The big name free agents have all but settled down in their new homes at this point in the offseason, and in the six-week intermission before pitchers and catchers begin to report for spring training, the biggest story is the results of the annual Hall of Fame voting.
This year’s class is a small one, with the inductees being manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey along with the only member voted in by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, Andre Dawson.
Dawson was elected in his ninth year of eligibility out of a possible 15, while the Veterans Committee selected Herzog and Harvey last month.
No one is debating these selections, but as always, the discussion centers on those who were left out.
The snub of second baseman Roberto Alomar left many puzzled. There were 539 voters this year, and with 75 percent the measure to be inducted, Alomar’s appearance on 73.7 percent of the ballots means that he missed by about eight votes.
Why did Alomar not make it to the Hall? It is certainly not because the BBWAA believes that he does not deserve to be there, as I for one have yet to find any voter come out and say that the reason why Alomar was left off of his/her respective ballot is because Alomar does not deserves to be there.
Let me take a break to ask me this question: What do Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Sandy Koufax, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Nolan Ryan all have in common?
They are all part of a group of 39 select major league baseball players who were all elected to the Hall of Fame by means of the writers’ ballot.
Alomar was left off of the ballot because he did not deserve to be a first ballot Hall of Famer. This is no insult to Alomar, but he does not deserve to be in the conversation with those above names, and certainly the other first ballot inductees are no slouches either.
That list of 39 does an excellent job of representing the best players in baseball who began playing by 1940.
Why does the Hall give a player 15 years of eligibility to remain on the BBWAA ballot? They are retired and their chances of getting in are not being improved.
The members of the BBWAA are given a list of instructions to consider when voting, and it does not include heavily judging the former player's actions now that he is removed from baseball.
Furthermore, if a player should be inducted after the first ballot because of what he has done since leaving baseball, then that is not for the BBWAA to decide that, but rather for the Veterans’ Committee.
So then why does a player have 15 years of eligibility? It is because there really is a difference between getting elected on the first year rather than the 10th year on the ballot.
By putting down Alomar’s name on the 2010 ballot, it means that those writers believe he deserves to be in the sentence with the greatest players of all time.
Is he on the same level with Williams, Musial, Koufax, Mays, and Ryan? Hardly.
This is not to bash on Alomar. He would get my vote to be in the Hall—eventually. He was a very good player and certainly boasts a Hall of Fame resume—superb defense, a .300 hitter, a World Series title, and five seasons finishing in the top six in MVP voting.
But, in my opinion, and I believe this sentiment would be shared by most, that does not place Alomar within the best 40 players in the history of the game.
My ballot this year would not have been empty. While I think that Alomar is “under-due,” there were two players who were overdue—Andre Dawson and Bert Blyleven. Dawson was elected on his ninth year on the ballot, and Blyleven missed again on his 13th year of eligibility.
Next year, Blyleven would again be on my ballot. I would have to re-evaluate Alomar’s career, but Alomar would likely get my vote. Alomar is without a doubt an eventual member of the Hall, but the discussion of it being insulting to his career to be left off on the first ballot is in fact insulting to other 39 first ballot players who are among the greatest who ever played.