By In Stuff

To Vote Tactically

I started voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame more than 10 years ago, and all the while I’ve had a core philosophy to always vote for the 10 BEST players (assuming there are at least 10 Hall of Fame worthy players on the ballot). As you no doubt know, the Hall of Fame limits voters to 10 players. This was not an especially big problem when I started voting because in, say, 2006, there were not more than 10 fully qualified Hall of Fame candidates on the ballot.

By Jay Jaffe’s JAWS — which measures a player career/peak WAR against that of the average Hall of Famer — the Top 10 candidates in 2006 were (in parentheses I put the player’s JAWS and what I call JAWS+, which works like OPS+ and shows how he compares with the average Hall of Famer):

1. Bert Blyleven (73 JAWS, 118 JAWS+)

2. Goose Gossage (37 JAWS, 108 JAWS+)

3. Alan Trammell (57.5 JAWS, 105 JAWS+)

4. Andre Dawson (53.5 JAWS, 93 JAWS+)

5. Will Clark (46 JAWS, 84 JAWS+)

6. Jim Rice (41.8 JAWS, 78 JAWS+)

7. Orel Hershiser (48.4, 78 JAWS+)

8. Tommy John (48.4, 78 JAWS+)

9. Dale Murphy (43.6 JAWS, 75 JAWS+)

10. Dwight Gooden (46.1 JAWS, 74 JAWS+)

Now, admittedly there were other candidates on that ballot who didn’t do well in JAWS but were widely viewed to be viable Hall of Fame candidates — a couple of them have been elected. Bruce Sutter (72 JAWS+) was elected THAT YEAR. Jack Morris (62 JAWS+) got a lot of votes and was voted in by the veteran’s committee this year. Steve Garvey (61 JAWS+), Dave Parker (66 JAWS+), Don Mattingly (71 JAWS+) all have received support at various levels.

But the point is that there were a handful (at most) of fully qualified Hall of Famers, and a whole bunch of boderline and really sub-borderline candidates to work with.

Now, look at this year’s ballot — this time I’ll just use JAWS+ to keep it simple.

1. Barry Bonds, 221 JAWS+

2. Roger Clemens, 166 JAWS+

3. Chipper Jones, 119 JAWS+

4. Jim Thome, 105 JAWS+

5. Curt Schilling, 104 JAWS+

6. Scott Rolen, 103 JAWS+

7. Mike Mussina, 103 JAWS+

8. Manny Ramirez, 102 JAWS+

9. Edgar Martinez, 101 JAWS+

10. Larry Walker, 101 JAWS+

OK, there’s your Top 10 — and as you see every single one of them are, by JAWS, fully qualified, better-than-the-average-Hall-of-Famer candidates.

You see how in 2006 the Top 10 takes you all the way down to 74 JAWS+? If you want to go all the way to 74 JAWS+ now, you need to include Andruw Jones (94), Sammy Sosa (88), Vlad Guerrero (86), Gary Sheffield (85), Fred McGriff (81), Jeff Kent (80), Johan Santana (77), Kerry Wood (77) and Johnny Damon (77). That’s NINE more players.

And if we do that we STILL have not mentioned Trevor Hoffman (70) who is, I would think, going to get elected this year.

We STILL have not mentioned Billy Wagner (70) who I think was every bit as good if not better than Hoffman.

We STILL have not mentioned Omar Vizquel (66), who is a Hall of Fame favorite for many.

I imagine you already knew this, already knew that because of the character clause backlog and because expansion has created many more qualified Hall of Fame candidates, the ballot is an absolute mess.

Which takes us back to the beginning: I’ve never voted quote-unquote “tactically.” That is to say that when choosing my ballot, I have never chose players based on how my vote might help or hurt them; I have never left off one of my Top 10 players to help out someone who might need a boost. I didn’t vote for, say, Kenny Lofton even though I thought he was viable Hall of Fame candidate and I knew that he needed every vote he could get just to stay on the ballot. I was tempted to do that, but there were in my mind 10 better players on the ballot and voting for the best players has been my basic Hall of Fame voting principle.

This year: I’m just not so sure.

