What we’ll learn from the Baseball Hall of Fame voting results
For much of his 20-year career, David Ortiz has captured the spotlight. From the pitchers tasked with getting him out to the fans who didn’t dare leave their seats or change channels, no one looked away when Big Papi came to bat.
This week, the world of baseball will once again look at him.
The results of the Hall of Fame vote will be revealed at 6 p.m. Tuesday, and the occasion is light on suspense. Thanks to disclosures of almost half of the electorate and the work of Ryan Thibodaux, industrious ballot tracker, it’s obvious that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens won’t get the required three-quarters majority for election in their final year of eligibility via writers’ ballots. Ditto for Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosa. And Alex Rodríguez will be far from the 75% threshold in his first year of going around.
Only Ortiz stands in the way of a second straight year without a writers’ induction. He had a favorable trend (83.6% with 166 ballots known until Saturday), but Thibodoux’s accounts show that players often do better in public ballots. The percentages usually go down when the final tally is announced, leaving Ortiz with some wiggle room, but not much.
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Either way, the results will demonstrate more than just who will be celebrated in July in Cooperstown, NY, including whether any of the seven former Phillies on the ballot have a chance of being enshrined in the future. Here’s some of what we expect to learn on Tuesday:
Longtime members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America make up the electorate, but the Hall of Fame sets the rules, from nominating voters to choosing candidates. And in 2014, the Hall decided to reduce the maximum number of years on the writers’ vote from 15 to 10.
The timing was suspicious. Bonds and Clemens, the greatest hitter and pitcher of their generation but scarred by links to performance-enhancing drugs, were entering their third year on the ballot. By shortening term limits, hasn’t the Hall of Fame reduced the likelihood that they will ever reach 75%?
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Bonds made their biggest jump in a year in 2017, rising from 44.3% to 53.8%, but meager gains since hitting 61.8% last year. Clemens has been virtually level, hitting 61.6% last year. Both had garnered just three votes among returning voters, but 11 among first-time voters through Saturday, according to Thibodoux’s charts.
At this rate, Bonds and Clemens won’t reach 75% this year. Maybe they wouldn’t have gotten there in 2027 either. Maybe most of their detractors will never change their minds. But Jim Rice was at 54.5% after his 10th ballot and did so on his 15th; Bert Blyleven seemed stuck at 47.7% in his 10th year and was elected in his 14th.
Could Bonds and Clemens have followed these paths, especially if they get closer to 65% this year? We’ll never know.
After losing 16 votes before the election last year in his ninth candidacy with the Writers, Schilling asked to be removed from the ballot. The Hall of Fame denied his request.
Now the writers are set to dismiss the former Phillies, Diamondbacks and Red Sox ace one last time.
At the start of the weekend, 23 voters were known to have removed Big Schill from their ballots after checking his name last year, turning him from a near miss into a long shot. Their motives undoubtedly vary. But voters who for years held their noses and backed Schilling for Hall despite his objectionable tweets and messages of intolerance that got him fired from an analyst job at ESPN may not no longer separate the person from the launcher.
At least Schilling will get his wish to be judged by one of 16 Hall-era committees, which are made up of Hall of Famers, executives and members of the media. But will he do better with this group?
It sure looks like that.
After debuting on the ballot in 2018 with 10.2% of the vote, Rolen rose to 17.2% in 2019, 35.3% in 2020 and 52.9% last year. He garnered 13 votes from returning voters, according to Thibodoux’s tracker, as appreciation continues to grow for his combination of 316 career homers, 122 OPS+ and eight Golden Gloves at third base.
Rolen probably won’t hit 75% this year, but it may climb above 60%. With five more years of eligibility, the only question seems to be whether his messy split from the Phillies (he was traded at the deadline in 2002) and his World Series triumph with the Cardinals in 2006 will result in a cap of St. Louis on his plate.
The hall stipulates that a candidate can stay on the ballot by voting 5% or better. It may be close, but Rollins and Abreu, in their first and third years of eligibility, are poised to eclipse that threshold. Ryan Howard, a rookie, looks likely to fail.
Rollins, in particular, has a questionable case in the Hall of Fame. While the analyst crowd criticizes him for his OPS+ (95) and wins over substitution (47.6), he holds the Phillies record for hits (2,306), snatched four gold at shortstop and was the driving force behind teams that won five consecutive division titles. , two pennants and a World Series.
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If J-Roll isn’t a Hall of Fame-level player, it’s not so much that he should join the ranks of recent undeserving one-and-dones, including Jim Edmonds and Kenny Lofton.
Also, with Bonds, Clemens, Schilling and Sosa going off the ballot and no slam-dunk newcomers next year (Carlos Beltrán would only be for his involvement in the Astros sign-stealing scandal), players such as Rollins and Abreu could receive more consideration in a less crowded field.
If neither Bonds nor Clemens, who played most of their careers in the Old West days before MLB instituted drug testing, could reach 75%, well, good luck Rodríguez. , who lied about using PEDs before being suspended for the entire 2014 season.
A-Rod trailed at 40.6% through Friday. It will be interesting to see if he can top the 36.2% bond as a ballot rookie. Voters generally seem less forgiving of cheaters who continued to cheat after baseball finally got tough. Ask Manny Ramirez.