2018 MLB Hall of Fame
Like clockwork, with the conclusion of another calendar year comes the yearly dispute over the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. With 2018 underway, new candidates are up for vote, others are running out of time, and fresh controversies are aplenty over what it takes to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
A 2017 vote saw first-time eligible Ivan Rodriguez, last-chance candidate Tim Raines (10th year on the ballot), and Jeff Bagwell receive the 75% approval needed to make the Hall. Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero fell just short as others sat farther below. This year, while some players loom close, several interesting first-time players are newly up for vote. Jim Thome and Chipper Jones are two of whom seem destined for enshrinement, while others such as Scott Rolen, Andruw Jones, Omar Vizquel, Johan Santana, amongst others, serve as some of the more polarizing players up for their initial vote.
Looking at last year’s results alone, it seems like a safe bet that both Hoffman and Guerrero would have a fairly good shot at getting the call in 2018. However, thanks to Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrTibbs), ballots for the current voting cycle are tracked live for those who chose to make their ballot public ahead of time. Thibodaux began tracking votes years ago out of frustration that Bagwell was struggling to get into the Hall.
Thibodaux’s tracker can be found on his twitter page, and at the time of this article being written about 42.9% of ballots are known. Not all ballots are mandatory to be made public, and not all that are reach the tracker before the official vote is known. These points aside, some very informative trends can be seen thanks to the hard work done by Thibodaux. Here’s what can be gathered thus far for 2018:
- Both Chipper Jones and Thome, at 98.4% and 93.4% respectively, seem to be shoo-in first ballot HOFers
- Guerrero, currently at 94.5%, appears to be a safe bet as well
- Hoffman and Edgar Martinez who both sit around 80% are going to be close calls. Martinez, likely more of a favorite of those who share their ballots early, probably has the tougher challenge of the two to remain above 75%
- Bonds and Clemens, both in their 6th years of eligibility, could make slight gains, but may fall about 20% short again
- Santana and Andruw Jones, players who both had strong peaks, but lacked longevity, are in danger of getting less than 5% of the vote, and falling off of the ballot
- Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, and Larry Walker are a few of the biggest vote gainers of those not mentioned above. All three seem likely to come up short for another year, but the trend bodes well for an eventual possible election
- Other first-time eligible players, Scott Rolen and Omar Vizquel are holding their own and appear likely to stay on the ballot for future years
The Steroid Era & Polarizing Greats
With every year comes the typical arguments. Steroid-users vs. non steroid-users. Those who failed a drug test vs. those who haven’t. Wins Above Replacement (WAR) vs. the eye test. Is a designated hitter a Hall of Famer? And so on.
The polarization of Martinez’s candidacy is nothing new. He was a career DH whose counting stats (HRs, hits, RBI, etc) are a bit on the short side, but whose percentages rank him amongst some of the greatest of all-time: Martinez ranks 21st all-time in on-base percentage (OBP), and 42nd all-time in adjusted on-base plus slugging (OPS+). Whether or not voters can look past his lack of a defensive position, or whether they care at all will determine if he ever gets the call.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Omar Vizquel. The Venezuelan-native had a 24-year career in which he won 11 Gold Gloves at shortstop. Vizquel played the majority of his career before the rise of analytics and was thought of by many at the time as a sure-fire Hall of Famer based upon his defensive prowess alone. Some who felt this way cited Ozzie Smith, another offensively challenged shortstop who was a wizard with the glove. However, with the rise of new defensive metrics, and the all-inclusive measurement of WAR, some new-school voters have a different viewpoint of Vizquel. He will fall significantly short this year but has a full decade ahead of him to make up ground.
The official voting announcement occurs on January 24th during which we will find out if three, four, or possibly even five players are elected amongst the game’s all-time greats. Until then much is to be ironed out and be sure to stay updated on public voting announcements until then through @NotMrTibbs on Twitter.