Who's a Lock for the Hall of Fame?

Late commissioner Bart Giamatti wrote eloquently about how baseball breaks your heart when it leaves you in the Autumn as cold rain falls. However, he didn't have the Bill James Handbook to keep him warm over the winter months and sooth him until baseball returns in the spring.

Bill James Handbook 2001, which contains all the team and individual stats and leader boards from the 2010 season, features this year for the first time "The Hall of Fame Monitor." The purpose of the Monitor is to summarize as tersely and impartially as possible where players from the current generation of major league ballplayers stand with respect to getting into the Hall of Fame, as nearly as can be determined.

"If a player is listed at '100' or above in the charts, that means that he is a full-qualified Hall of Famer at this point, as best we are able to determine in mid-career," says James in the book. "If he is at '73,' or '64,' or '57,' then he may be a Hall of Famer, either because of things that he has not yet done but will do in the future or because one set or another of Hall of Fame voters may take a liking to him. Many players are in the Hall of Fame who have scores short of 100, and some are in who have scores less than 60. We are not suggesting that this is wrong; merely, that it is difficult to anticipate."

There are very few players in history who have had scores over 100 and are eligible for the Hall but have not been selected. The leading Hall of Fame candidates born since 1968 or still active as of the end of 2010 with more than 100 points under James' new Hall of Fame Monitor are: Alex Rodriguez (188), Mariano Rivera (150), Albert Pujols (146), Derek Jeter (138), Manny Ramirez (125), Frank Thomas (121), Mike Piazza (120), Ken Griffey, Jr. (114), Ichiro Suzuki (110), Jeff Bagwell (107), Chipper Jones (107), Trevor Hoffman (106), Roberto Alomar (105), Vladimir Guerrero (105), Gary Sheffield (101), Sammy Sosa (100).

Ivan Rodriguez falls one short with 99 points. Todd Helton (92), Billy Wagner (92), and Jim Thome (91) are the only other players active in 2010 with 90 or more points.

There are very few players in history who have had scores over 100 and are eligible for the Hall but have not been selected. The leading Hall of Fame candidates born since 1968 or still active as of the end of 2010 with more than 100 points under James' new Hall of Fame Monitor are: Alex Rodriguez (188), Mariano Rivera (150), Albert Pujols (146), Derek Jeter (138), Manny Ramirez (125), Frank Thomas (121), Mike Piazza (120), Ken Griffey, Jr. (114), Ichiro Suzuki (110), Jeff Bagwell (107), Chipper Jones (107), Trevor Hoffman (106), Roberto Alomar (105), Vladimir Guerrero (105), Gary Sheffield (101), Sammy Sosa (100).

Ivan Rodriguez falls one short with 99 points. Todd Helton (92), Billy Wagner (92), and Jim Thome (91) are the only other players active in 2010 with 90 or more points.

The cutoff birthdate for the Hall of Fame Monitor was 1968, except for players still active in 2010. Mark McGwire, for example, is not listed because he was born in 1963. His score is 90. Trevor Hoffman (106), Omar Vizquel (48), Jaimie Moyer (28), and Tim Wakefield (15) were all born before 1968 but were still active in 2010 and are listed. Scores do not reflect the 2010 playoffs or post-season awards.

These estimates are based on a combination of two unrelated and very dissimilar systems. According to James, the question he asks in both cases is "Has this player done the things that Hall of Fame players have done?" and "How many of the things that Hall of Fame players have done has this player done?"

James and his cohorts at Baseball Info Solutions, Rob Burckhard, Damon Lichtenwalner, and Jeff Spoljaric, came up with two different "systems" to measure Hall of Fame likelihood. The first system contains 32 "rules" to help determine each player's "score" on the Hall of Fame Monitor. Those 32 rules make up only one system for determining Hall of Fameability, however. James totals up the points under those 32 rules and then sets that aside.

The other system is based on James' Win Shares, or actually, Win Shares with a caveat for relievers and another for catchers.

James then adds the points awarded under the two systems together, divides by two, and rounds down. Those are the points accounted for in the Hall of Fame Monitor given in the book for all active players in 2010.

"The idea is that by looking at the question in two entirely different ways," says James, "we can avoid the weaknesses of either approach. One system probably underrates relievers; the other one probably overrates them, but when you put them together, you're OK. One system ignores park effects and changes in league standards; the other system meticulously adjusts for them. Hall of Fame voters partially adjust for these things, so having a system part of which adjusts for them and part of which doesn't, that works. The system mirrors the process."

A complete copy of he Hall of Fame Monitor with all the players' scores and the criteria for the point system is available for download at www.ACTAsports.com. The Bill James Handbook 2011 is now available from booksellers nationwide.

The handbook against which all other statistic annual are judged uses 520 pages to give the reader all the records of every player and pitcher who saw action in 2010 plus a Team Efficiency Summery, The Fielding Bible Awards, Runs Saved and Plus/Minus Leaders, Fielding Statistics, Baserunning Statistics, A Bullpen Analysis Pinch-Hitting, Manufactured Runs, Managers Records, Win Shares, Instant Replay Results, Hitter and Pitcher projections, Career Targets, and a whole lot more

We don't always agree with Peter Gammons, but when he says in regard to the handbook, "The prize of our winter hibernation" he is dead on. As always, the cost is $24.95 paperback and $29.95 spiral-bound. It's cheaper and much more satisfying than an electric blanket.

Phone, Email or write:
ACTA Sports
4848 N. Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60640
? 800/397-2282
? www.actasports.com

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