Rob Neyer has a couple of good articles regarding the Veterans' Committee vote last week. First is a reprint of his August 9, 2001, article in which Neyer channels Nostradamas ("Read the book!" Thank you, Time-Life.) to accurately predict that getting elected to the Hall by the then-newly formed body would be extremely difficult at best:
I think that Santo has something like a 1-in-3 chance of finally making it ... and I think there's something like a 2-in-3 chance that nobody makes it. Because that 75-percent standard is going to be very, very tough for anyone to meet. With the old Veterans Committee, 13 or 14 old men would go into a big room and get to horse-trading. You vote for my guy this year, and I'll vote for your guy next year. Everybody's happy because everybody gets to eventually get their buddies into the Hall of Fame...
Is the new system perfect? Of course not. Bad Bill Dahlen's out of the running now, and so is Parisian Bob Caruthers and Pebbly Jack Glasscock and Carl Mays and just about anyone else that didn't play in a league with Joe Morgan or Harmon Killebrew...
That said, a system that might (or might not) give us Ron Santo and Dick Allen is immensely preferable to a system that did give us Vic Willis and Phil Rizzuto and Hack Wilson.
[A]s the years pass, ... candidates overlooked by the BBWAA will come before the Veterans Committee, and a few will get their pass.
But just a few. And of course, that's the way it should be.
The second is a response to a few reader emails. In it Neyer predicts that the 75% threshold will be lower to perhaps even 60% eventually. I agree that the system needs revamping, but I would think that the Vets will be loath to induct someone that slightly more than half of them believed was a Hall of Famer. Perhaps having shorter ballot would help given that the voters displayed their desire to vote for someone (approx. 5.4 candidates selected per ballot according to Neyer). It was just that there were so many to choose from that the voters couldn't focus on the best candidates well enough.
Neyer also mentions the injustice in the case of Minnie Minoso:
Yes, I do think that Schmidt and his peers should know that Minoso probably lost at least two or three seasons to segregation. But if you're going to educate the voters about Minoso, then you have to educate them about everybody else? And how, exactly, do you do that?
Good point about Minoso, but it is probably closer to five years that he lost to segregation. Minoso was the starting third baseman for the New York Cubans from 1945 to '48. Two of those years he was an All-Star. He was signed by Cleveland and spent two years undeservedly languishing in their minor-league system until he was rescued by the White Sox and was instantly a star (his OPS was 50% better than the adjusted league average in 1951). That adds up to 5 years in my book-sorry to nitpick, but if Neyer can't get it right, how does he expect retired baseball players to?
Neyer's last letter concerns various non-player candidates who fell short in the vote. He rightly points out that Marvin Miller, Doug Harvey ("generally considered the greatest umpire of the last half-century or so"), Walter O'Malley ("generally considered the most influential owner of the last half-century or so"), and other non-players have very little possibility of ever getting elected, which is fine except then why have them on the ballot?
Frankly, I am not sure what to do with the executive and pioneer types other than to form a committee not peopled by players, but perhaps by historians, to weigh their fate. Perhaps the least deserving inductee to the Hall was Morgan Bulkeley, who was the first president of the NL, and a short-lived one at that, by happenstance more than anything else and who happened to be the owner of an also short-lived and long-forgotten Hartford team, the mayor of Hartford, the governor of Connecticut, and a U.S. Senator. The shoddy research done by past Veterans' Committees has peppered the Hall with such baseball dreck.
However, managers, one would think, worked closely with players for many years and they, the players, may be the best judge of a manager's Hall of Fame mettle. So why did managers considered worthy candidates like Dick Williams, Whitey Herzog, and Billy Martin receive so little support (Williams led them with only 41.8% of the vote)? Were they just not worthy? How do we know?
I thought it would be interesting to use the current Hall membership as a standard for evaluating the candidates from the managerial ranks. It seems straight forward, but it gets a bit tricky. There are 17 Hall of Famers who are listed as managers. One is Rube Foster who was so much more than that, but also was never permitted to play in the white major leagues. That leaves 16 men, right?
Well, there are also a number of executives/pioneers and players whose managerial career was a large part of why they got into the Hall. Pioneer Harry Wright was a long-time manager. Fred Clarke, who was voted in as a player, may be the historical antecedent to Joe Torre: his managerial career was maybe more than 50% responsible for his getting a Hall plaque. His plaque actually starts with the phrase, "The first of the successful 'boy managers'," and does not mention his playing career. By the same token, Connie Mack entered the Hall as a manager even though he owned the A's for many years as well.
