Hall of Fame voting winners: David Ortiz, the Hall of Fame Voting Awards winner

Sona Balakhchyan
The ballots have been counted and tabulated, and the Baseball Hall of Fame now has a new class of 1. Boston Red Sox Legend David Ortiz was elected with 77.9%.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens failed to meet the 75% threshold in their last year of eligibility.

What does this mean to the Hall of Fame? It’s all here for Bradford Doolittle (Boston Doolittle), Alden Gonzalez (Tim Keown), and Buster Olney (Buster Olney).

What do YOU think of David Ortiz’s first year in the Hall of Fame?

Doolittle – I’d probably vote for Ortiz. His 541 homers, while not an automatic ticket for 500+, are a solid avatar for the length of his success. His career WAR is low because he lacks positional value. However, that’s an abstract and brief thing, so I wouldn’t mind making that argument to Ortiz (or anyone) in person. His job was to create runs and not positional value. 34 players have devised more. All 34 of them are in or will be in the Hall of Fame, or would be if they weren’t for other factors. For nearly 50 years, designated hitters have had a job in baseball. Big Papa did it better than anyone. This is even before you look at his postseason record. He is the all-time leader for postseason win probability. He has a Hall of Fame resume. Enough voters accepted and admitted him. Many of them love Ortiz, and that was highly helpful as well. 

Gonzalez – Ortiz’s initial entry is an excellent example of how, even in an era saturated by numbers – the eye test, as well as common sense, may have to be considered in these evaluations. Ortiz’s career WAR was just one as a DH. There were 243 other players in history, including 65 retired eligible players not yet in the Hall of Fame. Ortiz still felt like a Hall of Famer. Ortiz was the “That Guy” in his era. He understood what it meant to have such a successful franchise. The 541 home runs combined with the.931 OPS score and the 1,832 runs made make it clear Ortiz was a Hall of Famer, even if it is a bit muddled by the positive results from the anonymous survey testing which took place 19 years ago. It should be that simple for the other candidates. It doesn’t need congeniality.

Keown – Although David Ortiz’s career was unaffected by doubts and was in the Hall of Fame, this vote shows that people still believe in the power of personality. Ortiz’s ability to be friendly and his post-retirement broadcasting work helped pave the way to a first-ballot election. His connection to PEDs, and the general stinginess among the current voters, made it safer to assume that he would need to wait at least one year before gaining election.

Olney – He deserves it as one of the most outstanding postseason performers ever and as one of his most dominating hitters. However, the logic pretzels that some writers used to justify voting Ortiz even though they were not voting in favor of others with reported links to PEDs were quite amusing. Ortiz ought to have been a first-ballot slam dunk entrant into Hall. However, his popularity, as well as his likability, made a difference.

What is the largest winner in this year’s vote results other than Ortiz

Doolittle: Scott Rolen has provided enough support for him to look like a sure-fire candidate. He’d be my top choice for anyone below the threshold, right ahead of Todd Helton or Andrews Jones.

Gonzalez: I would lump Scott Rolen and Todd Helton together because they could technically get in, and should, next year. Curt Schilling, Curt Clemens, and Sammy Sosa are all off the ballot. Rolen (10th in third basemen’s career WAR), Helton (2.519 hits, a.316 career average), and Jones (10 Gold Gloves and 434 home runs, respectively) have at least five years left on the ballot. They have made enough steady progress that one can believe they will get in eventually.

Keown: Any player in the 60% range who is still eligible — Todd Helton or Scott Rolen, mostly — will feel a boost this year from players who have dropped off the ballot. The highest vote-getter on the ballot have seen their careers reexamined almost every year. This includes Jack Morris and Mike Mussina. Rolen Helton and Roger Clemens are not in the top three spots on most ballots.

In his fifth year of eligibility, Olney – Scott Rolen made a significant leap in his voting percentage. He will win the election one day.

Which voter is the biggest loser in this year’s election results?

Doolittle: Gotta Be Schilling. Given the context, it was terrific and predictable to see a 71% drop in your next-to-last year’s ballot.

