Malinowski: A farewell to the players dropped from the Hall of Fame ballot

From SABR member Erik Malinowski at Sports on Earth on January 7, 2016:

One of my favorite bits of baseball trivia is that Steve Blass, the once-great Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher who mysteriously succumbed to a version of the pitching yips that sometimes bears his name, actually received two Hall of Fames votes during his one and only year on the ballot in 1980. I don’t know who the pair was that voted for him or why they did, but it’s a nifty thing because it shows that anyone can get that kind of momentary recognition, even if they showed up at Spring Training one year utterly incapable of throwing a strike.

But the rules are the rules, and if you don’t get at least 5 percent of the vote — or 22 votes, since 440 ballots were cast this year — then you’re gone the next time around. Sometimes it takes a player a few years to slowly drop off, but the real shame is those who only get one bite at this particular apple. Often, it’s wholly deserved, but there is always a player or two you wish had stuck around for at least a couple of more voting cycles. (You never know what can happen when a player becomes a ballot mainstay. In his first year in 1998, Bert Blyleven got 17.5 percent. He actually went down the next year to 14.1, but eventually gained election on his 14th try.)

So here we shall remember those who shan’t be returning for the 2017 ballot, when Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell seem to be near-shoo-ins at this point and Vladimir Guerrero graces the voting sheet for the first time.

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Originally published: January 7, 2016. Last Updated: January 7, 2016.