2020 Hall of Fame Ballot
On November 18, 2019, the Baseball Hall of Fame released the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) 2020 Hall-of-Fame ballot. This article looks at the candidates on the 2020 Hall-of-Fame ballot. This is the eighth year for which I have written such an article: see 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 for my previous articles (although the numbers in these articles are a bit dated as I re-worked some of my calculations this past summer.
Over the next few weeks, I will be writing (fairly brief) articles on each of the players on this year's Hall-of-Fame ballot. These articles will be linked at the end of this article as they are posted.
The first table of this article looks at the 32 players on the ballot as measured by Player won-lost records. In a separate article, I looked at players already in the Hall of Fame and Hall of Merit and how their careers look measured by Player won-lost records. In that article, I identified Willie Stargell as perhaps the most typical Hall-of-Famer as measured by Player won-lost records and Reggie Smith as a fairly typical player in the Hall of Merit but not the Hall of Fame. I have included Stargell and Smith in the table below to give some sense of how this year's candidates compare to existing Hall-of-Fame (and Hall of Merit) standards.
|2020 Hall of Fame Ballot
Player Won-Lost Records, sorted by pWORL
|Cliff P. Lee|
For people who have been following along with Hall-of-Fame voting over the past several years, the big story, I think, with the 2020 ballot is that the immense ballot crunch of the past several years is essentially finally over. "Big Hall" sorts of voters may still see a dozen or fifteen players on the current Hall-of-Fame ballot who they could, perhaps, see voting for. But the situation is nothing like what it was just a few years ago.
To review, for those who don't pay as close attention to these things as I do, the 2013 Hall-of-Fame ballot included eight players who have subsequently been elected to the Hall of Fame, as well as five players who remain on the ballot even today, including the top 4 returning vote getters from 2019. In spite of all of that star power, nobody was elected by the BBWAA in 2013. Note that this was not for a lack of a willingness of voters to elect people, there was just no consensus over who should be elected.
In 2014, then, there were 17 holdover candidates from the 2013 ballot who, in 2013, had received a combined 6.29 votes per ballot. In addition, four players debuted on the 2014 Hall-of-Fame ballot who have subsequently been elected to the Hall of Fame (three of them on the first ballot) as well as Jeff Kent, who remains on the ballot here in 2020. The BBWAA voting requirements limit voters to 10 selections. As you can see, 6.29 returning players plus 4 new Hall of Famers don't fit onto a 10-man ballot.
But from 2014 - 2019, the BBWAA elected 20 players over six ballots (with the Veterans' Committee adding another four players over the past two years), dramatically easing the ballot crunch. In 2020, there are only 14 returning players, and those players only received an average of 4.08 votes per ballot last year. Moreover, there is probably only one future Hall-of-Famer debuting on the 2020 ballot (you know who he is) and probably no more than about three serious candidates (Abreu and Giambi have arguments; the next strongest candidate is perhaps Cliff Lee, who, while a fine pitcher for a few years, who deservedly won a Cy Young award, is almost certainly not a Hall-of-Famer).
If the average voter only has four holdover votes from 2019 and only perhaps two new candidates he might be inclined to vote for, that leaves plenty of space to add a holdover candidate or two or three who the voter might have always thought was Hall-of-Fame worthy, but perhaps only the 11th- or 12th-most qualified candidate (or even 8th- or 9th-best as some voters hold themselves to personal ballot caps of even fewer than ten names).
Hence, as a general rule, I would expect players' vote totals in 2020 to fairly represent the full universe of Hall-of-Fame voters who find them to be deserving of induction. This is not to say that this year's vote total will represent a ceiling of support for any of these candidates. Hall-of-Fame voters have always been open to persuasion and have frequently changed their mind about the worthiness of a candidate: it just took Mike Mussina six ballots and Edgar Martinez ten ballots to be elected by the BBWAA and not all of the delay for these two was because of the aforementioned ballot crunch.
