A Course Correction for Cooperstown

This proposal would bring radical changes to Cooperstown. (via Dan Gaken & Howell Media Solutions)

This proposal would bring radical changes to Cooperstown. (via Dan Gaken & Howell Media Solutions)

Editor’s Note: This is the first post of “Hall of Fame Week!” For more info, click here.

If you’re unfamiliar with the many very good reasons for reforming the electoral process of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, then I urge you to pick up a copy of Bill James’ The Politics of Glory, the gold standard on the subject. Even so, you may take interest in some of the proposals that follow.

Summarizing the need for reform can be best put thusly: The current process does a poor job electing any but the highest tier of candidates because it does not have a system designed to sort the wheat from the chaff. This inefficiency historically has created a massively large gray area between the worst inductees in the Hall of Fame and the (superior) top candidates who remain on the outside. This inconsistency is further exploited by the boom-bust cycle of inductions created by institutional rule changes and an electorate unschooled in the traditional levels of excellence honored by their predecessors.

The first step in any reform should be to lay out what the objectives of said reform are. To wit, I propose the suggestions below seek the following aims:

  • To better identify the top candidates for the Hall of Fame.
  • To maintain a rate of inductions more closely aligned with the Hall’s longer history.
  • To guarantee inductions each year in order to spur public interest in attending the induction ceremony.
  • To reduce idiosyncratic voting and imposition of voters’ personal opinions over the rules.
  • To substantially increase the knowledge base and expertise of the electorate.
  • To make the process transparent and the voters more accountable.
  • To permit the fans to participate in the electoral process.
  • To create additional opportunities to educate people about the history of baseball.

The Front Door: The Contemporary Players Election

The first step is to define what is being voted on, rather than who is doing the voting. The “BBWAA Election” will henceforth be renamed the “Contemporary Players Election.” This also opens the door to the future inclusion of broadcasters, authors, bloggers, team and league officials, managers, coaches and players in the electorate. Over time, perhaps a rotating term system with a fixed number of voters could be adopted. Reestablishing that this election belongs to the Hall of Fame and not to any one voting body is a painless start in the right direction.

I will return to the Contemporary Players Election, but for now suffice it to say that only players who retired six to 15 years ago are eligible for consideration. As is currently the rule, only players who last played in the 2001-2010 time period are eligible for the 2016 election.

What about the thousands of guys who played before 2001, you ask?

The Back Door: The Historic Players Election

Collectively known as the “Veterans Committee” in all its formats, the Hall of Fame always has had a second electorate for players who retired a really long time ago. There is a lot of sense in doing this as new information – and new ways to look at existing information – are developed all the time. Of course this isn’t the centerpiece of the induction ceremony except, perhaps, for the odd historian, but it nevertheless is an important feature of the election cycle.

The present-day version of this collective is actually a trio of triennial committees, each responsible for a particular epoch in the game’s history. The existing format of a dozen or so people voting in person at baseball’s winter meetings shall be retained, though people with more scholarship and less game experience shall be rotated into the committee over time.

Unlike the existing committees, this revamped single committee – the “Historic Players Election” – to elect former players will not be tasked with electing managers, executives, umpires or other non-players.

The Non-Players: The Contributors Election

All these managers, executives, umpires and pioneers shall be considered by a separate electorate at the winter meetings in similar fashion as the historic players, but with particular expertise on the history of the sport off the field. Negro and Cuban League contributors also shall be eligible in this “Contributors Election.” Additionally , eligibility shall be extended to all contributors both contemporary and historic.

Assembling the Ballot: A New Screening Committee

The BBWAA has acted as the screening committee for both its own elections and the various veterans elections, most recently under the guise of the Historical Overview Committee. BBWAA elections demonstrate easily preventable errors, and veterans elections showcase demonstrable bias. The process is best served by removing the BBWAA from the process of compiling either ballot. Giving the screening process for both historical elections to the most knowledgeable group of baseball scholars on the planet – the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) – makes far greater sense for all involved. (It should be noted that there are people who belong to both the BBWAA and SABR.)

SABR is more than capable of coming up with a fair and objective way to develop a list of the best available candidates for those elections. A fixed number of annual candidates will give voters plenty to examine prior to casting their vote. Thirty players and 15 contributors are a sufficient number for each given the ample resources freely available to voters these days.

