MILLER: So the prediction game is a lot easier thanks to the great work of Ryan Thibs and his Tracker. Based on names included in his collection of ballots, there was once some real speculation that we’d get five. Now it’s looking like maybe two? Only Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines?
ERIC: I may see more opportunity for a big election than you, but let’s look at this piece by piece. The probability of Bagwell and Raines gaining election verges on certainty in as much as these things can be certain. With about half the vote in as we write, they are both over 90%, they have both converted more nays to yeas than they likely require for election, and they are both 100% among the 12 first time voters.
MILLER: So we agree on those two. As for the next three closest, I’m not feeling great. Ivan Rodriguez, once looking good in the neighborhood of 85%, has been getting smacked lately. As votes come in with fewer names on them and with fewer or no PED users, his chances are looking less good. I suspect he’ll finish with over 70% of the vote but not enough to get in.
ERIC: I guess I’d say he’s probably a 3.5-1 for election. I concur that the loss of votes recently is very troubling. The back bench of that Hall electorate is much more conservative than the early revealers. If you want to build a scenario under which he just squeaks by, it goes like this: Many back benchers probably voted for him for the 1999 MVP. They remember his numerous Gold Gloves and annual All-Star appearances. And they think Jose Canseco is a freak. So just enough of them check the box to get him home. Yeah. it’s a long shot, but there’s a narrative there, and these guys love narrative. For example: SAVES!!!!
MILLER: Trevor Hoffman should be easier to track. As I write this, he has 147 of 200 votes. That’s three shy of being on pace. Looked at a different way, with 46% of the vote estimated to be in, he’s converted 44.4% of the net non-supporters from a year ago. He’s going to be incredibly close. I’m thinking he’ll finish between 74% and 78%. Right now I think he’s more likely than not to get elected.
ERIC: Believe it or not, I think he’s a shoe-in. It doesn’t matter what his percentage is once he’s in, and hanging this close to 75% among the known ballots is big for him. The back bench voted him at a higher rate than the public voters, and I expect more of the same. I won’t call it a mortal lock, but I would be shockedshockedshocked if those save lovers out there don’t put him over by simply doing what they did last year. That said…I hate that he’s being elected, but I love that it’s this year. Hoffman is merely the best of the rest among closers. After Mariano, there’s just everyone else. Yeah, he allowed crazy few inherited baserunners to score. That’s great! Yeah, he’s got the saves record. That’s nice. He did his job well. He’s kind of like the highest mountain in Colorado versus Everest. On the other hand, I want this vote-sucking machine off the ballot so we can find some room for other candidates.
MILLER: Along the same lines, part of me is happy that Vlad Guerrero is doing so well because his election would also help the ballot glut. Another part of me wonders if he even deserves enshrinement. He’s right around my in/out line. To date, he’s received two votes more than Hoffman, so he’s a mere single vote behind pace. Predicting what the BBWAA will do is anyone’s guess, so I’m going to take mine. I think he’s the type of big narrative candidate who they’re going to like. Unlike most every non-reliever on the ballot, I think he’s going to improve on ballots that aren’t revealed before the election. I’d put his range at about 72-78%. If he edges in, we may have four sharing the podium with Bud Selig and John Schuerholz this summer.
ERIC: If I think that Hoffman’s odds are really strong, I think that Vlad’s are merely very good. Like you, I can’t get a strong read on what the private voters will do. I totally concur that they will love his narrative. He’s kind of like Jim Rice. Rice had THE FEAR, Vlad has THE SAVANT.
MILLER: But unlike Rice, there’s some evidence Vlad was feared. More than a third of his career walks were intentional. Of all players with 1000 trips to the plate for whom we have IBB data, only Vlad, Aaron, Gwynn, Ichiro, and Oliva have even 25% as many intentional walks as total walks. When we get up to 30%, Vlad’s the only one on the list. And Vlad’s just shy of 34%. That’s feat! Also, it’s very bad plate discipline.
ERIC: THE FEARED SAVANT!!!! HE COULD HIT PITCHES THAT BOUNCED LIKE YOGI!!!!
MILLER: Anyway, back to your point.
ERIC: Right. Like I-Rod, many of the silent voters would have been active during Vlad’s early prime when he was garnering plenty of MVP support as well as oohs and ahs over his raw ability. Like you, I think he’s borderline; in a clump with the likes of Bobby Bonds and Sammy Sosa. If we take a longer term view of Guerrero as a candidate, there could be a reason to vote for him even as a borderliner. He, Ichiro, and Bobby Abreu are the only right fielders even close to being Hall worthy, and I, personally, wouldn’t support Abreu. Ichiro will be rightly elected about six or seven years from now. But for many years after that, there’s a big hole in right field. Just look at the right fielders in today’s game. Are any of them realistic Hall members? I don’t see ’em if so. By the time another Hall-worthy right fielder comes along, the Hall will be large enough that Vlad would be electable. The Hall is also stacked with right fielders, and in this way, it could be reckoned that no electing Vlad would help. But even so, electing him and Ichiro over the next 20-odd years will still slow the growth of right fielders and let some other groups catch up. Well, if the BBWAA is appropriately obliging with third basemen and catchers, and especially if the Vets should ever elect a player ever again.
MILLER: You mentioned Sosa, a guy who’s likely to land in the neighborhood of 8-10%. I kind of think that’s someone who should be removed from the ballot in his fifth try. I’d be happy if the Hall gave them back 15 years but made the standard to stay on the ballot a bit more difficult after the first year, maybe 3% in year one, 6% in year two, and increasing by 3% each year. That way Sosa would need 15% this year. I could be persuaded to something like 2%, 5%, 9%, 14%, 20%, 25%, and increasing by 5% each year. Anyway, there are lots of ways to build a better mousetrap. On that, I’m sure we can agree.
