Monday, January 22, 2018

My First Blog Bat-Around

This weekend, I planned on doing two card-related activities: first, going to my first card show since rejoining the hobby back in 2021; second, finish scanning in cards that Madding of Cards on Cards sent my way so that I could get them posted.

I accomplished neither.

The bug that seems to be going around made a not-so-friendly visit to my home, so I have been in bed most of the time.

However, I did make a point to read my blogroll. Fuji posted about his would-be Hall of Fame ballot, and noted that "First Ballot Hall of Famers ≠ Other Hall of Famers." This got my wheels turning, and it left me wondering:

How true is this statement?

Here's why I was wondering. If I counted right, there are 52 first-ballot hall-of-famers in Cooperstown. The most recent is the second Texas Ranger in the Hall of Fame, Ivan Rodriguez (the other Ranger was also a first ballot HOFer, Nolan Ryan). 

Now, I believe that Pudge is a hall of famer and I certainly believe that he deserves to be a first ballot HOFer. However, he received - by far - the lowest percentage of votes (76%) of any other first balloter.  Only three other men to make it on a first ballot received less than 80% of votes to make it in: Robin Yount (1999, 77.5%), Lou Brock (1985, 79.8%), and Jackie Robinson (1962, 77.5%). Now, let's remove Jackie from the conversation - though I wasn't alive, I have to believe that racism still held back his vote total. That leaves Yount and Brock. Both wonderful players, but both fall somewhere in the middle of first-ballot guys in terms of talent.  

My question, then, is this: If first-ballot Hall of Famers are in a class to themselves, is there any other way to examine or compare them? Here's what I mean: as much as I love Pudge, he's not The Kid (who should have been a unanimous pick, by the way). The vote percentages would agree with that statement.

However, that vote percentage can be deceiving, especially when comparing players in different classes. For example, Mike Schmidt (96.52%) was an incredible ball player, but he wasn't better than the Mick, who received only 88.22% of the vote. Ernie Banks made the Hall in 1977 with 83.81% of the vote, while Ozzie Smith made it in 2002 with 91.74%. Ernie hit a career .274 with 512 home runs and 1,636 RBIs. Banks also collected two MVP awards, was a Gold Glover once and an All Star 14 times. Smith hit a career .262 with 28 home runs and 793 RBIs. Ozzie never won an MVP award, but won 13 Gold Gloves and was an All Star 15 times.

I share all of this, ultimately, to say that voting percentages are subjective. While I agree with Fuji that first-ballot hall-of-famers are not equivalent to other hall-of-famers, I do believe there is quite a bit of difference among the first-ballot guys. Some stand head and shoulders above the rest (ahem, Junior). Some guys are definitely Hall of Fame players, but maybe didn't deserve it on the first ballot (Pudge, you're my dude, but I'm lookin' your way). Unfortunately, a lot of this depends on the ballot. Some of the guys like Pudge make it in on a first ballot because they have few other players to "steal" ballots away from them. Others, like Junior, are first-ballot regardless of who else is on the ballot (though that gives some writers to reasoning to not vote for them, since they will make it anyway. Stupid logic.).

So here is my blog bat-around question: Are first-ballot Hall-of-Famers truly set apart from the other Hall-of-Famers? Is there a statistic or statistics that we can use to "rank" Hall-of-Famers?Let me know, and I would definitely appreciate it if you would leave a link back to your post in the comment section below so I can be sure to read your response. 

Thanks for playing, everyone, and I hope you have a great week!


  1. I don't think so. I think it signifies that this guy a "no doubt" HOFer if he gets on the first ballot. But I don't think they should be viewed as "more special" because it took them one try versus five tries.

  2. The first ballot argument is flawed. Cy Young wasn't even a first ballot Hall of Famer - neither was DiMaggio, Foxx or Berra. As the old joke goes: What do you call the Med student who graduates at the bottom of his class? You call him Doctor!

  3. I know there are writers out there who have said, "I'm not voting for Player X, because he's a 1st ballot guy AND I don't think anyone should get 100%." So, they take it upon themselves to be that guy that makes sure they don't get 100%.
    I also read an article from Ken Rosenthal (I think it was him) who said he toyed with idea of voting for lesser guys who he thinks are Hall worthy, because he knows the 1st ballot guys will get in without his vote. I think he was afraid of some guys falling off the ballot by not getting the 10%.
    What I love about the Hall of Fame the most is the debate and conversations it creates. Good post, Judson.

  4. 1. Of course it is pretty special, but a first ballot induction is just the standard all eligible players should be shooting for - a player checks all the boxes and they get inducted on the first ballot as the final validation of their accomplishments.

    2. Any other induction just means the voters had to think harder for a moment, a year, a couple of years or 10 about certain players - the stats don't change after a player retires, but perspectives do, new data to view a player's stats, etc.

    3. The distinctions have been made beforehand besides which ballot a player is inducted - whether a player was were merely a considered a legend or considered [what I would see] as an icon depending on their popularity, numbers, impact on the game.

  5. There is definitely a wide range of first ballot hall of famers. I would not put Ozzie Smith and Lou Brock in the same league as Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron. Bottom line is that it has to do with voting. If every voter refuses to vote for a guy like Ozzie Smith, because he's not considered a 1st Ballot HOFer, than he won't even make it to the 2nd year of voting. I don't really have a good solution. One possibility would be to raise the percentage of votes needed for their first year on the ballot to be 90% (or something like this). If this were the case, then Ivan Rodriguez wouldn't have been elected in his first year... but he'd definitely would have gotten in the second year.

    I don't know. It's late... I'm just rambling. It's a debatable topic. And like the title of mentioned... I'm not even qualified to really vote or have a say. Lol.