Well, first of all, there are no full-blooded “winners” on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot. That’s obvious. As predicted, nobody on this year’s utterly loaded ballot received the 75% necessary to be elected to the Hall of Fame.

But a look at the results suggests that some won more than others.  What I will try to do here is spin forward. We know WHY these guys didn’t get elected to the Hall of Fame. What’s more interesting now is: What happens next?

* * *

Craig Biggio
Percentage: 68.2%
HOF Direction: Hard to say.

Part of me says that Biggio was a winner on Wednesday. True, he fell 39 votes shy of 75%, but he had the highest percentage on this crazy ballot and, more to the point, everyone who got 60% or more on their first ballot went into the Hall of Fame in pretty short order.

Rollie Fingers (65.7%), Carlton Fisk (66.4%), Whitey Ford (67.1%), Yogi Berra (67.2%) and Roberto Alomar (73.7%) all made it on the second ballot.

Gaylord Perry (68%) had to wait until his third, Phil Niekro (65.7%) until his fifth.

So, that seems pretty good.

But there’s some bad news here too. When you look ahead, you see that he might not have a ballot this favorable for a long time. With all the PED accusations and whispers, Biggio seemed to stand apart in this group. But that changes next year, when Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine go on the ballot, not to mention Frank Thomas. Then, the year after that, it’s Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz. And the year after that, it’s Ken Griffey Jr., and then it’s Vlad Guerrero and Manny Ramirez.

In other words, there is a chance -- I hope this doesn’t happen, but there is a chance -- that Craig Biggio will get lost the next few years, and people will get used to idea of a Hall of Fame without him.

I hope I’m wrong about that and Biggio is part of a huge class in 2014.

Prediction: Biggio enters the Hall of Fame within five years.

* * *

Jack Morris
Percentage: 67.7% (up 1%)
HOF Direction: Down

Up until about a month ago, I thought this was the year for Morris. But he didn’t really gain any support -- even though he at least became something of a cause (three writers who made their vote public said they voted for Morris and no one else).

Normally I would say that Morris has a great chance to make it next year. But he, like Biggio, like everyone, will be facing a ballot unlike any in baseball history. There are three players -- Maddux, Glavine and Thomas -- who are by almost any view of history first-ballot Hall of Famers. Biggio is so close. Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell are in the shadow of the door, and almost everything Jack Morris did Curt Schilling did better.

The math is problematic. The BBWAA has not elected more than three players in a single season since 1955. And, of course, we’re in an era where there’s so much skepticism.

I think it will be very close. But after today, I’m not sure Morris gets in next year.

Prediction: Morris could be anywhere from 72 to 77% next year. It's that close. I think if he misses he will be elected by the veterans committee within five years, not unlike Jim Bunning.

* * *

Jeff Bagwell
Percentage:  59.6% (up 3.6%)
HOF Direction: Slightly up.

A slow and steady climb … it would be fun to see Bagwell go into the Hall of Fame with Frank Thomas, since they were born on the same day in 1968. I think Bagwell’s numbers will keep climbing, but perhaps not as fast as his fans would like.

Prediction: Hall of Fame 2016.

* * *

Mike Piazza
Percentage: 57.8%
HOF Direction: Up.

I know it doesn’t seem like it, but I think Piazza might have been the winner of the day.  He got almost 60% of the vote in his first year on the ballot. That tells me that the majority of voters are willing to look at his career without skepticism, which is good.

Without skepticism, he’s the greatest hitting catcher in baseball history.

Prediction: I think he will beat Jeff Bagwell into the Hall of Fame. He might beat Craig Biggio too.

* * *

Tim Raines
Percentage: 52.2% (up 3.5%)
Hall of Fame Direction: Up.

Raines jumps the 50% mark … you can sense that his case is beginning to resonate with voters. I don’t know if the upcoming flood of great players will stall his momentum. But for the first time, more people than not see Tim Raines as the Hall of Famer that he is.

Prediction: Raines has nine more years on the ballot. I predict he will get elected, but probably not anytime soon.

* * *

Lee Smith
Percentage: 47.8% (down 2.8%)
HOF Direction: Down

Smith going down was a bit unexpected. It might be due to the blank ballots and protest ballots with only Jack Morris on them … But this was a real setback. I thought after last year he had a shot of building the sort of consensus needed to get up into the 60s, and then he had a real chance of actually getting elected. Going backward hurts a lot.

Prediction: Just four years left on the ballot and a lot of bumpy road ahead … Lee Smith might find himself looking to the veterans committee.

* * *

Curt Schilling
Percentage: 38.8%
HOF Direction: Flat.

I guess that’s about where most people expected Schilling to end up on his first ballot. It’s a higher first-ballot percentage than those of Bunning and Goose Gossage, but lower than Smith's. He’s in no-man’s land, but I think in time his Hall of Fame case will crystallize for the voters.

Prediction: He will get in, but it could take a few years.

* * *

Roger Clemens
Percentage: 37.6%

Barry Bonds
Percentage: 36.2%
HOF Direction: Down. Very down.*

*I predicted that Clemens and Bonds would get precisely the same number of votes … Clemens actually got eight more votes than Bonds. There is a fairly substantial legal difference in their cases, though I imagine that they will be locked together for a long time, Abbott and Costello style.

I said coming in that it would be fascinating to see where Clemens’ and Bonds’ percentages ended up. I have to say: This is very, very low. Clemens got barely half the votes needed for election; Bonds didn’t even get that much.

This tells me that there simply are not enough votes out there for Clemens or Bonds unless the landscape changes drastically. Sure, a few people might start voting for them next year -- there had to be a few “one-year protest votes” on the list -- and I suspect some viewpoints will soften. At the same time, though, there will be some who might start getting used to the idea of a Hall of Fame without Clemens and Bonds, and they might STOP voting their way.

Whatever, I cannot believe there are 200-plus movable votes out there. I’d say Clemens and Bonds are in limbo for the next decade UNLESS:

(1) The Hall of Fame clarifies its position on how it wants players who used steroids to be judged.

(2) A game-changing wave of news hits the wire -- say, proof that 60 or 70% of players in that era used steroids, or unimpeachable medical proof that steroid use didn’t enhance performance as much as presumed.

(3) Several high-profile Hall of Famers are found to have been steroid users.

Or some other game-changer on that level.

Prediction: A lot of screaming, hand-wringing and Comic Sans disappointment from the Rocket. A very, very long time in limbo. Muchie Peachie indeed.

* * *

Edgar Martinez
Percentage: 35.9% (down .6%)
HOF Direction: Down.

When Martinez got 36.2% of the vote his first time on the ballot, I thought that was a really good sign. Players in that range tend to do pretty well.

But, here we are four years in and Edgar is just running in place.  And here’s the bad news: Really, really good hitters are coming onto the ballot. Thomas. Gary Sheffield. Griffey. Ramirez. Jim Thome. Add those to a ballot that already has Bonds and Bagwell and Palmeiro and McGwire and Sosa …

Well, hey, nothing was ever easy with Edgar Martinez. He didn’t play his first full season in the big leagues until he was 27 and dealt with all sorts of injuries until he was 32. His Hall of Fame candidacy will need to wear down the voters. He’s got 11 years.

Prediction: Could be rocky for the next five or more years. I'm still hopeful that people will appreciate just how good a hitter Edgar was as his time on the ballot begins to run out.

* * *

Alan Trammell
Percentage: 33.6% (down 3.2%)
HOF Direction: Down.

It won’t get easier for Trammell now that the big stars are joining the ballot.

Prediction: He has three years left on the ballot, and they are three loaded years. I can’t see him getting even to 50%.

* * *

Larry Walker
Percentage: 21.6% (down 1.3%)
HOF Direction: Flat

He, like Martinez, is just kind of running in place. This might be the only way that Larry Walker is like Edgar Martinez.

Prediction: It’s hard to tell if Walker’s case will ever take off. Right now, signs point toward: No.

* * *

Fred McGriff
Percentage: 20.7% (down 3.2%)
HOF Direction: Down.

It's easy to imagine a scenario where this could have been a big year for McGriff. With all the talk of steroids, here was an old-fashioned power hitter, a thin first baseman with a powerful whippy swing, who hit between 30 and 37 home runs TEN times. He could have been the cause célèbre for all those PED haters.

But … he wasn’t. I’m not sure why. His Hall of Fame case is just not impressing voters.

Prediction: This is only his fifth year on the ballot, so perhaps something in his Hall of Fame story will click.

* * *

Dale Murphy
Percentage: 18.6% (up 4.1%)
HOF Direction: Up. Way up.

