Four theories about Hall of Fame voting changes

So I have three – no, wait, just thought of another one, so four – theories about the Baseball Hall of Fame’s decision to reduce the time a player can spend on the ballot from 15 years to 10. I am not opposed to this rule, by the way. I have long thought 15 years was too long for a player to be on the ballot. And I am absolutely for some changes in the Hall of Fame process.

But the Hall of Fame isn’t changing the rule now based on my idle thinking. They are sending a message.

The question is: What is the message?

Before offering my four theories on the message, let’s review. For many years now, the Hall of Fame balloting process has been like so: A 10-year Major League veteran is eligible to go on the Hall of Fame ballot five years after retirement. The ballot is then voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America, which is one of the oldest sports writing groups in America. The BBWAA is, in theory, comprised of writers who covered Major League Baseball for at least 10 years. It is, in practice, a bit more unwieldy. We’ll get back to that later.

Anyway, the BBWAA is independent of the Hall of Fame itself. If a player gets 75% of the BBWAA vote, he is elected into the Hall. If the player doesn’t get elected but gets at least 5% of the vote, he will be retained on the ballot next year – this process lasting up to 15 years. Now, a player cannot be on the ballot more than 10 years.

Here is a list of players who made the ballot AFTER their 10th year:

Bert Blyleven (2011, 14th year)

Jim Rice (2009, 15th year)

Bruce Sutter (2006, 13th year)

Duke Snider (1980, 11th year)

Bob Lemon (1976, 12th year)

Ralph Kiner (1975, 13th year)

Dazzy Vance (1955, 16th year)

Gabby Hartnett (1955, 12th year)

Rabbit Maranville (1954, 14th year)

Bill Terry (1954, 14th year)

Harry Heilmann (1952, 12th year)

What would the Hall of Fame be like without those players? I actually think the question is moot because (1) If the limit was 10 years instead of 15, there’s a pretty good chance that all those players would have gained ground in the voting more quickly and (2) I’m convinced that all of those players would have been elected into the Hall of Fame eventually by one of the Hall of Fame’s countless veteran’s committees.

Now to the theories: Why did the Hall of Fame reduce the years a player can be on the ballot?

Theory 1: Because they don’t want performance enhancing drug users in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Well, this is the one that immediately jumps to the surface: The Hall of Fame leadership has been very coy about the steroid question, tending to hide behind the BBWAA’s staunch and literal reading of the character clause. I have suspected for a while that deep down Hall of Fame management agrees with this staunch and literal reading and does not want known steroid users in its plaque room.

Why not? A couple of reasons. First, much of the Hall of Fame’s mission revolves around a good relationship with its alumni. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Getting elected to the Hall greatly enhances a player’s value as a speaker, as an autograph signer, a fantasy camper and so on. At the same time, the Hall of Fame needs Hall of Famers to come to Cooperstown (and other places) for Hall of Fame events to help keep the Hall vibrant and alive. I think the directors know that the vast majority of living Hall of Famers do not want steroids users in their club.

Second is the embarrassment factor. The last time the Hall of Fame changed a voting rule was 1991, and that was to make sure that no player on baseball’s permanently ineligible list (see: Rose, Pete) should be included on the Hall of Fame ballot. Some in the BBWAA moaned but the Hall acted because even the slight chance of having Rose elected to the Hall was an embarrassment the Hall of Fame could not afford. The Hall of Fame has a close relationship with MLB, but it is a separate entity – the last thing they wanted to do was infuriate the commissioner and other baseball leaders by inducting Pete Rose just after baseball had spent so much effort banning him.

And even beyond that, I think the Hall of Fame saw a Hall of Fame ceremony surrounding Pete Rose as a potential public relations disaster. I suspect many at the Hall see a ceremony surrounding Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds the same way.

By reducing the limit from 15 to 10 years, they are basically eliminating any possibility of players like Mark McGwire (entering his 9th year on the ballot) being elected, and they are SIGNIFICANTLY reducing the chances for players like Bonds and Clemens (each entering their third years). Their only hope, slight as it was, came with time, a decade or more, and voters easing their views on PED use. It wasn’t likely to happen in the dozen or so years they had left. It almost certainly won’t happen now with five fewer years.

But to be honest, I don’t think the steroid users were a prime consideration here. The Hall leadership may not want Bonds or Clemens elected, but it never really looked like they would be anyway. And I don’t think the Hall of Fame directors are manipulative in this way. I’m sure they’re not weeping for Bonds or Clemens, but I don’t believe that was the impetus here.

Theory 2: The Baseball Hall of Fame wants to maintain exclusivity.

This was the instant theory of Graham Womack, among others – that the Hall of Fame is simply making a small adjustment to make sure that the Baseball Hall of Fame stays the most exclusive in all of American sports. There is some credence to this theory because the Hall of Fame made a weird decision to grandfather in Don Mattingly (entering his 15th year), Alan Trammell (14th) and Lee Smith (13th) – none of whom are likely to come close to election — while not making any concessions for players like Tim Raines (8th year), who has been making steady gains.

Raines seems to be the biggest loser in this decision. He has been building momentum and you could see a path for him to the Hall of Fame, but probably not in the next three years. The ballot is already stacked and it is about it add Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz, then Ken Griffey, then Manny Ramirez and Ivan Rodriguez. Raines was always going to get buried the next three years. His hope was to weather the storm and emerge after his 10th year. Now, he won’t have that chance, and that’s a shame.

But, again, I have to say I don’t put much stock in this theory, again for two reasons:

1. I don’t think the Hall of Fame directors are concerned about the Hall of Fame becoming overcrowded (PED use aside). My sense in talking with people who have intimate knowledge about the Hall is that, if anything, the Hall of Fame would like to add MORE players from the last 40 or so years. I know that many in the Hall were very disappointed that Jack Morris, for example, was not elected. I think the Hall would be thrilled if Tim Raines was elected.

2. As you will see in my concluding theory, I believe the Hall of Fame wants to use those five years to elect MORE players, not fewer.

Theory 3: The Hall of Fame wants to clean up some of the BBWAA untidiness.

Now, we are getting to the point. In addition to the 15-to-10-year rule change, the Hall of Fame also announced a couple of smaller changes. They announced that Hall of Fame voters will have to fill out a registration form and sign a code of conduct. This, I must say, is LONG overdue. They also announced that the names of the voters will be released to the public, though the individual ballots will not. This too is a good decision — I would be for releasing everything but I understand the arguments.

I’m going to write a bit from here on out about the BBWAA – this is the very definition of inside baseball talk – and I should begin by saying that I’m a member, and that overall I have very good feelings about the group. There are problems, sure, and the BBWAA is obviously in transition right now. That said, I think the vast majority of BBWAA members take their Hall of Fame vote very seriously and together have gotten most of their votes right. The Baseball Hall of Fame is probably the most respected and talked about Hall of Fame in American sports, and I think the BBWAA has been a big reason why.

