Another year of balloting in the STATLG-L/Baseball Prospectus Internet Hall of Fame has been completed, and it's time to report on the results. As expected, and as will almost certainly be announced tomorrow in Cooperstown, Eddie Murray was elected in his first year of eligibility. For the second straight year, our voters also supported National League catcher Gary Carter with enough votes to put The Kid's smiling face on a plaque. Once again, we'll have to wait a day to see whether the Baseball Writers Association of America see as much in Carter as we do; in last year's BBWAA balloting, he fell short by a mere 11 votes. Bert Blyleven and newcomer Ryne Sandberg came close to 75% in the STATLG-L vote, but none of the other 29 players on the ballot received votes from as many as half of us.
A total of 3558 voters cast ballots this season, topping last year's count by more than 1000. Thank you all! The rise in popularity of the IHOF vote has been amazing – from 518 to 3558 voters in just four years. The threshold for induction was therefore 2669 votes, which Murray and Carter topped by nearly 300. Blyleven and Sandberg fell about 250 votes below the bar. The mean number of names on a ballot was 5.96, well above last year's 5.18 but less than the 6.54 names per ballot the previous year.
Other than Sandberg, the only first-year player who garnered any sort of meaningful support was reliever Lee Smith. Smith finished with the eighth-highest vote total, not too far ahead of fellow closer Bruce Sutter's 10th-place ranking. Neither of them drew even half as many votes as Goose Gossage's 49.1% in fifth place.
Many of the players on this year's ballot have appeared on the HOF ballot for more than a few years. In the four years we've been voting here on the BP site, we've had the opportunity to decide on the qualifications of 13 of them every single time. Looking at their rank-ordering and vote percentages over the years, it's clear that we voters have established our impressions of their absolute and relative merits. For instance, Carter has consistently finished first or second in the STATLG-L voting, and his vote percentage keeps increasing; we've voted him into the Hall twice. After Carter come Blyleven and Gossage. While Bert's percentage has risen a bit in the last three years, from 61.2% to 68.2%, the Goose's support has bounced around in the 50% range.
Although Jim Kaat, Bruce Sutter, Jim Rice, and Tommy John are tightly bunched this year, their histories in the STATLG-L vote differ appreciably. Sutter and Rice appear to have lost support recently, while Kaat's vote has been quite stable. As you're probably aware, this is Kaat's fifteenth and last time on the BBWAA ballot. The rest of the four-time players – pitcher Jack Morris, outfielders Dale Murphy and Dave Parker, first basemen Keith Hernandez and Steve Garvey, and shortstop Dave Concepcion have never attracted significant support from the IHOF voters.
Among the more recent additions to the ballot, Don Mattingly hasn't received much attention in his three years, and Andre Dawson has drawn near-identical percentages in his two years on the ballot. However, this year's vote for Alan Trammell was dramatically higher than what he received last time out. Aside from Sandberg and Smith, the only first-timer to win (slightly) more than a smattering of STATLG-L votes was Fernando Valenzuela.
