The newest members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame will be announced Wednesday, January 18 at 6 p.m. According to an online ballot tracker by Ryan Thibodaux, 226 ballots (seven anonymously) have been released to the public. It’s estimated that 435 ballots will be submitted this year, which means there are still more than 200 writers whose votes we’ll never see.
Beginning in 2018, however, all ballots submitted will be made. During the Winter Meetings last December, the BBWAA voted, 80-9, in favor of releasing all Hall of Fame ballots. Voting for the Class of 2017 was already underway, so the rule will take effect during the next election.
The ballots that have been released to the public so far have been done in a voluntary manner. In the future, writers will still be allowed to publish their ballots early at their own discretion, but all votes will be publicly released seven days following the announcement of the inductees.
The most recent Hall of Fame class included Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mike Piazza. Griffey received 99.3 percent of the votes, setting the record. Griffey, who hit 630 career home runs and is often acclaimed to be the greatest player of his generation, was not included on three of the 440 ballots.
Following the announcement, Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch tweeted, “If you are a MLB HOF voter who does not vote for Ken Griffey today, I think you owe it to your readers to be transparent with the vote and why.”
Well, now we’ll know exactly who is leaving the likes of The Kid off their ballot. Fans have been waiting to see who will be the first unanimously voted inductee to the Hall of Fame for a long time. Griffey’s record of 99.3 percent obviously implies that no player has ever received 100 percent of the votes. Not Babe Ruth (95.13), not Mickey Mantle (88.22), not Ted Williams (93.38), not Willie Mays (94.68), not Hank Aaron (97.83), not Sandy Koufax (86.87), no one.
With the new rule, it’s likely we see the first unanimous vote within the next few years. In 2018, we’ll see Chipper Jones and Jim Thome added to the ballot. Jones finished with a career 85 WAR, .303 batting average and 468 home runs. Thome hit 612 home runs in heart of the steroid era, but perceived to be squeaky clean.
If neither of those guys can get the job done, the 2019 ballot will include Mariano Rivera, Todd Helton and Roy Halladay among others. Forget Helton and Halladay for a second, who’s not voting for Mariano?
Let’s really play Devil’s Advocate here and say that there’s someone out there who stubbornly and firmly underestimates relievers and leaves Mariano off the ballot. The 2020 ballot includes Derek Jeter.
The moral of the story is that it’s almost guaranteed that we’ll see somebody unanimously inducted into the Hall of Fame within the near future. After the backlash those three anonymous writers received for not voting Griffey, it would take some serious guts to put your name on top of a public ballot that doesn’t include Derek Jeter.