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2016 Hall of Fame Election

Our Ballot Analysis, Outfield


With pitchers and catchers and infielders already taken care of, we’re up to our final BBWAA ballot preview, the outfielders. For my money, this is the most interesting group. Does Bonds make a jump? Where does Vlad start? Does Manny see a second ballot? And will our long national nightmare end with Tim Raines getting elected to the Hall, or will he fall off the ballot?

We’ll learn all of that and more in less than seven weeks!

Barry Bonds

Years on the ballot: 5

Commentary: I’ll never understand how some voters can support Clemens and not Bonds, or the other way around. I do understand not voting for Bonds, in that I can wrap my head around the logic. But I don’t understand it in that the decision doesn’t make sense to me. If PEDs helped Sosa or McGwire or Sheffield get over the line, okay. I get that. They’re close enough that I can see the reasoning. But with Bonds and Clemens, it’s just punishment. If I were a voter, I wouldn’t think I’d have the right to punish.

Best-case scenario: He gets over 50%, older writers keep getting purged and retiring, younger writers who don’t have such glowing memories of when ballplayers only used amphetamines take their places, and Bonds begins growing his support.

Worst-case scenario: The real worst case scenario is the only scenario actually possible. Bonds remains on the ballot but never gets the votes needed to put him into the Hall. His fate will be decided by a dozen or so friends and foes. How they’ll actually feel about the use of performance enhancing drugs is anyone’s guess. How I expect they’ll publically comment is bad for Bonds.

Pat Burrell

Years on the ballot: 1

Commentary: Pat the Bat was just that. He had a good stick but couldn’t field a lick. While he could hit a ton, he certainly couldn’t run. And on this Hall ball-ot, he has absolutely no shot.

Best-case scenario: Some Philadelphia writer likes him enough to throw him a bone.

Worst-case scenario: No votes, no hope.

Mike Cameron

Years on the ballot: 1

Commentary: Cameron is one of the more underrated players of the last quarter-century. And that’s saying a lot for a guy once traded for Ken Griffey Jr. Among center fielders, I put him 38th in history, sandwiched between much more appreciated Torii Hunter and Dale Murphy. He ranks over five Hall of Famers at the position, and he’s a single 5-WAR campaign away from topping three others. With that said, Cameron has as much right to be in the Hall of Fame as I do.

Best-case scenario: Garrett Anderson got a vote last year. Mike Sweeney got three. The year before there was a vote for Darin Erstad and two for Aaron Boone. I think Cameron could get two or three votes.

Worst-case scenario: In the worst case, he’ll get the same number of votes as Brian Giles. It could happen.

J.D. Drew

Years on the ballot: 1

Commentary: Drew was a Moneyball player from a Moneyball era who went to the Moneyball team with the money. And he helped them win a World Series in 2007. He was a pretty big disappointment in Boston even though he was worth more than 3 WAR per season until he got even more hurt in his final year in Beantown, 2011. In fact, he was a disappointment in St. Louis too even though he averaged over 3 WAR per year in his five full seasons there. Disappointment or not, we’re looking at a guy like Carl Furillo or Kirk Gibson or Roger Maris. No Hall of Famers, but pretty good company.

Best-case scenario: A couple of votes.

Worst-case scenario: Nada.

Vladimir Guerrero

Years on the ballot: 1

Commentary: Vlad will have a very hard time being elected this year, and if he is, it will be by 10 votes or fewer. Bagwell’s the heir apparent, and Raines is the second in line with a very high percentage. I don’t think Raines will lose any support to Vlad, and if anything he caps Vlad’s support if the old truism about intrapositional competition on the ballot remains true (assuming that all corner OFs are lumped together in voters’ minds). This is why it’s imperative that the Hall elect Bagwell and Raines and I-Rod in 2017. Vlad will hang around, then next year we get Chipper and Thome who will push the returnees downward as well as Andruw who I’ve got no idea what the BBWAA will do with, plus Rolen plus Omar. Then 2019 is Mo, Halladay, Pettitte, and Helton, and even Lance Berkman could cadge a few votes. Things aren’t getting less jammed up, and in all this, if a guy doesn’t get to 50% really quickly, it’s going to be very very hard to make up ground.

