Wednesday’s Cooperstown results today, 2013 edition

Damned if I know.

I’ll be damned if I know what’s going to happen. I probably shouldn’t begin like that, right? After all, you’re reading an article with a title that very clearly indicates that I do know what I’m talking about.

Each January for the last several years here at the mighty THT, I’ve done an annual column where I predict what the BBWAA will do. I don’t merely guess will/won’t, but dare to give specific voting percentages for everyone on the ballot.

The track record is pretty good so far. Through five election cycles, I’ve predicted vote totals 77 times and been within five points of the result 64 times (and within one percentage point of the actual results 25 times) with an average margin of error of 3.3 percent.

I had to mention that because there ain’t no way my results will be that good this year. My system is based on looking at past elections and overall trends in BBWAA voting to help decipher what the future will hold. But there’s never been an election like the one coming up this year.

My system has always been shakiest with first-year candidates, and there’s never been an incoming bunch of new candidates like the group we have here: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, Sammy Sosa, Curt Schilling—poor Kenny Lofton gets completely lost in the shuffle, dosen’t he?

We’ve had bumper crops of newbies before. 1999 gave us Nolan Ryan, George Brett, Robin Yount, Carlton Fisk and Dale Murphy. 1989 presented Johnny Bench, Carl Yastrzemski, Fergie Jenkins, Gaylord Perry and Jim Kaat.

But, of course, the 2013 ballot isn’t just about baseball talent. It’s also about steroids. Yes, we’ve had Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, but there’s been not one like Bonds and Clemens to really inflame the debate.

Okay, so this is the toughest election to predict that’s ever been. That doesn’t mean we can’t try to estimate what Cooperstown will say Wednesday. As I said, my system is based on studying the past, and here are the 10 guidelines I use in trying to predict what a player’s vote total will be.

1. Consistency

All things being equal, assume the guy will finish around where he did last year. This makes sense, but since things aren’t always equal, we have another nine guidelines.

2. Strength of ballot

The biggest determinant in figuring out what will happen to members of the backlog in an election is how strong the overall ballot is. If you have a weak crop of new candidates, the backloggers should rise. If you have a strong crop of newbies, the backloggers should suffer.

Obviously, 2013 looks to have a very strong crop of newcomers, even with the taint of steroids on Bonds and Clemens. For perspective, let’s look at the two strongest crops of newbies in the last half-century: 1989 and 1999.

As noted already, Yaz, Bench, Jenkins, Perry and Kaat all showed up in ’89, and the backlog paid for it. Most notably, Jim Bunning entered the ballot on the verge of election, having received 74 percent of the vote in 1988. In 1989, he fell to 63 percent. Behind Bunning was Tony Oliva, whose vote collapsed from 47 in 1988 to 30 percent in ’89. Luis Tiant fell even worse, from 31 to 11 percent.

Technically speaking, there was plenty of room for the new guys without having to cut into the vote totals for the old-timers. The 1988 pre-deluge ballot had 6.60 names per ballot, including those elected (Willie Stargell) or those who ran out of time by 1989 (Roger Maris, Elston Howard).

Sure, there was officially room, but backloggers lose support well before the Baseball Writers Association of America approaches the maximum 10 names per ballot. Voters who have put five or six names on their ballot every election for 20 years suddenly feel it’s cheapening things to fill out a full 10 names. In 1989, the overall names per ballot remained about the same—going up from 6.60 to 6.75—despite newbies averaging 3.35 names per ballot on their own.

In 1999, with Ryan, Brett, Yount and Fisk, it was the same thing. There were 17 backloggers—including future Hall of Famers Tony Perez, Gary Carter, Bert Blyleven, Bruce Sutter and Jim Rice—and all 17 saw their vote totals go down. Many had their worst showing ever that year, including Rice (29 percent), Blyleven (14 percent) and Carter (34 percent).

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

This is pretty bleak news for Jack Morris and the rest of the backlog, but as we’ll see in the third guideline, there is some good news for them.

Before moving on, let’s note that it’s not just backloggers hurt by the strength of ballot; newbies can be, too. Jenkins and Perry weren’t elected right away in 1989, not with Yaz and Bench on the ballot. Similarly, Fisk had to wait.

Perhaps the most interesting case was Yount, and it’s especially interesting for what it might tell us about Biggio this year. Sure, Yount became a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 1999, but with just 77 percent of the vote, the lowest total for any 3,000-hit guy not named Rafael Palmeiro in over 30 years.

