Tomorrow the 2013 Induction Class into the Baseball Hall of Fame will be announced. It’s a star-studded and controversial ballot that should reveal a lot about how the BBWAA will handle the steroid era. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, Sammy Sosa and Curt Schilling are all making their first appearances on the ballot. But as the announcement approaches, the big question has changed from “Who will get in?” to “Will anyone get in?”
According Baseball Think Factory, 125 ballots were collected and counted as of December 27th. (There are about 625 total ballots, so this sample accounts for about 20% of all of the ballots). Out of those 125 ballots, no player had received the necessary 75% to be elected. Biggio was the closest with 68% meaning he appeared on 85 out of those initial 125 ballots.
In order to raise that percentage to at least 75%, Biggio will need to show up on approximately 384 of the remaining 500 ballots. That means he needs 78% of the remaining writers whose ballots have not been counted yet to vote for him. Given that the early returns are showing he is polling at below 70%, it’s going to take a drastic spike for Biggio to get in this year.
Bagwell, Morris, Raines and Piazza round out the top 5 vote-getters as of December 27th and they all have received at least 60%. Bonds and Clemens have each appeared on 56 of the first 125 ballots (44.8%). Morris is in his second to last year of eligibility and is an interesting case. His percentage has grown each year, coming the closest last year when he received 66.7%.
Bagwell and Raines also have good cases but like Biggio and Morris they will need to receive a much higher percentage on the remaining 500 ballots than they received on the initial 125. Interestingly, sabremetrics really bolsters Raines’ case so if there is a large contingency of sabremetric voters in those 500 uncounted ballots, then his percentage could jump up quickly.
Bonds (762 HR and 7 MVPs) and Clemens (354 wins and 7 Cy Young Awards) have other worldly statistics. They both would be no-doubt first balloters if there was no steroid allegations but their association with PED’s will likely keep them out this year. Although they will be punished by not being inducted on their first ballot, I think they will both get in within the next two years. There is also little doubt that Piazza is one of the top hitting catchers of all time but he could be lumped in with the steroid group and is a long shot for this year.
Obviously this sample was taken two weeks ago and only accounted for 1/5 of the total. That doesn’t mean it should be ignored though. Just two months ago, Nate Silver used early exit polls to correctly predict who would win each state in the Presidential election. If these polls hold, then BBWAA will elect no player to Cooperstown for the first time since 1996. That is not something that I expected with so many prolific players making their first appearance. I know PED’s play a role but it seems there are still deserving players (both young and old) who should get the call.
All of these questions will be answered tomorrow at 2 PM ET and the debates will commence immediately. I just hope that someone gets elected because it just wouldn’t feel right to have no one get elected by the BBWAA. Not only would it cost these players a chance at getting enshrined but it would punish baseball fans by diminishing the annual tradition of induction weekend – and that would be a shame.