Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Never Ending Parade of Awful Hall of Fame Voters

The BBWAA is becoming a joke.

FJayM readers who are not baseball fans - we realize that you might be bored about baseball HOF posts. But the voters are absolutely ridiculous. Here's one from someone named Danny Knobler, who apparently has a Hall of Fame vote, and isn't shy about disclosing his stupid reasons for his votes. For the record: I don't really have a position on whether Edgar Martinez belongs in the HOF, but I do have a certifiably angry position about Danny Knobler's eligibility to vote on it.

Designated pioneer? Martinez's bat not enough to crack Hall ballot

There will someday be a designated hitter in the Hall of Fame. I will someday vote for a designated hitter for the Hall of Fame.

This is where Danny Knobler explains to us that he is not a prejudiced person. Articles where people open with their lack of prejudice often later reveal that they are, in some form, prejudiced. I am probably prejudiced too, but it's okay, because I'm prejudiced against bad baseball players making the Hall of Fame.

Actually, I guess I already have.

Oh! You're confusing me, Danny! What do you really mean, here?

I voted for Andre Dawson on this year's ballot, and according to baseball-reference.com, Dawson was a designated hitter 171 times in his 21 years in the major leagues. Of course, Dawson also won eight Gold Gloves as an outfielder, so we'll never think of him as a DH.

Oh, so you didn't really vote for a DH? But you said you did? Well, at least you have heard of baseball-reference.com, so that's good.

By my count, 24 Hall of Famers spent at least one game as a DH, and 16 of them accumulated a full season's worth of games (130 or more) as a DH during their careers.

By my count, this is research! Although this includes Ryne Sandberg, who played one game as a DH. And one season's worth of DH games shouldn't count as being a real DH. Maybe over 20% of the games as DH should count against a player? Readers, what do you say?

Paul Molitor played nearly half his games as, some would say, half a player.

An underexposed statistic, to be true. I didn't even know this.

And yet, yes, Edgar Martinez is different. He didn't play half his games as a DH; it was almost three-quarters of his games. He barely used a glove for the final 10 years of a very good 18-year career with the Mariners.

A very good career? Then he should be elected to the Hall of Very Good!

Edgar Martinez is on the ballot for the first time this year, and I didn't vote for him. I voted for Dawson, Jack Morris, Roberto Alomar and Mark McGwire (more on them later), but not for Martinez.

(More on them later) Danny Knobler? Then (more insults for you) - later in this post!

I didn't withhold my vote from Martinez because he was a designated hitter. Or at least, I didn't leave him off the ballot solely because Martinez was a designated hitter.

This is a continuation of the theme established in the first paragraph, where Danny Knobler explains that he doesn't dislike designated hitters just because they were born designated hitters. In fact, a lot of his friends were designated hitters. He even invited eleven designated hitters to his wedding, but only three of them came. But the photos still show some designated hitters so that Danny Knobler can remind his friends that he is not prejudiced against designated hitters, even if he doesn't usually hang out with designated hitters because they're too lazy to get a decent job like playing defense.

Does it matter that he didn't play defense for most of his career? Yes, just as it matters that Alomar was a 10-time Gold Glove winner. Defense is part of the game.

Oh, so you are prejudiced against designated hitters for being designated hitters? I bet Danny explained that he wasn't prejudiced against designated hitters when they didn't show up to his wedding because designated hitters can't afford the kind of gifts that Danny Knobler expects at his wedding. It's not because they're designated hitters, it's just the way it is.

Yet, we elect players to the Hall of Fame who weren't brilliant defenders, players whose offensive greatness made up for their defensive weakness. We can elect a DH who was so dominating at the plate that we overlook the fact that he rarely did anything else.

Has there been one of these? Anyone who had a .312 average and a pretty fucking amazing career 147 OPS+? I'm not really arguing for Edgar's inclusion here, but if you can't concede that Edgar Martinez from 1997-2001 was dominant at the plate, you are bad at understanding baseball.

For a while before the Hall of Fame ballot arrived, I thought Edgar Martinez might be that player.

Because, of course, you were unprejudiced, and decided to look at all of Edgar Martinez's career before you made a judgment.

The more I looked at it, the more I decided he wasn't.

I wonder if "the more I looked at it" means "when I looked up his career BA, HR and RBI".

I don't rely totally on stats, but 309 home runs and 1,261 RBI (Martinez's career totals) aren't enough to make him stand out.