That’s odd. In the last quarter-century, almost all 3,000-hit players can be put into one of two categories on the ballot. Category one: those who topped 90 percent of the vote. This is guys like Cal Ripken Jr. , Rickey Henderson or Tony Gwynn. These guys were going to be first-balloters even if they retired with 2,900 hits.

Category two: compilers who needed great career records to get into Cooperstown. Think Paul Molitor or Dave Winfield. As it happens, both Molitor and Winfield (and Eddie Murray) won election with 85 percent of the vote, the same percentage for each of them. It’s one of the most impressive bits of consistency in Hall of Fame voting: The three 3,000 guys—all coming up for election in different years—all finished with the same vote total: 85 percent. So you have to figure that under normal circumstances that’s the floor for a 3,000-hit player.

The only 3,000-hit club members in the last 25 years who don’t fit that trend are Yount and Palmeiro.

The problems of Palmeiro are obvious and unrelated to this. Yount? He should’ve been a 90-percent guy with his pair of MVP trophies, but instead he barely skated in with 77 percent. This is notable because there is a 3,000-hit newcomer in 2013: Biggio. He’s the sort of player who in a normal election would get 85 percent. Damn shame for him it isn’t a normal election.

Biggio might get in anyway. If Bonds and Clemens weren’t dinged by steroids, Biggio would be in trouble, but guess what—they are dinged by steroids. For everyone not voting for Bonds and Clemens, Biggio should be an 85-percent guy. Among those who are voting for Bonds and Clemens, Biggio will probably get 60-some percent of the vote.

The less support Bonds and Clemens get, the better the odds are for Biggio.

3. Candidates per ballot

That last bit sounded really bleak, but there is some good news here.

Fun fact No. 1: through 1986, every BBWAA Hall of Fame election averaged at least seven names per ballot.

Fun fact No. 2: from 1987-onward, no BBWAA Hall of Fame election has averaged as much as seven names per ballot.

Last year’s ballot averaged just 5.10 names on it, an all-time low. With Barry Larkin entering Cooperstown, the backloggers averaged 4.16 appearances per ballot. Which is to say, we might have a historic crop of new candidates coming up, but at least there’s a historic chunk of space to give them.

It all depends how much support Bonds and Clemens get. Under normal circumstances, they’d both appear on nearly ever ballot, Biggio and Sosa would be on three-fourths or so, Piazza on most, and Schilling on a bunch. Without the steroids stink, the new crop’s names would average four appearances per ballot.

Well, Bonds and Clemens will perform well below normal expectation, while Sosa looks to do as poorly this year as Palmeiro did last year, somewhere around 10 percent. This new crop is still one of the strongest ever. Along with 1989 and 1999, it will be one of the three best of the last half-century.

But say the newbies average three names per ballot. Combined with the backlog’s 4.10 names per ballot in 2012, that’s just a little over seven names per ballot this year.

Now, seven names per ballot is higher than the BBWAA goes these days. It’s unlikely it’ll go that high this year, and we certainly should expect some overall drop-off from the backlog. But it won’t be the horrific crunch that obliterated Bunning, Oliva and Tiant in 1989. It won’t be the historic hurt that lowered the support for the entire 1999 backlog. Some guys can still rise up this year.

Morris is the highest surviving returning candidate, with 67 percent of the vote last year. My hunch is that he won’t get in. Normally, a guy can rise up from 67 to 75 percent, but Morris is seriously swimming upstream this year. It’s one thing to say his candidacy won’t be obliterated but quite another to say he’ll rise up notably.

4. “Over the top” surge

Well, it should be a bad year for the backlog overall, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be equally bad for all. As a rule of thumb, players on top of the backlog do the best job holding their support. If a player is that high up, a lot of voters consider him the best candidate on the board. Remember how in 1989 Bunning fell from 74 to 63 while Oliva and even Tiant fell even worse.

Logically, that shouldn’t happen. A guy with 74 percent should lose more than a guy with 47 percent because he has more to lose. But that just ain’t the way things play out.

The key point is 50 percent. When a majority of BBWAA voters support a candidate, the logs start rolling in his direction. Voters who haven’t voted for a candidate start going with the wisdom of the majority.

Last year, Morris, Bagwell and Lee Smith all topped 50 percent. Normally, that would foretell good things for their eventual candidacies. In this mess of an election? It means they should fall less. They might maintain or even gain a bit, but that’s about it.

2013 just isn’t a year for the backlog.

5. Comparable candidates

Another key item is if there is a really similar candidate arriving on (or departing from) the ballot.

