By In Baseball, Hall of Fame

Ranking the Hall Ballot: Results Edition

There was a fantastic response to the “Rank the Hall of Fame Ballot” challenge that I issued yesterday. More than 3,300 people filled out a bracket — and I guess people are still doing it. I cut it off at 3,318. The results, I think, are pretty interesting.

* * *

So, here’s the idea that Tom Tango and Bill James — and, sure, many other people — have come up with for Hall of Fame voting. They think that BBWAA members should vote for the Hall of Fame the same way that we vote for MVP and Cy Young and so on. That is to say, we don’t just check off who we think should be the actual winner of the awards. Instead, we rank our choices — 1 through 10 for the MVP, 1 through 3 for Cy Young and so on.

Many people — and now I’m among them — now think this is how we should vote for the Hall of Fame too.

There’s a lot to talk about with this kind of voting system — for instance, once you’ve voted that way, how do you choose who actually goes into the Hall of Fame? Tango thinks the two highest vote getters in the balloting should be elected into the Hall of Fame every year. I will talk a bit about the idea of putting two players into the Hall of Fame every year in the next Hall of Fame post. It’s interesting and I think would be embraced by some people and utterly dismissed by others — I’m of the former — but today we’re focusing more on the idea of ranking the ballot.

Right now, BBWAA members simply check off up to 10 names on the ballot. The voters, of course, do not have to choose 10 players, that’s just the maximum. They can choose zero if they like. I think most voters in years past have not come anywhere near the 10-player quota. That might change with the crazy 2014 ballot, which is overloaded with seven players with 75-plus career wins above replacement.

But the point here is that a vote for Lee Smith is worth EXACTLY THE SAME as a vote for Greg Maddux. A vote for Fred McGriff is worth EXACTLY THE SAME as a vote for Frank Thomas.

There are at least a couple of problems with this:

Problem 1. The current voting doesn’t accurately or comprehensively reflect the voters’ intentions. We all know that one vote is NOT like another. People do not vote for Greg Maddux the same way as they vote for Lee Smith. Maddux is a slam-dunk, no-doubt, don’t-even-need-a-second-glance Hall of Famer. And Lee Smith, well, you might think he’s above your Hall of Fame line, but it’s much closer, much trickier. If voters were only allowed vote for just one or two or three players, they would not choose Lee Smith. But with 10 spots, hey, you might throw him on there.

Those are decidedly different kinds of votes. If you were starving and parched in the desert and were given 10 wishes, sure, your 10th wish might be world peace or to own the Seattle Mariners or a lifetime supply of Flex Seal in case you decide to take your screen door out on the water. But you will probably go for water and food first.

Problem 2: As Bill James points out, the way the voting goes now gives a certain veto power to a relatively small minority who might have special-interest reasons for voting the way they vote. I can’t think of any super-obvious real life examples of this going on right now in the news, but how about a baseball example.

Let’s say 27% of the voters will not vote for Mike Piazza because they believe he used steroids and they think that no player who used steroids should go into the Hall of Fame. We can argue about the logic of keeping out anyone who uses steroids and the fairness of accusing a player who has never been publicly charged with steroid use. But this is part of the point — let’s say 27% of the people don’t want to argue. They’re not voting for him.

Well, as the voting goes now, that 27% minority can prevent him from being voted into the Hall of Fame even if the other 73% feels VERY STRONGLY that Piazza should be a Hall of Famer. That doesn’t seem fair to me. The voting should be a reflection of the entire voting body’s opinions. If, say, 60% of the people think Mike Piazza is one of the three best players on the ballot, that should help counter the minority stand.

So, let’s see how it works in real life. I’m counting 3,318 ballots here.

Here are the percentage results:

  1. Greg Maddux, 98.5%
  2. Frank Thomas, 86.7%
  3. Jeff Bagwell, 79.5%
  4. Mike Piazza, 77.6%
  5. Barry Bonds, 74.6%
  6. Tim Raines, 72.6%
  7. Roger Clemens, 72.6%
  8. Tom Glavine, 72.2%
  9. Craig Biggio, 68.4%
  10. Curt Schilling, 41.1%
  1. Alan Trammell, 35.2%
  2. Edgar Martinez, 33.2%
  3. Mike Mussina, 24.9%
  4. Mark McGwire, 24.6%
  5. Larry Walker, 23.1%
  6. Sammy Sosa, 10.6%
  7. Jeff Kent, 8.5%
  8. Jack Morris, 8.1%
  9. Fred McGriff, 6.3%
  10. Rafael Palmeiro, 6.2%
  11. Lee Smith, 5.1%

OK, before we get into this, let’s once again point out the obvious: This is an obscenely loaded ballot. It’s an INSANE ballot. A 300-game winner finished eighth. A 3,000-hit guy finished ninth. A 270-game winner with the 24th highest WAR ever for pitchers finished 13th. A 600-home run man finished 16th. A 3,000-hit, 500-homer guy finished 20th. The all-time home run leader AND perhaps the greatest pitcher in baseball history did not get the 75% that would be necessary for election.

It’s a madness ballot, and I have no idea how it will shake out when the BBWAA actually votes.

Maddux obviously topped everyone with 98.5% — brilliant reader Av wrote in with a reason why someone might not vote for Maddux that actually makes some sense. He wondered if someone might not vote for Maddux because the limit is 10, and maybe the BBAWAA member has 12 or 13 or more people he believes deserves the vote. The BBWAA person might pass on Maddux knowing full well that he will get elected anyway and use that vote for Tim Raines or Edgar Martinez or someone else who might be worthy. I don’t go along with it entirely — I think it kind of cuts against the spirit of the Hall of Fame vote — but I can see the argument.

Frank Thomas was next and I have to admit that it sort of surprises me that there seems to be some doubt about Thomas getting elected first ballot. Thomas seems to me to be a clear lock, not only for his obvious Hall of Fame numbers (.301/.419/.555 with 521 homers and more than 4,000 times on base) but also because he was actually relatively outspoken about steroid use while he was playing. I mean, he wasn’t exactly Norma Rae, but he did advocate for drug testing and he did make some public statements against it at a time when few players did. I’m not entirely sure what the knock against him is. He was a poor defender, and he couldn’t run, but for a stretch of 10 or so years he hit like Jimmie Foxx. Like I say, I don’t see why he wouldn’t get the vote.

Bagwell and Piazza are the other two who cleared 75% — Bagwell was born on the same day as Thomas and was a better all-around player. Piazza is almost certainly the best hitting catcher ever.

Then, we get to the heart of out lineup. Barry Bonds at 74.6% would NOT get elected to the Hall — they do not round up at the Hall of Fame. You must hit 75% to get elected. Then, after Tim Raines, you have Roger Clemens who finished 80 votes shy of 75%. It doesn’t make much sense to me that Clemens got 68 fewer votes than Bonds, but he did; he even got one fewer vote than Raines.

After Glavine and Biggio the numbers fall off completely, I guess I’m more of a Curt Schilling advocate than most. I keep coming back to the fact that Schilling has the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in baseball history. That’s a meaningful statistic for a pitcher, I think. He has other Hall of Fame benchmarks — 3,000 strikeouts, an almost .600 winning percentage, an almost unparalleled postseason record. Anyway, people generally don’t seem too excited about his candidacy, at least not against this historic class of players.

OK, so that’s the old way of doing business: Four players in, Bonds and Clemens out, etc.

Now, let’s look at it the way Tango and James would like to see it, that is with players getting 10 points for being ranked first, nine points for being ranked second, eight points for third and so on down the line. As you will see, it’s a very different list after the top guy.

