Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Handicapping the Expansion Era Ballot

Last week, the Hall of Fame's Expansion Era Committee announced the 12 candidates (whose greatest contributions to baseball were from 1973 to present) who they'll consider for induction this year.

The list of names includes several who were passed over in 2010–when the committee last considered candidates–as well as some prominent newbies. 

The newbies include three managers who are virtual locks to get in: Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, and Joe Torre, the latter of whom's case is buoyed by a playing career that, at worst, was borderline Hall-worthy. 

In fact, thanks to these three, it's hard to imagine anyone else has much of a chance. Let's do the math. 

The committee consists of 16 members, each of whom can vote for up to five candidates. Assuming everyone uses up their full allotment (which is no guarantee), that's 80 votes to go around. It takes 12 for election, so that means a perfect storm of virtual consensus would result in a maximum of six successful candidates. 

But, of course, that's not going to happen. I could be wrong about this, but it's hard to imagine any more than 2-3 voters each not getting behind this trio of managers. That leaves approximately 40 for the remaining nine candidates. 

Assuming there's some support for each candidate–they wouldn't be on the ballot otherwise–at least two or three votes for each of the remaining nine seems likely. That brings the available votes down to low-20s at most, meaning two more could conceivably garner the extra 9-10 needed to be elected. 

That's a little far-fetched, though, but I'll back off my original contention and say there's an outside chance a fourth could get in. I doubt it, but it's not impossible. 

So, who has the best chance to be that potential fourth selection? 

Marvin Miller and Dave Concepcion both did fairly well in the last Expansion Era election in 2010–receiving 11 and 8 out of a possible 16 votes, respectively–so they're the most obvious candidates. Personally, I think Miller has the best shot, and is much more deserving than Concepcion, who I would rank as slightly more Hall-worthy than Mark Belanger, slightly less than Bert Campaneris and considerably less qualified than Alan Trammell, among his contemporaries at shortstop.

The remainder of the candidates I see as having little to no chance of getting in.

The committee must have been trying to stick it to Billy Martin by pitting him against Cox, LaRussa and Torre.

George Steinbrenner will probably make the Hall of Fame someday, but not this year.

Steve Garvey is a lost cause, and rightfully so. With so many years of hindsight, why anyone thinks he's a better candidate than Keith Hernandez is beyond me. 

Tommy John is just below the borderline to me. I don't think there's much hope for him, but he's a better candidate than all the players on this ballot except one. 

Dave Parker doesn't stand much of a chance either. I'm not sure why the selection committee thinks he does. I would have much rather seen Dwight Evans get a shot in his place. 

I really want to be able to make a case for Dan Quisenberry, and I think there's one to be made. He's arguably as Hall-worthy as Bruce Sutter and maybe even more so than Rollie Fingers. But, I just can't find enough there to make the case that any of these players and their peers–with Goose Gossage being the exception–deserve the honor. 

Ted Simmons, of course, is the most worthy candidate beyond the three aforementioned managers, but I don't give him much of a chance either. 

In fact, there are a lot of players I would have rather seen than most of these guys: Bobby Grich, Graig Nettles, Thurman Munson, in addition to Evans and Hernandez, just to name a handful.

If I had a vote, I'd go with Torre, Cox, LaRussa, Simmons and Miller.


  1. I'm with you, except for a couple things…

    1. I'm more bullish on Tommy John. I have him a bit above the borderline. I think he deserves it for multiple reasons.

    2. I can see the case for Dave Parker based on peak. There was a time he looked like an absolute Hall of Famer. But he changed that himself in a hurry. While I don't think Garvey was ever a Hall of Famer, there was a stretch of time that Dave Parker absolutely was a Hall-worthy player.

    That said, he screwed it up.

    1. Regarding Parker, there's no doubt he had a Hall of Fame peak. I'm just looking at the fact he was another guy who lasted 15 years on the ballot and peaked at 24.5%.

      15 chances, and every time there were enough NO votes (i.e. over 75%) to elect him to the non-Hall of Fame, if you know what I mean.