Skip to content

“Let’s start putting Hall of Famers in the Hall of Fame”

Dec 19, 2013, 2:47 PM EDT


Dave Cameron of Fangraphs has a great post up that looks at the historical standards for the Hall of Fame and notes that Hall of Fame voters are being way, way, way harder on the current crop of candidates than their predecessors ever were on past candidates.

Specifically: typically, between 1% and 2% of major league players born each decade make it to the Hall of Fame. The players born in the 1960s are just about to make room for players born in the 1970s on the ballot and, at present, about .1% of them have been inducted. If you assume that Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Randy Johnson, Frank Thomas, Craig Biggio, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mariano Rivera will all make it, that’s still only .3% of the 1960s crop. Yes, PED-associated players cut into the number as they are most represented by players born in the 60s, but there are not enough of them — at least not enough of them for whom there is actual evidence of PED use — to account for the shortfall.

Cameron makes a strong argument that voters need to stop being idealistic about the Hall of Fame and holding its candidates to higher standards than players from the previous century were held. To start actually “putting Hall of Famers in the Hall of Fame.” That, even if voters don’t think the PED guys should go in, the best of the non-PED guys should go in so that the era in which these players played is properly represented. So that the Hall of Fame does not make it appear as though baseball was not played at an elite level from the 1980s through the early 2000s.

It all makes sense to me.

  1. stoutfiles - Dec 19, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    I’d rather it not be the Hall of Above Average.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Dec 19, 2013 at 3:01 PM

      That’s the point, though. If, historically, 1-2% of players make it, and right now only .1% are in, putting more guys in doesn’t make it “the Hall of Above Average.” It actually helps it remain the Hall of Fame rather than turn in to the “Hall of Immortals”

      • bayballtim - Dec 19, 2013 at 4:02 PM

        Good point, but how many more teams are there now? How many more left specialists who last a couple years in the league? Both inflating the total pool.

        You are dead on that they are not letting enough guys in, but not as bad as it looks on the surface comparing 1-2% of players to .1-.3%

      • tjwilliams - Dec 19, 2013 at 7:46 PM

        In 1970, there were 24 teams or 600 players at any given time. Today there are 30 teams or 750 players at any given time. Even if we kept the total number of players inducted consistent, then .8% – .16% of players should be getting inducted, not .1%.

    • Detroit Michael - Dec 19, 2013 at 3:02 PM

      I’d rather have the historical standards for HOF induction, although fuzzy, remain fairly consistent over time. Doing so would still not reduce it to merely the “Hall of Above Average.”

      • ezthinking - Dec 19, 2013 at 3:24 PM

        “Hall of Above Average” line is a “Below Average Comment.”

  2. The Dangerous Mabry - Dec 19, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    I remember Joe Posnanski doing something where he differentiated BBWAA voting from Veteran’s Committee voting and found that the recent voting by the writers is directly in line with their historical voting policies. If we want to judge the rate at which the writers are voting people into the hall now, we need to compare it to the rate at which the writers voted people into the hall historically, rather than the total hall of famers from each cohort, which is heavily influenced by the Veteran’s Committee voting. I’m not saying the writers aren’t being stingy with their votes recently, but Joe showed pretty clearly that the writers have ALWAYS been stingy with their votes, and it’s absolutely relevant to this article to look at the path each hall of famer took to get to the hall.

    • gloccamorra - Dec 19, 2013 at 5:56 PM

      Good point, but there are 206 players in the Hall and 96 were put there by the Veterans’ Committee. Up until 1961, there were only 16 teams in the modern era, and now there are 30. It wasn’t dilution, the population in ’61 was 180 million and now it’s 317 million – a bigger pool for quality ballplayers.

      I still think the BBWAA has to restrict ballots to full time baseball writers, and it’s time to increase the ballot to fifteen or twenty names. If they can’t or won’t do that, I’m in favor of expanding the Veterans’ Committee to provide a supplemental annual vote with fewer restrictions, meaning voting on some of the same guys on the regular ballot. Players could have two chances per year to get in, and the writers’ biases could be overruled.

      • moogro - Dec 19, 2013 at 10:29 PM

        Nice ideas.

  3. musketmaniac - Dec 19, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    hall of shame was my thoughts,as I exited halfway thru. one child in our group wanted to see the hit leader as I tried to explain why pete rose was not in another child in our group wanted to see the home run leader, to avoid that conversation we went for an early lunch. I was a little hesitant at first but I did not recognize most of the players in the hall it is filled with players from another era in America that no longer exists.

