At the outset, let me be clear about something: I do not really care about the particularities of the Hall of Fame vote as opposed to the results. I do not make a distinction between “first ballot” guys and guys who got in in year 10. I do not think that being a 95% or a 76% or a unanimous vote-getter makes any difference whatsoever. It’s a pass-fail test, with “pass” being 75% and everyone who makes it is a Hall of Famer.
Let me also say that vote totals for non-inductees are not really important either. I have, in the past, made light of random votes thrown to guys on the ballot, but it really and truly does not matter unless the one or four random votes here or there make the difference between someone getting in or not.
All of which is to say that this post is about fun and interesting observations, not outrage, OK? OK.
But really, man, I do wanna know who didn’t vote for Derek Jeter. Out of curiosity more than anything else.
As we noted yesterday, Captain Jetes was named on 396 of 397 ballots (99.7 percent), leaving him one vote shy of matching Mariano Rivera as a unanimous inductee. The BBWAA gives its voters the option of making their ballots public but does not require it, which means the identity of the voter who left Jeter off may never be known. We’ll know one way or the other in early February when the individual ballots are released.
There was a decent amount of surprise and at least some outrage about the Jeter snub on social media last night. I get it. As I wrote yesterday, not voting for Jeter for the Hall of Fame is kind of ridiculous. At least if the voter was not doing the strategic thing in which he had 11 or 12 guys he wanted to vote for, knew Jeter was a lock, and therefore left him off so he could vote for, like, Scott Rolen or someone. Again, not the kind of thing I’d do if I had a vote because I’m just not wired that way, but it’s a defensible approach I suppose.
If that was not what was going on — if someone turned in a totally blank ballot or if someone simply left Jeter off because they wanted to make some sort of point — well, I’d suggest they get out more and find something more positive to do with their life. It has to be exhausting being performatively starved for attention.
Beyond Jeter there were some other interesting things down the ballot, beyond just the “who will get in next year” angle of things. Let’s look at the guys on the bottom part of the list:
I know I talked about this last year, but I’m still rather surprised at how little support Andy Pettitte gets. I don’t disagree with the lack of support — I’d not vote for him — but I just assumed that his postseason stuff, the way his PED use was treated with kid gloves by the press, and the whole Core Four thing would help him more than it has, but it didn’t help Jorge Posada a dang bit so I probably should’ve seen it coming. Either way, it’s a lie that being from New York helps a player in Hall voting. If anything, it’s tended to hurt guys as voters gravitate to one or two big stars and chalk everyone else’s success up to team success. Ask Willie Randolph how that works. Or Bernie Williams. Or Keith Hernandez;
Still baffled at Sammy Sosa’s lack of support. I know he’s never getting in, but look at his vote totals compared to Manny Ramirez’s. A lot of voters have said that they would never vote for Ramirez because of failed tests after the imposition of drug testing. A lot of them have said that that’s worse, in their minds, than merely being associated with PEDs before testing. In light of that, wouldn’t Sosa get more support than Ramirez since the PED case is not concrete? It can’t be a pure merit difference because while, yes, Ramirez was a better player than Sosa, if a good number of voters judged them on just the quality of their play, Ramirez would have WAY more support, right? Because a pure numbers case makes him a Hall of Famer. All I can see here is that, somehow, Sosa is being judged far more harshly for his PED use than Ramirez is, and that does not make sense to me;
There’s a contingent of voters out there who, publicly, have been trying to make Jeff Kent happen. It’s not translating to ballot support so I guess I’d say: Gretchen, stop trying to make Kent happen;
I’ve argued that Cliff Lee’s career was too short to be Hall of Fame worthy, even if he does have a Hall of Fame peak. So, fine, he’s not getting in. But I am kind of shocked that he only got two votes. That’s only one more vote than J.J. Putz got! Since when does a guy who, at his best, was the best in the game but only needed a handful of merely good seasons only a two-vote guy! Man. Tough room;
Speaking of Putz, I’m always fascinated with the single vote-getters, as they’re almost always a favor thrown their way by a friendly writer who was close to the guy when he played. Putz, Adam Dunn, Brad Penny, and Raúl Ibañez probably owe some guys a steak dinner;
As for the zero vote-getters, man, harsh. Maybe one too many no comments? Hard to say.
Anyway, that — apart from maybe wishing that, as a symbolic thing, that Adam Dunn got exactly 40 votes — is all I got from this year’s ballot.