75e94490-95d2-11e4-a39c-cf59b5ac4d4c_HallofFame2015FourFirst off, congratulations to Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and John Smoltz on their election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. They are all worthy of induction.

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


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2 thoughts on “The Long Road Ahead

  1. One more thing. If in MLB there were subtle and/or clear cut historical and modern instances of ethnic player exclusion or marginalization and it could be proven by the same numbers methodology that SABR gurus use, would you accept it then or are issues of fair play and social parity beyond the pale of baseball study? In other words, if the game is unfair in terms of equal opportunity, do you care? If not, then I’ll take it that baseball study is only about individual numbers and not team players. If you have to label the truth with bizarre political epithets, then you should question the source and the agenda behind them. Since PEDs aren’t the only thing that is wrong with the game.

    1. Hi H—

      Okay, so let’s have a serious talk about this, though I’ll state that if you’ve written a book on the subject, you likely know more than I do.

      You ask if I care if the game is “unfair in terms of equal opportunity.” Yes, I do. And yes, there may be evidence that the game is—though it seems like you’ve studied the issue more than I have. And further, yes, those issues are worthy of study.

      But, as true as all those statements are, on this particular site, those aren’t the issues I’m interested in discussing, mainly because, as I’ve stated, it’s not an area that I’m familiar with. Since you’ve written a book about it, it seems like this is something that you are invested in, and I think that’s great. And I’m sure there are people with whom you can discuss it in more detail. I’m sorry that I’m not one of those individuals. It’s just outside my area of expertise.

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