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Steve Garvey

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  • #31
    Originally posted by The Commissioner
    Okay, if we want to caught up in a game of semantics we can, but I think the point that Chancellor was trying to make was a different one. That's fine lets' look at guys with 198+ hit seasons if that will make everyone jolly. What you are saying, Eth, about nice round numbers is a very valid point, but just not the one that is being argued here. I completely agree with you that too much is made over round numbers.( Afterall, does it make Kaline less of a ballplayer to have 399 career HR rather than 401?)The point is that collecting that many hits that many times is quite an accomplishment. It's not just something that happened by chance and you can say "Oh, wow, look at that quirky curiosity. Over 200 hits, six times. Say, that's kinda neat but doesn't really account for much." It takes a high level of playing ability over a sustained period of time. Now we can argue as to whether or not it is simply indicative of playing at a good level or playing at a great level. That is a fair and legitimate topic for debate. However to perceive this as some sort of insignificant random fact is beyond my comprehension.
    It isn't insignigicant or random but it isn't as important as people make it sound...and the signifigance of round numbers is precisley what is being argued/debated here. When a statement is made that player X is one of only X men to ever have X hits in X seasons you are placing a value on the number in this case 200 hits and saying that 200 hits is in fact greater then say 199 hits...If a player had 190+ hits 10 times but only topped 200 once he wouldn't make the list but might be just as good if not an even better hitter then the player with the 6 200 hit seasons

    With all the hits Garvey was getting in those years his average didn't really reflect it as he never even hit .320


    • #32
      Perhaps the dilemma is that, if Garvey is over the line, how much lower do we draw it? If he's Hall of Fame material, who else has a similar case/should be in and how do we distinguish between those people's cases and Garvey's?

      It's easy to picture him as being the "worst" (electable) first baseman who'd be "in," but just as easily, he could be the best first baseman who doesn't deserve election.

      Point being...on his own merits, I don't really feel the need to elect him until I've got a more orderly first baseman ranking. If, in the future, I can say with confidence that he's worse than Keith Hernandez, but better than Norm Cash (for example), then I'll be a lot more comfortable drawing the line below Garvey. Until then, I can wait. And so can he.

      It's better to make the mistake of excluding a worthy candidate in the short term, until you're absolutely convinced he belongs, than it is to elect someone you have little confidence in. Right now, I don't have a whole lotta confidence in Garvey being a Hall of Famer.
      "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


      • #33
        Hello all, I am a new site member, just discovered your board via I enjoyed reading this discussion and recently did a productivity comparison of several firstbase men because I was interested in the debate on whether Palmeiro and/or McGriff should be elected to the Hall upon their eligibility due solely to the 500 homerun acheivment. I came up with the following chart. I am using contemporary players who have been mentioned as Hall caliber players and who have played at least 10 years, players who are eligible but have not been inducted, and Hall of Famers already in, for comparison purposes. I am comparing first base to first base here, so all the players on my list are or were at that position for the majority of games throughout their careers, though they may have also played other positions. They are listed based on the runs created per 27 outs formula (a Bill James variation but the math and calculations or errors are mine) but any category sorting will produce more or less the same order. My take is that Garvey is clearly not a Hall of Fame caliber player. I did see him play many times, and as good a player as he was, he was never what I would consider great, though he may have had a great year or two. Of course "seeing" someone play is a totaly subjective judgement, so the arguement of "well I saw him play and he deserves the hall (or doesn't deserve the Hall)" is a unreliable measuring stick by which to judge players in my opinion. Baseball is a game of statistics, and while many stats can be manipulated to show just about anything someone wants, they are at least a solid tangible basis upon which to start to judge a players performance. There are 37 firstbase men on this list, past and present, and Garvey ranks statistically at or near the bottom of many of the major offensive categories. Of course he was a solid defensive player, but not of the keith Hernandez caliber (who is not in the Hall) so I don't think the arguement can be made that adding his defensive skills into the equation will put him over the top. Anyway my stats are at:
        All stats are of May 16th, 2003. Just thought I'd share my two cents worth as a new member.
        Last edited by drayfan; 07-05-2003, 09:53 AM.


        • #34
          Chancellor and drayfan, while I can hear what you're saying about where they ranks historically and not wanting to put Gravey in until Hernandez is in, I guess where I differ greatly is on the notion that these players even can be ranked to begin with. First, an aside, not putting someone in because someone more deserving isn't in is a case of two wrongs attempting to make a Harry Wright. You don't exacerbate one error by adding another one to it. If Garvey doesn't desevre induction, then that's fine. However, that judgement should be based on his own merits or lack thereof and be independent of whether or not someone else has been overlooked. Personally, I see Garvey and Hernandez as both being Hall calibre.

