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Dear BBWAA: please lower your Hall of Fame voting standards

Jan 9, 2012, 2:12 PM EDT

Tim Raines

Dave Cameron makes a well-reasoned appeal to the BBWAA to lower its Hall of Fame voting standards and let more dudes into Cooperstown:

To me, an inclusive hall is a better hall, and one I’d be more interested in visiting. I won’t begrudge someone who holds a small hall perspective, but I would ask them to perhaps consider to what end they’re in favor of exclusivity. What is the benefit of fewer people remembering how great Tim Raines really was?

There’s even a quasi-endorsement of Bill Simmons’ famous Hall of Fame Pyramid thing from several years ago in which players are ranked as immortals on down to the merely great.

It’ll never happen, but Dave makes a great case for a larger Hall of Fame.

Meanwhile: check out this fictitious Hall of Fame voter’s ballot and tell me that it doesn’t read like a lot of real ones you’ve read before.

  1. cur68 - Jan 9, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    Great article from Jeremy Blachman. He wouldn’t vote for RAFAEL PALMOLIVE but would for JACK MORRIS. Why? The mustache factor for Morris. That’s why I’d vote for him, too. Great whiskers. Meanwhile I never did like RAFAEL PALMOLIVE’s mustache. It just looks dishonest to me. Over all, I love his reasoning. Makes more sense than random hockey-guy’s ballot from earlier.

  2. phillieschamps2012 - Jan 9, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    “What is the benefit of fewer people remembering how great Tim Raines really was?”

    This argument does not hold water. Baseball history will remember Tim Raines and other players regardless of whether or not they make it into the Hall of Fame. Their exploits are documented in countless baseball books and articles. Having a more inclusive HOF does nothing more than water down the meaning involved with having the HOF to begin with.

    I think a bigger deal is being made about players not getting in than I have ever seen. Each year seems to get worse and worse with the media coverage in regards to who did not get in as opposed to who gets in. It will worsen next year with the influx of roiders that are eligible for the ballot for the first time.

    • Mark - Jan 9, 2012 at 2:40 PM

      Maybe it has a lot to do with the fact that we’re finally valuing and appreciating players more effectively than we have in the past.

      • phillieschamps2012 - Jan 9, 2012 at 2:45 PM

        I would say that whether or not Tim Raines ever makes the Hall of Fame, I will remember him as a great base-stealer and decent hitter. He’s probably the 3rd best baseball stealer I ever saw (behind Henderson and Coleman). I know how good he was. In all reality, he’s probably not HOF worthy. But, he was still pretty good.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 9, 2012 at 3:10 PM

        He’s probably the 3rd best baseball stealer I ever saw (behind Henderson and Coleman)

        Vince Coleman’s best year he had a 88% successful steal rate. Tim Raines tied or beat that 5 times (minimum 20 steals in a year). Tim Raines career success rate was 85%. Coleman only beat that 3 times (same minimum 20 steals in a year).

        Considering the thousands of games (for some, tens of thousands) that we’ve watched, merely going off memory isn’t the best option.

      • phillieschamps2012 - Jan 9, 2012 at 3:22 PM

        churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged, speed and basestealing-wise, Raines wasn’t even in the same league as Vince Coleman. Coleman was a beast when it came to stealing bases. Coleman played 10 less years, and still had 752 SBs to Raines 980 SBs. Raines never stole over 100 bases in a season, but Coleman did three times.

        Anyone who saw both play will say Coleman was a way better base stealer than Raines.

        You stated going off memory wasn’t the best option, so I looked up both of their numbers. It’s not even close.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 9, 2012 at 3:29 PM

        You stated going off memory wasn’t the best option, so I looked up both of their numbers. It’s not even close.

        What numbers are you looking at? Raines stole more while getting caught less. Yes Coleman put up three years over 100, he consistently got caught more than Raines. That significantly decreases the value of stealing if you keep getting caught.

      • paperlions - Jan 9, 2012 at 3:34 PM

        No, Coleman simply ran whether it was a good idea or not. Making outs is always a bad idea, no matter how you make them.

        Whether Raines is elected to the HOF or not may affect how you remember him, but if you don’t think Raines was a clear HOFer, you don’t remember him very well.

      • Alex K - Jan 9, 2012 at 3:37 PM

        phillieschamps2012, What Church was getting at was this- Tims Raines stole a lot of bases and wasn’t caught very much. Vince Coleman stole a lot of bases, but was caught a lot more times than Raines. So in that context the raw steals numbers don’t mean a whole lot.

        Raines was a better base stealer.

      • phillieschamps2012 - Jan 9, 2012 at 3:42 PM

        churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged, Rickey Henderson led the league in caught stealing 5 times. As a matter of fact, the year he stole 130 bases, be was caught 46 times. He is the MLB leader in SBs AND caught stealing. Point is that the more a guy runs, the more likely he will be caught. The same applies to Vince Coleman.

        Coleman was a better base stealer than Raines. He was physically faster and had more stolen bases per year than Raines. Once again, Raines played 23 years. Coleman played 10 years. Raines 980 SBs, Coleman 752 SBs.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 9, 2012 at 5:58 PM

        Point is that the more a guy runs, the more likely he will be caught.

        No, it doesn’t.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gambler%27s_fallacy

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 9, 2012 at 6:02 PM

        Once again, Raines played 23 years. Coleman played 10 years.

        You’re also wrong on this. If you want to count a year as actually playing a game, regardless of amount, then it’s Raines 23, Coleman 13. If you want to set a minimum, like 40 games played, then it’s Raines 21, Coleman 11.

    • Jonny 5 - Jan 9, 2012 at 2:47 PM

      In 30 years from now when those 40-30 year old books are no longer published or read, they will be forgotten by the younger generations. Do you know who Lefty O’Doul is off the top of your head? It usually takes a SF native to know who he is. I never heard of him until I got deep into the history of the sport.

      • phillieschamps2012 - Jan 9, 2012 at 2:53 PM

        I’ve read many, many books from the 1950’s-1960’s that documented players from the turn of the century. Let’s not forget the amount of film on these players from the last 40 years. There will always be a format, whether digital or on paper, that the exploits of players will be documented in. The HOF hasn’t cornered the market on being the sole documenter of a player’s career. The author suggesting above that people will forget because some players don’t make the HOF is absurd.

      • Jonny 5 - Jan 9, 2012 at 3:01 PM

        So you never heard of the lifetime .349, .945 OPS hitter huh? He actually played for Philly in 1929 and hit .398, .465 OBP with 254 hits.

      • phillieschamps2012 - Jan 9, 2012 at 3:03 PM

        I’m sorry. Were you asking me a question, Jonny 5?

    • JBerardi - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:21 PM

      “This argument does not hold water. Baseball history will remember Tim Raines and other players regardless of whether or not they make it into the Hall of Fame. Their exploits are documented in countless baseball books and articles. Having a more inclusive HOF does nothing more than water down the meaning involved with having the HOF to begin with.”

      First off, if history is going to remember Tim Raines no matter what, why even have a HOF? Secondly, “more inclusive” in the context of the voting that we’re seeing today does NOT equate to “watering down” the hall. Raines, Edgar Martinez, Jeff Bagwell… these are GREAT players. They’re guys who are better than the average HOFer. But for various reasons, mostly having to do with the PED witch hunt and the basic innumeracy of the voters, they’re not getting in. And that’s what people are upset about.

  3. CJ - Jan 9, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    ” I would ask them to perhaps consider to what end they’re in favor of exclusivity. What is the benefit of fewer people remembering how great Tim Raines really was?”

    That’s the easiest question of the day. The voters would feel significantly less self-important and their egos would be diminished tremendously. And we can’t have that now can we?

    The universe as we know it would then implode proving both Nostradamus and the Mayans would be correct after all, and that crazy guy predicting the end of the world last October would have only been a few mere months off.

  4. aleskel - Jan 9, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    Ok, between this and the Mueller/Mattingly stories, it’s obvious that people like the idea of honoring particular non-HOF-level players. If we can’t have a real Hall of Very Good, why don’t we have an occasional award to recognize high-level players or fan favorites, a la the Spinks award? That way you could give a nice honorific to popular professionals like Harold Baines or Keith Hernandez, or maybe guys who made a big impact even though their careers weren’t exceptional, like a Roger Maris, Tommy John or Bo Jackson. And yes, Jamie Moyer would definitely get this hypothetical award.

    • thefalcon123 - Jan 9, 2012 at 3:01 PM

      http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2006/1/16/142030/618

      Behold: BTB’s Ray Lankford Wing of the Hall of Fame (two Lankford related posts in one day! I will keep his memory alive).

