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Changes to the Hall of Fame voting process aren’t going to result in major changes to who’s inducted

Jan 10, 2014, 8:25 AM EDT

Cooperstown

The past few days have featured a lot of people talking about how to change the Hall of Fame voting process. I appreciate these ideas as, no matter how contentious the debates become, they are inspired by people who want to make things better. By people who care about baseball and the Hall of Fame. Negativity sucks and a lot of people hate it, but remember, almost all of it starts with an impulse of wanting to improve something cool about baseball, and that’s good.

Still, it’s probably worth realizing that no matter what you do with the voting process or the voters or the criteria or anything else, it’s not like the actual induction classes are going to radically change. Adding voters or increasing vote slots or taking the BBWAA out of it or making the Hall of Fame vote the sole province of an elite panel of benevolent, sabermetric dictators is not going to usher Barry Bonds or Alan Trammell or Tim Raines through that door like so many of us would like to see.

I know this because of a recent experience: I was asked to join the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Yes, it’s a real thing. It’s populated by a lot of excellent Internet-based baseball writers. People like  Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Spink Award winner Ross Newhan, Sports on Earth’s Will Leitch, FanGraphs (and many other places’) Wendy Thurm, Bleacher Report’s King Kaufman and many, many others.

Formed in 2009, the IBWAA functions like a shadow government in a parliamentary system, offering its own voting for the Hall of Fame and for postseason awards. I can’t speak for its leadership or membership, but I find it a fun process aimed at perpetuating the baseball conversation in a more focused way as opposed to some serious “storm the barricades” thing regarding the BBWAA. The BBWAA isn’t going anywhere and isn’t letting people like me in, so it’s fun to have an alternative outlet for the imaginary Hall of Fame and awards ballots we’re all doing anyway.

The point of me mentioning the IBWAA is this: we had our IBWAA Hall of Fame vote recently. Four people received 75% of the vote or more: Maddux, Glavine, Thomas and Biggio. Given that Biggio himself only fell two votes short in the BBWAA vote, our IBWAA thing — in results anyway — is pretty much in the margin of error of the real McCoy. Jeff Bagwell didn’t get in. Barry Bonds and Rogers Clemens did not get in.They had higher vote totals than  the BBWAA gave them, but they still fell short. The complete results can be seen here. (note: I originally had Mike Piazza in the “didn’t get in” list, but the IBWAA inducted him last year so, well, yes, some groups can do a bit better than the BBWAA).

The point here is that, even though the electorate is comprised of people who don’t carry the same baggage as many in the BBWAA — people who don’t cover or care deeply about baseball, people who are afraid of sabermetrics, people who do not think an entire era is corrupt — it’s still almost impossible to come to a consensus on more than a small handful of players. There are still voters in this (for lack of a better term) enlightened group of people who view PED use as an automatic grounds for exclusion. Or don’t appreciate the all-around greatness of Alan Trammell. Or, at the moment, somehow don’t think that Mike Mussina is anywhere close to deserving of election.

I think this would be true of an electorate comprised of almost any demographic. Fans. So-called experts. Broadcasters. Any combination of people many have been throwing around as a better electorate than the current BBWAA crowd. No matter how you put it together, you’re likely still to get about three or four inductees, and certainly not all the ones a lot of us think are deserving. People just fundamentally can’t agree on a lot in large enough groups, and that’s especially true of baseball stuff.

All that being said, I do not want my friends in the BBWAA to get all smug. Which, by the way, we’ve seen quite a bit of in the past 48 hours. Patting themselves on the back for what is, inarguably, a great group of inductees. And echoing my points above about how no group of people would do better. Those things may be true, but it’s only part of the story and it doesn’t absolve the BBWAA of its many, many sins.

