1939 – Bob on an important difference between the GOR and the real-world Hall of Fame

The HOF is different from the GOR. The HOF ballot asks: “Is he a HOFer?”, and the voter say yea or nay. The GOR ballot asks: “Was he one of the two best players at this time?”, and we put them in order. Similar concepts, but not really the same thing. When deciding on Edgar or Tim Raines or Jack Morris for the Hall, we ask ourselves about their worthiness in a historical context. This thread is all about comparing Edgar to Heilmann as historical figures. In the GOR, comparing Edgar to Heilmann is meaningless – they aren’t competing against each other. Heilmann is competing against his contemporaries, and when Edgar comes on the ballot he will be competing with his contemporaries. When Martinez comes on the ballot, his ranking will have nothing to do with Heilmann.

I am of two minds, presently, about whether to expand the number of yearly GOR winners. Part of me wants to keep it at two per year in perpetuity. Part of me is willing to expand to three somewhere around the 2000 election. Ultimately, it’s not “my” GOR ; it’s our GOR. My concept for this endeavor has morphed into something different than I had originally intended. The original premise was who WOULD be in the Hall, not who SHOULD be in the Hall. But thru voting and suggestions by the participants, it has changed. Leggett and Mathews WOULD have been chosen, but weren’t; Negro Leaguers WOULD not have been in the Hall in the ’30s, but we are; we’re now adding two Contributors and Managers per election, instead of one. There may well be other changes on the horizon, naming 3 per year might be one of them.

Gray Ink has obvious flaws. It only measures offensive dominance. It doesn’t really work across generations. It’s not park adjusted. It’s next to useless comparing pitchers to position players. Catchers don’t do well at all. But as a tool, it works just fine. But all Great Stats are flawed. One just has to know not to rely on any single one. One just has to know what a Great Stat “means”, what it measures. I rarely use any Great Stat when comparing across generations. Are 350 Win Shares in the Dirty Ball Era equivalent to 350 WS in the modern age? Or because of expansion, are Sherry Magee’s 350 WS more similar to Wade Boggs’ 394? Or because of the quality of play, is Magee closer to Jack Clark’s 316? Is a 2012 replacement level player the same as a 1912 replacement? WAR makes its measurement as if it is. But I’m not convinced it’s true. Gray Ink (or WAR or Win Shares or anything else) doesn’t answer the question; they are just tools to lead us towards AN answer, not necessarily THE answer.

And I am of two minds about your first paragraph, which is why I brought my “2000 Games” thread back to the top. So many more players are playing longer now. It’s muddying the HOF yes/no line. Are more playing 2000 games because of expansion or because the players are better now? It’s both of course. Barry Bonds would have played 2000 games if there had only been 16 teams in the ’90s. Rickey Henderson would have played 2000. George Brett, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken and a few others I’m sure would have. Edgar Martinez? Even with the DH, not likely. Without the DH, in a 16-team majors, he might not have gotten to 1000. Which ultimately is beside the point – we don’t evaluate greatness on woulda/shoulda/coulda. We evaluate on dida. And what Martinez did was considerable.

Leaving the GOR out of the discussion for a moment, what is the purpose of the Hall? Is it to honor the players? If it is, then by all means Edgar is worthy. He is clearly above the worthy-o-meter line. Raines, Whitaker, Trammell, Lofton, maybe Brett Butler as well. I’m all in favor of getting these guys in to honor them, and dozens more too. Let’s get them in before they die, so we CAN honor them. There’s little point in naming Deacon White or Ross Barnes or Bill Dahlen or Joe Jackson now. They are all long gone. We can’t really honor them anymore, so what would be the point (which is why picking Santo this year or Durocher in ’94 seems kind of crass to me)? But…..

If you think the purpose of the Hall is to honor BASEBALL (as I do), then you have a different take on who should and should not be in the Hall. My thinking on who should be in is radically different from most people. I try to envision Cooperstown in 2100. Whose plaque should a baseball fan, going thru the Gallery, gawk at in 2100? If we add two per year (which is what we’ve basically done), by 2100 there are going to be over 400 plaques to look at. If we go to three a year or even four (since there are, as you say, twice as many worthy candidates now), the Gallery is going to be so crowded that the “Hall Experience” for the fan will be overwhelming. And not in a good way. How many yearly enshrinees will we have to have if we expand to 40 or 50 teams (it’s coming, not in my lifetime, but my future grandkids’ I’m sure)? The various VetComs have made some huge mistakes in the past (generally speaking, the BBWAA has done a very good job). That doesn’t mean we have to do the same now.

Just my personal take on Martinez and the Hall: Edgar is right at the yes/no line for me. I don’t use him as my standard, but I could. I might ask: “Is this player better than Edgar? If yes, he’s a HOFer. If no, then he’s not.”

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