2021 Hall of Fame Ballot
On November 16, 2020, the Baseball Hall of Fame released the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) 2021 Hall-of-Fame ballot. This article looks at the candidates on the 2021 Hall-of-Fame ballot. This is the ninth year for which I have written such an article: here is last year's.
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 25 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 earlier versions of 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.
|2021 Hall of Fame Ballot
Player Won-Lost Records, sorted by pWORL
The 2021 Hall-of-Fame ballot strikes me as the first one in quite a while where there is not necessarily an obvious candidate who is certain to be elected this year. Four candidates are returning to the ballot this year after receiving over 50% of the vote last year: Curt Schilling (70.0%), Roger Clemens (61.0%), Barry Bonds (60.7%), and Omar Vizquel (52.6%). All four of these candidates have strong supporters - obviously, given their vote totals last year - but all four also have strong opponents. Bonds and Clemens, of course, have the steroid taint; Schilling offended several writers (i.e., Hall-of-Fame voters) over the last few years with some political comments that some felt crossed a line; and Vizquel has a more traditional opposition - there are a lot of folks who simply don't think that Omar Vizquel's career was good enough for the Hall of Fame.
Beyond the (14) returning candidates, there are no candidates debuting this year who seem likely to be elected to the Hall of Fame in their first year on the ballot. Frankly, I'm not sure there are any who seem likely to be elected to the Hall of Fame in any of their ten years on the ballot, although I would guess that two or three first-year candidates will get enough votes to come back for at least a second try.
As I did last year, I will make specific vote predictions in my articles about the individual candidates. I will, however, offer a bottom-line prediction.
I predict that one player will be elected to the Hall of Fame by the writers this year, Curt Schilling. He was close enough last year that he only needs to gain another 20 or 30 votes and voters should have ample space on their ballots to add one more player: every voter but one included Derek Jeter on their ballot last year and more than 75% also included Larry Walker and there are no obvious first-year candidates poised to fill those now-empty ballot slots.
I suspect that Vizquel - and perhaps two or three other players on this year's ballot - will eventually be elected but I can't seem him converting enough voters this year. As for Bonds and Clemens, I think their ceiling is below 75% and probably will stay below 75% next year, their final year on the ballot.
As for first-year candidates, I see three candidates who could conceivably earn the 5% of the vote necessary to return for a second ballot: Buerhle, Hudson, and Hunter. I would be surprised if any of these three got much more than 5% of the vote. But I think the overall ballot is probably light enough that at least one or two of them can get 5%. I'll be optimistic and predict that all three get 5-10% and make a return appearance on the 2022 Hall-of-Fame ballot.
The Individual Players on the 2021 Hall of Fame Ballot
Over the next several weeks, I will write up an article about each of the 25 players on the 2021 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.
Ranking the 2021 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 1994 and 1995. Starting six years from now, the big impact here will be the 2020 season, of course.
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 2021 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.
Article last updated: December 10, 2020
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.
List of Articles