HOF 2016

It’s Baseball Hall of Fame time again. Unfortunately, the Hall failed to act on my suggestion to tie the number of candidates voters can select to the size of the pool. Allowing one additional vote might have pushed Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines over the line and into the Hall. On the other hand, some voters clearly feel ten is more than enough–how else to explain the vote for Garret Anderson and the two votes for David Eckstein? Don’t get me wrong here: just as with last year’s vote for Darin Erstad, there’s gotta be something more than their stats involved.

To nobody’s surprise at all, Ken Griffey Jr. was elected to the Hall. He appeared on the highest percentage of ballots in history: only three of the 440 voters failed to vote for him. (Grant Brisbee has a nice piece on why there will probably never be a unanimous selection. Executive summary: some people are schmucks and some are just plain weird.)

Griffey is the first number one draft selection to make it into the Hall of Fame. Interestingly, the other selectee, Mike Piazza, is the lowest draft selection to make the cut. He was selected in the 62nd round, the 1,390th selection. Since the draft has been reduced to 40 rounds, it’s unlikely that–barring expansion–there will ever be a lower selection. Nice way to bookend the Hall.

Piazza actually received nineteen fewer votes this year than last. He made the cut because there were 109 fewer voters, thanks to the Hall purging the rolls of writers who haven’t covered the game for a decade. As several people have noted, the remaining voters are typically younger than those who were purged, and are apparently more willing to use all ten of their ballot slots, consider modern stats, and dismiss unproven allegations of PED use.

Piazza isn’t the only candidate to benefit from the so-called Purge. Mike Mussina and Edgar Martinez* both saw their percentages jump from the mid-twenties to the low-forties.

* Outside of Boston, Martinez is widely regarded as the greatest DH in history–hell, MLB named the annual Outstanding Designated Hitter Award after him–and his continuing failure to make the Hall is an ongoing insult both to him and the city of Seattle. Hopefully the upward trend in his numbers will continue.

Interestingly, the Purge had little effect on the number of players dropped from the ballot. Last year, twelve of the thirty-four candidates failed to reach the 5% cutoff. This year, it was thirteen of thirty-two. In 2015, all twelve were in their first year of eligibility. This year, one second-year candidate failed to make the cut. Nomar Garciaparra saw his vote count drop from 30 (5.5%) to 8 (1.8%). Makes one wonder how many of his 2015 votes came from purged writers who were basing their selection solely on Garciaparra’s time with the Red Sox.