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January 10, 2013

Skewed Left

Murphy, Morris, and Using the Full 15 Ballots

by Zachary Levine

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It is twilight for Jack Morris and sunset for Dale Murphy as both—along with 35 other players— were shut out of the Hall of Fame on Wednesday. In denying all 37 candidates admittance, with none all that close, the BBWAA has set up a nightmare scenario for future elections, as Colin Wyers lays out.

It is obviously particularly devastating for Murphy, who on the strength of his niceness and letters from his children received a 4.1 percentage point bump that wasn’t nearly enough. He went from just 14.5 percent to 18.6 percent, becoming the 51st player under things resembling the current rules (1969-present after runoffs were eliminated) to last his full allotted time on the ballot. Of the 51, 49 have suffered a similar 15 ballots of rejection, while Jim Rice and Ralph Kiner snuck over the 75 percent barrier. Kiner received the biggest final-year boost under the modern ballot, going from 58.9 in his penultimate try to 75.4 in the ultimate.

That is the obstacle for Morris next year as he faces a brutally tough ballot in year 15. It would be easy to say he won’t get in—after all, everybody has had 14 chances to vote for him, so what could change in year 15? But there is always an increase in year 15, and it generally works even more favorably on those who are the closest.

On average, there has been a 3.5 percentage point bump among the 51 players since 1969 who’ve entered their final ballot and maintained a percentage higher than the current five percent threshold to stay on it.

That doesn’t work out evenly, though. The top seven on the chart below (sorted by their 14th-ballot total) averaged a 9.7 percentage point bump, while the rest of the list averaged just 2.5 percent, which makes Murphy’s jump this year look more impressive, though obviously too little.

Last Yr

Player

2nd-last %

Last %

Last jump

2009

Jim Rice

72.2

76.4

4.2

1979

Enos Slaughter

68.9

68.8

-0.1

1985

Nellie Fox

61

74.7

13.7

1994

Orlando Cepeda

59.6

73.5

13.9

1975

Ralph Kiner

58.9

75.4

16.5

1991

Jim Bunning

57.9

63.7

5.8

1983

Gil Hodges

49.4

63.4

14

1978

Pee Wee Reese

42.6

44.6

2

1988

Roger Maris

42.6

43.1

0.5

1973

Johnny Mize

39.6

41.3

1.7

1998

Ron Santo

39.3

43.1

3.8

1982

Richie Ashburn

35.4

30.4

-5

1977

George Kell

33.2

36.8

3.6

1983

Red Schoendienst

32.5

39

6.5

1996

Tony Oliva

32.4

36.2

3.8

1976

Phil Rizzuto

32.3

38.4

6.1

1992

Bill Mazeroski

32.1

42.3

10.2

1975

Hal Newhouser

30.4

42.8

12.4

1973

Marty Marion

30.3

33.4

3.1

1971

Johnny Vander Meer

29.3

27.2

-2.1

2009

Tommy John

29.1

31.7

2.6

1970

Joe Gordon

28.5

26.3

-2.2

2007

Steve Garvey

26

21.1

-4.9

1971

Bobby Doerr

25

21.7

-3.3

1974

Allie Reynolds

24.5

27.7

3.2

1991

Harvey Kuenn

24.1

22.6

-1.5

2003

Jim Kaat

23.1

26.2

3.1

1987

Lew Burdette

22.6

23.2

0.6

1980

Mickey Vernon

20.4

24.9

4.5

1980

Al Dark

18.5

11.2

-7.3

1975

Phil Cavarretta

16.7

35.6

18.9

1994

Ken Boyer

16.3

11.8

-4.5

1999

Minnie Minoso

16.1

14.7

-1.4

2011

Dave Parker

15.2

15.3

0.1

1970

Tommy Henrich

14.7

20.7

6

2013

Dale Murphy

14.5

18.6

4.1

1992

Maury Wills

13.8

25.6

11.8

2008

Dave Concepcion

13.6

16.2

2.6

1981

Ted Kluszewski

13

14

1

1996

Curt Flood

12.8

15.1

2.3

2002

Luis Tiant

12.2

18

5.8

1980

Don Newcombe

12

15.3

3.3

1988

Elston Howard

10.7

12.4

1.7

1997

Joe Torre

10.6

22.2

11.6

1990

Roy Face

10.5

11.3

0.8

1999

Mickey Lolich

8.2

5.2

-3

1973

Bobo Newsom

7.8

8.7

0.9

1988

Don Larsen

7.3

7.3

0

1996

Vada Pinson

7

10.9

3.9

1995

Thurman Munson

6.8

6.5

-0.3

1969

Bucky Walters

5.9

9.7

3.8

Source: Baseball-Reference.com

The bump bodes well for Morris, as the most tiresome candidate is sure to be among the focal points of next year’s debate. The problem, however, is the unprecedented backlog that this year began to stunt his rise, giving him only a one percentage point boost from Year 13 to 14.

If he doesn’t make it, he’s still in a pretty good position, unlike Murphy, who would have to come from unparalleled depths to make it onto the Veterans Committee ballot.

Nobody who lasted the full 15 years under the current rules and whose final year saw a BBWAA total less than 26.3 percent has been inducted by the Veterans Committee, and it took that player with 26.3 percent—Joe Gordon—39 years.

Last Yr

Player

Last %

VC wait

1985

Nellie Fox

74.7

12 years

1994

Orlando Cepeda

73.5

5 years

1979

Enos Slaughter

68.8

6 years

1991

Jim Bunning

63.7

5 years

1983

Gil Hodges

63.4

 

1978

Pee Wee Reese

44.6

6 years

1988

Roger Maris

43.1

 

1998

Ron Santo

43.1

14 years

1975

Hal Newhouser

42.8

17 years

1992

Bill Mazeroski

42.3

9 years

1973

Johnny Mize

41.3

8 years

1983

Red Schoendienst

39

6 years

1976

Phil Rizzuto

38.4

18 years

1977

George Kell

36.8

6 years

1996

Tony Oliva

36.2

 

1975

Phil Cavarretta

35.6

 

1973

Marty Marion

33.4

 

2009

Tommy John

31.7

 

1982

Richie Ashburn

30.4

13 years

1974

Allie Reynolds

27.7

 

1971

Johnny Vander Meer

27.2

 

1970

Joe Gordon

26.3

39 years

Even if he doesn’t approach 75 percent next time, Morris’ standing in the high 60s would put him in very comfortable territory for eventual induction, especially if the VC electorate trends more in his favor demographically. Murphy, off the ballot at 18.6 percent (albeit with strong supporters), is looking at a much tougher fight.

Zachary Levine is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Zachary's other articles. You can contact Zachary by clicking here

Related Content:  Hall Of Fame,  Jack Morris,  Dale Murphy

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