Vlad’s got narrative the way Jim Rice did, but in this strange savant-like way of being so gifted that he could hit any pitch out no matter where it was thrown. Hey, it’s as viable as the guy who didn’t invent the splitter.

Best-case scenario: Elected by this much.

Worst-case scenario: Can’t get out of the 20s.

Magglio Ordonez

Years on the ballot: 1

Commentary: Six All-Star games, a batting title in 2007, and a near-MVP that same year give Magglio something to hang his hat on. Plus, a .309 batting average is nothing to sneeze at. He hit 20 homers eight times and drove in 100 seven times. Magglio wasn’t as good as the above numbers suggest, but he was better than a couple of Hall of Fame right fielders.

Best-case scenario: He could reach double figures. Nomar Garciaparra got 30 votes in 2015, and Juan Gonzalez got 23 in 2012. That shiny batting average and near-300 homers might get him a bit of support.

Worst-case scenario: It doesn’t matter since he’s one and done on the ballot anyway.

Tim Raines

Years on the ballot: 10

Commentary: This is it, folks. It’s the bottom of the ninth for Rock’s BBWAA candidacy. His tenth year, and nowadays, you don’t get 15 shots at it. In 2016, Raines picked up nearly 15 percentage points and sits a hair below 70%. That’s close enough that unless he has Craig Biggio’s luck, he’s got a damn good chance to make it. How good is damn good? Let’s take it back to 1968 when the BBWAA, voting every year, eliminated the runoff mechanism from its procedures. Here’s everyone who got 65% of the vote or more in a given year, and what they got the next year. Bold indicates election.

                        YEAR ON
NAME             YEAR   BALLOT    %    YEAR2%
Mike Piazza      2015    2     69.9%   83.0%
Craig Biggio     2014    2     74.8%   82.7%
Craig Biggio     2013    1     68.2%   74.8%
Jack Morris      2013   14     67.7%   61.5%
Jack Morris      2012   13     66.7%   67.7%
Bert Blyleven    2010   13     74.2%   79.7%
Roberto Alomar   2010    1     73.7%   90.0%
Andre Dawson     2009    8     67.0%   77.9%
Andre Dawson     2008    7     65.9%   67.0%
Jim Rice         2008   14     72.2%   76.4%
Goose Gossage    2007    8     71.2%   85.8%
Bruce Sutter     2005   12     66.7%   76.9%
Gary Carter      2002    4     72.7%   78.0%
Carlton Fisk     1999    1     66.4%   79.9%
Tony Perez       1998    7     66.0%   60.8%
Tony Perez       1997    6     66.0%   67.9%
Don Sutton       1997    4     73.2%   81.6%
Tony Perez       1996    5     65.7%   66.0%
Phil Niekro      1996    4     68.3%   80.3%
Phil Niekro      1993    1     65.7%   59.9%
Rollie Fingers   1991    1     65.7%   81.2%
Gaylord Perry    1991    2     72.1%   77.2%
Gaylord Perry    1990    1     68.0%   72.1%
Fergie Jenkins   1990    2     66.7%   75.4%
Jim Bunning      1988   12     74.2%   63.3%
Jim Bunning      1987   11     70.0%   74.2%
Jim Bunning      1986   10     65.6%   70.0%
Catfish Hunter   1986    2     68.0%   76.3%
Billy Williams   1985    5     74.1%   85.7%
Hoyt Wilhelm     1984    7     72.0%   83.8%
Hoyt Wilhelm     1983    6     65.0%   72.0%
Luis Aparicio    1983    5     67.4%   84.6%
Harmon Killebrew 1983    3     71.9%   83.1%
Juan Marichal    1982    2     73.5%   83.7% 
Duke Snider      1979   10     71.3%   86.5%
Duke Snider      1978    9     67.0%   71.3%
Enos Slaughter   1978   14     68.9%   68.8%
Robin Roberts    1975    3     72.7%   86.9%
Whitey Ford      1973    1     67.1%   77.8%
Yogi Berra       1971    1     67.2%   85.6%
Early Wynn       1971    3     66.7%   76.0%
Roy Campanella   1968    7     72.4%   79.4%
AVERAGE                 5.7    69.2%   76.8%
MEDIAN                  5.0    68.0%   77.8%

