This Hall of Fame business is finally sorting itself out.
Last year I was worried for both the BBWAA ballot and the IBWAA ballot. A massive logjam of credible candidates was piling up and it looked like it all may collapse on itself.
Last year, within a day of the IBWAA results being released, the internet group expanded their ballot to 15. It still left a few guys who could be hall of fame quality off the list, but they weren’t guys who should be in the hall, merely guys who could be in the hall. The IBWAA has been proactive in fixing the logjam, putting nine players in the last two years.
I might finally be coming around to Sammy Sosa getting a vote.
I have noted that players who have received discipline from Major League Baseball for performance reasons move to the back of my ballot if they’re worthy for the hall. That meant that Rafael Palmeiro and Sosa fell to the bottom of the list when they first became eligible. Since Palmiero is gone from the ballot, that only leaves Sosa. Guys who have admitted to doing something to that might improve their performance or are heavily suspected of doing so get the benefit of the doubt. I mean the only people who are ineligible for the hall are those who are banned by the MLB, not the BBWAA or the National Baseball Hall of Fame. (The BBWAA can hold out players by not hitting enough votes, but they’ve never banned a player on their own from receiving votes)
What I like about the IBWAA vote
The move to 15 is great. It lets us further consider the candidacy of borderline hall of famers. There’s a few guys who fell off the ballot that I wish were still on, but they weren’t likely hall of famers, so I can deal.
The internet writers seem to favor a larger hall than the paper writers. Putting 10 people in the hall the last two years, including being a few years ahead on Mike Piazza, a year ahead on Craig Biggio, and possibly a year ahead on Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines, shows they’re progressive but not completely out of bounds on their picks.
What I don’t like about the IBWAA vote
Randy Johnson and/or Pedro Martinez didn’t get 100%. I was one of two people who kept Greg Maddux from being the first (and possibly) only unanimously elected hall of famer. Both of those votes were withdrawn from Maddux in the understanding that he would get it, that way those votes could be used elsewhere. But I really hoped one of these two top pitchers would get that honor. Pedro was the most dominant pitcher ever when he was in his prime and the Big Unit makes a very strong case to being called the best lefty ever.
The IBWAA uses the BBWAA’s ballot. Over the years the IBWAA has made changes to be a little different from the paper writers. The biggest difference comes not out of IBWAA consensus rule or policy changes, but the hall of fame selections. The IBWAA currently has three players in their hall who aren’t in the Cooperstown hall, and one player who is in the brick and mortar hall, but not in the digital one. These changes are reflected in the BBWAA ballot when it comes before the writers as the IBWAA ballot. However, the other big percentage cutoff is ignored. The past few years, some players have earned percentages from the internet writers that would have kept them on the ballot or knocked them off. For instance, Don Mattingly shouldn’t have been on this year’s ballot and Rafael Palmiero should have been. In the 2015 vote, the internet writers gave Carlos Delgado enough votes to stay on the ballot, but since the BBWAA didn’t, Delgado won’t appear on the 2016 ballot.
My votes as an IBWAA member
All the guys I voted for last year should return and then there’s a few new slots open. Likely I’ll add the shortstops I’ve been neglecting, as well as a handful of closers. And of course Ken Griffey Jr.
My Votes if I were a BBWAA member
I’m glad I’m not a BBWAA member. With only 10 votes, finishing a ballot is very difficult. If the ballot is expanded to 12, which has been passed by the BBWAA membership, but not yet been by the Cooperstown Hall of Fame yet, then it’s a little bit better. But it’s still a far cry from getting all the deserving candidates on the ballot.
Piazza, Raines and Bagwell (who are all in the internet hall) need spots. Bonds and Clemens also need spots. And that’s half the ballot already. I’ll continue to carry my torch for Mark McGwire, and make a case for the two pitchers, Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina, and also the best pure DH yet to be eligible for hall inclusion in Edgar Martinez. There’s nine, so all I have space for is the one shoe-in hall candidate next year in Griffey. If they go to 12 I’d add Larry Walker and Jeff Kent.
But it’s not a problem I need to worry about. It would take a change of newspaper company, or a very strange over-extension of our coverage area, to even become eligible to start my 10-year drudge to hall votes.