Thursday, January 9, 2014

2014 Hall of Fame Results Analysis

Today is the day.  It has to be.  Today is the day that I analyze the 2014 Hall of Fame voting results.  I did this last year to much acclaim (from myself).  If you missed it, it's a year old and right here.  I also filled out a ballot that I never mailed in or was asked to mail in.  It's moot now and you can read it right here.  Enough shameless self-promotion, let's dance.

Let's get the riff-raff out of the way first.


No Votes - Sean Casey, Ray Durham, Todd Jones, Paul Lo Duca, Richie Sexson, Mike Timlin.

Casey is loud on MLB Network, but mostly enjoyable.  Durham was good.  Todd Jones hated Minnesota.  LoDuca and Timlin don't evoke any memories for me.  Sexson was called "Big Sexy."

1 vote each - Armando Benitez, Jacque Jones, Kenny Rogers

Two former Twins and one guy I completely forgot about.  I knew a guy who would chant "Jacque Jones is soooooooooooo good" while at Twins games.  He was kind of wrong.  Kenny Rogers once nearly punched a cameraman and shoved him down to the ground like a bully.  I hope the guy who voted for him didn't vote for Bonds and Clemens.

2 votes each - Eric Gagne and J.T. Snow

Gagne holds the most consecutive saves record and Snow once saved a toddler's life while scoring a run.  Each is worth about two votes, so we're cool here.

5 votes - Luis Gonzalez

I thought there was an outside chance that Gonzalez would stay on the ballot with 5%.  He got 5 votes.  Career fWAR for Gonzalez:  55.3.  Fred McGriff:  57.2.  Seems like a smaller than 62 vote difference here, but what do I know. 

6 votes each - Hideo Nomo and Moises Alou

If this were the Hall of Famous or the Hall of Impact, I think Nomo would be deserving.  Nomo basically had four above-average seasons, it just happened that two of those seasons were his first two seasons.  Alou peed on his hands.  His own hands, not Nomo's.

25 votes - Rafael Palmeiro

Palmeiro is the only member of the 500 home run and 3000 hit club to fall of the ballot in just four tries.  His exaggerated finger-wag may be too strongly entrenched in our brains.

Still on the ballot

Sammy Sosa

Percentage of votes in 2013 - 12.5%
Percentage of votes in 2014  - 7.2%
# of Years on Ballot - 2
Would I vote for him? - Yes
Will he get in? - Nope

Sosa was weird.  He had massive power, but didn't get on base very well.  He had some speed early in his career and played the outfield pretty well too.  All I really remember of Sosa is home runs.  He hit a lot of home runs.  Ten years ago, his 609 home runs might have gotten him elected on the first ballot.  Now, they won't be enough.  The steroid cloud is an ominous one. 

Don Mattingly

Percentage of votes in 2013 - 13.2%
Percentage of votes in 2014  - 8.2%
# of Years on Ballot - 14
Would I vote for him? - No
Will he get in? - No

I'm actually surprised he's hung on this long.  I love Don Mattingly.  I love his nickname (The Hit Man) and I loved his mustache.  He was a dominant player at his peak.  Truly destructive.  He really needed a backiotomy though.  Perhaps he will have an illustrious managerial career and enter in that manner.  I'd be cool with that.  Again, I love him.

Percentage of votes in 2013 - 21.6%
Percentage of votes in 2014  - 10.2%
# of Years on Ballot - 5
Would I vote for him? - Yes
Will he get in? - Doubt it

This is ludicrous.  Walker is probably getting double penalized for the "steriod era" and the "Coors Field Effect."  Walker hit .322/.394/.587 in his last season with Montreal.  I'm sure Coors Field helped him a bit, but that 151 OPS+ in 1994 proves that he was a dynamic hitter, regardless of the park.  He posted that line while hitting just 19 home runs.  No player since Walker's retirement has posted an OPS+ that high with fewer than 20 home runs.

Walker wasn't just an over-the-fence player.  He was a serviceable outfielder with a killer arm who could hit, get on base and mash ding-dongs (homers, not the food).  He finished his career with 69.0 fWAR, more than Willie McCovey, Robin Yount, and Harmon Killebrew, just to name a few.  Plus, he accumulated more WAR than a bunch of guys who will appear later in this post.  He might fall off the ballot completely next year.  It's a shame that two factors he had no control over (era and ballpark) are clearly being used against him. 

Mark McGwire

Percentage of votes in 2013 - 16.9%
Percentage of votes in 2014  - 11.0%
# of Years on Ballot - 8
Would I vote for him? - Yes
Will he get in? - No

Remember when he hit his 62nd home run and celebrated with Sosa and they each did their little celebration gesture?  They did that fist-punch then stomach-punch combo and then they both did the double-time peace sign-kiss deal.  Yeah, I remember thinking that was lame when I was 16.  Everything was lame then.  Those were the days.  McGwire was an excellent power hitter and I would vote for him if given the chance.  I think Walker was a better player, so at least the voters are being somewhat consistent. 

