Sunday, January 5, 2014

Postseason performance on the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot

Now that we have a framework in place to evaluate postseason performance, we can start applying it to specific questions. And since it’s that time of year, let’s start with the Hall of Fame ballot.

For discussion, reference, and whatever other application you prefer, here is the postseason performance of the players on the 2014 BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot, by Championship Probability Added. We’ll do hitters first.
(Totals are multiplied by 1000 for the sake of easier readability, so a score of -6 is actually -.006, an aggregate impact of less than 1% on the championship odds of the player’s teams):

Hitter
CPA
JT Snow
+308
Barry Bonds
+272
Moises Alou
+213
Sean Casey
+158
Larry Walker
+152
Alan Trammell
+150
Sammy Sosa
+96
Fred McGriff
+54
Don Mattingly
+43
Paul LoDuca
+38
Frank Thomas
+34
Edgar Martinez
+22
Jeff Bagwell
+16
(5 relief pitchers)
0
Hideo Nomo
-6
Luis Gonzalez
-9
Kenny Rogers
-14
Ray Durham
-15
Mike Mussina
-31
Jack Morris
-34
Richie Sexson
-38
Rafael Palmeiro
-61
Jeff Kent
-72
Jacque Jones
-83
Mike Piazza
-84
Tom Glavine
-95
Roger Clemens
-127
Craig Biggio
-184
Curt Schilling
-189
Mark McGwire
-202
Greg Maddux
-212
Tim Raines
-221

None of these numbers are in the top or bottom 50 of all time (Snow is #56, Raines is #82 from the bottom). The breakdowns of the most extreme performances from people who will get a noteworthy fraction of the Hall of Fame vote (as hitters; Greg Maddux will get a few votes, but I doubt anyone is looking for a detailed breakdown of his postseason batting performance) are as follows:

Barry Bonds
1990 NLCS
-5
1991 NLCS
-144
1992 NLCS
+14
1997 NLDS
+32
2000 NLDS
-15
2002 NLDS
+23
2002 NLCS
+84
2002 WS
+229
2003 NLDS
+54
Total
+272

Bonds had a lousy postseason in 1991 (4/27 with a double and 2 walks), an exceptional one in 2002 (8 homers and 27 walks in three rounds), and played limited (though usually mildly positive) roles in his other appearances. ’02 outweighs ’91, giving him a healthy positive contribution overall.

Larry Walker
1995 NLDS
+30
2004 NLDS
+26
2004 NLCS
-14
2004 WS
+118
2005 NLDS
-9
2005 NLCS
+2
Total
+152

(Walker's total does not appear to add up correctly due to rounding issues; he is not unique in this regard.) 

Nearly 80% of Walker’s contribution came in the ’04 World Series, in which his team was swept. (He had the third-best World Series ever by a player on the losing end of a sweep, for what that’s worth, going 5/14 with 2 doubles and 2 homers and an especially big day in Game 1 - 4/5 with 2 RBI and a game-tying reach-on-error in the eighth - before the series turned into a walkover.)

Alan Trammell
1984 ALCS
+27
1984 WS
+157
1987 ALCS
-35
Total
+150

Trammell was awarded the 1984 World Series MVP, which was not particularly undeserved (9/20 with a pair of homers and 6 RBI); that’s a fine performance in that series, with no significant countervailing negatives.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have…

Craig Biggio
1997 NLDS
-24
1998 NLDS
+19
1999 NLDS
-37
2001 NLDS
-20
2004 NLDS
+58
2004 NLCS
-117
2005 NLDS
0
2005 NLCS
+37
2005 WS
-100
Total
-184

Even his occasional good performances tended to be both small and cancelled out by negatives in the next round. Much of Biggio’s postseason work came after he was past his prime, but ’97 through ’99 were all very good regular seasons for him, and he failed to impress in those Octobers as well. His overall line was .234/.295/.323, and it got worse in the later (and more important) rounds.

Mark McGwire
1988 ALCS
+2
1988 WS
-41
1989 ALCS
+45
1989 WS
-51
1990 ALCS
-25
1990 WS
-56
1992 ALCS
-14
2000 NLDS
0
2000 NLCS
-2
2001 NLDS
-62
Total
-202

Nothing crippling in any individual series, but not a single year with a positive score either. .217/.320/.349 isn’t a good line for anyone, but it’s especially bad for a plodding first baseman, and his .271 World Series slugging percentage is frankly dire.

