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BtBS HOF Part 2: The outsiders

We've seen who Beyond the Box Score elected. Now the writing staff explains the exclusions of those who fell short.

Bud Does Not Approve
Bud Does Not Approve
Jim McIsaac

This afternoon, at 2:00, the BBWAA will announce the results of their voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame. At 2:01, the public outrage will begin in earnest. Controversies will range from the steroid debate, the 10-vote maximum limit, the changing candidacies of players based on advanced stats, and blank protest ballots. Debate will be very loud on both sides of each question, and despite all the debate, we probably will not reach a consensus on what the answers to those questions should be.

More on the Hall of Fame

In Part 1, the writing staff here at Beyond the Box Score announced their six selections for baseball's Hall of Fame: Greg Maddux (21 votes, 95.5%), Barry Bonds (19, 86.4%), Jeff Bagwell (19, 86.4%), Frank Thomas (19, 86.4%), Roger Clemens (18, 81.8%), and Mike Mussina (18, 81.8%). This means that 29 others fell short of the 17 votes required for the honor. Why did these players not make it? Here in Part 2, we attempt to explain our reasons why for some of these players.

One common reason why players fell short of the required total was the BBWAA-imposed limit of voting for a maximum of 10 players. In our 22 ballots, 20 (90.9%) of the Beyond the Box Score writers used all 10 allocated slots on their ballot. Would they have voted for certain players if there had been no maximum?

To see if this was the case, we concurrently offered the writers a second ballot, where the was no maximum on the number of players a writer could vote for. Under this setting, the elected class more than doubles from 6 inductees to 14. So clearly, the BBWAA maximum constraint definitely has an influence on our writing staff's voting.

Larry Walker is a prime example of this problem. In the standard BBWAA-style ballot, Walker received two votes on the 22 ballots. When the maximum constraint was removed, Walker was named on 16 of 17 ballots. So, a large majority of the writers here at Beyond the Box Score believe that Walker is Hall of Fame worthy, but he was close to being dropped from next year's ballot based on the results of the standard ballot. Anyone else see a problem here?

But enough editorializing. Let's move on to the individuals who didn't make the cut based on our votes, but would've if there was no constraint on our ballot.

Mike Piazza

Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

He hit more home runs than any player at his position, energizing a fan base in New York, and by traditional means, playing to Hall of Fame potential. Mike Piazza is a Hall of Famer. Forget that his fWAR ranks 6th all-time at the catcher position. Forget that his career wRC+ is tops among qualified catchers. Whether you are a sabermetrician, or traditionalist, looking at his WAR totals or thinking about his home run in the first NYC game played post-9/11, Mike Piazza is a hall of famer.

-Jeffrey Bellone

BtBS Writer Vote (Standard Ballot): 16 votes (72.7%)
BtBS Writer Vote (No Max Ballot): 17 votes (100%)
BtBS Reader Vote: 204 votes (69.9%)

Curt Schilling

Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara-US PRESSWIRE

At first mention, Curt Schilling doesn't seem like a Hall of Famer. Maybe it's because he didn't become a full-time starter until age 26, or didn't really take off until age 31. But consider this, looking at pitchers who accrued over 3000 IP. Schilling has the highest K/BB at 4.38. Since 1901, there have been 20 seasons where a qualified starter had higher than 25% K% and >5 K/BB, and Schilling has 4 of those. His ERA- of 80 is 17th among that group, surrounded by Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Jim Palmer, and Juan Marichal. His FIP- of 74 is 3rd behind only Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson. His fWAR/200 IP is 5.1, 3rd among them. He had 5 seasons of more than 7.0 fWAR, more than Nolan Ryan (2), Don Drysdale (2), Bob Feller (3), Sandy Koufax (3), Steve Carlton (4), or Tom Seaver (4). Does that mean he was better than them? Not necessarily, but all this shows that Schilling is plenty worthy of enshrinement, even without his stellar postseason numbers.

-Stephen Loftus

I'll be honest: I actually voted for Schilling and then didn't read Stephen's email calling for paragraphs. But I'm a man of my word, and taking the other side of an argument can encourage a more nuanced view of the issue. So let's see if I can argue against Schilling without irritating Brian Kenny or Governor Lincoln Chafee.

In a vacuum, Schilling's stats are probably those of a Hall of Famer: his career WAR is 26th among pitchers, right behind Bob Gibson and comfortably ahead of Jim Palmer and Bob Feller. Even compared to other candidates, he doesn't suffer too badly: look at how he compares to Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina. But the ballot is packed with worthy names, and maybe the best comparison for Schilling is Tim Raines. You don't want to read about Raines again, I'm sure, but I believe that in any other era, his Hall of Fame case would be straightforward. Unfortunately, think of a speedster from the late 80s/early 90s and everyone immediately turns to Rickey Henderson. Raines was great, but he wasn't Rickey.

