The Batting Hall of Current

A topic that never ceases to cause debate in the baseball writing community is who does or does not belong in the hall of fame.  Most of the debate revolves around whether or not a player has “the numbers.”  The majority of those chiming in intuitively know what makes up a worthy player but, because no common denominator exists, we rever to statistical milestones in order to base judgments.  While this is not wrong, by any means, there are also those who possess the mindset that a healthy combination of solid stats and contributions to the game is a better way to gauge induction-worthiness.
I personally feel the hall of fame should work more along the lines of an historical document that will serve to inform future generations which players from the past are really worth knowing about.  The fact of the matter is that there are many different ideas and definitions about what the Cooperstown hall is or should be; this plethora of ideas is one of the key reasons we so fervently debate.
In my favorite baseball book (as of now) Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame? Bill James attempts to uncover what makes a hall of fame player as well as why Player A got in and Player B did not.  While he did not necessarily find a common denominator he did notice that a large percentage of those enshrined reached certain statistical milestones.  With that in mind he created a few tests to determine the likelihood of a player getting inducted.
The test I like to examine the most is the Hall of Fame Monitor.  For a full explanation click the link of the title, but it essentially weights different milestones and awards points as players positively distance themselves from said achievements.  Anyone with a score of 100+ is considered to have a shot; anyone with 130+ is considered a virtual shoe-in.  For instance, Ken Griffey Jr. currently has a 225 and Alex Rodriguez has a 316; based on what others currently inducted have done, these two players would be no-doubters if they retired today or tomorrow.
There are currently 35 batters with 100+ not yet eligible for induction.  I thought it might be fun to show them and get your thoughts on whether or not they are worthy, as well as why or why not.  If we can get enough of a response we’ll have an official fan ballot.  In just taking a cursory scan of these 35 I have a strong sense we will find some players with 130+ that are not necessarily worthy of induction based on the standards of some.  Here are the seven above 200:

  • Barry Bonds, 350
  • Alex Rodriguez, 316
  • Ivan Rodriguez, 228
  • Ken Griffey Jr, 225
  • Derek Jeter, 221
  • Mike Piazza, 205
  • Sammy Sosa, 201

The bookends of that list bring up the topic of steroids and magical performance elixirs (what I imagine Sesame Street would call PED’s) but I am only mentioning them due to a quota of PED mentions in articles in need of being reached.  Here are the players above 150:

  • Frank Thomas, 194
  • Roberto Alomar, 193
  • Manny Ramirez, 187
  • Rafael Palmeiro, 178
  • Vlad Guerrero, 174
  • Craig Biggio, 172
  • Ichiro Suzuki, 170
  • Albert Pujols, 166
  • Todd Helton, 162

It’s very interesting to see Albert Pujols and Vlad in there so highly due to them still having a nice portion of their careers left.  Here are the players above 130:

  • Jeff Bagwell, 149
  • Larry Walker, 147
  • Gary Sheffield, 146
  • Chipper Jones, 141
  • Jim Thome, 139
  • Bernie Williams, 133
  • Edgar Martinez, 131

And here are the players between 100 and 130:

  • Jeff Kent, 121
  • Nomar Garciaparra, 120
  • Juan Gonzalez, 120
  • Barry Larkin, 118
  • Miguel Tejada, 114
  • Andres Galarraga, 114
  • Omar Vizquel, 104
  • Andruw Jones, 101
  • Luis Gonzalez, 101
  • Carlos Delgado, 100
  • Magglio Ordonez, 100
  • Fred McGriff, 100

These are the 35 batters currently with Hall Monitor scores of 100+.  The players below the 130 mark are definitely more easily debatable so let’s focus the discussion on the players with scores higher than 130, the players James considers to be virtually assured at getting in.  I’d rather hear your thoughts and discuss this in the comments thread than sit here and ramble about my own personal beliefs but I do think that, steroids aside, the first seven players mentioned–those above 200–are all deserving, and very few, if any, of those below 130 are deserving. 


