Cooperstown Candidates “Under the Radar”

This year’s Hall of Fame ballot features new big names (David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez) and others facing what will potentially be their last chance (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling). But there are other players who should also be paying attention to. analysts selected seven Hall of Fame candidates who could be flying under the radar on the 2022 ballot – either because they are in their first year of eligibility or have received a low percentage of votes in previous years. .

They all deserve a look. Here, the argument in favor of each

Bob Abreu
Year on ballot: Third (8.7% in 2021)
Key fact: OBP of .395

The Venezuelan is exactly the type of player who would be most valued today. He was only called up to the All-Star Game twice and finished in the top 15 in MVP voting once. Even by then, it seems a bit underrated; He had eight seasons with 100 RBIs or more and 14 with more than 10 steals on base, which he accompanies with a .291 career batting average. Nor is it that it did not measure up to “conventional statistics.”

But where Abreu really excelled was in his ability to reach bases. The Aragua native traded 100 or more tickets in eight straight seasons, leaving an on-base percentage of at least .400 in each. He demonstrated his power in the Home Run Festival he won in 2005 and the eye to finish in the top 10 in OBP between 1998-2006. In addition, he stole the fifth most bases in that period. Compare your career to that of Tony Gwynn, who was inducted with 98% of the votes in his first year on the ballot.

Abreu: 2,425 games, .395 OBP, .459 SLG, 288 HR, 128 OPS +, 400 SB
Gwynn: 2,440 games, .388 OBP, .475 SLG, 135 HR, 132 OPS +, 319 SB

The real problem is how underrated it was for its time, rendering its track record of individual accolades lacking in quantity. But consider this: There are only six players in history with at least 250 home runs and 400 stolen bases. Three (Rickey Henderson, Joe Morgan and Craig Biggio) are in the Hall of Fame. Barry Bonds, his father and the Venezuelan are the other three.

Ryan howard
Year on Ballot: First
Key fact: Two BBWAA Awards (2005 Rookie of the Year and 2006 MVP)

Howard’s case is not as strong as that of other first-year candidates, but his cap is worth noting. In his first season, in 2005, Howard was recognized as the Rookie of the Year. The following season, he was the MVP of the National League, setting the record for home runs in a season in the history of the Phillies (58).

For Howard, the focal point is from his first call in 2004 to 2011. In that span, he slugged .560 and spliced ​​286 home runs in 1,027 games. In addition, he was called up to the All-Star Game three times and won the Silver Bat and received MVP votes in each of the seasons between 2006 and 2011.

His WAR doesn’t stand out as much, at 19.5 in that 1,000-game span, according to Baseball-Reference. Part of that was because of his defense, which gave him a negative dWAR of -9.8 on that stretch.

Sure, we already know what happened next. Howard tore his Achilles in Game 5 of the 2011 National League Division Series and that accelerated the decline of the gunner.

Tim hudson
Year on ballot: Second (5.2% in 2021)
Key fact: 120 from ERA +

Hudson was a member of Oakland’s brilliant rotation of the early 2000s, alongside Barry Zito and Mark Mulder. Of the three, Hudson was the one who finished with the best career, adding a record of 222-133 and a 3.49 ERA in 3,126.2 innings between the Athletics, Braves and Giants, with whom he won the 2014 World Series.

He only received 21 votes in his first year of eligibility. One less, and it’s off the ballot. Its fate is uncertain, but there are good reasons for it to continue.

Hudson didn’t strike out an impressive number and was never considered the best pitcher in the league, but what he accomplished over his 17-season career looks good from a historical perspective. The sinker specialist had eight seasons with 200 or more innings, including five in which he hit 220, along with an ERA + of 125 or higher. He is one of 18 mounts in the Live Ball Era (since 1920) with at least 3,000 innings and an ERA + of 120 or better. Only five of them are not in the Hall of Fame: Clemens, Schilling, Kevin Brown, Zack Greinke (still active) and Hudson.

Tim Lincecum
Year on Ballot: First
Key fact: Three World Series titles, two Cy Young awards, two no-hitters

Lincecum’s grounds for the Hall of Fame are the variety of achievements in his career – the trophies, accolades and feats he accomplished in his time in the majors. As an ace for the Giants, he helped the team win three Fall Classics during the San Francisco dynasty in the early 2010. He won two consecutive Cy Young Awards. He threw two no-hitters. Also three strikeout titles. He was called up to four All-Star Games. Here’s a fun fact: There are only two pitchers with multiple World Series rings, multiple Cy Youngs, and multiple no-hitters – Tim Lincecum and Sandy Koufax.

