Friday Night Baseball Blogging: Hall of Fame

Jonathan Bernstein is a Bloomberg View columnist. He taught political science at the University of Texas at San Antonio and DePauw University and wrote A Plain Blog About Politics.
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Clay Davenport had an interesting Hall of Fame proposal that he posted a few days ago. It's for the writers' vote. Instead of a flat requirement of 75 percent to get in the Hall, Clay would have a three-step proposal:

  • The top candidate gets in;
  • The second place finisher needs a majority vote to get in;
  • Any other candidate who reaches 75 percent gets in

As he points out, it solves a pretty serious problem for the actual Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, which really wants to have inductions every summer.

He runs through elections since 1990, and finds (assuming all votes would have been the same) that under his plan five additional candidates would have been elected: Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza, all of whom will almost certainly get in eventually, and Lee Smith and Jack Morris. In addition, Ron Santo and Orlando Cepeda would have been elected by the writers, and not by a Veterans Committee.

Well, that's not great, is it; Morris and Smith would surely be mistakes, no? I'm required by creed to believe that Cepeda (and, you know, George Kelly) is a legit HOFer, but an objective analysis might find him somewhat wanting.

Let's see...Smith gets in, on Clay's alternate timeline, with a second-place 50.6 percent in 2012. Morris? He's in with a second-place 52.3 in 2010. Which suggests that one fix is just to raise the second-place bar, maybe to 60 percent. Unfortunately, that wouldn't keep Morris out, since he peaked with 67.7 last year. Fie on you, BBWAA!

I don't know...I think on balance I don't like Clay's suggestion. I do like a large Hall, but keeping a bar relatively high to keep mistakes out seems like a good idea. No one should sneak in just because no great players happened to retire one year, should they?

What I'd actually like to see is a shorter initial ballot period (maybe 10 years, instead of 15), but then a fairly generous second-chance committee after that. Perhaps one voted by the writers, or perhaps use that list to open it up to other people who write about, talk about or analyze baseball but haven't been beat writers for a newspaper. But I'm really not sure what the details should be.

So I think, on balance, I'm not for Clay's proposal. But it's definitely one worth considering.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

(Jonathan Bernstein covers U.S. politics for Bloomberg View. He is co-editor of "The Making of the Presidential Candidates 2012." Follow him on Twitter at @JBPlainblog.)

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