Hall of Fame Season Begins!
OK, so now that the baseball season ends … JoeBlogs season begins. It stinks to have no baseball to watch, but this has always been one of my favorite baseball times to write. We’ve got awards to talk about, baseball ideas to talk about, baseball stories to tell and memories to share and, of course, most of all, we’ll be talking a whole lot about the Baseball Hall of Fame.
On Monday, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced its Contemporary Baseball Era Players Ballot, and it’s a DOOOOOZY. Before we take a quick run-through of the ballot — with so much more to come — let’s give a quick explanation of what’s going on.
Since the beginning, the Hall of Fame has had the Baseball Writers Association of America — the famed BBWAA — decide which players should go in the Hall of Fame. This is the big vote. But almost since the beginning, there have been various smaller committees put together to vote for — well, lots of things. The committees have voted in managers and executives and umpires and that sort of thing. They have voted in Negro leaguers. And they have also voted in lots of players who they felt were unfairly overlooked by the BBWAA.
To get a complete picture:
— There have been 130 players elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA.
— There have been 138 players elected to the Hall of Fame by various committees.
— There have also been 22 managers elected, 40 executives/pioneers elected and 10 umpires elected by the committees.
So in all, while people argue a whole lot about who the BBWAA does and does not elect, the BBWAA entries make up only THIRTY-EIGHT PERCENT of the people in the Hall of Fame. We’ll break all of this down in even greater detail as Hall of Fame season continues.
But for now, what you need to know is that the Hall of Fame has a new committee getting together this year called “The Contemporary Baseball Era Players Committee.” They will vote on eight players selected who played the bulk of their careers since 1980.
Next year, there will be a Contemporary Baseball Era Non-Players Committee, which will meet to discuss managers and executives and other non-players since 1980.
And the year after that, there will be a Classic Baseball Era Committee to discuss everybody who played, managed or worked in baseball before 1980.
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We’ll get back to those other committees next year. For now, we’re focusing on the new ballot and the eight players eligible to be elected to the Hall of Fame for 2023. A committee of 16 people will meet in early December to discuss those eight players. If a player gets 12 votes — that’s 12 out of 16, or 75% — they’re going to the Hall of Fame.
One more thing to point out: Each member of the committee can vote for as few as zero players, which is fine. But they can vote for only as many as three. That three-player limit creates a mathematical mousetrap that will make it difficult for players to get elected. As we go forward, we’ll get our math guru Tom Tango to explain.
But for now, let’s just kick things off by taking a very quick look at our eight candidates!
Albert Belle. Surly slugger. Hit 50 homers and 50 doubles in a single season. Led league in RBIs three times. When he was hot, he was as ferocious and fearsome a hitter as I’ve ever seen. 40.8 WAR.
Barry Bonds. Also a surly slugger. All-time record holder in homers (762), walks (2,558), intentional walks (688) and homers in a single season (73). Won seven MVP awards and eight Gold Gloves. Also stole 514 bases. Best damn player I’ve ever seen. Also, you know, PEDs. 162.8 WAR.
Roger Clemens. Surly hurler. Seven-time Cy Young Award winner. Led league in ERA seven times, in strikeouts five times and in FIP nine times. Won 354 games and struck out 4,672 batters. Ton Tango has shown that his career is essentially Pedro Martinez’s career and Sandy Koufax’s career COMBINED. Also, you know, PEDs. 138.7 WAR.
Don Mattingly. Donnie Baseball. A line drive machine before his back went out on him; he led the league in doubles three straight years from 1984 to ’86 and in those years also won a batting title, an RBI title and twice led the league in total bases. Nine-time Gold Glove winner. Bill James’ famous scouting report: 100% ballplayer, 0% bullshit. Still my favorite Yankees, faint praise though that might be. 42.4 WAR.
Fred McGriff. Crime Dog. Beloved icon of back-to-back-to-back AAU National Championship teams. Hit 493 home runs. Top 50 all-time in homers, RBIs, walks and extra-base hits. One of the greatest follow-throughs of any hitter in baseball history. Would probably be in the Hall of Fame already had he hit seven more regular-season home runs. 52.6 WAR.
Dale Murphy. The Murph. Two-time MVP. Five-time Gold Glover. Five-tool player who had a 30-30 season in 1983. Was often called the best player in baseball during his career. One of the truly nicest people in baseball history. 46.5 WAR.
Rafael Palmeiro. Solid mustache. One of only seven players in baseball history to reach 3,000 hits AND 500 home runs. The other six are all first-ballot, no-doubt Hall of Famers who don’t even need a first name: Aaron, Cabrera, Mays, Murray, Pujols, A-Rod. Won three Gold Gloves, though one of the three was perhaps the oddest decision in Gold Glove history (he was a DH that season). Also, you know, PEDs. 72.8 WAR.
Curt Schilling. Provocateur. One of the greatest postseason pitchers in baseball history. Retired with the best strikeout-to-walk ratio among all pitchers in modern baseball history. World Series MVP. Winner of every baseball humanitarian and community service award, including the Branch Rickey, the Hutch, the Roberto Clemente and Lou Gehrig Awards. Has unapologetically picked a lot of fights in retirement. 80.5 WAR.
Holy cow, is this going to be a free-for-all. We have A LOT to talk about.
This ballot is purposely created as a battle of good vs. evil. One of McGriff, Murphy or Mattingly will be elected. Likely McGruff, I mean McGriff.
I expect that within 50 years, all 8 of these guys will be in. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very fun to argue and debate about this and I don’t want to stop. At some point I think the opposition to PEDs in the hall will fade away (or die off, literally). Nostalgia will take over, and numbers or memories, whichever helps more, will shine through.