View Poll Results: Is Bob Elliott a HOFer?

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  • Yes, he is a HOFer

    5 23.81%
  • Maybe, in the context of his era, he is a standout at his position

    7 33.33%
  • Bob Elliott had a very good career, but falls just short

    8 38.10%
  • Bob Elliott's numbers suggest that he had HOF potential, but are not close to HOF worthy

    1 4.76%
  • Bob Elliott isn't even close to the HOF line

    0 0%
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Thread: Bob Elliott

  1. #1
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    Bob Elliott

    I am now convinced that Bob Elliott ought to be in the HOF.

    In fact, I am convinced that Elliott may well be the most deserving third baseman outside the HOF other than Ron Santo.

    When Bill James penned the essay that created the "Keltner List", he suggested that if you ran down the list of questions for Bob Elliott, you'd find a surprising number of yes's on the list. Let's see how he stacks up:

    Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

    No, of course not. Elliott played in the era of DiMaggio, Musial, and Williams.

    Was he the best player on his team?

    From 1942-46, after Arky Vaughn left the Pirates, Elliott was probably the best player on the Bucs. He was the NL MVP with the Braves in 1947 as well. He was NOT the best player on the Braves; Warren Spahn was. Elliott, however, was probably the best position player on the Braves through 1950.

    Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?

    Elliott was probably the best third baseman in baseball for most of his career; his stiffest competition coming PROBABLY from George Kell. Elliott was traded to make room for the second greatest third baseman in history, Eddie Mathews.

    Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

    The Boston Braves improved by four games when Elliott was traded to them. He won the MVP that year. The Braves took the next step forward in 1948 and won the NL pennant; Elliott has a .701 Offensive Winning Percentage, his second best season. Without Elliott, the Braves would not have won the pennant. Most of Elliott's teams posted winning records, although all of Elliott's Pirate teams were in double digits in games behind.

    Was he good enough that he could play regularly after passing his prime?

    Elliott played until age 36, and was a productive regular through age 34. At age 35, he was traded to the Giants, ostensibly to make room for Eddie Mathews, the hot Braves rookie of 1952. Elliott was shunted to the outfield, as the Giants were committed to Bobby Thompson at third, and they needed coverage for the injured Monte Irvin and for Willie Mays, who was drafted. He had his worst season, but had a better season next year, moving back to third base for the Browns and the White Sox. Elliott could possibly have continued to play regularly at third for 1-2 more seasons past that, but his play would have been fairly close to replacement level.

    Is he the very best baseball player in history who is not in the Hall of Fame?

    No, he is not.

    Are most players who have comparable statistics in the Hall of Fame?

    Most players who have comparable batting stats are NOT in the HOF. However, Elliott has a higher career Offensive Winning Percentage than any third baseman outside the HOF, other than Santo, and higher than Brooks Robinson and Pie Traynor.

    Do the player’s numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?

    Elliott scores 34.2 on HOF standards; this is below average for a HOFer.

    Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?

    Elliott's nickname was "Mr. Team". He was considered a consummate team player, and he usually played on winning teams. Elliott was also an excellent defensive third baseman; about at league average in fielding percentage, but with high range factors.

    Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame?

    He's the second best third baseman outside the HOF who is eligible, but not in. I rate Elliott behind Ron Santo, about even with Ken Boyer and Stan Hack, and ahead of Darrell Evans and Graig Nettles.

    How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?

    Elliott won the 1947 NL MVP award. His 1948 follow-up season was almost as good. In all fairness, Elliott won the award in a year when the superstars were having slightly down years, but Elliott did take the award with nine (9) first place votes, far more than anyone else.

    How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the players who played in this many All-Star games go into the Hall of Fame?

    Elliott was selected to seven (7) all-star teams, and probably merited two (2) more all-star selections.

    If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?

    In his better years, possibly. Elliott was probably the best position player on the 1948 Braves that did win the pennant. He was at least the second best player on the Braves, behind Spahn.

