David Schoenfield is possibly the worst offender, though he has competition from almost every ESPN/Grantland baseball writer not named Jonah Keri.
And, I don't spare ESPN's hacks even when they tout Cardinals. That's good, because Schoenfeld's latest hackery is Redbird outfielder Carlos Beltran, although his case is actually better than most of Schoenfeld's stupidity.
First, Schoenfeld pulls the old special pleading/sleight-of-hand trick: If we let one borderline player in, then why not another? Schoenfeld here pulls out Andre Dawson who (sorry, Flubs fans) was also a borderline case, though I lean yes.
My basic HOF criteria? I use a mix of modernized traditional stats, first- and second-generation sabermetrics, and old counting stats.
For batters, one baseline is a 110 OPS+ for career. At 123, Beltran qualifies.
But, that alone doesn't guarantee admission.
Next, I go to WAR. Then WAA. I prefer 60 WAR and 35 WAA. Beltran is on the borderline of the first and past the second.
Beltran is still short in the counting stats.
Less than 2,200 hits is probably the biggest weakness in his claim. So is less than, say, 1,400 RBIs.
That's primarily due to nagging injuries throughout his career.
That said, this is where Schoenfeld becomes more of a hack, namely in how he talks about Beltran reaching Dawson in counting stats.
I doubt it.
Also, except for tying for the league lead in games played one year, he has ZERO "black ink." He doesn't have a lot of gray ink.
In other words, stats kind of confirm an eyeball test. Beltran didn't often look like a HOFer. Dawson, even with bad sabermetrics, did at times. And, stats confirm that. More notable black ink and double Beltran's gray ink.
Update, Aug. 14, 2013: Jerry Crasnick has joined his ESPN colleague in the Beltran fluffery.
He focuses on a narrow stat like Win Shares to boost Beltran's case, among other things.
He then pulls the Schoenfield angle:
Wright contends that Beltran is already qualified for Cooperstown as a C-plus or B-minus caliber Hall of Famer -- which would put him in a group with the likes of Joe Medwick and Larry Doby and ahead of Dawson and Lou Brock, among others. With three more productive seasons, Beltran has a chance to surpass 380 career win shares. In the past 30 years, every player to appear on the Hall ballot with 380 win shares has been a first-ballot inductee, with the exception of Tim Raines.Nope. Poor people already in there is no excuse to put more in.
Then he goes for the trifecta, with this: Did you know Beltran has played in more than 150 games in seven seasons in his career? Out of only 16 total? Wow! Crasnick's down to the real short hairs now, if that's part of his HOF case.
Sorry, we're now at Pick 4. He says Beltran's in the same class as Larry Walker.
Wrong. Not yet.
Now, if Beltran can turn in one more season where he's as healthy as he's been the last two, and with 85-90 percent the productivity of this year, and a second season where he's 85-90 percent as productive as that, we've got a different story.
We'll also have a different story if the ESPN HOF fluffers stop doing so much special pleading.
Good fucking doorknob, you people make me want to barf.
But, given what everyone knows about his past medical history, that's not guaranteed.
That said, this all assumes that Walker's a HOFer, to which I've said no before.