Sports Reference Blog

Player and Team Elo Rater Shutting Down

Posted by sean on June 3, 2016

We have decided to remove the team and player Elo Rating pages. We had high hopes for the raters when we launched them but over the years they have too often become a test tube for online campaigns to elevate Dallas Cowboys or push down Los Angeles Lakers to a degree that we don't have any faith that they represent actual general user opinions on the relative quality of players or teams.

These pages will be removed as we launch our redesigned sites this summer beginning with hockey in a week or two.

33 Responses to “Player and Team Elo Rater Shutting Down”

  1. why Says:


  2. Larry Scofield Says:

    I love using the mlb player EloRater! I understand and support your decision to reboot the EloRater pages. It's unclear when the mlb EloRater will be shut down, or how soon it will return. Please keep me informed. I often wonder if there is any accountability built in. I thoroughly enjoy the site as it is, and I'm confident that whatever improvements you make will make it even more enjoyable.

  3. Larry Scofield Says:

    I should add, I like using it for educating myself. I treat the players' names like flash cards and try to recall some of the facts about them and their achievements, and then look to see how well I remembered. I also like the amazing and sometimes surprising insights that come up with many of the side by side comparisons. Thank you for the work that you put into the mlb EloRater!

  4. JW Says:

    'Tis a shame, always liked checking the hockey ratings which seemed to have an active race for #1 Goalie of all-time. And whenever I did vote, always voted responsibly.

    All good things must come to an end, I guess.

  5. daved Says:

    From what I recall about the feature it gave random and often unknown players and never gave any reasoning as to why the players were picked.

    "Unknown" Ted Wallace versus "unheard of" Bill Conner! Who was the better goalie!
    or maybe a lopsided one like Mario Lemieux versus Steve Carpet!

  6. Bruce Gilbert Says:

    I completely agree as to the NBA and NFL eloraters. I stopped voting on those two because it was clear that a significant number of voters were voting for favorites, rather than being objective, regardless of team or player loyalties. However, as to the MLB Elorater, the voters for the most part have done a solid job of voting. A better job than the various Hall of Fame voters have done over the decades in selecting/rejecting various HOF candidates. so, please don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Please reconsider as far as the MLB Elo rater goes.

  7. JS Says:

    I wasn't really interested in the elo rater myself, but this is a classic case of Sean Foreman throwing a hissy fit, then grabbing his ball and going home.

  8. ELO Don Says:

    Noooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The NFL ELO Rater is one of my favorite things in life. What am I supposed to do with the extra 20 minutes of time I will have now that I won't be placing my daily votes? Read a book? Spend time with my family? Watch people knocking each other unconscious on YouTube? Give me more time. I will make the ratings more credible.

  9. Erbrush Mihat Says:

    Aw c'mon, give Bill Hanzlik some love!

  10. Brendan Burke Says:

    It's been a long ride... even if the CFB one in particular had some issues.

    I'll miss the Elo Rater, though I fully expect another site to put one up.

  11. Mark Uyehara Says:

    I agree with Bruce Gilbert in that while the NBA and NFL raters are completely corrupted, the MLB version does a pretty good job in giving credit where credit is due. Perhaps it is the respect for the history of baseball that isn't really present in other sports that keeps the voting on the level. Whatever the reason, in my opinion, it's worth keeping.

  12. Jared Says:

    Not for nothing, but I also loved the player rater -- even the NBA one. How could you even game the player raters? Specific players come up once every hundred or so turns -- is it really worth it to say you dislike Kobe and wait for his name to come up against another great player? Maybe you could limit the number of skips, or votes per minute so people don't always choose the first name?

  13. Jared Says:

    Also good luck on the redesign. I hope that you don't lose any functionality because I access the site from my computer, and it is top notch. No Flash garbage or excessive scrolling, though I understand mobile users have different sensibilities.

  14. JMad Says:


    I love finding random baseball players that I've never heard of and going over their stats and reading their bios. Love comparing two greats and figuring out who is better. I just don't see myself spending the amount of time on the site like I have with the baseball player Elo Rater.

