Some Frequently Asked Questions about BBWAA voting:
What do BBWAA members vote for?
BBWAA members vote for four annual awards in each league: MVP, Cy Young, Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year. The BBWAA created these awards. BBWAA members also vote for the Hall of Fame.
Which BBWAA members vote for the annual awards?
Two writers from each MLB city are recommended by the local chapter chairman and approved by the national secretary-treasurer to vote for each award. Writers from NL cities vote for NL awards, and writers from AL cities vote for AL awards, making 30 voters for each award. Most traveling beat writers will vote for at least one annual award each year. In some chapters, columnists or backup writers may also vote. Any active member of the BBWAA is eligible to vote for annual awards, regardless of his or her number of years in the organization. Some Honorary members may also vote.
What about national writers?
Most national baseball writers who are active BBWAA members will vote for annual awards. Typically, the writer votes in the chapter where he resides, but sometimes national writers vote as part of smaller chapters that don’t have enough qualified voters.
Why are some members prohibited from voting?
Some news outlets, like the Los Angeles Times and New York Times, have policies prohibiting their writers from voting because of a perceived conflict of interest.
Can a writer vote for more than one award in the same year?
Yes. Beat writers may be asked to vote for two or even three awards, especially in chapters with fewer voters. Writers in two-team markets may even vote for awards in both leagues. Most writers vote for just one award each year.
When does the voting take place?
Voters submit their ballots before the start of the postseason.
How many names are on the ballot?
For MVP, there are 10 spots on the ballot. For Cy Young, there are five. For Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year, there are three. A writer may not split a spot on the ballot between two candidates.
How is the voting counted?
For all awards, there is a point system that is weighted by the spot on the ballot. For the MVP, a first-place vote is worth 14 points. From second to 10th, the ballot spots are worth 9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 points, respectively. For the Cy Young, the points are 7-4-3-2-1. For the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year, the points are 5-3-1.
Who tabulates the votes?
Jack O’Connell, the BBWAA’s Secretary/Treasurer, counts the votes shortly before the winners are announced in November.
Is the voting secret?
The BBWAA began releasing full voting results on its web site in 2012. Prior to that, voting information was provided, upon request, to members, and published on the web site in cases of high interest, like the 2010 AL Cy Young and 2010 AL MVP. You can also search public ballots by the name of the writer using our voter database.
How are the finalists chosen?
The finalists, typically revealed about a week before the announcements of the winners, are merely the candidates who finished in the top three spots in the voting. They are not the only candidates who were eligible for the awards.
There seems to always be a debate about the definition of the MVP. What does the ballot say?
There is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means. It is up to the individual voter to decide who was the Most Valuable Player in each league to his team. The MVP need not come from a division winner or other playoff qualifier.
The rules of the voting remain the same as they were written on the first ballot in 1931:
1. Actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense.
2. Number of games played.
3. General character, disposition, loyalty and effort.
4. Former winners are eligible.
5. Members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team.
You are also urged to give serious consideration to all your selections, from 1 to 10. A 10th-place vote can influence the outcome of an election. You must fill in all 10 places on your ballot. Only regular-season performances are to be taken into consideration.
Keep in mind that all players are eligible for MVP, including pitchers and designated hitters.
How is the pool of Hall of Fame voters different?
In order to be eligible for a Hall of Fame vote, a writer must be an active member of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years. Once a writer receives a Hall of Fame vote, he is eligible to continue voting even when he is no longer an active member of the BBWAA, provided he becomes a lifetime honorary member. In 2015, voting privileges were limited to 10 years beyond active membership.
Does that mean some Hall of Fame voters don’t even cover baseball any more?
Yes. The BBWAA trusts that its voters take their responsibility seriously, and even those honorary members who are no longer covering baseball do their due diligence to produce a thoughtful ballot.
Why don’t broadcasters or former players get to vote for the Hall of Fame?
The board of directors at the Hall of Fame is responsible for choosing the best way to select honorees. Currently, they have decided that the BBWAA is the body best-suited to vote, but the Hall of Fame board is free to make changes as it sees fit. The BBWAA selects players, not managers, executives or umpires. They are chosen by the Veterans’ Committee.
How many BBWAA members vote for the Hall of Fame?
In 2018, there were 425 ballots returned. There had been more than 500 voters before a 2015 change that limited voters to 10 years beyond active membership.
What does the Hall of Fame ballot include?
About 30 players are selected by a special, six-member screening committee, which pares down the list from all those who meet the eligibility requirements. Writers may vote for up to 10. The following instructions are included on the ballot:
Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.
When does Hall of Fame voting take place?
The ballot is released in late November. It must be returned by Dec. 31.
Who tabulates the votes?
O’Connell, with the assistance of a representative from the accounting firm of Ernst & Young. The results are announced in January.
How many votes are required for induction?
A player must be named on 75 percent of the ballots returned to be elected to the Hall of Fame. Blank ballots count toward the overall total, but unreturned ones do not.
Does the BBWAA make public the ballots of individual writers?
Starting in 2011, BBWAA.com has published partial lists of voters who voluntarily revealed their ballots. Those can be found here
How do you become a member of the BBWAA?
The full membership requirements are in the BBWAA constitution. Essentially, you must be a beat writer, backup writer, columnist or sports editor from a newspaper or wire service that covers Major League Baseball on a regular basis. Membership has been expanded to include web sites on a case-by-case basis. For information email email@example.com.
See O’Connell discuss the Hall of Fame voting process in this video…