Constructing a Periodic Table

Click the image to see the full chart.

There are few charts in the world as well-known and recognizable as the Periodic Table of the Elements. On charts and folders and schoolbooks everywhere, the periodic table has been around for almost 150 years. It has been in use for so long thanks in large part to its ability to tell a complex and sophisticated story about the known elements in the world in a simple layout.

With 118 elements known on the current chart, and 109 players elected to the Hall of Fame by either the BBWAA or via special election (no Veteran’s Committee here!), it seemed like a fun exercise to try and arrange the Hall of Famers into a periodic table structure. Well, maybe “fun” is a bit relative.

I took up the challenge anyway. You can view the full results by clicking on the image above or checking out the Periodic Table of Hall of Famers right here. Click “Read More” below to read more about the table’s structure.

I can’t promise that I’m completely right here – people who have had more science classes than me may want to jump in and correct my mistakes – but, the way I understand it, the periodic table describes elements from more reactive on the left to not-at-all reactive on the right, and from calmer at the top to crazier at the bottom. The first three rows act a little more mellow than the rest of the chart as well. And, depending on the chart that you’re looking at, the other elements are grouped together in various ways.

The Periodic Table of Hall of Famers was created keeping all that in mind.

  • The game’s most noble players make up the right-most column, with the most radioactive players making up the left-most column. The radioactive players go from most benign to most dangerous from top-to-bottom.
  • Every effort was made to keep the top-tier Hall of Famers in the first three rows of the chart, or as close to it as possible.
  • The second-to-right-most column on the periodic table of elements is the second-most reactive group of elements. On the Periodic Table of Hall of Famers, this comes out as the highly temperamental Hall of Famers, those who were known for being jerks on the field but who aren’t looked at as bad guys today.
  • The 500-Home Run Club is represented together on the chart, as well as the group of 300-Game Winners. The 3,000-Hit Club is also grouped together, down below.
  • Other smaller groups are the Hall of Fame relief pitchers, the players known mainly for their defense, and those who made the Hall despite a short career (which usually means a very high peak).
  • The rest of the Hall of Famers are shown together in the bulk of the table. For these – and for all of the different groups, really – I made an effort to keep the best to the top and right. Other factors, such as their personality, were also included, as described above.
  • Three players not voted in by the regular BBWAA process are included on the chart as well. They are mostly there because I liked how well they fit in with the concept of the chart. Hey, it’s my chart – I get to be as subjective as I want.

There’s plenty here to bicker over, I’m sure. In fact, I look forward to hearing the nitpicks. Leave as many in the comments as you’d like. Overall, though, the Periodic Table of Hall of Famers does a good job in showing the make-up of the Hall, as it pertains to the regularly elected members. Upcoming picks will do their best to screw with its construction – where will Barry Bonds go? Does he unseat Babe Ruth for the top spot? Or does he sink down below Ty Cobb? And what about Greg Maddux? Roger Clemens? Pedro Martinez? – but there’s not much I can do with that.

At least, not until we succeed in turning baseball history into a completely objective and natural science like chemistry. But that’s what, five, ten years away? In the meantime, enjoy the chart.

Larry Granillo

About Larry Granillo

Larry Granillo has been writing Wezen Ball since 2008 and has dealt with such touchy topics as Charlie Brown's baseball stats and Ferris Bueller's day off. In 2010, he got the bright idea to time every home run trot in baseball; he has been missing ever since.