Baseball Hall of Fame Class 2012: 5 Voting Criteria Writers Need to Stick to

Ely Sussman@@MrElyminatorCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2012

Baseball Hall of Fame Class 2012: 5 Voting Criteria Writers Need to Stick to

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    Sportswriters who annually choose the inductees for the Baseball Hall of Fame do not abide by a particular formula when voting, but there are several criteria that they need to consider when evaluating potential candidates.

    Deserving players should never fall through the cracks because of inconsistent or biased judgment.

Longevity

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    Former players aren't even eligible for the Hall of Fame until they play 10 MLB seasons, and with good reason.

    This is a game of adjustments—those made by the batter to the pitcher, the pitcher back to the batter and so on.

    Top candidates separate themselves from the bunch by contributing year in and year out despite the efforts of their opposition.

    Greg Maddux, for example, is practically a lock to be inducted in his first year of eligibility in 2014. This is in large part because of his tremendous production between 1988 and 2003. He won 15-plus games and pitched to an ERA below 4.00 in each of those 16 seasons!

Career Milestones

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    Longevity on its own, though, isn't enough to earn a player his own plaque. Compiling certain statistics over the course of an MLB career is necessary, too.

    Rare milestones—like 3,000 hits, 500 home runs and 3,000 strikeouts—serve as everlasting evidence that an individual performed at an elite level for a considerable period of time.

    However, the value of all milestones is dependent on the years in which the player was active and the teams he played for.

    Starting pitchers in the 21st century win fewer games than their counterparts from previous generations because rosters have since expanded. Their starts are restricted in today's five-man rotations as are the innings they pitch per start because of the ever-increasing importance of relievers.

    Offensive totals like runs scored and runs batted in are heavily influenced by the talent of the batters surrounding a particular player in the lineup.

    The milestones a player does or doesn't attain ultimately says a lot about his career.

Single-Season Brilliance

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    Utter dominance—no matter how temporary—is another pre-requisite for Hall of Famers.

    The prospect of induction is a slim for a player who appears on the ballot without any memorable seasons for voters to reminisce about.

    Bob Gibson was carried to Cooperstown by his 1968 season, and Andre Dawson got there because of his 1987 campaign. Perhaps reigning American League Cy Yong Award winner Justin Verlander will sway the writers with his 2011 accomplishments when his time comes many years from now.

    Was ______  __________ better than the vast majority of his peers?

    Eventual inductees always answer this in the affirmative.

Playoff Performance

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    Major League Baseball does its best to make the playoffs a microcosm of the regular season, but let's be honest—it's all about the individuals.

    Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols and Mariano Rivera are all outstanding players who have made themselves sure-fire Hall of Famers through clutch, postseason contributions that have led to World Series championships.

    Getting to October baseball is always a collective effort and excellent players shouldn't be held responsible for the shortcomings of their teammates.

    However, "choking," especially in the face of elimination, cannot be condoned.

Character

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    Character is a very wide conceptual umbrella that encompasses communication skills, leadership, sportsmanship, even performance-enhancing drug use.

    Clever metaphor, huh?

    It has become particularly relevant in recent years as admitted steroid users or those engulfed in clouds of suspicion have begun appearing on the ballot.

    Should players with otherwise Hall of Fame credentials be barred for juicing?

    If there was an intent to cheat, then yes. Also, oblivious drug-takers should not inducted if their substance was banned by Major League Baseball and gave them a significant advantage on the playing field.

    Not any of these criterion independently is enough to convince a writer to give a candidate the HOF nod. These five must be considered in concert during the decision-making.