For yet another year, there will be no Orioles inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, unless you count the four games played by Tim Raines in 2001. Raines was finally elected in his tenth and last year on the ballot. Longtime Astros great Jeff Bagwell and catching legend Ivan Rodriguez were also elected to the Hall this time around.
Everybody else, including Mike Mussina, the greatest Orioles pitcher of the Camden Yards era and beyond, will have to wait for at least another year. Mussina’s support increased from 43% to 51.8% in his fourth year on the ballot. He is moving among the right direction but more writers need to get their heads out of their butts before he gets elected.
To be elected, a player must be named on 75% of the 442 ballots submitted by 10+ year veterans of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Writers are limited to 10 names, though not by choice: The Hall of Fame has refused to let them select more.
Starting next year, all ballots will be released a week after results are announced. Up until now, writers revealing their ballots has been optional. Whether this will shift the way the votes are cast remains to be seen. There has been a demonstrable effect for several years now where anonymous voters have delayed players getting into the Hall.
The ballot, as many ballots of the past several years have been, is chock full of should-be Hall of Famers, though the writers have only voted to induct three. The induction ceremony will be held on July 30 in Cooperstown.
Two players came up just short of election this year. Longtime Padres closer Trevor Hoffman was named on 74.0% of ballots, missing out by five votes on his second year. Vladimir Guerrero, who finished his career with a season in Baltimore, was named on 71.7% of ballots.
Mussina will be moving along to next year along with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Vladimir Guerrero, Edgar Martinez, and Curt Schilling, any one of whose on-field performance should have been good for instant HOF induction. If you really like closers, you can add Trevor Hoffman and Billy Wagner to that list.
Most of those players who have been on the ballot before had their support increase. Bonds and Clemens, two of the bigger symbols of the “PED era” of baseball, jumped up about as much as Mussina did.
The election of See No Evil baseball commissioner Bud Selig, who looked the other way for nearly a decade as home run totals and hat sizes ballooned, has been credited for writers re-evaluating the candidacies of those two players.
Bonds and Clemens, who last year received 44.3% and 45.2% of the vote, respectively, saw their totals increase to 53.8% and 54.1%.
Martinez also saw a significant increase as dozens of voters finally decided to give him credit for an incredible career even though he was mostly “only” a designated hitter. Martinez jumped from 43.4% up to 58.6%.
Some other ballot holdovers moving on to next year who did not see large increases include Jeff Kent, Fred McGriff, Sammy Sosa, and Larry Walker. First-timer Manny Ramirez received 23.8% and will at least move on to next year’s ballot. Schilling actually saw his support drop among a crowd of journalists who may have taken exception to Schilling’s praise last year of a shirt advocating the lynching of journalists.
Not everyone will carry over to next year. This was the final year for 1994 O’s closer Lee Smith, who received 34.2% in his 15th and final year. Smith was grandfathered in when the Hall of Fame reduced the number of years of eligibility from 15 to 10.
A number of first timers will drop off as well, having failed to receive the minimum 5% support to carry over to next year’s ballot. That includes some former Orioles like Melvin Mora, Arthur Rhodes, and Derrek Lee. None of those three received any votes.
In a year, we’ll line up and do this whole thing again. Newcomers on the 2018 ballot will include probable Hall of Famers Chipper Jones and Jim Thome, as well as some others with solid but likely non-HOF careers, like Scott Rolen, Andruw Jones, Johan Santana, and Johnny Damon.