As the 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame inductees are soon to be announced, I think it’s important to refute a common stance of “Small Hall” writers and fans alike.
It makes sense. It’s called the Hall of Fame, so why should anyone not worthy of “Fame” have a plaque there? Why should a player like Tim Raines be enshrined in the same Hall as the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Ted Williams?
Well, those legends aren’t the only ones who occupy Cooperstown.
That’s the main argument for players similar to Raines, those who never had an amazing peak but played a long, good-to-great career. And it’s unfair to compare them to the top couple percent of the Hall of Fame. Because, for every Babe Ruth, there’s a Lloyd Waner. For every Lou Gehrig, there’s a High Pockets Kelly. And for every Ted Williams, there’s a Ray Schalk.
So instead of comparing a player to the best ever at their position, how about we compare them to the worst in the Hall.
Let’s look at a team of Hall of Famers you can create. Babe Ruth isn’t in the outfield, nor is Nolan Ryan on the mound. It looks more like this:
SP- Catfish Hunter (104 ERA+, 36.6 WAR, 2012 K in 3,449.1 IP)
C- Ray Schalk (.253/.340/.316, 28.5 WAR, 11 HR, 1,345 hits)
1B- High Pockets Kelly (.297/.342/.452, 25.2 WAR, 148 HR, 1,778 hits)
2B- Bill Mazeroski (.260/.299/.367, 36.2 WAR, 138 HR, 2,016 hits)
3B- Freddie Lindstrom (.311/.351/.449, 28.3 WAR, 103 HR, 1,747 hits)
SS- Phil Rizzuto (.273/.351/.355, 40.8 WAR, 38 HR, 1,588 hits)
LF- Chick Hafey (.317/.372/.526, 30.1 WAR, 164 HR, 1,466 hits)
CF- Lloyd Waner (.316/.353/.393, 24.1 WAR, 27 HR, 2,459 hits)
RF- Ross Youngs (.322/.399/.441, 32.2 WAR, 44 HR, 1,491 hits)
Yes, those guys are all in the Hall of Fame.
I am aware small committees like the Veterans Committee or the Old Timers Committee played a large role in inducting the aforementioned players. However, those players are still in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Not the Veterans Committee Hall of Fame, and not the Old Timers Hall of Fame. The Baseball Hall of Fame.
So, if Tim Raines or anyone else on the ballot isn’t a Hall of Famer because “it’s the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Very Good”, then I think you’re looking at the wrong Hall of Fame.