Scott and I are not dead, we promise! It has been a few weeks since we have posted and podcasted, but we are hard core adulting! Scott got accepted to grad school (I’ll let him tell you about it in his next post!), I have been lesson-planning like mad, and I am preparing for my first season of high school baseball as a coach. We have also been working on planning the next Standing Room Only ballpark tour, so stay tuned!
It has been a very slow hot stove this winter for baseball. The highlight of the last few weeks has been the election of Trevor Hoffman, Jim Thome, Vladimir Gurrero, and Chipper Jones to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Standing Room would like to extend its congratulations to the newest members of the Hall of Fame.
After taking a few days to digest and process the players that got in, who came up short, and who dropped off the ballot, it became very clear to me that the voting process is flawed. The baseball writers have different standards for each position, there is a limit as to how many players a writer can vote for, and players fall off the ballot easily when they shouldn’t. Now to be clear, I agree with the writers on the four players that got in. It is the players that did not get in that I have issue with.
The debate of the standards needed to get into the Hall of Fame in the wake of the steroid era, the veterans committee, and the generational gap among baseball writers makes the voting even harder. Writers from the east coast rarely get to see players from the west coast, adding to the bias. Why does it take several years on the ballot for a player to make it to the hall and have to win over voters because the top of a ballot is stacked and a voter only has 10 votes?
There are several players that fell of the ballot early and yet players with similar numbers made it into the Hall of Fame. Take a look at a player like Kenny Lofton. Do I have a bias because he played for my Cleveland Indians? Sure. Did he deserve to fall off the ballot during his first year? Absolutely not. His numbers are comparable to those of a player like Tim Raines. Just look at the basic splits between the two players:
Home runs 170
Runs batted in 980
Stolen bases 808
Home runs 130
Runs batted in 781
Stolen bases 622
It is important to note that Lofton is 15th in stolen bases at 622, 60th in Runs Scored at 1,528, and 80th in WAR for Position Players at 65.3. Tim Raines made it into the Hall of Fame on his 10th on the ballot with an 86% of the vote. Kenny Lofton failed to reach the 5% threshold to remain on the ballot and fell off.
Now, you might argue that Lofton’s stats are not as great as Tim Raines in certain areas. Fair. But if you look at the metrics, Lofton is a Hall of Famer. Five Thirty Eight uses a metric called J.A.W.S. that measures Hall of Fame worthiness by incorporating WAR. Lofton ranks as the eighth-best Hall-eligible center fielder in modern baseball history. That alone should be enough of an argument for at the very least earning the minimum amount of votes to stay on the ballot. The JAWS metric also states that a player of Lofton’s caliber should make the Hall of Fame about 72% of the time, so even more justification for a player of his skill and resume staying on the ballot. The biased towards him could simply be he bounced around so much in his career that many writers didn’t get a good look at him. Maybe its because he doesn’t have the power numbers. Whatever it may be, the writers missed the boat and it happens more often than you think.
Baseball Reference and Fangraphs put together data to compare a team players that fell off the ballot after one year vs. a team of players of players that is made up of only First Ballot Hall of Famers.
The Hall of Fame’s All-One-and-Done Team
The player who had the highest likelihood of making the Hall of Fame (based on JAWS) among players who dropped off the ballot after only one year (1979-2017) at each position.
|HOF LIKELIHOOD …||ACTUAL BALLOT RESULTS|
|POS.||PLAYER||JAWS*||HOF %||YEAR ON BALLOT||VOTE %|
*JAWS measures a player’s Hall of Fame qualification using a combination of his career and seven-year peak wins above replacement.
|HOF LIKELIHOOD …||ACTUAL BALLOT RESULTS|
|POS.||PLAYER||JAWS*||HOF %||YRS ON BALLOT||YR ELECTED||VOTE %|