Hall of Fame Criteria Would Fix Some of Its Own Problems

By Julian O’Donnell, Online Associate Editor

// The Baseball Hall of Fame is one of the most prestigious institutions in all of professional sports. The artifacts, the players and the awe-inspiring tales that exist there are just some of the reasons why it is treasured and needs to be treasured in coming years.

   In recent years, the Hall of Fame (HOF) has denied the likes of baseball greats such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Trevor Hoffman. Much of the reasoning behind denying those stars is because they played in an era infested with the use of performance enhancing drugs (PED), and they were one of many that used PEDs, or their “repertoire” does not fit HOF requirements. Yet, the requirements to make the HOF are vague and not specified, often times leaving out players that are deserving.

   Because of this issue happening only in recent years, the great players from pre-1990s baseball are all members in the HOF. Are the great players on the ballot from the 1990s and post-1990s era a for-sure to get in or will they be snubbed?

   To fix the problem that is the HOF ballot acceptance, a mandatory criteria is a necessary installment to level the playing field to award those that are not getting in. Instead of relying on the votes of 442 people, a set requisite would consistently be a mark for whether a player is HOF-status or not.

   After long discussion and thorough research of past HOF classes, the Blueprint sports section came up with a set of criteria for the HOF. The following requirements are:

1) You must have made the playoffs

   This is a no-brainer. Making the playoffs is just the first boundary in determining how great a player is and whether or not he should make the HOF. There is really no player in the HOF that hasn’t made the playoffs but we could potentially encounter a problem in the future for a couple of players like Giancarlo Stanton, Nolan Arenado, etc. who have not. They are still early in their careers, however, so that is unlikely.

2) At least four All Star games

   Again, All-Star games not only show a player’s achievements on the diamond but their popularity in the sport as well. The four game threshold shows that the player had a prolonged period of prominence, along with showing that the player just didn’t have a good time period.

It gives the candidate a credibility factor that other players may not necessarily have.

3) Whether they are historically significant at their position

   Where you rank among those at your position is a good way at voting players into the HOF because it filters out those who did not make an impact on the sport compared to others who may have. I talked with my good friend Daniel Kim, a senior on the Acalanes baseball team, about this issue specifically because there are a few conundrums. For example, he brings up two shortstops who played in the 80s and 90s, Cal Ripken Jr. and Alan Trammell. Ripken was elected into the HOF but Trammell was not, despite him being ranked as one of the greatest shortstops of all time. Kim reasons that Ripken overshadowed Trammell for his entire career, taking away any significance to the position that Trammell might have had. Popularity cannot be a factor forgotten in this, and while people will be talking about Ripken for years, they might not even be aware that Trammell played. Popularity should not overshadow the cold, hard statistics that a player puts up.

4) Awards other than making an All-Star Game (Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, etc)

   The Hall of Fame is becoming more and more focused on the individual rather than how many wins that player was a part of. I still think the success of the player in the playoffs is just as important but the player’s individual awards determine not only the player’s significance at a position but their status in the league. Almost everybody in the HOF has multiple awards so this should not be a problem. But pitcher Bert Blyleven, a member of the 2011 HOF class, has only one award (being the AL strikeout leader in 1985). Do you think he would need more awards? Compared to those who also got inducted into the HOF, the answer is simply yes.

   While the HOF instituting a mandatory criteria for those on the ballot would fix a somewhat broken system, a change to the current system of 442 voters with a 75% threshold for those on the ballot is unlikely. The HOF and the Major League Baseball (MLB) ultimately like the input of those voters because they value significance over statistics.

   Despite game-changers like Bonds and Clemens not being elected once again to the HOF this year, they, along with others, have made slow but steady process in winning over more of the voters. In 2013, both players had below 40% support for HOF induction. In this year’s voting, both hovered at about 54%. Many believe they will get in because the acceptance of players who were involved with PED scandals has grown, especially evident with the induction of Mike Piazza in 2016, who admitted to taking Androstenedione, a PED, while playing.

   The HOF will always be a topic of contention because it’s not perfect and doesn’t get everything right. But like any system or organization, there is always room for improvement. Whether it’s instituting a requirement list for players on the ballot or being more understanding to players involved in the steroid-infested era of the MLB, the HOF can make positive changes that won’t upset baseball fans that much.

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