Monday, January 6, 2014

Filling out the Hall of Fame ballots

Shortly after my return from Cooperstown I commented on the backlog of highly qualified Hall of Fame candidates overflowing the writers' ballots — and the predictions that the writers would continue to struggle to elect anyone.

There are signs that that gloomy (at least for those who want to see players elected to the Hall) outlook was/is too pessimistic.

Over on Hardball Times today, Chris Jaffe's annual prediction has four players elected: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas and Craig Biggio. Four's a lot — the writers haven't elected more than three in my lifetime — and I'll be surprised if it is truly that high.

A big part of why Jaffe thinks a big block of inductees are coming is that there is evidence — both anecdotal and statistical — that the writers are going much deeper on their ballots than usual. The voters can vote for up to 10 players; they typically vote for around five names apiece (some more, some less).

This year, according to the ballot collecting "gizmo" at Baseball Think Factory, the known ballots are averaging better than nine names apiece.

Which matches something Tyler Kepner of the New York Times tweeted a while back:

And it's my recollection, although I can't find it, that Patrick Ruesse said he voted for nine (and felt a little soiled going that high.)

I hope Jaffe's right, that the electorate is going deeper into the ballot, and that multiple players will be elected. If an old-school small-ballot guy like Ruesse is voting for nine, it just may be so.

But I'm going to have to see it to believe it. I still think there's a hardcore group in the BBWAA that wants to lock the door to this entire generation of candidates.

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