Steve Perrault: Everything Wrong with Voting for Baseball Hall of Fame

As you may know, the 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame was announced last week, and there were no players selected from this year’s ballot. The closest ballplayer to entering the Hall was Astros longtime second baseman Craig Biggio with 68.2% of the vote (75% is needed to enter). This raises questions about the motives of the voters for the Baseball Hall of Fame, as we could be heading down a long awkward journey over the next decade if this process continues.

While there are several questions that can be asked of the Hall of Fame voters, also known as the BBWAA (or Baseball Writers’ Association of America), these following questions best represent potential confusion among baseball fans following this year’s zero entrants into the Hall.

Will “steroid using” players get into the Hall of Fame, or will the writers just make them wait as a form of punishment?

This is the obvious elephant in the room here. While presumed performance enhancer users Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were first timers to the ballot this year, other steroid suspects Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa have already felt the pain brought on by voters in the past. These alleged steroid users’ entrance onto the ballot and the inevitable awkwardness it would create with the BBWAA and fans across the country is finally among us in full force and it is too hard to turn a blind eye to this situation.

The first argument associated with why steroid users should be allowed into the Hall centers around the statistics that they did, and would have put up without performance enhancers. While there is no way to specifically determine what these stats would have been, baseball writers can surely tell the raw talent that a player has and judge for themselves what results that talent would have brought those players.

Then you ask yourself whether these alleged steroid users players will ever be voted into the Hall or if their exemption in their initial years on the ballot is a result of some form of punishment by the BBWAA. While this punishment theory may be true, it seems to be unnecessary and comes across as a cheap way for these writers to get back at players that they think tainted an era of the game.

While it may be a tough scale to use, alleged steroid users should be voted into the Hall of Fame if voters could determine the extent of the advantage each specific player received from using performance enhancers. If the writers can acknowledge this method as the best way to handle the situation, then players that deserve to make it into the Hall will finally get the recognition they deserve, and those who are not voted in will understand why based on the immense advantage they gained from steroid use.

Will writers assume that players who didn’t have any accusation of steroid use were actually clean? If so why didn’t those players receive more votes on this year’s ballot?

This question tails off of the previous example so I will keep it brief. Based on the results of this year’s Hall of Fame voting it is clear that players like Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, and Jeff Bagwell took a big hit in their vote totals due to playing in the same era as alleged steroid users, even when on the surface there was no evidence for use of PEDs among named players. This is another area where the BBWAA needs to come to a conclusion, and fast, because if these players truly did not take PEDs then why are they being punished as if they did? The system is clearly flawed, but this is one aspect of the voting process that doesn’t seem to make much sense.

Do “solid” stats over a long career deserve you a spot in the Hall of Fame? And should you have to be a consistent top 5-10 player in the league for a period of time to make it into the Hall of Fame?

Both of these questions are solely centered around top vote receiver Craig Biggio. While Biggio is best known for his 3,000 plus hits, that number just isn’t anywhere near as impressive when you take a closer look at how he got there. Looking back at his career, Biggio only had four seasons in which his batting average eclipsed the .300 mark. He had a combined batting average of .259 in his final 6 seasons in the majors (the seasons that he essentially stuck around for to reach the 3,000 hit mark). And he also was never considered a top 5 player in Major League Baseball at any point in his 20-year career. Now, for those who think 3,000 plus hits should automatically get you into the Hall, how can you justify this after looking closer at the statistics? He simply doesn’t deserve to be named one of the greatest players of all time. Biggio can be easily summarized as a player that had the Brett Favre-syndrome; being someone who stuck around for too long just to break some records. I don’t think that should earn you a spot in Cooperstown.

Wild Card Question: Why does a player get voted into the Hall of Fame on their 15th (and final) appearance on the ballot?

While no last time inductee was elected to the Hall of Fame this year, this has happened in the past and always confuses me. Why should a player that is on the ballot for a 15thyear make it into the Hall of Fame? What has changed in the past 15 years that you, as a baseball writer, think to yourself, “Yea, this guy definitely deserves to make it, why didn’t I vote for him in the past decade and a half?” You want to know why? Because he doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, that’s why. To limit this silly BBWAA unwritten rule of electing players in their last go around, your time on the ballot as a player should be limited to a 8-year maximum. I don’t see why it should take longer than 8 years to determine if a player deserves to be in the Hall of Fame or not. Heck, I don’t see why the writers would need more than 5 years to decide, but, then again, the BBWAA has shown no sign of being logical as of yet, so why think anything different for future Hall of Fame voting.

Steve Perrault is a swell guy. Find his writing here and follow him on Twitter @perrault1

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