  15. DSMok1 Says:

    I will say, the methodology/information presented was great for the NBA player rater. I'm on the ESPN forecast panel, and we did the all time NBA rank last fall. Their methodology was similar (rank these two players vs. each other) but they didn't have a method to actually show the useful stats on the same page with that choice. It was a pain. Your system here was far superior.

    It could still be useful to have on hand for closed groups or something.

    Good work!

  16. Bill Homans Says:

    Extraneous. This home statistician won't miss it. Baseball Reference has virtually anything I want to know. I employ Bill James Hall-of-Fame-categories theory and rate players just fine. it's a subjective thing, rating. And if I want it in hard copy I use my Baseball Encyclopedia.

  17. David Says:

    Please reconsider. 1) This is entertainment and a great diversion for those passionate about sports. It should not be considered the definitive gospel of greatness. 2) Biases: Just like REAL HOF we have biases too. Great players are not in HOF because they play in small markets/lack media respect while some teams have players in HOF or are 75% there if they put a certain jersey on before they play a game---exaggeration but it is not that far off. (A certain team comes to mind) OTH Some players with much better careers can't get a whiff. 3) Some teams (Cowboys/Lakers/Penguins/Yankees ) and players (Cam Newton/Aaron Rodgers/Ben Roethlisberger/Ray Lewis) are polarizing. We get it, disliking someone makes it less objective. O.J /Darren Sharper/Ray Rice/Ben R./Kobe among others have committed serious crimes that in no way can I ever vote for them, especially if I am limited in votes---not wasting it. This is why I could vote for Shaq and not Bryant (plus personal disdain too)---apparently many feel the same by his rating. BTW I never used NBA rater until today. It's ok, he's mostly an outlier. EX: Alex Rodriquez is a life long cheater who I consider his entire career a fraud so be it. In general I'm against cheaters whose greatness was partially (let's call it) "enhanced".. A certain team in the 70's adopted steroids into their program on a widespread basis and I know who many of them are = no votes for you. It's ok. Other may think no big deal and that is ok too. This is not all black and white, nor should it be. It's passionate fans voicing their opinion.
    When you weed out about 20-25 players that may drop because of who they played for or who they are as a person, the rankings are pretty good. Some players may be rated too high so be it, it is a few handful on every rater.
    Perfect REAL LIFE example: IMO the main four Presidential contenders are HORRIBLE! (I am counting Johnson here) Eight or ten from my party would have been fine with me but others thought differently and this is much more important than an ELO Rater. Despite my horror I can't just quit and make the results disappear. Scoreboard matters and ALL of my favorites and best qualified lost---so be it. However, we don't whitewash the results because people think differently unless you live in some of those 3rd world socialist hell holes we keep lifting up as utopias.
    ELO Rater is just fans speaking with the click of the mouse and it's ok if the results are not to our liking. The people spoke and we accept the results (What a great country that we can have such diversions!) Let's not act like some Politburo and wipe out hundreds of thousands of votes here because some dude in a box (who in real life could care less by the way) doesn't have the amount of clicks on his name that we may otherwise would like to see.

  18. Matthew Harris Says:

    I love the MLB elo rater, I think the ratings are very reasonable and that the public appears to take the MLB player ratings seriously. I think MLB elo rater should stay even if you ditch the others.

    The NBA ratings are ridiculous and often leave me scratching my head. The NFL ratings aren't as reliable as MLB but I think they are considerably better than the NBA ratings.

  19. Jamie Wilking Says:

    I also believe you should reconsider on the mlb elo-rater. From my perspective, the rankings are very believable, and while it is true that some rankings are low because of personal biases, in any ranking you will get that. It continues to be a neat tool for those who like historical comparisons.

  20. tyke Says:

    i love the mlb elo ratings. i have explored some of the other elo ratings on sister sites, and it is obvious that they are full of distortion. however, i feel the mlb elo ratings are generally pretty objective overall, and i would really hate to see it go. i understand the concern with the other sites, but i wish very much that the mlb ratings will somehow stay in the same or similar format!

