Friday, December 3, 2021

Hall of Fame Veterans' Committee Vote: What are the Odds?

 In an offseason that has been momentarily expunged of actual offseason activity, the eyes of baseball fandom must shift to the BBWAA, a rare baseball organization that can still talk about individual players right now, and their upcoming Veterans Committee vote. Unlike previous ones, where they'll put up maybe 10 contemporary figures that deserve to get in and the boring executive is the one that does [Bud Selig! Yeah! That's the ticket!], this is a Veterans vote from the Golden Days committee, a committee that seems most familiar with Panic! at the Disco bangers, but also with 50s and 60s-era heroes. 

Seeing as I'm not quite sure what the hell's gonna happen with the actual HOF vote, as we may have another year of nobody getting in, or even someone infuriating getting in, I figured I'd weigh the cases of the 10 Golden Days HOF candidates, and present odds of them getting in this year. 

Dick Allen: A few years ago I may not have said yes to this one, but the HOF case has become clearer over time for Dick Allen. First of all, he's a Philadelphia sports legend, and a black trailblazer in a city that has never responded particularly well to black sports heroes. His material in the 60s, and even in the early 70s, is worthy of some of the best hard-hitting seasons in the sport's history. And his sort of traveling era of his career marked the beginnings of the conversation of free agency, as he and Curt Flood represented the sort of stubbornness and player-friendly ideology that would completely alter the game as it went on. I do think that, like Ron Santo, Allen's HOF case has been cemented by his recent passing, but part of me thinks he'd be getting in either way.
Odds of 2022 Induction: 2 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: Even
Team of Induction: Philadelphia Phillies

Ken Boyer: So, on one 62 WAR, an MVP in 1964, 5 seasons with a 6 WAR and over, 11 time All Star thanks to the early 60's biannual ASGs, and legendary status in St. Louis. But what's gonna hold Ken Boyer back is his lack of household name status, and how he sort of falls into Hall of Very Good status, especially by Baseball Reference's statistical terminology. In all four HOF-measuring stats, he comes short. While he was a great player, and a 60s star, I don't know if he's a Hall of Famer, cause I don't know if he means much to the story of baseball. Then again, neither does Harold Baines, so what do I know.
Odds of 2022 Induction: 10 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: 8 to 1
Team of Induction: St. Louis Cardinals

Gil Hodges: My usual reaction to reading Gil Hodges' stats is 'he wasn't in already?'. 370 career homers, 7 straight 100+ RBI seasons, 2 rings, 8 ASG appearances, and he got up to 63% on his last HOF ballot. He also won the Mets' first World Series ring as their manager, and is one of the most well-loved hitters in Brooklyn Dodgers history. So far, the Hall of Fame's coverage of the Brooklyn Dodgers, especially the bums teams, is a little slim, with only the highlights, like Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese and Roy Campanella. Hodges should be in, Johnny Podres should be in, maybe even someone else like Carl Erskine or Carl Furillo. But Hodges should be a no-brainer for this one.
Odds of 2022 Induction: 3 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: Even
Team of Induction: Brooklyn Dodgers

Jim Kaat: No. Forget the controversy he got tied up in earlier this year with his Japanese accent. He's just never really statistically wowed me, other than being a solid hitting pitcher. 
Odds of 2022 Induction: 25 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: 20 to 1
Team of Induction: Minnesota Twins

Roger Maris: Here I am conflicted. On one hand, you cannot tell the story of baseball without Roger Maris and his 1961 season. On the other hand, Roger Maris' career output comes down to maybe four seasons. 1959 to 1962, where he's healthy, he's hitting, and he's an integral part of these A's and Yankees teams. Other than that he's either not a huge piece of teams, he's injured, or he's aging and ineffective. He played 12 seasons and maybe 5 of them were elite. That's not the kind of ratio that gets people into the Hall of Fame unless there are Negro League stats behind it. Simply put, Roger Maris is famous for one season, and the rest is fairly standard baseball stuff.
Odds of 2022 Induction: 16 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: 13 to 1
Team of Induction: New York Yankees

Minnie Miñoso: Other than Hodges, Miñoso may be the surest bet on here. First of all, using Negro Leagues stats actually helps Miñoso, as it gets him over the 2000 hit mark, and cements his prime early years. But also, Miñoso's HOF case has been around for years, and people just haven't been convinced until the full statistical revolution, where we can see how insane his hitting numbers were for years, and we can see just how many wins he was responsible for in Chicago. Miñoso is not only a Cuban trailblazer in the majors, but he was just an insane contact hitter for some great White Sox teams that have never really been respected by the HOF. I think he definitely gets in this year.
Odds of 2022 Induction: Even
Odds of Eventual Induction: Definite
Team of Induction: Chicago White Sox

Danny Murtaugh: The sole manager on here. I think Murtaugh's accomplishments speak for themselves, and I think his stuff in the 60s and 70s Pirates teams are one of the main reasons why they were so good for so long. Only thing is I count maybe 4 guys on this ballot that have more of a case than him, and I think he's gonna be the guy that gets lost in the shuffle. I'm not saying he has no case, he definitely has one, and on a sparser ballot maybe he'd get in. But I don't think it's gonna be this year. As far as 60's managers go, he's high up, but not the highest.
Odds of 2022 Induction: 11 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: 7 to 1
Team of Induction: Pittsburgh Pirates

