Seven players on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot--including Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens--are worthy of enshrinement in Cooperstown, in the eyes of 24 Baseball America employees past and present who participated in a mock election this week.
An eighth player, Craig Biggio, fell just two votes shy of meeting the 75 percent requirement. (You can view the entire Hall of Fame ballot here.)
The Baseball Writers’ Association of America will announce its annual Hall of Fame class on Wednesday, and the results of the election have come under increased scrutiny after no one was elected last year.
Various projections have this year’s class at three or four players--in addition to managers Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre, who have been elected by the veterans committee--but the BA class is significantly larger than that, with first-time candidates Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and Frank Thomas leading the way as unanimous choices. The other four players who would get in are Jeff Bagwell, Bonds, Clemens and Mike Piazza.
It’s worth noting that no one who participated in our mock balloting is a Hall of Fame voter. Baseball America writers and editors have been denied membership in the BBWAA, applying most recently in 2010. The people who participated in this vote either work on the BA editorial staff now, or spent significant time in the past on the editorial staff and are still involved in the game in some way.
The Magnificent Seven
With 18 of 24 votes required to meet the 75 percent standard the BBWAA uses for enshrinement, seven players could be considered consensus Hall of Fame picks by the BA electorate. All seven players are highly decorated and have multiple hooks on which to hang their HOF candidacy.
Clemens, Glavine and Maddux all won 300 games while combining to collect 13 Cy Young Awards. Piazza hit 396 home runs while playing catcher, the highest total for the position in history. Bonds owns the single-season and career home run records as well as seven MVP trophies and three BA Major League Player of the Year nods.
Born on the same date in 1968, Bagwell and Thomas are two of the hardest-hitting first basemen of the Expansion Era. They have two of the four highest adjusted-OPS+ rates, as per Baseball-Reference.com, of the past half-century among those who came to bat at least 5,000 times and played first base or DH.
|Frank Thomas||1b/dh||White Sox||24||100.0%|
|Roger Clemens||rhp||Red Sox||20||83.3%|
Splitting The Vote
Biggio fell short of election by two votes in our polling. His name appeared on two-thirds of ballots cast, but many voters had trouble distinguishing his HOF candidacy from the cases for Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling and Tim Raines. Those four players, in different configurations, filled the majority of the remaining ballots.
Just five of the two dozen ballots in our vote did not make use of all 10 selections, and four of those five partial ballot-casters made the conscious and conspicuous decision to exclude Biggio. In other words, it wasn’t an overcrowded ballot that kept Biggio under the 75 percent threshold. This despite amassing 3,060 hits (21st all time) and 668 doubles (fifth).
Pockets Of Support
The following four players had wonderful careers and received scattered support in our balloting. All four would certainly be even more attractive if not for overstuffed ballot this year and the voting restriction of 10 places.
Two players received one vote apiece in our mock election.
These players would drop off the BA mock ballot entirely, just like the 18 others who received zero votes, a list that includes Sammy Sosa with his 609 home runs, Rafael Palmeiro with his 3,020 hits and 569 homers and Fred McGriff with his 493 homers and 134 career OPS+, which, by the way, is superior to both Sosa (128) and Palmeiro (132).
Lucky for Jack Morris and Lee Smith that the BBWAA views their cases more favorably. Morris drew 67.7 percent of the BBWAA in the 2013 election, while Smith came in at 47.8 percent. We’ll learn shortly if those percentages will hold in 2014.
Note: We received a 23rd and 24th ballot submission subsequent to posting the first version of this story. All 24 ballots are now reflected in the results here, though the big picture remains unchanged.