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Don’t use MVP voting to throw cold water on Jim Thome’s Hall of Fame case

Aug 17, 2011, 10:00 AM EDT

Jim Thome Getty Images

Personally speaking I think Jim Thome is a Hall of Famer. I haven’t really analyzed his case yet and won’t for a while, but I think he is.  The general sentiment among writers over the past few days seems to reflect that too. Even guys who have historically been opposed to so-called “stat-compilers” and who are thus less-impressed with milestone numbers as opposed to how fearsome or clutch a player seemed to be are on the Thome train. Guys like Jon Heyman, for example.

But Joel Sherman isn’t quite so sure.  His column today, while not sharply discounting Thome’s Hall of Fame case, certainly places it in second-tier status.  Sherman believes that Thome is more of a Don Sutton figure who, if he is elected, will do so because he hung around a long time and was likable.  Sherman does not believe, however, that Thome was ever an elite player, the sort of which people considered to be among the best in the game.  Among the evidence he cites:

Fred McGriff, for example, finished with 493 homers and is roundly viewed as a clean player, yet in his two eligible years has not exceeded 21.6 percent of the Hall vote.

McGriff, also a lefty, slugging first baseman, was named to five All-Star teams and his highest finish in the MVP tally was fourth. Want to guess Thome’s results? It is five All-Star teams and a high of fourth in the MVP voting. In fact, McGriff finished in the top 10 of MVP voting six times compared to four for Thome.

Does anyone besides me have a major problem with using MVP voting results as a Hall of Fame criteria? That having the same guys who vote on those awards — baseball writers — cite those vote totals as evidence for their Hall of Fame decisions?  Kind of circular, no?

This is especially true when you realize that Thome — just like Fred McGriff — was severely underrated when it came to postseason awards voting.  To cite the example many have cited in the past few days, in 2002, the baseball writers voted Thome 7th in the MVP voting despite the fact that he led the league in OPS and was second in WAR.  Indeed for several years Thome’s contributions were discounted as if he were some sort of bizarro Dave Kingman figure, doing little besides hitting home runs but at least doing it with a smile.

Thome was much more than that.  So too was McGriff for that matter.  That the writers didn’t appreciate that at the time should not count a lick to the writers who will need to assess Thome’s case in five or six years.

105 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    He is far different than compilers like Blyleven and Sutton for one simple reason…he has 10000+ plate appearances and he got on base at a .403 clip. As far as I am concerned, that is the only thing you need to know about the guy. ANBODY in the history of baseball who gets 10000+ plate appearances and ends up with an OBP of .403 should be a first ballot hall of famer. No matter what position he played, or even if he was a DH all the time, again…ANY PLAYER who amasses 10,000 PAs and gets on base at a 40% clip is a hall of famer.

    • halladaysbiceps - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:20 AM

      He’s certainly a hall of famer. Besides what stats Chris stated above, he’s only the 8th player ever to hit 600 homeruns, which is much more rare than the 3,000 hit club.

      By the way, Chis. I saw your post the other day that talked about hiding behind handles as names. My name is Jim, by the way.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:26 AM

        Well, looking over career OBP leaders, I guess there may be a guy or two who there could be doubts about letting into the hall with those two specific stats or very close.. I guess I’ll amend my statement to say that while the 600 HRs could be construed as compiling, even though averaging 30 home runs a year for 20 years is still pretty spectacular, his body of work is hall of fame, no matter how he finished in the MVP voting.

        I get a sense that Craig was taking a shot at Ryan Howard(what else is new) when he says not to look at the MVP voting, since Howard was in the top 5 from 2006-2009 and the sabremetric guys don’t even think he was much better than average. To each his own I guess.

        Either way, gentleman Jim deserves to be in the Hall of Fame first ballot no doubt about it.

      • Utley's Hair - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:34 AM

        Which post was that?

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:35 AM

        600 HR might be a little more exclusive than the fifteen players who are .400/10,000, but I’d argue that the latter list is even more prestigious in terms of who made it.

        http://www.fangraphs.com/careerleaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&type=1&min=10000

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:36 AM

        “600 HRs could be construed as compiling”

        I love this statement from you. You almost concede that this means nothing to a segment of the baseball world (LOL). However, those 600 homeruns give him an instant ticket to Cooperstown, NY (i’ve been there once when I was 12; what a place!). Anyone, like Jim Thome, who everyone knows is clean, was/is a powerhouse as a hitter.

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:38 AM

        Of course, we have a saber guy that wants to argue the point further. God bless.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:38 AM

        I don’t think Chris meant he personally considers it compiling, but that someone in the electorate looking for a reason not to vote for Thome could conceivably claim that. That’s how I look at it, anyway.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:39 AM

        I’m not trying to argue the point further, biceps. I’m just in awe of Thome’s career, and I’ll point out how friggin’ awesome it was in eight different ways if I can. I know I don’t need to convince you guys

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:44 AM

        Kevin, but if you look at some guys who are getting close…

        Bobby Abreu…9600 PAs and a .398 OBP. That is too close for me…and Abreu is NOT a Hall of Famer.

        Todd Helton…8660 PAs and a .422 OBP. I think he is a Hall of Famer, but I wouldn’t begrudge someone who made the claim that he was a product of Coors. But still….a .422 OBP is pretty freaking awesome.

        Lance Berkman…7300 PAs and a .409 OBP. I don’t really think he is a hall of famer either, even if he gets to 10000 PAs and keeps his OBP above .400.

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:45 AM

        Kevin,

        You are a great commenter, in my eyes because you don’t push an agenda. I just have a eye stigma in my eye when I see something from fangraphs right now. My name is Jim, by the way.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:49 AM

        I don’t think you can advocate that merely having a 400+ OBP is hall worthy, but it’s a great start*, especially over 10K PA.

        OT but the name thing is interesting. It’d probably bring a little more humility to some of the more obvious trolls.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:53 AM

        holy crap I need to stop posting so fast.

        *400OBP is obviously great, but if that’s all you have going for you, it’s not enough to get you into the HoF. But if you got a 147 OPS+ with 400OBP and 600 HR, I think your ticket is punched.

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:00 AM

        “OT but the name thing is interesting. It’d probably bring a little more humility to some of the more obvious trolls.”