Gonzalez:  Omar Vizquel went from 49.1% last year – his fourth time on this ballot – to 23.9%. After several votes had been completed, Vizquel’s ex-wife made allegations to The Athletic that Vizquel had physically abused her. Vizquel vehemently denied these claims. Eight months later, Vizquel was accused of sexual harassment of a batboy during his management of the Chicago White Sox’s Double-A affiliate. The White Sox decided to end their relationship with Vizquel. It’s not about hateful comments or exaggerated statistics. His case involves disturbing off-the-field behavior. Before this became public, he was considered a borderline Hall of Famer. Now it is clear that the BBWAA won’t glorify his name.

Keown: Alex Rodriguez is unsurprisingly primed to assume the role left vacant by Bonds and Clemens. He will be the man with the most historic career, who sees his vote totals increase year after year as more and more people enter the process. But, in the end, due to the precedent set out by Bonds and Clemens, he will again be a victim of his stupidity. Rodriguez would have been voted the most outstanding winner if either one had made it through this year’s voting.

Olney:  Clemens and Bonds will eventually be inducted through a special committee vote. This is the case because, over time, the general outlook of many living Hall of Famer has changed due to the deaths of some of their former players and the evolution of that body. Both could be honored together, and their speeches should be watched. Curt Schilling will, in some way, also be inducted. His achievements during his career are worthy of election.

What does the Hall of Fame voting process look like now that one player has been voted in, a year after everyone else?

Doolittle: It has to evolve. It still feels like we need more votes – writers and broadcasters, historians, analysts, etc. We need more perspectives. Derrick Goold from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also supports the idea. He proposes that each player be counted yes/no. If a player can get 75% of the yes vote, he will be in. The latter would help prevent future backlogs. If voters believe there are more Hall-worthy candidates, they will need to find a way to use their ten slots.

Gonzalez: It is clear that the BBWAA has become a twisted mess trying to gauge morality on a subject it doesn’t fully understand. Many have pointed out that PED users may be in the Hall of Fame. This point is valid. The flawed process of figuring out who was using what and how it affected their careers in an era that did not correctly handle the issue has resulted in a slew of inconsistencies. The circumstances of each generation should dictate how players are judged. The BBWAA as a whole has not done so.

Keown: is unsurprisingly primed to assume the role left vacant by Bonds and Clemens. He will be the man with the most historic career, who sees his vote totals increase year after year as more and more people enter the process. But, in the end, due to the precedent set out by Bonds and Clemens, he will again be a victim of his stupidity. Rodriguez would have been voted the most outstanding winner if either one had made it through this year’s voting.

Olney: The writers chose not to vote for Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens in the Hall. As the steroid era becomes more complex, it will be years before we can see how the selective rejection of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, two of the greatest players of all time, is absurd and unfair justice.

Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds are now out of the running. Are you optimistic that they will be admitted to the Hall of Fame’s Today’s Game Committee? If so, when do you think it will happen?

Doolittle: Yes, eventually. Bonds and Clemens may not be able to witness it, however. However, time will change the way future committee members view the mitigating factors. It will be absurd to suggest that Cooperstown should not have players with such numbers. Also, I firmly believe that the future way PEDs are viewed will be different than the current. It’s challenging to know Schilling’s relationship with ex-players and other players who make up the majority of these committees. I assume that this relationship is more favorable than the media.

Gonzalez:  Brad. I think you are almost right about the last point. Today’s Game committee consists of 16 members, including executives, historians, and Hall of Fame inmates. It meets twice every five years. The next meeting will be in December 2022, and after that, in December 2024. Bonds, Clemens, and Schilling are technically eligible for consideration in perpetuity. Their chances of being elected would depend on the number of votes cast in any given year. However, BBWAA members have been stricter with PED users than former players. Also, Bonds and Clemens are unlikely to be allowed in any time soon.

Keown: The Yesterday Game committee has traditionally taken up the cause of players whose contributions are more significant than their statistics. To offset any statistical shortfalls, it tends to place more importance on clubhouse presence and perceived clutch performances. All of this will change with the PED era. Committee members will see beyond the intangibles to judge players on their merits. It will be a bittersweet moment for all three, though.

Olney:  It is clear that Bonds, and Clemens, will induct themselves through the vote of an independent committee. This is because the perspective of many of the Hall of Fame members has changed over time as former players die and the body evolves. Their speeches are worth watching. Curt Schilling will also be inducted one day. His career performance merits his election.

What does one player voting in the Hall of Fame in a year when everyone else did not get in say about the current status of the Hall of Fame voting system?

