January 10, 2013
Lessons from the Hall of Fame Vote
There have been plenty of threads of analysis and a few angry fingers being pointed to explain how an immensely talented class of potential inductees failed to produce anyone who will get a plaque in Cooperstown next year. The 10-person limit on the ballot is to blame. Steroids are to blame. The vague suspicion of knowing someone who might have at some point taken steroids is to blame. Aaron Sele is to blame. People not taking the process seriously are to blame. The Tea Party (huh?) is to blame. Kirk Radomski is to blame. The difficulty of rallying 75 percent of any group of people anywhere around one definition of "famous" is to blame. Jack Morris and Tim Raines are to blame. A golfing website is to blame. Bacne is to blame. The DH is to blame. The fact that Kid Rock once "wrote" a "song" called BBWAA (or something like that) is to blame. The statheads are to blame. The dinosaurs in the media are to blame. The space aliens are to blame. Bias against first-timers is to blame. Vitamin supplements are to blame.
Okay, so mostly it's been blaming. We get it. The system is broken, and there will be a series of conversations that take place over the next few days about that. But let's drill a little deeper on the Hall of Fame voting and see what lessons we might learn from this year's Cooperstown class:
1) Expanding the ballot might not have gotten anyone elected.
As of this writing, 114 ballots (20 percent of the total) have been made public on the BBWAA website. These list an average of 7.0 names. Logically, this means that the private ballots contained an average of 6.5 names. Our public voters were a little more likely to write down an extra name, but still, there were an average of three blank spaces on each of their ballots. In addition, only one quarter (29 of the 114 public ballots) were completely full, listing 10 names. Recall that the ballots kept private had even fewer names on them. This means that there was even more extra space out there on those ballots that just went unused. If all ballots were made public, there's a good chance that the number of completely full ballots would actually go down.