How well do the players on the Golden Era ballot stack up to Hall of Fame standards?
The Hall of Fame's Golden Era ballot has been out since November 3, offering 10 familiar names from the 1947-1972 era for Cooperstown consideration. This isn't the Veterans Committee anymore; when last year's reforms were announced, the words "Veterans Committee" were conspicuously omitted from all press releases. Rather, it's the second of three Era Committees to get its turn at bat, following last year's Expansion Era Committee, which voted on players from the 1973-1989 period and managers, umpires, and executives from 1973 to the present. Theoretically, next year’s panel will consider candidates from the Pre-Integration period (1871-1946), but the Hall has changed the rules so often lately that all bets are off.
There is no rationale for denying Jim Thome entry to the Hall of Fame, unless you are playing a very irresponsible game.
Jim Thome hit home runs number 599 and 600 last night, in the process raising his season’s rates to .254/.359/.497, very nice numbers for a 40-year-old in any season. The big round number will probably cue another recapitulation by handwringing Hall of Fame voters mooing that Thome should not be a Hall of Famer, or isn’t a Hall of Famer to them, or some variation thereof. It’s silly stuff on any level, particularly given the wide variance in standards the BBWAA voters have shown over time, never mind the various Veterans Committees. If the Writers could conceptualize Rabbit Maranville, Luis Aparicio, and Tony Perez as Hall of Famers, then it doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to come up with a definition of Hall of Famer that applies to Thome, unless you’re playing politics of an entirely misplaced kind.
The knocks on Thome will be his lack of black ink and major award hardware, as well as the era in which he played. He didn't win an MVP award, and correctly so—look at his season by season WARP: In a big offensive era, he was often outgunned by other players (ironically, for some recalcitrant voters who will tar Thome with the brush of the steroids era just by dint of his having played through it, the fact that he did not ascend quite the same heights as some of his contemporaries should serve as a kind of negative proof that Thome himself was clean). In his long career, he had only four seasons in which he finished in the top 10 in WARP, and was only twice in the top five, in 1996, when he finished fourth, and in 2002, when he was a close second to Alex Rodriguez. The MVP voters chose Miguel Tejada that year. Thome hit .304/.445/.677 with 52 home runs to Tejada’s .308/.354/.508 and 34, but the latter was a shortstop on an A’s team that won 103 games, while Thome was a first baseman on an also-ran Indians club.
Because Thome so rarely led the league (he does have the 2003 NL home-run title to his credit, as well as three seasons leading the AL in walks) but was more often just “there,” he will be dismissed as a decent player, somewhat short of stardom, who simply hung around for long enough to put up big numbers. Yet, while the term "compiler" is often uttered with disdain by Cooperstown aficionados, I don't accept the stigma. In baseball, longevity is an accomplishment in itself, but Thome has been no mere Ancient Mariner (to invoke either Coleridge or Diego Segui, whichever you prefer) hanging balefully around the banquet, not a Bob Hope doing unfunny television specials into his late 80s, but a solid producer throughout. That is a different kind of accomplishment than dominating a league and winning the big awards, but it's an accomplishment nonetheless in a league in which most players flame out by their early 30s.
Jay recaps the careers of the soon-to-be-HOF-inducted Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven.
The Hall of Fame induction weekend is upon us, and while I've taken issue with the way the institution is treating this year's recipients of the Frick, Spink, and O'Neil awards, I'm particularly excited to see this year’s class of BBWAA and Expansion Era Committee choices—Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, and Pat Gillick—honored. Having watched both Alomar and Blyleven excel with multiple teams over the years, it was both a privilege and a labor of love to advocate their election to Cooperstown.
As Mariano Rivera leaves his 1,000th appearance behind, see how he stacks up according to Nate's standards.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
Before Goose Gossage got into the Hall of Fame and Mariano Rivera reeled off another six superb seasons, Nate turned his statistical eye on the bullpen in the following article, which originally ran as a "Lies, Damned Lies" column on January 6, 2005.
