The National Baseball Hall of Fame mailed out its ballots this week for voting that runs through Dec. 31. I always find it to be one of the hardest — if not the hardest — assignment that I have all year.
I know many other voters feel the same way.
Where do you draw the line? Not everyone is an obvious choice like Mariners icon Ken Griffey Jr., who set a record season when cited on 99.3 percent of the ballots.
Some years, I’ve only found that one or two candidates deserved the honor. Other years, it seemed it wasn’t fair that I could only vote for 10. As trite as it might sound, I agonize over these selections.
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Here’s your turn.
Again this year, The News Tribune is offering everyone the opportunity to simulate the experience by participating in our online Hall of Fame balloting. We did this last year, and more than 1,800 people participated.
The results, with a few notable exceptions as you can see below, roughly mirrored the actual balloting.
The instructions here are a reproduction of those I received as one of roughly 400 members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America who qualified to participate in the balloting.
The actual ballot is a simple piece of copy paper, 8 1/2 by 11 inches, like those I once rolled into a typewriter. No special paper stock or embossing. Just a single piece of ordinary paper to determine who gets to join the game’s greatest players.
I always think of it as part of the charm. A link to the past.
What you see here is a much slicker presentation, thanks to the technical genius of Ian Swenson, our assistant managing editor for digital. What remains the same is the difficulty in determining who deserves your vote.
Election to the Hall of Fame requires that a player be cited on 75 percent of the returned ballots. A year ago, BBWAA and TNT voters independently determined only two players — Griffey and catcher Mike Piazza — merited election.
What about this year?
Here’s your chance to wrestle with the bedeviling question regarding candidates who played during the height of the game’s steroid era. Some players on this year’s ballot were caught and suspended. Others were merely suspected.
Again, where do you draw the line?
The ballot consists of 34 candidates, including 15 players who received the necessary support a year ago — being cited on 5 percent of the ballots — to return for another chance. Candidates are limited to 10 years on the ballot.
This is the last year for closer Lee Smith and outfielder Tim Raines.
Designated hitter Edgar Martinez, another Mariners icon, is in his eighth year on the ballot. Martinez received 43.4 percent last year in the BBWAA balloting. His support among TNT voters, not surprisingly, was significantly higher.
Remember: You can vote for a maximum of 10 players. See if you struggle with it as much as I do.
A LOOK BACK AT 2016
Last year, we asked TNT readers to fill out their own ballots. Over 1,800 people submitted ballots. Just like the BBWAA, our readers elected the pair of Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza. Below is a chart of how many percentage points the readers differed from from the BBWAA ordered by the largest difference.