Cooperstown Chronicles – Bill James & Pete Palmer

Jul 9, 2008

Photo courtesy of TSN Archives/Icon SMI

Famar, a friend of mine from the Sporting News community, suggested I profile statistician Bill James and Pete Palmer.  I thought it was a wonderful idea.  Here are my findings.

Obviously this is a little different than analyzing a player or a manager, but Bill James certainly has left his mark on the game, or at least how the game is viewed.  Famar’s point, which I feel is a valid one, is that if broadcasters and journalists are worthy of the HOF, maybe statisticians should be honored as well.  Bill James is a master of Sabermetrics, which is a way of analyzing future performance based on past statistics.  Bill James has a lengthy résumé of his works that dates back to The Bill James Baseball Abstract  in 1977.  There are several tools that teams, fans, and baseball writers who have the honor of deciding who is inducting into the Hall of Fame.  If you have been following the Cooperstown Chronicles you may have noticed I started adding Hall of Fame Yardsticks to help illustrate my case for the subject at hand.  Bill James developed these yardsticks (Black-Ink Test, Gray-Ink Test, HOF Standards, and HOF Monitor).  He also is the creator of the following stats:  Runs Created, Range Factor, Defensive Efficiency Record, Similarity Scores, Power/Speed Number, and others.

He gained some credibility when Billy Beane began using sabermetrics in conjuction with his Moneyball practices to help small-market Oakland stay competitive in the current high-dollar baseball climate.  He moved into a more mainstream role when the Boston Red Sox to apply sabermetrics to their decisions.  He got off to a bumpy start when the Red Sox employed the Bullpen by Committee, but that could very well been more a reflection on the talent, or lack thereof, that Boston was utilizing.  While I won’t contribute all or even the majority of the Red Sox’ recent success to Bill James, it is worth noting that they have won two World Series in four years following an 86 year drought. 

Pete Palmer has also left his thumbprint on the way baseball is analyzed.  He first broke on the scene when he discovered that Nap Lajoie was the 1910 Batting Champ rather than Ty Cobb, who was originally credited with the title.  His premier work is The Hidden Game of Baseball, which shows some of the sabermetrics in play while explaining their relevance.  He is credited with coming up with the OPS statisitc, where you combine On-base % and Slugging % , which helps determine a players offensive value. 

Baseball wouldn’t be baseball without the stats and the analysis of those stats.  Bill James and Pete Palmer are legendary statisticians that helped shape baseball as we know it today.  I think their contributions should not go unnoticed.  They should both be inducted into the Hall of Fame under the Pioneer/Executive category.



Baseball Library

Past Chronicles
Roberto Alomar
Richie Ashburn*
Harold Baines

Albert Belle
Pete Browning
Jim Bunning *
Bert Byleven
Joe Carter
Orlando Cepeda*
Rocky Colavito
Dave Concepcion
David Cone
Larry Corcoran
Mike Cuellar
George Davis*
Andre Dawson
Larry Doby*
Bobby Doerr
Jimmie Dykes (Player/Manager)
Dwight Evans
Rick Ferrell*
Chuck Finley
Steve Finley
Nellie Fox*
John Franco

Gary Gaetti
Steve Garvey
Luis Gonzalez
Dwight Gooden
Mark Grace
Bobby Grich
Charlie Grimm (Player/Manager)
Ron Guidry
Keith Hernandez
Orel Hershiser
Whitey Herzog (Manager)
Gil Hodges
Ralph Houk (Manager)
Shoeless Joe Jackson
Travis Jackson
Tommy John
Addie Joss*
Jim Kaat
George Kell*
Tom Kelly (Manager)
Chuck Klein*
Jerry Koosman
Barry Larkin
Tony Lazzeri*
Mickey Lolich
Ernie Lombardi*
Fred Lynn
Sherry Magee

