Hall of Fame
Scott Rolen was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame on his sixth year on the ballot. It took way to too long for one of the best third basemen ever, but he’s where he belongs.
For some bizarre reason, people were unwilling to accept it even though Rolen is a top nine third baseman by WAR. However, it is more than just WAR.
When you’ve done something only Mike Schmidt has done, you’re a Hall of Famer. That’s now officially true of Rolen.
Rolen’s induction is a testament that defense matters. More than that, great defense can make you a Hall of Famer. That’s why his WAR was so high.
That what got lost on people as they made laughable cases for players like Don Mattingly. There were also arguments made for Dale Murphy or Keith Hernandez (who actually should be in the Hall of Fame).
Here’s the thing, Rolen was a third baseman, and they’re not. First baseman and center fielders should be used for those players.
That said, Rolen’s induction should serve as a bellwether for another third baseman. Rolen’s induction should prompt the Veteran’s Committee to induct Graig Nettles.
Like Rolen, Nettles was a great defensive player who won two Gold Gloves. He would’ve won more if not for Brooks Robinson.
Nettles has the third and fifth best defensive seasons by a third baseman. He’s fifth all-time in defensive WAR, one spot ahead of Rolen.
In his career, Nettles had a 68.0 WAR, which is just 2.1 behind Rolen and 0.4 behind the average Hall of Fame third baseman. Nettles is also just behind Rolen in WAR7 and JAWS while he’s ahead of the average Hall of Fame third baseman.
Nettles also won two World Series titles and was the 1981 ALCS MVP. Overall, he was a great player worthy of enshrinement.
Despite that, he fell off the ballot in three years. That’s a reflection of the arcane standards of yore, but we know better now.
This is why there’s a Veteran’s Committee. It’s to induct players like Nettles who should’ve been inducted over a decade ago. Like Rolen, Nettles (and Hernandez) belong in the Hall of Fame.
The Baseball Hall of Fame announced the “Contemporary Baseball Era Committee” ballot. In the common vernacular, it’s time for the Veteran’s Committee to vote on what is a highly controversial ballot likely to induce controversial results.
After that, there are a number of players with interesting cases. That is all except Don Mattingly. For his part, Mattingly has no business being on this ballot.
This is the romanticism of his career. He was a New York Yankee for his entire career. He was the only true great Yankee never to win a World Series. In fact, he’d only play in one postseason.
When you strip it all down, back injury or not, he was not close to the Hall.
Mattingly had a 42.4 WAR/35.8 WAR7/39.1 JAWS. That puts him in the same boat as Adrian González, who retired with similar numbers and had similar back injuries.
Keep in mind, no one is going to give González real Hall of Fame consideration. That’s even with him having a better WAR than Mattingly and having some postseason success.
Put Mattingly aside. The Hall of Fame was founded in 1936. In the ensuing 86 years, 25 first baseman have been inducted. They’ve averaged a 65.5 WAR/42.1 WAR7/53.8 JAWS.
Mattingly comes nowhere close to measuring up. Putting him on this ballot is a farce. It’s outright criminal when a vastly superior player in Keith Hernandez wasn’t placed on that ballot.
Aside from Bonds, he’s the only player at his position to have the most Gold Gloves at his position and not be inducted into the Hall of Fame. With respect to Bonds, that may well change, but it can’t now with Hernandez.
Hernandez was the 1979 NL MVP. He’s won 11 Gold Gloves. He was the New York Mets first captain. He’s won two World Series. In sum, this should all lead to his Hall of Fame induction.
However, whoever decided to create this ballot omitted Hernandez (and other worthy candidates like Lou Whitaker) for Mattingly. It’s a farce because Hernandez was far superior.
Hernandez had a 60.3 WAR/41.3 WAR7/50.8 JAWS. His WAR was 17.9 higher than Mattingly. His WAR7 was 5.5 higher, and his JAWS was 11.7 higher.
What’s fascinating there is the argument for Mattingly is his prime. However, as viewed by the prism of WAR7 and JAWS, Hernandez had the better prime.
