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What can we learn from the Hall of Fame voting this year?

Jan 5, 2011, 2:36 PM EDT

Barry Larkin

I’m not one of those people who go crazy at the actual vote totals. You’re either in or you’re out, and if someone got 53.4% of the vote as opposed to 66.2% I’m not going to blow a gasket.

That said, there are a lot of things we can learn from the vote totals. So, in the interests of observation and science, let’s see what this year’s ballot really means:

  • For all of the ink spilled in his name, Jack Morris got only a slight bump in Hall balloting from last year, going up to 53.5%  from 52.3% in 2010.  While it’s true that most players who get 50% of the vote eventually get in, one would think that Morris would get a bigger bump.  If he doesn’t make huge strides next year, he may be blotted out by the Maddux-Glavine-Pedro-Johnson conga line that will come in a few years. Oh, and he’s going to fall off the ballot in three years regardless, so he had better enlist a good campaign team;
  • Barry Larkin seems to be on a strong course toward election. 62.1% in his first year of eligibility is strong. Next year’s class is weak.  I think he gets the call in 2012.
  • How does Robbie Alomar go from 73% to 90% in one year?  The only real explanation is that there was a huge penalty placed on him for not being what some consider a traditional first-ballot guy.  Which just goes to show that, no matter what the actual Hall voting rules say — and they specifically say that there is no special designation for “first ballot” guys — voters will read their own rules into the process.
  • Edgar Martinez got only 32.9% of the vote. I guess that tells us what the electorate thinks of the DH.
  • Mark McGwire — who for years was implored by voters to “come clean,” came clean in 2010.  He was rewarded with a reduction in his vote totals, going from 23.7% in 2010 to 19.8% this year.
  • Jeff Bagwell — who has been lambasted for, well, nothing — only received 41.7% of the vote despite being — arguably — the best first baseman in National League history.  Not a terrible vote for a first-timer, as many who have gone on to election began with vote totals in the 40% range, but far below where he should have been. Really, he is a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
  • Other PED-associated players were killed: Rafael Palmeiro only got 11%. Kevin Brown fell clear off the ballot with 2.1%.  I don’t think that either of them would be slam dunk guys anyway, but their vote totals — and the totals for Bagwell and McGwire — suggest that other players tied — or in Bagwell’s case, erroneously-tied — to steroids are going to face a bloodbath.  Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens get on the ballot in two years.  They’re going to get creamed and that’s going to make all of the little Jeff Bagwell and Bert Blyleven arguments seem like pleasantries exchanged over tea and cucumber sandwiches.
  • B.J. Surhoff got two votes. Wow.  Benito Santiago and Brett Boone got one. Double wow.

There’s a lot more that can be mined from that data.  The vote totals are here.

  1. amhendrick - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    I guess it is all about your expectations . . . I was surprised that Bagwell got 42% given all the ‘controversy’ about him in the last week

  2. davidw7 - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:44 PM

    BJ got two votes? Stanton wasn’t alone then lol

    Surprised Boone and Santiago got a mere mention let alone a vote apeice.

    • jkcalhoun - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:50 PM

      The Surhoff movement clearly demonstrated surprising growth. If not for that 5% requirement to remain on the ballot, things may have gotten interesting.

  3. sdelmonte - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:59 PM

    Once upon a time, Santiago looked like something special. And here he is, just another good ballplayer that people remember for that one thing (those amazing throws from the knees). I wonder how many one-time Rookies of the Year are in the Hall. Gonna go look.

    • sdelmonte - Jan 5, 2011 at 3:08 PM

      The answer to my question: 14 to date, plus Jeter, Pujols, Piazza, Bagwell and Ichiro as players look like shoo-ins to me.

      • lampdwellr - Jan 5, 2011 at 3:26 PM

        Guys who might end up deserving it but probably won’t get in include McGwire and Beltran. Rolen has a real nice resume once you look at it, and might get in (and in my opinion should).

  4. Detroit Michael - Jan 5, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    Correction: This was Barry Larkin’s second year of eligibility. Like Alomar, he seemed to get a strong second year boost.

  5. lampdwellr - Jan 5, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    Raines’ 7% bump wasn’t too exciting for those of us in the Raines camp. I bet he gets a big boost next year, and possibly another one once the 2013 mess is cleaned up and he’s sitting on the ballot next to Kenny Lofton making Lofton look silly.

  6. bigtrav425 - Jan 5, 2011 at 3:09 PM

    Edgar Martinez should be in the Hall as should closers.These F/n people who vote need to get over this BS.And how does 1 go about gettin a vote for the Hall?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 5, 2011 at 3:41 PM

      Be a sports writer for many years
      Get asked to join the BBWAA
      Be a member for 10 years

      It’s the last part that is keeping guys like Neyer (2017 i think) and Klaw (2018) from voting.