Fred McGriff

Percentage of votes in 2013 - 20.7%
Percentage of votes in 2014  - 11.7%
# of Years on Ballot - 5
Would I vote for him? - No
Will he get in? - No

I like McGriff.  I like the Crime Dog.  I like his plain, light blue t-shirt in the fielding video promos.  I like his tall hat.  I like him; I don't love him.  I honestly wonder if he would have received more votes if he had stuck around and hit seven more home runs.  The 500 club isn't working for McGwire or Sosa, but it might have moved the needle for McGriff, who seems to be above steroid suspicion.  It's an interesting thought.  If we ever learn how to change history, this should be the first thing we do. 

Jeff Kent

Percentage of votes in 2013 - N/A
Percentage of votes in 2014  - 15.2%
# of Years on Ballot - 1
Would I vote for him? - No
Will he get in? - Hard to Say

Not a bad debut for Kent, actually.  I thought he might fall off the ballot completely.  Kent was petulant and he has the steroid cloud around him.  He's been doing the side part thing with his hair for a decade or so now, so that's something.  As a baseball player, Kent was an excellent offensive player, especially as a second baseman.  His defensive numbers are schizophrenic, but he was good enough to stay the position for many years.  He has an MVP.  By WAR, he doesn't quite match up to guys around him in this post.  He fits more with McGriff and Gonzalez, rather than McGwire and Sosa.  I'd say that Kent isn't as good as Bobby Grich or Lou Whitaker.  He's not as good as Chase Utley.   He was always good and occasionally great.  I'm not sure that's a Hall of Famer. 
Percentage of votes in 2013 - N/A
Percentage of votes in 2014  - 20.3%
# of Years on Ballot - 1
Would I vote for him? - Yes
Will he get in? - Yes, but it might take some time.

Wait, what?  20.3%?  That seems very low.  I'll assume that the crowded ballot was his undoing because I can't see any reason why someone would vote for Jack Morris and not Mussina.  Mussina was better than Jack Morris in just about every way possible.  In fact, here's a chart:

Game 7 10 IP W

So Morris gets Mussina on two categories that are basically irrelevant, but one that is cited frequently.  Morris was also a consistent Opening Day starter, whatever that means.  Mussina wins all the measures that show true pitcher talent.  Morris pitched longer and finished more games.  He also played in a different era so I'm not sure comparing complete games is apt.  It's not as though Morris has thousands of innings more than Mussina either.  Mussina actually started more games.  Morris got 235 more votes.

This is not intended to be an indictment of Morris.  But, since Morris is now off the ballot (more on that later), all the Morris voters have a spot open.  If you LOOOOOOOVE Morris so much, why not fill the void with some Mussina?

Percentage of votes in 2013 - 33.6%
Percentage of votes in 2014  - 20.8%
# of Years on Ballot - 13
Would I vote for him? - Yes
Will he get in? - Doesn't look promising

Come on.  Here's a hidden player trick:

Player A - .285/.342/.430, OPS+ - 115, 1 Gold Glove, 77.1 rWAR in 20 seasons
Player B - .285/.352/.415, OPS+ - 110, 4 Gold Gloves, 70.3 rWAR in 20 seasons

Pretty similar, right?  Player A is first-ballot Hall of Famer Robin Yount.  Player B is Mr. Trammell, struggling to get 20% on his 13th ballot.  What am I missing here?  Is 15 points of slugging creating this dramatic difference?  Trammell won a World Series.  That's important, right?  Maybe voters are suppressing him on purpose so he and double play partner Lou Whitaker can be elected together by the Veterans' Committee.  Other than that, I have no idea why Trammell gets basically no love.
Percentage of votes in 2013 - 35.9%
Percentage of votes in 2014  - 25.2%
# of Years on Ballot - 5
Would I vote for him? - Yes
Will he get in? - Yes, because we live in a just World

Before I start, let me just say that I think Frank Thomas is a monster.  Not like Frankenstein, like a baseball monster sent to destroy baseballs.  This is why I am using Thomas as a comparison here. 

Thomas - .301/.419/.555 - 156 OPS+, 73.6 rWAR, 59.2% of his games played at DH
Martinez - .312/.418/.515 - 147 OPS+, 68.3 rWAR, 71.2% of his games played at DH

Not as far apart as you probably thought.  Thomas had more power and faked his defense a little longer, but otherwise, not very different.    

"Yeah, but Martinez wasn't even the best player on his own team.  Ken Griffey Jr. was."

