Big Hall of Fame piece tomorrow (and the next day, and the next day, and the next …) but here’s a quick rundown on the ballot percentages and my predictions in parentheses:
Predicted 0 votes:
Aaron Boone: 2 Tom Gordon: 2 Tony Clark: 0 Eddie Guardado: 0 Rich Aurilia: 0 Jermaine Dye: 0 Cliff Floyd: 0 Jason Schmidt: 0
Takeaway: The people who do the most interesting Hall of Fame ballots never write stories about them; I wish they would. I wish the voters would explain how, on this ballot, they found room to vote for Aaron Boone and Tom Gordon. Maybe it would be a great story. Maybe Boone or Gordon saved their lives. Maybe Boone or Gordon taught their children how to read. I want the story, I really do. Brian Giles (0-3): 0 votes — Underrated to the end. Giles was certainly no Hall of Famer, but he had a 136 OPS+ — he was a better hitter than a lot of guys in the Hall of Fame. Not even one vote?
Darin Erstad (0-2): 1 vote — Nailed it.
Troy Percival (0-2): 4 votes — That was a lot better than I expected, but Percival was a good pitcher.
Carlos Delgado (1-4): 21 votes — Well, voters were much, much kinder to low-ballot guys than I expected. That’s good in that voters appreciated that guys like Delgado and Nomah were good players. But it does take away a lot of votes from players who were obviously a lot better.
Nomar Garciaparra (5 or so): 30 votes — Another big miss. Nomar actually got the 5% necessary to stay on the ballot. That’s a good thing, I think. His case should be considered because for six years he was a Hall of Fame player. Is six years enough? I don’t think so, but that is a good argument to have.
Now, we shift to percentages rather than actual vote counts:
Sammy Sosa (less than 5%): 6.6% — I thought Sammy would fall off the ballot but he lives to fight another year.
Don Mattingly (less than 5%): 9.1% — This was Mattingly’s last year on the ballot, and I thought that people wouldn’t spend their votes on him. Closing the book on Donnie Baseball, he topped out at 28% — that was his first year — and then spent 14 more years getting between 10 and 20% of the vote. It didn’t harm anybody, I guess, but that seemed like kind of a silly waste of time. The Hall of Fame has already changed the rule so that players only get 10 years on the ballot. That’s probably for the best.
Mark McGwire (3-8%): 10% (55 votes) — I thought there was a chance Big Mac would slide right off the ballot, but he held relatively steady. This did mark the fifth consecutive year that his percentage dropped.
Gary Sheffield (less than 5%): 11.7% — This was my boldest guess; I thought the voters would shun Sheffield. It was also my biggest miss. He actually did pretty well. He does have a compelling Hall of Fame case; I wonder if he will build some momentum.
Larry Walker (5-10%): 11.8% — He’s right about where I expected; the Coors Field factor and the short career keep his percentages pretty low, but not low enough to fall off.
Fred McGriff (15-20%): 12.9% — A touch lower than I thought — if I had to guess, I would say some of his votes went to Nomar and Sheffield.
Jeff Kent (13-18%): 14.0% — Right in the prediction range; Kent has offensive credentials that line up with the Hall of Fame but I think he’s got an uphill fight with the voters.
Mike Mussina (25-30%): 24.6% — Mussina will need a Bert Blyleven like wave of momentum. I cannot see why voters were so sold on John Smoltz and so unenthusiastic about Mussina, who I think has at least as good a Hall of Fame case.
Alan Trammell (18-23%): 25.1% — He has just one more year to endure getting a small percentage of the BBWAA vote. And then maybe the Veteran’s Committee will take on his powerful Hall of Fame case.
Edgar Martinez (22-27%): 27.0% — Pedro Martinez called Martinez the toughest hitter he ever faced. Facts do not back this up; Edgar hit .120 with 0 homers, 0 RBIs and 11 strikeouts in 33 plate appearances against Pedro. But it was a nice thing for Pedro to say.
Lee Smith (17-22%): 30.2% — Missed this one by a few points. Still, Lee Smith got more than 50% of the vote three years ago and looked to be building a real shot at election. Then these crazy ballots came along that washed out his chances; he has two more years on the ballot.
Barry Bonds (30-34%): 36.8% — I thought his vote total would go slightly down, it actually went slightly up. Still, there’s no sign at all that the Bonds/Clemens sanctions will end.
Roger Clemens (30-35%): 37.5% — I’m always interested in the fact that Bonds and Clemens don’t have the same exact percentage. I don’t really get how you vote for one but not the other.
Curt Schilling (40-45%): 39.2% — I don’t see this ballot evolving.
Tim Raines (53-58%): 55.2% — Raines ballot rises steadily — but because of the new Hall of Fame rules he only has two years left on the ballot. Is that enough time? Maybe. He needs a big voting season next year. We Raines fans must do our part.
Jeff Bagwell (59%): 55.7% — I’m not sure why I didn’t predict a range for Bagwell; I seemed sure it would be exactly 59%. I think Bagwell will get elected in time. I really think that. Getting Biggio in could help him.
Mike Piazza (66-71%): 69% — He will get elected next year.
Craig Biggio (74-79%): 82.7% and elected. — I thought he’d get elected; he made it a bit more comfortably than I predicted. Thrilled for him. Thrilled for me because he finished 11th on my ballot of 10 and if he had fallen short by a vote … Michael Schur would never have forgiven me.
John Smoltz (88-92%: 82.7% — And he finished a bit below were I expected. He still was voted in comfortably. And I still don’t quite see how he’s a better Hall of Fame candidate than Schilling or Mussina.
Pedro Martinez (92-96%): 91.1% — Almost nine percent of the voters saw Pedro Martinez pitch — they saw him just like you and me — and decided not to check his name. It doesn’t matter. But it’s such a loss for them. If you don’t get goosebumps of joy doing your part to elect players like Pedro Martinez into the Hall of Fame, I have no idea why you vote in the first place.
Randy Johnson (97%): 97.3% — I have to go back and find the story I wrote when I saw Randy Johnson pitch a Class AA playoff game in Jacksonville. At the time he was more an oddity than a prospect. I think of it now like seeing the Beatles play in Liverpool before they were discovered.