Chris Russo’s strong opinions on voting for the National Baseball Hall of Fame are exactly why the process is the bane of my winter existence.
Chris Russo is exactly what’s wrong with the voting process for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
He’s part of a high-minded group of baseball media members who think they know better than the stats. And every year, without fail, those members make a mockery of the Hall of Fame ballot, routinely turning in completely blank ballots with legitimate candidates being snubbed.
On Tuesday morning, Russo had this to say about the Hall of Fame voting process on MLB Network:
“I’m not voting for Billy Wagner, not great in the big game… The Hall of Fame is supposed to be about greatness. And there’s been a big trend in recent years with the analytics and everything else to put the very good in there and I still think the eye test is most important. I think that if you look at a baseball player and you watch enough ballgames and you see him operate under a period of time, you know if the guy’s a Hall of Famer.”
Well what do you know Chris Russo?
What is it about you that makes you uniquely qualified to disregard the most comprehensive statistics that we have? Are we to assume that you’re right and the cold hard data is wrong just because you say it on national television?
It seems appropriate to bring up one of my favorite thoughts on people that rely strictly on the eye test. If your eye test says something different than the advanced statistics, you probably just have a bad eye.
We no longer have any need for the eye test. The statistics we have access to in the year 2020 can explain almost everything that happens on a baseball field. We even have stats that explain how lucky or unlucky players are based on their expected stats compared to their actual stats.
So why is Chris Russo so confident that his untrained eye is a better judge of a player than the cold, hard data? Because he’s a high-minded media member who thinks he knows more than he actually does. He thinks he’s been doing this long enough to know better than everyone else “just because”.
“Just because” is a bad argument. If you can’t back up your opinion with stats, your opinion is most likely wrong.
At the end of the day, the baseball hall of fame is just a really cool museum. Voters tend to think of the voting process as this divine baseball responsibility. But nobody is going to write off the legitimacy of the hall of fame because Billy Wagner, who’s sixth all time on the saves leaderboard, got in. Even if he “didn’t get the big outs in big games” according to a television host ten years after the end of his career.
There’s no shortage of problems with the hall of fame voting process. Russo isn’t the only self-appointed gatekeeper of the game that needs to take a step back. But this thought process is absolutely asinine.
You can’t just assume that you know better than the stats because “I watched it live.”
Humble yourself, Chris Russo. You’re not that important to the history of the game.