While the claim is Mattingly was the better hitter, again, the numbers don’t bear that out. Mattingly had a 127 OPS+ and 124 wRC+. Hernandez had a 128 OPS+ and a 131 wRC+.
We all know Hernandez was also the superior fielder. That means Hernandez was a better hitter, fielder, and leader.
Put another way, Mattingly doesn’t belong in the same conversation as Hernandez. As noted, he’s in a conversation with Adrian González.
The Hall of Fame flat out got it wrong. Omitting Hernandez in favor of Mattingly was an inexcusable error in judgment. The only hope is the next time Hernandez is eligible, this error is not repeated, and Hernandez is rightfully and finally inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Well, as we have learned, Clemens is mentally unstable. Yes, it is an appropriate way to describe Clemens. After all, how else would you describe someone who throws a 90+ MPH fastball at someone’s head because he hits extraordinarily well against you?
This was all premeditated. Clemens didn’t intimidate Piazza, so Clemens needed to go out there and try to injure Piazza. Concussing him wasn’t sufficient for Clemens. In Game 2 of the 2000 World Series, Clemens would take it a step further by throwing a bat at an unsuspecting Piazza.
Clemens excuse he thought it was the ball was always absurd, and people like Joe Torre embarrassed themselves when they made the claim Clemens thought it was the ball. Were we really supposed to believe a then 17 year MLB veteran thought a ball hit back to the mound should be fired towards the batter? If you look at the video again, Clemens looks at Piazza while throwing the bat.
Well, time has elapsed since their last encounter. That includes the very awkward situation in the 2004 All Star Game when both were elected starters leaving Piazza to catch Clemens. That led to the hilarious accusations Piazza was tipping off American League batters. What made that moment even better for Piazza was the fact the game was played in Clemens’ home ballpark and hometown of Houston.
You could claim that was revenge for Piazza, but as we were all told growing up, the best revenge is living well. On that front, Piazza is happily married with three children. He has also seen his number 31 retired by the New York Mets, and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016.
With respect to Clemens, he was on the ballot for 10 years, and he never received the 75% needed for induction. As a result, Clemens has not been voted into the Hall of Fame, and there is no telling when he will be up for consideration by the Veteran’s Committee. It should also be noted no franchise has retired his number including the Yankees who retired everyone’s number under the Steinbrenners.
In the end, despite all Clemens tried to do to injure Piazza and potentially end his career, Piazza got the last laugh. He has a plaque in Cooperstown Clemens does not have and perhaps may never receive.
Somehow, David Ortiz was the only player voted into the by the BBWAA. Every single way you look at it, this was just ridiculous, and you can only conclude the best way to get into the Hall of Fame is to be nice to reporters.
First and foremost, it is without question Ortiz failed the same PED test Sammy Sosa did. This is not up for debate. While Rob Manfred can come to his rescue, he noticeably didn’t for Sosa even if the defenses presented for Ortiz apply to Sosa.
It must also be noted Sosa was a far superior player. Sosa had a 58.6 WAR and 609 homers. Ortiz had a 55.3 WAR and 541 homers. It should also be noted Sosa won an MVP.
On the topic of MVPs who are tainted by PEDs, this was Barry Bonds‘ 10th and final year on the ballot. As we know, Bonds didn’t garner the requisite 75% needed for induction.. As a result, he will not be a problem for the Veteran’s Committee, the same committee which inducted Bud Selig despite all of his transgressions which including his part in the steroid era drama.
Unequivocally, Bonds was a the far superior player. It should also be noted Bonds never tested positive whereas Ortiz did test positive. The key difference between the two players is Bonds was cantankerous, and Ortiz made himself a caricature. Yes, it was a caricature. After all, this is the same Ortiz who threw bats at umpires and did not permit anyone other than himself celebrating on the field.
