Group Chat: Hall of Fame Voting Discussion! (With Mock Votes to Argue About)

Scott:  The soon-to-be-voted 2015 Hall of Fame Ballot is out, and here’s the prevailing narrative: “Big Unit, Pedro, Smoltz headline Hall of Fame ballot.” Group argument chat time! Feel free to answer any of these questions, or to say anything else about this HOF voting season, about recent HOF voting, or about the voting process: Do you agree that those are the top three? Who else are the most deserving candidates? Who are the most-snubbed candidates? I’ll answer after giving a few of you the chance to start. [Postscript: At the end, I tally our votes, which show something interesting about the logjam of qualified candidates.] Moshe:  My take is that Mike Mussina is incredibly underrated. I'm sure Imbroggles will get into the stats, but he was likely better than Glavine, who got in last year, and Smoltz, who will probably get in this year. My second thought is that there are somewhere between 15-18 deserving candidates on the ballot, yet the HOF somehow thought it would make sense to make it harder to get inducted. Pretty dumb. My ballot: Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Mike Mussina, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, John Smoltz.

Matt B.:  My ballot: Bonds, Clemens, Piazza, Bagwell, Mussina, Big Unit, Smoltz, Pedro, Gary Sheffield, Raines. The fact that Craig Biggio will get in over Raines is incredibly frustrating. Raines has better offensive numbers across the board and is the much more dynamic player. Biggio is the ultimate compiler. Zero top 3 MVP finishes in almost 20 years. Jeff Kent is another player more deserving than Biggio and would have my vote if you could put in more than 10. I bet if you asked pitchers they would say they feared Kent more than Biggio. Also I understand the Coors factor, but Larry Walker's numbers are awesome.

William T.:  My ballot, if I had one would be in order: 1. Clemens, 2. Bonds, 3. Randy Johnson, 4. Pedro Martinez, 5. Mike Mussina, 6. Jeff Bagwell, 7. Tim Raines, 8. Mark McGwire, 9. Larry Walker, 10. Mike Piazza.  I'd like to see Biggio and Alan Trammell in there and Smoltz and Jeff Kent. But those are my top ten because of the logjam caused by those who don't get that there are PED users and worse already in the Hall of Fame.

Domenic:  I'll lead off with my fictional ballot:  1. Randy Johnson.  2. Pedro Martinez.  3. John Smoltz.  4. Mike Piazza.  5. Jeff Bagwell.  6. Tim Raines.  7. Roger Clemens.  8. Barry Bonds.  9. Curt Schilling.  10. Mike Mussina.

I strongly disagree with the ... shall we say strange narrative about Smoltz being among the locks on the ballot. He was great, yes, and he won a Cy Young, and he was on some great teams. That's all well and good. However, I cannot for the life of me understand how he is better than Messrs Schilling and Mussina. Consider the following:

Smoltz - 3473.0 IP, 8.0 H/9, 2.6 BB/9, 8.0 K/9, 125 ERA+, 66.5 bWAR, 78.7 fWAR

Mussina - 3562.2 IP, 8.7 H/9, 2.0 BB/9, 7.1 K/9, 123 ERA+, 82.7 bWAR, 82.5 fWAR

Schilling - 3261.0 IP, 8.3 H/9, 2.0 BB/9, 8.6 K/9, 127 ERA+, 80.7 bWAR, 83.2 fWAR

It's all but impossible to differentiate between the three. If you're into wins, Mussina has the most wins of the bunch in addition to having the best winning percentage. If you're into playoff success, Schilling has the most rings and the best post-season resume (both in terms of success, and numbers). I know Smoltz was hindered a bit in terms of wins by being in the bullpen, but he also benefits from spending the vast majority of his career in a pitcher's park in the NL in front of excellent defenses. I think all three should be in, but I might argue that Smoltz would be the odd man out if I was forced to choose two of them...

Brad: My ballot: 1) Randy Johnson, 2) Pedro Martinez, 3) Barry Bonds, 4) Roger Clemens, 5) Mike Piazza, 6) Tim Raines, 7) John Smoltz, 8) Jeff Bagwell, 9) Mike Mussina, 10) Curt Schilling. I think Smoltz, Moose, and Schilling should all be in and should all be looked at relatively evenly based on the stuff Dom just laid out.  I think Smoltz gets the boost up over them here simply because he's a first-timer and they're not.  It's not that he's necessarily better than them, he's just newer.  He "headlines" this year's ballot because he's one of the best new players on it.

