ISO than Gwynn so he must be better. I’m not going to speculate why these “advanced metrics” were created, though I’d assume boredom, but that example alone is enough to disqualify your arguments.
    “Martinez was considered elite at the time he played. If you didn’t think he was elite, you didn’t know what you were looking at. And I don’t know why “attendance” should mean anything, but okay: Edgar is the all-time most beloved Mariner, and I’m pretty sure Fenway would generally have sold out with or without Rice. So, yeah.”
    You made my point for me in regards to attendance, that’s how advanced metrics should be looked at “I don’t know why ‘they’ should mean anything”, which I have previously defended. And no one cares how well liked a guy was, he wasn’t even the best hitter on his team in most years, Ken Griffey Jr. was and after him Alex Rodriguez was. So let’s see, elite?
    Ken Griffey Jr.
    Barry Bonds
    Frank Thomas
    Jeff Bagwell
    Alex Rodriguez
    Larry Walker
    Manny Ramirez
    Mike Piazza
    Gary Sheffield
    Mark McGwire
    Jason Giambi
    Tony Gwynn
    (stop me when I get to a guy who wasn’t considered a better player in the 90’s)
    Cal Ripken Jr.
    Craig Biggio
    Ivan Rodriguez
    Matt Williams
    Roberto Alomar
    Rafael Palmeiro
    Ricky Henderson
    Wade Boggs
    Barry Larkin
    Sammy Sosa
    Albert Belle
    That’s 23, when does it stop being elite? I’d keep going but that would be redundant.

  20. Bill@TDS - Jan 4, 2010 at 9:22 PM

    I’m fine with being arrogant, as long as I’m not just trying to be all snooty and arrogant but really just end up sounding ridiculous because I don’t know what I’m talking about, as you just did.
    That being said, based on your “advanced metrics”, John Kruk is a better hitter than Tony Gwynn!!! Using your logic, John Kruk has a higher OBP, higher OPS+ and grounded into fewer double plays, has a higher Offensive win %, made over 3000 fewer outs and had a higher ISO than Gwynn so he must be better.
    No, that’s true only based on the unique combination of “my” “advanced metrics” and your complete misunderstanding and misapplication of them. You can’t just take two players’ careers and compare them like that when one is 2 1/2 times longer than the other. For their careers, Gwynn was obviously the better hitter. However, when you’ve got two careers of almost identical lengths–like, say, Edgar and Rice–then it works a little better. I’ve never understood why some people go to such lengths to discredit something they don’t have even a basic understanding of.
    Your “elite” thing is too silly to really respond to, but. You don’t think there can be 23 “elite” players in a 12- or 14-year period? Really? And you’ve already gotted ridiculous and named Matt Williams, Wade Boggs, Rickey Henderson and Cal Ripken (the first was never particularly good and the other three were pretty much done being impactful players before Edgar even started his run of great seasons), so do you really expect anyone to believe you can keep going? Anyway, Edgar was a better hitter, from 1995-2003, than anybody on that list but Bonds, McGwire and arguably Manny, and was generally recognized as such.
    So anyway. Nice try. But Edgar is at least a borderline Hall of Famer, and just runs circles around Rice. Just the facts.

  21. diamondduq - Jan 4, 2010 at 10:16 PM

    Bill, you’re the only one who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. You can’t use statistics only when they work to your benefit and discredit them when they don’t. Career statistics are career statistics, no one says Pete Rose isn’t the all-time hits leader because it took him 3,500 more at bats than Ty Cobb or that Hank Aaron having more homeruns than Babe Ruth doesn’t count because it took him almost 4000 more at bats. If you’re going to use flimsy measures of offensive achievement to base your arguments on then you need to be prepared to have your flimsy arguments turned around. As far as your feeble attempt to discredit my “elite” example, Edgar’s first batting title was in 1992 and his last in 1995 with his arguably best offensive year coming in 2000 at age 37, no red flags there, so pretty much the 90’s cover it. Certainly over a decade plus there can be more than 23 “elite” players to come and go and I’d be more than happy to continue listing players that any GM in baseball would have gotten fired for trading straight up to get Martinez at any time between 1992 and 2000 if you’d like but that seems like a meaningless endeavor. However, 3 of the guys you listed to counter my “elite” example are first ballot HOFers already, all receiving over 90% of the votes, and Matt Williams was a middle of the lineup, gold glove winning 3rd baseman for the entire decade of the 90’s, who again any GM would have been fired for trading straight up for Martinez. Finally, since you’re a fan of voodoo statistics, here’s a list of similar batters using similarity scores:
    Will Clark
    Todd Helton
    John Olerud
    Moises Alou
    Bobby Abreu
    Bernie Williams
    Hardly HOF caliber players. On top of that, your God of “advanced metrics”, Bill James, has his own HOF monitor rating in which Edgar is 2 points behind Don Mattingly whose highest received voting percentage thus far is 11.9%, for whatever that’s worth, probably about as much as “advanced metrics”.

  22. JBerardi - Jan 4, 2010 at 10:57 PM

    And don’t give me “runs created” because who knows how Bill James came up with his “runs created” formula
    Uhh, pretty much everyone knows that who’s spent more than two minutes trying to figure out it. Wikipedia knows, fer cryin’ out loud: “Runs created is believed to be an accurate measure of an individual’s offensive contribution because, when used on whole teams, the formula normally closely approximates how many runs the team actually scores. Even the basic version of runs created usually predicts a team’s run total within a 5% margin of error.[3] Other, more advanced versions are even more accurate.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runs_created

  23. DiamondDuq - Jan 5, 2010 at 8:42 AM

    I never said I didn’t know how runs created was calculated or what it attempts to quantify. You conveniently edited my statement to omit where I said OBP has too much weight in its calculation, which is true of nearly all statistical calculations Bill James is connected to or in favor of, and it is that bias that discredits many of these sabermetric measures. As I placed in a previous posting, no one ever won a game by having more men on base, in fact frequently the team with the most baserunners loses as they are LOB (left on base) but in the history of baseball the team that actually scored the most runs has won 100% of the time!
    In addition to the link listed below as evidence, looking at the 1996 Mariners, Edgar Martinez has the 2nd highest “runs created”, which by the way when totaling the runs created for the team does not match the runs scored, but he wasn’t directly responsible for the 2nd most runs. When adding a players runs (he himself scored) to RBI (runs he directly drove in) and subracting HR (to eliminate some bias toward HR that count as both runs and RBI) you can see runs a player was directly accountable for, admittedly this number does not equal runs scored either which apparently isn’t important anyway, and Edgar Martinez is suddenly 4th. Yes, Edgar had a .464 OBP in 1996, which inflated his runs scored number, but when looking at actual production of runs he was 4th!
    http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/btf/scholars/furtado/articles/NewRC.html

  24. JR - Jan 9, 2010 at 5:11 AM

    At his peak Jim Rice was a better player than Edgar Martinez. Andre Dawson was better than Tim Raines. Dan Shaughnessy’s column was a breath of fresh air in this debate and I agreed with it. Now back to the geek stats. How did baseball exist before WAR and BABIP? The saber geeks think they re-invented baseball. How’s Billy Beane’s Moneyball working out anyway?

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