21 Responses to The Batting Hall of Current

  1. Corey Seidman says:

    You know what rhymes with Hall Monitor? PAUL MOLITOR
    Coincidence? I think not.

  2. Shane says:

    Two people surprised me:
    1) Pujols, he’s still young. I know he’s good, but sometimes I forgot how good.
    2) Nomar, even with all the ups and downs (mostly downs) the past few years he’s still close to “should be considered” status. Maybe I’m just being a sentimental Sox fan, but oh what could have been…
    For everyone between 130 and 160 you can come up with very solid reasons why they should be in. Be it straight numbers or what they meant to the team and fans they played for.

  3. Nomar to me is a lot like Grant Hill – the good seasons were phenomenal but injuries really lessened the career. It really calls into question how many good seasons you need to have to garner serious consideration. Luckily for Hill, he will likely get in due to COLLEGE success at Duke, but the basketball hall of fame is not the NBA hall of fame and it includes numerous areas.

  4. Pizza Cutter says:

    Ah, Fred McGriff. The quintessential Hall of Fame borderline case. If he gets in, it’ll drive everyone nuts. If he doesn’t, it’ll drive everyone nuts.
    Maybe what we need is the ability to remove people from the Hall of Fame. It’s not that Fred McGriff was a bad player. It’s that giving him a lifetime, irrevocable tenure in the pantheon of baseball’s elite is a mighty big step. It’s kind of like naming a Supreme Court justice… except that Supreme Court justices can retire.

  5. Pizza, that’s of course assuming the Hall of Fame is in fact the pantheon of baseball’s elite. Based on some of the selections in the past some could argue the idea of the Hall of Fame is better in thought than execution.

  6. Notorious JIM says:

    I agree that the first group are all shoe ins.
    Frank Thomas had back to back MVPs, but i think the voters have set it up to keep him out by keepig Dale Murphy out. Thomas has a similar background, only he stayed healthy longer. I want to him him in, but i do not think he will be.
    Alomar had some amazing years, and was a top 3 2B for about 10 years (it was close between him and biggio for a long time). He tarnished his image by breaking down in the majors to end his career. He will not be a frist ballot since people need to forget how he ended his career.
    Palmero was good. A dominate O, and part of the heart of Murders Row. The issue is that some of his stats are inflated from playing on that moster lineup. I am sure his RBI totals are inflated, he saw more fastfalls (more HR). He also was a 1B who only really hit dingers in the jiuced ball era. he was good, but not good enough.
    biggio was a gold glove level feilder at 2 positions (2nd and C) and was a fairly good CF, all tough positions. He was a Killer B. So the name and D are there. He was also a speedier small guy, and since they were in short supply i think he has a better shot.
    Helton is an interesting point since he played in Colorado. He is young enough to add a few more years of .300 average and 20-25 hr. But i still think he falls short.
    Edgar Martinez, frank thomas lite, He will not get in until after The big hurt paves the way.
    Tejada is an oddity. the big names at SS for the longest time were Jeter, Nomar, and A-rod. It took Tejada until he was in his late 20ies to reach the same level. I think he falls short, unless he starts winning WS.
    (i picked out some names i thought would be more fun to talk about, i have some opinion on all of these guys if you want to talk about em)

  7. Jim, I personally think Helton is the most fascinating one. James says that above 130 is a virtual cinch and Helton is at 162 with at least 3-4 more years in him. That being said, his stats are likely padded due to playing in Coors and he is playing in an era where he is not the most dominant first baseman. The same can be said for McGriff – he had some great seasons and was very consistently good but he was not the most dominant or second most dominant.
    Palmeiro’s definitely qualified, stats-wise, but his magical performance elixir usage will likely prevent it.
    I’m also extremely curious about Frank Thomas and Jim Thome – these could be two guys upwards of 600 HR that might not be first ballot guys.
    In my mind, Biggio is a shoe-in even if he didn’t get to 3,000 hits; same for Bagwell.
    Chipper is a shoe-in for me, as well. The guys I’m also very curious about are Bernie Williams, Larry Walker, and Jeff Kent.

