Rating the Veterans Committee Candidates for the Hall of Fame 2009

 

Rating the Veterans Committee Candidates for the Hall of Fame
 
 
            On December 8, the results of the Veterans Committee voting for the Hall of Fame will be announced. There are two ballots, each with 10 names. One is for players who made their major league debuts in or after 1943 and the other is for players who made their major league debuts before 1943. All of the players on the second list are now deceased.
 
            The voters are different for each of the two groups.  For the post-1943 players, the voters are the 64 living Hall of Fame players and an election is held every two years. For the pre-1943 players, the voting is done by a panel of 12 Hall members and members of the media. Elections for this group are held every 5 years. Each participant in both elections can vote for up to four candidates allowing for a maximum of five selections. In each case, a player must receive votes on at least 75% of the ballots cast in order to be elected. 
 
            The rules state that those whose careers included involvement as managers/executives/ umpires will be considered for their overall contribution to the game.
 
            In an attempt to rate the players on both lists, Win Shares and OPS+ were used as measures of performance for position players and Win Shares and ERA+ were used for pitchers. The Win Shares system, developed by Bill James in 2002, is a complex method for evaluating players which includes all aspects of performance – offense, defense and pitching. James has stated that, “Historically, 400 Win Shares means absolute enshrinement in the Hall of Fame and 300 Win Shares makes a player more likely than not to be a Hall of Famer”.
 
            OPS+ compares a players On Base Percentage plus Slugging Average (OPS), after some minor adjustments for context, against the league OPS for the years of his career. A player with an OPS+ of 130 has an adjusted OPS 30% better than the league average. ERA+ is a similar concept for pitchers. An ERA+ of 130 is 30% better than the league average.
 
            Win Shares basically measure the quantity of a player’s accomplishments while OPS+/ERA+ measure the quality of his performance.
 
            Here are the Win Shares and OPS+/ERA+ for the ten players on both lists ranked by Win Shares. These figures are then compared to examples of solid Hall of Famers (Willie McCovey, Bob Gibson) and borderline Hall of Famers (Jim Rice, Bert Blyleven).
 
 
Player (1943+) Win Shares OPS+/ERA+
Dick Allen 342 156
Ron Santo 324 123
Vada Pinson 321 110
Joe Torre 315 129
Al Oliver 305 122
Jim Kaat (P) 268 107
Gil Hodges 263 119
Luis Tiant (P) 256 114
Maury Wills 253 88
Tony Oliva 245 130
     
Examples
   
Willie McCovey 408 148
Bob Gibson (P)  317 127
Jim Rice 282 127
Bert Blyleven (P) 339 118
     
Player (Pre-1943) Win Shares OPS+/ERA+
Bill Dahlen 394 109
Sherry Magee 354 137
Mickey Vernon 296 116
Vern Stephens 265 118
Bucky Walters (P)  258 115
Carl Mays (P) 256 119
Joe Gordon 242 121
Wes Ferrell (P) 233 117
Deacon White 190 122
Allie Reynolds (P) 170 110
  
 
            The numbers above suggest that, while none of these players has an iron clad case for the Hall, Allen, Santo, Dahlen and Magee have numbers that provide credible credentials for Hall entry. Hodges and especially Torre can make respectable cases when their success as managers is taken into account. 
 
            Since these players have been passed over numerous times in previous elections, their chances of getting 75% of the voters to decide in their favor cannot be very high. My guess is that none will be elected this time with Santo and Hodges having the best chance.
 
Bill Gilbert
12/6/08

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