Stat of the Week: Hall of Fame Value Standard Part II

Last week’s Stat of the Week looked at Bill James’ newest creation, the Hall of Fame Value Standard (HOF-V), and how it analyzes the worthiness of some of the debatable position player candidates on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot. To supplement that, here’s a look at the pitcher candidates of a similar debatable status.

As a reminder, HOF-V is calculated by adding a player’s Win Shares and four times their Baseball-Reference Wins Above Replacement (WAR). A score of 500 is considered to be the standard for Hall of Fame worthiness.

Mike Mussina has the highest HOF-V score of any pitcher on the ballot not named Roger Clemens (who would be a certain Hall-of-Famer if not for PED allegations against him). Mussina’s HOF-V of 601.6 is higher than those of fellow former Orioles ace Jim Palmer (587.6) and a contemporary Hall-of-Famer, John Smoltz (565.0).

Curt Schilling is a notch below Mussina statistically, with 252 Win Shares and 79.6 WAR (to Mussina’s 270 and 82.9). Schilling crosses the threshold with an HOF-V of 570.4, and that’s without even counting his postseason numbers (2.23 ERA in 133 1/3 innings).

Roy Halladay is polling very well among Hall of Fame voters, indicating that his election is likely. By the HOF-V, he comes up a little short at 479.2. James’ assessment is that the system looks at overall numbers rather than peak performance, and that penalizes Halladay enough to bring him below the line. There are Hall-of-Fame pitchers with an HOF-V below 500 — among them is ex-Yankees ace Whitey Ford (488.6) — so Halladay wouldn’t be alone in that regard. James acknowledged he would vote for Halladay if he had a vote.

Andy Pettitte is also below the HOF-V line at 465.2, as he was deemed to have had a number of very good years, but not enough great years to add up to Hall of Fame status.

The system has imperfections when it comes to evaluating relief pitching. Both
Mariano Rivera (497.8) and Billy Wagner (292.8) come in below the HOF-V bar. Rivera is widely considered to be the best relief pitcher of all-time. Wagner posted incredible numbers in strikeouts and saves.

But as James wrote in the
2019 Bill James Handbook, WAR and Win Shares don’t produce a number that represents a closer’s true value.

“Although MLB field staff don’t think in those terms, they act as if they believe that the Leverage Index for a closer is about four to five … Win Shares and WAR both use Leverage Indexes for closers around 2.00. Let’s say Billy Wagner works 70 innings a year. With a Leverage Index of 2.00 his impact is more as it would be if he was pitching 140 innings a year at the same level of effectiveness … Wagner appears to have much less impact on his team than a good starting pitcher … But is this fair to Billy Wagner? … Wagner’s value is in essence kept in a cage because other people are acting on false assumptions. It’s not his fault. His value doesn’t reflect his performance level.”

If you want to check where your favorite player stands in the Hall of Fame Value Standard, go to
Bill James Online. If you would like to read more about the Hall of Fame Value Standard, purchase the 2019 Bill James Handbook or visit the SIS Blog. The BBWAA will announce the newest inductees on January 22. Happy debating!

2019 HOF Eligible Pitchers
Roger Clemens 995.4
Mike Mussina 601.6
Curt Schilling 570.4
Mariano Rivera 497.8
Roy Halladay 479.2
Andy Pettitte 465.2
Roy Oswalt 372.4
Derek Lowe 311.6
Billy Wagner 292.8
Freddy Garcia 275.6
Ted Lilly 220.4
Jon Garland 209
Darren Oliver 207.8

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