Some Marlins Hall of Fame thoughts to end the year
By Michael Jong
I’d like to wish everyone a happy new year going into 2011. The start of 2011 promises good new things for me, and I hope it does so as well for all of you Maniacs and the Marlins that we love so much.
With the Hall of Fame voting looming and the annual discussions on who should be in, who shouldn’t be in, and why Bert Blyleven was vastly superior to Jack Morris (agreed), I had a few thoughts on the Hall of Fame with regards to the Marlins. I looked back last year at two articles that I had written on the Fish regarding the past and future of the Marlins in the Hall, and I’d like to look back a year later and consider the points I made back then further.
Kevin Brown, step right up
Only to be shot down, I’m sure. Kevin Brown is exactly the type of guy who gets lost in the shuffle when it comes to the Hall of Fame vote. In the prime of his career, Brown played for three different teams, the Marlins, San Diego Padres, and Los Angeles Dodgers, only one of which got large recognition as a decently sized market. When Brown arrived in Los Angeles, he did so carrying some pretty hefty baggage in the form of the first $100+M contract in MLB history. It didn’t help, of course, that his attitude was never the best in the business either*.
*Quick aside: Both Brown and Gary Sheffield were not the nicest of people, yet they are the two most likely Hall of Famers who played significant time in a Marlins uniform. Weird how that turned out.
Most people don’t think Brown lived up to the hype of that big time contract, but it could be argued that he did just fine. Of the four years that Brown pitched with the Dodgers, he posted three seasons above 5 rWAR. If you assume teams were probably paying the likes of $2M per WAR, the Dodgers would have received $35.4M in production and paid around $41M in salary, which isn’t terrible. If the dollars/WAR were greater than that, Brown would have been worth his deal over those years. He did, of course, have one “merely” above average season (in 119 IP, he racked up 2.9 rWAR) and one injury-riddled bad year, so he ultimately did not live up to the contract.
I believe voters are holding those seasons and his tail end years with the Yankees too heavily against him without accounting for the fact that he was a very good pitcher for quite a few years and a great one between 1996 and 2000. Nevertheless, don’t expect Brown to ever hear the call to the Hall, which would be a bit of a shame in my (admittedly biased, but stat-backed) opinion. It will be interesting to see what treatment a similar pitcher in Curt Schilling receives.
The Hanley WAR path continues
I thought this graph was quite telling about the WAR path to the Hall of Fame that Hanley Ramirez is building for himself. Using FanGraphs WAR, here are the careers of three shortstops who were/are very good in their primes.
Ramirez’ career continues to follow a very similar path that both Derek Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra‘s careers traversed. He is accumulating WAR at a very similar pace to all of these guys, and he too started a pretty similar age. Check out the total WAR for each of the three according to both fWAR and rWAR up to Ramirez’ 2010 age of 26.
Perhaps the scariest thing about that chart is that Garciaparra started a year later than both of these guys, with his first full season at age 23. Nevertheless, the three were extremely similar through their age 26 seasons, and I think the Marlins would be happy to see more of the same from Ramirez in terms of a Jeter-like progression. Ramirez actually paces the three slightly in terms of WAR, which has to be a good sign going forward for the Fish. I’m looking forward to bigger and better things for the next four years of Hanley Ramirez, and hopefully owner Jeffrey Loria is able to make his wish of having Hanley retire as a Marlins happen. I would love to one day be able to sit back and say that I have watched one of the best shortstops to ever play the game play his entire career on my team.