A JAWS-esque Hall Rating Baseline

Nov 25, 2017 by Adam Darowski

I’ve written at length before about how the “Hall of Fame standard” has never really been as high as people give it credit for. For that reason, there’s an enormous backlog of players who qualify for this standard but are not in.

Just a reminder—I’m not saying that every player better than the worst Hall of Famer deserves enshrinement. With the Hall of Stats, I’ve defined the Hall of Fame borderline a bit differently than most have. I note how many players are in the Hall of Fame for their Major League playing careers (that’s 220), kick them all out, and then populate the Hall of Stats with the top 220 by Hall Rating. So, that creates a new borderline right at player #220.

By doing this, a staggering 68 players are added to the Hall of Stats (and along with that 68 Hall of Famers are removed). While I believe a player such as Billy Pierce exceeds the borderline of what the current Hall of Fame standard is, does that mean he should be enshrined? The Hall of Stats says “well, yes!” but I understand that’s not really realistic. There are dozens of players not in the Hall of Fame who rank ahead of Pierce. Players like Pierce (or others with similar Hall Ratings such as Darrell Evans, John Olerud, and Will Clark) simply aren’t a priority when there are others outside of the Hall with much better statistical cases.

Any reader of this site is certainly familiar with Jay Jaffe’s JAWS work. It often looks like I have a much lower standard for induction than Jay, but that’s because we’re actually working with very different baselines.

The stated goal [of JAWS] is to improve the Hall of Fame’s standards, or at least to maintain them rather than erode them, by admitting players who are at least as good as the average Hall of Famer at the position, using a means via which longevity isn’t the sole determinant of worthiness.

To summarize, Jay and I go about this a bit differently. In JAWS’ case, he doesn’t have the benefit of removing the dozens of players who are weighing down the Hall’s standards. So, to improve the standard Jay recommends only inducting players above the Hall’s median.

NOTE: Jay pointed out to me on Twitter that JAWS uses the mean, which brings the baseline even higher. Go to the end of the article for an amendment.

When using Hall Rating like Jay uses JAWS, we have a new standard. The median Hall of Famer has a Hall Rating of 123. For that reason, the players above 123 become the priority. They become easier to prioritize too, because rather than 68 of them there are 24 (28 if you include four new players hitting the BBWAA ballot right now). Here are those 28, sorted into groups.

The PED Group

Barry Bonds: Photo Credit

For this group, there’s not much of a reason to go too deeply into their cases because if not for connections to PEDs they’d already be in the Hall of Fame.

Currently on the BBWAA Ballot

First, the new candidates:

Chipper Jones: Photo Credit

Besides the three already listed among the PED group (Bonds, Clemens, and Ramirez), we have four more returning candidates:

Curt Schilling: Photo Credit

Not on the BBWAA Ballot

The rest of the players have already been passed over by the BBWAA and are now relying on the Hall of Fame’s Eras Committees.

Modern Baseball Era Candidates

This is the ballot that is up for consideration right now. There are still ten players from this era who exceed the Hall of Fame median. Unfortunately, only two actually made the ballot:

Alan Trammell: Photo Credit

These eight players exceed the standard but couldn’t even make the ballot:

Future Today’s Game Era Candidates

These players have not yet reached a Today’s Game Era ballot, but will be eligible in the upcoming years.

Golden Days Era Candidates

The Gold Days Era Committee doesn’t meet again until 2021. Not a single candidate from the era remains who exceeds the Hall of Fame median. The closest are Ken Boyer (117) and Dick Allen (116).

Early Baseball Era Candidates

Also meeting ahead of the 2021 induction, the Early Baseball Era Committee should certainly induct pioneer Doc Adams. Among players, this remaining pair towers above the rest statistically:

Bill Dahlen: Photo Credit

Still Too Many

Even if we use this new baseline of the Hall of Fame median, there are still too many great candidates to fit on a ballot. The current BBWAA ballot has eleven players that qualify but only ten votes are allowed. The Modern Baseball Era features ten candidates while only four votes are allowed. Luckily for voters on the Committee only two made the final ballot.

While Hall of Fame voting has seemed to get a bit more progressive in the past couple years, I’m sensing a bit of a regression this year. With this many players of such high quality outside of Cooperstown, business will be booming at the Hall of Stats for a very long time.

Update from Jay

As noted above, Jay pointed out on Twitter that JAWS uses the Hall of Fame mean, not median. That brings the baseline to 135. Only 15 players exceed that standard by Hall Rating:

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