  1. Greg Maddux, 29,707
  2. Barry Bonds, 21,7783
  3. Roger Clemens, 18,381
  4. Frank Thomas, 17,503
  5. Mike Piazza, 14,137
  6. Jeff Bagwell, 13,798
  7. Tom Glavine, 11,761
  8. Tim Raines, 11,191
  9. Craig Biggio, 10,345
  10. Curt Schilling, 5,314
  1. Edgar Martinez, 3,987
  2. Alan Trammell, 3,817
  3. Mark McGwire, 3,015
  4. Mike Mussina, 2,831
  5. Larry Walker, 2,545
  6. Sammy Sosa, 1,171
  7. Jack Morris, 1,145
  8. Jeff Kent, 959
  9. Lee Smith, 815
  10. Rafael Palmeiro, 715
  11. Fred McGriff, 695

Well, suddenly things have changed. When we went by the percentages, 25.4 percent of people did not vote for Barry Bonds at all. But it turns out the 74.6% that DID vote for him voted enthusiastically. More than half of the 2,477 people who voted for Bonds (1,360 people if you are scoring at home) put him in the top slot. They think he’s the MOST DESERVING candidate on the board. Put it this way:

Most first-rank votes:

  1. Greg Maddux, 1,695
  2. Barry Bonds, 1,360
  3. Roger Clemens, 65
  4. Frank Thomas, 35
  5. Tim Raines, 26

It’s seems clear to me from this vote that the overpowering sentiment is that Barry Bonds belongs in the Hall of Fame, warts and backne and all. But it’s much cloudier in raw percentages because a touch over a quarter of the vote believe Bonds does not belong. When do we let a quarter of the population overpower the strong feelings of everyone else?*

*Rhetorical question.

When you total the votes this way, Clemens too is a slam dunk Hall of Famer. While he didn’t get many first place votes, he got more than 800 second place votes and more than 1,000 third place votes — more than three quarters of his vote total landed him in the Top 3. That was way, way more than Frank Thomas, Jeff Bagwell or Mike Piazza, all who finished ahead of him in raw percentage. In fact, Clemens got more Top 3 votes than those three players COMBINED.

So, basically, 60 percent of the people voted Clemens AHEAD of Thomas, Bagwell and Piazza.

It’s also clear from this that with so many good players on the ballot, there really isn’t much enthusiasm for almost anyone after Craig Biggio.

More to come on all this but for now, I’ll give you a few fun little stats from the poll:

— Every single player got at least one first place vote. Fred McGriff got one (followed by Edgar Martinez and Jack Morris), Rafael Palmeiro got one (followed by Curt Schilling and Mike Piazza — Maddux was ninth on the ballot) and Jack Morris got two (Maddux was third and ninth in those two).

— More than 80% of the voters ranked the full compliment of 10 players. Nine people voted for only one player. Maddux was the sole survivor on five of those ballots, Bonds got two, Raines got one and, kind of surprising, Curt Schilling got one. I wonder if Curt voted.

— The most 10th place votes, by a pretty good margin, went to Alan Trammell. This makes a lot of sense to me. Trammell is sort of viewed as the ultimate borderline candidate. Some feel strongly about his candidacy (I’m one of those) and others feel like he was not even good enough to DISCUSS for the Hall of Fame. I think a lot of people wanted to include Trammell but couldn’t, in good conscience, put him higher than 10th on this loaded ballot.

— Obviously, if people are reading this blog we are not dealing with a huge Jack Morris for the Hall crowd. Still, it’s striking how little support he received here. He got just 8% of the vote and his votes were concentrated from middle-to-bottom of the ranking. Tango’s theory about Morris is that he’s become a Hall candidate precisely BECAUSE the current system makes every vote exactly equal. It’s no big deal now to vote for Morris — heck, you have 10 slots. But if you put Morris ahead of Maddux and Clemens, Glavine and Schilling and Mussina, well, you might have some explaining to do.

Going to do some more crunching of these numbers and will get back, but for now I think this offers some fun conversation.

139 Responses to Ranking the Hall Ballot: Results Edition

  1. Loved the digs at the Tea Party.LOL.

  2. POL says:

    Why do you only consider how strongly people feel FOR a candidate? I feel super duper strongly AGAINST Bonds, Piazza, Clemens and Palmeiro…How do I let you know that? You don’t have negative ballots numbers…I can only left them out, no?

    • Brian says:

      What the heck did Piazza ever do? I don’t agree with leaving all those guys out of the HOF, but at least Bonds, Clemens, and Palmeiro were either found using steroids or admitted using steroids. But Piazza? The evidence of his steroid use is inordinately circumstantial, at best.

    • POL says:

      I suppose I forgot to also include Bagwell in that lot. Believe that the circumstantial evidence surrounding those guys (probably Biggio as well) is stronger than you give it credit too. I find it highly believable but understand if you don’t.

    • I believe the evidence against Piazza goes something like this, “I know he did it because he was a really good hitter, and he was a catcher, and everyone was doing it and I just know he did it, so there. If anyone wants me, I will be at home with my ball.”

    • POL says:

      I believe it is a little bit more defined than that:

      The portions about Piazza have received the most press leading up to the book’s release, March 24. Deadspin first published excerpts about Piazza.

      As the hundreds of major league ballplayers who turned to performance-enhancing drugs throughout the 1990s did their absolute best to keep the media at arm’s length, Piazza took the opposite approach. According to several sources, when the subject of performance enhancing was broached with reporters he especially trusted, Piazza fessed up. “Sure, I use,” he told one. “But in limited doses, and not all that often.” (Piazza has denied using performance-enhancing drugs, but there has always been speculation.) Whether or not it was Piazza’s intent, the tactic was brilliant: By letting the media know, of the record, Piazza made the information that much harder to report. Writers saw his bulging muscles, his acne-covered back. They certainly heard the under-the-breath comments from other major league players, some who considered Piazza’s success to be 100 percent chemically delivered.

      At least two former Major League players, one being Reggie Jefferson (another was not named), were quoted as saying they were sure that Piazza used steroids.

      “He’s a guy who did it, and everybody knows it,” says Reggie Jefferson, the longtime major league first baseman. “It’s amazing how all these names, like Roger Clemens, are brought up, yet Mike Piazza goes untouched.”

      “There was nothing more obvious than Mike on steroids,” says another major league veteran who played against Piazza for years. “Everyone talked about it, everyone knew it. Guys on my team, guys on the Mets. A lot of us came up playing against Mike, so we knew what he looked like back in the day. Frankly, he sucked on the field. Just sucked. After his body changed, he was entirely different. ‘Power from nowhere,’ we called it.”

      When asked, on a scale of 1 to 10, to grade the odds that Piazza had used performance enhancers, the player doesn’t pause.

      “A 12,” he says. “Maybe a 13.”

    • Brian says:

      This comment has been removed by the author.

    • POL says:

      Read what I wrote at 3:06pm above. That’s pretty much that. Joel Sherman also raised the issue. It appears it was not a secret within the game. I do give some credence to that. Enough to withhold a vote for several years, that’s for sure.

    • Brian says:

      That’s too McCarthyist for my taste, but I can certainly see how that would make you gunshy about signing off on Piazza’s character issues. Thanks.

    • Rob Smith says:

      I’m not saying Piazza didn’t use. I’m not that naive. But “we just know”, “he looks like he used” and some friend of a friend of a writer say he used and admitted it ….. is called rumor, not evidence.

    • BobDD says:

      a 2nd to Rob Smith – that is a perfect example of the word “rumor” and the last “proof” that he just wasn’t that good before (sophomore in HS?) sounds more to me a part of someone’s rationale in favor of the player’s greatness

    • BobDD says:

      Voting against some players after voting for others – isn’t that just voting twice?

    • Rob Smith says:

      BTW, the “evidence” against Bagwell is even thinner. It’s essentially his size and his being friends with Caminiti in Houston. A lot of rumors use guilt by association. Btw: Caminiti never hit more than 18 HRs as an Astro… Which shocked me…. He had his power surge and MVP year when he was with the Padres, which is supposedly where and when he was using. There were no positive tests, no Mitchell Report appearances, he wasn’t in Cansecos book, he wasn’t caught up in any scandals, or anything else. Like what I said with Piazza, I’m not naive enough to think it isn’t possible that he used. He may have. But there is nothing resembling evidence of it. Just rumor and speculation.

