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Maximum stay on Hall of Fame ballot changed from 15 to 10 years

Jul 26, 2014, 10:32 AM EDT

hall of fame

Big news coming out of Cooperstown this morning, as the National Baseball Hall of Fame announced their first changes to the voting process since 1991. The most significant change is that recently-retired players will only be able to stay on the ballot for 10 years as opposed to the current 15.

Three candidates in years 10-15 will be grandfathered into this system and remain eligible for the full 15 years. That group includes Don Mattingly (his 15th and final year on the ballot will be in 2015), Alan Trammell (14th year in 2015), and Lee Smith (13th year in 2015).

This change is clearly aimed at breaking up the current log jam on the ballot, but it indirectly gives players from the steroid era a much tougher time of making it into the Hall of Fame. Or at least kicks the can down the road for the veteran’s committee to figure out. One alternative to breaking up the log jam would be to allow more than 10 players to be named on a ballot, but that doesn’t appear to be a consideration at this time.

Other changes of note:

– Hall of Fame eligible voters will now be required to complete a registration form and sign a code of conduct. Consider this a response to Dan Le Batard, who turned his ballot over to Deadspin readers this year.

– The names of BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) voters will be made public with the election results, but individual ballot results will not be released by the Hall of Fame. Here’s hoping the BBWAA takes the next step.

Here’s part of a press release from the National Baseball Hall of Fame:

“The Board is committed to keeping the policies and voting procedures of the Hall of Fame relevant,” said Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman of the Board of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “We believe the BBWAA has done an excellent job of honoring the criteria advanced by the Hall of Fame – player’s record, contributions to the teams on which the player played, character, sportsmanship and integrity – to determine individuals who belong in the Hall of Fame by the highest threshold, a 75 percent majority. The Board believes these changes are necessary to ensure the integrity of the voting process moving forward.”

Before you start blaming the BBWAA for today’s changes, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle notes that the BBWAA did not have any input in the process:

  1. penale52 - Jul 26, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    Is it really fair to only grandfather Trammel, Smith, and Mattingly, just because they have already been on the ballot 10-15 years? Shouldn’t everyone who was on the ballot before this was implemented be grandfathered in also, regardless of how long they’ve been on the ballot.

    • mikhelb - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:11 PM

      Learn to read, it says “the group includes”.

      • JB (the original) - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:20 PM

        learn to read, it says:

        Three candidates in years 10-15 will be grandfathered into this system and remain eligible for the full 15 years.

        Then, it names the 3.

    • 78mu - Jul 26, 2014 at 6:51 PM

      It would seem fair to grandfather everyone on last year’s ballot. There are guys like Blyleven that are passed over for more than 10 years.

      Of course it also kept someone like Jack Morris around for another 5 years.

      A quick unscientific look at the inductees voted in after year 10 on the ballot since 1984 you have Blyleven, Gossage, Sutter, Dawson, Rice, Perez, Wilhelm & Drysdale. Of course they failed to vote in guys like Ron Santo or Ted Simmons.

      And why in the world is Tim Raines not grandfathered in?

  2. brandotho - Jul 26, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    The Hall is in charge of voting? That’s good to know. It’d be nice if they made a change worthwhile: Take away the vote from the writers and give the fans and current/former players a voice

    • twinfan24 - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:39 AM

      You only need look at All Star game starters to know that fans should have no say in Hall of Fame voting.

      • brandotho - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:41 AM

        What, do you think they would vote in guys like Jim Rice or Andre Dawson?

      • jwbiii - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:44 PM

        Those two made 17 All Star games between them, so absolutely.

    • deadeyedesign23 - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:37 PM

      For whatevr it’s worth some of the most egregious additions to the hall came from former players via the veterans committee.

  3. [citation needed] fka COPO - Jul 26, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    This change is clearly aimed at breaking up the current logjam on the ballot, but it indirectly gives players from the steroid era a much tougher time of making it into the Hall of Fame.

    I think this pretty much ensures Bonds/Clemens/McGwire/etc will never make it to the HoF. Which means I now have my final reason for never stepping foot in that place.

    • yahmule - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:01 AM

      You’re going to deny yourself a chance to look at all the incredible memorabilia in that building because you’re unhappy with the current group of voters. Way to show ’em!

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:05 AM

        No, there’s almost no chance that the best players from my youth will make it in due to the hypocrisy of the Hall/writers. I don’t care about the memorabilia, I care about a convenient place to show my son all the greats that played during my youth. Even players without PED connections, like Raines (who is more than deserving), are going to get screwed by this change.

