Skip to content

Shutout! The Baseball Writers Association of America fails to elect anyone to the Hall of Fame

Jan 9, 2013, 2:02 PM EDT

Cooperstown

It’s possible that this year’s Hall of Fame ballot was the most stacked in the history of the institution.  It contained the all-time home run leader. It contained a seven-time Cy Young award winner who may have been the best pitcher in baseball history since the deadball era. It contained the best hitting catcher of all time. It contained a middle infielder who got to 3,000 hits while flashing superior defense and power. It sported a 609-home run hitter a 583-home run hitter, the second best leadoff hitter in the history of the game and at least five others who, had they been inducted, would not be close to the worst players to make the Hall of Fame.

And none of them got in. Not a one. For the first time since 1996, all candidates on the ballot failed to receive the requisite 75% required for induction.  The leading vote getter was Craig Biggio, who received 68% of the vote. Jack Morris received 67.7%, Jeff Bagwell received 59.6% of the vote, Mike Piazza 57.8% and Tim Raines at 52.2%. No other player received more than 50% of the vote. Roger Clemens received 37.6% of the vote and Barry Bonds received 36.2%. Each of those last two received totals far below even the most pessimistic predictions. The full results can be seen here.

The biggest takeaway from all of this: the Baseball Writers Association of America has, for the first time, unequivocally decided that the use of performance enhancing drugs is a disqualifier for induction to the Hall of Fame. It was suspected that this was the case given Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro falling short in previous years, but there are some reasonable non-PED arguments against those fellows’ candidacies.  Not so with Bonds and Clemens. They were so good and so accomplished that, to paraphrase Bill James, you could cut them in half and have two hall of famers each. Maybe three, actually. Their exclusion is solely because a large portion of the electorate believes that one cannot take steroids and call Cooperstown home.

Which, while understandable, flies in the face of baseball history. There are almost certainly already steroids users in the Hall of Fame. Indeed, Hall of Fame voter and Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell said on camera, in Ken Burns’ “Tenth Inning” that he witnessed a current Hall of Famer taking steroids during his playing career. Maybe his fellow voters ignored him. Maybe, since that player’s induction, whoever he is, their attitudes have changed. Either way, there is certainly now a historical inconsistency baked into the Hall of Fame.  And in no event can anyone who applauds today’s voting results do so on the basis of the Hall of Fame maintaining its purity, for its purity is pure fantasy.

But just as the BBWAA has now clearly stated that drug users are not wanted in the Hall of Fame, it has apparently likewise erected a near-impossible hurdle for those not associated with PEDs to bound, regardless of their merits.

Craig Biggio had 3,000 hits. Tim Raines was one of the best players of the 1980s. Curt Schilling has three World Series rings, was dominant in the playoffs, and was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball for several years when being a pitcher in baseball was about as hard as it has ever been.  While I disagree that we should keep the PED players out, I at least understand the impulse. What’s the point of keeping out guys like Biggio, Raines and Schilling? What’s the point of the Hall of Fame if no one can get in in a year as talent-rich as this one?

But that’s where we are. Not one of the players on the ballot made it in. The induction ceremony in Cooperstown, New York this summer will honor three men — Hank O’Day, Jacob Ruppert, and Deacon White — who were elected by the Veterans Committee last month.  All three of those men have been dead since the 1930s, so I don’t presume it will be a joyful gathering of family and friends reminiscing about their storied pasts. It’ll be more like a memorial service.

Which is somewhat appropriate given that, with their votes, the current electorate is, in this writer’s view, hastening the Hall of Fame to its doom.

Latest Posts
  1. Homer Bailey headed to DL with right elbow ligament sprain

    Apr 27, 2015, 8:10 PM EDT

    cD05ODdlNmNhY2MwMjRlZWQzNTJhM2ViYTQ1Y2VlY2YzOCZnPTk2MDdiZDc5ZmVlNDdhZTEwZDA0NTU3OTdkODA1ZTAw Getty Images

    Bailey is coming off flexor tendon surgery. Could Tommy John surgery be next?

  2. Brandon McCarthy diagnosed with torn ulnar collateral ligament

    Apr 27, 2015, 7:24 PM EDT

    brandon mccarthy getty Getty Images

    McCarthy appears headed for season-ending Tommy John surgery.

  3. Rockies place closer Adam Ottavino on disabled list with triceps inflammation

    Apr 27, 2015, 7:20 PM EDT

    Adam Ottavino Adam Ottavino

    Adam Ottavino was just named as the Rockies closer two weeks ago, but now he’s headed to the disabled list with right triceps inflammation.

  4. Monday’s White Sox/Orioles game postponed due to ongoing protests and violence in Baltimore

    Apr 27, 2015, 6:41 PM EDT

    ALCS - Kansas City Royals v Baltimore Orioles - Game One Getty Images

    Protests and violence continue in Baltimore after the recent death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.

  5. Cardinals confirm Adam Wainwright is done for season with torn Achilles

    Apr 27, 2015, 6:09 PM EDT

    adam wainwirght getty Getty Images

    Wainwright will undergo season-ending surgery this week.

  6. Nationals announce injured Max Scherzer will not make his next scheduled start

    Apr 27, 2015, 5:40 PM EDT

    Max Scherzer AP

    Scherzer is in the first season of a seven-year, $210 million contract and has pitched very well through four starts with a 1.26 ERA and 29/4 K/BB ratio in 29 innings.

  7. Source: Josh Hamilton rejected a trade to a National League team because he wanted to go back to Texas

    Apr 27, 2015, 4:56 PM EDT

    hamilton getty Getty Images

    Hamilton had a full no-trade clause with the Angels. And he exercised it in an effort to get back to the Rangers.

  8. Did the Angels shoot themselves in the foot in the Josh Hamilton situation?

    Apr 27, 2015, 4:25 PM EDT

    Jerry Dipoto, Arte Moreno AP

    Pro tip: when you’re trying to sell something, don’t tell all of your potential customers how crappy the thing is and how desperate you are to be rid of it.

  9. Deal done: Josh Hamilton traded to the Texas Rangers for cash considerations

    Apr 27, 2015, 4:04 PM EDT

    Josh Hamilton AP

    This trade rids the Angels of Josh Hamilton, Josh Hamilton of the Angels and give the Rangers a pretty big bargain. Win-win-win?

  10. Marlins drop Jarrod Saltalamacchia just 16 months after giving him $21 million

    Apr 27, 2015, 3:31 PM EDT

    Jarrod Saltalamacchia AP

    Saltalamacchia is owed $7 million this season and $8 million next season.

  11. Reminder: the reason the DH isn’t universal is because the Phillies screwed up the vote

    Apr 27, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    phillies logo

    As usual, the Phillies are why we can’t have nice things.

  12. Rays will be without injured John Jaso until at least June

    Apr 27, 2015, 2:35 PM EDT

    Orioles Rays Spring Baseball AP

    Jaso injured his wrist sliding into third base on Opening Day.

  13. On the move again: Dodgers trade Xavier Cedeno to Rays

    Apr 27, 2015, 1:22 PM EDT

    Xavier Cedeno Nationals AP

    He was traded from the Nationals to the Dodgers just last week.

  14. Orioles COO John Angelos puts baseball, civil rights and protests in perspective

    Apr 27, 2015, 1:08 PM EDT

    John Angelos

    Powerful words from the Orioles’ executive in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray.

  15. Comment of the Day: do not underestimate the seriousness of the anti-DH crowd

    Apr 27, 2015, 12:32 PM EDT

    Edgar Martinez

    Some people are really committed. Others are so committed, maybe they should be committed.

  16. Chris Perez opts out of minor league deal with Brewers

    Apr 27, 2015, 11:19 AM EDT

    chris perez getty Getty Images

    Perez posted a 9.39 ERA in six appearances for Triple-A Colorado Springs.

  17. The Rays have yet to play a game in an outdoor stadium

    Apr 27, 2015, 11:03 AM EDT

    Rays logo

    “Outdoor baseball is stupid, and domes should be universal. My column:”

  18. A month later, there’s still no timetable for Justin Verlander’s return to the Tigers

    Apr 27, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    Detroit Tigers' Verlander reacts after leaving the game against Texas Rangers in their MLB American League baseball game in Arlington Reuters

    He hasn’t thrown since cutting short a bullpen session 10 days ago.

  19. Jeff Loria says there have been no serious discussions about firing Mike Redmond

    Apr 27, 2015, 9:24 AM EDT

    mike redmond getty Getty Images

    The Marlins lose: rumors of the manager being on the hot seat. They win: he’s safe. That’s the sort of reaction that stable teams run by wise men pursue, right?

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. Y. Puig (3151)
  2. D. Smyly (3056)
  3. D. Travis (3028)
  4. D. Mesoraco (3018)
  5. M. Saunders (2987)