So last week, The Common Man and I took on the daunting and ultimately pretty silly task of predicting how the next 25 years of BBWAA Hall of Fame voting would go. The five-part set of summaries is right here (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), and now, you can see all the results together in an ugly little spreadsheet here.
I picked 52 inductees, and TCM picked 51. Forty names appear on both of our lists, which you could look at a few different ways — either 77.7% of the total names matched (80/103), or 63.5% of the players picked were picked by both of us (40/63). The second way is probably more meaningful, but either way, it seems to me like quite a lot of agreement for something this wide open. On the chart linked above, the players who were picked by only one of us are highlighted in red.
On the other hand, there are 18 players (28.6% of the total players or 35% of all our picks) who we not only both picked, but both picked to go in in the same year. These come primarily in the first several years, as you might guess — Biggio, Maddux, and Griffey are the easy ones — but there were some pretty random agreements down the road, too. Most notably, we both have Mauer and Sabathia going in in 2026 somehow, and we both picked Buster Posey for 2032 and Jason Heyward for ’35. All those perfect matches are highlighted in yellow.
Here’s a look at some of the key players we disagreed on, followed by some players we skipped completely:
I’m biased, of course, but the biggest surprise split decision to me was Ivan Rodriguez. I picked him to go in in 2023, very likely to be his sixth or seventh ballot, and worried that that was too late for the guy who has been considered a top two or three all-time catcher and a sure-fire Hall of Famer for eleven or twelve seasons now. So imagine my surprise when TCM just didn’t pick him at all! Now, true, he’s a suspected steroid user in some circles, most notably having been named by Jose Canseco in Juiced (or so I’m told), but I don’t get the sense that anyone is so sure about it that they’re willing to hang him for it, and his topping out at 35 home runs should help. Unless something much more substantial comes out about him, I can’t imagine them letting him go more than a few years on the ballot.
On the other hand, I skipped a very likely inductee in Omar Vizquel. It might just be wishful thinking on my part, since I just don’t think he’s worthy. But while I have to assume he’s going in sometime, with the 2800 hits and eleven Gold Glove Awards and all, I looked through and couldn’t find a year in which I didn’t see two more likely and/or deserving candidates.
I picked two Tigers, one who I think might (but probably won’t and definitely shouldn’t) make it, and one who I really hope makes it, probably in vain. TCM didn’t see either Alan Trammell or Jack Morris making it, and I can’t blame him.
We both picked our share of players whose numbers are probably just barely on the “worthy” side of borderline, but whose induction is very much in doubt: TCM had Todd Helton and Jeff Kent, while I had Curt Schilling, Edgar Martinez, John Smoltz and Gary Sheffield. I see Smoltz and Schilling as much more likely than Helton and Kent, but again, of course, I’m biased.
Most of the rest of the differences seem to be TCM favoring pitchers (Price, Hanson, Kershaw) and me favoring hitters (Bruce, Utley, Braun). And then, of course, there’s the Wieters-McCann thing. Ugh.
Here, in no real order, are the players who jump out to me as the most deserving and/or surprising players who neither TCM nor I picked to go in before ’36:
Larry Walker. Among players to have debuted after 1984 (picked somewhat randomly to capture almost all the players we’re dealing with), Walker ranks 14th in WAR, and 12 of the first 13 were all named by both of us (I-Rod would be the other, sitting at 12). He is, and I’m afraid is doomed to remain, a terribly underrated player because of confusion about the Coors effect. Overrated in ’97, underrated otherwise.
Scott Rolen. Certainly deserving, and I’d definitely vote for him if he retired today; the Hall certainly needs more third basemen, and it seems unlikely at this point that David Wright ends up with a better career than Rolen’s. But Rolen has just never been seen as the kind of superstar he probably should have been — in his best year (2004), he was arguably the third best player on his own team, behind Pujols and Edmonds. I think he has to wait for the Veterans’ Committee, sadly.
Rafael Palmeiro. No real mystery here.
Kenny Lofton. I had Lofton in an early draft of my list, but then decided I was relying too much on what I want to happen and not nearly enough on what I thought would happen. Lofton, like Rolen, just doesn’t “feel” like a Hall of Fame player. I think he was, but it doesn’t feel that way.
Mark McGwire. As TCM and I both said in one of the comment threads, the timing is just off for McGwire. I think people will return to sanity on the whole steroid thing, but not in time for Mac.
Andruw Jones. The most current defensive metrics suggest that he’s been pretty close to MVP-candidate level six times, thanks mostly to his phenomenal defense in center field. Even if that’s true, though, his short career makes him pretty borderline, a la Dale Murphy (better, but not that much better). He’s going to have to have a huge comeback at age 34 to have much of a chance, and the Yankees aren’t the best team for that.
Mike Mussina. Another player who made my early lists. I think he gets in at some point during his time on the ballot, but, as with Vizquel, I couldn’t find a place to put him given our parameters.
Johan Santana. I probably would have put him on this list a year or so ago, but his recent injury history has to be worrisome for a pitcher in his early thirties.
Ryan Howard. He’ll be 57 in ’36 and probably not quite at the end of his 15-year run…but he’ll be close. He got started very late and doesn’t figure to last terribly long, but he could get into Ralph Kiner territory if he can come back and have a few more huge seasons.
Adam Dunn. Dunn is just ten days older than Howard and has more than a hundred more homers, and it would be kind of hard for him not to reach at least 500 (especially now that he’s in an especially friendly hitters’ park). On the other hand, he’s made one All-Star team — that nearly a decade ago — and has never even finished in the top 20 in MVP voting, so it’s very hard to say how he’s going to be viewed fifteen or twenty years from now.
Adrian Beltre. Probably destined to be another in the long line of underappreciated third basemen, unfairly labeled as something of a one- or two-year wonder (unless he has a few more like 2010 in him). Worth noting, though: he started young enough that he’s likely to eclipse 2000 hits this season, at just 32.
Prince Fielder. He’s certainly off to a good start, but he just looks a bit too much like Mo Vaughn (or, you know, Cecil) to me.
Zack Greinke. He’s just 27 and already has a Cy Young Award (and in an especially dominant season), but then, he also has a 17-loss season and a sub-.500 overall record. We can hope that won’t mean anything when his name comes up, but no matter how you look at it, he’s got a very long way to go.
Robinson Cano. He’s 28 and has already had four really, really good seasons (you might say one great one, in 2010). And at his current pace, he’d eclipse 3000 hits sometime in his age-38 season. You can certainly argue that we missed one here, and that Cano has a much better shot than some of the guys listed toward the end of both of our lists.
That’s all the plausible guys I can find who we omitted, but feel free to let me know if you can think of others. All in all, given how ridiculous this whole idea is (and Wieters over McCann aside), I think it’s all pretty reasonable. But again, feel free to disagree.