Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 1/21/22


2:00
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, folks, and welcome to my Friday chat!
2:03
Justin B.: Jay, a week or two ago I read a Verducci article in which he noted that Joe West could be part of the Era Committee ballot next year, something I had not considered. Now, since West does have the record for most games umpired, I guess I don’t want to say he shouldn’t ever make it, but I’m kind of bummed thinking about that era committee now. I was hoping for some players to get in, like Lofton or McGriff (sorry! Childhood favorite). I’m glad for Bochy to make it, but now with Joe West maybe in the picture as well… how do you sort out that picture? Do you think Bochy and West getting in would have to come at the expense of any players realistically having a shot?
2:06
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The big problem with next year’s Today’s Game ballot is is that Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, and Sosa will all be eligible, which could very well take up a significant chunk of real estate and oxygen. You’ve got guys who fell off the writers’ ballot (McGriff, Lofton), and managers (holdover Lou Piniella, plus Bochy and possibly Jim Leyland), and while there still could be other candidates on there, it might be hard to justify putting Joe West at the head of the line.
2:08
Avatar Jay Jaffe: and yes, since the Era Committee vote is basically a math problem — there are only 64 ballot slots to go around (16 x 4) and12 votes needed to gain entry, the more good candidates there are on the ballot the tougher it is to get a consensus. A repeat of the recent Golden Days result, with four candidates getting elected and a fifth missing by one vote, is extremely unlikely, and even getting three candidates elected would be as well.
2:08
Rachel: Who would you draft first of these two – deGrom or C Burnes? Thanks!
2:08
Avatar Jay Jaffe: the healthy guy, Burnes.
2:08
Tony: I keep thinking about how to evaluate starting pitchers for the Hall moving forward as modern usage evolves and workloads lessen. Does it make sense to apply those new standards retroactively, too, when workloads looked different? To be, someone like Bret Saberhagen is probably just on the wrong side of the line for 1980s-90s pitchers, but would have a very strong case if he hit the ballot in 2030.
2:08
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Stay tuned, I have an S-JAWS piece planned for after the election circus leaves town
2:09
Nate: Do you think that working in the YES booth will help Beltran regain good favor with the HOF electorate? Does he get in?
2:11
Frank Thomas the Tank Engine: Once the steroids issue plays itself out, what will be the most controversial aspect of HOF voting?
2:11
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ask me in 2032, when Alex Rodriguez is no longer on the ballot.
2:11
Frank Thomas the Tank Engine: Has there ever been a serious effort to eliminate the character clause?
2:12
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Not that I know of. The funny thing is that nobody paid much attention to it until McGwire hit the ballot in 2007, and then suddenly it began being used as a means to exclude candidates. Wrote several pages on the history of the clause in The Cooperstown Casebook
2:12
Joe: Do you buy any possible justification for someone who won’t vote for Bonds but voted for Ortiz first ballot?
2:14
Von Hayes:
2:14
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m not sure why there’s a picture of Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott and Mayor McCheese in my chat queue, but I can’t keep it to myself
2:14
Frank Thomas the Tank Engine: What is the latest date the lockout could settle and not effect the regular season?
2:14
Avatar Jay Jaffe: probably around February 1
2:15
jazzrunner12: Why isn’t there more support for catchers like Bill Freehan and Thurman Munson.  Do you think Posey’s case will awaken veteran committee members?
2:16
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Buster’s going to be on the BBWAA ballot first, and I’ll bet he’s elected via that route, possibly even on the first ballot. As for Freehan and Munson, they suffer from the perception that they had short careers without voters appreciating how much they squeezed into those careers. you can’t measure a catcher’s numbers relative to a 20-year outfielder
2:17
Frank Thomas the Tank Engine: Ichiro probably will not be a unanimous HOF selection, but do you think there will be a *vocal* minority against his candidacy?
2:18
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m on record in several places as saying that I think Ichiro will be unanimous. Seriously, who the hell is going to come out and vote against him? It’s not even that you’ve got somebody imagining himself basking in the glow of the trolls for being That Fucking Guy.
