The Archive

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

MLB Hall of Fame: Predicting Their Support

First, players highly likely to miss the 5% threshold: Sandy Alomar Jr., Jeff Cirillo, Royce Clayton, Roberto Hernandez, Ryan Klesko, Jose Mesa, Reggie Sanders, Aaron Sele, Mike Stanton, Todd Walker, Rondell White, and Woody Williams. There are four other first-timers who I think have a very slim, outside shot at the 5% threshold: Jeff Conine, Steve Finley, Julio Franco, and Shawn Green.

Below, the rest:

Jeff Bagwell: I think he's almost there, but not quite. He received 42% his first year in 2010, which increased to 56% in 2011. He's about where Larkin was his first time on the ballot, so give Bagwell two more years. Let's say somewhere between 60-65% this time around.

Craig Biggio: I see him at about Bagwell's level. He does not have the steroid implications, of course. He also put up his impressive numbers while playing catcher, second base, and left field, as opposed to first base. For whatever reason, though, I see him as a second year inclusion. I could be wrong. Let's make 60% the low end and 80% the high end.

Barry Bonds: Can I skip this one? His chances of actually getting in at this time are zero, but there have to be enough voters out there who won't be able to resist the numbers. And Bonds was a Hall of Fame caliber player before the steroids issue arose. Mark McGwire was the first steroid era player on a ballot, and I will use him as a baseline, keeping in mind that Bonds' statistical case goes far past McGwire's. McGwire received 24% in his first opportunity. I will double it for Bonds. Call it 50%, plus or minus a few percent. Perhaps a 45-60% range. But this is really dicey. I really could imagine a number as low as that first McGwire percentage. I don't think it happens though.

Roger Clemens: So I get to take them all on at once? Clemens, like Bonds, would have been a shoo-in without the steroids issue, or had he retired before it came to the fore. For both, the statistics are mind-blowing. They also both have a personality issue which makes them much more difficult for the voters to forgive. I do see Clemens getting slightly fewer votes than Bonds, so I'll say 45% plus or minus 5%, with an outside possibility of something as low as 25%.*

*Regarding these three, Joe Posnanski (yes, this way of discussing his opinion is intentional) appears to think Bonds and Clemens will be short of 50%, and that Biggio will get in. Who is my nobody blogging self to argue? Or even bring up a writer like him? Obviously, you should just read him instead of me.

Anyway, I do think he could be right on all three. I have not yet looked to his predictions on anyone else.

Kenny Lofton: He's not getting in. If Tim Raines is a poor man's Rickey Henderson, Lofton is a poor man's Raines. Raines got 24% in his first chance; I peg Lofton at 10-15%. I do think he gets a second crack at the ballot.

Edgar Martinez: His path to date is 36%, 33%, 37%. I do think we'll see him break out of the funk and get a small bump. Why? Because he is not connected to the steroids issue, and now that we're seeing all the heavy hitting poster boys of that era coming in, I think some voters will give Martinez points. This should probably affect Bagwell too if it's the case. Voters see the "real thing" in Bonds and Clemens, and those silly nagging doubts about Bagwell should disappear. Ideally. Similar thing for Martinez. Anyway, 50%, plus or minus a few points.

Don Mattingly: It's his 13th year, and he's a weird case, because he keeps hanging around with a solid 10-20%, never in danger of falling off the ballot, or making a push. I don't see this changing this year or in the next three.

Fred McGriff: His path to date is 22%, 18%, 24%. He consistently trails Martinez, whose time on the ballot coincides with McGriff. If a similar push is forthcoming, I'd look for McGriff around Martinez's current level of about 35%.

Mark McGwire: He isn't getting particularly closer. He started at 24% and is now at 20%, six years later. That seems to be his baseline. Call it 20% again.

Jack Morris: It's the penultimate opportunity for the hero of Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. With a 67% last year, his chances this year look really good. Bert Blyleven went from 63% to 74% to 80% in his last two years before induction and then his induction year. It looks like Morris won't have to wait that extra year. He could get "only" that 73-74% range, but 78-82% looks more likely.

Dale Murphy: His final chance is a formality after a 15% showing last year. He might get some push from writers who give him a sympathy vote, so 15-20% for him.

Rafael Palmeiro: Palmeiro got 11% in his first year in 2011, and inched up to 13% in 2012. I don't think he's getting anyone coming to give him a bump this time around. Call it 10-15%.

Mike Piazza: I think Piazza gets in first ballot as a catcher. Johnny Bench got 96% and Piazza is arguably better than him, at least as a hitter. I don't think he'll get anywhere near that high though. My guess is somewhere between 80 and 85%.

Tim Raines: Raines should get in eventually, but this is still not his time. His progress to date: 24, 23, 30, 38, 49. It's a fairly steady climb in the past three years. Another 8-10% this time gives him 57-60%. So we'll put his range around 55-65%.

Curt Schilling: I don't think Schilling is a first year inductee, or particularly close. But there isn't really a good recent comparable player to see what percentage he might get.

Lee Smith: At 51%, Smith is only 8% higher than he was in his initial appearance in 2003, but 10% higher than a dip in 2007, and 3% higher than two years ago. He has never increased more than 6% in a single year. Smith's peak of 45% between 2003 and 2009 came in 2006, the year Bruce Sutter got in and Goose Gossage began getting close; he then suffered a drop in 2007. There aren't really any coattails this time around. Give him about 50% again, with a low end of about 45%.

Sammy Sosa: I think Rafael Palmeiro is a fairly decent precedent for Sosa. They are players who without the strong connections to steroids have the statistical profile of a Hall of Famer, but who had enough flaws as players notwithstanding PED that voters could also create a statistical case to exclude them. In any event, I see a similar track for Sosa as for Palmeiro. So we'll give him 10-15%.

Alan Trammell: Trammell is finally seeing a small push in the past couple years. He didn't break 20% until his ninth year on the ballot, in 2010, but after treading water in 2011 he got bumped to 37% in 2012. I see this as another treading year. 35-40%.

Larry Walker: Larry Walker got 20% his first chance and 23% his second chance and I don't see a bump coming. Make it 20-25% again.

David Wells: He should probably be in the second category at the very top of the post, but I want to give him 10% or so. Call it a hunch. Of course, if Kevin Brown only mustered 2% in his first try, I don't see why Wells would fare better, except for wins and team success.

Bernie Williams: The 10% Williams got his first year is on the low end of first-year performances above 5%. Williams probably sticks around sort of like Harold Baines did. Baines managed to stay on the ballot five years while never getting higher than 6% support. Williams mustered 10% last year. People like Palmeiro and Murphy generally don't disappear despite years of 11-12% support. Other than Williams, no one has been in the 9-10% range, first year or otherwise, since Mattingly and Murphy in 2007. Albert Belle got 8% in his first try in 2006 and then fell to 4% and out in 2007. Belle is actually the outlier in all of these by falling off after a year between 5-10%, so I think Williams survives another year at around 8-12%.

Short version: Jack Morris and Mike Piazza will be the inductees. Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, and Tim Raines set themselves up well for 2014. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are somewhere between 25-50%, probably towards the higher end, with Bonds likely to be slightly ahead.

Click here for what my ballot would be if I mattered.

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