Disappointment over the Hall of Fame votingJanuary 12, 2009 at 4:46 pm | Posted in Baseball | 11 Comments
I’m sure that everyone has heard the news by now that Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice were elected to the Hall of Fame today. I am very happy about Rickey Henderson’s induction, and very disappointed by Jim Rice’s induction.
I am disappointed, however, that Henderson somehow only got 94.8% of the vote. I can make a very good argument that Henderson was the best player of his generation, and he’s unquestionably one of the greatest of all time. The 5.2% of the writers who did not vote for him are obviously clueless about who belongs in the Hall of Fame, and they should not be allowed to vote again. It’s that simple. If you don’t understand that Rickey Henderson is a Hall of Famer, there is no way that you should be voting. What really baffles me is that Tony Gwynn got 97.6% of the vote two years ago. Now, Gwynn is an obvious choice for the Hall too, but who in their right mind thinks that his credentials are better than Rickey Henderson?
Now, back to Rice. Here’s what I said about him when I wrote my Hall of Fame candidate analysis post last month:
“This is Rice’s last year on the ballot and he has a lot of writers supporting him. He almost got in last year and it may be likely that he’s voted in this year. But he doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall. I think the fact that he played for Boston, and the media has been glorifying Red Sox Bandwagnation in recent years, is what’s driving his support. Sure, Rice was one of the top offensive players in the A.L. between 1975 – 1979, and he had some great years in the mid-1980s, but like Mattingly, Murphy, and Parker, his peak was not long enough for him to get into the Hall. His main skill, and really his only great skill, was his power. Yet, Rice fell short of 400 home runs with 382. Yes, I know that offensive numbers were down in the late 1970s and 1980s, but I still expect Hall of Famers from that era to have 400 home runs if they’re going in as a power hitter. Dave Winfield and Andre Dawson hit over 400, and Reggie Jackson, Mike Schmidt, and Eddie Murray all hit 500 home runs in the same era. Even Dave Kingman hit 442, and he’s nowhere near the Hall of Fame. Rice is often compared to Hall of Famers like Orlando Cepeda and Tony Perez, but even those guys have weak Hall of Fame credentials. If you’re going into the Hall of Fame, your numbers should be comparable to some of the best Hall of Famers, not the weaker ones. Rice falls short, and he’ll lower the Hall of Fame standards if he gets in. Rice’s career stats can be seen here.”
So congratulations to Rice; he can now take his place next to Cepeda and Perez as Hall of Fame hitters with some of the weakest statistical credentials. Future candidates who really don’t belong in the Hall will be compared favorably to Rice. In a nut shell, the bar has been lowered. And that’s why I’m not happy about Rice’s induction.
I really don’t understand how writers who did not vote for Rice in most of his other 14 years on the ballot suddenly decided in recent years that he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. My best guess is that it was the constant lobbying by the arrogant Boston sports writers (who will ironically claim to you that Rice was not “well liked” by the media) and the glorification of everything having to do with the Boston Red Sox since they won the 2004 World Series. Red Sox fans who have been complaining for years about the favorable treatment that is given to the Yankees and their players now must face the reality that the Red Sox now essentially are the Yankees, and everything that they once hated about the Yankees is now true of the Red Sox.
Anyway, I would absolutely love to hear why anyone believes that Andre Dawson is less worthy of the Hall of Fame than Jim Rice. Dawson excelled at almost every facet of the game. He was a great fielder, great runner, and a great power hitter. Rice was only a great power hitter, and not even for a long enough time to reach 400 home runs. I also think that a Rice voter would have a difficult time not voting for Dave Parker or Dale Murphy, who had similar careers and also fall short of the Hall’s standards in my opinion.
And once again, 37.3% of the voters failed to vote for Bert Blyleven, and a staggering 82.6% missed the boat on voting for Alan Trammell. Blyleven’s place as one of the best pitchers in baseball since 1970 is so obvious to me that the title of “Hall of Famer” is degraded without his inclusion. And I really don’t understand how the voters can not include Trammell as one of the greatest offensive and defensive shortstops of all-time. His numbers compare favorably to just about every shortstop not named Ripken, Banks, or Wagner who is in the Hall.
Finally, I’m sad to see that David Cone only got 3.9% of the vote and now will drop off the ballot. Cone certainly isn’t an automatic Hall of Famer, but he’s worthy of a lot more consideration than he got. I maintain that with pitchers from the last 25 years, you have to look at a lot more than their number of wins. Cone was one of the best pitchers of his generation in my opinion, and I think that as the years go by, more people will start to realize that and they’ll wish that he was still on the ballot.
Let’s get ready to revive the debate again for 2010. Roberto Alomar and Barry Larkin should be easy choices for election in their first year of eligibility, and I’d like to see Fred McGriff become the second Tampa Bay player elected to the Hall, though probably not on the first ballot. And hopefully we’ll see more support for Dawson, Blyleven, and even Trammell.