Adam's Blog: Hall of Fame Blame Game - 01/09/13
As you know by now, former Houston Astros second baseman Craig Biggio was denied entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame Wednesday - his first time on the ballot. The Baseball Writers association of America, the organization charged with voting players into the Hall, elected nobody to the class of 2013. This hasn't happened since 1996.
I've pulled no punches about my feelings towards Biggio. He is my all-time favorite athlete. However, bias aside - he's also got a resume that is Hall of Fame worthy. Whether you subscribe to the traditional school of baseball statistics or today's trendy sabermetrics, Biggio's career statistics are on par with the greatest second basemen in MLB history. (Just check my Twitter feed for a refresher course.) But I'm not here to argue about Biggio's career numbers.
Biggio was named on 68.2% (388 of 569) of 2013 Hall of Fame ballots. A player needs 75% to gain entry into the Hall. Next year, Biggio is a heavy favorite to gain election - likely doing so with 80% or more. How is this possible? His numbers will not change! He's not going to hit 40 doubles this season or steal 30 bases. He's been retired since 2007!
It's because many writers who didn't vote for him this year will cast a ballot for Biggio in 2014. Why? These folks feel Biggio is a Hall of Famer but not a "First Ballot Guy". That title is reserved for the legends of the game - those players with unmatched numbers. This, unequivocally, is the primary source of my frustration. It's mind boggling.
This day and age, there ARE NO MORE first ballot guys. The steroids era has tainted that. It's out of our control. Statistics can no longer be judged in their purest form. 10 years ago, the numbers Bonds, Clemens and Sosa (all appearing on their first ballot today) put up would've had them named on 90% or more ballots in 2013. They didn't get half of that.
Why? Because the era of juicing and performance enhancing drugs has tarnished baseball statistics. Bonds, Clemens and Sosa - players with some of the most gaudy numbers in the history of the game, were denied admission into the Hall by the writers because many voters consider those players "dirty" due to their association with steroids. This is my point: if the writers are going to no longer acknowledge statistics as a black and white cause for entry into the Hall, and use character and integrity as a qualification - then it must go both ways. If not, it's a blatant double-standard.
Bonds, Clemens and Sosa are "first ballot guys" in terms of statistics, but apparently not based on character. So if Craig Biggio is not a "first ballot guy" in terms of statistics, shouldn't his character and integrity have been weighed? He spent 20 seasons with one franchise, played the game the right way, and most importantly was NEVER implicated in any sort of steroids/PED scandal.
It's not his fault he retired when he did and appeared on his first ballot the same year Bonds, Clemens and Sosa did. If these high and mighty writers have changed the way they vote, taking numbers out of the equation and replacing them with character - they need to also reexamine their criteria of a "First Ballot Hall of Famer". If not, Biggio - who hit more doubles than any other right-handed hitter in the history of Major League Baseball, is the victim of a double-standard.