The Hall of Very Good, According to wWAR

A while back, I created an alternate Hall of Fame called the Hall of wWAR. wWAR, or weighted wins above replacement, is a modification to the WAR statistic found at Baseball-Reference. It was adjusted, or weighted, for several factors like peak performance, playoff heroics, and season schedule length. It reduced every player in history to just one number—a purely objective value of how good their Hall of Fame case is. It wasn’t perfect, but it was fun.

I then dumped everyone out of the Hall of Fame and re-populated it just by wWAR. It was an interesting experiment, to say the least—63 players ended up getting booted (like Jim Rice, Catfish Hunter, and Rick Ferrell) while 63 were added (like Jeff Bagwell, Deacon White, and Dick Allen).

Since the Hall of wWAR is simply an ordered list of players, it makes it easy to sort and apply different cutoffs to make alternate Halls. For example, a while back on BPP I posted what a Small Hall would look like, according to wWAR. Today, I’ve got something a little different.

Our friends Sky Kalkman and Marc Normandin are heading up an eBook project called The Hall of Very Good (you should go pre-order now!). They promise to cover “the careers of baseball’s under-celebrated stars, from Ken Boyer to Rondell White.”

As I wait for the eBook, I thought I’d take a look at what a Hall of Very Good might look like, according to wWAR. There are currently 209 people voted into the Hall of Fame as MLB players. I decided our Hall of Very Good (by wWAR) should be the same size. So, I took the top 209 players, by wWAR, outside of the Hall of Fame.

I then excluded three members of the Hall of wWAR who are banned from the Hall of Fame—Pete Rose, Shoeless Joe Jackson, and Eddie Cicotte. I also excluded three Hall of Famers who were inducted for roles other than as a player—Al Spalding (who is the absolute best “player” outside of the Hall of Fame, by wWAR), John McGraw (also a member of the Hall of wWAR), and Candy Cummings (not in the Hall of wWAR, but at the Hall of Very Good level).

So, here is the Hall of Very Good, According to wWAR:
* denotes a member of the Hall of wWAR

Catcher:

  1. Ted Simmons (98.3)*
  2. Joe Torre (91.9)*
  3. Thurman Munson (90.1)*
  4. Gene Tenace (84.9)*
  5. Charlie Bennett (82.5)*
  6. Bill Freehan (80.5)*
  7. Darrell Porter (71.5)
  8. Wally Schang (70.1)
  9. Jack Clements (59.2)

Personally, I believe Ted Simmons and Joe Torre absolutely belong in the Hall of Fame. Thurman Munson, to me, is right behind them. Tenace, Bennett, and Freehan aren’t quite as obvious, but each was supremely underrated. I would say that Tenace certainly had Hall of Fame talent. Had his teams realized exactly how valuable his skills were while he played, he would have played a lot more. That would have given him the plate appearances (he had only 5527) to be a no-doubt Hall of Famer. Gene Tenace, more than any of the other catchers, was screwed.

Darrell Porter, on the other hand, probably perfectly represents the Hall of Very Good. A good way of explaining how underrated Porter was is by pointing out he retired after hitting .265 and .238 in his final two seasons as a part timer. His OBPs, however, were .360 and .387—giving him OPS+ marks of 138 and 115.

Clearly, Porter had more to offer, but his skills weren’t valued in his day. He was a .247 hitter, but had a 113 OPS+ and was worth 40.6 WAR. His 1979 season was worth 8.4 WAR, showing he was capable of greatness. Like Tenace, given more of a chance (his 6570 plate appearances is relatively low) he might have produced Hall of Fame-level value.

First Base:

  1. Jeff Bagwell (132.6)*
  2. Dick Allen (98.1)*
  3. Mark McGwire (91.3)*
  4. Keith Hernandez (90.8)*
  5. Rafael Palmeiro (89.6)*
  6. John Olerud (84.0)*
  7. Will Clark (83.3)*
  8. Norm Cash (72.1)
  9. Fred McGriff (70.8)
  10. George Burns (68.7)
  11. Dolph Camilli (64.7)
  12. Gil Hodges (64.5)
  13. Joe Start (59.3)
  14. Mark Grace (59.2)
  15. Ed Konetchy (58.1)
  16. Jack Fournier (57.3)
  17. Don Mattingly (57.1)
  18. Fred Tenney (56.6)

If I could put any one player in the Hall of Fame, it would be Jeff Bagwell. Simply put, he is the best player not in. Dick Allen, Mark McGwire, and Rafael Palmeiro all clearly had Hall of Fame talent, but other issues have kept them out. McGwire admitted PED use, Palmeiro tested positive, and Allen… well, some people thought Allen was a jerk. Others thought the opposite. The truth is likely somewhere in between.

