2018 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees

I don’t really have much to say–really, I’m just starting this because I wanted to bring up one question, and there’s no other appropriate thread: Is Jim Thome really better than Edgar Martinez? Thome played for kinda long and hit a lot of home runs, right? Still, didn’t Edgar play for a long time, too; and, to me, he was a hitting machine. I feel like he’s underrated. (The other picks seem reasonable to me.)

25 thoughts on “2018 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees

  1. People often don’t remember how great Thome was because he didn’t play for a powerhouse team. But yes, he’s better than Edgar, although Edgar deserves to be in.

    I asked you before if a DH should be in the Hall and you were suuuuper iffy.

  2. People often don’t remember how great Thome was because he didn’t play for a powerhouse team.

    That’s what I’d say about Edgar. Didn’t the Indians, White Sox, and Phillies have strong teams when Thome played for them? Was Thome a really good hitter or was he basically just a home run guy?

    Shoot, I forgot that Martinez DH a lot, although I can’t remember how long. Thome didn’t DH much?

    I’m a lot iffier on Hoffman really.

    Didn’t he have a lot of really good years? I recall there was at least a decent stretch when was really dominant.

  3. I’m too tired right now to get into a stats dive (for worthiness), but for the DH consideration:

    Thome: from 1991 to 2005 (his last year in Philly), he played in 1,098 games at first base, 494 games at third base, and 127 games at DH. That’s 8.45 games per season at DH. It’s only when he moved to the White Sox (2006, his 16th year in the league) that he went to DH full time, appearing in only 8 games at first base and 691 games at DH over parts of an additional TEN seasons.

    Edgar: from 1987 to 1994 (eight seasons), he appeared in 557 games at third base, 2 games at first base, and 80 games at DH. From 1995 to 2004 (his last ten seasons), he appeared at first base 26 times, third base 7 times, and DH 1,323 times. I’m almost sure that he’s not in because of the DHing, although he came very very very close. I don’t know how much eligibility he has left, but if he has at least another year, he’s going in.

  4. Tim Kurkjian’s ballot: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Jim Thome.

    Jerry Crasnick’s ballot: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Jeff Kent, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Jim Thome.

    This was Omar Vizquel’s first year of eligibility too, and if I were a betting man I’d say he gets in someday, either the traditional way or election by the veterans committee.

  5. I’m almost sure that he’s not in because of the DHing, although he came very very very close.

    And that makes sense. Or at least I’m sympathetic to that position. Still, if any DH is going to get in, he seems like a worthy candidate.

    I love Omar, and I was sick when the M’s traded him. (I felt better after seeing how good A-Rod turned out to be, but I still felt ambivalent about the trade.)

  6. This is a slightly tangential topic, possibly deserving of a separate thread, but I’m going to bring it up here. The topic involves whether use we should view players that used PEDs as cheaters that don’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame–even though the league and union largely turned a blind eye to this use. This last part is crucial, and I should that I’m asserting this as a fact, when it may not be. If this last part is wrong, then the morality of PED usage is less ambivalent–i.e., its wrongness seems more certain. But if the league, union, and players, managers, fans, largely turned a blind eye, this is equivalent to tacit approval in my view –this type of reaction supersedes the letter of the law in my view, especially in the context of deciding whether players should receive harsh punishment, such as denying entrance to the Hall of Fame.

    The topic came to mind after hearing Will Cain’s comments–namely, he advocated barring PED users from the HOF, based on the fact that they cheated, arguing that, while some HOF members may have cheated to some degree, PED use is much more egregious. On one hand, this makes sense, but in my view, the scales tip back in the other direction if the league, etc. largely gave tacit approval of this.

    What do you guys think?

  7. I feel like we’ve been over the PED thing but I’ll answer later anyway. You probably know how I feel. I just repeat everything Tim Kurkjian says anyway.

    I’m curious, though, about your being sympathetic to the voters who don’t think a DH deserves to be in the hall, while you have no issue with a career closer going into the hall. What’s the difference to you between a guy who gets 4 plate appearances in every game but doesn’t play the field, and a guy who throws the ball for 3 outs every four games?

  8. Off the top of my head, I’d say that the DH seems like a dramatic alteration to the position and game overall. Additionally, I see the pitching of closers as a specialized and difficult skill–that is, it can be more difficult than pitching of starters or even middle relievers. Consider this analogy: imagine if football teams had two field goal kickers, one that was used only to win or tie games, and the other for all other situations. The nature of the kicks aren’t the same, and I would argue the former is much more difficult. That’s sort of how I see the pitching for closers. Hitting for the DH doesn’t seem to be that way at all. Indeed, not allowing them to play defense, creates advantages for them and their teams without any real countervailing factor. And while the position is specialized the nature of the hitting isn’t.

