Hall of Fame needs to revise its voting

Tom Usher

January 10, 2014

It’s time for a serious tweak in the Hall of Fame voting.

This year’s Hall of Fame welcomed Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas. All three of those required very little thought from anyone who had a ballot from the Baseball Writers Association of America. Although it was baffling that 16 of 571 voters left Maddux off their ballot.

Apparently to 16 voters, Maddux’s 355 wins and career 3.16 ERA weren’t good enough to reach the Hall in his first year on the ballot.

My problem with the voting isn’t who got in. It’s who was left off.

In order to be elected to the Hall, the former player has to have 75 percent of the vote from the baseball writers.

Last year no players were elected.

This year Craig Biggio and his career 3,060 hits received 74.8 percent of the votes, just shy of election. Biggio also had 291 home runs and 414 stolen bases. Apparently, he’s not worthy.

Biggio will probably get in next year, but it’s not like he will add to his hit total over the next 12 months.

And what about Jack Morris?

In his 15th and final year on the regular ballot, he received only 61.5 percent of the votes.

It was, “Sorry Jack, your 254 wins, three World Series championships and a 2.96 ERA over the three World Series weren’t good enough.”

The only knock on Morris was his 3.90 career ERA, but to me, he and Curt Schilling were the models of the term “big-game pitcher.”

Another worthy candidate is Alan Trammell, who hit .285, had four Gold Gloves and was the MVP of the 1984 World Series. Trammell, in his 13th year on the ballot, only received 20.8 percent of the vote.

Then, there’s Fred “The Crime Dog” McGriff, who hit .284 with 493 home runs and 1,550 RBIs. Sorry Fred, you only got 11.7 percent of the vote.

Big Lee Smith is also deserving of the Hall. He ranks third all-time in saves with 478 and led the league in saves four times. He also had 1,251 strikeouts in 1,289 innings. Smith ended up with only 29.9 percent of the vote.

I understand that the voters are holding players to a high standard. It’s the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Pretty Good.

But the problem is that the Hall is filled with players not nearly as deserving as many left out. We can start with the 1908 Cubs double-play combination of Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance. Truth be told, the group wasn’t that exceptional, defensively, and certainly weren’t the top hitters of their era.

The three were pushed through by the dubious efforts of the 1946 Veterans Committee.

The job of the voters is certainly more difficult now than ever before.

In the thinking process, one has to consider what to do with the performance enhancing drug players (cheaters) such as Barry Bonds (see the book, Game of Shadows), Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro.

In this year’s voting, Clemens received 35.4 percent of the vote, while Bonds got 34.7. McGwire slipped back to 11 percent, while Sosa was at 7.2. Palmeiro is now off the ballot after dropping under 5 percent (4.4).

The cheaters are facing an uphill battle for Cooperstown, which is the way it should be.

Keep the cheaters out. They may have the numbers, but their plaques will never appear in the Cooperstown gallery.

One way to help the voting process would be to add more credible voters, with a certain weight given to each of group of voters.

All MLB broadcasters, with 10 years experience, would be added to the list of the baseball writers who vote. This group’s vote would be counted as 50 percent of the total vote.

All current Hall of Famers would also receive a vote. This group’s vote would be given 25 percent of the vote.

Then, assemble a board of about 50 veteran baseball scouts, scouting directors and general managers to have a vote. This group would also be given 25 percent of the vote.

There’s no perfect way to fix the Hall of Fame voting.

But there has to be a better way of opening the door to those who are truly deserving.