Now that we've hit the offseason, one of the several areas of focus becomes the next Hall of Fame class. It has the potential to be a big one. In addition to the BBWAA ballot that inducted zero people in its 2021 class, there will be two Era Committee -- formerly and still often called "Veterans Committee" -- ballots.
It's important to keep in mind that most people when they think of Hall of Fame voting in baseball it's the BBWAA ballot. Big names like Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Scott Rolen, Todd Helton, Billy Wagner, Gary Sheffield, Andruw Jones will be joined by Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz this time around. That ballot won't be discussed much until December because it hasn't been released yet.
Just remember that is not what we're talking about here. These committees vote on people such as managers, coaches, executives, pioneers, commissioners and players that either fell off or never were on the BBWAA ballot.
On this ballot, committees meet behind closed doors to discuss the candidates and then hold a vote during the annual Winter Meetings. It's way smaller than a BBWAA vote. These committees consist of 16 people. Any player getting 12 votes will join the BBWAA Hall of Fame class at the induction ceremony next summer, though many would be posthumous inductions.
Further, last season's Winter Meetings were held virtually so there was no committee vote, meaning there are two committees this time.
Yeah, it's a lot.
Early Era ballot
This draws from potential candidates whose greatest contribution to the game was before 1950.
Bill Dahlen - He played parts of 21 seasons in the majors, beginning in 1891. He hit .272 with a .358 on-base percentage and compiled 2,461 hits and 1,590 runs with 548 stolen bases. He had 84 home runs, which looks small now, but when he retired he was the career leader.
John Donaldson - For more than 30 years, Donaldson pitched in different Negro Leagues with a reputation for being one of the best in the game. He also played outfield and was a manager. He's credited with helping to establish the "barnstorming" business that helped Black teams make a profit.
Bud Fowler - Per the press release, Fowler is widely acknowledged as the first Black professional baseball player and later helped form a barnstorming team.
Vic Harris - He spent 18 seasons in Negro Leagues, mostly serving as the left fielder for the well-known Homestead Grays. The available stats show him as a .305/.372/.427 hitter. He also managed the Grays for 11 years, winning seven pennants and a World Series.
Grant "Home Run" Johnson - From the press release, he "was a shortstop and second baseman in the pre-Negro Leagues era who helped form the Page Fence Giants barnstorming team. A powerful hitter and occasional pitcher, Johnson played for early powerhouse teams like the Brooklyn Royal Giants and New York Lincoln Giants."
Lefty O'Doul - In parts of 11 MLB seasons, O'Doul hit .349/.413/.532 (143 OPS+), winning two batting titles and finishing in the top two of MVP voting twice. Perhaps his greatest plus, however, is helping to spread the game to Japan. He trained many young Japanese players and is credited as one of the founders of Nippon Professional Baseball (their version of MLB). He was the first American inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.
Buck O'Neil - He had an admirable career in 10 Negro League seasons, a three-time All-Star, but O'Neil's place on this ballot isn't really for that. He's one of the most influential people in Negro League history, helping to found the Negro League Baseball Hall of Fame in Kansas City and serving as an ambassador of sorts in integration. He became a scout for the Cubs and later became the first Black coach in MLB. Living until 94, O'Neil became a beloved legend in baseball circles.
Dick "Cannonball" Redding - A power pitcher in the Negro Leagues in the '20s, he was regarded as the hardest thrower in any league. He's reportedly credited with several no-hitters and also managed for several years.
Allie Reynolds - He had a 13-year career, most well-known for his eight seasons with the Yankees. Reynolds was 182-107 with a 3.30 ERA (109 ERA+) and was a six-time All-Star. He won an ERA title, led the league in strikeouts twice and was part of the rotation for six World Series champion Yankees teams. In those series, he was 7-2 with a 2.79 ERA. He threw two World Series shutouts.
