Craig Biggio received 74.8% of the vote, falling two votes short of the 75.0% required for election. He should make it easily next year, even with another strong incoming class. Biggio and Mike Piazza were the only two ballot holdovers that received more votes this year than last. The other 15 holdovers received fewer votes and some suffered significant declines.
Jack Morris fell from 67.7% to 61.5% in his 15th and final year of the ballot. Rafael Palmeiro dropped from 8.8% to 4.4%, below the 5.0% required to remain on the ballot. Four players recorded double digit percentage declines – Lee Smith (-17.9%), Alan Trammel (-12.8%), Larry Walker (-11.4%) and Edgar Martinez (-10.7%). All will remain on the ballot but their chances for future election by the writers are highly unlikely.
Three players who many analysts believe should be in the Hall suffered surprising declines and will have some catching up to do. Jeff Bagwell fell from 59.6% to 54.3%, Tim Raines from 52.2% to 46.1% and Curt Schilling from 38.8% to 29.2%.
The voters are still largely negative with regards to players associated with Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs). Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds lost ground in their second year on the ballot and vote totals continued to decline for Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Palmeiro.
One encouraging aspect this year was the increase in the average number of votes per ballot. Last year 569 writers voted for an average of 6.6 candidates. This year 571 writers voted for an average of 8.4 candidates. This will have to continue with a ballot that is getting overcrowded. The ballot next year is another strong one with candidates like Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Gary Sheffield joining.
Following is a list of candidates that received votes in the election this year. For the holdovers, vote totals for last year are also shown.
The continued overcrowding of the ballot has prompted some complaints and suggestions for changing the voting procedure. The Hall of Fame is responsible for determining how the voting should be conducted. The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) has been selected as the voting group since the beginning. Writers must be members of the BBWAA for 10 years before they can vote.
One suggestion that is being actively discussed between the writers and the Hall is that writers can be allowed to vote for more than 10 players. Other ideas have been put forth such as expanding the voting population to include internet baseball writers and analysts, trimming the ranks of voters who no longer write actively, reducing the number of years that players remain on the ballot and reducing the time (from 10 years) that writers must wait before they can vote.
None of these changes are expected to be made in the near future. The overcrowding problem may eventually take care of itself if writers continue to vote for eight or more players each year.
Bill Gilbert is a baseball analyst and writer and member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).