The Hall of Fame ballot has officially been released and this ballot like the previous several is overcrowded with deserving candidates. While the archaic 10-slot limit remains in place the Hall of Fame did change its 15 year eligibly rule to 10, grandfathering in only players who have already appeared on the ballot for at least ten years (Smith, Trammell, Mattingly.) That’s bad news for the steroid guys, and for players like Tim Raines and Alan Trammell.
The 2015 ballot features fifteen players with a WAR of 60 or higher, and that doesn’t include Mike Piazza (59.4), or Sammy Sosa (58.4).
Two years ago I predicted the shutout. Last year I thought Biggio would make it in, he didn’t but I came reasonably close with the rest of my predictions. Below are my voting predictions for the 2015 class. There is a downloadable spreadsheet at the bottom of the page if you prefer to view these that way.
Randy Johnson finished his career with 303 wins, 4, 875 strikeouts, and ERA+ of 135. He won five Cy Young awards, a World Series MVP (co MVP with Curt Schilling), and was a ten time All-Star. He should be selected unanimously but that’s not how the BBWAA operates. Regardless, he will get in with plenty of room to spare. Prediction 92%
Pedro Martinez retired with a record of 219-100, 3,154 strikeouts, and an ERA+ of 154. He won three Cy Young awards, a World Series championship, and was selected as an All-Star eight times. He won’t be unanimous but he will comfortably clear the line. Prediction 89%
Craig Biggio received 74.8% of the vote last year missing out on enshrinement by just two votes. Historical trends would suggest he’s a lock to get in this year but the ballot remains overcrowded putting him in a similar predicament as last year. I think he finds his two votes (and a few more) and gets in. Prediction 81.0%
John Smoltz retired with 214 wins, 3,084 strikeouts, and 154 saves. He and Dennis Eckersley are the only pitchers in MLB history with at least 150 wins and 150 saves. Smoltz is an interesting case here. He deserves to get in and will get to 75% eventually but other pitchers of his caliber like Schilling and Mussina have thus far fallen short. I think Smoltz gets in this year but will likely find himself in a similar situation as Biggio did last year with just a handful of votes determining if he’s in or out. He’s the hardest guy to predict this year; I could see his percentage landing anywhere from 50-80%. Prediction 75%
Mike Piazza Piazza was the only holdover candidate who saw his vote total increase from 2013 to 2014. I don’t expect his percentage to continue to rise dramatically as there are still many voters who assume he used steroids and thus will refuse to even consider voting him in. Prediction 63.0%
Jeff Bagwell will fall short for the same reasons Piazza will. Prediction 54%.
Tim Raines will be on the ballot for the 8th time this year. The new ten year rule hurt his cause more than anyone else’s. His vote total will likely tick up a bit this year but realistically he is going to have to wait for Expansion Era Committee for his day in Cooperstown. Prediction 50%.
Roger Clemens has no chance of ever getting voted in by this group of voters. I suspect that’s exactly what the Hall of Fame wants. Prediction 36%
Barry Bonds is the best player on the ballot (162.4 bWAR), however he has become the face of the “steroid era” and he has no chance of getting inducted, and he may never. The moral police can celebrate again. Prediction 35%
Curt Schilling like many people on this ballot should already be enshrined in the Hall of Fame but the overcrowded ballot and the sniff test are working against him. Prediction 35%
Lee Smith’s support will likely continue to dwindle as he nears the end of his time on the ballot. Prediction 27%
Mike Mussina The sniff test is king and Mussina apparently fails it. Prediction 26%
Edgar Martinez has a loyal group of supporters that will continue to vote for him regardless of how crowded the ballot gets. Unfortunately, the detractors outnumber the supporters roughly 3-1. Prediction 25%
Alan Trammell will eventually have to write a Hall of Fame induction speech but he will certainly have to wait for the Expansion Era committee to make that happen. Prediction 16%
Jeff Kent will likely hover between 10-15% for the next nine years. Prediction 14%
Larry Walker is perhaps one of the most underrated players of all time but he has no chance of getting anywhere near the 75% needed for induction. Prediction 11 %
Mark McGwire is on the ballot for the 9th time this year. The new ten year rule was likely put in place to get the steroid guys like him off the ballot sooner. The Hall might get their wish as both he and Sosa are in jeopardy of falling off. Prediction 8.5%
Don Mattingly is appearing on the ballot for the 15th and final time. He might gain a few extra votes because this is his last chance with the BBWAA. Prediction 8.5%
Gary Sheffield finished his career with 509 home runs and an OPS+ of 140. However, his defense makes him more borderline than his offensive numbers alone would suggest. Using UZR he rates as the worst defender in the history of the game. He was implicated in the BALCO scandal and named in the Mitchell Report for allegedly purchasing illegal steroids which means he has no chance of getting in. Prediction 8%
Fred McGriff would likely already be in the Hall if neither the steroid era nor 94-95 players strike ever happened. They both did and he’s at risk of dropping off the ballot altogether. Prediction 8%.
Nomar Garciaparra produced six Hall worthy seasons but added no additional value beyond those years. His peak will get him some votes but his tenure on the ballot will be short-lived. Prediction 4.5%%
Sammy Sosa need not prep an induction speech anytime soon. Prediction 3%.
Carlos Delgado hit 473 home runs and had productive career but he falls below Hall of Fame standards and will almost certainly get bounced from the ballot right away. Prediction 1.5%
Brian Giles is a bad guy, who had a productive, underappreciated career on the field. He finished his career with an OPS+ 136 and a WAR of 50.9. Rumors of steroid use have swirled around him as well. Prediction 0.75%
Historically if four players get elected that would actually be a lot. The last time the BBWAA voted four or more players in was in 1955. It’s only happened two other times (1947, and the inaugural class of 1936).
If four players get in, especially four deserving ones, that’s a good thing. However, there are at least ten more on the ballot that meet or exceed Hall of Fame standards that will fall short. Making the Hall of Fame should be difficult but the standards for admission have unfairly changed.
PED hysteria is rampant and affecting not only players who used but others who simply played in the era. A new generation of players (players who were born in the 70s, and debuted in the 90s) is coming on the ballot while the previous one still remains in sniff test purgatory.
The Hall of Fame is losing at least one prominent voter because he feels the process is “backward” and in need of change. He’s right. The voting process needs a complete overhaul as do the voters who partake in it. The Hall needs to make a decision about the PED guys. If they don’t want them in, as I suspect they don’t, remove them from the ballot and stop using the BBWAA as a moral goon squad.
There are many changes the Hall should consider but I’ll leave that for another piece later in the week.
I think four deserving players are getting in. A few more might join them via the Golden Era Committee. That’s good.
Next year will be an interesting ballot as Ken Griffey Jr. is the only newcomer who is a sure thing to get in. He might be the only player elected by way of the BBWAA. In 2017 we might see another BBWAA shutout which would be two in four years. Is that really what the Hall wants? Is that what anyone wants? That’s where this mess is headed.
Monday, December 8th: Golden Era Committee results announced
Tuesday, January 6th: BBWAA results announced.
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