Hall of Fame Recap

A million things to get to here, so much time so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.

Headline: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas elected to the Hall of Fame.

Let’s get to the good stuff first. This will be the biggest class elected by the Baseball Writer’s Association of America since 1999, when George Brett, Nolan Ryan and Robin Yount were elected. When you throw in the three managers elected unanimously by the Expansion Era Committee (Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox), we have a powerhouse Hall of Fame event, one of the biggest in the museum’s 75 year history. After last year’s dud of a ceremony, they need it.

We should take a moment to celebrate that three great players got in, even if they were obvious. I don’t think many people would deny that Maddux, Glavine and Thomas are Hall of Famers. You could argue that Mike Mussina was a better candidate than Glavine or that Jeff Bagwell was at least the equal of Frank Thomas or any number of other gripes.

But at least this. Last year, when the Hall of Fame voted for zero players, it was an embarrassment for the Hall of Fame, an embarrassment for the BBWAA and it was lousy for baseball fans. There was some concern, especially in the aftermath of that disaster, that the BBWAA would only elect Maddux. Instead, the group voted in the three most obvious candidate.

Like I say: At least this.

* * *

Headline: Sixteen people do not vote for Greg Maddux.

Does a player’s Hall of Fame percentage matter in the long run? No. It doesn’t. If you get 75%, you are a Hall of Famer. As far as I know, they don’t have any special backdoor clubs where only the 95 percenters get to drink good gin and play poker.

That said: Sixteen! I thought four or five might not vote for Maddux. Sixteen is a lot. I mean, sure, 19 people didn’t vote for Ted Williams, but a lot of writers hated Ted. Sure 38 didn’t vote for Mickey Mantle but, uh, you know, he, um, didn’t hit.300 for his career. Or something. Sure, 22 people didn’t vote for Willie Mays but … OK, I’m going to stop this now, there have always been indefensible choices by the BBWAA.*

*Pete Rose weighed in on this on Twitter by saying: “If Mays, Aaron, Musial and Ruth didn’t get the unanimous vote than(sic) no one should.”

I’ve heard this reasoning before … and on gut level it makes some sense. But when you break it down, it falls apart for me, and not because of the “Just because there were injustices before doesn’t mean you repeat them,” line. That may be true too, but my issue with the “If Mays wasn’t unanimous no one should be” philosophy is that the vote isn’t some cooperative project where a foreman says, “You, you, you, and you — this year, you don’t vote for Maddux … after all, Ruth wasn’t voted unanimously. We’ve got a tradition to uphold!”

No, some schmuck has to take it upon himself to not vote for Maddux. He or she has to look at the name GREG MADDUX on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot — four Cy Youngs, 355 wins, 3,000-plus strikeouts, a period of dominance that matches the best this game has ever had — and say, “Nope. Not checking that box.”

This year, 15 of those schmucks didn’t vote for Maddux and (at least so far) never even explained why.

Here’s something I DID notice: Sixteen people did not vote for Maddux. But only ONE — the now famous Ken Gurnick — made his vote public. He backed up his vote. This is something I respect.

And I decided to look into this a little bit.

Through the fantastic Baseball Think Factor Ballot Collecting Gizmo, we have 209 ballots (we’ll count the Deadspin ballot too — more on that in a minute).

That leaves 362 ballots that were not made public.

OK, now look at this:

The public ballots averaged 8.86 names on the ballot.

The secret ballots averaged a little bit less — 8.17 names per ballot. So not a huge difference in the numbers of players. But there is quite a difference in the players themselves.

Here are the percentage comparisons between public and secret for our three new Hall of Famers:

Maddux: 99.5% public, 95.9% private.
Glavine: 95.7% public, 89.8% private.
Thomas: 89.5% public, 80.4% private.

So, as you can begin to see the private voters were quite a bit stingier than the public votes when it came to the three big guys on the ballot. Fifteen of the 16 people who didn’t vote for Maddux, 37 of the 46 who didn’t vote for Glavine and 71 of the 93 who didn’t vote for Thomas kept their ballots secret.

What about the players who missed getting elected?

Craig Biggio: 79.4% public, 72.1% private.

Uh huh. He fell two votes short … and the reason was the private voters. I suspect it’s a lot easier to leave Biggio off the ballot for whatever reason without having to defend your choice.

Now: Look at these two:

Mike Piazza:: 67.9% public, 58.8% private.
Jeff Bagwell: 56.5% public, 53% private.

More people seem comfortable not voting for Bagwell in public than Piazza. I’m not sure why, exactly. That’s a big gap for Piazza.

The people who are hardest on the presumed steroid users tended to keep their votes private.

Barry Bonds: 42.6% public, 30.1% private.
Roger Clemens: 41.1% public, 32% private.

Three players who shocked me with how little support they got: Tim Raines, Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina. The first two went way down this year and Mussina did not have an auspicious debut on the ballot. Not surprisingly, the trio did much better in public votes than private votes. A theory: Maybe people who release their votes tend to be more Internet savvy, and there have obviously been pretty strong and compelling Internet campaigns for those players.

Tim Raines: 54.1% public, 41.4% private.
Curt Schilling: 36.8% public, 24.9% private
Mike Mussina: 26.3% public, 16.9% private.

Yeah, only one in six private voters picked Mussina, whose Hall of Fame case is essentially as good as Tom Glavine’s.

So, did any player do BETTER in the private votes than in the public. Down at the bottom of the ballot, Mark McGwire and Larry Walker actually did slightly better in the private sector, but neither got even 12% of the vote. The biggest differences:

Lee Smith, 23.9% public, 33.4% private.
Jack Morris, 61.2% public, 61.6% private.

Smith, in particular, seemed a vote that some BBWAA members would rather keep to themselves.

And of course only the private people voted for Moises Alou (six votes!), Hideo Nom (6), Luis Gonzalez (5), Eric Gagne (2), J.T. Snow (2!!), Jacque Jones (1) and Kenny Rogers (1).

I wouldn’t expect too many people to come forward to admit those votes.

