Daily Distractions: With Hall of Fame ballots due tonight, will Don Mattingly remain eligible?

Don Mattingly

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly batted .307 in 14 major-league seasons and won nine Gold Glove awards at first base. (Getty Images)

Baseball Hall of Fame ballots are due tonight. As we’ve previously noted, former Dodgers Hideo Nomo, Eric Gagne, Jeff Kent, Luis Gonzalez, Greg Maddux and Paul Lo Duca are all on the ballot for the first time. Manager Don Mattingly, hitting coach Mark McGwire and former catcher Mike Piazza are still hanging on.

Many ballots have already been released publicly and the folks at BaseballThinkFactory.org (among others) are keeping tabs on all of them. Remember, a player needs to appear on 75 percent of ballots to be inducted to the Hall, and 5 percent of ballots to remain eligible (for up to 15 years).

While Nomo, Gagne, Lo Duca and Gonzalez have no chance of induction in this or any year, the same can’t be said for the others. Mattingly debuted on the ballot in 2001 and appeared on 28.2 percent of the ballots in his first year. He’s had an interesting journey since, garnering votes from 9.9 percent of the electorate in 2007 then rebounding to 17.8 percent in 2012.

But a 2014 Hall class featuring several statistically qualified candidates (including Maddux, Frank Thomas and holdover Craig Biggio) could count Mattingly among its victims. BaseballThinkFactory.org has Mattingly listed on 4.6 percent of the 87 full ballots to be revealed so far. McGwire (11.5) and Kent (12.6) are teetering toward extinction, while Piazza (73.6) is teetering toward induction.

Maddux has been listed on every ballot so far. No player has been a unanimous selection in the Hall’s history.

Mattingly — and McGwire, for that matter — doesn’t expect to be elected. If he falls off the ballot, it might amount to nothing more than a brief spring-training conversation topic.

Some bullet points for a New Year’s Eve:

• On the 41st anniversary of Roberto Clemente‘s death, it’s time to revisit some historic anecdotes about the former Dodgers prospect.

• The Dodgers are launching a new blog next week.

• Like a fine wine, Jamey Wright only gets better with age. FanGraphs.com explains how.

• If ground-ball pitchers are the hottest thing in baseball, wouldn’t it make sense to stack your lineup with fly-ball hitters? Welcome to the Oakland A’s new favorite market inefficiency. (FWIW, Nick Punto‘s career fly-ball rate is 31.2 percent, below the 2013 league average of 34.3 percent.)

• The expectations have been lowered for Dee Gordon; can he meet them?

• Which of the Dodgers’ off-season signings qualifies as one of the winter’s most underrated?

• Happy 30th birthday to Ronald Belisario.

• Just blinked and realized it’s been — gasp! — 10 years since The Knife first released “Heartbeats” as a single. Could this be the most (successfully?) covered pop song in the last decade?

The Knife – Heartbeats from Johannes Nyholm on Vimeo.

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