The National Baseball Hall of Fame has opened its doors for a live unveil on MLB Network. The results of the 2022 Hall of Fame voting will be revealed this evening.
It’s time to see how long Todd Helton will have to wait until his name is etched in bronze.
We currently know 46.4% of the final vote, thanks to the hard work of Ryan Thibodaux and his four-person Hall of Fame ballot tracking staff. From that 46.4% of total ballots cast, here are the top six players:
- David Ortiz (84.5%)
- Barry Bonds* (77.5%)
- Roger Clemens* (76.5%)
- Scott Rolen (70.1%)
- Curt Schilling* (61.0%)
- Todd Helton (57.8%)
* final year on ballot
We do not know 52.2% of the votes for this year’s election, and Helton will need around 90% of those remaining votes to be inducted in the class of 2022. Unless the anonymous masses have a huge affinity for #17, we won’t see our beloved first basemen in the Hall — yet.
Year By Year
Larry Walker was on a voting roller coaster since he debuted on the ballot in 2011. Helton appears to be on a more simplistic ladder toward the gold line of induction, and if his current trend continues, 2023 or 2024 could be the year.
If Helton’s final figure for 2022 is that 57.8% projection, that means his percentage will see a 12.9% jump from last year. Walker had never polled above 55.0% percent until his final year on the ballot, so Helton’s projection shows he is fewer than one Walker jump away from Cooperstown.
The ‘Walker Jump’
In 2014, Walker polled as low as 10.2%. The ballot that year featured 13 now-Hall of Famers and each voter can only check 10 boxes, so Walker was on the back half of a list of 13 that included Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, Mike Piazza, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Craig Biggio. (Walker was 5.2% away from being taken off the ballot entirely, and may have been if a 14th Hall of Famer were on that ballot.)
After 2014, Walker started his steady upward ascension — and would eventually make a 22.0% jump in his final year on the ballot.
Todd and Larry are not two of the same, and it’s unjust to compare the two just because of the teams they identify with. We can at least follow the trajectory they have polled on, and begin to draw a trend line that is gradually more dependable.
Why so long?
Ask yourself this: If Larry Walker was a Hall of Famer all along, why did it take 10 years for writers to figure it out?
To see Walker spike from 11.8% to 76.6% in five years suggests a lot of writers are caving to the opinions of others — which might justify why more than half of the voters have not made their ballots public this year. Receiving a ballot is meant to be the highest honor for a baseball writer, but if voters are acting with that honor, how can a future inductee ever poll below 15%?
Our mention of the 2014 ballot can serve as an exemption — sometimes the ballot is just straight up stacked — but Walker was still at least 40% shy from induction in his first eight years on the ballot.
In 2015, Walker polled at 15.5%.
He then spiked 61.1% in four years.
Six out of ten voters changed their mind about him in that time.
(Well done, #WalkerHOF team.)
This course suggests it isn’t the expertise of the writers that gets people in the Hall, but it’s the susceptibility of most writers to look over their shoulder at what others are doing. Either that, or 60% of them are cool with playing the waiting game, dipping their toes in the water and seeing which way the current is moving before charting off on their own. That current really picked up for Walker after 2017.
Either that, or voters just put their feet on their desk and say, “I’ll vote for them later.” That would also explain Walker’s decade-long roller coaster.
The shift in voter action worked in Larry’s favor, to the joy of Rockies fans everywhere, but it doesn’t mean it had to take 10 years. Walker’s stats were final as soon as he stepped off the field for the last time, but it took the collective voters 15 years to consider him worthy.
If there wasn’t a 10-year ballot cutoff for players, maybe Walker would have to wait another decade to earn what his stats have shown all along.
(More food for thought: How much does somebody’s induction depend solely on the years they are on the ballot?)
Rockies fans are back in territory they know all too well: a waiting game for something that gradually becomes inevitable.
How long for Helton?
Our above graph shows Helton trending steadily upward (albeit only for three years), and it suggests he will be enshrined a little quicker than Walker. It’s tough to accurately project this, but anything pointing ‘up’ to this point is a good thing. We’ll just have to be patient.
Now that Walker has been inducted, the seal has been broken for ‘altitude-aided’ hitters. Whether this plays in Helton’s benefit remains to be seen, but the upward trend suggests Helton may not need any additional help after all.
He just needs writers to follow the current.
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We get another owner/player meeting today!
Rockies owner/MLB labor committee chairman Dick Monfort was one of four people that made up the league’s contingency at the MLBPA office on Monday. The meeting lasted a little shy of two hours and it was productive enough to schedule another session for today.
Top takeaways from the Rockies’ international signing class, headed by Dyan Jorge | The Athletic ($)
The “most expensive international signing in the club’s history” will soon grace the Rockies’ spring training complex at Salt River Fields, headlined by infielder Dyan Jorge and a $2.8 million signing bonus. (This is $1.05 million more than what Garrett Hampson made last year.)
The Rockies had a bonus pool of just over $6 million to spend and they have signed 12 international free agents this winter.
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