Process matters, not just the results. No one would fully accept a flawed political election’s results as wonderful just because, well, the right guy basically won and because it wold be too hard and messy to create a perfect process. Likewise in baseball, we should not accept ill-informed and unqualified voters, opportunities for grandstanding, the airing of personal vendettas and procedural rules which have no purpose and do a lot of harm. A good result notwithstanding, those sorts of abuses should still be highlighted and criticized. Those flaws should still be fixed. A process that, by accident of history, happens to be the best we’ve been able to come up with yet should not be assumed to be perfect and forever immune from change. Baseball writers who point to the current inductees and say “we did JUST FINE, so you shut your piehole!” are like pilots who skidded a landing off the end of the runway, turn around to their passengers and say, “Well, we got you here. Quit complaining.”

Change is needed and I think, eventually, it will come. The IBWAA just voted the other day to increase its ballot to 15 players as opposed to ten. The BBWAA will probably do that too (though it’ll take them way longer and they’ll fight about it because that’s how the BBWAA rolls). When these and other changes occur we should applaud them and we should continue to demand improvements wherever we can see the need for them and however we can accomplish them.

We should not, however, do so in the hopes of getting our preferred candidates into the Hall of Fame. Because no matter what changes, it’s still going to be an exercise in getting hundreds of people to agree on something, and that never happens. We should do so only in the hopes of cleaning up a messy system and making the process one in which baseball fans and baseball writers alike can have confidence and about which they can be proud.

  1. Old Gator - Jan 10, 2014 at 8:35 AM

    The loyal opposition. How cool. But my idea of a meaningful shadow government would be the Illuminati. Sort of a cross between the BBWAA and the Parallax Corporation. You know, an organization that can make things happen.

    • unclemosesgreen - Jan 10, 2014 at 9:00 AM

      If you read BBWAA writers, Craig is already a Parallax Corp. – worthy character assassin.

      • chacochicken - Jan 10, 2014 at 9:04 AM

        He’s the real deal, not some patsy Brian Doyle Murray has to rub out.

  2. deadeyedesign23 - Jan 10, 2014 at 8:38 AM

    How does Maddox STILL not get to 100%?

    • Joe - Jan 10, 2014 at 8:47 AM

      The article links to their explanations. Both said he’s the most worthy candidate, but left him off because he was a slam dunk and they wanted to throw their support to an extra candidate. Protesting the 10-vote limit, basically.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 10, 2014 at 10:06 AM

        What sucks is this had real world applications too. Keith Law retweeted at least five BBWAA voters who said they left Biggio off their ballots because they didn’t have room (he was #11 for them). If there was no limit, Biggio would have been inducted as well.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Jan 10, 2014 at 10:56 AM

        That’s asinine though…this wasn’t for the actual hall of fame so just vote for your 10 best players.

      • raysfan1 - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:31 PM

        They are treating like it is real. Piazza wasn’t on their ballot this year because he was already elected last year. Barry Larkin is still on their ballot because he has not been elected by the IBWAA.

        (To the IBWAA–congrats on treating Larkin and Trammel about equally…but elect both of them, dammit.)

    • bsbiz - Jan 10, 2014 at 8:47 AM

      Because there will always be one guy who will protest not vote because if Musial, Ruth, Gehrig, whoever wasn’t unanimous, no one will be unanimous.

      And the important part of that is that it only has to be one person.

      • natstowngreg - Jan 10, 2014 at 10:50 AM

        Exactly. So what if someone didn’t vote for him? The whole thing about unanimous voting isn’t about whether Greg Maddux is HOFworthy. The percentage means nothing as long as it’s at least 75%.

        It’s about where Greg Maddux fits in the discussion of the very best pitchers. Was Maddux better than Walter Johnson or Christy Mathewson or Bob Gibson? Fans want to argue about who was the very best pitcher (or the 5 best, or however many). Arguing about vote percentages is a substitute for that argument. Not saying it’s a good substitute.

  3. Joe - Jan 10, 2014 at 8:42 AM

    I don’t know why the IBWAA would increase the vote limit rather than just scrap it altogether. It’s arbitrary, and there are going to be more than 15 debatably-worthy candidates next year. Let a voter pick everyone if he or she wants, it’s still going to take 75% of the vote to get elected.