Roger Maris
Billy Martin (Player/Manager)
Dennis Martinez
Edgar Martinez
Bobby Matthews
Don Mattingly
Gene Mauch (Manager)
Bill Mazeroski*
Fred McGriff

Mark McGwire
Bid McPhee
Johnny Mize
Paul Molitor*
Jack Morris
Tony Mullane
Dale Murphy
Graig Nettles
Hal Newhouser*
Lefty O’Doul
Tony Oliva
Al Oliver

Buck O’Neill & Minnie Minoso
Dave Parker
Wes Parker
Lance Parrish
Boog Powell
Tim Raines
Willie Randolph
Pee Wee Reese
Jim Rice
Phil Rizzuto*
Brooks Robinson*
Pete Ro$e
Amos Rusie*
Jimmy Ryan
Ron Santo
Curt Schilling
Red Schoendienst* (Player/Manager)
Joe Sewell*
Ted Simmons
Enos Slaughter
Lee Smith
Rusty Staub
Dave Stieb
Harry Stovey
Alan Trammell
George Van Haltren
Arky Vaughan*
Mo Vaughn
Bobby Veach
Frank Viola
Lou Whitaker
Bernie Williams
Vic Willis*
Maury Wills 
Hack Wilson*

* Signifies actual Hall of Famer

. .

9 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. David Funk
    July 9th, 2008 at 2:23 pm #

    Excellent post and idea. I’ve never thought of those guys getting in the Hall of Fame, but their marks on the game can’t be denied. Certainly a strong argument that I agree with here.

  2. LestersLegends
    July 10th, 2008 at 6:55 am #

    David – Totally. I mean stats go hand in hand with baseball. Why not pay homage to the best statisticians?

  3. Chuck
    July 10th, 2008 at 8:05 am #

    Interesting take.

  4. LestersLegends
    July 10th, 2008 at 8:19 am #

    Chuck – Yeah, it was fun to think outside the box. Kudos to Famar for the subject.

  5. Diane
    September 3rd, 2008 at 10:08 pm #

    Statisticians do not belong in the Hall of Fame. James lost enormous amounts of credibility in his support of Pete Rose and his attack on the validity of the Dowd Report when Rose finally confessed to having bet on baseball.

    Statistics can tell us lots of things, but they don’t play baseball.

  6. LestersLegends
    September 3rd, 2008 at 10:12 pm #

    Diane – Fair opinion. However, what about announcers? There are Hall of Famers from that walk that never played.

  7. 2009 MLB Hall of Fame Ballot | Fantasy Sports Blog
    December 8th, 2008 at 9:15 am #

    [...] Jim Kaat George Kell* Joe Kelley* George Kelly* Tom Kelly (Manager) Chuck Klein* Jerry Koosman Bill James & Pete Palmer Barry Larkin Tony Lazzeri* Freddie Lindstrom* Mickey Lolich Ernie Lombardi* Fred Lynn Sherry Magee [...]

  8. Cooperstown Chronicles - Stan Coveleski :: Elites TV
    May 13th, 2009 at 1:00 pm #

    [...] Jim Kaat George Kell* Joe Kelley* George Kelly* Tom Kelly (Manager) Chuck Klein* Jerry Koosman Bill James & Pete Palmer Barry Larkin Tony Lazzeri* Freddie Lindstrom* Mickey Lolich Ernie Lombardi* Fred Lynn Sherry Magee [...]

  9. Cooperstown Chronicles - Waite Hoyt | Fantasy Sports Blog
    May 20th, 2009 at 2:04 pm #

    [...] Jim Kaat George Kell* Joe Kelley* George Kelly* Tom Kelly (Manager) Chuck Klein* Jerry Koosman Bill James & Pete Palmer Barry Larkin Tony Lazzeri* Freddie Lindstrom* Mickey Lolich Ernie Lombardi* Fred Lynn Sherry Magee [...]

Leave a Comment

Partner of USA TODAY Sports Digital Properties