If you believe in the value of defense—and I do—then you think Keith Hernandez is a Hall of Famer. It is with John Olerid and Will Clark that we approach the borderline.

The pair rates ahead of Norm Cash and Fred McGriff by a good amount, and I tend to agree with that. You could put them all in the Hall and it really wouldn’t be any worse than it is now.

Gil Hodges simply doesn’t rate as a Hall of Famer by wWAR. This, of course, does not include his value as a manager. Don Mattingly also doesn’t stack up. However, if he ever wins a title as a manager, he’ll be able to make a Hodges-like dual-role case with the Vererans Committee.

Second Base:

  1. Bobby Grich (99.9)*
  2. Lou Whitaker (93.4)*
  3. Ross Barnes (80.1)*
  4. Willie Randolph (78.2)*
  5. Cupid Childs (78.2)*
  6. Hardy Richardson (69.2)
  7. Fred Dunlap (66.2)
  8. Chuck Knoblauch (65.3)
  9. Larry Doyle (64.5)
  10. Tony Phillips (62.8)
  11. Buddy Myer (56.8)
  12. Del Pratt (52.3)

Bobby Grich and Lou Whitaker are more deserving than several, if not most, second basemen in the Hall. Ross Barnes is interesting—his career totals are very low because he had a short career and played at a time of very short season lengths. He was the very best hitter in the National Association and was an adept fielder at a premium position. That should probably be good enough for induction.

Willie Randolph and Cupid Childs are much closer to the borderline. Hardy Richardson comes next after a somewhat substantial gap. Tony Phillips makes the Hall of wWAR despite never being selected as an All Star.

Third Base:

  1. Sal Bando (93.0)*
  2. Deacon White (92.2)*
  3. Ken Boyer (87.0)*
  4. Buddy Bell (84.2)*
  5. Graig Nettles (82.5)*
  6. Darrell Evans (78.3)*
  7. Stan Hack (76.3)*
  8. Robin Ventura (75.2)
  9. Ezra Sutton (72.9)
  10. Ron Cey (72.9)
  11. Bob Elliott (71.3)
  12. Ned Williamson (70.9)
  13. Heinie Groh (65.6)
  14. Lave Cross (60.4)
  15. Toby Harrah (59.8)
  16. Matt Williams (57.8)
  17. Larry Gardner (55.6)
  18. Denny Lyons (53.6)
  19. Arlie Latham (52.8)

Before Ron Santo was inducted into the Hall of Fame, he was the best third baseman outside of the Hall, by a decent amount. Third base is one of the most poorly represented positions in the Hall of Fame, and several of the third basemen actually in the Hall don’t belong there.

The three that stand out by wWAR are Sal Bando, Deacon White, and Ken Boyer. I’d put all of them in. The next tier—Buddy Bell, Graig Nettles, and Darrell Evans (plus Stan Hack and Robin Ventura) could either be your Hall of Very Good, or also Hall of Famers. I’m split on this group. Ron Cey, I’d say, is a perfect representative of the Hall of Very Good.

Shortstop:

  1. Bill Dahlen (113.2)*
  2. Jack Glasscock (104.3)*
  3. Alan Trammell (99.3)*
  4. Jim Fregosi (68.9)
  5. Herman Long (61.3)
  6. Art Fletcher (60.2)
  7. Ed McKean (58.9)
  8. Vern Stephens (58.2)
  9. Bert Campaneris (56.6)
  10. Gil McDougald (53.5)
  11. Roger Peckinpaugh (52.5)

Bill Dahlen, Alan Trammell, and Jack Glasscock all deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. After that, there’s a huge gap. Jim Fregosi and Company fit the Hall of Very Good description.