    • doc says:

      POL writes (quoting someone):
      “There was nothing more obvious than Mike on steroids,” says another major league veteran who played against Piazza for years. “Everyone talked about it, everyone knew it. Guys on my team, guys on the Mets. A lot of us came up playing against Mike, so we knew what he looked like back in the day. Frankly, he sucked on the field. Just sucked. After his body changed, he was entirely different. ‘Power from nowhere,’ we called it.”

      That would be the same Mike Piazza who, in his first four years (1993-1996, age 24-27) has slugging averages of .561, .541, .606. and .563 (and who slugged .540, 587, and at ages 22 and 23 & 22 ? Who hit 35, 24, 32, and 36 HRs in his first 4 full years? Power from nowhere? And the same Mike Piazza whose SA began to decline after age 29, and dropped considerably after age 33? If that’s the sort of reasoning that anyone is willing to buy, I have a bridge in New York City for sale…

    • Cliff Blau says:

      Neither Bonds nor Clemens was “found using steroids or admitted using steroids.” In fact, both were acquitted of perjury after they denied said use under oath.

    • Dinky says:

      So nameless folks who might have reason to be against Piazza accuse him. To me, not strong enough. He never failed a steroids test. Neither to my knowledge is Bagwell or Thomas, who I also put on my list. I did not include McGwire or Sosa or Palmeiro because they failed actual tests.

    • Evan says:

      There is rock solid proof that both were using steroids; they were acquitted because the prosecution couldn’t prove they had *knowingly* taken steroids. That, and really expensive legal teams. The court of law and the court of public opinion are separate entities. OJ Simpson was acquitted of murder and so was George Zimmerman. I’m certainly entitled to my opinion about those two based on my own understanding of the evidence.

    • ericanadian says:

      You can’t unvote a guy once he gets in, so I don’t see anything wrong with withholding a vote based on suspicion. Give it a few years and if there is still nothing, then you can change your vote then. If something does come out, then you can maintain your vote for great justice.

      For the record, I voted for Bonds, Bagwell & Piazza as I don’t see steroids as a major issue. It’s a part of baseball history now, like it or not.

    • invitro says:

      “A lot of us came up playing against Mike, so we knew what he looked like back in the day. Frankly, he sucked on the field. Just sucked. After his body changed, he was entirely different. ‘Power from nowhere,’ we called it.”

      In 1992 (AAA & AA): 23 HR in 525 PA.
      In 1991 (A+): 29 HR in 506 PA.
      In 1990 (A+): 6 HR in 285 PA. The 6 were #4 on his team and #20 in the league. This league was flat-out loaded with future MLB regulars and even borderline HoFers.
      In 1989 (A-): 8 HR in 214 PA. The 8 were #1 on his team and #7 in the league. This league had a few future MLB regulars.

      There is a power boost from 1990 to 1991, but I understand that is normal for players of his age.

    • To answer POL’s original question, not voting for someone is making your strong voice heard. The player gets no points from that voter. That is a pretty strong opinion after all, unless you want negative points, which gets silly.

    • Rob Smith says:

      This comment has been removed by the author.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Evan, exactly. Cliff, like a lot of superficial followers of the news, hear “Clemens & Bonds acquitted” and take that to mean they didn’t take steroids. That’s absolutely not true. In the case of Bonds, it was a given that he used steroids, but Bonds was arguing essentially that he was “dosed” by Greg Anderson…. over an extended period of time. Since Anderson refused to testify, and was willing to go to jail over his contempt of court, the case fell apart.

      With Clemens, he argued that he never used…. I’m fairly certain of that. But the people testifying against him were steroids distributors & not exactly high morals guys. They had their testimony and Clemens DNA on a syringe. Andy Pettite was the guy to corroborate everything…. and he waffled during his testimony saying something to the effect that he may have misremembered that Clemens used HGH & discussed it with him. That was an outright lie by Pettite, because why would he have ever thrown his friend under the bus if he wasn’t 100% sure of their discussion?

      So, there was lots of evidence against both & the Mitchell report also concluded that Clemens used. Bonds was nailed in the BALCO scandal, so there is no doubt that he used & although he doesn’t talk about it, he doesn’t deny it either.

    • djangoz says:

      I agree. Bonds would be dead last on any ballot I would cast. How does the system account for that?

    • Dodger300 says:

      If Reggie Jefferson said so, it must be true, right? Kind of like Jack Clark said so about Albert Pujols, so it must be true.

      After all, Reggie Jefferson was never a teammate of Mike Piazza, but he was a “LONG TIME major league first baseman.” [Emphasis added.]

      So does that “LONG TIME” some how enhance Jefferson’s credibility when he claims “everybody knows it?”

      Especially when he averaged playing only 68 games a year in his LONG TIME career which spanned all the way from 1991-1999?

      In other words, you’ve got nothing on Piazza. You’ve got nothing.

    • Ian says:

      Does anyone really think Pujols was clean? I mean, sure, maybe they can’t prove it but if you could win 1000 bucks if you were right on it, you’d guess he was roiding, right? I think some of the PED defense has amounted to ” if you don’t see a needle in his butt, he didn’t do it.”

  3. ceolaf says:

    1) I wonder how many of the ballots were just jokes. I believe you described one of them.

    2) I wonder how much influence you have had on these votes. The voters are generally your readers, and you’ve been flogging Maddux as the ultimate candidate. I wonder — and there’s no way to know — how much of a factor that has been.

    • invitro says:

      In the BRHoF polls, Rube Waddell was at 47% (of 435 votes cast) a few hours after his group’s ballot went up. Then Joe made his “Rube” post. Rube’s support went to 54% (of 1037) after a few more hours, and then 58% (of 1496) after a couple of days. Over the time span where Rube changed 11%, the next highest change was 4%.

    • BobDD says:

      I missed the Maddux floggings (sounds kinky); I saw him as predicting Maddux on top, but that he personally believes Bonds to be the top player in this group.

    • BobDD says:

      but as for your point #1, I wish there were a way to quality control for that. I get to add comments here to the greatest internet writing in sports which is just amazingly awesome, and part of the price is to put up with the conversational vandals while trying to earn the dubious soubriquet of Brilliant Reader.

    • Dodger300 says:

      So, ceolaf, I take it that with the ballots being jokes and Maddux being flogged, you don’t belief that Greg Maddux belongs in the Hall of Fame.

      Or do you?

      Can you clarify your position for us?

  4. mrein says:

    What’s interesting is how poorly some of the Steroid Superstars did. If your reader-voters are willing to consider Bonds and Clemens, why not other massive number generators like McGwire, Sammy, and Palmeiro?

    • invitro says:

      Because they had not nearly as good careers as Bonds & Clemens, probably.

    • Rob Smith says:

      There is also a line of reasoning that they were HOFers before they started using…. Probably less of a case for Clemens than Bonds. While the others are considered 100% juiced performance. I don’t subscribe to this line of reasoning, but I’ve seen a few comments to this effect.

    • John Gale says:

      The 10-player limit is an enormous problem. With it removed, I suspect their vote totals would rise quite a bit. Given the chance, I would have voted for at least 15 guys (I’m a Big Hall of Fame guy). I really hated deciding who *not* to vote for because there wasn’t enough room.

    • nscadu 9 says:

      With McGwire and Sammy I only see home run guys with little else to offer. Palmeiro seemed to stumble into his historic milestones and didn’t peak very high. I prefer high peak and greatness over very good for a prolonged time.

    • Ian R. says:

      Joe himself pointed out that even with the 600 homers, Sammy Sosa isn’t terribly qualified for the Hall. His career bWAR is a tick over 58, which is good for 193rd all-time.

      Palmeiro, even with his huge numbers, is a borderline candidate. McGwire is the best of the three, but he’s a middling Hall of Famer with PEDs. If you discount his numbers a bit, it’s easy to see why he falls below the threshold.

