A Look Ahead to the 2019 Hall of Fame Ballot by Craig Edwards January 25, 2018 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 HOF Points WAR HOF RATING HOF AVG HOF MEDIAN BBWAA AVG BBWAA MEDIAN Mariano Rivera 12 39.7 25.9 21.2 17.7 21.2 17.7 Roy Halladay 54 65.2 59.6 54.5 48.9 66.9 63.3 Todd Helton 45 54.8 49.9 59.0 57.1 65.6 57.3 Andy Pettitte 33 68.9 51.0 54.5 48.9 66.9 63.3 Lance Berkman 45 56.1 50.6 55.7 49.7 62.7 52.5 Roy Oswalt 37 52.5 44.8 54.5 48.9 66.9 63.3 Miguel Tejada 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.