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Behold: the worst Hall of Fame ballot you’ll see this year

Jan 4, 2011, 3:00 PM EDT

BJ Surhoff.php

ESPN has a whopping 18 Hall of Fame voters in its employ, and today they released their ballots.

It’s hard to follow because they do it by player (you have to read the names underneath) but Jason at IIATMS has made a grid out of it.  The following ballot submitted by ESPN news editor Barry Stanton sticks out:

Jack Morris, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Tino Martinez, and BJ Surhoff.

Tino and B.J. Surhoff? Guess you had to be there.

101 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. spudchukar - Jan 5, 2011 at 12:34 PM

    Continued. I don’t know where you are getting your stats PL but according to MLB.com Wainwright struck out 213 in 2010 and 212 in 2009. Sort of shoots a hole in the whole great/very good theory. But the Carpenter analysis is pure poppycock. Before he came to St. Louis he recorded seasons of ERA with Toronto of 5.09,4.57,4.38,6.26,4.09, and 5.28. Pretty darn mediocre. Then suddenly, remarkably his move to the warmer climes of the U.S., namely St. Louis produced seasons of 3.49,2.83,3.09,2.24, and 3.22. If he ever had a lucky season it was last year. Home runs saved by miraculous catches, line drives turned into double plays etc, etc. I watched, I know. But the stats do not lie either. His GO/AO ratio ballooned to 1.45, similarly to numbers in Toronto. In his 2 GREAT years with St. Louis 2005 when he took home the Cy Young it was 1.93, and in 2009 it was 1.91. Telling.
    As to rehashing old arguments, you miss my point. I have consistently stated that good arguments can be made for Wainwright and Lincecum. The point I am stressing, and I will continue to emphasize going forward is the unnecessary and irrational emphasis on strikeouts as a determining factor in a pitcher’s performance. It can be a chimera, and in some organizations, and very successful ones, like St. Louis and Atlanta, the strikeout is something to avoid if possible, reserved for necessary situations, when your still strong and not overworked arm can achieve its desired result.

    • paperlions - Jan 5, 2011 at 12:54 PM

      You really should pay attention. In 2009/2010, Wainwright’s strikeout rate was MUCH higher than it was before (as I said in the previous post). You stating his high strikeout totals for the years I said he was great and not the lower totals/rates for the years he was only good supports my argument. So, thank.
      .
      About Carpenter, you are wrong. You just made up a bunch of stuff, none of which is consistent with…you know…facts. Carpenter gave up 0.33 hr/9 innings in 2009, which is not a sustainable rate. For his career, he has given up .93 HR/9 innings, and last year it was about 0.83 (I’m not looking that up again). He wasn’t lucky last year, he was lucky in 2009.

  2. ThatGuy - Jan 5, 2011 at 1:37 PM

    Barry Stanton posted his response to the BJ Surhoff vote in a chat. This is as good as any to post it. He had to do it in three parts due to chat limitations

    PART I
    In 1976, I was just out of college and working my first job at the Port Chester (NY) Daily Item, covering a Babe Ruth 13-year-old tournament. The starting pitcher for the team from Rye was supposed to be their star, a big kid named Rich Surhoff, whose father Dick had played for the NY Knicks in the 1950s. Surhoff did, in fact, make it t the major leagues, spending nine games with the Philadelphia Phillies. But that day, the pitcher’s younger brother was the one who caught my attention. He was only 12 years old and playing with the older kids, playing shortstop. On consecutive plays, I saw him range behind third base to the left field line and throw out a runner, then range the other way all the way behind first to catch a tricky pop that eluded a teammate.
    After that game, I told BJ I thought that someday, I’d be watching him in the major leagues. For the next few years, I watched BJ become a local star at Rye HS, covering his games occasionally. And I remember telling him then that someday, I’d be voting for him for the Hall of Fame. Surhoff, went on to a career at UNC, became the No. 1 pick of the draft, played on our first Olympic baseball team. He had a very good (though not great) career for 18 years in MLB. And then there he was on my ballot (I’ve been a BBWAA member since 1985 and have had a Hall of Fame vote since ’95). So I remembered that promise (though I honestly can’t say if BJ does) and checked the box.
    PART 3
    The reaction to that astounds me. I expected people who didn’t know the story to question that vote. But the sheer level of nastiness, the anger, amazes me. I really didn’t think BJ would get elected. I’d be surprised if he got another vote besides mine. And I’m fine with that. BJ was a very good player and a good guy (check out the work he’s done for autism, sparked by his autistic son). He earned the fulfillment of that 35-year-old promise. And who, exactly did that hurt? If voting for BJ cost someone who deserved entry, I wouldn’t have done it. And if the rules said that everybody who got one vote got in, then I definitely wouldn’t have done it. But it didn’t.

  3. spudchukar - Jan 5, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    If you actually watched the games, rather than trying to extract “facts” from chosen stats, you might get a clue as to Carpenter’s performance. To suggest his success in 2009 was due to good fortune, is like saying Roger Maris was “lucky” in 1961 or more currently, Batista jump in HR in 2010 was due to some manna from heaven. A great book was once written, “How to Lie with Statistics”, and you have fallen into its pre-eminent trap. Equating one statistic with a fact and thereby concluding the fact is due to the statistic. I didn’t “make up a bunch of stuff”. I watched, but I also supported it with the GO/AO. Which is granted one stat and cannot fully explain the season. But much more telling are the ERA changes once he became a Cardinal, adopting the Duncan/La Russa pitching to contact strategy. These conclusions are made on multiple years with each organization, which becomes a trend. The Cardinals saw in Carpenter a guy whose stuff was adaptable to their philosophy and it worked. Last year the Carpenter we saw was not the same. To excuse it as a return to normality, is disrespecting his remarkable achievements in 2005 and 2009 when he pitched superbly. Like Maris hit superbly in 1961 and Batista did in 2010. To dismiss their accomplishments as an anomaly is a slippery slope. Just like trying to diminish pitchers who get outs by means other than the over-emphasized strikeout.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:14 PM

      To excuse it as a return to normality, is disrespecting his remarkable achievements in 2005 and 2009 when he pitched superbly. Like Maris hit superbly in 1961 and Batista did in 2010. To dismiss their accomplishments as an anomaly is a slippery slope.

