The Baseball Writers Association of America announced Monday that all Hall of Fame ballots will be required to be made public, starting with the Class of 2018. Revealing ballots remains voluntary for the final time with the 2017 class, which will be announced in January.
Over the past several years, the call to make all ballots public had been growing, as more and more members of the BBWAA had been sharing their ballots, whether on Twitter or through other methods. In 2015, the BBWAA changed their voter rules to try to cut the number of older writers who insisted on keeping private ballots, effectively purging the electorate by about 100 voters. That change helped Ken Griffey Jr. to be elected with the highest percentage in history at 99.3%, eclipsing the previous record held by Mets great Tom Seaver.
The 2017 ballot features 34 retired players, including 19 first-timers such as Manny Ramirez, Ivan Rodriguez, Mike Cameron, and Pat Burrell. Two players are in their final years on the ballot: Tim Raines, who received 69.8% of votes last year, and Lee Smith, who appeared on 34.1% of ballots. Last year, Jeff Bagwell received the highest number of votes without being elected, falling 15 votes short of the 75% required. Only three others appeared on at least half of all 440 ballots—Raines, Trevor Hoffman (67.3%), and Curt Schilling (52.3%).