My fictitious Hall of Fame Ballot – 2020

20 01 2020

The Hall of Fame vote comes out tomorrow.  I missed a couple of years posting this, but I always like to do my ballot.  If you’re anything like me, you eat this kind of thing up.  I follow the Hall of Fame tracker by @NotMrTibbs that has received a bunch of attention.  I try to read a couple of books a year about HOF inductees.  I went to Griffey’s induction in 2016 and Rickey Henderson’s back in 2009!

In the previous years when I did this, the ballots were complete logjams.  The “rule of 10” had moved the average ballot to over 8 candidates, which was so much more than when I first remember knowing about this process.  Last year it was down to 7.23, and I expect it to be a little lower this year.  It’s still going to be in the same ballpark, though – likely above 7.

With 4 players inducted last year – Rivera, Edgar, Halladay and Mussina – and Fred McGriff coming off the ballot after his 10th year, there will be some space freed up.  Derek Jeter, who is going to get somewhere at or close to 100%, will essentially replace Rivera, but there isn’t really any other newcomer that will get close to the other 4 I just listed.  So guys who have been on the ballot for a while have the opportunity to move up because simply there is more space and a lot of the voters still feel restricted by the limit of picking 10 names.

There are 2 things I’m mostly curious to see.

  1. Will Larry Walker make it?  With almost half of the votes in, he is trending right on the line of 75% at about 84%. But last year his total dropped by ~11% so it may not be enough. It’s his 10th year, so he’s coming off the logjam next year either way – he’s in Tim Raines territory but not nearly the lock that Rock was.  I suspect that I won’t have a better idea until it’s actually announced on MLB Network.  A jump from 54.6% last year would be pretty insane, and it looks like he’ll be just short.  Whether it’s from the BBWAA or Veteran’s Committee sometime later, I do think Walker will get his due in Cooperstown.
  2. Where will he Bonds / Clemens / Schilling trio end up at?  The 3 guys are all in their 8th year, pretty clear-cut HOFers on stats alone, but have bounced around each other decently below the induction line for a few years now.  Schilling I think will end up around 70% and either be really close to get in during the 2021 ballot.  It seems like voters are moving past the “we don’t like stupid jerks” idea, which is a good thing.  The steroid duo will likely be above the 59% they settled in at last year.  But how far they slide up will give insight if they actually have a chance to make it in 2022 – as this will come down to their final year.  If they fail to get to 65%, I don’t like the odds.  If they get in the high 60’s – I like their chances.  I think they’ll get a bump this year, not much of one in 2021, and then another bump in their final year.  I think they’ll get close but not make it in; I think there may be a ceiling of some sort where there are 25-30% of voters who won’t vote them in whatsoever.

I’ve long argued that the 10-player ballot maximum is an unnecessary constraint (problem).  It splits the vote.  As you can see below, even with some of the logjam cleared, there are close to 15 players I’d vote for.  The Hall moved the years on the writers’ ballot down from 15 to 10 a few years back.  This makes sense in a vacuum, but doesn’t when combined with the 10 player restriction given to BBWAA voters.

Below is my “if I had a vote” message.  Before I get into specific players, I want to reiterate what I’d do about the steroid guys.  First, I don’t think there should be any rampant speculation considered.  For example -Piazza and Bagwell from previous ballots never had such a link but were clearly tainted by mere speculation.  I thought that was unfair.

Second, I’d generally vote for guys with a clear link to PEDs (exception below).  My reasons?  First, I think PEDs were a baseball issue, not a Mark McGwire or a Barry Bonds issue.  Second, it’s a gray area, not the black and white line that many make it out to be.  I firmly believe at some point in the future, maybe 25 years or 40 years, we’re going to realize that some of those substances are safe to use and that it was silly that it even got the debate it did.  Finally, there is probably a PED user already in the Hall of Fame, and there are definitely Hall of Famers who have openly admitted to using amphetamines.  Steroids was part of the game just like other forms of gamesmanship have been part of the game in different eras.  I say vote the cheaters in, like we’ve done for its entire history (see Gaylord Perry).  I’d rather do that than act like the Hall of Fame is something more than it is.  It’s a shrine for the greatest players, managers and executives of the game, next to a museum that keeps the history of baseball.  No more, no less.

So if someone is linked to PEDs, at least for the time being, I will vote them in – but behind clean guys who I think clearly deserve to be in.  The guys that are, to me, unquestionable on performance and have no tie to PEDs.  I made one addition to the notes above in 2017.  I’m not going to vote for Manny Ramirez.  Despite the fact he’s the probably best historical player on here not named Bonds or Clemens.  But he cheated when it really was cheating, and that’s just where the line gets drawn for me right now.  Not sure on timing when A-Rod gets in, I may change my mind.  We’ll see.

The only reason I make all of these rules is the ballot limit of 10.  Every real voter who is voting more than 6 or 7 guys (which is a significant number of voters) has to come up with their own individual rules, and this is just how I’d do it.

So here’s my fake ballot with their percentages .  This is in the order of how I’d vote them in, meaning I’d put Walker in if I was only allowed to pick 1 player.

  • Larry Walker (54.6%)
  • Derek Jeter (1st)
  • Todd Helton (16.5%)
  • Curt Schilling (60.9%)
  • Scott Rolen (17.2%)
  • Andruw Jones (7.5%)
  • Omar Vizquel (42.8%)
  • Barry Bonds (44.3%)
  • Roger Clemens (45.2%)
  • Billy Wagner (16.7%)

That’s the limit of 10. There are about 7 “no-doubters” to me, Bonds and Clemens, and then it came down to Jeff Kent and Wagner.  I think Wagner is a historically good closer, probably the 3rd best of his era behind Rivera and Hoffman; that gives him the nod to me over Kent in a “pick-em” scenario.

The rest of these guys are players whom I would probably vote for, but it’s sill.  They aren’t as clear-cut as the 7 guys ahead of Bonds above, but I would vote for them if there were no restrictions.  Note that I put Walker in the same category, but at the top of that “not clear-cut” list – so he makes the list of 10.  To be clear, I definitely do think these guys are Hall of Famers.

  • Jeff Kent (18.1%)
  • Gary Sheffield (13.6%)
  • Andy Pettitte (9.9%)
  • Sammy Sosa (7.0%)
  • Jason Giambi (1st)

That’s a list of 15.  And I would have put a number of guys who are no longer BBWAA-eligible (Kenny Lofton most notable).  I wish the Hall of Fame could read articles about this and see how the limit of 10 really restricts things for their voters.  It seems they don’t care though.

Anyways, I always look forward to the announcement and this week is no different!



One response

20 01 2020
P-town Tom

I really like this take, “First, I think PEDs were a baseball issue, not a Mark McGwire or a Barry Bonds issue.” I’m finally starting to come around on the PED guys getting in. I’m not there yet, but I’m getting much closer.

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