The 2019 National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees were announced last week. Mariano Rivera, Mike Mussina, Roy Halladay, and Edgar Martinez have each been assigned a permanent residency in Cooperstown. This is an excellent class. All four players are absolutely Hall of Famers. But there were a couple of noteworthy items with this year’s voting. First, Rivera became the first player ever to be unanimously elected. A poor understanding of how initial voting took place lead some voters to actively prevent any unanimous election because “if Babe Ruth didn’t get elected unanimously then…”. It was always a silly standard to uphold but that didn’t stop people from doing it. Well, it seems that the idea of being the person (or couple of people) to not vote for a clearly great player was finally too much. So a relief pitcher becomes the first player to earn the distinction. I suspect one of Rivera’s teammates will be re2pected with the same honour.

Second, Halladay getting elected in his first year surprised me. The “first-ballot Hall of Famer” is, like the unanimous election, a bit of a silly distinction that writers have typically tried to save for only the best of the best; the most obvious cases get elected on the first ballot. Roy Halladay was an incredible pitcher, a deserving Hall of Famer, and one of my favourite players to watch, but he was not one of the best of the best. By Jay Jaffe’s JAWS, Halladay was actually below the level of the average Hall Fame pitcher. And he was not even as good as fellow-2019-starting-pitcher-inductee Mike Mussina, who was taking his last gasps on the ballot. I think Roy’s first-ballot entry had a lot to do with his death last November, which is odd. Maybe his first ballot election was a good thing and should be taken as evidence that these silly distinctions of the Hall are falling by the wayside. But I doubt it. It is more likely that this just fits with the haphazardness that pervades Hall voting.

As I wrote last year, the Hall of Fame has worked hard to make itself a bit of a farce over the last few years. I used to love digging into the ballot and separating those who should be in from those who should not. It seemed like the Hall of Fame also cared about this, but recent behaviour suggests otherwise. Jack Morris and Harold Baines in. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds out. Why? Pitching to the score and game winning RBI, apparently. It is just silly. Omar Vizquel is likely to get in, while Larry Walker is likely to be kept out. Statistics aren’t everything, but the statistical case is not close for that comparison. These things erode the Hall’s standards, but the Hall seems to not care. It is maddening.

Despite my frustration I still fill out a ballot each year for the IBWAA and have not done anything to affect change to the process (e.g., drop the character clause, implement an objective cutoff for automatic entry, give deeper consideration to the historical importance of non-players, greater diligence over chronyism). I recognize that I am part of the problem, but I do still enjoy thinking about this stuff. I suppose I just won’t take it as seriously. In any case, here is the ballot I submitted to the 2019 IBWAA Hall of Fame vote:

  1. Roy Halladay
  2. Todd Helton
  3. Andruw Jones
  4. Manny Ramirez
  5. Mariano Rivera
  6. Scott Rolen
  7. Curt Schilling
  8. Gary Sheffield
  9. Sammy Sosa
  10. Larry Walker

As I note each year, the IBWAA voting process is slightly different than the BBWAA process in two important ways. First, the IBWAA limit is 15 players, five more than the BBWAA. Second, members of the IBWAA may elect players in a year that the BBWAA fails to do so. Therefore the players on the IBWAA and BBWAA ballots will differ. For example, in previous elections, the IBWAA elected Edgar Martinez and Mike Mussina so these players were not on the IBWAA ballot this year. The results of the IBWAA vote can be found here.

Finally, if I had one (which I never will), my BBWAA ballot would have been as follows:

  1. Barry Bonds
  2. Roger Clemens
  3. Edgar Martinez
  4. Mike Mussina
  5. Manny Ramirez
  6. Mariano Rivera
  7. Scott Rolen
  8. Curt Schilling
  9. Sammy Sosa
  10. Larry Walker

Of the players on the ballot I think are Hall-worthy, Roy Halladay, Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, and Gary Sheffield would have been victims of the 10-vote limit.