Math screws over Dick Allen and friends

Last time I posted, I wrote about the new Veterans Committee. Guess who got elected? Nobody. Joe Posnanski explains why.

Can we please take away HOF voting procedures away from the BBWAA? Please? I’m not saying that the HOF desperately needed all twelve men, or even four men. I’m saying that this constant rigging of voting procedures to produce no results so as to “protect” the “sanctity” of the Hall of “Fame” is bullshit. There are some seriously awful players in the HOF.

Two steps that will automatically fix a lot of the Hall’s problems.

— Remove the 10 candidate limit on the normal ballot; let people vote for 15 or even 20.

— If you send in a blank ballot, the BBWAA sends back a letter filled with profanity that kicks them out of the BBWAA.

To fix the Veterans’ Committee, it needs but a single step:

— Increase ballot sizes to at least half of the possible candidates.

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2 thoughts on “Math screws over Dick Allen and friends

  1. I don’t know that the Veterans Committee needs fixed as such when it doesn’t elect people. I agree that Dick Allen deserves to be in, but honestly, he’s the only one whose candidacy I could fully support; I would vote for Tiant as well but do not consider it a travesty that he did not get in this year. But I’d rather err on the side of the Veterans Committee not electing people than bringing in too many. I see the Veterans Committee acting as a way of bringing in undeserving snubs, and Allen would be a perfect example: he was snubbed because he was a grade-A jerk, especially to the reporters and writers who make up the BBWAA and who vote for the hall of fame. The Veterans Committee should be able to look at his record on the field, say that he really deserved to go in even though he rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, and rectify that mistake. But this is relatively rare…or at least will be unless/until players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens fall off (assuming that writers continue their protest against players associated with steroid use).

    Incidentally, on Tiant, his Baseball Reference WAR is below Smoltz (66.1 vs 66.5) as is his WAA (34.5 vs 38). Smoltz also has a higher career ERA+ (eyeballing it says both as a starter and combined with his relief time). I think the confusion is that you’re looking at Smoltz’s contributions strictly as a starter, without including his 3 1/2 seasons of relief work as well as that there are several different ways of calculating WAR and the way JAWS does it is slightly different. I’ll accept that they’re historically similar in terms of productivity, which was your core point.

  2. Michael Sullivan says:

    Tiant and Boyer have similarly strong cases to Allen by career value. Their WAR is higher, although Allen had a really impressive peak.

    Are these players being left out “travesties” the way that failing to elect a near inner-circle guy like Blyleven would have been? No. But all three are probably about as good or a little better than the average hall of famer. Not better than the worst — better than the *average*. So they don’t water down the hall at all. I would think/hope such players would count as really obvious selections.

    Minoso and Pierce can’t quite say that, but they aren’t far behind, and Minoso as an early barrier breaker has some reason to be considered outside of his pure baseball value. Even the rest who I wouldn’t vote for are all solid players that are *well* ahead of the really poor HOF selections, and would be ahead of about 1/4 to 1/3 of current enshrinees.

    Tiant vs. Smolz? I would take Smolz first too, but it’s not by a lot, and I think Smolz should be a slam dunk.

    In any case, the math is bad. The problem with limiting the ballot is that the more compelling candidates you have on your ballot, the *less* likely anyone is to be elected. Suppose this ballot had 10 candidates that every single voter considered to be a slam dunk HOFer that was an egregious miss by the BBWWAA.

    If the voters coordinate perfectly, they can only vote in 5. If they don’t coordinate at all, and the candidates are all pretty equal, the chances that they would elect *anyone* are only .5%, as Joe points out. It doesn’t matter how good those candidates are. You could have a ballot of Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Lou Gehrig, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Mike Schmidt, Tom Seaver and Stan Musial. If the voters don’t coordinate at all, there’s a good chance they elect: nobody. Or maybe one guy. Out of a list of 10 of the top 20-25 players of all time.

    It’s the math, it’s the format. Give them a ballot with the same goal (75%) but 10 ballot slots and all 10 of those guys are getting in. On this ballot? Of course not, maybe only 1 or 2 do, but we probably at least get 1 or 2, and if we got nobody, at least we would *know* that nobody had 75% of the committee who felt they belonged.

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