Posted January 09, 2013

Hall of Fame voters pitch a shutout and ballot will only get more crowded

Hall of Fame, JAWS
Seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens failed to crack 40 percent in his first year on the ballot. (John Iacono/SI)

Seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens failed to crack 40 percent in his first year on the ballot. (John Iacono/SI)

The votes have been counted, and the result is a shutout. At 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson announced that none of the 37 candidates on the 2013 BBWAA ballot had received the 75 percent of the vote necessary for election to Cooperstown, with Craig Biggio’s 68.2 percent leading the field but still 39 votes short. Four other candidates — Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza and Tim Raines — received more than 50 percent, led by Morris with 67.7.

This is the first time the writers have pitched a shutout since 1996 (the last time the ballot had this many candidates) and the second since 1971, though they were much more common in the 1950s and 1960s. Despite assertions to the contrary, the world won’t end, and while a flood of worthy new candidates will hit the ballot in 2014, making it even harder for anyone to reach the threshold necessary for election, we can at least look forward to some writers dropping their first-ballot resistance to worthy 2013 newcomers, and others mothballing their fainting couches over the number of players connected to performance-enhancing drugs.

A few quick and somewhat scattered thoughts on the results:

1. Mr. 3,000: Biggio is just the second player to reach 3,000 hits since the end of World War II and not gain first-ballot entry, the other being Rafael Palmeiro, who failed a drug test and has now gone three cycles without being elected; (Career hits leader Pete Rose was banned for life due to gambling before he became eligible to receive votes.) With the ballot more crowded next year, Biggio won’t be an automatic entry, but some of the resistance-for-the-sake-of-resistance against his candidacy should drop. Of the five players who received between 65 and 74.9 percent in their first year of eligibility since the Hall went back to annual voting in 1966, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Carlton Fisk and Roberto Alomar went in on the second ballot, and Gaylord Perry on the third.

2. The not-so-inevitable: Morris isn’t an automatic for 2014 either. He gained just one percentage point over last year, and will need to find 42 more votes while being pitted head-to-head with other strong candidates among former pitchers like holdovers Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling and 300-win newcomers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, and another Schilling-like (high strikeout total, non-300 win) candidate in Mike Mussina. Jim Rice went in on his 15th try in 2009, but he only had to climb from 72.2 percent, and first-ballot entry Rickey Henderson was the only newcomer who even received five percent of the vote that year.

3. The black sheep: Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds received less support among those who didn’t publish their ballots than the straw polls — which had them around 45 percent — would have suggested, finishing at 37.6 percent and 36.2 percent, respectively. That rebuke will be painted by some as the definitive defeat of PED-tinged candidates, but again, there’s a first-ballot bias to bear in mind, and many of the voters who went against those two left the door open to reconsider their candidacies in the future. Meanwhile it’s worth noting that in modern voting history, 10 previous candidates have debuted with between 30 and 40 percent of the vote, with Rich Gossage, Eddie Mathews and Lou Boudreau eventually elected by the writers, Enos Slaughter, Pee Wee Reese and Jim Bunning going in via the Veterans Committee, and Edgar Martinez, Maury Wills, Al Lopez and Luis Tiant failing to gain entry at all. Clemens and Bonds have definitively stronger statistical cases than any of those 10, so I suspect they’ll gain entry, but the timeline is going to be longer than I previously estimated — perhaps until the end of the decade.

4. Just say no: Mark McGwire (16.9 percent), Sammy Sosa (12.5 percent) and Rafael Palmeiro (8.8 percent) may fall off the ballot before resistance to PED-related candidates softens enough. McGwire is now seven years into his candidacy, and his share of the vote has fallen in each of the past three years since he admitted to using steroids. Sosa’s first-year share looks a lot like that of Palmeiro two years ago (11.0 percent) despite having not officially failed a drug test (he reportedly failed the supposedly anonymous 2003 survey test). Palmeiro, who fell from 12.6 percent last year, may well fall below 5.0 percent next year. Based on voting share alone (not on the PED allegations), history suggests that at best, he’ll be a Veterans Committee selection.

5. Top newcomers: Mike Piazza made a strong debut at 57.8 percent, though perhaps not as strong as initially anticipated. Modern voting history suggests he’ll get in via the BBWAA vote, though it could take as long as five years to build enough support. Schilling’s 38.8 percent puts him in the Clemens/Bonds camp with regards to historical voting trends for similar debuts. Though he has no known PED connections, he may suffer in comparison to the coming flood of pitchers, which include not only Maddux, Glavine and Mussina in 2014 but also Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz in 2015.

