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Great Moments in withholding a Hall of Fame vote

Jan 8, 2013, 9:26 AM EDT

Craig Biggio

It seems like Craig Biggio is going to be the first 3,000 hit guy to not make the Hall of Fame on his first try (non-Palmeiro division) in living memory. Seems silly, especially considering how good he was defensively and how he was no mere singles hitter. But that’s not as silly as the reasons some people are offering for not voting for him. Like George Vecsey:

Craig Biggio? He played three positions – very impressive – and has excellent longevity numbers – but was not necessarily the most feared hitter on his own team. Wait a year.

By that reasoning you wouldn’t vote for Lou Gehrig, Yogi Berra, Joe Morgan, Willie McCovey, Eddie Matthews, Gary Carter, Charlie Gerhinger and probably a dozen other guys. Derek Jeter too, for that matter. Oh, and it’s even sillier when you realize that the guy who was the most feared hitter on that team — Jeff Bagwell — isn’t up to snuff for Vecsey either.

The mental gymnastics people will go through to avoid voting for someone have gotten pretty impressive.

  1. kirkvanhouten - Jan 8, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    It’s amazing that it is starting to look like one of the most stacked HOF ballots of all time will not produce a single HOF selection. The PED guys can’t get in because they used PEDs (or are accused of it because they were buff and hit a lot of home runs) and the non-PED guys can’t get in because they weren’t as good as the PED guys (well…Biggio was, but that besides the point). Anyone else see a problem here?

    Also, what’s with this “wait a year” nonsense? Is Craig Biggio going to rack up 100 more hits and 50 more homers between now and next year’s HOF ballot?

    • paperlions - Jan 8, 2013 at 9:42 AM

      That’s the thing though…isn’t it? For writers that make assumptions about the effects of steroids, if a guy was good enough, then he was a juicer. So you are mostly left with a bunch of guys that actually weren’t good enough. Because the voters are split in their attitudes, it results in no one getting elected.

      Some guys that aren’t being elected are falling short simply because the voters don’t know what they are doing.

      There is no argument for Trammel not being in the HOF. None. He was every bit as good as Barry Larkin, but somehow many voters just couldn’t be bothered to notice or to do enough homework to realize the fact. Just like Lou Whittaker was every bit the player Sandberg was and a clear top 10 2B of all time (seriously, good luck finding even 8 2B that were better than Whittaker).

      Raines was the 2nd best lead off hitter of all time, fantastic at getting on base, a little power, great on the bases, a highly valuable player. There is no argument for him not being a clear cut HOFer.

      The problem is that too many voters are simple minded. If a guy was fantastic at one thing only, he is more likely to be elected than a guy that was good at everything and a clearly more valuable player. Of course, if voters want to make themselves feel better about not voting for a guy, they’ll just label him a one trick pony, even if he wasn’t (e.g. McGwire) and use that as a reason not to vote for him….even though they regularly vote for guys that could only do one thing well.

      Far too many voters draw conclusions and then hunt for reasons to justify how they want to vote….rather than looking at all of the evidence and drawing conclusions after becoming informed.

    • mrfloydpink - Jan 8, 2013 at 12:41 PM

      “Is Craig Biggio going to rack up 100 more hits and 50 more homers between now and next year’s HOF ballot?”

      If he was a True Hall of Famer™, that’s EXACTLY what he’d do.

  2. sportsdrenched - Jan 8, 2013 at 9:35 AM

    It’s because of these shananigans by the voters that I pretty much ignore the HOF Voting, and the HOF in general. It gives me one of those “Why Bother, Headaches” NOT because of the actual PED use. And that makes me sad.

  3. nategearhart - Jan 8, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    “Wait a year” is the new coward’s-way of saying “no”, apparently. Biggio (just like everyone else) has had to wait so that Vecsey could have FIVE YEARS to sort out whether he was a hall of famer.
    Not to mention, Vecsey seriously undersells Biggio’s credentials. “Three positions and longevity”? Please.

  4. The Common Man - Jan 8, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    On the bright side, this is just who Vescey said he would vote for if he did vote. As an occasional contributor to the NYT, he thankfully isn’t allowed.

    • itripledogdareyou - Jan 8, 2013 at 12:14 PM

      If Biggio had played for the Yankees, Vescey would be writing about how Biggio’s was the best second basemen of all time.