Here’s my problem: There are, in my mind, nine slam-dunk Hall of Fame candidates on this year’s ballot. I won’t tell you the nine because I’m about to start my “Write about every single player on the Hall of Fame ballot) series” at on Christmas Day and don’t want to give spoilers … but I suspect you know the nine. That leaves me one vote for a great player who I think is worthy of the Hall. One vote.

There are NINE MORE players competing in my mind for that one vote.

Cutting it down further, there are THREE players in particular that I believe are very strong Hall of Fame candidates who should stay on the ballot for further discussion.

Three players for one vote. I suppose you could argue that voters SHOULD be forced to make these sorts of hard choices, that this is the Baseball Hall of Fame we are talking about, the highest honor, all that stuff, and that this means ruthlessly drawing lines and cutting off those who don’t quite make the cut. I would agree with that in the larger sense which is why I have always voted the way I have voted.

But lately, the Hall of Fame has refused to acknowledge that things have changed. A couple of years ago, the BBWAA requested that the ballot be expanded to 12, a thoroughly reasonable request that, if anything, doesn’t go far enough (I prefer Derrick Goold’s binary ballot but I suspect that was a non-starter for the Hall of Fame).

The Hall of Fame denied the ballot expansion. I get it. The Hall of Fame takes particular pride in its standards, takes particular pride in being the most exclusive of all the sports Halls of Fame (even though that isn’t EXACTLY true). But there are always unintended consequences, and in this case one of them is that by not expanding the ballot they are basically PLEADING with us to vote strategically so that we can do the most good with my votes. We all know generally how the other voters are going to vote. And we can specifically see how many people voted based on the columns they write and the essential Mr. Tibbs spreadheet, now up to 88 ballots.

They are basically pleading with me to, say, not vote for Chipper Jones. He doesn’t need my vote. He will get elected easily, and so if I pass on him I can have TWO spare votes use on those borderline players I think deserve my support. I have my problems anyway with Chipper Jones, particularly his ghastly Newtown never happened Tweet, so why not just give his vote to someone who needs it a lot more.

But I also believe that’s not the RIGHT way to vote because, let’s face it, if enough people vote that way, suddenly Chipper Jones doesn’t get elected. And Chipper Jones is one of the greatest players in baseball history.

It’s messy. My friend Tom Tango has put up a poll on Twitter about this subject.

Am curious how this vote will turn out — go on over and vote, if you can. We’ll give you an update after the voting is done.

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44 Responses to To Vote Tactically

  1. invitro says:

    “I’m about to start my “Write about every single player on the Hall of Fame ballot) series” at on Christmas Day” — Oh, my! I’d forgotten about this one. A late Christmas present to everyone!

    “I suspect you know the nine.” — Nope, and I’m the champion Joe-predictor (Baseball 100). Let’s see… the top 10 in JAWS from above are Bonds, Clemens, Chipper, Thome, Schilling, Rolen, Mussina, MannyBManny, Edgar, and Walker. I’d guess that 6 are locks for Joe: Bonds, Clemens, Chipper, Thome, Mussina, and Edgar. Schilling might be a lock, but I can’t remember if Joe didn’t vote for him because of you-know-what. I don’t think Joe has talked about Rolen anytime recently, and Rolen is the main reason why I’m perplexed about Joe’s statement. He’s generally held to be a borderline selection, but is overwhelmingly qualified based on JAWS, which is a strong influence on Joe’s choices. So… I don’t see how it’s obvious that Joe would (or wouldn’t) vote for Rolen.

    And then there’s Manny, who I think was #10 or #11 for Joe last year, so I guess he’s not in the nine, and Vlad, who’s a slam-dunk for many voters, but probably isn’t for Joe. And I think Walker is a slam-dunk for Joe, but he obviously isn’t for many (or most) voters.

    I just hope Thome makes it. It seems like he was viewed as borderline a year ago, but has moved closer to being a near-certainty.

    I’m most looking forward to reading what Joe has to say about Rolen, Kerry Wood, Andruw (who is probably a borderline guy for Joe), Livan Hernandez, Thome, Chipper (to see what else Joe doesn’t like about him), Schilling (bound to be interesting as always), and Walker (was he the guy that Joe was going to make his pet player, as Raines was?). Ah, HoF voting time… one of the most wonderful times of the year! 🙂

    • SDG says:

      Joe is very pro-Schilling for the Hall. He made Schilling into his pet cause. And last year Schilling was #3 on his list, after Bonds and Clemens.