There are so many things wrong with the Hall of Fame voting right now that it feels silly to talk about just one or two. Every time I bring up a Hall of Fame voting change to Bill James, he kind of sighs and acts like I’ve said, “Hey Bill, I’ve got a way to fix Congress.”

Still, it’s clear to me that the BBWAA should make its votes public. I know there are some negatives that go with this — including the potential that voters will feel bullied into voting in a way they would not want to vote. I understand.

But the Hall of Fame does not belong to the BBWAA. It belongs to everybody. If you’re going to vote, you should stand behind your vote. And if public pressure keeps people from throwing a gag vote to J.T. Snow or skipping over Greg Maddux for some inexplicable reason, hey, I don’t see how that’s a bad thing.

* * *

Headline: Craig Biggio falls two votes short of election.

So, let’s see here: Pie Traynor finished two votes shy of election in 1947, and was elected to the Hall of Fame the next year. Nellie Fox, meanwhile, fell two votes short of election in 1985 and had to wait a dozen years before he was finally inducted. Well, he didn’t wait I guess because Fox died 10 years before the BBWAA vote. He actually got a big boost in the Hall of Fame vote after he died, which probably describes the absurdity of this process as well as anything else.

Biggio’s percentage of 74.8% rounds up to 75%, but the Hall of Fame does not do it that way. If you have 74.99% of the vote, you’re out. I guess this makes as much sense as any other part of the process.

Obviously people can point to a few of the protest ballots — not sure how many of them there were, but with 16 no-votes for Maddux, I’m guessing a handful — and say those are the reason why Biggio isn’t going to the Hall of Fame. But, realistically, Biggio is like like the giant marlin caught in The Old Man and the Sea. As time goes on, sharks pick at the carcass bit by bit. An unfounded accusation here. A “he didn’t seem like a great player” there. And, all in all, he falls just short.

The real question is: What about next year? As you probably know, next year’s ballot is, in some ways, even more loaded than this year. Coming on the ballot: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz — you would think of those three as relative locks (Smoltz will be a topic I’m sure we’ll discuss at length).

But Gary Sheffield also comes on the ballot, and while his case will be controversial, I’m betting he takes some votes. Jeff Kent stayed on the ballot, and I expect more and more people to compare the Kent and Biggio. People might start to realize that as good a player as Biggio was, Bagwell was better. That could play role.

Point is: I THINK Biggio makes it next year. But there’s no predicting this crazy ride.

* * *

Headline: Deadspin announces the person who gave them his vote.

It’s my longtime friend, Dan Le Batard. Now, people will have all sorts of opinions about this the ethics and motivation of all this; I would ask people to read Dan’s explanation and then decide. I know a lot of people in the BBWAA are outraged. And I know a lot of people outside the BBWAA are entertained.

Let me say two things about it:

1. I think the fans should have a say in the Hall of Fame. I don’t think the fans should have the WHOLE say — like a fan vote for the Hall of Fame — but I do think there should be fan input into the thing. I also think there should be broadcaster input. I also think some of the people who have spent their lives studying and playing the game should have input. I mean, seriously, Bob Costas and Bill James and John Thorn and Tom Seaver and Brian Kenny and Tom Tango and Keith Olbermann and George Will couldn’t add to this process?

I’m not sure “The people should have a say” was really the point of the Deadspin experiment or if it was more a way to kick and mock the BBWAA while getting some attention. Either way, that point pushed through for me.

2. The Deadspin ballot is a fantastic one. They (or Dan, I guess) voted for 10 players, the full compliment, and put 10 outstanding choices that all have a self-evident explanation — Maddux, Thomas, Glavine,, Piazza, Biggio, Edgar Martinez, Jeff Bagwell, Clemens, Bonds, Schilling. People might be outraged about this whole thing, but the ballot itself is superb.

* * *

Headline: Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens lose support.

Jeff Passan makes a strong point: There are still 13 years left for these two players on the ballot. That really is a long time. As of right now it looks like those two players will never be elected by the BBWAA — in the aftermath of the vote, that was my view. But I’m not so sure.

Jim Rice’s case looked dead in the after five years. Ralph Kiner could not have looked less likely after his first three years on the ballot. Bert Blyleven rose from 14.1% in his second year all the way to the Hall. Times do change. Opinions evolve. Momentum builds.

What I am convinced of now, though, is that there won’t be any quick adjustments. There was a theory rolling about that some people would not vote for Bonds and Clemens the first year as a punishment but would vote for them subsequently. That obviously did not happen as their vote totals went down.

Opinions are hardening, and I think it might be because people are getting used to the idea of a Hall of Fame that does not have the all-time home run leader and one of its greatest pitchers. Hey, the Hall of Fame didn’t close. Hey, baseball didn’t shut down. The outrage — whatever outrage there was — settled.

So, no, I don’t expect anything surprising to happen over the next two or three or four years. Bonds and Clemens support might continue to go down. But it’s possible that at some point the tide will turn just a little, and maybe then a little more, and … we’ll see.

* * *

Headline: Rafael Palmeiro falls off the ballot.

We all kind of thought one of the players connected with steroids would fall off the ballot this year — Sosa or McGwire or Palmeiro. I’m not too surprises it was Palmeiro … and honestly, it’s for the best for him too. Palmeiro was CERTAINLY never going to be elected by the BBWAA, so for him this would have just been an annual flogging. It’s best for him (and probably for McGwire and Sosa as well) to get off the BBWAA ballot and quietly wait a decade or two for the views about the Steroid Era to soften.

I do wonder if McGwire in particular would ever do that — respectfully ask the BBWAA to remove his name from Hall of Fame consideration. It would be a smart move on numerous levels.

* * *

Headline: Tim Raines momentum stopped.

He was really making some progress but this year Raines’ support dropped — last year he was up over 50%, this year back down under.

I don’t think this had anything to do with Raines himself. It was the numbers game. There were simply too many good players on the ballot. And there will be next year. And for a couple more years.

Raines has another eight years on the ballot, and he might need all of them with the series of great players coming on the next few years. But I think they’ll cycle through. And I think, in the end, Tim Raines will get elected to the Hall.