And now for the rest … the BBWAA has had its share of embarrassments recently. There was the Dan Le Batard Deadspin ballot and how that whole thing was mishandled. There are several BBWAA voters who are clearly not qualified.

And then there are the times. The BBWAA began as an organization that fought for the rights of baseball writers – this in a time when baseball was the biggest sport in America, and every big league city had several newspapers covering the teams. The BBWAA was there to fight for access, for adequate working conditions, for professionalism in the press box. When the Hall of Fame sprung up as an idea, the BBWAA was not only the best organization to choose the most worthy players it was the ONLY organization. There was no television. Radio was just beginning.

Now? Well, I don’t need to tell you what has happened and what is happening to newspapers. The Internet dominates the landscape. The biggest baseball covering entity in the world, by far, is MLB.com (whose members are not allowed in the BBWAA except when grandfathered in). Even the very act of sports writing is changing – baseball writers are, almost without exception, asked to mix their writing with some blend of video and radio and social media. It becomes harder and harder to tell the difference between so-called writers and so-called broadcasters. And yet the BBWAA never has included broadcasters. It has only recently included non-newspaper writers. At no point have baseball people like Bob Costas, Bill James, Vin Scully or Dan Shulman, among countless others, voted for the Hall of Fame.

It grows harder and harder to explain why.

I think the Hall of Fame would like to tighten up the BBWAA process. The 15-year process has always been clunky. And it’s even harder in today’s world, where everything moves so fast and everything is so magnified. We in the BBWAA spend way too much time arguing about players and leaving them in limbo. And I say that knowing full well that I’m a huge part of the problem. The last five years of the Jack Morris debate became unseemly, and I probably contributed to that more than anyone. I don’t dislike Jack Morris; I just believe that he falls a touch short of the Hall of Fame line. That should have been an easy line to draw. But when you argue that point again and again every year, that line gets blurred. Ten years is plenty. If anything it is too long.

But, I don’t think it stops here. I have one more theory.

Theory 4: The Hall of Fame is setting up for some major changes.

A few years ago, the Hall of Fame created a Special Committee on the Negro Leagues for the purpose of researching black baseball before 1960 and creating a book and an exhibit. It was a noble thing. As part of the process, a screening committee created a 29-person Negro Leagues Hall of Fame ballot made up of players, managers, owners, contributors. The ballot was then voted on by a 12-person voting committee. The voting committee, as far as I’ve been told, had no restrictions – they were free to vote all 29 people if they chose.

They chose to vote in 17 of them – a huge number of people to put into the Hall of Fame at once. But, even in the deluge, they did not vote in the two most prominent people (and the only two living members) on the ballot, Buck O’Neil and Minnie Miñoso. The exclusion of Buck was particularly outrageous because he was such a beloved figure and because – I have been told this by people who would know – getting Buck O’Neil into the Hall of Fame was the biggest reason the Hall of Fame had created these committees and set up this vote in the first place.

When it became clear that voting for Buck was not going well, former commissioner Fay Vincent, who was serving as non-voting chair of the committee, gave an impassioned plea to reconsider. Impassioned but ineffective. Buck still fell short. I’ve heard a hundred reasons for it, none which make much sense to me. But the point is not to rehash Buck’s vote but to point out this: The people at the Hall of Fame felt utterly impotent. This committee they had put together to celebrate baseball had, instead, given them 17 new Hall of Famers almost nobody knew and snubbed the two people fans not only knew but cared about deeply. The announcement came off terribly, and the induction ceremony was a dreary afterthought except for the singing of Buck O’Neil, who graciously agreed to speak on behalf of the Hall of Famers.

Since then the Hall of Fame has put a statue of Buck O’Neil in a place of honor at the museum and created the Buck O’Neil Award, given to those who, like Buck, gave their life to the game.

And I think the Hall of Fame leadership learned a hard lesson: Museum or not, you can’t just give up complete control of your own business.

The Hall of Fame has mostly allowed the BBWAA to do its work with little interference (the Pete Rose thing aside). But they have always kept some control. From the start, the Hall of Fame took responsibility for electing 19th Century players. And, through the years, the Hall of Fame created various veteran’s committees and Negro Leagues committees to put in players overlooked or never voted on by the BBWAA.

And now, I think they want to wrest more control back. By taking away five years of the BBWAA’s voting, the Hall can have their own committees consider players five years sooner. This is why I’m not sure the Tim Raines news is bad – the BBWAA might have voted in Raines by his 15th year but, then again, they might not have. I think Raines’ Hall of Fame fate – like Jack Morris’ – might be better off in the hands of the Hall of Fame and whatever committees they put together.

The Hall of Fame sees what’s happening. They see the world changing. They understand the BBWAA is evolving, baseball coverage is evolving, the idea of baseball credibility (which the BBWAA always provided) is evolving too. The BBWAA will become a very different organization over the next 5, 10, 15, 20 years. I’m not saying the Hall of Fame wants to break their relationship with the BBWAA; I don’t believe that. I think the Hall of Fame very much likes its relationship with the BBWAA. But I do think they see changes coming and want to give themselves options. They have to position themselves for the future.

So, this is my theory: The Baseball Hall of Fame is making some smallish changes now to set itself up for bigger changes soon. I’m sure they would deny this, and I would bet even they don’t know what those changes are. But they’re coming. I think in 10 years, the Hall of Fame will have a more open Hall of Fame voting policy that the BBWAA will have a part in but will not control entirely.

In case anyone cares about what the Hall of Fame voting process could look like, I had some ideas here.

90 thoughts on “Four theories about Hall of Fame voting changes

  1. vinny

    So what’s your problem with all these reason? Not bad I’d say so myself. It’s time baseball clean up it’s reputation and divorced itself from the Steroids era.

    Reply
    1. Matt (@Matt1J)

      LOL. Divorced itself from the Steroid Era? Please. What about the Segregation Era? What about the Greenies Era? You gonna kick everyone that played before Jackie Robinson out since it wasn’t a level playing field? And guys like Mantle and Aaron for using greenies and admitting it? Or Phil Neikro and his spitter? Or Ty Cobb for climbing into the stands and attacking an invalid? This holier-than-thou attitude from some fans make me laugh.

      Reply
      1. Tom

        Guys like Vinny only care about the steroid era and are willfully oblivious to all of the other issues that you’ve raised.

        They’ve honed their hypocrisy by promulgating ridiculous narratives like “taking amphetamines is just about the same as drinking a Mountain Dew.”