For the contemporary election, the Hall of Fame should hold an annual election in which fans voice their preference for the top 30 eligible players. Every eligible player from the requisite time range shall be able to be selected here: all those who aren’t banned and participated in at least 10 major league seasons. For the 2001-2010 retirees who remain outside the Hall of Fame, that’s a total of 497 potential nominees for the ballot. Let me be clear: Players who previously received fewer than five percent in an election or were never named to the ballot when they might have debuted are (once again) eligible so long as their last season occurred during that range of eligible seasons.

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

It is at this stage – the nominating process – of the contemporary election that fans become part of the process. Here, people can tip their cap to their occasional favorite son without compromising the chances for election of more serious candidates. With the top 30 cumulative vote-getters being placed on the ballot, there is little chance a Bernie Williams or David Cone does not find himself on the ballot throughout his full 10 years of eligibility, much less an Alan Trammell or a Tim Raines.

This step effectively replaces the five to 10 weak candidates who annually appear (and are quickly one-and-done) with better candidates who are no longer bounced because of a crowded ballot their first time up. Top to bottom, voters will see a stronger lineup of candidates from which to choose. Better yet, because the fans assemble the ballot, there will be a natural sense of pride that follows the announcement of each nomination to the ballot and, therefore, greater public interest in the election and induction of those on the ballot to see if “their guy” was chosen.

Accuracy in Collective Opinion: The MVP-Style Ballot

While existing elections ask voters to list from zero to 10 (or 4, depending on the election) eligible candidates whom they deem deserving of election, the current process doesn’t ask voters to list the most deserving candidates. This is strange given that the people who created the Hall of Fame’s electoral process – the BBWAA – also created the election process for the Most Valuable Player Award, an election that seeks to ask exactly that question: Who is most worthy?

Henceforth, in all elections the Hall of Fame should adopt this MVP voting style and ask voters in each election to list the 10 most worthy eligible candidates in descending order of merit. Points shall be awarded to each candidate named, in reverse order of ranking. A first-place vote is worth 10 points, a second-place vote worth nine points, etc. Candidates’ cumulative point totals from all ballots are sorted from highest to lowest, with the former the winner of the election.

Induction Ceremony Insurance: Standardizing the Inductee Count

When the Hall of Fame first opened its doors in 1939, the BBWAA had elected 12 players in four years, an average of three per year. Although observers in print commonly approved of this rate, the BBWAA opted instead to hold an election once every three years and elected only one candidate in the next seven years. The consequences were disastrous and led to yet another rule change before the end of the decade.

The Hall of Fame has been holding elections since 1936 (though not continuously), and 244 players have been elected over those 80 years, a historical average of just over three players inducted per year.

The benefits of electing three contemporary – modern stars, almost certainly still living and relatively healthy – should be obvious.

The gradual expansion of the number of major league teams and players over the past 54 years, however, suggests there are a larger number of great players in any given season than when blacks and Hispanics were not allowed in the majors and only eight teams existed. In short, we should be electing more than three players per year these days.

Fortunately, we can remedy that error with the conservative number of one additional player elected each year – one from the Historic Players Election (plus one contributor each year, as well). This will increase the size of the Hall of Fame, but only at a minimally greater rate than has been the case in the past. By controlling this rate of induction in an intentional, disciplined way, we can avoid the kind of “boom” periods where lesser – or even unworthy – candidates gain entrance to Baseball’s Valhalla.

Reviewing the Process: Meeting Our Objectives

We wanted to better identify the best candidates for each election. The substitution of an expert panel of scholars to compose the ballot, and an election that requires voters to list candidates in order of merit and has a set number of inductees not only identifies, but will elect, the best candidates to a far greater extent than the current process.

The three contemporary players per year maintains the historic rate of inductions for the Hall of Fame. It also guarantees two or three living inductees every year, attracting larger crowds to induction weekend in Cooperstown and more attention to the results overall. Additionally, the participation of fans increases public interest in the election and its results.

The move to MVP-style voting reduces (if not entirely eliminates) the negative impact of “first ballot” voters, unanimity contrarians, strategic voters and local homers.

The electorate will be presented with a better slate of candidates with better prepared background on each thanks to the vastly improved selection process, now rid of the institutional bias of the current various voting bodies.

All ballots will be made available to the public through the Hall of Fame’s website so that voters will no longer be able to hide behind their anonymity. Voters should be willing to defend their selections in an appropriate manner and forum, else they should reconsider their participation in the process. Voting for the Hall of Fame is a privilege, not a right. Further, discussion about potentially controversial ballots also creates more public interest.

