Thursday, January 07, 2010

More Thoughts on This Year's Baseball Hall of Fame Ballots

-First, I would reiterate that Dawson absolutely should be in. As Rob Neyer reminds us, though, he shouldn't be the only Expo, nor perhaps even the first (though Dawson's window was smaller). There are a lot of indefensible denials on the part of the BBWAA (that only got more indefensible this year - more on that in a second), but not having Raines in the Hall is stupid. One of the greatest hitters, runners, and producers in his era, and that's what the Hall should be to me - the best of your period. And Raines was unquestionably one of the best of his era.

-Secondly, yes, Blyleven and Alomar seem locks next year. As the BBWAA site itself put it, "For the first time in BBWAA balloting, two candidates failed to gain election by fewer than 10 votes," with Blyleven falling five short and Alomar eight shy. The case for Blyleven was made years ago, and while he will almost certainly get in next year, that doesn't make the ongoing ignorance or stubbornness of some minority of the BBWAA less frustrating. And Alomar was, simply put, one of the three greatest all-around second-basemen - offense, defense, he just had it all. The fact that he didn't get in on the first try says nothing about him, and plenty about the ignorance, blindness, and unnecessarily codger-y attitudes among many of the participants of the BBWAA.

-Just in the last few days (in no small part thanks to our always-good commenters), I've also really been persuaded as to why Dale Murphy should be in. I never really thought he didn't belong; he just never really entered the equation (and I admit that I was a kid for much of his most productive period, and I didn't really pay as much attention to the NL. Only Greg Maddux in the early 90s would really get me looking in the direction of the non-DH half of baseball). That said, it's just not going to happen barring some miraculous shift on the part of the BBWAA; in his 11th year on the ballot, he still only has 11.7% of the voters behind him. He absolutely belongs in there, but it will probably be up to the Veterans' Committee, and even they don't always make sound decisions.

-I'd harp more on Edgar Martinez's low showing, but I don't need to get my blood pressure up or go into too much detail (since I'm sure I'll have years to re-argue this case). I've said most of what I feel now more coolly and clearly elsewhere. For now, I'll simply leave it at the fact that, while I understand the "he never fielded" argument, I just don't think it holds. He was one of the best hitters of his era of players at any position, and that alone should be worth getting in. And for those who still insist that, by not fielding, he wasn't a full baseball player, Jayson Stark does a great job disarming the importance and validity of that argument, as well as other myths that will work against Martinez's favor.

-I'm still not sold on Jack Morris or, to a lesser extent, Alan Trammell. Yes, Morris had what was probably the first performance that I knew, even as a kid, was really really special. Jayson Stark made a compelling opening argument for Morris, but it's not enough, to me. I know these things are always intangible, but to me, Morris unquestionably belongs in the "Hall of Really Good." But he just doesn't strike me as one of the best of his era. As for Trammell, I'm surprised how few defenses on him I've really seen from some of the better baseball writers (which I suppose may indicate just how they're voting on him). A career OPS+ of 110 does seem mighty good, and looking just at his numbers, Trammell seems like a legitimate case, but I'd really like to see some wonk-ish breakdowns that make strong arguments as to why he does or does not belong in, and those have been few and far between.

-I always enjoy seeing the names who will never be on the list again because they didn't get the minimum 5% of the votes, so for those of you who had high hopes for Andres Galarraga, Robin Ventura, Ellis Burks, Eric Karros, Kevin Appier, Pat Hentgen, David Segui, Mike Jackson, Ray Lankford, Shane Reynolds, or Todd Zeile, I'm sorry - save the craziest veterans committee selections ever, your guys are toast.

-To sum up, it's pretty clear that Blyleven and Alomar will be getting in next year, and that will be good then. The DH argument was almost certainly a strike against Edgar, but 22% is a respectable start, I suppose. It would be nice to see both McGwire and Murphy get in (perhaps together), one in recognition of his skills during the steroids era, and the other in recognition of how good he was in the pre-steroids era, but McGwire's going to continue to wait, and it's looking increasingly likely that Murphy will only get in if the Veterans Committee puts him in someday. No matter who seems a lock in, and who seems locked out, the fact that guys like Raines, Blyleven, Alomar, Martinez, Murphy, McGwire, and perhaps even McGriff have to wait another year, while Andre Dawson goes in all on his lonesome, is pretty ridiculous. Regular commenter Aaron put it best: "if there's a group of people who understand the thing they're supposed to do professionally less well than the BBWAA understands evaluating baseball players, I don't want to know about them."