Rating the 2008 Hall Candidates by Win Shares
Big Mac: Closer, but no cigar
Big Mac: Closer, but no cigar

Posted Nov 29, 2007


Using Bill James’ Win Shares to help predict the 2008 Baseball Hall of Fame inductees. Mark McGwire is expected to improve his results, but still fall short.

One of the first items of business in baseball each year is the announcement of players elected to the Hall of Fame. This leads to lots of speculation and a little analysis prior to the announcement which is scheduled for January 8, 2008.

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”.

The 2008 class of Hall of Fame candidates is not a strong one. It consists of 14 holdovers and 11 players eligible for the first time. Six holdovers have over 300 Win Shares, Mark McGwire with 342, Andre Dawson, 340, Bert Blyleven, 339, Dave Parker, 327, Alan Trammell 318 and Harold Baines with 307. The only newcomer on the list with over 300 Win Shares is Tim Raines with 390. No others are even close. In 2007, Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn were easily elected and the only other 2007 newcomers with enough votes to remain on the ballot were McGwire (23.5%) and Baines, who barely scraped by with 5.3%.

With Ripken, Gwynn and McGwire appearing on the ballot for the first time in 2007, all but three of the 15 holdovers lost votes from 2006. The only gainers were Goose Gossage, Jim Rice and Dave Concepcion. Gossage gained 52 votes to reach 71.2% of the ballots cast and is now in position for probable election in 2008. Rice gained 9 votes but his percentage dropped from 64.8% to 63.5% because more ballots were cast. He is within striking district of election. Concepcion also gained 9 votes but is only at 13.6%. The only other player who received more than 50% of the votes in 2007 was Andre Dawson with 56.7% but he lost some momentum in 2007 when his vote total dropped by 8.

Mark McGwire is a special case. He 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 is likely to gain some votes over the 23.5% he received last year but will still fall far short. He may make it eventually but not this year.

In the 2008 class, Raines is the only candidate with even a remote chance. However, it is likely that many voters will not consider him to be worthy of election on the first ballot. It is possible, if not likely, that all of the other newcomers will fail to receive the 5% necessary to remain on the ballot next year.

Following is a list of Win Shares for the 25 players on the ballot. Players on the ballot for the first time are shown in bold. 2006 and 2007 voting is shown for the holdovers.

 

Win

2006

2006

2007

2007

Player

Shares

Votes

Percent

Votes 

Percent

Tim Raines

390

 

 

 

 

Mark McGwire

342

 

 

128

23.5

Andre Dawson

340

317

61

309

56.7

Bert Blyleven

339

277

53.3

260

47.7

Dave Parker

327

76

14.4

62

11.4

Alan Trammell

318

92

17.7

73

13.4

Harold Baines

307

 

 

29

5.3

Dale Murphy

294

56

10.8

50

9.2

Tommy John

289

154

29.6

125

22.9

Jim Rice

282

337

64.8

346

63.5

Dave Concepcion

269

65

12.5

74

13.6

Don Mattingly

263

64

12.3

54

9.9

Chuck Knoblauch

229

 

 

 

 

Jack Morris

225

214

41.2

202

37.1

Goose Gossage

223

336

64.6

388

71.2

Dave Justice

222

 

 

 

 

Brady Anderson

214

 

 

 

 

Chuck Finley

204

 

 

 

 

Lee Smith

198

234

45

217

39.8

Travis Fryman

192

 

 

 

 

Shawon Dunston

151

 

 

 

 

Jose Rijo

130

 

 

 

 

Todd Stottlemyre

115

 

 

 

 

Robb Nen

105

 

 

 

 

Rod Beck

99

 

 

 

The last 12 players elected by the Baseball Writers have averaged 354 Win Shares, a figure exceeded by only Raines on the ballot this year.

Player

Year

Win Shares

Dave Winfield

2001

415

Kirby Puckett

2001

281

Ozzie Smith

2002

325

Gary Carter

2003

337

Eddie Murray

2003

437

Paul Molitor

2004

414

Dennis Eckersley

2004

301

Wade Boggs

2005

394

Ryne Sandberg

2005

346

Bruce Sutter

2006

168

Cal Ripken

2007

427

Tony Gwynn

2007

398

 

 

 

Average

 

354

Conclusions:

1. Goose Gossage will be elected to the Hall of Fame by the BWAAA in 2008.

2. Mark McGwire will not come close but will remain on the ballot and could get elected in the future. He is the only eligible player with over 500 home runs not in the Hall.

3. Tim Raines will be the only newcomer on the list to receive enough votes to remain on the ballot but he will not be elected in 2008.

4. BBWAA voters typically average voting for about five candidates on their ballots. With the lack of attractive new candidates on the ballot, the most qualified holdovers are certain to pick up more votes. In addition to Gossage, Rice, Blyleven and Dawson could achieve significant gains, but only Rice has a realistic chance of election in 2008.

5. There will not be a groundswell of support for Shawon Dunston and Rod Beck.

If I had a ballot, I would cast votes for Raines, Blyleven, Gossage and Trammell. If I were on the Veterans Committee, I would vote for Gil Hodges, Ron Santo and Minnie Minoso.



Bill Gilbert is a baseball analyst and writer and member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).


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