Cover image for Outrageous fortune : what's wrong with Hall of Fame voting and how to make it statistically sound
Outrageous fortune : what's wrong with Hall of Fame voting and how to make it statistically sound
Vail, James F., 1948-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., [2001]

Physical Description:
290 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV863.A1 V34 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, enshrines some players whose worthiness seems questionable to the game's most knowledgeable fans--and excludes others whose credentials are remarkable. Critics of the current voting system, which uses two sets of electors and has been used for over sixty years, argue that it is too subjective--the only measurable requirement is that the player have at least ten years of major league service at the position for which he is selected. This critical and statistical study identifies the errors of selection and omission in Hall of Fame voting. It proposes a method that adapts objective, statistical criteria to the current selection process. The method preserves positives that exist in the current subjective method, while simultaneously reducing the likelihood of injustices to players, managers, and Negro Leaguers.

Author Notes

The late James F. Vail was a writer and researcher. He was a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and lived in Phoenix, Arizona.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In this sequel to his The Road to Cooperstown (CH, Jun'02), Vail applies normal distribution theory to data whose normality is not clear-cut; that is, he attempts to objectify a process (election to the Hall of Fame) that is by nature subjective. One of the charms of baseball is the opportunity it presents to dispute the merits of players, managers, and teams during the off-season. One of the validity criteria Vail employs is that of the predictability of his z-scores to the actual outcome of votes for various awards. He seems unaware of the irony that if his method predicted with 100 percent accuracy, there would be no need for his method. Despite the foregoing criticisms, this volume has much to recommend it. It is well written and provides an analysis of player career performances that electors might well use to help determine whom to include on their ballots. His career z-scores reveal only one eligible in the top 20 pitchers, and none in the top 40 nonpitchers, who have not yet been elected to the Hall. Based on his statistics, a number of players deserve serious consideration. Unfortunately, Vail does not provide the meanings of symbols and italics in the tables. ^BSumming Up: Optional. Strong sports collections. W. F. Gustafson emeritus, San Jose State University

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
1 Subjectivity versus Statisticsp. 7
2 Subjective Injusticep. 17
3 Lies, Damn Lies and Z Scoresp. 40
4 Postseason Honorsp. 62
5 Cooperstown Standardsp. 80
6 Simply Era-sistiblep. 96
7 Doin' the Time Warp Againp. 117
8 Just Doing Their Jobsp. 131
9 A Question of Balancep. 149
10 The Pick of the Litterp. 166
11 The Cooperstown Baselinep. 188
12 Dugout Geniusesp. 214
13 The Token Fewp. 234
14 The Z-Score Solutionp. 248
Appendixp. 259
Indexp. 275