For all of the controversy and verbiage regarding this year’s Hall of Fame ballot, there exists the very real possibility that none of the 37 players will muster the necessary 75 percent to gain election, which would result in the first BBWAA vote shutout since 1996. Between the unusually large slate, differing opinions over how to handle candidates linked to performance-enhancing drugs, general first-ballot squeamishness and an old-school/new-school split with regards to sabermetrics, it appears that no player has as overwhelming a consensus as he may need, at least according to the two widely recognized online straw polls. Of the 114 ballots tracked by the Baseball Think Factory’s 2013 Hall of Fame Ballot Collecting Gizmo, no candidate has more than Craig Biggio’s 67.5 percent, while both Biggio and Raines have 69.4 percent of the 85 individual ballots tracked by the blog The Girl Who Loved Andy Pettitte.
The BTF sample represents almost 20 percent of last year’s vote total; if the same number of ballots were cast as last year (573), Biggio would need to bring home 76.9 percent of the as-yet-unreported ballots. That’s not an impossibility for a player with the near-automatic marker of 3,000 hits, but it’s no guarantee either. The other candidates polling above 50 percent — Jeff Bagwell (65.8 percent), Mike Piazza (63.2 percent), Tim Raines (62.3 percent) and Jack Morris (61.4 percent) — would all need somewhere in the 77-78 percent range from the outstanding ballots. Again, not an impossibility, but perhaps less likely given that none of them has a similar milestone marker. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, who are both polling at 44.7 percent there, would need 82.5 percent among the unreported votes, which in this polarized environment clearly isn’t going to happen.