The sixteen-member Golden Era Committee released their votes Monday afternoon, and to the chagrin of many, they voted to elect nobody. While they had three or four good candidates in our mind, they couldn’t get together on one. And maybe that’s a good thing. See, three of the four guys on their list with the most votes may have been the three worst candidates on the ballot – Tony Oliva, Jim Kaat, and Maury Wills.
We’re fine that they didn’t vote for anyone. At least there may be some hope for Dick Allen in a few years. I guess the thing that most upsets us is that we had a more fun post ready to go in anticipation of a Jim Kaat election.
So the Golden Era voters chose to elect nobody. What’s that mean?
Well, it means we were both wrong by predicting that they’d elect Jim Kaat. It also means that the overqualified Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, and Luis Tiant will have to wait at least three more years. On the other hand, it means we haven’t lowered the pitching bar by voting in Kitty.
The vote breakdown was interesting—12 votes needed for election. Much to our surprise, Dick Allen came within one vote of election. On a less happy note, Tony Oliva was also just a vote short too. And our presumptive favorite, Jim Kaat, received ten votes. Maury Wills was next with nine. And Minnie Minoso had eight.
It also means that despite nearly getting Allen right and holding the line on Kaat, the voters still don’t exactly know what a good player looks like. Allen, Boyer, and Tiant are well over the line. Kaat, Oliva, and Wills are well under it. But the voting doesn’t reflect that in the least. It reflects a lack of understanding of the Hall’s actual standards and a reliance on old-school stats like wins, batting average, and stolen bases. In other words, this round of voting may confirm some of what we we may think we know about VC members. It may also confirm that VC voting belongs in the hands of historians and analysts as well as (or rather than) writers, executives, and ex-players.
Is Tracy Ringolsby okay?
Discussing the deliberations undergone by the Golden Era Committee, MLB.com columnist and GE voter Tracy Ringolsby said that not one negative word was said about any of the players on the ballot. He said they were all good candidates who belonged in the Hall. Voters just threw their support to those candidates in whom they felt the most comfortable. Really? In a discussion that he says was as important at this one, nobody mentioned that Jim Kaat was below replacement level for the last eight seasons of his career? Nobody mentioned the controversial, perhaps even toxic, personality of Dick Allen? Nobody mentioned that Maury Wills led the NL in caught stealing more often than he led it in stolen bases? Nobody mentioned that Bob Howsam had Johnny Bench and Pete Rose given to him when he joined the Reds? Nobody mentioned that Tony Oliva’s career was essentially only eight years long? Nobody mentioned Luis Tiant’s win total? C’mon, someone had to mention that. That he won only 229 games has to—just has to—be the reason most didn’t vote for him.
We could go on. We should go on. But we won’t, except to say that it’s the Committee’s job to speak both positively and negatively about the candidates. No review is complete without the good and the bad.
But Tim Raines got in, right?
Well, no. As we’re sure you know, he’s still on the BBWAA ballot. Maury Wills, on the other hand came close. He missed by three votes. So one might think that bodes well for Raines since Rock was a stolen-base maven, too. It doesn’t. The BBWAA vote and the committee votes are unrelated, different electors. There could be some relationship between the two electorates’ decisions but only after players are voted in. In that case perception of a candidate on the ballot could change if a similar candidate has been elected. As for Raines, who won’t be elected next month, and Wills, who got a higher level of support from the Golden Boys than Raines did from the writers, let’s just say that one of these two groups of voters has it wrong. Raines bests Wills in G, PA, AB, R, H, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, SB, BB, AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS+, HBP, IBB, Rbaser (value on the bases), Rfield (value in the field), and WAR and gets less support.
Actually, they both have it wrong because Raines should have gotten in years ago.
There is one area where Wills beats Raines: caught stealing. Maybe that’s why he got so many votes?
What does the lack of a selection mean for the Hall of Miller and Eric?
It means that we’re still not correct. See, from the start of our project both Miller and Eric said there were 212 players in the Hall, though there were really only 211. (If memory serves, Miller counted Candy Cummings, while Eric at least believed that the far superior George Wright was inducted as a player). We thought we were going to be able to make our adjustment this election. Oh well. When the BBWAA weighs in next month, we’ll make the appropriate change. They will at least elect someone.
—Miller and Eric