Breaking Down the 2016 Hall of Fame Ballot, Part 3: The Voting

Image of Mike Piazza

I’ve taken a look at the Holdovers on the Ballot. I’ve looked at the Newcomers. And now it comes time to take a look both at my predictions for the final vote as well as my ballot for the IBWAA (the Internet Baseball Writers of America).

First, a shout out to Ryan Thibodeaux (Ryan Thibs) of the BBHOFTracker. His reporting, collecting, and tabulation of public ballots has proven invaluable for countless Hall of Fame writers on the Internet, in terms of gauging what it is that we’re looking at. Without that information, this whole exercise would be a massively speculative piece that wouldn’t have any actual information to report until after the election on January 6th. Thanks to this beautiful spreadsheet, though, Hall of Fame junkies like myself can fuel our addictions and gain insight as to what we’re looking at. So, while I’m probably the 500th person to say thank you, I’d just like to say Thank You Mr. Thibs.

And now, onto my insights…

  • That tabulation of 450 estimated votes seems to be a fairly stable number. When the ballots were mailed out, only 475 were sent. That’s down from 625+ in recent years. This may or may not affect the percentages of the final vote, skewing them higher than in years past. It’s hard to say, with only 31.3% tabulated as of this writing at 1:05 pm on Sunday. Nevertheless, 141 total votes is a fairly decent sample size with which to work with, and so I feel more comfortable projecting who gets in at this point than I did in the previous weeks when I was working with about half of that total.
  • Currently, Ken Griffey Jr. has received 141 votes out of 141. That percentage cannot/will not hold, if past voting records are any indication at all – a decent number of voters will still be sending in blank protest votes, in spite of the Hall’s crack down. Nevertheless, for Griffey to be elected, he would need at minimum 63.8% of remaining voters to vote for him. I feel confident in projecting his election – and furthermore, I feel comfortable giving him a Top 10 highest election percentage of all time. He might even challenge Tom Seaver for the all-time percentage high.
  • The only other candidate needing less than 70% of the remaining electorate to vote for him is Mike Piazza, who needs 69.6% of voters to vote for him. He’s gained 7 votes this year and is currently polling at 87.2%, a net gain of 12.1% on public ballots so far. If that 12% holds true on private ballots, he’d be at 74% of those ballots, and his momentum should make that hold solid. Even at a minimum of a 7-10% gain, he should gain election somewhere in the mid-80’s.
  • The other close candidates who are currently over the line are Jeff Bagwell (81.6%) and Tim Raines (80.1%). Here’s where the perils of early reporting come in to play – writers who vote early and reveal their ballots publicly are often those who favor a large hall, and are inclined to vote for 8 to 10 candidates at a time. This skews early percentages towards those borderline cases like Raines and Bagwell. (Note: they’re not borderline in terms of HOF-worthiness – they are – but in how likely they are to get elected) So, while they’re currently trending high, I don’t expect either to hold strong.
  • Bagwell has gained 19 votes this year, which is interesting to watch. His percentages have been inching upward, and if this holds strong, he should finish somewhere in the high 60’s, with a chance to pull into the low 70’s. With similar momentum and a fairly weak slate of newcomers next year, he should gain election next year. Then again, he could hold steady at 81% and gain election with something like 77% of the votes. If so, awesome.
  • Raines has gained only 11 net votes – again, early voters tend to be more favorable towards Raines, while later voters seem to be wary of his career. (Which is a shame, yo.) If similar gains hold true, Raines should wind up somewhere in the mid-60’s, with a borderline chance to gain election in 2017. I don’t think he gets in this year, and that 2017 prediction is a long stretch of ground to make up. I’m all in favor of the Rock getting in, but will be holding my breath until January 6th, at which point we should have a better estimation of him getting in.
  • The candidates who have gained the most votes are Mike Mussina and Edgar Martinez, with 23 net votes apiece. Mussina’s jump is somewhat surprising, as he only polled at 24.6% last year – he’s currently at 56% of the votes. That number should drop into the mid-30’s, as there doesn’t seem to be much private support for one of the best pitchers of the 2000’s on the ballot. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him jump into the 40’s this year. If he does, that makes him a candidate to watch.
  • E-Mart is another one to watch. With Frank Thomas having been elected, it’s possible that voters are coming around to one of the best pure hitters of the past few decades – he’s polling at 48% so far, and I expect that number to hold into the high 30’s, a number he’s achieved in the past. If he and Mussina can hold this momentum, I wouldn’t see a push for both candidates to make big jumps in 2017, with election in 2018/2019 not an unforseen possibility. (Jesus God, I will be on the verge of turning 30 for the next election process. Life is unfair.)
  • Curt Schilling is polling at 60% of the vote so far, though with only 6 votes gained. His recent tendency to be…well, Curt Schilling…has put a damper on his gaining votes – only 85% of new voters are voting for him as opposed to 100% for Mussina, Bagwell, and Raines. Little slips like that make his election case harder to swallow. I still predict him polling in the mid to high 40’s this year, though, and he’s far from a long shot.
  • Among newcomers, Trevor Hoffman is holding steady at 62.4% of the vote. He’ll not get in this year, and I predict him polling at around 55% this year, which is a good start. Relievers tend to build support over time (Gossage, Sutter) unless they’re all-time greats (see Rivera, Mariano in a few years), and he’ll get in eventually.
  • Bonds and Clemens have gained 9 and 7 votes, respectively. I believe both will break 40% this year, if only barely.
  • Candidates in danger of falling off are: Sammy Sosa, Gary Sheffield, Larry Walker, Jeff Kent (he only needs 2 more, and I feel like he’ll get those votes), and Nomar. Of that bunch, I feel like Walker and Kent will wind up safe, while I’m less hopeful for Sosa and Sheffield. Nomar is as good as gone.
  • Other polling newcomers are Billy Wagner, who needs a minimum of 9 votes to stay on, and Jim Edmonds, who needs…well, he’s probably going the way of Kenny Lofton and falling off. Which is a shame, as there’s been a dearth of center fielders elected in recent years. Hopefully, the Veterans Committee revamps their process and starts voting in the Loftons, Whitakers, Morris’s, etc. of the world.
  • Lastly, Alan Trammell and Lee Smith have gained several down-ballot votes, but are well short of percentages, as is Mark McGwire. Trammell and McGwire are done after this year, and Lee Smith has one year left of low-ballot torture.
  • Notable voters abstaining in protest of the 10-candidate ballot limit include Buster Olney once again – the Hall will need to rectify this at some point, as the ballot is cluttered cluttered cluttered.

