Hall of Fame vote Craig Biggio Sonics etc.January 10th, 2013 by terrybenish
In terms of reporting I am late to the table to tell you that no one was elected to Hall of Fame yesterday. Lots of hand wringing about steroid’s laden players, known and suspected. Of the voters two national voices understand totally the overall situation and one more pretty closely follows those two. Tom Verducci has written, reported and homilized for over ten years that the cheaters are just that and don’t belong. He talked yesterday about his ongoing thoughts on this, mentioned anecdotes about player’s association guys instructing players how to beat tests, talked about how non-cheaters stood up at the time to player’s association and to writers about cheating, but largely were ignored. Peter Gammons is the second guy who has no truck with the cheaters, suggested a PED wing or cheaters wing of the Hall of Fame. The third guy was Tim Kurkjian who said the process needs to be overhauled and came close to my small voice of saying the vote needs to be taken from writer’s hands becacuse the process was broken.
Craig Biggio received the highest vote total yesterday, some 68% or so. By contrast Edgar Martinez was 35% again. Wanted to talk a little bit about this, examine Biggio’s career a bit, contrast him to Edgar and his team mate Jeff Bagwell who did not get in. The announcement yesterday with him as the highest vote candidate can be construed as a protest vote against the cheaters and also an illustration of what Kurkjian remarked about the broken process and also how it appears the voters seem to be stuck in a paradigm about the PED users that is a head scratcher at best.
Biggio played for a long time and accumulated 3,000 hits. That would seem to be his largest attribute, sort of a I stayed healthy and was in class for twenty years. He was a catcher, second baseman and centerfielder in that sequence during his career.
For the first five years of his career he was a catcher that did not show much more than being fast for a catcher. His highest OPS was in his fifth year at .747, which in that era is not remotely special. During those five years his highest slugging percentage was .402. Zeroing in further his extrabase hit percentage jumps up to a high point as does his home run, doubles and triple’s numbers and they stay up the rest of his career from the sixth year of his career. Which was his second year at second base after moving from catcher.
Let me come back to his numbers in a few paragraphs. Jeff Bagwell his long term team mate, a first baseman with monster stats who looks like a power lifter and did so all of his career was not voted in yesterday. Go to baseball reference and examine his numbers. He never had a bad year, from start to finish and by OPS would have the tenth best career OPS in hall of fame .948. Similarly Edgar Martinez at .933 would have the sixteenth best career OPS. Biggio by contrast has a career OPS of .796, 143rd best. The number does not stand well with other catchers or center fielders. From 1992 to 2002 he plays second base and his OPS numbers are routinely in the .800s and has two years above .900. He hits fifty doubles twice at the age of thirty two and thirty three. There are seven guys in the Hall of Fame as second basemen who did not hit that well. Six of them were voted in by veteran’s or old timer’s committees which suggests strongly they were not that good. The seventh was Ryne Sandberg.
So the point is, if you were ever going to question whether somebody was juiced, just by looking at numbers, without any evidence, which was the situation that all of the voters were, say in the case of Bagwell, how could you not look askance at Biggio’s numbers? He showed no power at first, because he was small and then those numbers blow up and really sustain through his second to last season at age 40. That is sort of the poster kind of thing for steroids. Plus if Bagwell is bad, Biggio’s locker was right next to him in the locker room. Proximity alone suggests this.
This is probably not fair, but it is the Hall of Fame we’re taking about. He starts out as a catcher and seems to get worse the further it goes defensively. Lots of balls get by him and his throwout percentage is for his career is nothing special at 23%. More suggestive than that number is that the number of attempts to run when he’s catching continue to increase year to year.
Somebody now is frothing at the mouth for sure, because they are going to say, he won four gold glove awards at second base. My simple response is to look at the numbers. If you go to Fangraphs and look at his advanced fielding metrics, he was a below average second baseman at best.
So now I’m certain that you’re absolutely furious if you’re a Craig Biggio lover/voter. If misery loves company the case has been made before my thoughts above:
Lots of National baseball guys like Jayson Stark disparaged Edgar Marinez’s candidacy yesterday, mostly inferring the dh issue as a limiting factor. Craig Biggio was a below average defensive player, wherever he played and overall his sub .800 career OPS is not remotely special. So you might infer if he was an American League player he would have been a dh sort of like Paul Molitor who is in on the twenty one year career and 3,000 hit thing.
There are 42 guys in the Hall of Fame with sub .800 OPS for their career. Nine of those have OPS below .700. Thirty one of the 42 guys were not elected by writers. Veteran’s committee, Old Timer’s committee and other manner was their way in. In light of the scrutiny from yesterday hardly any of the players in via the non writer votes belong when you examine their numbers. There are other players from the 60s and 70s that should more consideration than those guys, Vada Pinson, Gene Tenace, Dave Concepcion and there are others if these thirty one made it.
The point is that if Edgar is disregarded as a dh, how can all 42 of these sub-.800 OPS considered in light of their lack of hitting? If there is some mystical WAH of Hall of Fame membership, a balance if you were it is missing and seems to be sliding further and further from center. That voters would think that leaving the sixteenth best hitter out of the Hall of Fame is a statement in and of it itself.
I have not looked at the Times in an hour nor Twitter, so I don’t know if the Kings to Seattle has blown up this morning. In a week in which Seahawk football is at a crescendo and the Sonics appear close to materializing, I can only hope that Howard Lincoln has been locked in a closet and is restrained from some Mr. Potter-esque pound his hand on the desk about the damned arena statement. I’m not sure if that is possible though.
I think it is 32 days until pitchers and catchers report.