      I’m also interested in what Joe has to say a about Andruw, a guy who (a) has the kind of career you need advanced stats to appreciate, was one of the greatest ever at something most people don’t care about and is classic peak vs career and (c) loses on so-called “character” arguments, albeit different ones than what people who care about that usually complain about.

      Also, I’m glad Chipper, with his horrific extreme right-wing views, who, politically makes Schilling look like Bernie Sanders, will sail in on a near-unanimous first ballot. Maybe that will finally, FINALLY shut up all the right-wing trolls claiming Schilling is a artyr being persecuted for his political beliefs and a victim of left-wing political correctness. It won’t, because that’s such an effective rhetorical tactic for the right, but I can dream.

      • invitro says:

        Well, it’s a fact that many HoF voters haven’t voted for Schilling because of things he’s done on Twitter. I mean, these voters have admitted it. (We had this discussion a year or two ago, and I supplied lots of links then… so I’m not going to do it again.)

        I’m going to have to check out these “horrific extreme right-wing” opinions of Chipper. I assumed he was right-wing (most baseball players are), but the “horrific” and “extreme” parts are new to me.

        • SDG says:

          Chipper’s a Sandy Hook Truther. That’s both horrific and (I hope, although who knows any more) extreme.

          (Based on the tweet it would appear he’s an Alex Jones fan butthat’s just my speculation).

          • Crazy Diamond says:

            The other controversial thing that Chipper said (and that has cost him votes) was something about putting alligators in the Rio Grande to keep out illegal aliens from crossing. I guess this is offensive to some, though I imagine having illegals flowing into the country is in itself offensive to others. Either way, it shouldn’t be part of the equation for the HOF.

            Nobody cares about anyone’s politics. Schilling deserves to be in the HOF regardless of what he tweets and the same goes for Chipper. Not voting for these guys (or even PED users, depending on your perspective) because you’re a sanctimonious fraud more concerned with virtue-signaling than doing your job of voting in HOF-caliber players is effing annoying.

            Just look at Jose de Jesus Ortiz and his nonsense about Chipper Jones. He also has some bass-ackwards thoughts on Bonds vs. Clemens. Somebody that stupid shouldn’t be allowed to vote for anything, let alone be allowed to vote for the HOF.

          • invitro says:

            I agree with all this. (I don’t know who Jose de Jesus Ortiz is, but I’ll take your word for it.)

          • invitro says:

            Well, I think that voters should be able to vote for anyone they want for whatever reason they have, so I don’t agree with the very last phrase :).

            I also think it’s wrong to say that Chipper IS a “Sandy Hook truther”. I mean, he apologized for that tweet almost instantly. Unless he’s made the same claim again, I don’t see how one would write “is” instead of “was, for a few seconds”.

            I might also take issue with calling that belief “ghastly” (as Joe does) or “horrific”. I mean, half or more Americans believe some conspiracy theory (I read somewhere that about half of Americans believe Oswald didn’t shoot JFK). I don’t know if I want to think that more than half of all Americans have ghastly or horrific beliefs. (I’d settle for calling it “wrong-headed”. Most people who believe conspiracy theories are ignorant, not evil.)

          • moviegoer74 says:


            Not all conspiracy theories are equal.

            There’s nothing ghastly about believing Oswald didn’t kill JFK. Nobody is hurt by that belief. It does not deny anyone’s pain. Believing Sandy hook didn’t happen, believing that dozens of parents are faking their grief…that’s ghastly.

          • MikeN says:

            People hurt by the belief Oswald didn’t kill JFK would include CIA employees, and perhaps FBI employees accused of botching the investigation. Also the Bush family, as they are prominently involved in the conspiracy theories. Believed to be in Dallas that day, and was later head of CIA. W’s brother was head of security at World Trade Center. Lied about WMD to start a war.

    • AndyL says:

      I totally forgot about the Posnanski 100 contest. I was in second. We left off at #32 — Grover Cleveland Alexander, which was posted by Joe on March 19, 2016. I wonder if Joe will ever resume and count down to #1.

