Thursday, December 11, 2014

Golden Era Committee Comes Up Short

Allen was denied his rightful place in Cooperstown (ESPN)
The BBWAA has drawn much ire over the past few election cycles for its inability to elect Cooperstown-caliber players to the Hall of Fame, but Monday's Golden Era ballot results showed the Veteran's Committees are just as incompetent. Keep in mind that they have not elected a living person to the Hall of Fame since Bill Mazeroski in 2001. That is simply inexcusable.

Now, I don't blame the voters for not putting anyone in. As Joe Posnanski showed, it was pretty much impossible for anybody to be elected given the election format and strength of this year's ballot. Every candidate had a reasonable case for a plaque in Cooperstown, but with each committee member allowed only four it was going to take very strong consensus to elect even one of the candidates. There simply weren't enough votes to go around.

Which leads me to my next point; why put 10 guys with strong Hall of Fame cases on the ballot if you can only vote for four? Either expand the number of choices or limit the number of candidates; it's really that simple. Same goes for the BBWAA ballot, which allows for only 10 votes on ballots stuffed with over 30 names. These arbitrary restrictions are only backing things up and forcing voters to make impossibly close calls. They need to go away.

That said, I'm not about to let the committee off the hook. Yes, their task was borderline impossible, but the results revealed serious flaws in who they deem to be Cooperstown-worthy. Dick Allen and Tony Oliva came the closest with 11 votes apiece, falling one vote shy of induction. On a pure statistical case, Allen was the strongest candidate, so that was encouraging, but Oliva was definitely not (compare his case to Ken Boyer's, then get back to me). Jim Kaat came close with 10 votes as well, and Minnie Minoso had eight. Both were better candidates than Oliva, in my opinion.

The most alarming result was nine votes going to Maury Wills, easily the least qualified person on the ballot (except for maybe executive Bob Howsam, who shouldn't even be compared to players). Steals are overrated, and so was he, never more so than when he won the NL MVP over Willie Mays in 1962 despite a 99 OPS+. He had that one transcendent season and helped bring the stolen base back into vogue, but wasn't good enough defensively to make up for his 20 career home runs, .330 OBP, and .331 SLG. Wills was a much weaker candidate than Minoso, Boyer, Luis Tiant, Billy Pierce, and Gil Hodges.

Perhaps the saddest result was that Hodges was one of those to received three votes or fewer, another bad turn in the long, painful history of his HOF candidacy. Hodges shouldn't have even been on this ballot in the first place because he was technically elected in 1993, when he secured 12 of 16 votes, only to have one of those votes (Roy Campanella's) disallowed by committee president Ted Williams because Campanella failed to attend the meeting in person. Campanella, who might recall, was in a wheelchair and died only three months after the vote. Surely his absence was excusable under those circumstances. If Hodges never makes it to the Hall of Fame, it will be a true travesty.

It will also be a travesty if Minnie Minoso, 87, passes away before he is inducted. The committee should have made a concerted effort to induct him while he's still breathing, so as to avoid making the same mistake they made with Ron Santo three years ago. Minoso was one of the game's pioneers during the early integration years and stacks up well against the likes of Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, Monte Irvin, and Campanella. Cooperstown can't tell baseball's story without Minoso, one of its first minority players and first Latin American All-Star, not to mention one of the American League's best players during the 1950s.

At the end of the day, these committees are supposed to be putting people into the Hall of Fame, not remind everyone how "exclusive" Cooperstown is supposed to be (don't kid yourselves), and they're doing a terrible job of it.


  1. Agreed that steals are overrated. All you have to do is reach base, and if you're fast, you almost automatically have got a steal or two. Steals aren't something that you gotta earn, like home runs. You just run and get it. It's almost too easy, which is why almost nobody does it(which l think is how steals got overrated in the first place).

    1. Steals are not overrated, and if it were so easy, there would be a whole slew of players stealing 100+ bases a year. Stealing is an art, it takes timing, leads, knowledge of pitch situations, the catcher's arm strength and accuracy. Speed helps in close situations but it takes much more than that. Secondly, steals are earned. Taking a base on a wild pitch, passed ball or defensive indifference does not count toward a stolen base. Anytime a runner takes a base, it is more likely that he will be able to score a run. Would you rather have a runner on first with no outs or one on second with no outs? It allows teams to go through different options offensively and it makes the fielders play with a little more apprehension. You certainly need to learn a little baseball before posting nonsense.

  2. it's usually just not worth the risk of losing a baserunner unless you're a team like the Royals with no power to speak of, in which case you rely on steals to manufacture runs

    1. In any case Wills was grossly overrated; had no business taking the '62 MVP from Mays

  3. I'm kinda in the middle on the steals being overrated or not, but there is no question that Wills IS one of the most overrated players.

    I grew up not knowing much about Wills. Just based on hearsay I knew he was an "all time great". The first time I really looked at his career stats I about had a fit. How could that poor of a player ever be considered so great. Unless he was playing in 1908 (he obviously wasn't), he had no place being considered among the all time greats.