        They will insist that a Bagwell and Piazza must have been using, even though there is not one shred of evidence to support those allegations. Ithey operate in the same manner as those who still believe Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was totally responsible for the 9/11 attacks, and will disparage your integrity if you don’t agree with them.

        When we present facts and logic to these people who have already made up their minds, they just raise their voices louder, thinking it will prove their point.

        There just is nothing to be gained by trying to engage in a discussion with them.

        Reply
        1. bellweather22

          Let’s assume you’re right. Pre integration players, greenie users and steroid users should all be treated the same. Are you saying they’re all in or out?

          Reply
          1. bellweather22

            Oh, and throw in bad guys…. Cobb, Anso, et al….and anyone who ever threw an illegal pitch or altered their bat…. Since these also get lumped in with steroid use. Let me know if I forgot anything

      2. Tronan

        Phil Niekro’s spitter? That’s new to me. Are you sure you don’t mean Gaylord Perry? Or perhaps Phil’s brother Joe, who did have a reputation for doctoring the ball (but is not in the HOF)?

        Reply
    2. Donald A. Coffin

      Did you see the recent interview with Tony LaRussa, in which he was asked about steroid use…but not about his own quite evident complicity in it? One need not be a user to be complicit, and the management and ownership in MLB were complicit. Why do they get a pass? If you are seriously honked off about steroids, why should LaRussa slide into the HoF, as he has, without anyone raising the issue of how he ran his clubhouses?

      Reply
      1. bellweather22

        If you think LaRussa, Selig and the owners got a pass, then at minimum, you haven’t been on this site for long. I’d say steroid complicity is one of the biggest stains on LaRussa’s career. He gets in the HOF because, though he looked the other way, he never used himself. I also don’t believe he actively conspired to make sure players used. But, clearly he looked the other way, didn’t care, or both.

        Reply
        1. Donald A. Coffin

          They don’t get a pass from Joe P., or from me. But it seems that some (e.g., vinny) see it only as a stick to beat certain players with.

          Reply
  2. Mike S

    “I know that many in the Hall were very disappointed that Jack Morris, for example, was not elected.”

    Of course they were. What a dreadful organization.

    Reply
    1. jwbiii

      Mike S, You’re missing one the important reasons for the existence of the Hall of Fame. It’s to increase tourism in Cooperstown. Not only for induction weekend, although that is important, but throughout the year. They want Tigers fans to take there kids there and point to Morris’ plaque and say, “Jack was the ace of the ’84 Tigers. Best team there ever was.” They want Blue Jays fans to take their kids there and say, “That seventh game in ’91? Best pitched game I’ve ever seen.” That sort of thing. It’s ok to induct guys like Jacob Ruppert and Deacon White, as they did in 2013, but they don’t attract the visitors that a Jack Morris or a Greg Maddux would.

      It doesn’t hurt that the Clark Foundation owns the best hotel in town, either.

      Reply
      1. Mike S

        I’m not missing it; I just think that they are a joke. If they cared about getting players into the Hall, they’d reform the voting rules and stop enabling the systematic barring of players so much as suspected of using steroids. This is a museum filled with drug users (Eck, Molitor), greenie-poppers (everyone from the 1960′s), and virulent racists (Anson, Cobb, Landis). This weekend, they are feting a guy who beat his wife (Cox) and one with a serious history of DUI (LaRussa). Despite all of this, the best players of this generation are demonized, yet the Hall actively wants a thoroughly unworthy player in because of BS mythology (real Tigers fans would want Trammell or Whitaker in long before Morris). Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens would attract bigger crowds than Morris and are 10x more worthy – its just that baseball prefers to bury its head in the sand than properly deal with this era (and pretending that we have any clue who used or not, or what the effects were, isn’t the right way).

        Reply
        1. bellweather22

          So, you want to exclude greenie users, racists and wife beaters, but are OK with steroid users? Just checking your logic since you like to lump a lot of disparate ideas together.

          Reply
          1. stevemarines

            Read it again, bellweather. Mike wants the best players of the recent era in, not others out.

            You’re making this same comment to multiple users and it’s illogical every time.

          2. bellweather22

            stevemarines: let’s do a logic check. Real logic, not my opinion vs your opinion. The logic argument being made is that: if the HOF has racists, spitballers, wife beaters, greenie users and pre-integration players, then they must also admit steroid users. This equates all of the above to steroid use. Without going into detail, it should be pretty apparent that wife beating, racism and being a pre-integration player have no relation to steroid use. So, we’ll move on to the others. Spit balling and greenie use were forms of cheating, that like steroids, gave the player an unfair advantage. Spit-balling is probably a fair comparison because, if Gaylord Perry’s book is accurate, it took a marginal player to a HOF career. So, in retrospect, I would have had no problem if Perry and Sutton, especially, were excluded at the time for that reason. Moving to greenies, they’re not the same. They’ve been described by some as performance enablers (at most) by many. They didn’t make players hit the ball 20 feet farther, they didn’t make players stronger or faster and they didn’t speed the bat through the hitting zone. There is a lot of debate on whether they helped or hurt. Greenies make a player wired, which a lot of players felt led to a lot of poor on field decision making like getting thrown out on the base paths or missing cut off men. They also created a dependence and up and down energy swings which may have offset some of their benefits. The bottom line logically. Steroids and greenies are not the same. One should make arguments about each independent of the other. If you don’t like greenie use, make the argument. But it will be a different argument than greenies, because the two are not alike except at a very surface level. On the other hand, the benefits of steroids are inarguable. The numbers and the length of HRs are just there. Some will argue that it was a juiced baseball, worse pitching, smaller parks and other factors. Many parks are the same now and then, and pitching goes up and down. But the power outage we’re seeing clearly started when steroid testing began. Players are returning to having more normal sized bodies. The juiced baseball theory is considered fact by some. But there are many, including those that tested the baseballs that call “juiced baseballs” a conspiracy theory not based in fact. There is anecdotal evidence presented about juiced baseballs, but that doesn’t make it fact. It’s possible that the balls were juiced, but it’s not a fact.

            Bottom line though, logically most of the arguments presented are not logical. They equate disparate ideas like racism and steroid use. That perhaps is because a few anti steroids people make the “bad guy” argument. But the main reason steroids are treated the way they are is because they greatly enhanced performance to the point that we don’t know how much was player talent and how much was scientifically enhanced. Do you really believe that Mark McGwire hits 70 HRs, Sammy Sosa has multiple 60 HR seasons, and Barry Bonds hits 73 HRs without steroids? For many of us, we say no. They hit 20-30 fewer HRs without steroids. They’re not the same players with and without steroids. That’s a clear, logical argument with stats and facts to back it up.

            If you agree with all of that and want them on the HOF, that’s your opinion. Just say so, and I can’t knock you for it. I’d just agree to disagree.

