Win Shares and the Hall of Fame – 2007 Update

Bill Gilbert's third annual assessment of the Hall of Fame prospects for active players using the Bill James Win Share system. In the past, James has stated that 400 Win Shares means absolute enshrinement.

For the past three years, I have taken a look at the Hall of Fame credentials of active players based on the Bill James Win Share system. In the Win Shares system, James states that 400 career Win Shares means absolute enshrinement in the Hall of Fame and 300 Win Shares makes a player more likely than not to be a Hall of Famer. However, he cautions, while those standards describe the past, they are not as likely to describe the future as accurately. Players with 300 to 350 Win Shares in the past have generally gone into the Hall of Fame. In the future, they more often will not.

The Win Shares system provides a useful method of examining the body of work that a player has accumulated in his career. In the case of active players, it is interesting to see if they are on track for the Hall.

The first list includes active players with 300 or more Win Shares. Topping the list is Barry Bonds with 686 Win Shares, a total exceeded by only Babe Ruth (756) and Ty Cobb (722). Despite gaining only four Win Shares in 2006, Gary Sheffield joined Roger Clemens and Craig Biggio as the only other active players with 400 Win Shares. Five players passed the 300 mark in 2006: Jeff Kent, Randy Johnson, Jim Thome, Tom Glavine and Chipper Jones. Glavine gained five Win Shares on Johnson in 2006 and is on the verge of passing him to become the top left-handed pitcher of his generation, based on Win Shares.

Active Players with 300 Win Shares (WS)

	  1/1/07 '06  WS thru 	
	     Age  WS  2006  Comment
Pos. Players				
Barry Bonds   42  25  686   Only Ruth and Cobb have more.
Craig Biggio  41  11  422   Closing in on Ripken at 427.
G. Sheffield  38   4  402   Now in can't miss territory over 400.
Frank Thomas  38  21  383   Huge '06 comeback ensures election.
K. Griffey Jr 37   9  367   Early success should be enough.
A. Rodriguez  31  25  340   Still piles up stats in an off-year.
Manny Ramirez 34  27  334   Had best year on this list.
Mike Piazza   38  11  320   Best hitting catcher ever.
Jeff Kent     38  18  313   Building a pretty strong case.
B. Williams   38   8  311   Nearing the end, probably short of Hall.
Jim Thome     36  25  304   Has a shot after comeback in 2006.
Chipper Jones 34  22  301   A couple more good years and he's in.
Roger Clemens 44  11  432   Fifth on all-time list for pitchers.
Greg Maddux   40  12  383   Sure bet for the Hall.
Randy Johnson 43   8  305   Another sure bet despite recent decline.
Tom Glavine   40  13  303   Should reach 300 wins in 2007.

A strong group of players have apparently completed their careers in 2005 with 300+ Win Shares and will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time in 2011 if they stay retired.

 	       1/1/07	WS thru 	
	        Age	2006	Comment
Rafael Palmeiro	42	394	Left under a cloud.
Jeff Bagwell	38	387	Should lead this class.
Sammy Sosa	38	311	Ugly exit in '05. May be back.
Larry Walker	40	307	May not be enough.
John Olerud	38	301	Not enough power.

The next list is of players with 250 Win Shares through 2006. These players should get on the HOF ballot but most will not be elected. Three players moved into this group in 2006, Moises Alou, Carlos Delgado and Omar Vizquel.

Active Players with 250 Win Shares

Age on WS in WS thru  
1/1/2007 2006 2006 Comment
Position Players
Luis Gonzalez 39 12 297 Doesn't have the numbers.
Steve Finley 41 10 296 Same category as Gonzalez.
Ivan Rodriguez 35 24 296 A sure bet.
Jason Giambi 35 22 283 Needs 3 or 4 more big years.
Julio Franco 48 3 278 Amazing career but not HOF.
Derek Jeter 32 32 277 Another sure thing.
Jim Edmonds 36 11 274 Not quite HOF caliber.
Kenny Lofton 39 12 273 Lengthy but not dominant career.
Moises Alou 40 14 263 Missed too much playing time.
Carlos Delgado 34 22 262 Borderline if he stays productive.
Omar Vizquel 39 20 250 Way short of Ozzie Smith's 325 WS.
John Smoltz 39 15 272 Will get some consideration.

The final list is of active players that have 200 Win Shares. Many are productive veterans with good careers but without HOF credentials. Only those on this list younger than 35 have a realistic chance. Six players joined this list in 2006: Johnny Damon, Ray Durham, Albert Pujols, Miguel Tejada, Nomar Garciaparra and Jason Kendall.

Active Players with 200 Win Shares

Age on WS in  WS thru 
1/1/2007 2006 2006 Comment
Position Players
Bobby Abreu 32 27 249 Needs a long career.
Brian Giles 35 21 249 Slowing down too soon.
Vladimir Guerrero 30 24 243 Piling up HOF stats.
Scott Rolen 31 21 235 Needs to stay healthy to have a shot.
Tim Salmon 38 4 232 End of a good but not great career.
Andruw Jones 29 22 232 Early start gives him a chance.
Todd Helton 33 21 230 Decline phase started early.
Shawn Green 34 11 225 Not a serious candidate.
Ryan Klesko 35 1 223 Doesn't seem to have much left.
Ruben Sierra 41 0 222 Did not sustain early promise.
Johnny Damon 33 21 216 Won't generate HOF credentials.
Ray Durham 35 20 212 Nice comeback in 2006 but way short.
Edgardo Alfonzo 33 0 211 Career cratered early.
Albert Pujols 26 37 210 On pace for 525 WS in 15 year career.
Miguel Tejada 30 23 210 Has time to put up the numbers.
Reggie Sanders 39 5 206 Many stops but not Cooperstown. 
Nomar Garciaparra 33 17 203 Too much time lost to injuries.
Jason Kendall 32 23 202 Durable but not productive enough.
Pedro Martinez 35 6 249 Dominance will get him in.
Mike Mussina 38 14 248 Still has work to do.
Curt Schilling 40 15 242 Post-season success will help his case.
David Wells 43 4 207 Way short.

Bill Gilbert is a baseball analyst and writer and member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).

© 2007 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.

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