The former first baseman talks about his days in the big leagues, the Hall of Fame, and most importantly his commitment to Wolfram Syndrome.
To many fans, J.T. Snow is remembered as the slick-fielding San Francisco Giants first baseman who had to scoop up three-year-old batboy Darren Baker from harm’s way in the 2002 World Series. Eight years later, the now-retired six-time Gold Glove winner is committed to a far more important cause: helping children suffering from a rare disease called Wolfram Syndrome. Snow, who hit .268/.357/.427, with 189 home runs over 15 big-league seasons, shared his thoughts on a variety of subjects, including the importance of defense, steroids and the Hall of Fame, and athletes as role models. His foundation, The Snowman Fund, is named for himself and his late father, former Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Jack Snow.
The current career saves leader has left the building and ought to head to Cooperstown, but who else deserves to join him?
No sooner had Trevor Hoffmanannounced his retirement on Tuesday than the questions as to his Hall of Fame worthiness came into the conversation. With only five relievers already enshrined in Cooperstown, the ranks of the elected would appear to have plenty of room for the all-time saves leader, but then the same thing might have been said about Lee Smith a few years ago, and he has yet to crack the 50 percent threshold in his nine years on the ballot.
Two men finally get their due in Cooperstown, while several other qualified players are locked out.
Our long national nightmare is over. On Wednesday at 2 p.m., the National Baseball Hall of Fame opened its doors to Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven, two overwhelmingly qualified candidates who missed gaining entry from the BBWAA last year by a combined 13 votes. Both cleared the mandatory 75 percent threshold with room to spare, with Alomar drawing 90 percent of the record 581 votes cast during his second year on the ballot, and Blyleven garnering 79.7 percent in his 14th year of eligibility. They'll join Pat Gillick on the dais in Cooperstown, New York on July 24.
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One left fielder on this year's Hall of Fame ballot clearly deserves induction.
Among the 19 holdovers on the Baseball Writers Association of America's 2011 Hall of Fame ballot, no player clears the JAWS standard at his position by a higher margin than Tim Raines—not Bert Blyleven, not Barry Larkin, and not Roberto Alomar, all of whom the system shows as being more than worthy of election. During his 23-year major league career, Raines combined the virtues of a keen batting eye, dazzling speed and all-around athleticism with a cerebral approach that made him an electrifying performer and a dangerous offensive weapon.
Looking at players from two defensive positions on this year's Hall of Fame ballot.
Like ballotmate Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin and Alan Trammell are overwhelmingly qualified for the Hall of Fame, but didn't gain entry last year. Larkin made a strong showing in his first year on the ballot, one which suggests he'll reach Cooperstown sooner or later, while Trammell continued to receive a puzzling lack of support and watched his odds of election grow even longer. Today, we'll use JAWS to re-examine their Hall of Fame cases, and with just a week until the ballot results are announced, we'll also take a brief look at the backstops on the ballot—catching up, if you will.
A look at the first basemen on this year's Hall of Fame ballot.
Having kicked off this year's JAWS series with the starting pitchers, today we turn our attention to the first basemen, a slate which includes the ballot's best newcomer as well as its most controversial first-timer, and a few holdovers who aren't going anywhere for entirely different reasons.
Bert Blyleven, in his final year of eligibility, makes his last stand for Cooperstown.
It's fair to say that in these quarters, the 2011 Hall of Fame ballot is the most hotly anticipated one in the eight seasons since I began covering the Cooperstown beat for Baseball Prospectus. That's because when the 2010 ballot results were announced back on January 6, Bert Blyleven fell just five votes short of enshrinement, receiving 74.2 percent of the necessary 75 percent. As disappointing as his close-but-no-cigar showing in his 13th year on the ballot might have been, Blyleven's tally represented a significant surge from the 62.7 percent he received the year before. After a long, hard climb from his having receiving less than 20 percent in each of his first three years on the ballot, his election is so close that the pitcher and all of those who have supported him over the years can practically taste it.