Sandomir: A flawless swing, but three votes shy of a perfect ballot

From Richard Sandomir at the New York Times on January 6, 2016, with mention of SABR members Bill Deane and Jay Jaffe:

Consider the honor roll of Baseball Hall of Famers who were not elected unanimously.

Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb. Bob Feller and Ted Williams. Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Joe DiMaggio. Mickey Mantle. Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson. And many more.

No player has been named on all the ballots of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in the nearly 80-year history of Hall of Fame voting.

Ken Griffey Jr., who was elected along with Mike Piazza on Wednesday, was the latest candidate pegged as a possible unanimous selection. He had everything that would merit a perfect vote: stellar statistics, a joyous personality and no suspicion of using performance-enhancing drugs.

Minutes before the Hall’s announcement, the online BBHOF Tracker reported that Griffey was the unanimous choice of 213 members of the group who had publicly divulged their choices. But the tracker, which is run by Ryan Thibodaux, was an imperfect leading indicator of perfection.

“The few that won’t vote for Griffey won’t go public with their ballots, or they’d have to answer for it,” Bill Deane, a baseball historian, said hours before the vote was announced.

Indeed, Griffey fell three votes short of unanimity, appearing on 99.3 percent of the 440 ballots, exceeding the previous record of 98.84 percent, set by Tom Seaver in 1992.

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