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The Bill James Gold Mine 2008

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  • The Bill James Gold Mine 2008

    In his newly released book, James estimates the hall of fame chances for dozens of players active in 2007. He also discusses the evolving changes in HOF standards. He writes:

    I have to begin here by making a very fundamental admission. To a large extent, the way that I have always looked at the Hall of Fame debate no longer works, or no longer can be expected to work.
    ---
    On a certain fundamental level this approach either
    a) no longer works, or
    b) never actually worked, or
    c) will need to be radically re-calibrated.
    ---
    The real standards for Hall of Fame election - the de facto standards - have always been much, much more liberal than the public thought they were or wanted them to be. People have always had the idea that the standard for selection to the HOF was Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle. In reality, almost from the day the institution was built, the real standard was more like Johnny Damon or Bernie Williams. Richie Ashburn is in the HOF, as are Larry Doby, Earle Combs, Earl Averill, Kiki Cuyler, Ed Rousch and Lloyd Waner. Those guys are much closer to Johnny Damon, Bernie Williams and Steve Finley than they are to Willie, Mickey and the Clipper.

    In order to carry the past standards forward, the HOF would have to start inducting twice as many people, or it's not going to get around to Damon and Bernie. My opinion is there will not be sufficient pressure to open the doors wider, because
    1) most of the public doesn't really understand what the historic standard has been, and
    2) those people who do understand by and large don't like it.

    Absent a massive adjustment by the selection process, which I don't think will happen, there is going to be a very significant shift in the standards for selection to the HOF. There's a new sheriff in Cooperstown. Most sportswriters will interpret that shift as resulting from the inflated scoring numbers of the modern era, but that's really not what is causing it; it's actually expansion.
    ---
    Let's assume that the HOF in the future will continue to induct two or three players per year. That means that there will be room for two or three players from each year of birth - five in one year, none in the next, but two or three on average. The standard I will use in this article, to try to figure out which active players have a chance to go into the HOF, is "is this player one of the two or three best-qualified players from a typical birth year?"


    I think that this raising of standards is something we already see happening. Is it right? Is it fair? Or should the HOF be opening the doors to increasing numbers of players from recent decades?
    Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam, circumspice.

    Comprehensive Reform for the Veterans Committee -- Fixing the Hall continued.

  • #2
    Ok, get ready for a 50 page thread! :grouchy :hyper:

    James is absolutely correct when he says:

    In reality, almost from the day the institution was built, the real standard was more like Johnny Damon or Bernie Williams. Richie Ashburn is in the HOF, as are Larry Doby, Earle Combs, Earl Averill, Kiki Cuyler, Ed Rousch and Lloyd Waner. Those guys are much closer to Johnny Damon, Bernie Williams and Steve Finley than they are to Willie, Mickey and the Clipper.
    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Freakshow View Post
      In order to carry the past standards forward, the HOF would have to start inducting twice as many people, or it's not going to get around to Damon and Bernie.
      Twice as many to get to Bernie Williams, but the Hall's going to have to induct at least 4 times as many people to get to Johnny Damon, at least judging by where Damon stands now.

      Actually, it's the VC that's going to have to step up to keep up with its own historical pace. I don't think the main election is that far off from its own norm.

      Comment


      • #4
        Those groupings are crude. It seems clear to me that Larry Doby, Earl Averill, and Edd Roush (note spelling) are closer to Joe DiMaggio than they are to Johnny Damon and Steve Finley, in everything but name recognition today.

        With all the changes in the Veterans Committees during the last 15 years, I'm not sure there is any fact of the matter how many the HOF is inducting, present tense, from the playoff era.

        They have made a good start on electing very few starting pitchers. Tom Seaver reached the majors in 1967. Does everyone remember him? The only more recent debutantes with bronze plaques are Fingers, Eckersley, Gossage, and Sutter.

