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Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Whole lot of Hall love for Roberto Alomar

By Jayson Stark

Brian Williams, Tom Brokaw and Chuck Todd weren't available to sit at this Election Return Headquarters desk. So I guess I'll have to sift through another fascinating batch of Hall of Fame election returns myself. Here goes:

• Roberto Alomar didn't just get himself elected Wednesday. We also should be awarding him the Olympic gold medal in the high jump -- because he collected a stunning 126 more votes this year than he got last year. That ties for the largest jump ever since the advent of the modern voting system in 1968. And it's only the fourth 100-vote leap in that entire span. The others:

126: Luis Aparicio, 1981-82 (from 48 to 174)

111: Jim Rice, 1999-2000 (from 146 to 257)

100: Early Wynn, 1970-71 (from 140 to 240)

• Alomar made the biggest jump, by far, in the history of this voting system by a returning candidate in the year he got elected. Here's that leaderboard:

126: Roberto Alomar, 2010-11 (from 397 to 523)

97: Yogi Berra, 1971-72 (from 242 to 339)

89: Luis Aparicio, 1983-84 (from 252 to 341)

84: Ryne Sandberg, 2004-05 (from 309 to 393)

83: Tony Perez, 1999-2000 (from 302 to 385)

• Alomar also set one more record. He's the first player to miss election in his first appearance on the ballot and then collect 90 percent of the vote in his second time around. Here are the only four previous Hall of Famers who even jumped into the 80s after missing in their first shot, according to ESPN Stats & Info:

Yogi Berra, 85.6

Nap Lajoie, 83.6

Tris Speaker, 82.1

Rollie Fingers, 81.2

• But Bert Blyleven fits into a whole different group. Despite what seemed to be an obvious groundswell of sentiment that this was destined to be The Year, he got only 43 more votes than he got last year. And that's the third-smallest jump by an electee in the past 25 years:

20: Jim Rice, 2008-09 (from 392 to 412)

40: Don Sutton, 1987-88 (from 346 to 386)

43: Bert Blyleven, 2010-11 (from 420 to 463)

44: Gary Carter, 2002-03 (from 343 to 387)

• As recently as 12 years ago, Blyleven collected just 70 votes in one of these Hall of Fame elections. That's 14.1 percent. In the history of the modern voting system, only one player ever got elected to the Hall of Fame after once receiving a lower percentage than that. That was Aparicio, who somehow went from getting 12 percent (48 votes) in 1981 to getting elected just THREE years later. So Blyleven is the only candidate ever to climb from less than 15 percent to more than 75 percent over a decade or more.

• Among the players who have attracted more votes than Blyleven in one of his years on the ballot:

Minnie Minoso

Jim Kaat

Tommy John

Dale Murphy

Dave Parker

Don Mattingly



The highest percentage any of those guys ever got in ANY Hall of Fame election? How 'bout 31.7, by John in his final year on the ballot (2009).

• I've been voting in Hall of Fame elections for two decades. And I still can't comprehend the dramatic changes in vote totals for players who haven't seen a pitch since their previous appearance on the ballot. But once again, we had some eye-poppers this year. Biggest increases:

Alomar: plus-126

Barry Larkin: plus-83

Tim Raines: plus-54

Blyleven: plus-43

Jack Morris: plus-29

Alan Trammell: plus-20

• What was more noteworthy, though, was the players who actually lost votes this year -- even though this was an election that featured 43 more voters than last year:

Mark McGwire: minus-13

Fred McGriff: minus-12

Don Mattingly: minus-8

Harold Baines: minus-5

Edgar Martinez: minus-4

Baines plummeted right off the ballot because he was two votes short of getting the 5 percent he needed to stay alive. And although Lee Smith did gain eight votes, his percentage of the vote dropped from 47 to 45 percent. The word that best describes the state of all these candidacies: TROUBLE.

• But for those who are suggesting McGwire is doomed, after dropping to an all-time low 19.8 percent? Well, you're probably right, but don't bet that 70th home run ball on it. Remember, Blyleven once attracted a lower chunk of the vote than that in three straight elections (1998 to 2000). So you never know how perspectives might change -- for all players, for all kinds of reasons.

• Rafael Palmeiro, though, is another story. He debuted at just 11 percent (64 votes). And no player since the dawn of this voting system has gotten that low a percentage of the vote and gone on to get elected by the BBWAA.

• I guessed Jeff Bagwell would get about 35 percent of the vote. Instead, he got 42 -- which tells us there's a high probability he'll make it someday. Of the past 10 players elected who didn't sail into the Hall in their first try, seven got less than 50 percent of the vote on their first year on the ballot:

Blyleven, 17.5

Bruce Sutter, 23.1

Jim Rice, 29.8

Goose Gossage, 33.3

Gary Carter, 42.3

Andre Dawson, 45.3

Ryne Sandberg, 49.2

• During our fun-filled Hall of Fame Live chatfest Wednesday, somebody posed this question: Was Juan Gonzalez's vote total (5.2 percent) the lowest ever by a two-time MVP? And the answer is ...

Absolutely -- in the history of this voting system, anyway. The lowest previous percentage was 8.5 percent, by Dale Murphy in 2004.

But if we consider the entire history of Hall voting, Hal Newhouser once collected only 2.5 percent of the vote in 1962 (but was eventually elected by the Veterans Committee). And Hank Greenberg got just 1.2 percent in 1945 -- but that's a long story, because of this bizarre technicality: HIS CAREER WASN'T OVER YET.

So if we toss out ancient history, Juan Gonzalez stands alone -- and, to be honest, deservedly so.

• Finally, if you read all the way to the bottom of those election results -- and why wouldn't you? -- you'll find that Bret Boone and Benito Santiago have just joined one of my favorite groups:

Players who got exactly ONE vote (no more, no less) in a Hall of Fame election.

So in their honor, it's time to bring back one of this blog's most beloved features -- the latest edition of the All-One-Vote-For-The-Hall-Of-Fame team.

1B: George (Boomer) Scott

2B: Chuck Knoblauch

SS: Shawon Dunston

3B: Tim Wallach

LF: David Justice

CF: Lenny Dykstra

RF: Ellis Valentine

C: Darren Daulton

Starting rotation: Dock Ellis, Chuck Finley, Pat Hentgen, Tom Browning, Todd Stottlemyre

Bullpen: Jesse Orosco, Al Hrabosky, Mark Davis, Steve Bedrosian, Clay Carroll

Postgame quip squad: Jim Deshaies, Jay Buhner, Jose Rijo, Rick Dempsey, John Lowenstein

Broadcast booth: John Kruk, Jerry Remy, Mike Krukow, Ron Darling

DL: Danny Tartabull