Ballot Check in #5: We Approach the Edge of Knowledge

Since our last check-in, Ryan Thibodaux has collected 25 more ballots.  These voters have largely reflected a different thought process about the Hall of Fame than most of the prior 164 voters. For example, blogger Murray Chass wrote on Sunday that he submitted a blank ballot. This trend has reduced the percentages of nearly every player on the ballot and given a hit to the optimism of seeing five players elected this year. Here are our positives and negatives with one week until the official announcement.

Positives

Mike Mussina is at 60.8%. This is nine percentage points ahead of where Mussina was last year through 189 ballots. Mussina has gained 23 new votes this year, but has been removed from the ballots of 8 voters (we’ll write about these “dropped votes” in a future column once the voting is complete). I continue to think 50% is a best case scenario, but think the high-40s is in play.

Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines continue to look like good bets for election. Raines is now polling at a higher percentage than Bagwell. This is Raines’ last year on the ballot.

Trevor Hoffman is one of the few players on the ballot who had a good week. He’s picked up a net of 17 new votes. He needs about 38 new votes to get elected this year. With approximately 56% of the votes yet to be counted, he has a good chance to get elected. As we’ve written before, Hoffman is one of only a couple of players who do better on the private ballots than public ballots. Last year Hoffman was named on 69.2% of the private ballots versus 63.5% of public ballots.

Negatives

Pudge Rodriguez did not have a good week. He lost four percentage points because, as I mentioned above, this latest crop of voters is much more hesitant to use their full ballot and vote for anyone they suspect of having used PEDs. Since I suspect this is the trend among those who haven’t published their ballots yet (or won’t publish them at all), I think Pudge’s percentage will continue to slide. I don’t think he gets elected.

Vladimir Guerrero continues to hang around the 75% threshold — he’s at 74.6%. I continue to think he will have to wait one more year. If he’s above 70%, I think he’s a lock to get elected in 2018.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens did not have a good week either. Their numbers continue to drop and there’s now a good chance both of them finish between 50 and 55%. This will mean they will still have quite a a lot to overcome to get to 75%. The entrenched dislike of them from voters will be difficult to change and they may remain stuck in the 55% to 75% range for their next four years on the ballot. I think my early optimism about changing voter sentiments for Bonds and Clemens was premature. I think they both get elected still but not until their final year of eligibility.

Links of the Week

This probably deserves a longer write-up that I’ll leave for Patrick, but Mussina recently talked to CBS New York about the Hall of Fame, his life in retirement, and coaching his son’s high school basketball team.

Mark Townsend of Yahoo! Sports examined if Moose was a hall of fame player. Townsend and the three other Yahoo! columnists he talked to for the piece agree that Mussina belongs in Cooperstown.

CBS Sports also wrote about Mussina’s chances to make the Hall of Fame. R.J. Anderson concludes the piece with a paragraph that makes our hearts flutter.

Does Mussina deserve enshrinement? Absolutely. He’s better than the baseline of the pitchers already in the Hall of Fame, and his quantity of quality seasons should help obscure that he was never undoubtedly the best pitcher in any given season. Small-Hall voters might object, but Mussina will get in eventually — just not this year.

Steven Simineri of NY Sports Day wrote about Mussina’s improving prospects for election.

Finally, Mussina was MLB’s Player of the Day on 1/6. The MLB Stat of the Day account tweeted a number of Mussina facts and statistics. This one is my favorite:

 

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