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Baseball Analysis  Michael Hoban, Ph.D

Part 2 - The Players
3000 Hits – All Have Hall of Fame Numbers
500 Home Runs – Sammy Sosa, Odd Man Out
300 Win Shares - The New “Rule of Thumb”
“All In” – Starting Pitchers and the Hall of Fame
The 21st Century Hall of Famers
The 2015 BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot

500 Home Runs – Sammy Sosa, Odd Man Out

Michael Hoban, Ph.D.

We just saw that there are twenty-seven (27) major league players who accumulated 3000 hits during their careers (since 1901) – and every one of them has Hall of Fame numbers according to the CAWS CAREER GAUGE.


The question now is: Is the same true for all the players who hit 500 home runs during their careers?  Do they all have HOF numbers?  And the answer is – not quite.  There is just one player with that many home runs who does not have HOF numbers, Sammy Sosa.  And, of course, he has 609 home runs.


Since 1901, there have been only twenty-six (26) players who have hit 500 or more home runs during their careers.  Here are the CAWS scores for those players.  The number before the player’s name is his CAWS rank compared to all 20th century position players.


All numbers include the 2014 season.

Bold  =  Hall of Famer

Italics  =  Active in 2014

CWS  =  Career Win Shares

CV      =  Core Value (sum of win shares for 10 best seasons)

CAWS  =  Career Assessment/Win Shares  =  CV  +  .25(CWS – CV)


                                                                        CWS               CV               CAWS

 1.  Babe Ruth                        RF                   756                  460                  534     

 2.  Barry Bonds                      LF                   707                  427                  497

 5.  Willie Mays                      CF                   642                  389                  452

 7.  Mickey Mantle                 CF                   565                  399                  441

 9.  Ted Williams                    LF                   555                  394                  434

10.  Hank Aaron                    RF                   643                  356                  428                 

15.  Mel Ott                            RF                   528                  335                  383

17.  Mike Schmidt                 3B                   467                  338                  370

18.  Albert Pujols                    1B                    429                  347                  368

19.  Alex Rodriguez                 SS                    480                  330                  368

20.  Frank Robinson             RF                   519                  316                  367

23.  Eddie Mathews               3B                   450                  333                  362

24.  Jimmie Foxx                   1B                   435                  325                  353

28.  Gary Sheffield                 LF                   430                  305                  336     

30.  Reggie Jackson               RF                   444                  296                  333

33.  Frank Thomas                1B                   405                  301                  327                 

37.  Willie McCovey              1B                   408                  285                  316

39.  Eddie Murray                 1B                   437                  273                  314

45.  Ken Griffey Jr                  CF                   403                  278                  309

52.  Harmon Killebrew         1B                   374                  279                  303

59.  Jim Thome                        1B                   392                  270                  301     

60.  Mark McGwire                1B                   342                  283                  298

64.  Manny Ramirez                LF                   394                  263                  296

72.  Rafael Palmeiro                1B                   387                  257                  290

101.  Sammy Sosa                  RF                    313                  255                  270               

112.  Ernie Banks                  SS                    332                  247                  268                 



Sammy Sosa has 609 career home runs – good for #7 on the home run list.  How is it possible that he does not have Hall of Fame numbers according to the CCG?


Question 1 – How can Ernie Banks have a lower CAWS score than Sammy Sosa but have HOF numbers when Sosa does not?


Ernie Banks was a shortstop and therefore needs a CAWS score of 250 to qualify for HOF numbers.  Banks is the #12 ranked shortstop of the century.  Sammy Sosa was a right fielder and needs a CAWS score of 280 to qualify.  He is the #18 ranked right fielder of the century.


Question 2  -  How is it that with over 600 home runs Sosa did not reach a CAWS score of 280?


To answer this question, we will look at the numbers above as well as the numbers for the next two home run leaders.  Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff have 493 home runs each.


                                                                        CWS               CV               CAWS


13.  Lou Gehrig                     1B                   489                  384                  410

123. Fred McGriff                  1B                   326                  240                  262



If you look carefully at the scores of these 28 players, you will note that the core value (CV) score may be the best indicator of “how good” each player really was. 


Only four of these players have a CV less than 260: Rafael Palmeiro, Ernie Banks, Sammy Sosa and Fred McGriff.  Palmeiro reached HOF numbers primarily because of his career longevity (387 career win shares) plus a very respectable CV of 257.  And Banks was a shortstop as explained above.


Fred McGriff’s CV of 240 tells us that he was a good solid player – but not great.  Likewise for Sammy Sosa.  His CV of 255 tells us that he was a very good player – but not a great player (worthy of the Hall of Fame).  And Sammy’s career win shares of 313 (much lower than Palmeiro’s) were simply not enough to supplement his CV to carry him over the CAWS benchmark of 280 for a right fielder.


So, Sammy Sosa is the odd man out – the only player since 1901 to hit over 500 home runs and not establish obvious Hall of Fame numbers according to the CAWS Gauge.

Michael Hoban, Ph.D is Professor Emeritus of mathematics at the City University of N.Y.  He has been an avid baseball fan for over 60 years and has become a serious baseball analyst, since joining SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) in 1998.  He is the author of five baseball books including:  DEFINING GREATNESS: A Hall of Fame Handbook (Booklocker, 2012)   BASEBALL'S COMPLETE PLAYERS (McFarland: 2000) and FIELDER'S CHOICE (Booklocker: 2003). 

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