Un lineup de HOFER´S en esta temporada?



Este articulo salio publicado en Bill James on line y me parecio un buen punto de partida para alguna discusion adicional. Esta en ingles mas obviamente el lineup es facil de extraer del articulo:

"A Hall of Fame Lineup
By Sean Kates

Whatever happened to position players peaking in their late 20s? It used to be a given that, at any time, the best non-pitchers in the game could be expected to be around 27-31, and the best players would do their best work during those years. Even a superficial look at the rosters of today’s teams and any list of the stars of the game suggests that we are missing a goodly chunk of talent. Sure, there is an absolute haul of talent at pitcher in that age range, but impact bats are sorely lacking. A look at the best player at any one position almost never yields a player over 26 or under 31. From positions 2-9, it looks like Martin/McCann/Mauer, Pujols, Utley/Phillips, ARod/Wright, Hanley/Reyes, Holliday/Braun, Sizemore/Hamiton/Beltran, and, uh, Markakis? Ordonez? Dye? Vlad? Right field is a disaster right now, and I can’t begin to tell you who the best one in the game is. Ortiz probably still qualifies as the best DH, given that the first month of the season seems more like a blip than anything else AND that DH is a pretty putrid “position” in today’s American League. Of these 20, including all the possible RF, only five are in those golden ages, and that includes Phillips, who turned 27 about two weeks ago.

Reasons for this are probably some combination of random chance, variance, the glut of talent that chose pitching, and sheer divine providence for this article. In any case, the reasons why are a topic for another article.* The talent gap is important however, when you are trying to make a lineup or two of today’s most likely Hall of Famers. After you get past the near locks, you usually can fall back on projectable stars who are 5-7 years into their careers, and have a strong statistical base from which to make a run at Cooperstown. These players, for the most part, simply don’t exist in today’s game. As you will see below, the drop from, say, Derek Jeter to Hanley is indeed a steep one, marked by an impossibly long list of extremely possible injuries, disasters, or changes in the game or position, a host of foreseeable and unforeseeable catastrophes that will make this article look silly long before any of the players mentioned even become eligible for the Hall. Oh well, I’m this far in, might as well go on.

Before I get into the lineups and the involved discussion, a note about the rubric. I chose the current players** MOST likely to make the Hall of Fame, through some weighted mixture of their performance to date and their projectability. This can be grossly unsatisfying, mostly because Jeff Kent gets another chance to put down young players, but otherwise this becomes a pretty pointless game of throwing darts in the dark to decide who will build on a promising 3-4 year career, and who will succumb to any number of the hurdles that life places in the way of baseball immortality. However, I have also included the young player with the highest chance of making the Hall for that position, at least in my opinion. ‘Cause I like darts.

Mr. James has written an article with his percentages (“Hall of Famers Among Us” or “James01046” using the page code) and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I consulted it as a source, but have come to some different conclusions, and decided to eschew the “Present/Eventual” split, given that I don’t believe there is such a thing as a “present” chance. A lot can happen in 5 years, even if the player doesn’t set foot inside a stadium, as once HOF near-lock Mark McGwire can tell you. And so, on to the list….

C – Ivan Rodriguez, Tigers Yankees

He is an absolute out factory now, with two of his last three full seasons ending below .300 in OBP. Yet, he’s won infinity Gold Gloves (mostly deserved), he was an offensive force in the middle of his career (1999 AL MVP and a better injury-unlucky 2000), and has real purrrrty batting average numbers that will appeal to voters. Posada will probably also get in, eventually, but Pudge is a first three years kind of guy. Interesting note: two men nicknamed “Pudge” are in the top 10 in stolen bases for modern-era Catchers.

