It's that time again. Time to break down the Hall of Fame voting of 2013, in all its discombobulated splendor:
Bonds and Clemens
Will they ever make it to induction day, jointly or separately? Hey, you've got me. But let's take a look at their vote total and see what that tells us:
• Clemens collected 214 votes. Bonds racked up 206. That left them a long, long ways from getting elected (213 away for Clemens, 221 for Bonds). But at least they set a "record" for most votes compiled on the first ballot by candidates linked to PEDs. Here's that leaderboard, as I compiled it:
I've heard people speculate that the vote totals for Clemens and Bonds will go up next year. But that isn't how it's worked for McGwire, Palmeiro and Gonzalez. They've done nothing but lose votes since their debuts on the ballot.
• Believe it or not, Clemens' vote percentage was not the lowest first-year percentage by a modern 300-game winner. He's the ninth 300-game winner to appear on the ballot since 1972. Four of the previous eight didn't get elected in their first year. And one -- Early Wynn, in '72 -- got only 27.9 percent in his debut. Here are the first-year percentages for those nine 300-game winners:
Tom Seaver 1992 -- 98.8 percent (1st ballot)
Nolan Ryan 1999 -- 98.8 percent (1st ballot)
Steve Carlton 1994 -- 95.6 percent (1st ballot)
Warren Spahn 1973 -- 83.2 percent (1st ballot)
Gaylord Perry 1991 -- 68.0 percent (3rd ballot)
Phil Niekro 1997 -- 65.7 percent (5th ballot)
Don Sutton 1998 -- 56.8 percent (5th ballot)
Roger Clemens 2013 -- 37.6 percent (?)
Early Wynn 1972 -- 27.9 percent (4th ballot)
• But it's the mashers of the steroid era, like Bonds, who are really messing with Hall of Fame voting history. Until McGwire came along a few years back, it was unheard of for a member of the 500-Homer Club to get locked out of Cooperstown. Uh, not anymore.
Of the 12 men who made 500 home run trots (or more) who had appeared on the ballot in the previous half-century before McGwire, all 12 were pretty much automatic Hall of Famers. And 10 rolled into the Hall on the first ballot.
Now, though, the steroid era has scraped the luster off that 500-Homer Club. We've now had four members in a row who haven't been elected on the first ballot, or any other ballot. Here's a list of the only six 500-homer guys who haven't been first-ballot electees since the '60s:
Eddie Mathews 1978 -- 32.3 percent (elected 5th ballot)
Harmon Killebrew 1984 -- 59.6 percent (elected 4th ballot)
Mark McGwire 2007 -- 23.5 percent (not elected after 7 ballots)
Rafael Palmeiro 2011 -- 11.0 percent (not elected after 3 ballots)
Barry Bonds 2013 -- 36.2 percent (not elected on 1st ballot)
Sammy Sosa 2013 -- 12.5 percent (not elected on 1st ballot)
So until six years ago, we'd never had any eligible 500-homer man who wasn't in the Hall of Fame. Now we've collected a 700-homer man (Bonds), a 600-homer man (Sosa) and two 500-homer men (McGwire and Palmeiro) who remain on the outside. And guess what? We aren't done.
Ups and downs
Another one of my favorite pastimes on Hall election day is to study all the bizarre zigzags that various candidates take in their vote totals. Every year, even though nobody has played a game since the previous election, we have players who add votes and players who lose votes -- and sometimes many, many votes.
What was odd about this year was that almost nobody added votes. In fact, this was just the fourth time in the last 20 elections that no candidate jumped by even 25 votes.
• The only four players with any kind of vote increase this year:Dale Murphy (plus-23)
Jeff Bagwell (plus-18)
Tim Raines (plus-18)
Jack Morris (plus-3)
• The three previous elections in the last 20 years in which no player added at least 25 votes (with leading vote-adder):
2009: Jim Rice (plus-20)
2002: Luis Tiant (plus-22)
1999: Bob Boone (plus-1)
• And on the other end of the scale, here are the players who had the most votes disappear on them in the past year, topped by two Yankees greats who took unusually large hits:
We should mention that there were three fewer total votes cast this year (569) than last year (572), largely due to voters who decided to stop voting for various reasons.
And then there's Jack Morris, who seemed on the precipice of getting elected last year (when he jumped to 66.7 percent) but then added only three more votes (and 1.0 percent) in this election.
So how ominous a development is that for a guy with just one year left on the ballot? Recent history says it might not be as ominous as you'd think.
Over the previous 10 elections, there were 15 instances in which a player got between 60 and 74.9 percent of the vote. Four times, that player's vote total increased by three votes or less the next year or even went down. In every instance, that player was eventually elected:
Andre Dawson 2006-07 (minus-8 votes), elected in 2010
Goose Gossage 2006-07 (plus-2 votes), elected in 2008
Bert Blyleven 2008-09 (plus-2 votes), elected in 2011
Andre Dawson 2008-09 (plus-3 votes), elected in 2010
The bad news for Morris, though, is the arrival of three compelling starting pitcher candidates on next year's ballot -- Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina -- along with the holdover starters, Clemens and Curt Schilling, from this field.
Morris was still 42 votes away from election this year. Can he find those votes next year? As I've been saying for quite a while now, I'm not so sure he can.
Signed, Sele-ed and delivered
Finally, it's time to add Aaron Sele to the hallowed roster of one of my favorite, human-trivia-question all-star teams:
The All-I-Got-Exactly-One-Vote-in-a-Hall-of-Fame-Election team.
I've been updating this team every year. So here comes the distinguished 2013 edition -- an eclectic group that any 148-game winner would be proud to be a member of (I think):
Bullpen: Al Hrabosky, Jesse Orosco, Bill Campbell, Steve Bedrosian, Clay Carroll
Broadcast booth: John Kruk, Jerry Remy, Mike Krukow, Ron Darling
DH: Danny Tartabull, David Segui
Leavenworth Division: Lenny Dykstra