A Look Ahead to the 2019 Hall of Fame Ballot

The late Roy Halladay will appear on next year’s ballot. (Photo: DGriebeling)

Congratulations to Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, and Jim Thome. That quartet of fine players all received word yesterday that they’d earned a place in baseball’s Hall of Fame, each receiving more than 75% of the BBWAA’s vote.

If you think the day after one year’s results are announced is too early to start thinking about the next year’s ballot, that’s fair. If you believe next year’s ballot is fair game, however, come with me as I consider what might happen next January.

First, a point regarding the sheer number of candidates. No players on this year’s ballot were in their 10th and final year of voting, so nobody was removed due to time constraints. That means that every player who was not elected this year and who also received at least 5% of the vote will be on next year’s ballot. Four players were inducted this year, though. Last year, it was three. The size of those two classes alone helps clear out the logjam of eligible candidates a bit.

The principal voting casualty this year is Johan Santana. While I don’t think he is a worthy Hall of Famer, there is a case to be made for him. It is perhaps unfortunate that his case will not be one that is made over the course of the next decade. Of the other first-year candidates with legitimate cases, two of them (Jones and Thome) have now gained entry, while two others (Andruw Jones and Scott Rolen) are safe. Omar Vizquel also returns to the ballot next season.

In addition to removing some of the backlog with Guerrero and Hoffman, this year’s voting was notable insofar as few it marked progress for other returning candidates, thus creating a larger gap between the Haves and Have Notes, so to speak. As for (Andruw) Jones and Rolen, both have very good cases but will need some time to develop the necessary momentum needed for induction. As for the rest of the holdovers, Edgar Martinez’s near-miss highlights next year’s returnees.

Below are the players returning to ballot, each with recent vote totals and Hall of Fame rating. If you’re unfamiliar with Hall of Fame rating, you can find the introduction here. It works similarly to Jay Jaffe’s JAWS except that it uses FanGraphs WAR instead of Baseball-Reference and measures peak in a different way, so as to encompass all of a player’s good seasons. HOF AVG and MEDIAN denote the average and median HOF Ratings of players at a candidate’s respective position. BBWAA AVG and MEDIAN denote the same thing, except consider only those players voted in by writers (and not those inducted by, say, the Veterans’ Committee).

Hall of Fame Holdover Candidates in 2019
Player Voting % in 2018 Voting % in 2017 Change HOF Points WAR HOF RATING HOF AVG HOF MEDIAN BBWAA AVG BBWAA MEDIAN
Edgar Martinez 70.4% 58.6% 11.8% 44 65.5 54.8 58.4 60.3 72.1 74.3
Mike Mussina 63.5% 51.8% 11.7% 53.0 82.2 67.6 54.5 48.9 66.9 63.3
Roger Clemens 57.3% 54.1% 3.2% 115.0 133.7 124.4 54.5 48.9 66.9 63.3
Barry Bonds 56.4% 53.8% 2.6% 173 164.4 168.7 55.7 49.7 62.7 52.5
Curt Schilling 51.2% 45.0% 6.2% 65.0 79.7 72.4 54.5 48.9 66.9 63.3
Omar Vizquel 37.0% NA NA 16 42.6 29.3 55.0 52.5 62.0 57.8
Larry Walker 34.1% 21.9% 12.2% 44 68.7 56.4 62.4 49.5 82.1 67.1
Fred McGriff 23.2% 21.7% 1.5% 31 56.9 44.0 59.0 57.1 65.6 57.3
Manny Ramirez 22.0% 23.8% -1.8% 37 66.4 51.7 55.7 49.7 62.7 52.5
Jeff Kent 14.5% 16.7% -2.2% 32 56.1 44.1 59.8 52.8 77.1 65.4
Gary Sheffield 11.1% 13.3% -2.2% 41 62.1 51.6 55.7 49.7 62.7 52.5
Billy Wagner 11.1% 10.2% 0.9% 5.0 24.2 14.6 21.2 17.7 21.2 17.7
Scott Rolen 10.2% NA NA 53 70.1 61.6 58.4 60.3 72.1 74.3
Sammy Sosa 7.8% 8.6% -0.8% 40 60.1 50.1 62.4 49.5 82.1 67.1
Andruw Jones 7.3% NA NA 53 67.1 60.1 64.6 49.2 92.1 77.1
Players listed in order of 2018 voting percentage.
Those above the median Hall of Famer at their respective position are highlighted in blue.

