Oftentimes, when BBWAA voters release their Hall of Fame ballot choices, they do with little regard for common-sense analysis or even baseball reality. Ken Davidoff, however, offers up an exception. In a thorough blog post about his ballot, Davidoff explores how he has come to understand statistical tools and how he arrived at his ballot choices. If only every voter was so enlightened…
When Joe Gordon earned his spot in the Hall of Fame last week, the reception was rather underwhelming. The Yanks issued a perfunctory three-sentence congratulatory press release, and the reaction from the fan base was a deafening silence.
Joe Gordon seemingly is a man last to baseball history. Despite garnering contemporaneous praise from many in baseball and winning an MVP the same year
Joe D Ted Williams won the Triple Crown, his accomplishments are lost on the vast majority of Yankee fans. He doesn’t have a plaque in Monument Park. His number isn’t retired. He’s just not part of that Mystique and Aura surrounding the storied Yankee history.
On the surface, Joe Gordon seems like a rather unlikely candidate for the Hall of Fame too. He played for only 11 seasons, surrendering his age 29 and 30 seasons to World War II, and his career accomplishments aren’t that impressive. He didn’t hit any major offensive milestones and ended his career with a .268/.357/.466 line and a 120 OPS+. Should this open the Hall of Fame floodgates to a whole bunch of people who were good but not great over the course of their careers? It’s certainly a question we’ve debated around here over the last few weeks.
I still think, however, that the answer is no, and there’s a reason why. At the time of his retirement, Joe Gordon was probably the top offensive second baseman of all time. Since 1950, he has been overshadowed by plenty of others, but as The Times noted last week, Gordon’s success as a second base was largely unparalleled at the time. He won an MVP award. He earned himself nine trips to the All Star Game and had five World Series rings. By the time he retired, Gordon held the mark for most home runs by a second baseman and considered to be the better fielding half of the double-play combo he formed with Phil Rizzuto.
Gordon’s Yankee tale ended after the 1946 season. After a sub-par post-War campaign, the Yanks shipped him off to Cleveland, and the trade worked out for both teams. In return for Gordon, the Yanks landed themselves Allie Reynolds. Reynolds, a name not lost to history, would go 7-2 over six winning World Series for the Yanks. That is one deal that certainly worked out.
In the end, Gordon is a deserving member of the Hall of Fame. He was the best his position for the better part of 13 years, and it seems as though his time had long since passed. I wonder how many other deserving players have been lost to baseball history.
As Yankee fans grapple with the arbitration decision, another list of sorts hit the wire today as the voters received their Hall of Fame ballots. Nothing, as we’ve seen, boils the blood quite like a good Hall of Fame discussion.
Now, this year’s ballots are notable for a few reasons. First, it’s the smallest ballot in recent history with just 23 names on it. Additionally, of those listed, I believe that only Rickey Henderson should be elected. Mostly, the folks on the ballot are retreads. They’ve all been denied entry in the past but due to the Hall of Fame’s rules, they get a second, third or even tenth crack at the Hall.
Finally, this year is significant because of the presence of Jim Rice. In New England, most people think that Rice should be in the Hall of Fame. Elsewhere, most baseball fans don’t seem him as deserving. The arguments are out there for all to read. This is Rice’s last year of eligibility, and his showing last year — 72.2 percent — fell just 2.8 percentage points short of election.
My question to those who vote for Rice though is this: What has he done in the 14 years that he’s been on the ballot that earns him a spot in Cooperstown this year that he hadn’t accomplished when he retired? I’m almost tempted to say that eligiblity isn’t restrictive enough. If Rice wasn’t a Hall of Famer for the last 14 seasons, he shouldn’t be one this year just because no one else outside of Rickey is good enough to make the Hall.
Anyway, for our open thread tonight, let’s run the ballot. The names of those are below. Who would you pick for the Hall of Fame? I’d go with Rickey Henderson and only Rickey Henderson.
2009 Hall of Fame Ballot: Harold Baines, Jay Bell, Bert Blyleven, David Cone, Andre Dawson, Ron Gant, Mark Grace, Rickey Henderson, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Jesse Orosco, Dave Parker, Dan Plesac, Tim Raines, Jim Rice, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell, Greg Vaughn, Mo Vaughn, Matt Williams
This afternoon, a few big figures in the history of New York baseball will find their ways into the Hall of Fame. Walter O’Malley, the scourge of Brooklyn, will earn his Cooperstown plaque today, and Richard Sandomir writes about the connection between O’Malley and new inductee and former Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. Many New Yorkers still resent O’Malley’s role in moving the Dodgers out of Brooklyn. Outside of New York, some columnists feel that Goose Gossage doesn’t deserve a place in the Hall. And Chris Lamb writes about how a racial slur in the late 1930s may have set baseball on a path toward history.
If Bruce Sutter can do it, Goose can do it better. The former Yanks reliever was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame today. He was on 466 of 543 ballots, or 85.8 percent. Jim Rice, Andre Dawson, and Bert Blyleven were the next three. Rice came very close at 72.2 percent, just 14 votes shy.
Rich Lederer at The Baseball Analysts makes the Hall of Fame case for Tim Raines. By the time Raines arrived in New York, he was playing out the waning days of an excellent career, but he still be up some impressive numbers in limited playing time. During his career, he was often overshadowed by Rickey Henderson and should earn a spot in the Hall.
Over on his personal blog, RAB favorite Keith Law has tallied up 48 HOF ballots he’s received or seen. You can check out the full list over there, but of note is that Goose Gossage is sitting on 90 percent of those ballots. As expected, Donny Baseball is on but one ballot.