2017 Election: Inside the Numbers

Patrick did a great rapid reaction column yesterday and hit on all the major takeaways from yesterday’s results. Today, I want to take a look at some other important numbers.

7 — For the second straight year Mussina’s pre-results vote total as tabulated by Ryan Thibodaux fell by just over 7%. In 2015, it dropped 7.3 points and this year it dropped 7.2 point. This seems like a pattern and gives us a number to keep in mind during future years when looking at Mussina’s pre-results total.

42.1 — The percentage of private ballots Mussina was named on. I think this is concerning. Only Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens had a bigger discrepancy between public and private voters. Mussina doesn’t have their PED baggage, so if we remove that from the picture he is the player on the ballot with the largest diversity of opinion among voters. Public voters with columns and Twitter accounts are willing to back him at a rate of nearly 6 out of 10, but private voters will only back him at a rate that’s a third less. Now that Tim Raines is in the hall of fame I hope the SABR community rallies to Mussina and helps educate the 58% of private voters who don’t think Mussina deserves their vote.

33 — The number of new votes for Mussina among returning voters who made their votes public. Only Edgar Martinez had more.

8 — The number of voters who dropped Mussina from their ballots. There is no unifying theme that explains a majority of these drops. Flip Bondy appears to have dropped him to add Tim Raines and have room to vote for the three big newcomers: Rodriguez, Vlad, and Manny. Tim Colinshaw swapped Mussina for Jeff Kent. Others like Paul Daugherty appear to reevaluate their ballot anew each year. After thinking Trevor Hoffman was a first ballot player last year, Daugherty dropped Hoffman and Mussina to add Gary Sheffield and Ivan Rodriguez. Bob Herzog also voted for Sheffield and added Sammy Sosa, while dropping Mussina and Billy Wagner. Kevin Kernan dropped three players from his 2016 ballot, including Mussina, and voted for four other players he did not have on his 2016 ballot (he also posted his ballot to Instagram, which might be a first). There isn’t enough of a pattern with these to make any conclusions. All we know is that these eight voters have thought Mussina hall worthy in the recent past. We hope they vote for him again.

4 — The number of players with more than 5% on this year’s ballot who will not appear on 2018’s. While we had three players elected this year it was also the swan song for Lee Smith‘s HOF chances (until he hits the veteran’s committee). Smith finished his 15th year on the ballot with 85 votes, good for 32.2%. It was an utterly bizarre ballot journey for the former reliever. He started at 42.3% in 2002, dropped into the 30s for a few years, rose very slowly in the second half of the 2000s, and topped out at over 50% in 2012. When the ballot got really crowded in 2014 he dropped below 30% and never recovered. Nearly all of his voters already vote for Trevor Hoffman, hopefully, some of them will turn to Mussina in 2018.

11 — The number of first-time voters, out of 14, that cast votes for Mussina. As we’ve mentioned before this is an encouraging trend because it means incoming voter classes will only add to Mussina’s support, rather than threaten it. In 2016, he was 9 out of 10 with first-time voters. These newer voters demonstrated a slightly different view of the hall than many other voters. All 14 of them voted for Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines, while 13 cast ballots for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Ivan Rodriguez. They are also pulling down Trevor Hoffman who was named on only 8 of their ballots. This is another important trend to watch next year.

2 – The number of surefire candidates joining the ballot next year. I’m talking about Chipper Jones and Jim Thome. Chipper has everything voters love including a batting title, MVP, and postseason success. Along with Mantle and Eddie Murray, he’s one of the three greatest switch-hitters in baseball history. He’s going to sail in. I think Jim Thome is a similar slam dunk. He’s one of only seven players with 600 HRs and has a 147 adjusted OPS+. He was also never associated with PEDs. His career is much like Jeff Bagwell’s. On the other hand, he never came close to winning an MVP award (his best finish was 4th) and he was rarely considered the best hitter in baseball. Some voters may hold this against him the same why they hold not winning a Cy Young Award against Mussina.

0 — The number of private ballots there will be next year. The BBWAA voted to make all ballots public starting in 2018. One week after the 2018 announcement, they will all be posted on the BBWAA website. We don’t know how or if this will affect voting patterns. We saw two writers this year unafraid to admit they voted for no one. A few other’s submitted ballots with only two players seemingly chosen at random. We will have to wait and see.

Leave a Reply