    • 18thstreet - Jan 10, 2014 at 10:05 AM

      I’m in the minority, but I don’t think the 10-vote limit needs to go. Voters just need to obey the rules, most specifically about the idea of the ‘First Ballot Hall of Famer.” Craig Biggio has been on the ballot for two years. There was no reason to vote against him either year.

      In 2013, there were 569 voters and 388 choose Biggio.
      In 2014, there were 571 voters and 427 choose Biggio.

      I’m going to have to cut corners, because I don’t know how many voters left between last year and this, and I’ll have to just assume (incorrectly!) that these are the same 569 people, plus two more. If anyone has a better way, please let me know.

      But that means that ~39 voters thought Craig Biggio was a Hall of Famer in 2014 who did not think so in 2013. Did something change? Nope. They just didn’t think he was a “First Ballot” Hall of Famer.

      The people who refused to vote for Mike Piazza or Curt Schilling could have done so last year. The problem is NOT that there is an artificial limit on the number of votes one can cast. The problem is that the voters make made choices. And the voters make bad choices for a couple of reasons: (1) they don’t know as much about baseball as they think they do (i.e., refusing to vote for Piazza) and (2) they’re making up their own rules and ignoring those of the Hall of Fame (i.e., refusing to vote for a candidate whom they believe to be qualified — but not in his first year).

      Better rules will not solve this problem. Better voters will.

      • paperlions - Jan 10, 2014 at 11:09 AM

        Yeah, this is the real issue. There being 15 or so HOF worthy players on the ballot is a symptom of a dumb electorate. There should NOT be that many guys (even if the PED guys stick around on the ballot) because so many other non-PED implicated worthy players remain on the ballot for no reason whatsoever.

        There is no legitimate reason for Schilling or Raines or Trammel or Biggio or Bagwell or Piazza or Musina etc to still be on the ballot, all of them should already be in the HOF.

      • raysfan1 - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:45 PM

        The thing is, for the real HoF, upping the number of votes allowed per voter is needed because the intransigent ones have already clogged the ballot, and the ones who would work to fix the problem are hamstrung by the 10 vote limit. There was essentially consensus on the top 4 this year. The main reason Biggio is not in now is because it’s a 10 vote limit and not 11 or more. There were at least 5 who had him #11 and would have included him otherwise. The voting limit forces the voters to pick which 10 to vote for now since there are over 15 that at least a large minority feel are qualified. Unless the BBWAA wants to punt a large number of worthy players to the Veterans Committee instead of electing them themselves, they have to work to change the system.

        Yes, ideally some of the most intransigent, least qualified voters would be culled from the pool, but there’s still the current backlog that needs to be addressed. Upping the voting limits could help overcome the mess already made.

  4. teke184 - Jan 10, 2014 at 8:43 AM

    I think the idea is for the BBWAA and ALL of its members to take the vote seriously, which means them clamping down on some of the clowns they have now. This is mainly aimed at people who make the process about themselves rather than the players.

    The guy who turns in a ballot only containing Jack Morris as a protest vote, leaving up to 9 deserving guys off? He shouldn’t be allowed to keep his vote.

    The guy who openly claims to vote only to piss off the “smart voters”? Take his vote away too.

    The VP of the BBWAA who polls Houston area sportswriters to pick his votes? He should be gone too if the rule used to toss Le Batard is going to be enforced, as he also turned over his vote to “unqualified voters” as determined by the organization.

    • tigerprez - Jan 10, 2014 at 11:55 AM

      It’s a nice thought, but who is going to determine whose voting is sufficiently stupid enough to lose their vote? You? Me? A more enlightened board of voters who monitor ballots to make sure they are “serious” enough? If you do that, you’re basically setting up a system where the BBWAA voters would have a pre-determined list of candidates that they would know they needed to vote for or they’d lose their vote for the next year. That pretty much makes voting unnecessary.

      Every solution to this problem potentially creates just as many new problems. And like Craig has written here, it probably won’t change much of anything anyway.

      • rje49 - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:49 PM

        How about the other voters? The people who count the votes would set aside some of the obviously “idiotic” votes, then afterwards present them (anonymously) to the rest of the voters and ask if these voters should be disqualified for the following year. Or warned that a similar idiotic vote in the future will be thrown in the garbage where it belongs. Or maybe an invitation to resign from the BBWAA.
        Yeah, I know, that’ll never happen….