    • PEFACommish says:

      McGwire is the best of the 3? The man had 1626 hits. That’s about 150 less than guys like Mark Kotsay and Randy Winn. His candidacy is a joke, even ignoring the steroids.

      Meanwhile with Sammy showing so poorly, I wonder if that corked bat has affected the perception of him as much as the steroid suspicion. We KNOW he cheated then. His numbers are better than McGwire in almost every category, yet he is getting so little consideration.

    • invitro says:

      “His numbers are better than McGwire in almost every category”

      Sosa has a higher lifetime BA and more lifetime HRs and RBIs. But McGwire was a better hitter in about ten zillion ways. Sosa is still (barely) qualfied for the HoF… I think… would need to look closer. That #193 ranking (above) doesn’t look great, but there are 208 players. His postseason stats are good.

      Do you remember that Bill James ranked McGwire #31 all-time in the Historical BA?

    • Sosa: .273/.344/.534
      McGwire: .263/.394/.588

      Sosa Career OPS+: 128
      McGwire Career OPS+: 163

      Mark McGwire was a significantly better player than Sammy Sosa.

  5. Joe: This post took some work, crunching the numbers, and is very interesting. Thank you for it.

    We all know the BBWAA will never change, though. The problem is the BBWAA makeup, which encourages a huge proportion of members who abhor change.

  6. Schlom says:

    I’m shocked at the low level of support for Mike Mussina. He’s way below Glavine in both % and points yet Mussina was a lot better if you believe the WAR stats – 82.7 to 74.0 on rWAR, 82.3 to 63.9 on fWAR, 56.3 to 37.4 on BP’s pWARP.

    • FranT says:

      Agreed. I had Moose one spot ahead of Glavine on my ballot. But 300 wins, right?

    • BobDD says:

      Yeah, too many voters cannot keep from staring at the shiny objects of more wins on more playoff teams.

      Maddux, Clemens, and Schilling are the ones with a peak well over the halfway mark for already enshrined HoF pitchers; the others need career arguments to get in. Moose and Glavine cases are easy enough to make, but Morris has that ERA+ of only 105 and I cannot see how to argue that away. Morris was definitely a pitcher I would have wanted on my team, but only 5% better than average is just not enough for the HoF.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Glavine also had two CY Youngs, two seconds and two thirds. Messina was as high as fourth. I think those are the shiny objects voters are looking at. Glavine had several elite seasons while Mussina had one. So, in addition to career numbers, Glavine had a better peak and was considered Top 3 in the league during six seasons.

    • Schlom says:

      He certainly deserved the 1991 CYA but the 1998 one was kind of joke – he wasn’t even remotely as good as Kevin Brown that year and worse than his teammate Greg Maddux (but hey, two more wins!). Put Mussina on those awesome Brave teams and maybe he wins an undeserved CY too.

      Plus I thought that Pos readers would look beyond the Awards as we know they are seriously flawed.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Mussina had it tough in those 8 years with the Yankees. And only about 4 of his season with the Orioles were the Orioles horrible. He didn’t come close to being a Bert Blyleven like pity case. He was good, maybe HOF good some day…. But his win total absolutely enhanced by the teams he was on…. Not the other way around.

    • gc says:

      Considering the division he played in his entire career, I’d say Mussina DID have it tougher than Glavine, and yet he still put up some pretty damn good numbers. I can’t say for sure what kind of career numbers he would have put up pitching exclusively in the NL, but I would wager they’d be better and he would have a lot more shiny objects for the voters to admire. Pure speculation on my part, as I’m typically NOT a fan of evaluating a player on a career he never had.

  7. MtheL says:

    As a person who favors a “Big Hall”, I don’t think I could support a limit of just two per year (although I certainly like the concept as a means of ensuring a small, but vocal minority doesn’t keep someone out). I’m curious, though, what would happen if we simply removed the 10 player limit? I excluded both Bonds and Clemens. I feel both are probably HOFers, but with such a stacked ballot, I didn’t feel comfortable voting for them over guys who have not been implicated in the PEDs scandal. I suspect Bonds and Clemens percentages would go up if the 10 player limit was removed – I certainly would have included them. Question – if we assign points based on position on the ballot, why limit the number of players at all? If there are 25 guys on the ballot, give guy #1 25 points, and guy #25 on the ballot 1 point. Either way, great concept.

    • invitro says:

      Because the goal of this system is to reward strong positive support, and attempt to ignore strong negative support. In your system, lots of people could and would rank Bonds #24 or #25, which would hurt him as much as #1 or #2 votes would help him. In Joe’s system, a #11 vote is worth the same as a #25 vote.

      I strongly favor the existing system. This part of the HoF is not broken and doesn’t need fixing… we should just leave it alone like Jimmy Dugan would. (But continue to police the VC, which has run off the rails many times, and is historically a much, much bigger problem than the BBWAA.)

  8. Isn’t one problem with this type of model that it can overcount positive sentiment rather than negative sentiment? And that people might assign their preferences for reasons other than absolute merit?

    We know there have been Team Blyleven and Team Morris over the years. Let’s assume Blyleven hadn’t made the Hall yet, and was still on this ballot. Now, I think even the most ardent Blyleven and Morris advocates would concede that Greg Maddux has a superior HOF resume to their champion. But wouldn’t it be more strategic to use one’s 10-point votes on their side (especially if they would see the election as validating their POV) instead of on Maddux?

    The likely result is both Blyleven and Morris would make it, which may not be an altogether bad thing. It just seems we have a converse of the existing problem — we now empower a cult following of particular players to get them into the Hall. Whether this is better or worse than the existing problem depends on how big you want the Hall to be.

    In this current case, I can see those with a lasseiz-faire attitude toward PED using their votes to favor players whose vote totals they believe are unfairly depressed by PED suspicions. It seems this would result in a Hall that doesn’t truly reflect the psyche of the public.

    Maybe these are fixable problems, but I think they’re there.

    • invitro says:

      Agreed. The first problem with this system, and it’s a death knell, is that it encourages dishonest voting. The second problem is that it believes strong positive support should be recognized, while strong negative support should be ignored.

    • schuyler101 says:

      John is right. The system Joe proposes (Borda Count) strongly encourages this sort of voting,

      If I’m a big time Tim Raines Hall of Fame kind of guy I’m putting him 1st on my ballot ahead of Maddux, even if I think Maddux is more deserving, because I know Raines will have a harder time getting in.

    • BobDD says:

      Would open voting take care of this? Then anyone (everyone) would have to defend their votes. I’d like that; keeps the conversation going.

    • Theo says:

      I’m not sure that’s worse than the 10-player limit today. For example, if I were a voter today, I would definitely considered the strategy Av mentioned to prevent guys like Schilling, Mussina, Edgar, etc. from falling off the ballot. I mean, we know the voters are too stubborn to give a unanimous approval, so what difference does it make if Maddux goes in with 94% or 95%? Everything over 75% is just icing on the cake, while that extra 1% could be the difference between keeping another player’s hopes alive or leaving them to the Veterans Committee in 15 years.

  9. The HOF voting only needs one fix: to vote someone in, you must also vote someone out.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Are you a member of the House of Representatives?

    • Josh says:

      It’s not a terrible idea, but it seems like an unnecessary insult to the human beings (and their families). The only person who deserves to be kicked out of the Hall — humiliated in this fashion — is Tom Yawkey.

    • invitro says:

      I wondered who I would kick out first, and thought hmm, maybe Bowie Kuhn. But I’m not sure if he was all that bad, so I read some of his wikipedia page… well it’s not clear to me, but I found one of the most bizarre sentences I’ve read on a baseball person’s page, which I’ll present here, delightfully out of context, in hope that someone else will find it amusing:

      “[Darrell] Porter found himself sitting up at night in the dark watching out the front window, waiting for Kuhn to approach, clutching billiard balls and a shotgun.”

