Why the 2015 Hall of Fame Ballot is Very Interesting

We were recently asked to submit our recommendations for the official 2014 Baseball Bloggers Alliance Hall of Fame ballot.  The exercise of voting is painstaking, to say the least, and I'm not sure we ever reached a consensus, which is one of the reasons why I believe that this year's official voting results, which will be announced tomorrow, could be very interesting.

In this post, I'll start out by expanding upon why I think the ballot is so interesting and then I'll wrap it up by (begrudgingly) giving you our FBJ picks.

Why this ballot is so intriguing

Forget Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire for a moment... we understand why they won't get in and we'll be looking at their support trends like everyone else... the rest of the ballot is chock full of guys that probably deserve to be in - and normally would - as well as one guy that clearly stands out as a shoe-in first ballot Hall of Famer who should end up with one of the strongest support tallies in history.  

Looking at all the names and scenarios, the ballot, in my opinion, could go one of three ways.  Let me start with what I feel is the most likely outcome:  

1. We could have one and only one new member in Cooperstown.  

The first ballot shoe-in, of course, would be Greg Maddux.  Maddux, the four-time Cy winner is a top 10 all-time pitcher - arguably top 5.  He could have his own wing in the building at Cooperstown someday, and rightfully so.  The Professor dazzled opposing hitters for 23 years, finishing his decorated career with 355 wins in an era where wins meant something... where winning 20 games per year and 300 over the course of a career truly started mattered (Maddux himself only had two 20-win seasons; nine seasons with 18 or more).  The only question with regards to Maddux is whether he can eclipse the high water mark of 98.83% set by Tom Seaver in 1992 who earned 425 of a possible 430 votes.  If he doesn't get in, there will be burning pitchforks.

2. We could have one first ballot (see above), one final ballot entrant and two (or three) stragglers

This is probably a long shot, at best, but this is the 15th and final year that Jack Morris will be eligible for consideration and, typically, a player receives extra support in his final year on the ballot.  Recently, Dale Murphy's approval jumped from 14.5% to 18.6% in his final year while Jim Rice jumped from 72.2% to 76.4% in his year of enshrinement.  Morris would have to realize a much greater increase than Rice did in terms of support to get over the hump (he received  67.7% approval last year) but consider this, Gil Hodges is the only player to have received better than 50% support not in the Hall of Fame (Jim Bunning and a couple others were elected by the Veteran's Committee but they're in, nonetheless).  While I don't think Morris gets voted in, I wouldn't surprised to see a plaque bearing his likeness in Cooperstown someday.  

But if Morris gets in, I think that means the voters would be hard pressed to look at their ballot and not select Craig Biggio... and if they select Biggio, they're probably selecting Jeff Bagewell, as well.  The sluggers who are on the ballot for the second time deserve to go in, hand in hand.

Lastly, Mike Piazza is another interesting "second-go-round" name that remains on the ballot... the "no doubt about it" Hall of Famer received 57.8%, a number discounted by sheer skepticism among voters that he took performance enhancing drugs.  Again, if the dominoes start falling, maybe Piazza squeaks in.

3. We could have two (or three) first ballots and a few stragglers

It would be ludicrous to think that the BBWAA would approve a bunch of guys solely because it's the right thing to do but Tom Glavine is a 300 game winner (perhaps one of the last we'll ever see) and Frank Thomas ranks fourteenth all-time in career OPS - better than Mel Ott, Ty Cobb and Willie Mays, just to name a few.  The Big Hurt was a tremendous, larger than life slugger and Glavine was about as consistent as they came during his 22 year career and there is no doubt in my mind that they belong in Cooperstown, however, I have my doubts that the BBWAA will select either of these guys because of the whole first-ballot stigma and because the BBWAA rarely selects more than two players in any given year but, again, it's crazy to suggest that either of these guys don't belong in Cooperstown.

And if the BBWAA is feeling especially generous, maybe they open up the flood gates and stop clogging the ballot with should-be Hall of Famers, which is probably what they need to do.  While the Hall of Fame is a bit watered down, it's hard to argue with the statment that there are worse names already in Cooperstown than Tim Raines, Jack Morris and Alan Trammell.  The longer those guys hand around the ballot, the less likely is is that we'll ever see support for the Jeff Kent's of the world.

Our Ballot...

We decided to go with the three first-ballot names - Maddux, Glavine and Thomas - and I'm really not happy about it.  Looking at the list of first ballot Hall of Famers (and snubs... Eddie Mathews), I'm not sure Glavine or Thomas really measures up.  I felt like Biggio and Bagwell were Hall of Famers last year and I still think so but how can you say "no" to Frank Thomas and "yes" to Craig Biggio?

I'm going to go on record saying that I think Maddux is the only guy that gets in.  Admittedly, we've debated a lot of names on this ballot already -  Jack Morris, Tim Raines and Curt Schilling, to name a few and I feel like each of those guys deserves greater consideration but in a year where you've got three "no doubt about it" Hall of Famers, it's really tough to apply rational logic to a vote. 

Further, I think that this BBWAA is more cynical than it has been in the past, as evidenced by zero selections in 2013.  If they don't put Glavine and Thomas on the same tier as Maddux, forcing both of those guys to wait... IF that holds true, I don't see how anyone could ever say "no" to Glavine because it's his first time while saying "yes" to Jack Morris, meaning Morris will have to wait for the Veteran's Committee to elect him in. 

And at the end of the day, we'll see why having zero enshrinements in 2013 was so painful... the ballot is clearly clogged and unfortunately, I don't see how things are going to get better before they get worse.  


  1. I've heard there's some writers who sent in empty ballots, which could mean Seaver's record could still stand. I don't understand how they could not vote for someone on this ballot. I'm hoping at least 3 get in.

  2. Dodgers beat reporter, Ken Gurnick, said he won't vote for anyone that played during the steroid era... so Maddux won't be unanimous but he could push Seaver's mark. I see Gurnick's logic but I don't necessarily agree with it. I'd probably vote for everyone rather than no one but the alternative to either of these voting methods is to arbitrarily pick guys that you think didn't use without the absence of proof. To me, that is sort of flawed. You don't know if Mike Piazza used... you don't know if Jeff Bagwell used... we are pretty sure that a few guys did but without the evidence of a positive test, what do you have to go by? Rumors and second-hand accusations/accounts... we've talked about this at length.

    Just read something that Maddux had 99.4% of the 155 submitted ballots as of yesterday... that's one "nay" and 154 "yea."

  3. Things don't get any easier next year... you can add Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Carlos Delgado and Gary Sheffield to the list of holdovers. Biggio, Piazza and Bagwell all earned better than 50% support. Clemens, Bonds, Sosa, Kent, Schilling... there are just wayy too many worthy names on this list. The 10 name limit is going to really come into play.

  4. Palmeiro is now off the ballot and Sosa is getting closer to being off. McGwire next?


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