I didn’t get a chance yet to talk about the National Baseball Hall of Fame voting reforms. The Hall has cut the number of years on the ballot to 10 (from 15), and instituted some minor ballot-integrity measures thanks to a flap in which a writer farmed out his vote to Deadspin.
Analysis from Nate Silver here and Joe Sheehan here. In general, I’m sympathetic to Sheehan’s point that the shorter time frame is appropriate given the enormous changes in the amount of information available to the voters. On the other hand, as one who favors a large Hall, I don’t particularly like anything that makes it harder to get in, as this surely does, even if just a little.
The most importance significance of this rules change, however, is the fact of the change itself. It confirms once again that the Hall has no commitment to consistent rules over the decades; instead, the Hall continues, as it has from the start, to tinker with its rules to (attempt to) achieve the results it wants. Which means, among other things, that if you can figure out the unintended consequence of this reform, then you might be able to predict the next reform; at any rate, the next reform will show up in due time.
I am disappointed that the Hall didn’t fix one unfortunate glitch in its process. The problem is the combination of a 5 percent threshold to remain on the ballot, combined with quite a few writers who believe in only rewarding the best of the best with first-ballot votes. We don’t know, but it’s quite plausible that some long shot but real candidates have been eliminated because writers who supported their induction let them drop off the ballot in the first year.
The Hall should either instruct the writers to cut it out or else endorse it by keeping everyone on the ballot for a second year before the threshold kicks in. Both are viable, and I don’t really care which one it picks. Just pick one.
I have a few other, wackier ideas for Hall voting, but I’ll save those for the winter. Hey, we have pennant races!
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