This is part two of a two-part series. For part one, click here.
Whether Clemens and bonds get in on the 2020 ballot or afterward remains to be seen, but I think they’ll both get in eventually. After 2019, there will be a lack of good Hall of Fame candidates entering the ballot for the first time. For example, I think Jeter is going to be the only first-ballot HOFer between 2020 and 2022, which means that this is a time when holdovers should be making a dent in the voting.
Barry Bonds, CF, SF (Eighth ballot)
Bonds is another one of those guys I could spend one or more posts talking about. He did so many ridiculous things in his career, but unlike Jeter, he was tangled up in PEDs. I’ve talked about my stance on PED players entering the Hall, and you can read more about that elsewhere on the blog, so I’ll just summarize why I think Bonds will make it in 2021.
I want to preface this by saying that there’s a solid possibility he gets pushed back to 2021 or 2022, but he’ll definitely get in before his eligibility runs out. Bonds has gained 17% over the past two years of voting, and if that upward trend continues he should make it in either 2019 or 2020. I’ll talk more about Bonds’ and Clemens’ balloting situation in Clemens’ blurb, but just know that Bonds and Clemens have been within 2% of one another in each of their first five elections. Bonds was a fantastic player, a no-doubt first-balloter, until his PED allegations came to light, and the writers are punishing him accordingly. He’ll get in, though. Triple slash: .298/.444/.607; 762 HR; 514 SB; 2935 Hits in 22 seasons. All-time leader in HR, walks (2558) and intentional walks (688), MLB-record seven MVP awards, 3rd all-time in runs scored (2227), 4th all-time in WAR and OPS (1.051), 5th all-time in SLG% (.607) and RBI (1996), 6th all-time in OBP(.444). Single-season record for BB and IBB, OBP, SLG%, OPS.
Roger Clemens, RHP, Bos (Eighth ballot)
Say what you will about The Rocket, but there’s no doubt that he was phenomenal when he was in the MLB. This comes with a caveat: Clemens is a steroid user. He never technically failed a test, but his former trainer, Brian McNamee, has talked frequently, and to many different outlets, about Clemens’ steroid use. Clemens was a user, and if you don’t think he belongs in the Hall of Fame, you’re entitled to your opinion. But the BBWAA gets to decide if he belongs in the Hall, and I think they’ll put him there in 2020.
On the 2017 ballot, Clemens received 54.1% of the vote, and he’s gained nearly 17% over the past two ballots (he got 37.5% in 2015). He probably won’t gain as much in 2018 because of the logjam of Hall of Fame talents (Chipper, Thome, Scott Rolen, Andruw Jones, Johnny Damon, and Omar Vizquel) but after the 2018 ballot has passed, Clemens’ chances go up a lot. I think 2020 will be the year. ERA: 3.12; WHIP: 1.173; K/9: 8.6; 354 Wins and 4916.2 IP in 24 seasons. All-time leader in Cy Young Awards (7) and WAR among pitchers in the live-ball era; Third all-time in strikeouts (4672).
Derek Jeter, SS, NYY (First ballot)
The Captain has a resume so loaded that it would take an entire blog post (maybe multiple) to detail all of the amazing things he has done in his career. Jeter has a high chance of being the first unanimous Hall of Famer ever, though it’s no guarantee considering that three people didn’t vote for Griffey.
Not only was Jeter one of the greatest players ever, he was an iron man; Jeter only played fewer than 140 games four times in his career, and one of those was the 1995 season when he was a September call-up. Former Yankees’ scout Dick Groch said the following when asked about whether Jeter would fulfill his commitment to play baseball at the University of Michigan: “The only place [Jeter] is going is Cooperstown.” He wasn’t wrong. Triple slash: .310/.377/.440; 260 HR; 358 SB; 3465 Hits in 20 seasons. 6th all-time in hits, 11th all-time in runs scored, 14 all-star selections, 5 WS rings.
Notable 2020 newcomers: Jason Giambi (1B, Oak); Alfonso Soriano (2B/LF, NYY); Cliff Lee (LHP, Cle); Bobby Abreu (RF, Phi); Paul Konerko (1B, CWS); Adam Dunn (1B, Cin).
2020 “Why are you on the ballot?” guys: Marco Scutaro, Jamey Wright, Joe Saunders, Kyle Farnsworth, Brad Penny.
As I mentioned before, I think 2020-2022 are when the holdovers start to get in. 2021 is no exception: Schilling makes the Hall.
