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More on Wins Above MVP Level (and the Upcoming Hall Ballot)

In light of yesterday's post on Wins Above MVP Level, I decided to take a look at the guys coming back to the Hall of Fame ballot to see who stands out as having the ability to produce a dominant season.

Player Career WAR WAMVP 6+ WAR Yrs Vote PCT
Bert Blyleven 90.1 4.9 4 74.2
Roberto Alomar 63.6 4.2 4 73.7
Dale Murphy 44.4 4.1 4 11.7
Alan Trammell 66.8 3.8 4 22.4
Dave Parker 37.9 2.7 3 15.2
Mark McGwire 63.1 2.5 3 23.7
Edgar Martinez 67.2 2.3 4 36.2
Tim Raines 64.9 2.3 3 30.4
Barry Larkin 68.8 1.6 2 51.6
Don Mattingly 39.8 1.6 3 16.1
Fred McGriff 50.5 0.7 2 21.5
Jack Morris 39.3 0.0 0 52.3
Harold Baines 37.0 0.0 0 6.1
Lee Smith 30.3 0.0 0 47.3

WAMVP is all single-season WAR the player recorded above 6.0. 6+ WAR Yrs is the number of seasons the player produced 6.0 WAR or above. Vote PCT is last year's Hall of Fame voting percentage.

I see four players who stand out (a bit) above the rest. First is Bert Blyleven. Yet another reason this guy should be inducted. Second is Alomar. Alomar, like Blyleven, never won an MVP award. He did, however, finish in the Top 6 in voting six times. Dale Murphy won back-to-back MVPs and comes in third. His decline was so sharp and so quick that it's hard to believe he didn't post a higher career WAR. Trammell's strong defense helped him to four 6+ seasons. Alan Trammell will basically rate well in any metric you try to use.

Running down the list, Parker is one of the guys that was capable of so much but simply didn't put it together long enough. McGwire got killed by his positional adjustment and his brutal range (in 1998, he only had 7.2 WAR partly because of a total zone of -16). Still, his offense puts him at Hall of Fame level. Martinez, Raines, and Larkin were all remarkably consistent players who weren't flashy. They just consistently put up good seasons. Edgar, for example, had another five seasons between 5 and 6 WAR. Raines tailed off in the second half of his career but had a very productive 13-year stretch. Larkin actually has an MVP, but he won it for a sub-6.0 season (5.9 in 1995). He had a remarkable 12-year run of quality as well.

Mattingly exceeded 6.0 WAR three seasons in a row, then didn't approach it ever again. McGriff passed it a couple times early on as well, but he lasted a lot longer in the league. Pitchers generally record lower WAR than hitters (don't tell that to Blyleven), and Jack Morris never reached 6.0. Harold Baines never even reached 4.0 wins in a season. He has a career curve like no other. It's pretty much a straight line. As hard as it is for pitchers to reach 6.0 WAR, it's downright impossible for a reliever to. Lee Smith didn't come close.

Let's tally some of the key guys coming to the Hall of Fame ballot this year:

Player Career WAR WAMVP 6+ WAR Yrs
Jeff Bagwell 79.9 9.7 5
Kevin Brown 64.8 4.8 5
Larry Walker 67.1 4.4 2
John Olerud 56.6 4.3 2
Rafael Palmeiro 65.7 1.6 3
Juan Gonzalez 33.5 0.7 1
John Franco 25.8 0.0 0

Holy Bagwell, huh? Bags won an MVP in 1994 with 8.9 WAR. That's one of three times he cleared 8 WAR. Brown looks very good in terms of WAMVP. He rates right there with Blyleven. His career value is also much higher than you'd think. He ranked 34th all time. Larry Walker and John Olerud both had two exceptional seasons that gave them nice WAMVP marks. Rafael Palmeiro reached 6.0 WAR three times, but only exceeded it by 1.6. Juan Gonzalez, owner of two MVPs, didn't win one during the only season he reached 6.0 WAR (1993). His combined WAR of his two MVP seasons was 7.9. Franco, like Smith, never came close to 6.0 WAR.

Now let's look at some recently inducted players:

Player Career WAR WAMVP 6+ WAR Yrs
Rickey Henderson 113.1 15.1 8
Cal Ripken 89.8 11.2 7
Andre Dawson 56.8 3.4 4
Tony Gwynn 68.5 3.1 3
Jim Rice 41.5 1.0 1
Rich Gossage 40.0 1.0 1

Wow, look at Rickey and Ripken go. Rickey was celebrated at his induction as one of the greatest players ever, and with due cause. is 15.1 WAMVP is impressive, even considering he never won an MVP. Rickey's career WAR ranks 14th all time, which is just awesome. I, among many others, have been guilty of underrating Ripken a bit. His offense is good, no doubt. But as good as it was, his defense was worth even more—it pushes him all the way to 26th all time on the career WAR list. Ripken also won a pair of MVPs (and in both seasons he definitely deserved it).

Dawson was called out in my first WAMVP post as one of the worst WAR totals for an MVP (2.8 in 1987). Truth is, he exceeded 6.0 WAR four times. His MVP season was actually his ninth best season. He's a borderline Hall of Famer who probably deserves induction about as much as John Olerud. Tony Gwynn didn't clear 6.0 WAR all that much, but his consistency helped him to 68.5 total WAR. Jim Rice posted 7.0 WAR in 1978, but that was the only time. And this says something about how overrated Rice was and how remarkable Gossage was in one season—Goose actually posted 7.0 WAR in 1975 without starting a game. That's awesome.

So, what has this exercise done for me? It has confirmed my strong feelings about Bert Blyleven, Roberto Alomar, Alan Trammell, Jeff Bagwell, and Larry Walker. It has also shown yet another metric by which John Olerud and Kevin Brown look good. These two deserve long looks for the Hall of Fame. It has also confirmed my "meh" feeling on Jim Rice and further cemented Rich Gossage's place as the second best reliever of all time.