Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Hall of Fame prediction

Last year the BBWAA chose three players for induction into the Hall of Fame -- Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas -- and thought it had really done something. But it was just standing still. The writers plucked the three best newcomers to the ballot, but still left themselves with a massive backlog of overqualified candidates.

There is a general expectation that three more first-timers will be in when the vote count is announced today -- Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz. The real question is, will the writers make any progress on the backlog, or will they continue to run to stand still?

My expectation is that Craig Biggio will finally get in. He would have last year had it not been for the silly 10-player-maximum. He missed by two votes, and plenty more writers than that who had 10-player ballots left him off for space reasons. That mistake will not be repeated.

The folks who keep tabs on announced ballots say that Mike Piazza has a shot at being a fifth with the necessary 75 percent. My guess is that he'll fall short this year. The thing with the ballot tabulators is that they're dealing with public ballots, and the writers who reveal their ballots early are generally:

  • active baseball writers who need something to write about;
  • casting full, or nearly full, ballots

That's only a fraction of the electorate. The bulk of the electorate are retired or covering something other than baseball and voting for a couple of players a year, and aren't releasing their votes early or ever. Candidates shown by the tabulators to be drawing around 75 percent, as Piazza is this year, generally fall short of that figure in the end.

I hope Piazza does get in. A five-man induction crew would make a dent in the backlog. But I don't expect it.

Unit, Pedro, Smoltz, Biggio. That's my prediction.

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