Many systems exist for evaluating player performance. One such system, the Win Shares method, developed by Bill James in 2002, is a complex method for evaluating players which includes all aspects of performance – offense, defense and pitching. James has stated that, "Historically, 400 Win Shares means absolute enshrinement in the Hall of Fame and 300 Win Shares makes a player more likely than not to be a Hall of Famer. However, future standards may be different. Players with 300-350 Win Shares in the past have generally gone into the Hall of Fame. In the future, they more often will not".
|First-timer Larry Walker expected to fall short, but receive enough votes to remain on the ballot|
In 2010, Andre Dawson was elected with 77.9% of the votes in his ninth appearance on the ballot. The 2010 ballot had a strong newcomer class and 4 of them, Alomar, Larkin, McGriff and Martinez received enough votes to remain on the ballot.
Most of the holdovers experienced an increase in votes in 2010. The most significant increases were by Bert Blyleven from 62.7% of the votes to 74.2% and Jack Morris from 44.0% to 52.3%. Tim Raines started to make a move in his third year on the ballot with an increase from 22.6% to 30.4% but he has a long way to go.
Mark McGwire has the numbers to be elected but remains tainted with the steroid cloud. Voters are likely to wait until more is known about the extent of steroid usage before giving McGwire a pass. He received only 23.7% of the vote in 2010 compared to 21.9% in 2009.
Several newcomers on the 2011 ballot should receive enough votes to remain on the ballot.
Following is a list of Win Shares for the 33 players on the ballot. Players on the ballot for the first time are shown in bold. Voting results for 2008, 2009 and 2010 are shown for the holdovers.
|B. J. Surhoff||231|
The last 16 players elected by the Baseball Writers have averaged 352 Win Shares, a figure exceeded by only Raines, Palmeiro, Alomar and Bagwell on the ballot this year.
Win Shares are fundamentally a quantitative measure of a player's accomplishments. A measure of the quality of a player's offensive performance is OPS+ which compares his OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging average) with the league average during his career. An OPS+ of 120 suggests that his performance is 20% better than that of a league average player. A similar approach (ERA+) can be used to compare a pitcher's ERA against the league average during his career.
Following is a rank order of OPS+ and ERA+ for the 33 candidates on the 2011 ballot:
The Win Shares system favors players with long productive careers like Raines, Palmeiro and Blyleven while OPS+ rewards strong offensive players who had shorter, more dominant careers like Martinez and Mattingly. ERA+ favors relief pitchers since their ERAs are generally lower because they are not charged with runs scored by inherited runners.
1. Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven will be elected in 2011.
2. Jeff Bagwell will lead the newcomers but will fall short of election on the first ballot. Barry Larkin will gain additional support to put him in position for election in a few years.
3. Mark McGwire will again not come close but should gain some ground and could get elected in the future. Rafael Palmeiro will probably follow the same path as McGwire.
4. Among other newcomers, Larry Walker, Palmeiro, and Kevin Brown should receive enough votes to remain on the ballot.
5. There will not be a groundswell of support for Kirk Rueter and Lenny Harris.
If I had a ballot, I would cast votes for Bagwell, Alomar, Larkin, Raines, Blyleven, McGwire and Trammell.
Bill Gilbert is a baseball analyst and writer and member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).