Posted January 10, 2014

JAWS and the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot: What to expect over the next five years

Hall of Fame, JAWS
Ken Griffey Jr.

Injuries kept Ken Griffey Jr. from even greater heights, but he’ll sail into the Hall of Fame in 2016. (V.J. Lovero/SI)

The following article is part of my ongoing look at the candidates on the BBWAA 2014 Hall of Fame ballot. For a detailed introduction to JAWS, please see here. For the breakdowns of each candidate and to read the previous articles in the series, see here.

On Wednesday, I wrapped up the 2014 Hall of Fame voting, and on Thursday I previewed the 2015 ballot. For the finale of this year’s JAWS series, I decided to try something I’ve never done before, taking a look at the next several years of voting. In doing so, I’ve kept in mind both which holdover candidates are clearly on the road to election and which ballot newcomers will likely cut the line and be elected right away, just as Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas did this year.

This is admittedly an exercise requiring a fair bit of imagination and speculation, though it is grounded in my research into the candidates and the history of the voting. Underlying it is my own rough spreadsheet simulation, in which I’ve attempted to apportion a similar number of votes across the top candidates from year to year while expecting candidates to follow patterns consistent with the modern history of BBWAA voting.

In doing so, I have assumed that despite the best efforts of the organization to recommend changes to the process, the Hall of Fame will keep things as they are: 10 votes per ballot, 75 percent needed for election, a five percent minimum to avoid falling off the ballot, no paring of the voter rolls to remove some of the deadwood (except for this guy), and no clear direction on players connected to performance-enhancing drugs.

Keep in mind that each ballot’s year refers to the year of induction; that ballot is released in late November of the previous year, with votes due on Dec. 31. To be eligible, a candidate must not have played in the majors for five full seasons, but his eligibility year will actually be six years after his last appearance.

Top newcomers: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Gary Sheffield
Top holdovers: Craig Biggio (74.8 percent in 2014), Mike Piazza (62.2 percent), Jeff Bagwell (54.3 percent), Tim Raines (46.1 percent)
Most likely to be elected: Johnson, Martinez, Biggio
Falling off: Sammy Sosa, Don Mattingly

Having just elected three candidates for the first time since 1999 on the heels of the 2013 shutout, the voting body likely won’t bring quite the same sense of urgency to the process in 2015. Still, I would expect that the number of candidates per ballot remains high, and that the presence of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds in the middle of the pack continues to slow the progress of other candidates up and down the ballot.

Johnson and Martinez will sail in, and I see voters granting some amount of sympathy to Biggio over this year’s excruciatingly close call, quite possibly at the expense of Smoltz, whose career isn’t easy to pigeonhole; he’s sort of an amalgamation of Curt Schilling (low 200s win total, strikeouts, postseason excellence) and Dennis Eckersley (career split between starting and bullpen). Assuming three players get in, it will mark the first time since the BBWAA returned to annual voting in 1966 that they’ve elected trios back to back.

Meanwhile, I’d expect Smoltz, Piazza and Bagwell all to top 60 percent, with Raines climbing back over 50 percent. It will probably be curtains for Sosa, who polled just 7.2 percent this time around, and most definitely for Mattingly, who will be in his final year of eligibility and who received just 8.2 percent of the vote in 2014.

Top newcomers: Ken Griffey Jr., Jim Edmonds, Trevor Hoffman
Top holdovers: Piazza, Smoltz, Bagwell, Raines
Most likely to be elected: Griffey, Piazza
Falling off: Alan Trammell, Mark McGwire

Here’s where the traffic starts to break up a wee bit. Griffey, with 630 career homers and the fifth-highest JAWS ranking among centerfielders (83.7 career WAR/53.9 7yr-peak WAR/68.8 JAWS) will go in easily, becoming the first 600-homer club member to gain entry since Willie Mays in 1979. It’s almost certainly asking too much to expect three straight years of three honorees under the current rules, so while I’d expect Piazza to go over the top in his fourth year of eligibility, I can see Smoltz and Bagwell approaching the precipice without quite getting there, with both above 65 percent. Raines could climb to 60 percent in what will be his ninth year of eligibility.

