IBWAA Elects Ken Griffey, Jr and Edgar Martinez to Virtual HOF

While our votes don’t have any bearing on the official results, the IBWAA awards have thus far predicted those of the BBWAA with a very high degree of accuracy. The HOF voting, however, should display a bit of a departure from that trend, as the rules under which we vote are a bit varied. For one, we’re allowed up to 15 votes. There’s also the fact that we’re generally a bit more progressive in nature, despite the fact that there are surely some hard-line traditionalists even among the blogger set. As such, you’ll see some guys (Bagwell, Piazza, Raines) already in the HOF according to the IBWAA.

All that said, I was a little surprised to find out that we were actually a bit stingy on the voting this year. You can see the full results below, but as you already know from the header, only Ken Griffey, Jr. and Edgar Martinez made the cut. I’m proud of my colleagues for naming Junior on every ballot, but I’m honestly a little shocked that only one other man exceeded the 75% mark, and even then only by a single vote.

While I’m not shocked by the failure of most of the players to make the cut, there were a few relative surprises, namely Trevor Hoffman (10 votes shy), Moose (16), Rocket (21), and Barroid (22). The sub-50% tallies of the guys below Trammell on the list kind of struck me too. For what it’s worth, I voted for 15 players based on the polling I ran here on the site last month.

Per the press release, here’s a bit of a preface on our voting process and the players who were not eligible due to having already been voted in:

The 2016 IBWAA Hall of Fame ballot compared identically to the BBWAA ballot, with the following exceptions:

  1. Mike Piazza’s name did not appear on the IBWAA ballot because he was elected by the group in 2013.
  1. Jeff Bagwell’s name does not appear on the IBWAA ballot because he was elected by the group in 2015.
  1. Tim Raines’ name does not appear on the IBWAA ballot because he was elected by the group in 2015.

Per a group decision in January, 2014, the IBWAA allows members to vote for up to 15 players, instead of the previous 10, beginning with the 2015 election. In the 2016 election, 99 members voted for 10 or more candidates. Twenty-one members voted for 15 candidates. The average vote per member was 8.74.

Complete voting results are as follows:

Player Name Votes Percentage
Ken Griffey, Jr. 230 100.00%
Edgar Martinez 173 75.22%
Trevor Hoffman 163 70.87%
Mike Mussina 157 68.26%
Roger Clemens 152 66.09%
Barry Bonds 151 65.65%
Curt Schilling 147 63.91%
Alan Trammell 135 58.70%
Larry Walker 104 45.22%
Fred McGriff 83 36.09%
Mark McGwire 83 36.09%
Jeff Kent 78 33.91%
Lee Smith 75 32.61%
Gary Sheffield 74 32.17%
Billy Wagner 71 30.87%
Sammy Sosa 57 24.78%
Jim Edmonds 50 21.74%
Nomar Garciaparra 14 6.09%
Mike Hampton 3 1.30%
Mike Lowell 2 0.87%
Troy Glaus 2 0.87%
David Eckstein 1 0.43%
Garret Anderson 1 0.43%
Jason Kendall 1 0.43%
Luis Castillo 1 0.43%
Mark Grudzielanek 1 0.43%
Mike Sweeney 1 0.43%
Brad Ausmus 0 0.00%
Randy Winn 0 0.00%

Now that I’ve given the results, I’d like to climb up on my soapbox for a bit of a rant. I’ll try to keep this concise, as I don’t think I’m saying anything here that hasn’t already been voiced elsewhere. As I see it, the voting process for admission to the Hall of Fame is somewhat broken. And while the same could be said for any democratic process, this is a bit different from a general election. Namely, we’re not talking about voting for one individual or party over another. And while it could be argued that a 10-man voting limit could lead to the exclusion of one in favor of another, that’s a bit different from simply selecting one of two or three names.

My issues with the BBWAA’s process are manifold, but I don’t think it would take much to alleviate them. And because I firmly believe that you should never present a problem without offering a solution to it, I’ve got a couple fixes below..

Make all ballots public

If there’s one thing that really chaps my ass about the HOF it’s that some of these guys aren’t unanimous. Say what you will about Babe Ruth being the beneficiary of a segregated sport, but there’s no way the man isn’t a Hall of Famer. On what planet does Ted Williams not earn a trip to Cooperstown? Same for Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Rickey Henderson, Greg Maddux, etc. Yet no man in the history of the sport has been named on every ballot. Why?

Well, the obvious answers are bigotry and bias, otherwise known as ignorance and idiocy. Whether you excluded a man based on the color of his skin, the cut of his jib, or the fact that you’re a local hack beat writer who bears a grudge against certain players or teams, you should have to produce a cogent argument for why you chose who you chose. Or didn’t choose, as the case may be.

The loss of anonymity has a funny way of humbling people, and I think it’d have a significant impact on the voting. It might also prevent a jackass or two from getting all high-and-mighty about the sanctity of the game despite actually having voted for some of the very same guys he’s condemning. Then again, maybe nothing would change. But I’d at least like to hear a voter justify why he didn’t vote for a guy who’s considered a sure-fire HOF’er.

The obvious fallout from this is the resultant shaming of voters who don’t have your favorite player’s name checked, but maybe fear of that rabble might motivate some to be a bit more judicious in their selections. If a voter is comfortable with the names on his or her ballot, he or she should have no problem backing them up. Don’t want to make your vote public? Don’t vote.

Expand the max to 15 votes

I get that it’s not called the Hall of Very Good, but I think a reasonable argument can be made for the inclusion of more than 10 players on one’s ballot. As a result, some deserving players might be left off. It’s no so much the hair-splitting that sticks in my craw, though, as it’s the justification too often used to determine for whom a vote is cast. The “I’m sure he’ll get enough support from the other voters” rationale is on some weak sauce, man.

Given the 75% threshold, it’s easy to see how just a few voters thinking that their fellow ballot-casters will carry the day could significantly harm a player’s candidacy. Again, this is generally going to help only the fringy players, but I think they’re the ones who so often need the support. Some might see this as diluting the strength of the HOF, but I believe there are plenty of players whose excellence is more clearly evident in light of more accurate assessments of their playing careers.

While the game we observe today has largely embraced the value of advanced metrics, the same can’t be said for a good number of those determining enshrinement in Cooperstown. Hall of Fame voting is very much stuck in the past and expanding the number of potential votes would be a way to swing the sluggish pendulum forward a few decades.

I’m sure there are more solutions out there, but these are both simple and non-invasive. What’s more, I believe they’d yield results when it comes to tweaking a voting process that I believe is flawed. Any other pet peeves about the HOF balloting you’ve got? Be sure to provide solutions.

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