Tonight at 6 PM eastern, the newest inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame elected by the BBWAA will be announced by Jeff Idelson, with a livesteam on MLB.com
Thanks to the ballot tracking efforts of Ryan Thibodaux, there are a number of things about the results that are essentially baked into the cake. First and foremost for Blue Jays fans regards Roy Halladay. With 220 ballots known as of this morning, Doc’s name has been ticked on 204, or just under 93%. While the remainder of the votes will inevitably be less favourable, what’s already in will represent a little north half the vote so Halladay would have to left off 40-45% of the rest of the votes to miss the 75% threshold for election. That would be completely unprecedented.
Thus, it is virtually certain that in a few hours, Halladay will be announced as the eighth player in franchise history to go into Cooperstown, joining Phil Niekro (1987), Roberto Alomar (1991-95), Jack Morris (1992-93), Dave Winfield (1992), Paul Molitor (1993-95), Rickey Henderson (1993), and Frank Thomas (2007-08).
But it goes beyond that. Not only will Halladay be the second player whose plaque will feature the Blue Jays logo, but he’ll be the first player in Cooperstown to have been drafted and developed by the Blue Jays in their now 40+ year history. No other player on the above list spent more than five season in Toronto — Halladay spent 12.
From being drafted in June 1995 to being traded in December 2009, Halladay spent 14.5 years in the organization, which ranks third in franchise history behind Carlos Delgado and Dave Stieb (and seriously, if the Veteran’s Committee is going to put in Morris, how can Stieb be passed over?). His over 10 years of MLB service with the team ranks 5th in franchise history. Perhaps it’s a reflection of Alomar in particular being before my time, but in my view none of the other Blue Jays in Cooperstown will be so indelibly linked to the team.
Let’s go through some other points of interest regarding the Hall of Fame election results:
- Joining Halladay in the Class of 2019 will be Mariano Rivera and Edgar Martinez, both certainly worthy inductees. Rivera is a perfect 220/220 thus far, so the intrigue here is whether he will maintain this and be the first unanimous inductee. I’ll guess not, but maybe the Yankee mystique (barf) carries him there. Martinez fell just shy last year at 70.4%, and has already netted more than the 20 added votes he needed. He should end up a little north of 80%
- The biggest question is whether a fourth will be elected, as Mike Mussina is currently sitting at 81%. We know from the experience of past years that will fall significantly, and my guess is he’ll fall short, in the low-70s which will set him up to sail in next year. Though it’s close, Mussina just hasn’t flipped enough voters to make up the gap from last year’s 63.5%, and the remaining voters are much less likely to vote for him (the 200 voters thus far with public votes in both years increased their support from 73.5% to 82.5%, but the rest of the voters only supported him at around 55% last year).
- Fred McGriff has made massive gains in his 10th and last year of eligibility, increased from 22% support to 39% support. And he could actually increase from here, as the current voters supported him at much lower rate than the ones still out there (under 20% compared to about 30%). It’s not going to be get him elected (he’s already mathematically eliminated), but should clear the way to make it into Cooperstown in the very near future. Some of this is the traditional last year sendoff bounce, and some is surely the selection of Harold Baines by the Veteran’s Committee,
- The other candidate making massive gains is Larry Walker, who is around 65% currently compared to 34% last year. This is leading to some speculation or very cautious optimism he could have a shot at election in his last year of eligibility next year. That’s probably a bridge too far, as I expect he’ll finish closer to 50% this year, maybe 55%. The current voters supported him more than 10% above what the remaining voters did, so even if they add him ad a similarly massive rate, he’s going to regress (and I don’t think they will to the same extent). Still, this surge virtually guarantees what was likely after last year — he should easily clear 60% next year and sail through the Veteran’s Committee within the next decade.
- Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds appear to have stalled out. After making big gains from 2015-17 that bumped them from the mid-30s to the mid-50s in three years, the momentum stalled out last year as they only added about 3% into the high-50s. 2019 is shaping up similarly, and unless a bunch of the holdout voters change their mind, the trend doesn’t look good for them.
- Other candidates making significant gains are Curt Schilling and Scott Rolen. Schilling’s probably still a couple years away after getting bumped down the pecking order with his commentary on journalists, but he should jump from 51% last year to close to 60%, and then maybe close to 70% next year and election in his last year of eligibility in 2021. Rolen hopefully follows the Larry Walker trajectory, just a little faster (and should be a little easier with less crowded future ballots than Walker faced years ago
- None of the other returning candidates figure to fall off the ballot with less than 5%. Todd Helton and likely Andy Pettitte should be the only two first time candidates to clear 5%, which would mean 15 holdovers for next year’s ballot (as there were this year).
With all of our Hall of Fame polls now done, let’s take a look at what the results would be if the electorate were BBB readers:
Using the 75% same standard, we’d have a 2020 Hall of Fame Class of five players: Halladay, Rivera, Walker, Martinez, and McGriff. Definitely no bias there. Of course, all of the non-first ballot electees would have already been elected, so there’s that. And the fact that if you add all the percentages up, you get an average of 12.5 votes per ballot...
If I had a vote? My ballot would be Bonds, Clemens, Halladay, Andruw Jones, Edgar, Mussina, Schilling, Rivera, Rolen, Walker.
McGriff is just a little short for me with how he tailed off in the second half of his career, and I need to look deeper into Helton to really suss out the Coors effect since he’s otherwise pretty borderline. The ballot opens up next year with Derek Jeter the only slam dunk, Sheffield probably merits a closer look too.
Give us your ballot of up to 10 in the comments.