Look back at Bunning and Tiant. They both fell because three new pitchers—Perry, Jenkins and Kaat—all arrived. All three were more impressive than Tiant, which is why he lost two-thirds of his support. Bunning was arguably better than Kaat and had the over-the-top surge going for him, but he still fell.

Looking at 2013, we have all kinds of new names entering the ballot, though: sluggers, hitters, pitchers—you name it.

The most distinctive backloggers are Smith and Tim Raines, as there are no great relievers or base stealers arriving. Plus, Smith and Raines have some good support going for them already. Alan Trammell also might be helped, as the most comparable person on last year’s ballot was Larkin, and he’s now in Cooperstown.

Steroid backloggers might take a hit. Think for a second: if you’re willing to vote for steroid candidates, you have Bonds and Clemens and McGwire and Palmerio and Sosa. That’s half a maximum ballot. Someone could easily get squeezed off in that scenario, especially if you want to make room for some of the other fine candidates.

6. Steroids (and other muddy matters)

Look, there are essentially two different elections going on at the same time: an election in which voters are willing to vote for PED-associated players, and an election in which voters aren’t. However, the results will be mixed together.

Bonds and Clemens will get near 100 percent of the one election and zero percent in the other election. If you’re not willing to vote for them, then you’re not willing to vote for anyone considered dirty because no one—absolutely no one—thinks their numbers or talent are wanting. But if you refuse to support anyone considered unclean, then their stats don’t matter.

How many voters are in one category and how many in the other? That’s a guess.

The steroids dispute has been going on for a while, but it’s never been so dramatic. People could always say that McGwire or Palmeiro wouldn’t be a Hall of Famer if it wasn’t for PEDs. But Bonds and Clemens were already first-rank talents before people think they began juicing.

More than that, if you’re willing to vote for steroid users, the ballot is impossibly crowded with qualified candidates. If you’re willing to vote for Palmerio and Sosa, maybe you think Alan Trammell is the 11th-best candidate. Maybe you think he’s worthy, but the ballot gives you only 10 slots.

Folks, please realize the BBWAA elections typically are exercises in consensus building. That’s why the over-the-top surge happens. There is anything but a consensus when it comes to ‘roids. There’s at least a rough idea of what makes a Hall of Fame pitcher or slugger or hitter or whatever. Not everyone agrees to it, and there is always a gray area, but there’s enough of a consensus to make the elections work.

There’s also some muddiness with relievers. The BBWAA is still trying to figure out how to handle them. The voters are willing to put them in, as witness the 21st-century elections of Sutter, Dennis Eckersley and Rich Gossage. Then again, Sutter and Gossage had to come from way back to get elected.

Smith has had a very strange Hall of Fame arc. In 2003, he debuted with 42 percent of the vote and in 2011 was still at 45 percent. It’s rare someone with so much support to have so little movement. He finally broke 50 percent last year, but that’s because it was a weak ballot.

Base on points made earlier, Smith should do better than many other backloggers, but I’m skeptical. His candidacy used to be based on being the all-time saves leader, but Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera both have blown him away.

7. Last year on the ballot

Players in their 15th and final go-around typically receive a slight bump, around three percent. This year Dale Murphy is the only player in his final try. He may not get the bump, though, given how big the incoming crop of new candidates is. In 1999, when Ryan-Brett-Yount appeared, last-year candidate Minnie Minoso actually had his vote percentage go down, one of the few times that’s happened to a player in his final year.

At the very least, Murphy shouldn’t lose as much support as he otherwise would, and he might still go up a tick from his 15 percent showing last year.

8. Repoz’s Hall of Fame Ballot Collecting Gizmo at Baseball Think Factory

Every year for the last several years, Repoz, the editor-in-chief at BTF collects and tallies every publicly posted BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot. He typically ends up with about a quarter of the overall electorate.

With returning candidates, I find the other criteria here work better, but with new candidates, Repoz and my own gut sense are the only things I have to go on.

As I write this, Repoz has 94 ballots, though he’ll probably have another 50-60 by the time collecting is all done. ( and ESPN writers don’t release their votes until the day of the election, and that’s more than 30 voters on those two sites alone). As of now, zero candidates are at the magic 75 percent marker.

Biggio is just under, around 70 percent. Piazza is over 60 percent, Clemens and Bonds have fallen below 50 percent, Schilling around 40 percent, Sosa at 14 percent, and everyone else under five percent.

These numbers aren’t perfect, but they serve as a starting point.

