The baseball winter gatherings are all about the future – players change teams, leagues change rules – with the exception of the first rules of procedure. On Sunday evening in San Diego, a committee of executives, historians, and former players will announce their verdict on the 10 candidates who will be considered for the Hall of Fame.
One candidate is Marvin Miller, the pioneering union leader. another is Thurman Munson, the Yankees catcher who was killed in a plane crash in 1979; and a third is Tommy John, an outstanding leftist before and after the groundbreaking elbow surgery that bore his name.
The other seven are position players who have at least one thing in common: they all faced Ron Darling, the Mets broadcaster that played in both leagues in 1983 when Dale Murphy and Ted Simmons started in the All Star game until 1995 when Don Mattingly and Lou Whitaker retired. Murphy, Simmons, Mattingly and Whitaker will be available to choose from this weekend, with Dwight Evans, Steve Garvey and Dave Parker rounding off a fascinating poll.
"When you're in competition, you feel in your heart – and especially in your head – like in space and time," said Darling. "But many of the names on this list that I knew were elite players of my generation, and I knew they were elite players in the history of the game."
The 16-member committee, which includes the Hall of Famers of George Brett, Rod Carew, Dennis Eckersley, Eddie Murray, Ozzie Smith and Robin Yount, is responsible for evaluating managers, executives, referees and players who account for 75 percent of the Votes have not been received from the Baseball Writers & # 39; Association of America. It sent Cooperstown two 1980s stars in each of the last two elections: Jack Morris and Alan Trammell in December 2017, Harold Baines and Lee Smith last year.
This choice is fascinating for what it will say about the evolving concept of fame. Five players on the ballot (Garvey, Mattingly, Munson, Murphy and Parker) won a Most Valuable Player Award and were undoubtedly considered superstars in their day. Seven (all except John and Simmons) won at least three gold gloves, which means that the hard-to-quantify defense was an important part of their game.
The two with the most advanced are Whitaker and Evans, both of whom have more than 65 victories over replacement, but never a single vote in first place for the M.V.P. Awarded or lead a league in a triple crown category. (Evans was part of a four-way tie for the 1981 American League home run with a shortened strike.)
Some other players from that time with at least 60 WAR, As calculated by Baseball Reference, Buddy Bell, Bobby Grich, Keith Hernandez, Willie Randolph and Rick Reuschel are not on the ballot.
"When you combine people's idea of what a Hall of Famer is with a more saber-metric reading of the 21st century," said historian Jay Jaffe, "there are more candidates from that time than can go on an election. "
Jaffe, who writes for Fangraphs is the author of "The Cooperstown Casebook", in which he makes convincing arguments for Simmons and Whitaker, each of whom failed to achieve 5 percent of the vote in his choice of authors.
Jaffe said the timing could be right for both now that Simmons missed a vote in 2017 and Whitaker is so close to history with Trammell, his long-time double-play partner with the Detroit Tigers.
Darling said he thought Simmons, Murphy, and the Munson family would get good news on Sunday and commented on each of the seven candidates he faced:
Dwight Evans (1 to 7 with a home run in Game 7 of the 1986 World Series): “I probably knew more about Dewey than most others because I was a Red Sox fan when I was growing up. I knew what a fight it was for Dewey at the beginning of his career – he always had this great glove – but over time he got better and smarter. When we took part in the 1986 World Series, Dewey was definitely on all radars, and it hurt us a lot. "
Steve Garvey (6 for 23, a home run): “For me, Garvey was a great R.B.I. Machine. Analytics people could better break this down since I don't even know if it's true, but we always thought as pitchers that you didn't want Garvey to show up in a big RBI. Job."
Don Mattingly (8 for 24, no home races): “Donnie has put up numbers that nobody has put up for some time. There aren't many people who average so high on all this production – I'm thinking of someone like Mike Piazza who could reach 0.340 and drive 120 and do more than 30 home runs. Donnie was one of the best players in the game for this short distance. "
Dale Murphy (12 for 56, three home runs): “Maybe because I saw him in his prime many times, but I never thought of anything else than 'Hall of Famer' when I played against Dale Murphy. He just looked like a Hall of Famer, played like a Hall of Famer and acted like a Hall of Famer. That was my thought of him throughout my career. The thing with Dale Murphy is that whenever he did a home run, he had that kind of walk around the bases like, "I'm sorry, brother, I'm just doing my job." You could never get mad at him doing a home run. If there was an opposite of bat flying, it would be Dale Murphy in all of the home runs he hit. "
Dave Parker (10 for 37, two home runs): "I remember that he was M.V.P. of the 1979 All-Star game, and you knew that if he wasn't the best player in the game, he was in the top three. When I looked at him, he had slowed down a bit, but I guess so: when he came to the plate and rolled the racket around his head, you knew you were in trouble. He was an excellent player. "
Ted Simmons (2 for 3, no home runs): “I know Ted through Keith who played with him in St. Louis, and Keith has a million stories about Simba. He hit Keith for some of the best years, including his M.V.P. Year. Keith always talks about how valuable he was, and I always think that catchers should be in a different category. You should take someone on the outfield, a great player, and crouch for each field for a year – and then see what year they have. "
Lou Whitaker (3 for 14, a home game): “What makes Whitaker special for me is that I know that they had different careers and that they were different players, but when I think of Alan Trammell, I think of Lou Whitaker. I can not separate them. So I have the feeling that if one is there, both should be there. And I'm more of a large hall than a small hall type. "
The hall should be a little bigger on Sunday, with more members from a time whose stars were underestimated.