Tony Oliva: My dad thinks that of everybody, Tony Oliva has the best case here. Even Hodges. I don't think he's wrong per se about Oliva having a case: A rookie of the year, an ASG appearance every year from '64 to '71, 5 years leading the league in hits with 2 years over 200, 7 years with a .300+ average with 3 league-leading finishes, and statistical markings that align him with several Hall of Fame contact hitters of his class. Oliva should be in, he and Carew made for some insane contact-hitting energy in the late 60s and early 70s, and even though he had the shorter career, he had some truly insane hitting numbers that really should be commemorated. The only thing is I'm hearing his name less than Hodges's, Miñoso's and Allen's in these conversations, and I'm worried he may get overlooked. I do think he's gonna get a lot of support, but will it be a majority? Perhaps barely.
Odds of 2022 Induction: 4 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: Even
Team of Induction: Minnesota Twins

Billy Pierce: Aside from Boyer, maybe the most obscure name on here. I learned about him through the Baseball Hall of Shame books, in there for being traded for one-dimensional catcher Aaron Robinson, giving the Tigers the soggier end of the deal while the White Sox got 13 seasons of solid mound work, with a 186-152 overall record, a 3.19 ERA and 1796 Ks as a White Sock. Pierce seems like the type of pitcher similar to Bert Blyleven or Jack Morris, who's just a workhorse for 15 years and doesn't get the credit others do because he doesn't have as many big seasons or moments. Pierce was a perfectly strong and consistent pitcher, he just doesn't have the exclamation point. Also, with Miñoso probably getting in this year, do we need another year where the Veterans committee inducts two White Sox? And this time I don't think we even have Tony LaRussa to meddle with things. Pierce was a great player but I don't think he fits into this HOF schematic.
Odds of 2022 Induction: 10 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: 9 to 1
Team of Induction: Chicago White Sox

Maury Wills: Like Roger Maris, Maury Wills comes down to a few strong years in the early 60s and not much else. It's very clear how impressive of a base stealer Wills was with the Dodgers, but looking over his batting stats from that period, we've got a lot of negative totals. We're really electing Wills just for his base-stealing, even when other career base-stealers like Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock are in with much better batting numbers. Wills doesn't really have enough dimensions to be a Hall of Famer, at least to me. Great player, had some great seasons with LA and Pittsburgh, but I don't think he's got a shot this year.
Odds of 2022 Induction: 15 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: 19 to 1
Team of Induction: Los Angeles Dodgers

I could be wrong on a lot of these, I could have the entire thing backwards. Maybe nobody gets in, and we have another year with 8 or 9 new Negro League inductees [which...isn't a BAD thing, it's just a little anticlimactic for the modern baseball fan]. I didn't write about the Early Days candidates because I don't know enough about them. Maybe the inductees come from there. But...I do have a feeling that 3 or 4 people from this ballot will get in, and I'm thinking it'll be Miñoso, Hodges, Allen and possibly Oliva. Maybe somebody else. I just think there's a lot of missed opportunities in this ballot, and they a lot of them are gonna be mended.

Now, stay tuned for a very confused, frustrated 2022 HOF ballot in January. 


  1. I'm hopeful we see at least 3 get in from this and 1-2 more from the Early Days. I think there are enough that are deserving.

  2. Unfortunately, the format of the voting for these small committee ballots makes it tough for more than a couple of people to get in (primarily because the limited amount of votes permitted combined with the relative strength of most VC ballots makes it fairly easy for someone to get left off of 5 of 16 ballots).

    That said, I agree with the notion that their has been a push for both Dick Allen and Minnie Miñoso, with this duo easily being by top two from this group. I think that the Hodges boat might have sailed as the Brooklyn-nostalgic voters age out of the process, although I wouldn't be opposed to his selection as a "full career achievements" pick rather than just a player. Boyer and Kaat are right around the cut line for me, with Oliva and Pierce below that due to their short peaks. Maris had two great years (folks tend to forget 1960) and was otherwise just decent, while the infatuation with Wills (plus Allie Reynolds on the other ballot) has always baffled me. I can't distinguish Murtaugh from around 10 other managers with similar careers, so I'd pass on him, too.

    1. my dad likes to make the case of 'can you tell the story of baseball without this person'. Certainly can't in Minoso and Allen's case. Hodges managed the 69 Mets and was a power bat on the most incredible team in baseball history. That seals it for me.

    2. I think that's a fair point and, having grown up a Mets fan, I used to advocate pretty hard for Hodges. It wasn't until later that I saw that his post-playing career was shorter than I'd known, which makes the statistical element (even with a WS title) less than I'd thought. Dusty Baker may have already trended into eventual induction as a manager-primary, but, if not, I'd be cool with guys like him and Hodges getting in for their overall impact. They would certainly fit in just fine rather than stand out the way that Harold Baines (or Tommy McCarthy or Lloyd Waner or...) does.