      Poz 100 Prediction Contest – Standings

      Rank Player Score
      1 Invitro 917
      2 AndyL 914
      3 DickAllen 912
      4 WoC 906
      5 ESPN 888
      6 MarkR 871
      6 DM 871
      8 EJM 865
      9 Geoff 864
      10 TomGilbert 859

    • Gary says:

      I look forward to Joe’s HOF articles like the rest of you here. So it amused me to read a similar article on the Rock and Roll HOF this morning ( titled How Mediocre Bands Get Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
      It’s an interesting article but one particular paragraph reminded me of past HOF debates here. Here it is, see if it sounds familiar.
      “I’m also slightly surprised that the Eurythmics, who had one of the genuinely compelling frontwomen of the era, didn’t make the cut. See, when it comes to an act like Eurythmics, I apply the always-useful H&O SOM© (the Hall & Oates Standard of Measure). The H&O SOM© works like this: Hall & Oates are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (wait, are you telling me Hall & Oates are in the Hall of Fame, and Brian Eno, The Cure, and Def Leppard aren’t? Uh-huh, that’s right). Is this particular act we’re considering more interesting, more popular, or more influential then Hall & Oates?”
      Sound familiar? Both the H&O SOM© argument and the writing itself sound sound like they could have come from the keyboard of Joe P himself.

      • invitro says:

        Well… “more interesting” is completely subjective, and “more influential” is partially so, so I don’t see how you’re going to get very far with that argument. I mean, some people think Hall & Oates is more interesting than Eurythmics, and vice-versa, and they’re both right! 🙂

        H&O were very, very popular; I doubt there are too many musical acts more popular than them that are in the HoF. I don’t know who’s in the HoF, though. I know it’s not really about rock music any more… it probably should be renamed the Pop Music Hall of Fame.

      • Brett Alan says:

        That’s an interesting answer, but listing the ten biggest omissions from the Rock Hall and only naming white people is mindblowing. Wynonie Harris, Janet Jackson, LL Cool J, Roy Brown, Norman Whitfield, and War are probably more deserving than anyone on that list.

  2. Lou Mindar says:

    On the one hand, I understand the HOF’s desire to remain exclusive, but, as you point out, that creates problems of its own. For instance, as a lifelong baseball fan and close follower of the HOF, I am starting to feel alienated by the Hall’s refusal to accept that times have changed. To remain relevant, the Hall has to change too. Refusing to change gives me the vague feeling that the HOF is trying to rig the vote.

    The ham-handed letter from Joe Morgan on HOF letterhead regarding alleged steroid users is another example of the Hall trying to control the vote before the votes are even cast, to pre-determine the outcome by tying the hands of the BBWAA. This leaves me feeling ambivalent about the vote, and ultimately calls into question the credibility of the Hall. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the HOF, but I want a Hall with all of the best players in it, warts and all. Because a HOF with just some of the best players really isn’t a HOF at all.

    • invitro says:

      Since the HoF has never had the warts of Joe Jackson or Pete Rose in it, I guess you’ve been feeling alienated for a long time, eh?

      • Karyn says:

        Those are different cases and you know it.

        • invitro says:

          So what if they’re different… Jackson and Rose were two of the best baseball players, so by his reasoning, the HoF hasn’t been a real HoF since Jackson’s career ended. (And probably never has been, since the Negro League superstars weren’t elected until much later than Jackson’s career ended.)

          FWIW, I think it’s obvious that the ‘roid ragers like Bonds & Clemens hurt baseball far, far more than Rose did. I mean, is there anyone who disagrees with this? 😉

          • Lou Mindar says:

            In fact, I do feel the HOF is diminished not having Pete Rose as part of it. Joe Jackson not being in the Hall doesn’t bother me as much, but others may disagree. How exactly did Bonds and Clemens hurt baseball? I loved watching them both. They were fantastic. The only thing that bothers me is that Bonds beat Aaron’s HR record. Other than that, they did much more good for the game than they did harm to it.