  8. MlbFan30 says:

    Frank Thomas not 1st Ballot?
    His 157 OPS+ isn’t good enough? 19th All-time
    .302 Career AVG after having his past 8 seasons under .275. That shows how great his peak was.
    Will easily have 1500R, 525HR, 1750 RBI by the time the season ends.
    2 MVPs
    Top 20 Alltime in… OBP / OPS / (21st – SLG) / HRs / BB / OPS+ / Batting Runs / Batting Wins / Sac Flies
    And he has a few years left in him to increase his counting stats. There is no way he’s not a 1st Ballot HOFer

  9. Zeke says:

    Looking at the players above 130 who are no longer active, everyone gets my vote easily except for two: Larry Walker and Edgar Martinez. I was always a Walker fan. The Colorado stats are probably a bit inflated, but they also came during his prime. I suppose if it came right down to it, I would vote for him, but for me he’s right on the line. As far as Martinez, he was a fun hitter to watch, but I hate the DH. Sorry, I can’t vote for Martinez.
    The steroid thing doesn’t meach much to me. I still can’t figure how they make you a “better” player. Yes, maybe you can play a few more games or turn a few fly balls into homers, but you still need “baseball skills”. If Bonds took steroids for say five years and they added added 20 HR per year, that’s 100 HR. Take that from his total and he still has 662. Maybe the (insert expletive of your choice here) factor is important with borderline players, but not a player at Bonds’ level.

  10. Zeke, try convincing sportswriters with votes. What’s the concensus on Thome/Kent/Sheffield?

  11. Ben Fleming says:

    I’m a little surprised Barry Larkin’s chances are so low. He missed so many games due to injuries that his overall career totals aren’t spectacular.
    Still, his case is that he was the best NL shortstop of the ’90s, a 12-time All-Star with an MVP Award on the shelf, really good career rate stats for an MI (.295/.371/.444, 116 OPS+), efficient base-stealer … I don’t know if anyone else considers him an HOFer, but I do.

  12. roarke says:

    I think I would take everyone over 170 right now. I think Pujols will get there, but he’s not there yet and I think that everyone else below 170 is short now and will be in the Hall of the Very Good unless they have another monster season or three (Chipper could still do it, I guess).
    Jeff Kent is the only other guy below 170 that I would really consider, just because there aren’t many 2B in the Hall.

  13. Chipper is a no-doubter in my mind as the Braves were dominant for so long and he is essentially their offensive MVP. Plus, if you go just by milestones he’ll be close to 460+ HR by the end of his career if all goes according to planned.
    Larkin I think may drum up support because of what Roarke said in that not many middle infielders get in.
    By the time Pujols’s career ends he’ll be close to A-Rod’s score, if not past it.
    I also say Bagwell gets in for reasons close to Chipper. Remember these are just stats based on a test by Bill James. There are other aspects to, like on-field dominance and such. I can’t see Biggio getting in and Bagwell not, and I can’t see Biggio not getting in.
    I think Kent and Helton are truly interesting cases, too. If we’re going to deny people in Colorado because of inflated stats, how is that fair? It’s like saying that anyone playing for the Rockies will never make the hall of fame because the air is thinner.

  14. roarke says:

    My earlier comment was based on who I would *want* in the Hall – I think there are others on the list *will* certainly get in. I am a proponent of raising the bar to get into the Hall of Fame.
    That being said, I can see Chipper – he played 3B most of his career, and put up rare numbers for that position – but Helton/Bagwell/Thome at 1B and Walker/Sheffield/Williams at OF don’t get me there.
    I don’t have any problem with electing a player from the Rockies to the Hall, but neither Helton or Walker seem Hall worthy, in my estimation. Of course, Helton is only 34 this year, so he could put up more numbers to get him there. His career 143 OPS+ is impressive, but I don’t think he’s there with the counting stats and his power has faded dramatically.
    You are probably right that Bagwell will get in, but I’m not sure that he should (although looking at his numbers I like his case better than Helton’s).
    Like I said before, I could probably be persuaded on Kent because of the position and I think Larkin might fall into that category, too, although he’s a tougher sell.

