October 30, 2014

Cooperstown —HOF Veterans ballot leaves out one deserving name

Danny Murtaugh — the
one person who should be
on the HOF Veterans
Committee ballot isn't.
Per Hardball Talk, here's the ten finalists from baseball's "Golden Era" for the next Veterans Committee consideration.

Players Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, Luis Tiant and Maury Wills, and exec Bob Howsam, GM of "Big Red Machine" era Cincinnati.

Of them, there's only one person among the players that lights my fire.

Tiant is at least as deserving as Catfish Hunter. Tiant has the same "raw" numbers, roughly, if not better, and he is MUCH better sabermetrically.

But, before I go further ... 

First, there's one name sadly, and IMO shamefully, missing from the list.

Danny Murtaugh. He won two World Series, and three other post-1969 NL East, titles as a manager, all while having to take multiple leaves of absence due to health issues. Here's his manager's record card.

He needs a Bert Blyleven-type campaign mounted in his name.

Back to the actual list, not what we should have?

Hodges? Perennial favorite, even though a first baseman as lacking in absolute power numbers as him in a bandbox like Ebbets Field shouldn't be near the HOF.

Oliva? Hall of Very Great. Under 45 WAR and just 20 Wins Above Average. (My baseline on WAA, unless there's other exceptional reasons, is 30.)

Kaat? I think he's a great person, but, yeah, probably just a gussied-up Jamie Moyer. If that.

Dick Allen? The "always controversial" Dick Allen? Here is where I still use counting stats. A man who couldn't get 2,000 hits, in part because he wrecked his own career and its promise, doesn't belong in Cooperstown in my world. Dick, you could have had 3,000 hits and 500 HRs in an offensively challenged era. You blew it.

Boyer? Arguably, if Ron Santo is in, he should be, too. Arguably he's half a notch short, too. And, I can't quite pull the trigger on him. Late-career back problems may hurt his cause, yes, but Santo posted his numbers while dealing with diabetes, and it took me a few years to accept him. And, I try to be as non-homer as possible on such calls, as a Cards fan.

Minoso? Hell, no. If not for his four-decade, then five-decade player stunts (and that's what they were) would we even talk half as much about him?

Pierce? Under my radar screen before now. Definite Hall of Very Good guy, but not a HOFer.

Howsam? Overrated. Per his Wiki page (the link on his name, above), Pete Rose, Johnny BenchTony Perez, and other Big Red Machine parts were already in place when he got there. It was only when Dave Bristol was replaced as manager by Sparky Anderson that they became the Big Red Machine. Bill White and other Cardinals loathed him for trying to hog credit for what Bing Devine did there in 1964.

Thus, sorry, Craig Calcaterra, but it was no injustice, or at least no big one, that Howsam as well as the players were shut out. And, contra a new book about rating top GMs, Howsam is arguably top-25, but no way in hell he's the fourth-best GM in baseball history.

I was actually kind of liking daily blog posts about the countdown until now. But, Armour and Levitt lost a bunch of credibility, especially if they don't address the realities of the St. Louis years in their book.

In general, I use 65 on WAR and 35 on WAA (which, at B-Ref, I actually like better than WAR) as being at least “lean toward” basic sabermetric stats. Something like 70 WAR and 37-38 WAA is a very solid.

Otherwise? For pitchers, I want a WHIP below 1.25 career and career ERA + of 110 or better. Again, it’s ERA, not FIP, but, over a career, it smoothes out enough, and B-Ref doesn’t have an FIP+ yet, and I don’t think Fangraphs does either.

On batters, if you’re at a hit-neutral position, like, say 2B or CF, I want 110 OPS+. I’ll accept less at 3B and much less at SS if you’re a primo fielder; ditto for catcher. At 1B and corner OF spots, I want more than 110 OPS+.

Speaking of, as I've blogged before, there's plenty of pitchers and batters already in the HOF we should vote back out.

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