    • SDG says:

      I remain fully confident the PED crew gets in, and in a few years, and for the reasons you cite. You can, barely, plausibly have a valid “best players in baseball” collection that doesn’t include Shoeless or Pete Rose, because they have extenuating circumstances and no one thinks of them as the actual best player in history. (At least no one alive). But a hall without Bonds, Clemens or ARod? It’s no longer valid to talk about the Hall as the place for the best players. It’s a Hall of people who played pro ball and called their mothers every day.

      It’s why the Negro League players went in. Because the legend of the leagues, and the players, had grown so much, that people were starting to put mental asterisks next to every inductee. Mention Babe Ruth, and you have to put a parenthetical (except maybe for Josh Gibson) after his name. The public no longer saw it as a way to honour and identify the best players ever, the true immortals. It was a way to honour and identify the best players ever, the true immortals* and you can’t have anything with an * and expect to be taken seriously. In that one respect, it’s the same here. (Morally the situations are completely different of course). You can’t have a Hall with the best players, except for one era we’re just not going to talk about and hope it goes away.

  3. Mark says:

    >But I also believe that’s not the RIGHT way to vote because, let’s face it, if enough people vote that way, suddenly Chipper Jones doesn’t get elected. And Chipper Jones is one of the greatest players in baseball history.

    You could argue that such an occurrence would send shock waves throughout the baseball community and force the Hall to change something regarding the voting process (for the better or worse). But something needs to be changed.

    I’m curious, but how long has the 10-player limit been a thing? If this is something that is from the per-expansion days (before 1960), then doesn’t it seem strange to enforce this standard of number of players to consider when the number of teams is almost twice that of pre 1960? It’s almost like saying the number of Hall of Fame players should be as frequent now as it was pre 1960 even though the number of players to consider has increased (almost two fold).

    • invitro says:

      It doesn’t seem at all strange to me to keep the 10-player limit. Why should the number of Hall of Famers be increasing, rather than constant?

      This is reminiscent of what people were saying around 4 years ago. The BBWAA elected no players in 2013, one player in 2012 (Larkin), two in 2011 (Alomar and Blyleven), and one in 2010 (Dawson). People, including, I think, Joe, were saying that with the increased number of players due to expansion, and the steroid users about to hit the ballot, that the HoF was in dire trouble, that we would start regularly seeing one or even no players elected per year.

      Some of us (hi!) said this was rubbish, and of course it turned out to be rubbish. The BBWAA elected three players in 2014, a whopping four in 2015, “only” two in 2016, and three more this year.

      I don’t know why so many people, including usually-good thinking people like Joe, can make these kinds of obvious mistakes. Numbers go up and they go down. We were in a down period in 2010-2013, and we’re currently in an up period; including Morris & Trammell, I think there will almost certainly be a super-whopping five players inducted in 2018. And in a few years, the BBWAA will again induct only five players in some three-year span, and again, people will say the sky is falling; that we need to blow up the HoF and start over. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. 🙂 🙁

      • mrh says:

        >It doesn’t seem at all strange to me to keep the 10-player limit. Why should the number of Hall of Famers be increasing, rather than constant?

        Because if all those pre-integration HoFers belong in the there, then there are necessarily more players of the same ability (and character) post-integration and with teh increased pool of Latin players.

      • SDG says:

        Because for the first time since the early days of the Hall, there’s a ridiculous backlog that will take years of huge inductee classes, to clear. You could plausibly vote for 20 people on this year’s ballot, not to mention all the overlooked VC-type candidates like Grich and Whitaker.

        • invitro says:

          “Because for the first time since the early days of the Hall” — Don’t be silly… people (including Joe) have been saying that for at least five years. It’s pretty simple: if you want the ‘roid ragers in, there’s a huge backlog, and if you don’t, there isn’t. (I think the backlog is Edgar, Mussina, Walker, and Schilling. Don’t know if four = “huge”). 🙂

          • Crazy Diamond says:

            “It doesn’t seem at all strange to me to keep the 10-player limit. Why should the number of Hall of Famers be increasing, rather than constant.”

            I agree with you 100%! Also, how do you make those hard breaks in your posts?

          • invitro says:

            Thanks for your support.