Left Field:

  1. Tim Raines (89.8)*
  2. Sherry Magee (84.8)*
  3. Minnie Minoso (81.1)*
  4. Harry Stovey (76.7)*
  5. Jimmy Sheckard (73.9)
  6. Bob Johnson (72.3)
  7. Charlie Keller (72.2)
  8. Jose Cruz (70.0)
  9. Mike Smith (67.6)
  10. Roy White (64.4)
  11. Bobby Veach (63.1)
  12. George Foster (62.0)
  13. Augie Galan (60.9)
  14. Albert Belle (58.6)

Tim Raines is the standout here, though Sherry Magee, Minnie Minoso, Harry Stovey, and even Bob Johnson have their ardent supporters.

I see Jose Cruz’s name here and I think he’s another perfect example of the Hall of Very Good. Some people think Albert Belle was a Hall of Famer, but really he’s on the Hall of Very Good borderline.

Center Field:

  1. Jim Wynn (95.1)*
  2. George Gore (82.9)*
  3. Paul Hines (77.9)*
  4. Cesar Cedeno (76.6)*
  5. Willie Davis (75.9)
  6. Tommy Leach (71.1)
  7. Dale Murphy (70.2)
  8. Bernie Williams (68.7)
  9. Vada Pinson (68.4)
  10. Chet Lemon (66.9)
  11. Fred Lynn (66.8)
  12. Mike Griffin (66.1)
  13. Fielder Jones (65.5)
  14. George Van Haltren (64.0)
  15. Brett Butler (63.2)
  16. Jimmy Ryan (61.7)
  17. Lenny Dykstra (61.7)
  18. Roy Thomas (61.0)
  19. Ellis Burks (60.8)
  20. Pete Browning (58.8)
  21. Amos Otis (56.5)
  22. Andy Van Slyke (55.8)
  23. Wally Berger (55.5)
  24. Devon White (54.4)
  25. Ben Chapman (54.0)

What’s interesting is that the Hall of wWAR is very light in center field. But the Hall of Very Good (by wWAR) features an abundance. We see this same phenomenon with pitchers, but I’ll get to that.

Jimmy Wynn is way out in front here, by far. His numbers don’t stand out to the naked eye, but once they are park and era adjusted, he rates well within Hall of Fane territory. I’m honestly not sure any other center fielders deserve induction.

Many players scream “Hall of Very Good” here—Willie Davis, Bernie Williams, Vada Pinson, Fred Lynn, Chet Lemon, Brett Butler, Lenny Dykstra, Ellis Burks, Andy Van Slyke—the list goes on…

Right Field:

  1. Larry Walker (98.8)*
  2. Reggie Smith (84.8)*
  3. Dwight Evans (84.6)*
  4. Bobby Bonds (80.6)*
  5. Jack Clark (70.8)
  6. Mike Tiernan (68.7)
  7. Rocky Colavito (67.0)
  8. Tony Oliva (63.1)
  9. Darryl Strawberry (60.9)
  10. Dixie Walker (58.7)
  11. Rusty Staub (58.5)
  12. Dave Parker (57.5)
  13. Roger Maris (55.8)
  14. Jose Canseco (55.4)
  15. Ken Singleton (54.3)

Once again, we have a player way out in front of the rest (Larry Walker). Like Wynn, his value is greatly affected by park factor and era adjustments. Unlike Wynn, both cut his value, rather than add to it.

Reggie Smith, Dwight Evans, and Bobby Bonds are all close together and certainly would not hurt the Hall of Fame. I prefer Evans over the other two, but that could also be some homerism talking.

Tony Oliva, Dave Parker, and Roger Maris have their supporters, but each perfectly fits into the Hall of Very Good, by wWAR. Other names here like Jack Clark, Rocky Covalito, Darryl Strawberry, Rusty Staub, and Ken Singleton fit well to me, too.

