The Numbers Behind the 2018 Hall of Fame Inductees
Four former Major League greats were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, and historically speaking, it's a large group.
Last year, three players made the Hall, and there have been at least three new members inducted every year since 2014, except for 2016, when there were two. And in the prior 10 ballots, 16 players were inducted into the Hall of Fame, so the doors of the Hall have been swung open a bit. It's certainly a far cry from 2013, when no players were deemed worthy of enshrinement.
This year, Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman all received more than the required 75% of the vote by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Edgar Martinez finished 20 votes shy (he'll likely get in next year), and Mike Mussina was named on 63.5% of the ballots, so his chances for 2019 look pretty good, too.
Players closely linked to baseball's steroid era, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, both inched closer to induction, although each still has some ground to cover, with Clemens at 57.3% and Bonds at 56.4%.
As for the four guys who did get enough votes, what made them so worthy? All four players have compelling statistical reasons that made their enshrinements fairly easy calls for the writers.
Jones led all players with 97.2% of the vote in his first year on the ballot, and for good reason.
He tallied 2,726 hits, hit 468 homers, went to 8 All-Star games at third base and won a National League MVP award. His 468 dingers are third-most all time among switch-hitters, behind Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray. Here is where he ranks all-time among third basemen in some key categories.
|On-Base Plus Slugging (OPS)||.930||1st|
Yes, Jones had a better career slugging percentage than Mike Schmidt (.529 to .527) despite hitting 80 fewer homers. Among those at the hot corner, only Wade Boggs (.415) had a better on-base percentage, and only Schmidt (548) and Eddie Matthews (512) had more career dingers than Chipper. And then there is this.
Chipper Jones is the only switch hitter to:
-Post a .300/.400/.500 career line
-Have 2,500+ Hs, 1,500+ BBs, and 400+ HRs in his career
-Break even 40 WAR at 3B, a number he doubled
— Baseball Reference (@baseball_ref) January 24, 2018
So yeah, Jones is a first-ballot Hall of Famer for a reason.
Guerrero was named on 92.2% of the ballots, the second-highest total among the four, in his second year on the ballot. The long-time Montreal Expos and Los Angeles Angels outfielder played 16 seasons, totaled 449 homers and 477 doubles, drove in 1,496 runs and finished with a career slash line of .318/.379/.553. In his penultimate season, he hit .300/.345/.496 as a 35-year-old with the Texas Rangers, made the All-Star team, won a Silver Slugger award and finished 11th in the American League MVP voting. That may be as impressive as the 2004 AL MVP award he won with the Angels.
.@VladGuerrero27 is one of just three @baseballhall players with multiple 30/30 seasons (Jeff Bagwell, Willie Mays). #HOF2018 pic.twitter.com/rNfS7rmZha
— MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) January 24, 2018
Among MLB outfielders, Vlad's 449 career dingers rank 16th all-time while his .931 OPS is 15th. Among outfielders with at least 2,000 career plate appearances, his 140 OPS+ is 31st. He had the 25th-best slugging percentage (.553) of any player in any position, and he was one of the best bad-ball hitters in MLB history.
From 2008 to 2012 Vladimir Guerrero had 224 base hits on pitches out of the zone... Including one that almost hit the ground pic.twitter.com/vWjTkPW4i8
— Daren Willman (@darenw) January 25, 2018
It is interesting that he finished with a career bWAR of 59.3, which is less than non-Hall of Famers Bobby Abreu (59.9), Jim Edmonds (60.3), Andruw Jones (62.8), and Kenny Lofton (68.2). And while Larry Walker, Vlad's former teammate, will remain on the ballot after receiving 34.1% support, it is interesting to compare their statistics side-by-side.
This is not an argument against Vlad, but it's more an argument that Walker deserves a spot in Cooperstown one day, too.
Thome has never been a player who needed a lot of nuance to describe his game. When he hit taters, something only seven players in the history of the game have done more often than him, they rarely were wall-scrapers. He was a living, breathing homer factory who also specialized in getting on base and hitting in the clutch.
And now, in his first year on the ballot, he's in with 89.8% of the vote.
Thome's 612 home runs are 8th all-time, his 1,699 RBIs are 26th, his .554 career slugging percentage is tied for 22nd, and he's 9th in career isolated power (.278). He played 22 seasons and batted .276/.402/.554 with a career OPS+ of 147 and 72.9 bWAR, which ranks 8th-most among players who played at least half their games at first base and designated hitter.
Love these notes on Jim Thome from @MLBNetwork’s fabulous research department: Thome had higher OBP than Rickey Henderson. Hit home runs at rate eclipsed only by Bonds, Ruth, McGwire. Hit exactly as many postseason homers as Ortiz in 102 fewer plate appearances. Hall of Famer!
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 24, 2018
Thome's 13.76 homers per at-bat is the fifth-best mark all-time, trailing Giancarlo Stanton (13.40), Bonds (12.92), Babe Ruth (11.76) and Mark McGwire (10.61). In 2,543 games played, he never went 30 straight games without hitting a dinger, an incredible mark of consistency, and many of those blasts came with the game on the line, too.
Thome's 13 walk-off homers are the most in baseball history.
One can argue whether relief pitchers, players who only factor into a certain number of games and pitch only a handful of important innings during a season, deserve Hall of Fame recognition. But as long as the position of closer is still around, and as bullpen arms become more important in baseball, it makes sense for relief pitchers to have their days in the sun, too.
And if that's the case, Hoffman had to be a Hall of Famer, and he's the sixth relief pitcher to be inducted.
Hoffman's 601 saves are the second-most in baseball history, trailing only Mariano Rivera's 652. He was the first pitcher in MLB history to reach 500 and then 600 saves, and his 856 games finished are second-most all-time to Rivera, who will certainly be inducted into Cooperstown next year.
Hoffman finished in the top three in his league in saves nine times during his career, and while the "save" statistic is losing its luster in baseball, strikeout-to-walk ratio (K-BB%) is still highly valued. In that metric, no one was better than Hoffman, whose 18.8% K-BB% is the best all-time (Rivera's 17.4% was second).
Hoffman was one of the best closers in baseball history, and after receiving 74.9% of the vote last year, one-tenth of a percentage point short, he cleared the 75% hurdle easily this time around, nabbing 79.9% of the vote.