It’s worth noting that with some players, Repoz’s Gizmo has a consistent tendency to be off. Over the last three elections, it has overestimated Raines’ support by 8.0 percent. It underestimates Jack Morris (off by an average of 5.6 percent), Lee Smith (5.8 percent), Larry Walker (5.6 percent), Don Mattingly (8.4 percent), and Bernie Williams (6.2 percent). To date, the Gizmo is closer with everyone else.

9. Beware five percent

Five percent is the cut-off point for the BBWAA. Everyone finishing below it gets booted from the ballot. Williams is the only returnee who received less than 10 percent of the vote, with 9.6 percent. Even with the crowded ballot, I figure he’ll live to fight another day. Losing half of his support in one year is unlikely.

10. Guidelines ain’t rules

The above are just things to keep in mind. Nothing is set in stone. That’s especially important to keep in mind with such a bizarre election as this year. Sometimes these things contradict each other, and I have to figure out on my own how to best balance them.

Prediction time

Okay, enough of the dilly-dallying. What does my crystal ball foresee? This:

Name	Prediction
Craig Biggio	76
Jack Morris	69
Mike Piazza	61
Jeff Bagwell	52
Tim Raines	48
Lee Smith	47
Barry Bonds	45
Roger Clemens	45
Curt Schilling	39
Alan Trammell	38
Edgar Martinez	33
Larry Walker	17
Fred McGriff	16
Mark McGwire	16
Don Mattingly	14
Dale Murphy	14
Sammy Sosa	13
Rafael Palmerio	10
Bernie Williams	 6
Other guys 	 7

That works out to 6.66 names per ballot, which would be the highest average of the 21st century. But, okay, it is a rather crowded ballot, steroids or not. Besides, it’s only a little higher than 2003, 2004, and 2007, all of which were 6.55 or higher.

I keep going back-and-forth on Biggio. Sometimes I think he’ll just barely nudge over the needed 75-percent marker. Other times, I see him falling short. All that I’m sure of is that he’s on the bubble.

Let’s go back to the Robin Yount comparison again. Yount fell below the Molitor-Winfield-Murray floor of 85 percent for a 3,000-hit guy not just because he was on a crowded ballot, but because there were two clearly superior players to him on the ballot. Brett and Ryan each appeared on virtually every ballot.

For those willing to vote for Bonds and Clemens, Biggio is the third-best candidate. For those not, he’s the most obviously qualified Hall of Famer, with his 3,000-hit credential. By that logic, you’d expect Biggio to get a Yount-like 77 percent from the Bonds-Clemens supporters, and Molitor-Winfield-esque 85 percent from the others. If about half the voters go for Bonds and Clemens, that means Biggio should get 81 percent or so.

But it’s not so simple. First, Biggio’s reputation isn’t as strong as Yount’s was; 77 percent is the highest support Biggio can expect from the Bonds-Clemens backers, not the most likely result.

Second, there is Repoz’s Gizmo at BTF. Not only has Biggio always been under 75 percent, he’s consistently been under 70 percent. That gives me cause for concern. Still, the Gizmo has been off before with guys at the top of the list. When Roberto Alomar debuted on the ballot, the Repoz’s tally pegged him at 87 percent of the known vote. He actually received 74 percent.

Third, it’s such a much more confusing ballot at top. Among Biggio, Bagwell, Raines, Smith, Piazza and Morris, you have a half-dozen guys angling for 50 percent of the vote or more, with Clemens and Bonds right behind them. All those guys could lower each other’s vote total.

My hunch is that Biggio just skates in. Many voters see 3,000 hits and just check his name. For half of the voters denying Clemens and Bonds, Biggio is the easiest pick because he comes with that bright shiny number: 3,000.

Would I be surprised if Biggio is on the outside looking in when the votes are announced Wednesday? Heck, no. But I still think it’s more likely than not that he gets the call, even if it is only slightly more likely than not.

Check back on Wednesday to see how wrong I am.

References & Resources
Years ago, I took the results from every previous BBWAA election and put them into an Excel spreadsheet. That’s the basis for this analysis.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
10 years ago

Hallmaggedon is coming, and right soon.

I will laugh at the stupid BBWAA.

10 years ago

Chris: I’d add an 11th category: “Announcement Carried Live and In-studio”.

I just can’t believe that MLB Network and BBWAA would go through a day where MLB Network has an all-day Hall of Fame day that ends with an announcement where the guy says:

“we’re here to announce that for the 2013 induction: no one”

BBWAA would be mocked mercilessly, and MLB Network would get raked.