Now think about Schilling's career, and what comes to mind? That 2001 Diamondbacks team (where he was paired with Randy Johnson) and the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox teams (where he was paired with Pedro Martinez and a phenomenal Josh Beckett). Schilling's best seasons were probably 2001 and 2002, where he finished second in the Cy Young vote ... behind Johnson. If Schilling falls short again, it won't be because he wasn't great -- look at his numbers and I'm sure you'll agree with me -- but because he wasn't Pedro or Randy Johnson. Objectively, that shouldn't affect his chances, but in such a subjective process, it will.

-Bryan Cole

BtBS Writer Vote (Standard Ballot): 16 votes (72.7%)
BtBS Writer Vote (No Max Ballot): 100 votes (100%)
BtBS Reader Vote: 138 votes (47.3%)

Tim Raines

Photo Credit: William Perlman/The Star-Ledger via US PRESSWIRE

Tim Raines has never received his due, thanks in large part to a guy named Rickey Henderson. Raines had the misfortune of having to share the "epic, dynamic, game-changing leadoff hitter" spotlight with Henderson, which left Tim to play second fiddle. With that said, Tim Raines still put up the numbers to warrant entry into the Hall of Fame. He’s best known for his speed as Raines was truly an elite base-stealer, swiping 50 or more bags in eight different seasons, including six seasons with 70 steals or more, and a peak 90 stolen bases back in 1983. Raines’ stolen base totals were largely due to his speed, but his ability to get on base with consistency can’t be ignored. He had a career on-base percentage of .385 and had a OBP north of .400 six different times. Although his defense in left field was nothing to write home about (and limits his WAR totals), Raines walked more than he struck out, had a career triple slash of .294/.385/.425, and a wRC+ of 125 over is 23-year career. During his peak, from ’81-’87, Raines was only surpassed by Henderson and Mike Schmidt as an offensive player, with both of those guys being first-ballot Hall of Famers. As the game’s second-greatest leadoff hitter of all time and one of the game’s most exciting players to watch, Tim Raines belongs in the Hall of Fame.

-Jeff Wiser

Raines was good, very good, rated as the 13th-best left fielder in history by fWAR. But similar to my comments regarding Alan Trammell, was he ever considered among the best at his position while he played? From 1983-1987 he had seasonal fWAR above 6.0, All-Star caliber seasons, and was solid for around six seasons after that. Hall of Very Good? Certainly, maybe even the quintessential HOVGer. It’s a tough call, but a line needs to be drawn somewhere, and I just don’t think Raines crosses that threshold.

-Scott Lindholm

BtBS Writer Vote (Standard Ballot): 14 votes (63.6%)
BtBS Writer Vote (No Max Ballot): 15 votes (88.2%)
BtBS Reader Vote: 176 votes (60.3%)

Tom Glavine

Photo Credit: Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

First, let's get the obvious out of the way. Glavine won 300 games and two Cy Young Awards (Plus four more top-3 finishes). You can deride the win, and you can deride the team-related influence on the win. But you can't deride the impressiveness of the company Glavine keeps in that club. Now, let's look closer at Glavine. Glavine's ERA- stands at 86, right in line with Fergie Jenkins, Steve Carlton, and Warren Spahn. Critics will cite his low WAR (63.9) and high FIP- (94), but his FIP- is still in line with Jim Palmer and Warren Spahn. bWAR (74.0) and RA9-WAR (87.6) are much kinder to Glavine, where he ranks 28th and 23rd all-time. Glavine may have simultaneously helped and hurt his candidacy by pursuing 300 wins. On one side, 300 wins is definitely one of those clubs that has an incredible list of members. However, his performance those final 6 seasons definitely pulled down his non-win stats. He might get viewed as a compiler, but regardless, Glavine is a Hall of Famer, whether it's this year or later.

-Stephen Loftus

Before presenting my case against Glavine, let me just state I think he belongs in Cooperstown. The left-hander pitched for 22 seasons in the bigs and finished his career with 305 wins, two Cy Young Awards, and the type of consistent excellence rarely seen among major league starters. But unfortunately, I felt 10 other candidates were more deserving than Glavine. Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux were both far more dominant, and Glavine’s two most similar peers on the ballot, Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling, also have better Hall of Fame cases. Glavine has the edge in career wins over both Mussina and Schilling, but he also had the benefit of pitching on far superior teams. Conversely, both Mussina and Schilling finished their careers with far better marks in terms of K/BB ratio, ERA+, and FIP-. While Glavine deserves induction on another ballot, he simply wasn’t quite as good or consistently dominant as some of the other candidates on this year’s ballot.

