A Candidate-by-Candidate Look at the 2022 Hall of Fame Election Results

© Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The following article is part of Jay Jaffe’s ongoing look at the candidates on the BBWAA 2022 Hall of Fame ballot. For a detailed introduction to this year’s ballot, and other candidates in the series, use the tool above; an introduction to JAWS can be found here. All WAR figures refer to the Baseball-Reference version unless otherwise indicated.

BBWAA voters avoided a second Hall of Fame ballot shutout in a row on Tuesday by electing David Ortiz in his first year of eligibility, making for the writers’ first-one-man class since 2012 (Barry Larkin). Beyond his election, four controversial 10th-year candidates — Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, and Sammy Sosa, all of whom have non-performance-related marks against them that have dominated discussions in recent years — fell short. Further down on the ballot, Scott Rolen and a handful of other candidates made significant strides towards Cooperstown, while 11 others besides the aforementioned quartet fell off the ballot for good. Indeed, the results have left us plenty to chew on, so as promised, here’s my candidate-by-candidate breakdown of the entire slate.

Carl Crawford, Jake Peavy (1st year on the ballot, 0.0%)

I say this every year, and I’ll say it again: There is no shame in being shut out on a Hall of Fame ballot. The check boxes next to these players’ names is the reward for their unique, impressive careers, and with every year that I do this, my appreciation for the endurance, perseverance, and good luck it takes just to get to this point grows. As Vin Scully liked to remind viewers, “They also serve who only stand and wait.”

Prince Fielder (1st, 0.5%)

Like Crawford and Peavy, Fielder did not receive a vote from any of the 205 ballots published in the Ballot Tracker prior the announcement of the results. At this writing, we still don’t know which two writers gave him a courtesy vote, but it’s nothing to get worked up about. Once upon a time, before ballots were so overrun that even deserving candidates like Kenny Lofton (2013) and Johan Santana (2018) fell victim to the Five Percent Rule, this was a common and widely-accepted gesture.

Fielder and his father, Cecil Fielder, hit the same number of home runs in their major league careers (319), but the younger one outdid his father in Hall of Fame voting; Cecil received one vote on the 2004 ballot — the first one I analyzed using the system that became JAWS.

A.J. Pierzynski (1st, 0.5%)

Of Pierzynski’s two courtesy votes, the one in the Tracker came from former Rangers beat writer T.R. Sullivan, who cited the infamous Ozzie Guillen quote (“If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less”) while noting that while with the Rangers in 2013, Pierzynski won the Harold McKinney Good Guy Award. Sullivan conceded that he never once thought of Pierzynski as a Hall of Famer but wrote, “Pierzynski was a fierce competitor, and could also be a bit devious. He was a smart player and a stand-up guy in the clubhouse. There is just something strangely irresistible about that combination, so I voted for him.”

Justin Morneau (1st, 1.3%)

Of the five votes that Morneau received, the only one that was in the Tracker came from a voter who chose to remain anonymous.

Jonathan Papelbon (1st, 1.3%)

Unlike the seven other players I classified as one-and-done candidates on this ballot — the ones whose profiles I didn’t publish until after the December 31 voting deadline had passed — the only one to whom I actually gave consideration as a candidate was Papelbon, since he ranks 10th in both saves and R-JAWS, the experimental version of my metric that I’ve used to evaluate relievers in recent years. I quickly concluded that his low innings total (725.2, about 20% fewer than Billy Wagner) was probably a deal-breaker for voters even given his other credentials. Maybe his late-career misadventures — the crotch grab and the choking of Bryce Harper — prevented some from giving him more serious consideration, and maybe his candidacy will look stronger in 10 years, after we see how the remainder of the careers of Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Craig Kimbrel play out.

Mark Teixeira (1st, 1.5%)

Teixeira’s 50.6 WAR was the most of any first-year candidate besides Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez, and his JAWS was just one point lower than that of Ortiz — and equal to that of pending Todays’ Game candidate Fred McGriff — thanks in part to his excellent defense. Teixeira compiled that WAR in just 14 seasons to Ortiz’s 20. As late as his age-32 season, he looked as though he’d have a realistic shot at 500 home runs, but he struggled through the back half of his eight-year deal with the Yankees and retired at age 36, leaving his career totals short of those that get noticed by voters.

Ryan Howard (1st, 2.0%)

When the percentages are this low, weird stuff happens, such as Howard — the player on the ballot with the lowest career WAR (14.7) of anyone, relievers included, and probably the one with the most disappointing contract — outdoing that of Teixeira. That 2006 NL MVP award goes a long way, I guess, just like the homers he hit.

Tim Lincecum (1st, 2.3%)

TIMMY! Lincecum is the second two-time Cy Young winner to go one-and-done in the last half-decade after Santana; it happened to Bret Saberhagen as well in 2007, though all three of those pitchers outpolled Denny McLain, who maxed out at 0.7% in ballot appearances in 1978, ’79 (the year the first version of the Five Percent Rule was introduced) and ’85 (when a handful of Five Percent victims got another chance). Lincecum wasn’t the equal of Santana or Saberhagen, two guys who have legitimate arguments for the Hall of Fame despite their injury-shortened careers, but he was fun as hell for awhile, and a key figure on two of the Giants’ three championships from 2010-14.