      • yahmule - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:32 AM

        Maybe your son would like to see the memorabilia. I became a Babe Ruth fan when I was ten. He might have his own reasons for wanting to be there that extend beyond being a captive audience for your personal stroll down memory lane.

    • Detroit Michael - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:40 AM

      The writers aren’t likely to vote in Bonds, Clemens and McGwire by a 75% super majority anyway. This makes them eligible for veterans committee consideration five years earlier.

      • yahmule - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:04 PM

        This is my thinking, but the default setting here on HOF issues is largely pessimistic.

        There’s a theory in sales about a product being shopworn and this extends to things like properties that sit on the market for a long time. Most of the candidates who get in the Hall from years 10-15 are sentimental favorites like Tony Perez and Jim Rice that people here **** a brick over anyway.

      • raysfan1 - Jul 26, 2014 at 2:00 PM

        Those elected in years 11-15 included Rice but not Perez.

        The others were Bert Blyleven, Bob Lemon, Ralph Kiner, Bruce Sutter, and Duke Snider.

      • 78mu - Jul 26, 2014 at 6:54 PM


        Perez retired in 1986. Voted in the HoF in 2000.

      • raysfan1 - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:34 PM

        1st year of eligibility is 5 years after retirement. Perez was elected in his 9th year on the ballot.

    • barrybondsisthealltimehomerunking - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:14 PM

      If people stop going the writers will hopefully get the message.

    • mikhelb - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:15 PM

      Is it so hard to understand that only new elegible players will get 10 years? That means that all of those who will be eligible this year for the 1st time, will only get 10 years to make it.

      Bonds, Clemens, McGwire and lots more still have 15 years (or the years they have left until they reach 15 eligible years or get dropped from the list).

      Still, not even with 25 tries they would make it to the HoF.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:38 PM

        Still, not even with 25 tries they would make it to the HoF.

        Which is the reason I have no thoughts of visiting the HoF. The voter’s hypocrisy in this is absurd.

      • yahmule - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:38 PM

        Your umbrage is noted. Now read the article.

      • raysfan1 - Jul 26, 2014 at 2:09 PM

        Incorrect. The only players being grandfathered, remaining eligible for 15 years, are the 3 who are already past the new 10-year maximum–Mattingly, Trammel, and Smith.

  4. humpalumpagus - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    This is so short-sighted of them- they’re obviously trying to knock Bonds and Clemens off the ballot but they people who will really be hurt by this are players like Tim Raines, who are suddenly up against the end of their candidacy

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:44 AM

      Not just Raines, as Dave Cameron mentions this almost ensures Edgar doesn’t make it, and I can see guys like Moose, Schilling, and Walker to name others that won’t make it.

      • mikhelb - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:17 PM

        They all get 15 years, that’s what it says.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:37 PM

        They all get 15 years, that’s what it says.

        That’s not how I’m reading it. Emphasis mine:

        Candidates for Hall of Fame election who receive votes on at least five percent of ballots cast had previously been eligible to remain on the ballot for a maximum of 15 years of consideration by the BBWAA. Going forward, the maximum years of consideration for a player who meets that criteria is now 10 years. Candidates would then move to the Era Committee system for review in perpetuity. Three candidates presently on the BBWAA ballot in years 10-15 will be grandfathered into this system and remain under consideration by the BBWAA for up to the full 15 years. Don Mattingly (15th year in 2015), Alan Trammell (14th year in 2015) and Lee Smith (13th year in 2015) will be eligible to remain on the BBWAA ballot for a maximum of 15 years of consideration.

        From the link above. Why single out those three if everyone on the ballot still has up to 15 years remaining?

      • wjarvis - Jul 26, 2014 at 6:19 PM

        In all honesty this probably means that Raines and Edgar make the hall sooner, they just won’t be voted in by the BBWAA (which looked like it probably wasn’t going to happen anyways)

    • 78mu - Jul 26, 2014 at 6:58 PM

      Raines deserves to be voted in above anyone else in years 11-15. How can the voters put Brock in on his first ballot and ignore Raines?

  5. Every 5th Day - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    Reblogged this on Every 5th Day Baseball and commented:
    Doing all they can to keep any potential PED suspected candidates out.

    • pauleee - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:33 AM

      “potential PED suspected candidates”

      There are no words.

      • paperlions - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:46 AM

        I don’t know…that order of words is pretty awesome.