Another player who never tested positive was Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod was only able to garner 34.3% of the vote despite his being a far superior player to Ortiz in every way. What’s interesting about that is Ortiz and A-Rod both trained with Angel Presinal, a trainer banned by MLB for his administering PEDs to players and advising them how to beat tests.
Think about that. Bonds and Rodriguez were far superior players to Ortiz. Bonds and Rodriguez never tested positive, but the press didn’t like them, but they loved Ortiz. That’s the only difference. The love of Ortiz meant more than PED use or numbers.
That goes for Manny Ramirez who wasn’t liked despite his vastly superior 69.3 WAR and 154 OPS+. That goes double for Gary Sheffield who had a 60.5 WAR and admitted to taking illegal substances because he was duped by Bonds and Balco. If Sheffield was nicer to the press, maybe all of that would be ignored, and he would be a Hall of Famer today.
Really, look up and down this ballot, and you realize Ortiz shouldn’t have been inducted in the Hall of Fame. Case-in-point, he was the 16th best player on the ballot. Ironically, right ahead of him was Jeff Kent, a player who hasn’t been able to gain much traction because of his defense. Just imagine a voter holding Kent’s defense against him while casting a vote for a DH. Then again, Kent wasn’t renown for being cooperative with the press
If you think things are bad for Kent, consider Tim Hudson. He had a 57.9 WAR with no hint of any PED use during his career. He failed to garner the requisite five percent of the vote to stay on the ballot. Read that again, Hudson was a more productive player accumulating a higher WAR and having a higher WAR per season, and he couldn’t stay on the ballot while Ortiz was a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Just when you think the hypocrisy has gone too far, consider the case of Omar Vizquel. Last year, Vizquel received 49.1% of the vote. When domestic violence allegations came to light, Vizquel became the rate Hall of Fame candidate to see his vote total drop. In fact, it plummeted to 23.9%. Of course, Ortiz’s history on the subject was never contemplated.
Again, it all goes back to Ortiz being a caricature who was nice to the press. Curt Schilling was far superior to him, but he’s not in because he was downright nasty to reporters. The same goes for many of the PED users who did not get inducted. Selecting Hall of Famers based purely on how nice they were to you is ridiculous, and it is an embarrassment to the Hall of Fame and the BBWAA.
Everyone deserves better. Well, everyone except Ortiz. He didn’t deserve or merit this honor, but he got it anyway.
With all due respect to Jayson Stark of The Athletic, Jimmy Rollins isn’t close to being a Hall of Famer. While he seems to be on track to somehow crack the 5% to stay on the ballot, he shouldn’t stay on for long.
Rollins had a terrific career. In his 17 year career, he hit .264/.324/.418 with 511 doubles, 115 triples, 231 homers, and 936 RBI while stealing 470 bases.
On the advanced stat side, he had a 47.6 WAR, 95 OPS+, 95 wRC+, and a 50 DRS.
He was a three time All-Star, four time Gold Glover, and the 2007 NL MVP. He was also a member of the World Series winning 2008 Philadelphia Phillies.
Again, great career. It’s just not a Hall of Fame one.
The average Hall of Fame shortstop has a 67.7 WAR, 43.2 WAR7, and a 55.5 JAWS. Rollins had a 47.6 WAR, 32.7 WAR7, and a 40.1 JAWS.
Put another way, the entirety of his 17 year career was the equivalent of the seven peak seasons of a Hall of Fame shortstop. That’s how much his career lagged behind the standard.
On that front, Rollins wasn’t a great postseason player. Over his 50 games played, he only hit .246/.308/.364. Out of the 11 postseason series he played in, he had an OPS higher than .624 three times.
No, a player’s career shouldn’t be discredited for postseason struggles. However, you can’t look to his postseasons as a reason to try to bolster his career.
Overall, Rollins had a great career. The Phillies should have him on their Wall of Fame, and he should be under consideration for having his number retired.
However, no matter how magnanimous he was, and no matter how much of a leader he might’ve been, his is a career which fell well short of Hall of Fame standards. It’s a shame because Rollins was as like-able, and hard working a player as they come.
