Why this year's Baseball Hall Of Fame Class is so big

This year's Baseball Hall of Fame class is big. Like, one of the biggest in decades big. Four players were elected to the Hall by the Baseball Writers Association of America and two more by a special committee. 

Sixteen players have made the Baseball Hall of Fame in the past five years, so you can understand why some folks are worried the Hall is getting watered down. But there's evidence the process is actually getting stricter. Here's how that's possible. 

Thanks to Dave Cameron of FanGraphs and statistician James Smyth, we know a player born in the '70s is more than half as likely to make the Hall as a player born in the '40s. And the percentage of Hall of Famers has dropped every decade since the '40s.

So, why the change? A lot of it has to do with baseball's biggest elephant in the room: steroids. 

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2018 Baseball Hall of Fame inductees
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2018 Baseball Hall of Fame inductees

Chipper Jones

(Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

ATLANTA, GA - CIRCA 1993: Chipper Jones #10 of the Atlanta Braves looks on from the dugout during an Major League Baseball game circa 1993 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. Jones played for the Braves from 1993-2012. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Trevor Hoffman 

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

24 Feb. 1996: San Diego Padres pitcher Trevor Hoffman (51) posses for a photograph during Padres team photo day at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria Arizona. (Photo By John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Jim Thome

(Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 15: Jim Thome of the Cleveland Indians reacts to hitting a two-run homer off of Seattle Mariners pitcher Chris Bosio in the sixth inning of game five of the American League Championship Series at Jacobs Field in Cleveland, Ohio 15 October. The home run gave the Indians a 3-2 lead. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read BRIAN BAHR/AFP/Getty Images)

Vladimir Guerrero

 (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

4 May 1997: Right fielder Vladimir Guerrero #27 of the Montreal Expos sits in the dugout during a game against the San Diego Padres at QualComm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Expos won the game 9-3. Mandatory Credit: Todd Warshaw /Allsport
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Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were two of the greatest players ever by any statistic, but they both almost surely took steroids, so they still haven't been elected after six years on the ballot. 

Recent inductees Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza also were rumored to have used steroids during their playing days, hurting their vote totals and likely delaying their inductions.

This is important because of another quirk in the process — writers can only vote for 10 Hall of Famers per year. This means when guys like Bonds and Clemens get stuck on the ballot, there's less room for other players.

There's data to back this up. Ryan Thibodaux's Hall of Fame Tracker keeps record of all the writers who made their ballot public. The day after the voting results were announced, nearly 59 percent of public ballots voted for 10 players. Many of those writers said they'd have rather voted for more. 

See all of the names that were on this year's ballot: 

