Analyzing the 2013 Hall of Fame Vote

Houston's Craig Biggio came the closest in a year with no Baseball Hall of Fame inductees.

For the first time since 1996, the Baseball Writers Association of America did not elect any players to the Hall of Fame. Craig Biggio, in his first year on the ballot, led the way with 68.2% of the vote. This is higher than Barry Larkin and Ryne Sandberg received in their first year on the ballot. He should easily get elected in the future, possibly next year.

Jack Morris finished second with 67.7%, but picked up only 3 votes more than last year in his next to last year on the ballot. Jeff Bagwell (59.6%) and newcomer, Mike Piazza (57.8%) finished third and fourth and Tim Raines, in his sixth year on the ballot, finally reached the 50% mark with 52.2%.

The voting this year was of particular interest because of the initial appearance on the ballot of two of the greatest players of their generation, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Both are obviously first ballot Hall-of-Famers but are tainted by their association with steroids. Clemens received 37.6% of the votes and Bonds received 36.2%. Both figures are lower than expected and suggest that neither will be elected anytime soon, if ever.

With the exceptionally strong incoming class this year, most of the 12 holdover candidates lost ground. The only significant gainers were Dale Murphy, Bagwell and Raines. It was the 15th and final year on the ballot for Murphy but he was far short with 18.6% of the vote.

Six newcomers received enough votes to remain on the ballot, Biggio, Bagwell, Clemens, Bonds, Curt Schilling (38.8%) and Sammy Sosa (12.5%). Bernie Williams, the only newcomer last year to receive enough votes to remain on the ballot, did not make it this year with 3.3%.

Yrs on 2012 2012 2013 2013 Diff.
Ballot Votes % Votes % Votes %
Craig Biggio 1 388 68.2
Jack Morris 14 382 66.7 385 67.7 3 1.0
Jeff Bagwell 3 321 56.0 339 59.6 18 3.6
Mike Piazza 1 329 57.8
Tim Raines 6 279 48.7 297 52.2 18 3.5
Lee Smith 11 290 50.6 272 47.8 -18 -2.8
Curt Schilling 1 221 38.8
Roger Clemens 1 214 37.6
Barry Bonds 1 206 36.2
Edgar Martinez 4 209 36.5 204 35.9 -5 -0.6
Alan Trammell 12 211 36.8 191 33.6 -20 -3.2
Larry Walker 3 131 22.9 123 21.6 -8 -1.3
Fred McGriff 4 137 23.9 118 20.7 -19 -3.2
Dale Murphy 15 83 14.5 106 18.6 23 4.1
Mark McGwire 7 112 19.5 96 16.9 -16 -2.1
Don Mattingly 13 102 17.8 75 13.2 -27 -5.6
Sammy Sosa 1 71 12.5
Rafael Palmeiro 3 72 12.6 50 8.8 -22 -3.8
Bernie Williams 2 55 9.6 19 3.3 -36 -6.3
Kenny Lofton 1 18 3.2
Sandy Alomar Jr. 1 16 2.8
Julio Franco 1 6 1.1
David Wells 1 5 0.9
Steve Finley 1 4 0.7
Shawn Green 1 2 0.4
Aaron Sele 1 1 0.2

The following players were on the ballot but did not receive any votes: Ryan Klesko, Reggie Sanders, Jeff Conine, Jeff Cirillo, Rondell White, Royce Clayton, Roberto Hernandez, Jose Mesa, Todd Walker, Woody Williams and Mike Stanton. 569 writers participated in the voting this year, down from 573 in 2012. Participants voted for an average of 6.6 players in 2013, up from 5.1 last year.

The newcomers this year received mixed results. Biggio had a strong showing but his total votes were likely suppressed by voters who did not consider him to be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. Piazza's showing suggests that he is similar to Bagwell, being held back by a suspicion (without evidence) of steroid use. Both should eventually be elected. Schilling's total was not surprising and should increase with time.

Clemens and Bonds both have HOF credentials but were obviously hurt by their association with steroids. Some of their poor showing might be attributable to writers that didn't feel they deserved election on the first ballot. Their totals should increase next year. Sosa's very poor showing suggests that he will never make it.

The remaining holdover candidates do not have enough support to be serious candidates for election in the next few years. Fred McGriff suffers from a comparison with other outstanding first basemen. Larry Walker put up great numbers but some voters discount his performance because of the Coors Field effect. Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro continue to slip. Don Mattingly had a very high peak but his career was not long enough to put up numbers that would gain support from enough voters. Lee Smith, Edgar Martinez and Alan Trammell all took a step back in 2013 and are not likely to fare well with another strong set of newcomers next year (Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Mike Mussina, Frank Thomas and Jeff Kent).

The other 18 members of the incoming class did not come close to the 5.0% required to remain on the ballot.

Bill Gilbert is a baseball analyst and writer and member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).