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.
|Paul Lo Duca||17.8|
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.