The results are in! After a month of open balloting, the unofficially official middle reliever Hall of Fame Class of 2020 is set!
As a reminder, this project opened at the end of last month. I decided that, while closers and designated hitters are (finally) getting their due in Cooperstown, it’s time for the game’s true unsung heroes to get recognition: You know, the LOOGY’s. The submariners. The failed starters and/or failed closers.
That’s right: The middle relievers.
You can read a more detailed account of the methodology I used to create the ballot, as well as a look at the ballot itself, in my earlier post.
Now, however, it’s time to reveal the results of all the voting, as well as what happens with this project next.
With 30 players on the ballot, we unfortunately did not have anyone receive over the 75% threshold to reach induction. We did have four players below 15%, so they will be eliminated from consideration on future ballots.
Below are the results, which can also be sorted on this spreadsheet.
Octavio Dotel: 69.5%
LaTroy Hawkins: 60.9%
Arthur Rhodes: 60.9%
Jesse Orosco: 58.3%
Jeff Nelson: 53.6%
Chad Bradford: 49.7%
Mike Stanton: 49%
Rafael Betancourt: 48.3%
Mike Timlin: 46.4%
Grant Balfour: 37.7%
Norm Charlton: 37.1%
Ricardo Rincon: 35.1%
Jesse Crain: 32.5%
Shigetoshi Hasegawa: 30.5%
Mark Eichhorn: 27.2%
Michael Jackson: 24.5%
Al Hrabosky: 24.5%
Larry Anderson: 20.5%
Jason Frasor: 19.2%
Damaso Marte: 19.2%
Steve Kline: 17.9%
Mike Gonzalez: 17.9%
Clay Carroll: 17.9%
Ray King: 16.6%
Paul Assenmacher: 15.9%
Luis Ayala: 15.9%
Gary Lavelle: 14.6% (Off Ballot)
Bob Locker: 14.6% (Off Ballot)
Steve Reed: 13.9% (Off Ballot)
Dave Veres: 9.3% (Off Ballot)
The top-five vote getters don’t surprise me, as they are probably the most recognizable names on this list, and each of them had incredible longevity. I don’t think they are the five best pitchers, however, as the top pitchers in ERA+ were Crain (32.5%) Eichhorn (27.2%) and Bradford (49.7%).
Voters seemed to value total innings pitched, which I can understand, although Hawkins and Rhodes actually have the two lowest ERA+ marks of the group at 106 and 109, respectively, despite earning the second and third most votes.
Three players on this ballot had a career ERA below 3.00: Locker, Carroll, and Lavelle. Locker and Lavelle both failed to garner the 15% necessary to remain on the ballot, while Carroll snuck by with just 17.3%. Not sure if that is indicative of the voters’ view on ERA as a measurement of success for middle relievers or bias against guys who pitched in older eras.
Strikeout rate also seemed like a good predictor of success on this ballot, as the top-five in K percentage (Dotel, Gonzalez, Betancourt, Balfour, and Marte) all remained on the ballot, and three of them received over 35% of the vote.
That could be in part to voters leaning toward more recent players, a trend that hurt the candidacy of qualified candidates like Eichhorn, Carroll, and Andersen, who each had excellent stats in middle relief roles but who did not have the traditional strikeout numbers, or name recognition, of others on the ballot.
Well, everyone will remain on the ballot for 10 voting cycles, just like the real Hall of Fame, except that instead of a 5% threshold to remain on the ballot I have set the minimum at 15%, which only seems fair considering there is no rule limiting the number of pitchers someone can vote for.
That means that Gary Lavelle, Bob Locker, Steve Reed, and Dave Veres will fall off the ballot—but everyone else will remain.
Additionally, since we are following the HOF’s rules about a five-year waiting period for induction, next year’s class will include three newcomers who all retired after the 2016 season: Matt Thornton, Javier Lopez and Joel Peralta.
And lastly, I gave an option for folks to submit write-in candidates—and if the player is eligible I will include them on next year’s ballot. Here is who you all wrote-in, and which ones will be added for 2021:
Will be added for 2021
And then here are the other write-ins who were not eligible:
Arthur Rhodes (Already on the ballot)
B.J. Ryan (Doesn’t qualify as a middle reliever)
Billy Wagner (Doesn’t qualify as a middle reliever)
Brian Wilson (Doesn’t qualify as a middle reliever)
Darren Oliver (Doesn’t qualify as a middle reliever)
Neal Cotts (under 500 games played)
Duane Ward (under 500 games played)
Evan Meek (under 500 games played)
Les Lancaster (under 500 games played)
Mike Adams (under 500 games played)
Pat Mahomes (under 500 games played)
Ramiro Mendoza (under 500 games played)
Sam LeCure (under 500 games played)
Ted Wilks (under 500 games played)
Jim Konstanty (under 500 games played)
Tyler Clippard (Still active)
Tony Watson (Still active)
Joe Smith (Still active)
Thanks to all of you who voted. This has been a sincerely fun project and one I hope to continue to do every offseason. Hopefully, we can get some inductees next year, but I mostly enjoy the conversation and the evaluation of a group of baseball players history tends to forget.
Feature Graphic Designed by James Peterson (Follow @jhp_design714 on Instagram & Twitter)