          3. edfromyumaaz

            Speaking of lumping different things together, I think putting Bonds and Clemens in the same group as Canseco and McGwire is not jright. Long before he ever used PEDs, Bonds was a great player, a 3 time MVP, a HOF worthy player. Imagine how disgusted he must have been watching Selig and ESPN drooling over people like Sosa and Big Mac. So Bonds showed everyone what would happen if a truly great player used steroids. And he, more than anyone else, caused MLB to crack down on steroids. How much that crackdown was aimed at him personally because he was an arrogant African American is open to discussion.

            Clemens also was a great player before using PEDs. Again if you are a highly competitive individual who feels that your competition is cheating without penalty, then it would be so very tempting to cheat as well.

            If the HOF is to enshrine the very best then Bonds and Clemens deserve to be there.

          4. BIP

            “Bottom line though, logically most of the arguments presented are not logical. They equate disparate ideas like racism and steroid use. That perhaps is because a few anti steroids people make the “bad guy” argument. But the main reason steroids are treated the way they are is because they greatly enhanced performance to the point that we don’t know how much was player talent and how much was scientifically enhanced. Do you really believe that Mark McGwire hits 70 HRs, Sammy Sosa has multiple 60 HR seasons, and Barry Bonds hits 73 HRs without steroids? For many of us, we say no. They hit 20-30 fewer HRs without steroids. They’re not the same players with and without steroids. That’s a clear, logical argument with stats and facts to back it up.”

            For how much you like to consider yourself the voice of logic, you are anything but. Please point me to peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate the exact efficacy of steroids on baseball players’ performance. Oh, you can’t? Then where do you get this “20-30 fewer HRs without steroids” nonsense? Your own handwaving and wishcasting? Hypocrite.

            The bottom line is, we don’t know what effect steroids have had, if any (and no, we can’t rule out the “no effect” possibility, as unlikely as it seems, because that’s what unbiased, logical science requires), and without that information, anti-steroid people don’t have a leg to stand on.

  3. Brian

    “Buck still fell short. I’ve heard a hundred reasons for it, none which make much sense to me.”

    Here’s a reason: he wasn’t a very good player. He was a slick fielding (by reputation) first-baseman who had some years where he hit for a good average, and some years where he did not, and had he basically no power. The numbers on BR, while incomplete, are incredibly unimpressive, and there’s little reason to think his numbers in non-league games, or in the years for which numbers aren’t known, are out of line with that.

    Reply
    1. Doug

      I don’t think the argument for Buck O’Neil is based primarily on his excellence as a player. I don’t think it ever was.

      Reply
    2. Gesge

      Yep. The arguments for Buck O’Neil always boil down to “he was a super nice guy and everybody liked him”, and that’s true, but Buck O’Neil was nowhere near a Hall of Fame worthy player and everyone knows it. That’s why none of these pro-O’Neil articles ever talk about the things he actually did as a baseball player. It seems that the HoF was supposed to induct him because he was a very, very nice man that everybody liked.

      Reply
      1. Fin Alyn

        Because not everybody voted in were being voted in on their baseball stats. Some, like Buck would have been, were being voted in on their contributions to both the Negro Leagues and baseball in general. For that, Buck was surely a HoFamer.

        Reply
      2. jposnanski Post author

        I realize it’s at possible that you are just trolling here and trying to elicit a reaction, But I’m going to treat your comments as if they are honest and you are really making an argument and are looking for a counter-argument. I purposely did not dig up old Buck O’Neil feelings for the article because that wasn’t the point, But I’ll dig up a few here.

        Nobody says Buck O’Neil should have gone into the Hall of Fame because he was a “super nice guy and everybody liked him.” Nobody says that because it’s ludicrous. Buck was a good but not great player, everybody knows that. He was also an outstanding manager in the Negro Leagues. He was also a pioneering scout. He also was the first African American coach in Major League Baseball history, something that does not get nearly the credit it deserves. He also dedicated a half century of his life to keep alive the memory of the Negro Leagues, to get players recognized and inducted in the Hall of Fame, to build the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

        Bill James suggests that doing one thing extremely well always makes a player overrated, and doing many things well always makes a player underrated. You can fill in your own players. Buck O’Neil was a baseball groundbreaker of the highest order for almost three quarters of a century in so many ways that people will miss the whole story, He endured countless forms of racism and discrimination but never stopped contributing positively to the game and helping with the healing process from a long stretch of time when black players were banned from baseball.

        If the plaque room for the Hall of Fame was only filled with great players, then Buck O’Neil would not belong there. But it’s filled with some pretty average players too, and it’s filled with owners, executives, managers, pioneers, mediocre commissioners, not to mention the wing for sportswriters and broadcasters. An argument could be made that Buck O’Neil now has his own statue in the Hall of Fame and an award in his honor, and that’s is more justified than a mere plaque. I’m actually of that opinion myself. But the nice guy who couldn’t play argument is one some of the committee lamely tried to give, and it’s inconsistent with their actions and their mission.

        Thus endeth today’s Buck sermon.

        Reply
        1. bellweather22

          I think it’s fair for someone to believe he wasn’t a good enough player to be in the HOF. I’m neutral on Buck, since all I know about him is from your blog and some limited research I did…. Which obviously didnt turn up impressive results. He’d have to go in as a “game ambassador”, which is a category I’ve never cared about. Jackie Robinson was an ambassador, but his playing career was solid, and it would have been more impressive numbers wise, probably, if not for segregation. On Buck, apparently the same cannot be said. Still, ambassadors get voted in. So, it wouldn’t bother me either way.

          Reply
        2. Gesge

          FWIW I was not attempting to troll. I was stating what I think is a defensible position, that O’Neil is not in the Hall of Fame because he wasn’t a good enough player to be in the Hall of Fame. That’s something that I think even his most die-hard partisans would have to admit, as Joe does above. If the argument isn’t that Buck should go into the HoF because everyone liked him, it seems like the argument is that he should go into the HoF because a lot of other people who probably don’t deserve it got inducted–non-entities like Alex Pompez or objectionable candidates like Bowie Kuhn. This is still not a very good positive case for Buck O’Neil to be in the Hall of Fame.

          Of the arguments that Joe lists above, the one that I find the most convincing is that he was the first black MLB scout. Of course, scouts aren’t inducted into the Hall of Fame.

          Reply
    3. DM

      Well, let’s put it this way…..the committee put in 17 people in 2006. Some were great players that most people familiar with the Negro Leagues would agree were outstanding players, such as Cristobal Torriente, Mule Suttles, Biz Mackey, Ben Taylor, etc. 5 of the 17, however, were identified as “pioneers” or “executives”: Alex Pompez, J.L. Wilkinson, Cum Posey, Effa Manley, I wouldn’t want to argue against any of them, because they all made their contributions and were significant people in the history of the league. But, clearly, just like many others who have made the Hall of Fame, it’s not strictly about being a great player.