Understudy: Joe Mauer, Twins. This is probably the hardest position to predict out to any range, given the stress of playing catcher and the unclear baseline for a deserving Hall of Famer at the position. Choosing a young player here is nearly impossible. McCann and Martin have produced more offensively to this point, but Mauer has won a batting title, may win more, and if he stays behind the plate, will probably get 3-4 Gold Gloves. That might be enough to get him in, given the Hall’s long time favor for high batting averages and defense. Note that I have left a 4th young “M” out of the conversation, as I don’t think that Victor Martinez plays more than one more season at Catcher. If I am wrong, then he probably skyrockets to the front of this list, given even average defense.

1B/DH – Frank Thomas, Athletics and Albert Pujols, Cardinals.

I think it’s easy to forget how good Frank Thomas was, or even how good he actually still might be. Too many injuries, petty squabbles, and too many giant years from other players since his absolute peak. Still, if Jeff Bagwell even sniffs the Hall of Fame, then Frank Thomas should be allowed to use it as his fire hydrant. Or, uh, something that is slightly less disgusting but says in roundabout fashion that Thomas is a much better player than Bagwell.

Pujols…hmm. Easily the youngest (supposedly) and least experienced on the list, he is not yet even eligible for Hall inclusion. Still, absent an act of God, I think Pujols has the best shot of today’s first basemen, and God is unlikely to want to mess with Albert. He hits EVERYTHING hard.

One of the things Mr. James points to in his article is the constantly changing state of the Hall and the moving benchmarks for inclusion. Part of this is, as he says, due to expansion, and these effects will be felt dramatically over the next few years. But what of 10 years from now, when some of these players are coming up on the ballot. Won’t voters presumably be a little more knowledgeable about park effects, neutralized lines, and runs created? It seems easy to include Helton as the 1b, and simply drop Pujols into the field below as an understudy far better than the diva. But I have this (Hopeful? Sinking? Hopefully Sinking?) feeling that the voters will eventually be able to see Helton for what he was: a very good Dr. Jekyll turned into a monstrous Mr. Hyde by the worst American beer. So it’s Pujols for me. I would also select Thome before Helton, as an aside.

Understudy: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers. He’s fat, I get it. He’s also on pace for his fifth straight season of 25+ homers and 110+ RBI with a career line of .310/.383/.536. Oh, and he will still be 25 years old when next season begins. His career path is unpredictable due to positional and sandwichical worries, but right now he’s just fun to watch. I will admit to a little bias, as his is the only jersey I currently own.

2B – Jeff Kent, Dodgers

He’s probably a terrible person and he’s definitely a terrible dirt bike rider car washer. Still, he has an MVP award, more homeruns than any second baseman in history, and an ass-kicking mustache. Despite his defensive nonexistence (which voters have time and again ignored entirely when it suits them) and his purported surliness, I think he skates in easily. In fact, perhaps my largest departure from Mr. James’ list comes here, as I think there is almost zero way that sportswriters look past his credentials.***

Understudy: Chase Utley, Phillies…and he’s not particularly close. I don’t think that Bill is far off in putting this at about 15% (though if he stayed healthy last year and won the MVP, or continued his torrid start to this year, it might be double that), and I can’t even think of another player at this position with a legitimate shot. Not a great time to be a second baseman, I guess.

3B – Alex Rodriguez, Yankees

Unless the persistent rumors of his entanglement with Madonna AND the non-existent rumors that Kabbalah is a baby-eating cult are both true, A-Rod goes in five years after his retirement. Which should give him plenty time to write and hone an acceptance speech completely devoid of emotion or passion. Look, there’s not much else to say here. He’s amazing at everything on the baseball field, and pretty disastrous at anything else. None of that really says “Movie Star” to me, but I guess A-Rod and William Morris disagree. I do, however, wonder what his career looks like if (a) he stays in Arlington (or Seattle), (b) he stays at SS or (c) some combination thereof.

