You're Good...But are you Plaque Good?

While voting continues for the Peanuts From Heaven Hall of Fame (see widget at the right), today marks the announcement of the inductees to that OTHER baseball hall of fame: the one that places "accomplishment" and "excellence" above nobler pursuits like "amusing us" and "inspiring goofy photoshops." (Seriously--vote for the most amusing Twins who left the team this last year and do it now!)

Last year the Baseball Hall of Fame enshrined Bert Blyleven (two years after we did, it should be noted), and Bert's special day became a highlight in an otherwise stinktastic Twins season. This warm and fuzzy memory led us to wonder if another Twins legend could get the call and brighten up our summers in the near future.

After all, if the Cubs had four Hall of Famers {Ernie Banks, Ferguson Jenkins, Billy Williams, Ron Santo} on their roster during a period of time where they won absolutely nothing (1966-1971), then you would assume that the Twins might have had two or three serious candidates during a five year span (02-06) of four division titles.

So we did a very un-Peanutly thing and crunched a few numbers (hopefully correctly). Using Baseball-Reference.com's list of all time Wins over Replacement (WAR) leaders, we compared a few favorite Twins to the top 100 Hall of Famers and similar players who haven't been elected to Cooperstown yet. We figured if Wins over Replacement tell you how valuable and effective certain players are, and if the voters for the Hall of Fame become nerdier and more SABR-metric-y in the next decade or so (SPOILER: they will), then comparing our current player's WAR/Season against those of the game's legends should give us a sense of their chances. Here's how a few favorites stack up.

Hall of Fame WAR/Season Average: 4.68; Pitchers--4.68; Hitters--4.46
Non-Inductees WAR/Season Avg.: 3.86; Pitchers 3.86; Hitters--4.04 (subtract admitted/named steroid users and it's 3.86)

Classic Twins
Jim Kaat (1.65) and Tony Oliva (2.83) are frequently mentioned as "could be" inductees who are just waiting on their chums on the veteran's committee to give them the thumbs up. The problem is that both Oliva and Kaat rate below their peers already in the hall on overall WAR, even when you account for Oliva's short peak his per season WAR rates below all but three of the top 100 (Carlton Fisk, Harmon Killebrew and the immortal Bobby Wallace). So, our suggestion is for Kaat and Oliva to bake some cookies, or cakes or coquitos and woo some of their old playing buddies.

Jack Morris (2.18) is perhaps the best pitcher on the ballot this year but after getting a little more than 50% of the vote last year seems unlikely to leap up to the 75% thresh hold for induction. It doesn't help matters that Morris rates below all current hall of famers and a whole bunch of others who will get on the ballot next year. While we love Black Jack for his broadcasting and St. Paul roots and buying a ranch house near my childhood home and for the sheer genius of Game 7 it looks like he might be waiting longer for a call from Cooperstown longer than I waited for a call from the head cheerleader (wait was that a burn on Morris...or me?).

When you look at this year's ballot and realize that Brad Radke (3.14) is on it, you might feel, that time is a fleeting thing. Bradke hasn't been gone that long has he? 5 years, really? Sure enough the Twins' work horse is officially out to pasture and pretty well guaranteed of being chucked from the ballot with little consideration. Sure he's a local favorite and our judgement might cloud our judgement--but is worth noting that he has a better per season WAR over his relatively brief career than Curt Schilling, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. Of course those guys all have fancy hardware on their mantlepieces and World Series rings on their fingers and Radke, you know, doesn't. (Sorry, Brad)

Current Players, Future Balloteers
While Radke's contributions to our run of success were important, he wasn't at his best then, and indeed some of those who were young and vital to the team are still playing, compiling stats and dreaming of that little Bronze Plaque. 

Hugs make missing the Hall of Fame feel less painful
Torii Hunter (2.12) stuck around for all four of those early division winners as he nears the twilight of his career he's a long way away from enshrinement levels (but he will be a free agent next winter, HINT-HINT). Ditto Joe Nathan (2.01), because while standards for closers are different than for other players, our beloved Dread Pirate will always be known to writers outside of the Midwest as "that really good closer who wasn't Mariano Rivera." Justin Morneau (2.17) is an interesting case because, while he had a stellar three-year-run, he also has been pretty much lost two years in his prime. If he'd been healthy and consistent during that time he might be approaching consideration...as is he seems like a Canadian Roger Maris. (No offense intended to either Morneau or Maris--that would be a good, though somber, three-four combination.)

The real talk has to start with Johan Santana (4.23), you know, that ace pitcher we bade farewell a few years ago--without whom our rotation has never really been the same--not that we're bitter or hold a grudge or anything. With just 11 years in the league Senor Santana has a solid WAR and WAR/Season, he's a little behind the top 100 average but well ahed of the guys who are about to get on the ballot. (Schilling, Glavine, Smoltz, Randy Johnson, etc.) He'll need to come back from shoulder surgery, but if he acquits himself well for the next three or four years he can show off his two Cy Youngs and have a great shot at immortalization (and seriously...no way he goes in with a Mets cap).

But the man we'll most likely be seeing on the walls of Cooperstown with the interlocking TC on his hat is Joseph Patrick Mauer (5.04). Sure there's a lot to be seen as he returns from pneumonia/knee surgery/bilateral leg weakness and hits in the middle of a fairly unprotective line-up and tries to catch and hit and do all those Mauery things, but here's the deal: through 8 seasons Mauer's WAR/Season is better than Johnny Bench, Jimmie Fox, Napolean Lajoie and Mel Ott; just a hair behind Frank Robinsons. Even with a sharp decline in his last two years he should best the Hall Average and be ready to deliver a speech full of scintillating Mauerisms "You know...umm...I'm really glad to...you know...umm...be here with...umm..you know..."(Sorry Joe, we kid because we love!)
Blessings on you my...you know...children

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