Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 10, 2006
BASEBALL: Could Be Better, Could Be Worse
Bruce Sutter makes the Hall of Fame, and four other candidates get over 50% of the vote. As I've said before (see here and here), I'm lukewarm on Sutter as a Hall of Famer, but unable in any way to comprehend how Sutter goes in ahead of Goose Gossage. This chart I've run before shows some of the reasons why (to save time I've excluded Rivera rather than update his numbers):
* - Excludes ill-fated year as a starter
Let's look at the four-year voting trend by percentage of the vote (75% for induction), excluding guys with very low vote totals and guys who went in on the first ballot:
Everyone's numbers were up this year, as this was the weakest top of the ballot in years (next year, with Ripken, Gwynn and McGwire, will be different). You can go down the sidebar or use the search tool to get my take on the merits of most of these guys' candidacies, albeit in some cases written as long as five years ago. Some observations on the voting trends:
*The guys from John on down just aren't making it.
*Blyleven has gained serious momentum with each year, and this year's addition of a new Bill James study on his side has to help. I think he'll make it, and it will be some time before a better starting pitcher is on the ballot (Bret Saberhagen is by far the best starter entering the ballot over the next four years; the next people in Bert's class or better are all active, those being Clemens, Maddux, Randy Johnson, Glavine, Pedro and Mussina, of whom only Clemens might not return in 2007).
*The Goose, I think, will get in next year - not only is he close to 2/3, but with Sutter and Eckersley in, the case by analogy will grow much stronger.
*Rice and Dawson remain on the bubble. Both may be helped by the perception among sportswriters - sure to grow next year with McGwire on the ballot - that these guys were the last generation of non-steroid-using sluggers. I can hope the writers come to their senses on Dawson, but you never know. I don't think they get past 2007's crowded ballot, though.
*The analogy argument may also help Lee Smith once the Goose gets in, but if Rivera, Trevor Hoffman or someone else takes Smith off the career saves lead before he gets in, he's toast.
*Morris will have to wait in line behind Blyleven, but also benefits from a shortage of new starting pitcher candidates. The odds seem against him but he's not out of the game yet.