        Maybe “possibly potential theoretical PED suspected suspicious candidates” would have been better….but it was already pretty fantastic.

      • Every 5th Day - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:47 AM

        I have no idea what your comment is getting at, care to explain, please?

      • raysfan1 - Jul 26, 2014 at 2:15 PM

        He’s referring to the fact that a number of players with zero evidence of steroid use are being campaigned against by some of the voters because said voters heard that somebody once saw the player had back acne or maybe played on the same team as someone who used steroids or because, gee gosh, they were muscular.

      • Every 5th Day - Jul 26, 2014 at 9:06 PM

        My 10 yo neighbor was reading the blog roll and commented on the HOF article because he wanted to post it to his friends, so great job guys. This internet comment section is a lovely little world you all exist in when your first instinct is to insult and rip apart another person’s comment. Pretty petty and shameless behavior, guys. I am certainly glad he didn’t quite figure out you were having fun at his expense. Have a good evening and enjoy the HOF ceremony tomorrow.

  6. paperlions - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    If the HOF really was concerned about the vote, the best changes would be:

    1) Unlimited votes on a ballot, there is no reason for an upper limit.

    2) Ensure that only knowledgeable, active members of the BBWAA that ACTUALLY COVERED BASEBALL get to vote. Too many voting members are former editors that never covered baseball (or sports) or people that covered baseball for a few years and moved on to other sports (e.g. hockey, golf) and aren’t even baseball fans. Voting should also not be a life-time privilege; there is no justification for a person that hasn’t covered baseball or kept up with baseball for decades to get to vote.

    The primary problem with the process is the composition of the electorate, and these things do nothing to address that problem This, I think, is totally on the BBWAA. Only active members (people that actually cover baseball) get to vote on any other baseball awards (CY, MVP, ROY) they dole out, why would you have such horrible standards for arguably the greatest honor?

    • yahmule - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:57 AM

      Those two changes would be the greatest thing ever. I wonder how someone would go about trying to run them past Jane Forbes Clark.

    • mikhelb - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:19 PM

      And not everybody gets to vote for the Cy Young, MVP and RoY.

      • paperlions - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:20 PM

        Yep, just 30 people, 2 from each city in the respective league, who votes for each award changes every year…but they are always active writers that represent a balanced cross-section (geographically) of AL or NL cities.

    • Chipmaker - Jul 26, 2014 at 2:12 PM

      I would disagree with unlimited votes, as that would allow voters (if they wished) to completely abdicate their responsibility to apply SOME critical thinking to their ballots. But a number higher than ten — 12, 15, 20 — would give ballot relief without enabling totally slipshod voting.

      Culling the eligible members of the BBWAA would be the best improvement. Reduce it to active-coverage members, maybe with a three year sunset window after they move to another beat, or retire. It is well past time the “I remember how much better the game was before the damned designated hitter came along” crowd got pushed out. Heck, I’m hoping the anti-steroids scolds die off too, since they obviously won’t resign in disgust.

      How is the code of conduct enforced? What sanctions does it impose for failure to measure up? Does it have to be executed every year, such that when a sufficiently senior voter falls into complete dementia, he cannot process the form and is ballot disenfranchised? Does it have a death penalty for writing in Pete Rose?

    • 78mu - Jul 26, 2014 at 7:01 PM

      I would be happy if they just revealed the ballots of all the voters.

      Then we could at least see how many dolts know less about baseball than the readers at deadspin.

      • paperlions - Jul 26, 2014 at 8:08 PM

        I’m not sure how satisfying that would really be….wouldn’t it be frustrating to see how many unqualified voters there are making those decisions and knowing that nothing was going to be done to change it?

        The ballots that are published are probably among the better ones….and “logic” and “justifications” for many of those leave a lot to be desired.

  7. jkcalhoun - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    Hey, let’s put a PR guy in charge of our museum. What could go wrong?

  8. trbmb - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    I seriously doubt Jane Forbes Clark took any lead in advancing this change. Jane’s only modus in her position is to look to advance opportunity for revenue for the Clark Foundation and the village of Cooperstown. Unless the thinking is that by shrinking the total window, it gets candidates elected much quicker, i.e. < 5 years, doubtful result. It would be interesting to understand who within the Hall took the lead in this change. Joe Morgan or someone else on the Board?

    • yahmule - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:35 PM

      You’re not going to change the minds of guys like Joe Morgan, but I would think JFC – hey, cool initials – is shrewd enough to perceive the gradual irrelevance that is overtaking the institution and understand the long term implications.