Curt Schilling, RHP, Phi (Ninth ballot)
I discussed Schilling in two prior posts (2017 HOF ballot, Why Schilling should be in the Hall) so I’m not going to just restate everything I have said there. Schilling actually lost 7.3% of the vote from 2016 to 2017 (52.3-45.0), but we can chalk that up to his Twitter profile. I would imagine his antics will not continue, but even if they do, writers will eventually come to their senses and recognize that what Curt says and does after his career has no bearing on what went on during his career. Don’t give me any of that nonsense with the character clause, because there are alcoholics, PED users, and gamblers in the Hall now, so that’s a terrible justification for leaving him off the ballot. Curt will be in before his eligibility expires. ERA: 3.46; WHIP: 1.137; K/9: 8.6; 216 Wins and 3261 IP in 20 seasons.
Notable 2021 newcomers: Aramis Ramirez (3B, ChC); Tim Hudson (RHP, Oak); Mark Buehrle (LHP, CWS); Torii Hunter (CF, Min).
2021 “Why are you on the ballot?” guys: Skip Schumaker, Kevin Gregg, Jeremy Affeldt, Jason Marquis.
The jury is still out on whether A-Rod and Ortiz will make it into the Hall because of their PED use. People seem to have forgotten, though, that Ortiz failed a drug test while in the big leagues. I think both A-Rod and Ortiz end up in Cooperstown, but I don’t expect either of them to be in on the first ballot. 2022 is going to be yet another year of holdover inductions. And the further out we get, the more difficult it gets to project the elections.
Todd Helton, 1B, Col (Fourth ballot)
If 2017 tells us anything about Helton’s potential induction, it’s that it won’t be an easy path for the former Rockies’ 1B. Players who play their entire careers in Coors are not looked upon favorably by the BBWAA, and that’s reflected in Larry Walker‘s vote totals thus far. Gold Gloves aren’t a great measure of fielding ability, but Helton was a solid fielder all through his career in addition to having a great bat, and you can get a glimpse into his great baseball mind from this play.
Helton holds just about every franchise record imaginable for the Rockies (for hitters, at least) and had one of the best seven-year peaks of any first baseman ever (he sits 10th in WAR7, higher than HOFers Willie McCovey, Cap Anson, Harmon Killebrew, and Eddie Murray.) He also met or exceeded each of the following marks in every season from 1999-2004: .320 batting average, 39 doubles, 30 home runs, 107 runs scored, 96 RBI, .577 slugging percentage and .981 on-base plus slugging. His 2000 season was one for the record books: .372/.463/.698 triple slash, 216 hits, 59 doubles, 147 RBI and 42 HR (all NL-leading except HR.) I expect him to be the first Colorado Rockies player to get inducted into the HOF, and the only reason he has to wait until his fourth ballot is because of the Coors effect. Triple slash: .316/.414/.539; 369 HR; 2519 Hits in 17 seasons.
Mike Mussina, RHP, Bal (Ninth ballot)
I talked about Moose in my 2017 HOF ballot a bit. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking to even expect Moose to get in. In his career, he was statistically worse than Schilling, but he garnered more of the vote in 2017 than Schilling did (51.8 to 45.0), which bodes well for his HOF chances. He also has one more year remaining than Schilling, Bonds, and Clemens, all of whom should make it. If Moose doesn’t make it in 2021 or 2022, I’m extremely confident that he will get in on his tenth and final ballot in 2023 with Schilling, Bonds, and Clemens all off the ballot. ERA: 3.68; WHIP: 1.192; K/9: 7.1; 3562.2 IP in 18 seasons.
Omar Vizquel, SS, SF (Fifth ballot)
Vizquel is a curious case because it remains to be seen whether he will make it into the HOF at all. He was below average for his career in terms of offense, but he was one of the best defensive shortstops to ever play the game. In terms of defensive WAR, he’s in the same neighborhood as Luis Aparicio, and both Aparicio and Vizquel made similar contributions on offense throughout their careers. Aparicio was elected on his sixth ballot (1984), so I don’t think it’s too far-fetched for Vizquel to make it in on his fifth. Here’s a comparison of Vizquel and Aparicio during their careers: As you can see, their numbers are extremely similar. Aparicio was a bit better on offense on a per-game basis, but Vizquel has higher counting stats during his career in most of the categories, which bodes well for his HOF chances. His overall WAR number is not overwhelming, but I think Vizquel is as good a candidate as Aparicio, and his longevity in the MLB certainly helps his case. Triple slash: .272/.336/.352; 404 SB; 2877 Hits in 24 seasons. 11 Gold Gloves.
Notable 2022 newcomers: Prince Fielder (DH, Tex); Alex Rodriguez (SS/3B, NYY); David Ortiz (DH, Bos).
2022 “Why are you on the ballot?” guys: Too far out to forecast.
(Image credit: Associated Press via Yankees.com)