In the aftermath of the Hall of Fame voting, it is fair to say that the system works, but it doesn’t hurt to look at alternatives to make the voting better.
There is no perfect voting system, and for the most part, the Baseball Writers Association of America got the vote right when they elected Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas. All three were on the ballot for the first time.
Maddux (who appeared on 97.2 percent of the ballots) and Glavine (91.3 percent) were part of the Atlanta Braves’ rotation in the 1990s that was arguably the best in history.
Thomas was a power-hitting first baseman known for his on-base percentage. Thomas, who had 83.7 percent of the vote, was a two-time AL MVP.
The BBWAA’s biggest mistake was not electing Craig Biggio, a 3,000-hit guy, on his second chance. Biggio missed by two votes.
If Biggio had made it, it would have been the first time since 1955 that four players were elected - Joe DiMaggio, Gabby Hartnett, Dazzy Vance and Ted Lyons. As it is, this is the first time since 1999 (George Brett, Robin Yount and Nolan Ryan) that the writers have elected three players.
And, given that the three players will go in with managers Tony La Russa, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox, the July 27 induction ceremony will have plenty of speeches.
Here’s why the system works: The writers elected three players, but missed on Craig Biggio. While there is still confusion on the PED guys, the voting percentage for the PED guys such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens went down. Time will lead every one to the right decision on those guys. The writers took 15 years to consider pitcher Jack Morris, and he didn’t get in. I don’t agree, but what else can be done? Writers indicate they need more time to think about Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell. No problem with that.
Could the system be better? Of course, but who knows what the solution is? Is it adding more broadcasters and former players? Should more internet analysts be allowed to vote, even though they don’t attend as many games as the BBWAA members? Commissioner Bud Selig and Hall of Fame executives should check out other solutions to see if there is an alternative way.
Now, other thoughts about the results:
* Pitcher Jack Morris, who was a huge asset to three teams that won the World Series - the 1984 Tigers, the 1991 Twins and the 1992 Blue Jays, didn’t make Cooperstown on his 15th and final time on the ballot, which means that he won’t be eligible until the Expansion Era Committee takes up his candidacy in 2016. Morris’ vote total is a victory for sabermetrics voters who weren’t impressed with his 3.90 ERA, which would have been the highest in Hall history had he been elected. Gil Hodges is the only player to have more than 60 percent of the vote total and not make the Hall of Fame.
* If Morris doesn’t make the Hall of Fame via the BBWAA, what does that mean for two other pitchers, Curt Schilling and Andy Pettitte? Morris, Pettitte and Schilling are similar in that their career statistics don’t overwhelm, but they came up big in the postseason. Schilling, who finished second in Cy Young voting three times, had 216 wins, 3,116 strikeouts and a 3.46 ERA, but a 2.23 ERA in 12 postseason series. Pettitte had 256 wins and a 3.85 ERA and went 19-11 with a 3.81 ERA in the postseason. Not every Hall candidate makes the postseason, but the postseason is what every fan remembers. It should be a big part of consideration for a player making the Hall.
* It is difficult to understand why voter Ken Gurnick, who covers the Dodgers for MLB.com, voted for only Morris on his ballot. Gurnick said that he wouldn’t vote for anyone in the PED Era. His ballot raises these questions: How is that era defined? Why does he hold all clean players accountable while trying to punish the players who he thought were taking steroids? Does this mean that Gurnick will not vote Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera when they become eligible? And assuming the PED Era started in the late 1980s when admitted users Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco played, wouldn’t Morris have been in the so-called PED Era, given that Morris played from 1977 through 1994?
* The players allegedly tied to PEDs - Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire - are the biggest problems when it comes to the logjam on the ballot, and that’s why the BBWAA is going to look at revising the rule that limits voters to select a maximum 10 players on the ballot. However, if those players had been elected by now, there would be no problem with the 10-player limit on the ballot, and there were be legitimate debate about Edgar Martinez, Lee Smith, Tim Raines, Jeff Kent and Fred McGriff. All are strong candidates, but lost support because of the 10-vote limit.
* It wasn’t right that Palmeiro fell off the ballot because he had less than 5 percent of the vote. Palmeiro, one of four players to have 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, is controversial candidate because of his positive PED test, but he deserved more time on the ballot to consider his case.
* There’s still no clear-cut direction the 500-plus writers are going with the players linked to steroids. Voters who support Clemens and Bonds say they don’t want to be morality judges and police the sport. Given there is no smoking-gun evidence, they will continue to vote for Clemens and Bonds. Other voters say that it would be a travesty to have Clemens and Bonds on the same stage as guys like Tom Seaver, Johnny Bench and Henry Aaron.
* There are a lot of good players that aren’t gaining traction on the ballot, and the biggest omission is shortstop Alan Trammell. Trammell defined the Tigers in the 1980s and is the AL version of Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin, who played for the Cincinnati Reds and was elected in his third year. Trammell was a strong defensive shortstop, a team leader and a player who had 2,365 hits. If that isn’t a Hall of Famer, I don’t know what is. I feel as if every time I see Trammell, I have to apologize.
* Does next year’s ballot have three slam-dunks with Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz all becoming eligible for the first time? The answer is yes.