With fan voting responsible for creating the Contemporary Player ballot, fans finally will be a part of the process, though not to an extent where mass ignorance or voter fraud can sway election results as other fan votes – the All-Century Team, for example – have occasionally demonstrated.

The guaranteed election of one historic player and one contributor along with the three contemporary players will leverage the increased attention being paid to the inductions and give fans – particularly younger ones – a great opportunity to learn about baseball’s older greats on and off the field.

Bonus Fun: Hall of Fame Legends

The Hall of Fame also should establish an annual fan vote – conducted via Internet throughout the baseball season – to determine, from among existing Hall of Famers, the true legends of the sport. This is the “inner circle” of Hall of Famers, whom casual fans generally believe compose the Hall of Fame. Yes, the creation of this additional distiction would result in a two-tiered Hall, but that’s okay. The tiers already exist in the minds of fans. This would be the Hall’s attempt to formalize such distinctions.

The winner of the election would be announced during the year’s World Series, with a special tribute to the player being made at the following year’s induction ceremony. It also would be a signal to fans that the Hall of Fame elections would be right around the corner, sparking an early buzz in the process that would help spur many hot stove discussions during the ensuing two months.

I’m not certain what an appropriate honorarium would be for these “Legends.” Perhaps a bronze statute instead of a plaque? Certainly a bust at least (like the Pro Football Hall of Fame). These men would be the greatest of the greats, the names everyone thinks of when they hear “Hall of Famer.” It’s impossible to see someone besides Babe Ruth honored first, but this would become a fun and utterly harmless way for the Hall of Fame to further involve fans and generate interest in the institution. After the first decade or so, these elections would begin highlighting forgotten greats. Because these honored inner circle types would be making news, future generations would be introduced to Tris Speaker or Mel Ott in a way they don’t have cause to today.

Choices would be limited to former players who have been members of the Hall of Fame for at least 10 years (to avoid Ken Griffey Jr. or Derek Jeter making the list any time soon). The only other caveat would be that they had to gain election through the BBWAA or, going forward, from the Contemporary Players Election. The best candidates elected by the Veterans Committee are Johnny Mize, Ron Santo and Arky Vaughan, none of whom is among the 50 greatest players in history, nor do they instantly spring to mind when the words “Hall of Famer” are uttered.

If these proposals were adopted today, the Hall of Fame would have 444 former players 50 years from now, but only 50 of them – around 11 percent – will also be Hall of Fame Legends. This gives the discerning fan who knows something about the Hall what he wants: a distinction between the all-time greats and the greats of each era. And that seems about right, doesn’t it? Make your own list of “inner circle” all-time greats. How many are on it? If it’s big enough to include Mike Schmidt and Johnny Bench then you probably have about 30 names at that point, and that’s roughly the same ratio of Legends to Hall of Famers as we’ll have after half a century of Legends voting.

The 2016 Ballots: An Illustration

Assuming the immediate implementation of this system, we have the following three hypothetical ballots.
2016 Contemporary Players
Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Kevin Brown, Jose Canseco, Roger Clemens, David Cone, Carlos Delgado, Jim Edmonds, Nomar Garciaparra, Luis Gonzalez, Ken Griffey Jr., Trevor Hoffman, Jeff Kent, Kenny Lofton, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Mike Mussina, John Olerud, Rafael Palmeiro, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Bret Saberhagen, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, Robin Ventura, Billy Wagner, Larry Walker, Bernie Williams

While this presents more fair-to-good candidacies on the ballot, a voter who isn’t willing or able to sort through 30 cases isn’t the kind of individual who needs to vote. Furthermore, the new voting structure ensures that extreme candidacies – Ventura, for example – won’t obstruct the upstream progress of better supported candidates.

Another positive is that the ballot will remain fairly steady over time, rather than one third to one half of it being refilled each year largely with no-brainer “no way” candidates, giving voters greater familiarity with each holdover than presently exists.
2016 Historical Players
Dick Allen, Bobby Bonds, Ken Boyer, Bill Dahlen, Dwight Evans, Wes Ferrell, Bill Freehan, Jack Glasscock, Bobby Grich, Heinie Groh, Stan Hack, Keith Hernandez, Tommy John, Bob Johnson, Sherry Magee, Minnie Minoso, Thurman Munson, Don Newcombe, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, Vada Pinson, Willie Randolph, Rick Reuschel, Jimmy Sheckard, Ted Simmons, Reggie Smith, Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Jimmy Wynn

Compare a smorgasbord of great candidates with the paltry six players from the 1871-1946 period on this year’s actual historical ballot. No contest!
2016 Contributors
Doc Adams, Buzzie Bavasi, Sam Breadon, Harry Dalton, Ralph Houk, Bob Howsam, Frank Jobe, Jim Leyland, Billy Martin, Marvin Miller, Danny Murtaugh, Lou Piniella, John Schuerholz, Bud Selig, George Steinbrenner

Again, compare these 15 to the mere four who must compete with the historical players for votes in the existing system once every three years.

