9 Takeaways from the 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame Election

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January 19, 2017 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

The Baseball Hall of Fame has just added three new members in Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez, and Tim Raines.  After refusing to elect anyone in 2013, the BBWAA (no, not the Big Beautiful Women Association of America) has elected 12 players over the past 4 years.  And because of that shutout, and due to the increase of PED tainted players on the ballot, the voting rules had changed, and are continuing to change.  Due to rule changes in the voting process, and the outcome, this year’s election will have major ramifications on the voting process for the next few years.  Here are some of the things that we learned from this year’s election:

 

Just because writers have to reveal their ballot next year won’t stop them from acting like jerk-offs.

While most writers take their voting responsibilities very seriously and do their best to vote fairly and justly, a few writers still act like dicks by clinging to outdated voting methods (i.e. never voting for anyone on the first ballot), or stubbornly refusing to acknowledge that the 90s and 00s never happened (i.e. refusing to vote for anyone because of the assumption that anyone who played during this time is irrevocably linked to PEDs).  By forcing writers to go public, the Hall is requiring writers to defend their vote.  The problem though is that some writers who like to fuck with the systems already go public.  One writer this past year went public by admitting he didn’t vote for anyone, while another writer wanted to abstain from the vote but accidentally submitted a blank ballot instead, which counts as voting against every player on the ballot.  Mistakes like accidentally throwing your ballot out will still be made regardless of if writers now have to admit how they voted.  And for the writers who like to be assholes by not voting for a clear cut hall of famer, or submitting a blank ballot out of some form of protest, a public ballot will only serve to embolden them as it will give them a platform to defend their out of date and misguided (ir)rationale.

 

The Hall of Fame needs to make more changes to the voting rules

The writers, to their credit, have begged the Hall of Fame to either expand the number of players a writer can vote for, or do away with the 10 player maximum entirely.  There are just way too many good players up for consideration today that are thrown by the wayside because writers have to make sacrifices.  What would most likely happen if the ballot was expanded to 12 players is that players who would eventually get inducted would just get inducted sooner.  It wouldn’t necessary lead to a massive influx of players inducted, nor would it lower the Hall’s standards.  Especially now, where for the past five years and the next five, there will be a boatload of deserving players who might not get in because of the logjam.  The fact that there are a ton of writers out there who want to vote for Mike Mussina or Fred McGriff but can’t, speaks to the failure of the hall itself to understand how times have changed.  The fact remains that there are more top tier players worthy of induction now than there were three or four decades ago.

 

Why the fuck isn’t Crime Dog in the Hall of Fame yet

Some writers cling to the “character clause” of the Hall of Fame voting to justify not voting for players tied to PEDs, but they never use to a player’s advantage.  No one used the “character clause” to try and boost Dale Murphy’s candidacy, but they’ll use it to keep Barry Bonds out.  Fred McGriff, one of the best power hitters of his era has never gotten the love he deserves on the ballot.  Here was a guy who knocked in over 1,500 runs, hit 493 home runs, owns a .284 batting average and an OBP almost .100 points higher.  He was a five time all-star and the clean up hitter for the Atlanta Braves in the mid 90s.  Not only should he be a hall of famer, but he should’ve already been elected.  Oh, and he’s never been linked to PED’s at all, but no one will give a player extra points for playing the game the right way; it seems the writers only punish those who break the rules and not reward those who abide by them when everyone else is cheating.

 

Jorge Posada deserved better

Realistically, Jorge Posada is a borderline candidate at best.  If he was going to get in, it’d be on the coattails of Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.  That being said, he deserved to get more than 3.8% of the vote.  As a result, he is now off all future ballots, preventing him from being elected by the writers.  Posada is a five-time champion, a five time all-star and owns a very respectable .375 OBP.  For an entire decade (00s) no other catcher hit more home runs or drove in more runs than Posada, and for all the knocks on his defense, he owns a lifetime dWAR of 2.1.  That’s to say nothing of his off the field exploits, such as his Jorge Posada Foundation which provides resources for medical research.  Not that he should necessary get into the Hall of Fame, but Posada was certainly good enough to warrant further consideration.  Simply put, the writers got it wrong this time.

 

Really, no Vlad the Impaler?

