Over at BP today, Jay Jaffe has a fantastic piece up on this year's crop of HOF-eligible outfielders, which takes a very thorough and nuanced look at the cases for induction for Bernie Williams, Dale Murphy, Larry Walker, and Juan Gonzalez ... I strongly recommend that you find some means through which you can read the entire piece if this topic at all interests you, but here, in the meantime, is part of Jay's big finish on Bernie:
As strong as his prime was, Williams’ career and peak WARP totals are well off the standards for Hall of Fame center fielders, largely because he was done as an effective player at age 33; he totaled 2.6 WARP on .263/.346/.412 hitting over his final four seasons, and never embraced the types of roles—backing up first base and pinch-hitting—that can keep an aging player around long past his prime. Not helping matters is the fact that the standard at center field is the highest of any position by a good 3.3 points, even with the positional adjustments I've introduced this year. Williams’ JAWS score ranks 18th among center fielders, with several players who aren't in the Hall of Fame outranking him.
As a candidate, Williams does have more than just WARP going for him. His .275/.371/.480 line in 545 post-season plate appearances essentially approximated his career line against tougher competition; on the leaderboard, he ranks second in PA, runs, hits, doubles, total bases, and homers—behind Jeter in all but the latter category, where he trails Manny Ramirez—and leads in RBI. On the other hand, his Hall of Fame Monitor score is hardly off the charts even while crediting him for being an up-the-middle starter on pennant-winning teams. He never really made a dent in the MVP voting. Ultimately, he just doesn't have quite enough to justify a vote. He doesn't appear likely to be more than one-and-done on the ballot, given that he has just one vote from among the first 53 published ballots.
That single vote for Bernie is locally relevant inasmuch as it belongs to Evan Grant, whose ballot reportedly includes Bernie, Barry Larkin, Jack Morris, Lee Smith, and Alan Trammell. I do like the Trammell pick a lot, and I'm glad to see serious consideration being lent in his direction, but ... well, there's a legitimate quibble to be had with virtually every ballot, and I'm actually approaching the point of burnout over carping about HOF ballots, so I'm not going to go too much further here. I'm not going to pretend to get including Bernie but not Jeff Bagwell, though.
There's also Jay's big finish on Juando, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone:
While the PED connections don't help Gonzalez's cause, the reality is that even if he were completely clean, he wouldn't have the numbers for Cooperstown. For one thing, he's below the magic 2,000-hit line, below which the BBWAA hasn't elected a single player whose career took place following 1961 expansion. He's nowhere near the JAWS standard, and despite a spiffy brochure, is nearly certain to fall off the ballot after receiving just 5.2 percent of the vote last year.
For the record, Gonzalez has garnered two HOF votes -- one from Chris Ellsberry of the Connecticut Post, and one from T.R. Sullivan. Sullivan's ballot is (in my opinion at least) very, very good, which is counteracted by Ellsberry including several quite borderline guys in Gonzalez, Jack Morris, and Lee Smith, but not Bagwell. A true PED witch-hunter wouldn't include Gonzalez on his ballot, so that can't be part of his reasoning for excluding Bagwell. Maybe he just hates that stupid squatty stance he used to employ?