The Veterans Committee “Modern Baseball” Hall of Fame ballot is out

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The Hall of Fame just announced the nominees for this year’s Veterans Committee ballot. Well, they don’t call it the “Veterans Committee” anymore, but it basically is. It’s now done with an era-system which rotates every year, and this year’s era is the “Modern Baseball” era, covering candidates who made their mark between 1970-1987. Or, at the very least, the biggest part of their mark given that there will always be some overlap.

This year’s candidates, which do not include Lou Whitaker despite the fact that he was better than most of the people on this list:

Steve Garvey
Tommy John
Don Mattingly
Marvin Miller
Jack Morris
Dale Murphy
Dave Parker
Ted Simmons
Luis Tiant
Alan Trammell

Refreshingly, there are no managers or living executives on the list. I say “refreshingly” because those sorts tend to dominate the voting for the Committee Formerly Known as the Veterans Committee. Marvin Miller, the pioneering head of the MLBPA deserved to be inducted years ago but he’s been passed over so many times that believing he’ll get in this time is a pipe dream.

As for the players: all got long looks on the BBWAA ballot during their first round of eligibility, with some like Trammell and Morris lasting 15 years on the thing. Morris came very close and served as a lightning rod for arguments about what a Hall of Famer truly is, with some making a strong statistical case that he was below the typical standards of induction and others arguing, ultimately unsuccessfully, that his reputation as a top starter during his career plus (his fame, basically) plus his Game 7 performance in the 1991 World Series entitled him to induction.

The others all had some sort of knock on their candidacy in one way or another, sometimes fairly and sometimes unfairly.

Garvey was sort of a poor-man’s Morris in some respects in that, during his career, many assumed he’d make the Hall of Fame but, in hindsight, it didn’t look nearly as strong. Mattingly and Murphy had Hall of Fame peaks but had their careers fall off and end abruptly, due to injury in Mattingly’s case and a shockingly quick degrading of skills in Murphy’s. Parker’s production suffered in the middle of his career, due in part to cocaine use.

Tiant and John were seen as good but not great players, rightly or wrongly. Simmons’ value came in statistical categories that weren’t appreciated nearly as much during his career as they would be later, leading him to be underrated. Trammell is superior to many players in the Hall, but had the misfortune of playing in the shadow of two other Hall of Fame shortstops in Cal Ripken Jr. and Ozzie Smith. He likewise got jobbed out of the 1987 MVP trophy, which didn’t help matters.

I’m a big hall guy, so I don’t have much of a problem if borderline cases are elected. I’d even be OK with Morris getting inducted, despite all the arguing against his case I’ve done over the years, mostly because I’m tired of the Veterans Committee (or whatever they call themselves now) being so stingy with elections unless some executive is involved.

If I had a vote, though, I’d vote for Trammell and Miller and I’d scrawl Lou Whitaker’s name all over the ballot as a protest.