Pete Abraham’s HOF Ballot

From Extra Bases on

My first Hall of Fame ballot was submitted today. As promised, here is who I voted for:

Roberto Alomar
Bert Blyleven
Barry Larkin
Alan Trammell
Tim Raines

PA says that Alomar is the only sure-fire HOFer. Personally, I’m convinced that Raines should be considered a no-brainer for induction as well. That is not an issue with the article — since Pete voted for him — but for some reason that I can’t put my finger on, I think I will be really pissed off if Raines doesn’t get voted in. The math backs it up well enough. Heck, he deserves a slot just for his career OBP+SB. But maybe it was the collusion. Maybe its that he did a huge chunk of his best work in a part of another country that doesn’t want to speak English. Maybe it is the lack of forgiveness many have for his admitted substance abuse.

All I know is Vote Rock.

15 replies on “Pete Abraham’s HOF Ballot”

> Alan Trammell?
Yeah, I can’t really get worked up about that either. The more I think about it, the only Hall of Fame player on that list that I see is Tim Raines.
Now please convince me that I am wrong.

All of these players except for Alomar really played the majority of their careers before I was old enough to judge if they were HOF caliber, but…I remember sports reporters always saying something like was he the best at his position for a prolonged period of time. That same defense is usually used against Mattingly, as he was not the best at his position for more than 3-5 seasons…Correct me if I am wrong but wasn’t Alomar the best 2Bman for quite awhile? (aside from Jeff Kent who will also be a HOF’r) You guys will surely remember better than me though. Thoughts?

“Yeah, I can’t really get worked up about that either. The more I think about it, the only Hall of Fame player on that list that I see is Tim Raines.
Now please convince me that I am wrong.”
I agree with you about Raines, but I think you and SF are discounting Trammell and Larkin quite a bit. Checking out Sean Smith’s list of the top 500 position players by WAR, Larkin and Trammell both rank among hall of famers.
Larkin ranks right above Jeter and Gwynn. Trammell is listed right above Eddie Murray. Larkin’s career slash line is pretty great for a SS, especially one in played right before the Nomah-Jeter-ARod era. The problem for Larkin’s case is his durability. Otherwise, his rates are great and he was a great fielder. Trammell’s career slash line was good, again probably more impressive when you factor in what other shortstops were hitting during his time. That said, I assume his WAR is also boosted up by very strong fielding rates and fielding metrics are controversial.
Both shortstops are ranked above Ozzie Smith on Sean Smith’s list, by the way. Alomar ranks just behind Ozzie as well.

Also, Blyleven is 13th on the all-time pitchers list. Sean Smith is not the end-all in player ranking but he’s well respected (he’s even been picked up by a mlb team!), and I’d have to think this means Blyleven should be a lock.
In any case, just looking at the numbers, Blyleven’s strike out numbers are insane. He also put up great k:bb walk numbers (2.8). So the argument against him is that his record was just a little over .500. I think he’s a hall-of-famer but that’s because I put a lot of stock in peripheral numbers, especially over that long a period.

Alomar is a sure-fire HoFer. I always regarded him as the gold standard, and I think now many younger fans remember him for his last couple of years, not for his first 14, when he was just amazing. He was an all-time great, in my opinion, and since he played a great deal in the East I had the pleasure of watching him operate. I loved him as a player.
As for Larkin, I didn’t comment on him, Nick. For the record, as a fan I thought a great deal of Larkin, but just didn’t see him enough to be honest, so I more know him by his numbers, which are admittedly pretty good. In rotisserie he was always a high draft pick but not as high as he could have been since there were always injury questions. But that’s irrelevant here, to an extent. He may be a Hall entrant, but I will refrain from comment, I don’t feel like I saw him enough – he seems more likely than Trammel, on the surface.
Re: Trammell, I saw him a great deal growing up when the Tigers were in the AL East, and he was certainly a player to get nervous about. I just never thought of him as truly great, just excellent. And his statistics seem to bear me out a bit. I think he’s in the second tier of players, which is no small feat – one of the better infielders of the last 40 years. But not elite. I also despised his Tiger teams, so maybe I am being unfairly judgmental because of this, but I think I am past that at my age.

With Blyleven I am agnostic. He had a long career, he had 3500+ strikeouts, but he also was pretty damn mediocre or plain bad for most of the last five years of his career (but for an outlier year in 1989). And in those five pretty bad years he was able to accumulate 800 of his strikeouts and well over 1000 of his innings. So he was functional, accumulating statistics, but not all that great at pitching during those years.
I honestly don’t have any good opinion or sentiments about BB – I really couldn’t care less if he makes it in. I have no feeling of a miscarriage of justice if he doesn’t, and if he does get in that would be fine too, I just don’t give a hoot.

Sorry about the Larkin thing, SF.
A lot to chew on. It’s funny. I began watching baseball when most of these players were at their peaks. Like you, I remember thinking Alomar was a superstar. I never thought that about Trammell as a superstar, and I didn’t ever get to watch Larkin. However, I remember Larkin got great press and was marketed as one of the stars of the league. What’s interesting then is where these guys place on a well regarded sabermetrician’s list of rankings. Positional value and maybe fielding metrics have something to do with the disparity in our perception and their respective rankings. Shortstop is a more important position than second. What’s interesting to me is whether out perceptions of these players would be different if they were playing today in this age of WAR, fielding metrics, VORP, etc.

