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January 9, 2014

Baseball Therapy

The Hall of Fame Ballots By the Numbers

by Russell A. Carleton


There’s now officially nothing left to talk about in baseball for another six weeks. But at least we get some good news. Three new plaques will be going up in Cooperstown this summer, a welcome change from the unfortunate shutout that happened during last year’s Hall of Fame voting. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas will all take their places in rural New York. After weeks of the usual arguments over PEDs, the merits of Jack Morris, and the 10-person ballot limit, it’s nice to take a step back and reflect on how good the Class of 2014 really was. Also, we should take a moment to realize that the ballot is starting to read like a BuzzFeed list of “Players that only baseball fans from the ’90s would understand.”

And can we all just agree to let Biggio round it up to 75 percent? He’s going to get in next year anyway.

Now that the balloting is done, what conclusions can we draw about the process behind the votes and the future of the Hall of Fame voting? Let’s do a little #GoryMath and find out, shall we?

What Happens to the 10-Man Ballot?
The biggest storyline leading up to the voting, that didn’t have a mustache, was the problem of the 10-player limit per voter. Last year, I suggested that it was not likely that the 10-man limit actually cost anyone a place in Cooperstown. But this year, with several new Hall-worthy candidates, the ballots were feeling a little more crowded. Thanks to the fine people at Baseball Think Factory, we have nearly 40 percent (as of Wednesday night) of individual ballots accounted for, mostly because their authors published their votes publicly. The Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA), the organization overseeing the process, stated that they will release full ballots from those who authorized their release on Friday.

Diving into the ballots that are already available (222 as I write), 58.1 percent of them (129 ballots) were completely full. If we assume that the published ballots are a good reflection of the still-private ballots (not necessarily a good hypothesis, but we’ll go with it), there were approximately 331 full ballots (out of 571 total votes cast). A player needed 429 votes to be elected this year. Now, did the 10-man ballot cost anyone a place in the Hall this year, other than Biggio? The next closest candidate to election was Mike Piazza with 355 votes, followed by Jack Morris with 351 and Jeff Bagwell with 310. Were there people who wanted to vote for Piazza or Morris or Bagwell, but didn’t because they felt that there were 10 others more qualified? Probably, but were there enough?

Of the published ballots that were full (129 of them), Mike Piazza did not appear on 23 of them (17.8 percent). Again, assuming that the private and published ballots mirror each other, we can assume that there were 59 ballots (17.8 percent of 331) that were full, but did not contain a vote for Mike Piazza. Even if all 59 of those voters had voted for Mike Piazza, he would have had only have 414 votes, falling 15 short of induction.

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Related Content:  Hall Of Fame,  Cooperstown

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<< Previous Article
A Vote for Transparenc... (01/09)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Baseball Therapy: The ... (01/06)
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Premium Article Baseball Therapy: Buil... (01/13)
Next Article >>
The BP Wayback Machine... (01/10)

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