Heading into the 2020 season, Jacob deGrom was definitively the best pitcher on the planet. He was coming off back-to-back Cy Young awards, and he was doing things only Hall of Fame pitchers do. Certainly, the Hall of Fame was on deGrom’s mind as he told us all he wanted to be an inner circle Hall of Famer.
Certainly, deGrom was well on his way to carving a path to the Hall of Fame. After all, he was fifth all-time in ERA+. He was bettering Tom Seaver‘s New York Mets records. He was otherworldly great. Think Pedro Martinez in 1999 and 2000.
Then, the pandemic struck. The 2020 season was shortened, and deGrom would suffer an injury which would just about end his chances of winning a third straight Cy Young. deGrom would being the 2021 season pitching better than he ever has, which is saying something. However, again injury would strike limiting deGrom to just 15 starts. Despite the injury, he still finished in the top 10 in the Cy Young voting.
However, for deGrom, it isn’t about Cy Youngs. Well, it is in part, but that is just part of the larger picture. Really, when it comes to deGrom’s career, it is about two things: (1) World Series rings; and (2) the Baseball Hall of Fame.
As of this moment, he has a 43.4 WAR with a 40.8 WAR7 and a 42.1 JAWS. The average Hall of Fame pitcher has a 73.0 WAR, 49.8 WAR, and a 61.4 JAWS. That puts the 33 year old deGrom in an interesting position.
Right now, he is 39.6 WAR behind the average Hall of Fame pitcher. For WAR7, he is only 6.4 behind the average Hall of Famer. He is 19.7 behind the average Hall of Famer in terms of JAWS. In some ways, that is actually achievable for deGrom.
Consider from 2018-2019, deGrom AVERAGED an 8.9 WAR (pitching only). If he puts together another two year stretch like that, and as we saw last year, he can, deGrom would have a 61.2 WAR. That puts him within an ear shot of the 73.0 mark. More than that, his peak numbers will be through the roof. He will have a 51.7 WAR7, which would be a giant step above the current standard. His JAWS would then be 56.5, which would be a hair behind the standard.
Keep in mind, narrative matters. As we see with players like Sandy Koufax having an absolutely dominant peak at a higher level than anyone else matters. That would certainly describe deGrom if he can put 2-3 great seasons under his belt.
On that front, this could be where Max Scherzer helps him. Scherzer was a pitcher who did not look like a Hall of Famer until he turned 28. From that point forward, he put together a stretch of nine consecutive Cy Young and Hall of Fame caliber seasons. If there is anyone who knows what a pitcher needs to do from their mid-30s to stay dominant towards their 40s, it is Scherzer.
With deGrom having a true peer in Scherzer in the rotation, not only will deGrom have a better opportunity to win a World Series, but he will also increase his Hall of Fame chances. Whenever the lockout ends, deGrom’s path towards the Hall of Fame and a World Series title will begin anew.
Now, Bonds and Clemens have complicated their Hall of Fame cases more than anyone. Each have had their respective criminal cases related to the steroids, and each have had significant off the field issues with Bonds’ abusive behavior and Clemens’ inappropriate relationships.
Really, the cases against Bonds and Clemens run much deeper than steroids. To that point, you can understand their failure to receive the needed vote.
That’s not really the case with Sosa. He denied using PEDs at the congressional hearing even though it was revealed he tested positive during the survey testing. To a certain extent, there was the corked bat incident.
Beyond that, Sosa was the first man to hit 60 homers in consecutive seasons. He helped transform the Chicago Cubs into contenders. His running to right field with an American flag post 9/11 still gives many goosebumps.
All told, Sosa had a 58.6 WAR, and he hit 609 homers. Before delving into whether those are Hall of Fame worthy numbers, just keep it in consideration.
The steroids case against Sosa is the same against Ortiz as both tested positive in the survey testing. Again, this is the same test results which have kept Sosa out of the Hall of Fame.
