Friday, November 30, 2012

HOF Game in the Steroid Era, Rationale and Personal Preference

That's what it's going to come down to, after all, as the baseball writers make their first really difficult votes for the players of the steroid era.  Rationale, and individual rationale, at that, and personal preference.  Do they think of steroids in this era as just part of the game, one that the bosses of baseball turned their back to when they could have stopped it, so they'll turn their back to it now, hold their noses, and vote for anyone?  Do they say, no way, we won't ever vote for anyone who cheated the game like that, and if there's a whiff of probably to a player, they'll never get their vote?  Do they take a hybrid approach, trying to discern whether a player would have gotten in had they not taken a PED in their professional life?  It will come down to some rationale on their part, and it won't be pretty or logical all of the time, and it will come down to personal preference.

And where do we stand, as if anybody really wants to know?  We're in the third category, pending other information, with a penalty of exclusion for a period of time.  What time is that?  Definitely not voting for a PED rumoured player in their first year of eligibility, maybe not their second, third, or fourth.  Definitely not voting for a PED rumoured player when other players who are worthy sit on the ballot that we think should go in first.  But, I get the feeling, we'll eventually, if we had a vote, vote for them if we think they would have gotten in otherwise.  And we'll take it on a year to year basis.  Is any of that logical, or rational?  Probably not, but it is personal preference.

So let's take a look at this year.  First off, let's knock out the players who don't deserve grand consideration and focus on those who may or may not deserve it.

First Timers: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Curt Schilling, Craig Biggio, and Mike Piazza.  For us, these are the only players in this group deserving of discussion.

Holdovers: Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell, Mark McGwire.

And we'll start from the bottom and work our way up.  And give our criteria right up front.  If a player would be in the Top Half of the Hall of Fame at their position, we will vote for them, at a maximum of three per year.  Why, three?  Well, we think this is an exclusive club and would have made it more exclusive in the past.  We think every year two players is a good number to enshrine, but are okay with three, and think, no matter what, at least one player should be voted in.  Okay, once again, personal preference and justification.

Mark McGwire - PED allegations and we believe a career that would not have been Hall worthy had he not taken them.  Not getting our vote, and that's our position every year.

Jeff Bagwell - Okay, popeye arms, but not really embroiled in the controversy.  We're going to say his numbers deserve inclusion.  He's ranked #39 in PEVA in history among all position players and is above the 275 PEVA number of which every player above it, who is eligible, is in the Hall already.  We're voting YES.

Jack Morris - His ERA is just too high for us and doesn't have the automatic inclusion number of 300 wins.  Very good pitcher, but just below Hall caliber to us.  We vote NO.

Mike Piazza - In the Career Position Player PEVA ratings for the regular season, he is the second rated catcher in history, only behind Johnny Bench.  We vote YES.

Craig Biggio - He has one of those automatic inclusion number that still ring true, 3,000 hits, but we don't like voting in too many players all at once, and this year (yes, we're voting for someone else), we vote NO.  But will be voting for him in another year and think he deserves inclusion.

Curt Schilling - It's doubtful Schilling gets into the Hall of Fame in his first year and there's logic to that opinion, plus a bit of dislike by some from a personal standpoint.  Plus his win total is not too impressive.  But Schilling dominated games at his prime and pitched great in the postseason.  And overall, he's #20 in the Best Pitcher PEVA Rankings,  We vote YES.

Sammy Sosa - No way, Jose.  We don't think, without steroids, that Sosa would have the numbers for inclusion.  Same reason as McGwire.  We vote NO, and do so every year.

Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.  These are two players who we do believe benefited from PED use, but even without them, would have the numbers to make the Hall of Fame.  Clemens is rated as the #3 pitcher in history and Bonds as the #2 batter.  Diminish their numbers and they're still probably in the Top 40.  We think they deserve inclusion eventually, unless some other allegations and proof pops up, but are voting NO this year.

So to recap our rationale and personal preference.

Our Ballot This Year
YES - Bagwell, Schilling, and Piazza.

For more on the rankings and ratings of Stat Geek Baseball and baseballevaluation.com, buy our Stat Geek Baseball, the Best Ever Book, now updated through the 2012 season, although it is possible that Amazon still has a couple copies of the old version laying around.  Now available in a Kindle ($3.99) edition at Amazon.com and Paperback edition at Amazon and other retailers.  Stat Geek Baseball, the Best Ever Book 2012 has been ranked in the Top 10 of all baseball stat books since its first week of publication, currently ranked #1.

For more info: http://baseballevaluation.com/besteverbook.html

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