Well, the lockout sure sucks. I would love to talk about the upcoming season, to watch people overanalyze someone’s spring performance, and to get excited for all the possibilities that spring training brings to our imaginations for the regular season. But that will be delayed for a little longer, possibly much longer. And because of this, we have gotten to pretend to have a Hall of Fame vote. And seen how a more modern and Cardinals-focused blog would vote on the Hall of Fame.
We have already voted on 130 potential Hall of Famers through the first cycle of which only 22 players got voted into the VEB Hall of Fame. In the second cycle of voting, 98 MLB players have been put on the ballot and we have decided how many of them are worthy of the Hall of Fame. Despite one less ballot, we elected 25 players this time.
On the first cycle of ballots, nobody got 100% of the votes. I do not know why and it doesn’t matter, because ultimately the only number than matters is 75% or greater. But on each ballot this time, one player got 100%. Babe Ruth, oddly enough, was not one of them. Ruth, on the most recent ballot, received 98.4% of the vote. No the three players with 100% of the vote are Lou Gehrig, Hank Aaron, and uh Ernie Banks. One of these things is not like the other. I guess being a Cubs legend makes him as familiar as any Cards legend and yet, Bob Gibson did not get 100% of the vote either, neither did Rogers Hornsby, both of whom got 98.6%. Weird right?
A couple other players got an amount of votes that is not 100%, but might as well be. Both Willie Mays and Cal Ripken Jr received 97.2% of the votes, while Joe DiMaggio was oh so very close with 98.6% of the vote on the first ballot. On the sixth ballot overall and second in this cycle, Chipper Jones received 97.2%. And on the most recent ballot, Grover Cleveland Alexander received 98.4% while Ivan Rodriguez received 96.7% of the vote. In addition to the names in the above paragraph, this constitutes everyone who received over 95%.
This cycle produced what I would call a heavy dose of Cardinals bias. Cardinals players undoubtedly got a boost of votes from the first cycle as well, but in terms of results, only Mark McGwire got elected to the Hall when he wouldn’t have if he weren’t a Cardinal, at least on this site. This cycle had a few more beneficiaries. I’m just saying purely based on how this site has voted so far, there are four - FOUR! - past Cardinals who I am reasonably confident would fall short if they weren’t Cardinals.
On the sixth ballot, VEB voted in Ted Simmons and while it’s not a perfect comparison, on the very next ballot, a pretty similar candidate in Mickey Cochrane (72.1%) fell short. And by similar I mean low on the career WAR, but pretty much has the peak. I can confidently say with near 100% certainty that Lou Brock would not have made it if he weren’t a Cardinal, especially since he sneaked in with 77.8% of the vote. I don’t think Ken Boyer makes it if he isn’t a Cardinal, and he got an astounding 88.5% of the vote and with as low of a career WAR as Dizzy Dean has, I don’t think he cracks 75% if he’s not a Cardinal either. He ended up with 83.6% of the vote.
I was pretty happy with how the first two ballots went. I felt that the first cycle was a bit too harsh and it seemed as if there was a slight loosening of standards in this cycle. David Cone (60.6%), Lee Smith (59.2%), Early Winn (53.5%), Orel Hersisher (36.6%), and Addie Joss (36.6%) all have reasonably good cases and fell short on the fifth ballot. But there’s a near equal argument against them as well, and even if you come to the conclusion they belong, they’re kind of exactly the guys who wouldn’t make it on the first try. I’m not sure Billy Williams (77.5%) or Lou Whitaker (85.9%) make it on the first cycle.
Eight players in total made that first ballot of the second cycle, which was already the most in one ballot VEB voted in. On the second ballot of this cycle, they broke that record by electing 10 players. Sure, it helps that Ted Simmons and Lou Brock, who I think would have trouble getting elected if they were Orioles, happened to be Cardinals. And don’t kill me, but I think if you switch Kevin Brown (69.4%) and Brock, this is literally the perfect ballot. But Brown fell short and so did Dwight Evans (68.1%). Though I didn’t include Evans in my perfect ballot (though I think I voted for him), because - like David Cone - he’s kind of who I’d expect to struggle past the first ballot.
