There were interesting first-timers on the ballot, as well, such as designated hitter Edgar Martinez (how do you value a guy who didn’t play the field for much of his career?), long-time Reds shortstop Barry Larkin and All-Star second baseman Roberto Alomar.
But there was one thing definitely missing from the ballot: A Jew.
Mind you, none were even up for consideration, so it’s not like I can vent about some kind of Hall of Fame anti-Semitism. But there’s not even anyone on the list of finalists for the Ford C. Frick Award, given each year to a broadcaster (unless there’s something about Lanny Frattare we don’t know). We’re not even excelling in the broadcast booth these days.
Of course, I’m only kidding — sort of.
I shouldn’t complain, right? What with Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax in the Hall, not to mention lesser known Lou Boudreau (lesser known about his Jewish background, not as a player/manager) and sort-of Jew Rod Carew (that’s right, he never actually converted). And of course there’s Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss. There are 291 Hall of Famers right now enshrined in Cooperstown. If we count Carew, we’ve got five of them. That’s 1.72 percent. Considering that most estimates I’ve found of our percentage in the U.S. population is at about 2 percent or so, we’re just about right.
Forgive me, though, for wanting more. Maybe I’m greedy, but I’d like more excellence in this area. I hate to propel a stereotype, but what would the percentage of Jews be in the doctor hall of fame? Or the male-pattern baldness hall? I bet we’d corner the market if they ever decided to build the lactose intolerance hall of fame.
There are a number of Jewish Major Leaguers as we speak. Some have been All-Stars in the past couple of years, as I’ve written about. Who knows, maybe someday we’ll be talking about Ryan Braun or perhaps even Ian Kinsler and their chances of being inducted in Cooperstown. But who wants to wait that long?
Luckily, we don’t have to. Shawn Green retired after the 2007 season with the Mets. As the voting rules state, “Players who are eligible have played 10 seasons of Major League Baseball and have been retired for five full seasons. For example, those players eligible for consideration in 2010 will have played their final game in 2004. Those players eligible for consideration in 2011 will have last played in 2005, etc.”
That means that Green will be eligible in 2013 for the first time. It’s an interesting class, to say the least, with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa also appearing for the first time. Maybe Green gets some votes simply for not being accused of taking steroids at any point.
Seriously, though, does Green even have a shot? He was a two-time All-Star who finished in the top 10 in MVP voting three different times in his career. He topped 40 homers three times and 100 RBIs four times, finishing with 328 HR and 1070 RBIs over his 15-year career. He also stole 162 bases, with one 30-30 season to his credit.
The site Baseball-Reference.com has two indicators for Hall of Fame credentials. The first is the Hall of Fame Monitor, which measures how likely (not how deserving) a player is to get in. Green scores a 62. A likely Hall of Famer is around 100. The second is the Hall of Fame Standards, which is more about how deserving a player is by measuring the quality of his career. Green grabs a 33 on that scale; an average Hall of Famer, 50.
In short, he falls a bit short. A nice career, but it’s looking like the only way he gets into Cooperstown is if he visits with his family. And it leaves us hoping Braun and Kinsler keep it up.
(Jonathan Mayo, The Chronicle’s sports columnist and a staff writer for MLB.com, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)