Tuesday, July 31, 2012

This One Goes Out To All The Little People

Second base has always been a strange one to me when it comes to the HoF.  It’s obviously a defense first position and any offense is a boon, much moreso than the catcher position.  But, as one of my friends on StL Legends put it recently, it’s such a blah position in terms of great players.  You’ve got the one in Hornsby, then everyone else is just kinda....there for the most part.  Just off the top of your head, besides Joe Morgan and Eddie Collins, can you name a HoF second baseman that was a dynamic offensive player?  There aren’t many.  

Before I go on, I would like to note that I am changing my ranking scheme yet again.  Upon reflection, I figured that each position should have at least one S rank person, and I think that 150 may be a bit high.  I dropped it to 145.  So now, you have the addition of Johnny Bench to the S rank.

On average, for a HoF second baseman, you need to have played for about 16 and a half years, and have a career WAR of about 74.5.  That gives us a baseline of 4.54 WAR/yr.  And, looking at that list, I have a bad feeling like I’m gonna be kicked out of StL Legends.  Here we go:


Yep.  I knew it was going to happen.  Schoendienst gets the bump.  I think when I’m all done, I’d look back at guys who had long standing careers beyond being a player.  I think Red would make it back in when you count his player and management years together.  But, as just a player, gotta say no.  Other than that, really not a lot to say about this one.  Kinda cool to see Joe Gordon pretty high, he had a short but underrated career.  Jackie Robinson is right where he belongs, as are guys like Mazeroski (the man responsible for ending the old VC).  Could make the argument that Doerr should be lower, and believe me when I say I have 0 bias towards Boston, he was a very good offensive second baseman (377 wOBA) in an era of light hitting ones.

Counting from the previous entry, we have:
4 S Ranks
6 A Ranks
10 B Ranks
14 C Ranks
4 D Ranks
14 F Ranks

So far, doing a decent job.  13 of the 14 in the F rank have been voted in by the old VC.  The only one that was voted in by the writers was Hartnett on the catchers list, but he was pretty close to the C tier so not too bad.

Upcoming Ballots:
Pre-2013: None

2013: Biggio and Todd Walker become eligible.  I’m gonna just write about Biggio here.  I’ve always thought of Biggio as a solid player who probably stayed on a little too long just to get that 3000 hit plateau.  He was always a really really good player, and I would have no problem with him being in the HoF mainly because he played a lot of games at second, catcher and center field, so his offensive achievements probably get heightened because of it.  Now, his WAR+ is only an 82.  Had he retired just a bit earlier, his decline wouldn’t have been that much.  Again, no real issue with me if he gets in, but looking back he was a really good hitter who played a long time.

2014: Jeff Kent is eligible.  Before even running the numbers, I’d say I’m torn on him.  Part of me wants to say “Yeah he was worthy because he was a very good to great offensive second baseman.”  The other part is saying “He probably should have been at first base.  I don’t think he was good enough offensively to overcome his defense.”  So, with that out of the way, let’s calc his WAR+.  It comes out to 79.  So, guess not.  And yes, it was his defense that brought him down (-18.4 according to fangraphs).

2015 and 2016 don’t really have anyone worthy enough to talk about, and I refuse to calculate WAR+’s for Ray Durham, Jose Vidro and Mark Loretta.

So there are the little second basemen, who actually have a lot more people inducted than I realized.  Next up will be third basemen.  I’m enjoying this little dive into baseball history.  I hope whoever reads this does too.

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