    In his Pirate years, the answer is "no". Elliott WAS the best player on that team, and the Bucs finished in the first division (usually), but always more than 10 games out.

    What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?

    Nothing as far as I can see.

    Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider.

    I believe that Elliott's nickname of "Mr. Team" speaks volumes here.
    "I do not care if half the league strikes. Those who do it will encounter quick retribution. All will be suspended and I don't care if it wrecks the National League for five years. This is the United States of America and one citizen has as much right to play as another. The National League will go down the line with Robinson whatever the consequences. You will find if you go through with your intention that you have been guilty of complete madness."

    NL President Ford Frick, 1947

  2. #2
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    --Elliot would not be an unreasonable choice. There is a real log jam f 2nd tier 3B candidates though, since the position is so lightly represented in Cooperstown. Any campaign for Elliot could not possibly gain steam until at least Ron Santo is inducted. You also have to discount his numbers somewhat for playing through WWII.
    --I'll agree he was the best 3B of the 1940s, but being the best at your position for a given decade has never ensured a spot in the Hall. Some decades simply don't have a Hall of Famer at every position. One 40s 3B is in the Hall, but George Kell is widely regarded as a mistake - the result of an over reliance on BA as a measure of player evaluation (personally I'm a big Kell fan, but that is only because he was the Tigers announcer when I was growing up - and sadly he remains the best 3B in Tigers history).

  3. #3
    I'm glad to see a thread about Elliot, I think he's one of the more underrated and underdiscussed players that within some reason for the Hall. I agree with Mark though, Elliot is hurt a little by piling up numbers during the depleted WWII years, and that there is such a logjam at 3B, that Elliot or anyone else really, don't stan much of a chance until Ron Santo gets in.

  4. #4
    Bob Elliott is just one of about at least 5 3B who are in the HOF range. Unfortunately for Elliott, he is towards the end of the list.
    Ron Santo is one of the other 3B.
    Dick Allen, Stan Hack, & Al Rosen also are in line before Elliott.

    While he did pile up some numbers during the war years, to his credit, his best years were post-war.

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    Quote Originally Posted by leecemark View Post
    I'm a big Kell fan, but that is only because he was the Tigers announcer when I was growing up - and sadly he remains the best 3B in Tigers history.
    ....so far. We've got out hopes up for the new guy.
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    --The only question with Cabrera is whether he can stick at 3B. His bat is definately HoF caliber for the position - and if he keeps up the pace for any position.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgarza View Post
    Bob Elliott is just one of about at least 5 3B who are in the HOF range. Unfortunately for Elliott, he is towards the end of the list.
    Ron Santo is one of the other 3B.
    Dick Allen, Stan Hack, & Al Rosen also are in line before Elliott.

    While he did pile up some numbers during the war years, to his credit, his best years were post-war.
    Allen should be in the HOF; I have seen the light. But he played more games at 1B and OF than at 3B, and very few games at third after 1967.

    Al Rosen is a guy who I have argued for before. He was, for a short time, the greatest third baseman of all time, at least on peak value. I support him for the HOF, but he did NOT have a long career, and his fade was due to back problems, so he doesn't get slack for that. (He gets a little slack for the start of his career being delayed due to WWII and being trapped in the minors behind Ken Keltner.)

    Hack's numbers are superficially better than Elliott's at first blush, but I would actually argue that Elliott was at least as good as Hack. Elliott and Hack are very comparable in quality, although different sorts of players. Hack was a better leadoff and OBP guy; Elliott had more power. Hack was a better percentage fielder; Elliott had greater range. They should both be in the HOF, and I consider them close enough in ability that they are pretty much at the same place in line.

    For career third basemen, Santo is first in line. Due to a longer career, I rank Ken Boyer about even with Hack and Elliott.
    "I do not care if half the league strikes. Those who do it will encounter quick retribution. All will be suspended and I don't care if it wrecks the National League for five years. This is the United States of America and one citizen has as much right to play as another. The National League will go down the line with Robinson whatever the consequences. You will find if you go through with your intention that you have been guilty of complete madness."

