This is turning into about the smallest Hall possible. With two ballots and 64 names, just 10 players crossed the 75% threshold. Interestingly, the first ballot, which I felt was weaker, had 6 members elected and the second ballot had 4. But the strength of the ballot is less important than the widely agreed upon Hall of Famers and I suppose it’s hard to argue the first didn’t win in that department.
It’s not clear if this is a stingy group who actually believes in a small Hall or if this is a recency or name recognition group. Maybe this isn’t the best group to make this point, but whenever I’m surprised a guy made it relatively easy, the answer is usually either “he played recently” or “he’s extremely well-known.”
I thought Barry Larkin (87.7%) would have more trouble than he did. Admittedly I compared him to Derek Jeter, which was both completely accurate and probably influenced a few voters, but he also played recently. I didn’t necessarily think Willie Stargell (86.7%) would have issues, but.... he’s a lot less obvious a Hall of Famer than you’d think. Like, most comparable players to him by WAR in this feature didn’t make this Hall. My rule of thumb - and it’s not a hard rule - is I like my Hall of Famers to have 5+ WAR in at last five seasons and he doesn’t do that by either metric.
A word of silence for Dizzy Trout, Carney Lansford, Doug DeCinces, Lee Meadows and Bob O’Farrell, all good players during their time who failed to receive a single vote. Players who technically have bragging rights over them who narrowly avoided that fate with one vote are AJ Burnett, Jim Gilliam, Jon Matlack, Frank Viola, Carlos Zambrano, Hank Sauer, and Bob Shawkey.
I am pleasantly surprised by the results of Johnny Mize (95.6%) and Roy Campanella (82.5%). Mize has the benefit of being a Cardinal for the good parts of his career and we’re pretty good about voting them in, but still, the percentage was the surprise. He is a no doubt Hall of Famer and he was voted as one. Campenella I did not expect to make it because his WAR total was low (for a very good reason), but maybe it was the 3 MVPs, maybe it was name recognition, maybe you read the profile, but I appreciate it.
Unfortunately, I feel like Larry Doby (61.4%) was a little disrespected. His career WAR total is a little low, but well I’m pretty sure he’d have made the majors sooner if baseball was integrated just a bit sooner. He was instantly a 135 OPS+ hitter in his debut season at 24. And Jim Bunning got no love and I don’t know why! He was on less than half the ballots. He’s like clearly a Hall of Famer to me. I was surprised name recognition didn’t get Whitey Ford (52.6%) more love, but this one I do understand. His career numbers are weirdly underwhelming.
A few players who managed to crack double digit percentages without ever really standing a chance are Norm Cash (10.5%), Nomar Garciaparra (10.5%), Fred Lynn (17.5%), Rusty Staub (10.5%), David Wells (17.5%), Dave Bancroft (11.1%), Albert Belle (17.8%), Jose Cruz (15.6%), Ernie Lombardi (15.6%), Don Mattingly (17.8%), and Schoolboy Rowe (13.3%). And of course Willie McGee is also in this group, and I’ll say I’m surprised it wasn’t higher so props?
One player I did vote for, and I am not surprised he didn’t do well, was George Uhle. If either Baseball-Reference or Fangraphs combined batting and pitching and made that into one season, well he still wouldn’t make it because he played in 1920s BUT anybody who actually looked at his seasonal totals would probably vote for him. He got 20%. Rafael Palmeiro, another player who is probably a Hall of Famer if you strictly looked at stats, got 40%. And I was probably as surprised as you that Chuck Finley has a legit case for the Hall, and 24% of people thought his case was legit enough to vote him in.
Rounding out the under 10% crowd are Don Baylor, Tommy Bridges, Bert Campaneris, Jim Fregosi, Jason Kendall, Mark Langston, and Sam McDowell on the first ballot. On the second ballot, these players were Spud Chandler, Earle Combs, Carlos Delgado, Toby Harrah, Al Leiter, Edd Roush, Rick Sutcliffe, Doc White, and Matt Williams. Combs and Roush are actual Hall of Famers in real life.
