Mad Dog and Big Hurt: How the 2014 Hall of Fame vote will turn out

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This Wednesday afternoon we’ll learn who will be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the baseball writers. As I did last year, I will try to predict the final outcome.

Last year we got the “Big Six” newcomers on the ballot, and none of them were elected, in fact no one was elected by the writers. This season, we have several newcomers, some of whom are virtual slam dunks. But what will the vote totals look like? I’ll start with the new guys.

Greg Maddux
Has a chance to break the record for highest vote percentage, held by Tom Seaver when he received 98.8%, or 425 of 430 ballots cast. Somehow five people thought Tom Terrific wasn’t terrific enough, and I think there will be some bozos who do the same with Maddux. Some writers think NO ONE should be unanimous because Babe Ruth wasn’t even unanimous.
Prediction: 98.7% (chance of election, 100%)

Frank Thomas
So far there hasn’t been much debate about Thomas being a DH for about 55% of his career. Edgar Martinez has been stung on that, but Big Hurt will probably get in on his first try. The big guy has an argument as the best right handed hitter in the game since Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson roamed the outfields of the National League in the 1960s. Still, there will be those voters who hedge on Thomas because of the DH thing and PED “guilt by association.” However, Thomas did what the baseball writers love: he hit homers and drove in runs.
Prediction: 88.6% (chance of election, 93%)

Tom Glavine
Glavine will join longtime teammate Maddux and their manager Bobby Cox (elected by the veterans committee in December) in The Class of 2014. Because he won 300 games, he’ll finish ahead of Thomas in balloting.
Prediction: 93.9% (chance of election, 98%)

Jeff Kent
I just don’t think most baseball writers view Kent as a Hall of Famer, even though his career numbers in homers, RBI, hits, and runs scored rate him among the very elite of second basemen. He was never a great defender, he wore out his welcome nearly everywhere he played, he had his best seasons when he hit behind Barry Bonds, and he did it all during one of baseball’s best eras for offense. His peak (if measured by WAR7) is not that great for a middle infielder – it’s far lower than that of Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker, for example. I don’t think Kent will fall off the ballot (he slugged 377 homers at second base), but he won’t even sniff respectability in his first year.
Prediction: 16.0% (chance of election, 0%)

Mike Mussina
He’s an interesting case. In my opinion, Mussina was a better pitcher than Bert Blyleven or Catfish Hunter or Jim Bunning, guys who are in the Hall. He’s a better candidate than Jack Morris, for certain. But he also suffers in comparison to the other dominant starting pitchers in the AL during his era – Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez. A case could be made that Mussina was every bit as good as Glavine, though Glavine has him on longevity.I think Mussian will gradually gain support, and like Don Sutton (a pitcher who is not his equal on peak performance), he’ll eventually get in because he is one of the best pitchers of his time.
Prediction: 32.0% (chance of election, 0%)

Now I’ll look at the holdovers, and get back to some lesser newcomers toward the bottom of this article.

Rafael Palmeiro
Though he has 500 homers and 3,000 hits, Palmeiro is never making the Hall of Fame, unless a radical shift occurs in the view on PEDs, and only if a special committee votes for him. He lost support last year when the Big Six came onto the ballot, it will get even worse this year as the top heavy ballot costs him some votes, but I think he’ll hang on to achieve the 5% required to stick for another year.
Prediction:  5.2% (chance of election, 0%)

Sammy Sosa
He got far less support in ’13 than I thought he would (I predicted 21% and he garnered 12.5%). It’s going to get worse, as voters are now comparing Sammy to Thomas and Piazza (again) and others who are not considered to have cheated. Sosa (and Raffy) could fall off the ballot completely, it wouldn’t shock me.
Prediction: 6.0% (chance of election, 0%)

Don Mattingly
There are enough voters who watched Donnie Baseball in the 1980s who will still throw a vote his way, especially when they compare his physique to the Popeye-like PED guys on this ballot. But Mattingly, like a few others on this ballot, face the real possibility that they could fall below the 5%. It’s time for the Hall of Fame to change their voting rules to allow more than 10 names on each ballot.
Prediction: 6.9% (chance of election, 0%)

Mark McGwire
This is what I wrote last year:

Since his appearance on the ballot in 2007, Big Mac has received between 16-24% every year. He seems to have about 120 voters who are in his corner, despite the steroid use. His vote has ebbed and flowed only a tiny bit based on the quality of the rest of the names on the ballot. In 2010 when there were no obvious 1st ballot guys on the docket, McGwire got 23.7%, a higher total than his first year on the ballot. Some have suggested that McGwire’s vote totals would gradually erode as his supporters in the electorate recognized that he has slim to no chance of being elected. That appears to be the case, as he’s dipped below 20% the last two ballots. With the big names appearing on the ’13 ballot, McGwire will see his vote total dip to a new low, though he will still garner enough votes to keep him on the ballot for 2014.

I don’t see any reason that Mac will get any more support in ’14, and I think he’ll dip about 4-5% from last year.