Among these 41 cases, the average candidate received an 11 percentage point increase in support and a median of 14 percentage point increase. Just four candidates declined in year two. Fourteen were not elected in year two, which is 35%. If Raines gets the typical boost of someone in his position, he’ll end up gaining election with nearly 76.5% of the vote. Some warning signs for Raines include the fact that most of these guys were relatively early in their Hall of Fame journey, so perhaps their cases were more cut and dried. Of course, much also depends upon the quality of the new candidates, and this class is somewhat mixed in its quality.

Best-case scenario: He finally gets his plaque this year.

Worst-case scenario: He gets a plaque in 2018 or 2019 via one of the new VC committees.

Manny Ramirez

Years on the ballot: 1

Commentary: So what’s it going to be? Punish Manny some more or accept the time served? What I mean is that Ramirez was caught cheating, twice. He paid the penalty through his suspensions. The officially sanctioned penalties of Major League Baseball. So, is that enough for the BBWAA? After all, Bonds and Clemens, if they used, certainly did not suffer any official repercussions. Nor did Sammy Sosa. I think we can safely say that this test case will do little to unknot the issue. It may muddy it more, in fact. The moralists will see him as easy to dismiss, while others may shy away because, hey, their ballot is filling up quickly, so why give a 10th place vote to a known cheater when I can give it to someone like Edgar Martinez? As a player, well, you know, 500+ homers and one of the best students of hitting in contemporary times. His fielding wasn’t as bad as the numbers say because Fenway makes all fielders look bad. Overall, it’s a pretty traditional big-slugger Hall case.

Best-case scenario: He bobs around the bottom of the ballot a few years.

Worst-case scenario: He gets the boot this year.

Gary Sheffield

Years on the ballot: 3

Commentary: Because I never liked him, I’m surprised to see him remaining on the ballot after a couple of tries. Okay, it’s not just that I didn’t like him. It’s that in combination with the fact that he’s only a borderline candidate and was a PED user. He’s kind of Sammy Sosa without the charm.

Best-case scenario: Status quo.

Worst-case scenario: I don’t think we could ever be surprised if he just fell off the ballot.

Sammy Sosa

Years on the ballot: 5

Commentary: Remember when Sosa hit 60+ homers three times in five years (actually four) and won the HR title only in the two where he hit 50 and 49? Sosa was a spectacular player who improved with hard work and maybe chemicals. He’s in the HoME, though barely. If the Hall suddenly cut 10% of its membership and we had to as well, Sosa might be on that cut list. So I understand when writers don’t check his name. Further, it’s not like he’s ever clearly been one to ghe best ten players on the ballot. Even if you ignore the PED use and love Sosa, you still may not be able to vote for him.

Best-case scenario: Maybe people get nostalgic about a time when the Cubs didn’t win and throw him a vote? I can’t see him eclipsing the 12.5% he earned on his initial ballot.

Worst-case scenario: In each of his four tried, he had the least votes or second least of anyone remaining on the ballot. Perhaps this year he’ll get the most for a player who drops off.

Larry Walker

Years on the ballot: 7

Commentary: Todd Helton’s probably not going to enjoy seeing Larry Walker’s candidacy founder. Helton’s a 2019 debut, but the way voters have treated the first important Coors Field candidate may indicate some general sense of how they discount for the Mile High band box. Then again, Walker missed a lot of games, which helps neither his counting totals nor the perception of his value. In reality, he averaged about the same percentage of games a year as Rickey Henderson. But Rickey played a lot longer and is the greatest leadoff man ever. Larry Walker is a top-20 rightfielder, perhaps top-15 depending on how you look at things. It’s a short ballot that’s long on candidates, and I certainly can understand how Walker’s name doesn’t make some voter’s top-10 lists.

Best-case scenario: He picks up five or ten percentage points.

Worst-case scenario: He’s stuck.



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