I enjoyed this Grant Brisbee piece about Lincecum and the limits of the Hall of Fame: “You should either pick one athlete who makes you absolutely lose your mind like the Beatles just landed at JFK, or you should question if sports are really for you. And once you get to that point, a Hall of Fame doesn’t matter.” As a Fernando Valenzuela acolyte myself, I wholeheartedly agree.

Tim Hudson (2nd, 3.0%, down 2.2%)

According to the Tracker, heading into both the 2021 and ’22 announcements of the voting results, Hudson appeared as though he’d slip below the 5% threshold. Last year he got a reprieve, and joined Mark Buehrle and Andy Pettitte — two other pitchers with similar credentials — in remaining on the ballot, but even so, his final 5.2% share marked him as quite vulnerable, and this time, not enough voters on either side of the announcement found room for him. Hudson has the highest S-JAWS of the trio (explained here), though the three pitchers are separated by less than a point, and he’s the one of the three who didn’t win a World Series, so it makes a bit of sense that he’s the first one off. With the way starting pitcher usage patterns are trending, perhaps his case will look stronger eight or 10 years from now, but if it does, there will still be a sizable handful of recent pitchers ahead of him in line for honors.

Joe Nathan (1st, 4.3%)

Nathan ranks eighth in both saves and R-JAWS thanks to an outstanding 11-year stretch that included a 2.24 ERA, 340 saves, and an uneven comeback from Tommy John surgery, his first of two. Despite all that, he received scant support from voters; in fact, I was one of just four who included him on my ballot before the election results were revealed. I’m not thoroughly convinced he’s worthy of the Hall, but I voted with the goal of helping him retain eligibility so that his case could get a closer look once the traffic thinned out. While he did receive stronger support via the as-yet-unpublished ballots, his total of 17 votes meant he fell three votes short of retaining his eligibility. Damn it!

Torii Hunter (2nd, 5.3%, down 4.2%)

Like Hudson, for the second year in a row Hunter needed a boost from the unpublished ballots to retain eligibility, having received just 1.5% pre-results. Unlike Hudson, he made it… with just one vote to spare, receiving a comparatively robust 9.9% on private ballots; his total of 21 votes equals that of Hudson last year, albeit in a slightly smaller electorate (394 versus 401). It’s a very small sample size, but of the five votes he lost from among the published ballots, all had Bonds and Clemens on their ballots, but two still had open slots via which they could have retained him, suggesting that some voters quickly became convinced that he won’t attain the critical mass to stick around.

Mark Buehrle (2nd, 5.8%, down 5.2%)

Buehrle’s first-year support was almost cut in half; he made the cut with three votes to spare. With one exception, all of the public ballots that dropped him came from voters who used all 10 slots, so maybe he regains some of that support next year, but again we’re in small-sample territory in drawing preliminary conclusions, as that accounts for a gain of just four votes. In other words, Buerhle’s candidacy doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, literally or figuratively.

Bobby Abreu (3rd, 8.6%, down 0.1%)

I’m one of the 34 voters who included Abreu on a ballot, believing that his power/speed/on-base package was vastly undervalued in its day — and now as well. As I’ve illustrated in his profiles within my series, he stacks up as the best all-around player when compared to two of the ballot’s other current right fielders (Sosa and Gary Sheffield) and the recently-elected Vladimir Guerrero, but after making the cut with just two votes to spare in 2020 and gaining a bit of ground last year, his level of support was basically unchanged. Whatever hopes I and other statheads may have harbored over a younger and more modern electorate coming around to Abreu certainly haven’t been borne out among new voters; he’s gotten votes from just four out of 36 over the course of his candidacy (11.1%) including just one out of 14 this year. That’s one more vote than newcomers gave Buehrle, Howard, Hudson, Hunter, and Pettitte combined, but that’s not going to get him to Cooperstown.

Jimmy Rollins (1st, 9.4%)

With a set of credentials that appeals more to traditionally-minded voters than to statheads, Rollins amassed enough support to stick around the ballot for at least another year. It’s not hard to understand that appeal. He’s a former MVP who was a key piece in the Phillies’ five-year run atop the NL East, including the 2008 championship and a pennant the following year; he won four Gold Gloves but made just three All-Star teams; he ranks sixth in career games at shortstop; and among players who spent the majority of their careers at the position, his home run total ranks eighth, his stolen base total 10th, and his hit total 12th. Beyond the numbers, he brought some intangibles, a clubhouse leader who projected a confidence that bordered on cockiness, and carried himself with a swagger. On the other hand, Rollins hit for just a 95 OPS+, has good-not-great defensive metrics, and ranks just 26th in WAR and 32nd in JAWS among shortstops, so mimicking former teammate Rolen’s climb from a 10.2% debut to the precipice of election may be a tall order.

