Many systems exist for evaluating player performance. One such system, the Win Shares method, developed by Bill James in 2002, is a complex method for evaluating players which includes all aspects of performance – offense, defense and pitching.
James has stated that, "Historically, 400 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, future standards may be different. Players with 300-350 Win Shares in the past have generally gone into the Hall of Fame. In the future, they more often will not".
The 2010 class of Hall of Fame candidates is a strong one. It consists of 11 holdovers and 15 players eligible for the first time. Seven holdovers have over 300 Win Shares, Tim Raines with 390, Mark McGwire with 342, Andre Dawson, 340, Bert Blyleven, 339, Dave Parker, 327, Alan Trammell 318 and Harold Baines with 307. Four newcomers also have over 300 Win Shares, Roberto Alomar 375, Barry Larkin 347, Fred McGriff 326 and Edgar Martinez 305.
In 2009, Rickey Henderson was elected with 94.8% of the votes in his first appearance on the ballot and Jim Rice was elected with 76.4% of the vote. Tommy John (31.7%) was unsuccessful in his last (15th) year and is not on the 2010 ballot. No newcomers, other than Henderson, received enough votes to remain on the ballot.
None of the holdovers experienced a significant increase in votes in 2009. The two holdovers with the most votes, Andre Dawson (up 3 votes) and Bert Blyleven (down 2 votes) remained virtually the same. Blyleven's last year on the ballot is 2012 so he needs to start moving up if he is going to make it.
Tim Raines and Mark McGwire both lost votes and received less than 25% of the total. McGwire is a special case. He has the numbers to be elected but remains tainted with the steroid cloud. Voters are likely to wait until more is known about the extent of steroid usage before giving McGwire a pass. He lost ground in 2009, receiving only 21.9% of the vote so it is likely to be a slow process.
Raines would appear to have the credentials for election but also lost ground in 2009 receiving only 22.6% of the vote. He should begin gaining but has a long way to go. Several newcomers on the 2010 ballot should receive enough votes to remain on the ballot.
Following is a list of Win Shares for the 26 players on the ballot. Players on the ballot for the first time are shown in bold. Voting results for 2007, 2008 and 2009 are shown for the holdovers.
The last 15 players elected by the Baseball Writers have averaged 353 Win Shares, a figure exceeded by only Raines and Alomar on the ballot this year.
|Hall of Famers||Year||Shrs|
Win Shares are fundamentally a quantitative measure of a player's accomplishments. A measure of the quality of a player's offensive performance is OPS+ which compares his OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging average) with the league average during his career. An OPS+ of 120 suggests that his performance is 20% better than that of a league average player. A similar approach (ERA+) can be used to compare a pitcher's ERA against the league average during his career.
Following is a rank order of OPS+ and ERA+ for the 26 candidates on the 2009 ballot:
|Mark McGwire||162||Lee Smith||131|
|Edgar Martinez||147||Mike Jackson||125|
|Fred McGriff||134||Kevin Appier||121|
|Don Mattingly||127||Bert Blyeven||118|
|Ellis Burks||126||Pat Hentgen||108|
|Tim Raines||123||Jack Morris||105|
|Ray Lankford||122||Shane Reynolds||103|
The Win Shares system favors players with long productive careers like Raines, Dawson and Blyleven while OPS+ rewards strong offensive players who had shorter, more dominant careers like Martinez, Mattingly and Burks. ERA+ favors relief pitchers since their ERAs are generally lower because they are not charged with runs scored by inherited runners.
1. Roberto Alomar and Barry Larkin will be elected in 2010.
2. None of the holdovers will be elected in 2010 although Dawson and Blyleven should pick up a few votes.
3. Mark McGwire will not come close but should gain some ground and could get elected in the future. He is the only eligible player with over 500 home runs not in the Hall.
4. Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff and Andres Galarraga should receive enough votes to remain on the ballot.
5. There will not be a groundswell of support for Todd Zeile and Mike Jackson.
If I had a ballot, I would cast votes for Alomar, Larkin, Raines, Blyleven, McGwire and Trammell.
Bill Gilbert is a baseball analyst and writer and member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).