* * *

Headline: Jack Morris loses support and ages off the Hall ballot.

I know some people like my friend Jon Heyman believe it was an aggressive anti-Morris campaign that kept Jack Morris from getting elected. I disagree, but my opinion really shouldn’t count because I wrote a lot about Morris on the Internet, maybe more than anybody.

I think in the final analysis, it’s pretty simple. Morris didn’t win 300 games. He didn’t win a Cy Young award. He didn’t strike out 3,000 batters. Every single pitcher elected by the BBWAA since 1976 did at least one of those things. The last pitcher who didn’t was Robin Roberts, and he WOULD have won the Cy Young Award in 1952 for sure, but it didn’t exist.

If Morris had won 300 games (he won 254), I think he would have been elected first or second ballot. If he had 3,000 strikeouts, I think he would have been elected before Bert Blyleven (he had 2,478 strikeouts). If he had won a Cy Young award — just my opinion — I think he gets elected too.

Those should not be Hall of Fame measures, by the way, or, anyway, I don’t think people should vote for the Hall of Fame based on them. But there is a one-sentence quality to the Hall of Fame. Tell me why this person should be in the Hall of Fame in one sentence.

Tom Seaver won 311 games, struck out 3,640 batters, threw 61 shutouts and won three Cy Young Awards

Bam. Hall of Famer.

George Brett had 3,000 hits, won three batting titles, was a league MVP, led the Royals to their only World Series victory and was one of the great postseason hitters in baseball history.

Bam. Hall of Famer.

Jack Morris … it’s just more nuanced than that. He won Game 7. He was durable. He started Opening Day a lot. There just wasn’t that hammer. This is why you heard about the aura and pitching to the score and so on. He didn’t quite do those things that get the Hall of Fame votes, no matter how much people tried to put him in that box.

He’s in the Veteran’s Committee’s care now, and I think its for the best. I believe the Veteran’s will put him in the Hall of Fame. And I promise to celebrate that day.

101 thoughts on “Hall of Fame Recap

  1. Jake Bucsko

    I was outraged at Biggio missing out until I started talking it over with a friend, and now I’m not sure he’s one of the best ten players on the ballot this year or next.

    Reply
  2. Juan Ramón Vallarino (@JRVJ71)

    Joe,

    Wonderful post. One thing I would like you to do (if the data even exists and/or is accessible), is to come up with the average age of BBWAA writers who issued public ballots and those who issued private ballots.

    I think (though I certainly don’t have the data to back this up), that there’s a big age difference between the two groups. Depending on the age difference, it is possible that a lot of distortions between these two groups will fix themselves as more younger, SABR-appreciating writers come into the BBWAA and more olders writers stop voting (for whatever reason: infirmity, death, etc).

    Reply
    1. Karyn

      Should be fairly easy to find the ages of the public voters–not so sure about the private ones. Is it public knowledge who the voters are?

      Reply
    1. Tom Wright

      It’s funny – the special significance of unanimity is a weird phenomenon in American culture, but it’s not unique to baseball. In fact, it probably dates back to the 1820 presidential election, when James Monroe received every electoral vote except one; according to legend, the rogue elector wanted to ensure that George Washington would remain the only president to win unanimously. (The legend appears to have been false, but the story caught on in popular culture.) I would guess that Mr. Monroe’s legacy has as much to do with the current predicament as anything.

      Reply
    2. John

      This year, if I’d had a ballot, I would have voted Thomas, Mussina, Schilling, Raines, Piazza, Bagwell, Edgar, Trammell, Biggio, Walker.

      I agree with Joe that the players most tied to steroid use belong in the hands of a Veteran’s Committee. But I think this year and next year, there’s a legitimate case to made for leaving the sure things off the ballot on the grounds that the sheep, ehem, “private voters” will take care of them, and instead give my vote to the more flawed candidate.

      If someone had come forward with a Maddux free ballot on these grounds, I would have gladly supported them.

      Reply
      1. Robert

        Joe did not say that the players most tied to steroid use belong in the hands of a Veteran’s Committee. He said that certain players, not Bonds or Clemens notably, are certain not to be elected by the BBWAA.

        Reply
      2. Hotwater

        Yep, me, too, except I would have probably left off Thomas for the same reason (other voters will take care of them), and Trammell wasn’t on the ballot, I think. I would have include McGwire and Palmiero instead of those two. Oh- and Bonds instead of Walker.

        Reply
  3. SNESdrunk

    My dad’s one sentence summary of Jack Morris has always been “He was the best pitcher of his era.” Take that for what it’s worth.

    Reply
    1. adam

      Except he wasn’t. There’s a post from an earlier post that debunks the notion that he was the best pitcher of the ’80s. Before that maybe? Late ’70s I give you (at minimum) Palmer, Carlton, Seaver. Slice up the ’80′s: Carlton, Seaver. mid ’80s – Doc, mid-to-late ’80s Saberhagen and Clemens. ’90 – ’91 – Clemens. ’92+ – Maddux.

      Reply
    2. Aaron

      http://benschmidt.org/mvp/
      Scroll to pitching WAR. There does not appear to be any length of time during which Jack Morris was the best pitcher of his era.

      As a side note, using WAR and measuring the area…this puts an interesting perspective on the value of Randy Johnson vs. Pedro and Maddux. Similar argument for Halladay a notch below. They just threw so many innings.

      Reply
  4. John B

    74.8% (or indeed 74.99%) should absolutely not round up to 75%! You might just as well argue that Biggio’s .281 batting average rounds up to make him a .300 hitter.

    Reply
    1. Todd A

      I don’t think rounding the batting average is equivalent, but I agree about not rounding up. If you round up, then the threshold for enshrinement is 74.5%, not 75%. I think it sucks Biggio got that close and didn’t get in (which he absolutely should), but you’ve got to cut it off somewhere. If you want to change the percentage to 74.5%, fine, but in several years when someone gets 74.3% of the vote, will you round up to the nearest half percentage?

