I have spent a great deal of time using metrics like Wins Above Replacement (WAR), Wins Above Excellence (WAE), Wins Above MVP (WAM), and Peak-Weighted WAR (wWAR) to debate countless Hall of Fame cases. There's one question I have a tough time finding an answer for: exactly how good does a player have to be in order to be a Hall of Famer? This is a tricky question because with just about any player you consider, there are already players in the Hall of Fame worse than he is. So, where's the cutoff?
I started using the Hall of Fame median as the cutoff. I figured as long as a player increases the average value of a Hall of Famer, he must belong, right? Still, this didn't sit right. Those questionable Hall of Famers were still sitting there, reminding me of how messed up the Hall of Fame is. I needed to do someting a bit more drastic.
So I kicked everyone out of the Hall of Fame and started from scratch.
"Why even bother voting for the Hall of Fame?" they ask us WAR geeks. "Why don't you just pick a cutoff and everyone above the line is a Hall of Famer?"
Hey, that's not a bad idea. However, I don't want to use "plain old" WAR. We all know that peak performance is a big part of Hall of Fame candidacy. So, let's use the peak-adjusted version: wWAR. We're going to use wWAR to answer the question:
What would the Hall of Fame look like if it was populated exclusively by stats?
That's what I'm going to tell you over the course of this week. There are 143 position players and 63 pitchers currently in the Hall of Fame. When I re-populate the Hall—The Hall of wWAR—I'll try to stick to that ratio, as well. I want things to be as similar as possible to the current Hall of Fame with a few exceptions:
- Players will be populated by an objective metric (wWAR), not by a subjective vote.
- I'm going to ignore PEDs. Because we just don't know how to handle it.
- I'm going to ignore lifetime bans. I'm opening up this Hall to Pete Rose, Shoeless Joe, and any other banned players.
- I'm going to adjust for position. The current Hall has an embarrassingly low number of third baseman (ten!) and very few catchers (13) while rewarding positions like right field (24), left field (20), and first base (20). While I'm not going to ensure every position is represented by the exact same number of players, I will make an effort to fill any gaps.
- I'm going to adjust (slightly) for era. Specifically, pre-1900 pitchers (they were used so much that they accumulated mammoth WAM totals) and hitters (the shorter schedules limited the WAR total they could achieve) need to be adjusted.
- I can't include Negro League players. This all relies on WAR, and there is no WAR for Negro League players. Trust me, I wish there was. Maybe it can be calculated from MLEs. If so, somebody please do it. I'm no mathematician. I would love to include guys like Josh Gibson but I am just completely unable to since this is a 99% objective process by wWAR and I simply have no way of generating wWAR for them.
I have to admit—building the Hall of wWAR is the most fun I've ever had on a baseball project. Stay tuned for the "induction" posts throughout the week. I'll be doing 2-3 per day, so watch for them to start dropping this afternoon.