        You are a troll with your obvious disrespect of Jim Thome. Why? You stated:

        “I don’t think you can advocate that merely having a 400+ OBP is hall worthy, but it’s a great start*, especially over 10K PA. ”

        Don’t be an advocate for Jim Thome. Just bring up your stats and put him down.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:00 AM

        Eh… Lance Berkman’s almost four full seasons of plate appearances away from reaching 10,000. If he added that many full seasons of a .400+ OBP (and presuming that also implies that he keeps a somewhat respectable power, right?), you don’t think there’s an argument there? He’d probably be between 450-470 HR, an OPS+ of 140, close to 1400 R and 1500 RBI for those of you so inclined. I think if he gets that and you were to look at his line without a name, you’d guess it belonged to a sure-fire Hall of Famer. He’s not going to play that long at that high a level I don’t think, but if he were, which was your concern, I think he’d be in.

        As for Abreu, well, I know from experience Philly fans have a hard time being rational about him. He’s not a Hall of Famer, but he does have a skill-set that tends to be under-appreciated. He’d also need to have a year with an OBP that he hasn’t sniffed in half a decade to make that plateau.

        Regardless, I wasn’t trying to make .400/10,000 out to be a new 3,000 or anything. I dislike single-stat benchmarks as instant HOF qualifiers because they by definition ignore the other aspects of a player’s game. I just felt the current list was pretty impressive company for Thome.

        And Jim, I love a lot of what Fangraphs does analysis-wise, and obviously you’re going to disagree with much of that, but another awesome thing about the site is the easy with which one can work their sortable leaderboards. That’s all the link was – an OBP sort of every player with at least 10,000 PA.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:04 AM

        Kevin, as the guy who initially tried to make the .400/10,000 plateau a surefire hall of fame thing, I agree. I think it just seems so out of the ordinary, but I guess when a guy like Abreu is so close, you have to take more. And when you take his OPS, OPS+ and of course, HRs, he has to be a lock hall of famer.

        The funny thing about the MVPs is that if you look, a couple of times, he was beaten by A-Rod and Giambi…two guys who won’t get the votes now because of Steroids. Well, then shouldn’t these same voters go back and add a few rungs to Thome’s spot, since he, according to them, should have been higher without the steroid abusers in the game? They want their cake and eat it too!!!!

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:06 AM

        You are a troll with your obvious disrespect of Jim Thome. Why? You stated:

        “I don’t think you can advocate that merely having a 400+ OBP is hall worthy, but it’s a great start*, especially over 10K PA. ”

        Don’t be an advocate for Jim Thome. Just bring up your stats and put him down.

        I’m going to assume you are joking, because I’ve done nothing but post 20-30 comments the last few days advocating Thome for the HoF.

        So if this is sarcasm I apologize. Not enough coffee this morning.

      • nudeman - Aug 17, 2011 at 12:11 PM

        Well I’ve made myself fairly unpopular on another blog by saying I think Thome was a juicer. Here’s the most recent message I posted on the subject. The reaction has been decidedly negative, probably because Thome is such a popular player and well known good guy. I don’t for a minute think he’s a bad guy; I just think there’s ample evidence to suggest he probably juiced. Here you go:

        I am really surprised by the defense of Jim Thome and the arrogant nature of some of the posts. I’ve gone out of my way to say I’m not 100% sure he juiced, and that his numbers just appear suspicious. Very suspicious. Here are my final points on this matter:

        1) I stand corrected on the ballpark HR friendliness issue. Sounds like Philly is a bit of a bandbox, and Comiskey is also somewhat HR friendly. These however were tangental points to the main issue.

        2) Someone corrected my extrapolation of his 2009 humbers. I said 38, he said it extrapolated to 31. Fine. Let’s not quibble and let’s look at what some other notable HR guys did at 38:
        Mays: 13
        Killebrew: 13
        F. Robinson: 22
        M. Schmidt: 12
        R. Jackson: 27
        Ernie Banks: 23
        Eddie Matthews: retired

        I could go on. Thome hit more than ANYONE has ever hit at that age, except Aaron and Ruth, both of whom I’ve already noted played in much more HR friendly conditions: ballparks, era, guys batting around them, etc.

        3) Last year he hit 25 in 276 ABs at the age of 39. So he actually got MORE productive as he got older.

        4) Someone said HGH is NOT a performance enhancer. Really? It helps your body recover much more quickly from physically strenuous activities. That could be an intense workout with weights, or it could be a day game after a night game, or a long coast to coast to coast trip at tough hours. As such, it helps keep you fresher, stronger, and in the lineup, when you might otherwise need a day off. Sorry, if it looks like a duck and acts like a duck, it’s a duck. HGH enhances performance. Why the hell else would players in all sports take it? Why did Clemens take it? Bonds? Others. Were they trying to get slower?

        5) Final conclusion: Just my opinion, but I think Thome juiced. He didn’t show up on the infamous list of 104 positive ‘roid testers, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt there. That is NOT the same as saying I don’t think he did ‘roids, though.
        If I had to guess, I’d say he’s done BOTH, but since testing got serious has only done HGH.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2011 at 12:35 PM

        @nudeman

        Taking your pts one at a time

        1. But being corrected on your point means park factors are no longer a benefit in your favor. He hit in HR parks, it boosted his numbers, this is now a counter argument against PED use.

        2. You listed a bunch of sluggers and their results at age 38. Why’d you leave out Aaron who hit 34 at age 38? Also, solely picking age 38 removes things like Mays hitting 28 at age 39. Mays only played 117 games at 38. Was he hurt? Ernie Banks hit 37 HR at age 37. Reggie hit 27 at age 38. Is a difference of 4 that much? There are extenuating circumstances so merely saying player A hit X HR in Y year, and these players D,C,E didn’t ergo steroids is a bit of a leap.

        3. No arguments here, he did

        4. I said HGH isn’t a performance enhancer. Scientifically it’s never been proven to increase a healthy athletes performance. Shouldn’t that be the definition of PED?

        Unless you want to say that helping an athlete get back to a baseline level of performance is a PED (which I think it is personally), but that brings things like Greenies into discussion which casts doubt on Mays, Aaron, etc.

        5. This is a bit in your favor, but the list of 104 has never been completely released. Could Thome have been on it? Possibly. However, we should never see the list, have no right to see the list, and anyone releasing information of who is on the list is breaking the law.

      • nudeman - Aug 17, 2011 at 12:58 PM

        Church

        First I explained yesterday why I chose that age range: 35 – 37 is when historically before juice slowed down. Significantly. Thome never slowed down. In fact his production went UP from age 38 to 39. Sorry; when everyone is clean, that just doesn’t happen.

