06 January 2014

How Orioles Writers Would Vote on the 2014 Hall of Fame Ballot

Last year, I wondered how the perspective on Hall of Fame voting among the local Orioles writers compared to the writers who have actual votes.  My thoughts were that our writing population trended younger and is a bit more engaged with how front office evaluations are trending toward more analytical approaches.  I asked Baltimore Sports and Life, Camden Chat, Camden Depot, and Orioles Hangout to provide their takes.

 Who did we think belong in the HoF vs. what the voters thought?
Jeff Bagwell (77% vs 60%)
Craig Biggio (77% vs 68%)
Barry Bonds (77% vs 36%)
Roger Clemens (77% vs 38%)
Mike Piazza (100% vs 58%)
Tim Raines (85% vs 52%)
Alan Trammell (77% vs 34%)
As you can see, we are not a representative sampling of the voting class.  Regardless, I think this is a pretty decent exercise, so I asked again with this year's ballot.  Our voters came from Camden Depot (Matt Kremnitzer, Daniel Moroz, Jon Shepherd, Joe Reisel, Heath Blintiff, Luke Jackson, Stuart Wallace, and Nate Delong), our quasi Depoter and Baseball Prospectus' Nick Faleris, our ESPN brother Dan Szymborski, Orioles Hangout (Tony Pente), Baltimore Sports and Life (Lance Rinker, Chris Stoner, and Jeff Long), and Camden Chat (Ryan Pollack and Bill Duck).  I may have missed some in my mailbox.  Hopefully not.  Anyway, our results:

Those not receiving votes include: Moises Alou, Armando Benitez, Sean Casey, Ray Durham, Eric Gagne, Luis Gonzalez, Jacque Jones, Todd Jones, Jeff Kent, Paul Lo Duca, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Jack Morris, Hideo Nomo, Kenny Rogers, Richie Sexson, Lee Smith, JT Snow, Sammy Sosa, and Mike Timlin.

Our voting process would result in Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina, and Frank Thomas entering the Hall of Fame.  Craig Biggo, Edgar Martinez, Rafael Palmeiro, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Alan Trammel, and Larry Walker would live to see next year's ballot.  In addition to those not getting a vote, Mark McGwire also failed to meet the 5% mark to be passed over to the next ballot.

One large elephant in the room are steroids.  Jeff Long said, "I won't vote based on PED admissions, suspicions, or anything of the like. To me, this was a distinct era in baseball where stats were inflated due to factors that shaped much of the game. Similar to the dead-ball era to me, I guess."  I'd add to that about how steroids have been part of the Hall of Fame since 1965 when Pud Galvin, baseball's first documented steroid user, was inducted into the Hall of Fame.  In addition to that, we have seen spitballers, outright cheaters, guys who ritually abused amphetamines, and other black marks that stain certain eras in baseball.

Added to that, we still are not exactly sure how much these "PEDs" improved performance.  It seems sensible and concievable that many of these drugs could improve performance just like a lot of legal therapies like cortizone shots, pain killers, modern surgery that also can positively transform a player into something more than he was.  However, it seems slightly doubtful that gym rats and guys who largely only completed high school would be on the forefront of any pharmacological therapy research.  We have seen that recently with the intense focus on human growth hormone.  A drug that is now largely seen by the medical community as rather useless in improving athletic performance.  That HGH craze was built on a kernel of truth and a great deal of misunderstanding as well as lack of scientific process validating the method.  Something similar still happens with some baseball players urinating on their hands to prevent blistering, which makes sense and requires you to soak your hands in a bucket of it for ten minutes.  Of course, you could just use moisturizer.

Anyway, going back to the vote, you may notice a couple things standing out.  One, Daniel Moroz handed out 16 votes.  He elaborated on his reason why handing in an expanded ballot:
The BWAA is terrible, there are too many qualified players left on the ballot and so I'm going to ignore their 10 vote rule instead of having to think about whether or not I would vote strategically.
I imagine I should simply refuse the ballot as the voting process would, but I decided to count each of his votes as being worth 0.625 votes.  The reason why I did this is because I think Moroz has a solid point here.  There are a great number of qualified candidates and I agree with each of the players Moroz identified as being worthy of the votes.

The second thing you might notice is the challenging that perspective are Tony Pente, Joe Reisel, and Ryan Pollack who voted for fewer than 10 players (as the ballots allow).  As you know, not voting for someone is a vote against them based on the voting process methodology.  I'll let Tony (who voted for Maddux, Glavine, and Schilling, the least number of candidates) speak for this approach:
I'm a guy that believes 1st ballot HoFers should be special, so I'm not voting for Frank Thomas. He'll probably get my vote next year. ... Mike Mussina, Jack Morris, Lee Smith and Alan Trammel belong in the Hall of very good, but I'm not sure they belong in the HoF. ...  Bonds, Clemens, Bagwell, Sosa, Palmeiro and McGwire are steroid products and will never get my vote. ... This leaves guys like Biggio, Piazza and Raines. They are a bit of question marks for me because they are clouded in the steroid mess even though there is not strong evidence against them. They are very good players ... and have to wait for more of a down year to get possibly get into the Hall. 
Additionally, I want to ask Tony about Jack Morris, who he voted for last year and not this year.  He was not alone in this as Joe Reisel did the same.  Tony's thoughts:
I had a change of heart when looking at Jack Morris overall. I just look at his overall numbers, especially his 105 ERA + and just don't see Hall of Famer. He was a very good pitcher for a long time, but it's not the Hall of Very Good. He's a borderline guy for me that falls a little short, especially in a year that Maddux and Glavine should go in.
Tom Tango, the relatively well known writer and baseball consultant or whatever MLB teams have called him, developed a process based on his methodology on how to rank how well certain people voted.  How did we do according to Tango? 
100 Nick Faleris, Chris Stoner, Luke Jackson, Stuart Wallace
98 Matt Kremnitzer
96 Lance Rinker
94 Jon Shepherd, Jeff Long, Nate Delong
92 Bill Duck
89 Heath Blintiff
88 Dan Szymborski
76 Joe Reisel
66 Ryan Pollack
-23 Tony Pente
-100 Daniel Moroz


As you can see, there is a wide variety of views as to how one votes.  As illustrated last year, we are unlikely a good representative grouping to predict what the writers will do.  You can find a partial voting summary here.  Big news...Mussina is unlikely to make it in, but is basically a lock to appear on the ballot next year.

No comments: