The Coleumn: How can we fix the Baseball Hall of Fame voting process? 

0
97

This past Tuesday, the 2022 Baseball Hall of Fame class was announced. On a ballot that featured Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and Alex Rodriguez, only David Ortiz got elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. That’s less than the number of selections Sports Editor Jon Synott selected on his ballot

The current rules for election are okay. You need 75% of the writers to select your name and you have 10 years to be elected. If you do not get in after 10 tries, your name falls off the ballot. If you appear on less than 5% of the votes, then you will fall off the ballot.  

As a lifelong baseball fan, the process to get elected to the Hall of Fame needs to change. Here is how I think the process can be fixed so that more players can get elected in future years. 

Set a minimum and maximum as to how many people get elected in each class 

One thing I like about the Pro Football and Hockey Hall of Fame is that they set limits on how many people can get inducted per year. In football, it is four to eight people including senior finalists. In hockey, it is four male players, two female players, two builders and/or one referee. They average around four to five inductees a year. Basketball has several different committees and doesn’t let the people know until the actual announcement of the Hall of Fame class. 

With baseball, there is no limit because of the BBWA and the way their process works. Since so many players have yet to enter the Hall, I was thinking that a minimum of two players on the BBWA ballot should get selected a year, or, at most, eight on a BBWA ballot. The era committees were left off here because their process is a little different. 

Expand the maximum years of consideration back to 15 

There was a time when a player spent 15 years on the ballot. That is what allowed Hall of Famers such as Bert Blyleven, Bruce Sutter and Jim Rice to get in. It just feels weird seeing the number of years spent on the ballot was cut down to 10. As players like Bonds and Clemens reach their tenth ballot, the process feels rushed. 

By expanding it back to 15, it gives the BBWA more time to consider certain names not considered earlier. Almost like the rule change minimizing the years to 10, people on the ballot would be considered for at most 15 years. 

Require writers to vote for at least two people 

Blank ballots are bad for baseball. They were a leading cause as to why no one got in for the 2021 Hall of Fame class and they may have played a part in the 2022 class. There were at least five worthy names that could have been selected, yet some people decided to select no one. 

This hurts the people who have been on the ballot for five or more years such as Billy Wagner. By requiring the writers to vote for two people, it gives everyone on the ballot a fighting chance to not only be selected, but to stay on the ballot for years to come. 

Reduce the percent of votes needed to get in 

Seventy-five percent is still a competitive mark, but with the amount of people not in the Hall of Fame, I would suggest cutting down that number so more people could join the ranks of legends.  

If the number were between 60-70%, then the amount of people who could get in per year would increase tremendously (i.e., four people get in this year under those rules). It would feel weird, but it could profoundly change the way people look at the game. 

Decrease the cutoff to 2.5% 

Over the last decade, there have been several names removed from the ballot due to lack of votes, whether they were outright disrespected or in a competitive class. Use Kenny Lofton or Tim Lincecum, who spent one year on the ballot, as examples. If they had more votes, then there’s a chance he could have been on the ballot until at least this year. 

By decreasing the cutoff, it gives those players that got disrespected the chance to gain more votes towards their Hall of Fame campaign. For this, I would suggest shrinking the number down to 2.5% since it provides more leeway for the players and writers to work with. 

Have the fans vote 

This is a great way to grow the game. Instead of listing everyone on the ballot, take the Pro Football Hall of Fame approach and have the fans vote on the players. The final decision should still be made by the writers, but by having the fans decide who they want to see in the Hall of Fame, it gives the writers something to consider as they make their balloting decisions. 

The voting should last three rounds. The preliminary round would involve all the eligible players, including those on last year’s ballot, and fans would be given a month to vote on who they want to advance. After a semifinal round that involves at most 25 players, the 15 finalists, the top 15 vote-getters by the fans, would get presented to the writers, who would then have a month to decide who gets inducted. A player would only not be considered after at most five to eight tries on the finalist ballot. 

Leave out the controversies 

It’s the Hall of Fame (and career statistics), not the Hall of Reputation.  

All these useful ideas are just one of many ways to help grow the game by inducting a person’s favorite player and inspires the next generation of baseball fans. By making these changes, we’re building the Hall of Fame election process to be better for all of baseball. 

Leave a Reply