When the dust settled on Wednesday night and the Hall of Fame voting results were revealed, Mike Mussina was once again left on the outside looking in. That's no surprise, given that his support last year was only at 24.6% when 75% is needed for election. Although Mussina was as high as 56% on publicly-released ballots two days ago, he has ended up being named on only 43% of ballots this time around.
I wrote about Mussina's support on Monday. He had at that point been named on 79 out of 141 publicly released ballots. In the final tally, 440 ballots were cast. That means out of the 299 ballots that either haven't been released or were released since Monday, Mussina was named on only 110 of those. That's about 37%. The late and secret crowd are the ones with the biggest blind spot where Mussina is concerned.
Still, Mussina gained a net of 54 votes compared to last year, and that despite the fact that there were 109 fewer voters this year compared to last year. The Hall of Fame addressed one big problem with the voting process by no longer allowing voters who haven't actively covered baseball in the last decade to vote.
It's clear that in addition to gaining the support of many remaining voters, Mussina will now have to contend with fewer dinosaurs remaining in the voting pool, some of whom may have even been the exact voters who screwed him out of the 2001 AL Cy Young Award despite his being the best pitcher in the league. Though it's disappointing to see Mussina's support so low, it is encouraging to see the big jump in his support. He has seven more years to be elected.
Ken Griffey Jr., always a no-doubter, and Mike Piazza, who should have been a no-doubter, were elected this year. Griffey received support on 99.3% of ballots, which is the highest percentage ever received. He was only not named on three ballots. Those voters have yet to be identified or explain themselves.
In a funny coincidence, Griffey becomes the first ever #1 overall pick in the Hall of Fame, while Piazza at the same time becomes the lowest-drafted player ever elected to the Hall. Piazza was picked in the 62nd round in 1988. There hasn't even been a 62nd round since 1997.
Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines came up just short this time. Bagwell was 15 votes short. Raines was 23 votes short. Longtime Padres closer Trevor Hoffman, whose career WAR total is just about 1/3 of Mussina's, was only 33 votes short of election in his first year on the ballot. All of those guys will be looking pretty good for induction next year as there always seem to be voters who jump on the bandwagon when players get close to making it.
Do the results this year help his case? Unfortunately, since that same late/secret crowd sank the candidacies of Bagwell and Raines, probably not so much. A problem of Mussina's is that he may be seen by many as the 11th-best player on the ballot and there are only 10 spots. Only two players clearing off, with at least two interesting names in Vladimir Guerrero and Ivan Rodriguez joining, doesn't help him much.
There's also Manny Ramirez, his 500+ home runs and the time he tested positive for a women's fertility drug. Another name who jumps out as someone who might get a curious level of support is Jorge Posada.
The good news for Mussina is that none of these guys are pitchers, so he won't be directly compared against them. The bad news is there will still only be 10 spots on everyone's ballot, and not everybody even uses up all 10.
He's not there yet, but he still has time, and he's a lot closer than he was before. That's worth something.