        Where are you getting your data, my friend? Ernie Banks hit 12 HRs at 39, not 37.
        I referenced Aaron and Ruth as the ONLY players who hit more than Thome at that age. And I also cited what I believe to be mitigating factors in their production. Can you please read the whole post before knee jerk reacting?

        Greenies were also available to Thome as well, until the last couple years. It’s only very recently they started testing for amphetamines.

        Final point: I am not relying on a single data point (year, HR total, age) as you suggest. I’ve cited several different combinations and compared them with other great sluggers. Thome hit way more than anyone between the ages of 35-37 (except Aaron and Ruth); he hit a full season equivalent of 31 at age 38 (VERY strong production); and his production WENT UP at age 39.
        And btw, you asked why I chose those players: I looked at every 500+ HR hitter I could think of, off the top of my head, with the exceptiion of the ones I KNOW juiced (McGwire, Bonds, A-Rod) and one I strongly suspect juiced (Griffey). I wasn’t cherry picking. If I missed someone, just because it’s timely to do the looking up. Feel free to do some more for me. I did notice that Ted Williams actually hit 38 at age 38, so that’s impressive. Mantle was 2 years retired. The point is that, in an era known for PEDs, Jim Thome had outrageously strong power production, that INCREASED as he aged (38-39).
        As far as the list of 104 goes, it’s out there. I’ve seen it. Do some googling; easy to find.

        Case closed.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2011 at 1:22 PM

        First I explained yesterday why I chose that age range: 35 – 37 is when historically before juice slowed down. Significantly. Thome never slowed down. In fact his production went UP from age 38 to 39. Sorry; when everyone is clean, that just doesn’t happen.

        Except this isn’t the case:
        Ernie Banks 35-37: 15, 23, 32
        Hank Aaron 35-37: 44, 38, 47
        Mike Schmidt 35-37: 33, 37, 35

        All those players either maintained, or gained HR as they aged in the 35-37 bracket. Also, you are cherry picking ages to suit your narrative (even when those stats are wrong). You have to tell us, and give us proof, why you are picking those ages. Players historically were supposed to break down in their early 30s. Late 20’s is supposed to be their prime. But that leads us into another discussion:

        Mays – 1967
        Aaron – 1970
        Schmidt – 1986
        Banks – 1967
        Thome – 2007

        Those are the dates each player was age 36 (splitting 35-37). Is it possible that medical advancements, in some cases 40 years later, have made it possible for players to age better? I doubt players in Mays’ time had 24/7/365 trainers, professional chefs cooking all their meals, supplements out the butt to make them healthier, stronger, more fit.

        Where are you getting your data, my friend? Ernie Banks hit 12 HRs at 39, not 37

        I f’d up. Damn lack of an edit function. At age 37, Ernie Banks hit 32 HR. Here’s his bref.com page

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/bankser01.shtml

        As far as the list of 104 goes, it’s out there. I’ve seen it. Do some googling; easy to find.

        Sorry, but it’s never been confirmed. Most of those reports are false actually because many left off players that had admitted to being on the list. Jason Grimsley is one.

      • nudeman - Aug 17, 2011 at 1:32 PM

        Church,
        I’m done on this subject. I think Thome juiced. You don’t.

        And you take facts, reshuffle the data, twist and contort to suit YOUR narrative.

        We’re getting nowhere. Say hello to your brother Jim (Thome) at your next family get together.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2011 at 1:53 PM

        And you take facts, reshuffle the data, twist and contort to suit YOUR narrative.

        Tell me what I’ve twisted. I’ll happily admit when I’m wrong. But you mentioned sluggers declined from 35-37. That’s not true.

        There are tons of circumstances involved that could explain the difference between players today and those of 40 years ago.

        But fine, believe he did steroids

      • edpeters101 - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:11 PM

        As above, but only the 5th clean player to do it. First round inductee, no doubt about it!

    • Jonny 5 - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:51 AM

      Two words. Harmon Killebrew.

      Go look up his lifetime #’s

  2. thefalcon123 - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    For f**k’s sake, the guy is 17th All-Time in OPS, ahead of Johnny Mize, Mel Ott, Ty Cobb, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Mike Schmidt, Ken Griffey Jr, ect. I think people get the impression that he was just a “compiler” because he was elite for so many years.

    Apparently, Jim’s hall of fame would have been improved if he had been worse at the beginning and end of his career. Instead, a quick glance and all the numbers just look the same, so he must just be a “compiler” who had an OPS over .900 13 times and an OPPS+ over 150 10 times.

  3. ralphdibny - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:38 AM

    Anyone writer who thinks Thome isn’t a HoFer either 1) refuses to vote for any Steroids-era slugger, or 2) holds it against Thome that he never “led” a team to a World Series victory. Both are stupid reasons, so writers have to go scurrying for any kind of “evidence” to cover their butts. Get ready to see a lot of circular logic in the next five years or so.

  4. paul621 - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:38 AM

    I don’t think that’s really circular reasoning… More like “we’ll, we didn’t think he was at the top of the heap back then, why should we now?” I wouldn’t put much stock in MVP voting either, but I would call it circular reasoning.

    • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:42 AM

      Because it defeats the entire point of a five-year waiting period to put a career in perspective. MVP voting is submitted the day after the season ends, which allows no time for perspective. It’s often as much about story as it is about who was actually the best player in the league. It’s about the fact that voters often parse the word “value” so that they DON’T vote for the best player in the league, then want to use that non-vote against somebody having ever been considered the best player in the league.

      • paul621 - Aug 17, 2011 at 12:54 PM

        Again, I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying it’s not circular.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:04 AM

      we’ll, we didn’t think he was at the top of the heap back then, why should we now

      It’s circular also because it lends legitimacy to the writers’ voting even if they are completely wrong. Look at the ’95 MVP voting*, Albert Belle and Mo Vaughn had essentially the same AB’s. Belle beats Vaughn in every single offensive statistic (tied RBI) save stolen bases. Triple Slash, HR, R, H, BB, you name it. Vaughn wins the MVP. WHAT?!?

      And the Indians destroyed the league that year. They finished in first by 30(!) games so we can’t use the Arod on the Rangers worst place idiocy like in ’02 (Tejada over Arod).

