Over the past week, I polled the wonderful minds here at Pitcher List to see who we would elect to the Hall of Fame. My hypothesis was that our staff would vote for more players per ballot and we would be higher on players considered “sabermetric darlings,” such as Scott Rolen, Andruw Jones, and Todd Helton. My reasoning behind those assumptions was mostly based on the idea that, at the end of the day, these ballots do not matter. If a person chooses to exclude Derek Jeter for whatever reason, that ballot and vote do not count toward the actual Hall of Fame vote. But this exercise is still useful to give our readers a better idea of how our staff views the Hall of Fame and the candidates that occupy the ballot this year.
Through our data-collection process, we received 47 ballots from 47 different people. I used Ryan Thibodaux’s Hall of Fame tracker to compare our results to how Baseball Writers Association of America voters are actually trending at this point in time. There are currently 156 ballots we have data on via the Hall of Fame tracker, which comprises roughly 38% of the vote. While these comparisons could change as more ballots are revealed, we still have a nice frame of reference to get a snapshot of how our group of writers compares to a larger pool of voters.
Votes Per Ballot:
Pitcher List: 8.81 votes per ballot (Min: 5 | Max: 10)
BBWAA Ballots: 7.51 votes per ballot (Min: 1 | Max: 10)
My assumption that our staff would vote for more players turned out to be correct. Our ballots have less significance, so it is safe to assume that we would be more willing to add players to our ballots who we perceive as borderline candidates.
Who’s In – BBWAA Vote
According to the Hall of Fame tracker, three players have cleared the 75% threshold and would be elected to the Hall of Fame if voting ended today.
Before looking at the data provided by our staff survey, I assumed these three would be elected to the Hall by our writers. I figured if the general public feels these guys belong in Cooperstown, we are probably inclined to also believe they should end up there.
I was wrong.
To my surprise, one of the players currently polling to enter the Hall via the BBWAA did not clear the 75% threshold on our Pitcher List ballot. Here are the players that over 70% of our writers felt deserved to be in Cooperstown.
Who’s In – Pitcher List vs. BBWAA
Through these results, we would elect two players who would not make the cut currently (Bonds and Clemens), but Curt Schilling had a significant drop-off among our writers. Jeter also saw a significant drop, considering he had collected 100% of the BBWAA ballot. I expected some to leave Jeter off their ballot in favor of electing others, but of the three who did not include him, two only had five players on their ballot. I will not be releasing the names of everyone who filled out the survey, so please leave these people alone for not voting for Derek Jeter on a hypothetical ballot. Andruw Jones made the biggest jump between Pitcher List results (PL%) and BBWAA results (RL%).
Bonds and Clemens make the cut by a substantial margin according to our sample. This did not come as a surprise, as I feel the general viewpoint of sabermetric sorts is that Bonds and Clemens should be included. To no surprise, Larry Walker also makes the cut by a significant margin in his final year of candidacy.
Below, you can see which candidates moved the most in our rankings compared to where they currently rank through BBWAA polling. The key column to look at is PL-RL, as it highlights the leap in percentage each player made.
These are some of the sabermetric darlings I mentioned previously. Jones has been picking up traction in the sabermetric community and has made big leaps in gained votes this year. Despite Jones being around 28%, the ballot is starting to clear up and there will not be a slam dunk candidate until 2022 when David Ortiz is eligible. Players like Rolen and Jones could be the beneficiaries of a ballot where there are not 10 to 12 worthy candidates. I will be interested to see how these names track into our balloting next year as well. The sample will more than likely have different minds behind it, but generally speaking, I would expect smaller gains in comparison to the BBWAA vote.
The section below displays the biggest losers in our rankings. The results were rather staggering, as there are quite a few players I believe are Hall of Fame players. Specifically, I voted for Jeter (I don’t even know if we should count him as a loser), Schilling, and Sheffield.
I feel comfortable saying we do not think Omar Vizquel should be in Cooperstown. Through the scope of my Twitter following and my reading of Jay Jaffe’s Hall of Fame work at FanGraphs, you could say the sabermetric view of Vizquel is that he does not belong in the Hall. Schilling’s case is also interesting, because he is generally grouped in with Bonds and Clemens as deserving, but comes with an asterisk. If we had a larger sample, I would expect Schilling’s percentage to begin trending up toward the 75% threshold.
Above, you can see the results provided by our sample of 47 writers. It was interesting to do this exercise and see just how different the results were compared to what I expected they would be. I believe 2021 could end up being a monumental year in Hall of Fame voting. With each passing year, younger writers are entering the pool and players like Bonds and Clemens become more likely to be inducted. An interesting thought experiment could be to use a linear regression model to see the relationship between years on the ballot and how much that can impact voting. Larry Walker is looking good in his tenth year, and it feels like the longer players stick around, the more likely their eventual election becomes inevitable. Until then, we can await the Hall of Fame announcement on Wednesday on the MLB Network. Follow @NotMrTibbs on Twitter for live updates on BBWAA balloting.
Photos by Richard C. Lewis, Steven King, & John Cordes/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Instagram)