          In the case of ranking, I just don't buy into the concept that it is possible to rank players in such a finite fashion. Yes, certain rankings are obvious. If one asks "Which right fielder is more deserving of the Hall of Fame Babe Ruth or Al Kaline?", then a ranking is rather obvioius. However to attempt to rank "who is more deserving 1-5: Cobb, Williams, DiMaggio, Aaron, or Mays" becomes an exercize in the ridiculous. There is no clear way through any known methodology ever invented to satisfactorially settle that debate with a definitive answer. Along that same vein there is no known methodology that will allow us to rank the first basemen according to which one is more deserving. We can weigh various other stats, awards, recollections, observations, etc., but in the end there is just going to be a very blurry line separating the Hall of Famer worthy from the near misses. To attempt to figure out which side of that all too gray line some players deserve to be on is dificult enough. However to attempt to rank them in sort of definitive pecking order is not practical or even valid on any sort of serious level. There is no statistical formula that can tell us the answer to exactly where every player ranks and what rank merits Hall induction.


          • #35
            I do agree that it is impossible given known variables to rank a player in some type of pecking order based on statistics as to whom is the best at any given position or all time. However the only way to evaluate a player even somewhat objectively is based on his statistics. If it is possible, to use your example, to rate Ruth as a better player and more deserving of the Hall than Kaline, then it is possible somehow to rank Kaline better or more deserving than say Elmer Flick. The ranking is based largely on statistical performance. You are 100% right when you say there is no statistical formula to determine whether or not a player belongs in the Hall, but we have to use the best tools available to us to help assist in that determination. I also agree that putting someone in because someone else with comparable stats is in is also wrong. Bill James devoted an entire book to trying to determine objectively through various statistical methods who deserved Hall induction, covering many of these arguements. The Hall's rules for induction state the following: "5. Voting — Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played." So how do we determine given these factors who belongs in? All should be taken into account but ultimately it is the player's statistics that convey his worth to his team and thereby his worthiness as a Hall candidate. A given player may make extraordinary contributions to his community, be a great sportsman and an exemplary man of integrity and character, but if he doesn't have the stats to go along with these factors he doesn't go to the Hall. In my opinion if the Hall is to be used to acknowlege the greatest players in the game of all time neither Hernandez nor Garvey deserve to be in, based solely upon their qualifications as set down in the Hall rules, regardless of their statistical comparisons with other players. And I base my opinion largely on their statistical rankings and performances in the years in which they played. So while I do agree with much of what you say Commissioner I have to base many of my baseball opinions on the stats that the players put up in comparison with other players past and present, ergo their rankings compared statistically with these players. But of course this debate about the Hall has been going on since the first induction ceremony and probably won't ever be settled. In fact Lee Sinins, who is the author of the sabermetric baseball encyclopedia, has created what he calls the Baseball Immortals as an alternative to the Hall because he feels that so many players have been inducted that are not deserving. Interesting reading for anyone interested in the debate.
            Last edited by drayfan; 07-05-2003, 02:33 PM.


            • #36
              I think we're fairly close to the same page, just using different language. I'm definitely don't saying we can't use stats. On the contrary, I very much believe in stats as well. The question is a matter of which stats and how do you compare stats?For example
              how do you weigh the higher batting average of one player against the higher home run totals for another? The Flick/Kaline comparison would be a perfect example. Ruth was, if not the greatest player ever, certainly one of the top five and his stats tower above those of Kaline in practically every category. While it could be said Kaline was a much better fielder, the arguments in Kaline's favor would soon fall apart. With Flick and Kaline how can you compare which player was better? One has twice as many at bats the other. One has a much higher batting average and more stolen bases the other the better homerun total. Most important of all, one played in the deadball era and one in the modern era. Frankly, I can't find any way of making any sort of reasonable ranking. They were both great players, they are both worthy of Cooperstown.