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:07 AM

        Sigh did it again

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/awards_1995.shtml#ALmvp

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:17 AM

        There was nothing “statistical” about Vaughn winning that MVP over Belle. It was simply that the writers couldn’t stand Albert Belle. Petty and stupid? Absolutely. But it wasn’t based on any stats other than hate…least IMHO.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:23 AM

        @Chris

        Oh I’m completely agree it’s because no one could stand Belle. But if it’s obvious that one player is better than the other, but you don’t award the better one the MVP, and then use that nonMVP win as a justification to not be in the HoF? Seems fishy to me.

      • catsmeat - Aug 17, 2011 at 12:43 PM

        Two things from the ’95 MVP voting:

        1) Mo Vaughn had 11 stolen bases.
        2) MO VAUGHN HAD 11 STOLEN BASES

  5. paul621 - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:39 AM

    That should say “wouldn’t,” obviously.

  6. Jonny 5 - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    Sherman is going for clicks. Or he’s lost his *&^%%ing mind. As pointed out above 20 + seasons with an OBP above .400 and an OPS of .961 is enough for me to say he’s a HOF candidate. Harmon Killebrew didn’t have his numbers and they played for about the same amount of time.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:12 AM

      Ugh, can’t believe I read the article, but my favorite (and worst) part is when he asked how we are supposed to compare these players to the era? If only we had statistics to show how these players did against their peers. God I can’t wait for that to happen, it’ll be so much easier for all of us.

      /sarcasm off

      • Jonny 5 - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:32 AM

        I know and it isn’t so hard to measure players like Thome against people already in the HOF like Killebrew. Baseball reference already does the legwork by matching similar players. Sherman has proven he is indeed a chipwich…

  7. titknocker - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:49 AM

    10,000 plate appearances and no where near 3,000 hits. And more strikeouts that hits. Not a Hall of Famer!!!!

    • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:57 AM

      But he got on base almost 4,000 times!!!!!

    • kopy - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:00 AM

      Thome drew a LOT of walks. This is why he has an over-.400 OBP in said number of PAs. Don’t blame Thome for not hitting balls that weren’t in the zone. Come on, now.

    • Utley's Hair - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:41 PM

      You know that plate appearances are not the same thing as at-bats, right?

  8. kander013 - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:52 AM

    This was in the Star Tribune about a month ago, but if you want to make your head explode, watch the video:

    http://www.startribune.com/sports/blogs/125800203.html

    Videos and people like Dan Graziano and Skip Bayless are the reasons why I can’t watch ESPN anymore. Too bad Skip can’t be sweet like his bro, Rick. Helluva chef.

  9. takemytalentstosoutheuclid - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    Think about it this way. If Bonds, McGuire, Sosa, ManRam, A-Rod, and all the other roid enhanced sluggers of the past 20 years or so had not been on the juice, would these writers be singing a different tune about Thome now? If the era had been clean, it is quite possible we could be looking at the best power hitter of the last 15 years or so, and a no brainer first ballot HOF’er. It sucks that all these cheating scumbags took that possibility away from the clean players, especially a nice guy like Thome.

  10. bozosforall - Aug 17, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    Meanwhile, Joe Carter continues to get a raw deal.

    Too bad he didn’t play in a major media market like HOVG cornerstone Jim Rice.

    • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:05 AM

      It was a joke that Jim Rice got into the Hall, but Joe Carter is no Jim Rice. Nice player. Never great.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:15 AM

      Wait, Joe Carter the one who played for Toronto and hit the walk off HR? Just curious why you think he should be in the HoF?

      9154 PA, .259/.306/.464/.771 for 105OPS+ 396 HR, 25.1 oWAR and 16.5 bWAR

  11. alfreddigs - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:03 AM

    If you look at the MVP results in the late 90s, you could make an argument that Indians players were frequently “penalized” in voting for having a number of equally or almost-equally deserving teammates, thus splitting the votes. There are quite a few years where you have 2 or 3 clustered in the top 10.

    I think Thome also always played 2nd or 3rd banana to some combination of Belle, Lofton, Ramirez, and Alomar, and wasn’t thought as the Indians’ dominant player until the team was no longer any good, which would help explain the 7th place finish in ’02.

    • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:15 AM

      Belle was certainly robbed in ’95, and in ’99 Manny and Alomar were two of four pretty strong contenders (depending on how well you rated Pudge’s defense).

      But since we’re talking of stolen MVPs, how does A-Rod not have, like, eight of them? Looking back, dude should have won it in ’96, ’98, ’00, and ’02, with legitimate arguments in ’01 and ’04. And it’s not like that cancels out any of the three he did win – none of those were flukes. It’s almost like a bizarro Jordan situation where they got bored of giving him the MVP even before he started winning MVPs.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:22 AM

        Some were the old way of thinking (not in first place can’t be most valuable), some like ’00 players had similar offensive years so I can’t blame them for Giambi over Arod (Arod used to be a good defensive SS, and no one was paying attention to defense in the media at that time).

  12. youngyankee - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    Jim’s VERY borderline but I would give Jim the nod over some of the other 1Bs from his era. While McGriff and Thome have similar resumes, 493 homeruns vs 600 homeruns is a BIG difference.

    Hall of Fame should be for players who have been clearly the best at their position for a generation, and/or have achieved a level of greatness recognized by all as extremely difficult and unlikely to replicate. This includes a reflection on their career as a whole as well as the careers of their peers (so MVP voting and championships do matter).

    Jim’s played during a generation where we’ve been blessed with a lot of GREAT 1Bs so that hurts his chances, but if you consider how many people are in the 600 club and how many are likely to reach that plateau, then Jim is definitely Hall of Fame worthy.

    • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:21 AM

      Hall of Fame should be for players who have been clearly the best at their position for a generation, and/or have achieved a level of greatness recognized by all as extremely difficult and unlikely to replicate.

      I’m curious as to when this was either an official or de facto standard for Hall inclusion. I’ll have to dig around a bit, but I think it was TPA that showed the Hall is actually more exclusive now than what it was in the past.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:36 AM

        Well, I take it back, they were talking about the percentage of baseball players in the All Star Game, but when we look at the lowest caliber of Hall of Famers, they’re almost unanimously pre-integration players or Veteran’s Committee idiocy. The BBWAA, for all the flack they’ve taken, generally haven’t been overly inclusive in who they vote in.

      • youngyankee - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:37 AM

        that’s my own standard for Hall of Fame considerations.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:41 AM

        Great! Now go use that when you vote for your Hall. The rest of us will discuss and debate based on actually existing precedent and criteria.

