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    Wednesday, December 7, 2022

    Fred McGriff Elected to Hall of Fame, and Other Results of the Veterans Committee Election

    On Sunday night, we got our first major announcement of the Hall of Fame election: the newest iteration of the Veterans Committee came together and unanimously selected Fred McGriff as the newest Hall of Famer.

    Firstly, I want to congratulate him on the accomplishment; a five-time All-Star and World Series champ, with 493 homers, 2490 hits, 441 doubles, and a 134 OPS+. His resume isn’t the kind that looks substantially underrated with more advanced stats, but I think he fits within Cooperstown comfortably (as I’ve written before), especially when you give him extra credit for things like postseason success or a memorable persona.

    Secondly, I’d like to note that the vote played out pretty much in line with my predictions. McGriff sailed in unanimously with 16 votes (12 were needed), and everyone else was varying degrees of far away; Don Mattingly finished with 8 votes, then Curt Schilling and Dale Murphy at 7 and 6, respectively. The rest of the ballot (Albert Belle, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Rafael Palmeiro) finished with under 4 votes each (although totals are not specified, below a certain cutoff point). And as someone with a pretty extensive history writing about the Hall’s voting procedures (and especially the Veterans Committee), I figured that I would add some context.

    I want to start with this: Fred McGriff is a good argument for the existence of a Veterans Committee. And I mean this in several ways; he’s a good player who might have been overlooked for not being as flashy. He’s exactly the kind of deep-cut star they exist to raise up, the prototypical VC selection.

    But in the less poetic sense, he’s one of the types of player who would fall through the obvious gaping holes in the Hall’s election process, since it is a bunch of stupid systems stacked on top of other stupid systems that can often whiff on anything outside of the easiest candidates. Sometimes, though, one of those backup stupid systems will by some miracle do what it was created to do and pick up slack for one of the earlier stupid systems.

    For example, people have, for years, been talking about how limiting the writers’ Hall ballot to only ten names in incredibly stupid. It turns what’s already a tough, subjective question (“Is Player X a Hall of Famer?”) into an even tougher and messier one (“Is Player X more of a Hall of Famer than Player Y?”). McGriff could honestly be the poster case for the problems here. Just look at his vote progression:

    Saturday, December 3, 2022

    Kicking Off the 2023 Hall of Fame Voting with the Veterans Committee!

    Now that I’ve gotten the announcement about Hot Corner Harbor’s new mailing list out of the way, it’s time to return to baseball. And the biggest upcoming news (here, at least) is the upcoming Veterans Committee announcement.

    That’s right: this Sunday, the Hall of Fame’s most complicated institution will once again convene and decide if they’ll be sending any players to the Cooperstown stage in 2023 to accompany… still to-be-determined (but probably Scott Rolen and maaaybe some combination of Billy Wagner, Todd Helton, or Carlos Beltran). The ballot is eight players this time, for some reason or other (maybe related to that bizarre rule change from back in April?). The best argument I can muster for that is that a smaller ballot would reduce the competition and might help cut down on the kind of vote splitting that likely kept Dick Allen out in 2022, except that the vote limit was also lowered from four names per voter to just three, so at least some of that benefit is being immediately lost.

    As usual, candidates will need 12 out of 16 votes to get elected to Cooperstown, with the voting body actually meeting to discuss things before they vote. We’ll see if they use that to try and match their votes up again (which is almost certainly why their last meeting produced so many inductees). Our eight nominees this time are:

    Albert Belle, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy, Rafael Palmeiro, Curt Schilling

    I’ve written about all of their cases here over the years (and most of them are even tagged appropriately, in the right-hand column of the site!), and given that none of them has played in a Major League game in the last fifteen years, their stats haven’t really changed. To give a quick summary, though: Belle and Mattingly probably fall a little short, McGriff and Murphy are right around where I tend to see as the Hall’s borderline (with McGriff just over it and Murphy probably just under it, but close enough that I wouldn’t be mad if he made it), and the other four all clearly over the line statistically but here for non-playing reasons (which I generally tend to view as less of a deal-breaker than most voters, although I also acknowledge it’s a complex subject that can vary player-to-player).

    The more interesting thing for Hall voting, especially on Veterans Committee ballots, where so many of the players have been so extensively covered, is to try and break down the various forces pushing them towards or away from induction. Momentum may only be as good as next day’s pitcher in-game, but it’s a very real phenomenon when it comes to Hall of Fame voting (among other factors).