Which Positional Players Should Be Inducted Into the Baseball Hall of Fame This Year?

From the list of positional players (excluding pitchers) eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2013, the four players with the best chance of getting the 75% votes necessary for induction into the Hall of Fame (HOF) include Craig Biggio, Jeff Kent, Tim Raines, and Frank Thomas. From the most likely to the least likely I have them ranked as follows: Frank Thomas followed by Craig Biggio and then a tie between Tim Raines and Jeff Kent. The statistics used consist of their career number of hits (H), career number of home runs (HR), career batting average (BA), career on-base-percentage (OBP), career Slugging % (SLG), career on-base-plus-slugging (OPS). Also, their number of All-Star appearances (AS) and number of MVP awards (MVP). For Tim Raines, I will also use the career number of stolen bases (SB). Finally, I will use the Hall of Fame Standard test (HOF STD) developed by Bill James in my analysis. For those of you who have my book “Sandlot Stats” you can read about this test in Chapter 10. This test uses a combination of several statistics to come up with a score for each player. The average score is 50 for a Hall of Famer. The technique used is to compare each player to players already in the HOF who for most of their careers occupied the same position as the candidate. I considered Frank Thomas a first baseman, Craig Biggio and Jeff Kent second baseman, and Tim Raines a left fielder. The Hall of Famers chosen include:  the top percentage vote-getter at that position and one or more Hall of Famers who played the same position as the candidate and were similar as players.  Frank Thomas is compared to George Sisler (Top %), Eddie Murray, Tony Perez, and Willie McCovey. Craig Biggio and Jeff Kent are compared to Rod Carew (Top %), Roberto Alomar, and Ryne Sandberg. Tim Raines is compared to Rickey Henderson (Top %) and Lou Brock. The table below provides the necessary statistics for all these players.

Statistics for 2014 Hall of Fame Candidates

I give Frank Thomas the best chance because in his group with his Hall of Famers he ranked first or tied for first in HR, OBP, SLG, OPS, HOF STD, and MVP (2 times). He ranked second in BA. The three things working against Thomas are he is on the ballot for the first time, he played more than half his games as a designated hitter, and his body type fits a PED user.

Ranked second is Craig Biggio. Last year he appeared on 68.2 percent of the ballots, very close to the 75% needed. His HOF Standard score of 57 tied him with Alomar for first place in his group. He leads all players in his group with 3060 hits, one of the magic numbers used for selection to the Hall. His statistics are very similar to the Hall of Famer, Sandberg.

This leaves us with Kent and Raines. I believe both of these players are on the bubble. For Raines, this will be his seventh year on the ballot and he is creeping up in percentage. Last year was his highest percentage of 52.2%. Except for stolen bases and hits, he ranks ahead of Brock in every other category. His score of 47 is very close to the HOF average. However, I think it will take him a few more years to finally make it. Yes, he does belong in the HOF. Kent has a strong resume. He holds the home run career record for all second baseman with 377 HRs. He has one MVP Award. Of all players in his group, he is first in HR, SLG and OPS. His HOF STD score of 51 is above the average. However, I don’t think his statistics entitle him to make it as this is his first time on the ballot.

Even though all four deserve to be elected, my prediction for this year is yes to Thomas and Biggio and no to Raines and Kent. The background for this posting was supplied in the previous posting.

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