Designated Hitter:

  1. Edgar Martinez (100.5)*
  2. Brian Downing (65.5)

Brian Downing is a great example of the Hall of Very Good. Edgar Martinez is a great example of a Hall of Famer. If only…

Pitcher:

  1. Bob Caruthers (120.8)*
  2. Kevin Brown (95.9)*
  3. Wes Ferrell (93.2)*
  4. Rick Reuschel (91.9)*
  5. Charlie Buffinton (88.5)*
  6. Tony Mullane (88.4)*
  7. David Cone (86.5)*
  8. Luis Tiant (86.3)*
  9. Silver King (83.0)*
  10. Orel Hershiser (82.3)*
  11. Dave Stieb (80.3)*
  12. Bret Saberhagen (79.7)*
  13. Jim McCormick (78.6)*
  14. Kevin Appier (76.7)*
  15. Wilbur Wood (76.7)*
  16. Frank Tanana (76.2)*
  17. Billy Pierce (76.1)*
  18. Jerry Koosman (75.6)
  19. Chuck Finley (75.4)
  20. Tommy Bond (75.0)
  21. Urban Shocker (74.5)
  22. Larry Jackson (74.0)
  23. Carl Mays (73.0)
  24. Dwight Gooden (72.6)
  25. Babe Adams (72.4)
  26. Tommy John (72.4)
  27. Jack Stivetts (71.6)
  28. Tommy Bridges (71.4)
  29. Wilbur Cooper (70.3)
  30. Mark Langston (68.8)
  31. Noodles Hahn (68.6)
  32. Dizzy Trout (68.3)
  33. Bucky Walters (67.8)
  34. George Uhle (67.8)
  35. Bobby Mathews (67.4)
  36. Dolf Luque (66.9)
  37. Mickey Lolich (66.6)
  38. Steve Rogers (66.0)
  39. Vida Blue (66.0)
  40. Nap Rucker (65.5)
  41. Ron Guidry (64.5)
  42. Frank Viola (64.4)
  43. Dave Foutz (64.0)
  44. Jimmy Key (63.7)
  45. Lon Warneke (63.3)
  46. Jack Quinn (63.2)
  47. Sam McDowell (62.7)
  48. Jim Whitney (62.6)
  49. Jesse Tannehill (62.2)
  50. Bobo Newsom (61.7)
  51. Dennis Martinez (61.5)
  52. Fernando Valenzuela (61.2)
  53. Jim Kaat (60.5)
  54. Dick McBride (60.4)
  55. Hippo Vaughn (60.1)
  56. Bob Friend (60.1)
  57. Jon Matlack (59.0)
  58. Jack Powell (58.0)
  59. Jim Maloney (57.8)
  60. Al Orth (57.7)
  61. Harry Brecheen (57.6)
  62. Ted Breitenstein (56.9)
  63. Claude Osteen (56.8)
  64. Schoolboy Rowe (56.7)
  65. Curt Simmons (56.1)
  66. Mel Harder (56.1)
  67. Dutch Leonard, the right-handed one (55.8)
  68. Ned Garver (55.4)
  69. Guy Hecker (55.2)
  70. Doc White (55.0)
  71. Eddie Rommel (54.9)
  72. Bob Shawkey (54.9)
  73. Virgil Trucks (54.8)
  74. Nig Cuppy (54.7)
  75. Ed Reulbach (54.1)
  76. Jack Morris (54.0)
  77. Brad Radke (53.7)
  78. Tom Candiotti (53.4)
  79. Sam Leever (53.1)
  80. Murry Dickson (53.1)
  81. Claude Passeau (52.7)
  82. Camilo Pascual (52.4)

There are a lot of pitchers here.i noted that the Hall of wWAR is short on center fielders, but the Hall of Very Good is bursting with them. Well, the Hall of Very Good is bursting with pitchers. Does this mean the Hall of wWAR is short on them? If so, that’s interesting because the Hall of Fame and Hall of wWAR happen to have the same number of pitchers.

I’ll admit it—the list of pitchers outside of the Hall does not seem nearly as impressive as the list of hitters outside of the Hall. I wonder if it is because:

  1. The powers that be have done a fantastic job of electing pitchers, or
  2. The bar is much higher for pitchers than hitters.

I plan to look into this further. I really wonder if #2 is the reason. You see how highly a guy like Bert Blyleven ranks and then struggles to get in the Hall. Even Kevin Brown was one-and-done. I don’t think people realize how rare a pitcher like Curt Schilling, Mike Mussina, or Kevin Brown is.