Andy Pettitte (4th, 10.7%, down 3.0%)

Pettitte didn’t fare as badly as Hudson or Buehrle, but that’s about the only good news. While I do see his massive body of postseason work — which was pretty strong but did have its share of shellackings en route to a 3.80 ERA — as a separator relative to Buerhle and Hudson, that’s offset by his popping up in the Mitchell Report. While it’s tough for me to get too worked up about the usage of human growth hormone, that came after MLB introduced testing and penalties, putting it on the wrong side of the line I’ve used in making out my virtual and actual ballots over the past decade.

Sammy Sosa (10th, 18.5%, up 1.5%)

Unlike Bonds, Clemens, and Schilling, Sosa never even threatened to come close to gaining entry. This year’s share was his highest, and in 10 years on the ballot, he only broke double digits four times. Like Ortiz, he reportedly failed the 2003 survey test but was never disciplined by the league for a PED infraction, but where commissioner Rob Manfred stood up for Big Papi by reminding voters of the unreliability of that report (whose results could have been triggered by a legal substance) and extended some blanket generalities regarding the survey test, he never specifically spoke up on Sosa’s behalf. Never let it be said that the league doesn’t play favorites.

Omar Vizquel (5th, 23.9%, down 25.2%)

Allegations of domestic violence against his now-ex-wife and sexual harassment of an autistic batboy while he was serving as a minor league manager caught up to Vizquel in a big way, leading to the single largest drop in voting share since the BBWAA returned to annual balloting, and the rare one that had more to do with his own actions than to the arrival of prominent first-year candidate that received greater attention from voters. Again with this table:

Largest Drops in BBWAA Voting Since 1967
RK First Last Yr0 Pct0 Yr1 Pct1 Drop
1 Omar Vizquel 2021 49.1% 2022 23.9% -25.2%
2 Luis Tiant 1988 30.9% 1989 10.5% -20.4%
3 Maury Wills 1981 40.6% 1982 21.9% -18.7%
4 Lee Smith+ 2013 47.8% 2014 29.9% -17.9%
5 Bucky Walters 1968 23.7% 1969 5.9% -17.8%
6 Tony Oliva+ 1988 47.3% 1989 30.2% -17.1%
7 Mickey Lolich 1988 25.5% 1989 10.5% -15.0%
8 Jim Bunning+ 1978 47.8% 1979 34.0% -13.7%
9 Harvey Kuenn 1988 39.3% 1989 25.7% -13.6%
10 Jim Rice+ 1998 42.9% 1999 29.4% -13.5%
11 Alan Trammell+ 2013 33.6% 2014 20.8% -12.7%
12 Curt Schilling 2021 71.1% 2022 58.6% -12.5%
+ = Hall of Famer

Vizquel isn’t the only player on this ballot credibly accused of domestic violence, but so far as I can recall, he’s the first to have such allegations surface mid-candidacy. Add in the double whammy of the sexual harassment allegations and you have a situation for which there’s no precedent in Hall of Fame voting. Voters don’t appear to be uniformly viewing domestic violence as a disqualifier, but for a candidate whose rise above 50% (52.6% in 2020) owed something to the perception of him as one of the game’s good guys, this is almost certainly a deal-breaker.

I do find it particularly revealing and unsettling that while Vizquel received only 10.2% from voters who published their ballots via the Tracker, he got 38.6% on private ballots, as if voters were more willing to overlook his transgressions if their own names weren’t attached. While some of those ballots will eventually be revealed — those of the voters who checked the box on their ballots will be published on BBWAA.com two weeks after the election results — according to Nathaniel Rakich (@baseballot), the 28.4% gap is the largest private-public gap in the 14 years for which we have data. Via Rakich, we’ve seen 35 instances of candidates with private shares at least 15.0% lower than their public shares, and 13 of at least 20.0%, but the only times we’ve seen private shares exceed public ones by that margin are Vizquel last year (41.3% public, 57.4% private, 16.2% gap) and this one, which is larger in magnitude (in either direction) than the largest drop-off:

Largest Public-Private Gaps in the Ballot Tracker
Year Player Public Private Final Private – Public Final – Public Private-Public Differential
2022 Omar Vizquel 10.2% 38.6% 23.9% 28.4% 13.6% 28.4%
2020 Scott Rolen 47.9% 19.7% 35.3% -28.3% -12.7% -28.3%
2019 Barry Bonds 70.7% 45.1% 59.1% -25.6% -11.6% -25.6%
2019 Roger Clemens 71.1% 45.6% 59.5% -25.5% -11.6% -25.5%
2019 Larry Walker 65.9% 40.9% 54.6% -25.0% -11.4% -25.0%
2022 Barry Bonds 77.6% 53.4% 66.0% -24.1% -11.6% -24.1%
2017 Barry Bonds 64.3% 40.4% 53.8% -23.8% -10.4% -23.8%
2021 Barry Bonds 73.3% 49.7% 61.8% -23.6% -11.5% -23.6%
2020 Barry Bonds 71.2% 47.8% 60.7% -23.5% -10.5% -23.5%
2021 Roger Clemens 72.8% 49.7% 61.6% -23.1% -11.2% -23.1%
2022 Roger Clemens 76.1% 53.4% 65.2% -22.7% -10.9% -22.7%
2018 Curt Schilling 60.3% 38.3% 51.2% -22.0% -9.1% -22.0%
2020 Roger Clemens 70.3% 49.4% 61.0% -20.9% -9.4% -20.9%
2017 Roger Clemens 63.1% 42.5% 54.1% -20.6% -9.0% -20.6%
SOURCE: @baseballot and the @notmrtibbs Ballot Tracker
Differentials ranked by absolute value, since 2009.

