On the HOF bubble...

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On the HOF bubble...

Post by acnunnally » Sun Jan 19, 2020 9:09 am

The results of this cohort's Hall of Fame ballot will be interesting and undoubtedly engender a lot of the typical discussion about snubs, but, as things stand right now, pending final ballots, there are several players on the razor's edge with 71% -- painfully short of the 75% required for election. They are:

Rube Wilson, 1B, CIN/WAS/NYA (retired 2010)
ROY, 4 x AS, 9 x GG, +182 +/-, 340 HR, .812/.336/.476/.278

A very close Keith Hernandez comp but with more power. Interesting case.

Lowe Morgan, RF, CIN/KC/HOU/BOS (retired 2013)
5 x AS, 3 x GG, 370 HR, .885/.367/.518/.303

Comp to Jim Rice+ offensively -- but, unlike Rice, an outstanding (multi-GG) OF. His rate stats are substantially superior to HOFers from his -- or any -- era.

Hank Carleton, 3B, MIL/WAS (retired 2017)
9 x AS (6 starts), HR Title, 2 x RBI Title, 10 Consecutive 100+ RBI Seasons (4 x 120+), 411 HR, 1567 RBI, 231 SB, .780 OPS/.328 OBP/.453 SLG/.268 AVG

A 9-time All-Star who stood out at 3B in his time, Carleton comps fairly closely to Craig Nettles but with a bit more power.

Dutch Leonard, SP, BOS/KC (retired 2008)
CYA, 5 x AS, 3 x WSC, ERA LL, WHIP LL, 223-147 W-L, 2546 K, 3.13 ERA (18th All-Time), 1.17 WHIP (18th All-Time)

The CYA winner comps to Warren Spahn and Left Grove with a better strikeout rate but few wins. Need I say more?

Eddie Cicotte, SP, BOS/NYA (retired 2014)
CYA, ROY, 4 x AS, 2 x WSC, 4 x K LL, 231-183 W-L, 3287 K, 3.38 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 13 x 200 K, 3 x 20 W

Close comp is Bert Blyleven with fewer IP/W -- but WITH a CYA.

Harry Nolan, SP, CIN/HOU (retired 2015)
3 x CYA, 9 x AS (3 starts), WSC, 3 x W LL, 2 x WHIP LL, 1 x ERA Title, 5 x 20-Win Season, 8 x 200 K Season, 273 W (17th All-Time), 2989 K (31st All-Time), 3.18 ERA (23rd All-Time), 1.12 WHIP (6th All-Time)

This is Greg Maddux with a better strikeout rate and fewer -- but still a TON -- of wins, folks. He won 3 CYA!

Rawley Eastwick, SP/RP, WAS/NYA (retired 2017)
7 x AS (2 starts), 2 x WSC, 206-138 W-L, 191 Saves, 3.04 ERA (11th All-Time), 1.20 WHIP (32nd All-Time)

He is John Smoltz with a substantially better ERA. A unique case in reaching 206 wins but also with 191 saves (compare to Smoltz's 213 W and 154 S).
Last edited by acnunnally on Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: On the HOF bubble...

Post by LTJaeger » Sun Jan 19, 2020 5:45 pm

Let’s get a bit under control here. Dutch Leonard was a fine pitcher in our league, but he doesn’t remotely compare to Warren Spahn or Lefty Grove. Aside from the 363 and 300 wins of those guys, look at the black ink of Grove & Spahnie. Grove can be argued as the greatest pitcher of all time if you consider the offenses in the era in which he played.

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Re: On the HOF bubble...

Post by acnunnally » Mon Jan 20, 2020 12:36 am

Here are the career lines (bearing fully in mind we are comparing an imaginary pitcher to real-life HOFers), along with the average stat lines for inducted HOFers from the relevant era in each instance:


3.17 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, .728 K/IP, 223-147 (.603 W%), 3495 IP

Average CCL HOFer of Leonard's retirement decade

2.99 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, .766 K/IP, 253-138 (.647 W%), 3725 IP


3.06 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, .575 K/IP, 300-141 (.680 W%), 3940.2 IP

Average MLB HOFer of Grove's retirement decade

3.31 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, .470 K/IP, 238-156 (.612 W%), 3418 IP

Warren Spahn

3.09 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, .493 K/IP, 363-245 (.597 W%), 5243.2 IP

Average MLB HOFer of Spahn's retirement decade

3.08 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 0.602 K/IP, 260-182 (.598 W%), 3904 IP

Grove had a better than average ERA compared to HOFers of his era and a substantially better strikeout rate. He also had an other-worldly winning percentage, though that partly reflects the unbelievable Philadelphia A's teams he played for from 1927-1933 (average season of 25-8). Spahn was spot on the average for his HOF cohort in terms of ERA/WHIP, but he had a significantly worse strikeout rate. His huge win total derived from his longevity, which is obviously a significant value.

Leonard was admittedly slightly behind the average line for the four HOFers inducted from his decade YOR cohort, and your point is well taken that he does not stand out relative to his era to the degree Grove did. Your black ink argument is also probably a good one for Grove's and Spahn's comparative dominance, but not as a negative argument against Leonard since being ranked highly, but short of first, every year yields you no black ink but makes you a damn good pitcher.

Anyway, as you suggest indirectly, I was putting forward (in haste) a simple statistical comp, not one relative to other HOFers in my post above. A better measure yet would be how each player compared not just to other HOFers, but rather to all other pitchers of the era -- unfortunately, I don't have that data for CCL. Longevity notwithstanding, Leonard and Spahn are dead ringers except for Leonard's much better K rate.

All of this said, Leonard ranks 18th All-Time in ERA and WHIP -- AND compares more than well enough to HOFers of his era to gain admission from my perspective. He may not be Lefty Grove or Warren Spahn, but fortunately for most candidates, that is not the standard!

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Re: On the HOF bubble...

Post by LTJaeger » Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:40 pm

My HOFer votes:

Wilson No
Morgan yes
Carleton yes
Leonard no (close)
Cicotte yes (barely)
Nolan YES (absolutely!)
Eastwick yes

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Our Dutch Leonard vs. the real life Warren Spahn and Lefty Grove

Post by LTJaeger » Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:53 pm

I think of dominating seasonal performances more than lifetime ratios when I evaluate HOFers, and pitchers who pitch forever often see drastic decreases in K/9, H/9, E.R.A. etc. in their waning years vs. peak.

So let's factor in seasons leading the league in various categories.

Our Dutch Leonard was a fine pitcher (as previously mentioned). He once led the league in WHIP, and once in E.R.A. That's it. Never won 20 in a season (granted, wins are relatively meaningless in today's game, but no so in the past).

Meanwhile, Warren Spahn led the league in wins 8 times (5 consecutively), won 20 games. 13 times; led in ERA 3 times; led in CGs 9 times (7 in a row); in shutouts 4 times; IPs 4 times; K's 4 times in a row when he was younger; and WHIP 4 times. I don't think Leonard is even close to him, let alone being "a dead ringer" for Spahn.

Grove led in wins 4 times; E.R.A. a whopping 9 times; CGs 3 times; shutouts 3 times, saves once; K's 7 times in a row until he lost his fastball; WHIP 5 times, and ERA+ 9 times.

It's really not remotely close between these three guys.

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Re: On the HOF bubble...

Post by acnunnally » Tue Jan 21, 2020 7:46 am

Good thoughts. Again, I can't say that Leonard was exactly Warren Spahn for a lot of reasons, one of which is that Leonard is imaginary. And it's true that Leonard didn't have anywhere near as much black ink as Spahn. But my point there is that black ink is a positive indicator of dominance in an era, but lack of black ink is not a negative indicator of dominance. It all depends on who's around to compete for league lead with (not to mention that it's twice as hard to have black ink in CCL since you only get it if you lead both the NL and AL). For example, Grove was, hands down, the best pitcher of his era and racked up a ton of black ink as a result since he didn't overlap that much with the greatest of the greats (Dizzy Dean, Lefty Gomez, Carl Hubbell, Ted Lyons, and Red Ruffing were the SP HOFers that retired in the same decade).

Leonard pitched during the same era as Dylan Wickliffe (2.85 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 276-121, .695 W%, .728 K/IP) and Dick Ontiveros (2.83 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 276-154, .642 W%, .743 K/IP), two of the short, short list of the greatest pitchers in the history of the CCL, which made it a lot harder for Leonard to to get that black ink. Accordingly, the black ink argument, while positively demonstrating the era dominance of Grove and Spahn is not conclusive about a lack of dominance for Leonard, who happened to pitch in an era with two of the five greatest CCL pitchers ever.

Let's look at 10-year peaks between Leonard and Spahn...