2:19
Ben: Do you think 3,000 hits, 500 home runs, 300 wins, 3,000 strikeouts, and 500 saves should be basically automatic Hall of Fame credentials? Do the “worst” players in those clubs (probably Brock, Ortiz, Welch, Sabathia, & Hoffman) belong no matter what their JAWS?
2:23
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think it’s mostly pretty tough to NOT compile a HOF-worthy career while reaching those milestones. They were more or less automatic until the PED candidates arrived, though occasionally a 300-win guy like Wynn, Perry, or Niekro had to wait out the traffic, and some voters were for some reason pissy about the low batting averages of Mathews and Killebrew, they all did get in except for the ones with PED allegations.  

Yes, Brock’s WAR and JAWS are low but the guy was a major force in 3 postseasons and retired while holding the single-season and career stolen base records. I don’t have much objection to any of the guys you list being in despite their JAWS; the ones I object to have far less going for them.

2:23
Farhandrew Zaidman: From an analytical perspective, should we care about counting stats? Can’t the same information be conveyed more  descriptively by rate stats and some numerical multiplier (ABs, IP, G, etc…)?
2:25
Avatar Jay Jaffe: *you* don’t have to care, but for a broad segment of the audience, they have a meaning that connects to the long history of baseball. They’re a common reference point and they’re pretty easy to understand at an entry level. If you want to introduce somebody to WAR and player evaluation, you’re probably not going to *start* with WAR, you’re going to start with the counting stats and then use WAR to help explain why some of those counting stats mean more than others.
2:26
Nate: I assume that you have written on Bernie Williams. Where can I find it?
2:28
Guest: did something happen with all the new writers FG brought on? Or is it just a slower part of the offseason? Seems like there was a big announcement a while back, but the most recent dozen articles are job postings, podcasts, zips, and JAWS (which are great!) all from the more established writers. Just wondering.
2:31
Avatar Jay Jaffe: During a pandemic and a lockout, there’s less to cover, but while I know we’ve lost some contributors due to attrition and other jobs, I only know the barest specifics on a couple of them.
2:31
ChicagoDan: Good afternoon Jay. I do enjoy your work. I have a question concerning centerfielders and the HOF. From your profiles it seems like you lean yes on Kenny Lofton and Andruw Jones and no on Johnny Damon. How do you feel about Jim Edmonds? Also do you think Lofton and Edmonds have a shot at getting elected via a committee?
2:33
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m a yes on Edmonds but it’s a softer yes than on Lofton or Jones. Visually, he was one of the most spectacular fielders I ever saw; the metrics don’t quite match that perception but we’re not talking about a Vizquel; he’s 15th in JAWS among center fielders.
2:35
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Given that we’ve seen just one one-and-done candidate elected (Simmons) and just two reach an Era Committee ballot (Whitaker being the other), I think that there are glimmers of hope for both but that they’re not exactly going to take the express lane to Cooperstown once eligible for the committee; managers, execs, and higher-polling players are always going to take up most of the spots on the ballot
2:35
David Ortiz: Jay- with 44-45% of the votes in, I’m polling at 84% and can withstand a 16.3% drop in the remaining ballots to hit 75%.  What is the likelihood that I’m getting inducted this year?
2:38
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Basically, first-time candidates are harder to predict, there’s a PED factor involved, and right now Boston writers, who overwhelmingly favor Ortiz, are over-represented among the returns.
2:39
Avatar Jay Jaffe: guy feeling I think Ortiz has about a 75-80% chance of election
2:41
Pedro: Do you have any news on Muncy’s injury or estimate on how much time he misses?
2:42
Avatar Jay Jaffe: he did suffer a UCL tear, but didn’t get surgery, which tells us it’s not a severe tear, but i think the assumption is that he wouldn’t be ready for spring training on a normal schedule. I don’t know much more than that
2:42
Tom: What would Scherzer have to do to give himself a shot?  Will a couple more typical Max years in New York do it?
2:43
Avatar Jay Jaffe: with three Cy Youngs, 3,000 strikeouts, and a championship, I think he’s already there (he’s above the S-JAWS standard, FWIW). Getting the 10 victories he needs to reach 200 is probably the last obstacle and that should be easily attained.
