It’s been about 48 hours since the Baseball Hall of Fame announced Edgar Martinez will officially enter its ranks. After all the celebrations and sweeping up of same were over, there were some interesting observations on this year’s vote.
As a devoted follower of Ryan Thibodaux’s Hall of Fame ballot tracker, it was interesting to see this year’s votes trickle in.
First, I think we expend far too much energy worrying about who should or should not be a unanimous candidate. All apologies to Mo Rivera whom I greatly admire and fervently believe should be in the Hall, but it’s far more important to be at 75% + 1 than it is to get everyone’s vote. So, will this message matter when Derek Jeter, his long Yankee career, his .838 post-season OPS and 3,465 hits are on the ballot? It will be interesting. I can hear wails from the Bronx to Puyallup. That said, congratulations to Rivera for being the first unanimous candidate.
There was an interesting comparison between the final vote tabulations for Roy Halladay and Edgar. First, and interestingly, Doc and Edgar finished with identical vote totals, 363 votes for 85.4%. Just as interesting however, is where the two were on Thibodaux’s Tracker heading into Tuesday. Doc seemed a lock for a 90+% vote, while Edgar was hovering right around 90%. In year’s past, Martinez lost a big chunk as the non-public votes were revealed. In the final count Edgar lost only about 4.5% to the non-public count, while Halladay lost about 7.5%
In his Twitter post, Thibodaux notes the difference between support for Edgar on public and private ballots narrowed considerably in 2019.
2018: 77.4%/51.9% (25.5% difference)
2019: 90.2%/78.9% (11.3% difference)
Probably the difference between Edgar’s election and failure.
The election of Mike Mussina was a pleasant surprise. Virtually all the projections had him a tick to the wrong side of 75%. Instead he finished a tick to the right side of 75%, with 76.7%
With Edgar safely elected to the Hall, it won’t end my interest in the voting cycle. It takes my mind off the Mariners rebuild, and away from presidential politics. The 2020 class is weak. The only lock is Jeter, and there are few new candidates likely to make the 5% cut. The interesting players will be the holdovers. The players who received at least 15% finished as follows
Curt Schilling 60.9% 7th year
Roger Clemens 59.5% 7th year
Barry Bonds 59.1 % 7th year
Larry Walker 54.6% 9th year
Omar Vizquel 42.8% 2nd year
Manny Ramirez 22.8% 3rd year
Jeff Kent 18.1% 6th year
Scott Rolen 17.2% 2nd year
Billy Wagner 16.7% 4th year
Todd Helton 16.5% 1st year
Omitted from this list is Fred McGriff who falls off the ballot after 10 years. The Crime Dog garnered greater gains than any candidate except Larry Walker, and finished with 39.8%. I began voting for him in IBWAA elections a couple of years ago. He is a worthy candidate and I earnestly hope he is treated fairly by the Today’s Game Committee in 2021.
Looking to next year’s vote, it is easy to imagine that Jeter will be the only candidate elected. Curt Schilling made significant progress this year, improving by 9.4%. The remaining , distance to 75% is a significant leap, not impossible, but will depend how much Schilling can keep his Twitter feed in check.
The biggest advance on the list was Walker who moved from 34.1% to 54.6%. Next year will be his final year on the ballot-his Edgar year. It will take a considerable leap for him to get to 75%, and a rallying cry on his behalf of considerable proportions. He’ll have to overcome the anti-Coors field crowd, but he was a terrific, if oft-injured, all-around player, and a further look at his numbers will show that..
The steady upward momentum for Bonds and Clemens pretty well stalled out after some movement on the selection of Bud Selig and Tony LaRussa to the Hall by the Today’s Game Committee. They picked up only three votes in 2019. It will be interesting to see if they get a big boost heading into the last year or two of eligibility. I expect a major media bloodletting over the PED issue in year 10 if these guys haven’t made their way into the Hall.
The others on the list will have to mount an effective campaign to move their candidacies forward. In the coming year, I promise to take a closer look at Jeff Kent’s career to see if he should make his way on to my ballot. It’s challenging, given his offensive prowess at second base to understand why he is on so few ballots, unless it is his reputation for crankiness with his teammates, the press, and the rest of the known world.