OT: Baseball HOF voting. How do people feel about Biggio, Bagwell, and Piazza?

Submitted by 96goblue00 on January 9th, 2013 at 11:25 AM

Today at 2pm there will be an announcement on the baseball HOF voting. I am assuming that Bonds, Sammy, Clemens and co. will not be getting in on the first ballot and, quite frankly, not sure if they will ever get in. Supposedly, however, based on the prelim poling, no one will be getting in, which I find absurd. Biggio should get in on the first ballot. Some goober voters, who instead of focusing on a potential inductee's accomplishments are nit picking diminutive negatives to vote against a candidate, argue that Biggio's hits are not that impressive because he played so long. Such writers should have their voting privileges revoked. As for Piazza and Bagwell, IMHO, both are no-brainer HOFers on numbers alone. Some writers, however, "suspect" that (just because they were big guys, with acne, that happened to play in the steroid era) Piazza and Bagwell used and that is why they did not vote for them. Those writers should have their voting privilege revoked as well, imo. You want to penalize people who were caught with their hands in the PED jar, fine, but to penalize someone on the mere suspicion, just because they happened to have a physique similar to Bonds, Clemes, etc., GTFOH. As for Bagwell, his career/injury trajectory actually shows anything but PED use. As he got older he became more injury prone, as any athlete would, and, consequently, spent a lot of time on IR. You look at his career numbers and they followef a natural trajectory/curve. His numbers started tapering off, whereas the proven PEDers had their numbers baloon, or at least remain at a high level. Anyway, I can writer on and on about this but would like to hear other thoughts.

PS I am also curious what people think about Clemens and Bonds, in particular. Will people be willing to give them a pass, eventually? I heard a clip this morning on ESPN  - don't remember the reporter but he was from the older generation/guard of Peter Gammons and the like - and he said that he did vote for them because they were simply the best hitter/pitcher (respectively) that he has seen play and that he is "not a scientist and cannot determine how much of an advantage the steroids gave them" and feels that many more players "doped" than the names known and that therefore he is voting them in simply based on their accomplishments.



January 9th, 2013 at 11:32 AM ^

The steroid issue for me takes a back seat to the writers who refuse to vote for Jack Morris because "his ERA is too high" (and also Alan Trammell) yet made a .262-hitting shortstop a first-ballot HOFer.


January 9th, 2013 at 11:35 AM ^

is emphatically not a hall-of-famer, by either traditional stats or the (better) sabermetric ones. Which shortstop are you referring to, by the way?  Batting average is a pretty bad stat if you're only going to look at one (for traditional stats, OBP is much better).  

Trammel, on the other hand, should absolutely be in the hall.  


January 9th, 2013 at 11:46 AM ^

My point really isn't whether Jack Morris emphatically is or isn't a Hall of Famer (or whether Ozzie Smith - the .262-hitting shortstop is as well), it's more about the laser-like focus on his ERA when a lot of these same writers whooshed right over what is basically the parallel stat for a hitter.

(Smith, by the way, is justifiably a HOFer, just not a first-ballot one when they refuse to even give Trammell a sniff and shunted Lou Whitaker off the ballot completely.  I maintain it's as much about popularity and backflips than anything else.  Smith was a personality.  Tram and Lou just shut up and did their jobs.)

(Also, I wouldn't go so far as to say Morris is "emphatically" not a HOFer because I think a justifiable argument can be made about Morris being consistently one of the top pitchers of his time, and I think "of his time" is important in any HOF discussion.  The '80s didn't produce a boatload of pitching talent.)


January 9th, 2013 at 11:51 AM ^

is maybe the greatest defensive player of the modern era.  UZR says he saved 239 runs with his glove over the course of his career.  By comparison, Omar Vizquel, who will get hall of fame support based on his defense, saved 110 fewer runs.  And Ozzie's career wins above replacement (70) puts him squarely in the middle of the pack for hall of famers.  Focusing exclusively on Ozzie's batting average is a bad idea because it leaves out the thing Ozzie was an all-timer at.  Focusing on Morris's ERA doesn't have that problem.  It's actually a fairly good summary of what he was as a pitcher.  


January 9th, 2013 at 12:00 PM ^

I played short stop my whole life.  He was an awesome defensive shortstop and his defensive prowless alone should make him a Hall of Famer.  Especially, if some of these other guys get in that hit a ton and couldn't field worth a lick.