    • phillieschamps2012 - Jan 9, 2012 at 3:02 PM

      Most teams already have the type of system in place. They usually call it a “wall of fame” or “ring of honor”. They bring back the player and put a plaque up to honor the player.

      I agree with you that people like to honor these guys. It’s almost become an American Idol popularity contest. Maybe that’s the answer. MLB runs a 5 night Baseball Idol contest every year and the American people get to elect 2 or 3 players a year. Then we can stop hearing the bitching and moaning once and for all.

    • CJ - Jan 9, 2012 at 3:05 PM

      Just call it the “No, sorry, you’re not getting into the HOF, but here’s the Jamie Moyer Lifetime Achievement Award” Award.

      • aleskel - Jan 9, 2012 at 3:12 PM

        or the A. Bud Selig Award For Outstanding Acheivement in the Field of Excellence

  5. bigleagues - Jan 9, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    Barry “The Man” Larkin is in!

  6. deadeyedesign23 - Jan 9, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    I realize I’m probably in the minority, but I’d actually rather see it get harder to get into the hall. (Realizing that steroid are a separate issue all together). There are plenty of players who I’m fine with being in given where the bar is set now, but I never look at Jim Rice, Blylevin etc and say “there’s one of the greatest to ever pick up a baseball.” And maybe that;s not what you;re supposed to say when you look at the hall of fame, but that’s how I’ve always thought of it.

    • paperlions - Jan 9, 2012 at 3:37 PM

      It is harder to get into the hall than it used to be, quite a bit harder considering how many more players/teams there are now than there were decades ago. If the top 10 players on this year entered the HOF today (rather than just 1), the average quality of HOF players would actually increase.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Jan 10, 2012 at 3:08 AM

      deadeye, I’ll join you in this. Among the very best, ever. One of the dominant players in his era. Perennial, or nearly so, contender for awards. Won ERA, batting, HR titles, gold gloves… plural. These are some of the things I think of when I think Hall of Famer. Do I have to think for more than 10 seconds about including him, and start comparing his stats? Then perhaps he really doesn’t belong with Ruth, Cobb, Young, Aaron, Mays, Clemente, Joe D., Mantle, Williams, Koufax, Gibson…

  7. lawyermalloy - Jan 9, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    I’ve said for years the Writers association carries way too much power in selecting HOF and the selection should go to the players NOT a bunch of NON athletic writers.

  8. brewcrewfan54 - Jan 9, 2012 at 7:20 PM

    Lets let more people in and make it the Hall of Pretty Good. While we’re at it lets quit keeping score and give all the players trophies at the end of the season.

  9. dondbaseball - Jan 9, 2012 at 9:37 PM

    I believe that many advanced metric mainstream writers will start to extoll the virtues of Raines and others similar to Lederer touting Bert Blyleven and his stats. That being said, just who is such a worthy hall Of famer that they have become ineligible? Santo was elected this year by the Vets so there is a fail safe. Besides I have heard many writers lament Rice, Perez and Sutton being elected and they certainly were what I call hall of very good. Keep up the discussions with WAR and wOBA and others to continue the education and promote discussion. I must add that I do not wish to see a hall with jack Morris in it! his stats are very pedestrian and the “memory” of far too many is what keeps his totals high, not his actual production.

  10. mtm1321 - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:42 AM

    I don’t particularly agree with this article, it might a matter of language or use of words but the HOF already has a tier system or different levels of players.
    If you look at whose in the HOF, you can say that guys like Ruth, Mays, Aaron are the Gods and the newest members like Larkin, Dawson, Rice made it on the bare minimum standard.
    The system isn’t perfect by any means and can be improved but I believe it does allow the best of players to make it in every year.
    I don’t believe everyone should make it in, there has to be a standard and until someone comes up with a better way I guess this way will wok. So if your favorite player is a HOF then be happy if not enjoy the memories of watching your favorite player because that’s as good as it gets.

  11. millybo - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    The fact of the matter guys is that Hall of Fame voting in too subjective to be of any real value. There has to be an established standard which all players must reach to become really eligible. There are unspoken standards which various voters used but they too are subjective. The similar situation would apply if we were to establish a Hall of Fame for past presidents of the United States. What do you think the position would be on a person like Presidents Nixon and Clinton? Opinions would differ on that and without set standards who knows whether either would get in.

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