Active Phillies and Future Hall of Famers

Over at The Book blog, Tango looks at the PA threshold for Hall of Famers:

Of players born since 1924, here are the least number of plate appearances for Hall of Famers:

7831 Kirby Puckett
8237 Duke Snider
8364 Yogi Berra (C)
8379 Bill Mazeroski
8669 Johnny Bench (C)
8695 Orlando Cepeda
9019 Gary Carter (C)

As you can see, it’s extremely tough to make the Hall of Fame with under 9000 plate appearances.

That’s a bit depressing for me because, as one of the biggest fans of Chase Utley out there, it is highly unlikely that the second baseman will reach the 9,000 PA plateau. He currently sits just shy of 4,800. Assuming 600 PA per season, Utley would need to play seven more full seasons at, more or less,  his current level of play. The problem is that Utley is currently 33 years old, so he would be 40 and his ability to stay on the field consistently is already in question, as he has accrued under 1,000 PA in the last two seasons combined.

Jimmy Rollins is currently the closest to the mark, with over 7,500 PA to his name. But the Hall of Fame case for Rollins is much tougher. Although he has one MVP award and a rare 20/20/20/20 season under his belt, his career OPS is below-average. Only two shortstops are near Rollins’ career rWAR (34.4): Rabbit Maranville (38.2) and George Davis (37.6). If you exclude players who played at least partially in the Dead Ball Era, then Phil Rizzuto is the closest (41.8). And unlike Ozzie Smith (64.6), Rollins’ defense wasn’t incredible to the point where you could overlook other deficiencies.

Ryan Howard is the only other active player who could conceivably approach 9,000 PA as a Phillie. With over 4,400, Howard is piling on the counting stats that voters love, but the future is not looking bright for the big man. Already missing part of the 2012 season, injuries will only become more and more of a possibility, and the lasting effects of his Achilles injury could drain his already-declining power. Howard would need to play 7-8 seasons at 600 PA apiece to reach the 9,000 PA mark, taking him through at least his age-39 season. Howard also has accrued 23.1 rWAR, vastly below Hall of Fame first basemen outside of the Dead Ball Era. The closest to Howard is Orlando Cepeda at 46.8. Needless to say, Howard would need to completely defy the aging curve to come close.

The 2007-12 Phillies will go down as the greatest teams the franchise has ever assembled, but it could have an interesting footnote in that none of the position players reach the Hall of Fame.

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25 comments

  1. nik

    December 20, 2011 08:32 AM

    How many more does Valdez need to qualify?

  2. Eric Bruntlet

    December 20, 2011 09:10 AM

    You forgot about me Bill. My epic unassisted triple play will definitely get me in first ballot.

  3. Dan K.

    December 20, 2011 10:24 AM

    Is this only for the Phillies’ core group? If not, Polanco is worth mentioning. While he’s getting up there in years, he’s currently at 7,143 PA and has at least this year left as a starter. After that, because of his excellent defense, he’ll be able to land at least super utility jobs until he’s 45ish if he chooses to keep playing until then. It’s not likely, but not out of the realm of possibility that he reaches the mark. And if he does, while he doesn’t scream “hall of famer” to me, his .300+ career average and gold gloves at two positions will definitely get him some looks.

    That being said, maybe the PA thing will change for hall of famers much like the win totals for pitchers did. It’s less likely in my opinion since, for the most part, PA does show both durability and skill over the years. But it’s always possible.

  4. Bill Baer

    December 20, 2011 10:27 AM

    I have a hard time seeing Polanco staying on the field through his late-30’s, let alone his mid-40’s. But you’re right: he’s definitely had an underrated career. I wouldn’t call it Hall-worthy, but surely productive.

  5. Warren

    December 20, 2011 10:31 AM

    Bill, what about a post on the pitchers? I’m assuming Halladay is a no doubter?

  6. Bill Baer

    December 20, 2011 10:33 AM

    The comments on Tango’s blog list similar criteria for pitchers, but I haven’t looked yet. I’d assume that, projecting Halladay’s career out, yeah, he’s a no-doubter.