The only question therefore is who make up the 85% of the votes that Repoz hasn’t collected: are they more biased toward Biggio or Morris?  And I think “3000” probably wins the day there.

10 years ago

I look forward to this article all year!  Love it.

10 years ago

Nice Article..

I switch the top two, Morris in, Biggio out.

I also predict a surge for Jeff Bagwell, probably beyond 60%.

Trammell surges too, but this is the last year he increases for a while.

In an older article, the author discussed the possibly coming power of the 26% voting no block keeping the Bonds’s out perpetually. Something to keep watch on if nobody gets in this year – the pressure to elect someone, anyone will be even more next year.


Fan aside: My impression of Biggio as a player is kinda the same as Bagwell – an anonymous Astro who I can sorta picture in my mind’s eye at the bat, but the now fading memory is not associated with any important hits or memories of the game.

(Sorry, Astros and Biggio/Bagwell fans – it’s just one opinion).

Chris J.
10 years ago

Tango – I’m sure they (both the HoF and the BBWAA – as well as the MLB network) wouldn’t intend for that to happen, but they might’ve made the TV deal just assuming someone goes in.  Ultimately, the voting is decided by people with their own individual interests, not the greater concern.  It might help with a some voters – about a fifth of the BBWAA are based in NYC due to the massive national media presence there – but most voters are just thinking of their own concerns.

I remember when the Hall announced their last chance, experts pick for Negro Leaguers.  There was some talk the committee was created to put Buck O’Neil in.  So the committee puts in 16 people – but no Buck O’Neil.  The Hall shortly after puts up a statue to O’Neil instead.  Yeah, I get the feeling the Hall thought the committee would put O’Neil in, but ultimately it’s up to the voters to decide.

10 years ago

If no one is elected this year, we could have ‘four’ inductees next year, Maddux, Glavine, Thomas and Biggio.

10 years ago

Piazza will get in with 79%.  For years he’s been labelled by the writers as the best hitting catcher of all time, or at the very least the best behind Johnny Bench.
Being the best at a position means he has to get in.
Biggio will get in with 84%. 
Biggio is 15th All time in runs scored, 10th all time in On Base %, 5th all time in Doubles.

Paul G.
10 years ago

From a procedural level, we will be lucky if they manage to add Biggio and someone else.  That will prevent a complete logjam.  If they don’t add anyone this year, then the most likely next year scenarios are (a) Maddux by himself or (b) no one.  And at that point we will probably see a special election process setup to clean up the backlog.  That assumes anyone is paying attention to prior history and learned something.  Alas, you can make a lot of money betting against just such a thing.

I suppose there could be some sort of ruling on the PED issue to try to get some movement but any action would be problematic.  You can tell the voters to disregard PEDs in their selections but you can’t actually force them to vote a certain way.  The only options that might work is to make all PED users ineligible for the normal election and either put them in the hands of a special commission or outright make them ineligible.  None of this is going to be fun.

10 years ago

Paul G.

Next year there is no way Glavine is not getting in on first ballot with Maddux.  He’s too well liked by the media.
Jeff Kent is a possible first ballot.

Bruce Markusen
10 years ago

Interesting stuff, Chris. I think you’re right about the top two votegetters being Biggio and Morris.

Based on what I’m hearing, Biggio and Morris are both getting in. It’s going to be close, but that’s my prediction and I’m sticking with it.

Chris J.
10 years ago

Bruce – interesting.  I’d be stunned beyond belief if Morris gets in, but stranger things have happened.

Paul G.
10 years ago

@Scottso: Possibly.  300 wins is 300 wins.  But if 3000 hits is not 3000 hits – which is the scenario I am putting forth – then we are in true logjam territory.  This sort of situation where there are a large number of quality candidates but no consensus can keep even obvious first ballot, should be unanimous selections from getting elected.  Assuming no one is elected or dropped (except for Dale Murphy whose time is up), we could be looking at 23 or more solid candidates for next year.  There are only 10 slots on the ballot and many voters refuse, under any circumstances, to use all of them.  This phenomenon has happened several times in the past and it does not tend to rectify itself.  I mean it is possible that Biggio falls short this year and then both Maddux and Glavine make it together next year, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if either or both failed to make it first ballot under this situation.