  5. chacochicken - Jan 10, 2014 at 8:44 AM

    Maybe its time to purge the politburo, comrade. Send the nattering nabobs of Jack Morris negativism off to cover baseball in Australia.

    I’m uncertain as to how if may work out ultimately, but it seems like having some objective statistical minimums/thresholds could speed the whole business up a bit.

    • unclemosesgreen - Jan 10, 2014 at 8:56 AM

      What did Australia ever do to deserve those Spiro-chetes?

      • chacochicken - Jan 10, 2014 at 9:02 AM

        Australia has plenty of room and it ups the chance that say, Chass is attacked by rabbits.

      • unclemosesgreen - Jan 10, 2014 at 9:03 AM

        True, or dragged off by dingoes. Or if they were isolated enough from food, gobbled by Gurnick. Still ….

      • Old Gator - Jan 10, 2014 at 9:51 AM

        I say throw him to the razorback. And hey, what’s that BBWAA ring doing in the dog food?

      • unclemosesgreen - Jan 10, 2014 at 10:36 AM

        Some poor dingo must have gotten Creutzfeldt-Jakob’s disease from something it et – once that penetrates the brain it removes sense from the equation. They start to sh!t where they eat.

        Let’s just hope that no chicken-factory workers ate the dim dingo.

  6. Rich Stowe - Jan 10, 2014 at 8:51 AM

    I’m a member of the IBWAA and was suprised to see Maddux not gain unanimous induction (and to see that Larkin hasn’t been inducted yet).

    Sadly, once humans are involved, there is no perfect voting system. Each voter will always let their own personal bias, opinions and thoughts come through in their votes.

    • cardinalcrazy - Jan 10, 2014 at 9:56 AM

      So Barry Larkin was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA however not by the IBWAA. Apparently the same group who did better by voting Piazza in last year hasn’t done a good job voting in Larkin yet!

      All of you writer’s need to stop being so damn stingy and vote these great players in! I think I read somewhere that only 1.8% of players get voted in? I’ll be honest, I read that somewhere so I can’t say it’s fact. But I would agree that a very low percentage of players make it in, too low. It should be at least 3 – 5 percent in my opinion.

      • billyboots - Jan 10, 2014 at 11:12 AM

        That was in one of Joe P.’s articles from the past few weeks. He said something about the historical average is 2-3%, but the current group of voters are only voting in at a 1.8%.

      • paperlions - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:25 PM

        Actually, I think it is that only about 0.18% of modern players are voted in, with historical rates at about 2%.

  7. rje49 - Jan 10, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    I was surprised to see both Bonds and Clemens were 20 pct. points higher than the official vote, making them less than 20 points from “in”.

  8. bfunk1978 - Jan 10, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    The best part of the IBWAA is that you didn’t give any votes to Jaques Jones or Kenny Rogers.

    • unclemosesgreen - Jan 10, 2014 at 8:58 AM

      … or J.T. Snow. Ick.

      All of these votes are especially obnoxious given the flood of worthy candidates. There were at least fourteen worthy candidates, but voters wasted spots on all of these bits of flotsam and jetsam.

    • brianincbus - Jan 10, 2014 at 9:13 AM

      But Mike Timlin did get a vote. Viva asshattery!!

      • Joe - Jan 10, 2014 at 9:40 AM

        FOUR World Series rings! You don’t think that makes him worthy?

      • bfunk1978 - Jan 10, 2014 at 9:49 AM

        MIKE TIMLIN IS AN AMERICAN NATIONAL TREASURE YOU SHUT YOUR WHORE MOUTH

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 10, 2014 at 10:01 AM

        FOUR World Series rings! You don’t think that makes him worthy?

        Until Luis Sojo and his five rings gets in, none of them are worthy!

      • deepstblu - Jan 10, 2014 at 11:23 AM

        I see Luis Sojo’s five rings, and raise Charlie Silvera’s six.