Further down the ballot, I’d expect this is where Bonds and Clemens start to gain ground, while Mussina, Schilling and possibly Edgar Martinez cross the 40 percent threshold, pointing the way toward their eventual enshrinement. Edmonds (60.3/42.5/51.4) will be a popular candidate among sabermetricians but his overall support will lag. The BBWAA hasn’t elected a player with fewer than 2,000 hits whose career took place entirely in the post-1960 expansion era, and Edmonds had just 1,949, testament to both his short career (just 6,858 plate appearances) and high walk rate.

Hoffman, who took the all-time saves record from Lee Smith and then was soon passed by Mariano Rivera, won’t be in for an easy time either considering that he ranks 21st in reliever JAWS (28.4/19.6/24.0) and will lack support from the saber set, but he could usurp the dwindling support that Smith had been receiving. Trammell will run out of eligibility, and McGwire, who received just 11 percent of the vote in 2014, could follow Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro off the ballot and into limbo, where they’ll await kinder judgment from a Veterans Committee To Be Named Later.

Top newcomers: Ivan Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez, Jorge Posada
Top holdovers: Smoltz, Bagwell, Raines, Schilling, Mussina
Most likely to be elected: Smoltz, Bagwell
Falling off: Lee Smith

This will be the first year since 2013 without a first-ballot player elected. For as strong as Pudge’s career may have been on both traditional merits (2,844 hits, 311 homers, 13 Gold Gloves, an MVP award) and sabermetric ones (third all-time in JAWS among catchers), he was implicated by Jose Canseco as having used HGH and steroids. That won’t rule him out from eventual election, but it will likely force him to wait a good, long while. As for Ramirez, despite the 555 career homers, 154 OPS+ and the 10th-best JAWS among leftfielders, fuhgeddaboutit; his two PED suspensions will keep him outside the Hall and force his case to be taken up by the VC, which under current rules wouldn’t be until the 2032 ballot, 21 years after his final season.

Guerrero will probably be the top newcomer in terms of overall votes, but his disappearance from the majors after his age-36 season will prevent him from being a slam-dunk candidate; he’s only 21st among rightfielders in JAWS (59.9/41.2/50.6). Posada won’t be helped by the recent election of Piazza and the head-to-head comparison with Pudge.

Thus, I think this is the year that Smoltz and Bagwell get over the top, with Raines moving into position for a long-overdue entry. Schilling and Mussina could cross 50 percent, and by this point, perhaps even Bonds and Clemens will; between the precedent of Piazza and Bagwell — both suspected by some faction of using PEDs but without hard evidence — and turnover in the voting body, resistance may be lessening at least somewhat. Meanwhile, Smith will fall off the ballot having never regained the ground he lost after reaching 50.6 percent in 2012.

Top newcomers: Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Scott Rolen
Other possible newcomers: Bobby Abreu, Andruw Jones, Johan Santana
Top holdovers: Raines, Schilling, Mussina, Martinez, Bonds, Clemens
Most likely to be elected: Chipper Jones, Raines

With 2,726 hits, 468 homers, eight All-Star appearances, an MVP award and status as a superstar who spent his entire career with the same team, Chipper Jones is going to waltz into Cooperstown. Despite Thome’s 612 career homers and lack of PED connections, I don’t think he’ll be an automatic first-ballot entry. He never won an MVP award, was mediocre in the postseason and had just five All-Star appearances, so while he’ll make a debut well above 50 percent, he might have to cool his heels for a year. As such, I see this as the year when Raines finds his opening and finally gets elected.

Rolen, the owner of eight Gold Gloves and the 10th-highest JAWS at the position (70.0/43.5/56.7) will be the sabermetric darling whose initial support among the broader electorate is a disappointment, though he’ll hardly be ruled out for the future. I’d expect Schilling and Mussina to continue inching upward, with Bonds and Clemens doing so as well. Rodriguez and Guerrero will be in the 40s, pointing the way toward their eventual inclusion, albeit one that’s still years away.

