The 2017 BBWAA ballots for induction into the Baseball Hall of Famer were announced back on January 18th. The results were interesting. Gaining induction were Tim Raines (on his 10th and final ballot), Jeff Bagwell (on his 7th ballot) and Ivan Rodriguez (on his first ballot). Just barely missing the cut were Trevor Hoffman (on his second try) and Vlad Guerrero (on his first ballot). Both got above 70%, so they will get in within two years time (and probably next year). Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mike Mussina and Edgar Martinez all took strong steps forward, while Curt Schilling went backwards and other players stalled. There’s a lot of good and bad to look at on this year’s results, so let’s start with the good.
Pitching has changed a lot over the years, hasn’t it? So, it makes sense that pitching has had the most ebbs and flows in terms of standards for induction over the years. Until the 1970’s, there were a total of 12 starters inducted by the writers, including two on the first ballot. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, they inducted another 10 starters, and since the 1990’s they inducted 14 pitchers. However, from 1999 (Nolan Ryan) until 2011 (Bert Blyleven), no starters were inducted (three closers were, however). Pitching seems to be one of the tougher positions for induction, but there still are plenty on the outside looking in that should be corrected for. No median score, this time. Just going to compare them to current starters.
Yes, this post is a couple of days late. After reworking the center field post to up the median, it made sense to do it in right field as well, since the Veterans Committee has really watered down each position. There were 10 center fielders voted in by the Veterans Committee, compared to eight by the BBWAA. Out of the 24 right fielders inducted into the Hall of Fame, 11 were inducted by the Veterans Committee, and with very few exceptions are some of the lowest ranking players in Cooperstown. As such, instead of the typical median score, a modified one using the lowest ranking BBWAA-inductee (Wee Willie Keeler) as the base score will be used. That gives a median score of 29056, between Roberto Clemente and Paul Waner.
Centerfield is the most glorious position on the diamond, so it should have the highest standards for induction to Cooperstown. If a player is going to be in the same group as Ty Cobb, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle, then he better be one of the best of all-time. That’s why the median score of 19553 seems like it’s lower than it should be, ranking between Kirby Puckett and Earl Averill. It’s brought down quite a bit by having three players (Edd Roush, Hack Wilson and Lloyd Waner) rank in the bottom 200’s, and four additional players (Duke Snider, Max Carey, Earle Combs and Larry Doby) rank below 150. So, it’s time to up the ante. Snider is the worst CF that the BBWAA elected, and setting him as the bottom score resets the median to 28717, between Griffey and Hamilton. Now, let’s see how some hopefuls do:
Left field is always difficult to judge due to the fact that it is typically occupied by big bulky sluggers who are poor defenders. As such, those few that can actually field well (Yaz, Rickey, Bonds) tend to get a boosted ranking because they can stand out more. Still, if a player isn’t a big power hitter, it’s tough for them to be considered a great left fielder. Left fielders have a median score of 22948, which would be Fred Clarke’s score with 19 left fielders in Cooperstown already. Here’s how a few outsiders look:
Catching is the most stressful and demanding position on the diamond defensively. Accordingly, there tends to be less offense expected from catchers than from other players as long as they field well. However, all that changed in the 1930’s with the advent of catchers like Mickey Cochrane, Gabby Hartnett and Bill Dickey who were very good hitters. Cooperstown houses 15 catchers in the gallery, with the median score belonging to Buck Ewing, 24573. Let’s see how some outsiders rank:
Shortstops tend to be the most underrated hitters in history, mostly because they are typically known for their gloves first. However, without some positive contributions offensively, even an Ozzie Smith level defender would have difficulty making it into the Hall of Fame. Shortstop is one of the more populated positions in Cooperstown, with 22 inductees at the position. The median score for shortstops comes in between Luis Aparicio and Barry Larkin at 26116. Here are how some outside shortstops rank: