With less than a fortnight until the Hall of Fame announces its Class of 2016, and with some of baseball's biggest writers turning in their ballots, it's a good time to check in on the condition of our most pressing Cooperstown cases.
This year's an important one for Tim Raines. He has two years left on the ballot, but it won't be any less congested in 2017, even if the electorate picks another four-pack this time. Next year's first-timers include Ivan Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and Vladimir Guerrero, so if Raines falls short in 11 days, there are two more outfielders to contend with (although Ramirez will probably be put on the same holding pattern as known steroid users).
Fortunately, Ryan Thibs and BBHoFTracker.com have good news for Raines and three others. With 108 ballots in (nearly a quarter of precincts reporting), four players sit above the 75-percent threshold:
- Ken Griffey Jr.: 100
- Mike Piazza: 90.7
- Jeff Bagwell: 85.2
- Tim Raines: 81.5
Raines is polling considerably higher than he was at a similar point last year ...
After 100 ballots last year: Biggio 82% Pedro and Randy 99% Smoltz 90% (Piazza 85%, Bagwell 71%, Raines 65%) https://t.co/rem9zVYgpb— Ryan Thibs (@NotMrTibbs) December 24, 2015
... but he could still use a bigger cushion. His public ballot numbers usually run well higher than where his final percentage ends up, as his supporters tend to be younger and/or more technologically savvy, which means they're predisposed to sharing their vote via blogs, Twitter, etc. When the non-public ballots comes in, his percentage has dropped by 5 to 10 percent.
Even with that caveat, he's still in great shape since two factors could finally work in his favor. While the Hall of Fame failed by limiting voters to 10 choices, it did make some headway by reducing the voter roll by about 175, as BBWAA members more than 10 years removed from the game were declared ineligible. That should increase the amount of engagement and analytical understanding by the average voter, and Raines stands to benefit as much as anybody.
If he doesn't get in this time, then he'll also be in position to get the usual last-chance bump. Alan Trammell is seeing some of that right now, as he's running at 48.1 percent in his 15th and final year on the ballot after finishing at just 25.1 percent the year before. That's too little, too late for the deserving Trammell, but as long as Raines approaches 70 percent this time around, he should be able to squeak in by the time the grueling process is over.
The other former South Sider won't have to worry about the grind. When it comes to Griffey, the only question is whether he'll go into the Hall of Fame wearing a White Sox cap on the strength of this throw: