The results of the Baseball Hall of Fame voting for the summer of 2018 are in and it's going to be another packed induction day at Cooperstown, with four new players elected to the Hall by the writers this year. The inductees include two former short-time Orioles, Vladimir Guerrero and Jim Thome. The greatest Orioles pitcher of my lifetime, Mike Mussina, will have to wait until at least next year.
Along with Guerrero and Thome, the two other players to be elected after being named on at least 75% of the 422 voters' ballots are career-long Braves great Chipper Jones and Padres save compiler Trevor Hoffman.
Jones led the way, named on 97.2% of ballots, followed by Guerrero at 92.9% and Thome at 89.8%. Jones and Thome were both elected in their first year of eligibility. Guerrero and Hoffman were both narrow misses last year. Guerrero gained big support, while Hoffman gained the few votes he needed to make it in.
Mariners hitting legend Edgar Martinez came up just short, gaining significantly but only being named on 70.4% of ballots. Mussina was next-closest to induction after Martinez, also making a big gain up to 63.5%.
It's a positive sign for Mussina's eventual induction to the Hall, since he increased his percentage up from receiving 51.8% of the vote last year. If he gains as many votes next year as he did this year, he'll be narrowly elected. In raw vote terms, Mussina came 49 votes short of the 317 needed for election this year.
This year marks the fifth of a maximum ten years that Mussina could be on the ballot, so he has time to keep a steady climb going. That's less true for Martinez, who will be heading into his final year of eligibility next year. However, everyone who has ever gotten at least 70% of the vote in any year has eventually made it into the Hall.
An easy way to see Mussina's gains over the last several years can be found in this graphic made by Ryan Thibodaux, who maintains the unofficial BBHOF Tracker:
Year over year tracking through 240 ballots for Mike Mussina. pic.twitter.com/WlIRFD34dc— Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrTibbs) January 24, 2018
If you're wondering how Mussina dropped to his final percentage of 63.5% despite being above 65% at every update here, that's because he has once again proven to be named at significantly lower rates by those voters who choose not to be accountable with their ballots. The why of this is a subject for some debate, but it's a trend that's held true over multiple years now.
Still, it's an impressive climb from the 20.3% he received in 2014, his first year of eligibility. One encouraging trend for Mussina is that he's had election-level support among first-time voters - those who hit their 10th year in the Baseball Writers Association of America - for three years now.
According to the Thibodaux Tracker, Mussina has collected 30 votes out of 36 writers who've joined the electorate since 2016. The under-45 crowd recognizes Mussina's greatness. There are more of them, as a percentage, every year. But Mussina gained with returning voters, too, with the Tracker recording a net +25 among the returning voters who made their ballots public prior to the results being announced.
Since the voters elected no one in 2013, there have now been sixteen players elected by the writers. That includes another four-player year in 2015 to go along with the four-player Halll of Fame class of 2018.
Players like Martinez and Mussina with Hall of Fame-caliber careers still linger - to say nothing of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens - but the voters are starting to get down to business and elect some of the best players who have been left out until now. Hopefully, they continue to vote in such a way that they get those great players into the Hall.
Joining the ballot next year is only one automatic Hall of Famer: Mariano Rivera. Some other newcomers, including Roy Halladay and Andy Pettitte, may have their advocates. Maybe 2019 will be Mussina's year.