2018 IBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot

With the Hall of Fame results to be released tomorrow, this is my official IBWAA Hall of Fame ballot.  Unlike the BBWAA, the IBWAA has a 15 player limit, and the IBWAA will not continue voting on a player after they have reached the 75% threshold.  That remains true even if the player remains on the BBWAA ballot.  This year that applies to Vladimir Guerrero (who I voted for last year and would’ve again this year) and Edgar Martinez.

CF Andruw Jones

Stats: 17 seasons, .254/.337/.486, 1933 H, 383 2B, 36 3B, 434 HR, 1289 RBI
Advanced: 62.8 WAR, 46.4 WAR7, 54.6 JAWS
Awards: 5x All Star, 10x Gold Glove , Silver Slugger

With the average Hall of Fame center fielder having a 71.2 WAR/44.6 WAR7/57.9 JAWS, the one thing that stands out to you is Jones had about as good a seven year stretch of baseball than any center fielder in the history of the game.  Really, it was a tremendous nine year stretch of his career where he completely dominated.

From 1998 – 2006, Jones average season was .270/.347/.513 with 35 homers and 104 RBI.  In addition to being a middle of the lineup hitter during this stretch, he won nine consecutive Gold Gloves.  It goes a long way towards explaining how he put up 54.5 WAR during that stretch.  There are few center fielders who have dominated the sport on both sides of the ball for as long as a stretch as this.

There are some other finer points to consider with Jones.  Every Hall of Fame eligible center fielder who has hit at least 400 homers is in the Hall of Fame.  Every Hall of Fame eligible outfielder that has won at least 10 Gold Gloves has been elected to the Hall of Fame.  With Jones joining Willie Mays and Ken Griffey, Jr. as the only center fielders to hit over 400 homers and win 10+ Gold Gloves, he should also join them in the Hall of Fame.

3B Larry Jones

Stats: 19 years, .303/.401/.529, 2726 H, 549 2B, 38 3B, 468 HR, 1623 RBI
Advanced: 85.0 WAR, 46.6 WAR7, 65.8 JAWS
Awards: 1999 MVP, 2008 Batting Title, 8x All Star, 2x Silver Slugger

When it come to Chipper, the question isn’t whether he’s a Hall of Famer, but rather how high should he rank on the list of all time third baseman.  With the exception of triples and stolen bases, he is in the top 10 in every offensive category at the position with him being ranked second in runs and RBI and third in homers.  No matter what statistic or measurement you look at, Jones is going to be a first ballot Hall of Famer.

2B Jeff Kent

Stats: 17 years, .290/.356/.500, 2461 H, 560 2B, 47 3B, 377 HR, 1518 RBI
Advanced: 55.2 WAR, 35.6 WAR7, 45.4 JAWS
Awards: 2000 MVP, 5x All Star, 4x Silver Slugger

When looking at the newer parameters of WAR, WAR7, and JAWS, Kent falls well short of meeting Hall of Fame induction standards as the average Hall of Fame second baseman has posted a 69.4/44.5/56.9.  Really, Kent only comes close on the JAWS, but it’s not really that close.  Even with him falling short there, he still deserves induction into the Hall of Fame.

Looking at Kent’s career, you can make the argument this side of Rogers Hornsby, he is the best offensive second baseman in Major League history.  Certainly, you can make the case he’s the top slugger with him being the all-time leader in homers for a second baseman and second all-time in slugging.  In addition to that, he’s fourth all-time in doubles and third highest in RBI.

Every Hall of Fame eligible second baseman who has at least 445 doubles is in the Hall of Fame.  Every Hall of Fame eligible second baseman with at least 252 homers is in the Hall of Fame.  Every Hall of Fame eligible second baseman with at least 1200 RBI is in the Hall of Fame.  Every Hall of Fame eligible second baseman who has slugged at least .470 is in the Hall of Fame.  Well, that’s true for everyone except Kent, who is still awaiting induction.

