Break Up the Hall! (Or At Least The Veterans Committee)
by Mike Carminati
Last week's Veterans Committee vote was just the third player election and just the second for executives since the committee was revamped in 2001. And again no one was able to reach the magical 75% threshold and gain admission to the Hall.
It's clear that this system will never bear fruit, or rather Hall of Famers.
The last major-leaguer to be selected by the Veterans was Bill Mazeroski in 2001. That winter the Veterans were reorganized to include all living Hall of Famers and the elections were limited to one every two years for players and one every four for non-players (executives, pioneers, managers, and umps).
Meanwhile, the special Negro Leagues committee last year selected an orgy of 17 players and executives for enshrinement. Many of these selections raised quite a few eyebrows even when not viewed in the context of such a ludicrously immense class.
Yes, this might make the powers that be in Cooperstown a bit reluctant to return to a secret special committee whose voting tabulations are kept private. However, the system and the old-time would be better served if the committee were abolished altogether than to go through the motions with an ineffectual group.
Some are content to sit idly back while the Veterans are ignored. Who knows, maybe that's the ultimate goal for the revamped committee. Besides, what's the end result? Many say it is better to keep these man out than to allow latter-day Tommy McCarthys and Travis Jacksons in.
The basic problem is that there is and always has been two roads to the Hall, both with different election procedures and with wildly divergent standards. To illustrate the overall average for the 198 players selected by either the baseball writers or the veterans (or a special election) is 337.7 Win Shares and have had to wait an average of just over 14 years after becoming eligible to gain election. While the 103 picked by the BBWAA have average almost 380 Win Shares and a wait of over four years, 93 Veterans selections have averaged almost a hundred Win Shares fewer and have waited over 25 years.
Looking at the change over time, the pattern becomes clearer. First, here are the averages per decade for players selected for the Hall in one of the elections during that decade:
Avg Win Shares
Other than the gluttony of the 1970s, the players have remained pretty consistent since the 1950s in career Win Share average if not waiting period. Next, here are the decade averages for the writers:
Avg Win Shares
And finally the Veterans Committee:
Avg Win Shares
Here's what happened: After lowering their standards in the Forties and Fifties, the writers limited their elections and (therefore) their selections in the Sixties while raising their standards slightly. The wait for the players who did go in became shorter then and has continued to shorten. So the writers become pickier but were able to concentrate on a worthy candidate more and more quickly.
Meanwhile, the Veterans alternated decades of high membership and low standards with those of high standards and low membership until, in reaction to the stasis the writers reached in the Fifties, they indulged for two decades on players of lower and lower standards. The membership began to slow, but the standards remained low until the committee was dramatically revamped in 2001.
After 2001, these once leaky faucet (the Veterans Committee) went from a trickle to being completely shut off.
So who cares? Even though we can't correct the past, at least now we are getting players who are truly plaque worthy, right? True, but who is being left out?
Take a look at the table below listing the number of players that were eligible for an election but were not selected even though they exceeded the Hall average for Win Shares (337). Also, listed is the number with 300 Win Shares (a Tropic of Cancer away from the 337-WS equator). Note the numbers were approaching zero around 1980, meaning that all players who met this criterion were the Hall, and have been growing ever since. Sure the standards remain high for the Hall but a number of worthy candidates are being overlooked arbitrarily:<./p>