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A deeper look at the Hall of Fame ballot & who could get elected

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The announcement will come tonight.

MLB: MLB: Baseball Hall of Fame-Induction Ceremony Detroit Free Press-USA TODAY NET

Tonight, the National Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the results of its 2018 Hall of Fame balloting, voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). You can watch full coverage of the results at 5 p.m. CT on MLB Network and MLB.com. I would like to think that all of the debating will come to a halt at that point, but it’s more likely to stoke a new fire for disagreements.

For the last five years, I’ve been a member of the Internet Baseball Writers’ Association of America (IBWAA). You are probably wondering why the IBWAA exists and just what we do, right?

The Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA) was created July 4, 2009 to organize and promote the growing online baseball media, and to serve as a digital alternative to the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).

The IBWAA votes for Cooperstown in December, and during September of each championship season holds elections for the Most Valuable Player, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year Awards. In 2010, the IBWAA began voting in its own relief pitcher category, establishing the Rollie Fingers American League Relief Pitcher of the Year and the Hoyt Wilhelm National League Relief Pitcher of the Year Awards.

In other words, with print media withering away and digital becoming the norm, we are a different voice in the baseball discussion. While membership is smaller, the IBWAA does consist of such notable writers as David Schoenfield, Jon Heyman, Will Leitch, Pedro Moura, Ken Rosenthal, and Eno Sarris.

We hold our elections around the same time and have already elected a few players who are still on the BBWAA ballot. Edgar Martinez was voted into our Hall of Fame in 2016 (with his former teammate Ken Griffey, Jr.) and last year we voted in Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Mike Mussina. Because of that, none of those players show up on my list for this year (although I voted for all of them whenever they have appeared on the ballot).

The other difference is that we can vote up to 15 players on our HOF ballot, while the BBWAA is left with only 10 spots. On the surface it doesn’t feel like a huge difference but with a loaded list of players, those five extra spots come in handy. With that being said, here is my ballot, as I ended up voting for 11 players:

My 2019 IBWAA Hall of Fame ballot

Roy Halladay

Todd Helton

Andruw Jones

Roy Oswalt

Manny Ramirez

Mariano Rivera

Scott Rolen

Curt Schilling

Gary Sheffield

Billy Wagner

Larry Walker

Obviously, I am a proponent of a big Hall of Fame. I have certain parameters that I go by when voting, but all of it is statistical driven (I do not care about PED use. If you want to know why, you can read this). Some of these are self-explanatory, while a few votes need more detail. If you want to read the in-depth version of my ballot, click here (and I go really deep for a number of the candidates, FYI).

For full disclosure, I added Andruw Jones and Roy Oswalt on my ballot as they have very borderline cases and I didn’t want to see either fall off. Jones is rightthere for me, as his elite defense was combined with some very productive offensive seasons. Oswalt could go either way and his case is one that I feel should be discussed a bit longer, no matter if you believe he is or is not a Hall of Famer.

So those are my votes. But how will the official voting go down for the induction into Cooperstown this upcoming summer? So far 52.7% of the BBWAA ballots have been made public and four players are currently over the 75% threshold needed to get inducted: Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez and Mike Mussina.

Rivera, Halladay and Martinez are all above 90% of the vote and look to be locks at this point. Mussina is checking in at 81.6% and would appear to be a close call. He needs to be on 67.7% of the remaining ballots and has gained 18 votes from returning writers on last year’s ballot. If he misses out, he isn’t going to miss out by very much. Most players see a decrease on their final numbers compared to where they are polling just a few days before the big announcement.

So it looks like we are guaranteed at least three new inductees this summer and possibly a fourth to go along with the Today’s Game Era Committee elections of Lee Smith and Harold Baines. If that is the case, expect a busy afternoon of speeches in upstate New York this July.

The beauty of this process is that we should constantly be re-evaluating who deserves this honor and listening to the arguments people have to why that is. I know I have changed my mind on players over the years and I’m sure it will change again in the future. We are living in a statistical age where we have access to the information to decide who is worthy and who falls just short. To me, baseball is better when we honor these great achievements and welcome them with open arms. The more the merrier, as they say.

Who will be voted in tonight? Who do you think should be in?