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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Both Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley are Borderline Hall of Famers (right now)

Source:  Baseball Reference

I decided to use the "wins over replacement player" tables to figure out the top, say, 25 at each position.    The numbers are cumulative, so they reward longevity.  For example, if you played 20 years and rated three wins over a replacement player per season, your number is 60.  If you played 10 years and rated five wins over a replacement player per season, your number is 50.  So, longevity is rewarded.  I also like WARP because it neutralizes the hype that can surround players who were fortunate enough to play for championship teams and gives more of a boost to those who played for also rans.  That said, the number of seasons included below includes partial seasons, too, which leads me to conclude that WARP divided by number of seasons played might not be as helpful a metric as, say, WARP divided by number of games played.  That's enough of a digression.

You have to remember that the Hall of Fame has certain people who don't belong (read:  Rabbit Maranville and many of the old Giants and Cardinals who populate the Hall because their buddies were on the Veterans Committee and voted for their admission.  Among them could well be Casey Stengel and Ross Youngs)

So here are some numbers:

Shortstop (Hall of Famers -- to the best of my knowledge off the top of my head, in bold:

1.  Alex Rodriguez 116 (20 seasons).
2.  Cal Ripken, Jr. 95.5 (21 seasons).
3.  Robin Yount 77 (20 seasons) (he also played CF)
4.  Ozzie Smith 76.4 (19 seasons)
5.  Bobby Wallace 76.3 (25 seasons) (before 1900)
6.  Bill Dahlen 75.2 (21 seasons)
7.  Luke Appling 74.5 (20 seasons)
8.  Arky Vaughan 72.9 (14 seasons)
9.  Derek Jeter 71.5 (20 seasons)
10.  Alan Trammell 70.4 (20 seasons)
11.  Barry Larkin 70.2 (19 seasons)
12.  Joe Cronin 66.4 (20 seasons)
13.  Pee Wee Reese 66.3 (16 seasons)
14.  Monte Ward 64 (17 seasons (before 1900)
15.  Lou Boudreau 63 (15 seasons)
16.  Jack Glasscock 61.5 17 seasons) (before 1900)
17.  Luis Aparicio 55.8
18.  Joe Sewell 53.7 (14 seasons)
19.  Joe Tinker 53.2 (15 seasons)
20.  Bert Campaneris 53 (19 seasons)
21.  Jim Fregosi 48.7 (18 seasons)
22.  Dave Bancroft 48.5 (16 seasons)
23.  Miguel Tejada 47.1 (16 seasons)
24.  Art Fletcher 47.0 (13 seasons)
25.  Vern Stephens 45.4 (15 seasons)
26.  Tony Fernandez 45.1 (17 seasons)
27.  Roger Peckinpaugh 45.0 (17 seasons)
28.  Nomar Garciaparra 44.2 (14 seasons)
29.  Travis Jackson 44.0 (15 seasons)
30.  Jimmy Rollins 43.2 (15 seasons)

A-Rod will sit and wait and perhaps rot before he gets in.  Larkin just got in, Jeter will get in, and Trammell gets the short end of the stick.  He played for years besides Lou Whitaker, played for great teams and the numbers don't lie -- he's worthy of the Hall.   Right now, Rollins is pretty far off, but in the top 30 of all time.  If he can play 3-4 more seasons and have a total WARP of 14 during those seasons, he'll get up to 57.2, and ahead of Aparicio, Sewell and Tinker.  That will make him worthy of the discussion, but it's hard to see him getting in if Trammell doesn't.  To me, Travis Jackson and Maranville are anomalies, products of another era.  But if you argue for Rollins, how can you not argue for Garciaparra?  By no means is Rollins a lock now, and by no means is it a sure thing that he'll add 10-20 points of WARP over the course of the next four seasons.  He's a very good player, but perhaps not a Hall of Famer.

Now we'll look at second base:

1.  Rogers Hornsby 127.0 (23 seasons)
2.  Eddie Collins 123.9 (25 seasons)
3.  Nap Lajoie 107.4 (21 seasons)
4.  Joe Morgan 100.3 (21 seasons)
5.  Rod Carew 81 (19 seasons) (also played 1B)
6.  Charlie Gehringer 80.6 (19 seasons)
7.  Paul Molitor 75.4 (21 seasons) (also played DH)
8.  Lou Whitaker 74.9 (19 seasons)
9.  Bobby Grich 70.9 (17 seasons)
10.  Frank Frisch 70.4 (19 seasons)
11. Ryne Sandberg 67.5 (16 seasons)
12.  Roberto Alomar 66.8 (17 seasons)
13.  Willie Randolph 65.5 (18 seasons)
14.  Craig Biggio 65.1 (20 seasons)
15.  Jackie Robinson 61.5 (10 seasons)
16.  Chase Utley 59.8 (16 seasons)
17.  Joe Gordon 57.1 (11 seasons)
18.  Jeff Kent 55.2 (17 seasons)
19.  Billy Herman 57.7 (15 seasons)
20.  Bid McPhee 52.4 (18 seasons)
21.  Bobby Doerr 51.2 (14 seasons)
22.  Tony Lazzeri 49.9 (14 seasons)
23.  Johnny Evers 47.17 (18 seasons)
24.  Buddy Myer 46.9 (17 seasons)
25.  Robinson Cano 46.3 (10 seasons)
26.  Del Pratt 45.6 (13 seasons)
27.  Chuck Knoblauch 44.6 (12 seasons)
28.  Cupid Childs 44.3 (13 seasons)
29.  Julio Franco 43.4 (23 seasons).

What this tells you is that there probably is a more compelling case for Utley than there is for Rollins and that had Utley not missed about two seasons' worth of games his WARP right now might be about that of Willie Randolph's.  To me, Whitaker is a Hall of Famer, both for the quality of his play and for his legendary and long-lasting pairing with Trammell (a just baseball god would install them together).  Grich was a good player but never got talked about as a potential Hall of Famer (but then again, neither did Whitaker).  Randolph was a very good player, but he didn't have Utley's pop.  Biggio had 3,000 hits so probably should be a lock.  But those who argue for Kent (who was outstanding) might have difficulty if Utley isn't in the conversation.  And Robbie Cano looks like a lock.

That said, if Utley can play 3 more seasons and average a WARP of say 4.0 per year (by no means an easy feat), he'll end up at 67, and in the pack with Frisch, Sandberg and Alomar.  And that would be more likely to put him in the Hall than similar seasons from Rollins.

Are either of them Hall of Famers?  No, not yet.  Are both among the top 30 at their position of all-time?  Yes.  But being in the top 30 and making the Hall are two totally different things.  Both need strong finishes to their careers to warrant serious mention.

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