      I would tend to agree with the evidence, sketchy as it is, that implies that Buck was not an outstanding player. But when you think of the Negro Leagues, who comes to mind first? Alex Pompez, or Buck O’Neil? The Baseball Hall of Fame contains 33 executives and 10 umpires. Would it have diminished the Hall to have Buck O’Neil in it, or would it enhance it? I say it would enhance it.

      Reply
      1. Breadbaker

        Your last line, to me, says it all. Buck O’Neil did more for baseball than all but a handful of the people in the Hall of Fame. It would be honored by his plaque more than the plaque would honor him. And failing to do it while he was alive (see Santo, Ron) does nothing for the institution. More people would have come to see Buck inducted in person than came to see Buck inducting people they’d never heard of. And that would have been a happy time. Happy times are good.

        Reply
  4. Drew

    As a 30 year old baseball fan, there’s next to no reason for me to go to the Hall of Fame. The best players I grew up watching – the players who made me love the game – aren’t there. They’ve all been labeled as cheaters, whether they actually juiced or not. Why would I want to make a trip to their museum, only to see my generation’s heroes excluded? And the PED guys are only part of the equation – the writers have done an abysmal job of voting in players from the 80s and 90s as a whole, steroids or no. There are significantly more players from the 50s and 60s than the players I saw – that’s a well documented fact.

    Also, I have money. Money that could, theoretically, go to the Hall of Fame. If, of course, there was a reason to go. But there’s not for a large part of my generation.

    The Hall of Fame SHOULD be worried about its future. They can’t expect people my age and younger to spend money at their museum when our heroes aren’t elected. Something has to be done to recognize the greats who played in the 80s and 90s; the current voting trends have to be changed or the museum will die a slow death.

    Reply
    1. David

      THANK YOU! This is a point that I keep bringing up in discussions. I’m just a few years younger than you are. At this point, I’m married, but don’t have kids. But when I DO, do you really think I want to take them to the plaque-room in the museum, for them to ask, “Dad, where are YOUR favorite players from when you were my age?” I’ll have to say, “Oh. A bunch of angry men my dad’s age decided that they didn’t belong, because some of them took steroids.” Yeah… I don’t see how the Hall can seriously think that they’ll be getting much money from me if they’re not going to be inducting the players I enjoyed from my youth. It’s a sad thing, indeed.

      Reply
      1. Nate

        Yup, I’d third that comment. I’m 34, have a couple young kids I’m trying to introduce to baseball, and my generation’s stars are significantly under-represented compared to my dad’s favorites. Hell, even now they continue to add borderline older players as or more often than 80s-90s guys. Jim Rice? Goose Gossage? Come on.

        It’s the same old story of Baby Boomers over-nostalgia of their own childhood at the expense of “those damn kids”. It’s not just HoF stuff, of course, but it’s just another opportunity to glorify their own experiences.

        Until The average age of the BBWAA drops about 10 years, I don’t see it changing.

        Reply
      2. bellweather22

        So Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas aren’t from your era? Or are you just an angry Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro or Clemens fan? The number of legitimately excluded, known steroid users is very small. I am predicting that those who are, probably, being tainted by whisper campaigns such as Bagwell and Piazza will get in soon.

        Reply
        1. Bill Caffrey

          Ha. Bellweather and I agree on virtually nothing about steroids but I think this is exactly right. Thomas, Glavine, Maddux are all the superstars that Nate, David and Drew grew up watching. As are Larkin and Alomar. And Griffey, Pedro, Johnson will be joining them soon (as probably will Biggio, Bagwell and Piazza). With or without Bonds, Clemens, ARod, etc. there are plenty of guys that the 35 and under crowd grew up watching who are or will soon be in the Hall.

          Reply
        2. Drew

          Yes – the PED guys are part of the problem. So too are the guys like Bagwell and Piazza who are casualties despite not actually having done anything.

          Even that aside, it’s well documented that fewer players from the 70s, 80s and 90s have been elected despite there being wider pool of players to choose from. Jim Jaffe and Dave Cameron have written about it at length. So even it you don’t elect anyone with a whiff of PED suspicion, the numbers are still slanted towards the older players, despite the reasonable assumption that with more teams, there should be more HOFers.

          Reply
          1. bellweather22

            Right, the 70s, my era I grew up with, is underrepresented. You don’t see 50 something’s whining that they’ll never go to the HOF because Dale Murphy’s not in there. I mean it took all 15 years to get Bert Blyleven in the HOF despite dominating much of his career. His only crime was playing for crappy teams, and in those days, that meant never being on national TV. I had season tickets and saw too much of him against my Angels. But most people, and probably most voters rarely, if ever, saw him play. The extreme pitchers era of the 70s and the limited national TV exposure was the albatross of the era. We all know the albatross of the 90s.

        3. Django

          Thank you! I’m 43 and most of my favorite players will be in the HOF, as would be true for most fans in their 30s or 40s, unless you just happened to exclusively root for steroid users…which is a pretty interesting Rorschach test of fans when you think of it.

          I far preferred Maddux to Clemens, for example. I’m not saying that all steroid users were jerks, but Bonds, Clemens and A-rod certainly share some unpleasant personality traits, not to mention someone like Lance Armstrong. I’ve always been confused by people would adore athletes like these. Yes, they excelled at their sports, but I prefer good people who are also great athletes.

          In short: if you hadn’t rooted for bad people you wouldn’t be so disappointed now. ;)

          Reply
          1. Berto

            Unless you know these athletes personally, you have no idea if they are good guys. It was once universally known that OJ Simpson was one of the good guys.

          2. Drew

            My favorite player of all time is Barry Larkin (die hard Reds fan here). I was absolutely delighted that he made the Hall of Fame.

            That said, a HOF with Larkin and not Bagwell, Piazza, Edgar, Raines, etc. is a joke. And that’s totally side stepping the PED issue (which has always been simple to me – put them in with a sentence on their plaques saying ‘they were known to have used PEDs which were not tested for or against MLB rules, but now are. There. You’re done.).

            It’s not ‘whining’ to look at the fact that the museum is slanted towards previous generations and decide I’ll spend my money elsewhere. And I don’t think I’m alone in that decision.

    2. Matt (@Matt1J)

      This is actually a very good point. It’s hard enough getting to Cooperstown. I live in NW NJ and it’s basically a 5 hour drive. It’s hard to see tourists visiting the Northeast that might have been willing to take a 2 day detour to see the Hall of Fame when a lot of the guys from the 80′s and 90′s are missing.

