The 78th National Baseball Hall of Fame balloting resulted in 4 new inductees, including the greatest ballplayer I've ever seen in my entire life, Pedro Martinez*.
Along with inducting 4 new Hall of Famers, the flames of a completely dysfunctional balloting process roared higher, as it does just about every year. Just about every baseball writer in America has a theory as to how the system can be improved. The Hall of Fame allegedly has said that they will not grow the list of ballot slots, and there are writers who have come up with ideas on how to game the system to better support players that might otherwise be on the cusp of the Hall of Fame vote total for either induction or to remain on the ballot.
Derrick Goold has come up with a really simple idea of Yes or No vote for players on the ballot. His article is subscription only, but Jayson Stark touched upon it in his recent article. I love the idea of a Yes or No vote. However, I'd add a caveat that would probably confuse things further, but hear me out.
Currently players must wait 5 years before they are eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot. This is fine, no need to mess with this. That's where the changes begin. Install a Yes or No vote, and if a player reaches 75%, they're in. For players who are from eras of suspect, like the Steroid Era, voters can choose option B, which is to defer a player's ballot for 10 years. This mean they'll essentially be punted another 10 years, to allow their eras and career perspectives to marinated a little longer. In order to punt a player's Hall of Fame ballot, they must receive more that 50.00% of the Defer Option on their ballot by voters. To be fair, a player's ballot can only be punted twice, after which 15 or 25 years will have passed. If a player does not reach 75% in their first ballot and they're not deferred, they are off the ballot, win or lose, and can only be considered by the Era Committee(maybe this is a separate post to deal with!). If a player is deferred, they do not appear on the ballot during their deferment years.
Using this method, how would my 2016 potential Hall of Fame ballot look? Let's see:
- Barry Bonds - Defer
- Roger Clemens - Defer
- Ken Griffey Jr. - Yes
- Mike Piazza - Yes
- Sammy Sosa - No
- Curt Schilling - Yes
- Mark McGwire - No
- Trevor Hoffman - Yes
- Gary Sheffield - Yes
- Jeff Bagwell - Yes
- Larry Walker - Yes
- Edgar Martinez - Yes
- Lee Smith - Defer
- Jeff Kent - No
- Mike Mussina - Yes
- Alan Trammell - Defer
- Nomar Garciaparra - Yes**
- Jason Kendall - Defer
- Billy Wagner - Defer
- Fred McGriff - No
- Tim Raines - Yes
Jim Edmonds, Brad Ausmus, Garret Anderson, Luis Castillo, Troy Glaus, Mark Grudzielanek, Mike Sweeney, Mike Lowell, Bengie Molina, Russ Ortiz, David Eckstein, Mike Hampton, Cristian Guzman, Randy Winn, Chan Ho Park, Russ Springer, Jeff Weaver, Bob Howry, Fernando Tatis, Gary Matthews, Jose Guillen are all No. They may not all end up on the next ballot, but they really shouldn't. They're simply not, in reality, going to garner enough real debate.
1-21 garner debate, except perhaps Ken Griffey Jr. The rest, there's plenty of debate to last years. Why clutter a ballot with Jim Edmonds and Russ Springer? The Baseball Hall of Fame could have an annual Player Appreciation Exhibit featuring players who retired 5 years prior. An entire room, for an entire year, dedicated to those who wrapped up their careers 5 years ago. The room might have to be large, but the space a player receives can also be proportional to their careers. If your career was 5 games 5 years ago, you get your name on a chalkboard. That way, the player can bring his kids to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and show off the fact that their name reached the hall in some way. What a great way to celebrate the game of baseball!
For instance, next year, that means you'd have a room that features Jim Edmonds, and the Greatest Catch Ever Made(arguably) on loop.
You know what that would also eliminate? The wasted votes of writers who simply like a player as a human being. This eliminates the Thank You For That Amazing Catch vote(s) that Jim Edmonds will undoubtedly receive.
I'm getting excited just thinking about this Yes or No(or Defer) voting method. If only it could be a reality.
* - I'm a Red Sox fan, and while I will admit bias, I'm sticking by my proclamation.
** - See above. Nomar was supposed to have 3,000 hits, one day break Ted Williams' .406 record for a single season, have multiple World Series rings, and retire as mayor of Boston.
Somewhat related, I started reading Jane Leavy's "The Last Boy", about Mickey Mantle's life and times as a Yankee legend. As I was born more than a decade after Mickey Mantle's career ended, I'm looking forward to learning about the 3 time MVP, who would have received an emphatic Yes vote using the Yes or No(or Defer) ballot.