Baseball’s Forgotten HOF Candidates: Part 1

Good day my beloved readers, this is Lucas Kinser with the first of a ten-part piece on players who should get a second look by the Baseball Hall of Fame. As there are far more than 10 in total who could make a legitimate argument, I’m narrowing down the list to offensive players who are no longer on the ballot.

My goal is to lay out a comprehensive argument featuring the pros and cons for each player’s induction using data collected from baseball-reference.com, in my opinion the best source for both standard and sabrmetric statistics.

Come back every week or so for another edition from now until whenever ten weeks from now will be.

First up on the list is:

Bobby Bonds

  • Spent 14 seasons with eight teams
  • Played the vast majority of his career in Right Field
  • Highest percentage received: 10.6% in 1993

Traditional Career Offensive Stats:

Bonds is one of two players with more than 300 home runs and 400 stolen bases, joined only by his son, Barry. Even if you reduce the numbers to 200 homers and 300 steals, he’s still one of 22 players, including seven Hall of Famers and a number of future members of the club (Biggio, A-Rod, Jeter etc.)

If you limit those results to 1871-1981 (Bonds’ last season), he is one of four players with 200-300 (Willie Mays, Vada Pinson and Joe Morgan). Remember, he has 300-400, not 200-300. Limit that total to only right fielders in his era and he stands along.

But Bonds’ traditional stats aren’t without flaws. He was a swing-and-miss hitter like many power bats of his era (Jim Rice, for example). He didn’t get paid to walk to first base, he got paid to trot around the bases. Therefore, his OBP has been questioned (.353) as well as his career hits (1,886), runs (1,258) and RBI (1,024, only two seasons with more than 100).

He also struck out. A lot. Like, a record amount. His 1,757 fans stood at third behind Hall of Famers Willie Stargell (1,912) and Reggie Jackson (1,810) when he retired in 1981. But as a side note, the top seven career leaders in Ks at that time are all enshrined in Cooperstown today (Brock, Mantle, Killebrew and Perez).

Traditional Single-Season stats/honors:

This category is traditionally one of the weakest in Bobby Bonds’ case, as he only led the league in major positive categories three times (120 runs in 1969, 131 runs and 341 total bases in 1973) while he topped four negative categories (187 Ks in 1969, 189 Ks in 1970, 148 Ks in 1973 and 23 caught stealing in 1979).

But he did garner some accolades during his MLB tenure, earning three All-Star berths, collecting three Rawlings Gold Glove Awards and notching at least one MVP vote five times, including  third and fourth place finishes in 1973 and 1971.

Sabrmetric Stats:

Bonds was one of Bill James’ favorite subjects and even served as the inspiration for his Power-Speed # stat, and for good reason. Bonds led his league in the stat in 10 times from 1969-79, including a 40.9 mark in 1973 which served as the single season record until Rickey Henderson’s 1986 campaign.

His 386 career PS# ranks fifth all-time behind the younger Bonds, Henderson, Mays and A-Rod (at least two of which are directly linked to PEDs).

He also racked up some solid Wins Above Replacement numbers in his career, breaking the five-point barrier (making him generally considered an All-Star worthy player that season) on seven occasions.

In total, his career WAR finished at 57.7, the most by a right fielder not in the Hall of Fame upon Bonds’ retirement. In fact, second place on that list is Rusty Staub with 45.8.

He ranks eight overall among his position from 1981 back, posting a comparable number to Enos Slaughter (55.2), Harry Hopper (53.6) and Willie Keeler (54.0), but he remains a good distance away from No. 7 Harry Heilmann (72.1)

Fielding Stats:

Finally, let’s look at how Bonds performed in the field. This is an area where both the SABR numbers and the traditional stats come together nicely.

His 48 career fielding runs would rank seventh among Hall of Famers pre-1981 at his position, while he routinely ranked among the best Right Fielders in Range Factor/Game, finishing in the top five on nine occasions and ranking 42nd all-time.

And while he committed a number of errors (23rd most by a RF), he also ranked in the top 30 in putouts, games played and assist at the position, meaning his chances to make a mistake were extraordinarily high.

Plus not to be overlooked, he ranks 11th among RFs in double plays turned, tied with the legend himself Roberto Clemente. Let that sink in.

