Jul 25, 2015; Cooperstown, NY, USA; Hall of Fame Inductee John Smoltz smiles as he arrives at National Baseball Hall of Fame. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
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The MLB Hall of Fame is simply broken. Some will be rewarded for enhancing their stats. Some will ‘fall short’ because they are compared to those inflated stats. But others may go wanting and waiting simply because of one antiquated rule.
30 “Pioneers/Executives” (no good way to count these)
10 Umpires (out of 367 – sounds light, but that’s 2.7%)
217 MLB Players (out of 18,902* or so major league players, or 1.1%)
* (I used Rio Ruiz as the ‘newest’ major leaguer… he’s close enough, though he wasn’t)
In other words, while the Hall was created to honor the best players in the game, there are actually fewer of them – by ratio – than categories of non-players.
Let me put that another way: if you want to be a member of Baseball’s Hall of Fame, your odds are actually better if you don’t play baseball.
And don’t even get me started about broadcasters and writers getting into the Hall. Somebody threw the BBWAA members a very large bone to get them to vote annually. It’s an atrocity, and some members are making a mockery of the process on top of that.
Let’s Go a Little Further
As previously noted, there are nearly twice as many teams in existence today as there were in 1960 (30 vs. 16).
Immediately, that should tell you that there are twice as many players in the league today as was the case in 1960. Thus it follows that inductions should nominally occur at twice the rate per year for those retiring recently.
Players born in 1941 or later would generally begin their careers after the expansion era that started in 1961 and was completed (thus far) in 1998. Those born in 1920 would have mostly completed their careers before expansion.
Oct 2, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves former second baseman Marcus Giles (22) and catcher Javy Lopez (8) and outfielder Gary Sheffield (11) and pitcher John Smoltz (29) and manager Bobby Cox (6) and president John Schuerholz and third baseman Chipper Jones (10) and outfielder Andruw Jones (25) and first baseman Adam LaRoche(19) and shortstop Rafael Furcal (1) are honored during the fifth inning against the Detroit Tigers in the final game at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
All of the above is why I’m annoyed at the process, but it took this from Jayson Stark today to push me over the edge.
I can tell you who else I've voted for in the past but ran out of spots: McGriff, Kent, Walker, Wagner. Never had room for Manny/Sheff/Sosa https://t.co/n150Bp9Bq1
On average, hitters had a 69 career bWAR; the median pitcher was at 63.8. It seems reasonable, then, to draw a cutoff at roughly 50 bWAR for each category. You could argue with those numbers, but again, this is entirely done for simplicity.
This year alone, there are fifteen such players on the ballot.
Will all of these players get in? Nope. Should they? That depends on your perspective, but the traditions of the past would seem to argue “yes” if you’re judging modern players by the same standards.
Yet that clearly isn’t happening. In fact, it’s now harder to get elected that at any time before.
You might look at Jamie Moyer (50.4) and think “No – not a Hall guy”. Yet just by this singular stat, his career looks better than Catfish Hunter, Rube Marquard, Bob Lemon, Dizzy Dean, Lefty Gomez, and Chief Bender… just to name a few.
Sure – the elite will be honored as they ought. Others also need to included.