The 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame Voting

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The holidays have been relatively boring in the baseball world, so we continue to wait to see what teams like our Chicago Cubs will do to prepare for 2018.  In the meantime, the indispensable Ryan Thibodaux has continued his holiday tradition of tallying public Baseball Hall of Fame ballots from the voters.  Unfortunately, as C. Trent Rosecrans will tell you, the HOF is sticking to its guns about accountability…

…and the 10-vote limit…

We know that the HOF has reduced the amount of time a player remains eligible on the ballot, but they have also started to cull some of the older voters from the rolls, so we have seen an evolution of voting over the past few years.  This is a result of analysts and baseball experts becoming more educated in what makes a valuable baseball player, and also in changing opinions on character issues, particularly when it comes to players that may have been suspected of using performance enhancing drugs.  Many of the publicly-released ballots align with choices based on the players’ on-field merits, although you have a few turkeys here and there.  That’s to be expected from a large electorate.

Last year, the voters elected three deserving candidates, one controversial contributor, and therefore removed a few holdovers who would siphon votes from other deserving candidates while eliminating a bunch of other names to make room for new ones.  This year’s ballot, just like last year’s, continues to be loaded:

That ballot by Ryan Divish is very similar to other publicly released ballots, as the drive to elect Edgar Martinez gains steam and other holdovers continue to get significant play.  In addition to whoever gets voted in traditionally, the Veterans Committee also elected the oft-debated Jack Morris and the former Tigers star and former Cubs bench coach Alan Trammell.  Many, including myself, have long touted Trammell’s credentials.  And while Morris isn’t the best pitcher ever, he did have that reputation for pitching to the score and the fame of outdueling now fellow Hall of Famer John Smoltz in that one game.  I have always been of the mind that “fame” is part of the equation when voting for a deserving player, but now Morris can be used as a standard (albeit a very low one) for comparing future Hall of Famers…like, say, Mike Mussina.

Looking at the tracker, with about a quarter of projected votes revealed, it looks like we will see the following guaranteed holdovers, regardless of what happens when the final voting is released:

Of these names, there are five on the cusp of being voted in, some with quite comfortable voting percentages even if you factor in a 10% drop once all votes are tallied.  Knowing that 75% (without rounding) is needed for election, we can confidently predict that first-timers Chipper Jones and Jim Thome will be elected, along with holdover Vlad.  Hoffman and Edgar have a smaller chance of getting voted in, but the numbers might allow either a four- or five-member BBWAA-voted class next summer, which would be the largest since the first class all those years ago.  That would certainly help generate interest in next year’s festivities and the Hall of Fame Museum itself, especially given how many Mariners (and baseball fans in general) have wanted Edgar inducted for so long.

There are some names that will likely drop off the list because they were good enough for a long time to be included on the ballot, but won’t receive the 5% voting needed to remain on the ballot.  This includes former Cubs Kerry Wood and Carlos Zambrano, and this may be the year that Sammy Sosa finally drops off the ballot since he has no chance of getting elected ever.  So far this season, nobody has thrown away their vote at an undeserving candidate (except Rick Telander, who decided that Johnny Damon is HOF worthy, lulz), given how stacked this ballot is.  Unfortunately, that also means that guys who deserve a second look, such as:

…will disappear from consideration until another Veterans Committee or special committee gives them another look.  While a few of the candidates above have their flaws, I feel that Rolen, Sheffield, and Wagner deserve to stick around.  Especially if you’re voting for Trevor Hoffman, it doesn’t make sense to not also vote for Wagner, who has comparable if not superior stats and may be hurt be not having the lofty save total.  This is not all due to people leaving spots blank on their ballot, as the revealed ballots so far have an average of nine spots checked.  As C. Trent said above, voters simply don’t have space to pick every deserving candidate, and therefore have to pick strategically, especially for players like Edgar Martinez who are running out of time.

It’s debatable whether votes should be wasted on a guy like Omar Vizquel, who is being rewarded more for longevity than for actually being legendary.  You also have debate against Curt Schilling, who certainly has the on-field credentials but has tarnished his own character in recent years.  However, voters have seemed to remain distant from character issues and tried to assess players on their production and value on the field this voting cycle.  I don’t think anyone but the five I listed above will have a chance of election when the voting is announced in late January, but the guaranteed holdovers are mostly deserving of continued conversations.

If I had a ballot:

  • Barry Bonds
  • Roger Clemens
  • Vlad Guerrero
  • Chipper Jones
  • Edgar Martinez
  • Mike Mussina
  • Jim Thome
  • Larry Walker
  • Manny Ramirez
  • Scott Rolen

The first eight are my locked-in spots, while the last two are guys I think deserve to stick around.  I don’t really think relievers should get all that much consideration until Mariano Rivera hits the ballot as the only slam-dunk candidate for next year’s ballot.  I think Roy Halladay will also snag a signficant vote count.  That will give the holdovers a chance to make big gains before they run out of time, especially for Edgar (if he’s not voted in this year, next year is his last) and Larry Walker (who only has two years left).

Ultimately I believe that Bonds and Clemens will get in, and eventually the voters will also elect Mussina and Schilling.  I’m all about a big Hall of Fame that celebrates excellence and history.  This next summer should see three to five new plaques to gaze at when we next plan a trip to Cooperstown.


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About Rice Cube

Rice Cube is the executive vice president of snark at World Series Dreaming. He loves all things Cubs, with notable exceptions (specifically, the part of Cubs fandom that pisses him off). Follow on Twitter at cubicsnarkonia

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