If you want to see what a logjam looks like, check out 1942.  Rogers Hornsby was the only player elected.  He only received 78.1% of the vote.  It was his fifth time on the ballot.  True, the man was an ass but an obvious Hall of Famer.  Falling short in slots #2 through #30 are 29 future inductees with support ranging from 58% to 14%, plus further down Kid Nichols who won 361 games!  Now I don’t agree with all the inductions on this list, but the voters at the time seemed to think these were all worthy candidates.  And that’s the natural result: the most obvious candidates just barely get in and the rest of the pack blocks everyone else in the pack.  Fast forward to the next election in 1945 (yes, they didn’t vote for 3 years), and nobody gets in.  (Frank Chance falls just short with 72.5%.)  The top 33 spots are all future HOFers, including a couple of 300 game winners in Eddie Plank and Lefty Grove, each of which gets less than 14% of the ballots.  This nonsense would probably have continued except (a) the Old Timers Committee selected 21 players, reducing the logjam, and (b) several voting reforms finally convinced the writers to select someone.

As I understand it, the big problem in the 1940s was a large backlog of “old timers” that many of the sportswriters had never seen play and therefore didn’t feel qualified to vote on.  Basically, the younger portion of the writers refused to vote for older players and the older players kept trying to get the older players in.  We may experience a comparable situation with the PED players where PED votes keep the “clean” players out but the PED players ceiling is lower than 75%.

Paul G.
10 years ago

That should be “the older writers kept trying to get the older players in.”  Need caffeine.

Jason Shumate
10 years ago

Scottso – I’m a Braves fan, but I believe very strongly that Smoltz will NOT get in on his first ballot and in fact will be like Blyleven and wait almost until the end of his eligibility to get in – if he gets in at all.  There’s a decent chance he won’t.  The exact same things that dog Jack Morris and Curt Schilling will apply to Smoltz and he’ll get a lot less support than you think.

Jeff Kent should get in, but his failure to reach 3000 hits or even 400 homers (not even close to either mark) will hurt him badly and make him wait a long time, if he ever gets in.  Second basemen and third basemen have always been under-appreciated by the the HOF voters.

10 years ago


Kent should get in easily (I hope he will).  The biggest 2 knocks against him are: He didn’t like the media (and they didn’t like him), and like everyone else the PED assumption of the era.

Smoltz is NOT a definite.  But I believe he’ll get in because 1) He was an Ace Starter and a #1 Reliever.  He was better than Eck.  2) The media loves him, and they are the ones that vote.

There is a knock against every up coming player (except IMO Maddux).
Biggio wasn’t dominate.  Piazza wasn’t Johnny Bench on the field.
Griffey was hurt too often.
Pedro’s elite years were short and he was an ass.
Randy Johnson didn’t begin to be dominate till he was in his 30s.
Glavine had poor late years.

Eventually they should all be #1 ballots.

And then there are the borderline folks.
Eventually Schilling should be in (mostly because of his post season successes). 
Bagwell too.  Tim Raines.  Mussina. 

and Bonds. 

Yes even Bonds. 
Baseball doesn’t have it’s alltime hits leader and now won’t have its all time HR leader?
Bonds holds too many records to not include him.  He was too dominating.  As much as we all hate him, we can’t say that MLB didn’t let him play.

If he stays out, what do we do with A-Rod??

Clemens should be in…but he’s such a jerk I hate to write that.

Sosa is another subject.

The Hall of Fame needs to say that any non-illegal, non-banned PEDs or drugs that were used by a player while they played
should not be a reason for banning them from the HOF. If MLB didn’t punish or ban a substance then the player can’t be punished from the HOF.

Bill Rubinstein
10 years ago

The Non-Hall of Fame seems to have more talent per capita than the actual HofF-Rose, Joe Jackson, the PED generation, many forgotten great nineteenth century players like Pete Browning, Gil Hodges, etc.etc. Maybe some entrepreneur can open a Non-Hall of Fame, with plaques and exhibits.

David P Stokes
10 years ago

@Micheal Caragliano:  I don’t remember a reporter finding a bottle of andro and asking McGuire about it.  He shouldn’t have had to ask—McGuire actaully did commercials endorsing the stuff.

David P Stokes
10 years ago

Look, there are essentially two different elections going on at the same time: an election in which voters are willing to vote for PED-associated players, and an election in which voters aren’t. However, the results will be mixed together.

“Bonds and Clemens will get near 100 percent of the one election and zero percent in the other election. If you’re not willing to vote for them, then you’re not willing to vote for anyone considered dirty because no one—absolutely no one—thinks their numbers or talent are wanting. But if you refuse to support anyone considered unclean, then their stats don’t matter.”

