Craig Biggio missed the Hall of Fame by two votes. And because this is the Internet, we need someone to blame. Let me be your guide. Let's classify the kinds of voters who wouldn't put Craig Biggio on a ballot and determine which group is most annoying.
This would be the group that looks at the numbers, recounts the anecdotes, and reads the arguments in support of Biggio. He or she considers the evidence, pauses, and thinks, "You know, he doesn't seem qualified for the Hall of Fame."
This is not a group to be angry with. This is not a group to mock or slander. This is a group to study. Put this group in the Tralfamadore Zoo and see what makes them tick. Let the academics and scientists trip over themselves to publish papers on the phenomenon.
If you're into traditional stats, Biggio has 3,000 hits. That should make him automatic for the traditional-minded folks. Then you get to him being 15th in runs scored, fifth in doubles, and second in hit-by-pitches. Only 17 players were on base more than Biggio. He was gritty and scrappy.
If you're into nerd stats, Biggio was worth about 65 wins. Easy vote, especially considering second basemen throughout history. He was a unique player, an on-base maven with considerable power and solid defense up the middle.
So if you don't buy into either of those camps, what are you looking for? Power and only power? As in, if a player has fewer than 400 homers, he doesn't merit any consideration? Or maybe they have personal rules that forbid them from voting for anyone who has never won an MVP or Cy Young.
Most of them, I'd gather, use the "didn't feel" card. Biggio didn't feel like a Hall of Famer to them. Another version of this argument is that if you have to think about the player, they don't deserve it. These people lived in a closet in Zaire from 1988 to 2007. They didn't have a TV, radio, or computer, but they did have a Game Gear that was just one double-A battery away from working. Don't be too hard on them. They just didn't get a chance to watch baseball back then.
These would be the people who think Biggio should be in the Hall, but who ranked 11 players over him. Let's check the WAR to see if that's easy to do.
Very, very easy to do. Even if you don't adhere strictly to the WAR, it's not hard to find 10 candidates who are as deserving as Biggio. Some voters might have figured Biggio was going to get in (this year or next), so they focused on keeping worthy players on the ballot.
Whatever the reason, there were probably a couple of voters who would have voted for Biggio with a 15-player ballot, but didn't with a 10-player ballot. These people aren't the problem.
The anti-PED crusade
This picture is kind of precious:
The guy on the left didn't come close to enshrinement because people can tell he's dirty by looking at him. About 20 percent of those people, give or take, have no such problems with the guy on the right, so he came really, really close. Amazing.
But Biggio didn't win because there were still more than a few people who suspected he was dirty. He wasn't named in a report, and he was never suspended. The arguments against him are usually "just look at him" and "c'mon, you can tell," but Murray Chass has six off-the-record sources who claim Biggio was dirty.
I wouldn't agree with Chass about how to hang toilet paper, but I don't begrudge him using his off-the-record sources to inform his vote. The other people, though, bug me. "Just look at him" is a lazy argument. Refusing to vote for steroid users isn't something I would do, but I don't think it takes a character flaw to do it. Using the logic of "my eyes negate the need for science and research" is a character flaw.
These are the people who want to make a statement. They include writers who:
- refuse to vote for anyone from the Steroid Era on general principle
- won't vote for players on a first or second ballot because it connotes some sort of secret circle of the Hall of Fame that some players aren't worthy of
- refuse to vote for more than two or three players at a time because they don't like full ballots
- always kick a vote to personal favorites, as in the two folks who tossed J.T. Snow a vote
That statement is usually "hurrp." But it is a statement. It's hard to lump all of these people together, mostly because if I knew for sure there were two people who thought Biggio deserves to get in on the third ballot but not the second, they would be worth their own column.
Mostly it's the first one that grinds my gears. "I don't have enough information, so I'm not going to bother thinking critically." Though don't sleep on how annoying the third one is.
I blame them all. But I think the first-ballot kooks are the reason Biggio didn't get in last year, and that there were at least a couple of those kooks who will vote for Biggio later, but not on a second ballot. I disagree with the steroid crusade. I loathe the lack of intellectual rigor from the "just look at him" crowd. The first-ballot kooks, who are making up their own definition of what the Hall of Fame is, though, are somehow worse.
It's the Internet, and we need to blame someone. I blame them.
Biggio will get in next year, most likely, so this ballot isn't a tragedy. I'm sure Biggo's ego isn't bruised by these results, especially considering he wears an enormous plastic protector around it. But if you're looking for annoying, you know the Hall of Fame voting is the place to find it. The people who don't think of Biggio as worthy are a good place to start.