George "Tubby" Scales - Available data shows him in parts of 20 seasons in Negro Leagues play. He hit .319/.421/.509 (147 OPS+) with 162-game averages of 166 hits, 37 doubles, seven triples, 15 homers, 118 RBI, 105 runs and 12 steals. He also managed for six seasons in the Negro Leagues and 12 in Puerto Rican Winter League play, taking the 1951 Caribbean World Series title.
It would appear the strongest cases are O'Neil, O'Doul and Scales but there's an awful lot to consider above.
Golden Days Era ballot
These candidates had their greatest contribution to the game between 1950-69.
Dick Allen - I covered Allen's case when he died last December. He should get in.
Ken Boyer - In a 15-year playing career, Boyer hit .287/.349/.462 (116 OPS+) with 2,143 hits, 282 home runs, 1,141 RBI and 1,104 runs. He was an 11-time All-Star, five-time Gold Glove winner and took the 1964 MVP. His Cardinals won the World Series that year, too. Boyer sits 14th in JAWS at third base, sitting behind 11 Hall of Famers, Adrian Beltre (he's headed there when eligible), Scott Rolen (might make it this year) and Graig Nettles.
Gil Hodges - After serving in World War II, Hodges returned to play 17 more seasons, hitting .273/.359/.487 (120 OPS+) with 1,921 hits, 295 doubles, 370 homers, 1,274 RBI and 1,105 runs. He was an eight-time All-Star and played on seven pennant-winning and two World Series championship Dodgers teams. He also managed nine years and was the skipper for the 1969 "Miracle Mets" World Series championship.
Jim Kaat - The long-time lefty lasted a whopping 25 seasons in the majors. He went 283-237 with a 3.45 ERA (108 ERA+). He was a three-time All-Star and won 16 Gold Gloves. He was a part of the 1982 World Series champion Cardinals. He 4,530 1/3 innings are 25th all time.
Roger Maris - Many know all about Maris' chase for the single-season home run record in 1961 and he pulled it off with 61 homers. That record stood until 1998, in the heart of the so-called Steroid Era. What some don't know is that 1961 season actually marked back-to-back MVPs for Maris. He also led the league in RBI twice. In his career, he hit .260/.345/.476 (127 OPS+) with 275 homers and 850 RBI.
Minnie Miñoso - One of the first Latino players and All-Stars, Miñoso is considered the first Black Cuban player in the majors. The Cuban Comet led the league in triples four times and steals three times. In parts of 20 seasons, he hit .299/.387/.461 (130 OPS+) with 2,110 hits, 365 doubles, 95 triples, 195 homers, 1,093 RBI, 1,225 runs and 216 steals. He was a 13-time All-Star.
Danny Murtaugh - Murtaugh managed the Pirates for 15 years, winning four division titles, two pennants and two World Series, including the 1960 series where they took down the heavily-favored Yankees on Bill Mazeroski's famous walk-off homer.
Tony Oliva - Oliva led the league in hits five times, doubles four times, average three times, slugging once, runs once and total bases once. He won Rookie of the Year, a Gold Glove and was a seven-time All-Star. Though he didn't win an MVP, he finished second twice and fourth once. He finished his 15-year career hitting .304/.353/.476 (131 OPS+).
Billy Pierce - A seven-time All-Star who won the 1955 ERA title, Pierce went 211-169 with a 3.27 ERA in his career. He led the league complete games three straight years in the middle of his career and amassed 193 with 38 shutouts in his career.
Maury Wills - In parts of 14 seasons, Wills racked up 586 stolen bases, leading the league six times. He won the 1962 MVP along with two Gold Gloves and seven All-Star Games. He won three World Series rings with the Dodgers, going 11 for 30 with three doubles and three steals in the 1962 Fall Classic. In his career, he hit .281/.330/.331 (88 OPS+).
Miñoso and Allen are overdue. There are several other strong candidates here, too, notably Boyer and then probably Hodges with the 1969 Mets managing giving his playing days a boost.
The "Today's Game" ballot (biggest contribution 1988-present) comes next winter meetings with "Modern Baseball" (1970-87) coming in the 2023 Winter Meetings.