Chris Jaffe has an article posted on The Hardball Times advocating changes to be made in how players are selected for the Hall of Fame entitled "Cleaning Up Cooperstown." In that article his suggestions include one that sounded crazy when I first read it, but upon reflection makes some sense to me.
The suggestion? Lower the threshold of the vote a player must receive for induction into the Hall of Fame from 75% of the vote to 50%.
My initial reaction was "no way," don't "water down" the standards, etc.
Jaffe then listed all of the players in the nearly 75 year history of the Hall of Fame, excluding players on this year's ballot, who at some point received at least 50% of the vote from the writers but who were still never eventually inducted. Here is the list:
That's it. With the exception of Hodges, every player who ever received as much as 50% of the vote was eventually elected.
What we have now is a system that has given us an exciting Hall of Fame weekend this coming summer in Cooperstown when Hank O'Day (1862-1935), Jacob Ruppert (1867-1939) and Deacon White (1847-1939) are all inducted. Look, I think that Ruppert and White should be in the HOF but the induction of a trio of men who have been dead for as long as there has been a Hall of Fame, while inducting no one else, is crazy.
Ron Santo was kept out of the Hall of Fame as long as he was alive and could have enjoyed the honor; as soon as he died, he was inducted.
If 50% was the required threshold then Craig Biggio, Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza and Tim Raines would have all been elected this month. History tells us that each of them will eventually be inducted, if not by the writers then by some version of a veterans committee, but if guys such as Morris and Raines get in by that route they may have to wait so long that neither they nor many of their fans will live to see it.
Anyway, while I am not yet advocating that the threshold be reduced, I though Jaffe's idea was worth discussion.
I do think consideration could also be given to some sort of "runoff" ballot if no one is selected in initial voting.