One last note on Kent.  He is just one of 10 second baseman to ever win the award.  With the exception of Dustin Pedroia, who is still active, Kent is the only one of these players not in the Hall of Fame.  That should change as Kent certainly has merited induction.

LF Hideki Matsui

Stats: 10 years, .282/.360/.462, 1253 H, 249 2B, 12 3B, 175 HR, 760 RBI
Advanced: 21.3 WAR, 21.3 WAR7, 21.3 JAWS
Awards: 2x All Star, 2009 World Series MVP

A more detailed analysis of Matsui’s Hall of Fame case was previously published.  To put it succinctly here, as a professional, Matsui hit .293/.387/.521 hitter with 2,655 hits, 496 doubles, 508 homers, and 1,654 RBI.  If that all happened in the United States, he would be a no-doubt Hall of Famer.  However, due to the collusion and gentleman’s agreements between MLB and NPB, Mastui was never going to get the chance to spend his entire career in the MLB.  He should not be penalized for that.

1B Fred McGriff

Stats: 19 years, .284/.377/.509, 441 2B, 24 3B, 493 HR, 1550 RBI
Advanced: 52.4 WAR, 35.8 WAR7, 44.1 JAWS
Awards: 5x All Star, 1994 All Star Game MVP, 3x Silver Slugger

If McGriff only hit seven more home runs in his career, we would likely not be having this conversation because before the Steroid Era, hitting 500 homers was an automatic ticket into the Hall of Fame.  Perhaps knowing this, McGriff held on until he was 40 to try to get those homers.  It is a testament to him he was a productive hitter before his age 40 season.

Looking at all the numbers, it is fair to say McGriff has fallen short of 500 homers because it is assumed he was a clean player in another wise dirty Steroid Era in baseball.  He fell short because the players struck in 1994, which was when he was in his prime.

But looking at his advanced numbers, McGriff really falls short because of his defense.  That seems odd at a time when voters are pushing to elect Edgar Martinezto the Hall of Fame.  But that’s a debate for another day.  What is up for debate is his -18.1 dWAR and how reliable the defense metrics are, especially at first base, and whether those numbers can reliably be used to keep someone out of the Hall of Fame.  With the advent of DRS and UZR, it could be well argued dWAR is not reliable enough.

There’s some other considerations at play.  With the exception of Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, both of whom have taken PEDs, every Hall of Fame eligible first baseman with at least 490 homers is in the Hall of Fame.  The same goes for first baseman with at least 1,520 RBI.  Also, with the exception of players who are known to have used PEDs, every eligible first basman with at least 1,300 walks is in the Hall of Fame.

In addition to the regular season numbers, it should be noted McGriff was at his best when the stakes were at their highest.  For proof of that look no further than the 1993 season when he helped the Braves overcome a nine game deficit in the NL West.

But it’s more than the tangential evidence there.  As previously noted, McGriff bettered his career numbers with RISP, RISP with two outs, and high leverage situations.  Combine that with McGriff being an excellent hitter in the postseason (.303/.385/.532) with him putting up extraordinary World Series numbers (.279/.385/.605), and there is more than enough to make up for the fact McGriff never got those last seven homers . . . that is unless you want to count his 10 postseason homers.

RHP Mike Mussina

Stats: 270-153, 3.68 ERA, 2813 K, 1.192 WHIP
Advanced: 83.0 WAR, 44.5 WAR 7, 63.8 JAWS
Awards: 5x All Star, 7x Gold Glove

Given his being healthy throughout his entire career, and his coming off his only 20 win season, it does make you wonder why Mussina didn’t stick around long enough to get to 300 wins.  Arguably, he was 2 – 3 years away, and it would have only taken him until his age 41 season to get there.  Unfortunately, he didn’t stick around, so we have to have a more nuanced debate with his not reaching a magic number.