    • mtner77 - Jan 5, 2011 at 4:00 PM

      Martinez absolutely deserves to be in the HOF. This is the vote that makes me the angriest. 32.9%??

      If Gar is not worthy of the Hall of Fame, then very few players are.

      If he had put up the exact same numbers, as a DH, in say New York instead of Seattle, what do you think his vote total would be? A LOT higher than 32%!

  7. youcantpredictbaseball - Jan 5, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    Disagree on Palmeiro not being a slam dunk. He had 3000 hits and 500 home runs! Without the PEDs, the voters would have been all over him.

    Consider Eddie Murray. Murray stuck around for four years of 95 OPS+ ball while he brought himself over the two magic numbers. Without those four years (of 0.0 bWAR), he finishes with 441 home runs and 2820 hits. Would he have gotten into the Hall if he retired after 1993? Maybe. Would he have gotten 85.3% of the vote on his first ballot? No way.

    • tominma - Jan 5, 2011 at 5:40 PM

      Cheaters should never be in the Hall of Fame!! Character IS a criterion. He cheated , He even looked into the eyes of America and said he never used steroids!! He’s out! Bagwell suffers from the “guilt by association” syndrome. If anyone this year is a first balloter, Jeff Bagwell is!

  8. Paul White - Jan 5, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    I continue to be baffled by the support for Larkin juxtaposed with the lack of support for Alan Trammell. Any reasonable comparison of the two leads to the conclusion that they were virtually interchangeable players. That’s the case if you consider them from the perspective of things voters traditionally look at (two shortstops who played 19/20 years for just one team, won a World Series, made multiple All-Star teams, won multiple Gold Gloves, had similar MVP voting results and excellent post-season records) and from the perspective of advanced metrics too (68.9 WAR for Larkin, 66.9 for Trammell using BBRef; 72.0 for Larkin to 71.3 for Trammell using FanGraphs). I just don’t the vast difference in their respective vote totals, and haven’t seen any reasonable explanations for it either.

    • schlom - Jan 5, 2011 at 4:54 PM

      How about the fact that even though everyone that was around at the time knew that Trammell was the best player on those Tigers teams, not Jack Morris?

  9. kaientai72 - Jan 5, 2011 at 3:47 PM

    Brilliant and concise synopsis. Palmeiro’s low total did not surprise me, but I did not think that Bagwell would be this low. Obviously, he has been (erroniously or not) tied in with the PED scandal, so it will be fascinating to see if he receives a serious jump in support next year. Bagwell was the #6 man on the baseball list from http://www.notinhalloffame.com, and it looks like he will stay there for a bit.

  10. brianinva - Jan 5, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    Wow, Bagwell is the best first baseman in NL history? Willie McCovey (not to mention Albert Pujols) will be surprised to hear that.

    • Paul White - Jan 5, 2011 at 4:10 PM

      Craig said “arguably” the best. And given that the list of all-time NL first basemen by OPS+ looks like this…

      172 – Pujols
      171 – Dan Brouthers
      164 – Johnny Mize
      152 – Roger Connor
      149 – Bagwell
      147 – McCovey

      …and the same list by WAR looks like this…

      89.1 – Cap Anson
      83.8 – Pujols
      80.4 – Connor
      79.9 – Bagwell
      73.7 – Brouthers
      66.5 – Mize
      65.2 – McCovey

      …then, yeah, you can certainly “argue” that Bagwell belongs in that discussion, especially since he exceeds one of the guys you just “argued” for – McCovey – in both measures.

    • Utley's Hair - Jan 5, 2011 at 4:11 PM

      And that would be why he says arguably up there.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 5, 2011 at 4:22 PM

      Also, Bagwell’s triple slash numbers are better across the board, but McCovey played in a worse hitting era so his OPS+ is only slightly lower. Bagwell was a far better basestealer. And Bagwell’s peak was a lot longer with multiple 8+WA*R seasons whereas McCovey only had one.

      For fun, if we extrapolate Bagwell’s absurd ’94 season out to a full set of games, here’s what we get:

      162 Games Played
      216 Hits
      153 Runs
      171 RBI
      47 2Bs
      57 HR

      13.1 WAR(!) tied for 22nd all time with only Walter Johnson (2x) and Babe Ruth (2x) breaking or tieing that mark since 1900.

      • Roger Moore - Jan 5, 2011 at 7:14 PM

        If you extrapolate Bagwell’s 1994 season reasonably, you wind up with exactly the numbers he got. He got hit by a pitch and broke his hand just before the strike and would have been unable to play for the rest of the season even if there had been games to play. He never would have won his MVP if not for the strike.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 6, 2011 at 11:14 AM

        Well phooey, I completely forgot about that =\

  11. Jonny 5 - Jan 5, 2011 at 4:28 PM

    I learned that I want nothing to do with judging men. I’m the odd man out I guess…

  12. teej414 - Jan 5, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    Bagwell was a juicer. Have you seen him lately? HAHA

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