One way to characterize this year’s results — besides representing a positive outcome for the inductees — is as a disappointment for Edgar Martinez. While somewhat true, it’s also necessary to note that Edgar Martinez is all but assured of entering the Hall of Fame next year. With a lack of great first-time candidates (more on that below) plus the four players already elected, Martinez has plenty of momentum — and momentum actually does exist when it comes to Hall of Fame voting. He should get elected next season.

The person actually hurt most by Martinez’s near-miss is Larry Walker. The former MVP got a pretty big boost in the balloting this year, but he has just two more cycles remaining. Given that Walker did well among voters with the full 10 players on their ballot, it follows that every extra player who receives a large share of the vote hurts Walker’s own chances. He needs to add about 20% in each of the next two seasons, and that is a pretty tall task. Next year is going to be big for Walker.

This season brought some good news for Mike Mussina. He made significant gains among votes, and while he isn’t close to running out of time on the ballot, he now has a realistic shot of gaining entry next season, needing just the same increase that he saw this year. Curt Schilling made some gains and appears on pace to get in eventually. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are holding steady for fairly obvious reasons, but next year could be the one in which the pair start to benefit from greater support. There are fewer new players worthy of induction in the coming seasons, and a less crowded ballot could cause some voters to change their mind, causing some with full ballots to include players with PED histories.

Jeff Kent, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, Billy Wagner are all treading water a bit. They could see some gains next season, but it will be hard for them to get traction. Manny Ramirez is a bit ahead of that group and has more time to gain momentum, but he has a ways to go and actually lost votes this year. Fred McGriff will get his final shot from the writers next season, but his career falls a bit short of the standard for a Hall of Famer, and the push he needs for next year is basically impossible.

As for the new candidates, Mariano Rivera is a pretty clear-cut choice, and Roy Halladay had a Hall of Fame-worthy career, but it isn’t clear how he will do on the ballot given the presence of superior pitchers like Mussina and Schilling, as well as Clemens.

The best of the newcomers to the ballot next season are listed below.

Hall of Fame Ballot Newcomers 2019
12 39.7 25.9 21.2 17.7 21.2 17.7
54 65.2 59.6 54.5 48.9 66.9 63.3
45 54.8 49.9 59.0 57.1 65.6 57.3
33 68.9 51.0 54.5 48.9 66.9 63.3
45 56.1 50.6 55.7 49.7 62.7 52.5
37 52.5 44.8 54.5 48.9 66.9 63.3
20 39.7 29.9 54.8 51.5 62.0 57.8

After Rivera and Halladay there is a pretty impressive group of Hall of Very Good-type players, almost all of whom played for the Houston Astros. Todd Helton was more Fred McGriff than Jim Thome, but he had a really good career regardless of where he played his home games. Lance Berkman is the same deal: memorable career, very good player, probably not to modern Hall of Fame standards. He’s just above the median for left fielders but below for first basemen.

Andy Pettitte played for Houston but is most remembered for his days as a Yankee. The 4.09 FIP (90 FIP-) and 3.81 ERA (84 ERA-) he recorded over 276.2 postseason innings are both very good, but his career also didn’t feature a high peak. Roy Oswalt’s peak was better than Pettitte’s — his 48.3 WAR from 2001 to 2010 was second in the majors to Roy Halladay — but his career was basically over a season later. Miguel Tejada did win an MVP and hit 307 homers as a shortstop primarily, but he only had one season above five wins and his good seasons ended at 32 years old.

This year’s election results went roughly as expected, opening up a pretty interesting future for the Hall of Fame. As the ballot becomes less congested, we will see if Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens can start gaining momentum. We are almost certain to see Mariano Rivera and Edgar Martinez make the Hall next season, and Mike Mussina might join them. Larry Walker’s candidacy will be one to watch, with just two years remaining on the ballot. Roy Halladay’s first time on the ballot comes after his unfortunate passing last year. While there might be an element of sympathy regarding his candidacy, he’s a worthy Hall of Famer even without it.

Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

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4 years ago

My guess for next year would be that:
– Mo, Mussina and Edgar all get in
– Schilling has to wait another year or even 2
– Halladay takes several years to get in (I know some are pegging him as 1st ballot but I don’t see how he does better than Schilling and Mussina)
– Walker doesn’t make it and runs out of time after 2020 (sad face)
– Helton and Pettite get enough to stay on the ballot but no other newcomers do (maaaaaybe Tejada, but not Berkman or Oswalt). Pettite makes it after waiting 6+ years. Helton cannot overcome the COors Field stigma and does not get in.
– Bonds and Clemens don’t ever make it
– None of the other holdovers (including Vizquel) end up getting elected (maaaaaybe Rolen, but he has a long way to go from the 10.2% this year)

It’s interesting – to my eye we are coming into a real drought of viable HOF players. 2020 is Jeter and nobody else (Bobby Abreu? I just don’t see it). 2021 is absolutely nobody – Tim Hudson and Mark Buehrle lead the way. 2022 is ARod and Big Papi (I could see Teixeira and Rollins surviving but not getting elected).

I think what we are going to see is the change from the 15 year limit to 10 year creating some pretty empty ballots in a few years. Given the reality of how voting tends to go over time, I see a number of guys that could have really used those extra 5 years to build a case (Larry Walker being the best example) but now they will be gone before they get to 75%.

4 years ago
Reply to  Anon

Pettitte is not getting in HoF by BBWAA nor does he deserve to.
He had a grand total of three seasons over 4 rwar/RA9-war.
Sure, his win loss record helps him, but even with the weaker pool of players, I just don’t see it.

4 years ago
Reply to  tung_twista

Not to mention the PED use. If you’re not going to vote for Manny, Sheffield, Bonds, Clemens, etc, you shouldn’t be voting for Pettitte. So if you take an already short HOF resume and add to it that he won’t get some votes regardless of resume, I agree he shouldn’t have a shot.

4 years ago
Reply to  tung_twista

I understand the lack of peak argument and the PED argument against Pettitte, however, he does have 68.7 fWAR in his career, which is better than Halladay, and comes to an average of over 4 WAR per 200 IP, which is very high for a career. Even his last year when he retired for the last time, he was a 3+ win pitcher, so he probably could have compiled more stats and WAR if he had wanted to.

And that doesn’t account for his 276 postseason innings (the most all time). I don’t think we should value those higher than regular season innings, but in addition to the 200+ innings he was throwing every year, he also had to throw another 20-30 most years. And the quality of his postseason performance was very close to his regular season career averages. If we had postseason WAR, he was probably worth another 5 wins. Overall, probably had more postseason impact than anyone other than Rivera.

I don’t think he is a first ballot HoFer, but I don’t think I would be upset if he got in eventually.

4 years ago
Reply to  BenZobrist4MVP

And, not that anyone is doing it here, but we should be careful not to throw Pettitte in the same “Longevity Bucket” as Jamie Moyer. Moyer actually had 9 seasons where he was below average. In Pettitte’s 18 season he was worth 3+ WAR in 14 of them (including 5+ in 4). In the remaining 4 seasons, he was on pace for over 3 WAR/200 IP in 3 of them. His worst season on a rate basis he was at 2.6 WAR. He was literally NEVER a below average pitcher any year of his entire career.

4 years ago
Reply to  Anon

realistically though looking at guys that got dropped due to 10 year rule-
2016- Mark McGwire after 10 years

2019- would lose Edgar Martinez and Fred McGriff
2020- would lose Larry Walker
2022- would lose Clemens, Bonds, Schilling, and Sosa

what we’ve seen is fewer guys on the 1st ballot remaining on the ballot-
2018- only Vizquel, Rolen, and Jones stuck on ballot
2017- only Guerrero, Ramirez stuck on ballot
2016- only Hoffman, Wagner stuck on ballot

So last 3 years only 7 guys didn’t get in but stayed on ballot- and 2 of those are elected now.

I think 2021 will be the fascinating ballot, as no one coming in will get elected(and possible no one will stick on ballot of the newcomers).

4 years ago
Reply to  Anon

IMO Bonds, Clemons, Pettite (or Arod) and Ortiz get elected as 4-man class in 2022- the leftover between Arod and Pettite the next year.

Ortiz is too popular to keep out, and the ballot of guys who have not been caught on PEDs will be almost nothing after a zero-class of 2011.

By performance measures, the top 8 or so candidates in 2022 will all be caught-PED users. Schilling, Rolan, & Jones, maybe even Wagner, are likely to get inducted in 2020/2021 when only a 1st Ballot Jeter will join the candidates.

Halladay sailing in 1st ballot next year in a 4-man class will set up Walker as the obvious guy for a 10th year push- and then really just returnees and Jeter until 2022. By then, with Bonds & Clemens in their 10th year, the popularity of Ortiz, Pettite and perhaps a re-marketed Arod will be too much for Lance Berkman, Tim Hudson and Bobby Abreu to get 75%.