2018 Hall of Fame Ballot Preview: Mussina

We’ve looked at the leftovers on the 2018 ballot and the newcomers. Today’s column is about the namesake of this website: Mike Mussina.

Last season Mike Mussina earned 51.8% of the vote, a total that for the second straight year increased substantially from the prior season’s total of 43%. According to the invaluable HOF ballot tracker run by Ryan Thibodaux, Mussina flipped a net of 2‪6 voters from his 2015 total and was 12-for-15 among 1st-time voters.

These are both very good trends. Nine voters did drop him, but overall, he’s trending in the right direction.

We now consider how the new candidates may affect Mussina.

Jim Thome and Chipper Jones look certain to pull at least 80%. Right now Thome is 15/15 on ballots while Chipper is 14/15. Omar Vizquel is 7/15, Scott Rolen is 3/15, and Andruw Jones is 2/15. Vizquel’s support is right about where we pegged it.

Keep in mind that most voters have three new spots on their ballots because Ivan Rodriguez, Tim Raines, and Jeff Bagwell got elected. 34.2% of voters may have four spots because they also voted for Lee Smith last year. Smith’s eligibility is now over. We’ve seen this dynamic benefit Mussina already. Jose de Jesus Ortiz voted for Pudge, Raines, Bagwell, and Smith last year. He added Mussina to his ballot this year. These are the kind of voters Mussina can get help from: Those who voted for three or four candidates last year can add Mussina this year if, outside of the top two candidates, they don’t like the new class of players.

In general, unless you pull a Schilling, you’re going to gain voters. Last year, only Curt Schilling (-17) and Fred McGriff (-1) lost votes. So we can say with confidence that Mussina’s totals will go up.

The question is how much?

Ryan: I’m basing my math on the idea that 80% of voters have three open slots on their ballot and unless they are “small” hall guys (18.4% of the electorate voted for six or fewer players, while 51.9% vote for 10), voters will fill those slots. After Chipper and Thome, some of those open slots will go to Vizquel, some to Rolen, some to Edgar Martinez, Vlad Guerrero, and Trevor Hoffman if the voter didn’t have them already. My back of the envelope math (~80% of voters with three slots, 52% already voting for Mussina, 442 voters, and about a fourth adding Mussina to those open slots) pegs Mussina at gaining 33 votes this year. That would put him at 59%.

Patrick: I think Ryan’s a little low. I think Mussina makes it to about 60-62% I don’t have a solid mathematical basis for this. But I think we’re seeing a coalescing around candidates, especially SABR friendly ones. With Raines gone, Mussina can take his spot on the mantle. Plus, this sets up my prediction of his election next year.