    NL President Ford Frick, 1947

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Fuzzy Bear View Post
    Due to a longer career, I rank Ken Boyer about even with Hack and Elliott.
    Ah, I knew I was missing somebody...Boyer! I have him before Elliott as well.
    Deacon White is another 3B I support strongly.

    If Bob Elliott played 2B, he might be the #1 overlooked player from that position, but 3B is so critically overlooked that Elliott is only the #4-6 overlooked player from that position.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by dgarza View Post
    Ah, I knew I was missing somebody...Boyer! I have him before Elliott as well.
    Deacon White is another 3B I support strongly.

    If Bob Elliott played 2B, he might be the #1 overlooked player from that position, but 3B is so critically overlooked that Elliott is only the #4-6 overlooked player from that position.
    Deacon White was a regular catcher who became a regular 3Bman with age. He was a professional player for 7 seasons before mlb and Bill James begin counting in 1876, at White's age 28.5.
    He came to Cleveland in 1868, nominally amateur, but he was from near Elmira NY. According to Marshall Wright he led the team in games played and played more at ss than at c.

    Setting White aside, I think that
    Heinie Groh, Ron Santo, and Darrell Evans should all be "in line" before Sutton, Leach, Hack, Elliott, Boyer, and Nettles. Maybe Groh shows some peak orientation on my part but . . .

    Groh, Hack, and Santo are in the BBF HOF
    Boyer leads the backlog among others at 12 votes, Evans 8, Sutton 3, Leach 3, Bando 3, Nettles 3, Rosen 2. Elliott may be underrated at 0.

    Sutton, Groh, Hack, Boyer, Santo, Nettles, and Evans are in the Hall of Merit.
    Leach is third in the backlog (20 of 50 ballots), just ahead of McGraw. Elliott, Ed Williamson, Traynor(HOF), Bando, and Rosen are between 30th and 60th, named on 10 to 4 ballots.

  10. #10
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    Bob Elliott really does not have HOF numbers.

    According to the NEWS HOF Gauge, here are the top third basemen of the century.

    1. Mike Schmidt 370
    2. Eddie Mathews 362
    3. George Brett 330
    4. Wade Boggs 317
    5. Ron Santo 287
    6. Frank Baker 285
    7. Chipper Jones 284
    8. Darrell Evans 281
    9. Brooks Robinson 274
    10. Stan Hack 271
    11. Sal Bando 259
    12. Jimmy Collins 250
    13. Heinie Groh 250
    14. Bob Elliott 249
    15. Graig Nettles 248
    16. Ken Boyer 246
    17. Scott Rolen 241
    18. Pie Traynor 240
    19. Ron Cey 237
    20. Buddy Bell 233

    According to the NEWS, the only third basemen who have HOF numbers and are not in the Hall are Ron Santo, Chipper Jones and Darrell Evans.

    Author of BASEBALL'S BEST: The TRUE Hall of Famers

  11. #11
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    I'd say this is one of the flaws of your approach. If a guy like Elliott is truly the 14th best 3B in history, it seems to me it's on the person saying he's not worthy to prove it by more than a reference to a numerical approach which uses a cutoff (and relies solely on one win share calculation)--and at that, a cutoff which doesn't induct as many major leaguers as are actually in the HOF. There's about 140 position players in Cooperstown, which means there's room for about 17-18 deep per position. Elliott clearly meets that by your approach, yet you let your cutoff say he's not worthy.

    Now, I don't happen to agree that Elliott is the 14th best 3B among major leaguers, and I don't happen to think Elliott is quite HOF caliber. However, I think he's close.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jalbright View Post
    There's about 140 position players in Cooperstown, which means there's room for about 17-18 deep per position.
    I find this to be a very interesting statement. It seems to imply that because THERE ARE 140 position players in the Hall - then there SHOULD BE that number there. But we all know (don't we?) that there are any number of undeserving players in the Hall.