January 9th, 2013 at 12:09 PM ^

I think the main problem with focusing on the ERA really is that it penalizes Morris for sticking around too long.  Without his last two years his career ERA would be 3.73, which is still high for an HOFer but would no longer be the highest in the Hall.

This is the part where I admit I want to see Morris in the Hall because I want more Tigers in the Hall and it would slightly help make up for the insult to Trammell - and might help Trammell's cause.  But if I had a vote I would be comparing Morris to his contemporaries as well as to other HOFers, and - with some exceptions - the 80s were a time when pitchers came and went, without many pitchers who were consistently a presence.  Judging by the era as well as the overall picture has to be taken into account, otherwise there are a lot of dead-ballers with no business being on a plaque.

Edit: This is also the part where I acknowledge Morris's very borderline case and wish that Bill Simmons's HOF pyramid existed.


January 9th, 2013 at 4:15 PM ^

... and will have a better chance down the road, once a more sabermetric-aware view of their cases is taken.

Morris might get in before several other, more worthy candidates, and in 25 years people will back at that and wonder.  I believe that he'll be looked at as a curiosity, rather than a legit Hall of Famer if that happens.

As for the 80s not producing a bunch of pitching talent, you're overlooking Dave Stieb, Bret Saberhagen and quite a few others.  The best indictment of Morris' case is the Cy Young voting - most years, those voters thought he wasn't the best pitcher on his own team.

Ken Davidoff of the New York Post summed up my thoughts on Morris' candidacy:

“I think it’s because he’s an emotion-driven candidate, a narrative-driven candidate and the numbers don’t support him.” 

That's pretty much spot-on.  People are voting for him based on stories they made up about him (literally - it's the writers who wrote about his career who are pushing for him!) and about emotions they felt while watching that one Game Seven (which I did too).

I'd like to see more Tigers in the Hall, because I'd like to see the Tigers have more Hall-worthy players.  Morris isn't there for me, but Trammell and Whitaker are.



January 9th, 2013 at 11:55 AM ^

He's definitely a borderline guy to me.  He started more games, pitched more innings and won more games that any other pitcher in the 80's.  Like you say though, the 80's didn't really produce many 'great' pitchers.  The HOF'ers were either finishing their careers in the early 80's or starting their careers in the late 80's.


January 9th, 2013 at 12:17 PM ^

Ozzie has already been discussed above.  He was a first ballot hall of famer because of his defense.  He was probably the best defensive SS of all time.

I love Jack Morris, but he's a borderline HOFer at best.  I agree that a player should be judged on how good he was "in his time" or his "era."  Using traditional numbers, Morris led the league in wins twice in 18 seasons.  Led the league once each in innings pitched and strikeouts.  He never led the league in ERA, WHIP, average  against or win/loss percentage.  He was never the best pitcher in the AL over his career.  Mike Mussina has a better HOF case than Jack Morris.


January 9th, 2013 at 11:52 AM ^

Ozzie Smith.

Morris not a HOF'r...okay.  "Emphatically"...you're wrong.  If Smith, Pee Wee Reese, Blylevin, and Phil Rizzuto are in certainly Morris should be.  If Morris or the Whitaker/Trammel duo played in NY, Boston, St. Louis, Chicago (Cubs), or LA we could have an argument over "deserve", but there would be no question of endpoint.



January 9th, 2013 at 11:57 AM ^

that Blylevin was absolutely a better pitcher than Jack Morris.  

Blyleven: career ERA: 3.31, Career ERA+: 118, 6.7 k/9, 1.96 bb/9, career fWAR of 110.

Jack Morris: career ERA: 3.9, career ERA+: 105 (100 is average for all pitchers), 5.83 k/9, 3.27 bb/9, career fWAR 56.9.  


January 9th, 2013 at 12:11 PM ^

Jack Morris spent his entire career facing a DH.  The first half of Blylevin's career was either in the AL before the DH or in the NL. 

Jack Morris is the only pitcher with 2000+ strikeouts to never have faced a pitcher in the batters box.


