Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hall of Fame analysis

Every year around this time, baseball fans wait with bated breath to see who is included on the annual Hall of Fame ballot.

And every year around this time, various fans, wonks and self-professed “experts” hammer home the same thing about the same players. In the coming weeks, you’ll read about “Goose Gossage this….” and “Jim Rice that….”

People have written ad nauseum, ad infinitum and probably even ad hoc to get certain players enshrined.

This year, two candidates are shoo-ins, with Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn both first-year eligible.

But the ballot also provides some other interesting names — luminaries such as Scott Brosius, Devon White and Bobby Witt immediately jump out to me.

And that’s the point of this blog, at least for now. Over the next however many days, we will be analyzing each of the candidates on this year’s ballot and providing an argument on why they could or should be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

We’re approaching this somewhat tongue-in-cheek, because I don’t think anyone in his or her right minds thinks that Bobby Witt is a Hall of Famer. But this is also a way to hone our writing skills (OK, my cohorts’ writing skills, seeing as how I’m a professional and all), as well as our research and analytical skills, of which mine admittedly pale in comparison with Win-Share Boy (Jason McClain) and the Almighty Napoleon Dunklemite (Jon Dunkle).

Keep in mind that we are personally not advocating for each person’s inclusion — at least I’m not — the point is to try and see if there are any possible reasons for these people to be named on the ballot.

You’ll hear a lot about win-shares, perhaps some about VORP and also something about integrity and contributions to the game. Comments are welcome, and starting on Sunday, we should have our first post. So check back whenever you want and see what’s been written, if you agree, disagree or just have a good laugh (for which about 85 percent of the candidates will result in).

Before we go any further, here’s a quick recap of the eligibility requirements and what to consider when voting for a player:

3. Eligible Candidates — Candidates to be eligible must meet the following requirements:
a) A baseball player must have been active as a player in the Major Leagues at some time during a period beginning twenty (20) years before and ending five (5) years prior to election.

b) Player must have played in each of ten (10) Major League championship seasons, some part of which must have been within the period described in 3 (a).

c) Player shall have ceased to be an active player in the Major Leagues at least five (5) calendar years preceding the election but may be otherwise connected with baseball.

d) In case of the death of an active player or a player who has been retired for less than five (5) full years, a candidate who is otherwise eligible shall be eligible in the next regular election held at least six (6) months after the date of death or after the end of the five (5) year period, whichever occurs first.

e) Any player on Baseball's ineligible list shall not be an eligible candidate.

5. Voting — Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

(These taken from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Web site, but I chose to omit the Veteran’s Committee rules).

And, here is the list of eligibles this year (note, this is not the list they will appear on the site – just who is eligible).

• Harold Baines
• Albert Belle
• Dante Bichette
• Bert Blyleven
• Bobby Bonilla
• Scott Brosius
• Jay Buhner
• Ken Caminiti
• Jose Canseco
• Dave Concepcion
• Eric Davis
• Andre Dawson
• Tony Fernandez
• Steve Garvey
• Rich Gossage
• Tony Gwynn
• Orel Hershiser
• Tommy John
• Wally Joyner
• Don Mattingly
• Mark McGwire
• Jack Morris
• Dale Murphy
• Paul O'Neill
• Dave Parker
• Jim Rice
• Cal Ripken Jr.
• Bret Saberhagen
• Lee Smith
• Alan Trammell
• Devon White
• Bobby Witt

So, stop on by over lunch, first thing in the morning, whatever you want, and let us know your thoughts….