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Thread: The Hall of Merit

  1. #1
    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
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    Feb 2006
    Winton Place

    The Hall of Merit

    Have we discussed thihs around here before? I just saw this story on the NY Times site and it sounds familiar.

    Undervalued, Overlooked, but Far From Forgotten


    For most baseball fans, the Hall of Fame debate season runs about a month, from the mailing of the ballots in late November to the announcement of the inductees on Jan. 8. But for me and about 54 other aficionados of the sport’s history, scrutinizing the records of the game’s great and good has been a nonstop affair for five years.

    In 2002, a group of posters at the Web site baseballthinkfactory.org decided to select an alternative Hall of Fame, choosing its inductees with the benefit of three decades of advances in baseball statistics that were unavailable for most of the actual Hall’s existence. We called the project the Hall of Merit, and set up a voting system to mimic the Hall of Fame’s annual elections. The first ballot was pegged to 1898, with eligibility limited to players who had retired before 1893. Since then, each election (held every two or three weeks, and selecting one to three players) moved the clock forward by a year in baseball history.

    Tomorrow, we will hold our 111th and final regularly scheduled vote. After that election, we will have inducted 234 players, the same total as the actual Hall of Fame if it adds a member this year. We hope our results will enhance the public’s understanding and appreciation of the game’s history, and encourage the real Hall to revisit its missteps.

    The debates in the Hall of Merit discussion forums have been exhaustive and illuminating. To comply with our mandate to be fair to all players in all eras, we have investigated overlooked parts of the game’s history, like its origins in the 1860s and ’70s and the disorganized early years of the Negro leagues.

    We have disputed whether to give credit for wartime service, for being stuck in the minor leagues too long and for holding out for a more lucrative contract. We have struggled to evaluate players’ values in their own context (How important were pitchers in the days when batters could call for a high or low pitch, thrown underhand?) as well as to assess the quality of competition over time (How strong was baseball during World War II?).

    We have torn into the minutiae of complex quantitative metrics, like Bill James’s Win Shares, as well as pondered the relevance of traditional statistics, like wins for pitchers. And we have tussled over the definition of merit itself: is it more important to be a superstar, if only briefly, or to be consistently above average over a long career?

    There are no right answers to these questions, but the Hall of Fame voters have not done a terrible job. We concur with a little more than three-quarters of their selections. In particular, the writers have shown astute judgment: of the 55 Hall of Fame “mistakes,” 10 came through the “front door,” while 39 were chosen by the Veterans Committee and 6 were Negro leaguers. Yet both voting groups’ errors fit into a few recognizable patterns.

    First, the Hall has neglected the game’s infancy. Fully one-third of the uninducted players we believe are deserving played before 1900. They include Ross Barnes, a second baseman whose mastery of the “fair-foul bunt” made him the dominant player of the 1870s, and Bill Dahlen, a shortstop from the turn of the 20th century who fielded like Ozzie Smith and hit like Robin Yount. The Hall owes these pioneers recognition.

    Second, the voters have been too kind to complementary players on dynastic teams. The Yankees won pennants in the 1920s and ’30s because of superstars like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio. Their supporting cast — Earle Combs, Herb Pennock, Waite Hoyt, Tony Lazzeri and Lefty Gomez — is not Hall-worthy. The same is true of many players from the Giants and the Cardinals from that period, including George Kelly and Jesse Haines.

    Third, the Hall of Fame has given too much credit to pitchers that rightly belongs to fielders. It has seen fit to honor hurlers like Vic Willis and Catfish Hunter, who benefited from strong defenses, while failing to enshrine fielders like Ron Santo and Bobby Grich, who made their pitchers look good.

    Finally, the institution places too much emphasis on batting average at the expense of on-base percentage. Prolific walkers like Jimmy Sheckard, Darrell Evans and Stan Hack have been left out, while owners of “empty” batting averages, unaccompanied by walks or power, like Lloyd Waner and Lou Brock, have coasted in. A walk is not as good as a hit, but it’s more valuable than the voters have recognized.

    The list of Hall of Merit inductees, along with our archived discussions, is available at

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  3. #2
    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Cincinnati, OH

    Re: The Hall of Merit

    I've read quite a bit of BBTF's Hall of Merit before, and they do a pretty good job with some real interesting discussions at times. I must say, if I took the time to research every player that I'd put in my own personal Hall, my list would most likely be much closer to the BBTF guys than the real Hall of Fame.
    Kevin Gregg and Jason Marquis brought back vivid memories of the Lost Decade.

    Kevin Gregg: DFA'd May 11, 2015
    Jason Marquis: DFA'd June 5, 2015

  4. #3
    Potential Lunch Winner Dom Heffner's Avatar
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    May 2001
    Tampa, FL

    Re: The Hall of Merit

    This stuff is great.

    There were a few first glance surprises.

