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On Wednesday, baseball greats Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven were elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. A day later, it's been announced that Alomar will become the first player ever to wear a Blue Jays cap on his Hall plaque:
"I will go into the Hall of Fame with a Blue Jays hat," said Alomar. "The first Blue Jay ever to go with a Blue Jay hat and I'm looking forward to it."
Blyleven, meanwhile, will wear a Twins cap. The decision wasn't an open-and-shut one for either player, as both careers were spread across multiple teams.
Alomar is best-known for his days with the Padres, Blue Jays, Orioles, and Indians, though he also recorded stints with the Mets, White Sox, and Diamondbacks. He stayed in Toronto the longest (five years), and was a member of two world champion Blue Jays teams.
Blyleven spent nine of his 22 seasons with the Twins, split across two different eras -- one to start his career in the early '70s, and a second in the late '80s. He spent five seasons or fewer with the Indians, Angels, Pirates, and Rangers. He pitched for two World Series-winning teams, the 1979 Dodgers and the 1987 Twins.
Obviously, this is a wonderful day for both Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven, who were earlier elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. While it took Alomar just two years to earn election, for Blyleven it was a 14-year slog, and this is most certainly a cause for celebration.
But there was more to this year's ballot than simply the two players who received enough votes for election, and based on the numbers, it seems the BBWAA voters are taking a collective stand against eligible players who either used, or are suspected of using, steroids and other PEDs. Some of the vote tallies:
Jeff Bagwell: 41.7%
Mark McGwire: 19.8%
Rafael Palmeiro: 11.0%
Juan Gonzalez: 5.2%
Kevin Brown: 2.1%
McGwire's usage history is well-known, and despite coming clean about his steroid use last January, his support dropped a few percentage points from last year. Palmeiro insists he never used despite failing a test and getting suspended, and he received little support despite a long and impressive career that saw him exceed 3000 hits and 500 homers. Brown, who has long been suspected of using, earned precious little support despite very strong numbers. Gonzalez is in a similar boat as Brown. And in the most polarizing case, Bagwell was hurt by voter suspicion despite zero links to usage, and despite career statistics that match him up with names like Rod Carew and Joe DiMaggio.
There is no question that a player with Jeff Bagwell's statistics belongs in the Hall of Fame, but as evidenced today by his results, and by the results for others, many of the BBWAA voters want little to do with players who even just may have used PEDs at some point in their careers. Whether right or wrong, that appears to be the committee's current collective position.
As you've certainly heard by now, results of the 2011 baseball Hall of Fame voting are in, with both Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar earning election to Cooperstown. In Blyleven's case, this is the end of a 14-year struggle, while, for Alomar, it took just two years to gain enough support. This is an exciting day for both of them, as they're joining one of baseball's most hallowed and exclusive groups.
But another aspect of the voting other than the players who got in is the list of players who didn't, and how much support they received. It is by comparing this year's voting results to results in previous years and to expectations that we can begin to identify players with positive momentum, players with negative momentum, and players with no momentum at all heading in to 2012.
Barry Larkin was named on the third-most ballots this time around, picking up 361 (62.1%) votes. That's still a fair ways from 75%, but given his 51.6% showing in his first year on the ballot in 2010, it's clear that Larkin has a growing amount of support. He should be the most popular player on the 2012 ballot, as the best of the first-timers will be Javy Lopez or Bernie Williams, and as such odds are good that Larkin will be elected next January.
Behind Larkin among ballot veterans were Jack Morris, Lee Smith, and Tim Raines. Neither Morris nor Smith saw a substantial increase in support, but Raines jumped from 30.4% to 37.5%, which is his second big increase in a row. None of these players is likely to be elected a year from now, but Raines is trending in the right direction.
The top ballot rookie this year was Jeff Bagwell, who collected 41.7% support. Statistically speaking, Bagwell's career ranks as one of the all-time best, but several writers suspect him of PED use, and that clearly held him back. While Bagwell should earn more support a year from now, it doesn't look like his election is going to come quickly, if it comes at all.
In 2011, there were two near-certainties for election, and indeed those two players were elected. In 2012, there will be one strong candidate in Larkin, but he's still a long ways off, and it's possible that next year's results will be less about election and more about observing continuing trends.
Earlier on Wednesday, the 2011 Baseball Hall of Fame voting results were revealed, and two new players were elected into Cooperstown. Bert Blyleven picked up 79.7% of the vote, while Roberto Alomar blew by everybody in getting his name on 90.0% of all ballots. Alomar was clearly seen by the BBWAA as a very strong candidate, and in looking at his career numbers, it isn't hard to figure out why.
Alomar's .300 career average and .814 career OPS aren't staggering in and of themselves. It's that Alomar was able to hit that well while allegedly serving as a phenomenal defensive second baseman that made him so valuable. Whether right or wrong, Alomar is considered by many to have been one of the best glovemen at second in baseball history. That would've made him a good player had he hit even just a little bit. Instead, he hit a lot, ranking 55th all-time in hits, 78th all-time in total bases, and 100th all-time in walks. A statistic called Wins Above Replacement, which takes into consideration both offensive and defensive value, ranks Alomar's career between those of Hall of Famers Al Simmons and Jackie Robinson.
Last year was Alomar's first year on the ballot, and he fell shy of election, as many voters wanted to punish him for a 1996 incident in which he spit at umpire John Hirschbeck during an on-field argument. However, the penalty was evidently to simply not allow Alomar first-ballot election, as today he became just the 26th player ever to receive at least 90% support. He becomes the 20th second baseman to enter the Hall.