1995 BOS 18-11, 252.2 IP, 189 K, 2.71 ERA, 1.13 WHIP
1996 BOS 14-6, 234.1, 164 K, 3.19 ERA, 1.18 WHIP
1997 BOS 18-12, 240 IP, 183 K, 3.45 ERA, 1.24 WHIP
1998 BOS 19-6, 259.2 IP, 176 K, 2.60 ERA, 1.07 WHIP
1999 BOS 17-11, 252.2 IP, 186 K, 2.49 ERA, 1.01 WHIP
2000 BOS 17-12, 244.1 IP, 183 K, 2.98 ERA, 1.09 WHIP
2001 BOS 14-9, 247.1 IP, 186 K, 2.69 ERA, 1.07 WHIP
2002 BOS 14-11, 222.1 IP, 162 K, 3.16 ERA, 1.11 WHIP
2003 BOS 19-4, 238.2 IP, 191 K, 2.79 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
2004 BOS 15-11, 246.1 IP, 194 K, 2.41 ERA, 1.16 WHIP
AVG 16.5-9.3, 244 IP, 181 K, 2.85 ERA, 1.11 WHIP


1950 BSN 21-17, 293 IP, 191 K, 3.16 ERA, 1.23 WHIP
1951 BSN 22-14, 310.2 IP, 164 K, 2.98 ERA, 1.25 WHIP
1952 BSN 14-19, 290 IP, 183 K, 2.98 ERA, 1.16 WHIP
1953 MLN 23-7, 265.2 IP, 148 K, 2.10 ERA, 1.06 WHIP
1954 MLN 21-12, 283.1 IP, 136 K, 3.14 ERA, 1.23 WHIP
1955 MLN 17-14, 245.2 IP, 110 K, 3.26 ERA, 1.28 WHIP
1956 MLN 20-11, 281.1 IP, 128 K, 2.78 ERA, 1.07 WHIP
1957 MLN 21-11, 271 IP, 111 K, 2.69 ERA, 1.18 WHIP
1958 MLN 22-11, 290 IP, 150 K, 3.07 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
1959 MLN 21-15, 292 IP, 143 K, 2.96 ERA, 1.21 WHIP
AVG 20.2-13.1, 282 IP, 146 K, 2.91 ERA, 1.18 WHIP

As you can see, Leonard had very similar but better ERA, better WHIP, and a much higher strikeout rate over the respective 10-year peaks than Spahn. Consistent with their respective eras, Spahn (1950-59) pitched more innings per season than Leonard (1995-2004). Accordingly, Spahn averaged 20.2 W to Leonard's 16.5 W, though Leonard had a significantly higher winning percentage (.640 vs. .607). Over their careers, I stand by my assertion that Leonard compares well to Spahn on a statistical basis. Spahn certainly has an advantage in longevity and collecting those 363 W along the way, but I don't buy into the argument -- at all, on any level -- that Spahn was a more dominant pitcher in his era. The available data simply do not support that argument.

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Re: On the HOF bubble...

Post by GM33 » Thu Jan 23, 2020 7:59 pm

Good discussion on Leonard. For what it’s worth, I voted for him this time around and think he should be in, but I think overlooked him previously.

On the offensive side, Morgan definitely has to get in right, with these periphs over 15 seasons?


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Re: On the HOF bubble...

Post by LTJaeger » Sat Jan 25, 2020 6:59 pm

I'm really missing your argument here. First, you agree that black ink is a great indicator of dominance. Then, we show the Spahn led the league FORTY-FIVE times in one positive category or another, and that Leonard led the league TWICE.

Then the conclusion is that Leonard "compares well to Spahn on a statistical level", driven in part by ignoring Spahn's 10 years of Spahn's 20 year run of outstanding performance, and essentially saying that Spahn only compares favorably by having greater longevity?

I understand the WHIP and ERA arguments, but I don't think that comes close to balancing out the rest of the issues. Saying that there were other great pitchers that compromised black ink during Leonard's peak, but ignoring that Spahn's peek overlapped that of Roberts, Shantz, Newcombe, Koufax, Drysdale, and Marichal, but STILL didn't stop him from collecting "black ink" needs to be included.

Again, Leonard was a FINE pitcher. But statistically, he wasn't on the same level as Spahn (or Grove). He just wasn't.

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Re: On the HOF bubble...