  10. Like John McGuinness above, I’m not too enthused about introducing “tactical” voting to the process. In this system, there’s a clear incentive to withhold votes from frontrunners provided that you see the ballot as backlogged. You want to make your votes count, after all.

    The older I get the more I become a “big hall” guy. No offense, but the voters and veterans committees have been—and still are—inconsistent, idiotic, and worthy of some derision. Since the bar for voters is so low, why not lower the bar for induction, as well? How low? 65%? 60%? Would you let in players retroactively, and if so, starting from which ballot? I don’t know; it’s all up for discussion. I’d be willing to stomach Jack Morris—and I would never actually vote for him—if it would boost the chances of Raines, Trammell, Bagwell, Edgar, and others. It would also decrease the odds of a Hall of Fame without Bonds & Clemens (which might actually happen, at least for a while) which I view as a positive, as well.

  11. MrJMR1970 says:

    Curt Schilling always seem to get no respect with regards to his resume. Just a few points to consider:

    1 of 16 to strike out 3,000 batters. (By comparison, there are 28 members of the 3000 hit club
    1 of 4 to strike out 3,000 and walk less than 1,000 batters (I believe he has the lowest total at just over 700)
    1 of 2 pitchers in history to strike out 3,000 batters and give up LESS than 3,000 hits (Pedro is the other to do this). Last time I checked, there were 124 pitchers who gave up 3,000 hits.
    1 of 4 pitchers to strike out 300 batters more than twice in a career (Koufax, Ryan and Johnson) are the others.

    Then throw in the post season numbers and you have a damn good pitcher. The problem is he was never considered the best pitcher in his league (2 times he finished 2nd to pitchers who won the Triple Crown- Johnson and Santana.)

    • Rob Smith says:

      I agree. He was 6th on my list. I don’t know why he’s being dismissed. Maybe a few people need to locate on their browsers and take a closer look between bong hits.

    • nscadu 9 says:

      Agreed, I think I had Schilling 4th or 5th on my list. Maybe overshadowed by Johnson while on the Dbacks? Can anyone explain the knock on Schilling besides ugh… wins. And please justify his position behind Glavine. Better WHIP, all K categories, higher peak and as already mentioned post season performance.

    • nscadu 9, I think you hit the nail on the head. It’s wins. Easiest stat to look at, and everyone knows the 300-win benchmark. How do you compare just looking at raw numbers, how do you know where to look?

    • invitro says:

      I am curious how many readers considered postseason performance -at all-.

      He was/is kind of a loudmouth. See his wikipedia article if you’ve forgotten or don’t know some of the long list of incidents.

      But those are small things (I hope that only a small %age ignored postseason play) and I don’t understand his lack of support. Maybe playing for lots of teams instead of being a one-team player… but that sure didn’t hurt Winfield.

    • Rob Smith says:

      I voted for him. His career numbers are great. I do recall, and the numbers bare this out, that he had some pretty uneven seasons, especially when he was young. His reputation was, for a long while, that he was a power pitcher who was inconsistent. The view of him started to change late in his career with some huge seasons and championships with Boston and Arizona. But I don’t think he entirely shook the early perception of him. From age 34-37, he was as good as anyone. The three years prior, not so good, and up and down prior to that. He never really had a consistent 6-8 year period where he was one of the best in the league. His peak is a year here, a year there and then 2001-2004. Odd career, really. But taken as a whole, a HOF career in my mind.

    • invitro says:

      “His peak is a year here, a year there and then 2001-2004.”

      Tom Glavine’s best run by WAR looks to be 1995-1998, where he had 4.8, 5.8, 5.5, and 6.1. Schilling’s 1996-2000 WARs: 4.9, 6.3, 6.2, 4.8, and 5.1. Looks pretty much the same as Glavine’s peak to me. So his 1996-2004 looks both consistent and one of the best in the league.

      (Picking on Glavine only because he’s seen as a slam-dunk HoFer.)

    • Who wants to listen to Curt Schilling’s speech in Cooperstown?

    • invitro says:

      I most definitely do.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Invitro, I don’t disagree and have no problem with the Glavine comparison. I voted for both. I was just looking for reasons in his record for people not selecting Schilling. I’m not saying I agree with the reasoning, because I don’t.

    • Dodger300 says:

      Schilling only had one good season before he was 28, so he had earned himself a reputation as a mediocre pitcher.

      He became much better in his 30’s than in his 20’s but most people had already formed their opinion about him.

      And even if it doesn’t seem fair, his prickly personality and controversial political views don’t exactly help him to win friends or influence people, either.

    • Phil says:

      Doesn’t it strike anyone as curious that Schilling was a such a “late bloomer” in the heart of the steroid era? Randy Johnson was as well, but he seems more like Koufax to me — it took a while to harness that raw power. And as a Red Sox member, there was no way he’d show up on George Mitchell’s special list in any event. Schilling didn’t hit 50% of his career bWAR until his age-34 season, and his top three seasons are ages 34, 35, and 37. Why no Jeff Bagwell-style hesitation here?

    • invitro says:

      Because there is no reason for it? (I know there is no reason for Bagwell, either.)

    • Phil says:

      I agree about no smoke nor fire, but I wonder why he gets a pass while Bagwell doesn’t. Schilling’s testimony before Congress in 2005 looks like a polly-anna, nothing-to-see-here-folks cover-up in hindsight: it now appears Canseco was much more accurate that most would have liked to believe. The fact that (by bWAR) Schilling was the sixth-best 34-year-old pitcher, the sixth-best 35-year-old, and the fifth-best 37-year-old in baseball history (with only Cy Young ahead of him on those lists) just jumped out at me, I guess.

    • invitro says:

      I guess I’m not convinced that the reasons Schilling is getting punished in the voting do not include PED suspicion. Schilling got 38%, Bagwell 59% this year. Schilling is more HoF-qualified by a little bit (both are obscenely qualified). I am not knowledgeable on if Schilling has had PED rumors attached. But the numbers do not indicate he is getting a pass.

      And I don’t think it’s all that rare for a pitcher to have his best seasons at ages 34-37. Sixth-best doesn’t seem all that out of line for a pitcher of his caliber.

    • Phil says:

      Fair enough: though I think Schilling will see a bump this time around, now that the “not a first-balloter!11!1” crowd has had its say. So maybe he isn’t being viewed as favorably as Bagwell, after all. I just haven’t heard even the whiff of steroids around him, and there are plenty of circumstantial indicators. Here are the all-time top bWAR pitchers for ages 34-37 (Shilling was injured for much of his age-36 year):
      1. Cy Young 39.2 WAR
      2. Randy Johnson 33.1
      3. Curt Schilling 31.4
      4. Lefty Grove 29.9
      5. Gaylord Perry 28.1
      6. Roger Clemens 27.5
      So he’s either an all-time great “old” pitcher, or a cynic would say there was something in the water in Arizona. I still see Schilling as Drysdale+Koufax — marry him to Unit, and as a pair they’re unbeatable. Similar short career, good peak, but still behind contemporaries such as Johnson, Santana, Clemens, and Maddux. Time will tell!

  12. David Barry says:

    I am trying to come up with a formula to use (instead of just top 2). It leads to weird results if we use the old system with 75% threshold. We would just take the number of voters and multiple by 10 and then multiply by .75. Anyone over that number would be in the Hall. In the BR version, it would be 24,885 points which would exclude everyone other Maddux. Even moving it down to 60%, only adds in Bonds. 50% adds in Clemens and Thomas. Seems like close to what Joe intended. Gets the two that most people would slide in easy (Thomas and Maddux) and gets in the 2 players with the warts but that people feel passionate about (Bonds and Clemens). Not sure how that would play out on less stacked ballots or in general. As a big hall guy, I think we need to change how it is done and would rather modify than get the silly Football Hall of Fame which just seems like the old VC to me.

  13. Will H. says:

    Maybe Edgar should have been a terrible 1B for a few more years; it seems that despite the fact that the DH has been a position – and one that is far, far from easy to do, as shown by how many can’t hit once they are always coming in cold – and that Martinez has easily been one of the very best, he can’t get any traction due to “only playing half the game.”

