Hall of Fame candidates are similar to presidential hopefuls, in that if they don't win their home state, they're kinda screwed. For every James K. Polk, who lost Tennessee but won the election of 1844, there are 10 losers. Hell, for every Polk, there are two Adlai Stevensons.
Frank Thomas doesn't have to read up on Young Hickory (although he's worth the time) as we draw closer to the unveiling of Cooperstown's Class of 2014. The delegates from Chicago are delivering for him.
The Chicago Tribune released its six Hall of Fame ballots -- it's down to six with Dave Van Dyck and Phil Rogers no longer in the fold -- and they all came out in support for the Big Hurt. Last week, Thomas went 4-for-4 with the Daily Herald, so that's 10 votes right there.
On top of that, this excellent spreadsheet by @Weird_Meat (I'm pretty sure I've never used those words in that order), other Chicago-rooted ballots have Thomas' name checked -- Rogers, Dan McGrath, Rick Morrissey, Chris DeLuca, Joe Goddard, Mike Nadel and Phil Arvia. There are a few ballots unaccounted for from the Chicago media market, but Thomas is batting 1.000 through the 17 public ones.
That's pretty huge, especially when you compare him to a couple other players with Chicago ties.
Sammy Sosa has received only two votes from those same 17 voters (DeLuca and Mike Imren). Meanwhile, Tim Raines, who would've been a first-balloter with Sosa's numbers, has picked up 12 votes from the delegation.
Their success in Chicago is reflective of their overall standing in the early returns. At Baseball Think Factory, Repoz has collected 22 percent of the ballots, and here's what his survey says:
- Thomas: 91.3 percent (100 percent of Chicago)
- Raines: 59.5 percent (70.6 percent)
- Sosa: 7.9 percent (11.8 percent)
Due to selection bias, the BTF tally tends to overshoot on modern players, or players with sabermetrically oriented cases, while underestimating older players/traditional cases. Which sounds right, since a lot of unaccounted ballots are in the hands of former baseball writers.
Comparing Repoz's tally last year (33 percent of ballots) against the results, Raines, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens lost the most ground between partial and actual returns, all in the neighborhood of 8-9 percent. Thomas can absorb that downturn, but it'd be surprising if he lost anywhere near that level of support, considering his case is much cleaner than those three.
At this point, it'd be a blindsiding of historic proportions if Thomas somehow missed the cut, so my early pessimism looks unwarranted. Then again, there's even late pessimism. From Teddy Greenstein's ballot in the Trib roundup:
So it brings me some pleasure to check Thomas' box. Though knowing his late-career struggles, I figure he will get 74.9 percent of the vote.
I'm back from more than two weeks of sweet, sweet vacation. Thanks to Larry, Steve, 67WMAQ and Ken for filling in during my absence. Perhaps you didn't even know I was gone!
On a related note, I regret to inform you that there will not be a White Sox Outsider this year. Taking on the project requires me to map out five months in advance and reduce/eliminate all the interruptions that I can anticipate. This winter's obligations put me at a time deficit. Perhaps a postseason appearance may have generated enough internal and external excitement to make up that ground, but I know I always feel the effects of the process by March, and trying to squeeze out a book about the 2013 White Sox in far less time may have driven me to madness.
So, I've used some of the extra time to write the World Tour series and the Frank Thomas series, in hopes of appeasing the masses who blocked out their own Outsider time. I've used other chunks of time to attempt to become a more well-rounded person, but I wholly realize that's of little benefit to you, and I beg for your forgiveness, you monsters.