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Looking Ahead: SSS HOF ballots

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll post our Veterans and Cooperstown ballots

Baltimore Orioles v Chicago White Sox
Among many huge BBWAA goofs on our upcoming Veterans’ ballot: Kenny Lofton earning just 3.2% HOF support in his only year of consideration.

South Side Sox had a history of holding Hall of Fame votes in the 2010s, long before the new management came in and sorta blew the voting wide open.

Things expanded right away, when we created the White Sox Hall of Fame.

A year later, after Harold Baines was elected to Cooperstown via the Veterans Committee ballot in 2018 (creating furor among writers and fans), it sparked an idea for a third round of voting here each year, to correct some of the many oversights Cooperstown has made over the years — and continues to make.

On one hand, the White Sox Hall of Fame has been a rousing success, enshrining the top tier of White Sox greats and adding a lot of fun with offshoot categories like Best Promotion, 2005 Moments, and Best Uniforms. But the Veterans ballot? Well, it is not easy to vote someone in off of a stacked ballot — especially when, unlike Cooperstown’s 16-person committee that can literally get together in a single room and politick/barter to get a candidate in, we are doing this on a White Sox site, virtually, with our only interactions in comments, often after already voting.

Last year, as is my custom I overthought and overworked the process. We put together a ballot of 30 candidates, with the intention of whittling to 10 and then deciding who among 10 clearly worthy players should advance with 75% of the vote. Sound impossible? It was.

In fact, I only realized just now, when prepping this year’s ballot, that the promise made in the linked zero elected post right above was never followed up. The other HOF elections on site, the drain of a lockout, the funny little baseball movies tournament we held to take our minds off of the lockout ... they sort of pushed the Veterans vote re-do right off the cliff.

So first, apologies for not following up and getting back to a Veterans election proper in 2022. But I was not idle in the interim.

Going forward, now onto our fourth annual ballot, we are going to adopt eras, as Cooperstown does. I almost want to make this a poll to see what your guesses are, but there are 88 — yes, 88! — players who compiled more than 50 WAR in their careers who are not in the Hall of Fame, and of course that doesn’t cover every possible Veterans case (Thurman Munson, Curt Flood, Tony Conigliaro, etc.).

Those players break down into seven eras:

  • Pre-1900 (currently 10 players on a theoretical ballot)
  • 1900s-20s (12)
  • 1930s-60s (12)
  • 1970s (16)
  • 1980s (12)
  • 1990s (19)
  • 2000s (7)

Each year, we will vote from a different era. The first up, coming Monday, is the one with both the most total qualified candidates and the highest-quality (greatest total WAR) players: the 1990s.

Only 10 players will appear on the ballot, and rather than the mess of having to allocate votes toward one obvious candidate (obviously if a guy has been bypassed by Cooperstown in one, five, 10 votes, there’s some flaw, perceived or otherwise), we’re going to repeat our experiment from last year’s Cooperstown ballot: Vote on-site, yes-no, real time. You can vote for all 10 players, vote for zero, or any number in-between.

I am undecided as to whether any year that has 10-plus 50+ WAR candidates will automatically induct at least one player, whether or not he cracks the 75% hurdle (like, top vote-getter earns 67% and is elected); I’d welcome your thoughts on that concept in the comments.

Also, there will be an 11th voting option: Blank ballot. This doesn’t just serve to count up the number of grumps super-small Hall believers we have voting on site, it will get us closer to a true total of how many total voters there were.

So the Veterans ballot, devoted to the 1980s, will appear on site this Monday, with voting through noon the following Sunday, and a results post coming on Sunday night.

On Monday, January 16, we’ll post our Cooperstown ballot, led by Scott Rolen and Todd Helton but with no true shoo-ins, with voting again through noon the following Sunday, and a results post coming on Sunday night.

And on Monday, January 23, we’ll post our White Sox Hall of Fame ballot, with a player vote and bonus categories as well. That vote will stretch two weeks, with results posted in early February, as we get ready to roll into Spring Training.