The prospect of an upcoming Hall of Fame voting process that may now be preoccupied for years by PEDs issues rather than more sporting matters, provokes me to suggest the creation of an alternative “all-timer” voting process for High Heat Stats (HHS) readers.  My proposal is that readers vote every few weeks, in response to a series of posts, to elect one MLB player to an HHS “Circle of Greats” until we have reached a number inducted that is equal to the number of players that the BBWAA has elected to the official Hall of Fame over the years.  As of today, that’s 112 players.  Specifics of the proposal are after the jump.

Here’s my proposal as to how the voting would work.  I welcome proposed revisions.

Each vote would include as eligible for induction all the players born in a particular calendar year, as long as they meet the Hall of Fame’s minimum criteria that they played at least 10 seasons in the major leagues.  We would start with a first vote that would include players born in calendar year 1968 (players who have turned or will turn 44 years old in 2012).  Subsequent voting rounds would proceed backwards in time, adding a new year with each round of voting, so that in the second voting round, players born in 1967 would become eligible, the third round would bring in players born in 1966, and so on.

Each voter (and anyone registered to comment here at HHS could vote) would be allowed, and required, to put three players on his or her ballot.  Ballots with fewer than, or more than, three eligible players would not be counted as valid ballots.  During each round of voting, the one player who is named on the most ballots would be inducted into the Circle of Greats.  All players who are named on at least 20% of all valid ballots cast, but fail to win the election, would have their eligibility carried over to the next voting round.  All players named on at least 50% of ballots in any round, without getting elected, would receive an automatic eligibility extension of four voting rounds (unless of course they win an election in the meantime).  These eligibility extensions would be cumulative, so that a player who appears on 50% of the ballots in the “born-in-1968″ round of voting without winning induction and then does the same in the “born-in-1967″ round, would hold an eligibility extension that would keep him  eligible all the way through the born-in-1960 round.

Proposed guidelines for voting would be as follows.  The goal is to include the “greatest” players in the major leagues since the late 19th century. The absence of provision for Negro League players is not intended to condone in any way the many years of apartheid engaged in by organized baseball; it’s only to acknowledge the fact that the Hall of Fame itself has been recognizing the top players of the Negro Leagues, and I, personally at least, don’t feel like I have anything useful to add to that effort.  I also suggest that we limit our criteria to just a player’s contributions as a player, not as a manager, coach, executive, announcer, journalist, etc..  Aside from those general guidelines, it would be up to each voter to determine his or her own criteria for a player’s “greatness”.

To give an example of how the voting would work, here are alphabetical lists of the players who would be eligible in the first round of voting (born in 1968, played at least ten seasons in the majors):

Position Players:
Roberto Alomar
Carlos Baerga
Jeff Bagwell
Derek Bell
Chad Curtis
Tom Goodwin
Dave Hansen
Jeff Kent
Chuck Knoblauch
Randy Knorr
Derrick May
Brett Mayne
Jose Offerman
John Olerud
Keith Osik
Dean Palmer
Eddie Perez
Mike Piazza
Curtis Pride
Tim Salmon
Gary Sheffield
J.T. Snow
Sammy Sosa
Matt Stairs
Ed Taubensee
Frank Thomas
Jose Vizcaino
Bernie Williams

Pitchers:
Pedro Astacio
Rod Beck
Brain Bohanon
Giovanni Carrara
Mark Clark
Scott Erickson
Chris Haney
Pat Hentgen
Todd Jones
Darryl Kile
Curt Leskanic
Al Levine
Ramon Martinez
Kent Mercker
Davew Mlicki
Mike Mussina
Denny Neagle
Hideo Nomo
Paul Qunatrill
Scott Radinsky
Shane Reynolds
Rudy Seanez
Brian Shouse
Russ Springer
Rick White
Mike Williams

Choosing the three guys on your ballot out of this group would be an interesting problem.  Bagwell, Alomar, the Big Hurt, Piazza, Sheffield, Kent and Sosa, Olerud perhaps  – all may well have their serious partisans for the three-man ballot.  On the pitching side, Mussina looks like the class of the group, to me anyway.  But for now, I’m not asking  for debate on who should be elected or included on ballots from this group — I’m just using this class as an example of how the process would work.  If, let’s say, Frank Thomas appears on the most ballots, he would be elected as the first member of our Circle of Greats. If, let’s say, Alomar loses to Thomas but is named on at least half of the three-man ballots, he will continue to be eligible during at least the next four votes, and perhaps more if he continues to be mentioned on a significant number of of ballots in future votes.  If, let’s say, Mussina and Sheffield each are included on just enough ballots to make the 20% threshold  each would continue to be eligible in the next round, but would drop off thereafter unless they again make it over 20%.  In that next vote all the guys born in 1967 with ten seasons in the majors (e.g., Smoltz, Lofton, Vizquel…) would also become eligible.

Once every certain number of voting rounds we may want to have a special re-eligibility vote in which guys no longer eligible could be nominated for re-eligibility, and the player named on the most ballots would go back into the eligibility mix.  If there is a tie in the highest number of votes in any round, there would be a run-off round of voting requiring a head-to-head choice between the tied players to see who gets inducted.

The main goal is to provoke some lively thinking and discussion requiring evaluation of the comparative “greatness” among groups of guys who are not necessarily subjects of frequent direct competitive comparison.  Note that the three-men-on-a-ballot approach, and the mandate of one and only one elected player per round,  requires somewhat more competitive evaluation than the BBWAA’s more open-ended form of balloting.

Suggestions for tweaks to this proposal, or wholesale changes, or just plain vicious attacks on the whole idea, are welcome.

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