  15. Zeke says:

    Eric J. Seidman – All 3 of Thome, Kent and Sheffield get my vote. (Man, do I wish I had one!)
    Ben Fleming: Absolutely agree with you on Larkin.
    Speaking of the Rockies, I always wondered about the high batting averages of Helton, Walker, Bichette, etc. I make no claims about understanding the science behind the “thin air”, but I does make sense to me how it could produce more HR and even a few more 2B. What I can’t figure is how it can help your overall batting average, excluding the previously mentioned additional extra base hits. Can a line drive through a hole be affected by climate? Helton can and Walker could hit the ball, regardless of where they were standing. If Helton plays a few more years and approaches those magic career numbers, playing in Colorado should not prevent him from getting in.

  16. roarke says:

    Zeke: I have always heard that breaking pitches are not as effective at altitude. I’m not sure on the science of why that would be, but I do know that Matt Holliday saw a lower percentage of off-speed pitches than other top hitters in the league (fastballs, sinkers and cutters accounted for 70.62% of pitches he saw last year according to pitch f/x anyway). Assuming this is a trend inherent to playing baseball at altitude (Helton saw fastballs, sinkers and cutters at a 65.48% clip, which is a bit higher than most other hitters I’ve looked at – just for example, A-Rod saw 60.54%, Prince Fielder saw 56.61% and Pujols saw 60.1%), then I would argue that seeing fewer off-speed pitches could be an advantage that would improve batting average. Just a theory, though.

  17. Zeke says:

    roarke: I’ll buy that. Thanks.

  18. Notorious JIM says:

    Larkin won his MVP in a year with no stand out players. He barely won that year vs several other very good players. The thing that is often overlooked with larkin was his ability work counts. On another board i post on i had a long arguement over the value of a leadoff hitter seeing 3.5-4.5 pitches per at bat to let everyone else see what the SP has.
    Walker is boarderline with his stats, but never willing to run plays out will cost him a few votes. Love of the game does count.
    Kent as a 2b is kind of odd. He is a two bagger, but there are 2 other players at the same position i like better (alomar and biggio). Kent was a monster hitter, but a big liablility in the field. He also gets knocked for being an idiot. First he broke his hand riding a motorcycle, then lied about it, and was caught (his contract had a stipulation about not riding a bike). THe other issue is the porn star mustache. Maybe if he shaved before they made the plaque i would change my vote.

  19. Josh says:

    On the people above 130
    No to: Martinez, Williams, Chipper, Walker, Bagwell, Biggio, Alomar
    Sheff is borderline.
    Nobody below 130 is deserving to me.

  20. noseeum says:

    Frank Thomas is a no brainer. The most dominating hitter in the AL for a long time.

  21. Notorious JIM says:

    Lets look at some of these guys more closely as to what makes up their Score:
    Bernie Williams: 5 time all star, 1 mvp, 4 gold gloves. He has great post season numbers. The only thing killing him is that he did not reach either big hitting milestone (3000 hits or 500 Hr), he would be 3-5 years of solid play away from 3000 hits. He is not that close to me.
    Edgar Martinez: 7 time all star, and no major mile stones. With the DH working against him, he is a mile away.
    Chiper Jones: He could get 500 Hr (391 right now, so this year and 3 more years would do it, but he does not have that much time). 5 time all star, 1 mvp. He looks more like bernie on hitting numbers than i thought he would.
    Larry Walker: 5 all stars, 1 mvp. No mile stones. He is also a lot like bernie only has a better average (but bernie gets the pinstripes edge).
    Jeff Bagwell: 4 all star games, 1 MVP. no mile stones (449 Hr).
    Craig Biggio: 3000 hits (3060), 7 time allstar. and is 2nd all time in HBP. He was a crafty player who played 3 positions well (one as a gold glover)
    Roberto Alomar:12 time all star. That alone means he was one of the top 4 or 5 2B for that span. I think being top at your position for a decade gets you in

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