Orioles and the 2012 BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot: An Assessment


The 2012 BBWAA ballot for election to the Hall of Fame was released Wednesday. Former Oriole and Brave Javy Lopez has been added to this year's ballot in addition to return candidates (in order of Oriole tenure) Rafael Palmeiro, Lee Smith and Tim Raines. While not really having a shot, the absence of Scott Erickson and presence of Terry Mulholland is odd, though no stranger than some of the other calls the BBWAA made and I'm really just throwing that in there because Matthew Pouillot of Hardball Talk complained about the inclusion of Tony Womack on the ballot over Edgardo Alfonzo, which is silly if you care about the ballots at all.

A little Nostradamusing after the jump...

Many analysts have noted that a high career WAR is a pretty decent, though not perfect, predictor of HOF induction. According to Sean Forman at the New York Times, among the top 100 players in career WAR not under current or future Hall of Fame consideration, only five have not made the Hall of Fame: Bill Dahlen, Tony Mullane, Bob Caruthers, Lou Whitaker and Bobby Grich. In general, 55 WAR has been the midpoint level for all Hall of Famers as three-fourths of the eligible players with 55 or more WAR are in the Hall of Fame. Bill James and Jay Jaffe have also compiled systems of weighing careers and assessing Hall of Fame worthiness, but while I don't have access to Jaffe's JAWS numbers for this year candidates, Baseball-Reference has helpfully provided this handy chart which includes the James HOFM number. For HOFm, the higher the score, the better with a 100 being about average.

The Debutante

Javy Lopez (C): Played 2+ seasons in Baltimore; WAR (Career/O's/Best Single): 27.9/5.3/6.6; HOFm 66.

Fancy new-fangled stats aside, Javy Lopez doesn't have the shiny baubles BBWAA voters seem to like: no counting stats milestones, no batting titles, though he did win a title with Atlanta and a Silver Slugger award.

The Sophomore

Rafael Palmeiro (1B/DH): Played 7 seasons in Baltimore; WAR: 66/24.1/7.4; HOFm 178

Raffy collected 3,000 hits, hit 569 home runs, had a career OPS of .885, won three Gold Gloves (HA!) and two Silver Sluggers. His Bill James score of 178 handily outpaces all candidates on this year's ballot, though his 11% vote tally in his first year of eligibility shows what damage the PED scandal did to his case.

The Grizzled Vets

Lee Smith (RP): Played 1 season in Baltimore; WAR: 30.3/1.0/4.5; HOFm 135

Smith notched a gaudy 478 career saves and won the Rolaids Relief Man Award in 1991, 1992 and 1994. His career ERA was 3.03, WHIP was 1.25 and K/9 was 8.7. Smith is 3rd on the all time saves list. Smith earned a vote on 45.3 % of ballots last year and is in his 10th year.

Tim Raines (OF): Okay, this is a cheapy. Raines played a few games in 2001 so he could play with his son Tim, Jr., an Orioles farmhand; WAR 64.6/.1/7.5; HOFm 90

Raines won one Silver Slugger, won a World Series with the Yankees and is 5th on the all time list for stolen bases. Raines earned 37.5& of the vote last year and will be on his 5th ballot.

Has Been or Never Was?

In the B-R projection linked above, both Rick Helling and Scott Erickson were listed as possible candidates though neither was nominated. The Bill James HOFm rates them as a 12 and a 26, respectively, with the aforementioned Mulholland pulling down a 14.

I also note that Bernie Williams is in his first year of eligibility and ought to be a good test case for the Hall of Fame prospects of his Yankee dynasty colleagues. Williams did not reach 3,000 hits or even 300 home runs and won one batting title. He also won four Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger. His career WAR is 47.3 (which, I also note is dragged down in B-R's calculations by a -12 career dWAR), yet he boasts a HOFm score of 134.

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