The Golden Era Hall of Fame Ballot
The Hall of Fame has announced that eight players (and two executives) are to be considered for induction into the Hall in what is being called the Golden Age Ballot.
Sixteen individuals (including some Hall of Famers) will vote for the candidates on Dec. 5, 2011 at the Baseball Writers Winter Meetings and twelve votes will be required for induction. This is, of course, the latest effort to induct “veteran players” into the Hall.
The players who are on the ballot are: Ken Boyer, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Allie Reynolds, Ron Santo and Luis Tiant.
According to the announcement, the players who are eligible are those “whose most significant career impact was realized during the 1947-72 time period.” And the players are to be judged for their “on-field careers.”
This last statement about on-field careers is quite significant. I completely agree that players should be judged for induction into the Hall based on what they accomplished on the field of play. The CAWS Career Gauge is based exclusively on the numbers that the players posted during those careers. But we all know that other considerations often influence the votes. In fact, in this election, should Gil Hodges be elected, it will almost certainly be because of his managerial efforts and not only because of his on-field playing numbers (which simply are not good enough). Think Bob Lemon as a perfect example of this.
The Missing Candidate
Before we take a look at who among these players may have legitimate Hall of Fame numbers, I have to raise a very important question. And that is – where is Dick Allen?
Dick Allen is by far the best position player of the 20th century who has been eligible for the Hall of Fame and who has not been elected. And he had his most significant career impact in the time frame noted above. No other player who has been eligible and not elected comes close to his career numbers. Allen is tied with three other players (on the CAWS Gauge) for the #38 best career of the 20th century. And who are those three players? – Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken Jr and Robin Yount. Nice company, right?
How can any group of “knowledgeable” baseball people put together a ballot for this time-frame and exclude Dick Allen? It is one thing to withhold your vote for someone in the actual election because you think he had an “attitude problem.” But to exclude the best candidate from this period (by his numbers) from even being considered is a complete miscarriage of justice. Shame on the committee who did this!
The Position Players
There are five position players on the GE ballot and only one has obvious Hall of Fame numbers according to the CAWS Gauge. And that is Ron Santo.
Ron Santo had the #6 best career by a third baseman in the 20th century. Those ahead of him (in order) are: Mike Schmidt, Eddie Mathews, George Brett, Wade Boggs and Chipper Jones. He also had the #75 best career of all position players of the century. The fact is that he should have been in the Hall of Fame long ago. I feel that his case is very similar to that of Burt Blyleven who was finally elected earlier this year. That is, a truly great career not properly appreciated.
Here are Santo’s numbers compared to the other position players on the ballot. I have included a few Hall of Famers for comparison purposes.
The first number is career win shares, the second is core value (the win shares for the ten best seasons) and the third is the CAWS score (the career score) [CAWS = CV + .25(CWS – CV)]. Hall of Famers are in bold type.
As you can see, Minnie Minoso has the next best career numbers in this group after Santo. But Minoso is not really close to the 280 CAWS benchmark for HOF numbers for an outfielder.
Having examined these numbers, now look at Dick Allen’s numbers. You can see they are significantly better than those above – including the Hall of Famers.
The bottom line here, of course, is that only Ron Santo has Hall of Fame numbers among these candidates.
I do consider Santo and Gil Hodges to be the “sentimental favorites.” I hope that Santo is finally recognized. It would be long past due.
There are three pitchers on the Golden Era ballot and none of them has obvious Hall of Fame numbers.
For a starting pitcher to have obvious HOF numbers according to the CAWS Career Gauge, he must have a CAWS score of 235 or have earned 300 career win shares. Only thirty-five (35) starting pitchers in the 20th century have a CAWS score of 235 and Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson are the most recent. And only four others have earned 300 win shares (Tom Glavine is the latest). Here are their numbers.
Here are the numbers for the three pitchers currently on the GE ballot. I also show Bert Blyleven’s numbers since he was just inducted this year.
As you can see, none of the three candidates comes close to a CAWS score of 235 or 300 career win shares. In fact, every starting pitcher since World War II who has HOF numbers and has been eligible is already in Cooperstown. And Luis Tiant is the highest ranked starting pitcher among those did not post HOF numbers.
As a matter of interest, there are other CAWS benchmarks for obvious HOF numbers for a pitcher. For example, Pedro Martinez and Mariano Rivera have obvious HOF numbers according to two of those benchmarks. But none of the three candidates here satisfy any of those criteria either.
I applaud the Hall of Fame for attempting to identify deserving “veteran” players who may have been passed over for recognition in the past. And, certainly, Ron Santo on this ballot (and Dick Allen who is not on the ballot) are players who have posted obvious HOF number in their careers and deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.
It will be interesting to see whether Ron Santo is elected (finally). And whether another player who does not have HOF numbers (a la Joe Gordon) gets the votes.
Thank you for your time.
Professor Emeritus – City U of NY
Author of A GOOD CAWS: A Hall of Fame Handbook (2011)