Monday, January 3, 2011

2011 Hall of Fame Week: The Borderline Players

It's Hall of Fame Week here at North Dakota Twins Fan and I have a variety of topics that I will cover in the next couple days before the announcement of the 2011 Hall of Fame Class on Wednesday.

Monday-  The Borderline Players
Tuesday- The "Steroid Era" Sluggers
Wednesday-  My Ballot
Thursday- Reflection on the 2011 Class
Friday-  Killebrew and Me

So it should be an exciting week of events that correspond with this year's class elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
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In accordance with the Baseball Bloggers Alliance Constitution I was recently sent a Baseball Hall-of-Fame ballot for this year's induction ceremony.  There are a lot of tough choices for this year and a few new faces on the ballot.

One major statistic that has been coming more relevant in recent Hall-of-Fame election's is the Wins Above Replacement (WAR).  According to the Sabermetrics Library WAR basically looks at a player and asks the question, "If this player got injured and their team had to replace them with another average player, how much value would the team be losing?"  This value is expressed in a wins format.  The highest current value for a player is 190.00 (Babe Ruth) and the scale decreases from there.  I will be using this statistic throughout the week when analyzing the candidacy of a player.

There were three players that stood out above the rest when it comes to tough choices for Cooperstown.  They are all players that I collected baseball cards of and grew up watching.  They were many tough decisions to make and the following three were the hardest to make a decision on (in alphabetical order).

Barry Larkin- 19 Seasons, Cincinnati Reds
Accolades: 12-time All-Star, 1 MVP, 3 Gold Gloves, 9 Silver Sluggers

This is Larkin's 2nd appearance on the ballot and he was able to get 51.6% of the vote in 2010.  Larkin might be one of the last in a dying breed of players to play for one franchise over parts of three different decades.  He was drafted by the Reds in 1985 and by 1986 he was playing at the Major League level.   In his fourth full season he and the Reds were able to capture a World Series title.  He batted .353 in this, his only trip, to a World Series.  The one interesting stat that made this decision tough for me was the fact that out of all position players in the history of the game Larkin ranks 61st on the WAR list.  He is ahead of current Hall-of-Famers like Tony Gwynn (62nd) and Ozzie Smith (82).

For his career Larkin was able to put up the following numbers:
BA: .295
H: 2340 (127th)
HR: 198
R: 1329 (108th)
RBI: 960
OPS: .815
WAR: 68.9 (90th)

Fred McGriff- 19 Seasons, Toronto Blue Jays, San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Chicago Cubs, and Los Angeles Dodgers
Accolades: 5-time All-Star, 3 Silver Sluggers, 1994 All-Star Game MVP

This is McGriff's second appearance on the ballot and he was able to get 21.5% of the vote in 2010.  The Crime Dog made quite the trip around baseball in his career with stops in six cities along the way.  During this cross country trip he was able to make multiple postseason stops.  He was on two World Series teams and won one championship in 1995.  Over his career in the postseason he is a .303 hitter.  McGriff's power numbers are what sets him apart on the ballot.  He was only seven homeruns away from the elite 500 HR Club.  He was also able to amass a very high RBI count.  The one negative to his candidacy might be his low WAR.

For his career McGriff put up the following numbers:
BA: .284
H: 2490 (94th)
HR: 493 (26th)
R: 1349 (102nd)
RBI: 1550 (41st)
OPS: .886 (84th)
WAR: 50.5 (238th)

Larry Walker- 17 seasons, Montreal Expos, Colorado Rockies, and St. Louis Cardinals
Accolades: 5-time All-Star, 1 MVP, 3 Silver Sluggers, 3 Batting Titles

Walker was a rare hitter who was able to combine power with average.  His .313 career batting average is superior to the other players listed above.  Mr. Walker was able to accumulate the 16th highest On-Base%+Slugging% (OPS) in the history of the game.  He is on the OPS list ahead of current Hall-of-Famers Willie Mays (29th) and Hank Aaron (39th).  Walker managed one trip to the World Series in his career and didn't come out a winner.  In that World Series Walker did his best to help the Cardinals win. He had a .357 batting average with 2 HR, 2 doubles, and 3 RBI in the 4 game series.  Also he was the first Canadian to be named MVP of MLB.  The only other Canadian to do it is the Twins' Justin Morneau.

For his career Walker put up the following numbers:
BA: .313
H: 2160
HR: 383
R: 1355 (100th)
RBI: 1311 (94th)
OPS: .965 (16th)
WAR: 67.3 (98th)

There you have my borderline players for the 2011 Hall-of-Fame Class.  Tune in the rest of the week to see how my ballot turns out.  

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