Miscellaneous BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballots in Quotes
While there has been much discussion on these here intertubes about the BBWAA and who should and should not be admitted, the Hall of Fame is in no way affiliated with the organization other than, well, they always have been. The institution seems satisfied with its electorate, however. A smattering of direct quotes from a number of its voters who have publicly displayed their ballots follows.
I visualized aging Dodger Tommy John and his surgically repaired left elbow - the tendon graft now bears his name and is as common as a tonsillectomy - totally dominating the Phillies in Game 4 of the 1977 LCS. That was a night when Steve Carlton slipped, slid and failed on a rain-swept mound that John handled as if he were in Dodger Stadium on a hot Sunday afternoon. Suddenly, Tommy John and his 288 wins during a long, injury-interrupted career looked Cooperstownish. He won't get in; this is his 14th year on the ballot, but he has both my vote and appreciation for what he meant to a dying era of pitching and pitcher.
- Bill Conlin, The Philadelphia Daily News, depending on his personal recollection of Tommy John's footing one evening on a Veterans Stadium mound in throwing his support behind the southpaw.
Jim Rice, the most feared hitter of his time in the American League...
- Bill Kennedy, The Times of Trenton, evidencing the most tired of claims. Rice was so feared, that Managers intentionally walked him less than 48 other players between 1974 and 1989, the span of Rice's career.
The best new names on this year's ballot are Tim Raines and David Justice. Rice beats both.
- Dan Shaughnessy, The Boston Globe, commenting on Rice "beating" Tim Raines. Raines's career WARP3 number, an imperfect figure that does a quick and dirty job of measuring output adjusted for playing environment, bests Rice's by over 40 wins.
Managers thought about intentionally walking him when he came to the plate with the bases loaded.
- Shaughnessy on Rice in the same article, making the baseless claim while going a step further and even apparently ignoring Rice's career .782 OPS with the bases full.
Going primarily on what I saw, rather than mere numbers, I cast my annual votes for the best reliever of the era, Goose Gossage; the best starting pitcher, Jack Morris; and the best outfielder, Andre Dawson.
- Jim Alexander, The Press Enterprise. Of relievers who appeared in at least 400 games during Gossage's career span, Goose ranks 20th in ERA+. Of starters who started 400 games or more from 1977 to 1994, Morris ranks 8th in ERA+ out of 20 qualifiers. Of outfielders who had 7,000 plate appearances or more between 1976 and 1996, Dawson ranks 15th in OPS+ out of 21 qualifiers.
Enshrinement in Cooperstown shouldn't be about numbers. If anyone thinks so, let's trash tradition and have a computer select the honorees.
The Hall of Fame should be about who starred and who dominated. And about who made an impact.
- Jon Heyman, Sports Illustrated, before proceeding to cite number after number in evidencing his choices for the Hall.
The ace of three World Series teams, it's an abomination he may never get in.
- Heyman (from the same piece) emphatically supporting Jack Morris, while choosing to pass over Blyleven. In case you missed it, Morris has already been devastatingly discredited vis-a-vis Blyleven by our very own Rich Lederer.
The reason I am in that 10 percent is that I think he was perhaps the best all-around shortstop of his generation and an underrated piece of the Big Red Machine.
- Heyman, who is not voting for Alan Trammell, on Dave Concepcion. There are no words.
He was an MVP, an All-Star Game MVP, a two-time batting champion, a seven-time All-Star and a three-time Gold Glove winner.
- Heyman, who is not voting for Tim Raines, on Dave Parker. Again, speechless.
Sorry, Yankees fans, but when you break it down, there were four brilliant years (1984-87), two very good ones (1988-89) and two decent ones (1992-93), and not much else. No.
- Ken Davidoff of Newsday commenting without any sense for irony on Don Mattingly while touting Rice's candidacy in the same piece.
Rich ''Goose'' Gossage: The very definition of ''lights out'' closer, this intimidator is the equal of already enshrined firemen Bruce Sutter and Rollie Fingers.
- Don Bostom of The Morning Call on the candidacy rationale for Goose Gossage, who ranks 39th all time among relievers who have appeared in at least 400 games with a 126 ERA+. Amongst the same group, the "very definition of 'lights out' ranks 74th with a 7.47 K/9.
The biggest debates for me were Tim Raines, who obviously was overshadowed by Rickey Henderson, but also if you take Vince Coleman's five top years, I would say he outperformed Raines, too, and I don't see Coleman as a Hall of Famer.
- Tracy Ringolsby, The Rocky Mountain News
For those interested, I would vote for Gossage (his sustained excellence warrants it despite my comments above), Raines, Blyleven and Trammell. I make the points above to highlight that more is needed than throwaway lines, conjecture and memory to credit/discredit any one player's candidacy.
- Patrick Sullivan, 12/29/2007, 12:05 EST
With a hat tip to Baseball Think Factory for directing me there, the peerless Joe Posnanski chimes in with this stream of consciousness Blyleven-Morris comparison.
Hmm, so you’re telling me that Blyleven has 33 more wins, 32 more shutouts, 1,223 more strikeouts, 68 fewer walks, an ERA that more than a half run better, an ERA+ that’s 13 points better, a better overall postseason record and five or six individual seasons that were better than Jack Morris’ best season … wow, can I have a few more minutes to think about this? Wait, Blyleven had a lot more losses too, so that, oh, he played for worse teams, yeah, that might have had something do with that, um, hold on, I need to sharpen my No. 2 pencil and think about this …
He goes on to explain his main problem with certain individuals in the Morris camp.
No, I hate the campaign for the same reason that comedian Gary Gulman hates Pepperidge Farm cookies. “They’re a good cookie, but they’re so full of themselves with their names, they’re so bombastic, they’re like, ‘Oh, this is the Milano, and this is the Bordeaux, and the Geneva, and the Brussels cookie, and I’m like, ‘Wow, what a world traveler, where did I run into you again? Oh, that’s right. Target.’”
That’s how I feel about a few (not all) of the Morris Hall of Fame people. Just be humble. Don’t get in my face with your, “Jack Morris was the greatest pitcher of his era,” garbage. Hey, if you want to say, “Look, here’s a guy who had some longevity, he threw a lot of innings every year, he pitched one fabulous postseason game, and, hey, he did win 254 games in his career,” I could see the argument. I probably wouldn’t vote for him, no but I could see the argument.
Wrong, Joe. Morris's exclusion would be an abomination. Jon Heyman told me so.
- Patrick Sullivan, 12/29/2007, 11:41 AM EST
We have another Hall of Fame ballot posted publicly, this one from Gerry Fraley of The Sporting News. There were a few problematic items on his ballot but as these things go, his rationale was somewhat sound.
Except for this. What follows is Fraley's reasoning for leaving Tim Raines off of his ballot.
Raines' case was hurt by his reluctance to run in all situations, as Rickey Henderson did. Raines seemed at times too concerned about preserving his stolen-base percentage.
- Patrick Sullivan, 12/29/2007, 12:09 PM EST