So I tried a different tact. I would dictate the standard and see how the current HoFers fit. I assumed that to be eligible for the Hall a manager would have to have piloted a team for 10 years. This is based on the ten-year requirement for players. Then I assumed that those managers would have to win approximately 80 games a year to play .500 ball-I know it's less pre-expansion but you've got to start somewhere. That means that to be considered, a manager would have to have won 800 games in his career.
There are 60 managers who meet those criteria. Here they are with their managerial career totals. Note that there is a column designating which managers are in the Hall of Fame (codes: M= "Manager", P= "Player", E= "Pioneer/Executive"):
Name W L PCT Hall?
Connie Mack 3731 3948 .486 M
John McGraw 2763 1948 .586 M
Sparky Anderson 2194 1834 .545 M
Bucky Harris 2157 2218 .493 M
Joe McCarthy 2125 1333 .615 M
Walter Alston 2040 1613 .558 M
Leo Durocher 2008 1709 .540 M
Tony LaRussa 1924 1712 .529
Casey Stengel 1905 1842 .508 M
Gene Mauch 1902 2037 .483
Bill McKechnie 1896 1723 .524 M
Bobby Cox 1805 1404 .562
Ralph Houk 1619 1531 .514
Fred Clarke 1602 1181 .576 P
Tom Lasorda 1599 1439 .526 M
Joe Torre 1579 1448 .522
Dick Williams 1571 1451 .520
Clark Griffith 1491 1367 .522 E
Earl Weaver 1480 1060 .583 M
Miller Huggins 1413 1134 .555 M
Al Lopez 1410 1004 .584 M
Jimmy Dykes 1406 1541 .477
Wilbert Robinson 1399 1398 .500 M
Chuck Tanner 1352 1381 .495
Lou Piniella 1319 1135 .537
Ned Hanlon 1313 1164 .530 M
Cap Anson 1296 947 .578 P
Charlie Grimm 1287 1067 .547
Frank Selee 1284 862 .598 M
Whitey Herzog 1281 1125 .532
Billy Martin 1253 1013 .553
Bill Rigney 1239 1321 .484
Joe Cronin 1236 1055 .540 P
Harry Wright 1225 885 .581 E
Hughie Jennings 1184 995 .543 P
Lou Boudreau 1162 1224 .487 P
John McNamara 1160 1233 .485
Davey Johnson 1148 888 .564
Tom Kelly 1140 1244 .478
Frankie Frisch 1138 1078 .514 P
Bobby Valentine 1117 1072 .510
Danny Murtaugh 1115 950 .540
Jim Leyland 1069 1131 .486
Billy Southworth 1044 704 .597
Red Schoendienst 1041 955 .522 P
Steve O'Neill 1040 821 .559
Jim Fregosi 1028 1095 .484
Chuck Dressen 1008 973 .509
Bill Virdon 995 921 .519
Alvin Dark 994 954 .510
Art Howe 992 951 .511
Frank Chance 946 648 .593 P
Mike Hargrove 925 872 .515
Paul Richards 923 901 .506
Don Zimmer 885 858 .508
George Stallings 879 898 .495
Dusty Baker 840 715 .540
Charlie Comiskey 839 542 .608 E
Fred Hutchinson 830 827 .501
Bill Terry 823 661 .555 P
Of those that went into the Hall as a non-player, only Anson, Cronin, Frisch (see below), and Terry's candidacies did not benefit from their managerial career. They would probably have gotten in without ever being a successful manager.
Of all the men in the table, only Mack (13 more years), Frisch (3 more), and Schoendienst (1) were still active managers when elected. Mack was already a legend when he was elected to the Hall and Schoendienst had only a 24-game interim stint as a manager left. But even though Frisch had only three poor seasons with the Cubs playing .418 ball left in his managerial career, it was enough to push him over one thousand wins. That makes his managerial career look more impressive than his .514 winning percentage. That's why I assert that the Fordham Flash made it because of his playing stats.
Anyway, if you average all of the managers in the Hall from the above group, you get 1596 wins and a .542 winning percentage. I decided to include the four that made it into the Hall mostly based on their playing career since their stats were not out of line with the rest in the group. They averaged only 1123 wins but had a .546 winning percentage, superior to the Hall group as a whole. Given that they were from an earlier era when fewer games were played, I thought this expressed a similar caliber of manager.
OK, so enough of the small print, the de facto standard for the Hall then is 1596 wins and a .542 winning percentage. Actually, there are very few managers who meet both of those criteria who are in the Hall (McGraw, Anderson, McCarthy, Alston, and Clarke). Apparently, if a manager has one of those stats, then he meets the standards of the Hall.