      Reply
        1. Todd A

          Then you’re saying the threshold is 74% instead of 74.5% now. Look, I don’t really care where they set the percentage. There are good arguments that 75% is too high. Regardless, once it’s set, that’s the bar that has to be cleared. Rounding up doesn’t make sense. Rounding up actually means you’ve changed the bar.

          Anyway, I wish Craig Biggio had made the Hall if Fame, along with several others who rounding wouldn’t help.

          Reply
      1. John Gale

        That’s only because they want batting averages to be expressed in three decimals. .2999 is *not* .300. And there’s no similar need to round Hall of Fame vote percentages. 74.8 is 74.8 I feel bad for Biggio (though he’s getting in next year), but no, I don’t think we should start rounding up for him or for anyone else.

        Reply
        1. Hotwater

          Whatever. 74.5 or 75.000%, they’re both kind of arbitrary. If the HoF wanted a slightly more inclusive HoF, they could have made it 74.5% (by rounding up to the nearest integer), or 74% or 60%. I guess they wanted 75.000%, so they set it to 75 and declare there would be no rounding up.

          Reply
  5. rfaronson

    Jack Morris pitched the best game 7 ever seen in the World Series. Aside from that one game, he was a mediocre postgame pitcher, and he would be the worst starting pitcher in the Hall of Fame. He ate a lot of innings for good offensive teams that didn’t need a true ace at the top of their rotation. If he had been close to as good a pitcher as Bert Blyleven, with the teams Morris was on he would have 300 wins and a Cy Young award. But one game does not a Hall of Famer maker. Dave Stieb was a better pitcher, as was Bert Blyleven, to name two contemporaries. The problem with Morris is that his effectiveness stats say that he might follow Don Sutton (as one example) into the HOF as a great compiler, except Morris didn’t compile enough great stats, well, anywhere. Sutton, the classic compiler, had a much better ERA+ (108 to 105), much better WHIP (1.142 to 1.296) and of course did compile 300 wins and 3000 strikeouts. Morris never led his league in anything that measures effectiveness (such as ERA, ERA+, WHIP). Sutton got five of those league leads, and also threw 1400 more innings.

    I lost a lot of respect for Ken Gurnick after this HOF vote. Anybody who thinks Morris is a HOFer and Maddux isn’t really doesn’t understand what the HOF is about.

    Reply
    1. Andrew

      I’ve never been a Morris supporter, but saying he would be the worst starting pitcher in the Hall would be a stretch. There have been some true stinkers over the years (e.g. Catfish Hunter, Jesse Haines).

      Reply
    2. George Purcell

      Kevin Appier was a better pitcher than Morris as well…and Brett Saberhagen was significantly better.

      Reply
  6. Paulo Magbanua

    Would the “Greg Maddux is getting in for sure. The ballot’s pretty stuffed, so I’m giving up his slot to XXX (Raines, Morris, Mussina, Schilling etc) to show support” vote work as an excuse not to vote for Maddux? That’s the only way I’m thinking of leaving him out if I had a vote.

    Reply
    1. BobDD

      Sounds like the excuse that some would use, but it is cheating the system/breaking the rules to do so, which is one of the subthemes of this election.

      Reply
      1. Breadbaker

        If you honestly think there are more than 10 people on the ballot deserving of the Hall of Fame, it is totally legitimate not to vote for Maddux in order to keep someone else eligible for next year. This is not a weighted ballot and there is no extra points to Maddux for getting a higher vote total.

        Reply
  7. BobDD

    I’ve been coming around the last few days to thinking that it would help quite a bit to have every voter make their votes public along with corresponding comments. I sure would like to see what those who made their vote public this year say to the feedback they received.

    I love all the articles that Joe puts out on this, but I’d also love to hear from old-school writers that have Glavine number two on their list while Schilling and Mussina are 11 and 12. Because knowledgeable responders will probably be letting them know that Glavine is not quite as good, or at the very least not any better.

    This broken HoF goes a lot deeper than yes votes on Morris, Rice, and Dawson and no votes on Bagwell, Piazza, Biggio, Trammell, Raines – not even mentioning yet Bonds, Clemens and McGwire. Do those writers really understand how much in the minority they have slid in recent years?

    There might not yet be a single statistic accurate enough yet for overall value, but the stats have definitely become good enough to draw accurate comparisons in several areas. For instance it is especially easy to find out how many batters it takes for a pitcher to make three outs (WHIP), and how often a hitter makes outs (OB%). There are so many more, but the thing is that present day stats are totally simplified in some areas, and growing more simplified (better) in almost all others. To continue to ignore the advanced statistical information out there seems particularly ignorant to me.

    Reply
  8. TomC

    I’ll point out that 4 ESPN voters did not vote for Biggio, and of those 4, three of them didn’t name 10 players. So, it wasn’t all the private vote.

    Reply
    1. Spencer

      They absolutely could.

      Whatever your opinion of their personalities they’ve all forgotten more about baseball than you’ll ever know.

      Reply
      1. wjones58

        That’s the problem….they have forgotten it…..and don’t assume they know more than some of the more informed fans….listening to some of these talk/write, some aren’t what you’d call “deep thinkers”….

        Reply
  9. Berfenium

    I know of one more voter who did not vote for Maddux. (Or, for that matter, Biggio/Bagwell/Piazza) He’s made his ballot semi-public (he posted it on social media) but I have yet to hear anyone publicly mention his name in regards to his vote.

    I’m not trying to be super cryptic here, but given that he is a friend and that Gurnick has received a ton of scorn for his non-vote for Maddux, I’m not going to be the one to make his name public.

    His reasons were similar to Gurnick’s, though – no support for players from the PED era.

    Reply
      1. Berfenium

        I don’t disagree. But it’s not my vote and it’s not my place to tell a man what to do with the privilege that he earned in his career.

        If I felt like he did (and I don’t – I would vote Bonds/Clemens in if I had a vote) I would at the least refrain from voting.

        Reply
  10. George Purcell

    If you don’t want to vote a full ballot I fail to see the harm in a vote for a good but not great player like Gagne or Gonzalez a just a little bit of recognition before their one-and-done stint on the ballot is over–particularly if you’ve got a connection with them by covering them over the years.