    • clemente2 - Dec 19, 2013 at 3:35 PM

      The Museum has those people you missed; and gives the history behind the people you saw but did not know. That’s one significant point of a museum, for you to learn. Too bad the children under your care did not get that experience.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Dec 19, 2013 at 3:45 PM

      Musket, ah, what a splendid teachable moment. Next time, be sure to show the young ones the plaques of the strike-outs leader and the stolen bases leader and the last man to hit .400 (who also served bravely in war; not sure about WAR), and explain the importance of playing by the rules.

      • Kevin S. - Dec 19, 2013 at 3:47 PM

        And just ignore the plaques of all the rule-breakers already in there?

    • cohnjusack - Dec 19, 2013 at 3:48 PM

      You could have gone to the third floor and shown the Pete Rose’s bat, or Barry Bonds branded ball, or any of the other hundreds of artifacts from players who don’t have plaque downstairs. I bet that would be way cooler to a bunch of kids than reading a plaque anyway.

    • chacochicken - Dec 19, 2013 at 4:03 PM

      You probably should have just pushed those poor kids into traffic. They shouldn’t have to suffer through a world like that anyway. A good thing those Bangladeshi kids get to make our garments professionally and not have to worry about the hit leader being in the baseball hall of fame.

    • 18thstreet - Dec 19, 2013 at 4:12 PM

      Why do people (well, this guy anyway) find it so hard to explain Barry Bonds to kids? Here: “Some people cheat, even though they shouldn’t. Sometimes they get caught, and there are consequences when that happens.” Try it next time.

      • billybawl - Dec 20, 2013 at 12:34 PM

        Confused: are you saying you wish for the days before MLB integrated? It is “another era in America that no longer exists” after all.

  4. thebadguyswon - Dec 19, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    The Hall of Fame voting is a sports media story. A lot of baseball fans couldn’t care less, after they consider the mental aptitude and baseball acumen of the dolts that vote on it.

    The media-created Mike Piazza was a PED user narrative was the last straw for this fan.

    The whole thing is a sham.

  5. frank35sox - Dec 19, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    In so many words, you often suggest that the Hall takes itself too seriously. But really, if you have to waste this much breath, maybe you’re the one who takes the Hall too seriously.

    • thebadguyswon - Dec 19, 2013 at 4:35 PM


      • thebadguyswon - Dec 19, 2013 at 4:38 PM

        Moo…..jesus, thanks for that EDIT FUNCTION, HBT!!

        What I meant to say is “not sure how that was wasting my breath. I thought the comment was short and too the point.”

      • raysfan1 - Dec 19, 2013 at 7:53 PM

        “Moo” works for me.

  6. steelhammer92 - Dec 19, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    HOF voters seem to have this assumption that players from generations prior to the PED era never would have done PEDs if they were available during their era. Right.. Because players from previous generations never cheated lol. Give me a break. If PEDs had been around 40, 50, 60+ years ago, and it was common knowledge they would enhance playing abilities; players would have been using them back then as much as they have over the previous 20 years.

    I’m not saying open the Hall doors to PED users far and wide.. But the mentality of HOF voters who automatically place a player from 50 years ago above a player today, solely because of the eras they played in, is BS.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 19, 2013 at 6:03 PM

      If PEDs had been around 40, 50, 60+ years ago, and it was common knowledge they would enhance playing abilities; players would have been using them back then as much as they have over the previous 20 years.

      Except PEDs have been around for 40, 50, 60+ years, people knew the benefits and they took them. SI wrote an article in 1960 discussing how the SD Chargers hired a trainer who wanted to introduce steroids to the team based on what the E Germans/Russians were doing in the Olympics. Amphetamines, which are PEDs by the very definition of the word, have been widespread in baseball since the 60s.

      It’s semantic arguing that “yesterday’s PEDs weren’t as good” therefore, they aren’t as bad.

  7. signahead - Dec 19, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    When I go to a historical attraction like the Hall of Fame, I go to see how my own experience connects with all that history. Unfortunately, most of the baseball I’ve experienced isn’t making it into the Hall of Fame, and the stuff that does make it in is being presented with a lot of anger and shame.

    I learned to love baseball during the steroid era, and I’m not going to pretend that it didn’t happen. I’m also not going to pretend that I, and all the people sitting next to me, didn’t enjoy it. We weren’t outraged or ashamed. We were having fun and cheering at the top of our lungs.

