Thinking About Cooperstown Numbers by thad mumau

For years there have been magic numbers regarding entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Career numbers like 3,000 (hits by a batter, strikeouts by a pitcher); 500 (home runs), 300 (pitching wins).

Such numbers were not required, mind you, just thought of as “guarantees” that a plaque would be hung of players who amassed them.

Then along came chemicals men ingested (by swallowing or absorbing), causing heads and statistics to swell beyond normal proportions. (see Barry Bonds on both counts.)

Hence, some of the numbers once considered automatic ticket punches to Cooperstown have not been viewed so reverently. Because, of course, cheaters were recording those numbers.

As a result, those who receive Hall of Fame ballots these days must adjust their thinking.

For other reasons, too. Today’s pitchers are not ringing up as many victories. Pitch counts – also known as babying hurlers – reduce innings, which means guys aren’t around long enough to pick up as many decisions.

Hitters almost always face more than one pitcher in a game, sometimes a different one each at-bat. Not only do they see a fresh arm when a pitching change is made, hitters also must try to adapt to someone who is throwing harder or softer or from a different arm angle.

The previous two paragraphs present actual reasons, not excuses, for modern-day players’ performances to be lessened. Therefore, stats as well.

While there have never been concrete mathematical equations or numerics that formulate a check list for electing someone to baseball’s Hall of Fame, those listed above have sufficed.

The point of all this is that if the baseball writers who vote on Cooperstown candidates will be shifting their sights in terms of requirements, maybe another look should be taken at some questionable omissions.

On the subject of omissions, Pete Rose is the ultimate. How in the world can the player with the most career base hits in the history of baseball not be in the game’s Hall of Fame?

I understand about the gambling and the lying about it, but none of that has a thing to do with any of Rose’s 4,256 hits.

To tell the truth, I cannot stand Pete Rose. He is cocky, arrogant, self-consumed and downright sleazy. But Cooperstown is no haven for do-gooders or Chamber of Commerce Citizens of the Year.

Ty Cobb was a terrible person. He was a racist and he made no bones about doing anything to score a run or steal a base. To the point of hurting someone intentionally. Even sharpening his spikes to intimidate and warn opponents to stay out of his way. Babe Ruth was not nominated for sainthood, either.

Both are in the Hall of Fame and deserve to be. I’m not campaigning for their removal, just for inclusion of the guy with the most hits of all time. Banishing Rose from baseball forever more is fine, but mount his plaque where it rightfully belongs.

There are other players who have been left out of the Hall despite possessing statistics that are pretty darn deserving.

We’re going to look at them and their accomplishments in this blog over the next several entries. Some put up numbers very comparable to the stats of players who have been enshrined. Still others on our list were apparently on track for Cooperstown before being derailed.

It’s always fun to play What If, and that’s what we’re going to do, starting next time.

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