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  • MLB Network Discusses Active Players' Chances

    Approximately 7:15pm Eastern on Satuday, July 25, MLB Network aired a brief segment about the Class of 2020 and the Hall of Fame. (Consider that this weekend would have been Induction Weekend had COVID-19 not shuttered the village.

    In the studio, gladhanding after the brief episode had played, were our friends Fran Charles, Mark DeRosa and, naturally, our good buddy Harold Reynolds. Interestingly, when asked what he loves about Induction Weekend, Reynolds emphasized getting to go to parties and Bob Costas buying dinner for people Costas runs into. DeRosa mentioned that the village reminds him going fishing with his dad in his youth.

    What interested me was this statement from Charles: "We thought that we would take a look at some of the game's current players and see if they're on track for the Hall of Fame."

    The categorized players as follows:

    "LOCKS"
    Miguel Cabrera
    Clayton Kershaw
    Albert Pujols
    Max Scherzer
    Mike Trout
    Justin Verlander

    DeRo - especially plugged JV and Pujols

    Next were the "STRONG CASE" guys:
    Robinson Cano
    Freddie Freeman
    Paul Goldschmidt
    Zack Greinke
    Yadier Molina
    Buster Posey
    Giancarlo Stanton
    Joey Votto

    Reynolds: "the suspension......knocked Cano down to this level".

    Reynolds thinks Molina and Posey should be in the "locks" category.

    Next were "ON THE HIGHWAY" players. Said Charles: "kind of interesting.....maybe even a little premature in some cases":
    Jose Altuve
    Nolan Arenado
    Cody Bellinger
    Mookie Betts
    Gerrit Cole
    Jacob deGrom
    Bryce Harper
    Francisco Lindor
    Christian Yelich

    Reynolds think Betts and Harper are going to Cooperstown. He said: "As deep as that list is, we're going to see more," referring to even younger guys (e.g. Acuna, Soto).

    Corey Kluber - "if he bounces back and pitches like he's capable of......" (Reynolds).

    I'm not praising or condemning any of the analysts or their opinions here, just sharing what I watched because I suspect that MLB Network's programming (on the whole) is indicative of the average baseball fan's attitudes and opinions these days.

    If those three view most of these players as over the line, or well on their way there, then it stands to reason that a good number of BBWAA voters do too.
    "It is a simple matter to erect a Hall of Fame, but difficult to select the tenants." -- Ken Smith
    "I am led to suspect that some of the electorate is very dumb." -- Henry P. Edwards
    "You have a Hall of Fame to put people in, not keep people out." -- Brian Kenny
    "There's no such thing as a perfect ballot." -- Jay Jaffe

  • #2
    Soto and Acuna just started their third season, Harold. Pump the brakes.

    Comment


    • #3
      What makes Giancarlo Stanton a strong case? His career to this point is a lesser version of Albert Belle and he gets a hang nail and goes on the IL for 60 days. It is also way too early to declare Freddie Freeman as a strong case. His career to this point is a much lesser version of Don Mattingly.

      Comment


      • #4
        While their bats have had similar value, Stanton has added more value in other aspects of his game and has a higher rate of production. That is, Stanton has more or less equaled Belle's offensive production in significantly less playing time.

        While Belle may well have deserved an MVP, Stanton actually won one.

        At this point, I like Belle's HOF case better, but the real point here is that Stanton's off to a "strong" start. If he can double what he's done, he's an easy choice when it's over. That won't happen so it's a question of what he'll do in the second half. But unlike Belle, Stanton has the opportunity to add to case.

        I agree with you. It's debatable even to say that Stanton is on a "Hall of Fame path".
        "It is a simple matter to erect a Hall of Fame, but difficult to select the tenants." -- Ken Smith
        "I am led to suspect that some of the electorate is very dumb." -- Henry P. Edwards
        "You have a Hall of Fame to put people in, not keep people out." -- Brian Kenny
        "There's no such thing as a perfect ballot." -- Jay Jaffe

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Chadwick View Post
          While their bats have had similar value, Stanton has added more value in other aspects of his game and has a higher rate of production. That is, Stanton has more or less equaled Belle's offensive production in significantly less playing time.

          While Belle may well have deserved an MVP, Stanton actually won one.

          At this point, I like Belle's HOF case better, but the real point here is that Stanton's off to a "strong" start. If he can double what he's done, he's an easy choice when it's over. That won't happen so it's a question of what he'll do in the second half. But unlike Belle, Stanton has the opportunity to add to case.

