Today, the Hall of Fame made some changes to the era committees…
Electorates: 16 member committees
Election Eras: Golden Days (1950-1969), Modern Baseball (1970-1987), Today’s Game (1988-2016), Early Baseball (1871-1949)
Ballot Size: Golden Days (10/players, managers, umps, execs), Modern Baseball (10/players, managers, umps, execs), Today’s Game (10/players, managers, umps, execs), Early Baseball (10/players, managers, umps, execs) Negro Leagues (players, managers, umps, execs)
Waiting Period after Falling off BBWAA ballot: No wait
Frequency: Today’s Game (twice every 5 years), Modern Baseball (twice every 5 years), Golden Days (once every 5 years), Early Baseball (once every 10 years)
These are the years that the committees will meet:
- 2016 – Today’s Game
- 2017 – Modern Baseball
- 2018 – Today’s Game
- 2019 – Modern Baseball
- 2020 – Both Golden Days and Early Baseball
- 2021 – Today’s Game
- 2022 – Modern Baseball
- 2023 – Today’s Game
- 2024 – Modern Baseball
- 2025 – Golden Days (no Early Baseball)
- 2026 – Today’s Game
- 2027 – Modern Baseball
- 2028 – Today’s Game
- 2029 – Modern Baseball
- 2030 – Both Golden Days and Early Baseball
It’s worth noting that the Hall says Today’s Game will meet in 2016, but that means they’ll meet for the 2017 induction. So, the soonest we’ll see any Early Baseball candidates inducted is 2021. That’s disappointing as they were originally set to be considered for induction in 2018. And if there is another candidate shutout, then we’ll have to wait again until 2031 for induction. I’ll be 53. I’m now 38.
This, of course, is a big deal to me because in my role as the chair of SABR’s Overlooked Nineteenth Century Base Ball Legends committee, I care deeply about honoring players that have slipped through the cracks. I readily admit that there is no longer a huge number of worthy candidates from this era. But at the same time, I feel there are several important candidates that deserve induction. This change makes that far more difficult.
Last summer, I wrote about ten candidates who still deserved consideration (I also listed ten more who I would also be happy to see enshrined). It’s no secret that of all of them, I have four favorites:
- Doc Adams – the closest thing we have to the “father of baseball” (fell two votes shy of 2016 induction)
- Bill Dahlen – a shortstop who excelled both at the plate and in the field (fell two votes shy of 2013 induction)
- Jack Glasscock — the greatest shortstop of the 19th century (has not appeared on an era ballot)
- Wes Ferrell — high-peak starting pitcher who was also the greatest hitting pitcher ever (has appeared on era ballots, but hasn’t come close to induction)
There are several other great candidates beyond these four, notably Harry Stovey who came just four votes shy of induction this year.
The good news is that players active from 1970 to the present will be considered far more often. There are 64 eligible players (69 minus three banned players and two in the Hall of Fame for other roles) with a Hall Rating over 100 that are not in the Hall of Fame. Here’s a breakdown of their numbers by committee…
Early Baseball (1871–1949)
The early 20th century is quite picked over, with Sherry Magee topping the last at 110. I also strongly support a couple high-peak pitchers who were strong offensive performers: Wes Ferrell (also 110) and Urban Shocker (108).
Golden Days (1950–1969)
Due to the Hall of Fame’s anti-recency bias, the Early Baseball era is heavily picked over. But the era covered by the Golden Days committee is nearly as bad.
Ken Boyer and Dick Allen stand out above the rest of the candidates (by Hall Rating). Boyer’s 116 Hall Rating is 13th all-time among third baseman](/position/3b). Allen’s short career means he ranks only 19th among first basemen. But that offense makes him an incredibly compelling choice (and he fell just a single vote shy last year). The other three candidates are Jim Wynn (109), Willie Davis (102), and Billy Pierce (100). Minnie Miñoso doesn’t quite have a 100 Hall Rating (98), but I strongly support his induction.
Modern Baseball (1970–1987)
Not only are there twenty-three candidates above 100 in this era, but eleven of them are even over 120. Lou Whitaker (143) and Alan Trammell (141) lead the way with Bobby Grich (139) not far behind. Rick Reuschel (135) leads pitchers with Luis Tiant (129) following him.
Tim Raines (127) is still on the BBWAA ballot (the only one in this group), but has just one more shot at induction through that channel. Graig Nettles (125), Reggie Smith (124), Buddy Bell (123), Willie Randolph (122), and Dwight Evans (122) have all been severely overlooked by the Hall of Fame voting process.
Marvin Miller obviously doesn’t have a Hall Rating (and I focus almost exclusively on player candidates), but he would obviously be a tremendous choice by the Modern Baseball committee as well.
Today’s Game (1988–2016)
That’s right—there’s already a backlog of 23 candidates just when you consider players from the last 30 years. The top two—Barry Bonds (359) and Roger Clemens (291)—are obviously on the outside because of PED suspicion. Another dozen have Hall Ratings over 120.
- Curt Schilling (171)
- Jeff Bagwell (162)
- Mike Mussina (162)
- Larry Walker (150)
- Kevin Brown (137)
- Edgar Martinez (134)
- Kenny Lofton (131)
- David Cone (127)
- Rafael Palmeiro (124)
- Mark McGwire (122)
- Bret Saberhagen (120)
- Jim Edmonds (120)
Brown, Lofton, Cone, Palmeiro, McGwire, Saberhagen, and Edmonds are no longer on the BBWAA ballot, so they’ll be hitting the ballot for this era soon.
The good news is these changes will get the two eras with the biggest backlog in front of voters more often. Even this 19th century advocate has to be pleased with that. But every Early Baseball era election that goes by without a new inductee will be excruciating.
Update: I missed the part of the announcement where the Early Baseball Era committee is allowed to consider Negro League candidates. Of course, that adds Buck O’Neil to the list of very worthy candidates (when you consider his entire contribution to the game).