Now, the thing that really sticks out with Mussina is his career 3.68 ERA.  If he was indeed inducted, that ERA would be the third worst ERA by a starting pitcher with only Red Ruffing and Jack Morris.  Ruffing was only elected in a special runoff election after his time on the ballot expired, and Morris was inducted by the Veteran’s Committee.

However, lost in that ERA is the circumstances surrounding it.  Mussina not only pitched in the Steroids Era, but he also pitched the majority of his career in a hitter’s park like Camden Yards.  That’s where Mussina’s 123 ERA+ comes into account.  That mark matches Juan Marichal and puts him just ahead of Hall of Famers Eddie Plank, Bob Feller, and Don Drysdale.

There are some more considerations as well.  Aside from Roger Clemens and his complicated case, Mussina and Mickey Lolich are the only eligible pitcher with at least 2800 strikeouts not in the Hall of Fame.  Mussina and Tommy John are the only pitchers with 270 wins and over 2,000 strikeouts not in the Hall of Fame.  Mussina is the only pitcher with 270 wins and at least 2,300 strikeouts not in the Hall of Fame.

Combining that with his having a higher WAR, WAR7, and JAWS than the average Hall of Fame pitcher (73.9/50.3/62.1), and Mussina is well worthy of induction.

3B Scott Rolen

Stats: 17 years, .281/.364/.490, 2077 H, 517 2B, 43 3B, 316 HR, 1287 RBI
Advanced: 70.0 WAR, 43.5 WAR7, 56.8 JAWS
Awards: 1997 Rookie of the Year, 7x All Star, 8x Gold Glove, Silver Slugger

If we were basing it just off the WAR, WAR7, and JAWS, then Rolen would be an easy Hall of Famer as his marks surpass those of the average Hall of Fame third baseman (67.5/42.8/55.2).  However, judging from the voting on Rolen, many aren’t.  Instead, we hear many knock Rolen for not being that great, for being a complier, etc.

Looking at the criticism of Rolen, you begin to really understand why there are fewer third baseman in the Hall of Fame than at any other position.

Lost in any criticism was Rolen was a truly great defensive third baseman.  That’s evidenced by his three Gold Gloves that only trail Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt at the position.  He wasn’t Robinson with the glove, no one is, but he was a better hitter (122 OPS+ to 104 OPS+).  He wasn’t Schmidt with the bat, no other third baseman was, but Rolen was a better fielder than Schmidt (20.6 dWAR to 17.6 dWAR).  And you can certainly argue Rolen deserved more Gold Gloves with his being a better defender than players like Ken Caminiti and Mike Lowellwho won the award during Rolen’s prime.

Ultimately, Rolen did not have the bat that screams Hall of Famer, but he still had a 122 OPS+, which would rank him tied for eight amount the 16 third baseman already inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Overall, Rolen had a long and great defensive career, and he was better at the plate than how he is viewed upon by current writers.  With his defense and advanced stats, Rolen merits induction into the Hall of Fame.

Curt Schilling

Stats: 20 years, 216-146; 3.46 ERA, 3116 K, 1.137 WHIP
Advanced: 79.9 WAR, 49.0 WAR7, 64.5 JAWS
Awards: 6x All Star, 1993 NLCS MVP, 2001 World Series MVP

As we all know Schilling is not doing himself any favors with his being a lightning rod in an post playing days, which includes his tweets about lynching the media.  However, even with all that he does to shoot himself in the foot, it is still a matter of when and not if he gets inducted into the Hall of Fame.

When compiling the list of the greatest postseason pitchers of all-time, Schilling is on that short list with pitchers like Bob Gibson.  In the postseason, Schilling was 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA and a 0.968 WHIP.  There are many things you can take away from Schilling’s postseason career – striking out the first five Braves he faced in the 1993 NLCS, pitching three games in the 2001 World Series, the bloody sock, and breaking the Curse of the Bambino.

All of those were great, but consider that in Schilling’s postseason career, he pitched in four elimination games.  His team won all four of those games with Schilling going 3-0 with a 0.34 ERA.  Schilling allowed no more than two earned in any game, pitched at least seven innings in each start, had two complete games, and one five hit shutout.  Basically speaking, if your life was on the, you wanted Schilling on the mound.

But Schilling was more than postseason greatness.  He has the best strikeout to walk ratio of anyone ever eligible for the Hall of Fame.  He is 15th all-time in strikeouts, and everyone not named Clemens, who has 3,000 strikeouts is in the Hall of Fame.

He has the advanced stats to be inducted as well with his WAR and JAWS being higher than the average Hall of Fame pitcher (73.9/50.3/62.1).  His 127 ERA+ ties him with Tom Seaver and Gibson and puts him ahead of pitchers like contemporary and fellow big money pitcher John Smoltz.

Simply put, Schilling was a great pitcher well deserving of induction into the Hall of Fame regardless of whatever trouble he has created in his post playing career.

1B Jim Thome

Stats: 22 years, .276/.402/.554, 451 2B, 26 3B, 612 HR, 1699 RBI
Advanced: 72.9 WAR, 41.5 WAR7, 57.2 JAWS
Awards: 5x All Star

With the Steroids Era, the fascination with 500 homers has certainly gone by the wayside.  In fact, of the 27 sluggers in the 500 Home Run Club, 12 of those players played during a time tainted by the steroids era.  Many will point out how McGwire, Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, and Gary Sheffield have not been inducted as proof positive of 500 homers not meaning the same thing anymore.

However, it could also be argued that doing it clean means all the more.  In fact, hitting 600 clean is even more astounding.  Given Thome never being implicated, he would certainly fall in that astounding category.

Really, you would be hard pressed to find a reason not to put him in.  His advanced stats are those of a Hall of Fame first baseman.  Even if you were to argue he played a lot of time at DH, it was really only 32% of the time.  Moreover, Thome hit 407 homers when he wasn’t a DH.  That alone would put him in the Top 20 among all-time first baseman.  As it stands, with the extra 205 homers, he’s second best all-time among players whose primary position was first base.

Overall, Thome was the epitome of a slugger, and he should be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

RF Larry Walker

Stats: 17 years, .313/.400/.565, 471 2B, 62 3B, 383 HR, 1311 RBI
Advanced: 72.6 WAR, 44.6 WAR7, 58.6 JAWS
Awards: 1997 NL MVP, 5x All Star, 7x Gold Glove, 3x Silver Slugger, 3x Batting Title

One of the main reasons Walker is not in the Hall of Fame already is because there remains a double standard regarding his candidacy.  Many a writer is willing to look the other way on steroids use, but will hold playing in Coors Field against Walker despite his legally playing there.  It’s also despite the fact his numbers are good enough regardless of his years at Coors Field.

For example, Walker has a 141 OPS+ and a 140 wRC+.  Both OPS+ and wRC+ stabilize offensive statistics for the park and league a player plays his games.  For every number above 100, that player is that much better than the league.  Using Walker as an example, he was 40% better than the average player during his playing time.Those numbers put him ahead of Hall of Fame right fielders like Reggie Jackson, Al Kaline, Tony Gwynn, Roberto Clemente, Dave Winfield, etc.

The Reggie Jackson parallel is an interesting one.  If you were to buy into Walker being a Coors Field creation, consider he hit .282/.372/.501 away from Coors Field (h/t CBS Sports).  Reggie Jackson, who was a no-doubt first ballot Hall of Famer, hit .262/.356/.490, and Reggie didn’t win any Gold Glove Awards.  Walker’s non-Coors slash line would compare favorably to a number of other Hall of Fame right fielders as well.

The point being is Walker wasn’t Coors Field creation.  Rather, he was a great hitter who played great no matter what ballpark he played.  Ultimately, Walker was a great hitter, fielder, and he was a great base runner.  He could do it all, and players that can do it all belong in the Hall of Fame.