Manny Ramirez (6th, 28.9%, up 0.7%)

Even while setting a new high, Ramirez still failed to break 30%; he’s been between 28-29% for three straight years. For awhile it seemed possible he’d make at least a slight advance, as for the first time in his candidacy he wasn’t the only candidate who had previously served a suspension for PED usage, having been joined in that department by Rodriguez.

A preliminary count I conducted the night before the results were announced should give you an idea of what he was up against. Of the 188 ballots in the Tracker as of 12:01 AM Tuesday morning, 63 voters included both Ramirez and Rodriguez, with four returning voters adding Ramirez after deciding to tab Rodriguez, a possible coattail effect. Meanwhile, seven voters included Ramirez but not Rodriguez, perhaps on the grounds that Manny’s infractions came so late in his career. But then on the other hand, 12 included Rodriguez but not Ramirez, likely because he was more or less twice the ballplayer (by WAR), a quality left-side infielder versus an indifferent outfielder. Five of those voters actually dropped Ramirez to find room on their ballots for Rodriguez. Cold as ice, but barring a radical change, there’s no way in hell Manny is getting in via the writers.

Funny thing: I found myself absent-mindedly humming the Byrds’ “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” while writing this entry and thought I’d be clever by inserting the video — then realized I had done exactly that last year. It’s been a long election cycle, folks.

Jeff Kent (9th, 32.7%, up 0.3%)

Here’s a strange one. At this writing, three voters cast ballots that included just one name. Two of those were for Kent, and both came from former BBWAA Lifetime Achievement Award winners who have long fought the war on WAR: Dan Shaughnessy, who once called critics of Jack Morris‘ candidacy “sun starved stat geeks” (and later took aim at me upon receiving a copy of The Cooperstown Casebook), and Bill Madden, who regarding critics of Morris referred to “the vigilante sabermetric brigade,” which is a band name waiting to happen.

Anyway, despite such revanchism on his behalf, Kent was essentially stopped in his electoral tracks after gaining 14.3% from 2019 to ’21, and now he heads into his final year of eligibility. But he and the aforementioned old-schoolers can take heart. Of the 25 candidates who received vote shares in the 30-35% range at any point since 1966 and weren’t subsequently elected by the writers or aren’t still on the ballot, 16 (64%) were subsequently elected by a small committee. That bodes well for a candidate whose case appeals more via traditional stats — most homers by a second baseman, et cetera — than advanced ones. Look for him on the 2025 Today’s Game ballot.

Alex Rodriguez (1st, 34.3%)

He couldn’t even top the first-ballot shares of Bonds (36.2%) or Clemens (37.6%), but hey, he gets nine more years of the same treadmill. If anyone needs a reminder that PED usage and even suspensions do not constitute a capitol crime in baseball, one need only look at the fact that Rodriguez is gainfully employed as a marquee broadcaster for ESPN. He’s got a long way to go before he’s Frick Award material, to put it charitably.

Gary Sheffield (8th, 40.6%, no change)

After back-to-back jumps of 16.9% and 10.1%, Sheffield didn’t gain any ground, but there’s hope that this is just a temporary setback, as some share of the ballots he was bumped from appeared to be for space reasons. Via the 188 ballots in the Tracker on Tuesday at 12:01 AM ET, six of the 10 drops by returning voters came via 10-man ballots that included both Ortiz and Rodriguez as well as Bonds and Clemens, suggesting Sheffield will regain some of those votes next year; there are probably more such ballots out there.

Even so, time is running out for Sheffield as he has just two years of eligibility remaining. Since 1966, only five candidates have made two-year jumps of the magnitude he needs to get to 75%, two of them very recently:

Largest Two-Year Gains on BBWAA Ballot Since 1968
Rk Player Yr0 Pct0 Yr2 Pct2 Gain
1 Luis Aparicio+ 1982 41.9% 1984 84.6% 42.7%
2 Larry Walker+ 2018 34.1% 2020 76.6% 42.5%
3 Early Wynn+ 1969 27.9% 1971 66.7% 38.8%
4 Scott Rolen 2019 17.2% 2021 52.9% 35.7%
5 Barry Larkin+ 2010 51.6% 2012 86.4% 34.8%
6 Gary Carter+ 1999 33.8% 2001 64.9% 31.1%
7 Eddie Mathews+ 1976 48.7% 1978 79.4% 30.7%
8 Luis Aparicio+ 1981 36.9% 1983 67.4% 30.5%
9 Don Drysdale+ 1975 21.0% 1977 51.4% 30.4%
10 Nellie Fox+ 1982 30.6% 1984 61.0% 30.4%
+ = Hall of Famer

The election of Ortiz does offer a rationale for choosing Sheffield, who has the edge in WAR (60.5 to 55.3) and just a one-point deficit in OPS+ (140 to 141), but spent much of his career in the DH-less NL and had less of a postseason impact, though he did come up big during the Marlins’ 1997 title run.