Making the Case: Demonstrating the System’s Efficacy

Here’s a look at what the last 10 elections might have looked like had this system been in place already:

Year Contemporary Players Historical Players Contributors
2006 Bruce Sutter, Jim Rice, Goose Gossage Ron Santo Doug Harvey
2007 Cal Ripken, Tony Gwynn, Andre Dawson Jim Kaat Marvin Miller
2008 Bert Blyleven, Lee Smith, Jack Morris Gil Hodges Billy Southworth
2009 Rickey Henderson, Tommy John, Tim Raines Joe Gordon Dick Williams
2010 Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez Tony Oliva Whitey Herzog
2011 Jeff Bagwell, Alan Trammell, Larry Walker Dave Concepcion Pat Gillick
2012 Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Don Mattingly Minnie Minoso Buzzie Bavasi
2013 Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling Deacon White Hank O’Day
2014 Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine Steve Garvey Bobby Cox
2015 Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz Dick Allen Tony La Russa

In the past 10 years, the Hall of Fame has inducted 17 players, three historic players (the third column), 13 contributors (the fourth column), and 14 Negro League players.

These hypothetical totals were compiled on the basis of actual election totals in the year in question or the most recent year in which an appropriate election was held (when none was held in the actual year).

For starters, there would be 20 more players in Cooperstown than there are now, a significant step towards resolving the many problems inherent with the gray area. (“Why is Player A in, but Player B is not?”)

If you look closely at the names in the third column, you’ll notice those are all players from the 1950s through the 1980s, the most underrepresented decades among the existing Hall of Fame membership.

Further, I believe we would have seen the election of Santo, Minoso and Miller (two of whom remain outside the Hall of Fame) before their deaths had an annual system with guaranteed elections been in place, alleviating perhaps the most tragic byproduct of the current system of election for veteran candidates.

Now let’s imagine what the next 10 elections might look like after these reforms:

Year Contemporary Players Historical Players Contributors
2016 Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell Minnie Minoso Marvin Miller
2017 Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez, Trevor Hoffman Bill Dahlen Doc Adams
2018 Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero Dick Allen Bud Selig
2019 Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez Wes Ferrell Jim Leyland
2020 Derek Jeter, Larry Walker, Andruw Jones Luis Tiant Buzzie Bavasi
2021 Curt Schilling, Mike Mussina, Jim Edmonds Alan Trammell George Steinbrenner
2022 Ichiro Suzuki, Scott Rolen, Johan Santana Lou Whitaker Billy Martin
2023 Carlos Beltran, Todd Helton, Andy Pettitte Ross Barnes Bill Dinneen
2024 Mark Buehrle, David Ortiz, Jorge Posada Bobby Grich John Schuerholz
2025 Adrian Beltre, Andy Pettitte, Jimmy Rollins Mark McGwire Danny Murtaugh

Is there any doubt the above hypothetical results are a vastly better outcome that can reasonably be predicted under the current electoral system?

Ignoring the specific names on the lists above, the idea here works: three modern players, one historical player and one contributor. Three elections, five inductees, and thousands more interested in the results, visiting the museum and learning more about the history of baseball each and every year. After all, isn’t that what a Hall of Fame should be about?

Brad is a longtime SABR member with a particular interest in the Hall of Fame. He has written for The Hardball Times, Baseball Analysts, Baseball Evolution and Baseball Truth. A recent transplant to the Sunshine State, Brad is looking forward to his first spring training trip in just a few months. A lifelong Cincinnati Reds fan, he is also hoping he won't have to reluctantly support Dusty Baker's eventual Hall of Fame candidacy once this gig with the Nationals ends.
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
8 years ago

Ok. GREAT plan. But maybe only two per year? I’m a Yankees fan and a big hall guy but Andy Pettite is extremely borderline even for me.

This list of inductees is going to be blasphemous for small hall folks and any new plan has to be seen as a compromise.

I love it though. Ps where is nettles!

But it’s a great idea. Just think two players is a more realistic proposal to placate small hall people

8 years ago

Replacing the BBWWA w SABR? Wow. A shot across the bow, and to-many a non-starter.

20 more men in the HoF? As a small-Hall guy, seems like a giant step in the wrong direction. And Selig? Rollins? Posada? Seems like evidence to not make a change.

Also, don’t see the need for constant “Contributor” elections, or for Historical elections. As time marches on, we’ll approach the third-greatest Roman general after Julius Ceasar and the other guy.

8 years ago
Reply to  Carl

I agree. Any mandate on the number of players/contributors per year will inevitably lead to more questionable people getting inducted simply by lucky timing in a down year or as the list of actual deserving “contributors” dwindles and you’re left scraping the bottom of the barrel to meet an arbitrary mandate

8 years ago
Reply to  Carl

“eplacing the BBWWA w SABR? Wow.”

The working journalists of the BBWAA should never be in a position to confer any honor with potential financial benefits to anyone they could use as a source. That is the definition of a conflict of interest. Journalists are taught (or should be) to avoid not only conflicts of interest but even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Yet the BBWAA members continue to hold votes that can and do result in bonus clauses being awarded and large increases in the value of memorabilia.

Not to mention, you could end up burning a source when your vote gets out.

I just don’t understand why anyone would do that.

8 years ago
Reply to  Carl

> As time marches on, we’ll approach the third-greatest Roman general after Julius Ceasar and the other guy.

Uhm, even assuming that Caesar was the greatest and that “the other guy” might be Augustus, that only leaves roughly 1300 years worth of Roman generals who might have ranged from mighty warriors to all-conquering Legionnaires. That would be an inner circle Hall of Fame in and of itself.

8 years ago

I love the idea of moving to SABR instead of BBWAA, but 3 inductees per year is too many. I don’t want to live in a world where I need to consider Mark Buehrle, Jorge Posada and Scott Rolen Hall of Fame players.

This attempts to clear up the “grey area” problem by just letting in every above average player. Is that really better?

Also, MAJOR MAJOR points off for the future HOF predictions leaving out a top 5 pitcher and arguably the second best hitter all time – Clemens and Bonds.

8 years ago
Reply to  Matt

Scott Rolen is 10th all-time in WAR for 3B. Just how small do you want your hall to be?

8 years ago
Reply to  Brett

Small. It should be an exclusive club, and I don’t give Rolen a pass because he played a historically weak position. Only finished in the top 10 of MVP voting once in his career. That alone discredits a HOF candidacy for a batter before I even need to look at another metric. He was only one of the ten best players in his own league once.

I guess the issue is that the Hall of Fame is a physical place as well as a distinction on somebody’s career. I don’t mind listing Rolen in the baseball museum and telling future generations about how he was one of the above average players from the 00s.

I just have an issue with using the same superlative “Hall of Famer” for a guy like Rolen as you do with legends like Ruth, Bonds and Ted Williams. If the HOF is binary, then I’m only putting in 4-5 guys per decade. Make it a tiered system like the author suggests, and let the Scott Rolen and Derek Jeter go into the Hall of Fame, but separate the Mays’ and Mantle’s into another wing for actual legends.

8 years ago

As a person who went to the 5th game of the World Series in 1984, and lived an hour west of Detroit MI, I can honestly say that Jack Morris and Alan Trammell BOTH belong in the HOF. OK, maybe not honestly, since I guess everyone would consider me a HOMER. But I think that both those guys resumes speak for themselves.

No matter what Clayton Kershaw, Zach Greinke, or Felix Hernandez has done so far in their careers, or any other MODERN PITCHER, none can hold a candle to Jack Morris. Not a single modern pitcher will ever have 178 complete games in their career. None will ever pitch a 10 inning, CG, SHO, in the World Series, winning it 1-0. None will ever have 4 World Series rings. None will ever be the winningest pitcher of an entire decade. In fact, being a pitcher in the 1980’s the narrative could be considered that pitchers back then were TOO NICE. They played with inferior defenses behind them, there were more players that were fleet of feet on the base paths (while the 80’s had more volume in terms of raw number of players that could steal and more overall stolen bases, the percentage of success was lower than modern game), they were left on the mound past the point of fatigue, as evidence of this, they gave up more intentional walks and more walks in general, had more balks, whereas the modern pitcher just decides to save himself some pitches by plunking a batter, 80’s pitchers completed way more games, had less strikeouts overall due to both mindset of pitching to contact and less velocity than modern pitcher, YET, they managed to have the same overall ERA with more innings pitched, when I compared the modern pitcher – 2013-15 vs 1983-1985.

Alan Trammell had a little bit of everything, he could pick it and flick it, GG caliber, he stole bases, hit with some pop. Him and Whitaker were the backbone of that team on defense and offense (Kirk Gibson too).

It is an absolute disgrace that no one from the 1984 Tigers, a team that started off 35-5 and never looked back, has EVER made it to the HOF.

Besides, as we all know the NL is inferior to the AL. AL has to face real hitters throughout the entire lineup when pitching, and the NL, well you can take an NL pitchers ERA and add .75 to 1.00 to it in order to make it equivalent in the AL. The most recent example is Johnny Cueto, he didn’t do so fantastic moving to the AL now did he?

8 years ago
Reply to  Eric

Just going after the low hanging fruit here- you mention “none will be the winningest pitcher of an entire decade” = every decade has a winningest pitcher. Also while I may agree that the NL is easier to pitch in than the AL deciding to arbitrarily add an entire run to someones ERA because they face 9 spots instead of 8 spots seems a bit extreme. I mean if we are cherry picking stats- Morris’ lowest ERA was 3.05 , which is more than an entire run higher than the top flight pitchers of this ERA.

8 years ago
Reply to  dan

Yeah, it is .75 to 1 added to ERA for a pitcher moving from the NL to AL, because 1) the NL teams are a lower run scoring environment than the AL, by an average of 30-37 runs per team. 2) facing another NL pitcher as a batter in a lineup is way easier than a real batter either DH or not in the AL. NL pitchers as batters strike out 13 times for every walk they draw when they bat. Their collective slash line is crap too. It looks like Cueto is back in the NL where he belongs, he couldn’t hang in the AL.

As I said Jack Morris pitched in a more difficult time for pitchers and I can prove it with stats. His lifetime ERA was 3.90, and the MLB average ERA for all pitchers 1983-1985 was 3.87, the MLB 2013-2015? the average was 3.86 – even WITH ALL that stellar defense behind them AND less players that could steal bases and certainly NOT at the volume of the 80’s.

Sparky Anderson was a master. I still miss him and Ernie Harwell. MLB in the 1980’s was statistically overall BETTER baseball than now, in fact it was the last great decade MLB has ever had – not the only great decade mind you, but the last great decade.

8 years ago
Reply to  Eric

> It looks like Cueto is back in the NL where he belongs, he couldn’t hang in the AL.

This comment makes no sense. There are tons of pitchers in the AL that are objectively not as good as Cueto but are performing just fine. YES the AL is a more offensive league. But it’s foolish to think that somebody as good as Cueto just “can’t hang” in the AL. Don’t be fooled by a small sample size.

> I can prove it with stats

Which stats? You didn’t provide any stats to support this claim. The only stat you did cite was that league average ERA was the same in 1983 as it is in 2015. Then just made the unsubstantiated claim that defense is better today and there are fewer stolen bases.

Not sure there is any evidence to back the claim about defense being better today and claiming that simply fewer stolen bases makes it easier to be a pitcher is ignorant. There is so much more to pitching that just how many bases teams try to steal. There is also less sacrifice bunting today than 30 years ago, and we have numbers that proves that sac bunting is bad for offense. So I could just as easily claim that Morris benefited from a league that gave away outs with sac bunts more frequently, thus making his job easier. But I won’t because it’s foolish to claim pitching is easier or harder in one generation because of one cherry-picked fact about how the game was played.

Bottom line, I can prove very simply that Jack Morris wasn’t that great.

His career ERA- was 95. (ERA- adjusts your ERA based on the parks you played in and scales it against your generational peers. By definition, an ERA- of 100 is average. So it’s the perfect way to judge somebody’s ERA from the past.)

Giving Morris the benefit of the doubt and removing his first 2 and last 2 seasons where he wasn’t in his prime, his ERA- ranked #53 in baseball among starting pitchers.

So even if your claim that pitching was harder in the 80s than today, there were 52 pitchers that did a better job of preventing runs than Morris during Morris’s peak.


Sparky Anderson
8 years ago
Reply to  Eric

Remember me?

8 years ago

Yes, and I miss you and Ernie Harwell, and I also miss real baseball without PEDs, I can do without the three true outcomes baseball, its gotten so grotesque, that players don’t think its worthwhile to hit a single.

8 years ago

I don’t see the biggest problem with HOF voting being solved here, and that’s the 10 vote limit. Making the number of votes per ballot unlimited will help solve the problems of having more electees each year and removing some of the log jam. There is no reason to limit the ballot to 10 players when there’s probably 15 worthy players on the current ballot. It’s not like writers will vote for players they don’t think are worthy.

Also, I agree with setting a 2 or 3 player minimum per year, but there should never be a maximum amount of inductees allowed, that idea is counter-productive when trying to get the best players elected and prevent crowded ballots.

8 years ago
Reply to  Wildcard09

A 10-vote max may hurt a marginal candidate in one single year, but over a 10-year eligibility cycle, would have minimal impact towards getting 75%. Three 3 out of 4 votes from several hundred voters consider you one of the best all time, but another 25% of voters don’t even consider that same player in the top 10 for that single year? Not too likely.

8 years ago
Reply to  Carl

I agree, except for the log jam currently being created by stubborn voters who won’t vote for guys linked to steroids. We can start fixing that by just putting the second best hitter in baseball history into the HOF.

8 years ago
Reply to  Matt

Ted Williams is already in the Hall of Fame.

8 years ago
Reply to  Carl

I’d personally put Bonds over Ted, but if you flip them I can’t disagree too much. That’s definitely the top 3 though. (Obviously Ruth #1)

8 years ago
Reply to  Carl

When you have writers admitting to not voting for Randy or Pedro or other first-ballot guys simply because they “knew they’d make it in and wanted to give a vote to someone who needs it” that’s when you know your system sucks. You should never have to take votes away from somebody who is deserving to give them to somebody less deserving. HOF election should be “Is this player a Hall of Famer, yes or no?” Not “is this player one of the 10 best players on the current ballot?”

8 years ago
Reply to  Wildcard09

Why not one vote, in or out, on each player?

Rather than an MVP-style point system why not just do this:

Barry Bonds, in or out?

Roger Clemens, in or out?

Pedro Martinez, in or out?

If they get 75%+, they’re in. If they don’t, they’re out forever.

(Or maybe they get one do-over, in five years, if they appear on 80% of the votes of a panel of former players, managers, execs, broadcasters, writers and knowledgeable fans).

None of this other nonsense, dragging the thing out for 10 years. That’s just silly. If a guy’s an HoFer in five years, why isn’t he an HoFer now?

One vote, per player: In or out. You’d have to go through some pretty strange contortions to explain why it shouldn’t be this way.

8 years ago
Reply to  bucdaddy

Yes. This.

8 years ago
Reply to  bucdaddy

Because our understanding of the game changes.

There were very very few people who thought blyleven, trammell, raines, Whitaker were hall of fame players originally.

That changed

Sometimes it takes is looking back to say, “wow that guy was much better than we thought”.

And to the people up top.

Posada is easily a borderline candidate. Judging catchers by WAR is troublesome since we don’t really count defense (obviously not posadas strong suit but still) and they play a grueling position that limits their playing time.

Third base and catcher are badly under represented.

I just don’t understand how including nettles or rolen makes ruth or mays any less great.

It’s a simple fact that baseball is losing ground amongst young people.

The hall of fame is an important part of building the cross generation bridge that keeps the game alive.

Having a twenty year gap where we pretend some of the greatest players who ever lived didn’t exist doesn’t help the game. It hurts it.

Im perfectly capable of explaining the entire context of bonds or Clemens careers to my kids.

Also rolen was a fantastic player and is a worthy bubble case.

Defense counts.

8 years ago

It’s ugly and the the HOF is the one thing I hate about baseball right now.

To the one commenter who said keep the hall small…We are keeping it small! It’s absurd that Raines, Trammell, Whitaker, Ted Simmons (one of the 12 best C by WAR all time) are not in, and while I hate Clemens and Bonds I think it’s time to move on and just vote at least them in. How is Grinch not in either? And Scott Rolen and his 70 WAR? Top ten sorted by 3b all time. It seems that 70+ War should be a pretty solid HOF, 65-70 borderline, and 55-65 probably not except for C as catching takes such a huge toll on the body even Bench only got to 75 WAR. And maybe SS. Petite is borderline as another commenter noted, but Schilling and Mussina should absolutely be in. Sosa borderline could see keeping him out, probably palmeiro should be in. I know, steroids, and it makes my stomach ache a bit but just do it and get it over with. Don’t throw guys like Tiant, Concepcion and Garvey at us, those were just good players on some great teams, but certainly not HOF. Bagwell should be in…it’s just gotten so absurd I don’t even really follow it anymore.

