I originally started this last night. I still have memories of last year’s announcement, when nobody got in on a ballot that was absolutely STACKED with candidates. I knew that this year would be different, but that did nothing to quiet the suspicions I had gnawing away in my gut, the suspicions that the BBWAA just didn’t get it. That they wouldn’t agree on one person, let alone three or four. That someone like poor Frank Thomas would be sitting on the outside looking in because 25% + of writers disagreed on the DH as a position of merit. (For the record, I loathe the rule, but it exists, and there are undoubtedly players who excel in that role. See: Ortiz, David.)
Consequently, when I began this draft, I was only able to write the bare bones outlines of four optional drafts. For posterity’s sake, I’ve included them below:
Holy balls, four people got in.
Cool, three people are in.
Meh, only two? At least it’s Maddux and…dear god, I hope the writers aren’t morons.
After today’s results, I’m pleased to announce that this piece is sub-titled (I hope you’re happy, Alex):
Ten Thoughts on the Hall of Fame Ballot from this year:
The 2014 ballot featured 36 candidates, with 17 returnees and 19 newcomers.
|Player (Years on ballot)||Total Votes||Percentage|
|Greg Maddux (1)||555||97.2|
|Tom Glavine (1)||525||91.9|
|Frank Thomas (1)||478||83.7|
|Craig Biggio (2)||427||74.8|
|Mike Piazza (2)||355||62.2|
|Jack Morris (15)||351||61.5|
|Jeff Bagwell (4)||310||54.3|
|Tim Raines (7)||263||46.1|
|Roger Clemens (2)||202||35.4|
|Barry Bonds (2)||198||34.7|
|Lee Smith (12)||171||29.9|
|Curt Schilling (2)||167||29.2|
|Edgar Martinez (5)||144||25.2|
|Alan Trammell (13)||119||20.8|
|Mike Mussina (1)||116||20.3|
|Jeff Kent (1)||87||15.2|
|Fred McGriff (8)||67||11.7|
|Mark McGwire (8)||63||11.0|
|Larry Walker (4)||58||10.2|
|Don Mattingly (14)||47||8.2|
|Sammy Sosa (2)||41||7.2|
|Rafael Palmeiro (4)||25||4.4|
|Moises Alou (1)||6||1.1|
|Hideo Nomo (1)||6||1.1|
|Luis Gonzalez (1)||5||0.9|
|Eric Gagne (1)||2||0.4|
|J.T. Snow (1)||2||0.4|
|Armando Benitez (1)||1||0.2|
|Jacque Jones (1)||1||0.2|
|Kenny Rogers (1)||1||0.2|
|Sean Casey (1)||0||0.0|
|Ray Durham (1)||0||0.0|
|Todd Jones (1)||0||0.0|
|Paul Lo Duca (1)||0||0.0|
|Richie Sexson (1)||0||0.0|
|Mike Timlin (1)||0||0.0|
- Congratulations to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas on their election to the Hall of Fame. They constitute one of the greatest classes of elected players in the history of the game, and join a select group of individuals who were elected on their first ballots. Especially glad that Maddux and Glavine will be joining Bobby Cox onstage in Cooperstown. That Braves dynasty will be well represented in coming years, as John Smoltz and Chipper Jones slowly join the club.
- While Maddux wasn’t unanimous (and let’s face it, Jesus wouldn’t get elected unanimously by the writers), he still has one of the top 10 voting percentages of all time. That’s no small change for one of the five greatest right-handed pitchers of all time. It was also fun listening to the MLB broadcast of the interview between Smoltz and Maddux, and hearing “Smoltzy” and “Doggie” banter back and forth. Also, there was a shining example of Maddux’s otherworldly memory. Harold Reynolds talked about a spring training batting practice session from the 90’s, where Maddux hit Reynolds with a pitch. Maddux immediately laughed and said “Yeah, on the kneecap, wasn’t it?” His powers of memory are intense. I’m fairly certain that in an alternate universe, Maddux is a 10-time Jeopardy champion and a astrophysicist who discovers light-speed space travel. Fortunately, we get him to be a dominant starting pitcher here. Congrats to Mad Dog Maddux.