    Reply
  11. Luke Martinez

    Is it possible that the Hall institutes a “Wild Card Era” committee, and uses that to bring some of these guys in the back door? The committee could elect people from this era with the understanding that PEDs were prevalent but without judging it, and then select who they want. Clear the logjam of good candidates, avoid the PED argument, and get the hot button guys off the ballot. The good guys get into the hall, and the sanctimonious Gurnicks of the world could put a metaphorical asterisk on those candidates and say, “I don’t agree with any Wild Card Era Committee selections.” This committee could take all the heat and we could put the whole thing behind us.

    Reply
  12. Fin Alyn

    They won’t vote for guys they think might have broken the “character” clause, but they won’t give extra consideration for guys who were great character guys, like Dale Murphy. They vote in Thomas, who while publicly complaining about steroids for years, was a classic “overly large, lots of foot injuries” player who looked like he could have been on PED’s. They keep out Bagwell because….and Piazza…… the entire process is a sham, and the Hall needs to move to a NFL like system change. Mandatory amount of people in (say 2) each year, maybe a max of 4, and have a committee of selected experts have a weekend long closed meeting on it. Or make it televised for a huge amount of fun!

    Reply
    1. Karyn

      I think the writers invoking the character clause against Bonds and Clemens are the same guys who championed Murphy. It’s the ones who look at what was done on the field who want Bonds/Clemens in, and not Murph.

      Reply
  13. wjones58

    I really don’t understand why….long ago….this wasn’t turned into a weighted ballot, like the MVP. In the MVP vote, there are points for each spot, and each writer votes and ranks 10 candidates. You never hear of anyone not using all 10 spots when they vote for MVP, and with this I would require that they vote for the 10, and to get in there would need to be a minimum point total, let’s just say that you’d have to average a 5th place vote (or 4th or even 3rd, but that would be a little too difficult, IMHO). That would really make the voting interesting, in that you could give a Luis Gonzalez or Hideo Nomo a 10th place vote if you wanted to, knowing that it would be mostly symbolic, like they do with MVP. Or in the case like Bonds, you might have several voters who would vote him first, while others might not vote for him at all, so the point total would be very interesting.

    Reply
    1. Dave

      This is problematic. In weaker years, the voting requirement would get someone elected who didn’t deserve it. In years where there are at least four good candidates, you might go multiple years where only one person gets elected. If a candidate needed to average a fourth place vote, for example, the maximum number of inductees would be four, while in all likelihood, the vote would split and there’d be far fewer.

      Reply
  14. Chris Hill

    As to whether it would be a good idea for Mark McGwire to ask to be removed from the ballot…people said “if only he would just confess to PEDs, that would really help him.” Look how that worked out. Not just a ton of forgiveness out there.

    Reply
    1. Which hunt?

      He is an MLB coach now. Its hard to picture Palmeiro, Bonds or Clemens wearing a Major League uniform right now.

      Reply
  15. Roberto

    I’m not a big fan of Deadspin, but they nailed it in their article about buying Dan Le Batard’s vote — “With an electorate comprising a subset of a subset of a subset of the baseball press and a 75 percent threshold for entry into the Hall, the process has been hijacked by cranks, attention-seeking trolls, and the merely perplexed—people who exercise power out of proportion to their numbers due to the perverse structure of the voting.”

    Reply
  16. Carl

    Hi Joe,

    I too noticed the lower vote totals than predicted by the public ballots. The reason ballots are made public is the voters are still writing, and it’s an easy topic to write about. Private ones are, on average, older and retired. They are harder against steroids, favor players in the 80s (Morris, Raines) and as they age/die the voting totals will change.

    Reply
  17. largebill

    Joe, Regarding this comment: “Opinions are hardening, and I think it might be because people are getting used to the idea of a Hall of Fame that does not have the all-time home run leader and one of its greatest pitchers.” I think we can say that Pete Rose can be partly blamed for the easy acceptance of the “all-time” this or that being excluded from Cooperstown. If Pete wasn’t a jackass who got himself permanently banned, Bonds and friends would likely be doing much better in the voting. However, with the All-time hit leader on the outside looking in it doesn’t bother people as much that Bonds is keeping him company.

    Reply
    1. John Gale

      Disagree. I think the voting would be basically the same. These voters really care about making their point on PEDs. I don’t agree with them, but it is what it is.

      Reply
  18. bellweather22

    Roberto, ironically that’s what buying LeBatard’s vote did. It gave a voice to the cranks and the uniformed, while simultaneously giving Deadspin, and that idiot LeBatard plenty of attention to satisfy their egos & their marketing departments.

    Reply
      1. John Gale

        I don’t know why Le Betard did it, but I don’t think it was because he really cares about the Hall of Fame. And good ballot or not, I have a real problem with a voter giving his vote to someone else. If a registered voter gives his or her absentee ballot to someone who is ineligible from voting (say, a 12-year-old), the vote is not valid. I think both Le Betard and Deadspin should be banned from ever voting in the Hall of Fame again. There are problems with the process, sure. But that’s not the way to address them. And for all the people celebrating them, one vote isn’t going to change anything. And Le Betard/Deadspin knows that. Which is why I think it’s fair to question their motives.

        Reply
    1. 3rdperiodpoints

      Those cranks are so spectacularly uninformed that, as Joe and many other intelligent people have pointed out, they combined to fill out an outstanding ballot. The collective wisdom of some random internet schmohawks is superior to many (most?) voting members of the BBWAA.

      Reply
    2. Berfenium

      If you read LeBatard’s explanation as to why he did what he did (and it’s clear you did not), he did not do this for his ego or for publicity.

      Deadspin? Sure. LeBatard? No way. Man sacrificed his professional standing for his conscience.

      Reply
  19. Carl

    Hi Joe,

    Jack Morris’ one sentance of quality fo rthe Hall of Fame:
    Most wins of any pitcher in the 1980s and who still has the most CGs in baseball history since the advent of the DH.

    And Dan LeBatard should have his BBWAA membership revoked ASAP.