-Alex Skillin

BtBS Writer Vote (Standard Ballot): 13 votes (59.1%)
BtBS Writer Vote (No Max Ballot): 17 votes (100%)
BtBS Reader Vote: 220 votes (75.3%)

Craig Biggio

Photo Credit: Travis Lindquist/Getty Images

Hall of Fame credentials are dependent on position played, so I first compared Biggio to other second basemen. Biggio leads all second basemen in runs scored, and the nine players following him on this list are all in the hall of fame. Furthermore, Biggio ranks 15th all time in runs scored across MLB. In fact, of the top 30 players all time in runs scored, only five are not currently in the hall of fame (this list includes: Barry Bonds, Pete Rose, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Craig Biggio).

Additionally, Biggio leads all second basemen in doubles, and eight of the nine players following him on this list are in the hall of fame. He is fifth on the all time doubles list, which makes him and Pete Rose the only two players not in the hall of fame of the top 13 on this list. Over Biggio’s 20-year career, his hardware included 5 silver slugger awards, and 4 gold gloves (he also appeared in 7 ASG’s, and placed in the MVP vote 5 times).

A fan favorite statistic known as WAR for evaluating a player’s contribution to their team’s success is also in favor of Biggio. In 1997, Biggio scored the league high 146 runs and led all of MLB in WAR with a value of 9.3. Oh yeah, one last thing… Biggio has 3,060 career hits.

-Michael Nestel

Craig Biggio did not make my Hall of Fame ballot. This is not because I do not consider him a hall of famer. I think he is a hall of famer and should be elected. I did not vote for him because I felt there were 10 players ahead of him. He did get a vote on the unlimited ballot.

Craig Biggio has achieved many of the benchmarks that almost guarantee entry into the hall: more than 3,000 hits (3,060), multiple All-Star appearances (7), and multiple gold gloves (4). Between 1993 and 1999 he was never worse than a 4.2 bWAR player, peaking at 9.4 in 1997. Despite this, he falls below the average hall of fame second baseman according to Jay Jaffe’s JAWS metric. Biggio’s 53.3 JAWS ranks 14th amongst second basemen. Although this comparison is not entirely fair as Biggio was a multi-position player in his career, playing C, 2B, SS, and CF. His 53.3 JAWS is slightly below the average hall of famer at these positions (53.9). Biggio’s career defensive bWAR of -3.7 certainly affects this standing. While I consider him a hall of famer, the crowded ballot hurts Biggio. The final two spots on my ballot came down to a decision between Biggio, Glavine, Raines and Trammell. In the end I voted for Alan Trammell (11th in JAWS for SS; above average for hall of fame SS) and Tim Raines (8th in JAWS for LF; above average for hall of fame LF) primarily because they are both above average for hall of fame standards.

-Chris Teeter

BtBS Writer Vote (Standard Ballot): 12 votes (54.5%)
BtBS Writer Vote (No Max Ballot): 17 votes (100%)
BtBS Reader Vote: 192 votes (65.8%)

Edgar Martinez

Photo Credit: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

My selection of Edgar Martinez is one that comes form the crossing of two trains of thought. One train is that of just pure number interpretation -the 68.3 career WAR, 43.5 7-year peak, which gives him a 55.9 JAWS, which is above average for Hall of Fame third basemen. Add to it his having only one season in an 18-year career where he played over 100 games and had an OPS+ below average and being a part of 4 postseason Mariners squads -- every postseason Seattle has enjoyed, Edgar was a part of -- and you find a guy who competed at a high level for a long time, in spite of not getting much playing time until he was 27 years old. Persistent, consistent, productive

The other train is one of pure nostalgia and subjectivity. Despite some impressive numbers in a highly debated era of baseball, Edgar's mark on the game also came at a position that is neither here nor there, the DH. For me, Martinez along with his contemporary, Frank Thomas, redefined and made the DH what it is today -- a position in and of itself, despite its beginnings as a place to stash lesser defensive players. They took the lessons learned by guys like Dave Parker, Dave Kingman, and Harold Baines and molded the DH into a position of stature, with an identity, versus one marked by makeshift 'we'll make do with it' second thoughts.

It only seems appropriate that the two men responsible for writing the role of DH so indelibly should go in together; while their trek to Cooperstown had differing positional beginnings, they are designated hitters, and ones of historical note. As such, Edgar Martinez is a Hall of Fame designated hitter.

-Stuart Wallace

I voted for Martinez in my unrestricted ballot, and although I think Martinez should get enshrined as the finest DH we've ever seen, I thought he fell short in a crowded field. Many of Martinez's rate stats make him a fit for the Hall: his career .312/.418/.515 line pales only in comparison to players like Barry Bonds, and his career OPS+ of 147 is nestled between Hall of Famers like Ralph Kiner and Willie McCovey. But with only 8 seasons in which Martinez had more than 600 PA, few of his counting stats clearly distinguish him, and he had only two seasons (1992, 1995) in which he was clearly one of his league's very best offensive performers. If we look at only Offensive bWAR, Martinez (66.4) only narrowly beats out other HOF candidates who are on the bubble, like Mike Piazza (65.7), Mark McGwire (64.9), Alan Trammell (62.3), and Larry Walker (62.2). I believe Edgar Martinez deserves a plaque, but I would vote for all four of those other players before finding room for him on my ballot.