Yep. It does.

He made seven All-Star teams, but that puts him in line with Don Mattingly, Dave Parker, Tim Raines and Alan Trammell, other outstanding players who have not gotten my vote.

Irrelevant.

He was in the top five in MVP voting only once. His postseason numbers were average at best.

1. Writers didn't like him. You can't claim to adhere to objective standards for a HOF, then cite a non-objective standard like MVP votes.

2. He didn't play well in thirty-four games (though he had 3 series where he OPS'd over 1.0)

The Hall of Fame tells us that only 1 percent of all major league players are elected, and that the Hall is the place where "excellence is honored."

That's why it's not the Hall of Very Good, because excellence is not honored at the Hall of Very Good.

As many have said, it's not the Hall of Fame for very good players. It's only for the best, those who were dominant in their era.

Oh. Well fuck, OPS+ing over 150 for seven straight years isn't being dominant in your era. I mean, Jack Morris never ERA+'d over 125 in ANY season, but that's not much to know.

Edgar Martinez was very good, but just short of being dominant.

You might be fucking right, but you're too superficial to support this point. You can't cite anything about relative defensive values, or his overall offensive production. You don't cite ANY of Edgar's numbers except his career HR and RBI totals.

He was one of the best clutch hitters I've seen,

And in other news, FJayM is big time. Danny Knobler appears to be deliberately attempting to get himself in print here. He has mentioned clutch hitting, has avoided citing relevant statistics, based decisions on popularity contests, and refused to look closely at any player's numerical production. At least he didn't praise teams' grittiness this time.

and just as I look carefully every year to see if I can justify voting for Trammell (and so far I haven't), I looked carefully at Martinez's career to see if I could justify voting for him.

You have not looked carefully at his career. You have only cited his career HR and RBI totals. I wish I was a baseball writer, where "looking carefully" at a player's career probably constitutes an entire morning's work. Shit, I could "look carefully" at Mickey Morandini's entire career and then knock back a snifter of bourbon and call myself a Hall of Fame voter. Shit. I'm in the wrong profession.

Perhaps if that terrible knee injury hadn't ended his career as a third baseman and forced him to DH, I would have looked at him differently. It's impossible to say.

He almost plays the sympathy card here. Weird.

Perhaps in another year, I'll change my mind on him, or be convinced by arguments of others that I should include him.

This is why I hate Hall of Fame voting. Apparently, standards for this Hall of Whatever are determined by anyone who can craft an argument to persuade the Danny Knoblers of the world.

Edgar Martinez isn't going to become a better player in the next few years. Jack Morris isn't going to become a better pitcher in the next few years. Jim Rice certainly didn't spend fifteen years on the ballot becoming a better outfielder.

A decent-sized handful of players have become Hall of Famers because of whiny-ass sympathy votes. "Oh my god he's been on the ballot for so many years let's just vote him in already."

There. I said it. It's true.

Or perhaps enough others will vote for Martinez that he'll get elected without my vote.

It's almost like he wants that to happen, except he doesn't? Fuck, I wish this guy had some clear principles.

For this year, though, he didn't get my vote.

Next year, when someone smarter than you looks at the statistics in a different way than you, you might change your mind.

There will be a full-time DH I'll vote for, I'm fairly sure of it. Just not this one, not this year.

Harold Baines, we're talkin' to you! You have more HR and RBI than Edgar anyways!

Now, as for the rest of my ballot, a few quick notes:

Now, as for the rest of this post, a few quick insults:

• I vote for Morris every year, and I strongly believe he deserves election. It's not only because he was the winningest pitcher of the 1980s,

Oh. Sure. It's not only because you spent eighteen years as a Tigers beat writer, coincidentally during Jack Morris's career.

but yes, that does help (he was dominant in his era).

Note the lack of statistical support. Note that this claim was inserted in parenthesis - generally defined as material that could be omitted without changing the meaning of a sentence.

It's not only because he pitched one of the best games in World Series history in 1991, but that helps, too (coming up big on the biggest stage is a sure sign of excellence).

Don Larsen, get in the Hall of Fame already! Bucky Dent, come right in! I've used too many exclamation points in this post to satirize all the stupid claims in it!

I know people can't reconcile my vote for Morris with my lack of support for Bert Blyleven,but we judge Hall of Fame candidates on our own standards, and on my standards, Morris is a clear Hall of Famer.

