Tuesday, January 7, 2014

On This HOF Voting Absurdity

I have avoided a mock ballot for the Hall of Fame.  I really don’t want to get into the idea of whether or not we should allow players suspected (or suspended) of PED usage to join the moral giants like Ty Cobb and Mickey Mantle.  I mean, if you want to keep Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens out, fine.  I think it’s a ridiculous effort, but whatever.  Your choice.

But the idea that someone could leave Gregory Alan Maddux off their ballot really is mind-boggling.  Greg Maddux’s production is just sick.  I wrote about it for the Walk-Off Walk Favorite Braves list.  Some of the “wow” numbers seem so simple.  546 putouts…158 more than the second most.  1.559 ERA in 1994.  1.631 ERA the following season.  0.81 WHIP in 1995.  20 batters walked in 232.2 innings during an 8.2 fWAR 1997 season.  Six of those walks were intentional.

His dominance cannot be overstated and too often seems forgotten during a time where peers like Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and Clemens were bringing the heat.  The Professor struck out 200 just once.  He didn’t need to strike out people to get them out.  His over-matched opponents were too busy hitting HIS pitch into the dirt.  It wasn’t that Maddux pitched to contact.  He made you make the out.

There should be absolutely no doubt how deserving the four-time Cy Young winner is.  For reference…the only seven pitchers who have more wins than Maddux are Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Pete Alexander, Christy Mathewson, Pud Galvin, Warren Spahn, and Kid Nichols.  All seven are in the Hall and only Spahn pitched after World War II.  I don’t even put much value in win-loss records, but when your company includes just seven people, all of which are enshrined in Cooperstown, that’s pretty good.  In fact, everyone with 300 wins or more is in the Hall with the exception of four - Maddux, Clemens, Tom Glavine, and the Big Unit.  And at least half of those will be selected tomorrow.

But not with the assistance of Dodgers beat writer Ken Gurnick.  A member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, Gurnick has a vote and gave MLB.com that ballot with an explanation.  It included just one name.  Jack Morris.  Why?  Well, here’s Gurnick.  “Morris has flaws -- a 3.90 ERA, for example. But he gets my vote for more than a decade of ace performance that included three 20-win seasons, Cy Young Award votes in seven seasons and Most Valuable Player Award votes in five. As for those who played during the period of PED use, I won't vote for any of them.”

Morris, who Gurnick admits is flawed, deserves his selection based on a decade of ace performance.  From 1988 to 2003, Greg Maddux was 281-145 with a 2.76 ERA.  He threw 33 shutouts with a 1.098 WHIP.  Morris had three 20-win seasons.  Maddux only had two, but he had five other 19-win seasons including the strike-shortened 1995 season where he was 19-2.  However, Morris had Cy Young votes in seven seasons.  Impressive, except Maddux beats that by two seasons and he won four Cy Youngs, something Morris didn’t do once.  Morris wasn’t even a runner-up during those five years Gurnick speaks of.  He did have MVP votes in five different seasons, never finishing higher than 13th.  Maddux took home MVP votes in six years, including finishing third in 1995.

But…Morris didn’t pitch during the PED era.  Except…the usage of greenies was rampant in the 60’s, 70’s, and yes, the 80’s.  PED stands for Performance Enhancing Drug and amphetamines were one of the first stimulants used to improve the player’s performance.  But that’s okay in Gurnick’s view.  Morris is his guy.  His only guy.  Chipper Jones said that some (expletive unknown) would leave Maddux off his ballot just to make sure there would be no unanimous pick.  I guess Gurnick's reasoning is better than that?  Or not.  I don't know.

The Hall of Fame’s value is found by who is in it.  Should Morris be in the Hall?  He’s not on my ballot, but I can understand why he makes the ballot of others.  Does Maddux belong in the Hall?  Only if the Hall of Fame is worth a shit.

But this is why the Hall of Fame has become such a joke.  Craig Biggio, another deserving candidate, might miss out again for some odd reasons.  Beyond the era he played in, some just need time.  Hal Bodley, another voter, said “I'm not ready to vote for Biggio.”  Well, hate to break it to you, Hal, but he’s not exactly going to improve his numbers.  They are just there.  Either he deserves to be there or not.  But Marty Noble voted for only three players because he doesn’t want too many people getting in during one year.  Yeah, that’s a good reason.  Rangers beat writer T.R. Sullivan voted for Rafael Palmeiro over Frank Thomas because…well, his explanation is rather confusing.

Again, the value of the Hall of Fame is found by who is in it.  Your vote should strive to include only the very best.  And newsflash – Greg Maddux is one of the best pitchers of all time.  To leave him off just to make a point takes away from what the Hall of Fame attempts to be.  And if you don’t care about making the best vote, your vote should be stripped away.  There is no defensible position against the selection of Maddux.

My New Year’s resolution to not be so angry…yeah, about that...

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