While predicting the results in the NCAA college basketball tournament has become a nationwide passion come March whatever type of office you work in, if you are a baseball writer attached to a web site such as FanSided, the pending list of Baseball Hall of Fame candidates is irresistible. So concurrently with the Baseball Writers Association of America we conducted our own mock vote.
The deadline for receiving ballots to be tabulated for the class of 2012 induction ceremony in Cooperstown passed Saturday and those official results are scheduled to be announced Jan. 9. It takes 75 percent of the vote for a player to be selected for the Hall. In the meantime, 44 FanSided Major League Baseball writers mulled over the candidates and just one, Jeff Bagwell, the long-time Houston Astros star, met the 75 percent threshold with 77.3 percent of the vote.
The close-but-no-cigar first runnerup was former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin, a 12-time All-Star, who garnered 72.7 percent of the vote. Larkin was one vote short of the standard. Tim Raines and his 808 stolen bases came in third, being named on 63.6 percent of the ballots.
Several players, who were a reach to make the ballot in the first place, received no votes at all. They were: Eric Young, Tony Womack, Ruben Sierra, Javy Lopez, Brian Jordan, Vinny Castilla, and Jeremy Burnitz. Bill Mueller, Tim Salmon, Terry Mulholland, Phil Nevin and Brad Radke received less than five percent of the vote. Under Hall of Fame voting rules any candidate who does not receive at least five percent of the vote in a given year is removed from future ballots.
Players first become eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame five years after their retirement. They remain eligible for up to 15 years provided they receive that basic five percent of each year’s vote.
The other candidates on this year’s ballot for our mock election and their results: Edgar Martinez, 47.7 percent; Lee Smith, 45.5; Don Mattingly, 40.9; Alan Trammell, 40.9; Jack Morris, 38.6; Dale Murphy, 36.4; Mark McGwire, 29.5; Larry Walker, 29.5; Fred McGriff, 25.0; Rafael Palmeiro, 18.2; Bernie Williams, 11.4; Juan Gonzalez, 6.8.
Despite the big-time numbers recorded during their careers, McGwire and Palmeiro received limited support, almost assuredly a backlash to their situations revolving around performance-enhancing drugs. McGwire, who clouted 583 home runs, including 70 in one season, admitted to using steroids. Palmeiro, who collected 569 home runs and more than 3,000 hits, failed a drug test.
Bagwell spent his whole 15-year career playing first base for the Astros. He posted a lifetime batting average of .297, hit 449 home runs and knocked in 1,529 runs. He was the National League rookie of the year in 1991 and the NL Most Valuable Player in 1994. Bagwell was a four-time All Star, won one Gold Glove, and was a three-time Silver Slugger Award winner. He was arguably the face of the franchise in Houston, and the team’s most popular player, throughout his career.
Comparing baseball writer results from last year, Larkin is the leading returning vote-getting with 62.1 percent of the vote. Bagwell received 41.7 percent of the vote in his first year on the official ballot.
Voters using the Hall of Fame ballot can vote for up to 10 names. The FanSided voters submitted an average of just about six names per ballot. Twenty percent of FanSided voters checked off the maxium of 10 names.
During previous balloting focusing on candidates from farther in the past, the Golden Era Veterans Committee selected long-time Chicago Cub third baseman Ron Santo as its only Hall of Famer. The FanSided mock ballot for that group agreed, advancing Santo as its player with at least 75 percent of the vote.