Thursday, August 31, 2006
Giants v. Braves/Hall of Fame Rant
Today's lineup is thankfully sans Pedro Feliz, although Steve Finley is in the seventh hole, continuing to inexplicably get more playing time then he deserves. Finley's line stands at a robust .252/.320/.397. What's the definition of a no-brainer? Buying out Finley's 2007 option for $1 million instead of paying him $7million more to do this. The guy may have been awesome once upon a time, he may be in great shape for a 40-year-old, and Thom Brennaman may have an adolescent man-crush on him, but he's done. DONE. D-U-N. Continuing to waste at-bats on Finley while a guy like Linden languishes on the bench certainly doesn't help win games.
I recently had a debate with some friends about whether or not John Smoltz, Atlanta's starter tonight, is a Hall of Famer. My original opinion, based, in good ol' loony Joe Morgan fashion, on my goofy instincts, and completely unabetted by any research, statistics, or real facts, was that Smoltz was a borderline candidate destined to fall short based on his lack of durability, or something contrived like that. After my opinion was endlessly mocked, I decided to do some hardcore studying to see if Smoltz really stood up to HOF scrutiny (if only I'd shown this much initiative in school).
The results of my findings? Well, mocked I was and mocked I damn well should have been. Smoltz should be a shoo-in Hall of Famer, there's just no question. I don't know what the hell I was thinking. His career ERA is a sparkling 3.26 despite playing 2/3 of his career in years where offense was booming. His career ERA+ is 126 (100 is average). By comparison, Tom Glavine, an almost certain Cooperstown inductee who has had more praise lavished on his than Smoltz over his career, has an ERA+ of 120. He has 2,567 career strikeouts in 2,929 career innings. His career WHIP is 1.17 (again fantastic in the era in which he pitched). The most home runs Smoltz ever gave up in a season was 23. His 177 career wins don't look special but that's in part because he spent three years as a reliever and one and a half years (2000-2001) recovering from Tommy John surgery. And besides, wins are largely overrated anyway. The fact that he was a dominant closer for three years is just icing on the cake.
Unfortunately, just because a guy deserves to make the Hall of Fame doesn't mean he will. Smoltz is the type of pitcher whose greatness isn't as obvious to most people as that of a guy like Sandy Koufax or Roger Clemens. Because of this, Smoltz has one major obstacle to get by: the fact that the people who vote on the Hall of Fame are a bunch of tards. The ineptness of the Hall of Fame is no secret; Bill James wrote a book about it, for God's sake. Bert Blyleven, Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, and Ted Simmons are all guys who should be no-brainers, but they aren't even close. It took these morons almost a decade to vote Gary Carter, one of the five best catchers of all-time, in, and it even took a year for Ryne Sandberg, another shoo-in, to be voted in. Every year deserving candidates like these players sit at home while Bruce Sutter gets voted in. That's a crime, and it's probably safe to say that the BBWAA has no credibility anymore, if it ever did.
That's why Smoltz, for all of his greatness, may not make the cut. For those of us who can look past wins and losses and who understand the difference in eras, Smoltz's eligibility is apparent. Sadly, most of the voters will probably be comparing Smoltz's raw numbers to that of other Hall-of-Famers from, like, the '60's, and that may be why Smoltz loses out.