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The Vetted Hall
2004-12-11 01:38
by Mike Carminati

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:

NameBlack 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?
Dick Allen27Yes159Yes 38.7 No99.0No
Bobby Bonds6No132No 35.8 No66.0No
Ken Boyer4No138No 35.7 No74.5No
Rocky Colavito15No152Yes 29.9 No72.5No
Wes Ferrell25No164Yes 33.0 No75.0No
Curt Flood5No58No 15.0 No53.0No
Joe Gordon2No111No 30.8 No87.5No
Gil Hodges2No128No 31.7 No83.0No
Elston Howard0No27No 24.0 No73.5No
Jim Kaat19No128No 44.0 No130.5Yes
Mickey Lolich15No156No 37.0 No98.5No
Sparky Lyle10No52No 18.0 No79.0No
Marty Marion3No10No 16.9 No57.0No
Roger Maris18No57No 22.0 No83.0No
Carl Mays23No172No 45.0 No114.0Yes
Minnie Minoso15No189Yes 35.1 No81.0No
Thurman Munson0No46No 29.5 No89.5No
Don Newcombe21No136No 5.0 No78.0No
Tony Oliva41Yes146Yes 28.9 No114.0Yes
Vada Pinson18No135No 35.9 No87.0No
Ron Santo11No147Yes 40.9 No88.0No
Luis Tiant13No115No 41.0 No97.0No
Joe Torre12No71No 40.1 No96.0No
Maury Wills16No67No 28.6 No98.0No
Smoky Joe Wood17No18No 10.0 No67.5No
2003 Ballot
Ted Kluszewski11No112No 24.0 No76.5No
Mike Marshall13No39No 11.0 No54.0No
Bob Meusel9No107No 31.1 No75.5No
Allie Reynolds18No161No 33.0 No110.0Yes
Ken Williams11No121No 39.0 No67.5No

Part Two—The final two tests are to evaluate the similar players and the individuals' Win Shares total:

Name# Similar in HallSim Elig?>50%Win Shares> HOF Avg (337)HoF Vote High?% Passed
Dick Allen16No342Yes18.94%50%
Bobby Bonds09No302No10.64%0%
Ken Boyer06No279No25.53%0%
Rocky Colavito08No273No8.64%17%
Wes Ferrell010No233No14.81%17%
Curt Flood09No221No15.11%0%
Joe Gordon16No242No28.53%0%
Gil Hodges09No263No63.37%0%
Elston Howard08No203No20.70%0%
Jim Kaat710Yes268No29.55%33%
Mickey Lolich110No224No25.53%0%
Sparky Lyle010No161No13.11%0%
Marty Marion08No177No40.00%0%
Roger Maris04No223No43.09%0%
Carl Mays310No256No19.75%17%
Minnie Minoso010No283No21.08%17%
Thurman Munson08No206No15.46%0%
Don Newcombe110No176No15.32%0%
Tony Oliva18No245No59.26%50%
Vada Pinson39No321No25.93%0%
Ron Santo07No324No56.79%17%
Luis Tiant39No256No30.91%0%
Joe Torre26No315No35.80%0%
Maury Wills310No253No40.65%0%
Smoky Joe Wood110No193No18.01%0%
2003 Ballot
Ted Kluszewski05No203No14.36%0%
Mike Marshall010No146No3.70%0%
Bob Meusel29No184No7.41%0%
Allie Reynolds210No170No33.57%17%
Ken Williams210No202No9.88%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:

NameWin Shares
Tony Mullane399
Bill Dahlen394
Darrell Evans363
Rusty Staub358
Sherry Magee354
Lou Whitaker351
Dwight Evans347
George Van Haltren344
Jimmy Sheckard339
Bob Caruthers337
Jim McCormick334
Bobby Grich329
Tommy Leach328
Reggie Smith325

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