      Reply
    3. Fin Alyn

      Hear hear! Also, these old guys need to stop using offensive criteria that’s the same for every position. Catchers, 2B, SS, 3B, these guys don’t hit like a 1B or an OF, so quit holding them to that level of hitting production. 1B and OF for the most part couldn’t play the defense required for those other positions, otherwise they would have been playing there.

      Reply
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  6. athomeatfenway

    Clemens or Bonds would be a PR disaster, alright. The 24 hour news cyclists would lick their chops. Hall of Fame, Hall of Shame. Bonds Election not a Winner with Koufax. Step up & your blood tinged cotton balls on Main Street. Press would eviscerate itself, the voters.

    Reply
  7. George Purcell

    I think they are setting up do do something I’ve advocated for a long time–segment off a range of years for the Steroid Era and tell a committee to pick the best players in that era at the historical rate of HOF election comparing their play/statistics only to other players within the era.

    Reply
  8. TWolf

    Manny Ramirez and Ivan Rodriquez will be added to the ballot in the next few years, but
    they aren’t certain to be added to the HOF soon, especially in the case of Ramirez who has had his drug suspensions. Rodriquez is in the same category as Piazza and Bagwell as far as steroid rumors. He was in Texas with Palmeiro and Canseco. I remember when drug testing was started and Rodrquez reported to spring training much smaller than he had been before.

    Reply
    1. Brett Alan

      Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. The ballot is loaded now, but if they put in three players each of the next two years (far from certain, but not unlikely), that takes care of Pedro, Unit, Smoltz, Griffey, Biggio, and one other, maybe Piazza or Bagwell. The following year, as you say, Manny’s on the ballot, but unless attitudes toward PEDs have changed substantially, he doesn’t get in. (OTOH, if they do change, then we have to find room for, at minimum, Bonds and Clemens.) So you’ve got Piazza and/or Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez, and Raines as the top candidates for 2017. That’s really not so bad. This might actually work out well for Raines.

      Reply
  9. Michael Green

    Ah, one of the beauties of baseball: arguments. A few points:

    –A few years ago, the Hall of Fame tried something new with the Veterans Committee: including all of the living Hall of Famers, including the broadcasters. At some point, Reggie Jackson declared unto all that only players should be in the Hall of Fame, so he opposed the inductions of the likes of Marvin Miller, who obviously changed the entire game in significant ways, and Doug Harvey, of whom it would be fair to say that if Reggie hit as well as he umpired, Jackson would have had a lifetime average of .900. So however the voting is set up, it brings to mind Winston Churchill’s dictum that democracy is the worst form of government, except for the others.

    –Joe gets to the point when he talks about the living Hall of Famers returning. Years ago, Jon Miller told an interviewer that he suspected that they wouldn’t return if Pete Rose were being inducted; it isn’t hard to guess that Miller’s source for that was Joe Morgan, who also has been deeply involved in the Hall of Fame and whose emotions would understandably be mixed. Should that be the standard? Yes and no. The yes part is that they are, after all, the Hall of Famers, and their judgment deserves some respect.

    –The no part is that the system always has been political. Ted Williams reportedly dominated the Veterans Committee when he was on it, and that helped get Bobby Doerr in, as well as some others. Larry MacPhail didn’t get in until after he died, and the belief is that the hatred that Warren Giles of the Veterans Committee felt for him, having had to follow him into Cincinnati and deal with him as an executive, was the reason. Most knowledgeable people would say that Al Barlick was a greater umpire than Jocko Conlan, but Conlan was a former player with more years in the game and, importantly, more popular with the media. So Conlan got in 15 years before Barlick (and Conlan praised Giles in his autobiography while Barlick made clear that he couldn’t stand him). Should politics be involved? Of course not. But they are.

    –Buck O’Neil deserved to be in the Hall of Fame for a lifetime of achievement. On his merits, and when you consider the merits of other inductees. Two words: Bowie Kuhn. Two more words: Barney Dreyfuss. If there’s room for them, there’s room for Buck.

    Reply
    1. bellweather22

      One correction. Joe Morgans views aren’t mixed. He’s come out repeatedly in favor of Pete Rose being in the HOF, though he’s not crazy about Rose’s antics.

      Reply
      1. brian s

        I don’t know about Morgan one way or the other, but Johnny Bench has come out unequivocally against Rose’s induction.

        Reply
      2. Michael Green

        I follow you, but I think Morgan’s emotions would be mixed, knowing what the reaction of the other Hall of Famers would be. Then again, I didn’t see Morgan there today.

        Reply
        1. bellweather22

          You think Morgans emotions would be mixed, but Morgan himself isn’t hedging his bets. He believes Rose should be in the HOF. I agree more with Johnny Bench on this one, who as noted above, is very anti Rose. However, a lot of people think the issue is less around Bench being upset at Rose’s gambling and is something more personal between the two. It’s no secret that the two despised each other during their playing days. There were some interesting dynamics in the Big Red Machine’s clubhouse. Probably Sparky Anderson deserves more credit for keeping a lot of that out of the media and helping drive the success of that very talented team.

          Reply
          1. Michael Green

            Bellweather, I should have been clearer. Morgan believes Rose should be there, but I think he understands what an uproar is likely to follow–and Johnny Bench is Exhibit A, since I expect he’d stay home on induction day. I doubt that Morgan would really want the controversy, but he has his principles and so does Bench, and I applaud them for sticking to their guns, whether or not I agree with them.

            By the way, I read this about Sparky. On the first day of spring training, he would greet the team and say that some managers claim they have one set of rules and treat everybody alike. Then he’d say there are three guys here today, and name them–Rose, Bench, and Morgan. He’d say they’re going to the Hall of Fame and they’ll be treated differently. Prove to me that you’re going there, too, and I’ll also treat you differently. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s certainly an interesting take.

  10. Blake

    Several of the players who got in after their 10th year are among the most marginal HoFamers.

    Jim Rice, Bruce Sutter, Ralph Kiner, Rabbit Maranville: They are on most people’s lists of players that don’t really belong. Rice may be on top of that list.

    Rice and Sutter both got in because it took more than 10 years for the false narrative of their importance to spread.

    Reply
    1. Ian R.

      Eh. Kiner’s career was very short, but it was also absolutely brilliant. I mean, the guy led the league in home runs seven times in a row. His 49 career WAR is low for a Hall of Famer, but his 36 WAR peak from 1947 to 1951 is right in line with most Hall of Fame outfielders.

      I do agree on the other three guys you mentioend, but remember the 10+ years crowd also includes Bert Blyleven, one of the 20 or so greatest pitchers of all time, and Duke Snider. I don’t know of anyone who’d argue that Duke Snider doesn’t belong.

