Why do writers vote on the Hall of Fame again?

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Usually people answer this by saying that they’re the best option we have.  Tim Marchman writes in the Wall Street Journal, however, that there is no particular reason to believe so:

The worst element, though, is that the writers debating all of this have the franchise even though there’s no real reason for them to have it: They have no special knowledge of the game relative to anyone else, and they’ve never done a good job.

The first point here, that writers know little more than anyone else, shouldn’t be especially controversial. The voters are (theoretically) good at writing about baseball, which has no obvious connection to assessing what players’ legacies mean within the broad context of 160 years of history. No one who wanted to know who the most important presidents of all time were would think to poll political reporters rather than historians or the public. Why do the same in baseball?

Fair enough point, though I’m still left with the idea that writers having the vote is the least worst option. Marchman’s suggestion — giving over the vote to the public — strikes me was worse than keeping it with the writers. Even among your friends who follow baseball quite a bit, aren’t you often amazed at how limited their grasp of baseball history is?

My brother was here over the holidays. He started watching baseball when I did and, though he’s more of a hockey fan these days, he still keeps generally apprised of what’s going on in the game. One day when he was here I had to explain to him why Nolan Ryan was not the greatest pitcher in the history of baseball. He wasn’t really buying my arguments. He was, however, buying the hype and legend-making that accompanied the latter part of Ryan’s career. I think that would be pretty common with a public vote for the Hall of Fame. The “fame” part would pretty much take over the process.

I do agree with Marchman that those who vote for the Hall of Fame aren’t automatically qualified simply because they happened to write about the game for a bit, but I think the solution to that is to simply do better at choosing the pool of writers who vote rather than take it away from them entirely.

Twins designate Phil Hughes for assignment

AP Photo/Ron Schwane
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Phil Hughes was officially designated for assignment by the Twins on Tuesday, the culmination of multiple injury-plagued seasons and poor performance.

Things couldn’t have started out much better for Hughes in Minnesota. The former Yankees hurler joined the Twins on a three-year, $24 million contract in December of 2013 and reeled off a 3.52 ERA over 32 starts during his first season with the club. He set the MLB record (which still stands, by the way) for single season strikeout-to-walk ratio and even received some downballot Cy Young Award consideration. The big year resulted in the two sides ripping up their previous agreement with a new five-year, $58 million deal, but it was all downhill after that.

Hughes took a step back with a 4.40 ERA in 2015 and struggled with a 5.95 ERA over 11 starts and one relief appearance in 2016 before undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. He wasn’t any better upon his return last year, putting up a 5.87 ERA in nine starts and five relief appearances. Hughes missed time with a biceps issue and required a thoracic outlet revision surgery in August. He began this year on the disabled list with an oblique injury, only to put up a 6.75 ERA over two starts and five relief appearances before the Twins decided to turn the page this week.

Hughes is still owed the remainder of his $13.2 million salary for this year and another $13.2 million next year. The deal didn’t work out as anyone would have hoped, but unfortunately this is another case of health just not cooperating.