Apr 5, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays former pitcher Jack Morris and current radio broadcaster looks on during batting practice before the game against the Boston Red Sox at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Before You Do Your Hall of Fame Vote, Know How You Vote


There will be an endless number of blog articles telling you how they’ll be voting this Hall of Fame season, inspiring civil and uncivil debate across the internet. You’ll see people that wave the flag for Jack Morris, maybe one other for a “Small Hall” and that’s it, or you may see people stuff the ballot, struggling to figure which ten they want to be on their ballot they would like to see submitted for counting. You’ll get everything in between, every human being having their own reason, their own opinion on which players meet their Hall of Fame criteria. This article works to provide social media voters with the considerations and narratives we hear the more established journalists and internet writers have laid out in their work, past and present.

Big Hall or Small Hall?

Some people feel it’s necessary to load up the ballot because there are so many players so much better than the competitors of the past they feel the need to fill their ballot to their heart’s content. Other people believe the Hall of Fame should be saved for the elite of the elite, and so only a couple names will be written down. The narrative of the opponents of the Big Hall tends to be that these voters will let anybody in, while the anti-Small Hall crowd believes that there are worthy players being kept out.

My stance: If there is a player that has performed better than other HOF baseball players in the past, perhaps they should be voted in. That would make me a “Big Hall” guy in this day and age.

Aug 24, 2012; Aspen, CO, USA; San Francisco Giants former player Barry Bonds in attendance during stage 4 of the USA Pro Challenge from Aspen to Beaver Creek. Mandatory Credit: Ford McClave-USA TODAY Sports

Steroids or No Steroids?

This one will take a lot of reading, and a lot of soul searching to mold your opinion. If you don’t do any reading or any soul searching and you hear the loudest voices screaming, chances are you’re going to be anti-PEDs. Even if you’re anti-PEDs, you have to decide how opposed you are: do you oppose convicted users, users that admitted after their playing career, suspected users, or players that played alongside users? You can imagine how sticky things can get, because if you’re inconsistent on these, your readership or set of followers will call you out on it. If you can defend your voting inconsistencies within a one-year ballot, very good, but if you’re saying Jeff Bagwell isn’t in because you think he used steroids, but Frank Thomas is in because you believe he’s all natural just because of what your gut is telling you, you’re going to run into some walls. Obviously, if PED-usage is not a concern for you because PED-usage has been around for a long time in some form, then you’re going to move on to just the debate of which player belongs.

My stance: Players that used steroids are not automatically off of my ballot.

What stat, or set of stats drives your opinions?

No matter what stat drives you, this sortable chart on Baseball Reference will help you out in forming an opinion. Let’s say you want to sort by pitcher wins:

Pitching Stats
YoB %vote Yrs WAR WAR7 JAWS Jpos W ▾ L ERA ERA+ WHIP GS SV IP H HR BB SO
Greg Maddux 1st 23 106.8 56.3 81.6 61.4 355 227 3.16 132 1.143 740 0 5008.1 4726 353 999 3371
Roger Clemens 2nd 37.6% 24 140.3 66.3 103.3 61.4 354 184 3.12 143 1.173 707 0 4916.2 4185 363 1580 4672
Tom Glavine 1st 22 81.4 44.3 62.9 61.4 305 203 3.54 118 1.314 682 0 4413.1 4298 356 1500 2607
Mike Mussina 1st 18 83.0 44.5 63.8 61.4 270 153 3.68 123 1.192 536 0 3562.2 3460 376 785 2813
Jack Morris 15th 67.7% 18 44.1 32.8 38.4 61.4 254 186 3.90 105 1.296 527 0 3824.0 3567 389 1390 2478
Kenny Rogers 1st 20 51.4 35.6 43.5 61.4 219 156 4.27 107 1.403 474 28 3302.2 3457 339 1175 1968
Curt Schilling 2nd 38.8% 20 79.9 49.0 64.4 61.4 216 146 3.46 127 1.137 436 22 3261.0 2998 347 711 3116
Hideo Nomo 1st 12 21.1 22.8 22.0 61.4 123 109 4.24 97 1.354 318 0 1976.1 1768 251 908 1918
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2013.

