The best day of the offseason is coming up. On Wednesday night at 6 p.m., the new class of the Hall of Fame will be announced. It’s the first time the announcement has come in the evening.
I’m not a 10-year member of the Baseball Writers, so I don’t have a Hall of Fame vote, but I follow the voting closely.
Ken Griffey Jr. will be voted in. According to Ryan Thibs, every one of the 141 ballots that have been publicly announced (voters are encouraged, but not required to disclose their votes), lists him.
Hopefully, Griffey will become the first unanimous selection. There have been many who deserved it, but there have always been a few silly holdouts.
One of the new Hall of Fame procedures increases the chances for a unanimous vote.
The Hall purged the voting rolls and at least 100 voters who had cast ballots previously no longer will. Writers who had not covered baseball in the past 10 years lost their privileges.
Many of those who no longer can vote retired from writing. Others moved on to other sports or to writing about things over than sports, and some left the business. A number of them still follow the sport closely, but they can’t vote.
The 141 ballots represent about a third of those distributed. On them, Thibs calculates that Mike Piazza (87.2 percent), Jeff Bagwell (81.6) and Tim Raines (80.1) would exceed the 75 percent threshold for Hall of Fame enshrinement if the rest of the ballots mirror the publicly released ones.
Last year, those publicly announcing their ballot ahead of time voted for Bagwell, Piazza and Raines in greater numbers than those who didn’t.
One of the most interesting trends in Hall of Fame voting has been the movement by writers to use all 10 places on their ballot. Last year more than half did that, and that could enable more candidates to be elected. A year ago, the writers elected four: Craig Biggio, Rnady Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz.
According to Thibs, Trevor Hoffman in his first year of eligibility has picked up 62.4 percent of the vote, Curt Schilling 60.3, and Mike Mussina whose cause I champion annually, 56.0.
A year ago, Mussina was named on about 30 percent of the public ballots, and about 16 percent of those that weren’t.
If he comes anywhere close to 50 percent, it would represent a huge jump from the 24.6 percent he received last year and could give him the momentum he needs to get to Cooperstown.
Perhaps most interesting of all, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have received just under 50 percent of the publicly released ballots. Last year, they didn’t crack 40 percent in the actual voting.
The Baseball Writers have petitioned the Hall of Fame to increase the ballot size from 10 to 12. It’s been at 10 since the Hall of Fame was established. The Hall of Fame has rejected the call.
While the Baseball Writers voting hasn’t been perfect, overall it’s been excellent. There are a few candidates that didn’t receive the needed 75 percent who I think should be in the Hall: Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Jim Kaat, Jack Morris and Lou Whitaker.
Once those candidates exhaust their eligibility on the writers’ ballots, which has been reduced from 15 years to 10, they can still get in on a vote from the Veterans Committee.
But, since 2001 just two players who went through the writers’ process: Joe Gordon and Ron Santo, were elected by the Veterans Committee.
Jealous non-voters often say that the voting base should be expanded. Players and baseball executives “who know the game” should be included in the process, they argue.
Players and executives are on the veterans committees along with some writers, and they’ve elected very few.
Baseball’s Hall of Fame procedure is far superior to those in football and basketball. In the Pro Football Hall of Fame, 46 voters—one representing each franchise and some at-large voters, decide who gets to Canton. The Basketball Hall of Fame’s process is secretive. No one knows who the voters are.
A greater number of voters is better than a smaller number. The large majority of those voting take their duties very seriously, and spend a great deal of time on voting.
It’s also something that fans can relate to. Many longtime fans fill out mock ballots, many of which are similar to those of writers. I can’t imagine many avid NFL fans arguing over the merits of offensive linemen and punters.
The voting procedure is just fine, with some modifications of course, and the hope here is that one day I’ll get to join in on the fun.
MORE BASEBALL: Orioles looking to add to their club as 2016 begins