In an LHD on Sports Blog tradition, I am once again conveying my thoughts on who I would vote for if I had a BBWAA ballot for the 2024 National Baseball Hall of Fame.
The BBWAA vote will be revealed on Major League Baseball (MLB) Network on Tuesday, January 23, 2024. The Hall of Fame vote reveal remains one of the most anticipated moments on the baseball calendar and certainly of the offseason. Here is the 2024 National Baseball Hall of Fame Candidates Eligible for vote (via Baseball Reference with prior year percentage total for returning candidates). 75% of all ballots cast must include the players name for induction.
|The Plaque Gallery will add to its fold this year (Credit: Me)
As most readers probably know, the actual voting committee is the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA). Prior to 2016, once a member, always a vote. In 2016, several changes to the voting process were made (see my related Blog here) culling the list of voters to those who had covered the game in the prior 10 years. This played out to remove a number of small vote ballots and increase percentages for those on the bubble.
There are a few overarching factors to cover before we get to the specifics.
1) A major, controversial specter over the Hall will continue to be how to handle candidates associated with Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) use in baseball primarily in the 1990s and early 2000s, an era for which many players accused are now on the Hall of Fame ballot although the number is dwindling with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire running out of eligibility. There are players whose on-field performance clearly merits first ballot election, however because of their associated with substances that enhanced their performance, some members (a minority) of the BBWAA have been hesitant to cast votes their way. At least in the 75% needed for induction. Because the official voting rules include the words "integrity, sportsmanship, and character," their reluctance is justified in my mind. For my selection, I will not presume guilt, but if there are legal findings, firsthand accounts (including Mitchell Report) or strong anecdotal evidence of PED use, I will strongly weigh against voting for the candidate. You can count me in the "The PED STJ" type here in a blog I wrote. A constant I hear is "how can it be a Hall of Fame without Bonds, Clemens, Pete Rose, etc." Their accomplishments, records, videos, etc. are more than prominent in the museum portion of the Hall of Fame and museum, but down by the plaques, you won't find them there. Did the crime, do the time.
2) A change in consideration for me is how to assess pitchers. Whereas the 300-win plateau with a low ERA reflective of the dead ball, or pitcher dominated, eras prior to 1970 used to be a norm, it's become increasingly more difficult to get wins in the era of specialty relievers with starters leaving the game before the end of the sixth inning many times in close games. Conversely, however, one would think this would benefit starting pitchers ERA by seldom going through a lineup more than twice in some cases, rarely more than three times. Also, after many years of closers not being strongly considered, Mariano Rivera became the first and only to date unanimous inductee to the Hall, along with high save count Trevor Hoffman and Lee Smith in recent years. The doors have opened a bit in that regard. In the end, for pitchers, I strongly weigh dominance over a reasonable period of time, along with Cy Young Awards, All-Star games, win titles, career saves, and ERA.
3) There is also first and last ballot bias. First ballot candidates some BBWAA voters seem reticent to vote in to protect some sort of integrity of being a "first ballot hall of famer". Evidence, three voters who did not include Ken Griffey Jr. in 2016. Likewise, when a player is on his last ballot (as Tim Raines was in 2017, Edgar Martinez in 2019, and Larry Walker in 2020) voters who previously withheld a vote tend to pay a bit more attention to their candidacy considering it's a final shot and vote favorably.