For those who like to wade into the statistical weeds of baseball – to analyze player performance using today’s advanced metrics – “The Cooperstown Casebook” delivers. Author Jay Jaffe, who once introduced a Hall of Fame candidate evaluation system known by its acronym of JAWS, fills 400 pages with analyses meant to objectively measure the worthiness of both Hall of Famers and wannabe candidates to the upstate New York baseball shrine.
Here’s an excerpt from The Cooperstown Casebook:
“You can’t discuss the Baseball Hall of Fame in the twenty-first century – let alone write a book about it – without addressing the topic of performance-enhancing drugs, even if doing so presents a prospect only slightly more fun than being spiked by Ty Cobb.
“The full extent to which anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, and stimulants altered the on-field performances not only of hitters but of pitchers will never be known, as it’s impossible to create a definitive list of who used what and for how long, and no direct studies were ever designed to determine the ways the such drugs could alter baseball-specific actions. What is inarguable is the PEDs altered perceptions of the game among both fans and media, introducing levels of anger and cynicism that inevitably spilled over into Hall of Fame debates. Voters introduced previously unseen levels of moral judgment into the process, as candidates were evaluated not only on the strength of their accomplishments” but their authenticity – whether they did it ‘the right way.’ ”