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The inner circle Hall of Fame

Jul 19, 2012, 1:34 PM EDT


The other day we talked about unanimous and first ballot Hall of Famers. That’s fun to talk about even if there is no formal designation or greater honor for Hall of Famers who got in on their first try and those who didn’t.

Also fun to talk about despite it’s lack of true significance: “inner-circle” Hall of Famers. ┬áThose who are the best-of-the-best and would make it in even if every Hall of Fame voter adhered to the standards set by the strictest of their number.

Graham Womack of Baseball: Past and Present wanted to get a list of the inner-circle Hall of Famers, so he had readers vote. He took the top 50 and presents the results today.

I won’t spoil it for you. You’ll have to go read it. I will tell you Jim Rice fans, however, that you may be somewhat unhappy.

  1. hojo20 - Jul 19, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    Bert Blyleven would be near the bottom of the list of all HOFers, and Craig Biggio will be the same. Just a Hall of very good guy.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 19, 2012 at 1:59 PM

      Who’s the better pitcher:

      A – 0.526 win %, 222 CG, 61 Shutouts, 112 ERA+, 1.247 WHIP, 2.04 K/BB
      B – 0.534 win %, 242 CG, 60 Shutouts, 118 ERA+, 1.198 WHIP, 2.80 K/BB

      One is Blyleven, and one is Nolan Ryan.

      • Rich Stowe - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:05 PM

        I’d take Blyleven over Ryan any day…you never knew what you were going to get with Nolan – the guy who could throw a no-hitter at will or the guy who would walk a ton of batters and throw a ton of wild pitches

      • El Bravo - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:05 PM

        Nolan Ryan.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:15 PM

        Noogies, you forgot to include a noogie stat.

        Impossible to compare them otherwise, this data is incomplete.

      • kopy - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:29 PM

        Blyleven was an amazing pitcher. The rebound anti-Blyleven movement from his HOF push underrates him too much.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 19, 2012 at 5:02 PM

        Nolan Ryan is a terrific player, but is vastly overrated.

        Totally worthy of the Hall of Fame. Not as good as some people think.

      • ezwriter69 - Jul 19, 2012 at 5:55 PM

        Never, at ANY point in his career, was Blyleven among the top five starting pitchers in the game, most years, not in the top ten. That’s no HOF’er in my book, regardless of stats geek bs.

      • Roger Moore - Jul 19, 2012 at 8:26 PM

        Not enough information to make a clear decision from the stats you gave. For example, you left out career innings pitched, HR allowed, and anything about the quality of the defenses they played in front of. I think your point is still valid- Ryan and Blyleven were much closer in value than most people think- but I never thought either one was close to the inner circle anyway. That’s for guys like Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Lefty Grove, Warren Spahn, Tom Seaver, and Greg Maddux.

  2. pjmitch - Jul 19, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    OK, lets make these the only 50 and move on until someone lives up to the level where #51 needs to be added. I believe it was Bob Costas that said, “the Hall of Fame should be for the gods”. I agree. Although I disagree with who he has as #50. There are better players in his list below that.

    • lardin - Jul 19, 2012 at 1:58 PM

      Are you talking about the Hall of fame museum or the room with the bronze plaques? Roger Maris is not a Hall of fame player, but hes in the hall of fame. Devon White hit four home runs in a game, hes not a hall of famer but is mentioned in the Hall. There dozens of pitchers who have pitcher perfect games or no hitters who are mentioned in the Hall but are not Hall of famers. Its time for people to differentiate between Hall of famers with the bronze plaques and the Hall of fame, the museum. The Museum is record of baseball history and is open to every single person who ever played the game. I am a small hall person, who thinks the bronze plaques are for the best of the best…

      • schlom - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:10 PM

        Devon White never hit 4 HR in a game, are you thinking of Mark Whiten or Mark Cameron maybe?

      • pjmitch - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:57 PM

        Sorry, didn’t think I needed to specify this. The room with the plaques and those that are inducted for that reason, not the museum.

    • The Common Man - Jul 19, 2012 at 1:59 PM

      Good idea. That way we can make sure that no one ever wants to visit the Hall of Fame again.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:44 PM

        I take all my cues from Bob Costas. He once said pizza is delicious, and I’ve never eaten anything else ever since.

