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Hall of Merit
— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best
Friday, December 06, 2002
I think this works, as I said on the email, I think we should go with this as our rules document, based on the discussions we’ve had.
Many kudos to Rob Wood for drafting this.
If you feel strongly that something isn’t right, let us know. But unless there is strong and widespread dissent, or if someone points out an obvious error of some kind I think this is what we are going with.
Statement of Purpose:
The Hall of Merit is an internet group of baseball enthusiasts who will create its own “Hall of Merit” to rival the “Hall of Fame” in Cooperstown. Many believe that the National Baseball Hall of Fame has done a less than perfect job of selecting the game’s greatest players to honor. We will attempt to rectify mistakes made by Hall of Fame selections by conducting our own series of elections. A more thorough description of the Hall of Merit can be found here.
We will start with the 19th century players on the first HoM ballot, and then step through baseball history one year at a time. Our goal is to identify the best players of each era and elect them to the Hall of Merit.
The HoM journey throughout baseball history will be just as important as the final destination. Lively, spirited discussion will help shape voters’ beliefs regarding the relative merits of baseball’s best players. All members are expected to be considerate of others’ opinions/arguments and be willing to consider alternative points of view. Disagreements will inevitably arise, but we will strive to maintain civility at all times.
All major league players are eligible for the Hall of Merit. Also eligible are all “excluded” players, most notably Negro Leaguers, and pre-MLB players that played professional ball in the US. Following the timing of Hall of Fame ballots, players are generally eligible for the Hall of Merit five years after their last MLB (or equivalent) season. Unlike the HoF, players’ HoM eligibility never expires.
For the first HoM ballot (held in 1898), all players who were retired at the conclusion of the 1892 season are eligible. We generally want players to appear on the HoM ballot with their contemporaries. Accordingly, we will ignore token appearances at the end of a player’s career in determining when a player’s HOM eligibility begins (i.e., the first HOM ballot he can appear on).
To discount token appearances, a player becomes eligible 5 years after the first time he plays fewer than 10 games in the field or pitches in fewer than 5 games, assuming he never plays in 10/pitches in 5 games again. If he does play in 10/pitch in 5 games later in his career, the HoM ballot committee will determine in which year the player’s HoM eligibility begins.
In the normal circumstance if a player retires in 1910, then he becomes eligible for the 1916 HoM ballot. Non-MLB players such as Negro Leaguers will follow the same eligibility rules, though it may be harder to identify token appearances from the available records.
The names of the reasonable candidates (those that made a STATS retroactive All-Star Team at least once or others that are nominated) entering each HoM ballot for the first time will be made publicly available by the ballot committee as early as practicable. Each voter is responsible for knowing who the newly eligible players are each year.
Voting will take place weekly, with the proviso that voting will be skipped during certain weeks containing national holidays (e.g., Christmas). The ballot committee will make the final determination of which weeks will be skipped during the year.
Elections will end at 8 PM EDT on the Monday following the start of the election (which will also start on a Monday). The ballot committee has the authority to not accept any ballot submitted after the deadline. The deadline will be chosen for the mutual benefit of the voters and the ballot committee. If a voter discovers that he made an error on his ballot (even after the ballot deadline), the committee will typically accept a revised ballot from this voter up to the time that the weekly results are announced.
The results of the weekly balloting will be made public to the HoM group as soon as practicable. For each player who appeared on any ballot, his overall group ranking will be reported, his total number of points, and the number of 1st-place votes, 2nd-place votes, 3rd-place votes, ..., 15th-place votes the player received. The total number of ballots submitted and the number of ballots excluded by the committee, if any, will also be reported.
Voters shall give serious consideration to “excluded” players such as Negro League stars. The total number of players currently in the Hall of Fame, which is the number that we are tieing HOM membership to, includes 17 Negro League stars. Many would consider this a significant under-representation of Negro Leaguers given how many blacks starred in post-integration MLB and the quality of some of the poorest pre-integration HOF selections. Statistics covering the Negro Leagues are often sketchy; nevertheless it is clear that there were many blacks who would have been MLB stars pre-1947.
Voters are strongly encouraged to consider only a player’s on-field accomplishments and other factors which had an impact on the outcomes of the player’s baseball games. When tallying up value for an eligible player, any managerial contributions created as a player/manager should not be included under any circumstances. In addition to major league and Negro League accomplishments, particularly noteworthy minor league or non-US professional league accomplishments can also be considered meritorious (in a HoM perspective) in certain circumstances. However, it would be extremely unlikely for a career minor leaguer or Cuban league player to be elected to the HoM.
A player’s “personality” is to be considered only to the extent that it affected the outcomes of the player’s games (e.g., via his positive or negative effect on his teammates). In rare and extreme cases, a voter may opt to exclude a player on “personality” grounds on the first ballot on which the player appears. If that player does not get elected on his first ballot, the voter shall give the player full consideration in all subsequent ballots, regardless of the “personality” factors.
Allegations (proven or otherwise) about throwing baseball games may be especially troubling to some voters. It would be appropriate for such a voter to discount such a player’s accomplishments to some degree. In rare and extreme cases, it may even be appropriate for such a voter to choose not to vote for an otherwise worthy candidate.
Voters agree to take the voting seriously and to put in sufficient time in researching the merits of the players and in filling out their ballots. In addition, voters pledge to refrain from “strategic” voting; that is, manipulating one’s ballot (i.e., so it does not reflect one’s own beliefs regarding the relative merits of the players) in an attempt to achieve a more desirable group ranking. Voters should simply vote for the 15 best eligible players, ranking them from 1 to 15. Even if it appears a player won’t be elected, you should still vote for him if you feel he is worthy.
The HoM ballot committee will review and tally all ballots. The committee will identify any obviously unintelligent or especially questionable votes (e.g., voting for Clay Bellinger). The committee would then email the voter asking him to re-submit an adjusted ballot. If the voter chooses not to do so, the ballot committee has the authority to exclude the voter’s entire ballot and/or the specific unintelligent or questionable votes.
Voters will vote for 15 players on each HoM ballot. They will list the players from best to worst, identifying their top ranked player with a 1, their second ranked player with a 2, etc. Voters are encouraged to include 15 players on each ballot, though ballots with fewer than 15 players will be accepted.
Each player appearing on a ballot will receive the number of points associated with his rank on the ballot and the number of players to be selected that year. In order to reward the voter’s top players on each ballot, special “bonus” points will be given for each of the top N slots, where N is the number of players to be selected. The following table gives the tally-points:
In the event of two or more players tying with the same number of points, the players will be ranked according to the following tie-breakers: (i) the player who was more highly ranked on more voters’ individual ballots (votes will be weighed 3-2-1 if more than two are tied); (ii) if still tied, the player who was listed on more voters’ ballots; (iii) if still tied, the player who had the most 1st-place votes, (iv) if still tied, the player who had the most 2nd-place votes, etc.
Schedule of HoM Selections:
The number of HoM selections for each ballot is pre-determined so that by the time we reach the present day, the number of HoM selections will be similar to the number of HoF selections.
The following schedule was developed in order to reflect the number of MLB players in each era and the quality of competition. Click here for a complete explanation. Scroll to the post of April 14, 2002; 10:36 a.m.
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