    • itripledogdareyou - Jan 8, 2013 at 12:14 PM

      If Biggio had played for the Yankees, Vescey would be writing about how Biggio was the best second basemen of all time.

  5. gosport474 - Jan 8, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    Here is what bugs me about the ‘wait a year’ thinking: What if something happens to Biggio in that year of waiting and he doesn’t live to see himself make it into the HOF, just like Santo. And why play games with it. There is absolutely no reason to not vote for him. 3000 hits, clean from PEDs, a hard-working, complete baseball player who had a nice peak and compiled some really good stats. I would think this is exactly the ‘role model’ you would want on the stage at Cooperstown making a speech about the great game of baseball.

    • cur68 - Jan 8, 2013 at 11:35 AM

      Someone made that “Role Model” argument the other day on Craig’s “what if” post about a current HoFer admitting being juiced. As you point out, no part of the voting process makes sense. Not from a role model standpoint, an evidence base for cheating, or even simple logic based on numbers. These guys vote by “who I think is popular” not who’s worthy. Along the way they get to wax sanctimonious at the expense of people who earned the accolades they deserve. You’re right: Biggio could easily not live to see his induction. Then what? These assholes will slobber all over themselves about how great he was and how it was a shame and so on.

      • skids003 - Jan 8, 2013 at 12:45 PM

        cur68, I agree with you here.

  6. sdelmonte - Jan 8, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    What if everyone were on the ballot for one year? You get one chance to put someone in the Hall this way, and maybe in ten years the other committee comes back to you. Imagine how different the dynamic would be.

  7. stex52 - Jan 8, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    This has officially teetered into the absurd. The HOF is going to have to step in and do something about the process.

    It’s not about the players anymore. It’s about a bunch of aging prima donnas who don’t seem to understand baseball very well and have to share their every preference and prejudice with us.

    Let me know when it’s over.

    • jeffa43 - Jan 8, 2013 at 12:49 PM

      Your comment should be the lead on espn.

      Not voting Biggio is irrational thinking.

      • stex52 - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:28 PM

        I want them both in. But Biggio deserves it before Bagwell, even. This is just insane.

  8. arrabin56 - Jan 8, 2013 at 10:02 AM

    Here’s the amazing part- at least with Biggio he gives a reason why he would wait a year. Sure, the reason is moronic and nonsensical, completely inconsistent with previous Hall thinking, internally inconsistent with Vescey’s own (hypothetical) ballot, and just plain dumb. But it is a reason. Same with his reasons against Edgar Martinez (DH is a gimmick) and Bagwell (generally suspected). Horrible, unacceptable reasons, but at least they’re reasons.

    “There is no tangible evidence against Mike Piazza. His career numbers seem worthy of the Hall. Wait a year.”

    “Curt Schilling? Great post-season statistics. Wait a year.”

    Huh?

  9. aceshigh11 - Jan 8, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    What the HELL is going on with these baseball writers?

  10. albertmn - Jan 8, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    No, he won’t get any more hits between this year and next year. I think what Vecsey was likely implying is that he doesn’t view Biggio as a “first ballot Hall of Famer”. It is a stupid viewpoint held by a lot of voters that certain guys belong, but you have to be the cream of the crop to be elected on your first ballot, so they will withhold the vote on a guy they believe belongs, just so he has to wait a year and not be a first ballot guy. Which is entirely stupid and vindictive.

    I have yet to visit the HOF, though I plan to some day (easier for me than for some others, since my wife also likes baseball). But, do the plaques note how many years it took to get elected, or how many votes they got? I am asking because I legitimately don’t know. If it does list that info, it is stupid. If it doesn’t list that info, then the games voters play are even more stupid than I already thought.

    • 18thstreet - Jan 8, 2013 at 12:20 PM

      Writers who do not vote for a player that they consider worthy because of the “first ballot” excuse are ignoring the rules of the vote. Such people should have their vote taken away.

      • skids003 - Jan 8, 2013 at 12:49 PM

        How do you get to be a “baseball writer?”

