Even though we here at LL are well ahead of the curve, already deep into HOF season, which is definitely not because I am bad at looking at a calendar, nope, today was the official release of the Hall of Fame ballot. That means votes will soon be rolling in, which means it’s time to start forwarding articles to any of the various BBWAA writers you think should maybe reconsider their votes (or just push Geoff Baker off a fishing pier). Here’s a look at the ballot this year:
On the ballot for the final time: Fred McGriff (20.9%), Tim Raines (69.8%), and Lee Smith (34.1%).
Despite having been grandfathered in before the reduction in eligible years, Smith, who is appearing on the ballot for the 14th time, faces long odds, as does McGriff. Tim Raines almost reached the 75% threshold last year, and he has a powerful ally this year in baseball writer Jonah Keri:
Oh and also: Today is Day 1 of Tim Raines HoF campaign. It's his last time on the ballot, and I'm going to do everything I can to get him in— Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri) November 3, 2016
Returning Players, +50% Division: Trevor Hoffman (68.3%)
With Mariano Rivera looming, voters may decide closers are people too and push Hoffman up over the 75% threshold. It’s only his second year on the ballot, so things are looking good for Hoffman. Hell’s Bells.
Returning Players, <50% Division: Edgar Martínez (43.4%), Mike Mussina (43%), Jeff Kent (16.6%), Larry Walker (15.5%), Gary Sheffield (11.6%), Billy Wagner (10.5%)
43.4% is so, so far short of 75%. I have a depress. Do you think Keri would be willing to take on two projects?
Returning Players, Asterisk Division: Barry Bonds (44.3%), Roger Clemens (45.2%), Curt Schilling (52.3%), Sammy Sosa (7.0%). Possible: Jeff Bagwell (71.6%).
In all likelihood, Bagwell—who was never confirmed as a steroid user—will make it in this year. As for the rest, the voters continue to be lukewarm on players with steroid or character baggage, which doesn’t bode super-well for:
Newcomers, Asterisk Division: Manny Ramírez, Iván Rodríguez
These are also two of the strongest candidates in the 2017 freshman class, but if voting trends stay consistent, neither of them will walk into the Hall on their first turn, if ever. Rodríguez wasn’t ever definitively linked to PED use, but Ramírez was basically forced into retirement by a second positive test. It will be interesting to see if Pudge suffers from sharing a ballot for the first time with Ramírez.
Newcomers, Potential First Ballot Division: Vladimir Guerrero, Jorge Posada
Vlad is the fourth-ranked Dominican player of all-time and figures to either get in this year or the next. Posada didn’t have stellar defense, but as one of the all-time hitting catchers who played on multiple World Series teams
Newcomers, Old Friends Division: Arthur Rhodes, Mike Cameron, Carlos Guíllen
Newcomers, “Oh yeah, that guy” Division: Tim Wakefield, Édgar Renteria, Jason Varitek, Orlando Cabrera, J.D. Drew, Freddy Sanchez, Pat Burrell, Matt Stairs, Derrek Lee, Magglio Ordonez, Casey Blake, Melvin Mora.
These guys probably won’t get in, but you never know when a knuckleballer (Wakefield) or a “clutch”-hitting-shortstop (Rentería) will create waves in the voting.
Who would get your votes, if you had them to give? (Aside from the popular “push Geoff Baker off a fishing pier” option, I mean.)
*If you’re curious about the ballot pictured in the heading to this article, Carter Gaddis broke down his voting philosophy in an article on his site.