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WAR and the Hall of Fame

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Sean Forman takes a look a WAR and the Hall of Fame, and given recent discussion around the forum, I thought it was worth a link.

The quick hits:

  • The top five career leaders in WAR are Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, Ty Cobb, Willie Mays and Cy Young, with Hank Aaron, Walter Johnson, Honus Wagner, Tris Speaker and Roger Clemens completing the top 10.
  • In general, 55 WAR has been the midpoint level for all Hall of Famers as three-fourths of the eligible players with 55 or more WAR are in the Hall of Fame.
  • 84 percent of eligible players with 63 or more WAR are in the Hall of Fame

What does that mean for the current ballot?

Bert Blyleven (88 WAR) and Jeff Bagwell (80 WAR) look like they should be the locks.

Barry Larkin (68.9 WAR), a 12 time All Star, 3 Gold Gloves, 9 Silver Sluggers and 1995 MVP, won't get the respect he deserves because he was overshadowed throughout the second half of his career by the slugging shortstops Arod, Jeter, Garciaparra and Tejada. I'd vote for him.

Larry Walker (67.3 WAR), Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers and the 1997 MVP award will all be overshadowed by "it's so easy to hit in Coor's Field" and "he only hit .230 in the postseason" (100 ABs). I'd vote for him.

Edgar Martinez (67.2 WAR), the great tragedy of his career was that his managers weren't willing to let him be a butcher at first base a la Jason Giambi.  One of the best hitters of the generation won't make the Hall because of it.  I'd vote for him.

Alan Trammell (66.9 WAR), he played his entire career for the Tigers, was clutch in the postseason, and he won Gold Gloves.  I'm surprised he's not in yet, and I think that like Larkin, he suffers from overshadowing by the offensive shortstops of the next generation. Another yes for me.

Rafael Palmeiro (66.0 WAR), 3000 hits and 500 homers but a positive drug test. He denies he juiced, and I think that he must have gotten a few of those hits off 'roided up pitchers. I'd vote for him grudgingly.

Kevin Brown (64.8 WAR),Yankee fans only remember him when he was 40 years old and battling a balky back.  But there was a stretch from '96-'00 when Brown racked up 1200 IP and 34.6 WAR. (For comparison: Maddux's 5 year best was 1191IP and 37.5 WAR). And while Brown had a reputation for being fragile among Yankee fans, the truth is he pitched more innings (and better) than a workhorse like Andy Pettitte, and only a few hundred fewer innings than Mike Mussina. Brown would get my vote, though I suspect the writers will overlook him as they await Maddux, Smoltz, Glavine and Pedro.

Tim Raines (64.6 WAR), he was so good before age 28 while no one was paying close enough attention that no one appreciated when he was a solid player from 28-38. 800 SB, 2600 H, .385 OBP, a ring with the '98 Yankees.  He gets my vote.

Roberto Alomar (63.5 WAR), he came up in a recent discussion as a comparison to Willie Randolph. Alomar was the premier 2B in the game until his career fell apart with the Mets. He went from 7.8 WAR with the Indians in 2000 to 0.4 in New York. 10 Gold Gloves with 2700 career hits, and he should be a shoe in.  This one is an easy yes.

Mark McGwire (63.1 WAR), he doesn't look likely to make the Hall thanks to the sanctimoniousness of the voters. My solution is to vote for him, and to put the steroid allegations right on the plaque. Of course, since I've already selected 10 Hall of Famers on my imaginary ballot, I can't vote for him this year- he simply wasn't good enough to deserve it.