Understudy: David Wright, Mets. Let’s keep this in the Big Apple, like ESPN baseball coverage. I would have said Miguel Cabrera a few months ago, even knowing that he would eventually move off the hot corner. Happened faster than I assumed, so now I’m stuck with some undesirable choices at third. People talk about how deep and young the third baseman position is. This might be true, if we are talking about above average players and future stars. But there are scant few superstars out of all those players. Ryan Zimmerman and Alex Gordon look farther off than most people assumed. Neither Cabrera nor Braun could handle the position. Adrian Beltre is better than most people think, but a whole lot worse than his one superstar season suggests. Similar story with Atkins. Chavez, Mora, and Lowell are aging or done, and were probably never at the superstar level in any event. Rolen and Glaus were traded for each other, but that’s about the most interesting thing that either has done in a few years. So mostly I am left with Wright, Aramis Ramirez and Larry Wayne Jones. Chipper goes into the Hall if he has even one or two more average seasons, but is too old to qualify as an “understudy.” Ramirez has steadily improved as a defender (nearly impossible not to given where he started), but he hasn’t put up steady Hall-worthy offensive numbers. So, I take Wright because he has a greater chance to win an MVP award or two before his time is done. Of course, he might have lost that chance last year, through no fault of his own.

By the way, please feel free not to bombard the comments section with Longoria love. He has, at the writing of this sentence, fewer than 500 PAs in the Majors.

SS – Derek Jesus, Yankees

What’s that you say? He can’t get to 20% of the balls he’s supposed to? His slugging has fallen steadily over the past 2-3 years and he no longer steals quite as many bases quite as efficiently? Lest you forget, he singlehandedly willed the Yankees to championship after championship. Don’t be jealous.

While the NY players don’t generally have an advantage in the MVP voting due to regional distribution of votes, they do have a large advantage in Hall of Fame voting, where no such distribution need be worried about. Cap’n Jetes will retire with over 3,000 hits (perhaps well over), and that “aura of a champion.” He is approximately 107% likely to get in. I’m not even sure baby-eating could keep him out.

Understudy – 3/5ths of the NL East. Sorry, Yunel and Cristian, not you. I really don’t know who to pick here. I love Hanley Ramirez more than my unborn children, but he’s probably not long for the position. Rollins has an MVP award (by the way, I assume you all know I keep pointing this out not because I believe the MVP voting makes sense or is a valid judge of worth, but because it matters to HOF votes….if not, you do me a great disservice, sir, and I challenge you to a duel), and a longer record of success than his two younger competitors. Jose Reyes plays in NY, and can compellingly be argued to be better than Jeter was at his age. No, really, Joel Sheehan did it a few days ago at Baseball Prospectus, and I highly recommend it. Forced, I think that Hanley has a greater chance for Hall enshrinement, probably as a Chicago Cub CF (who else is looking forward to the Mark Cuban era!?!?!?!), and that Reyes has the best chance as a SS. He better adjust what old dudes think about his attitude first, though. That could hurt him in the long run.

LF – Manny Ramirez, Red Sox Dodgers

I refuse to write anything more about him, other than “He is an all-time great hitter of baseballs.”

Understudy – Matt Holliday, Rockies. This is the pick most likely to look ridiculous. If he leaves Coors, all bets are off. He’s basically Ellis Burks with knees. Hell, Ellis Burks is probably better than he is. Still, if he stays, he will get at least 2-3 more MVP-type seasons, and make it somewhat hard to ignore the overall numbers, which could potentially be better than Helton’s. I don’t know who else to put here, though. Braun could make things interesting (he very superficially reminds me of Manny when Manny was young), I guess. Left field seems more and more to be where power-hitting infielders go to hide.