  7. Greg

    December 20, 2011 10:49 AM

    Does Halladay go in as a Phillie? Too soon to tell? Would Lee?

    I can see Utley and Rollins being the Trammell/Whitaker of the 00’s. Though I feel more compelled to think of Trammell as a HOF than Rollins at this point. Now that Santo is in, they should really work on getting Trammell in, BEFORE he dies.

    And correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t something of Bruntlet’s already in the Hall from the triple play game?

  8. Phatti

    December 20, 2011 11:42 AM

    Jimmy’s hall case is easy: if he gets to 3000 hits, he’s in. Bill James’ favorite toy has him at 11% to get 3000, but if he stays healthy, I think that’s a little low, especially if he stays in the leadoff spot for the next three or four years

  9. Nik

    December 20, 2011 12:00 PM

    Can’t believe you left out Big Jim Thome. Don’t forget he ushered in the Phillies renaissance by coming here in in the first place.

  10. Greg

    December 20, 2011 12:07 PM

    Is Thome a no-doubter? I mean, I hope so. But won’t some people see him as more of a stat compiler than as one of the best players in the league at his prime?

  11. Nik

    December 20, 2011 01:27 PM

    Pretty sure he is. 600 homers, 70+ WAR, 147 career OPS+. And he has managed to stay away from steroid allegations. He’s a no doubter.

  12. Bernie

    December 20, 2011 03:52 PM

    Speaking of WAR – Utley is already at 50. If he has 3 decent years (@ 5, which is possible), maybe one other @ 3, it will put him ahead of Kent and Sanderg, behind only Alomar (who should be a sure-fire hof), Whitaker, and Morgan for the best WAR by a 2nd baseman post WW2. He’ll only have about 7k PAs, but as the writers review more advanced statistics vs voting by gut, he’s got a shot, even with a relatively short career. Another ring would help.

  13. Zach

    December 20, 2011 04:08 PM

    Thome better be, if he isn’t then he’d be the first with over 500 to not get in. (Assuming McGwire and Sosa get in, which they eventually will). But the only thing is I wouldn’t include him in the 07-11 group unless the Phillies win or take a good shot at the World Series this year, it just wouldn’t seem deserved. Also Bruntlet does have a plaque on display in the museum part of Cooperstown, (When I visited in 2010) I was amazed they deemed it important enough.

  14. Bill

    December 20, 2011 04:34 PM

    What about Victorino? He is a great CF and gets a lot of PA’s (not sure of his current number). He just finished a season where he was I believe fifth in the MVP voting and is a consistent hitter with a little pop in his bat at 31. He has plenty of years to go with not too many foreseeable injuries.

  15. Zach

    December 20, 2011 04:54 PM

    Victorino is a terrific center fielder. But even his three gold glove awards don’t make up for his lack of substantial power and only average BA. He would need to have a career BA around .300 to get in and he would need more runs scored. He currently has 3629 PA and if he continues for another 9 seasons at 600 PA then he would be 40 and only have a little over 9000 at 9029. Since he’s been a regular starter in 2006 he has averaged 605 PA per year so it is a slight possibility. But I doubt he will play long enough to even get close to that number. Even if he did, he most likely be a .280+ hitter with around 200 home runs. Even his steller defense isn’t legendary good, he’s a very slight possibility, it would take a good ammount of years and he would need to seriously improve his game.

  16. Rob SJ

    December 20, 2011 05:00 PM

    Zach, why do you assume McGwire and Sosa will eventually get in? Obviously it’s possible there is a shift in the future towards just accepting the steroid era for what it was and voting in the best players from that era, but I wouldn’t call that a foregone conclusion. McGwire was under 20% in last year’s voting, it would take a real sea change to get him voted in by the the BBWAA. In addition to having the steroid issue, McGwire has to contend with the fact that he was a fairly one dimensional player, and that one dimension was the one that we would presume is helped most by steroids, power. This is unlike Bonds who I think most of us would objectively agree was clearly a HOF caliber player with or without PEDs. Sosa is not eligible yet, but I think he’ll fare even worse than McGwire and has really the same issues.

