Given a day to fully digest the voting for the Hall of Fame, one can come to the conclusion that voters really do not like PED guys, and that the 10-player limit will be a problem for years to come.
All of the players with concrete ties to PEDs lost votes — Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds only lost a couple of percentage points each, both finishing at around 35%. But the fact that support is not gaining for them means they will probably never get voted in by the writers unless something drastic happens, such as a definition from the Hall about what to do with players like these.
Mark McGwire, after hovering around 25% during his first six years on the Hall of Fame ballot, dropped from nearly 17% last year to 11% this year. His homer buddy Sammy Sosa fell to seven percent after getting 12% last year in his first appearance. He will likely fall off next year, a fate that has already befallen Rafael Palmeiro, who did not get the 5% needed to remain on the ballot. That seems fair, since he did actually fail a drug test.
Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza continue to be dogged by unsubstantiated steroid whispers, but it appears voters are more sure about Bagwell’s alleged usage than Piazza’s. Bagwell’s vote total dropped to 54%. After climbing from 41% in his first year to 56% in his second to 59% last year, it looked like he would eventually surge to 75%. But this setback could be the beginning of a downward spiral. In contrast, Piazza went from 57% in his first year to 62% this year. Hopefully he will continue to climb and not suffer a Bagwell-like slide.
Bagwell might also have been done in by the 10-player limit. There likely were writers who wanted to vote for Bagwell, but couldn’t because they had already reached their limit. The PED guys are clogging up the Hall of Fame ballot and are costing players votes.
That is probably what happened to Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent. Both first time candidates were expected to see strong support; instead Mussina got 20% and Kent just 15%. Curt Schilling’s drop to 29% from 38% last year can be attributed to the stacked ballot.
It was also a bad year for Jack Morris and Tim Raines, darlings of many writers. In his last year of eligibility, Morris scored only 61%, down from 67% last year. Raines also fell, from 52% last year to 46% this time around.
And then of course there is Craig Biggio. The member of the 3000 hit club fell two votes shy of election. The case against Biggio is weak — yes, he was never really dominant, but he had 3000 hits. That should be good enough for election to the Hall of Fame.
Overall the voting was odd, and it will remain that way until either the 10-player limit is raised or the Hall gives guidance on how to vote for suspected PED users.