  3. Rich Stowe - Jul 19, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    Years ago, Bill Simmons came up with a pyramid for the HOF (the higher up the pyramid, the lesser number of players but the greater they were)…I can’t complain too much about this list (only a couple problems with their top 50) and as for the ranking, it’s a toss up – I come up with a different top-10 all-time every day of the week

    • danandcasey - Jul 19, 2012 at 1:59 PM

      Agreed. Of course, that is the nature of drawing a line – you can always quibble about which side of the line a few players should fall. What surprised me is that no player was a unanimous selection. So – one of the voters did not think Mays was one of the 50 greatest. Five of the voters left off Aaron. I would have expected a handful of players to be on every ballot.

      • Rich Stowe - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:07 PM

        Very good point – I would have thought Mays, Ruth, Mantle, Musial, Walter JOhnson, Gehrig etc all would be on every ballot (the top 15 or 20 players at least)…I do think if you ask any fan or writer who there top 10 position players are you’ll get 6 or 7 the same on every ballot

      • Rich Stowe - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:09 PM

        a reason for this may be that the voting was open to the general public so there might have been a lot of voting for “guys I saw play” (which could explain why Cal Ripken and Nolan Ryan made the cut)and why the older players like Ruth, Johnson, Cobb etc didn’t get 100%

  4. ptfu - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    Arglebargle! [Insert name] didn’t make the cut! I saw him in a game once and he was awesome. What a farce!

  5. 18thstreet - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    Cap Anson, I believe, did as much to sustain the segregation of baseball as any one man — not merely reflecting the racism of his era (such as Ty Cobb), but working to further it and sustain it.

    I refuse believe such a person deserves inner circle status.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 20, 2012 at 3:50 PM

      I can’t believe I got more thumbs down for saying Cap Anson was racist than for saying Nolan Ryan was overrated.

      I thought the latter was a more controversial opinion. Huh.

  6. sdelmonte - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    Someone didn’t vote for Willie Mays. Amazing.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:31 PM

      Yeah I don’t understand some people leaving Mays off. And two left off Ruth. wtf?

      • 18thstreet - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:37 PM

        Allow me. Ruth started out looking like a sure-fire Hall of Famer: More than 100 complete games before turning 25, ERA around 2. Huge scoreless inning streak, if you’re into that type of thing. Sure, he walked a lot of guys, but overall, he was one of the greatest pitchers ever. At least, that’s what it looked like.

        Suddenly, he’s sold to the Yankees, who obviously had a hunch he couldn’t keep it up, because in 15 years for them, he only threw 15 innings. And the Red Sox didn’t even ask for a player back; the guy was such a headcase, they couldn’t wait to unload him for cash.

        Add in the rumors about his drinking and womanizing: does that sound like a Hall of Famer to you? Not me. No sir.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jul 19, 2012 at 3:07 PM

        He won 96 games and hit 714 home runs in a day and age where few could hit even a few home runs. While being fat, drunk, and smoking like a chimney. Goddamn right he’s a HOF’er. The man made baseball look like the easiest thing in the world.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 19, 2012 at 5:19 PM


  7. deepstblu - Jul 19, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    When Bill James proposed an HoF inner circle he wrote, “These guys will have statues.” I can picture everybody on this list down to at least the mid-30s as having a statue.

  8. dirtyharry1971 - Jul 20, 2012 at 1:35 AM

    anyone who puts Mays ahead of Ruth is kidding themselves, Ruth was and IS still the best player the game ever saw. You cant even reasonably argue this fact, end of story

    • Reflex - Jul 21, 2012 at 6:10 AM

      While it is possible that this is the case, unfortunately it is not verifiable since during Ruth’s day he did not have to face the best competition, he only faced white competition. As remarkable as his feats were, he did not face the best of the best, either as a pitcher or a hitter, just the best of his own skin color.

      Mays faced the best of the best, and was damn near Ruth’s equal offensively(slightly less power but a ton more speed), and better than him defensively. He also played most of his career in an extreme pitching era, whereas Ruth was the beginning of a strong hitters era.

      Ruth was great, don’t get me wrong, but yes, reasonable people can debate whether or not Mays is better. And honestly due to segregation, I do not believe its a question that can ever be answered.

  9. skipperxc - Jul 20, 2012 at 8:36 AM

    For all the crap we give the actual HOF voters about being unable to unanimously vote modern players in, the fact that a poll in 2012 couldn’t unanimously vote any players in, not even Ruth, Mays, or Aaron, speaks volumes about the ability of single voters to drive an agenda and ruin it for everybody. Unbelievable.

    • thefalcon123 - Jul 20, 2012 at 10:11 AM

      Just to be clear though, these voters are just random internet folk. I submitted a ballot for it, and my credentials are that I work in a performing arts school.

      I mean, real HOF voters would have done a much worse job.

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