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32 players elected to VEB Hall of Fame

A few Cardinals were elected

St. Louis Cardinals v New York Mets Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

I started the Hall of Fame vote because it sounded like a fun thing to do and the MLB lockout was making it hard to come up with things to write about since there was no new “news.” And apparently, I only do this when it’s bad news, because I thought there’d be a lack of things to write about with the MLB playoffs occurring and the Cardinals not in it. Little did I know of the coaching changes that were going to happen. Nonetheless, we have a new slate of Hall of Famers as chosen by the VEB readers.

First things first: I’m going to address probably the worst ballot of the eleven we’ve had so far, which was the second in this feature. Just six guys made the Hall of Fame. Kind of an odd group. If I told you who was on the ballot and told you to guess which six guys made it, I guarantee you would not guess the correct six guys. Guarantee. It’s fascinating.

Eddie Collins, with over 100 WAR by both sites, did not get voted in. Easily the biggest miss of any ballot thus far and it will probably remain that way. Don’t know what happened here. He got 71.9% of the vote. Hank Greenberg (70.2%) is also a pretty bad miss. You guys caught when I said he missed three seasons of his career to the war right? Luke Appling didn’t make it. Sam Crawford didn’t make it. Both have over 70 WAR by both sites.

Besides name recognition, what separates Tony Gwynn, Rod Carew, and Harry Heilmann. Because by the numbers, it’s not really anything. But the first two had nearly 100%, the latter failed to get into the Hall (55.2%). I mean I do know what’s going on here. For whatever reason, the early 1900s guys are just not getting votes from a certain segment of voters. Rube Waddell and Ed Walsh also fell well short in that first ballot.

In the first ballot, Jim Edmonds... did make the Hall. He kind of snuck through with 79.3% of the vote. Chick Hafey fell way short with just 12% of the vote. Andy Van Slyke and Troy Percival both got less than 10%. Hall of Famers who fell short on this ballot were Don Sutton (66.5%), Luis Aparacio (46.6%), Bob Lemon (15.5%), Heilmann, Waddell, and Walsh. Dwight Gooden was the only other player to receive over 20% who didn’t make it.

In the second ballot, Ozzie Smith got inducted with 94.7% of the vote. Shocking that’s not higher actually, given the site this is on. Bruce Sutter only got 61.4% of the vote. Orlando Cepeda only got 36.8% of the vote. Actual Hall of Famer Roger Bresnahan only got 7% of the vote. And poor Ed Konetchy didn’t get a single vote. Other Hall of Famers who fell short were Bill Mazeroski (12.3%), Vic Willis (26.3%), Bobby Wallace (45.6%), Rollie Fingers (54.4%), Crawford, Sutter, Appling, Greenberg, and inexplicably Collins. Buddy Bell (31.6%) was the only other player with over 20% to make it.

In the third ballot, Enos Slaughter did not receive enough votes to make it, with just 60.8%. Burleigh Grimes received just 23.5%. And those were the only Cardinals. Hall of Famers who didn’t make it were Trevor Hoffman (66.7%), Hack Wilson (37.3%), Nellie Fox (27.5%), Pie Traynor (19.6%), Rube Marquard (5.9%), Herb Pennock (5.9%), Grimes, and Slaughter. Graig Nettles received 49% of the vote, and Brett Saberhagen received 39.2%.

In the last ballot, Joe Medwick made it with 80%, which is certainly interesting in comparison to the votes Slaughter got. Roger Maris got 38.2% of the vote. Chris Carpenter got 23.6% of the vote. Hall of Famers who fell short were Minnie Miñoso (63.6%), Lefty Gomez (43.6%), Ted Lyons (25.5%), Tony Lazzeri (12.7%), and Freddie Lindstrom (1.8%). Kenny Lofton came close (70.9%) and he was the only one above 20% who hasn’t been mentioned yet.

In the first seven ballots, there were four players who received 100%, all yeses. In the most recent four ballots, we’ve added three players. Greg Maddux, Cy Young, and Ty Cobb all got unanimous votes. Missing by one vote was Nolan Ryan, Tony Gwynn, and Rod Carew. It’s interesting who is perceived as an obvious Hall of Famer in this exercise. Carew and Gwynn are for sure Hall of Famers, but guys with their WAR totals are not approaching their vote totals, like not even close. There’s a perception thing here.

The next tier - wasn’t on a few ballots, but well over 90% - features Mickey Mantle, Wade Boggs, Harmon Killebrew, Jimmie Foxx, Frank Robinson, Tom Seaver, and the already mentioned Smith. Rounding out the over 90% crowd is Eddie Murray, Jim Thome, Lefty Grove, Eddie Mathews, and for some reason Christy Mathewson was also barely over 90%. Would have thought he was in that Ty Cobb stage of name recognition but apparently not.

Barely missing 90% is Reggie Jackson and Jim Palmer is sort of by himself with 87.9%. Then we jump down to the low 80s, led by Bert Blyleven, who needed 13 less tries to make this Hall of Fame. Ferguson Jenkins, Alan Trammel, Jeff Bagwell, Don Drysdale, and Juan Marichal made it. Marichal and Drysdale are interesting specifically because they were in that second ballot where barely anybody made it. They had the 12th and 13th highest WARs on that ballot, but were two of the six people inducted. Not criticizing their selections, just weird how they avoided the fate of Collins or Greenberg. Or Crawford. Or Wallace. Or Appling. Seriously what happened on this ballot guys?

With exactly 80% is Robin Roberts, as well as the already mentioned Medwick. Edmonds is just a shade under that. Tim Raines made it on his first try with 77.6% of the vote. Home Run Baker made it, which just shocks me given how every other Deadball era guy doesn’t seem to make it who isn’t a household name still. If he didn’t get the Home Run nickname, he would not have made it I guarantee. Paul Waner also made the Hall.

Unless I’m mistaken, the VEB group voted in 32 Hall of Famers, only one of whom isn’t already in the Hall of Fame, which is Edmonds. That’s now 88 Hall of Famers in total.

Going forward, we do not have many ballots left. There are just 130 players left to vote on in the modern era, plus about two ballots worth of 1800 players. Curious and hoping that if I were to put all 1800 guys on the same ballot, the voting might work out differently. No chance whatsoever they would ever stand a chance of making this Hall of Fame with modern era players. At all.

In fact, if I do a second round of this, I’ll probably group it by era, because there’s a clear, clear bias towards more recent players. The more removed from modern day, the lower the vote total is and the only people who escape it are the names most casual baseball fans still know. So we’ll see. My current plan is to throw up a historical ballot in the same week I do a 2023 ballot, and then finish the modern era guys sometime in spring training, which will take about three ballots. Stay tuned.