The 2017 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame ballot has been sent out to members of the BBWAA for voting on potential new entrants to the game’s shrine in Cooperstown, NY. While the official results will be announced on January 18, 2017, unofficial results have slowly been trickling in as writers make their thoughts known on who they believe is and is not worthy. As with most preceding ballots, the 2017 ballot has players who are clearly worthy (Jeff Bagwell), others who are borderline (Fred McGriff), and still others who, while pretty good players with long or decent careers, have no business being in a discussion of the game’s greatest players (Casey Blake). And, as with preceding years, their decisions have led to often vitriolic discussions about statistics, character, cheating, racism, intangibles, and Moms’ basements (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens). Oh, yeah…and gambling (Pete Rose, Joe Jackson).
The secret ballot used by the BBWAA is an unnecessary relic of the past. Some studies have shown that those writers who make their ballots publicly known have a tendency to vote for more qualified and fewer marginal candidates. Conversely, writers who don’t make their ballots available for review often have the most controversial choices, like not voting for Greg Maddux because he played from 1990 to 2000. As a result of outcry from some of their newer members, fans, and non-BBWAA writers covering the game, the BBWAA decided to make all ballots public, beginning in 2018.
The BBWAA passed a measure today mandating that all Hall of Fame ballots be public starting in 2018. It remains voluntary for this election
— BBWAA (@officialBBWAA) December 6, 2016
The 2017 Hall of Fame ballot is still secret, but writers can voluntarily make their ballots public. Ryan Thibodaux does great work running The BBHOF Tracker, where he tracks all votes made public, and keeps a running tally on a player’s chances of making the Hall based on those public votes. We encourage you to visit his site and check out his work leading up to the Hall of Fame announcements.
The Official Hall of Fame Ballot
Here are the players on the 2017 Hall of Fame Ballot. A side by side comparison of their career stats can be found at this link (it does not embed well in the page).
First time Appearances
In an effort to contribute to the dialogue – and also to fill empty digital pages with a little content – the writers at Outfield Fly Rule have all submitted their choices for the 2017 Hall of Fame class. In addition, ballots have been submitted by our friends Thomas Poe from Walk Off Walk and from Braves’ transaction guru Braves Options Guy, who can be found in the Twittersphere. And to round out the submissions, a collective ballot has been submitted by readers who are members of the Outfield Fly Rule Facebook group. Each submission followed the same guidelines as set forth by MLB and the BBWAA. Like the BBWAA ballots, a player must appear on 75% of ballots for election.
The OFR Hall of Fame Selections
Using that criteria, OFR has arrived at a collective Hall of Fame ballot, with the following players being elected:
- Jeff Bagwell
- Tim Raines
- Barry Bonds
- Roger Clemens
- Mike Mussina
- Edgar Martinez
The voting broke down as follows:
Surprisingly, Rodriguez didn’t make our cut. However, I believe that this was likely due to strategic voting, rather than any feeling that he was not worthy. This ballot was particularly stacked with very worthy candidates, and speaking solely for myself, there easily could have been two or three more players voted in on each ballot.
Also surprising is that the OFR Readers collectively only voted in one player. Perusing the reader ballots, I can see some homerism for Atlanta Braves players in some of the choices. Derek Lee and Edgar Renteria received more votes than one would expect. Early returns had Guerrero as a lock for election, but he lost steam as later precincts reported in. Early reports from the polls may have swayed these voters into changing their votes. OFR Readers also clearly had a low tolerance for any PED suspicions, as Ramirez, Clemens, Bonds, and Sheffield each appeared on fewer than half of the submitted ballots. Trevor Hoffman made his best showing on the reader’s ballots, but still failed to meet the 75% threshold (by one vote!) with the fans.
Each writer will have an in depth Hall of Fame article this week explaining their voting process. Every writer used their own methodology and criteria, and then the ballots were totaled. Each will explain why he voted for a particular player, as well as why he did not. The schedule for the articles:
Give us your thoughts! Who is worthy? Who isn’t?