    • Rob Smith says:

      DHs aren’t cold. They hit in the cages and stretch in the clubhouse to stay warm. So stop repeating this old wives tale. They get the same amount of at bats as any other player. Outfielders often get 1-2 fielding chances per game. So, unless you think lightly jogging to their position between innings makes them more likely to hit, this argument doesn’t wash. Now some guys don’t like to DH and have to get used to a different routine than when they play in the field. But, suffice to say, guys like Martinez that DH for years adjusted to the DH routine long ago. Plus, the position adds a few years to many a career. It’s much easier on the body than playing in the field. Much less potential for injury, especially for older players.

    • Will H. says:

      Fair points. I don’t know that it’s as ass-backwards as an old-wives tale, but I hear you. I just know how poorly most AL teams do with DH production, and that the few standouts really make a difference, but my comment was truly just an off-the-cuff surprise at how low E. Martinez is ranked and so admittedly might not consider all the angles.

    • macomeau says:

      I imagine part of the DH production problem is that players essentially ‘fail’ down the defensive spectrum into being a DH (either through talent or injury). If you stop failing before you get to DH, you stick at that position, and you team fills the DH with a fourth or fifth outfielder who actually can’t quite hit enough to get the starting job.

      It relates to part of the argument against Edgar. He put up great numbers when he played, but he could only play that much as a DH. He couldn’t play that much as a corner IF (through injuries, not quality), so people want to discount the hitting.

      I think it’s silly, but I understand the reasoning.

    • Hitters generally hit worse when they DH than when they play the field. That is, the same guy plays 1B one day and DH the next – compare the stats overall and they’re not as good as a DH.

      The difficulty with that stat is that hitters who play the field some days and DH others tend to DH when they have a minor injury, and that might be affecting their performance.

      I’ve seen work done to compensate (the usual one is “take teams with a regular DH; look at the games he misses; compare the people who fill in at DH against that same player’s performance in the field”) and the effect still seems to be there.

      I know that they mention it in The Book – they reckon it’s about half the effect of pinch-hitting.

    • Do you think that Edgar has the best chance of any DH to get into the HoF? I think that the litmus test for this will be David Ortiz; by almost every statistical measure, Edgar is a much better hitter and player than Ortiz, but Ortiz was a big part of the Red Sox championships and has the “clutch” postseason record. I think that if Ortiz gets a lot of HoF momentum, it might indicate that the bias is not against the DH per se, but more that Edgar is just underrated for a variety of other reasons (playing in Seattle, not being on a championship team, etc.)

    • Rob Smith says:

      John/Kristina: you could be right. If Martinez is still on the ballot when Ortiz hits the voting, and Ortiz gets support, it might help drive Martinez’ case.

      But, two things are in the way of that. One, Ortiz has a shot at 500 HRs. 500 HRs is generally an automatic qualifier…. except for…. Two, Ortiz is caught up in the PED issue. Remember, he had a positive test in 2003. With PEDs, I honestly don’t think Ortiz will have much of a shot based on how things are going. But who knows. Unlike a lot of other users, Ortiz is generally popular. That shouldn’t matter, but it could. Ortiz probably has 2-3 more years left. Add 5 before he’s on the ballot and we’re 7-8 years out. Who knows how the writers will be voting then.

  14. Mike says:

    I think that how players are *dropped* from this type ballot may be an even more critical question than how players are selected from this type of ballot. One of the things I don’t like about the current system is that players can disappear from the ballot before their case is really considered. This is an even greater danger when the ballot is loaded like this.

    While I love the idea, I don’t see it being implemented. Many of the BBWAA don’t see last year’s ballot as a problem; they see it as a success. Because it made *them* the story.

  15. Dinky says:

    If you asked me to vote and ignore any prejudices I had about steroids, Bonds would have been #1, and Sosa and Clemens would have been in my ten. As is, I still voted for Bonds for the 3 MVPs before he bulked up.

  16. The clear loser in the steroid sweepstakes is Rafael Palmiero—500 homers and 3000 hits would normally be a mortal lock for the Hall. But in addition to his power numbers being steroid related (Jose Canseco joined Texas in the middle of 1992, Palmiero saw his homers leap in 1993), Palmiero famously lied to Congress about using performance enhancing drugs when his co-panelists at least had sense enough to keep their mouths shut. Then the fact that he was busted for using them a short-time later—actually failing a drug test—has made him persona non grata among the Hall Voters. It’s the finger wag to Congress that people remember about Palmiero, not just the steroids.

    • Rob Smith says:

      If you think about it, virtually every PED user lied about it for as long as they could. Most never admitted it. The best we got from the few who actually acknowleged at least some wrong doing was a vague weak apology for disappointing the fans. What does that say about their integrity? I don’t understand any level of support that these guys are getting.

    • Yeah, but they didn’t lie about it under oath to Congress with a holier-than-thou finger wag for effect. The nearest comparison would be Clemens, who also (allegedly) lied to Congress but the Feds were never able to prove conclusively that he used the stuff, despite testimony from others (including Andy Pettitte). Palmeiro actually flunked a drug test. It’s interesting that Feds never went after Palmeiro for perjury, but perhaps figured they’d already wasted enough time and money going after Clemens.

    • gc says:

      Not necessarily support but acknowledging the reality that cheaters who played against cheaters in an era of widespread cheating in a game with a long history of cheating probably won’t get into a hall of fame where there are already other cheaters enshrined. What’s not to get? Cheating happens in every sport. Baseball players were cheating long before football and basketball were even fully formed as sports. But somehow baseball is held to some ridiculously pious and hypocritical standard on this one issue. You can’t dismiss an entire era of history and pretend it never happened. And then cry out that THIS kind of cheating is somehow worse than other kinds of cheating which were overlooked in the past (and still are in the present), often with a wink and a laugh.

      If the very game of baseball itself is perfectly fine with letting a known PED user back into the game (TWICE!) before banning them permanently, then I have no problems “supporting” Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens or Alex Rodriguez or any of the known or suspected users in their candidacy for the hall of fame. It’s a museum, not a church. Even cautionary tales should be welcome. (Come to think of it, maybe it IS like a church when you consider the deeds of some who have been canonized as “saints.”)

    • invitro says:

      I suppose if you believe using PEDs is the same level of cheating as running outside the base paths, you’re fine with anyone being in the HoF.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Invitro, exactly. Just like with anything, there are degrees of cheating. Selling a call to the umpire, nobody cares about. Stealing signs is done in Little League (except electronic efforts as Toronto was accused of, which is a different thing altogether). The Gaylord Perry doctoring the ball (which several in the Hall were known for) was considered part of the game a while back. But it’s pretty much out of the game now since balls are not allowed to stay in play if they get a speck of dust on them. Then there’s PEDs. I’m sure the anti greenie crowd is happy to know that amphetamines are considered PEDs now. You get a 50 game suspension for PEDs, which many think is really light, especially in light of the current scandal with ARod. But you don’t get 50 games for stealing signs or pretending to catch a ball. You wouldn’t even get 50 games if you were caught greasing up a baseball with 30 weight. So to equate all of the different levels of cheating that might occur in a game, is just silly. Nobody really thinks that, it’s just a broad brush argument made by people that don’t want to think too hard while they surf the web for video game hacks and free porn.

    • Phil says:

      My issue with this line of reasoning is that the “bright line” is too indistinct. Are PEDs the death knell because they’re so effective? Or is it because (like gambling) they are now expressly forbidden with significant punishments? Which kinds of cheating are “gamesmanship” and which are “fundamental offenses” that disrupt integrity? I don’t know the answers, and I have yet to find someone who does. Of course there are degrees, but where is the over/under?

    • In assume part of the reason the Feds never went after Palmeiro is that his failed drug test would not have been evidence of perjury. The failed drug test came later, so it was evidence that he used after, but not evidence that he was lying before Congress (even though as a practical matter it’s inconceivable that Palmeiro first STARTER using after the Congressional hearings). So the Feds would have had to investigate from scratch, essentially.