Prediction: 12.2% (chance of election 0%)

Fred McGriff
He has continued to get more support than McGwire, and that won’t change. I actually think he’ll be one of the very few candidates low on the ballot who will maintain most of his support. Someday, I think mcGriff has a chance to get in either in his 14th or 15th year on the ballot, or via a committee.
Prediction: 18.8% (chance of election, 0%)

Larry Walker
Did not fall off that much last year in his third year on the HOF ballot. I think he has a decent chance to be elected eventually.
Prediction: 18.8% (chance of election, 0%)

Alan Trammell
He will never be elected by the BBWAA, and he has only two more chances after this year. I think some sort of veterans committee will gradually gain support for both Trammell and Lou Whitaker, and the duo will be elected when they’re old men.
Prediction: 25.9% (chance of election, 0%)

Edgar Martinez
Given that many one-dimensional players have been elected to the Hall, it’s surprising to me how lukewarm the support for Edgar has been. Sure, he was only a hitter, but he was a damned good one for a long time. There’s probably very little chance he will ever get a plaque in Cooperstown, unless we see an influx of DH’s getting elected in years to come.
Prediction: 29.2% (chance of election, 0%)

Barry Bonds
Last year in his first shot on the ballot, I predicted 39% and he got 36.2%. This time, Bonds will get less, for the obvious reason that the ballot is loaded, but also because many writers abandon a candidate when they see after one year that their colleagues are not on the same side of the issue as they are.
Prediction: 33% (chance of election 0%)

Roger Clemens
Eventually, as time fades and blame starts to be placed more on the league and society for the Steroid Era, I think Bonds and Clemens will get in. They were both obviously HOF-worthy before they started juicing. They’d be wise to stay squeaky clean or quiet in the intervening years.
Prediction: 38.6% (chance of election 0%)

Curt Schilling
Schilling’s HOF candidacy started out pretty well considering the big names that came on board last year with him. He got far more support than Bert Blyleven, for example. I think within 5-6 years he will be on the cusp and will eventually get the 75% needed.
Prediction: 39.2% (chance of election 0%)

Lee Smith
Is there a place for a second-tier of relief pitchers in the Hall of Fame? That’s the question that has to be answered in the positive if Smith is to get a plaque. He has received between 45-50% five times, and he seems to be getting more support. This year he’ll get lost in the shuffle.
Prediction: 29.3% (chance of election 0%)

Tim Raines
He continues to get more support, as he moved past 50% last year. Only one candidate (who is not on the ballot currently) has ever reached 50% and NOT been elected by the writers (Gil Hodges). Raines will probably make it, and it looks like he’s become a popular candidate among many voters, who will make room for his name among the max of 10.
Prediction: 55.3% (chance of election 0%)

Mike Piazza
The candidate I was most wrong about in ’13, Piazza got 57.8% in his first year on the ballot, more than I anticipated. In retrospect, I overestimated the amount of “guilt by association” he’d get labeled with in regards to steroids. I think Piazza was a clean player, but who the hell knows? Voters generally think he was, and he’ll get in eventually. it won’t be this year, but he’ll get a big jump, as those who didn’t vote for him last year realize how much support he has among their peers.
Prediction: 67.1% (chance of election 5%)

Jeff Bagwell
It would be great to see Bags and Biggio inducted together, but 2014 will be the Year of the Braves in Cooperstown.
Prediction: 62.1% (chance of election 12%) 

Jack Morris
Has gained 14 points in the voting the last two years, and this is his last shot. There will be a final ballot bump, but with the other names on this list, Morris will come up just short. He’s also been targeted by the SABR crowd as not being HOF worthy. They may be correct, but no other candidate in history has ever had such a vociferous anti-HOF campaign run against him based on what he did on the field.
Prediction:  71.9% (chance of election 40%)

Craig Biggio
One of only two eligible 3,000-hit guys who wasn’t elected on his first ballot, the other is Palmeiro. Biggio may have to wait another year, as some voters will stubbornly refuse to choose 10 names, even though he’s obviously worthy of a spot. There will be some voters who just want to move Maddux, Thomas, and Glavine along and deal with Biggio next season.
Prediction: 73.9% (chance of election 95%)

Others on the ballot
Of the others on the ballot for the first time, Luis Gonzalez and Kenny Rogers have the best arguments to stick around for a second year base don both career and peak value… Moises Alou had a fine career, and he did some things (300+ homers and a .300 batting average) that voters like, but he is going to have a hard time getting 5%…  Paul Lo Duca, Jacque Jones, and Sean Casey don’t deserve to even be on the ballot, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were 4-5 guys who didn’t get a single vote. If Todd Jones gets one, we should demand to know who the hell voted for him.

National Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot Projection for 2014
Maddux … 98.7%
Glavine … 93.9%
Thomas … 88.6%
Biggio … 73.9%
Morris … 71.9%
Piazza … 67.1%
Bagwell … 62.1%
Raines … 55.3%
Schilling … 39.2%
Clemens … 38.6%
Bonds … 33.0%
Mussina … 32.0%
L. Smith … 29.3%
Ed. Martinez … 29.2%
Trammell … 25.9%
McGriff … 18.8%
La. Walker … 18.8%
Kent … 16.0%
McGwire … 12.2%
Mattingly … 6.9%
Sosa … 6.0%
Palmeiro … 5.2%

Gonzalez, Rogers, Alou, Ray Durham, any others … less than 5%

What do you think will happen? Tell me in the comments section.

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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is the author of three books about baseball, including Ty Cobb: A Biography. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and Major League Baseball Advanced Media. He lives in Michigan where he writes, runs, and enjoys a good orange soda now and again.
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Joseph Novak
Joseph Novak
10 years ago

Those who juiced: Palmero; Clemmens, Sossa, Maguire,etc will be treated as bad as Pete Rose.

Morris deserves to be in (won with Detroit, Toronto and Minnesota – always a top pitcher); Trammell and Whittaker should be in as a tandem ( stop listing them separate), even Evans, Tinkers and Chance don’t rate as high).