Friday, December 30, 2022


[Those 1st half numbers we "cranked" through before Xmas still require some hand-to-hand combat for summarization: we had a lot of plates spinning on other matters in the interim. We plan to pull that all together & combine with the earlier 2nd half results over the '22-'23 "transition." Stay tuned...]

In the meantime, though, the Hall of Fame voting season has unleashed itself on us. Voting is still in process; results will be announced January 24. We did some lurking at the Baseball Think Factory site, where a slowly dwindling mix of schizoid-and-eclectic (R. Meltzer, eat your heart out!) collaborationists still congregate; the subgroup that still masterminds the Hall of Merit (which seems to be currently without the participation of ailing long-time partner-in-crime Brock Hanke) has posted its own 2023 Hall of Fame poll. 

Their results (on the chart at right) represent the problematic present state of so-called "informed voting," in the post-neo-sabe tradition that is becoming ever more silly-and-astute (...which is precisely when eclectic folks turn schizoid). 

The Pct column in the chart reflects the Hall of Merit results, which would elect six platers into the Hall of Fame were their votes carry the day decision-wise. (Reminding us of the post-neo kneejerk defensive Kool-Aid phenomenon--we need our own "WikiGonzalez" to set all of this straight for you--the HOM mob followed the FanGraphs lemmings into the sea by coming exceedingly close to mock-inducting Andruw Jones via their poll, while continuing to snub Jeff Kent. That puts them at odds with many of the "previous generation" of sabe-types, including Bill James--if he hasn't changed his mind again, of course.)

The rest of the data on the chart shows us where the current BBWAA voting is at as of early today (12/30). The Hall of Fame tracker, as it's being doing for nearly a decade now, will compile the publicly released ballots from now until 1/24, so this data is very dynamic: we take a first shot a predicting what the final BBW(AA) vote will be like by looking at what the vote percentages looked like in 2022 (the BBW column) and then applying a "secret bathtub gin formula" to the voting patterns to our historical compilation of yearly HOF voting. All of that produces the percentage you see in the EST column--which is not a reference to the old self-help chicanery of the 1970s, but an ESTimate of what the final BBW(AA) voting percentage will look like for each player on the 2023 ballot. 

As you can see, we currently see no one making it over the 75% threshold for induction. (Which was one reason why so many arms were twisted earlier in the month to elect Fred McGriff: all things being what they might be, there will at least be someone to stand on the dais next summer.)

Part of the problem for the players being scrutinized is the fact that overall voter enthusiasm/engagement appears to be down again. We measure those two "e's" by looking at the number of voters who fill out a ballot with all ten possible voting slots filled in.  As you can see from the chart at left, the "Full10%" has fallen off the table during this decade. The "candidate glut" that produced elevated levels of full ballots during the 2010s ran its course at the end of the decade, and the numbers have taken a precipitous drop--the current percentage for the 2020 decade is about 80% below the level of full ballots turned in from 2016-19. 

Of course, we are still more than three weeks away from knowing the full results, and the situation is still very dynamic (if not highly fluid).

The HOM/BBW voting results do signal some issues about performance evaluation that need to be noted. The Bobby Abreu/Carlos Beltran juxtaposition is another example of the electic-turning-schizoid phenomenon at work. Abreu's OBP gets short shift compared to Beltran's extra homers, and certain questionable adjustments that fold into the flawed, idiosyncratic Wins Above Replacement (WAR) "system" distort Beltran's numbers upward, with the result that the silly-but-astute folks who follow some form of WAR over an intellectual cliff are making a dubious "distinction" between these two players. Beltran also gets credit for his early play in CF, much like Andre Dawson did, which may explain why the BBW(AA) appears to be starting Beltran off with a much higher vote count than Abreu, who has struggled to get much traction from any constituency despite a lifetime .395 OBP. 

If we were ranking our own choices for the 2023 ballot (shown in bold type on the chart at top), we'd definitely have Abreu in the #9 slot (out of our nine selections). He's a more marginal candidate, but one who needs support early in the voting process, thus ensuring him a  chance to grow on the ballot over time and acquire enough exposure to ultimately warrant a Vets Committee selection in 15-20 years from now. We don't want to see inferior players make it through the front door ahead of him--that would definitely be the case for Jones, a post-neo-sabe darling continuing to benefit from their "media bubble virus" that has come to infect so much of current baseball "discourse." Beltran is much closer in value to Abreu, but is seen as significantly better by post-neos (as discussed above). 

Our view is that if one of these three is relegated to a side door admission, all three of them should enter in that fashion--but only after the silly-but-not-astute Vets Committees rectify things and admit Dick Allen and Lou Whitaker and Bobby Grich (and that lovable curmudgeon Jeff Kent, whose "10-year-bump" this year will only give him enough momentum to land unceremoniously in a ditch).

...And one last broadside against the astute-but-silly denigration of relief pitchers as manifested in the Hall of Merit ballot. The Hall of Fame is not the "Hall of WAR," no matter how hard the authoritarian we call the "TangoLovePie™" works at cramming it down everyone's throat. If relief pitchers were as marginal as the cult of WAR-mongers insist is the case, they simply wouldn't exist in the game. Since they exist, the best of them deserve a place in the Hall of Fame (as opposed to the "Hall of WAR"). Billy Wagner is one of the best relievers in baseball history, and he belongs in the Hall of Fame. 

The Hall of Merit voters missed a great opportunity ten years ago to synthesize an extremely useful perspective on their work vis-a-vis the vagaries of the Hall of Fame...when they declined to pursue a suggestion we made to them regarding a side project where they'd use their voting group to "re-do" the Hall of Fame voting process using the BBW(AA) induction rules. Rather than discover how their votes would lead to a different but still insufficient "front door" policy, they opted to look the other way. It's never too late, guys--until we've all stopped breathing, of that point, whether you are eclectic or schizoid (or astute and silly)--it's all academic. Instead of continuing to operate as people wagging their fingers at "mediots," let's look for approaches to these issues where we might all learn something.