I was recently reviewing this year’s Hall of Fame class and attempted to handicap each candidate’s probability of being elected. That got me to thinking about what it means to be elected to the Hall at any given time.
Is it easier to get in on the first ballot today or not? To get in within the 20 years, when his candidacy on the writers’ ballot expires and he must pass to the Veterans’ Committee? Is it easier to get in within the first five years of a player’s candidacy or the last five? Is someone more likely to get elected after, say, 10 years on the writers’ ballot or after going on the veterans’ ballot?
First, I took a look at the length of time it took a player from a given era to get into the Hall. Here are the ground rules: First, a player must have been active in the majors for at least ten years. That eliminates Addie Joss, for whom they bent the rules, as well as Monte Irvin and Satchell Paige, who were elected largely for their play in the Negro Leagues. Second, the player must have gone in as a player, not a manager, executive, or any other capacity.
One other complication is that the first class was in 1936 and encompassed all players who retired before that year. The first year of eligibility for this class is 1936, but the first year thereafter is 6 years after the player retires.
Next, I categorized players by decade in which they retired. I then banded the number of years the player had to wait: first year, by the tenth year, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25, 26-50, and greater than 50.
Ok, so here are the percentages of players elected to the Hall by retirement decade and the number of years they had to wait: