I’m going to make a statement that some may consider controversial. Jon Finkel is a borderline Magic: the Gathering Hall of Famer. The numbers back me up on this. Overall, his performances by themselves are impressive and worthy of discussion for his inclusion in the Hall, but they are hardly a lock.
Now here’s the rub: I’m only talking about Jon’s performance after his initial induction in the Hall of Fame. I’m referring to his second career, so to speak. I excluded everything he did to initially cement his legacy and am only looking at the last decade’s worth of events. Players only become eligible for the Hall of Fame if, among other things, they debuted on the Pro Tour at least 10 years ago. Jon was inducted in 2005. That was 10 years ago. So here we are.
Jon’s career certainly hasn’t been as prolific since then, but it’s been pretty darn good. Take a look:
There’s not much of a comparison there at all, though perhaps it’s worth noting that Jon has an almost identical median across his pre and post HOF days. Otherwise, he’s played in just over half as many events but the counting numbers are almost all fewer than half of his pre-HOF days (except wins). If Jon had kept up his pre-HOF pace, in the same 28 events we would have seen 6 top 8s instead of 3, 10 top 16s instead of 6, 12 top 32s instead of 9 and 14 top 64s instead of 12. This isn’t to say the post-HOF numbers are bad. They’re borderline HOF-worthy! That’s more of a commentary on how absurdly great his pre-HOF numbers are.
So let’s talk about that “borderline” qualifier. How would second-career-Jon fare in voting? I compared his post-HOF career with the HOF standards I calculate yearly:
Green numbers indicate Jon bested the HOF standard and red indicates he didn’t. As you can see, Jon meets all of the HOF minimums. As you can also see, he is below the median in the majority of categories. The only exceptions are career median – remember this is where he even improved over his pre-HOF days – and wins where he is tied. He’s very close to the HOF median in both 15-event median and top 16s. Considering how many fewer events he’s played in than the HOF median, that top 16 number is especially impressive.
I think that, if this were how voting went and people had to re-qualify for the Hall of Fame every 10 years, Jon would have a small shot. It would likely depend on who else was on the ballot. For reference, here are last year’s inductees as compared to faux-Jon.
In this class, Jon’s only standout numbers are his medians. His rate numbers are great, but he simply hasn’t played as many events as others on the ballot. Maybe in another year or 2 he’d get in. If this alternate universe required that voters ignore candidates’ previous accomplishments and focus only on the specified 10-year period, I don’t think I’d vote for Jon. I would also probably have a really hard time distancing my thought process from his otherworldly pre-HOF career and feel like an idiot for not voting for him. But fake rules are fake rules and who would I be to argue them?
This is all obviously moot. There’s no requirement to re-certify Hall of Fame standards. Once you’re in, you’re in. This is something I’m sure very many HOF members are happy about. The point is, Jon has continued to be a top tier player even after his qualification for events no longer required it. He didn’t rest on his laurels. All he did was skip some events and crush dreams at the rest.