Oh. Ok. Why don't we call it the Hall of Danny Knobler then? What the hell is the point of a Hall of Famer if you believe this? The BBWAA is a joke. Apparently their standards are: "If you've been a writer for awhile and are good enough or have enough friends to have not gotten fired by now, you're probably good enough to vote for the Hall of Fame."

• Alomar is a first-time candidate, but I never make a distinction between those in their first year on the ballot and those who aren't.I believe you're either a Hall of Famer or you're not.

Except when you - three paragraphs before - admit that you're willing to change your opinions. So apparently you're a Hall of Famer or maybe you will be next year.

I believe that you're either a decent writer or you're not. And it only takes one article to come to the conclusion that you're not.

When I change my vote from year to year, as I sometimes do, it's only because my feelings about a player's career has changed. Alomar deserves in.

Well, I'm glad you wrote this article. Apparently you are either a Hall of Famer or you're not, but Danny Knobler's feelings about you can still change. I'd hate to be his wife.

• McGwire is the toughest vote, even though it's pretty clear by now that my vote isn't going to put him in the Hall (it takes 75 percent of the votes to get in, and McGwire has had 24, 24 and 22 in his three years on the ballot).

Hey! Stats! Except these are kind of pointless and don't support any of Knobler's main points!

I still can't say I feel great about voting for him, but so far, my view hasn't changed. That view is that if I disqualify McGwire for his almost-certain use of steroids (which would be the only reason not to consider him), then I can't feel right about voting for anyone who played in the steroid era. Not that they all used steroids, because obviously not everyone did, but the numbers were so high and the testing so lacking that we really have little idea who used and who didn't.

This is a pile of steaming illogical garbage. We do have an idea who used and who didn't. Unless something new comes out, I bet Ken Griffey Jr. gets elected first ballot. As for the logic of your position: I wonder why you voted for Roberto Alomar - who perhaps had his best season in 2001 - if you won't vote for anyone from that era.

Yes, we have a better idea that McGwire did use, but I don't feel comfortable with the sliding scale.

Then don't feel comfortable with voting for Alomar.

For now, he gets my vote, although I'll admit it's an easier vote to cast when I know so many others are so strongly opposed that he has no real chance of being elected.

Well, I'm glad that you base your vote mostly on what other people are doing. You, Danny Knobler, have just executed one of the best (worst?) articles I've found recently.


6 comments:

Xavier said...

Question: Why "97-01"? In '95 he went .356/.479/.628 (league-leading OPS) while playing in more games than anyone else. In '96 he went .327/.464/.595. You could even say, "from 95-01 Martinez was the best hitter in the American League" and while it would probably be wrong, it wouldn't be at all indefensible.

dan-bob said...

Xavier -
I later mention his 7 straight years of OPS+ over 150... I think I just made a pointless slip when I typed '97. Your point is well taken.

Tonus said...

That last part about McGwire- you seem to think that Knobler was explaining why he didn't vote for him, but I think he's explaining why he did.

But he also touches on the biggest problem with HOF voting-- voters decide on their own standards for inclusion. The supposed 'official' standards for HOF voting are treated as a suggestion. Most voters admit that they just make it up as they go along.

Why isn't this guy disqualified from ever voting again, after admitting that he feels better about voting for McGwire because he's sure that Mac won't get in? That ballot isn't sent to you so that you can work through your self esteem issues, you schmuck!!!

Alex said...

I really don't get the Dawson bit. Dawson was a DH 171 times. Ok.

He had 9927 career AB's - that's barely 2% of the time. Add that it was in Boston in the twilight of his career when his knees were pretty much donated to science.

We'll never think of him as a DH because he never was one.

I'm definitely missing something.

Adam said...

Actually it was 171 games, but that's still not significant really enough even to mention.

The whole discussion about if DHs are worthy is stupid. Writers don't how to evaluate players but that is not news. All that you really have to figure out is if the players offensive production outweighs his lack of defensive production. I would rather vote for a DH than a terrible fielding first baseman with similar stats.

It's the same thing as when nobody wanted to vote for a closer for a long time. Then there was such a push to get closers into the hall that it became popular to vote for them and guys who don't really deserve it get voted in like Goose Gossage.

The same thing will probably eventually happen with DHs and somebody like David Ortiz will be voted in.

Alex said...

Ok. Games. Still same in terms of significance as you said. Instead of 2% it shoots up to a whopping 7%.