            You can’t make blank lines on this blog. So I put in a line with nothing but “…”. It sorta looks like a blank line…

      • Richard Aronson says:

        The problem with that attitude is that it doesn’t account for expansion. Until the first expansion, there were 16 MLB teams, and HOF honorees were proportional to the number of players. Now we have 30 HOF teams, which also reflects the much larger population of the USA, plus the rest of the world that wants to play here, plus we are no longer excluding players because of skin color. That means the pool of players to compete for MLB slots is more than twice as large, and if the same percentage of them are HOF worthy, we should be electing twice as many.

        But we’re not. And for those of us who know some advanced math, it’s even worse. We now have far more specialists competing for entry, categories like closers and designated hitters. Plus expansion means that some players who might have had a defect keeping them off rosters (not quite good enough defense to accept their offense, or vice versa) now can earn MLB slots (Edgar Martinez, for example, who would have been clearly HOF worthy if the Mariners had realized that his bat was indeed that much better than his glove). So every time a voter picks his pet candidate (JAWS+ under 100) who happened to play an under represented position or for his favorite team or whatever personal metrics that voter uses, it means another worthy candidate loses a vote. With the bar to acceptance so high at 75%, it doesn’t take many such personal votes to create a logjam.

        Remember: those ten great players with JAWS+ above 100 are not just HOF worthy: they are better than the average player at their position already in the HOF. When guys like Jack Morris and Jim Rice are still diluting the overall quality of the HOF because they pitched a great critical game or three or had an enormous home field advantage or just hit enough voters buttons, that means the actual bar for “HOF Worthy” should be less than 100, probably even less than 80. Steve Garvey, for example, hits almost all the old school buttons; excellent defense (as long as he didn’t have to make any throws, he was as good as anyone at his position), lots of hits and RBIs, good power in a pitcher’s park and era. Never mind his lack of walks and the number of times he was on the leader boards for most outs made in the season; those are new metrics. I’ll exclude relief aces from JAWS+ because of lack of innings while also noting that the change to 5 (and possibly even 6 for some teams) man rotations means that starting pitchers get fewer chances for wins just because they get fewer starts. Should a good starting pitcher with a 15+ year long career and a good ERA get denied entry into the HOF just because he didn’t accumulate a magical total of wins because he was on bad teams (Bert Blyleven) or didn’t win a Cy Young (Mike Mussina) or happened to be the second or third best of his “type” playing at a time when the best also happened to be playing (Tim Raines, Kenny Lofton, Alan Trammell, Omar Vizquel)? Before the recent era, almost any starting pitcher who was clearly a #1 or #2 starter for his team for 15 or more seasons was likely to get elected to the HOF. Nowadays, not so much.

        I’m not quite as much a “big hall” kind of guy as Joe is, but every player in the HOF represents a story of his team and his era and is a treat to fans who saw him play. There is no downside to making sure that

        So the net result is that each personal candidate means other clearly worthy candidates don’t reach 75%. The logjam grows tougher to break up. If we don’t like JAWS+, find some other metric that is era and ballpark adjusted. Computers mean we can easily do those calculations. I mean, in hindsight, Maury Wills was probably a better player than Don Drysdale just because of the huge advantage pitchers got in Dodger Stadium at that time (the fences are shorter and foul area filled with seats today). I think the HOF deserves to have both, that fans going to get the history of baseball won’t know how game changing Wills was with his speed, how the Giants used to water their basepaths to slow him down so he was less likely to steal. It’s a story of an era in baseball different from today’s three true outcomes, and for a fan of the sport, it deserves to be told.

        But it’s not in the HOF because it’s too hard to get in.

        • MarkW says:

          Re Garvey, walks and outs are not new metrics, they are facts. Just because everyone was blinded by 200 hits and a big smile in the 70s doesn’t mean we shouldn’t notice that the #s don’t add up. You don’t need WAR or JAWS or any other ‘calculation’ to make that call.

        • MarkW says:

          PS there is no HOF large enough to get down to the level of Maury Wills.

  4. NevadaMark says:

    You cannot blame the HOF for this, not in the position you’re in. If you don’t like the rules, don’t vote. And if enough of you withhold your vote the standards will change.

