The Hall of Fame votes

Today the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) and the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA) revealed the results of their Hall of Fame voting.The differences between the two outcomes are remarkable.

BBWAA Voting

The print writers voted in four to Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  They include three pitchers who appeared on the ballot for the first-time, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and John Smoltz. Joining them is Craig Biggio, the Houston Astros catcher/second baseman/center fielder.  Biggio missed election by two votes in 2014. Voting members are allowed to vote for up to 10 players for election

IBWAA Voting

The internet writers voted somewhat differently. They also voted in first-timers Johnson, Martinez, and Smoltz, but they also voted in Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell and Expos/White Sox outfielder Tim Raines. The IBWAA already included Biggio and catcher Mike Piazza in its Hall. Voting members are allowed to vote for up to 15 members for the IBWAA Hall of Fame.

A player remains on the ballot for up to 15 years, unless he is elected by the 75% threshold, or if his votes fall below 5%. Then he is no longer eligible to be elected unless he is reconsidered by Veteran’s Committee.

The voting for all candidates in 2015 was as follows

Name                                                               2015 %              2014 %        IBWAA     Years on Ballot

Randy Johnson                                                97.3                     –                 98.24                 1

Pedro Martinez                                                 91.1                     –                 95.15                  1

John Smoltz                                                      82.9                     –                 82.8                   1

Craig Biggio                                                      82.7                     74.8           –                          3

Mike Piazza                                                       69.9                     62.2           –                          3

Jeff Bagwell                                                       55.7                     54.3           81.9                    5

Tim Raines                                                        55.0                     46.1           79.3                    8

Curt Schilling                                                     39.2                     29.2           65.6                    3

Roger Clemens                                                 37.5                     35.4           64.7                    3

Barry Bonds                                                      36.8                     34.7           63.4                    3

Lee Smith                                                          30.2                     29.9           22.9                    13

Edgar Martinez                                                  27.0                     25.2           56.8                     6

Alan Trammell                                                    25.2                     20.8           49.8                    14

Mike Mussina                                                     24.6                     20.3           64.3                    2

Jeff Kent                                                             14.0                     15.2          30.8                     2

Fred McGriff                                                       12.9                     11.7           21.6                    6

Larry Walker                                                       11.8                     10.2           39.2                    5

Gary Sheffield                                                     11.7                      –               32.6                    1

Mark McGwire                                                      10.0                     11.0          35.7                    9

Don Mattingly                                                       9.1                        8.2          15.4                    15

Sammy Sosa                                                        6.6                        7.2           20.2                    3

Nomar Garciaparra                                              5,5                         –               7.5                     1

Carlos Delgado                                                    3.8                         –               7.1                     1

Troy Percival                                                        0.7                         –                 .4                     1

Tom Gordon                                                         0.4                          –              1.3                     1

Aaron Boone                                                        0.4                          –              0.0                     1

Darrin Erstad                                                        0.2                          –              0.0                     1

Rich Aurilia                                                            0.0                         –              0.4                     1

Eddie Guardado                                                    0.0                          –             0.9                     1

Jason Schmidt                                                       0.0                          –              0.0                     1

Jermaine Dye                                                        0.0                           –             1.8                     1

Cliff Floyd                                                              0.0                           –             0.4                     1

Tony Clark                                                             0.0                           –             1.8                     1

Brian Giles                                                             0.0                           –             1.8                     1

There are significant differences between the two voting bodies. The larger number of votes allowed for the internet writers created much higher voting percentages on the IBWAA ballot, and also allowed for election of one more player. According to the IBWAA website, ballots cast contained an average 11.084 votes per member. Jay Jaffe’s analysis at SI.com showed the print writers included 8.42 names per ballot.

Another difference is in the votes for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.  The internet writers gave far greater support to both players strongly suspected of steroid use during their playing days.  While both players received slight upticks on the BBWAA ballots, Clemens and Bonds are only 10% short of election to the internet hall.  It would be interesting to hear an explanation of the difference.  However, I suspect IBWAA members are younger and willing to move on from baseball’s sordid steroid past.

The difference also demonstrates how broken the BBWAA voting has become.  This ballot was packed with Hall-worthy candidates.  But letting Hall-worthy candidates back up against a newly imposed limit 10 year limit, while limiting voters to only 10 selections seems truly unfair. Deserving candidates such as Tim Raines, Edgar Martinez, and Fred McGriff run a likely risk of falling off the ballot without the opportunity to build a developing consensus in support of their election as happened for players like Burt Blyleven.

It is also interesting to note that the IBWAA Hall and Cooperstown began the day with a difference of three members.  Today that difference is five. Next year, as the internet writers continue with their larger ballots, how much divergence will there be between the two Halls.  While it certainly is empowering for bloggers to have their say, is IBWAA simply creating an interesting anomaly that will become increasing irrelevant as the differences become greater? It will be interesting to see how future votes play out.

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