Story, not just numbers, often determines Hall chances
Sportswriters have a saying: we don't root for teams, we root for the story. And since sportswriters decide on most of the inductees for the Baseball Hall of Fame, it is important to keep that in mind. Most elections, for better or worse, are about the story.
Sure, some players are no-brainers:
And that doesn't mean he isn't worthy. Dawson was, by definition, a borderline candidate (he was elected on his ninth try) and he needed something to get him over that border.
Let's change two things about Alomar's career. Neither is relevant to the kind of player he was when it really mattered. For one, let's imagine that he never spit at umpire
Alomar would have finished with a .306 batting average, .378 on-base percentage and .455 slugging. Compare that to Hall of Famer
It might seem silly to compare a second baseman to a centerfielder, especially since one of them got in the Hall nine years ago and the other one was on the ballot for the first time this year.
Puckett was a great player who won two World Series while playing his entire career with Minnesota. He was forced to retire shortly after his 35th birthday because of eye problems, even though he was still highly productive.
So Puckett got in rather easily even though he only hit 207 home runs, a low number for a Hall of Fame outfielder, and did not walk a whole lot. The voters clearly gave Puckett the benefit of the doubt -- he had been the smiling face of the Twins, and they assumed his numbers would have been better if he kept playing.
I'm not saying this is right or wrong; I loved watching Puckett and I don't mind him being in the Hall of Fame. I'm just saying that I don't think voters gave it a second thought. When Puckett appeared on the ballot, his story had already been written, and it included the words Hall of Famer.
And how do they decide? They look at the story.
When writers talk about how many MVP votes a player got, that's not a real stat: all they are doing is trying to quantify the story. An MVP vote, after all, is just somebody's opinion from a long time ago.
If Roberto Alomar had stayed healthy his final years and finished with 3,000 hits (he ended up with 2,724) would he have had a markedly better career? Probably not. But I can promise you he would have been elected this year.
I think a lot of voters didn't even consider Martinez because he rarely picked up a glove. The sentiment is understandable. But if they refuse to vote for
Like it or not, the DH has been part of baseball for more than 30 years. If there is one thing that every voter agrees on -- and it might be the only thing -- it's this: the tougher your defensive position, the lower the offensive threshold for making the Hall of Fame. In other words: Corner outfielders have to hit a lot more home runs to get to Cooperstown than shortstops do.
The DH should be treated for what it is: by far the easiest position, and therefore the one with the highest offensive threshold. Martinez was one of the five best hitters in baseball in his extended prime. I think that makes him a Hall of Famer.
And that is when his story changed. Some people looked at Blyleven's numbers and realized that he had been much better in his prime than anybody gave him credit for, then or now. The fact that he had pitched for lousy teams suddenly became a
Blyleven's story, today, is that he was woefully unappreciated in his era. You will see him as a Hall of Famer if you look at him from the right angle. He didn't get in Wednesday, but he did get 74.2 percent of the vote, just shy of the 75 percent required for induction. He'll be on the ballot two more years and should get in.
Want more examples? Suppose you are a general manager and you have a choice between two shortstops.
Player A will put up a career OPS+ of 87 (remember, 100 is the league average). He will never hit more than six home runs in a season and only bat .300 once. But he is a breathtaking defensive player.
Player B will put up a career OPS+ of 110. In his best six-year stretch, he will hit .303 with a .366 on-base-percentage and .467 slugging percentage, in a pitchers era, while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense.
Player A will finish with 100 more hits -- in more than 1,000 more at-bats and twice as many stolen bases. But Player B will dominate almost every other category.
If you are a general manager, you choose Player B, right? And that would mean choosing
Yet when Smith and Trammell were eligible for the first time, in 2002, Ozzie got 92 percent of the vote and Trammell got 15.7 percent.
Why? Well, Smith is widely considered the best defensive shortstop ever, which arguably makes him the best defensive
I should probably point out here that I have not been in the Baseball Writers Association of America long enough to have a Hall of Fame vote; at this point, I'm merely an observer.
Like the rest of you, I have been told that Cooperstown does not house the Hall of Numbers or Hall of Very Good; it is the Hall of Fame. That, like so much about the process, sounds definitive but really isn't.
Is it for players who had fame, or players who