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The fluid standards of baseball HOF voters

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About half this year’s HOF ballots have been made public, and the top three vote getters are:

David Ortiz: 84%

Barry Bonds: 77%

Roger Clemens: 76%

You need to be named on 75% of the returned ballots to be elected.

The strange thing here is that Ortiz is in his first year of eligibility, and I would have thought some older voters would still be employing the I’ll only vote for Willie Mays on the first ballot rule, although Willie Mays was actually left off of 23 of 432 ballots. Tony Gwynn, Chipper Jones, and LGM’s all-time favorite baseball player Derek Jeter all got a higher percentage of votes than Willie Mays did back in the day.

Anyway.

David Ortiz was very widely rumored to be a steroid user during his career, and the fact that he had the third-best season of his 20-year career at the age of 40 and then suddenly retired didn’t exactly quell those rumors. To be clear I have no idea of course whether those rumors are true, and also too I couldn’t care less about any topic that doesn’t actively involve a Kardashian sister.

What does interest me is that Bonds and Clemens were both approximately 19 parsecs ahead of Ortiz in the great baseball player hierarchy, which is obvious, but as an aging Detroit TIgers fan I would like to point out this less obvious stat:

Career Wins Above Replacement per Baseball Reference:

David Ortiz: 55.3

Lou Whitaker: 75.1

Whitaker didn’t even get 5% of the vote when he became eligible so he fell off the ballot immediately.

A big part of this is that dum dum sportswriters still think that career home run and RBI totals are the most important things about any player who doesn’t do a backflip when taking his defensive position between innings.

It’s still surprising to me that, in an age when advanced stats make it clear that Ortiz is a very marginal HOF candidate at best, he’s going to go in on the first ballot, despite all the steroid stuff, while quite arguably the greatest player and the greatest pitcher of all time are still waiting.

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