      • youngyankee - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:49 PM

        I was answering your question?

        “I’m curious as to when this was either an official or de facto standard for Hall inclusion”

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:55 PM

        And my point (dripping in sarcasm) was that a personal standard that doesn’t at all conform with the standards established is fairly meaningless when it comes to discussing Hall of Fame worthiness.

      • youngyankee - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:33 PM

        “that doesn’t at all conform with the standards established”

        what are the standards established then?

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 5:20 PM

        Generally speaking, it’s usually worked out to 65-70 WAR as being the typical caliber of player who gets inducted. Alternatively, it seems to have stabilized at roughly 2% of major leaguers making the Hall. If you want to compare across eras, you need to get stats that neutralize the environment. To do that, you need to compare to the league average at the time the player played.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 17, 2011 at 12:38 PM

      “Hall of Fame should be for players who have been clearly the best at their position for a generation,”

      This is simply absurd. If the list of the 10 players for a decade includes 8 First Basemen, then why shouldn’t all of those guys get in…no matter what position they played? Is there some special advantage that first basemen get when hitting that a third baseman doesn’t get? If you want to talk about value and use the WAR stat, then fine. I don’t agree but at least I understand what you are saying. However to punish a guy who may have been a top 10 player for a decade because there were 7 other players that decade at his position better is simply ludicrous.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 12:42 PM

        Exactly. You have to judge the player against the average (or the median, whatever) not the outlier. We don’t disqualify every first baseman who played this past decade simply because they aren’t Albert Pujols. Had A-Rod not been traded to the Yankees and stayed on shortstop, would voters have to make a decision between him and Jeter?

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 17, 2011 at 12:57 PM

        Kevin, you are indirectly making a case for WAR being overrated then, aren’t you? I mean, if voters even looked at WAR, they would be doing a disservice to the Hall voting because the 8th place 1st baseman has a smaller WAR than the 1st place SS, whose #’s may pale in comparison but, because he was a SS, he had a higher WAR. Right? Or maybe I just have no idea what WAR is and need some knowledge.

        Here’s my view of WAR…the best CF may have crappier #’s than the 8th best 1st baseman, but because he plays CF, he gets extra credit. Plus, because he is likely faster than said 1st baseman, he gets extra credit for baserunning too…even if the 1st baseman isn’t supposed to run or might not even be allowed to run at will like the CF is. So, while the 1st baseman may have an overwhelming statistical edge on that CF, his WAR isn’t much better, if even better at all, even though anyone who watched the games and looked at the #’s uses their common sense and sees that the 1st baseman, who is 8th among 1st basemen, is still a better player than the CF.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 1:25 PM

        Actually, no, because that’s not how WAR works. Without getting into the nitty-gritty math, WAR is the sum of four numbers – offensive runs, defensive runs, position runs, and replacement runs, divided by ten (it’s not exactly ten runs to a win, but that makes the math easier).

        Offensive runs are how many runs a player generates above the league average. The calculation is the same, regardless of position.

        Defense runs are however many runs saved above or below the positional average.

        Position runs give a player credit for playing a position, since playing premium positions is inherently more valuable than non-premium positions. Per 600 PA, the adjustments are C: +12.5 runs, SS: +7.5 runs, CF, 2B, 3B: +2.5 runs, LF, RF: -7.5 runs, 1B: -12.5 runs, DH, -17.5 runs.

        Replacement runs are the difference between a league-average player and a replacement player – since everything else is judged off the average, a player accrues replacement runs simply for playing (I think it’s something like 20 runs/600 PA).

        Now, let’s say for arguments sake that we have an average defensive first baseman who gets 600 PA and generates 92.5 offensive runs. His WAR is going to be (92.5 + 0 – 12.5 + 20)/10 = 10 WAR. He’s awesome. Let’s call him Palbert Ujols. Let’s say that we have an average defensive shortstop who gets 600 PA and generates 12.5 offensive runs. His WAR is going to be (12.5 + 0 + 7.5 +20)/10 = 4 WAR. Let’s call him H.H. Jardy. Now, H.H. is a pretty decent player, but he’s no Palbert Julos, and if he’s the best shortstop in the league, then there very well could be a number of first baseman who are better than him. In fact, any average defensive first baseman with more than 35 offensive runs will be a better player.

        WAR (rightly) gives a player credit for playing a premium defensive position, but being the best at a bad position doesn’t automatically mean it’s going to pop you out above the fifth-best guy at a strong position. It could allow an inferior *offensive* player to be rated higher, but I would hope that we can all acknowledge that position and defense do weigh in somewhat.

        Also, I would hope that those of you who dislike WAR do so because you have a problem with the calculation of the value, not the structure. That a player has offensive, defensive, positional and replacement values should be intuitive, even if you don’t like the way Fangraphs or Baseball-Reference calculates those values.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2011 at 1:33 PM

        You have a general idea of it Chris, but the only way they’d be close with all those factors is if the numbers in general are close. For instance, here’s fangraphs WAR calc:

        batting runs + base running + fielding + replacement + positional

        For positional, they seem to run the gamut of -9.4 to 5.3 or a 15 runs (1.5 WAR) swing (no idea why two players have different positional adjustments. For instance Votto gets -9.2, Fielder gets -9.4 and Teixeira gets -9.2. Anyone have ideas?).

        The big issue is fielding, and not going to bother with pre-fangraphs numbers because I rarely trust current ones, let alone back in WWII/WWI eras. Fielding causes a huge swing in fWAR. Take two players:

        Player A – .313/.368/.516 – 7.1 BB%, .204 ISO – .388 wOBA, 144 wRC
        Player B – .273/.367/.578 – 11.8BB%, .305 ISO – .404 wOBA, 156 wRC

        Both play the same position, and I think we can safely say that Player B is better right? Walks more, has more power. 40 pts of BA is like 1 hit a week.

        Now let’s through fielding into it and check out WAR:

        Player A – 6.3 WAR (2.3 baserunning)
        Player B – 5.3 WAR (4.9 baserunning)

        I added the baserunning in to show that Player B is a better hitter (wOBA and wRC), is a better baserunner (4.9 to 2.3) but is a full 1WAR behind why?

        Player A: 11.2 fielding
        Player B: -9.2 fielding

        MGL and Tom Tango constantly mention how you need at least 3 years of UZR to stabilize before making a judgement. Colin Wyers of Baseball Prospectus thinks even that’s not enough, and he is also very leery of all the defensive metrics.

