We all know how the argument goes–in support of a worthy Hall of Fame candidate, we point to a lesser candidate already in the Hall, and hold them out as the minimum requirement for entrance into the Hall of Fame.
"If we're going to put Bill Mazeroski in the Hall of Fame, how can we leave out Roberto Alomar?"
"Now that Bruce Sutter is in the Hall of Fame, where is Dan Quisenberry?"
"If Catfish Hunter is a Hall of Famer, how can Bert Blyleven not be?"
They are the Hall of Fame Standard Bearers. And by "Standard Bearer," we don't mean the guys who set the highest standard for their position, like Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, and Hank Aaron.
We mean the guys who set the lowest standard for their position, the guys to whom we will forever compare all candidates.
These are the guys at the bottom of the Hall of Fame, and if a Hall of Fame candidate was better than these guys, then the candidate should be in the Hall of Fame as well.
Let's take a look, position by position.