Postseason Stats:

Unfortunately, Bonds never got to play in a Fall Classic, only making it to one LCS in 1971. The Giants consistently floated near the top of the NL West during his prime seasons with the squad, but only took the division crown once. And as further evidence of Bonds’ value, the team posted a losing record in each of the four seasons after he left for New York

Diagnosis:

There’s certainly enough data here to prove Bonds was overlooked by the BBWAA during his years of eligibility. As a candidate from 1987-97, voters looked on as Bonds’ spots in the record books began to sink lower and lower due to the influx of PEDs in the game. In retrospect,  it would be nice to see him on the Veterans Committee ballot once again, as he’s been left off the final ballot every year since 2008. He may be a bit off the edge for HOF contention, but anyone whose career features such a unique combination of power, speed and fielding should at least be considered for years to come.

Thanks for reading my blog. Feel free to follow me on Twitter at @LucasKinser and look me up on Facebook. Next week, we’ll take a look at another forgotten candidate. Stay tuned to find out who!

Advertisements

UFC 162 Preview and Predictions

Happy 4th of July everyone! Let us not waste a second and get right to the breakdown and picks!

All odds are courtesy Bovada.lv and all confidence picks are from a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the least and 10 being the most.

Anderson Silva (-240) vs. Chris Weidman (+190)

Inarguably the biggest challenge of Silva since Dan Henderson, Weidman is the blueprint for how to beat “The Spider.” A takedown artist (4.47 TApM, 72%) with great defenses both striking (68%) and on takedown attempts (100%), he excels in all of the areas Silva commonly exploits. But those numbers were put up against inferior competition, as only Maia and Munoz could be considered top ten fighters. Silva hasn’t had a real challenge since the first Sonnen fight, but back in the day he made guys like Henderson, Franklin and Belfort look like sparring partners. But he’s 38 years old with 37 pro fights under his belt. Weidman has the youth and athleticism, but Silva has the experience, the calm and the technical striking skills to pick Weidman apart if he can stay on his feet. In what I predict is a fight for the ages, I see Weidman keeping this fight on the ground and either locking in a choke or G&Ping the champion for the win.

Prediction: Weidman via TKO in Round 3 (Confidence = 5)

Frankie Edgar (-550) vs. Charles Oliveira (+375)

In his first non-title fight since the TUF 10 finale, Edgar looks to bounce back after three straight close decision losses to Ben Henderson and Jose Aldo. Oliveira, however, has nothing to lose, being given no shot against the former LW champ. Oliveira had gone to distance once in 20 fights. Edgar had done so in 12 of 20. Expect Oliveira to be the aggressor, throwing unorthodox strikes and looking for a takedown. But Edgar is a strategist, so expect him to time Oliveira, shoot in and grind out a decision. But there’s always a chance Oliveira could convert a takedown attempt into his patented anaconda choke, so be weary.

Prediction: Edgar via Unanimous Decision (Confidence = 7)

Tim Kennedy (-155) vs. Roger Gracie (+125)

This is my upset lock of the night. Roger Gracie has not been submitted in MMA or BJJ competition since he was a blue belt. Only one fighter has even attempted a takedown against him in MMA. He’s a towering 6-foot-4 middleweight with a five-inch reach advantage and improved striking. Kennedy’s only chance is for a KO/TKO (none since 2007) or to get on top and grind out a decision against a superior submission fighter. He’ll try to keep the fight standing, get taken down (56% TD offense) and get subbed.

Prediction: Gracie via Submission in Round 1 (Confidence = 6) 

Mark Munoz (-130) vs. Tim Boetsch (EVEN)

This may be a middleweight bout, but both these fighters will enter the Octagon at well over 200lbs. Both solid grapplers and strikers, Munoz uses his hands to set up his shoot while Boetsch uses his to stay standing and shoots to keep his opponents honest. However, Munoz has the better takedowns, notching nearly half his attempts over his last five fights (9-for-19). Expect Munoz to make up for his loss vs. Weidman by getting Boetsch down and forcing a TKO win. But either man has a legit shot of pulling out a W with that game plan.