2:45
Nate: How many future HOF players are on an average team at a given time?
2:45
Avatar Jay Jaffe: it varies from era to era. I studied this for The Cooperstown Casebook and recently updated the numbers for a SABR talk
2:46
Avatar Jay Jaffe:
2:46
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The top row is BBWAA-elected players, the bottom row includes the small committees.
2:47
Avatar Jay Jaffe: that’s active Hall of Famers per team per season, where playing a single game means you’re included in the count.
2:47
Isolated Thinker: Although it may be bacause of high innings pitched, Rob Dibble had a better 3 year stretch than either Rivera or Hoffman WAR-wise.  How many more seasons would he have had to put together at even half that level to be considered?  Thanks
2:48
Avatar Jay Jaffe: well, he only had 7 seasons, 477 innings, and 89 saves. That’s not a reliever on a Hall path to begin with — he’d need another couple hundred saves to even begin to turn heads.
2:49
Jeff: What’s the probability Altuve gets in to the Hall?
2:51
Avatar Jay Jaffe: In June Dan Szymborski estimated that Altuve has a mean projection to land around 2,700 hits and a 31% chance at 3,000 so I’d say his odds are somewhere in that range, assuming voters bear him no ill will for being on the sign-stealing Astros — and I think that’s a questionable assumption; even if he was said not to benefit directly, he didn’t do anything to stop it, and he benefited as a member of the team.
2:51
Justin B.: Billy Wagner has to be pretty likely to get elected by the BBWAA at this point, right? I mean, we’ll see if he crosses 50% this year; that would certainly be helpful. I have to think that most Hoffman supporters can ultimately be won over to his cause (despite fewer IP and S) due to Wagner’s superior rate stats. Right?
2:53
Avatar Jay Jaffe: the question is whether he has enough time to get to 75% via the writers; this is year 7 and it seems like he’s looking at a single-digit gain, not a double-digit one. I think he’ll be elected by one route or another but I’m not yet sure it’s via the writers.
2:53
Nate: Is Meg ever going to do a chat again? I know she has a lot on her plate, and this is not an insult to you or any other writer (your chats are all great), but would you pass along that her chats are missed?
2:55
Avatar Jay Jaffe: We’re glad you enjoy the chats! Alas, they’re generally the first thing to go when the plate gets crowded (speaking for myself especially) and like you said, her plate is crowded — I think doing the regular EW podcasts in addition to running the site is already rather superhuman. But I will pass that along.
2:55
x2R: Will we witness a .400 avg player in the next years? And what a player needs to get there?
2:55
Avatar Jay Jaffe: have you seen what batting average is doing these days?
2:55
Slew: Likability seems to be immensely important to candidacy. This seems to have buoyed Ortiz greatly, and likewise for Vizquel before the revelations about his behavior, of course. Have you ever considered adding a Q-score like component to JAWS to attempt to answer the question “Will they be elected?” in addition to the current “should they”?
3:01
Avatar Jay Jaffe: no. JAWS is what it is, a measure that’s useful for its objective nature, to be supplemented by more subjective considerations that tend to differ from voter to voter. Some of that mythical Q score is actually captured in the Hall of Fame Monitor; All-Star appearances and awards do reflect a player’s popularity to some extent. But anything I come up with to estimate “likability” is subject to my own biases; there are players on this ballot I like much more than some fans and voters, and players I like much less than those fans and voters.
3:01
Justin B.: Your comment on Edmonds (15th in JAWS at CF) brought to mind something I’ve wondered about C and 3B, where we have fewer players in the HOF than at other positions. You’ve written a lot about Boyer of the years but what do you think about Graig Nettles (12th in JAWS), Buddy Bell (15th), and Sal Bando (16th), or Gene Tenace (13th at C)? None of these guys are above the JAWS standard, although some are close to the WAR7 standard. But do you think they deserve to be HOFers by virtue of their ranking in JAWS, even if they are under the standard as a whole?
