menu

IBWAA Hall of Fame Vote – Players From Last Year’s Ballot

With the induction of Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey, Jr. coupled with Alan Trammell having fallen off the ballot, some of the glut that has been there in year’s past is no longer there.  Still, there are a number of people on the ballot who are deserving of Hall of Fame induction.

Before addressing who I did and who I did not vote for, it should be noted that I am not one who believes steroids users should be inducted into the Hall of Fame.  However, I do believe there needs to be some evidence of usage if you are going to deny someone of a vote.  For far too long Piazza was denied induction despite the complete lack of credible evidence against him.  This fate has also befallen Jeff Bagwell.  And no, my opinion on this did not change with the induction of Bud Selig.  One mistake should not beget another.

For example, Jesse Haines is considered one of the worst selections in major league history.  However, he is not used as a door to induct any starter with a 200 wins and an ERA above 3.50.  If that was the case, David Cone and Dwight Gooden would be kicking themselves over retiring before getting those last six wins.

That is why I typically compare players to the average Hall of Famer at that position.  Saying someone is similar to the worst player inducted only serves to reduce the quality of the players inducted.  To compare everyone to the best of the best excludes players who had truly remarkable careers.  With that said, I compare players to the average with some caveats.  First, you should get extra credit for postseason play.  Second, you should get extra credit for doing something better than anyone has at that position.  Third, winning hardware and awards do matter.  Note, I only treat those as bonuses and not detractors.

With that long preamble, here are the players I voted for in last year’s IBWAA balloting.  After re-examining the respective cases, I am once again voting for the following players:

Larry Walker

Career Stats: 17 seasons, .313/.400/.565, 471 2B, 62 3B, 383 HR, 1,311 RBI, 230 SB

Advanced: 72.6 WAR, 44.6 WAR7, 58.6 JAWS

Awards: 7X Gold Glove, 3X Silver Slugger, 5X All-Star, 1997 NL MVP

While Mark McGwire was generally seen as the test for whether steroids players would be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Walker has been the test case for players that have put up terrific offensive numbers at Coors Field.  So far, Walker has been penalized for playing in Coors Field, and many people have disregarded someone who has been one of the best right fielders to every play the game.

In his heyday, Walker was not only an outstanding hitter, he was an outstanding fielder as evidenced by his Gold Gloves.  He was  one of the most complete players of his generation.  Despite that, he is being discounted due to Coors Field where players put up proverbial video game numbers.

Yes, Walker did benefit from playing in Coors Field.  In his career, Walker was a .381/.462/.710 hitter.  However, it should be noted that on the road for his career, Walker was a 278/.370/.495 hitter.  Furthermore, in his six years with the Expos at the beginning of his career, he hit .281/.357/.483.  Reggie Jackson, who was a first ballot inductee, was a career .262/.356/.490 hitter.  Walker’s road and Expos numbers compare very favorably to Jackson.

With the Jackson comparison, the MVP Award, the Gold Gloves, and the advanced stats, Walker should be inducted into Cooperstown.

Jeff Kent

Stats: 17 seasons, .290/.356/.500, 560 2B, 47 3B, 377 HR, 1,518 RBI, 94 SB

Advanced: 55.2 WAR, 35.6 WAR7, 45.4 JAWS

Awards: 4X Silver Slugger, 5X All Star, 2000 NL MVP

There are many good reasons not to vote for Kent.  He was a corner infielder masquerading as a second baseman.  The advanced stats certainly don’t match up to the standard for induction into the Hall of Fame.  All of this is very true, but I voted for him anyway.

The reason is Kent is the best slugging second baseman in major league history, and he’s the best hitter at the position next to Rogers HornsbyAmong second baseman, he’s hit the most home runs, fourth most doubles, third highest RBI, and the second highest slugging percentage. When you add the 2000 MVP to the picture, there is enough there to say Kent deserves induction into Cooperstown.

Curt Schilling

Stats: 20 seasons, 216-146, 3.46 ERA, 83 CG, 22 SHO, 22 SV, 1.137 WHIP, 3,116 K

Advanced: 79.9 WAR, 49.0 WAR7, 64.5 JAWS

Awards: 6X All-Star, 1993 NLCS MVP, 2001 WS MVP

Many could look upon Schilling’s career, and they could lament over a relatively low win total and high ERA.  However, that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Schilling.

Looking at Schilling’s advanced numbers, he certainly has done enough to earn induction into the Hall of Fame.  His WAR and JAWS are above the average for Hall of Fame pitchers.  His 127 ERA+ is the same as Tom Seaver‘s.  In terms of more traditional stats, Schilling is in the Top 15 on the career strike out list.  He is also has the second best K/BB ratio among players eligible for the Hall of Fame.  These numbers alone should warrant induction.

On top of that, Schilling is the definition of a Big Game Pitcher.  In his postseason career, Schilling was 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA and a 0.968 WHIP.  In the World Series, Schilling was 4-1 with a 2.06 ERA and a 0.896 WHIP.  He has won an NLCS MVP and a World Series MVP.  He was a key member of three World Series winning clubs.  Between his postseason heroics and his regular season dominance, Schilling is a Hall of Famer.

Overall, if we are being honest, the reason Schilling won’t be inducted this year or the upcoming years will be a result of his post-career actions.

Mike Mussina

Stats: 18 seasons, 270-153, 3.68 ERA, 57 CG, 23 SHO, 1.192 WHIP, 2,813 K

Advanced: 83.0 WAR, 44.5 WAR7, 63.8 JAWS

Awards: 6X Gold Glove, 5X All-Star

At age 39, Mussina finally got to the elusive benchmark of 20 wins in a season.  Judging from that year, it appeared he had an extra couple of years left in him to go make a run at 300 like many in his shoes would have.  Certainly, with his conditioning and the like, he had at least three years left in him to get it, and if he had, he likely would have been elected into the Hall of Fame without much of a fight.

However, Mussina did not get to that magical number leaving us to examine what was an interesting and a very good career.

To appropriately view Mussina, it needs to be within the context of his era.  Mussina not only played during the Steroids Era, but he also pitched in a bandbox like Camden Yards for the majority of his career.  It is a huge reason why that despite his relatively high 3.68 ERA for Hall of Fame standards, Mussina has a career 123 ERA+.  His 123 ERA+ is the same as Juan Marichal who pitched in a different era, had a career 2.89 ERA, and was a inducted his fourth time on the ballot.

Mussian’s ERA+ is also much higher to first ballot Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan and his 112 ERA+.  What is interesting about that is despite being completely different pitchers with very different careers, Mussina and Ryan have similar cases from an advanced stat point of view.  Despite having pitched in nine more seasons than Mussina, Ryan actually trails Mussina in career WAR.  Ryan also trails Mussina in WAR7 and JAWS.

This is not to diminish Ryan’s career.  He was a first ballot Hall of Famer for a reason.  He was a 300 game winner with more strikeouts and no-hitters than anyone in baseball history.  Despite these tremendous stats, it is arguable that Mussina was a the superior pitcher to Ryan.  When you can create a valid argument why someone was a better pitcher than a no-doubt Hall of Famer like Ryan, you belong in the Hall of Fame; and ultimately, that is why Mussina belongs in Cooperstown.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *