Where Does the Hall of Fame Ballot Go From Here?
There's nothing that can be done about this year's results, so the question turns to next year and beyond. Most of the talk right now is how to reform the process. I'll be honest that with the exception of scrapping the 10 player vote limit, I don't really know. More importantly, I'm not sure the Hall itself feels much need to do anything.
So, for now, let's look at the vote totals from this year and try to figure out who still has a shot of getting in. This will be partially based on historical tendencies, but it's clear that the PED situation has made most of those useless. Complicating things are five new players that will appear on the ballot next year. Two of them, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, are first ballot locks, and another, Frank Thomas, should be. Two others, Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent, have good cases. With that, what chances are the veterans of the 2013 ballot looking at?
Craig Biggio (68.2% of 2013 vote, 1 year on ballot) While Biggio did not make it on the first ballot, a vote total that high the first time means he's almost certain to get in at some point. The two most recent and obvious examples of this are Roberto Alomar, who got in on the 2nd ballot, and Barry Larkin, who in on his 3rd. What might keep Biggio out is the influx of lock newcomers on the next few ballots, not just next year but 2015 (Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Gary Sheffield) and 2016 (Ken Griffey Jr., Jim Edmonds) as well. It sucks Biggio didn't get in yesterday, but it will happen at some point.
Jack Morris (67.7%, 14 years) One year to go and 42 votes shy. That's the situation for Morris now. I thought he'd get elected this year due to the anti-steroid and anti-sabermetric vote. However, he only moved up 1% from last year. Given that and the influx of new and better pitchers next year, it's not anywhere close to a lock Morris gets in, but given that it'll be the last look the writers gets of him, there's still a decent chance for Morris to get over the line.
Jeff Bagwell (59.6%, 3 years) Historically, Bagwell is in a position to eventually get elected. However, the whispering campaign that he was a PED user appears to be holding him back. Bagwell's total went up this year, but only 3%. He could still get in, and he has plenty of time still, but it could be a long slog.
Mike Piazza (57.8%, 1 year) Given the craziness about this ballot, this a pretty good debut for Piazza. He's also involved in a whispering PED allegation, which throws a huge variable in the proceeding. If historical norms hold though, Piazza will get in at some point.
Tim Raines (52.2%, 6 years) It's about time Raines got over 50% of the vote. With Bert Blyleven in, Raines is the new cause celebre of the sabermetric crowd, and it appears to be slowly working. Like everyone else, the crowded ballot is an issue, but Raines doesn't have the PED specter above him, which could help. I'm starting to feel cautiously optimistic that he'll get elected at some point.
Lee Smith (47.8%, 11 years) After taking a decade to get over 50%, Smith dropped back under that mark this year, and with only 4 years left, that's not a good sign. At this point, it's hard to see him getting in.
Curt Schilling (38.8%, 1 year) I truly thought Schilling would do better than this, at least get to 40%. Of the first year players, he's the hardest to predict at this time. The up coming players don't help him at all, but he doesn't have the baggage those around him in total have. Schilling is a true wait-and-see in regards to his chances.
Read on for some of the more controversial names on this controversial ballot.
Roger Clemens (37.6%, 1 year) and Barry Bonds (36.2%, 1 year) You can't talk about one with the other. These two are at the head of most of the rancor and consternation on this ballot. I suspect that both Clemens and Bonds will see a slight uptick next year, depending on how many writers took a position of not voting for them first ballot, but voting for them afterwards. After that, it's clearly going to take a long time for either of them to get in, if they do on the writers ballot at all. With 14 years to go, it's impossible to predict how this is going to proceed.
Edgar Martinez (35.9%, 4 years) Edgar has essentially stayed flat since he debuted. The DH thing is clearly hampering his progress (which, even though I'm a support of Edgar, I can understand). Stranger things have happened, but it's not looking good for him. If anything, I could see him dropping next year due to the crowded ballot. I'm guessing many of Edgar's supporters are those with bigger ballots, and someone has to drop to make room.
Alan Trammell (33.6%, 12 years) Debuting at a low number is not a death knell for a player's chances at getting elected, but being under 35% this late in the game almost certainly is. Trammell's another one who I expect to see his vote total fall next year.
Larry Walker (21.6%, 3 years) Walker is settling into the low 20s, which isn't going to get it done. If the ballot was clearing faster, I wonder if his case could get some more attention, because it's worth debating.
Fred McGriff (20.7%, 4 years) Given the PED backlash and McGriff's believed cleanness, I'm surprised he's not getting more support. He actually went down this year, which I'm guessing was a result of the crowded ballot. That problem isn't going away anytime soon, but I have a hunch the Crime Dog could still get more into the conversation. It's not likely to happen, but there's still a non-zero chance.
Dale Murphy (18.6%, 15 years) This was Murphy's last year of eligibility, and thus he falls off the ballot. This probably helps his chances actually, and it gets him off this ballot and onto the Veterans Committee at some point. We'll see if he has better luck there.
Don Mattingly (13.2%, 13 years) It's obviously not going to happen for Donnie Baseball.
Mark McGwire (16.9%, 7 years), Sammy Sosa (12.5%, 1 year), and Rafael Palmeiro (8.8%, 3 years) McGwire is going nowhere, Sosa's candidacy looks DOA, and Palmeiro dropped so much this year I wouldn't be surprised if he fell off the ballot completely next year. None of these guys are getting in.
Bernie Williams (3.3%, 2 years) and Kenny Lofton (3.2%, 1 year) Neither Williams nor Lofton got 5%, so they fall off the ballot. It was a fate neither deserved. I'm not saying that they are Hall of Famers in the end, but both have arguments that deserve a full debate, and neither will get it. Lofton in particular has an intriguing case. He's not the most egregious one and done player ever (that's Lou Whitaker), but he's up there.
What are your predictions on who will get elected in the future?