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Three would-be HOFers, in three WAR graphs


skanar

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Caveat: there is more to evaluating players than WAR. The defensive component of WAR is unreliable, especially for years before 2002. There is no one end-all, be-all statistic.

Anyway, here are three graphs from the WAR Graphs tool over at Fangraphs, displaying cumulative WAR by age.

Middle Infielders: Trammell and Whitaker

Trammell_zpsc3e3bca9.png

The final spread here is between 68 (Alomar) and 74 (Whitaker) WAR. Though these five players got started at different ages, they are remarkably similar in terms of career value and peak production (the steeper the graph, the larger the peak).

Larkin got in on his 3rd ballot, Alomar on his second (despite spitting on an umpire), and Biggio appears to be headed for a similar result.

Trammell has been stuck in limbo for years. In his 12th year on the ballot, he just dropped down to 33% of the vote. And Whitaker didn't even get the 5% necessary to stay on the ballot in his first year of eligibility.

That's nonsense.

Tim Raines should have been in on his first ballot

Raines_zpsda283666.png

Other, more knowledgeable people than me have written a lot about Tim Raines. But this graph makes the point really, really clear. All five players on it were leadoff hitters.

Rickey was clearly the best. Coleman (to whom several voters compared Raines when arguing against him) was clearly the worst. And Raines was clearly better than either Gwynn or Brock, two first-ballot Hall of Famers who provoked absolutely no controversy when elected.

Raines is an obvious Hall of Famer. Leaving him off a ballot is ridiculous. And any voter who voted for Gwynn but not Raines has got a lot of 'splainin to do.

Five center fielders: Kenny Lofton is Kirby Puckett with no sob story

Lofton_zps18940cf9.png

Kenny Lofton fell off the ballot in his first year on it this year, and that's a travesty. I don't think he's a surefire Hall player, unlike Trammell, Whitaker, or Raines, but he deserves serious consideration.

His career WAR total is in line with Richie Ashburn and Andre Dawson, both current HOFers, though both of them can make the "higher peak" argument.

The better case, though, is that Kenny Lofton is Kirby Puckett without the tragedy. Both began their MLB careers at 24, and by age 30, Lofton had 35.1 WAR to Puckett's 32.4. At the point Puckett developed glaucoma (age 35), he had 49.4 WAR - Lofton 53. Lofton went on to play for 5 more years and pick up another 13 WAR.

So, if you don't vote for Kenny Lofton, you have to take one of three positions: (1) Puckett was a good guy due to charity, sportsmanship, etc., and Lofton wasn't; (2) Lofton's 13 WAR-in-5-years performance at the end of his career is a bad thing and hurts his candidacy; or (3) Puckett doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, and his first-ballot entry in 2001 was a massive mistake.

Position (1) is pretty seriously hurt by the posthumous revelations of extramarital affairs. I don't want to delve too deeply into character issues, because I think they should be very secondary to on-the-field issues.

Position (2) is obvious nonsense; a career-ending injury, such as the ones suffered by Puckett, Koufax, or Sisler, shouldn't derail a HOF candidacy, but they shouldn't help one out either.

Position (3) is the easiest one to take, but I'd be really interested to know just how many HOF voters said YES to Puckett (only 20 years ago - plenty of those guys are still around, right?) and NO to Lofton, and how they can possibly justify that.

Finally, some people compared Lofton to Bernie Williams (then argued that neither belonged); this chart blows that out of the water. They had very similar careers through age 35, then Lofton had 5 more good years.

Conclusion

Obviously, there's more wrong with the Hall of Fame voting than is covered here. But none of these guys had any steroid taint whatsoever (and only Lofton even played in the steroid era). Trammell, Whitaker, and Raines should all have been no-doubt HoFers, and the fact that Trammell and Raines missed again this year is an even worse travesty than the fact that Bonds and Clemens did - at least there, you can argue over whether cheaters belong, if PEDs are different from amphetamines, etc etc.

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Caveat: there is more to evaluating players than WAR. The defensive component of WAR is unreliable, especially for years before 2002. There is no one end-all, be-all statistic.