    • SDG says:

      If enough people like Joe don’t vote it doesn’t mean the standards change, it means all the Murray Chassses vote and elect Omar Vizquel over Barry Bonds. If there’s one thing the past year should have made clear, is that refusing to participate in a system because it’s not sufficiently pure lets the other side walk all over you. You want to change something? Be as involved as possible.

  5. Bryan says:

    Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, Mussina, Edgar and Walker were Joe’s no doubt choices that are still on the ballot (Bagwell, Raines, Pudge) and Manny vs Vlad was his really hard choice for last spot and went with Manny. Those 8 and Chipper and Thome would seem to be a really obvious ballot. Sheffield was his 12th choice last year: “If I’d had 11 picks, I would have had to leave off Gary Sheffield, who I also believe is a qualified Hall of Famer. I would have felt a bit bad about that, but not as bad as with Manny and Vlad.”
    It’s really unlikely that Sheffield or anyone else that was on last year’s ballot has climbed to at least the Manny/Vlad level in the last 12 months and with Vlad so close to election he’s most likely secured the 9th spot ahead of Manny.
    Manny and 2 ballot newcomers other than Chipper and Thome. 2 of Rolen, Andruw and Johan or those 3 and Manny has been relegated to 13th place. Vizquel, Damon and Moyer are really unlikely to crack the Top 12. There are currently 100 public votes: Manny 27, Rolen 11, Andruw 8 and Johan 2.
    Manny almost has to be in the final trio since he’s guaranteed to be on next year’s ballot at this point, no realistic chance to be elected or drop, that sets up “vote tactically”, a completely meaningless vote for Manny or a vote that might keep Rolen or Andruw on the ballot. Even with the Johan surge (was 0 for 80ish) he’s at high risk of one and done, to even consider voting tactically there is no way someone would consider not voting for Johan if they felt he was one of the 10 most deserving players on the ballot.
    Possibly Vlad instead of Manny since he gained 14 votes from the first 93 ballots that voted last year and 7 for 7 with people who didn’t vote last year but considering Joe’s actual vote and his potential sway with other voters his vote and column might have kept Vlad from being inducted last year so I don’t see Joe rolling the dice on Vlad this year.

  6. rabidtiger says:

    The 75% approval bar is limitation enough for goodness sake! What bothers me is the time limit, secondarily the ten-man limitation. Why should Lou Whitaker be dropped off after the tenth or fifteenth year? I remember him and I would vote for him this year if I could. Some guys might need twenty years or more until we conspirators (old farts) can gather the coalition to push him over the top. Drop them after twenty-five years. That ought to be enough time, when the time comes that those who remember the guy play are beginning to fade themselves. If the ballot included Joe Schmo who hit .265/.335/.410 and socked 110 homers over nine years, who would vote for him? Clog the ballot and the voters will respond appropriately. Let the voters vote for fifteen, twenty if they want. I won’t and many others voters won’t. I consider myself a large-hall guy now that I realize we can’t kick out marginal players of the past, but others will differ. I might not vote for ten men this year despite all the supporters I see above enthusing away about Poopoo, Dudu, and Schmo (not to name names.) Real voters are, collectively, surely at least as wise and prudent as I am individually!

    • John Autin says:

      Nice of you to mention Sweet Lou. But for the record, he was dropped after ONE ballot, getting less than the 5% required to stay on.

      I don’t know the exact history of the 10-year limit and the 5% drop rule. But BBWAA inductee Ralph Kiner would have been felled by BOTH of those — getting less than 5% in his first 2 ballots, and getting elected in his 16th year of eligibility (after never topping 62% before).

      As Joe says, the combined effect of those two rules forces many conscientious and compassionate voters to vote strategically. Which is a pretty debased approach to selecting a Hall of Fame, in my view.

      • J Hench says:

        The time limit was recently REDUCED to 10 years. If it was at 15 still, I’d be on board with invitro; there’s a current backlog, but eventually it will sort itself out and the only real victims will be the extremely borderline guys (like Santana) who might normally have hung in the 30% range for a few years, but now will struggle to stay on the ballot.

        But with 10 years, it is possible that players will age off the ballot before getting elected.

        Which, depending on one’s feelings about the use of chemicals for a competitive advantage, might be well and good. And of course, there will be nearly endless opportunities for future Veterans Committees to relitigate.

