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Monday, April 27, 2015

The Hall of Fame flaw

The Hall of Fame for any sport is considered as the end goal for most professional athletes. This honor justifies everything that the player had to sacrifice during his career, the time put in, the sleepless night preparing for the season.
This is why the Hall of Fame is so important to every sport, but for Baseball it's not just voting on who is the best of the best, no it's something much more than that. Unlike any other sport Baseball's current system for voting in players and the tactics used by the voters is astounding, almost cult like in how they go about it. But it's this mentality that is killing the Hall of Fame process.

I'll get more into the tactics of the voting members later in this piece but let's just look at some of the facts about the Hall of Fame. Currently we have 571 registered voters for the Baseball Hall of Fame, and each voter can vote for up to ten players every ballot. Players become eligible for the Hall of Fame five years after they retire and can remain on the ballot for up to 15 years. If a player is named in 75% of the ballots he is elected to the Hall of Fame. Now just looking at how the voting is setup we can start pointing out flaws in their logic.

The current 571 registered voters are all former or current baseball writers, some of which do keep tabs on most players around the league, but the majority all work for a specific team or organization as a beat writer. Meaning that the majority of the voters probably didn't even cover or pay much attention to the majority of the players on the ballot, this also means that the opinion they will have of the player is most likely based on what the main stream press said about him. This creates problems for players who didn't play in large markets like L.A. or New York, or had their success overshadowed by playing on a poor team (Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson). When the Hall of Fame first opened there was only 130 registered voters, all of which were voted on and were deemed to be well qualified for the job. Cutting their current voter number in half would be a good start for Major League Baseball, making it more of an honor to have a vote would also mean the voter would have to really take the time and study the candidates.

But why do the voters only get to choose up to ten players? We hear it every year from big name writers like Buster Olney, Ken Rosenthal that they had to leave multiple players off of their ballot because of this restriction. This rule was originally made to truly make the Baseball Hall of Fame the hardest to get in to in professional sports. With only.08% of players to ever play the game making it to the Hall of Fame. But this creates a backlog of players since some very worthy candidates are forced to either wait 10-15 years to make the Hall of Fame or simply don't make it. We've seen this build up for the past five years with the ballot now filled with so many worthy candidates that some like Mike Mussina, Fred McGriff are getting the short end of the stick. The rule should simply be vote for AS MANY players you deem worthy of the Hall of Fame.

All of this can be fixed, but what can' be fixed and is the biggest issue with the Hall of Fame voting is the tactics that some voters have when it comes to using their votes. Since you are only allowed to vote for ten players, and some players like Randy Johnson or Pedro Martinez are going to get in
on the first ballot some voters will intentionally not vote for those players so they don't waste the vote. Instead they vote for a fringe player, basically it becomes a strategic ballot instead of a ballot voting for the best players on it. Also most voters don't take advantage of being able to vote for ten players, with the average number of players on each ballot around 6.5. This hurts players like Edgar Martinez and Tim Raines by not giving them enough votes to ever make the Hall of Fame and for players like Carlos Delgado not even enough votes to remain on the ballot.

So we have too many eligible voters, to stingy of rules on how many can make the Hall, and even with that even stingier voters that choose to only vote their way. A culture change is needed in Baseball to correct this voting process, but Baseball has always been stead fast in it's belief that holding on to the past is best. This means expecting any changes to the voting process to be imminent would be a silly thought, it will take major public outcry when a player gets screwed out of the Hall of Fame. No Baseball wants to see that, but they also don't want things to remain the way they are. But thanks to this new generation of fan and some of the changes we've already seen Baseball make to catch up with the times (Instant Replay) maybe there is still hope for change in the future.


  1. Hey, Justin! I really like your blog post. I like how you incorporated a lot of photos to supplement the information you gave us. I think the additional media component made it a lot easier for the reader to follow, kind of like a magazine. Interesting topic, definitely something to think about. I like your choice of words throughout your blog post, it was a particularly 'colorful' read. I found the part about the ballots intriguing. I think your argument is fair and I think you defended it well. Cool presentation!

  2. You chose an interesting topic and were engaging during your presentation. You seemed very educated on this topic and knew all of the rules about getting put into the Hall of Fame. I like how you took into consideration about the amount of votes you get (10), but many people feel like there are more players who deserve the votes. It is also interesting how you then said out of the people who vote, they only vote on about six players and are not using all 10 votes to their advantage. You had great facts and information in your presentation. Overall, you did a great job on your presentation!

  3. This is one of the most hilarious voting processes. I personally do not mind that voters are limited to only 10 votes. It's the Hall of Fame. It's not an inclusive club. If you are not part of the 10 best players on the eligible list, then sorry. Some suggestions I would make is you have to make voters vote for at least five players and any leftover votes could go to a different voter. They needed to standardize the amount of votes that are submitted each year. This would help.

  4. I really enjoyed your topic and presentation. I didn't really know anything about voting process to get into the Hall of Fame before, but your presentation explains the process really well. You also did a great job talking about where there are problems with this system.

  5. When i first saw your presentation I was really excited that someone would address this issue. This a huge issue today not only in baseball but in sports. I liked how you addressed that a person from the hall of fame posted on twitter asking people to tell him to vote. This is an issue and needs to be addressed by the MLB but unfortunately, with how slow baseball is compared to other sports, it will be a long time before anything gets done.


  6. Personally, I'm unaware how the voting process works for any Hall of Fame, so I would have liked to see some comparison. However, based on your presentation, I can certainly see how some great baseball players get the short end of the stick. I don't think limiting the voting to 10 players is the real issue. This is the Hall of Fame, after all. But I do think the number of registered voters is a bit excessive, and I can see how not all would take careful consideration.

  7. The voting process is flawed, and I'm glad you brought that to everyone's attention. It's something that people realize when they think about it, but they don't think about it on their own. Personally I like the suggestions you proposed, and I think baseball should consider implementing them at some point.