6. Top holdovers: Bagwell gained a bit of ground in his third year of eligibility, going from 56.0 percent to 59.6 percent, suggesting he too will gain entry via the writers within a few years. Raines, in his sixth year of eligibility, crossed the 50 percent threshold, climbing from 48.7 percent to 52.2 percent, making his eventual induction a likelihood. Among the candidates to receive at least 50 percent at any point in the BBWAA process, only Morris, Bagwell, Lee Smith and Gil Hodges have failed to gain entry either via the writers or the Veterans Committee, and all but Hodges still have a fighting chance, as they remain on the ballot.

7. Lesser holdovers: Smith (47.8 percent), Edgar Martinez (35.9 percent), Alan Trammell (33.6 percent), Larry Walker (21.6 percent), Fred McGriff (20.7 percent) and Don Mattingly (13.2 percent) all fell back a few points relative to last year, with Smith slipping under 50 percent after crossing it for the first time in 2012, his 10th on the ballot. At best, these players can hope for Bert Blyleven-like builds to eventual election, but it’s getting late for Trammell, and it’s almost certainly out of the question for Mattingly

8. A fond farewell: Holdovers Dale Murphy and Bernie Williams fell off the ballot, as did 18 of this year’s 24 newcomers. In his 15th and his final year of eligibility, Murphy received just 18.6 percent of the vote, his highest share since 2000 but just a four-point gain over last year despite the additional publicity. In his second year of eligibility, Williams dropped from 9.6 percent to 3.3 percent, below the 5.0 percent needed to remain under consideration. Eleven of the 24 newcomers received no votes, five others (Julio Franco, David Wells, Steve Finley, Shawn Green and Aaron Sele) received between one and six votes, with only Sandy Alomar Jr. (16 votes, 2.8 percent) and Kenny Lofton (18, 3.2 percent) rising above that significantly among the group. Lofton, a candidate who via JAWS ranks among the top 10 centerfielders in history, deserved better. While his JAWS is a bit below the Hall average at the position, it’s still above the median, but alas, he’s been lost in the flood of more popular candidates, and now joins Bobby Grich, Lou Whitaker and Ted Simmons among the bigger one-and-done travesties.

FULL RESULTS

Name Votes (Pct.) Yrs on ballot
Craig Biggio 388 (68.2%) 1
Jack Morris 385 (67.7%) 14
Jeff Bagwell 339 (59.6%) 3
Mike Piazza 329 (57.8%) 1
Tim Raines 297 (52.2%) 6
Lee Smith 272 (47.8%) 11
Curt Schilling 221 (38.8%) 1
Roger Clemens 214 (37.6%) 1
Barry Bonds 206 (36.2%) 1
Edgar Martinez 204 (35.9%) 4
Alan Trammell 191 (33.6%) 12
Larry Walker 123 (21.6%) 3
Fred McGriff 118 (20.7%) 4
Dale Murphy 106 (18.6%) 15
Mark McGwire 96 (16.9%) 7
Don Mattingly 75 (13.2%) 13
Sammy Sosa 71 (12.5%) 1
Rafael Palmeiro 50 (8.8%) 3
Bernie Williams 19 (3.3%) 2
Kenny Lofton 18 (3.2%) 1
Sandy Alomar Jr. 16 (2.8%) 1
Julio Franco 6 (1.1%) 1
David Wells 5 (0.9%) 1
Steve Finley 4 (0.7%) 1
Shawn Green 2 (0.4%) 1
Aaron Sele 1 (0.2%) 1
Jeff Cirillo 0 (0%) 1
Royce Clayton 0 (0%) 1
Jeff Conine 0 (0%) 1
Roberto Hernandez 0 (0%) 1
Ryan Klesko 0 (0%) 1
Jose Mesa 0 (0%) 1
Reggie Sanders 0 (0%) 1
Mike Stanton 0 (0%) 1
Todd Walker 0 (0%) 1
Rondell White 0 (0%) 1
Woody Williams 0 (0%) 1
23 comments
tracejuno
tracejuno

One question: Had Edgar Martinez played terribly at third for five years and then even worse at first for another ten, would more people vote for him? He's the best DH of all time, he should get more votes!

doncoffin
doncoffin

One thing no one has commented on (or, perhaps, that I have not seen commented on) is that the Directors of the Hall of Fame have been silent through all of this. They define the electorate.  They define the criteria.  They could say, "We're going to reconsider who is eligible to vote on Hall of Fame membership.  Restricting it to 10-year members of the BBWA no longer makes sense."  They could say, "We have sifted the evidence and have concluded that Players A, B, C,...will be omitted from the list of players eligible for election to the Hall of Fame."  They have done neither of these things.  Someone want to discuss that at as much length as we seem to want to discuss the shortcomings of the voters?

MattBugaj
MattBugaj

I'll reiterate that Kenny Lofton was on my never-again-visit-Cooperstown list if he got in, so I'm glad for that.  JAWS is seriously flawed if it paints him with such a pretty brush.  It's clear that Sosa owes almost all of his success to the drugs.  Palmeiro, despite nabbing two golden numbers, was not revered in his time and was not a winning player, so it's more than the late-career drugs that are keeping him out.  McGwire was a maybe but not a no-doubt HOFer whose PED use obviously bumped him down a bit from the margin where he would have otherwise been teetering.  Glad Dale Murphy's gone so I never have to hear about his HOF candidacy again, as the veterans committee is a joke and no one really debates it anyway.

JohnG1
JohnG1

Again, stop comparing Clemens and Bonds to other guys who debuted in the 30s. They have nothing, and I mean *nothing* in common with those guys. You're right that they have better statistical cases than any of those guys. They also have PED connections that those guys didn't have. They're not getting in any time soon if ever. I would guess that it will be at least 10 years before they get in, and I wouldn't be shocked if they never get in. If will be interesting to see where they end up next year, since there will probably be some voters who will vote for them on the second ballot after sending a pointless message on the first. But I don't think they're going to get *that* much of a jump. Roberto Alomar was punished for that incident with the umpire, and he got a 17 percent jump in his second year. But I think people feel a lot more strongly about PEDs than one bad decision. I'd be shocked if Bonds and Clemens get to even 50 percent next year, and I'd guess they'll get around 45 percent. But at that point, all the protest votes are out of the way, and an additional 30 percent would have to change their minds and/or get replaced. I know some of the current voters won't be around in 15 years, but I'm guessing most of them will. At gunpoint, I'd guess Bonds and Clemens get in, but not until their final few years on the ballot.

Terry10
Terry10

The Hall is a joke. It is an old boy elitist few that cast ballots on some of the best ballplayers ever. Why are they limited to so few elections every year???? Why can't more be elected in a given year if they are worthy. No wonder sports sucks and is for the rich!!!!! Get real people. Exclude the PED (proven / admitted users) but let they quality players in. Retire the old timers with voting rites and get some fresh thinking people in.

Dustin Madlung
Dustin Madlung

I wonder how many people that are already in the hall were cheats? People have been cheating forever, just before it was harder to discover and didn't have media like we do now.

seahawks/lakers/sfgiants
seahawks/lakers/sfgiants

What a travesty...No Dale Murphy in the HOF. These voters must be politicians in their day jobs....

Jack15
Jack15

This is exactly as it should be. This year's crew is nothing but a bunch of drug-infested liars who destroyed the credibility of the game, and now they -- and their whiny fans -- are crying like little babies. Guess what? It's called accountability. Today, they are being held accountable and there's NOTHING they can do about it, hence the whining and crying.

 

McGuire? He can't talk about "the future, not the past" and smugly smile. No HoF for you McGuire. Now YOU are being forced to listen.

Sosa? He's a joke. No HoF for you Sammy. Suck it up.

Bonds? How's it feel to be powerless Barry? All your smugness doesn't help now does it, as you're being FORCED to listen. No HoF for you Barry. Let's see you walk that one off.

 

And on and on.

 

These smug SOB's are not laughing about how they got away with it anymore, are they. All the while they skirted the rules, the law, and chuckled to themselves. High-fiving each other as they kept getting away with it.

 

Not any more. Hurts, doesn't it? Too bad. Your legacies are all tarnished now, and we're going to KEEP it that way until you show the proper contrition. Public contrition and admission. It's the only way we'll ever let you smug punks in. Your choice.

1234568990
1234568990

They should create another club and call this one the Hall of Shame!

pol6ca2
pol6ca2

I think the BBWA voters have to put in 10 names. Rather than vote for the PED players they burn votes on the Seles of the world.

modsuperstar
modsuperstar

Really, who would actually think Aaron Sele is a Hall Of Fame pitcher? Is his Mom a HoF voter? He had 148 wins and a career 4.61 ERA.

Michael10
Michael10

Yep...they voted for Piazza who was basically a DH that squatted behind the plate.

Michael10
Michael10

There's no need to panic.  It's happened twice in the last 42 years -- and with Maddux, Thomas, Glavine, Mussina, Johnson, Pedro, Smoltz, Griffey, Rodriguez, Chipper, and probably Rivera and Thome coming up in the next six years or so (plus whatever holdovers might eventually break through), it's not going to happen in the foreseeable future...

Michael10
Michael10

It's got nothing to do with the number of elections -- it's got to do with the difficulty of getting 75% of any group to agree on anything, especially with so many viable choice.

