Those of you with long memories may remember that I have my own Hall of Fame rating scale. It is a purely objective system, based only on the player’s season by season WARP ratings – no postseason, no All-Star games, no subjective flash, no drugs, no gambling. It isn’t meant to be perfect, and it isn’t meant to simulate who is actually in.
The system is based on what I called the player’s “MVP Career” score. It is just a weighted average of the player’s WARP3 scores, and I called it “MVP Career” because it used a similar weighting system as the MVP ballot. The player’s best season gets counted 14 times. His second-best season gets counted 9 times, his third-best 8 times, and so on. Everything from the 10th-best season through the end of his career gets counted once. So longevity will help build a score, but for the most part you have to have a strong peak to have a high enough score to get in. The best score in history belongs to Babe Ruth, at 785; 6 players have a 600+, 34 have 500+, 145 score 400, and 484 score 300.
One thing that does make my Hall system different from other systems – like Jaffe’s JAWS or James’s Monitor – is that it has no set value to decide whether a player is in or out. Like the real Hall, the selection is serial. I have a defined size for the Hall – and the top available players needed to fill it get in.
I defined the size of my Hall by looking at the size of the real Hall, and comparing it to the number of teams in major league history. It turns out that the real Hall of Fame has inducted about one member for every 12 team-seasons – that number may have drifted a bit since I first did the study however many years ago, but it provides a nice, workable number.
Like the real Hall, I started my calculations from 1936. At that time, there should already have been 70-odd players in the Hall, based on the number of teams in history then. But I set rules that more or less mirrored the behavior of the real Hall. I limited the entry class for any given year to 5 initially, then dropped it to 4 after a few years, and then to 3 – until the Hall had caught up to size. I imposed a five-year wait for all players to become eligible (even dead ones; sorry), and gave them a 15-year window of eligibility (the 15-year window only kicked in at 1960). My first class matched the real Hall on three of them – Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, and Walter Johnson. I have Pete Alexander ranked higher than Christy Mathewson, and so reversed their real-life induction years. And I also moved Nap Lajoie up a year, because Babe Ruth wasn’t eligible for me until 1941.
So, with 30 teams in the majors, I have a Hall that grows by either 2 or 3 players a year. The best 2 (or 3) players available at that time are my inductees (which helps to limit the consequences of, say, any bias in the WARP rating system over time). There are players who do wait multiple years before breaking through. The score needed to get you in varies with time. In the 60s and 70s, some inductees had scores barely over 300; today, players with a 400 score cannot be certain of getting in.
This year, 2018, was a 3 year – the program says I have room for Hall members #227, #228, and #229. The three best players available to me, my own inductees for 2018, were
Jorge Posada, 437. Sadly, dropped from the writer’s ballot last year.
Scott Rolen, 426. Received only 10% of the vote this year.
Sammy Sosa, 422 . Received only 8%, pays a hefty PED penalty.
Looking over the rest of the writer’s voting:
Chipper Jones – Jones has a 409 career score, and for my purposes trails Scott Rolen. I have a huge defensive split between them, with Rolen at +115 runs for his career and Jones at -160, easily enough to explain the difference between their scores and their perceptions. One of the features, if you will, about my set-up is that I can tell you right now what the selections are for the next five years, based on players who did not play in 2017, assuming no one un-retires. Chipper ranks as my third runnerup in 2018, and will remain among the top 5 runners-up until finally making it in in 2022.
Vladimir Guerrero – 369 career MVP score. Does not make my ballot, and never makes the top 5 runners-up. He only has 1 truly outstanding season for me, a 9.0 WARP3 in 2004 which was third-best in the league. He only had one other season above 6, two more over 5. I have him ranked 24th among all right fielders – that doesn’t quite make it.
Jim Thome – 410. Thome is my second runnerup in 2018, one spot ahead of Chipper. He’s set to break through in 2021
Trevor Hoffman – 380. Hoffman’s score is the third best score for a relief pitcher, better even then Eckersley (377), Gossage (365), Fingers (342), or Wilhelm (310). Due to the vagaries of the system, Wilhelm and Eckersley made it into my Hall (in 1979 and 2004; Gossage was first runnerup 4 different times but never broke through). Hoffman never breaks into the top 5 also-rans.