Speaking of the writers getting it wrong, how can Vladimir Guerrero not be considered a first ballot hall of famer?  He was an MVP and a nine-time all-star who improved every team he was on.  In eight seasons Vlad hit 30 or more home runs, knocked in over 100 runs, and batted above .300, and he never struck out more than 95 times in any season.  Even if you weren’t a fan of whatever team he was playing for, it was impossible not to admire his game.  One of the best hitters of all time, with no connections to PEDs, it’s a shame that he has to wait at least one more year just because 15 writers didn’t have him on their ballots in his first year of eligibility.

 

Kenny Lofton: Gone too soon

Kenny Lofton played six seasons less than Tim Raines, yet their career stats are eerily similar.  Their WAR are almost identical (Raines has a slight edge at 69.1 compared to Lofton’s 68.2), but while Raines was a defensive liability, Lofton owns a career 14.7 dWAR and four gold glove awards.  Despite playing six years longer than Lofton, Raines only stole about 180 bases more than Lofton.  Lofton also lead the AL in stolen bases five times in a row at a time when he played in the same league as Rickey Henderson.  While Rock eventually got in on his last try, Kenny Lofton was dropped from the ballot after two years in 2014.  It’s a case of Jim Rice/Dave Parker—Two players with nearly identical stats but for God know what reason only one player is exalted.  If Tim Raines is in the Hall of Fame, then so too should Kenny Lofton; it’s as simple as that.

 

The writers didn’t really do anything to ease the current logjam of players

Yes, the writers voted in three players for the third time in four years, but looking forward to next year’s vote, there’ll be plenty of players on the ballot for the first time next year that will warrant serious consideration. Chipper Jones and Jim Thome should be locks for induction next year when the join the ballot for the first time.  Assuming that Vlad Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman (who missed induction this year by 15 and 5 votes respectively) join Jones and Thome, you’re looking at another four man induction in 2018.  That doesn’t even include hold overs like Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Jeff Kent Curt Schilling (who despite being a prick should get in the Hall of Fame), Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds.  That doesn’t even include other first year nominees like Scott Rolen, Andruw Jones, and Omar Vizquel all of whom have stronger Hall of Fame credentials than you’d think.  That’s 13 players right there who should warrant serious thought when considering their candidacy for the Hall of Fame.  Despite this glut, writers can still only vote for 10 players tops.

 

The Passion of the Pudge

Looking at the numbers alone, Ivan Rodriguez is a first ballot hall of famer.  But as with many sluggers of his time, there’s marked suspicion that he took PEDs to enhance his numbers.  Realistically speaking, there are most likely players already inducted in the Hall of Fame who took steroids or other PEDs; and they’ve probably been in the Hall of Fame for a long time now.  But, with the election of Ivan Rodriguez, for the first time ever, the writers voted for someone who didn’t deny using PEDs when asked about it.  Even though the smoking gun is laid at their feet, Clemens and Bonds never tested positive for PEDs, nor did they admit to taking any illicit substance while playing.  But when asked if he was on a list of players who tested positive for PEDs, Pudge responded by saying “Only God knows”.  Even if it’s not the truth why the hell wouldn’t he just deny it?  Either he really didn’t know, or he was poorly trying to protect his legacy with that answer.  Either way, it makes Rodriguez look like a moron who doesn’t know how to lie.  It’ll be interesting how his induction affects future voting for players like Clemens, Bonds, and Manny Ramirez, the poster children for the baseball’s sordid steroid era.

 

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will be inducted at some point

How can players who used PEDs be denied entry into Cooperstown, while the commissioner who presided over the steroid era and turned a blind eye to an entire generation of roided up sluggers be inducted into the Hall of Fame?  This is a question that writers have grappled with all winter when trying to reconcile Bud Selig’s unanimous selection by the Veterans Committee.  This past election just showed us that the writers can’t reconcile this hypocrisy.  The selection of Ivan Rodriguez and Jeff Bagwell, and the exponential increase in support for Clemens and Bonds spoke volumes about how little the voters care any more about playing the role of morality police, especially when the biggest perpetrator was elected unanimously without their consent.  With both polling at over 50% the day will come when both Bonds and Clemens will be enshrined in Cooperstown.  That day may come sooner rather than later.

 

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