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The best Hall of Fame column I’ve read so far

Dec 23, 2010, 11:00 AM EDT

mcgwire-101020

It’s Ken Davidoff’s.  And while I really like his selections — Roberto Alomar, Jeff Bagwell, Bert Blyleven, Kevin Brown, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Mark McGwire, Tim Raines, Alan Trammell and Larry Walker — I like his reasoning and explanation better.

Among many other bits of goodness, Davidoff points out how important the five-year waiting period is for players. He does this by noting that, as many other have noted, Kevin Brown was a tremendous ass while he played, but how in five years it was a lot easier to separate that from the consideration of his Hall case. It’s understandable when guys in the media get miffed at players who make it hard for them to do their job. It’s not cool when that is held against the player forever. Davidoff seems to get this better than most.

Also nice: Davidoff’s take on how to weigh the contributions of power hitters in the high-octane 90s. Money quote:

There’s concern that we’re going to honor every hitter fortunate enough to go deep a few times over the last 20 years or so. I don’t view it that way. Thanks to comparable stats like WAR and OPS+, we can measure players against their contemporaries and act accordingly.

There are many voters who have basically thrown their hands up in frustration, seemingly unable to tell the difference between the Jeff Bagwells and the Rico Brognas of the world. Davidoff puts lie to that silly notion.  He also once again deftly explains his stance on PED use and the Hall, which he did last year when he first voted for McGwire.

Like I’ve said before: it’s not helpful to say that any BBWAA member’s votes are wrong or stupid or what have you. It is helpful to critique approaches, however. Though my ballot wouldn’t be exactly like Davidoff’s — I’d be inclined to wait on Brown and Walker — his approach is unassailable.

Nice work, Ken.

  1. BC - Dec 23, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    Hey, don’t be hating on Rico Brogna – he’s Connecticut born, man! Don’t diss my state!
    That being said, that’s a great article.
    Walker and Trammell should get more consideration than they will, but they’re not getting in, and I’d vote no myself.
    Larkin I have a rough time with, completely on the fence with him, leaning no, but unsure.
    Yeah, Kevin Brown was an a$$, but a lot of other guys were. Probably the reason Jim Rice waited so long, or why Ted Williams didn’t win the 1941 MVP, etc etc. That being said, I would not vote Brown in. Dominant for a stretch, but not the something like 1.80 ERA, 0.90 WHIP 6 years of Koufax.
    The other guys on his ballot – in. (I’ve given up on the PED thing at this point). Though I think Bagwell will have trouble getting in. I don’t think he wowed people enough, just an odd feeling I have.

    • paperlions - Dec 23, 2010 at 11:51 AM

      Larkin was every bit as valuable as Trammel, with a career WAR essentially equal to that of Ozzie, Reese, Boudreau, and Jeter (so far). He has the 13th best wRC+ (park and league adjusted offensive production) of all-time for SS. That is clearly a HOF career. Like Trammel, he had the misfortune of playing his entire career in the mid-west.

  2. sdelmonte - Dec 23, 2010 at 11:29 AM

    I like that he is able to acknowledge the love some of these get from the fans without letting that alter his vote.

    Also, seeing some of those names is a nice trip back to the 200 Mets, with Franco and Leiter and Olerud. None of them HoFers but all of them worth remembering from time to time. (Franco might have been only adequate, but after some of the adventures in Mets bullpen madness, I would settle for adequate but also a gamer and a good guy.)

  3. Detroit Michael - Dec 23, 2010 at 11:42 AM

    What a fine article! Leaving aside his conclusions, with which I agree almost entirely:
    - He writes with verve.
    - He acknowledges looking at WAR and some of the other stats on baseball-reference.com
    - He shows he loves watching the game (e.g. the Leiter comment)
    - He reveals some fun inside stories (e.g. the Higginson and Mondesi comments)
    - He shows some deft dealing with the PEDs issue (e.g. the Palmeiro and Santiago comments)

  4. Detroit Michael - Dec 23, 2010 at 11:48 AM

    By the way, one think he is wrong about is writing that it’s apparent the McGwire will never get into the Hall of Fame. The BBWAA voters seem to forget that various editions of the veterans committee keep electing people for decades and decades after they have dropped off of the BBWAA ballot. How long did Bid McPhee and George Davis have between when they retired and when they were inducted?

