Nick Stone (NYC): To what degree does the selection of Bruce Sutter water-down HOF standards? Is his selection on par with some of the more egregious errors of the veterans committee? It would seem like this could open the doors to a flood of relievers. Or is this a time thing, the result of a weak ballot?There's plenty of non-Hall stuff to be had among my answers as well. Dodgers and Yankees and Angels.. and Red Sox and Brewers and Padres, oh my! Check it out.
Jay Jaffe: It's tough to say that Sutter waters down the Hall standards for relievers, because with only three (or 2.5, if you account for the fact that Eckersley gets a big boost from the bulk stats of his career as a starter), there aren't really any standards yet. Sutter (49.9 JAWS) doesn't measure up to Fingers (61.4), to say nothing of Eckersley (87.1) or Wilhelm (70.3), that we know.
But there are a half-dozen pitchers with lower JAWS scores -- not a lot lower, but lower -- all elected by the VC, none of them relievers (Joss, Bender, Chesbro, Welch, Haines, Marquard). There are also eight hitters, all VC, with lower JAWS. S is this a travesty of that order? No.
I think Sutter's election is the result of a weak ballot, yes, and I do think it will open the gates to a trickle of relievers, not a flood. Gossage (64.6, up from 55.2 last year) will be in within a couple of years, I think. I don't see Lee Smith getting the same courtesy, nor John Franco. We may still be waiting for Mariano Rivera.
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Brent (Raleigh): Do you agree that, from a PR standpoint, the best thing that could ever happen to an ex-player is to be right on the cusp of the HOF, but not quite? I mean, Gary Carter gets elected to the HOF and that basically does it for people reflecting about Gary Carter and his career. On the other hand, Burt Blyleven gets annual 1000-word articles written about him by sportswriters all over the country. Maybe being on the outside looking in isn't that bad...
Jay Jaffe: I disagree. Carter took six years to get voted in. I LOATHE Gary Carter, but never for a minute did I have a doubt while watching him play that he'd wind up in the Hall, and it sickens me to watch voters make players with his kind of credentials twist in the wind. He may not be foremost in the minds of the public now that he's in, but he's cast in bronze in upstate New York, and thousands of people get to read the words on his plaque every month.
I'm sure Blyleven would trade the thousand-word hosannas for votes and induction any day of the week. Not that the publicity isn't helping; he jumped to 53.3 percent this year from 40.8 last year and 35 two years ago.
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dokomoy (Los Angeles): Has the HOF voters stupidity over the years cost the Hall any credibility? If so beyond making me the Final arbitrator of who gets in, what can be done to fix it?
Jay Jaffe: As I've said before, the BBWAA rarely gets it wrong in terms of electing somebody who's NOT worthy (Sutter's not their best choice, though). They generally err on the side of keeping reasonably worthy players out, leaving them for the Vet Committee to sweep up. The VC is where the problem has lain for a long, long time -- electing the wrong brother (Rick Ferrell, Lloyd Waner) or their cronies. Per JAWS, the 24 worst hitters in the hall and 13 of the worst 14 pitchers were VC selections.
Does that compromise their credibility? You'd think so, but the mainstream public seems to take the Hall at face value. As to what can be done, I think you're seeing it. You've got dozens of eloquent and largely web-based writers advocating for Blyleven and Gossage, and as a result, their vote totals have risen markedly over the last few years. the goal of JAWS is to identify and promote above-average HOF candidates so as to raise the standards of the elected. Is it having any impact? Not by itself, but I think it fits in well with the rest of what's going on online.
I think there's a generation of writers to whom any sabermetric evaluation of the Hall is lost. But the guys who are working their way towards that 10-year status which gets them a vote will be more receptive to seeing things in a different light. That won't undo the mistakes of the past, but may right a few wrongs, and make mistakes less likely.
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