Ortiz is a known hot head. He couldn’t handle teams returning the favor for celebrations, and he’s thrown bats at umpires. Considering Mike Piazza and the 2000 World Series, throwing bats at people is something else Ortiz has in common with Clemens.
Through it all, he had a 55.3 WAR and 541 homers. That puts him a significant step behind Sosa. Again, he’s doing better in voting than Sosa.
This has kept Sheffield out of the Hall of Fame. He has a 60.5 WAR with 509 homers.
Overall, in terms of performance on the field, Bonds, Clemens, Rodriguez, Sheffield, and Sosa had far superior careers than Ortiz. Despite that, Ortiz testing positive and working with MLB banned trainers has had zero impact on his Hall of Fame case like it did with the others.
For reasons that confound reason, nothing sticks to Ortiz. He’s allowed to cheat and throw bats at people. He’s allowed to use banned trainers. While all of these things in the singular have proven fatal to others Hall of Fame chances, it appears it won’t fit Ortiz.
Because of this and many more reasons, if he’s elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame, it would be a complete and utter farce.
The Veteran’s Committee inducted six new members to the Baseball Hall of Fame: Bud Fowler, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, and Buck O’Neil. For most of these players, their induction righted a long standing wrong. However, it did something else. It lowered the bar on what is truly a Hall of Fame level player.
Putting aside O’Neil, who spent his career in the Negro Leagues and was inducted for more than just his playing days, and Fowler, who played in the 1800s, the players inducted were not up to the level of what we have seen of recent Hall of Famers. Of course, that’s not really news with players like Harold Baines being inducted three years ago.
This is what the Veteran’s Committee typically does. For every wrong they right, they also proceed to lower the bar on what is and what is not a Hall of Famer. Consider, the WAR/WAR7/JAWS for each of the new inductees:
- Hodges 43.9/33.7/38.8
- Kaat 50.5/38.1/34.4
- Minoso 53.8/39.7/46.7
- Oliva 43.0/38.6/40.8
By standards for each position, each one of these players falls far short. As a result, it does open the door for players who were once seen not Hall of Fame worthy for various reasons. One such player would be David Wright, who would’ve probably been a lock for the Hall of Fame if not for his back injury robbing him the rest of his career.
In his 14 year career, Wright posted a 49.2/39.5/44.3. His WAR would be third highest amongst that group despite his career being far shorter than that group. His WAR7 would be second best and his JAWS second best despite the end of his prime being robbed from him. Just think about that. Wright didn’t get to have a full career, and he still posted better numbers than players who had lengthy and storied careers.
What Wright was able to do in his brief career was remarkable. If he was able to have 1-2 more full seasons, he very likely would have easily cleared the bar for Hall of Fame induction. That goes double when you consider he would have had the benefit of being able to be inducted after spending his entire career with the Mets, and perhaps, some boost from his play in the World Baseball Classic (not all that likely).
In the end, Wright’s career will always be defined by what ifs. What if Jon Niese covered third. What if the Wilpons treated his career with more concern. What if Carlos Beltran doesn’t strike out. What if Terry Collins had a clue in the 2015 World Series. Mostly, what if he stayed healthy.
Whatever the case, based on what we saw with the recent inductions, Wright’s career has now risen to the caliber of Hall of Fame worthy. While it’s likely the writers will overlook him, based on recent standards, we may very well see him inducted by the Veteran’s Committee one day.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame has announced the players eligible for vote by the Veteran’s Committee. Yes, it’s technically the Golden Day Era Committee, but it’ll always be the Veteran’s Committee.
Perhaps the biggest name on the list is Gil Hodges.
If you’re a New York Mets fan or Brooklyn Dodgers fan, it at least seems that way. For decades, we’ve heard people wax poetic about Hodges. There’s good reason for it too.
Hodges was a fan favorite. He was an eight time All-Star and three time Gold Glover. He won two World Series as a player including being part of the iconic 1955 Dodgers.
Hodges also pulled off a miracle. He took a Mets team who was the laughingstock of laughingstocks and led them to the 1969 World Series title.