    While I personally believe it likely that McGwire will be inducted into the Hall of Fame eventually, I think any objective analysis is that we won’t know that eventual verdict for a very, very long time.

  5. Jonny 5 - Dec 23, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    I know this goes against all things Craig has been screaming about lately in regards to the HOF and who deserves to be in it or not. But I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a “small Hall” guy. I don’t think I’ll even attempt to argue my point, because to do it you have to break down individuals and explain why you feel ____ _______ was a borderline HOF option on my imaginary ballot, And then after everyone argues with me I then Have to explain to people who think I’m an idiot anyway why guys that are borderline need to be thrown over to the scrap heap and not make it in. Ever. If there’s an argument to be made one way or the other, I feel they shouldn’t get in. I feel it should be to celebrate undeniable greatness, not “maybe he was worthy, maybe he wasn’t, but I’m voting him in anyway because someone statistically less a player is already in there.” Either they make the cut or not, but you have to draw a line somewhere. Mine is in a different spot than others that’s all.

    Now with that all out in the open, I will also go on to say, I’m pretty disgusted with how the HOF is operated, and I am to the point where I don’t really give a damn who gets in or not anymore.

    • diamondduq - Dec 23, 2010 at 3:48 PM

      I second that. HOF is synonymous with “Hall of the Great” not “Hall of the very very very good” (or however many “very”s you want to throw in there). IMO they should take away the 15 year window and throw out the veterans committee (some of their picks are horrendous), make the waiting period 10 years then you get a 1-and-done vote, 75% gets you in. If 75% of people in a room don’t consider you great in year 1 what changes between then and year 15? You’re not playing anymore! And if 75% of people don’t think you belong in the HOF then were you really “Great”? Doubtful.

    • Bochy's Head/Timmy's Bong - Dec 23, 2010 at 4:01 PM

      “If there’s an argument to be made one way or the other, I feel they shouldn’t get in. I feel it should be to celebrate undeniable greatness…”

      Don’t think this really works, Jonny. No matter if you are a big Hall guy, or a small Hall guy, or a very small Hall guy (like you), there is always a line to be drawn. And then there will always be guys perceived to be right around any line you wish to draw. Those cases will need to be argued and considered – players that some see as below your line, and others as above.

      The only line you can draw that makes it black and white, no arguments, is to make it the ultimate small Hall, as in “the player has to be clearly better than Ruth and Bonds, or he’s not in.”

  6. Panda Claus - Dec 23, 2010 at 12:12 PM

    I really don’t have much to add about Davidoff’s column, but would say it’s a paints a fantastically clear image of where he’s coming from. Straight down the line, yay or nay, with explanation when necessary.

    While I don’t 100% agree with his selections, because of how he presented his viewpoint I don’t have much problem with anything he said.

  7. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 23, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    I like most of his choices – I wouldn’t go for Walker just yet either.

    I didn’t realize what an ass Brown was – missed that memo somehow – but here’s a fun article on that aspect of him (at least part of it’s about him:
    http://bally.fortunecity.com/bloom/189/kb/book.htm

  8. schlom - Dec 23, 2010 at 6:43 PM

    Larry Walker? Seriously? I can understand (although I don’t agree) with not voting for Palmeiro because of the positive steroid test but Larry Walker was simply a Coors Field creation (legal steroids if you will). His road OPS is the same as Derrek Lee’s and Rusty Greer’s – I don’t think anyone is claiming they were HOF players.

    • Kevin S. - Dec 23, 2010 at 7:44 PM

      OPS+, wRC+, and every park-adjusted offensive metric, like, ever say ‘hi.’

  9. 1sgretired - Dec 29, 2010 at 7:25 AM

    As a lifelong Reds fan, I don’t think Larkin is a Hall-of- famer. He missed a lot of games, constantly asked for more money, and the Reds were not that good in his era. He was simply the best player on a not- so- good team.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 29, 2010 at 9:47 AM

      He missed games mostly at the tail end of his career; but playing 19 seasons is nearly twice the minimum required to be eligible.

      Asking for money and playing for a bad team has nothing to do with anything. But while you mention it, he was on a pretty good 1990 Reds team, yes?

      Dude has a lifetime .815OPS, a 3.7WAR, and was baseball’s first 30/30 SS. I think he’s in, easily.

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