January 9th, 2013 at 12:20 PM ^


If Smith, Pee Wee Reese, Blylevin, and Phil Rizzuto are in certainly Morris should be

I hate this argument so very very much. The HOF is supposed to be a showcase of the all-time greats, not the Hall of Pretty Good. The solution to having some marginal Hall of Famers is NOT having more marginal hall of famers (Tinkers and Evers are both in, and they're marginal at best), but stopping the stupidity that got those marginal HOFers there in the first place.

Also, Ozzie Smith shouldn't be done the disservice of being mentioned with borderline HOFers. He and Omar are the greatest defensive players of the last 30 years playing at a time and position when defense is more difficult than any time since they started grooming infields.


January 9th, 2013 at 12:47 PM ^

Again...my issue is the poster's use of the "emphatic" term.  In my non-professional view, Jack Morris falls a little shy of HOF status, but he is worthy of honest consideration.  He is not an "emphatic" no.  Need evidence?  Look at other borderline players (Ozzie or not) who are in (I did so).  Look at factors (such as where they played) that might effect the result. 

Interesting post with thoughts on Morris's HOF chances and the influence of 'roids all together....How good would Jack or Tram have been if they juiced?  I don't think either are going to make it into the HOF, but surely both would have worthy numbers if they played a little later and had different "doctors".


January 9th, 2013 at 2:30 PM ^

It's widely accepted that Tinkers and Evers got in because of their role in the success of the Cubs glory run (yes, before anyone on this blog's parents were even born). They were immortalized in a poem: Tiners to Evers to Chance. That poem impacted the popularity of baseball at the time.

That's one of the things I have always liked about the baseball HOF, they recongnize people who had an impact on the game as well as those who played the game greatly. It's important to understand that when comparing modern day's players stats vs those of other people already in the hall.  There is more to the baseball HOF than ERA, Batting Avg, Homeruns, RBI's, and W's.


January 9th, 2013 at 7:17 PM ^

you might as well let 'em all in. There's nothing we can do now about Freddie Lindstrom or Jesse Haines; that doesn't mean we should let them set precedent.

I don't think it's possible to make a HOF case for Jack Morris that doesn't either run into that problem or start from the assumption that he should be in and work its way backward.

I was going to go on a bit about this but I just found a blog piece that says what I wanted to say far, far better than I could.




January 9th, 2013 at 11:35 AM ^

For the three your post mentions, Biggio, Bagwell, and Piazza, I vote yes on all three without a moment of doubt. Piazza was the best offensive catcher around for a decade. Bagwell was a great power hitter who spent the first part of his career in the Astrodome. As for Biggio, comparing him to his contemporaries at the position he was easily one of, if not the best, for the majority of his career.


January 9th, 2013 at 11:55 AM ^

I'm not as familiar with Bagwell's & Piazza's stats, so I can't say yes as easily as you have.  I do remember both of them being big offensive players.  However, I'm concerned that every HR shows up on sports center.  That could affect my judgement.  

Biggio, on the other hand, should definitely be in the HOF.  He has slightly better numbers than Lou Whitaker, who in my opinion, should have been in the HOF years ago.  Whitaker and Biggio have comparable and/or better numbers respectively than Joe Morgan, who has been the standard bearer for HOF 2B for years.  


January 9th, 2013 at 11:36 AM ^

I say Piazza for sure.  He was one of the most dynamic catchers the game has seen - could hit for power and average, run, and play strong defense.  Biggio is an interesting case due to his end-of-career inability to throw from 2nd to 1st.  I'm not saying that should disqualify him, but its an interesting twist in my opinion.  Bagwell was a beast of a hitter but not so different than many of the other 1st baseman of that era.


January 9th, 2013 at 11:41 AM ^

to a rough contemporary who is a borderline case, Rafael Palmeiro (we're ignoring the impact of steroids for the moment).  

Bagwell: .297/.408/.540 (career wOBA of .405, career wRC+ of 149).  449 home runs, a very good defender (career UZR of 59.1), career fWAR of 83.9

Palmeiro: .288/.371/.515 (career wOBA of .380, career wRC+ 130), 569 HR, career UZR of 46.1, career fWAR of 74.2 (Palmeiro played longer too).  

Palmeiro was a great player who, absent steroids, would have a very good chance of getting in the hall-of-fame.  And Bagwell was clearly a better player.  


