Congrats to the Historical Overview Committee of the Hall of Fame for putting together a fantastic list for the Modern Baseball Era Committee to consider from that time period of 1970-87. I only feel the need to say that because I see some sabermetric-oriented guys are ripping the tar off them for their nine-player list.
The list is terrific, actually, if you are looking for great achievements, impact and yes, fame. In addition to the deserving union leader Marvin Miller, there are nine players, all worthy of being considered: Alan Trammell, Luis Tiant, Ted Simmons, Tommy John, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Don Mattingly, Jack Morris and Steve Garvey.
The saber guys are saber-rattling (sorry for the bad pun!) over a whole host of very good players they have re-evaluated higher based on newer stats. Those players include Lou Whitaker, Bobby Grich, Rick Reuschel, Graig Nettles, Reggie Smith, Buddy Bell, Dwight Evans, Willie Randolph, Sal Bando, Dave Stieb, Keith Hernandez and many more.
The saber set certainly has made vast contributions to the game, and many of those players they like better indeed were undoubtedly underrated during their day. But it is no surprise that the players chosen were who they are. The HOC is made up of long-time writers, many of whom voted for the players on their list, and all of whom at least looked at past ballots, which are decent gauge of how players were viewed shortly after their day by the writers.
The reason other players are preferred by the saber set has to do with a greater emphasis on certain things, such as walks and on-base percentage, and maybe defense to a degree. They do have their points. It certainly is a worth a closer look, but understandably, it is hard to accept a total reassessment of the era.
The original votes were based on impact, achievement, and yes, fame. These players, in many cases, won major awards.
The players they favor did not win major awards. Of course, the voting was imperfect at the time (but not as imperfect as they claim). And by the way, so, too, are retroactive defensive stats.
There’s one site out there that has a scale that gives Rick Reuschel a 136 and Morris a 76. The same scale gives Lou Whitaker a 145 to 78 for Don Mattingly. It gives Bobby Grich a 140 and Garvey a 61.
Reuschel, Grich and Whitaker were all excellent players worth considering. But what kind of scale would suggest they are twice the players of Morris, Mattingly and Garvey? No scale I’d ever want to use, that’s for sure.
Trammell is loved by both groups now, and with everyone seeing the internet, the guess here is that he has the best chance to get in. That’s fine by me, as he’s deserving and also one of six on the new ballot I ultimately voted for (Murphy, Parker, Mattingly, Morris and Garvey also got my votes by the end of their terms on the ballot). Each person on the Modern Baseball Era Committee (formerly called the Veterans Committee) is allowed to vote for up to four players, so theoretically five could make it from this stacked era, but more likely between none and four will.
I’d say of the players favored by the saber guys, I’d have found room for Hernandez, but am not convinced anyone else is more deserving than the players who are on the ballot.
The whole idea of voting in more guys is very worthwhile, as I’d say the BBWAA has been far too tough on this exceptional era. As the Hall of Fame says, the era after 1950 is badly “under-represented.”
I, for one, applaud the effort to add more deserving players, and believe the HOC has done a terrific job of selecting those players.
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