This is not a reliever in the Hall of Fame group, but one name I did not mention was Lindy McDaniel, who should probably be considered for the real Hall, because he has as good of a case, if not better, than any reliever not named Mariano Rivera, Dennis Eckersley (who is half a starter), or Goose Gossage. Or Hoyt Wilhem, who ALMOST became the first reliever to get elected, again non-Rivera division, who was elected on a modern ballot. Wilhelm got 71% of the vote. So far now, this group is Mariano Rivera and nobody else when it comes to relievers.
In the first ballot, I’ve already mentioned Campanella and Larkin getting elected. In addition to those two, Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr., and Ted Williams all received 95% or better. Robin Yount was also voted in with nearly 90% of people voting for him. Only player not mentioned above who didn’t make it was Mickey Lolich with 24% of the vote.
A couple “snubs” I think anyway from the second ballot were Carl Hubbell (67%), and I don’t really know why he didn’t make it. Gabby Hartnett I do know why. He got 62.2% of the vote. Not a snub, but someone in the Hall of Fame was Jack Morris (33.3%), who didn’t get a lot of love. Gil Hodges, also in the real Hall of Fame, got just 26.7%. Tony Oliva is another Hall of Famer who got less than 30%.
On the second ballot, Mize and Stargell made it with Carl Yastrzemski (95.6%) and Chicago Cub Ron Santo (84%).
Now you guys asked for an updated list of VEB Hall of Famers, and I’m here to provide. I’ll go positionally:
SP: Pete Alexander, Bert Blyleven, Dizzy Dean, Don Drysdale, Bob Gibson, Lefty Grove, Roy Halladay (Modern), Fergie Jenkins, Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Greg Maddux, Juan Marichal, Christy Mathewson, Jim Palmer, Gaylord Perry, Eddie Plank, Robin Roberts, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, John Smoltz, Warren Spahn, Cy Young
RP: Mariano Rivera (Modern)
C: Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter, Mike Piazza, Pudge Rodriguez, Ted Simmons
1B: Jeff Bagwell, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Harmon Killebrew, Willie McCovey, Mark McGwire, Eddie Murray, Frank Thomas, Jim Thome
2B: Roberto Alomar, Craig Biggio, Rod Carew, Charlie Gehringer, Rogers Hornsby, Joe Morgan, Lou Whitaker
3B: Home Run Baker, Wade Boggs, Ken Boyer, Chipper Jones, Eddie Mathews, Paul Molitor, Scott Rolen (Modern), Mike Schmidt
SS: Ernie Banks, Lou Boudreau, Derek Jeter (Modern), Barry Larkin, Pee Wee Reese, Cal Ripken Jr., Ozzie Smith, Alan Trammel, Arky Vaughn, Honus Wagner, Robin Yount
OF: Hank Aaron, Lou Brock, Ty Cobb, Andre Dawson, Joe DiMaggio, Jim Edmonds, Ken Griffey Jr., Tony Gwynn, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, Al Kaline, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Joe Medwick, Mel Ott, Tim Raines, Frank Robinson, Babe Ruth, Al Simmons, Larry Walker (Modern), Paul Waner, Billy Williams, Ted Williams
I specified modern because they were voted on differently than most of this group. They were “up to date” selections, voted on in 2019 and 2022, with other modern players. Basically, those ballots mimicked the real life ballots.
There are some names missing. Spoiler alert: Stan Musial has not been on a ballot yet. But there are also probably names missing that just didn’t get chosen. Eddie Collins is probably the most egregious, still don’t really understand how that happened. So I can’t say that if you don’t see a name listed as a Hall of Famer, they’ll be on a future ballot. Because they may have already been on a ballot.
Until next time, possibly during spring training, maybe during the offseason proper if the Cardinals somehow wrap up the offseason early. But now it’s time to focus on the offseason.