Note that I’ve listed Santana, Abreu and Andruw Jones here. Each of them last played in the majors in 2012, but none has definitively hung up his spikes yet, and all have JAWS of at least 48.1; if they hit the ballot, they’ll get at least some attention. Of the trio, Jones (62.7/46.4/54.5) ranks 10th all-time among centerfielders and has 434 homers and 10 Gold Gloves under his belt. Despite never having a good season as a full-timer past the age of 30, voters will be forced to reckon with the amazing first decade of his career sooner or later. Santana’s contract with the Mets may have been a disasterpiece, but he did win two Cy Young awards with the Twins, and thus won’t be dismissed easily. Abreu will be yet another candidate who appeals more to sabermetric types than to mainstream voters.

Top newcomers: Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Todd Helton, Lance Berkman, Roy Halladay*
Top holdovers: Schilling, Mussina, Martinez, Bonds, Clemens
Most likely to be elected: Rivera, Thome
Falling off: Ramirez

The all-time saves leader and staple of the Yankees dynasty will have no trouble getting into the Hall of Fame, and he’ll go in with at least 95 percent of the vote. Thome should get in here as well. By this point, seventh-year candidate Schilling could be very close, and I’d expect Mussina to be somewhere in the low 60s, with Bonds and Clemens in the high 50s. All of those pitchers could lose votes to Halladay, a two-time Cy Young winner with a longer career than Santana but “only” 203 wins and a JAWS line ( 64.6/50.6/57.6) that ranks 42nd among starting pitchers, below Schilling (27th) and Mussina (28th).

* I inadvertently excluded Halladay from my original publication of this. Score that E-6.

I don’t expect either Pettitte, a player included in the Mitchell Report and never an elite run preventer, to make a strong showing, and I expect that while Helton will have his adherents, his trajectory won’t be Cooperstown-bound anytime soon. Ramirez could follow Palmeiro’s three-and-out trajectory — if he even lasts that long.


In all, that’s 11 candidates elected over the next five years, an estimate that’s both somewhat conservative and at the same time rather optimistic. On the one hand, under current rules, it’s not hard to envision only one other year in which three candidates gain entry, that founded in next year’s bumper crop and Biggio’s unique circumstance. On the other hand, the most candidates the BBWAA has elected over any five-year span since 1966 is 10 (1982-86 and 1999-2003), and the last five cycles including 2014 have seen just seven such elections, so by the glacial standards of the process, this would indeed count as progress.

If things do go along these lines, the carryover to 2020 — a ballot introducing players whose careers will wind up in 2014, possibly including Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki — will be a logjam at the upper end of the ballot. As my crystal ball foresees it, Schilling, Mussina, Clemens and Bonds will be somewhere above 55 percent, with the first two more likely in the mid-to-high 60s. Guerrero, Rodriguez and Martinez will be somewhere in the 45-55 percent range, with Kent, Rolen, Hoffman, Sheffield, Edmonds and Walker more likely to be lagging between 30 and 40 percent.

Looking at such a scenario — which would come in the final year before I myself have a vote — I can take heart in the fact that it’s not too hard to envision paths to election for the likes of Piazza, Bagwell, Raines and eventually Schilling, with others such as Mussina and Martinez to follow further on down the line. I don’t see much resolution on Bonds or Clemens, and expect Sheffield and Rodriguez to move along more slowly than their stats would suggest.

Even moreso after undertaking this exercise, I strongly believe the voting process needs to be fixed, most likely via an expansion from the 10-slot rule though perhaps more justifiably in lowering the 75 percent threshold; once players reach 50 percent, eventual election is a near-certainty, but only after what amounts to endless bureaucracy. Like these “votes,” change is somewhere in the future, and it probably won’t take the form we expect.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed Ivan Rodriguez as having been mentioned in the Mitchell Report. He was not.


 So, what I'm seeing, is Jose Canseco, who will never be in the HOF, is one of the most powerful factors in determining who else does not get in.  The guy was a liar and a cheat all his life, and writing a book (or at least getting his name put on it; he may have never actually read "his" book) suddenly makes him a major influence on the Hall of Fame.


A writer speaking on radio nailed it: to vote you have to watch games.  Anybody who even mentions sabermetrics should be disqualified.  He gave tons of great reasons and examples, but I'll summarize here what I can.

