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Win Shares and the Hall of Fame: 2007 Update

February 1, 2007 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Former Yankee great Babe Ruth is the king of Win Shares.
The immortal Babe Ruth still tops the all-time list of Win Shares.

By Bill Gilbert

[Editorial note: Bill Gilbert studies baseball history with a focus on the Hall of Fame. The following is an edited, abridged version of his original article.]

For the past three years, I have taken a look at the Hall of Fame credentials of active players based on the Bill James Win Share system. In the Win Shares system, James states that 400 career Win Shares means absolute enshrinement in the Hall of Fame and 300 Win Shares makes a player more likely than not to be a Hall of Famer. However, he cautions, while those standards describe the past, they are not as likely to describe the future as accurately. Players with 300 to 350 Win Shares in the past have generally gone into the Hall of Fame. In the future, they more often will not.

The Win Shares system provides a useful method of examining the body of work that a player has accumulated in his career. In the case of active players, it is interesting to see if they are on track for the Hall.

The first list includes active players with 300 or more Win Shares. Topping the list is Barry Bonds with 686 Win Shares, a total exceeded by only Babe Ruth (756) and Ty Cobb (722). Despite gaining only four Win Shares in 2006, Gary Sheffield joined Roger Clemens and Craig Biggio as the only other active players with 400 Win Shares. Five players passed the 300 mark in 2006: Jeff Kent, Randy Johnson, Jim Thome, Tom Glavine and Chipper Jones. Glavine gained five Win Shares on Johnson in 2006 and is on the verge of passing him to become the top left-handed pitcher of his generation, based on Win Shares.

Active Players with 300 Win Shares (WS)

Position Players (Name, age on 1/1/07, WS in 2006, WS through 2006, comment)

Barry Bonds, 42, 25, 686, Only Ruth and Cobb have more.
Craig Biggio, 41, 11, 422, Closing in on Ripken at 427.
Gary Sheffield, 38, 4, 402, Now in can’t miss territory over 400.
Frank Thomas, 38, 21, 383, Huge comeback in 2006 ensures election.
Ken Griffey, Jr., 37, 9, 367, Early success should be enough to make it.
Alex Rodriguez, 31, 25, 340, Still piles up stats in an off year.
Manny Ramirez, 34, 27, 334, Had best year on this list.
Mike Piazza, 38, 11, 320, Best hitting catcher ever.
Jeff Kent, 38, 18, 313, Building a pretty strong case.
Bernie Williams, 38, 8, 311, Nearing the end, probably short of Hall.
Jim Thome, 36, 25, 304, Has a shot after comeback in 2006.
Chipper Jones, 34, 22, 301, A couple more good years and he is in.

Pitchers

Roger Clemens, 44, 11, 432, Fifth on all-time list for pitchers.
Greg Maddux, 40, 12, 383, Sure bet for the Hall.
Randy Johnson, 43, 8, 305, Another sure bet despite recent decline.
Tom Glavine, 40, 13, 303, Should reach 300 wins in 2007.

A strong group of players have apparently completed their careers in 2005 with 300+ Win Shares and will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time in 2011 if they remain inactive.

(Name, age on 1/1/07, WS through 2006, comment)

Rafael Palmeiro, 42, 394, Left under a cloud.
Jeff Bagwell, 38, 387, Should lead this class.
Sammy Sosa, 38, 311, Ugly exit in 2005. May be back.
Larry Walker, 40, 307, May not be enough.
John Olerud , 38, 301, Not enough power.

The next list consists of players with 250 Win Shares through 2006. These players should get on the HOF ballot, but most will not be elected. Three players moved into this group in 2006: Moises Alou, Carlos Delgado and Omar Vizquel.

Active Players with 250 Win Shares

Position Players (Name, age on 1/1/07, WS in 2006, WS through 2006, comment)

Luis Gonzalez, 39, 12, 297, Doesn’t have the numbers.
Steve Finley, 41, 10, 296, Same category as Gonzalez.
Ivan Rodriguez, 35, 24, 296, A sure bet.
Jason Giambi, 35, 22, 283, Needs three or four more big years.
Julio Franco, 48, 3, 278, Amazing career, but not HOF.
Derek Jeter, 32, 32, 277, Another sure thing.
Jim Edmonds, 36, 11, 274, Not quite HOF caliber.
Kenny Lofton, 39, 12, 273, Lengthy, but not dominant career.
Moises Alou, 40, 14, 263, Missed too much playing time.
Carlos Delgado, 34, 22, 262, Borderline if he stays productive.
Omar Vizquel, 39, 20, 250, Way short of Ozzie Smith’s 325 WS.

Pitchers

John Smoltz, 39, 15, 272, Will get some consideration.

The final list is of active players that have 200 Win Shares. Many are productive veterans with good careers, but without HOF credentials. Only those on this list who are younger than 35 have a realistic chance. Six players joined this list in 2006: Johnny Damon, Ray Durham, Albert Pujols, Miguel Tejada, Nomar Garciaparra and Jason Kendall.

Active Players with 200 Win Shares

Position Players (Name, age on 1/1/07, WS in 2006, WS through 2006, comment)

Bobby Abreu, 32, 27, 249, Needs a long career.
Brian Giles, 35, 21, 249, Slowing down too soon.
Vladimir Guerrero, 30, 24, 243, Piling up HOF stats.
Scott Rolen, 31, 21, 235, Needs to stay healthy to have a shot.
Tim Salmon, 38, 4, 232, End of a good, but not great career.
Andruw Jones, 29, 22, 232, Early start gives him a chance.
Todd Helton, 33, 21, 230, Decline phase started early.
Shawn Green, 34, 11, 225, Not a serious candidate.
Ryan Klesko, 35, 1, 223, Doesn’t seem to have much left.
Ruben Sierra, 41, 0, 222, Did not sustain early promise.
Johnny Damon, 33, 21, 216, Won’t generate HOF credentials.
Ray Durham, 35, 20, 212, Nice comeback in 2006, but way short.
Edgardo Alfonzo, 33, 0, 211, Career cratered early.
Albert Pujols, 26, 37, 210, On pace for 525 WS in 15-year career.
Miguel Tejada, 30, 23, 210, Has time to put up the numbers.
Reggie Sanders, 39, 5, 206, Many stops, but not Cooperstown.
Nomar Garciaparra, 33, 17, 203, Too much time lost to injuries.
Jason Kendall, 32, 23, 202, Durable, but not productive enough.

Pitchers

Pedro Martinez, 35, 6, 249, Dominance will get him in.
Mike Mussina, 38, 14, 248, Still has work to do.
Curt Schilling, 40, 15, 242, Post-season success will help his case.
David Wells, 43, 4, 207, Way short.

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