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Ray Schalk in Cooperstown

Before I get into today's post, I'd like to link you up to Baseball Digest Daily so you can check out the first edition of The Baseball Herald, BDD's new online monthly magazine. I have a few articles in there you may have read already, as well as something new, so check it out if you'd like. You can download it in PDF format from the main page.

I was browsing around Baseball Almanac, looking up Hall of Fame catchers (baseball diehards lead sad lives), when I came across the name Ray Schalk.  I had a rudimentary knowledge of Schalk's career, but was surprised to see he was a HOFer, particularly when I saw his stat line (.253/.340/.316).  I am not going to go so far as to calculate secavg, WARP3, etc for him, and I do acknowledge he played part of his career during the Dead Ball Era, but the Dead Ball Era limited power, not average.  It seems to me that he got into the Hall mostly through defense, speed, and the fact that the Veterans Committee (which elected him in 1955) had fond memories of Schalk.  Most of the other catchers seem deserving, but I wanted to know what you guys though about him being in the Hall?

What do I think of Ray Schalk's inclusion in the Hall of Fame? Let's take a look using a table:

Schalk is second to last in Career WARP3, second to last in JAWS, and last in Peak WARP. His FRAA is very good, at +97 for his career, but that is not the sort of thing that should get you into the
Hall of Fame by itself. Granted, he was a Veteran's Committee mistake in the middle of the century (and there were plenty of those). You know what is good about having Ray Schalk in the Hall of Fame though? Thanks to his career averages and values being so low, it helps negate the massive totals of players like Johnny Bench, and keeps the requirements for making the Hall of Fame go down slightly. Some would say this makes it too easy to get into the Hall, but that is not true. Let's think about it intelligently for a second; if Johnny Bench and Gary Carter are where you draw the line, you'll end up with a handful (or less) of players at each position.

People seem to think adding players like Frank Thomas, Will Clark, Jeff Bagwell, Bert Blyleven, and Ryne Sandberg will dilute the talent in the Hall of Fame and make it easier to get in for the future. In all honesty we can blame history rather than the future for letting players like Ray Schalk in, as well as others like Johnny Evers (68.0 Career WARP3) and George Kelly (50.6 Career WARP3). People also say using JAWS as a method to determine worth will dilute the talent pool further in the Hall, but how is that so? It relies on a number system that you have to match up with, and if your numbers are not at the point where your inclusion would help bring up the average that has been brought down by major gaffes in the past then you shouldn't be in. Everyone I advocate for the Hall here has numbers that would improve the value of the average Hall of Famer. It just amazes me when some people don't think Jeff Bagwell and others are first ballot Hall of Famers when they have JAWS scores or Peak WARP scores that are larger than many Cooperstown inductees entire career value. For example, Jeff Bagwell has a Peak WARP of 52.9, higher than George Kelly's career value. He also has a JAWS score of 89.2, which is higher than all but 6 of the catchers entire career value listed above. I understand it is a different position. Here's something else; his Career WARP3 is 125.5, directly behind demi-god Johnny Bench as you can see above. The fact that some people have said and continue to say that Bagwell isn't deserving of first ballot inclusion because he doesn't have 500 homeruns or 3,000 hits makes me want to slam my head against a wall. If his value is higher without reaching those plateaus, then who cares? That shows you how meaningless this milestone stuff is sometimes. I didn't mean to get off on a rant here, but I needed an excuse to address some concerns I had.

I'll be back tomorrow or later today with updated versions of the NRAA statistic. James Click was gracious enough to lend me some of his thoughts and time, which I appreciate.