Not every Hall of Fame voter chooses to disclose their ballot to the public. Following years of scrutiny over bone-headed voting, writers have slowly been pressured to reveal their votes to the public. The BBWAA has put them all in one place for us. Click on the link and you can see how incredibly wrong some of the top writers in baseball voted.
Lewis over at Beyond the BoxScore decided to take this information and run the numbers. He found that the difference between candidates who opted to make their ballot public and those who did not is pretty stark. He writes:
Some of the results are pretty similar. Rafael Palmeiro and Alan Trammell’s numbers are off by a fraction of a percent, and Mark McGwire, Jeff Bagwell, and Fred McGriff’s discrepancies are small enough to ignore. And ultimately both groups elected Barry Larkin (and only Larkin) to Cooperstown.
But the other candidates? Not so much. Check out the guys on top. Don Mattingly and Jack Morris were clearly evaluated more cynically by those who released their ballots than by those who didn’t. Same goes for Bernie Williams and Lee Smith. And, down at the bottom, you’ll find the man with the biggest discrepancy on the ballot:Tim Raines. Compared to public ballots, he lost more than a vote for every 10 anonymous writers.
Even some of the smaller arithmetical differences are hiding some relatively big proportional disparities. Anonymous writers were more than twice as likely to vote for Mattingly and Juan Gonzalez and over four times as likely to vote for Williams as those who owned up to their ballots. Private voters were also 20 percent more likely to vote for Dale Murphy, and they were 34 percent more likely to vote against Larkin.
It’s not just that the secret ballots were different: it’s that they were worse. The differences between the serious candidates’ public and private ballot numbers had a .592 correlation with wins above replacement (Baseball-Reference‘s version), and a .530 correlation with Adam Darowski’s wWAR. It’s not just a question of stats, either: the vote discrepancies and the results of our BtBWAA mock Cooperstown vote had a correlation of .615. And while the candidates who got more votes from public ballots averaged 73 percent in our election, the players more favored by private voters averaged just 46 percent from us.
I recommend reading the whole post. It’s very interesting. I don’t agree with Lewis that making the ballots public would change anything. I suspect that there are pretty strong demographic differences between the writers who disclose and those who do not. Older, checked-out writers and former writers probably don’t even think about going on Twitter and telling the internet who they voted for. These are the guys still holding on to Jack Morris’ glory days, or keep ignoring Tim Raines year-after-year.
And for the record, if I could vote I’d name Raines, Bagwell, Larkin, McGwire, Trammel, Palmeiro, Fred McGriff, and Edgar Martinez.
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