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23.05.2018

The ‘small’ Hall of Fame that gets some nostalgic is a myth.

Illegal performance-enhancing drugs. Analytics versus the eye test. Those matters went as hard as they could for as long as they could in the Schitt’s Creek that is the annual Hall of Fame debate, and now comes time for them to rest. When the Hall announces the results of the writer’s ballot on Wednesday evening,...
Time: 18:10     Date: 23.01.2018
Last US Sport News: The ‘small’ Hall of Fame that gets some nostalgic is a myth. NY Post 24 - US News

Those matters went as hard as they could for as long as they could in the Schitt’s Creek that is the annual Hall of Fame debate, and now comes time for them to rest. When the Hall announces the results of the writer’s ballot on Wednesday evening, another scalding-hot button issue looks ready to close out the proceedings:

Do you prefer a Big Hall, or a Small Hall?

The Big Hall crowd, already on a roll, could pad its stats in record fashion. The pre-announcement tracking, compiled by Ryan Thibodaux, shows five players — Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome, Trevor Hoffman and Edgar Martinez — surpassing the 75 percent threshold necessary for election, and former Yankee Mike Mussina hovers over 70 percent, with approximately half of the votes public.

Only once in the Hall’s history has the writer’s ballot produced five new members, and that occurred in 1936, when Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner created the inaugural class, three years before the building actually opened in Cooperstown. Even if it winds up being just Jones, Guerrero and Thome, all of whom are over 90 percent, that would make it a sizable 15 inductees from the writers in the five years since the 2013 ballot produced an embarrassing goose egg. Never before have the writers enshrined so many in so compact a span.

Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are getting closer to the 75 percent of the vote needed.AP

You might consider this blasphemy, a watering down of the Hall’s sanctity. Just like with the illegal PEDs debate, however, you’d be committing to a myth about the Hall’s origins.

It never has been a Small Hall. As a matter of fact, the Hall has gotten smaller through time.

James Smyth, a researcher for the YES Network, compiled data that followed every position player who recorded 5,000 or more plate appearances and every pitcher who threw at least 2,000 innings. Only Shohei Ohtani qualified for both groups (kidding, kidding).

An astounding 35.6 percent (31 of 87) of the 1920-29 collection can be found in the Hall today. That’s the highest percentage from any 10-year period.

With 223 ballots revealed/~52.6% of the vote known:Chipper - 98%Vlad - 95%Thome - 93%Hoffman - 77.6%Edgar 77.1%-----Mussina - 71%BB/RC - 64%Schilling - 61%Walker - 39%Vizquel - 31%Manny - 23%McGriff - 19%Rolen - 13%Andruw - 5.8%Tracker: https://t.co/EHQYbIMnWo

— Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrTibbs) January 23, 2018

For 1970 to 1979, the last demographic completely gone from the writers’ ballot, 16 of 149, or 10.7 percent, made it to the top, including recent Veterans Committee selections Jack Morris and Alan Trammell. What a difference a half-century makes.

If the top five from this year’s ballot get in, you’d add Martinez to the 1980-89 bracket and tick up that decade’s percentage to 9 percent (14 of 155). Guerrero, Jones and Thome would join the 1990-99 bunch and increase their population’s percentage to just under 5 percent (8 of 161).

Plenty more will come from the ’90s, including Mariano Rivera next year and Derek Jeter the year after, and Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens can still creep forward to help out the ’80s. The Hall’s Veterans Committees can add from every era, although the more recent times get more attention in the current rotation. Ultimately, though, these times are unlikely to approach the peak set by the 1920s, or even the 1940s (22.4 percent) or ’50s (21.2 percent).

Alan Trammell will be enshrined after being a Veterans’ Committee addition.AP

You might have noticed that I didn’t include Hoffman in the tallying. That’s because he pitched only 1,089 1/3 innings for his career. Nevertheless, if you believe in the ultra-importance of closers and don’t subscribe to the theory that only Rivera transcended the position, then you want Hoffman in Cooperstown. Jones was an all-time third baseman, and Thome an all-time bat. If Martinez can’t match Thome in counting stats, he should pass anyone’s eye test. Same goes for Guerrero, whose exciting brand of play overrode his defensive and plate-discipline shortcomings.

Let the Hall be Big. Let Cooperstown overflow with joy and plentiful team colors on induction weekend (just ask the guys to keep the speeches short). Let the game celebrate itself and not worry about adhering to a standard that never existed.

Besides, if you compare to Football, where five Hall of Fame inductees makes for a light class, it still constitutes a Small Hall.

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