Jaffe: Missed time and the Hall of Fame

From SABR member Jay Jaffe at FanGraphs on April 10, 2020:

When Harold Baines was elected to the Hall of Fame via the 2019 Today’s Game Era Committee ballot, the argument that he would have reached 3,000 hits had he not lost substantial parts of the 1981, ’94 and ’95 seasons to player strikes must have weighed heavily on the minds of voters. How else to explain the panel shocking the baseball world by tabbing a steady longtime DH who never led the league in a major offensive category and whose advanced statistics equated his career value to good-not-great players such as Paul O’Neill or Reggie Sanders? That time missed was a major talking point for Tony La Russa, who managed Baines in both Chicago and Oakland and was one of several key figures in the slugger’s career who not-so-coincidentally wound up on the committee. Baines finished 134 hits short of the milestone, while his teams fell 124 games short of playing out full schedules in those seasons (never mind the fact that he missed 59 games due in those three seasons due to injuries and off days). On this particular committee, he received the benefit of the doubt regarding what might have been.

Baines was neither the first player nor the last to gain such an advantage in front of Hall voters. As you might imagine, the topic has been on my mind as we confront this pandemic-shortened 2020 season, and I’m hardly alone. In chats, article comments, and on Twitter, readers have asked for my insights into what the current outage might mean with regards to the Hall hopes for active players. I’ve spent the past four years weeks ruminating on the matter, but for as tempting as it may be to dive headfirst into analyzing the outage’s impact on Zack Greinke, Yadier Molina, Mike Trout et al if the season is 100 games, or 80, or (gulp) zero, the more I think about it, the more I believe that it’s important to provide some historical perspective before going off half-cocked.

Read the full article here: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/missed-time-and-the-hall-of-fame-part-1/

Originally published: April 10, 2020. Last Updated: April 10, 2020.