  9. That’s not a bad answer, but which is more valuable to a team: a starting pitcher who reliably, every five games, throws five or six innings and gives up only 1 or 2 runs, or a pitcher who only gets three outs every four games, and only when his team is up by 1 to 4 runs?

    Keith Law’s argument, one which I’m leaning in favor of, is that if a closer could throw five innings every five games, he would. The real specialist with the real skills is the starter. Even the fifth starter.

  10. I think the value of a starting pitcher and closer is pretty close, although a part of me leans towards a great closer. Go back to my analogy: how valuable would it be to have a field goal kicker who was great at kicking game-winning/tying field goals? Or to expand this: Let’s say you had a QB, a batter, or a basketball, who may not score a lot or put up big numbers in the regular season, but they were totally phenomenal at making crucial plays in the playoffs? (NBA example: Mike Bibby: NFL example: Russell Wilson). My sense is that many people undervalue these type of players. Going back to baseball. I continue to believe the 1990s Braves teams underachieved in the post-season, despite having a great starting rotation, because they lacked a really good closer, and I recall they had a good one the one time they won it all. (John Rocker, if I’m not mistaken.)

    Edit

    I thought of another angle on this: Suppose you had a field goal kicker who was reliable on every kick, except the game tying/winning kicks (i.e., pressure situation kicks)? How valuable would they be? I would say they wouldn’t be very valuable at all–so much so, you’d have to look for another. (Blair Walsh had been like this for the Seahawks.)

  11. Your analogy’s not working for me (yet; give me time) because of the 310 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, only 2 were exclusively kickers: Jan Stenerud and Morten Anderson. I’m not saying this justifies anything, but if only three guys in 55 years have made it in from that position, I kind of question the true value of a kicker who is money on every game-winning kick, since the league doesn’t seem to value any kicker at all.

    edit: I forgot Don Hutson was a DL too. So it’s only two exclusive kickers in the hall of fame.

  12. I think the kicker who always (and only) kicks a game-winning field goal is as valuable as a hitter who always (and only) hits a walk-off homer. Would you keep that guy on your roster, and if you did, would he be a hall-of-famer?

  13. Six out of 51 Super Bowls have been decided by 3 points or fewer. Add the one Super Bowl that ended in overtime (although it’s a case where a FG didn’t come into play) and you have 7/51. Now, I realize these numbers would probably be different if each team had a kicker who was money on game-winning FGs, because it would obviously affect your decision making on almost any 4th down decision in the 3rd and 4th quarters, but still. I know it would be awesome to have him, but how valuable is he, really?

  14. I think you may be moving a bit too far from what the analogy was suppose to illustrate–namely, the difference between starting pitchers and closers. I also tried to show how closers have a lot of value. In football, having two kickers, one for game winning/tying kicks and one for all the others, is not a realistic scenario. But the analogy is trying to show several things, I think. First, not all pitches (or kicks, points, completions, etc.) are equal. I think stats people believe this, but I don’t. Don’t you think the goal tying/winning kicker would have an incredibly hard job?
    To me, it’s obvious.

    Second, I hoped it would awaken a sense of how important and meaningful performing in crucial/pressure situations can be. As I mentioned, a kicker would be almost worthless if they were terrible in pressure situations, even if they were great in every other situation. To me, pitchers are also like goalies in hockey or soccer. You need very good goalies to win championships. Imagine if you had a goalie that was great for the entire game, but sucked at end when games were close. I’d argue that such a goalie would make it nearly impossible to win a championship.

    Or how about this? Let’s say that in baseball, pitchers have to pitch a complete game. Let’s say you had a pitcher who was lights out for seven innings, but totally sucked in the last two, when the games were close. The value of pitcher would likely diminish (although maybe not as much as a goalie or kicker).

  15. Okay, yeah. I see it now.

    I still don’t think it works. A closer comes in pretty much only when it’s a save opportunity. This means his team is up by one, two, or three runs. Coming into a game to get three outs when your team is up by three runs has to be one of the easiest jobs in baseball, right? How often does a pitcher come into a game, pitch one inning, and give up three runs?