      Reply
    2. Ron Warnick

      I’m inclined to think Bruce Sutter got in the HOF partly as an innovator. He, more than any other person, brought the split-fingered fastball into pitchers’ arsenal — the effects which are still being felt widely in the game to this day.

      He also was the most-feared reliever of his era. But you probably already know this.

      Whether Sutter’s innovation to the game was widely considered in his election, I have no way of knowing for certain. But I have to think it was a factor — especially when you see all the pitchers still throwing it today.

      As for Kiner, I’ll defer to Ian’s sound rebuttal.

      Reply
  11. MCD

    In general, I like the reduction from 15 to 10. However,I think this is the one point in history where the 15 years was beneficial, as it allowed more time the PED question shake out.

    I think a good compromise might have been let the players retiring in 2014 get 10 years and the already on the ballot have 15 years or 2024, whichever comes first.

    Reply
  12. Richard Aronson

    The Hall of Fame is a museum that concentrates on baseball. Every other museum I’ve visited (easily a couple of hundred) shows the lifespan of its topic. The Hall of Fame does not.

    I am not a fan of Jack Morris entering the HOF, and I’ve said so publicly. But some of the comments above forced me to consider: if a museum documents its history, and if the history of baseball focuses on individual achievements (seasonal or career records) and team ones (playoff and World Series) then I am forced to admit: Jack Morris is a fairly substantial part of the history of baseball. He had a major effect on three postseasons, going 3-0 (with two WS wins) for the 1984 Tigers, then 4-0 for the 1991 Twins (another two WS wins, including perhaps doing more for winning game seven than any other player in any other World Series), and then losing two games for the Jays in 1992. That’s history, a lot of history. And for a parent coming to Morris’s plaque (if he had one) it’s real easy to tell the kid, “He pitched the best game seven of the World Series ever.” He is historical, he is famous: is that not museum worthy?

    The large number of Jack Morris fans who would come to his induction or decide to visit Cooperstown over the years is another added benefit.

    Reply
    1. Ian R.

      You do realize there’s a museum portion of the Hall of Fame in addition to the plaques, right? And players who accomplished great things but haven’t been inducted are honored there? And that it covers the entire history of baseball, right up to the present?

      The Hall of Fame could quite easily put up an exhibit honoring Morris’ impact on those three postseasons without inducting Morris as a player, in much the same manner as they’ve honored Kirk Gibson’s incredible home run without inducting him as a player.

      Reply
  13. mrpinkfloyd71

    Wow, I’ll be extremely impressed if the HOF actually ends up taking a percentage of the voting power from the BBWAA. I feel like the only organization that moves/changes at a slower pace than MLB is the HOF. After all, they only gave the writers 5 decades to get off their high-horse.

    Reply
    1. Donald A. Coffin

      The writers have already lost a share of their voting power, and did a long time ago, when the various Veterans’ Committees began to be set up. If I recall correctly, more than half the inductees into the HoF have been VC selections.

      Reply
  14. MisterMJ

    The HOF voting changes could very well be in response to the PED users (accused or otherwise) but it’s very naive for them to think that they’ll keep all the steroid users out. Anabolic steroids have been around and used by elite athletes since the 1950s. I remember there was a survey taken in 1984 asking Olympic athletes if they had used steroids and also how easy it was to get them and the percentages for both were in the 60-70% range, which is remarkable.

    To think that PEDs in baseball was introduced into the clubhouses by a specific evil person (let’s say Canseco) on a specific date (beginning in the late 80s) and then contaminated the pure and good game of baseball and betrayed the innocent fans, executives, media, etc. … might want to touch up on history.

    I know it’s tough to prove at this point but I wouldn’t be shocked if a dozen or so players already IN THE HALL OF FAME used steroids or other form of comparable PED during their careers. Free agency became a reality in MLB before the 1976 season. THAT massive game-changer would be a more appropriate and reasonable start date for baseball’s love affair with PEDs.

    Reply
  15. guybushsghost

    I don’t believe in any Hall of Fame that has never had an unanimous vote to allow someone in. So NO ONE has been good enough that everyone voting believes they should be in?

    Reply
  16. Rick Rodstrom

    I think what scared the HOF was last year’s vote when nobody got in, and certain writers made it clear that they will not vote in anybody who was even suspected of steroids (one writer went so far as to say he wouldn’t vote for anybody who played during the steroid era). The 75% threshold for induction is absurdly high as it is, and knowing that a block of writers would be automatic no votes made it increasingly likely that there would be many more years when nobody made the cut.

    Simply as a business, the Hall of Fame realizes that there needs to be a class of living Hall of Famers elected every year or people will start tuning it out. They don’t care so much for the arguments of who or who doesn’t belong so long as somebody gets elected. The writers have made it clear that there’s a generation of players who have little chance of getting in under the current arrangement. So the sooner the Hall can get players off the writers ballots, and into the hands of someone who is likely to induct them, the better it is for everybody.

    Reply
    1. Patrick Bohn

      Rick– That writer who said he wouldn’t vote for anyone who played during the steroid era voted for Jack Morris. Considering McGwire and Canseco were stars in the league by the late 1980s, and Morris pitched until 1994, I think that was more about Morris than steroids.

      Reply
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  19. Patrick Bohn

    I think Snider, who was obviously HOF caliber in his peak but essentially done by 30, had a pretty logical candidacy. A WAR of 66.5 puts him in the range with guys like Kenny Lofton, Carlos Beltran, Andruw Jones, and Andre Dawson.

    He might be a HOFer, but I don’t think he’s so obvious that the 10-year waiting period was a huge shocker.

    Reply
    1. DM

      Hi Patrick,

      Interesting points on Snider. I never really looked that closely at his particular WAR figure before. I’ve gotten so used to the the mindset that, when we think of great center fielders, he’s typically the first one to be mentioned just after the consensus “cream of the crop”, those of course being Mays, Mantle, Cobb, Speaker, DiMaggio, and Griffey Jr. (and, of course, Oscar Charleston, assuming that we’re not limiting the discussion solely to MLB). I think Snider has kind of acquired a status of “well, he’s not quite as good as the others, but he’s maybe just a notch below”.

      I’d have to say looking at it a little more closely, though, that I tend to agree with you. As a career, his overall value rates similar to Lofton (although of a much different type), Beltran, Jones, and Dawson, plus one additional name I’d suggest, and that’s Jim Edmonds, I know that similarity scores have to be taken with a grain of salt, but Edmonds is Snider’s #1 “comp”, and in this case, I think it’s a darn good comp. Their numbers compare very well across the board, although I think Snider was better. At his peak (basically ’53-’56), he was VERY good, with 4 straight years of serious MVP-level value.