          I agree with you. It's debatable even to say that Stanton is on a "Hall of Fame path".
          I hear you. I just don't see how they can possibly rank Greinke and Votto in the same category as Stanton and Freeman. If Greinke isn't considered a lock by now, who is from his generation of pitchers? Greinke, Kershaw and Verlander are the three pitchers currently active who I am confident enough to throw the "Future HOFer" moniker in front of.

          As of this post, Joey Votto has a .421 career OBP and a 150 OPS+ with season 14 just barely underway. He is in the stage of his career where whatever he can produce is an added bonus. Outside of not having the 2000 hits older writers seem to get stuck on, I don't see him needing to do anything more to get into the HOF. Freeman and Stanton are maybe 50% of the way there and Stanton needs to stay healthy and have at least another 4-5 very good seasons. Easier said than done. I sometimes wonder what these talking heads on MLB Network do in terms of research before putting together a show like this.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by jjpm74 View Post
            I hear you. I just don't see how they can possibly rank Greinke and Votto in the same category as Stanton and Freeman.
            Yes, Greinke and Votto will have tougher roads to hoe than the guys listed as "locks" even though part belong in that top group. It's obviously a perception problem they have. Shows you just how much some people still rely on the old ways of evaluating a candidate. That's why I rooted for Greinke (not Arrieta) to win that Cy Young and for Votto (not Stanton) to win that MVP. In both cases, it was awfully close and when you get to the point that you're splitting hairs between the guys, I'll admit that my Hall of Fame sentiments can encourage my final decision in such cases.

            I sometimes wonder what these talking heads on MLB Network do in terms of research before putting together a show like this.
            I expect with very few exceptions (Brian Kenny foremost among them), they read the show prep that the studio researchers put in front of them. For example, it would surprise me if Harold Reynolds visited Baseball Reference, himself, once a week.
            "It is a simple matter to erect a Hall of Fame, but difficult to select the tenants." -- Ken Smith
            "I am led to suspect that some of the electorate is very dumb." -- Henry P. Edwards
            "You have a Hall of Fame to put people in, not keep people out." -- Brian Kenny
            "There's no such thing as a perfect ballot." -- Jay Jaffe

            Comment


            • #7
              I am very surprised they have Cano as strong case. Would think his steroid suspension would completely eliminated him and put him in the Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, Manny Ramirez, and Kevin Brown category.

              Also agree with JPM, there is no way Greinke and Votto should be in the same category as those other players. I would lean on Greinke being a lock right now. Freeman, Goldschmidt, and Stanton have a long way to go in my opinion. The catchers are tricky. I don't think either are hall of famers, but I have accepted the fact that Yadier is going skate in. If Posey does not put a few more strong years together, I don't see him making it.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by DaKid12 View Post
                I am very surprised they have Cano as strong case. Would think his steroid suspension would completely eliminated him...
                I won't distract from this thread by opening a larger PED conversation, but you're right - and they noted that. The comments were brief and not evenly distributed on the show, but it was specifically stated that Cano would be a "lock" if not for the suspension. Reynolds' opinion was that Cano belongs in Cooperstown anyway. I hate to agree with the man, but when he's right, he's right.
                "It is a simple matter to erect a Hall of Fame, but difficult to select the tenants." -- Ken Smith
                "I am led to suspect that some of the electorate is very dumb." -- Henry P. Edwards
                "You have a Hall of Fame to put people in, not keep people out." -- Brian Kenny
                "There's no such thing as a perfect ballot." -- Jay Jaffe

                Comment


                • #9
                  Grienke and Votto deserve to be in, but there are sufficient perceived soft spots in their ledgers that it pretty plausible they could have a hard time getting to 75%.

                  So its probably fair enough that they were denied "lock" status in this list (that was probably assembled pretty hastily and ad hoc for a content-starved broadcast anyhow). Somebody has to be the best player that's not a lock, after all.

                  With regard to Freeman, he's kind of snuck up on people (like me); he's got a strong all-around game and has put together a nice decade, although I suppose it lacks a signature season. Yes, his stats are kind of pale Mattingly at this point, but (a) that's pretty darn good, and (b) he's still playing, is just 30 years old, has no major health issues (other than COVID-19, but he'll presumably recover fully), and is showing no signs of decline at all (knock on wood).

                  Give Mattingly two, three, five more peakish seasons and he'd have a plaque; it's not unreasonable to project Freeman to extend his peak a couple more years at minimum. Granted, all the 2020 numbers are going to have a big Corona-shaped asterisk attached, but that is what it is.