Shortstops debuting after 1950, ranked by OPS+, min. 7,000 career PA:
1. Derek Jeter, 119
2. Barry Larkin, 116
3. Jim Fregosi, 113
4. Cal Ripken, 112
t5. Alan Trammell, 110
t5. Miguel Tejada, 110
Tejada’s OPS is .801; Trammell’s was .767. The era in which Trammell played really hurts the way his numbers look. Even that list is misleading. Here are batting runs, as determined by linear weights for purposes of calculating WAR:
1. Derek Jeter, 313
2. Barry Larkin, 189
3. Cal Ripken, 181
4. Alan Trammell, 124
5. Jim Fregosi, 112
6. Miguel Tejada, 105
7. Pee Wee Reese, 54
8. Tony Fernandez, 29
9. Jay Bell, 25
That’s, incidentally, the entirety of the long-time shortstops who were above average with the bat post-1950.
How about defense? Here are defense runs, using the Total Zone system that B-R uses for WAR calculations:
1. Ozzie Smith, 239
2. Cal Ripken, 181
3. Luis Aparicio, 149
4. Omar Vizquel, 138
5. Ozzie Guillen, 106
6. Roy McMillan, 92
7. Alan Trammell, 76
20. Barry Larkin, 27
21. Jim Fregosi, 3
28. Miguel Tejada, -63
29. Derek Jeter, -131
Put it all together, and here’s that same group, ranked by WAR:
1. Cal Ripken, 89.9
2. Derek Jeter, 70.1
3. Barry Larkin, 68.9
4. Alan Trammell, 66.9
5. Ozzie Smith, 64.6
6. Pee Wee Reese, 50.2
7. Luis Aparicio, 49.9
8. Jim Fregosi, 46.1
9. Bert Campaneris, 45.3
10. Omar Vizquel, 43.1
11. Miguel Tejada, 42.0
When Trammel retired in 1997, he was No. 2 on the list, behind the still-active Ripken. He wasn’t the best on offense, eclipsed by both Larken and Ripken, and he wasn’t the best on defense, eclipsed also by Ripken, as well as Ozzie Smith. Which is unfortunate because no one other than Ripken put offense and defense together as well as he did. Hard to say the second-best post-integration shortstop in the entire game of baseball at the time of his retirement doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

If Trammell doesn’t get in this year, he needs hire Paul to put together a package to send to all the voters.
BTW – Shaughnessy left Trammell off his ballot (voted Blyleven, Alomar, Morris). Interesting article that could spark an interesting debate over the next several years as more and more of the steroid era players get on the ballot.

Shaughnessy says this in his article:
“Blyleven ranks fifth on the all-time strikeout list and he pitched in an era when it was tougher to strike guys out than it is today.”
I was curious to see if this is true – as the number of pitchers with prodigious innings pitched and strikeouts per season has dropped, the instinct is to think that this is not true. So I did a very unscientific study, I looked at strikeouts per inning in 1978 and 1985, in two different moments of Blyleven’s career, and then in 2004 and 2010. These are the results:
1978 – 20163.1 innings pitched in the AL, 10153 strikeouts, for a rate of .503 per inning.
1985: 20182 innings pitched in the AL, 11777 strikeouts, for a rate of .584 per inning.
2004: 20248 innings pitched, 14505 strikeouts, for a rate of .716 per inning.
2010: 20217 innings pitched, 15350 strikeouts, for a rate of .759 per inning.
So Blyleven’s case gets that much stronger, and Shaughnessy is actually, for once, on the side of the data.

Shaughnessy’s ballot isn’t terrible except for the huge, glaring logical inconsistency:
Blyleven-Alomar alone is justifiable if you’re an extremely small-Hall guy (Blyleven is fifth in Ks, and the top 13 other than him are all in the Hall, and Alomar was the greatest 2B of his generation), but Morris is only justifiable if you’re a big-Hall guy. If your Hall is big enough to include Morris, it pretty much has to include Tiant (which his did), Larkin, John, Trammell, Raines, Bagwell, Walker and McGriff. If your Hall is small enough to exclude Larkin, Raines and Trammell, it cannot include Morris.
Or you could be Jon Heyman and vote for Morris and not Blyleven, which means that on top of being a crappy reporter you are also a crappy analyst.
I applaud Abraham for his. My ballot would have been larger, but his is completely justifiable.

Yeah, the rise of the slugger and sabermetrics have really changed the role of the strikeout. It’s no longer looked at as the worst of all possible events for a batter, and many more teams find it acceptable to trade increased strikeouts for increased home runs.
As I said, I was pleasantly surprised at the reasonableness of Shaughnessy’s column, except for the gratuitous — and, really, painfully obvious attempts at provocation — slams at the blogging community. He’s wrong on Morris, but that’s OK. Better to be dispassionately wrong, as he is, than passionately, antagonistically wrong, as Heyman is (and as Shaughnessy usually is).

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