January 9th, 2013 at 11:53 AM ^

Bagwell racked up 2314 hits and a .297 batting average to go along with his 449 home runs. He was a pure hitter, but his power numbers are still what he will be remembered by. His career OPS stands at .948, while his adjusted OPS+ at 149. Those numbers rank 22nd and 38th respectively on the career leaderboards. Bagwell's career WPA (win probability added to his team) is 59.31, good for 19th all time.

Bagwell posted some monstrous statistical seasons, but consistency was always a key to his dominance. From 1996 to 2003, he hit over 30 home runs every year and knocked in 100 runs all but once. Between those seasons (which didn't even include his MVP year) he averaged 38 home runs and 119 RBI. Also, one has to put his offensive numbers into perspective. Bagwell and Biggio played in a park that was NOT hitter friendly.

There was a lot more to Bagwell's game than hitting. He finished his career with 202 stolen bases, reaching his peak in base stealing with 31 in 1997 and 30 in 1999. He's part of the fairly exclusive 400 Home Run, 200 Steals club. He's one of thirteen other players in the club, which consists of notable names like Mays, Bonds, Griffey Jr., Dawson, Winfield, Aaron, Reggie Jackson and Frank Robinson. He ranks fourth all-time among first basemen in WAR.

Bagwell could have finished his career with even more impressive numbers. In 1994, a broken hand and the strike robbed him a chance to complete an an all-time great season, as he was on pace to finish with 58 home runs and over 170 RBI but injuries plagued him in the second half of his career.



January 9th, 2013 at 12:31 PM ^

Definitely a good comparison.  No doubt that Bagwell was a great hitter and I guess a good defender too.  I just see so many 1st baseman that are great hitters that he doesn't stand out to me.  Then again, good is good and the HOF seems to be a bit less picky than me generally.  Of course, there are always the much-debated candidates that never make the ballots or get chosen for the Hall.


January 9th, 2013 at 11:42 AM ^

some magical line in the sand.  Bonds, Clemens, Piazza, and Biggio should be in.  They are some of the best at their positions to ever play.  If you want to write some historical plaque explaining their era, do so.  I then expect them to go through each era and right about the prevelent use of pain killers, greenies, amphetamines ect.


January 9th, 2013 at 12:02 PM ^

Comparing what steroids do to perfomance with pain killers and greenies is a completely inappropriate false equivalency.  It's like comparing Rose's betting on the team he managed (or more importantly chose not to wager on a given day), to having a spring training NCAA bracket.  Steriods completely rearranged the record book and temporarity destroyed what MVP and Cy Young meant.  This in a sport where comparison between eras is a huge part of the game.


January 9th, 2013 at 12:15 PM ^

Prove it.  Until then let them in.  Bonds was never proven to have knowingly taken steroids or PED's.  Clemens never was found guilty of such either.  Who are you saying tainted your sacred records?  Is suspicion enough to hold them out or remove others from the hall?


January 9th, 2013 at 1:26 PM ^

Do you honestly believe that Bonds and Clemens didn't juice?  As an (assumed) baseball fan, you get to make that call and form an opinion as to whether you think they are Hall-worthy or not.  You need not worry about whether you are in possession of legal proof. 

Records?  Ruth hit 60 around 1930.  Maris hit 61 about 30 years later.  About 40 years later Sosa, Bonds and McGuire and their "doctors" peak in the 70s.  If there is a "sacred" record in American sports, I'd say the single season home run record qualifies and it's currently a bogus number at 73.  714 also used to be an important number...Whatever it is today doesn't seem to hold water quite as well.  Who is the best ballplayer of all time?  I'd say Willie Mays, but it's debatable.  Pretend for a second there are no steriods and who is he best?  Barry Bonds.

With 6 Cy Youngs, I'd say Clemens is the best modern era pitcher.  No roids? doubt it.


January 9th, 2013 at 2:06 PM ^

I don't feel anything that Bonds did deters from my opnion on how great Ruth, Aaron, or Mays was.  Baseball has been so vastly(sp?) different in several different era's that I think trying to say Bonds vs. Ruth is absurd.  What I know is that during the steroid era Bonds was the best of all the hypothetical users.  Hall of Fame should be about how the player performed compared to their peers of the time.  The bat, the ball, player training, and the amount of games played has changed many times over the years.

State Street

January 9th, 2013 at 11:51 AM ^

The real issue is there is no guidelines.  Though Piazza won't be getting in per exit polls, what if he did?  He has an autobiography coming out this year that supposedly "addresses the sterioid rumors."  If he admits it, then what?  Do you rescind his acceptance?