  17. Zach

    December 20, 2011 05:53 PM

    I assume McGwire will get in because even though as you said he was a one dimensional player and that was his power which was the major thing affected by his PEDs, he has several years left to be on the ballot, eventually people, whether it’s A-Rod or Bonds or Sosa, or someone else, will get voted into the HOF and then they will have to reconsider all of the people they left out because they used PEDs, so much of baseball is now and will probably from now on be affected by PEDs, I’m not saying I like it, but with players that we know of, and many, many that we don’t know of using them, both pitchers and batters. Don’t forget he had to face pitchers who were on PEDs too. This whole leauge is corrupted, sooner or later someone is going to get in, or people will just except that they were part of the game during that time period. Also even if McGwire and Sosa don’t get in, Thome doesn’t have to deal with that, actually he should get bonus points for not using PEDs in a time when a lot of the best in the game were and facing the PED enhanced pitchers! As far as I know and hope, Thome is not included in the PED and Steroid saga. I sure hope it stays that way.

  18. jauer

    December 20, 2011 06:08 PM

    This is what happens when you have management that refuses to acknowledge sunk costs. David Bell and Jim Thome took away a ton of PAs from Utley and Howard. If they had traded Thome when they were supposed to after the 2004 season (seriously, look at Howards 2004 minor league numbers), they would have gotten a better return for Thome, and Howard almost certainly would have provided at least one more win in the standings. They missed the playoffs by 1 game.

    Also, the Phillies renaissance began in 2001, when they went from the worst record in the majors to finishing 2 games behind Atlanta. If not for the 9/11 attacks, that team may have won the division.

    Signing Thome was nice, but he joined a team already capable of contending for a playoff spot. He was here in 2003 and 2004, but they came closer to the playoffs in 2001 and 2005 than those two years.

    Everyone points to Thome as the turning point of the franchise, but I think that huge building near Packer Ave has a little more to do with it.

  19. johnnn

    December 21, 2011 12:57 AM

    what about Pence?

  20. Rob SJ

    December 21, 2011 02:31 PM

    Zach, agree it has nothing to do with Thome who has not been touched by PED rumors othat I know of. Your comment just piqued my curiosity. I think some PED users are likely to get in (maybe just one, Bonds, although A-Rod is a possibility), but doubt it will lead to an acceptance of all players from the era, which would include Clemens (who is more worthy than McGwire), Sosa, McGwire and Palmiero. Only time will tell though.

  21. Zach

    December 21, 2011 03:38 PM

    I’ll give you it’s a long shot for there to be a sudden surge in acceptance of PED users but McGwire or Sosa, or Clemens all depends on what you consider a greater accomplishment, batting .260 with 580 homeruns (McGwire), or batting .270 with 610 homeruns (Sosa), or winning 350 wins with a 3.20 era (Clemens). Or maybe you feel that 450 homeruns or 250 wins is better than any of the above if you don’t use PEDs to achomplish that, it all depends on how much you feel PEDs effect a players game, or how much you despise the thought of all these players ruining their bodies with drugs. It all depends on how you feel.

  22. derekcarstairs

    December 26, 2011 01:36 AM

    When you talk about 9,000 PAs as a plateau for HOF admission, it’s just another way of saying that high career totals are what get position players in.

    Regarding Rollins’ chances, at the end of his current four-year deal, he will be 36 years old and should have 2,500 hits, 500 doubles, 120 triples, 230 HRs and 450+ SBs. That may not be enough for HOF admission, but he would be close. Three additional productive years after age 36 probably would get him in.

    A lot can change over the next 10-15 years (when Rollins becomes eligible for admission) in the makeup of HOF voters and the stats that are considered most reflective of baseball excellence, but, at the moment, career WAR is not what gets players into the HOF.

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