Simulation: Hall of Famers vs. non-Hall of Famers

Updated: January 8, 2007, 1:15 PM ET
ESPN.com

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.

Diamond Mind
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.

But do they really belong in Cooperstown? And are they any better than some of the players whose faces are already emblazoned in bronze within the Hall's inner sanctum?

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
Total: 471

Non-Hall of Fame team ("Mortals") wins:
• Four games: 74
• Five games: 178
• Six games: 153
• Seven games: 124
Total: 529

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:

NON-HALL OF FAMERS
"Mortals"
HALL OF FAMERS
"Immortals"
PLAYER POS. MOST VOTES PLAYER POS. ELECTED
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
PITCHER THROWS MOST VOTES PITCHER THROWS ELECTED
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
Johnny
Vander Meer
LH 29.79% (1967) Early Wynn RH 1972