BBWAA elects no one to the Hall of Fame

If Jack Morris had ever pitched this kind of shutout he would have been elected to the Hall of Fame years ago. Faced with arguably the deepest ballot in the modern era of voting, a ballot that included a player with 3,000 hits, the greatest hitting catcher of all-time, and the most decorated pitcher and position player in the history of the BBWAA awards voting, the voters reached the result most of us had expected them to beginning last week, and elected no one to the hallowed Hall in Cooperstown.

More important than the simple results, however, are the vote tallies each candidate pulled down, and frankly these are really depressing for the future of the Hall. At the low end of the ballot, Kenny Lofton (and Bernie Williams) failed to get votes from 5% of voters, meaning that he is officially off of the writers’ ballots, an absolute travesty. At the other end of the spectrum, Craig Biggio came the closest to being elected with 68% of the vote, suggesting that he fell victim to the silliest of all arbitrary voting standards, voters who won’t vote for certain guys in the first year, and will likely be enshrined in 2014. Mike Piazza got 57.8% of the vote, and Jeff Bagwell got 59.6% of the vote, so assuming the increasingly cluttered ballot doesn’t totally screw up the count, both of those guys should wind up getting elected. The only other candidates to earn over 50% of the vote were Jack Morris at 67.7%, and Tim Raines at 52.2%.

The biggest test cases, of course, were going to be those of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, and the Hall can’t be happy about what they saw there. No one expected them to reach the 75% mark needed for election, but neither even reached the 40% plateau. If that’s a true reflection of the depths of steroid hysteria in the voting pool, the next few years of Hall of Fame elections are going to be a total mess unless the Hall itself finally steps up to take some control over the situation.

About Brien Jackson

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

28 thoughts on “BBWAA elects no one to the Hall of Fame

  1. So maybe if it's going to be that hard to get in , we can add some hot stove league excitement by annually removing the unworthy . Off the top of my head , the first to leave would be Ralph Kiner . Other ideas ?

    • "Off the top of my head , the first to leave would be Ralph Kiner . Other ideas ?"

      Kiner's career ended prematurely due to back problems. Over the course of a 10 year career, he posted a .946 OPS, led the league in homeruns 7 times, and accumulated a WAR of 46.2. What's the objection other than his involvement with the Mets? As for other ideas, how about the Scooter and his .706 OPS?

  2. Hate to agree with him, but Jayson Stark lays it out pretty well. (and you've likely covered it more than once, Brien)

    Since there's no way to PROVE who did what – elect players to the HOF based on their merit and performance – AS players, ON the field. Baseball has definite eras – including the Whites only era, that conveniently gets overlooked – just add a clearly marked PEDS-era wing to the Hall and move on.

    That wasn't so hard, was it?

    • well the difference between the whites only era and the PED era is that you could make the choice to take PEDs now but you're only choice back then was to either play in the whites league or not play at all. Not every player believed in segregation, and even if they did, it was kept separate (for the most part) from playing the game of baseball. I don't condone segregation or racism at all, and i agree it made competition weaker, but you have to admit that it is a lot different from the players choice to take PEDs.

      • No, they didn't have a choice. But neither did the players in the PED era – they played in that era, their stats are compared to PED-using players of the era; my comment was more to the point that players play when they can. Period.

        Competition varies by era – be it live ball, whites only, greenies, acid (at least for one game,) or PEDs. So while players likely benefited from PEDs, is it not safe to say that the players in the White league played in a different league and also have skewed performance stats?

        If the HoF is going to be fair to all players, shouldn't they be compared to others of their era, players that had to compete in the same environment? The best player in the PED era is STILL the best player of his era. At least imho.

        • At the very least, consider that creating this prisoners' dilemma and putting pressure on others to juice is supposed to be one of the big reasons that steroids use is the only thing that violates the character clause. Except, apparently this peer pressure logic doesn't extend so far as to encompass anyone that actually did use steroids!

      • Nothing says "I haven't actually put any thought into this!" than invoking Pete Rose when people are discussing steroid use.

  3. It's time to revamp the entire system. Implement a Veteran's Committee style voting system, 6 executives, 6 managers, 6 HOFers and 6 active players with 10+ years experience that revolves would be a decent starting point in negotiations, because this is just utter BS and a slap in the face to Cooperstown.

    • Those are more or less the people that vote for gold gloves… the same people that gave it to a guy that played firstbase 28 times in the season and Jeter.

    • Thank you. The only good thing about the results is that it didn't prevent me from pulling that one out.

  4. I know there are many other bigger travesties in the voting, but Bernie Williams doesn't rate 5%? His numbers are actually a bit better than Kirby Puckett, yet Kirby was a "no-doubt-about-it" first ballot HOFer and Bernie doesn't even get 5%? (FYI, I think both were very good players, but neither were quite HOF caliber.) It's all about perception as defined by the voters.

    • Absolutely agree JEP. Very disappointing regarding Bernie, who favorably compares to Puckett.

      Bernie's case took a hard hit when during the years between his retirement and his name appeared on HOF ballot, the standard for bloggers/"stats geeks" went from OPS to WAR. Bernie's WAR fielding numbers crush his WAR total and thus his candidacy in that regard. So, he he didn't have anyone to champion his case either in traditional or online media. The fact is Bernie was an elite player at his position for 7-8 years. From 1996 to 2002, he was the starting centerfielder on 4 world championship teams, while hitting .323/.408/.537 during that period. That's an extended period of excellence at a vital fielding position on one of the most successful teams ever. His case should have merited more consideration.

  5. I would like to see a very simple reform: simply set a number for how many people will be elected each year. And then have the voting work like the MVP does from there… it is not a yes/no question, it is a ranking question. If it were me, I would make it 2 every single year (from the post 1900 pool of MLB players, with the cap not applying to managers, execs, etc… though we dont need more 19th century players). You could either create a system where the BBWAA elects one every year, and some other committee elects one non-BBWAA eligible every year, or you could have a combined system that was intended to select the best 2 out of everyone not already in, period.

  6. I like Brad's suggestion above. There shouldn't be years like this when no one gets elected. It makes baseball look bad. The only other thing I might change in the future is to add some kind of fan component. We're the ones going to the museum, after all. I also believe it would be a good promotion of baseball: I don't usually vote for the All-Star game but you can be sure I would vote for who's going in the Hall.

    • As long as, by "years like this," you mean "years with the greatest hitting catcher of all time and the best position player and best pitcher of the last 40-50 years and one guy who met the previous rubber-stamp milestone" (not to mention the Bagwells and Raines of the world) — that's cool. I'm not of the opinion that every year HAS to have a election, as there may naturally occur a weak year. But this year? Not so weak…

      • I hate to break it to you, but it's already a "popularity thing." And again, this is MY Hall, it's YOUR Hall. Why should somebody else decide who I get to see? As sportswriter Jonah Keri pointed out, not even all the members of the BBWA write about baseball anymore (they just had to do so at one time apparently), so it's not like they're more qualified than I am to decide who goes in. I'm not saying the fans should have total control, just some kind of influence. MLB would probably never do that, anyway, but some kind of change is necessary.

      • I wouldn't do it as *solely* a fan vote, but I would totally endorse some sort of fan voting being a part of the process. I mean, so what if it becomes a popularity contest? If you were THAT popular amongst the masses of baseball fans, I seriously doubt that your induction is going to represent some sort of epic farce to the place.

  7. Some fan input couldn't hurt, but then again the fans did vote Nolan Ryan, by far, as the best pitcher of the 20th century.

    • Which is silly, but we're not doing tiered rankings in the slightest. It's not like Nolan Ryan isn't Hall of Fame caliber.