A lot of people are yammering about the BCS SEC National Conference Championship game, while others are talking about this weekend’s Tebowl.  Naturally, I’m focused on baseball.

The voting for the 2012 Baseball Hall of Fame has been announced.  Here are my thoughts on the voting:

Hall of Famers

  • Barry Larkin was elected in his third year of eligibility, jumping from 62.1% of the vote last year to 86.4% this year.  Anyone who saw Larkin play during his prime realized that it was just a matter of time before he was elected.
  • After toying with his emotion for year, the Veterans Committee posthumously elected Cubs great Ron Santo to the Hall of fame.

Future Hall of Famers

This is an unofficial category, as you never know when a player’s candidacy is going to run out of steam.  However there are several players who took big steps forward this year.

  • Jack Morris was the winningest pitcher in the 1980s and the ultimate gamer.  However, his lack of eye-popping stats has kept him on the ballot for 13 years.  With a jump from 53.5% last year to 66.6% this year, Morris could slip in next year as the first big batch of steroid-tainted players hit the ballot.  If not 2013, then definitely in 2014, as players often get a bump from the voters during their last year on the ballot (you can be on the ballot for a maximum of 15 years).
  • Jeff Bagwell is tainted by the fact that he played during the steroid era, despite the fact that he has never himself been accused of any wrongoing.  In his second year on the ballot, he jumped from 41.7% to 56%.  Likely member of the HOF class of 2015 as he gradually pushed his numbers up.
  • The dynamic Tim Raines climbed from 37.5% to 48.7% in his 5th year on the ballot.  He still has a sizeable hill to climb, but I think he gets there eventually.  HOF class of 2019.
  • Lee Smith was the all-time saves leader when he retired.  However, he has been passed since then (most notably by Mariano Rivera) and there’s less respect for the raw statistics of saves than there was in the past.  In his 10th year on the ballot, he jumped from 45.3% to 50.6%.  I’m not sure if he’ll make it or not.  I hope he does, because I remember his as a fierce warrior on the Cubs teams in the 80s.

Everyone else

There are a lot of other great names on the ballot, but I don’t see any of the others making it into the Hall of Fame.  Some thoughts on the rest of the group:

  • I loved seeing Larry Walker play for my Rockies.  However, a relatively short career coupled with the advantages of playing at Coors Lite (pre-humidor) dooms his candidacy.  Very exciting player – too bad he couldn’t have put together a few more good years.
  • Dale Murphy was a back to back MVP (1982 and 1983) but will fall off the ballot next year.  He received a mere 14.2% of the vote this year.
  • Don Mattingly was the face of the game for a few years before a bad back sapped him of his power.  17.8% in his 12th year on the ballot.  Mattingly has been on the Hall of Fame ballot for 12 years?  That makes me feel old.  Maybe he’ll make it to the Hall as  manager.
  • Without the stench of steroids attached to his name, Rafael Palmeiro would have been a first ballot Hall of Famer.  As the first big star to test positive, there’s no way he’ll make it.  The irony is that he already had HOF numbers at the time of his test.  Had he retired a year earlier, he’d be in the Hall.
  • Mark McGwire actually lost votes, dropping from 19.8% to 19.5%.  This is fairly hard to do, as once a player crosses the Hall of Fame threshold in a writer’s mind, it’s unlikely the writer will demote him.  However, the actual group of voters has a bit of turnover from year to year.  Some McGwire backers may have retired and been replaced with those who aren’t likely to vote for him.  although he never tested positive for a banned substance, he admitted to being using Andro (which was not banned) and was the subject of other rumors.
  • Edgar Martinez and Fred McGriff each made small jumps in their 3rd year on the ballot.  Martinez climbed from 32.9% to 36.5% while the Crime Dog went from 17.9% to 23.9%.  At this point, it seems unlikely that either will make it to the required 75%.  The fact that Martinez was a DH works against him, as it should.  He was still a great contributor as a hitter, but didn’t add as much value as a comparable hitter who also played the field.  McGriff was one of the most feared sluggers in the game during his prime, but his lack of a team identity could hurt him – he bounced around like a ping pong ball.
  • Alan Trammell jumped from 24.3% to 36.8% in his 11th year on the ballot.  I alway thought of Trammell (and Lou Whitaker) as very good players, but not great ones.
  • Bernie Williams debuted at 9.6%.  Another guy who was a good player, but not a Hall of Famer.
  • Several players were dropped from future consideration after falling below 5%.  Who would have ever guess that Juan Gonzalez would spend only 2 years on the Hall of Fame ballot.
  • Eric Young achieved his goal and received a vote.  Just one, but better than 4 time All-Star Ruben Sierra, Jeromy Burnitz, Terry Mulholland, Phil Nevin, Brian Jordan, and Tony Womack.