    Reply
      1. Carl

        Beezbo,
        No I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t vote for Morris either. I was just showing Joe + other readers that Morris’ case is far more than just game 7, and can indeed summed up w/o mentioning it.

        Reply
  20. bob magee (@bobmagee15)

    One of the big issues (and not PEDs) is a failure to understand how the game has changed and how that impacts a players career stats.

    Take Mike Mussina.

    He spent his career in an era where the AL LEAGUE leader in starts NEVER exceeded 36 (Mussina one of the SEVEN seasons since 1991 and none since 2003 – Roy Halladay), so his ability to reach 300 wins was compromised by his lack of opportunity.

    That can be said because Mussina won OVER 50% of his starts.

    Here are some comparisons:

    Year W
    Blyleven 22 Yrs 287
    %w/gs 41.90%
    Morris 18 Yrs 254
    %w/gs 48.20%
    Mussina 18 Yrs 270
    %w/gs 50.37%
    G Maddux 23 Yrs 355
    %w/gs 47.97%
    Glavine 22 Yrs 305
    %w/gs 44.72%
    G Perry 22 Yrs 314
    %w/gs 45.51%
    Clemens 24 Yrs 354
    %w/gs 50.07%
    Halladay 16 Yrs 203
    %w/gs 52.05%

    Not sure what else Mussina needed to do to prove his excellence in being judged a top pitcher. Should he have hung around another 2-3 seasons just to scrape to 300 wins?

    If that is the case, then the HoF just becomes a Hall of Statistics

    Reply
    1. Jesse K.

      I’d always assumed Glavine was superior to Mussina, but was convinced otherwise after just a few minutes of looking at the statistics. Compared side-by-side with Clemens, Maddux, Schilling, and Mussina, Glavine ranks fifth (last) in ERA+, WHIP, BB/9, K/9, and WAR.

      As Joe said, at least the writers voted in three guys who deserve to be first-ballot HOFers, so maybe we shouldn’t complain. But Tom Glavine was only the fifth-best pitcher on this ballot.

      Reply
  21. Ric

    I think a really easy solution is to raise the minimum requirement to stay on the ballot. Five percent seems remarkably low, doesn’t it? That’s 28 votes based on the current membership. What if we raised the standard to a minimum of 100 votes (which would mean a total of at least 17.5% this year)? Has a player in the last… 10? 15? 20 years ever tallied less than 100 votes on their first ballot and eventually made it into the Hall of Fame? (And I ask because I know someone here will have the answer.)

    That would eliminate an additional six players from this year’s ballot: McGwire and Sosa (who’s nightmare, let’s face it, needs to end) plus Kent, McGriff, Walker and Mattingly. Altogether, that would free up 363 votes next year.

    I think Kent, McGriff and Walker (not to mention McGwire and Sosa, sans PEDs, obviously) all have strong resumes; but the voters – overwhelmingly – do not view them as Hall of Famers – so why leave them on the ballot to pilfer what are ultimately wasted votes? I’d wager Craig Biggio and his 427 votes would favor this idea. I’m not sure Piazza and Bagwell would benefit (as their egregious lack of necessary support, unfortunately, continues to be the PED shadow) but I think Raines would have seen a bump; Schilling, Mussina, maybe Martinez…

    And maybe 100 isn’t the right number; maybe we need to determine the inducted player with the lowest current first ballot total and use that as the standard. But there’s no way – none – that Jeff Kent is going to pick-up 341+ votes over the next 14 years. He’s going to languish in the 20-30% realm while we continue to have a glut of much worthier players stuck in limbo. And I love Jeff Kent. His GWHR in game 5 of the 2004 NLCS *still* gives me chills.

    It’s not perfect – and, frankly, I really think just getting Jack Morris off the ballot is going to have a tremendous impact next year – but it seems to me like raising the minimum standard is a non-invasive, easy fix that could implemented immediately.

    Reply
    1. Which hunt?

      I disagree. Blyleven received 17.5% on his first ballot. I could see something similar taking place for Kent or Walker (especially Walker) as voters get longer looks at these guys. It isn’t a stretch to think both of those guys have higher levels of support amongst the writers, but got pushed off due to there being too many qualified guys to fit on the ballot. If writers were allowed to vote for everybody deserving and were not capped at 10 the logjam would clear and the guys who don’t “feel like hall of famers” would still get their look. Plus you can’t tell me that having extra room wouldn’t have shaken out two more votes for Biggio.

      Reply
  22. Bryan Frances

    I really don’t understand Joe’s voting here. He already knows–knows for sure–that Maddux will be elected. Given what he knows about the other voters, there is no doubt about it.

    Now, Joe wants a bunch of players in the Hall that might not make it. So he should try to get them in, right? So why not vote for them instead of Maddux? Again, the salient point is that Maddux is effectively already in; why bother voting for him?

    Joe’s goal should be to get the right players in the Hall. That’s what he should use his votes for. Maddux is already in; so don’t use a vote for him.

    The rule should be ‘Vote in such a way as to get the players in the Hall that deserve to get in’. This is not the same as ‘Vote in such a way as to give votes to be most deserving players’.

    Am I just being thick here (not for the first time)?

    Reply
    1. bob magee (@bobmagee15)

      My take is that Joe feels you should vote for the 10 best players on the ballot – period.

      Once you leave off a Maddux to vote for ANYONE else you are simply promulgating a bad system.

      Better to change the system then looking for ways to get around it

      Reply
      1. bryan frances

        that’s right: if everybody did as i suggested, then it would be a disaster. but of course that’s not gonna happen.

        i still think the rule should be ‘vote in such a way as to get the right players in the hall’. in some odd cases, like this year’s maddux one, a voter will, provided he or she knows that there will be overwhelming support for one player, withhold a vote for an obviously deserving player.

        Reply
  23. Carl

    Hi Joe,

    You are an advocate of Edgar Martinez. However, Edgar is very similar to his contempoarary Moises Alou:

    .312/.418/.515 w 309 HR 1261 RBI and 1219 R vs
    .303/.369/.516 w 332 HR 1287 RBI and 1109R

    While I don’t consider either a HoFer, they seem too close to mock votes for 1 and advocate votes for the other.

