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Early Hall of Fame Voting Hints at the 2017 Class

With about 35% of the ballots revealed to date, the 2017 Class is taking shape.

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 Hall of Fame inductees will be announced on January 18th, and as in prior years, Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrTibbs) is tracking ballots as they are made public.

As of this writing 151 ballots have been announced (including 6 anonymous ones). That’s roughly 35% of the 435 or so ballots that are expected to be cast.

At least 5% is needed in order to get another chance on next year’s ballot, and players can stay on the ballot for up to 10 years (with the exception of Lee Smith who was grandfathered when the limit was reduced from 15 to 10, and is now in his 15th and final year).

To be inducted, players need to be named on at least 75% of the ballots cast, and in the first 151 that have been released, several players are above or near that 75% threshold.

Virtual locks:

Jeff Bagwell (7th year) - 94.0%
Tim Raines (10th and FINAL) - 90.7%

Looking very good:

Ivan Rodriguez (1st) - 85.4%

On the cusp:

Vladimir Guerrero (1st) - 77.5%
Trevor Hoffman (2nd) - 71.5%

Likely to fall short this year:

Edgar Martinez (8th) - 70.9%
Barry Bonds (5th) - 70.2%
Roger Clemens (5th) - 70.2%
Mike Mussina (4th) - 63.6%

Phillies Connections

Curt Schilling (5th) - 54.3%

Schilling has a few years to hope voters come to focus more on his career than his social media shenanigans. In addition, there are three first time candidates on the ballot with Phillies connections: Pat Burrell, J.D. Drew, and Matt Stairs. And without a single vote among them, they will likely drop off the ballot.

Who will make it this year?

The public ballots are a pretty good indicator of the final vote, but not a perfect one. Voters who choose to keep their ballots private tend to be older and more traditional, and their voting can differ as a result. They’re less likely to vote for players suspected of PED use, or those whose candidacy depends on advanced stats. But they are more likely to value counting stats, and closers.

Below is a graph of last year’s voting, comparing votes on the public vs. private ballots.

The red dots show how much less likely (or more likely) players were to appear on private ballots, vs. public ones. For example Mike Mussina was on 49% of the public ballots, but only 34% of the private ones, a reduction of 32%. On the other hand, note Trevor Hoffman towards the right, who got 65.1% on public ballots, but 70.4% an increase of 8%. His final vote ended up 3.8% higher than his public ballots.

So one rough way to estimate final vote totals is to take the public % and assume the final vote will vary from the public ballots the same way it did last year.

Bagwell and Raines each dropped about 6% from the public ballots to the final vote last year, and even with that kind of drop they would both be comfortably over the threshold.

IRod would need to suffer more than a 10% drop to fall below 75%, so he looks good so far and has a very good shot at induction on his first ballot.

Vlad doesn’t strike as someone who will see a big drop in the private vote, so if he stays above the 75% level on the public ballots he also has a good shot to be a first ballot Hall of Famer.

If Hoffman’s final percentage is 3.8% higher than on the public ballots, like it was last year, he will be right around 75%.

I’d be surprised if there are fewer than three inductees next July, and it’s possible there could be as many as five.