By: Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder
While members of the media across the country cast their Hall of Fame votes as members of the BBWAA, the writers at Totally Tigers did the same as accredited members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA).
The BBA asked all of their members to vote for 10 players. Well, isn’t it about time someone asked us? Talk about a long time comin’!
Our writers were sure to have different methods in deciding who those 10 players should be. So let’s see the rationale applied to how they voted.
Describe your thoughts and process as you voted for this year’s Hall of Fame inductees.
Holly – Although Kurt and I aren’t members of the BBWAA (not yet!), I was honored to be able to vote through the BBA. And I took it very seriously and spent a lot of time selecting my 10 candidates, unlike rumored certain members of the BBWAA.
I also didn’t realize just how hard and time-consuming this process is. Given that the players enshrined are the top “less than 1%”, I often felt as if I had to pick a favorite child which made me push to ensure I wasn’t leaving the most qualified candidates off the final list.
My evaluation system had layers to it. I just didn’t look at stats – I looked at 6 different mediums to give me a more complete picture of each player. They included the eye test, old and new statistical measurements and historical information and context.
The first thing I did was to read the Mission Statement for selection which referred to considering the “character, integrity and sportsmanship” to how the game was played on the field. In support of those sentences, you therefore cannot vote in players with PED issues.
Evidence of PED use is not as murky as some writers would have you believe. I looked for multiple pieces of proof – legal testimony, before-and-after pictures of players that showed unnatural body changes, injury reports that demonstrated damage directly characteristic of PED use, yearly stat charts that showed a noticeable change in performance pattern as well as significant increases of power/dominance that contrasted with ageing issues – and of course, the players named in the Mitchell Report.
There were quite a few athletes who had multiple documentation of PED use and I selected none of them. Take away the Mission Statement, the morals issue and the “but he was a star before he took them” excuse and you’ve still got players who would get in with inflated and illegal stats that would skew history and be a slap in the face to players who did it legally.
We were given 2 sets of bios, one of them the official set sent by the BBWAA, as a first consideration point. In addition to PED users being eliminated, I looked for outstanding and unique stats and awards. I eliminated the “compilers” (guys who have long resumes which are due more to years played and overall consistently good but not excellent play) and the ones who earned team awards and not ones based almost exclusively upon their own performance.
Some stats are much more important than others. Certain offensive stats (ex: most doubles or triples in a year), All-Star selections and World Series teams are not as important because they include factors of where the candidate played, the batting order, how strong the overall team was, fan preference and timely circumstance.
I weighed the individual awards – Cy Young, MVP, etc. – much more heavily because they show where that player ranked in all of baseball for that time and by the people most qualified to select them. I also considered the bigger picture of yearly totals of HRs, RBIs, and BA/OBP/SLG/OPS as a group and not separately.
I looked to see where they each were in the running for major awards – regularity and how close they were to the top in the voting process. When you do that, you see how players rank among their peers and discover how yearly listings don’t tell the whole story. And I’m calling out writers who didn’t explore the snub behind the AL 1987 MVP voting as one example and wrote off a certain SS because he didn’t have that award – officially.
I also took an individual’s career stats and went into the Hall of Fame to see where they would land. And I considered both offensive and defensive numbers because the Hall is about being the total package, not just someone who was a slugging dynamo.
And I used WAR. I have a love-hate relationship with this tool and never use it alone. It can give you further insight into a player when used in combination with other criteria. In this case, WAR is tremendously helpful because it allows you to compare a current day player with one who played decades, even a century, ago.
But a player has to pass the eye test and you have to think “star” when you see him play. When you’re considering the top “less than 1%”, you have to separate the very best who ever played the game from the “excellent at times” and the “very good and consistent” performers.
In case you are wondering, I did check the box for Alan Trammell and not because I’m a Tiger fan. I compared him to his competition, I looked at his place in history and I investigated where he would sit historically among SSs in the Hall of Fame using both old and new stats.
He ranks well above Jeter (experts already have him there), Larkin, and Cronin, his nearest well-known competitors, when you use a combo of old and new stats. Did you know that Tram, using WAR, would rank between 6th and 8th of shortstops currently in the Hall of Fame? In the period between WWII and 1995 (PED timeline), Tram would rank as the third best SS after Ripken and Ozzie Smith.
What a shame our votes don’t count.
Kurt – My first thoughts during the process were not unlike being thrust into a voting booth, the curtain shut closed behind me and there was the ballot and I had to pick 10 candidates for office.
So I took the task very seriously, but made sure I had fun with it all at the same time, knowing deep down that my vote wouldn’t count.
For me, it was difficult to pick 10, but that was the requirement. I thought it was best to break the voting into 4 chunks, all the while considering where they ranked among their peers in the most important categories.
The first chunk was a necessary move made to make the process easier. So I eliminated the players that to me either had no shot or their careers really did not resonate with me. This list sadly included Brad Ausmus. I know, try to compose yourself.
The second chunk consisted of players that without fail could easily be voted in. They were not just the best at their positions; they were some of the best players to have played the game. At the very least, they were the upper crust. Heading that list of course was Ken Griffey, no surprise to anyone.
The third chunk was the easiest and consisted of one player. Who was it? That’s right; you better believe it was Alan Trammell. He got my vote in his last shot. Was I partial to Trammell as a Tiger fan? Yep. Do I feel the BBWAA has been negligent in not recognizing him all these years? Absolutely.
The fourth chunk consisted of players who demonstrated immense talent their entire careers. They are slam dunks for the Hall of Fame and should be in already if not for their dark clouds, the dark clouds of PEDs.
It has been very important that these players be treated differently in how they were judged. Their misdeeds are part of their story and their punishments are warranted. But they are still Hall of Fame stories. So Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGuire all get in on my ballot.
This exercise was not about sharing our list, but I decided to give you a sneak peek into who was included. I must admit though that I needed to include 2 players I would not have chosen, to get to 10. It was difficult to say the least.