Breaking Down the 2015 Hall of Fame Ballot: Part III – The Voting

Image of the Baseball Hall of Fame

Courtesy of wikipedia.org

All righty. So – I’ve broken down the Holdovers on the Hall of Fame Ballot. I’ve broken down the Newcomers. I’ve debated which ones I think are Hall of Famers, which are getting in, and which are deserving. By my count, of the 34 names on the ballot, there’s about seventeen or so names of players who deserve to hear their name called on Election Day. I’ve gone into detail about the worthiness of the cases of each player, and now it’s time to reveal whom I believe is getting in, as well as which of the players I voted for the IBWAA “symbolic” Hall of Fame vote.

But first, let’s talk about some of the early results we’re seeing, as they are quite interesting…

There’s a couple of websites that tally up ballots as they’re revealed publicly. To be clear, this is not an accurate precursor of who’s getting inducted – last year, just about 50% of ballots were counted publicly, and those tallies indicated Craig Biggio would get in. This isn’t something which Nate Silver could predict – the individual writers are occasionally quite private with their votes – and quite crusty about it. There have been publicly revealed ballots however – and you can follow along with the BBHoF Tracker and with the Baseball Think Factory 2015 Ballot Collecting Gizmo!

Having said that, by looking at the BBHoFTracker spreadsheet, we can notice some interesting trends right off the bat:

  • Already, we can tell that somebody didn’t vote for Pedro and the Big Unit, so there will be no unanimous candidates on this ballot. (Mike Berardino’s explanation was that Alan Trammell and Larry Walker needed more help than the aforementioned pitchers did – this is a reasonable explanation that is both an indicator of how impossible it is to be elected unanimously and of how clogged the ballot is. There’s so little margin for voting that worthy names get left off. Tell me how that’s fair.)

  • Speaking to the silliness of the voting limit, there’s already been two abstentions, including the venerable Buster Olney, as a protest of the voting limits. There’s a proposition before the Hall of Fame to expand the limit to twelve…but they won’t vote on that until after this election. Sorry, Walker and Trammell.
  • The ten-year limit seems to be working. Biggio and Bagwell haven’t gained a lot of votes…but Biggio only needed to gain a net of two votes to get in, based on last year’s voting totals. Meanwhile, Tim Raines, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, and Mike Mussina have all gained a lot of votes. Schilling’s already gained almost 25% points relative to last year’s voting. Raines is trending in the 60% range. Both of these are trends to keep an eye on – if Raines can hold in the 60’s, he has an extremely good chance of being inducted next year…though don’t hold your breath.
  • Bonds and Clemens have jumped into the 40% range. Don’t hold your breath there, either. One gets the feeling that many of the withheld ballots will be from the older generation who feels that the two diluted the game.
  • If the percentages held right now across the board, there would be five inducted candidates – Johnson, Pedro, Smoltz, Biggio, and Piazza. Smoltz is trending better earlier than I thought he would – I guess 14 division titles does that for you. I don’t think Piazza will hold over…but then again, I’ve been wrong before. If all five make it, it would certainly make for an interesting induction day indeed.

My final call, based on this early round of voting, is that Johnson and Pedro definitely make it, Smoltz and Biggio scrape in, and Piazza falls into the low 70% range. In the 60% range, you’ll find Bagwell and Raines, with Schilling coming in around 50% of the vote. This would lead to a forecast of next year’s (the 2016 ballot) inductees probably including Ken Griffey Jr. (because duh), Piazza, and either Raines or Bagwell. But that’s for next month’s/year’s columns.

And now, my vote – with an explanation:

  • The IBWAA vote is symbolic, but means a lot to us – we’re baseball writers too, and there’s a lot of great, unvalidated writing on the Internet. Plus, there’s validity based on some of the names of the members – Jonah Keri, Jim Kaple, Joe Posnanski, etc.
  • Last year, we voted to increase our ballot voting limit to 15. Because of this, I voted for 13 candidates. (I’m a bit of a hack. I’ll explain below.)
  • Last year, Craig Biggio was “elected” by our group. The year before, Piazza made it. Before that, Barry Larkin was NOT elected. So I get to vote for Barry Larkin into eternity, whilst I can’t vote for Piazza or Biggio…again. Otherwise, the ballots are mirror images of each other.

Because of the prior two columns being so long, I won’t go into too much detail about my decisions. You can draw your own conclusions.

My votes this year went to: Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Pedro Martinez, Mike Mussina, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, John Smoltz, Alan Trammell, and Larry Walker.

Notes:

  • I didn’t vote for Fred McGriff this year. Largely because I didn’t feel like I could justify it given some of the other names I didn’t vote for, but I’ve also started coming around to the feeling that he might not be a Hall of Famer after all. Something about seeing Brian Giles and Carlos Delgado on the same ballot…maybe next year.
  • I did vote for Bonds and Clemens. I don’t care what you throw at me – they’re Hall of Famers.
  • I didn’t vote for McGwire or Sosa. McGwire might be the best pure home run hitter of all time…but I’ve been swayed by arguments against him. Maybe next year if there’s an outcry. As for Sosa, his case breaks my heart. My lack of vote here was purely symbolic in the hopes that he’ll fall off the actual ballot and can stop being dragged up every year as a god damn pariah of the Steroid Era.
  • Every other vote I made ought to speak for itself. They’re all Hall of Famers in my mind, and hopefully all of them will get inducted at some point in the near future. I feel hopeful for pretty much everyone on that list except for Edgar, Larry Walker, and Trammell – but never say never.

This brings to a conclusion my breakdown of the 2015 Hall of Fame ballot. As with last year, I’ll write up my thoughts the day after the results are announced on January 6th – and right now, it looks like there will be a lot of things to talk about. Hopefully, the trends will continue, and we’ll be looking at one of the largest Hall of Fame classes we’ve seen in years.

But don’t hold your breath.

 

Travis J. Cook

Travis J. Cook

Travis J. Cook is the Editor-in-Chief and one of the original founders of the Addison Recorder. He writes about baseball, movies, and music, among other topics. He resides in a hole in the ground near Wrigley Field.

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