There are many things you can write and say about Hodges. Unfortunately, one of them isn’t Hall of Famer.
As the story goes, Hodges would’ve been one if not for a Ted Williams power trip. Hodges had the votes to be indicted by the Veteran’s Committee, but Williams disallowed Roy Campanella‘s vote because he wasn’t present at the meeting.
If Campanella was there instead of the hospital, Hodges would be in the Hall of Fame. Except, he wasn’t, and honestly, he shouldn’t be.
You’ll see his ardent supporters making a case for him. They’ll point to the 100 RBI seasons and where he was on the home run leaderboard. There’s other arguments as well. While it sounds good, it masks how he falls short.
Over his 18 year career, Hodges amassed a 43.9 WAR and 120 OPS+. Looking at Hall of Fame indicators, Hodges had a 33.7 WAR7 and 38.8 JAWS.
The average Hall of Fame first baseman has a 66.9 WAR, 42.7 WAR7, and a 54.8 JAWS. These marks leave Hodges well short.
This isn’t to denigrate these players or Hodges, but none of them are Hall of Famers. The same goes for players like Will Clark, Mark Grace, and Don Mattingly, each of whom had better careers which still didn’t reach the level of the Hall of Fame.
Maybe with a longer managerial career, Hodges moves above them and into Hall of Fame status. However, even with that miracle run, he was 93 games under .500 in his nine years as a manager.
Overall, Hodges is an iconic figure for two franchises. He had a great career, one that shouldn’t be criticized. Unfortunately, it was one short of being Hall of Fame worthy.
One of the unspoken parts of the Francisco Lindor extension discussions was Steve Cohen and the New York Mets had the opportunity to add another Hall of Famer to the franchise. With the 10 year/$341 million contract, the Mets did just that.
Point is, it doesn’t matter where your career began. What matters is where you spent the bulk of your career and had the greatest impact. With a 10 year deal, Lindor will be in line to wear a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.
Make no mistake, Lindor will be a Hall of Famer.
Consider for a moment, the average Hall of Fame shortstop has a 43.1 WAR7 and a 55.3 JAWS. So far, through five-and-a-half seasons, Lindor is at a 27.9. If he continues his 5.3 WAR/year production over his first five years, he’ll hit a 37.4.
That’s right behind the 43.1 mark. However, it should be noted Lindor is entering his prime. He’s entering his prime after already establishing himself as a 30 home run, 100 RBI shortstop.
Shortstops with 125+ HR and 8+ dWAR before their age-27 season:
• Cal Ripken Jr.
• Francisco Lindor pic.twitter.com/4OxSlb4wWE
— Danny Vietti (@DannyVietti) March 31, 2021
#Mets Francisco Lindor has played 777 career games.
Through first 777 games:
Francisco Lindor – .285/.346/.488
896 hits, 344 extra-base hits, & 138 homers
Cal Ripken Jr. – .292/.355/.489
873 hits, 320 extra-base hits, & 125 homers
Lindor tops Ripken in stolen bases, 99 to 8.
— Ryan M. Spaeder (@theaceofspaeder) January 7, 2021
Now, Lindor is with a New York franchise where his profile will be even higher. He’s also at a place more invested in analytics and getting the right data to players to help them perform at their peak. In some ways, Lindor finds himself in the position Gary Carter once did.
New York will be the place Lindor shows just how much of a leader he is. He’ll show his enthusiasm and love for the game on a bigger stage. God willing, this will be the place he leads the Mets to the World Series.
When all this happens, there will be no doubt Lindor should have his number retired, and he will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He will wear a Mets cap on his plaque.
All that will be made possible because Steve Cohen stepped up to give Lindor the extra million more than Fernando Tatis Jr. received. It was possible because Cohen understands value. It was made possible because Cohen purchased the Mets.
Opening Day starts a new era in Mets history. It’s no longer just the start of the Steve Cohen Era. It’s now the start of the Francisco Lindor Hall of Fame Era in Mets history.