  9. jarathen - Jan 10, 2014 at 9:04 AM

    I don’t think anyone expects perfection, because there isn’t any. What most people want is accountability. That’s it. They want the voters to be responsible and have actual reasons behind their votes. And I think we’d all like the removal of the ten-vote limit.

    If the class this year had Biggio as well, I would’ve been pleased as punch. Several more players belong, but hey, four guys in a year is amazing. The three that were voted in deserved it, and I’m glad that some dudes who played baseball during my formative baseball-lovin’ years actually count, despite what some old grumps say, but this year’s vote wasn’t bad, by and large.

    • 18thstreet - Jan 10, 2014 at 10:08 AM

      I agree about accountability. If you’re going to vote for Jacque Jones or JT Snow, explain yourself. You’re a professional baseball writer. Go write about baseball.

  10. challengerball - Jan 10, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    Whatever is system is used the fact that there are still voters that refuse to make anyone a first ballot HOF member means that the system will forever be a joke.

  11. cohnjusack - Jan 10, 2014 at 10:01 AM

    I’m just going to pretend the Hall of Merit is the actual Hall of Fame. They’re bottom is a lower than I would make mine, but at least it’s consistent. AT least it’s not a place honors High Pockets Kelly and dumps Lou Whitaker after one ballot.

  12. dirtyharry1971 - Jan 10, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    the right thing to do is to let me and metsfan4ever vote on the HOF, we would get it right because we know more about baseball then any of the knuckleheads on this board.

    • pauleee - Jan 10, 2014 at 10:38 AM

      Did you just out your alt?

      • dirtyharry1971 - Jan 10, 2014 at 11:10 AM

        Not at all, I have one account and one account only, I just admire metsfan4ever’s posts on here, and heck im not even a mets fan!! But I appreciate good posts when I see them and around here that’s very rare indeed

    • nbjays - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:53 PM

      Weren’t you the idiot that says he’d put Gary Sheffield ahead of Pedro Martinez on next year’s ballot, harry? That says all anyone needs to know about your baseball “knowledge”.

      • dirtyharry1971 - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:00 PM

        Sheff had a great, long, solid career. Hit for average, hit for power, walked, could steal bases at one time and he was the toughest guy with 2 strikes. Pedro is deserving and will get in but he doesn’t belong on a first ballot simply because he doesn’t have the career numbers that a first ballot guy needs. Maybe if his career was longer he would have them but should have, could have….Now you want to deny the obvious? be my guest it wont be the first time and won’t be the last one based on your track record sucker

  13. Ducky Medwick - Jan 10, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    None of y’all chuckleheads voted for Armando Benitez. I’m sold.

  14. natstowngreg - Jan 10, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    There’s a time to storm the gates, and a time not to storm the gates. This seems a time for storming.

    I recognize Craig as a professional journalist, though one who practices journalism in a different way from BBWAA members. BBWAA, as a professional association, ought to change with the times, and with the way the profession works.

    Bringing fresh blood to a professional association is a good thing (except to the entrenched interests). I agree that it probably wouldn’t significantly change the results of its various award votes, but that’s not the reason to make the change.

    Keep stormin’ them gates, Craig. If I were in your position, I might well be stormin’ ‘em.

  15. ramrene - Jan 10, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    IBBWAA?

    In other words, the guys not good enough to get into the BBWAA so they created their own little tree house and said, “Look at us we’re cool too”. How do you know?… “Because my mom said so”.

    Keep trying Craig, keep trying.

    • jarathen - Jan 10, 2014 at 11:16 AM

      They also have a one Homer limit.

    • Rich Stowe - Jan 10, 2014 at 11:33 AM

      actually many people in the IBWAA are also in the BBWAA….it’s just those of us “on-line writers” that can’t get into the BBWAA can get into the IBWAA….

  16. paperlions - Jan 10, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    I looked through some of the IBWAA HOF pages a few days ago. Really weird (borderline stupid) for there to be so many really old timers inducted when there are so many more modern players that we (and the non-dead writers) know to be better than their historical counter parts both in terms of raw ability and within context that are NOT inducted.

