Pollis: How much do BBWAA’s secret ballots matter?

From SABR member Lewie Pollis at Beyond the Box Score on January 9, 2013:

Two years ago, as I was was looking through some Hall of Fame vote trackers, I stumbled upon something curious: the totals from the publicly released ballots didn’t match up with the final results. I thought this warranted further investigation, so I crunched some numbers and found that there were indeed some major discrepancies in the voting—specifically, that public voters were more likely to check the boxes for better Cooperstown candidates and less likely to support questionable picks than their more secretive peers.

When I repeated my study following the 2012 Hall of Fame announcement I identified a similar trend. Not only were there major discrepancies in how the two groups of voters judged certain players, but there was a clear relationship between how qualified a candidate was and how differently he was viewed by the two groups.

This year, after the BBWAA announced that it had failed to elect anyone from the most loaded ballot of my lifetime, I sat down with the BBWAA’s official list of publicly released ballots (as of Wednesday evening the BBWAA had 102 listed; Repoz’ and leokitty’s lists have more, but Repoz does not list individual ballots and not all of leokitty’s ballots are confirmed as complete) in hopes of finding that something had changed. With so many complex issues on this year’s ballot—steroids, the existence of more than 10 reasonable choices, the steady momentum in support we’ve seen for some longtime candidates—I thought perhaps putting one’s name on his or her ballot wouldn’t have as big of an impact.

Boy, was I wrong.

Read the full article here: http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2013/1/10/3857368/2013-baseball-hall-of-fame-vote-how-much-do-bbwaas-secret-ballots

Originally published: January 10, 2013. Last Updated: January 10, 2013.