Thursday, December 5, 2013

Our First 10 Vote Limit Casualty

Bob Sansavere was among the 22% of voters who voted for 10 players last year, including Biggio and Bagwell. You would have to assume that he did not change his mind on whether they belong in the Hall of Fame. But, neither appeared on his ballot this year.

The reason is the arbitrary 10 vote limit. He added Maddux, Thomas, Glavine and Mussina and had to make some cuts. He dropped McGwire, Raines, Biggio and Bagwell. I disagree with these choices. Bagwell was a better first baseman than Thomas and Palmeiro, and deserves to be on Sansavere's ballot, as does Biggio. Especially over Jack Morris. However, I can't really figure out a compelling reason why we are making him choose.

It doesn't matter who you blame for this mess, it is a mess. There are very clearly more than 10 Hall of Famers on this ballot. Only 30 out of 100 position players in history have exceeded 63 bWAR and are not already in the Hall of Fame. Of those, 12 are not eligible, either because they are still active, have not been retired for five years or are Pete Rose. There are 9 of them on this ballot. And that's just position players. Add 5 more pitchers who meet that criteria, out of only 13 not already in, and you get 14 who meet the clear historical precedent of induction. Making someone arbitrarily pair that list down to 10 doesn't make any sense.

The 10 limit wasn't a big deal when the BBWAA was doing their job, and electing qualified players as they came in. But now its forcing people to make a ridiculous choice. No more is the question, is this person a Hall of Famer? Its now, is this person more of a Hall of Famer than this other person. Which other Hall of Famer do I have to cut to make room for this Hall of Famer? Worse, it makes people play politics with their vote. Does Sansavere actually believe Jack Morris was better than Biggio and Bagwell, or has he taken a stance that he feels he can't go back on and is playing to his base?

I believe that at least Maddux will make it and likely Glavine this year. But Biggio has already lost one vote - can he pick that up, plus the extra 39 votes he needed from last year's total, in this crowded ballot  Or will there be a possum related "accident" forthcoming? The historical rules for the Hall of Fame have been fluid. There is no reason why they couldn't change the 10 vote limit, or even a more extreme change like requiring 60%. Regardless of the change made, its time for the BBWAA to step up and fix this mess now.