This week, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced 10 names that will be considered for induction in 2017. For this round, the Eras Committee is tasked with considering the Hall merits of Bud Selig, George Steinbrenner, John Schuerholz, Davey Johnson, Lou Piniella, Harold Baines, Mark McGwire, Albert Belle, Orel Hershiser, and Will Clark. For those unfamiliar with this particular process, let's break it down in FAQ format ...
What's the "Eras Committee"?
This is the voting body that was formerly known as the Veterans' Committee. This, of course, is distinct from the Baseball Writers Association of American (BBWAA), whose tenured members vote on eligible players each year. The BBWAA vote is the process we most often think of when we think of someone making it in the Hall of Fame. However, it's the most prominent of two ways to get in. The Eras Committee is the other way. The committee is tasked with not only evaluating players passed over by the BBWAA but also considering the cases of managers, executives, and umpires. The Veterans' Committee/Eras Committee has been voting on Hall of Famers since 1937, so it's as much of a part of the process as is the BBWAA balloting.
So what eras does the Eras Committee consider?
The Eras Committee will consider the case of players/managers/execs/umps from four different eras: Today's Game, from 1988-2016; Modern Baseball, from 1970-1987; Golden Days, from 1950-1969; and Early Baseball, from 1871-1949. As you probably figured out, this particular ballot comes from the Today's Game era.
Who's on each committee?
Each committee comprises 16 members. The members are current Hall of Famers, executives, and long-time member of the media.
Who determines which names make it on to a Eras Committee ballot?
A BBWAA-staffed screening committee picks 10 names from each era for consideration each time the relevant committee is scheduled to convene.
How often are figures from each era considered for election?
Here's the ballot schedule for the various committees:
- Today's Game Committee: twice every five years, starting in 2016;
- Modern Baseball Committee: twice every five years, starting in 2017;
- Golden Days Committee: once every five years, starting in 2020;
- Early Baseball Committee: once every 10 years, starting in 2030.
What does it take for a candidate to get elected?
As is the case with the BBWAA election, a candidate must be named on at least 75 percent of ballots to be elected to the Hall of Fame. For the Eras Committee, that means at least 12 of the 16 ballots. Eras Committee members don't have to vote for any candidates, but they can vote for as many as four on any given ballot.
What are the criteria for election?
Per the Hall of Fame, they are as follows:
- Players who played in at least 10 major league seasons, who are not on Major League Baseball's ineligible list, and have been retired for 15 or more seasons;
- Managers and umpires with 10 or more years in baseball and retired for at least five years. Candidates who are 65 years or older are eligible six months following retirement;
- Executives retired for at least five years. Active executives 70 years or older are eligible for consideration.
In the case of the players on the Eras Committee ballots, they've fallen off the BBWAA ballot. Players are removed from the BBWAA ballot if they've been on 10 years without being elected or if they fail to be named on 5.0 percent of ballots in a given year.
What do voters consider with regard to an individual candidate?
With the Eras Committee, the standards are the same as those of the BBWAA ballot. To quote the ballot instructions, voters "shall consider all candidates and voting shall be based upon the individual's record, ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contribution to the game."
Who's likely to get in this time around?
Selig seems like sure bet. If Bowie Kuhn is in, which he is, then the bar for commissioners is remarkably low. As well, regardless of how you feel about Selig as a commissioner, he wielded great power, and his reign was a transformative one. Similarly, Steinbrenner and Schuerholz seem like strong bets to pass muster with the committee. Voters have also been quite favorable toward modern managers, which could bode well for Johnson and Piniella.
As for the players, no one stands out as an obvious selection -- that's necessarily the case, since all were passed over by the BBWAA. Per Jay Jaffe's JAWS system, none of the players on the ballot -- Albert Belle, Will Clark, Mark McGwire, Harold Baines, and Orel Hershiser -- meet the established Hall of Fame standards in terms of overall value produced by Hall of Famers at their respective positions. McGwire comes the closest, but his admitted use of PEDs of course complicates his case for a number of voters. All that said, the Veterans' Committee/Eras Committee has historically had lower standards for players than has the BBWAA.
When will we find out the results of the vote?
The Today's Game Committee vote will vote on Dec. 5 at the winter meetings and announced shortly thereafter. Any candidates being elected will be inducted alongside those candidates making it via the BBWAA ballot on July 30, 2017, in Cooperstown.