Barry Larkin will be flying solo into the Hall of Fame. He’ll probably be joined by someone you’ve never heard of courtesy the Veteran’s committee, but for now, it’s all eyes on Barry Larkin. A couple of days ago I was reading an article about the Hall of Fame and it was another statistical analysis, this time talking about career WAR. And, the guy is trying to account for longevity vs. dominance, he’s coming up with a new WAR-like stat and midway through the story I just wanted to give up. Can we go back to the eye-test please? It’s like you’re at a bake sale. You look at the table. What do you want? Occasionally you might get a brownie that looked a lot better than it tasted, but for the most part, you make the right decisions. I think we could do that with the baseball Hall of Fame without all the hand wringing and spreadsheets.
I’ve got nothing new to say on the Hall of Fame. You can read my post from last year and it should sum everything up pretty nicely. Larkin is perhaps the perfect borderline Hall of Famer. And, I mean that while dismissing guys who take 10-15 years to get in. Obviously, Larkin is more deserving than them, but I’d argue they might not be deserving at all. Larkin comes up short of the distinction of “1st Ballot HOF’er,” which the writers invented out of self-importance. Or maybe it was originally out of respect to that 1st class? But, regardless Larkin was not great enough for that honor and in my mind he’s very close to the next cut-off, which is the years of uncertainty that Jack Morris is facing. No, Larkin would be a great test if you only gave these guys 3 years of eligibility. One year to distinguish that special level of greatness, and another for a particularly stellar class, or for the fickleness of the process. That should be it. And, in that case, Larkin probably ends up as a guy who just sneaks through.
I came down against Larkin last year. I feel no real conviction on that point right now, but I also don’t feel compelled to change my mind. You can make arguments either way. It’s not meant as any disrespect. Anyone who is even being debated for the Hall of Fame has had a great career.
It wasn’t such good news this year for Jack Morris and Jeff Bagwell. They’re both edging up, 67 and 56 percent respectively, but a serious dose of talent is on its way in. In a relative down year, this could have been their best chance for a while. The most disappointing number for me is Larry Walker’s 22 percent. I realize my own bias for Walker clouds my opinion, but 22 percent seems criminally low. Not only are his offensive stats being dismissed, but he’s being judged as a one-dimensional player. Walker was a Hall of Fame level defender and base-runner. If he’d played a different position he’d be getting more than 22 percent of the vote based on those skills alone.
This was the last year before the big steroid test. Clemens, Sosa and Bonds become eligible next year. At one point this would have been one of the most celebrated classes of all-time. Now, you don’t know if any of them will get in. I think you have to base their chances on what has happened of late and their careers pre-suspicion. Sosa has no shot. Sorry. If McGwire and Palmeiro can’t get a sniff, Sammy’s not getting in either. And, Bonds is certainly the greater player of the three, but he’s more tarnished than Roger. I don’t know how you keep either out, but I’m sure a message will be sent and at minimum they’ll be forced to wait. The debate should be fascinating. And by fascinating I mean tediously boring.