    • raysfan1 - Jul 26, 2014 at 6:24 PM

      My guess is Selig.

  9. JB (the original) - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    OK. So, just to get a better feel for how this will play out, how many current HOFers (or what %) were inducted in their 10-15 year range as opposed to their 1st 10?

    • yahmule - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:40 PM

      Tony Perez, Jim Rice, nearly Jack Morris to name some recently enshrined.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jul 26, 2014 at 1:11 PM

        Blyleven is another. I don’t have time to check, but here’s a list of everyone’s vote total and year they were/are on the ballot for ’14. Could keep changing the URL and compile a list:

    • jwbiii - Jul 26, 2014 at 1:46 PM

      Roberto Alomar (14), Bert Blyleven (15), Jim Rice (15), Bruce Sutter (13), Bob Lemon (12), Ralph Kiner (13), Red Ruffing (15), Dazzy Vance (17), Ted Lyons (11), Gabby Hartnett (16), Rabbit Maranville (14), Bill Terry (15), and Harry Heilman (12). So 13.

      I am not counting years when the BBWAA didn’t vote (1944 and odd numbered years, 1961-65), but I am counting years in which a candidate recevied no votes after he had received his first vote and the BBWAA had an election.

      Tony Perez took nine years, Jack Morris was not elected.

      • Chipmaker - Jul 26, 2014 at 2:05 PM

        That’s not correct for Alomar. Enough voters embargoed him one year for the spit incident, then put him in during his second year.

      • jwbiii - Jul 26, 2014 at 2:13 PM

        Thank you for the correction. I was reading the wrong lines in my spreadsheet. Alomar was two years, Blyleven was 14, and Dave Parker was 15 and out.

    • Detroit Michael - Jul 26, 2014 at 4:24 PM

      The statistics you are looking for are in the press release that this blog post is commenting on.

  10. sportsfan18 - Jul 26, 2014 at 1:32 PM

    I’d like the writers to really look at Alan Trammell’s stats and compare them to the 22 shortstops already in the HOF and then let us know why he isn’t in.

    Of the 22 shortstops in the HOF right now, here is where Alan stacks up in some stats:

    His career BA is HIGHER than 11 of the 22 and he has the same career BA as Robin Yount

    His career OBP is HIGHER than 11 of the 22

    His career Slugging % is HIGHER than 13 of the 22 and he’s tied with Lou Boudreau

    Has more career hits than 13 of the 22

    Has more career home runs than 18 of the 22

    Has more career RBI than 13 of the 22

    Has more career Runs than 9 of the 22

    Has more career stolen bases than 12 of the 22

    Oh, as far as defense is concerned…

    “Of course, Trammell was more than “just” a darn good hitter by positional standards. He was also one of the best defensive shortstops ever. In defensive bWAR, he ranks 10th all-time among primary shortstops. All of this squares with Trammell’s reputation; he won four Gold Gloves in a span of five years.”

    He’s EASILY better than HALF of the shortstops in the HOF.

    His stats were solid across the board and he played defense at the same level he played offense and BOTH placed him around the 10th best shortstop ever.

    To my knowledge, he isn’t a jerk, wasn’t mean to the fans or sportswriters.

    I don’t get this at all.

    • whatacrocker - Jul 27, 2014 at 1:02 AM

      You have forgotten to mention Trammell’s great crime, the thing that keeps him out of the HoF. Namely, that he had the gall to be an excellent shortstop in the same league and at the same time as Cal Ripken, Jr.

      If his career started five years earlier, he’d be in right now.

  11. chargrz - Jul 26, 2014 at 1:40 PM

    If Larkin can get in anyone can

  12. russ99a - Jul 26, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    Great, screw the Astros fans one more time.

    Biggio and Bagwell better get in…

  13. Detroit Michael - Jul 26, 2014 at 4:22 PM

    I found the penultimate sentence of the press release to be amusing. The Hall of Fame openly says they have unwritten rules for voting for or against players! I wonder what their other unwritten rules are. Inquiring minds want to know.

    Incredible that 23 years later, they still officially can’t acknowledge the plain fact that they changed the rules to keep Pete Rose out of the Hall of Fame. (Please don’t start a Rose debate here. I’m not arguing the wisdom of the rule change but just commenting on the Hall’s continued insincerity 23 long years later.)

    • jkcalhoun - Jul 26, 2014 at 5:30 PM

      The first unwritten rule of the unwritten rules is, “Don’t talk about the unwritten rules.”

