Monday, May 30, 2011

Watch some writers employed by Forbes bumblefuck their way through an article about baseball

I mean, this should be pretty obvious, but don't expect great baseball analysis from a publication that's not at all in the business of analyzing baseball. In fact in the case of Forbes you can probably expect some pretty shitty baseball analysis. Blogger Monte Burke has two moron co-workers. Apparently they like to discuss Hall of Fame credentials with one another. Cue up Yakety Sax and listen as you read their thoughts.

Here’s one of my favorite games to play: take all the current players in Major League Baseball and pretend that their careers ended today. Which players do you think would be locks for the Hall of Fame?

One of your favorite? That sounds a little hyperbolic. The "who's a HOFer" game can't even really be played more than once a year. It's not even a game. It's just an exercise in random bullshitting. You can't just start your column with that kind of statement and expect to get away with it. Not on my watch. Writing blog posts about bad HOF articles is one of my favorite non-games.

I’m not talking about which players project to be Hall of Famers someday. Their careers end now. Who’s in?

Keep that qualification in mind.

I have my list. I bugged two of my sports-obsessed colleagues here at Forbes to produce their own lists. Kurt Badenhausen and Tom Van Riper

are both about as informed about baseball as the average ESPN commenter

were gracious enough to spend their lunch breaks pouring over


MLB rosters and producing their own lists.

I’ve listed first the players who we all agree are in, with short comments from all of us. Then I’ve listed the players that only appeared on one or two “ballots,” with comments from only their nominators. For the record, I think there are 8 HOF locks. Kurt thinks there are 9. Tom is the most liberal of the group when it comes to the HOF (the first time he’s ever been called a liberal, mind you). He sees 13 locks.

Right, so keep in mind that we're talking about "locks" here. Guys who are locks based solely on what they've done up until right now.

Part of the fun of this game is the barstool arguments it inevitably creates.

I'm pretty sure that's the entire essence of the game, actually. Without it the game does not exist. Just trying to separate the concepts of "make a list of players you think are HOF locks" and "don't be afraid to disagree with the choices other people make" is blowing my mind right now.

Agree with the choices? Disagree? Don’t be shy.


Here are the players we all agree are in the HOF:

Derek Jeter

“Rarely, if ever, the game’s top shortstop in any given year.

Totally relevant that he happened to be a close second behind Garciapara and then A-Rod during the prime of his career. Very relevant.

But his sustained excellence at the position (.313 average; 2,975 hits) since 1996 makes him an obvious choice.” –Tom

“Would Jeter be a HOFer if he had spent 16 years in a weak-hitting Pittsburgh Pirates line-up?” –Kurt

I'm going to go with "yes." I'm pretty sure getting 3,000 hits as a shortstop while mixing in some power and speed gets you into the hall. Even if you're not MISTER NOVEMBER, CLUTCHEST CLUTCHER TO EVER CLUTCH (Jeter alltime during the regular season: .313/.383/.450, Jeter alltime during the postseason: .309/.377/.472)

“Long, very solid, championship-filled career.” –Monte

Someone tell Paul O'Neill to start working on his induction speech!

Alex Rodriguez

“Over 600 homers while hitting .303 lifetime. Probably a top five all-time player.” –Tom

He might be one of the top 30 batters in history- probably. Which would maybe put him among the top 50 players. There's a chance he's one of the 5 best currently active batters... and he was definitely a top 5 player during the 2000s. I dunno, how far do we want to stretch our criteria to make Tom's comment less ridiculous? Top 5 player? All time? Get the fuck out of here.

Mariano Rivera

“Undeserving in my opinion—the Hall of Fame is no place for relief specialists who see such limited action. But the press already has him in.” –Tom

Being an insanely dominant closer for 15 years is super easy. Just ask all the other guys who have done it. I mean, hell, anyone can close. Just ask any of the countless relievers who have significantly better career numbers in non-save situations than in save situations.

Albert Pujols

Nothing too outrageous here.

Chipper Jones

“Jones will get in, but I’m not sure he is the first ballot lock some people think. He led the league once in a major statistical category (batting average in 2008) and had zero Gold Gloves at 3rd base.” –Kurt

If "number of times leading the league in a major statistical category" is one of the first twenty things you look at when determining someone's worthiness for the HOF, you are a card-carrying zilcheroo.

Jim Thome

“There’s just no avoiding a guy with 593 career homers.” –Tom

“We need one untainted slugger from the steroid era in the Hall.” –Kurt

“Numbers game: 593 home runs.” –Monte

Not that I think Thome doesn't belong, but so far voters are doing an outstanding job of avoiding McGwire and his 583 home runs.

Ichiro Suzuki

“Overrated in my opinion—doesn’t walk or hit for power. But the press loves Ichiro, and his 2,301 hits and a .330 lifetime average over 10-plus seasons will get him there.” –Tom

Tom.... I have no words for you.

