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!