                  Regarding Stanton, as has been said, it's all about staying healthy and avoiding an early decline. Per at-bat, he has hit home runs at a simply prodigious rate; given how much time he's spent on the shelf, the numbers he has put up anyway so far are extraordinary. He just has to do more of it than he's done so far.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Chadwick View Post
                    While their bats have had similar value, Stanton has added more value in other aspects of his game and has a higher rate of production. That is, Stanton has more or less equaled Belle's offensive production in significantly less playing time.

                    While Belle may well have deserved an MVP, Stanton actually won one.

                    At this point, I like Belle's HOF case better, but the real point here is that Stanton's off to a "strong" start. If he can double what he's done, he's an easy choice when it's over. That won't happen so it's a question of what he'll do in the second half. But unlike Belle, Stanton has the opportunity to add to case.

                    I agree with you. It's debatable even to say that Stanton is on a "Hall of Fame path".
                    The main difference between Belle and Stanton is that Belle had about 400 more games played, which is about 40% in this case. With strike credit that becomes even moreso. he was also a much better hitter for average than Stanton, drove in many more runs, and had more 'monster seasons'.

                    To call Stanton a 'strong case' for the HOF at this point is ridiculous.

                    The only positive for him is that he got off to such an early start, it kind of balances out all the injury seasons and missed games. Even so, his batting average is only .269 and he hasn't hit his decline yet. It will likely fall below .250 for his career by the time he is done. He also is wildly inconsistent from season to season. He is kind of a less athletic version of Jose Canseco. I think Canseco is a better match for him than Belle.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Cougar View Post
                      Grienke and Votto deserve to be in, but there are sufficient perceived soft spots in their ledgers that it pretty plausible they could have a hard time getting to 75%.

                      So its probably fair enough that they were denied "lock" status in this list (that was probably assembled pretty hastily and ad hoc for a content-starved broadcast anyhow). Somebody has to be the best player that's not a lock, after all.

                      With regard to Freeman, he's kind of snuck up on people (like me); he's got a strong all-around game and has put together a nice decade, although I suppose it lacks a signature season. Yes, his stats are kind of pale Mattingly at this point, but (a) that's pretty darn good, and (b) he's still playing, is just 30 years old, has no major health issues (other than COVID-19, but he'll presumably recover fully), and is showing no signs of decline at all (knock on wood).

                      Give Mattingly two, three, five more peakish seasons and he'd have a plaque; it's not unreasonable to project Freeman to extend his peak a couple more years at minimum. Granted, all the 2020 numbers are going to have a big Corona-shaped asterisk attached, but that is what it is.

                      Regarding Stanton, as has been said, it's all about staying healthy and avoiding an early decline. Per at-bat, he has hit home runs at a simply prodigious rate; given how much time he's spent on the shelf, the numbers he has put up anyway so far are extraordinary. He just has to do more of it than he's done so far.
                      Freeman is not at all comparable to Mattingly. Mattingly was a high average guy who drove in a ton of runs, but only had 4-5 great seasons. Freeman is more the steady guy who is good year after year. He is like an injury prove version of Eddie Murray, who happens to be his 'most comparable' player at every age of his career thus far.
                      Freeman (like Stanton) needs to basically double his career thus far to be a strong HOF candidate..which is not something we can ever count on. He is the type of guy who needs great counting numbers.

                      I'm surprised that Josh Donaldson is not on any of these lists. And Machado.

                      Also missing are the #6-10 active leaders in WAR among position players.

                      To even think about Bellinger, Lindor or Cole is crazy at this point.
                      Last edited by willshad; 07-26-2020, 10:59 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I disagree with a lot of the list, no surprise. I dont see Molina as a strong case, Stanton, Goldschmidt, Altuve, and several others are jokes.
                        “There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to shame the devil.” Walter Lippmann

                        "Fill in any figure you want for that boy (Mantle). Whatever the figure, it's a deal." - Branch Rickey

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by willshad View Post

                          Freeman is not at all comparable to Mattingly. Mattingly was a high average guy who drove in a ton of runs, but only had 4-5 great seasons. Freeman is more the steady guy who is good year after year. He is like an injury prove version of Eddie Murray, who happens to be his 'most comparable' player at every age of his career thus far.
                          Freeman (like Stanton) needs to basically double his career thus far to be a strong HOF candidate..which is not something we can ever count on. He is the type of guy who needs great counting numbers.

                          I'm surprised that Josh Donaldson is not on any of these lists. And Machado.

                          Also missing are the #6-10 active leaders in WAR among position players.

                          To even think about Bellinger, Lindor or Cole is crazy at this point.
                          The comparison of Freeman to Mattingly wasn't that fine-grained, I don't believe; it was more just based on their career batting lines.

                          DM: .307/222/1099
                          FF: .293/227/805

                          Not identical, but close enough for government work.

