Anyway, I don't just want to rant against Hall voters (though, really - who doesn't enjoy that?). What I'd like to propose is a quick mathematical model to see who the "compilers" really are. As in my last post, I'm using WAR as calculated on The Baseball Gauge. The method is simple: Take "peak" to be the player's ten best seasons. Then do some quick division: peak/career. Since I already had a pool of Hall-of-Fame-type players, I thought to just do the calculation quickly on them. I looked at the bottom thirty players - those for whom peak value was 68.4% or less of their career value. Here they are, in descending order:
That's right. The #1 compiler of all time is . . . Hank Aaron? Well, actually, it makes a lot of sense. Aaron was lauded for his consistency as a player, even when you adjust for ballpark, era, etc. So only 59% of his career value is wrapped up in his peak. Likewise, the next three players had such long and excellent careers that they can't be blamed for putting up value in those others seasons. There are some other odd outliers, too. Eckersley, for example: the reason he shows up is because most of his value was as a starter, but his seasons as a reliever were so good that they were quite valuable, too. So he shows up, but probably not the way it's meant. So here are the classic "compilers," as the argument is made, who show up in this cursory survey (Player, Rank; Peak WAR, Career WAR, %):
Don Sutton, #6; 52.0, 86.8, .599
Tommy John, #11; 37.4, 59.7, .626
Bert Blyleven, #21; 64.9, 97.0, .669
Pete Rose, #22; 54.1, 80.3, .674
Phil Niekro, #23; 68.7, 101.4, .678
Gaylord Perry, #27; 65.2, 95.5, .683
Lou Whitaker, #28; 45.8, 67.1, .683
So, it actually appears that there may be some validity to this criticism of these players, after all. Particularly, there is a lot of question about John, because his peak was pretty unspectacular. However, I would say that, excepting an extreme case like his, the "compiler" argument doesn't hold water, because most of the greatest players of all-time were compilers, too. I guess I just don't see, "You have a lot in common with Hank Aaron" as being that bad of a criticism, is all.
Thanks to The Baseball Gauge for the data (see above for link.).