The thing is, it’s not quite that clear-cut, for several reasons.  First, I think their might be some voters out there who may vote for Bonds or Clemens on the basis of the belief that those guys had already compiled HoF career numbers before they started juicing, but OTOH won’t vote for, say, Sosa because they believe him to be entirely a creation of steroids. 

Second, there’s the problem of us not being entirely sure who did or didn’t juice.  It’s pretty clear to me that some voters who simply won’t vote for someone who used steroids won’t vote for Bagwell because they think he used, while others who have the same view of the issue in general think Bagwell is clean and will therefore be willing to vote for him.  And you can substitute almost any other player’s name in there for Bagwell.  (I’ve even read things where people say that they wouldn’t vote for Don Mattingly because he juiced, though it wasn’t anyone who actually has a vote.  Their evidence that he used steroids?  He had back problems at the end of his career.) 

And something that doesn’t affect this year’s ballot but I’ll be interested to see in a few years is how the voters will treat players who have failed drug tests and been suspended now that baseball actually has some enforcement in place for its steroids policy.  Will the voters be willing to vote for someone who served a suspension on the basis of the idea that he had already been punished, but continue to “punish” guys who “got away with it” before the current procedure was in place by refusing to vote for them?

10 years ago


MLB, or the BBWAA, or the Hall or whoever is really in charge of all this could easily make a few tweaks in the voting rules that would make all this spectacular TV. To start with, quit putting all eligible players into a common pool to compete with each other for 10 spots on the ballot. Why should Mike Piazza have to compete with Jack Morris for votes? What do they have to do with each other? How about if the candidates came up one at a time, and were voted on by their own merits? How about if one nominee per month came up for a vote? Then on the last Sunday of each month, commencing at 7 p.m., MLB Network or ESPN would do a one-hour retrospective of the player’s career, followed by a half hour of studio debate about the candidate’s merits, followed by the actual in-or-out vote, with each voter’s name shown, in real time, as the candidate watches and comments.

Think you might watch when Bonds comes up? How about Clemens? Wouldn’t that be fun? Think there wouldn’t be ratings for this?

MLB/BBWAA/Hall seem to go about this whole process the most bass-ackward way possible, starting with the Third-World dictatorship voting system, where no one’s candidacy ever seems final (except, I guess, Buck O’Neill’s).

Michael Caragliano
10 years ago


I remembered the incident happening in August of 1998, but I had to go look it up to even remember who the reporter was; it was Steve Wilstein of the Associated Press. He wrote a story where he asked McGwire about using andro, and McGwire admitted to using it. When he mentioned there were already some concerns about andro as a steroid, people dismissed Wilstein as an alarmist- including some of the writers who now are passing judgment on the players for the actions they dismissed back then with a wink and a nod.

Either way, it takes a lot of the fun out of the Hall debate. This was one of the moments I looked forward to to carry me between the end of the World Series and when the first pitchers and catchers report to spring training. As a baseball fan, it’s tough enough figuring out why Jeff Bagwell, arguably one of the five best as his position, is not yet in Cooperstown. As a Mets fan, it’ll be even harder explaining that Mike Piazza didn’t get his plaque due to the same innuendo.

10 years ago

bucdaddy…great ideas!
Or maybe do something like having the voters vote just on the 1st ballot folks at a different time than the non-1st ballot players.

10 years ago

The best thing that could happen in the PED debate is if no one gets in this year.

If Biggio (or Bagwell) happens this year, there will be a quick admonishment to silence for anyone ever mentioning PED suspicion about guys who haven’t been busted.

It will be especially uncomfortable for people to take notice of new HOFer Biggio, a guy inferior to his own teammate Bagwell, so we won’t be talking about it.

Okay, fine today is the last day to ‘politely’ do PED speculation, and in response to what I learned in this article, I ask the following question:

Dear Craig Biggio,

Good luck on your chances getting into the hall.

How come you didn’t have any power in 1990-1992, your 24-26 age years?


A fan!

10 years ago


Thank you.

10 years ago

“David P Stokes said…

@Micheal Caragliano:  I don’t remember a reporter finding a bottle of andro and asking McGuire about it.  He shouldn’t have had to ask—McGuire actaully did commercials endorsing the stuff.”

Yes, this happened. Then the after the next season in 1999 “McGuire” announced that he had not taken andro all year, but did not tell anyone about it.

Among others, Big Mac also was called out for using Creatine, which he was a proponent of. For a while creatine was taking the rap / getting the credit for the other stuff they were also doing, but not talking about.

10 years ago

bucdaddy, if you voted for every player on their own merits, they would all get in. You have to vote for them against their peers, that’s what makes the Hall of Fame what it is. A place where certain players rose up and were better than others.

