Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Hall Of Very Good, 2013 Edition

So nobody got in to the Hall of Fame yesterday. Deacon White, umpire Hank O'Day and owner Jacob Ruppert will go in as Veterans Committee choices, but they are all long dead. The Bonds/Clemens/McGwire/Sosa/Palmeiro/etc group is entirely shut out. The media, inclined to have someone to celebrate and really rather hoping someone gets in every year, has gone apoplectic, calling it a black day for baseball that nobody was elected, howling that the statistics trump all, calling the Hall of Fame devalued for their absence, and calling for the balloting rules to be changed to start inducting people again.

If you ask the actual Hall of Famers, though, they couldn't be happier about the development. They, for the most part, don't want Bonds and Clemens to ever get in. Ever. Get out and stay out. In their minds, what they did would be devalued by their election. It would be final, irreversible proof that you can, with enough skill, cheat and it won't matter because you'll still be given the game's highest honor. You'll never be able to look kids in the eye and tell them not to roid up with a straight face again, because they'll just tell you that Bonds roided up and he's in Cooperstown. Had he gone in this year, they'd tell you Bonds roided up and he was a first-ballot Hall of Famer. What are you going to be able to say back to him?

So put it on their plaque, then, and tell the kids about their history, say those wishing to induct them. Seriously, tell me honestly: can you actually recite the words on the plaque of a single Hall of Famer? Can you tell me, without looking, what any of their plaques say? No. People know the names, people know the caps they're wearing on the plaques, and that's it. They have a plaque. They cheated and have been given the game's highest honor as a result of what they did while cheating. The end.

Sure. We knew in the 90's that some of these guys were juicing. We knew. We didn't want to admit it. We were weak back then. We were just coming off the strike. We just wanted baseball back and got seduced by big men hitting cartoonish home runs. We knew. We enabled. But that does not mean we must now compound our mistake. It doesn't mean you can't teach the history of baseball to your kids. Far from it. The kids are smart enough to know the names of non-Hall of Famers. You are free to tell them who's not there, and why they are not there.

Besides, this is not the first time controversial candidates have gone on the ballot prior to long, long stays outside the doors. Pete Rose, though he was banned in 1989, saw his votes counted in the 1992, 1993 and 1994 ballots. His high-water mark: 9.5% in 1992. The all-time hit king could not even crack double digits with the writers. Not only that, he only got three attempts at the ballot at all because the 5% rule hadn't been fully implemented yet. He got 3.3% in 1993, and 4.2% in 1994. Ban or no ban, the writers had made their choice, and made it emphatically.

As for Shoeless Joe Jackson, he saw two appearances on the ballot, in the original 1936 ballot and a 'nomination vote' in 1946, in a year the writers needed to do a runoff vote. Jackson is one of eight people on the 50-man baseball writers ballot to still not be in. He got two votes- but then, so did Edd Roush and Chief Bender and they both got in eventually. So did two of the three who didn't get any votes, Charlie Gehringer and Gabby Hartnett. (Deacon White made his only appearance that year on the Old-Timers Committee ballot, getting only one vote.) Jackson also got two votes, good for 1.0%, in 1946, in a 7-way tie for 43rd place on the ballot. The top 21 advanced to the runoff, which didn't elect anybody that year. (All were eventually inducted, and six of them got in that year anyway thanks to the Old-Timers Committee.)

This is not unprecedented. This is not the first time the baseball writers have carried out their wrath. And even if they do eventually get in- and that is not a when, that is an IF- the writers have a way of enforcing that character clause. Juan Marichal had to wait after his attack on Johnny Roseboro, until Roseboro himself came out and lent his support to Marichal's candidacy. Roberto Alomar was made to wait a year after he spit on umpire John Hirschbeck. The game is bigger than any one player. You can't act with impunity and expect a plaque with no repercussions just because you racked up big numbers. If it was all about numbers, a computer program could make the inductions. It's not. The character clause matters.

'But Ty Cobb got in and look how awful a person he was!' That was 1936. Ty Cobb was not the only person who thought like Ty Cobb in 1936. Three years later, Cap Anson got inducted and he was the guy who CONSTRUCTED the color barrier- which at that point had yet to come down. Are we really going to hold ourselves to the moral and societal standards of the 1930's?

With that, I present this year's edition of the Hall of Very Good- the high-water marks of players not yet in. I've taken the liberty this year of extending the list from a threshold of 2.0% down to 1.0%. (It's not going any further down, because you can see just how many people got added by adding that one single percent.) Candidates still on the ballot are bolded. Tim Raines, Jack Morris and Jeff Bagwell hit personal bests among returning candidates.