What do you make of gains for those outside the big-5 on this ballot?
ERIC: I’m very excited to see Edgar Martinez making so much progress. I’d have guessed that it would be Mussina who picked up a huge chunk like that, but instead it’s the greatest DH ever. Don’t get me wrong, Mussina is making progress and setting himself up for a nice run to the Coop, but I would have put the money on the wins.
MILLER: I’m also happy to see Edgar move. I don’t know what I would have guessed, but I would have certainly hoped for more progress from Mussina. And Larry Walker! I know. I shouldn’t be surprised so frequently that the BBWAA does a poor job understanding things more complex than wins, saves, and runs batted in. Yes, of course Walker’s raw numbers are inflated. That’s why you should largely ignore raw numbers. But I digress.
ERIC: Of course, the most shocking news is the surge by Bonds and Clemens. You’ve nicely laid out elsewhere on our site why this is batsh*t crazy logic, but it does appear to be operative for many of voters.
MILLER: I’m not so shocked with the Bonds/Clemens surge as I am by its timing. I thought the hold-outs would hold out a little longer. But I did think those two would eventually get support. You’re certainly right about the lack of logic in voting them in just because another group voted for Bud Selig though.
Anyway, this is a predictions post, so let’s get back to those. We agree that Bagwell and Raines are in. We agree that Pudge is the biggest longshot of the other three near 75%.
ERIC: Despite, ironically, being the leader in the clubhouse.
MILLER: We agree that Hoffman is more likely than Vlad, though I’m less certain than you are of his induction. And we agree that nobody else has a shot of getting in this year.
ERIC: So we can turn this into some probabilities, right? Let’s make the following assumptions about the electoral probability of the remaining five with a shot:
- Bagwell: 99.9%
- Raines: 99.9%
- Hoffman: 60%
- Guerrero: 50%
- Rodriguez: 30%
With a little multiplication:
- Probability of two honorees is essentially 100%
- Probability of three honorees is about 48%
- Probability of four honorees is about 22%
- Probability of five honorees is about 10%
That’s a heckuva lot better odds for five some than I’d have predicted at the outset of this election. Which is of huge importance for several candidates in 2018, 2019, and beyond. With Raines and Smith guaranteed gone, knocking out three other high-level vote getters would really open the field. In fact, Hoffman, Guerrero, and Rodriguez would represent 900+ newly open ballot slots among them in addition to the 900 or so guaranteed to open with Bagwell, Raines, and Smith’s departures from the ballot.
MILLER: Well, the ballot is going to need those spots next year. Chipper Jones should be on everyone’s. Jim Thome is going to get a ton of support. Scott Rolen and Andruw Jones will deserve a good deal. And Omar Vizquel will soak up votes.
ERIC: Let’s map out the worst case scenario where Vlad, Hoffman, and I-Rod all miss by one vote. Just say that the difference between final and public voting percentages (pre-results) stays consistent for each candidate year over year and that newbies lose on average 2% from pre-results to final (which is the average of the previous three years for candidates who survived the 5% cutoff). And let’s give Chipper 90% of next year’s vote and Thome 80%. Next year would look like this in terms of known or estimated votes:
- C. Jones: 90% (405)
- Thome: 80% (360)
- Guerrero: 74.8% (337)
- Rodriguez: 74.8% (337)
- Hoffman: 74.8% (337)
- Martinez: 64% (288)
- Clemens: 57% (257)
- Bonds: 56% (252)
- Mussina: 54% (243)
- Schilling: 44% (198)
- Walker: 25% (113)
- Ramirez: 22% (99)
- McGriff: 19% (86)
- Kent: 14% (63)
- Wagner: 13% (59)
- Sheffield: 11% (50)
- Sosa: 8% (36)
With an electorate of 450 or so, there are 4,500 ballot slots. We’ve now accounted for 3,520 of them. So there’s 1,020 left, or 2.3 per ballot. Two point three!!! That’s not many to split among the fifteen above, Rolen, Andruw, Vizquel, my pet candidate Johan Santana, and Johnny Damon who could cadge some votes. And one player can’t occupy more than one ballot slot. Now subtract out Vlad, Hoffman, and Pudge and we release 1,011 votes, upping the quantity available per ballot to 4.5. That’s a massive difference for players like Rolen and Andruw who are the kind of subtler candidates that the BBWAA hasn’t been kind to. AND THEN comes 2019 with Mariano the only lock for election, but joined by Doc Halladay, Todd Helton, Andy Pettitte, and Lance Berkman. The problem is there’s a lot of guys in 2018 and 2019 who aren’t no-doubt Hall honorees but who are likely deserving and need time and ballot space to build their case, the same way Tim Raines and Bert Blyleven have (or Jim Rice and Bruce Sutter for that matter). I’d hate to see them not get that lengthy scrutiny because…. Well, my blood pressure is going up, so let’s just say the glut is real and will have nasty effects on deserving players if the BBWAA can’t get itself together to put four or five of these guys over the line.
MILLER: There’s only one more meaningful question. Will Jorge Posada remain on the ballot for another year? I think he will.
ERIC: For all the vote-snatching reasons above, I surely hope not.
MILLER: I think he’s worthy of staying on the ballot. I’m still going to hope for justice, and that means I have to hope Hoffman doesn’t get in, the BBWAA wises up and stops voting for him, and the Hall changes its rules yet again so that writers can vote for up to 18 candidates.
My final predictions put Bagwell and Raines in, of course. Hoffman will get in too. Pudge won’t. And Vlad. Vlad. I just don’t know, so I’ll go with what’s best for the game. Vlad nails exactly 75% and gets in on his first try.
Enjoy the results, everyone!