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        • #5
          I dont see a problem with the hall of fame. There will ALWAYS be some kind of controversy, no matter what method you use to choose the hall of famers. Even if you say 'ok we will only elect the elite of the elite, like Mays and Mantle' , you will have people not satisfied. There will always be 'gray area'...an area where a guy can be voted in or voted out, with legit arguments both ways, no matter how high you raise the standards. . Is Nolan Ryan an 'elite'? Is Ken Griffey Jr? Is Willie Stargell? Is Phil Niekro?There will also always be comparisons made between the lowest calibre hall members, and the highest calibre of those left out...there will be overlapping....those out that are 'better' than those in and vice versa. This is simply because these is no exact, perfect way to evaluate players. You can make a stat that shows Jim Wynn is 'better' than many center fielders already in, but you can also make a stat that shows he is not even close to hall territory. There are legitimate debates about any player not in the 'automatic' range, and i think thats how it should be. makes for some interestting conversation.

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          • #6
            Sometimes I wonder whether Joe Morgan was personally influential. How many 2Bmen were in the Hall of Fame when he was inducted? A couple years later Rod Carew was another first balloteer.

            Fox, Mazeroski, McPhee. The next think I knew, Joe Morgan was a Vice President(?) and the Veterans Committee was gone.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by dgarza View Post
              Twice as many to get to Bernie Williams, but the Hall's going to have to induct at least 4 times as many people to get to Johnny Damon, at least judging by where Damon stands now.

              Actually, it's the VC that's going to have to step up to keep up with its own historical pace. I don't think the main election is that far off from its own norm.
              James currently demonstrates a little homer bias towards "his" team (Boston), such as he historically has shown towards KC.

              And yes, that list of CF is crude, ticked off the top of his head, I believe.
              Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam, circumspice.

              Comprehensive Reform for the Veterans Committee -- Fixing the Hall continued.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Freakshow View Post
                And yes, that list of CF is crude, ticked off the top of his head, I believe.
                I don't mind him putting together crude, top of his head, lists in interviews or in a medium such as this over the internet, but shouldn't he be placing more thought into a book that is being published?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Freakshow View Post
                  James currently demonstrates a little homer bias towards "his" team (Boston), such as he historically has shown towards KC.
                  Johnny Damon was KC and Boston in phase with Bill James

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    One of the greatest things about Bill James' work is that he doesn't cast things into stone. He will review things and if additional information sheds new light on a topic he will revise his opinion. This is a little unsettling as a reader because we expect opinions, once espoused, to never change.

                    I have totally given up on the VC after the Negro League fiasco and the Bowie Kuhn election. Let's just face facts and disband that group. They have simply hosed up the task they were given. I can understand the VC being boondoggled in the old days, but now there is no excuse for it. I would rather forego the old-timers that deserve than suffer another embarrassment like the last two.
                    Buck O'Neil: The Monarch of Baseball

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Paul Wendt View Post
                      Those groupings are crude. It seems clear to me that Larry Doby, Earl Averill, and Edd Roush (note spelling) are closer to Joe DiMaggio than they are to Johnny Damon and Steve Finley, in everything but name recognition today.
                      What Bill James is referring to here are the actual career numbers (counting stats) put up by the players which no one wants to actually look at or consider anymore but have historically played a huge factor in HOF voting.

                      Williams, Finley, & Damon's numbers are or will be in Damon's case very close to the historic HOF criteria. I agree with James that the criteria has now changed and a much lower number of players whether deserving or not will be elected. It has already started happening over the past 4-5 years.
                      My dream ballpark dimensions
                      LF: 388 Feet...Height 37 Feet...LCF: 455 Feet...CF: 542 Feet...Height 35 Feet
                      RCF: 471 Feet...RF: 400 Feet...Height 60 Feet
                      Location....San Diego

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Invoking the idea of expansion brings up an interesting question that relates to one's fundamental beliefs about the HOF.

                        If we continue to elect players at a similar historical rate, from a larger and larger league, then we are becoming essentially more selective, or are we?

                        If one thinks the HOF is about dominance of one's era, then we should increase the raw number of individuals elected to reflect the growing size of the league. If we assume, for rounding sake, that MLB players (group A) are the 99th percentile of baseball players in the world, and HOF players (group B) are the 99th percentile of that group, then as the raw size of the the original group grows, so should the second group.

                        However, if we are pitting all players' candidacy against the sort of abstract archetypal notion of greatness or "worthiness" then it is not a given that producing more of group A (lowering the bar, some may even argue) would imply an increase in those of group B.
                        THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT COME WITH A SCORECARD

                        In the avy: AZ - Doe or Die

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