erik lundegaard

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:

Player ROY MVP HOF?
Jackie Robinson 1947 1949 Y
Willie Mays 1951 1954, 1965 Y
Orlando Cepeda 1958 1967 Y
Willie McCovey 1959 1969 Y
Pete Rose 1963 1973 NO
Dick Allen 1964 1972 NO
Rod Carew 1967 1977 Y
Johnny Bench 1968 1970, 1972 Y
Thurman Munson 1970 1976 NO
Fred Lynn 1975 1975 NO
Andrew Dawson 1977 1987 Y
Cal Ripken Jr. 1982 1983, 1991 Y
Jose Canseco 1986 1988 NO
Jeff Bagwell 1991 1994 Y
Ichiro Suzuki 2001 2001 n/a
Albert Pujols 2001 2005, 2008, 2009 n/a
Ryan Howard 2005 2006 n/a
Dustin Pedroia 2007 2008 n/a
Ryan Brawn 2007 2011 n/a
Buster Posey 2010 2012 n/a
Mike Trout 2012 2014, 2016, 2019 n/a
Bryce Harper 2012 2015 n/a
Kris Bryant 2015 2016 n/a
Cody Bellinger 2017 2019 n/a
Jose Abreu 2014 2020 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.

Posted at 02:13 PM on Monday February 01, 2021 in category Baseball  
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