Edgar Martinez – 466. I set a player’s position by where he recorded the most WARP3, not games played. For me, Ernie Banks is a shortstop, not a first baseman. And Edgar Martinez is a DH, and he ranks as the best DH ever, ahead of Paul Molitor (433, inducted 2004) and David Ortiz (423, scheduled to go in with A-Rod and Chipper Jones in 2022). Martinez went in for me on his first ballot in 2010.
Mike Mussina – 435. Mussina went in for me in 2016, his third ballot.
Roger Clemens – 609. Clemens has the second highest pitching score ever, behind only Walter Johnson’s 687. Without PEDs, there is no doubt that Clemens would be in – and I mean that in every sense of the word, because he did enough before ever touching PEDs to earn a spot. My system makes no allowance for moral failings, any more than it did for Joe Jackson (1941) or Pete Rose (1993). He was part of a two-man class to make my Hall in 2013.
Barry Bonds – 749. The other member of my 2013 class, and most of what I just said about Clemens fits here too. He has the second highest MVP score in history, behind only Ruth. Also noteworthy that his father‘s 355 score was good enough to make the Hall in 1987, giving me a father/son duo.
Curt Schilling – 392. Another example where outside controversy won’t follow a player into my system, but his score isn’t going to be enough to get him in. He was the third runnerup in 2013, dropped to fifth in 2014, and hasn’t made the top 5 since. He’ll be in the running for best score that doesn’t make it in.
Omar Vizquel – 254. A player who is only listed on the ballots because of his defense, but I only give him +56 for his career. I do believe that is too low. I have a couple of programs I have played around with over the years, one that compares fielders against other fielders behind the same pitcher, and another that controls for opposing hitters. With his pitchers, Vizquel was only about 33 plays above average, which would be about +25 runs; but controlling for opposing hitters, he’s +218 plays. That would be good for an extra 100 runs or so, and would be more in keeping with his popular image, but still wouldn’t compare to Ozzie Smith (+586) or Mark Belanger (+347) using the same scale. A 254 score only makes him the 63rd best shortstop in history, and doesn’t come close to Hall standards.
Larry Walker – 318, 44th best in right field.
Fred McGriff – 316, 36th best among first basemen. That comparison to opposing hitters I was talking about with Vizquel? McGriff has a -223 on that, the worst career total for any first baseman.
Manny Ramirez – 449. Ramirez managed to outslug his awful defensive numbers, and earn a score that got him into my Hall in 2017.
Jeff Kent – 402. Kent has been among the top 5 runners-up for five straight years, and will be there again in 2020-22. I think he’ll make it in the 2024-26 timeframe, but it depends on how some of the currently active players ahead of him (Pujols, Mauer, Bautista, Cano) spread out their retirements. The longer they hold on, the better for Kent.
Billy Wagner – 337. Ranks 8th among relievers but has no shot.
Gary Sheffield – 436. Made my Hall in 2016.
Scott Rolen – 426. Made my Hall this year.
Sammy Sosa – 422. Made my Hall this year, his sixth on the ballot.
Andruw Jones – 361. 17th ranked center fielder, better than a couple of center fielders (Cy Seymour and Duke Snider) who did get in.
Johan Santana – 417. Santana was my first runner-up this year. He’ll be first runner-up again next year, when two first-time players (Mariano Rivera and Roy Halladay) step ahead of him, and then he joins my Hall in 2020. He had a short, sharp career – I give him at least a 7.8 WARP for five straight seasons, which is more than I can say for, oh, Sandy Koufax or Dizzy Dean, both of whom are in my Hall and the real Hall. And not even 5% of the writers would give him their vote.
Jamie Moyer – 329. Has a score of 311 just from his seasons after age 33, which is 15th all-time. And special to me, since he was the last player older than I was playing in the major leagues.
Hideki Matsui – 223.
Kerry Wood – 231.
Chris Carpenter – 298.
Livan Hernandez – 243.
Carlos Lee – 227.
Carlos Zambrano – 284.
Brad Lidge – 208.
Kevin Millwood – 253.
Aubrey Huff – 262.
Orlando Hudson – 252.
Jason Isringhausen – 178.
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