Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Baseball HOF is a joke

The baseball hall of fame introduced its newest member, Rich "Goose" Gossage yesterday. I have no problem with Gossage in the Hall of Fame, I think his selection was long overdue. My problem is with the continued omission of Jack Morris and the complete lack of support for Alan Trammell.

Obviously I am a Tiger fan, so I am biased towards these two men. As a kid growing up during the prime of their careers, I count them among my favorite athletes of all time. But if you look at their careers objectively, I think you will see that they are both getting the short shrift.

When talking about the Hall of Fame, most people get into a debate about numbers. While statistics are one of the lynch pins of any good baseball argument, you have to be careful using them when talking about the Hall of Fame, because the same numbers from different eras mean different things. Lou Gehrig's 493 career home runs made him one of history's greatest sluggers. Fred McGriff's 493 home runs made him a sometime All Star who won't make it to Cooperstown without a ticket.

The criteria that should be used in Hall of Fame debates should be as follows: Was he one of the best players in baseball at his position during his career? Was he one of the best players on his team? This is why Rafael Palmeiro will never make the Hall of Fame, despite being 10th on the all-time home run list. Despite his consistency, you would have been hard pressed to call him the best, or even one of the best 1B in baseball at anytime in his career. He was never the top player on his team, often overshadowed by Pudge or by Juan Gonzalez. This is also why Jack Morris belongs in the Hall. He won more games than any pitcher in the 80s. He won 254 games in his career, the next pitcher in wins during that time period was Dennis Martinez with 218. He started three All Star games, and Game One of the world series for three different teams. He was the best starting pitcher of his era.

Likewise the same criteria suggests that Alan Trammell should be given more consideration than he is currently getting (18% of the vote). Along with Ripken and Smith, he was one the top SS of his era. His offensive numbers (.285, 1,231R, 185HR, 1,003 RBI & 236SB) compare favorably with Ozzie Smith's (.262, 1,257R, 28HR, 793 RBI & 580SB). Although Smith was clearly better defensively, Tram was no slouch, winning four golden gloves. Was Smith a better player than Trammell? I don't think so, but I could see how someone could see it differently. Was Smith so far superior to Tram that he deserved first ballot inclusion into the Hall while Tram languishes around 20% of the vote? Absolutely not.

If Morris and Trammell had played for the Yankees or the Red Sox, they'd have been elected to the Hall years ago. Instead they are forced to wait, knowing full well they were every bit the player as many of those already enshrined