The Hall of Fame voting will be revealed at 2 p.m. EST today. From their showings on the ballots that have been publicly revealed, four players are almost certain to make it in; a whole mess are guaranteed to fall well short. There is only one borderline player, and he'll be the only remaining drama in the official announcement: Will the greatest hitting catcher of all time enter Cooperstown this year?
You can see all of the already-known ballots on the indispensable Baseball Hall of Fame Vote Tracker; roughly one-third of the total ballots are available, up from the one-quarter that we used to make yesterday's predictions. Pedro Martinez (98.40%), Randy Johnson (98.93%), and John Smoltz (87.70%) are locks. Craig Biggio (83.42%) should get in—the difference between the exit polling and the final totals rarely ends up being high enough to drop him below the 75-percent threshold.
Tim Raines (65.24%) and Jeff Bagwell (62.03%) are unlikely to make up enough ground, and no one else is even close.
That leaves Mike Piazza, who, as of right this moment, appears on 75.94 percent of publicly revealed ballots. He'll need 75 percent for induction. It's going to be very, very close, but I don't think he's going to make it.
Piazza's numbers are unimpeachable, and would be even if he hadn't spent his career at a traditionally weak-hitting position. His candidacy suffers from playing in a cartoonish offensive era, but he still manages to stand head and shoulders above his inflated peers. No, if Piazza has to wait another year to get in, it'll be because of that contingent of voters who believe—based on rumor and hearsay and, above all, Murray Chass citing back acne—that Piazza benefited from the use of banned PEDs. Maybe he did! There's no evidence, but I wouldn't be shocked if he and everyone else on this ballot doped. (I also wouldn't particularly care. Once you remember that just as many pitchers were doping as were hitters, and even if you apply a subjective PED handicap to his totals, Piazza's still a hall of famer.)
Still, today won't be the day for Piazza. The exit polling here is self-selecting, and the voters who have chosen to reveal their ballots tend to skew younger, more realistic, and less likely to punish players for their own bitter PED hang-ups. The codgers who refuse to vote for Piazza because they think he cheated are not the ones being counted by the Vote Tracker. We've seen this play out in the past—the players with PED suspicions attached to them are the ones whose totals drop from the polls to the final tally. And Piazza can't afford the drop he's likely to take.
So, Mike Piazza will probably have to wait one more year. 2016 should be a good class, though—he'll join first-timer Ken Griffey Jr. in Cooperstown, and very possibly Bagwell and Raines, both of whom appear primed to receive significant increases in support from last year to this.