68.2 Craig Biggio
67.7 Jack Morris

60.1 Gil Hodges
59.6 Jeff Bagwell
57.8 Mike Piazza
52.2 Tim Raines
50.6 Lee Smith
47.3 Tony Oliva

43.1 Roger Maris
42.6 Steve Garvey
40.6 Maury Wills
40.0 Marty Marion
39.3 Harvey Kuenn
38.8 Curt Schilling
37.6 Roger Clemens
36.8 Alan Trammell
36.5 Edgar Martinez
36.2 Barry Bonds

35.9 Hank Gowdy
35.6 Phil Cavarretta
34.0 Johnny Sain
33.6 Allie Reynolds
31.7 Tommy John
30.9 Luis Tiant
29.8 Johnny Vander Meer
29.6 Jim Kaat
28.2 Don Mattingly
25.5 Ken Boyer
25.5 Mickey Lolich
25.4 Mel Harder
24.9 Mickey Vernon
24.5 Dave Parker
23.9 Fred McGriff
23.7 Bucky Walters
23.7 Mark McGwire
23.2 Dale Murphy
23.2 Lew Burdette
22.9 Larry Walker
22.2 Joe Torre
21.1 Minnie Minoso
20.7 Elston Howard
20.7 Tommy Henrich
19.9 Herman Long
18.9 Roy Face
18.5 Al Dark
18.0 Smoky Joe Wood
17.3 Pepper Martin
16.9 Dave Concepcion
16.7 Dick Allen
16.7 Lefty O'Doul
15.7 Vada Pinson
15.5 Thurman Munson
15.3 Don Newcombe
14.4 Ted Kluszewski
14.4 Walker Cooper
13.7 Babe Adams
13.5 Duffy Lewis
13.1 Sparky Lyle
12.8 Curt Flood
12.6 Rafael Palmeiro
12.5 Sammy Sosa

