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Anyone 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.

Name              Ballots          Pct
Ozzie Smith          2120       83.20%
Gary Carter          1936       75.98%
Bert Blyleven        1616       63.42%
Rich Gossage         1184       46.47%
Alan Trammell         795       31.20%
Bruce Sutter          703       27.59%
Jim Rice              618       24.25%
Andre Dawson          608       23.86%
Jack Morris           505       19.82%
Jim Kaat              496       19.47%
Luis Tiant            448       17.58%
Tommy John            431       16.92%
Dale Murphy           348       13.66%
Keith Hernandez       286       11.22%
Don Mattingly         269       10.56%
Ron Guidry            192        7.54%
Dave Parker           192        7.54%
Dave Stewart          111        4.36%
Steve Garvey          101        3.96%
Dave Concepcion        94        3.69%
Lenny Dykstra          50        1.96%
Frank Viola            40        1.57%
Mike Greenwell         13        0.51%
Robby Thompson         11        0.43%
Tim Wallach            11        0.43%
Mike Henneman           5        0.20%
Scott Sanderson         5        0.20%
Jeff Russell            2        0.08%
TOTAL                2548      100.00%


Neal Traven is the co-chair of the Statistical Analysis Committee of the
Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).

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