Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Today's Voting

Goose Gossage was finally elected to the Hall of Fame! Good job; I think for a while voters were only looking at his save totals (310), which were overshadowed by more recent pitchers who got their saves only pitching one inning at a time. Gossage was possibly the most feared pitcher of his day and had a remarkable number of long saves:
In his career, Gossage had 193 saves of more than one inning, 126 saves of two-plus innings and 25 saves of three-plus innings. He earned a three-inning save in his final major-league appearance.
While they ultimately let the right guys in most of the time, I don't quite understand the rationale behind the year-to-year changes in the BBWAA voting. Gossage didn't pitch an inning between 2003, when he appeared on 42.1% of the ballots, and today, when he more than doubled that to win induction to the HOF. If he's a Hall of Famer now, then he was a Hall of Famer eight years ago when he was first eligible. A certain amount of changes in opinion over time are to be expected, but the changes from year to year are vast.

One guy whose vote totals didn't change, though, was Mark McGwire. I have to wonder if something of the boost Jim Rice and Andre Dawson got this year was the recognition that they performed their slugging feats in the days before steroids.

BONUS: Googling "Gossage moustache" got me to the MLB Facial Hair Hall of Fame.

2 Comments:

At Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at 1:36:00 AM PST, Anonymous Victor said...

Couple of likely reasons for the swings from year-to-year:

(1) The strength of the eligible fields each year. When Gossage got 42 percent, who else was eligible?;

(2) Because there's a sense that being a "first-ballot" Hall-of-Famer is an extra-special honor, for la creme de la creme de la creme de la creme, writers often wait a year or three (or more negatively, deliberately withhold first-year ballots as punishments, as in the McGwire case)

 
At Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at 6:42:00 AM PST, Blogger Adam Villani said...

You're probably right, but it's still a little weird. (1) There's room for up to 10 players on each writer's ballot; it's not like anybody was voting for 10 other qualified guys and just couldn't find room for Gossage. It's more like some writers self-impose limits each year.

(2) I don't agree with that, but I can understand it. In that case, though, I'd expect to see more second-tier HOFers make it in around their second or third year of eligibility, rather than their 9th year, which was the case for Gossage.

I guess what's up is that there's a certain amount of dialogue going on with sportswriters. Each year they write columns arguing for the inclusion of several players, and I guess some people just take a lot of convincing. Personally if I had a vote, I'd do a lot of homework the first year a player appears on the ballot and be more sure of my votes from day one.

What's odd about McGwire's voting is that he didn't receive a boost in his second year, which is what I had expected, him being a player whose numbers probably warrant Hall inclusion but whose character is called into question. I think that if he comes clean and admits that he juiced, he'll make it into the Hall in a few years. But it then opens the door wide to the issue of how to judge his numbers. Instead of suspicion holding him down, there's just the legitimate question of how dominant should a steroid-using player really have to be in order to qualify for the Hall. I think Rafael Palmeiro is definitely on the wrong side of that line, but I'm not sure about McGwire.

 

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