The Baseball Writers voted in four players for the 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame Class: Chipper Jones, Trevor Hoffman, Vladimir Guerrero, and Jim Thome. There is quietly a revolution going on in Cooperstown, with sixteen players selected since 2014. To understand how crazy this turnaround in induction is, from 2003-2013, the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) voted in the same number of players.
As younger voters are being included, more votes are being cast and the purity belief surrounding the Hall of Fame induction standards is starting to go by the wayside. The average vote per ballot rose dramatically from the 5-6 range to 8-9 starting in 2014, including 8.46 for the 2018 group. While the total ballots cast are fewer, more votes are happening within those ballots.
That means that Edgar Martinez saw a jump from 43.4% to 58.6% to this year’s 70.4%. He likely seems a lock now for the class of 2019. Mike Mussina has also seen a similar growth from 43.0% to 51.8% to this year’s 65.3%. He may end up in the same position as Martinez next year and be a lock for the 2020 Ballot or he may become Trevor Hoffman and get enough of a push to make it for the 2019 ballot.
Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens likely won’t see much of a boost unless the tide massively shifts in their favor. Next year will be the 7th year for both of them and while they made big jumps of +10% from 2016-2017, they barely moved the needle for 2018 and may struggle to still reach at least 60% of the vote next year, especially if more voters try to push up lower percentage guys like Jeff Kent, Fred McGriff, or Scott Rolen at their expense.
The class of 2019 looks really interesting right off the bat, if you’ll pardon my pun. Mariano Rivera is a lock to make it as a first ballot vote. Just his numbers alone make him a certainty thanks to a 2.21 ERA, 205 ERA+ (adjusted for league & park), and 652 Saves. That’s not even mentioning his 0.70 ERA in the postseason, over 141 innings.
Roy Halladay is possibly the other first ballot lock. While he only won 203 games, he put up a 3.38 career ERA and a 131 ERA+. At his peak from 2005-2011 he was even better, fashioning a 2.82 ERA with an ERA+ of 152 while winning one of his two Cy Youngs and finishing second in two other seasons and third in 2005.
There are also several other players of note that could have an effect on not only Bonds & Clemens but also the percentages of guys like Mussina, Curt Schilling, and Omar Vizquel. 1B Todd Helton, despite Coors Field, put up a 133 OPS+ and a career .316/.414/.539 slash line with over 2,500 hits and 360 home runs. His peak run from 1999-2005 featured an obscene .341/.442/.621 line with a 153 OPS+. As a bonus, he won 3 Gold Gloves for his defense and 4 Silver Sluggers for his hitting.
Andy Pettitte will be an interesting case, especially being alongside Mike Mussina and Roger Clemens, two of his peers team wise and pitching wise. Pettitte won 256 games, had a 3.85 ERA, had a 148 ERA+, won at least 18 games in four different years, and went 19-11 in the postseason with a 3.81 ERA while being a key cog for those dominant 1990s Yankee teams. It will be interesting to see if the Steroids scandal effects him and/or how his postseason dominance is treated in comparison to a pitcher like Curt Schilling.
We’ll likely see 4 more inductees in the class of 2019: Mariano Rivera, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, and maybe Roy Halladay. It will be interesting to see much Bonds & Clemens can climb but also how first ballot players like Todd Helton and Andy Pettitte do out of the gate.