Tuesday, December 30, 2014

If I Had a Hall-of-Fame Ballot

Strikeout king Randy Johnson should make Hall-of-Fame in first year on ballot. 
(Photo credit: Ron Vesely, Getty Images)

There were three new Hall-of-Fame Inductees in 2014 - pitchers Tommy Glavine and Greg Maddux and first baseman Frank Thomas - but new candidates and many worthy holdovers still leave the 2015 ballot quite crowded.  The log jam is due largely to confusion and division on how to deal with players linked to the Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED).  There are 34 eligible players and writers can vote for up to 10 candidates.  Unless a voter favors a very small elite Hall of Fame, this makes it virtually impossible to fill out a ballot without leaving off some deserving names. I, of course, do not have a vote, but will fill my theoretical ballot here.

My selection process involves comparing players to their contemporaries, other players at the same position and current Hall-of-Fame members.  I value peak performance and career performance equally.  I use many traditional and advanced statistics, most of which can be found on Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs.  Some of my favorites are plate appearances, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging average, batting runs, wOBA,and WAR for hitters and innings pitched, ERA, pitching runs, strikeouts and WAR for pitchers.  I used multiple WAR statistics in my analysis, but any WAR cited below is Baseball-Reference WAR.

I do not bring PED use into my thought process.  The use of PEDs has been very widespread, not only in the 1990s and 2000's, but all the way back to the sixties and even further.  It is impossible to know which players stayed clean and which used and how much it affected their performance.  Eliminating or even judging players based on suspicion seems very unfair to me.  It also seems pretty obvious that the game turned a blind eye to the problem for many decades.  Thus, I consider PED use to have been part of the game and choose players solely based on their on-field performance.

Now, for my ballot:

Barry Bonds: He was the greatest player of his generation and is on a very short list of the best players ever.  You can't have a Hall of Fame without him.  

Roger Clemens: As with Bonds, the Hall-of-Fame would not make much sense if it excluded Clemens.  He is one of the five best pitchers in the history of the game.

Randy Johnson: He was one of the most dominant pitchers of any era finishing second all time with 4,875 strikeouts and posting 5 top of the 11 strikeout totals ever.  His career WAR of 104 was seventh best among pitchers.     

Pedro Martinez: Like Clemens and Johnson, Martinez is an obvious selection.  Martinez did not have as many great years as the other two, but his 86 WAR was 14th best ever and his 291 ERA+ in 2000 was the best in the history of MLB.    

Jeff Bagwell: Not on the same level as Bonds, but still a slam-dunk selection.  He is 21st all-time in Batting Runs and has a WAR comparable to Rod Carew, Joe Dimaggio and Pete Rose.    

Mike Piazza: Another automatic selection.  He is arguably the best hitting catcher ever leading all receivers in Batting Runs and Weighted Runs Created.

Mike Mussina: Might get overlooked because he never won a Cy Young award, but had a 123 ERA+ in over 3,500 innings and his 345 Pitching Runs was an impressive 13th all-time.

Alan Trammell: He was over shadowed by Cal Ripken and slick-fielding Ozzie Smith, but his 70 WAR is eighth all-time among shortstops.

Curt Schilling: He was arguably the best post-season pitcher ever, but was a lot more than that.  He had a 127 ERA+, 3,116 strikeouts (15th best ever), 81 WAR (21st best).  

Craig Biggio: The versatile Biggio scored more runs (1,844) than any second baseman ever and was second to Eddie Collins with 3,060 hits. He also had 291 home runs, 414 stolen bases and caught over 400 games.   

A voter can only check off ten names, but there are more than ten who deserve Hall-of-Fame status.  Other deserving Hall-of-Famers include Edgar Martinez, Mark McGwire, Tim Raines, John Smoltz and Larry Walker.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Sabermetrics Book


 With the holidays approaching, I wanted to remind people about my book Beyond Batting Average.  I'm pleasantly surprised that the hard copy version of the book continues to sell pretty well without much promotion.  I can thank Google, Amazon, Twitter and a number of internet friends for that.     

Not as many people know about the less expensive e-book that can be purchased on Lulu.com.  You can purchase the e-book version of Beyond Batting Average for $4.00 on Lulu.  The hard copy version costs $14.00 (also available at Amazon). 

Beyond Batting Average was published in 2010 and I believe it is still the most up-to-date and comprehensive sabermetrics primer available. It is accessible to fans who are trying to learn sabermetrics and would like a more organized and broader presentation of the subject than you'll typically find on the internet.  My book serves as a good introduction to more advanced books such as The Book by Tom Tango, Mitchell Lichtman and Andrew Dolphin.

Some of my favorite reviews of Beyond Batting Average are listed below:

Dan Dickerson (Detroit Tigers broadcaster)

I really love Beyond Batting Average - it makes the cut for the "suitcase" library that I take with me on the road...definitely a handy resource

James Bailey Baseball America's Top Ten Books of 2010 

For fans who want to learn more about new sabermetric statistics, Lee Panas' "Beyond Batting Average" is a great resource that can easily be followed by any student of the game...
What the book does particularly well is explain complicated concepts in simple terms.   

Neil Paine (Baseball-Reference)

I have no doubt that you'll find it easy to keep up with the stats that Panas presents. I was also impressed with how comprehensively Panas covered each topic; on several occasions, he delved into metrics that even I would not have thought to include in the discussion. Simply put, after reading this, you will be able to converse about sabermetrics with pretty much anybody and hold your own.

Tom Tango (The Book Blog)

If you are a non-mathy guy, but want to understand sabermetrics better, then a huge thumbs up for this book. If you are pretty much comfortable with sabermetrics, but still not there yet (you haven’t run any of your own studies), then a regular thumbs up.

David Gassko (The Hardball Times)

There has not really been a comprehensive resource that explains all the sabermetric statistics you need to know in one simple package. Well, at least there wasn’t until Lee Panas published Beyond Batting Average. 

Dan Szymborski (Baseball Think Factory)

Panas hits all the basic issues quite well and seems to be very up-to-date on what measures are generally used by the statnoscenti of the internet, which is extremely helpful to people who want to jump in with both feet. The author is also very good at telling the reader where these stats can be found and has focused on stats that are readily accessible to the public.

Steve Slowinski (DRays Bay)

Lee's writing is clear and concise, but also quite engaging for a topic that can sometimes get quite nerdy and dull. If you're looking to learn more about sabermetrics and want a book to start you off on the right foot, this is a great book to look into. And even if you already know a good deal about sabermetrics, it's a really handy reference tool. I consider myself well versed in baseball statistics, but I learned a decent bit from the book and I'm sure that I'll be referring to it whenever I have questions over the course of the season. Thanks Lee, this is a keeper.

Justin Inaz (Beyond The BoxScore):

Lee Panas published a terrific sabermetric primer. It's extremely current, with great scope, and will be an awesome resource for those interested in learning more about sabermetrics--especially player valuation statistics. I'm linking to Tango's review of it, but you can find the book on Lulu. If I do my baseball class again next year, I'll probably assign Lee's book.

Toirtap (Walk Like A Sabermerician)

Lee's straightforward approach and knowledge will make it a good resource for those who are just getting into sabermetrics.

Kurt Mensching (Bless You Boys)

With his book, Lee gives the reader a step-by-step guide through how stats were developed and how to best apply them. 


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