MLB Hall of Fame: Why MLB Needs to Tear It Down and Start Over

Jacob SmallContributor IIIJuly 19, 2011

COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 24:  The Baseball Hall Of Fame and Museum is seen during induction weekend on July 24, 2010 in Cooperstown, New York.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The National Baseball Hall of Fame has become a temple to hypocrisy. Undeserving players are permanently enshrined, deserving players being left out and admitted and known cheaters are scattered throughout.

The problems have become so bad that we are left with no choice but to tear down the Hall of Fame and start over.

The table below lists five Hall of Famers and five players who aren't in Cooperstown. 

Rick Ferrell Y C 18 1884 .281 .378 .363 95
Phil Rizzuto Y SS 13 1661 .273 .351 .355 93
Lloyd Waner Y CF 18 1993 .316 .363 .393 99
Red Schoendienst Y 2B 19 2216 .289 .337 .387 94
Joe Tinker Y SS 15 1806 .262 .308 .353 96
Dick Allen N 1B 15 1749 .292 .378 .534 156
Tim Raines N LF 23 2502 .294 .385 .425 123
Larry Walker N RF 17 1988 .313 .400 .565 140
Sherry Magee N LF  16 2087 .291 .364 .427 136
Vern Stephens N SS 15 1720 .286 .355 .460 119

Who would you rather have, a below average hitting shortstop or right fielder who is a much better hitter than average? The Hall unfairly favors players who played on good teams, at tougher positions, who were colorful characters.

Take the cases of Phil Rizzuto and Dick Allen.

In his career Rizzuto hit .273 with an OPS+ of 93. He hit 38 career home runs, which has been done in a single season 405 times. Fortunately for Rizzuto, he won nine pennants and seven World Series in 13 seasons with the Yankees.

He played shortstop, and went on to have a very famous broadcasting career, known best by his catch-phrase "holy cow."

Compare him to Dick Allen. Allen hit .292 with an OPS+ of 156. He hit 351 home runs and managed to fill in at first base, third base, left field and even middle infield in a pinch, although none of them with any real skill.

Unfortunately for him, he didn't reach the playoffs until 1976, when he had been reduced to a part time player. In that series his Phillies were swept by the eventual champion Reds. He primarily played first base, and not particularly well, so he didn't contribute with his glove. Allen was also known for attitude issues.

But when you look at their careers as a whole, it becomes clear that Allen was easily the better player. OPS+? Allen leads, 156 to 93. Batting average? Allen, .292 to .272. Home runs? 351 to 38, Allen. There is not a single batting category that Rizzuto beats Allen in except steals, where Rizzuto leads by a slight margin.

Yes, Rizzuto was a better fielder, but in all realism the difference between a average hitter and great hitter is much more significant than an average fielder and great fielder, and Rizzuto was far from a great fielder.  He was above average and Allen was below average.

The inconsistencies extend to the front office as well. One of the executives enshrined is Morgan Bulkeley, who was involved in baseball for a total of three years from 1874 to 1876. In 1874 he founded a Hartford-based team that finished seventh in the eight team National Association, the predecessor to the National League.

In 1875 his team finished third, 18.5 games out of first place. In 1876 Bulkeley became the president of the new National League, in which his team finished third again. After that season he left baseball. That's all he did, and he's in the Hall of Fame. By those standards all 15 NL presidents and seven AL presidents should be in Cooperstown. So should just about everyone else.

The Hall of Fame also has major inconsistencies when it comes to electing people of questionable character.

Take the case of Gaylord Perry who broke into the majors 42 years after the spitball was banned, but threw it and even wrote a confessional autobiography about it mid-career. Despite openly admitting to cheating, he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991.

Meanwhile Pete Rose bet on his team when he was a manager, but was banned from baseball. Which is a worse, throwing an illegal pitch for an entire career or betting that your team would would win?

If he had bet against his team it would be a different story.  But he didn't. Pete Rose bet his team would win. I'm not saying Pete Rose's actions were admirable, or that we shouldn't view betting on baseball negative thing, but am merely pointing out the hypocrisy in the two situations.

So what should we do with a  Hall of Fame that is filled with undeserving players and double standards?

Start over.

In an ideal world we could just tear it down and build a new one.  But many, especially the Hall of Famers, would not be thrilled with the idea. So what I propose would be to build a new rival Hall of Fame elsewhere.

The Hall was built on the lie that baseball was founded in Cooperstown, so it should be somewhere else. Two possibilities would be Pittsfield, Massachusetts, which is home to the earliest reference to baseball in America, or Hoboken, New Jersey home to the first officially recorded game. It should not be in any teams backyard.  A Hall of Fame should be in neutral territory.

Next, we need a new method of selecting players. I would propose admission being half decided by statistics, and half by a vote.

Most people can agree that statistics cannot tell the entire story, but it can definitely tell most of it. It should be a formula carefully devised by the greatest baseball statisticians, and can be amended when needed.

The voting process should also be revised. The writers should still have a say, but managers and executives and umpires should also get to help decide. The writers have long shown that they are unable to make informed decisions, and their role in player selection should be diminished.

Hopefully the new Hall of Fame would slowly grow in popularity until it overtook the old one.

The Hall of Fame has become irreparable. The only solution to truly create a fair Baseball Hall of Fame is to tear down the old one and start over.


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