Post by acnunnally » Sun Jan 26, 2020 8:32 am

I think we may be having a semantic argument as much as anything here. Let me try to summarize:
  • I agree that overall, Spahn had a superior career to that of Leonard. My basis for this belief is that Spahn was an outstanding pitcher over a very long period of time. Spahn had 7 other full productive seasons at a high level (3 before/4 after his 10-year peak). Incredibly, he missed 3.5 years for WWII and still put up the counting stats he did!
  • My argument is that, if you put longevity aside, Spahn and Leonard are very closely matched from an overall rating standpoint. Now, obviously longevity with high quality matters, and I'm not saying it doesn't (see my first point above).
  • What I'm saying about black ink is that when you have lots of it, you clearly dominated in your era. But if you have less black ink, it does NOT mean you were not dominant -- or that you were less dominant in your era than another pitcher who had more black ink in another era. Unless the two pitchers in question pitched in the same era (or in this case in the same reality), you cannot answer the question of who was more the more dominant pitcher relative to the other based on black ink; rather, you can only answer who was the more dominant pitcher with respect to each respective pitcher's era competition. (The other point I will reiterate is that to earn black ink in SimD, you need to lead BOTH leagues, whereas real-world players get it for leading either league. When we look at black italics for leading the Majors, Spahn's impressive black ink is reduced by 1/3.)
  • In identifying the players you mentioned as contemporaries of Spahn, you have actually kind of proven my point. Several of them essentially only earned black ink AFTER Spahn did (Koufax, Marichal, Drysdale) by dominating over Spahn and others once Spahn fell from the top of the pyramid. The rest (Roberts, Newcombe, Shantz) were simply not the pitchers Spahn was overall (though Roberts accumulated a bunch of black italic ink over Spahn in that 10-year peak).
  • Since we can't compare one player to another from a different era head-to-head based on black ink, what we CAN do is compare the statistics of two pitchers from two different eras. We do this all the time. It's the old frame of reference for trying to decide who are the greatest players of all time and how they compare to one another. Now, this raw statistical comparison does not account for the background of the era, and, for this reason, we have come up with advanced metrics like WAR, ERA+, OPS+, etc. that are intended to measure how much value a given player adds above a baseline for the season in question, so players from different eras can be more fairly compared. But we don't have WAR or anything like it available for SimD.
  • Against the backdrop of the absence of WAR-like data, I have drawn a comparison between the 10-year peak statistics of Spahn and Leonard. When we make this comparison, we learn that Leonard had a better ERA, better WHIP, and substantially higher strikeout rate. Spahn did pitch about 38 innings more per season (282 vs. 244), but it's fair to conclude that Leonard was the more dominant pitcher when he was on the mound over the respective 10-year peaks since Leonard allowed fewer baserunners per inning and struck out way more batters per inning, all while allowing fewer earned runs per inning.
Again, I still think Spahn was a better pitcher overall than Leonard, but this is based much more on quality over greater longevity, and for a HEAD-TO-HEAD comparison (as opposed to an era-dominance comparison relative to other pitchers who randomly happened to be contemporary in their respective eras), I believe black ink needs to be discounted.

As one final aside on this comparative black ink stuff, I pulled the player cards for Dick Ontiveros and Dylan Wickliffe, who I identified as dominating contemporaries of Leonard who made it harder for him to earn black ink. Recall that Ontiveros and Wickliffe each finished their careers with 276 wins, ERAs between 2.83 and 2.86, and WHIPs between 1.06 and 1.09. Guess what? From 1995 to 2004 in CCL, Ontiveros had 18 (!) instances of black italic ink, and Wickliffe had only 2 (equal to Leonard). Would you say that Ontiveros is the much better pitcher than Wickliffe? (I note the Wickliffe's peak was slightly earlier than Ontiveros, and Wickliffe had a little black ink prior, though not nearly as much as Ontiveros, and the point holds.)

And a final thought on apples to apples comparisons, when we think about Leonard, probably the most meaningful comp he has is a guy from his own era (same 10-year peak exactly) who is already in the Hall of Fame: Jack Bashang. Check out their comparative career stats/accomplishments:


223-147, 3.13 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 2546 K, 3 Cy Young Awards, 3 World Series Championships


234-137, 3.13 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 2873 K, 4 Cy Young Awards, 0 World Series Championships

Bashang was unanimously inducted on the first ballot, so it's not like he was a close call. Do we really want to draw a line between these two all-time great starting pitchers with Leonard on the outside looking in?

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