- only allow voters who watch lots of games, lots of tape, lots of years.  He'd let Bobby Cox vote, for instance.  Don't let guys vote who never saw all these guys in action and refuse to be locked in a room to watch game tapes for a few weeks.  If you only look at stats you miss the whole picture

- he voted for the three that got in plus Raines, Walker, Mussina, Bagwell, and Biggio, in that order; he didn't want to vote for 10 so added a come of back-end guys to fill out his ballot, knowing it never mattered

- on that point he thinks it's idiocy that people care how many votes you got; either you got enough or you didn't, unanimity doesn't matter at all.  This isn't a trial

- he likes basic stats but uses career numbers to help; it's year by year averages he cares about

- two things he looks at more than most is a guy's impact on win/losses and style of play; if a guy is healthy and his team wins 73%, then he plays hurt or not at all and they win 60%, that's huge.  Some guys, if you watch games, have a big impact on wins/losses for various reasons, some are negligible.  A guy he points to as key to winning was Larrry Walker, everywhere he went the team was better when he was healthy, he made a difference.  Guys he says fall on their face that way?  Arod, Jeter.  With them or without them the team won or lost, they're impact was negligible at best.  Style of play he likes because you can see if a guy covers ground, backs up well, positions well, breaks on the ball well, hits to open areas, hits all kinds of pitches, hits to all fields; none of that shows up in sabermetrics.  He pointed to Jeter again as a 'safe' SS who gets to only 60-70% of balls average SS get to, partly why his impact is more limited than non-watchers think

- he will never vote for PED users, simply put.  If a guy takes drugs to extend his career a bit he has sympathy but no votes, but if a guy takes drugs to turn himself into a star, or maintain perceived star status/wealth, he refuses to even consider them.  To people who say others used amphetamines, he asks how many speed users got the advantages Bonds et al did.  To others say it wasn't illegal, he points out it was.  To those who blame management he says so what, that's a separate issue (He doesn't want LaRussa in).  They cheated, they cheated for gain, no matter how you look at it it'd wrong

- he won't vote for Rose either; the guy bet on games, that's all that matters.  To people who say only his playing career between the lines matter he said so if Rose was a neo-Nazi and KKK member that shouldn't matter, then

- Guys who carry teams he loves; you have to watch games to know that, though, pay attention.  Some teams he's seen fade badly but one guy hits .370 with .650 SLG and they get through the rough times; he mentioned one guy who's team was mentally weak and cracked under pressure but this guy was awesome under pressure and kept the team in the chase, winning 2 out of 3 division titles; if a borderline HoF candidate has that going for him, he votes for him

- he hates position adjustments people make to defend/attack players; he points out no stat adequately reflects positioning/range and no stat head knows which players can hold a runner, which can't save runs that way.  He mentioned Ellis Valentine getting a ball in the gap and firing it to second, the runner screeched to a halt and ran back to 1st before Valentine even got the ball, afraid of that arm.  What stat head would know which guys did that?  And yes, the greats can do that

- park adjustments he favours, but only so far; compare home/road for everyone, and leave it at that

- last I can recall he pointed out how stats, again, don't tell the whole story.  Guys who never watched Jack Morris never knew how his manager would leave him in after giving up 6 runs, knowing the offence could and would score 9.  They never saw him give up 6 in 3 innings, 8 in 5, and get the win anyway, with teams that had very good defence too.  Watch games, put stats in context of what you see, greatness is on the field, not on paper.

With that, he said he'll vote for the guys he voted for before plus R Johnson, P Martinez, Smoltz, Griffey Jr., V Guerrero, Hoffman, Chipper, and Rivera.  Others he'll have to look at more, because right now they don't do it for him and that rarely changes.  No PED guys, no Pudge, no Sheffield.  They blew it, and made their money cheating like all the rest, don't compound the problem.


Remember that these schmoes will want to vote for Vizquel.


For those still interested in this year's voting, my HoF ballot tracker is up to 286 ballots, or more than 50% of voters:


I think your McGwire argument is the greatest against "JAWS" and in particular WAR, which, like ALL stats, is subjective in terms of it's value for judging players.  My best argument against WAR is that Keith Hernandez, generally regarded the greatest defensive 1st baseman of all time, has a NEGATIVE dWAR.

Anyway, McGwire is Dave Kingman without the blacklist to prevent him from getting to 500 homeruns.  Nothing more.