  21. Chuck Says:

    Usually these fan oriented ratings end up turning into crap, as the Elo Ratings have. If they are replaced in the future, hopefully there is a mechanism in place to find a way to prevent abuse.

  22. Patrick McCabe Says:

    Mr. Forman,

    Nothing can deter your eventual selection to the HOF but ...

    I just spent some pleasant moments with the MLB rankings. I liked seeing Bonds as the 134th best player. And Lajoie & Hornsby well above Bill James's man crush, Joe Morgan. But caps off to Bill that Dwight Evans ranks 61st. Who knew Kid Nichols & Sherry Magee are so deep in the national pschye?

    A favorite website is changed. You get home that evening to find that your house has been re-painted ... In case you read this, I'll pass along a suggestion I've made more than once on those surveys. Please add Wins Produced to your NBA stats. I know Berri, et al. are controversial but will all respect, I ignore Daniel Myers's stats ... Best regards always

  23. Gary Says:

    I hope that you will reconsider. I find the ELO ratings very interesting and one of the items that I look at on your website. I think everyone understands that since they are user rated that the results are highly subjective.

  24. hscer Says:

    Agreed with others. The NFL/NBA ones always looked weird to me (is Peyton Manning in the NFL top 1000 at the moment?) but the MLB ones seem very sensible. It took me eight days to see this announcement, though, so I don't think I will miss them.

  25. Walt Says:

    Bad news. I enjoy the raters, but they have been corrupted. Look no further than the NHL complete rankings. Mark Messier is ranked 82nd.


    This is a clear indication that messier haters flooded the voting. This is a top 10 (possible to 5) player. 82nd.

    Thanks, Vancouver.

    No voting can be left to fans.

  26. Larry Scofield Says:

    The MLB elorater is fine. Complaints seem to be only about the others. If you can build in some added accountability algorithm, good. But please don't take away our mlb EloRater! Even just like it is, everyone loves it.

  27. sleeper54 Says:

    As has already been commented several times . . .

    Please, please, please leave the MLB ELO-rater up..!!

    Other than checking a player's stats or checking a specific game fact . . .the ELO-rater is the MAIN reason i visit here.

    Thanks in advance for coming to your collective senses..!!


  28. Jared Says:

    How about restarting the player raters, but leaving the player names off? Looking at stats and eras should be enough. If you want true objectivity (which is impossible with human users), anyway.

  29. Jeff Says:

    I also hope you reconsider. I love the eloraters, even with the obvious distortions. The distortions are frustrating at times, but the eloraters are one of the main reason I come to your site. You should first look to make some tweaks to improve, rather than shut it down.

  30. David Says:

    BTW: These ratings are listed under frivolities which by definition makes them frivolous. Just like the all-star games which stack rosters full of has-beens and hosing lesser known/less covered better players, they still play the games. I understand the desire to make this a "pure" reflection of who are the "best", but we know democracy is a messy business and is a process, not an end.

    To wit: Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. Winston Churchill

    As to the Elo-Rater:The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. Winston Churchill

    David's Corollary: Though this is true, we still desire to participate in the process.

    Thanks for re-considering!

  31. sean Says:

    If the raters were popular we'd definitely consider keeping them up. But we get dozens of complaints about them and they have only a couple dozen users each day.

  32. T.W. Hess Says:

    " If the raters were popular we'd definitely consider keeping them up. But we get dozens of complaints about them and they have only a couple dozen users each day. "

    It appears you are resigned to giving in to the 'complainers'.


    You have multiple (if not dozens of) comments here asking (if not begging) the feature be retained. But the whiners and the 'hurt feelings' crowd will (apparently) rule the day.

    Sorely disappointed.


  33. Sean forman Says:


    Maybe we can work something out. But we are a business and the elo rater losses us money due to support costs. It's also an opportunity cost of other things we can't do because we have to deal with a lot of shenanigans as people try writing bots to auto vote for Yankees or against Yankees.