-Ryan P. Morrison

BtBS Writer Vote (Standard Ballot): 9 votes (40.9%)
BtBS Writer Vote (No Max Ballot): 17 votes (100%)
BtBS Reader Vote: 94 votes (32.2%)

Alan Trammell

Photo Credit: Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports

The common HOF standard is "Was he among the best players in the game during his career?" That seems a little high—shouldn’t we instead ask "Was he among the best at his position during his career?" If we accept this, Trammell’s selection becomes very straight-forward—fWAR has him as the 4th-best shortstop in that period, with a very clear gap between him and the next-best. He’s ranked 11th all-time, with numerous HOFers behind him like Ernie Banks, Pee Wee Reese, Luis Aparicio and Barry Larkin. Yeah, he was that good and the fact he hasn’t been enshrined continues to puzzle me greatly.

-Scott Lindholm

Alan Trammell was a really good baseball player. Really, really good. The fact that we’re even having this discussion suggests as much. But is Trammell a Hall of Fame player? Not in my opinion. Trammell ranks 94th in WAR amongst all players all time, but considering that he accumulated 70.3 WAR over 20 seasons, he’s clearly more of a compiler than a true impact player. With a career triple slash of .285/.352/.415, he was a very nice offensive player but obviously not a great one. Yes, Trammell was an excellent fielder, but his four gold gloves over the course of his career suggests that he was, again, very good but not elite. He finished second in MVP voting following his 1987 season but was never again a strong contender for the award. As a base runner, he was also good but never great having stolen 30 bases or more only once (1983) over 20 seasons and combining for a career stolen base percentage of 68% (236 SB, 109 CS). When it all adds up, Trammell is was obviously a well-rounded player but probably belongs in the Hall of Very Good and not the Hall of Fame as he’s simply lacking the type of impact resume to enshrine him.

-Jeff Wiser

BtBS Writer Vote (Standard Ballot): 3 votes (13.6%)
BtBS Writer Vote (No Max Ballot): 15 votes (88.2%)
BtBS Reader Vote: 101 votes (34.6%)

Larry Walker

Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Larry Walker should be in the Hall of Fame. wRC+ says so (140 career, better than Reggie Jackson and Joe Morgan). WAR says so (69.0 career, better than Barry Larkin and Ozzie Smith). JAWS says so (58.6 career, compared to 58.1 for Hall of Fame right fielders). He’s also never been linked to PEDs, and has given a rather humorous quote regarding his theoretical usage of them*. Why, then, has he accrued fewer than 25% of the vote in each of his three years on the ballot? From what I can tell, there are two reasons, and I can’t decide which is more irritating.

*"If there was a needle going in my butt, it had pancake batter in it, not steroids."

The first reason is that the voters –- many of whom aren't exactly statisticians -- think his stats were inflated by Coors Field. The thing is, they weren’t. Putting aside the fact that he only spent nine of his seventeen seasons with the Rockies, his OPS+ with the Rockies was 147, which is quite good. He also contributed 42.8 WAR over that time, good for 12th-best in baseball.

The second reason is his theoretical indolence; some people believe that this was what caused him to miss as much time as he did, and that he didn't really have "injuries". Not only is this a horrible and ignorant view (even for the BBWAA), his performance when on the field, as I detailed above, certainly makes him worthy of inclusion.

In the end, though, he won’t make it, while Jack Morris might. #FirstWorldProblems

-Ryan Romano

First of all, I believe Larry Walker is a Hall of Famer. It may take voters a little while to become acquainted with the all-around genius that is Walker, but he'll get there. However, this year he's a victim of the BBWAA voting rules. The backup of candidates from previous years augmented by four or five deserving first-time candidates make for tough decisions. Unfortunately for Walker, he falls on the wrong side of those decisions for me. I voted for him when we didn't have a maximum votes limit, but with the rules as they're set in place, Walker is out of luck.

-Stephen Loftus

BtBS Writer Vote (Standard Ballot): 2 votes (9.1%)
BtBS Writer Vote (No Max Ballot): 16 votes (94.1%)
BtBS Reader Vote: 75 votes (25.7%)


Thanks to all the writers and readers who participated in the process. I hope it was a fun exercise for everyone. Now, let the debate begin!

Hall of Fame Voting Results for Beyond the Box Score Writers and Readers

Results for Each Individual Writer's Standard Ballots

Results for Each Individual Writer's No-Max Ballots