- I don’t know what kind of afterlife I believe in, or if I even do. What I do know is that my mom is smiling down from above/below/everywhere, knowing that Tommy Glavine made the Hall of Fame. Glavine and Smoltz would occasionally be glossed over in the shadows of Maddux, but they were absolutely brilliant pitchers in their own right. I still remember Glavine’s one hit, eight inning shut-out of the Cleveland Indians in Game 6 of the 1995 World Series. That, to me, is a prime example of a dominant pitcher playing his best game on the most important stage. The only games I’ve seen that rival that one in sheer magnitude are Game 7 of the 2001 World Series (Clemens vs. Schilling) and the Bloody Sock Game of the 2004 ALCS (Game 6, for those keeping track). Glavine was a soft-spoken lefty with a brutal change-up who complemented Maddux in every respects. Wins are an overrated counting statistic, but it still takes a certain kind of gumption, fortitude, longevity, and ability to reach 300 of them in this day and age. Glavine did that. It is no mistake. Congrats to Tom Glavine.
- The Big Hurt, as I’ve mentioned before, always scared me as a kid. This wasn’t some kind of intimidation factor, where he’s bigger than me, stronger, meaner. This was downright, balls to the wall, sheer terror that he inspired in me. It was as though he was a God Damn Werewolf. “Now, Travis, be good, or the Big Hurt’s gonna get ya, tear out your throat, hit it 500 feet, and go 2-4 with a walk in tomorrow’s game.” Even in the Instagram of him celebrating his election, he looks scary. (Maybe that’s just me) Either way, he’s an incredibly nice guy, judging by his interview, and seemed the most jubilant of the three electees over the news. He was only on the phone, but it was impossible to mistake the smile on his face. He knows what this means. What’s more, he was possibly the biggest voice on the player’s side for testing for PEDs. Anyone wants to start a steroid discussion on who belongs, it starts with Thomas getting in. Congrats to the Big Hurt. (Now, please don’t hurt me)
- Immense pain for Craig Biggio. I don’t know how good at math everyone is, but I’ll put it bluntly: he missed the Hall vote by two. Two.<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>So Murray Chass says Biggio took steroids, one of his buddies believes him, and that keeps Biggio out. Despicable.</p>— Tyler Kepner (@TylerKepner) <a href=”https://twitter.com/TylerKepner/statuses/420997923191549952″>January 8, 2014</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>That’s just…ugh.
He’ll definitely go in next year with somewhere around 80%, but he should be in this year. That way, not only does he get an extra year of his life to call himself a Hall of Famer, but it helps to clear the ballot for additional candidates in years to come. This just pushes back election for somebody deserving like Jeff Bagwell or Tim Raines another year. Not a good trend.
- Speaking of trends, two players increased their percentages this year, those being Biggio (jump of 6.6%) and Mike Piazza (jump of 4.4%). Biggio will go in next year with Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez (and hopefully Smoltz, but more on that in a second), while Piazza will probably have to wait two more years. (Although the IWBAA has already elected him, which has to count for something!
- Meanwhile, every other player on the ballot dropped in their voting percentages. This ranges from relatively slight drops, such as Bagwell (-5.3%) and Raines (-6.1%) to massive drops, such as Alan Trammell (-12.8%) and Lee Smith (-17.9%!). This is a by-product of an over-crowded ballot with as many as 15 to 19 viable choices for Hall of Fame selection; it’s just impossible to vote for everybody. On the other hand, blank ballots count against players as well. Let’s not get into the ballot of Ken Gurnick, who voted for Morris and then refused to vote for any other player who played in the PED era. (Note: While I originally thought this was a certain amount of attention-seeking on his part, I’ve been told by people who actually know Mr. Gurnick that he is anything but that type of person. Consequently, I’ve retracted my original statements and apologize for that slight. That being said, I still disagree with his reasoning and with his actions.) In an election where two votes literally cost somebody election, submitting a blank ballot or poorly-reasoned protest ballots of that nature just strike me as an insult to the process.
- Speaking of insults to the process, Deadspin.com acquired a ballot from a writer this year. They then turned it over to their readers to vote for entries on the ballot, with the Top-10 gaining entry. Never mind that their selections were pretty much on par with the actual voting results (they voted for Biggio!), there’s something mildly shady about the idea of a private ballot being handed out irresponsibly. When it was revealed to be Dan LeBatard of ESPN fame, I was mildly surprised. I’ve always liked LeBatard’s work, and most likely will continue to like him into the future. His reasoning can be found here, and after reading it over, there’s not much I can fault in his reasoning – it’s the act that offends. I don’t know, I’m honestly still forming an opinion about this, but wanted to be timely. What can be said for this is that a system where LeBatard and Gurnick’s actions can happen on the same ballot, affecting votes in this manner, is a system that needs to have a second look taken at it. I can’t speak towards what changes might need to be made, although I’m a HUGE supporter of expanding the list of candidates to be voted on from 10 to 15; expansion, larger rosters, and a multitude of players means more people deserving of votes than slots exist. This is something that 50% of the BBWAA agrees on, and I think it would be a start. Discounting blank ballots might be another way to go, but writers do need a way to voice their protest of candidates; also, such an action would not prevent future writers from selecting their candidates and boycotting everyone else. Whatever happens, you’ll hear about it here – I guarantee you that I will have something to say.