      In the case of Bonds, the reporters did most of the investigating, and in the case of Clemens, the Feds had Brian McNamee. In a sense, Bonds and Clemens sort of fell into their lap.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Phil, I don’t know how you qualify the different levels of cheating, but baseball does it by imposing suspensions. So gambling on baseball is #1, PEDs are #2 and its a long way down to the next one. So, it’s pretty clear on the pecking order. With PEDs baseball ignored it for years for various reasons. It was bringing in revenue, the union wasn’t going to roll over on punishments, and possibly they didn’t want to know. Fans started to push for it and then Congress got involved and shoved a bat up Selig and the unions butts. But it is far from unknown how baseball views various transgressions.

  17. Ben Wildner says:

    So in my personal hall of fame (Defined by could you tell the story of baseball in their time without them) 15 of these guys would get in. Limited to only ten I decided not to vote for any of the 6 guys I perceive as steroid users with varying degrees of evidence. Didn’t seem right to pick among them. Am I crazy?

    • Richie says:

      “(Defined by could you tell the story of baseball in their time without them)”

      What does that mean? Wouldn’t it be hard to tell the story of baseball without talking about Kirk Gibson’s HR or Joe Carter’s HR? What about Orel Hershiser’s shutout streak? Sid Bream rounding third? Giambi not sliding? I think there is much more to the story of baseball than just the guys who had careers of sustained excellence.

    • Richie says:

      For that matter – how in the world could you tell the story of baseball from 1995-2005 without talking about all the steroid use at that time?

    • Rob Smith says:

      1995? Canseco was a rookie in 1985 and was blatant. I recall in 1987 heckling Canseco about his blatant steroid use with a large group of fans. Canseco proved overtly that steroids worked and players started to jump on board pretty quickly. He wasn’t the first, but he was the most obvious and became sort of a “role model” and even a mentor for new users. Sure, it was the wild, Wild West by 1995, but the steroids era started way before then.

  18. > Many people — and now I’m among them — now think this is how we should vote for the Hall of Fame too.

    Most people – and I’m among them – think the HoF should continue to announce the deadline in advance. Maybe your next vote can do that, Joe? It surprised me how many people felt comfortable ranking players 1-10 in only a day’s time, but I couldn’t. I might have tried harder if I’d known the deadline, though.

    POL’s question “Why do you only consider how strongly people feel FOR a candidate?” seems an excellent one to me.

  19. invitro says:

    I want to throw in a quick word for Kenny Lofton, who is #9 in JAWS for CF, and would be part of this discussion except that he got only 3% on last year’s ballot. His postseasons are lacking, though.

  20. rcharbon says:

    How would you add in negative feelings in the real world? In a real ballot, in addition to all the stars Joe listed, there are a host of nobodies who merit no consideration at all. So instead of rating players 1-25 and rating Barry Bonds last, you have a list of maybe (wild guess) 75-100 players, most of whom are equally unqualified for the hall, though for different reasons.

    In other words, what people are essentially saying is that their distaste for players who used steroids (or who they believe used steroids) should give them veto power, whether or not others agree. Joe makes some good analogies along the way in his article, methinks.

    • This comment has been removed by the author.

    • >How would you add in negative feelings in the real world?
      If there’s no good way to do it, then it doesn’t seem even-handed to weigh the degree of positive feelings, either. That’s a problem with the fairness of this system, with or without steroids.

      But since steroids came up…can a vast majority of people agree that a plaque honoring “the Unknown Clean Players” (i.e., players unknown to us who’d be qualified HoFers if they, too, broke various rules or laws, including but not limited to steroids, spitballs…) would be a good idea? That might help break the steroids logjam in the real HoF voting. I can’t see the 10-1 system ever being adopted in the real world, as long as it seems to have the chance of inducting steroids users without a broad consensus of voters thinking they should be inducted.

  21. LargeBill says:


    I doubt it, but it seems you were being intentionally humorous with this bit near the end: “– Obviously, if people are reading this blog we are not dealing with a huge Jack Morris for the Hall crowd. Still, it’s striking how little support he received here.”

    Really? With the overwhelming number of far better qualified candidates you’re surprised Morris didn’t do better? I saw he got 8% and was completely shocked he got so much support. He clearly without any discussion isn’t in the top 15 and I could understand an argument being made that he isn’t in top 20 of that list.

    • Mark Daniel says:

      Morris got 67.7% of the BBWAA vote last election. In this vote, he got 8%. That difference is huge, and speaks to sampling error in this particular voting group (ie BBWAA voters and those who think like them are underrepresented).

    • LargeBill says:

      I understand the silly voting by BBWAA, however I expect more from random idiots on the internet. There is no possible way for people to review the careers of the 21 players Joe included in this poll and conclude Morris is one of the 10 best.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Not to mention that Joe has written often that Morris isn’t deserving. This sample has been therefore “tainted” regarding Morris and doesn’t represent the common perceptions.

    • Grulg says:

      Does Morris, in fact, belong in the Hall of Fame? No, he doesn’t, according to, which gives him a WAR score of 39.3, tied for 145th all time among pitchers. Maybe he does, according to FanGraphs, which gives him a 56.9 WAR, 75th all time.

  22. ericanadian says:

    As one of the people that voted for Bonds & not Clemens, my reasoning is pretty simple. Clemens’ attack of his accuser (McNamee) was too much for me, while Bonds did nothing even remotely close to my knowledge. When I have more than 10 candidates that I consider Hall-Worthy, (and I do consider Clemens as such) I know the first guy I’m leaving off is going to be the guy I have no respect for.
    I’m pretty sure I’ll feel the same about Braun if he puts up Hall level numbers.

    • Andrew says:

      Bonds did kind of throw Greg Anderson under the bus. I voted for both Bonds and Clemens, but I wouldn’t exactly call Bonds an angel in all of this.

    • Rob Smith says:

      If by Bonds kind of throwing Anderson under the bus, you mean based his entire defense on implying that Anderson dosed him, without his knowledge, and allowing Anderson to rot in jail for a year for contempt, for not testifying…. then yes, he did “kind of” throw Anderson under the bus.

    • ericanadian says:

      Personally, I’ll leave it to Anderson to determine whether or not he feels he’s been thrown under the bus. At this point, he’s made no suggestion that he feels that is the case.

      I’m also not looking for angels, but to me there is a line here that Clemens crossed and Bonds did not.

    • djangoz says:

      Bonds is probably one of the worst human beings to ever play baseball in the modern era. Yeah, he was a great hitter (how much of that was PED assisted we can’t exactly know), but man was he a horrible person. Clemens is pretty awful too, but he doesn’t hold a candle to Bonds.

    • Herb Smith says:

      …and what does that have to do with the Hall? Ty Cobb, Cap Anson, even Babe Ruth…hardly choirboys.

      Also, your line of “how much of Bonds’s prowess was PED assisted we can’t exactly say how?” Uh, yes we can. It’s been documented in a number of publication, by a number of sources, that Bonds started PED use in 1999. Bonds had played 13 full season by then, the same amount as Joe DiMaggio. He had won 3 MVP awards, and according to WAR, he had been the best player in the NL SEVEN times before 1999 (position players). He’d won 8 Gold Gloves, and was a 8-time All-Star (7 as a starter). After 13 years, he had basically had a career similar to Mickey Mantle’s.

      Is Mantle a HOFer?

    • invitro says:

      I know why Cobb and Anson are considered bad people. But why is Ruth in your list? I have read a little bit about his life, not a lot, and I don’t see what harm he caused other people, other than cheating on his wife.

  23. I love this way of voting. But it is too smart for the writers to adopt and will never happen.

  24. Richie says:

    It’s just too bad that there are always people with some sort of agenda and/or gamesmanship. Fred McGriff doesn’t get a #1 vote (or probably even a top-10 vote) unless one of his fans is trying to get him in. Unfortunately the same things happen with the current HOF vote. There’s always some voter who has a grudge against a player. Or they want to make sure nobody gets elected with 100% of the vote, etc.