#1 is not the reason. The Hall has plenty of Rube Marquards and Jesse Haineses. Then there’s Jack Morris. Voters and Veterans just seem to be looking for the wrong things.

Bert Blyleven was the first starting pitcher inducted since Nolan Ryan. Really?

The best pitchers not in, to me, correlate with wWAR. Give me Brown from the 20th century and Bob Caruthers from the 19th. Give me Wes Ferrell as the unique oddball, too. Add on his hitting stats and he’s downright Koufaxian. Caruthers, of course, gets a huge boost from his offense, too.

Next comes the group of Reuschel, Cone, Hershiser, Stieb, and Saberhagen. Luis Tiant is mixed in there too, but he has many more supporters (including yours truly) than the others. Why?

I need to do the research, but my hypothesis is that the Cone, Stieb, etc. of other generations eventually were inducted. I don’t see any pitchers in that group having a chance at induction, and that’s probably wrong. Was there really a lack of Hall-level pitchers between Blyleven/Ryan and the group about to hit the ballot?

I’m still not thrilled with how wWAR handles 19th century pitchers, so I’m not banging the drum for Charlie Buffinton, Tony Mullane, Silver King, or Jim McCormick. From that group, though, I lean towards Mullane and McCormick.

The Hall of Very Good features some really good names—Jim Kaat and Tommy John. Wilbur Wood and Frank Tanana. Vida Blue and Sam McDowell. Chuck Finley and Kevin Appier. Ron Guidry and Frank Viola. Fernando Valenzuela and Dennis Martinez.

Brad Radke and Jack Morris.

Gosh, a great book could be made just from these names alone.

Relief Pitcher:

  1. John Hiller (57.0)

The Hall of wWAR booted Hoyt Wilhelm, Bruce Sutter, and Rollie Fingers. Thanks to my generous reliever adjustments, Wilhelm and Sutter performed at the Hall of Very Good level. They are joined by the most underrated reliever—and perhaps the most underrated pitcher—in history: John Hiller.

Just a disclaimer here: this data may not quite be complete. The original net I cast for wWAR analysis was all players with 40+ WAR, but 30+ WAR for pitchers and 19th century hitters. So, there is a chance that some 30something WAR hitters with high peaks could sneak in here. If you think of any, please let me know.

And there we have it. I’m really looking forward to Sky and Marc’s book. I look forward to reading about several of these players—and of course, looking for players they include who are not listed here!

0 thoughts on “The Hall of Very Good, According to wWAR”

  1. Some thoughts:

    1.) So, all eligible, 20th century (or later) players with 100+ wWAR have been elected to the Hall, with the exception of Bagwell and Martinez, both of whom are still on the ballot and may yet be elected. Interesting. It’s neat when arbitrary, round numbers come to actually signify something. Convenient, anyway.

    2.) I’m more inclined to think of the 60+ wWAR guys as the Hall-of-Very-Good-type of players. The group in the 70s – well, many of them are Hall-of-Fame-type of players. Too bad the Hall doesn’t see it that way. The 50s gets to be a group so big that it’s really, really hard to differentiate one player from another. I’m more inclined to weight peak even a little more than Adam does, if there’s a really compelling case for a guy with a wWAR (which already takes peak into account, I know) in the 50s. I think a lot of guys with decent career length who were never really great players end up in the 50s, so I would have to see more separation to be sure. But that’s me.

    3.) Ellis Burks accumulated over 60 wWAR? Who knew?

    4.) The “Jack Clark Will Clark Phenomenon” should be studied by scientists. Two similar players with similar names from a similar time, and similar Hall of Fame cases. Also called the “Dwight Evans Darrell Evans Phenomenon,” or, in acting, the “Bill Pullman Bill Paxton Phenomenon.” First of all, are there other examples of this anyone can think of? I bring this up in particular because I’ve seen a lot of (digital) ink spilled (I suppose you don’t really “spill” it if it’s digital, but I don’t know the corresponding expression) about Evans, Evans, and W. Clark. I’d like to see a lot more spilled in Jack Clark’s favor.

