The Baseball Writers Association of America just released their ballot for the next Hall of Fame election. There are seventeen carryovers from the last balloting, and seventeen first-timers.
The holdovers, with their vote percentage from last year, are:
Craig Biggio (74.8%)
Mike Piazza (62.2%)
Jeff Bagwell (54.3%)
Tim Raines (46.1%)
Roger Clemens (35.4%)
Barry Bonds (34.7%)
Lee Smith (29.9%)
Curt Schilling (29.2%)
Edgar Martinez (25.2%)
Alan Trammell (20.8%)
Mike Mussina (20.3%)
Jeff Kent (15.2%)
Fred McGriff (11.7%)
Mark McGwire (11.0%)
Larry Walker (10.2%)
Don Mattingly (8.2%)
Sammy Sosa (7.2%)
New to the ballot are:
Short biographies of all candidates are available here: http://baseballhall.org/hof/2015-bbwaa-ballot
I’m sure you are wondering just what some of those names are doing on the ballot. Even I don’t recognize them all (Eddie Guardado??). The rules for getting on the ballot are simple. You have to have been retired for five years, and have played in the big leagues for a ten-year span. If you have been on the ballot for fifteen years (soon to be reduced to ten) and haven’t been elected, you are off the regular ballot and must take your chances with one of the Veteran’s Committees. If you are selected on less than five percent of the ballots in a given year, you are dropped from future regular ballots. It’s that simple. There is a Screening Committee that technically has the authority to disqualify or otherwise block someone from getting on the ballot, but I don’t think they have ever taken that draconian measure.
Each voter can select up to 10 people for induction. There are well over 500 ballots distributed, which ought to be enough for a statistically valid sample that minimizes the effects of personal prejudices, blank ballots, and the like. All you need is to be named on 75% of the ballots – three out of four – and you’re in.
My choices, assuming I have a vote (which I don’t, but it’s fun to play along):
There seems to be a general consensus that Johnson and Martinez are locks, with Biggio also likely to make it in. John Smoltz and Mike Piazza also have a good shot. The stage in Cooperstown could get really crowded next summer.
If you ask me again, I’ll probably come up with a slightly different list. Perhaps Jeff Kent instead of Tim Raines. You will note that I’ve left off Bonds, Clemens, and McGwire. While McGwire did indeed confess to using performance-enhancing drugs (ones that were legal at the time), I don’t think he’s well-rounded enough for HoF consideration. Bonds and Clemens would be shoo-ins if it weren’t for the PED allegations. If they did use, I’d consider selecting them if they came completely clean, gave all the details as to their use, and apologized. There are those who maintain that Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza were users, but there is absolutely no hard evidence to even suggest that they used PEDs, other than the simple fact that they were power hitters during the “Steroid Era”.
There are also the usual stirrings about getting Gil Hodges into the HoF through the Veteran’s Committee. I have to disagree with his supporters. Sure, he was a very fine person, loved everywhere he went. But his stats as a player are just not that good. He never led the National League in any important stat, never finished higher than seventh in MVP voting, and got really lucky in 1969 when it seemed everyone on the New York Mets had a great year. From my point of view, all of his support is just leftover nostalgia for the Brooklyn Dodgers.