    I would argue that there are way too many players in the Hall of Fame at the present time.

    And even if we could arrive at an appropriate total number of position players in the Hall - why would we think that there should be an equal amount from each position? Do we really think that there should be as many third basemen, for example, as shortstops or center fielders? If so, why?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Hoban View Post
    I find this to be a very interesting statement. It seems to imply that because THERE ARE 140 position players in the Hall - then there SHOULD BE that number there. But we all know (don't we?) that there are any number of undeserving players in the Hall.

    I would argue that there are way too many players in the Hall of Fame at the present time.

    And even if we could arrive at an appropriate total number of position players in the Hall - why would we think that there should be an equal amount from each position? Do we really think that there should be as many third basemen, for example, as shortstops or center fielders? If so, why?
    Regardless, the fact is that there are 140 position players in the Hall so its befitting to ensure that those inductees are the 140 best position players. Obviously that isn't the case, so we're going to be inducting some of the players who were overlooked that fit that Top 140 description.

    Bob Elliott doesn't, in my opinion. One of the 300 best players in baseball history? I could buy that. One of the best 200? No thanks.
    "The value of a stat is directly proportional to how good it makes Steve Garvey look." -- Nerdlinger

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Hoban View Post
    According to the NEWS HOF Gauge, here are the top third basemen of the century.

    1. Mike Schmidt 370
    2. Eddie Mathews 362
    3. George Brett 330
    4. Wade Boggs 317
    5. Ron Santo 287
    6. Frank Baker 285
    7. Chipper Jones 284
    8. Darrell Evans 281
    9. Brooks Robinson 274
    10. Stan Hack 271
    11. Sal Bando 259
    12. Jimmy Collins 250
    13. Heinie Groh 250
    14. Bob Elliott 249
    15. Graig Nettles 248
    16. Ken Boyer 246
    17. Scott Rolen 241
    18. Pie Traynor 240
    19. Ron Cey 237
    20. Buddy Bell 233
    This tells me that there was only 1 20th Century 3B (Frank Baker) who "should" have been in the HOF until 1980 (when Santo became eligible). That seems unreasonable. Pie Traynor was considered the best for a good portion on the century, and even he does not come close according to this formula.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Hoban View Post
    I find this to be a very interesting statement. It seems to imply that because THERE ARE 140 position players in the Hall - then there SHOULD BE that number there. But we all know (don't we?) that there are any number of undeserving players in the Hall.
    I believe there are more good non-picks out there than bad HOF choices already in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dgarza View Post
    This tells me that there was only 1 20th Century 3B (Frank Baker) who "should" have been in the HOF until 1980 (when Santo became eligible). That seems unreasonable. Pie Traynor was considered the best for a good portion on the century, and even he does not come close according to this formula.
    Why should this seem "unreasonable?" What it tells me is that in the first half of the century the more talented players did not play third base. The fact that this may be so does not particularly bother me. Why should it?

    Check out the top 20 position players according to the NEWS HOF Gauge.

    1. Babe Ruth 534
    2. Barry Bonds 497
    3. Ty Cobb 495
    4. Honus Wagner 480
    5. Willie Mays 452
    6. Tris Speaker 449
    7. Mickey Mantle 441
    8. Stan Musial 435
    9. Ted Williams 434
    10. Hank Aaron 428
    11. Eddie Collins 426
    12. Rogers Hornsby 411
    13. Lou Gehrig 410
    14. Joe Morgan 384
    15. Mel Ott 383
    16. Nap Lajoie 375
    17. Mike Schmidt 370
    18. Frank Robinson 367
    19. Pete Rose 367
    20. Rickey Henderson 365

    You will note that there is only one shortstop, one first baseman and one third baseman on this list. But there are four second basemen and thirteen outfielders. Should this "bother" me in some way? No, why should it?

