Are you folks pumped about the 2016 Hall of Fame voting results? We know we are! We’ve long felt that year three was going to be the year Mike Mussina made a massive jump in the vote totals, and we were right.
Moose’s total skyrocketed from 24.6% to 43%, the biggest increase on the ballot. This bodes extremely well for his chances in future years, and has us legitimately confident that he will be elected. Here are the biggest takeaways:
- The deck is starting to clear…We’ve long posited that Mike Mussina’s candidacy was hurt by the fact that there was an unprecedented backlog of qualified candidates. Based on the 261 public votes collected so far by Ryan Thibs, we were right. Mussina saw a net gain of 36 votes among returning voters (second only to Edgar Martinez‘s 44). Clearly, he was the 11th or 12th name on a lot of ballots last year.
- But it’s not done yet…Buster Olney and Lynn Henning, both who have written they would have voted for Mussina, did not cast ballots this year because they felt there were more candidates than they had spaces for. Jayson Stark did not vote for Mussina because he did not have room. As Ryan found out on Twitter, at least one writer dropped Mussina from his ballot because he did not have room. Mussina is still getting squeezed.
- First-year voters love him…Mussina was named on eight of the nine ballots submitted by first-year voters. Compare that to Alan Trammell—who finished with 41% of the vote—but appeared on just two first-timers’ ballots. If that trend continues, it bodes well.
So now, we turn our attention to next year’s ballot, and what it could mean for Mussina:
- Three’s a crowd? Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Trevor Hoffman each narrowly missed election. At least two of the three are likely to make it next year. Bagwell (71.5%) needs just 15 votes. Raines (69.8%) needs 23, and final-year candidates tend to get a strong bump. Hoffman (67.3%) is slightly trickier. The raw number total would seem to make him a lock, but he got just five of nine votes from first-time voters, and there is a precedent for a closer to debut well and then struggle to gain (Lee Smith). My gut tells me he gets in, but I don’t think it’s a dead lock.
- New candidates an issue? There are three candidates who are interesting on next year’s ballot: Ivan Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, and Vladimir Guerrero. The trouble is, I have no idea how any of them will poll. Manny has the obvious PED suspension problem, and we don’t really have a blueprint for how voters will treat him. Rodriguez’s numbers would make him a lock, but catchers are notoriously overlooked by hall voters. Guerrero doesn’t have a lot going for him in terms of advanced stats (59 WAR), but had a .318 average, 449 home runs, and consistently polled well in the MVP race.
- Pitcher Perfect. In terms of starting pitchers, next year’s ballot shapes up great for Mike Mussina. Javier Vazquez and Tim Wakefield are the only two candidates on the ballot, and neither are anywhere remotely as good as Moose. Wakefield went 200-180 with a 4.41 ERA and a WAR of 34. Vazquez went 165-160 with a 4.22 and a WAR of 43.
Anthony Castrovince at MLB.com wrote a strong piece on the new names on next year’s ballot.