That’s seven guys that we all agree are locks today. Here’s where we start to disagree:

And here's where it starts getting good.

Ivan Rodriguez

“Best catcher of his generation and has close to 3,000 hits.” –Kurt

“.297 batting average and 311 home runs. Johnny Bench-like numbers.” –Monte

So Tom apparently doesn't think I-Rod gets in. If you ignore the potential steroid hurdle (first of all Rodriguez has never been formally linked to them, and second of all Tom apparently is because his blurb on A-Rod doesn't mention them) that's patently insane- he's one of the top 2 or 3 catchers of all time. If Carlton Fisk is in, you'd better believe Pudge is making it unless steroids become an issue.

Roy Halladay

“Prediction: by the time the voters consider Halladay, advanced metrics will have overtaken traditional stats like career wins. So forget his ‘mere’ 175 victories

That's actually a pretty low number by HOF standards. Just saying.

and concentrate on his .663 winning percentage. He’s also led his league in complete games six times.” –Tom

You know those voters are suckers for complete games. That's how Cy Young snuck in there.

“175 wins feel light, but 2 Cy Youngs push him over; only Tim Wakefield has more wins among current pitchers.” –Kurt

Probably the least relevant or compelling statistic you could have used. "Hey this 34 year old has more victories than almost any active pitcher! I mean, TIM WAKEFIELD has more, but you know, that's Tim Wakefield for you." Also, Halladay's stats up until now are very comparable with Ron Guidry's career stats. And Guidry never made it despite being a Yankee with two rings and a Cy. I bet Halladay gets there, but it's going to take several dozen more wins and a few hundred more strikeouts.


And here’s where Tom takes over:

And here's where it gets really, really, really good.

Vladimir Guerrero

“A premier offensive player of his era (.942 OPS; .319 batting average). Also a fine outfielder with a strong arm in his younger years.” –Tom

Certainly a defensible pick, although it's not like a .942 OPS or .319 BA are mind blowing considering the era in which he played.

Bobby Abreu

“Six .300 seasons and eight 100 RBI seasons. Quietly amassed a Cooperstown career alongside his rookie class of 1996 brethren Jeter and Guerrero.” –Tom

Ah, so corner OFs with 2300 hits and a little under 300 HRs are locks now? Wow, the Hall is going to get crowded pretty quickly. Garrett Anderson, O'Neill, and Ellis Burks: you're in! And Brian Giles, don't give up hope. You're a little light in the hits department but you might sneak in. I mean Abreu's a really good player but no. No no no.

Chase Utley

“The premier second baseman in MLB over the past nine years with a .893 OPS.” –Tom

He's injury prone (has only cleared 120 games or 600 PAs five times) and as a result he has a mere 1100 hits and 178 HRs. He's very good but no, not even close this time. The batters most similar to him who are retired (via baseballreference) are John Valentin, Al Rosen, and Mike Stanley. Yyyyyyyyyyup.

Miguel Tejada

“The steroid taint could hurt him, but this is a top offensive player at a central position (shortstop) from 2000 to 2007. Tejada was AL MVP in 2002 and drove in 150 runs in 2004.” –Tom

Less ridiculous than Utley but not by much. Other than a nice stretch from 2000 to 2005 he's been somewhere between bad and above average. More than half his career has been spent as a "oh yeah... he's decent" player. Not gonna cut it. Plus the roids.

Todd Helton

“Compiled some of his big numbers at pre-humidor Coors Field, but a guy who has hit .324 lifetime with a .977 OPS won’t be left out.” –Tom

I'm a Rockies fan so I suppose I'm obligated to say OF COURSE TODD IS GETTING IN WOOOOOO THE GUY DOES IT ALL HE'S MR. ROCKIE AND HE'S BEEN THE HEART AND SOUL OF THAT TEAM FOR MORE THAN A DECADE. But yeah realistically he's probably 50/50 at this point. And the only reason the odds are that good is because he's a guy who sportswriters love.

In conclusion Forbes is a completely illegitimate publication and you shouldn't trust them to accurately analyze anything*.

* - related to baseball


Biggus Rickus said...

Much as I hate to defend any aspect of this nonsense, I think a guy who hits like ARod and plays at least an adequate shortstop is in the discussion for the top five players of all time. He shouldn't be punished because the Yankees stupidly moved him to third in order to play a worse defensive player at short. The steroid thing could detract from the case, I suppose.

Chris W said...


Five years ago we might have looked at A-Rod as a top 5 player of all time. But it's just not a viable argument anymore. Even if we remove pitchers from the equation, it's very clear that A-Rod doesn't belong in the top 5. .302/.386/.569 with a negative career dWar? Those are incredible numbers, but it puts him well behind the likes of: Ruth, Cobb, Mays (who has similar numbers but with much better defense and his whole end-of-career decline factored in), Wagner, Gehrig, Mantle, Aaron, and Musial.

