Here’s the good news:
To judge from the most recent update to Baseball Think Factory’s “Hall of Fame Ballot Collecting Gizmo,” no fewer than four candidates — Greg Maddux (99.4%), Tom Glavine (96.5%), Frank Thomas (90.6%), and Craig Biggio (78.8%) — are poised to cross the Baseball Writers Association of America’s (BBWAA) 75% threshold necessary for election to Cooperstown. Such a result would be a huge improvement over last year’s vote, when no one got the call.
And now let’s acknowledge the bad:
Voters continue to be limited to a maximum of ten selections. With a number of impressive first-time candidates, including aces Glavine, Maddux, Mike Mussina, and Kenny Rogers and sluggers Jeff Kent and Frank Thomas added to a roster of returning stars, the backlog isn’t going away. A few candidates with marginal-to-decent credentials — Kent, Don Mattingly, Rafael Palmeiro, and Rogers immediately come to mind — won’t even muster the 5 percent needed to make it back on next year’s ballot.
Last year’s choices were a piece of cake by comparison. I selected Jeff Bagwell, Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Edgar Martinez, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Alan Trammell, and Larry Walker.
So were I a rumpled, gray-bearded sportswriter clutching a BBWAA ballot tighter than Charlton Heston ever gripped his Sharps rifle, here’s how I would have voted this time:
To be clear, Biggio, Martinez, Trammell, and Walker deserve entry into the Hall of Fame. (As noted above, Biggio may slip in this time.) Because of the ten-vote maximum, however, they’re sadly being left behind.
How about that? I nearly finished this post without mentioning Jack Morris, who will almost certainly fall short on his 15th and final chance at BBWAA election.
Okay, I have never considered Morris (3.90 ERA; 52.5 fWAR; 44.1 fWAR; 32.8 bWAR7), one of the better ableit overhyped pitchers of the 1980s, worthy of the Hall. To me, it’s not even close. But here’s the rub: Even if you don’t agree and think I’m crazy, how on earth is he more worthy than any of the pitchers listed above, even Mussina and Schilling?
And before you trot out Morris’s 1991 World Series heroics — while conveniently ignoring his lousy postseason the following season — recall Schilling’s masterful playoff performances in 2001 with the Diamondbacks and in 2004 with the Red Sox. Even Mussina chalked up a superior performance in the 1997 postseason, including two victories over Randy Johnson in the American League Division Series, and a very good one in 2001.)
Tune in to MLB Network tomorrow — Wednesday — at 4:00 p.m. EST for the results.