Monday, January 26, 2009
When does 50 equal 40 and 500 equal 400?
OK, I got a little bit of flack about my post on Jeff Kent and why I don't think he's a Hall of Famer.
And I also got a few questions about my criteria for the Hall of Fame in the dreaded Steroid era.
So I think I need to clarify my position on both and try to do it with as little snark as possible.
I am NOT saying Kent should be excluded from the Hall because he was a jerk. There are plenty of jerks in the Hall.
Ty Cobb was a psychotic.
Rogers Hornsby was an intense racist.
Don Sutton had a white guy Afro.
They all belong in the Hall.
I was just having fun pointing out that he was a unique jerk: One that other players confirmed was an a--hole, not just a guy who didn't talk to reporters.
But the players who played in the Steroids Era need to have overwhelming stats to be considered a Hall of Famer in my book.
You simply can't put everyone from the 'Roid era into the Hall who had gaudy numbers.
There are so many reasons why offense spiked in the post strike/pre testing days.
A rash of new ballparks all seemed to favor hitters.
Pitchers couldn't pitch inside or they were warned.
Hitters wore all sorts of armor so they could constantly dig in.
The mound was low.
Insane pitch counts meant the starting pitcher would be often lifted earlier in favor of a mediocre middle reliever.
And yes, a bunch of guys were injecting God Knows What into their bodies.
The result was an insane number of players who reached plateaus that were once reserved for the best of the best.
Take the 50 home run mark.
Between 1920 and 1994 a grand total of 11 people reached it.
Since 1995, 13 more people have reached it.
Now have the home run hitters since the strike (and when the admitted steroid users all claim it was rampant) all just been better?
Did they all eat their Wheaties?
Nor can you exclude them all either.
You can't wipe out an era based on suspicion.
Basically you need to adopt some new math in order to make it fair.
You have to look at a 50 home run season the way we used to look at a 40 home run season.
A 30 dinger season was like an old 20 home run year.
500 home runs (formerly the bench mark of greatness) should be looked on as a 400 homer season.
And you have to be a consistent MVP candidate.
In other words just compiling numbers over this period isn't enough in my book.
Jim Thome has put up some great numbers and seems like a great guy... but most of the time he wasn't even the best slugger on his own team!
So that brings us to Jeff Kent.
The guy had 4 legitimately great seasons... and they just happened to be while he was playing in the hornets nest of performance enhancing drugs.
He had two Thirty home run seasons in the age of inflated numbers.
He fell well short of 400 homers in the age of inflated numbers.
He fell far short of 2,500 hits in the age of inflated numbers.
He cracked the top ten of OPS in a grand total of one season.
If he had these numbers in the 1980s, I'd be more willing to listen.
But four great seasons do not make a Hall of Famer.
Dave Parker had five great seasons, had as many MVPs as Kent, helped two teams win the World Series and his teammates didn't give a sigh of relief when he went on the DL... and so far he can't even sniff the Hall of Fame.
Am I being tough?
It's the Hall of Fame we're talking about.
And Kent was making around $8 million a year for a while. He can afford a ticket!