Ex-Blue Jays beat writer submits confusing Hall of Fame ballot

Former Toronto Star Blue Jays columnist Richard Griffin has submitted his 2024 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot and it's getting plenty of attention, and criticism.

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Sports Contributor Archive 2023 / Tom Szczerbowski/GettyImages

Baseball Hall of Fame voters are often criticised for their selections, and this year is no different. Of particular interest to Blue Jays fans, is the ballot submitted by former Toronto Star beat writer Richard Griffin.

Griffin was with the Toronto Star for 24 years, and has a resume which includes previously doing media relations for the Expos and public relations for the Blue Jays. However, it seems even someone with his extensive experience is not immune to making questionable decisions on their ballot.

Adam Dore of the impressive Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot Tracker for @NotMrTibbs, shared Griffin's 2024 ballot on social media and it admittedly does leave you asking a lot of questions. In a general sense, he dropped three players from his previous ballot despite only using seven of his 10 available votes.

However, what's of particular relevance and interest, are Griffin's decisions in respect of two players with ties to the Blue Jays. More specifically, José Bautista and Mark Buehrle.

The newcomer

Starting with Bautista, there will be those who argue Griffin voting for him is based on bias rather than objectivity. In fact, this is the first vote the former Blue Jays slugger has received on this year's ballot.

There is no denying Bautista's peak between 2010 and 2015 was extremely impressive, with him one of the best players in all of baseball. During this time he was named an All-Star six times, twice led the Majors in home runs, won three Silver Slugger awards and finished top 10 in MVP voting on four occasions.

However, as bright as Bautista's star was, it shone too briefly to be a genuine consideration for the Baseball Hall of Fame. That he even made it onto the ballot for the first time, is an admirable achievement it itself.

At the time of posting, 27.3 percent of the 384 estimated ballots have been submitted (98 pubic and seven anonymous). As things stand, Bautista still needs 19 more votes to reach the required five percent to remain on the ballot after this year.

Again though, it is objectively tough to comprehend Griffin voting for the two-time Hank Aaron Award winner. The sense of rationale becomes even more murky when, as already mentioned, he dropped three players who were previously on his ballot.

Questionable omission

The three players in question, include Carlos Beltrán and Andy Pettitte. Of most significance though, is the omission of Buehrle.

The 2005 World Series champion spent the final three seasons of his 16-year Major League career in Toronto. He proved to be as durable as ever while with the Blue Jays, twice surpassing 200 innings and leading the Majors with four complete games during his final season.

Paul Casella of MLB.com provides a compelling case for why Buerhle should be in the Hall of Fame. However, now in his fourth year of eligibility, he is nowhere near the 75 percent of votes required to be enshrined. (8.6 percent at the time of posting.)

Further, Buerhle still needs 11 more votes to reach the five percent threshold, which only further highlight's Griffin's decision to drop him from his ballot, i.e. it could potentially make all the difference. What changed from last year to this, especially when considering three of 10 votes were still available?

It can only be hoped Griffin is prepared to explain his thought process at some point, although you imagine it will do little to combat the criticism. No matter that Bautista's time with the Blue Jays stood out more, Buerhle's overall Hall of Fame credentials are more impressive and again allude to bias over common sense.

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In any event, the chances of either player ever being voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame seem precarious as things stand. The full results for this year will be announced on Jan. 23, live on MLB Network at 6 p.m. ET.