I think most readers of this site will agree that the current Hall of Fame voters -- those members of the BBWAA with at least ten years of service -- don't perform at much higher than a C+ level. But who would do better? Here are some options:
- The players' peers. Maybe each player with at least 60 days on a MLB roster during a season in which the nominated player played gets a vote, and the votes are weighted by number of seasons as a peer. The argument for this approach is that you have to have played the game to really appreciate and know who the best players are. The argument against this position is that the first argument is a load of crap. MLB players are certainly the best at knowing how to perform certain skills, but there's no reason they should be the best at determining value, the relative importance of outcomes, which result from the application of skills.
The players' bosses. This would include managers and/or general managers. These decision-makers know which players they wanted on their teams. Or at least in theory. To give Bill Bavasi and Dusty Baker the same number of votes as Billy Beane and Earl Weaver seems silly. Personally, I like this idea better than giving the vote to players, but it's only marginally better.
A different group of baseball writers. Good reporters are not necessarily good analysts. And the BBWAA doesn't even make an attempt to differentiate between good and bad reporters. But what if they did? What if there were elections of a special group of writers every few years who actually were smart analysts, and it's those writers who vote for the Hall of Fame?
- A data based algorithm. You know, something like JAWS. Obviously, nobody's in favor of leaving voting up to just any data-driven system (cough productive outs cough), but might there be some that are really really good? You could even build in 20% of the vote based on humans adjusting for intangibles/immeasurables, I suppose.
- A mixture of everything. I hate to go down the BCS route, but maybe players, managers, writers, and the stats all get input to varying degrees. This would certainly give a voice to everyone, although mixing together a lot of B.S. with a touch of intelligence (whichever piece you think is the intelligent one) still leaves a lot of B.S. in the mixture.
- A board of trustees. I'm not really sure how this one would work, but I think it's possible to create a consensus of 25 baseball people who we all trust to a certain degree. Names like Sandy Alderson, Bill James, Earl Weaver, Joe Posnanski, Scott Boras, and Bart Giamatti come to find. This approach is similar to the "mixture of everything" approach, except that you don't give votes to all members of each group. Instead, you let each group put their best foot forward.
We all know when something isn't working, but the question of finding a better method is often trickier than you first think. Which ideas seems plausible? Can you come up with any others you favor? Or is the Hall of Fame just not that important?