    • jwbiii - Jul 26, 2014 at 8:36 PM

      3. Eligible Candidates
      E. Any player on Baseball’s ineligible list shall not be an eligible candidate.

      This rule change was made in 1991. It was very well publicized at the time.

  14. syphermce - Jul 26, 2014 at 4:37 PM

    This sounds like a ploy to try and get through the steroid era players as quickly as possible. Either way I think it’s all a joke. EIther you are a Hall of Famer or you are not. None of this “Well he’s a hall of famer, but not a 1st ballot hall of famer” stuff.

  15. wpjohnson - Jul 26, 2014 at 7:22 PM

    Ten years is certainly enough and, possibly, about five too long. If you aren’t worthy ten years after retiring, why would you be worthy later?

    • whatacrocker - Jul 27, 2014 at 1:06 AM

      Certainly, we don’t gain new insights or new ways of understanding information over time.

      Certainly, we don’t gain the value of perspective over time, along with some clarity as to whether or not a player was truly outstanding compared to his peers or not.

      Certainly, there is no change in the electorate over time, and so no dynamic wherein a fairly different set of eyes are looking at a candidate in year one as opposed to year 15.

      You’re right, no good reasons for waiting whatsoever. I say, one and done! Why do they even need two chances to vote on a candidate? Either he’s good enough or he isn’t, dadgumit!

  16. shyts7 - Jul 26, 2014 at 7:56 PM

    How about they just change it to either you are a HOF or not. It still blows my mind that you can say that he wasn’t a HOF in his first 3 years on the ballot but he did nothing for 10 years and then made it. That makes no sense at all. Either you are a HOF or not.

    • wjarvis - Jul 26, 2014 at 8:23 PM

      Almost all HOFer’s are enshrined their first 3 years of eligibility. Since 1980 a very Biggioesque 74.6% of new members (44 or 59) were elected in years 1-3, with 35 of them being 1st ballot.

  17. bbk1000 - Jul 27, 2014 at 8:21 AM

    Why are we still talking about Don Mattingly and the Hall of Fame?

    The best first baseman in the last 30 – 40 years was Hernandez, and it’s not even close for second.

    • Detroit Michael - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:38 AM

      Using, ranking players who played at least half of their games at 1B during 1974 (Hernandez’ rookie season) to 2013, Hernandez ranks 7th in WAR. Pujols and Bagwell are pretty clearly the top two in that order and after that there is room for debate. Hernandez is not first and it is not even close.

      • bbk1000 - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:11 PM

        WAR??? Seriously?

        Hernandez changed the way hitters approached at bats…..You think Hernandez was getting a bunt up the line?

        Watch a game, please…

      • Detroit Michael - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:30 PM

        I watch many games.

        WAR is a statistic that mentions all aspects of a player’s game, so it is certainly relevant to a Hall of Fame debate. One shouldn’t induct a player for fielding prowess only but for all aspects of his game.

      • bbk1000 - Jul 30, 2014 at 6:42 AM

        Give me a break….

        You had to go to for an opinion and then had to use WAR to form that opinion….

        WAR….I still can’t believe it…WAR is made up, there is nothing to WAR, it’s a figment of your limited imagination… more about WAR and you’ll realize how stupid the stat happens to be….

        Like I said, watch a game, not the carnage in the streets…..

      • Detroit Michael - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:44 AM

        Like I previously said, I watch many games. Perhaps you need to work on your reading comprehension.

        Many baseball fans both enjoy watching games and appreciate today’s advanced statistics instead of relying merely on unsubstantiated opinions. It’s pretty hard to have an intelligent Hall of Fame debate without looking at statistics.

        Regardless of what you think about WAR, the percentage of knowledgeable baseball fans who believe that Keith Hernandez was the best first baseman in the last 30 years, including better than Pujols and Bagwell, and that it is not even close, is very small. Your opinion is in a small minority.

      • bbk1000 - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:47 PM

        I have no problem with statistics, although many of them have been inflated because of the fountain of youth so many recent players have found….I’m guessing most of the players you find superior would fall into this category…..

        Sorry, the WAR and reference was just comical, I’ll bet you have an ESPN poster on the wall of your bedroom….

        I’d love to hear your take on QB’s….I’m sure it would be interesting….and wrong…

        I’ll say it again, watch a game…please, just one game….that’s all I ask….

  18. Detroit Michael - Jul 31, 2014 at 9:43 AM

    Reread the first sentence of each of my last two posts.

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