Welcome to the second of our three 2019 Hall of Fame Ballot Previews. Last week, I looked at the players who are returning to the 2019 HOF ballot. In this installment, we look at the newcomers to the ballot.
Of note: I’m only going to go into detail about players who I feel have a shot at election.
Mariano Rivera: Trevor Hoffman is in. Mariano Rivera was much better than Trevor Hoffman. You can fill out the rest of the equation.
Patrick’s guess: 98%
Roy Halladay: We already compared Halladay to Mussina, but evaluating Doc’s Hall of Fame candidacy is a bit tricky. Take a look at this comparison:
Halladay: 203-105, 131 ERA+, 64.3 WAR/50.6 WAR7, two Cy Young Awards, two runner ups, eight top five finishes
Johan Santana: 139-78, 136 ERA+, 51.6 WAR/45 WAR7 two Cy Young Awards, five top five finishes
There are some big differences: 64 wins and 12.7 WAR aren’t things to handwave away. Those extra finishes high up in the Cy voting will matter a lot. And while Halladay doesn’t have an extensive postseason resume, he had an iconic moment when he threw a no-hitter in the 2010 NLDS.
Still, Johan Santana didn’t just fail to get elected. He got one-and-doned by nearly the same group of voters who will be considering Halladay. The fact remains: it is very hard to get elected to the Hall of Fame with only 390 starts. There are just 28 pitchers in the Hall of Fame with that many starts or fewer. One was Satchel Paige, who is obviously not a good comparison. Ditto the half-dozen players with 200 saves or more.
Now that list has 21 names. Eight of them played in the 1800s, which we really can’t use as any basis for comparison. So now we’re down to 13 names. The most recent player to be elected with 390 starts or less was Sandy Koufax, whose career ended in 1966.
So Halladay has a really tough road ahead. Pedro Martinez got in with just 409 starts, but Halladay’s peak, as good as it was, simply doesn’t match up to Pedro’s.
My gut tells me that Halladay’s got a good shot nonetheless. He led the league in pitcher WAR four times and his WAR/WAR7’s aren’t so bad that you’d be reinventing the wheel. The postseason no-no will help. He might not get in right away, but he’ll start down a path.
Patrick’s guess: 65%
Andy Pettitte: Let me just get this out of the way: I have no clue, or desire, to try and figure out exactly how Andy Pettitte’s admitted HGH usage will factor into the minds of the voters. Figuring that out is a fool’s errand.
What I can do is analyze his numbers for what they are:
256-153, 117 ERA+, 60.7 WAR/34.1 WAR 7, 2,448 K, 0 Cys, 5 top five finishes
These are good numbers. They’re not slam dunk HOF worthy, but they’re certainly borderline, and when you factor in his postseason numbers (19-11, 5 rings) that’s going to help him. He’s got the whole “Core Four” narrative going for him as well.
My gut tells me that he’d probably get in, or be very close, if there were no HGH concerns. He’s not a great peak candidate (just three seasons in the Top 10 in WAR) but the career is borderline.
Patrick’s guess: 35%
Todd Helton: I’m not anti-Coors Field. I’m firmly of the belief that Larry Walker should be in the Hall of Fame. But it’s clear that a lot of voters have issues with it. I’m here to talk about the voters. So if you’re pro-Helton, don’t get mad at me for what I’m about to ask:
Why would someone who isn’t voting for Larry Walker vote for Todd Helton?
Walker: .313/.400/.565, 141 OPS+, 2,160 H, 383 HR, 1,311 RBI, 230 SB, 72.7 WAR/44.6 WAR 7, 7 GG, MVP
Helton: .316/.414/.539, 133 OPS+, 2,519 H, 369 HR, 1,406 RBI, 37 SB, 61.2 WAR/46.5 WAR 7, 3 GG
These numbers are really close. Walker’s edge in baserunning helps explain the WAR difference.
But the thing is, Walker accomplished some of these numbers outside of Colorado. He posted a .322/.394/.587 line his final season in Montreal, and even as a 38 year old in St. Louis, posted a combined line of .286/.387/.520.
His MVP award, earned in 1997 also shows that voters weren’t disregarding everything he did as being a product of Colorado. Helton, however, never finished better than fifth in the voting.
So I ask again: Why would someone who isn’t voting for Larry Walker vote for Todd Helton?
I can’t answer that question, so the only conclusion I can draw is that they won’t. And since Walker only earned 34.1% of the vote last year, even though I think he’ll move up more, there’s no way I can put Helton over him. The 34.1% was an increase from the 21.9% he had in 2017, and though he was +40 with returning voters, he did terribly with 1st-time voters (15.54%) so a conservative guess puts him at say, 45%.
That number, to me, is Helton’s ceiling. But since Helton’s not the candidate Walker is, I think Helton will do worse in the voting.
Patrick’s guess: 20%
Lance Berkman: A better candidate than you might think (52.1 WAR, 144 OPS+, .406 OBP, 366 HR, four top 5 MVP finishes) but he’s basically Fred McGriff in WAR (52.6) and McGriff has a huge edge in the traditional stats such as HR (493) and RBI (1,550). And since McGriff only got 23.2% of the vote last year, the question I posed in the Todd Helton section applies: Why would someone who isn’t voting for McGriff vote for Berkman?
Patrick’s guess: 10%
I don’t see anyone else getting a second ballot, so that will wrap up this post. (And in case you really want to know, Roy Oswalt is Johan without the CYs and 20 more wins. And we saw how being Johan worked)