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Thursday, December 19, 2019

Top 25 Baseball Stories of the Decade — No. 20: The Hall of Fame Logjam

Hall of Fame voting is pretty simple. Each year the Hall releases its ballot of candidates to the eligible voters from the Baseball Writers Association of America. The voters can pick up to ten candidates on their ballot. Any candidates who get 75% or more of the vote are elected. Candidates who get less than 5% of the vote fall off. Candidates who get more than 5% of the vote but less than 75% of the vote can stay on the ballot until they either get elected, fall below 5%, or appear on ballots for ten years without election (it used to be 15 years). If they haven’t been elected in that time they are done, unless the Veterans Committee puts them in later.

The system is designed to furnish new names on the ballot at more or less the same rate that old names fall off the ballot, giving voters similarly-sized pools to vote on each year. The ballot thresholds — 5% for falling off and 75% for induction — are designed to get the very, very deserving and the very, very undeserving cleared off the ballot quickly in order to keep the ballot from getting clogged up. As baseball history progresses, Hall of Fame voting is supposed to, at least roughly, track baseball history, lagging by about five years due to the post-retirement waiting period until guys become eligible.

In the early 2010s, however, it appeared as if this system was going to break down. The reason? Performance enhancing drugs.

The “Steroid Era” of the 1990s and 2000s began to wind down on the field — at least ostensibly — due to the release of The Mitchell Report in late 2007 and the subsequent strengthening of drug testing in its wake. Around this same time, and in the few years just after, the players most prominently associated with the Steroid Era retired. Soon they would be hitting the Hall of Fame ballot.

A take on the last decade in Hall of Fame history- any thoughts that the rest of you may have on the arguments made here?

 

QLE Posted: December 19, 2019 at 01:17 AM | 9 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bbwaa, hall of fame

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Starring RMc as Bradley Scotchman Posted: December 19, 2019 at 01:55 PM (#5909986)
Mark McGwire — a guy most considered to be a shoe-in for election while he played


It's shoo-in.
   2. bbmck Posted: December 19, 2019 at 06:43 PM (#5910066)
The biggest problem with the "logjam" is not knowing the what-if because there is limited data on who would have gotten additional votes with unlimited ballots. Career OPS+ under 130, 40% of games at one of the OF positions and 50+ career WAR, Richie Ashburn is the 8th player to retire meeting those criteria in 1962 and then starting with the 1981 ballot it happens pretty often:

1981 - Vada Pinson 4.5%, his 5th time on the ballot he finally breaks 5% and peaks at 15.7%
1983 - Jim Wynn no votes
1985 - Willie Davis left off ballot
1987 - Bobby Bonds 5.8%, peaks at 10.6% and drops off after 11 ballots
1992 - Cesar Cedeno 0.5%

1994 - Jose Cruz 0.4%
1996 - Fred Lynn 5.5%, 2nd and final ballot 4.7%
1996 - Chet Lemon 0.2%
1997 - Dwight Evans 5.9%, followed by 10.4% and 3.6%
1999 - Robin Yount 77.5% with 3142 Hits and also very prominently a SS

2001 - Kirby Puckett 82.1% with .318 BA and career ending injury
2002 - Andre Dawson 45.3%, elected 9th ballot with MVP 1-2-2 and signing the blank contract
2008 - Tim Raines 24.3%, elected 10th ballot, the best basis for Lofton logjam, how are 7 of 8 first ballot Raines voters not first ballot Lofton voters
2009 - Rickey Henderson 94.8%, Corky and 27 others leave him off, Raines and Lofton would logically be the most affected by being not Rickey!
2013 - Kenny Lofton 3.2%, 18 players combine for just under 6.5 ballot spots per voter, Bernie Williams 2 and done with 19 votes, Lofton 18 and Sandy Alomar 16 with 29 needed to stay on the ballot

