Five Hall of Fame Injustices Since 2000 (and Other HOF Tidbits)

It’s official – Roberto Alomar will enter the Hall of Fame as a Toronto Blue Jay.  The HOF made the announcement yesterday, making Alomar the first man to wear the Jay on his plaque in Cooperstown.  Good news all around.

Robbie’s induction also rights a wrong from 2010 when he was inexplicably denied entry on his first attempt.  Much has been written, here and elsewhere, about the zaniness and lunacy of many HOF voters, but at the end of the day the voters are generally right in the end.  It might take a while (15 years for Jim Rice, 14 for Bert Blyleven), but if the player gets in, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Yesterday morning Dustin Parkes of The Score’s baseball blog “Getting Blanked” posted an excellent article concerning the Hall of Fame voters, somewhat echoing my sentiments above.  I highly recommend checking it out.

After reading it, though I agree that reason often wins out in the end, I was still interested in identifying cases where reason stumbled on the way to its eventual victory. 

Since 2000, 187 different players have appeared on the HOF ballot, but only 20 men have been elected.  Half of those elected were first ballot Hall of Famers – Dave Winfield, Kirby Puckett, Ozzie Smith, Eddie Murray, Paul Molitor, Dennis Eckersley, Wade Boggs, Cal Ripken, Tony Gwynn, and Rickey Henderson.  Were voters “correct” in leaving 167 men out, and did they excercise “proper reasoning” when voting the 20 men in?

Here are my five biggest Hall of Fame injustices since 2000:

1. Cal Ripken Jr. was NOT voted in unanimously.

In 2007 both Ripken and Gwynn were elected on their first ballot.  But somehow Ripken was denied the honour of becoming the first unanimously elected player in history. 

Considering that not even Babe Ruth or Ty Cobb received maximum votes it might not seem like such an outrage.  But one can rationalize why those legends lost votes by citing the “character clause” in HOF voting guidelines, which states:

“Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contribution to the team(s) on which the player played.”

Ruth may have alienated many with the way he left New York, and with his boorish behaviour.  Cobb was a scoundrel and racist, hated by many on his own team. 

But Ripken?  He single-handedly saved baseball in 1995 after the strike.  He was beloved by fans and writers in ALL cities.  He was a Rookie of the Year winner, two-time MVP, 19-time All-Star, 8-time Silver Slugger, 2-time Gold Glover, and holder of one of the most hallowed and unbreakable records of all time. 

Yet eight writers thought he wasn’t worthy of the Hall of Fame.

2. 28 voters decided NOT to vote for Rickey Henderson.

Like Ripken, Henderson was also a first ballot HOFer.  With his cocky attitude, and his “I held on too long” final few seasons, nobody thought he would be unanimous.  But he was voted in with 94.8% of the vote, meaning 28 voters didn’t put an X beside his name.  For a man who is baseball’s all time leader in runs scored and stolen bases, has a career 113.1 WAR, went to 10 All-Star games, won an MVP award, and won two World Series titles, that just isn’t right.

3. Roberto Alomar was NOT a first ballot Hall of Famer

This has been beaten to death by many, including me, but Alomar deserved induction last year.  The voters got it right in 2011, but one year too late.

4. Alan Trammell is still out – a LONG way out.

Before I say more, let me clarify something.  I do not like Alan Trammell.  I hated him passionately as a kid, along with Lou Whitaker, Tony Phillips, and the rest of Tigers of the late ’80’s.  So I will not be joining or starting a Bert Blyleven-esque campaign to get him elected.

But I do think he deserves to be there, and here’s why: he put up numbers fairly close to three other dynamic SS of his era – two first ballot HOFers (Cal Ripken, Ozzie Smith), and one likely to be inducted next year (Barry Larkin).

Seriously, have a look:

WAR – 66.9 (better than Smith, 2 points behind Larkin)

HR – 185 (way higher than Smith, 13 behind Larkin)

Average – .285 (higher than Ripken and Smith)

OPS – .767 (higher than Smith, barely behind Ripken)

Hits – 2,365 (more than Larkin, just behind Smith)

RBI – 1,003 (only behind Ripken)

Sure he only made 6 All-Star appearances (Larkin – 12, Smith – 15, Ripken – 19), but his 4 Gold Gloves are more than Larkin and Ripken, he finished in the top-5 of MVP voting once (as did Larkin and Smith), and he won the same number of World Series titles as the other three (1).

The only number that isn’t at all similar is his HOF vote percentage and years on the balot:

Ripken – 1 year, 98.5%

Smith – 1 year, 91.7%

Larkin – 2 years, 51.6% and 62.1%

Trammell – 10 years, as low as 13.4% in 2007, and as high as 24.3% this year

Doesn’t seem right…

5. Tony Fernandez receives only 4 (!) votes in 2007.

Don’t get me wrong.  I never expected Tony Fernandez to make the Hall of  Fame.  And if I didn’t admittedly have a man-crush on him I likely wouldn’t care how many votes he got.  But four votes?  Seriously?

Tony’s .288 career average is higher than Cal Ripken’s and Ozzie Smith’s.  He had 1.05 hits per game played in his career, about the same ratio as Larkin and Ripken.  He was a 5-time All-Star, 4-time Gold Glove winner, made 5 playoff apperances, and won a World Series.  He also holds the MLB record for most RBI by a SS in a World Series with 9 in 1993.

Yet he received only 4 votes, which is the same amount or fewer than Marquis Grissom, Hal Morris, Jack McDowell, Darryl Kile, Lance Parrish, Charlie Hough, and Kent Hrbek received during their time on the ballot.

Come on.

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Quick HOF tidbit. 

Since 2000, 25 players who suited up for the Blue Jays at one point in their careers have appeared on the HOF ballot.  Here is the breakdown of how well they fared with the voters:

Elected on First Ballot – 3

– Dave Winfield (2001 – 84.5%)

– Paul Molitor (2004 – 87.2%)

– Rickey Henderson (2009 – 94.8%)

Elected on Second Ballot – 1

– Roberto Alomar (2011 – 90.0%)

Still on Ballot – 2

– Jack Morris (53.5% in 2011)

– Fred McGriff (17.9% in 2011)

Not Elected – 19

– Dave Parker (reached 15 year maximum)

– Tom Henke (1.2% in 2001)

– Dave Stewart (4.9% in 2002)

– Joe Carter (3.8% in 2004)

– Dave Stieb (1.4% in 2004)

– Jimmy Key (0.6% in 2004)

– Cecil Fielder (0.2% in 2004)

– Tom Candiotti (0.4% in 2005)

– Otis Nixon (0% in 2005)

– Jose Canseco (1.1% in 2007)

– Tony Fernandez (0.7% in 2007)

– Devon White (0% in 2007)

– Todd Stottlemyre (0.2% in 2008)

– David Cone (3.9% in 2009)

– Pat Hentgen (0.2% in 2010)

– Al Leiter (0.7% in 2011)

– John Olerud (0.7% in 2011)

– Benito Santiago (0.2% in 2011)

– Raul Mondesi (0% in 2011)

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