Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Predicting the Hall of Fame Votes, Part 2: 2017-2021

By The Common Man (undermined at every turn by Bill)

Yesterday, Bill kicked us off with the first installment of this series, in which we're picking the BBWAA Hall of Fame voting results from the next 25 years. Yesterday, out of 13 players mentioned, we agreed on 10 of them going in in that five year window, though our order was somewhat different. As we move further out though, we're going to start to see a lot more distance between Bill's predictions and The Common Man's. (Here are the other entries in our series, Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5, as well as our wrap-up.)

Here's our methodology, as outlined by Bill yesterday,
"James picked two inductees for every season, which makes sense; historically, there have been either one or two BBWAA inductees in virtually every year, and since it's almost entirely guesswork anyway, why not make it uniform? But on the other hand, there are a ton of worthy candidates coming up, and you do see three in a class about once every ten years (see 1984, 1991, 1999). So we decided to limit ourselves to two candidates (or fewer, though I chose never to pick fewer) in every year, with the exception of two seasons, in which we could name three. For a 25-year stretch, that seems reasonable."
We both used up our three-man ballots yesterday, so those are off the table. The Common Man is handling the main commentary this time, with Bill piping up whenever he feels like it. And away we go:

The Common Man: Chipper Jones, Jeff Bagwell
Bill: Trevor Hoffman, Roger Clemens

TCM really hopes that the voters get over themselves about Bagwell in the coming years. He's pretty clearly in the top 5 1Bs in baseball history, which should be enough by anyone's criteria. The schoolgirl gossiping from a handful of writers can really only go on so long, can't it?

Chipper is a terrific player, even if he hasn't hit any of the traditional benchmarks. But he's going to benefit from spending his entire career with one team and his many postseason appearances. The smart money is on him finishing up this year and then getting in on his first year of eligibility.

If Hoffman gets in this quickly, it'll be some kind of miracle.  He doesn't have the postseason track record that, say, Rivera does, nor the kind of star power.

Bill says: with Hoffman eligible for the first time in 2016, it'll be kind of a miracle if he's still around to get in in 2017. Six hundred saves!!! He's an absolute, 100% lock, within his first few years of eligibility. Not that I'd vote for him.

The Common Man: Mariano Rivera, Vladimir Guerrero
Bill: Rivera, Guerrero

Halalujah! We finally agree! Rivera is the greatest reliever in baseball history, which should be enough to get him in, and he's probably going to retire as the all time saves leader. His postseason heroics only add to the legend. Voters have shown little reluctance to honor relievers of late, he'll benefit from the Yankee and only-played-with-one-team boosts too, and is generally regarded as an icon and a model citizen. Plus, he may have the single most effective pitch in baseball history. Rivera should sail.

The key with Guerrero, both of us seem to believe, is that he'll only get a couple more years to play. The second half of last year seemed to portend a rapid decline. Vlad's probably got enough left to convince someone to take a flier next year on him, but after that he'll be done. Don't expect to hear much talk about his statistics (as he'll fall short of 500 homers, and 3000 hits (although his .320 BA will be impressive). But everywhere you go, you'll read about what he could do, his rifle arm and ability to hit any pitch out, no matter where it was thrown.

The Common Man: Derek Jeter, Manny Ramirez
Bill: Curt Schilling, Chipper

The Common Man doesn't think that Captain Jeter will play beyond the end of his current four-year deal. In fact, TCM actually thinks that Jeter chooses to retire before the deal is up, in part because his performance will continue to slip.  However, retiring with a year left will also allow him to seem humble and magnanimous, to take the classy way out. 

The Captain may be worshiped by Yankee fans and the national media to an absurd degree, but the truth is that he's a tremendous player at a premium defensive position (even if he didn't always play it well). As TCM has argued before, Jeter is already one of the top 10 shortstops of all time, and anything he does in the next few years will only add to the legacy. There has never been a unanimous Hall of Fame choice, but if anyone (besides Maddux) can do it, it's Jeter.

TCM may be overestimating the voters' ability to look past Manny's attitude issues and PED use and see the dominant hitter underneath. But that's because he can't a moment longer wait to hear Ramirez's induction speech (if he even shows up, that is). The game was always more interesting when he was playing in it.

Bill's much more optimistic about Schilling, who deserves to go in the Hall, but whose relatively low win total and surliness may get him held back.  How the hell he thinks Chipper will last this long is incomprehensible.

Bill says: backlog, remember? I promise you that more voters are convinced of Hoffman's worthiness than Chipper's, and will be 5-6 years from now too. It's insanity, but it's truth. I think Chipper's going to wait awhile. And I don't think Schilling will have much trouble getting in. The bloody sock and all that will counterbalance the low win total.

The Common Man: Todd Helton, Tim Raines
Bill: Raines, Jim Thome

Finally, the voters get around to honoring Raines. Took 'em long enough. If you need a refresher course in why Raines deserves to get in, go here.

It's only fair for Helton to be the first Rockie in the Hall of Fame. It's going to take a while before voters are able to separate out what, in his career stats, was Helton and what was the Coors Field effect, but when they do, TCM is confident they'll open the doors.

Bill says: really, it's only fair that Larry Walker be the first Rockie in the Hall, since he was a better player. I don't think either happens.

The Common Man: Jeff Kent, Thome
Bill: Ichiro Suzuki, Jeter

Kent was surly and not much loved in the press corps, and it's unclear just how much they'll hold being associated with Barry Bonds against him. But his 377 homers are 76 more than any other 2B in baseball history, and many voters are going to find that impressive someday.

Thome is much beloved, but will have to wait a little bit because of his time as a DH and the perception that he was one-dimensional. But MASHIN' TATERS is the best dimension there is.

Jeter's obviously a first ballot guy, so Bill seems to be saying that he thinks Jeter will play at least a year beyond his current contract.  TCM thinks it's tough to see that happening.

Bill says: I don't think ol' Jimmers has to wait at all. 600 homers while (presumably) on nothing but meat and potatoes is the surest way to get elected in this brave new world. This has Jeter playing for two years beyond his current contract, which (as long as someone will have him) I'd be shocked if he didn't do. I suspect he cares more about his hit totals than going out on his own terms and all that. It'll look a lot more doable after he has a big bounce-back year in 2011.


Charles Simone said...

2021 will be John Smoltz's 7th year on the ballot. Was he an oversight, or do you guys really think he's going to have a tough time getting in?

Bill said...

in my case, a little of both. I do think he'll have to wait a while. He'd have been as good a fit in 2019 as Schilling, I suppose. He'll crop up somewhere on this list.

I think hanging around for that extra year hurt him a bit, completely separate from that 6.35 ERA. Coming up for election at the same time as Maddux and Glavine would've guaranteed first-ballot status for all three of them.