    Granted, coming in with a one-run lead might be different. But shoot, how many pitchers (starters or relievers) can reliably enter a game and give up no runs in one inning? That’s most innings in baseball.

    Coming in with a two-run lead in the 9th inning, a closer can give up one run every time and always get the save. I’m trying to move away from citing ERA as a useful stat, but since it’s one we’re both familiar with, one run in one ninth inning is a 9.00 ERA. And you still get the save.

    Maybe it is valuable to be able to close the door, no matter what the score is, if your team is ahead. But how difficult is it?

  16. The key is the stakes of situation and the pressure it generates, especially during the post season. Let’s say two people have to hit a target ten feet away with a football, and if they hit the target four or more times they win a billion dollars each, while if they fail their families would die. Let’s say one person will make the first seven throws and the next person will throw the last three. Suppose the first guy hits the target three times, the second person’s job isn’t easy, right? That’s kinda the situation a closer faces, especially game 7 of a World Series.

  17. Would a .500-hitting career 9th-inning pinch-hitter deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? Because that’s almost the same thing.

  18. If they had enough opportunities, I’d seriously consider it, but can you imagine a pinch-hitter having enough opportunities to warrant this? The role a pinch hitter plays in a game seems way more limited, in terms of impact and number of opportunities.

  19. In case you were wondering (because I was), Trevor Hoffman pitched in six post-season series.

    1996 NLDS (vs. St. Louis): 2 games. 1.2 IP. 3 H, 2 R, 10.80 ERA, 1 loss, 0 saves.

    1998 NLDS (vs. Houston): 4 games. 3.0 IP. 3 H, 1 R, 0.0 ERA, 2 saves.

    1998 NLCS (vs. Atlanta): 3 games. 4.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2.08 ERA, 1 save.

    1998 WS (vs. New York): 1 game. 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 9.00 ERA, 0 saves.

    2005 NLDS (vs. St. Louis): 1 game. 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0.00 ERA, 0 saves.

    2006 NLDS (vs. St. Louis): 1 game, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, , 0.00 ERA, 1 save.

    It’s a total of 12 games with 4 saves, 1 loss, and 1 win (I need to check what happened with Hoffman, but when a closer gets a win, it almost always means a blown save) with a 3.46 ERA. Respectable, but if a closer gets in the hall for being clutch, I don’t think this qualifies.

  20. but if a closer gets in the hall for being clutch, I don’t think this qualifies.

    It’s not just being clutch in the playoffs, but also clutch in the regular season. I just think that the clutch situations in the playoffs are the most difficult, and some of the recent examples were trying to show this (because of your “easiest job” remark). Did you find my illustrations persuasive, or do you still think the job is easy?

  21. I don’t think anyone except the bullpen catcher has an easy job in pro baseball. But I’m wondering how difficult it is, compared to other jobs on the team. And, going back to the original conversation, I’m not sure a closer, just by being among the best at his position, deserves to be in the hall.

    In football, the case can seriously be made for Devin Hester to be in the hall. But kick returners in general have to be THAT good or we might as well not even discuss it. I’m suggesting that maybe a closer needs to be Mariano Rivera good, or he doesn’t deserve hall consideration. I’m not saying I exactly feel this way, but it’s the direction I’m leaning in.

  22. I’m suggesting that maybe a closer needs to be Mariano Rivera good, or he doesn’t deserve hall consideration. I’m not saying I exactly feel this way, but it’s the direction I’m leaning in.

    That standard is too high, but the standard should be high–and if you said the standard should be higher for other positions I think I might be OK with that.

  23. I’ll just add something that may have no bearing on the conversation, but needed to be said plus it’ll be my first post on the new site. Woohoo. Mentally, I do think the closer role is harder than the starting pitching role. But technically, it can be easier, because I bet in the case of most starters, the second or third time around the batting order is when they are more likely to get scored upon as hitters get used to the delivery and speed and such. Closers don’t have that problem.

  24. I think that’s a valid point about starting pitchers.

    Re: the greater mental challenge facing closers. One of my hypotheses is that closers should have one or two great pitches, and it should be based more on power than finesse or craftiness. Why? Because this keeps things as simple cognitively and psychologically as a possible. Think of someone like Eck or Rivera. Didn’t Eck throw two pitches, while Mo had only one? You just go back and throw, don’t think too much. This is better for pressure situations. Of course, you have to have one or two pitches that are awesome. You don’t want to have a savvy, thinking closer, who gets people out with their craftiness. Have there been any closers like that who have been great?

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