Smoltz clearly deserves to be a first ballot guy.  He was far better a starting pitcher than Eckersley, who was a good, but erratic starter.  And he was his equal as a closer.
More to the point, Smoltz switched at the request of his club (not as is now claimed b/c of his injury.  The initial plan was to simply build him back up).  And at the switch he was the dominant closer in his league.
More importantly, unlike Eckersley, he went back to starting and was AGAIN a front line starter, even if for only a short time.


This is a really good list, and hats off on a great job. It's really sad looking back on careers like Griffey's and imagining if they were never hurt (of course Mantle, Koufax, Pedro, etc as well), or hell if they shot up and were able to uproot 300 year old red wood trees with their bare hands -the speculated training of the late 80s Oakland A's and mid 90s Red Sox teams...

My only criticism, as subjective as it is, would be the 2017 "top new comers" including Pudge, Manny, Vlad, and Jorge - Pudge is the only one that stands a chance, but shouldn't Edgar Renteria be mentioned with the others? He's definitely ahead of Jorge Pasada. Anyways, that's my only criticism. Really good job with the list.


Pretty good analysis. A couple things:

1. I actually think McGwire has a decent chance to age off the ballot instead of getting booted early (aka "Palmeiroed"). I was stunned to discover that next year will be his *ninth* on the ballot. That made me feel really old. He clearly has enough support to stay on the ballot. The problem is that he (and every other borderline candidate) is getting squeezed by the loaded ballot and 10-player limit. If the limit is lifted, I think he will definitely stay on all 15 years. If not, I'd say it's 50/50.

2. I think Thome is getting in first ballot. The fact that he is perceived to be clean will really help, I think, as all the voters sending messages about PEDs will rally to his cause. He has 600 homers. He hit a home run every 13.8 at bats, which ranks behind only McGwire, Ruth and Bonds. His career on-base percentage is above .400 and his career OPS+ is 146. His WAR (72.8) is not extraordinarily high but well above the Hall of Fame standard, so there's no real reason for the SABR-minded voters to not vote for him. I really don't see a lot not to like here. Then again, considering that he would be the first player elected with an Indians cap since the 1970s (except for Larry Doby's election in 1998, which was about 30 years too late), I'm a bit biased.


Smoltz could go 57 and 0 and still not match Mussina's winning percentage. That Glavine goy in before Mussina is a joke. The voters have made the whole process a farce.


I think they have to let Bonds and Clemens in at some point.  Their careers are marred by their probable PED usage, yes, and their place in the HOF is questionable, yes, but they can acknowledge the debate and let visitors to Cooperstown decide for themselves.  To say "they are cheaters and don't deserve entry" is to be reductive about it: PED usage is a thornier issue than many care to acknowledge (Malcolm Gladwell is a thoughtful writer on this ), the HOF isn't a shrine, and the BBWAA does not comprise the entirety of people who know something about baseball.  It's worth paraphrasing George Will's point on adding asterisks to the record book to account for inflated hitting stats during the steroid era: records are for fans, and fans will know what happened during that time.  Same with the HOF.  It's a museum, not a church, and baseball writers are just journalists who happen to write about sports--get over yourselves and let the fans decide.


If your going to not elect Bonds and Clemens for prescribed drug use, you should go back and take everyone out who used greenies, poppers or other stimulants.  This will leave a much smaller HOF.  Since I don't like or approve of pot, lets get rid of that group too.  Now I am such a prude I think smoking cigarettes should be a bar (bad example for kids).  Lastly how about alcohol. Now we are down to Lou Gerhig  and his type.  Its what you did on the field that counts and nothing off the field matters.  Comparing Bonds non steroid years with his possible steroid years seems to be no change in his numbers, if you don't count hat size as a number.  If he took them it didn't change much in the progression of his career.


Where is Roy Halladay? If Santana can be listed so can Halladay!


Unless the BBWAA seriously looks at how votes are determined and by who, (a bunch of beat writers)the Hall's credibility is going downhill. Why is a candidate that deserves to be in year one, finally make it in on year 5 or later? Really, only so many votes to go around? The  voting format  is quite archaic and like the Board itself, ought to be re-looked at.


Pretty sure Pudge wasn't in the Mitchell Report.  