  7. rabidtiger says:

    I tried to figure a way to get Lou Whitaker more votes and I’m coming up empty. The year he finished with 15 votes (2001), he was the top non-qualifier, finishing just ahead of teammates Gibson and Parrish.

    The total number of votes cast that year was 3258, for 515 ballots. (I did not double-check this number.) The average elector voted for only 6 or 7 guys. Some electors were ultra-serious, evidently casting no more than 5 votes and others cast one vote for John Kruk, Ron Darling, Jose Rijo, Steve Bedrosian, Tom Browning, and Jim Deshaies. I assume these used up all their votes. Obviously the electors themselves have widely differing ideas of electability.

    My modified proposal is to keep a guy on the list as long as he has one (1) vote, perpetually, except that five consecutive years of one vote leads to being dropped from the ballot. The ballot after a few years would be so clogged that in the sixth year, a huge number would be dropped as a result of “vote-splitting.” But Lou would get 5 years at a minimum. Let the politicking begin!

    [It is interesting to note that eight men from 2001’s ballot have been voted in one way or another over the years, including every player with more then 40% on 2001″s ballot. Those elected in 2001, Winfield and Puckett, were both first year men.]

    • SDG says:

      There’s no decent procedural way to keep Lou on the ballot. What does work, is high-profile fan campaigns and media attention. Make Lou into a cause (it’s a good time now with his teammates having been chosen from the Modern Era ballot) and push him, the way Jonah Keri did with Tim Raines.

      The problem with your one-vote plan is it would lead to every candidate on the ballot being given one vote, because there will always be at least one sportswriter who things “Well, I don’t know if he’s Hallworthy, but he deserves more discussion” about their sentimental favourites, and we’ll never get anything done if we have to wade through every Matt Stairs and Jason Varitek. But candidates like Lou are becoming more and more valued by high-profile writers with bestselling books as advanced stats goes from an oddity to 100% mainstream, and keeping the pressure on will move overlooked candidates forward.

      So look forward to Lou’s induction ceremony, say, five years after he dies. Maybe Minoso will go in at the same time.

      • invitro says:

        Lou Whitaker doesn’t have a fourth of the case that Tim Raines did (or Trammell did, for that matter). His entire case is: he played for 19 seasons, and was at All-Star level most of those years. Hey, that’s a super career. But Lou doesn’t have anything else. His WAR7 ranks only #21; that’s not good enough for the Hall. He finished #8 in one MVP vote and that’s it. He doesn’t appear to have any “black ink” except for tying for games played one season. He looks like an above-average member of that “Hall of Very Good” to me.

  8. Kuz says:

    I love the thought provoking columns and comments on this site. Maybe we should have a voting HOF and an algorithm HOF and we can discuss the merits of each Hall. And the merits of the algorithm.

    Merry Christmas.

  9. sundiego says:

    Joe, reading your post on utilitarianism made me think that Chidi was explaining the ballot process to Eleanor in the Good Place. I’m glad you and Michael Schur are friends.

    I hop you can make a decision better than Chidi.

  10. MikeN says:

    PED users will start getting in once Ortiz is denied, and the Boston media, and ESPN if it still exists, weighs in about how it doesn’t matter.

    Regarding stacked ballots, how many current players are Hall of Famers? I think we might see things receding in about ten-15 years.

  11. MikeN says:

    What’s needed is a separate clearinghouse for ballots.
    Everyone e-mails their ballot to my server, along with a listing every candidate they think deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and perhaps the borderlines as well they might reconsider.

    Then the server will send back to them who they should vote for, particularly those who have more than ten names listed, with an eye on making sure no one gets dropped and getting people over 75%.

  12. MikeN says:

    What’s needed is not tactical voting but strategic voting. Leave off the PED players, as it’s obvious they will not get in for a few years more. Let the other guys thru.
    Wait for Ortiz in four years and then let the Boston media make its push.
    You will then have backed up ARod, Bonds, Clemens, Manny, and Sosa while clearing Chipper, Andruw, Mussina, Schilling, Thome, Walker, Edgar, Guerrero, and anyone else that needs to be decided. They get decided with a full voting jury.

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