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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pollis: 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame Vote: How Much Do BBWAA’s Secret Ballots Matter?

Pollis as poll doesn’t do.

lp

...This year, after the BBWAA announced that it had failed to elect anyone from the most loaded ballot of my lifetime, I sat down with the BBWAA’s official list of publicly released ballots (as of Wednesday evening the BBWAA had 102 listed; Repoz’ and leokitty’s lists have more, but Repoz does not list individual ballots and not all of leokitty’s ballots are confirmed as complete) in hopes of finding that something had changed. With so many complex issues on this year’s ballot—steroids, the existence of more than 10 reasonable choices, the steady momentum in support we’ve seen for some longtime candidates—I thought perhaps putting one’s name on his or her ballot wouldn’t have as big of an impact.

Boy, was I wrong. Regardless of the voters’ individual motives for remaining anonymous, as a group those who were willing to put their names on their ballots came to very different conclusions about this year’s candidates than those who voted in secret.

Before I get carried away, I should say that the secret ballots did not ultimately change the outcome of the election. Those voters who made their choices public would not have elected anyone either, nor would they have saved any of the 19 candidates who did not reach the five percent threshold to stay on the ballot. But while it may not have mattered in a fatalistic sense, the impact that the option of anonymity has on writers’ choices actually got much bigger.

Repoz Posted: January 10, 2013 at 01:33 PM | 27 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hof

Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: January 10, 2013 at 02:01 PM (#4344228)
It was discussed yesterday, but worth repeating: Other than Larry Walker, the anonymous voters pretty much shat on the candidates favored by the analytical crowd.
   2. depletion Posted: January 10, 2013 at 02:08 PM (#4344238)
The National Baseball Hall of Fame is a sacred place to all those who love our national pastime,

...and is a privately held entity not controlled by MLB or anyone else. If you don't like the sermon, go to the church down the street, or build your own Hall of Merit in Hoboken near the old coffee factory.
Kind of bothers me that the author doesn't give the sample sizes. I guess I could go look them up.
   3. homerwannabee Posted: January 10, 2013 at 03:31 PM (#4344337)
It's kind of interesting how more writers publicly are willing to vote for Bonds, and Clemens. For Bonds and Clemens this is actually a good sign. It shows that the more vociferous members of the Hall are more inclined to vote for Bonds, and Clemens. This means that I believe over time the Bonds and Clemens should go into the Hall group will eventually nag the other voters into eventually voting for these guys.
   4. John Northey Posted: January 10, 2013 at 03:34 PM (#4344342)
So the cowardly voters love Morris, Smith, McGriff and Mattingly but hate Bagwell, Raines, Clemens, and Bonds. Of those two groups of 4 I know which I'd rather see in the HOF as the strongest of the cowardly writers is weaker than the worst of the guys who still have a job.
   5. SoSH U at work Posted: January 10, 2013 at 03:44 PM (#4344355)
So the cowardly voters love Morris, Smith, McGriff and Mattingly but hate Bagwell, Raines, Clemens, and Bonds.


I think we need to be careful about what kind of conclusions to draw from the public/private split. I think it's just as likely that the greater support for Morris, Smith, McGriff and Mattingly among the non-public voters is because those guys are less likely to have a forum (either because they're retired or not writing any longer) than becuase they're afraid of sharing their votes.
   6. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 10, 2013 at 03:51 PM (#4344361)
Who was the brave soul that thought Aaron Sele was a Hall of Famer?
   7. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 10, 2013 at 04:09 PM (#4344375)
This means that I believe over time the Bonds and Clemens should go into the Hall group will eventually nag the other voters into eventually voting for these guys.


I believe that none of the "confirmed" steroids users (Clemens, Bonds, etc.) will go in, ever, or at least not for several years. (The Bagwells and Piazzas will have an easier time and may get in after a few years - or may not.) And at this point the Hall should not wait around for a collection of dishonest faux moralistic halfwits to judge better men than them. The Hall should act to instruct voters to disregard steroids as an issue -- and then pull the voting privileges of any voter who is stupid enough to confess that he considered the steroids issue and withheld votes because of it. And there will be many such voters who will fall on their swords. And it will be good riddance to them. The Hall does not need shameful people to be part of this process.