      • joegolfer - Jan 9, 2013 at 1:41 AM

        I totally agree. Don’t know why they can’t find a fairer system somehow. Nothing would be perfect or would please everybody, but there’s got to be something better than what they have now.
        We have some voters who actually use the excuse that nobody deserves to go into the HOF on their very first ballot, regardless of talent. Even guys who never were suspected of PED’s and had fantastic careers.
        We have some voters who send in an empty ballot in protest to the PED’s users, not even realizing that their ballot counts against the % needed for some guys who should be going in, like an Alan Trammell.

  11. kelshannon19 - Jan 8, 2013 at 10:17 AM

    Biggio isn’t getting in simply because he was an Astro. If Craig put up the same exact numbers for the Yankees or Red Sox then he would undoubtedly be a first ballot guy. It just isn’t right.

    • strosfan85 - Jan 8, 2013 at 12:41 PM

      i agree with u completely.. hes getting squeezed because he played in a smaller market.. if he was a dodger, giant, yankee, or red sox.. he would be elected in a heartbeat

      • stex52 - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:32 PM

        What you say is true. I normally don’t let this east coast-west coast bias bother me. But this is ridiculous. It should be a walk for Biggio.

  12. Chris Fiorentino - Jan 8, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    The problem with many of the BBWAA writers seems to be that they are looking for reasons to keep people OUT of the Hall of Fame instead of looking for reasons to put people INTO the Hall. It’s ridiculous to say that, “Biggio is a hall of famer, but he wasn’t the most feared hitter on his team…so let’s wait until next year” Huh??? Basically, I found a reason to keep him OUT this year, but next year……..he should be IN. Seems like every day, another one of these fools comes up with another stupid idea.

    ps If they are so worried about having nobody voted for this year, they should make these guys vote for BETWEEN 4 and 10 players starting next year, especially with the glut of Hall-worthy guys on the ballot. If you can’t find 4 with THIS BALLOT, then you shouldn’t get to vote ever again!!!!!!!

  13. wpjohnson - Jan 8, 2013 at 10:28 AM

    Well, I’m going to buck the trend again. I think the Hall is far too watered down now. Of course, in this world of social promotion and quotas, I am swimming against the tide.

    Biggio deserves election. However, first ballot choices, as it used to be, should be reserved for special players. Biggio was not a special player and neither were many of the recent first ballot electees.

    Now, all you water carriers can shoot me down with your misguided “inclusiveness”.

    • mrfloydpink - Jan 8, 2013 at 10:53 AM

      “However, first ballot choices, as it used to be, should be reserved for special players.”

      I agree with you 100%. That is PRECISELY why the Hall of Fame’s detailed guidelines for voting make it very clear that only very special players should be voted for on the first ballot. It’s rule number…uh…hmmmm. Well, I know it’s in there somewhere, right?

    • mrfloydpink - Jan 8, 2013 at 10:59 AM

      Oh, also: Arguing that the Hall of Fame should be more exclusive, and arguing that Craig Biggio should wait until his second ballot, is arguing apples and oranges. Making Craig Biggio wait a year does not make the Hall of Fame more exclusive; he’s in either way.

    • kirkvanhouten - Jan 8, 2013 at 11:14 AM

      You know…if every voter followed that first-ballot-for-the-truly-elite nonsense, virtually everyone would fall off the ballot the first year…you realize that, right?

      Secondly, Biggio waters down nothing (least of all the already-watered down HOF). Tell me, in the past 50 or 60 years, how many 2nd baseman have been better than Biggio? Well, Joe Morgan, Rod Carew (who actually spent more of his career at first base)….maybe Roberto Alomar, though I think Biggio was better. So how is being the 2nd or 3rd best send baseman of a half century not elite enough to be a first ballot Hall of Famer?

      • 18thstreet - Jan 8, 2013 at 12:27 PM

        Best second basemen since Joe Morgan’s rookie year: http://www.fangraphs.com/graphswd.aspx?teamid=0&pos=2B&season=2012&season1=1963&grid=25

        Comparison of Biggio, Grich, Alomar, Whitaker: http://www.fangraphs.com/graphsw.aspx?players=1013846,1005033,549,860

      • stex52 - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:42 PM

        Something else to remember. He spent four years as a catcher, getting a Silver Slugger and an All Star berth. And two years (age 37 and 38) as an outfielder so they could sign Jeff Kent. Those two outfield years clobbered his dWAR. But he did it for the team.

    • paperlions - Jan 8, 2013 at 11:43 AM

      Next time anyone suggests that former players or HOF member should vote instead of writers….just remember than nearly all of the worst HOFers were put in by veterans committees comprised of former players.

