Wednesday, January 11, 2023


So why the damn pic of Olivia Wilde,
anyway? Wait for it...
We are now less than two weeks away from the official results for the 2023 Hall of Fame voting, and certain patterns in that vote have again asserted themselves--and, in some cases, with a vengeance.

Our look at the Hall of Merit's "mock vote" earlier produced mixed emotions in us, but having looked at the collective results from the 13 voters from The Athletic, we can say that those "mandarins" who huddle under the semi-bedraggled roof at the Baseball Think Factory were a more balanced bloc of voters than the "semi-embedded scriveners" in the game's dubious virtual world of journalism. 

Of course, the Andruw Jones thang that's going on is a travesty, but it's a manifestation of an even larger issue which we'll tackle as we get closer to the full reveal of the BBWAA results. The Hall of Merit folks had more than twice as many voters in their sample, which benefits them in that they did not exhibit the type of slavish uniformity that we'll see in the votes from the "Athletic 13" bloc. (The BTF mandarins did whiff in varying degrees on Jeff Kent, Bobby Abreu and Andy Pettitte, failing to give them sufficient support to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, even though each of these fine fellows was elected to the Hall of Merit. Yes, Virginia, that tells you--and me and that dog named "Booe!"--that it's much easier to make it into the Hall of Merit than to the Hall of thinks that the opposite really should be the case.)

But we reserve our real scorn for the Thirteen (sidestepping any irrelevant digressions about the talent and character of Olivia Wilde, who will always be the real--yet still somehow fake--Thirteen...) if for no other reason that their votes actually count

And so let's peruse their bloc(k)-y vote. Note that since our disdain has been more than teased to you already, you won't be surprised that we've devised a meta-empirical grading scheme for the Thirteen's voting results. And those results are color-coded for our (and possibly your) amusement...

First, someone in the Thirteen should've taken one for the team and dissented from the lamentable uniformity displayed by the unanimous votes for Todd Helton and Scott Rolen. Yes, these two are close to getting inducted--but it's just bad form to bandwagon. You say it was a secret ballot? Don't be naive...

But in our system, had just one of them dropped out of the Helton-Rolen Express, they'd get a "just about right" designation--which, as you will see, would have salvaged a more respectable showing. Instead, they wind up in our very special (and "inside baseball"-like) category called "contextually overrated." That will cost you points, gents: -1 point for each

And, of course, there's Andruw. One voter did come to his senses here and jumped off the "Fondue train," but it won't salvage the group as a whole, whose 92% figure for a man who deserves maybe half that much support is going to cost them bigly (sorry!). "Massively overrated" is the worst faux pas possible in this endeavor, garnering a penalty of -5 points for every such infraction. (Overrating is much worse than underrating, as most of us know when we're really forced to look at ourselves in the mirror.)

The bloc was also too high on Carlos Beltran, who will likely come in just under 50% when the final tally is in. Beltran belongs in the Hall, but his support needs to grow: he's not a first-ballot inductee. Just a couple of votes difference in a bloc of this type would save them from being docked -2 points for the secondary offense of a voting result that falls into the "somewhat overrated" category.

Since we apparently trying to light Frankie
on fire (see below...), we thought we'd 
let Billy Wagner handle it for us...

Good news (at last). The bloc got into the sweet zone with Gary Sheffield and Billy Wagner. We give out +5 points for each instance of getting it "just about right." (Full disclosure: we ran out of baby bears a few years ago, and porridge the year after that.) So if you're keeping score at home, you'll know that the running score for the Thirteen at this point is 10 + (-5) + (-2)  + (-2) = 1. Will they be able to keep their VAR (Votes Above Replacement) in positive territory?

We must be joking, right? To quote a person we hope we never see on a cable news show again: "you betcha." The bloc(k) falls apart faster than what's going to happen in the House of Representatives by coming in below the proper vote percentages for Abreu, Pettitte, third-timer Mark Buehrle, and first-timer Francisco Rodriguez. For context, we figure Abreu "should" be at close to 50% at this point in his tenure on the ballot: one more vote would have given them another "just about right," (henceforth abbreviated JAR...) but--them's the breaks. Pettitte should be around 40% so that he might get close enough in his second five years on the HOF ballot to squeak over the line in year ten: the bloc(k) missed that, too. Buehrle should stay on the ballot: as with Abreu, one vote from these clowns would've gotten the into "JAR land," but no...

Frankie Rodriguez is a special case here, since relievers are a dicey proposition with respect to the Hall. The brilliant but erratic F-Rod doesn't have anything like the credentials of Wagner, but he still deserves about 15-20% of the vote in his first time out to get a chance to stay on the ballot and have a very long-shot chance of catching fire if the wind shifts. (Hmm, that's a very strange way of putting it...even for us!) But that's not happening, and the bloc didn't show any signs of grasping the concept--so that's another -2 points for youse bums.

But it gets worse. There's still the "tragically underrated" category, with its -3 point penalty. The bloc(kheads) go up in flames themselves with simply catastrophic undervotes for Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez, two first-ballot Hall of Famers who are part of baseball's Great Scapegoating fiasco. Just how much of this mentality has sunk into the "new breed" of scrivener is fully on display here. (A pox on you grope-thunkers!)

Worst of all, though, is a result that you might not initially see as an underperformance--we're talking about our old pal Jeff Kent. Yes, 54% seems not so bad, and it's higher than his '22 percentage. But that '22 percentage was criminally low, and where the tragedy tire explodes all of us across the highway is in the fact that this is Jeff's tenth and last time on the ballot. (And Kent is the last guy who came on the ballot when the rules said he had fifteen years to make it.) The bloc(k) should have been cognizant of that, and Kent's percent should have matched that of Sheffield and Wagner. So that's another -3 for our Thirteen. (And it should be more, but despite having to write about this, we're in a pretty good we won't pile on.)

As you can see, going easy on that last beyond-lamentable, brain-dead faux pas won't save these clowns from falling well below the VAR "replacement level" line. They had several chances to save themselves, but they were too bloc(k)-y for their own good (and they weren't helped by having Keith Law amongst them: few folks can get on the wrong side of this kind of stuff more consistently than ol' Keith, a dyed-in-the-Worsted-wool elitist who believes in a "small Hall" and has conveniently overlooked the fact that the barn door has been long since kicked wide open on that score...yes, you're really a wonder, Keithy boy, and not in a way that's even remotely good).

So the final tally is in--accompanied by a resounding thunderclap of flatulence. Thus the Thirteen rode through the valley of Death....and right on over Wile E. Coyote's backup cliff. They blew past their numerical mirror image and didn't look back. (We can hardly wait to see Phangraf's Crowdsource results, which should be out soon and good for some bitter guffaws, before the BBWAA official tally most likely leaves everyone on the outside looking in.) More to come...stay tuned.