        As you’ve alluded to previously, WAR is a tool. It’s not a definitive metric of who is better than who for each year (due to defense and other factors). Is it a good way to gauge players over their career? Probably.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 1:48 PM

        Church, it’s because the position adjustment is weighted by plate appearances.

        Oh, I love guessing anonymous stat lines! Is it Jacoby Ellsbury and Curtis Granderson?

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 17, 2011 at 1:59 PM

        OK, maybe I will like WAR by the end of this discussion…if one of you can tell me the following…

        How did Ryan Howard end up with a 5.8 WAR in 2006 with these #’s
        58 Home Runs, 149 RBIs, .313 BA, .425 OBP, .659 SLG, 1.084 OPS, 167 OPS+

        While Garrett Atkins ended up with a 6.4 WAR in 2006 with these #’s
        29 Home Runs, 120 RBIs, .329 BA, .409 OBP, .556 SLG, .965 OPS, 136 OPS+

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:00 PM

        Thanks Kevin, I wasn’t aware of that. And yes, it’s those two.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:11 PM

        You’re using B-Ref? Not exactly sure what their breakdowns are, but I’m guessing it’s a combination of defense and position (Atkins played third, Howard first). Using Fangraphs, Howard had 60.6 batting runs, -3.3 base running runs, -4.3 fielding runs, 23.5 replacement runs, and -12.1 position runs, totaling 64.2 Runs Above Replacement and 6.2 WAR. Atkins had 38.5 batting runs, 0.0 base running runs, -3.9 fielding runs, 23.2 replacement runs and 2.3 position runs, adding up to 60.1 RAR and 5.8 WAR. Howard was a little more than two wins better with the stick, but position and base running helped Atkins close most of the gap.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:13 PM

        bref has

        Howard:
        52 bat
        -4 baserunning
        2 fielding
        -10 positional
        18 replacement

        Atkins:
        37 bat
        0 baserunning
        12 fielding
        2 positional
        18 replacement

        So fielding + replacement value seems to be the culprit.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:14 PM

        And looking now, B-Ref does have the breakdown under Player Value on the player pages. Same story – Howard had more batting runs, 52 – 37, but Atkins made up the gap in other categories.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:14 PM

        Church, you meant fielding + positional value, right?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:22 PM

        Yes, I’m an idiot. I really wish there were an edit function.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:26 PM

        So how is it not seriously subjective to take away a full 10 points because of his position? I mean, look at it this way…if you were going to, in a vacuum, take Howard or Atkins into the hall of fame based on just this one season, you’d have a case for taking Atkins over Howard because of the WAR…even though the #’s are so clearly in Howard’s favor.

        Howard:
        52 bat
        -4 baserunning
        2 fielding ( again a 10 point difference? Why??)
        -10 positional (why the -10 just for being a first baseman???)
        18 replacement

        Atkins:
        37 bat
        0 baserunning
        12 fielding (he made 19 errors that year!!! How does he get 12 for fielding???)
        2 positional
        18 replacement

        It all just doesnt make sense…atkins basically gets 2 full points in the WAR over Howard because of the difference in position. Even though Atkins made 19 freaking errors that year, which tied for 7th highest in all of baseball at 3rd base.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:33 PM

        Well I can’t tell you exactly why the fielding numbers are as they are (does bref use DRS or TZL?), but errors aren’t a good measurement of fielding acumen. Players with great range get to far more balls than those with terrible range (Tulo vs Jeter for instance).

        And I know we’ve had this discussion before, but don’t use one year WAR values as a definitely determination on who is better than who. You’ve pointed out all the possibilities as to why (although positional adjustment isn’t necessarily “subjective”).

      • Alex K - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:36 PM

        Chris, Assuming you mixed up the WAR on those two player the reason Howard was 6.2 for 2006 was -4.3 fielding and -3.3 baserunning. Atkins showed -3.9 fielding and 0 baserunning.

        That basically means Atkins played a tougher defensive position (3B) better than Howard played 1B, and he was a better baserunner.

        Using only hitting it was:

        Howard- 162 wRC+ .436 wOBA
        Atkins- 138 wRC+ .410 wOBA

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:43 PM

        Rally WAR (which B-Ref uses) includes Rally’s defensive metric, Total Zone.

        Chris, regarding positional adjustments, a ton of research was put into what their values should be. Tom Tango goes into it in a great amount of detail in The Book. Unfortunately, my copy of The Book is up in New Jersey while I’m down in Atlanta, or I’d excerpt some of it for you. Basically, the idea is that because certain positions are harder to play (and thus harder to find competent fielders for), players at those positions should get credit simply for playing them. The easier positions get a negative number because the components of WAR (except replacement runs) all go above and below an average of zero runs. The baseline could have been set so that first basemen got 0 (as opposed to -12.5), but that would just increase the adjustments for everybody else, making the WAR calculations harder.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:47 PM

        Alex, I am using the b-ref #’s and they confuse me so I am not sure what your numbers mean. However, if this is true…

        Howard had -3.3 baserunning. Atkins had 0 baserunning.

        Why? Because Howard had ZERO steals and Atkins was 4 for 4?

        Also, I would think that double the home runs would mean something more than an oWAR difference of 5.6 for Howard and 5.2 for Atkins. Both men hit 50% of their home runs at home, so it wasn’t like Howard had this huge % of his shots in the bandbox. And Howard’s OPS and OPS+ were WAY higher than Atkins.

        It just seems like way too much penalty for position and base-running for a guy who isn’t expected to, or allowed to, steal bases.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:54 PM

        Base running runs also measure how often a player takes an extra base and how often he makes outs on the basepaths. Regardless, three runs isn’t a particularly big difference.

        Given the difference in their triple-slash stats, I’d tend to agree with Fangraphs on this one, giving Howard the twenty-two run advantage instead of the fifteen run advantage. But then again, I tend to like fWAR a little better anyway. Besides, it’s not like Atkins didn’t have a freaking awesome season in and of his own right, and he was a lot closer to Howard in OBP than in slugging, so Rally’s algorithm isn’t going to see as much of a difference as OPS/OPS+ might suggest.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:02 PM

        Here Chris, read this: http://www.fangraphs.com/library/index.php/misc/war/positional-adjustment/

        It’s a short entry on the intuition of positional adjustments and how they’re calculated (without going into the hardcore math).

