Simulation: Hall of Famers vs. non-Hall of Famers
The same passionate arguments are made this time every year -- for Pete Rose, for Jim Rice, for Bert Blyleven, and many others. And year after year, the same players are denied entrance into baseball's most exclusive fraternity, the Baseball Hall of Fame. They're either snubbed, banned, discounted or forgotten.
The simulations were done using the Diamond Mind Baseball software, which was developed by renowned baseball statistics expert Tom Tippett. He started developing Diamond Mind more than 20 years ago and has been refining it ever since. Diamond Mind is now widely regarded as the most sophisticated and realistic baseball simulation software and was named PC Magazine's "Editor's Choice" for pc-based baseball software.
Each year, the Diamond Mind team uses the software to predict the upcoming MLB pennant races and successfully picked five of the six division winners in 2006. Diamond Mind is now owned by Simnasium, Inc., a Silicon Valley-based Internet company developing multiplayer online simulation games, including Total Baseball, an online baseball management game utilizing Diamond Mind that it launched last year.
Here's one way to find out: Assemble the best team of players not in the Hall of Fame (called the "Mortals") and pit it against a team of Hall of Famers (called the "Immortals"). Just for fun, ESPN.com put together two 25-man rosters (15 position players, 10 pitchers) and, relying on the simulation expertise of Diamond Mind Baseball, manufactured a mythical Hall of Fame Series.
Players on the non-Hall of Fame team met at least one of the following criteria:
• They received 25 percent of the vote at least once when they appeared on the writers' ballot.
• They are on baseball's ineligible list.
• They are first-time eligible players who aren't considered locks to be voted into the Hall this year.
Based on those eligibility requirements, Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson were awarded roster spots on the non-HOF team, along with several players on this year's ballot -- Rice, Blyleven, Goose Gossage, Andre Dawson, Don Mattingly, Jack Morris, Lee Smith and Mark McGwire.
The only requirement for inclusion on the Hall of Fame team was that each player had to be voted into Cooperstown by the writers, not by the Veterans Committee. Otherwise, to be fair, an effort was made to keep the most elite Hall of Famers off the team -- players like Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Lou Gehrig, Walter Johnson, Mickey Mantle, and so on.
To determine the champion of this mythical Hall of Fame Series, the two teams played a seven-game series, using a four-man rotation (going in the same order -- righty, lefty, righty, lefty). The only other guideline was that the position players serving as backups for one game had to be in the starting lineup for the next game.
Using career-based ratings for each player, Diamond Mind simulated the series 1,000 times -- with the non-Hall of Fame team winning 529 times. The outcomes were distributed as follows:
Hall of Fame team ("Immortals") wins:
• Four games: 74
• Five games: 96
• Six games: 154
• Seven games: 147
Non-Hall of Fame team ("Mortals") wins:
• Four games: 74
• Five games: 178
• Six games: 153
• Seven games: 124
To further reflect the closeness of the matchup, there were a total of 5,701 games played. The Hall of Fame team won 2,740 games (.481 winning percentage), while the non-Hall of Famers won 2,961 games (.519).
There's probably a strong statistical reason why the most common outcome was a non-Hall of Fame series victory in five games, but we decided to choose a non-Hall of Fame win in seven games as the representative series, along with its box scores and final stats.
Following are the rosters for the two teams:
|Ken Boyer||3B||25.53% (1988)||Luis Aparicio||SS||1984|
|Andre Dawson||OF||60.96% (2006)||Lou Brock||OF||1985|
|Joe Gordon||2B||28.53% (1969)||Gary Carter||C||2003|
|Hank Gowdy||C||35.86% (1955)||Carlton Fisk||C||2000|
|Gil Hodges||1B||63.37% (1983)||Willie Keeler||OF||1939|
|Joe Jackson||OF||Ineligible||Rabbit Maranville||SS||1954|
|Harvey Kuenn||SS/OF||39.34% (1988)||Eddie Murray||1B||2003|
|Roger Maris||OF||43.01% (1988)||Tony Perez||1B||2000|
|Don Mattingly||1B||28.16% (2001)||Kirby Puckett||OF||2001|
|Mark McGwire||1B||First-time eligible||Brooks Robinson||3B||1983|
|Tony Oliva||OF||47.31% (1988)||Ryne Sandberg||2B||2005|
|Jim Rice||OF||64.8% (2006)||Duke Snider||OF||1980|
|Pete Rose||UTL||Ineligible||Willie Stargell||OF/1B||1988|
|Ron Santo||3B||43.13% (1998)||Pie Traynor||3B||1948|
|Maury Wills||SS||40.65% (1981)||Dave Winfield||OF||2001|
|Bert Blyleven||RH||53.3% (2006)||Don Drysdale||RH||1984|
|Goose Gossage||RH||64.61% (2006)||Catfish Hunter||RH||1987|
|Tommy John||LH||29.61% (2006)||Phil Niekro||RH||1997|
|Jim Kaat||LH||29.55% (1993)||Herb Pennock||LH||1948|
|Mickey Lolich||LH||25.53% (1988)||Red Ruffing||RH||1967|
|Jack Morris||RH||41.15% (2006)||Warren Spahn||LH||1973|
|Johnny Sain||RH||33.98 (1975)||Don Sutton||RH||1998|
|Lee Smith||RH||45% (2006)||Dazzy Vance||RH||1955|
|Luis Tiant||RH||30.91% (1988)||Hoyt Wilhelm||RH||1985|
|LH||29.79% (1967)||Early Wynn||RH||1972|
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Hall of Fame Series
In a clash for respect, the Mortals earned it, beating the Immortals in a thrilling seven-game series that came down to the final out. Mark McGwire, whose dramatic three-run blast in Game 7 was the difference, led all hitters in the series with five home runs and 10 RBI to earn MVP honors. Check out Diamond Mind's box scores and play-by-play for each game below.
Batting | Pitching
• Game 1: Mortals 7, Immortals 4
McGwire's two-run homer in the first backed Bert Blyleven, who pitched a complete game for the victory. Duke Snider had two HRs for the Immortals.
• Game 2: Immortals 9, Mortals 3
The Mortals broke the game open with a four-run fourth, behind Rabbit Maranville's two-run shot. Warren Spahn got the win, striking out eight in eight innings.
• Game 3: Immortals 8, Mortals 0
Shortstop Maury Wills committed three errors, all coming during the Immortals' five-run third inning. Meanwhile, knuckleballer Phil Niekro was brilliant, tossing a four-hit, complete-game shutout.
• Game 4: Mortals 8, Immortals 1
Jim Rice led the Mortals' 13-hit attack with three hits and three RBI, and Jim Kaat shut down the Immortal bats with a complete-game four-hitter to even the series.
• Game 5: Mortals 9, Immortals 0
Blyleven went the distance for a three-hit shutout, earning his second win of the series. Hank Gowdy clubbed a three-run homer to pace the mighty Mortals.
• Game 6: Immortals 8, Mortals 4
The Immortals took advantage of four Mortal errors to score five unearned runs. Kirby Puckett slugged a two-run homer, and Spahn took home his second victory.
• Game 7: Mortals 4, Immortals 3
It was the McGwire show. Down 2-1 and only four outs from defeat, McGwire crushed a dramatic three-run shot off Niekro, his second of the game to account for all four Mortal runs. Making his only appearance of the series, Goose Gossage capped the Mortals' series triumph by striking out Lou Brock looking with two runners on in the ninth.