BBWAA Releases Ridiculously Crowded HOF Ballot

Today, the Baseball Writer’s Association of America has released the official 2014 Hall of Fame Ballot, and because the organization did not induct a single candidate last year, the ballot is more crowded than ever. For reference, here are the 36 names on the list, along with their career WAR.

Name WAR
Barry Bonds 164.1
Roger Clemens 139.9
Greg Maddux 114.3
Curt Schilling 83.5
Mike Mussina 82.3
Jeff Bagwell 80.3
Frank Thomas 72.4
Rafael Palmeiro 70.0
Larry Walker 69.0
Tim Raines 66.3
Mark McGwire 66.3
Edgar Martinez 65.6
Craig Biggio 65.3
Tom Glavine 63.9
Alan Trammell 63.7
Mike Piazza 63.6
Sammy Sosa 60.4
Fred McGriff 57.2
Jeff Kent 56.6
Luis Gonzalez 55.3
Jack Morris 52.7
Moises Alou 48.2
Kenny Rogers 47.2
Don Mattingly 40.7
Ray Durham 30.3
Lee Smith 27.6
Hideo Nomo 24.0
Paul Lo Duca 17.8
Richie Sexson 17.2
Sean Casey 16.1
Jacque Jones 13.1
Mike Timlin 13.1
J.T. Snow 12.6
Eric Gagne 11.9
Todd Jones 11.2
Armando Benitez 9.0

A general rule of thumb is that +60 WAR is a pretty decent dividing line for Hall of Famers. It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, but generally, guys in the +60 WAR range get real consideration for the HOF, and once you get above +80 WAR, you’re basically a lock to get in. +50 to +70 is really the big gray area among which reasonable people can disagree on their candidacy, and obviously, you begin to dig into far more than just career WAR to evaluate their case.

There are six guys on this year’s ballot above +80, meaning that if it weren’t for PEDs, they’d essentially be automatic shoo-ins, or at least, they should be. There’s another 11 beyond those seven that at least cleared the +60 WAR barrier, and four more that are between +50 and +60, including Jack Morris, who is returning with the second highest vote total from last year. I’d say that you can make at least some kind of case for 21 of the 36 guys on the ballot, and can make a strong case for 17 of those 22.

And yet, voters are still limited to a maximum of 10 votes apiece. Even if a qualified voter believes that there are more than 10 qualified candidates this year, he is unable to have his ballot reflect that belief, because the BBWAA and the Hall of Fame continue to hold fast to an archaic 10 slot ballot that fills no actual purpose.

You want to keep Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Palmeiro, Sosa, and Piazza out of the HOF because you don’t like their body shape or the potential that you might be voting for someone who might have used PEDs at some point in his career? Fine, exclude them all, and I can still list off 11 worthy candidates. And if you happen to think that the Hall of Fame should recognize some of the greatest players the game has ever seen, whether or not they used PEDs, well, then you’re tossing worthy players who aren’t suspected of PED use of your ballot.

I’d imagine that we’ll clear a few names off the list this year. If Greg Maddux doesn’t get in, the whole thing becomes a total joke. Morris will probably get in because it’s his last chance and he doesn’t have to add too many more votes to get in. Biggio should get in as well, and was close last year. Thomas should have a very good chance of getting elected, but as a general rule, the BBWAA doesn’t induct classes of more than three players at a time, and I wouldn’t expect that to change this year. So one of the great right-handed hitters of all time probably won’t get in this year, and he can join Jeff Bagwell on the sidelines wondering what kind of system this is.

This whole system needs a complete revamp, but at the very least, the 10 player limit should be removed. I don’t know how someone can look at this year’s list of candidates and say that no one should be able to find more than 10 people to vote for. You might not agree with someone wanting to put more than 10 guys in, but at the very least, voters should have the right to believe that there are more than 10 HOF players listed up above.

If you want to compare the players on the ballots side by side, here is a custom leaderboard of the 36 candidates.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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10 years ago

Don’t care. I lost interest in the Hall ages ago.

Pirates Hurdles
10 years ago

So, why then did you click on this story and choose to take time to post? Hmm, something does not add up.

10 years ago

posts like this are completely ridiculous.

10 years ago

You’re awesome.

Bill S
10 years ago

Methinks thou dost post too much.

10 years ago
Reply to  Bill S


The Sauce
10 years ago
Reply to  Shakespere

Dost is correct.
Also, Shakespeare*

10 years ago
Reply to  Shakespere

Ho, Snappeth

Chicago Mark
10 years ago

Wait a second. Cameron writes an article about how he’s lost interest in the MVP award and he’s our hero. Average writes a post stating how he’s lost interest in the HOF and gets negative votes. Things that make you go HMMMMMMMMMMM!