3:03
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes, I think absolute ranking helps, especially at underrepresented positions; I’d be fine with Nettles, Bell, and Bando getting elected though I think it’s much more important to see Allen, Rolen and Beltre get in. LIkewise for Tenace vis-à-vis Mauer, Posey, Munson and Freehan
3:04
Mike: Given Arod and Manny’s uphill battle on the ballot, is it fair to assume Cano is not going to get in? Do you think that he would waive his NTC if it means that he can get in with 2 more good years?
3:05
Avatar Jay Jaffe: with two suspensions, Cano is screwed even if he gets to 3,000 hits, and rightly so.
3:05
Jeb: Not a Q, just a comment. Could not care less about the HOF, but I think your articles are great and they’ve convinced me to read your book. Thank you!
3:05
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Thank you for the support! I hope you enjoy the book
3:06
WinTwins0410: Jay, you wrote that you are grappling with the Golden Days committee’s vote to induct Jim Kaat, but in many respects, Kaat’s election can’t have been a surprise — he’d come close on other previous ballots, and he’s very popular across baseball as a longtime, still-working broadcaster, and he had a former teammate on the committee in Schmidt. Isn’t it fair to say that the bigger surprise really is Hodges getting in? The past few era committee cycles for Gil showed him with minimal support at best. What in your opinion explains the shift in committee support for Gil Hodges? For the past few elections, his support had tailed off (small sample size, I know). I had figured that as those who actually saw Hodges play had died off, it had seemed like he was consigned to down-ballot purgatory, sort of like Ken Boyer. What do you think tilted this particular committee to get Hodges in? Was it coverage about his 95-year-old widow still being alive, do you think?
3:08
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hodges was the ultimate hard-luck Hall case — the only guy to get to 50% and not get elected by one route or another, and he even got to 60%, and then was said to miss VC election by one vote —  so I can’t be too surprised at that either. Particularly given that his managerial career and untimely death allows for a subjective cushion that really had no boundaries. Good, popular player plus championship winning manager who might have won more but was tragically struck down… I mean, that certainly has its appeal, and at time I was made to feel as though I was arguing against puppies and apple pie by saying that there were much stronger candidates out there.
3:09
Ben (not Clemens): Does Chase Utley make it before his 10 years are up? Doesn’t have the counting stats but his peak seems HOF-worthy
3:09
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I hope so but we’ll see. I imagine his candidacy will be a Rolen-like one but accompanied by endless shrieking from Mets fans.
3:10
Steve: Jay, your post count on Fangraphs stands at 979. I trust you have super spectacular plans for #1000?
3:11
Avatar Jay Jaffe: wow, didn’t realize it was so close. I keep all of my writing in a Mac program called Scrivener, where I have my own numbering system that doesn’t include chats or multi-author pieces. There I’m at 859 and counting
3:11
Avatar Jay Jaffe:
3:12
Yakov: I know you’ve written up about Schilling and that given well….every public utterance he’s made over the last several years it looks like he won’t be voted in by the BBWAA. But given that there are already multiple players with really horrible characters in the HOF, how “fair” is it to keep Schilling out bases on the character clause?
3:19
Avatar Jay Jaffe: As noted above nobody gave a shit about the character clause until 2007. Now that voters have decided to invoke it, it’s fair to ask if a PED infraction is really the worst mark against character and integrity that we can imagine; I would argue that we’ve seen behavior from some current candidates that was much more damaging than PED usage. I think collectively, voters are grappling with that, and if the consensus is that DV allegations are enough to sink a candidacy, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.

As for Schilling, I would argue that using his sizable platform to spread misinformation about vaccines and election conspiracies — and calls for martial law — constitutes uncharted territory for a candidate; nobody imagined anybody would have to evaluate a candidate on that basis. I’ve made my peace with not endorsing the further enlargement of his platform while recognizing that eventually he’s likely to be elected anyway.

3:19
olethros: I know you’ve long been a proponent of lifting the 10 vote max on HoF ballots, but given that historically an average of 8 of the top ten vote getter on each ballot were eventually inducted would you support a minimum number of votes, with ballots under that minimum being tossed and those submitting them possible losing voting privileges?