    Jack certainly could have (and maybe should have) won the NL MVP in 1987. His three years in STL led to two pennants. 56.5 rWAR in his career, a 137 OPS+, and a guy who REALLY learned to take a walk late in his career to make himself a better player (485 walks in a 4-year span, leading the NL three of those years). I’d love to hear from someone who remembers him play, and someone who supports his candidacy.

  2. Keith Hernandez over Mattingly? Mattingly was a far superior offensive player and his defense was as good as Hernandez. If you recall, Hernandez did not have as strong an arm as Mattingly. Keith Hernandez is widely overrated!!!!!!

  3. Lets all not forget that the plyrs elected to the HOF are an OPINION of writers. nothing else. These voters, for the most part, cant even swing a bat and have no althletic talent what so ever. They know nothing more about baseball than you or I do. There for, who won the mvp or cy young is meaningless. Jeff bags, and L Walker, two of the best plyrs in the history of the sport are not in the hall??? enuf said

  4. @David: Thanks for the comment. I’ve been thinking a lot about what my “automatic induction” benchmark would be for wWAR. 100+ is definitely automatic. There are really only a couple guys over 90 that I waver on.

  5. @John: Yes, Hernandez over Mattingly. From a rate perspective, they were about even offensively. Hernandez had an OPS+ of 128 and Mattingly had a 127. Hernadez, however, played about two full seasons worth of games more than Mattingly. That’s a pretty huge gap. Defensively, Hernandez rates as the best first baseman of all time, by Total Zone. You may or may not agree with that, but even if Hernandez was BELOW average defensively (no chance), he’d still rate better than Mattingly.

    Mattingly’s top four seasons at the plate were better than Hernandez’s top four at the plate. But that’s where it stops. (And if you trust total zone, Hernandez actually had the slight edge overall in those four seasons.)

  6. @Adam

    The players on whom you waver – are those position players, or pitchers? I’m curious, because the position players I see are a pretty darn impressive group above 90. If they’re pitchers… well, I can see how Rick Reuschel mightn’t deserve induction. The only really “questionable” position players I see over 90 (again, only on this page; I’m not looking at the wWAR site) are maybe Jim Wynn, Thurman Munson, and a couple of 1B – McGwire (complicated by ‘roids) and Hernandez, whom you eloquently defended above. For me, though, those look pretty solid. As for pitchers, I wonder how much your opinions of, say a Reuschel might differ if you were to use a FIP-based pitching metric. He scores out well by that measure, too, though (not saying he’s who you had in mind, but in the above group, that’s the person by whom I’m given the most pause). I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  7. @David

    Let’s see… 90+ wWAR players I’m a little hesitant about—

    Larry Walker – I’m still getting used to him as a Hall of Famer. I never thought of it before seeing WAR. I’m fairly certain he belongs, but there’s some park factor voodoo I’m not 100% well-versed on. That said, I’m leaning heavily towards yes. He’s just not the guy like Trammell or Edgar that I’ve *ALWAYS* considered a Hall of Famer.

    Jim Wynn – Again, never thought of him that way before WAR. I’m less sold on him because the adjustments ADD to his value, rather than bring him down (like Walker). One point in Wynn’s favor is he’s the best not in at his position—by a TON.

    Rick Reuschel – I like Reuschel. Again, never thought of him as a HOFer before WAR. I need to do a study on starting pitchers. Why are the best pitchers not in less impressive than the hitters? Seems weird to me.

    Keith Hernandez – I always thought he was underrated… a borderline HOF type. WAR has him COMFORTABLY in the Hall of Fame. There’s a lot of first base fielding value you have to trust there, though. I guess I just consider him behind Bagwell, Allen, and McGwire, so I never really dug too deeply.

    Thurman Munson – I had a hunch he was underrated and wWAR agrees. I always liked Bill Freehan better, but Munson starts to distance himself with wWAR. If give the chance, I think he would have compiled enough to be thought of as a Hall of Famer (at the detriment of his rate stats).

    Granted, given a ballot today, I’d vote for all of these guys.