12.3 Don Larsen
11.7 Terry Moore
11.3 Dom DiMaggio
11.2 Orel Hershiser
10.8 Keith Hernandez
10.6 Bobby Bonds
10.4 Dwight Evans
10.2 Vic Raschi
10.0 Dickey Kerr
10.0 Jimmy Dykes
9.9 Johnny Kling
9.8 Charlie Grimm
9.6 Bernie Williams
9.5 Pete Rose
9.4 Bobo Newsom
9.0 Hal Chase
8.8 Jimmie Wilson
8.8 Ron Guidry
8.7 Vida Blue
8.3 Graig Nettles
8.3 Muddy Ruel
8.0 Lou Criger
7.9 Hank Bauer
7.9 Rusty Staub
7.7 Albert Belle
7.7 Bill Lange
7.7 Bob Boone
7.7 Harry Stovey
7.7 Jerry Denny
7.5 Nick Altrock
7.5 Tommy Bridges
7.4 Dave Stewart
7.0 Wilbur Wood
6.9 George Foster
6.7 Glenn Wright
6.5 Lon Warneke
6.5 Sal Maglie
6.4 Nap Rucker
6.2 Fernando Valenzuela
6.2 Paul Derringer
6.1 Charlie Keller
6.1 Harold Baines
6.0 Doc Cramer
6.0 Freddie Fitzsimmons
5.7 Babe Herman
5.7 Cy Williams
5.6 Dolf Luque
5.6 Joe Judge
5.5 Fred Lynn
5.3 Frankie Crosetti
5.2 Juan Gonzalez
5.2 Stuffy McInnis
5.0 Bob Meusel
5.0 Fred Hutchinson
5.0 Hal Schumacher
5.0 Rudy York
5.0 Schoolboy Rowe
5.0 Willie McGee
4.9 Art Nehf
4.9 Red Rolfe
4.9 Steve O'Neill
4.8 Jeff Reardon
4.8 Stan Hack
4.7 Ewell Blackwell
4.7 Ken Griffey Sr.
4.6 Bobby Thomson
4.6 John Franco
4.5 Bill Madlock
4.5 Eddie Rommel
4.5 Howard Ehmke
4.4 Wilbur Cooper
4.4 Will Clark
4.3 Al Oliver
4.2 Manny Mota
4.1 Andres Galarraga
4.1 Mark Grace
4.1 Wally Schang
3.9 David Cone
3.9 Del Crandall
3.8 Charlie Bennett
3.8 Dan Quisenberry
3.8 Earl Whitehill
3.8 Frank White
3.8 Joe Carter
3.8 Ross Barnes
3.8 Tim McCarver
3.7 Mark Belanger
3.7 Ted Simmons
3.6 Wes Ferrell
3.4 Jack Quinn
3.3 Dwight Gooden
3.2 Kenny Lofton
3.2 Carl Erskine
3.2 Dennis Martinez
3.2 Everett Scott
3.2 Fred Dunlap
3.1 Bert Campaneris
3.1 Fred Tenney
3.0 Birdie Tebbetts
3.0 Dixie Walker
3.0 Frank McCormick
3.0 Jimmy Archer
3.0 Joe Dugan
3.0 Mike Donlin
3.0 Pete Reiser
3.0 Spud Chandler
2.9 Lou Whitaker
2.8 Sandy Alomar Jr.
2.8 Dave McNally
2.8 Harvey Haddix
2.6 Bill Dinneen
2.6 Bobby Grich
2.6 Don Baylor
2.6 Harry Bracheen
2.6 Jack Glasscock
2.6 John Hiller
2.6 Ned Williamson
2.6 Orval Grove
2.5 Art Fletcher
2.5 Bill Bradley
2.5 Bill Carrigan
2.5 Charlie Root
2.5 George Earnshaw
2.5 Jim Abbott
2.5 Kirk Gibson
2.5 Larry Bowa
2.4 Bob O'Farrell
2.4 Clyde Milan
2.4 Vern Law
2.3 Bobby Shantz
2.3 Carl Mays
2.3 Pinky Higgins
2.3 Roy McMillan
2.2 Bing Miller
2.2 Paul O'Neill
2.1 Bill Buckner
2.1 Kevin Brown
2.0 Bill Donovan
2.0 Bill Wambsganss
2.0 Bob Elliott
2.0 Bobby Richardson
2.0 Heinie Groh
2.0 Virgil Trucks
2.0 Willie Wilson
1.9 Bullet Joe Bush
1.9 Moe Berg
1.9 Max Bishop
1.9 Wally Moses
1.9 Will White
1.9 Billy Pierce
1.9 Jim Perry
1.9 Paul Blair
1.9 Ron Cey
1.8 Al Schacht
1.8 Dutch Leonard
1.8 Dick Groat
1.8 Rick Sutcliffe
1.7 Jack Coombs
1.7 Ossie Bluege
1.7 Jim Hegan
1.7 Gil McDougald
1.7 Buddy Bell
1.7 Darrell Evans
1.7 Lance Parrish
1.6 Norm Cash
1.6 J.R. Richard
1.5 Roger Peckinpaugh
1.5 Larry Doyle
1.5 Bill Donovan
1.5 George Burns
1.5 Cookie Lavagetto
1.5 Urban Shocker
1.5 Dolph Camilli
1.5 George Uhle
1.5 Hal White
1.5 Riggs Stephenson
1.5 Ellis Kinder
1.5 Mike Marshall
1.5 Jack Clark
1.4 Carl Furillo
1.4 Vic Wertz
1.4 Frank Howard
1.4 Ron Perranoski
1.4 Tug McGraw
1.4 Darryl Kile
1.4 Dave Stieb
1.3 George Van Haltren
1.3 Arlie Latham
1.3 Bill Dahlen
1.3 Charlie Pabor
1.3 Joe Battin
1.3 Lip Pike
1.3 Jimmy McAleer
1.3 Matt Kilroy
1.3 Jack Remsen
1.3 Tommy Bond
1.3 Jack Doyle
1.3 Hardy Richardson
1.3 Cal McVey
1.3 Doug Allison
1.3 Jake Daubert
1.3 Eddie Grant
1.3 Billy Jurges
1.3 Red Lucas
1.3 Charlie Gelbert
1.3 Whitey Lockman
1.3 Grady Hatton
1.3 Hank Sauer
1.3 Curt Simmons
1.3 Matty Alou
1.3 Boog Powell
1.3 Joe Niekro
1.3 Kent Tekulve
1.3 Pedro Guerrero
1.3 Bret Saberhagen
1.3 Matt Williams
1.3 Robin Ventura
1.2 Gavvy Cravath
1.2 Terry Turner
1.2 Tommy Thevenow
1.2 Lew Fonseca
1.2 Fielder Jones
1.2 Firpo Marberry
1.2 Milt Pappas
1.2 Tommy Davis
1.2 Ken Holtzman
1.2 George Bell
1.2 Tom Henke
1.2 Darryl Strawberry
1.1 Jack Barry
1.1 Tony Cuccinello
1.1 Willie Kamm
1.1 Frankie Gustine
1.1 Billy Werber
1.1 Charlie Berry
1.1 Mort Cooper
1.1 Bill Doak
1.1 Mike Gonzalez
1.1 Luke Sewell
1.1 Red Kress
1.1 Eddie Stanky
1.1 Jackie Jensen
1.1 Roy Sievers
1.1 Eddie Lopat
1.1 Willie Randolph
1.1 Jose Canseco
1.1 Mo Vaughn
1.1 Julio Franco
1.0 Hans Lobert
1.0 Marty Bergen
1.0 Ping Bodie
1.0 Ossee Schrecongost
1.0 Sherry Magee
1.0 Harry Davis
1.0 Shoeless Joe Jackson
1.0 Donie Bush
1.0 Jim Tobin
1.0 Guy Bush
1.0 Hughie Critz
1.0 George Case
1.0 Art Houtteman
1.0 Wes Westrum
1.0 Del Ennis
1.0 Augie Galan
1.0 Jim Fregosi
1.0 Kent Hrbek
1.0 Ozzie Guillen
1.0 Hal Morris
1.0 Tino Martinez
1.0 Vinny Castilla

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