A quality start for Mark Buehrle’s Hall of Fame support

It’s hard to tell if Cooperstown got good or bad news on Wednesday night, but pragmatic White Sox fans could claim unequivocal victory.

No players met the 75 percent threshold to gain entry into the Hall of Fame, with Curt Schilling topping out at 71.1 percent. It’s the first time the Baseball Writers Association of America failed to induct a player since 2013.

But toward the bottom of the ballot, Mark Buehrle cleared the 5 percent minimum by more than double. He led all first-time candidates with 11 percent of the vote, getting selected on 44 of 401 ballots.

That’s a good showing for Buehrle, as long as you acknowledged that any path to baseball’s greatest honor was going to be a slog. It’s even more encouraging for his durability that he garnered support from those who don’t make their ballot public. He ran at 8.3 percent on the 195 ballots collected by Ryan Thibodaux’s crew, versus 13.1 percent on the private ballots. It’s possible that Buehrle received some nods from voters who thought he might not get another chance, but he has quite a bit of cushion to absorb the loss of such fleeting support.

Because Buehrle’s case is more idiosyncratic than elite, it’s possible he’ll never garner more support than the low double-digits. Still, I’ll point you to Scott Rolen, this cycle’s biggest success story. Rolen advanced past 50 percent for the first time in four chances, which represents a ton of progress.

In his first year, Rolen netted support on just 10.2 percent of the vote.

Here’s how the rest of the field fared:

Player2019%2020%Net
Curt Schilling70.071.11.1
Barry Bonds60.761.81.1
Roger Clemens61.061.60.6
Scott Rolen35.352.917.6
Omar Vizquel52.649.1-3.5
Billy Wagner31.746.414.7
Todd Helton29.244.915.7
Gary Sheffield30.540.610.1
Andruw Jones19.433.914.5
Jeff Kent27.532.44.9
Manny Ramirez28.228.20
Sammy Sosa13.917.03.1
Andy Pettitte11.313.72.4
Mark Buehrlen/a11.0n/a
Torii Huntern/a9.5n/a
Bobby Abreu5.58.73.2
Tim Hudsonn/a5.2n/a

By crossing 50 percent with six years remaining on the ballot, Rolen looks like he’s on the scenic route to the Hall. That’s great to see, because he clears all the standards for enshrined third basemen. Todd Helton and Billy Wagner also made strides to put themselves in the picture.

The rest of the ballot is much messier. The two players who appeared on track for enshrinement this year or the next couldn’t find voters for the next step. Schilling stalled out in the low-70s because he’s an increasingly toxic CHUD who is using the results to martyr himself, while Vizquel has disturbing domestic abuse allegations hanging over his head.

Unfortunately, Vizquel isn’t alone. Bonds and Jones were accused of abuse by their partners, and Clemens had a pretty gross relationship with a teenager. With the ballot’s biggest holdovers carrying so much baggage, the Hall’s directors might breathe a sigh of relief that they won’t have anybody spoiling Derek Jeter’s COVID-delayed induction, whenever it’s allowed to commence.

You have to look at the undercards to settle for silver lining. Buehrle’s initial round of support registers as a positive, and while I’ve made the case that Buehrle might benefit from starter reconsideration as ballot after ballot produces pitchers who couldn’t match his brand of excellence, he may also enjoy earlier benefits of being a guy voters wouldn’t feel awful about backing.

* * * * * * * * *

Another positive development for White Sox fans: Joe Posnanski closed out his review of the top 100 players not in the Hall of Fame with a very surprising No. 1: Saturnino Orestes Armas (Minnie) Miñoso Arrieta. It’s not surprising Miñoso made the list, but it is odd seeing him ahead of Bonds, Clemens and Pete Rose, and I’m here for it. As Posnanski says, beyond being a great player, Miñoso was “a force for good in the game.”

Posnanski covers Miñoso’s career in great detail — the years he lost to the color barrier’s slow dissolution, the battles he endured as Chicago’s first Black MLB player, the success he enjoyed for teams that couldn’t quite topple the Yankees, the post-retirement comebacks that trivialized his record.

He also emphasizes the point that I feel hasn’t been properly appreciated: Miñoso’s existence as a double minority, dealing with prejudices stemming from the color of his skin and his first language. That also meant that he was a double pioneer, blazing a trail as a Black ballplayer in Chicago, and for future Latin American Hall of Famers.

Speaking of Roberto Clemente, there has been some talk — rightfully so — about retiring his number for every team because of the extraordinary impact he had on the game. Well, Miñoso was Clemente’s hero. Miñoso was Hall of Famer Tony Pérez’s hero. Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda called Miñoso the Jackie Robinson for Latinos.

I’m thinking — hoping — that the recategorization of the Negro Leagues as a major league will make Miñoso’s missing years tangible and get him over the hump. It’ll be too late for him to enjoy it, but there are so many other people ready to be happy for him.

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Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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As Cirensica

Joe’s article on Minoso is fantastic, and I encourage every Sox fan or just baseball fan, to read it.

asinwreck

Agreed; my favorite piece of his writing in several years. It is also a useful consideration of why there is a Hall of Fame in the first place, and how we should think about who is — and who is not — commemorated there. (See also the essay on his #2 candidate Buck O’Neil.)

ParisSox

I love Dan Haren’s twitter handle. @ithrow88

joewho112

I really enjoyed his message yesterday

According to twittter I was NOT elected to the baseball hall of fame. They will tell me I’m taken off the ballot next year, but I’d first like to announce that I’m REMOVING MYSELF from next years ballot and any going forward.

Last edited 1 year ago by joewho112
Trooper Galactus

First-rate hashtag.

quickly0and2

What year will Buehrle get a statue on the concourse at the ballpark? I think it will happen sometime. It should anyway.

Right Size Wrong Shape

For the statue do you go with flipping the ball between his legs, or holding his head with both hands after the perfect game?

asinwreck

Tarp sliding. No other possibility.

As Cirensica

Clearly Buehrle deserves more than one statue

Trooper Galactus

Maybe a 3-in-1 composite?

Oddvark

How do you capture “get the ball, throw the ball” in a statue?

Right Size Wrong Shape

It should be an ice sculpture that melts in less than 2 hours.

Trooper Galactus

Have Buehrle posed at the end of his windup with a batter 60’6″ away still stepping to the plate.

Michael Kenny

Put his head on a swivel so he’s perpetually accepting the catcher’s sign.

andyfaust

I thought the ball flip to Konerko was a missed opportunity to have another 2-in-1 statue featuring both of them not unlike the Louie and Nellie one. The existing Konerko statue always looked awkward to me. I appreciate what they were trying to capture as much as anyone, but I always thought it looked strange.

Another possibility for Buehrle’s statue would be to have it not on the main concourse, but rather down in the Sox pen, in a seated position, holding a cup.

This unassuming, inconspicuous tribute would also be a nod to his excellence achieved through humble modesty as both the statue and his excellence would be easy to miss by casual fans.

joewho112

In honesty, I kinda forgot he didn’t already have one

carbiner

Buehrle will probably get like 20-25% until he drops off and be an instant veteran’s committee selection; unless he pulls an inverse Schilling or something (e.g. Roy Halladay strats)

Last edited 1 year ago by carbiner
Right Size Wrong Shape

He should take himself off of the ballot so that he can get to Reinsdorf’s committee before he dies.