In addition Aaron, Hornsby, Chipper, and the two Cardinals, this ballot also elected Craig Biggio (87.5%), Al Simmons (84.7%), Andre Dawson (80.6%), Arky Vaughn (79.2%), and Lou Boudreau with exactly 75% of the vote. Why actual Hall of Famer Bodreau with a clear HOF peak barely got in while Whitaker, who is not a Hall of Famer and has a weak HOF peak cruised in - I guess I’ll chalk that one up to when they played. I did vote for Whitaker, but that was a strange combination in my opinion. Also falling short on this ballot were Johan Santana (41.7%) and Charles “Chief” Bender (26.4%). Plus we got the Cardinal boost with Jack Clark (16.7%).
And then folks, I’m not going to lie. I think the seventh ballot was a regression. I don’t really know why it seemed like this went back to the high standard (aside from the two Cards). In this writer’s opinion, not only did three players who I voted for not get voted in, but they were obvious Hall of Famers. I do realize why Cochrane fell short, though I have no clue why Hal Newhouser (73.8%) did. Bill Terry wasn’t even close (60.7%) and that dude has seven seasons of at least 4.9 fWAR (or seven seasons of 4.6 bWAR). Based off nothing, it seemed like they just happened to be on the wrong ballot. If it wasn’t for the two Cardinals who I don’t believe get elected with wearing the birds on the bat, it’d only be a five person ballot. But it’s seven thanks to Boyer and Dean.
Other significant votes on the last ballot include real life Hall of Famer Earl Averill (21.3%), Cesar Cedeno (16.4%), Bucky Walters (14.8%), and amusingly in my opinion, Tom Henke (14.8%). Apparently the Cardinals boost can extend to playing for the Cardinals for a single season. (The very similar case of Doug Jones received just 6% if you need a little proof of the boost).
There were a few actual Hall of Famers not mentioned who didn’t get enough votes. Max Carey (19.7%) and Frank Chance (18.3%) are probably not going to be on another ballot. But there are a number of guys who will definitely not be on another ballot who made the Hall. On the fifth ballot, Harold Baines had just 2.8% of the vote. On the next ballot, Kiki Cuyler (9.7%) and Lloyd Waner (1.4%) missed. Johnny Evers (9.8%), Travis Jackson (8.2% - who deserved better in my opinion), High Pockets Kelly (8.2%), George Kell (4.95), and Rick Ferrell (3.3%) all fell way short on the final ballot. Just supports that the seventh ballot was weirdly harsh in comparison to the first two.
So the Hall of Famers are starting pitchers Bob Gibson, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Dizzy Dean and Eddie Plank; catchers Mike Piazza (88.7%), Ted Simmons, and Ivan Rodriguez; first baseman Lou Gehrig; second basemen Lou Whitaker, Rogers Hornsby, and Craig Biggio; third basemen Chipper Jones and Ken Boyer; shortstops Cal Ripken Jr., Arky Vaughn, Lou Bodreau, and Ernie Banks; outfielders Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, Billy Williams, Hank Aaron, Al Simmons, Andre Dawson, and Lou Brock. And of course Babe Ruth.
And yes, I neglected to mention Mike Piazza my first run through somehow, so yeah Mike Piazza also made the Hall of Fame. If you’re curious about the other Hall of Fame candidates I didn’t mention, they probably received less than 10%. You can see the fifth ballot candidates here, the sixth ballot here, and the seventh ballot here.
As far as the future is concerned, well it looks pretty likely we will have another cycle before the season starts. I said I would do another one if the season was delayed and that seems like it will happen. Not sure of the specific date, but it will be around when Opening Day occurs. Or would have occurred rather. And how many ballots we do will depend on how exactly long the season will get delayed. So unless a surprise happens, we will be here again.