              • #37
                You are right on about Flick and Kaline. I ran some stats and even a basic stat that theoretically should transcend era's, runs created, is misleading due to the unavailability of some statistics. RC/27 outs is 7.62 for Flick and 7.18 for Kaline and thier OPS is .837 for Flick and .856 for Kaline. The arguement could be made that kaline played more of his prime time in a pitchers era though, as much of his career was during the 1960's. Bill James gives Kaline 443 career Win Shares and Flick gets 291, but the problem that I see with Win Shares is exactly this in that it works against players such as Flick who were great but had their careers cut short for some reason in favor of players with longer careers. Another example would be McGwire vs. Palmeiro or McGriff. By the end of their careers they both will have more win shares than McGwire, but I don't know anyone who would argue that either was the better or more productive hitter. So point taken that comparing these guys is difficult to say the least. Back to Garvey though, and in the case of Garvey and Hernandez, it is a bit easier to compare players as there have been many good first base men in the last 30 years. Their stats just don't warrant Hall of Fame to my thinking. Even ignoring guys like Frank Thomas, Mark McGwire and Jeff Bagwell, who are Hall caliber, statistically guys like Mark Grace, Norm Cash, and Andres Galarraga have better offensive numbers. And Dick Allen is far better than any of these guys and he is not in. Again I don't support the arguement that because one player is in (or out) that another should be in (or out), but I do think that you have to look at the players numbers at least in comparison with his contemporaries in order to get an accurate picture of just how good he performed and how worthy of the Hall he is/was during the time that he played.
                Last edited by drayfan; 07-05-2003, 05:22 PM.


                • #38
                  I think Hernandez actually has a case given that he's recognized by a majority of fans as having been the greatest fielding first baseman in history.

                  Hernandez is recognized as being the best in some single aspect of the game in addition to his "normal" credentials.

                  Furthermore, he did it the longest of any great fielding first basemen. At least, so far as the gold gloves are concerned.

                  He has an argument similar to that of Bill Mazeroski or Ozzie Smith, neither of whom won an MVP or more than one World Championship.

                  That's something that Garvey doesn't have going for him, though. (The recognition of having been the best.) And it's poor logic for anyone to think Garvey deserves election while Hernandez does not.

                  Commish -- While I agree with you, in the abstract, that you can't withhold someone's due simply because they "should wait" for others to get in first, there is a specific case I have in mind here.

                  Dick Allen is the most qualified (eligible) first baseman out there. (IMO.) I'm not going to fail to push for a first baseman's election by the BBWAA simply because Allen hasn't been elected by the Vets yet.

                  But Keith Hernandez and Steve Garvey (and Don Mattingly) ARE all on the same ballot right now, so it behooves us all to decide which (if any) of those first basemen deserve a vote.

                  Depending on what day you ask me, Hernandez doesn't always make my ten-man ballot. But he definately gets the nod before Garvey (not that you shouldn't be able to vote for any number of candidates you feel are worthy...but that's another story.)
                  "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


                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Chancellor
                    Garvey was the Mark Grace of his time. A fine fielder and singles hitter who played many years without injury.

                    His black ink score is well below the average Hall of Famer. His gray ink score is a little below the average Hall of Famer. He meets only 31.5% of the Hall of Fame standards (relative to an average Hall of Famer meeting 50%.)

                    He never walked more than 50 times in a season, had a terrible 56% success rate in 145 attempts, and his park-adjusted OPS is only 16% better than league average which, quite frankly is very unimpressive for a first base candidate for the Hall of Fame.

                    Garvey's all-star selections and MVP finishes are better explained by his popularity and good public image (certainly assisted, in part, by the overall Dodger public image at that time.)

                    Despite 200 hits in 6 different seasons, Garvey only led the league in hits twice and only finished his career with 2,599 hits. He had a 0.48 walk-to-strikeout ratio.

                    His consecutive games streak is nice, but not a serious argument for induction.

                    He had only five seasons of 100+ RBI, which seems poor for a #3 hitter making an argument for Cooperstown.

                    I'm not saying that he's unqualified. I am saying he's far from the most qualified first baseman waiting his turn.
                    Garvey should not be mentioned in the same breath as Mark Grace when it comes to fielding. The reason he was switched to first base was because he couldn't make the throw from third base.



                    • #40
                      I've been away.

                      This discussion has been great. Everyone is making excellent points. I don't have much to add, but since I've been rather active up until now, I thought I'd check in.

                      Chancellor is quite right that in this specific case we have needed to rank Hernandez, Mattingly, and Garvey. And I think he's also right that Garvey is at the bottom of these rankings. When I've filled out mock ballots and had to cut a 1b, Garvey's been the one to go.

                      In terms of ranking players, I think what Commish and Dray are trying to describe is the level of precision of statistical measurement. Most statistics are good at making gross distinctions -- i.e., Ruth to Kaline to Flick. But the fine distinctions are a little harder -- Garvey vs. Hernandez vs. Grace. These are three very similar players with similar hitting statistics and styles, and different statistical tools will rank them differently.