@dsciswe Why ONLY use one thing, watching games and don't use advanced metrics?  How many times have we heard people say well I remember this or I "saw" that and they are WRONG.

Should advanced metrics be the end all?  No, they shouldn't.  But when one is talking about careers longer than 10 yrs, like 12 seasons, 15 or 18 seasons, advanced metrics DO play into things.

A player may have an off year or a year with good luck where many of his batted balls fall in for hits.

But AFTER 12 or 15 seasons, things tend to level out and what does this mean?  It means that advanced metrics are NOW in play as there is a large quantity of games played by a player on which to use and view the metrics.

One SHOULD look at and consider ALL things when trying to determine things in life, whether it's a HOF vote or trying to improve a process at work.

It makes NO sense to ignore such a large category as advanced metrics.

A man may have more RBI's than another player simply because he batted way more often with runners in scoring position.  This player with more RBI's may have actually driven in LESS runners percentage-wise than the man with fewer RBI''s meaning that the player with MORE RBI's was NOT the better RBI man.  I'd LOVE to see this metric as opposed to number of RBI's on a batter's slash line.

I don't care how many RBI's he has, I want to know how large of a percentage of men he's driven in during his opportunities.

It's like saying a QB completed 20 passes but NOT saying it took him 51 passes to get those 20 completions.  The other "lesser" QB "only" has 18 completions in a game but he did it in only 25 passes.


@dsciswe  "A writer speaking on radio nailed it: to vote you have to watch games.  Anybody who even mentions sabermetrics should be disqualified."

So this bozo thinks you can't both use advanced metrics and watch games? He's right that the AMs don't tell the whole story (@S12 and his comparison of Smoltz and Eckersley makes that point very, very well), but suggesting that it's an either/or is simply stupid.


@S12  I'm seeing +0.6 dWAR on Baseball-Reference for Keith, actually... but what you need to take into account here is that that number includes the positional adjustment.  For a first baseman, the positional adjustment is a large negative number, because first base is the easiest defensive position.  So if we were comparing Keith to e.g. Ozzie Smith, we would want to give Ozzie credit for playing a much tougher  position.  But if we're trying to figure out how a 1B ranks among other 1B, we need something that doesn't have a positional adjustment.

So, what you want to look at here is "Rfield" (fielding runs)... of which Keith has 117... which does in fact rate him as the greatest defensive 1B ever.  See this chart:


@trooper707Wins/losses and winning % is a team stat foolishly assigned to an individual. Tennis is one on one. Baseball is a team sport.


They don't *have* to do that, and there's really no indication that they will (except for maybe their last year of eligibility). I agree that they should be in, but they actually *lost* support this year. Some of that is likely due to the stacked ballot, but I think that's hurting McGwire, Sosa and the now-banished Palmeiro (as well as other borderline guys who don't have connections to PEDs) more than Bonds and Clemens. There are a number of voters (Joe Posnanski, for one) who are willing to vote for a guy like McGwire, but he didn't have enough room on his ballot.

He did find enough room for Bonds and Clemens, and I suspect that most voters who are not adamantly opposed to voting for *any* PED guys are already voting for Bonds and Clemens because they're among the top 10 position players and pitchers, respectively. They may get a bit more support in future years when the logjam clears a bit and with some turnover in the electorate, with older people being replaced by younger people. But both of them need to more than double their current support. I don't see it.

At least not from the BBWAA. I do think that at some point, there may be a special Veterans Committee tasked specifically with dealing the PED guys.


@BobKurtzNo change in his numbers? Assuming Bonds started using in 1999, here are his slash lines from his pre and post-PED eras.

Pre-PEDs (ages 21-33): .290/.411/.556 with an OPS+ of 164

Post-PEDs (ages 34-42): .316/.505/.712 with an OPS+ of 214

Yeah, those numbers look identical.


@Hansenkidd I'm not convinced Halladay is done. I could see him taking a season or 2 off and getting his back fixed. The dude was a gamer and I just don't see him being done like that.


@bgklein13And neither were those 30 pounds he lost as soon as testing started.


@largebill68 @trooper707 I would tend to agree with you most of the time, but the year Steve Carlton won 27 for the last-place Phillies, it's hard to imagine the "team" doing it.