With only a few hours to go before the results of the BBWAA’s 2023 Hall of Fame balloting are announced, the widespread assumption is that the voters will pitch their second shutout in three years and their fifth since voters returned to annual balloting in 1966. Not only is there no slam-dunk candidate with the milestones and squeaky-clean reputation that portends a first-ballot election, or a returning candidate who’s the equivalent of a gimme putt away from 75%, but the highest share of the vote from among the 201 ballots published (just over half of the expected total) shows no candidate receiving more than 80.1%. Given that voters who don’t publish their ballots ahead of the announcements tend to be more conservative when filling them out, at best we’ve got a nail-biter ahead of us for the top two candidates. As of Monday evening, Jason Sardell, the top prognosticator for election results for three years running, forecast only about a 13% chance of a candidate being elected. He hasn’t updated the odds in the 21 hours since, which has added just 18 ballots to the pile, but I believe these will suffice:
Just over 24 hours to go until the Baseball Hall of Fame reveal, and here’s where we are with 183 ballots in @NotMrTibbs‘s tracker. Today has been a bad day for Scott Rolen, but Todd Helton continues to slowly climb. pic.twitter.com/xRpCjZR3BL
— Jason Sardell (@sarsdell) January 23, 2023
If you’re looking for a glimmer of hope for Scott Rolen and Todd Helton, I do have one. Here’s a table showing all of the candidates who have received at least 70% via the pre-announcement ballots since 2014 (“The Tracker Era”):
Pre-Election Published Ballots vs. Final Results Since 2014
|Player||Year||Public Pre||Elected||% of Ballots||Change|
|Ken Griffey Jr.||2016||100.0%||YES||99.3%||-0.7%|
2023 percentages based upon 199 ballots published.
As I noted in my election day preview, of the 14 candidates who received 75% to 85% via ballots published prior to the results, the average differential between those shares and their final results was a drop of 5.6% overall, and 4.4% once you exclude Bonds/Clemens/Schilling, whose baggage created a resistance to their candidacies that doesn’t apply to any of the others here.
While on the one hand just two out of 10 instances in which a candidate received less than 80% resulted in his election that year, the data has been consistent, in that everybody receiving 78.2% or higher has in fact ended up across the finish line. Sardell’s forecasting, which groups voters based upon the number of candidates they include and their electoral stance on PED users, is certainly more sophisticated than this quick-and-dirty table. But as we count down to the announcement, we at least know that there’s something to be said about the possibility of Fred McGriff having company in Cooperstown on July 23.