- Now comes the part where we talk about the Steroid Era candidates. (Which Biggio SHOULD NOT BE LUMPED INTO, MURRAY CHASE. JESUS FLIPPING CHRIST.) For posterity’s sake, we’re talking about Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Rafael Palmeiro, though many would lump Bagwell and Piazza into that crowd as well. Bagwell dropped in percentage this year, though I still believe he gets in after two or three more ballots. Piazza has been spoken for. Palmeiro dropped off the ballot this year, losing 4.4% to fall beneath the magic threshold of 5%. Sosa, who dropped 5.3%, may fall off next year. McGwire continues to lose supporters, falling 5.9% to 11.0%. He’s in danger of being phased out, though I don’t think he’s as likely to fall off as Sosa (coming clean seems to have done a small bit of wonder for him). The real interests are Bonds and Clemens, both of whom yours truly voted for in the IWBAA election. Both lost support (Clemens losing 2.2%, Bonds losing 1.5%), which is not promising as far as their long term elections go. Barring a fundamental shift in the thinking of the writers in the next two years, the prospects of their being elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA are at almost nil right now. There’s simply too much vitriol out there in the media, a form of almost self-reflexive shame that’s helping to clog up the ballot. As these candidates drop off, it should help to bring a tiny bit of clarity to who can and should be voted for; with Bonds and Clemens around for years to come, that clarity just got reduced by a factor of two.
- Final thoughts, rundown style:
- Condolences to Jack Morris for falling off the ballot. There’s just too much sabermetrically inclined data in the hands of the writers for him to make a push for enshrinement by the writers. However, he’s now in the hands of the Veteran’s Committee, who will hopefully have the taste to vote both him and Lou Whitaker in at the same time – as Whitaker argues, without him and Trammell, there’s no case for Morris.
- Very discouraging to see Curt Schilling, Edgar Martinez, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell, Fred McGriff, and Larry Walker lose ample amounts of support. The changes for Smith and Trammell stand as about 0.1% for enshrinement, while McGriff and Walker are in danger of falling off the ballot all together.
- The two first year candidates who will remain are Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent. Mussina looks like he’s in for a long haul to reach the 75% threshold, while Kent’s initial appearance gives him an even longer, tougher road. Hopefully, as the ballot thins out, their candidacies will grow stronger.
- Now we get into the random ass votes for players.AKA, if two of these votes had been for Biggio, there’d be four Hall of Famers today instead of three. That being said, it’s always a nice honor to get ONE vote, as I’ll explain shortly.
- To start, good for Moises Alou and Hideo Nomo for getting consideration, the former as a talented outfielder, the latter as a pioneer for Japanese players in the majors. Alou might have deserved more consideration, but there was just no room for it.
- Also, good for Luis Gonzalez for getting five votes. Like Alou, he’s
- Two people voted for Eric Gagne, identified steroid user. Moving beyond that, all he has going for his case is the consecutive save record and one Cy Young that should have gone to…well, anybody else.
- Two people voted for J.T. Snow. My snarkiness can only assume those were Dusty and Darren Baker, who owe him what my people would call “a life debt”. #StarWars #2002 #Nerd
- Who in the bloody hell voted for Armando Benitez?
- Kenny Rogers, I can get behind getting one vote. But Benitez? Seriously?
- Lastly, Jacque Jones, the Plain Jane of the ballot, got one vote. He’s my Aaron Sele of this year’s candidates, and he knows it. Look at his tweets. (I’ll wait for you)
That says it all. Remember, at the end of the day, that even getting ONE vote for the Hall of Fame is an honor. 27 players received that honor this year, out of 36. Even fewer go on to the Hall. Today, the Hall got a little bit richer and a little bit more special.
- Looking forward to next year’s ballot, candidates include the Big Unit, Pedro, Smoltz, Gary Sheffield, Nomar Garciaparra, Carlos Delgado, and the immortal Brian Giles. Not getting any easier for voters.
- Final Thoughts: In his interview, Thomas made note of his Georgia heritage. Counting Maddux, Glavine, and Bobby Cox, the state will be fairly well represented come July 27th in Cooperstown.
That brings an end to the Hall of Fame voting season. With this in mind, I’ll have you know that pitchers and catchers report in less than two months.
See you then. Can’t wait.