    I never expected that the talent in baseball would be distributed "evenly" over the various positions. Why would anyone expect such a thing?

    Author of BASEBALL'S BEST: The TRUE Hall of Famers

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Hoban View Post
    Why should this seem "unreasonable?" What it tells me is that in the first half of the century the more talented players did not play third base. The fact that this may be so does not particularly bother me. Why should it?
    Because Stan Hack wasn't considered Hall worthy?

    <Check out the top 20 position players according to the NEWS HOF Gauge.

    1. Babe Ruth 534
    2. Barry Bonds 497
    3. Ty Cobb 495
    4. Honus Wagner 480
    5. Willie Mays 452
    6. Tris Speaker 449
    7. Mickey Mantle 441
    8. Stan Musial 435
    9. Ted Williams 434
    10. Hank Aaron 428
    11. Eddie Collins 426
    12. Rogers Hornsby 411
    13. Lou Gehrig 410
    14. Joe Morgan 384
    15. Mel Ott 383
    16. Nap Lajoie 375
    17. Mike Schmidt 370
    18. Frank Robinson 367
    19. Pete Rose 367
    20. Rickey Henderson 365

    You will note that there is only one shortstop, one first baseman and one third baseman on this list. But there are four second basemen and thirteen outfielders. Should this "bother" me in some way? No, why should it?>

    Another chance to tout yoru system. It doesn't bother you that your system based largely on peak has Rose 19th?
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  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Hoban View Post
    You will note that there is only one shortstop, one first baseman and one third baseman on this list. But there are four second basemen and thirteen outfielders. Should this "bother" me in some way? No, why should it?
    It shouldn't bother you in a 20-man pool.
    How about a much larger pool?

    I never expected that the talent in baseball would be distributed "evenly" over the various positions. Why would anyone expect such a thing?
    Your 3B HOF is virtually non-existent until the early 1980s.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Hoban View Post
    I never expected that the talent in baseball would be distributed "evenly" over the various positions. Why would anyone expect such a thing?
    Logical deduction?

    When a team has an uneven talent distribution (very strong at some positions, weak at others) they seek to remedy this situation. Obviously, each position has approximately equal playing time. A talented backup will be shifted to a position where the team is weak, rather than let him rot on the bench. If he cannot make the shift, the team will trade him to upgrade the weak position.

    So, in a perfect market, talent will be evenly distributed, or pretty close. Of course, many factors contribute to a real world where the talent market does not function perfectly.

    You have a system that says third base was bereft of any great players for the bulk of the Game's history. That strains credulity. How do you account for this? Your answer amounts to, "Hey, that's what the system says, so there were no great third basemen." It's circular logic.

    A more reasonable explanation points to the system. Any system has bases and assumptions that are its underpinnings. An approximation of what is real. Have you ascertained where the system is not a perfect reflection of reality? In what ways is it potentially underrating third basemen?

    Along these lines, there may be aspects of the position that make it inherently more difficult to handle over a long career, as compared to other positions. Is there some higher level of difficulty associated with the position that needs to be incorporated into a calculation of the value of those who play it?
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    --I think the problem lies in arbitrarily selecting a cut off point and saying "this is what makes a Hall of Famer". Why 280, not 300 or 260? A second problem is using just one metric to say a player is or is not a Hall of Famer. Win Shares or this derivitive of it can give a good ball park estimate of how good a player was or what kind of career he put together, but there is more to a Hall of Fame case than can be summed up in a single number.
    --Another issue is "what is the right number of players in the Hal of Fame. Maybe one person thinks it should be reserved for the top 3-4 player sof a generation and thinks Cooperstwon is way too big. Anither thinks it should be the top 30 or 40 and thinks Cooperstown is way too small. I think the sensible approach, as mentioned by Classic earlier, is to take the Hal of Fame for what it is - roughly 200 players - and try to identify the best players to fit that number.
    --The top half of that can probably easily be determined by Win Shares or any other half way decent measure. I don't think Mike's system labels anybody a Hall of Famer that I couldn't easily support (barring off field issues). Picking the back half is much more challenging. A guy 10 WS ahead of another may not be nearly as deserving for one reason or another. If we took Mike's top 100 and put them in and then debated who amoung the next 200 deserved the remaining spots we'd probably have a pretty good Hall.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Hoban View Post
    I find this to be a very interesting statement. It seems to imply that because THERE ARE 140 position players in the Hall - then there SHOULD BE that number there. But we all know (don't we?) that there are any number of undeserving players in the Hall.

