Why Nick doesn’t like Roger Clemens
Nick: That brings me to Clemens, whom I left off of my ballot after much difficulty. He’s clearly one of the best pitchers ever, and I’ve seen very smart people argue he’s the best ever. It’s not just that he did steroids, which I’ve addressed above, but also the fact that he apparently had an adulterous relationship with a 15-year old girl, his absolute legendary horrible treatment of every fan or other human being he interacted with (Bonds was rude to reporters and was really arrogant, but he didn’t ruin anyone’s lives as far as I know, his weird Piazza thing, deliberately seeking out an uninvited opportunity to speak to Congress and then lying to them (he only got off on the charges for perjury because the AUSA made a comically egregious error that a law student wouldn’t make)….
I don’t know. I really don’t like Clemens. Maybe I’m a hypocrite. I think I’d put him in if there weren’t other players that I think are deserving objectively on the field who weren’t subhuman monsters as far as I can tell.
James: How much of a role should burning hatred play? I appreciate your points about Clemens, and it would be interesting if the Hall of Fame wanted to have some more consistent stance about behavior. But if we say that persecuting steroid users opens up a can of worms with amphetamines, what happens when you enforce a morality clause on a institution that has Ty Cobb in it?
Matt: I try to not go with the hate thing. Roger Clemens is a [expletive]-ing [expletive]. I hate him. Barry Bonds is a [expletive]-ing [expletive]. I love him. So you see this creates issues.
Kevin: Why did I elect Sosa and not McGwire? Well, for one, Sammy had a greater length of sustained success than McGwire. Sosa also had more career HR than McGwire. Sammy hit 30+ HR for 10 straight years. He also had a higher career BA by 10 points.
Rafael Palmiero, in my opinion, was already one of the best pure hitters in baseball before the steroids period was rampant. He has one of the smoothest swings I’ve ever seen. Very impressive career BA and OBP to go with all the HR and RBI.
Lee Smith has the third most saves of all-time and the most K’s among all the saves leaders who weren’t starting pitchers during their careers.
Matt: Sosa being greater than McGwire I have trouble with. Sammy’s effective years are pretty concentrated. I think most of the other differences in our ballots come from differences in philosophies.
Nick: The worst thing about steroids is that Sosa gets lumped in with Bonds, McGwire, Clemens, etc. etc. in conversations because he hit a lot of home runs and did steroids. Sammy Sosa isn’t anywhere close to the class of player as those guys.
McGwire’s rate stats are: .263/.394/.588
Those really aren’t particularly close, especially considering that Sosa was playing in Wrigley for the bulk of his career. McGwire’s career OPS+ comes out to 163 to Sosa’s 128.
Nick: Kevin is the first to put Lee Smith on there, which raises a whole other conversation about the value of a Save and Relief Pitchers and how to evaluate them for the Hall.
Matt: Yeah we should converse on that because I’m sure we all have thoughts on why we left certain guys off. Be it a reliever, Jack Morris, or you dirty SOBs and your Royce Clayton hate.
Nick: Maybe break it down into players – although I don’t know that we need to be discussing Jeff Conine.
Hell, I think you could make a case for Bernie Williams that isn’t just “RINGS”
Matt: Royce Clayton went on to be a star of the big screen. So he’s a mother[expletive] hall of famer.
James: Jose Mesa blew many of the most important saves in baseball history. I want my grandkids to know about him.
Isn’t Bernie’s defense rather universally reviled?
Matt: Plays a mean guitar: mother[expletive] hall of famer.
James: Plays more of a classical, elegant guitar than a mean one. I mean, let’s see some damn shredding, Bernie.
My 1st grade teacher totally wanted to make it with Lee Smith, for what it’s worth. But I lean toward the Will Ohman “We’re all just failed starters” principle when thinking on relievers, so I really need to be wowed by the work of someone who needed to work in short stints to be effective. I would like to see heavy workloads, longevity, and sustained dominance. Smith spent a few seasons working over 100 innings, and spent a few innings as a dominant strikeout guy. His career ERA was dragged over 3.00 when offense exploded in the early 90’s. Besides an unimpressive walk rate, there’s nothing about him that stands out as “Aha! He sucks”, but there’s 15 guys at least on this ballot I’m putting in before I start thinking about relievers.
*years, not innings. Only a few innings as a dominant strikeout guy would be Zack Stewart-ish
Nick: I think 3/4 of us had Larry Walker. Kevin! Why isn’t this glorious former Expo a Hall of Famer in your eyes?
Kevin: I actually checked off Walker, but when looking at his career stats as a whole, they just didn’t “WOW” me outside the average (which was big). He’s the one I had the toughest call with.
I probably value BA and OBP more than most, and devalue HR’s more than most.
Nick: I appreciate that you say you look more at AVG/OBP than just home runs, which I think is important – however, I wonder if you are giving short shrift to slugging percentage in that equation. Just as you say that home runs aren’t the only thing a player can do, slugging also captures the guy who hit a million doubles.
After all, Wade Boggs is one of the best hitters ever and he certainly wasn’t a home run guy.
James: Holy crap, how much of this do I use in a post?
Nick: Release it in parts! Milk it for articles!
James: Holeee crap that’s (cynically) brilliant!