Image of Ken Griffey Jr.

Having gone through all of the current votes, I feel more comfortable making percentage predictions. After analyzing voting trends, I predict the following voting percentages:

  • Ken Griffey Jr. – 98.5% (elected)
  • Mike Piazzza – 78% (elected)
  • Jeff Bagwell – 71% (misses the cut)
  • Tim Raines – 67%
  • Trevor Hoffman – 55%
  • Curt Schilling – 48%
  • Barry Bonds – 41%
  • Roger Clemens – 40%
  • Mike Mussina – 38%
  • Edgar Martinez – 36%
  • Alan Trammel – 35%
  • Lee Smith – 30%
  • Jeff Kent – 15%
  • Fred McGriff – 15%
  • Larry Walker – 10%
  • Billy Wagner – 7%

As always, my predictions are highly accurate and should be trusted against all odds due to their great scientific validity.

Meanwhile, I voted again for the IBWAA vote – a largely symbolic vote, but one that I hold dear and consider with great importance each year. A few notes:

  • We’re allowed to vote for up to 15 candidates.
  • We’re Internet writers, which means we’re more likely to consider multiple aspects of a career and less prone to Steroids-esque blowharding. Yes, I invented the word blowharding. Deal.
  • The IBWAA has already elected Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, and Tim Raines to “our” hall, so my votes are…well, skewed.

This year, I voted for Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds, Rogers Clemens, Trevor Hoffman, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Alan Trammell, Larry Walker, and Billy Wagner.

I believe that Clemens and Bonds were Hall of Famers both before and after their PED use (suspected or real), and I voted for McGriff this year after abstaining last year (more room to vote). I had four other votes to use, but didn’t see anyone else as particularly worthy. In hindsight, I regret not voting for Edmonds, but otherwise, I feel solid. Next year, I might just throw out some votes to those players I feel deserving of some recognition. We’ll see. Check back in 2017.

For now, though, we wait with bated breath for the results, which will be announced on January 6th. Stay posted.

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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