No, I’m not going to rant about the fact that Rickey Henderson didn’t
get more than 95% of the vote (though that is quite stupid). No, I’m
not going to rant about Ron Santo’s continued exclusion by a group -
the Veteran’s Committee – so up in their own shit that they will never
find anyone good enough for inclusion in their sacred circle.
But I do want to comment that the process by which voters employ their
votes sucks. It’s flawed. It’s imperfect. It’s arbitrary.
Read why it sucks after the jump.
I know, I know. The Hall of Fame is, by its very nature, subjective,
and therefore lends itself to arbitrary choices (like Jim Rice being
elected because it is his last year on the ballot, and Andre Dawson
not being elected for the obverse reason). Bruce Miles put together
a great article on the imperfect process – which he describes as
perfectly imperfect or imperfectly perfect (I’ll just stick with
“imperfect”) – and the problem struck me.
The Hall itself sets no minimum statistical standards,
other than that a player must have been in the big leagues for 10
years. Who knows? Maybe in a few years, the player capsules that
accompany the ballot will include things such as VORP, win shares,
WARP, OPS, OPS+, equivalent average and the like.
There are other variables here, too. The BBWAA has allowed a couple of
writers from Baseball Prospectus, the esteemed stats bible and Web
site, into the association. Guys like new member Will Carroll have
pushed a lot of us to consider advanced stats more. Other writers,
however, want to stick with their old-school stats and the “eye test.”
I wish more would come around to sabermetrics, but that will happen
over time, too. Or at least I hope so. But even so, there are some
writers who are using Andre Dawson’s .323 OBP against
The problem with the process is very same debate that rages in the
Cublogoverse, on message boards, and in front offices: stats versus
scouting. Sure, stats are part of the equation for all voters for Hall
entry, but many – who undoubtedly fall on the “scouting” side of
things – want lay their final decision at the feet of the “eye test.”
Well, of course someone like me is going to find that to be
unbelievably flawed: you think I ever saw Ron Santo play? Maybe it’s
wise in that regard that most of the voters are… um… older.
But even still, the “eye test” is painfully arbitrary, because the
writers who vote, for the most part, were/are regional. They covered a
team, a league. Sure, they saw other players (though likely a whole
lot less than we do now, given the advent of Sportscenter and its
ilk), but equally? Of course not.
That’s why stats are so important. They level the playing field when
we couldn’t see the whole playing field. Of course some writers are
using Dawson’s .323 OBP against him. Why shouldn’t they? Do we really
expect all voters to have seen enough of EVERY player’s plate
appearances to make an “eye test” determination about whether or not
he was one of the most disciplined hitters in history, or whether he
was just pretty good?
Stats versus scouting. It pops up everywhere. And right now, it’s
making the Hall of Fame voting suck.