Friday, January 11, 2008

Random Rumblings About Baseball Hall of Fame Vote

Well, Tuesday was the day the Baseball Hall of Fame announced the results of the Hall of Fame voting. To nobody's surprise, the only person elected was Rich "Goose" Gossage, the former reliever for the White Sox, Yankees, and Padres. I did have some thoughts about the results, but never wrote them down because I was so busy playing Phoenix Wright. Now that I'm finished with Trials & Tribulations, I guess I can finally share my thoughts.


  • A candidate needs 75% of the vote to be elected. Gossage was elected with 85.8% of the vote. At first glance, there's nothing wrong with that, but upon further inspection, a few interesting tidbits stand out.

  • Gossage got 71.2% of the vote last year. This meant that his vote totals rose by 14.6%. Of the 14 players who were on the ballot both years, Gossage had the LARGEST INCREASE IN VOTE PCT, .4% more than the 14.2% increase Bert Blyleven had.

  • Gossage's 85.8% is the largest induction pct. by anybody not elected in their first year on the ballot since Duke Snider was elected with 86.5% of the vote in 1980. 1980 was the year Gossage allowed a 3-run home run to George Brett in the ALCS.

  • Even though Gossage's 9-year wait is 2nd longest out of the five relievers in the Hall, his 85.8% is the highest by any of the five.
  • Rich "Goose" Gossage: 85.8%, 2008
    Hoyt Wilhelm: 83.8%, 1985
    Dennis Eckersley: 83.2%, 2004
    Rollie Fingers: 81.2%, 1992
    Bruce Sutter: 76.9%, 2006


Many call Bert Blyleven the best pitcher not in the Hall. He has a 287-250 career record, with 3,701 strikeouts and 60 shutouts and a 3.31 ERA while playing most of his career in the American League. Many people refuse to vote for Blyleven because of his lack of Cy Young votes and All-Star appearances, although because he doesn't bring about the same vibe as guys like Nolan Ryan or Tom Seaver. Well, those guys were first-ballot inductees, meaning they were the tip of the iceberg. If you're going to compare people with first-ballot inductees, nobody's going to get into the Hall of Fame. This brings up the entire question with what the Hall of Fame is all about, which I don't want to get into.

Anyways, it's Blyleven's 11th year on the ballot, and he was below 50% as recently as last year. Before the vote, I felt that if he ever hopes to get elected, he needs at least 60% of the vote, because not only would that be recovering the 7% that abandoned him for Ripken and Gwynn, but also picking up an extra 7%. That may give him the momentum he needs to get 75% by his 15th and final year in 2012. And well, he had 61.9%. It's still tentative, because the 38% that didn't vote for him may not be easily swayed, but it provides some hope for Blyleven fans.


Two players did not get a single vote. Jose Rijo is understandable, because when he was on the ballot for the first time in 2001, he only got 1. He had since made a comeback, and I guess a 5-4 record with a 4.21 ERA is enough to drive away that one voter. The other is a bit of a surprise: Brady Anderson. You'd think a writer from Baltimore would have put Brady on his ballot. Players who came 1 vote off from getting 0 votes were Shawon Dunston, Chuck Finley (somewhat of a surprise), David Justice (also a surprise), Chuck Knoblauch, and Todd Stottlemyre. Rod Beck, Travis Fryman, and Robb Nen got 2 votes. Needless to say, they won't be back on the ballot in 2009.


Anyways, I made a graph displaying the voting trends from all of the players that appeared on the ballot for more than one year since 1992. 252 players had been on the ballot since 1992. Of those 252, 180 didn't get to 5% to get on the ballot for the following year, and 16 were elected in their first years. 4 players made their final appearances in 1992. That left 52 players for the sample. I listed their percentages on each ballot and plotted the results onto Excel.

A few notes.

  • If you can't tell, there are a lot more players that get below 30% of the vote, but 30% is still 30%. If I made the graph normally, then most of the action would be squished in the bottom 30% and you wouldn't get to see the minute but important rise and falls of certain players, which is what the graph was trying to capture. So I made the bottom 1/3 the players with 1-10%, the middle 1/3 the players with 10-30%, and the upper 1/3 the players with over 30%.
  • The BBWAA as a whole seems to focus more attentions on certain players now than in the 1990s. Only 4 players in the sample received over 50% of the vote in the 7 years between 1992-1999. There were 7 in the 8 years between 2000-2008. You can tell based on the mass confusion on the upper right of the graph compared to the upper left. And this isn't because there are more players on the ballot now. This sample contained 18 players from 1992, 19 players from 1998, 19 players from 2002, and 14 players from 2008. Now that I think about it, the decrease in choices may be leading to this effect.
  • It must suck to be Jim Rice. Gossage is the 4th players to receive a lower pct. than Rice at one point to be elected to the Hall. The others were Gary Carter (1998, 2000), Ryne Sandberg (2003), and Bruce Sutter (1996-2003).
    I haven't calculated the actual data, but just by looking at the graph, there are four years with massive dips in the voting percentages: 1994 (the year of Steve Carlton), 1999 (the year of George Brett, Nolan Ryan, and Robin Yount), and 2007 (the year of Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken, Jr.).
  • I have no idea how voting worked before 1998 (the year I started following the Hall of Fame vote.) A candidate is supposed to fall off the ballot if he fails to get 5% of the vote, but as you can tell, three players (Don Baylor, Vida Blue, and George Foster) failed to get 5% in 1994 but appeared on the ballot in 1995.
  • Dwight Evans and Orel Hershiser were major losers. They went from getting over 10% in one year to under 5% the next. Of course, Evans' fall came in 1999 while Hershiser's came in 2007.
  • If anybody is able to create a webpage where you can pick and choose which players you want to appear on the graph, please tell me. It could reduce the clutter that you see in the early 1990s.