    The HoF voters’ new ideological purity may be good for the integrity of baseball, but it doesn’t match up with my experience. With each new class it gets less relevant. And it becomes less likely that I will ever visit (or even think about) the HoF itself.

    • Kevin S. - Dec 19, 2013 at 5:30 PM

      It did happen! I saw it happen! Don’t tell me it didn’t happen!

    • louhudson23 - Dec 20, 2013 at 4:15 AM

      I was outraged,and I did not enjoy it(nearly as much as what came before and after,as in now). And I was not alone. I complained loudly and bitterly about Canseco/McGwire back in the Earthquake Series days,the blown up Ron Gants and Brett Boones and eventually refused to watch the contrived Sosa/Mcgwire/Bonds fraud. Many enjoyed it.But many did not,and knew what they were seeing was not good baseball. BTW,I also have only ever watched Interleague play in the WS and AS game.Baseball is back in a good way,today. Defense,pitching,base running having returned as meaningful aspects of the game….I hate that it detoured into HR Derby and Playstation fantasy for those years….

  8. musketmaniac - Dec 19, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    its nice to teach our kids pride n honor, but if that’s the only two things they leave the house with they’re doomed. If the hall is specifically for those men of honor who played the game generations ago than that’s fine, but many believe its for the best players in the game, and that’s not whats been collected.

  9. musketmaniac - Dec 19, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    id take this line-up any day over any line-up the hall offers. leading off playing center shoeless joe jackson, Pete Rose playing and batting second. A Rod can have third and bat third. Bonds in left batting cleanup followed by BigMac at first. sammy sosa can play right and hit sixth. ill nd a short stop and a catcher. can use jose canseco in the dh. put Roger Clemens on the mound, with a dozen different top notch closers that the HOF obviously thought they were above.

    • erbaodai - Dec 19, 2013 at 8:35 PM

      “id take this line-up any day over any line-up the hall offers.”

      How about this one?

      Leading off playing center Ty Cobb, Ted Williams playing DH and batting second, Babe Ruth in right field and bat third followed by Lou Gehrig at first.

      5. 2B Rogers Hornsby
      6. LF Stan Musial
      7. 3B Mike Schmidt
      8. C Johnny Bench
      9. SS Honus Wagner

      On the mound: Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Tom Seaver, Warren Spahn, Pete Alexander, and that does not include future members such as Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, ect.

      Bullpen: Dennis Eckersley, Hoyt Wilhelm, Rich Gossage, Bruce Sutter, not to mention Mo, who will be in after 5 years.

      • stevequinn - Dec 20, 2013 at 3:28 AM

        SS should be Ozzie Smith

      • largebill - Dec 20, 2013 at 8:09 AM


        Ozzie was great, but choosing Ozzie over Honus Wagner is just silly. Not even in the same conversation.

      • 18thstreet - Dec 20, 2013 at 4:29 PM

        Didn’t Mike Schmidt say that he would have taken steroids, if he were only given the opportunity to?

        Don’t delude yourselves about most of the others. People are people.

  10. seanmk - Dec 19, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    if you want to see stuff from Pete rose and Barry bonds then get out of the plaque section of the hall of fame, pretty simple

  11. wpjohnson - Dec 19, 2013 at 5:40 PM

    It sounds like you boys want affirmative action and quotas for the Hall. I guess we could associate it with social promotion in our government schools. It is a poor idea to “dumb down” the Hall. If mistakes were made in the past, and there were many, it won’t improve the situation by getting lenient now. Unfortunately, we live in an era of “dumbing down” in all facets of life.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 19, 2013 at 6:06 PM

      Who is dumbing down the HoF by electing many overqualified candidates?

    • koufaxmitzvah - Dec 20, 2013 at 9:22 AM

      FFS, what a detour. Now this is about affirmative action? Or, to be more accurate, Rush Limbaugh’s perspective on affirmative action?

      I swear. If all the Rushbots could leave America because they hate it so much, this might an okay country.

  12. NatsLady - Dec 19, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    Surely writers knew about the extensive use of “greenies” yet until they were outlawed, was it considered “cheating” or did writers consider it like we consider Lasik or TJ surgery?

    Would you be allowed to play with a knee or hip replacement? Those procedures are almost routine now among the general (aging) population.

    • raysfan1 - Dec 19, 2013 at 8:00 PM

      Bo Jackson did play after a hip replacement, of course.

