September 17, 2013

So Why Isn't Dewey In the Hall of Fame?

So in Chad Finn's piece today about various Boston sports items, his last entry touches on one non-Boston event; the retirement of right-fielder Vladimir Guerrero. Here it is in full:

Twenty-three right fielders are in the Hall of Fame. By Jay Jaffe's terrific JAWS system, Guerrero rates roughly in the middle statistically among those 23. He clubbed 449 homers, posted a .931 OPS, won an MVP and finished in the top three three other times, had throwing arm that made the NRA envious, and his most-similar-by-ages list includes Willie Mays five times and Manny Ramirez and Duke Snider three times each. He retired this week. He'd get my vote in five years.

While no metric is perfect, JAWS isn't bad. It essentially allows for a comparison between a player and how an average Hall of Famer did at the same position. It averages the career WAR (Wins Above Replacement*) and the seven-year peak WAR total for a player. So, for example, Babe Ruth's career WAR is 163.2 and his WAR7 (seven year peak average) is 84.7. Average them (163.2+84.7 / 2) and you get 123.95, which is rounded up to 124.0. In this way, we can compare players at the same position from different periods.

Vlad the Impaler current ranks 21st right now among all-time Right Fielders in JAWS at 50.6, just off the pace of Hall of Famer Dave Winfield (19th all-time).

But there is a man who ranks 15th all-time, who played 20 years and, in my opinion, is one of the best right fielders to ever play the game. Of course, we are talking about Dwight Evans.

Of the 13 men** ahead of Dewey in JAWS who played right field, 11 are in the Hall of Fame. One has a shot to make it there (Larry Walker) and one is banned from the sport for life (Shoeless Joe Jackson).

That also means that Dewey's JAWS is better than 12 Hall of Famers at the right field position, including Winfield, Willie Keeler and Enos Slaughter. And he's still ahead of potential HOFers like Guerrero and Ichiro.

Now, JAWS isn't the be-all and end-all when it comes to deciding Hall of Fame worthiness. But it does make a basic case that Evans should at least be considered. He fell off the ballot in 1997 when a ridiculously deep class came in that year***. But the Veterans Committee will be voting on Expansion Era players in 2014. Which means we should be seeing their list soon. Evans, at a minimum, should be on that list. And frankly, he should be voted in.


*This represents the number of wins a player was responsible for at their position by not being a replacement-level player.

**One slot is reserved for the average of the 23 Hall of Famers at the position. Right now, that composite is 13th on the list.

***On that ballot - George Brett, Robin Yount, Nolan Ryan and Carlton Fisk. Yeah, it was a little deep in awesome.


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