I don’t know why I feel compelled to write about the Hall of Fame. So many keys have already been struck by fingers on the Hall of Fame and yet I feel my little insignificant space on the Internet needs to have more written on the subject. I’ll make it quick.
Jeff Bagwell should have been inducted. With the loaded ballots upcoming I fear it will take many years to get him into the Hall – even if the upcoming ballots are loaded with suspected or even admitted PED users (apparently it is unfounded PED suspicion that is keeping Bagwell out).
To compare Bagwell against three of the best first basemen ever who are already inducted into Cooperstown:
- Bagwell: 449 HR (just under 30 per season), 149 OPS+, 488 doubles, 32 triples, 4213 total bases
- Lou Gehrig: 493 HR (20 per season), 178 OPS+, 534 doubles, 163 triples, 5060 total bases
- Jimmie Foxx: 534 HR (26.7 per season (albeit 2 of those seasons were post WWII and Foxx played minimally)), 163 OPS+, 458 doubles, 125 triples, 4956 total bases
- Hank Greenberg: 331 HR (24.5 per season), 158 OPS+, 379 doubles, 71 triples, 3142 total bases
Gehrig is considered the best first basemen of all time for a reason and Foxx was pretty darn good, too. Bagwell averaged more home runs per season than all of them. His OPS+ is close to Greenberg’s but falls short of the other two. His total bases (and Greenberg’s) are lower than Foxx and Gehrig due to less time in the league.
What about their triple slash?
- Bagwell: .297/.408/.540
- Gehrig: .340/.447/.632
- Foxx: .325/.428/.609
- Greenberg: .313/.412/.605
Again Bagwell falls a bit short of these three but is fairly close to Greenberg.
Where Bagwell sets himself apart from these three was on the base paths.
- Bagwell: 202 SBs (78 CS) for an extra net 124 bases
- Gehrig: 102 SB (100 CS) for an extra net 2 bases
- Foxx: 87 SB (73 CS) for an extra net 14 bases
- Greenberg: 58 SB (26 CS) for an extra net 32 bases
Don’t get me wrong, the stolen bases do not make up for the lower on-base or slugging percentages, but it is something to consider.
Finally we have the all inclusive WAR stat and according to BR.com Bagwell was worth just under 80 wins above replacement, Gehrig over 118, Foxx just over 94 and Greenberg over 56 wins above replacement. Bagwell isn’t Foxx or Gehrig, but he is very deserving of inclusion into the Hall of Fame.
I am all for the smaller Hall of Fame but if we wait until the next Gehrig or Foxx we will be waiting a long time before another first basemen is inducted (five years after Pujols retires).
Now it is time to look at Tim Raines. His value is in his times on base compared to some of his contemporaries. For now we will compare him to two guys who are considered some of the immortals in baseball history and both from the same era in which Raines played: Tony Gwynn and Rickey Henderson.
- Raines: .294/.385/.425, 123 OPS+
- Gwynn: .338/.388/.459, 132 OPS+
- Henderson: .279/.401/.419, 127 OPS+
Not a lot of difference there, is there?
- Raines: 2605 hits, 1330 walks (3935 times on base)
- Gwynn: 3141 hits, 790 walks (3931 times on base)
- Henderson: 3055 hits, 2190 walks (5245 times on base)
Gwynn and Henderson have the magical 3,000 hit number that writers love but when you add in walks Raines was on base more often than Gwynn.
Have to mention stolen bases:
- Raines: 808 SB (146 CS) for a success rate of about 85%
- Gwynn: 319 SB (125 CS) for a success rate of about 72%
- Henderson: 1406 SB (335 CS) for a success rate of about 81%
And finally we have career WAR: Henderson blows both Raines and Gwynn away but Henderson is one of the immortals of baseball history, far and away the best leadoff hitter of all-time. Henderson’s 113 WAR is almost equal to both Raines’ (64.6) and Gwynn’s (68.4) added together, but Gwynn and Raines total is almost equal.
If Gwynn is in the Hall of Fame Raines has to be in. Raines certainly shouldn’t take three or four ballots (probably going to be closer to 7-10 ballots) to get in when Gwynn was a first ballot.
And to cover one other player who was not inducted; Jack Morris was not robbed. His ERA was just slightly better than league average over the span of his career (0.01 better, to be exact) and if he were inducted he would set a new high bar for ERA among pitchers inducted into the Hall of Fame. That’s right, no pitcher has an ERA of 3.90 or higher who is currently in the Hall of Fame.