E.J.: Johnson, Martinez, Bonds, Clemens, Piazza, Mussina, Schilling, Raines, Piazza, Bagwell. Mussina is definitely on track for most-snubbed, although Schilling definitely deserves more than he gets. His aggregate numbers are Hall-worthy. His peak value was absolutely dominant. I don't understand why Jack Morris almost gets into the Hall of Fame based on one World Series game and Schilling doesn't get a boost from his insanely good postseason record. Also, can we all pause for a second and reflect on Pedro Martinez's career? As far as peak value, does anyone come close to Pedro from 97-2003?

Domenic: As EJ said, Pedro's peak was ridiculous. Here it is in table format (keeping in mind that anything in bold means he led the league in that category, and anything in bold italics means he led the Majors):

[iframe src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/Ai82n/2/" width="100%" height="300"]

Brad: '99-00 Pedro might be the best pitcher of all time.

Scott: My 10: Schilling, Mussina, Piazza, Trammell, Bagwell, Biggio, Raines, Edgar Martinez, Walker, Bonds. No Randy/Pedro; of course they deserve the HOF, and I have bittersweet joyful memories of the Yankees facing them, two of the best pitchers ever, in the 90s/2000s. But I’d be forced to leave them and the probably-deserving Smoltz off, just to make room for my 10, all of whom need the votes more, because all of my 10 (other than Bonds, a special case) are getting screwed by the majority of the BBWAA that skips them while (a) Jack Morris gets twice as many votes as Schilling or Mussina, (b) Jim Rice gets in with over 76% while Raines is stuck below 50% and Larry Walker at 10%, and (c) Derek Jeter is justifiably deified as a near-unanimous HOF’er while the equally great Alan Trammell (his career and peak WARs match Jeter’s) is laughably stuck at 20%. I am literally not exaggerating when I say that if we took voting away for the BBWAA, and gave it to the regulars at the most degenerate sports bar you know, they could hardly do worse; what’s the worst they could do, give 2-3 times as many votes to overrated stars like Morris and Rice than to far-superior underrated greats like Trammell, Raines, and Moose? Reasonable people could disagree with several of my votes: I can see a “very small hall” case against Biggio, Raines, E.Martinez, and Walker; I respect anti-steroid voters saying no to both Bonds and Clemens (I support both, but after including the 9 non-roiders getting screwed by the voters, there’s room for just 1, and Bonds is more deserving); and with 12-16 deserving candidates, I really can't fault anyone with a full ballot for leaving anyone off. I’m uncomfortable omitting the two best (Randy/Pedro) on the theory that others will vote for them; after all, if everyone did what I’m doing, Randy and Pedro wouldn’t get in! But the substantial majority are not casting votes remotely like ours – again, 2/3 to 4/5 majorities have been voting (a) against Moose/Schilling/Trammell yet (b) for Morris and Rice. A voter infuriated by that may well feel compelled to cast strategic votes, like mine, to counteract the knuckleheaded supermajority.

Stacey: Pedro, Johnson, Bonds, Mussina, Raines, Clemens, Bagwell, Smoltz, Edgar, Schilling.

Scott: Ok, here's the tally, among those of us who listed a full ballot:

Scott: Ok, if the 8 of us were the BBWAA, the boldfaced names would be voted in with the required 75%: Bonds (8/8); Bagwell (8/8); Mussina (8/8) Johnson (7/8); P.Martinez (7/8); Clemens (7/8); Piazza (7/8); Raines (7/8); Schilling (6/8); Smoltz (5/8); Walker (2/8); Biggio (1/8); E.Martinez (1/8); McGwire (1/8); Sheffield (1/8). That's nine inductees; the real HOF voting history hsan't yielded more thab three inductees since the Hall's first 20 years of voting (1936-55), and even then, after electing five uber-greats in year one (Ruth, Cobb, Wagner, Johnson, Matthewson), only two other years saw as many as four elected.

While we humble IIATMS writers are only 8 voters, our votes do hint at one useful point: the too-many-worthies logjam is not insurmountable. Theoretically, with more than 10 who are worthy, votes might diffuse among too many folks for anyone other than the most obvious candidates to get 75% -- which may well be what happened last year to top runners-up like Biggio, Piazza, and Raines. But our votes show that the vote-diffusion problem doesn't necessarily prevent a record-breaking number of inductions.

So the backlog can be cleared away in as little as one year if a reasonably well-informed group of voters not only fills the 10-vote ballot (unlike the knuckleheads who vote for only those at the Mantle/Aaron level) but also has some degree of consensus about who is more worthy than others. By "consensus," I don't mean I agree with it all; I place Trammell 4th or 5th on my list, and I'm disappointed in the very low support for him, Biggio, E.Martinez, and Walker. But if these were the real BBWAA results, I'd be extremely happy with those folks waiting a bit longer for their fair chance while the logjam entirely clears due to 9 folks ahead of them getting elected.