January 8, 2002
2002 Internet Hall Of Fame Results
Your picks for the STATLG-L Hall of FameAnyone want to guess which Web site will use the headline "Mr. Smith Goes to Cooperstown" after the BBWAA Hall of Fame results are announced on Tuesday? It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that first-time eligible Ozzie Smith will be elected by the writers. The big question is whether any of the other 27 players on the ballot will garner enough votes to earn a plaque at the Hall.
If the baseball writers vote like our STATLG-L Hall of Fame participants did this year, one more player just might make the grade. I am pleased to announce that catcher Gary Carter just squeezed over the STATLG-L bar, joining the Wizard as our choice for enshrinement in Cooperstown.
Reach the 75% plateau for election to the Hall required 1,911 votes. This year's total of 2,548 ballots was more than 150% above the number cast last year. As expected, Smith finished well above that mark with 2,120 votes (83.2%). Carter's vote total came to 1,936 (76.0%), a mere 25 votes above the required number. It's possible, though, that his "true" margin might have been even narrower.
I received quite a few e-mails pointing out that, contrary to the BBWAA method, our voting procedure doesn't allow for blank ballots. If 34 people who wished to cast blank ballots just didn't participate, and we could somehow account for that, then Carter wouldn't have made it (1936/2582 = 74.98%). I doubt that there would have been that many blanks, even though the average number of names per ballot was just 5.18, well below last year's 6.54, but I suppose it could happen.
I suggested to some of my correspondents that they participate by voting for one clearly-unqualified candidate (Robby Thompson, Jeff Russell, and Mike Henneman spring to mind) and no one else. Whether any of them took me up on it is unknowable, though Thompson's 11 votes might constitute some evidence. In any case, I hope we'll remember to add a "none of the above" checkbox next year.
Aside from Smith and Carter, only Bert Blyleven (63.4%, third place) was named on more than half of the ballots. Smith, Alan Trammell (31.2%, fifth place), and Andre Dawson (23.9%, eighth place) were the only first-time-eligible candidates appearing on more than a smattering of ballots. Let's hope the writers don't treat Trammell as badly as they did Lou Whitaker last year. If the writers voted like we did, the other eight newcomers won't be on next year's ballot. In addition, STATLG-L voters dropped Dave Stewart, Steve Garvey, and Dave Concepcion below the 5% mark. (Popeye is there for the third year in a row. Would that the BBWAA would take the hint.)
Looking only at the 17 players carried over from last year, Carter, Blyleven, and Goose Gossage finished in the same order both times. Bruce Sutter hopped ahead of Jim Rice this year. The next four spots were shuffled among pitchers Tommy John, Jim Kaat, Jack Morris, and Luis Tiant (that's alphabetical, and also their order in last year's voting). Keith Hernandez and Don Mattingly swapped positions behind Dale Murphy, and Ron Guidry's vote total decreased by quite a bit. Given that the number of names per ballot was relatively low, it's not surprising that only three of the holdovers (Carter, Blyleven, and Hernandez) were named on a higher percentage of this year's ballots than last year's.
Although the STATLG-L/Baseball Prospectus Internet Hall of Fame remains the only attempt to publicly replicate the BBWAA vote, I think a brief mention of CNN/SI's poll is in order. They make no attempt either to limit voters to 10 names or to discourage ballot-box stuffing. Nor do they use a simple yes/no approach, instead offering for each player a choice among "Now", "Later", and "Never". It's easy to argue that "Now" is a vote for the player and that "Never" is the decision not to select him, but I'm confused about the meaning and implications of "Later". Maybe it's a plea for the Veterans' Committee, with its historically lower standards, to let the guy in.
For what it's worth, as I write this on Sunday afternoon, only Ozzie Smith has over 75% "Now" votes in the CNN/SI poll, with Carter a distant second. By this metric, Mattingly and Garvey are in the top 10, Blyleven and Trammell aren't. Alternatively, we might combine "Now" and "Later" into a positive vote, in which case it could be argued that the poll participants want to enshrine anyone with less than 25% in the "Never" category. Under this assumption, Dawson, Carter, Gossage, Rice, and Sutter join Smith in the Hall of Fame. Mattingly would be squarely on the edge, with 25% "Never" votes.
One of the great things about running the STATLG-L Hall of Fame balloting is that even while reporting its results I can already look ahead to next year. I don't see very many of this year's newbies staying on the ballot; with Smith elected (I assume), will any aside from Dawson and perhaps Trammell draw 5% of the vote? Tiant won't be on the ballot, having completed his 15 eligible years. Guidry, Stewart, and Hernandez didn't reach double-digits in the BBWAA voting last year, so they might be on the bubble. The set of new candidates will be led by Eddie Murray, Ryne Sandberg, and Lee Smith; the voting patterns for the latter two should be particularly intriguing. Other players who finished their careers in 1997 include Fernando Valenzuela, Brett Butler, Sid Fernandez, Vince Coleman, Danny Tartabull, Tony Pena, Mickey Tettleton, Darren Daulton, Todd Worrell, Kevin Seitzer, and Greg Gagne.
Thanks to everyone who made this a record year for STATLG-L Hall of Fame balloting.
Neal Traven is the co-chair of the Statistical Analysis Committee of the
Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
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