    Reply
    1. Ed

      There’s almost a 60 point difference in OBP. That’s not very close… that’s not even remotely close.

      Would you still call them similar if Martinez hit .350 and Alou hit .290 (and everything else was the same)? Because it’s essentially the same thing (hits are slightly more valuable than walks, so it’s not EXACTLY the same, but still).

      Reply
    2. Jason N.

      How do you figure this to be very similar to Alou? The counting stats are only valuable when considered in context (i.e.: opportunities to drive in runs vs. the total for RBIs). Meanwhile, the OBP difference is a CHASM, not very similar. An individual with a .369 OBP any one year would have had a pretty good year. An individual with a .418 OBP any one year is pretty well guaranteed to be in the top ten of that category every year. This being one of the best predictors
      of run creation, it seems like this is a pretty good place to determine a difference in value. That, and the fact that Alou’s poor defense shaved ten or so runs off of his value every year at one of the easiest positions in left field pretty much negated any advantage he had over Martinez for playing the field. I won’t get into the difference in bWAR, which was substantial. I really like Alou as a hitter and player, but to say that he’s really similar in value would be a stretch.

      Reply
      1. Carl

        Hi Jason,

        As far as RBI’s, despite 761 more PA, Edgar had fewer of them. As far as his high OBP, given his poor running and poor SB%, Edgar did not score more runs. Normally yes, high OBP leads to more runs being scored, but not in his career. Being such a poor base runner made his high OBP more empty,

        To paraphrase Ken Williams, Don’t tell me what you walked. Tell me what you did after you walked.

        Given that BR has the two players as very similar, and their counting stats are so similar, I see them as fairly similar.

        Reply
    3. BobDD

      What a huge advantage for Edgar – How can you miss that? That’s more than a 10% offensive advantage. Are you seriously gonna try to make the argument on this blog that an additional 26 RBIs reflects superiority?

      I will take your comment seriously (wasn’t my first inclination): By those shown stats that you cannot tell a difference from, it shows that over a full season, Alou would make 40 more outs than Martinez. Over a 15 year career that would be 600 more outs. There is nothing about Alou or his backstory that can make up that amount of difference. If you’d just put up Alou’s stats and talked about how good he was, you’d have had some sympathetic readers, but to claim 2 RBIs a year makes up for 40 outs is bizarre – don’t know any kinder way to say it.

      Reply
      1. Carl

        Bob,

        Saber-minded folks MUST be open minded about stats. OBP is VERY important, but it is not the only important thing in baseball. We don’t just take the OBP leader every year and name him MVP. Power, baserunning, situational hitting, and defense all play a roll.

        Focusing only on offense, are these two players similar:
        A) 684 PA 24 HR 96 R 99 RBI 4 SB
        B) 660 PA 28 HR 93 R 107 RBI 9 SB

        I think they’re pretty close. Do you? How about a little more:

        Player A was a 7x All Star and 5 times received MVP vote, once top-3

        Player B was a 6x All Star and 7 times received MVP votes, twice top-3

        Player A is the 162 game average of Edgar Martinez. Really good stuff. Player B? Also really good stuff. Player B is the 162 game average of Moises Alou.

        Reply
        1. BobDD

          - except that OB% is the most important offensive stat by about 50% over any other, so that 49 point advantage can only be overcome, if at all, by several other team neutral offensive stats. The only advantage I see at first glance is HR, but less than a seasonal average of 2. These two players are comparable only in how much better Martinez is. I am sorry if Alou is one of your favorite players who you’ve always hoped would make the HoF, but I doubt hardly anyone here would allow your claim of comparable value to pass unchallenged if they ascribe to modern advanced stats. OR, even to just the common rate stats of .312/.418/.515 vs .303/.369/.516 because the one of those three numbers that means more than the other two combined, reflects definite superiority by one player over the other.

          Reply
  24. Carl

    Hi Ed,

    Let’s begin w that it’s a 49 point difference in OBP. Also, according to baseball reference, the 3rd most simlar player to Edgar (who Joe has called a no-doubt-about-ot HoFer) is Moises Alou.

    So Edgar walked more frequently (a lot) than Moises. So what? getting on base more, Edgar scored 110 more runs. Pretty significant difference. However, Edgar did that in 761 more PA. That is more than a season’s worth of plate appearances.

    I agree that Edgar was the better hitter, despite fewer HRs, RBI and slugging percentage. But, to me, the difference is not large enough to make one a no-doubter and to mock votes for the other. Joe (and others) may disagree, I merely wanted to highlight what I perceive as a flaw in the logic.

    Reply
  25. Michael Green

    Someone once asked Bill Klem if he would call a batter out if he hit a homer and missed a base as he circled around. Klem said if he hit the ball out of the park, as far as he was concerned, the batter had touched all the bases.

    Biggio had 3,000 hits. That should do it. Palmeiro did but used steroids, so I can see the argument, even if I think we should just admit that everybody cheated and moved on. Biggio is the subject of a whispering campaign about his alleged use. If so, prove it. And I think that’s part of his problem.

    As for Maddux not being unanimous, I wonder if some of the voters think, Maddux has it locked, I’m going to put in some names who might not have a chance otherwise.

    Reply
    1. SB M

      “As for Maddux not being unanimous, I wonder if some of the voters think, Maddux has it locked, I’m going to put in some names who might not have a chance otherwise.”

      Clearly this isn’t the case for everyone that left off Maddux, because the publicly posted ballot leaving off Maddux has few than 10 names. I doubt the other 15 had used their full 10.

      Reply
  26. Scott

    I agree that BBWAA votes should be made public. Members are not electing the next president of Iraq and there’s nothing to fear. If they hold themselves up as experts on the game and its history, they should have to publicly defend, for instance, leaving Maddux off their ballots or casting a goof vote for Jacque Jones or Eric Gagne.
    How one judges the history of the game and its players should be part of their credibility as a chronicler of baseball should be tied to their judgement of its greatest players.