Tim Raines
1981 NLCS
-40
1993 ALCS
-21
1996 ALDS
+1
1996 ALCS
-64
1996 WS
-43
1997 ALDS
-14
1998 ALDS
+2
1998 ALCS
-42
Total
-221

Looking at playoff production may be as unfair to Raines as it is to anyone – his teams never made it into the postseason in his best years, and he spent much of his decline with a team that regularly played deep into October. That makes this as good a place as any to point out that this measure of postseason performance is hardly the only factor one should consider in completing a hypothetical Hall ballot.

With that caveat firmly in mind, let’s look at the pitchers:

Pitcher
CPA
Jack Morris
+1027
Curt Schilling
+849
Tom Glavine
+587
Roger Clemens
+579
Mike Mussina
+332
Greg Maddux
+265
Mike Timlin
+212
Todd Jones
+43
(23 position players)
0
Eric Gagne
-7
Hideo Nomo
-24
Kenny Rogers
-27
Lee Smith
-74
Armando Benitez
-253

Let's dive straight into the very big numbers:

Jack Morris
1984 ALCS
+53
1984 WS
+285
1987 ALCS
-47
1991 ALCS
+7
1991 WS
+1008
1992 ALCS
-115
1992 WS
-165
Total
+1027

Yes, a lot of this is GAME SEVEN. But Morris was very good in his two earlier starts in the ’91 Series as well, and could also have easily been given the Series MVP in ’84 for his pair of complete game victories. He was rather disastrous in ’92 and ’87, but the games he pitched in those years were less important, which means they're not enough to cancel out 1984, let alone the legendary '91 effort.  By Championship Probability Added, Morris is the #1 postseason starting pitcher of all time, and the #3 pitcher overall (trailing only Rollie Fingers and, of course, the incomparable Mariano Rivera).

Does that make him a Hall of Famer? If it helps you decide, the second- and third-highest ranked starting pitchers by CPA are Art Nehf (not in the Hall of Fame) and Allie Reynolds (not in the Hall of Fame). Morris’s playoff performance is a point in his favor, but it’s also just one factor among many in his case.

Curt Schilling
1993 NLCS
+150
1993 WS
+28
2001 NLDS
+203
2001 NLCS
+54
2001 WS
+225
2002 NLDS
+26
2004 ALDS
+16
2004 ALCS
+27
2004 WS
+16
2007 ALDS
+29
2007 ALCS
-24
2007 WS
+50
Total
+849

Note the almost-complete lack of negative scores. Schilling was very good in the playoffs, and he was very good a LOT. That was never truer than in 2001, when he had the following sequence of starts: 1-0 shutout win, 2-1 complete game win (in a series-deciding game), 5-1 complete game win, 7 one-run innings in a 9-1 win, 7 one-run innings in a 4-3 loss, and 7.1 2-run innings in a 3-2 win (in a rather famous series-deciding game). Six starts with an ERA of 1.12, all of them featuring at least 8 strikeouts and no more than 2 walks (totals of 56 and 6, respectively). ’01 plays the biggest role (though hardly the only one) in making Schilling the #6 postseason pitcher ever by CPA.

Tom Glavine
1991 NLCS
+42
1991 WS
+19
1992 NLCS
-133
1992 WS
+164
1993 NLCS
+19
1995 NLDS
+11
1995 NLCS
+35
1995 WS
+337
1996 NLDS
+17
1996 NLCS
+52
1996 WS
+35
1997 NLDS
+2
1997 NLCS
-59
1998 NLDS
+22
1998 NLCS
-6
1999 NLDS
+13
1999 NLCS
+65
1999 WS
-68
2000 NLDS
-42
2001 NLDS
+63
2001 NLCS
+36
2002 NLDS
-78
2006 NLDS
+34
2006 NLCS
+7
Total
+587

That is a rather lengthy table; I hear Glavine played for a team that made the postseason a few times. The main points to take from it are (a) that the numbers are mostly positive, and (b) that there is a very large positive number in the 1995 World Series, in which Glavine was deservedly named MVP. His career total is #22 overall.