    Dead players are not better, they are just dead. Better players are better. You shouldn’t get extra points for being dead or having played during romanticized times. When starting from scratch, it would be much more justifiable to start with the eras that the people doing the work are familiar with and to work backwards into the relatively unknown (at the very least, the much less known).

  17. hpfricric - Jan 10, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    I suggested this over on Posnanski’s blog and I’m going to keep beating the drum because I think it’s a pretty easy, non-invasive solution to at least a component of the current voting process: raise the minimum standard for staying on the ballot.

    Jeff Kent received 87 votes this year; I love Jeff Kent. I think Jeff Kent has a decent Hall of Fame case. But 484 voters disagree. I recognize some of those 484 are part of the problem (lazy, sanctimonious, etc.) – but is there any chance Kent’s vote total is going to approach anywhere close to the additional 341 he’ll need for induction over the next 14 years? No way. He’ll languish in the 25-35% land – serving what purpose, exactly? So the 150-200 writers who think he’s a Hall of Famer can needlessly vote for him every year? Meanwhile, couldn’t those votes possibly be better used for players like (especially) Biggio and Piazza?

    If we instituted, say, a minimum 100-vote rule to stay on the ballot (which this year would have equaled 17.5%), we could have eliminated six additional players who received at least some degree of unified support (Kent, McGriff, McGwire, Walker, Mattingly, Sosa). Together, those six players totaled 363 votes. Removing those six, plus Maddux, Glavine, Thomas and Morris, radically resets the landscape for next year, doesn’t it? And it does so with minimal environmental damage. (Isn’t it time we put McGwire and Sosa out to pasture, anyway?)

    If this had been in place last year, McGwire, Mattingly, Sosa and Palmiero would have all been off the ballot this year. Collectively, they received 176 votes – not an overtly significant number… but when guys are missing by literally two votes, every vote is significant.

    The minimum 5% rule just seems too low, and allows far too many obviously unelectable candidates to hang around and pilfer what are becoming precious votes.

    • tigerprez - Jan 10, 2014 at 12:07 PM

      You make a good point, but some players have risen from below that threshold to be elected. I believe Blyleven was once at around 14% of the vote. It would be a shame for someone like that to fall off the ballot. Perhaps a better approach would be to have no prescribed list of eligible candidates (with all candidates moving to the veterans committee after 15 years) and no arbitrary limits on the number of votes. Sure, someone might vote for 25 candidates, but there are enough small Hall voters out there that I doubt it would make any significant difference.

      • hpfricric - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:57 PM

        I think, as much as some complain, that the vast majority of writers like the 10-player limit. And I do, too, frankly. It *should* be difficult to get into the Hall of Fame – and if the electorate was better informed, more progressive, less lazy, coughyoungercough… The cap would ultimately make for a better Hall of Fame.

        Two quick points on Blyleven – he is the only player in the history of the Hall of Fame to drop that low and eventually make it (IIRC). And I don’t think we should resist change in order to save the candidacies of players like Bert Blyleven (just my opinion; no issue that he’s in; wouldn’t have an issue if he wasn’t) – an increased minimum would, in theory, force people to more judiciously do their homework as the likelihood of some of these players not sticking around as long (ie I’ll wait til next year to take a look at him) could create some urgency. As is, 27 votes gets you off the ballot. How is someone receiving 60 more (Kent) an appreciably better candidate?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 10, 2014 at 12:28 PM

      Doesn’t this also create a problem where guys like Walker and McGwire, who have legitimate HoF cases, fall off the ballot?

      • hpfricric - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:23 PM

        Which is the greater problem: a candidate getting minimal support sticking around for years and pilfering votes? Or a deserving candidate, like Biggio, getting caught up in a numbers game and falling literally two votes short? Who benefits from a yearly vote thrown McGwire’s way? You might as well (figuratively) light it on fire, right?