    Reply
    1. Ric

      The problem with this, which speaks to a much larger problem, is that I’d guess not all of the BBWAA members still have forums in which to publish their votes. I recognize there are free outlets readily available but I doubt the members lacking a platform are 30-something habitual Twitter users, if you get my meaning…

      I don’t know what the requirements are to stay an eligible voter – but, to be perfectly blunt, we’re pushing toward age and relevance, in some calibration, being an issue. I just can’t fathom that we have a much-too large block of voters who are being intentionally obtuse when it comes to the ever-evolving methods available to us for evaluating players.

      Reply
  27. Dan

    Joe, I think you missed Deadspin’s point. This wasn’t about a fan vote. It was about demonstrating that the voter pool would be much better off if it consisted only of writers that currently cover baseball rather than some beat guys and a bunch of folks who stopped covering baseball long ago but retained their voting credentials. I’d be surprised if most full-time baseball writers don’t agree with the names submitted on leBatard’s ballot. I suspect it’s the “casual” voter that’s caught up in all the steroid sanctimony, or who refuses to vote for Greg Maddux on the first ballot (a fireable offense, in my mind). If the object of the game was to demonstrate that most Hall voters don’t know what the heck they’re doing, then mission accomplished.

    Reply
  28. Dave

    FYI that Larry Rocca put his ballot on his Facebook page. He did not vote for Maddux (or Glavine or Biggio) and explains why. He also voted for Nomo (and explains why).

    Reply
  29. Aaron

    http://benschmidt.org/mvp/
    Scroll to pitching WAR. There does not appear to be any length of time during which Jack Morris was the best pitcher of his era.

    As a side note, using WAR and measuring the area…this puts an interesting perspective on the value of Randy Johnson vs. Pedro and Maddux. Similar argument for Halladay a notch below. They just threw so many innings.

    Reply
  30. jimmyxxx

    I take offense to your mocking of the Kenny Rogers vote considering he compares very favorably to Morris, albeit with a slightly lesser postseason résumé.

    Reply
  31. Andrew W.

    Can you imagine if Biggio had gotten exactly two more votes (and no more than two)? The collective moral handwringing over Le Batard’s ballot being the deciding vote would have been epic.

    Oh well, one can dream.

    Reply
    1. Richard

      Can you imagine if no one ever released the actual voting percentages, and we simply found out who was elected, who wasn’t, and who fell off the ballot? Imagine simply being able to celebrate great players and not get stressed out over who voted or didn’t vote for our favorite players?

      Reply
      1. Dan Shea

        The cause for concern is not the identity of a voter that voted one way or another, but their ballot itself and the reasons (or lack of them) for filling it out as they did. Does anyone care whether it was Murray Chass or Ken Gurnick (or JoePos or Ken Davidoff) who did something stupid? No, they care that something stupid was done, and will be justifiably concerned about it regardless who did it.

        I don’t see how adding a further layer of secrecy (about vote totals) will do anything to help with that. I think the votes should be public. If somebody thinks their vote is important, they should cast it in a rational way and be able to defend it. If they don’t, they should give it up.

        Reply
  32. John

    I still don’t understand the hand-wringing over the BBWAA.

    There’s a lot to think about here and everyone has 15 years on the ballot for people to form a final opinion. Morris made a late run but he clearly was borderline and he is now the lead member of the Hall of the Very Good. A good result I think.

    The true PED guys aren’t getting in. Period. This is probably reflective of American societal attitudes. A strong minority don’t care that they cheated and changed the equilibrium of the game. A much larger percentage of people do — seems reasonable. Only reason that Bonds and Clemens are doing so well is that some voters have decided that they were great before they cheated.

    The, “maybe they are PED guys”, Bagwell/Piazza are on the cusp and every year people who are waiting for the evidence to come out. It either will or wont. Of if evidence comes out they disappear like Palmeiro. If not, they will go in eventually. Again sounds reasonable to me.

    Biggio seems like every other hall of famer. Close, closer, and …in.

    Raines. Raines is Morris not Blyleven. He’ll peak in the 50s and 60s –he’s not automatic and again I think there are fair arguements on both sides. I love him –he should be in, but I don’t think he’ll make it.

    Martinez — people will come around. If there hadn’t been a DH, he would have played somewhere. It will just take time.

    This nonsense about 10 names being an issue is just nonsense. No one is losing out over this issue. Biggio will be in next year and no one else was even close.

    All seems to be working well as far as I can see.

    Reply
    1. Richard

      I completely agree. I’m getting the sense that this whole discussion this year would not be happening if someone got elected last year.

      Players get up to fifteen tries to get elected. Plenty of time for a consensus to be reached. It’s not a “one chance only” deal. Even with the ballot loading up over the next few years, people like Biggio, Piazza, and Bagwell will still be around in ten years with a legitimate chance of being elected. It only takes one out of 20 votes to keep a player on the ballot for another year. Not hard to do for any legitimate candidate.

      I also note that the BBWAA is not a “secret cabal” of a handful of people. This year, over 570 members voted, with over half of them voting for the maximum of ten players. That’s a heck of a lot of votes! More than enough to cancel out the noise from poorly informed voters, token votes, or “protest” ballots. And these are people who, by virtue of their having covered baseball in a professional capacity for several years, are at least as well-informed as any of us. Individual members may have personal biases – but then, the same can be said for us.

      One should also consider what might happen to the perception of the Hall if too many players start getting inducted. Too many people getting an honor, and the honor isn’t such a big deal anymore. The current voting process seems to be designed to make sure there are always a couple of players being inducted. Give us two or three people to celebrate each year, and we are happy and the Hall isn’t cheapened. Last year was a clear aberration.

      And in any case, each one of us has our own personal Hall of Fame. We don’t need anyone else to tell us who belongs in that.

      Reply
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  34. Guy

    Mussina was better than Glavine in every way a pitcher’s career can be measured. In fact it’s not even close. That Glavine received (92% of the vote and Mussina 20% is just further evidence that most writer’s with a vote haven’t a clue about the game.

    Reply
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