3:22
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think you can tell a voter that you trust his/her judgment to evaluate candidates according to very nebulous standards, and then turn around and make continued participation contingent upon endorsing a certain number of those candidates, or upon endorsing a specific candidate (“if you don’t vote for Derek Jeter, who’s obviously a Hall of Famer, we’re kicking you out”). More to the point, the Hall and the BBWAA clearly aren’t going to do anything to stop the occasional blank ballot or one-candidate ballot.
3:23
Nate: The Bernie Williams link brings back a 404 error…
3:23
Avatar Jay Jaffe: accidentally added a character to the URL, should work now
3:23
Mrs Phanatic: Are you in the view that the numbers are the be all end all for election? Thinking about Jayson Stark’s love for Jimmy Rollins. While he doesn’t have the stats, he was an electrifying player whose story should be Hall worthy.
3:28
Avatar Jay Jaffe: see above, and see my Rollins profile (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/jaws-and-the-2022-hall-of-fame-ballot-jimm…). The numbers are a large piece of the puzzle and with a player like Rollins, there are certainly some numbers in his favor (such as his 121 HOFM score and traditional counting stats) as well as some against (including his 40.1 JAWS). There are also more subjective considerations that to some eyes enhance his standing — he was a central player on the 2007-11 Phillies, and while I’d put him behind Utley and Hamels (but ahead of Howard), I’m not going to tell you he wasn’t an exciting player. I’m happy that he’ll stick around the ballot for at least another year but I’m still a ways off from supporting him myself.
3:28
comish4lif: What happened to the push for Doc Adams? Did that evaporate?
3:30
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I was surprised that he wasn’t on the Early Baseball ballot after being the top finisher on the last Pre-Integration one but I think the Hall was right to emphasize candidates from the Negro Leagues and pre-Negro Leagues Black baseball given how long it’s been since those candidates were considered. I hope Adams gets another shot next time.
3:30
Grant: How would you propose overhauling the small committee election process?
3:31
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Double or even triple the size of the committees and make anyone who was a teammate, manager, or executive on the same team as a candidate recuse himself from voting on that particular candidacy. And then expand the number of spots on the ballot; 5 for a 10-candidate slate, or 6 for 12, something like that.
3:31
Nate: How do you like Scrivener? Worth the $ for someone who writes a lot?
3:32
Avatar Jay Jaffe: love it. for somebody who’s not inclined towards organization, it’s a godsend because I can find most everything I’ve written for SI and FG or the Casebook in one fell swoop
3:33
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I couldn’t have done the Casebook without it
3:33
Avatar Jay Jaffe: it’s $50 (give or take) well spent
3:33
Justin B.: Did you see the article recently about Rawitch wanting to see an election cycle play out before he looks into any changes to the election process. But really, it would be pretty shocking for him to institute any further changes to the BBWAA elections, wouldn’t it? Would he also need to run anything by Jane Forbes Clark, if he were so inclined? I’m sort of assuming he was speaking in very general terms and probably didn’t really mean anything by it.
3:34
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think that came up within the aforementioned Olney piece. Any changes to the election process would have to go through the Hall Board of Directors first, and I think the BBWAA would have some input as well, though not the final say.
3:34
Mark: Could you make an argument that playersike Cano and A Rod deserve election because of the amazing career numbers they put up despite .issuing so much time due to suspension?
3:35
Avatar Jay Jaffe: One could, sure, but one could also argue that those numbers wouldn’t have been reachable without the PEDs. It’s a double-edged sword.
3:36
Avatar Jay Jaffe: ok folks, I have to sign off for today. thanks so much for stopping by — if I’m still upright at this time next week, we’ll do it again and discuss the election results
3:36
Avatar Jay Jaffe: In the meantime, stay warm and safe!


 

Brooklyn-based Jay Jaffe is a senior writer for FanGraphs, the author of The Cooperstown Casebook (Thomas Dunne Books, 2017) and the creator of the JAWS (Jaffe WAR Score) metric for Hall of Fame analysis. He founded the Futility Infielder website (2001), was a columnist for Baseball Prospectus (2005-2012) and a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated (2012-2018). He has been a recurring guest on MLB Network and a member of the BBWAA since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @jay_jaffe.





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