Ken Griffey, Jr. received a higher percentage of the vote than anyone else in Hall of Fame balloting. And, he should have. Griffey was a truly great player with no hint of scandal, and deserved each of the 440 votes.
Griffey received all but three of the votes, and while it’s understandable that people are outraged that three members of the Baseball Writers didn’t vote for him, and it’s not a cause for alarm.
Perhaps 40 players should have been elected unanimously to the Hall. There’s no reason to think that Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Tom Seaver should be missing on anyone’s ballot, but they were.
There’s been a push towards transparency in recent years, and voters are encouraged, but not required to disclose their votes. Nearly half the voters made their choices public ahead of time in well-thought out blogs or columns.
If those three voters decided that Griffey was a sure thing, and they had 10 other worthy candidates, that’s faulty reasoning. You should vote for the 10 best candidates. Not all the voters submitted full ballots, but more than half appear to have done so.
In the past, others didn’t vote for an obvious candidate because they didn’t want a player to become the first to be elected unanimously. That’s just silly, but reasoning like that is between a voter and their employer—if in fact there’s still actively covering the game.
Three voters, and presumably not the same three who excluded Griffey, included Mike Sweeney.
Sweeney was a fine player, and by all accounts a very nice man, who played the majority of his 16 years with the Kansas City Royals. He was a five-time All-Star, had 1,540 hits, 215 home runs and a .297 batting average.
He had an excellent career, but was not, by any stretch, a Hall of Famer. The three voters who checked off Sweeney’s name were probably doing him a favor because he was a good clubhouse guy, and that’s wrong, too.
Mike Piazza was also elected, and three players, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Trevor Hoffman all got more than two thirds, but not the 75 percent of the vote required.
It would have been cool if Raines, who has one more year of eligibility, could have gotten in with Griffey. Both Griffey and Raines were part of father-son duos. Griffey played on Seattle with his father, and Raines briefly played with the Orioles with his son.
Bagwell, Raines and Hoffman have good chances of getting into the Hall next year. Curt Schilling moved up to 52.3 percent while Mike Mussina recorded the biggest jump on the ballot, up to 43 percent.
Next year, there’s no surefire candidate. Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez and Ivan Rodriguez are on the ballot, and that should help Bagwell, Raines and Hoffman.
Melvin Mora is eligible for next year’s ballot. He, along with former Oriole reliever Arthur Rhodes, must be approved by a screening committee in order to be considered.
Mora, who holds the Orioles record for highest batting average in a season (.340) isn’t any more qualified than Sweeney was, but I hope he gets on the ballot.
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