2013 - Sammy Sosa 12.5%, his best result to date, this year is his 8th ballot, not going to be considered a light hitting OF even though he's light on career value with the bat for a HoF outfielder
2014 - Luis Gonzalez 0.9%, 22 players combine for 8.4 ballot spots per voter, Luis 5 votes or Moises Alou and Hideo Nomo with 6 each still have a hard time proving they would have otherwise gotten 29+ votes
2018 - Andruw Jones 7.3%, followed by 7.5% and 3rd ballot this year, very different career shape and late career body shape, not all that similar to Lofton even if they have similar career stats
2018 - Johnny Damon 1.9%, 19 players combine for 8.4 ballot spots per voter, Damon 8 of 22 votes, Jamie Moyer and Johan Santana with 10 each, better case that a logjam pushed them off than the 2014 trio
2020 - Bobby Abreu 2 of 39, on pace to stay on the ballot

So the big story of the logjam is that players that wouldn't have been elected missed out on the honor of getting more years of minimal ballot support which may be losing significance with Committee voting with the elections of Harold Baines and Ted Simmons. If all of Lofton's votes came from people who didn't vote for Bonds or Clemens he's still barely over 5% support among those ~350 voters and among voters who endeavor to keep PEDs out of the HoF not voting for Lofton is pretty frequently a rejection of his HoF case as opposed to running out of room.

Dave Parker, Jim Rice, Lou Brock, Dale Murphy and others left off the list because of being under 50 WAR while being more viable HoF candidates than some of the players above 50 WAR.
   3. Rally Posted: December 19, 2019 at 07:03 PM (#5910067)
McGwire was only a shoo-in his last 4 years. He had 387 homers entering his age 34 season. If he had suffered another big injury there he’s a could have been, great power hitter but did too little otherwise and lost too much time. He passed the 400 (and 450) homer levels in 98, set the record, and next year passed 500. Sometime in there he was considered an active future HOFer, but 2 injury shortened years later he was done. Then people started to care about steroids so he wasn’t.
   4. The Duke Posted: December 19, 2019 at 10:35 PM (#5910095)
There’s virtually no no-brainers that have been left off with the exception of people like Rose or PED guys. The writers have done a great job over the years. The real issue has been the vets committees and their biggest issue has been putting in less than perfect candidates. It does seem to me that the Modern Era has at least 5 more people but all of them have warts.

The logjam really worked in reverse in that it forced the writers to really get the deserved in. So much so that we are down to only 1 or 2 inductees a year for the foreseeable future.

   5. Red Voodooin Posted: December 20, 2019 at 12:15 AM (#5910105)
There’s virtually no no-brainers that have been left off with the exception of people like Rose or PED guys.The writers have done a great job over the years.


Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, the play was great, right?
   6. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: December 20, 2019 at 12:33 AM (#5910109)
There’s virtually no no-brainers that have been left off with the exception of people like Rose or PED guys.


Not sure what you consider a no-brainer, but there are a slew of 70 WAR guys left out by the writers. Mize, Trammell, Vaughan, Santo, Whitaker. Scott Rolen is doubtful. Walker's not there yet. It took Blyleven 14 tries.
   7. BrianBrianson Posted: December 20, 2019 at 05:22 AM (#5910112)
Well, that, and who is or isn't a PED guy is determined entirely by the casting of bones and the examination of chicken entrails.
   8. TJ Posted: December 20, 2019 at 07:14 AM (#5910114)
The BBWAA has done a great job of choosing players for induction that any 400 knowledgeable fans sitting in a Buffalo Wild Wings could have chosen.

Being able to effectively pick the lowest hanging fruit is not proof of baseball HOF expertise.
   9. John DiFool2 Posted: December 20, 2019 at 07:36 AM (#5910116)
Note it was the 2013 flustercluck which brought all of these concurrent trends to a head:

https://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/hof_2013.shtml#all_hof_Veterans

The collision of an increasingly overcrowded ballot combined with the anti-steroid movement. 8 players on that ballot eventually got elected, and 8 more have JAWS scores above 50. That's historically staggering I'd imagine, and before this decade almost certainly unprecedented.

To their credit the voters realized that they had to make their ballots a bit more liberal and inclusive.

RTFA: there was another logjam in the late 40's.

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