If morality is what we are judging -- if fairness and honesty and cheating is what we are judging -- than the morally bankrupt voters can't hold the jocks of the steroids players. Roger Clemens has more honor on this issue than the Mike Lupicas of the world ever will. Clemens doesn't need a plaque in Cooperstown to have honor. But Cooperstown needs Clemens.
   8. OCF Posted: January 10, 2013 at 04:18 PM (#4344385)
Other than Larry Walker, the anonymous voters pretty much shat on the candidates favored by the analytical crowd.

Larry Walker has a lifetime BA of .313. He won an MVP. He led the league in HR the year he won the MVP.

The full "stathead" response to Larry Walker can't be summed up in one sentence. Yes, those offensive stats are Coors-inflated. But we can deal with that, quantitatively. And while what's left after we do that wouldn't be quite enough if he were the defensive equivalent of Willie Stargell, we then put back in that he was an excellent defensive outfielder, and we note that he had significant value in his Montreal years, too. In all, that's a complicated, nuanced position - hard to simplify.

There are a lot of ways of oversimplifying Larry Walker, and if you want to account for "secret" voters going for him you probably don't need to look any further than the BA.
   9. AROM Posted: January 10, 2013 at 04:23 PM (#4344392)
Other than Larry Walker, the anonymous voters pretty much shat on the candidates favored by the analytical crowd.


Serves those statgeeks right. Who are they to try and tell us Craig Biggio's 3000 hits is supposed to mean something more than Jack Morris's will to win? Back in my day we didn't even know for sure how many hits Sam Rice had.
   10. MelOtt4 Posted: January 10, 2013 at 04:23 PM (#4344393)
More private ballots for Mark McGwire is a surprise.

Who exactly are the Lee Smith voters?
   11. BDC Posted: January 10, 2013 at 04:26 PM (#4344394)
Who was the brave soul that thought Aaron Sele was a Hall of Famer?

There should be a Deshaies Award for least-likely garnering of HOF votes. I will say that Aaron Sele's curveball was a thing of beauty: an old-fashioned overhand drop, with outstanding change of speed from his other stuff. If you were looking fastball when he threw it, you were looking silly in the bargain. His problems came when you were looking fastball and he actually threw a fastball. I reckon his #1 fan was honoring the aesthetics of that pitch.
   12. BDC Posted: January 10, 2013 at 04:29 PM (#4344399)
Who exactly are the Lee Smith voters?

I'd imagine there are voters who look at Fingers, Sutter, Eckersley, and Gossage and figure that Smith was either better, or at least not very far off the range that makes you a bullpen HOFer. They have a certain point, though this is a situation where the if-then argument entails some very big "ifs," and even at that one might wonder why Smith would be a priority with so many better cases on the ballot.
   13. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 10, 2013 at 04:42 PM (#4344416)
Joe Sheehan in his newsletter:

It is, when you think about it, the perfect Hall of Fame weekend for a year in which the writers made baseball's greatest honor not about the players, but about themselves. In late July, the Hall will honor one more living writer, J.G. Spink Award winner Tom Hagen, than it will living players.
   14. Walt Davis Posted: January 10, 2013 at 04:48 PM (#4344422)
The only public ballots he used were the 101 listed on the BBWAA site. He didn't use the 194 that Repoz collected as his base which he probably should have. (Ideally you would use the union of the two but, as he notes, Repoz doesn't explicitly list individual voters so you don't know if some are counted in both) The "secret" vote was closer to the Repoz totals I think. Certainly B/C/B/B weren't nearly as high in Repoz's count.
   15. Repoz Posted: January 10, 2013 at 04:48 PM (#4344425)
Who exactly are the Lee Smith voters?

Nearly all the anti-reliever old-old coots are dead (Hi Siwoff!). The non-anti-reliever merely old coots have taken over the non-public back end votes and are doing the heavy lifting for Smith.

Younger-ish saber-voters keep his early vote down every year.
   16. Walt Davis Posted: January 10, 2013 at 04:52 PM (#4344429)
the impact that the option of anonymity has on writers’ choices actually got much bigger.

This seems a completely unwarranted statement. Repoz's ballots are ones which were published in some actual public forum prior to the day -- newspaper, twitter, etc. -- not just listed on the BBWAA website on the day of the vote. Many of the votes labelled "secret" here were in fact very, very public.