Rank by Year of Vote Player Votes Pct 2002 2001 2000 1999 Eddie Murray 2955 83.1% 1 Gary Carter 2943 82.7% 2 2 2 1 Bert Blyleven 2425 68.2% 3 3 4 3 Ryne Sandberg 2411 67.8% 4 Rich Gossage 1748 49.1% 5 4 5 4 Alan Trammell 1547 43.5% 6 5 Andre Dawson 846 23.8% 7 8 Lee Smith 834 23.4% 8 Jim Kaat 808 22.7% 9 10 10 7 Bruce Sutter 740 20.8% 10 6 8 10 Jim Rice 707 19.9% 11 7 6 6 Tommy John 705 19.8% 12 12 9 9 Jack Morris 512 14.4% 13 9 11 11 Dale Murphy 458 12.9% 14 13 13 12 Keith Hernandez 402 11.3% 15 14 16 13 Don Mattingly 303 8.5% 16 15 15 Dave Parker 164 4.6% 17 17 18 16 Steve Garvey 134 3.8% 18 19 21 17 Fernando Valenzuela 121 3.4% 19 Dave Concepcion 111 3.1% 20 20 20 14 Brett Butler 56 1.6% 21 Darryl Kile 49 1.4% 22 Tony Pena 42 1.2% 23 Mickey Tettleton 31 0.9% 24 Vince Coleman 24 0.7% 25 Sid Fernandez 19 0.5% 26 Darren Daulton 18 0.5% 27t Mitch Williams 18 0.5% 27t Rick Honeycutt 16 0.4% 29t Danny Tartabull 16 0.4% 29t Danny Jackson 10 0.3% 31 Mark Davis 8 0.2% 32 Todd Worrell 7 0.2% 33 Total 21188 Total Ballots Cast 3558 Votes Per Ballot 5.96
The IHOF participants assess the candidacy of the 16 holdovers from 2001 very differently from the way the baseball writers appear to think about them. In last year's BBWAA results, the rest of the top ten behind Ozzie Smith and Carter, shown here with their 2001 IHOF ranks, were Rice (7), Sutter (6), Dawson (8), Gossage (4), Garvey (19), John (12), Blyleven (3), and Kaat (10). Trammell, fifth in last year's IHOF, was ranked 14th last year by the writers, though Jack Morris (our #9 last year) dropped to the 11th spot in last year's BBWAA vote.
In addition to the CNN-SI poll mentioned last year, this season we've drawn some semi-competition from the MLB site. I don't know why they would limit participants in their balloting to five choices rather than ten, but I do appreciate their decision not to follow the actual BBWAA rules faithfully. As of this writing, no results are available from the balloting on mlb.com. As for CNN-SI, I remain unclear as to the meaning of their "Later" category. Based in incomplete results through Sunday afternoon, if consideration is limited to their "Now" votes, only Murray garnered enough votes to reach the Hall, with Carter well short of 75% and Dawson and Sandberg the only others supported by more than half of the poll participants. Under this interpretation, Garvey and Rice tied for ninth place, well ahead of Blyleven and Sutter. Alternatively, if "Now" and "Later" are combined, it might take a minivan to hold all the new Hall of Famers. Players receiving fewer than 25% "Never" votes in the CNN-SI poll include Murray, Dawson, Sandberg, Carter, Smith, and Gossage; in addition, Rice is right on the cusp, with Mattingly, John, Sutter, and Blyleven within five percent of the line.
Looking ahead, Kaat will no longer be on the ballot next year. As usually happens, very few of the first-timers will return for a second try; Murray will almost certainly be elected and Sandberg might make it too. If not, he'll certainly be here next year, as will Smith. I suspect that Fernandomania will keep Valenzuela on the ballot. In 2001, Hernandez beat the 5% line by a mere six BBWAA votes, so he might not stay on the ballot, but nearly all of the other holdovers should still be with us next time. The 1998 retirees who will be joining them are not a particularly distinguished group. By far the most interesting is Dennis Eckersley, whose credentials (197 wins and 390 saves) are completely unlike those of any other pitcher. Paul Molitor, a member-in-good-standing of the 3000-hit club but a long-time designated hitter, is the top non-pitcher. Beyond those two, there's only one other player with 2000 hits (Joe Carter), and two over 300 homers (Carter and Cecil Fielder). Other hitters likely to be on next year's ballot include Terry Pendleton, Juan Samuel, Kevin Mitchell, and Pete Incaviglia. Among pitchers, Eck is joined by a 200-game winner (Dennis Martinez) and another 300-save reliever (Randy Myers). In addition, Danny Darwin, Dave Stieb, Jimmy Key, and Doug Drabek will be on the ballot.
With the completion of this year's STATLG-L Internet Hall of Fame voting, our attention turns to the two new Veterans' Committee ballots. We expect to introduce the STATLG-L/Baseball Prospectus version of those biennial ballots later this week. Stay tuned!
Neal Traven is the co-chair of the Statistical Analysis Committee of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
To subscribe to STATLG-L, either (a) send a one-line email message consisting of: SUBSCRIBE STATLG-L [your name] to the address firstname.lastname@example.org, or (b) click here, and fill in the boxes. Either way, confirm your subscription and then join the discussion!