Rather than use this article to make predictions about how the players on this ballot will fare in voting, I am going to make such predictions in my articles about the individual candidates. Instead, the last section of this article allows you to choose a custom set of weights by which to rank this year's Hall-of-Fame candidates for yourself.
The Individual Players on the 2020 Hall of Fame Ballot
Over the next several weeks, I will write up an article about each of the 32 players on the 2020 Hall of Fame ballot. For the most part, these will not be advocacy articles: plenty of other people will post plenty of those. But hopefully, they will be interesting articles that may reveal something new and/or interesting, or at least a little fun, about these players, using Player won-lost records. I hope you enjoy them.
Links to these articles will be added to this article as these articles are posted.
2020 Modern Era Hall of Fame Ballot
2020 BBWAA Hall-of-Fame Ballot
Ranking the 2020 Hall-of-Fame Candidates
To conclude this article, then, I allow the reader to create his or her own personal "uber-statistic" and I create a ballot based on that. The structure of the "uber-statistic" here mirrors my uber weights page on the website. I wrote an article discussing the weighting choices which can be found here. I have also written a more extensive discussion of comparing players using Player won-lost records which is a 53-page PDF file which can be found here.
I would recommend reading both of those articles. But let me briefly walk through the weighting options here.
The first set of weights choose the time period over which positional averages are calculated. Positional averages are discussed in great detail in the PDF file referenced above and are discussed more briefly here.
Weights are multipliers here, so if, for example, you want to treat all positions equally, you should choose position weights of 1 for all positions. If you assign something a weight of zero, it will be omitted from the calculation (so, for example, giving the DH a position weight of 0 would exclude any Player wins, losses, etc. earned by players as a DH).
I calculate Player won-lost records two ways: pWins are tied to team wins and are context-dependent; eWins are expected Player won-lost records and control for context and teammate quality.
There are four basic measures: wins, which are the basic output of my system; wins over positional average (WOPA), which compare a player to average, accounting for the position(s) he played; wins over replacement level (WORL), where replacement level is set one standard deviation below average; and wins over star (WO*), where "star" level is set one standard deviation above average. That is WORL gives a player credit for below-average, but not terrible performance, while WO* only gives credit for performance that is not only above-average, but is well above average.
The last three of these four measures - WOPA, WORL, and WO* - can be negative. One can choose to zero out negative values if one would like. This would avoid penalizing players for individual poor seasons, which mostly tend to happen either early or late in a player's career.
One can weight the numbers based on the positions a player played. The two articles mentioned above discuss some possible bases for varying these weights.
I calculate Player won-lost records for postseason games in the same way as I calculate them for regular-season games. I provide the user the option of whether or not to include postseason games in the calculations and what weight to give them. Entering a zero here would ignore postseason values of the relevant statistic.
Finally, one can normalize all seasons to the same number of games. For this set of players, this mainly affects the strike seasons of 1981, 1994, and 1995.
The default weights presented here weigh pWins and eWins equally (value of 0.5 for each), give zero weight to Wins and WO*, with weights of 1.0 for WORL and 1.5 for WOPA, zero out negative values, include postseason decisions with a weight of 1.0 (i.e., one postseason game has the same weight as one regular-season game), give all positions a weight of 1.0 except for catchers, which get a weight of 1.15, and normalizes all seasons to 162 games. Any boxes which you leave blank will simply maintain their most recent previous value.
Enter whatever numbers you'd like and click "Go". Enjoy!
Choose Weights for Uber-Statistic to Rank 2020 Hall-of-Fame Candidates
Willie Stargell and Reggie Smith are included (in bold) as an average Hall-of-Famer and a typical non-HOF player in the Hall of Merit, respectively. Candidates on the Modern Era Committee ballot are shown in italics.
All articles are written so that they pull data directly from the most recent version of the Player won-lost database. Hence, any numbers cited within these articles should automatically incorporate the most recent update to Player won-lost records. In some cases, however, the accompanying text may have been written based on previous versions of Player won-lost records. I apologize if this results in non-sensical text in any cases.
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