                      Imagine you have a yardstick. The yardstick is very good at telling the difference between 35 inches and 23 inches; you don't have to measure carefully at all. It's still pretty good at telling the difference between 20 inches and 23 inches, but you've got to be a little careful. Between 22 and 23, it gets a little tricky. Between 22.4 and 22.5, you've got very little confidence you're figuring out which one is longer. The yardstick's level of precision is about an inch; maybe a half-inch if the user is very careful.

                      It's hard to know just what the level of precision is on some of these metrics we use to compare players. Now, since they have Ruth at the top and Uecker at the bottom, they're doing something right, but whether they distinguish properly between Garvey and Mattingly is another question altogether.


                      • #41

                        Imagine you have a yardstick. The yardstick is very good at telling the difference between 35 inches and 23 inches; you don't have to measure carefully at all. It's still pretty good at telling the difference between 20 inches and 23 inches, but you've got to be a little careful. Between 22 and 23, it gets a little tricky. Between 22.4 and 22.5, you've got very little confidence you're figuring out which one is longer. The yardstick's level of precision is about an inch; maybe a half-inch if the user is very careful.

                        It's hard to know just what the level of precision is on some of these metrics we use to compare players. Now, since they have Ruth at the top and Uecker at the bottom, they're doing something right, but whether they distinguish properly between Garvey and Mattingly is another question altogether. [/B]
                        That's a great analogy
                        GO CARDINALS!!!!


                        • #42
                          That was an excellent analogy, I'll have to remeber that for future use. And as an additional note I will say it is somewhat applicable in an offhand way to my point about Henandez and Garvey's qualifications for the Hall, in that if the difference is so negligible between them that the measurment is that difficult, then maybe they don't truely belong in the Hall, as the Hall should be for players whose qualifications are outstanding and obvious, if this makes sense in the way I'm trying to phrase it. In other words the candidate for the Hall should be so obvious that there really shouldn't be a debate, and if there is a significant debate that fact alone should make us wary of putting that candidate in the Hall.


                          • #43
                            That is a fair point, and worth remembering. However...

                            Similar players can be great players.

                            Compare Kaline and Clemente. Winfield and Kaline are similar too. All of these guys were similar in the field too -- fast (but not blazing) with cannon arms.

                            Duke Snider and Ken Griffey have similar numbers too (to date), and they were both good centerfielders.

                            Carlton Fisk and Gary Carter are very similar catchers. Bob Feller and Nolan Ryan (with period adjustments, and allowing for the war years) were very similar pitchers.

                            Of course, the best of the best -- Cobb, Ruth, Bonds, Wagner -- are not going to look much like anyone else.

                            But a lack of uniqueness alone does not mean one is not a HOFer.


                            • #44
                              Steve Garvey

                              Just wanted to throw out a name that isn't brought up all that much. He was one of the premier first basemen in the game for 70's and early 80's. Looking back at his stats, they were better than I remembered. Here are some of his achievements:
                              • 10-time all-star (only Bill Freehan - 11 and Ryne Sandberg -10 played in as many and are not in the HOF)
                              • MVP in 1974 and 4 other top 10's, including 2nd in voting in 1978
                              • 2 time All star game MVP
                              • 2 time NLCS MVP
                              • 4 time gold glove winner
                              • Grey ink of 142 - right around average HOFer
                              • His counting stats are a little light, with 2599 hits, 272 HRs and 1308 RBI's, but the power numbers were not bad for his era, being top ten in HRs 3 times and RBI's 7 times
                              • 1,207 consuective games played, fourth most all-time and NL record
                              • Outstanding post-season performer, .338/.361/.550 in 55 post season games, all well above his regular season numbers, including batting .417 to help the Dodgers win the 1981 world series

                              I would have liked to see him finish his career a little stronger. He dropped off significantly as the Padres starting first basemen from 1985 to 1986 before being a bench player in 1987 and out of baseball at the end of that year. He had 2,441 career hits at the age of 36 (by contrast Boggs only had 2,392 through age 36, and Winfield had 2,421 through age 36, for example), so a stronger finish and he could have made a run at 3,000.

                              I do think he falls short of the HOF line, but wanted to throw his name out there to start some discussion.


                              • #45
                                Steve Garvey was thought of as a HOF'er while he played. But his image took a serious nosedive when the bitter ex-wife spilled her guts, revealing he wasn't Johnny Perfect. The perception he was a great fielder took a hit, because a hard look revealed he did not do too much more than catch the ball at first (a lot was made of this during an all-star game where he had to throw a batter out at the plate).

                                Players from the seventies and eighties have taken a hard hit when it comes to HOF balloting. Without the milestone counting stats, a hitter from that era stands little chance of making it. (As opposed to the pitchers from that era, where many of them were able to make it to the HOF, after gaining big counting numbers.)
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