Joe Nathan
Year on Ballot: First
Key fact: 30.6 career aggregate victory probability (WPA)

There are two requirements to at least consider Nathan: 1) More relievers may need to be included in the Plate Gallery in Cooperstown (there are eight, with interesting candidates like Kenley Jansen and Craig Kimbrel entering the ballot probably in the 2030s ), 2) Some believe that Billy Wagner deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

Wagner has four years left on the ballot, and BBWAA voters are nearly 50/50 split on his merits. For those who think that Wagner should be immortalized, then Nathan must also be considered. Wagner was a closer who dominated with his strikeouts, but notice how similar the two were in several key stats (according to Baseball Reference):

Wagner: 422 saves, 27.8 WAR, 29.1 WPA, 1.00 WHIP
Nathan: 377 saves, 26.4 WAR, 30.6 WPA, 1.10 WHIP

The WPA statistic takes into account contextual factors such as inning, scoring, and running backs on a play-based basis, making it an important metric for keepers who are always shooting at pressing times.

Like Wagner, Nathan doesn’t have a great postseason record to tag along with a closer into the Hall of Fame, but neither do the already immortalized Trevor Hoffman and Lee Smith. For those who believe that Wagner should be in the room, then Nathan deserves another detailed analysis.

Andy Pettitte
Year on ballot: Fourth (13.7% in 2021)
Key fact: 19 career postseason wins (all-time record)

Let’s talk about the obvious immediately: Pettitte was included in the 2007 Mitchell Report and eventually acknowledged using human growth hormones to help him recover from an elbow injury in 2002, before it was a banned substance. Some would consider that something to disqualify him; but not me.

Now Pettitte’s argument. I admit that it is not very obvious. The left-hander was only called up to three All-Star Games, never won a Cy Young, led his league in a major category on only one occasion other than starts (1996 wins) and posted a 3.85 ERA in his career, which would be the second worst in a career. Hall of Famer, below Jack Morris.

But let’s talk about the postseason. Obviously, Pettitte was favored for pitching in an era of playoff expansion, primarily with Yankees teams playing almost annually in October. But it is worth noting that he maintained his great performance against postseason opponents (3.81 ERA), while his Aggregate Victory Probability in the playoffs is below only the Panamanian Mariano Rivera, Schilling and John Smoltz. Considering Pettitte is a candidate on the brink by his numbers in the regular season, that would lead him to the election.

Mark Teixeira
Year on Ballot: First
Key fact: 409 career home runs

Teixeira was on track to make a good case for being in Cooperstown – at 32, he had a career .904 OPS and had hit 314 home runs. He also had four Gold Gloves as a first baseman and a World Series ring with the Yankees in 2009. But that’s when injuries began to plague him – he never played more than 123 games in a season for the rest of his career, and he almost missed it. he lost all of 2013. So it is almost clear why Teixeira’s arguments to the Hall are not obvious.

Anyway, it attracts attention. Teixeira is one of 14 players who slugged more than .500 (.509) and hit more than 400 homers (409) who is not immortalized in Cooperstown. Of the remaining 13, 11 have links to banned substances, overshadowing their respective nominations for the Hall of Fame. Along with Teixeira, the other two who have no connections to performance-enhancing substances are Puerto Rican Carlos Delgado and Fred McGriff, who also have arguments to be immortalized despite no longer being on the BBWAA ballot.

According to Jay Jaffe’s JAWS system (averaging a player’s bWAR with total WAR from a seven-year peak), Teixeira’s 44.3 places him ahead of Puerto Rican Orlando “Peruchín” Cepeda, Frank Chance and newly elected Gil Hodges. .

Let’s make a comparison between Teixeira and Hodges, now that the latter was selected by the Golden Age Committee:

Hodges: 2,071 games, 120 OPS +, 370 HR, 43.9 bWAR
Teixeira: 1,862 games, 126 OPS +, 409 HR, 50.6 bWAR

As you can see, it’s hard to justify choosing Hodges and not Teixeira – both were powerful first basemen who were limited by ailments late in their careers, but who have numbers that make their case for being immortalized in Cooperstown somewhat intriguing.


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Cooperstown Candidates “Under the Radar”