The 2017 Hall of Fame ballot released Monday by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America features some familiar names for Chicagoans.
There’s Tim Raines, a White Sox outfielder for five of his 23 big-league seasons. Raines was selected on 69.8 percent of ballots last year, with 75 percent needed for election. Only former Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell (71.6 percent) received more votes among ballot returnees.
Among those who spent five or more years in Chicago, former Cubs closer Lee Smith (34.1 percent a year ago) and Cubs-Sox outfielder Sammy Sosa (7 percent) return. New to the ballot are former Sox outfielder Magglio Ordonez and former Cubs first baseman Derek Lee.
Let’s look at their cases by the numbers:
Raines: With a .385 on-base percentage, 808 steals to rank fifth in baseball history and an 84.7 percent success rate on steal attempts, Raines was an elite leadoff man.
Compare Raines’ bWAR with those of Hall of Fame left fielders, and he’s right at home. In a list of the Hall’s 20 left fielders and Raines, he ranks fifth with a 69.1 bWAR, eighth with a 42.2 bWAR for his best seven seasons and sixth with a 55.6 JAWS that averages career WAR and seven-year WAR.
By career value, peak value and a balance of the two, Raines is an upper-half Hall of Famer all the way.
Smith: Only five players who made more than half their appearances as relief pitchers are in the Hall. Smith’s 478 career saves would top the Hall list, with Dennis Eckersley next at 390.
By bWAR, Smith’s 29.6 trails Eckersley (62.5, more than half as a starter), Hoyt Wilhelm (50.1) and Rich Gossage (41.8) but leads Rollie Fingers (25.0) and Bruce Sutter (24.5).
But there is no widely accepted numerical standard for Hall of Fame relievers, whose roles have changed with increasing specialization.
Sosa: If discussions of performance-enhancing drugs were off the table, Sosa would be in with 609 home runs, eighth in history. Of the five players who have appeared on the ballot and have more homers than Sosa, only Barry Bonds has been nixed by voters.
By overall game, Sosa’s case is iffier. He has a 58.3 career bWAR. The Hall average for a right fielder is 73.2.
Ordonez: With a .309 batting average, 294 homers and an .894 OPS in 15 seasons, Ordonez was a quality hitter. His overall 38.5 bWAR isn’t up to the Hall average of 73.2 for a right fielder, but it’s in the same range as Harold Baines (38.5 and a Modern Age Committee candidate), Juan Gonzalez (38.5) and Johnny Callison (38.4).
Lee: Lee (.281 batting average, 331 homers, .859 OPS) was hampered by hand injuries after leading the National League with a .335 batting average and 1.080 OPS with 46 homers in 2005. That was a 7.7 bWAR season, but his 5.4 in 2009 was his only other season above 3.5.
It all added up to a 34.1 bWAR that indicates a very good player but not a Hall
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