Past, Prologue and Piazza

Now that a week has passed since the Hall of Fame voting results for this year were announced, you may be sick of hearing about the voting. Or maybe you've simply moved on. So if you don't want to read about it anymore, feel free to move on. Personally, I wanted to get beyond the comments of how the system is flawed (maybe) or the writers are flawed (some of them, absolutely) and discuss historic voting patterns, especially for catchers, and see how this could be used to read the tea leaves for Mike Piazza's chances for election.

Baseball Reference lists only thirteen catchers in the Hall. Let's eliminate the five elected by the Veterans Committee and it predecessor, the Old Timers Committee. So, Roger Bresnahan, Buck Ewing, Rick Ferrell, Ernie Lombardi and Ray Schalk, you are officially excused. This leaves eight catchers inducted by BBWAA voting: Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Gary Carter, Mickey Cochrane, Bill Dickey, Carlton Fisk and Gabby Hartnett. Here are their rankings by JAWS. (For reference, I have included bWAR and WAR7, the two components of JAWS.)

Player bWAR WAR7 JAWS Rank Inducted

Johnny Bench 75.2 47.2 61.2 1 1989
Gary Carter 69.8 48.2 59.0 2 2003
Carlton Fisk 68.3 37.6 53.0 4 2000
Mike Piazza 59.2 43.1 51.1 5 --
Yogi Berra 59.3 36.8 48.1
6 1972
Bill Dickey 55.9 34.2 45.0 7 1954
Mickey Cochrane 52.1 36.9 44.5 8 1947
Gabby Hartnett 53.3 30.3 42.5 10 1955
Roy Campanella 34.2 32.8 33.5 25 1969

Incidentally, Ivan Rodriguez (not yet eligible) ranks third among catchers in JAWS; Ted Simmons, who got only 3.7% of the votes in his one year on the ballot, ranks ninth.

Now let's take a look at how they have done in the balloting:

Player Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Year 6 Year 7 Year 8 Year 9 Year 10 Year 11

Johnny Bench 96.4

Gary Carter 42.3 33.8 49.7 64.9 72.7 78.0

Carlton Fisk 66.4 79.6

Mike Piazza 57.8 62.2

Yogi Berra 67.2 85.6

Bill Dickey 6.9 12.2 19.8 32.2 42.5 46.4 52.2 59.4 67.8 80.2
Mickey Cochrane 35.4 10.2 37.8 50.6 24.7 79.5

Gabby Hartnett 0.8 1.0 1.2 27.3 22.9 32.1 25.2 32.9 39.4 59.9 77.7
Roy Campanella 57.2 65.2 69.9 72.4 79.4

The numbers are percentage of overall votes. The year in which a player was elected is shown in bold.

Suddenly, Piazza's two years don't look so bad. Bench remains the only catcher elected on the first try. Only Fisk and Berra made it on the second try. The real surprise here is why Carter took so long to get in. As a direct contemporary of Fisk, it is difficult to explain why Carter needed six ballots and why his vote total went down so much in his second year until you look at who did get in. Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Robin Yount were all elected on the first ballot, with Ryan and Brett each getting more than 98% of the vote. (It was Fisk's first year on the ballot as well.) But most of the time, eventual inductees get higher percentages from year to year. Piazza in 2013 got a higher percentage of the vote than any catcher than Bench, Berra and Fisk. Piazza's percentage this year was exceeded in second year voting by Berra, Fisk and Campanella. Moreover, Piazza and Craig Biggio were the only two major holdovers from last year to have an increase from the year before. So, personally, I am not too worried about Mike Piazza not getting elected into the Hall of Fame this year. Even with new blood arriving each year, Mike seems well positioned for eventual enshrinement, even if we can't be certain of the year. It's also hard to see scenario in which Biggio doesn't make up those two votes next year. I would be more concerned about Jeff Bagwell, though.

This FanPost was contributed by a member of the community and was not subject to any vetting or approval process. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions, reasoning skills, or attention to grammar and usage rules held by the editors of this site.

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