      • youngyankee - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:45 PM

        Chris,

        I’m not saying that the Hall elects 1 per position or anything like that, but they most definitely take position into consideration because voters can only vote for 10 players. Your example, 10 players for a decade includes 8 1Bs. Let’s say the 11th best player of the decade is a 3B and he’s the best. Guarantee you some voters will be inclined to vote maybe 7 1Bs and include the 3B.

        Maybe I’m too old-school but if you even have to even use WAR to get an idea of hall of fame worthiness, then the player is not hall of fame worthy, considering the “replacement” is an average joe schmoe baseball player (i think right?)

        Like for example, Pujols, Bagwell, Thomas are sure-in’s enter the Hall. 1st basemen playing in those times should rightfully be judged against these guys as well as the 1st basemen already enshrined. To say “well player X wasn’t as great as Pujols but Pujols is an outlier so we’ll let player X in” is ABSURD. Maybe if i’m putting together a baseball team that’ll work but for the Hall of Fame, no way.

        Which is why McGriff, Helton are borderline/not deserving. They’re REALLY good players, but Hall of Fame great? I don’t know about that.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:53 PM

        Replacement-level is a construct, set to be roughly 80% as good as league-average. The reason you compare to the league average is that it’s far more robust than just the single best player. Obviously you recognize that we need context provided by the era, otherwise the stats would be the stats, regardless of whether somebody played in the late-sixties or the mid-nineties. Comparing how a player did against the entire league tells you much more about that player than comparing how he did against the best player of that time.

      • youngyankee - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:21 PM

        Replacement-level is a construct, set to be roughly 80% as good as league-average. The reason you compare to the league average is that it’s far more robust than just the single best player. Obviously you recognize that we need context provided by the era, otherwise the stats would be the stats, regardless of whether somebody played in the late-sixties or the mid-nineties. Comparing how a player did against the entire league tells you much more about that player than comparing how he did against the best player of that time.

        Ah thanks for that Kevin.

        I guess my overall point is that the methods to gauge a baseball player’s ability and “value” and gauging a players Hall of Fame worthiness should not be the same.

        You can get away with throwing in WAR when we argue about Ryan Howard’s value or if you want to put together a baseball team. But it is ABSURD to bring that into HoF arguments because that stat tells you how the player is compared to 80% of the league average.

        HoF potential candidates should be compared to the the very best in the league over their career as well as players already in the Hall.

        So Ryan Howard’s value can be argued by using WAR and comparing him to the median or average. But Ryan Howard’s HoF case HAS to be compared to Pujols, Bagwell, Thomas, Dimaggio, Killebrew, Murray.

        With that being said, Thome has reached a milestone where only 4 other players EVER reached. Thome rightfully belongs with those 4 in the Hall and I don’t need to whip out my calculator and crunch numbers to know that.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:35 PM

        Why is that absurd? Replacement level is just the baseline we set for player valuation. Something has to be zero.

        Generally speaking, 65-70 career WAR seems to have been the HOF standard. Obviously voters haven’t been using that explicitly, since it hasn’t been around since the 30s, but that’s basically how it’s worked out. If nobody from a particular era separated himself from the crowd enough to meet that standard, nobody should get voted in. If ten players at the same position were to meet the standard, they should all get voted in. It was that “best of his era” claptrap that let a clearly-unworthy Jim Rice into the Hall.

      • youngyankee - Aug 17, 2011 at 6:33 PM

        Again, I’m not saying that the hall elects 1 player per position or anythin like that, but position does play a role in votes.

        Chris brought up a hypothetical situation of 8 hall of famers out of 10 who are first basemen and play in the same generation. Obviously chris picked a situation that emphatically disproves my “standard” no matter how unrealistic it is. if there were 8 hof 1bs then the 8 have to separate themselves even further from each other and the rest of eligible players because now the standard, whatever it is, has risen.

        only 21 first basemen have been inducted in like 100 years, there have been a lotttt of great 1bs who haven’t made it because of guys named Gehrig and Murray, as well as guys named Aaron mays, but you’re grouped first by position.

        if someone asked you for the top 10 best players right now, how would you go about it? just look at top 10 WAR? or would you start separating players from each other like:

        -top 1st b- 1. Pujols 2. cabrera 3. gonzo and then they start looking the same Tex, votto, prince, etc
        ss

        you’re using WAR as a standard to a certain extent since it’s a good gauge of player ability and it rightfully credits a player for defense, baserunning, etc.

      • youngyankee - Aug 17, 2011 at 7:05 PM

        damn iphone. definitely need an edit func

        you’re using WAR as a standard to a certain extent since it’s a good gauge of player ability and it rightfully credits a player for defense, baserunning, etc.

        but then Kevin Brown would pretty much be in and im not sure he deserves it. he simply didnt separate himself enough from the maddux, glavine, smoltz’s

  13. mikedi33 - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    For 140 years hr’s and rbis were meaningful stats. Now there seems to be a campaign to cheapen them. Yes steriods plays a part in this. however I dont understand how a real baseball fan could challenge a clean player who hit 600 HR and not consider it HOF worthy or those that consider Ryan Howard’s 40HR 140 RBI seasons just a product of men on base.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:43 AM

      those that consider Ryan Howard’s 40HR 140 RBI seasons just a product of men on base.

      Please don’t do this. No one is saying his achievements are solely products of having people on base. If they are, they are just as idiotic as only using HR and RBI to discuss a players value.

      • FC - Aug 17, 2011 at 12:12 PM

        To be fair it’s only the RBI that garner that discussion, HRs are HRs regardless of men on base, but that’s neither here nor there.

    • ThatGuy - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:55 AM

      Well I would consider the 100 RBI’s of Howard’s 140 to be the product of having men on base.

    • Alex K - Aug 17, 2011 at 12:00 PM

      Nobody wants to cheapen home runs.

      RBI, on the other hand, have a lot to do with lineup position and the skill of the guys on your team. They are not meaningful.

  14. Amadeus - Aug 17, 2011 at 12:18 PM

    Never made an impact and couldn’t stick with one team for long. Stats alone do not qualify one for the Hall or Canseco and many others would get in.

    • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 12:34 PM

      Rickey Henderson couldn’t stick with one team for long either, what’s your point? Also, Thome never made an impact only if you don’t think being ridonkulously good at things that help teams score runs, like getting on base and hitting for power, help a player make an impact.