  8. Great write up, Adam. Interesting that John Hiller heads up the relievers. While I agree that he’s underrated, if you had said that the wWAR-leading relief pitcher was a left hander who played from the mid-60s to the late 70s, my first guess would have been Sparky Lyle.

  9. Great stuff as always, Adam. Speaking of Jim Wynn, I was recently looking at the best players who received little or no Hall of Fame support. Wynn, of course you know, received zero votes his only time on the ballot and his candidacy was over before it really started.

    But, what I was really surprised to learn about one of his contemporaries, is that Willie Davis never even appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot. Now, of course, you have to really trust total zone to see his value as high as WAR does, but the guy played 18 years, had 2500 hits, over 1000 RBI and runs scored, almost 400 SBs, and won three Gold Gloves.

    Crazy. He has to be the best player who never even made it on the ballot.

  10. @Brendan, I’ve got Hiller at 57.0 wWAR and Lyle at 34.0. Pretty big gap. Why?

    They start with a substantial WAR difference: Hiller has 28.2 to Lyle’s 19.6. But Hiller had the monster seasons. He gets a ton of value from his 6.9 WAR 1973 year and also had a pair of seasons at 4.2. Lyle topped off at 3.6 WAR, beating 3.0 two other times.

    Some of the difference also lies in their ERA+ difference (Hiller was 134 vs. Lyle’s 128). Their defense were also about two wins apart with Hiller’s being worse (and therefore giving him more WAR).

    The big seasons are definitely the big difference, though.

  11. @Dan, thanks for reading.

    Man, WIllie Davis wasn’t on the ballot? That is insane. I’ll always remember Davis because I wrote my first obituary at Beyond the Box Score about him and it was my first link from Neyer. It’s here: http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2010/3/10/1365930/willie-davis-underrated-ballplayer

    (You never forget your first.)

    In this post—http://joeposnanski.blogspot.com/2012/01/long-hall-of-fame-review.html—Joe Poz makes all star teams of players with zero and one Hall of Fame vote. I wonder what a team of guys who never appeared on the ballot would look like. Edgardo Alfonso stands out from this past ballot.

  12. @Dan– there are a number of Hall of Famers who never received a vote from the writers including Sam Thompson, Roger Connor, and Vic Willis. All played decades before the first election for Cooperstown.

    For players who were active after the museum’s founding in 1939 and theoretically could have been on the ballot but weren’t, three big names that come to mind are Cecil Travis, Vern Stephens, and Hal Trosky.

  13. As far as I can tell, from going through the voting results on baseball-reference and the Hall’s site, Davis was never on the ballot. Even guys who received zero votes show up on those lists. I looked at 1985 and the years around it and didn’t find him. There’s also no mention of HOF voting results on his baseball-reference page.

    Just read your Willie Davis obituary and the comments. Fascinated by the discussion of runs from ROE. This is way off topic, I realize, but wouldn’t a low strikeout total help boost a player’s standing in that category?

  14. @Dan

    Presumably, lower strikeouts means more balls in play. More balls in play, more errors. More errors, more reaching base on errors. More reaching base, more runs. However, I think this is, for the most part, very, very overstated by those who hate batter strikeouts. A strikeout is only slightly worse than any other out.

  15. Great article as usual but I must say that Steve Garvey, again, gets vastly inadequate consideration for the Hall Of Fame or at least the “Hall Of Very Good”. He was #2 in the NL for RBIs in the 1970s, played a great first base and was a significant contributor to 5 playoff teams. Statistically, he blows Mark Grace out of the water and was at least equivalent to Will Clark and John Olerud despite playing in a lesser offensive period.

  16. Hi Chuck, thanks for writing. Just to share my thinking on each of your points:

    1. RBI are a team stat. They depend on having guys in front of you. I have the feeling Will Clark was substantially better at driving in runners than Steve Garvey, but I don’t put enough stock into RBI to look it up.

    2. Total Zone has Garvey as a league average first basemen. Total Zone sometimes plays with our perceptions, but I’m just telling you where that came from.

    3. Playing for postseason teams—yes, Garvey gets a pretty nice boost (2.61) via wWAR for his playoff work. I do factor that in.

    4. “Statistically, he blows Mark Grace out of the water and was at least equivalent to Will Clark and John Olerud despite playing in a lesser offensive period.”