Prediction: Munoz via TKO in Round 2 (Confidence = 4)

Cub Swanson (-230) vs. Dennis Siver (+180)

Two fighters who have seen a resurgence in their careers, Swanson and Siver are in line for a FW title shot in the near future. Swanson has reeled off a quartet of wins from 2012 on out, while Siver is 2-0 since dropping to featherweight with a pair of dominating decisions. Both fighters have identical heights and reaches and throw punches in bunches, but Swanson has more pop (three of last four wins by KO/TKO) and is more accurate (46% compared to 32% SA). Expect TKO No. 4 of 5 this Saturday.

Prediction: Swanson via TKO in Round 1 (Confidence = 5)

Andrew Craig (-155) vs. Chris Leben (+125)

If Leben wants to keep his job, he has to beat Craig. The old “Crippler” had all the tools to win this bout easily, but that fighter hasn’t showed up since his 2011 KO win vs. Wanderlei Silva. Still, Craig has some holes in his striking defense (37 percent) and takes too many shots if the fight keeps standing (2.86/min). He’s also got just a 25% takedown rate inside the Octagon, compared to Leben’s 57% defense. Expect Leben to keep this fight on its feet and land some big punches, but take home a decision win.

Prediction: Leben via Unanimous Decision (Confidence = 5)

Norman Parke (-190) vs. Kazuki Tokudome (+155)

Two of their division’s promising young prospects, Parke and Tokudome impressed in their Octagon debuts: Parke winning TUF: The Smashes vs. Colin Fletcher and Tokudome beating BJJ savant Cristiano Marcello. Parke is a grinding grappler with excellent chokes, using his Guillotine and RNC to tear up the UK MMA scene. Tokudome uses his Judo pedigree to toss opponents around and finish with either an armbar or G&P from a dominant position. I see these two’s styles leading to a 15-minute stalemate with neither man doing much to hurt the other. It’s a coin flip in my book, so I’ll take the man with the three-inch reach advantage.

Prediction: Tokudome via Unanimous Decision (Confidence = 1) 

Gabriel Gonzaga (-260) vs. Dave Herman (+200)

This fight presents an interesting clash of styles. Gonzaga has evolved from a knockout artist with submissions to a submission fighter with knockout power, winning his last three fights via choke. Perhaps that’s a response to the six KO/TKO losses of his career. Herman doesn’t have the big names of the guys Gonzaga’s been KO’d by (Carwin, Dos Santos, Werdum etc.) but he’s got 15 KO/TKO wins against mostly lesser competition. Herman is hard to take down (63% TD Def.), but he’s a turtle on his back. I feel Gonzaga has a better chance at getting a takedown than Herman has of a flash KO, so I’ll have to go with the Brazilian by a slim margin.

Prediction: Gonzaga via Submission in Round 2 (Confidence = 3)

Edson Barboza (-550) vs. Rafaello Oliveira (+375)

Barboza is simply one of the sport’s most dynamic strikers, as proven by his highlight-reel spinning back kick KO over Terry Etim and his leg kick TKO wins as well. His only loss came in an epic upset vs. Jamie Varner, showing he may be prone to overlook fighters he’s heavily favored against. However, Oliveira is prone to getting highlight-reel KO’d, like he was against Yves Edwards two fights ago. Stepping in late and having two fights since 2011, the ring rust may result in him going sleepy night-night to a Barboza kick.

Prediction: Barboza via KO in Round 1 (Confidence = 9)

Seth Baczynski (-300) vs. Brian Melancon (+230)

Melancon is a smothering fighter coming out of Ricco Rodriguez’s camp, knowing the submission game well and possessing good top control and G&P. But he’s facing a fighter seven inches taller and who has plenty of Octagon experience. If Melancon were a wrestler, which he is not, I’d smell an upset via decision. But I think he’ll have trouble getting Baczynski down, leading to a difficult striking battle and eventual TKO loss.

Prediction: Baczynski via TKO in Round 1 (Confidence = 7)

Mike Pierce (-650) vs. David Mitchell (+425)

Pierce’s tenacious takedowns will keep this fight on the ground. Mitchell has a lot of submission wins off his back, but Pierce has excellent sub defense (only losses by decision). Expect a lot of ground and pound from Pierce and either a TKO or Decision win.

Prediction: Pierce via TKO in Round 1 (Confidence = 8)

Thanks again for taking the time to read this Cardiac Attack Sports exclusive. Remember to follow me on twitter at @LucasKinser to keep up with whatever my mind comes up with next. Happy 4th and enjoy the fight!