The slowing of the HoME fill continues after our 1986 election, our 26th overall. After election #20 in 1980, we had nine leftover spots for our backlog. Six elections later and we have eight leftover spots for those leftovers. Today we induct Giant great Willie McCovey into the Hall of Miller and Eric in his first year on the ballot, but we induct no others. This is our second consecutive election with just one player getting in, and only four have made it in our last three elections total. Spoiler alert – since the next two elections also offer no slam dunk candidates, there’s still time for us to work on the backlog. McCovey brings HoME membership to 122 of the greatest players in the game’s history. We have 90 more to add. And at this pace, I don’t think that’ll take more than another 50ish elections…
Per our rules, players have to be named on both ballots for induction. This is the first time since the 1978 election where Eric has voted for more players than Miller. That’s because, as you may notice, there are a couple of big changes to Miller’s ballot. More on those changes below. Eric’s offer is more expected and consistent with his 1985 votes.
Miller Eric 1 Willie McCovey Willie McCovey 2 Red Faber Roy White 3 Dave Bancroft
The Class of 1986
Willie McCovey: In the conversation as the game’s best hitter from 1965-1970, Stretch McCovey had a really nice mid-career “stretch” of All-Star seasons and a long tail of better than average play in his 22-year big league career. Highlights include the 1959 NL Rookie of the Year and the 1969 NL MVP. He won a home run title in 1963 and the power parts of the triple crown in 1968 and 1969. He made six All-Star squads and took home MVP honors in 1969 when he homered off both Blue Moon Odom and Denny McLain. Perhaps the most significant moment of his career came in the seventh game of the 1962 World Series. Bottom of the ninth, two outs, Giants trail 1-0. Matty Alou is on third, Willie Mays is on second, Ralph Terry is on the mound for the Yankees, and McCovey is at the plate. The Giant first baseman rips a line drive toward second base. But Bobby Richardson snags it, and the Yankees win the World Series. Despite fame for his 521 home runs, he wasn’t much on the bases or defending them. As such, he’s more likely a solid HoMEr near the bottom end of his position than a lights-out, no-brainer. Reasonable people, however, those who wouldn’t consider Rod Carew, Pete Rose, Ernie Banks, or Frank Thomas to be first basemen, and those who don’t consider Albert Pujols or Jim Thome as not yet eligible, could rank McCovey as high as #10 at the position. Welcome HoME, Willie.
A few elections ago Miller retracted votes for Red Faber and Pud Galvin. He did so in an effort to keep from getting set in his ways and blindly voting for players just because he’d always voted for them. It wasn’t as if he’d changed his mind. Rather, he wanted to make sure he was still using it. This election is different. This time the retracted votes are because he no longer believes two pitchers deserve HoME honors. Miller recalibrated his pitching numbers this election because of a decreased level of trust in fWAR. While he still doesn’t believe the statistic should be ignored, he’s now weighing it at 20% rather than weighing it at 5% plus 20% more for fWAR plus sequencing. As a result, there are two pitchers who no longer make the cut.
Whitey Ford: Dropping ten slots from #59 to #69 is enough to give me pause on The Chairman of the Board. It’s not that I no longer think he belongs. It’s just that I no longer know that he does. We’re not going to go 69 deep on the mound, though that’s not a disqualifier in and of itself. There are a few pitchers on my list with higher rankings than Ford but what I believe to be lesser careers. It’s not like Ford is done for me, but being outside the top-60 means I have to rethink him.
Pud Galvin: While I continue to believe that I’ll vote for Ford one day, I’m not so certain about Galvin any longer. His drop was more precipitous, from #64 to #78. He has issues being from an era that’s already well represented and one that still has backloggers Calvin Griffith and Jim McCormick mucking things up. Plus, he threw underhanded and from 50 feet. On the plus side, nobody’s taking away any of his 365 wins.
When we don’t agree on who should get elected, we feel the need to explain our solo votes. Those explanations are below.
Red Faber: My new system likes Faber as much as the old one. Checking in at #44 among moundsmen, there’s still plenty of space for a Faber-ian fall and a place in the HoME. He owns one signature season plus another great one. Add just two more at the All-Star level, and you see why we’re still debating him. I like the decade or so of 2-3 win play more than Eric does. It’s enough for me to say I’m confident in my vote, but how confident can I possibly be after dumping Ford and Galvin this election?
Roy White: An entire re-eval of all my hitters pushed him up a rank or two in LF. He’s kind of the Jimmy Wynn of left in that he’s got a broad range of skills, had lots of really good seasons but never that one shining year that everyone remembers, played in offense-suppressive parks, and was consistently overlooked during and especially after his career ended. A hidden Hall of Famer who is likely to stay hidden to the folks in upstate New York but who is getting well deserved scrutiny from ours (and hopefully soon a virtual plaque!).
Dave Bancroft: My re-eval brought him even closer to the already elected Joe Sewell. I have Bancroft a wee bit higher than Sewell in the pecking order, but really they’re 1920s NL/AL mirror images for me.
That’s all for our 1986 election. Please visit our Honorees page to see the plaques of those elected and to see plenty more information about the HoME.