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Historic Hall of Fame Class

I'll be in the middle of my actual full-time, paying job when the BBWAA officially announces the 2015 Hall of Fame class. I might sneak online to find out who made it, but no posts until well after the news breaks.

And there will be news. The 2015 vote will be historic, one way or another. There is significant drama going into the announcement too! Allow me to expand and explain.

Lots of voters reveal their ballots before the official announcement, and thanks to the internet, those are collected and gleaned for preliminary voting results. Think of them as an exit poll of sorts in politics - the very same exit polls that allow publications to call elections well before all the votes have been counted.

I kept track of the voting results over the past few weeks and developed a quick, simple computer program to glean a player's Hall of Fame odds. The methodology was rather simple. I simply asked how likely a player was to actually have the support of at least 75% of the actual BBWAA body based on the results in so far. The method assumes a random sample of the population (in this case, the BBWAA), which is actually rather problematic (more on that later) but not problematic enough to stop me from sharing the projected odds I have going into the official announcement:

Hall of Fame Odds (out of 100)
87 BALLOTS106 BALLOTS183 BALLOTS
Randy Johnson100100100
Pedro Martinez100100100
John Smoltz100100100
Craig Biggio9399100
Mike Piazza838758
Tim Raines3500
Jeff Bagwell37250

These were the only seven players with a chance at enshrinement after 87 ballots.

Like I already mentioned, this class will be historic. There will be a minimum of four members elected with a legitimate chance at a fifth member. Five members in one year would tie the all-time record, which was set in 1936 - the very first year of the Hall of Fame, and still the greatest class ever. Just to remind you, that first inducted class was Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson. This year's class is on the cusp of going into the history books with that legendary group. Let that sink in for a second. It is legitimately epic and awesome.

However, my method assumes the public votes available right now are a random sample of the BBWAA voting body. That's a very dangerous assumption, so dangerous that I would say it is a poor one to make. Voters who make their ballots public don't just post their picks - they must also defend their picks. It's much easier, for instance, to vote for Nomar Garciaparra and Don Mattingly while omitting Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez if you keep your ballot secret. These kinds of ballots are exceptional, but they pop up every year, and they are rarely (if ever) published. They are outliers for sure, but they still count, and unaccounted for in my method. In the cases of Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz, and Biggio, these odd ballots won't make a difference. In the case of Mike Piazza, however, every vote is going to matter, and it's those odd balls that lead me to believe his odds of enshrinement are actually closer to 50%, if not less than 50%.

Tomorrow will be a tremendous day for Major League Baseball. The only question is how great it will be. I have complained like many others about the ballot glut, but the voters are about to go a long ways towards fixing it. They should go farther, but beggars can't be choosers. We will get to celebrate a historically large Hall of Fame class and we should all be Mike Piazza fans tomorrow, especially those of us waiting for Edgar's turn. Clear out that ballot so 'Gar gets the recognition he deserves!