Barry Bonds needs to more than double the percentage of the vote he got last year to gain election to the Hall of Fame. (Ben Margot/AP)
The following article is part of my ongoing look at the candidates on the BBWAA 2014 Hall of Fame ballot. For a detailed introduction to JAWS, please see here.
As previously noted, this year's BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot contains 17 holdovers, players who received at least 5.0 percent of the vote last year and haven't yet spent 15 years on the ballot, as well as 19 newcomers. Here At JAWS Central, I've always felt that every candidate deserves a review, and I've already run through several of this year's new names. Below you'll find the schedule of how I'll address the candidacies of the holdovers plus the top seven newcomers to the ballot. That schedule is subject to revision and if it is revised, I will post an update, but I will get to all 24 of those players before ballots are due on Dec. 31.
Especially after having studied the modern history of the voting (which in my eyes begins in 1966, when it returned to an annual basis), it shouldn't be taken as a given that the population of voters and interested onlookers has made its mind up about every candidate. New voters gain eligibility, old ones fall away and perspectives change over time, augmented by outside events and new information.
In the field of sabermetrics, you can bet that there's no shortage of new info to digest. Hit and home run totals may stay the same, but our best estimates of how to measure player value shift, slightly or radically, from year to year. This past one saw Baseball-Reference.com (whose version of Wins Above Replacement JAWS uses) and FanGraphs agree on a unified replacement level that forced a minor recalibration of my system — far less extensive than the previous year's shift from Baseball Prospectus' Wins Above Replacement Player (which uses different offensive, defensive and pitching inputs as well as a slightly different scale), but a recalibration just the same.
Since those estimates constitute the foundation of my process, I will be cycling through each holdover candidate again here at The Strike Zone. While the outline of each player's career hasn't changed — Jack Morris still has 254 wins and Game 7 of the 1991 World Series is still in the books — his outlook relative to the field of candidates may have. Therefore, while the part of each post that retraces a player's career will be largely remain the same, I will be updating each entry to reflect last year's voting results as well as additional research and changes to WAR.
Via the schedule that editor Ted Keith and I have hashed out, we'll work through the holdover candidates in order of the percentage of votes they received this past year before tackling the remaining new candidates, and I'll update with the appropriate links once they've been published. Below you will also find my Hall-related posts that examine a way to fix the backlog of candidates, the best Hall class ever and more.
Nov. 26: Introduction to JAWS
Nov. 27: Sean Casey, Paul Lo Duca, Richie Sexson, J.T. Snow
Nov. 28: Moises Alou, Jacque Jones, Ray Durham
Dec. 2: Armando Benitez, Erig Gagne, Todd Jones, Mike Timlin
Dec. 3: Hideo Nomo
Dec. 4: Craig Biggio (68.2 percent in 2013) and Jack Morris (67.7)
Dec. 5: Jeff Bagwell (59.6) and Mike Piazza (57.8)
Dec. 6: Tim Raines (52.2) and Lee Smith (47.8)
Dec. 9: Curt Schilling (38.8) and Roger Clemens (37.6)
Dec. 10: Barry Bonds (36.2) and Edgar Martinez (35.9)
Dec. 11: Alan Trammell (33.6) and Larry Walker (21.6)
Dec. 12: Fred McGriff (20.7) and Mark McGwire (16.9)
Dec. 13: Don Mattingly (13.2), Sammy Sosa (12.5) and Rafael Palmeiro (8.8)
Dec. 16: Greg Maddux
Dec. 17: Frank Thomas
Dec. 18: Tom Glavine
Dec. 19: Mike Mussina
Dec. 20: Jeff Kent
Dec. 23: Luis Gonzalez
Dec. 26: Kenny Rogers
Dec. 30: How to fix the candidate backlog problem
Dec. 31: My 10 choices for the Hall of Fame
Jan. 2: Top 10 BBWAA classes ever
Jan. 3: Most overlooked players not on current ballot
Jan. 6: All-One-And-Done Team
Jan. 7: What took these guys so long to get in?
Jan. 8: Your guide to Election Day
Jan. 8: Reaction to Hall of Fame announcement
Jan. 9: Looking ahead to next year's ballot
Jan. 10: What to expect on ballot the next five years