    Hoo boy. I’m going to leave Grace out of this for now and show that Garvey is nowhere close to WIll Clark or John Olerud.

    Garvey: .294/.329/.446 with an OPS+ of 116 (adjusted for era)
    Olerud: .295/.398/.465 with an OPS+ of 128 (adjusted for era)
    Clark: .303/.384/.497 with an OPS+ of 137 (adjusted for era)

    No contest here, Garvey is a distant third. Garvey did have a lot of hits. Let’s look at that:

    Garvey: 2599 hits, but 479 walks = 3107 times on base
    Olerud: 2239 hits and 1275 walks = 3602 times on base
    Clark: 2176 hits and 937 walks = 3172 times on base

    WAR?
    Garvey: 35.9
    Olerud: 56.8
    Clark: 57.6

    But you don’t agree with the defense. Olerud was a magnificent fielder and picks up about ten wins (9.7) from his Total Zone. Let’s make everyone a league average fielder:

    Garvey: 36.0
    Olerud: 47.1
    Clark: 56.5

    Let’s take all of Olerud’s defense away and give it to Garvey (a ludicrous thing to do):

    Garvey 45.7
    Olerud: 47.1
    Clark: 56.5

    Garvey interests me a great deal because many people actually see him as a Hall of Famer. But the numbers simply don’t back it up at all.

  17. Adam, what an amazing blog! The amount of research you’ve done here is pretty awesome. How long did it take you to compile all of this and write the article.?
    I do feel that Dick Allen deserves more consideration. Your take on Allen reminded me how powerfully negative and pervasive the first impressions were about Allen that the Philly press started. It all began with the Frank Thomas incident where the truth was not allowed to come out and Allen took all the blame. This initiated the downward spiral that eventually so incited the Philly fans who so hated their best player that he had to wear a batting helmut to protect himself when he was on the field (hence his nickname – Crash). There was still a great deal of race prejudice in baseball then and the sports writers were hardly immune to it, this was for sure true in Philly. Unfortunately despite the many teammates and even managers over the years that told the truth about Allen, it has done little good. This is especially so in large part because of Bill James who with his large influence once more spread unfounded lies about Allen being a “clubhouse cancer” to a whole new generation of baseball fans that never saw this awesome player.
    It would be much better if we could review his career for what it was and for what most of his peers had to say about him. His fielding may have not been the best, but he was an amazing power hitter, hitter for average, one of the fastest big men to ever play the game, had a good OBA and still ranks near the top in a handful of offensive categories.

  18. @Alvy, thanks for the insightful comment. As far as how long this all took to put together… Gosh, the research for my Hall of wWAR site was several months. Writing this was just a matter of chipping away over a week or so. Now that I have the data, it’s pretty easy to come up with ideas to write about.

    You may be interested in a post I just did about Dick Allen over at Beyond the Box Score. It was the final part of a series I’m quite proud of. Thanks for reading! http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2012/3/14/2868671/put-them-in-the-hall-of-fame-part-7-dick-allen-and-a-recap

  19. Thanks Adam. I believe the research took some months. That’s real dedication. And great job pulling it together so quickly.
    I appreciated your article on Allen. Your point about just going with what he did on the field both pro and con was a fine assessment. Sometime it would be worth sharing the reality of what happened to Allen. Under the circumstances it was amazing that he lasted as long as he did and did not act out worse. Among the players of his era in the 1960’s I think he had the roughest deal. There was a real good reason why Curt Flood did not want to go to Philly.
    I can tell you that as awesome as some of his stats are, he was the most amazing power hitter I ever saw. He loved to hit down on the ball for some reason. So many of his moon shots started out as low line drive bullets that would rise and rise. I do recall seeing Allen hit a ball so hard that it rocketed out to dead center field and bounced off the wall. It never wavered from about 10-15ft off the ground or so. As speedy as Allen was, the ball was hit so hard that all Allen got out of it was a single. On the video tape they showed in slow motion that Allen had so severely hitched his swing that the bat was parallel to the ground before he whipped it around and blasted that pitch. An amazing display of raw power.
    Thanks again for the great blog. I look forward to more!

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