Derek Jeter getting into the Hall of Fame with all but one vote has sparked plenty of debate. There are many reasons for him to have gotten 100%, but I think him falling shy of unanimous is actually the correct result.
Let’s start with the arguments for being the second ever unanimous member of Cooperstown. The simple fact Mariano Rivera earned 100% of the votes a season ago has eliminated the argument of those who have come before not receiving 100% as an argument. Babe Ruth should have been 100%, but you can no longer not vote for someone on that argument. There is also no questioning Jeter’s Hall of Fame resume, so he should land on all the ballots on that argument alone.
Now, for the reasons the one voter who did not vote for him got it right. The argument since the results were announced has been Jeter is easily a top four shortstop of all-time. A top four guy at his position, not top four player all-time, so should a guy you can’t really argue was the best at his own position get 100%, I argue no. On that, he wasn’t the best player of his time, never winning an MVP, and you can argue he wasn’t the best at his position at any point of his career. Cal Ripken Jr. was better than Jeter early on, and Alex Rodriguez was already in the big leagues when Jeter debuted, and he was the better player most of, if not their entire careers.
Now, there has often been an argument to spread out votes to players who need a boost or to keep them on the ballot an extra year, but the ballot was rather weak this season so that isn’t a valid argument. Another issue with the vote is the fact it is a secret ballot. Baseball writers vote for the Hall of fame, yet their names and ballots are not made public. Those who are tasked with writing the story of baseball literally vote for the stories, yet they are not made to make their opinions public. This needs to change and that may make it more common to see 100% vote getters, or at least make those who don’t vote for a guy like Jeter explain themselves. The writer who did not vote for Jeter has a quality argument for not voting, but the fans of the game do deserve an explication.