What a giant clusterfuck.

Also, Clemens should never get in ever due to his smugness and douchebaginess.  "Character" is supposedly a criteria.

French West Indian

January 9th, 2013 at 11:56 AM ^

As a child, I used to think it was pretty cool.  But now that I've long since grown up, when I kind about what these "Hall of Fame" are, it's pretty, i.e., a bunch of politicking to determine who gets the final seal of approval for greatness.  F that shit.

If you pay any attention at all to a sport (or whatever other field has a HOF) then you are going to know who the greats are, who had legendary careers and who might be tainted by scandal.  But drawing a line in the sand and calling out who is "in" and who is "out" is little more that childish pettiness that really shouldn't have a place at the highest levels of any endeavour.  The body of work should stand for itself.


January 9th, 2013 at 11:57 AM ^

I silently wondered if Piazza were among the steroid users.  But it's not like he necessarily pulled a Todd Hundley or Brady Anderson, and then fell off the face of the earth (In fact, both guys had a season with more HRs than Piazza).  He wasn't all that big, and his biggest HR season was a 40 homer season (albeit in 143 or so games).  What was amazing to me was his ability to hit consistently with 2 strikes.  His size didn't alter all that much, but the only question mark you wonder is how could the scouts not see this guy?  How did he come out of no-where? 

I haven't ever seen his name come up with allegations, but it sounds like all these players will suffer the same scrutiny and will not be allowed in.  What an interesting (and sad) moment in Baseball history.  IMO, Skinny Barry Bonds would have been a first ballot HOFer, as would have Clemens.  Their stats might be questionable (particularly in what should have been their twighlight years), but these guys are HOFers.


January 9th, 2013 at 12:16 PM ^

I can't form a fair opinion of anyone playing for Houston during that era because I feel Clemens cheated while there, Gonzales cheated as an Astro,  and while I admire Bagwell for his contributions, determination to play hobbled at the end, and being a one team guy, I can't look at him and his unprecedented success, and big slugging numbers while at Houston and judge fairly. Right or not. A guy famous for being a power hitter during the steroid era on a team with steroid users is too tough a call to be impartial. I have an aversion to late 90's-early 2000s baseball. So I decided I'll have no opinion about the HOF candidates from this era. Unfortunately I think the majority of writers feel the same way and some players that didn't cheat might get a raw deal from playing during that era.


January 9th, 2013 at 12:18 PM ^

Not that I'm saying you can't do that, but the truth is the writers cannot.  A vote for them is a statement that they don't think they took PEDs or that PEDs don't make one bit of difference.  Not voting for them will be interpreted as thinking it matters.  The voters don't have the luxury of not having an opinion because their vote will be considered their opinion.


January 9th, 2013 at 12:25 PM ^

Biggio: You'd be crazy not to

Bagwell: Borderline. If you had asked me thirty years ago, I would have said yes, but given the proliferation of power hitting recently. he doesn't stand out as much anymore.

Piazza: No question about it. The guy's innocent (and one of the best-hitting catchers ever) until proven guilty

Bonds, Clemens, Sosa: Screw 'em



January 9th, 2013 at 12:40 PM ^

FWIW:  Baseball Prospectus' writers voted on the HOF and published its results today. There were 33 voters; Clemens, Bonds, Piazza, Bagwell, Biggio, Raines and TRAMMELL all got 75% or more of the vote.  Just missing were Schilling and Edgar Martinez.  Morris was not a factor.  See www.baseballprospectus.com .


January 9th, 2013 at 12:44 PM ^

Bonds = Greatest Hitter of All Time
Clemens = Greatest RHP of All Time

Without them in the HOF. The HOF just becomes of club of guys a bunch of sports writers like.


January 9th, 2013 at 12:48 PM ^

I'm not sold on Bagwell, Biggio, or Piazza.  Perhaps it's different since I grew up watching them all play, but when I was younger, I thought there was something special about a Hall of Famer.  They had to be better than just good or very good.  They had to be the kind of player people would tell their kids they saw play, players you'd be watching highlights of 30, 40, 50 years down the road (Brooks Robinson always sticks in my mind in that regard). 


None of those guys strike me as anything other than very good players during their time.  Lack of championships also doesn't help their respective cases.