      I hadn’t really looked at his post-30 decline very closely until you mentioned it, but it is interesting that his comp list for his WHOLE CAREER include (in addition to Edmonds, Beltran, and A. Jones) the likes of Ellis Burks, Larry Walker, Dale Murphy, Jim Rice, Bob Johnson, Moises Alou, and Lance Berkman. Good players all, but the only one in the HOF so far is Rice, who’s generally considered to be one of the more borderline selections. And, while Beltran, Jones, Edmonds, and Berkman aren’t eligible yet and will be interesting candidates, none of them are slam dunks. I thihk Beltran has a pretty decent shot once all is said and done, but right now he is far from certain.

      Your observation about Snider’s post-30 decline is especially interesting though, because when you look at his comp list THROUGH age 30, it’s a much different list than his career one – it includes Mays, F. Robinson, E. Murray, Cepeda, Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez, V. Guerrero, Juan Gonzalez, and Dick Allen (Jim Rice is on this one too). That’s a much more impressive list (some might also describe it as much more controversial too, and that’s certainly true), and indicative of the kind of career potential that he was tracking towards. However, after 30 the team moved to LA, Snider started missing a lot of time, and his value really tailed off to the point where his career value was closer to the players you mentioned.

      Reply
      1. Patrick Bohn

        DM– Lofton’s probably a bad comp because he was such a different type of player, whose key skills are often undervalued in HOF voting. Still, he got just 2.3%

        Edmonds has no shot (though he should), IMO. Traditionalists will see fewer than 2,000 hits, not quite 400 HR, and “just” four 100-RBI seasons. (I know RBI are worthless as a player value indicator, but that doesn’t mean voters do) And honestly, the defensive metrics probably show he was overrated as a fielder. Good, but certainly not as good as eight gold gloves may suggest.

        I think Beltran will fare better in the voting, maybe because of his postseason rep, but maybe just because the sabremetric crowd will appreciate his all-around game, and he’s still got an outside shot at 400 HRs, which should please traditionalists.

        Jones’ career blows my mind. After his age 29 season, he had 342 home runs and 1,556 hits. He was coming off 51- and 41-homer seasons. I remember thinking he had an outside shot at 600 career home runs and 3,000 hits. He got less than 400 hits the rest of his career. I’ve never seen anything like it. I honestly thought he had a shot to be one of the greatest ever. That sounds insane, but given his defensive ability, wouldn’t even a 500 HR, 3,000 hit career put him in some really rare air?

        Reply
        1. DM

          Hi Patrick,

          I agree that Andruw Jones is certainly one of the more intriguing players of recent times, beginning with when he burst on the scene as the youngest to ever homer in the postseason, and then hitting HR’s in his first 2 World Series AB’s when he was only 19. As I recall, I think he and Gregg Jefferies are the only players to win two Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year awards. Anyone who was a baseball fan in the mid-to-late ’90′s certainly remembers the attention and adulation that Jones received from a very early age.

          He was certainly one of those players for whom both defensive metrics and subjective observations agree. From early on, Jones got a lot of attention for his defense, and a consensus quickly developed that he could become one of the all-time greats. Starting with his 2nd full-time season (age 21), he won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves – only Mays and Clemente won more Gold Gloves in their career among outfielders (Griffey Jr., Kaline, and Suzuki also won 10).

          If you’re a fan of defense metrics, it looks to me like he’s off the charts. Near as I can tell, he’s the #1 outfielder on things like Total Zone Runs and dWAR. I mean, I don’t really know how reliable those are, and I don’t know for sure that he was really all that much better than, say, Paul Blair, Garry Maddox, Curt Flood, or any of the other truly great defensive center fielders of the last 50 years or so, but I’d have to say that he struck me as being about as impressive as you can be in center field. It may be sacrilege to even suggest it, but he MIGHT even have been as good as Mays defensively.

          In addition, how many center fielders were able to combine outstanding power and stellar (emphasis on “stellar”, not just good) defense in center field? Perhaps only Mays, possibly Griffey Jr and Andre Dawson if you only count their early years, which for Griffey would be defined as his Seattle years, and for Dawson his first 7 years, before he shifted to right. And, even at that, I don’t think either of those 2 were as good defensively as Jones. Really, there have been very few to excel at both those skills.

          Through age 29, he already had 342 HR’s, the same amount as Aaron and Ott. The only ones with more were A-Rod, Griffey Jr., Foxx, Mathews, Mantle and Pujols. Not too shabby. He seemed to have one foot in the HOF, but it all came crashing down after that.

          Like you said….quite a career.

          Reply
  20. Brian Fowler

    Not to be a jerk, but I literally don’t know anyone who actually respects the Baseball Hall of Fame. Pretty much every person I know, both in real life and online, who considers it at all, views it as an outmoded, outdated joke. Most talked about is probably true, but most respected seems like the opposite of the reality I know. Most of the talk about it is about how bad it is.

    Reply
  21. Chris H

    Assume that in any given year, about 10 “serious” candidates become eligible for the Hall of Fame – players that you might debate, but that you could make a serious argument for. And every year, ten serious candidates roll off the ballot, either by virtue of being elected the previous year or by aging out.
    With an eligibility period of fifteen years, each writer’s ten votes are divided among about 150 candidates. So each serious candidate will receive, on average, 1/15 of a vote per voter. (In reality, the actual number would be lower because some voters will not use all their votes, and others will spend votes on sentimental favorites who don’t stand a chance of being elected, like Albert Belle).
    If the eligibility period is reduced to ten years, then a writer’s ten votes are divided among only 100 candidates, and each candidate gets, on average, 1/10 of a vote per voter. In theory, this should result in more votes for each candidate, and presumably a higher number reaching the 75% threshold each year. It seems to me that through sheer mathematics, the HOF has increased the likelihood of players reaching the threshold.
    To look at it another way, all the votes spent on someone like Jack Morris in his last five years on the ballot would (or could) now be spent on other players, pushing them closer to the threshold.
    There may be something of a transition period over the next few years, and players like Tim Raines are probably still jobbed. But this may be a subtle way of addressing the issue, that several readers have raised, that a lower percentage of good players are elected since the pool has been so much larger in the past thirty years.
    (I haven’t tried to do the actual math on this, and certainly haven’t used real numbers, so I welcome either a more exact accounting of the above or any corrections.)

    Reply
  22. RW

    I get so sick of people trying to equate spitters and greenies to steroids. If one were to compare the relative seriousness of the offense, I’d say spitters, corked bats, and greenies are like driving with a suspended license; gambling on the game would be more like tax fraud; and PEDs would be closer to murder. A guy on greenies is still a human being, and likely a jittery, ball-bobbling one at that. A guy on PEDs? We all saw Bonds in his later years: the guy was a mutant! PEDs allow for inhuman accomplishments, and I’m not in favor of admitting freaks and monsters to the Hall of Fame.

    Reply
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