Roger Clemens
1986 ALCS
+135
1986 WS
+60
1988 ALCS
-15
1990 ALCS
+53
1995 ALDS
-4
1999 ALDS
+26
1999 ALCS
-30
1999 WS
+48
2000 ALDS
-41
2000 ALCS
+82
2000 WS
+109
2001 ALDS
-9
2001 ALCS
+55
2001 WS
+283
2002 ALDS
-16
2003 ALDS
+47
2003 ALCS
-102
2003 WS
-15
2004 NLDS
+15
2004 NLCS
-102
2005 NLDS
+24
2005 NLCS
+17
2005 WS
-63
2007 ALDS
-6
Total
+579

Clemens (who ranks #25 all-time) is pretty similar to Glavine here. They both pitched in 24 playoff series, and pitched well in most of them. Unlike Glavine, Clemens’s best effort came in a losing cause, thanks to his bum of a closer blowing a 2-1 lead in Game 7 of the 2001 Series.

Mike Mussina
1996 ALDS
-3
1996 ALCS
-43
1997 ALDS
+57
1997 ALCS
+187
2001 ALDS
+31
2001 ALCS
+25
2001 WS
-21
2002 ALDS
-12
2003 ALDS
0
2003 ALCS
+32
2003 WS
+122
2004 ALDS
+11
2004 ALCS
+37
2005 ALDS
-75
2006 ALDS
-12
2007 ALDS
-5
Total
+332

Mussina’s teams lost the two series that produced his best October work – his gem in Game 3 of the ’03 Series and his pair of otherworldly starts in the ’97 ALCS. In Games 3 and 6 of that series, Mussina threw 15 innings, allowed 4 hits, 4 walks, and 1 run, and struck out 25 hitters while facing a Cleveland lineup that may have been the best in baseball. His efforts resulted in two no-decisions, as the Orioles scored a total of zero runs while he was on the mound, and went on to lose both games in extra innings. (The ’97 ALCS also makes a significant appearance on Armando Benitez’s postseason chart, and not in a happy way.)

Greg Maddux
1989 NLCS
-153
1993 NLCS
-47
1995 NLDS
+9
1995 NLCS
+53
1995 WS
+157
1996 NLDS
+15
1996 NLCS
+44
1996 WS
+154
1997 NLDS
+60
1997 NLCS
-16
1998 NLDS
+28
1998 NLCS
+18
1999 NLDS
0
1999 NLCS
+82
1999 WS
-12
2000 NLDS
-34
2001 NLDS
-6
2001 NLCS
-67
2002 NLDS
+19
2003 NLDS
+3
2006 NLDS
-3
2008 NLDS
+1
2008 NLCS
0
Total
+265

This is a lot like Glavine’s chart, actually, except that it lacks the singular series that cements the rest of the positive scores. Still, it’s a good postseason career, largely thanks to the fine efforts in the ’95 and ’96 World Series (four starts, 31.2 innings, 1.99 ERA).

That wraps up the top 6 pitchers on the ballot. Unlike the hitters, the best pitchers on this ballot all had fine postseason careers, any and all of which should be usable as enhancements to a Hall of Fame case. (Some of them, you may have heard, have been used that way once or twice already.)

By comparison, October production is almost entirely irrelevant to the hitters on the ballot. The best postseason hitter was Bonds, whose Hall case isn’t exactly going to hinge on whether he came through in the clutch frequently enough. The next two relevant hitters on the positive side of the ledger both had only brief, albeit successful, forays into the playoffs. On the negative side, McGwire is in a similar camp to Bonds’s, voting-wise; his World Series numbers aren't going to sway anyone in either direction. Raines’s performance is a hindrance to his candidacy less because anyone talks about it than because it brought him into the public eye as a declining platoon player. As for Biggio, his 3000 hits (and all-around excellence) go a long way toward getting voters to forgive a few poor Division Series outings.
So if you’re itching to consider postseason performance in examining the Hall of Fame ballot this year, look at the pitchers. (Which, with the October résumés up for consideration this year, is likely what you were already doing.)

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