What is it that Bert Blyleven, after 13 years of coming up short in the Hall of Fame voting, did this year to gain the necessary 75 percent of votes required for induction? Why did Roberto Alomar, who came up eight votes short in 2010, garner 90 percent of the vote in his second year of eligibility? The way the Hall of Fame voting is conducted, and the method to the madness, is confusing the fans everywhere, especially when votes fluctuate so much from year to year.
In 2010, Seattle Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez garnered 36.2 percent of the vote. One year later, Martinez’s vote count dropped as he lost just over three percentage points. But why? What has he done between last year and this that should cause his votes to dip? Voters have 10 spots on their ballot, so it’s not that his vote went to another deserving player.
Look at Bert Blyleven, who finally hit the 75 percent threshold for induction in 2011, 13 years after he first became eligible. For years, his vote total hovered well below the numbers needed to make the hall. Yet a late surge, as his 15-year clock was running out, propelled him into the Hall of Fame on Wednesday. His statistics never changed and his accomplishments remained, but why did it take 13 years for the BBWAA to realize he was worthy?
With no established criteria, writers are able to vote using their own methods. The diversity of the BBWAA means vastly different criteria and definitions of what a Hall of Fame player is. Part of that is the beauty of the process, but part is the foolishness of it all. Writers routinely punish players based on their own ideas of what the Hall of Fame is, protecting first-ballot inductions like a prize or making players earn their way into the hall by waiting years.
It doesn’t add up and the method to the madness doesn’t make sense.