The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Monday, August 06, 2001

 

Hall of Fame Inductions

I didn't see today's Hall of Fame induction ceremony, except for about 2 minutes of highlights on SportsCenter. But I have no beef with any of the three players (Bil Mazeroski, Kirby Puckett, and Dave Winfield) who got in--I'd have voted for each as well, despite Puckett's shortened career and Mazeroski's defense-based qualifications.

Below I present a list of fifteen eligible players (as of next year's election) who, in my opinion, belong in the Hall of Fame, along with three non-players who should be there as well. I'm not going to set up arguments for any of them right now, but I will return to this issue in an expanded form at a later date.

I've listed two numbers, both of which are based on systems created by Bill James, and slightly revised by Sean Forman at baseball-reference.com, which presents these numbers on its player pages. Both are tests which reward the types of things Hall of Fame voters look at. The first is the Hall of Fame Standards. It's weighted so that the average HOFer scores 50 points based on various career totals (the complete list of critera is found here). The second is the Hall of Fame Monitor. This system attempts to assess the likelihood of a particular player's election to the Hall. It's weighted so that 100 points signifies a likely Hall of Famer, and is based both on single-season and career accomplishments (the complete list of criteria is here).

Anyway, here's my list, with each player linked to his page on baseball-reference.com.

Bert Blyleven: 50.0 / 113.5
Gary Carter: 42.2 / 135.5
Andre Dawson: 43.6 / 118.5
Goose Gossage: 19.0 / 118.0
Tommy John: 44.0 / 100.0
Jim Kaat: 44.0 / 119.5
Jack Morris: 39.0 / 108.5
Dale Murphy: 35.4 / 115.5
Jim Rice: 43.0 / 147.0
Ron Santo: 40.5 / 88.0
Ted Simmons: 44.0 / 125
Ozzie Smith: 35.0 / 143.0
Bruce Sutter: 17.0 / 87.0
Alan Trammell: 41.0 / 119.0
Lou Whittaker: 43.0 / 93.0

Nonplayers:
Marvin Miller
Bill James
Buck O'Neill

I saw all of the players except for Santo, who is, in several peoples' opinions, the most qualified candidate not to get in. Some of these guys will get in eventually; at least one will not--Whittaker failed to draw enough support during his first appearance on the ballot, a shameful oversight by the BBWAA.

Various people have offered their proposals to fix the Hall of Fame in order to correct for the errors of inductions past. This article by Slate's Bryan Curtis is an attempt to reform the Hall. Calling the current Hall "a bottomless pit of mediocrity," Curtis attempts to set some benchmarks for admission. First are the objective measures; Curtis suggests a few metrics which automatically guarantee entry--300 wins, 2873 hits (Babe Ruth's total) and 493 Home Runs (Lou Gehrig's total). Then Curtis suggests two players as a baseline for further determining who should get in, Roy Campanella and Don Drysdale--anybody better than them, as determined by the analysis of a board of seven baseball historians and mathematicians, should get in. Curtis re-enshrines 136 players already in, evicts 52, and adds another five, including the two black sheep, Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson.

Another impressive effort is the Baseball Immortals web site. Writer Lee Sinins' doesn't list his criteria for induction, but he's creating a page for each player on his list. For now, 45 players have pages which present their basic stats along with various sabermetric measures, and extensive lists of their accomplishments; eventually they all will. Sinins even goes so far as to write (or rewrite) their plaques. There's definitely some food for thought here, though in my opinion, mixing in players who are not yet eligible (though they may be sure things) confuses the issue a bit.

Like I said, I'll revisit this issue somewhere down the road...

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