Cooperstown: Fall of Fame

The MLB Hall of Fame, becoming more irrelevant each year, has some pretty sketchy decisions in its past, present, and future. There are 234 players in the Hall, not all of whom belong. Then there’s thousands of players NOT in the Hall, some of whom do belong.

The Baseball Writer’s Association of America (BBWA),which votes for the candidates, has been hypocritical at best and malevolently manipulative at worst. The Hall’s motto, “Preserving History, Honoring Excellence, Connecting Generations,” has been all but lost.

The writers have actively shaped history through selective-journalism. They have gone all self-righteous in the crusade against PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs) in the 90s and 00s, for sure. Yet, in the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s they purposefully ignored the widespread use of amphetamines. To be fair, amphetamines are meds that increased skill on the field, not performance-enhancing drugs. And their use was so widespread that many clubhouses had literal bowls of these “greenies” out for the taking, like mints at a restaurant.

Amphetamines

Mints

Also, the “honoring excellence” portion has gotten hazy, as well. I’ll look at more of the specific cases one article at a time later, but Dave Winfield? Really? And yet there’s no room for Mark McGwire, Jeff Bagwell, or Edgar Martinez?

Lastly, the Hall has done little to connect generations. OPS+ is a marvelous stat that compares a player’s all-encompassing offensive stat, OPS, to the league average. The Hall has 145 non-pitchers with lower OPS+ than McGwire, 130 with lower than Bagwell, and 127 with lower than Martinez. OPS+, by definition, measures a player’s dominance over his peers. A universally accepted criteria for greatness is dominance over one’s peers, since no one really knows for sure how Rogers Hornsby would hit if he were a Dodger in 2011. Yet, writers are saying that the men they grew up with like Jim Rice (OPS 28% better than peers) and Tony Perez (OPS 22% better than peers) are a superior generation than ours with McGwire (62%), Bagwell (49%), and Martinez (47%). That is the opposite of connecting generations, if you ask me.

That, my friends, is a Hall of Fame swing.

Many writers will revert to statements like “you had to see him,” “he just seems like a HOFer,” or “he doesn’t quite have it.” What?! Talk about circular logic. Someone who “seems like a HOFer” will get elected to the Hall, thus perpetuating the notion that the players’ abilities are HOF-worthy, giving precedent for the next “seems like a HOFer” to, well, seem like a HOFer. What ever happened to that original “Honoring Excellence” bit? The stats show that Jeff Bagwell is more excellent than Tony Perez, or even Willie McCovey. If you want to claim that Jeff Bagwell is not HOF-worthy, fine, but you can’t then turn around and say one of those inferior players is worthy. Excellence is subjective; OPS+ is objective.

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