What I Look for in Hall of Fame Voting

To me Hall of Fame voting gets frustrating because seemingly everyone has a different standard. Worse yet, they believe everyone should adopt that standard. 

The first group are the “I know a Hall of Famer when I see him.”  I simply don’t get this one because what you see isn’t what everyone else sees. Seriously, we live in a world where Aaron Sele received a vote for the Hall of Fame. When someone tells me Aaron Sele is a Hall of Famer due to the eye test I’m out. 

The next is to compare players to the lowest common denominator. For example, there is a Hall of Fame catcher by the name of Rick Ferrell, who as far as I can tell, basically made the Hall of Fane because he caught a lot of games.  Long story short, if he and his 29.8 career WAR is your standard, we’re not debating if Mike Piazza belongs in the Hall of Fame. Instead, we’re debating if Tim McCarver belongs in the Hall of Fame. 

My favorite is the person who tries to compare players at different positions. Personally, I call this the Don Mattingly defense because that’s where I’ve heard it most often. I’ll hear something like Mattingly had 222 homers while Kirby Puckett only had 207. If Puckett gets in, why can’t Mattingly?  The answer is simple having a Gold Glove CF who averages 19 homers is a lot more valuable than a Gold Glove first baseman that averages 20. 

Personally, I have no hard set rule. I will say that when analyzing a player’s candidacy for the Hall of Fame, I like to look towards what does the average Hall of Famer look like at that position. It’s not the end all and be all, but it’s a nice place to start. If after looking at that you’re short of that average threshold, there are other things I like to consider. 

First is postseason success. If you’ve had real success in the postseason, you should get a bump. Every year, the goal is to win a World Series. If you consistently did something to help your team’s chances, you deserve credit for that. 

The next is whether there was something truly great about you. Ozzie Smith wasn’t a great hitter, but he was amazing with the glove. On the flip side, Ryne Sandberg wasn’t a great fielder, but he hit the most ever homeruns by a second baseman when he retired. Being truly great at something and/or being the best ever at something should improve your Hall of Fame chances. 

Lastly, I do look at stuff like steroids. I won’t play a guessing game on who did and who didn’t. However, if there’s concrete, actual evidence, I’m not voting for that person. No, I don’t mean a Murray Chase accusation, I’m talking about something that could be substantiated. 
Overall, I get to cast my first IBWAA ballot this year, and I’m looking forward to it. I’m sure over time I will learn some things and adapt. I will do a small write-up on whoever is on my ballot.