SABR to the Rescue

Finally figured out what’s wrong with the Hall of Fame voting. It’s the voters. Ever since they began voting for MVP’s back in 1911 the writers (BBWAA) have done baseball’s voting. Maybe for yearly awards OK, but for historical awards, YUCK. I’ve met a few of these people and have read a bunch of them. Know what? Most of them know nothing about the sport except what they cover. Ask them who were the top players in the 1950’s and they’ll name a few, but betcha most won’t even know Hank Aaron played in the 1950’s.  Can they read a stat sheet? Sure. Do they know what it means? Probably not.

I’ve been averse to the writers voting for the Hall of Fame for a long time. I’m sure most of them don’t know what they’re doing. After the last vote when I find that writers who cast blank ballots voted for candidates last year that remained on this year’s ballot, I now conclude the quicker we change the system the better. So throw out the writers, Cooperstown. You can do it. The decision on who votes is up to you, not the writers. You’ve change the veteran’s committee several times, now change the entire system.

And, who, you ask, gets to make the decision now? How’s about the guys at the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR)? They know all sorts of stuff about baseball (certainly a lot more than the writers). There’s a perception that SABR is just a bunch of stat geeks sitting around finding out how many putouts a left-handed shortstop made in 1888, but it ain’t so. Joe. Read their stuff. Much of it is designed to recapture information such as birth and death dates, what happened to a player after he left the game, or finding complete roster data. People who study that, know a lot about the game. Let them vote on the Hall of Fame. I’d be more inclined to trust their view on whether Pete Browning or Harland Clift or Minnie Minoso or Mark McGwire belong in the Hall of Fame than the writers.

How to do it? First, I don’t know that the people at SABR (and I’m not one) would want to do it, but if they did, they need to set down with the Cooperstown people and work out how many groups should vote, the size of the group(s), the categories of voting, the percentage of votes to elect (there’s nothing “sacred” about 75%. Maybe it should be 67%, maybe 80%). It can be worked out.

Come on, Cooperstown, stop this nonsense and get some people who know what they’re doing.


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