Monday, January 11, 2016

Predicting the Future of the Hall of Fame, 2017-2019

The 2016 Hall of Fame election is finally in the rearview mirror, with Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mike Piazza on the other side. Not joining them is a gaggle of similarly-qualified stars, though, and most of them (outside of Jim Edmonds, Mark McGwire, and Alan Trammell) will be back at this next year once again. Some of those qualified stars even came remarkably close this year, with Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Trevor Hoffman falling 15, 23, and 34 votes shy (respectively). So, let’s take this opportunity to look towards the future; where does the Hall of Fame vote go from here?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2016 Hall of Fame Ballot and 25 Best Players Not in the Hall

After a one-year hiatus, Graham Womack has returned to his 50 Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame project, and I have once again decided to contribute. One twist is that, this year, he had to trim his list down to just the 25 Best Players. I might still name a Top 50 to match years past, but for now, I’ll just go over my ballot for the top 25 and save the rest for another day. Once I do that, it shouldn’t be too difficult to whittle that down to my 10-person Hall list for 2016.

My methodology for my ballot was pretty straightforward. I used my past years’ ballots as starting points, saw how many openings I had, then decided what changes I needed. The top spots were easy to decide, and the only really difficult choices came down to the last four or five slots. As usual, I noted on Graham’s ballot that I’d vote for all of my choices for the real Hall of Fame, as all 25 easily clear the standards set forth by Cooperstown (as I’ve shown in the past, usually, the top 50 or so players not in the Hall are still as good as the median Hall of Famer, if not better, as the Hall includes far more than just the Willie Mayses as Babe Ruths of the game).

Since my last ballot on this matter, four players have gotten the call: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, and Joe Torre. That means I’ll need to cut at least 21 players to get to the appropriate number. How many newcomers do I have to account for? Certainly Ken Griffey, Jr., as there’s clearly no argument against him. Also Jim Edmonds; I can’t see any argument that he isn’t on of the 50 Best players not inducted yet, although we’ll need to see if he makes the top 25. I’m not sure I’d add Trevor Hoffman or Billy Wagner to the list, but they’d be in the conversation. My uncertainty stems more from how to treat the general position of relief pitcher (if we decided we need to elect some eligible reliever to Cooperstown right now, Hoffman and Wagner would be my choices 1 and 1A). So at least two of our open slots are filled.

Next, I need to whittle my rough, ~48-person list down to just 25. This seems like it might be a difficult task, but it winds up being easier than you might think. While the ballot itself never requires ranking, it would be a lie to say that I don’t consider some players on my list stronger candidates than others. I’ll start with the more “obvious” choices, as they generally take less explanation to get through.