We’re a few short days away from 2016 so it’s a good time to look back at the top 25 baseball stories of 2015. Some of them took place on the field, some of them off the field and some of them were creatures of social media, fan chatter and the like. No matter where the story broke, however, these were the stories baseball fans were talking about most this past year.
Until this year, once a BBWAA member became eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame he or she got that vote for life. That meant that a great many voters who were no longer covering baseball — including many who never really covered baseball in a meaningful way — got a vote. Editors who oversaw baseball writers for a time. People who covered baseball for a few minutes during the Carter Administration but later went on to do other things.
As a result, a large portion of the Hall of Fame electorate was not comprised of experts in the field. Indeed, it was comprised of people who had less of a professional reason to keep up with baseball than many non-voters. It was just a club, really, out of which one could never be kicked despite their lack of engagement with the game. All the while getting to make baseball’s most important historic calls.
That changed in July when the Hall of Fame decided that BBWAA members who were more than ten years removed from actively covering the game would be taken off the voting rolls. It’s estimated that around 130 of the 650 active voters were removed from the pool.
Now that the dead wood is out, it’s possible that we’ll see some significant changes in the vote totals of some of the holdover candidates when results are announced for the 2016 Hall of Fame class next week. At least if the assumption that older voters are more likely to be harder on newer candidates or candidates with PED associations is true. This may not catapult Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens to Cooperstown, but it could give Tim Raines a decent bump in his second-to-last year on the ballot and could put Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza over the top and into the Hall.
Now, if the Hall of Fame would allow all BBWAA members to vote, and not just those with ten years of experience, we’d really be getting someplace. In the meantime, we’ll take this as a solid step forward.