Andruw Jones (5th, 41.1%, up 7.2%)

Via the Tracker it looked as though Jones (and Sheffield) would give the 50% line a run for its money, and while that didn’t come to pass, Jones still posted the second-largest gain of any candidate in this cycle, one that’s only 0.1% smaller than the share at which he debuted on the 2018 ballot. He’s up 33.9% over the past three ballots.

Along the lines of the aforementioned tally I did for Kent above, and applicable to Sheffield as well, of the 21 candidates who received 40-45% on a ballot since 1966 and weren’t subsequently elected by the writers or weren’t on this ballot, 17 (81%) were subsequently elected by a small committee. Meanwhile, another 13 candidates who received 40-45% were eventually elected by the writers, and while it took them an average of 5.3 years, two of the three whose candidacies crossed into the era of 10-year eligibility windows, Edgar Martinez and Mike Mussina, were elected three years later.

Billy Wagner (7th, 51.0%, up 4.6%)

His wasn’t a big gain, but it was the fourth-largest of this cycle, and it was significant because — wait for it — with the exception of Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, and those still on the ballot, every candidate who’s ever received 50% from the writers has eventually been elected, most of them in a more timely fashion than the late Gil Hodges, whose caveat has mercifully been retired. Wagner, who’s up 34.3% over the past three cycles, has three years of eligibility remaining. I’ll wager that he’ll need all three to help overcome the electorate’s built-in resistance to relievers, but this still appears very doable. For comparison’s sake, of the three recent candidates elected in their 10th and final years, Tim Raines was at 46.1% in 2014, Martinez at 43.4% in ’16, and Larry Walker at 21.9% in ’17.

According to the Tracker, Wagner topped the other one-man ballot besides the two for Kent, via retired San Jose Mercury News writer Mark Purdy.

Todd Helton (4th, 52.0%, up 7.1%)

Helton made the third-largest gain of this cycle and like Wagner, crossed the all-important 50% threshold. The 24 modern candidates who received 50-55% and were eventually elected by the writers averaged 4.2 years to election, but that includes some prolonged candidacies from a much more conservative electorate. Tony Perez debuted at 50% and needed eight more years to get to 75%, while Andre Dawson hit 50% in year two and needed seven more years. On the other hand, Raines, Mussina, and Jeff Bagwell, all of whom reach 50% after the eligibility windows were shortened, each needed just two years. We’re looking at a potential Class of 2024 honoree here, folks.

Curt Schilling (10th, 58.6%, down 12.5%)

His self-sabotage is one for the books. Prior to Schilling, 20 out of 22 previous instances of a modern era candidate receiving at least 70% but less than 75% and still having eligibility remaining resulted in election the following year. Jim Bunning was the only one to fail to bring it home — twice, on non-consecutive occasions that probably had more to do with other candidates, including in 1988, when he finished at 74.2%, four votes short, because nine writers (out of 427) sent in blank ballots as part of a protest against the general quality of the candidates. Schilling has now made that 20 for 24, and become the first to fall short in back-to-back cycles after topping 70%.

This is entirely of his own doing. After calling for martial law, voicing support for the January 6 Capitol rioters, and then requesting that the Hall of Fame take him off this year’s ballot so he could avoid accountability for his toxic emanations, he got what he seemed to want in terms of voters withdrawing their support. He’ll be back via the Today’s Game Era Committee, perhaps later this year, and figures to have the best shot among this ballot’s, uh, graduating class because it’s less likely that the Hall of Fame players are as aware of his damaging post-career exploits. But for now, good riddance.

Scott Rolen (5th, 63.2%, up 10.3%)

For the second year in a row, the 10th-ranked third baseman by JAWS was the ballot’s biggest gainer, and as I said on Wednesday’s MLB Now, he’s the heir to the analytically driven Martinez/Walker push, albeit with voters coming around on a more accelerated schedule. I showed you the modern era leaderboard for two-year gains, now here’s the one for three-year gains:

Largest 3-Year Gains on BBWAA Ballot Since 1969
Rk Player Yr0 Pct0 Yr3 Pct3 Gain
1 Larry Walker+ 2017 21.9% 2020 76.6% 54.7%
2 Early Wynn+ 1969 27.9% 1972 76.0% 48.1%
3 Luis Aparicio+ 1981 36.9% 1984 84.6% 47.7%
4 Scott Rolen 2019 17.2% 2022 63.2% 46.0%
5 Nellie Fox+ 1982 30.6% 1985 74.7% 44.1%
6 Scott Rolen 2018 10.2% 2021 52.9% 42.7%
7 Billy Williams+ 1982 23.4% 1985 63.8% 40.4%
8 Gary Carter+ 1999 33.8% 2002 72.7% 38.9%
9 Eddie Mathews+ 1975 40.9% 1978 79.4% 38.5%
10 Don Drysdale+ 1975 21.0% 1978 57.8% 36.8%
+ = Hall of Famer

As you can see, everybody else from that list has wound up in Cooperstown, though Fox, who missed by just two votes in his final year of eligibility, was elected by the Veterans Committee, not the BBWAA. As The Athletic’s Jayson Stark pointed out, Rolen’s path towards 75% bears closer resemblance to that of Mussina. Here’s the picture:

There’s a very good chance we’re celebrating Rolen’s election a year from now.

