Jim Albright / the japanese insider
Comparing Sadaharu Oh to Hall of Famers
A good way to get a handle on whether or not a player is qualified to be honored in Cooperstown is to compare him to players who have already been honored there. In this article, I will compare the projected major league career of Sadaharu Oh, which I detailed here to two separate groups of Hall of Fame first basemen and outfielders. Those two groups have a lot of overlaps, but are not identical. The first group is the tougher of the two, first ballot HOF selections, and the second is of Ohís major league contemporaries.
The reason I have limited the comparison to outfielders and first basemen is quite simple: Oh played first, and the hitting standards applied to outfielders and first basemen are higher than for other positions due to the greater defensive demands of other positions. Consequently, comparisons of Oh to middle infielders and catchers based upon offensive production only would be of limited usefulness at best.
The first ballot group is made up of the guys who rarely are controversial selections to the Hall because there is a clear consensus they belong. In fact, they are generally the guys people first think of when they think of the Hall of Fame. Iíve defined first ballot HOFers as players selected in the first ballot by the writers that the players were eligible for starting in 1960. The 1960 part of the definition exists for two main reasons. The first and most important of these reasons has to do with the Hall itself. The Hall didnít exist until 1936, so there was a time where a backlog of candidates existed, which kept players we would normally consider first ballot types (Mel Ott and Joe DiMaggio, for instance) from receiving the honor of a first ballot selection. By about 1960, this problem had largely disappeared. Therefore, what the standard for first ballot selections has really only developed since 1960. The second reason is that using a 1960 cutoff helps us avoid the apples and oranges comparisons of players from the 60ís and 70ís to the lively ball era of the 20ís or 30ís, the earlier deadball era, or 19th century baseball. Different standards of excellence apply to each group, and it is best to apply the appropriate standard of excellence to Oh.
Using this definition of 1st ballot HOFers, there are 16 such players. I have listed them alphabetically in the spreadsheet below. I have calculated the average performance of these players as well as Ohís placement if he were considered a member of the group. The placement in the group is more significant than the comparison to the average, since players like Aaron, Mays, Musial and Ted Williams tend to somewhat inflate the average above the standards actually used. Anyone falling in the top or middle of this group is quite well qualified for being honored by Cooperstown. A 10th place finish in this extremely elite group means 5 players in this elite company finished below you in that category and entitles you to be considered a legitimate member of the group in that category. One note: 1) the Runs Created formula I used is the Johnson formula introduced in the Bill James Abstract of 1985.
The below chart lists 15 categories of measurement of positive achievements (strikeouts were omitted). Oh averages just above an 8th place finish in those categories. He has 4 top 5 finishes, and 10 top 10 finishes. Two of the four categories he missed the top 10 in are triples and nobody gets in the Hall based solely on his performance in that category. Beyond that, Oh need not apologize to 372 career doubles or a career .279 average, even in this elite company, given the positives he presents in his favor. Not only does he do well in the traditional counting categories such as games, at bats, homers, walks, runs scored and RBI, but he also does very well in the last 4 categories. Those last 4 categories are metrics designed to try and get a more complete picture of a player
RC= ((BB + TB) * 0.32) + ( H * 0.26) + (SB * 0.16) - (AB * 0.10)
RC/G = (RC * 25.5) / (AB-H)
The second group for comparison are those HOF outfielders and first basemen who were Ohís contemporaries. The contemporary HOFers establish the statistical standards for the era, and being among the very best of oneís own time is a key element of being qualified for the HOF. The notes and key which applied to the first ballot HOF chart also apply here, except that the contemporaries are defined as those players who played in at least five major league seasons during the period of Ohís projected major league career from 1962-1980.
Oh averages just below a 7th place finish for the 15 categories against the 16 contemporary HOFers, and is in the top 5 7 times and in the top 10 11 times. He missed the top 10 in average and slugging by a mere .006 in each case. He neednít apologize for 372 doubles even in this elite crowd, and as noted earlier, the triples are irrelevant to a consideration of his career. He does very well in the 4 metric categories finishing in the top 5 each time.
When compared to either group, Oh once again proves his superior qualifications for Cooperstown by measuring up quite well against stiff competition. This is especially notable in the case of the first ballot group, which is a best of the best group. Anyone who can stand up as well as Oh does to such competition is very deserving of a plaque in Cooperstown. Oh retired 1n 1980, yet an honor he richly deserves continues to be denied him. Oh is not debased by this denial, but baseball in general and Cooperstown in particular are. It is high time those two institutions do right by Oh and themselves, recognize the truth of Ohís greatness as a ballplayer, and give him the honor of induction into Cooperstown.