      No, it’s not. It’s saying that it’s not indicative of the individual’s true talent level. And funny you should pick a guy like Maris, who outside of his career ’61 season had highs of 39, 33, and 28 HRs. The 61 HR season was an anomaly.

      The joke about How to Lie with Statistics is as hacky as it is old. Baseball stats don’t lie, people do.

      • spudchukar - Jan 5, 2011 at 3:38 PM

        True talent level!!?? What do you think caused the 61 HRs, 50+ HR, and Cy Young years? Nothing but the exercise of Talent. This is the entire problem when baseball is reduced to statistical analysis. It isn’t a joke it is a real book, mandatory reading in an Intro to Political Science class at ol’ Westminster College in 1970. People use stats to lie, draw conclusions they want to believe to be true, and perpetrate theories that support their biases. People are human, thank God. Some years they outperform others. But their accomplishments are real. So are their sins, slumps, and stumbles. Stats are tools, that help us understand the game we share. But that is all they are. To scoff at unusual achievements as anomaly is to slip into a Statistical Solipsism that reminds me of one of Dante’s levels of Hell. These”brief shining moments”, are what we live for. What drives our sports enthusiasm. The Bucky Dents, Bobby Thompsons, and Don Larsons. To dismiss their meteoric arcs as some event that falls outside the Bell Curve diminishes them to numerical insignificance. It would be like assessing the “Miracle on Ice”, as an occurrence that falls outside the norm, and therefore should be ignored or shuffled onto the bone pile of anomalies.
        It was inconceivable that the Black Pirate was gaining on the trio in “The Princess Bride.” Outside the realm of possibility. They got caught.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 5, 2011 at 3:59 PM

        Good god you’re all over the place.

        True talent level!!?? What do you think caused the 61 HRs, 50+ HR, and Cy Young years?

        Yes, talent gave those men the ability to do those superhuman feats. However, you want to ascribe these outlier seasons as some ability on the individual. Well why didn’t they always perform like that? Why is there such a significant drop off for Maris compared to his ’61 season? Did he not care? Was he hurt every other year other than ’61?

        People use stats to lie, draw conclusions they want to believe to be true, and perpetrate theories that support their biases. People are human, thank God. Some years they outperform others. But their accomplishments are real. So are their sins, slumps, and stumbles.

        I highlighted the important part. Stats don’t lie, people lie. People manipulate them to say what they want them to say. If I take a poll of 10 people on whether they like oj or not, and 6 respond saying yes. saying 60% like oj isn’t an issue. It’s when I turn around and manipulate those numbers (like saying 60% of america, based on a small sampling likes oj) is when it becomes a problem. But no where did I say that a sampling said 80% or 20%. That’s a lie

        Stats are tools, that help us understand the game we share. But that is all they are

        No, stats are a record of what happened. They help us complete the story, but they are a factual basis of what occurred

        To scoff at unusual achievements as anomaly is to slip into a Statistical Solipsism that reminds me of one of Dante’s levels of Hell

        I never scoffed at any achievement, but this metaphor is terrible. How does doing this equate to any sin in the eyes of the Catholic Church is beyond me.

        It would be like assessing the “Miracle on Ice”, as an occurrence that falls outside the norm, and therefore should be ignored or shuffled onto the bone pile of anomalies.

        And here we finally get to why you have such a backlash against the previous posts. The Miracle on Ice happened, Bob Beamon shattered a WR in the long jump in Mexico City, Fernando Tatis hit two grand slams in one inning. All of those things happened. However, they are all outliers on people’s particular abilities. The US was clearly an inferior team in ’80, and benefited greatly when Tretiak was pulled after the first period. If they played that game 100 times, maybe the US wins 5/100. Beamon uncorked an amazing long jump that was significantly enhanced by the thin air. It took 30 years before someone came close to him.

        All of this happened, but if it was indicative of their true talent level, why wasn’t it repeated?

  4. spudchukar - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    Nice anecdote and all That Guy, but acquiring the right to vote for members of the Hall of Fame is an honor. It should be taken seriously. Write an article about how you promised B.J. to vote for him, but in retrospect it was a childhood fantasy and leave it at that. It only opens doors for every other voter to cast silly votes, with their own quaint stories, to bastardize the voting process. Get serious B.S., it is a holy place.

  5. spudchukar - Jan 5, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    I just lost an entire reply. On foxfire I might add.

    • paperlions - Jan 6, 2011 at 7:35 AM

      That’s okay, no one was going to read it anyway. You clearly have no understanding of statistics or probability and regularly dismiss facts for anecdotes. Your arguments don’t hold water, they don’t even hold ice.

  6. BC - Jan 6, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    I just put comment on to get this post to 100 comments.

    • Adam - Jan 6, 2011 at 6:51 PM

      This is a comment-enhancing comment and therefore disqualifies this thread from all consideration.

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