    I wish the HOF voters were required to defend their ballots (no matter what the procedure is). And THEN the fans get to vote whether each voters get to have a HOF ballot the following year. Would 28 people NOT vote for Rickey Henderson (really?) if they knew their ballot the next year was hinging on their ability to convince fans that leaving Henderson off the ballot was justified?

    • daveyhead says:

      I think your second paragraph is one of the best ways to bring sanity back to the vote. If you want to leave Maddox off your ballot, fine; explain why. If you can t make a compelling case for your vote, you lose it the next year.

      Many misguided people compare this to our right as a citizen to vote. THAT is a constitutional right; a Hall of Fame vote is a privilege accorded the very few and those who don’t take it seriously or use it to settle scores, etc. ought to have to explain why.

  25. Schmutt says:

    On the original post, Joe, you did not make it clear that we could ONLY vote for 10 players. You made it seem like we could vote for all 21. Only after I had constructed my list did I realize that I could not vote for #11 (I only chose 11 for my ballot), which happened to be Roger Clemens. My other 10 were the top 10 vote getters in a different order.

  26. JRoth says:

    FWIW, on the Bonds/Clemens split: I think there’s simply a sense that more of Clemens’ career was PED-aided, and that there’s a decent chance PED-free alternate universe Clemens falls short, whereas no one can make even a plausible claim of that nature against Bonds.

    Basically, the narrative is this*: Clemens was brilliant in his first years as a Red Sox, had a down year or two, went to the Jays, was ineffective, then got on the juice and became the most dominant pitcher ever. Whereas Bonds was brilliant as a Pirate and then went to San Francisco and didn’t miss a beat, until 1999 when he got fed up with Sosa/McGwire and got on the juice and became the most dominant hitter ever.

    Basically, the idea is that Bonds was a first-ballot HoFer pre-PEDs, whereas Clemens was more of a borderline guy (granting, of course, that we don’t know when he started using). Note that this comports with Bonds getting 18.5% more points than Clemens; it seems that few people ranked him higher than Barry, and a good number of people ranked him a few notches lower. Take away any kind of PED penalty, and I don’t think there’s that much daylight between them (some – I don’t think Clemens’ very best years were as historic as Bonds’ – but not 18.5% of daylight).

    *note I’m not actually checking any stats here; I’m talking about a narrative, not a well-researched argument

    • Richie says:

      Clemens pitched 13 years in Boston. I think he’s a HOFer if he retired after the 1996 season.

      He would have had 81.3 WAR, 144 ERA+
      2590 SO, 859 BB, 1.16 WHIP, 3 Cy Young, 1 MVP, 192-111 record

      I’d say that would put him ahead of modern HOF pitchers (with 13ish year careers) like: Drysdale, Marichal, Koufax and Catfish Hunter.

      A lot of his stats improved after leaving Boston, but he was still damn good in Boston.

    • Herb Smith says:

      Good point. Clemens was a HOFer before he ever used PEDS. here’s another argument for Clemens (pre-1997, before he left the Red Sox): by that time he had led the AL in WAR 3 times, and led in WAR-for-pitchers 4 times. So you could make a strong case for him being a 4-time Cy winner and 3-time MVP of the AL BEFORE ever going to Toronto.

    • MNDave says:

      Clemens was brilliant in his first years as a Red Sox, had a down year or two, went to the Jays, was ineffective

      Clemens won the Cy Young in each of his two years in Toronto.

  27. Alejo says:

    I have a question: do BBWAA voters collude? (as in, 25% of the guys have an agreement to keep some players out?) If they do, then your way seems better. If they don’t, then it is not the “special interests of a minority” who keep some people out, it’s just a matter of a player reaching extremely wide consensus, which is different.

    And, by the way, in real life Bonds is WAY below 75%.

  28. pappymax says:

    Great article and discussion in the comments. It will be interesting to see how the 25% PED-based voters will behave over time. Will they change their voting approach, after sending a message for a few years? Will they feel compelled to put a few players on their ballots each year, prolonging the process for some players that will probably never get to the 75% level.

    Also, the pitching gets even more crowded the following year with Martinez, Johnson, and Smoltz.

  29. Grulg says:

    Does Morris, in fact, belong in the Hall of Fame? No, he doesn’t, according to, which gives him a WAR score of 39.3, tied for 145th all time among pitchers. Maybe he does, according to FanGraphs, which gives him a 56.9 WAR, 75th all time.

    Kinda throws your little narrative about Black Jack out the window a mite, doesn’t it Joe?

  30. Tim Smith says:

    As to the entire steroid era, make special room with low, dark, ominous lighting and bold, negative colors and graphics and put them all in: Bonds, Clemens, Piazza, Bagwell, all with great numbers. It’s like the TourdeFrance. Lance own 7 times against equally-juiced competition. There *was* a race. You can’t deny that. So asterik them. In the same light, have a special “Steroid Era” room or exhibit and put them in. Bonds seems like a terrible human being, but the guy was a HfFer before bloating up. Clemens too.

  31. Going with the points system, you could convert to the % of total points each player got:

    Greg Maddux, 16.9%
    Barry Bonds, 12.4%
    Roger Clemens, 10.5%
    Frank Thomas, 10.0%
    Mike Piazza, 8.0%
    Jeff Bagwell, 7.9%
    Tom Glavine, 6.7%
    Tim Raines, 6.4%
    Craig Biggio, 5.9%
    Curt Schilling, 3.0%
    Edgar Martinez, 2.3%
    Alan Trammell, 2.2%
    Mark McGwire, 1.7%
    Mike Mussina, 1.6%
    Larry Walker, 1.4%
    Sammy Sosa, 0.7%
    Jack Morris, 0.7%
    Jeff Kent, 0.5%
    Lee Smith, 0.5%
    Rafael Palmeiro, 0.4%
    Fred McGriff, 0.4%

    Looking at this, it seems that a 10% cut-off would be an acceptable point for players to be inducted.

    • asddfawe says:

      I think this is somewhat of an illusion. If you go back 5 years or so the % would likely need to be higher. Since Bonds/Clemens (and to a much lesser extent Piazza/McGuire) are essentially binary choices, 12% reflects a much smaller % than the people who think Bonds numbers deserve. This also means that others, like Frank Thomas have their numbers suppressed as in a no bond world he would be #2 on a lot of ballots instead of #4.

  32. jaredhollick says:

    William Tasker answered this question above. As Joe mentioned, if this system were used, it would have to be decided where the cutoff would be- the top two point-getters each year was suggested as a possible cutoff.

    However you slice it, what William said is true, not voting for someone should count just as strongly as ranking that player first. The trick would be to determine the cutoff fairly. If one person ranks a player #1 and one person leaves that same player off their ballot, those votes would ideally counteract each other. With that in mind, in that scenario, the player would have an average of 5 points per voter. So, at the very least, I think it stands to reason that if this kind of system were used, a player would have to average AT LEAST more than 5 points per voter.

    In the above voting, Maddux averages 8.95 points per voter, Bonds, who finished second in this weighted voting, averaged 6.57.

    Wherever the cutoff *should* be, I leave to smarter and more intelligent people to decide.

  33. Catchem says:

    I’m not sure what the bonds point (which you’ve made once before) is really proving. Yes bonds is the best player on the ballot Maddux/Clemens are second and third you pick (If we only rank by years not using steroids, per game of shadows Bonds is, at worst, the third best player in this back (maddux and thomas). However, everyone already knows Bonds is either in or not. This binary due to steroids is much better expressed in the current system as it is a question of should he be disqualified or not. The new system overstates his support as no one will vote bonds 8 on the ballot. It could be more interesting if we exclude steroid questions or rank 1-15 and only count the ballots the people were on, for an average position.

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