Roger Clemens (10th, 65.2%, up 3.6%), Barry Bonds (10th, 66.0%, up 4.2%)

While the Gruesome Twosome posted their largest gains since 2017, when they benefited from a level of voter outrage in the wake of the Today’s Game election of commissioner Bud Selig — who participated in the owners’ mid-1980s collusion scandal and presided over the so-called “Steroid Era” — it obviously wasn’t enough. Whether you want to point to Hall of Fame board of directors vice chairman Joe Morgan’s open plea not to elect steroid-linked candidates in November 2017, or the Hall’s own 2014 decision to shorten eligibility windows from 15 years to 10, the institution’s fingerprints are all over this outcome.

As Stark pointed out, according to 2018-22 data in the Tracker, Bonds and Clemens gained only a net of 11 votes from returning voters in that span. The minds that were going to change had already changed, and one can read Morgan’s intervention as stemming the tide. Meanwhile, in that same period 51 out of 59 new voters (86.4%) included both candidates on their ballots. What the shortening of the windows did was prevent some large chunk of the 190 BBWAA members due to reach their 10-year status from 2023-27 — which would have been the final five years for the pair — from entering the electorate with a similar point of view in time to put them over the top.

That 190 figure comes from the 2021 BBWAA badge list within the organization’s site, as unearthed by colleague Dan Szymborski; while not all of those writers who entered the BBWAA from 2013-17 may still be qualified to vote by the time they reach their 10 years (it’s been a stormy period within the industry), the sunsetting of older writers more than 10 years removed — another factor that accelerated the voting percentages of Bonds and Clemens via the 2016 cycle by removing about 100 “no” voters from the pool — would have applied upward pressure from the other direction. The 15-year candidacy fell by the wayside in the summer of 2014, meaning that the BBWAA had not yet voted to include writers from MLB.com (that would come in December 2015) but that possibility was afoot by then. Likewise, the Hall would have been aware of the numbers for 2013-14 newcomers to the organization.

So now Bonds and Clemens fall under the purview of the Today’s Game Era Committee, and as it stands, they’re eligible for inclusion on the 2023 ballot. To leave them off would require either a visible violation of recent precedent by the ballot-assembling Historical Overview Committee, or a rule change by the Hall itself. The HOC consists entirely of veteran BBWAA scribes, and while they may be less inclined to vote for Bonds and Clemens than younger voters (though most of the ones that came to my mind instantly did include them), I can’t think of a precedent where an eligible candidate who polled at 60% or higher was excluded from an Era Committee ballot (I’m still researching the Veterans Committee history). The Hall already controls who votes on the committees, but cracking down to prevent Bonds and Clemens from even appearing would be mighty conspicuous.

David Ortiz (1st, 77.9%)

In the end, he made it with 11 votes to spare, which is only the fourth-smallest margin of the past six years; Ivan Rodriguez (by four votes in 201), Walker (by six votes in 2020) and Mussina (by seven votes in 2019) had closer shaves. Via Stark, citing research by Jason Sardell:

And Sardell reports that as of Tuesday night, when we had 202 publicly revealed ballots serving as our exit-poll data, Ortiz’s percentages with those voters looked this way:

• 90% from voters who voted for Bonds/Clemens in 2021
• 93% from voters who voted for Bonds/Clemens/Manny in 2021
• 62% from “anti-PED voters” who voted for none of those three

As I told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser in the wake of last year’s election, Ortiz’s arrival seemed likely “to produce some pretty crazy gerrymandering of logic to justify voting only for Ortiz” from among the PED set, and that’s what happened. The slugger, for his part, said this during the video conference following the announcement:

“Barry Bonds was special. He separated himself from the game at the highest level. I know a lot of things are going on, but to me the guy’s a Hall of Famer. Same with Roger, The Rocket.

“I can’t even compare myself to them. Not having them join me at this time is something that’s very hard for me to believe.”

It’s hard for a lot of us to believe, but here we are. As for what this means going forward, I’ll be back next week with my five year BBWAA election outlook.

Many thanks to Anthony Calamis, Nathaniel Rakich, Jason Sardell, Dan Szymborski, Ryan Thibodaux, and Graham Womack for research help with this piece.





Brooklyn-based Jay Jaffe is a senior writer for FanGraphs, the author of The Cooperstown Casebook (Thomas Dunne Books, 2017) and the creator of the JAWS (Jaffe WAR Score) metric for Hall of Fame analysis. He founded the Futility Infielder website (2001), was a columnist for Baseball Prospectus (2005-2012) and a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated (2012-2018). He has been a recurring guest on MLB Network and a member of the BBWAA since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @jay_jaffe.

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sadtrombonemember
8 months ago

If anyone is looking for Hall of Fame voters to point fingers at, the ones who are still voting for Omar Vizquel seem to be a good place to start. At this point, voting for him is a decent indicator you haven’t been paying attention to anything at all.

Johnnie T
8 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Or that a voter is aware of the allegations, but the voter doesn’t think that off-the-field conduct and/or allegations of off-the-field conduct should have a particular bearing on whether you voted for him for the HOF.

Josh
8 months ago
Reply to  Johnnie T

What SadTrombone said.

sadtrombonemember
8 months ago
Reply to  Johnnie T

Voting for a guy who only had one elite season and has been dismissed for abusing a disabled batboy? Where can I sign up?

olethrosmember
8 months ago
Reply to  Johnnie T

So you’re saying that all of those hidden ballot Vizquel voters definitely also voted for Bonds, Clemens, Ortiz, Ramirez, and Rodriguez then.

Lanidrac
7 months ago
Reply to  Johnnie T

The issue is that Vizquel never had even a borderline Hall of Fame career irregardless of those accusations nor any other character issues.

Left of Centerfield
8 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Is it? There are plenty of allegations against Bonds. And Clemens. And Jones. Heck, even Ortiz has a restraining order against him in the Dominican Republic by his ex-partner. Yet plenty of voters voted for all of them. Seems to me it’s more that they don’t care or perhaps they feel that allegations haven’t reached a “beyond a reasonable doubt” level.

sadtrombonemember
8 months ago

Look, if you decide you want to elect a guy to the Hall of Fame who only ever had one elite season, I suppose that’s bad but it’s not a fireable offense. But if that same guy has also been fired for abusing a disabled batboy, you’ve probably managed to miss two very obvious clues and you’re a liability to whatever field you work in.

Left of Centerfield
8 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

So the other people I mentioned get a pass because they had more than one elite season? I guess I’m really confused as to why Vizquel voters get called out but voters for the other players don’t. If it’s wrong to vote for Vizquel because of his off-the-field behavior, then it’s equally wrong to vote for Bonds.

sadtrombonemember
8 months ago

I don’t think this is complicated. There is no conceivable defense for voting for Vizquel anymore. He’s somehow unqualified, he’s morally repugnant, and at least part of his transgressions occurred in the game. He’s the defensive version of Harold Baines, if Harold Baines was also fired from baseball for hurting people. If people somehow decide that none of those things are relevant or don’t know about them, that’s not exactly a ringing defense.

Left of Centerfield
8 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Sorry but I can’t begin to fathom where you’re coming from. Either this sort of behavior is wrong and disqualifies someone from the HOF or it doesn’t.

Whereas you seem to be saying that it’s okay for voters to ignore the character clause as long as the player reached a certain level of greatness. So Bonds (and Bonds’ voters) get a pass on the domestic violence charges against him because he reached a higher level of greatness than Vizquel.

Sorry but I don’t begin to buy that. The Me Too movement didn’t differentiate in that manner and for very good reason. And I doubt that the victims in these cases would make that distinction either.

sadtrombonemember
8 months ago

I think this is not a very fruitful discussion, because if you think I’m excusing other candidates for transgressions, then it is certain I am not getting my point across. Feel free to re-read (or not, either way is probably fine). Some of the other people in this thread have explained it other ways, too.

slamcactusmember
8 months ago

This discussion starts from the perspective that Vizquel’s entire case is “eye test” and what he brought to the game and that there’s no good statistical case to elect him.

There’s also no “he was one of the good guy ” cases either.

Voting for Vizquel means ignoring both modern baseball knowledge and evidence that he fails the “character clause” test, for voters who consider that important.

Also, given the cloud of suspicion every other player from this era had to deal with, I’m not sure why a guy who had his best offensive stretch from age 32-37 gets a pass. Bad hitters used steroids to stay healthy and get stronger too.

bluerum29
8 months ago
Reply to  slamcactus

The statistical case portion of it is in regards to his compilation of stats. Longevity and cumulating stats is impressive and is one of the considerations to get into the Hall.

Albymember
8 months ago
Reply to  bluerum29

But not the only one. I’d take Rollins over Vizquel.

Lanidrac
7 months ago
Reply to  bluerum29

Yes, but aside from Hits even Vizquel’s cumulative offensive stats aren’t that great for a Hall of Famer.

TKDCmember
8 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Yeah, I think some people missed that it’s the combo, because you didn’t make that explicit. Originally, the plausible justification for Vizquel was he was a nice guy and all that, but when you know he’s actually on the other end of the character clause metric, what is left? Just trying to stick it to… somebody? The libs? The nerds? It makes no sense.

booondmember
8 months ago

If you vote the player Vizquel falls far short, if you vote the person Vizquel falls far short.

wokegraphs
8 months ago
Reply to  booond

It’s not the good people Hall of Fame, goddammit. The _only_ case that matters is the baseball case.