        IMO, demanding that at least 100 people, out of pool of nearly 600, deem you Hall of Fame worthy seems pretty reasoanble to me. Sure, good players will fall away – but it’s not like a player of Greg Maddux’s stature is going to fall victim to this – we’re talking about borderline guys, anyway.

    • clemente2 - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:50 PM

      McGriff, Walker, McGwire, Sosa, Kent should not fall off the ballot. Discussions of their careers should continue. I think this aspect of the HofF voting process is good; it allows on-going reconsideration so that new perspectives can be gained, old perspectives based on personalties rather than performance can be terminated, and the like.

  18. tigerprez - Jan 10, 2014 at 12:00 PM

    Taken as a whole, it’s pretty amazing how similar the BBWAA results and the IBWAA votes are, right down to the strangely significant support for Jack Morris. One thing that stands out, though, is that the IBWAA still hasn’t elected Barry Larkin, and he’s still getting around 50% of the vote on their ballot. Does anyone have an explanation for that discrepancy?

    Also, the IBWAA isn’t immune to goofy votes. Someone thought Mike Timlin was a HOF-er? Really?

  19. crackersnap - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    It should not be too surprising that two voting groups, comprised of some overlap of members, both using a very similar voting process, and selecting from the same pool of candidates, would come up with similar results.

    Even if the IBWAA radicalized their process altogether, and isolated their voting membership away from that of the BBWAA, we should still expect very minor overall differences in the total HoF honorees. Of all the honorees currently enshrined, how many would we expect to be decommissioned? 4? 5? And of all the ex-players in history that are not enshrined, how many out there are seriously considered to be overlooked? 10? Those numbers are what, ~5% of the total now enshrined?

    At this point in history, because the narrative of the game has still been dominated by the voice of BBWAA, we have all been immersed in their value set. This “we” includes the membership of the IBWAA. We grew up reading and hearing the stories that the BBWAA chose to report, and chose to emphasize, and we all went through their filters. We all have a very similar framework concerning the pantheon of baseball, and what individual players might do on the field that put them on the road towards that pantheon. Part of the modern tension throughout baseball is that the exclusivity of this narrative is being torn down.

    But even after we get past this and create a new framework that drives the narrative going forward, the net impact on changes to the list of those enshrined will still be minor. This does not mean that the BBWAA were pure and honorable and emphatically correct all along. It merely means that it’s easy enough to get the first 95% correct.

  20. jtorrey13 - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:17 PM

    I think the “preferred candidates in the Hall of Fame” is a bit of a straw man argument. While it could be why people get bent out of shape, it seems to be more from the BBWAA than any fan. If Jack Morris would have got in, I would have celebrated. How do I know? Jim Rice. I realized back then that I didn’t agree with those that like Rice (over Dwight Evans, who I liked at the time because of that cannon in right was the most feared weapon to base runners) but that once he got in, good for him. Is he the most deserving? Probably not. Was he a great player that many people loved? Yes.

    Once the election happens, yes there might be bitching, but it’s like the President of the United States. Yes, there are loonies that threaten to move to Canada and survivalists that want to start their own states in the wilds of Montana, but eventually every one settles down and continues living in the U.S. (The only people that really seem to get mad are those that traffic in anger, ie cable broadcast talking news heads, the BBWAA’s louder cousins.)

    I’ll celebrate when any player gets in. I root for some more than others. I just wish I didn’t have to listen to the voters tell us how they know the sport and everyone else is a f***ing idiot that just wants their favorite players in the Hall.

  21. moogro - Jan 11, 2014 at 8:24 PM

    If there’s no courage to reform the voting process, like cleaning out the folks that should not be voting and immediately bringing in those that should, one could always appeal to math to tweak things:

    There are 2 limits in the voting process: the individual ballot containing no more than ten names, and the collective agreeing on 75% of the names. It seems to me the 75% agreement rule would still largely curtail inductees even with a larger ballot. It would be interesting to see ballots allowed to be filled up to 20 names, but counting only the top “x” number of names based on some average of how many names people listed. So in years with lots of candidates like now, the number of names could adjust to the top 12 or 14, etc. The 75% agreement rule would still keep out the marginal candidates (like Morris).

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