Monday February 01, 2021
Assessing Dustin Pedroia's Hall of Fame Chances, and Subsequent Digressions
When I heard that Dustin Pedroia had announced his retirement from Major League Baseball after several painful seasons trying to recover from a knee injury brought on by a suspect Manny Machado slide, I went to his stats at Baseball Reference, wondering how close he comes to being a Hall of Famer.
Turns out: kinda close by some measures, way off by others.
If your measure is “Hall of Fame Monitor,” a Bill James concoction which focuses on likelihood of entry, with 100 meaning a good possibility and 130 a cinch, Pedroia is a 94. By other Jamesian measures, it's not that close. Black ink indicates how often someone led the league in a offensive/defensive category. An average HOFer is 27; Pedroia was 11. Gray ink is the same but in top 10 rankings. Average HOFer is 144; Pedroia was 70. His bWar is 51.6, below borderline, which is about 70. His percentages are good, particularly for a second baseman (.299/.365/.439), but his counting numbers are low: 1,805 career hits, 394 doubles, 922 runs scored. I do like that he walked almost as much as he struck out: 654 to 624. He was scrappy, tough, beloved.
He also won Rookie of the Year (in 2007) and MVP (in 2008), which made me wonder how often someone's won both trophies and not made the Hall. Here's the answer:
|Willie Mays||1951||1954, 1965||Y|
|Johnny Bench||1968||1970, 1972||Y|
|Cal Ripken Jr.||1982||1983, 1991||Y|
|Albert Pujols||2001||2005, 2008, 2009||n/a|
|Mike Trout||2012||2014, 2016, 2019||n/a|
Of the 14 eligible names, five didn't get in, though Rose would have if not for gambling, and Dick Allen might get in shortly, via the Veterans Committee. Munson died young, tragically, spent 15 years on the ballot, but never topped 10% of the vote. Lynn, with a career bWAR similar to Pedroia's (50.2, and an .845 OPS), lasted two votes before falling off. Canseco, a semi-buffoonish symbol of the early roid years, didn't last that long.
Then I noticed something: Why are there so many more recent combo ROY/MVPs?
In the 50+ years between the first Rookie of the Year award in 1947 and the end of the century, there were only 14 ROY/MVPs. In the 21 years since, there have been nearly as many: 11. One wonders why. Have advanced stats helped pick better players for the ROY, who are then more likely to become later MVPs?
There used to be longer pauses, too, between the two awards. To be exact, there was a 10-year pause: McCovey won in '59 and '69, Rose in '63 and '73, Carew in '67 and '77, Dawson in '77 and '87. Add in close calls (Cepeda, nine years; Allen, eight years), and it seemed most early honorees took a while to come up to the MLB level. Now it's zip-zip. The 21st century honorees average 2.36 years to get there, vs. 5.42 for last century's players. Again, one wonders why. Better training earlier?
Anyway, Ryan Fagan of Sporting News thinks Pedroia could make it, given how early his career ended, and compared with other Hall of Fame second basemen. Wouldn't mind. Always liked him.