At this point, you could make a very very strong argument that guys like Yogi Berra, Eddie Collins, Joe Morgan, and Jackie Robinson had better or equal careers to A-Rod, and while I don't necessarily agree that that's the case, it doesn't bode well for him being a top 5 player of all time.

Then throw in Walter Johnson, Roger Clemens, Tom Seaver, Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Lefty Grove, and Randy Johnson, and it becomes even more ridiculous to call him a top 5 player.

I do take issue with Larry's write-up on two small nitpicking points:

1.) Way to miss a golden opportunity, Lar': "SABRmetricians HATE career wins. They LOVE career winning percentage!"

2.) I'm a little salty how outright you dismissed Abreu as a serious contender. OBVS the guy's reasoning for why he's a "lock" is stupid, and he's clearly not a "lock" regardless of what numbers you look at, but if you look at the right numbers, dude's a deserving candidate. Career OBP of .400, over 2000 hits, 59 career WAR....Abreu has a very strong HOF pedigree. Most writers won't see that, and he's not an overwhelming choice, but the dude was a better OFer than--and I'm just guessing here--probably about 1/3 of the dudes who are in the HOF. For instance, he's a better player in most ways than Paul Molitor.

Anonymous said...

I like that a pitcher's winning percentage is the "advanced metric" cited by this guy.

Biggus Rickus said...

ARod is currently 19th on Fangraph's career WAR list. Assuming his decline continues as expected, he'll probably never make it past Mantle at 13. However, I think he would already be close to the top 10 if they'd left him at short, where he was slightly above average defensively. I don't think he would end up as a top five player, but it wouldn't be ludicrous to discuss him. He's certainly better than "one of the top 30" players all-time.

Also, I think when people discuss all-time best players it is a given that they are talking about position players and excluding pitchers from the discussion. It makes little sense to compare an everyday player to a guy who pitches every fourth or fifth day.

Chris W said...

Well being 19th on Fangraph's WAR list and already clearly in the decline stage of his career it's not certain he's better than "one of the top 30 players of all time." And even if he passes Mantle, so what? A-Rod's already played exactly as many seasons as Mantle. So unless you think not breaking your knee on a sprinkler is a necessary component to being one of the top 5 players of all time, I don't think A-Rod accumulating a few more 3-4 WAR seasons the rest of his career is going to make him really jump anyone.

Career WAR is flawed, but OTOH, already most of the truly great players are way ahead of A-Rod in WAR. A-Rod has an incredible 104 WAR, which is nothing to sneeze at by any means. But Willie Mays has 155. Honus Wagner has 135. Hank Aaron has 142. Hell, Mantle has 120 and he only played 18 seasons. And that's to say nothing of Ruth and Cobb.

It's pretty clear that unless he returns to form at age 36, that A-Rod won't sniff the top 5 for position players, and when all's said and done he'll probably be low top-10 when you include pitchers. Right now? Top 20...although you'd have a strong argument for top 30 given that there are debatably better players who haven't had the luxury of long careers like A-Rod likely will have had at the end of his playing days.

Chris W said...

To be honest though, I think we're both nitpicking a lot more than you

Biggus Rickus said...

I'm all about nitpicking. I probably overreacted a bit because I think ARod is shit upon too much despite being really good at baseball. I really do think he'd be considered more of an all-time great if the Yankees hadn't placated "The Captain", Mr. Team, Mr. All Octobers, Jesus, Derek Jeter, by forcing ARod to move to third. And if he wasn't so weird. And if hadn't done steroids.

Chris W said...

There's no doubt that's true--the 3B thing. It was thinkable that he could have passed Wagner as best SS of all time if he'd played it his whole career. But leaving there makes it harder to call him any one position, plus he has a harder time affecting the game with his glove at 3B.

It hurt him a lot. And no doubt A-Rod gets shat on unfairly...although I don't know that calling him a top 20-30 player in the history of the game as he stands right now is really the same thing those NY Post D-bags do

Anonymous said...

Why are we not focusing on the critical issue:

How the fuck is David Eckstein not a lock for the HOF?

Biggus Rickus said...

David Eckstein has always struck me as a Hall of Very Gritty player.

Adam said...

Todd Helton doesn't get enough credit for how good he has been relative to some other guys like Pujols. Helton is 3rd in active career OPS and 2nd OBP, 13th career all-time OPS, but his numbers are really killed by any adjusted stats due to the era and ballpark. His OPS+ career is only 95th all-time and wOBA 51st.

Anonymous said...

I believe that you need 10 years to qualify for HOF eligibility. So not only is Chase Utley not a lock, but if his career ended right now he wouldn't even be eligible for HOF.

And I think I'd go with Berkman ahead of Abreu due to the greater peak years. However, there is no way guys like that are locks right now.

I'm surprised these Forbes guys didn't go with Johnny Damon. He's a winner! And they probably would have considered Beltran a lock if he didn't strike out looking in the 2006 NLCS Game 7.