Pollis: How secret ballots skewed the 2014 Hall of Fame election results

From SABR member Lewie Pollis at Baseball Prospectus on January 9, 2014:

The year was 2011. I was a green-behind-the-ears aspiring sabermetrician who would pore over every little piece of baseball-related data I could get my hands on in an attempt to better familiarize myself with the numbers. So as I sat on a Greyhound bus with nothing better to do on a dreary January afternoon, I found myself looking over some pre-announcement ballot counters for the newly minted Cooperstown class of 2011.

As my gaze moved back and forth between the spreadsheets and the fogged-up bus window, I gradually came to a realization: the writers who made their Hall of Fame ballots public had voted differently than those who kept their choices secret. Not only that, but from my perspective, those who opened up about their picks had voted more correctly than those who remained anonymous. This phenomenon occurred again in 2012, and then again in 2013.

Now that the 2014 results have been released, we’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the influence of secret ballots on the Hall of Fame vote seems to be smaller than it was last year. The bad news is that secret balloting still very much matters, and this year it actually seems to have made a difference in the results.

Last year on its website the BBWAA posted a list of every voter who made his or her ballot public shortly after the results were announced, but as of this writing they have not yet done so. Instead, I copied down the last pre-announcement vote totals from Baseball Think Factory’s HOF Ballot Collecting Gizmo and leokitty’s collection of ballots few minutes after the results were announced; using these lists of ballots instead of the BBWAA’s is not ideal for this exercise, since Baseball Think Factory does not list individual ballots and leokitty does not have listed sources for all of hers, but since the two had virtually identical results they seemed like acceptable alternatives. I used Baseball Think Factory’s numbers for this analysis because its Ballot Collecting Gizmo had more ballots (205 ballots to 184).

Read the full article here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=22531

Originally published: January 9, 2014. Last Updated: January 9, 2014.