As the BBWAA announces its newest class of Hall of Fame inductees, we asked our staff to fill out their own ballots using the list of players eligible for enshrinement in Cooperstown. Forty-one ballots were submitted, so players needed to garner at least 31 votes to earn a Baseball Prospectus nod to the Hall, and to notch at least two votes to remain in consideration next year.
Under BBWAA rules—namely, the 10-player voting limit—our 2014 Hall of Fame class features seven players. (The number of ballots on which each player appeared and the percentage that number represents are in parentheses.)
- Greg Maddux (40, 97.56%)
- Barry Bonds (39, 95.12%)
- Roger Clemens (39, 95.12%)
- Frank Thomas (39, 95.12%)
- Jeff Bagwell (37, 90.24%)
- Tom Glavine (34, 82.93%)
- Tim Raines (33, 80.49%)
Among the players scrapped from consideration next year were Mark McGwire (1, 2.44%) and Sammy Sosa (no votes), as well as Jack Morris, who did not earn a single Baseball Prospectus vote amid his last chance to persuade the BBWAA.
To see just how restrictive the 10-player limit is in a year in which the list of eligible players is teeming with potentially worthy names, we gave each of our voters the option to tack additional players onto their ballots. The impact was significant: It made all the difference for two down-ballot hopefuls and kept four of the endangered alive.
Without the 10-player restriction, Mike Piazza (30, 73.17%), who came closest to induction without meeting the 75 percent benchmark, earned his plaque with three additional votes that brought his percentage up to 80.49. Craig Biggio (25, 60.98%) surged up nine votes to 34 and 82.93% of the ballots cast. Edgar Martinez (15, 36.59%) nearly doubled his vote total, but it was not enough for him to squeak past the threshold (73.17%).
Meanwhile, Kent, McGwire, Sosa, and Larry Walker—who got only one vote with the limit, but soared to 11, or 26.83% of the ballots submitted, without it—gained enough support to be considered again in 2015.
Finally, Maddux, who was already well clear of the cutoff point for induction, picked up his 41st vote to become a unanimous selection.
You can view each staff member's ballot, and the full results, in the spreadsheet embedded below.
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The tougher issue is that if nobody voted for Maddux because everyone else was going to, where would we be? For now, though, it appears empirically to be a safe tactic, whether in the BBWAA or BP. (It's also only an issue on a clogged ballot -- if BP voters tracked the real vote, there wouldn't be any such thing.)
Todd Jones ... I just like Todd Jones.
If the BBWAA let the voters have extra slots Jack Morris would be in the HoF. It is the Law of Unintended Consequences rearing its ugly head (again).
I agree we have more than ten fully qualified candidates this year, but if we miraculously elected the top ten our logjam goes away. A better rule change would be to get rid of the 5% rule and let every player eligible have at least three years on the ballot. If they don't get to 5% by then then drop them.
That's just not enough for a HOF vote.
Were there any instructions given to the voters beyond those presented in the article? For example, were voters advised to vote solely based on whom they think should be elected, without giving consideration to what other voters might do?
The knuckledragger who voted for Morris but not Maddux because of the "no steroid era thing" when their careers overlapped by NINE YEARS (including 3 Maddux Cy Youngs) is a truly special individual, though.
And why apply game theory when there's no real consequence here?
I'm kind of stunned by that.
I am honestly curious to see what folks who favor enshrinment for Bonds and Clemens think about ARod and the HOF.
One more election like this and your perceived problem goes away.
All the electorate has to do is pick the ten best qualified guys and this problem goes away in short order.
Since BP enjoys joining numerous other columnists in decrying problems with the real-world voting (which is totally justified) and shooting at old-guard Luddite fish in the sabermetric barrel, then it ought to be equally ready to face outrage and criticism when it indulges in the same type of strategic-voting tomfoolery and double standards which stain the actual elections.
It's eminently reasonable for someone to get upset about omitting a Mt Rushmore-level talent like Maddux and call into question the credentials of a person so voting. There has certainly been plenty of real and virtual ink spilled over the years about the "idiots who didn't vote for Babe Ruth...who didn't vote for Willie Mays...how could not you not vote for Hank Aaron?", etc.
I think what the original commenters were getting at here in their own way was highlighting the inconsistent treatment from a site which normally decries such things, and I don't believe they should be voted down so much for making that very legitimate point.
That's not what we're talking about here. Jason thought 16 players were worthy of induction, including Maddux, and he knew that Maddux wouldn't need his vote to top the 75 percent threshold. So he used his top 10 spots on other deserving candidates for whom his vote was more likely to make a difference. Every BP voter thought Maddux was a deserving Hall of Famer, and no one withheld a vote for him based on the "Well, Mays wasn't unanimous..." argument, so I don't see any inconsistency here. If an actual Hall of Fame voter left Maddux off his 10-player ballot for the same reason that Jason did (and some of the 16 who didn't vote for Maddux may have), I wouldn't have a problem with that either.
Take your example of the hypothetical voter who omitted Maddux simply because he didn't think Maddux was a Hall of Famer. Well...his judgment in players clearly sucks, but on the other hand he exercised his voting responsibility exactly as he should have. It seems apparent the voting is structured specifically to elect players via a "wisdom of crowds" approach. Toward that end, Clueless Voter could be fairly said to be executing his duty in a 100% honest manner whereas Jason is not voting for somebody he knows belongs based on a reason that is NOT the primary purpose of voting.
It takes only a few people making assumptions like "Player X won't need my vote" in error before you are CREATING the very bottleneck of candidates you're saying is such a problem. It's been awhile since I read it, but I seem to recall Bill James making this point in his HOF books...that the vote frequencies and shifting rules actually aggravate ballot logjams mathematically rather than alleviating them as intended.
Columns explaining a voter's motives doubtlessly are more readily found today than years ago. Who is to say voters of old did not have what they thought were perfectly valid rationales behind their omissions? If you want Jason to be given more benefit of the doubt for his hypothetical vote, then perhaps real-world voters who actually had to do it should be given an equal or greater amount of leeway...especially those are who are dead and left little to no record of their motivations.
This is what I meant by the commenters above possibly having a point about inconsistent treatment. I thought they made that point in a clever and ironic way, which doesn't seem like something for which they should be voted down so severely. Keep in mind, I never said this was my own opinion of Jason's ballot...just that I saw some merit in those two commenters' reactions which, inadvertently or not, raised an interesting question.
Thanks to both of you for the responses.