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Hall Of Fame Voters Are Pickier Than They've Ever Been

Illustration for article titled Hall Of Fame Voters Are Pickier Than Theyve Ever Been

Dave Cameron at FanGraphs has discovered something fascinating. Breaking down the number of men to play in the major leagues and the number of Hall of Famers by their birth year, he found that HOF electors have been remarkably consistent in the percentage of players they elect—roughly one percent to two percent of those born each decade. Except for those born in the '60s, who are currently sitting at 0.1 percent.


Only two ballplayers born from 1961-1970 are currently in Cooperstown: Roberto Alomar and Barry Larkin. That number will rise, of course, but even with the remarkably stacked ballots of the next few years, there's no possible way the decade will produce the 30 to 50 Hall of Famers required to put it near previous levels.

The problem is obviously not with the players' ages, but with their era. Being born in the '60s means a player's prime was somewhere from the late 1980s to the early 2000s, exactly the period many BBWAA members would like to pretend never existed. But as Cameron's numbers illustrate, voters have painted themselves into a corner. If potential Hall members should be judged against those they played against, there shouldn't be any dip in induction rates. But if they ought to be judged against baseball history as a whole, a dip of this magnitude is statistically unlikely unless it's the voters that are the problem.


The only conclusion is that voters' HOF standards, whether due to perceptions of steroid-fueled numbers or expansion or anything at all, are currently the most stringent in the Hall's history, and it's going to punish some of the best players from one of baseball's golden ages. By any measure, that's a shame.

The Hall of Fame's Standard, and Its Biggest Problem [FanGraphs]

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