The Cat's Cradle

"No wonder kids grow up crazy. A cat's cradle is nothing but a bunch of X's between somebody's hands, and little kids look and look and look at all those X's . . . No damn cat, no damn cradle." -- Kurt Vonnegut

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Does winning matter for Hall of Fame Induction (part 1)?

Last year JC Bradbury at Sabernomics created a list of position players who are not in the baseball hall of fame, but should be (more recent update here). I was intrigued by the list, but felt that, fair or not, winning and postseason success likely factor into voters decisions. I also wondered whether traditional stats such as hits and home runs might not predict voter behavior better than linear weights (about which voters are likely poorly informed).

Accordingly, I set about to reproduce Professor Bradbury’s results and attempt to answer my questions. First a disclaimer: I am not making normative statements about who should be in the hall of fame or what the hall of fame criteria should be. All I can do is identify who best matches players already in the hall of fame.

The project became a bit long for one post so I’ll do it in parts. The next post (part 2) will compare model specifications and provide lists of players who are not enshrined, but best match the players already in the hall. Next I will look at hall of famers who had the lowest probability of induction and current or recently retired players who have the best chance of induction. Finally I may look at how changes in productivity would have affected players’ hall of fame chances (e.g. what difference would an additional all-star caliber season have made for Dale Murphy). For the last section I’m happy to take suggestions.

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