There will be an endless number of blog articles telling you how they’ll be voting this Hall of Fame season, inspiring civil and uncivil debate across the internet. You’ll see people that wave the flag for Jack Morris, maybe one other for a “Small Hall” and that’s it, or you may see people stuff the ballot, struggling to figure which ten they want to be on their ballot they would like to see submitted for counting. You’ll get everything in between, every human being having their own reason, their own opinion on which players meet their Hall of Fame criteria. This article works to provide social media voters with the considerations and narratives we hear the more established journalists and internet writers have laid out in their work, past and present.
Big Hall or Small Hall?
Some people feel it’s necessary to load up the ballot because there are so many players so much better than the competitors of the past they feel the need to fill their ballot to their heart’s content. Other people believe the Hall of Fame should be saved for the elite of the elite, and so only a couple names will be written down. The narrative of the opponents of the Big Hall tends to be that these voters will let anybody in, while the anti-Small Hall crowd believes that there are worthy players being kept out.
My stance: If there is a player that has performed better than other HOF baseball players in the past, perhaps they should be voted in. That would make me a “Big Hall” guy in this day and age.
Steroids or No Steroids?
This one will take a lot of reading, and a lot of soul searching to mold your opinion. If you don’t do any reading or any soul searching and you hear the loudest voices screaming, chances are you’re going to be anti-PEDs. Even if you’re anti-PEDs, you have to decide how opposed you are: do you oppose convicted users, users that admitted after their playing career, suspected users, or players that played alongside users? You can imagine how sticky things can get, because if you’re inconsistent on these, your readership or set of followers will call you out on it. If you can defend your voting inconsistencies within a one-year ballot, very good, but if you’re saying Jeff Bagwell isn’t in because you think he used steroids, but Frank Thomas is in because you believe he’s all natural just because of what your gut is telling you, you’re going to run into some walls. Obviously, if PED-usage is not a concern for you because PED-usage has been around for a long time in some form, then you’re going to move on to just the debate of which player belongs.
My stance: Players that used steroids are not automatically off of my ballot.
What stat, or set of stats drives your opinions?
No matter what stat drives you, this sortable chart on Baseball Reference will help you out in forming an opinion. Let’s say you want to sort by pitcher wins:
Or home runs:
Baseball Reference doesn’t have to be a site for the more stat-heavy readership, although it is good to understand that voting solely on those numbers will hurt your case. Pitcher wins rely so much on run support, defense, and in these days, a competent bullpen, why would you only judge a pitcher on that? Or home runs, the people that dominate that list are outfielders and corner infielders, does that make other worthy middle infielders, relief pitchers, catchers, etc. unworthy?
My stats: Stats that level the playing field and give us a better idea of how players performed in their best years, and how they compare to current Hall of Famers. While I may not know specifically how JAWS is calculated, knowing also the average JAWS of the position a given player is up against (e.g., Roger Clemens‘ JAWS is 103.3, while other pitchers in the HOF average out — their Jpos — at 61.4) gives me some context. Seeing their peak WAR (WAR7) as well as their career WAR gives me an idea of how valuable they were. These serve as a huge starting point for me.
Also, be careful to use Cy Young, MVP, or All Star Game votes as your rationale:
@BillPetti “Other people evaluated him improperly, and that’s evidence enough for me.”
— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) December 26, 2013
How do you know those journalists in the past were correct in their evaluations? That is a big thinking point for people that use award voting as rationale.
Once you’ve taken the time to do all this, now you’re ready to be a better voter! Do you have other categories that you consider when you create your HOF posts or tweets? Let me know in comments below!