Why Fans Don’t Vote

Here’s why, as bad as the sportswriters are, the fans should never control the doors to the HOF. Less than 75% think Ricky Henderson is a HOF player. 10-time all-star, MVP, most runs in history, most steals in history, 2nd most walks in history, 297 HR, 3055 hits. Only 74% think that describes a Hall of Fame player.

I’ll put off my diatribes about Tim Raines and Bert Blyleven until the writers show that they’re only slightly less dumb.

I actually have a spreadsheet on which I record vote totals for the HOF to look at trends and make predictions. For this year:

  • Jim Rice is in his last year. On average, this is worth three points in the polling, which would be enough to put him over. Moreover, the obnoxious Red Sox Nation is determined to get him in even though he was probably the third best Red Sox outfielder of the 1970’s and wasn’t 2/3 of the player Dwight Evans was. No player has ever polled over 50% with the writers and not gotten in eventually, although many needed the veteran’s committee. He’s in.
  • Andre Dawson. He’s over 60%, so he will be elected eventually. But not until after Rice is off the ballot. The writers have a tendency to vote for only one slugger at a time.
  • Bert Blyleven. He’ll fall short again. His support has increased quite a bit but too many writers are too stupid to vote him in. He will eventually get in, however. It would be unprecedented for someone who’s polled as high as 61.9% to not get in eventually.
  • Ricky Henderson. In. The writers aren’t as dumb as the fans.
  • Mark McGwire. He will pick up some votes but he’s a long way off. I would vote for him myself, since I believe in penalizing the era for steroid use, rather than whatever player happen to be on my shit list.
  • Jack Morris. His support is tapering off as the push against him grows. Anyone who would vote for Jack Morris over Bert Blyleven has rocks in his head. Blyleven not only had a better career, but pitched better in the post-season (look it up).

    The argument for Morris boils down to (1) Game 7 of the 1991 series; (2) Morris won the most games between two years that end in 0. Really, that’s it. He was a consistently good pitcher for a while and the HOF wouldn’t be disgraced by his presence. But it’s a simple fact that had Lonnie Smith not lost track of a baseball in game seven, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    Anyway, Morris won’t get any further, I hope.

  • Tim Raines. He belongs. His 24.3% debut last year was disgraceful. But he won’t get elected in the same year that a comparable player — Henderson — is on the ballot. Expect a drop in his support followed by slow gains as the writers are educated by the fans.
  • Lee Smith. With Sutter, Fingers and Gossage in, the support for closers falls to Smith. He isn’t really a HOFer. But having polled at 45%, I expect a big pickup this year that will put him over the 50% line that usually indicates induction.
  • If I had to put hard numbers on it, I’d go:

    Henderson – high 80’s – inducted
    Rice – barely over 75% – inducted
    Dawson – low 60’s, gets in eventually
    Blyleven – mid 60’s, gets in eventually
    Smith – low 50’s, gets in eventually
    Morris – low 40’s
    John – breaks the 30 barrier in his last year
    McGwire – about 25%, same as last year
    Mattingly, Murphy, Parker, Trammell – low teens
    Cone – gets some support in the mid-teens
    Baines – drops off the ballot
    Grace – polls just over 5% to stay on the ballot for a few years. He got the most hits between two years ending in 0, you know.
    Orosco – same deal because he briefly had the career lead in appearances
    Mo Vaughn, Matt Williams – might just scrape over 5% as people remember their good year
    Bell, Gant, Plesac, Greg Vaughn – below 5%

    Things are going to get interesting in the coming years. Look at the future ballots:

    2010 – Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff (Alomar and Larkin eventually get in, Martinez and McGriff struggle)

    2011 – Jeff Bagwell, Kevin Brown, Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro, Larry Walker (Bagwell gets in, the others fade. Palmeiro pays the price for his Congressional performance).

    2012 – Bernie Williams

    So lots of space for Dawson, Blyleven, Smith and Raines to move up. Then it gets crazy.

    2013 – Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Kenny Lofton, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa

    This is assuming Clemens, Bonds, Schilling and Sosa stay retired. The steroid controversy is just going to explode that year. Of more importance, arguably, is that four of the greatest players of all time will be on the ballot. Anyone who hasn’t gotten into the HOF by 2013 isn’t going to.

    That class is going to be followed, over the next 1-4 years, by Mike Mussina, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Trevor Hoffman, Mariano Rivera, Ken Griffey, Pudge Rodriguez, Frank Thomas and Jeff Kent — clear HOFers all. It would not surprise me if the Hall has to go to a runoff ballot at some point. They’re about to have the same problem they had in the 50’s — too many good names on the ballot.