Hall of Fame Results - Winners, Losers and Voter Inconsistency

This weekend, I took some time to analyze the revealed Hall of Fame ballots.  I compared them to last year's ballots in an attempt to make sense of the current state of the Hall of Fame voting system and to ascertain what affect, if any, the 10-vote limit may have had on this year's results.  In a follow-up post, I'll give you the list of the ballots that I have the most questions about so please check back in for that. 

Here are some key points that I have gathered from this exercise.

Key Point #1 - we deserve more

In total, as of today, 157 ballots have been revealed on the BBWAA web site.
Of the 157 ballots revealed, 62 voters did not reveal their ballots last year or were new voters (meaning no comparison was available for those ballots).

Only 27.5% of all ballots cast were revealed this year.  The fact that so few ballots were made available to the public is a problem that should be addressed.  

Given the number of ballots revealed this year AND last, we were able to compare 95 current ballots against prior year voting records.

Key Point #2 - the voters didn't do a poor job of voting in a consistent manner

Of the 95 ballots comparatively reviewed, 63 were "consistent" with prior year voting... a "consistent" ballot implies that a player who was voted for in 2013 was presumably removed from a voter's 2014 ballot because he a.) dropped off the ballot (David Murphy, Kenny Lofton) or b.) the voter did not have enough space on his or her ballot to accommodate (the voter added more first ballot players than he or she had available open spaces from the 2013 ballot).

The premise here is that a Hall of Famer is not going to lose or gain Hall of Fame status from one year to the next... in my mind, if Craig Biggio was a Hall of Famer last year, he's a Hall of Famer this year... and 66.3% of all ballots cast were consistent, meaning that a fair percentage of voters did, in fact, vote in a consistent matter.  

Examining the inconsistent ballots, there were some that could be explained in a simplistic manner.  For instance, there were a handful of voters who presumably did not vote for a "first ballot" guy due to the overwhelming stigma that is attached to first ballot Hall of Famers and the Hall within the Hall.  Others may have swayed on PED usage.  Regardless, I made no assumptions as to what the voters were thinking on inconsistent ballots.    

Key Point #3 - the voters were forced to leave too many names off their ballots because of the 10 limit rule.

107 of the 157 ballots revealed were at the 10 name limit in 2014 (68.2%).  Of the 63 "consistent" ballots cast, 44 voters (70%) presumably dropped a name in order to accommodate the 10 name limit (tallying the 2014 ballots that were at the 10 name limit that would have presumably been forced to omit a name from their 2013 ballot to accommodate the rule - comparing ballots, tallying new names and making note of who was left off).

Examining the ballots, I would conservatively estimate that 70-75% of all voters left at least one name off their ballot to accommodate the 10 name limit rule and I believe that I'm making a fairly reasonable assumption here... 70% of the voters were consistent, which suggests that a voter will generally keep a guy on his or her ballot once they decide that a player is "Hall worthy" and 70% of the consistent ballots were at the 10 name limit.  I chose not to make assumptions for the ballots that had year over year consistencies but a high percentage of those inconsistent ballots were also at the 10 name limit, which would lead you to believe that even more voters were forced to leave names off their ballots.  

Key Point #4 - Some were hurt worse than others

Examining the "consistent" ballots, 17 different players presumably lost votes due to the 10 name limit.  ), Alan Trammell (11), Edgar Martinez (10), Lee Smith (10), Curt Schilling (9) and Larry Walker (9) presumably lost the most votes due to the 10 name limit rule.  Craig Biggio presumably lost three votes among the consistent revealed ballots due to the 10 name limit.  Rafael Palmeiro presumably lost three votes among the compared ballots.

Again, this is merely an observation based upon the most basic assumption that a voter will vote in a fairly consistent manner and that they dropped names to accommodate the 10 name limit rule.  If all of the ballots were analyzed in this manner, there would likely be three to four times as many votes lost overall.  

In a year where Biggio needed just two votes to get in and Palmeiro needed just three votes to stay on the ballot, it's safe to say we missed one enshrinement and dropped one name due to the rule of 10.  

The Easy Fixes

1. Make all of the ballots public

I'm not the first to make this suggestion... Ken Rosenthal mentioned it in his ballot reveal article and I'm sure that other have suggested it as well.  The fact that everyone would be subject to public scrutiny would apply an added level of pressure to ensure that the voters really took the time to think before they vote.

2. Hold the voters accountable to explain their votes if they don't appear to make sense

I'm not going to call anyone "wrong" for voting in a certain manner... we're all entitled to our opinions... but the fact of the matter is that a Hall of Fame nomination is about much more than pride and a plaque in Cooperstown.  It's affects the livelihood of men and that means there probably should be some internal controls in place to ensure that every vote is cast in a manner that is consistent and defendable.  With all due respect to Jacque Jones, his vote could have cost someone a Hall of Fame vote and that, to me, is deplorable.  The fact that JT Snow got two votes makes me wish I had not ate lunch.  I would love to see a panel in place that could review inconsistent ballots and question voters before the vote becomes final... if a voter is not voting in accordance with the guidelines and qualifications (sorry, Dan Le Batard, your Deadspin vote goes against what we're asking you to do), that vote becomes null. 

3. The Board of Directors of the Hall of Fame should consider adding additional requirements for voter eligibility

This is an excerpt from the BBWAA website which talks about who votes for the Hall of Fame:

How is the pool of Hall of Fame voters different?
In order to be eligible for a Hall of Fame vote, a writer must be an active member of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years. Once a writer receives a Hall of Fame vote, he is eligible to continue voting even when he is no longer an active member of the BBWAA, provided he becomes a lifetime honorary member.
Does that mean some Hall of Fame voters don’t even cover baseball any more?
Yes. The BBWAA trusts that its voters take their responsibility seriously, and even those honorary members who are no longer covering baseball do their due diligence to produce a thoughtful ballot.
So, by their own admission, Hall of Fame voters might not even cover baseball any more... they could be old curmudgeons that have no interest in today's game.  That's a light hearted comment... I'm not saying that someone like me deserves a vote over said curmudgeon but what I am saying is that a voter should really be forced to actually have given a damn about the players they're voting for.  The voters should still be of sound mind and in tune with the game.

To further emphasize this point, I present to you Murray Chass... Chass was apparently ready to give up his vote but decided to keep it to spite Rob Neyer, Craig Calcaterra and  the reader who questioned his voting philosophy (maybe that curmudgeon comment wasn't too far off base).  If that doesn't make you question to quality of the person voting for the award, I don't know what will.  Maybe Rob Maadi.  I poked fun at Rob Maaddi, who is one of the Philadelphia writers that votes for the Hall of Fame, asking him where I could read his baseball articles.  The thing is, I can only find seven articles that Rob has written about baseball since mid-August.  Over that same stretch, I count 53 articles that he has written about football.  I'm not saying a Hall of Fame voter should be dedicated 100% to baseball but we're talking about something that was once considered the most sacred recognition in all of sports. The Hall of Fame still means something to me and if you're reading this, it likely means something to you.  I believe that the Hall of Fame would be better served awarding votes to the best 250 writers, bloggers, activists, statisticians and historians than to long-standing members of the BBWAA and ex-members.

1 comment:

  1. I think also there should be a limit on the number of voters. Pick a number and drop voters who no longer cover baseball.

    I also would like to see the ballots. I don't think I need to get an explanation on how they voted, just who they voted for.


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