Trevor Hoffman is a future Hall of Fame closer. At least that’s what everyone is saying after he finished just five votes short of joining Pudge, Jeff Bagwell, and Tim Raines in the 2017 Hall of Fame class.
To his credit, Trevor Hoffman has taken the razor thin disappointment about as well as you could expect. Not that you’d expect anything but pure class from the guy, but there are other Hall candidates voicing their complaints by making jokes at fake Sidney Ponson… so it’s worth pointing out Hoffman’s attitude. Wednesday on the Darren Smith Show, he even hinted at a possible 20 year reunion, in Cooperstown, for the 1998 Padres. That would be sweet.
What’s not sweet is how Hoffman came up just five votes short of induction. A lot of people have been quick to point out the eight ballots that included Hoffman in 2016, but not 2017. I’m actually not that annoyed by those votes, since ballot gridlock, a five-percent threshold for future consideration, and a newly-introduced ten year ballot limit simultaneously a) may have pushed Hoffman down to 11th, b) may have caused voters to throw a few rogue votes hoping to prop up “in the conversation, sorta” players for future consideration, and c) made Tim Raines an absolute must for the ballot this year.
I get that, if that’s what happened.
But that’s not what actually happened. Sure, some public ballot revealers openly stated Hoffman was 11th on their list, but that isn’t the main culprit.
The main culprit – stop me if you’ve heard this hot take – is East Coast bias. No, seriously! And no, I’m not even talking about Everything Supports Patriots Nation’s absurd “notable players” list on Outside the Lines that omitted Trevor Hoffman:
According to Ryan Thibodaux’s tracker, 243 ballots (out of 442) were made available publicly. Of those 243 known ballots, 66 of them omitted Trevor Hoffman, giving Hoffman 72.7% of the known vote going into the announcement on Wednesday. Needing 75% and ending with 74%, Hoffman clearly was bogged down by the voters who revealed their ballots early.
Here’s a complete list of the voters who voted against Trevor Hoffman and their location. Note that the location might be slightly off for some, but this was based on what I could find publicly through wikipedia, Twitter, and recently published work:
|C. Trent Rosecrans||Cincinnati|
|Tom Keegan||Kansas City|
|Sam Mellinger||Kansas City|
|Jeff Passan||Kansas City|
|Rick Plumlee||Kansas City|
|Joe Posnanski||Kansas City|
|Peter Botte||New York|
|Larry Brooks||New York|
|Pete Caldera||New York|
|Murray Chass||New York|
|Ken Davidoff||New York|
|Mark Feinsand||New York|
|Mark Hale||New York|
|Anthony McCarron||New York|
|Eric Nunez||New York|
|Steve Popper||New York|
|Mike Puma||New York|
|Mike Shalin||New York|
|Joel Sherman||New York|
|Mike Vaccaro||New York|
|George Willis||New York|
|Andrew Baggarly||San Francisco|
|Mark Purdy||San Francisco|
|Willie Smith||South Carolina|
|Mark Saxon||St. Louis|
|Mike Berardino||St. Paul|
|Phil Miller||St. Paul|
|Peter Barzilai||Washington D.C.|
Notice any trends? Amazingly, there were 14 ballots from the Boston area – more on this later – alone that omitted Trevor Hoffman. Another 15 New York ballots omitted Hoffman. Only 6 West Coast ballots omitted Hoffman.
This is not insignificant. In fact, using Fisher’s Exact Test – a statistical method to determine the “rarity” of a contingency table in a random sampling – we see that the revealed Boston vote is very statistically significant, with a two-tailed P value of .0041. If you aren’t familiar with what the P value means:
If there really is no association between the variable defining the rows and the variable defining the columns in the overall population, what is the chance that random sampling would result in an association as strong (or stronger) as observed in this experiment?
In other words, the Boston/Not Boston contingency table is very unlikely if the null hypothesis, that Boston voters are not different from non-Boston voters, is true:
And while New York had 15 no votes, they also had 30 yes votes: a statistically insignificant P value of 0.3682. California, meanwhile, was somewhat biased in Hoffman’s favor, but not enough (P = 0.0966) to definitively conclude anything:
Outside of statistically biased Boston, Hoffman got the required 75.6% of votes needed for induction. In fact, if just 65% of the known Boston ballots voted in Hoffman’s favor, he would have been inducted.
But that’s not even what makes the vote an East Coast sham.
What I really want to talk about is how the fuck Boston, with one baseball team, has roughly 10% of the entire electorate. As you can see, a whopping 26 (10.7%) of all revealed ballots originated from Boston Red Sox territory. There were dudes with votes from obscure newspapers scattered all across New England. Writers from newspapers in Framingham (20 miles away from Boston), Worcester (about 50 miles), and Hartford (keep going)… and then some dude that covers UConn basketball in New Haven, ESPN.com’s Boston Bruins hockey analyst, a couple editors in the Boston area, and like six people each from the Boston Globe and Boston Herald.
That’s 26 from just the known votes for one baseball team spanning a population center of roughly 14 million people. And yet Southern California, home to three baseball teams and a population of over 22 million, has just 9 of the 242 known ballots. Proportionally, the Southern California teams receive just 1/9th the representation as the Boston Red Sox.
If writers in Framingham or Hartford and hockey writers get a vote, where’s San Bernardino’s Dodgers representative? Does Bakersfield have a voter? To make all things even, we’ll need to get a vote for the Santa Barbara News-Press sports editor, at least three votes for Lee Jenkins, and then make it rain with votes for former North County Times scribes and all the Chargers-turned-Padres writers the UT now possesses. Hey, if Crayonepa can do it, Kevin Acee and Michael Gehlkin sure as hell can.
What ticks me off the most, though, isn’t that Hoffman didn’t get inducted, since there’s a really high probability that happens next year. It’s that we all know that as soon David Ortiz hits the ballot, Bawb Wyan and the rest of the Boston mafia will instantly forget the Wins Above Replacement arguments they’ve made against Hoffman. Instead, they’ll say their their spherical, roiding DH deserves to enter the Hall despite trailing many fellow sluggers they left off their ballots in WAR: Gary Sheffield (by 12 wins), Edgar Martinez (by 15), Larry Walker (by 18), and Barry Bonds (by 2.3 David Ortiz careers).
What else would you expect from the B(oston)BWAA?
I think the thing you really hit on here is how ridiculous, as a whole, the voter group is. People who haven’t covered baseball in years or *barely* cover baseball somehow get a HoF ballot. I know they’ve taken some steps to clean this up of late, but it’s not good enough. The voter group should really be trimmed further, and more online people should get a vote right away, without having to wait 10 years (not that that would necessarily help Hoffman’s cause). I’d be interested to see the geographical breakdown of the entire voter group.
Also, since I’m here, I disagree about Ortiz, but whatever. He’s a borderline candidate by regular/WAR numbers, but he gets a major boost for postseason performance and the whole “fame” thing.
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