Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
The other day, this year's Veterans Committee Hall of Fame players ballot (phew!) was released, and perhaps what will be more thoroughly adjudged than the Hall of Fame credentials of the twenty-five men on the ballot is the Veterans Committee itself.
The Committee was revamped for the 2003 election to include all living Hall of Fame players and all enshrined media reps (i.e., recipients of the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters and J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers) while the last living member of the previous committee (John McHale) was allowed to stay on to finish his term (until 2007). The rules were thoroughly revised so that, for the first time, an open vote was held instead of a backdoor meeting, the results were made public, and 75% of the votes were needed for admission. Also, the rules were changed so that all eligible players, regardless of their performance in the writers' vote, were available to the appointment committee, consisting of six Hall of Famers, which cuts the list down to 25-30 names for the final ballot. There were no more subcommittees for separate groups (i.e., nineteenth-century players and Negro Leaguers), and the vote was no longer held annual: it was limited to once every two years. There was also a separate "composite" ballot for non-players (managers, executives, and umpires).
Great, but it may be much ado about nothing. No one from either the player ballot or the composite ballot garnered enough votes for election. The closest was Gil Hodges, whose 61.7% (50 votes) was 11 votes shy of election. Two other players (Tony Oliva and Ron Santo) and one non-player (umpire Doug Harvey) were on over 50% of the ballots. So the Vets Committee went on its two-year hiatus without selecting one measly person.
Some heralded this as progress given that there was no one who merited inclusion in the heralded Hall of Babe Ruth and Tommy McCarthy. However, if the Vets again vote in no one more substantial than Claude Rains, I'm not sure that they will continue to have the media's support. If a committee goes four years without picking anyone, one has to wonder why the Hall even needs such a committee. And given the media support for Hodges and Santo, among others, they are likely to start asking fewer questions about each candidate's worthiness and more about the Veterans Committee's.
That said, let's take a look at the player candidates to determine who is worthy of enshrinement whether or not the system is ready to elect them this go-around. Here is a rundown of each candidate similar to the one I did on the writers' ballot. I am including the candidates who were on the 2003 ballot but didn't make the cut this time. I have to split the table in two to fit. First here are the candidates measured by the Bill James tools:
|Name||Black Ink (Avg 40 P, 27 B)||>HOF Avg?||Gray Ink (Avg 185 P, 144 B)||>HOF Avg?||HOF Standard (Avg 50)||>HOF Avg?||HOF Monitor (Likely >100)||HOF Likely?|
|Smoky Joe Wood||17||No||18||No||10.0||No||67.5||No|
Part Two—The final two tests are to evaluate the similar players and the individuals' Win Shares total:
|Name||# Similar in Hall||Sim Elig?||>50%||Win Shares||> HOF Avg (337)||HoF Vote High?||% Passed|
|Smoky Joe Wood||1||10||No||193||No||18.01%||0%|
According to the tests, Dick Allen and Tony Oliva are the best options though I doubt the vote will reflect that.
By the way, here are the candidates not on the ballot who have the most Win Shares. Do you note a certain bias against expansion-era and nineteenth-century players:
|George Van Haltren||344|
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