John C
8 years ago
Reply to  Bill

Grinch isn’t in because the voters have never forgiven him for stealing Christmas, even though he tried to make amends for it later on.

Grich isn’t in because the BBWAA voters hadn’t heard of Bill James when he came up for election, and no one really understood just how good he was.

Rich Moser
8 years ago
Reply to  John C

If you can steal home and it’s a good thing, why can’t you steal Christmas and have it be an even better thing???

8 years ago
Reply to  Bill

Whitaker was a very, very good player. So was Grich. However, they were contemporaries w each other along with Morgan, Carew, Alomar, Sandberg, and Biggio. As were Randolph, Lopes, Trillo, and White who were All-Stars during his career. Being the 6th – 9th best second basemen while you were playing does not a strong HoF candidate make (at least to us small-Hall guys). How many HoF second basemen can be playing at the same time?

For Trammel, very similar to Whitaker in that a very, very good ballplayer, but behind Yount, Ripken, Smith, Concepcion early in his career, and Larken, Rodriguez, Jeter at the end of his career. Being the 5th best at your position during your career, to a small-Hall guy just doesn’t cut it. (PS – also why Ashburn should not have been voted in).

As for Posada – defense counts.

As for Rolen – So much of his Sabr-perceived value (20 dWAR compared to 50 oWAR) the hesitation is whether to rely on dWAR. His career range factor is .1 better than league average. Was that worth 20 wins? Half of his career was before dRS tats were even kept. Just not sure.

8 years ago

Feels like this is a result of writers keeping the steroid guys out and hence total number of inductees down. If you just wait this out, I think the number of inductees will be going up soon anyways. Sure you’ll get the Raines fans and the Trammell fans hopping on board with you, but I still don’t feel massive changes are needed. Most teams have their own HOF anyways, and I’d think all of these “outs” are in there. A true fan will go beyond the HOF to research the game’s history.

Jetsy Extrano
8 years ago

The fan nomination process is a nice touch. Fun, engaging, but can’t really do any harm. Have your kids vote.

8 years ago
Reply to  Jetsy Extrano

What if each team held an annual competition of some kind to determine a Most Knowledgeable Fan, who would join with the other 29 MKFs to form a voting precinct?

I want to kick the BBWAA out entirely, but I’m sure the members are in love with their power, so in lieu of that make the BBWAA one precinct, along with one for former players, former managers and coaches, former execs, and Vin Scully. He gets to be a precinct all his own.

John G.
8 years ago

So, advanced metrics would have much more influence on the screening/election processes, AND Steve Garvey and Jack Morris would have been inducted under this system? Got it.

David Eckstein
8 years ago

So you’re saying there’s a chance?

In all seriousness I like a lot of the ideas put forth here and am all for the larger goal of making HOF voting season a time of celebration rather than hand-wringing and condemnation.

Rod Nelson
8 years ago

For someone that feels compelled to wax on publicly about the virtues of SABR, it would probably be a good idea if you were actually a dues-paying member in good standing. I don’t find your name in the membership directory, but that can be easily remedied by giving yourself the best Christmas present that you’ll ever receive.

8 years ago

This is for bpdelia (for some reason there was no reply button under your comment):

“Because our understanding of the game changes.”

I thought somebody would raise this point.

Then extend the eligibility requirement to retired for 10 years instead of five.

And now that the analytics seem to be down to parsing fractions of a win, I don’t think our understanding of player values is going to change drastically from now on.

8 years ago

Please don’t make the Baseball Hall like the Basketball Hall. Putting in 8-10 in a year, some people elected twice and basketball fans saying who’s that. The past Veterans Com. made a joke of many years by putting in their dying friends in ( G. Kelly is the ultimate example, look at their induction years then their death many passed 6mo to a year after induction). Football Hall puts in too many each year but with 32 teams and 53 man rosters the pool is greater to choose from. Lots of players ” elected to the new standard ” that were not even one of their own teams top 3 players. Changes are needed but not to where Jim Rices, Rube Marquards, G Kellys and similar keep getting in. Morris, Raines, Trammell, Bagwell, Piazza are due. Don Zimmer needs to be the next Buck O’neil Award Winner.

Rich Moser
8 years ago

I really like the idea of using a point system, a la the MVP voting. On the other hand, I don’t see the point of having the fans participate if there’s going to be a higher-level vote that then excludes them. Also the idea of a fixed number of annual inductees could lead to a pileup of worthy candidates similar to the one we have now, albeit for different reasons.