Bill James Handbook Excerpt: Hall of Fame Value

You can order The Bill James 2021 Handbook at ACTASports.com

By MARK SIMON

Let’s talk about the Hall of Fame candidacy of Freddie Freeman for a minute.

Freeman did his best to make the most of a bad situation this year, finishing with 17 Win Shares (most in MLB) and 2.9 Wins Above Replacement according to Baseball-Reference (tied for second among position players), adding 28.6 to his Hall of Fame Value total.

A brief reminder on how Hall of Fame Value works: It’s the sum of a players Win Shares and 4 times his WAR. This was introduced in the 2019 Handbook by Bill James, who indicated that a Hall of Fame Value of 500 merited Hall of Fame induction.

Freeman is a likable player, one whose super-friendly dugout hugs were curtailed this season by coronavirus. Freeman himself battled and overcame the virus prior to the start of the season.

He’s also in position to surpass the magic 500 number with 100 more points. First base can be a tough position, but consider how closely Freeman’s career has statistically paralleled Hall of Fame first baseman Eddie Murray and you’ll see a candidacy that is gaining strength.

Through Age 30 season (Age through June 30 of that season)

 BAOBPSLGOPS+
Freddie Freeman.295.383.509139
Eddie Murray.299.375.505143

Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom is going to make for an interesting Hall of Fame case. DeGrom’s MLB career didn’t start until he was 26, giving him a late start on some of the typical accomplishments of a Hall-of-Fame–caliber pitcher. He’s almost the same age as Clayton Kershaw but has about half of Kershaw’s Hall of Fame value (Kershaw 484, DeGrom 245).

DeGrom’s last three seasons, at ages 30 to 32, have been remarkable. He’s pitched to a 2.10 ERA and averaged 11.6 strikeouts per 9 innings. His 47 Win Shares and 20 Pitching WAR are the most of any pitcher in that time.

As for current Cooperstown candidates, there are 11 candidates on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot who clear the 500 threshold. All 11 of those are holdover candidates from last year’s ballot. If you’re new to this, the one that might most surprise you is Bobby Abreu (596.1), who ranks fifth and is ahead of such notables as Curt Schilling, Jeff Kent, Sammy Sosa, and Andruw Jones.

As I noted here last year, Abreu hit .291/.395/.475 with 2,470 hits, 288 home runs and 400 stolen bases in an 18-year career. He just surpassed the 5% vote needed to stay on the Hall of Fame ballot, receiving 22 votes (5.5%).

One player whose candidacy is boosted by Hall of Fame Value is third baseman Scott Rolen (584.7). Rolen has some voting momentum—his vote percentage doubled from 17% to 35% on the last two ballots.

Among the new candidates on the ballot, outfielder Torii Hunter has the best case, but comes up a little short (477.3). Hunter hit 353 home runs, won nine Gold Glove Awards, was honored with the Branch Rickey Award for community service, and was nicknamed “Spiderman” for his wall-scaling ability.

But Hunter is hurt by his career OPS being only 10% above league average, when adjusting for ballpark and the era in which he played.

Pitching-wise, it’s a similar sentiment for 214-game winner Mark Buehrle, who pitched two no-hitters, including a perfect game, and won a World Series with the 2005 White Sox. His Hall of Fame value of 457.3 is just below fellow lefty Andy Pettitte (465). Both were very good pitchers but don’t make the Hall of Fame Value cut.

HOF Value Leaders – Among Players on BBWAA Ballot

PlayerHOF Value
Barry Bonds1355.2
Roger Clemens995.3
Manny Ramírez685.4
Gary Sheffield672.1
Bobby Abreu596.1
Scott Rolen584.7
Curt Schilling570.4
Todd Helton562.8
Jeff Kent560.6
Sammy Sosa555.3
Andruw Jones527.2
Torii Hunter477.3
Andy Pettitte465
Omar Vizquel464.3
Mark Buehrle457.3
Tim Hudson451.8

Top Active Candidates by Age

AgeNameHOF Value
21Juan Soto90.9
22Ronald Acuña Jr.103.6
23Ozzie Albies106.2
24Cody Bellinger157.8
25Carlos Correa197.5
26Francisco Lindor235.4
27Mookie Betts340.9
28Mike Trout605.1
29Nolan Arenado318.1
30Freddie Freeman400.7
31Elvis Andrus329.2
32Clayton Kershaw484.2
33Andrew McCutchen456.7
34Evan Longoria451
35Max Scherzer439.1
36Joey Votto555.6
37Miguel Cabrera687.4
38 and olderAlbert Pujols889.5
Players to clear 500 in Value: Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Joey Votto, Robinson Canó, Zack Greinke

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