Hall of Fame Ballot – Players Inducted by the IBWAA

If you were to look at the IBWAA ballot, voters are unable to vote for three players which are on the BBWAA ballot.  The reason is those players already garnered the necessary 75% to be considered Hall of Famers according to the IBWAA.  While I cannot vote for those players like I did for these other four players, I do think it is worthwhile to examine their candidacy especially when they are eligible for Hall of Fame induction.

Tim Raines, LF

Stats: 23 seasons, .294/.385/.425, 430 2B, 113 3B, 170 HR, 980 RBI, 808 SB

Advanced: 69.1 WAR, 42.2 WAR7, 55.6 JAWS

Awards: Silver Slugger, 7X All-Star

Over the span of 23 years, Raines had three different careers.  From 1981 – 1987, Raines was the best leadoff hitter in the National League, and perhaps the second greatest leadoff hitter of all time.  The problem was during this time frame Raines was overshadowed by his contemporary, Rickey Henderson, who is widely regarded as the best leadoff hitter of all time.  Another fact to consider was Raines has been overlooked due to his great years being in Montreal.

From 1988 – 1995, Raines was a solid regular who was still an on base machine.  He was still stealing bases, but not at an elite clip like he was earlier in this career.  He was a good player you wanted on your team, but he was no longer an All-Star caliber player; certainly not in an era when players were starting to hit for more and more power.

From 1996 – 2002, Raines was a player holding on.  First, he was looking to get that ring as a veteran leader for a Yankees team about to start its next dynasty.  Next, he was holding on so he could play with his son Tim Raines, Jr. with the Baltimore Orioles.

We can all agree that if Raines career spanned from 1988 – 2002, he would not be a Hall of Famer.  In that time frame, he really only had one truly great year in 1992.  Other than that, he was a solid player to veteran leader.  However, Raines career started much each than that.  In reality, his career as an everyday player started in 1981.

From 1981 – 1987, Raines was as good as anyone in baseball.  In that seven year stretch, his average season was .310/.396/.448 with 103 runs, 31 doubles, nine triples, nine home runs, 55 RBI, and 72 stolen bases.  He would accumulate 38.4 WAR while averaging 5.5 WAR per season.  For the sake of comparison, Henderson’s best stretch was arguably from 1982 – 1988.  In those seasons, Rickey averaged .289/.399/.447 with 26 doubles, four triples, 16 home runs, 56 RBI, and 86 stolen bases with a 6.7 WAR.  Looking at these numbers, we can all agree that Rickey was the better player, but was he that much better during this stretch?

Again, remember that Rickey was not a borderline Hall of Famer.  He was a no doubter.  Rickey being slightly better than you means you were still a Hall of Fame talent.  That is evidenced by Raines having a higher WAR, WAR7, and JAWS than the average Hall of Fame left fielder.  Even if you note, Rickey played at a Hall of Fame level much longer than Raines, it does not mean Raines was not a Hall of Famer.  It means Raines was the second best leadoff hitter of all time.  That deserves induction.

If you are not convinced, here are some other interesting facts.  Raines is fifth all-time in stolen bases, and if he was inducted, he would have the best stolen base percentage of anyone inducted into the Hall of Fame.  Raines’ 85% success rate is the best in major league baseball history out of anyone with over 312 stolen bases.  He is the only player to steal 70 bases in seven consecutive seasons.  With that said, you could argue that while he doesn’t have the highest numbers, no one was better at successfully stealing a base than Raines.

Overall, the case is just too strong.  Raines is a Hall of Famer, and he should be inducted in his final year of eligibility.

Jeff Bagwell, 1B

Stats: 15 seasons, .297/.408/.540, 448 2B, 32 3B, 449 HR, 1,529 RBI, 202 SB

Advanced: 79.6 WAR, 48.2 JAWS7, 63.9 JAWS

Awards: Gold Glove, 3X Silver Slugger, 4X All Star, 1991 Rookie of the Year, 1994 NL MVP

Part of me understands Bagwell not having gained induction into the Hall of Fame.  As someone who closely followed baseball during Bagwell’s playing time, he didn’t seem like one of the best players in baseball let alone someone who would be a Hall of Famer.  However, when you look at the numbers, and his career, it is hard to make a case against him.

From 1991 – 2004, Bagwell was an everyday player who averaged 32 homers and 108 RBI with an outstanding 150 OPS+.  To put it in perspective, Willie McCovey, a good example of a slugging first baseman, averaged 32 homers and 88 RBI with a 161 OPS+  during the best 11 year stretch of his career.  McCovey is an interesting comparison as he had to hit in Candlestick, which like the Astrodome, was a difficult place to hit homers.  The difference between the two is McCovey played at a time when it was more difficult to hit homers, and McCovey reached that formerly magic 500 home run threshold.  Still, if Bagwell’s career numbers are comparable to the best of McCovey, certainly Bagwell is a Hall of Famer.