Let’s face it, The Murph was never going to make the Hall of Fame on the BBWAA ballot. His career wasn’t quite long enough and his numbers weren’t big enough and, despite his two MVP awards and the period of time during which he was acknowledged as one of the best players in the game, he didn’t have the writer wow factor of Jim Rice.

Now, Murph has a chance with the veterans committee. It won’t be easy -- the veterans committee isn't anything like the open gate it was in the 1960s and 1970s. But Murph does compare well with some of the VC's choices, and he’s universally admired, so I’d say getting off this ballot and on the veterans' radar is a very good thing for Dale Murphy.

Prediction: The veterans committee is a jungle, but I do think Murphy will have his case heard.

* * *

Mark McGwire
Percentage: 16.9% (down 2.6%)
HOF Direction: Down.

Brilliant reader Brad brings up an excellent point about McGwire: He seemingly is being punished for ADMITTING using steroids.

When McGwire first went on the ballot, he got 23.5% of the vote. He got about the same percentage four years running. He was, of course, assumed to be a steroid user -- a strong assumption since he took the 5th at the Congressional hearings. And that's why he had such a low vote total. But there was no drug test, no legal issues, little but whispers and innuendo.

Then, in 2010, he admitted using steroids. There were those who questioned certain elements of his admission, but he did admit using.

The next year, his vote total dropped four points. This year, it dropped another 2.6 points.

Why? You could guess that back then there were some people who were willing to give McGwire the benefit of the doubt in the beginning … but once that doubt was erased (by his own admission) he got dropped.  You can also guess that more and more voters have become sickened by steroid use over the last three or four years. I’m sure there are other possibilities.

But, bottom line, this is a real shame. It seems to me that if we ever want to get at the truth of the steroid era -- how many were using, what it achieved, what baseball’s role was in it all, what’s the best way to stay ahead of the cheaters -- we should not be DISCOURAGING people from talking about it or confessing. We should not be sending out a message that "if you stay quiet and keep lying, that's your best shot to get into the Hall of Fame." I mean, look, I’m not saying that a confession should wipe the slate clean. But McGwire’s confession seemed to be the right thing to do … and his vote total keeps going down. Who could blame players for keeping their mouth shut?

Prediction: It seems like a steady downward spiral for Big Mac.

* * *

Don Mattingly
Percentage: 13.2% (Down 4.6%)
HOF Direction: Flat

Mattingly has two years left on the ballot. He, like Dale Murphy, was a great player but for too short a period of time for the BBWAA.

Prediction: He will age off the ballot.

* * *

Sammy Sosa
Percentage: 12.5%
HOF Direction: Way, way, way down.

If there was a big loser on this day of unhappiness, it was either Sammy Sosa or Kenny Lofton. Probably Sosa. He has 609 career home runs. He hit 60-plus homers three times in his career. He got just 12.5% of the vote. Amazing. Utterly amazing.

Prediction: At this point, Sosa is about as likely to fall off the ballot as he is to be elected to the Hall of Fame. Sosa, like Clemens and Bonds, needs a game changer.

* * *

Rafael Palmeiro
Percentage: 8.8% (Down 3.8%)
HOF Direction: Way down

A similar fall next year, and he’s off the ballot. This is a man who hit 500 homers and had 3,000 hits.

Prediction: I think he’ll stabilize and stay on the ballot, but that’s no sure thing. You almost wonder if Palmeiro would be better off coming back and playing in the majors for a game or two. That way he would wait another five years before going back on the ballot. Who knows? Maybe people will feel differently about things by then.

* * *

Bernie Williams
Percentage: 3.3%

Kenny Lofton
Percentage: 3.2%

Sandy Alomar
Percentage: 2.8%
HOF Direction: Out

Of the three big guys to fall off the ballot, the most disappointing to me is Lofton, who was just a much, much better player than people thought. It’s kind of hard to believe that Alomar, in a short and injury-plagued career, could have gotten 16 votes, but, well, he was a class act.

* * *

Julio Franco
Votes: 6

David Wells
Votes: 5

Steve Finley
Votes: 4

Shawn Green
Votes: 2

Aaron Sele
Votes: 1

Aaron Sele became a bit of a Twitter phenomenon for his one vote. Well, it was weird. David Wells’ career was much too similar to Jack Morris’ for him to get only five votes.