Schmidt: Proposing new way to elect Hall of Famers - Sports Illustrated

Schmidt: Proposing new way to elect Hall of Famers

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Congratulations to new Hall of Fame members Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven. I'm sure we'll hear plenty about their road to Cooperstown over the next few months.

I think this is an opportune time to look at the voting system. Let's focus on Jeff Bagwell. Many would say he should've gotten in. He received barely over 40 percent of the votes.

That's right, 40 percent.

What is the deal with these voters? Bagwell has Hall of Fame numbers, which I'll show you, and will be voted in eventually. So why does he become more of a Hall of Famer over time? He won't get another home run or RBI in the next few years.

Bagwell received 41.7 percent of the vote on his first try. Was there an omission of his name on half of the ballots? Do the voters like you more as your hair turns gray? Is he being penalized for some reason? Oh yes, that's right, the Steroid Era, and Bagwell was a pretty pumped-up dude. Couldn't have been workouts and weights ... had to be 'roids!

Explain this to me. Jim Rice is a Hall of Famer, right? He's not an eighth ballot or 10th ballot member, he's a member. I chose Jim to compare careers with Bagwell and here's what I got. Both have an MVP, both were in the top 10 in MVP voting six times, both made their share of All-Star teams.

Here's the telling numbers: Jim Rice, a Hall of Famer over 16 seasons, averaged 30 home runs and 109 RBIs in his prime and had a lifetime .298 average. Jeff Bagwell, over 15 seasons, averaged 36 home runs and 115 RBIs in his prime and had a .297 lifetime average. These career numbers are nearly identical.

Here's another morsel to chew upon: Bagwell and Rice each drove in 100 runs eight times.

Again, 41.7 percent of the vote. Are these writers/voters serious?

Now, compare my stats to both Bagwell and Rice - not much different, except my lifetime batting average was .267. Yes, a few more RBIs and a couple Gold Gloves, but not enough for me to go first ballot with more than 96 percent while Rice, and it looks like Bagwell, had to sweat.

By the way, Rice and Bagwell each played for one team. And one more, Bagwell played in the Astrodome for a few years, which had to cost a few home runs.

As a Hall member, yes, I am a bit of an exclusivist. Most of us would like to shut the doors and keep it all to ourselves. We want it to be even harder to get in, wouldn't you? We also want the voting to be fair. This old, archaic system of making players wait when their careers parallel current member's careers is crazy.

Instead, imagine a Hall system where the current voters pick the top 10 finalists each year. Those 10 are then examined by a committee made up of Hall members - meaning studied by men who played the game. Our committee votes and any finalist who receives a set percentage becomes a Hall of Famer. Anyone on the list who misses stays on the ballot for a second year - if he fails election, he's removed, never to return.

If this system were in place, Bagwell's numbers would not be ignored, as is the case with several others.

This may not be the answer. As we know, change and baseball are like oil and water. Bagwell is not the first to get the ultimate snub.

What about Bert Blyleven? Deep down inside do you think he's saying to himself, "What makes me more of a Hall of Famer now than I was 14 years ago?"

No big deal, Bert. Ralph Kiner waited 13 elections, Duke Snider 11, Tony Perez nine, Don Drysdale 10 and Bruce Sutter 13. You're in good company, and they even put your plaque in the same room. You'll see, it will be worth the wait.

It's too bad you had to wait for your worth.