clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Modern Era Hall of Fame ballot shows some baffling choices

New, 2 comments

The Hall of Fame has done a lot to address the problems with the Veterans’ Committee, but this ballot proves there is still a lot of work left to do.

Getty Images

MLB recently released its 10-man ballot for the Modern Era committee to consider for the Hall of Fame. This era considers those whose biggest contributions to the game happened from 1970 to 1987. If a member of the ballot receives at least 75 percent of the vote from the 16-man committee, he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The results will be announced on December 10th.

Here is everyone on the ballot with links to their Baseball-Reference pages. (Marvin Miller was the head of the players’ union, not a player himself.)

To put this list into context, let’s take a look at some of the players who were omitted from the ballot. The good people over at the Hall of Stats tweeted a great list of players who were left off.

You could make the argument that the list of names left off the ballot make up a better ballot than the actual ballot itself. Some transparency as to how the Hall of Fame settled on this ballot would go a long way.

Lou Whitaker is one of the most egregious and embarrassing mistakes that the BBWAA ever made in its history of voting for the Hall of Fame. He is a no-brainer who barely got any votes, and as a result fell off the ballot after one year. Bobby Grich was comparable and met a similar fate. The problem was that they came up in a time where their skills were undervalued. Neither one of them raked, but they were both very good defenders at an up-the-middle position. Sweet Lou was a good baserunner, too. They would both easily have my vote.

(I always thought it would be really cool to see Whitaker and Trammell go in at the same time. It’s a nice thought, but it probably won’t ever happen.)

I am not going to go over the selected names left off the ballot in detail; suffice it to say that each one at the very least deserves a second look. I would not vote for all of them, but they all have a case worth considering. This especially goes for Greg Nettles, Buddy Bell, and Sal Bando, given how underrepresented third baseman are in the Hall of Fame.

Marvin Miller is one of the most important figures in MLB history thanks to his efforts in bringing about free agency. You can imagine how owners and executives feel about him, which might be a factor as to why he has not gotten in yet. He might be the most worthy candidate of any name mentioned here. That is one candidate that the ballot selection committee nailed.

Half of the names on the ballot fall far short of the standard set by other Hall of Famers at their positions: Steve Garvey, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Don Mattingly, and Dave Parker. This is true if you are going by JAWS, Hall Rating, or any reasonable assessment of their relevant stats and their careers. They had great careers, to be sure, but there were much better players to consider.

The Veterans’ Committee is a great idea in theory. The BBWAA has made mistakes over the years, and giving those overlooked players a second chance is a worthwhile effort. The execution of it, however, leaves a lot to be desired. The Veterans’ Committee has been panned and criticized for decades. It is responsible for some of the most egregiously bad Hall of Fame selections. There have been countless articles written criticizing the Veterans’ Committee, so I will not rehash those. A Google search will turn up plenty of them.

At least the Hall of Fame is trying to make it better. Changes I would implement are to make the committee much larger and make those already in the Hall ineligible to serve. Current members might very well make good faith efforts in their voting, but the fact of the matter is that they benefit from keeping the Hall of Fame as small as possible. It is best not to have that conflict of interest.

One thing that has not improved is the ballot selection. The whole point of the Veterans’ Committee is to give overlooked players a second chance, especially players who got little or no support on the ballot. Players like Whitaker and Grich. Instead, the ballots tend to favor popular players. With the exception of Ted Simmons, all the players on the ballot got at least 20 percent of the vote and exhausted the time limit on the BBWAA ballot. Of the omitted players I mentioned, most of them were one and done.

Dwight Evans and Dave Stieb were two omissions that I found especially comical. Evans has a much, much better Hall of Fame case than his former teammate, Jim Rice, who got into the Hall in his final year of eligibility despite having a poor case. Stieb is frequently brought up when people make nonsensical arguments for Morris. Their careers saw a lot of overlap. Stieb was far and away the better pitcher, yet he only lasted one year on the ballot.

Back to Simmons for a moment: He was a great inclusion on a lackluster ballot. Now that we know the value of OBP, we better understand how good he really was. I’d vote for him.

This ballot is disappointing. It omits deserving, important players, and includes a few that would seriously dilute the Hall of Fame standard. Given the Committee’s track record, that is a real concern. The Hall of Fame still has plenty of work to do in reforming the process to give overlooked players a second chance.

. . .

Luis Torres is a Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score. He is a medicinal chemist by day, baseball analyst by night. You can follow him on Twitter at @Chemtorres21.