The Hall of Fame Voting

Today the Baseball Writers Association voted two players into the Hall of Fame: Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg. Both are well deserving players, but there’s two others that I felt were snubbed. For whatever reason, Bert Blyleven and Alan Trammell haven’t got the traction that they should have by now, and I really don’t understand why. Well, given that these are baseball writers voting, nothing ever really surprises me, but let me state their cases, and you can be the judge.

Bert Blyleven (1970-1992)
Career PRAR: 1496
Career WARP3: 139.3
Career Strikeouts: 3701 (5th All-Time)
Career ERA+: 118
Complete Games: 242
Shutouts: 60 (9th All-Time)

Given that Blyleven, if he’s ever voted in, would become one of the better pitchers enshrined in the Hall, the lack of attention just mystifies me. One of the only knocks on Bert is his 250 losses, but that in no way makes Blyleven a worse pitcher. It’s not really his fault that he played on really bad teams during his tenure. All a pitcher can control when on the mound is himself; he cannot control how many runs his team scores, or how effective his bullpen is, or how good the defense behind him is. To not vote for Blyleven based on his career record is asinine. And that’s what about 60% of the voters did this year.

Only eight pitchers have more shutouts than Blyleven: Walter Johnson, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Christy Mathewson, Cy Young, Eddie Plank, Warren Spahn, Nolan Ryan, and Tom Seaver. All of them are in the Hall of Fame. The next THIRTEEN pitchers on the list are in the Hall of Fame.

Only four pitchers have more strikeouts than Blyleven: Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, and Steve Carlton. All are Hall of Famers or certain Hall of Famers. The next NINE pitchers on the list are in the Hall of Fame or a certain Hall of Famer (Greg Maddux).

I’ve yet to hear a cogent argument why Blyleven should not be in the Hall, yet the voters keep leaving him off their ballots.

Allen Trammell (1977-1996)
Career BRAR: 422
Career FRAR: 460
Career WARP3: 114.2
Career OPS+: 110

During his career, Trammell was one of the best shortstops in the game. He finished in the MVP voting thrice, finishing second in 1987. He won four Gold Gloves. In an era where an offensive shortstop wasn’t commonplace, Trammell was a true offensive weapon. He won a championship with the Tigers in 1984, and was the World Series MVP, so the “winning” arguments some use against Blyleven don’t apply to him. I guess the fact that not only do the voters not vote him in, but leave him off so many ballots altogether bugs me the most; Trammel only appeared on 16.9% of the ballots, and writers may vote for ten players each year. Trammell’s double play partner, Lou Whitaker, dropped off the ballot in his first year of eligibility, which to me smacks of an unintended consequence of some writers not believing Whitaker a “first-ballot Hall of Famer”, thus leaving him off their ballots. Yes, Whitaker failed to receive 5% of the vote.

Yes, I’d rather the Hall of Fame keep its standards high, so that marginal players don’t sneak in; lowering the percentage for induction is not a solution. But by the same token, when (in my estimation) no-brainers continually get shut out, I start to wonder whether some voters really take their votes seriously.

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