This morning, I woke up to a couple notifications about a Jon Heyman article. Turns out he was railing against “one site out there” and its opinions about the Hall of Fame cases of certain players.
There’s one site out there that has a scale that gives Rick Reuschel a 136 and Jack Morris a 76. The same scale gives Lou Whitaker a 145 to 78 for Don Mattingly. It gives Bobby Grich a 140 and Steve Garvey a 61.
Reuschel, Grich and Whitaker were all excellent players worth considering. But what kind of scale would suggest they are twice the players of Morris, Mattingly and Garvey? No scale I’d ever want to use, that’s for sure.
In case you couldn’t guess it, that “one site” is the Hall of Stats (since Jon cited each player’s Hall Rating).
If you’re wondering where on the site I suggest “[Reuschel, Whitaker, and Mattingly] are twice the players of Morris, Mattingly and Garvey” the answer is… nowhere. In fact, on the About page, I explicitly say:
Should numbers be the only arbiter of who gets into Cooperstown? Certainly not. The Hall of Stats is merely meant to serve as a conversation starter. That objective starting point is one thing that’s sorely lacking in the Hall of Fame voting process today.
I’d like to think that makes me a reasonable person rather than some monster who blindly follows WAR values, but whatever.
Let’s talk about my craaaaaazy opinions about Reuschel, Whitaker, and Grich being better than Morris, Mattingly, and Garvey. While those players aren’t great comparisons, I’ll continue the conversation.
Reuschel vs. Morris
- Jack Morris threw 3,824 innings
- In those innings he allowed 1,815 runs
- Jack Morris allowed 4.27 runs per nine innings
You’re following me, right? I’m trying to keep this simple.
- Rick Reuschel threw 3548 innings
- In those innings he allowed 1,494 runs
- Rick Reuschel allowed 3.79 runs per nine innings
After looking at that, I feel like the burden of proof should be on the Morris supporter to describe how he was better.
Should we look solely at runs allowed? Of course not—the pitcher and the defense are the ones who surrender the runs. Baseball-Reference’s WAR estimates that the defense behind Reuschel cost him 0.18 runs per game. Morris’ defense saved him 0.18 runs per game. Who did Morris have behind him? Well, it was Alan Trammell. Lou Whitaker. Chet Lemon. All members of the Hall of Stats. I’m not comfortable with giving Jack Morris credit for all of the work of the strong defense behind him.
But the thing is, it doesn’t matter! Reuschel still allowed far fewer runs before we factor in the defenses!
If you’d like to read more about Big Daddy, I wrote about him at High Heat Stats back in 2013.
Whitaker vs. Mattingly
This one’s harder because they are not good comps for each other. One is a Gold Glove first baseman while the other is a Gold Glove second baseman. This is interesting though:
- Whitaker had 2,369 hits and 244 home runs
- Mattingly had 2,153 hits and 222 home runs
Yes—Mattingly had a shorter career. But that also speaks to Whitaker’s longevity, doesn’t it? I’ll tell you right now that Mattingly was a better hitter than Whitaker. But it was closer than you might think and Whitaker’s longevity helps close the gap. In fact, per Baseball-Reference’s Rbat, Mattingly edges Whitaker 227 runs to 209.
Plus—Whitaker was a middle infielder, not a first baseman!
As I said in my recent conversation with Graham Womack about the ballot, I wouldn’t mind at all if Mattingly was inducted. I just think that Mattingly’s 15 years on the BBWAA ballot and appearance on this ballot should mean that Whitaker deserves the same treatment.
Grich vs. Garvey
Also terrible comps here. Again, we have a second baseman vs. a first baseman. But get this:
- Grich had a .794 OPS when the league had a .707 OPS
- Garvey had a .775 OPS when the league had a .712 OPS
Bobby Grich was a better hitter than Steve Garvey. Yes, Garvey was a 200-hit guy all the time, but that˝s how his batting value presented aesthetically. Grich provided the same value—if not more—but just did it differently.
How about defense? Well, Grich was a second baseman so right away he gets some points there. They were both great fielders and earned four Gold Gloves each. Given Grich’s position, the advantage again goes to him.
I don’t think I’m getting too saber-statty here, either. Things just look a lot different when you ignore players’ reputations and just look at what they actually did on the field over the course of their careers. My main goal for this site is to take a look at the players with surprisingly high Hall Ratings and ask why it is that high. Don’t just dismiss them immediately. You’d be amazed what you might see.