Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Baseball Post

Time for a little Hall of Fame blogging...

The returning candidates from last year's ballot are Dawson, Blyleven, Smith, Morris, John, Raines, McGwire, Trammell, Parker, Mattingly, Murphy, and Baines.

All good ballplayers, but I consider Smith, Morris, Parker, Mattingly, and Baines pretty weak HOF candidates. I liked Lee Smith a lot, but he really doesn't stand out from the crowd of closers at all; his peak just wasn't strong enough. I think a relief pitcher has to have both a great peak and longevity to really deserve it, which (for me) leaves Smith out on the one hand, and Quiz and Sutter out on the other hand. The writers, of course, didn't agree with me about Sutter. On Dave Parker -- I do hold it against him that he basically dropped out for a couple of years in the middle of his career, most likely dragging his team with him. I don't hold drugs against Raines or Molitor, but Parker apparently let it hurt him on the field -- and as the star of a team with a lot of problems, I think he deserves a ding for what happened in that clubhouse (again, because it hurt them on the field, not because they were immoral or lawbreakers, none of which I care about very much in this context).

Blyleven, McGwire, and Raines are obvious, solid HOFers to me.

That leaves four guys on the fence: Trammell, Dawson, John, and Murphy.

Through his age 32 season in 1990, Trammell looked like a lock for the HOF; unfortunately, he only reached 400 PAs twice after that, never reaching 500 PAs in a season again, while Ripken and Ozzie Smith were still going strong. That hurts. Only two of his most-similars on baseball-reference are HOFers (plus newly eligible Barry Larkin), and neither of those -- Reese and Sandberg -- is that big a deal. Getting a bit more careful...Clay Davenport's numbers attribute between 75 and 80 wins over replacement level to Trammell. That's a lot worse than Ripken and Smith, about 10 wins worse than Larkin, but better than Reese and much better than Rizzuto. Scooter was a mistake, but Reese is a comfortable lower-tier HOFer. I'm a Big HOF guy, so I'd vote for Trammell.

Murphy also collapsed; Dawson played on. Murph was better at his peak, but did almost nothing after it; Dawson was a useful, but not great, player after his peak. Dawson played 450 more games, or three full seasons, but Dawson played just over 1000 games in CF, same as Murphy. Murphy had a slightly higher career OPS+ (121 vs. 119). Clay has Dawson at ~60 wins over replacement, Murphy ~45. I don't gut feeling is that I'd rather have Murphy come up with my team than Dawson, and that three extra seasons of being a decent CO OF isn't a big deal, but then again it would have been a big deal if my team signed Murphy as a full price FA after his age 31 season. Close call on both, but I think I'd vote against both.

I think Tommy John is pretty underrated. 700 GS, 4700 IP with a 110 ERA+? Yes, please. He's obviously not in the class of Seaver or Clemens, or even Blyleven, but that's a pretty good pitcher. OTOH, there's not much of a peak there -- he only made the top ten in ERA+ in his league six times for his career, top five twice. Add another third of a year (13 GS, 88 IP) of stellar postseason work, though. He's not an easy vote, but I think Tommy John is a HOFer, even without any bonus for the operation.

So, if I had a ballot, among the returning candidates I'd be voting for McGwire, Blyleven, Raines, Trammell, and John.

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