Doolittle:  It must evolve. We still need more voters, writers, broadcasters, historians, and analysts. There are more perspectives. The idea of Derrick Goold, St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s editor, to count each player on the ballot as a yes/no vote is also something I support. If a player receives 75% in the yes category, they are in. It would also prevent any future backlogs. Voters will have to figure out how to use their ten slots if there are more than 10 Hall-worthy contenders.

Gonzalez: The BBWAA is trying to determine morality in a topic it cannot fully understand. Many people have suggested that the Hall of Fame may contain PED users. This is an entirely valid point. It is difficult to determine who did what and how that affected their careers during an era where the sport didn’t correctly address the issue. This flawed process has led to a lot of inconsistencies. It is essential to judge players according to the context of their time. The BBWAA has not done this.

Keown: It is arbitrary and does not always make sense, even when right. Although this year’s ballot included Hall of Fame careers, most of them were created during the peak of the PED era. The Hall of Fame will not recognize or induct a significant portion of this era. I contend that PED stain or not, players should only be considered eligible for the ballot based on their performance on the field. The writers need to stop being the morality police of baseball — and please stop participating in the cap-size/muscle Mass guessing game — and let it deal with its past. There may be steroid users who have avoided detection and speculation and gained entry into the Hall. The idea that an entire era of steroids can be policed retroactively or speculatively doesn’t seem sustainable.

Olney:  This shows the continuing confusion among writers about how to deal with steroid-era candidate candidates. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Manny Ramirez may be off the ballot next time, but Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, and other PED-related candidates will stay for years. And year after year, the writers will define the theoretical morality in the Hall and not simply report on it. It isn’t a place journalists want to be.

Which player’s vote total surprised you most?

Doolittle: That’s where Joe Nathan didn’t get much support. I have written extensively about how worthy I think Billy Wagner is as a candidate. I believe that if we plan to place relievers in the Hall of Fame (we have, and we do), then I don’t see why he shouldn’t be considered a reliable reliever. Wagner is in his seventh year on this ballot, so I am focusing on him. Nathan was there in his first year, so it is reasonable to assume that Nathan will have plenty of time to argue his case. Nathan is the subject of most arguments. I feel like voters just overlooked Nathan completely.

Gonzalez: Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod can be used to counter the claim that the BBWAA has softened its stance against PED users. They received 37.6% support and 36.2% support when Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens first appeared on the ballot in 2013. Rodriguez (34.3%) was even less supported nine years later, though his career stats were nearly comical.

Kenny: Let us go with Curt Schilling & Jeff Kent. I expected his votes to drop when Schilling announced that he would not be considered. However, he still won a large number of votes. Kent is a rare case. While I did not think Kent was a Hall of Fame player during his career, I saw him play. However, his achievements — including the most homers of any player at his position and an MVP, almost 2,500 hits — are the ones that typically draw more than 30 percent of the votes. The difference between Scott Rolen’s vote totals and Kent’s seems enormous compared to their respective careers.

Olney: Sammy Sosa has received a low number of votes. While it’s important not to be ignorant of what took place during the steroid age and how many players were involved, it is fascinating that the writers gave Sosa a different standard than other players who were already inducted.

Based on last year’s results, do any of you believe anyone will be on next year’s ballot?

Doolittle:  Scott Rolen takes a great shot. We’ll wait and see. Analysts will examine Andruw and Todd Jones closely in the weeks leading up to the vote. It will be fascinating to see how much penalty Carlos Beltran has to pay in the 2017 Astros season.

Gonzalez: Carlos Beltran may have a shot, but it is now that we will replace the use of steroids with the prevalence of sign theft. Yaaay. Interestingly, Andruw, Todd Helton, and Scott Rolen don’t have the baggage I mentioned. This makes me wonder if they will all be admitted next year. It is unlikely that three non-first-timers were elected into the Hall by the BBWAA at the same time since 1984.

Keown: The Rolen train seems to be moving steadily over the past few decades, and it is reasonable to assume it will arrive at its destination next year. It feels like Helton and Andruw, possibly the best player, are on the same path, but he’ll need to wait at least another year for momentum to increase to 75%.

Olney Scott Rolen & Andruw James — who have the strong support of the analytics industry — could be giving speeches in Cooperstown next spring.

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