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The other M's regulars who've received HOF votes

In addition to Edgar Martinez, seven other players who spent a good chunk of their careers with the Mariners received votes for the Hall of Fame.

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Howdy, Lookout Landing.

As Matt eloquently pointed out on Sunday (go read this if you haven't already; it's one of my favorite pieces that's been published on LL in quite a while), it's that time of year again... that tumultuous period at the beginning of January when a bunch of baseball fans get all worked up about who belongs in Cooperstown (or, alternatively, get all worked up telling you how little they care about baseball's Hall of Fame). Late tomorrow morning, we'll learn for the umpteenth time that the whole process is kinda silly and frustratingly inconsistent. We'll rail against the many short-sighted, curmudgeonly voters who want all of those pesky SABR brats to get off their lawns. Also, for the sixth consecutive year, Edgar Martinez won't get as many votes as he deserves. This news, though entirely expected, will still feel like a sucker punch to our stomachs and a personal affront to our fanhood. We'll be upset and angry... but then, after a little while, we'll settle down and suppress these strong emotions until next year. It's such a wonderful cycle!

The main point of this article is to briefly detail the Mariners players who have received a non-zero number of votes for baseball's HOF. (I view this post as somewhat of a companion piece to the article that Ashley wrote at the end of November.)

But first, please allow me to provide you with one more reminder that both the voters and the voting process for election into the HOF are oftentimes broken and hilarious and farcical. It's all a bunch of nonsense. Many of the people who vote for the HOF clearly don't take it very seriously, so maybe we (the fans) should follow suit. At the very least, we probably shouldn't get too upset when ~idiots make ~idiotic decisions.

The following tables include results from the previous 35 years of HOF voting.

Players with 65+ rWAR* who received less than 5% of the vote their first year on the ballot, thereby disqualifying them from future ballots:

Year on ballot
Player rWAR # of HOF votes % of HOF votes
2001 Lou Whitaker 74.9 15 2.9
1992 Bobby Grich 70.9 11 2.6
1997 Rick Reuschel 70.0 2 0.4
2011 Kevin Brown 68.3 12 2.1
2013 Kenny Lofton 68.2 18 3.2
1995 Buddy Bell 66.1 8 1.7
1998 Willie Randolph 65.5 5 1.1

Players with 45+ rWAR who received zero HOF votes:

Year on ballot
Player rWAR
1999 Frank Tanana 57.9
1983 Jim Wynn 55.6
2005 Mark Langston 50.3
2007 Devon White 47.0
1985 Roy White 46.7

Players with less than 10 rWAR who received at least one HOF vote:

Year on ballot
Player rWAR # of HOF votes % of HOF votes
1979 Hal Lanier -0.9 1 0.2
1980 Sonny Jackson 1.6 1 0.3
2007 Dante Bichette 5.5 3 0.6
1985 Jesus Alou 5.8 1 0.3
1984 Jim Bouton 7.6 3 0.7
1980 Steve Blass 7.6 2 0.5
1986 Jack Billingham 7.7 1 0.2
2003 Mark Davis 8.3 1 0.2
1983 Tommy Helms 8.3 1 0.3
1991 Mike Jorgensen 9.3 1 0.2

*I used rWAR because Baseball-Reference makes it really easy to sort between and look up HOF voting data.

A few glaring inconsistencies that should be pointed out:

  • In their first respective years of eligibility, Dante Bichette (5.5 rWAR) received more votes than Rick Reuschel (70.0 rWAR).
  • The average rWAR for the 18 center fielders in the HOF is 70.4. Kenny Lofton, whose rWAR (68.2) is higher than 12 of those men, received only 3.2% of the HOF vote his first year on the ballot and was disqualified from future ballots.
  • A man (Frank Tanana) who has a higher rWAR than Whitey Ford, Sandy Koufax, and Bob Lemon received zero HOF votes.
  • A man (Hal Lanier) with an rWAR lower than Josh Wilson's received a vote for the HOF.

I don't mean to suggest that a player with ~65+ WAR definitely merits serious consideration for the HOF. There are other factors that should influence a voter's decision. It's just bizarre and a bit irksome that the people in the BBWAA can be so damned inconsistent and seemingly thoughtless. I do understand that, given the silly restrictions placed on the voting process, who you vote for and why you vote for them might change over the years... but many times the decisions seem pretty inexcusable. For example, look at the voting results from 2007. Three people thought that Dante Bichette (5.5 WAR) was more deserving of the Hall than Devon White (47 WAR). Lunacy!

Anyway, moving on to players who spent a large portion of their careers with the Mariners. Below are all of the gentlemen who accumulated either 1500+ PA or 500+ IP for the M's and went on to receive at least one HOF vote (these appearance restrictions are a bit arbitrary, but I wanted to make sure that the players who showed up on this list felt fairly Mariner-y). I'm excluding Edgar because Matt and millions of other internet folks have talked about him a lot recently.

Position players with 1500+ PA as a Mariner who received one or more HOF votes:

Year on ballot Player M's PA M's rWAR Career PA Career rWAR % career w/ M's # of HOF votes % of HOF vote
2007 Jay Buhner 5828 22.9 5927 22.9 98.3% 1 0.2%
2011 Bret Boone 3467 19.0 7433 22.6 46.6% 1 0.2%
2011 John Olerud 2976 17.0 9063 58.0 32.8% 4 0.7%
2000 Dave Henderson 2336 7.7 5677 27.6 41.1% 2 0.4%
2011 Tino Martinez 2139 7.7 8044 28.8 26.6% 6 1.0%

Pitchers with 500+ IP as a Mariner who received one or more HOF votes:

Year on ballot Player M's IP M's rWAR Career IP Career rWAR % career w/ M's # of HOF votes % of HOF vote
2003 Rick Honeycutt 560.2 5.5 2160 21.5 25.9% 2 0.4%
2013 Aaron Sele 542.2 4.7 2153 20.2 25.2% 1 0.2%

Seven players for a combined 17 votes! The Seattle Mariners truly are an epic and storied franchise. Of these men, only Buhner and Boone feel like true Mariners. Of course, neither of them likely deserved any votes for the Hall, but it seems like a good percentage of players who accumulate at least 20 WAR end up receiving some token votes. Also, I know it's been said before, but John Olerud is definitely one of the most underrated players of the last 25 years. His rWAR of 58.0 ranks 20th all time among first basemen. To be honest, I'm a little surprised that he spent a full third of his career with the M's - it seemed like he'd been around forever before he joined Seattle. It's a shame that he didn't get more love from the voters.

(Mark Langston also spent five and a half seasons in a Mariners uniform, racking up almost 20 rWAR while pitching ~1200 innings for Seattle, on the way to a career rWAR above 50. However, unfortunately for Mark, he received zero HOF votes and is not eligible for inclusion in the above table.)

Over the next several years, as Randy and Junior (and then Ichiro) become eligible for induction, the Mariners dearth of HOF representation should be ameliorated. And who knows... maybe the majority of voters will get over themselves and realize that, even though Gar was a DH for 70% of his career, hitting .312/.418/.515 over 18 years is damn impressive and sufficient for induction into the HOF. It sure would be nice to see #11 enshrined at Cooperstown. (I wonder if they have room in the Hall for a bronzed geoduck?)

Go Edgar and go M's!