10 years ago

It’s easy to dismiss Biggio’s power numbers until 1993.  1) He had to learn how to play in the Astrodome.
2) He was a catcher thru 1991.  It’s possible he couldn’t adjust to hitting while catching and then in 1992 he had to learn a new position, 2B, full time

We can say his power (which was never overwhelming) came as he learned how to actually hit.

On the other hand…to say that his power and HOF creds came from his association with Ken Caminiti may not be wrong but you can’t fault him based on his team association.

Michael Caragliano
10 years ago

To think: if you had come to me in October, 2007, right after the season ended, I would’ve been salivating at the 2013 Class, open to debate about how it might rival the original Class of 1936. Now it’s here, and there’s the real possibility that the 2013 induction could consist of the relatives of three men who died three-quarters of a century ago. What a difference five years makes.

The solution will be no change at all. That’s not the solution that should be, mind you. I don’t pretend to know what that solution is, though I don’t think a “backlog special vote” is the way to go. But the BBWAA will go apoplectic if they get wind of any reform that takes away their vote. If you think they’re open to reform, consider two things. One, radio and TV coverage have both been around for several generations now, and the broadcasters still don’t have a say in who gets a plaque in upstate New York. Two, writers who don’t even cover games anymore still get a vote because they meet the basic ten year membership rule. Not exactly the hallmarks of a group open to trying something new.

And the writers will have nobody to blame for this mess but themselves. We all fell for the home run race in 1998, including the writers, who all looked the other way because they had copy for the next morning. Remember the one reporter who picked up the bottle of andro in McGwire’s locker and asked, “What’s this?”. Exactly- I can’t remember his name, either, because he was brushed off. Now, fifteen years later, the writers suddenly have the integrity of the game on their mind, and they’re willing to use it in the form of Cooperstown. Better late than never, I suppose.

So what probably does happen? The problem gets kicked down the road, and except for a few locks (Griffey, Johnson, Martinez, Jeter) the majority of the rest will wait for a Veteran’s Committee ballot to say they’re in.

10 years ago

Paul G.
You make good points.
On the point of Hornsby and anyone else from the voting era, I would add that many writers from the time didn’t believe in a HOF at all, and many were territorial.  There were no real stats, nor sabermetrics, etc.  So an obvious choice like Hornsby or even Kid Nichols were held back.  It wasn’t until the 1970s that players began to be inducted on their first ballot.

Let’s face it, there are many stubborn voters.  If in 2014 Greg Maddux doesn’t get at least 99% then something is wrong.  He is most likely the best pitcher from a pitching and fielding position in the past 60 years.

Biggio and Piazza will get in Tomorrow.  Everyone else will have to wait a long long time because the Nominees are plentiful
In 2014, Maddux Glavine, Jeff Kent will get in.
2015, Smoltz, Johnson, Pedro
2016, Ken Griffey.

10 years ago


No, they wouldn’t.

Paul G.
10 years ago

And no one was elected. 

This is going to get worse before it gets better, I suspect.

10 years ago

Chris Jaffe Was SO Right.
Name   Prediction   Actual Results
Craig Biggio   76       68  
Jack Morris   69       68
Mike Piazza   61       58
Jeff Bagwell   52       60
Tim Raines   48       52
Lee Smith   47       48
Barry Bonds   45       36
Roger Clemens   45       38
Curt Schilling   39       39
Alan Trammell   38       34
Edgar Martinez   33       36
Larry Walker   17       22
Fred McGriff   16       21
Mark McGwire   16       17
Don Mattingly   14       13
Dale Murphy   14       19
Sammy Sosa   13       13
Rafael Palmerio   10       9
Bernie Williams   6
Other guys     7

10 years ago

The writers who voted to give these people CY Youngs and MVPs now say they don’t deserve HOF.

And then there are writers who say they won’t for anyone who played during this era. 
WHAT???  So you won’t watch them play either.  And how do we know who did it or who didn’t. 


10 years ago


Thanks post – very impressive Jaffe – a review vs. the already referenced BTF numbers:

Jaffe added on love for Morris and Biggio beyond the percentages of already counted votes. Now, with the results, for Morris the love was correct, Biggio not correct.

Going along with / agreeing with the early Clemens/Bonds ballots did not work. Both players got less votes then anticipated by CW. Not faulting Jaffe here, but noticing the non-victory.

New entries Schilling, Piazza, and Edgar Matinez were very closely predicted.