 

Don't worry, though.  Maddux will be in next year, maybe Thomas and Glavine, too.  Johnson and Pedro will be in the following year and maybe Mussina.  Then Griffey and maybe Smoltz or another holdover or two (Bagwell, Piazza, Biggio, Raines).  2017 will likely be Ivan Rodriguez and another holdover.  2018 will be Chipper and yet another holdover.  2019 could be Rivera and maybe Thome.

 

The world -- and the Hall of Fame -- will go on...

Hub25
Hub25

 @Jack15 This dribble sums up the whole situation. Or more the comment re: Bonds "How's it feel to be powerless now Barry?"

 

That's what this is all about. Writers, who never had a problem with roids when Sammy and Mac were the kings of baseball could not let the guy who despised them (Bonds) get away with it. So hence books were written, outrage was cast, Verducci wrote 1000's of words in disgust and the whole fraternity said, "We'll show you!"

 

And today they did and every one of them is on their high horse about it. Good for you, enjoy your 15 minutes.

pcwhite2
pcwhite2

 @Jack15 

 

Jack15, you sound like another jealous loser.  Are you a writer and a member of BBWAA?  Sounds like it.

Michael10
Michael10

Contrition doesn’t work, either.  McGwire is the only one of this group that has come forward and apologized (despite never failing a test) and his vote totals have dropped every year since.  He’s also the only one not to play under MLB’s drug enforcement policy, retiring even before anonymous testing in 2003.  He was not named in the Mitchell Report, either, the only allegations stemming from an over-the-counter supplement and the finger of media who.re Jose Canseco.

 

McGwire could have kept his mouth shut and waited it out like everyone else, but he didn’t.  And the others have learned from his confession.  The voters don’t want contrition; they want pariahs.

Michael10
Michael10

 @pol6ca2 

Actually, the average voter only selected 6-7 players this year.  But there's always a screwball that owes somebody a favor -- in the last few years, Eric Young, Benito Santiago, Bret Boone, Pat Hentgen, David Segui, Kevin Appier, Jesse Orosco, Todd Stottlemyre, Shawon Dunston and Walt Weiss each got a vote.

Michael10
Michael10

 @modsuperstar Consider this though: 

 

Aaron Sele's career winning percentage is only .008 behind Jack Morris's.  His league average ERA+ (100) is only 5 points behind Morris's (105).  His HR/9, BB/9 and K/9 rates are all equal to or better than Morris's.  Sele never threw more than 7 wild pitches in a season; Morris reached double digits 12 times (and led the league 6 of them).  Sele has exactly as many Cy Young awards as Morris, and more seasons with a sub-3.00 ERA.

 

And 385 voters think Jack Morris is a Hall of Fame pitcher...go figure.

RICHIE
RICHIE

 @Michael10  @modsuperstar Sele finished in the top 10 for CYA once, Morris 7 times plus finished in the top 25 of MVP 5 times (Sele, 0 times). Sele averaged a little over 5 innings a start and averaged 194 innings per year, Morris averaged right at 7 innings a start and averaged 242 innings per year. Sele made 2 All Star teams in years his ERA ended up well over 4.00 and win/loss was inflated due to having great run support, Morris made 5 All Star teams and likely should have been on more. Morris's career WAR is 20 points higher. Sele got shelled basically every playoff start he had, Morris was absolutely terrific in the '84 ALCS/WS and the '91 WS (he has 2 rings, Sele 0 rings). I'm a Rangers fan and we never thought of Sele as more than an ok pitcher that was a No. 3 or 4 starter at best who's W/L stats were misleading. Morris has an aura that was earned from big-time performances in pressure situations. I think he's a borderline HOF who was an elite pitcher at times and very good otherwise, but he's definitely in a completely different class than Sele. 

Michael10
Michael10

 @RICHIE  @modsuperstar 

Morris is in a different class than Sele.  I point out all the similarities, however, to show that class falls somewhere above Sele but short of the Hall of Fame.  Morris has got as much in common with a guy like Sele as he does with guys like Maddux, Johnson or Clemens -- not to mention the class of guys already in the Hall.

JesseMoore
JesseMoore

 @RICHIE  @Michael10  @modsuperstar Craig Biggio was an all around great player. I think he should've made it !!! If for no other  reasons, his Charlie Hustle style of play, and his clean slate !!! A Doctor of mine suggested all players,(all sports), should be allowed to take any  enhancements they want. The stipulations being, they must disclose what they are using and the dosage. Thus, leveling the playing field, and, what a study group for the Medical field !!! Personally, I'd prefer to see all the players be clean, as I'm sure some are. And to be able to watch true talent and enjoy it as that, talent and hard work ethics !!!