Voting for the 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame class is ongoing and unsurprisingly, early returns cast Atlanta Braves great Chipper Jones as a virtual lock for first ballot induction.
Before we dive into the specifics, lets refresh the rules for induction. Ballots were mailed out in late November and must be returned no later than December 31, 2017. Players need to appear on 75 percent of the ballots to gain induction. Additionally, players need to receive at least 5 percent of the vote to remain on the ballot for 2019.
While voting results are not made public by the Baseball Writers Association of America, Ryan Thibodaux has provided an excellent resource collecting public and non-public votes for the last five years in his Hall of Fame Tracker.
As of this writing, 107 votes have been collected out of an expected total of 416 in the tracker. Of those, 104 have been public. Chipper Jones leads the way appearing on 98.1% of the vote (105 out of 107) and is followed by Jim Thome (95.3%) and Vladimir Guerrero (94.4%). Edgar Martinez (81.3%) and Trevor Hoffman (79.4%) are the other players who would end up currently gaining induction but there is still quite a ways to go.
It isn’t surprising that Chipper is on track for first-ballot induction. In fact, it was expected. He ranks as one of the best third baseman of all-time in addition to being one of the best switch hitters ever. Per Baseball Reference, Chipper is sixth all-time in WAR among third baseman with 85.0 which is more than 11 other Hall of Fame third baseman.
Some other former Braves are having varying degrees of success according to the tracker.
Fred McGriff (15%, 16 total votes)
This is McGriff’s ninth year on the ballot and has actually picked up two votes from the returning electorate. Still he remains a long way from enshrinement.
Gary Sheffield (11.2%, 12 total votes)
Sheffield is in his sixth year on the ballot and has picked up one vote from the returning electorate
Billy Wagner (10.3%, 11 total votes)
Wagner is in his third season on the ballot and has lost three votes from returning voters.
Andruw Jones (7.5%, 8 total votes)
While it wasn’t expected that Andruw would be in line for first-ballot status his lack of support in the early returns is a bit disappointing although his case was always going to be more controversial. Per Baseball Reference, his career WAR of 62.8 is 14th all-time among center fielders and just behind Hall of Famers Andre Dawson, Richie Ashburn and Billy Hamilton. He is ahead of that trio in Jay Jaffe’s JAWS rating which attempts to measure a player’s Hall of Fame worthiness.
Still, Andruw needs 13 more votes to garner 5 percent in order to remain on the ballot.