So who meets those criteria and is not already in the Hall? Well Mauch, LaRussa (active), Cox (active), and Houk are already over 1596 wins, and Torre will be there before the All-Star break. As for winning percentage, Cox (active), Grimm, Martin, Johnson, Murtaugh, Southworth, and O'Neill make it.
Of the four candidates that were on the ballot (Martin, Herzog, Williams, and Richards), only Martin makes our cut. Given that these four candidates and not Gene Mauch or Charlie Grimm are on the ballot, does the Committee see something that is not expressed in this analysis? Could there be a reason to select these managers with inferior stats to others not in the Hall?
To answer this, I took all of the full years as manager for the men above and calculated their expected wins and losses (from Bill James' Pythagorean formula). Then I determined if their expected winning percentage was better or worse than the actual. The reason that I used full years is that the expected win-loss formula is based on runs for and against the manager's team. For partial years it would be cumbersome to allocate runs scored to a particular manager.
You'll notice mostly negatives in the difference column. This means that the manager's teams performed better than expected. Whether this does actually measure how much a manager helped his team perform is debatable. Bobby Valentine, a manger for whom I don't have a whole lot of respect, leads the list with an actual winning percentage 16 points better than expected. John McGraw, clearly one of the greatest handful of managers ever, has a worse actual winning percentage than expected. Fellow Hofer Bucky Harris is at the bottom of the list (8 points worse than expected).
However, I think it is a valid tool to evaluate borderline candidates to determine if there is something not conveyed by the managerial record directly. Given Herzog's performance was 9 points above expected, his .532 winning percentage can be "counted" as .541, one point off the average. I think that's close enough to put him in.
It also boosts Lou Piniella's credentials-his .537 is one point better than expected. That is, until his numbers nosedive managing Tampa Bay this year.
Finally, the number of men that appear to merit election to the Hall is now 12, four of which have been active in the last five years: Mauch, Houk, Grimm, Martin, Murtaugh, Southworth, O'Neill, Herzog, Cox (active), LaRussa (active), Torre (active), and Davey Johnson (active-ish). That would be a 43% in the Hall's managerial population. That seems kind of high.Even if we remove the bordeline Herzog, that's still high.
I wanted to ensure that the ratio was not too high. I checked the number of managers all-time. It was 2,965 in total as of 2002. However, there were just 90 with ten years of experience or more, the sixty above and the following 30:
First Last W L PCT
Patsy Tebeau 726 583 .555
Fielder Jones 683 582 .540
Del Baker 419 360 .538
Jimy Williams 779 671 .537
Cito Gaston 683 636 .518
Johnny Oates 797 746 .517
Birdie Tebbetts 748 705 .515
Jack McKeon 770 733 .512
Bill Watkins 452 444 .504
Buck Rodgers 784 774 .503
Roger Craig 738 737 .500
Felipe Alou 691 717 .491
Luke Sewell 606 644 .485
Frank Robinson 763 830 .479
Burt Shotton 697 764 .477
Al Buckenberger 488 539 .475
Pat Corrales 572 634 .474
Lee Fohl 713 792 .474
Branch Rickey 597 664 .473
Jeff Torborg 618 696 .470
Gus Schmelz 624 703 .470
Phil Garner 730 829 .468
Rogers Hornsby 701 812 .463
Dave Bristol 657 764 .462
Fred Haney 629 757 .454
Jimmy McAleer 735 889 .453
Bob Ferguson 417 516 .447
Billy Barnie 632 810 .438
Patsy Donovan 684 879 .438
Jack Chapman 351 502 .411
Of these men, the only one who would meet any of our criteria is Tebeau of Cleveland Sipder's "fame". He had a great record, but this was in an era when a .646 team could finish second (as the Spiders did in 1895). Besides he has fewer wins than anyone else so enshrined.
So am I advocating that 40 of our original set of 60 managers be inducted and indeed 40 of the 90 in total to have managed for ten or more seasons get be-plaque-ed? Consider that only 254 men are in the Hall out of 15,965 ball players all-time. That's 1.6% (and that 254 includes some non-players).
I guess I am. My defense is that 40 managers out of the 2965 managers all-time are even lower than the players' percentage (1.3%). You can be a 10-year utility man in the majors; it;s very hard to have a ten-year career as a bad manager. I think that given the current de facto standards, these men deserve enshrinement. Considering that Richards and Williams, who are considered great managers, did not make my cut, it may be that the number is even higher than forty.
We'll have to see what happens in the coming olympic-like elections (i.e., every four years). It won't be long until Cox, Torre (as a manager), and LaRussa are eligible for the ballot. If those clear-cut Hall-of-Famers don't make it, the Hall may be using a new standard to identify those who qualify. Or it may be that modern managers will only be seen at Cooperstown if they buy a ticket.