Read It And Weep

Over at Baseball Prospectus, Jay Jaffe has a thorough analysis and explanation of the workings of the Baseball Hall of Fame's Veterans Committee. In fact, it's so thorough, I want to throw up.

In case you're unaware, tomorrow is the day Ron Santo is scheduled to have his heart broken again as the Veterans Committee announces which old-timers have not been elected to the Hall. As Jaffe explains, since baseball rethought the composition of the committee--it now includes 84 members, of whom 61 are Hall of Famers such as the insufferable Joe Morgan--it has punched exactly zero tickets to Cooperstown. Not Gil Hodges'. Not Tony Oliva's. And not Ron Santo's.

Jaffe utilizes his JAWS Score system to rank the 20 hitters on the current old-timers ballot and only third baseman Santo and catcher Joe Torre surpass Hall of Fame standards at their positions. In fact, as Jaffe summarizes, "Santo is the best eligible player not in the Hall of Fame" and his score would place him sixth among all HOF third baseman, behind Schmidt, Boggs, Mathews, Brett and Molitor, but ahead of Brooks Robinson, to whom Santo is invariably compared.

Jaffe continues:

It's not as if Santo was unheralded as a player. He was a nine-time All-Star and a five-time Gold Glove winner who placed in the top 10 in MVP voting four times. He had power (342 home runs), he had plate discipline (leading the league in walks four times in a five-year span), he had defense (a Rate2 of 104), and he overcame diabetes to do it all. The only thing he lacked was a pennant, but then again, so did teammates Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, and Fergie Jenkins, and they're in the Hall. Among that group, Santo outscores all but Banks (105.2). There's a sense that some players still carry a grudge for his habit of clicking his heels after Cub wins in 1969, but that's pretty small beer; is it any worse than, say, Reggie Jackson admiring his home runs? Santo not being in is a grave injustice that has more to do with petty politics among players than it does merit.

The results of the vote are to be announced Tuesday at 1 p.m. CST. Like millions of Cub fans who admire Ron Santo for his playing record among other things, I am hoping for the best, but expecting something else.


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