The final 200 players who will be eligible for the Veterans Committee vote next year was released a few weeks back. I didn't have time to get to it before, but I wanted to take a look at the players that the Vets will ignore the next time around. I wonder if Mike Schmidt will find it in his heart to put someone's, anyone's name on his ballot.
New to the ballot in 2005 are Mark Belanger, Bert Campaneris, Larry Doyle, Jim Kaat, Sparky Lyle, Lee May, Bobby Murcer, Andy Pafko, Reggie Smith, Luis Tiant, and Smokey Joe Wood. Dropped are: Johnny Allen, Bobby Avila, Glenn Beckert, Guy Bush, Leo Cardenas, Larry French, Julian Javier, Mel Parnell, J.R. Richard, Manny Sanguillen, and Hal Schumacher. That's a pretty good improvement in quality.
Here's a comparison between the two sets of candidates based on career Win Shares:
Smokey Joe Wood
That's about an 85-Win Share improvement.
In my previous Hall of Fame investigations, I came up with a way to grade Hall of Fame candidates based on career Win Shares. Grade A players have at least 400 career WS. All eligible Grade A players have been elected to the Hall. No Player under 150 WS has ever been elected to the Hall (Tommy McCarthy, 171 WS, is the lowest). Therefore the lowest threshold for a Hall-worthy candidate (Grade D) is 150 WS. Here's a rundown of the grading system:
% of HoFers
Win Share Min
You'll notice that the percentages fall off quickly from 400 WS down to 150 WS. The overall average for the Hall of Fame is 337.23 WS. My assumption is that any player who meets this criterion is at least as good as an average Hall of Famer and therefore should be in the Hall.
There are five players on the Vets Committee list who have at least 337 WS. They are Tony Mullane 399, Bill Dahlen 394, George Van Haltren 344, Dick Allen 342, and Bob Caruthers 337. Overall there are zero Grade A, 15 Grade B, 69 Grade C, 96 Grade D, and 20 Grade F candidates. Ron Santo has 324 WS.
Of course, my expectation is that no one will be elected by the Veterans again. I think that having 200 candidates on the ballot will ensure that the Veterans never elect anyone again. Given that 10% of the candidates are Grade F candidates, meaning that they are far worse than anyone already in the Hall, the ballot has too many candidates.
I would suggest that instead of a 200-man ballot, they reduce the list to 20-30 candidates. This could be done either before the Vets vote or by creating a two phase Vets Committee vote, a nominating phase to reduce the candidates' numbers and a final vote to elect the candidates. That way, the committee can focus on a few qualified candidates and actually elect someone. The current system is analogous to having a cable box with 800 channels but being unable to find anything worthy to watch. You can't see the trees for the forest.
Besides, there are plenty of deserving candidates even with the 200-man ballot that get overlooked. The ones over 300 career Win Shares are: Sherry Magee 354, Jimmy Sheckard 339, Frank McCormick 334, Tommy Leach 328, and Ken Singleton 302. Of those five, two are better than the Hall of Fame average, and they are not even being considered!
I full expect that the system will be revamped after one more failed election.
In a related note, here are the candidates that will become available on the writers' ballot in the coming years (min. 250 WS, stats through 2003):
Cal Ripken Jr.
Ken Griffey Jr.
There are at least 12 that are locks and there are 10 that are at least as good as the Hall average. Hall voting, both by the writers and by the veterans, will be very interesting over the next decade. If the Hall doesn't clean up its act and start selecting a higher percentage of credible candidates, it's going to lose what credibility it still has.