Anyway, here are three graphs from the WAR Graphs tool over at Fangraphs, displaying cumulative WAR by age.

Middle Infielders: Trammell and Whitaker

Trammell_zpsc3e3bca9.png

The final spread here is between 68 (Alomar) and 74 (Whitaker) WAR. Though these five players got started at different ages, they are remarkably similar in terms of career value and peak production (the steeper the graph, the larger the peak).

Larkin got in on his 3rd ballot, Alomar on his second (despite spitting on an umpire), and Biggio appears to be headed for a similar result.

Trammell has been stuck in limbo for years. In his 12th year on the ballot, he just dropped down to 33% of the vote. And Whitaker didn't even get the 5% necessary to stay on the ballot in his first year of eligibility.

That's nonsense.

Tim Raines should have been in on his first ballot

Raines_zpsda283666.png

Other, more knowledgeable people than me have written a lot about Tim Raines. But this graph makes the point really, really clear. All five players on it were leadoff hitters.

Rickey was clearly the best. Coleman (to whom several voters compared Raines when arguing against him) was clearly the worst. And Raines was clearly better than either Gwynn or Brock, two first-ballot Hall of Famers who provoked absolutely no controversy when elected.

Raines is an obvious Hall of Famer. Leaving him off a ballot is ridiculous. And any voter who voted for Gwynn but not Raines has got a lot of 'splainin to do.

Five center fielders: Kenny Lofton is Kirby Puckett with no sob story

Lofton_zps18940cf9.png

Kenny Lofton fell off the ballot in his first year on it this year, and that's a travesty. I don't think he's a surefire Hall player, unlike Trammell, Whitaker, or Raines, but he deserves serious consideration.

His career WAR total is in line with Richie Ashburn and Andre Dawson, both current HOFers, though both of them can make the "higher peak" argument.

The better case, though, is that Kenny Lofton is Kirby Puckett without the tragedy. Both began their MLB careers at 24, and by age 30, Lofton had 35.1 WAR to Puckett's 32.4. At the point Puckett developed glaucoma (age 35), he had 49.4 WAR - Lofton 53. Lofton went on to play for 5 more years and pick up another 13 WAR.

So, if you don't vote for Kenny Lofton, you have to take one of three positions: (1) Puckett was a good guy due to charity, sportsmanship, etc., and Lofton wasn't; (2) Lofton's 13 WAR-in-5-years performance at the end of his career is a bad thing and hurts his candidacy; or (3) Puckett doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, and his first-ballot entry in 2001 was a massive mistake.

Position (1) is pretty seriously hurt by the posthumous revelations of extramarital affairs. I don't want to delve too deeply into character issues, because I think they should be very secondary to on-the-field issues.

Position (2) is obvious nonsense; a career-ending injury, such as the ones suffered by Puckett, Koufax, or Sisler, shouldn't derail a HOF candidacy, but they shouldn't help one out either.

Position (3) is the easiest one to take, but I'd be really interested to know just how many HOF voters said YES to Puckett (only 20 years ago - plenty of those guys are still around, right?) and NO to Lofton, and how they can possibly justify that.

Finally, some people compared Lofton to Bernie Williams (then argued that neither belonged); this chart blows that out of the water. They had very similar careers through age 35, then Lofton had 5 more good years.

Conclusion

Obviously, there's more wrong with the Hall of Fame voting than is covered here. But none of these guys had any steroid taint whatsoever (and only Lofton even played in the steroid era). Trammell, Whitaker, and Raines should all have been no-doubt HoFers, and the fact that Trammell and Raines missed again this year is an even worse travesty than the fact that Bonds and Clemens did - at least there, you can argue over whether cheaters belong, if PEDs are different from amphetamines, etc etc.

Excellent post. Agree. Trammell, Whitaker, and Raines should all be in the Hall already. They were all thought of in that vein throughout their careers. Lofton is a little less glaring, but he would get my vote as well. Man, some of the plays he made against the Orioles were out of this world.

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