   17. OsunaSakata Posted: January 10, 2013 at 04:52 PM (#4344430)
Who exactly are the Lee Smith voters?


The strongest arguments are the simplest ones. For Lee Smith it's "Held the Career Saves mark for 13 years". For Jack Morris it's "Most Wins in the 1980s".

The argument against Jack Morris is "3.90 lifetime ERA would be the highest in the Hall of Fame". What is the argument against Lee Smith? "Not even the best Smith not in the Hall"?

BBRef Career WAR
Reggie Smith 60.8
Mike Smith 40.2 (19th century player)
Lonnie Smith 36.3
Lee Smith 27.6

Also:
Andy Messersmith 37.7
   18. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: January 10, 2013 at 05:05 PM (#4344441)
It is, when you think about it, the perfect Hall of Fame weekend for a year in which the writers made baseball's greatest honor not about the players, but about themselves. In late July, the Hall will honor one more living writer, J.G. Spink Award winner Tom Hagen, than it will living players.


It would be interesting to see how many columns Hagen (isn't it Paul by the way?) wrote about steroids in the late-90s. In fairness to Hagen this from the USA Today;


His (Hagen's) eight-man ballot included Bonds and Clemens.

"If I knew definitively who used steroids and who didn't, I would not vote for candidates who did," says Hagen. "But I don't. Nobody else does, either. And I'm not going to turn my ballot into a guessing game. Further, the integrity clause is only one of the criteria listed, one that not all current Hall of Famers have been held to."
   19. The District Attorney Posted: January 10, 2013 at 05:48 PM (#4344488)
It would be interesting to see how many columns Hagen (isn't it Paul by the way?) wrote about steroids in the late-90s.
"Right now we have the greenies and we have the sheep's testicles extract, and those are the best things to have. But steroids are a thing of the future. If we don't get a piece of that action, we risk everything we have. Not now, but ten years from now."
   20. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 10, 2013 at 06:44 PM (#4344538)
. . . the Hall will honor one more living writer, J.G. Spink Award winner Tom Hagen, than it will living players.

That's too bad but the BBWAA will say that it is business not personal.

   21. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 10, 2013 at 06:50 PM (#4344546)
That's too bad but the BBWAA will say that it is business not personal.


It's not personal? The writers are acting as if they're Kim Kardashian and found out that Ray J was cheating on them.
   22. Famous Original Joe C Posted: January 10, 2013 at 06:52 PM (#4344547)
It's not personal? The writers are acting as if they're Kim Kardashian and found out that Ray J was cheating on them.


Apparently the Godfather movies haven't been loaded onto Ray's memory chip yet.
   23. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 10, 2013 at 06:59 PM (#4344549)
"Roger, you broke my heart."
   24. Good cripple hitter Posted: January 10, 2013 at 07:37 PM (#4344575)
There should be a Deshaies Award for least-likely garnering of HOF votes. I will say that Aaron Sele's curveball was a thing of beauty: an old-fashioned overhand drop, with outstanding change of speed from his other stuff. If you were looking fastball when he threw it, you were looking silly in the bargain. His problems came when you were looking fastball and he actually threw a fastball. I reckon his #1 fan was honoring the aesthetics of that pitch.


My guess is it's the "Tinker to Evers to Chance" precedent applied to "Sele, Helling, then a shelling".
   25. Dale Sams Posted: January 11, 2013 at 02:35 AM (#4344782)
Would I be accurate in saying Morris wasn't even the best pitcher on his own team in any of the three WS he played in? Regular season.
   26. Cooper Nielson Posted: January 11, 2013 at 03:01 AM (#4344789)
Would I be accurate in saying Morris wasn't even the best pitcher on his own team in any of the three WS he played in? Regular season.

He certainly was never the best pitcher on the Blue Jays (though he did lead them in wins in 1992).

In 1991, he was probably the second or third-best pitcher on the Twins, depending on how much you value innings.

Dan Petry had a slightly better year in 1984 (and Willie Hernandez was great), but Morris was sorta the "reigning" best pitcher on the Tigers (and was the best in 1983 and 1985) so I can understand that argument there.
   27. beer on a stick Posted: January 13, 2013 at 05:39 PM (#4346342)
Who was the brave soul that thought Aaron Sele was a Hall of Famer?


Salmon P. Chase?

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