CF – Ken Griffey, Jr., Reds Medias Blancas de Chicago

The third and final future Famer to change teams at the deadline, Griffey is the surest bet on the board. Already wrongly considered by most to be the best player of his generation, he got a huge lift from the steroid scandal, and the completely haphazard pall cast over the sport’s non-Griffey superheroes. Then again, without the myriad injuries, he might be staring down 700 homers and he was genuinely great. In case you were wondering what the difference between a scowl and a smile is, compare Griffey’s numbers to Barry Bonds’ and then compare Griffey’s 100% likelihood to Bonds’ something significantly less than that. The big “S” has a lot to do with it….but why does everyone assume Griffey is as innocent as they assume Bonds is guilty? Steroids, in addition to allowing for quick recovery times, can also break down connective tissue and weaken various parts of the body, like, say…ummm….hamstrings…..just for instance. I don’t think Griffey did steroids, personally (I think most of his injuries are karma for forcing the Cincinnati trade, mostly because I have issues), but I don’t see why it’s so cut and dry. Oh well.

Understudy – Grady Sizemore, Indians. He’s still very young and he’s staring 40/40 down. He’s won a Gold Glove, and will surely see a few more just given voters’ prejudices for past winners. He also happens to be a good-looking boy who has his own cheering section of Midwestern ladies. So even if his ceiling comes up just short of the Hall, at least he has something to fall back on. He’s not hurting is all I’m saying.

RF – Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners

As noted above, RF is sort of a disaster. I placed Ichiro here, and Griffey at CF, which would have needed explanation a month ago, since they were at each other’s position, but now all has returned to normal. Disaster averted. Ichiro is a weird case, and without many valid comparisons. Notorious for being PECOTA-proof due to his singular playing style, I think he’s equally hard to accurately capture in discussions about the Hall. He already has 3000 career hits given his time in Japan, and he shows only small signs of slowdown. Even hitting only .300 for a few more years will put him within sniffing distance of 2500 hits here (mostly because he gets 650+ABs a year), and his runs and steals numbers will be very impressive. Combine that with 7 consecutive Gold Gloves (so far), his MVP/ROY season and his impact on the internationalization of the game (which will probably be even more clear and wide-ranging by the time he comes up for a vote), and I think he’s nearly a lock. Interesting tidbit to put into perspective how long it takes to build up career Hall of Fame numbers: Ichiro has led the league in singles every year he has been in the league, but is only 16th among active players in that category. He is 35th among active players in hits, despite being in the top three in every season of his career. In the latter category, he is behind Ray Durham, Jason Kendall (who is the same age and 300 hits ahead) and Mark Grudzielanek. Omar Vizquel is in the top 3 of both categories.

Understudy: Basically a pass if Vlad is too old to be an understudy. Otherwise, Vlad.


Two sort of obvious/interesting notes:

1.) The younger team would crush the older team over an extended series, even cheating to give the older team the two best hitters in the league, and in spite of the understudy problems at the outfield corners. The differences up the middle are gigantic at this moment, even though it’s those very spots where the understudies are farthest from the Hall.

2.) The older Hall of Famers are overwhelmingly American Leaguers, the younger are National Leaguers, and largely Liga Nacional Easters. I don’t buy that this means the Liga Nacional will eventually turn around the domination, because I have this crazy feeling that some of these guys will move teams and leagues once the big paychecks come calling.

* As is the general question of how often the best players in the game are in the discussed age range. That might take me a while, so please feel free to not hold your breath for it.

** Whatever definition of “current player” that includes everyone who isn’t dead, retired, Roger Clemens, Rickey Henderson or Barry Bonds.

*** Without looking, could you tell me that Jeff Kent was in MLB’s top 100 all-time in Slugging, Total Bases, Doubles, Home Runs, RBI, Extra Base Hits, Run Created and Hit By Pitches? And in most cases, it’s well within the top 70. WITHOUT REGARD TO POSITION. That’s worth a lot of groundballs through the middle, though Derek Lowe might disagree at this point. Kent is unique enough that no player rates more than an 887 on the similarity scale, and even then it’s 4 HOF catchers (presuming as I do above that Pudge gets in and Berra, Fisk and Bench don’t get kicked out), Jim Rice, Ron Santo, Ryne Sandberg and Ted Simmons. In other words, eight guys who should be in the Hall, will be in the Hall, or are in the Hall, only one of whom plays the same position."

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