Tomorrow's the big day, when the good people of the Pacific Northwest discover exactly what the Hall of Fame voters think about their man Edgar Martinez. Nobody expects Edgar to be elected this first time around. But as Larry Stone writes, the results should give us an idea.
- If he can stay above 40 percent in the final balloting, it would be a decent jumping-off point for the eventual enshrinement I firmly believe he deserves. I never realistically thought Martinez was going to make it on the first ballot, but I'm encouraged that a solid percentage of the electorate seems to buy into his candidacy. I'm reserving judgment until Wednesday, however. Then we'll find out just how encouraged we should really be. Jim Rice, who finally made is last year in his 15th and final appearance on the ballot, started out with 37.6 percent in 1997, his first year on the ballot, and gradually increased until he garnered 76.4 percent last year (75 percent of the vote is needed for election). Andre Dawson got 45.3 percent of the vote in his first try in 2002, and has a strong chance to be elected this time around, in his ninth try. It can be done.
It's a first-time vote from me for Trammell. I was swayed by many persuasive essays advocating on his behalf. Similarly, a lot of good stuff has been written in support of Edgar Martinez, including this piece by David Schoenfield on ESPN.com. I've said all along that the closer one looks at Edgar's numbers, the better he'll do (which isn't the case with some candidates). And there has never been more access to sophisticated, enlightened analysis than there is right now, which can only help someone like Martinez.
There's definitely a perception that modern analysis and its ever-growing availability have impacted Hall of Fame voting. But have they, really?
I don't have the slightest idea. Jim Rice is in the Hall of Fame. Bert Blyleven's still waiting. If Tim Raines inches past 50 percent this time it will be a miracle. Alan Trammell, even with Larry Stone's vote, has no reasonable chance of being elected during his 15-year tenure on the ballot.
Which isn't to say that all this enlightened analysis isn't making a difference. Without it, maybe Blyleven and Raines and Trammell would have fared even worse than they have. You probably can sense my skepticism. But this is an empirical question: Have the voting patterns changed since Bill James published his first Baseball Abstract in the 1970s? Have they changed since Rob Neyer started writing for ESPNet SportsZone in 1996? Have they changed since Baseball-Reference launched nine years ago, making reasonably advanced metrics available to any Hall of Fame voter with a computer and the energy to left-click a few times?
These are not rhetorical questions. I really would like to know.