Hall of Fame project follow-up

It’s been an incredible week around here. For anyone just happening by, on Monday evening, I posted a voter-determined list of the 50 best baseball players not in the Hall of Fame. Since then, ESPN.com and Baseball Think Factory have linked to the story, and I’ve been deluged with comments and emails. I’m stoked to see the project having such an impact, and I want to thank everyone who voted and everyone who’s had a kind word to say.

I want to do a brief follow-up to address some questions that have arisen since publication. After that, I’ll offer a brief look at where I see this thing going in 2011. As mentioned before, there will definitely be another one of these projects.

First, the questions:

Why aren’t there any old-timers here? A few people have commented about the near total absence of 19th century ballplayers, save for Bill Dahlen. Pete Browning was involved in a four-way tie for 49th place with Dave Concepcion, David Cone, and Billy Pierce, though Concepcion and Cone won out in a run-off. I have mixed feelings. While I was bummed to see Browning fall, he was one of the few pre-1900 ballplayers I had on my personal ballot save for Dahlen, Bobby Mathews, Deacon Phillippe, George Van Haltren, and Deacon White. I simply didn’t think the skill level was as high back then. I also think a lot of us voted based on our personal biases, on the players we’d seen and the ones closest to our hearts. I don’t think that’s egregious for a Hall of Fame-related vote.

Why wasn’t there a ranking system? It would have complicated an already intense project. Originally, I was going to ask for 100 players, but I cut it down to 50, partly because I needed votes in under two weeks, and I felt 100 was asking too much. I also thought it was too much to ask people to determine rankings. I’d also say that a ranking system creates inequity, since a 50-point vote, say for first place, could counteract a ton of lower scores. I like all votes counting equally.

Players not on the ballot: The list of notables now stands at Eric Davis, Bob Johnson, Darryl Kile, Kevin Mitchell, Camilo Pascual, Vic Power, Double Duty Radcliffe, and J.R. Richard, plus all the write-in players. I invite anyone to tell me who else I missed.

Where do we go from here? I think this was an awesome debut for this project, but clearly, there’s plenty to improve on. First off, I plan to start the 2011 voting a lot sooner. I have this crazy idea to kick things off at the upcoming Society for American Baseball Research convention, in Los Angeles next July and stump for votes all weekend. We’ll still shoot for a December results post, but my idea is to allow more time for a stronger return rate on ballots and to get more people voting. The more people that vote, the fewer the ties, the better the rankings. Also, I’d like to get former players voting. If anyone has ideas on how to go about this, I’m game.

Thanks again to everyone who participated!

10 Replies to “Hall of Fame project follow-up”

  1. Once again, it was a pleasure to be included in voting for the ball players I believe should be considered for induction into sports grandest and most hallowed of all the Halls of Fame.

    I hope to be able to continue to speak the voice of the fan.

  2. Great effort, Graham. A couple ideas for ya.

    I agree that ranking the players would be too difficult for many voters. But one thing you could add would be to have each voter indicate where their cutoff line for the Hall of Fame is. Some voters would only want to see a player or two added to the HOF; others would recommend all 50; most voters would fall somewhere in between. In other words, you’d be asking each voter to make an in-or-out decision for each player on his 50-man list.

    Another thing you could do that would approximate a ranking would be to have each voter group their ballot into decades, five groups of ten players each. Would this be so difficult? Each voter would say, “Here are my top 10 for the HOF; here are my next ten” and so on.

    One more thing I would recommend is that you shouldn’t even include the 19th century or Negro league players. These are special areas of study; most voters in the just-completed balloting here showed they are dismissive of these players. The Hall of Fame itself treats these groups in the same way. So I would recommend you set them aside and only consider MLB players that debuted in 1890 or later.

  3. Graham, sorry to pester you on this… but I’m still hoping to see the vote totals from the run-off election amongst browning, pierce, cone & concepcion (i think i got that right). Thanks!

  4. Thanks for the run-off vote totals!
    Also, I think Daniel G may be on to something regarding separating by time period, though I’m not sure if it really would work out… And I must disagree with his suggestion of leaving (earlier) 19th century and Negro League players off the ballot.

  5. Jack Morris was not just a good pitcher in the 80’s he was the winningest in the AL. He pitched in three great world series in which his team got there on Jack being a workhorse. He did not like the press much of the time which has hurt him. He should be in your top ten….along with Lou and Tram. Tell the NL fans about this guy!

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