As usual, the Hall of Fame election results leaned toward the obvious.
Did anybody seriously doubt that Chipper Jones and Jim Thome wouldn’t be elected in their first years of eligibility? Or that Vlad Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman wouldn’t make it this year after last year’s near misses?
One thing that did surprise me: the plan to make all ballots public got scrapped. That means we’ll probably never know who gave sympathy votes to Chris Carter and Kerry Wood (two votes each) and Livan Hernandez and Carlos Lee (one vote each). Did anybody think those four were likely to be elected? Or even garner enough votes to stay on the ballot another year?
Another surprise: Jamie Moyer won’t be on the ballot next year. I didn’t expect him to make it into the Hall of Fame, at least not via the Baseball Writers Association of America balloting. But I did think he’d do better than ten votes, just under half of the five percent needed to stay on the list another year.
That’s a real disappointment, and I hope the Veterans’ Committee steps up. His path to success was unconventional, but to my mind, that makes his elevation to the shrine of role models all the more important.
Meanwhile, in the middle of the ballot, there were no major surprises, and only one minor surprise. I’ll get to the latter in a moment.
Last year I noted that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens had made significant upward movement in the voting, but that I didn’t expect them to move much further this year. And it appears I was correct. In 2017, Bonds scored 53.8% of the votes and Clemens had 54.1%. This year, they managed 56.4% and 57.3%, respectively.
Upward movement, yes, but not a whole lot. They’ve each got four more years of eligibility remaining, but there would have to be a major change in the voters’ perception of steroid use to give them a realistic shot.
Then there’s Curt Schilling. Last year his number dropped from 52.3% to 45% on the strength of voter reaction to his racist and anti-transgender posts. I expected a bit of a bounce-back, but apparently didn’t allow enough for anti-asshole sentiment. This year he lost another 1.1%. (He also seems to have dropped any idea of running for the Senate, which may be just as well for his sense of self-worth. Massachusetts seems unlikely to swing that far right in the next nine months. But I digress.) I still find that disappointing. There’s certainly no shortage of racist, sexist assholes in the Hall already; the character clause has always been honored more in the breach than the observation. Vote on his performance, guys.
The modest surprise–or perhaps, pair of surprises–is Edgar Martinez. Vote trackers and predictors were in agreement that he would almost certainly do better than last year’s 58.6%. The surprise, at least to me, was how much better he did. 70.4% is a very healthy jump.
The unhappy part of the surprise is how close he came: 20 more would have done the trick. I hope none of those sympathy votes were awarded by voters who left Edgar off the ballot.
Ah, well. He’s got one more year of eligibility, and as several writers have already pointed out, nobody has ever gotten 70% of the vote without eventually making it. I cheer for a lot of “first time ever” happenings in baseball–good and bad–but Edgar not picking up that last five percent would be one I’ve got no desire to see.