    • Utley's Hair - Aug 17, 2011 at 5:58 PM

      So, the 11 years (plus three in the minor-league system) isn’t a long time? Wow. And the only reason he left Philly so soon was because he was traded to the ChiSox. And I believe he was drummed out of Chicagoas a free agent by Ozzie and his DH platooning system, wasn’t he? I’m sorry, what was your point, Maestro?

      • Kevin S. - Aug 18, 2011 at 9:07 AM

        Yeah, Ozzie decided he’d rather go with Mark Kotsay, Juan Pierre and Brent Lillibridge as his DHs that year. I was dying.

  15. bamabob - Aug 17, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    600 is a HUGE number for sure and worthy of consideration. For me it’s not about MVP, OBP, etc. etc. I would have to look at his numbers as a DH vs. a field player. And I don’t know what they are but I am pretty confident that without the DH he would’ve been out of the league a few years ago. Which could’ve made him Dave Kingman.

    Probably a HOFer but maybe not on the first few ballots.

    • purnellmeagrejr - Aug 17, 2011 at 1:29 PM

      He’s in – didn’t have to read the article.

    • purnellmeagrejr - Aug 17, 2011 at 1:30 PM

      The only thing Jim THome has in common with Dave Kingman is that he’s left handed and Kingman was right handed.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 1:54 PM

        Seriously, can we get a moratorium on using the Dave Kingman comp to disparage sluggers? Kingman rocked a .236/.302/.478 career line. Most of the guys we talk about smoke that.

  16. craig7406 - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:35 PM

    The “Thome only made 5 All Star teams” argument really bugs me. Not only is it circular, as Craig pointed out, but it also says more about the All Star selection process than it does about how good Thome was in comparison to his peers. Thome was constantly screwed by the “every team needs an All-Star” rule, especially when he was playing 3B for those stacked Indians teams, and by some slow starts in the cold Cleveland weather (for those who think “All Star” means who has the flukiest first-half stats).

    Compare Thome’s final stats to those of the actual All Stars in years he didn’t make the squad. In 1994, Thome hit 268/359/523, with 20 HRs and a 126 OPS+. Boggs deservedly was the starter, but Travis Fryman (263/326/474, OPS+103) and Scott Cooper (282/333/453, OPS+ 97) were the reserves. In 1995, Thome hit 314/438/558 with a 157 OPS+. Boggs (119 OPS+) started and Kevin Seitzer (OPS+109) was the reserve. In 1996, Thome had a historic season for a 3B: 311/450/612 with 38 HR, 167 OPS+, and over 100 walks, RBI and runs. Boggs (98 OPS+) and Fryman (92 OPS+) got the call.

    In 2001, Thome hit 291/416/624 with 49 HR and a 170 OPS+. He wasn’t an All Star. But Tony Clark (287/374/481; 131 OPS+) and Mike Sweeney (304/374/542, OPS+ 132) were. In 2002, he probably had his best year: 304/445/677, 52 HR and 197 OPS+. He didn’t make the team, but Paul Konerko (304/359/498, 123 OPS+) did.

    Granted Thome never was much with the glove or on the basepaths, but right or wrong that typically hasn’t come into play when people consider corner infielders for All Star games or post-season awards (and some of those picked over him were no great shakes either). He easily could have been a 9 or 10-time All Star, and then people wouldn’t use that criteria to discount what a truly devastating hitter he has been throughout his career.

  17. spudchukar - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    Fior, please explain to me these two posts. “ANY PLAYER who amasses 10,000 PA and gets on base at a 40% clip is a hall of famer”, and only 30 minutes later in the discussion of Lance Berkman, “I don’t think he is a hall of famer either, even if he gets to 10,000 PA and keeps his OBP above .400″. What? That is what I cherish about you, consistency of thought.

  18. spudchukar - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:41 PM

    If Thome is a HOF candidate, so is Omar Vizquel. He ranks 4th all-time in hits by a SS, with 2836. He has 11 Gold Gloves. He ranks 9th in SB by a SS, and 7th in doubles. And he has surpassed the 10,000 PA mark.

    • Kevin S. - Aug 17, 2011 at 5:17 PM

      He also ranks third among SS in CS. 71% is not a good success rate – he gave runs back on the basepaths. His on-base percentage is terrible, especially playing his entire career in a high-offense environment. In fact, his career wRC+ of 85 is 12th of 13 shortstops with 10,000 PA, 36th of 43 SS with 8,000 PA. He’s basically tied with Rabbit Maranville, widely considered one of the worst selections ever. Omar Vizquel does not belong in the Hall of Fame.

      • spudchukar - Aug 17, 2011 at 11:17 PM

        If you choose to disparage his offensive numbers we can have a conversation. However, since Ozzie Smith, and I know a little about his skills, no one has come close to his defensive skills. Once again HOF membership is more about the illustrious than the deserving.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 18, 2011 at 9:26 AM

        People making the Ozzie Smith comparison forget a couple things:

        A) Omar Vizquel was not Ozzie’s peer with a glove. The Wizard was arguably the best defensive player to set foot on a major league field. I’m not sure why you’d want to diminish him by putting Vizquel in that class. I know Total Zone isn’t great for historical data, but it has a pretty massive gap between the two. Ozzie saved 239 runs in 21785.2 defensive innings at short, good for nearly 11 runs/1000 defensive innings. Omar saved 137 (or 133, slight discrepancy between Fangraphs and B-R) in 22886.2 innings at short, or a little under 6/1000. That’s a pretty huge gap.

        B) Omar Vizquel was not Ozzie’s peer with a bat. The numbers superficially look similar, as the former put up a .272/.337/.353 line, while the latter was only .262/.337/.328 for his career. But Ozzie played in a much worse run environment, not getting the advantages of smaller ballparks, a diluted pitching pool and juiced balls that Omar got. That’s why Ozzie had a career OPS+ of 87 to Omar’s 82.

        C) Omar Vizquel was not Ozzie’s peer on the basepaths. Smith stole 179 more bases while getting caught 17 fewer times. That’s why (along with his OBP being above the league average instead of below it) Ozzie’s wRC+ advantage is even more significant than his OPS+ advantage, 94 to 85.

        D) The WAR graphs I’m linking to should play this out. Even if you don’t think Ozzie has a ten-win advantage over Omar from defense, Vizquel still just isn’t in his league. http://www.fangraphs.com/graphsw.aspx?playerid2=1012186&playerid3=411&playerid4=&playerid5=

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