Fine, but imagine a World where Frank Thomas is drafted by the Mariners.  He'd be in Griffey's shadow too.  Would that have made him a less dangerous player?  Does that make him an inferior hitter?  Why does his team matter at all?  This is an individual honor. 

"Yeah, but Thomas won two MVPs and Edgar won zero."

Ok, but you can make a pretty compelling case for Martinez in 1995.  He led the league with a 185 OPS+ but Mo Vaughn won the award because he hit more home runs and the Red Sox won the AL East.  Basically, the writers screwed up.  It's not their fault.  However, voting for Martinez for the HOF can help rectify that mistake.  Don't double punish him for your inability to recognize his value now and then.

Even though Thomas is better than Martinez, there's enough Hall to go around.  There's simply no reason why more than 300 voters thought Thomas was deserving but Edgar was not.   
Percentage of votes in 2013 - 38.8%
Percentage of votes in 2014  - 29.2%
# of Years on Ballot - 2
Would I vote for him? - Yes
Will he get in? - Yes, but not until the 2020s.

I can at least understand why he doesn't get more votes.  Mussina has the counting stats, so his lack of votes is confusing.  You have to look harder to see Schilling's case, but once you do, I think you'll appreciate the greatness.  127 ERA+, 216 wins, tons of strikeouts and a lot of postseason success.  He was an integral part of 3 championship teams.  That kind of stuff is usually enticing to the writers, but not with Schilling.  At least not yet.  Schilling was brash and outspoken, so maybe that rubbed people the wrong way.  His percentage didn't drop as much as other players, so maybe he's picking up relative support and will get in when the ballot is a bit clearer.

If the 216 wins aren't enough for you, just add his 11 postseason wins and call it 227.  There, now he has 3 more than Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter.  We can call him Catfish Schilling, if that works for you.  Just appreciate Schilling's greatness.  

Lee Smith

Percentage of votes in 2013 - 47.8%
Percentage of votes in 2014  - 29.9%
# of Years on Ballot - 12
Would I vote for him? - Only if paid; I can be bought
Will he get in? - No, because we live in a just World

I can't believe he persisted on the ballot for this long.  Close your eyes and picture Joe Nathan.  Joe Nathan is excellent.  He's much better than Lee Smith.  Joe Nathan will probably get fewer than 5% of the vote on his first try.  Lee Smith was fine, he's nowhere near the Hall of Fame.  He's officially been on the ballot 12 times longer than Kenny Lofton. 
Percentage of votes in 2013 - 36.2%
Percentage of votes in 2014  - 34.7%
# of Years on Ballot - 2
Would I vote for him? - Yes
Will he get in? - Yeah, I think he might.

Percentage of votes in 2013 - 37.6%
Percentage of votes in 2014  - 35.4%
# of Years on Ballot - 2
Would I vote for him? - Yes
Will he get in? - Yeah, I think he might.

I'll just go ahead and put these two together as they will basically be forever linked.  Clemens received 4 extra votes and I'll go ahead and assume those votes are based on the thought that pitching was less affected by PEDs.  I'd hate to think it was a public image thing or a race thing. 

Interestingly, both of these two actually gained support this year, something that only Mike Piazza and Craig Biggio can also boast.  It's odd, but maybe the steroid issue is going to clear up a bit.  If most guys are losing 5-15% of their votes, then staying flat might actually be a good thing.  The fact that they didn't go backward is encouraging for their cases.  Time heals all wounds, as is said.
Percentage of votes in 2013 - 52.2%
Percentage of votes in 2014  - 46.1%
# of Years on Ballot - 7
Would I vote for him? - Yes
Will he get in? - Yes, by a whisker

Raines slipped under 50%, which is brutal, but not surprising.  With all the shiny new candidates, he was bound to lose some votes.  He's a fringe candidate in some eyes, so it makes sense that he would be left off some new ballots.  In fact, I wouldn't include him in my ten this year either.  However, I do think he is a Hall of Fame player and I do think he gets in one day.  He was a dynamic and destructive player, especially at his peak.  He'll probably hover around 50% for a few more years, but the sure-fire HOF players won't come in droves forever and Raines will be around long enough to get his day.

Percentage of votes in 2013 - 59.6%
Percentage of votes in 2014  - 54.3%
# of Years on Ballot - 4
Would I vote for him? - Yes
Will he get in? - Yes

Bagpipes!  I always called him Bagpipes.  I actually thought Bagwell might get in this year, but instead he appears to have fell victim to the CROWDED BALLOTOCOLYPSE!  Bagwell is a no-brainer and if he wasn't all biceps, he'd probably be in already.  That said, there is research that shows that once a candidate gets to 50%, they pretty much get in.  Therefore, Bagwell will wait a bit longer, but ultimately get in down the road.  Just don't talk about the 50% thing with this next guy...