Or home runs:

Batting Stats
YoB %vote Yrs WAR WAR7 JAWS Jpos G AB H HR ▾ RBI SB BB BA OBP SLG OPS+
Barry Bonds 2nd 36.2% 22 162.5 72.8 117.6 53.2 2986 9847 2935 762 1996 514 2558 .298 .444 .607 182
Sammy Sosa 2nd 12.5% 18 58.4 43.7 51.1 58.1 2354 8813 2408 609 1667 234 929 .273 .344 .534 128
Mark McGwire 8th 16.9% 16 62.0 41.9 52.0 54.0 1874 6187 1626 583 1414 12 1317 .263 .394 .588 163
Rafael Palmeiro 4th 8.8% 20 71.8 38.8 55.3 54.0 2831 10472 3020 569 1835 97 1353 .288 .371 .515 132
Frank Thomas 1st 19 73.6 45.3 59.5 54.0 2322 8199 2468 521 1704 32 1667 .301 .419 .555 156
Fred McGriff 5th 20.7% 19 52.6 36.0 44.3 54.0 2460 8757 2490 493 1550 72 1305 .284 .377 .509 134
Jeff Bagwell 4th 59.6% 15 79.5 48.2 63.8 54.0 2150 7797 2314 449 1529 202 1401 .297 .408 .540 149
Mike Piazza 2nd 57.8% 16 59.2 43.1 51.1 43.1 1912 6911 2127 427 1335 17 759 .308 .377 .545 143
Larry Walker 4th 21.6% 17 72.6 44.6 58.6 58.1 1988 6907 2160 383 1311 230 913 .313 .400 .565 141
Jeff Kent 1st 17 55.2 35.6 45.4 57.0 2298 8498 2461 377 1518 94 801 .290 .356 .500 123
Luis Gonzalez 1st 19 51.5 33.8 42.7 53.2 2591 9157 2591 354 1439 128 1155 .283 .367 .479 119
Moises Alou 1st 17 39.7 27.5 33.6 53.2 1942 7037 2134 332 1287 106 737 .303 .369 .516 128
Edgar Martinez 5th 35.9% 18 68.3 43.5 55.9 55.0 2055 7213 2247 309 1261 49 1283 .312 .418 .515 147
Richie Sexson 1st 12 17.9 18.8 18.4 54.0 1367 4928 1286 306 943 14 588 .261 .344 .507 120
Craig Biggio 2nd 68.2% 20 64.9 41.6 53.3 57.0 2850 10876 3060 291 1175 414 1160 .281 .363 .433 112
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2013.

Baseball Reference doesn’t have to be a site for the more stat-heavy readership, although it is good to understand that voting solely on those numbers will hurt your case. Pitcher wins rely so much on run support, defense, and in these days, a competent bullpen, why would you only judge a pitcher on that? Or home runs, the people that dominate that list are outfielders and corner infielders, does that make other worthy middle infielders, relief pitchers, catchers, etc. unworthy?

My stats: Stats that level the playing field and give us a better idea of how players performed in their best years, and how they compare to current Hall of Famers. While I may not know specifically how JAWS is calculated, knowing also the average JAWS of the position a given player is up against (e.g., Roger Clemens‘ JAWS is 103.3, while other pitchers in the HOF average out — their Jpos — at 61.4) gives me some context. Seeing their peak WAR (WAR7) as well as their career WAR gives me an idea of how valuable they were. These serve as a huge starting point for me.

YoB %vote HOFm HOFs Yrs WAR WAR7 JAWS ▾ Jpos
Barry Bonds 2nd 36.2% 340 76 22 162.5 72.8 117.6 53.2
Roger Clemens 2nd 37.6% 332 73 24 140.3 66.3 103.3 61.4
Greg Maddux 1st 254 70 23 106.8 56.3 81.6 61.4
Curt Schilling 2nd 38.8% 171 46 20 79.9 49.0 64.4 61.4
Jeff Bagwell 4th 59.6% 150 59 15 79.5 48.2 63.8 54.0
Mike Mussina 1st 121 54 18 83.0 44.5 63.8 61.4
Tom Glavine 1st 176 52 22 81.4 44.3 62.9 61.4
Frank Thomas 1st 194 60 19 73.6 45.3 59.5 54.0
Larry Walker 4th 21.6% 148 58 17 72.6 44.6 58.6 58.1
Alan Trammell 13th 33.6% 118 40 20 70.3 44.6 57.5 54.7
Edgar Martinez 5th 35.9% 132 50 18 68.3 43.5 55.9 55.0
Tim Raines 7th 52.2% 90 47 23 69.1 42.2 55.6 53.2
Rafael Palmeiro 4th 8.8% 178 57 20 71.8 38.8 55.3 54.0
Craig Biggio 2nd 68.2% 169 57 20 64.9 41.6 53.3 57.0
Mark McGwire 8th 16.9% 170 42 16 62.0 41.9 52.0 54.0
Mike Piazza 2nd 57.8% 207 62 16 59.2 43.1 51.1 43.1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2013.

Also, be careful to use Cy Young, MVP, or All Star Game votes as your rationale:

How do you know those journalists in the past were correct in their evaluations? That is a big thinking point for people that use award voting as rationale.

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Once you’ve taken the time to do all this, now you’re ready to be a better voter! Do you have other categories that you consider when you create your HOF posts or tweets? Let me know in comments below!

Tags: Featured Hall Of Fame Popular