Bert Blyleven is one of two players to be elected today to Cooperstown in the 2011 Baseball Hall of Fame voting, along with Roberto Alomar. And, by seeing Blyleven get elected, we finally get to wrap up what's been a long-running and incendiary debate regarding his candidacy.
Blyleven received just 17.5% support in his first year on the Hall of Fame ballot back in 1998. He stayed around that level into the next decade, around which point a man named Rich Lederer started up a website called Baseball Analysts. Lederer - whose father was a Hall of Fame voter - saw Blyleven as a worthy candidate and wrote several lengthy articles examining his statistics and highlighting his value, and that got the ball rolling.
Since then, Blyleven's Hall of Fame candidacy has been among the baseball world's most popular topics of conversation. Blyleven has fought against the perception that he didn't really feel like a Hall of Famer during his career. It's for that reason that his initial vote totals were so low. But over time, more and more people started to look at his numbers, and more and more people started to realize that his numbers are superb.
Blyleven's 287 wins rank him 27th all-time. He's 14th in career innings pitched. He's fifth in all-time strikeouts and ninth in all-time shutouts, and adjusting his ERA for context puts him right around Warren Spahn and Gaylord Perry. Blyleven was a phenomenal and durable starting pitcher for 22 years, and while he wasn't one of the absolute best starting pitchers in baseball history, he was close enough to be worthy of induction.
His Hall of Fame voting support over the years reflects the progression of the argument in his favor. After starting out so low, he got up to 35% in 2004 and 63% in 2009. He fell just shy of election a year ago, but that put him in excellent position to be elected today, which, yeah.
After a lengthy build-up, the results of the 2011 Baseball Hall of Fame voting are in. And, according to the announcement by Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson on the MLB Network, Cooperstown is about to have its two newest members.
A surprisingly high 581 voting members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America have chosen to elect Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar into Cooperstown. Alomar received 523 votes (90.0%) in his second year on the ballot, while Blyleven received 463 votes (79.7%) in his 14th year on the ballot. Alomar and Blyleven received 73.7% and 74.2% support last year, respectively.
Missing the 75% cut-off were Barry Larkin and, further below him, Jack Morris, Lee Smith, and Jeff Bagwell. The full results table, courtesy of the BBWAA website:
We're about an hour away from finding out the results of the 2011 Baseball Hall of Fame voting. It's expected that the 539 voting members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America will elect both Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven while failing to do so for others like Barry Larkin and Jeff Bagwell, but until 2pm ET rolls around, we can't know for sure.
But we can get an idea, based on the voting ballots that have been made public by some of the writers. Several members of the BBWAA have written about the guys they're voting for and the guys they're not in print, online, or on Twitter, and this handy spreadsheet keeps track of just about all of them.
According to the spreadsheet, 111 ballots - 21% of the total - have been made public. This is a fairly strong sample size, and so it is with interest that we may peruse the results.
The first thing we notice is that, indeed, Alomar and Blyleven have done well, with Alomar skyrocketing to better than 90% approval. Based simply on the numbers in the spreadsheet, each of these guys should get elected.
In third place, we see Barry Larkin, who has collected 75 public votes, or 68%. He came in at 52% a year ago, so early indications are that he'll take a step forward in 2011. After Larkin come Jack Morris, Tim Raines, Lee Smith, and Jeff Bagwell, all of whom have scored between 40-50% public support. That's less encouraging for Morris and Smith, and more encouraging for Bagwell and Raines.
The spreadsheet can't be considered an accurate predictor of the results, since one figures that public ballots are more likely to come from younger writers, who may not be representative of the whole BBWAA. But there's definitely going to be a strong correlation between what we see now and what we see at 2pm ET, so give this sheet a look.
During the baseball offseason, two consecutive months mean two very different things. December is the month of the winter meetings. It's a time for rumors and trades and free agent signings, and patching up weaknesses while focusing on the season ahead. But January is the month of the Hall of Fame balloting. It's a time for reflection. While December causes us to look to the future, January urges us to glance to the past.
On Wednesday, this year's results of the National Baseball Hall of Fame voting will be revealed. Voting has been done by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, and the results will be announced at 2 p.m. ET both online and on the MLB Network.
33 different players find themselves on this year's ballot - including 19 first-timers - and it appears almost certain that at least one or two of them will exceed the 75% voting threshold and in so doing earn election to the Hall of Fame. Bert Blyleven received 74.2% support last year, and figures to get a boost. And Roberto Alomar received 73.7 percent support last year in his first year on the ballot, and he also figures to get a bump.
Other holdovers who received significant support in 2010 include Jack Morris, Barry Larkin, Lee Smith, and Edgar Martinez. Notable first-timers projected to get a lot of votes include Jeff Bagwell, Larry Walker, and Rafael Palmeiro. It isn't expected that any of these players will show up on at least 75 percent of the ballots this year, but a surprise isn't out of the question.
The 2011 election is the 68th Hall of Fame election held by the BBWAA. A candidate earns election to the Hall of Fame by showing up on at least 75 percent of the ballots. Any candidate who receives between 5- 74.9 percent support will show up on the next year's ballot, unless he has already been on the ballot for 15 years. A candidate who isn't elected after 15 years drops off the ballot, as does a candidate who receives less than 5% support.
Andre Dawson was the only player inducted into the Hall of Fame a year ago, after getting 77.9 percent support. Click here for a list of every player on the 2011 ballot.
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