Jack Morris

Percentage of votes in 2013 - 67.7%
Percentage of votes in 2014  - 61.5%
# of Years on Ballot - 15
Would I vote for him? - No
Will he get in? - Yes, via the Veterans' Committee

Morris was well over 50% and he didn't get in.  That said, he's a near lock to be elected by a group of his peers who will no doubt appreciate his toughness, grit, tenacity, strength and resilience, even though those are all basically the same thing.  I would not vote for Morris, but if he had gotten in, I would have been happy.  I like him.  He pitched Game 7 of the '91 World Series!  That is one of my most treasured memories as a Twins fan.  So, the system works in this case, but Morris will get his day.  Until then, let's all just try to remember him as he would want us to remember him:

The Twins need to do the right thing and retire that dance.  It's only right.

Mike Piazza

Percentage of votes in 2013 - 57.8%
Percentage of votes in 2014  - 62.2%
# of Years on Ballot - 2
Would I vote for him? - Yes
Will he get in? - Yes, so long as he doesn't talk about backne anymore.

Piazza gained support this year, which pretty much ensures that he'll make a very charismatic speech in front of a giant rock-Piazza head in the near future.  For my money ($18), Piazza is the best offensive catcher of all-time.  He hit for power, average, took a walk and did so with swagger, or swag, if you will.  I would like to remake Wag the Dog with Piazza playing both the Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman parts.  I'd call it Swag the Dog, but then, you already knew that. 

Craig Biggio

Percentage of votes in 2013 - 68.2%
Percentage of votes in 2014  - 74.8%
# of Years on Ballot - 2
Would I vote for him? - Yes
Will he get in? - Yeah, next year.

Wow, two votes; tough luck.  What if something crazy happens over the next few years and Biggio never gets elected?  Would that make the gimmick ballot voters happy?  If that were to happen, I'd expect public apologies to Biggio from each of those dastardly individuals.  I don't see it happening.  That's a silly scenario.  Biggio should get in next year and then I can start harping on the fact that Biggio is in and Larry Walker isn't.  DEBATE!

The Winners! - Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux

YAY!  I would have voted for each of these bodacious dudes.  Maddux is probably my favorite non-Twins pitcher of all time.  I love a guy in glasses.  Glavine pretty much had to be inducted with Maddux, simply because instead of each giving a speech, they can just re-enact their "chicks dig the long ball" commercial from the 90s.  I am terrified of Frank Thomas to this day.  If he came up to the plate against the Twins in 2014, he'd probably hit a 450-foot home run. 

These are all deserving candidates.  Nothing to quibble with here. 
..that said, can all the Glavine supporters please support Mussina and/or Schilling in the future?  These three were extremely similar, as pointed out by Baseball Prospectus' Russell A. Carleton here.  Now that Glavine is inducted, let's try to induct one of these two each year for the next two years.  TCB, takin' care of business. 

The future - Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz, among others

Next year, the ballot remains #CROWDED.  You add Johnson and Martinez, two absolute slam dunk, empty net, (insert curling term from Wikipedia) candidates.  Smoltz is in the Mussina/Schilling/Glavine camp, so maybe we have to add him to my previous proposal and make it an every year for the next year years kind of deal.  Gary Sheffield is there too and he had Hall of Fame bat speed and bat wag. 

The ballot UNCROWDS a bit after that, with Ken Griffey Jr joining the party in 2016 and Ivan Rodriguez in 2017.  I'd guess that there are a lot of guys elected in the next few years.  This is almost entirely because there are a lot of guys who are deserving.  It's weird like that. 

There we have it.  As the first person to analyze the Hall of Fame results, I feel intense pride and accomplishment.  I hope that other writers follow suit in the future.  For the record, I do fully intend to sell my fake vote to Deadspin next year.


  1. curling term = "draw to the button"

  2. So being "an integral part of three championship teams." is a strength of Schilling but not Morris? Interesting.

    Enjoyed the commentary. I'm practicing my Morris dance now...

    1. Yeah, that's a point in Morris' favor, no doubt. Schilling has more points in his favor though, at least in my opinion.

  3. So you add Schilling's 11 postseason wins to get him above, what about Hunter's 9 postseason wins? Those don't count? Looks like Hunter has 233 wins to me! 6 more than Schilling.

    1. Valid point. Until I can find a way to get Schilling's win total over Hunter's, there's simply no way Schilling belongs in the Hall of Fame.

    2. Drat, that reads confrontational. Not intended. Just joking. Both guys are excellent.

  4. Don't sell Lee Smith short - his numbers are really as good as or even somewhat better than Rollie Fingers or Bruce Sutter, who are already Hall of Fame relief pitchers.

    1. He definitely stacks up against the closers from his era. I'm not sure those guys will stack up to the closers of this era, but I do need to remember that those eras are different and it's hard to compare players like Nathan and Smigth.