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Hall of Fame Dolts
2004-06-18 00:24
by Mike Carminati

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:

Johnny Allen 144Mark Belanger 161
Bobby Avila 176Bert Campaneris 280
Glenn Beckert 125Larry Doyle 289
Guy Bush 167Jim Kaat 271
Leo Cardenas 199Sparky Lyle 161
Larry French 218Lee May 225
Julian Javier 134Bobby Murcer 274
Mel Parnell 141Andy Pafko 221
J.R. Richard 102Reggie Smith 325
Manny Sanguillen 157Luis Tiant 255
Hal Schumacher 176Smokey Joe Wood 193
11 Old158.111 New241.4

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:

Grade% of HoFersWin Share MinHallEligible%
ATop 5%4003939100.00%
BNext 10%3007311165.77%
CNext 25%2255821726.73%
DNext 60%150223127.05%

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):

NameWin SharesLast Year
Rickey Henderson5292003
Barry Bonds5222003
Cal Ripken Jr.4272001
Tony Gwynn3992001
Wade Boggs3941999
Tim Raines3902002
Roger Clemens3522003
Roberto Alomar3452003
Mark McGwire3432001
Craig Biggio3422003
Rafael Palmeiro3332003
Will Clark3282000
Barry Larkin3212003
Greg Maddux3172003
Jeff Bagwell3162003
Fred McGriff3142003
Ken Griffey Jr.3132003
Harold Baines3082001
Frank Thomas3062003
Chili Davis2841999
Mark Grace2842003
Tony Fernandez2782001
Gary Sheffield2752003
Jose Canseco2722001
Tony Phillips2691999
Bobby Bonilla2682001
Edgar Martinez2632003
Mike Piazza2542003
Wally Joyner2542001
Darryl Strawberry2521999
Gary Gaetti2502000
Sammy Sosa2472003

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.

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