These numbers drop if you only include Hall of Famers inducted as a player. Then, 208 players of them are Hall of Famers (1.2%). 9.1% of plate appearances and 7.0% of innings pitched were performed by Hall of Fame players.
Recent seasons are very low because most players who played in those seasons are not yet eligible for the Hall of Fame. For example, Roger Clemens will be on the next Hall of Fame ballot and his career began in 1984. So, if we look at the percentages only through 1983, then 12.7% of plate appearances and 10.0 percent of innings pitched were performed by Hall of Famers (11.9% and 9.8% if you only include those in the Hall as a player).
Here’s how the numbers look over time for all Hall of Famers:
For more analysis on the changes over time, read the post at Beyond the Box Score.
I was thinking about this some more and I want to play devilÆs advocate—with myself. Maybe percentage isn’t the best way to look at this? Maybe there should only be a certain (raw) number of Hall of Famers at any given time—regardless of how many teams and players there are in big league baseball. So, rather than saying the top x percent should be Hall of Famers, maybe it’s just the top x players.
How do the raw numbers look over time?