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    Wednesday, January 25, 2023

    Scott Rolen Snags a Hall of Fame Plaque, Plus a Breakdown of the Rest of the Results

    The Hall of Fame announced the results of the BBWAA election on Tuesday. With 76.3% of the vote, third baseman Scott Rolen will be joining Veterans Committee selection Fred McGriff on the Cooperstown stage this summer.

    This is exciting news, for a lot of reasons. First of all, Rolen is a strong selection, and was deserving of induction years ago (2023 was his sixth ballot). He’s easily one of the top ten third baseman of all-time, with a top-fifteen bat and a top-five glove, the kind of two way star at the position only matched by Mike Schmidt and Adrián Beltré. In fact, “top five at third base” might be underselling his skill with the leather; Total Zone Rating, for instance, puts him twenty-fifth all-time in runs saved, across all positions. Having over 2000 hits, 300 homers, and 500 doubles on top of that is just icing on the cake.

    Before moving on, feel free to take a minute and review some of Rolen’s defensive highlights:

    Beyond just that, he helps bolster Cooperstown at third base, easily the position the Hall is the thinnest at. Rolen is only the eighteenth third baseman to be elected, the fewest at any position besides Designated Hitter, and just the tenth to earn the nod from the BBWAA. And on top of all of that, Scott set a new record; after debuting with just 10.2% of the vote back in 2018, he has now supplanted Duke Snider as the Hall of Famer who had to climb the furthest to gain the writers’ nod (Snider started at 17% and took eleven tries before winning their approval). It’s a good sign of all the ways the voting body has become more willing to re-evaluate players that they’ve initially underestimated.

    If you were following the pre-announcement ballot tracking, you might have seen that things looked a little dicey for Rolen’s chances. He was trending downwards in the last days before the announcement, and it looked like he needed some good luck to make it over the finish line. In my last piece, I noted that he would likely need to reach at least 50% among writers who don’t reveal their vote (a group where he failed to crack even 35% in 2022). Jason Sardell, who’s done some great work forecasting these results over the last few years, even had Rolen missing on his final projections.

    But in the end, Rolen ended up clearing the 75% bar with a little room. Not much (he had 5 votes to spare, the closest election since Iván Rodríguez made it by just 4 votes back in 2017), but that’s better than it looked like he would do for a while, and it seems to indicate that he had healthy support among private voters.

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      We won’t know the exact numbers of how he did among private voters for a little bit, since some voters will inevitably release their ballots in the coming days and the Hall itself will publish the ballots of anyone who didn’t opt out in early February. However, I’m doing some back-of-the-envelope calculations, and it seems almost certain that Rolen’s percentage among private voters jumped at least 22%. Depending on how he does among late-public voters, he might have even come close to a 25 or 26 point improvement.

      In that last piece, I noted that players who crack 60% of the vote overall (excluding the obvious outliers like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens) tend to see a noted increase in support among private voters the following year, in a way that wasn’t particularly apparent when they hit, say, 50%. This is especially the case as of late, the further we move from the 2013-era ballot logjam, and I think that Rolen’s election provides more evidence to that idea.

      The Rest of the Ballot

      Friday, January 20, 2023

      The Final Countdown to the 2023 Hall of Fame Announcement: How Are Things Shaping Up?

      We are less than a week from learning the results of the 2023 Hall of Fame election; the official announcement is next Tuesday at 6 PM Eastern Time. Voters have continued revealing their ballots, and the Ballot Tracker team has continued tabulating the early releases, so where do we stand now, since the last time I talked about this just over two weeks ago?

      Well… mostly in the same place. The candidates are basically still in the same order.Their vote percentages are generally close to where they were. And at the top, even when there is minor fluctuation, it’s stable; Scott Rolen and Todd Helton are basically +10% and +22% over where they were in 2022, moving up and down at basically the same times.

      So basically, we don’t have that much more information than we did two weeks ago. Ballot reveals have kind of slowed down, and likely won’t pick up again until right before the announcement. At the moment, it’s difficult to imagine Rolen and Helton not finishing pre-release around 80%, which has historically been a good indicator for election. Except that both of them (Rolen in particular) are especially vulnerable to the whims of the remaining unknown ballots, which is why most projections have them teetering right around that 75% cutoff point for induction.

      See, for those of you who didn’t read my last breakdown, one of the ways that we can look at the Hall of Fame voting nowadays is by when we learn of their ballots. Of the 400 or so voters in the BBWAA pool each year, a little over half will reveal who they voted for at any point prior to the results. Another 30% will reveal who they voted for, but not before the official results are revealed, and the remaining just-under-20% will never say. Generally, that’s also the order for how stingy each group of voters is; players will see their overall percentage of yeses decrease from early voters to late voters to private voters.

      And it’s also what’s making predicting these two so hard; they’re incredibly dependent on late and especially private voters. The late public voters are a little less of an issue; it’s not unreasonable to expect them to generally follow along with the early ones. Helton has had the two finish close together in his four years on the ballot (last year was the biggest gap, with him performing 7.1% better with early voters).

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        Monday, January 2, 2023

        Scott Rolen's Early Hall of Fame Results Are a Mixed Bag

        We’ve finally passed the end of 2022, which conveniently also serves as the final day of Hall of Fame voting. We still won’t be seeing the results until January 24th, though, so that leaves us plenty of time to follow Ryan Thibodaux’s Ballot Tracker and see if we can predict the end results.

        At the time of this writing, there are just over 100 ballots that have been released, which is a little over a quarter of the final tally. Heading into the 2023 election, it seemed like Scott Rolen was poised to lead the pack; he reached 63.2% of the vote last time, and everyone ahead of him either was inducted last time (David Ortiz) or aged off the ballot (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens). Carlos Beltrán would be joining the ballot, but he long seemed like the kind of candidate that would need to stick around for a few years and work his way up to 75%.

        And, sure enough, that’s about where we are at the one-quarter mark: Rolen leads with 80.6% of the vote, Todd Helton has moved up to second at 78.6%, and Billy Wagner and Andruw Jones are also both around 70% (at 70.9% and 69.9%, respectively). Gary Sheffield (67.0%) and Beltran (57.3%) are also having strong showings, but I want to mainly focus on that bunch in the 70s and 80s, since 75% is what’s needed for Hall induction.

        I was a big fan of Rolen’s growing up (he was my favorite third baseman to watch, which as you can maybe tell from the site’s name, was a big deal to young-me), so I’ve been pulling for his induction for years now (I can find articles where I referred to him as a future Hall of Famer dating all the way back to 2010, at the very least). Plus, I’ve been saying for about four years now that 2023 looks like it could be the year that he’s finally inducted, so it would be nice to see all of that pay off.

        But what exactly are his chances of making it this year? A lot of the time, the ballot tracker is pretty intuitive, but there are a lot of complicating factors here. So let me walk you through my thought process: