One of the worst things about closely watching Hall of Fame vote totals is that there’s the possibility of seeing an indisputably great result, while at the same time being disappointed by it. That’s what happened when Larry Walker and Todd Helton’s vote totals rolled out on Tuesday night.
Walker had a huge jump from last year’s ballot, going from 34.1% of the vote all the way up to 54.6%. The disappointing part is that he’ll have to replicate that vote jump again next year to just barely break the 75% threshold. Like losing weight, early successes are harder to reproduce the closer one gets to the ultimate goal.
Still, it’s hard to be too disappointed. No candidate has ever reached 50% of the BBWAA vote and not eventually made the Hall of Fame. The problem, of course, is that Walker just has one more shot left. He has a fighting chance next year, but it will be tough. It’ll require a bit of a public campaign, which we’re more than happy to help out with. And, as Drew Creasman has argued, it wouldn’t hurt if the Rockies went ahead and retired Walker’s number 33 already. It’s long overdue, anyhow.
Todd Helton’s debut is similarly mixed. He got 16.5% of the vote, which is fine, but not great. Walker received more of the vote, at 20.3%. Almost 10 years later, and he’s now a long shot for election heading into his final year. But that was a different ballot and a different electorate, and the circumstances that followed Walker’s debut won’t be the same as Helton’s, so it’s not exactly an apples to apples comparison.
Jay Jaffe, in his quick summary of Helton’s candidacy, suggests that Helton could be in line for a steady increase in coming years. Part of that will be due to a ballot that won’t be as deep as this year’s, where four players gained election, and part of that could be due to voters only having to come to terms with voting for one member of the Colorado Rockies. Whatever happens next year, Walker won’t be on the ballot in 2021.
Walker should get in one way or another, and I like Helton’s chances as well. Now, it’s a matter of being patient and talking up their cases whenever we get the chance.