Lou Whitaker snub proves Hall of Fame a mere formality

Today the ballot was released for MLB’s Modern Era Ballot Hall of Fame candidate list. There were 10 names on the list; nine former players and one executive. Former Detroit Tigers Alan Trammell and Jack Morris were among the names included. The Modern Era committee will then cast their votes, with a candidate having to appear on 75% of the voter’s ballots or else they fall off. This Modern Era Committee has replaced the Veteran’s Committee in recent years.

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The Hall of Fame is an honor that is well earned. Usually, we equate the Hall of Fame with greatness or with the best players of their time. But, if you look at the actual rules of induction, it is solely based on the Baseball Writers Association of America writers votes. If a player fails to garner enough percentage of the vote, they are removed from consideration. If a player is on the ballot for more than ten years they are removed as well.

But, the question must be asked, with such a subjective system for entry, why is there a removal from the ballot? If a guy was sideways with the media, they don’t get into the Hall? I thought it was based on merit, but apparently, it’s not based on what happened between the white lines of the ball field, but what was said in between the sidewalls of a locker back in the clubhouse.

Alright, to be fair, they usually get it right. But the keyword is usually. I will present four players to you, focusing on their on-field performance. Three are Hall of Famers, one is not–and was left off the list today.

Career Numbers:

Player Games Avg OBP Slugging % Hits HR RBI Def. WAR Career WAR
A 2,390 .276 .363 .426 2,369 244 1,084 15.4 74.9
B 2,649 .271 .392 .427 2,517 268 1,133 3.3 100.3
C 2,164 .285 .344 .452 2,386 282 1,061 12.8 67.5
D 2,379 .300 .371 .443 2,724 210 1,134 2.4 66.8

All Stats via Baseball-Reference

Awards and Accolades: 

Player World Series wins All-Star Games Gold Gloves Silver Slugger MVP Rookie of the Year
A 1 5 3 4 1983 (8th place) 1978
B 2 10 5 1 2
C 10 9 7 1
D 2 12 10 4 1999 (3rd place)

 

The empirical evidence proves that these four players are very similar in nature. So, why then would only three of them make the Hall of Fame and not the fourth? In fact, if the Hall is supposed to be the best of the best, and these other three are–that’s not the argument–then why is the other not included?

The four players?

Player Games Avg OBP Slugging % Hits HR RBI Def. WAR Career WAR
Lou Whitaker 2,390 .276 .363 .426 2,369 244 1,084 15.4 74.9
Joe Morgan 2,649 .271 .392 .427 2,517 268 1,133 3.3 100.3
Ryne Sandberg 2,164 .285 .344 .452 2,386 282 1,061 12.8 67.5
Roberto Alomar 2,379 .300 .371 .443 2,724 210 1,134 2.4 66.8

 

What is it about Lou Whitaker that keeps him from being named among the elite of the game? His performance on the field? See above. Did he not buddy up to reporters enough? If so, then the Hall of Fame is nothing but a good ole boys club and a system of favoritism–nothing but a mere formality.

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Maybe it’s time we look at how the best of our game are treated and considered to be the greatest? The criteria for induction the Hall of Fame–the highest honor for a baseball player–should rest on nothing more than their performance on the field. The Baseball Writers Association of America should re-think their strategy and should rectify this egregious mistake they’ve made. How could we trust them otherwise?