    • Paul Zummo - Jan 8, 2013 at 11:47 AM

      I know that when I visit the Hall of Fame I like to visit the “first time ballot” section, the special area of the Hall where “special” players are kept separate from the rest.

      Wait a second – you mean there’s no such thing? You mean a player elected on the first ballot is in the same Hall of Fame as one elected on the 15th? The mind, it reels.

    • mrfloydpink - Jan 8, 2013 at 12:16 PM

      Incidentally:

      First-ballot inductees: Lou Brock, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, Kirby Puckett, Dennis Eckersley

      Not First-ballot inductees: Tris Speaker, Joe DiMaggio, Rogers Hornsby, Eddie Collins, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Eddie Mathews

      So, let’s not pretend that this is a really meaningful distinction that somehow identifies the best of the best.

      • 18thstreet - Jan 8, 2013 at 12:47 PM

        Well, DiMaggio got votes while he was still active. He would have been first ballot under the rules of today.

        Well, I’m not sure he was the most feared player on his team. And then there was that messy divorce. Only topped 40 homeruns once and 200 hits twice. People thought he was a great baserunner, but how come he only stole 30 bases in his career.

        Wait a year.

      • kirkvanhouten - Jan 8, 2013 at 2:39 PM

        Not to mention that DiMaggio just quit on his team for three years doing god knows what. A real HOF would never quit on his team just because there were some measly wars going on.

  14. Lukehart80 - Jan 8, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    With so many writers sending empty (or nearly so) ballots as some sort of misguided “message” and others forced to leave 3 or 4 candidates they’d like to support off the ballot because of the ten-player limit, Kenny Lofton is going to fall short of 5% and fall of the ballot entirely.

    I realize his case isn’t a slam dunk (though I do think he merits induction), but he deserves more consideration than he’s getting right now, and instead it’s going to be 20+ years before there’s any sort of meaningful debate over his candidacy.

    • paperlions - Jan 8, 2013 at 11:46 AM

      Lofton is a perfect example of a guy that did a lot of things very well, but was not the BEST at anything. He was great at getting on base, had some power, a fantastic fielder, and great on the bases. Total it all up and he had value similar to guys like Gwynn, Winfield, or Piazza….but because he didn’t do one thing that made people ohh and ahh, he’s being dismissed as a legitimate candidate.

      • cur68 - Jan 8, 2013 at 11:59 AM

        Lofton was also awesome at looking about 10 years younger than he actually was. I miss that guy. He was a fun guy to watch play ball.

      • Lukehart80 - Jan 8, 2013 at 12:12 PM

        And Lofton was a historically good base runner, one of the 10-15 best ever (FWIW, he’s 8th in B-R’s “runs from baserunning,” the base running component of their WAR), but he doesn’t get full credit or recognition for it, because he arrived on the heels of Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines, and Willie Wilson.

        Sigh…

    • mrfloydpink - Jan 8, 2013 at 12:39 PM

      FWIW, more career bWAR than Manny Ramirez, Roberto Alomar, Ernie Banks, Dave Winfield, Jim Palmer, Ryne Sandberg and…Craig Biggio.

  15. strosfan85 - Jan 8, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    This is complete BS! So what we’re saying here is that no one is worthy of being a first ballot HOFer anymore? I might be a little biased for Big and Bags having grown up watching them patrol the infield for my team. But their numbers dont lie. Yes, Bagwell never got the chance to get to that magical 500 HR plateau because of a shoulder condidtion but he was still a ROY and an MVP and the greatest slugging 1B for about 5-6 years in the 90s. And Biggio, that is a no brainer! 3,000 hits! A great teammate, amazing leadoff hitter, good defensive player, and very active in the community.. an all-around good guy! If no one gets elected to the HOF this year because of the specualtion and shroud that steroids have left in the sport, then i dont think the voting process is valid anymore and other avenues should be looked at for electing men to this prestigious honor..

  16. misterchainbluelightning - Jan 8, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    Biggio doesn’t deserve the make the Hall on the 1st try
    But he will get 90% on the 2nd

    #BBWAlogic

  17. Detroit Michael - Jan 8, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    This is the Hall of Fame, not Halloween. Fear (or lack of it) is irrelevant.

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