    I would argue that there are way too many players in the Hall of Fame at the present time.

    And even if we could arrive at an appropriate total number of position players in the Hall - why would we think that there should be an equal amount from each position? Do we really think that there should be as many third basemen, for example, as shortstops or center fielders? If so, why?
    There are undeserving players in the Hall. That's not in dispute. However, the de facto standards are what they are. They're a good guide--and at the very least, the de facto standards are the mid-point of the discussion. Furthermore, I never said we had to bind ourselves to 18 players per position or to 140 position players, etc. What I said was, that's a starting point. If it can be convincingly shown that we should deviate from that starting point, let's do it. However, anyone who wants to deviate from the starting point should bear the burden of showing why we should make the deviation. But it seems to me that teams move players to fill holes all the time, and that every team has to field 8 position players every game (and a DH in games in AL cities), so it's reasonable to start there. As a starting point, it is not unreasonable to assume we should have equal numbers at each position.
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    Quote Originally Posted by leecemark View Post
    --The top half of that can probably easily be determined by Win Shares or any other half way decent measure. I don't think Mike's system labels anybody a Hall of Famer that I couldn't easily support (barring off field issues). Picking the back half is much more challenging. A guy 10 WS ahead of another may not be nearly as deserving for one reason or another. If we took Mike's top 100 and put them in and then debated who amoung the next 200 deserved the remaining spots we'd probably have a pretty good Hall.
    This is a good analysis. In choosing the arbitrary 280 NEWS benchmark for position players, I did want to make it highly selective. That is why I always say of those players "player X has OBVIOUS HOF numbers." Only 84 position players achieved that score. Do I think that there are other players (who may not have HOF numbers) who should be in the Hall? Yes. Roy Campanella comes to mind immediately (among others).

    For example, there are only eight third basemen who have a 280 NEWS score. For me, these players have OBVIOUS HOF numbers. Brooks Robinson is #9 with a 274 score. Do I think that Brooks belongs in the Hall? Yes. His numbers are not so OBVIOUS because it is so difficult to judge great fielding.

    A very fair question is whether there should be different benchmarks for different positions (as there is for pitchers). I am still wrestling with that question.

    Author of BASEBALL'S BEST: The TRUE Hall of Famers

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Hoban View Post
    This is a good analysis. In choosing the arbitrary 280 NEWS benchmark for position players, I did want to make it highly selective. That is why I always say of those players "player X has OBVIOUS HOF numbers." Only 84 position players achieved that score. Do I think that there are other players (who may not have HOF numbers) who should be in the Hall? Yes. Roy Campanella comes to mind immediately (among others).

    For example, there are only eight third basemen who have a 280 NEWS score. For me, these players have OBVIOUS HOF numbers. Brooks Robinson is #9 with a 274 score. Do I think that Brooks belongs in the Hall? Yes. His numbers are not so OBVIOUS because it is so difficult to judge great fielding.

    A very fair question is whether there should be different benchmarks for different positions (as there is for pitchers). I am still wrestling with that question.

