The biggest issue with the Hall of Fame voting process
- Updated: January 10, 2013
Yesterday was a big day for the BBWAA and the baseball Hall of Fame as we saw several ‘tainted’ names come up on the ballot results. When the results came out we learned that none of the players eligible had been granted entry. Names that include a pitcher with 350+ wins, the all-time home run king and several other prominent players. I won’t argue who should or shouldn’t get in, but I have a real problem with the politics surrounding when players get in.
This morning while on my commute to work I had the chance to listen to Tom Verducci discuss his thoughts on the results and he made an interesting comment regarding Jeff Bagwell‘s candidacy: “I think he will get in, but not on the first ballot”. Verducci went on to discuss which players he thought would get in, but more importantly how many years or candidacy years it would take to gain entry. He discussed comparable players who didn’t get in until several years on the ballot. What is more important is the message that this sends to the fans, the player and the industry. There is a standard for first-ballot Hall of Fame players but should there be?
We’re entering a world where we’re learning more and more about player evaluation and values. Not too long ago there was a hotly debated AL MVP race where we saw the vastly overrated and not as valuable Miguel Cabrera take the MVP over the talented and more valuable Mike Trout. Some writers stated their case respectfully, some even acknowledging the change in philosophy coming. Others fought back using inferior arguments that even moderately astute fans could handily argue against.
What I want to know is why will Bagwell get in later, and not now? Is he a worthy member of the hall or not? If he is, then why isn’t he in today? Why does his candidacy have to be talked about for several years if he’s already done everything he can possibly do? The answer is that the BBWAA love to delegate their accolades in a way that gives them power. It’s a narcissistic way to tell the players and the fans that “they’re not ready yet” in a way to position themselves as the higher authority in an age where transparency and analysis are hand in hand. It’s delusional, hypocritical and embarrassing Most of all, it discredits them and they may not even realize it. If the player is good enough and you have some type of system in place, then he should be in. If the BBWAA were a business they would fail because there is no system in place to track their progress, no benchmark for success or failure and no responsibility to go back and track the results against any measurable goal.
Personally, I disregard the hall and look back on the players I’ve enjoyed watching. There will always be a laundry list of issues when you create a group that spans several generations, and lumping them all in one group is just asking for controversy and issues. However as long as the hall exists, these types of questions will exist. The steroids era issues are only highlighting a system that has been broken for some time.