Baseball Ink

Baseball The Way It Was Meant To Be

Lenny Harris for Hall of Fame...huh?

December 27, 2010 by TheUmpire

If you suffer from credibility issues, what do you do about it? Nominate Lenny Harris for the Hall of Fame, of course.

The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) is responsible for electing inductees to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. With some Steroid Era players now up for consideration, the BBWAA finds itself in the midst of one of baseball's most contentious debates. One overly-dramatic and illogical writer even suggests that voting for a PED user is analogous to releasing a convicted murderer.

Granted, the guidelines are vague...

"Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played"

...but when you also have writers deliberately excluding first-ballot-worthy players—or not voting at all—then your organization has a problem.

Which brings us to Lenny Harris.

I appreciate that his "Range Factor/9Inn as 2B" of 6.09 in 1992 led the National League (when he was also second in errors). And, sure, the guy has a 0.00 ERA and a SO/9 of 9.0. But how on Earth does a career .269 hitter with 37(!) HR and an OPS of .667 even get considered for the ballot? (Don't get me started on Kirk Rueter.)

Apparently two of the six members of the BBWAA Screening Committee felt Harris was a worthy contender. However, I would not bank on Harris getting even two votes this year as four of last year's 15 first-timers did not garner any votes (not even the writers who nominated them).

It might be too late to restore prestige to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Maybe it never had any. But allowing the BBWAA to continue to impose so much arbitrary influence with so little accountability is clearly not the answer.

Perhaps implementing a process similar to the NFL and the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a step in the right direction?

Follow-up: For the 2011 Hall of Fame candidates, six players received zero votes and two players received one vote. Which two guys nominated eight players yet did not vote for them?

Almost half the candidates received less than 5% of the vote (meaning they will not be on next year's ballot). What kind of credibility do we give a body that nominates half a ballot of players not worthy of serious consideration?