    Author of BASEBALL'S BEST: The TRUE Hall of Famers
    The problem is, it's not hard to find a method to make the "obvious" picks and do fairly well with such picks. The true test of any approach is when it gets down to the gray area and how well it separates the wheat from the chaff at that level. I think that handcuffing oneself to a single derivative of win shares, despite my respect for win shares, will not be as effective as the application of good judgment, possibly informed by some win share measures. I see by your discussion of B. Robinson that you are implicitly conceding that the deterministic application of your method can be improved by the use of judgment. Also, the fact you use some other special formulas to deal with other cases concedes the same point. However, IMO you're still avoiding the true test--the gray area guys.
    Last edited by jalbright; 01-14-2008 at 04:34 PM.
    Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by jalbright View Post
    There are undeserving players in the Hall. That's not in dispute. However, the de facto standards are what they are. They're a good guide--and at the very least, the de facto standards are the mid-point of the discussion. Furthermore, I never said we had to bind ourselves to 18 players per position or to 140 position players, etc. What I said was, that's a starting point. If it can be convincingly shown that we should deviate from that starting point, let's do it. However, anyone who wants to deviate from the starting point should bear the burden of showing why we should make the deviation. But it seems to me that teams move players to fill holes all the time, and that every team has to field 8 position players every game (and a DH in games in AL cities), so it's reasonable to start there. As a starting point, it is not unreasonable to assume we should have equal numbers at each position.
    Very good point.

    Considering that professional baseball has existed at least since 1871, with the formation of the first professional league, that's 137 years of performance to consider when we're looking at a Hall of Fame. An institution that's supposed to highlight the greatest players in history must, by any reasonable definition, showcase the greatest players of each era. Consider the following "decades"

    19th Century
    1900s and 1910s
    1920s
    1930s
    1940s
    1950s
    1960s
    1970s
    1980s
    1990s and 2000s

    That's ten "decades". If we are going to see those fairly represented, I think electing two players per position from each "decade" is a fairly decent average from which to work. That's 20 players per position.

    As Jim pointed out quite correctly, all positions may not necessarily be created equal, but part of the history of a team sport includes highlighting each facet of that team. The burden of proof, such as it is, rests on the shoulders of those who would make the argument that a dispersement of representation should not be relatively equal amongst the positions. It's an argument I'm interested in hearing, but not one I've seen made yet.
    "The value of a stat is directly proportional to how good it makes Steve Garvey look." -- Nerdlinger

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Classic View Post
    As Jim pointed out quite correctly, all positions may not necessarily be created equal, but part of the history of a team sport includes highlighting each facet of that team. The burden of proof, such as it is, rests on the shoulders of those who would make the argument that a dispersement of representation should not be relatively equal amongst the positions. It's an argument I'm interested in hearing, but not one I've seen made yet.
    Actually, probability theory would indicate that it is more likely that you would get an excess of HOFs at one position and/or a shortage at some position than you would get everything perfectly balanced -- provided that you do not indicate in advance the specific positions where there should be a shortage or excess.

    Let's look at players at each position who had, as of 1999, 400+ career win shares. (I'm throwing out pitchers because of historical changes in pitcher usage.)

    C - 0 (Well, catchers do wear out more quickly than other position players because of the demands the position makes on the knees, and Josh Gibson has a MLE of over 400 win shares, but one would have reason to expect that this position might be low.)

    1B - 4
    2B - 4
    3B - 4
    SS - 3
    LF - 5 (it would be four if we had set the cutoff at 401 win shares)
    CF - 4
    RF - 10

    I have no idea why there's an excess at right field. It might just be something that happened.

    Likewise, there's a spike in the number of left fielders whom I see worthy of the BBFHOF as compared to the numbers of players at other positions. It doesn't show up for first basemen or right fielders or shortstops. Since it's not outside the realm of chance that there should be a excess at some previously unspecified position, it's not something I worry too much about.

    On the other hand, if there were significantly more people at LF, RF, and 1B in my lists of worthy players (taken as individual positions, and not as three positions lumped together) than there were at SS, 2B, and 3B (again, taken as three different positions), then I would have reason to worry that my system was somehow flawed.

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