      • 18thstreet - Dec 20, 2013 at 4:32 PM

        Mickey Mantle put everything he could into his body in the hopes it would make his knees feel better. There is no way on earth he wouldn’t have taken PEDs. He took plenty of drugs in the hopes that they’d enhance his performance. The only problem was that he was under the sway of a quack.

  13. musketmaniac - Dec 19, 2013 at 8:52 PM

    nice of you erb to take the bait. Babe Ruth was degenerate alcoholic during prohibition, and hit almost every hr to a very short right field porch, ty cobb was one of the most racist men of his day with rumors of blood packing through out his career along with others on your list.

  14. stevequinn - Dec 20, 2013 at 3:26 AM

    What’s worse? A guy who bets on baseball games but none that involved his team? Or a PED user who sucks up so many steroids his head looks like a basketball. The steroids helped him steal millions of dollars in salary which was “earned” by his exaggerated and inflated stats. And of course, steroids were the prime reason those stats were so high. There are several players who fall into this category. They will probably eventually be elected to the HOF.

    Pete Rose belongs in the HOF.

    • louhudson23 - Dec 20, 2013 at 4:27 AM

      Rose betting on his own team or not is immaterial.His managing decisions can still be effected by his betting,as opposed to all efforts toward his team winning. The list is long(and theoretical) as to how he might use pitchers,pinch hitters etc. to induce or not induce another team to use it’s own pitchers etc….. I am in total agreement with you on the steroids issue,but at least the steroid boys can fall back on the apparent tacit approval of those running the league.Rose has no such defense. Nothing is drilled harder into players,Minor Leagues on than the rules and sanctions against betting on baseball….Rose is justifiably acknowledged as the man with the most hits by the HoF and justifiably denied HoF enshrinement because of his betting activities.And unrelated to your comment:if greenies produced the distorting effect on baseball that PED’s did/do ,then the outrage and uproar would be there. They did not. The record book was not shredded and game play altered so outrageously.False equivalency.Period.

  15. louhudson23 - Dec 20, 2013 at 4:28 AM

    Effected or affected??

  16. largebill - Dec 20, 2013 at 8:19 AM


    Others have made a similar point. Problem is you are comparing eras that have been voted on through all the various methods and look backs. The number of HoF’rs born in the more recent decades (50’s on) will continue to increase as they go through the various revisions to the veterans committees etc. I agree that many from this generation deserve the honor, but it is way too early to start screaming they got completely overlooked since they are just now hitting the ballot.

  17. musketmaniac - Dec 20, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    Ozzie, thank you steve.I don’t know how I (or the Hof) overlooked him. I’d add Roger Maris to the list, wasn’t he quoted as saying “the biggest mistake he made was breaking the babes record those staunch n.Yorkers hated him for it. Shouldn’t the HOF also be about equality so many in the HOF put those numbers when the game was segregated, easy put up undeserved stats with only half the talent able to play.

  18. oriongolf - Dec 20, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    Time to acknowledge that PED abusers were great ballplayers, who so much craved attention, rewards, and fame, that the thought of being a cheater never had a chance to stop them.

    They got the attention.

    They got the tangible rewards.

    All we have left, to send the message, is to deny them the bust in the Hall of…


    Stop all PED users from ever getting the last leg of their undeserved trio of riches.

    Not too many Al Kalines out there. That’s what the Hall should be about.

  19. voidhelix - Dec 21, 2013 at 12:11 AM

    It`s not about a sight unseen percentage of players who played in every given decade, that`s absurd. It`s about the elite players of any given generation based on individual career production. There are WAY to many players in the hall already who were inducted on narratives and variables outside of their control. The one thing the Hall absolutely needs to move away from`s the use of inductions as a self-perpetuating marketing strategy. Mediocre players shouldn`t be admitted.

  20. rjfgotchi - Dec 23, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    Is the baseball Hall of Fame about great players ??
    Is it about their personalities ??
    Is it about performance enhancing drugs ?I
    is it about other drugs ????
    Or all of the above !!!!
    We have some great ball players in there, but we also have some great ball players with abusive lives !!!
    Something to think about !!!

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. G. Stanton (2399)
  2. B. Crawford (2313)
  3. Y. Puig (2291)
  4. G. Springer (2064)
  5. D. Wright (2010)
  1. J. Hamilton (1998)
  2. J. Fernandez (1980)
  3. D. Span (1915)
  4. H. Ramirez (1885)
  5. C. Correa (1851)