    Darrell Evans: I realize this one of Bill James' underrated sweethearts, but it's hard for anybody to get excited over a guy who rarely hit over .250, only topped 40 homeruns twice in 21 seasons, and drove in over 100 runs one time.

    I know, he walked enough to have a career on base percentage of .361, but nobody sits in the stands and cheers for walks. That doesn't mean walks aren't one of the more important aspects of the game, but the day people pay money to see someone trot down to first base because the pitcher missed the plate four times is the day we all start going to a movie theater to see the parking lot.

    The above article frames one of the debates as being over being average for a short time or being great over a short span. I believe that sets up an either-or fallacy, doesn't it?

    I'd like to see people who were dominant for a nice amount of time and who ended up with great career numbers. Be great and be great for awhile.

    Which leads me to another selection, Will Clark.

    He had some great seasons early on, but there's a stretch there in the 90's where everyone is bashing the ball and Clark's power numbers declined. From 1992-1999 he hit 20 homeruns just once after doing it 4 times in the early part of his career. I was a huge Will Clark fan back in the day, but all I can remember thinking about him was how much of a disappointment his career turned out to be after such a terrific start.

    My mouth dropped when I saw he only had 284 career homeruns. I look at his totals and it's a little underwhelming, to be honest.


  5. #4
    Will post for food BuckeyeRedleg's Avatar
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    Oct 2001
    Dublin, OH

    Re: The Hall of Merit

    Don Mattingly.

  6. #5
    Haunted by walks
    Join Date
    Apr 2000

    Re: The Hall of Merit

    I think it's a great idea. I've always said that the one in Cooperstown is the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Stats.

    But a Hall based on stats shouldn't need any voting at all.

  7. #6
    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Oct 2000

    Re: The Hall of Merit


    The Hall of Comp Game is fun. It really is. It is amazing how, with a little imagination, research and dishonesty you can make a Hall of Fame case for anybody.

    Take my hero Duane Kuiper. Everyone knows I love the Kuip — heck he’s in the tagline on this blog. So you might throw out a challenge: “OK, Joaldo, let’s see you make a Hall of Fame case for Kuiper, a guy who hit one homer in his entire career, had the second worst stolen-base percentage in baseball history (52 steals, 71 caught) and never quite played in an All-Star Game.” You want it? Here it is. Come and get it.

    Duane Kuiper hit .271 which is ELEVEN POINTS better than Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski. I mean that’s ridiculous. That’s not even close. He hit an even more amazing THIRTEEN POINTS better than Rabbit Marranville. These guys are in the Hall of Fame ahead of Kuiper? Who the heck is voting here?

    Who is the greatest second baseman of all time? Joe Morgan, right? Come a little closer to the screen. OK, I’ll let you in on something: Duane Kuiper and Joe Morgan had the SAME LIFETIME BATTING AVERAGE. Yep. They both hit .271. And yet, everyone’s going on and on about how good Morgan was.

    Or maybe you want to go for the advanced metrics than batting average, you know those really wacky stats like on-base percentage. Well fine. Kuip had a .325 on-base percentage which was way better than Hall of Famers Joe Tinker (.308) or Luis Aparicio (.311). His lifetime OPS was WAY better than Bill McKechnie or Leo Durocher.

    Or even more advanced? I may not know what OPS+ means, but the guy had a 228 OPS+ his first year in the big leagues. Hello? That happens to be a higher OPS+ than Babe Ruth’s oh-so-famous 1927 season.

    Fielding you say? That’s my man Kuiper’s specialty. Well, who is the best fielder ever, right? Exactly, Brooks Robinson, right? Duane Kuiper’s fielding percentage of .983 kicked the hose out of the Human Vacuum Cleaner, who had only a .971 fielding percentage. It’s laughable. Kuiper’s fielding percentage is better than Ozzie Smith’s (.978). It’s WAY better than Pee Wee Reese (.962) or Phil Ruzzutto (.968). These guys are in the Hall of Fame for their defense and they left Kuiper out? Joke!

    He had more hits than Bob Gibson — and all anyone did was brag about Gibby’s hitting — more homers than Lefty Gomez, more RBIs than Branch Rickey, Dizzy Dean and Sandy Koufax put together, more runs scored than Branch Rickey. These are some of the all-time greats, people. Oh, I could keep going. More stolen bases than Cal Ripken, Wade Boggs or (this will blow you away) Ted Williams. That’s right. The great Splendid Splinter!

    He grounded into about one-fourth the double plays that Hank Aaron hit into. He struck out almost 700 fewer times than George Brett, who everyone wants to keep calling a “pure hitter.” Duano was feared too — his 27 intentional walks are more than Larry Doby. Basically it’s an absolute joke that my man is not in the Hall.

  8. #7
    Potential Lunch Winner Dom Heffner's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Tampa, FL

    Re: The Hall of Merit

    That's hilarious.

    And- Duane Kuiper never bet on baseball or took steroids, though I'm a little suspicious as he had the same liftime average as other HOFers.

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