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.