                          When you drill down, they're not especially similar, true...Mattingly peaked early, and very high, and then had a pedestrian second act, while Freeman has been more steady, as you note.

                          Freeman walks more and has a little more home run power, while Mattingly hit for a better average and piled up boatloads of RBI batting behind Rickey Henderson and Willie Randolph.

                          ​​​​​​​But they were both LHB first basemen who, other than a dearth of foot speed, did everything on a baseball field exceedingly well, so it's not an especially far-fetched comparison.

                          The important distinction here is that Mattingly put these stats up over a career that ended at age 34 when back trouble that had hindered him for years brought his career to a premature close.

                          Some like DM for the Hall as is, but the general consensus is that he was probably 2-3 strong seasons from being a likely HOFer, 4-5 from being a lock.

                          So it's fair to say Freeman is in roughly the same position now, except he's only 30, appears to be still at or near the peak of his powers, and has minimal injury concerns.

                          Hence, it seems pretty plausible that FF will have at least the 2-3 more good years to get into the likely range, if not the 4+ to get very likely.

                          Now, it's not that simple - again, the DM-FF comparison is limited; Freeman never won a MVP, never led his league in BA or RBI, and never hit HR in eight straight games. No one ever suggested (at least not yet, and it's not likely to happen now) that Freeman may be the best player in baseball (even excepting Trout, who's off the chart in some Mays/Cobb/Ruth higher plane); for a few seasons, people thought Mattingly was.

                          Given that he lacks Mattingly's peak, Freeman will need to do a little more over his career to build a strong HOF argument. But the foundation for such a case is in place.
                          .

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by 1905 Giants View Post
                            I disagree with a lot of the list, no surprise. I dont see Molina as a strong case, Stanton, Goldschmidt, Altuve, and several others are jokes.
                            Molina is almost certainly one of the half dozen best fielding catchers since the advent of modern protective gear. That's a pretty good case all by itself. Add a couple WS titles, 2000 games caught, 2000 hits...I suppose a very Small Hall guy might say the case is weak, but that seems like grading on a pretty steep curve to me.

                            The others you mention - yes, to induct any of them now would be jokes. But these are guys who are multiple All-Stars with abundant postseason plaudits and league leaderships in important statistical categories. To suggest they're on a career path that could plausibly end in Cooperstown - which is all that was posited in the segment - is not remotely unreasonable. Indeed, I think it's essentially a simple statement of fact that shouldn't be controversial in the slightest.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Cougar View Post

                              The comparison of Freeman to Mattingly wasn't that fine-grained, I don't believe; it was more just based on their career batting lines.

                              DM: .307/222/1099
                              FF: .293/227/805

                              Not identical, but close enough for government work.

                              When you drill down, they're not especially similar, true...Mattingly peaked early, and very high, and then had a pedestrian second act, while Freeman has been more steady, as you note.

                              Freeman walks more and has a little more home run power, while Mattingly hit for a better average and piled up boatloads of RBI batting behind Rickey Henderson and Willie Randolph.

                              ​​​​​​​But they were both LHB first basemen who, other than a dearth of foot speed, did everything on a baseball field exceedingly well, so it's not an especially far-fetched comparison.

                              The important distinction here is that Mattingly put these stats up over a career that ended at age 34 when back trouble that had hindered him for years brought his career to a premature close.

                              Some like DM for the Hall as is, but the general consensus is that he was probably 2-3 strong seasons from being a likely HOFer, 4-5 from being a lock.

                              So it's fair to say Freeman is in roughly the same position now, except he's only 30, appears to be still at or near the peak of his powers, and has minimal injury concerns.

                              Hence, it seems pretty plausible that FF will have at least the 2-3 more good years to get into the likely range, if not the 4+ to get very likely.

                              Now, it's not that simple - again, the DM-FF comparison is limited; Freeman never won a MVP, never led his league in BA or RBI, and never hit HR in eight straight games. No one ever suggested (at least not yet, and it's not likely to happen now) that Freeman may be the best player in baseball (even excepting Trout, who's off the chart in some Mays/Cobb/Ruth higher plane); for a few seasons, people thought Mattingly was.

                              Given that he lacks Mattingly's peak, Freeman will need to do a little more over his career to build a strong HOF argument. But the foundation for such a case is in place.
                              .
                              Mattingly was widely regarded as the best player in the game in the mid-late 80s. Freeman is more of a; 'Oh yeah, he's actually pretty darn good' type of guy. Not to say he can't end up a HOFer, but he needs to maintain his current level for a long time to do so. Again, I think that Eddie Murray is a much better comp than Mattingly.

                              Comment

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