The right players, including Pedro Martinez, were selected for Cooperstown, but were the percentages right?

The right players, including Pedro Martinez, were selected for Cooperstown, but were the percentages right?

The National Baseball Hall of Fame to the American sports fan is the most sacred and debated hall of fame that exists.

There are many reasons for this. We’ve accepted that certain career numbers gain almost-automatic acceptance. The magic numbers are 3,000 (hits or strikeouts), 500 (home runs) or 300 (wins for a pitcher). A lifetime batting average of .300 or better helps, or a career earned run average of roughly 3.50 or lower.

The group responsible for the induction of Major League Baseball Players into the Hall of Fame are the Baseball Writers Associaton of America (BBWAA). The group is consisted of over 700 members of the media that work in newspapers, magazines and major web sites around the country. Even upon retirement, a member can still vote for the Hall of Fame. Since 1936, this group has had exclusive rights to the voting process.

I think it’s time to rethink if this group should have this responsibility.

The point of a sports reporter (or any reporter, for that matter), is to have an unbiased look at a subject. It has long been proven not to be the case for the BBWAA. The best example may come from the simple fact that no player inducted in the Hall of Fame has ever had a 100 percent vote total.

Think about that. Not Babe Ruth (95 percent, 215/226 ballots), Ty Cobb (98 percent, 222/226 ballots), Joe DiMaggio (88 percent, 223/251 ballots), Mickey Mantle (88 percent, 322/365 ballots), Walter Johnson (84 percent, 189/226 ballots) or even Ted Williams (93 percent, 282/302 ballots). Hank Aaron had 98 percent when he was inducted in 1982. Jackie Robinson had 77.5 percent when he was inducted in 1960. How one of these players, particularly Aaron or Ruth, didn’t reach 100 percent by any excuse is pathetic.

This year, 549 votes were cast for candidates. That number alone is embarrasing. If there are over 700 members of the BBWAA, that means at least 151 members didn’t even cast a ballot. Those members should immediately be excused from the process. If you have the honor to decide if a career is worth Hall induction or not, you vote. No excuses.

The voting percentages were interesting. Randy Johnson, arguably the greatest lefthanded pitcher of all-time, had 97.3 percent, or 534 of 549 votes. Again, awful. Johnson had a career record of 303-166, meaning he hit the magical number of 300 wins. In 4,135.1 innings pitched, he had 4,875 strikeouts, well beyond the magical number of 3,000. He had a lifetime ERA of 3.29. Oh, and he did this during the Steroid Era.

Are those numbers that seemingly escaped the mind of the 15 voters who decided NOT to vote him in?

I’m even more flabbergasted by the percentage of former Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez, who received 91.1 percent of the vote, or 500 out of 549. Martinez had both numbers AND was dominant for a period of time. From 1997-2000, Martinez was the most dominant pitcher in baseball, period. In those four years, he had ERAs, in order, of 1.90, 2.89, 2.07 and 1.74. He averaged 288 strikeouts per year. He finished with 3,154 career strikeouts and a career ERA of 2.93.

But that’s not good enough for 49 voters.

I wonder if these are the same voters who decided to cast two votes for former New York Yankees third baseman Aaron Boone. Yes, that Aaron Boone. The one that smacked the game-winning home run off Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield in the 2003 American League Championship Series. While Boone had a nice career, it falls far short of Hall of Fame worthy. He had 1,017 hits in his career, 126 home runs a career batting average of .262.

Former Red Sox relief pitcher Tom Gordon, more noted for being part of the title to a Stephen King book, also received two votes. Gordon had an ERA of 3.96 and 1,928 strikeouts.

The most offensive to me could be the one vote given to former Angels outfielder Darin Erstad. Nothing personal against Erstad, who had a decent career, but 1,697 career hits doesn’t do it.

Those are votes that could have been cast for a deserving player, such as Mike Piazza. The record-holder for most home runs by a catcher with 427, Piazza was 28 votes shy of induction, mostly over bum theories that he used performance-enhancing drugs over his career. No proof has been shown that he actually had.

Sans Piazza, the BBWAA got it right this year. Martinez and Johnson were locks. John Smoltz, who had 213 wins and 154 saves, along with 3,084 strikeouts was also a nice surprise for a first-ballot induction. Craig Biggio, who should have been a first-ballot hall of famer (he had 3,060 hits and was an All-Star at multiple positions) finally got it. But like in previous years, a bias is still clearly shown amongst baseball writers. A day will come when a player is so good throughout their career that it will seem almost irresponsible for the player to not have a 100 percent vote total. Will that player not receive 100 percent because Babe Ruth didn’t? Is that a legitimate excuse anymore?

There’s no true way to kill the bias, and I’m not calling for the BBWAA to be revoked of the ability to vote, but I feel the time has come to expand who can vote for the Hall of Fame. While the Veterans Committee is a way to get former players involved in righting old voting wrongs, I believe both former and current players should be allowed to vote. Managers, general managers and scouts should also have a vote. The people who really know the game should be part of the selection process. It’s just logical.

In the meantime, the members of the BBWAA should question themselves and take a real long look in the mirror next year when voting time comes around and ask a simple question: Am I doing the right thing when I vote?

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