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Deberg_1990 01-09-2013 10:07 AM

MLB Hall of Fame class 2013. Will no one get in?
Will no one make it this year?

I already can hear it, the outcry if no player gets elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“The Hall is in trouble.”

“The writers are fools.”


Wrong, wrong and wrong again.

Yes, there is a chance — a good chance, perhaps — that no candidate received the required 75 percent of the vote from the voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

The ballots were due on New Year’s Eve. The results will be announced Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET on MLB Network. But if the voters indeed pitched a shutout, it almost certainly will be a one-year aberration, not a reflection of any larger truths.

I recognize that snark is the preferred mode of communication in a breathless social-media environment full of knee-jerk reactions and instant expertise. But all those preparing to get lathered up, take a deep breath and calm down.

Oh, I’m not downplaying the significance of what might occur. The Hall, as an institution, surely would prefer that Induction Weekend features, well, an actual inductee. Even in 1996, the last time that the BBWAA failed to elect a player, the Veterans Committee delivered Jim Bunning, Earl Weaver and two posthumous honorees, Bill Foster and Ned Hanlon.

This year, the third of the VC’s new rotating eras format, produced three pre-integration era inductees — umpire Hank O’Day, former Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert and 19th-century catcher/third baseman Deacon White. All have been dead since at least 1939.

More than 40 living Hall of Famers are expected to attend the induction ceremony, but the attendance at Cooperstown could fall below 10,000, the approximate number who attended the ’96 ceremony. It certainly won’t approach the record 75,000 that saw Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. inducted in 2007.

The Hall would not sugarcoat such an outcome and pretend it’s good for business. But Hall officials will tell you that they prefer a true election, whatever the outcome. They also will tell you that with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas coming onto the ballot next year, they’re confident that the podium will not be empty in 2014.

Heck, it’s not even a foregone conclusion that the podium will be empty this year, not when Jack Morris received 66.7 percent of the vote a year ago and Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza are first-time candidates with no known connections to performance-enhancing drugs.

If no player is elected, it will be due to the large number of intriguing first-time eligible candidates — voters can select no more than 10 players — and more significantly, the consternation over the candidates linked to PEDs.

But that consternation — the intense debate over what to do with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and others — is not a bad thing for the Hall. If anything, it underscores the special place that Cooperstown holds in every fan’s heart.

The voters are easy to criticize. Some baseball writers who are not voters take particular delight in crushing those of us who are (a writer gets to vote after serving 10 consecutive years in the BBWAA, and full-time writers from websites are now eligible to become members.)

No problem — we’re all fair game. But the truth is, I’ve read and heard some remarkably intelligent discourses from my colleagues over the past several weeks — even ones who I strongly disagree with. The high level of debate has made me proud to be a member of the BBWAA.

One non-voter referred to those of us who struggled with our votes as “drama queens,” which I found rather amusing. Would it be better if we approached our ballots frivolously, without thought? Sorry, most of us feel a strong sense of responsibility to the process. The public hand-wringing is largely an attempt by many writers to be transparent to their readers.

Baseball is a talking sport, a sport that produces arguments like none other. The Hall arguments are especially passionate. You may agree with some, disagree with others. But the debate over the PED users, while occasionally maddening, is not a bad thing for the Hall, or for baseball. We’re talking, after all, about the game’s soul.

I fully expect the Twitter version of a banshee howl if no player is elected, but no change will need to be made to the voting procedures, particularly when we likely are looking at a one-time result. If the same thing happened in 2014 and ’15, that would be something different, an unacceptable outcome. At that point, the Hall would need to adjust.

I’m not saying the BBWAA voters are perfect — we have made mistakes, and we undoubtedly will make more. But for the most part, we’ve gotten it right over the years, and I’m confident we’ll eventually get to the right place on the PED users — whatever that place may be.

KC Tattoo 01-09-2013 10:09 AM

No one currs / Pete Rose

Deberg_1990 01-09-2013 12:08 PM

A look at the candidates and their chances....

Biggio: As I noted at the outset of my JAWS series, Biggio represents the most likely to be elected based upon his 3,000 hits and lack of any credible PED-related suspicion. Among modern candidates with 3,000 hits, only the PED-tainted Rafael Palmeiro has failed to gain first-ballot entry; Pete Rose was banned for life before he officially reached the ballot. Even so, this could be play-at-the-plate close this time around. With the memory of Biggio’s protracted march toward the milestone perhaps a bit too fresh in the minds of voters, he could fall short, though his boosters can still take heart; in modern voting history (since 1966, when the BBWAA returned to annual balloting), the highest percentage ever received by a first-year candidate who fell short was Roberto Alomar’s 73.7 percent, and he sailed in easily in his second year of eligibility.

Bagwell: Though the PED whispers are still out there, Bagwell’s merits appear to be winning voters over gradually. Of the candidates to receive between 60 and 74.9 percent in their third time on the ballot — Robin Roberts (72.7 percent), Roy Campanella (69.9 percent), Early Wynn (66.7 percent), Don Sutton (63.8 percent) and Phil Niekro (62.2 percent) — Roberts and Wynn went in the next year, while Campanella, Niekro and Sutton took two more years.

Piazza: Despite some amount of PED whispers, Piazza appears poised for a strong debut, if not one that garners him first-ballot entry. Of the nine players debuting with 60 to 74.9 percent of the vote since 1966, catchers Yogi Berra (67.2 percent) and Carlton Fisk (66.4 percent) were both elected the next year. That any voters considered either of those two — a three-time MVP and pillar of a dynasty on the one hand, and an 11-time All-star who set home run and longevity records at the position on the other — unworthy of first-ballot entry says more about voter idiocy when it comes to the first-ballot distinction than anything else. The same is largely true for Piazza, who is simply the best-hitting catcher of all-time.

Raines: Among the 13 holdover candidates, none appears poised to make a bigger gain than Raines, who received 48.7 percent of the vote in 2012, his fifth year on the ballot. At this point the question is when, not if, he’ll get in, though that could still take a bit of time; the three modern candidates to receive 60 to 74.9 percent of the vote in their sixth year (Tony Perez, Hoyt Wilhelm and Don Drysdale) needed an average of three more years to go over the top.

Morris: Though he leaped from 53.5 percent in his 12th year on the ballot to 66.7 percent in his 13th, Morris is finding the last mile to be a hard one; he doesn’t appear to be making the kind of breakthrough likely to send him over the top this year. Bert Blyleven, the last starting pitcher to be elected, went from 62.7 percent in year 12 to 74.2 percent in year 13 to 79.7 percent in year 14. While Morris’ boosters had hoped he would follow that pattern, he may instead follow that of Jim Rice, who needed all 15 years of eligibility to gain entry, going from 63.5 percent in year 13 to 72.2 percent in year 14 to 76.4 percent in his final year. The alternative is the company of Nellie Fox and Enos Slaughter, who needed to wait for entry via the Veterans Committee after failing to garner that last handful of votes in their final year of eligibility.

Bonds and Clemens: While their failures to gain first-ballot entry will be held up by some as a significant rebuke of their individual merits and of all PED-related candidates, neither of these two is being equated with Palmeiro — the lone candidate on the ballot to fail a steroid test — or Mark McGwire, both of whom have failed to garner even 25 percent of the vote in their times on the ballot. Since 1966, 24 candidates have debut above 40 percent, and the only ones who have failed to gain eventual entry via the BBWAA vote are Lee Smith (42.3 percent debut), Bagwell (41.7 percent) and Steve Garvey (41.6 percent); the first two are still on the ballot, while the latter lasted the whole 15 years without making it and didn’t have anywhere near the merits that Bonds (seven MVP awards) or Clemens (seven Cy Young awards) or both (standings at or near the top of several key statistical categories) did.

Edgar Martinez: In his fourth year of eligibility, his candidacy appears to have stalled at least somewhat; he’s polling at 38.6 percent according to BTF, which would be a gain of just over two percentage points from last year. Among the candidates receiving between 33 and 45 percent of the vote in year four are some who eventually gained entry (Rice, Goose Gossage, Luis Aparicio), some who needed the VC (Slaughter and Johnny Mize), and some who didn’t make it (Garvey, Gil Hodges and Maury Wills).

Alan Trammell: Trammell climbed from 24.3 percent in his 10th year of eligibility to 36.8 percent in his 11th, but he doesn’t appear to be maintaining that momentum; in this, his 12th year on the ballot, he’s at 38.6 percent along with Martinez. No modern candidate who has been that low that late has gained entry via the BBWAA, though Fox, Ron Santo, Richie Ashburn and Bill Mazeroski did so via the VC.

Curt Schilling: Currently polling at 37.7 percent in his first year of eligibility, Schilling looks like anything but an automatic selection. Of the 10 modern candidates to debut with between 30 and 40 percent, only Gossage, Eddie Mathews and Lou Boudreau were eventually elected by the BBWAA, while Slaughter, Pee Wee Reese and Jim Bunning needed the VC and Martinez, Wills, Al Lopez and Luis Tiant are all on the outside looking in. I’d guess that once 300-game winners Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Randy Johnson — who become eligible in the next two years — gain entry and Morris is off the ballot, Schilling will come into stronger focus and begin climbing.

Lee Smith: Smith appears to have been hurt the most by this year’s new candidates; having reached 50.6 percent last year, his 10th of eligibility, he’s polling at 37.7 percent this year. If that holds, that leaves him in VC-or-bust territory as far as modern candidates go.

Dale Murphy: Despite the high-profile efforts of his children to call attention to his merits, he’s polling at just 20.2 percent in his final year on the ballot, and would need around 89 percent of the outstanding ballots to gain entry. That’s not going to happen.

McGwire, Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa: Polling at 16.7, 15.8 and 14.9 percent, respectively, this trio is in PED-linked purgatory, though they at least appear likely to remain on the ballot for awhile. Once Bonds and Clemens gain entry, resistance to other PED-linked candidates may soften somewhat, but it does appear that far fewer voters are otherwise convinced of this trio’s merits.

Fred McGriff: After receiving 23.9 percent in his third year of eligibility, the Crime Dog appears likely to take a hit, as he’s polling at just 15.8 percent this year. In the modern annals, no player receiving that low a share in his fourth year has gained entry via the BBWAA, though a few — including first baseman Orlando Cepeda — have done so via the VC.

Larry Walker: Like McGriff, he’s poised for a staggering blow to his candidacy; after receiving 22.9 percent in his third year of eligibility, he’s polling at 14.9 percent this year. He can look to the rallies by Blyleven (17.4 percent in year three) and Aparicio (12.0 percent) for some glimmers of hope, but it’s getting late early for him.

Don Mattingly: He hasn’t seen 20 percent of the vote since 2002, and he may not make it until year 15. After receiving 17.8 percent in his 12th year of eligibility in 2012, he’s polling at 7.0 percent, putting him in significant danger of falling off the ballot — if not this year, then next year.

Kenny Lofton: Despite being a borderline candidate on the sabermetric merits — he’s below the JAWS standard among centerfielders, but above the median score and among the top 10 at the position — he’s in very real danger of falling off the ballot after his first year of eligibility, ŕ la Bobby Grich and Lou Whitaker. BTF has him at just 2.6 percent, around half of the 5.0 percent needed to maintain his eligibility, and the gathering crowd on the ballot won’t help him at all.

All of the other candidates — holdover Bernie Williams as well as the remaining newcomers — are polling at less than two percent, making it unlikely that they’ll even be on next year’s ballot. We’ll find out who, if anyone, gets in on Wednesday at 2 p.m. Eastern time.

Rudy tossed tigger's salad 01-09-2013 12:11 PM

Biggio and Bagwell should get in

Mr. Flopnuts 01-09-2013 12:16 PM

Edgar Martinez should absolutely be in the HOF.

ChiefsandO'sfan 01-09-2013 12:19 PM

Piazza should get in.

gblowfish 01-09-2013 12:20 PM

Jack Morris was a bad ass starter and pitched in a ton of big games. He deserves it for sure.

ChiefsandO'sfan 01-09-2013 01:00 PM


BREAKING: @officialBBWAA elects no one to @BaseballHall for first time since 1996. #HOF

Deberg_1990 01-09-2013 01:12 PM


Originally Posted by ChiefsandO'sfan (Post 9300058)

BREAKING: @officialBBWAA elects no one to @BaseballHall for first time since 1996. #HOF

Wow, i figured Biggio might make it.

Bagwell and Piazza had PED whispers

Everyone else(Besides the Roid Boys) i see alot of "Hall of Very good" but not Fame.

blaise 01-09-2013 01:13 PM

Biggio should have gotten in. It's bullshit that he didn't.

Marco Polo 01-09-2013 01:14 PM

Biggio and Morris were probably both close; maybe next year?

mcaj22 01-09-2013 01:15 PM

wasn't Biggio good?

in a steroid era nonetheless, while not being linked to steroids? That should be impressive and something to consider

"Im not voting for the Roid boys, but maybe I should consider the guy that put up numbers without roids"

i figured that would be the easy logic here, instead it seems like these voters are just pure elitism at this point

ChiefsandO'sfan 01-09-2013 01:15 PM

Biggio (68.2), Morris (67.7), Bagwell (59.6), Piazza (57.8) Raines (52.2)

Jerm 01-09-2013 01:17 PM

Biggio not getting in is a joke...complete and utter sham.

BigMeatballDave 01-09-2013 01:18 PM


Originally Posted by blaise (Post 9300100)
Biggio should have gotten in. It's bullshit that he didn't.

Yep. 3000 hits. Career .281 hitter.

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