Matt Williams, Hall Of Famer. Rickey Henderson? Not Quite. At Least, According To HOF Voter Corky Simpson.
While his all-time place among the greats most likely depends on how much you value speed vs power, there's no denying that Rickey Henderson is more than deserving of a place in Cooperstown, and will receive that honor this year after Hall of Fame votes are tabulated and the honors are given out.
While I realize that we may never see a player voted into the Hall of Fame unanimously, I still think it's important to note that the current system is dreadfully flawed.
How is this, you ask? It's simple. For starters, Corky Simpson has a Hall of Fame vote.
If you're wondering what's wrong with Corky, just take a look at his article in which he explains his reasoning behind his Hall of Fame ballot. Homer Derby pointed this out as something they discovered while filling in their Hall of Fame Vote Tracker, an outstanding compilation of all of the ballots which have already been made available to the public.
On Corky's list of players he deems worthy of induction: Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Tim Raines, Jim Rice, Alan Trammell and Matt Williams.
Conspicuously omitted: Rickey Henderson.
Simpson didn't forget about Henderson. He mentioned him in the article, in his list of "Others honored with nomination this year and who may well be voted into the Hall of Fame".
Is there anything wrong with not including a player on your Hall of Fame ballot? No, there really isn't. Just like there's nothing wrong with an umpire having a tight strike zone. As long as he's consistent, that is. What's true for umpires is true for Hall of Fame voters. By all means, be picky. Hall of Fame voters are like the bouncers at one of the most exclusive clubs in America. If someone doesn't meet your standards, then don't let them in. It's better to be safe than sorry, and I would much rather see them allow only the best of the best to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
So where the hell does Matt Williams fit in? How does Alan Trammell make the list over Henderson? As an unabashed Red Sox homer, I'd love to see Jim Rice get in, as well. But certainly not over the likes of Rickey Henderson.
As HRD already pointed out, Simpson's justification for Tim Raines sounded surprisingly familiar to anyone knowledgeable about Henderson's career.
"Tim Raines, a seven-time All-Star outfielder, 1986 National League batting champion and four-time base-stealing champ."
While Rickey never was a batting champ, he had 3 seasons in the top 5. Incidentally, Raines was also in the top 5 three times. Henderson was a 10 time all star, and was a four-time base-stealing champ before his 25th birthday. By the end of his career, Rickey led the league in steals 12 times, and was in the top 10 an additional 9 times. He dwarfs Raines in everything that Simpson mentioned, yet Henderson got snubbed.
I don't even think we need to start talking about guys like Matt Williams and Alan Trammell, or even the rest of the players on his ballot, ALL of whom are less deserving than Rickey Henderson.
If you're going to keep out a guy like Rickey Henderson, that's fine. Corky Simpson (and every other voter) most certainly has the right to do that. But can we please see some consistency? Much like the BCS, a system in which people vote to decide the worth of various athletic acheivements is proving to be a huge failure once again.
Corky Simpson: The writer who didn’t vote for Rickey Henderson [Homer Derby]
2009 Baseball Hall of Fame BBWAA Vote Tracker [Homer Derby]
Along the Way: One man’s ballot for baseball’s Hall of Fame [Corky Simpson]