Last year, 44.3 percent of voters thought one of the very best baseball players in baseball history should be in a museum dedicated to the very best baseball players in baseball history. This still does not make sense. This will never make sense.
There is hope, though. There is hope.
According to the indefatigable Ryan Thibodaux, who tracks public (and privately revealed) Hall of Fame ballots, it looks like there’s a trend for Barry Bonds voting. It’s going up. After finishing at 44.3 percent last year, Bonds is currently at 69 percent.
[studio audience whoops]
Which is a nice change.
[studio audience laughs and applauds]
While it doesn’t look like Bonds will get in this year, I assumed his chances of getting in over the next five years were roughly in line with Edgar Renteria’s. But 69 percent is just six percent away from induction, and that’s almost within the margin of error where you can start actually hoping for a surprise this year. Almost.
Even before the increase in public support, things were already looking better than I thought. From Jay Jaffe, who took some time away from his normal beat to write about the Hall of Fame:
Still, another gain on par with this year (for Bonds and Roger Clemens) will push them past 50%, a mark that points toward their eventual enshrinement.
If Bonds gets above 60 percent in his fifth year of eligibility, that bodes exceptionally well for his eventual enshrinement, even with the rule changes that give players just 10 years on the ballot instead of 15.
Some caveats: Last year’s ballot tracker overestimated Bonds’ support by nearly seven percent. The crumbly grouches who don’t reveal their ballots and don’t write about the Hall of Fame — or baseball in general, really — tend to break against Bonds. These are the people who don’t enjoy explaining their rationale, which means they’re complete freaks. Writers usually enjoy explaining in great detail why they chose the chicken over the pasta for an in-flight meal.
The goofballs who vote for the Hall of Fame and don’t care enough to discuss it are truly bizarre creatures. So it makes sense that they don’t think Bonds is a Hall of Famer, if in a nonsensical kind of way. And it also means that we shouldn’t get attached to that 69-percent mark. It’s a little too nice to be true.
But the trend is up, up, up. Jeff Passan thinks that Bud Selig’s induction has given enough writers an aw-screw-it pass to make a difference. The evidence is anecdotal, but compelling. Selig didn’t run steroids out of baseball because they were good for business and no one really cared at the time. Can’t stress that enough. People were mad when a reporter noticed a tub of androsterone out of Mark McGwire’s locker and asked questions. There were even hot takes from pro-McGwire columnists that have been lost to the shadows of early-era internet, I promise. So if that Selig guy can get in, what about the players who were a product of the era he fostered?
Seems like a question that didn’t need to be asked, but we’ll take what we can get. And what we might get is Barry Bonds, Hall of Famer. A few years later than it should have been, but I wasn’t expecting this much progress, so I’ll shut up. The trend is encouraging.
One of the very best baseball players in baseball history just might be in a museum dedicated to the very best baseball players in baseball history. That would sure be a sensible development, alright.