Albymember
8 months ago
Reply to  wokegraphs

To you, maybe. But you’re not a voter. The voters get to decide what matters to them.

Johnnie T
8 months ago
Reply to  Alby

And Vizquel DID get quite a few votes, so a lot of them do not consider the allegations salient or sufficient to merit not voting for him.

Lanidrac
7 months ago
Reply to  wokegraphs

As already mentioned, Vizquel falls well short of most Hall standards even when you only consider the baseball case.

rudemeister
7 months ago

“Beyond a reasonable doubt”? This isn’t a court of law. But if it WERE, I would use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard. This is much more of a property dispute (ownership of a hall of fame plaque) than a jail sentence.

manormachine
8 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Vizquel’s batboy sexual harassment occurred in the context of professional baseball. Whatever you think about off the field domestic violence, using your managerial position to perpetrate this sort of pain on someone should be an uncrossable line. This is exactly the sort of thing the character clause is for.

Jason Bmember
8 months ago
Reply to  manormachine

“but..but…he didn’t say those things to the guy while he was fielding a grounder or running to first, so it wasn’t REALLY in the context of baseball!”

— a surprising and sad number of voters (and commenters here, sadly)

largebill68
8 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Not to defend the voters, but I will say the Vizquel allegations were reported briefly and then seem to have vanished. Some of us who follow the news closely are well aware of it, but I could see someone who was out of touch the day it first came out being blissfully unaware.

Jason Bmember
8 months ago
Reply to  largebill68

That’s the most charitable case I can think of – there are plenty of low-information HOF voters who may be unaware of the allegations, or heard them briefly at the time and have since forgotten about them.

slamcactusmember
7 months ago
Reply to  largebill68

There may be a few out-of-touch voters in the BBWAA but by and large these are baseball insiders. They know about the allegations against Vizquel.

JimmieFoxxalorianmember
8 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

To me, Vizquel wasn’t a HOFer even before the news about him broke. He was borderline, with the best support case emanating from goofy gold glove totals and Ozzie Smith stat benchmarks. Even if one used those details to inform their voting decision, Ozzie Smith was a superior player to Vizquel, had bigger postseason moments, and impacted the game more. Ozzie’s on-field backflips were sensational, and he was a hugely popular player for more than a decade.

Vizquel had the “good guy” thing going for him in years prior to his deplorable behavior becoming known, as he was pleasant in media appearances and seemingly liked by teammates during his playing days. So that, plus the pseudocomparable Ozzie Smith in HOF is why I think Vizquel garnered votes the last couple of years. But this year? Makes no sense given his previous borderline candidacy. The crap he’s done should’ve pushed all voters away from considering him. Why he gets even one vote is absurd, but why more than 90(!) people voted for him is a dark commentary about a sizable portion of HOF voters.

With the knowledge that Vizquel is a garbage human being, and that being reasonably apparent from a cursory google search well before the HOF ballots votes were submitted, I have to think whoever voted for him are either pieces of trash themselves or don’t read any current news. Either way, they shouldn’t be voters then, imo.

Johnnie T
8 months ago

It is clear from the results that a lot of people who voted for Schilling and Vizquel do not agree with you that poor behavior should disqualify a candidate from election to the HOF. It is a defensible position. You disagree with them, as is your right, But to call them pieces of trash or ignorant who should not be allowed to vote because they have a different perspective is being, well, let’s just say disrespectful.

raregokusmember
7 months ago
Reply to  Johnnie T

Yeah, the “different perspectives” business is doublespeak crap when applied to Schilling, much less Vizquel. Save it. No one’s buying your “let’s be civil” schtick.

Johnnie T
7 months ago
Reply to  raregokus

Guess you know the correct answer and everyone who does not agree with you is wrong. How charmingly self-righteous of you.

bluerum29
8 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Any non baseball related character issues, I don’t believe should be taken into account when considering the Hall. There is a character clause, yes, but it should be kept to relating to baseball. Not about how we just a persons personal life.

Albymember
8 months ago
Reply to  bluerum29

That’s nice, but it’s irrelevant. The voters decide what matters to them.

bluerum29
8 months ago
Reply to  Alby

Thats the problem, subjectivity on personal lives shouldn’t have any merit here. The voters should decide what matters to them in reference to baseball.

Jason Bmember
8 months ago
Reply to  bluerum29

You keep saying that and saying that, but you don’t get to decide what matters to voters, nor is it contained in the HOF voting instructions anywhere. That may be how YOU would approach YOUR vote, but you don’t get to set guidelines that anyone else is obligated to abide by.

Lanidrac
7 months ago
Reply to  bluerum29

Yeah, nowhere in the actual character clause does it say that it’s only in regard to baseball-related issues. You may interpret it that way, but most people don’t.

sadtrombonemember
8 months ago
Reply to  bluerum29

And yet Vizquel fails on that count anyways, since some of his transgressions happened inside of professional baseball.