Despite having the fifth highest WAR among eligible players, voters only named Mike Mussina on 24.6% of their ballots. This gave him the 14th highest vote total. The 24.6% number is an improvement of 4.3 percentage points from last year when he finished 15th at 20.3%. Among writers who made their ballots public (about 42% of them according to Ryan Thibs), Mussina was named on 34.06% of them. This means Mussina was only named on 17.8% of the ballots from voters who did not make their votes public. This is potentially a problem. Only Tim Raines (18.75 percentage points) and Curt Schilling (17.47 points) had a higher drop-off from private to public ballots. 549 ballots were submitted this year, a decrease of 22 from last year and the lowest total since 2010 (539). The average ballot had 8.42 names on this year, the highest total since 1960. Public ballots averaged 8.88 names and non-public ballots averaged 8.1 names.
This is a potential problem because non public voters are likely to be less engaged and therefore less likely to inform themselves to the extent that they might change their minds on Moose. The majority of these writers (or retired writers) don’t have a forum to publish a column about their HOF ballot or don’t publish their ballot on Twitter (often because they don’t have Twitter). We will know more about them on Thursday, because for the first time ever the BBWAA will publish a list of who voted this year. The BBWAA will not, however, tell us what players those voters voted for.
On the other hand, it’s good that voters who have a public forum are supportive of Mussina because it means they have a platform to advocate for him. For many players, getting elected to the baseball HOF depends on the perception that other voters are supporting the candidacy of a player. This is why all but two of the players that at have crossed the 50% threshold have eventually been elected. Recently this happened to Jim Rice, Bert Blyleven, Bruce Sutter, and Goose Gossage,
The always wonderful Jay Jaffe of SI has a great column about what the next five years of HOF elections might look like. He does not see Mussina getting elected in the next five years, but hopes that he can finally make the jump in 2021. Jaffe is firmly in the Mussina camp, but acknowledges that many voters need convincing.
Patrick will be back later today or tomorrow with a discussion of what this means, for now check out this handy site that shows the HOF voters and how they voted