Peer Pressure and Hall Of Fame Voting

ESPN’s Jayson Stark struggled with his Hall of Fame ballot this year.  You can see why if you look at the official ballot – there are an awful lot of good players on there, so picking only 10 must have been tough to begin with.  And then there’s this dilemma which Stark faced:

I tried ranking them … But the more I considered voting according to any top-10 list I could come up with, the more I felt that many of those votes were going to be “wasted,” on players who couldn’t possibly get elected.

When a friend asked me to share my picks on Facebook, I never thought to include Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens.  Mike Piazza was a tentative addition.  Unlike the Rafeal Palmeiros and Sammy Sosas of the world, there seems to be general consensus that these three would have been Hall of Famers with or without the steroid use they have been accused of.  Stark is right though – voting for Clemens or Bonds is a wasted vote, because there is no prayer that either gets the 75% needed for induction.  

I wonder how that will affect the other candidacies.  Individual voters may not believe the performance-enhancing drug rumors around Piazza and Jeff Bagwell, but do they have confidence other voters are buying them?  With so  many deserving names on the ballot, why cast your lot for someone more likely to hover around 60% when someone like Jack Morris may be just a few votes away from baseball immortality?

For what it’s worth, my ballot would have been Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Craig Biggio, Piazza, Morris, Frank Thomas, Bagwell, Edgar “The Antichrist” Martinez (grudgingly), Don Mattingly, and Alan Trammell.  (I don’t actually have a ballot, so it’s worth nothing.)  Mike Mussina, Moises Alou, and Tim Raines also deserve election, but should have some years of eligibility left.  

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