How Did Barry Larkin and Hundreds of Players Get Better After They Retired?

by on October 1st, 2010
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The Hall of Fame has become a joke. Both the Baseball Writer’s Association of America 2012 players list and the Veterans Committee ballot don’t contain a single player that was an all-time great.

Barry Larkin appears to be the favorite to be voted in this year. It is his third year on the ballot.

If Barry Larkin (and many others) didn’t receive enough votes the first time they were on the ballot, how did they improve so that they increased their chances of being elected?

Did Larkin have great 2010 and 2011 seasons that now enable him to be a Hall of Famer?

Many individuals think that only the greatest of the great should get in the first time and that the other eligible players should wait a few years, which is ridiculous. A player is either a Hall of Famer or he isn’t.

It doesn’t take more than once to decide. If five years after a player retires isn’t enough time to gain perspective, increase the waiting time.

No player was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1950. The top players on the ballot are all in the Hall of Fame. They are considered among the greatest of the great.

1950

Name Votes PCT

Mel Ott 115 68.45

Bill Terry 105 62.5

Jimmie Foxx 103 61.31

Paul Waner 95 56.55

Al Simmons 90 53.57

Harry Heilmann 87 51.79

Dizzy Dean 85 50.6

Bill Dickey 78 46.43

Joe DiMaggio retired in 1951. The rule was that a player became eligible to be listed on the ballot after one year of retirement, which means DiMaggio was eligible in 1953. He didn’t make it.

Nineteen fifty four graphically illustrated the idiocy, incompetence, bias or all three of the rules and possibly some of the voters. Here are the results.

1954

Name Votes PCT

Rabbit Maranville 209 82.94

Bill Dickey 202 80.16

Bill Terry 195 77.38

Joe DiMaggio 175 69.44

Ted Lyons 170 67.46

Dazzy Vance 158 62.7

Gabby Hartnett 151 59.92

Hank Greenberg 97 38.49

Joe Cronin 85 33.73

Rabbit Maranville was a shortstop, primarily but not exclusively for the Boston Braves. He batted .258/.318/.340. Over about 23 seasons, his WAR was 38.2, although in 1953, the voters didn’t know it.

Shortstop Joe Cronin played for the Washington Senators and Boston Red Sox from 1926-45 as a regular. He batted .301/.390/.468. His WAR was 62.5.

Maranville was a better defensive player than Cronin, but Cronin’s offense greatly overshadowed Maranville’s.

How could Maranville receive 82.94 percent of the vote while Cronin, who was elected in 1956, receive a mere 33.73 percent?

There was a “back up” of great players from baseball’s early days, which partially explains why some players had to “wait their turns,” but that changes nothing.

To modify an old example of absolutism, a player is either a Hall of Famer or he isn’t. As Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about pornography, “I know it when I see it”

Fans know a Hall of Famer when they see him.


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