Greg Jayne

Joe Posnanski Looks At Baseball's Two Halls Of Fame

Interesting work, as usual, from Joe Posnanski as he takes a position-by-position look at players who have been voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame over the years by the writers. How have the standards changed? Which positions receive favoritism? What are the differences between players voted in by writers and those selected by the various Veterans Committees? Things like that.

Today’s installment looks at shortstops who have been selected and the candidacy of Alan Trammell. One fascinating fact that Posnanski doesn’t mention is that the Tigers haven’t had a Hall of Fame player since Al Kaline retired in 1974. Not a single one. Not even anybody who came up with Detroit or went there at the end of his career but spent his prime with another franchise. They had Sparky Anderson as their manager, but no Hall of Fame players.

In his introduction to the series, Posnanski writes: “Just a few days ago, I wrote about how I really wished the Hall of Fame had this ‘inner circle,’ you know, this Hall of Fame within a Hall of Fame, that separates the Willie Mayses and Babe Ruths and Hank Aarons and Walter Johnsons from the Jesse Haines and High Pockets Kellys and Tom Yawkeys and Candy Cummings and others you either didn’t know were in the Hall of Fame or didn’t care.”

Bill James posited this idea years ago, and I don’t like it. The problem is that it eventually would be diluted, just as the regular Hall of Fame has been. Is Carl Yastrzemski an “inner circle” Hall of Famer? How about Ken Griffey Jr. when he gets in? He’s probably the fifth-best center field in history; is that good enough for the “inner circle”? What about Mel Ott, the fourth-best right fielder in history?

If you include only players who are considered candidates for the best player ever at a position, then years ago Pie Traynor would have been included. Now, that would appear ludicrous.

But, as Posnanski further explains, there already are two Hall of Fames: That chosen by the writers and that chosen by the Veterans Committee with their excruciatingly lower standards.

Much of that can be traced to Frankie Frisch (as explained in James’ book, “Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame?”), who lorded over the Veterans Committee for much of the 1970s and seemingly made it his mission to get all of his former teammates inducted.

But I digress. Anyway, Posnanski provides a good look at the modern Hall of Fame candidates and how they stack up to history.

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