However, Bagwell was more than a slugging first baseman.  He was a threat on the bases.  His 202 stolen bases ranks him 20th among first baseman.  Notably, however, none of the 19 ahead of him hit more than 106 homers in their careers.  Bagwell’s speed was an interesting dynamic for a first baseman who could also hit 30+ homers in a season.  An interesting factoid from Bagwell’s career is that Bagwell actually led the league in scoring on three different occasions.  It is all the more remarkable when you consider he spent most of his career hitting in the middle of the lineup.

Moreover, Bagwell has the advanced statistics to garner induction.  His WAR is sixth all-time at the position.  That puts him ahead of such renown Hall of Famers like the aforementioned McCovey, Harmon Killebrew, and Hank Greenberg.  Overall, the only thing that can be used to justify keeping Bagwell out of the Hall of Fame is steroids.  However, there is no proof or statement Bagwell used steroids.  Absent that, keeping him out of the Hall of Fame is wrong, and therefore, he should be inducted to Cooperstown.

Edgar Martinez, DH

Stats: 18 seasons, .312/.418/.515, 514 2B, 15 3B, 309 HR, 1,261 RBI, 49 SB

Advanced: 68.3 WAR, 43.6 WAR7, 56.0 JAWS

Awards: 5X Silver Slugger, 7X All Star

Let’s start with one common fallacy we are seeing with people who are making cases for Martinez to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.  Many will argue Martinez deserves induction because he has a higher batting average than Jackie Robinson, a higher on base percentage than Stan Musial, a higher slugging than Ernie Banks, more doubles than Babe Ruth, more homers than Rogers Hornsby, more RBI than Tony Gwynn, more hits than Joe DiMaggio, and a higher WAR than Yogi Berra.  This is a distraction because Edgar Martinez was not a position player like the aforementioned players.  Edgar was a DH.

That is not to suggest a DH can’t be inducted into the Hall of Fame.  In fact, there are already two that have been inducted.  The first was Paul Molitor in 2004, and the second was Frank Thomas in 2014.  With there being two DHs already in the Hall of Fame, we have a baseline upon which to judge Martinez’s candidacy.  When judging Martinez up against Molitor and Thomas, he falls short.

Thomas accumulated the following advanced stats: 71.0 WAR, 45.2 WAR7, and a 59.5 JAWS.  He also had 500 homers.  Molitor accumulated a 75.4 WAR, 39.6 WAR7, and a 57.5 JAWS.  He also had 3,000 hits, and he was the 1993 World Series MVP.

Looking at Martinez, he falls behind Thomas and Molitor in terms of career WAR and JAWS.  Basically, the only argument Martinez would have based upon the advanced statistics is WAR7.  However, it is hard to justify enshrinement based upon that one statistic, especially when you consider Martinez didn’t have as long a career, and he didn’t have the magic numbers like Thomas and Molitor.

If you want to expand the numbers, you could start building a better case.  You could argue Martinez’s 147 OPS+ and 147 wRC+ was far above Molitor’s 122 OPS+ and 122 wRC+.  However, Martinez’s numbers fall well short of Thomas, who put up a 156 OPS+ and a 154 wRC+.

This is important when you consider one of the justifications provided for Martinez’s enshrinement is the supposition that he was the best DH of all-time.  However, looking over all of the numbers, he wasn’t.  The best DH of all-time was Frank Thomas.

It is hard to say he deserves enshrinement as being somewhere between 2-5 on the all-time list of DH.  First, the DH position has only be around since 1973, and for many years Harold Baines was considered the best DH.  No one was arguing Baines’ case for induction into the Hall of Fame when he was elected.

The other fallacy argument is DH should be treated as closers, which is another specialty position.  It is true that closers are a specialty position, but relievers have been around since there has been baseball.  The first professional team was founded in 1869, and Major League Baseball was founded in 1903.  Since that time, there have been exactly five relief pitchers inducted into the Hall of Fame.  The main reason is the position is seen as a specialist position.  Therefore, only the best of the absolute best should be inducted.

Keep in mind, when Lee Smith was first eligible to be inducted he was the all-time saves leader, and he had a 132 OPS+, which was much higher than pitchers who had already been inducted into the Hall of Fame.  For example, Tom Seaver, a pitcher who is arguably the best right handed pitcher of all time, had a 127 ERA+.  Smith never garnered more than 50.6% of the vote because while he was arguably a great specialist, he did not do enough as a specialist to earn Hall of Fame enshirnement.

That is where I am with Edgar.  He was a very good DH, and he was one of the best ever.  However, he was not the best DH, nor did he do anything as a DH better than anyone in history.  He was just really good at a specialty role.  That makes him an all-time Mariner.  That makes him an all-time DH.  It does not equate to being a Hall of Famer.