33 PHOTOS
Players on the 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot
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Players on the 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot
Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants during 2002 game in Los Angeles, Calif. (Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images)
HOUSTON - OCTOBER 17: Starting pitcher Chris Carpenter #29 of the St. Louis Cardinals flips the ball to first base for the out against the Houston Astros during Game Five of the National League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 17, 2005 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
BRONX, NY - APRIL 13: Pitcher Roger Clemens #22 of the New York Yankees throws against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays during the game at Yankee Stadium on April 13, 2003 in the Bronx, New York. The Devil Rays defeated the Devil Rays 2-1. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
BOSTON - OCTOBER 24: Johnny Damon #18 of the Boston Red Sox bats against the St. Louis Cardinals during game two of the 2004 World Series on October 24, 2004 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Vladimir Guerrero of the Anaheim Angels during 2-0 loss to the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., on September 18, 2004. (Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: Florida Marlins starting pitcher Livan Hernandez flips the ball in frustration after letting a pop fly off the bat of New York Mets rightfielder Bobby Bonilla land between him and third baseman Dave Berg in the fourth inning 12 April, 1999 at Shea Stadium in New York. The Mets beat the Marlins 8-1. AFP PHOTO/Matt CAMPBELL (Photo credit should read MATT CAMPBELL/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING - MARCH 14: Pitcher Trevor Hoffman of the San Diego Padres in action during the 2008 Major League Baseball (MLB) China Series training at Beijing's Wukesong Stadium on March 14, 2008 in Beijing, China. The San Diego Padres will face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first-ever Major League baseball games played in China. The two teams will meet at Beijing's Wukesong Stadium on March 15 and 16. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Second baseman Orlando Hudson #1 of the Arizona Diamondbacks fields a ground ball against the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 22, 2006 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles,California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 20: Aubrey Huff #17 of the San Francisco Giants at bat against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on September 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 26: Jason Isringhausen #44 of the St. Louis Cardinals delivers the pitch against the Cincinnati Reds on April 26, 2007 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cards beat the Reds 7-5. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Atlanta Braves center fielder Andruw Jones (25) at bat during the Atlanta Braves 9-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Andy Altenburger/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images)
ATLANTA - AUGUST 14: Chipper Jones #10 of the Atlanta Braves to first base for the out against the Chicago Cubs at Turner Field on August 14, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - APRIL 7: Second baseman Jeff Kent #21 of the San Francisco Giants rounds the bases after his fifth inning home run during the MLB game against the San Diego Padres on April 7, 2002 at Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco, California. The Giants won 10-1. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 17: Carlos Lee #45 of the Houston Astros runs to first base after hitting the ball in the game against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark on June 17, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. The Texas Rangers defeated the Houston Astros 9-3. (Photo by John Williamson/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA , PA - JULY 27: Brad Lidge #54 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches against the San Francisco Giants at Citizens Bank Park on July 27, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by L Redkoles/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 20: Edgar Martinez #11 of the Seattle Mariners during a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles on May 20, 1997 at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 22: Former New York Yankee Hideki Matsui participates during the teams Old Timers Day prior to a game between the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium on June 22, 2014 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
6 Mar 1997: First basemen Fred McGriff of the Atlanta Braves smiles during a preseason game against the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The Mets won the game 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn /Allsport
6 Oct 1999: Kevin Millwood #34 of the Atlanta Braves pitches the ball during the game against the Houston Astros at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia. The Braves defeated the Astros 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons /Allsport
NEW YORK - MAY 25: Jamie Moyer #52 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches against the New York Mets on May 25, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
BRONX, NY - MAY 24: Mike Mussina #35 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium on May 24, 2008 in the Bronx, New York. The Yankees won 12-6. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Sportschrome/Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 08: Manny Ramirez #24 of the Boston Red Sox runs against the Detroit Tigers on April 8,2008 during Opening Day at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
DETROIT - OCTOBER 22: Scott Rolen #27 of the St. Louis Cardinals fields a ball a double play ball hit by Ivan Rodriguez #7 of the Detroit Tigers during Game Two of 2006 World Series October 22, 2006 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Cardinals 3-1 to tie the series 1-1. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Johan Santana #57 of the New York Mets celebrates after pitching a no hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field on June 1, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Johan Santana pitches the first no hitter in Mets history. Mets defeated the Cardinals 8-0. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
BOSTON - OCTOBER 25: Curt Schilling #38 of the Boston Red Sox tips his hat to the crowd as he comes out of the game in the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies during Game Two of the 2007 Major League Baseball World Series at Fenway Park on October 25, 2007 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 05: Gary Sheffield #11 of the New York Yankees tosses the ball to pitcher Mike Mussina #35 to make the play against the Detroit Tigers in the third inning of Game Two of the American League Division Series on October 5, 2006 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx Borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 18: Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs bats against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field on September 18, 1998 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images)
14 Apr 2000: Jim Thome #25 of the Cleveland Indians looks on from the dugout during the game against the Texas Rangers at Jacobs Field in Cleveland, Ohio. The Rangers defeated the Indians 7-2.
7 Mar 2002: Omar Vizquel #13 of the Cleveland Indians fields the ball against the Atlanta Braves during the spring training game at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 26: Houston Astros closer Billy Wagner pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ninth inning, 26 June 2001, in Phoenix. The Astros won 10-7. (Photo credit should read MIKE FIALA/AFP/Getty Images)
Colorado Rockies Larry Walker catches a fly ball from Los Angeles Dodgers Adrian Beltre at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado on July 26, 2004. (Photo by Jon Soohoo/Getty Images)
Chicago Cubs closer Kerry Wood. The Chicago Cubs defeated the Colorado Rockies 10-9 at Wrigley Field in Chicago .. (Photo by Mark Cowan /Icon SMI/Corbis via Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 12: Pitcher Carlos Zambrano #38 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on August 12, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
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There was also a run on small classes before this recent surge. Only 11 players made the Hall from 2007 to 2013. That year the writers didn't elect any players at all, largely because of steroid concerns for many of the players on the ballot. 

SEE MORE: How 'Japan's Babe Ruth' May Revolutionize American Baseball

So if you're unhappy about waiting for all the players' speeches to get done on induction day, just think of this as the Hall of Fame making up for some lost time.

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